Kindness

107. AN UNPOPULAR OPINION

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If I could share the truth of one and only one thing, it would be this –

We cannot make the world a better place by fighting to get rid what we don’t want. We MUST, instead, focus our energies on what creating we do want. Creation is the force of positive change. Destruction is the catalyst of negative change.

Here then is the cyclical problem facing us today…

“Ignorance of hate” and the “hate of ignorance” are the exact same energy.

Too few realize this.

I grow weary of a society that’s essentially eating away at itself. I speak, of course, about our political and social climate in the United States. There are throngs who support our destruction (or perhaps better illuminated as de-construction) with blind ignorance, and on the seemingly opposite side, there are those who unknowingly give the monster exactly what it feeds upon the most, unending hate. These motives are anchored equally in selfishness. They both magnify pride over humility.

What then is our course of action? Which path leads to our best mutual benefit? It hasn’t been walked in a while, that’s for sure. It lies in hibernation, waiting for the resurrection of sanity and unity. The disease of blame we have embraced as a country must be cleansed. We collectively point fingers, convinced we’re doing good by showcasing the so-called enemy as a force that must be eradicated.

Please stop, I beg you. I plead with all my heart and soul. The art of cooperation, the quality of empathy, and the spirit of service must rise from the ashes of separation, indifference, and malice. We are wallowing in a state of reaction rather than action. We think we’re doing something when in fact we are doing nothing at all.

If you’re truly open-minded, if you really are religious (and I don’t care what religion you insert here), if you consider yourself a good person, ask yourself, “how am I making the world a better place by example?” What actions (again, NOT re-actions) are you putting your energy into? I’m not suggesting to lower one’s defenses when being attacked, that’s suicide by default and is the fast track to erasing motivation. Let me be blunt here, defending our beliefs, while it’s occasionally justifiable, must be a distant second to the manifestation of what we want. Without a clear and active vision of what tomorrow should be, we inevitably invite those waiting in the sidelines to fill the coming void, and all to often those replacements are far more powerful and destructive than their predecessors. Just because the so-called “enemy” is defeated doesn’t mean the audience it attracted goes with it.

It sounds clichéd to say we give power to those we oppose when we defend ourselves, it’s not. Why? Because if the opinion of another doesn’t matter to begin with, it’s impossible to get mad at them. As soon as we do, we validate their viewpoint and in turn give the enemy exactly what it seeks. I know, it’s SO tempting to want to fire back, especially when we see actions that hurt or belittle others. Please do not meet them on their terms, invite them to yours. Stay aligned with your beliefs while letting them know the intimidation game they’re playing has no effect on your goals. I do, however, applaud the direct involvement of stopping pain and suffering because this creates an example of action, one that can possibly inspire thousands more. This takes a ton of courage, both to stay calm while doing it, and knowing we are placing ourselves in the line of fire, sometimes literally.

Fantasy may be the blueprint of reality, but so is fear. Whatever energy we choose magnify will inevitably materialize, so obviously there’s more than enough motive to avoid what’s despised, yet this is what most people do. Remember, all visionaries were once criticized by their oppressors as dreamers. Let this intended insult serve to reinforce ideals instead. Do not focus on what you fear, instead act on what you envision.  I do.

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104. IF I COULD SNAP MY FINGERS

I believe redemption (not necessarily as a theology would define it) is available to the most desolate; because if it isn’t, how could it possibly be available to anyone? Are there really souls so lost they have no hope of manifesting the best life has to offer? Millions feel this way, as did I, but now that I’ve both experienced and witnessed miracles, you’ll never convince me otherwise. Even if it’s for an instant, the gift of true freedom lies in wait; all one needs is one bright perfect moment. For the right price, it’s ours. Everyone holds the currency, but hardly anyone knows what it is, let alone how to spend it.

