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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Faith: Learning to Cut the Kite String at the Right Time.

Interestingly enough, I've found that some of my worst choices have come in spite of 'knowing better' or having warning signs in the way.  I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this.  Sometimes when I've want something so much, despite huge red flags, it was easy to "cut the kite string" and let 'fate' have it's way with my life.  Yet, during a time when I genuinely need to cut the kite string and let my Higher Power (God) have ultimate authority in my life, I sometimes just float the kite up to him and ask for help, all while keeping the kite on a string (in case I need to reel the kite back in and assume 'control' again).  I would characterize it as "Idiot Faith" vs. "Genuine Faith".  That is to say, I've indulged 'idiot faith' while pushing aside 'genuine faith'.

Characterizing Idiot Faith:

  • There is a roadblock or a sign up saying, "Danger Ahead", but there is also a 'Destination' that appears desirable and within reach.  So, you think, 'If I have to leap over the abyss or build a flimsy bridge to reach that destination, then so be it.'  I'm sure somehow I will escape with barely a scratch (if one at all).
  • You've run into this or similar roadblocks before and been burnt or hurt by ignoring them.  Yet, the Destination is so appealing that you tell yourself if I do things a bit differently this time, I can make it to the Destination minimally scathed at worst.  This despite scars from previous attempts to reach the Destination.
  • Instead of waiting to see if the Destination is good for you at this time or ever or if your way of trying to reach the Destination is sound, you charge ahead letting go of the kite string, leaving consequences to 'fate'.
  • It can appeal to a desire to take a shortcut to happiness or contentment.

Characterizing Genuine Faith:
  • Recognizing when your Higher Power has watched over you.
    • Providing you what you need, even when you didn't properly ask.
    • Protecting you from the full consequences of "Idiot Faith" that held and exercised.
  • Recognizing your Higher Power knows what is in your best interest, even when you don't.
  • Letting go of expectations (cutting the kite string) and trusting that the God (the wind) will be able to help you carry your problems, rather than trying to hold hold onto them.
  • Willingness to do what is best or right, even when it seems unappealing, knowing that following your Higher Power's will in the end result in the best overall outcome.
  • Willingness to wait for your Higher Power's timing.

I guess for me it works like this: Sometimes, if I have the (illusion of) control over a decision, choice or circumstance, then I am more willing to step out on a limb or to cut the kite string as it were.  When I rightly give up control (or worry) about the decision, choice or circumstance to my Higher Power, I sometimes worry if I will get what I need, when really what I mean is what I want.  Ultimately, I guess the take away is I have to learn to take ME out of the .  That doesn't mean that I play no role and wait around for my Higher Power to rescue me when my world is being 'flooded', but instead play my role according to His will and afterwords "Let Go and Let God".

Friday, September 22, 2017

We'll Get Together Then: Uncertain, Intending To or Humoring Others?

It's a bit of a running joke with my circle that I say "We'll get together then" when I mean we will talk or hang out in the not too distant future.  As you might figure, it's from "Cats In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin.  I only say that to those whom I want to keep in touch and/or hang out with.  I could just say, "we'll be in touch" or "we'll have to get together", but then that wouldn't be ironic would it?

In a prior blog called "Art of the Apology: Saying sorry without meaning it.", I touched upon the concept of humoring others with your words rather than being sincere.  In that case, it was about how and when people say "I'm sorry" when they don't really mean it.  I wrote it after I'd had enough of  'corporate' apologies.

