Seeing the best in life's challenges

A Birthday Card

I received this birthday card.  Reading it blew me away.  Brought tears to my eyes.


Today the age of Fifty will be redefined 

By someone who truly is One of a Kind…

Not “over the hill,” but “on top of the mountain” —

That kind of youth doesn’t come from a fountain,

But flows from a heart that is caring and giving,

Dreams that are dared, a passion for living —

From tears and laughter with no room for regrets…

And a smile that says, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”


I feel SO understood.  And so loved.

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David Lynch on Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain

Well, I just learned how to insert a link properly….I think….

David Lynch on Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain

A friend posted this video of David Lynch … he says:

If you have a golf ball size consciousness, when you read a book, you will have a golf ball size understanding…when you look out, a golf ball size awareness…and when you wake up in the morning, a golf ball size wakefulness.

But if you could  expand that consciousness, then you read the book, more understanding; you look out, more awareness; and when you wake up, more wakefulness.

It’s consciousness, and there’s an ocean of pure vibrant consciousness inside each one of us and it’s right at the source and base of mind, right at the source of thought, and it’s also at the source of all matter.

The film I AM talks about another aspect of this.  In that film, the author Lynne McTaggert is interviewed.  Her book, The Field, is an amazing explanation of the science behind the study of consciousness, and it is written in a way that is very understandable.

When these concepts are first encountered, they may seem a little wacky and foreign.

Another analogy that comes to mind…think of it as kids who are all in different grades in school.  As a first grader, there is a simple understanding of math.  It’s where the child is in their stage of development.  As they grow, they learn more and more, they understand more and more.

There is no judgment associated with a child being in first grade.  It’s more important for that child that they are placed appropriately, learning the math concepts that first graders learn.  We don’t push them to do fourth grade or tenth grade math.  The high schoolers don’t look down on them.  They are in the right place for them.

Conversely, the first graders don’t get mad at the seniors, who are taking calculus.  They just know that that is what you do when you get to that stage.  There is nothing “right” or “wrong” in this process….each child is just where they need to be.  The only concern would be, if the child stagnated in the process and stopped learning.  Then, we would want to help that child overcome whatever hurdle was keeping them from progressing further.

Just food for thought… 🙂

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Shining Like the Sun! by Tom Shadyac

The following is straight from  It is a blog post written by Tom Shadyac.

His film, I Am, is now On Demand….if you haven’t seen it, it’s AMAZING!



Everyday, we are assaulted with messages, images, slogans, and sound bites, that tell us of our inadequacies, the sad state of affairs that is you and me:  “With this product, you can lose weight, with this one, you can gain muscle; if your breasts sag, our bra lifts them up; if you have wrinkles, this cream irons them out; if you’re sad, we have a pill that will make you happy; if you’re too happy, we have a pill that will bring you down; if you’re not as much of a man as you used to be, this pill will straighten you out (literally!).  And everyone who’s anyone has itunes, the iphone, and the ipad, am iclear?

And we participate in this maddening chatter unaware, telling our kids that in order to succeed they have to get the best grades, get into the right school, and get the right job.  We tell them that one day they must stop all this horsing around and get serious with their lives; we ask them who they are going to be when they grow up, warning them that life is all down hill after 22, declaring college the best four years of their lives; and finally, if they are lucky, they just might make something of themselves in this dog eat dog world.  It’s enough to stress you out completely – but of course there’s a pill that can fix that, too.

Is this how life really is?  Is our identity simply conditional and fragile?  Is who we are really defined by the things we own, our job status, and the social circles we run in?

The mystics, those saints and sages who saw through to the inner workings of reality, proclaimed something very different.   A little background here:  The word “mystic” comes from the Latin word, “mysterium”, from which we also get the word, mystery.  Thus, a mystic is one who sees into the mystery.  So what exactly did the mystics see?  And what does their vision of reality reveal about who and what we are?

