Which side?

I was recently asked a rather interesting question. That question triggered thoughts on so many levels I can’t begin to explain. It was intended as a joke but developed into what I am writing now.

The question: On which side of the chicken are the most feathers?

Yes… simple enough. It can be obvious or obscure. The choice is yours really. How deep into the question do you see? Is it a trick question? Is there actually a “side” of a chicken that has more feathers than another? Do the size of the feathers matter? What would you call a “side” of a chicken? Front? Back? Left? Right? Top? Bottom? The answer, of course, was: THE OUTSIDE!

One of the things this triggered with me is what is it that we look at and with what do we look?

It has become more and more apparent to me that nearly everyone looks on the outside only to make their judgements about anyone or anything.  We tend to see how handsome a politician is to determine if that politician is the correct candidate.  Never mind qualifications.  Never mind past discrepancies.  Never mind if their history of lying.  How young are they?  How eloquent?  How well dressed?

The same holds true for potential mates.  How pretty or handsome is this girl or that guy?  How much money do they have or seem to have? (still its an outward thing)   How well dressed or how neat is their hair?  What kind of car do they drive or where do they live?  These things might be of some use but the real nitty gritty about it all is what is really important.  How do they or would they treat me as a mate?  How confident can I be in the relationship?  How much can I trust them to be honest with me yet understanding and even tender enough to allow me to make a mistake or two (not talking about fidelity here)?  How much can I trust that person to be faithful?  What is THEIR history?  What does it tell me?  What about their Family history of faithfulness?  Does that matter?  Can I trust this person for the rest of my life to be there through the thick and the thin?  What will this person do when it REALLY gets tough?  These questions are SOOOO  much more important than the outward signs of glitz, glimmer, or glow.

In speaking with one of my favorite consults, he impressed on me to look at this from another perspective as well.  Not only should I (or we) look at things (or people) in a deeper fashion, but we should also look at things (and/or people) from a “big picture” type outlook.  I have eluded to both aspects of perspective in previous posts.  The idea or concept of digging deeper has always been of importance to me.  To find the truth in layers underneath the surface takes time and effort.  It is also true that we get another perspective when we look at things from an “outside the box” view.  This would have given the answer to the “feathers” question an easy choice from the start.  But it is also true that this is not the first aspect from which we gather out intel.

It is a natural thing to look on the surface.  But what is seen there is seldom all there is.

It takes work to view below the surface.  It takes courage to look at things from that out-of-the-box viewpoint.

Most of us have been fooled at one point or another because of our own inability to look at things as we should.  The old adage of “Beauty is only skin deep” can be misleading.  Others have added to it that “ugly goes all the way to the bone.”  Again misleading.  Outward beauty truly is only skin deep and fades quickly with the passing of time.  Inward “ugly” truly does go all the way to the bone as it is the core of the individual that has that personality inside them and it seldom changes even with time.  Still, inward beauty can and usually does last a lifetime and shows both outwardly and from within.  What we “normal” people (wow is that a misnomer) would call ugly from an outward appearance is of little consequence if the person in question is viewed from a purely personality perspective.  Outward appearance, perceived intelligence level, or even extremity differences matter little where the inward person is concerned or viewed.

Having been involved with counselors and students and teachers of all levels of education I have been privileged to learn and see all manner of people using their talents to shine where others neither would have nor could have.  I’ve seen students labeled as disabled or challenged succeed where “normal” regular ed students failed miserably.  I remember the quote that hung over the door of the classroom for the severely handicapped hung by the teachers of that class that read “the difficult we can do right away; the impossible may take a little longer.”  And they meant that.  I’ve seen works of art from people that had no hands.  I’ve heard wonderful music from people that had no sight to see the notes.  I’ve seen slow learners pass difficult tests and show significant detail in their thought processes.

(In case you don’t recognize them…  Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Andre Botticelli, Steven Hawking, & Oscar Pistorius)
It is interesting to me that Beethoven went deaf yet composed, conduct and perform even after he went totally deaf.    Van Gogh was mentally ill and died at 37 after producing over 2000 works of art.

What we see is not what is.  It takes viewing from three (or more) levels to interpret even a portion of what may actually be.  Looking from within on a microscopic level.  looking on the outside from an every day perspective, and looking from far outside the normal boundaries.  Feathers grow from the inside to show on the outside but you have to see the dog chasing the chicken to see why it is running and feathers are flying.

Don’t judge someone just because they seem to be hard to deal with.  There may be much more to why they are that way than you can see.  People are not happy when they are in pain.  That pain can take many forms.  Give of your peace to them that have not.  Share with another the beauty that you see.  It may just make their day.

