Behavior

96. IN SEARCH OF PERFECTION

I’m an artist, though not nearly as prolific as I used to be. In my basement I have thousands of dollars in supplies. All mediums, tools, and colors wait patiently for my return to the tablet or canvas.  The variety is so extensive that I had to buy a huge tool chest (no taboret is large enough) just to hold and organize some of it. When the mood strikes, I’ll sit down and express myself; meticulously taking my time with every movement. It’s weird but I can go back to a picture I started years ago and continue working right where I left off. I like that about myself because there was a time when I had no patience or desire for continuing such endeavors; if I couldn’t finish it in one sitting I’d tear it up or throw it away and all too often never even start over. It’s also a (slight) burden because I know I don’t have the drive finish some things that might turn out quite well. It’s almost as if I gain more satisfaction from the experience than the finished product. In either case I’d rather own the latter deficiency. Why? Because for me it lacks a lot of negative self-judgement.

As much as I would LOVE to embrace the idea of not judging oneself, I still find this skill useful as long as I don’t initiate self-punishment when I see a need for improvement. There’s no doubt it’s difficult to not step over this line. There are times where I feel shame for not perusing my dreams, and this attitude does nothing for making my life a better place to live.

Years ago, when I first started plumbing, my supervisor said something to me I still use on a daily basis. I was obviously grouchy about my progress as an apprentice because no matter what, I would want my work as perfect as possible. He noticed this behavior and came to the rescue with this philosophy, “As long as what you’re doing will function and is to code, accept it and keep going. When you’re done, stand back for thirty seconds and ask yourself how will I do it better next time?” This mindset keeps the creative juices flowing without the added burden of becoming frustrated.

Do I still occasionally take things apart and start over? Not really; used to though. When I do start over it’s normally because someone else put together what I would never. I’ve got some things on my job now someone else did that I’m going to change. I’ll never tell them though; doesn’t matter anyway.

I feel the secret of pursuing perfection lies in the acceptance of what we think are flaws. The greatest example (that I know of) at expressing this is Bob Ross. Yes, he was an artist too, but unlike how I used to be he saw “mistakes” as opportunities to change an occasional misstep into something beautiful; or perhaps a better definition may be that he chose to find and recognize perfection in chaos. When we do so we aren’t lowering our standards by accepting an inferior product or outcome, far from it. What we are doing is learning how to adapt, accept, and progress, and this is a superior talent for moving through life, at least in my opinion.

Look to the what the universe has surrounded us with. Is anything truly imperfect? One cannot point to a tree and say, “This is flawed”. It may indeed be diseased, dying, split from lightning, or damaged by a storm, but its state is never imperfect because it simply is what it is. Everything is part of the natural flow of the cosmos, including your creations and accomplishments, your actions and reactions. Don’t negatively judge them, remember this automatically invites self-punishment, use them instead as stepping-stones to guide you where you want to go. Knowing what we don’t want is a wonderful companion to moving toward what we do want, but there’s a huge difference between progress and foolishness. I’ve said this before, and I mean it again. One cannot invite improvement by walking backwards and constantly judging where we were. This is called the path of excuses. Turn around and move towards the future……a rear-view mirror will do just fine for remembering and reminding us of what we’ve moved beyond and all those “happy accidents” will eventually become the building blocks of tomorrow.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

95. THE GIFT OF GIVING

frogs

My home is full of crap. I’m no hoarder, that’s for sure, but I do have a lot of stuff. Collections begun in my youth are now gathering dust and taking up room. I have a box of coins including an 1800’s penny that’s (for some weird reason) twice as thick as our normal ones, an Edgar Rice Burroughs library of over four-hundred books that spans several first editions along with a host of publishers and all kinds of release dates, a decent A&W root-beer collection that contains cream soda mugs, wall tiles, signs, and giveaways, and I own a really good vinyl selection of both Queen and Neil Diamond. Other things include over 500 movies, a lot of tools including some I’ve never even pulled the trigger on, and way too many clothes. None of these items bring me peace of mind, pleasure, or urge me to go home faster at the end of the day.

