Wonder

65. THE TOP 10 REASONS LIFE IS WORTH LIVING….OR WHY LIFE DOESN’T SUCK

you-are-here

When we go back to the 1800’s and take a snapshot of typical life, it was rather harsh, at least compared to how good we have it now. No electricity, an abundance of outhouses, no refrigeration, long hours, small wages, and no deodorant. I’m sure most were happy, but let’s face it, living was more about survival than enjoyment. I don’t know about you but I don’t think after a long day of plowing fields I would have the energy to go out and kill my dinner. Education was rare and information was limited. Sickness prevailed and medicine as we know it (if you could even find a doctor) was in its infancy. Obviously people got through their days in the most civilized and comfortable manner possible; if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here. One thing is for sure, I’d have a hard time regressing to a world without toilet-paper, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing. Knowing this forces me to be all the more grateful for even the smallest of conveniences. I am well aware that about half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day; and yes, I have researched this. I’ll wager that this same line of poverty was much more unbalanced in the past; at least I hope so, for that would be evidence of movement towards a better world for everybody. In any event, I believe we are moving in the right direction despite what the naysayers want to showcase.

Here are my top ten reasons life is worth living. They are equal in importance and the order means nothing.

  1. Never before in the history of civilization has there been a more open microphone to the world stage.  We now have the power to reach millions at the speed of light. What a wonderful, powerful tool! Victor Hugo wrote, “No one can resist an idea whose time has come.” Let expression abound, and eventually the best of the best must happen. Look at the commitment to reach the moon, or to cure polio, or to create a nation based on personal freedom, or even to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific. All of these things started with an idea expressed.
  2. Kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, and sharing are becoming the dominant shared viewpoint of the world. “How can I help?” is being heard louder and louder collectively. Don’t believe me? Read a few history books and see how prevalent the opposite used to be. As a result, the attitudes of prejudice, hate, resentment, and selfishness are on the decline.
  3. For those who suffer,there are countless others wanting to help. If you REALLY want to make a difference, If you REALLY need help, now could not be better. 12 step and other similar groups exist for every type of self-abuse and the same type exist for those who have been abused. All are volunteer and none ask for anything in return. This is a miracle of brotherhood and a gift to those who once were thought of as hopeless. I would be almost twenty years dead if not for this community.
  4. Information for almost anything is readily available to those with computer access. Granted, a LOT of what is floating in cyberspace is junk, but there is a legitimate line to most subjects we want to explore. The world’s knowledge is at the fingertips of (almost) anyone who can reach an internet connected computer. With a little application, all that is paid for through universities can be claimed for free.
  5. The universe is unfolding before our eyes. From the Large Hadron Collider to the James Webb Space Telescope, the cosmos in both its enormity and at the quantum level is being illuminated in ways that are breathtaking and unbelievable. Planets are being discovered and doorways to other dimensions are beginning to crack open. We stand upon a massive threshold that marks the end of our finite world. What once was science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.
  6. The variety of our expression as a race through the arts- music, dance, film, literature, and of course, painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture is expanding by both encouragement and availability. Again, let’s go back in time, to a place where paintings were only to be seen in museums, where the sound of master composers could only be heard in symphony halls, where the written knowledge of humanity was stored away on the shelves of scattered libraries to be enjoyed and explored by the few who could access them, where a moment of emotion, observation, and beauty was lost to time the second after it had passed.  All of these things, once rare and fleeting, are now solidified in preservation, and available (albeit two-dimensionally) to even the most remote corner of our planet.     
  7. The beauty of our home reveals itself daily. A single snowflake, The Aurora Borealis, a newborn baby, a distant thunderstorm, an elderly couple holding hands, the full moon, a glorious sunset, the sounds of crickets at night and songbirds at sunrise; these things and countless more are all we need to calm the day and bring balance to our restless spirit. It’s provided free of charge to those who stop and take the time to observe. Nature is the antidote to an overload of artificial environments; and everywhere you go, there it is.
  8. Redemption is available to EVERYONE. Thank God it is or I would be long dead. I believe no one is beyond hope. No one is doomed to live out their tomorrows based on what happened yesterday. Can a murderer become a savior? Yes. Will the universe ultimately deal to this spirit, this soul, what is just and balanced? Always. The fundamental reason I believe redemption is available to everyone is this observation; if it isn’t available to the “worst” of us, then it really isn’t available to any of us. YOU can make the world a better place just by shifting your principles and actions. I did; and I am.
  9. The world is becoming a MUCH smaller place. This will force one of two things; conflict or cooperation. I believe in the latter. Some conflict is inevitable, but coöperation on a worldwide basis must eventually take place or oblivion will be the result. The desire to live is our more powerful instinct. Knowing and spotlighting that our symbiotic relationship with the rest of humanity equals a continued existence will eventually force peace. We cannot survive without the people who grow our food, who makes our clothing, who create energy, or who transport goods. We are interconnected and dependant on the actions of millions of others. OUR current generations stand upon the edge of a cliff; we will either step up, or step off, and I for one cannot believe that those who will demand peace will remain silent. Within the next twenty years technology will have created instant translation devices effectively eliminating language barriers and this alone will serve to strengthen communication, understanding, and love of our fellow-man.
  10. We live in exciting times. Nothing against the past, but we now move toward new horizons at dizzying speeds. Those who lived only a little over a hundred years ago knew nothing of an electrified world with machines carrying man through the air and devices that would allow us to explore other planets and observe the farthest reaches of space. The idea that food could be harvested and kept fresh and edible for years was unbelievable. We had no idea what lay below the oceans surface, waiting to be discovered. Scientific progress is changing our perception of what can be accomplished. Medical advancements now save millions of lives that would have been hopeless even a few decades ago. Not only is our outer world growing, but the inner one as well. The perception of who we are and what we are capable of is changing. Anyone who has watched “What the Bleep Do We Know?” (the extended, down the rabbit-hole version) will get a feel for just what might lie in wait for the human experience. What then lies ahead twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years from now? We are witness to the largest strides in the history of our race. What a privilege.

