Existential Angst

My blog is to honor my father and children that have passed away as I search for meaning in their loss.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Vantage Point in Time

I haven’t posted in a while so I thought I would check in.

In my previous posts I had talked about being more positive and that it was “working for me”. As with any claim, there should be empirical evidence to show that it is correct. Well, I think there are at least two empirical claims I can make for this lifestyle change. The first is that my blood pressure has dropped from 150/90 to 130/75. I haven’t changed what I eat and, until bike season hit Maine, I hadn’t been exercising. The second is that I don’t consume alcohol as much. I’ve gone from a daily drinker to an occasional drinker. I did this because I just didn’t like how I felt, not that I had a drinking problem. Now I feel better than ever, I eat and drink because I enjoy it and it brings pleasure, and not just to feel different.

Even though I have given up my personal history, I have been fascinated with my ancestral history. My personal history is just my beliefs about why I am the way I am. It at best serves as a reminder of what it took for me to get where I am today but more often forces me to serve it and maintain it. It doesn’t want me to change (i.e. “how can I be happy when so many people I love have died. It would be shameful to ”).

My ancestral history is quite different. It wants me to change and be a better person. As I imagine my great grandfather fighting in the Indian wars of 1860’s (on the side of the Indians), and his struggle to make it to Canada, I feel his courage. When I think of my grandfather immigrating to America at 16 because his father died 7 years before and there is no hope for him on the farm so he is trying his luck at the mills in Maine. Both of my grandfathers fought in the World Wars, one in the first and the other in the second. They were brave men.

My fathers-father died when he was very young, just like his father did before him. That brave Indian from three generations ago also lost his father and mother in the war. In each generation the children that had a chance to grow up with a father did better than the children that grew up without one. The lesson is so clear to me that being a father is more important than just my son’s future but to many generations from me. The investment I make in my son for education, helping him start his life financially and modeling the attributes I find so compelling from my ancestors (being brave, taking chances, caring for others and wisely invest your resources) is not just for his sake, but for generations to come. Understanding my history allows me to see myself as a member of a community that spans both time and space lifts me up and makes me better. Understanding where I come from isn’t an attempt to find an excuse for myself, to play the role of being a victim of my past but get a vantage point in time so that I can move forward with confidence.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Top Ten

Here is my Top 10 best advice to gain higher consciousness (nod to Dave Letterman). Many of these things you may have heard before from other people and some of it is my own. All I can say is these are the things that are working for me right now.

10. Following your “stream of joy” only leads to happiness so don’t leave your stream of joy. When you follow your heart there are no bad decisions, only ones that you learn from.
9. Music holds both happiness and sadness. Like all “wholeness” entities, such as silence and existence, music holds paradoxes that must be examined. It is the silence between the notes is what makes the music. So much like own lives, it is the silent moments that God talks to us. What is God saying to you?
8. Nullifying your life is a symptom of the problem not the solution. If you nullify yourself with drugs or alcohol then you are simply quieting that which must be heard.
7. Life is an illusion. You are born into a reality of many dimensions. We only explore one, the one most useful to us at his moment. At the highest levels of consciousness we can act as if there is no reality at all.
6. There is no “bottoming out” there is only learning. At times of severe distress, we encounter the ultimate reality and realize there is no bottom.
5. Opportunity knocks once but temptation pounds at the door for a life time. As you ascend to higher levels of consciousness it becomes harder and harder to recognize coincidence from fate. You begin to realize that really they are the same thing with differing amounts of precognition.
4. Stay lost, it is much better than being found. Someone that is lost is always looking for the opportunities around them. They are constantly being at their best. They find what is really in them. Being found only means you don’t need to search anymore. You can rest when you really should be running.
3. There are no solutions, only what works at one level of consciousness or another. It isn’t until you remove reality that you can become a pure logical equation but you can never remove reality so therefore you can only approach absolute zero and fly very high and come close to one. Life is always between null and complete but never either.
2. Your soul loves to be in you and it at one with its destiny. Feel that love for life that it has. Remember that you have been “you” right along yet your body has been changing every day. Tap into that soulful joy and realize how much love is really in you. Then you’ll see you have a great reservoir of love to give away.
1. Look at what is inside you. To see it, just look at how you react to either an unexpected gift or an annoying kid on the street. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” [Luke 6:45]. What is coming out of your mouth?

