OarsMy son and I have taken a few trips down the Musconetcong  River in an inflated two man boat.  The first two trips were successes.  On the third trip, I completely misjudged the river conditions.  We ended up popping the boat, walking much of the trip (in and out of the water) and my cellphone ended up getting waterlogged.  The trip was not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.  As usual we were dropped off at the river several miles from our house and then left to make our way home.  The low water levels did not become a true problem until we were about a half hour into the trip.  At that point, it is too late to turn back.  Luke and I had anticipated a few bumps along the way but we got a full on shipwreck and I’m so glad that we did.

Neither of us enjoyed the trek that we made down the river.  Half of the time we were in the boat, half we were out and eventually when it popped we had to walk the river without an exit to the road for a while.  Regardless of our poor circumstances, we kept chatting and dealing with small problems as they arose.  It was not the trip that we wanted but that didn’t mean that we had to hate it.  This was not taking lemons and making lemonade.  This was slogging and knowing it was slogging but moving forward anyway and not lamenting it.  It was something that had to be dealt with.

All too often life hands us poor circumstances.  In the natural world, lamenting your circumstances gets you nothing.  It is only in our overly cushy society that complaints do much to improve a situation.  Generally speaking, the world is not interested in your comfort, preferences or desires.  It gives you circumstances and you can choose to whine or choose to move forward.  A shipwreck is not particularly a death sentence or even a negative occurrence, unless you decide that it is.




Two Worlds

two worldsElon Musk and others are working on plans to eventually colonize Mars.  It is long term thinking that is necessary given the human race’s rapid destruction of our own planet.  The plans for this type of project will require some of the brightest minds using the best technology available.  Without a doubt it is one of the most ambitious endeavors that is being attempted at the moment.  Before reaching the “Red Planet”, all of the planning and preparation needs to be done here on Earth.  Survival on Mars is completely dependent upon the work from this planet.

The same is true for all of us.  We are also working on a two world project.  All of the preparation and planning  (or lack thereof) is done in our minds and put into action with our bodies.  Just like the Mars colonization, your life needs to be constructed with forethought or it will lead to some form of failure.  While your life may not be a grandiose mission to another planet in service to the human race, it is a mission in the service of at least one person (you).  Leaving a project of this much importance to chance seems ridiculous.  Your second world needs to be created with deliberate mindfulness.  This is by no means an easy task!  Most people struggle with aspects of the creation of their ideal life.  Just because it is not easy, does not mean that it isn’t important.

So take a long hard look at your world.  Is it presently the way that you want it?  Is the environment correct for sustaining the life that you want?  Who do you want in that world?  Are you doing things to poison and destroy your own world?  These are just some of the questions that you may want to ask yourself.  It can be a beautiful world but you need to make it!

Enjoy the day, it belongs to you!

Dollar Store Wrapping Paper

WrappingWhen I buy wrapping paper, I buy it at the dollar store or on sale.  The reason is that wrapping paper has almost no value in my eyes.  It must meet two criteria: functional and appropriate.  Other than that, it is just the mask that the gift wears before it is uncovered.  A great gift makes up for horrible wrapping, the reverse is never true.

The best gifts have value regardless of their wrapping.  The same goes for people.  Many people spend all of their time on the wrapping.  They’ve got the right clothes, watch, car, hair and cellphone but spend no time on their heart, empathy, love, respect or intelligence.  They are empty eggshells.

In the world that keeps showing up on the news, we need to double down on the gifts and forget about the wrapping.  People are dying over the wrapping because we have forgotten that there are gifts within all of us.  Just remember that there is no “they”.  They can’t fix this issue because “they” don’t exist.  There is only you, me and us.  Perhaps I live a world away from the problem but the way that I treat you will make each of us try to do better.  If enough of us acts in this way then maybe we have a shot.  Give people the best version of yourself, so that they can give you theirs back.

Have a great Monday!

Don’t Marry Your F#@% Buddy

FBuddyIt’s so obvious on one level.  A spouse is someone that you are supposed to spend most of your days and the rest of your life with.  So choosing a person that offers a one dimensional relationship is absolutely ludicrous.  It would make for a very long and difficult daily road because all of the other areas of your life would suffer.  The sex would be great but what do you do with the other 23 hours 59 minutes of the day?  Most likely that extra time would be spent trying to makeshift a life with someone who should have been a guilty pleasure but has become a daily burden.

