“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.” – Anne Frank
While running tonight at our usual Wednesday spot at Como Lake, a boy stood fishing. I’ve never seen anyone catch a fish out of this city lake. Suddenly his pole bent and line pulled tight. You could see his excitement as he softly called for his Dad.
He had a big fish on the line and wasn’t sure what to do. Before his Dad came over, a stranger walked by and started to guide him. He told him that his fishing line would break if he tried to pull it up based on the size of the fish. He gently advised him to loosen the line and walk the fish on the line to the dock so he could land it.
“God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.” – Desmond Tutu
It was a joy to witness. The goodness of a stranger helping a young boy land a big fish, one he could talk about for a long time coming. He was guessing that it was probably an 8 pound Northern.
It was sweet. It was innocent. It was lovely.
If we believe what we see on the news and political ads (pick your side – both angry and mean-spirited) as the only thing that’s real, we miss what’s truly real and good. There is more good than evil. There are more wonderful people than jerks.
Seek the good and you will find it. Seek sweetness, innocence, and loveliness. This is what we are meant to find despite the noise, chaos and distractions. Don’t fall for cynicism, anger and scarcity.
Abundance, generosity and joy. Choose these good things. Go fishing and land some light.
“Any form of complaining is the small self becoming lost in self-importance. So much energy needed for awakening is wasted on complaining. We many not be able to change our external reality, but we can transform the negative thoughts and feelings that are our reaction to that reality. We have a chance to awaken from the nightmare we create through our resistance to what is. Stopping all complaining is one of the first steps. When we cease to complain, we conserve life force for what really matters. A new world begins. Each event becomes a mysterious opportunity rather than an inconvenient vexation. A tremendous amount of life force, once bound up in feeling sorry for oneself, is released. Where there was frustration and self-pity, there is now space for appreciation to bloom. The misguided belief that life should be other than it is dissolves and in its place, acceptance flowers, joy awakens, patience blooms, and peace permeates.” – Ann Mortifee, In Love with the Mystery
It may be justified. It seems reasonable. It seems like it should help, but it makes it worse. Complaining is wasted energy that blocks gratitude. Rather than being a release, it traps us in our thoughts of scarcity, comparison and self-pity.
Last week summed up to be a bust. And I made it worse by letting external things get internal and define my entire week. And then three things happened to shift my limited view, to open up my senses again.
My sister sent me beautiful flowers. A friend texted me after our run yesterday letting me know she noticed I was quieter and that she was thinking about me. I told her I was trying to get my inner “Tigger” back and send “Eeyore” on his way. She told me she likes “Eeyore” too and it’s ok to not be “Tigger” sometimes. And then I walked by a book that I got from a friend years ago and opened it up to the page with the passage above.
These three encounters brought gratitude back into view and where it should remain, front and center. I can’t guarantee that I won’t trip and fall into the complaining trap again. But it’s worth trying to keep space open for the gifts of acceptance, joy, patience and peace.
I am grateful for those kind souls who took the time to notice and offer encouragement and support rather than answers, platitudes or solutions. We sometimes need to be merely seen. Remember, your light can bring someone else’s back. Cast light.
“Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” – Leon Trotsky
Real contentment takes root in difficulty. When we can find contentment in the days that the struggle is too real, we know that the struggle has a purpose. To be honest enough to acknowledge frustration and then to use it to prompt change is what raises us above the temporary difficulties into the extraordinary.
I would rather be frustrated and fight for something different than to succumb to apathy and accept what is without question. So when you are tired and worn out from the fundamental stupidity of the world, keep going and never ever give in to apathy. Do the work with care, lighten up, let the worry go and the results be what they will be.
Life is no easy matter but we can choose how we move through it.
“Every doorway, every intersection has a story.” – Katherine Dunn
Some days feel like we’re merely going around in circles. Stuck on a ride going nowhere, up and down, slow and fast. It is especially in these very moments, we are growing the most, transforming into what we are called to be to enter what will follow.