The best people I know today are the worst ones I would have never trusted, listened to, or associated with in the past. Criminals all, and leave there be no doubt, I was one myself. When we find a passage out of darkness, when we learn to step ahead of our demons, when we tear down our self-constructed prisons, and when we find health and happiness again, two things happen; we are simultaneously lifted from the gutters and we become synchronous with life itself.  We are filled with light, purpose, and gratitude.  I’ve written this before and I mean it more than ever as the days of my life roll by,

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It is NOT, however, our place to force such information upon others. We merely should be the beacon that lights the path. It is up to the individual to “drink” or not. I say at the beginning of this entry “If I could snap my fingers…” meaning of course what would I manifest if I had one wish? Would it be to give those who are lost everything they think they want and desire? You may not believe this, but that kind of thought process violates my ethics. Good or bad, I would NEVER force anything whatsoever on another person if I felt what they sought could ultimately be earned. Rewards struggled for, fought for, and ultimately won, are the ones we treasure the most.

If I could snap my fingers this is what I would create –

We live in a world where we praise those doing well and belittle and judge those doing poorly. It breaks my heart to see such cancerous behavior. Inspiration is obviously needed most where it is lacking the most. With the glut of reality television these days I see an opportunity to change lives, and in turn, perhaps even mankind’s future for the better.

I would like to see a show where a group of people who have experience and passion to help others go to different cities, gather those who are willing; the homeless, broken, abused, and so on, and offer them a real way to hit the reset button on their lives. The process would be six fold.

  1. Choose a recovery program – By “recovery” I mean more than what many might jump to conclude. If one is in a precarious physical or mental state, this is a vital choice, one that requires humility and courage. Most people living in conditions of despondency are in need of a structured starting point. I myself am a “graduate” of the 12 step process, but I’m far from believing this is the only or best way.  That would be presumptuous on my part and disrespectful to those who’ve completed other methods of re-positioning their lives. Besides, the “anonymous” part of these programs would have little to no meaning in a public forum. Many of the “steps” that follow are woven into recovery programs anyway, so this is the most logical and important of the six I’ve suggested.
  2. Pick a mentor – All of us need direction, though a lot won’t admit it. The best, fastest, and most reliable way to find what one wants is to do nothing more than follow the trails blazed by those who came before us. We do not clone ourselves by doing this as many would argue, we strengthen the chain of those who choose follow. It has been my experience that people who have hit bottom and risen to heights once thought of as impossible are more than willing to help others. There is no lack of potential leadership.
  3. Pick a path of spirit –  Notice I did not say “spiritual path.” What I mean by spirit is to nourish the basic human need to feel right from the inside. Life does NOT get better from the outside in. Never will. Ever. Old belief systems, old “programs”  that no longer serve must be over-written with ones that do serve. This takes a TON of willingness and open-mindedness on the part of the person looking to stop their ship from sinking. The most common definition attached to such types of dynamics are referred to as “criticisms” which, by the way, NEVER feel good. Here is where the garden is weeded. Most will not bow to such actions, the ego is too powerful. A few, however, will go on to great things and inspire others especially if the transformation is public. There are a plethora of ways to follow through with this choice. Physiological evaluation is an excellent way to look in the mirror as it were. If there are those who choose something a bit more academic, books, seminars, and so on, that’s healthy as well; and if religion is the way for some, so be it, I have no arguments there. Just pick something and follow through on it.
  4. Start a health and physical program – They say one cannot judge a book by its cover. That’s a lie. I’m tired of hearing it too. Can one project a sense of self-worth in the way they display who they are? Damn right. If one is obviously lack in taking care of themselves, are they able to provide a better life for others? Probably not.  I’m NOT speaking of becoming self-centered or superficial with how we present ourselves, I’m talking about honoring the “house” we live in, our bodies. When the body is malfunctioning (or repels others) because of neglect, we lose the ability to interact with life as we were meant to. There are, of course, physical limitations many cannot overcome, but that’s not what’s being spoken of here. Many, many conditions are reversible, and there are thousands who’ve already proved it.
  5. Face the past – All excuses for crappy behavior are rooted in the past. It is vital this action must be addressed, from contacting law enforcement about unaddressed transgressions, to facing those we have wronged on a personal or ethical level and asking for amends, to admitting our own mistakes and owning them, this step cannot be overlooked. In a nutshell this part of the program is about ridding oneself of excuses. No excuses equals no more self-destructive behavior. Period.
  6. Learn a new skill or refresh an old one – If education has been deserted, it must be corrected. Haven’t finished high-school or followed through on that degree?, this will be focused upon. If one has a desire to step into a new trade or skill, that’s fine as well. One cannot function in society without purpose nor can one function in one’s own life without purpose. If purpose has been to get to the next high, well, that’s a horrible purpose, one that life will rid itself of quickly. The more we increase our value, the more we have a reason to live; the more LIFE wants us to live.

