The glory of… defeat.

two wolves

The Tale of Two Wolves.

This could be the title of my life. And not just my life – ALL of our lives. It is balance, it’s nature, it’s glory, it’s fear… it’s a warning. The story is quite old and is often represented by a lighter colored wolf (let’s say white) and a darker wolf (let’s say gray).

The story goes:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

In my past I would have immediately jumped to wanting to say that I desired to live in the realm of the white wolf. I blame it on programming. When a person is asked if they see themselves as mostly good or mostly evil, chances are that they will say they are good. It is a desirable trait and something that is rewarded in our society. It is natural to want to get along and be a part of the tribe. It guarantees your survival.

It is interesting to note that the legend does not dictate if it is the white, or black, wolf that is “good”. They are interchangeable. Both the gray and white wolves hold each other in balance and cannot be mutually exclusive. They’re what quantum physicists called entangled. What is “good” without the knowledge of “bad”? How would you describe it?

I”m not so sure that I would want to live in a world that was ONLY one way or the other. “Peace on earth”? All joy and no pain. All up and no down?

In meditation, the goal is not just to be blissed out, sending yourself to another dimension. The point, the reason to practice, is awareness and with that awareness, coming back into the world to “be” what you have learned. Spending too much time in the ether does not create balance – it creates divisiveness.

This got me thinking about the idea of enlightenment. More importantly, knowledge without wisdom. Zipping right to the top of the Zen food chain.

It is a lofty idea to want to become one with the universe and fall into a state of flow. But what is the use of that person if 1) they stay there or 2) they got there without doing the work it took to obtain this state? Can you imagine the feeling of surfing a 30 foot wave, but never getting in the water? It wouldn’t be worth it. Without the “work”, which I would argue is the gray wolf, what good is any enlightenment you gain? There are too many stories of people who have only gained their “a-ha” moment after something indescribably horrible happened. A plane crash, losing a loved one, losing a limb, war, cancer. How can this be explained in a world that preaches “THINK POSITIVE”?

The point, obviously, is that even when bad things happen you should try to see the silver lining. But we aren’t taught this. When our kids do something wrong, they do not rejoice. They have observed what adults do and show the shame in their apparent mistake. We don’t let kids take risks. We monitor everything. They wear helmets. They all get trophies. We protect they’re feelings. Have you ever thought of the damage you could do to someone by NOT allowing them the pain of learning that they’re entitled to?!

I’ve often think of this as I pass a stalled car on the interstate and then a short time later, seeing the owner carrying an empty gas can as they sweat in the summer heat, bullied by the wind of the passing cars. If I picked them up, what would I have robbed them of? Is it the up the right thing to do (white wolf) or does it only serve my ego as I see myself as a good person (gray wolf)?

Where in your life are you robbing someone of this opportunity? Where are you robbing yourself of the glory of defeat?

Here’s Jason Silva‘s take on it. Enjoy the ride!

Limits

Mallory is a wonderful writer and an absolute joy to be around. I highly recommend checking out her recent article on “Limits”. It’s about setting, knowing, and embracing the things we like about ourselves as well as the character traits that cause our own unique gremlin to play havoc between our ears.

It resonates nicely with something that I touched on in a previous post.

Take care!

Source: Limits

!gnihtyreve noitseuQ

Capture.PNG

Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Maybe we are going about this all wrong. Smh.

Is life about answers or questions? Answers! Right? We want to know what our purpose is. Why we are here. The answer to the eternal question: “What is the meaning of life?”!

Or, maybe not.

Shunryu Suzuki said that “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”. We go to grade school and colleges to be experts. We hone our skills at a single thing. Definite in our purpose. This is it! I will be a ________ and live happily ever after.

Or, maybe not.

This brings up an interesting argument. If someone “finds their purpose”, have they sort of reached an end? The short answer is that I don’t know.

I’m in the middle of the book “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Berger. He provides example after example of innovation created out of asking a simple question, which usually goes something like “how can I do this better?”. The question is never “how can THEY do it better” as this is a path to nowhere. A circular argument (i.e. don’t outsource the problem, ask a better question).

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers” – Anthony Robbins

Answers are a commodity which are bought and sold. And they are in abundance! . Why should we send kids to school to be excellent answerers? Famously, when Albert Einstein was asked by a reporter what was his phone number, he quickly proceeded to the nearest phone book to find the answer. The interviewer asked how a man so smart could not remember his phone number, to which he replied “why would I memorize something that is so readily available”. I have jumbled the quote, but the point is made. Does this sound like anything we know? I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with “Shmoogle”.

