Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Progress is the most important project.

If we're making progress, the stage of progress doesn’t matter. When we start to make progress, that’s what matters. What matters is continuing to progress, because if we don’t do that, we tread water. We merely stay afloat; but if all we can honestly manage is to stay afloat, that’s better than drowning.

An indicator of progress consists of expanding willingness and ability to feel the uncomfortable. Nobody likes to feel nervous, edgy or afraid. But when we do, in principle, it's better to feel those because they’re authentic feelings. I want to face life. I want to progress. Do you want to learn to better tolerate feelings you'd rather not have ? Do you want to better absorb and feel who you are in the moment; then learn what lessons your feelings teach you about yourself ? I do.

Tools for making progress in a garden

It’s uplifting when an aspect that troubles you in relation to others fades. That’s progress. The aspect may not have entirely disappeared. You may find yourself now caring less about what people think of you. You catch yourself more often. You notice when you’re playing politics and not being authentic. You realize with greater perceptivity when you accede and let someone dictate the operation of your affairs. By opening yourself to how mistaken behavior or habits generate anxious feelings, you can chart a plan of action to change the behavior. The key is to feel the feelings so you grasp what you’re dealing with. And then take action.

Flowers of progress in a garden.

Progress in a particular regard is especially valuable. It promotes calm. It holds the hand of faith and walks with surety of foot. It grows awareness that we are not alone but part of a whole. It’s the birthing of intuition that whispers or cajoles. It’s energy tending to support the humble and humble the proud. The closer to this spiritual source, the more progress is made on manifesting its peace to those around us.

I’m not an expert on spirituality. I don’t have an M.A. in psychology or social science. I do know about the hole. The hole is a deep, empty loneliness that seeks to eradicate its tribulations by smothering feelings. The hole may choose different ways. Each wipes away authentic but hurting feelings. Each way replaces discomfort with temporary gratification.

Instead of nourishing human growth, these ways feed the urge to compulsively eat or drink. We feed a craving for narcotics or sex. We feed an addiction to gamble. The diseases expand but don’t fill the hole. The loneliness hides inside unacknowledged. Consequences like mortgage defaults, broken relationships, morbid obesity and imprisonment follow in the train of these abuses.

The answer is spiritual. The remedy to the cry of agony inside the hole of one’s being is to embark on a spiritual journey. With authentic desire and rigorous honesty, one can have impediments to growth in life removed. From whatever stage, one can progress towards contentment.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Patience is the companion of wisdom

Let me see if I can look at what ways patience is the companion of wisdom.  And let me see if I can say something about wisdom itself.  I think wisdom comes when we see reality the way it is.  I think it comes from having learned through experience.  It comes from having made mistakes perhaps, but mistakes from which have been drawn lessons, mistakes that have taught lessons in wisdom.

Mistake-making demonstrates a person is active, human, and willing to take chances that can lead to mistakes. These mistakes can become seeds of wisdom. When we turn towards God, or a Higher Power, to me this is a fundamental step on the road to wisdom.  It means we start to live not just for ourselves but for others too. We become ambassadors of good on earth. To me turning towards your understanding of God is a critical first step on the road of wisdom itself. This is where patience arrives as the companion of wisdom.

Patience is the ingredient in the soil of that which grows in character and virtue. It allows for change in its own time. It doesn't pull or try to force growth but instead helps growth by nourishing understanding, which is absorbed through prayer and in relationship with God.

Patience reminds us that time is needed to change defects into qualities that foster continued growth.  That deep and lasting change does not take place in a rush. Patience walks with wisdom and with wisdom helps us to learn that finding and doing the will of God is the greatest treasure offered by life.  And along the way, wisdom and patience teach the less significant ways that accommodate us on the road to greater love of God.

How writers contend with blogging.

Blogging instructs…teaching the way of words. It acts like an engine moving the search for new subjects about which to write. It adds to knowledge and understanding of the world.  It harnesses energy to create unique posts.

Every post challenges the blogger to improve. Each post complains about the scratchy barnacles that slow the boat ride of reading. An ornery writer scrapes them off the hull of the content. The precise word to allocate definite meaning often hides in subterranean shadow. Does the writer compromise with the substitute word that’s merely good enough? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, but more and more I intuit the surest motivation to blog breathes in finding the elusive word that perfectly fits.

A writer wrestles with passion to create posts that reflect honesty and interest the reader. He shapes and molds sentences. She integrates a concept into the general architecture of meaning. Bloggers experiment if the generosity of abundant time allows. Is that word too worn from repeated use? Is that paragraph better suited elsewhere? The work of blogging mandates discipline. It practices the skill of writing with every post.  

I started my first blog three years ago, called it Ecuador Experiment, and published weekly posts until early last year. I wrote those posts with an ardor and gusto meant to entertain and inform people curious about moving to Ecuador---and living in the old colonial city of Cuenca, where I resided three months.  I wrote off topic posts for Ecuador Experiment--- but focused on delivering content mostly about Ecuador.

Me Speaking takes a different direction. I write on a variety of topics. No specific theme corrals these posts into a single category, and that’s because I value the freedom of uncertainty encapsulated in this approach to blogging. Wind blows where it will.  Ideas for a post sometimes spark to mind from uncharted regions. Other times they derive from long held interest in a historical subject or current international issue.

Although popular posts do boost the writer’s dopamines, they don’t necessarily reflect quality. Nor does an unpopular post necessarily reflect its quality.
Bloggers who base their motivation to write solely on page views will probably find the steam to continue eventually waning. If the work of writing itself engenders motivation, however, the blogger fuels the blog from the spirit of writing itself.

The Cigar Tree

When I was a kid, I liked my bikes’ looped, u-turn handle bar that set up or down.
I liked the bike’s thin tires and wire spokes. I liked getting two playing cards and clothes pins, then attaching the cards to each tire. The spokes slapped against the cards and my bike sounded like it had an engine!

I liked the shifter---I shifted the gears to select between ten speeds--- to pedal easier up a hill or go faster on flat ground. Actually---Sacramento just had flat ground; and I loved riding my bike.
Rolling over the streets, I felt I was a cowboy; riding my bike elevated me. It extended my range. I rode it to a grassy field one summer day where girls from school played baseball with us. I rode it to William Land Park to fish in the pond; but the pond was closed. I stood, blocked by a chain link fence on a sky blue day---so decided to climb over. I poked the fishing pole through the fence and pitched, but as it went through the hook penetrated my index finger and instead of climbing the fence, I went to a doctor.

I liked to ride with friends on my bike. One time, a group of us were pedaling fast, parallel to Curtis Park going north, our destination the Cigar Tree. Tottering tombstones visible by the Cigar Tree emanated foreboding in that place.  We zoomed in, dropped our bikes and scrambled up the tree. We were grabbing cigars as fast as possible.

These cigars grew about six inches and were thicker than cigarettes. They were withered and dry, and many dangled from the tree. We knew the Cigar Tree was in “other” kids’ territory---we didn’t know them, but raiding their tree was taking a risk, and the risk challenged. A band of yelling kids on foot suddenly attacked and we fled on our bikes fast--- furiously!  We rode ten blocks, past the tennis courts in Curtis Park, gradually feeling calmer the more distance we put between ourselves and our pursuers---until we stopped in a grove of redwood trees.

We climbed up thick, low branches which gradually thinned the higher we climbed. Careful to plant feet firm, we grabbed branch after branch, pulling ourselves aloft higher and higher until we found perches--- until we were so high we could see the distant white dome of the State Capitol.

Hidden in the Redwoods ---we lit our cigars and smoked and watched the smoke billow and ascend. We gazed at the Capitol and felt like kings.