Compassion

92. MY MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT

Secret

Okay……. before you read this entry you HAVE to watch the commercial I’m going to reference, don’t worry, it’s only 33 seconds long.

In the late seventies and early eighties TV was a repetitious monster. With only three networks, (PBS doesn’t count here) programming was ridiculously limited and choice of entertainment was quite literally never much of a choice. It had been that way for years, decades at the time, and so too were the inescapable commercials sandwiched between shows. Many were relentlessly ran ad nauseam. By the time some were finally pulled from circulation the child actors had most likely become college graduates.

One of the tricks then, and still today, was to (hopefully) insert contagious catch phrases into our daily lives. Once repeated they’ll anchor themselves back to the item being pitched. It doesn’t matter if the connection is negative or positive because the manufacturer figures we still have their product (instead of someone else’s) in our heads.

One such ad was for “Calgon” which is, for those who don’t know, a powdered additive not normally found in regular laundry detergents. The still above is shows a white customer in a cleaners run by people from an Asian decent. No one thought it was wrong or out-of-place then, but it sticks out now with a somewhat slimy racial feel, at least in my opinion. At any rate the ad ran for close to six or seven years from the seventies to the eighties. Everyone made fun of it and for good reason.

I know I did one too many times…..

Sometime around nineteen eighty-five I was working nights as the lead of the janitorial crew at a local Target store here in the Denver-metro area. The duties were physically demanding and often tedious. When the larger areas were clean and perfect, management had a tendency to (justifiably) look for smaller flaws in harder to clean areas. So did we; and not just out of a sense of duty, but pride as well. Thus it came to be one night when the doors were locked and the customers had left, and while the evening closing crews were facing the shelving and putting things away, that I was approached with a nice complement from one of the store’s employees.

I happened to be on my hands and knees digging some gunk out of  one of the corners up front. My back was turned when I heard a voice behind me.

“You know, your floors always look so clean and shiny. How do you do it?”

Instantly the “Calgon” commercial jumped to mind and in a moment of complete un-inspiration, I opened my big mouth.

As I was standing up and turning around to face my admirer I uttered those words tattooed in my brain.

“It’s an ancient Chinese secret!”

As luck would have it turned out he was an Asian gentleman. Not only that he was REALLY pissed. My mind went instantly to another racial stereotype while I envisioned my ass getting kicked Bruce Lee Style.

As I stood there, feeling the blood draining from my face and my I.Q, dropping sharply, I stammered trying to redeem myself with zero effect. I’m sure he knew where my reference had originated, but that made little difference. After staring a hole through my skull, he eventually just turned and walked away.

Have you ever locked your keys in the car and realized what you were doing as you were swinging the door shut? You want to stop the momentum, but it isn’t going to happen and you become witness to your own stupidity.

Noooooo!

SLAM!

crap………

Such was my experience in this event. I spent the good part of the following week sick to my stomach. After that I was a lot more careful to curb my knee jerk reactions. Those who know me these days might say I’m still over spontaneous with my mouth, and yes, I do taste my foot more often than I’d like, but there was a time where no aforethought existed at all. I eventually found a way to soften those moments of potential rudeness.

I try to ask myself “What’s the kindest thing I can respond with here?”

I try……

My cringe-worthy moments are rare these days but I will say this; most of them are bred from an effort to expel humor, not really as an attempt to impress my audience, but instead to amuse myself. In the end, my ego gleefully puts my neck in the noose while I commit social suicide.

Thank God I can laugh at my past now. I’ve learned to forgive those events I used to hold on to that others have let fade from memory, but I really do think the man I insulted over thirty years ago never forgot that night.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

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80. ELIMINATING EVIL

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

69. SPIRITUAL OR RELIGIOUS?

clouds

Years ago I was sitting in the basement of a large unfinished home taking lunch with my then supervisor, Ken. I enjoyed working with him and I admired his approach to life. In a world of false pretense his attitude of conviction and faith stood out; he truly seemed to stand by and practice what he believed. Often the conversation would drift towards our belief systems and it was mutually pleasant. An outsider might think we had a lot of differences, but in truth we shared a passion to learn from each other. When he talked I listened; when I talked he listened. I enjoyed his company immensely and all these years later I still think of him quite often.

This day was different from most. It was a little more peaceful, a little more relaxed. The incessant chatter of my selfish mind ceased and I tuned in.  The moment surprised me because I had no forethought to what I was about to say. There was a lull in our discussion and I was moved to pay my friend a complement.

“Ken, I think you’re a really spiritual guy.”

“I think you are too, Daniel,” he said returning the observation with a large smile between bites.

“You know what I think the difference between spiritual and religious is?”

“What’s that?” He said.

“Well, it seems that spiritual people have an intense desire to share with those willing to listen what’s working in their lives, while religious people have a need to argue with as many as possible what isn’t working in the lives of others.”

It was as if the entire universe leaned over and whispered in my ear.

I was thunderstruck. Where did THAT come from? One other time there had been a voice from the ether, but that was before I’d gone into recovery. This was unique, it wasn’t quite a voice I heard: it was more like something flowed through me. The energy of the cosmos had aligned with me: or perhaps I with it. In any case, it changed me. For those who have experienced epiphanies, you know what I mean.

Honestly, I have nothing against religion. I feel it is a wonderful place to begin a path of spirituality and it’s probably difficult to do so without it. I doubt a spiritual leader ever lived that had little to no background in some sort of existing faith. If my observations are correct, the more religious a person is who is in tune with a connection to spirit, the more personal the relationship with God is for them. Those who inspire leadership shine by example. They enthusiastically share, (not preach) taking care to never judge others or belittle them. When the framework of religion is used as a whipping post for those who do not agree with the views of their accusers it becomes the ultimate example of arrogance, ridicule, and eventually, violence. “You are wrong, I am right. You are bad, I am good, and here are my reasons for reinforcing my convictions by pointing out what I think you need to change.” Yuck. Makes me ill just re-reading that last sentence. Here lies the seed of worldwide conflict. Here is where hate is born. Here is where fear and persecution prevails. Here is where the destruction of our world will begin; in fact, it may have already.

As a child I was taught that “leading by example” was the best way to show others a better path or system. I thought the reasoning was absurd at the time. Such is the youthful mind. I now see it’s the only way to teach. If I really want to share, then I must possess and express an abundance of what others want. Only then, when I’m approached by those who feel they lack what I have, am I free to give. I never will shove onto others what I think they need. It’s always up to them to be accepting. This is why when I attempt to “lead by example” I MUST live what I believe so that others can see cause and effect in action. When this is done well there’s no need to recruit anyone; they will approach and ask how they can reproduce the same results, they will wonder what the hell is in my gas tank.

Personally, I love those who share, even if they are facing a different direction. Magnetic personalities are wired to the qualities of love, compassion, and humility; enviable traits to be sure. It’s hard to not like these people, we want to be in their vicinity, instinctively knowing that their influence by presence alone can help us align with pure spirit. If  however, we meet those people who are in the mode of arguing (or judging) then this acts as a repellent, at least for me. They express doubt, disrespect, and conceit. I pay them as little audience as possible, polity backing away while they look around for fresh prey.

If you are having a difficult time connecting to spirit, I can help with a little experiment I heard Wayne Dyer do with an audience some time ago.

Point to your self…….aw, go on, no one is looking.

One hundred per-cent of people, every culture, every ethnicity, every age does the same thing.

They point to their heart………

No one points to their head. No one. Even though we understand every body function is regulated from this place, we have an awareness there’s something else behind who we are. Our brains are the software, and the body is the hardware, but neither one is the user. Again we come to the difference between religion and spirit. None among us have exactly the same religious beliefs. Not only do doctrines vary widely, but so do opinions within those doctrines. Spirit however, remains constant because its source is identical to everyone else’s, its “seat” shares the same space.

Our connection to the universe is constant and cannot be shut off. It can, however, be ignored, but I do not recommend this course. A lifetime of pleasing the body but not the spirit leads to indulgence and misery. Please do not deny your true self the nourishment it craves. If we feed it what it wants most, recognition, attention, and expression, our lives will embrace peace, joy, and love.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

42. I LOVE YOU!

SONY DSCAnd I intend to prove it……….

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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

14. THE STRENGTH OF COMPASSION

heart water

Once, a long time ago, I was witness to a hit and run. Never really saw the car, but I was the man who stopped to help the victim. She remained conscious and I remained calm, all the while telling her that things were going to be just fine. I knew they weren’t. She was bleeding from her eyes and ears and was concerned about her husband getting upset that she was going to miss work that day. I took off my coat and gently placed it over her, worried that the cold, snowy ground was going to compound problems of shock. The collision was so hard that her shoes bounced off my windshield some forty feet away, so my gut feeling was that there was much more injury than could be diagnosed by casual observation. I continued a simple reassuring conversation with her, never letting on what I really thought. My only goal was to keep her from panicking. Within minutes the paramedics showed up. Her condition in this short span had already showed signs of deterioration. The blood flow from her injuries was increasing and she had lost her eyesight. I never asked her what her name was. I guess I didn’t need to. They whisked her off, and I continued to work, wondering if she was even going to live. Seventeen years later, I still wonder.

