Values

102. STAYING YOUNG

carnival at night

As long as I live I’ll anxiously await those cheesy Halloween haunted houses that pop up in the weeks preceding what’s arguably the weirdest holiday of the year. They tap into the goofy nature of who I once was and reconnect me with an important part of my psyche I never want to abandon.  As I make my yearly pilgrimage through these dark macabre labyrinths I always seem to find myself laughing. The creativeness and to me, silliness, feed my desire to stay connected to a sense of wonder. It’s an alluring ride of shock and suspense without any real threat of danger. Another, similar experience I clearly remember was my first time visiting a carnival. I was probably six or seven and still wide-eyed almost everywhere I went, but this was different. It was like stepping onto another planet. Barkers in strange costumes were selling their corner to any passerby who would listen. Smells of foods I’d never before tried or heard of wafted through the air, and the lights and sounds of the whirling rides and alluring booths lit the night and gave it an eerie but uplifting soundtrack. Some of it was scary, but most was jaw dropping. It was if I’d stepped into a custom-made dream. Amusement parks still have their appeal, but alas, my constitution disagrees most violently with anything that spins these days. I wish it didn’t.

Childhood, in my opinion, is where the least amount of discrimination and the most amount of acceptance is found. I believe this observation is the first key to youthfulness. As we grow older we must not only remain open to new and exciting experiences, we also have an obligation to deliberately put ourselves in the position of attracting and manufacturing such events. Any situation of unpredictability mixed with anticipation is the secret ingredient for a powerful life affirming experience. Witness the abundance of death-defying activities from the fairly benign, like roller-coasters, to downright dangerous even for those who are experts, free climbing. Once a certain age has passed creating awe becomes paramount when reconnecting to a youthful perspective. It comes naturally when we are young because our mind still has a lot of blank space. There’s relatively little in our past to equate to current events, so we simply experience our lives. The problem is the more we age, the more we compare and life becomes smoother and easier. It’s supposed to, but in the process we leave behind our ability to face the world in a non-judgmental or open-minded manner. I recognized this a long time ago so I started looking for new roads to explore. Planning and taking action on setting up surprises is a huge part of my life, and strangely I receive almost as much joy in the arrangement and expectation as I do once my intentions come to fruition. It’s a double win; which brings me to the second key.

Envisioning and perusing new events will usually result in adventurous or exciting circumstances, but there’s a more important reason to practice this habit. When we were kids almost ALL our thought processes were in the mode of anticipation. We constantly looked forward, which is why it felt as if our birthdays were three years apart. And the days before Christmas, are you kidding? THAT took forever. The opposite was true if we didn’t want something to happen, time would seem to speed up and all too soon we would find ourselves standing before an angry parent over a bad report card or facing down the class bully after school. In any case I believe looking forward STILL slows down time no matter what, it’s just that looking forward to good things slows it down to a greater degree. Life marches on and history accumulates as we grow older prompting a tendency to want to reminisce more and more, but here lurks a hidden danger. Our brain is hard-wired to want to forget bad things and remember good things, which is why so many look back to what they think are “the good old days.” This is an illusion, one that breeds the conviction our past is where all the best moments are. It’s easy and common to get lost in this train of thought. The more we immerse ourselves in yesterday, the more we fail to look ahead, or even acknowledge our present situations. This is why the older we get, the more time seems to speed up and in the process it ages us terribly. Occasionally reminiscing is not all that horrible, but continually doing so  can eventually lead to regret. Once the veil of what we wanted to forget is inevitably lifted because of how much time is spent looking back, it can trap us there. We dwell on what we cannot change and (subconsciously) punish ourselves for not doing things differently. This can become a dark path few return from.

