Acceptance

I have very good friends whose points of view on a variety of subjects are radically different from mine. I wonder, how this can be?

Whether it’s politics, religion, sports, food preferences, child rearing decisions, you name it, the disparity can be significant. Any one of these topics could be the source of a major argument, and there comes a time when we have to ‘agree to disagree’ and move on to another topic.

Maybe you experience this same situation with some of your friends and family members.

Part of me is always interested in how things like this come about. Try as I might, the answers elude me. We’re each a product of so many influences, that it would likely be impossible to unwind things enough to discover the source, even if we tried.

A curious question arises for me. What allows us to continue to be friends, in light of the disparity in our points of view?  

My answer is simple. There is a greater love between us than there is a sense of divide. We relinquish ‘rightness’ in trade for ‘harmony’. Somehow, we are able to allow each other latitude, because down deep we have formed a stronger bond than anything we disagree about. To me, this is certainly a case where love overcomes.

But, there are of course, folks I disagree with and whose moral compass and opinions serve to separate us and the gap between us can seem monumental.

Looking at the world today, it appears present everywhere, that our various points of view are widening and causing major challenges, resulting in violence and revealing deep seated fears. I have little doubt this has always been the case, but with our abundant social media platforms, we hear so much more about it.

No matter which side you lean toward, it seems everyone senses a measure of discomfort.

So, what to do?

It feels like the truth to me that we know by now that, ‘the fangs first approach’, will not heal the world. When we allow our fears to lead the way with visceral reactions, they create a predictable defensive outcome, the return of barb for barb. It’s highly unlikely that this will ever produce any real answers.

I believe things will change only when our love is greater than our fear.

Fear thrives on maintaining set ideas and an avoidance of anything new. Fear needs to be listened to and allowed to have its say.

I believe there needs to be a search for a true understanding. We have to be willing to suspend our own beliefs, in order to ask questions and listen carefully to the perspectives of others. We need to be open to hearing their answers, with an eye toward resolution.

This is a tall order, no doubt about it.

It seems like the fundamental question is whether the love that is within each of us can rise to the surface and accept another human being the way they are? Can we give them an opportunity to express their concerns, so that we hear them, before we express our own? Can we see if it is possible to find common ground first, then build on that toward a better future?

I am not always successful in doing this and sometimes I fail miserably. When this happens, I try to recognize that I’ve fallen into old patterns and awaken myself to a better path. I try to release fear and summon love, because it’s the only way to live the life I want to experience here.

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Finding What We Look For

I understand the necessity and value in wearing a mask these days, but I really miss seeing people’s whole faces. It just isn’t the same.

I used to think you could tell what a person was feeling and thinking by looking at their eyes. That was before I lost contact with seeing their mouths. Now I understand, you need both.

So much is revealed through facial expressions. All the little hints and cues we read without realizing it, which help us to connect with others. To have some ideas about another’s mood or concerns, gives us a way in and opens a quiet door for us to be a part of another’s life.

What I miss the most is seeing smiles. I’ve seen a couple artistically drawn on the outside of a few masks, but they are a weak substitute for the real thing.

I’ve had to search in other places to find hidden smiles. The picture at the top of this post is one of my favorites. Every time I look at it, it makes me happy and gives me a little jolt, a kind of rush, knowing it’s there waiting for me, right in plain sight.

In case you aren’t familiar with this device, it’s one of those swiveling binocular machines that you put a few quarters in and look through to see objects that are far away. Most of the time they’re at look-out points, and you can use them to see distant mountains and lakes.

What I love about this device is the face I see. I think it’s adorable.

I have a whole collection of faces. I find them in the strangest places, like a child’s booster seat or a house doorway. I also create some on my own, mostly when I’m making lunch for one of my grandchildren. It’s really fun to arrange the food on their plate into a funny face and watch their reactions.

