the summit and the climb

 

You cannot get to the summit without the climb, and there is no reason to climb without the summit. Both are important. Both draw their breath from the other. But your life will be only be shaped by submitting to one of them.

Reaching the summit is an achievement. A measurable, bankable, and an undeniably great achievement. Making your climb on the other hand, is long, at times tedious, forgettable and wholeheartedly rests in the realm of possibilities.

No one can fully measure the significance of each your steps, and you will make countless steps along the way. There is no journey and no summit without any one of them. All of them matter.  They are all extremely significant.

We can’t reach the peak without the steps.  Without the ones that made us stumble.  Without the ones, we made in hesitation and later in sorrow.  The ones we were forced to take.  The ones that made us slip and fall, but we cannot forget about the ones that made us skip and jump.  The ones that made us laugh and scream in excitement.

We can’t reach the summit without any of the steps that made us embrace the journey we are on in the first place.

At the closing ceremonies of the third annual Invictus Games, hosted in Toronto recently, Prince Harry made a heartfelt address to the many wounded warriors that sat in front of him.

He told them, and I am paraphrasing, that today they reached the top of the mountain.  They have persevered, overcome, and have reached their glorious summit. They should enjoy the view. They should soak up the feeling of victory and never forget that dreams come true.

He also told them to remember that tomorrow will inevitably come. The extraordinary will once again slide back into ordinary.  Saturday night, will turn to Monday morning. Summer will become Winter.

He told them to make a plan. To decide to be great. To start a business or start a ruckus. He told them that their acts can be simple like calling a friend they haven’t seen in a while, or doing homework with their kids. He told them to support one another. To dream out loud. To work towards the next summit.

I learned much that evening.

I learned the meaning of the old cliché that life is a journey and not a destination.

I heard it so often but I never understood the meaning.

It’s the process.  The journey.  The climb.

So, enjoy all the little, seemingly unconnected moments. Embrace the insignificant little things, and quickly forget your missteps.

You have a choice to make.  You are free to either be infatuated with the mountain peak and spend your life chasing the high of another brilliant performance, or you can fall in love and cherish the friendship of the rigorous climb. 

Quite frankly, we will spend the majority of our lives walking and climbing.  We will spend most of our days, which will quickly turn into years, moving forward, marching towards the next horizon. When we get there, and we will get there, we will see a new horizon. A more glorious sunrise that we could have imagined, and we will once again continue our journey. We will take a new step.

I hope you decide to be a person of the climb and not the summit.  I hope you decide to participate and share your gifts with the rest of us because there is never a good reason why you should hide.

Don’t hide.

Fall in love with the climb. Embrace your bruises and scars. Take a step upward. Climb with confidence. Climb with meaning.

You will get to the peak of the mountain. 

I believe in you.

You will get there and for a moment, you will bask in the glory of it all.  You will feel great, but all of your memories and all of your stories that you will begin to tell, will not be about what you saw, but rather who you were with, what you overcame, and what you had to sacrifice to get there.

Learn from Prince Harry and the Wounded Warriors.

Keep climbing and encourage others along the way.

 


weekend quotable no. 40

 

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there.

Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means;

through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”

Dalai Lama XIV

 

Peace is not the absence of war.

We can never ignore or wish away any of our conflicts.  They will always be there.  There will always be a handful more tomorrow.  We will always face people who don’t like us, don’t understand us, misunderstand our intentions, loathe us, and sometimes even wish us harm, metaphorically or literally.

Knowing we will face adversity tomorrow doesn’t make it easier, it just changes our all-out sprint into a long-distance marathon.

We cannot solve conflict with more conflict.  Fight gossip with more gossip.  Maintain the same loser friends, yet expect to be changed and inspired. We cannot allow our husband or wife to put us down and abuse us, and expect them to change.

We have to use dialogue, education, and all knowledge, to pursue peace through humane ways, but we must also know when enough is enough.

We need to know when to quit.  When to walk away. And when to stay and fight.

