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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

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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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  87                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 88 

Today’s Mileage: 6                                              Total Trip Mileage: 711

I believe that an ability to laugh at yourself and your life circumstances is a key to a long and happy life.  As I ride the bike this evening I found myself chuckling at the comments of several friends.  They were speaking of my decision to scale back on the daily blog postings to only three a week to free up time for work and other interests.  I continue to ride the bike daily, and search for pilgrimage sites. These individuals all stated some variation of “well it’s about time!”

This is not the first time in my life that I’ve made a decision and then had family or friends announce that they had silently been “hoping and praying” that I would change course. When I asked them why they waited till then they noted: “because you were not ready!” How often I have personally used that same phrase with clients and friends.  We all undertake activities with some goal in mind, and become immersed in the process and dance of the activity, diving in deeper and spinning faster.  Others watch, sometimes with amazement and or concern, wondering how long you can keep up the pace or the depth of commitment.

 Life is a process and our goals must constantly be tweaked and sometimes may demand significant shifts in direction and intensity.  I have met alot of wonderful people in my expanding circle of blog readers, and I look forward to continuing to reach out to join with other sincere spiritual seekers and pilgrims. My youngest son commented the other day” “Dad you are pretty serious about this blog.”  I laughed and told him that I hoped there would be a day, somewhere in the future, when he might sit down and read my thoughts.  That he might gain some insights into his father and perhaps some insights into himself. 

This got me thinking about an issue that is important to anyone who creates.  I mentioned in one of my first postings that if you are a writer, artist or poet the most common form of feedback you get is no feedback at all!  You must have faith that your efforts will bear fruit and that it will bring insights, recognition, accolades, or whatever it is that you seek. Hopefully these efforts will have a positive impact on your own journey and dance, and perhaps the journey and dance of others.  I wrote a poem several years ago as I returned from a nature walk in which I pondered how my efforts would be greeting upon my return home to my family.

Can you blame them?

It’s the Donuts

Heading home

   Another walk ended.

Images on film,

   Words on tape.

Does it matter

   To anyone?

No not really!

Well perhaps

   The geese

      Whom I disturbed.

It’s the donuts,

   Bagged and resting

      On my car seat,

Which will be

   Remembered by those

      At home.

Maybe later,

   Days or years

      Into the future,

The images and words

   Of my passage

      Will inspire and delight.

But for now

   It’s the donuts,

      With glossy sweet surfaces,

         That will satisfy their hunger.

Protective parents are easily disturbed!

I never really lamented the fact that my creative efforts were not embraced by my two young sons or a wife preoccupied with the demands of motherhood. I had faith that a time and circumstance would arise, in my lifetime or afterwards, when these efforts would “touch and reverberate” with others. In addition to having faith that your creative efforts will somehow matter, you also have to “set the bar” with respect to how you will judge success.  Is it fame, or fortune, or seeing your work on a museum wall or bound in a book that will signify success? The following poem written on a nature walk in 1997 summarizes my thoughts on the matter:

 If I created a work of art, a poem, or a story

That touched a multitude of souls,

That became a timeless classic,

That would be nice.

 

If I created a work of art, a poem, or a story

That touched crowds of people,

That brought standing ovations and fame,

That would be great.

 

If I created a work of art, a poem, or a story

That touched a handful of people,

That connected them with each other

   And the natural world,

That would be tremendous.

 

If I created a work of art, a poem, or a story

That touched a single soul,

That helped them through their day

   And added meaning to their life,

Then all my efforts have been worth it.

I trust that most of you will recognize that with this posting and the presentation of these poems, my faith has been justified.  I hope you the reader find the images and words of my passage to be inspiring and delightful.  If it touched you then my efforts have been worthwhile!  Have a wonderful day… I’ll be back on Saturday.

The most important audience for our future... the children!

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Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding:  86                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 87 

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 705

Sometimes we have to admit the obvious. I have been trying to down play the fact that my oldest son leaves tomorrow for the military.  The last year has been a difficult and tumultuous.  I send him off with a certain sense of relief, but also a deep sadness. I pray that the military helps him grow and find himself.  I pray that he safely returns home.  Please hold him in your prayers!  I needed some time in the woods, I hope you enjoy the following musing/poem.

Beautiful but Dangerous!