I also feel doctors, both medical and physiological, would have to be part of the show. In my opinion it would be irresponsible to offer less than this to both the participants and viewers.

Each year one season would take place in a major city. Sponsorship of rewards (jobs, housing, etc) for those who make it through to the last episode should be rather easy to entice. Let’s face it, the cause is not only good advertisement, it’s the right thing to do anyway. Everyone who’s truly willing to turn their lives around deserves a chance. I got lucky, not many do.

What would be the name of the show?

“Redemption” of course…

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

101. WHAT’S YOUR CALLING CARD?

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Everyone has a sales pitch. They may not think so, but the truth is we are always attempting to sell how we want to be accepted by whomever our audience happens to be at the time; and the theme or vibe we put into our song and dance is determined by the perceived importance of those we meet, as well as what we think we can gain from their alliance. This means that we too are going to be entertained by the same routine from the other side. It may not come out as obvious in some, that’s for sure, but a calling card is always presented. It can be in the way we move, the clothing we wear, the timber of our voice, eye contact, or even the way we smell. The biggest one is, of course, what we say. In the end we are looking to trigger certain Pavlovian responses in others that will determine how we want an interaction to take place.

 The most seductive calling cards are, in my opinion, based on the (mostly subconscious) search for reinforcement of being victimized. What I mean is that many look to find support for continuing a life of pain and self-abuse. If you’re thinking this doesn’t make any sense, I don’t blame you, it didn’t to me either. Their card says, in a nutshell, “Here’s why my life sucks.” All too often when a traumatic event happens, we look to alleviate our intensely negative emotions in the fastest way possible. “Nope, can’t handle this; not right now!” This relates to both the memory (mental) and the physical repercussions (if they exist). Nine times out of ten, this pans out to an inferior or mindless knee jerk reaction – the quickest coping mechanism that pops into our minds, rather than a knowledgeable reaction rooted in awareness. Always resorting to this habitual escapism can mean any hope of true recovery is going to vanish. A fast diversion may cause the illusion of elimination, but the problem with this tactic is it doesn’t last. The negative emotions inevitably come roaring quickly back into our conscious minds, and the escapist cycle must be duplicated if feelings of apathy and oblivion are to be maintained. Pushing these negative emotions back into our subconscious minds, out-of-the-way, and falling off the emotional scale into the numbness is where we find our escape. The catch is every time a “cheap” cycle is repeated, its effectiveness diminishes slightly until nothing but the habit exists without any of the reward. It can become a deep hole from which few find a way out. The memory of false bliss lingers long after the effectiveness of temporary solutions have stopped functioning, which is why so many keep chasing it; they think there’s a way to repeat the original formula and catch that initial sensation of relief.  Ultimately, you begin to realize that numbness no longer feels like relief.

