Sunday, September 26, 2010

Uncertainty For An Uncertain World: Be More Efficient

It seems that it has become a habit to try and contain our lives in small, byte-sized chunks for easy consumption. And, if it can be done, it is probably easier on your nerves and health in general. But life has a way of making things interesting for you, and keeping you on your toes. It has a way of making sure that we are tested, again and again...and again. I am beginning to think that the responses to our situations are more important than the situations themselves. Otherwise, why does it happen again and again?

It makes sense that there are life lessons that will be repeated until they are learned. It also makes sense that you will have the occasional refresher test, to see if you have really learned. Otherwise, the universe is capricious, and we are subject to whim and intentional malice. It seems easy for me to say this, here, right now, in the comfort of my home, surrounded by my family and safely cocooned. But that is what home should be, a haven, to rest and refit, to prepare for another foray into the chaos of the gather our resources, muster our courage, and venture yet again into world gone mad. And, the maddest sort of mad, where nobody gets the awesomely ironic joke.

To me, this is the test of a true warrior. It isn't in some sort of fantasy MMA thing, or dominating others. It is getting out of bed, getting up on your hind legs, and going through yet another pointless day doing pointless things...and, doing them well. Doing them for your family, so they can share your haven, your Hobbit Hole. And, the Warrior must be well versed in many things. If I may share a quote from Robert Heinlein, author of Strager In A Strange Land and Starship Troopers:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Oddly enough, this was mentioned in the May 2011 issue of Black Belt magazine. Of course, they added the things a good, well-rounded martial artist should be able to do, as well. But, it is an example of how he are beginning to become more fragmented. I like the idea of being able to

perform the purely mental skills and the menial. The Sage with a hoe, the Scholar with a shovel. I don't think that Heinlein was talking about duality here, but it certainly is applicable.

One thing that prevents us from being able to provide this is the growing tendency to live our lives virtually. We used to be mere voyuers, but now we do so in the realm of the pixel. I succumb to this as badly as the next fellow, for at my fingertips is a glut of information. How can I be expected to turn off the magic box that caters to my passion for raw data and venture forth to actually do something myself?

I used to play an online wargame that had a social content. By that, I mean that it had friends and allies, and we chatted together and planned things. It required that I be at the PC in the AM and the PM lest my troops and cities be neglected. I had a hard time quitting, as it had become my ritual, my habit. And, lo! I still got up at the same time, and instead of doing something productive, turned on the box and stared at the screen!

Hence my comment in the beginning of living our lives in small, byte sized packets. We get our input in tiny bits of data. We don't live our lives anymore, we stream it....and don't realize that anything is wrong. We are in danger of losing our ability to do so many things.....

Is Specialization for insects? In some fields, it is a requirement. If you are going to do some brain surgery, you can be forgiven if you can't re-roof a barn. but for the rest of us, we need to expand our horizons....before we become part of that great community of brain-dead zombies, chained to our virtual pacifier by our CAT 6 cable.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
Ecclesiastes 3:

Here are my grandchildren, Taylor, 8, Bryan, 3 and little Trystyn, 3 weeks.

It is another changing of the seasons for me. For more on the subject of change and children, I like this blog, and this post in particular;

It captivated me, and now I am looking at things with new glasses, as they say. Or, I just cleaned the old ones.

I had reached what I thought of as a breaking point. The year has been full of disappointments, crisis, and turmoil, from the small things, like the shower head breaking off, to large things, like car accidents. I began to feel overwhelmed, and getting angry. To those that know me, anger is an old friend of mine. We used to hang out a lot, and did a lot of things together that I would like to forget. Sadly, since I cannot erase memories, I am stuck with my past. And that is the problem.

I teach and work with angry people. For some, it is the only ready and safe emotion to deal with an unfair hand in life. schizophrenic, bipolar, paranoid- life isn't fair for my people. And, the system isn't fair, not at all. You become a prisoner of your own illness. To make it more interesting, lets confine you to a facility and staff it with people that almost have as much trouble as you do relating and have little to no sympathy or compassion as the years in 'the business' roll on. So, anger is there.....