When I have a group of ‘face photos’, I make copies and send them to a friend of mine. She says it makes her day. To me, that’s a beautiful thing. It’s part of why I feel I’m here on this earth, to make a difference in someone’s life.

I’ve discovered, and you may have too, that it is so much easier to find something, if you know what you’re looking for. I’m sure that I would have missed many, many faces, if I hadn’t believed they were there waiting for me.

It feels like the truth to me, that all of life is like this. That we miss what we’ve convinced ourselves is not there, rather than opening to greater possibilities.

I wonder what would happen if I believed that whatever I wanted to show up in my life could be just like those faces I find.

When I reflect, I see that if I am fearful then a host of fearful things will enter my life. They are easy for me to find. They pop up instantly in front of me. It’s not really what I want to happen, so I have to stop and ask myself, is this what I want to find? Of all of the things in the world, is this really what I am looking for?

The answer is almost always, ‘no, definitely not.’

So, I encourage myself to make a shift. To remember to find smiling faces and then, the other things that light up my world. I close my eyes and imagine all of the things that would make me happy or give me joy that I could pass along to others. When I open my eyes and walk through my day, wonderful gifts are revealed to me. I discover that the surest path to finding what I am looking for in my life, is believing that all of what I seek is already here for me, waiting to be revealed.

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How Deep Does Pain Go

How deep does pain go?

The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow.

Please don’t stop reading yet.

Bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out.

I know there is a kind of pain that has an intensity far beyond anything we thought was imaginable. Whether it is physical, where the body is racked with enormous pain and limitations or emotional, where our heart is so broken it feels beyond repair. It could be mental or intellectual, where we can’t find answers to any of our dilemmas or spiritual, where we feel completely alone, distanced from any sense of love or caring.

There have been times when I’ve felt some of these brutal realities, not knowing whether things would ever get better. Certainly, for a while I could not see how it would be possible. There seemed to be no sunshine left. Maybe everyone has felt this way.

I don’t think you have to have lived into old age to know suffering. It seems to me to be sort of an ageless condition.

I’ve had many conversations with others about this. Every one of them ends in the same place, with one simple question…why?

Why is there so much pain and suffering?

No one I’ve spoken to feels they have the answer to this question. Sure, there are platitudes, but are they helpful? No one I know, including those who say them, seem to believe it.

So, the search for meaning goes on.

Once in a while someone tells me that pain and suffering is a punishment for the wrongs we’ve done. They often insert the word, ‘sin’ into the conversation. They tell me that (god) is so upset with our behavior that (he) has no choice but to condemn us and therefore, there we feel pain and endure suffering.

I don’t believe this. I never did, even as a child. You can not speak to me of a (god) who is everlasting love and always watches over me and cares for me and then add the ingredient of a (god) who sends me pain and suffering for being human.

Others I’ve talked with take a very direct approach to answering this question. They say, it is just a part of living on this earth and that it is a natural result of being here. This is also known as…’$#*% happens’.

Perhaps I’m unrealistic, but I think there’s more to it than that.

I want to go back to the statement I made at the beginning of this post. The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow. That’s how deep pain and suffering goes.

What I mean is this.

Imagine that you have a shovel in your hands. You aim it at the ground, step on the back and push your way into the earth. Once your shovel blade is full, you lift it up and set the dirt to the side. You now have a small hole in the ground. The hole is now how much pain there is in your life. It’s what you feel. The pain is relatively small, because the hole is small. You tell yourself you can deal with this.

But sometimes, the hole gets bigger and deeper and the amount of pain may exceed your ability to handle it. And sometimes the hole gets bigger still. You can’t imagine why, and you find it hard to see the bottom of the hole. The pain and suffering seem so deep.

I’ve lived through some deep holes. I think everyone has.

At some point I opened up inside and asked for help. I wanted to know what was at the bottom of the hole. I needed to know how deep it really was. So, I peered in and saw (god) at the bottom. And as I reached down, (god) reached up, until our hands met.

