Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Dare You!

Come on! I dare You! Join with me, and our Neighbors, from around our little planet, and I dare You to try, to go away, not singing this as you go. You singing it right there ... me singing it here ... our Spirits rocking and swaying together across all of those puny boundaries that would keep us apart. I like it!!

Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around The World from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

By the way ... Have I told You, lately, that I love You?

Well ... consider it said.

[loving smile]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our "Realm of Phenomenological Awareness"

To be confronted by a face registering absolute vacuity, is an experience intimately known to most (if not, indeed, all) parents. To see a complete absence of any willingness to understand or the total disregard for all that you are trying to convey, is the all-to- frequent plight of those who bear the burden of teaching, molding, informing, and/or nurturing. And, alas, this phenomenon presents itself to us, not only in this domestic setting, but, indeed, throughout our lives … in countless forums.

Attempting an explanation of involved circumstances, affecting tardy school assignments, to a Teacher who has “heard it all before;” explaining the importance of delivery requirements, to those upon whom those timely deliveries are entrusted; conveying the significance of repairs required by appliances, vehicles, or technical equipment to a 'Service Person;' engagement in the attempt to enlist the involvement of any Other in whatever matter having importance to us … all are, oh-so-often, met with that blank stare, of disconnected disinterest. They do not see any consequence in their acknowledgment of what is offered.

How often have we all asked the unanswerable “Why don't you understand how important this is?!” And we, then, plunge back into a redoubled effort to overcome the ambivalent absence of that Other's interest. “Why am I failing to make them understand?!” we demand of ourselves. And, time and time again, we retreat with a sense of personal failure. Our normal and usual response is to feel responsible for having failed to make clear, and impart, our intensely felt sense of urgency, to that Child, Teacher, Service Person, or Significant Other. We wrap ourselves, anew, in that bedraggled Cloak of Failure, yet again. For, my Dearest Reader, 'tis true! We have, indeed, failed. Why?

For an answer that we can feel has some objective and legitimate basis, I ask you to consider, with me, the lesson offered by the eminent medical doctor, psychologist, and founder of the School of Individual Psychology … the late Alfred Adler (7 February 1870 – 28 May 1937.) Adler is considered, along with Freud and Jung, to be one of the three founding figures of depth psychology, which emphasizes the unconscious and psychodynamics.

It is the Gift of an awareness, of the reality of each of our individual “Realms of Phenomenological Awareness,” that Dr. Adler has given me. He gave me a consciousness of our control of all that is Reality to us … by our willingness to open our awareness to any phenomenon. Unless I allow my mind to acknowledge the presence of anyone or anything … that person or phenomenon is not a Reality to me. It, or they, simply do not exist. I exercise complete control (as you do) over everything that my mind is introduced to. If I am not impressed with the worth, significance, or merit of some individual or circumstance to me and/or my life … it is dismissed from my individual “realm of phenomenological awareness.” I have not appraised them, or it, to have any consequence to me. It, or they, are (quite bluntly) Inconsequential.

So, don't you see, that Child, or that Teacher, Service Person, or Significant Other, do not know what I am saying (or indeed who I am at that moment) as a Reality to themselves … unless I have made them aware of some consequence that will affect them (positively or negatively) and triggered some catalyst that will open their door of awareness, into that Realm, that they and they alone control. When I learned … and accepted as Fact … this Truth, I began to enjoy a respect for everyone else's right to their own Realities … their individual right to determine what, and who, is of consequence to them. And I accepted my personal responsibility for the introduction of any new awareness that I might want to have someone else acknowledge, as part of their Realm of Phenomenological Awareness.