So, what can I either create or attract that WILL enhance feelings of  happiness and security? For years I was fixated on changing my state of mind from the outside in, which explains why the bottle had so much appeal; I could easily alter my emotional structure and ignore reality, at least temporarily. I empathize with others in this elusive quest. A mind free from worry and pain has great allure. Anything that does this is, even superficially, will tempt most. Unfortunately the absence of what we don’t want does not invite or manufacture what we do want. This was a serious flaw in my logic I failed to notice. When I began to equate who I was by manipulating the environment, I began to change both my possessions and, artificially, my mental state. It seemed reasonable at the time; my thoughts will turn into reality and paint the picture of my life as I fantasized it to be. This reverse path quickly led nowhere. It fed upon itself and produced a lot of regret. I was attempting to alter my reactions (a VERY important observation) from the outside in. Forcing false feelings, it seems, is not a goal or an answer. As a matter of fact it began to breed a deep shame for not letting my true self emerge. I fed the ego and starved the spirit.

As life has progressed I’ve found the answer to knowing how to live lies in what I enjoy looking back on, here is where my soul has revealed itself. I feel my greatest possessions, the ones that have contentment, love, self-respect, peace of mind, and honesty attached to them are nothing more than events. What I place value on is memories. Even when I was a boy this dynamic was quite common, so obviously this approach is not necessarily reserved for those with experience and age. Wonderful memories are not only priceless, the best ones inspire new moments of similar content. The beauty of my past can be recycled into inspiration for the moment. The question then becomes, “What can I do that will become a good memory for tomorrow?”

Some of my common thread actions and observations  have been-

  • Focus on how I can serve others.
  • Focus on now.
  • Seemingly small things to me can often be huge things for others.
  • Giving produces the most rewards; as long as nothing is expected in return.
  • Listen instead of talk. (I still need a LOT of work on this one….)
  • Sometimes the best advice is silence.
  • Don’t hold back on kindness.
  • When I do what others want, I can experience their joy.
  • Actions have infinite value over things.

When I find myself doing these correctly (most of the time I don’t, just like so many others) it becomes a dual reward. The instant is wonderful because I’m absorbing it in real-time and I can recall and enjoy it when I want because a detailed and focused record is being manufactured and filed.

These days, when I want to give a gift, I try my best to attach a memory with it. Let’s face it, unless it’s something you’ve really been striving for, simply receiving an object isn’t really all that exciting. They say actions speak louder than words, I say actions speak louder than things. As a matter of fact I would venture to say that actions have the loudest and most reverberating voice of all. I LOVE looking back to those pivotal events in my life; a trip, a kiss, an act of kindness, the first time I really saw her, a good laugh, and a last encounter all spring to mind rather quickly. There’s a powerful anchor of trust, Love, and loyalty attached to the proper actions. If you want these things in life, try giving away your best actions and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

74. WELCOME TO HELL

temptation-of-christ-1872.jpg!Blog

This entry is purely my opinion. Feel free to complain if you like……most are quite practiced at it so it should come easily to those who insist on spending their lives looking for ways to be offended. I seek neither to change anyone’s belief nor do I claim knowledge of an esoteric nature. If you want an argument, this is the wrong forum. Sharing, however, is always encouraged.

Occasionally I am asked if I believe in heaven or hell. As far as I’m concerned this question is an opening line to some sort of judgmental attack by the person who presents it. Be that as it may, I do indeed believe in these places; but to me they are not the physical planes so colorfully depicted in literature and art that the world is familiar with. The clichéd examples of everlasting peace and eternal damnation seem to be missing a critical observation; they both exist because without them there would be no balance, no creation, no expansion, and no purpose. The elimination of one would mean oblivion for the other. North cannot exist without south. The “magnet” that is our life and world is a constant co-existence of forces that seem to repel when in reality they are the perfect example of mutual attraction. Try to cut one end off and there is still its absolute “opposite” attached. We cannot live in one and disregard the other. Perhaps the balance point is where we must reside. Perhaps our purpose is to harmonize the space where they meet. This spot truly is the razor’s edge.

Let’s go the Christian route and use the Bible as a reference point to see if there is any evidence to support what I am describing. My favorite quote is a red letter one.

Luke 17:21

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

One cannot get clearer than this. Jesus himself says the way to God lies within. If the kingdom of God is heaven and the path to our relationship with “him” is inside of us, then where is hell, its so-called counterpart? I would venture to say that the world outside of us is the kingdom of the devil. Don’t believe me? Well there’s more biblical evidence pointing to this observation. There are a few lines where the devil tempts Christ.

