Connection is the reward …

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” – Brene Brown

I’ve just completed a summer filled with good feelings … feelings reflecting my discovery of deep, underlying currents running through me.  Currents that stem from an inner place offering extraordinary joy.

Yes, intensely felt joyful feelings … feelings ignited when my life involves connection.  I’ve discovered that connection may very well be the tap root securing my “trunk” of life.   I’ve come to see its role, its influence, and its power to bring me some of the deepest and richest feelings I can recall.

I’ve learned “connection” comes in many flavors, and the depth, intensity, and sense of connectedness differs with each flavor.  What drives the flavor are the circumstances triggering the connection in the moment.  It can be a connection skimming the emotional surface, or one that launches arrows into my soul.  All are welcome, but it’s the arrows creating the life-changing feelings I truly seek the most because they are rare, and unexpectedly pass through one’s life as a wonderful, unique gift.  A gift that changes my life and uncontrollably stirs my soul.

And until recently, I saw “connection” as the process that gave me these incredible gifts.  However, with this summer’s avalanche of experiences I now see that this is no longer true.  Connection is the result … the reward … the rich, joyful outcome.  Many roads lead to it, but it is the resulting connection that offers an incredibly unique, emotionally filled, and shared experience.  An outcome generated when I bring myself together with someone, expose my playfulness and emotional vulnerability, and share deeper, shared moments together meant to leave myself and others feeling seen, heard, valued, and good.  It’s the formula … the “stuff” of connection … the fuel that forms and ignites it.  And when it occurs, it resonates within me like nothing else!

Life is a one-way journey.  No part of the path is ever retraced.  And as I walk this path, I seek steps offering myself good feelings.  So the quest is to surround myself with conditions creating possibility … possibility of creating good feelings … possibility of creating once-in-a-lifetime feelings.  For me, creating connection raises the possibility for both pleasant and intensely unique good feelings.  So it now becomes a banner I carry as I walk … a banner reminding me to create opportunities that fill me with joy and offer the chance for incredible sensations.  Opportunities for connection …

A small angel’s visit …

“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” – Khalil Gibran

I’ve been working in a wonderful job … a job offering fresh air and sunshine, physical labor, and rich, endless opportunities for connections.  Being out in nature with my diverse and supportive tribe, where there is frequent and deep community contact, all resonate like no job before.  And each work day I’m lucky enough to bathe in connections … each offering surprises and joy blended with opportunities to observe and learn about myself.

One of my many roles is to engage visitors to the Russian River and offer them free use of life jackets during their day at the river’s edge, or during their travels down river. Recently, I was at one of the Forestville beaches cleaning life jackets at the river’s edge.  It was a slow day, with only a couple of families present.  As I worked alone near the water, I laid out several jackets to dry in the sun and sat myself down on an isolated log nearby.  I took in the sun, reflected on the beauty of the setting, and awaited my jackets to dry.

As I sat, I saw a small form approach.  As it neared, the form took shape … a toddler cautiously taking step after step towards my meditative spot.  Each step confident yet still gaining experience with how best to keep one’s body upright.  And as his parents and I watched this young beach explorer approach, he “walked” up to me and my log, and calmly sat down beside me.

Leo had chosen me … a strange guy in a strange land doing some strange thing … and he had silently claimed his spot as my comrade in this simple encampment along the river.  And there … looking down at him and him looking up at me … deep, wonderful connection unfolded.

Leo enjoyed seeing rocks splash in the river, and as he refined his pitching technique I quickly filled my role as “purveyor of projectiles”, supplying him with stones best fitted for his unique technique and its intended purpose.  His stern, serious engagement told me this task was not trivial … it was a task needing doing and doing in a quite serious manner.  So as a team, we undertook the challenge until he felt satisfied in both effort and results.

On this hot, sunny afternoon my washed life vests dried.  After gathering them I needed to latch the three straps on each before returning them to their storage location.  As I stood to go over to the vests to finish my work, Leo now saw his role in assisting me as I had for him.  He quickly yet still cautiously walked over with me and watched as I did my series of tasks on the first vest … the last step being engaging the clasp for each of three belts on each vest.  Noticing his gaze, I demonstrated to Leo how each step moved to the final clasping, and when clasping I emphasized the move by adding a muffled “grunt” as I engaged the clasp. Leo appeared to take in every moment with great delight.

