Aim High

I’m trying to raise roughly $10,000 to take the next step in creating a beautiful space for people. Last week I added up the gifts. They came in at roughly $6,5oo. I’m aiming high, I’m hitting reality.

We all  have hopes, and hopefully some of them are high. I’m for aiming high no matter what we hit.

I have high hopes to know God, I mean really know him, personally, to be like Abraham, God’s friend. We talk, God and I, some, and sometimes I hear him. I’m aiming high; I am hitting reality.

Over the last three to four years I have written about 3,5oo axioms, epigrams, thought proverbs, wisdoms. I am aiming high, attempting to contribute to the store of wisdom in the world, attempting to add to the English language. A couple of people have repeated my lovelies,  a few websites have carried them, I quote myself from time-to-time. I am aiming high, sometimes I fall low, I am hitting reality — with as much wit, pith, drollery, and linguistics unholiness as I can muster.

I am also attempting to lead an old church into a new era, an era of freedom, of creativity, of beauty, of honoring individuals, of knowing God, of healthy relationships. of honesty. It’s fun; it’s a lot of work. We are rebranding, remodeling, re-energizing, refining. We are a re-church in a re-era doing re-theology. We have gained many new people, we have lost some too, to moves, the military, to life. We are aiming high. We are hitting reality.

Here is the deal. Aim at nothing, hit whatever happens to be flying by, or hit nothing, which isn’t actually a hit at all. Aim at something high, a least you have a chance to hit  something that is along the road to high.

I hate giving up, quitting, whining, negativity, low standards, cynicism, criticalness, not aiming, not getting anywhere.

Being negative or being apathetic is so chicken!

I love trying, especially trying hard things, and the apricity that comes to one through pluck, and trying again, and having another go at it, and celebrating the soigné that exists in everyday effort, and the neuroplasticity of the active mind —  eunoia, affirmation, helpfulness.

I love aiming high.

It’s high, even when it’s lower.

Secrecy, Shame and Healing

I asked someone recently why they had kept something from me that would have been best to just get out sooner than they eventually did. I assumed it was because they knew that what they were doing was harmful,  but wanted to keep doing it anyway.

That may have been a part  of the motive for the secrecy — the motive of desiring to continue the guilty pleasure — but it wasn’t the main reason.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I finally asked, straight up.

“I was ashamed,” they said.

I can identify. We all keep stuff to ourselves that would be shameful to tell, if nothing else, some of our thoughts. This is normal, protective, even sometimes appropriate.

It’s just that some things need to come out to be recovered from. Some things need the light of day to remove the fear and guilt and shame and anger that remains when they are kept closeted in the dark.

Sharing a shameful thing can be freeing, theraputic, healing, especially if someone who had power over us coerced us into keeping it a secret. By speaking shameful things, we can sometimes defeat them.  By speaking about wrong, we can rob it of some of its power over us.

“There,” we can say when we have said it. “I said it!” It’s out! I don’t have to contain it, house it, let it rot in me, alone, anymore!”

By getting secret stuff out — wrong stuff that really happened — we begin to take control again. By speaking the truth, by refusing to keep dirty-little required secrets, by saying what we did worng or what someone else did wrong, we expose mold to light; we expose disease to medicine, we cure harm. And even more, we recieve the support of those who understand, who have gone through a similar thing, who get us.

Yes, some people will get angry when others speak the truth, some will say it isn’t true even when it is, some will condemn an exposé as being unkind or inappropriate or as showing  unforgiveness or being vengeful. What should we make of that? Well, a vindictive “getting back” at people does sometimes happen, and that can be a harmful thing in itself, certaintly if the things said are not true, but we must be careful not to condemn victims for wanting justice.

When all is said and done on earth,  there will, I believe, have been too many dark secrets, not enough truth, and not enough exposure of abuse and harm. And when people who have done wrong are exposed, the shame  or embarrassment that they experience — they brought that on themselves. Being exposed as harmful is the natural consequence and social punishment for having been harmful.

For those who speak the secret shames others have forced them to keep in the dark — or tell things they have done and themselves have harmfully supressed — I approve of the honesty. Jesus himself advocated honesty saying the truth would set us free, and he predicted that hidden wrong will be exposed, and that what has been whispered in an ear will be shouted from a rooftop.

I applaud the bravery within openness, and I uphold and support everywhere the commitment to take back the parts of our lives that have been stolen from us.

Talking — it’s a shame cure.

Tough!

This morning I went to the dentist. Her conclusion?

“I’ll see  you next week.”

Once is selddom enough, for anything, so next Monday I will make my fifth visit to her in three weeks.

