Monday, February 13, 2012
If what I'm about to share offends you, I apologize in advance. What I write, very often, is designed to make people think, the operative word being think. Mostly, I write to make me think. That being said...
We live in a serious world. No doubt we should. With economic collapse, unemployment, homelessness and a host of other maladies all around us it is very difficult to "put on a happy face." At times like this, people often turn to spirituality, particularly religion to help get them through. I am an avid reader of the Bible. Forget for a few moments, what my personal belief system is, I find the Bible to be a source of inspiration, encouragement and guidance in my life.
Saturday morning I was sitting in my office watching a video blog from a fellow Spark member. Between you and me, I watch this person's video blogs when I need a pick me up. They are unique, they are sincere, and most of all they make me grin from ear to ear. So as I watched the most recent chronicle of their life a thought crossed my mind: "Who was it that made Jesus laugh?" I have a hard time imagining, that he walked around with a solemn face twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. He loved little children. Little children loved him. Those of us who have spent a portion of our lives around young children know that children don't hang around grumpy people long. So I wondered, Saturday morning, which apostle was the one assigned to lift Jesus spirits when he had a bad day? Oh, I know, Son of God and all, but he shared our humanity. That meant when he delivered a particularly meaningful message and the crowd was lukewarm; he had to feel a bit disappointed. After it happened three or four days in a row, as the Bible details, he probably got a bit discouraged. I know he went off alone to pray a lot, but sometimes, did he go off alone just to relax, throw his head back and let loose with a huge belly laugh. I mean, don't you feel better sometimes when you laugh so hard the clouds part and some come shining through?
There is one thing about leaders and followers that's universal. All followers take their cue from the leader and in most cases adopt their attitude and demeanor. So, when Jesus was a little down, I am sure the apostles followed suit. Now, the Bible was designed to teach, to inspire and to encourage us to lead better lives. I can understand why there is no room for Jay Leno's patron saint. But, somewhere in there, one of those people had to have a very humorous look at life in order to get through the gray days. Someone, have to be able to say something, because Jesus to grin from ear to ear.
Who makes Jesus laugh? I believe you and I do. You don't have to profess Christianity to realize that Jesus message was one of hope, one of love, and one of inclusion for all people. Jesus welcomed everyone with open arms regardless of what they thought or believed. He didn't much care where they've been, he was just concerned where they were going. Whether you espouse his divinity or simply choose to look at him as an exemplary role model, you can't deny that the love and acceptance he provided his universal. When you and I choose to embrace that message, then you and I not only make Jesus smile and maybe laugh, but I'm quite sure whole lot of other people to. When you and I make the commitment to actively work on removing our prejudices and misconceptions we have about others ways of life, then I believe Jesus smiles.
Be blessed today.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
While it's been a busy week, nothing too spectacular or out of the ordinary occurred. It was one of those "gray weeks." We all have them. The world didn't end, but there's nothing to write home about. The funny thing is they always seem to occur this time of year. The time of year when the trees are bare, the skies are dull and there seems little hope that spring will ever occur. They are the gray days. We look out the kitchen window sipping our coffee or tea expectantly waiting for some ray of sunshine poke through those clouds. For you, maybe, it is a week with neither a loss nor gain. Maybe it's five successive days at the gym where you feel as if you haven't accomplished a single thing. It's those mornings where it's a struggle and in an effort to put one foot in front of the other.
You do it. You do it because you know down the road and around the bend there will be a tiny daffodil poking its head through the still frozen ground. It is these gray days that becomes the cement that holds our life and our progress towards health together. They are never anything to jump up and down or cheer about. They simply bind us and at most unexpected times warm us like a new fire on a wintry morning. They are the essence of life itself.
I was reminded this week of the benefit of these ordinary and often gray days. Two years ago I began training to run my first 5K. Listening to the wisdom and counsel of many SparkPeople friends I settled on the C25K process. I have to tell you, friends, it got boring in a great big hurry. Walking for a minute, running for 90 seconds and the like wasn't very motivating. I look around me at the gym and see people running for what seemed like at the time, forever. Here I was walking then running, walking then running over and over. One Sunday afternoon, I went to the gym, feeling very frustrated and ready to do something different. My gym has an oval track-10 laps to a mile, so I would always take a clicker with me to count the laps. I began running, and clicking, and listening to my music, and looking out the window. I lost track of time and when I looked down at my clicker it suddenly dawned on me that I only had four laps left before I had run a true 5K. I don't recall whether I was tired or not. I don't recall whether adrenaline took over. I do recall feeling this tremendous sense of accomplishment is I began to run the last lap. I was so overwhelmed that the time I felt tears well up in my eyes. Afterwards, I took my phone and snapped a picture of the clicker. I still have it. All of those boring, gray days suddenly paid off. I was runner.
I thought about that experience this morning as I started my day and I thought about how life really mirrors my training for a 5K. There a lot of aches, pains, and self-doubt, but as long as we stick to the process we know works, in the end we are running our own metaphorical 5K.
Be blessed today.
Friday, February 03, 2012
"So what you're saying is that if nothing changed for the better or for the worse for the rest of your life you would be happy just the way you are?"
I thought for a minute and then nodded my head. "Yeah, I believe I would be. I mean, I am sure there are things I would like to see, places I would like to go and people I would like to meet, but my happiness isn't contingent about all that happening."
"Well what about money? Don't you want more money?" I thought about that for a few minutes, staring down at the table in the restaurant.
"I want to be secure." I said. "I don't necessarily want to be wealthy, but I'd like to be secure."
So the conversation went. Larry and I were having our weekly lunch meeting. Larry's about 23 years younger than I am and quite naturally his perspective and his goals and objectives are different. Larry is raising two daughters, my children are already grown. A matter of perspective, if you will.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't some sort of rant against wealth. I don't begrudge anyone earning as much money as they feel compelled to earn. It is just that I am at a point in my life were wealth doesn't define success. So as I drove home I thought a lot about the conversation Larry and I had. If I'm not happy to begin with how can I be "happier?" If I don't feel I'm wealthy right now, how can I be "wealthier?" Yeah, it is a matter of perspective. My thoughts turned into a revelation of sorts. Maybe I've been approaching things backward for most of my life. Maybe, I should work on the now, the today, and tomorrow will become a natural byproduct. I am at a point in my life where downsizing is a positive term. Joan and I talk about moving into a smaller place, maybe a condominium, maybe in a climate where the weather is warmer. We talk about the uncertainty of retirement and wonder if it'll ever be a reality for us. Despite all the changes that have occurred in the landscape over the past five years I still have to count myself, baggage and all, as being relatively happy person. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. In this world that seems to be brimming over with drama, when all is said and done I am relatively happy. Somewhere, somehow we developed the notion that if you're not moving forward, your statement. Maybe, just maybe, it may be that you have stopped to inhale the scenery around you.
So when I looked across the table at Larry with somewhat of a cockeyed grin for the first time in a few days I felt fairly confident saying "Yeah, I'm happy just the way I am."
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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