Wednesday, May 21, 2008
An embarrassment of riches. That is the idiom I am struck with. I don't know why. It doesn't really apply... not exactly. The phrase speaks to an overabundance of something... too much of a good thing. That isn't literally how I feel. I don't believe that they are too much... not in the sense that I crave less. And yet, late at night, when I tiptoe into each of their rooms and stare... at their innocence... their overwhelming beauty... it often feels like... too much. Too much love. Too much adoration. It seems impossible that there is enough room in my heart to house it all. Each day, it seems that I am full to capacity... and then one of them looks at me, full of wonder, and states a basic need; a need that only I can meet; a need which they feel entirely safe to put forth, in the knowledge that I will provide... and they say that word; that divine word... they say, "daddy"... and the love expands. There is, magically, ever more space. The heart is remarkable that way.
They are not mine; I know that. I don't know how to make people; nor does my wife. We simply made love. Ten months later I watched a fully formed human being emerge from Lorri. As I stood frozen observing this miracle, I remember thinking, "this has very little to do with me." They are God's children. In God's infinite wisdom, they have been placed in my care (best job I ever had). When I hold that truth before me, I worry less. Because, God knows, the worry can completely consume you. In my mind, I have raced them to the hospital and watched their bodies go limp and buried them and mourned for them more times than I can count. There are surely times when this level of love feels like a trap. Who knew it would be this intense; this overwhelming; this all-consuming? And now, there is no going back. They are here and I love them this much... and now I get to fear losing them every moment of every day for the rest of my life... because if they are taken from me... i will die. So how do I resolve this challenge? How does the experience of parenthood not destroy me?
Someone once explained the difference between grace and mercy thusly: "grace is getting things you probably don't deserve while mercy is not getting things you probably do deserve." I have received much of both. Do I deserve them? It's hard to know. Perhaps it is not even a useful question. And yet, I wonder... I know many who have lived lives far more righteous than mine, who have not been so abundantly blessed. Is that fair? And I am brought back to an embarrassment of riches.
The day Syd emerged is emblazoned on my conscious mind forever. The detail with which I recall that day is startling. The level of intimacy I experienced that glorious Saturday is more than many will know in a lifetime. If Syd had lived only through that one day, I would have treasured that one day forever. Yet, I have been granted 1,787 additional days of watching over and caring for this life. What's more, I got another one! Another tiny little female person to care for. Another one... just as good! J.J. has been mine to safeguard for 732 days thus far. She's an entirely different being than her sister; stalwart where Syd is yielding; reckless where Syd is heedful; tomboyish where Syd is quite the girly-girl. But both of them... both of them make me dizzy with ebullience. Both of them can draw joyful tears from my eyes any moment of any day. And so it feels like... too much. Sometimes, i can't get close enough to them; I can't squeeze them tight enough; I feel as if I am capable of devouring them.
The awareness of how richly blessed I have been, is the key to engaging my children through love rather than fear. Considering what I have already been granted, how dare I question how long I get to keep them? It becomes a bit of a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately' relationship with God. When I remain rooted in gratitude, it becomes clear that I am already playing with the house money.
They are my greatest teachers. They educate me. I study their wisdom and I am right-sized. They teach me what it truly means to be color-blind. They show me how to honor my needs and stand in my truth. They instruct me on living in the moment and reveling in the simple things. And, most of all, they make me strive to be better- in their eyes I see the very best me I could hope to be. I suppose I could never hope to be what they believe me to be; and I suppose they will find that out soon enough. For now, though, this pedestal feels awfully comfortable.
