A Deep Well

Around 10 years ago I did a life planning exercise with my brother to set some long term goals. It's a great idea to do this, you'd be surprised how many life goals you can achieve if you just actually take the time to set them.

One of the exercises that came out of this was to give my life a brand and work toward making that my true brand by working toward being who I want to be. Like BMW is "The Ultimate Driving Machine", this particular task was to set a brand for yourself. This was really difficult imagery to narrow down - something that you truly desire and can hopefully accomplish.

So what did/do I want my brand to be you ask? What I came up with then is now still something I think about regularly and work for in my life. I wanted and still want to be: "A deep well to draw from." Image

There's a selflessness in this that appeals to me. It ties in with my upbringing as a Christian and also my current love of the Tao and most of the people I really admire in life. Those like my friends Howard Potratz and Ed Cox who devote their life to help others reach their potential. But I've been thinking lately on how there needs to be more specifics now to this brand I desire to be. A deep well of what? I've come to some conclusions:

1. A Deep Well of Wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to apply your life lessons and learning to current situations. This isn't some pie in the sky, etherial quality, it comes from a life long desire to learn and a focus on introspection - "what did I learn?" I've had a lot of failures in my life and will have more, but I've learned from most of them what not to do in similar situations. My gray hair is proof of this! Mostly though, I want to be able to help others through applying the knowledge I've gained in life and learning in a wise manner and when it's wanted. This also spurs me on to keep learning through living and study. Ghandi said: " Live as if you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever."

2. A Deep Well of Love. I want the people around me to know that I love them.  Not for what they can do for me or even for what they can do for themselves, but for who they are. This doesn't mean I don't have expectations for those I interact with, it just means my love for them doesn't depend on those expectations. Unconditional is how it's put in a lot of circles. I also want people to be able to dip in and draw love when they don't feel it themselves. It's why I care about the plight of the hungry and homeless. most of whom have a serious love deficit. Again, there is a personal responsibility for me to make sure I have a love surplus. Letting people love me.  Honestly, that's been one of the hardest lessons in my life and something I still struggle with. You can't love others without letting others show their love to you. It's how you learn to love and it's also how you build up a surplus.

3. A Deep Well of Joy. I think Joy is a combination of two things: Contentment and Simplicity. Being peaceful and content in where you are and who you are is a life long journey. This doesn't mean you don't have goals and desires, it just means you don't let them rule your attitude. If you fail, learn from it. The Tao teaches this best. Think of your life as water; though water is soft and compliant, there are no obstacles that it will not eventually conquer. Visualize the Grand Canyon. There is nothing in your way that you cannot eventually master. In this, you can be truly happy, for without contentment, joy is unatainable. Also, getting your life to it's simplest form creates joy.  Your life may be complex compared to others, but reducing complexity always leads to happiness and joy.  Building up a surplus of joy, being so content on simply where I am at and who I am that joy spills over; this is how I want to live.

This is a bit of a life manifesto for me, a passion to keep me going, for at times my well runs dry.  It's then that I am so thankful for my family and friends.  I could recount how each one at times has let me draw from their own well when I am parched. I hope to be that person for you when you need it.



Darwin's Worst Nightmare

Granted, we may know a lot more about what will end our species, global climate change, overpopulation, nuclear holocaust, but it really comes down to the same issue plants and animals have faced for milennia - survival of a species. We think we're different, and we are in that we have a little more responsibility in the cause of our extinction, but really, unless we all pull together and alter the course, we'll be just another extinct species that may never be remembered. Oh and by the way, no worries, the earth will heal itself after a few thousand years. We just won't be around to see it! And unfortunately, we'll probably take down most of the other species with us.

Here's a thought - before you buy that next thing you think you need, whether it's a piece of fruit or a luxury yacht, ask yourself: "Will this purchase hurt or help the planet?" There's only three possible answers: "Hurt" - which should make you second guess the purchase. "Help" - which should make you feel good about your purchase and encourage you to do more of the same. "I don't know" - which should make you postpone the purchase until you do know. I realize this is work and you don't really have the time. I understand because I'm there too, but there is no middle ground anymore. You're either part of the problem or the solution.

We must all become Eco-Social Positive forces, sustaining isn't enough.



My July 4th Paradox

Every year around the Fourth of July I have this same conundrum. While I'm grateful for the independence and peace that we are afforded in the country and how thankful I am for the people in my life that have served in the armed forces, I have difficulty celebrating war. Fireworks

The July 4th celebration we usually attend in Cayucos, CA is fun and amazing. Sitting by the ocean is so peaceful and watching our kids and now our grandkids in awe as the fireworks go off from the end of the pier is so fun. In the back of my mind though there is always this thought that those fireworks represent real bombs that killed real people and are still killing people today. Over 100,000 just in Syria this year. Being part of a celebration of that eats away a little part of me every time I do it.

