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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Cumulative Days Riding:  166                              Cumulative Days Blogging: 151

Today’s Mileage: 4                                                 Total Trip Mileage: 1116

Struggling with Change?

As I ride the bike this evening I think back to a long lunch discussion I had with a friend earlier today.  I was trying to explain to her the nature of the “confused and unsettled state” I have struggled with for the last half dozen days.  As often happens in long discussions with this friend, statements elicit questions and answers are punctuated by requests for further clarification!  It is a process that some people might see as circular and a “waste of time,” however it helps me to refine my thinking on important topics. 

I would like to briefly share with you the primary issues I have been mulling over as I “went silent” for the better part of a week.  As we ride westward across northern Florida in the coming days, I will explore these issues in more detail and explain how they are related to my spirituality and connectedness. 

Agreement is not mandatory either!

Before I present the basic issues I would like to note that Psychologists have long recognized that the label “stressful” is not reserved for only negative events, but fit for any event that signifies/represents a change in one’s life!  While negative events (e.g., a death, job loss, divorce) can be devastating, positive events (e.g., graduation, marriage, a new job) are also disruptive to well established life patterns and routines.  My friend asked me if I was worried about “making it through” this period of stress? 

I answered with a resounding NO!  Research has shown that even winning the lottery can and is stressful (i.e., the demands  associated with managing large amounts of cash), however the factor that best predicts a person’s long term happiness with their “good fortunes”  is the degree of happiness the y experience before their winnings.  In other words… happiness before the disruption best predicts adjustment to the disruption!  Since I have been in a “joyful” mood for some time I have no doubt I will come through this stronger.

Here are the issues:

1)    I have experienced an acute awareness of the numerous issues fueling conflict within our communities, nation and world.  This awareness has been greatly heightened by the process of searching for blog topics and pilgrimage sites.  Not an unexpected occurrence, but the poignancy of this process has been surprising.

2)    I have experienced transitory feelings of helplessness and hopelessness associated with the above mentioned awareness.  I am an optimist; however the number and deep seated nature of the difficulties we face represent an extremely daunting task especially as it sometimes seems that our options grow more limited by the day!

3)    I am experiencing a desire for renewal and/or change with respect to my academic career.  I am celebrating my 25th anniversary as a University Professor!  I love teaching and interacting with the students, I don’t savor all of the superficial demands that go along with the job and the 2 ½ hour a day commute is grueling.  In addition, my creative endeavors and interests have always taken a back seat to my academic career (bringing home a pay check).  I feel that it may be time to give my creativity a chance to shine.  A spirit confined can at best only stretch its wings, it can’t soar!

4)    I am struggling with a sense of parental sadness as I try to let go of my dreams for my eldest son, while at the same time savoring the memories.  This is coupled with a sense of fear for the choices he has made: dropping out of school, joining the Army, and the fact that he will likely go to war as an explosive expert (e.g., his job will be the same as the character on “the Hurt Locker”).

5)    I look forward with deep joy to my upcoming marriage.  I have found someone who does not merely tolerate who I am (my liberal beliefs, my Eastern Spirituality, my creativity, my jokes) but celebrates my strengths as gifts and forgives my weaknesses!  Still, merging lives, schedules, and families involves an ongoing process of finding balance… a joyful, but still stressful task!

Well, that is it in a nut shell.  I left out any reference to my spiritual journey, however, all of these points are impacted by my search for and review of pilgrimage sites.  I will speak to this impact in future blog postings.  Have a wonderful day!

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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding: 148                                      Days Blogged: 132 

New Mileage: 8                                                     Total Trip Mileage: 1031

As I ride the bike this evening I  think about my blog topics over the last several weeks.  It seems to me that a particular theme ribbon ran through several of the blogs.  From Taoist river stones that are shaped by thousands of year of river water, to Helen Wilmer-Post and the demise of her self-help healing empire at the hands of political intrigue.  We admired sunrises and the shifting drifting veils of clouds, and musings on death, cremation and a poem about spreading my ashes.  One of my blog followers noted: “your poem is beautiful! It’s haunting because it’s about death, but it’s still sweet because the “recipe” is filled with good things.”  I think this is a common reaction because we tend to perceive death as a negative and generally tragic event and thereby an “ugly” event. But it can also serve as an opportunity to celebrate a life well lived and to give thanks for life’s many gifts.

Mount Rushmore Monument

It seems to me that the thread is the issue of permanence, whether it be shifting and changing clouds or Taoist river stones shaped by the relentless river.  Being human we all desire a sense of permanence. Since ancient times, we have built monuments to mark our presence and to give a sense of permanence to our rulers and political institutions.  If you come back in the future, little of the glory and splendor of the site may be left intact. Eastern philosophy tells us that the permanence we grasp for is an illusion. Even mountains, given the time frame of nature, are weathered away becoming little more than sand on the shore and rich mud on the ocean floor.  Majestic lakes and seas fade away and dry up.

Backside of the Monument

I’m reminded of the statement: the only thing which does not change, is the process of change!”  No one can turn back the process of aging. Nor can we retain a young body.  Add as many initials as you like behind you name, achieve accolades and earn rewards, but in the end you will become nothing but dust.  Your name will become nothing more than an etching on a stone marker.  Someone might list you in a family tree, but you are little more than a name with dates.  What about all the years between the dates, the time period we call your life!

The second statement I like to quote is: “Change is mandatory, growth is optional.”  Nothing is permanent, everything changes.  The key to life is what we do with that change.  Do we roll with the punches; do we grow stronger and wiser, become more joyful?  Do we see the moments of life, the sunrises, the smile of a child, the touch of a lover for what they really are… gifts!  Do we embrace these and share them with others, our smile, our riches, and our touch?  Do we plant seeds of joy and happiness or do we spew forth anger and hatred.  Do we try to hold on to those things we can’t take with us? Do we commiserate over missed opportunities and past failures?  We enter the world naked and are given a first breath; we will exit the world with a final breath and leave everything, including a well dressed corpse behind. It’s what we do with the time and opportunities between the first and last breath that matters.

The third statement I embrace is: “It’s not about the outcome, winning the race, it’s about the process, and how you run the race!”

I hope you have enjoyed these “Words of Wisdom”.

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