I can relate to my angry people. I get angry so easy, I try to not let me go there. It is like an alcoholic, when you get a taste you want more! I am an anger junkie. Every now and then I fall off the wagon. I get mean, I get snotty, I get downright near violence. I want to right my perceived wrongs in the old way, by beating on somebody or something. It is intoxicating! And, the wrong season...

I was angry because I never developed mature outlets for my emotions. A man of extremes, I either let go what I shouldn't have, or ran with the things I should have let go. My frustration and sense of helplessness nearly drove me to other aids, such as drink, drugs and other risky behaviours. Instead, I found anger, and a mean, mean pride. I became a jerk, in short. It took a lot to overcome. Well, actually, not at all!!! I just hit rock bottom, and while stuck in a hospital for a week with no pain pills (liver acting up) and unable to move without severe pain, I lay awake for nearly 48 hours, unable to sleep. I had plenty of time to think and reflect. It was a tempering, and I came thru it a different person.

I spend a great deal of time trying to make up to my children what I consider was a crappy childhood. They moved a lot, and we never had much. They all say they thought it was great, and I got mad a lot, but I was an OK father. OK....I wish I could have been a great dad. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that there is always a lesson to be learned...

Well, now my children have children. The little darlings tear up my house and run amok regularly, just like my little ones used to do! In this season, I want to be able to realize the vision I always had but never seemed to be able to grasp, to be the man I always wanted to be. I have to start at home, and I hope that parents will join me in making a safe, happy place for kids, all kids. Children should always have our love, regardless.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Creative Warrior

I love paradox, don't you? The Peaceful Warrior books- whether you like them or not, you love the title. How can one be peaceful and a warrior? They seem opposed, at odds with each other. A Warrior is devoted to destruction, isn't he? How can he be peaceful? Wouldn't that lessen his effectiveness?

The answer is in the definition, of course. The average person may think of a warrior as simply a man of war. By that, I mean his only profession or skill lies in defeating other human beings. But this is not always so. Certainly, conflict is a part of the Warriors' daily life. But life and death struggles aren't the norm for most of us. The real object of those that train for war is preparation- to be ready. This means to be able to handle extreme violence, or extreme kindness- it is really all the same, just what you are doing at the moment. If you think about it, this is very zen...but, you see it all the time. It is not extraordinary to find foes being compassionate to enemies or the innocent ones caught up in the 'collateral damage'.

Hence, my title- the creative person, the one who struggles with his art or his expression of his creativity. This can be physical, as well- Bruce Lee thought of himself as expressing himself through his art. He saw himself as a creative human being- physical movement was his field of endeavor, and he sought for the truth of it. Sound familiar? Truth is a great part of art, really. And I believe we still remember and honor those that remain true to the truth in their art, whatever it may be.

A Warrior is true to himself. He knows himself as an artist knows his colors. He is on a constant quest for self-improvement, to be a little bit better than yesterday. It isn't easy.

If people knew how hard I have had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem wonderful at all.

So I strive to be creative. To be a Warrior, we must be artists of life. I noticed that I have a tendency to capitalize Warrior even though it shouldn't be- but, I think of it as a title, a noble calling. A full time job, the most important of jobs, for it dictates how you relate to everyone and everything in your life.

Again, you don't need to be a person familiar with tools of violence or methods of combat that do violence to others to be a warrior. To me, the warrior is also one that is ready to do battle with the forces of mediocrity and indifference. While others avoid responsibility and practice denial, we face our tasks as surely as a warrior would face his enemy. In truth, our real enemy is ourselves- our desire to follow the herd, to seek for immediate pleasures at the expense of our future. In short, the quality of life! Some see this as fame, fortune, material things. We see it as the things that cannot be measured by a bank statement, or recognized by any but others like us. The reward is a full life, the ability to perceive the value and beauty in things that others miss because they have been taught that the secrets to happiness can be owned. In truth, what do they have that can compare with a sunrise? Wouldn't it be better to have the ability to see beauty in nature, in the changing of the seasons, in other people's faces and life stories, and savor the wonders that are there for free, if only we could perceive them?