An entire Ivy League degree can be learned online. So what is the point of an expert? Have you ever noticed that in order to get the best answer from Google, the question you ask it is undeniably intertwined with the result that is produced. If you type “what is evolution” into a search, you will receive definitions and examples. But if what you really wanted to know was about the argument for (or against) evolution being taught in public schools, your query better be more specific.

So why teach for answers? Why not teach for questions?

Neotany
nēˈät(ə)nē/
ne·ot·e·ny
noun {ZOOLOGY}
  1. the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal

We need bold question askers! When we were 4 years old, we asked a billion questions. Now at 44, we just ask for the bill.

Namaste y’all.

#acwt

“I support whatever works, as long as you don’t hurt anybody else.” Jason Silva

I’m sitting here in my car just before going into work. The temperature is cool this morning (50s, which is odd for June), but the rising sun is beginning to heat the earth, I sit here in my nice warm fleece feeling the ultraviolet rays settling on my skin. The sky is blue and free of clouds, the green leaves on the trees sparkle like jewels. And I’m about to go into a large, gray box for the day.

My soul recoils, frightened by the cold reality of time.

I sometimes go on rants as an excuse. An excuse as to why I am still here, or perhaps a plea for help. I grant you, this is complaining. Complaining about what I have, or have not, done.

The path at forward is the path inward. Which sounds cliché and woo woo, but it begins with making a decision about laying one single brick at a time. I realize that I am talking to myself.

It’s laborious and long… my brow sweats. Is it fear? Fear that somehow time will catch up to me? Feat that I’m on the wrong path? The, quote/unquote fear of success?

I am done with fear.

Namaste y’all.

🙂

Is it a rut… or a groove?

42-ford-mustang-slot-car-trackThis morning, driving to work there was a faint smell coming into the car from the interstate that reminded me of the smell of the race track my brother and I used to have when we were kids. I believe it was made by Tyco and it had a red Trans Am and a Police car with working lights. The track was an electric race and the smell of ozone filled the air as the Trans Am and police car chased each other around in a circle along the track. We’d play with that thing for hours until some part inevitably broke or we got bored.

The cars is stayed in place by directing a small plastic piece, part of their undercarriage, into a groove along the lines of the track that they were in. Sometimes they flew off and we laughed with the delight as the car went barreling into the carpet. But sometimes they went around real fast, making a fantastic whizzing sound, taking the corners like a professional racer might. Sometimes we put up obstacles they had to crash through. We had a blast!

There’s an old saying that a rut is a grave with the ends knocked out. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and not know where to go, continually going around and around the track, again and again and again. A lot of it has to do with how you view the current predicament. Do you see it as a rut, are you do you see it as a groove? It depends. Are the race cars in a rut? Or are they in the most perfect groove to allow them to be exactly what they were meant to be?

The race track has an obvious symbolic resemblance to life: samsara, Yin and Yang, alpha and omega, dark and light. Pretty much any metaphor you want to put with it.

Round and round. Round and round.

The cars were meant to go round and round as fast as they could, with as much precision as they could, supplying as much fun as possible to two young boys. They exhibited their divine purpose. Should they be judged? Should they judge themselves?

No. There is acceptance. A knowing.

fish

I once saw a cartoon drawing of two fish in a bowl. A daddy fish and a baby fish. The daddy fish says “You can be anything you want to be – no limits”. The irony being that the fish could not obviously get out of the bowl. It was meant to strike a chord, one way or the other, of either sympathy or realization. Yes, it sad that the fish has limitations – it cannot get out of the bowl. And if did get out of the bowl, what would happen (assuming he’s not taking Nemo’s route to the Pacific Ocean)? Likely it was shortly die. it depends on the bowl. Synchronistically, the bowl depends on the fish as well (a bowl with out a fish is, well, just a bowl). This goes back to the glass half-full half-empty scenario everyone is heard of 1 million times as well as the interconnectivity of all things. But perspective can sometimes be illusive and we tend to ruminate over our current lot in life. Or situation. Or eating habits. We say things like “this is just me”. “I can’t change the world”. “What good what it do?”. “Who am I?”.

Any rut can be at groove. And any groove can be a rut.

This is not to say that you should simply be satisfied with what you’ve got, what’s been handed to you, and the direction you’re going. Sharks die if they are not constantly moving. Joie de vivre! Victor Frankel did not settle on the fact that he was a prisoner of war during the Holocaust. He was in the groove, while the rest of his compatriots were in a rut. The groove doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be manicured. You must be an active participant.