When I am confronted with that blank stare of incredulity or rejection … I know that I have failed either to appropriately evaluate the One to whom I am attempting a communication (perhaps they are not a suitable prospect for my thoughts or concepts) … or, if they are, indeed, the right subject for what I have to offer, I may need to repackage my message in a way that will earn a place of consequence in their estimation. Maybe I, and what I am offering, are simply not significant enough to impress them. I might, just possibly, be quite inconsequential to them. And it is my job to impress upon them, in a more meaningful way, just how significant I, and my ideas, are. If a spoonful of sugar is not working … perhaps a club would be more effective. If my words are not meaningful … perhaps a short note from a recognized Specialist or someone in indisputable authority would command acknowledgment. (Why are the words "Just you wait until your father gets home!" echoing in my mind right now? [smile]) Maybe a presentation of the potential consequences and penalties for dismissal of either my Self, or my suggestions, would admit, who I am or what I offer, into that selectively-controlled Realm of Awareness.

But to continue to repeat and persist in the same presentation that has rendered my voice mute and my offerings meaningless, while clinging to some mindless hope that such mindless persistence will bring forth some new result … is the demonstration of the old definition of Insanity. It is not personal. It is not a rejection of my Being. It is simply the playing out of what Dr. Adler suggested to his audience when he made note of their absence of any awareness of the structure of the ceiling above the auditorium in which he spoke. But … he told them … if he should announce that he had just been given a report from the building's manager, informing him that a great crack had been discovered in the main support beam that held back the many tons of materials above their heads … and imminent collapse of the roof, timbers, concrete, plaster, and all that constituted that ceiling, of which they had, previously, had no awareness … suddenly, and instantly, that nonexistent ceiling would become a dominant Presence in the Realm of Phenomenological Awareness of each of them.

This is the explanation that I gave a prominent Businessman, very recently, when he was bemoaning the refusal of a General Contractor to exercise a sense of urgency in the matter of coordination of phases of construction in a major project. “We are responsible for the finishing elements of this huge project … and all of those upon whom we must wait for our work to begin, are lagging behind the schedules. We will be left as the responsible Party for the un-readiness of the facility for its first function. But we have been well-prepared and simply waiting … waiting … while the General Contractor has refused to urge all of those whose contributions are prerequisites for our finishing phase, to adhere to their required schedules. We, and we alone, are going to bear the consequences (in financial penalties and added expense of extra hours and efforts at the end) for the failure of those others to complete their work on schedule. We have documented our many efforts and meetings with the General Contractor … all of which are ignored and dismissed.” my Businessman Friend explained. “You have failed to make yourself of consequence in his eyes” I responded. “You have not inserted your concerns into his Real of Phenomenological Awareness and made them his. But a brief letter from your attorney will make him, instantly, aware of the consequences and penalties that will be visited … on him … in court … if he does not act appropriately. Into that Realm of Awareness, those lagging workers will become an immediate Reality. You need say no more. Your voice has been deemed as insignificant by him. You, as a Person, and as an Individual, are something that, he has demonstrated, are inconsequential. You must introduce him to someone and something that will unavoidably demand significance … by demonstrating consequences.”

For, my Dear Reader, all that was true in the face of that disinterested Child … is just as true in the face of this grizzled man who controls an enormous project with all of its facets and intricacies. The consequences to the life of that young person, just as the outcome of the building project, will be affected by the willingness of each determining Individual to accept new Realities into that Place that respects consideration.

I offer this bit, of what Life has blessed me with, in the hope that You will find some use for it in your life's walk. For (as you know) a smoother and more pleasurable path is what I want, most, for You. Your happiness and peace are of infinite consequence to me. My love for You has introduced You into my personal Realm of Phenomenological Awareness. And your Presence there is most pleasant. [smile]

Lovingly ...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Give Your Heart a Smile

If you want to, momentarily, tune out all of today's Frown-Makers, and Soul-Saddeners ... Give your Self a real treat and enjoy the inclusion of Adam Bender in your awareness. You can read some of his story in THIS article in Gimundo.com.

You can, also, give your Self a quick boost by letting Adam show of a bit ... here ...