So. I fight my laziness, me desire to give up, to be part of the herd, to live my life according to Madison Avenue. To seek not for wisdom, but for bits of junk that will give me satisfaction..for the moment. In that battle, you may find peace. I like to think that the effort itself rewards me with a certain serenity.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Walking The Path

I recently came across something that brought me great joy. Imagine someone drudging through the burdens of life- job, marriage, husband's failed business, losing a great house and moving into a mobile home. Can you foresee the dreariness, the thoughts of failure, the depression? The feelings of giving up, no longer caring or trying? Well, this person didn't give up.

What impressed me the most is that she waited patiently for items, made it fun. Quite a few of the things she didn't have, she made- and that was fun, too. In short, she took a life that could be full of negativity, recriminations, and bitterness. Instead, she made something she always wanted. The fact that it is small adds to it, instead of diminishing it. There is a message here for many a so-called wise person.

Well, it makes me want to step back and look at my life a bit differently. How can I apply the same methods? How can I shape my daily life so that I can feel fulfilled even though the day involves so much that takes from me, and leaves me tired and feeling like a beast of burden rather than a creative, live human being?

I don't know. But when I see things like this, I know I have to try! If I may quote Hagakure again,

To say that to die without reaching ones' aims is to die a dog's death is the way of frivolous sophisticates.

Funny how this could apply today as well. Our 'frivolous sophisticates' would immediately criticize, and have nothing positive to offer. All they know is that they have the secrets..and, they aren't telling!

The Way is in the trying. Brace ourselves, move forward! One foot in front of the other, as my father always said when we took our long, rambling walks. He would not be considered a great or intelligent man by those that recon these things. But he was wise. He would have loved this article, and found a project for him to do, to lift him up, to give him hope. He never quit, until he became too ill to continue.

What a spirit! I always feel like a mere shadow compared to these amazing people. May I never give in!

keep on keeping on

"courage doesn't always roar. sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, i'll try again tomorrow."

{mary anne radmacher}

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Walk the Walk

I recently had an incident where I was talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Under a lot of stress at work, I vented when I should have remained silent. I posted caustic remarks on Facebook. A co-worker that is on my friends list had to have logged on for my supervisor, showed them the remarks. I got chewed out and it got posted all over the facility, as an example of what not to do. Now, I can hear all you rebels out there screaming about freedom of speech, and privacy acts. My first thought was in that direction, also. I deleted all my coworkers, and all suspicious people from my friends list, and posted a lot of crap about freedom of speech, those that have successfully won cases involving facebook postings, etc. I was indignant over what I perceived as Gestapo tactics, invading a private sphere that I used to blow off steam over a really bad few weeks at work. So, what was the outcome?

Strained relations at work, I can tell you. Anger. Resentfulness. Feelings of persecution. I considered making a big issue out of it. Then I re-read my previous posts.

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
Kahlil Gibran

Wise words. Now I have to come to some sort of conclusion about the whole mess. As I look back at my words here, I realize that I have, as we used to call it in my youth, 'backslidden'. This is a term to describe Christians that have fallen away. They are still technically part of the Kingdom, but they have lost their way- hopefully for the moment. As an anger junkie, and one with a large chip on my shoulder, I backslid and gave way to my old, comfortable feelings. All issues about privacy aside, my actions are the real problem here, not the outcome.

Conquer thyself, till thou has done this, thou art but a slave.
Sir Richard Francis Burton

Ah, more wise words! And isn't that the real reason for the journey? To improve ourselves, to be better people? To leave this place better than we were, in hopes that we have improved things just an iota? In the martial arts, we are taught not to gauge ourselves against others, for that is self defeating. No, we compete against ourselves, sometimes showing little to no progress. But the journey is the reason, not the progress! Due to injuries, I have been plodding along at the same level for years, and it never seemed to bother me. I rejoiced over any small improvement, and was glad I was able to do it at all. So why can't this attitude spill over into other areas of my life?

Again, I see the habit of confusing our 'spiritual world' and our 'physical world'. We want to separate it, to live one way here and another there. We want to be enlightened when the heat isn't on, basically. And that is a failing. For it to be of value, it must work all the time! Since it didn't work for me, then I must be faulty. My personal philosophies have to work not just here at the keyboard, where all is fine and the world is peaceful. It has to be useful to me when I am in the thick of it. My job is very stressful, but that is no excuse. I need to either find another job, or find the key to this one!

