Do you ever make a mistake? Of course you do. Who doesn’t make a mistake? No one! Are all mistakes alike? Of course not. So, what does a mistake mean to you? Would you say a mistake is, metaphorically speaking, like an enemy, a friend or a teacher?
All us make all kinds of mistakes. Some mistakes are small, like mispronouncing a word, and some mistakes are big, like the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Most people try to limit their mistakes and limit is all anyone can do.
We cannot entirely eliminate mistakes from our life. Since we can’t eliminate them, then what should we do about the inevitable fact that we will make mistakes? I think one good thing we can do is treat them as a type of person. What does that mean? It means, metaphorically, to treat a mistake as though it’s a person we can learn from. Ok, so how do we do that?
First of all, we generally dislike mistakes. They cause us to be confused and embarrassed. Mistakes often lower our self-esteem. But, as the old uncouth saying goes, “s**t happens,” and so do mistakes. Yes, they happen and they happen to be a regular part of life. Suppose we view them as “people” and think of each mistake as an enemy, a friend or a teacher. Which would be best? Let’s think about how we deal with each.
Our enemies are people that we generally avoid. Treating a mistake like an enemy has merit in that we want to avoid it. But, as stated before, we will always make mistakes. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to completely avoid mistakes, so treating them as enemies only sets us up for failure. We will end up spending our time avoiding instead of facing and solving our problem of making the mistake.
Our friends are people that we generally like and want to be with. Treating a mistake like a friend also has some merit in that we are now facing our problem. But just befriending our mistake doesn’t necessarily give us the tools to avoid it in the future. Instead, by befriending the mistake, we are encouraging it to occur again. Ouch!
Our teachers are people that we learn from. Treating a mistake like a teacher, allows us to take a negative and turn it into a positive. When we make mistakes and treat them like teachers, we will find they are very demanding teachers. Like a demanding teacher, we will reassess our goals, look at different points of view, retrace our steps, repair any damage and reflect on the lesson learned. Perhaps, the most important result is allowing the mistake to become a lesson learnt.
Mistakes as enemies? Only if we want to set ourselves up for failure in the future.
Mistakes as friends? Only if we want to face the problem (mistake) now, without developing the tools to avoid it in the future.
Mistakes as teachers? Only if we want to turn the mistake into a positive and learn how not to repeat it.
Is a mistake an enemy, a friend or a teacher?
A Teacher, of course!:-)
I recently read that: “The understanding of fear cures fear.” Really? In order to cleanse myself of fear, all I need to do is understand it? Let’s see, suppose I fear heights. Now, let’s suppose I understand that I fear heights. Am I cured of my fear? Well, maybe understanding that I fear heights and understanding THE FEAR isn’t the same. OK, so perhaps there is something to the understanding of fear cures fear. Hmm…
Recently, I was telling a friend about my fear of having a recurring nightmare. He had explained to me, previously, how enjoyable his dreams were now that he could remember them. You see, he had started a new form of meditation that helped him remember his dreams, whereas before, he was unable to do so. I told him I was trying not to remember my nightmare dreams. He immediately responded that remembering my nightmares was a healthy act of my mind. Apparently, according to him, our subconscious minds brings out the “bad” thoughts in order to get rid of them. Perhaps this is an example of our minds understanding our fears in order to cure our fears. Hmm….
