Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Quarter

This morning as I was leaving the gym a woman asked me if I could spare a quarter. Most of the time we're irritated at the inconvenience of these type of people bothering us for change. 

I will assume for argument's sake that her need was legitimate, as the need of some asking for money truly is. This woman's morning, and maybe even her enire day, hinged on one quarter. Twenty-five cents. I started to think about this as I drove away. We get so wrapped up in our own stuff sometimes that we forget about the misfortune of others. There are people in this world for whom a mere twenty-five cents means everything. When I think about my problems (and there are few) I realize they are problems of luxury. My day doesn't depend on the hope of someone giving me a quarter or not. Did this woman really need that quarter? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I'd had a quarter I would have given it to her simply because as one fortunate person to one not as fortunate it's the right thing to do.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Oliver Syndrome

In the novel "Oliver Twist" and the 1968 movie musical version there is a scene at the evening meal. Oliver, with bowl and spoon in hand, approaches the master of the workhouse and timidly asks for more. That scene has been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while now, and I've finally figured out why. It's what I've taken to calling The Oliver Syndrome.

When we're so entangled in people pleasing and worrying what others think of us, we're like Oliver. Ashamed of asking for what we want, frightened of upsetting others. We're timid and afraid to live fully for fear of what others will think or how they will silently judge us.

Had Oliver not asked for more, he would've gone hungry. If we don't give ourselves permission to be, and stop the constant fret over what we think others will think, we starve ourselves of a full life.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Spiral Arm Of The Milky Way And Our Place In The Cosmos

I've actually experienced this. A few years ago I was vacationing in Puerto Rico and spent a few days on the island of Vieques. I was alone on a beach one night away from any artificial light. The nearest arm of the galaxy stretched from one horizon to the other. I stood there watching in awe for about two hours. It was just me, the waves washing up on shore, and the Milky Way. I felt as if the galaxy and I shared some kind of private intimacy and kinship. It was my seductive and mysterious partner, sharing with me and only me its immense and sacred secrets. To say I was overwhelmed and humbled with my tiny yet significant and necessary place in the cosmos sounds contradictory, but it's the best description of the power and weight of the moment. 

A stunning video of this can be seen at the link below.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Recently I had an incident that I recoiled from. Someone had offered to help me with a situation. I had to stop and think about it for a bit. Why did I get defensive at the offer of assistance. This morning at the gym it became clear to me. What I found was that my ego was getting in the way. It wouldn't let me admit that this was something that I could use advice and assistance with. It was too proud, which led to deeper stubbornness. 
Realizing this was another giant leap in my path of mindfulness and nonattachment. I became aware of, and fascinated, by the process of recognizing ego and its clever ways of keeping me stagnant in old thinking and behavior. Once I stripped away the hard outer shell ego had constructed I was able to see the truth of things. The situation then became immediately understood.
Some lessons come with time, patience, and hard work/attention. And more times than not, they come in eye-opening flashes of revelation and understanding. It made me grasp more fully the workings of the ego and its defensiveness and insecurity.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Your Top 5

We spend so much time criticizing ourselves, tearing ourselves down, and filling our head with that awful negative voice. When you read this, I want you to stop what you're doing and write down somewhere the top 5 things you love about yourself. Keep that list with you for at least 24 hours. And every time you start that negative talk in your head, pull out the list and read it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017