Friday, February 28, 2014

Send In The Clowns


Isn't it rich? Are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air
Where are the clowns?

Isn't it bliss? Don't you approve?
One who keeps tearing around, one who can't move
Where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns

Just when I'd stopped opening doors
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours
Making my entrance again with my usual flair
Sure of my lines, no one is there

Don't you love farce? My fault, I fear
I thought that you'd want what I want, sorry, my dear
But where are the clowns, send in the clowns
Don't bother, they're here

Isn't it rich? Isn't it queer?
Losing my timing this late in my career
But where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns
Well, maybe next year

- Stephen Sondheim

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Commandments of God and The Reality of Work II

So my meditations yesterday morning did little to improve the day for me.

I showed up with a sincere attitude of wanting to try to be better.  More productive.  Have a better attitude.  What I got when I arrived was a reminder of the fact that I am a small cog in a larger machine.  My roles, as I interpreted them, were answering of questions, reviewer of documents that will never see the light of day, and theoretical holder of opinions that are assumed.

It is hard to keep your spirits up in the face of such seeming irrelevance.

And yet there are the commands I listed yesterday:  do not be man-pleasers or work for eye-service but do work willingly and heartily; be submissive; be well pleasing; show good fidelity; adorn the doctrine of God.

And so I tried to carry on.  I tried to be cheerful and diligent as I reviewed page after page.  I tried to work hard all day.  I tried to keep an even keel when problems came to my attention.

And I left feeling utterly useless and forlorn.

Why?  Because the reality is that even though I tried (or thought I tried) to adapt a better attitude the reality is that the work did not change at all.  My place within the work did not change at all.  And my interpretation by those around me did not change at all. 

Did I feel the reward of God as I drove home yesterday, the reward that comes from being a good witness or carrying out His Will?  I am afraid and ashamed to say no.  I went home feeling empty and used, a vehicle for the devices and plans of others.  There was no sunlight breaking through the clouds, no sense of the divine invading my space, merely the reality of the drive home as most of my other drives home have been.

But that, of course, does not change the commands.  And so I will be at it again, trying my best to meet the commands that God has set out for those that work, in hopes that I have been missing something critical in my own attitude and that, with a little more prayer and practice, the commandments of God can become my reality of work.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Commandments of God and The Reality of Work

I find myself conflicted in my handling of work.

I am caught.  On the one hand I have the commandments of the Bible:

"Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; you are serving the Lord Christ." - Colossians 3:22-24

"Bondservants, be obedient to those who are masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, not with eyeservice as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service , as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free." - Ephesians 6: 5-9

"Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." - Titus:  2: 9-10

"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.  For this is commendable, if because of conscience towards God one endures grief, suffering wrongly." - I Peter 2:18-19

On the other hand I have the practical experience of work, which too often these days seems to be that you should be able to do more and more with less and less, accept the fact that you are always going to be behind, and that any potential advancement will be tied less to your actual output and more to your ability to curry the favor of those above you.  Not surprisingly, this breeds a certain amount of cynicism in how one approaches there job.

Here is the dilemma;  If I truly follow what God commands, then I feel as if I am on the receiving end of whatever the employer can (and wants to) do to me.  I have no ability or even right to look at my job and observe issues with it.  Instead, I should simply put my trust in God that somehow everything will be rewarded.  That is fine as an initial discussion of course; it is much more difficult when you find yourself years into a job or career with no seeming way out and no seeming way forward.

Is this the practical application of faith?  Is this where the proverbial rubber meets the road?  If so, let me say that I do not find that I like my own ox being gored.  The thought of facing work on a daily basis is difficult enough; the thought of doing it with the attitudes and outlook that God calls for in the midst of any absence that it is going to work out well seems virtually impossible.

If I were to do this - if I were to completely abandon myself as God commands and not worry about the outcome - would there come a point where I could say "He kept His promises here as well"?  Or is it the great leap of faith, clinging to his words even I find myself mentally and spiritually crushed between a load I cannot seem to bear?