Mathew 4:8-10

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

The devil takes Jesus to the highest point that can be found and offers the world and all it contains if he bows to him. The question is why could he offer this? One cannot give what one does not first own; therefore the material world must be his kingdom. It’s all the “stuff” and their anchors surrounding us, money, food, power, drink, sex, drugs, possessions, and so on are the “temptations” or “apples” so many (including me) are drawn to. The first commandment says we are to have “No Gods before me,” which is frequently interpreted as shunning or turning away from false gods.  Okay, so what is a false God then? Again, it’s all the enticements of the material world. Don’t get me wrong, stuff is nice, fun, and useful, but stuff is not supposed to be the ultimate goal in life. Things are not evil, they never will be. It’s our pursuit and our importance of them that makes it so.

More evidence of this needed mindset is presented here.

Luke 18:18-22

18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Christ didn’t want this man to have nothing, he wanted him to turn away from what he was putting first in life; material possessions. The man had disregarded the first commandment.

I do indeed have a LOT of stuff. Books, music, clothes, tools, furniture, dishes, etc., etc., fill my home with convenience and comfort. Some is defiantly required so I may live a life of my chosen responsibilities, but to be honest, most is unnecessary. I truly say this to you now; if my house were to burn down tomorrow and my wife and cat were alive and well, I’d be “okay” with that. I’d be upset and angry at first, don’t get me wrong, but in the end I would know what really matters would have survived.

So, let’s talk a little more about how I understand the existence of heaven and hell. Heaven is the kingdom of God or the realm of all that is spiritual including the emotions of love, trust, compassion, faith, and forgiveness.  Hell is the kingdom of Lucifer and contains all that is not spiritual and certain attitudes like judgment, fear, regret, worry, and shame.

As far as I am concerned both of these places are a state of mind that links us to either self- destruction or divine alignment.

There is a huge story at the beginning of the Bible called…………..Genesis. It tells how we came to be, live in the house of God, and exist in his image. We were in constant contact with God, and God with us. The next question is what is OUR true image? If we are to believe the Bible, we are indeed made in God’s image, however, I know for a fact that I am not my body, not my reflection, not my genetic ancestry.  I cannot look into the mirror and say out loud, “All I am is flesh and blood and nothing else.” It’s a lie; one that’s easily recognized.  So if I’m not my body and I was made in God’s image, what the heck IS God’s image? I have no idea; energy, spirit, thought, or perhaps some unknown etheric force? I do know what it isn’t; and that’s a damn good start.

So here we go down, down, down, the rabbit hole. Get ready.

Hebrews 9:27

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

We already DID die once. We died a spiritual death. How did this happen? We embraced the material world i.e. “the Apple.” We turned away from spirit and towards the material. What defines the material world the most you say? Opposites; up, down, left, right, rich, poor, beauty, ugliness, man, woman, black, white, and so on. This IS the world of judgment. Here we are, spiritually dead living in the world of judgment. OK……….getting weirder now……..

John 3:3

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

According to this passage we must be “born again” to enter the house of God? Yes, because we are spiritually “dead” now. We are living in Hell; and dead as can be. In order to be re-born we must leave this place.

The next question begs to be asked. Why did we do it? Why did we choose a path of such potential disharmony? I believe the evidence exists where the two worlds collide. What attracts both the material and spiritual? What is the connection point? Ask yourself this question, “What do all the religions of the world have in common? What is the thread that runs through every belief?” It’s quite simply, art. Artistic expression is in all forms of acknowledgement towards God. This single action is both material and spiritual in design. It’s what bridges the gap and promotes movement allowing a symbiotic relationship between the two. Look at the music, buildings, pictures, poetry, costume, and ceremony that exist in religion today; all of it is deeply immersed in beauty.

People are always looking for the differences in our beliefs, trying to sift out the truth from a perspective that is flawed to begin with. We must look for the similarities if the purest truth is to be illuminated.

When we are in touch with God are we not of the frame of mind on an artist? The examples are quite varied but all have the same effect; cooking the perfect meal, intimacy with the one we REALLY love, reading a wonderful book, working on our dream car, gardening, singing, writing, painting, listening to music, on and on and on. When we create, we align back to that place where we began; keeping one foot here and one in the spirit world. There is ONE more piece of evidence that will support this observation. A sense of time is lost. We lose awareness to the passage of the hours. When we align with God we share his perspective for cosmic movement as this last quote will attest to.

