First Move Yourself

Natural disasters, pandemics, global elitist playing the part of puppet master, drought, starvation, war, inflation.

So much in this world that weighs us down physically and mentally. Why is this happening to us? Why now? How do we stop it?

Why us and why now really come down to our viewpoint. The good times are the easiest to remember and certainly the times we long for. But catastrophes do not discriminate. They don’t just go after you and the ones you love. They attack anybody and everybody that gets in their way. A tidal wave doesn’t pick who its victims will be. It is an equal-opportunity destroyer. The hard times has always come and gone only to turn around and come again. It is rather depressing if you allow it to depress you.

What about trying to stop it? Equally depressing is the answer. Some things you just can’t stop. You can give water to him that thirsts, but can you stop a drought?

Let him that would move the world first move himself.

Socrates

Leave it to Socrates to find a glimmer of hope in what seems to be an unfixable situation. Maybe there are some things we cannot change, but there are some that we can. We can be the catalysts that sparks a movement. We can be the rock in which others find shelter and comfort. We can be these things but not without a price. What is this price? We must first be willing to change. We must become the pinnacle of self-improvement. We must learn to grow, adapt, and as Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” It begins with us on the individual level. And once we fix ourselves, we can go about trying to fix the world.


Feature photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

All Are Fighting a Hard Battle

The lady stood in line at the grocery store. The associates knew who she was and was giving her a wide berth. Unfortunately, another customer got too close to her in the line. The cashier, who happens to be my wife, attempted to give him a silent signal with her mask-covered face. It didn’t work, and the lady finally found another target for her hate. And thus, unfolded the same weekly tirade at the grocery store. This lady is in a perpetual state of anger and doesn’t care who feels her wrath.

The easiest solution is to return hate with hate. If it were me, I would make a game of it and flood her with more sarcasm than she could handle. But is that the right course of action? Does this improve the situation, or is it only a severe case of pettiness? I know what I would do, and I also know what I should do. Sadly, would and should are not the same thing. In this case, I will have to consider the words of one of the great thinkers in history. What would he do?

WWPD

What Would Plato Do?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Plato

Our antagonist in this story is angry. She is bitter. I cannot imagine the cause. But pouring gasoline on the fire is not beneficial to anybody. The battle she is fighting may be harder than anything I have imagined. Kindness may not cure her of her problems, but kindness is the answer. Thank you, Plato, for these words of wisdom.


Feature photo by Kat J on Unsplash

The Greatest Use of Life

In the beginning, we acquired resources. This was done for our survival. Food, water, and shelter. Once the basics were covered, we acquired resources for the survival of our offspring. That was the way, way back in the day.

We weren’t materialist back then, we were survivalists. But the times changed. We began acquiring resources for the sake of having them. We acquired them for the status, the power, and the comfort. All this stuff, just because we could. And not even one ounce of it can we take with us into our next lives.

The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

William James

If we go back to the beginning, life began as covering the basic needs. Then, it became about ensuring the survival of future generations. If you have your basics covered, how are you now spending your life? Is it only for you, or is it for something that will provide value to the ones who will be here after you are gone?


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Thank You (It Is Enough)

Merci

Danke

Grazie

Obrigado

Gracias

Mahalo

No matter how many languages you translate this into, the beauty of saying thank you is never diminished. What in this world, in this universe, should we be thankful for? If you ponder all of it, then what we owe our existence to goes far beyond the infinite.

And yet, when we pray, do we start with gratitude? And if we go deep and consider the infinite, which deserves our gratitude, will we have time for our personal requests? Exactly how important is our requests? Of course, to us our requests mean everything. This desire however, according to the Buddhists, is the cause of our suffering. Yet, if we have a heart full of gratitude, how much are we truly suffering?

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.

Meister Eckhart

Take a moment today to consider all the things we have. There is so much for us to be grateful for. We have more blessings than our ability to count them. Thank you.

And thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read this post. I deeply appreciate it.


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A Bad Heart

Heart disease. That is scary. Once the ol’ ticker goes, so does the soul that inhabits the body. Heart disease is so scary that millions will go on a lifetime prescription journey in the hopes of avoiding it.

