Why Are You Here

I’d like to propose a radical idea for you to consider.

Here it is.

You are here to experience JOY.

Sure, I know that sounds crazy. You could say to me, look around, don’t you see what’s happening these days? It’s a fractured world. There’s climate change, political upheaval, war and the resulting horrors, drastic economic shifts.

You could ask me; how do you expect me to be happy and feel joyful?

And then you could say to me…are you mad?

Part of me is likely to respond that I can’t find much joy in this life either. I have my own list of prohibitions to joy and a host of prerequisites before I will allow myself to honestly answer that I feel any ongoing sense of joy.

But another part of me refuses to give up on this idea. It asks me to look deeper within myself and reveal a greater truth than what appears on the surface.

Yes, I see the challenges. I feel the pressures to perform, to possess, to acquire, to say out loud that I am happy and fulfilled. I fully sense my limits, physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally. And they weigh a ton. I know they do.

I’ve come to recognize that so much of what I see in the world is driven by fear and it forces me to ask the question over and over again…why am I here?

There is a strong part of me that wants to know my answer, or is it answers?

Each time this happens, some sort of list appears, as if completing it will provide satisfaction, a sense of completeness or elemental clarity for me.

It hasn’t. It doesn’t.

Maybe the same thing happens to you. Maybe you also associate ‘what you do’ with ‘who you are’, so that the more you accomplish, the better you can feel about yourself. Maybe you too seek to answer the question of why you are here with specific goals you set and meet. And perhaps you are just as unsatisfied with this approach as I am.

Perhaps you are ready for a shift in perspective. And maybe it will take something radical to make this happen.

Well, here’s something you may want to consider. Since fear doesn’t work, how about trying love?

The love I’m talking about is expressed through a genuine sense of joy. I’m not speaking about happiness, which can be fleeting and easily overcome by the world. Instead, I’m speaking about a profound inner belief that we are each here to experience and express joy.

What does that mean?

My personal answer is that it will be different for each person because what brings joy to one is not the same as what brings joy to another.

Then how is joy found?

Here’s a shocker. I don’t believe joy can be ‘found’, because this implies it is OUTSIDE of us, hidden somewhere, waiting to be discovered.

What feels like the truth to me is that joy is INSIDE each of us and is revealed when we center on love.  I see that fear is only a messenger and it guides by showing us what does not work, but it cannot tell us why we are here, because only love can do that.

So, what is the radical path I am suggesting?

It will take a little time, but it will be worth it. I promise.

It starts like so many other paths, with breathing in and out slowly, deeply, quietly, allowing your body to relax. It starts by closing your eyes and letting the world fade away, and then opening your heart and saying ‘yes’ to going deeper inside yourself (your self) and asking what brings out the joy in you? What makes you feel the most alive? I suggest the answer to these questions are also the answers to why you are here.

I’ll share some of my joys to get you started…I am here to help others find their own path. I am here to speak my truth (each of my books and these website posts are my attempts to share with you). I am here to connect deeply with family and friends, and to both give and receive love. I am here to get lost in the beauty of the natural world and I am here to live as an extension of the divine for as many days as I walk this earth.

If you give yourself some time, I believe you will reveal the truth about why you are here and how joy creates the spark for all things to happen in your life.

Letting Yourself off the Hook

Have you done something wrong? Maybe someone else thinks that you did, and they’ve placed you on a hook for it.

Perhaps you recognize an error you’ve made and can’t get past it.

What do you do?

Clearly, this may be simple or quite complex and no one answer exists for all situations. You may or may not agree that you belong on the hook. You may not think that the source of controversy is important or any big deal. You may disagree completely and believe you are blameless.

But, even if you are, knowing that others do not share your opinion can create difficulties and challenges for you.

I wonder what inner part of us controls our decisions about accepting and releasing blame. I wonder too when does blame turn into shame?

I know for sure that both blame and shame are extremely heavy loads to carry, especially if you feel you have to carry them for a long period of time. I don’t think any of us are prepared for that.

So, what resources are available to us?

I believe it is true that lots of perceptive, intelligent, and self-aware folks exist in the world. Many have made it a part of their mission to help those facing blame and shame issues. They have wonderful and insightful things to say and provide a host of suggestions about what to do. If you’d like, you can find them through an internet search.

But what if you don’t have access to their work?

