Friday, February 13, 2015

Linda's Merry-Go-Round

Some people have obsessions with lining things up neatly, matching things, creating symmetry and order. My obsession is dissecting unanswerable, seemingly unprovable questions. Why is there air? Should I be concerned about black holes in the Galaxy? Is there a totally different dimension that exists and is teaming with activity all around us and we just don't see it because we have no concept that it actually exists?
I can sit by a stream for hours and let my mind wonder in a hundred different directions. Where has the water been? Where will it go? What's swimming beneath the surface? Who's watching the water upstream and down?
I don't mind that I don't know the answers. Imagining all the possibilities is the pleasure of it. If I think I've arrived at an answer, I'll let it leap to the next question. Then I take answers and tear them apart seeking both the complexity and the simplicity. No single authority on the subject can stop my curiosity.
My single favorite topic to ponder is what motivates each of us to do and believe the things we do and believe? Most people seem to want to arrive at the answer and be done with the question. For me it is an endless quest. The possibilities are endless. I love the journey. There is so much more to know and understand. No single authority on the subject can stop my curiosity.
The more someone insists that something is a certain way and I must simply accept it, the greater my curiosity about how much is not known and why the need to insist on this one answer. I know, deep down, there is more. I'll sail my ship far into the ocean beyond the horizon and discover the world is not flat. I will not drop off the edge.
I see something else. It's always been that way. I've tried to conform. I've tried to accept a flat world but deep in my soul, I can't believe it. There is more. I'm happy to keep searching. The questions are as important as the answers. If I keep searching, the answers today are just stepping stones. Across this creek lies a path to a beautiful meadow full of treasures that spark more questions and greater awe in discovery.
For me it's ok that everything is not wrapped up neatly and orderly. It's ok to have more questions than answers. Looking around there seems to be as much chaos as there is order. And yet, over time, even chaos has some form of symmetry. Round and Round I go - Linda's Merry-Go-Round - full of music and dancing horses. But in my Merry-Go-Round the horses and I trot off in whatever direction seems to offer greater understanding.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Over 6800 Languages in the World

There are more than 6800 languages in the world. Imagine that! And each of those languages represent distinct cultures. In one culture there are words that cannot be accurately interpreted in another language because there simply are no equivalent words. For example, the Inuit language has 50 different words for snow. We may add a descriptive word to describe the snow but not likely 50 of them. They understand snow quite differently from most of the rest of us.
Are we wrong not to have so many words for snow? Or are they wrong for having so many?
Even within the English language there are distinct variations based on culture. Compare British, American, Canadian and Australian English. What's a lift in one country is something else in the next. Compare the words fag, bonnet, barbie, molly.... one English country to the next. Who's wrong? Who's right?
Many Americans insist that being in this country requires speaking English. And Northwestern PA people should know not to ask for "pop" outside of this region.
Compare how we order our sentences to other languages. It reflects the importance we place on certain things. How we structure our conversations is also very telling. We don't place a great deal of emphasis on larger context and connection. Cultures that place a great deal of emphasis on larger context choose their words and structure their communication much differently - always putting the context first.
Our use of language, our selection of words, our structure of communication not only reflects our culture but also provides a framework for our thought processes. We are prone to focus on "the point". The problem is one point looses a lot of context. There is always a larger context.
We need to understand that our words, the way we frame them, the way we link them together is a reflection of who we are and the very small context of our individual experience.
The single word "snow" is not enough for an Inuit person. They see snow through very different eyes and with a very different experience. If there are so many different words for snow and 6800 different languages in the world, is it so hard to accept that there are many ways to express spiritual understanding? How can there even be words to perfectly express such things? These are things you cannot touch, see, taste, smell. Spiritual understanding is something within. The meaning it has within your life is yours and yours alone. The truth of it shows in what you do with it.
Whatever words you put to it won't change the truth of it. There are no words for it. Insisting that someone else match your expression of it is rather odd. If we are at peace with our spiritual understanding, we can simply live it. It doesn't require affirmation from anyone else. If it is truth and we live it well, there is no need to bend another to our will. If we are connected deeply to that spirit that is fully open and within us, it flows into all those around us as well. No words make that happen. We live it and we pass it on. Not with words but with spirit. Let's stop letting words trip us up so much.

Friday, February 6, 2015

We need to talk....