I realized that part of the pain and suffering was up to me. That I had something to do with how much I experienced. I was part of the equation. And I could ask for help and the pain and suffering would ease, if I allowed it to.

I know this is a hard answer to grasp. Do with it whatever feels right to you. I felt compelled to pass this along and I hope it helps someone.

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Listening

I took the picture in the banner above last summer when part of my family was vacationing in the Adirondacks in New York State. The brook was at the back of the property and was a slice of heaven for me. I am most at home in the water and was able to lay, almost completely submerged, feeling the rush of energy from the water as it passed over my body. Pure bliss.

One of my favorite past-times is to create ‘rock people’. I’m sure it’s some kind of throwback to a former life where the formations guided my way when I traveled long distances.

I love being able to find rocks of all sizes and shapes and see how they fit together. It’s very tricky business to be able to balance them and every so often, they tumble and I have to start over. That’s okay with me. Maybe it’s just the rocks way of being part of the process, so I get it just right.

I like this photo because it suggests that one of the rock people is talking to the rest of the crowd. I’m not sure what a rock person would say to other rocks, but the scene intrigues me.

I started thinking about ‘hearing’ and ‘listening’ and how different the two concepts can be.

According to one on-line dictionary, hearing is the ‘faculty of perceiving sounds’, while listening is either, ‘giving one’s attention to a sound’ or ‘paying attention to what another is saying’.

I began wondering which I do more often. When someone is speaking, whether near me or to me, am I hearing them or listening to them? I am conscious of there being sound, recognizing cadence, tone and volume, but am I truly hearing

them?

I ask myself what kind of a listener am I? Am I an active participant or is my role more passive? No doubt I vacillate, depending on the speaker, the subject or the circumstances.

I also wonder, when I am listening, what is the quality of my attention? Am I evaluating what is being said or perhaps, judging the content? Am I listening, but also preparing for my response, so that my attention is split?

One further question jumps in, what part of me is doing the actual listening? Is it my head or my heart?

These are a lot of questions. I think they are worth considering.

You see, I am also a speaker of words, trying to convey thoughts and ideas and feelings. I want to be heard. Not just the sounds that come from me, but the essence that is me. Maybe you want that too.

It feels to me that true listening is a gift, one that is beyond measure. To have someone paying careful attention to what you are saying and also to what you are feeling. To have someone listening from their heart, what a joy-filled present to offer another.

So, how does one offer this? To me, that becomes the rich, fertile question.

I don’t know if it is humanly possible to be a good solid listener all of the time. We have so much going on inside ourselves that it makes it very difficult to be an open channel. That’s not meant as an excuse, but rather an observation.

I believe being an active, compassionate, deep listener comes from the place inside us that knows love. There is a connection between us and the speaker. Our heart takes over and our breath slows a bit and our mind stills. We let go of our need to be right and our desire to fix anything. We become sponges, absorbing the words, thoughts and feelings of another human being who is trying their best to navigate this wonderfully incredible world of ours. We open to their need to be heard. We recognize that we are a part of a sacred exchange.

What a treasure to experience the divine in the hearing of sound.

And what a beautiful thing it is to give the gift of listening to another.

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Trading

My sister and I spent most of our growing up years watching Westerns on TV. Inevitably, the action centered, at least for a while, on the main street of town. They always had a saloon with those cool swinging half doors that looked like such fun to push your way through. We enjoyed seeing when some bad men were thrown out of the same swinging doors after too much “fire-water” or for cheating at the poker table.

Somewhere close by there was always a Trading Post, where folks went to see if they could find something they couldn’t make themselves. Often, they were looking for furs or some kind of tools or farm equipment or goods made in neighboring towns.

Thinking about the Trading Post got me to wondering about the whole idea of ‘trading’ and how common it is in our lives, although we might not think so.

Here’s what I mean.

The concept of exchanging one thing of value for another works not only when applied to others, but to ourselves.

One of the challenges is that we may not agree that the values of what’s being traded are equal. Then what do we do? I guess that’s where bartering or bargaining comes in. There may have to be a haggling process to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

It seems to me this process happens all the time in the world at large. Whether it’s boundary disputes, influencing important decisions, pursuing social justice or making economic choices…the list is endless.

Viewed from a distance it appears that the outcome takes one of two directions. It is either a mutually satisfactory trade or it is not. When one side gives more than receives, it feels wrong and the giver often becomes wary of the next trade.

When you add in other factors like power, money or influence, the process is often compromised and any satisfactory outcome is placed in jeopardy.

It takes a great deal of commitment to fairness and a sense of justice for a trade to be considered good.

And what about the trades we make with ourselves?

As I thought about what trades I make with myself, the first thing to appear was the idea of ‘time’. What amount of time do I have to give up in order to receive something else of value to me?

This turns out to be a pretty important question for me to answer.

Is it worth it to me to trade hours of my life in a classroom in order to obtain a college degree? Is it worth it to me to trade some of the money I earn in order to be protected against certain events beyond my control (car, home and life insurances)? Is it worth it to me to spend time exercising to improve my physical wellness and health for the future?

There are of course even more important trades to consider.

Is it worth the investment of time to maintain friendships with important people in my life? Is it a fair trade to donate money to folks who are in desperate need so that they have enough to live a better life? Is it worth all of the time I dedicate to enhancing my personal relationship with (god)?

Answering these questions ON PURPOSE has turned out to be quite enlightening for me and completely worth all of the time I’ve spent.

I wonder what your thoughts are about the ‘trades’ you make. If you care to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Free Will

Imagine you are sitting at a desk. You are in a comfortable chair with your feet firmly placed on the floor. Your posture is upright and your mind is sharp. You look down and see a piece of paper laying across the top of the desk. Surprisingly, it stretches out endlessly in to the left and to the right. A pen rests on the paper and you pick it up.

A voice calls out to you with a question. It is a soothing voice, one you think you ought to recognize. You decide to let go of trying to know who it is and center in on the question itself.

The voice says, “This is the continuum of ‘free will’ and you stand at the middle point. The left end represents your belief that you do not have any free will and that all things are already decided for you. The right end signifies that you believe you have absolute free will to decide whatever you want to experience in life, with no barriers or requirements. Consider carefully, because whatever you choose will determine the course of your life. On what part of the paper do you choose to make your mark?”

This is no simple decision.

Many of us are taught through our religious training that (god), regardless of the tradition, has a ‘will’ for us. Ordinarily, this ‘will’ is either unknown to us or must be told to us by others, who are said to possess greater understanding. They become the interpreters of (god’s) will.

I wonder, how is it that they know something we don’t? How have they come by this knowledge and how can they tell all others what is right and true for them?

I wanted to know more about this, so I asked (god) (Lia) this morning, and this is what she said.

“You may choose to experience life as unhappiness, discontentment and unfulfillment by choosing fear (rather than love) as the basis for your decisions. Aligning with what others tell you is my will is one way to do this. What is happening here is that you are allowing others to control your decisions out of fear that I will be displeased with you and reject you. You are accepting that they know the truth but that you don’t. Your trust is placed in them, rather than in me and in yourself. Whenever you concede to others, you lose all of your power and sacrifice your free will, which is your greatest and most beautiful gift.”

She went on to say, “This may surprise you, but I have no will for you to behave in any particular or specific manner. That does not mean that I do not know what you choose. I do. I also know that if it is your desire to live a happy, contented, joy filled life, exercising your free will is the pathway. You are made completely and entirely of love, so you are your most happy, contented, joy filled self when you are acting (choosing) in accordance with your very nature. There is an alignment of love in this. Just because I know this to be true, I do not have a will for you to be this way. That is your choice.”