Here’s what Thomas Merton said, after decades of meditation and contemplation:  “As if the sorrows and stupidities of the world could overwhelm me now that I realize what we all are.  I wish everyone could realize this, but there is no way of telling people they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Shining like the sun.  That’s you.  He didn’t say, shining like the sun after you can afford the new electric Chevy Volt.  He didn’t say, shining like the sun after your bust gets lifted.  What he said was, right now, in this moment, with all of your imperfections, with all of your challenges in the temporal, with all of your worldly failures and successes, you are walking around shining like the sun!

Merton goes one step further with this concluding insight: “I am finally coming to the realization that my greatest ambition is to be what I already am.” Wait a minute.  What about worldly status and success and power?  Merton saw through all of that, and invites us to do the same.  Can you imagine?  What a lesson to embrace, to embody and even, to teach; to declare to our kids they don’t have to be someone, they already are someone.   Now the cynic will undoubtedly rise up and warn that this will poison our youth; they will be so inflated with their own identity, they will surely sit back and do nothing.  Quite the opposite is true.  This knowledge compels those it touches, Jesus, Gandhi, St. Francis, Mother Theresa, Rumi, and Hafiz, to walk with power, to use their talents for the good of all, without the drag of invented pressure to measure up to some arbitrary social standard.

You see, (and it is a matter of sight!), what we are telling ourselves, the command to succeed and be someone, is just a story; it’s a story based on expectations.   It’s temporal and finite.  It is not who you really are.  The Sufi mystic, Meera, wisely said:“You cannot play your role in time, until you know who you are in eternity.” And who you are is a drop in the ocean of divinity.  Inside you is starlight.  Inside you is the same infinite energy that created the universe.  As the modern mystic, Irwin Kula, knew, “Everything is god in drag.”

So the next time you’re told you need to be somebody, rest in the knowledge that you already are.  Hafiz implores us to wake up to this truth when he says: “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” Now what iphone or ipad, what present day pill or product can deliver that?

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Conceptual vs. Linear Thinking

(note:  I wrote some more on the topic more recently: Looking Toward the Future:  Linear vs. Conceptual Views.)

I was listening to something the other day, that spoke about the idea that more kids these days are born “conceptual” thinkers.  They already see the big picture, they already intuitively understand things.  The suggestion was, give them the big picture, then ask what questions they have.

The step-by-step approach, or linear thinking, just makes these kids bored.

Well, I can relate.  I realized from the description, that I am a conceptual thinker.  My mind is always multi-tasking and working out puzzles and possibilities.

Have you seen the move Next with Nicholas Cage?  Cage’s character, Cris Johnson, is a magician who has a special ability to see a few minutes into the future.  When I watched the movie, this idea didn’t seem so far-fetched to me — most of the time, if you are paying attention, the consequences of people’s actions and human behavior aren’t too hard to predict.  Ok, so the movie goes on….. Cris meets a girl named Liz.  Somehow, when Cris is with Liz, he can see far into the future.

At the end of the movie, as Cris is trying to figure out how to handle a situation so that it works out for everyone, there is a scene where he runs through possible scenarios in his mind, very quickly one after the other.  When I saw this, it blew me away, because THAT’S HOW I THINK.  I thought, that’s me, that’s it.

No, I can’t see into the future.  But I can, very quickly, weigh possible outcomes, what is likely to happen, and how it will affect people.  It’s a constant search for the best outcome.  It’s not just thinking logically, it’s a big part inspiration or intuition, and it happens all at once.  It’s definitely not a step-by-step, linear process.  If I had to force myself to slow down, or to explain the steps, that would be really difficult and maybe impossible.  It just happens.

No wonder we label these kids with ADD.  Their brains don’t work the way we expect them to.  We put them in school, which is still primarily linear, and drive them crazy, bore them to death, tell them there is something “wrong” with them….

Inside, these kids “know” that they understand things.  If you talk with them and observe them and let them tell you about something they are interested in, this is very obvious.