This a practical living out of faith - and one I am finding incredibly difficult.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Were That I Was A Stone

Were that I was a stone,
quiet and round,
hard and settled,
lying on the ground
or in a river,
simply being.

Were that I was a stone,
without a heart
or feelings,
merely existing in
the warm days
and cold nights.

Were that I was a stone,
and simply could accept
life as it comes,
instead of trying to make
life what I think it
should be.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Good Cut

There is something about a good cut.

You know it when you make it.  It is the way that the bokuto or katana feels in your hand as it moves through the air, the angle of the blade which is perfectly aligned as it reaches its terminal point, the pull of your muscles as they align in precisely the right way.  When it happens, it is a thing of remarkable beauty.

It does not seem to happen very often.  For every good cut one goes through many bad cuts, cuts where you hack or chop at the air and the angle of blade is looking up or down (not where it should be) and your your arm finds itself aligned more with some other part of your body.  These cuts one also knows as soon as they are executed - even as one holds the blade out or straight, the mental movie of how it got there continues to play through one's mind.

To watch a master is to watch a series of good cuts strung together.  It is a thing of grace and exquisite beauty - Elegant, as our soke would say.  It is to see everything flowing and moving in a single moment of alignment.

How does one get better cuts?  The simple answer, of course, is to take more of them.  Hundreds of them - nay, thousands.  Draw, cut, align; block, cut, align; cut, cut, align.  Movements back and forth across the imaginary plane of attackers and cutting, always seeking that one moment when everything clicks into place.  Start, stop, start stop.  Step back to the beginning position and start again.

Until...

Until the moment comes again, when everything aligns - or better, when a series of moments arrives where is cut is aligned and perfect, flowing gently in the next until one's movements become a dance of speed and grace with the blade marking time. 

I have not reached this point where I can do it on demand and very well never will - but the moments when I have are so peaceful, so graceful, that I can only continue to try until I can.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Speed

I am not a terribly speedy person.

This has become more of an issue of late, both in my professional and personal life.  In my professional life, there is some concern that I do not move projects forward quickly enough.  In my personal life, I am finding that my activities such as Iaijutsu and Highland Athletics are hampered by it.

It was most clearly presented to me last night when my friend The Viking was working with me on my Sheaf tosses last night (the sheaf, for those who do not know, is a 16 to 20 lbs bag which is tossed for height by a fork).  I can do the motion but my height suffers a great deal.  He kept having do it again and again, watching me.  Finally he said "You need to find a way to speed it up.  Without speed you will never get height".

What is it about speed that I lack? I am the first to admit that I am not the sort of person that necessarily acts speedily.  Part of that is simply in my nature:  I am person who tends to move slowly rather than quickly.  Another part is the fact that in some cases my lack of speed is a learned behavior from years of acting too quickly and suffering from bad decisions.

But there is a third part: am I simply reluctant to become speedy?

What is speed?  Speed is explosion, it is acceleration, it is execution in a quick manner.  It is knowing what you are doing to the point that you can concentrate less on the motions and more on acceleration.
 And it is effort.  It is pushing yourself beyond what you think are doing to what you think you are capable of doing.

So my speed may be less of an inability and more of a reluctance to push myself to a higher level.

The solution?  Relatively easy.  Make myself move faster.  If there are physical impediments - lack of strength, for example - fix it.  If there are mental impediments - I am unsure - master the material.  If there is indecisiveness, learn to gather facts more quickly.

But above all, learn to get faster.  Learn to be quicker.  Learn to move things with the speed of force and let the effort of gravity - physical or mental - do the work.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Metrics for God

I am trying to work out some kind of metrics for God in my life.

As I am working to get my life in order a.k.a. "Trying to get direction and leadership in my life" I realized that I am getting things backwards. I am trying to put things in first and shoehorn God in around the edges.  I realized this morning as I was praying that this does not accord with passages such as "Commit your plans to the Lord and He will establish them" (Proverbs 16:3)  and "Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33"?