Well, looking back over my postings about change, and shifting through all my notes, I decided that the best response was for me to start fresh, with a new perspective. I have done so, and the last few work days have been very rewarding for me. And, being the type of place it is, others have done things so horrendous that my little faux pas is now considered old news- all this within a week! So, I did get something out of the experience, a reminder that all is fleeting. Had I not been so absorbed in the problems of the moment that I forgot to view the 'big picture' I would not have had to relearn this particular lesson.

The moral is: if you live in a glass house, be careful what you do. Everybody can see.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Those Selfish Buddhas

It is said that Gautama Buddha lived a life of pleasant distraction, and didn't see misery until he was quite grown, with a wife and children. The experience led him to leave his sheltered life, and seek a solution for human suffering. His conclusion was that we suffered because we had desires. So- and, let me state I have sought long and hard, studied many texts and authors before I came to this conclusion- his solution was to not care. If you care, you hurt. Want nothing or nobody. Desire not! Do not get involved!

Selfish crap. This is the world we live in. If you cant' make it a better place, at least don't wash your hands of it! You are the constant, not the sutras or the Buddha. He was just a man trying to deal with his inability to accept life as an adult. Real warriors don't run from the troubles of the world!

Again, let me stress that my definition of a warrior needn't be one that involves weapons or other forms of military conflict. A fighter is one that fights simply to fight. A warrior has a moral imperative as well, a focus. He fights for a reason. If may just be to raise his family in a chaotic world, or to bring stability of some sort. He may want to do something positive in his community or simply be a good neighbor. A warrior is part of a solution, and rarely the problem. When he does become part of the problem, he corrects it. It is akin to doing your duty. But you have to care about the world around you to do this!

I am not knocking Zen, or other philosophies. I am just saying that somewhere in there, the 'chop wood, carry water' is being overlooked and we, particularly those not raised in this tradition, are more drawn to the trappings and the fact that it is exotic than we are to the meat of the subject. Here is a Zen parable I like a lot. An 'enlightened' monk was carrying a heavy load; it may have been Hotei, the 'Laughing Buddha. At any rate, he was asked what enlightenment was; he put his sack down. He was asked what the realization was: he picked it up. So, real enlightenment isn't about ignoring the world, or finding distraction. It is attending to all the things we always do with an enlightened attitude. Once more, the thing different is you!

Speaking of Hotei, he is a good example of thinking outside the box. His sack was full of goodies for the small and poor, and he would much rather laugh and play hide-and-seek with children than study old scriptures in a stuffy room with serious people. He lived his Zen, he didn't preach it or become caught up in being stylish. He is a good example of how to attend to your obligations in life and still have a life worth living!

The same can be said for most Christians. Can you walk the walk while putting up with all the foolishness at your workplace? Is your faith something you can take with you to Wal-Mart? Do you feel you have to put it aside to get ahead? Anybody raised in church knows what I am talking about- the urge to fit in, to not be the strange one walking this lonley path while others seem to be having fun while you observe your list of rules and sigh over the things you feel you are missing. The fact that people only seem to be having a great time- in reality, this is the only way they know to relate to things, the meeting of wants- they aren't creating anything lasting or worthwhile in the long run. It is all momentary, fleeting!

There! I have even given myself some things to think about!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tools For Change

Change is a constant in our lives. It can be challenging, it can be frightening. The one thing to remember is that life is never stagnant, and attempts to arrest or slow the natural flow of our lives goes against the very laws of nature and physics! Things get set in motion, and they stop when it is time to stop...time never gets arrested in one place, always going forward. We have to adopt this for our lives, as well.

So, as my first tool for change, I strove to accept the fact that this, right now, is where I am supposed to be, and nowhere else. I can change things if I want to. I can move, quit a job, or sit in my chair moaning about all the unfair things in life. When I decide not to make a decision, it is still an action. So, if I am here, in the now, and this is the place for me to be at this time, what then? How do I rationalize it, make the best of it?

