Main

September 14, 2008

Your Due Season

In the uplifting movie, Daddy's Little Girls, there is a preacher who inspires the lead character, played by Idris Elba, not to grow faint (of heart).

Don't Faint The lead character is a good guy who faces numerous challenges.

At left, Idris Elba as Monty in “Daddy's Little Girls.”

He has three little girls, an ex-wife with a thug drug dealer boyfriend; he served jail time for a wrongful accusation of rape and he is trying to earn enough money to own his own garage despite obstacles.

The preacher says that your “due season” is so close at hand, it's right there almost next to you. He says that the proof is that you feel like you are going to faint. And when you feel like you are going to faint — don't faint. 

It has the ring of truth to it; it's like things having to get worse before they get better. Just when you think you can't take it any more, when you have been beaten down beyond belief, that's when relief is on its way. But there are many times in life when we are all sorely tested. It's why stories like Job in the Bible have so much resonance, because this struggle remains an aspect of life that we have to go through at times to get to the “other side.” (Watch a clip of the preacher here.)

There's no sin in getting weary;
the sin is giving up, says the preacher.

Whatever trial you are going through, these words may be of comfort. Know that when you feel like you are going to faint — don't faint — and your due season is imminent. 

June 22, 2008

The Other

20th century philosopher and theologian Martin Buber wrote I and Thou, which I read and loved in college, presenting insightful thoughts on how we encounter other people (and God). He discusses empathy, seeing from the other's point of view, trying to think from the inside of another person and to get outside yourself. It made a powerful impact on me and I think about it often.

I and Thou Now, I've found another book that takes this concept into the context of romantic relationships: Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. While Mr. Chapman's book is intended for practical application (call it self help if you want) and Buber's is considered a great scholarly work, I see interesting crossover.

Five Love Languages

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Five Love Languages asserts that there are five primary ways people “speak” love and that knowing the primary way of your loved one is the key to a successful long-term relationship. Conversely, not knowing the primary love language of your mate is as frustrating and relationship killing as if you didn't speak their verbal language. The author believes that this is why so many marriages fail. It's a good metaphor.

The five primary love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation (affirming the other person's worth to you in regular simple statements)
  2. Quality Time (doing things to be together and create shared experiences)
  3. Gifts (tokens of thoughtfulness; can be free)
  4. Acts of Kindness (favors that mean much more to some people than the time they take)
  5. Physical Touch (the interaction of human touch and physical closeness)

Within each of these primary “languages” are countless “dialects,” so, for instance, if Quality Time is a person's primary mode, their preferred method of conversation could be needing to be listened to — i.e., as opposed to more active discussions. The nuances are complex but the idea is simple and powerful and explains — and could solve — a lot of relationship problems. Mr. Chapman, who is a long-time marriage counselor, says that rarely if ever do two people in a couple share the same primary love language; that is not what matters; what matters is finding out what language your loved one speaks and learning how to speak it, which will not come naturally if it isn't your primary one.

An example he gives is Bob and Tracy. Tracy likes symphonies and Bob grew up listening to country music on the radio and would be very happy never to go to a symphony in his life; he think symphonic music is elevator music. However, Tracy's primary love language is Quality Time and she loves to go to the symphony. So Bob willingly goes to the symphony throughout their marriage. Bob never learns to love the symphony, although he comes to like it more but he sure learns how to love Tracy.

I think this approach could work with friends as well as mates. Grasping how your friends are focused and learning to “speak their language” can only lead to more harmonious relationships. Only thing is it's relatively easy to figure out your mate's primary language once you think about how they've acted over the time you've known them. People you don't know as well may be harder to figure out. You can ask, though. No reason it needs to be kept a secret.

May 23, 2008

The Calling

What is your calling? Do you feel compelled to be the best tennis player, doctor, accountant, magician, scientist, artist, lawyer, crossword puzzle solver, computer programmer, dancer or expert on the effects of the same food eaten for 200 days straight? Or do you wonder if you have a calling at all?

What is your calling?

Passion, which is akin to a calling, is a fascinating thing to me. I love people who feel passionately and my gut tells me that even if a passion is fleeting, the momentum it carries will lead to good things (assuming it's not a self-destructive passion, which is a whole other direction). Where does this fire come from? And how do you honor it when you feel its call? I think one key is not being afraid to stumble because stumble you will, no matter how talented, how smart, how graceful or gifted. And in the stumbling, you will learn a lot and it will set you on your right way. I'm beginning to think that being great and failing are almost the same thing. How curious. Curious and curioser — so says Alice from Wonderland, who, as we know, had a lot on the ball.

May 7, 2008

Perseverance

Winston Churchill said that courage is the greatest virtue of all because without it, none of the others can exist. Is perseverance needed prior to courage — or perhaps courage is what allows you to persevere.

Perseverance

Motivation is a mystery even to those who are highly motivated. I love to ask people what motivates them. And do you know, even the brightest, most centered and successful people I've asked usually say, "I don't know." Then they'll think a minute and say something like, "my baby." But that's not enough of an answer for me and it isn't everyone's.