Am I seeking God first?  Am I seeking His kingdom and His righteousness first?  Am I committing my plans to Him, or am I huddling in my world, trying to make things work the way I want them to and hoping that they accord with God's will - but not really knowing if I am getting better or if I am more closely conforming with it?

So are there metrics that one could generate for a relationship with God, the same as one would generate for any other sort of activity or action?  It could not be solely based on time spent, because that is not a true indicator of spiritual life - yet without time spent and an amount of time that is growing, one can argue that this is not progress.

Is it giving?  I should be growing in my tithing, yet again money is no indicator of a growing relationship with God and could simply indicate I am keeping score.

Is it service?  Here again it should be something that is increasing as I serve God more actively - but again, it can become another number that makes me feel good but really indicates nothing.

So what is it?  What is the metric that will show that I am increasing in my walk with God

A couple of thoughts:

- It has to be life related.  There has to be something in my life, some evidence that I am growing or changing.

-  It needs to be measurable.  Although everything I have listed is a number, none the less what we are discussing needs to able to be tracked and measured against something.

I wonder if such a metric is both time and effort related:  not only how much time I am spending with God or on God but how much I am growing and increasing in those areas such as tithing, prayer, service?  And what about growth in holiness?  Is this something I could track, even in such simple ways as how much less time I am spending in certain activities or with certain people?

And as a family - are we doing the same thing?  Are we becoming demonstrably more Christlike, or less?  Do we look more like the world or more like Christ?

Not any definitive answers and maybe I will have to think harder.  But ultimately here is the item all Christians should be shooting for:  can I show I am growing in Christ?  And how can I know that?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Caber

I hate The Caber.

The Caber is my worst event by far.  It is the one event which, after three years of competing more or less, I still have yet to actually complete it (e.g. make a turn). 

The Caber is a beast.  It is 70-110 lbs and 16- 18 feet (depending on what game you are at for my age group) of wood staring you in the face.  Sometimes they are rubbed smooth, sometimes they are covered in fibrous bark (mostly cedar where I am) which comes off in your hands and on your face when you try to throw. 

And they are alive.  They have nubs and stubs that will scratch and tear at you when you try to throw them. They will cut you and rasp you, leaving marks on your neck or cheek (or even your ear) that will be with you long after the initial throw is gone.  They even, in some cases, will try to break your bones if given the opportunity.

For me the Caber is a mental challenge every time I throw it.  I can hear the dialogue in my head as I step up:  "Okay, this time we are going to do it.  It is big, but you are bigger.  You can do this."  I grasp the caber in my hands, wedge it against my neck, and slowly begin to work my way down the shaft.  There at the bottom I wait for a few moments, trying to see how it feels.  One, Two Three:  Pull with my shoulder and neck and scoop with my hands.

It is at that moment that you know whether or not you have a good pick.  With a good one, the caber is more or less balanced upright; with a bad one it is pulling back and around and over trying to reach back to the ground as quickly as possible.

It probably goes without saying that I seldom have good picks.

And thus the dialogue in my head as I get ready:  I have done this before, I not done this well before, and this is going to be just like the other times.  I can almost feel the Caber falling even as I am reaching down to try to grab it.

There is only one way through this, of course:  turn the Caber this year.  It is hard, but there are plenty of people that weigh just as much as I do that are doing it.  It is not a matter of matter so much as it is a matter of mind.

The Caber is waiting for another season, growling to come and get it.

Cuts and scrapes and rasps aside, I am coming.

Friday, February 14, 2014

No-One is Coming

No-one is coming.

I have realized (with a lot of help from Bogha Frois) that I have for a very long time - perhaps always?- been waiting for a hero.  Someone to come and resolve the unresolvable situations in my life.  To save me from the situations that I am seemingly unable to save myself from.

I have done it at work.  For how long have I always hoped that someone would come and change a situation that I was involved in?  For the last 1.5 years, I can count three different people whom I hoped would change the situation that I am currently in, would somehow sweep in and resolve every issue that I am facing, leaving to deal with the challenges of my job alone.

But no-one is coming.

