But The Luggage Tag Says (3)~ Early Morning Thoughts

In my last post, I mentioned that at one point I was working for a resident theater company. I had directed several productions while there and they were very successful (even award winning). There was a script that had been around for several years. Each year it would be considered and for various reasons not included in the season. It was a play with a delightful premise and was quite amusing as well. I finally prevailed in committee and the play was added and I was to direct it. As a premier (premiere?) I was sure that there would be no problems with either the script, casting or production. Quoting from the last post:

I spent a tremendous amount of time with the script – many meetings with designers and such, and would then plunge off into what I expected the production to be like and look like. (are you paying attention to the pronouns and expectations here?) Rehearsals went quite well, and I was quiet pleased with the result. There were a few nagging questions from various people associated with the theater, but I was convinced the final result would answer all doubters. The show had spectacle, humor, tenseness, drama and a happy ending. I had even added a number of abstract moments in the show (something that was only hinted at in the script) and expected that the audience would enjoy and follow along with them.”

I was sure that my expectations were going to be fulfilled the way I intended. There would be amazing reactions from all concerned. There were reactions, to be sure. However, they were not what I intended nor, in some cases, wanted. I ran headlong into the wall of expecting answers according to my expectations. While not a failure, it was not a success either.

I’ve written before about my non-relationship relationship with ZZ. This is probably the most personal of the false expectations trap. Not only did I have false expectations, but I had various people at various times point out that my expectations were false and that I was headed for serious problems. But along with the false expectation I had added yet another luggage tag:

2) Fantasy travel: A very weak color, which leads away from the bright color of reality.

I was so sure that everything was going to turn out as I expected and desired, I literally decorated my luggage of life with various tags – the one of fantasy travel being quite prominent. And for an incredible number of years, I clung tightly to that tag – believing that ZZ would change, that our entire lives would change. And it never happened. But, of course, I had invested to much into the false itinerary, I became overwhelmed by the idea of making it a reality and making the journey fit what I felt it should be. And long the journey, I lost myself. I fell into several major traps because my expectations were not grounded for flight school as they should have been.

My identity is not a by-product of activity.

Even at my … ahem … age, life can be quite full of activity. But none of these defines who I am, and what journey I’m taking. I can be going and doing various tasks all day and sometimes into the evening, but these are simply tasks – things to accomplish. None of these are really who I am.

My identity is not a by-product of relationship.

I learned this painfully with ZZ. And, of course, still have to have an occasional refresher course as my journey continues. That’s why the quote that a fellow blogger Nodrin King left me is so powerful and true. I have to develop who I am. I have to take the journey of finding myself and becoming comfortable with myself. And as the quote puts it at the end – My relationships can be a by-product of how I view my identity and myself.

“Happiness is not something that someone else, like a lover, can give to us. We have to achieve it for ourselves. And the only way to do so is by developing our character and capacity as human beings; by fully maximizing our potential … What is important now is to work hard at developing yourselves into truly wonderful human beings. Ultimately, the relationships you form are a reflection of your own state of life.”

–more on all this later

But The Luggage Tag Says (2)~ Early Morning Thoughts

Nodrin King (from A Flat With A View) left me a quote that added to what I had been thinking about as far as one of the luggage tags I’ve been dealing with …”Happiness is not something that someone else, like a lover, can give to us. We have to achieve it for ourselves. And the only way to do so is by developing our character and capacity as human beings; by fully maximizing our potential … What is important now is to work hard at developing yourselves into truly wonderful human beings. Ultimately, the relationships you form are a reflection of your own state of life.”…. The last sentence is so true. And he’s figured out part of where I’m heading with some of these postings.

I had been thinking about the false luggage tag of expecting every answer to be according to my expectations.

To start this, I want to take a story from the Old Testament. Regardless of personal belief, there are some stories that are universal. It’s about a royal with a big head. His name is Naaman. Now, he was quite an important person – he was a warrior, a highly regarded leader, and his life could be considered a success. There was just one “little” problem to make his happiness complete. He suffered from leprosy. No matter how great a warrior or leader he was, his life was headed toward the leper colony – a total outcast. Now, amidst his spoils of war was a young girl that offered a solution. There were prophets in Israel who could and would cure Naaman. Of course, Naaman immediately petitioned the King of Syria to take the “cure” in Israel.

