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December 9 – Mornings

 

Matilda

Maria-

At 6:35am, Maria finally decided she’d better get up.  She could definitely use another 5 minutes of sleep…another tap to the snooze button…but she’s already hit it 6 or 7 times.  It’s actually become frustrating. The entire process of the loud, obnoxious beeps, and the quick and scattered searching around for the button to shut it up, seems chaotic to Maria.  But this is her way. This is what she knows. This is her every weekday morning. The internal struggle adds to the stress. She knows that the continuous 5 more minutes doesn’t actually help her feel more rested when she eventually rises.  It’s not she like falls back into a deep, rejuvenating sleep for that time. But it’s necessary. Staying in the security and warmth of the blankets, and putting off the inevitable confrontation with the day isn’t a choice for Maria. At least that what she thinks.  

‘Oh shit!’, she thinks…and actually says out loud as she sits up too fast and gets to the edge of her bed.  She remembered that she forgot to make her son’s lunch for school last night. So…Maria quickly scurries downstairs and fumbles with all of that.  

The last possible minute that Maria and her son can be out of the door is 7:27am.  She’s done that before…and still had him to school on time…still was able to get herself to work on time.  As the lunch is somewhat put together, Maria starts yelling upstairs for her son to wake up. It takes a lot of yelling…and reminders that they’re already late.  ‘Don’t make this worse than it already is,’ she tells him when he groans, ‘leave me alone’.

The next 40 minutes are an absolute flurry of activities.  It’s rushed showers, makeup, searching for clothes in laundry piles, arguing and pleading, coffee making and washing the travel mug.  But somehow, they get into the car at 7:25. ‘Thanks for rushing,’ she says as she hands her boy a breakfast bar, and jams her java into the cup holder.  But then, ‘Oh shit!’ she says again, ‘I have to run inside to grab a book for Alice.’ Maria just remembered that she’s meeting her friend today for lunch, and that she’s letting her borrow a book.  

 

Alice –

An inviting and subtle piano song begins to emerge from Alice’s alarm clock.  When she hears it, she slowly rolls to her back, cracks a bit of a smile, and with her eyes still closed, takes a full and deep cleansing breath.  The smile doesn’t just come naturally…it is a deliberate and conscious effort from Alice…but one that helps shape the rest of her day. During the intentional breath, she practices gratitude…and each day either wishes fulfillment and happiness on someone close to her, or considers how fortunate she is to have particular people or things in her life.  Today, it’s her cousin that she focuses on…and she wishes him strength through the divorce he’s going through. Then she gently sits up, turns her alarm clock off, slides her feet into her slippers, and with good posture and another intentional breath, she thinks, ‘feet on the ground’.

It’s now 4:16am.  Alice peeks into her son’s room on the way downstairs.  She drinks a glass of water, and heats some for tea. While it’s steeping, she covers it to retain the heat…and she grabs her pillow to sit on for meditation.  She brings the tea and pillow close to the wood stove that her husband stoked late last night before leaving for work. After placing a couple more pieces into the fire, Alice sits…and breathes.  She meditates for about 10 minutes, then starts sipping her tea and writing in her journal. She checks her calendar and confirms again that today is her lunch date with her good friend Maria.  Alice smiles again, thankful for time with her friends. After some stretching and a 15 minute yoga session that she follows on her TV, she showers, gets dressed, makes her bed, and does makeup and hair.  It’s 5:40am. ‘Ooh, I can read my book for 20 minutes,’ she thinks. So Alice cozies up in her chair, near the fire again, and settles back into this story that she loves.

Her son has been doing better with getting himself out of bed at 6:00am, and showering and getting ready for school…but he’s still young, and she still enjoys being part of that first moment.  So she’s sitting on the edge of his bed when his alarm starts. More gratitude is practiced here, and only a parent knows that feeling of watching their little one hatch into the day. It’s magical.  