Don’t judge because of what you see.  Outward appearance is a mere shell of what is within.

Which side are you looking at?

I found this and feel that it is just the ticket to bring this home in a way that I can not.  It is worth the view.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsNlcr4frs4

If you get the chance or just want to there are several others about them that are also very good.

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the deep cut of angry words

Political correctness has changed the face of America and even the world at large.  Words have always been important but today simple wording can cause much difficulty and great struggle if you happen to be on the wrong end of a lawsuit (which I am not).  You don’t call people old.  They are chronologically gifted (or challenged).  A man is not bald, he is comb free.  (for the expanded list go to: http://www.bored.com/pcphrases/ and have some fun (or rather – waste some time).  Even at an “elder” age people find themselves making a blunder or two.  We are not perfect creatures (at least not most of us) and we can get mad just as easily or even faster than younger more agile individuals and sometimes its simply nothing more than something is hurting more today than it did yesterday that causes the initial irritation.

As a side-bar to all of this…  I feel the older a person is the more leeway they should be given to say whatever is on their mind.  They have earned the right.  (IMHO)     They have endured more, experienced more, lived longer, have given more to society, have more aches and pains, lived through trials and tribulations that most of us will never see, didn’t have all that young people have today, and have had to put up with the younger generation to this point.  That should earn them some respect as well as a bit more understanding.

What I’m alluding to is that I have gotten mad, fed up, frustrated, indignant, or otherwise upset at things from time to time (even not too long ago) that has caused me to get to a point or level of emotional lack of self control that I spouted off in some way that unfortunately the offending individual was able to hear.  This doesn’t happen to me very often.  I have a better than average ability to control myself where verbal or physical restraint is concerned.  I have friends that can confirm this fact.  I’ve been burned enough times in my younger days to have learned the art of keeping my mouth shut in precarious situations.  My father used to say “his/her mouth was in motion before his/her mind was in gear.”

I’ve told the story before (also learned from dear ole dad) about the fly that landed on a buffet table, bellied up to the plate of bologna and ate to his hearts content till he was so fat that he couldn’t fly off the table.  With what he thought was a brilliant idea, he climbed up onto a spoon that had its handle hanging off the edge of the table.  He thought to himself: “if I can just get up enough speed I will be able to fly.”  So he slid down the handle of the spoon gaining more and more speed as he went.  Off the end of the spoon he went and flapped as hard as he could.  The next thing that happened was an awful thud as he hit the floor and thus was the end of that fly.  The moral of the story:  When you are full of bologna, don’t fly off the handle!

Words can hurt.  When they hurt, they usually hurt badly.  Almost like a jagged knife that is rusty and hasn’t been washed in years.  The knife of hasty and harshly spoken words can be sharp enough to make a deep gash in the spirit of the person on the receiving end.  Poisonous festering occurs as the words now spoken can not be retrieved and the poison is now deep in the gash infiltrating the spirit of the offended.

It is not always intended.  In fact, hasty hurtful words are seldom intended.  They are spoken out of frustration.  They are spoken out of pain.  Sometimes because of physical pain.  Sometimes because of emotional or spiritual or mental pain.  It can be a combination of or even include every aspect of what was just mentioned.  In any event, it is an attempt to let off the built up, stored up steam caused by the boiling of feelings and emotions.  That steam can hurt too.  So… maybe that is another way of looking at this.  Instead of a jagged knife maybe it should be looked at as a burning as if by steam (which I understand to be very hot and hurtful).  Done in the “heat of the moment.”

No matter which way you look at it scars are formed.  Some burns or cuts are superficial and can easily be ignored and eventually have no effect.   Some can be deep and can last a lifetime even to the point that they never truly heal in the deepest recesses.  The surface may have healed over and a scar may show but the depth of the hurt may still be open or in pain.

Those that experience this (and I think we all do) find that those things never leave us.  They cause us to shield and protect the hurt areas of our lives.  We build fences or even walls around ourselves to protect that vulnerability.  The deeper the hurt, the higher the wall.  Sometimes we even fortify that wall so that any potential hurt is shunned, warded off, and even eliminated if it (an offender) gets too close.

The people that are usually able to hurt you the most are the ones are the ones that you are closest to.  This does NOT erase the fact that others can hurt people very easily.  Some of it may be because of past hurts or possibly that person’s own insecurities.  Still, it is up to us to be aware of what we say and how we say it at ALL times.  The fact that someone else may have a “thin skin” so to speak does not give us the right to fling hurtful comments at will.

I am familiar with people that have a taught tendency to “slam” others regularly.  They often say that this is  “just my way” talking of their own way of having been brought up.  They may have a similitude of a thick skin but that does not mean that it really is.  Some words along with innuendos can still have a lasting hurtful effect.  Sometimes that effect doesn’t always show itself the same way or even early.  Often it is much later in life before the preponderance of the weight of all of the critical words take their toll.

The concept of “you are what you think you are” comes into play at an early age.  If a child is told he or she is stupid by someone who’s position or status they respect can cause an unending life of trouble for that child.  Building and supporting and encouraging words to children are much more effective in creating that life of happiness, contentment, productive, fulfilled and an enriched life.  It is never too late to start if this has been a problem of your past.

What you say and how you say it means a lot.  You could say “when I look at you time stands still” or you could say “your face can stop a clock.”   Both say exactly the same thing but have entirely different meanings.  Timing is also important.  Many a teen has been distressed and embarrassed by their parent by some seemingly innocent words spoken at the inappropriate time.

Kindness will trump harshness every time.  That is not to say that being stern is not necessary.  Only that you much choose your words carefully.  Even a harsh word spoken with the intent of love will reap rewards.

All of this has been written to say this…  I have found it best to say what you mean and mean what you say.  Be careful of what you say, how you say what you say, when you say it and who you say it to.

the box we leave

Each of us lives our life building a small box that will ultimately be left behind.

This box is one we build even if we don’t want to.  It is our legacy.  It is our history.  It is what others have experienced and have seen in us.  It is the memory of who we were, what we did, what we accomplished, how we treated others, how we fell short of others expectations, how we fell short of our own expectations, what dreams we accomplished and what dreams never really made it.

At my employment we have started something we call a “Legacy Document.”  This is supposed to be a folder of information related to our position that gives specific data to whomever might have need to follow one of us into the “line of fire” (so to speak).  It is a road map of information that we leave at the location.

Many of you make some plans for others concerning your finances.  You call it a “Will.”  It is also a road map of information that you choose to send on to those that matter in your life.  Great pains are taken to either provide for your final wishes, provide finances for a spouse or children or grand children or the like.  Some have even gone so far as to provide for a pet.  Some leave it all to charity.  At any rate, this is a document that is supposed to outline what should be done with what was left of your estate.

These types of legacies are good.  But they are not our true legacy.

The legacy “box” is the one that matters.

You will be remembered.  That is, by someone.  Maybe not many.  Maybe just a very few.  But someone, somewhere will remember you.

Your legacy box is your effect, your true estate as it were, that you leave to ALL that come after.  It tells the tail of who you were seen to be by others.  Not always who you really were.  Just what was seen by others.

What does your legacy box look like?

Did you help others or think only of yourself?  Did you care or were you “care-less?”  Did you have a positive impact on someone’s life or were you the one that caused others to fall?  What would someone say about your character?  Did you have any?  Were you honest or a liar?  Did you obey the law or skirt it at every chance?  Were you a “good” person?  Did you play by the rules or cheat the system at every opportunity?  What was your example to your children?  Did you speed in and out of traffic?  Were you a courteous person or show others that they didn’t really matter?  Did you respect others and their rights?  Did you give to the needy or hoard for yourself?  Did you give of your time or spend it all on yourself?

My father’s legacy is great.  He had an effect on many lives throughout his own.  He was involved in the creation of two private schools.  As the pastor of a church he made a impact on many a life on a regular basis.  He taught good to all.  He lived as he believed.  He stood for what he believed.  He walked the walk as much as he talked the talk.   This is and was a rare thing.  Many people respected him and his name is respected to this day and the effect he had on people’s lives will continue for generations.  Though I will never be able to say that I have accomplished as much or even come close to the impact of his life, I think the greatest thing he did for me was in the values and respect and teachings that he gave to me.  In effect, he is in me and lives on.  Not just in me but in my brothers, my sister, his and my mother’s grand children, and the many other lives his life touched.  I can only hope that the life I live will touch even a few to that level.

I am on “LinkedIn” which is a social site for business.  The question was recently asked if integrity was a thing of the past?  Maybe not those words but something very close.  I also recently posted on my twitter account that my father had once called me skeptical.  I also wrote that I felt he was correct.   I responded to the LinkedIn question with my thoughts that I was somewhat “up in the air” on this matter.  That I felt that balance was a force that is always in check in every society and every age.

I now have changed my mind.

This may be very disheartening for some but I have become more skeptical than ever.  I still believe that balance may still be true, but I lean more toward the pendulum theory now.  And it is also unfortunate, but I feel we have swung way too far to the side of selfishness as a whole.  At least here in the US.

