Show of hands, who has made it through their lives without making any mistakes?  Yeah, that’s about what I thought.

We humans are flawed creatures.  The best we can hope for is to minimize our mistakes, keep the damage to a minimum and hopefully be able to correct the damage, unless we are so narcissistic or sociopathic to believe that we are blameless and it’s always ‘someone else’s problem’.

I’m currently dealing with one of those situations which we euphemistically describe as our “chickens have come home to roost”.  After forty years, that’s a lot of chickens.  Those things breed like…chickens.  No, I won’t share the details, as that isn’t the point of this posting.   Suffice to say, if all goes well, it will be a good thing.  If it doesn’t, then nothing really changes, too much at least.  It’s been the single biggest regret in my life, and while I wish I could have made different choices at the time, I still stand by the choices I made then.  It really was an impossible choice, given the circumstances at the time.  My regrets are more along the lines of the effects it has had on the people involved.  That is what I hope to correct, forty years down the road.   I knew that this would surface at some point again, and it seems to have done so, at probably the most appropriate point it could have.  I guess only time will tell, and perhaps the lesson from all of this is…patience.  The long term type of patience.  The exact type I’ve never been very good at.  Ta-daaaahhh!

If life weren’t so dam comical I’d forget to laugh now and then.

Fortunately, I’ve had some excellent guidance through this episode though which I have been remarkably unobjective.  I will not mention his name because I didn’t ask permission of him and I don’t wish to embarrass him in any case.  But you know who you are and I’m not sure if I could have navigated this particular mine field without your assistance and guidance.  Thank you.

I have no idea where this thing will end up, but I have reason to believe, by the way things have unfolded of late, that it won’t be a total disaster.  At least not yet.  There is of course, still a chance that I will step on my…um, make a misstep but I hope not.  We’re all working without a map and without a net so it’s a little scary.  But I remain hopeful.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to write about it all later.

What’s my point?  Don’t be afraid of the past.  We’ve all done things we’re not proud of.  There’s always time to at least try to make things right again.  So try.  You never know what you can gain from it.  Oh yes, one more person to thank, and you know who you are.  Thank you for coming out of the past to reach out to me and make this all happen.  I hope we can make the best of this, and it’s nice to know that we’re on the same page.


12 Four Hands, One Heart

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything here.  I see by my last post, that this will be somewhat of a variation on a theme, which wasn’t my intent.  Call it an update on my life after a year or a bit more of trying to put this into practice in my life.

As I look back on the past year+ since I did post, it has been miraculous, to put a name on it.  While I am certainly not a perfect paragon of gratitude, it’s the first thing I’ve committed to doing consistently in some time.  The results have been rather astounding.

First of all, the one thing I’ve noticed about it, is that it becomes like a cascade reaction…one thing leading into several others.  For an example, finding inspiration through the actions and attitudes of others in ways you might not expect.  I have a friend who is dying of cancer, which would make one would think I should be sad about it.  I am.  On the other hand, I am finding inspiration from his positive attitude, despite what he is facing.  I won’t even attempt to speak for him here, but it seems that he has found his own reasons for being grateful, certainly due to his point of view as his life, at least as he knows it, about to be over.  While I hate the fact that I may never see him in this world again, I’m certainly happy for his transformation, and his spirit, which will never die. Though as we’ve said already to each other, this isn’t goodbye, just ‘see you later’.

I’ve tried putting myself in his situation, and asked myself if I could still be able to express gratitude.  I suppose it’s kind of an intellectual exercise, because I’m not in that situation.  I want to be able to say yes, I could.  I probably won’t know, at least for some time whether I can answer that question in the affirmative.  On the other hand, I can take comfort in the fact that he is going out as the warrior he has always been, and Valhalla will be better for it.

On the opposite extreme… well I’ve been single for a very long time.  By choice really, as I won’t be with someone just to have someone in my life.  This is how divorce happens.  I can tell you a bit about that, as I have earned that particular T-shirt in life.  That is, as they say, a closed chapter in my life.  The old adage, ‘when you stop looking is when you find The One’ has probably never been so true as it has become recently for me.  Honestly, I was quite content with my single person status.  My life is pretty amazing, with a great job, lots of free time and many amazing friends who are all very important to me.  The funny thing about gratitude, is that it leaves room in your life for better things to come your way.  About the time I was thinking to myself…”Self, you really have a pretty good life don’t you?”, the Universe of course, just laughs because it has other plans.   The thing is, they manifest more quickly if you leave room for them.  Gratitude does that.

