The Ramblings of the Titanium Don

Explorations of Conscious Reality Creation and Other Matters

Month: November 2013

American Culture and Thanksgiving

Let’s pause a moment, the day after Thanksgiving in America, and reflect on what this means.

More importantly, though, let’s reflect on what it SHOULD mean, versus what it APPEARS to.

(Yes, I recognize the other issues with Thanksgiving and the mistreatment of the Native Americans and such, but that is not the topic I am addressing here).

What it SHOULD mean:  Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day to spend with family and friends, grateful for the things we have and the people we have to share them with.  A day to do what we should do EVERY day:  Be thankful.  Express gratitude.

What it APPEARS to mean:  Thanksgiving marks ‘x’ number of days until Christmas.  And that number is insufficient, so we need to buy buy buy everything we can, because that is what you need to do.  Time is short, and money is tight, so here is a one-day sale to draw you in to spend spend spend.  To hell with time for friends and family, get out there and be a good participant in Capitalism and spend your cash on STUFF!

Worse, we have become so cynical about this situation, we just feed it more and more.  Either we get outraged by the unbridled, raging consumerism overtaking family and free time – or we are a part of that shopping feeding frenzy.  Neither of these will do anything to change this.

What can we do?  What should we do?

I haven’t an answer that will work for everyone.  Hey, for some people today is a great shopping day.  As I work in retail, today is a big day for the shop I work for sales wise.  The problem is greater than Black Friday and its overrun of Thanksgiving.  The problem is purely American, from what I can glean, and would require a fairly large shift in our culture that I think we are unprepared to make on many levels.

Such as?

We need to address the life/work balance.  We work far longer hours than Europeans like the French and Germans, though comparatively fewer than Asians like Singapore and Korea.  None-the-less, we work and work and work, and are stingy with our free time, stingy with personal time, and we never seem to have the time/money combination desired, and sometimes even needed.

And all that work doesn’t make us happy, it generally still leaves us wanting.  It causes quite the imbalance, which leads to this issue:

We need to address our health.  We should be embarrassed by the numbers when it comes to health care in this nation.  We have, for the vast money we spend on the industry, one of the shortest life expectancies in the developed world.  We have a broken system run by insurance companies focused on profit, with a reform that only partially addresses the issues, and seems to have caused as many problems as it was intended to resolve.  We focus on caring for the sick, rather than preventative care.  We pop pills rather than work long term solutions.

We all want to be healthy, but we eat foods that are mostly chemicals, we neglect exercise, and we focus on the quick fix over lifestyle changes for the better.  Not a good means to the end.

We need to celebrate our differences, not lament them.  Doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, black or white, religious or atheist, male or female, or whatever difference you want to choose between people – we should be celebrating our individuality.  Is it just me, or does it seem more and more over the last decade or so that we have gone from a nation striving towards unity and equality and tolerance to a nation of division, widening inequality, and intolerance?  What happened to “Free to be You and Me?” and the notion of how similar we are despite our differences?

It is disheartening to see people working harder to divide than to unite.  Greater separation does not make our lives better in any way.

We need to accept the secular and the sacred as separate and equal.  Plain and simple – we are NOT a Christian nation.  Period.  We are a nation with every single religion known to man in practice.  Choose the religion, major or minor, and someone here practices it.  However, there are many people who are atheists, and do not practice ANY.  And somewhere in between, there are agnostics and spiritual but non-religious folk across the nation, too.

There is no attack on Christmas.  Period.  Sorry folks, I don’t care what Sarah Palin or any other fundamentalists tell you – Christmas is pervasive, it is the dominant event across this nation.  It is on our televisions, in our stores, on our radios, it is EVERYWHERE.  It is for this holiday that our rampant consumerism gets its focus.

Please note – I am NOT attacking Christmas, I am not against the idea of peace on earth and goodwill towards your fellow man or those aspects of the holiday and its spirit.  What I take issue with is those who acknowledge no other religions in the first place, but when they see this dominant force taken from 100% to 80% they call it being attacked.  This is not a digression on my topic – it is precisely what I am getting at here: Focus on separation and discord in place of togetherness and peace.

We have reached a point where we are always looking for who is against us.  Who believes something apart from what we do, and seeks as such to break apart our society?  Who is our opposition?  Who will corrupt and disrupt our way of life?  Divide and conquer.

Until we see and acknowledge these things, there is really nothing we can do to make this holiday back to what it SHOULD be.  A rather major cultural shift, but I believe a necessary and really worthwhile one.

So – what does Thanksgiving mean to YOU?

Pathwalking 100

Perseverance is the difference between a fleeting notion and the pursuit of an idea.

After one hundred weeks of posts about this concept of Pathwalking, I thought it an apropos topic.

Perseverance is not simply having an idea, it is moving forward in making the intangible idea into a tangible thing.  It is a part of the means to the ends.

Dictionary.com defines perseverance thus:

noun

1.steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

I think nothing summarizes the entire concept of Pathwalking quite like this definition of perseverance.

Pathwalking is the course of action, the purpose – choosing your own way.  Making your own decisions and choices in regards to pursuing the destiny you most want to find.  And I have certainly explored on multiple occasions that it can be fraught with numerous difficulties, obstacles and discouragements.

I do not want to sit back and let my life just happen…I want to make it happen.  I do not want others choosing for me…I want to make the choices.  I do not want my emotions to be a result of the influences of the world around me…I want to choose how I will feel.  I want, ultimately, to be content with my life, and happy with the choices I am making for it.

One hundred posts represents nearly two years of weekly action in Pathwalking.  Two years of analyzing the path I want to walk, the choices I make on that path, the challenges that I will face.  And a part of my personal path is sharing what I am discovering along the way, to spread this notion to you, and do what I might to help you choose and walk your own path.

Yes, there are bad days.  I get doubtful, and frustrated when progress is not what I would desire it to be.  But as I have said many times before – this is just a part of human nature.  Even the happiest, most satisfied people in the world are not in that state absolutely all the time.

But that is why you persevere.  That is why you make the efforts you make, you strive for the journey and the ultimate goal.  Ultimately, you want to be happy and satisfied, and that is worth striving for.

Yeah yeah yeah, blah blah blah, so what has all your perseverance gotten you?  Are you happy?  Have you achieved your goal you set almost two years ago?  I am happy with the life I have chosen for myself.  Yes, it is imperfect, yes, there are things I need to fix and improve upon, yes it is a work in progress.  Despite the bad days, even when hope is the only tangible thing I have, I believe that choosing to walk my own path has been nothing but a boon to my life.

I look at the world in the way I have always wanted to.  It is not a nightmare place filled with terrible people, tragedies and horrors…it is a world of endless possibilities, of good people, of possibilities and beauty and wonders.  Yes, it is imperfect, yes there ARE all the bad things out there as well as the good, but I can see the world for all its positives more than its negatives.

Turning a blind eye to the adversities of the world?  Wearing rose-colored glasses?  NO.  I see that there are horrid people and awful things in the world perfectly clearly.  But I am not giving them my focus, not giving them my energies, not giving them my attentions and intentions.  I am persevering instead to look at the good people and wonderful things in the world.  And frankly, without those negatives, we would be incapable of seeing the positives.

Pathwalking is choice.  I have been consistently choosing to live in the positive, live in the now, make my own choices to have the life I want.  I have persevered, and I haven’t a single regret in creating and sharing with the world this idea, this philosophy.

Last week I wrote about hope.  Perseverance is an able partner for hope, hope being the notion and perseverance the action.  If you are walking a path, you are taking steps to walk, and hope and perseverance are named steps along the journey.  And the journey, the path of your choosing, is very worthwhile.