Some things are worth fighting for.  Others are like cancer and must be cut out and destroyed.

Take heart that you will always be in battle.

It doesn’t dull the pain, it changes your strategy.

Work for peace.

Tirelessly.

And don’t let the bastards grind you down.

 


weekend quotable no. 39

 

“The Soldier above all others prays for peace,

for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear

the deepest wounds and scars of war”.

 

Douglas MacArthur

 

We all face our own individual battles and wage our own wars.  We have our own scars and injuries, but we are not equal, and some of us, struggle more than others. 

Some wounds are easy and others seem to never heal.  They become deeply rooted.  They fester and bleed.  They are stubborn and refuse to scab over.  But regardless of who we are, and where we find ourselves, deep down, we are all the same.  Like the soldier, we all pray for a long-lasting peace.

Peace at last.

We pray for happiness, health, and fulfillment, but most of all, we pray unceasingly that at the end of our life, no matter what, we will look back, and behold a life that truly mattered.

Mattered to someone.  Mattered, even if the world didn’t notice or care.

We pray we have made the world better, perhaps a little prettier, and definitely a little bit less lonesome.

If you don’t pray for peace, you probably believe that you are better than no one and that no one is better than you.  But as Bob Dylan so beautifully wrote, if you truly believe that, then you have nothing to gain and truly, nothing to lose.

A soldier bears the brunt of the pain, because of the decisions so easily made in a comfortable room, by impulsive elected officials. 

You too bear the brunt of the pain of your upbringing.  Depending on who you are, like a soldier, you bear the pain and pressure of the spurns of time.

Don’t be afraid.

All wounds heal.  All storms subside.  They all dissipate into an unforgettable sunrise.  The scars you bear don’t define you.  They only remind you of where you have been.  How valiantly you have fought.  How much you have overcome.  What an unshakable character you’ve developed.

How resilient you are.  How magnificent you’ve become.

Today is November 11th.

Let us honour the soldiers.

Pray for peace

Fight for peace.

Stand still, amidst the chaos, and be at peace.

One day.

Just over the horizon.

You will see that it was all worth it.

There is no light without sacrifice.

A candle cannot light up the world, without burning the wax.

 


a universe of possibilities

 

We can’t escape or avoid the world of judgement and measurement.  This is certainly good, in a sense, because it shows us reality. It identifies who we are and where we are. It keeps the dim lights separated from the bright lights. It allows for some of us to make French fries, while others get to perform the tedious task of brain surgery. I hear it’s tough to make really good French fries, especially without saturated fats.

Ben and Rosamund Zander identified something magical in the Art of Possibilities.

They showed me a way out.  A new way of thinking about my life, both where I have been and where I have a desire to go.  They outlined a new way of doing things. A fresh way of thinking. 

It is not a new way. It has been around for a very long time. It is open and accessible to anyone and everyone. It is free and certainly worth embracing. In short, it is the path we struggle to take, because it leads to a universe of possibilities.

The world of measurement is comfortable.  It is comfortable precisely because it is scarce and can be counted.  It is real, unavoidable, and often for these reason, very burdensome, but the splendid universe of possibilities, is not.

The universe of possibilities rests and will forever rest in our imagination, until we make it real.  Until we crawl, walk, run, and sprint towards what’s possible.  The universe of possibilities is missed by so many, because too often we are undecided, we weight our options, weighing, feel guilty, feel shame, regret, never giving life a second, or fifteenth chance. 

We refuse to give the possibility of what could be a real chance.

But the universe of countless possibilities is not a burden.  It is also not some positive, abstract, drunk, fleeting thought of fancy.  A magical land of lollipops and rainbow unicorns.  The people most invested in world of measurement, of judgement and gossip, are the ones that try to convince you otherwise.

The universe of possibilities is undefined.  It is unique to every single person.  It simply asks why not? 

It doesn’t negate or deny the reality you currently find yourself in. It will not help you pay your rent. Fix your broken marriage, or regenerate your poor, black, smoker’s lung.