I assume we are talking about the mundane adventures of life, and not, say, a life threatening event, as these are very rare. We are discussing getting cut off in traffic, being screamed at by a boss, somebody has power over you and authority and is using it, you are being treated unfairly, the bills are piling up, you are carrying more than your fair share. Dealing with, say, life in a war zone, or patrolling or policing an enemy territory is another matter entirely, as trouble is expected- that is why you are there.

So, what to do? What I do is take myself out of the equation. By that, I really mean ego. I have a mean, mean pride, and it gets in my way. One of the reasons I began my study of the martial arts 30 years ago was because it was recommended to help me tame my bad temper and easily offended pride. Ego is at the center of it all. And, let me say, I do not fully subscribe to the zen belief that ego is bad. I do think that an ego unchecked is a recipe for trouble, however!

We have to prioritize these events, decide very quickly what the worst outcome will be. My personal list, rated from least to most critical in terms of impact, is this:

Slightly insulting, teasing, minor blame. I ignore this as best I can. This sort of behavior comes from very insecure and unhappy persons. They can get their jollies elsewhere, as I will not give them the small ego boost they want from annoying me. Deny them attention!

Raised voice, Anger, Challenging. This is an escalation. You are now definitely the focus of some bad vibes, and you are being singled out. This is where I start to pay attention, and assess- I try to talk with the person in a calm, monotone voice, to re-direct, as we say in mental health. Don't shy away from the focus, deflect it with soft, reasonable words. Give them an out, a way to save face, and let them- don't have the last word unless you want it to continue.

Direct challenge, Screaming, Threats This can be either professional, such as a boss blaming you for something and threatening your position or job, or something else. Again, impact! We can't choose our boss, so we have to deal with it. I have rarely been able to redirect this type of person when they are in the middle of their 'power orgy'. Let them rant, and if you disagree, tell them why in a reasonable tone. This is one place where logic must win, as there are labor laws, and if you yell, too, you are simply adding to the hostile environment.

Outside of work, or with a co-worker that can't affect your employment status- and, in this economic environment, I do not ever recommend letting pride send you to the unemployment line- you can be firmer. Again, consider- why are they doing this? If you are in the wrong, or it just looks that way, admit it. You can turn away a whole flock of wrath by simply saying you made a mistake, or that you didn't mean it that way. Never underestimate a persons' desire to be right! Be in the wrong, apologize, and let it go if they are willing to do so. If they are not, then you need a mediator- a supervisor, a cop, a lawyer. Don't take abuse if you can't diffuse things. But, take ego out of it- simply inform them that you aren't going to deal with them anymore, conversation over, unless they want to go to the mediator. This will usually stop or tone it down, as they look for ways to extradite themselves and save face. Remember, saving face is very important for those that are insecure or just have to be right. Shrug your shoulders and let them be- it amuses them, and doesn't hurt you, just your ego- and we control our ego, don't we?

Menacing, Invading space, Physical intimidation, Prelude This is getting serious, as the person will not back down, will not listen to reason. They are in the grip of anger, and they want to act out on it. The one thing I know is anger! Having been an 'anger junkie' I understand- it is addictive, and you get to like the rush of adrenaline and the feeling of power. The problem is when you decide to act on it. At this point, cognitive abilities are way down, as is IQ. Rational person is put on hold, and the caveman comes to the rescue! Flight or fight, and they look ready to fight.

Points to ponder: I rarely feel intimidated due to my training, but there are a host of other factors. At my work, I cannot legally defend myself. Amazing, but true! I can be fired, and suffer from the agency that inspects all mental health facilities in my state. I can use enough force to protect others, but I am expected to do nothing that will assault our clients. Assault here can be as simple as touching somebody, by the way- we are a no-touch facility. My voice is still my best option here, and it may be in your workplace as well. At this point, you need to call a supervisor, or the police. You don't have to take this! It is against the law to threaten violence, and if you fear for your safety (remember this phrase when law enforcement or supervisors arrive)you need somebody to intervene. If you can't get away, and there aren't any exits, try to talk to them in a reasonable manner- remember, calm, monotone voice. Some bullies like a victim, so if you are really afraid, let them know! You would be surprised how much they feed on it.