The heart is a muscle. Like any other muscle, it can be trained. If you exercise it and give it the right nutrients, you can strengthen it and significantly reduce your chances of disease in the future. Between medication and diet/exercise, what would you choose?

Having a strong, healthy heart should be a priority. As stated earlier: once it is gone, so are you. As a result, we go to great extremes to protect it. But the worst heart problem cannot be fixed with exercise. Medication cannot cure it. Doctors may be able to repair it once it is damaged, but they are powerless when it comes to repairing this most serious of heart problems.

If you haven’t charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart problem.

Bob Hope

Some would say your heart and soul are one in the same. I agree. But where the heart muscle will one day cease to exist, your heart soul will continue into your next existence. But without love and charity in your heart now, you might find yourself in a shack on the outskirts of heaven instead of that mansion you were hoping for.


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How Do You Live a Perfect Day?

The question in the title is the question I have been considering lately. How do you live a perfect day? What does that even look like? Is it possible? Honestly, I do not know. However, I do know it is worth trying find out.

What would make a day perfect? To define this, we must go back to the philosophy of stoicism. The stoics believe we are responsible for everything within our control. Therefore, a perfect day can still involve rain, snow, personal loss, and other “less than ideal” situations. A perfect day is not a cosmic alignment of the stars. Instead, it is what you did to make the day perfect. Were you able to control the things that were in your control?

If we go back to the question of what a perfect day involves within the parameters of what is in our control, what are some of the things you can do to make it perfect?

Wake up refreshed and energized.

This begins with executing a routine the night before. If the unexpected happens the night before, which could very well happen, then it is out of your control. Either way, we must play the hand we are dealt to the best of our abilities. Just remember, the better you prepare the night before, the better your odds of success on the following morning.

Eat and drink right.

A perfect day doesn’t involve putting something in my mouth that I will regret a few hours later or will destroy my chances of a perfect day on the morrow. Remember, we are what we eat (and drink).

Get the things you need/want done.

Plan it out, create the list, and check off the boxes. But what if your idea of a perfect day is to take one off and do nothing? Then make the arrangements beforehand so that you have no misgivings while you are enjoying your day. And if your day is about super-productivity, then go into attack-mode and get after it. Of course, outside influences might slow or halt your progress. Don’t worry, they are outside your control. Deal with them and move on. What is not outside of your control is the wasted time. If you can identify and eliminate it, then you will be able to crush your “to-do” list.

These three things could put you well on your way to achieving that ever-elusive perfect day. But those three do not seem to be enough. Something seems to be missing:

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

John Wooden

Oh, the icing on the perfect day cake. It is an act of unconditional love for someone other than yourself. This is giving the cup of water to the one who thirsts. It is the essence of godliness. If you want to make a good day divine, then be on the lookout for these opportunities that have the power to change the lives of those you encounter. It is the final and most important ingredient to make your day perfect.


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A Permanent Impression

Consider the souls that have touched your life. Consider the acts of kindness, love, and friendship that you will never be able to forget. These are rare gifts that we should hold dear. Those moments are the catalysts for the stories worth remembering and worth telling. And once they are passed down, they inspire others to acts in similar ways.

Or maybe, it will inspire the recipient of that love and friendship to be more loving and to be a better friend to others. Maybe one generous act of kindness crossing your path of destiny will change your course so dramatically that others will also be affected. The result would be an exponential return of love. The result would be a truly better world.

No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without forever leaving some mark on it forever.

François Maurioc

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Better than When We Found It

It might have been a mess when we got here. It certainly was far from perfect. What will it look like when we leave?

How will the impact of your presence affect:

  • The lives of those around us
  • Our community
  • Where we work
  • The world

We can’t expect to walk into a good place, but we can make it better than when we found it. We can’t expect others to do it, but we are not accountable for their actions. We are only accountable for our own.

We are here on earth to good to others. What the others are here for, I do not know.

Matthew Arnold

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Little Waves of Destruction

Saturday afternoon shopping and errands. I’m not going to lie. This is not my favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon. On the way, I suggest we eat lunch first. We go to Willy Taco.