Thank you for coming along for the trek with me.  I hope my insights and ideas have helped you choose a path you wish to walk, and that you might see the world for all the possibilities I see.

I am persevering still.  Are you?

 

This is the one-hundredth entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Thank you for joining me.

The first year of Pathwalking is available in print and for your Kindle.

Pathwalking 99

Don’t ever give up hope.

I could spout all sorts of platitudes and ideas and clichés on this topic, but that gets old and worn fast.  Hope, for its own sake, is a belief, an emotion that is sustenance for the soul.

Hope is this strange, obscure tenet that is tremendously misunderstood.  It is often held to simply be that intangible something to be clung to, something worth living for, something not to be let go of.  But it is far, far more than that.

Hope can mean achievement.  It can mean belief.  It can mean faith.  Hope can be promise.  Optimism.  Desire.  Hope can be the essence of any goal laid out before you.

Some people, though, will turn hope around, and view it instead as foolishness.  As the unreachable dream.  As a last thread before the fall into darkness and despair, weakness to be exploited and ultimately obliterated.

Don’t ever give up hope.

Hope is that feeling at the bottom of your chest, that sensation that you can overcome whatever obstacle you are faced with.  Hope is the ultimate empowerment, the means along the way that might lead you to the desired ends.  Hope is not foolish, not childish, not a mistake – hope is a real, deep-seated emotion.

Pathwalking can sometimes feel hopeless.  When you are blazing your own trail, making your own way in the universe, there are times when you just feel lost.  There are days when it feels as if everything is for naught, and that all your effort is meaningless and pointless.

This is a normal thing.  Even people not walking their own path in life have days like this.  It’s part of the human condition.  We don’t get to simply coast along, and experience life like a movie, with a set script and known points of conflict, contention and resolution.  The unexpected is a frequent and regular visitor.

And this is why hope is so very important.  Because no matter how bad things get, no matter how awful your day, your week, your month, your year or your lifetime may seem, hope lives.  Hope is a positive force that will be the bridge between the good times and the bad.

Don’t ever give up hope

Life is meant to be abundant.  We are all striving to find happiness.  What makes me happy is not necessarily what makes you or anyone else happy.  Happiness sometimes comes in small doses, and sometimes it comes in grander, longer lasting measures.  But as I have written many times before, it is happiness that we strive for in our lives.

Happiness may be contentment with your friends, your job, your lovers.  Happiness may be that first ice cream cone of the summer.  Happiness might be that movie you can watch over and over and over again and never tire of.  Happiness might be the time you spend with the people you love the most.

Trouble is, we cannot always be happy.  To some degree, this is because to know and feel happy, you have to know and feel sad.  To know and feel pleasure, you have to know and feel pain.  To know and feel abundance, you need to know and feel lack.

Then there is hope.  Because there is, for every action an equal and opposite reaction, there is hope.  If you are in poverty, there is hope that you can acquire wealth.  If you are alone, there is hope for companionship.  If you are feeling sad, there is hope for something to make you happy.  If you are lost, there is hope you will be found.

That is why hope is not hopeless.  That is why no matter how bad things may appear, we should not give up hope.  Because we can swing between the extremes, and make choices to live consciously, we can start with hope and take action to better our situation.

If, as Yoda stated, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”, then the converse of that must be that Hope leads to contentment, contentment leads to love, love leads to happiness.

The next time you feel hopeless, take this into consideration.  Every day is not the same, every day has new potential, new possibility, new realities.  And Pathwalking is about making a choice for how to face your days.

Don’t ever give up hope.

 

This is the ninety-ninth entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Thank you for joining me.

The first year of Pathwalking is available in print and for your Kindle.

Pathwalking 98

Life is meant to be lived in the here and now.

Over the past several weeks this has been the central theme of this blog.  But one thing I have not gotten into in depth is – How?  How do you live in the here and now?