I have heard that every experience in which a person directly faces fear, s/he gains courage and confidence for facing the future, no matter what it holds. But, how can we face fear? For example, if I’m afraid of heights, how do I face the fear in such a way that I gain courage and confidence for facing the future? Perhaps, trying to understand the general fear of heights will allow me to face the fear. Really, what is there to understand besides the fact that when my body is elevated to a certain height I’m afraid? Hmm…
Now that I think more about it, I suppose there’s at least an element of unconscious thought involved when something, like a fear of heights, is manifested. It seems reasonable that understanding what caused the unconscious thought could result in an understanding of the fear. And, it seems reasonable that a fear of heights might be traced back to an event, such as falling out of a crib, when a person was very young. Though, as an adult, a person might not remember the fall, her/his unconscious mind would. So, if someone understands that s/he fell out of a crib at a very young age AND that’s what is causing the uneasiness with heights, then gaining courage and confidence for facing the future seems natural. Hmm…
Does understanding fear cure fear? Well, maybe fear is always a choice we have in life. Looking at life from an either/or perspective, we either understand it or fear it. Marie Curie once wrote: “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” Bertrand Russell stated: “To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” Considering what I have written up to this point, I think fear is grounded in ignorance. Hmm…
Does understanding fear cure fear? Hmm…Yes!:-)
What do you think?
Abraham Lincoln wrote: “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Can we make up our minds to be happy? Is it only a simple decision I make that results in me being happy?
Let’s try this idea of becoming happy by deciding to be happy. As I wrote the previous sentence, I was unhappy. As I write this sentence, I’m still unhappy. But, I haven’t consciously made up my mind, yet, to be happy!
Before “I make up my mind to be happy,” let’s first consider what making up my mind means. The title of this post uses the word decide instead of making up my mind. From my point of view, “making up my mind” and “deciding” are synonymous. With that in mind, let’s now see if I can decide to be happy.
OK, I have now declared in my mind that I want to be happy. My mind is made up, I’m now happy. The decision has been reached that I am happy!
Am I happy? Well, yes, I do feel happy. At least, I feel much happier than I did when I started writing this. Why? Is my happiness simply the result of being able to only think one thought at a time? Perhaps! I think an unhappy thought and I’m unhappy; I think a happy thought and I’m happy. Wow, that sounds soooo… simple!
If it is true that I can only think one thought at a time, then the state of unhappiness might be directly attributed to thinking consecutive thoughts of unhappiness. So, if I want to be happy, then I need to make up my of mind to be happy and focus on consecutive positive (happy) thoughts.
I am writing this post at the beginning of a new year. Resolving to focus on thinking consecutive positive and happy thoughts seems like a most appropriate way to start the new year off.
Are most people as happy as they decide to be? I don’t know, but I know one person who is resolving and deciding to be happier. Who? Me! :-) How about you?
How can I emotionally cleanse myself of grief? Is it wise to try to do so? Since grief is a natural emotional response for all humans, then when appropriate, should we try to not grieve? These are all good questions and for this post, I would like to focus, primarily, on the first one. How can I emotionally cleanse myself of grief?
A friend and former student of mine, Dr. Funda M. Gulmen, published an article (to read the article click here and go to page 18) in Natural New Haven, the Natural Awakenings Magazine for New Haven and Middlesex Counties in Connecticut. The article was entitled, “Emotional Cleansing,” and after reading it, I realized that emotional cleansing is exactly what I need. As some of my readers know, my son died on June 22, 2011, and since then, I have had an abundant supply of emotional baggage dragging me down. Dr. Gulmen is a Facebook friend of mine and on September 5, 2011, she posted a link to her article. Since then, I have been trying to write this post.
Ok, that gives you a little background about where and when I began my adventure down the path of cleansing myself emotionally. But, how can I do it? You see, I’m still on the path and haven’t reached the destination of “being emotionally cleansed.” I think it’s reasonable to assume that when someone is wanting to emotionally cleanse himself, he should focus only on the negative emotions. For example, cleansing the mind of fear would be desirable, but cleansing the mind of courage would not be a desired goal. So, as I use this forum to cleanse my emotions, I will focus on cleansing those that I consider negative and increase those deemed positive.