We need to talk to each other. We need to talk about things with people we may not agree. It can be very positive. Take a deep breath and listen.
Three times this week I felt very encouraged in talking with people who don't share my perspective on some issues. The three issues were hot topics - Islam and Christianity, Healthcare, and Global Warming. Each conversation began with a statement of conclusion that I don't share. I followed with "Well..." and my perception of a baseline of fact. What was wonderful is that each then offered another statement of fact that persuaded them. We didn't dismiss each other. We listened. On both sides we acknowledged, at least, an understanding of the others point of view. As we talked we found common ground.
It was civil and respectful conversation. We didn't come to total agreement. But I walked away feeling good and feeling like I learned something. I won't be afraid to talk with any of them again about any topic we may not agree about. After the one conversation I actually felt we had come up with the most logical solution and our national leaders should be doing just what we talked about.
I really like talking with people with differing perspectives when discussions are mindful and meaningful. It's impossible to get that level of discussion on line. We need to hear the tone of voice. We need the fluidity of real time conversation. We need to be able to look into the other person's eyes.
It has me thinking that I need to be cautious in my reaction to on line comments. I'm often tempted to jump on a facebook post that is a statement of conclusion that I don't share. Perhaps I need to ask that person to lunch and try to understand how they came to that conclusion. I might be pleased to discover the quality of character and thought I encountered this week. We might not agree at the end of the conversation but I might learn something.
I write a lot of things and make a lot of statements that may cause a person to want to react to me in the way I have felt like reacting at times or have reacted at times. If you read this and say "Yes, you have done that, " invite me to lunch. You might not change my opinion but I'm open to learning something.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shedding Fear

Do you let your light shine?
Sometimes fear gets the better of us. We may not realize it has taken hold and is holding us back. Sometimes we do.
How often have you said, "I can't do that because I'm afraid of...." Maybe it's a fear of heights. Maybe it's a fear of confined space. Maybe it's a fear of saying the wrong thing - doing the wrong thing - being criticized or ostracized. Sometimes we just can't take the next step because of a fear that we cannot name. The minute we say "I'm afraid of" or "I can't do that because", we empower our fear. Fear is debilitating.
We will sometimes say it as though everyone should understand and accept that we limit ourselves in this fear. We all have some level of fear. Some level of fear may be necessary for survival.  But it is not good when we hang onto, grow and accept fears that limit our ability to function at full capacity in life. Some level of fearlessness is important for survival and even more important for self actualization.
Shedding needless fear is just about the most important thing we can learn to do. So, how do we determine if our fear is needless?  Look around you. Find people who don't have that fear and find out why they don't. Some of them may have had the same fear you do now. They can tell you how they got over it. And they are likely to tell you it wasn't easy but it was worth it. Ask them what made it worth it.
You can do it too.
Fear diminishes our life. It robs us of experiences we could have. It robs us of accomplishment. And if may even shorten our life by years. It is a source of stress and stress kills. Don't let fear grow!
Try this. When you actually do something that you once feared so much that you wouldn't do it, say this "Once I was too afraid to do this. I am thankful I am no longer too afraid to do it." Then change that to "I am thankful I can do this!"
Let your light shine!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

To be the best me I can be.....