Monday, April 28, 2008
A terrifying illusion is at play in my life. I know it to be a lie and yet it persists. It tortures me and mocks me and gives little space to breathe. My brain screams to turn away and yet my heart cannot hear. The illusion (all is not well), has long been in hibernation. The falsehood kept at bay as consciousness and awareness have flowered. And yet I can hear it (all is not well); it booms and swells with unheard of tenacity drowning out the truth slowly slipping through my fingers. I am scared. Irrational fear to be sure; yet fear nonetheless. Fear that the lie (all is not well) is stronger than God. Fear that the lie IS God. Fear that the lie is becoming the truth. And companioning with the fear; a new friend... depression. An unfamiliar place. A perplexing apathy. A confusing desire to retreat, to hide; to enshroud myself within blankets and darkness. The sun becomes my nemesis; my closest confidant a dreary day. I am spiritually adrift.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
A project which I have often undertaken with new clients, toward the beginning of our work together, is what I call "The Castle Test." I will provide them with a blank piece of paper and a writing implement and simply request that they take a few moments and draw for me a castle. I ask them to concentrate not so much on making the drawing proficient, but to turn their attention to the details of said castle. I ask them to think of different castles they might have seen (history books, movies, etc.) and think of what commonalities most castles seem to possess. Once they have completed their drawing, I observe with them what details they keyed in on. The finished projects almost always have windows, a doorway, a watch tower, flags, long stairways; some even include guards and weaponry. Although there is one component that you'd find surrounding virtually any castle that they almost always seem to forget: a moat. This is a consistent exclusion which I find quite fascinating. For, what is the purpose of a moat? It provides protection. Thus, this individual who has entered my office, in large part, because they do not feel safe in the world, draws their castle chock full of elements both practical and ornate; but fails to include a device to provide safety. Let us again imagine a castle. In addition to a moat, your average castle also tends to have an enormous wooden door which raises and lowers with the aid of two thick chains attached to its right and left side. When the door lowers, it covers the expanse of water and provides passageway from the large pasture into the castle proper. In times of peace, that doorway can remain down at all times. Though, when danger is approaching, that door will be summarily raised to prevent an attack. The castle (and those who dwell there) have created a boundary. Now, what we have in this example is a physical boundary. Clearly, moats are no longer commonplace in the modern world. This does not mean that physical boundaries are not just as pertinent. Physical boundaries are critical in every walk of life. Think of it. What would happen to a business with no front door to lock after hours? What would happen to a house with no roof? What would happen to a person with no shoes or clothes? We have these items to protect us both from mother nature and those who might wish to cause us harm. Most people understand the need for these physical boundaries and are quite clear on the potential consequences of not having them. On the other hand, It amazes me how few people understand the dangers of having weak emotional boundaries. They know that they do not feel safe in their lives, but haven't a clue that their lack of boundaries are right at the heart of their challenges. What is an emotional boundary? An emotional boundary is: healthy emotional distance maintained between you and another so that you do not become overly enmeshed and/or dependent. An emotional boundary is: emotional space you need in order to be the real you without the pressure from others to be something that you are not. An emotional boundary is: a limit or line over which you will not allow anyone to cross because of the negative impact of its being crossed in the past. Do we know what is safe for us? Do we know when someone has crossed over into speaking or dealing with us in a manner that feels inappropriate? Do we have the fearlessness to stand up for our truth? Do we know how to do so in a manner which is clear and effective? An acronym I created a few years ago that has proven quite useful in terms of helping people build and maintain healthy emotional boundaries is H.A.R.M. I chose the word itself mainly because I have found few ways in this world to avoid being harmed than having strong boundaries (also it fit the words I wanted to use). H.A.R.M. stands for Honor, Ask, Reveal, Maintain. In short, we Honor our feelings, Ask to be heard, Reveal what needs to be shared, and then Maintain the boundary we have set. In terms of breaking this process down to its particulars, the first thing we need to remember is that most people want to go right to the reveal. That is to say, most people will have something on their mind that they want to share, and walk right up to a person and start talking. This is a monumentally aggressive action which is rarely effective and often ends in uncomfortability, if not volatility. The problem is that we have probably failed to ask some rather critical questions. Do we know what we need to say and how we want to say it? Do we understand what our