In her article, Dr. Gulmen talked about the need to release negative emotions. A part of her article was sub-titled, “Speak it…Write it…Draw it…,” which referred to the cleansing and healing aspect of bringing emotions out into the open so they can be viewed more objectively. For example, if I talk about the emotions that are causing me pain, then I (and others who hear me) will be able to put them in perspective. Recently, after talking about my feelings related to my son’s death, I realized most of what I was feeling was self-pity. I felt sorry for myself! When I came to that realization, (before then, I thought I was feeling sorry for my son) I immediately felt relieved. Of course, I have lost something near and dear to me, but self-pity is not something I want or need to feel.
The “Speak it” part of “Speak it…Write it…Draw it…” has already helped me. In fact, it seems that coming to the realization of the specific negative emotion I was feeling and bringing it “out into the open” through verbal expression, allowed me to see it for what it really is — an unnecessary emotion. Since it’s unnecessary, I feel good about not feeling it. :-)
Yes, the “Speak it…” has helped me, but for those of you who have been reading my blog on a regular basis, you most likely know that one of my main goals is to use this as a “writing for learning” exercise. Therefore, for the rest of this post, I will focus on the “Write it…” part of emotional cleansing. Regarding the “Draw it…” part, suffice it to say that I’m not very good at drawing and feel that my best chance of emotionally cleansing myself will be through writing-it.
Perhaps, one of the first considerations I should address is the question: “What will my newly cleansed-mind contain?” You see, I cannot keep by mind free of emotions. How can a human have no mental feelings? Emotions are mental feelings and to say a live human has no mental feelings is like saying a live human has no heartbeat. Impossible! I believe we are all full of emotions. Just as our bodies have feelings, so do our minds. Our minds are full of feelings such as desire, anger, fear, guilt, joy, hatred, pride, distress, love and of course, grief. Considering the title of this post, you can most likely deduce that the emotion I want to be cleansed from my mind is grief. So, what will remain in my mind, after it has been cleansed of the negative emotions? I propose that, for sure, it will contain the only emotion that’s always with us, LOVE!
You might wonder where that last statement came from. Recently, as I was doing research for this post, I came across a testimonial from Anita Moorjani. In 2006 she was given 36 hours to live. She was dying of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was in a coma. The rest of her story is not only miraculous, but also educational. Please click here for more details. A fundamental idea I gleaned from her story was that we shouldn’t live our lives in fear and that love is the core emotion for all humans. Love, as the core emotion for all humans, is on one level, easy to accept, but on another level, difficult. It is difficult because, at least in the English language, the word love has many differ meanings. For example, love can be used to describe a strong desire, a romantic feeling, a tender affection, etc….
So, what kind of love is the core emotion for all humans? I wrote a post in October of 2010 entitled, “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and tried to pin-down the meaning of love as I see it. Well, if you read the post (to visit the post click here) you’ll quickly find out I wasn’t exactly successful in giving a succinct explanation. I eventually came to the conclusion: “love can only be explained by the person who asks the question. In other words, the meaning of love is entirely created and exists uniquely in the mind of each individual person who seeks the meaning of love. Like ‘art is in the eyes of the beholder,’ this thing called love is in the mind of the beholder!” At the present time, love is going to remain an emotion that is left undefined by me.
Ok, so I need to emotionally cleanse myself of the negative emotions associated with MY grief. I emphasize MY because not everyone will have the same negative emotions when grieving. For example, many who are grieving feel anger, but I do not. In fact, for a while I was bothered by not having anger toward someone or something. I thought that if I would become angry at someone or something, then I would be able to eliminate the pain I was feeling by expressing that anger. Of course, now, as I look back on that kind of thinking, it seems a little silly. So, what negative emotions associated with my grief do I need to cleanse from my mind?
The following list contains the negative emotions related to my grief. Most likely, the list isn’t complete. I’ve also provided a specific example of how each emotion is “felt.”
Guilt– for example: I’m living and my son isn’t.
Fear– for example: Fear of not handling his estate the way he would have wanted me to.
Inadequacy– for example: I cannot keep his memory alive in his children.