2 Peter 3:8

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Go forth and create, for are not those who destroy detached from spirit? Does is not seem that they do so only for what matters in the material world? The more we are intent on destruction, the more we waste what precious time we’re given, and the more we create the more we anchor ourselves in eternity.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

72. WHAT DO MEN WANT?

confused guy

OK ladies, let me guess what comes to mind first; beer and sex? Well, yes for the male of the human species, but not the real men. Some boys never become men just as some girls never become women, but it’s my guess the odds of transformation heavily favor females. I was in my thirties before I could look in the mirror and say out loud to my reflection that I was indeed a man. In my opinion the foundation for guys, is in a word, strength. We want to be tough and here’s the problem with this philosophy. We tend to equate toughness purely on a physical level. When this happens we cling to those times in our lives where we were were the strongest. For many it lies in our youth and we spend a great deal of energy either focused on or trying to recapture the past. For many more this remains a chase throughout our lifetimes. We become convinced that if we cannot physically prove ourselves we will lose our identity.  There’s an easy fix and the MEN know what it is. All we must do is re-define what strength really is. Real strength lies in the willingness to do those things that are hard to do. No need to go into it here, there’s an early entry on this blog that addresses this subject.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/08/10/being-tough/

Feel free to share this with those guys in life that seek answers. So many are.

So, let’s get into some “secrets” about men that women don’t usually know. Think you understand what look turns a man on? I doubt it. Here is a little quiz to test your knowledge.

OBSERVATION #1 What do we find truly sexy?

Take any woman, doesn’t matter who she is as long as the man in question feels she is fairly attractive. Let’s dress her up several ways and see what look the man finds most alluring.

  • Bikini
  • Jeans and a tee-shirt
  • Lingerie
  • Sundress
  • Hooker
  • Naked
  • Business suit
  • Evening gown

So, what do you think number one is? Actually it’s a tie and I’ve never heard an answer past the third choice. In first place….sundress/business suit. Jeans and a tee-shirt is third. I prefer the sundress but the business suit is my second choice. Notice that the other choices, hooker, lingerie, bikini, naked, and even the evening gown are designed to grab our attention. Believe it or not I think we prefer femininity mixed with a hint of wonder and discovery. Show your man this article and see if I’m not right on the money. If you want to mix the sundress with the business suit think “librarian.”

OBSERVATION #2 Men LOVE to shop.

It’s true, we love to shop; we just don’t usually want to spend time or money in the same places women do. Pawn shops, garage sales, flea markets, anyplace that has tools, and outdoor accessories/sporting goods are typical examples of what triggers our desire to spend. Want to get us to go with you? Promise that some of your stops will include places like this. Yes, we are probably going to sit on the bench in the middle of the mall while you look for makeup and shoes if that’s the only thing on the agenda. Mix it up and we will gladly share in your interests. There’s nothing like the “toy store” to get anybody excited. Girls play dress up, princesses and dolls; women love to shop for clothing and accessories. Boys love to construct, Legos, and Erector sets; men love to build and fix. The urge to connect to the creative side never goes away, it simply becomes practical. So, women, if you play your cards right and take us to the right toy stores, we may in turn produce something useful from it. I am aware these are stereotypical examples. Some guys prefer a canvas and paintbrush, and some women prefer flowers and gardening. In any event it should be easy to decipher an individual’s taste and need for expression. A richer life of creativity usually begins with where you both go when you leave the house and what you come back with. Sharing in those activities will result in a productive and fun relationship.

OBSERVATION #3 What happens to a bunch of men when an attractive female enters the room?

You know why women think men are idiots? Well, it’s because basically we are, especially when we’re young and in a group. In my youth I too was occasionally a part of the behavior that illustrates what I’m about to point out. So, what does happen to guys when a beautiful woman walks in? Do we wonder what she looks like naked? Do we fantasize about what might happen on our first encounter? Do we wonder if she might find us attractive? Hardly. What happens is we all start competing to see who’s the biggest moron. We start trying to impress each other. It’s that stupid alpha male, chest beating, peacock strutting crap; and alcohol magnifies this effect about ten fold. As a matter of fact, if you get enough men together we’ll just stop talking and start grunting and pointing. Morons. Here’s the kicker; the one guy that really does want to meet the woman will go up to her, introduce himself, then they’ll both leave and no one will notice. We really are idiots around women. The good news for women lies in knowing just who’s avoiding this urge to lower their I.Q. In doing so you will automatically weed out all the losers.