But like many of us, Leo paid special interest to one task within the many … one resonating with his inner rhythm … the engagement of the clasp.  So as I set aside the first, completed vest Leo straightened it then quickly reached out for the next vest’s clasp … eyes focused on the clasp needing connecting.  Leo’s strength was not enough to complete the intended task, so together we collaborated, worked as a team, and with Leo’s hands atop mine we pressed the opposite ends of the clasp until an audible “click” was heard.  And together, in unison, we both softly “grunted” as our shared effort flowed from our hands into the ends of the clasps.  It was truly a magical moment as I felt our joint effort accomplish the task, sensed Leo’s delight in a job well done, heard Leo’s “grunt”, and saw his stern look as he knew serious work remained.

This small yet motivated team continued its efforts for the next 10 minutes until all the vests were properly gathered and stacked.  Then it was my duty to bring the stack up the hill to a box where they lived when not in use.  But Leo was not done … for he held on to one vest and walked alongside me until I began climbing up to the box.  At that point I took several moments to thank him for enriching my day and doing such a good job, thanked his dad for allowing Leo to join me, and carried this wonderful encounter, so rich in feelings from this rare, rich connection back with me for the rest of the day.  And the inner glow flowing within me filled me with warmth equal to the sun shining down from above.  And all seemed good in this world sometimes fogged with confusion.

As I’ve said in past posts, life is comprised of stories.  Leo’s story is now one of those chapters in my journey’s chronology.  But Leo’s story is also in bold type because of the pureness of the connection … its depth … its being based totally on feelings and senses, not dialog … and its simplicity.  The blend of all those factors made it uniquely sweet.

It was indeed a moment worth living … worth the price of admission … and it rests high among all the stories I carry within me as moments offering what I seek most in life … rich, deep, and feeling-filled connections.

Thank you, Leo, … and may your journey through life be one filled with richness.

I’ve been away …

“To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.” – Wayne Dyer

I have been away … away seeking clarity and a means to once again discover my deeper, inner rhythm.  My journey caused me to set aside my writing, though the assembling of thoughts and feelings through words never ended in my head.   Space was simply needed … space to allow time for the flames of motivation to rekindle and reignite my inner passion to share words, thoughts, and most importantly feelings.  And I needed time to adjust to and seek out what new pattern defines “me” and my rhythm.

As I walked my journey, many pieces were picked up along the way.  Some bright and shiny.  Some darker and grey.  One piece spoke of life unfolding as movement through contrast.  When standing, listening, and living in the moment, these contrasts surface even stronger, speak louder, and show themselves in more dramatic ways.

Because of these sharper contrasts, it no more feels like “emerging” into a new self. Rather, it feels more like a constant morphing into an ever-different self … one marked by constant change guided by intentions.  Small increments, detectable yet not enormous, seem to now be the stepping stones I’m presented on the path I walk.  It’s an interesting shift, and needs further sensing and assessment.  And though these increments might be small, they are powerful … strong indicators that a need remains for exploration, movement and possible change within me to release my inner song.

How can I be so fortunate to have arrived at this moment after traveling such a far distance?  How can it be so powerful?  How can it create such wondrous, childlike feelings that cause me to play with such renewed intensity and sense of exploration?  Even though I’m a man with years beneath his feet, I “feel” like a child just beginning to discover a life’s path being laid out before him.  A path that increasingly harmonizes with all within himself while igniting and exciting his desire to explore and experience more.  A child wanting to go out and play with his friends … play with the world … experience new and exciting adventures … and discover himself.  At times, it all seems beyond words … 😊 Yes … I am a very lucky man … a man seeing that his remaining choices drive his ability to sustain this wonderful dance.

Oh yes, I am enjoying each step of my emerging dance.  Tears form in my eyes when I stand still, go inside, and think how each moment of my new days touch my soul.  And the emotions … some deep, some suppressed for a lifetime … are being released.  I can feel it … like cutting an infected wound and allow the infection to drain away, leaving space and healthy tissue to again breath and begin growing.  This sense of release … releasing something long held down … releasing something truly wanted but never allowed … releasing some part of a life such that it now can be lived and experienced.