Apprehension– for example: Apprehension about carrying on his legacy in a respectful and meaningful manner.
Anxiety– for example: Anxious about the future without him.
Regret– for example: Not questioning more regarding the medical care my son received after his accident.
These six emotions are probably not the complete list associated with my grief, but after putting them into words and thinking about them, I will admit that I already feel a sense of relief. Each one, in one sense, seems unnecessary and therefore, easier to “get rid of.” The key, I think, for cleansing myself of these negative emotions is to recognize them, bring them out “into the open,” determine their unnecessariness, and literally, don’t allow myself to feel them.
I can imagine someone saying: “Not allowing yourself to feel the ‘unnecessary’ emotions is not realistic.” I think it is realistic and is done by most humans on a regular basis. For example, consider the negative emotion of being angry at someone. Perhaps, you were “cut-off” while driving on a highway. For most of us, once we realize the anger we feel is unnecessary and won’t do anyone any good, we let it go and no longer feel it. Therefore, we have been emotionally cleansed of that particular anger-emotion.
When I started this post, my goal was to figure out how I could emotionally cleanse myself. I’m not sure if I have completely figured it out, but I do think I’m well on my way. I feel my mind has been empowered with a method that will allow me to reach my goal of emotionally cleansing myself of negative emotions.
This feeling of empowerment is, for me, a newly-recognized emotion that is positive, and in a sense, acts as weapon which can be used against my negative emotions. Ah, perhaps, that’s it! “Speak it…Write it…Draw it…,” is a method that allows me to bring-out the negative emotions and, once they are out and viewed for what they really are — unnecessary, then I’m empowered to get rid of them. WOW!
Lastly, please consider the following anonymous quote:
“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.”
☞ Using the quote above, here’s my point of view: “What happened to my son, I must accept – I don’t want to know about grief, but I have to learn – I feel I can’t live without my son, but I have to let go!”
Speak it… Write it… Draw it… — What do you think?
Pretend that you have a real difficult problem to solve. Suppose it’s difficult, due to the problem’s complexity. In other words, suppose the problem isn’t something like, deciding what pair of shoes you should wear, but instead, it involves a decision about which medical procedure you should have in order to cure a serious medical problem. How do you approach such a complex and serious problem?
In my case, one of the problems I have to deal with first, is removing the pressure I feel for having to solve the problem. Usually, to avoid the pressure I feel when faced with such a problem, I’ll push hard to solve it. When I do, without bringing in a large amount of patience, I often end up just “spinning my wheels.” Now, in a way, I over-think the problem.
You see, I will look at a problem from every possible angle. I’ll collect as much information as I can – always, as quick as I can. I then, in my opinion, over-analyze the problem. I often spend an inordinate amount of time trying to solve the problem. Well, this “writing-for-learning exercise” is teaching me what I’m doing wrong when solving a (complex) problem. So, how should we approach these complex problems?
Perhaps, a major problem regarding solving problems is we generally, as humans, have a low tolerance for confusion. We want an end to confusion and have immediate certainty. This is what we want, but is this the attitude we should have when dealing with complex problems? Absolutely not!
Of course, we want a resolution when solving problems. Of course, we want clear answers. But, how can we demand solutions to complex problems and, at the same time, place unneeded time frames for resolution? We can, but we shouldn’t. Here’s my problem for solving complex problems, as I see it. I over-analyze and end-up being surrounded by the problem and unable to see different points of view, implications and/or consequences. I become immersed in the problem and not in the solution.
When problem-solving, we should always collect all relevant information and focus on the problem. Having stated that, I think we should also “step-back” from the problem and trust the creative part of our thinking to help us with the solution. There is a creative, subconscious part of our mental make-up that we need to know is always there, even though we aren’t consciously aware of it. To illustrate this, consider how the creative and subconscious part of the mind is involved when driving a car, deciding on the amount of spice in a meal or when choosing a friend. These examples might use analysis, serious deliberation, different perspectives, etc., but they also involve a creative part of our thinking that comes from a different and “unconscious” part of our mind. That is an important part of our thinking and we should always bring it into our approach to solving complex problems.