Well, along comes…someone, who shall remain nameless on this blog, but those of you who know me, know who that is already.  What I haven’t said about him, is how much he complements me (no, not compliment, though he does that too), how much of like mind he and I are, and how different we also are that makes it more interesting.  Not even sure if I can put the rest into words that won’t drive  you all into a frenzy of searching for insulin and a toothbrush to avoid cavities… so I won’t try.  I knew the second I laid eyes on him (which was some time after we talked forever about everything) that I Knew.  He’ll be reading this at some point, so all I will say is that I love you very much.

So much for my old life. Things are changing, and I couldn’t be happier.  I was sort of afraid that I wouldn’t be suitable for anyone after being single for so long.  Well, I left that particular gap in my life unfilled, and yet by remaining grateful for what I did have, the Universe decided that wasn’t good enough.  I’m embracing the changes, and looking forward to what is to come.  He’s just amazing and for that I am eternally grateful for whatever powers brought us together.  We should all be so fortunate.

I need to give credit to Steve Walker, an artist unknown to me, for the picture in this blog post, the title of which is Four Hands, One Heart.  Wherever you are Steve, thank you for putting what I am feeling into this image.


Everything happens for a reason…

“Time passes in moments.  Moments, which rushing past, define the path of a life, just as surely as they lead towards its end.  How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen.  To consider whether the path we take in life is our own making, or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed?   But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes?  Might we see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life?  And seeing those choices…choose another path.” – Dana Scully… (All Things, X-Files, Season 7)

I’ll admit it, I’m an X-Files fan.  Not strictly because it’s kind of an entertaining monologue about aliens, and government conspiracies (honestly, the gov’t is too inept to be that clever, individual people on the other hand…) and monsters and paranormal stuff.

Once in a while though, the show got kind of introspective and philosophical.  This particular episode is near the end of the 7th season, and one of the main characters (Dana Scully, an FBI agent) is having a moment of frustration with her relentlessly curious partner.  One thing leads to another, and she finds herself confronted with an episode from her past that she’d long ago buried.  A rather painful episode, a mistake, if you will.  Or was it?  She begins a rather introspective look at the events that led up to that episode in her life, the consequences of it, and the choices she’s made since then, and where they have led her.  It culminates in a rather intense spiritual experience (all the more remarkable since she is a very ‘skeptical about such things’ scientist) that leads to a reconciliation, redemption, and letting go of pain that was, unbeknownst to her until that moment, weighing her down.

This particular episode has become a favorite of mine, the writing was quite good, and some great imagery and background music sort of just flowed with the story and made it all come together, at least in my fevered brain.

I think the writers must have been reading some of the teachings of Buddha, where he discusses the nature of Suffering, and how we must act and think to divest ourselves of it.  Or they were smoking some really good weed.

Seriously though, I can’t overemphasize the value in letting go of ‘things’, or our attachment to things.  Whether that thing is an actual thing, a concept, a person, a location, a job, paradigms, or a favorite pair of jeans that lets in more daylight than is legally allowed.

So many friends and acquaintances of mine are going through some really difficult challenges lately, it seems.  We all do from time to time.  A point brought out in the show, was that when an event comes to us, of major proportions, it may be a sign to slow down and think things through.  Why is this happening?  What is the lesson here for me, or even for all parties involved?

You see, I believe with all my heart and mind, as the title of this blog suggests, that everything happens for a reason.  We may not always see that reason, and maybe can’t see it until much later.  If ever.

We all, each of us, so easily get stuck in ruts of behavior from doing the same thing all the time and expecting different results.  Or perhaps we don’t perceive that what we are doing is repetitive and not moving us forward?

I spent many years living in a denial of my self, or shall I say, of my true nature.  Those of you who know me may think you know what I am referring to, but no, it goes beyond that too.  Living that particular lie about myself was merely the cover of the pressure cooker that was my life.  We all know what happens (or we imagine we do!) if we suddenly remove the lid from a pressure cooker.  Well, I did that, and although it was a relief, a lot of things boiled over as well.  A lot of things best let go of.  It happened eventually.  But when one is faced with having to rebuild and reinvent oneself, it’s a bit daunting.

Circumstances often either lead us…or force us, into changing something about ourselves.  Personally, I prefer the former over the latter.  Having a sublime Dana Scully moment is much preferable to having our pretenses stripped away by force.  It’s somewhat akin to those dreams we have where we are walking around naked.  But maybe that’s what those dreams are actually about?  You know the ones, where no one seems to notice that we are buck ass naked but us, but maybe it’s really because we’re afraid that people will see that which we are trying to hide in our waking lives?  I can tell you that once you embrace (or perhaps better said…to accept those things), and learn to not be ashamed of them, it’s very liberating.