That’s life; it is seldom one and done. Most things are a process, and that is okay because we get to good places by steps. I’m glad to have dental care. I am glad I can take steps, to have good teeth.

This morning, when I was painting the house, a small branch from a bush near where I was painting got caught in my brush, then sprang away, slapping me upside the face with paint.

I went in the house, washed off the paint, and went back at it. I got more paint on me, but now the house — it looks great!

I advise you to quit infrequently and to give up inconsistently.

Why?

Because life is tough, and so we must be tougher.

My neighbor is in the hospital. His daughter told me this morning they had to cut off some of his toes because of an infection. That’s no fun. It sucks, for him.

But, I expect to see him at home again soon. He is surgery man, one after another, and yet I see him again and again after being cut up, out in the neighborhood, jogging, or walking. And if he can’t walk this time, he can drive the Corvette he has waiting for him in his garage.

Life sucks, and then it doesn’t. There is hard, and then there is good. Get used to it.

If you perish, revive. If you die,  rise from the dead.  Life will kill you many times before it does. I suggest you get used to rising from the dead.

Life is tough.

Be tougher.

…….

For more thought on being tough, check out my proverbs on toughness at http://www.modernproverbs.net

He Is With You When You Are With Him!

Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.

2 Chronicles 15:1-2

The most amazing, life-changing, power-giving, soul-enhancing relationship in the universe — that would be the relationship we can have with God.

Think about it. If God exists, if  God made the cosmos, if God made the possibility of you, if you really are his offspring, then acknowledging him, knowing him  — that would seem to be super important. If he is all-powerful, and he is all good, then a relationship with him would be more important than any other relationship.

But check this out. A relationship with God is something God has left up to us. According to 2 Chronicles 15: 1-2, those who don’t want him, don’t find him. Those who are not with him, he is not with them. As Pascal has said, God has revealed himself just well enoough that those who want him find him, those who don’t miss him.

Powerful God has decided not to tyrannize us, not to force himself on us, not to demand a relationship with us. A relationship with God — certainly he has initiated this — but there is something core in it that is up to us. Power is in our hands because power has made it that way. Those who reject God because they don’t want to give over control of their lives to God are unaware of the control that he has put in their own hands. God does not want to control us; God wants to empower us to be in control of ourselves, to choose well, to live well and to do good.

If we are with God, then he is with us to empower us to the best life possible. If we are not with God; he is not with us, and we are left with the weakness of our own limits. 2 Chronicles 15:1-2 is a clear statement of human responsibility for the nature of our relationship with God. We have been told the truth by Azariah the son of Oded, just as Asa and Judah and Benjamin were told.

The next move is most definitely, significantly and consequentially up to us.

“Meh” Versus “Wow!”

“She is an interesting person.”

“Meh.”

“What? Really? Do we really want to let our ‘meh’ trump our ‘wow’ when there is evidence to the contrary.

“Meh,” is an exclamation expressing a lack of interest or enthusiasm, as in, “Meh, I’m not impressed.” We say “meh” when we judge something as uninspiring or unexceptional. We are indicating that it doesn’t stand out.

I think we “Meh.” too  much; we “Wow!” not enough.

So many people are “Wow!” but when we stay silent about them we offer the tacit, default, ubiquitous”Meh.”

This is not what is needed, not by any of us. We all need  to be noted as specific, different, particular, unique, valuable and wonderful — because we are.

My advice to our cold and cooling world — “Meh” less, “Wow!” more. It’s encouraging, and nothing is needed quite so much in the world today as encouragement. We all need encouragement; therefore, compliment more. Stop criticism from winning.

Do you yourself need encouragement? Of course  you do! But then you can’t entirely control that, can you? Well, you can excel, and that may bring some support your way — an award — but it just as well might bring jealousy and criticalness to your door.  It is what it is with success — the crowd will “Meh”  or “Wow!” you as they will — but you can control what you give..

Do you want encouragement, then give it. Do you see within yourself the need for affirmaton; that let that inward look show you the need in everyone else too. And let this awareness motivate you to give the ever needed,  “Wow!”  to the people around you. Encourage your family and friends. Compliment strangers. Shock people with deserved affirmations.

It’s too cold in here, let’s warm up the place.

Defeat “Meh,” pomote, “Wow!”

Read, Look, Listen!

I just read Winning From Within, by Erica Fox, and The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough, and I’m now reading The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. I’ve also been reading the book of Acts, in the Bible.

Some of my Christian friends don’t read much outside the Bible. This is not the case with me. I am madman for truth, hungry to know as much as I can from whoever I can learn it from. I find that a variety of reading gives a width, depth and height to my store of knowledge.

Is this the Christian way?