So how should we approach complex problems? We should not ignore concrete information. We should not ignore analysis. We should consciously add our subconscious wisdom or “subconscious intuition” with analysis. It’s this subconscious part of our thinking that is an important partner with analysis and helps us do our best creative work. When solving any problem, especially complex problems, we need to use creative thinking. We must create a solution. To create a solution, doesn’t it seem reasonable to use creative thinking? Turn your thinking loose!
Does a complex problem’s solution require creative thinking? I don’t know about requiring, but in order to use the full power of our mind, it’s essential. :-)
Who’s in control of your life? If not you, then who? Does control of your life belong to you? The previous questions, hopefully, caused you to question ownership of your life. Most likely you realize that even though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it, YOU are in control of your life.
If you still say to yourself that you aren’t in control of your life, then you have given the control to others. Why would you give control to others? Perhaps you didn’t give it away, but instead, it was taken from you. Or, maybe you were afraid of the responsibility you must assume in order to have control. It’s possible you were just perplexed over what to do with the power.
I know I haven’t come close to listing all of the reasons why a person might give-up control of her/his life. Sometimes, a person is just overwhelmed and allows someone else to take control. Another interesting way in which we can lose control of our lives is by giving too much of our time to others. If that happens, we end up with no time for our own lives. And, consider how many give-up control of their own life by following the dream of another. I was once told by a fellow teacher, who had been teaching for twenty years, that he didn’t like teaching and only became a teacher because his parents wanted him to.
No matter what the reason for your feelings regarding not having control over your life, ultimately, you are responsible for being “in control” of your life. If you think the mortgage company is in control, then you have sacrificed controlling your life for controlling your “stuff.” For example, if you buy cars, houses, entertainment, etc. that are more than you can afford, then paying the bills takes control of you life. Or, you might sacrifice your time to the point where your life is no longer yours. Ultimately, control of your life is yours to “give away.”
Perhaps, you are thinking about other lives while doing some creative thinking regarding their control. Maybe you’ve come up with some examples where you’re confident the people in them don’t have a choice regarding who controls their lives. For example, who controls a prisoner’s life. Well, a prisoner is controlled by the penal system. But, what part of the prisoner is controlled? Are the prisoner’s thoughts, choices, decisions, etc. controlled by the penal system? Generally, no! Excluding a few exceptions, prisoners have control over their lives – they just don’t have as much freedom as most who aren’t prisoners.
Our society seems to put those who give their all on a pedestal. Especially celebrated are the people who give their all without any regard for the impact it has on themselves. Consider how many respect the person who does without sleep, exercise and food, – the basic needs we all have in order to thrive – just to accomplish some temporary goal.
Studying for an academic test and driving a long distance for a vacation are two examples of how I have been given a lot of respect for doing without sleep, exercise and food. In the examples, I wanted to accomplish the goals of passing a test and arriving at the vacation destination. In both cases, with proper planning, I would not have had to do without sleep, exercise or food. I gave-up control of my life in order to accomplish goals and, in doing so, “the goal was in control.“ :-)
The reasons we are not in control of our own lives are endless. I have had many reasons that I’ve used as justifications for not being in control, but usually, they were only excuses AND not reasons. In fact, most could be considered lies.
If you imagine your life as a car, then who’s driving your car? Isn’t it time for you to get in the driver’s seat and take control? When you’re driving then you can decide where you’re going. Why let someone or something else decide, when it’s your life?
Who is in control of your life?
Do you have an imagination? Of course you do! Isn’t an imagination as fundamental to a human-being as breathing? How could we possibly do any planning without using our imaginations? How could we think about the future without using our imaginations?