I have done so in my private life as well.  How many times have I find my mind's eye wandering to come and resolve any of the situations that I have faced over their years?  If I am honest, more than I can possibly count.  Always, my mental vision turns to person - and they have varied over the years - that would make things right.

But no-one is coming.

This is a terribly difficult thought for me.  In some ways, perhaps more than I would like to admit, I am a person who likes to have some degree of hope that things will get better.  That is fine of course - but it has to hope in something other than someone else.

It makes me wonder as well if I am putting pressure on individuals unnecessarily, unknowingly.  By passively hoping that someone will come and make things better I can see where it would put pressure on any sort of relationship because instinctively someone is going to sense that you are looking for something else.

No-one is coming.

What to do?  I think that Iai may have the seeds of the answer. 

One of the questions/answers of the menkyo test is thus:

"What is the symbolic meaning of drawing the sword very quickly?
When you have made a decision, act immediately with hesitation."

Here then is the potential antidote:

1)  Decide.
2)  Act.
3)  Repeat.

What do you decide and act?  This is the part I have to begin work out for myself.  Here we are back to having some level of self confidence in myself, of believing that I can make rational and reasonable decisions - and then acting.on them.  And doing it again.  And accepting that you will make some bad decisions but to keep going. 

There is a footnote to this process as well:  do not expect anyone to recognize or approve these decisions.  Maybe they will someday, after you have begun making progress - but by then, of course, hopefully you will not need their approval.  Just keep going, regardless of the notice - or its lack - of others.

No-one is coming.

Time to come to your own rescue.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tilter of Windmills

I am great tilter of windmills.

They litter the landscape of my life, looming sentinels scattered hither and yon.  Each of them bears a particular memory:  here was the romance I charged that had not a change of succeeding, there is the business idea that was improbable, over there was the great crusade that I intended to undertake.  Each one of them a monument to some portion of my life where I spent time and energy chasing the unachievable, dangerous monsters that turned into the commonplace of life.

But of late I have been wondering:  Am I really a tilter of windmills? 

The activities I have been undertaking of late I have been accomplishing.  Yes, perhaps not to the extent of others - my Highland Athletics, of course, will probably never be world class - but that is not really the point. The point is that it was not a pointless charge into an imaginary foe, something that simply could not be defeated because it was not there.  Instead, progress was really made.  The lance went into something and the foe fell.

I find this strangely remarkable and encouraging.  Remarkable because such things are unexpected me.  Encouraging because it means that if the thing can be done once, or twice or even thrice, it can be done again.  And again.

As I wheel around on my Charger (who I am sure never anticipated actually having to work this hard) I see windmills farther out urging me onward.  I also turn behind me to see those windmills behind from long ago which beckon me on as well with the promise that this time, it will be different.

And so, pennons flying in the breeze, I head off.  For once I advance not with the spirit of reluctance of failure but with anticipation.  The windmills - or have they truly now become giants? - loom in the distance.

And this time, they find me eager and ready.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interest

Why is what I do so not interesting?

This hit me yesterday as I was meandering about my day at work, attending to this thing that needed to be re-signed and that thing that need resolution and that other thing that needed my review:  I am working on nothing of interest.  Not at all.  No interest to me personally and not much interest to the market.

When I let this thought settle in for a moment I was a bit appalled - after all, a great many of the jobs I have held have all been working on things that for one thing or another were interesting: interesting technologies, interesting applications.  Even in the midst of the tasks that I do (which across companies have been very similar and, let us face it, mundane) there was always that element of doing something that that was interesting and innovative.

I miss that.  I think that may be part of the reason that I find my energy has slacked off so much for what I do - it is that I am doing it for something for which I find no more excitement or interest.  Work has simply become somewhere that I go to do things.

Value, you may say.  Are you bringing value?  Because f you are bringing value then that is what can motivate you and drive you forward.  Work can be interesting or not - it is how you work at it when you are there that is the important item.