And finally, she said, “You are in this world to create and experience whatever you desire. Free will gives you the choice to align with fear or with love. This is up to you.”

Accepting this as the truth for me, I feel free to choose any option and embrace any opportunity, knowing that the ones that most serve me are those made from love, because they align with my very nature.

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Casting Rainbows

I’m usually sitting at my desk in my home office by 6:00am. When the sun comes up, it hits the windshields of the car passing by my house and sends momentary flashes of blinding reflected light into my eyes. It doesn’t last more than a second, but the glare is so incredibly bright that it’s painful.

This is another of those situations in life that seem so simple to fix. I could merely reach over and pull the shade down. Problem solved. Except that this also shuts out all of the beautiful sunshine. And considering the length of our winter and the amount of shadows we’ve lived with, especially over this last year, I can’t make myself do it.

To be honest, my first reaction was to feel a bit angry and wonder why it had to happen this way.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that if I’m at all patient, another idea will follow as to how to solve the problem facing me. And it did.

It was wonderful and a total surprise.

I imagined being able to pull down a thin translucent sheet of material that would act like a prism, casting gorgeous rainbows all over the wall in front of me. So beautiful.

I thought to myself, I need to figure out how to make this real. I want rainbows instead of blinding glare in my life. I know I’ll find a way. I’ve discovered this about myself. Once I shift my perspective, new things become possible.

It’s the way my mind works, or perhaps it’s my heart, but once a shift happens, an idea or question will pop up in front of me. One did.

“How could I turn other things in my life, that I find painful, into something I find beautiful…radiant, even?”

I thought about this for a while. What challenges does this pose to me? What challenges would it pose to you?

The first challenges to arrive were these; major world conflicts and disagreements between factions, mistreatment and oppression by those in power, religious intolerance and political ideological disputes. Those seemed kind of big to tackle right away. Maybe I ought to start with something easier and work up to these.

Okay, how about, simple differences of opinion, small acts of dishonesty, saying unkind things to each other, failing to meet expected standards and thinking less of others and more of myself.

Perhaps these were smaller, but it seemed just as difficult to see how I could turn them into anything beautiful.

The more I thought about this, the more obvious it was to me that, the closer I come to disliking another’s position, the closer I come to disliking them personally. And there’s the glare, the blinding reflected light flashing into me…’I’ve made it personal’.

Every time I do this, I find that I suffer inside and the distance between myself and others grows.

I’ve made us separate. It’s them and me. We’re apart because I’ve chosen to believe they are what they say or what they do.

I have to stick around long enough and remind myself, it’s not who they are.

I have to ask myself, can I stop a moment and see who they are on the inside? Can I find some thin translucent sheet to place between us so I can see the rainbows they cast?

Yes, this is the hard part.

I have to go inside and remember that we are all one, made from the same source of love. We cast different shadows and see different lights. We’ve been raised and trained to see different paths.

Why is that?

Could one answer be that our life is enhanced when we are encouraged to look beyond ourselves? When others views are meant to expand us, to foster dialogue between us and to create harmony out of discord?

Imagine if we could be open enough inside, willing to talk without our opinion having to be the conclusion, willing to see others real needs, willing to honor other’s lives.

And, perhaps the most important aspect in all of this, is to realize I can not change anyone else, I can only change the way I view the world and relate to it. Seeing this clearly is a wonderful thing.

To me this creates beautiful rainbows…radiant ones even.

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I See You

For those familiar with my book series, Little Buddha, you may remember this as the starting line of a saying expressed at the end of the first book. It is spoken by 18-year-old Michael, while addressing one of the main characters, Sam. Michael belongs to a native American tribe in the western part of the United States and is visiting his cousin, Claire, another of the main characters. He’s had a very important conversation with Sam and is about to leave to return home. But, before he goes, he wants to present his farewell to Sam. So, he looks directly into Sam’s eyes and says, “I see you.”