I know people who complain about abusive relationships they were in thirty plus years ago. This is a choice the victim perpetuates, the question is, why? I myself have a history of seeing my own blood at the hands of those who were supposed to show me compassion and Love. Some would let this be their calling card, and for me it was… for years… BECAUSE it was also a wonderful excuse for self-abuse; one I was naïvely unaware of. When I handed this definition – this label – of who I was to acquaintances and strangers, I got back exactly what I wanted: justification for keeping myself in this loop. No wonder so many turn to drugs and alcohol. I get it, I really do. Letting go of the initial reason for pain (which usually manifests in the form of forgiveness) EQUALS letting go of the habits and reactions attached to it. For a long time, this wasn’t an option, and it nearly destroyed me. Issues that are strictly physical are similar to those that induce or include mental anguish, but in my opinion are not nearly as common. I could be wrong here, of course.

I witness so many “calling cards”: some are sincere, some comical, some necessary, and some revolting. The “Alpha male” card always makes me vomit (and laugh) a little. “How can I impress you while beating you at something right off the bat?” Yuck. The “Righteous belief system” one is fairly common, and frankly it’s usually designed to start an argument. But sometimes it’s nothing more than a search for common ground, and that’s kind of nice. There are obviously a plethora of examples. Mine (I hope…) goes a little like this, “Smile, shake hands, introduce myself, and ask how I can be of service?” It basically says nothing more than “How may I serve you?” Yes, as time goes on in any relationship my library of continued and amended introductions takes many paths, but I do my best to consciously make them optimistic and, above all, kind.

Kindness seems to be the rarest card of all. People think it’s the weakest one in the deck when in reality it carries the most strength and power. It does not, however, wield strength and power for the individual who offers it, but strength and power to the environment surrounding them. Look at someone like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, their goals, their focus centered on helping others rather than themselves. In the end, the energy came back and elevated them without any egotistical agenda whatsoever. Humility is so rare.

So, what is your calling card? It might surprise you. It might nauseate you. It might piss you off. In any case, it’s now going to be hard to pass off without recognizing it, and THAT is the power to change it.

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98. WHAT’S YOUR HOUSE BUILT ON?

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86. WAYNE DYER

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I love thrift stores. I rarely hesitate when the chance to discover and rummage through a newly found one pops up. There was a time when my work had me earning a living in a wide range of destinations from Seattle to Des Moines to Omaha and Kansas city including a plethora of towns and destinations in between. Each place meant new opportunities to explore; new treasures to find, especially in the way of books. It also meant a LOT of driving, sometimes hundreds of miles a day. When I grew tired of the content on the radio (and my own thoughts in the lonely silence waned) I eventually turned to audiobooks. Second hand shops certainly had no shortage of these. Before I went into recovery my choices were of the fictional nature, but as my life turned around so did my taste in what was not only entertaining, but educational.

My sponsor encouraged me to investigate new teachers and subjects beyond what A.A. offers. Naturally I began to seek facts and philosophies that would align with a life of continued self-improvement. I had regular print books in my library he had recommended, but nothing as of yet sought on my own. It was at this time I came across Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny” at a local Goodwill. Well, the title had me intrigued and I knew, very superficially, who Dyer was so he wasn’t a complete unknown. After reading the back I thought I’d give it a try. This was about one year into my recovery, perhaps around the summer of nineteen ninety-six.

After playing and enjoying it once, I put it away thinking this was going to be the last and only time I would listen to it. I was wrong. About a year later I was bored, and again, it caught my eye. Upon giving it a second audience I was surprised to hear a lot I’d missed the first time. Dyer, as well as all great teachers, can be like this; either that or I’m simply a poor listener. At any rate, the pump had been officially primed for new teachings from the same source. More of his seminars were forthcoming from where I’d originally found the first one, thrift stores. Rather quickly I had attained a large library of his works along with such orators as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and titles including “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  Other subjects accumulated as well, addressing such diverse topics as language skills, memory skills, math skills, business and leadership skills, and time management skills. Some were dull and quickly forgotten but Dyer remained my favorite.