A Walk in the Woods

Leaving the confines of my studio

I walked into the cold winter chill

With plans of gathering fallen branches

And building a fire

I forgot to be cautious

For nature offers many gifts

But it offers dangers too

I realized to late that the crush

Of leaves and ice under my feet

Would make the slope to the woods

A treacherous path

My feet slipped and I went down

I am getting too old

For such hard bounces

I rose and wiped off my sore tush

Brushed off my muddy elbows

And continued more cautiously

On my path

Perhaps we spend our entire lifetime

And never learn some lessons

To be ever mindful of the signs of danger

To move cautiously

Even on familiar ground

I have blogged of late

About wisdom and the seeds we plant

The memories, stories and the snippets of insight

We leave behind for those who follow

Looking for sticks I glanced up

Not a moment too late

To avoid the vine with rows of barbs

They would have only added to my injuries

Then I saw it hanging alone

On a thin brown tether

A seed pod shaped like a dried pear

Partially open

Downy white filaments spilling out

A matter of faith?

Is it a weed or a flower?  

Does it really matter?

I grasped and freed it

Raising it above my head

I shock it

Releasing to the wind

Dozens of white parasols

Each bearing a dark seed cargo

Some fell to the ground at my feet

Others were swept skyward

Carried towards the river

I was reminded of the task ahead

Releasing an eldest son

To be carried off into the world

With a prayer that he will survive the journey

Finds fertile ground and grows

I suspect the seed pod is that of the thorny vine

Perhaps I will question my decision

Sometime in the future

As I fight an invasion of unwanted guests

In the mean time I choose

To identify with a plant parent

Who with faith in the cycles of life

Releases it offspring to the wind

To a future unseen

To triumphs and failures

To joy and pain

To a life lived and a dance enjoined

Warmth - Light - Guidance

 

Epilogue:

Eventually I built my fire

Forgot about the fall in the mud

Retrieved the seed pod

And half a dozen of it offspring

Warmed myself and gave thanks

For another of nature’s gifts

The light, the warmth, the guidance

Of the flames

As the blazing disk

In the sky overhead

Pushed back the winter chill

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  71                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 72

Today’s Mileage: 10                                            Total Trip Mileage: 627

 As I ride the bike today I think about an observation that I made last night at a well known national bookstore.  I was gift shopping for my partner; she had been kind enough to provide me with a list of titles so that I would not present her with the wrong selection. I was glancing around the tables that displayed a wide array of colorful journals and diaries.  Many of them were adorned with beautiful drawing and photos or  inspirational messages:

Dance as though no one is watching you.

Love as though you have never been hurt before.

Sing as though no one can hear you.

Live as though heaven is on earth.

                                                                   Souza

Recipes: A cooking Journal.

Write it down!

Memories are all that’s left.

Live, Love, laugh!

                               Barbara Morina

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!

Life is the life you imagine.

                                                           Thoreau

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change:

 the courage to change the things I can;

and the wisdom to know the difference.

                                                                          Reinhold Niebuhr

I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.

                   Confucius

 

Some of the authors and their messages I recognized and had heard before as they are  quotations that frequent “daily wisdom” books and websites.  Many of the journal covers bore no words but were adorned with pleasant scenes, often oriental Zen paintings of nature.  As I looked over the selection I heard the voices of innumerable past clients, students and friends chanting: “I’m ready, but now what?”

Knute Rockne with the four horseman

 The problem with inspirational messages by themselves is that they assume all the person needs to accomplish what ever task they have chosen is a pep talk. Like a coach who “fires up the boys” before sending them into a game.  If they have not practiced and do not have a game plan all the pep in the world will not help win the game.

 Therapists often see people who arrive at an insight, like “I have a problem,” who then believe that somehow their problem is almost solved. In reality, their journey towards health has just begun. The same rule fits for spiritual endeavors, recognizing that you have lost your connection with the divine or that you desire some change in your life is the first step in the journey. One of my favorite sayings as a marital therapist is “Marriages may be made in heaven, but you got to do your own maintenance!”

  Another favorite sayings goes: “The devils in the details.”  How to navigate around obstacles and move forward is the real challenge and often represents the place in which we need guidance not just inspiration. This is where therapists step forward with  theories and techniques and spiritual guides step forward with “tried and true” wisdom and teachings.

If you find yourself considering an inspirational gift for a loved one, you might want to ask yourself if their inability to “pull it together and move forward” requires more than just a pep talk… perhaps you need to inquire about the location of the self-help, therapy and world religions sections!

 Looking at the journals I noticed there were a number of messages that were either humorous or somewhat troubling, such as the: “It’s all about me Diary!”… Narcissism anyone?  Or a humorous cartoon cat speaking to a cat with kittens: “Can I borrow these kittens for an hour? I want to freak out the people who had me spayed.”

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