This is a description of a very extreme situation that is probably not realistic to most people.  Almost no one marries their “f#@% buddy” because it makes no sense and few of us would make that foolish decision.  The reason is that it is such a big decision that it would usually get sorted out before the cutting of the cake.  Signs would be so obvious that either self-examination or friends would intervene.  But what happens with the small things?  Marriage is a big decision or at least is should be.  The small decisions might be the ones that sneak through almost undetected.

Each of us has them, the guilty pleasures that we love probably more than we should.  Ice cream, chocolate, Youtube,  beer, physical affection and so many more are pleasureful things in their correct amounts.  However when we “marry” them and make them a central part of our existence, they wield an unbalancing power.  Just like the fictitious marriage that seemed so obviously out of place, relationships with items and experiences can create a burden in the other areas of your life.  It’s easier to dismiss because it is not a person that you need to take home with you.  It’s a thing, a moment in time that you deserve and the consequences will be dealt with later.

So now it is up to you!  Are you married to one of your “f#@% buddies”?  Then choose!  You don’t need to break it off completely (unless you want to).  The key is to put this relationship into its proper context.  See it as it really is and not let it take over.  Then you are available to marry the things and experiences that you really want!

Have a great weekend!

Back on the Horse

HorseThe average person has probably never been on a horse.  It’s not as common as it once was.  For close to a century the horse has been replaced by machines that are more predictable, reliable and economical.  The one thing that these replacement vehicles are not, is natural.  Machines tend to act like machines.  However because of our close association with them over the past century, we have begun to think in mechanical terms.  The old relationship with the horse was one that can teach us so much about our own lives.

While horses can be domestic animals, it is not their natural state.  It takes work!  Daily work is required to take a massive animal and make it ride-able.  The later in life that this training starts, the more that the horse will resist because it is set in its ways.  Work with a horse for years but then leave it alone for a few months and the effects will be noticeable.  Its natural tendency is to buck, kick and fight being mounted.  The horse is not going to be ridden without a plan and consistent action to make it possible.  It is just like life.

We’ve automated and simplified so many things that a human life may not seem very natural anymore.  Despite all of our attempts to domesticate life, it is not going to go along without a plan and consistent action.  There is no single purchase that you can make which will make the rest of your life a breeze.  Life is supposed to buck, kick and fight you at times.  It will most likely come at the times where you’ve neglected something that needed your attention because natural things always do.

So for today, get back on the horse.  Start training it again.  Be prepared to be bucked.  It’s the way it’s  supposed to be.  So enjoy it!


The Disneyfication of Hustle (or anything else)

DisneymoviesDon’t give me a hard time!  I’ve got kids!  However I wanted to draw attention to the subtle beauty of one of the aspects of Disney’s brilliance.  Almost all of Disney’s truly iconic films have a catchy tune that works its way into your brain like those bugs in “The Wrath of Khan”.  If you’re not familiar with that movie but have gone on “It’s a Small World After All” at Disney World, you know exactly what I mean.  The ability to have a song from a movie get stuck in the consciousness is priceless.  The problem is that things like “Bippity boppity boo” are not what we want to have swimming around our heads for hours.  I truly apologize if I just did that to you.

Having a thought repeat in your head thousands of times is not a bad thing, if it is the right thought.  So dust off those fairy tale theme songs and put them to a better use.  It doesn’t have to be a Disney song, anything that gets stuck in your head will work.  My personal favorite that is not Disney is “Jenny (867-5309)”.  The Disney one that I usually go to is “Hustle While You Wait” to the tune of “Whistle While You Work”.  It’s a useful one for me as my players tell me that they can’t wait for the season to start.  While the waiting is going on, they can get to work on making that season better.  That’s a thought that needs to be stuck on repeat in my players’ heads.  The Seven Dwarfs just make it easier because the tune is already implanted.

At this point, you might hate me for implanting that tune into your head.  Now the responsibility falls onto you.  If you don’t want some inane thing repeated in your brain, make it something useful.  It only becomes maddening if you don’t do anything with it.  Progress is something that we are all after.  If this silly little trick helps you make progress, then use it.  If not, then find your own silly little tricks.  The tricks only matter if they get results.  Disney is a master at making memorable movies.  This is your movie!  Make it memorable, if for no one else, for yourself!  Cheap tricks, sound planning or anything else that will get you closer to where and who you want to be.




The Full Length Mirror

The full length mirror is an enemy for a large number of people.  Its smaller cousins, then vanity and pocket mirror, are so much more popular because they only show the most important parts leaving other areas hidden or forgotten.  These partial pictures may be more popular but they may be hiding exactly what needs to be seen.

