Posts Tagged ‘life direction’

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What I think happens in life and thereafter.

There is no supporting evidence for this. None. But I think this photo depicts what happens to us in our life and afterwards.

Firstly, the sign.
The concept that life ends when we die is a man-made concept. Take that away and the picture takes on a different meaning
In the foreground, the road and painted line shows the direction that has been mapped out for us. We may have painted the line or we might be following a line painted by others. It’s still a direction we follow. Life is reliable if we walk this way. No surprises.

The end of the painted line.
Notice that the line stops but the road continues. At some point in our lives we don’t need to follow a direction. We just know which side of the road is the safest and the direction we should be travelling in. It’s still a direction followed by most but we don’t need as many rules to guide us. We brush our teeth, save some money and have the weekend off without thinking about it. Admittedly, doing these things does save you some heartache later but really it’s your choice. There are consequences for everything. Even if you stop in the middle of the road there is a consequence.

The gravel.
The end of the road and start of the dirt shows our partial return to the way things should be as we age. We can start to connect with the natural way of life and appreciate the little things. Like being outside. Feeling the wind. Listening to our own thoughts. All these experiences becomes more comfortable as we realise that all things pass. We end up walking our own path regardless of others. The realisation that happiness and contentment is up to us makes it much easier to live.
The decisions we have made, passage we have taken, and where it has lead us finally shows what really matters. Material gain and credit for our performance loses its lustre. The knowledge that others are struggling now seems to drive us to a point where we are rewarded with a deep contentment that only service to another living being can give.

The sign.
It may be the latest theory to explain death but it really just shows a transition. In science, nothing disappears, it changes state. Ice melts and become water; water boils and becomes steam; the steam seems to disappear but really spreads out to become, well, everything.

Afterwards.
Just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. There is a continuation of us but as the picture shows, things change.
It seems to me there is a natural beauty thereafter. No roads, no directions, no hazards. Still in existence but a more natural one that allows us freedom that we haven’t experienced beforehand. Whether we continue into the trees or the sky is up to you. All we do is move forward into a new experience.

I sit here at 7:30 PM, at the table eating dinner by myself.
For this blog, I usually commit my thoughts to paper and talk about our attitude to the world. Change that, MY attitude to the world.
But my writing tonight concerns the life of a child in another part of the world. I haven’t met him or her yet. But I am about to change his/her life.

You see, I have created a system in my business that contributes a specific percentage of income to World Vision. Every time our client base grows by 10 people, we sponsor another child. The difference this time is that my current clients are choosing the next child.
Funny thing is, they are struggling.
They are realising that you can’t help everyone. For every child that you help, there are dozens that you can’t. Dozens of faces staring back at you from their website, dozens that will stay outside your reach.

So I sit here, sharing this dilemma with you. I have announced to the customers I have that at 9 PM I will make a choice.
Right now, I look over the list of suggestions. One lady has chosen a child because that child has the same birthday as her son. Another has chosen a child in Sri Lanka because she travelled there. Others have forwarded names of children all over the world for reasons not shared with me.

Before I sit down and make my final choice, I wish to share how this all came about.
I once read that for a person to be truly compassionate about others, they should give a percentage of their income to charity every month. The amount offered in that book was 10%. This prompted me to find my percentage. At that time, as a family, we had 2 World Vision children. That amounted to 1% of our income on a monthly basis. As I live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, my level of giving shamed me.
At 9pm, that number should move to approximately 3%.
Still not much.
But better than most.

Finally, I am reminded by writing about this, the story of a man’s experience walking along a beach. Strewn across the sand, were thousands of starfish that had washed up and were slowly drying out and dying in the sun. The beach stretched on and on. Just ahead of him he noticed a small boy picking up one starfish at a time, carefully tossing it into the ocean. The man reached the boy and asked what he was doing.
“I’m saving these starfish”, was the reply.
The man queried, “There are thousands of them. How can you possibly make a difference?”
The small boy bent over, picked up a starfish and tossed it into the ocean.
“I bet I made a difference to that one”, he replied.

Many kids will not receive my money tonight.
But one will.

 

Choosing a surfboard for a wave in a river is difficult.