part is in the issue at hand? Do we know whether this person is available for a conversation? It is my contention that most conversations that lapse into arguments are a product of poor planning. So, how do we plan for a boundaries conversation? First, a hypothetical situation that we can use as a framework. Let's take a married couple; we will call them Tom and Michelle. The situation at hand revolves around the fact that Tom constantly goes out carousing with his buddies leaving Michelle home alone with their children. Michelle is resentful of this but has failed to express her displeasure to Tom. Michelle wants to set a boundary by having a conversation with Tom about the ways in which her needs as a wife are not being met. Hearkening back to our HARM acronym, Michelle first needs to honor what is happening for her. To complete the "Honor" portion of the model, Michelle will now ask herself four pertinent questions. Question 1: What are my feelings? Michelle sits down with a piece of paper and begins to list the feelings she is experiencing. Michelle comes up with the following list: 1. rejected 2. abandoned 3. scared 4. helpless 5. hostile 6. tired 7. insecure 8. taken advantage of. Michelle now has some powerful language to help get her point across clearly. Question 2: What is my side of the street? Michelle is now asking herself how she has participated in the issue. As they say, it takes two to tango. Michelle is not an innocent bystander to this skirmish; she is, in some way, participating. She now sees that she has been withholding by failing to express her feelings earlier. She also sees that she has not taken steps to ask for some getaway time for herself. Question 3: What is it I need to share? Now that Michelle understands her feelings and has a sense of her part, she can pen a rough script denoting what she wants to tell Tom. She comes up with the following: Tom, I have recently found myself struggling mightily with some issues in our marriage. I am well aware that the magnitude of my current resentment is, in large part, a result of my own inaction. I have not found the courage to tell you what I have been troubled by and, therefore, there is no way that you could have known what was happening for me. The core of the issue is the frequency with which you go out in the evenings for leisure time, leaving me at home alone with the children. In addition to being very tired, I feel like you are taking advantage of me. Your nightly excursions leave me feeling abandoned and rejected; like you'd rather go cavort with the guys than spend time alone with your wife. I am aware this is not necessarily true, but I struggle with it nonetheless. It scares me that without more quality time together, our marriage might be end up in jeopardy. I can also see that it is difficult for me to ask for what I need, and therefore much of this feeling of rejection stems from my own insecurities. I love you Tom, and I hope that you can hear me and be available for some level of compromise. Now that Michelle has a sense of what she wants to tell Tom, she has one last question to answer in order to complete the process of honoring her situation. Question 4: What is it I need to ask for? Now that Michelle is clear about what she needs to tell Tom, she needs to remember that it is not Tom's job to decipher how to repair the problem which Michelle has laid out. Michelle asks herself what requests she wants to make of Tom. She comes up with the following: Tom, including bowling night, poker night, dollar beer night at The Moonlight Pub and Monday Night Football- you are generally with your friends four nights a week. I understand that bowling night is a league and you have a commitment to meet. I further understand that the football season is half over and those games are important to you. What I am asking is that you give up your bar night and limit poker night to once a month. Therefore, you would have two nights a week to go out and be social- and once a month you'd have three. As for the two newly opened nights, I would like to request that one night be for me. I have wanted to join my girlfriends in their book club, and that is a weekly commitment. The other night could then become a family night where we could play a board game with the kids or rent a movie. I am asking that this commitment be put into action immediately and last until the end of the football season, at which point we can reassess. Also, these commitments don't have to be carved in stone. If you have a concert that you want to see or a friend has tickets to a game, I am certainly willing to be amenable to a dialogue regarding a schedule change. Michelle has now honored her situation by getting clear about her feelings, denoting her part in the situation and planning a basic framework both for what she needs say and what she needs to ask for. Is she ready to address Tom? Yes. Is she ready to begin the conversation? No. The second piece of the HARM model, the Asking, is often missed by people, and is so integral in terms of not making a person feel ambushed. Michelle is now going to ask Tom three specific questions to establish that he is in a place to receive her. Question 1: Can you afford me some of your time? So rather than just beginning to speak to Tom, she is going to ask Tom if he has some time to speak. If Tom says no, she is going to accept that and ask when a better time might be. The point here is both to keep Tom from feeling sabotaged and to ensure that there will be little chance for interruption. Once Tom affords