Sam immediately understands Michael is not talking about seeing Sam’s surface, but is saying he sees who Sam is.

Sam responds, that although it may sound strange, he ‘feels seen’. He feels acknowledged in a way he’s never felt before, especially not after just having met someone.

Sam recognizes that he’s usually so preoccupied that he doesn’t even look into another’s eyes, perhaps he thinks because he’s afraid to see or be seen.

What a beautiful thing it is to be seen. To feel that another has looked into you and found something of worth and value. To be held in another’s gaze with a sense of love shining through and coming in to you.

There is a part of Sam that is transformed by this simple exchange.

There are four other parts to Michael’s farewell.

He says to Sam, “I believe in your dreams”. Sam knows that Michael means this. He can tell the difference between the power in Michael’s serene stare and what others have told him in his life that lacked any form of truth.

Michael continued by saying, “Even the ones you don’t yet see.” That felt especially significant to Sam because he has just started on his spiritual journey and feels he knows so little about what direction to travel. To have someone say, that not only did they believe in his dreams, but all the ones to come as well. What a wonderful sense of assurance Michael has provided.

“You mean something to me,” Michael said next. Sam had just met Michael, but he knew without any doubt that he meant this. It was overwhelming.

And finally, Michael faced Sam and said, “You will be forever in my heart.” Michael placed the palms of his hands together and bowed to Sam. What an enormous gift Sam felt that he’d received. To be seen, believed in and cherished. It inspired Sam to keep this farewell close to his heart and repeat it often with those he knew and came to know.

It turns out that I offered an eleven-week book study for each of the three current Little Buddha books. It has been one of the most treasured events in my life. To be able to share with a beautiful group all of the lessons and insights that Sam experiences is so rich and rewarding. When our session is over, we gather in a circle and repeat these five sayings to each other. What a blessing it is to see and be seen in this way.

Please accept this as my gift, if it feels like something you would like to have in your life. Find others who may also want to see and be seen and share it with them. And if you are close enough to Albany, New York, come and share your life with us at the next book study.

Special Note:

For your reference, you can find this passage in Little Buddha Book One, chapter 9, pages 139-141. All of the Little Buddha books are described on this website under the Books page and are available on Amazon in print and ebooks.

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Conviction

Have you ever heard of Jeannette Rankin? I’m willing to bet that you haven’t. I certainly didn’t know about her and her name only came to light because of a curious question I asked myself.

It seems we are living in a time of great political and social upheaval. The USA seems incredibly divided at this time, which made me wonder if there was ever a time in our history when there was a unanimous vote about anything.

My first thought was the United States entry to World War Two following the attack on Pearl Harbor. I decided to satisfy my curiosity and looked it up. Nope, not even then did everyone agree.

I discovered that one person voted against going to war. I had to know more.

That’s when I found out about Jeannette Rankin. She was the first woman ever elected to federal office in the United States. In 1916 she became a member of the House of Representatives from the first district of Montana. Shortly after her term began there was a vote to go to war with Germany. She and 50 others voted against it. Unsurprisingly, she was singled out for criticism, no doubt because she was a woman. She was not reelected once her term expired.

She went on to rise in the woman’s suffragist movement and championed social reforms, in particular a woman’s right to vote, which finally occurred as the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

In 1940 she decided to ran for a seat in the House of Representatives from Montana and won. Again, shortly after her term began, there was another vote to go to war. As a life-long pacifist, she again voted against the proposed declaration. This time she was the only person, male or female to vote ‘no’.

After the vote was taken and the session was over, she was pursued from the House floor by angry members, who cornered her in a telephone booth and would not allow her to leave. She had to call the Capital Police to rescue her and escort her to her office.

So, I wonder, how did Jeannette have the strength to vote her convictions? Certainly, she knew what was in store for her and how utterly persecuted she would be. After all, she already endured this once, twenty-five years before. She could not possibly have imagined that others would try to see from her point of view. And, she had to know how unpopular her pacifist beliefs were, especially right after the surprise attack.

