i’m no different than you

just my thoughts man – right or wrong…just what I was feeling at the time’ – Jay Z

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We cannot really judge one another, or blame one another for our thoughts and opinions.  It is honestly best to forgive someone for ideas you disagree with.  Best to appreciate their perspective.  Taking this approach broadens your own perspective, and allows you to employ a broader scope…a wider lens.

 

I once heard a line related to this, and it’s surfaced often when thinking about others…and our differences.  It basically says that ‘you would do exactly what any other  person does…behave in the same exact manner…had you been born to their parents, in the place they were raised, and brought up the same way’.  I’m not sure where I heard this.  Maybe it just came to me.  Actually, I’ll just go ahead and claim it as mine right now!  However simple it may be, it has provided me with a moral integrity in which I believe we’re all on the same level playing field.  

Here is a healthy practice for you to try:  think of a child living in a very different situation and place than what you have…preferably a child in a different culture, different socio-economic situation…something almost ‘opposite’ of you.  Then consider the fact that this child could have been you!  What if you were born there?  Had to walk in those shoes?  In that climate?  This consideration has helped me develop a better understanding of others, and has led to less judgement.  It’s allowed me to listen more effectively.  It’s let me submit to others, and forgive, and appreciate.

This can sound like a weak position.  Always submitting to others, and forgiving when people hurt me, or bring adversity to my life?  Won’t that just lead to people steam rolling over me and using me as a doormat?  No.  Believe it or not, giving up control and judgement has given me a stronger sense of who I am.  Instead of wasting so much energy on trying to control others, and situations, to no avail…I maintain a positive mindset, and often frame a response in my mind with the phrase ‘Is that so?’  This provides a position where almost nothing can knock me off course, regardless of the strength of the tides.  I acknowledge the potential storm.  I maintain the secure and reliable mast, and calmly set the main sail.  Then I begin wayfinding through the tempest.  I feel like Maui…with Moana at my side!  

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i am moanaaaaaaaaaa!
I once feared different ideas and opinions, opposite of my own.  I was once intimidated by others who stood for values other than mine.  This fear is what I believe to be one of the obstacles between groups not seeing eye to eye.  And considering how many of us often fear the unknown, it may not even be a conscious wall we’re constructing within our minds.  A natural cascading and compounding of negative or fear-filled thoughts can build, without us being aware.  It’s as if within our typical day, during our tasks, we mindlessly grab a brick and place it on an arbitrary line.  When the day is done, we’ve put up a faulty facade…a sloppy screen between ourselves and others.  It gives you a false sense of security, and you may be proud of where you stand and what you’ve built.  But the wall was constructed on careless judgement, weak mortar mix, an uneven foundation…not deliberate decisions, mindful masonry, on a level, compacted cornerstone.   


I’ve already blogged some about being aware of our own thoughts, and the benefits of thinking positive.  Here is a post related to that.  This awareness will help to clean up your rubble if you have some, and strengthen your position and security without the need of a wall.  What’s the best way to find that awareness?  Start meditating.  And start being mindful of your thoughts and reactions to different subjects.  It takes practice like anything else.  But with a little training, you’ll find yourself on a journey filled with happiness and contentment. Your shoulder may soften with the chip removed, allowing others a better landing to lean on.  

One final thought that I think of often is ‘how do i make other people feel?’  At the end of our short time in this place, this question may be central to how successful our time was actually invested.  This is of course difficult to know, as we can’t totally understand how others feel about us.  And it’s less about what others ‘think’ of us…more about the kindness, support, generosity, and acceptance that we provide…hopefully leading to a comfort and security felt by the people around us.  I believe a good, healthy self check-in is to ask yourself ‘how am I making other people feel?’


You feel me?



Music:  Here is an oldie but a goodie from The Lumineers.  The band leader’s wife told him he was like the Dead Sea…that she’ll never sink when he’s with her…and he wrote a song including this sentiment.  How romantic. 

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Not in my locker room

‘If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people’

– Woolf

originally published on March 10, 2017.

Two days ago, on March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day.  It spurred up a lot of appreciation I have for all of the women in my life.  I thought back to the great grandmothers and grandmothers I used to have in my life.  They were all so awesome and admirable, and provided such valuable insights.  Their lives seemed to span such wide timelines and generations, soaking up all of the wisdom and knowledge from wherever they roamed.  Just looking at them, you could see that they were ‘holders’ of all that information…like ancient stones among us, that have rolled a little bit of everywhere. And like the trunks of trees, sturdy and unwavering, while the rest of us stemming from them, sway and swerve up in the wind. They maintained such a stoic and solid form, but now I recognize that they also put up with more stuff than warranted, and were just able to maintain that loving, caring, gentle ‘Grammy’ status when I was around. I miss them.