It can’t give you back time.  It doesn’t make fraudulent promises.  Not does it whisper seductive jingles or offer you sure, tried, and tested short cuts.

The universe of possibilities only offers hope.  Hope that if you have faith in yourself.  If you have faith in what has not yet been written or preordained.  If you believe in freedom.  If you have love for yourself, forgiveness in your heart, and a soul open to reconciliation, the world of possibilities shows you the things that you can do, despite the things that you certainly can’t do.

It shows you that while it is important to struggle to do, it is immeasurable and infinitely more important to be.

This is a vast topic.  There are so many little nuances that need to be touched on and threaded out over time, but I made a promise to myself and to you to keep this short.

In the meantime. Keep dreaming. Strive to be better. Improve your score, your wealth, and your circle of influence.

Keep dreaming.  Keep your faith.  Keep hoping.

It is all possible. 

Two women looked out of their prison window and gazed at the world outside their reality.  One saw the stars and got lost in the infinite distance of space and possibility.  The other one saw the bars on the window, counted them, and resigned herself to remain a prisoner of her own making.

 


the world of judgement

 

In their inspirational book the Art of Possibility, Ben and Rosamund Zander speak about the world of measurement. A world we all know too well. A world that judges us and in turn is judged by us. The results are often crippling. We hide from the life we wish to live, but I wouldn’t be writing this if there was no hope. Indeed, there is an infinite universe of possibilities. 

We judge not because we are mean, but because as children, we were somewhat helpless and needed to identify, with some gusto and efficiency, the things that would help us or hurt us.  There were indeed many dangers lurking on various corners and staircases, when we were young, and our ability to measure and judge served us well by increasing our safety and preserving our security.

The problem is, as you and I grow up, less and less dangers present themselves, at least here in the free world.  As we become adults, we became capable of handling many situations, and are prepared to handle many things.  We are no longer afraid of campfire ghost stories, our school bullies, or our countless nightmares.  We became confident in navigating our way through the brave new world, but our childhood habits of judgement and measurement, are never quite abandoned, and so we continue to employ them in our service.

The world of measurement and judgement limits us.  It sentences us to repeat our past mistakes.  It forces us to do the same things, and reap the same rewards.

We become our own nightmare, our own worst critic. 

Our hearts are filled with doubts and our minds are often full of regrets. 

Full of I told you so.  I knew this would happen.  What was I thinking?  Nothing good ever happens to me.  Full of thoughts that you’re not worthy.  That you don’t deserve this. 

But who do you think you are?

Who gave you right to judge yourself?

When we attack ourselves, those closest to us are rendered helpless.  They are more than willing to spring into action when a stranger raises his fist against us, or a keyboard warrior spews garbage in our direction on Facebook.  They are rendered helpless however, when we run away and judge ourselves useless.

They become helpless to help us.  They are unable to show us who they see.   

And we are blind to their attempts anyway.

They hold part of the truth of who we are, and we need to listen and hear them out.

It’s not easy to silence the world of judgement.  It is a habit that comes easy and springs up in everything we do.  Regardless of how hard it may be, we have no choice but to fight against it.

Beautiful women hide from the world, because they have come to compare themselves to a Photoshop illusion.  They cringe and cannot accept a genuine compliment.  They are unhappy with their weight.  They are unhappy with growing older.  They are unhappy but they persist in measuring themselves against others, of judging themselves against their younger self.

It is a war they cannot win.

Young people try so hard to achieve in top marks school, and some end up depressed, burdened with ulcers, or opioid addictions.

They are so quick to struggle and fight against the world.  To tell you how unfair the whole system is, and in the same breath they accept and embrace the world of measurement.

The world of measurement says that our resources are limited.  There is not enough for everybody.  We have to hide and protect our stuff.  As Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman so beautifully puts it, “its fuck your buddy, cheat on your wife, and send your mother a mother’s day card on mother’s day”.

We measure and judge ourselves to death.