The King of Syria was more than happy to oblige and sent a letter to the King of Israel (along with a small payment for services rendered). Of course, the King of Israel (KOI) was more than glad to receive the money for the treasury, but making sure that a major player of Syria returned home healed of leprosy – that was asking the impossible. So much so, that the KOI began tearing his clothes, and wailing at the top of his lungs (That usually happens when the right message has been giving to the wrong person, but that’s another story altogether).

By this time, the entire household was in full hysteria mode – after all, failure to cure Naaman meant failure to continue in the lifestyle they had become accustomed to … or perhaps even failure to continue living. The wild cries of “OMG, what will we do now” finally reached the ears of Elisha. He sent a message to the KOI suggesting that he stop with the clothes tearing and yelling at the top of his lungs, and send Mr. Naaman his direction. Relieved to have someone else that would answer for failure – Naaman’s major parade was sent Elisha’s direction. Of course, being the important personage he was, Naaman fully expected a major show for his benefit. No such show happened. He didn’t even get to meet the prophet personally. The gate was opened by a servant who merely informed the exalted Naaman that he was to dip himself in the Jordan seven times. And with that – the servant closed the door. And life inside went on as usual.

Outside the gate, things were anything but usual. Naaman proceeded to have a major fit. I’m sure there were incredible threats hurled at everyone – including the King of Israel. After all, he had just been humiliated by this … this – at that point, he probably ran out of words – or at least words that were recorded. He was leaving and leaving NOW! Why was he going to leave without being healed? Because he had a false expectation of what was going to happen. He expected a grand show … perhaps even television specials to follow. He was expecting a major event. He wanted it how he wanted it!! Instead (although not exactly the purpose of this post – but worthwhile anyway) he was handed the total prosaic problem of obedience.

Finally a small one of Naaman’s group that was trooping around with him , managed to get his attention and told him that if he’d been asked to do something weird, amazing or even appear on a reality television show, he would have done it right? Naaman appears to have simply stood there with his elegant and important mouth open. The little one continued by basically telling Naaman 1) he needed to drop the grand expectation and 2) he really didn’t have anything to lose – and a healing to gain by doing something completely simple.

In other words, he had to leave the false expectation of what he thought would happen and go with what could happen.

An old saying (which I used to hate): The definition of insanity is repeating exactly the same actions over and over and expecting different results.

On a more personal note, I had the opportunity to direct a premier of a play for the theater company I was working for. It was a delightful script – although not without its problems, but nothing (I believed) I couldn’t handle. I had had several very solid (and award winning) successes with this company, and was convinced I could “do it.” I spent a tremendous amount of time with the script – many meetings with designers and such, and would then plunge off into what I expected the production to be like and look like. (are you paying attention to the pronouns and expectations here?) Rehearsals went quite well, and I was quiet pleased with the result. There were a few nagging questions from various people associated with the theater, but I was convinced the final result would answer all doubters. The show had spectacle, humor, tenseness, drama and a happy ending. I had even added a number of abstract moments in the show (something that was only hinted at in the script) and expected that the audience would enjoy and follow along with them.

As Paul Harvey might say: The rest of this story tomorrow.

–fractal painting of simplicity:
–center of universe art

But The Luggage Tag Says ~ Early Morning Thoughts

When I started thinking about excess baggage cluttering up life, I realized that 1) there is a difference between baggage and luggage, and that 2) I want to keep the luggage and get rid of the baggage. Luggage is what makes us – well – us. Personally, it’s what is at the core of my being. The centrality of who I am. Sometimes it may get a little clouded or even dented – but it’s still there. and just like those beautiful expensive pieces of luggage – I want to keep it around me. Baggage, on the other had, is all the “stuff” that we drag around causing excess weight, heartache and other problems. Excess baggage can get in the way of living, loving and just being around other people.

The other night I mentioned an actress/teacher that I personally know. She spends quite a bit of time traveling speaking to conferences and meetings. However, for quite awhile when she first started traveling, it was joked that her luggage was going to more exotic places then she was. When she would arrive at her correct destination – the luggage would be off on a vacation of its own, sometimes not to return for quite some time. Finally, it was discovered that she had not been removing the old luggage tags when she started a new trip. There were pieces from various trips still attached to the suitcases much as barnacles attach to a ship. And therein was part of the problem. Those incomplete tags were sometimes seen as the correct tag – and off the luggage would go to an entirely different destination.

