No, Right!

662. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The man in front of me in line calls me “Dude!” and affirms my statements by saying, “No, right!” He speaks in exclamation points and I like him a lot. He’s a free spirit although, like me, his hair is going grey and he’s traveled more than a few miles. He asked me if I make resolutions this time of year. I liked the question because it includes the possibility that I might make resolutions at other times of the year. I told him I make resolutions everyday right before I don’t keep them and he laughed and said, “No, right!”

There is a moment I look forward to when flying out of Seattle. It is the moment that the plane lifts through the clouds and punches into a clear blue sky; it is a cusp moment and I see that the clouds are local and temporary; the broad blue expanse is universal, ever present. Occasionally the plane rises above the clouds at the moment the sun rises. The moment before was grey and bleak and in an instant it is vibrant orange, turquoise, cold and clear shades of blue. Those moments are rich in paradox: they evoke quiet and excitement, a thrill that washes me in peace

I am more capable than ever before of living with my head above the clouds, seeing the universal and standing in awe of the color even when my eyes can’t see it. I know it is there if I open myself and breathe it in. “Dude! What are you thinking?” my line mate asked. “I think I’m going to fly above the clouds this year,” I replied. He wrinkled his brow at my odd resolution before nodding his head and saying, “No, right!

Treasure Your Treasure

661. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The process of moving has afforded me two recognitions. First, I’ve found two outlines for books that I meant to write a few years ago, the completed text for a children’s book that only needs the illustrations and another that I only need draw final drafts of illustrations. I found two plays, poorly written, that are waiting patiently for me to revise and reconstruct into health. Who knew that I had so much unfinished work in the file! I am an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of guy. Filing cabinets are mausoleums for my projects. If I file them, they might as well not exist. I feel like I just opened a pyramid and a long lost friend was sitting inside and said, “Hey, it’s about time!”

The second recognition is that I have too much stuff. I am an odd duck in that I expect myself to move lightly through this world. It’s not that I have a house full of furniture, I don’t, but I have more books, more files, more paintings, more…stuff, than I want. So, moving has provided the opportunity to lighten up. It has been interesting to see what things I invest in, what carries meaning for me, and what does not. My friend John made me a small box a few years ago and I treasure it. Sam gave me a signed a copy of his book of poetry – I would grab it first if the house was burning down. Tamara made me a glass sun to help me through the winter and I will hold it close until I die, not to mention a growing catalogue of songs that she’s written and recorded that warms me inside. Teru made a quilt for me that is beautiful beyond belief; it evokes gratitude every time I look at it or sleep beneath it. I have DeMarcus Brown’s notes about theatrical design written in a notebook that he made himself almost a century ago. His daughter gave it to me after Marc passed away, saying, “This belongs to you.” I cherish it. My niece Tori sewed for me a purple bear that I have named Mulberry and there is nothing more valuable to me on this earth.

I’ve realized that my treasures are my friendships and the deep love I hold for so many people. I step as a gypsy into this New Year walking into many unknowns and double uncertainties and I’ve just reaffirmed how rich I am in projects, ideas, creative fire and made more wealthy by the vibrant, generous people accompanying me through this life.

Be The Source

660. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

While preparing a new curriculum this morning, I reviewed work from the past and came across this phrase, something I wrote 4 years ago: In our language usage we often say, “_______ gives me joy.” So, for instance, “Painting gives me joy.” This phrasing leads us to believe that the joy is in the painting and you are the recipient of the joy. It leads us to believe that these “things” like joy, happiness, and contentment are external gems, separate from us, something we must seek to find.

Joy, happiness, and contentment are not things, not nouns. The painting does not give you joy, you bring the joy to the experience of painting. The capacity for joy is in you and ignites within you when you put yourself into a generative relationship. As I too often quote Viktor Frankel, “Happiness ensues.” Happiness and joy are not something you seek (separate from you), they are qualities that follow (originating from within you); joy is movement; a feeling is a verb. You are the source not the recipient.

