grind it out

 

You need to grind it out.

Don’t look for a magic formula, a secret recipe, or something that you forgot or mysteriously overlooked.

I know grinding it out is not an easy proposition, and it’s not what you want to hear at this moment, but the only way out, is to grind your way through. It is exactly the kind of short cut you seek. The only true and tested way. The shortest approach to where you want to be. A breath away from the person you wish to be.

We are not talking about being involved in something toxic or grinding yourself stupid against a dead end. We are talking about your dreams. About your purpose in life.

We are talking about staying motivated when everyone who was cheering you on found something else to do. We are talking about the time when you are left alone, without any real sense of purpose or where you are, or what motivated you to be here, in the first place.

Zig Ziglar, the mystical sage of Yazoo City, Mississippi, reminds us that motivation is like bathing. It is a very good idea to do it well and to do it often.

The rest of the time you just have to grind it out.

Don’t look back at where you’ve been or the life you’ve lived. Don’t look ahead either and get discouraged by all the things still left undone.

Don’t focus on anyone who seems to be competing against you. They have their own journey. They have their own struggles. Their own challenges. So never compare yourself to anyone, and fight your feeling to quit.

Grind it out.

You’re not being asked to be successful. To win. You’re not being asked to know why and where you are going. You’re not being asked anything, except to honour your commitment to yourself, and keep digging your ditch.

Grind it out.

Don’t ask how it is going to get done. Believe that it will be done, and work so that it can get done.

Don’t measure. Don’t count. Don’t change lanes. Don’t chase butterflies or bright shiny objects. Don’t get down on yourself. Don’t scream at people. Don’t get discouraged.

Above all else, don’t give up.

Grind it out.

You see. Grinding it out means that the game is not over. Hope is not dead. Faith still contains within itself a myriad of possibilities.

Today, you feel tired and lonely. Today, you feel dejected and defeated.

You’re not wrong, that is exactly how you feel, but don’t project your feelings into the future. What you are today is not an indication of who you’re planning on becoming tomorrow.

So, grind it out.   

Pick up your pen and continue writing. Turn on your digital recorded and continue recording your song. Ask forgiveness again. Yes, again. Put down your cigarette. Stay sober for the next twenty-four hours. Go for a walk. Get back in the weight room. Leave your abusive relationship. Leave your stuff. Just go.

Grind it out.

It feels oppressive. It feels tedious. There doesn’t seem to be an end.

But there is.

You will be free. You will be stronger. You’ll reach your summit and begin the climb of another.

But not, if you don’t grind this out.

 


I hate Christmas

 

I hate Christmas.

Ok. 

I said it.

I hate the very idea of decorating our homes, with bright, shimmering lights, in the middle of Fall. Yes, Fall.

Feel free to hate me at the very core of my ignorance but I am just not ready to inundate my senses with all these magical grand illusions of twinkling lights and enchanted ferries.

I hate Christmas.

I hate many things, but I definitely hate Christmas.

I hate the fact that everything is on sale. That black Friday is upon us. That everyone is rushing around trying to buy something, anything. It seems like everyone is planning their Christmas or March Break vacations, Christmas dinners, or how to not make an ass of themselves at the office Christmas party. At least not this year. Or at least not anymore.

But for me the world got really dark. 

For me, I entered into an all-consuming period of loneliness.

I am not sure what I did to deserve becoming its lovely host, each and every year since I was a small child, but I have resigned myself not to resist anymore. Darkness has become my lovely friend.

These days, the sun rises late, and it sets far too early. The few moments of sunshine that are left, I ignore, by working in an ugly portable, away from what matters, pretending that I know something.

Please forgive me if I don’t get overly excited over tinsel and stockings. Forgive me if I don’t get overly excited to rush around, fighting for a parking spot of a crowded mall, while trying to imagine what to buy, and what joy it will be when I pay it off, a year from now, or at some point, I’m sure. I’m so grateful to the credit companies for their generosity and extended credit at this, my greatest time of need.

I’m lonely and I strangely alienated. I’m a Scrooge, devoid of all magical Holiday Spirit. Yes, I am a cancer to your glee and generosity. In November. Yes, November.  

