It’s funny. As I ponder the thought of what the New Year might bring, it’s kind of this magical vortex of the unknown. Nobody knows. Okay, maybe those so-called ‘psychics’ know, but let’s be honest, they really don’t. And this can be said, because quite often you see those little shacks with the neon signs that say ‘psychic’ on them and quite often they are surrounded by a bunch of failed boarded up businesses. And if they were smart business people who could ‘see the future and know things ahead of time’ – you would think they would have known this about the all-important, ‘location, location, location’ – you don’t place your place of business in a location where you won’t get cross-traffic… right? So I always marvel at the empty lots surrounding them, wondering if they know that not everyone who drives by will be lured by the mystique of one small shack surrounded by nothingness, to even inquire within.
Anyway, that’s a whole other blog. Back to the peek at the New Year. Or more like, we can’t really peek at the New Year… I think that’s what’s interesting about it.
The earliest peek we ever get at what is coming for the New Year is things we know that are for sure coming. For instance, we know the January white sales are always going to happen for the most part, so if we need towels and sheets, we can wait til these go on sale. We may know what movies are going to be released for the New Year, or what makes and models of vehicles may be hitting the New Year, but as far as our own lives are concerned – we really have no clue.
And as I think about all the people who are book jumpers (you know the people who buy a book and then skip to the end to see how it ends, before they read to find out how it begins), the candy curious (the ones who get a knife and cut into the chocolates in the box to see what they are before they eat them), and the present peekers who sneak a peek at the presents under the Christmas tree before Christmas … it must be agonizing to approach the New Year, NOT knowing what it holds.
To me, NOT knowing is what life is all about. It’s how you handle life and all the things life throws at you. Maybe life will bring some good things, some bad things, but you can be sure that life will throw challenging things at you to test your ability to deal, your ability to cope and to see how strong you are. It is also an opportunity to see how far you’ve come in your own growth. Are you aware of what you can and can’t handle? When push comes to shove, can you ultimately step up to what life presents and handle it with grace, with love, with patience?
How we enter the New Year is just as much of a reflection of who we are as much as how we exited the previous year. And if we enter the New Year with open arms, open eyes and an open heart – I think it will be a very meaningful year, no matter what happens…. Good or bad. For even if a year is bad, if we at least learn something or cherish the good moments during this time, it will still have a positive outcome for all involved. It’s important not to drag crap from the previous year and taint your New Year with negative thoughts and energy. Otherwise, you’ll simply miss all the new stuff that comes your way in the New Year.
We are given opportunities to show up as our best selves. We are also given opportunities to become stronger, wiser and better people. Even if things do not go as planned, let’s be honest and take a good look and ask yourself… does anything always go according to plan?
Where there are tears and sorrow, there is laughter and joy. Where there is loss, there is gain in appreciation for what you have, who you are loved by and who you love, and the memories you created together. Where there is heartache or injury, there is healing. And where there is the UNKNOWN in life and the New Year, there is taking a peek … maybe not at what it holds, but more so about taking a peek at your past so you can understand how you will handle things in your future. It’s about making life situations better, connections stronger, minds and hearts more open to being peaceful and loving and creating happiness instead of drama and chaos. So let’s take a peek… into the New Year, at how we plan to be and simply live it the best we can.
From the time we are able to walk, we have a curiosity to climb. And for some the curiosity is stronger than others. Some have the motivation and instinct to climb more than others – for instance those who choose to rock climb, or climb Mount Everest. For others, the climb can be difficult – and not necessarily because they are not agile, it has more to do with the idea of being overwhelmed with such a climb.
If you’ve ever watched a determined child climb up on a counter to get to a cupboard to reach cookies that they are not supposed to eat, you know that for some, climbing is really about reward.
And that’s how we should look at climbing – for every step we take is another step toward reaching a goal, reaching a dream, reaching upward to touch faith or overcoming an obstacle.
I was in a store the other day watching a father and son argue. The son was about 12 years old. The father was arguing with his son about how he should play Guitar Hero. The son was basically arguing that he had played the game before and that he wanted the game because he liked it. The father was determined that his son forego the game as a pre-cursor to him learning to play an instrument and if he was going to learn music, he might as well learn it the ‘right way’ and take lessons.