There is so much swirling within me … and the more I think of it the more it swirls!  It’s like starting a fire then feeding it more and more wood so that the flames reach high into the sky.  It all is magical!!!  It all is so incredible!!  It is my journey …

Stories …

“Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination.” – Drake

Life’s a journey comprised of stories.  Some stories lead to sequels while others play out quickly within only a few paragraphs.  And within our personal stories lies the stories of others … points of connection adding richness to our journey.  And as I sit on the ledge of 2016, I look back as many do.  How was my journey in 2016?  What were some of the lessons learned?  Did I succumb to fears or step into them with courage?  And is there some thought … some piece of wisdom I might carry with me as I walk this coming path into 2017.

Among this year’s stories that touched me most was one wrapped in sadness.  A close co-worker’s passing … a young woman in her mid-50s.  Her chapter reflects a “story within a story” too quickly ended.  She succumbed to cancer over the holidays and at work, many of us gathered around a table one morning and shared what endeared her to us … what positive qualities remained strongest in our memories.  Some shared the personal pain still being navigated, and as I work my way along with other co-workers through the stages of grief and loss, I personally reflected on my belief that all has purpose.  Though the clarity still escapes me through the fog of resistance, her passing simply “is” and no effort or wishes will change what is.  And for me, the lesson is acceptance … acceptance mellowed by the thoughts of her enriching qualities and how I might apply that lesson as I step into my future.

Acceptance … embracing the true essence of the universe.  Acceptance that life remains a one-way journey without guarantees, instilling upon those with wisdom that each moment needs to be felt and lived fully. That fears need to be set aside so that new doors always crack open and personal journeys are freshened by new experiences and feelings.  And that life is built and formed through connection … connection to the planet and connection to those walking upon it.  And that through connection, memories are planted and grown, lessons offered  and learned, and feelings exchanged on many levels.  Connection … the “boots” that leave the footprints of our journey as we look back while moving forward with mindful choices where each step is placed.

A life … a story built upon other stories … moving at a cadence and for a duration outside our control but always felt …

My time ….

“Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake”
Rocky Mountain High, John Denver

 

This is a morning for reflection …. As well it should since that is what many do on days celebrating their birth.  As I sit here resting on the far side of 6 decades and nearing the entry into the seventh, I “feel”, allowing my emotions to create and deliver feelings that spark my soul.  I harvest these feelings … using them as my thermometer measuring my life.

Coffee is sipped and music plays, pulling deeply from the repository of emotional archives embedded deep within me.  A library created over those decades lived from events encountered along my journey into this moment.  I pull these emotions forward …. draw from them the elements marking times past as feelings recreating fragments of events and past moments … swirl them with the moments within the “now” … and ask myself “How is my life?” … “How would I measure and mark My Time?”

A wonderful answer surfaces.  One felt strongly from a place firmly embedded within my foundation and core.  An answer worthy of deep recognition since it serves me well as a re-boot for my tomorrows and movement into my remaining decades.  The answer revealed through the “feelings” is a resounding “Life has never been better!”  The answer shouted from within affirms that these days … this time … My Time … is colored in joyful ways never anticipated, and harmonized with my world such that I simply wish the music to play on and on without end.

And I know that to reach a place such as where I stand now … to experience My Time as it surrounds me now, I had to travel through all my previous time.  That without the journey I traveled, I would have not reached the hilltop I now stand upon looking backward and towards the future.  That without the past joys and pain I would not have developed the strength nor the sense of direction that led me to stand in the crisp, clear breeze of this moment … My Time.

And while I stand in My Time, bathing in deep, rich feelings of joy, I also realize that time, life, and all that surrounds them is a gift, given and taken without certainty.  Given the time passed under my feet as I walked a life, this awareness is even more meaningful and when sensed and understood encourages me to throw open the doors of my life so that I continue to step in new, uncharted, and exciting directions at every opportunity.  To use my “feelings” thermometer to signal actions worthy to be taken to build My Time into something even grander.  Within me is a new sense of adventure carried by an energized explorer.  An explorer ready to engage vigorously in living life fully and completely, taking his newly formed sense of inner well-being as a wave to ride toward the horizon.  The horizon of a life now being lived from a new, mature, wiser, and more energized platform.