Some of you who know me, may also remember a period of time where, shall we say, I was not at my best.  That pressure cooker analogy again.  The heat was building and the pressure was rising.  My inner conflicts became my outer jackass.  Yes, at one time I lived in a state of shame and embarrassment over these things.   My volatility was no fun to be around.  Ask me I know, because I also had to live with it.

Well, this wasn’t meant to be a confessional, or an apology even.  But for those of you I was a jackass to, I really do sincerely apologize.

You see, the process of letting go, of forgiveness, including yourself, is just that, a process.  One that is definitely worth undertaking.  I never said it was going to be easy either.

Which leads me really, to where I think I was going with all of this.  Gratitude.  A friend was telling me about this many years ago, and though I wasn’t really prepared then to accept what she was saying, I never forgot it.  Gratitude: a feeling of appreciation or thanks. (Merriam-Webster).

Whether you are a spiritual person, or not, being grateful, expressing gratitude, seems to leave a void in our lives which then seems to get filled with…for lack of a better word, good stuff.  Through no effort of my own, one day I found myself in this state of feeling…grateful, to no one in particular or to a beneficent Universe, for so many cool things in my life.  For a long time, I’d cut myself off from this, awareness shall we say?  Constantly struggling to do better, seemingly getting nowhere.   For whatever reason, things changed when I found myself in this state of mind.

The ‘good stuff’ just sort of keeps happening.  For which I am of course, even more grateful.  I encourage you to try this.  I personally feel that too many of us are incredibly spoiled individuals.  We complain about a myriad of things that have no real importance.   We live in a miraculous age!  We carry internet devices in our pockets, we fly through the air in modern machines with no more thought than putting on a jacket.  We have an abundance of basic needs filled FOR US by people we think of as invisible every day.  We should be grateful to them as well!

Thanks for reading.  I’m actually grateful if you do that.  Try to practice this in your life.  After all, what could it hurt?

One small step

Everyone and their brother will be blogging on this story, but so will I, because this one will be mine.

This is one of my favorite photos of the days of Apollo, which I was privileged to witness first hand, as many of us did, in the comfort of our living rooms, on television.  Neil was known as a ‘cool customer’.  The archetypal test pilot, unflappable and ready for anything.  He is clearly just a bit emotional here, his wet eyes showing in the photo after his historic first moon walk with fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin  (I admit it, mine are a bit too as I write this).  I’ll probably never forget those fuzzy TV images that people around the globe were riveted to on that day.  Not to mention those words.  Who can possibly forget those words?

All the NASA astronauts are quick to give credit to the thousands and thousands of people who work to get them up in space.  Speaks loudly to their character of course.  Getting a spacecraft up there is a massive effort in teamwork which draws from a wealth of intellectual resources unparalleled in our history.  Putting a human up there just adds to the drama of the whole effort.  If anyone of you has ever been to Cape Canaveral or the Houston Space Center, and seen the actual hardware that these guys flew to the moon in, you would also have to acknowledge the brass b***s of these guys.  That vehicle that Mr. Armstrong is sitting in wearing that prize winning smile has an outer skin that could be punctured with a finger.  Yes, a finger.  Or a screwdriver, or a micrometeorite.  That same type of space vehicle became a lifeboat for Jim Lovell, Bill Anders, and Jack Swigert when their slightly more substantial CSM had a major explosion.  We’re talking 1960’s engineering here.  To the moon.  And back.  9 times.

Why we stopped doing this is beyond me.  The obvious answer is politics of course.  Much of the technology that we enjoy and debate about is spillover from those days of lunar exploration.  Without getting political about it, I am appalled at the gutting of our space program.  It’s been pointed out that it cost something like $6B to land Curiosity on Mars, and the Olympics cost $16B to produce.  While I think both are worthy endeavors, you can’t help but notice the bang for the buck we get in space, not to mention the increase in our knowledge of the universe and our place in it.  Can we really put a price on that?

Even though Neil would not want me or anyone else to keep making such a fuss over him (he was not comfortable with all the attention on him), I have to say thanks Neil, and Buzz, and all the rest of you astronauts, and the technicians and engineers and medical folks, the flight controllers…everyone who raised our sight that day, and many other days, above the petty, the mundane and the ordinary that we all seem to get caught up in.  Thanks for reminding us that we humans aren’t so bad after all, and though we are capable of horrors, we are also capable of greatness.

UPDATE:  Thanks to +Johnathan Chung via +Samantha Cristiforetti on Google+, this is a link to a very rare series of interviews from Australian TV with Neil Armstrong.  Enjoy!