In years past, when we needed to educate people to live in a linear world of assembly lines and accounting firms, we needed people to be linear thinkers.  And now, as China is following in our footsteps, they are churning out linear thinkers, kids who spend hours and hours doing homework, who follow the steps and the rules, and they are doing a better job at it than we are.

MAYBE that’s because we are moving on to the next step.  Our innovators and creative thinkers, those who will come up with cutting edge technologies and ideas, aren’t linear thinkers….they are conceptual thinkers.

Read about Steve Jobs and how he drove his employees crazy with his approach (“I’ll know it when I see it.”)  Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great article that speaks to this.  Jobs life story is a good example of how a creative, conceptual thinker navigated a largely linear world.

Seems to me that there is a lot of hand-wringing going on, that is a result of trying to fit square pegs (conceptual thinkers) into round holes (the linear paradigm).  If we reframe the issue, and instead focus on how we can nurture the conceptual thinkers, the path forward will be much easier!

A continuation of this discussion is here, in case you are interested.


The Blame Game

I am noticing, when anything “bad” happens, how quick we are as a society to find someone to blame.  And to me, it seems that as soon as people find someone or something to blame, they stop thinking about anything else but how bad that someone or something is.

This seems like a trap to me.  It seems like a really good way to avoid facing a problem and understanding it and finding a solution or learning a lesson.

And, haven’t we been told not to judge?  Blaming = Judging.

Maybe things happen for a reason.  I don’t think they happen so that we can play the Blame Game.  I think they happen so we can learn and grow.

And if that’s the case…..shouldn’t we try to catch ourselves when we are spending too much (or any?) time blaming?  Shouldn’t we try to find the lesson instead?


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You get what you expect

I heard this story about a guy I knew during college (early 80s).  I didn’t know him too well.  What I did know is that he was the only black guy in one of the fraternities (which was, sadly, not common at the time), and he was a super friendly, happy person.

Apparently, his mom used to tell him something like this:  “If you look for prejudice, you’re going to see it everywhere, so don’t bother looking.”

I’ve started observing people and paying attention to what they expect to see.  I know some who think the world is an unsafe place for them and their children, and when they spot a strange person, they suspect that they have bad intentions.  They assume they are up to no good.  All this with absolutely no facts or actions or conversation to back up their assessment.

These people can spend a lot of energy and time talking about how scary the world is.  They are increasingly afraid of more and more people and situations.  And what I see is, this is what the world becomes to them.

Then there are others who expect the opposite.  They interpret everything in a positive way.  They tend to smile more.  They tend to be generous in their assessments of others.  They “create” a world that is very different, because, not surprisingly, when you radiate positivity, others react to it in positive ways.

What happens when one of these positive people interacts with someone who does truly have bad intentions?  Check out this story.


A Victim Treats His Mugger Right

March 28, 2008

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”

Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”

“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”

Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.

The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.”

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”


Romans 12, anyone?

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


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Being Connected

Today I am really thankful for being connected to so many wonderful people in so many ways.

I haven’t yet told many people I am writing this blog….I’m a little shy and still unsure about it….but I told a friend from almost 25 years ago about it today, and got such a nice note back.  Made my day.

Another friend writes online (she is a beautiful writer, very talented), I have never met her, but today I took some of her advice to heart, and it was a huge help.  I felt like I was proactive about some things I needed to deal with, and it made my day so much better.  Thanks!

I have another online friend I met when I found out that we shared a mutual “experience” that wasn’t so good…..she posted a comment online today indicating she was kind of having a hard time.  I tried to provide some encouraging words, and I hope they helped.  At least she knows someone “out there” is thinking of her.

It makes me think about the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  We never know when we do small little (seemingly insignificant) things, what kind of impact they might have on others.  That little smile might just be the encouragement someone needed at that moment.  That kind word or gesture might make all the difference in the world.

I feel so fortunate to have so many people who play their parts so perfectly in my life, just by being who they are.

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