Those who embrace anticipation and create excitement perpetuate youthfulness. There’s a common behavior practiced daily that separates them from everyone else. It’s laughter. Humor, especially the ability to laugh at oneself, is the secret ingredient to living enthusiastically. Laughter (in the context of kindness ONLY) is hardcore evidence of an enjoyable and often spontaneous lifestyle. It’s obvious when we look to those who don’t seem to age. They are masters of not only seeing the bright side of life, they elevate it to the next level by doing what it takes to express themselves beyond simply smiling.  Often they have a gift for unintentionally raising the attitudes and dispositions of those in close proximity. On the other hand, those who seem to age faster than they should spend most of their time looking back and reacting to life rather than acting on it instead. Their laughter, when it does happen, is almost always at the expense of someone else’s pain or misfortune and it’s akin to inviting cancer into one’s life, not a good idea.

I am not my past, nor do I want to live there no matter how wonderful I try to convince myself it was. Old news. It’s no doubt important to know what needs avoided or re-created, but I can accomplish this quite efficiently using a rear-view mirror. No need to turn around, no need to spotlight events from yesterday in order to justify the moment. All excuses for lousy, self-destructive behavior (which leads to a fast-lived, quick to die life) thrive in the gardens of history. When we stop watering and tending to them, excuses disappear, as they should.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

 

78. A NEW BLOG FOR A BETTER WORLD

earth-from-the-moon

Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening!

I have started a new blog to discuss what it might take to make the world a better place. Job creation and world peace are two of the topics. Three entries so far and more on the way. Please stop by and let me know what you think!

LET’S MOVE OUR WORLD

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

19. WHAT I REFUSE TO BELIEVE

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Some time ago I posted an entry designed to better introduce myself called “WHAT I BELIEVE”.  It was only half of where I stand; this completes the circle. There are common convictions many endorse that I refuse to. They hinder advancement and are useless. I choose to embrace only those philosophies which lead me away from chaos and destruction.  My goal is to live a life of peaceful constructiveness. This is NOT a path of religious sentiment nor is it the result of following a singular teaching; it’s a journey of being faithful to my spirit. I trust in guidance from an inner place. I’m not referring to that loud obnoxious voice, the one wanting nothing but pleasures of the body, known as the ego. No, I speak of an almost silent whisper coming from the deep chambers of my soul. There is where I listen, getting what I need without asking for direction. This connection has served me well and I look forward to seeing where it will eventually take me.

I refuse to blame

I refuse to believe there is never a choice.

I refuse to believe in luck.

I refuse to believe the world is getting worse.

I refuse to believe I am a victim.

I refuse to believe in seduction.

I refuse to believe the past equals the future.

I refuse to believe that there’s somewhere where God is not.

I refuse to believe that there are those beyond hope.

I refuse to believe in ugliness.

I refuse to believe I am separate from God.

I refuse to believe in impossibilities.

I refuse to believe good guys finish last.

I refuse to believe in death.

I refuse to believe first impressions.

I refuse to believe that I can’t make a difference.

I refuse to believe  negativity.

I refuse to believe I’m given more than I can handle.

I refuse to believe I cannot change.

I refuse to believe in fear.

I refuse to believe in imperfection.

I refuse to believe violence is an answer.

I refuse to fight against anything. (I will fight for something though)

I refuse to be offended.

I refuse to be late.

I refuse to stop being just a bit juvenile sometimes.

I refuse to let a day go by without trying to make someone laugh.

I refuse to be an example of what not to do.

I refuse to sell myself short.

I refuse to complain.

I refuse to do something I know I’ll regret.

I refuse to leave this world wondering what I could have done better.

I refuse to not check for toilet paper before I sit down.

I refuse to try to impress people.

I refuse to let other people’s opinions change my opinion about me.

I refuse to ever stop growing.

I refuse to ignore my feelings.

I refuse to think I’m always right.

I refuse to hate.

I refuse to ignore a cry for help.

I refuse to be unkind.

I refuse to be lazy.

I know what I don’t want because at some point I used to practice these, and they almost destroyed me. As time goes on I’m sure I’ll purge more beliefs and habits. Humble pie tastes terrible but it sure does a good job of cleaning me out.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

18. BEING TOUGH

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When I was young I got into a lot of fights. I don’t recall ever starting a single one. They were all  reactionary. It always took a lot of shoving before I finally shoved back. I never threw the first punch; didn’t really have the guts for it. This isn’t to say I wasn’t an instigator of sorts. I was self-centered, loud, opinionated, and downright strange. My attitude and behavior rubbed many the wrong direction. I never felt as if I were being a jerk nor was I conscious of how disruptive I could be; it’s just that my manners didn’t always put others first, something I eventually learned, thank God.