I’ve discovered that if I want my luggage (not my baggage) to be with me, I’ve got to deal with the tags and make sure that we (my luggage and I) are going on this journey of life together. And there are several “old” baggage/luggage tags I’m going to have to get rid of. (And I must make sure that baggage isn’t trying to pass itself off as luggage either.)

1) the old baggage/luggage tags of false expectations (that lovely rosy colored tag with just a hint of brightness that can lead to real chaos)

It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.
–Hunter Thompson

Disappointments often stem from unrealistic expectations. Take Christmas for example. When I was growing up a Christmas list was always expected. I would carefully write out what I wanted and then would dream for days about what I just KNEW I was going to get. Alas, the reality never seemed to match the list. Now, adults might not have a Christmas list as such, but how many have the assumption that everyone can, should and will enjoy a wonderful holiday season and gifts and good behaviors will abound.

When I traveled to India, I was not going there to teach I was in a sense running away. (I’ll write more on that another time). I traveled to New York, and then took Pan Am 002 (Pan Am 001 went west) and flew to India…a place I had never been. My expectations were very high. I knew all about India – from Rudyard Kipling, of course. I knew that the New Delhi airport was going to continually hacked out of the jungle by natives with the help of elephants, everything was going to be made from rosewood and the air would be pungent with saffron, sandalwood and laced with the scent of roses. (to say nothing of all the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’s that would be there being sweet and friendly) Now there was a set of serious false expectations. 1) We landed in what I thought was a desert, 2) the buildings looked as if they were about to fall down or crumble at any time and 3) there was definitely a pungent smell at the airport – nothing like the smell of jet fuel and burning oil at four o’clock in the morning after a 30+ hour flight.

Sometimes relationships fare no better. Somehow believing that no matter what: everything was going to be made from rosewood and the air would be pungent with saffron, sandalwood and laced with the scent of roses. And when I discover that the rose has thorns, or that the air is NOT laced with roses but other scents …

So now begins the process (ongoing process that is) of looking at what is a false expectation and what I’m going to do about it. Give up on expectations? Never in this lifetime. I know people who have basically no expectations – and you know what? They are never disappointed, but they don’t have much enjoyment out of life and living either.

Some people have adopted the part of the song (I believe it was by the Rolling Stones) that says: “You can’t always get what you want”. I like to remind people that the next lines “But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
–more to come

–final picture by dilekt

The Happy Prince (Conclusion)

This is the last part of the story ~

The Happy Prince

All the next day he sat on the Prince’s shoulder and told him stories of what he had seen in strange lands. He told him of the red ibises, who stand in long rows on the banks of the Nile and catch gold fish in their beaks; of the Sphinx, who is as old as the world itself, and lives in the desert, and knows everything; of the great green snake that sleeps in a palm-tree and has twenty priests to feed it with honey-cakes; and of the pygmies, who sail over a big lake on large flat leaves and are always at war with the butterflies.

“Dear little Swallow,” said the Prince, “you tell me of marvelous things, but more marvelous than anything is the suffering of men and of women. There is no mystery so great as misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, and tell me what you see there.”

So the swallow flew over the great city and saw the rich making merry in their beautiful houses, while the beggars were sitting at the gates. He flew into dark lanes and saw the white faces of starving children looking out listlessly at the black streets. Under the archway of a bridge, two little boys were lying in one another’s arms to try and keep themselves warm. “How hungry we are!” they said. “You must not lie here,” shouted the watchman, and they wandered out into the rain.

Then he flew back and told the Prince what he had seen.

“I am covered with fine gold,” said the Prince, “you must take it off, leaf by leaf, and give it to my poor; the living always think that gold can make them happy.”

Leaf after leaf of the fine gold the Swallow picked off, till the Happy Prince looked quite dull and grey. Leaf after leaf of the fine gold he brought to the poor, and the children’s faces grew rosier, and they laughed and played games in the street. “We have bread now!” they cried.

Then the snow came, and after the snow came the frost. The streets looked as if they were made of silver, they were so bright and glistening; long icicles like crystal daggers hung down from the eaves of the houses, everybody went about in furs; and the little boys wore scarlet caps and skated on the ice.