I have been working on this for the past two years, as I have been working to walk my own path.  Along the way I have encountered new discoveries and lessons which I have frequently explored further here.  But this particular idea is constant, ongoing…and that usual mix of immense simplicity and utter complexity.

If you cannot live in the past, or live for the future, but need to live in the here and now – and most people seem to not be capable of doing this – how is it done?  Well, from my own experience, these are the things I have done/am doing/am working to do more regularly that let me live in the present.

Ask yourself questions.  We ask a lot of questions daily, but how often do we ask ourselves important questions?  Sure, we are constantly saying “How are you” and “What are you thinking” and “Are you feeling ok”, but how often do we ask that of ourselves?  How am I?  What am I thinking?  Am I feeling ok?  It is amazing how asking these simple questions we frequently pose to others can immediately bring us to the present moment.

We have become so concerned with appearing selfish, that we take selfless to the extreme, and truly become less of the self.  This point is why, frankly, I drive at the incredible need to live more in the here-and-now than either past or future.  There is no reason NOT to ask questions of ourselves, in order to be in the moment, in the here and now.

This can be a silent question – but I often find that if I ask it out loud, I am utterly drawn to the moment, to the present, in order to know the answer.  The simplest questions of the self, in the moment, can help us live in the here and now.

Be aware of distractions.  I fall victim to this all too often.  Prior to writing this, I had the TV on in the background, and kept getting drawn into a program I have watched more than once for no good reason.  I find that I get distracted by outside influences and shiny things and my environment, which I know that everyone does from time to time.  But if I am aware of them, I can take my focus AWAY from them, and return to the here-and-now, to be where I want to be and do what I intend to do.

Yes, sometimes we NEED distractions.  I am not advocating avoiding distractions, nor ignoring them entirely – I am suggesting awareness of them.

Savor food and drink.  No, really, this is VERY hard to do, in especial when you are on the internet or reading a book or even interacting with people while eating.  This is a reason why many of us overeat or never feel fully satisfied by our sustenance.  But really paying attention to what you are eating, and enjoying the texture and flavor puts you very much in the present.  Also, really, you will be amazed how much better everything tastes.

I am really guilty of not doing this one.  It very much ties into being aware of distractions, but is still a separate idea.

Be more observant.  How many times while you travel between points ‘a’ and ‘b’, whether you are driving or riding in a vehicle or walking, does everything between the points simply blur?  How frequently can you visit a room and not notice the sounds within?  How many times can you see a person, and have no means to describe their facial features, the color of their eyes, and so on?  That is a lack of observation, and in our high-speed, disconnected society, we become less and less observant of things around us.

Sherlock Holmes may be been a fictional character, but the lesson one may take away from him was that he was the master of observation.  He saw the most minute details of every person he encountered, and always astounded the uninitiated with what he could tell you about them.  This was no super power, or other inexplicable capacity – it was extreme, detailed observation.

It doesn’t take that much to do this, really.  If you start small, you will find that it gets easier to change your focus.  For example, when you are driving somewhere, don’t just pay attention to the road and the speedometer and other cars on the road – see the sky, look at the trees and buildings lining the road.  NOT, obviously, to the point of being distracted from driving – but so that you experience more from it.

Walking between places?  Note the atmosphere around you.  Listen to sounds, look at your surroundings, smell the air, feel breezes and changes in temperature on your skin, and so forth.  Don’t let where you came from or where you are going to be your focus, be where you are NOW.

Asking yourself questions, awareness of distractions, enjoying sustenance and being more observant are just a few examples of ways to better place yourself in the present.  There are other ways and means to do this, but these are, I think, relatively simple, and can be done by anyone, anytime, unassisted.  This is a part of how I work to live my life not in the past, or for the future, but in the here-and-now.

Did you ask of yourself today “How am I?”

 

This is the ninety-eighth entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Thank you for joining me.

The first year of Pathwalking is available in print and for your Kindle.

Pathwalking 97

Life is meant to be lived in the here and now.