There! How's that for a change in your day's pace?! [loving smile]

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The "Why" Behind "The Cost"

Here, I am sharing a bit of a “peek” behind the veil of what You would usually know. It is customary for you to see whatever I post … and nothing of the pre-posting thought or considerations, nor any of the post-posting reflections. After publishing the little thing about “The Cost,” I was having a not-too-frequent moment of questioning. “Why” I asked myself, “do you even go into those ponderous areas of philosophical and oh-so-burdensome topics?” And (as has, so frequently, been the case) my precious Lady Muse delivered (in tangible and real-time form) Life’s answer to my frustrated uncertainties.

I (just a few hours ago) received a phone call from a Friend. She shared with me some updates of inconsequential and usual stuff about her life’s goings on … and then, as if in after-thought, something that rang the bell of my needed reassurance. She told me that she and her eldest son had read the “The Cost” piece … together. Then he and she went fishing … (He [who has no fondness for fishing … let alone the mandatory handling of those wriggling worms used for bait] caught five fish … she [who is an avid (if not maniacal) fisherwoman, caught none. (teehee) But I digress.) … and they, whilst in the leisurely enjoyment of five hours of midnight-to-five AM fishing, had a discussion of what they had read together. In the course of their discussion, she was delightfully reassured of her son’s grasp of his personal sense of responsibility, for seeing to it that he invest, all of himself, in living a life of full satisfaction, and enjoyment … through an awareness, and appreciation, of his innate gifts, and abilities.

This was a huge thing for her. For, in August, this son is to be off, to far-away Oklahoma, to pursue his post-graduate degrees in his chosen field. Knowing that he has such a firm grip on the foundational precepts of a personal responsibility, for a healthy, productive, and happy future, gives her a wonderful sense of comfort and peace.

“There!” my Lady Muse said. “There is your demonstration of Life’s loving wisdom in ,motivating you to share your thoughts and feelings in that piece. You took some of that ‘compost’ of your past … and let Life apply it around that developing young life. Ya done OK, John-Michael! Now lighten up!” And, I am thusly, quite nicely, reassured. Hence, I have had those nagging doubts and hesitations about my seeming propensity for writing about such “heavy” and cumbersome considerations, allayed. And, because I do enjoy making You, Dear reader, privy to all that is the Truth of who I am, and why I am … I am now sharing, with You, this peek into something of the “why” in my doing so.

And, as always, it is my intent to serve you well, as your faithful Friend, and ever-willing Servant.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Cost

It was Christmas Eve … the one and only night that I was assured that my children and I would have together … for the whole night. I live in one small room … so pallets made of foam pads and folded blankets made their bedding on the floor. They were tucked in and ready for sleep … and there was a knock on the door. A beautiful woman stood there … with a familiar and loved smile.

She was my first high-school Love. We had not seen each other since just after high school. I had, in the interim, married (for twenty years), had two children, a career, and a divorce. I knew that she had won the Miss Tampa beauty pageant … but past that I only knew what I did of her travels, college degrees, published books, and practice in clinical psychology, from the updates that were shared with me by her sister … when we bumped into each other at the market. And here she stood … on Christmas eve … smiling.

She asked my children (after the introductions), if she could borrow me ... for a cup of coffee. They shyly agreed. And she and I went to a convenient, twenty-four-hour breakfast place, for coffee.

After exchanges of many years’ of accumulated details and facts, she understood (what I could relate) the statistics of my story … and I filled in the blanks of hers. And I knew that she had a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer … that terrified her. So our conversation flowed into our developed philosophies and understandings. She asked me a question that caused a moment’s pause. “What did it cost you … when you shifted your life’s focus from all of life’s “Doings,” to “Being” alive?” Such a magnificent question!

Though I knew what she was considering ... the Marriage, Career, prominence in the Community, Church Role, etc. ... my Heart knew the answer. “It cost me nothing. Not a thing!” I replied. “For, don’t you see, “I,” was not present in all of those years of doing all of the stuff that was expected, required, and demanded by all of my life’s environment. I … was not functioning as an Individual then. There was no "Me" in all of that. Simply, that Person ... performing all of those Roles. All of the “lights” were on … but nobody was at home. I was a “non-person” fulfilling all of the requirements scripted out for me by circumstances and Others. Hence, there was no cost to Me, when I realized the importance of becoming a Human-Being … as opposed to existing as a Human-Doing. For, I had not existed.” She slowly nodded in quiet understanding and agreement.