What behavior marks the pinnacle of our aspirations? That morning I spent ten minutes lying to a total stranger, and yet at the time I knew I’d done the right thing. That morning I treated someone differently than I might have wanted them to treat me, and looking back, I wouldn’t hesitate doing the same thing again. That morning, though tragic for someone else, forced me to abandon what I normally thought of as proper conduct and embrace a much more powerful idea, kindness.

The “Golden Rule” that all of us are familiar with is something I cannot fully endorse anymore. It is a good idea and a great place to start, but it can be abusive and heartless if practiced with too much passion. I am forty-eight years old. I carry no shame with my age and I never will. For one, I’ve never associated how old I am with who I am. Now I ask you, just because I carry this belief close to my heart, does this give me free rein to ask all who cross my path what their age is? There is no doubt that this is indeed treating others the way I want to be treated, but the very idea of doing this is selfish and inconsiderate. The “Golden Rule” applies in this situation only when I change the angle of approach by generalizing the moment; would I want a total stranger asking me a question I was unprepared or unwilling to answer? Of course not.

The second situation that seemed to violate my ethics all those years ago was lying. My heart knew this was a circumstance where the outcome could easily end with the death of the person I was talking to. Yes, it did cross my mind; what I would want to hear if the roles were reversed? If I felt the end might be near, would I like the chance to say goodbye to those I loved? Would I want to express a final thought? Would I want to ask forgiveness for things I could no longer correct? These are harsh questions and not to be lightly asked when a life hangs in the balance. I suppose if death were eminent, that there was no chance living, then yes, by all means I would want the truth. Even then I suppose I’d want it tempered with reassurance and faith that what awaited was not to be feared. I had no idea what lay in store for this woman an hour from then, but I had a grasp of what the immediate future held. Instead of handing her the facts, I opted to give her nothing but hope. It wasn’t just for her, but to a small degree, me as well. I had to share a belief that things were okay, if nothing else so that she could hang on long enough for those who could bring real aid to have a better chance.

One of my mentors says, “When facing the choice to be right or to be kind comes up, choose kindness.” This means never saying to someone “I told you so.” There are of course times that require a blunt approach, but they always seem to come before any given incident not after. I feel honesty is best used as a warning. It also comes in handy to point out unrecognized acts of self-destruction, but even this is still nothing more than a warning to not repeat oneself. Basically, I believe that “Honesty precedes, while compassion follows.”

To live  compassionately is my goal. To be empathetic (not sympathetic) towards all I meet is  the life I demand of myself. To align with another individual’s priorities, even for just a moment, erases my ego. I cannot be “self-centered” when I become “they-centered.” This is a blessing of the highest sort. All the pain, anguish, bitterness, hostility, angst, regret, and fear that had so effectively eroded  my life was the direct result of the storms of my selfishness. The peace that compassion continues to feed me, strengthens me. May it strengthen all of us.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

13. A GIFT TO A FRIEND

old potter

This post contains a poem I wrote as a gift to a friend years ago. He’s gone now, but his influence lives on. His physical presence is nothing more than a memory. I don’t even have a photo of him, yet his image is as vivid to me as the first time I ever met the man. It’s almost as if I can see him in my reflection now, not as a copy or imitation, but as a continuation of the best he had to offer.

How does one repay someone for saving their life? Is there any price that can be offered to balance the scales and compensate for this act of selflessness? Yes, there is. The gifts we receive that allow us a better life must be shared; they must be, or they will not fulfill the intention of the universe, and that is perpetuation with abundance.

You may be wondering how this blog entry applies to the subject of self-help. There was a time where I wasn’t sure my existence had any significance at all. This has changed. I now know  we all have a place, a destiny, that fits in perfectly and harmoniously with the world around us. Unfortunately,  the opposite is also just as true. All of us also have a path we can choose that is destructive and painful to those we care for as well as ourselves. The more we nurture our environment, the more we draw sustenance from it. The more we abuse our surroundings, the more it will, in turn, injure us. There is a way to manifest that place that gives life meaning, and it’s not difficult to find.  For the moment, the observation that it functions in others is priority. The more we observe something at work that does not exist in our lives, the more we create faith that it is indeed possible in our own.

Look to those you know or have known in your life that live with purpose. They move effortlessly and gracefully through their days, doing what they do well, sharing their talents without demanding and accepting everything with an abundance of gratitude. Is there not admiration for these people? Is there not a healthy dose of envy that beckons us to reproduce these conditions for ourselves?