Alice tells him that she’ll get breakfast going while he’s getting ready.  He comes down to scrambled eggs and toast…some almond milk. They discuss what’s happening at school today, and that ‘Dad will be picking you up from basketball practice after school.’  Alice cleans up the dishes while her son watches Sportscenter. Then she brushes her teeth, let’s the dog out back, and checks the clock.  It’s 6:52am. ‘Ooh…20 more minutes with my book!’ she thinks.  She’s able to sit again and read. 

After warming up the car, each of them grabbing their lunches and bags that were prepared last night (and Alice confirms that the greeting card she’s giving Maria is there), Alice drives her son to school.  He’s getting to the age that he doesn’t like the hugs and kisses on school grounds anymore…but after she tells him she loves him and he’s walking away, he turns and says, ‘thanks for that breakfast mom…it was really good.’  Alice nods, and drives to work a little teary eyed, feeling confirmation that she’s ‘on the right track’ and that the extraordinarily challenging effort that she and her husband are giving to this parenting thing…is truly paying off.

Delicatessen

Alice is waiting at the deli when Maria storms in a couple minutes late…on her cell phone.  ‘Oh, I forgot something in the car…be right back,’ she says as Alice was standing up to give her a hug.  Maria does eventually finish her call soon after returning, and they finally get to greet each other with a hug and a friendly exchange of a good book…a sweet card with heartfelt sentiments.  

They grab their soup and sandwiches.  After catching up a bit, the conversation becomes weighted by Maria’s complaining about other people in her life, and how her son doesn’t appreciate anything she does for him.  She complains about her job, her lack of motivation, and how she’s always tired lately. ‘I don’t think I’m getting enough sleep,’ she says. Alice and Maria then compare night time schedules and routines.  Maria laughs at the fact that Alice gets to bed at 8:45pm every night. The differences are even more evident and when they compare their morning routines. More laughing and now some coarseness from Maria. ‘Are you kidding me with that morning?  4:15am?  Who are you…the Dhali Lama?

Alice smiles for what seems like the thousandth time already that day…and says, ‘Your morning makes your day Maria.’

emailsig

December 8 – Death

 

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The inevitability of death is a phenomenon that we all must experience.  It’s not often that I think about this this idea…especially for myself.  I have have lost some very close friends to death. These friends were in their early 20’s.  And unfortunately, some of my relatives have passed away. These family members were at least in the later parts of their lives, and were able to live significantly longer.  As hard as it is to determine how difficult and challenging some deaths are compared to others…that range certainly exists, and most of us can think of a particular person who isn’t here…who should be here…or who perhaps ‘deserved’ more time.  

And how do we handle it when someone close to us dies?  How do we grieve? When my close friend committed suicide at the age of 21, it truly stunned me.  And it left me confused for quite a while. And even though I attended the funeral services…I never really believed that it took place.  I’ve had some occasions where I think that it must have been made up…or that it was a bad nightmare of mine…and maybe he’s still here. For whatever reason, I never felt the closure with that.  And closure is meaningful. Coming to some terms, and grieving properly is the most effective way of dealing with this significantly difficult process of loss.

I recently thought about the grieving process when I heard about the devastating shooting in Thousand Oaks, California.  The families and community there weren’t just able to grieve properly…and for as much time as they needed. Many of them, soon after the shooting, had to be evacuated from their homes due to the impending fires in that part of the state.  I was hoping that it brought the citizens together more so. I hope that they were able to drive to their friend’s or family member’s houses…and spend time talking, getting thoughts out, and allowing themselves to be emotional. It’s never fair when someone has to deal with such a malevolent act like the shooting…but to then be walloped with the threat of fire, and having to find another place to stay, seemed to be another level.  

Individuals need time to deal with a death.  They need their own time. They need time talking to others about their feelings.  They need time talking to others about things other than the death.   Grieving should be acknowledged and practiced carefully and deliberately.  

While we are living, part of us is dying as well.  Before our final death, we are constantly dealing with micro-deaths within parts of us.  At a cellular level, we as a biological creature, are continuously going through a process where we are growing and repairing some parts of ourselves, while simultaneously leaving some of us to die.  Even when we are doing something like learning, part of what we used to think dies off, and we take on this new knowledge as growth into a new person. We also know that physically, it doesn’t take long to notice how our bodies are starting to die off.  The skin loses elasticity. The hair turns grey. The cushion in the joints is less vibrant. Our eyes don’t pick up what they used to. I’m 38 years old, and already deal with all of this. My mind still feels sharp as ever…progressing more even…but some of the physical body is ‘dying’.  

A final thought for this difficult topic is the idea of regret.  I don’t believe one can live totally without regret. I understand the ‘I wouldn’t be who I am today without all of my past experiences, therefore I don’t regret a thing.’  I get that. But that’s admitting that you’ve done the absolute best that you can in every aspect of your life. It’s not that I want to be a different person…by going back and fixing a variety of behaviors or experiences or thoughts that I regret.  It’s that I accept that I ‘could have done better’ in particular areas in my past. I can acknowledge that I haven’t lived up to my utmost and full potential (I spoke about this in my December 3 piece, ‘God’). I don’t think anyone can say that. We are flawed in nature, and therefore come up short in some areas.  We make mistakes. We say things we wish we could take back. We hurt people…sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. Those things are to be regretted. That’s why it’s extraordinary and admirable to see someone consistently try to do the right thing, be the kindest person, follow their passions, live on their own terms, and consequently die on their own sword.  Living like this will mitigate regret. It won’t get rid of it.

As odd as this may sound, I often think of how I will feel about my life when I’m on my deathbed.  This isn’t a negative practice for me…it inspires me. I do this to help gain perspective in the now.  I do it to detach from my current status, and to try to connect with ‘what will be the most meaningful’ when I’m there looking back.  I can tell you for sure, this has allowed me to let go of certain anxieties and insecurities. It’s helped me identify how to more effectively structure my time.  And it’s encouraged me to think deeper, reach for more purpose, and connect with others.

I wouldn’t recommend this for someone who is feeling depressed, sad or anxious.  But if you feel comfortable enough to try, place yourself in the last days of your life and try to grasp onto what will be important to you in that moment.  When your in that place, you’re going to have 2 foundational thoughts that I believe tapping into now, will give you incredible benefit. The first thought you’ll have is, ‘I never did that…or I didn’t do that enough…and I really wish that I did.’  That is regret. The second thought is, ‘I’m so happy that I did that.’ That thought is contentment, fulfillment, and true happiness. We’re all going to have both trains of thought. It makes sense to identify what those thoughts will be…and then, what those corresponding behaviors in the present would look like.  Then, go and live in a way that would make your 90 year old self content and happy and fulfilled as hell!

 

Start right now.

emailsig

December 7 – Motivation

 

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We are motivated to move toward that which we have defined as valuable.  Food, water, shelter, family…are some general standards that most of us are motivated to obtain. We clearly hold those in high esteem. What about other activities though?  What motivates people to do work harder than others? What allows them to see more value in that work? And how do some people stay motivated when faced with adversity, or loss of interest, or other changes that mitigate drive?

The subtleties within how different we are all driven, shouldn’t be overlooked. We all contain multitudes.  We all have a variety of diverse insecurities, and our moral and value systems are very diverse at a micro-level. Sure, we’re all headed to the gym to ‘get in better shape’,  but how we’ve defined getting in shape for ourselves, and why we want to get in shape, reveal a wide difference among us.

The definition of motivation speaks about the ‘reasons’ why people do what they do. I attribute those  reasons to that value scale that I spoke of. But I know there are are many individuals that want to be doing something…they see something as valuable…but they don’t pursue it. Why is that?  