Be at peace.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Being Positive

I’ve started down a path that has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought raising my son would be the hardest but to raise him right; I must do this first and that is, become a positive person. To be a positive person I have to raise the bar on what I accept for myself and others. I have to become a person that responds with love in the sight of hate. I have to show compassion to those that wrong me. I must be a beacon of hope to the hopeless.

I have been trying very hard to respond to the world with love when I wanted to respond viciousness. I know for sure that what I put into this world is what I get back. It happens over and over again in a karmic sort of way that when evil is repaid with evil only evil triumphs. All one must do is go for a drive and you’ll quickly find a reason to hate somebody.

What I have realized is that I don’t know everything. It seems simple to say but when I think about it I know that I can’t count how many times I have dismissed someone’s opinion because I looked down on them. “They can’t know the answer!” I say but how do I know everything to know this? They may not know the answer but the may have a point of view that leads you to a deeper understanding. I have missed out on educating myself on a host of things because I thought I already had the answers. Children can help you see that you don’t have all of the answers. As the old fairytale show us, a child can see that the emperor has no clothes as all of us adults complement him for his fine wardrobe.

Being a positive person means to me that in every interaction with people or the world, I must remember that it is more important to feel good than be right. Fighting about a parking spot or cutting myself on a plastic package just isn’t worth it. I can find a better place to park and I can find a better way to get into the package. I can realize that if I walked or biked, I would need to find the parking place. If I didn’t have such a need for material things, I wouldn’t need go any where nor fight the packaging.

Life is the journey, not the destination. A positive person sees life as a dance. We are to enjoy every step and every beat. We are to feel the joy of all of our fellow dancers on the floor. Once I saw that the point of life isn’t to go from here to there, from birth to grave, I understood that I didn’t know everything. I don’t know enough to be mean, hateful and evil. I don’t know why certain dancers come in and out of my life. All I know is that feeling good and feeling free is a positive thing for me to do and since it is one thing I do know, it is what I’m going to do.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Harvest

I made a decision that I would replace every negative thought and action with a positive one. When ever I catch myself complaining, lamenting or otherwise negative I’ve tried to replace it with its opposite. For instance, a coworker that doesn’t seem to understand simple instructions is an opportunity for me to express my patients and develop my teaching skills. A driver that shows poor judgment needs my sympathy, not my horn.

I feel like I understand the message of Jesus on a much deeper level. Jesus made many parables about farming and faith. I feel that on a deeper level as I plant my own seeds in the world around me. If I sow hate, distain and negativity I will reap a harvest of despair. If I can sow just a few seeds into the fertile soil of love, joy and positive energies, like wise I will reap a harvest of goodness.

Jesus also said that he could reap where he did not sow. He made parables of labors that come late to the harvest but are paid equal to those that started early. It seems unfair but the universe doesn’t care about fair. If I give my last dollar to charity but a rich man gives a million, did I not give more because I gave all I had? The universe does not make a distinction in time for goodness, it make a distinction in quality. An honest man working an honest hour doing God’s work can do more than a dishonest man in the world working all his life.

In just two days I feel like I have lived more that I have in the past two years. I’m going to try to stay honest. I will do what I can for others without expectation of them because I know that I will reap where I did not sow. All bad things are just opportunities for me to grow. Having to hold my child while waiting for them to die makes me sure that I have seen bad things. I know now that is time for me to grow.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Flow of Life

The flow of life is a stream that comes to me and through me. Sometimes it pools up because the path from God to the world has a blockage within me. That blockage is my self reflection that has a mistaken belief. Currently that belief is that my personal history is what is leading my future. Even when I realize that this is a mistake, the blockage creates as barrier that logic can’t break.

Even thought the solution seems “as clear as the summer’s sun” [Shakespeare’s Henry V], acting on knowledge and just knowing something is profoundly different. Obviously changing my beliefs would remove the blockage. The problem is that the blockage has energy of its own. My history of grief has a “conservation of momentum” that can’t just be stopped. So the wake begins to push the slowing boat forward, toward the rocks, where the driver does not want to go.