If, as I have postulated previously, I cannot live IN the past, or live FOR the future – then I am left with the present.

For a lot of people, this very simple notion is hard to believe.  The here and now is immediate, it is in-your-face, it is not then, not later, but right now.  It is the moment.  It is the ultimate reality around you.

We have become so enamored of reviewing yesterday and planning for tomorrow that today has lost its importance.  We look back to see how we got TO now from then, and then look forward to get FROM now to then without pausing to explore, understand, and live in NOW.

Part of the problem, I believe, is that for many people now is not where they wish to be.  The past and its pleasures and pitfalls led us to where we are now, but it is not what we have wanted then.  SO, as such, we look ahead to where we WANT to be.  We work for tomorrow, we strive to get to the place we want to be.  The here and now is ignored, disregarded, shunted to background.

Pathwalking is ultimately a combination of goalsetting and choice.  I see paths before me, always more than one, and I want to choose the path I should take.  Once the choice is made, I begin to walk that path.  There is a definite end goal in sight.

BUT, I have said repeatedly, paths are rarely straight, seldom without unexpected twists and turns and redirections, and possibly will be shifted or changed along the way.  Knowing this for what it is, the best way to navigate the path is to do so in the here-and-now.

The past is the past, the future is always in motion and unwritten.  These are two truths that cannot be denied.  Yes, actions, consequences, failures, victories, good and bad times past will have some effect on who I am now.  Totally true.  But because they are past, I need to take the lessons learned and live my life here and now.

Yes, actions, consequences, failures, victories, good and bad times will have a major impact on the future.  I would argue that if I don’t live in the here and now, and only live for an unwritten future, life will simply pass me by.

Everyone has needs.  We have very basic needs like food, shelter, companionship and such.  Then there are more advanced needs like health, happiness, money, jobs, and a place in society.  This leads to our wants and desires, things we think and feel that we need, but which we can in fact live without.

Some people would argue that wants and desires are not as important as needs.  I would disagree with this.  We ARE animals, this is truth – but we do not exist to just eat, procreate, sleep and such.  We can make much more complex and abstract choices than the rest of the animal kingdom.

The thing we can take away from the other animals on this planet is living in the now.  Animals are concerned with their immediate needs, and do not live in past or future.  Certainly they also learn lessons from the past, and give considerations for basic needs of the future – but they exclusively live here and now.

We live in a world of incredible wonder, beauty, and potential.  We are surrounded by energies, by possibilities, tangibles and intangibles.  When we live for today, we can experience a deeper, more intense, more passionate understanding of this world.  That will allow us to better understand ourselves.  This in turn will allow us to better understand our family, friends, acquaintances, even total strangers.

With understanding comes empathy.  When we are here and now, totally present, we can better choose what lessons to take from the past with us today to help us reach a better tomorrow.  When we better know ourselves, we will better know our world, and connect more completely than anyone imagines.

Look around you.  Don’t just observe with your eyes, explore with your other senses.  Smell and feel the air, note the colors of the space around you.  Hear the fans of whirring computers or HVAC systems, the noises of nature or whatever environment you might be in.  Taste the air in the space you are occupying.  Ask yourself what you are currently feeling.  Take a moment, and then feel how much clarity these actions bring you.  Do you feel how grounding being totally present in this moment is?  That is the importance of living here and now.

If we can be better about this, we gain clarity and centering like nothing else.  From such a place we can have, we can do, we can be virtually anything we need, want, or desire.  Choices are clearer when we are in the here and now.  And the path we walk will be that much more powerful and effective.

Past is past.  The future is unwritten.  Right here, right now…do you know who you are, where you are, and what you are feeling?  The key to every door and the road to every path exists here and now for the choosing.  Revel in the possibilities.

Where are you here and now?

 

This is the ninety-seventh entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Thank you for joining me.

The first year of Pathwalking is available in print and for your Kindle.

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