Let’s say they want to lose weight.  They know that all that snacking and couching isn’t going to lead to that. They know they really need to be eating healthy, and staying active. They want to be doing that. The weight loss is valuable to them, and they are knowledgeable about the different behaviors corresponding with that, and their clear and direct results. Why are some still motivated to stay where they don’t want to be?

One reason is that usually the right decision, the one that will bring the most value, and the one that will provide the most meaning and purpose…is the one that is the most difficult to execute. It’s easier to sit on the couch, at least in the short term. Remember, we are animals. And animals will take the path of least resistance as a default. When we envision a forest with a path through it…we understand why it makes all the sense to stay on the path. There are no thistles or brambles…no logs to step over…and we have more of a sure footing.

What would motivate anyone to step off the path?  Well, someone who puts a lot of value in who they could be in the future. It’s sacrifice of the now. The scheduling, and purchasing of food, the leaving the couch, the driving to the gym, and the actual workouts themselves…are much more challenging than putting Breaking Bad on and grabbing Cheetos.  Oh god, Cheetos are so good. Sorry…sidetracked. Anyway, if we choose to make the right decision, we actually lose a little in the short term. But, the payoff is immense. So much good comes in the long term. The individual wins the marathon…and the motivation has a compounding effect.

When you’re motivated enough to behave in a way that makes your life just a little bit better, you find yourself in a better position for the next decision. You feel a little healthier, you’re proud of your behavior, and that motivates you to follow through with that more challenging option again and again. A person that willingly takes on a challenge, completes that challenge, and then reflects on it…becomes an extraordinarily more motivated person. They have more reason. More value.

A side effect that this value, reason…motivation has is that it has a great influence on others. When you are motivated, and have reasons to behave in positive ways…you put those close to you at ease. Your family doesn’t have to worry about you as much. Folks can use less energy on you.  Your actions also inspire and motivate others to make the right decisions. Your family becomes stronger, more connected, and inspired. This spreads to their peers. It spreads to your community, and city and state. Your motivated behaviors positively influence more than you know.

Unfortunately, negative and unmotivated behaviors have the opposite effect…and have a worse impact than you think.

Don’t think for a minute that your behaviors are trivial or meaningless. They are changing the world for the better or worse…more than you know…maybe more than you want to know.

Get in this damn race. Think of it as a marathon.  Make really motivated decisions. Accept that they really do matter.  It’s the path of upward mobility. It’s being honest with yourself…which is authenticity.  It’s progress. It’s meaning and purpose. It’s motivation.

emailsig

December 6 – Life is Long

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Abundance.  Open doors. Opportunity.  Optimism. Life is long.

This perspective…opposite of yesterday’s ‘Life is short’ post…is the one that I tend to identify more with.  It is a more optimistic look at life, and one that I believe in the most.  It’s so very important however, to stay aware…self-aware…and not get delirious or irrational with this.  One could employ a ‘life is long’ tenet to their own personal philosophy…but then happily sit around, not making things happen, thinking there’s so much time.  This person would wake up at 50 years old feeling the ironic burden of time, not having made progress, and not having taken advantage of all of that opportunity available to them.  

On the other hand, the individual who is consistently doing, reaching, working, striving, creating, producing, connecting, networking, providing…amasses this wonderful collection of energy over a short period of time.  This person realizes, ‘wow, I squeezed so much out of that month. It felt like a damn year!’ This person may seem lucky to others.  But as the philosopher Seneca said, ‘luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’  I would also add ‘reaching for that opportunity’ to this definition. Lucky moments are floating all around us every day.  It’s in abundance. Many of us though, aren’t reaching out and grabbing it. Actually, most of us aren’t aware of it. This comes back to mindset and gratitude and optimism.  This person who is constantly progressing and growing knows that life is short, but lives and feels that life is long.

