Monday, March 28 2016
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
Happy Easter Monday, friends! Whether you are working or not today, I hope it’s a great day for you. Let’s get to it.
In the last few years I’ve hit hyperdrive in my understanding of change. I used to think change either happened or it didn’t happen, like a light switch: either on or off. The harm and failure of this thinking has doomed many of my change efforts, so I began to search for new and deeper understanding that might assist change. I had no idea of the rabbit hole I entered.
Change, I now understand, is both a process and a practice, not a choice. We are all changing all the time, in multiple ways, and so is everything and everyone around us. I watch people age (including myself!) and I see desperate efforts to stop change (not me!). I watch people work, and relate, and encounter, and do, and in everything I see nothing but ongoing processes of change. We cannot stop change, we can barely create change, but in the midst of our own change we can have powerful influence.
Dr. James Prochaska introduced me to the Transtheoretical Model of change. Simple put, it has five stages: Not Ready, Getting Ready, Ready, Action, and Maintenance. Sounds simple, right? Until you realize you have been failing on steps three or four without even knowing about steps one and two. Pick an area of your life you want to change, no matter how large or small. Where are you on this five step scale? Wherever it is, embrace that stage, come to peace with it, and then move to the next one.
Change is happening in every area of your life right now. What are you doing about it? How are you a positive part of it? Do you even know how to affect it? Consider my thoughts, be conscious of your place in the process, and practice good efforts to improve. You can be a passive player in your life if you want to but I bet you don’t. Get active and change in the ways you seek. You can do it! And so can I. Have a great week.
Monday, March 21 2016
“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are.”
Good morning, friends! I hope your day and week have begun well.
One reality of life I did not expect to learn when I first became a minister but have in fact learned in spades is the ever-present notion of suffering. In more fact, I think I see something most people don’t see or understand.
In the movie “The Sixth Sense”, the main character is a young boy (Cole) who has an extraordinary ability. Let him tell it for himself, speaking to his counselor.
Cole Sear: I see dead people.
Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?
[Cole shakes his head no]
Malcolm Crowe: While you're awake?
Malcolm Crowe: Dead people like, in graves? In coffins?
Cole Sear: Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead.
Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?
Cole Sear: All the time. They're everywhere.
I don’t see dead people; I see suffering people, everywhere, and they neither see the suffering of other people nor do they understand their own suffering. Suffering is everywhere.
Easter is the suffering season and Jesus is called the suffering Servant, but his form of suffering is not what affects the people I see. I see suffering in the manner of today’s quote, everywhere. People aging who wish they were not. Persons of economic circumstance who wish it were better. Persons in conflict who wish it would go away. Persons of certain abilities who envy something else. I could go on an on; I see people everywhere in denial of reality and tremendously suffering because of their denial. Is that you? God, I hope not.
There is no doubt we can do something about reality; that’s the whole change game. But to deny it, to mentally suffer because of it, that’s self destructive. Learning to embrace reality is an advanced step of maturity. Making the most of it and living within the confines of it are sure steps to peace and happiness. Is that you? God, I hope so.
Yes, I see suffering people all around me and too often I too am suffering, but occasionally I see the beautiful mystics, the subversive angels who exude happiness, joy, peace, contentment and so much more. I see how they make the most of what they have and are not concerned with what they have not. I see a different way in them, and I want that way for everyone. For me, and for you, too. I wish could tell you how, but I can’t, but if you can see the suffering in yourself, if you’ll admit it to yourself, if you’ll just be real for just a moment perhaps you can see the place of you. You can be the mystic, the angel, and have the life of joy, peace and happiness. It may not be the life you want, but if you can embrace the life you have it’s possible. Trust me; I’ve seen it.
Have a blessed Easter week, friends.
Monday, March 14 2016
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
Good morning, friends! Happy Pi Day (3.1416 if rounding to 4 decimal places!) and happy first weekday of Daylight Savings Time! That’s a lot of arcane celebrations right there!
The past three years have brought a renewed appreciation for morning to me. When first my daughter began at a local middle school three years ago I had to drop her off at 6:50 a.m. and so my day began at 5:50. That has been my schedule for three years now and still I have three more years of it.
When we leave each morning at 6:37 on the dot we have a chance to watch the rhythm of life at work. The school year begins fully sunlit. As the days pass the darkness gradually overtakes our morning ride, only to make us anticipate the sun’s return with the approaching spring. And just as we embrace the morning sun ride DST plunges us back into darkness. Today was the first depressing ride of the new era; anticipation is again our comforter.
As circadian beings we live in the rhythm of the old “Fiddler on the Roof” song, “Sunrise, Sunset”. No matter what we accomplish or fail to accomplish on one day sunset is coming, soon to be followed by new opportunity for success. Sometimes it’s good to carry one day’s experience into the next day, and other times it’s better to leave yesterday to itself. Eckhart suggests to embrace the natural circadian rhythm and take each day for itself. Seen this way, yesterday’s successes, no matter how great, can be a burden to today’s possibilities.
Sure as shootin’ today will pass with the setting of the sun and tomorrow will offer us all the opportunity for great things. It’s easier said than done but can you (will you?) embrace tomorrow like a beginner, not burdened by any success or failure of yesterday? Will you be fully you tomorrow, striving to be all you were created to be, blessed to be, grown to be? You only have a day to do it, to improve yourself, that is. Will you do it tomorrow, as a beginner? And what will you do to do it? Interesting thoughts, these are. Think about them, and better yet, do something with them! I know you will because you want to be a better and best you! Go and do, and have a great week! (And eat a pie to celebrate the day!)
Monday, March 07 2016
“The law of the universe is change.”
Good afternoon friends! I hope your weekend was as wonderful as the weather around here. Let’s get to the issue, shall we?...
I want to be clear about today’s quote. I heard it in a podcast this weekend, expanded a bit, but for the life of me I cannot remember which podcast, which speaker, or anything but the extended quote. Here is the expanded paraphrased version:
“The law of the universe is change, constant change. And any effort to resist change, whether to turn back the clock or to hold time steady, requires immense amounts of energy, payable now and in the future, and such efforts will eventually fail, rendering all costs wasted. The only solution is to embrace change in a peaceful way.”
Wow. Holy cow. Man. I cannot recall all the interjections I’ve mustered when recalling this quote. We all know the clichés of change, and have horror stories of change. Just this morning I spend a couple of hours with a pair of senior adults who were lamenting the pace of technological change. Or was it health change? Or was it church change? Or was it relationship change? Or was it just various stories of the universal law of change?
For many years I have fought the battle of change, only with the wrong narrative. Whether in my own life or the life of any other person or system I have suggested, “Look, you’ll get left behind if you don’t change.” To be quite blunt, neither I nor the other listeners to my narrative changed much. My narrative was wrong. The need to change is not because of future lost opportunities; it is purely because of presently wasted energy and expenses. The more peaceful path, the less costly path, the more amenable path is change.
Only you know the changes needed in your life or in the systems you influence. Perhaps you’ve been seduced by the siren of stability even though time and again you’ve seen stability crumble like a sandcastle in a wave. Though you know change would do you good, if you create a dualistic choice between change or stability the latter will most often win and you will lose. Your choice may be dualistic but the alternatives are change or lose/waste. Are we talking about your health, or your systems, or your relationships, or your experiences? Yes, it’s always about the universal law of change. Make peace with change, ride on top of the wave, become a learner and a doer. And you will know the grace and peace you’ve always wanted. Let’s do this together, starting right now! And have a great week.