I agree in the concept of bringing value.  I agree that value should be the ultimate measure.  At the same time, I struggle with the fact that value is not recognized as the only universal and lone metric.  One can bring all the value in the world and be ignored or put aside because of other elements - here, office politics can play a brutal role.  Or simply the bias of some that some functions are more important than others based on a particular view of the market place.

This is where interest can play a crucial role. Interest can push me forward when a lack of recognition cannot.  If I am a perhaps bringing value but am not recognized, interest in what I do can keep me moving forward.  But a lack of these two - interest and recognition - is a recipe fora long life of sameness.

How do I resolve this?  Pretty simple really:  find something interesting.  Easy to say, difficult to implement as the things that I would find interesting are not in this area.

Which leaves a question:  if the choice is between interest and stability, to where does one turn?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Environment and Direction

So just like every other time I am away and return, I could feel the enthusiasm and energy drain out of my like a sieve upon my return to work.

This has become a typical occurrence, something that I have come to expect and anticipate as part of where I am currently working - simply put, the return simply brings back all of the issues that never went away while I was gone.

I used to believe it was myself, that there was something that I could do about it, that there was something that I could do about it, some way I could magically will myself into changing my energy levels such that I could reverse the trend and be motivated, become a thermostat rather than a thermometer.  Alas, that seems to have passed.

Why?  I suppose I underestimated the power of the work environment and the power of a company's directions.

Environment and direction have a powerful impact on morale.  With a good environment and an comprehensible direction, the worst of tasks can seem like it at least has purpose because it going in a direction.  Without such things, all effort feels wasted, all improvements meaningless, all the hard work trickling away into a pit that has no end.  The ability to become better at what one does gets lost in the mire of trying to get through just another day with a long line of tasks that never seem to get closed.

What to do? There are only two options:  improve the environment and direction or move on.

Can I improve my personal environment?  Possibly.  Can I improve the greater environment?  Not likely -I simply lack that power.  And can I improve the direction of the company?  Not really - I am not in a position where such a thing is possible.

Which leaves....

Having said that, I am not sure what that truly means.  I do not know what form that will take or even how that works out in the greater areas of my life.  What I do know is this:  I am not growing and the situation I am in is not helping me grow - at this point, there is only one choice if I want to reach what I am capable of, and it is not waiting here for things to "magically" get better.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Overly Dependent

After a lot of thinking this weekend, I realized that I am exceptionally dependent on the opinions of others.

This has gone on for a very long time- how long, I cannot fully say.  What I can say without question is that when I look back over the course of my life, I rely heavily on the opinions of others for my own self image.

This is incredibly crippling, as you might think.  It ensures that I will never truly "do" anything as I will always be looking over my shoulder for approval.  It ensures that I will never truly be able to move forward because I am constantly looking for the "recognition"  (read "approval") of others.  It means that opinions and thoughts and dreams of my own become subject to whatever other people think.

I am clever about it too, almost deviously so: I try to get others to share my interests or thoughts so that I am passively getting their support.  Random comments thrown out in hopes that I will have them engage support is hardly a sign of independence on my part.

So what to do?  It is incredibly easy yet incredible difficult:  learn to go on without being emotionally dependent.

It sounds like it should be simple, but there is a certain mental toughness involved - something that I lack at the moment.  There is also the very real possibility that those who previously believed that they had a power over you by your emotional dependence will become angered and upset when they realize that are no longer subject to their whims.  That you will do what you will do whether or not their emotional support is there.

The possibilities entice me; the level of adjustment to get to it terrifies me.  But am in my mid-life and am rapidly reaching a crossroads:  spend the second half as I did much of the first, looking to others to make me feel better about myself, or boldly press on in the knowledge that I am truly capable, no matter what others may think.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Letting Go of C

Apparently I have been dragging someone with around with me for twenty five years.

I was not really conscious of it until this week.  All of a sudden this person, whom I had though had long ago moved on, reared their head again in my life.  The reality is of course this person has long ago forgotten me - I can guarantee that.  Yet here I sit with them in my conscious brain as if not a single day has passed.