I realize that I am writing a lot lately about the power of language to shape our perception. At present I am in a coffee shop and I just heard the barista tell her coworker that this upcoming year she will learn to say “no.” The couple at the table next to me are having an intense conversation and I just heard, “That’s just the way I am!” followed by, “Why can’t you be happy?” These are stories and the language is not incidental. It matters if you define yourself as separate from you joy. It matters if you believe that you are separate from your creativity or that you must do something to “deserve” happiness. If you define yourself as separate you will live separate from your powers of happiness, joy and contentment. You will think you need to seek them from others. You will define yourself as fundamentally powerless because you will orient yourself toward what you get from experiences instead of recognizing your infinite capacity to bring power to your life, to be power and vibrantly alive. Be the source of dynamic movement instead of a chaser of nouns. It matters.

See The Elegance

659. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Bryan and I talked tonight about the elegance of design. He told me that many years ago he became interested in the Golden Mean, which led him to research the Fibonacci sequence, which led to an interest in eclipses. He became fascinated by the simple elegance and paradox of astronomer’s capacity to precisely determine when an eclipse would happen and the impossibility (due to weather) of predicting if we would be able to see it. The Golden Mean and the Fibonacci sequence are simple equations that, when replicated, maintain the integrity of design throughout very complex structures and calculations. They are fractals. Much of classic architecture is based solely on the Golden Mean. Much of what you will learn in contemporary art school about composition is based on the Golden Mean.

Our physical bodies are complex structures based on a simple cell design. We are at the same time miracles of complexity and simplicity; more space than solid, more water than mineral, reducible to a small pile of dust and yet expansive beyond all imagining. We are elegant in our design, as nature only designs elegant forms from the same simple notion and very simple (yet complex) building blocks.

Our thoughts run according to the same principle. I once read a statistic that showed that we think mostly the same thoughts each day, day after day (don’t ask me how you measure such a thing….). We build our thought on a few replicable principles and then go holographic with them. A few simple assumptions will lock you in prison or set you free. Check out the pattern of the story you tell yourself each day. Are you locking yourself in or opening the cage? I realized years ago that the epicenter of my coaching work – or any other form my whacky work takes – was really about story change. I often say this to groups: change your story and you will change your world. They mostly respond, “It can’t be that easy!” or “Pie in the sky!” I didn’t say it would be easy – we are after all deeply invested in our stories; we are great fighters for our limitations. The wrong assumption is that it need be complex. We are elegant in our design, even down to our repetitive thoughts. Change the simplicity and you will some day be capable of manifesting an entirely new soaring cathedral of thought.

Open And Experience

658. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Walking through a driving rain in downtown Seattle, I had my hood up and eyes down and stepped into a flock of pigeons just as a bus passed spooking the entire pigeon squadron into taking flight – straight at me. I was suddenly and completely engulfed in a swoosh of wings and riot. I don’t know why but I closed my eyes, not for protection, but because I wanted to feel the experience of so many wings flapping around me. The sensation was as if being lifted, stirred and then returned to the ground. After having so many crow attacks I am generally skittish when birds fly at my face; my first reaction is to duck and cover. Not today. For some reason (that is beyond my capacity to reason), rather than close and protect, I opened and experienced. Lift, stir, gentle return to the ground. “The pigeons took me with them,” I thought as I opened my eyes and laughed.

I flipped back my hood and looked up into the rain. The pigeons vanished and I was getting soaked and awakened. It was as if I left this plane of reality for a moment and needed a cold splash of rain to bring me back. It was just a few days ago, upon Marilyn’s request, that I went outside to pick a fight with the crows and instead of having a good crow bout I ended up doing the same thing, hood back, looking into the sky as the rain soaked and cleansed me of my dark mood. This time, staring into a steel grey sky, rain running down my cheeks and off my forehead, I remembered a phrase that I read this morning from Thom Hartmann’s book, The Prophet’s Way: “You must behave as if your every act, even the smallest, impacted a thousand people for a hundred generations. Because it does.”