time for the conversation, Michelle will ask Question 2: Are you emotionally available for this particular conversation? Remember, just because Tom has made himself physically available does not necessarily mean that he is emotionally available. By asking the question, Michelle can avoid beginning and having Tom say something like, "You didn't tell me this was about something important. I have tons of pressure at work right now, and I am really not in a headspace to talk about this." Then, Michelle would have made herself vulnerable only to be precipitously shut down. This is easily avoided winply by asking the question. Assuming Tom has made himself both physically and emotionally available for this conversation, Michelle will ask one final question before beginning. Question 3: Might I have an uninterrupted forum? Perhaps the way Michelle will frame this question would look like this: Tom, before I begin, I would like to ask for something. This subject is rather emotionally charged for me and I really want to be able to explain to you where I am at, without losing myself in emotion. That will be far easier if I can say these things without interruption. So, if you would be willing to give me an uninterrupted forum, I assure you that after I have concluded, I will afford you the same. Assuming that Tom has answered yes to the three 'Ask' questions (and if he does not, Michelle should feel free to wait to have this conversation), think of how far down the chances of an argument have gone as compared to Michelle just storming into the kitchen and randomly saying, "Tom, I need to talk to you." Michelle is now ready to 'Reveal' to Tom what she planned for in the 'Honor' stage. There are now three more questions Michelle is going to bear in mind as she speaks with Tom. Question 1: Am I concentrating on feelings rather than thoughts? In conversations carrying more weight than just random chit-chat, it is almost always more effective to concentrate on what we feel rather than what what we think. Again, this is an excellent way to avoid argument. For example, if Michelle were to say, "I think that you are selfish," Tom could very well respond, "No, I'm not." On the other hand, if Michelle were to say, "your going out all the time makes me feel sad," Tom really cannot say "No, it doesn't." It is pretty challenging to argue feelings; and, henceforth, we will be more effective in getting our point across speaking from our hearts rather than our minds. Question 2: Do I know that honesty without love is cruelty? I have often seen someone say something hurtful to someone else, and when the person receiving the insult gets hurt, the insulter says, "Hey, I'm just being honest." No, you're being cruel. Anything can be said with love. Anything can be said without blame. This does not guarantee that the person we are speaking with will like what we have to say; but we will know that our side of the street is clean. Question 3: Is the success of this venture predicated on the response? Basically, if Michelle has come to the conclusion that the only way that this exercise will serve a purpose, is if Tom responds positively, than Michelle has lost before she has begun. Speaking our truth is about honoring ourselves. That is always a spiritually sound thing to do. As for the other persons response; it is none of our business, as we have zero control over the actions and responses of others. Finally, we come to the question of how we maintenance a boundary. Let us assume that Tom responded beautifully to what Michelle shared with him, and accepted her proposal without reservation. This is all well and good, although it certainly does not necessarily mean that Tom will make good on his promises. Therefore, we must be willing to 'Maintain' any boundary that we set. Once again, three questions for Michelle's consideration. Question 1: Do I have an expectation of what will happen? I have heard it said that our serenity level is inversely proportional to our expectations. Consequently the goal for Michelle ought to be 'expect nothing; prepare for anything.'" Which leads us to Question 2: Is there any room for this boundary to be violated? It is a simple yes or no question. If there is no room for this boundary to be violated, than this means that if Tom violates the agreement, the marriage is over. If there is room for this boundary to be violated, than question three comes into play. Question 3: What are we willing to do to defend this boundary? If Michelle knows that the consequence of Tom violating the boundary is not going to be divorce; than it is imperative that she knows what the consequence will be. Is it another conversation? Is it a demand for counseling? Is it a trial separation? This, of course, is up to the individual; but without knowing the answer to this question, one risks having their boundary violated without there being a consequence; in which case, they would have been better off never having set the boundary in the first place. And so, our theoretical heroine has laid down a boundary. Will it save her marriage? Not necessarily. Will it improve her marriage? Not necessarily. Will it improve her life? I would contend yes. Will it create more safety and serenity in her life? I would contend absolutely. The main question for any of us in manifesting the courage to honor our truth is: what do you value most? Is it companionship? Is it friendship? Is it popularity? Or is it happiness? Sometimes you can have them all. Sometimes you cannot. What is least expendable? For me, the answer is simple.