As time went along I began to adopt his suggestions of encouragement. I was intrigued by his presentation of the “self-actuated person” as first put forth by Abraham Maslow. Dyer felt this state of being could be achieved by anyone, as opposed to Maslow’s argument that it was confined to a limited number of gifted people. Years later I was approached by someone with whom I’d had a little contact but nothing close. They handed a complement saying I was the most self-actuated person they ever met. I do my best to remain “independent of the good opinion of others” but this was a special treat and I was moved by their gift. I’ve had “peak spiritual experiences” and actively defend the absent, playing the “devil’s advocate” quite often. At the end of this article I’ll place some links to other earlier stories on this blog that fall in line with how Dyer has influenced and touched my life.

When Dyer released “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” his book tour come through Denver Colorado. As a birthday gift my wife got us tickets to the event and I was quite excited. I wrote him and to my surprise he wrote back saying he was looking forward to meeting me. I couldn’t stop smiling through the entire talk. He signed the books we had brought and I had my first chance to talk to him directly. As the next few years rolled on I took any chance to see him I could, seven in all. Three at “Mile Hi Church” here in town, once at the Budweiser Event Center, once at a two-day Hay House seminar for publishing called “Writing for your Soul” held at the Brown Palace in 2013, and lastly at the 2014 “I Can Do It!” retreat at the Denver convention center. At his last Mile Hi appearance before the writer’s seminar I gave him a portrait of Deepak Chopra I had done as a gift. At the writer’s seminar he told me he had sent it to Chopra. I had done an earlier portrait of his daughter Skye and in return he sent me her CD and a copy of his movie. Here is a link (from this blog) to a photo of my picture of Dr. Chopra.

I suppose my favorite title of his is “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem.” The point in the audio book at which he speaks of the little boy being befriended by his teacher tears me up every time. If you’ve heard it I’m sure you empathize. While I don’t have every book he put out, both in print and audio, it’s dang close. I even own a textbook he co-wrote before “Erroneous Zones.”  I haven’t read THAT one; yet.

While I will miss him, just like the rest of us, I know he finished his work and has moved on to a greater purpose.

Here are the older links from this blog that mention his influence on my life.

Just like the rest of us I feel an urge to share following Dyer’s passing. I hope this entry does not come across as self-serving in any way.

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80. ELIMINATING EVIL

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51. GHOST STORY

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This is a tale of supernatural coincidence. It is the story of a miracle, and I swear every word is 100% true.

Day 1

A few years ago, around 2005, I decided to find out how my AA sponsor was doing. It had been some time since hearing from him and didn’t quite know where he was since I hadn’t written down his address. His phone had been disconnected as well.  This didn’t surprise me because the last time we spoke he’d mentioned cutting back on non-essential bills now that he was in retirement with  a limited income.  I’d visited his apartment since he moved, but couldn’t recall exactly where it was. The general vicinity was known, however I wasn’t about to go around randomly looking, hoping to recognize it. I found a web site designed for locating people and paid for some information, which to my surprise, proved quite useful. The following Saturday morning I set out to see my friend. My spirits were dampened upon arriving, it was a security building; hadn’t remembered that. After trying Joe’s number for several minutes without an answer I randomly tapped on several other buzzers hoping the occupants wouldn’t get too mad; there was no response. I then spent the good part of an hour trying to figure out how to get word to him some other way and was finally rewarded with a chance to approach a tenant who was leaving. Gathering my groveling skills I pleaded shortly with the gentleman to let me in so I might at least leave a note on his door. The first synchronicity was about to happen. The man was living in the apartment Joe had occupied. He suggested talking to the property manager and maybe she could give me some information on his whereabouts. It was a couple of buildings over, and I found the office with little effort. I called the number on the door and left a message that went something like this, “You don’t know me but I’m a friend of Joe Patton. He used to live here and I can’t find him. I know you don’t have to, but could you please call me and let me know if you remember him and if he is ok?” I left her my number not expecting a reply since I’d asked for information of a personal nature.

