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.
Arousal begins within the mind, then seeps out where fantasy propels physicality-
Is striking a match necessary in order to light a candle? The initial sparks of a freshly lit candle can yield a warm blaze, and the same simple action(s) can be applied to lighting our inner fire.
The passion building in our hearts matters just as much as what our muscles are doing in regards to sparks that can start a fire. If you are thinking about your workout program tomorrow morning, segment planning on Strava, picking out your running clothes and making sure your yoga pants are ready to go … These feelings of passion are likely to arise. If you are focused on the way your body “looks“, the woman who just breezed by you, comparing yourself to everyone in the crowd or fleeting fantasies of how “hot” and “toned” you will be after class? Odds are that your passion will decrease …
The key word folks is focus. States of flow, including flow during yoga class and while out riding early one morning, depend upon my focused attention (otherwise I keep awaking old injuries). Hence, I prefer to spark my fire by using a magnifying glass – Like a beam of light, the more pinpoint my focus, the more intense my states of flow are. A magnifying glass can intensify and focus sunlight to the point that a single beam of light will cause the candle upon which it is focused, to burn into flame … What actions do you take, to spark your inner fire?
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.
The parts of me that used to think I was different or smarter or whatever, almost made me die-
Nineteen powerful words by David Foster Wallace that truly defined who I used to be.
Last night, while making pizza with my Son, I missed an entire meaningful conversation about the new Star Wars movie he was trying to have with me. I was completely tuned out, and not because I was engrossed in making pizza and snacking on tortilla chips, but because I was engrossed in a NPR news story being played through a small speaker attached to my gadget-thing.
Side Note: Men reading this morning, and ladies alike – because as cunning and sly as you may be … I enjoy taking an extra-long time in the bathroom with my iThingy, I use my small arsenal of “mindless” apps as a means to escape the stress and chaos that often seems to accompany me throughout the day.
These periods of mindless isolation normally do not last very long, usually until one leg falls asleep or NPR news starts getting all high-minded and political while preparing dinner. I genuinely welcome these temporary escapes from the daily grind, although, how much is too much? Honestly, I don’t have an answer to give you and I’d be surprised if anyone else does either.
Perhaps, maybe, it would be ideal if we reintroduced “intention” and “purpose” to our gadget use, even during the times when we are not using them. How cool would it be if we motivated each other to unplug at a time we are normally plugged in? Raise your hand if you are on your gadget minutes after finishing yoga class, in the restroom or making dinner?!? – notice my hands waving in the breeze - Just imagine the new sounds, the new encounters that awaken when we expose our true selves, to the very real world we call home …
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.”