The desire to solve situations from a state of anger is the easily one of the most common routes traveled, especially for men. From playgrounds to the world stage we are witness to its evidence on a daily basis. There are other ways with similar properties, laziness, ignorance, apathy, victimization, and so on. These paths are so worn that very little grows here. Do not take this metaphor lightly. Truly, when  we embrace the easy routes, nothing will manifest towards challenging us to be better. We think it’s tough to put up a fight, stand our ground, and defend what we believe in. Upon the contrary actually. The REAL way to personify toughness  is to walk away from a fight, change our minds, and  defend those we don’t agree with. To be tough, really tough, we must do those things that are tough to do.

When I began the journey out of my fog, my mentor asked me what I wanted to accomplish from the challenges that lay ahead. I stated my goal was to prove to him just how tough I could be. He said that was my ego talking; it wasn’t. I knew that a truly better life was something not very many choose to pursue. The way was never clearly marked, but the promise of capturing something few could claim to own was all the invitation I needed. What I speak of is a life lived in constant conscious improvement. I refer the triad of existence – mind, body, and spirit. Feed these three the proper nutrients and they will both grow and serve. Personally my list is rather clear. I want to every day become a little more healthy, informed, kind, productive, empathetic, honest, etc. Please take note here to see the qualities I have sought to expand are interior ones. I focus NO energy at all on such things as a bigger car, increased power, more money, or a better reputation. These pursuits are, believe it or not, the easier way. They may seem difficult at first, but when compared to strengthening the point of origin, they’re child’s play. I have nothing against a better exterior, but in order for it to be fulfilling, at least to me, it must be the result of living from the inside out.

I dare you to go forth and become the toughest person you’ve ever met. Drop the need to be right. Be in a constant state of politeness. Look the homeless in the eye and smile while you think a kind thought. Be willing to give without expecting or asking for compensation. Learn a new language. Defend the absent. Ask for help. Learn how to play an instrument. Read Shakespeare. Show your emotions. Throw or give away all the stuff you don’t use anymore. Stop complaining and start praising. Do these things sound tough to do? Damn right; some of them for some, all of them for others. Obviously the list could continue with a plethora of examples.

There are a few ways to determine your toughest route, so try these suggestions.

  •  Make a list of your fears.

      Decide to, one at a time, eradicate irrational fears. They serve nothing and take up too much room in an already crowded life. Not wanting to enter a dark alley in a bad part of town is a rational fear. That little spider on the countertop poses a zero threat, really. This is an irrational fear.

  •  Recognize that we see ourselves in others.

     This is literally the fastest way to pinpoint what needs improving. Don’t believe me? Try leaving for work with plenty of time and see if the traffic is even slightly annoying. When you are late those who are also late will get in your way. When you’re early you won’t care who’s late (or thoughtless) around you.

  •  Pick a mentor.

      All of us admire someone. Most of us know at least one person that no wind could move. They are at peace in any situation. They probably have a good deal of abundance in their lives that reflect upon both themselves and their environment. There are of course others in the public eye that can be looked to with the same definition. Remarkably, many of these people choose to share and teach how they remain in an unwavering attitude concerning their commitments to a better way of living. Mimic their behavior and you will reproduce similar results for yourself.

  •  Slow down somewhat and choose a noble course of action.

     When we give a little more time to allow ourselves a choice of actions (rather than the habitual or instinctive ones) we open a window to view alternative courses. I feel we almost always blindly choose the easiest (or perhaps most commonly used) method for approaching  how we “take offence” or “present defense.” For instance when someone insults you, try saying that you were just about to remark on the nice shirt they were wearing. Nothing like water to put out a fire.

  •  Embrace the idea of sacrifice.