I see a fat society.  Fat in many ways.  Not just actual weight (2 out of 3 Americans are overweight).  Fat in the belief that the individual should have everything they want.  They should strive to achieve anything they want and should feel no remorse for those they step on in the process or who they have to leave behind in order for themselves to be “happy.”  (the “happy” box is another box all together)  The word is “entitlement.”    It seems to be taking over.  No-longer do people think they should have to earn what they get.  They feel they deserve it.  No matter that it cost someone something.  They should have it.  On credit if necessary.  And who really cares if the bad ole credit card company (the bank) goes bust because they gave out credit that should not have been given in the first place.  Someone somewhere made the money and “I” should have it.  “I’m entitled” so they think.

Yes.  I’m a skeptic.

The scam artists are everywhere.  They have been around for a long long time.  It is a fact of our everyday lives.  “Buy this because it will make you beautiful or sexy or make you feel good.”  “Do this or that to make yourself look or feel more important.”  “Watch out for this, we can protect you.”  They show pretty pictures of what you want to think you would look like because it sells their product so they can make more money.  They tell you this lie or that lie to make you want to vote for them so they can have the “power” to make the laws that benefit the ones that put them into office so that they can steal even more of our money.  Not so that YOU will benefit in anything.  It is so that THEY will benefit.

Politicians, doctors, lawyers, policemen, firemen, teachers, clerks, technicians, car salesmen, businessmen, anyone and everyone, even the clergy seem to have some hidden agenda.   Usually to take your money, your power, or your dignity.  Cynical isn’t it?  Do you ever really listen to the hype, the sales talk, the propaganda and innuendos behind what is being heard with your ears?  Do the words being spoken ever send a deep chill as if saying “THIS IS NOT RIGHT”?

Yes… I’m a skeptic.

Today I was able to speak with a good friend about this topic.  Some question about whether people know what they are doing was brought up.  His statement had to do with the fact that “Jesus” knew that people didn’t even know what they were doing based on the quote “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”  I have some thoughts on that as well.

Do we know what we are doing?  I think yes.  While we may not know all of the ramifications surrounding what is being done, there is still that “still small voice” crying out from deep inside telling us that what we are choosing is either right or wrong.  We “KNOW” if it is right and we know if it is wrong.  What our decision is may be based totally on unrealistic principles but that decision still weighs on us either way.  OK  I’ll give a little leeway.  There are times when we really do NOT know what we are doing and do the wrong thing simply out of ignorance.  But where it effects truth?  You and I both know that you know when you are telling a lie.  You know when you are stealing.  You know when you are telling something about someone that you know is not true.  You know when you are intentionally cheating a person or a company or a business or the government.  You know when you are breaking a law intentionally.

Doing the wrong thing…  there is a cost to that.  One quotation that I am familiar with says:  The wrong thing…. “it will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”  Doing the wrong thing, even with good intentions, often costs much more in the long run.  Almost always does.  Doing what is right may cost.  But it seldom costs as much.  And how far reaching does it wind up?  There was once a commercial that was directed at the cigarette industry.  It was a man, seemingly healthy, tall and strong, sitting next to a tree enjoying his smoke.  The camera turns as he lays his pack of cigarettes down.  Sitting next to him is a young boy of about 3 or 4.  The boy picks up the pack of cigarettes and starts looking inside.  The message (if you didn’t already guess) is that what we do ALWAYS has an effect.  Not just on us but on those around us.  Often without our thought it is happening.  What your children see and hear you do is what they learn to do.  Not what you tell them to do.  What you do.

I am amazed at how often I can go to a restaurant or place of business and see children seemingly totally on their own doing what ever they choose to do.  They make noise, steal, break, and run rampant with out any regard by the “attending” adult.  I am astounded at the total disregard for life while on the road.  Not just by young drivers either.  The “ADULTS” drive like maniacs.  That one or two extra minutes that they save by cutting someone off to get in front of that one more car….  Do they really think they are saving that much time?  Does getting there one more minute or even 10 minutes earlier make any real difference?  Wouldn’t they have been much better served to have just left that length of time earlier themselves instead of teaching their own children this method of highway madness?  You know the ones.  Those that run down the side of a long line of people to jump in front because “they are too important to wait like everyone else” kind of people.  But I digress.

It equates to disrespect.  It equates to selfishness.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So… back to the original question…   What does your “legacy” box look like?  What are you leaving for others to see?  How will they think of you when you are gone?

The one thing I would like to impress on your life is this…  Truth never fails.  Never!

the power of soft

Sensitivity is a very powerful ally. Awareness of sensitivity is also very powerful and necessary in order to gain the full respect for this topic. That awareness is sometimes natural but usually it takes years of experience to develop the knowledge and awareness of sensitivity.

The average person rarely gains the understanding of this sensitivity to a level where they recognize the benefits of the power of “soft.”

One of my personal “languages” is touch.  If you’ve never read the book about the five love languages then I’d suggest you do that sometime to garner a better understanding of what I am referring to here but let it be understood that the power of soft goes way beyond just touch or feel.

I once heard or read a statement that made an impression on me.  Actually, I often hear or read quotes or statements  that have an effect on my understanding of things or bring to light things that I wish I had had earlier in my life.  The statement I am referring to in this case is:  “The louder you speak, the less I hear.”  It is interesting and quite true that the reverse is often true.  “The softer you speak, the more I hear.”

Attention to a whisper is much greater than someone screaming.  Oh yes, you hear the scream, but do you or did you understand what was said?  There was a commercial quite a while back that said “when ______ speaks, people listen.”  It had to do with some stock company but the message had a much deeper meaning than the commercial.

There is much to be said for softness.  I bought a “throw” for my mom for Christmas once that she still uses and even comments about often.  Other people that have touched that throw have also made comments on how soft it is.  It is VERY soft and is also very warm.  She uses it every winter and tells me each winter how warm and soft and comfortable it is.   I have had the pleasure of giving other gifts to her that have been of use over and over but this one seems to keep coming up as one of the best.  Not very expensive in price (and I sent other gifts with it) but this very soft blanket/throw has given her much more enjoyment than most of the things I have bought her.  It made such an impression because it was/is so soft.

A soft caress is much more effective at soothing tension.  A very gentle touch can stir powerful emotions and generate extreme sensations.  The song “Slow Hand” has words that tell a very powerful story of what the writer was more interested in.  A “slow hand,” an “easy touch,” “not come and go in a heated rush.”  Many a man would benefit from listening more deeply to these words.

As an aside to all of this, I love music.  Loud music is very much appreciated at times but I get much more meaning from the softer music.  It is VERY important to listen to the words as well (if any are included).  The writers are expressing what they feel, what they’ve experienced, what they’ve learned, or what they think they know.   No, they are not always right in their philosophy (very seldom are) but that is why you should listen.  Make sure that you agree with what is being said or felt.  Don’t just play songs to take up space in your brain.  Play things that have deep meaning and are of value.  Both from the standpoint of the words and the music.  “You are what you eat” does not only apply to food.  It applies to what you read, listen to, see, write, everything that goes into your brain.

Soft is powerful.  It is more powerful than strong or hard.  A soft word spoken will produce more love than any hard or strong or harsh word ever has.  A soft touch will enhance, empower, enlighten, and inspire.

Use the power of soft.  Experience it’s power.

a season of hope

This one is going to be just a little bit personal but I feel the need to share to a level that could potentially be of benefit to many readers (I sincerely hope anyway).

First let me begin by discussing this time of year. I call it that because it is NOT what most people think. We call it many things. Most all of those things are nothing more or less or short of marketing sch-peal, schlep, or other expletive. Any way you look at it… this time or season of the year never really measures up to all of the hype it is given even though we all would desperately love for it to do so.

In order to be politically correct, most government agencies call it “Winter Holiday” or “Winter Break.” Those in the Judeo Christian realm call it Christmas (I’ll go into that just a bit more shortly).  Yuletide, Hanukkah, Inti Raymi, Winter Solstice, Pancha Ganapati, Yalda, Kwanzaa, all are names for winter celebrations at this time of year.  No matter what you call it, no matter what you are celebrating during this time of year, all of the religions, cults, peoples, nations, everyone seems to be in a festive mood though shadowed by guilt and longing, loneliness or loss, pressures and strains of the expectations of what has become much more cosmetic and commercial than true to its original purpose.

The Hallmark channel is laden with Christmas movies/shows with a very religious depth of intent.  It is so “preacheristic” in its approach that it is appalling to me.  The very fact that the “Christmas story” is so convoluted to the point of a sheer lie is repulsive to me.  Interesting though that, while repulsed by the lie of the regularly played Church version of the birth of Jesus, I still do like to listen to various Christmas stories and watch “White Christmas” (the old version with Bing) or “Its a Wonderful Life” (yes… the B&W version) every year.  Truth is… I love this time of year too.  I love the original theme of hope and peace and goodwill.

So… you wonder what I’m talking about where the “Church Christmas Story” is concerned…?  This repulsion comes from a long history of being told that this is the way it is and it is true and finding later in life that what I was told is NOT true.  That’s right folks.  The Christmas story of Christ’s birth is a farce.  While Jesus was born and history does prove that, the probability that he was born on December 25th has two chances of being true.  Slim and none.  That is if you truly believe what the bible says as being true.  Shepard(s) are not out in their fields watching their flocks by night during the winter months.  That alone makes the story a lie.  However, you can also include the fact that the wise men were not at the birth (they came to see him when he was “a young child”), Jesus was probably a stone mason and not a carpenter (he [Jesus] never mentions woodworking though he mentions stone work often), and there is no evidence that there ever was an “inn” in Bethlehem (that word should have been translated “lodging”).  That being said, no inn, no inn keeper, no wise men, and you have the church lie-ing  to it’s congregation annually.  Sad but true.

BUT… this IS a season of hope.  A season of peace, of love, of goodwill, family reuniting, gathering with friends, sharing of resources with others, and hopefully enjoying a time of celebration WITH each other.  There is even a part of each of us that becomes more willing to give.  Give to others.  Others that have less than we may have or just have the need.  It is a more selfless time.  A time of introspection and reflection.  A time when we become thankful for even the smallest of what we have been given or have.

It is a time of year that I get to and do spend more time in self reflection than most of the rest of the year.  That, in and of itself, is one of the more beneficial aspects for me.  I hope the same for each and every one of you reading this.

I loved what I saw on a Christmas ornament just the other day.  “Music is Gods gift to us in order for us to pray without words.”  And this is a time of year that much music is inspired, written, and performed.  The best musicians convey feeling through their music whether through words or through the music itself.  We are blessed often during this time of year with much feeling in the music.  It comes from within the person and is passed along to each of us.  Again, we share.

I feel particularly blessed.  Even though I have had and still have personal adversity, I am greatly blessed.  I am once again able to feel the joy of family and friends.  Some but not all.  Still some.  Some have been lost.  Some have willfully withdrawn.  This is true for most of us.  Yet, without the pain of separation I would not know the blessing of what I have.

For those who are going through a period of time in their lives where they do not have what they wish they had in a relationship, I would like to encourage you to do two things.  First, believe that you will someday find that special someone in your life.  And second I’d wish that you take time to reflect on the family you do have, the friends who do care for you, for what you have even if not much.  There are thousands and thousand with less.

It is essentially your choice.  You can choose to be stuck and depressed or you can choose to believe that it will get better.  I follow the old saying “If you think you can’t you are right.  If you think you can, you are also very right.”  We choose each day to be happy or to be defeated.  Choose to live.  Choose to love.  In so doing, there is hope.

Peace be unto you.  Of the peace I have, I give to you.  Merry Christmas to you.  My God be with you.

what is a “real” friend

Friends….

This is something that has come to life even more so more recently than in previous years. It could be that I am reflecting more than I used to. It could be that things that have come into my life have stirred the pot enough to bring things to the surface that have long been lingering deep within that can just now be seen.

Its not that I’ve not known what or who my true friends are. I think most of us, if we are truthful with ourselves (not always an easy thing to do) really know about our friends anyway. Many times, even if we choose to ignore reality, deep within us we already know things that become evident whether we want them to or not.

The TV show “Friends” though comical does show a few aspects of what friends are though my thoughts about friendship go deeper as I would hope yours would.

There has been an email that has gone around on the internet for some time now.  “A good friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting beside you say “D@$# that was fun!”” (double quotes intended)  There are so many good quotes about friends and I choose here to list a few:

A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails. ~Donna Roberts

A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart. ~Author Unknown

A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably. ~William Penn

Friends are God’s ways of apologizing for our families. ~ Anonymous

I can trust my friends. These people force me to examine, encourage me to grow. ~ Cher

In the past few years a number of relationship changes have taken place in my life.  A few of those changes awakened me in ways I can only be thankful for now though at the time some of those events or changes were difficult to take.  Looking back I have learned valuable lessons which I would not and could not have learned any other way though I very seriously hope that you do not have to endure these types of events to learn them.  In some ways, maybe I went through them so that you would not have to.  I do not wish to share all of what happened that made these life changes but I do wish to share with you what I feel I have gained in all of this.  This is not to say that I will not answer questions.  I will so long as it does not cause harm to others.  Some things will remain secret only to me or a very select few that already know.

Some friends only really come to light in your life when the chips are down or the burden is heavy.  They have felt some similitude of this heaviness in their own lives and can empathize with you and so share in your pain.  They can ease your burden because they identify with you and share your hurt with you making the load just a bit lighter.  These friends can sometimes already be good friends.  Some of these friends are only friends for this period in your life.  Just to be what you needed in your life for that very incident or trial.

Over the past few years I have been fortunate to find out who my real friends are.  I’ve gone through a divorce, challenges on the job, relationship changes, and even some changes to my core beliefs due to what I can only express as an awakening to truth I already knew was there but was afraid or unwilling to accept.  Either way, all in all, as several people (friends/acquaintances) have said over these last few years, “it’s all good” and  “it is what it is” (different quotes from different folks).

Lets speak to the “relationship changes” and “friends” issue.

One thing that I have had some difficulty with and am still not fully sure about is…  How do people that are in a emotional and physical relationship remain friends AFTER the relationship part of it ends?  Is it possible?  I’d like to say yes it is possible but there are too many things that can be a factor to make such a blanket statement.  Not the least of which, what does or would your next relationship partner think of you being friends with someone you have had such a close level of physical and emotional relationship with?  I know for a fact that the level to which the relationship attains is directly proportionate to the ability to remain friends does or does not exist on your own level.  What do I mean by that?  If you get deep into a relationship, it is nearly impossible to remain friends if the relationship ends.  If the physical and emotional relationship gets a bit heavy but never attains a level of commitment, well, it is possible to remain friends.  Or so I think.  I do know that my partner is not or does not feel threatened by some individuals where as she does or would by others.  Those that I have been more deeply involved with or are the most recent seem to present the biggest threat level to her.  So…  in conclusion to this topic, while it may be possible and in some cases it truly is possible on some level, it very likely would not be possible in most cases.  So far as my personal blog editor is concerned (she knows who she is) she can remain my friend.  The long term relationship and the other one that sent me into a downward spiral….  no.

In some ways this has been sad for me.  I am one of those that would love to be friends with everyone.  I would like the ability to help anyone as any need arises.  It just isn’t possible.  Not only could and would it cause issues in my current and very committed relationship, it is really not even possible.  I can not fix the world (shocker I know).  I can not help everyone even though I’d love to do so.  I can not be a friend to everyone though it seems as though it should be possible.

It is funny (strange) in a way.  There are friends that are very good friends that I seldom see that will always be and remain friends.  There are friends that I see often but we do very little together except for the occasional bike ride or a social meeting to have an adult beverage that I know for certain and without a doubt that I could count on if the chips were down and they could and can count on me as well in any circumstance.  These are true friends.  Ones that can say whatever they like and I will not get mad at them.  They can call me what they like.  They can call me when the want at any time.  I can do the same.  This is a true friend.  They can tell me I’m an a-hole and I get the message.  In most cases they are correct at that moment.  We all get to that point sometimes and we need those friends to do just exactly that.  To bring us back to reality and show us that we are not the epitome of perfection.  The world is not about us.  We have not suffered beyond the ability to recover.   And there IS someone who really gives a D about us.

Friends for life – this could be a blog all by itself.  Most people never have a friend that they can count on for their entire life.  It is said that you should count yourself lucky to find such a person.  Again, “most people” search for such a person throughout their lives.  The ideal person would be a mate.  Someone that you find to be your friend through thick and thin.  “For richer for poorer, till death do us part” type friend.  At least that is my opinion.  So far my record has not been good in this arena.  I’ve been through two divorces and a couple of really difficult relationships where I though the person I was with was my life-long friend.  It didn’t work for me at that time.  I’m still in hopes that the relationship I am currently in will be that type of relationship.  I feel it may be this time.  Wish me the best at this.  But don’t focus on me.  Focus on yourself.  I’m good with the one I’m with now.  We are challenging each other on various levels to verify.  We both have pasts that are coming into play but to me it is worth the effort and eventual results should we both pass the tests and there will be plenty.

I have a friend who found his mate early in life.  They don’t always seem to be getting along, but, I’ve noticed their commitment to each other and I am both amazed and encouraged by them.  I love them both even when they don’t love each other.

I have another friend who found his mate latter in life.  She had been married 5 times before him and he had been married a couple of times as well.  They have had their struggles yet they have dedicated themselves to each other this time around.  I’m encouraged by them as well.

I have another friend.  She has been married several times.  Twice to the same person in fact.  She is still with her last one and I’m encouraged by that.

In each of these previously mentioned relationships I find a pattern.  It is a commitment.  A commitment to each other.  A commitment to work WITH each other toward a goal.  A goal of dedicated acceptance and long lasting relationship.  A commitment to stick it out regardless of the cost.  Each of them is committed to living the rest of their lives together.  I’m thankful for each of them.

I am thankful for each and every friend I have.  Each of them is special in their own way.  One is more country while another is more sophisticated.  One is exciting while another is more subdued.  Each has their own contribution to my life and I hope that I contribute to theirs as much as they do to mine.  Each has a place.  Each has a purpose.  Each has an effect on my life and the way in which I live.  Each has played a part in my growth as an individual.  In fact, I’d say that this may be the most important aspect of it all.  If your friends do not help you to grow, if they bring you down or cause you to do or be something you should not be….  Well…  I’d say you need to think about getting some new friends.