We use our imaginations regularly and often times, subconsciously. We sometimes refer to imagination by other names that describe the “kind of imagining” we are doing, such as: day-dreaming, wondering, visualizing, imaging, picturing, supposing, etc…. Imagining is just as much a part of life for humans-beings as is breathing. Simply stated, it’s a human characteristic.
Can I not imagine? As I think about answering the question, I’m imagining. Well, I guess I’ve just answer the question by explaining what I must do in order to answer the question. :-) Can I not imagine? NO!
So, how do you use your imagination? Are you using it to help you get the results you want in the future? If not, why not? I think we should use an active imagination to help us live a fulfilling and complete life.
Imagining or visualizing the future we want, helps us set a life journey that leads down the path of our desired future. Otherwise, we end up at the mercy of luck or chance. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very lucky when it comes to life endeavors involving chance.
What about this question? “Can you imagine not having an imagination?” Of course not. If you imagine, then you have an imagination. If you don’t have an imagination, then you can’t imagine and you aren’t human! The question we should be asking ourselves is: “How can we use our imagination to help us get the results we want for our future?”
High-performance athletes have been using this (imagination/visualization) for a long time. They often imagine or visualize the result they desire before attempting it. This, of course, is not only for athletes. If anyone wants to improve, in any endeavor, then using the imagination to visualize the outcome is a proven approach to increasing the rate of success. Visualization techniques are not hard to learn. In fact, you already use them when you use your imagination. The important thing is to have conscious control over your imagination and visualization.
If you’re interested in learning more about visualization techniques, here are two links to websites that might be helpful.
When I try to imagine that I can’t imagine, I “see” (or imagine:-) a confused and mindless person. What do you “see” when you try to imagine that you can’t imagine?
“Why am I a survivor?” is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. The question was brought to the forefront when my son died recently. On the surface, I realize his death isn’t directly related to my survival. Having stated that, I understand the concern of many of the doctors, nurses and other professionals who have asked me: “How are you doing?” They would often, outwardly, express their concern about the well-being of their patient’s loved-ones, especially me, who survived. The professionals warned me about the difficulties I would encounter when trying to answer the question: “Why am I a survivor?”
An event, that happened in 1951, has provided another dimension to the question: “Why am I a survivor?” You see, my father died when I was five years old. Include the fact that my son died when I was sixty-five years old and both, my dad and son, were in their thirties when they died and you can most likely understand the “bookend” loneliness I feel.
I have always thought that when things are tough, some people fall under the stress, while others are made stronger than before.
Why is it that some people are able to handle tough times better than others? Are these tough times for me? Yes! Am I falling under the stress, or am I being made stronger? Both! Yes, I am falling more than I ever anticipated, while at the same time, I realize I’m gaining a deeper insight into life. You see, the death of my son has made me feel stronger in my thinking about living life now. Before he died, much of my thinking about life involved planning a better life and trying to live that life in the future. Even though I would often proclaim that the “future is now,” I generally used the “now” only for planning/dreaming a better future.
Another aspect of being a survivor is how the word, survivor, is used in our media. Consider the glut of reality-survivor television shows. Personally, I usually perceive these as shows that bring out the worst in human behavior. When I ask, “Why am I a survivor?”, I’m not asking about a “reality show.” Instead, in my case, I’m asking about why I’m in reality and my son isn’t. Or, is he???
The reality-survivor shows often display people trying to survive by wasting time complaining about what they lost and what didn’t go well. Real survivors, in my opinion, focus on creating a life that turns out well. In other words, survivors, interpreted in this manner, are those who take charge of their destinies.
So, in my case, is it possible to take charge of my destiny and answer my question: “Why am I a survivor?” Well, in order to take charge of my destiny, I can immediately see it won’t do me any good to be mad at the world – an emotion I have felt and expressed too many times lately. I think it would be better for me to laugh at the world and get rid of the madness. In order to do that I’ll need to find options for my life, other than the “mad-at-the-world” one I’ve been choosing lately. When I’m in my “mad-at-the-world” emotional state, I’m mad at everyone – friends, neighbors, family and yes, me! Too much madness and not enough laughter!
