August, 2011


29
Aug 11

Have A Cup!

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It is early and I am gradually coming out of a drowsy sleep stupor.  I call it fading in.

On mentally foggy mornings such as this, I rely heavily on the nectar of the gods… Coffee.

I think God knew there would be mornings such as this so he created a nice pick-me-up to help jump start my stalling mental engine.

Sip… ahhh… the fog is lifting.

Coffee makes us severe, and grave, and philosophical.
-Jonathan Swift

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Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.
- (The Women’s Petition Against Coffee), 1674

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As I enjoy my cup of coffee I was reminded of something that happened to me a few years ago.

It was about 11:00 on dark damp evening and I was preparing coffee for the next morning.  I go to the cupboard and reached for “my precious”.

Side Note: There may be one or two who do not know where the phrase “my precious”      is derived.

In the J.R.R Tolkien trilogy The Lord of the Rings there was a strange little character (Gollum) who succumbed to the influence of the ring’s power.  He became             consumed with the ring and would go to extreme ends to possess it.  He called it… “my precious”.

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Yes, you guessed it.  The coffee container was empty.

I would like to tell you that it was no big deal and that I went on to bed.  But no!  I am embarrassed to say that I put some clothes on and went to the nearest convenient store and forked over a boat load of money for a small container of “my precious”.

It was at this point that a staggering truth caught me between the eyes.

I did not possess the coffee… it possessed me.

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I learned an important lesson.  You can tell how important something is by the measures you take to attain, nurture or protect it.

Along the same lines, I heard someone say one time that you can tell how hungry someone is by how putrid of food they will eat.

Desperate people do desperate things.

Now some of you may be smugly sitting there wondering how something could be so important to someone to cause them to go to such measures to get more.

If you are one of these people thinking this, you need to get off of your judgmental high horse, lest you fall off.

Everyone has things that are their precious.  It is something that has a mysterious, sometimes tragic power to influence us if we are not careful.

What is your precious?  It can be intangible things as well as tangible.

It can be odd things you would never expect.  For example, someone reading this may have a grudge you have been holding on to for years.

Think about the phase, nursing a grudge.  When you think about it, the phase is a graphic illustration of “a precious”.

To nurse something, you hold it close… feed it… guard it.  The grudge possesses you.

For others it may be one of these things:

  • You like attention
  • You need to be right
  • You must be in control
  • Your appearance
  • Your 401k
  • Your possessions
  • Your position
  • Your jewelry
  • Power
  • Approval
  • Name your own precious

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Most people have learned what things possess them or at the very least, has an unhealthy hold or influence on them.

The most important thing is to identify these points of “precious”.  It is then… and only then you can put them in their place.

Yes, I still enjoy my coffee but I don’t take it quite as seriously.

See you Thursday.


25
Aug 11

Hearing a cry is a good thing.

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SLAP!   Whaaaaaaaaaa.

Believe it or not, that’s a good sound.  Those of you who read last Monday’s blog know exactly what the slap and cry means.

I wrote on Monday about the amazing gift of new life stirring deep within.  I was not talking to expecting moms.  I was/am talking to any of you that sense something within trying to struggle its way to life.

It could be a book you have been wanting to write, a new idea for a business, a change in your attitude that has held you back, maybe it’s rebuilding a relationship that has been hurtful, or possibly it’s just trying something different that is totally out of your comfort zone.

Whatever is stirring within you, it is life waiting to be birthed. 

This blog for example stirred about eight months before it finally came to fruition on January, 2010.  Why a blog… I have no idea.  All I knew is that something stirred and I knew it was important for me and my growth.

For some of you my next statement will make total sense.  It will ring true on a deep level.  To others you will read it, tilt your head and go, huh?

It was a stirring that I knew, someway and somehow, would be life changing if I nurtured it and acted on it at the right time in the right way.

Some of you, as you read this, feel the baby kicking.  Whatever it is moving inside is something that you intuitively know is life changing and you need to nurture and act on it. 

For others of you reading this… the rumbling inside is just the burrito kicking in.  Take an antacid and make a quick trip to the bathroom and you’ll be fine.

But those of you who know that what’s going on inside of you is more than a burrito at work… listen carefully.

GOD ALERT!!!  This is a heads up to all my friends who may not believe as I do about God and his involvement in our lives.  Remember, I don’t expect you to believe as I do.

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I believe in the core of my being that anything that is life giving is from God.  He plants a seed deep inside of something that he knows is good for you… important for you.

This new life stirring will change your life… if you nurture it and give birth to it.