There is no reward without the intent of sacrifice. When time is needed to accomplish what must be done, some leisure activities are usually forfeit. When money is needed as seed to help flourish an idea, frivolous spending must come to a stop. When weight is to be lost, chocolate must stay in the candy isle. Most people are reluctant to give up pleasure and replace it with what they think might be pain, but it’s all relative anyway. Take your focus off what might repeat itself from the past, place it on the future, and you will begin to see real change. When we choose to see only what is behind us, we usually miss out on a more fulfilling experience. Walking one way and looking another will  eventually cause a major accident. This practice blinds us to many obscured dangers that lie past our immediate field of vision.

So…..are you tough or easy? Me? I have both characteristics just like most, but the proof that I’m a lot tougher than I used to be presents itself as unexpected abundance, something I’m confidant will never stop expanding.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

17. LIBERTY RE-WRITTEN

 statue-of-liberty

TWENTY REASONS WHY I KNOW THE WORLD IS A MUCH BETTER PLACE THAN IT WAS ONLY 150 YEARS AGO….

  1. Indoor plumbing.
  2. Soap, bathing, deodorant, and a general acceptance toward a cleaner lifestyle.
  3. The 40 hour work week.
  4. We don’t gather in the town square and watch people get hung for lack of entertainment anymore.
  5. The accessibility to a highly educated and well informed life (past even the most scholarly of people) is literally lying in wait to be absorbed at libraries and the internet for FREE.
  6. Refrigeration. It has been suggested that this is the most important invention since the wheel. I agree.
  7. We as a world are recognizing more than ever the potential equality of every human.
  8. More people are working on more solutions for those who suffer than ever before.
  9. The ability for one voice to be heard around the world is easily within the grasp of those who seek it. All change throughout history has started this way, and now it can happen at the speed of light.
  10. Medical advancements have not only relieved hardship and misery from millions, the average life span has been extended so further progress in all areas of existence can be explored by those who survive.
  11. Radio, television, movies, and now the internet now brings to even the most remote regions of the world our capacity to express beauty, art, and our common threads in the form of music, imagery, and literature.
  12. The idea of freedom is the magnetic pull that seeks to unite all mankind. It expands daily and will not be stopped. Hope grows in the minds of those who never dared think it.
  13. Self-help, community support, and 12 step groups have given countless sufferers a path out of darkness that never previously existed.
  14. The electrifying of the planet has done more to bring comfort and convenience into our lives than almost anything else.
  15. The scientific community as a whole, from micro-technology to space travel, drives us to continued exploration of of our boundaries, both inside and out. These achievements perpetuate unity and purpose.
  16. We are finally recognizing we cannot continue exploiting our support system, a.k.a- the planet itself. “Saving the Earth” is NOT about whether or not it can overcome our abuse, it will. I’t’s about whether or not we will be on it when it eventually does. We are finally seeing we can only s**t  where we sleep so long.
  17. A largely unrecognized step in our recent evolution is the rise of humor. From visual media to literature, from stand-up comics to comic strips, we have embrace the desire to share and perpetuate laughter.
  18. Feats of engineering have improved almost everyone’s lives. Roads, buildings, heating and air conditioning, all forms of transportation, etc. are part of a better, more connected, world. The list is vast and continues to grow.
  19. Prejudice is waning and forgiveness is growing.The treatment of groups that were once trod upon for ethnic, political, spiritual, mental, and sexual issues or reasons is slowly fading away. In return these groups are learning to release the hate they have expressed towards their oppressors and move on into lives of self-empowerment; dropping the need to blame or accuse current situations on past events.
  20. The beauty of our universe is being revealed in ways never before dreamed. The magnificence of this infinite painting that God has so eloquently created is beyond description. If united we can look upon this and realize just what a miracle it is even to do so, then perhaps we have a chance to grow beyond our differences and continue in peaceful coexistence.

Do I know there are circumstances in the world that need to be erased? Do I know the aforementioned conditions are not everywhere? Of course I do. The goal here is NOT to dwell on problems, but solutions. Please feel free to add to this list and make it grow. Focus on what is already good and getting better. This isn’t a wish list, it’s a recognition one. The dreams of today are the cradles of our children. May future generations have the hindsight to thank their ancestors better than we have.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood