A man named “Gibbs”

“To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people exist, that is all”…Oscar Wilde

Gibbs shared his story – visiting all lower 49 states – as part of a personal pilgrimage.  New Mexico was the last stop on his journey.  That evening he had made his way into my place of work to share his love of food (chocolate) and travel.

It was his last night in town and he marveled at how unique and wonderful Santa Fe was as the fall light faded in the west.  “There is no place like Santa Fe” he declared, sipping his hot elixir.  We periodically conversed between customers and his reading.  Born and raised in India.  He now calls DC home.  Tomorrow morning, he would be returning to the east coast to his family and life.  As night settled around the shop, he thoughtfully sampled another elixir.

As Gibbs stood to leave, he thanked me for my hospitality and the wonderful elixirs.  I wished him well – wondering out loud how this man came to such a dream – visiting all 50 states (he had yet to visit Alaska).  He did not answer. He simply smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as if I too knew the answer.

As the door closed, I felt a tinge of inspiration move through me, as if having just been in the presence of a someone or something divine.  I found myself moved by the connection with this man having just completed his journey.  I felt his sincerity and his desire to know more about the world around him.  I felt a kinship in our humanness and our unspoken desire for something more than just a mere existence.

As I started closing down the shop, I had the realization that I too was a journeyman…only the kind you cannot track on a map.

 

 

 

 

Things that make you think

I came across this sign while strolling downtown today.  The message – “to settle a homestead or to live free in the world” – seems to fit my current train of thought regarding what I want – and don’t want – in my life.

To be my own mentor

Can I be my own mentor?  Can I reflect back to myself all of the honest assessments of what I say and do in the world?  Can I catch myself when I fall?  Can I listen, without prejudice, to myself in those moments that are most painful and dark?  Can I create a new pathway forward when I’ve run off the road?

For years now I have look around me for people with such abilities for support and guidance in this journey called life.  Trying to fill voids left by my upbringing.

But wait..I have this awareness.

I have traveled this long and hard road of life.

I have been brought down by the pain of love and loss, only to get back on my feet through will and determination.

I  have obtained the truth and knowledge past to me by those who have gone before me.

I have learned to sit in stillness.

To face my fears.

To free my voice.

I have become…my pathway.

 

 

Can we find our way without knowing our Mythology?

One of the intentions of the Wisdom Path Project – a work in progress podcast –  is to bring back the stories and myths that for centuries kept our communal space alive and well. We grew up being held by the values and lessons of those who came before us.

For example, we lived in balance with nature – taking what we needed and nothing more. We had ceremony and ritual as the soul of the community. We cared about and for our young, – celebrating them with rites of passage.

Today, we see the results of this slow dismemberment of our communities and tribes. We are disconnected and lost – taking anything we can get our hands on without thought. Individual attributes are given precedence over the common good of the many. We no longer gather for story or ceremony (even events like weddings, funerals, and graduations are more about something material and surface). We do not honor our fathers. We do not celebrate our mothers. Our children are swept away by the forces of mediocrity and amusement – with little knowledge of who they are and from where they come from.

Our leadership is weak and self-centered. Our warriors are abused and abandoned. Joseph Campbell illustrated what happens to cultures when they allow the ego to take center stage in this passage below from A Hero with a Thousand Faces:

“The figure of the tyrant monster is know to the mythologies, folk traditions, legends and even nightmares of the world. An his characteristics are everywhere essentially the same –
He is the hoarder of general benefit, he is the monster avid for the greedy rights of my and mine. Havoc wrought by him is described in mythology and fairytale as being universal through out his domain. This maybe no more than his household, his own tortured psyche or the lives that he blights with the touch of his friendship and assistance. Or it may amount to the extent of his civilization.

The inflated ego of the Tyrant is a curse to himself and the world. No matter how his affairs may seem to prosper, self terrorized, fear haunted, alert at every hand to meet and battle back the anticipated aggression of his environment. Which are primarily the reflections of the uncontrollable impulses to acquisition within himself. The giant of self achieved independence, is the worlds messenger of disaster. Even though in his mind, he may entertain himself with humane intentions.

