Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Gifts

Although I used to post to this blog far more often than recent history would portend, even in my most prolific days two posts in a 24-hour period was a rarity. I hesitate, however, to give the last piece the same status as most - it took all of ten minutes to research, compose and post. Indeed, it was the last gasp of a theme I have decided to leave behind for now - I have no further use for it. Cyberspace is a very big place and in it there is room for all to dwell.

Life at the 25 Year Plan World Headquarters is quiet. It was a disturbing silence, but of late it has become a welcome calm in between storms past and those that are sure to come. I get up, go to work, write, read, keep up a household and always one eye on my now adult kids. And though it is true that even these mild-mannered pursuits can and do throw me curves regularly, compared to not so very long ago, for now, it is gratifyingly mundane. Change is coming, both by design and by happenstance and I am ready to take the opportunities that come my way.

So what does all this have to do with you? Nothing, really. But if you are at all like me, much of the wisdom formed by your experience was shaped at least in part by the experience of others. I am relentless in seeking those perspectives… especially when the experiences are similar to my own. I know that at least some of you get that; you have as much as told me so in my comments and sometimes via email. Others will see this as self-aggrandizing validation and you, too, are correct in your assessment. It is that as well. I have come through not unique, but unusually severe circumstances. It was no small feat to claw my way up to where I am and it was not without a whole bunch of help from a lot of people who believed in me even when I didn’t. But I did the work.

So, there it is. My life today resembles one of a typical middleclass single parent with three young adult children. If not for my personal history, it is the same as countless others and their lives today. But we are internally defined by our experiences. Although my life might resemble many, right here, right now, we are all unique because our experience is. My story, therefore, has meaning. Not only to me, but also, I have discovered, to many others. It is always humbling when I am told that I have in some small way touched someone else with my words.

I write for many reasons, likely more than I’ll ever realize. Ego is part of it, but there is so much more. If it were ego alone, I would never have continued, for at the beginning, those who read my stuff could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Often there was no feedback at all - no good, no bad and no ugly. Yet I continued to write; I was driven. I don’t know why and anymore, I don’t care. Writing has, in a very real way, saved my life from an aimless pursuit of something… anything.

I interviewed a kindergarten/first grade teacher yesterday for a feature I’m writing. During our conversation, she shared a quote from her mentor several years before.

“We all have gifts, we just don’t all unwrap them at the same time.”

And then, for an instant and once again, it all became crystal clear.

8 comments:

kenju said...

I love that quote, Michael, and I am going to pass it along to my grandchildren's mothers. The kids need to know that too!

Heather said...

Hello, Michelle sent me. I really like the quote and what you had to say. It fell quite nicely into experiences I am having in my life right now. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What a nice way to start the day, "Reflections from Mike A." Well written and Oh so true. I have been struggling with the work load in front of me pre-graduation and reading your words put some things into perspective. A purpose and a reason for doing that with which I embrace and a means to an end, thank you once again for your words. You may not know how they touch me but know that they typically have a profound effect.

Hugo the Chinchilla said...

Michele sent me. I love the quote and your insight. It's a nice thing to keep in mind, especially on those days when it seems no one appreciates your contributions.

Bhakti said...

My Dearest Friend--It is a sure thing that you have touched my heart. Even when you used to tell me that things would get better: even though I knew that you didn't know the circumstances of my illness and the fact that there was no cure back then (and there still isn't), you WERE correct in saying that things would get better.

My pain is still bad--actually, it is quite worse; I can no longer take 1/2 hour walks around me town and take pictures, and I don't have the energy to blog as much as I would like to (I write about 1 time a month if I am lucky)--something has shifted in my life.

I now see that everything in the 'outside' world is not 'real' in the sense that it is impermanent. I have known this and seen this to be true experiencially for a long time; but there was still something missing.

I now not only see that everything everywhere is a manifestation of the Great One--Pure Consciousness, but I also understand that to 'renounce' the outside world does not mean to keep myself from it. Renunciation does not mean 'giving up' things; it means seeing things for what they truly are and NOT seeing them for what they aren't.

Everything in the 'outside' world (material things, nature, other people, etc.) are impermanent, they are transient. Nothing on the outside will last forever. Knowing this simple yet profound knowledge is liberation: it is true renunciation.

So, I have learned to "renounce--yet enjoy!--that which is less real", as I continue to relish my inner space.

Truly, the inner world and the outside world are now connected.

By the way, this realization (of the fact that renouncing is to ENJOY the outside world while seeing it as transient) came to me during a life-threatening ordeal regarding my medication. (I erroneously took two doses of medication within a 1/2 hour period. During this time, I did not once say "I do not want to die! I am afraid I am going to die!" I was not afraid of death. I do not believe that death exists. Of course, our physical bodies fall away; and the world loses the presence of our unique personality--but that is all 'outside' bullshit. Those things were meant to be transient in the first place. The soul: the pure consciousness that shines within each and every one of us lives on.)

I will end this diatribe here, but I just wanted to let you know that I love you; I have always held you in very high esteem. You are a true warrior. You know the Truth==through experience. Even if you don't see the Truth in the same way that I do: or if you experience it differently, I believe that you know what I mean. You understand what I am talking about.

There is NOTHING that can't be achieved. We HAVE to know our limitations: push them a little farther than we thought possible, but accept them. Only then will we learn another way to reach our goal.

I will stop here.

I love you: you are a great friend. I honor the fact that you graduated magna cum laude (sp??), and honor your hard work.

All Great Blessings to YOU, my friend.

Bhakti

Theoloyia said...

It's so funny. When you write, and I read, I hear you speak.

It seems that we have two kinds of people,
Some are thermometers,
and some are thermostats,
Some just read the temperature,
while others set it.

Claire said...

That's such a great quote, something we should all know and remember!

Anna said...

Wonderful quote. A good reminder for all of us...

I recently heard this as well...

"God wants you to you give of your time, your talent, and your gifts"...three things that He gave us.

That hit me on a spiritual level because it was EXTREMELY personal and I believe sometimes the church is anything BUT personal.

Anyhow...thanks for coming by my blog! It was good to hear from you friend...it has been awhile. Next time...not so long!