This poem is not directly about the man in question I mentioned at the beginning. The imagery is more representative of how I felt he had found his place.

                                                                           THE POTTER

 

                                                                           When a lazy sun

                                                                           Draws its colors

                                                                           From the evening clouds,

                                                                           And shadows lengthen

                                                                           To embrace the night

                                                                           In silent, murky shrouds,

                                                                           And as the world

                                                                           Goes to sleep

                                                                           Under starlit skies,

                                                                          There comes to life

                                                                          An old man

                                                                          With kindness in his eyes.

                                                                          He slowly rises

                                                                         And lights a lamp

                                                                         To start his work again.

                                                                         A crust of bread,

                                                                         A bit of drink,

                                                                        And then he does begin.

                                                                                   Just as he who picks

                                                                                   And presses grapes

                                                                                   Off  the family vines,

                                                                                   From the juice that flows,

                                                                                   Will then be made

                                                                                   Into family wines.

                                                                                   Just as he who cuts

                                                                                   From the weavers cloth

                                                                                   Patterns which he sews.

                                                                                   And skilled hands

                                                                                   Will turn his craft

                                                                                   Into wearers’ clothes.

                                                                                   Just as he who shapes

                                                                                   Red-hot iron

                                                                                  With a mighty hammer.

                                                                                  As the strokes do fall

                                                                                  Upon the anvil

                                                                                  There’s peace among the clamor.

                                                                                  Just as he who sits

                                                                                 At the wheel

                                                                                 Molding clay and water.

                                                                                 As the stone does whirl

                                                                                Another vessel rises

                                                                                From the old town potter.

                                                                     With a tranquil look

                                                                     And gentle touch

                                                                     He moves in God’s grace.

                                                                     Shaping his gifts to share with others,

                                                                     He has found his place.

                                                                     No longer burdened

                                                                     By the woes of man,

                                                                     He works without a sound.

                                                                     For in himself there lies a calm,

                                                                     A treasure that’s been found.

                                                                     And when he is done

                                                                     Sitting slowly back

                                                                     To see what’s been turned,

                                                                     He will always find

                                                                     That for his efforts

                                                                     There’s more than what’s been earned.

                                                                     When the morning sun

                                                                     Marks another day

                                                                     And birds begin to sing

                                                                     The old town potter

                                                                     Will close his eyes

                                                                     And dream of what the night will bring.

Thank you for letting me share this with you, and may you too find the bliss that is more valuable than all our “material” world has to offer.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

4. WHAT I BELIEVE

principles

Before getting too far into more ground-floor subjects of self-help, I’d like to share with you some of the ideas that make up my foundation. When I first read other authors, I was curious to know what kind of belief system they stood upon. I wasn’t looking to align with any specific philosophy or spiritual viewpoint; it was simply of interest to me what their convictions were. If a way to refine the information about the sources I’d researched would have been accessible, then perhaps a more efficient path of growth would have been available.

I believe one can be both confident and humble at the same time.

I believe being tough means doing things that are tough to do.

I believe I am connected to everything and attached to nothing.

I believe redemption is never beyond the reach of anyone.

I believe we are all bonded, both in flesh and spirit.

I believe all wishes come true.

I believe regrets are grudges I hold against myself.

I believe that whatever I believe in, the opposite must also be true.

I believe I am responsible for everything in my life.

I believe one voice can be heard among billions.

I believe I am both unique and common.

I believe in the power of intention.

I believe that nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.

I believe that yesterday is no indication of tomorrow.

I believe that optimism is wasted unless it’s tempered with action.

I believe nothing improves unless dissatisfaction precedes it.

I believe the journey is the destination.

I believe life gets better every day.

I believe age has nothing to do with potential.

I believe cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I believe all self destructive behavior is anchored in shame.

I believe that in the house that is love, chiseled into the floor of the basement is the word “forgiveness.”

I believe I could be wrong about everything.

I believe I have both a free will and a destiny.

I believe in doing the most, what I’ll regret the least.

I believe there is beauty in everything.

I believe the inability to release and properly express emotion leads to unexpected and unexplainable behavior.

I believe compassion trumps the golden rule.

I believe letting go is the most powerful force I can choose to align with.

I believe whatever I am, I am not this body.

I believe there is no such thing as luck.

I believe I’ll never lose my wonder for the miracle that is this world.

I believe I can do anything.

I believe I see myself in others.

I believe this world is worth saving.

All of these ideas I really do believe in. My life is a continuing example of their manifestation. Some annoy me, some overjoy me, but all serve me well.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood