Thursday, January 21, 2010

"We Need To Talk !" (please)

It is in the moment created by some extraordinary circumstance that we are presented with the opportunity to make dramatic change in our lives. I have been blessed with a few such opportunities.

“Where are their fathers?” I asked of the director of the United Cerebral Palsy Center as we discussed the challenges faced by the small children being cared for in his facility. “Oh, they frequently say that they ‘just can’t deal with the situation’ and leave“ he replied. I learned, then, that not everyone commits to change when immovable or uncompromisable circumstances present themselves. Some choose to simply ‘run for the hills.’

I know well the grip of fear when life declares, through that aforementioned 'uncompromisable circumstance,' How unwelcome that "WE NEED TO TALK!" moment is. The “need to talk” imperative is never a pleasant one ... whether presented by our unavoidable inner voice (our conscience, or soul-voice) or the challenging voice of another. The message is always the same “you must consider something different and/or acknowledge present insufficiencies.” And none of us eagerly embrace either an insufficiency or a change. (It has been well said by some ancient sage,It is easier for man to accept the miseries of a poor life than for him to confront the fears inherent to change.And I can affirm that truth from my own struggling experience.)

Hence I am writing to let you know that the beginning point for my venture, into all of my Tomorrows ... was to take an isolated moment with myself and say, “WE NEED TO TALK.” (I then refused the natural survival impulse to' run for the hills.')

I found that talking with one’s inner self requires both asking and listening (with patience) for answers. “As a man thinketh … so is he.” came to my awareness. Please make note here … it is not what he thinks, not a matter of quantity of data considered … but HOW he thinks … with what motivating qualities. That is, in other terms, “where my thinking was coming from” or what my motivations were. We are not talking about “goals” or “dreams” here, but instead, the “music” driving the “lyrics” of our thoughts ... the “core” of us. I had to decide on an overarching Theme for my thinking.

If our intentions are self-serving then they must be acknowledged to be just exactly that without the prejudice of any possible outside perspectives. If the mind-set of “I am looking out for what will serve my best interests” is what you choose to drive your voice, then have the courage to say so to yourself and to the world around you. This “sit-down” is just with yourself and no outside valuation is appropriate. If your intentions are ridiculously altruistic, then that should be the set foundation for a confidence in the thinking’s value and worth. Remember … As you think, so you are. It is in this mode that you will find yourself thinking things that, heretofore, you have never thought (perhaps for fear of judgment, mockery, or rejection.) In my case, I became aware of a voice that was not familiar … a spiritual (though, most definitely, not “religious”) voice that expressed thoughts beyond those to which I was accustomed.

I found comfort in the knowledge that all of the world’s cultures have been aware, from earliest time, of an influence that shades our thinking. We have identified this influence as “higher” or “lower”, as light/dark, evil/good, positive/negative, yen/yang, etc… How often have we heard the well worn “you see the glass half-empty/half’-full” label for our thinking or predisposition? Such is the “music” to which I refer when I make mention of the foundation of all of our thinking. This is, most definitely, NOT a matter of attitude or whimsical mood. This is the “Spiritual bent” that would guide my thought processes. The sort of identity that enables people to make statements like, “He seems to see the potential for good in every situation.” That kind of Spirit versus the “You can be sure that he will find something to complain about.” mode. The “Well, you may not know what his decision will be, but you can be sure that it will be based on ____" (and you can fill in the blank with the character trait that is certain to drive that choice to be made by him.)

Herein lies the “As he thinks” mechanism. There is NOTHING else, in this life, that is in our complete control. In this and only this can we exercise complete sway … the spirit to which we trust all of the processing of our thought. We actively choose the “As” of our thinking. Our basic ability to think may be impaired or even enhanced by Life’s touch, but regardless of our capacity for mental function, we all (with some clinical exceptions) maintain moment-by-moment control of our willingness to surrender our thoughts to a greater or lesser, bitter or better, higher or lower Influence. This is the ultimate power of our will. So, my Dear, Patient Reader, it became clear to me that I had to elect the Master Control for all the choices, measures, and elections that I suspected lay ahead for me and those who would be affected by those calculations. (And I knew, with absolute certainty, that much of what I chose would not find ready favor, or reception, with many in my world.)

