Want The Sunrise

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

This morning I watched the sun rise from the top deck of the ferry. It was a clear calm summer morning, warm even before the sun peaked over the mountains. I was alone on the deck to witness the dawn and wondered why the other passengers weren’t up there with me.

The ferry was packed which was unusual for an early Saturday morning but there was a marathon in the city and most of my fellow commuters were runners and their families. As I boarded I passed groups stretching, others were applying icy hot patches, most were checking their gear and making sure they had what they needed for the run. They were too busy preparing to pay attention to the sun. The main deck was frenetic with carbo-loading and pre-run anticipation!

As chaotic as it was below, the upper deck was equally as quiet. The sky was electric with velvet blues and hot oranges morphing to pink and purple as the sun rolled into view. It made me quiet inside. There was nothing more important to me in that moment than being present for the start of another day. I wanted to know what it is to sing the sun up, to welcome it back, to live within the consciousness that pays attention. It was utterly magical to be on the water, standing at the bow of the ferry, crossing the Sound, the summer morning air rushing through me as the heat of the morning sun reached and washed over me. I drank deeply and knew that this morning would be one of the moments I would remember on that future day when my life flashed before my eyes.

I realized as I left the ferry amidst a throng of runners that I am running a different kind of race. Many years ago I was a runner. I ran to feel alive. I ran to find my limits. I ran to stay ahead of the pain. I ran as a meditation. Now, I am alive and my life is a meditation. I no longer need to find my limits because I’m fairly certain I create them. With great intention and even greater dedication I walk slowly so I can see. I have raced through too much of my life trying to get to starting lines and finish lines. I no longer care about starts or finishes, I want to be in it and not merely move through it. I want the sunrise, the feel of the breeze off the water and the new sun on my face.

Listen And Be Glad

825. 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 in a funk. There was no particular reason that I could attach for the cloud of grey that wrapped itself around my mind –except perhaps the cloud of grey that wrapped itself around the city. It was just one of those days.

I worked all morning to change my energy and lift my spirits but the gloom persisted so I finally stopped resisting it and decided to let it settle in. It was a good day to be in a low mood as I spent much of the afternoon in a darkened room watching investor pitches. I didn’t need to relate to anyone or have bright ideas. I stewed in my grey juices and tried hard to stay focused on the pitches.

Early in the evening I walked back across town. The sun came out while I was in the darkened room so I was moving slowly feeling my body soak up the sun. As I passed the train station I saw a woman sitting on the curb. She was huddled into a tight ball with her forehead resting on her knees, her bag of worldly possessions tucked beneath her legs. Something about her made me stop. The voice in my head shouted, “Ask her if she needs help!” I hesitated. I turned to walk away and the voice shouted louder, “Go back and ask that woman if she needs help!” I stopped. Once again I turned away. I was gloomy and didn’t want to be responsible for another person. This time the voice was adamant, “GO NOW!”

I approached the woman slowly and asked, “Are you alright.” She slowly raised her head from her knees and smiled broadly. She was glowing. She didn’t need my help. She turned her face to the sun and said, “Oh yes! I’m so grateful for the sun and just enjoying being alive. Aren’t you?” I nodded my head. She smiled and thanked me and I walked on, dizzy at the disjoint between what I expected and what I found.

My gloom was gone. It was as if she’d reached in to me and diffused the gloom. Instead of needing my help, she helped me. The voice inside my head smirked, “Now, aren’t you glad that you listened?”

See A Sentinel

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

Each day as I walk across the city I pass many, many homeless people. There are four that have caught my curiosity because I’ve come to believe that they are sentinels for the city. All four are otherworldly, calm and very still. Two are women and two are men. They keep watch. Each has a specific post; they are at their post no matter what time of day or night that I pass by. They are diligent in their guardianship.

To the east (facing west) is a woman. She sits very still beneath the marquee of the Cinerama. She sits upon her worldly possessions, arms wrapped around her knees, a slight smile that I read as contentment on her face. She wears sunglasses day and night. She watches. Occasionally, she rises to clean the sidewalk in front of her. She gathers food scraps and feeds the birds and then returns to her post.

In the south, on the far south side of the bricks of Pioneer Square, a man stands watch. He is directly beneath a tree, inconspicuous, texting. Each time I pass, regardless of the time of day, he is texting. His long graying beard parts in the middle flowing around his hands and phone. His communications are steady. He is not in a hurry. His eyes never rise from his phone. He stands his post sending records of his thought. I do not know what he sends into the world but I hope it is poetry inspired by the world that flows around him.

To the west is a man who sweeps the bridge to the ferry terminal. He sits on a crate next to a shopping cart filled with bags of his possessions. He holds vigil for commuters. I’ve passed him dozens of times and he’s never asked for change. He sits. He watches. When the walkway is littered, he stands, pulls his broom from the cart, and sweeps clean the walkway before returning to his crate. There is ease to his movement and clarity to his task. He holds vigil. He cleans.

To the north is the woman who lives in the covered bus stop. Her possessions occupy one half of the bench and she sits on the other half. She is plugged into music. She holds in both hands an old Walkman. I’ve never seen her without her ear buds in and her music playing. Sometimes she will rise and dance a slow dance of invocation. And then she returns to her bench and sits very still, watching and listening.