What do you ask the incoporal:  What are you doing here?  Why are you  still here?  Why will you not let me go?

Oddly enough, they will respond, a sort of ghostly hologram running a preprogrammed message:  I am here because you keep me here.  I cannot tell you why I am here because you cannot tell yourself why I am here.  I cannot let you go because you will not let me go. 

And there the finger goes, right back at me. 

It is a shock, of course, to realize that something buried this deep has been kept there because you wanted it in some way.  Oh, you tried to convince yourself that it was gone, that it needed to be gone, that it should be gone - yet it keeps popping it and suddenly you realize you are cliniging to it with a death grip.

Why?  Because letting go of an old hurt can be the most painful thing of all.

I thought I had let go - years ago.  Uisdean Ruadh and I made an event of it:  everything I had that was involved went into the stove, where we burned it.  Nothing remained, I thought.  Apparently I was wrong - everything important remained.  I just dumped the physical manifestation of it.

How do you complete an action that happened so many years ago?  How do you simply say "Yup.  What I really felt at the time was legitimate.  It was awful, but the feelings were legitimate.  Sometimes people treat people poorly.  It is just the way of it."

I needed the closure. I I guess I was denied it, never having the opportunity to deliver it and so close the gap - and so for all of these years, buried beneath my relationships and my hopes and fears and dreams and fantasies is the C, standing behind and over it all.  The bitter part is that I kept them there. 

So now I need to let go.

Easier said than done, of course.  I have been done this path once before and that apparently was not enough.  I am not sure what the letting go will truly look like, nor is something I think I can rush at this point.  There is simply too much overlaying it at this point for me to pick a time and shout "I am done!"

But I brought them all this way.  I carried them through my life.

And I am the one that will have to let go.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Finding Courage

I am working to find the courage to write more publicly.

No, not here.  This - for the simple fact that this anonymity allows me a certain latitude in what I write - remains my refuge, my testing ground, my sounding board, my lab.  Here I can throw out whatever wanders into my mind and feel that at some level I can write without fear.  This is, and will remain so as long as I can write, my pet project.

No, I am talking about other places.  I do have one,  a place where I am started writing in hopes of creating more of a business oriented area.  I have kept it up over the years - at least three - but it has been a struggle to provide content for it, not at all like the relative ease it is to write here.

But herein - thanks to Carrie Wilkerson and The Barefoot Executive  - lies the problem:  if I never develop the public aspect of the work, I will never ultimately have a chance to be rewarded for it.  In other words, if I want to begin to try to transition to a new area and hopefully some kind of income from it (it does not take much to make me feel like I am a success!), then I need to start writing and acting more as myself.

My initial reaction was, of course, a sigh.  two blogs to keep up.  If I wanted to work as hard on that as I did on this, even more writing to do every morning.  Learning new technologies like websites and webcams and some thing called Audio Forge to record things.

But then I shook myself a bit.  Really?  Me - the great learner of obscure facts, shying away from having to learning something new? Me - the guy who has made himself write at least 5 times a week for 5 years now?  That guy?   I cannot put in a little more effort for the purpose of trying to make my life a little more like I want it?

But that is not the real issue of why I will or will not move forward.  The real issue is courage - the courage to write as who I am.

It is easy to write like I do here - some people know who I am, some people do not.  But to write as myself, to throw one's name out into the ring of those that write, is to run the risk of criticism.  Of seeming trite.  Of seeming stupid and sophomoric.  Of realizing that one really did not have anything to say  - and finding out that others think that too.

But there is the other side, the side I hardly acknowledge:  maybe not.

Maybe it turns out I can write to impact somebody's life.  Maybe  one of the pithy parables I am experimenting with will actually make sense to someone.  Maybe I can encourage one more person to move forward in their own life.  Heck, maybe I can sell a book or two.

So here is the question:  I know what I need to try to do to make it happen.  The question is, will I?

Can I find my courage?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Saguaro

Cool desert mornings
belie the heat that is here
when the cactus blooms.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

On The Question of Being Great

 "Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be." - Charles de Gaulle

Am I determined to to be great?