When we make such open-ended pronouncements such as:

  • We need to get together.
  • We'll be in touch.
  • Let's do lunch sometime.
  • We'll have to keep in touch.
  • Let's plan on getting together.
  • Let's pick up this conversation at a later point.
or some other variant, I think three--not necessarily--mutually exclusive scenarios or 'reads' are playing out.  They are as follow:
  1. We likely will, but we have to figure when out when the schedule permits.
  2. We intend to, but life can get in the way.  We may or may not, but it is our intention to anyway.
  3. We know it is unlikely (and perhaps even undesired), but we don't want to be rude and just flat out blow each other off.
The thing that makes human interaction so complex--sometimes fascinating and sometimes frustrating--is trying to gauge our audience and what they expect or need.  Does our audience need brutal honesty or do they need hope when there is at best uncertainty?  The wrong read (and accompanying verbalization) can be the difference between keeping a loved one close and alienating them.  So, let's explore the three scenarios or reads:

  • We make open-ended pronouncements that mean this when:
    • When the other person(s) are VERY important to us.
    • We like the other person(s), but we cannot commit to anything at the particular moment.
    • We have to check or schedule or consider our availability.
    • We definitely want and fully intend to.
    • We are asking the other part(y/ies) to hold a 'place' for us in their life. It can be asking a lot.
  • If we really mean this by the pronouncement:
    • We need to follow-up in short order afterwards, later that day or within a few days for example. Otherwise, the other party might think we we just being polite, but really have no interest in them.
    • We need to make time for the other person(s) even if our schedule is tight.  Effectively, we have made a quasi-commitment or promise to them.  If we want to be thought of as a person of our word, we need to make sure we fit them in.
    • When we do find the time, we should ask them if they are still up for whatever we 'promised'.  If not, we should give them good reason and give them courtesy of explaining what's blocking us and that we are still committed to getting together (if we still are).
  • If the other part(y/ies) think we mean this when we don't:
    • This could lead to hard feelings.
    • This could diminish the value of our word (which may or may not be important depending on our audience).
    • This could lead to an uncomfortable tension or awkwardness if feelings were involved on the part of one (or all) parties.

  • We make open-ended pronouncements that mean this when:
    • We like the other person(s), but aren't really sure when or if we can commit to getting together or back with them at the time we say it.
    • Our schedule is very full and we aren't sure how we can find time for them.  We wish to send a message that any failing is a problem with our schedule and has nothing to do with them.
    • We'd like for the other part(y/ies) to hold a place in their life for us, but we don't want them to stop their life for us.
  • If we really mean this by the pronouncement:
    • We need to go through the effort of seeing if we can fit the other part(y/ies) in and not just leave them hanging.
    • We should get back with the other person(s) as soon as we have a better idea.
    • If we do find the time, we should ask them if they are still up for what we 'suggested'.  If not, and if they are important, we should let them know that we are keeping them in mind and will follow-up as soon as we can.
  • If the other part(y/ies):
    • Think we are just being polite, when we do follow-up, this can pleasantly surprise them (or throw them off if they were just being polite).
    • Think that we meant "we likely will", this could cause a problem if they were expecting our company and we cannot find time. It could cause hard feelings.

  • We make an open-ended pronouncement that mean this when:
    • There isn't much left to say with the other person and we realize this.  They may be nice, but there is a friendship/dating incompatibility that we recognize. This is particularly effective when it is clear the other party is also feels that way.
    • We really feel seriously uncomfortable with the other person(s) and we don't want to reject them abruptly leaving an awkward silence and/or hurt.  This is particularly effective when it is clear the other party feels that way also.
    • We know there is no possible way for us to every make or keep a commitment to the other person(s)
    • We don't want the other party to hold a 'place' for us, though if misread, it might appear that we are asking just that.
  • If we really mean this by the pronouncement:
    • We should avoid leading the other part(y/ies) on.
    • We should just let the communication 'die' naturally if possible.
    • We should drop any hope or expectations as it relates to the other part(y/ies).  It is unfair and unrealistic not when we blow another off to expect anything of them.
    • We should be prepared for other part(y/ies) to feel rejected. 
  • If the other part(y/ies):
    • Don't seem to get this, we need to find a way to more firmly but politely let them know that there is no there there with them.  In this case, delaying the inevitable could make things more awkward when we eventually do push them away.
    • See things the way we do, we have done each other a huge favor, by politely stepping away from them.