The poor little swallow grew colder and colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he loved him too well. He picked up crumbs outside the baker’s door when the baker was not looking, and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.

But at last he knew that he was going to die. He had just strength to fly up to the Prince’s shoulder once more. “Good-bye, dear Prince!” he murmured, “will you let me kiss your hand?”

“I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “you have stayed too long here; but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you.”

“It is not to Egypt that I am going,” said the swallow. “I am going to the house of death. Death is the brother of sleep, is he not?”

And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips and fell down dead at his feet.

At that moment a curious crack sounded inside the statue, as if something had broken. The fact is that the leaden heart had snapped right in two. It certainly was a dreadfully hard frost.

Early the next morning the mayor was walking in the square below in company with the town councilors. As they passed the column, he looked up at the statue: “Dear me! how shabby the Happy Prince looks!” he said.

“How shabby indeed!” cried the town councilors, who always agreed with the mayor, and they went up to look at it.

“The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer,” said the mayor; “in fact, he is little better than a beggar!”

“Little better than a beggar,” said the town councilors.

“And here is actually a dead bird at his feet!” continued the mayor. “We must really issue a proclamation that birds are not allowed to die here.” And the town clerk made a note of the suggestion.

So they pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince. They melted the statue in a furnace, and the mayor held a meeting of the corporation to decide what was to be done with the metal. “We must have another statue, of course,” he said, “and it shall be a statue of myself.”

“Of myself,” said each of the town councilors, and they quarreled. When I last heard of them, they were quarreling still.

“What a strange thing!” said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. “This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away.” So they threw it on a dust-heap where the dead swallow was also lying.

“Bring me the two most precious things in the city,” said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird.

“You have rightly chosen,” said God, “for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me.”
–Oscar Wilde
(slightly and (hopefully) gently edited)

The Happy Prince (chapter 2) ~ Nightime Thoughts

Here is the second of three parts of the story I started reprinting ~

The Happy Prince ~

When day broke, he flew down to the river and had a bath. “To-night I go to Egypt,” said the swallow, and he was in high spirits at the prospect. He visited all the public monuments and sat a long time on top of the church steeple.

When the moon rose, he flew back to the Happy Prince. “Have you any commissions for Egypt?” he cried; “I am just starting.”

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “will you not stay with me one night longer?”

“I am waited for in Egypt,” answered the swallow. “To-morrow my friends will fly up to the Second Cataract. The river-horse couches there among the bulrushes, and on a great granite throne sits the god Memnon. All night long he watches the stars, and when the morning star shines, he utters one cry of joy, and then he is silent. At noon the yellow lions come down to the water’s edge to drink. They have eyes like green beryls, and their roar is louder than the roar of the cataract.”

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “far away across the city I see a young man in a garret. He is leaning over a desk covered with papers, and in a tumbler by his side there is a bunch of withered violets. He is trying to finish a play for the director of the theater, but he is too cold to write any more. There is no fire in the grate, and hunger has made him faint.”

“I will wait with you one night longer,” said the swallow, who really had a good heart. “Shall I take him another ruby?”

“Alas! I have no ruby now,” said the Prince; “my eyes are all that I have left. They are made of rare sapphires, which were brought out of India a thousand years ago. Pluck out one of them and take it to him. He will sell it to the jeweler, and buy food and firewood, and finish his play.”

“Dear Prince,” said the swallow, “I cannot do that”; and he began to weep.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “do as I command you.”

So the swallow plucked out the Prince’s eye and flew away to the student’s garret. It was easy enough to get in, as there was a hole in the roof. Through this he darted, and came into the room. The young man had his head buried in his hands, so he did not hear the flutter of the bird’s wings, and when he looked up, he found the beautiful sapphire lying on the withered violets.

“I am beginning to be appreciated,” he cried; “this is from some great admirer. Now I can finish my play,” and he looked quite happy.

The next day the swallow flew down to the harbor. He sat on the mast of a large vessel and watched the sailors hauling big chests out of the hold with ropes. “I am going to Egypt!” cried the swallow, but nobody minded, and when the moon rose, he flew back to the Happy Prince.

“I am come to bid you good-bye,” he cried.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “will you not stay with me one night longer?”