This made me ponder the idea of the two parallel ladders of the climb. The father’s climb was more about structure, getting an early start. Perhaps he was reflecting upon his own path of regret in his childhood, or basically one of control and discipline. The son’s climb was about experimentation, baby-stepping on his ladder to enjoy the idea of the game he liked to play. What the father failed to realize was that maybe if the son enjoyed this game that maybe his son might choose to climb his ladder eventually, but was basically experimenting with music at this stage. And what the son failed to realize was that his father would be willing to pay for a ‘real’ guitar to learn on, something he wouldn’t actually have to ask for, because his father was open to the idea. The father was probably hoping his son would realize other kids would give their right arm for what was just offered. While the son wasn’t ready to take on that offering, and merely only wanted the game.
It is interesting to examine this argument. It was even more interesting to examine the two ladders each chose to climb. What was even more fascinating than that was that there was a third ladder there, one which neither father nor son chose to put a foot on… the one of understanding where the other was coming from and instead choosing to just argue and argue. In reality, both wanted something. And both were ultimately wanting a positive outcome. But neither could step outside of the argument to realize this.
And yes, there was yet a fourth ladder here – one of perspective. And this is a ladder the son will appreciate when he’s say, 30 or 40 or when his father is dead – that he had a father to spend time with, and yes, even argue with and that he had a father who wanted to go shopping in a store with him and want something more for him. And the father will step foot on this ladder when the son is older, off having his own life and realize that his son’s life is the way it is because all along, the son was a baby-stepper in his climb, taking on obstacles. He chose to explore things his way with his independent likes and dislikes, not always conforming to what his father’s ideas were.
It’s an interesting set of ladders. No ladder is right or wrong. But the ladders are there. Each chose to step on their own ladders their way.
What we need to think about with our own ladders is that for every ladder we choose to climb, there are other ladders present. Sometimes our actions will affect someone else’s ladder. Sometimes we need to look beyond our own ladder. And sometimes still, we need to be patient with ourselves and the steps we take – no matter how big or how small or even if we fall off the ladder. We need to cherish the ladder, taking steps and honor the fact that making the climb is part of life. This is how we learn about ourselves and what we’re made of. But it’s also important for us to examine that the ladder isn’t as important as the people in our lives who either are on ladders, at the bottom of ladders in the middle of ladders, stuck on their ladders or those who are rebuilding their ladders after a fire.
And no matter where we are on the ladder, if we are indeed climbing, we are living life. We don’t need to compare ourselves and our ladders to anyone else’s, nor judge others and the climb they are on. Each is for purpose. We have our own surprises at the top of our own ladders and we’ll even see surprises at the top of other’s ladders.
But regardless of where we are, we must attempt the climb. And we must keep climbing, even if it is baby-stepping it our way, our own way, to discover more along the way, as we ascend up our ladder.
One of the great gifts of the ladder is that it is there, for us to climb, when we choose as we choose and how we choose. And that is the ladder of life – growing, climbing, learning and becoming more aware, more educated so that as we look all around, the view just becomes more beautiful for us to see. Especially if we are looking at all the faces of others on their ladders and appreciate them as they are. Keep climbing.
As a child, I can remember playing a hands game “Here is the church, here is the steeple, OPEN the door and see all the people.” It was a game playing with hands and fingers.
I can also remember the game OPEN sesame. This game was not so much a game, as it was your saying “Open Sesame” and something would be behind a door.
Watching game shows on TV, like Monty Hall’s “Let’s Make A Deal” where you had to OPEN door number 1,2, or 3 were fascinating because you never knew what was behind it, and that was part of the thrill. No different than OPENing the ‘envelope’ during the Academy Awards to see who the winner might be, or OPENing presents on your birthday or Christmas, trying to OPEN your first bottle of champagne or participating in your first sports OPEN.
From the OPENing bell of the stock market to the OPENing of a Broadway play; being the first one in line when Disneyland or a bakery OPENs is also exciting.
The whole OPEN world is fun, exciting, happy, thrilling. And like an OPEN field, OPEN sky, and OPEN road, we often go through life seeing a lot of things that are OPEN, but rarely do we appreciate the idea of being OPEN, when something is closed. When things close, it has the opposite effect. When businesses close, when doors of opportunity close and when people become closed off, it’s hard to stop thinking about when things were good and things and people were OPEN.
There is a cliché “When one door closes, another one opens.” And this cliché is a true one. Most people in life, no matter how cynical seem to embrace this.
But even though the majority of people embrace the cliché, the irony is that there are more closed-minded people in this world, and to me this is sad.
You can argue with me about this, but what I am saying is true. Because if people were more OPEN-minded in this world, there would be more reasoning, more discussion, less fighting, less war, fewer conflicts, fewer problems, no racism, no sexism, no ageism, no prejudice and ….NO JUDGMENT about anyone, any size, any color, any height, any shape, any capability mentally,physically. There would be no closed-mindedness about any social class, any idea in politics, any religion.
Perhaps one day, the world will be OPEN for real… in all ways, in all perspectives. And one day, everyone, everywhere will be OPEN to PEACE and what that truly means, being OPEN to acceptance and respect for all creatures on this earth.
Have you ever heard of ‘sticking your neck out?’ A lot of people may have heard of this, and may or may not know exactly what it means or what it refers to. Usually most people assume it is to always put yourself at risk or vulnerability for ridicule, judgment and criticism. And for some reason, this has come to some sort of ‘negative’ type of reference.
My question is, why is everything viewed negatively? Can’t ‘sticking your neck out’ be looked at as courageous or brave, exercising independence and strength to have a voice and be heard?
Creatures in nature like turtles or crabs have a protective shell to stick their necks out and then quickly retreat back in, if thing seem hostile out there and not very friendly.
People really only have the option of being recluse in caveman-hermit style retreat when the going gets tough and ugly.
But why is this so?
Have we become such a judgmental society, quick to pounce on someone’s thought, viewpoint or choice?
Do others think they are superior to slander, demoralize and ridicule someone’s thought, idea or opinion, to prevent them from having the right to have one? Last I checked, everyone who has an opinion voices it. Those who take risks by stating what’s on their mind usually only get a slap on the hand, a fine and get pulled off the air by the FCC.
This is not to say, to be thoughtless, reckless and not THINK before we speak. But this is to say that very much like everyone’s personal choice to have their own ideas is okay… to have a thought or opinion is okay. To stick your neck out and support a thought or idea that jives with who you are as an individual is okay.
I think we should redefine what ‘sticking your neck out’ means. We should examine it in the same context as self-exploration and exercising thoughts, ideas and opinions, you know similar to writing a letter to the editor or to Congress. If we apply our anatomy properly, we can get a lot accomplished:
• DO – Keep our noses to the grindstone. DON’T – brown nose or put our noses where they don’t belong in other people’s personal business. • DO – Keep our eyes on the ball. DON’T – close our eyes to those in need of help. • DO – Keep our ears open to listen to people, hear what they are saying. DON’T – tune out the voices that could help us develop and grow as human kind. • And yes, DO – stick your neck out, be yourself, put your words, voice and opinion on the line for things you believe in, have a passion for and support. DON’T – retreat your neck because you’re too afraid of what other people are going to think about you for being who you are.
Afterall, if we didn’t stick our neck out to be vulnerable, to share perspectives, wouldn’t we all be ostrich, burying our heads in the sand? Who wants to live life like that?
The trees stand majestically, tall and proud. And the jungle feels like it’s growing with each footstep you put forward. The leaves of all the plant life feel as if they are exhaling their breath on your shoulders, whispering to you to keep walking into the depths of wonderment. You smell a faint floral perfume and musty wet dog scent accented with grassy/piney freshness all with one whiff.
There is a party going on and the conversation is rhythmic. Crickets contribute as the percussion, as the crashing waterfall provides a steady bass line. A myriad of birds of all breeds chirp and squawk their vocals. And mysterious slithery insects and reptiles hiss among the prominent raindrops which make their own music to polish off a Grammy award-winning soundtrack.
As you start to marvel at the beautiful hues of green glistening in the mist, your eyes fixate on the most exquisite and exotic blooms you’ve ever seen. The hypnotic flora will captivate you with salmon-pink scalloped edges, sunburst fire-orange and gold sprays of petals and gleaming white and magenta fringe.
And just as you are visually overwhelmed by the magical beauty you are imbibing with every dew drop of rain, humid breath and groovy jungle strum – it happens… THE BITE.
First it’s a pinch, then a sting, which progresses to the most progressive itch. Thirty-three bites later and two inches of blood-swelling puffer-fish appearing welts, you begin to understand the environment you were just in… someone else’s territory.