In the piece I wrote last year called #roadto40 (which I referenced in yesterday’s writing), I wrote, ‘…it seems like I’ve already lived a lifetime up to this moment…and it feels great knowing I have another waiting for me.’  I don’t propose that I’m the one leading the way in all of that creating and connecting and networking. I see others doing a lot more than me. I look up to those people. I try to learn from them, and attempt to employ some of their methods.  I do feel that this mindset that I’ve subscribed to though, of optimism and positivity has allowed me to feel content and fulfilled with my action and my time.  

I’m 38 years old today, and like I said, it feels like I’ve already lived a lifetime! I feel so fortunate for that. I’d say that I live live quite modestly and humbly. But I can honestly look at my life and say, ‘wow, look at what I’ve accomplished as an individual. Look at the freedom and opportunities that I have. Look at the extraordinary people around me.  Look at my daughter. Look at my ability to cut and split wood, and heat my home in the winter. I have a home…look at that! Look at my fortunate position to be able to use the internet, and to write everyday on a computer.  Look at the public library with all of those beautiful works…all at my fingertips.  It’s not just me as an individual.  Look at what we’ve accomplished as humans.  Look at the choices we have, and ease with which we live (life is difficult, but it’s not as difficult as it used to be).  Look at how sophisticated we’ve become.  

And I’m not boasting or bragging about my own situation.  In comparison to others, I’d say I don’t have that much.  But boy do I cherish what I do have.

You have so much time to grow.  Be patient. You’ll have multiple chances at relationships and connections and growth.  There is so much abundance available to us all. You don’t have to knock him down, to build yourself up.  There’s enough for both. There’s no need to feel jealous of her for what she has right now. This all plays out in a very long-term marathon.  Be conscious of that marathon. Don’t focus so much on the sprints. It’s ok to lose some of those. In fact, sometimes it makes more sense to lose them in order to win the long game that life is.  Winning an argument, insulting others, taking, consuming…all win in the short-term. Being the bigger person, doing the right thing (which is usually more difficult), giving, being kind, building others up, creating, producing, investing in self and others…is what wins the marathon.   Go win it.

 

From the ages of 20-80, is 60 years. Here are some ideas to live a ‘Life is Long’ life:

  • run 6 different businesses all for 10 years each
  • Learn 12 languages, dedicating 5 years to each
  • write 30 books, giving 2 years to each book
  • Spend 10 years (20-30) volunteering and working for free and interning and networking and building a foundation…then choose a business to dedicate 50 years to
  • Go to a new country every other year for 30 countries visited
  • Read 20 books a year for 1200 books
  • Learn a new musical instrument every 3 years.  20 instruments.
  • A random act of kindness everyday (including a simple complement), touches 21,900 individuals

 

emailsig

December 5 – Life is short

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I’ve been enjoying this 31 days of writing so far.  It’s forced me to quickly write on a variety of topics in a short period of time.  It doesn’t allow for a lot of editing and drafting, so what you’re reading is pretty much a first draft.  One other element that I like, is that within each topic, the ideas that I wrote about on the previous days immediately come to mind, and can be used for drawing on.  ‘Life is short’ for sure, and some of the topics I’ve already written about this month (perspective, choices, health, God) and how we think about them, obviously dictate how we think about the amount of time we have.  

The average lifespan for an American is currently about 79 years.  Hopefully, by the time I’m up in those decades, it’ll climb higher.  In September of 2017, I wrote a piece called #roadto40. It was a manifesto of sorts, declaring my dedication to living a more fulfilled life…one on my own terms…and one that when I arrived at the age of 40 (which I describe as the approximate half-way marker in life) that I’d feel very content.  I want to look back and be proud of the choices I made. I don’t believe in living without regret, but I don’t want to look back thinking, ‘I wish I tried that’…especially if I had the opportunity to do so. Looking back and saying, ‘Ugh, I wish I had purchased my beach house by now,’ isn’t realistic, nor helpful.  Saying, I wish I tried jiujitsu when I was thinking about it some, and then was introduced to the owner of a martial arts business…is quite another story. Life is short in the sense we only have the opportunity to do or try a certain amount of things.  I’m a renaissance man or sorts, and have many interests. So it’s important for me discern what’s worth my time…what truly is a passion of mine, and what is more novelty, fleeting, and unworthy of dedication?   I also want to look forward and think…’wow, I feel set up nicely for the next half of my life.’

