Archive for May, 2018

LEGACY 7: PLAY

May 16, 2018

(Originally written 9/20/14. My grandson is almost 7 now, and STILL teaching me about the value of play, of complete abandonment into the moment, and the tremendous satisfaction of those kinds of relationships!)

Play is priority. Play is primary.

I learned this from my 3-year-old grandson.

I am 62, but looking back, it is almost as if the first 55 years were in black and white. Then I began to get hold of some teachings about manhood and how men were created and designed, and a light bulb went on. It was like (as I mentioned in Legacy 4) color TV had come on the scene. I was fascinated.

But the past 2 years with this child (“a little child shall lead them”) have taught me the intense value of play. Animals learn how to survive by playing. Children do too.

We spend vast amounts of money on play and recreation: sports, vacations, even gaming and gambling, to the point of addiction and self-destruction—I knew a lady who let her marriage go down the tubes playing games like Atari and Nintendo. People take play seriously, and even get seriously overcommitted to it sometimes.

And that defeats the whole purpose of play. Play is intended to be recreational—RE-creating, as it were, renewing and restoring balance in our lives. Laughter has been proven to be healing. We don’t laugh enough. We don’t play enough, in the best sense of what it means to play. Our society is too serious. Looking back, I think when my father committed suicide at age 3, I shut play down. And for whatever reasons, most of us don’t know how to be playful, to simply enjoy life’s moments. Here and there we do, but many times we miss that joie de vivre, the utterly captivating joy that life can be. Even some commercials on TV are an attempt to re-capture that playfulness.

So how do we play effectively? How do we learn to play in ways that are refreshing and life-giving?

  • EXPERIENCE TOTAL ABANDON. I watch my grandson, and he is rapt in the moment. Nothing else matters: He whispers, “STOP!” and holds his arms out. Danger ahead! Some dragon or bad guy. He is into it on all cylinders. Sometimes when he jumps into our arms off the sofa or bed, we are not ready for him. He trusts with total abandon. Life is all in the moment.
  • FORGET THE COST. Play doesn’t have to be costly. Some of the best play times have cost nothing. One of my most memorable summers with my kids was a series of day trips to waterfalls, mountains, play areas. But if cost IS involved, don’t let cost be the focus. Spend what it takes gladly and willingly—but make the moments memorable. They only happen once.
  • LET OTHERS HELP YOU. Play is not solitary. It is meant to be shared. Treasure other people who are playful, and learn from them. Enjoy the gifts people are, just in who they are.

Play can be rewarding beyond measure. It can even be financially rewarding. Entrepreneurs who tap into play-fullness are fortunate in more ways than one!

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LEGACY 6: AUTHENTICITY

May 14, 2018

(Originally written 9/20/14)

Authenticity is, at best, being who you are and were meant to be.

It’s ironic that so-called “reality” shows are really more Truman-esque than real. Because the participants are on-stage, there is an acting-ness, a phoniness.

“All of life is a test.” (from the movie The Recruit) Problem is, with tests, we don’t get to grade ourselves. Someone—or someones—outside ourselves do that. There is some standard we’re being measured against. Are we trying to measure ourselves against that yardstick rather than something intrinsic?

“To thine own self be true,” said Shakespeare’s Polonius. Ironically, he was not. Nonetheless, the truth of that statement captures our fascination. We treasure authenticity. We resonate with people who are real. We are awed by people who are able to operate gloriously in their unique gifting or calling.

Sometimes we envy them, which is a tragic waste of our own undiscovered uniqueness. Trying to copy someone else is like buying a ticket to Cancun but waiting for the plane to Cabo: It doesn’t get you where you really want to go. Both places are great destinations, but only one is right for you, and waiting in the wrong terminal IS terminal. Life is too short for envy.

How do we find our own true self?

