If you claim to be a real friend then be real in your soul. If you claim to be fake then be an enemy instead-
I was in my early 30′s when we first met. This particular marathon was in a beautiful and exotic part of war-torn Baghdad, Iraq. I did not like it from the start and it only got worse from there …
I nuzzled my way onto the starting line cocky, arrogant, and self-centered. I couldn’t stand the thought of having to run through the pack, outlasting the early sprinters and generally weaving through the pedestrians. Much to my dismay, I faded back 10 miles into this scorching hot race. This was just another marathon, but I was the same person.
And there I was at the next big race in Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The same person I was a year earlier followed me to this race as well …
It finally dawned on me, blonde hair and all, that it was I, who needed to change or else I would be my own worst enemy for the rest of my life. As I began to walk the path of meaningful change in my life, I came to realize my poor marathon performances were a metaphor for the way my life works. I can cast blame and run away from poor performances, although they will keep returning until I finally face them, and owe up to them.
Over the past three years of blogging. I tried at times, and failed more often than I like, to share with you, thinking out-loud, why these particular traits of me bother me so much.
Once I set out to change myself all those years ago, I started to notice that the “old” me doesn’t come around as much anymore. When these feelings do arise out of nowhere? I tap deeper into my inner compassion and gratitude … Noticing that in some ways, I have been trying to help myself all along, I was just to cocky, arrogant, and self-centered to notice.
My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus-
This past Thursday I walked into a local novelty store in the Omaha Old Market. “Good afternoon – How are you?” A kind worker asked me, a little too enthusiastic for the morning I was having. Life has been dreadful so far this Summer, and facing some stressful moments at the time … I did not shy away pretending all was fine.
I muttered, “I’m OK.” She replied back while stocking gift cards in a display, “Just OK? Not awesome? It’s a beautiful day outside! Cheer up dude, you should be thankful for what you have?”
There was no smile on my face this particular day. Although I still had gratitude and joy in my heart. Sometimes, expressing kindness and giving thanks does not require a peppy cheerleading routine.
The message I am sharing today is a touch different from the norm around these parts. Simply put - There are times when we are experiencing difficult moments in our lives, and its hard to be – Awesome. Sometimes, openly telling others to “cheer up” and “be thankful for what you have” is a strategy for avoiding what they may be going through in the moment, the pain, the hurting and struggle.
It’s really easy to tell someone to cheer up. Rather than taking a moment to listen to what is going on in their lives…
All of us will face difficult moments in our lives, piss poor marathon this past weekend, stress at work and whatever else. Grief is a part of life and no matter how hard we try – we will never outrun it. We don’t have to have everything going right in order to be thankful, to express ever lasting kindness, in any situation.
Even chance meetings are the result of karma… Things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence-
Its a beautiful morning and the perfect time to discuss karma.
I often hear from different folks (I personally contemplate these thoughts as well) who want to know why they are struggling, when others are not (running specific this morning). The vast majority of them think their training/performance is some sort of “karmic retribution” for a fleeting, bad action in the past – Heaven forbid we eat three pieces of wedding cake the day before a race! Fast forward to limping across the finish line, emotional and sick because “bad karma” doomed them to suffer from the very start.
This next bit is a memo to myself: The simple truth about Karma? Karma is about the nature of our intentions, our intentions in this very moment.
When we respond to our intention and action(s), with kindness, compassion, and generosity? We are planting the seeds of change, slowly blossoming into someone who is kind, compassionate, and generous. We are defining our character, which in turn has a pretty cool effect on the world around us.
The teachings of Buddha in regards to karma can be life changing. Each one of us posses the ability to change ourselves no matter how ingrained our habits may be, even blaming a poor performance on wedding cake. As some wise dude once said: “Intending, one does karma.”
No matter how hard you try, there are times when things just don’t go as planned. And, it’s not because you are doing something wrong. It is because the thing you are after is not designed for you. It is not a part of your destiny-
The subtle art of paying attention to the details in the present moment – Mindfulness. We don’t often “think” we are engaged in the process of being mindful … Whether through practicing yoga early one morning, listing to the birds playing riding to work, taking in the beauty of a lone daisy swaying in a field … Without getting caught up in where these moment may be leading us.
The past week has been rough, I have to admit that it’s been hard to focus on the present moment; my reckless past and gentle future seem to be taking up all the free space in my brain these days (which isn’t much to begin with). My practice of Ahiṃsā, has fallen out of balance of late as well. Pushing a little too hard mountain bike racing, and not paying attention while commuting to work – Life pro tip: Railroad tracks are “slippery when wet” … Not honoring my true spirit and self has been anything but mindful of late.
This beautiful moment right now, reminds me that the present moment contains the possibility for all things, including freedom from suffering, picking splinters and little gravel bits from the battered left side of my body. Being mindful right now? Is not going to make my bruises and scars magically disappear, reverse the abuse I have put my body through this past week, put the Colorado Avalanche back in playoffs, or even re true my front wheel.
My Dear Reader(s) we are here, in this beautiful – crazy mess for other reasons as well … To marinate in this tender (literally) moment – fully present and mindful. Have a fantastic weekend, and please take care!