Physical contact: All bets are off! Defend your self, this is the jungle, baby! Forget all the crap, just survive! Use any method, there is no 'dirty fighting' when you are in danger. If you don't know how to fight, use a weapon- a pen, your keys, a rock. Rage and determination are your best tools now-, let the killer caveman lose! And, if you get an opening, run!

These are all basic, simple tools, and very generic. Please let me know what you think! Remember, these are my personal tools, made for me. You will have to find your own!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tools For Change: The Main Ingrediant

In our fast-paced world of trend, immediate results, and fast-food mentality, one would think that there are tons of useful books, videos and Tv shows that can solve our problems. Apparently, this is not so, for I see new products and methods on the market all the time. It makes me wonder why, for I have read some of them, and they all seem to have some valid points. Well, I have a theory.

What is the one constant in all these self-help rituals? You, of course. So instead of trying to change your clothing, hair, or other surface 'artifacts'- environment alone- or trying to change your comfortable way of thinking- I am suggesting that we change our view of things instead.

The most damaging is how we view ourselves. Do we we see ourselves as winners, losers, victims? As a catalyst for change, or a repository for misery? Where did we get these self-conceptions, and why?

In my life, I discovered that I have many 'knee-jerk' attitudes- that is, I react automatically to some stimulus, but I really don't know why I do it. If you had to explain, you would be puzzled. Somehow, these ideas became our dogma, and we can't place the source.

My first real experience with this came when a celebrity was mentioned. Actually, I recall it was Mr. T. I began to ridicule Mr T. for his jewlry, wearing a weight lifting belt, etc. My friend pointed out all the good works Mr. T has done....and, I immediatly wanted to defend my position, yet I had no position. I merely spurted out what I said, with no real thought or insight. This gave me something to think about. After careful thinking, I realized that I had heard these remarks from a friend years before. I didn't bother to research Mr. T, or think about him myself. It was easier to allow my friend to create my opinions for me. In later years, I found many interesting and inspirational things about Mr. T, when I bothered to look for myself.

Childhood is another breeding ground for these reactions. We react to things, people and situations that are no longer applicable. We are still relieving the pain or experience, even though the reasons are no longer valid. For example, I was adopted. Most of my relatives never seemed to mind, but I had one Uncle- my favorite Uncle when I was young- that seemed to enjoy letting me know that I was different, that I was out of place. For a long time, I had real issues about acceptance and betrayal due to this man. It took years of realizing that his views were no longer true, that they were simply his opinions, and it was a closed issue. The man is dead now, yet at times I can still feel his cold, icy fingers reaching up from the grave! My sense of feeling that bad things happen to me and I have to take it for some kind of attonement come from this man. Yet, the experiences of mychildhood stopped being valid when I broke free of my attatchment to him, and realized he was treating me differently. He was no longer my favorite Uncle, but I still acted on the venom he planted in me for decades to come!

I still have revelations regarding my thoughts and actions. And, in the end, we really control so little of our lives. We think we do, but really, we don't. One of the few things we can do is adjust what we say and do. By that, I mean living in the moment, right now. What you say and do affects others, and for that you are responsible! First, be good to yourself. After all, this is your vehicle, your vessel here on earth. Try to be a person of character, say and do the right things. When you don't know, say so! If you do, act on it! Be somebody you would folow, would trust and look up to. Try. I will if you will.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Way of the Warrior

Yamamoto Tsunemoto was a Samurai at a time when things were changing in Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate no longer had need for mere warriors, but for administrators and leaders, men to run the government. Tsunemoto mourned the passing away of the old values, and foresaw a corruption of the Samurai ideals. He eventually retired to a monastery, and dictated Hakagure as a guide for the young Samurai of his clan, so they did not lose what he thought made a Samurai a Samurai. His most famous saying is that 'The Way of the Samurai is found in death.'