OBSERVATION #4 The way to a man’s heart is through the funny bone.

I remember somewhere around middle school the topic of maturity cropped up concerning the speed at which girls progress compared to boys. I was offended at the time but the observation was spot on. There is a way to look at this with more awareness and it has to do with semantics. Try this one out and see if you agree. Girls take life seriously faster than boys do. It’s a subtle change, almost negligible, but is does refine the definition of what both sexes instinctively understand. It’s true, we do seem to take life less seriously, but therein lies one of our greatest assets, humor. We love to laugh and to make people laugh, and I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t want a guy who’s willing to oblige. There’s no doubt we take it too far sometimes, I know I do. At the beginning of this article I said men only wanted beer and sex. I left out laughter. We crave humor, both as spectator and performer. I’m well aware that women have this same need too but I feel ours is more pronounced; and juvenile. I’m sure the ladies will agree with the juvenile part. Keep us in a humorous mood and we will follow you anywhere.

That’s all I have for the moment. Perhaps when another twenty years goes by I’ll have a little more insight. For now this will have to do.

Don’t forget to check out my last entry “What do Women Want? There’s some humor in there as well. https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/11/25/71-what-do-women-want/

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

70. LEADERSHIP

Sexton and Compass Wallp TLG

The amount of success in life depends on how much those around you (including yourself) are willing to take responsibility minus those around you (including yourself) who would rather blame.

Leaders take charge while the rest sit around and point fingers. I’m here to tell you there is nothing wrong with the world “out there;” at least in the United States. Proof of this lies in the rock solid fact that there are still thousands of success stories being born daily. They are the ones who ignore the critics, they are the ones whom everyone wants to be like, and they are the ones that seem to be blessed. All anyone needs to fulfill their dreams is willingness, determination, and humility. Willingness means giving up some things so that others may find room; no more chocolate anyone? Determination means idleness must be transformed into action; off goes the TV, on goes the lawnmower. Humility means asking others for help; off goes your way, on goes their way.

The first time I moved into a role of authority where my job was concerned, I was both excited and scared. I was excited to see if my ideas would work, scared to be the source of failure if they didn’t. My initial duties included scheduling, ordering supplies, organizing priorities, physical labor, and interviewing and hiring people as well as firing them. All went fairly well until I had to fire someone.  I did so with as much dignity and honesty as I could. When they left, angry and rejected, I went into the bathroom and puked my guts out. Freedom [to be a leader] does not guarantee the future holds joyous feelings or endless abundance, but it does guarantee the chance to become less of a slave to the ideas and influence of others; all one has to do is keep a moral focus on the goal while moving into a position of further reliability.

Some think the power to take control of our lives is being influenced by outsiders bent on destroying our ability to express and shape our dreams. Our freedoms are NOT being taken away. Freedom to do what we want is being eroded by those who want things done for them. Don’t believe me? Just listen in on almost any conversation and you’ll hear nothing but complaining about how someone else should be making our lives safer, better, and more comfortable. Most conversations are about what someone else can or should do for us. Personally I am just happy and fine with making mistakes on my own, taking action on my own, taking credit on my own, accepting punishment on my own, and receiving reward on my own. The less people are willing to take charge of their own lives, the more others will.

Now………complaining, for what it’s worth, has a very important place. Without it, nothing would get better. Leaders (those who take action) will complain, listen to complaints, and then generate solutions. Followers (those who are in reaction mode) will complain, listen to complaints, and then make excuses. Any of this sounding familiar? Here’s a prime example of a nationwide “complaint” that gets tossed around without solution. “Religion needs to stay out of government affairs. Any form of worship or reference to God must be absent from all public places that might offend others. Separation of church and state is in the constitution!”

Really?…..I don’t think so.

Here is the first amendment to the constitution. I dare you to read it……in fact I dare you to read all of them. The wording is clear and simple. No “lawyer” talk at all. Wherefore’s and hereto’s are thankfully absent in the interest of a clearer understanding of our basic rights.

Article [I] (Amendment 1 – Freedom of expression and religion)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Real short, real simple. Here is the solution to the problem. As far as religion goes this is what it means; government shall not interfere with religion. That’s it. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT RELIGION MAY NOT INFLUENCE GOVERNMENT, OR BE PART OF IT, OR BE EXPRESSED BY IT! The so-called “other way around” is perfectly allowed. Wow! Do people not even know their rights? Now to be honest, I don’t want religion influencing my government too much, I think that’s a bad idea……but that’s my opinion, and my opinion is not part of the constitution, so I’m out of luck in that department.