Important Side Note:  What I am about to say is pretty heavy.  I will be referring to a very controversial topic. 

I am not trying to make a political statement or make an argument regarding the topic.  I am using it as an illustration.

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OK, back to God and the seed he planted.

We don’t create life.  Only God can give life.  We cannot give life to something… but we can kill it.  We can cause the death of that life by choice or by neglect.  Either way… it is life lost.

I personally think that most of the time the life lost is by neglect.  We ignore the reality of life stirring and allow it to wither and dry up. 

There’s no effort required, no tending to the seed, no risks to take, no rocking of your comfortable boat, till there’s no more moving… and no life.

I do believe sometimes we choose to terminate the life… we intentionally abort the stirring. 

We either don’t want the hassle or we believe fatal lies.  Lies such as, I could never do that, I am not smart enough, I don’t have the talent, etc.

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GOOD NEWS!

There is good news, terrific news, wonderful news. 

God has a lot of seeds in his bag and does not give up on us.  He is continually throwing seeds in our direction. 

I say… Thank goodness.  Because I know that I have killed plenty of seeds in my life.

If you are open and receptive more seeds will come.  Don’t worry about the seeds of the past.  Thinking about the lost seeds is like putting Round Up weed killer on the new plants.

Let the past be and nurture that tiny seed that you sense is starting to germinate.

See you Monday.


22
Aug 11

Oh my, I felt it move!

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Hello again.  Thanks for poking your head in for a visit.

It is my hope that I say something that makes you think, causes you ask questions, or maybe helps you to crystallize a thought that has been stirring inside but the complexity or its fluid nature resisted articulation.

I find one of the amazing gifts of life is when I read or hear something that captures the essence of a belief or thought that has been struggling to find clarity. 

It is as if that person breathed the breath of life into that thing struggling to be birthed in my life.

Humm… think about it… powerful imagery… a new idea or insight birthed into our life.

Most things in life are mysteriously and majestically woven together in patterns.  The birthing process is one of those miraculous patterns that is laced through all aspects of life.

The birth of something is not the beginning.  The birth is the start of a new phase… but not the start of its existence. 

Birth is the point where that something is brought into the light after it is to a point where it is complete enough to live. 

But there was a whole lot going on before it saw the light of day.

At some point there was a seed that impregnated a fertile spot in our heart or mind. 

A seed cannot pierce that which is hard or non-receptive.  For some of you this may be exactly what you want – hard and infertile to prevent something new growing inside.

You like where you are, or you are fearful of what might grow if open to new things.

I am not being judgmental of where you are because I have been there too.  But I do know this.  When a person does not have life stirring in their inner being they have sealed the fate of their existence.  You will never go beyond where you are.

You may be ok with where you are, that’s your decision… but you need to know… this is as far as your life will go.

It takes work to be fertile.  It requires effort to stay open, soft and receptive.  Some may be afraid that if they are open that some seeds of weeds will be sprinkled in and begin to root.

Yep… that’s true.

The richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds.
-David Hume

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Weeds grow into something harmful only if you are lazy.  So it does require work.

But you need to know that dealing with the weeds are worth it when you enjoy the fruit of your labor. 

Oh the amazing possibilities… what gifts for us to enjoy.

For me, I can say this from experience; it is a very blessed feeling to feel life stirring inside.  As many of you know I have written a lot about the stirrings inside that caused me to take bold steps in my life. 

Believe me… it has been worth it. 

I cannot even begin to imagine what it is like for a mother to feel life stirring in her womb. 

It is both miraculous and exciting because, you know that at just the right time that thing stirring within will be birthed. 

After it is birthed a new process begins with its own challenges and rewards. 

I may talk about that on Thursday.

See you then.

Ciao.

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18
Aug 11

It’s a Stop & Go Life

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Howdy… good to have you hang out with me for a bit.

A couple of blog entries back I talked about the importance of movement… any movement.

Since that blog entry a couple of things have struck me about this whole issue of moving.

Many people get caught up into the issue of direction for their life.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think direction is critical.  I am really big on the issue of knowing where you want to go.

But here’s the simple truth… it doesn’t matter what direction you are facing if there is no movement.  You won’t get there anyway.

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To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.
- Jerry Seinfeld

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Yes, I know, pretty simplistic but true none-the-less.  Movement is primary and direction is secondary.

I met an executive one time that was hired to go into failing companies and turn them around.  He had a remarkable record of success.  I asked him the secret of his success.

Side Note: This fellow obviously had the basic raw material of intellect, business acumen, and chutzpa.