I don't buy into the theory that peace is only bought through the barrel of a gun. I'm not a fatalist, nor a "fairytaleist" believing that either there is no end to war or that only in the "end of days" will we see true peace. I believe humans have the capacity to reason and given the chance, peace could be brought about by humans reasoning together. There's a lot of unnecessary baggage, religious and political, that we'll need to shed first.

I also cringe at the cost of these July 4th celebrations nationwide. The Boston celebration alone costs $3.5 million including all the support costs.  A small town celebration can cost in to the tens of thousands.  If you add all that up, we could feed a lot of hungry people for a year and get a lot of mental health patients out of the creeks and into facilities that could really help them, not just institutionalize them.  It would go a long way in helping save the tens of thousands of kids that die every day around the world from some hunger related issue.

So land the plane here Tim. Paradoxically, we'll likely go to the Cayucos celebration and I'll watch my wide eyed grandkids wrapped in blankets at the beach. This year though, I'm going to give what I think my families piece of the celebration would cost to our local homeless relief to take care of some of the least of these close to home. I hope you'll do the same.  And after the fireworks are silent, I'll do what I can do to bring reason to the world I can affect to build a lasting peace without war.




Killer Fungus

So, our poor cat Oliver passed away from a disease called Sporotrichosis or "Rose Growers Disease". It's caused by a fungus that lives in the soil, Sporothrix schenckii. It's pretty rare on the West Coast because it's so dry here, but apparently we have it. It's also transferable from animals to people. I also have contracted Sporotrichosis, but the medication seems to be killing it off. The fungus enters at the site of an injury and gets into your system causing lesions that erupt on the skin. Even though we treated Oliver with medication, it still took him.

I seriously doubt this came from our native soil and there are only a couple soils I introduced to our garden during the time we both contracted the disease. I bought A bunch of Kellogg Garden Soil to amend my garden soil and did a bunch of work on my garden this year which always cases a few scrapes and scratches. One on my right leg turned into Sporotrichosis. The same thing must have happened to Oliver.

I'm posting this just to warn people to wear gloves when working with soil that you buy and also to make sure you clean up any scrapes and treat them with a topical fungicide as a precaution. I'm not saying to not buy Kellogg soil products, but you should be careful or buy soil that is from our area which is less likely to have this fungus present.

For me, I'll not be buying any soil at Home Depot or any Kellogg product in the future just as a precaution. One more reason to buy local learned at a pretty high price.



Killer Fungus

Reminders While Riding

As I was riding to work this morning I was a car with two bumper stickers.  I’ve seen this before and end up repeating them as I finish my ride, but this morning, this time of the year, this season they struck me as profound.  On the left side of the back bumper was this one:

Yep. it's that simple.  The more you can live in peace, with yourself and with others, the better life is.  And I can say for my life, I gratefully live in peace.  

With myself; I'm happy where I'm at and who I am.  It's not a pride thing, but rather contentment.

With others; I'm at peace as far as I can control. There may be ill will out there toward me, but I don't know of it.  Time passes and peace comes.  

I'm pretty sure I'll remain at peace as long as I accept that I don't exist because of me or for my benefit. Also that others don't exist because of me or for my benefit.  Remembering these simple truths will help me stay in a peaceful, anti-center of the universe, state.

(By the way, did you know that the "Peace Symbol" was created as a representation of the semaphore flags for "N" and "D" which represent "Nuclear Disarmament" a movement for which is was designed in the 50's. That whole urban legend of this being a devilish or communist symbol is horse pucky.)

The bumper sticker on the right side of the car was this:

Certainly a great time of year to read this with all the opposite messages bombarding us every day.

These two mental gifts I received this morning from some commuting philosopher were much appreciated. The reminders to me, to peacefully live and to be aware of what is most important to me, will hopefully outlast my morning ride and perhaps me altogether through what I teach the next generation.




Occupy Thanksgiving

Take a good look around the world and you'll see that we are the 1%. With 1.2 Billion people living on around a dollar a day, very few in this country have reason to complain. 

The map shows the percentage of people per country that live below the poverty line. I don't know about you, but I'm very grateful and feel compelled to do my part to share my wealth and time to help the worldwide 99% and the 1% in this country living at the poverty level. 

Occupy Thanksgiving, every day.



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