The east cares for the birds. The south scribes the flow of life. The west clears the way for the commuters. The north invokes the spirit. Each holds a special vigil unique and precious to the life of a city that considers them invisible. They are stillness in the mad rush of the city. Until I recognized them as sentinels I wanted more for them, whispering prayers of protection for them. Today I realized that they have what most of us lack: they are still. They are clear and carry no illusions about belonging. Their tasks are distinct and self-appointed. I suspect they whisper prayers of protection for us.

Get Messy. Get Human.

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

It shocked me when she said it. “Roles are clean. People are messy.” On the surface it doesn’t sound very radical. However, spend a moment considering how many roles you play in your life, how often you pretend things aren’t messy, how often you sand the edges off of what you think (to the point of saying nothing) and you’ll find yourself standing in a large pile of radical revelations. Who are you separate from the roles you assume? And, how does that impact what is yours to do or yours to say?

Her follow-up question almost killed me: “What would it take for you to put down all those nice clean roles and just be a messy person?”

It is messy to say what you want to say. It is messy to say what you need to say. It is messy to say what you think. It is messy to disagree, to have an opinion, to defend an unpopular point of view. It is messy to say, “We can do better. This is not right.” Go against the grain. Break the chain of easy mindless action. Roles are constructed on the “should” principle. Roles are necessary to know where you belong in the herd. Stepping out of the role is scary because it reveals the person behind the curtain.

Recently I’ve been learning that innovation is the blossom of disruption. Steve Blank writes that entrepreneurs need to learn to navigate and thrive in a constant state of disruption. Disruption opens eyes, disturbs patterns, shakes the complacent awake. The vice president of sales will probably not cause disruption. The bank president will sustain the status quo. The teacher or principal are not likely to stir-the-pot as disruption will threaten their paychecks. Roles are clean.

Her third question dropped me to my knees: “Why are you so protected against being a person?”

“What is it,” she asked in conclusion, “what is it about the messiness of being real that makes you seek safety in your role?”

Root And Reach

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

Here’s a simple image that came to me from Megan-the-brilliant. She and I have been having an extended conversation about roots and hope. She told me that roots are filled with hope. The green plant that grows from the hope-root is an expression of faith. Hope reaches into the earth providing a sturdy basis for faith to reach into the sky.

Both are nourished in their reaching. Hope is fed from reaching deep into the warm, fecund earth. Faith is fed bountifully by opening its green leaves to the sun and drinking deep draughts of light. The earth nourishment is released into the sky while the sunlight is pulled into the earth via the hope-root.

One cannot live without the other. They are, in fact, not separate even though it would seem that they reach in opposite directions and are nourished from seemingly different sources. The separations do not exist. The root-hope and plant-faith are in fact a single organism – as are the earth and sky. The separation lives only in our language and necessity to distinguish the parts.

Look Up!

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

Once, many years ago, Patti and I circled a restaurant for several minutes looking for the door in. We literally walked the entire circumference of the building without finding the door. On our second lap around the building, right in front of us, as if it appeared from nowhere, was a very large medieval-style wooden door complete with iron handles and hinges. It was a door that was very hard to miss. We laughed when we saw it.

This past week was a hailstorm of revelations for me. I had more ah-ha moments last week than I have had in the last decade. I remembered not being able to see that large hard-to-miss-door this week as I saw for the first time a metaphoric door that was equally hard to miss but somehow it’s taken me a lifetime to see. It seems that all of my life I’ve been seeking the door to wholeness. I’ve been hunting for the portal to full expression. I imagined that to find the door I had to release a fear. I assumed that I had to invite the dragon lurking behind the door to tea and make peace with my past. I assumed that I’d find the door in a dark place so I’ve been looking down. I’ve peered into every well. I’ve walked into every cave. I’ve turned over every rock. This week, I gave up the search and looked up.

In looking up I saw the door.

The door that I sought was not in the dark but in the light. It turns out that the portal to flight is in the sky, not on the ground. It is not a monster that I needed to confront. It was a recognition I needed to have. Re-cognition. Like all people, I was born knowing how to fly. Like most people, flying got me into a lot of trouble early on so I convinced myself that ground walking was a better and safer path. No wonder I was confused! I’d done such a good job of keeping my eyes on the ground that I forgot where the soaring happens. I done such a good job of erasing my memory of flying that I sought what I already possessed.

I laughed when I saw it, just as I laughed that day with Patti as we circled a building looking for a door that was impossible to miss. This door, too, has been there all along. I closed it a long time ago. I looked away from it. I tried hard to forget it. And then, when the shadow of flight refused to leave me, I began searching. And searching. And searching. I’m so grateful that I got tired, gave up and sat down. Suspending the search, looking to the sky in frustration, imagine my surprise to find a door and an invitation to fly through it.

Lean And Rest

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

[continued from 811, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19]

Bali Journal Excerpt #10
At lunch, Rai told me that he also had no religion and then he corrected himself. “My religion is goodness,” he said. “Dharma,” he added. “In my religion you only need do your action and god will determine the result.”

In Bali, it is common to see a woman making an offering in the middle of a busy intersection, motorbikes flying by her. Her offering is normal to them. Each morning a new flower appears in my room. I never see who places it there. In a crowded temple, a man I have never before seen leans on me to rest. It has been a long night and he is very tired. I am filled with warm gratitude for what he teaches me.

This is the final excerpt from the journals. It is the one that touched me the most almost 13 years after writing the words. I realized that I am still filled with warm gratitude. I realized that my religion to be goodness. I am learning to do my action and let go of trying to determine the result. This, especially, has been my lesson during this long winter of wandering.