As a river is freshwater it is not as buoyant as seawater. A surfer needs more foam underneath him to keep him moving. This newly made surfboard was now sitting in the cargo area of a plane flight that had just delivered me to São Luis, a town near the banks of the mouth of the Amazon river. Although the exact time of the wave’s arrival was known, 7 AM on Saturday, exactly how it would break was not known. We would have to travel up river the day before with a stick to test the depth as the sand bar shifts as the river curves through the Amazon jungle.

The adrenaline was pumping and I was full of the wonder of being in a new country and preparing myself for the experience of a lifetime. Even though I didn’t speak the language I was learning Portuguese
bit by bit. One conversation I will never forget. As we were moving up river in the early morning before the wave, one of the tour guides taps me on the shoulder and points to the river bank and says ‘Jacare’. I followed his direction to a three meter crocodile lying on the muddy bank. My eyes open wide. I turn to him. All that comes out of my mouth is, “Crocodile”.

He smiles and looks at me nodding and repeats, “Crocodile”.

Even thought the wave is due at 7am, we can hear it at 6.45am. Standing knee deep in mud on the banks of a river, waiting for a wave is not something you would expect on a Saturday morning.

The surreal nature of surfing in a river with crocodiles, piranha and anaconda hit me full force. You see, it’s not the experiences we have in life that changes us. It is the moments in between the experiences when things sink in. Therapists call them ‘teachable moments’. Only problem is that they usually occur when there is not a therapist in sight. That leaves just one person to make sense of it. You.

The wave itself is a sight that leaves even the tour guides initially speechless. The water is the colour of iced coffee. Branches and debris are pushed in front of the wave making it twice as hard for the surfer to negotiate his line.

In the event of falling off, I am instructed to wave my board over my head as the Jacare may wander over to see this new Australian addition to their menu.

The wave lasts about 2 hours. It is rideable most of that time which means the time you stand on your board – when added up – means you surf for nearly an hour. This probably equates to a 10 kilometre wave. A novice could learn to surf in just one wave.

At one stage we are told to get in the boat as we have to negotiate around a whirlpool that has developed on the bend of the river. A whirlpool? No one told me about that.

I ride the wave past towns and local people who have lined up on the bank to see the twice yearly sight. I lift my hand above my head to wave. They wave back. I surf on. They return to their lives.

Rising early

Final part comes out tomorrow…

Not ‘Funny Ha Ha’… but ‘Funny Strange’.

Example:
When your life is in danger you will do anything to avoid the impending trauma.
But in the absence of a threat, we question what it’s all for.

Confused? Me too.

Enter Kevin Briggs, a California law enforcement officer whose beat covers The Golden Gate bridge. Kevin has talked to hundreds of people as they stood looking down at the water 245 feet (75 metres) below, ready to jump. His estimations are that he has dissuaded over 200 people from the suicidal leap. Of those that did and survived (low percentage) they all said that the moment they jumped, they wish they hadn’t. THAT doesn’t make sense.

More than 1,400 people have jumped off the bridge since it opened in 1937 with only 2% surviving the fall and of that small slice only 4% were able to walk again, according to the Golden Gate Bridge transit district.

Sometimes we need to turn to a professional to get some perspective when grappling with some of life’s deep questions. So let’s get some advice from Mr. Victor Frankl, a trained Psychologist and Neurologist who happened to live in Austria during the 2nd World War and was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. When the average life span of a concentration camp detainee was somewhere between 3 weeks and 3 months, Mr. Frankl survived 3 years.
As a trained psychologist, his assessment of those that died and those that lived made him realise happiness is not the key. Meaning is. Those that find meaning for their existence are much better off than those that chase happiness.
His theory is called Logotherapy where meaning is the ‘primary motivational force in life’.

Aaah, now that is starting to make sense.

So let’s look at the meaning that others have found. Here are 5 examples of people who found a cause that drives them:
1) Adam Braun – Adam started Pencils of Promise where he builds schools for impoverished kids in third world countries.
2) Sam Kahamba Kutesa – This year Sam was elected President of the United Nations General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session. His vision of our world is far greater than any of our day to day headaches.
3) Al Gore – Mr Gore lost the US Presidential election but then went on to become the world’s foremost speaker on climate change. Instead of reflecting on his losses, he focussed on the job he had in front of him.
4) David Bryant – After retirement as a teacher and school principal, David found himself directionless. Shortly after he volunteered for a position teaching poor children in the Maldives. His passion for giving came back in an instant and at an age when others slow down, David is travelling and making a difference.
5) Team Hoyt – Fathering a cerebral palsy child is enough to give anyone meaning in their life. But Dick Hoyt motivates thousands if not millions of athletes by pushing or towing his son in countless triathlons and marathons. He says that his son Rick’s smile as they cross the finish line gives him motivation every day.