Life is short when it comes to parenting.  I heard it many times that, ‘it goes so fast’, and to take advantage of the early times with my daughter…as they would be gone too quickly.  Because I heard it from so many people, it hasn’t at all been a surprise to me. It baffles me that some people don’t soak up the early time with their kids…if they’re aware and concerned with the inherent fleeting nature of that precious time.  When a wide range of people say the same thing…I take stock in it. I apply it to my own thinking. I adjust my mindset. It’s a conscious shift. Now…if you’re unaware, unwilling, or incapable of making that change…that’s a different story.

One tendency within the phase that my child is aged in, is that she is beginning to detach more from me.  When we drop off at school, she’s already requesting that she get out of the car herself and walk in with friends…instead of me parking the car and walking her in.  It’s a natural shift. She started kindergarten 3 months ago, so she’s becoming more influenced by peers, and a little less influenced by me. I’m happy and proud of this, as it reveals the growth and tendency to become more self-reliant.  We as parents have a short window of opportunity to influence within a given phase. Life is short. My ability to parent within that early phase, in that particular style…is dwindling. I now have to accept this new phase. I need to adjust my approach.  If I hold on, and guard, and overprotect as I did in the earlier stages more so, I’ll do more harm than good. I’ll hinder her process of self-reliance, making the subsequent stages much more challenging.

Acceptance.

Let go.

Life is short.  

emailsig 

December 4 – Health

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Health is the foundational piece of existence that we seem to take for granted the most. That is, until our lack of health begins to present itself. We often don’t think about the common cold, or preventing the cold…until we have the cold. Most of us don’t live our lives trying to prevent disease…but we do absolutely everything at hand when we’re confronted with the fact that we may now have it. Proactive behavior goes such a long way…and seems to be the most effective way to live with good health.

Mental health is a large facet of overall health. It’s become more relevant and present in recent times…especially in the news and political sphere when discussing criminals….murderers and terrorists in particular.  I used to think of mental illness ass ‘what some other unfortunate people have to deal with.’ I’ve come to understand though, that we’re all on a scale…but no one is actually at zero in all areas. No one is perfectly healthy. Just as within physical health, we all have small ailments here and there…sickness comes and goes…it’s similar with mental health. We all seem to have a little of this, a little of that. Some more than others. We all find ourselves with anxiety at times.  Depression seems hard to define at particularly low levels, but we all feel ‘down’ at times…we all have bad days.

Health is all about balance. If we break down physical and mental health into 10 categories (5 categories in each), we can see how important that balance is. Scoring low in particular areas has an effect on the entirety of your existence. Score yourself on the following quiz, rating 0-5 for each category. 0 is not healthy at all. 5 is the healthiest you can be.

 

Physical health

Gastrointestinal __

Strength/Flexibility/agility __

Adaptability (your bodies ability to function in different environments __

Cardiovascular __

Immune system __

 

Mental Health

Anxiety __

happiness/mood __

Fulfillment/purpose/meaning __

Impulsivity __

Fear __

 

Total score (out of 50) ___

 

It should go without saying…but I’m no doctor, and just created this quiz with quick thoughts to somewhat score my own overall health. Take it with a grain of salt. Or without!