We have created a culture of death.  A ladder which keeps us from meeting and getting to know each other.  A world of doing that keeps us away from being.

You need a universe of possibility.

A place where anything is possible.  A magical land where dreams take flight.

You need hope.

You need tomorrow.

 


a small fuss about the in between

 

Our experience of living is like water, cupped in palm of our hand.  The more you try in desperation to hold onto it, the more it slips between your fingers.  Luckily, there is plenty more just below your waist.  It will never be the water you once held in your hand, but all you have to do, is dip your hand back in the ocean, and draw out some more.

To be happy, you need to come to terms with the fact that you are not in control. 

Everything is borrowed and transitory.  Short term.  A tent, not a pyramid.

And that’s a good thing. 

I’m not sure how many more heartbreaks, shootings, senseless slaps across the face, disease, or people’s brokenness, numbness, and hatred I can see and hear about.

Thankfully, we are only tiny part of the universe, and thank God, for the infinite majesty of space.  Thank God for the courage not to take ourselves too seriously. 

Thank God for rule number 6.

Our very lives depend on our heart and its health, but we have so very little to do with it.  We owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for giving us a heart, and one day in the distant or not so distant future, that heart will decide to stop.  It will all end.  But in the meantime, you and I are given the task to speed it up, or to slow it down.

I think that is what life is all about.

It’s not about being born.  It’s not about dying.  It’s what you do in between.

It’s about the speeding up and the slowing down. 

Your entire life is a collection of events and memories enthroned with a continuous wave of ups and downs.  Just like a heart monitor, monitoring your pulse and blood pressure. 

Up.  Down.  Up.  Down. 

We are unhappy on either end of the monitor.  We get uncomfortable on the down swing, and we get oh so nervous on the upswing.  We dream of things getting better, and we fear things getting worse.  It seems we love the middle.  We are most comfortable and happy, right in the very middle. 

It doesn’t matter where we are, or how long we have been there; how old we are, how smart, what race, sex, orientation, or religious affiliation. 

It doesn’t seem to matter in the least. 

We all carry with us, the blinding illusion of control.  Of mine and yours.  Of right and wrong.  Of this and that.

We are stubborn and audacious.  We demand much of life, and we speak to her like a servant.  We ask her for things, like a spoiled child, and we demand quick answers.  We stomp our feet, clap our hands, and place unyielding demands on our life.

In truth, it is life that gets to ask us questions.

How do you like the changing of the seasons?  Can you change and adapt?  How do you like the people I have placed in your path?  Can you learn and grow? 

What will you do with an irregular heart beat?  With a monarch butterfly?  The discovery of new planets?  The extinction of another species?  With a disease that strips you of your immune system? 

What will you do with a drunk and violent husband?  A cold uncaring wife?  With beautifully autistic children?  An angry sister in law?  Childish presidents?  And the sudden death of beloved celebrities?

What will you do?

What will you think, when you know you are not in control.

You weren’t here once and you won’t be here, one day.

But you are here right now.

Carpe Diem.

What do you want to do?

When you get cancer, do you want to go for a run across the country?  When you are thrown in prison for twenty-seven years, do you want to become a world leader?  When your wife leaves you, do you still want to remain in a good relationship with the mother of your children?

Stop and listen.

Y our life is not a test.  Don’t believe the false illusion of dwarf minds.

Life is not a test. 

But she asks and demands answers to many questions.

Many magnificent but often painful questions.

It all leads towards something. 

It seems to point in some benevolent direction.

Take courage that you are not in control.

Let go.  Leap forward.

You get to decide.

Decide to be live.  To answer her questions, and be ready and grateful for some more.

 


don't lose heart

 

Don’t lose heart.

Don’t give up, because you just can’t feel forward.

The mistakes or the mess that you find yourself in will feel different in the future.  Some of it you’ll forget.  Some you’ll laugh at.  Some, is probably destined to become a turning point, an opportunity, a real difference.  But right now, right here, while you’re on the verge of tears, remember that you can’t feel any of it in the distant future.  You can’t feel forward. 

You can’t see your triumphs.  You can’t glance at your regrets.  You cannot take comfort in your accomplishments.  You need something real to keep going.

But, don’t lose heart.

Perhaps you need a day to do nothing.  To think about nothing.  To feel nothing.  To accomplish absolutely nothing. 

Nothing.

Sometimes the things we plug into, the work we get involved with, multiply and wrap themselves around us, choking us, like the messy electrical cords hiding beneath our desk.  After some time, it becomes very difficult to distinguish which snake belongs to which head, and so sometimes, it is warranted, just to unplug everything.  To slow down.  To take a series of deep breaths, so the world stops spinning.  To figure out the next few steps.  A moment of clarity before we continue our journey.

So, don’t lose heart.

Perhaps you don’t need to stop, you just need a little pause.  A deep breath.  A moment to meditate on the possibility of everything that you’re doing.  A moment to think back and embrace the meaning of everything you’ve been through.

Take some time and breathe.

But don’t lose heart.

Perhaps you need to make a list that are yet undone, but call to you like a wolf in the darkness. 

You have good intentions, your tank is full of untapped motivation, but you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in the complicated mud of life. 

You feel stuck.  Going nowhere.  Working too hard, with no results. 

Make a plan.  Write it all down.  Be grateful and believe in abundance.  Break it into manageable and countable pieces.  Get up and do them.  Don’t ask why.

And don’t lose heart.

Perhaps you need a little bit of KITA.  A stern and firm kick in the ass. 

You find yourself here despite yourself.  You dream.  You plan.  You execute.  You taste success, but then something happens.  You slow down, for no good reason.  You get distracted by life.  You get derailed by various human tragedies seem to encircle your life.  You get complacent.  You get lazy.  You get tired.  You get disoriented.

So, steady your ass for an generous ass kicking, but whatever you do, don’t lose heart.

Don’t quit.

Don’t give up.

Don’t beat yourself up.

It serves no purpose.  It does very little.  It doesn’t make life any easier.

Life is tough and all those billions of commercials we have heard throughout our lives, that make promises to make things easier for us, are nothing more than a desperate lie. 

Trust yourself.

Love yourself.

Embrace those close to you.

Go make new friends.

Tell your dreams to strangers, so in their eyes you will see them for the very first time.

You’ll get your mojo back. 

You’ll inspire them. 

In turn, they’ll inspire you. 

You’ll inspire each other.

Tell them not to lose heart, and don’t lose heart yourself.

Remember, that the greatest shortcut, is the long road.  The road you decide never to leave until your reach your destination.

 


green grass and gas

 

Sometimes the grass looks a bit lusher and has a somewhat stronger hint of green, but it is always hiding on the other side.

It doesn’t matter where we are, where we go, or where we look; someone else, something else, somewhere else, seems so much better as a place to happen.

This morning I needed some gas. 

The price at the pump at my local gas station, conveniently located right outside the gym, read 115.9 cents per liter.  I have lived here for a very long time now, and I know, without question, I know, that gas prices are always cheaper here.

I looked at the gas light. 

I looked at the price. 

I thought to myself, what if today, what if I’m lucky, what if the price of gas was actually cheaper there than it is here.  I have enough fuel to get there.  I’m going to take a chance.  I am going wait and absorbed in looking at the seductive hint of lusher pastures somewhere else.

As I sit here I can see the gas pump price and its neon glow.  The price of gas is 124.9 cents per liter.  What makes me laugh though, is that, not only will I pay .09 cents more, because I deemed to know better, but because I drove, I actually need a little more gas.  Wasting it, in pursuit of a few cents of savings.

I know better, but I can’t help to laugh at myself.

I am sharing this somewhat insignificant piece of Monday trivia with you, not because I wish to complain about price of fuel, or the refining costs, or the disproportionate taxes attached to every single liter.  My intention is simple. 

You and I look for cheaper gas all the time.

When we want to call our friend on his birthday, we somehow hesitate, or get too busy.  A few days later we can’t call, because we would be embarrassed if he asked why we didn’t call him on his birthday, in the first play.  So, we play a little game, and wait for some time to go by.  We create a bit of distance, so we can save face, so we can finally call.  So, we can finally do what we should have done.  Should have done, when we should have done it.

How dreadfully complicated.

While we wait, we also often forget.  We’re not mean, we’re just a touch weak. 

Life trucks on.  New tasks present themselves.  Life gets complicated and time continues to lose those tiny little grains of sand, which we imagine we can find later.

You may do the same with your art or music.  You sit down to write a song, and by next week you are writing another, and another song.  Pretty soon, all you have, are pieces of melodies and half written ideas, that lead you back to absolutely nowhere. 

That’s what you get when you need gas but seek greener grass.

I can give you countless examples, about writing, about the perfect moment to take your wife or boyfriend on a date, to spend time with your kids, to quit your job, to retire, to see a doctor, to lose weight, to stop eating after midnight, to quit smoking, to quit drinking…

On and on it goes.

We perpetually wait for greener grass.  We get distracted by greener grass.  We spend our time looking and hoping to find a lush green field to rest out mind.

But in the end, we end up lowering our heads, cracking our wallets, and paying a little more.

We end up paying with our lives.

I am about to finish up here, and head to the gas pump.  I will pay extra.  I will consider it a tip.  An investment.  A lesson to look and find those parts of my life that require more work, more digging, and a little less navel gazing.

Do what needs to be done today.

Take comfort in staying the course.

Sometimes the best square of dirt, is the one you don’t move away from.

 


weekend quotable no. 38

 

 “Look to the future,

because that is where you’ll spend

the rest of your life”.

George Burns

 

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow.

Today.  Right now.

Right here.

Do you see the two paths that emerge in the woods?  One that is well worn and doubles back to your past, and the other one, that rough and uncertain, because it’s untrodden and leads to the future.

The past is comfortable.  It fits and suits us well.  It’s dependable.  Well worn.  Repeatable.  And this is precisely why, you need to leave it behind. 

Get a shovel.  Dig its grave.  Say a prayer and walk away.

Don’t look back in anger.

Look forward in hope.

Look to the future.

Live in the present.

Spend today, working for tomorrow.

A better tomorrow.  A genuine tomorrow. 

An unmeasurable tomorrow.  A tomorrow full of possibilities.

Don’t waste another moment crippled by fear.  Let go of your stories and invent new ones. 

It’s all invented anyway. 

Spend more time more time dreaming, a little more time doing, and a lot less time recollecting.

Take the road less traveled.

It will make all the difference.

 


weekend quotable no. 37

 

 “All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be, the blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

JRR Tolkien

 

Take heart, especially if you’re down.

Take heart because not all that is gold always glitters.  Not everything that you do may make any sense.  But a good way out is to make an actual decision.  A way out is to actually stick to a plan.  A way out is to get to work, sling that dirt, dig your ditch, and just let go. 

Let go of everything.  Turn away from everything you have done.  Close your eyes on who you think you are and where you think you are going.  Just let go.  Leap forward, and let life reveal the best direction to go.

You may feel like you’re lost, but in truth, there is nowhere you must be.  There is nowhere you must go.  There is nothing you must accomplish.  It is all imagined and you control the thermostat of your dreams. 

Being lost implies knowing how to take the certain path, but most of our happiness comes about in joyfully stumbling along.

You must let go of the world of measurement, and embrace a universe of possibilities.

Embrace what could be.  Imagine what will be.

Your mistakes probably sting a great deal.  Your failures sometimes feel like you’re really broken.  But take comfort in the thought that a fire can be awoken, with some effort, even from seemingly cold, abandoned ashes.  A light can always spring through the shadows. 

Hold on to hope. 

Don’t quit too early. 

Don’t lose heart.

You will once again be crowned a Queen.