Monday, February 25, 2013

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu
While doing a bit of research, I came across the following experiment. Humor me for a moment, and give it a go:
While sitting at your desk, or kitchen table, or wherever you may be, lift your right foot off the floor. With your foot in the air and your toes pointed away from your body, begin to draw clockwise circles in the air. As your body gets the hang of this, raise your right hand in to the air and draw the number “6” with your index finger.
Before you even attempt to give this experiment a try, I will tell you what will happen: Your foot will change its direction. And I will even be so bold as to say that there is not one thing that you can do about it.
Having said that, give it a go and take note of what happens.
…If you are anything like me, your foot changed its direction as your hand moved counter-clockwise, completing the bottom half of the number “6”. And if you’re anything like me, you tried again and again in an effort to prove me wrong. I tried so many times, in fact, that I gave myself the giggles as I realized that the only thing I was successful in was either proving myself wrong or creating a sloppy letter “Z” out of my nearly perfect and original clockwise circle. My resistance was indeed futile.
This little experiment also gave me a laugh because I found it to be so true to life in a much bigger context. Sometimes, despite our most honest efforts and our best laid plans, life changes directions on us. It does an about-face, turning on its heal and leading us down a path that we had never thought that we would go. When this happens, it seems that we have two choices. We may dig in our heals and bury our head in the sand, refusing to see or accept that life is not turning out as we had once imagined. Or, we may adapt, go with the flow, and adjust our sails to the winds of change.
Of course, the latter of the two options is the most attractive. But in my opinion, it is much easier said than done. Because as I have said many times since I began writing this column, change is not always easy. And in fact, some changes can be anything but easy. In my opinion, there is no such thing as simply changing direction when you have had your heart set on another destination.
And yet, this happens. So when you find yourself twisting and turning about midair, and changing directions despite your original intentions, do not lose heart. Remember that some changes may really be for the better, even if we do not yet understand the how or the why. Remember that some things we encounter in life are of the divine, or are beyond our control in one way or another. And remember that even when it is within your control, it is okay to have a change of heart of a change of mind. Always know that you will get to where you need to be.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Be Positive

This year’s Lent season began on February 13, 2013. Traditionally, many of us honor Lent by making a sacrifice of some sort, abstaining from something, fasting, or removing something that we will miss during the 46 days leading up to Easter. Ideally, the commitments that we make in honor of Lent are made with self-improvement in mind, as we look within ourselves and discover what we may do to better ourselves and our lives as a whole.
As I was doing some reading regarding spiritually and Lent, I came across a very interesting article that suggested an alternative approach to this time of year. The article, written by a certain Reverend James Martin, suggested that those who acknowledge the Lenten season should abstain from abstinence this year and instead celebrate a positive Lent. By this, he means, do something!
More specifically, followers are encouraged to practice a “positive” Lent rather than a “negative” one. Rather than emphasizing sacrifice and abstinence, the Reverend suggests that we take the time to add something positive into our lives, do something good. As he states with simplicity, celebrate a positive Lent this year by taking the time to “bother to love”. Instead of giving up behaviors or habits that you are trying to kick anyway, why not focus on doing something positive for yourself, or perhaps more importantly, for others? Call that friend that has been on your mind. Reach out to someone in need. Donate your time to something you feel passionate about. Engage in a random act of kindness. Spend the day with your children or a loved one. Allow yourself some much-needed quiet-time. Just do something that is good. Bother to show your love.
Reverend James quotes Jesus in the Gospel, saying “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” So whether you are Christian or not, why not take the words of Jesus literally and bother to share the love that has filled your heart. Show compassion and mercy to those you encounter. Pay attention to your loved ones, and shower them with lovingkindness. Be kind to yourself, by embracing your own inherent goodness, and encourage others to do the same.
Whether you are open to the idea of a Positive Lent, you prefer a more traditional approach to the season, or you prefer not to celebrate this time of year at all, do consider taking a more “positive” approach to this time in your life. Consider the words of the Dalai Lama, “Kindness is my religion” and practice giving of yourself, rather than imposing limitations upon yourself. Take the opportunity that is this Lenten season, and invest your energies in doing something positive. Be kind. Do good. Bother to show your love.