emailsig

December 3 – God

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‘God is that which transcends our knowledge,’ is a line I recently heard a fellow named Jordan Peterson say in an interview.  I’ve been trying to think about this a lot lately…the idea of God and religion. When I heard this line, I at first felt that it told me that I’m not able to figure God out…because it’s/he’s above my intellectual ability to comprehend.  I do feel that that is partly the case. However, that’s just taking the easy way out…ignorance is bliss almost. And, I believe that it’s my responsibility to at least have a better grasp of religion…specifically Christianity, and that God.  Since humans created the idea of God, I think it’s in my grasp to understand.  I guess some would argue that God created the idea of humans. But I’m just not there. Maybe I will be after more time studying and researching.  I’ll speak to this topic from my perspective, and considering what I believe and understand now. And by no means do I mean to offend others through this.  I think what Peterson was getting at is that God is without flaw…and sin. And God (or Jesus) willingly took on the sin and suffering of all others. That voluntary undertaking of suffering…that flawless way of being…seems to ‘transcend our knowledge’.  

We as humans are flawed in nature.  We come up short in many ways. And we are mortal.  We sin…which as I spoke about in yesterday’s writing, means that we ‘miss the mark’.  Why is that? Maybe it’s the what the Taoists think of as yin and yang. It’s the balance between order and chaos.  Part of us is good, right, and alive…constantly learning and growing…while the other part is bad, wrong, and dying off.  On a much smaller scale than God, we are capable of willingly taking on suffering and moving forward into are lives. But we are still flawed in nature trying to do so.  This is actually a beautiful connection that we all have as humans. I can say that I am flawed. I am not all that I could be. I am not living up to my utmost and fullest potential.  Can you say differently? I’m not sure that any human can. In this way, we are all coming up a bit short. And as the Buddhists would say in the first of their 4 Noble Truths, ‘Life is Suffering’.  The word ‘suffering’ doesn’t seem to be a literal translation into English, and it’s more helpful for me at least to think of it in terms of stress, chaos, impermanent…temporary.

It is not in my own belief that there is an omniscient being of God, looking down on us from heaven.  I don’t live and understand life as though there is a somewhat ghostly Father figure present. In that way, I don’t believe in God.  However, looking back and wrestling with these ideas of religion, and considering how they’ve affected and influenced the amount of humans that they have…through love and war…and the fact that these ideas have been created, recorded and carried through time by billions of humans…I can’t just simply brush it all away, thinking, ‘all that is meaningless because I don’t believe in God’.  That’s lazy.  It’s ignorant.  I and we are more sophisticated than that.   

In the early stages of humanity, we came up against the idea of right and wrong…or good and evil.  We figured out over time what those meant, and the sources and consequences of acting out particular behaviors…the results of having particular thoughts.  We developed ethical and moral principles based on these findings or understandings. The Bible seems to be full of stories that very effectively illustrate those principals.  I admit that I am very limited in my knowledge of religions…and of Christianity and the Bible. Like I said, I have more work to do there.

But I do hold in very high esteem these ideas of right and wrong…good and evil.  I do feel that it’s our responsibility to willingly and voluntarily try to live the right way…try to be good…live with truth, and integrity.  I do believe in ‘karma’…although I don’t necessarily like the term. Simply put, I believe the good or bad energy you put out there, in a sense returns to you in some way…probably in some unrelated manifestation.  In that way, I do believe in The Path, as the Taoists believe. I do believe in trying to live with less suffering, chaos, stress…as the Buddhists believe. So in that way, I believe perhaps as Christians would, to try to live as Jesus would…doing the right thing, choosing good over evil, loving thy neighbor…doing unto others as you would have them do onto you.

I guess I can gather and appreciate and use all of that without a necessary God.  I can see how some religious people would be saying right now, ‘no idiot…that IS God!’  I can see how you may believe that this idea of good and bad, right and wrong began with God, and that I can’t have one without the other.  I see your point. I appreciate it and respect your perspective. I’m just not there. I think it’s worth mentioning again that I don’t mean to offend anyone with this piece.  I’m just a man seeking out meaning and purpose. I don’t propose that my way is better than your way. I’m not naive enough to think that I’ve ‘figured this out’. Thank you for your understanding.   

emailsig