For a Dear Friend
The aspen glitters in the wind
And that delights us.
The leaf flutters, turning,
Because that motion in the heat of August
Protects its cells from drying out. Likewise the leaf
Of the cottonwood.
The gene pool threw up a wobbly stem
And the tree danced. No.
The tree capitalized.
No. There are limits to saying,
In language, what the tree did.
It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.
Dance with me, dancer. Oh, I will.
The aspen doing something in the wind.
I’m grateful for what you’ve done—and I’m ungrateful for what you haven’t done. A cup half full of coffee is also half full of sleep-
A little over 8 years ago, I traveled and worked in the Middle East and Southwest Asia for two years. I was miserable, unhappy, and I spent a vast amount of time alone, worrying about what the future had in store for me.
Travelling around Afghanistan and parts of western Pakistan had a profound effect on me. I befriended a local man on the Pakistan border named Ajiphan, we were close in age and shared many similarities in life. I feel in love with his country. However, Ajiphans life was a daily struggle of survival for him and his family – Will there be enough food and water to make it through the day, shelter at night and fuel to warm themselves during the harsh winter months.
When I returned home to Nebraska, I felt as though I had a completely new perspective on life. I felt incredibly lucky to live in a part of the world where life is easy, where even the poorest folks seemed wealthy when viewed from my perspective. After witnessing many beautiful people struggling with the basics of life, I felt incredibly lucky to be healthy, a roof over our heads and not having to worry about what will be for dinner. Looking back now I remember saying to myself when I arrived home, “‘My days of complaining about trivial things in life are over … ”
Of course it didn’t last. My appreciative frame of mind lingered for a few weeks, then slowly I began to take my situation for granted, and returned to the same state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction as before. Instead of “waking up” to the reality of the our phenomenal world and of life’s situations? Bitching and moaning (for me) was easier.
My Son and I watched Big Trouble in Little China over the weekend, a favorite movie of mine and Ajiphans. We watched this movie no fewer than a dozen times on my computer, which was powered by a generator. Sitting in a warm shelter, snacking on naan-e afghani, while enjoying a cup of black tea. I genuinely miss his companionship, and everything he taught me about this “thing” called life. Be well my friend, I miss you.
A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for-
At the risk of mentioning something new, doing “things” a little bit different for a change … I have sensed for some time that many of my kind and passionate readers (just like you) need a pinch of courage to get them to finally go after their hearts desire, whatever that may be. Maybe its shedding the thought of looking silly in yoga class, or out-of-place at the gym. I personally know it takes a lot of courage to say no to running and choosing a nice relaxing walk instead. I could go on and on with examples, instead here is a tidy little list of ideas to be courageous today.
Make a mistake during yoga class today, like on purpose.
Follow your hearts desire while ordering a coffee.
Say, “I don’t know” instead of “I’ll look it up … “
Genuinely ask for help from someone, instead of asking Siri.
Share your vulnerable moments, openly.
Trust your inner intuition, the crazier the better.
Let the past be just that – The past.
Say “yes” to the things you want and “no” to those things you don’t.
Ask someone how they are this morning, and really listen to their answer, instead of formulating your own.
Let go of your need to control everything, all of the time.
Let go of being busy this afternoon.
Say kind things to yourself, whilst staring into a mirror.
Be open to changing course, even at the very last moment.
How have I been courageous this beautiful morning?
I set some new personal boundaries, listened to and trusted my instincts, decided to say no to riding to work – instead choosing to practice yoga instead. I penned a self-serving advice post, which many of you know I loathe … Be well today and please take care!
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.
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!
A good traveller is one who knows how to travel with the mind-
What a jerk! I know, I just know that he cut me off in the pace line, on purpose none the less! Here I am, falling off the back of the pack … The race is over 20km in! Or is it?!?
Like you, I am an expert in regards to mind-reading. I used to walk through life ass-uming that if another person’s behavior caused me distress in any way, they must have intended to make me feel this way. Those filthy bastards!
I was addicted to attributing my negative motives and thoughts to someone else and their behavior. Why not – their actions did sting a little bit and they kinda pissed me off. My subjective (and biased) interpretation of other folks, rather than their behavior, finally made me lose my, cool.
Then something truly cool started to happen. It started with a deep breath, and then gently changing my inner dialog, slowly, patiently – I subdued the thoughts of starting a confrontation, replacing them with – “I won’t assume anything; These thoughts will pass” … “No mind-reading today, not now.”
Tuning into myself, rather than magnifying the stress when I was beginning to get upset, needing to address the other person, eyebrows furled, sweaty fists clenched … “It’s Saturday afternoon dude, the NHL and NBA playoffs are on, the sun is up! We’ll get ‘em next time around!”
Have a beautiful weekend friends and please take care!
The world isn’t fair, Calvin.”
“I know Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?-
I want to go back and touch on “should” thoughts for a moment before we move onto today’s post. Contemplative thought is truly a brilliant tool to exploring your true potential, just not when its time to perform. I like to call these – trigger happy thoughts or reactive thoughts. Let’s dive a little deeper and to maintain some clarity, I’m relating the post today to competitive outings and more specifically: Running.
What are your initial thoughts and feelings when I tell you that “Fairness” – Is a fallacy? Fairness is rubbish and compete utter nonsense?
Many of us (maybe this hits close to home for you) … Cloak ourselves with the falsehood that there exists only a single standard of fairness and – SPOILER ALERT! – It’s our very own! What we consciously choose to ignore, and this is when we start our “should” thinking, is that fairness is a completely subjective concept, based on our individual needs, expectations, and values. The big boy truth, is that your definition of what’s fair? Is completely self-serving (mine included).
If your buttons have been pushed in the past, or even right now because you thought you were being treated unjustly? Let me share a classic example most runners have lamented about: “I should not be in the 30-39 year old age bracket! It’s too competitive! If only the race organizers would change the ages – my time in a different bracket would get me on the podium!”
The next time you find yourself questioning fairness, your mind clouded with “should” thoughts? Try this on for size at the starting line – What I see as fair? Is a direct reflection of my own deeply held personal preferences. Then proceed to run the race of your life!