The monotony of daily life, the 9 to 5, daily traffic, the “rat race”, crib to coffin. Can you imagine a lifetime in prison? Of being a person constructed of the daily barrage of: “I should do this”,  “I shouldn’t do that”,  “I could’ve done this”,  “I could’ve done that”,  “I wish”,  “I hoped”. If these words have become part of your vocabulary, it may be a subtle hint that you’re in a rut. Maybe not entirely, maybe only for the moment. But it’s a signal to help guide you on your way to the next big thing, to the change that you were looking for in your life to get you into your groove.

The groove doesn’t have to be bells and whistle’s, roses and birthday cake, all the time. It has ups and downs. What it has, however… what it has the rut does not have, is mission. Is purpose.  Is hope. Is an ease.

My challenge for the reader today is to look for the places that remind you and hold you in your groove. Notice where your language takes you, and how it can turn you away from the groove (or towards it). And when you notice it, don’t judge, don’t beat yourself up, don’t pat yourself on the back.

Just notice.

What’s in your pocket?

jeansAs a child, I was taught that you can tell a lot about a man by the contents of his pockets. My grandfather, a southern gentleman from South Carolina who routinely wore overalls or baggy jeans, always had something interesting in his deep, denim pockets. During the summer or when the weather was nice, he had a routine of walking to the store, or just down his street where he would routinely pick up trinkets and treasures along the way. Oftentimes it was just a penny or a shiny piece of glass, others it was the lead from car tires (used in balancing) which we would melt with a blowtorch into all kinds of peculiar shapes. Or it was pieces of plastic that he would make into handles for his well-worn tools. And he always carried a pocket knife, some of which I was lucky enough to inherit when he passed.

These days, my pockets don’t have anything very interesting in them other than a phone and some credit cards. On the weekend I do carry a pocket knife, which has 1,001 uses during weekend duties or when a lime needs to be dissected. I have one pair of pants that has had a shark tooth in it for years from a beach trip we took with the kids. It’s a good memory and I am always amazed when I reach down there and find it. By now it should have been eaten by the washing machine.

We carry with us the things we need or think we need. Or things that interest us. As a former boy scout, our motto was “Be Prepared”, which has led me to a lifetime of hoarding many things in my garage, much to the chagrin of my wife. She’d throw away everything if she got the chance and I have come home after being away for a long weekend only to ask “hey, where did that old, broken Coke bottle go?”

I collect many more things in my virtual pocket. The apps I keep, the news I consume, the shows I watch, the things in nature that catch my eye, the books I have on the shelf. The things I can’t hold. The things that are not physical but create an image. The things that grab my attention (ooh! That’s shiny!).

Attention. Funny word. Attention is the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important and it’s not to be taken lightly. Some things can take your attention for 20 years or longer, only to leave you with an empty feeling and nothing in your pocket.

I ask myself:

  • Where is your focus going?
  • What is it about Facebook that keeps you coming back?
  • What TV shows are you interested in and why?
  • When you’re in nature, what draws your eye?
  • Do you like helping people? Why? Why not?

Growing up, we are taught that life is linear.

Pre-school – elementary school – middle school – high school – college – grad school – job – marriage/relationship – retirement – death.

If we are lucky, truly lucky, we will have a person or event break the pattern to help us become aware of what we truly want. Not what our parents have or the Jones’ have, but what WE want. And can you honestly answer this question? This simple and mundane question.

What do you want?

 

Here’s a clue. You are reading it right now. It’s the thing that grabbed you, that stopped you. Your time is precious. You came here for a reason. It’s either to read this and feel better about yourself because my writing is crap, or you know me, or… and this is even more subtle and nefarious… you are curious.

Look what’s in your pocket. Is it what you want?

Epic story

tortola

-Epic Story-

“Perfect” will never be the discussion to describe our love.

Messy mornings, silent days, interrupted evenings. The moon in zenith.

Never getting the chance to say that word one longed to be said all day. In my thoughts, in my ear, but the words from my mouth never to “here”.

The touch of your hand. The crease of your smile. The inside joke. No body or mind knows the dark and clear crystal waters our souls invoke.

Fallibility. Our exquisite risk of love. Sometimes spread too thin. Oftentimes, overwhelmingly, peanut-buttery thick.

Brushing the intrepid curls from your face as you begin your sleep. A lump in my throat, a sign of the promise that I am yours…

Soul to soul. King to Queen. Frequencies in orbit.

The two became love; the love became marriage; marriage became trepidation; trepidation became ease; ease became strength; strength turned the 2 to 1.

-Epic story-