I stared into the sky surprised at my reaction to the birds and asked myself, “What ripple would I send through a hundred generations if my first response to any situation was to open and experience rather than close and protect myself?” And, an even better question followed, “How different would I be in the world if I lived open to any experience?” Isn’t that another way of saying, “be present to what is?” Flipping my hood back up I discovered in a chilly rush that my hood was filled with water that poured down my back so I took flight a second time, howling and dancing my own version of the pigeon launch, chanting, “open, open, open…!” Of this I am certain: a hundred generations from now they will most likely still be laughing!

Think “I Can!”

657. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I am in the last few days of living in the apartment I have occupied for nearly a decade. And, because I see the move coming, I am aware of my patterns and rituals, the unconscious actions that have come to define my normal, my everyday. For instance, while unloading the dishwasher this afternoon, I was amused by my automatic movement, spoons, forks and knives into the drawer, pivot, dishes up above, cups one at a time to the hooks above the counter, straighten the rug. I have repeated these actions so many times that they are worn into me, paths through the woods of my life. I appreciate them today because I will soon be without them; I will soon be awkward in the creation of new patterns and intentional in creating new rituals of definition.

I realize that thoughts are like these rituals. Thoughts are patterns that define us. If you think, “I can,” then you certainly will. If you think, “I can’t” then you will wear that pattern, too. I see my impending step out of my patterns as an opportunity to create new patterns, especially new thought patterns. There are rituals of thinking that I am ready to release. A new friend recently told me of her solstice ritual: friends meet around a bonfire and write on slips of paper what they are ready to let go. Then, they commit the slips to the fire. My move is like a bonfire. My patterns are now written on a slip of paper and in a few days I will commit them to the fire on not-knowing. I will then be free to create new patterns of thinking, new rituals of belief.

It is the time of year for resolutions and, like most well intended resolutions they fall prey to the groove of old patterns. Everything begins with a thought; repetitive thought is a pattern, investment in the pattern is a ritual that defines the life you choose to live. If you are not living the life that you desire, if your patterns are thought-prisons or somehow keeping you small, join me in creating new rituals of definition. You need not leave your apartment or your mate; you need not lock the door and walk away from your life. You need only, one day at a time, one step at a time, create a new pattern. My bonfire friend is now saying to herself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,….” And, one small step at a time, one small thought at a time, she will. And, so will I.

Shine

656. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I woke up this morning thinking about lights under a bushel; hiding your light. Now, I’m not really a bible guy. I think there are many paths up the mountain and the higher you go the more distinct and individual is your path – and the more universal are your revelations. The path is yours and the recognition is oneness. So, it always piques my curiosity when I have a distinct image pop into my noggin, especially in this season steeped in metaphor and with the portent of transformation.

A week ago I put out an offer for 10 free coaching sessions and was delighted when over 30 people responded. I decided to try and honor each request. I have been bah-humbug during this holiday, looking for some way to reconnect with the deeper meaning and rituals of this season; I wanted to create a ritual for myself that was truly a gift of giving and receiving. I bumbled into my ritual with these calls. Each was rich and warm and magical. Each call in one way or another was about removing the bushel from the light – these amazing brilliant, beautiful people recognizing and desiring to offer without inhibition their gift to the world. I was more than once moved to tears at the yearning and courage and simple perseverance of their impulse to life. In every case, they wanted to share their light. Think about that for a minute. Isn’t that true of you and every person you pass on the street? The impulse to offer yourself and your gifts without inhibition is at the core of each of us. As Joe once said, “Our impulse is to wholeness.” What would it take for you to remove the bushel and fully share your light? I ask myself that question, too.

I realized that the light-under-the-bushel image was actually my wish – for myself and for you. If you are hiding it is a good bet that you think you will be judged. If you are hiding it is a good bet that you think your light is not worthy. Or, perhaps you have invested in a mistaken idea of humble. In any case, why are you blunting the light? I no longer believe in angry judgmental gods (they seem particularly human to me – gods worth worshiping certainly must live beyond the fields of judgment and selection); these notions live at the heart of separation and the need to hide. My wish for us in this new era is to share our light, without inhibition or editor, to throw away the debate of worth, to know unequivocally that the whole of nature needs what you bring, how you bring it, and masking it robs us all of the magnitude of our collective brilliance. Put down the bushel. Show up for me and I promise I will show up for you.