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He without hesitation shared this principle.

“When I go into a failing business they are always floundering and directionless.  The first thing I do is, very strongly and emphatically, point them in a direction.  Many times it is not the right direction for the long-term but the people just need a direction and the push to get up and get moving.  I can change course later.  The important thing is to focus team and mobilize them.”

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Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.
- Will Rogers

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I know that you have heard me say this at least a hundred times, but it is worth repeating.

“I don’t want to wake up five years from now and be where I am.”

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There is something powerful in action.  Just starting… taking that first step releases something.  Sometimes I have an amazingly difficult time writing this blog.  Today was tough for some reason.

But forcing myself to… just start is the key.  I had no idea what direction I was going.  I just started.

Think about it for a moment.  When you push through the “last thing I want to do is do something” barrier, something is loosened.

When you take action in one small area it seems to positively impact other areas of your life.  People who start getting disciplined in one area seem to start making changes in other areas.

Some say that it’s just a natural principle.  Maybe, maybe not.  Personally I believe there is a Spiritual principle at work in all of this, but that is a topic for a different time.

One more point about this movement topic.

The powerful reality of movement… is that you get somewhere.

I ran across a thought provoking quote by William Stafford (1914-1993).  Stafford was a prolific and highly respected American poet.  When asked by a reporter how he began his career as a poet he said,

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“I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is, why did other people stop?”

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When you stop it’s difficult to regain momentum.

If you have stopped and need to get going again… take a step.  Join me on the journey.

See you on Monday.


15
Aug 11

Mulch Anyone?


Hi, it’s great to have you hang out with me for a while.

I went to Starbucks this morning to find my muse for the blog.  All I ended up with was a non-fat latte, blueberry scone, and a lighter wallet… but no muse.

Muse, like most good things, I have come to learn cannot be contrived.  Special life gifts such as this are NEVER contrived… only recognized and then acted upon.

I believe that there are hidden life treasures all around if we are looking for them.  We have to be open and alert.  It is sort of like a cosmic Geocache hidden for us to discover.

Side Note: If you don’t know what geocaching is then you will need to google it.  If you don’t know what google is then you are in a heap-o-trouble.  Ask a second grader.

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These life gifts, blessings, or whatever you want to call them, can happen anytime and show up in surprising ways.

I wrote about one of these surprise encounters in a blog in March of 2010.

An Interesting Event:

I was just interrupted by a knock at the front door.  I was a bit frustrated because the knock caused me to break stride in my flow of thought on this all important blog of mine.

I opened the door, there standing before me was a very nervous, awkward young Boy Scout (about 11 would be my guess).  He was appropriately attired in his scouting shirt patches and all.  He was going door to door selling mulch for his troop.

I was stilled.  I knew immediately that this was not to be a casual, “No thank you.”

When I first saw him his eyes quickly shifted from my face to my chest and then made their way to my feet.  This is where they stayed most of the time except with an occasional glance upward as comfort allowed or the sales pitch demanded when presenting the brochure.

His father was standing a couple of feet to the side with that… you’re on your own but I’m here to help you posture.

His non-verbals spoke clearly of support… and also protection.  Not physical protection but the kind of protection you give to a child that seems to have been on the “outside” and who knows the ramifications of being so.

The blog… my interrupted flow of thought… my frustration, quickly were put in their place because there was something beyond my here and now.

The VOICE!

The voice calls us out and calls us to.  This time it was “to”.

You see, this journey is not one of selfish insight.  It is a journey of wholeness.  And wholeness is never selfish.  The voice always takes us out of self, never toward self.

The “Be Prepared” scout did not need me to be patient or attentive as he explained the benefits of purchasing mulch in bulk… but I was.  I believe it made his stop at the next house easier.  And that’s important… especially if you are one who has been use to struggling.

I never want to allow the noise of life (or this blog) to hide the gentle call.

There is a voice… constantly calling… voice beyond view that beckons us to something.

How is your hearing?  If you aren’t open you will miss amazingly great and precious opportunities to grow… or touch.

Ciao.  See you Thursday.


11
Aug 11

Dreams caught in the headlights

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Hi there.

I want to give you a quick heads up.  The blog entry today is a bit heavier than what I intended.

This morning when I started writing the blog I was going in a totally different direction.  But then I read something and my thoughts and fingers decided to go to a different place.

It is more vulnerable than I want to be but it is what it is.  Hopefully it will be thought provoking, but more importantly, challenging.

For some reason I was struck with an odd awareness of a deep reality.