I’m also so lucky to have such a great mom that lives nearby, and 4 sisters that I appreciate.  I remember growing up…dad would be at work…and I’d look around thinking, really?  All these girls around?  I can’t watch another dance recital of my younger sisters on VHS.  I can’t pretend I’m in the band Heart anymore with my older sister.  I wish I had all brothers!  Well, that was just a short phase sis’s, and I can’t be more grateful to have gone through all that.  It has provided a wonderful foundation…a unique perspective…and a specific tide that has carried me through to today.  

Right before my daughter was born, I remember some folks asking if I was hoping for a boy…if I was looking forward to playing catch with him…teaching him basketball (the sport that has been central to my life since college).  While all those experiences sounded great, I never really had that urge, and at the time I didn’t know why.  I could tell that many dads to be, or new dads…were really into that, and couldn’t wait to have a junior around.  And I don’t think I ever voiced that I wanted a girl over a boy, or even articulated that in my thoughts.  It was more of a subtle pull, and maybe a feeling that I’d be better prepared for a girl.  Not sure why at that moment it wasn’t completely clear that growing up with four sisters might help when having a daughter.  But it did.  And when I found out ‘it’s a girl’, I felt like Poppy when it’s HUG TIME!  

Having a daughter has led me to consider new ideas, and think about equality within the sexes.  Should my daughter have the same opportunities as boys her age?  Should she be able to make the same amount of money for the same job that a male works?  Should she be comfortable and free to be strong, outspoken, or even radical?  Damn right she should.  Go do it girl!

Matilda…working on her L’s…for ‘radicaL’

This week, I heard a woman speaking of the ‘locker room talk’ subject that was such a focus during this past year’s election.  I have to say this…when that term was used, I (being a man) felt generalized…grouped into this stereotype of all men that talk about women like that to other men…in areas like locker rooms.  Since then, I haven’t heard any guy dispute that.  I have not gone looking online.  I’m sure those guys are out there.  I forgot about it for a while, but then hearing it again this week gave me the nudge to finally get it out.  

We don’t all talk like that. Guys don’t just leisurely use that language when women aren’t around…at least guys that are in my circle.  Of course different social environments bring out a variety within our language.  Just as I remember speaking differently when walking in to Grammy’s house.  But I just have to speak for myself here…and make it clear that I’m not in that group.  I don’t talk like that…and that doesn’t happen here.  Not in my locker room.

By the way, I have some reading recommendations for this topic.  Last year, I read ‘We should all be Feminists’, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  It’s a great essay, directly calling to keep feminism alive, and recognize the injustices in our current landscape.  A couple of weeks ago, I read ‘Men explain things to me’, by Rebecca Solnit.  This is a collection of 7 essays, some of them full of hard to read statistics…and all of them helpful in understanding gender inequalities.   

Part 2:

On a lighter note, if I had a locker room…music would be there.  Music has been a huge part of my every day in the past year or so.  For some reason, I had put it away for a while.  It was something for the car, or for exercise, or mowing the lawn. But it wasn’t a focus.  More recently, I’ve been exploring music, learning about, diving in, looking for connections, trying to play it myself, finding more emotional responses, and constantly searching for artists to appreciate more of.  It’s opened up a whole new world for me and I can’t get enough.  Click HERE to listen to an artist that I think has ‘it’.  

What do I mean by ‘it’?  What does Shakey have that others don’t?  What comes to mind for me is the ability to convey the original message or thoughts into the final product.  In other words, an artist has ideas, thoughts and feelings and creates something related to that.  However, sometimes with the tools at hand (voice, guitar, paintbrush, camera, etc.), that message may change…may be lost in translation.  And the final product, presented as a song, a poem, a painting…may not get at the original scope.  In this song…this performance…I feel that everything is brought out.  The sounds and words feel sifted through the artists own strainer.  Filtered and processed with all the right tools, at the right pace, and with all the perspective that only this artist can provide.

Maybe it’s just an authenticity that I recognize, or a genuineness felt.  My words are what feel about the art…but I cannot know the artists true desire or goals for a piece.  When I was younger, I used to try to ‘figure out’ a lot of songs, and always wondered, what are they really saying here, what are they going through that made them create this, who is this meant for???  What I’ve come to realize, and what I really love about art though, is that it’s all about how it makes me feel.  It’s that simple.  I think the art is simply what the artist was feeling at that given moment.  Song lyrics aren’t all true or real life, they’re not all attached to one person, and I don’t think it’s fair for the observer to determine the original meaning of the piece. We can only guess. I’ve found a much deeper connection by simply trying to ‘feel’ a song or a painting, not trying to necessarily define it.  

Anyway, I hope you feel it like I do!