We returned to my place. She went her way. We exchanged a couple of phone calls … her on the West coast; me here, in Florida. We wrote … only once, each. The letters were unfortunate exchanges of misunderstandings. And I never heard from her again.

But I will forever remember her question. “What did it cost …?” And I consider that question now … once again. For, My Dear Reader, there is, indeed, an ever-present Reality in living. Nothing is free. There is always a cost/reward relationship to every choice that we make. My living as a “Doer,” was at the unwitting expense of Self. I had never developed my ultimate responsibility … my Self. I, ignorantly and blindly, substituted activity and performance for personal growth and responsibility. I had energetically charged into life’s fray with the battle cry of “Do something great,” and “Make some-Thing of yourself” ringing in my ears. I heard no voice crying, “Make some-One of your Self … and only then, apply that developed Self, to the fulfillment of your Soul’s bliss.” It was not ’til many decades into living, that I became aware of that Voice.

So, today, I ask You, Dear One, “What are the costs in your life? What have you invested your Self in?” You are not answerable to me … or, in fact, to anyone else in this life. You, just as I, are ultimately, answerable only to that private and sacred inner You … and Eternity.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"Who are you?" ... He Asked

It has been a year, and a quarter, since I last offered this story, here. Because it was a defining moment (in many ways) in my life-walk, and many new Folks are now visiting here, I will, probably, resurrect it once, each year. With the spirit of this Happening encouraging me, I am planning to offer myself, as a Reader, to the Principal of an Elementary School just down the road from my home. It is, what is referred to as, an "At Risk School." This means that the populace of the school is made up of many who would be of the same ilk, as the young Lad, of this Story. I present the experience with a prayer that You, My Dear Reader, will find some encouragement, insight, or merit, of value to you, in it. That said ... here 'tis ...

“Who are you?” was the question thrust upon me by the challenging five year old kindergarten student as he set his back stiffly in its most erect pose. Pretty impressive stuff from a child toward a physically imposing adult male who was a total unknown to the child. Not to be channeled into his obviously well-rehearsed performance, I countered with “More to the point, (pretty cool, eh… using phraseology that was alien to the lad) … just who are you?!” Now we were engaged in the stand-off. Two duelers faced with the unspoken, but clearly understood standard that 'he who gives the answer first is the loser.’ But, here I genuinely wanted to know just who this fellow was. Not just his label … his name, but who he wanted me to know him to be.

We waited. Others at the service desk of the elementary school library ... waited. All eyes were now fixed on the young lad. He was, quite obviously, uneasy with this turn in a game that had historically garnered for him control of those upon whom he leveled his attack. Then, into the breach came a young man (an 'advanced’ age of eight years… but clearly an 'upper-classman’ in this arena) who turned to the boy (who for convenience, I will call Robert) and said “Hey man, the guy really wants to know who you are … you know … like what kind of a person are you?” I was shouting a silent inner cheer for this interceder who so beautifully cleared the air.

“I am bad” came the reply from Robert’s not-so-defiant lips. I was stunned … silence reigned at the library counter. All … students, and staff … were stilled with this declaration from a five-year-old boy … and I knew that this was a moment of pivotal significance. Not only for Robert; but also for the lad who had prompted him into this announcement; for the children who stood in silent recognition that this boy had made an honest, candid, and obviously painful statement of his inner perception of himself. I looked into Robert’s eyes ... really looked … focused into him. I gave him a moment to recognize the fact that, for me, right then, in that moment there existed no one in the world but Him.