“It is winter,” answered the swallow, “and the chill snow will soon be here. In Egypt the sun is warm on the green palm-trees, and the crocodiles lie in the mud and look lazily about them. I will never forget you, and next spring I will bring you back two beautiful jewels in place of those you have given away. The ruby shall be redder than a red rose, and the sapphire shall be as blue as the great sea.”

“In the square below,” said the Happy Prince, “there stands a little match-girl. She has let her matches fall in the gutter, and they are all spoiled. Her father will beat her if she does not bring home some money, and she is crying. She has no shoes or stockings, and her little head is bare. Pluck out my other eye, and give it to her, and her father will not beat her.”

“I will stay with you one night longer,” said the swallow, “but I cannot pluck out your eye. You would be quite blind then.”

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “do as I command you.”

So he plucked out the Prince’s other eye and darted down with it. He swooped past the match-girl and slipped the jewel into the palm of her hand. “What a lovely bit of glass,” cried the little girl; and she ran home, laughing.

Then the swallow came back to the Prince. “You are blind now,” he said, “so I will stay with you always.”

“No, little Swallow,” said the poor Prince, “you must go away to Egypt.”

“I will stay with you always,” said the swallow, and he slept at the Prince’s feet.
-Oscar Wilde
(slightly and (hopefully) gently edited)

The Happy Prince – (Chapter One) ` Early Morning Thoughts

When I was growing up, the cabinet record player was an important part of the house, and got quite a bit of use. It was where I was introduced to some great singers (Marlene Dietrich was NOT allowed until much later) and orchestras. It is not of those that I have the strongest memories however, it was the stories. I have some memories that, even after all these years, are as strong as when I first heard them. I was trying to find some information about St. Patrick today when I ran across this story. As I started reading it – I admit – my eyes welled up and I was instantly transported back to the first time I heard this tale. For those who want to know, it was recorded by Bing Crosby and Orson Welles – released on Decca records and you can look up the date yourself! (Of course, I was only one year old when it was released!)

Did these hearing stories such as these over and over have anything to do with my love of reading and theater? I have no doubt. What are some of your earliest memories like this?

I also decided not to put pictures with the story and invite you to let your mind give the images that accompany the tale.

The Happy Prince ~

HIGH above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt.

He was very much admired indeed. “He is as beautiful as a weathercock,” remarked one of the town councilors who wished to gain a reputation for having artistic tastes; “only not quite so useful,” he added, fearing lest people should think him unpractical, which he really was not.

“Why can’t you be like the Happy Prince?” asked a sensible mother of her little boy who was crying for the moon. “The Happy Prince never dreams of crying for anything.”

“I am glad there is some one in the world who is quite happy,” muttered a disappointed man as he gazed at the wonderful statue.

“He looks just like an angel,” said the charity children as they came out of the cathedral in their bright scarlet cloaks and their clean white pinafores.

“How do you know?” said the Mathematical Master, “you have never seen one.”

“Ah! but we have, in our dreams,” answered the children; and the Mathematical Master frowned and looked very severe, for he did not approve of children dreaming.

One night there flew over the city a little swallow. His friends had gone away to Egypt six weeks before, but he had stayed behind. After they had gone he felt lonely.

All day long he flew, and at night-time he arrived at the city. “Where shall I put up?” he said; “I hope the town has made preparations.”

Then he saw the statue on the tall column. “I will put up there,” he cried; “it is a fine position with plenty of fresh air.” So he alighted just between the feet of the Happy Prince.

“I have a golden bedroom,” he said softly to himself as he looked round, and he prepared to go to sleep; but just as he was putting his head under his wing, a large drop of water fell on him. “What a curious thing!” he cried. “There is not a single cloud in the sky, the stars are quite clear and bright, and yet it is raining.”

Then another drop fell.

“What is the use of a statue if it cannot keep the rain off?” he said; “I must look for a good chimney-pot,” and he determined to fly away.

But before he had opened his wings, a third drop fell, and he looked up and saw — ah! what did he see?

The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled with tears, and tears were running down his golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in the moonlight that the little swallow was filled with pity.

“Who are you?” he said.

“I am the Happy Prince.”

“Why are you weeping then?” asked the swallow; “you have quite drenched me.”