I’m sure she knew, but she voted both her conscientious, and according to what she said, also on behalf of all of the mothers from Montana who did not want their sons going to war. Jeanette believed that war and violence were always unjustified, no matter the circumstances.

To me, there are at least two issues going on here. One is whether war is ever justified. There is no doubt a wide spectrum of opinion about this, ranging from the pacifist stand she, and others, like Mahatma Gandhi took, to the all-out hawks of the world who believe might makes right.

The other issue is, what kind of a stand is one willing to take based on their life convictions and beliefs?

Now, that’s a challenging question.

I want to say that I would have what it takes to stand fast, but I don’t really know. Perhaps, no one does until the situation arises.

I do know, that whether I agree with her pacifist beliefs or not, I have enormous respect for Jeannette and the strength and courage she displayed, particularly in the face of such vehement opposition.

When I’m presented with difficult decisions in the future, I’m pretty sure I’ll be thinking of her and grateful for the example of her life.

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Life as a Public Service Announcement

Recently a thought just popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I’m trying really hard to pay attention to anything that shows up in my life like this. I’ve come to the conclusion that thoughts and feelings don’t come from ‘nowhere’, but rather from some inner guidance, meant to reveal truths that would be helpful to me. I trust them now. All of them, even the ones I don’t understand right away.

What came to me was that each of our lives is like our own public service announcement.

I wasn’t sure where the idea for PSA’s came from so I looked it up on Wikipedia. I realize it is not the ultimate authority, but it did provide me some useful information.

According to the article, PSA’s began both in the UK and the US during World War Two. They were created to provide the public with health and safety information, but were also used for other purposes. One of these was the campaign to inspire US citizens to invest in US Savings Bonds, to assist with funding the war effort. Later, they were primarily used as “fillers”, when the broadcast industry didn’t have enough paid advertising to fill their schedules.

What’s the connection?

Good question.

How about this- are each of our lives our own version of a public service announcement? And, how vested are we in trying to influence others, hoping that they will agree with us and adopt our beliefs? What makes what we’ve been told or what we say, ‘correct’?

These ideas led me down an interesting path. At first, I didn’t think they applied to me much. But, the more I considered the questions, the more I see that they do.

And I wonder, am I trying to influence others to believe what I believe? I don’t want to. I would prefer that everyone make up their own minds and listen to their own hearts.

I recognize that from birth we are all influenced by those around us. Our parents and siblings, our grandparents, other relatives and friends. And that’s before we even get to school. Then there are teachers, religious leaders, authorities, the legal system and culture at large. We absorb our ethics and our expectations from those who are important in our lives. I’m not suggesting that there is anything ‘wrong’ with this, just that we’re often influenced without consciously realizing it.

It feels to me that there could be an enormous benefit for each of us in acting from a conscious point of view. Looking with an open mind at our own words and seeing if they are truly what we wish to put out into the world.

I’ve often caught myself repeating things I’ve heard others say, only to realize they aren’t what I actually believe. I sit back and see that I have been influenced. How easy it is to forward that along to others in my life.

It can happen so subtly. The other day I was singing along with a song on the radio. The beat was strong and the tune was popular for a long time. It dawned on me, once I centered on the words, that the message was terrible. It was reveling in one person’s sorrow. I had to stop singing. It wasn’t a part of my truth.

I had to ask myself, how often does this happen to me, that I repeat the influences that surround me, often while disconnected from their meaning? A lot, I bet.

And, I wondered, what about me, am I living my life as some form of public service announcement? Do I have all sorts of vested interest in influencing others to see things from my point of view?

Maybe it’s inescapable, I’m not sure. But, I do know that I am trying to speak what feels true to me, without the need for anyone else to agree or accept my beliefs. This actually applies to all of my Posts, so I hope you always choose your own path.

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