  • We have lost the art of listening—to others, to our hearts, to silence. What resonates in your life? Everyone has SOMETHING to offer. The current hit book/movie Divergent plays on this truth, this intense desire we have to find our true calling, to be authentic. Many of our classics relate to the same truth—Tom Sawyer, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Matrix—the list goes on. We can listen to the stories in what we read or watch—what characters fascinate us? What heroes would we most like to be like? There is a message in our hearts that is only heard by listening to what we are drawn to most.
  • Accept limitations. Be who you are capable of being without putting yourself down for not being more. Accept the linearity of life—we only get one, at least only one at a time. Start where you are. Steady wins the race. Plod if you must, but move toward the real you somehow. Accept the mistakes of the past—they are part of who you are. Make them count. Include them.
  • Smile. Learn to enjoy the moment. Be alive whenever you can, and focus on making it more of the time. Don’t be afraid of rejection—the world is longing for people who know who they are and aren’t afraid to show it.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman.

The glory of God is man fully alive. –St. Irenaeus

LEGACY 5: Brokenness and Wholeness

May 13, 2018

(Originally written 9/16/14)

Brokenness is not necessarily a bad thing. It started out that way, obviously. We weren’t intended to be broken. But brokenness brought redemption, and resulted in wholeness again. Humpty Dumpty COULD be put together again, but it took a greater brokenness.

Wholeness—also called integrity—is related to holiness, though perhaps not by etymology (another mellifluous word). We get whole from being broken, but not necessarily by being broken. Being broken doesn’t automatically lead to wholeness. It’s not a given.

But it can be given, if we’re willing to take it. We have to make a preemptive strike against the brokenness in order to enter into wholeness. We have to visualize what it can mean to be whole. We have to desire it in order to make it happen.

And then, marvel of marvels, we can again choose brokenness to bring about someone else’s wholeness. That too is not a given, but it can be a giving. It has to be received, even if not consciously, in order to lead to wholeness in the other. Life springs out of the womb, broken open. Yeats speaks of it in a clouded way in “The Second Coming,” but I’m not sure his vision was truly of imminent (immanent?) wholeness, but rather of greater brokenness.

It’s easier to break than to make whole. It’s more tempting to destroy than to build. Building takes a lot of work, a vision of what could be, and it’s easier not to think of that and to think that tearing down is a good thing. It can be, but more often is not. Razing does not always lead to raising.

It takes deep foundations for skyscrapers, deeper still for rocket launching pads. The higher you go, the deeper you have to go first.

How much are we willing to break in order to build? How high do we really want to go?

The greatest man who ever lived never wrote anything apart from a few scribblings in the sand, waiting for breakers to stop trying to break. Yet more has been written about him, and because of him, that anyone except he would have imagined. He was broken beyond measure, in order to bring a wholeness of incomparable magnitude.

And he was a purveyor of paradoxes—die in order to live, lose in order to gain, hate in order to love.

I once had an enemy literally save my life. How paradoxical is that? I learned something there—there is value in what we despise.

How we define something in language determines its value to us. Let’s let the Word break us into wholeness.

LEGACY 4: What’s Left UNDONE

May 10, 2018

(Originally written 9/16/14, modified slightly 12/14/14)

In Legacy 1, I started off with this question and this first point:

So what do I consciously choose to leave as MY specific legacy?

  • Life is process. It’s ongoing. Keep doing it. It’s worth living. (My basis for saying this: My father committed suicide when I was 3. He had 3 bullets under the pillow his head was laying on—and they may have been intended for my mother, my younger sister, and me.)

But sometimes, doing means NOT doing. What is left undone can be as significant as what is done, just as I pointed out in Legacy 2 that what is unsaid can be as significant as what is said. Sometimes more so, for both. The fact that my father, at age 27, ended his life, but made a choice to leave something undone, has allowed me to live more than double his lifespan—62 years as of last week.

And I count the last 2 years of my life as the most significant—I’ve said more than once, I’d trade them for all of the 60 years previous. That is largely attributable to the impact of a 3-year-old grandson, who has enabled me to bring life into HD, maybe even IMAX Theater. I remember as a kid, when color TV came on the scene, watching Bonanza and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, along with NBC’s Peacock, on Sunday nights—what a difference color made! Then I remember buying an HD TV a couple years ago—it really did seem like I was seeing things in 3D. And this little toddler has brought that into my life, and more.

Chiaroscuro (another one of those mellifluous words!), simply defined, is “the distribution of light and shade in a picture.” Light and dark. Day and night. Male and female. Comparison and contrast. Sweet and bitter. Inhale and exhale. The list is endless. It’s even in the heart of atoms—protons and neutrons. We exist, live, and breathe by opposites. One theologian even thinks we are bi-partite beings (body and spirit/soul) rather than tri-partite.