Paul quoted the pagan poets; Daniel studied Babylonian literature. Jesus was the great observer of nature, following the way of Solomon, the wisdom sage-scholar. Truth is, in fact, everywhere. God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, he confronted Balaam by means of a donkey, the sun, moon and starts speak for him continually.

Oswald Chambers went so far as to claim, “The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.” That’s a strong claim, but it carries a credible point.  I’ve met people who put themselves forward as knowing the Bible well, and yet who knew so little of the workings of their own hearts that they became harmful in their relationships with others. They would do well to look within, to observe the inner dialogue of their own hearts, to learn about human nature from wide reading, from science, from the study of psychology. In this way they could better understand and help themselves and others.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Paul didn’t limit his admonition to seek truth, beauty or justice to the scripture. He said, “whatever is true,” implying wherever you find it.  This is in line with the ancient proverbist himself, who in the book of Proverbs, claims that wisdom cries out from every corner. I find it so.

Recipes for good food, medical information for healing, solutions to computer problems, directions to our next destination, the meaning of unfamiliar words, an understanding of culture, the sciences, the planet — wise ones seek knowledge from many sources.

I urge all my family, friends and followers — read, look, listen.  Sample and test; experiment; draw conclusions.

Know yourself. Know what others think. Know your world. Know God.

Why? Because truth and knowedge and wisdom are the gifts of God, and wise ones seek them everywhere as if they are gold.

Within knowledge lies solution and health and improvement. Within truth lies safety, relationship and the greatest things of all — love and God.

Got it? Get it!

Dibs and Dabs

Fun is dribs, then some drabs, a call for dibs, a plea for dabs.

The quest for pleasure, the science of pleasure, it’s literature, it’s armamentarium, it’s practice has always been a dab elusive.  The hunt, peck and grab for fun, laughs, parties, happiness, good times — it’s tough hiking.

What do we do, we epicures, we gourmands, we hopeful debauchees?

I have just a few thoughts.

We can let  life’s pleasures come us as they will. 

Why thus and so this way? 

The opposite doesn’t work well. Coerced pleasures, forced joys, over-arranged fun has an artifical, trying-to-hard, unsatisfying flavor to it. Forced eating, forced laughs, forced sex — it’s yuck. 

Mandate pleasure and remain dissatisfied. 

But in contrast, as we relax, choose well, live at peace with our neighbors it seems that pleasure, using the element of surprise, peaks shyly at us from within the mystical realm of the divine ordinary. 

This morning, sitting in the car with my daughter in a parking lot, I was struck by the beauty of the small, pink flowers of a hedge blowing in the rainy wind as I prayed for her to be guided and safe. The beauty in front of me, moving in the storm, was not scripted nor orchestrated by me, not even expected. It was small, momentary, ephemeral — it was peace giving. 

I think of ataraxia, Epicurus’s state of lucid and robust tranquilty. That kind of pleasure, found in peace, seems to me to come from a conscious acceptance of the now, a making friends with reality, a seeing what is, not a forcing of what we want.

Want pleasure? Accept it as it shows up, bobbing in the wind in front of  you.

The other thought I have, meager as it is, perhaps helpful to us, is to be watchful, aware, tuned in, even purposely aligned toward the good and the pleasurable. It may come to us, and we may miss it, if we are not watchful for it. 

There are many whiners in life, in fact they are the majority. They are always looking at what they don’t like. And there is always something not to like, some pain, some health issue, some relational hurt, some slight, some jeaousy, some hate, someone to stumble on and take up arms against. But whiners are unhappy as they focus on the unhappy and so they miss the simple pleasures right in front of them. 

But in contrast, how refreshing it is to be in the presence of those who look for the good, and put their minds on the lovely, humorous, fetching nature of reality. 

In pain they laugh, hurt they help, sick they smile, irritated they keep their mouth shut, hopeful they pray. There is a kind of courageous gorgeousness to those who enjoy and celebrate the good, the pleasurable, the beautiful in a world of evil, pain and ugliness. They focus on the delectable-good. 

Pleasure is intrinsic to life. The enjoyable is everywhere. It is the gift of God. But it is found by those who look for it. Pleasure arises out of our own purposeful awareness of the good gifts of God. Pleasure is something we should keep an eye out for —  not force or mandate. It is something that happens as we watch. It comes to us now and again naturally as we wait expectantly — as the watchmen wait for the morning. 

Today, as it rains, and I write at home alone, my cat has snuggled up to me, keeping warm, seeking companionship, being close. 

It is a small thing, a micro-pleasure, a natural movement. It is a dab. I put the back of my hand on her silky, soft fur. This reassures me all is well.