Am I a survivor? Yes, and at the present time, a mad one! What kind of survivor should I be? I should be a survivor who can laugh more at his problems, stop feeling sorry for himself, and think more about his options and less about life and death. It’s easy to tell myself to do it, but it’s very difficult to do it. In other words, it’s easy to talk the talk, but difficult to walk the walk. :-)
You see, thinking only about life and death is using “either-or” thinking. We, as humans, have many other options. The future is unknown and the person who can handle it must have a personality that allows her/him to walk into it with confidence, knowing s/he will find a way to make things work out. I suppose, it’s more about developing positive expectations and beliefs and dwelling less on the past.
Why am I a survivor? Because, “I’m present in the present,” is the only answer that I’m sure of. :-)
Dear reader: This post is a re-posting from April 8, 2010. My son recently had a traumatic brain injury due to an accident while trimming a tree. I will be unable to do my regular postings for awhile. The post below was written about my son. As soon as possible, I will continue with new and diverse posts. Thanks, in advance, for your understanding.
On June 22, 2011, my “Sonshine,” Erik G. Rogers, died from the traumatic brain injury incurred on June 11. May his memory be eternal!
Let’s make a slight change to the first line of the old Stevie Wonder song quoted in the picture of the sun to the left of these words.
You are the “sonshine” of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around,
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart.
So, I’ll bet you’re wondering what the meaning of the title and beginning poem is about. Well, first let me make it clear that I borrowed this from the first verse of Stevie Wonder’s lyrics to You Are The Sunshine Of My Life. Secondly, the word “sonshine” refers to my son and how he is like sunshine that breaks though the clouds on a gray day. Truly, a mood changing beam of brightness in a dark abyss!
Without getting too specific, our son has helped us recently through some emotional times. He has offered and given to us, my wife and me, counseling, friendship, support and love. I am so proud of the man he has become. His strength, tenderness, thoughtfulness, patience and rationality is something this father respects more than can be expressed with these words.
But, I am writing this as a post for more than just praising my son. I have used the first four lines of You Are The Sunshine Of My Life because of some strong feelings I’ve had lately AND its melody, of which I haven’t been able to get out of my head. As hinted earlier, the word sonshine is a “play on words” that I used in place of sunshine in the Stevie Wonder song.
Recently, after spending some time with our son, I found myself humming the melody of You are the sunshine of my life. That song, for some unknown reason, has always seemed like a happy tune to me. Whenever I have heard it on the radio, I have been uplifted by the song. It’s one of those songs that helps bring joy in my life. This is exactly what I have experienced as a result of the relationship I have with my son. He brings joy to my life!
As I was writing the previous paragraph, I couldn’t help thinking about my mother and one of her favorite songs, “Joy To The World,” by Three Dog Night. That song would help bring joy into her life each time she heard it. Also, she would often hum the tune to help change her mood from “down-to-up.” In my case, Stevie Wonder’s tune is not necessarily serving the same purpose as Joy To The World did for my mother; it is now representing someone who has, at times, helped change my mood from “down-to-up.”
As I reread what I had written so far, I realized that you might be wondering about the overall purpose for this post. Well, I wanted to not only outwardly announce my feelings for my son, but also use this as a way to learn about my feelings. As you may have read in my blog before, one of the purposes for it, is to use it as a forum to “write for learning.“ In this post, I wanted to learn what and how I really felt inside my mind. You see, too often in my past, I have not expressed what I really feel. As I am writing this, I am actively learning and expressing what I feel. Wow, this “writing for learning” is really working. Yea! :-)
In the past, I have been rightfully accused of not being an outwardly warm and demonstratively caring person. For example, I can remember, as a small boy, begging my mother to not make me hug my aunts when we traveled to Des Moines, Iowa for our biannual family visit. I can also reflect on numerous times, while my children were growing up, that I wasn’t as outwardly warm and caring as they, nor I, wanted me to be. Though I’ve not been as warm and outwardly caring in my body language, I have always felt, inwardly, a feeling of warmth for all of my relatives – aunts, siblings, children, etc. Perhaps, this post will help some readers “see” what feelings are really inside of me, but still not expressed outwardly.