Am I aware there are flaws and kinks in society? Of course; and I feel we have a long road ahead if we are to forge complete planetary respect for our diverse cultures and societies. There are millions who still suffer and live in squalor. There are those who do not know water is supposed to be clear. There are those who think only the rich wear shoes. There are those who live only to survive, and this is not acceptable to me. I feel the attitude of wanting and recognizing the world to be a better place is a fundamental responsibility. Keep in mind we have made it this far, and wonderful things have happened. There’s no reason this growth of wonder, imagination, and dreams cannot include everyone. Critical mass does not require a majority to move the rest of humanity, it just takes enough people with enough passion to sell their vision to the rest.

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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

59. INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC

music

I’ve decided to put a link directly on my page to this. It’s a separate category that appears at the top of my blog of musical pieces that lift my spirits. Most are links to something on YouTube, so if they don’t work, let me know.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/inspirational-music/

51. GHOST STORY

ghost

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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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

48. WALKING WITH PURPOSE

Black and white road

“I do not walk down the road I’ve chosen to get further away from what I wish to leave behind. I do it to get closer to that which I seek”

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

43. ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES

infinity

“Where understanding is present, fear is absent. Where fear is absent, love exists. Where love exists, life persists. Where life persists, the possibilities are endless.”

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

35. PLEASE STOP BY…..

open

Welcome!

I write a blog dedicated to the subject of ground-floor self-help topics. My introduction says a lot about where I come from and who I am. Further subjects address different areas of interest. I’m looking for new subscribers and will respond to all who care to leave a message.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

29. IN SEARCH OF BEAUTY

Observing the Moon

I’ve always been intrigued by the night sky. As a boy I was privileged to have lived in the Colorado mountains far from the “pollution” of city lights. Sometimes, long after my parents had gone to sleep, I would quietly get out of bed and sneak outside just to look up and wonder. When the moon was new, the milky way, that massive arm of our galaxy, would shine in all its glory arcing from horizon to horizon. I knew some of the constellations and occasionally I would spot a shooting star. I never felt small or insignificant compared to the vastness that lay before me; what I did feel was connection to infinity.

Strangely enough it never occurred to me to try a more comprehensive approach until I was an adult. In my mid twenties (the late 1980’s) I was getting ready to attend a Pink Floyd concert. In anticipation of the upcoming event I had gone out and bought a nice pair of binoculars. One evening I happened to notice a spectacular full moon rising. On a whim I grabbed my new field glasses and set my eyes to something I had never seen before. There before me, in detail I had never bothered to explore, was another world. Another world! I’m telling you for a fact the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I couldn’t stop looking. Eventually I bought a telescope and continued my gaze to even deeper discoveries.

It bothered me a little that I had completely ignored  what was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever seen up until that point. I took its presence for granted and I began to wonder what else I had treated with the same attitude. This thought was put on hold as my alcoholism (which had begun several years earlier) began to assert itself. Soon everything was either bleak, boring, or annoying. Life quickly became self-centered. Nothing met my so-called standards so disappointment was the only outcome. Those who helped me get past the chaos and disorder worked tirelessly to bring me back to sanity and beyond. Along the way they encouraged an attitude of gratitude which now is permanently woven into my being.

I began to see the smallest of things in new ways. Colors popped, my surroundings looked new and exciting. I began to pay attention to how everything is symbiotic. I realized that whatever created me also created the world that surrounded me. I’ve said it before, “I believe nothing exists that isn’t supposed to” which means that everything must have some sort of purpose. My respect for the smallest of life forms skyrocketed. That spider that used to give me the creeps I can now let crawl into my hand while I gently place him outside. The same life-force that compels me to survive is the same that pushes this little animal to do the same.

I now see the beauty in everything. Ugliness is an illusion, a judgment created and used to satisfy the human need to rank and label. All that surrounds us is sculpture, all we hear is music, all we communicate is poetry, and all we do is part of the harmonious dance of the universe.

Some may question the need, or perhaps the ability to see this quality in everything. Can I see the beauty in the starving children of the world? You’re damn right I can, if I didn’t see the potential to change it into something inspirational I would never want to. How about in the carnage left once violence has taken place? Yes, I see what has survived, what will ultimately prevail, and what will be learned that must never be repeated. For those that seem lost, the beauty of hope prevails. For those who live a life of cruelty, the beauty of redemption exists. For those who constantly criticize, the beauty of acceptance can be attained. For those who are vindictive, the beauty of forgiveness is available.

Expression of this quality is a gift not only to yourself, but to all those you associate with. Do I still look for fault and criticize things? Yes, absolutely, but always with the intent to create something better, or at least present solutions instead of problems. I consciously begin tasks and challenges by first knowing my involvement can transform them into higher beauty. Do I recognize some things as having more beauty than others? Yes. I’m not beyond that yet; but keep in mind I  know it’s in everything at some level, and I feel it’s my duty to find and acknowledge it . Actually, I think it’s ultimately everyone’s job to take what’s in front of them and make it better by expanding its beauty so much that it can no longer be ignored or hidden.

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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