Then I smiled a smile of appreciation and respect and said “Wow!, You are really smart! You are making a really good joke on someone! I am impressed! You must be … like a movie actor or something. Because I am a really smart man. And I know about how people are. And I am really good at spotting good people, and bad people (I then turned to the librarian and asked her to validate the truths that I had just stated, as to my credibility … for The Moment was at hand.) I can tell that you are really a very good guy … I know this… I can tell every time. So you must be making a super good joke on someone to make them think that a really good guy … is bad. I think that you must be a terrific actor.” And, My Dear Reader, I wish that I had at my disposal the ability to adequately portray the look of utter … Hope … that came across Robert’s face. Here this person of a mere five years was … soundly convinced that he, a human being, just the initial sprouting of an individual … was inherently, hopelessly, and forever bad. And some big old, imposing, white-bearded man was telling him that it was but a joke … a misunderstanding … a folly. I asked him if he would do me the honor of being my friend and we exchanged names and a bit more about ourselves.

I will not drone on about the comments from teachers and counselors who later shared notes with each other about this transformed young man. He had, obviously, made some adjustment in his game and had decided to only 'fool’ others into thinking him to be bad on selective occasions. And we enjoyed seeing each other and complimenting each others’ roles when I had the weekly opportunity to read to his class in the library. But the point in this is not this isolated happening.

The message, so clearly and eloquently communicated by Robert and his Moment, is this. We all … every single one of us … have an inner sense of who we are. Like Robert, we have been given this “script” by otherwise loving, caring, well-intentioned (yes, I do know that I am being generous here) Significant Others throughout the course of our lives. And … we buy it. We give these people our trust, our confidence, our faith in their 'superior’ powers of judgment, and we live out the roles that they hand us.

I ask that you put yourself in the person of Robert when I asked him “Who told you that you are bad? Was it someone here at school? Or was it at home? Who did you fool into believing this joke?” and ask yourself, Dear Friend, “Who am I listening to? What qualifies that person to fix a defining label on my spirit? Why am I succumbing to this influence? Wouldn’t I enjoy taking up a script of my own choosing and playing a new role that meets my inner desires?” I do not suggest that this is as easily accomplished in the well over-rehearsed and time-reinforced role of the more experienced adult. But I do offer the hope.

And in that hope, I remain, as always, Your loving Friend and willing Servant.

Monday, June 01, 2009

An Alien

It was my experience to befriend a beautiful young woman who, with her group of friends and relatives, worked as Helpers in the newspaper distribution warehouse with me. Her intelligence and innate character were obvious to me. I engaged in every opportunity to encourage her embracing of her natural Gifts. But, with great sadness, I watched her as she sought to mold herself into the roles and behaviors of her family and unfortunate acquaintances. Here I offer my reflections on her struggles … insofar as I was privileged to know them.

I do know, for fact, of her slippage into self abuse (cuttings) … tattoos and piercings that she told me that she really did not want … and ultimately, her pregnancy … all, following in the steps of her peers.

The Alien role is one that I (in my past) knew with painful intimacy. I offer this reflection in the hope that that one ’Someone’ (known only to Life) who reads this … may benefit from knowing, that their suffering, fears, doubts, and struggles, do not go unseen, or uncared about.

An Alien

Alien to all that constitutes her environment …
wanting - no - needing to find a place of comfort.
Plagued by the exceptional capacities
encapsulated within her natural qualities …
she cannot naturally meld,
into the safety of obscure Anonymity.

So she camouflages herself,
with defacements common to those around Her.
She assumes the language, and behaviors,
that conceal her innate endowments.
She avoids all challenges
to the legitimacy of her portrayal …
Most importantly,
challenges borne of her own Awareness.

Unknown to her, the Others find
validation for their behaviors,
in her degradation,
of her appearance and demeanor.
For they all see the extraordinary Gifts,
that are naturally hers.
Making their shared cycles of mimicry,
an endless waste.

Only in still, lone, and quiet,
moments of painful reflection,
does she find herself confronted
with unidentified Frustrations.
As dissatisfaction, and Self loathing
drive her to Self punishment.

Inflicting physical wounds …
tangible, real, and knowable …
for all else is too dark and unknowable.
While these are accepted,
as deserved flagellations.

Creative Commons License
Unless expressly stated, all original material, of whatever nature, created by J. Michael Brown (John-Michael) and included in this weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.