See? Quick solution to an ongoing complaint, and if you want to share being a leader instead of a follower then express this observation with others so they may take action. I’ve said this before and I mean it more than ever now. It’s like we are living inside a giant Jerry Springer show. Let’s put down, humiliate, belittle, degrade, and judge as many people as possible so WE don’t have to do anything to look good. It’s like standing on a pile of crap and proclaiming we’re king of the turds. Forget what others are doing, it doesn’t matter in the long run anyway. When we are a willing audience to unacceptable behavior, we give it reason to expand. Do something, anything to make the world a better place, even if it’s just for yourself. Be a leader, be a prime example of what can happen. I do, and that’s not a self-centered statement. It’s an expression of how much I love myself, and like I’ve said before, I can’t give away what I don’t own. I LOVE you. Paying forward this gift increases the value of what you keep. And THAT really is true leadership.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

60. THE GREATEST GIFTS

Gifts

Who doesn’t love the thought of a present? Who doesn’t remember the weeks leading up to our birthdays, Christmases, and of course other occasions when we, as children, looked for hours at those seductive and brightly wrapped packages that set our minds into fantasy land? I remember dreaming of books and art supplies, and indeed I got those things, but I don’t recall ever making a list or even pushing my desires on my relatives and parents. What I DO remember about those times was the magic of how the acts of giving and receiving could stir the imagination and bring out the best in everyone. As I got older, and we moved away from the ceremonies of the seasons, I lost some connection to the humanity and emotion that represented the true meaning of gratitude. I began to miss the presents themselves rather than the celebrations that surrounded their arrival. I began to equate the absence of things with a certain lack, and this shift of misunderstanding how the cosmos always offers more than we can take, and asks less than we can offer, almost destroyed me.

All the “stuff” I longed for as a child and teenager I eventually went after in a bigger way as an adult, and every bit of it has been crap. Most items have been broken, left behind, and forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my toys and conveniences, but as far as true abundance goes, they represent nothing. Their value is superficial and fleeting. What I search for now are those elusive inner qualities that are priceless. I want those attitudes and beliefs that kings and sultans could never hope to buy. I seek what must be earned; and so far the hunt for treasure has been extremely rewarding.

One of the first gifts I’ve made use of, and continue to exercise, is ANTICIPATION. This might sound funny, but quite often the journey leading up to the event (whatever it is I’ve planned and worked for) can be very enjoyable and fulfilling. Having goals and working towards a vision is what keeps my world from becoming dull and repetitive. I swear I have just as much fun planning our vacations as I do taking them. Whenever I draw or paint it’s often the process I seek more than the product. This blog is the perfect example of my conviction. I would never continue with it if the ONLY goal was the eventual publication of my book. I actually like the trip; it’s fun, productive, and surprising. I’ve also gained an inner satisfaction that’s  intangible. I can’t point to it, put it on the shelf, or show it off. It exists, it’s real, and it’s completely immaterial.

The second gift I’ve nurtured is APPRECIATION; and you might be surprised what I’ve come to appreciate. I of course express this emotion to those people, things, and events that have raised my quality of living, but I also express this for those people, things, and events that have threatened my sanity, health, and even existence. The most valuable thing I own is my recovery. It’s been the most horrific road I’ve ever walked, but in doing so I’ve gained the power of perspective. I was lost in an ocean of misery with no thought of rescue, yet here I sit in spite of the odds. I’ve stated this before and I repeat it now, “I would not give up one moment of suffering for the promise of eternal bliss.” Why? Because I would rather know what can be overcome, than foresee what I might face. I don’t invite uncomfortable or unwanted situations just so I can gain strength and insight, but I don’t avoid them either. I feel that appreciation exercised properly equals both patience and wisdom; two things that only practice can gain.

The third gift is the joy of GIVING. Here I speak mostly of actions; little of items. When I do it expecting some sort of repayment or recognition, I lose the benefit of my intent, and almost always I end up disappointed; and yes, I still do this on a regular basis. However, when my mind is in line with the correct philosophy, I invite surprising and magnified fortunes. I give credit where credit is due. I often give beyond what is expected of me. I give prayer to everyone. I give praise to my opponents and acknowledgement when they impress me.  I give the benefit of doubt to those who are ridiculed and judged, especially if they are unable to defend themselves. I give to myself as well; permission to change my mind, occasionally a nap, sometimes solitude, and always dreams, laughter, comfort, and love.