God bless you,
Friday, September 14, 2007
CONFESSIONS OF A VIDEO STORE PROPRIETOR
People love to rent crap. They really do. It’s undeniable. They are friggin’ junkies for the stuff. I showcase anything replete with an insipid script, hokey acting, and a trite storyline, and it’s snatched up quicker than a box of zeppoles left outside Alec Baldwin’s dressing room.
They stroll in, day after day, one after another, looking for the crap; they wander the store furiously seeking out the crap; they victoriously locate the crap; and they approach the counter pleading with me to relieve them of some of their hard earned cash, that they may retreat to their dwellings, and piss away an hour and forty minutes of their lives basking in the crap. It’s a curious phenomenon to say the least.
Now, by no means am I suggesting that everyone should altogether cease renting the crap. Heaven forbid, no. After all, crap accounts for about seventy-five percent of my inventory (unavoidable, considering that it accounts for seventy-five percent of films produced in this country). By all means, I need the crap. I need the unoriginal hacks to scrawl the crap. I need the fat cat studio heads to finance the crap. I need the untalented cash cows to receive 25 million to perform the crap. And I need the uninformed masses (at least those who reside on the Upper East Side) to seek out the crap. These “crap-cravers,” as they will, heretofore, be referred to, are a fascinating and varied lot.
Now, as far as I can decipher, there are two distinct brands of crap-cravers. The lion’s share of them, fall into a group I refer to as “the lost cause crap-cravers.” These are the folks that are fully aware of the existence of Fassbinder, Cassavetes, and The Coen Brothers, and have even tested the waters of their work, but maintain an overwhelming preference for crap. These folks are not the target of this diatribe. There’s not a whole lot I can do for them. And, after all, they are my bread and butter. People with absolutely no taste are essential to a thriving video store. And so to the lost cause tribe of crap-cravers, I say, “by all means, my friends….please, come on in, rent Domestic Disturbance, and Dragonfly, and Deuces Wild; go home, and have yourselves a big crap-tacular crap-fest!”
At the other end of the crap craving spectrum, we find an entirely different breed of renter. Herein, we find what I call “the sheltered crap-craver.” Unlike the lost causes, these individuals have simply been fed a bill of goods that they have been cottoning to for far too long. At some point in their lives, someone did them the disservice of suggesting that the films of Don Johnson held some sort of cinematic weight. Consequently, these poor bastards cross the threshold desperately searching for a Kubrick-ian experience, and unknowingly walk out thinking that they have found it in a Michael Mann film. Sad, yes. But, by no means incurable. They draw my interest because I know, in my heart, that I can help them.
This is not to say that I haven’t made an attempt. I most certainly have. Day in and day out, I strive to lead them away from the dark side of manipulative, pandering poppycock, into the enlightened world of edgy, non-linear, integrity-laden brilliance. But try as I might, they persist. I offer up Minnie & Moskowitz, but they want Kate& Leopold. I strongly suggest Ghost Dog, but they adamantly insist on Snow Dogs. I push them toward King of New York, but they retreat to Sidewalks of New York. I beg them to try The Seven Samurai or The 39 Steps or The 400 blows or 8 ½ or The Ninth Configuration; but they inevitably go home with The 6th day and 3000 Miles to Graceland and 40 days and 40 nights and 28 days, and The Ninth Gate. And to complete the lunacy they stand, utterly lost, in the new release section, and proclaim, “There is nothing good to rent…….I’ve seen everything!!!!”