We live in a most amazing time. Sitting in front of our computer screen we can access more information than can be contained in the largest library. We can read history, current news, philosophy, religious beliefs and just about anything that can be imagined. If ever there was an age of enlightenment, it is right in front of us. The opportunity to learn from any of the great masters of any subject is right here - right now.
But opportunity is often overlooked. We learn by stepping outside of our comfort zone. When we hear new ideas and new concepts for the first time, it's hard to understand and make sense of them. We try to fit them into existing categories and if they seem to oppose what we already believe to be true, we have a real problem. Dismiss them or re-consider what we believed was true.
If you are a person with natural curiosity and a desire to learn, it's not quite as difficult. But it is challenging to re-assess your belief system. You have to let go of your ego, open your heart and listen to the universal spirit that is all around you. You have to develop the explorer mindset - the desire to go beyond whatever you have been taught to believe. You have to believe that there is more to know. You have to believe there are places of the spirit that are not yet explained or understood - at least not yet by you.
This is where I find myself. Religion often offends me because it presents itself as having the end all - be all - answers. It's full of doctrine that people repeat like robots with little understanding or concern about the actual meaning behind it. It becomes something to hang onto like a rope in the middle of a river. Don't let go of the rope or you might float somewhere terrible. So, everyone is just hanging onto this rope believing it is saving them from some terrible demise. I'm willing to let go of the rope and discover what's down river. And I'm seeing some great scenery.
We get so caught up in lifelines - hanging onto terms and ways of expressing things - and we cannot see beyond our fears. We can't learn anything if we are certain we already know it all. There are great commonalities across all beliefs and even the belief in no great deity at all. There is something that binds us all. Yes, some have been so damaged that they can no longer see the bond but it is still there nonetheless.
We need to stop poking one another in the eye insisting that there is just this one language - one path - one understanding - one way. I know atheists and agnostics who are more generous and more dedicated to humanity than some religious folk I know. It's not convincing to me to say that  a belief or a prayer will guarantee a greater reward in some afterlife. I cannot believe you can be bitter, judgmental, self centered and self righteous but you pray to God and Jesus - go to church - and you're selected above all others.
I do believe that our spirit, our energy, lives on somehow. But I also recognize that I believe that because I was carefully taught to believe it. It's a theory. It's a guess. My curious explorer self seeks evidence. That "evidence" is not something I can experience with my normal senses. I have to seek with my spirit - my intuition - my ability to "believe" or to suspend disbelief. All things are possible.
What is probable?
What can I live with?
What belief will motivate me to be more, do more today? That is what counts for me. What will inspire me TODAY to be a better person for myself and for those around me? My mission is to be a creator - to make something more each day for myself and those around me. TODAY. I don't need anyone and any thing to dictate that to me. I may be inspired by a message at church. I may be inspired by a story on the news. I may be inspired by an immersive experience observing nature. My spirit seeks inspiration. My spirit seeks collaboration. My spirit seeks truth and understanding. But I trained my spirit to seek these things. TODAY. Tomorrow and the afterlife will come. I don't need a ticket. I don't need a rope. I don't need to poke anyone else in the eye. Though sometimes I want to. I need to be the best me I can be. I need to encourage and inspire others to do the same.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Be careful of the "No Souls"

Sometimes something gets my attention and troubles me. It is like a puzzle that's confounding and I feel a need to solve it, yet know it's not solvable. Mostly it's about trying to understand why a person behaves a certain way. They mystify me. Can there be any logic to how they think?
Some days there seem to be so many instances of lack of reason or logic that it's overwhelming.
How can members of our community perpetrate fraud after fraud for decades and escape accountability?
Why do young people feel a need to bully?
How does anyone loose empathy for another human to the point that they can torture, bomb, be-head, shoot another human being?
How can anyone be anti-abortion AND against birth control?
How can anyone applaud an effort to "repeal and replace" something and NOT know what the replacement is supposed to be?
How can we believe there is no budget to solve problems and watch the waste of thousands, millions, and billions on senseless projects?
As a young teen I remember feeling like I was from a different planet. This world seemed like a very foreign place. It's still a great mystery to me. I may be returning to the conclusion I made then. It seemed to me there were actually only a limited number of people who actually had souls. The rest are born without one. It's not easy sometimes to tell who doesn't have one. So we have to be really careful. The "no-souls" are very tricky. And it's not a good idea to let them know you have one because they will try to steal it. But we need to connect with the people who actually have souls so we have to let ours show. It's like running a gauntlet with "no souls" trying to grab yours as you run toward those who might have a soul too.
Watch for the ones quietly and diligently doing the real work. They are the ones with real souls. They make sense and they create something real and lasting. Meanwhile, the "no souls" are screaming and beating their chests while leaving a path of destruction.

Friday, January 2, 2015

If I had one wish...

If I had one wish, just one, I would wish for every child to have someone special that they know loves them unconditionally. Unconditional love has a profound effect on any life but in those formative years - those years of finding your way in the world - unconditional love gives you hope and security that can carry you through many decades.
When someone loves you unconditionally, you don't want to disappoint them. You know they see your shortcomings. They know about your mistakes. But they keep on loving you. The glow in their eyes never wavers when they see you. You know their love is so deep that nothing will ever take it away. They inspire you to keep trying to be more.
Every child needs to experience that kind of love. My grandparents gave me that. They were close enough to see all my mistakes. I know they worried about my choices. But always in their eyes I saw that deep love that I knew would never go away. They had to be disappointed with me at times but if they expressed it, I don't remember it. I just remember the overwhelming sense of endless love. And though they are long gone, I feel it still.
My grandparents were fun, funny, playful spirits in my young life. And when I have the opportunity to spend time with little people, I remember the spirit they shared with me - the love they showed me. I let out the fun, funny, playful spirit.
Maybe we don't have to wait for those kind of moments. Maybe - no matter what age we are - we can connect with a more fun, funny, playful spirit. Inside, we all have a child that needs loved unconditionally. If I had one wish, just one, perhaps it should be for all of us to be that special someone who knows how to love unconditionally. As we find our way in the world, it would provide hope and security.