It is truly “My Time” … the best of times … the time to live and experience all that each moment can offer.  Yes, it is a birthday … a new day to live life as the unbridled adventure it’s meant to be.  And it is My Time to live it …

The clock you cannot wind …

I’ve been on something like a journey … moving forward, changing, but at times getting lost in the fog that sometimes overtakes lives.  Expressing and sharing myself through words fell away for some time, though words continued to fill my head and move my emotions each day.  It’s just that recording them for myself and others no longer drew me.  However, as with many ailments, time heals with fresh growth, and time now has moved me to a place once more ready to express myself and display my thoughts on the shelves of my blog.  Time also moves me to “change” … morph the flavor and look of my shelves into a new form offering new architectural placement of content and color.  Change … growth … and willingness (and practice) at letting go of “what was” moments ago in order to move on to what’s offered from the next.

Like a clock that can’t be wound, our lives tick each day … moving hands a little further across a face without numbers yet defining our personal “day” given us by the universe, the creator, or simply the cosmic force.  We wake … we become aware … we let go … and we pass in a way and at a time unknown.  It seems we are simply a passenger, at times trying to influence the movement and destination of the train but in reality only along for the ride.  And it “feels” like the more I embrace my role as the “passenger”, the freer my life becomes.  Maybe it is that acceptance … fully and with all my being … that will eventually empower me for the remainder of my journey.

But the clock ticks, and life’s train continues along the track.  And even though only a passenger, I can make choices at each tick of the clock that allows me to experience a ride uniquely mine … choose a seat that offers comfort … gaze out a window at a scene creating inner peace … pick a fellow passenger to engage with … decide how I will walk down the aisle … and many more.  I may not know the destination, but I certainly can add color to the pallet of the ride getting there.  And add color I shall …

A week challenging beliefs …

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

It has indeed been a week like no other in my memory.  The election, its conclusion, and its continued drama and surprises surfaced many emotions, and fears swelled as I revisited old ways of dealing with undesirable changes … ways that resist “what is” and create fears.  A close, trusted, and wise friend reminded me of alternatives to those old ways … alternatives recognizing that it is only what we do as individuals that is truly under our control, and that my life’s experience has shown that there is a purpose (though sometimes a bit hazy) for what happens.  So I work to move myself to once again turn to the belief that the universe has a purpose for all that unfolds.

And though I resist, I know that I need to accept and seek what’s good in the unclear haze of what is ahead.  I must trust in our country’s system, seemingly flawed as it is yet still driven by our collective community making a choice.  And the people chose … made a choice creating the result.  Even those deciding not to vote helped make the choice, enabling a majority to be reached by lessor means.  Yes, in one manner or another we all engaged and the result is the result.

Many messages … many stories … much hurt … many fears … and much, much more lies underneath the actions taken by us all last Tuesday.  As we chose to speak, we now need to choose to accept.  Accept that our process has created a result, and our collective contract of citizenry requires us to embrace it the best we can and make it whole … as good as we as individuals can make it.  It is our role … our contribution to being part of our form of democracy and freedom.

So I am moving to embrace what is, to train my focus on what might be good from what is, accept, and trust in that which is beyond me.  A new story is about to be formed, told, and archived … and my thoughts will do much to form and make it better than what ever might have been expected.  It’s my part in the bigger whole …

A small life passes …

“Those whom we have loved never really leave us. They live on forever in our hearts, and cast their radiant light onto our every shadow.” – Sylvana Rossetti

Today I mourn the passing of a small life.  A small life that carried a very large and loving heart.

A close friend’s pet, a cat and family member of 15+ years, has completed her journey in this life.  Recently this wonderful, loving creature took a turn for the worst as she dealt with a foreign growth diagnosed as terminal.  By mid-week she continued the downward decline, seeming stoic yet offering signals from her natural, inner senses that her time for the next phase of life was almost here.  And as loving care and comfort was given, my friend heard the message, searched deep inside her soul, and together with her son made the loving and difficult decision to offer peace once more to her friend, companion, and playmate of so many years.

So yesterday was my friend’s time to begin grieving, and remembering the wonderful life shared between a cat and their guardian.  It signaled her time to navigate through loss and the painful process of beginning to let go.  It became her time to begin re-framing love expressed when alive into an even richer love built upon memories and the reliving of the feelings spawned by those memories.

And for me, I gave comfort where and when possible … and gave space for healing to begin.  And throughout it all I was reminded that the human species thrives on connection … a connection that at times can be surprisingly powerful, deep, and richly sweetened by life’s shared events accumulated each hour of each day of each year … a connection that when lost, creates pain like no other.  A connection that becomes a rich tapestry that is woven through life when lived, then folded and stored once life ends.  A connection that is love.