Wherever he sets his hand, there is a cry. If not from the housetops, then more miserably within every heart. A cry for the redeeming hero. The carrier of the shining blade – who’s blow, who’s touch, who’s existence – will liberate the land.”

As I mentioned earlier, part of the puzzle to regaining our legitimate right to a good and prosperous life is to understand from where we came from (best told in myth or story). To see our world from the position of a people – in balance with – all other living and non-living entities. We understand our roles as stewards of the land, air and sea. An do not allow our inner ego’s to dictate or assign our communal pathway.

By slowing down and taking the time to reconnect with the stories and myths of our past we can begin to create a different narrative on the human condition. No longer relegated to the shadows of our ancestors, storytelling and mythology can be revive as the centerpiece of what it is to be human. A return to our connectedness.

While I don’t know of nor see a “redeeming hero” in our midst. I want to have faith that the human culture is still of such quality that such a being could arise and bring balance to our collective domain.

Peace

Reflections on Loneliness: the epidemic

This is a topic I am very familiar with.  Starting as a child, loneliness was a constant companion for me.  As an adult, I’ve had loneliness be present – a reminder of what I experience when I shut down (isolate). When my partner participated in experiential learning opportunities (on two separate occasions) that had her away from home for an extended period, I really got to see, know and own my loneliness.

I see loneliness rear it’s head in others as well.  When a world leaders clash over ego – I see loneliness in the distance.  When a “lone wolf” takes the lives of the unsuspecting – I see disconnection.  Finally, when we continue to destroy the very planet we exist on – I see pain.

Loneliness is everywhere.  In our cities and farmlands.  In our homes and cars. Loneliness can wear many faces; isolation, collapse, disconnectedness, pain, or shame. I believe loneliness has become our societies great epidemic.

Here’s what the experts tell us:

  • Three-quarters of Americans experience loneliness in their lives.
  • One-in-four Americans suffer from persistent loneliness.
  • The health risks of feeling lonely – as well as isolation – surpass those risks associated with obesity.

And here is what I know:  the more accepting I become of who I am in the world – noticing especially when I’m being self-critical  –  the more I’m able to feel apart of something greater…something alive. It is that feeling of being alive, being connected, that is the antivenom for loneliness.   It has taken me years to work through this.

Medication may help some of us deal with loneliness’s companion, depression.  Being around others definitely has benefits.  But the best approach I’ve found, is simply to see me as something of a wonder.  Someone unique in a world full of uniqueness.  It is from this perspective that I understand that I am truly never alone.

The Courage to Change

 

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/29/pine-ridge-indian-reservation-south-dakota

I listen to and read this power piece on the recent sobriety of the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They collectively, have chosen to break free from the powerful addiction of alcohol, and move out from the dark cloud of oppression.

The courage to change is probably right up there with dying when it comes to something we fear and chose not to think about. The shift could be small (noticing an errant behavior) or massive (choosing sobriety or leaving a bad relationship). Either way the task can seem daunting.

I hope you’ll view this video and read the article and be impacted in some way. Our collective shift is important to the survival of our species. But it all starts with small, individual steps.

Peace

Do we miss opportunities and openings because we are moving too fast?

Have you ever seen a hummingbird fly by?  It reminds me of how I move through the world at times. In other words, moving too fast to be able to enjoy the finite moments in life.

For example, my son recently came to visit me for 30 days. He arrived July 31st. We had a packed, adventure filled plan for the month and so off we went. The next thing I know, I’m watching him board his flight home. Boom, he’s gone.

Walking back to the car, I am left with this sinking (and sad) feeling.  I’m dumb founded – where had all the time gone? Then I realize, I was so busy trying to make up for our time apart, that I missed the essence of his visit: a deeper connection with him.

As this thought has been ruminating with me since his departure, I began to notice other areas of my life that I can feel the “speed of disconnection”. The hustle and bustle of trying to get too many things done in a very finite period of time. Whether it be at work, at home or in play.

There is something about slowing life down that allows one to catch opportunities and openings.  We can read people deeper.  We can listen thoughtfully.  We notice things that otherwise would escape our attention.  We can experience a “close connection” with the ones we love.