The fourth gift is ACCEPTANCE. My definition of acceptance is simple. Everything is always exactly as is should be. Another way to look at it is, “nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.” IF something were to happen that shouldn’t, we would have to accept that there’s more than one point of origin to the cosmos. This is of course a completely illogical statement.  When I actively believe this, my inclination to judge is eliminated. I still need a LOT of practice with this one. All too often I try to impose how I think the world should be when God (or the universe as a whole, if you prefer a more scientific picture) is doing just fine without my input. Do I still want to change the world? You better believe it, because even though pain and suffering exists as God allows it to, so does God allow my desire and efforts to end it as well. There’s a dichotomy for you.

The fifth gift is CREATIVENESS. I have been blessed with an active mind and active hands. This means the tools necessary to take whatever I can imagine and make it into reality is no further away than planning and execution. I have a list of the projects and adventures I will continue to move forward on. It grows daily and my future promises to be greater and more expressive than where I’ve been and what I’ve done. Creativeness to me, is the power of God; it is the power of manifestation. God thinks a thing and then it happens, and so do we. The tendency of life is the reconstruction of the world around us to reflect how we feel and think. The more I do it, the more I find my purpose. All visionaries have been nothing more than dreamers who took action, and everyone who has ever moved this planet has followed the same path.

The last gift I’ll talk about is FORGIVENESS. Here is the seed of love. With proper tending it’s growth will produce complete peace and harmony in life, for surely resentment will cause nothing but distress and chaos. There was a time when I refused to forgive. I held grudges towards others and shame for myself, and suffered because of my refusal to let go of the past. Please read this entry on my blog-  https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/ It explains in further detail what can and must be done to eliminate the self-constructed shackles of life.

Here again are my six gifts in summary-

  1. Anticipate……….tomorrow
  2. Appreciate………the moment and the past
  3. Give………………without want
  4. Accept…………..all is perfect
  5. Create…………..anything you want
  6. Forgive…………..and Love

I welcome you to share what gifts you have discovered in your life. Perhaps together we can find new ways to increase our abundance.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

 

 

58. SUREFIRE SELF-DESTRUCTION

 

best fire

Do not let the fire of your hatred destroy the only person capable of putting it out.

57. A QUESTION

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52. BUILDING CONFIDENCE

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There was a time, not so long ago, when believing in myself was nothing more than knowing I could drink a fifth of vodka and then eat a whole extra-large pizza in one sitting. My skills were as dull as a marshmallow and my drive was limited to wherever the closest liquor store was.  I placed no value on my existence, nor did anyone else. It was as if I were incarcerated, doomed to watch the world pass me by through the bars of my little window. To be honest, I was jealous of those who seemed to flow through their days with focus, determination, and purpose. Their attitude was one of self-respect, fortitude, and dedication;  while mine was one of lack, self-destruction, and selfishness. I wanted more than anything to possess what seemed unreachable. Through practice, patience, and effort I was able to nail down the following definition of success and fulfillment.

I believe above all other (material) pursuits, beyond money, power, and fame there sits at the top of the mountain, confidence.  Once possessed nothing else is needed. This elusive quality is the elixir of manifestation. It moves in grace, planning its strategy while embracing the moment, knowing what it wants without ignoring the audience. It does not seek to improve its image by boasting or advertising.  It is quiet, calm, and aware. It does not complain, nor does it ridicule. It gives credit and takes little. When this behavior is attempted by those who don’t understand how it must be carefully developed, it comes across as cockiness, and this of course, is the way of oblivion.

Here is the equation- Cockiness wants admiration for its “abilities” without being asked to provide actions or a history to back them up. Its modus operandi is recognition and approval. It prefers the sales pitch over the product. Confidence, on the other hand,  wants to take action, thereby allowing it a chance to build a list of achievements. It needs no recognition from others and cares not for trophies. It prefers the product over the sales pitch.  Cockiness lives in a state of reactiveness, it plays the antagonist. Confidence is about moving through life proactively and it plays the ally. Cockiness is quick to point out what needs fixed and is easily insulted, which means it’s reactions are mostly of a mistrusting, defensive nature. Confidence is quick to complement and willing to help, which means it’s actions are mostly trusting and cooperative.