They say that a child ends up spending less than fifteen minutes playing with their Christmas present before they get bored and look to do something else.

Fifteen minutes.

Is it worth it.

I don’t really hate Christmas.

I like it.

I just wish we were nicer to each other, especially through the dark days of November and December. I wish we didn’t pretend to care when we don’t. That we didn’t make promises, we don’t intend to keep. I wish we were a little more human. A little more lonely.

I wish we were more in touch with our loneliness.

Being lonely is not easy, but I no longer run away from its embrace.

I am lucky that I have never looked for shelter with drugs or alcohol. I don’t distract myself with binge watching television shows or get engrossed with the latest gossip on the internet. I struggle with overeating at times, that’s for sure. Food is my drug of choice. My dirty habit, but even here, I’ve managed to find a teeter totter type of balance of sorts.

We are lonely people.

Why do we treat our loneliness as a morbid debilitating disease?

Why are we not kinder to ourselves?

We are just longing for something. Searching for something. We want to know we are not alone.

At this time of year, I miss my mom and dad the most. I wonder when it will be my turn, and if I will be missed at all. I look back and smile at the silly things I’ve done and the mistakes I’ve made. I glance back at all the dreams that are still unfulfilled and most of all I long to live the rest of my days with a deeper purpose, with more meaning.

There is no reason to hate Christmas.

There is no reason to hate loneliness either.

As long as you don’t face it down alone.

 


the infinite game

 

Life is not a test.

But we often treat as one. We live our lives like a set of hurdles to overcome or a predetermined set of instructions to follow.

We are always at the ready, to study or to cheat someone or something, in order to achieve better results. We embrace the process of measurement. The feel the need to define, judge and be judged by others. We hate the very idea of infinity and more specifically, not knowing how we measure out against those we’re competing against. 

We want to win.

We want to nothing more than to declare ourselves Champions. Champions of the game of life.  Yet we are always stuck in a self-absorbed, mindless, results driven, data centered life, that all too often, leads to a burden which often consumes and makes us sick.

Life is not a test.

Life is a game.

An infinite game.

If there is a God, or even if there isn’t, all of existence and all the natural laws point to the fact that we were born to take part in everything. To do it with gusto. To live our lives and not merely exist. To become who we know we are meant to be. To be happy.

Such is goal of the infinite game.

A game we have always played, but sometimes forget that we play.

In the infinite game, there are no winners or losers, because the point of the game isn’t to separate the strong from the weak, but to spend some meaningful time together. To celebrate. To relish. To cherish. To find meaning and purpose in our lives.

You might be tired and frustrated this morning, probably because you are playing a finite game.

You’ve decided, on the advice of your guidance counsellor, that you must be someone or have something in order to be worthy, or belong.

You exist in the realm of doing, but you need to shift your energy leap into the universe of being.

The infinite game is pretty simple, although the rules themselves can become quite complex at times. But that doesn’t even matter because mistakes aren’t disastrous roadblocks, like they are in the other contest, they are simply fascinating lessons, to carry with you, in order to sharpen your skill, and become a better player.

Life is a game to be played with friends and strangers alike.

It is an infinite game precisely because it never ends. It can be played anywhere and everywhere. In all seasons, and on all budgets.

When you go to dinner with your dearest friend, for example, you certainly won’t go out, so you can become less hungry, and to continue your noble quest not to die. I think you’ll go out to share a meal together, to experience each other’s company, to laugh, or perhaps to cry, but the meal, the meal itself, is an inconsequential part of the equation.

We are funny creatures.

As finite beings who need to face our own mortality we become quite miserable when we engage in finite tasks and limited adventures. We are only happy, truly happy, when we participate in things that stretch beyond the temporal world. When we enter the real of faith, hope, and love. We are happy, when we don’t know why we are happy.

I encourage you to take a stand and decide which game you are going to play.

I strongly recommend investing more time in an infinite contest. The finite one has too many cranky, bitchy people in it, who are fighting over a very small square of space, while you have the opportunity to walk anywhere and be anything, surrounded by the luscious infinity of space.

Go out and play.

Never stop playing.

Enjoy the rehearsal.

Performance is a finite trap.

 


staying afloat in society's negative sewer system

 

Monday.

A glorious new day. A beautiful new beginning. A new promise. A possibility of a new life.

I won’t lie to you, that I don’t approach my Monday’s with a little bit of pragmatic caution, or my Friday’s with a little bit of hopeful optimism. I admit that I am as susceptible as anyone else, to be negative and pessimistic sewer system I’ve grown up in.

It’s easy.

The whole society is just a big waste disposal system. We are lucky to get to navigate it, and try to stay afloat, for as long as we can.

It’s a terrible world out there, they say.

Every newspaper and every television broadcast pontificates the coming of a terrible winter, inevitable conflict, financial ruin, and the latest thing that will inevitably kill you.

People hate Monday’s, but how can you blame them?

They begin each day by waking up their miserable bodies in alarm and grinding out through their morning, so they can show up for work, and go through the motions of efficiency.

They cope by making little, stinging, sarcastic remarks. By rolling their eyes. By complaining. By bitching and whining. They try to uplift their misery by slinging as much human excrement as they can.

And for what?

I’m not really sure.

We all seem to do it. We’ve all done it. We seem destined to continue to do it.

What a waste of a morning. What a waste of a day. What a waste of a life.

Being negative is easy. You just flow with the stream. You don’t resist. You follow blindly, bob up and down, but be prepared to shoulder the burden of the consequences.

Or you can choose to resist.

You can turn off CNN, and let world leaders handle Donald Trump. You can stop reading the daily papers, and let police officers police the streets, and let the firefighters take care of the accidents.

You can turn off the sports radio stations, and not get angry and wrapped up in the argument if Dion Phanuef is truly overpaid, and earning his keep as a top four defender.

You can turn off your television and stop going through people’s storage lockers, listening to them bitch and moan about the perfect wedding dress. You can stop watching people compete for a million dollars, through treasure hunts, and other, seemingly infinite, asinine activities.

You can choose to eat lunch on your own on occasion. Away from the gossip, the complaining, and the stench of misery and failure.

You can surround yourself with good books. You can devour great motivational or educational podcasts. You can listen to inspirational music.

You can choose to spend time with friends who don’t suck the living life out of you, and are genuinely trying to make a difference. They are trying to live meaningful lives, and don’t mind your meaningful company.

You can do a lot to resist, but the question is, do you really want to?

It won’t be easy. It will not happen in one day. It will take persistence. You will experience moments of loneliness. Periods of misunderstanding.

But it will be worth it.

The choice is yours.

Just remember.

You look pretty silly as you trade away five days of the week, for some illusion and blissful anticipation of the weekend.

In the end. You are at least guilty of some terrible math.

 


weekend quotable no. 42

 

“Today you are You,

that is truer than true.

There is no one alive,

who is Youer than You”

Dr. Seuss

 

Nobody is Youer than You!

That is because you are a special snowflake.

An unrepeatable collection of brush strokes on a canvas. An unrecorded piece of music. An unrecited poem. A light in the darkness. A flame, that is capable of brightening up the stagnant darkness of a human soul.

Before you, there was no you.

Today you are You and that is truer than true.

The world is a better place for having you in it.

Your worth is without measure. Your contribution is real.

It is impossible to count.

How do we begin to calculate the atoms that make up your body? Or begin to understand the many, subtle, hidden ways in which you shaped human history? How do we ever honour your courage, or the tenacity you show in striving to be a better person?

Don’t listen to the assholes who run their mouth with ugly sentiments. To hateful words that don’t create a mouse fart of energy.

Listen to the good Doctor.

Be a better you. A greater you. An even more majestic snowflake.

 

Today you have a chance at something totally new.

To build and imagine something really true.

This is your moment to count amongst the very few.

Because there is no one alive who is Youer than you.

 


weekend quotable no. 41

 

“I have learned over the years

that when one’s mind is made up,

this diminishes fear”.

Rosa Parks

 

Get over yourself and do it already.

Stop dreaming, reflecting, imagining, telling everyone that one day, someday, when, if, and soon.

Don’t be afraid.

Face your fears because when you are afraid, you always run and hide. You distract yourself with all kinds of work that seems important, but in the end, leaves you unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

The key for being who you wish to be is in your decision to act.

The key is your ability to dig your ditch.

You will never outrun or wish away your fear, because you will never find the perfect time or the right moment to become who you are becoming.

Fear is like cancer. It hides inside all of us. We feed it with our doubt, anger, and anxiety. We give it life by belittling ourselves and hiding from who we were meant to be.

So please, make up your mind this morning. I will do the same.

Make a concrete plan of action. Write it down. Place it on your bathroom mirror, or on the side of the fridge. Make it visible, tangible, and attainable.

Don’t think of the last step. Think of the first step and anticipate the next step.

But do make up your mind.

Get to work today.

Don’t force your fear out of your life, learn to dig your ditch, right in front of it.

Your fear will rise again.

So, will your courage.

 


life is not fair you said

 

Life is not fair, you said.

You finally stopped talking, for a moment, and you pondered the futility of your situation. You lovingly gazed into my eyes, searching for an answer, but instead you found munificent silence.

Not the, I told you so kind of silence. Nor the, I don’t know what to say, so I will just say nothing at all, kind of silence. In me, you found a compassionate, challenging, kind of silence. The kind that understands the question and sees a way out, but also knows the cost and the unavoidable price for being a human being.

Life is not fair, you said.

I agreed.

Life isn’t fair.

Being black is different than being white. Being Indigenous, at least in North America, is something completely different, all together.

Practicing and sharing your Muslim faith in the United States of America, or expressing your Christian values in Iran, let’s say, will present its own set of challenges, to say the least.

Life is not fair.

Whomever did you believe that told you otherwise?

Nothing will make the reality any easier when your child is born with cerebral palsy, or dies too prematurely. When you can’t have children at all, or find yourself in hell fighting post partem depression.

Life won’t be fair when your husband of thirty-five years, had an affair for thirteen of those seemingly precious years.

Nothing can really help you deal with the destructive reality of your brother’s gambling addiction. Or that your sister is a drunk. Or that you have an inoperable tumour.

Every stage of life, no matter who you are, or where you are, presents its own set of scrapes and struggles. I almost said problems, but they are not really problems.  They are challenges. Life is not something to conquer and overcome.  Life is something to experience and live. The struggle is the fuel. It’s not about doing, it has always been about being.

There is no point gathering wood for your fire, if you have no intention of doing something with the light.

I hope you can see that there is so many things you can do with that glorious light!

Life is not fair, you said.

And you are right.

I answered in my silence.

It is not fair, but it is still worth living.

Viktor Frankl, a beautiful man who survived the hell of Auschwitz, gave us a transformative insight about our last human freedom.

When it is all going wrong. When the pangs of hell are at your door; the attitude you take towards your unavoidable suffering or the things you cannot change, is your last and only hope. It is more powerful than you would care to believe.

It’s not easy.

You cannot measure a person’s pain or the depths of their sacrifice. You cannot count the cost or fully repay the debt you owe to those that helped you along the way. 

Life is not fair, but I believe that is whole point of it all.

Right to the end. Despite of everything. You get to choose how you feel, think, or what you want to do. Your attitude towards the unavoidable reality of your life is yours. It is magnificently placed in your hands. It doesn’t change the truth or intensity of your situation, but it does build your character, and it makes God smile.

No one will be shocked if you give up. No one will blame you if you quit. If the burden of your agony buckles you at the knees.

There is no right or wrong answer. Your life and the decisions that you make are simply beyond all measurement. No one can judgement. Not even you. In fact, there is never a right or wrong time to do anything. There is no magical place. The right advice. Pivotal insight. Maps. Guides. Badges of accomplishments or monuments of greatness.

There is no thing. Nothing. Just you and the universe that is set before you.

You are never out of chances or possibilities.

You control your last human freedom.

Life is not fair, you said.

I agreed and answered in the undeniable silence of your attitude towards the things you cannot change.

 


the glass half-full, half-empty debacle

 

The glass may be half full, but it sure as hell ain’t half empty!

Reading the Ben and Rosamund Zander incredible book, the Art of Possibility, I realized recently that this seemingly age-old example, that so clearly divides the pessimists from the optimists, is nothing more than a distraction from the real, meaningful questions.

There is a glass.

It’s half full. 

Why?  I don’t know.

You are asked to decide if the glass that you see, or metaphysically behold within your mind’s grasp, is half full or half empty.

If it is half full you are an optimist, if half empty, you are a dejected pessimist.

But let’s hold on for a moment.

Clearly there is some water in the glass and there is the glass, but how to you behold, measure, evaluate and embrace nothingness?

If you believe the glass to be half empty, you draw a line in the sand, and disappear into futility and absurdity. You place yourself on the side of something that doesn’t exist.

The same holds true for the word nothing.  The word is an illusion because it is a placemat for everything that doesn’t exist. But if it doesn’t exist, then certainly it doesn’t need a placemat, because we never need mention or think about it again.

Welcome to the linguistic cluster stank.

I think we need a better question. A better analogy and a fresh metaphor.

What if we were asked if we would bring a fish finder on our boat, while we angle our way to some Large Mouth Bass or a Muskie?

How would we answer?

If you would bring a fish finder on your boat, you are concerned with catching a big fish. You want to measure your experience.

As a sense of pride, investment, or just because you’re hungry, you will judge and evaluate your day based on what is in your belly or in your fridge.

Catch nothing, and it was a wasted trip. Catch a lot, and you will return over and over again.

If you don’t bring a fish finder, or even leave the boat at home, and simply cast your fishing rod into the lake or river, you are going to measure your experience by something else.

You are probably with someone, or are seeking peace and solitude on your own.

There is nothing to measure and judge.

Being surrounded by nature, being close to the water, enjoying your home-made sandwich, and your thermos tea, gives you validation why it is wonderful to be alive. How great it is to be human.

The same can be said of swimming.

If you are Malcolm Phelps, your goal is to swim the fastest from one end of the pool to another. You chase gold medals. You are satisfied with silver and bronze. You feel dejected if you don’t make the podium.

If you are a competitive swimmer, you judge your day by the strides you have made or lost. You base your happiness on a measureable outcome.

If you put on your board shorts on the other hand and go surfing, or you dawn a polka dot bikini, and head to the ocean for a swim, you involve yourself with something completely different.

There is nothing to accomplish by swimming in the ocean. There is nothing to do. Nothing to find. Nothing to conquer. Nothing to regret and push towards.

It’s just you and the ocean. United at last. Happy and glorious.

So, drink your glass of water because hydration is good for you.

Grab a snack and head to some water.

Stop judging your day, begin to imagine the possibilities!

 


threatened to pieces by change

 

People are often threatened by change.

The core of their being is fortified and stunted by just the idea of something new. Just watch them. Observe their eyes and their defensive posture.  Listen to what they say. Hear what they don’t say. Absorb and listen to their trembling excuses of fear.

It is always scary to look ahead, to go where you have never been. It is hard to move forward, to grow, to adapt, or transform yourself, especially when the comfort and experience of who you are, is right there, calling you back.

You don’t like who you are. Deep down, if you’re honest, you dream of being and living a more purposeful existence.  You hope for a new direction. You long for some kind of intervention, a sign in the sky, or perhaps a little push, from someone, anyone, in the right direction.  

The right direction.

But there is no right direction.

There is no such thing as the right thing to do, or right place to go, because change cannot be truly measured. It must be lived.

Success is something we are, not something we do. It cannot be measured, because our means of measurement changes with the passing of time.

Sure, you can count your money, your followers, or the square footage of your vacation property. You can count a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean anything. Through it all, you are the only constant. You are the only thing that matters. You are a person who needs to change, if you are to get to where you dream of being.

What do you dream of? Who are you? What is holding your back?