I left this specifically vague because not all open-ended pronouncements are spoken when a 'relationship' is in play.  Sometimes, we make these pronouncements with acquaintances, sometimes we make them with family and sometimes we make them with friends.  The important thing is to know your audience and be prepared when you make an open-ended pronouncement that it likely that you will have to follow-up on it, extend it or giving details or clarification on it.  If we read the audience correctly, this can be a smooth process.  If we read them wrong however, then we could leave some serious hurt and have serious resentment awaiting us.

I bid you a fond farewell from this post, but just remember, 'we'll get together then'.  You know we'll have a good time then.  ;-)

-- Rich

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wisdom to Know...

I believe in life, we hear sayings and understand them on some level, but don't necessarily deeply or totally appreciate them for awhile if ever.  Once such such saying for me is the Serenity Prayer.  I suspect anyone who has been going to church for a long time, been involved in a support/recovery group and/or is a person of faith has heard of the first part of it:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 

and wisdom to know the difference.

Not everyone however is familiar with the second part of it:

Living one day at a time; 

enjoying one moment at a time; 

accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 

taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 

Anyway, I've heard it many times and maybe I have really 'gotten it' before, but haven't expressed it clearly as I will no. Below, I'm going to focus on the first part of that prayer as I understand it.


  • Calmness of mind.
  • Untroubled of heart.
  • Doesn't mean no fear or disquiet, but it means they don't rule you.

Accepting the things I cannot change

  • To me this usually means tabling my expectations of others people or circumstances.  
    • Expectations might be quite understandable such as wanting a healthy relationship with you child, your siblings, your parents, etc.  It doesn't matter, the expectations have to be let go if unrealistic.
    • Expectations might appear to be within reach but if you were honest, would see that they aren't.  It doesn't matter how in reach they appear to be, if they aren't, it's time to let the expectation go.
    • Expectations that we will be understood.  If we are fortunate, we will have that friend and/or lover that pretty well understands us.  Life is so complex as is human interaction there is no feasible way to expect anyone other than our Higher Power to totally 'get us'. It doesn't matter how much we want it, it's time to understand that we will never be fully understood by anyone except our HP.  In short, time to let that expectation go.
  • To me, this means actually accepting what I can't change, rather than just saying or trying to convince myself that I have 'accepted' it. 
    • To me this requires an understanding of what accepting is.
      • Recognizing the validity/reality of what is to be accepted.
      • Consenting to the reality of what is to be accepted.
      • Words and actions showing that acceptance.
        • Your focus is not on the person/situation.
        • Any thoughts about the person/situation may pop up, but do not linger.
        • You can have feelings about the person/situation, but you just can't live in them.
    • To me this requires an understanding of what not accepting looks like.
      • Saying you've accepted something, but your words give lie to that supposed acceptance. 
        • For example, you say your over someone, yet every chance you get you badmouth the other party.
      • Saying you've accepted something, but your actions give lie to that supposed acceptance.  
        • For example, you say your over someone, yet when you think no one is watching, you stalk them on social media or elsewhere.
      • A tendency to be triggered about the circumstance that needs to be accepted, even if it infrequent.

Courage to change the things I can
  • To me that means recognizing any blocks in the way of making the change.
    • All the courage in the world cannot help if you haven't identified the blocks in the way of change.
    • This may require prayer, meditation, counseling or other means to draw out the nature of the blocks.
  • To me that means being able to push through those blocks.
    • This means a willingness to face any blocks or demons that are in the way.
    • This can mean asking others, including your HP for help, strength or support in facing the blocks.
    • This doesn't necessarily mean waiting until the fear subsides (it may never).
      • It means walking through the fear.
      • It means talking through the fear.
      • It means focusing what is on the other side of the wall rather than the difficulty in climbing the wall.