How many seek the self-assured life  but  settle  for its adversary?  I certainly have on many occasions, especially when I was a young man. It’s easy to understand the temptation of trying to impress others without having to provide evidence. Shortcuts have an appeal, but rarely do they yield reward. The “reward” in this case is the journey, nothing else. It’s like trying to convince someone you’re a bodybuilder without having the muscles to prove it. It sounds funny, but this type behavior is overwhelmingly common.

All I can share is what I know so far. Most of what I’ve picked up over the years comes from mimicking the patterns of those who already possess what I want. Here is a list of twelve bullet points that might help. It’s not professional, it’s just my opinion.

  • Don’t ask others to believe in you; believe in yourself.
  • Make a list of values and ethics that will force you expect more from yourself than others will ever expect from you.
  • Moving or thinking somewhat slower allows for more calculated actions and responses. It will appear to observers that there’s a dedicated mind  behind the process; which there is.
  • Be quick to admit fault. This removes the temptation to blame.
  • Be quick to admit defeat. This creates partners instead of rivals.
  • Be quick to offer praise, be hesitant to express dissatisfaction.
  • Shine a light on the past to sell the future. Nothing beats a track record.
  • Avoid anger, frustration, and resentment. Remember, “He who walks away from confrontation with the lowest blood pressure, wins.”
  • The only punishment allowed for “failure” is to keep going with a new strategy. Repeating old tactics isn’t permitted.
  • DO NOT hesitate to ask for both help and criticism from those who are better than you.
  • Say “Yes” and “No” a lot without embellishment. I.E.- Do you want to eat out tonight? No. Would you be willing to help me next Thursday? Yes.
  • Strive to become better than you were yesterday. The only person you are allowed to compete with is who you were.

Am I always confidant? No. I am, however, much more than practiced I used to be, and I expect this skill will increase with continued awareness. Not a day goes by where I don’t  “break” at least some of these rules and end up paying instantly for my ignorance. At least I am also confident that by action I’m quite capable of demonstrating what NOT to do.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

25. ALL THE WORLD IS A MIRROR…

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I once met a man who acted exactly like me and I couldn’t stand him. This is the God’s honest truth. As I stood there slack-jawed, watching this person complain, blame, and throw a tantrum, I was both amused and horrified. His behavior was not just disruptive to his own agenda, it was interfering with the duties of those around him. As he flailed about it dawned upon me that all of his energy was being used on the opposite of what he said he wanted; getting the job done. I was a year and a half past my most self destructive behavior when this happened, and I was grateful for having witnessed it. I’d never been so stunned in my life. I was this man; selfish, self-centered, and looking for excuses in my environment that could perpetuate my behavior. I felt sick. I also felt fortunate.

Do I really feel we see ourselves in others? Yes. There is a way to use this observation to  great advantage, and it’s probably not what you think it is. Most people don’t want to openly admit their mistakes or flaws, preferring instead to keep a mental note of what not to repeat should similar situations arise. Fair enough, though the benefits of humility, trust, and respect will flourish when one is quick to admit error to those it has inconvenienced. Since it is rather painful to look at what annoys us the most and try to find that part of ourselves that aligns with what needs purged, I would suggest an entirely different path. Look instead to everyone around you and seek out what is good, beautiful, perfect, and pleasant. In turn you will subconsciously elevate those same qualities in yourself. There is no need to evaluate the “bad” in others when observing the “good” will benefit you more. Don’t get me wrong, just as the beginning of this essay pointed out, I was glad to discover what needed changed. I think it’s easy to see that if I were to be in  constant (negative) judgment, and then go on to justify this state of mind by announcing that I was in search of myself, my ego would simply take over and I would revert to thinking I couldn’t be nearly as “broken” as those I was witness to.

Do not the best of us also see nothing but the best in others? Do not the most negative see nothing but an imperfect and broken world? Think about that for a moment. History has its examples just as our own families and colleagues provide theirs. Consider this, I believe that redemption is available to the worst of us; because if it isn’t available to the worst of us, then is isn’t available to any of us. What this means to me is that there is good in everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. The harder we look for it in others the more we must express it in our own lives. This practice lends itself to a life of love, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, and empathy.  All of man’s struggles seem to arise from the absence of these five qualities. Let’s not let the opposite determine our actions..

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/worlds-colliding/