We should appreciate opposition. It creates unnoticed greatness in us. We grow by resistance (resistance training, e.g.). Often we don’t choose it willingly—but sometimes we should.

In Genesis 1, the Spirit is seen hovering over the Void, brooding, bringing existence into existence out of nothingness. What is unseen, unnoticed, often does that for us.

“What you don’t know could kill you.” Yes, but what you don’t know is that what you don’t know can also make you alive, bring you fully alive.

Sometimes it takes a crisis moment, an NDE (near-death-experience), an epiphany, a serendipity (mellifluous!). Eureka! AHA! However you want to express it. It was there all along, unnoticed, not something you had done. Undone.

Another test. “All of life is a test.”

But be careful. The doing of it may be the undoing of it…

Legacy 3: Keeping It Simple

May 9, 2018

(Also originally written 9/16/14)

In “Legacy 1” my penultimate point (another mellifluous word stuck in there! I love it!) was this:

KISS—“Keep It Simple, SIMPLE!” Stick with what you know, are good at, do best. (Warren Buffett and Donald Trump—and probably many others—espouse this idea. Being too scattered dissipates energy, and results in no legacy of significance. Dan Ariely, in Predictably Irrational, points out an experiment that supports this line of thinking. Often the most successful are those who focus on one or two things, and do them superbly.)

Keeping it simple is hard. “It’s simple, but it’s not easy.”

Life is complex. It requires juggling lots of balls. Compartmentalizing. Categorizing. Shifting focus constantly.

Life takes on a life of its own. It won’t leave you alone to live it. Life erupts, interrupts, disrupts.

And then, to further complicate matters, we corrupt it with complexity, losing sight of the significant. How many people have gotten to the end of life wishing they’d done less and focused more?

I like the acronym KISS—I’ve used it as a PIN since my first marriage, taken from the letters of our first names and last (her name began with I), so it’s a treasure to me. But I don’t like the usual rendition of the last S—“Stupid.” Ignorant, maybe, but not Stupid.

Maybe “complexifying” things IS stupid, but calling ourselves that is, at the very least, counterproductive. So I choose to re-emphasize SIMPLE. It could be simply reiterating the concept with emphasis, or it can be seen as addressing ourselves as “SIMPLE.”  But keeping things SIMPLE is not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” His equation, E = MC2, is one of the most famous ever. Simple—but it had to have 2 C’s, an M, an E, and an = sign. No more, no less. Getting to that equation could take a lifetime, and extend into eternity.  It’s that simple—and that complex.

Did you ever notice that the hardest words to define are the simplest? Often one syllable. LOVE. LIFE. JOY. PEACE. FAITH. HEART. TRUTH. Philosophical timebombs, loaded with meaning. How do we capture them? How do we live them out? It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

Sometimes life changes drastically in a single moment or event, but most often it accumulates, an unnoticed series of small decisions and non-decisions that snowball into an unstoppable avalanche, a glacier moving mountains.

Simplifying helps. Stepping back and getting perspective helps. Finding focus helps.

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” Ultimately, it’s impossible to keep it all simple. But the effort to do so may be one of the most rewarding and life-giving choices we make. And it IS a choice. Free will is a gift of inestimable value. Choose well. Choose wisely. Choose simple.

Legacy 2: Words

May 7, 2018

(Originally written, as with previous post, 9/16/14. At that time I titled it “The Tongue.”)

In the previous blog, the last point I made was Point 4, but I want to start here with that:

Communication is key. Talking—and, more importantly, listening—is uniquely human, what distinguishes humans from animals, at least with regards to leaving legacy. (Animals do communicate, but for the purpose of short-term needs related to survival. Humans are able to think conceptually in terms of future, past, imaginary and theoretical concepts, hierarchy, eternity—in short, outside themselves. We need to relate to legacy with that in mind.)

One point that spins off that, for me, is that, if I’m choosing to look at eternal concepts to find what’s significant for legacy, I have to look at God’s Word. God invests in the eternal, and two things that are eternal are PEOPLE and HIS WORD. He felt that what he had to say was important enough to write it down, important enough that He would even call the Person He sent as His direct representative THE WORD.