No no, not the greatness the world so often confuses as greatness:  the attention, the money, the glamour, the power over the wavering masses entranced by one's brightness and glory.  The greatness I am referring to is that simple greatness where we simply are everything that we can possibly be.

Why is this important?  The reality is that greatness as the world defines it will always be a very small percentage of the world, too small for too many things that need doing not to get done.  By surrendering to less than greatness, to believing that being great (and therefore doing great things) is reserved for a particular or peculiar few, we cede the power we each have to accomplish anything.

We become the less great, the average, the mediocre, those that exist in the twilight of "The Great Ones", seeking to capture a piece of their limelight or convincing ourselves that we are supremely happy in just being noticed by them or being in their presence.  And thus we wander through our lives, hapless shadow beings that never seem to do what we need to or want to and accomplish nothing of significance or benefit, perhaps wondering why our time has never come but sure that greatness is for the great, not for us.

But this revolves around our definition of greatness.  If greatness is only achieved by fame and recognition, then this is true.  But if it is not- if it is achieved by each of us being the best "us" that we can be, then it is a false statement. 

A thing which is otherwise small may great to the one to whom it impacts - even if that one is a single person for which no-one else will recognize or know.  The greatness in inherent in us becoming the person to do the great thing, not in the visibility or greatness of the thing.

The world is in desperate need of great deeds to resolve signficant issues and to encourage others that such things are possible.

Determine to do great things.  Determine to be great.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Abandoning of E-mail

I am giving serious consideration to abandoning e-mail.

I looked at my e-mail in-box over the course of this week and realized that I had over 400 unopened e-mails.  That seems like a great deal - I mean, I was conscious of the fact that the amount had been growing but it was leaping up exponentially.  So  I decided to take a look.

My e-mail box was even more of a disaster.  I do not know how many e-mails I have in my box at this point but I would estimate it is easily close to a thousand.  Trying to locate a specific one is the proverbial needle in the haystack procedure.

How did they all build up?  The best of intentions, of course.  The exponential growth in e-mails was due to my habit of signing up for lists - "Oh, that sounds interesting.  Let's sign up for that - after all, it is just e-mail.   It will not take up very much room".  Likewise the growth in my in-box was due to my habit of saving things "to get to later":  "That is an interesting quote.  I cannot write it down now - let me save it for later"  or "I need to respond to that.  I cannot do it now - let me save it for later."

You are seeing a trend,  I hope:  It does not take up much space and I will do it later.  As sadly true in the rest of my life as it is true in my electronic life.

I went through and deleted a great number or earmarked others for action - in a couple of cases I simple unsubscribed.  Well and good.  But as did this it was with the unconscious thought that this is only a temporary solution:  the avalanche will be back, given one or two days of non-attentiveness.

Which brought up the next thought:  what if I just sought to reduce my e-mail presence completely.

What are the legitimate uses of e-mail in my life?  Occasional contacts from friends and family.  E-mail transfers from home to work (although a thumb drive works as well).  And information - scads of information that I thought was important at one time but now threatens to bury me beneath a rigorous program of dealing with it because I hate the thought of deleting it lest I lose some minor critical item.

What if I significantly scaled back my e-mail presence?  What if I vigorously reviewed every list I am on, every newsletter I receive for actual use and purpose in my life?  My suspicion is that I would see a significant lessening of the daily and weekly e-mails I received - perhaps to the point that I could actually use the ones I have.

Because, oddly enough, 20 years ago most of us had heard of e-mail but it was the stuff of legend and technology, a mystical thing that appeared as if a pronouncement from Mt. Olympus  - and most of us survived.  And still talked to our friends.  And still got things done.  It was not what it has become now, an almost mindless exchange of everything that takes no time for someone else to send but valuable time for us to even evaulate if it is important.

I may not completely divorce myself from the medium, but it has certainly reached the point where it is no longer adding significant value in my life.   And our lives, being so short, should be filled as much as possible with things of significant value.