Day 2

On Sunday morning around 8:00 a.m. I received a call from the manager of the apartment complex. She was very kind, more than helpful, and a little sad. I had a slight suspicion what was wrong. She told me Joe had committed suicide about a year and a half prior.  My response to the news was surprising. A peace settled over me and I was happy for him. The funny thing was, I didn’t think I would react that way. By no means did I agree with his actions, but I felt I understood them. He had said some time back he may be going into hospice. I thought he was exaggerating his situation, not out of rudeness or insensitivity, but because he always acted and moved with such a healthy swagger. Obviously this had not been the case. After looking at his situation from the point of view of an addict, I could understand why it made sense to him. He had left a lifetime of dependencies in his wake and when suddenly faced with the possibility of leaving this world full of drugs that would violate his ethics, then the option of self-termination became a justifiable alternative. I’d read years ago that suicide is actually a crime, so I surmised calling the police might yield more information. My goal was to pay respects to wherever his remains were. They told me that obvious suicides are not crimes and are simply handled by the coroner’s office. I sent off an e-mail with all the information I had asking if they could let me know anything else about Joe. Synchronicity number two was about to happen. That night I went to my basement and got online to relax. Literati is a generic version of Scrabble I used play almost every day on Yahoo! While playing I would usually turn on my “personal” radio station through a now defunct web site called Launchcast. It was a music service that allowed the listener evaluate songs, albums, and artists. Given enough time, 90% of what streamed would become whatever the user had  graded. At this point I had around 5000 ratings, more than enough to cater very personally to me. For the most part every tenth song or so was either a new release or something that the system had guessed matched my preferences.  About half a dozen times or so (at this point, for the last year and a half) a soundtrack had popped up  that never matched my tastes or had anything on it I’d approved. This was the music to Joe’s favorite movie. It’s called “Last of the Dogmen.” It was released in the mid nineties and it’s about a lost tribe of American Indians found in modern times. Well…….as I was playing online that night, here it came. The name of the track was, “Somebody’s out There.” The hair on the back of my neck went up, not out of fear but recognition of what was going on. I was alone and looked around slowly to see if anything was moving or if I could actually glimpse an apparition of some sort. I didn’t notice anything and didn’t have to. I slept very well that night.

Day 3

It’s Monday morning now, and another phone call came, this time around nine. There was a kind and sympathetic person on the other end. Within a few minutes the Coroner had given me all the details he could about Joe. He told me how he died and that one of his friends had taken care of the funeral arrangements. I knew he couldn’t give me any private information about Joe’s friend for obvious reasons, but instead asked if he could call the man in question and give him my number. He said he would be very happy to try and I said goodbye thinking it wouldn’t work. (I would have been upset if I hadn’t tried.) Within three minutes there was yet another call from a man named Chris.  We talked for a while and came to the end of the road metaphorically speaking. He told me his ashes were spread in a park near Boulder. Chris was most compassionate and he seemed happy that someone still cared for Joe. And that was it….I thought. Synchronicity number three was about to bear down like a locomotive. As usual that night I was in the basement playing my game to unwind while listening to music when Joe’s soundtrack popped up again. Two days in a row for something that had never been listened to or rated? Now it was weird enough it played the night before, but this was way too specific to be considered some sort of random event. The title of this particular track was “Leaving Forever” Hmm. Now……….the next song was one that actually had been rated years before but not heard yet. Queen released an album in 1980 called “The Game” it was extremely popular at the time and being a fan of the group I had marked all the tracks as high as possible. The song that started playing next was called “Don’t try Suicide.” What a way to say farewell. I leaned back in my chair without needing to look around for any physical evidence of his presence and said out loud, “Good-bye, Joe.”  

Is he gone now? No. I still ask him for his opinions; I still ask him for guidance; I still ask him for his presence; and while my prayers may not be answered in ways I can verify or explain, they are indeed always answered. I miss my friend even though I know he’s never really left. This story is for you Joe, rest in peace.  

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42. I LOVE YOU!

SONY DSCAnd I intend to prove it……….

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40. A VERY SHORT STORY…..

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36. LIVING IN THE MOMENT

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Life is about appreciation of the moment before it becomes a memory.

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