When you were young, you wanted mountains and mountains of candy. As you got older, you wanted a car, or perhaps a beautiful partner that could silence a room with his or her entrance. As you grew older still, you began to measure success by your health, the time you had to do what you wanted, and the people that gather by your side. Tomorrow, you will be different still.

Tomorrow, you won’t want the same things you wanted yesterday.  You won’t settle for yesterday, because tomorrow brings with it a new set of glorious possibilities.  Tomorrow, your very life will whisper some new possibilities of change.

The more wisdom you learn to embrace, the more you realize that life is about being, and not about doing. There is certainly a myriad of people that appear to better and more successful than you. They have more than you. They were there first. They know something. They managed to carve out their piece of the playground first.

But.

It’s not about them. It’s about you.

You are resisting your own magnificent conversion. You just won’t change. You run and hide. Choosing to be afraid of making a ruckus; of making a real difference. Whatever that difference is, you don’t have the courage to stare down your own greatness. You need to stop running away from becoming and being, who you were always meant to be.

You need to stop being threatened by change.

You refuse to let go. You refuse to embrace the temporary state of failure. You’ve been taught that failure somehow exposes who for who you are, when in fact, it is only a fleeting moment, in an unmeasurable ocean of time.

You seem somewhat arrogant.  Arrogant, to think you can learn to hammer a nail with only one, single, momentary, brilliant stroke of execution.

Let go.

Learn to hammer a lot of crooked nails.

Learn to leap.

Learn to fail and expect to fail often.

Learn to walk and dance with fear. To live and salsa with uncertainty.

Embrace change.

In the end, life is nothing but change.

 


be kind to yourself instead

 

Somewhere between love and hate is the forgotten realm of kindness.  It is an old and noble kingdom that is often ignored and definitely taken for granted.  We often pass it by, on our way to wage war with ourselves or each other. Running back and forth between loving and hating.

So be kind to yourself instead.

Sometimes love is a very tall order, and hatred just comes a little too easy, especially since we are constantly encouraged by the choir of voices on social media, spurring us on.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

We don’t have to dig trenches and embrace either extreme, and fight a battle that will ultimately end with an unavoidable stalemate.  A war that proves nothing, and inflicts much pain and destruction along the way.

So be kind to yourself.

To be honest, I experience loneliness very often. It feels very comfortable after so many years.

When I look around I get a sense from those I meet, that they don’t really see me, or even care to.  They talk at me, they see through me, as though my life didn’t really matter. I only serve a commercial purpose. I am nothing more than a cog in a progressive wheel. I am simply admired for keeping up my end of the bargain, and not being a financial burden on society.

I have a deep unquenchable desire to live my life with great meaning and I try to act with purpose every day. It’s just that the things I care deeply about and the things that trouble me, don’t interest most people. They seem more interested in making money, building a better home, and entertaining a new fashionable affair.

The things I care about trouble deeply, and cycle back to me over and over again.

I want to know for example why it is that we have to die. I want to know who I am and how to live a meaningful life. I want to know how to raise my children to be hopeful people, despite knowing that a day is coming, when I will have to say goodbye, and they will cry, like I did ten years ago. 

I think about my past and all the things that I could have done a little better but I also think of the things I have done well, and feel a sense of joy knowing that I have become who I am.

I try to be kind to myself. 

Kind, because I have done nothing wrong by being born. I am in a struggle like everyone else. I make mistakes like everyone else. I desire to know the mysteries of our existence, like everyone else.

I think we do ourselves a great injustice when loathe and hate ourselves, even a little. We have no right to be our own worst critic. We don’t even have the right to be a mild critic. We have no right to any criticism at all.

Our mandate is to love ourselves, but for right now, I will take a bit of kindness.

Kindness when I fall down and gossip. Kindness when I look at the shape of my body in the mirror and laugh at the futility of change. Kindness when I overeat. Make promises I cannot keep. When I get lazy. Angry. Get judgemental. Proud. Arrogant. Jealous.  Kindness, when ignore those that love me, and run back into the cold arms of loneliness.

We need love.

We need to fight hatred.

But first, we need a little bit of kindness.