Although the full length mirror shows all of our dirty little secrets to us, it may be exactly what is needed.  A full frontal view of our best and worst parts is at least an honest appraisal of who we really are.  This may not be the picture that we want to see but it is most likely something that needs to be seen in order to move forward.  Otherwise we can continue to pretend that the problem areas aren’t there and continue to ignore that which needs the most attention.

Salisbury 1994

Yesterday Man

Yesterday man was strong, intelligent and lauded.  He could have run for days, lifted 100 pounds or more over his head and knew better than most of his contemporaries.  The unfortunate thing is that he has lost all of his powers.  In the present day, Yesterday Man is just a shadow, a myth that gets brought up from time to time.  All that he left behind was Today Man.

Today man looks a lot like Yesterday Man but not as swift and sure.  He has to grind out the problems of the day in order to build on Yesterday Man’s legacy.  The choices he makes are difficult and he cannot even be sure if they’re right.  If only Yesterday Man were here!

Today will quickly become your yesterday and that process never stops.  Although your today was built on the foundation of your yesterdays, today is the only day that you have.  Make it great, be that superhero that you’ll want to talk about in 10 years.

Darth Vader and Teddy Roosevelt

Darth-TeddyTruth is often stranger than fiction but through our fiction we often see some of our most important truths.  For me, Star Wars has been an extremely influential piece of fiction.  From the pure story-telling to the philosophical concepts explored in the movies, the stories have enriched my life in so many ways.  A few weeks ago, I made a realization that I had never considered before and I was giddy with excitement.

In the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader becomes one of the most evil people in the universe based mostly on two events: the deaths of his mother and wife.  These two losses seemingly catapult an extremely talented young man toward a path of destruction.  Even though the story of Darth Vader is completely fictitious, it is not a far stretch from reality that we see every day.  People use the events of their lives as a justification for their later choices.  The truth in the fiction of Darth Vader is that he chose to be evil in wake of what happened.  This becomes ever more evident when juxtaposed with my favorite president.

In the world of reality, Teddy Roosevelt faced the exact same circumstances.  His mother and his wife both died within a day of each other.  Given that same pair of tragedies, Roosevelt could have chosen to lament his misfortune and lash out at the world that dealt him a poor hand.  Quite the opposite, he chose to become one of our most influential leaders.  The effects of many of his policies are still felt today in the National Parks and business practices.  The key was the choice.

Many people forget that they have a choice.  Although humans can sometimes act like stimulus/response animals, choice is a power that we almost always have.  The problem comes when people assume that circumstances dictate their actions.  Your biography is not the crystal ball that shows your future.  Just because you’ve been disappointed, letdown, screwed over and depressed in the past does not mean that you need to continue along that path.  Also the fact that you’ve been successful, fortunate and lauded does not mean that you always will be.  Choices in the present will change your future much more than the circumstances of your present.  Will you choose to destroy planets or start a system of National Parks?  Only you get to choose.

At Full Stride

SquirrelRoadkill is not usually something memorable.  In fact it is usually something that we want to forget as soon as possible.  Flattened skunks or broadsided deer do not create fond memories but rather revulsion and disgusting smells.  On my latest run, I encountered this unfortunate fellow who seems to have been hit by a car at full stride while crossing the street.  I happened upon him only because I was feeling particularly winded and slowed down to walk for a moment.  After stopping just long enough to take the picture, I got back into my run with renewed vigor.  My furry little friend had reminded me of something in that instant and I knew that I had to press on.  The intriguing thing was not the cause of death but the cause of the stride.

In the very last moment of his squirrel life, he was bounding fully and it was most likely due to fear.  He had made a bad mistake to cross the road at the wrong time and paid the ultimate price for poor judgment.  For some reason in my ten seconds of looking at him, I thought of a better possibility.  What if his stride had nothing to do with the car?  What if he was racing home to a squirrel wife whom he loved desperately?  What if he had just found a new tree for his family to live in and was bounding to share the new?  What if he had found an open can of peanuts forgotten by some stupid human?  While none of these is probably accurate, they are a reminder that I needed at that moment.

We are all roadkill.  The only thing that we were guaranteed at our birth was our death.  That’s just the truth.  When I meet my end, I want to be at full stride as well but not out of fear.  I want to be so filled with life that I do not see my unfortunate birthright coming.  I do not get to choose the how, when, why or any other detail of the end.  However I do get to choose so many of those attributes right now.  I can decide to stride now rather than waiting for circumstance to force me to move.  Life should be lived with inspiration and perspiration rather than desperation and resignation.  The car is out there somewhere, what will you do before it gets here?