What next?

Search. Search for something that keeps you awake at night.
Something that will have you up at 5 in the morning motivated to make a difference.
Find a cause that upsets you.
Or one that fires you up.
Then find out how to act.
Then, commit.
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Get Victor Frankl’s Book by clicking on this link: Man’s Search for Meaning, Gift Edition

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The picture itself is 15 years old. I remember it like it happened yesterday.  (more…)

If the destination isn’t clear, why start walking?
Problem is that sometimes the destination doesn’t become clear until after you start walking. It’s all about perspective.
When I wrote my blog about the meaning in life it was really supposed to be about what was going on inside of me. Since then, I have had many replies and comments. All of them remarked that it was an opinion that they share. That it was about them. The internal dialogue that I talked about seems to be the common thread that links us all. Makes us human.

Apparently the trait that separates us as humans from animals is to do with thinking. Animals think and we think. The difference is that we know we are thinking.
(Or so we suspect. Maybe they are just keeping quiet.)
So it’s control over our thoughts that is the key.

Our happiness, suffering, contentment, struggles, calmness and upsets are more to do with how we process events than the actual event.
This means the millionaire and the homeless man are both the same.
Its more about their enjoyment of where they are right now. That is all.

Old head on young shoulders?
When I was in my 20s I was a fitness instructor. One client I met was in his 70s and had a triple bypass operation. I was worried about how hard to push him and expected to see a decrepit old man. Old he was.
Decrepit? Far from it.
He bound down the hallway towards me and stuck out his hand. “G’day young fella”, was his jovial greeting.
Even then, my young brain surging with testosterone and ego, registered that here was someone who was happy in his own skin. Happier than me. Like he knew something I didn’t.
Well, 30 years has passed. I’ve had sporting success, marriage, fatherhood, divorce, business success, depression and many other excitements have passed. I’ve even had open heart surgery myself. How would I tell myself 30 years ago what I know now? What could I say to make a difference in my young life? What could I say to make a difference in your life?
Only one thing. There’s more to it than what you are experiencing right now.
Much more.
Knowing this – and that all situations and feelings pass – gives us contentment.
Best of luck to you.

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The more I think about the stages of life, the more I realise no stage lasts forever. Change is constant … as they say. And that is good.

Here is a conversation that demonstrates the point. It was supposed to be about martial arts but it ended up being about life. In martial arts a student is confronted with highs and lows. At times the feeling is that they are actually getting worse. But each low creates the platform for the next level. Once the student realises that, he or she relaxes and understands it is a necessary stage of development. That is why the martial arts is split up into three stages – physical, mental and then spiritual. You work through the physical stage to become mentally stronger and finally spiritually calmer.

Trauma tends to have that effect on us.

Stages in life

“Surely this patch will finish soon”

It will. They always do.

“That’s a bit negative.”

It’s not meant to be negative, or positive. The truth is just meant to be the truth. It just enables you to breathe and be calm at this stage.

“But you don’t know what stage I’m in. And how long it will last for!”

I don’t need to. It’s a stage. It’s not meant to be permanent. That’s the definition of a stage. It’s transitional.

The funny thing is that each stage is meant to teach a lesson. If you don’t learn the lesson you will find yourself visiting the stage again later.

“So I have to beat it. Like in a game?”

It’s not about defeating something or being defeated. There is not you and the game. There is not you and the enemy. There is just you. You are the game. You are the situation. If you fight it, you are fighting yourself.
The idea is to step back from your emotions and see it for what it is. If you get angry, you block the message.

“Oh. Sort of being my own worst enemy.”

Not really. If you think ‘enemy’ you set up two sides within yourself. Think of the word ‘understanding.’ It’s about gaining an understanding of things.

“But if I think of all things and me as being two separate ideas isn’t that the wrong outlook? Shouldn’t I think of all things – the world – being a part of me? Sort of… the inner world and the outer world is still my world. If I think of it this way, if I think of controlling my inner world, I can change my outer world.

You will make a great teacher.

“No. I struggle too much.”

That’s what makes a great teacher. The struggle is a necessary stage.