Wisdom to know the difference
  • Sometimes we know when what we can change and what we can't--and for that matter should and shouldn't--but need to be honest with ourselves.  Wisdom starts with a willingness to be honest with ourselves.
  • Sometimes we don't know the difference and need to ask our HP, meditate, ask for advice, etc. for help in discerning.  In other words, we have to be open to our HP and the resources he places in our path.
  • Gaining wisdom in life isn't a one-time event, but a life long process.  Gaining wisdom over a specific circumstance or situation likewise may occur over over time rather than all at once, though we might have a crystallizing moment.

For me the path to serenity is a long and continuing one.  I still have a long way to go, but I'm still on the journey and am willing to be on that journey for the rest of my life.  Perhaps one of the biggest blocks is wisdom (or willingness) to know the difference, hence the blog title.  Anyway, while I would love utopia, I know I'll never have it in this life, so I work to rest my hope in my HP that He will grant me the first part of the prayer while I keep in mind the second.

I hope you'll take what you can and are able to use out of this blog and add whatever need as in life, "your mileage may very".  Have a blessed day.

- Rich

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Healthy Escapes and Believers of Daydreams

I was listening to The Monkees - Daydream Believer and found it terribly bittersweet.  Sad really.  Music, like life today seems to be complex and often distressing.  It often has an attitude or carries an intense message.  Now, I like many other people appreciate the expression of ideas or thoughts, even ones that aren't comfortable, in the form of music.  But, sometimes I think we live in a world of too much intensity.  It's almost as if we are addicted to intensity in all forms:

  • The 24/7 news cycle.
    • Negativity is hard to avoid.
    • Negativity is repeated and reinforced.
  • Having grown-up ideas/concepts/'decisions' forced upon us at an early age.
    • Inappropriate commercials.
    • Pressed to take sides in adult cultural issues at an early age.
    • Images and sounds of rioting, violence, hate, and terrorism.
  • Broken families are common place.
  • Widespread availability of narcotics and other illicit drugs even to kids.
  • Widespread availability of 'screen' in every form (TV, iPod, cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktops)
Now we've gone through turbulent and divided times before, but it never has life been thrown at us--especially kids--so early, rapidly, repeatedly and recklessly.  It's no wonder kids are growing up into adults addicted to screen, drinking, drugs, porn and the list goes on.  That being said, I'll take the devil's advocate position for a moment before I engage the main subject.


Growing up, my dad would drive us to wherever and I paid only scant attention to the route or the way to get there.  In other words, since I wasn't responsible for getting us there, I didn't care so much.  As an adult, I pay a lot of attention to the routes as I am forced to.   Likewise, perhaps things have always been this turbulent and I was a bit more detached from it as a kid as I largely didn't have adult responsibilities to deal with it--that is until I was around 15, when my parents divorced, but I digress.  In other words, maybe it life seems more complex or intense because when I am more aware and attuned to it as an adult.


In a world so complex, constant and in our face, what can we use to pull back from the intensity and not give into it and all the addictions and hangups it spawns?
  • Exercise and play.  
    • This can benefit our health if not taken to an extreme.
    • This can benefit us psychologically if not taken to an extreme.
  • Reading
    • This can help us to slow down.  
    • Instead of bouncing from site to site or from game to game on screen, it can help to focus and quiet our mind.
  • Retreats
    • Camping--church, family or group.
    • Sweat Lodge
    • Personal growth/interest conferences.
    • Local park
    • Man-cave/she-shed or whatever your space around the house is called.
  • Helping others
    • Assisting with elderly.
    • Assisting with kids.
    • Assisting with the poor.
  • Relax
    • Slowing down the sound and listening to soothing music.
    • When overwhelmed, take a power nap.

These are just a few ideas of healthy escapes.  Maybe I am right?  Maybe the days of daydream believing are long gone?  That being said, if we can find healthy escapes and slow down the pace and intensity, we may not find the nirvana of daydreaming, but we may be able do defuse the intensity and struggle of everyday life a bit.

Just some thoughts.