But the tapestry remains, ready to be pulled down from the shelf and used to wrap around you when times arrive to recall a life well lived.  Yes … such loss is terribly sad.  But as was described by this friend as she navigated the painful feelings … death is the price paid for living.  And a life well lived … a life offering deep and ever meaningful connection is worth the payment.

Be at peace as you … as your kitty spirit … flows back into the universe my dear Pepper.  You are loved because you gave love, and the sting of loss shows the depth of the love you gave.

 

A metaphor –

met·a·phor

noun: metaphor; plural noun: metaphors

  1. a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

This past weekend I hiked the Marin Headlands.  Its vertical exposure and hills, and the vistas and ocean sounds resonate with me deeply.  Though I sometimes forget between visits, when I’m there I’m reminded how healing it is … to my mind, heart, and soul.

It was time to myself, needed to slow my internal clock, settle and focus my mind, and calm my spirit.  My pack was heavier than usual.  I have a pending backpack trip and gradual conditioning for the trip is my intention.  So now when I explore I add weight … weight to make me work as I play.  And as I ventured into the park and began the various uphill climbs I reflected on how my pack was like my life … I must experience the burdens, the burdens are sometimes added new and sometimes never removed, and all of them are there for a reason and must travel with me as I move through life and experience feelings.

And then I notice that everyone I passed had their own pack, unique to them in style, color, and weight.  I saw clearly that each of us have our burden, each unique and fitted to “us”, and none of us are strangers to this life chore.  An endless array of configurations, all meant for the same task yet all unique to the person carrying it out.  And all of us shared another trait … we carried it willingly knowing that it was part of the experience called life … threads in the fabric call “hiking the headlands”.  Yes … a metaphor … a metaphor for life.

A voice never heard but always spoken …

“For all we know, the first tools on earth might have been developed by a loner sitting at the back of the cave, chipping at thousands of rocks to find the one that made the sharpest spear, while the neurotypicals chattered away in the firelight.” – author unknown

 

There is a young man in my life.  His name is David. His journey is a unique walk along the path called autism.  And though I intensely wish to learn more of him and his journey, David’s world cannot be reached … at least in ways my limited human experience allows.

Before David, I felt secure from knowing my communication skills and manners carried me well.  That years of training, experience, and more gave me the tools needed when searching for answers and understanding.  But upon meeting David, all that changed and I was introduced to life in a much different world.

David gives me a richer understanding of the complexity of life and what being human really represents.  Through him I’ve discovered the need to weave a different tapestry … a fabric where the need for thread is known but not the colors … some magic cloth to wrap both David and I as we share moments … a cocoon that might enable a thought to be expressed, exchanged, then reflected back so that a voice might be heard.

Through David I encountered my naivety, clearly seeing there’s so much I do not know … so much I need to re-frame in order to connect even in simple ways with this young man gifted with uniqueness.  He’s taught me many times that in his world communication is felt, not spoken.  When I hold his hand, I “feel” his presence.  I “feel” his humanity churning inside.  I “feel” his song ready to be sung … wanting to be sung … and “feel” what possibly is his unclear frustration from an inability to sing it.  But unlike the rest of the world I deal with each day, David’s world rests in a place I cannot hear … only “feel”.

Many talk of the day in the future when our world discovers life elsewhere in the universe.  They talk about technologies and techniques meant to bridge the gap between such civilizations so that each might stand before the other and reach a new and deeper understanding of life from the other.  Yes, talk of the future … anticipating a time when this moment may arise and our view and understanding of the cosmos expands beyond its current, experience-limited boundaries.

But I submit that this time has already arrived.  This opportunity to delve into a world far different from our usual day-to-day existence is already exposed to us.  That technologist and others now have the opportunity to turn their creative talents and enthusiasm to releasing greater understanding.  Here … among us … already within touch is a part of our humanity ready to share with us an incredibly unique understanding of being human.  Yet, we only see it as some dim condition rather than this miraculous opportunity to gain insights and understanding of ourselves and life similar to ours yet different.

So let us ask among ourselves … How might we measure success as a society under these conditions?  How might we channel the wealth and knowledge of our nation to resolving these conditions?  How might we place these conditions upon the ladder of priorities among other tasks standing before us?  How might we give a voice to a young man having a song but unable to sing it …