Perhaps that’s the time to focus on your inner resources and your divine self, to call upon your immense strength and your accumulated wisdom from your years here on this earth.

I’d like you to consider that there is a sacred part of you that knows all things, but as of yet, has not been called upon for answers.

I confess this approach requires that you acknowledge you are connected to the divine and the source of all wisdom. Just because I believe this to be true isn’t enough. For there to be any divine aid in resolving blame and shame, you would need to make the decision that you are a part of god.

For just a moment, suspend any sense of disbelief and open to the possibility that you have access to greater wisdom. Allow yourself to conceive that you are directly connected to the divine. And that you can ask and receive answers to all of your questions.

Imagine that there is an answer for you, a solution, and a way forward.

Take a moment and sit back, close your eyes, and breathe in and out gently. Ask for help and guidance. Smile to let the love in. Be open to knowing that there is a center line running through you of joy. A joy that accepts you as you are and understands that you say and do things from a place of unknowing. You are present on earth as an unfolding of perfection. Not perfect itself, but an unfolding into perfection. And as you unfold, recognize that blame and shame do not serve you, other than to point the way past themselves so that you may see more clearly. Know that joy is your natural inner path toward all things.

From this relaxed place, release yourself from any hooks you may be encountering and allow your heart to guide you to the answer you seek and to the way forward that lets go of blame and shame and embraces love and joy. Once in the arms of love and joy, life flows easily.

Peace be with you and inside of you.

Open Road

I love the open road.

Getting in my car and heading out with no destination in mind, free to go anywhere. The thrill of endless possibilities stretching out before me (or us, when my wife and I are together in the car).

The sense of exploration always triggers happy feelings in me. And no matter how many times I’ve traveled the same roads, when I’m in a creative carefree space, I see new things.

The world is such an amazing place and I’ve always been fascinated by those who make a career out of discovering all of its joys. One of my all-time favorite TV shows was, On The Road, with Charles Kuralt. He had a passion for exploration and connection, and along with my father, probably inspired my sense of adventure the most.

I recognize that there are always bends in the road, which can add to the fun, because that’s where a lot of surprises sit waiting for me. Yes, I think they are waiting for me, ready to mystify or dazzle me.

But, sometimes someone pulls out of their driveway, headed to the grocery store or the doctor’s office or somewhere else, with no intention of driving anywhere near the speed limit. My wife and I have a saying we apply to them. ‘They have nowhere to go and all day to get there and no idea how to.’

Of course, this is unfair. They may have some idea, it’s just not obvious to us.

It is one of the drawbacks of beautiful country roads, there are almost no places to pass slow drivers or extra wide farm equipment or huge semis that chose the rural route over the superhighway. So, I have to wait until they make it to their destination or turn off somewhere.

It’s a call to patience for me. I know this is the truth.

Isn’t it funny how the experiences we need most, come up so often in our lives? It is as if I am universally connected to the pokey country driver and he or she knows exactly when I am coming, even if I don’t. He or she knows when to get up, get dressed, eat, pull on their coat, start up their car and back out into the road right in front of me. The precision of it boggles my mind, after all I didn’t even know which roads I’d be taking.

Do you think I’m imagining all of this, that this scenario couldn’t possibly play out as I’ve described it? That it is pure coincidence?

I wonder sometimes.

So, what keeps bringing me back to the open road?

I think it is the sense of freedom and surprise. The slice of priceless beauty looking off to one side of the road and seeing a vast stretch of green grass, bordered by huge guardian trees, with mountain peaks in the far distance, beckoning me to come to them.

When I am at my clearest, I can see into the story of my life.

Everything that appears real to me and that I take for granted, shifts right before my eyes. The open road becomes a vivid metaphor to me for the awakened life I hope to lead. It is filled with beauty and promise and grand opportunities, if I believe they are there. And if I am patient, and look around instead of straight ahead, I can see and reach for them and draw joy into my life.

So, I try to remind myself, that the open road leads in every direction and promises me adventure no matter what.

Next time you’re out on the road, maybe we can spot each other and wave. I’ll be looking for you.

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Fun

What are you aiming for this year?

Are you unsure or do you have some thoughts about it already?

Here’s a suggestion you might not have considered. How about including fun in your life? I mean an ‘on purpose’ kind of fun, rather than hoping fun arrives when you need it.

If you’re game, grab a pencil or pen or even better, a crayon. The color doesn’t matter, whatever is handy will do. Oh, and a piece of paper, notebook, journal, or as my dad always used to do, reach for an old envelope.