Patience, persistence, perspective and perseverance mixed in with a strong sense of humor are required to thrive and learn the lessons before us.
“You loved ferris wheels more than roller coasters because life shouldn’t be lived at full speed, but in anticipation and appreciation.” – Amy Harmon
No moments or days are wasted no matter whether on a roller coaster twisting and turning at great speed or a ferris wheel going slow and easy. Enjoy the ride.
Today is a page in the book of you that is being written. Never surrender the pen. Write your story.
“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” – Augustus Hare
The morning sky broken open with rain, not leaving much hope for outdoor activity. And then it ceased but the clouds lingered into the afternoon. While not perfect, the pontoon will only be in the water a few weeks more, so we launched to capture one of the last rides of the season.
The lake was windy, offering the perfect invitation for sail boats to harness the wind. And many accepted the invitation. So we weaved around and watched them dance across the water with speed and grace.
The beauty of freedom with the art of holding the sail just right with the shifting winds. One of the sail boats missed a cue and fell over. Boats stopped to check and waited until they went upright. With just the right pull, the wet sails arose, ready to join the others in the pursuit of the wind again.
Soon the clouds dissipated, and blue sky broke through. What started as a rainy day transformed into a beautiful afternoon.
Our start is not where we finish. And when we join in even in less than perfect circumstances and patiently wait for things to unfold, we discover the joy in the wind and the surprise ending filled with blue.
Blue skies always are behind the clouds, eventually and always.
Poetry, music, a sunset all have the power to put everything in perspective slowly and then suddenly. Tune out the voices that produce no fruit. Focus on thoughts and activities that drive you on the journey to your purpose. For when we live out our purpose daily, we make the world a better place.
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.” – Mary Oliver, The Journey
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah. Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!” – Psalm 39:4–6
Perhaps it is in summer the most that we know the brevity of our days. I’ve yet to say that summer was too long. As summer is fleeting, so are our days.
Count, measure and celebrate what is lasting and important. The depth of each day. The sheer abundance. Awareness, gratitude and joy – all worthy pursuits. Discover the miracle of a sunrise and sunset. Take the light in and cast it out.
“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Andersen
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver
When we get caught up in things not in our control, we forego the simple beauty calling out to us in the details of a mere flower. The complexity in the simple. The delight in a moment. The joy in connection.
Overwhelmed? STOP. LOOK AROUND.
Really look. And the only words that you can possibly utter will be “thank you!”
We have so very much to be grateful for even in challenging times. A purpose for every season to be sure. Wherever you are at, remember that you are enough. You are worthy. You have what it takes.
Lighten up. Savor now. And drink in the color and beauty in simple details. In the miracle of a flower.
“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” – Gary Zukav
Abby loves to chase a ball. The challenge and precision of catching it on one bounce. Sasha will watch Abby chase the ball but has no interest in it. Sasha finds her joy in chasing butterflies. Pouncing from one to the next. Looking up and down and all around to share in the butterflies’ delight, in their freedom.
“Metamorphosis has always been the greatest symbol of change for poets and artists. Imagine that you could be a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next.” – Louie Schwartzberg
The butterflies dance and then still themselves in an instant and then take flight as if for the first time. Released from the cocoon, conquering gravity. From struggle to gradual transformation in due time into a brilliant, beautiful butterfly. Hope, grace, glory. Repeat again and again. The cycle of life.
Chase some butterflies. It’s good for the soul.
“And suddenly you just know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” -Meister Eckhart
“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
We have the capacity and calling to transform. To become new and be renewed. From cocoon to butterfly. From 40,000 miles on the road to colorful plant holders on the curb.
Never underestimate the potential in the dawn of each day, in a new beginnings. Magic and beauty. Delight and awe. Sheer wonder. We have many lives within our one life. It all ties together despite the our understanding in this moment. Trust is good. Faith is real.
Let it unfold and dive into uncertainty and discovery. Into the holy and sacred. It’s happening now. Your tires are being retreaded as you trod on.
More change, more mystery? Hell yeah – bring it on!