And you realize something profound: from a shark bite in the big blue ocean; a charging herd of cattle in the prairie, or yes, even 33 bites in the middle of the rainforest – you are a guest in Mother Nature’s home, which belongs to her children. And her children are skeptical of strangers entering their home.
It is here you are reminded just how small you really are. It is here you earn a newfound respect for the nature you take for granted and dare to trespass. It is also here where you learn just how much we really do need to honor the gifts we have on this Earth before they are gone.
While many of you may balk at the crusaders for our planet – until you’ve personally experienced this or any other kind of magic that intoxicates you visually, audibly and yes, spiritually in a virtual 360, , do you comprehend what people are truly fighting for. They’re fighting for YOUR right to see, hear, smell, taste and feel this all for yourself… the euphoria of everything at once, along with the residual stinging and swelling as a result of the once-in-a-lifetime event. It will make you think differently and put things in a newfound perspective.
I’ve always had respect for the planet and grew up very green in a progressive household that was green back in the 70s with the first solar panels in the neighborhood. We recycled, we conserved. But this experience gave me a deeper appreciation for every bottle, can or paper I’ve recycled, every bit of water I’ve conserved, every piece of litter I’ve ever picked up, every energy-efficient light I’ve screwed in and so forth. And still somehow, it just doesn’t seem enough. For this one opportunity to get bitten 33 times, I would say to see what I have seen, heard and what I have felt – was well worth it.
You can never underestimate the power of Mother Nature. And you can never underestimate the power that each of us have in unity to protect and preserve her and the planet.
Care for the planet, respect nature and don’t forget to grab the insect repellent.
The busier life gets, the more immersed in our daily ‘routines’ we become. And it is during this time that we forget to come up for air.
Perhaps this is a metro thing. Or maybe just a Los Angeles thing. But I’ve noticed people keep going, going and going on with their daily lives and routines to the point where everything becomes ‘automatic pilot.’
From the first coffee of the day, to the non-stop 16-18 hour days involving work hours and long commutes, to the weekends of pure vegetation into nothingness, what seems lost is the sense of community, sense of life and people’s true place in it. And while I am here to encourage life in the slow lane, this doesn’t mean that because you sit in traffic, you are getting the most out of life.
It was while watching an isolated turtle breathe, that I realized that there is a difference between choosing to come up for air and choosing to come out for a bit of rest and relaxation. The line is a fine line, but one that is distinct if you look closely.
Make no mistake – whether in a crowd of one hundred or sitting in a circle of five, one can feel alone. And sometimes when sitting all alone, you can feel as if you are in a crowd of one million and no one will leave you alone just to ‘be’ and give you the space and peace you need to gather your thoughts, to free up your mental space.
I believe it is essential to come up for air, but I also believe it is essential to come out for rest and relaxation. The difference is in your free will, and your willingness to allow and enable that time to be yours, to be pure, to be quality and to be present… emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
It’s vital to be a willing participant in life in order to fully comprehend the ultimate sense of what life is and isn’t. It’s important to get alone with your head sometimes and not have the hustle and bustle of daily life rip away at your energies and sense of self. It is in this process we learn how far we’ve come, how much we’ve grown and how much more we have yet to learn.
If we don’t take this time, we become so wrapped up in our own world, we miss the world that exists outside of ourselves, the real world going on outside our car windows and office doors.
It’s also revealing and humbling to know that for the most part, certain parts of the world live life better than we do. They understand the true meaning of life is making the most of it – good and bad and mostly WITHOUT, because they don’t need anything other than a ‘time out’ or ‘time with’ and just ‘time’ to be with themselves, and with others on their terms of enjoying life. It’s about paying attention, not just paying bills. It’s about taking stock in life and those you love, not taking stock in the stock market. It’s about enjoying a glass of wine and a sunset, instead of whining about how hot the sun is.
Most of us here in America live life backwards because we’re too busy and keep going forward. And those who keep going forward are in dire need to go backward because they’ve missed what life is truly all about.
So the next time you come up for air, or come out for rest and relaxation – no matter what, take it slowly. This isn’t a speedway. And it’s important to not become obsessed with the rat race. Because in the end you’re really only racing toward death anyway.
So if you take life slowly, not only will you savor it more and enjoy it more, but you’ll see that it’s all in how you arrive at the conclusion of what life is all about in the first place… especially if you’re in last place.