The book of James, chapter 3, talks primarily about the tongue and about guarding it carefully. “You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done,” paraphrases Eugene Peterson’s version, THE MESSAGE.

I came up with two sayings which I want to throw into the mix as part of my legacy, specifically about the tongue:

  • Blessed is he [she] who has nothing to say and says it. Many people prattle on (I love that word!*) out of nervousness or desire for significance, not realizing that often the greatest gift is silence, the most profound statements those left implied, the most meaningful times those of listening with the heart. A couple, or friends, who grow to really know each other, can sit in silence for long periods, simply enjoying each other’s company. The more intimate I am with someone, the less I need to say.
  • How do you know when you’ve said too much? Usually after you’ve already said it. We can’t take back words. The childhood song, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me,” is so NOT true! Lincoln called Harriet Beecher Stowe “the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Words indeed start wars, and worse.

*A Wycliffe Bible translator—something I aspired to become in my mid-20’s—called himself “a word-happy wanderer.” I am that. I love words, and sometimes think of certain words that I would love to put into a special category because they are mellifluous (that’s one of the words, one that illustrates the concept)—words that somehow capture the imagination, spark the synapses, embed images into permanent berths in my brain. I love making words flow, and I appreciate so much that quality in what I read and listen to. That is a legacy I would love to leave. It starts—and continues—here.

LEGACY 1: What Is MY Legacy?

May 6, 2018

(Note: I wrote the following, exactly as is, almost 4 years ago, 9/16/14. I had intended to begin posting a series of LEGACY blogposts, but for whatever reason, haven’t followed through. I am now 65, in business full-time 25 years, and thinking more about LEGACY more deliberately. Thus, I’m coming back round. I will probably post 1/day for around 2 weeks, all of them written in the fall of 2014 and a couple during 2015. From there, I will try to be more intentional about posting. If you are reading this, thank you, and I hope these posts, and future posts, create value and add to your life.)

When I joined a short-term mastermind group last year, we were given a pack of 50 or so cards with terms on them like PERSEVERANCE, MONEY, SUCCESS, FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS, etc. We were told to sort through the deck and pick the top 6 we felt were most important in our lives, and then to prioritize them. My top pick was LEGACY.

I’m not totally sure why. But I know the drive to leave something of significance is reflected in many of the choices I make, some even daily. I sometimes think of a time 100 years from now, when I won’t be remembered, which really doesn’t bother me, because I know I don’t remember people of 100 years ago or think of them really at all, unless I’m studying genealogy. Life demands too much focus, simply sometimes to put one foot in front of the others, to even think about legacy, whether it’s the legacy we received or the legacy we’re leaving.

But we do leave ideas. We impact the future by how we think, how we live our lives, the concepts we embody, the ideas we embrace. “Ideas have consequences,” someone said. Indeed they do. “The pen is mightier than the sword” remains true today, even if you substitute “gun” or “bomb” for “sword.” An ancient Chinese proverb, “The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory,” points out the importance of leaving a legacy in writing if possible.

So what do I consciously choose to leave as MY specific legacy?

  • Life is process. It’s ongoing. Keep doing it. It’s worth living. (My basis for saying this: My father committed suicide when I was 3. He had 3 bullets under the pillow his head was laying on—and they may have been intended for my mother, my younger sister, and me.)
  • Invest in people. People have eternal worth—even God invests His universe in their care! (Wisdom dictates following others’ ideas of what’s significant, and the same logic should apply to considering what God thinks is important.)
  • KISS—“Keep It Simple, SIMPLE!” Stick with what you know, are good at, do best. (Warren Buffett and Donald Trump—and probably many others—espouse this idea. Being too scattered dissipates energy, and results in no legacy of significance. Dan Ariely, in Predictably Irrational, points out an experiment that supports this line of thinking. Often the most successful are those who focus on one or two things, and do them superbly.)
  • Communication is key. Talking—and, more importantly listening—is uniquely human, what distinguishes humans from animals, at least with regards to leaving legacy. (Animals do communicate, but for the purpose of short-term needs related to survival. Humans are able to think conceptually in terms of future, past, imaginary and theoretical concepts, hierarchy, eternity—in short, outside themselves. We need to relate to legacy with that in mind.)

That’s all for now. I want to keep these under 500 words.