Which brings me back to my original hypothesis that what we are dealing with here has less to do with the mind-numbingly insipid, than it has to do with the pitifully uneducated. That is not to say that many of these folks are not awash in their own vapidity (for example, the people who rent
THE SIXTEEN DEFINITIVE SIGNS THAT YOU
1. If what you are renting is based on a Saturday Night Live sketch……….YOU
2. If what you are renting stars Keanu Reeves, but is not The Matrix……….YOU
3. If what you are renting centers around a self-consumed individual who, through an extended interaction with a mentally handicapped person, finds a new sense of humanity and is miraculously transformed by the experience……….YOU
4. If what you are renting has Andie Macdowell, Daryl Hannah, or Penelope Ann Miller credited in any way (even as a key grip)……….YOU
5. If what you are renting is a movie whose preview opened with the line, “In a world without rules….”……….YOU
6. If what you are renting stars John Travolta, but he is not dancing or shooting heroin ……….YOU
7. If what you are renting was touted by Jeffrey Lyons as a “slam-bang action thriller”……….YOU
8. If what you are renting has a cast made up of the stars of Dawson’s Creek, 7th Heaven, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer……….YOU
9. If what you are renting is a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan, and it’s not When Harry Met Sally……….YOU
10. If what you are renting is the remake, retelling, sequel, or prequel to anything other than The Godfather ……….YOU
11. If what you are renting has a protagonist on the run from an unnamed government agency, while everyone he trusts systematically turns out to be part of a massive evil conspiracy……….YOU
12. If what you are renting has a title track sung by Celine Dion, Phil Collins, or Sting……….YOU
13. If what you are renting is a bio-pic that chooses to turn an acknowledged scumbag into a martyr, under the guise that the general public is just too stupid to empathize with a flawed individual……….YOU
14. If what you are renting stars a musician or pop singer of any kind, other than Bjork in Dancer in the Dark or Tom Waits in anything……….YOU
15. If what you are renting is a coming-of-age story, where a young man from a broken home, searching for meaning in the cruel world, is taken under the wing of a mysterious stranger and led to a deeper understanding of his place in this world……….YOU
16. If what you are renting is a Kevin Costner movie, you are not only renting crap……….YOU
If this list has left you feeling frustrated and desperately wanting to scream, “in the name of all that is holy, what the hell am I supposed to rent, then?!?!?!?!?!?” Fear not, my cinematic simpletons. The following is a list of twenty films from the last ten years that you have almost undoubtedly let slip under you radar (especially if your radar is finely tuned to scout out whatever excrement Ben Affleck will shortly be dumping into your local multiplex). So write them down, create a mental clearing for change, tromp down to your local video store, and STOP THE CRAP!!
- Twin Falls, Idaho (1999) Directed by The Polish Brothers
- Rubin and Ed (1992) Directed by Trent Harris
- Buffalo 66 (1998) Directed by Vincent Gallo
- Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995) Directed by Henry Jaglom
- The Straight Story (1999) Directed by David Lynch
- Funny Games (1998) Directed by Michael Haneke
- A Brother’s Kiss (1997) Directed by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld
- Fall (1996) Directed by Eric Schaeffer
- Amateur (1994) Directed by Hal Hartley
- Clean, Shaven (1993) Directed by Lodge Kerrigan
- Hands on a Hard Body (1997) Directed by S.R. Bindler
- …And God Spoke (1993) Directed by Arthur Borman
- Chuck and Buck (2000) Directed by Miguel Arteta
- Dead Man (1996) Directed by Jim Jarmusch
- Cube (1998) Directed by Vincenzo Natali
- The Kingdom Parts 1 & 2 (1994) Directed by Lars Von Trier
- American Movie (1997) Directed by Chris Smith
- Broken Vessels (1998) Directed by Scott Ziehl
- The Celebration (1998) Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
- Safe Men (1999) Directed by John Hamburg
So there you are, my friends. Michael Mark- warts and all. I constantly attempt to help people to see that a spiritual life is not a life devoid of errors and character liabilities. Spirituality is not about never making mistakes; it's about how you handle your mistakes. It's about being able to examine the areas of your life where your natural instincts are out of proportion and work toward fine-tuning them through spiritual practice. Let us all work toward finding commonality with our fellows. Let us all work toward releasing judgment. Let us all attempt to find our way to being a person among people and a worker among workers. Let us all make sure to see the twenty films listed above... just kidding.