I recall an old story that illustrates this principal to my satisfaction. It seems that an old man was visiting with his guru for the purpose of learning, further, how to discipline his thinking. “It is like there are two dogs fighting over control of my mind” the old man offered, “the dog of anger pulls one way while the dog of peace pulls the other.” “And which dog wins the battle?” asked the guru. “The one that I say ‘sic-em’ to” answered the man. You do, of course, see my point. The “dogs” of influence and guiding perspective will ALWAYS be there, vying for dominance over the “musical soundtrack” accompanying our thought processes. The choice of music is constantly in our control… soothing/clashing, harmonious/discordant, uplifting/downgrading, … etc., etc. We, though, have the one and only deciding vote to determine which voice is told to “sic”, or take dominance over, the other.

I hope, in this reflection, to encourage not only your own confidence in, and willingness to be at peace with, your individual option for your thinking processes ... but also to heartily encourage you to be carefully discriminating about those who you surround yourself with. Life can be far more enjoyable if we will exercise considerate care in the creating of beneficial settings for comfortable and mutually respectful exchanges of insights. Settings that will serve as a stage for a harmonious intercourse as opposed to an arena or field of battle ... first within ourselves, and then with the world around us. It is critical to recognize the kind of “music” accompanying the messages offered by those with whom we hope to achieve a harmonious exchange. Which dog is in control of each of your spirits?

Can you imagine anything more pleasant than two people meeting with a spirit of generosity (for example) motivating both of them? “I want to be more generous than you.” “No, no, please allow me to be more generous than you.” The possibilities boggle the mind. But reality is, alas, most often, quite different.

The point of beginning is, however, the same for us all … LISTENING to the “music“ of our own spiritual soundtrack. And then deciding … actively and responsibly … how we want to “orchestrate “ all of our thinking ... for all of our tomorrows.

Now ... some two-score years removed from those earliest confrontations with those irksome "We need to talk!" moments ... I can tell you that through all of the darkest of moments; the most vexing of conflicts; painful misunderstandings; heart-breaking losses; and debilitating anxieties ... because I did, indeed, make those specific and precise choices as to the set of my Spirit's sail ... it is well with my Soul! And that, My Darling Friend, makes for a peaceful smile in the quiet of my Todays.

IMAGES through the gracious courtesy of Jon Sullivan,


Suldog said...


I often come here, see a long posting, and think, "Oh, geez, that's a lot of words in a small font. I'll skim."

You know what? I never end up skimming by the end. Something in your words always grips me and I end up reading it all. And well worth the effort it is, too!

Thanks, always.

John-Michael said...

Jim, my Darling SulDog Friend, You are one lovely human being. Truly! As I spoke to "my Dear, Patient Reader"n this lengthy bit ... I understood what a challenge it would be to read. I sincerely thank you for your kind generosity in investing yourself in doing so. Yet another demonstration of why I love you so!

Joni said...

Reading through your insightful post I am leaving with these words, "willingness to be at peace with, your individual option for your thinking processes" firmly tucked in a cozy place that just makes me smile inside and out. I know you reached out with much much more, but THIS was what I needed. Thank you JM. Life's been so busy so I haven't stopped by as often as I would like and today was a gentle reminder of what I've been missing.

Blessings to you my friend ~

John-Michael said...

So completely overwhelmed, with outpourings from my gladdened Heart, was I, as I embraced the lovely Gift of your Spirit's Presence, Darling Joni ... that I disciplined myself to wait for the passing of a day, to temper my zeal in responding.

To think that I have given you something worthy of your having "firmly tucked in a cozy place that just makes me smile inside and out," made me feel another day of living worthwhile.

I can never overstate my gratitude for Life's exquisite Gift of You, Dear One, in my life. You are so infinitely precious to me.

Lovingly ...

lime said...

as i was reading along i began to think of the two dogs story and then you came to it as well....i'm smiling to find myself at least on the same page as you to that degree. thank you for reminding me of that which i know but struggle to practice.

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