It seems clear to me now that what must happen, what will happen, is that the boat must end up on the rocks. Once my current self image is destroyed then my personal history will not matter. I fear this “bottoming out” but it is what must happen. I have seen it in my dreams. I know that until I can love myself I can’t love my neighbor [Jesus, New Testament, check it out] and I can’t love myself as I am today. I’ll have to see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Frustration

There is a saying, I once heard, in Buddhism that goes something like, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” I have always thought of this as the truth that one should stay humble and simple. Like a superman in disguise, one should keep their “day job” even thought they are at one with the universe.

There is another side to this truth. If one is in the dark, hoping that the room is filled with presents all with your name on them, the light may not bring happiness. You may be surprised by the illumination of the waste and destruction all around you, that was always there, but you could blissfully ignore.

Now you must carry water and chop wood not just to drink and eat but now you see yourself as a part of a system and your place in it. You must chop wood. You must carry water. Others don’t have too, but you are not one of them. If others would just give a little, you could have a lot, but they will never give anything to you.

Buddhist dedicate a lot of time to this issue. They try to explain that you could be reborn into a better position in life if you just keep carrying water and chopping wood. If you give up everything and be a monk, you might be Buddha in the next life.

For what enlightenment I might have, all I know is that it is very frustrating. Since I have been following my dreams, I have come to understand a lot about myself. I see my reality much more clearly. I feel the presence of God in my life. I know my soul deeply wants this life. I can deeply love my wife and child with complete abandon. I want to live like it is my last day, but I have a mortgage to pay. I want to sing and play music with friends but I have to work on the house. I know it is very small of me to complain about what 90% of other people in world would love to have which is just one more reason to prove that I’m not very enlighten at all. I guess tomorrow I’ll be chopping wood and carrying water.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Grieving Native

What does it mean to be grieving? Over the past five years I have lost four children and a father and a grand father. To understand grief, I think I can make a relation to the concept in Maine over how we make a big deal about being a native born Mainer, a “transplant” who moved from somewhere else to Maine or worst of all, you might be a tourist.

Tourists are the worst because they come to Maine for a short time but yet try to tell us what to do with our forests, ocean and sunshine but don’t understand in any way how we live with them. When a tourist tells us to stop cutting trees, which puts us out of work on land that has cultivated trees meant for forestry, we get mad at them.

Transplants are far more difficult because they can vote, but without a heritage of living from these resources they think we are killing our resources by making our lives from it. Though there are more lobsters in the ocean off the coast of Maine then there has ever been, transplants want more restrictions on the fisheries. I think the lobstermen are doing a find job if they can leave a resource better than when they found it.

Natives of Maine grieve. They see what knee-jerk, short-sighted environmentalist from out of state are doing do our way of life, versus what the native Mainer lives with everyday for whom love the Maine environment and give there lives to it. We see what our own government does to keep our state in poverty under a so called liberal agenda but whose ideas are far from progressive. We pay more for taxes, insurance, housing and almost everything else than our close neighbor New Hampshire. Because we know the difference between what should be happening and what is happening, we grieve.

I think this idea of tourist, transplant and native is true for those who have lost loved ones. We have coworkers who think they are doing the right thing by trying to “talk about it” with us. They are just tourists staying just long enough to make themselves feel better about it. I find that I have to lavish them with forgiveness. They really don’t know what they are talking about and though it is painful to me, they really think they are doing the right thing (in some cases). It is best to forgive and forget them.

Transplants to grieving are the friend-of-a-friend grievers. They are the ones who had a good friend from college that went through what you are going through. They are tough to deal with because they do have good information. Somehow thought the story ends with the friend has gone down a spiral so they now live in gutter or blew their brains out. I guess the motto is, don’t be like them.

Then there are the natives to grieving. It will be the person that does something for you without comments or expectations. They know that you don’t need to be warned about anything. If they tell you their story, it is because you asked. Grievers know that silence is the only thing next to God that cannot be reduced or divided and what you really need is God and some quiet time. So if you ask, implied or spoken, their story always ends with, “…and now, I’m here with you.”