One friend in particular has helped me to grow on a more spiritual/metaphysical level.  We have deep discussions.  We talk about anything and everything.  He learns from me and I learn from him.  It is funny in a way.  We seldom see each other outside of our work environment.  Yet, I count him a true friend.

As I said, each friend has had their special place in my life.  My partner is becoming more of a friend every day.  Though found late in life as compared to my other friends, I feel this will be a life long friend.  I wish for each and every one of you to be able to find such a person.  It is never to late.  It IS worth the effort AND the risks.  Yes risks.  In order for a person to be a friend, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to them.  Something that is much easier said than done.  Especially if you’ve been burned in the past.  Still, if you want a true friend, if you want someone that you can trust, if you want someone that will be honest with you, if you want a relationship with someone that will challenge you and help you and allow you to grow, you will have to open yourself to the possibility of being burned again.  In fact, count on it.  You will get burned.  You will experience pain of the heart.  Even from true friends.  None of us are perfect.  That’s right.  NONE of us.  Including you.  I know.  Tough to admit isn’t it.

So… how do you know?  How do you know if someone will be a true friend?

You don’t!

You just have to take the chance.  You have to try.

If you don’t, you WILL be lonely.  You WILL be alone.

You don’t have to be.

Take the chance.

Take the risk.

It IS worth it!

90 to nothing

There are those that feel the wind in their hair, the sand between their toes, hear the surf as it brushes itself across the rocks and on the shore. There are those that see the birds fly, see the beetles clamor across rough terrain, watch ants as they toil, wonder at the dolphin or a sting-ray, or marvel at the clouds, or hold their breath at the sight of grand mountains, vast oceans, mighty rivers, or deep gorges. To look in amazement at the magnificent design of a honeycomb or be baffled by the brilliance of color in a flower.

This is a colloquialism that I have recently learned and has become a part of  my life in recent months.  Why?  Because that is the way life is for most of us.  Constant business and rapid action non stop till we crash for a few hours at night so that we can start all over again the next day.

We see it every day.  People dart in and out of traffic trying to get to the next location.  Some do this while putting on make-up.  Some do this while driving with one knee, drinking their drink, and attempting to text or talk on the phone at the same time.  Businesses overload their workers with a plethora of responsibilities and threaten them with losing their job if they don’t measure up to their expectations.  Time is crunched into seconds.  Every second counts.  Every second must be productive.  Even weekends wind up being the same way.  Pounding every second so that the weekend is full of something.  We must get everything done that is possible to be done in as short a time as possible.

We fall asleep late at night and wake early in the morning just to make that extra minute count.  Stress makes it that much harder to get sleep so we wind up working more and sleeping less.  We are killing ourselves and wasting our lives failing to see.  Failing to feel.  Failing to be in touch with ourselves and those around us.  Failing to notice the things most important.  Failing to be aware.  Failing to be.

When was the last time you sat still without falling asleep?  No… not reading.  Not watching TV or anything.  To be still.

I read an article recently that spoke about a man that had a horse that was dieing in the stable.  This horse’s head was in his lap in the center of the stable.  All other horses were in their respective stalls facing away from the center of the stable where this horse was dying.  At the moment the horse took its last breath, all of the other horses turned and faced the center of the stable, held their heads over the stall gate and began to whinny.  They instinctivly knew that the other horse had died.  There was an awareness that we humans seldom experience.  Some of us may.  Most would not.

Is it because they are in tune with their surroundings?  Is it because they have so little in their lives that the earth is what they feel?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that we do not spend enough time being in tune with the people or things around us.  We take very little time to acknowledge the earth, its beauty, or its source of life to us.  The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food it provides, so many things to which we are so oblivious.

This is not to say that all of us are like this.  There are those that are more in tune with nature than others.  There are those that do not feel that the almighty dollar is the most significant thing in life.  There are those that feel the wind in their hair, the sand between their toes, hear the surf as it brushes itself across the rocks and on the shore.  There are those that see the birds fly, see the beetles clamor across rough terrain, watch ants as they toil, wonder at the dolphin or a sting-ray, or marvel at the clouds, or hold their breath at the sight of grand mountains, vast oceans, mighty rivers, or deep gorges.  To look in amazement at the magnificent design of a honeycomb or be baffled by the brilliance of color in a flower.

I challenge you to open your eyes to the people and things around you.  Look for the beauty in all things.   Be at peace with yourself and with others and with all things.  Put on the brakes just a bit and slow down.  You might even “stop and smell the coffee.” (or roses… whichever suits your taste)