“When I was alive and had a human heart,” answered the statue, “I did not know what tears were, for I lived in a palace , where sorrow was not allowed to enter. Round the garden ran a very lofty wall, but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything about me was so beautiful. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and happy indeed I was, if pleasure be happiness. So I lived, and so I died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and though my heart is made of lead, yet I cannot choose but weep.”

“What, is he not solid gold?” said the swallow to himself. He was too polite to make any personal remarks out loud.

“Far away,” continued the statue in a low musical voice, “far away in a little street, there is a poor house. One of the windows is open, and through it I can see a woman seated at a table. Her face is thin and worn, and she has coarse red hands, all pricked by the needle, for she is a seamstress. She is embroidering passion-flowers on a satin gown for the loveliest of the Queen’s maids-of-honor to wear at the next Court-ball. In a bed in the corner of the room, her little boy is lying ill. He has a fever, and is asking for oranges. His mother has nothing to give him but river water, so he is crying. Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow, will you not bring her the ruby out of my sword-hilt? My feet are fastened to this pedestal and I cannot move.”

“I am waited for in Egypt,” said the Swallow. “My friends are flying up and down the Nile and talking to the large lotus-flowers. Soon they will go to sleep in the tomb of the great King.

“Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince, “will you not stay with me for one night and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty, and the mother so sad.”

“I don’t think I like boys,” answered the swallow. “Last summer, when I was staying on the river, there were boys who were always throwing stones at me.”

But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the little swallow was sorry. “It is very cold here,” he said; “but I will stay with you for one night and be your messenger.”

“Thank you, little Swallow,” said the Prince.

So the swallow picked out the great ruby from the Prince’s sword and flew away with it in his beak over the roofs of the town.

He passed by the cathedral tower, where the white marble angels were sculptured. He passed by the palace and heard the sound of dancing. A beautiful girl came out on the balcony with her lover. “How wonderful the stars are,” he said to her, “and how wonderful is the power of love!” “I hope my dress will be ready in time for the next Court-ball,” she answered; “but the seamstresses are so lazy.”

He passed over the river and saw the lanterns hanging to the masts of the ships. At last he came to the poor house and looked in. The boy was tossing feverishly on his bed, and the mother had fallen asleep, she was so tired. In he hopped, and laid the great ruby on the table beside the woman’s thimble. Then he flew gently round the bed, fanning the boy’s forehead with his wings. “How cool I feel,” said the boy, “I must be getting better”; and he sank into a delicious slumber.

Then the swallow flew back to the Happy Prince and told him what he had done. “It is curious,” he remarked, “but I feel quite warm now, although it is so cold.”

“That is because you have done a good action,” said the Prince. And the little swallow began to think, and then he fell asleep. Thinking always made him sleepy.
–Oscar Wilde
(slightly and (hopefully) gently edited)

Early Morning Thoughts ~ "But They Made Me…" (part 2)

On Tuesday I started a post on choices and the ones we know we should make — even though we might not want to. What seems to be gaining prevalence is an inability to accept responsibility for those choices. What started the posting was the news report about a major AIDS/HIV organization suing the manufacturer of Viagra for causing people to participate in unsafe sex. My reaction was quite simple – gay or straight, we are personally responsible for the choices we make. We know about unsafe sex, we know that putting our hands through glass will cause cuts, we know that pouring a hot drink into our laps (or our children’s laps) will be painful and may cause burns. To stand and say that someone/something made us make the wrong choice is a weak argument at best.

But what about the subtle choices…the one’s that don’t seem that obvious? This calls for going within, and listening to what is within us – regardless of our belief system. It’s the listening to the inner self that allows more guidance on the subtle choices. I’m not sure that the four outcomes statement we learned in Science class applies to subtle choices:
I know that the subtle choices can cause a great sense of insecurity and unease. And that’s because the outcome isn’t readily known. I have to admit that what I am familiar with can not provide an answer that is guaranteed. And I have to focus on, what is for many of us, unfamiliar territory in making those decisions. Of course, I want to avoid the unexpected and undesired outcome, but there is almost no guarantee that can be avoided … unless,
I make it a guidepost to weigh options carefully – and to listen within as I make the choice.