So, what does “sonshine” mean to me? It means: like the sunshine strengthens and brightens my life on the outside, my son strengthens and brightens my life on the inside. He is my “sonshine!” :-)
How about a comment on sonshine or sunshine? :-)
A few years ago, I came across a quote from Ariane de Bonvoisin about peace. She stated: “On the other side of acceptance is where peace exists, where solutions are.” The quote was taken from her book, The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier. After reading the quote, I became curious about this concept we call “peace” and what it really means to me. You see, on the surface, I think the opposite of peace is war. Now, I realize, if we don’t have war, we still might not have peace. On the other hand, if we consider absolute opposites, then I guess war does mean the absence of peace.
But, what about de Bonvoisin’s statement about acceptance and peace? I suppose we cannot have peace without a great deal of acceptance. If acceptance is where peace exists, then wouldn’t we have to include change as a necessary part of peace. As people attempt to make peace, they must at least be willing to change their minds. Before we can change, we must have acceptance of current reality. And, what is the opposite of acceptance? Well, of course, resistance.
Resistance stops change, peace, progress, and in general, growth. Think about it – don’t we see resistance at the root of all “un-peaceful” situations? Consider all of the wars we are involved in. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya all have resistance as a reason why there isn’t peace in those three areas of the world. We sometimes call it insurgency, but it’s nothing, more or less, than resistance. If the “insurgents” wouldn’t resist we would have peace. How about the “war on drugs” or “the war on poverty?” Again, resistance plays a big role when considering the purpose for the wars. If there wasn’t resistance to avoiding drugs or “sharing the wealth,” we would have peace on those two fronts.
So, how much power is there in acceptance? Before writing this, I never thought much about it. I remember using the old sixties/seventies “song-quote” from John Lennon, “give peace a chance.” I guess, instead of acceptance, I focused on peace. “Just be peaceful,” was my answer to most “war-like” occurrences. Perhaps, if we consider that peace is on the other side of acceptance and focus on acceptance first, then peace will follow more easily.
Let’s consider a “non-war” personal example. I remember, when I first started teaching, proclaiming that I would only teach for a few years, after which I would leave to find a better paying job. I was resisting the job of teaching because I felt it didn’t pay enough. In fact, I remember being embarrassed that many who had graduated with me from college were making twice what I was making. When referring to the poor pay I received, relative to others with comparable education, I would often use the following quote by Miguel de Cervantes from his novel, Don Quixote, “That which cost little is less valued.” Simply stated, I felt, as a teacher, I was not valued enough.
After resisting the teaching profession for a few (approximately seven years:-), I came to the realization that, though the pay was not comparable to those in other professions, there was more than pay that should be considered. Other than the pay, my job-satisfaction was high. I came to an acceptance of this career (job) of teaching. When I accepted teaching as my career, I was at peace with the job and myself. And, when I gave peace a chance, through acceptance, I never considered any other job until I retired. The point is, acceptance came before peace and peace was the result of my acceptance.
Instead of resistance, I think we need to direct our thinking in the opposite direction. When working toward peace, we need to focus on acceptance. As we focus on acceptance, appreciation and “the present” must be in the forefront. We need appreciation for the life we have and realize that we live only in the present. Appreciation leads to acceptance and peace can only exist in the present.
So if you want peace, don’t resist, but instead, look for acceptance. If you want acceptance, then appreciate your life and be present in the present!
What (usually) precedes peace? ACCEPTANCE!