It’s interesting how things are clearer looking back than forward.  The thought that caused me pause was this, I could have done a lot of things if I only thought I could.

When one is young, you can only look forward into the unknown and dream, never seeing true reality.

There is a difference between having a dream and believing a dream.  I had dreams like every other kid… I just never believed them.

In hindsight they were intangible visions that identified my wants and desires but eventually floated silently to the ground and smothered in the reality of my inadequacy.

I could be sad, bitter or even angry if I chose, but that is for those who decide to waste time and energy looking back.

Everyone has experienced those times when a memory of a dream past or opportunity lost has wiggled its way to the surface and we immediately brand it with the “if I knew then what I know now” idiom.

Dreams or opportunities of “what can be” are beyond the headlights.

Side Note: After reading the last sentence I am sure most of you tilted your head and said a questioning, huh?

Stick with me a bit longer.

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In the dark, our headlights provide only limited visibility.  This is the world of the known.  Anything beyond the reach of the lights is the unknown.

I can stay where I am and live in the visible world.  It is only when one moves forward that what was previously invisible becomes visible… what was unknown is known.  It is by moving forward that we experience a different reality.

What was once seen as a dream or out of reach in the dark at some point is brought into sight.  These things only come into light because we moved.

I like to think of myself as a late bloomer.  Frankly, I would rather bloom late than never at all.

I have also learned not to second guess things.  First, it doesn’t change the present, and second, we don’t have all the information to make an accurate judgment.

It is easy to look back and stare directly into the headlights of “what if”.  No one knows what could have been different.  But I do know this… I cannot, MUST NOT, allow the past to corrupt the future.

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“The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”

-  Emmett Fox

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The greater tragedy than a past lost opportunity is to loose this opportunity.  You may be wondering, what opportunity?

If you are moved by what I am writing then you too bear the marks of moments lost.  The stir you feel is the call to turn your eyes outward to “what can be”.

We must not have our focus on what is behind.  Everything must be brought into the present and challenge ourselves with what do I do now.

If you do… you move forward.

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“Dear God,

I ain’t what I wanna be, and I ain’t what I’m gonna be,
and I sure ain’t what I oughta be.
But thank God I ain’t what I used to be!!!

- Gert Behanna

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See you Monday.


8
Aug 11

“One small step for man…”

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Howdy… welcome back.

Last Thursday I talked about the difference between “To” and “FROM”.

If you have no idea what I am talking about I encourage you to read the last blog.

If I say so myself, the blog I wrote was a bounty of amazing insight and astounding wit.  They were exquisitely woven together in a well choreographed dance of words that took the reader to another place and left them craving… no, dare I say, demanding for more.

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Side Note: How did I do with my first attempt at self aggrandizement?

Uhhh, not me is it?  It was fun to write but I feel stupid reading it.

OK, please don’t ask where the last couple of paragraphs came from.  I have no idea.  They just popped out my head on to the screen.  Scary huh?

Oh well… back to my humble hole where I peck away at my little blog.   Hopefully there will be some semblance of meaning and thought.

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The purpose of the last blog was to emphasize the importance of knowing what is driving our decisions.

A BOLD PROMISE

Today, I want to focus on the most important aspect of our journey.  It is the thing that WILL transform your life.  I am as serious as I can be and I am not exaggerating.  You will never be the same.

It is the step that changes your life… “your step”.

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“If you don’t take a step you won’t end up somewhere else.”

. . – Me

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You cannot get to where you want to go and stay where you are.  It requires action, a step of some sort.

Whether you are drawn to a higher place or you are pushed out of a lower place, it requires a step.  Albeit small, it still requires a move.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I wished that God would just zap me and miraculously I would be different or be at a different place.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is no question in my mind and in my experience that God does some miraculous things.  But it always requires a step… even if it is a step of faith.

Tired of where you are in a certain aspect of your life?  Then get off your ass (My wife suggested something tamer like butt… but it was just a bit too calm for me).  Just feebly standing up is a step.

Now no one guaranteed it would be easy… usually it is not.  For me personally, waking up five years from now and being in the same spot is more horrifying than the fear of the first few steps.

“I never worry about action, but only inaction.”
Sir Winston Churchill

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For years I hung out in the same place with little or no growth.  On some level it was easy but the call of “what can be” became a siren song I couldn’t ignore.

It took months for me to wade through the morass of where I was and the thought of writing a blog began to emerge.  Why a blog?  I have no idea, because as most of you know… I am not a writer.  All I knew is that it was the right step for me.

But something was unleashed when I finally took the big step.  That step began to open me on several different levels and has had a broader impact in more ways than I know.