Chips, salsa, and a big glass of some kind of fruit punch for the kiddo. He is playing with his Nintendo Switch. Occasionally, we let him bring it in. Today is one of those days. After all, it is Saturday afternoon and who wants to spend the day riding around shopping.

He reaches for a chip. On the way to his mouth, he clips the fruit punch. Fruit punch and ice go tsunami across the table, across the plates, and over the Switch.

My instinct is to add a little kindling to the fire. This is an interruption to a pleasant lunch. What are you thinking? How could you do something like that? Way to go, you ruined your Switch. These are the initial thoughts that course through my head. I look at him. Tears are starting to roll down his cheek. We clean up and Mama goes to the restroom.


2003. It was our first date. We are sipping on beer in our little booth at a local Mexican restaurant or maybe it was Applebee’s. Eighteen years ago, and the details are a little fuzzy. What isn’t fuzzy is me knocking over my beer. Sadly, this is not my first tabletop tsunami experience. The cute girl sitting across from me, Bethany, gets the full wave of ice-cold hops and barley.

A few years later, and that same girl somehow became my wife. My mom is visiting us in Tallahassee. Coincidentally, we are back at the local Applebee’s for dinner. We are sipping beer and enjoying our appetizers. I reach for a chip and initiate the next storm of destruction. This time my wife is spared. Thank God! Unfortunately, my mother is in the impact zone and the storm surge hits her full in the lap. All I can do is shake my head as I reach for any napkins in the vicinity.


About a week or two ago, I was listening to a Podcast. I can’t remember which one, but one little snippet stuck with me. They were talking about kids and their coordination. Overcoming clumsiness is a part of their development. How ridiculous it is to be upset with them when this happens. The conversation resonated with me, because I wondered how often I spoke what was in my mind when Alec had an accident. There is no use crying over spilt milk unless your parent makes you cry. In my mind, I told myself I can’t be that person that makes these molehill accidents into a tragic mountain.

As I mentioned, mama, that same cute girl from before, goes to the restroom. I look over at Alec and think about that Podcast episode. I tell him, “It is okay. Accidents happen, and this was an accident. There is no need to be upset. We are not upset. Your Switch is okay.” Bethany comes back from the restroom, and we resume our lunch as if nothing ever happened.

The moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.

Eckhart Tolle

The hard thing is not voicing those initial snap judgments that come to mind. By taking a moment to see the big picture and keeping my snide comments to myself, I prevent the accident from escalating into something else. We are all human and prone to accidents. In this case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I only hope he can gain a better control of his motor skills earlier than I did in life.


Feature photo by Anshu A on Unsplash

How to End the Struggle

I wake up. I struggle to get out of bed. Instead of checking in on how I feel, I look to the sleep section on my Fitbit app. Ugh. Another mediocre night of sleep. I think about the long day ahead and force myself to get dressed and go workout.

I am at work and check my email. I check my schedule to make sure I am where I am supposed to be at the appropriate time. I reach for the coffee to help me get through the meetings with those that do not want to meet, to get through the tasks that need to get done, and to get through the reports that need to be completed.

Back at home. Chores, dinner, a wound-up kid with tons of energy that need to be burned, and a spouse whose day wasn’t much different than mine.

Bedtime. Will I be able to get to sleep?  Tomorrow is a new day with a new set of struggles like the ones of today.

The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.

Neale Donald Walsch

What if the day looked different? Of course, it would be the same day with the same set of obstacles. But what if I had a different perspective? Instead of drudgery and have-to, what if it was opportunity and want-to? What if…

The alarm goes off, and I take a moment to check in with myself. I made it through the night to see another day. Not everybody gets that chance, but I do. I get dressed and exercise grateful that I have a mind and body that can still do it.

At work. I have a job that pays the bills and allows me and my family to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle. I have a chance to help others and make new connections. Somebody finds value in what I do. I find value in what I do.

Home. I have a wife and child who love me. There is food on the table and shelter over our heads. Our basic needs are met.

Bedtime. The bed is comfortable. Sleep comes with the knowledge of peace and security. Sleep comes because I did not squander the day in idleness, but instead made the most of the opportunities given to me. And if I am given another tomorrow, then I am given another opportunity. I am given a gift to be grateful for.


Feature photo by Amadeo Valar on Unsplash