Obviously, he did not mean for them to rush right out and behave foolishly. He basically meant for them to not concern themselves with life or death, just 'do it'. He stated that philosophy was for the old, and young men should concern themselves with 'vitality'- action. The old Samurai often stressed that you cannot follow different ways- Miyamato Mushashi said, "The Way of the warrior does not include other Ways, such as ... certain traditions, artistic accomplishments and dancing. But even though these are not part of the Way, if you know the Way broadly you will see it in everything. Men [and women] must polish their particular Way".

So, as modern warriors in a chaotic society that seems to value thrill-seeking and temporary pleasures, how do we rise above? How can we attain the inner peace, the solid grounding that we need?

Many turn to religion, philosophy, alcohol, drugs, or live in a fantasy world. And, I don't mean the delusional world of the schizophrenic, I mean not facing your situation as it really is. For that is the rub: to live in a sheltered environment, like a monk, who couldn't put their philosophy in action? But when the bill collectors are calling non-stop, your boss is a total creep, all things seem to turn against you- what then? Will your chosen method for coping with reality help you deal with a cranky child, or a disconnect notice? How about a death, or a contentious marriage or relationship? How about when you really want to be with that 'certain one' and they don't feel the same about you? What then?

Well, the Way is in death- but not always a physical death. Developing the ability to face challenges as a challenge, not as a personal affront, is a good place to start. If you feel the world is against you, life is not fair, why can't you get all the good luck, etc.- you have lost. You are afraid of death- the death of your unattainable ideals and goals. Obviously, the world isn't going to oblige you by restructuring the nature of things to your advantage. It was here first, so you get what you get. My strategy is to change my goals and desires. My old ideas, the ones that keep me unhappy, discontent, feeling less than the other fellow- they need to be faced, conquered, and cast aside. Not easy! But this is a journey, remember- we start today, and don't fret over immediate results. As warriors, we develop our warrior spirit thru trials and test ourselves daily. The world is our battlefield, life our dojo. (Training hall- place of the way.)

You don't need to know how to fight or to use weapons to be a warrior. You need spirit, discipline, and faith in yourself. You need the courage to look at your life as it is, accept yourself and your life as is, and then....go out and change it. Think of it as a project. The needs and requirements have changed, so you alter the plans and keep working. We are works in progress, and sometimes the plans need to be changed.

Next blog, I will look at tools for change.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making the most of Your Day

Time is really a fleeting thing. It passes quickly, like a very swift river, or it seems slow and stagnant, like a swamp. The hard thing is to make the most of it, regardless....

Time usually hangs during difficult or annoying times, like work, jury duty, renewing tags, any government office. Sometimes, for no reason, it just seems to hang heavy, and you feel despondent and detached, a kind of yearning, but you don't know what for.

Zen teaches us to enjoy every minute, for it will never come again. Each second is unique, and has it's own value. Also, the theory is that anything can be withstood for a minute, and life is made up of minutes. I know that I employ various ideas to get through particularly long and tedious days, or days that I just want to end.

Jesus worked against a timeline, as well. According to the Bible, he knew he didn't have much time before his death, yet he never seemed to worry about it. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Encouraging words, and true! I believe we make things more difficult by stressing before they happen, during the event, and after. Mark Twain said, "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened."

So how to get through a trying day, or an awkward moment that seems to drag? Comments and ideas welcome!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome To The Journey

WE, all of us, have something to say, something to share. The key to surviving this chaotic, uncertain world is to develop a sense of community, a bond between what I like to call 'Survivers of the Sojourn.' We have developed an ethos, a code, a list of behaviours and ideas that are not the norm. In fact, we are throwbacks to a time where honor and dignity were common, where we were valuable members of society, saw ourselves as usefull peices of the whole, and not just consumers or thrill seekers. We have purpose. The point of this blog is to share purpose, and to support each other with ideas and by bringing new enthusiasm to mutual problems.

I chose the Warrior ethic because I am not only a practicioner of Tang Soo Do, but because today's warrior meets far more moral battles than physical. In todays world where ego is the ideal and respnsibility the aberration, we often stand alone.

I would like to stress that I am not advocating any sort of militancy, unless it is sort of a zen hobbit militancy...I believe we all deserve a good life, and we don't often get it. I think we create our world, regardless of what we must endure. We must develop the tools to continue making the world a better place, starting with one

Please share your thoughts and ideas!