But my big step only came after a desire to be in a different place, a willingness to do something different and a multitude of micro steps.

Are you tired of where you are?  Is there something stirring deep within that is calling you to higher things?

I think you’re ready to give birth to a new phase of your life.

OK, take a deep breath… push… take that step you think you should take.

See you on Thursday.

Ciao.


4
Aug 11

The “Why” to Where

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Hello, thanks for hanging out with me again.

As you know I have been regularly writing about this metaphorical journey about growing as a person and going to new places in life.

So today I am back on the journey trail.  Hopefully I will say something that will cause you to tilt your head with a new thought or question.  If this happens, it is a good thing.

“Man’s mind, stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

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I have become more and more passionate about this amazing journey of life.  There is so much for us to grasp and enjoy.  These are good things, deep things and fulfilling things.

Side Note: I am not talking about the cheap thrills of life that sparkle and titillate.  These are the types of things that enamor and trap people.

This is the “fool’s gold” of life.  Unfortunately this is where some people spend their lives digging and clawing for the worthless.

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Some people may say that they are very satisfied with where they are and see no need to change, grow or move.

There has to be movement or else we stagnate.  Stagnation is a symptom of something dying.

We are meant to live, grow, learn, do, enjoy… right up to our dying breath.

Now here is an important “ah ha” for me.  To me, there is a big difference between contentment and satisfaction.  Satisfied feels motionless or fixed, whereas contentment to me is a state of being gratified, pleased and happy – but there is movement.

Contentment does not mean, nor should mean static.

Personally, I am very content, but not satisfied.   I am content with who I am but not satisfied with where I am.

Side Note: Hang with me.  I am sure this is feeling a bit obtuse.  But hopefully I will be able to make some sense of this.

Personally, I am anxious to see how I pull this together too.  I can’t wait to see.

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A significant part of this contentment dynamic is tied directly to the title of today’s blog – The “Why” to Where.

It is critical to know the “why” behind our stepping out.

There may be lots of reasons for taking steps in a new direction.  But the multitude of reasons eventually settles into two fundamental and distinct categories.

Are we going “TO” or are we getting away “FROM”.  At first glance you may think that I am splitting hairs with these words but they are totally… I mean totally, totally different in their point of origin and motivation.

A few years ago a friend was considering a new job.  As we talked I asked him these two questions.  “What is driving the decision?”  “Are you going ‘to’ or getting away ‘from’”?

These questions force important soul searching.    “From” is a push motivator while “to” is a pull motivator.  There is a world of difference.

Yes, there are times where our focus is to get away “from”.  But “to” is the greater and more powerful.

“TO” is taking new ground while “FROM” is escaping old territory.

If your primary motivation for a journey is to get away from pain and/or discomfort then any destination free from these ills means you have arrived.

Whereas a journey of exploration and anticipation mean you never arrive.  There is always more to see and do.

This journey I have been on the past few years has been “TO” not “FROM”.

I am very, very content… but not a bit satisfied.

See you Monday.


1
Aug 11

The Meaning of Life

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Wow, I sure know how to pick trivial topics don’t I?  What in the world am I thinking?

Don’t get your hopes up if you are expecting me to have the meaning of life for you… because I don’t.

I know what the meaning of life is for me but that doesn’t really help you now does it?  All I can do is encourage you to search.

I feel like Curly in the movie City Slickers.

YouTube Preview Image

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You have to search to find it.

People have been searching for the meaning of life since time began.  There have been thousands of attempts to explain and even more jokes and cartoons on the topic.

To me, the fact that people are searching at all says something important.  The compelling need to look beyond one’s self is an indicator of the very thing that gives meaning.

“More people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

- Viktor Frankl

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If a person is searching for something we should turn to some experts on the topic.  And who better to turn to than Monty Python.

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I can’t embrace all of their beliefs about the soul but the fundamental truth is clear.  We tend to get easily distracted when it comes to Spiritual matters.

Did I mention that we started feeding hummingbirds?  Uh… excuse me… I got distracted.

If a person is truly seeking truth, they will search any path.  Unfortunately the human default tends to be trying to find meaning in the things of life that are shiny and exciting.

Strangely, searching in these areas deepens the craving for and the call to meaning.

“Human beings are the only animal species that runs faster when they are lost.”

- Rollo May

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There is amazing peace and fulfillment when true meaning is found.

Just one other thing as I finish this blog.  For me, a significant part of the meaning of life, is to have a life of meaning.

See you Thursday. Ciao.