God bless you,
Thursday, September 13, 2007
God bless you,
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
God bless you,
Saturday, September 8, 2007
God bless you,
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
God bless you,
Monday, September 3, 2007
God bless you,
Sunday, September 2, 2007
|1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.|
im·pend·ing /ɪmˈpɛndɪŋ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[im-pen-ding] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –adjective
Fear fascinates me. I suppose because it is so mysterious... so prevalent... so seemingly real. Oh, I suppose it doesn't so much fascinate me when I am in it... although, even when I am experiencing fear, sometimes, I can step out of my present circumstances and watch myself being scared. In those moments I think, "Huh! Look at me reacting so strongly to something that is not real." Because it's not... it's not real. Fear is an illusion... a mirage. The dictionary tell us that fear is distress caused by IMPENDING danger... further, impending means ABOUT to happen. Therefore fear is never actually happening. It is always something that we perceive is ABOUT to happen. And, as we know, often times, things that are about to happen... never happen. Even the definition above uses the examples of a marriage and a storm. Interesting. How many marriages do you know of that were ABOUT to happen... but never happened? How many times have you put on your raincoat and galoshes due to the weatherman's forecast of a storm... which never happens? Let's take these examples a bit further. Hypothetically, we are scared of a storm... that is something that MIGHT happen. Then the storm happens... we are now scared of skidding off the road in our car... something that MIGHT happen. Then we skid off the road and hit a tree... we are scared that we cannot afford to fix the car... something that MIGHT happen. We notice we are bleeding and are scared that we might have a concussion and what that might mean... something that MIGHT happen. So if we are always living in the moment and never in the future... where is the fear? It does not exist. Fear does not exist in the present. There are exactly two things human beings are scared of: 1. Losing what they have 2. Not getting what they want. Neither of those ever occur in the present moment. To boil it down to it's most basic component, fear is lack of faith. The degree to which we open to faith is the degree to which fear dissipates in our lives... and vice versa. Does that mean that we can become so spiritually connected that fear leaves us entirely? Certainly not. That would be neither possible nor prudent. We need fear. It is God given and therefore integral to our existence. Without fear... if a lion were chasing you, you'd just stand there and be eaten. Fear serves us. So the problem is never fear. The problem is the level to which fear controls our actions. When we begin making fear-based decisions, our natural God-given instinct has grown out of proportion and must be adjusted. The adjustment comes through spiritual practice. Prayer and meditation, service, a nightly behavior review, reading, writing, etc. allow us to tap into the power which tell us that the moment is all there really is. The future is not real. There is no future. A mentor of mine once asked me, "Michael, can you wake up tomorrow; is it possible?" I responded, "Of course." He answered, "No you cannot... because when you wake up tomorrow it will be..." I smiled. "Today," I understood. There is no tomorrow. It is always today. There is no future. There is only the present. And if there is no tomorrow... if there is no future... than there is no fear. Remember that when you project into the future, the reason that it is often ominous, is because you are projecting into a Godless universe. There is no God in the future because the future isn't real. God IS real, so GOD exists only in that which is real... the present. Your view of the future does not involve God and so it is frightening. But when you get to that vision of the future, it will be the present and God will be with you... and the fear will be nowhere to be found. Stay here, my friends. It is presently Sunday, September 2nd 2007 at 9:31. This will only happen once. Not just in your lifetime or mine, but in the whole of human history. Never before in the history of mankind has it been Sunday, September 2nd 2007 at 9:31; and it never will be again. Each moment is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Embrace this truth and watch the fear cease to be.
God bless you,