I decided to take some down time to catch-up on something I’d been missing – quality time for myself. I am intentionally slowing down in order to catch the little details that I miss when moving at the speed of life.  I am saying “no” to things that do not feed me.  I’m saying “yes” to the quiet moments.  I’ll take the train or bike versus driving.  I am back to my daily meditation routine (the first thing that dropped off my radar during his visit).  Lastly, I’m breathing deeper (notice how your breathing changes when you’re in a hurry or stressed).

We did have a great time together and he experienced many firsts in his young life.  What was missing for me was “slow time” with him.  More connection and stillness. I cannot change the past, however with my new found awareness, I can begin to lay the foundation for a different kind of visit when I see him in November.

On Hold

I just spent a long weekend in Boulder, CO.  Reflecting on all of the interactions I had, I had the following awareness last night:

How do we do ourselves fully and bravely – regardless of our fears of the outcome?

I met with and spent time around a good number of people that were new to me.  As our stories and lives inter-weaved around each other, I could see just how much we all struggle with relating.

I am not alone.

So I ask – where do we hold back?  At work, play and in life?  What do you not tell the people you love or work with?  Being full in what I need and what I want takes intention.  And at times, courage.

“Be full today”  is my motto this week.  Will you join me?

Fatherhood

 

 

Nate came through the revolving door at the airport, saw me and ran straight into our hug.  His first visit back to New Mexico since his move east one year ago.  Seeing how much he’d grown and matured, I just let myself feel the pride, love and happiness circulating within me at that very moment.   We walked to pick-up his bags, caught up in the conversation of re connection.  I marveled at how much he had changed.  He was so hip and so savvy. He was coming into his own at 14.  I wondered to myself about the meaning and significance of being a father in the year 2017.

How You Are in the World

How you are in the world –  in my opinion,  is significant in fatherhood.  What you (and I) represent is reflected in how we move through the world. We have a responsibility in life.  Our physical and emotional footprint is the pathway for our sons and daughters ( and loved ones).  We are the providers and protectors.  Our presence creates calm and security in a world that is fast, chaotic and volatile.  We are merchants of kindness, strength and wisdom and the impact of this is:

  • Our children depend on us.
  • Our wives and partners rest on us.
  • Our community looks up to us.

When we can bring ourselves fully into the here and now, while avoiding being fused to outside beliefs and constructs, we establish a foundation of care, trust and intention.  Men are made of iron and blood, forged by initiation, ceremony, war and destiny. We are the good sheppard, who mindfully tend his sheep. Yet, when we are caught up in our old behaviors, characters and beliefs, we are distracted, reactive and fearful.  We find it impossible to be present or available to those closest to us. Our homes and communities wither like a drought parched landscape.  The youth around us begin to question, struggle, falter or rebel.  What was once whole, begins to break down.

So what to do?

Here are but a few suggestions that I practice as I relate to the ones I love:

  • Be present for your sons, daughters, partners and wives..
  • Ask of them to be open and tell you what is alive for them.  Then listen and do not interrupt or defend.  Just listen.
  • Be open.  Let go of your old belief systems or patterns – no matter how much it hurts.
  • Look into the eyes of those you most care about when listening.  This is important and powerful.
  • Let fear be there, but do not react to it.
  • Turn off your electronic devices while communicating with others; especially your loved ones.
  • Do your work of self-discovery.  The more you grow, the more your life will affect those around you.

No father can be perfect.  But we can be true to who we are.  The more we self-explore, the more we can offer to our family, friends and community.  I have learned this first hand.

As we head out to catch the train, in a typical Monsoon downpour, I see how the behavior I model impacts on my son.  He looks to me for guidance and assurance.  He wants to impress me with who he’s become.  But perhaps more importantly, he looks to me as a mirror into himself… that is what being a father means to me.

 

The Wisdom Path Podcast – Launching soon!

 

 

With much anticipation, we have begun recording creatives and storytellers for the Wisdom Path Podcast. With a heavy duty schedule of recording happening now, soon we will be releasing inspired stories of creativity from people in the world of literature, fine arts and life.

Please look for updates at www.facebook.com/wisdompathpodcast/ or on Instagram at wisdompathpodcast.  We’d love to have you!

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