Mysteries of motivation aside, I was thinking about perseverance because I was thrilled to solve an alignment issue in my rugs website today. As an online designer, you are constantly challenged with technical anomalies, most of which are ultimately solvable but not all and often not without considerable time and sweat and multiple attempts. An odd mixture of logic, faith and stick-to-it-iveness seems to be required for success. I was thinking that this mixture is a good formula for life in general. It was so satisfying to fix this puzzle, which only appears on certain browsers (that's always the case) that it made me stop and think about what it takes to keep going with an effort that is confounding you.

I believe my mom taught me some of this stick with it stuff by her unspoken example. She was great at accepting the world's oddities without as much fuss as most people. They could make her laugh, cry or be frustrated like anyone else but she had a great way of forging forward that I think got under my skin and I am very grateful for it. I wish I could give it to every friend and every kid I see.

April 19, 2008

Happy Passover

Tonight at sundown starts the week-long celebration of Passover for those of the Jewish faith.

PassoverThrough the magic of online resources, I found the Kosher Gift Box, located in Westport, Connecticut. They offer delicious gifts for Jewish holidays (you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy them) and fun other items too, such as their Passover Box of Questions. I've been told it's a Jewish trait to question things in general; the questions in this gift box are intelligent and provocative, to take seriously or with which to have fun. Check out their chocolate-covered matzoh (currently sold out so no link!) — yummmmm. Here's wishing all my friends (and enemies too, if I have any), Jewish and of other persuasions, a great new season. May you all achieve happiness and prosper this emerging spring.

April 8, 2008

Fear or Faith — Stake Your Claim

Human / angel stories are often funny and poignant.

AngelA, the Movie

Through good luck, I found the movie, AngelA, an unusual and deeply touching, stylish flic by director Luc Besson. Highly recommended — original in approach: part film noir, science fiction, morality tale, buddy story, romance. In fact, I like it so much, I just want you to see it.

February 3, 2008

Believe.

Belief is a powerful force, right up there with love.

Believe in Yourself

I ran across The Magic of Believing today and it captured my attention. A friend and client of mine, Peppy of Peppy's Dream, just wrote in her blog on the same subject:

“…I believe in angels, in ghosts, in reincarnation, in aliens, in just about anything. I am not a cynic or a doubter. I don’t have to see, smell, hear, touch or taste something to believe it exists. I choose to believe…”

There is calm resolve in my friend's statement. Choosing to believe is half the battle, I think. More power to her and to all of you who are on the side of faith and belief.

When I was a kid, I was troubled and puzzled by two stories in the Bible about faith. One is Doubting Thomas and the other is the Prodigal Son. These are no doubt two of the most famous Biblical stories around and they have come to be my favorite stories as well. Doubting Thomas had to see Christ had risen for himself before he believed so the question is whether his faith was less solid than the others who believed as soon as they heard. The Prodigal Son is believed in by his father (and ultimately by himself), who has every reason to doubt him and his older brother doesn't get it and is jealous and mad since he was a good guy all along whereas the Prodigal Son was a screw-up.

Prodigal Sons and Doubting Thomases, my mother helped me to see, represent a huge group of people and also something that's inside each of us at times, even those with strong faith. They are human, flawed, doubting screw-ups and that doesn't mean you dismiss them. Evidence of the depth of Biblical stories lies in these tales' ability to show that while these characters are flawed, they are also great. I have a weak spot for all life's Prodigal Sons and Daughters, those who keep at it after they've messed up. We all have, each day, the ability to choose differently, to make the brave choice that we've been so afraid of. Be brave, believe against all odds and your faith will be rewarded.

March 23, 2007

What is Motivation and Where Does it Come From?

The puzzle of what motivates different people captures my imagination.

Motivation

When I ask people what motivates them, they usually answer with an unilluminating "I don't know." Illusive as it may be, people the world over are inspired to do, create and be amazing things, despite enormous obstacles and the plain old pull of lethargy.

"The Pursuit of Happyness," a movie starring Christopher Jaden Smith and Will Smith, is about the real-life story of Chris Gardner, a millionaire stockbroker who was homeless and penniless while working to get ahead. The movie is inspiring and captivating. Chris Gardner has written a memoir of the same title for those curious to hear more.

What this brings to mind for me is where motivation comes from, for any of us. Why and how can one person push and push and eventually overcome terrible adversity while another can't get moving forward? Depression and drug addiction tease the spirits of many yet some people overcome these trials also.

Witnessing people in drug recovery, I have seen lives go from one extreme to another, overcoming odds. These stories are modern-day Prodigal Son tales. I have no answers, just clues and questions. The 12-step programs have helped people where no other solutions have. I am in awe of the power of these well-thought-through systems, the components of which include honesty, open-mindedness and willingness (their acronym is HOW) as well as a sense of a power greater than oneself, unfailing group support and a focus on the moment at hand. The heart of these programs provides keys for all of us, not just those battling to overcome substance abuse.

Still, I am nagged with the question of what motivates people. Color motivates me. Music motivates some of my friends. Wanting to help people can motivate, wanting to achieve riches and other sorts of goals can move us forward. But none of these things in themselves answers the question "what is motivation and where does it come from?" It's a burning desire to overcome the odds but how can you harness it when all seems futile.

One answer is faith. One reason for the great success of the 12-step programs is that they do not require anyone to believe in a specific God, however, they maintain that a sense of oneself as a piece of a bigger puzzle is key. One simply has to see that there are powers greater than oneself to feel humble. This state of mind seems to be motivational and necessary.

Thoughts on motivation and faith to be continued…