Now, this is very important. This is an exercise of speed. You may find it works best if you write down exactly what comes to your mind immediately. The things that are sitting inside you and close to the surface are probably the ones you need the most.

You can always dive deeper once you’ve captured the quick and easy stuff.

Ok, here goes. Write down everything that comes to you that sounds like fun. Remember, it doesn’t have to be practical, reasonable or affordable. Stop now and just write.

I’m going to assume you wrote some things. I hope so.

Are you pleased with your list? If not, you can have a do-over whenever you want and as many times as you want.

Here’s another idea. Wouldn’t it be fun to see what other people wrote down on their lists? To me, this offers several opportunities for joy. One, you may want to borrow a couple of items from their list. Two, you may want to get together with them and do some of the items that appeal to both of you. Three, if you expand this to more folks, you may be able to do some fun things in a group.

As with all ventures, it is up to you to decide.

Just in case you’re interested, I’m going to share some of my list with you and maybe plant a few seeds:

Zoom with our Game Group friends, paint some rocks and put them around town, do art projects with my grandchildren, go for a drive with Maureen, put together some Legos, create a Zentangle heart and get it made into stickers, read a good book, make another tie-dye shirt, play cards, watch some shows we like, listen to music, email and text some friends to catch up, have conversations with Lia, and dream about when the weather is warm enough to be in water outdoors (any water really; a brook, stream, pond, lake, ocean, pool, even a puddle will do).

Earlier in my life I thought that intellectual aims were the most important things and that fun just filled in the gaps. But life can become serious and when it does, fun can become lost in the mad shuffle and get squeezed out.

That’s when my alter-ego has to appear. Inside me, there is a perennial four-year-old just waiting to be in charge. His job is to say, ‘enough work, it’s play time’. This is easiest to pull off when the grandchildren are around, but I’m getting to be pretty good at when I’m solo.

I hope you get good at it too.

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Joyful

Do you know the TV and magazine ads that promise to help you deal with physical issues you might be experiencing? No matter what problem you have, there’s a drug or treatment that offers you help in managing your symptoms or condition. I’m very glad that this type of assistance exists and it’s wonderful to know that when you need support, it’s available to you.

The last time I saw one of these ads I wondered, is there some kind of pill or treatment for ‘conditional happiness’?

You may be wondering what this is.

Here are some of the symptoms. Do you create certain criteria that must be met BEFORE you can be happy? A list of items to check off, otherwise you think happiness can’t be experienced. Do you find yourself feeling happy and then wonder how long it can possibly last? And then, sure enough, it falls away. Do you wonder how it is even conceivable to be happy, given the state of the world? You want to be happy, but you feel so much stands in your way.

I’d like to propose a radical idea for you to consider.

What if we shifted our perspective? What if we all were designed to be happy? Suppose your core nature contained everything you need to be happy, and that buried deep within you, there is a place of perfect peace. A place you can draw from any time you need or want to.

While I’m thinking about this, I’m considering my choice of words. Maybe ‘happiness’ isn’t the right word. Perhaps, ‘contentment’ would be better. No, contentment feels limited, sort of like settling for something.

How about ‘joyful’? Yes, I like that word. I like opening it up to see that it means, filled with joy. What an awesome concept. I want to be filled with joy.

So, let me start over.

What if we all were full of joy by design? What if we came here to this earth with the capacity to feel joy no matter what we encountered. What if we believed that joy was our very nature. I love the way that feels.

Is this possible for you to conceive? I hope so.

Imagine what the world would be like if we believed that joy is a fundamental part of us, centered deep within each of us.

How would this change things?

Ahhhh, isn’t that the real question?

One important thought comes to me. If I truly believed that I am filled with joy, and that it is always accessible to me, I could see things from a very different perspective. I could allow joy to flow through me and embrace it with delight.

On seeing a person by the side of the road asking for money because they are homeless, I could open my heart and spirit and let my joy overflow. I could open my window and share from my abundance and watch as my joy spread into another person’s world.

I could look around and see the beautiful turn of colors in the leaves. I could get lost in the aroma of fresh baked cookies coming out of the oven. I could glory in the connection with others who share this world with me, like you. I could reveal joy wherever I looked.

Rather than living according to what I see outside of me, I could live from my center of joy. What a wonderful choice to have.