Listening within sometimes is quite difficult. With all that is around, and all the demands on time, energy and personality…I have difficulty hearing/listening to what is within. To what sometimes is the infuriating small voice that gently prods, softly leads and sometimes merely points. And, alas, it’s also the realization and acknowledgement that the choice I make is totally my own and I have to look honestly and openly at the results.

When I force a choice on someone, or have a choice forced on me – the outcomes are seldom desirable or worthwhile, And quite frankly, if I’m having a choice forced on me, or forcing someone to make the choice I want them to make – it usually comes down to manipulation. The manipulation may be subtle (and usually is) or overt and annoying. However, I always have the choice to no longer “play the game” and usually can make the choice I feel is the correct one. Remember, I’m talking about the subtle choices – not the ones such as a work situation where it’s the “my-way-or-the-highway” kind of “offer.” (Although, there sometimes can be interesting ways to turn those situations.)

A speaker once said that the subtle choices ultimately should fall into three categories:

Good … Better … Best …

Tomorrow, a look at those categories and an introduction to poor Mr. Quimby who has been degraded and made fun of, but actually had the right idea about making choices.

More tomorrow…

fourth illustration – Listening Within by Morte137 http://www.deviantaart.com/view/35250977

Early Morning Thoughts ~ Poison to Medicine (finale)

The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination
where a person gains what he did not have
or becomes what he is not.
It consists in the dissipation of one’s own ignorance concerning one’s self and life
and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins the spiritual awakening.
The finding of God is a coming to one’s self.
– Aldous Huxley

When I started the several threads leading to this one, I knew that I had no choice but to be honest, open and forth-coming. For some, perhaps, that honesty was a little TMI (too much information). Others might have felt they intruded on something that should have remained private. But in order to get here I had to go there. It was important to show what I’d learned in order to share with some kind of reality and truth.

That same dayn(several years ago) I called my boss and asked him to come see me at the apartment. When he arrived I told him basically everything that had happened and what had been going on. I fully expected to be fired. He thought for a moment, and then made a comment that has stayed with me. “To me, this as if you told me you had cancer – or some other disease. We need to work with you until you are back to who you are.”

There was one of the major keys: I had to get hold of the Aldous Huxley quote that I’ve been posting over and over .. I wasn’t going to have to gain what I didn’t already have or become something I wasn’t already. I had within me what I needed – as do you. What I needed to do was find it. It wasn’t a case of “cleaning-up” and becoming something or someone else, it was a case of getting back to who I was – becoming who I was. I didn’t have lose myself in the process – I was going to find myself.

In simple terms, I had been trying to change myself. I had become a chameleon – changing to match the background, foreground – or any ground that anyone wanted me to be. This, of course, was particularly true with ZZ as I wanted something that actually wasn’t there and would never be there. (I know, never say never – but in this case …) I used to tell people that were having problems at work that in effect, the company has “rented” your behavior for the time you are there. Perhaps you’re a great opera singer with an excellent voice. The company you are working for is a library and you are the librarian. While you are at work, belting out major arias would not only be disruptive, but would probably get you fired. So, you adopt the librarian behavior at work. That does not mean you have changed – or become what you are not. You are being paid for that behavior. Where I went wrong, was I had changed my entire focus into changing what I was – rather than adapting to the situation as it really was, seeing it for what it was.

Now perhaps you think I’m advocating dishonesty. Not in the least. What I am
advocating is honesty in relationship, with self and with those around. Was there honesty in the relationship with ZZ? Basically no, it was based on an untruth on both sides. And I fell into the trap of trying to make something work that dishonesty had doomed from the beginning. And in the process had tried to doom me as well.

The hope that is within each of us needs to be based on who we ARE not what people think we need to be. And as I became more content with who I am, people saw me and can see the me I want them to see. Of course, as in the librarian example, there are times of adaptation. But it’s an adaptation, not an attempt at a life style or fantasy.

So, the poison became the medicine and I’m on my life journey to where I want to be … where I need to be.

Remember you’ve got a choice.
When you feel you can’t handle something,
you can either choose to feel miserable and helpless,
or maybe put your life in someone else’s hands to sort out – if they can be bothered.
Or you can decide to take charge ,
take full responsibility for whatever is happening,
even if none of it seems to be your fault,
and decide to turn poison into medicine.
– Geoff from the book, “The Buddha, Geoff and Me

Honesty plant painting by Roger Beckwaith ww.btintnernet.com