Latest Entries »

Have you ever suspected that you’ve been laboring under a false assumption?  One of the most common of these assumptions, in my opinion, is that people must struggle in order to succeed and that the struggle itself makes us better people in the process.

There is an analogy to this paradigm in the world of wine: dry-farming.  Dry-farming is just what it sounds like: no irrigation is used so the vines must fight to survive.  According to Gregory Dal Piaz of “snooth,” ( “the struggle for survival puts stress on the vines, and stress, if you ask some folks (yours truly included) equals flavor, complexity, and balance in a wine.”  This begs the question: does stress produce the same beneficial results in people?

How many of you have ever emerged from a series of harrowing, nail-biting, nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching experiences and thought immediately afterwards, “Gee, that was terrific!  I feel completely invigorated, energized, balanced and in control of my life!  I can’t wait for the next totally horrific thing to happen!  WooHoo — bring it ON!”

Instead, when you’ve been through the wringer, don’t you usually just feel, well, like you’ve been through the wringer?  Doesn’t stress leave you feeling tired, frustrated, depressed, overwhelmed or perhaps even ill?  If you emerge from the struggle victorious you’re probably too exhausted to celebrate your success anyway.  So why does humanity persist in romanticizing struggle, stress and the battle for survival? 

Doesn’t it feel wonderful when something good happens and you didn’t even need to “do” anything to bring it to fruition?  It’s a pleasant surprise, right — like when you pull your winter coat out of storage and discover a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket.  Unless you left the money there on purpose during the last cold snap then you feel pretty good about your find, don’t you?

If I labor under the assumption that I must struggle in order to succeed then guess what: the Universe will provide me with lots and lots of opportunities to do just that — struggle, fight, scrimp, stress-out, come close to losing everything and then crawl from the wreckage … victorious?  I don’t know about you but I want to live fully, joyously and abundantly — not just barely surviving but thriving.  Unlike grape vines, human beings need irrigation so I’ll see you at the watering hole!

It’s ridiculously late or ridiculously early, depending on one’s perspective, but I’m on vacation this week so I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, which isn’t that far off.  I watched the kid’s movie Kung Fu Panda tonight and loved it so much that it inspired me to write about it.  (This will be one of very few instances where my blog will feature art work that is not mine.)

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s your typical story of an unlikely hero who saves the day.  In this particular case an untrained, overweight, noodle-making panda defeats an evil Kung Fu Master simply by being himself.  This is a powerful message to reinforce with children, who for a variety of reasons may feel depressed, disempowered and disengaged.  But I’m willing to bet, and those of you who are parents can correct me if I’m wrong, that it’s even more challenging for adults to believe that they are good enough simply because they are themselves.

We receive a constant barrage of messages from the media, colleagues, family members and friends telling us that we’re not good enough no matter what we do.  If we’re pencil-thin we’re not thin enough; if we labor eighty hours each week and get paid for half of that time we’re not working hard enough; if we’re unpartnered we’re not committed enough; if we enjoy solitude we’re not social enough; and I’m sure you can think of a million reasons why you’re not good enough so I’ll stop there.

What if each adult who is alive during this slice of time that we call the present believed with absolute certainty that they were worthy.  Period.  No clarifications or disclaimers.  We are all good enough just because we are ourselves.  How would that change, for example, the so-called economic crisis?  If everyone felt certain that they were worthy of financial abundance could there be a recession?  Wouldn’t the emotional security that accompanied such certainty render an economic crisis an impossibility?  If we all knew we were good enough then there would also be no conflicts, interpersonal or international; war would be a thing of the past.  What else might change if we operated under the assumption that every person is good enough exactly as they are — and what is keeping us from embracing that reality?  There’s no time like today to choose self-worth.  According to a character from the movie, now is a gift, which is why it’s called the present.

I was driving home from PA yesterday, where I spent the day with a dear friend who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer after surviving two bouts of the endometrial variety. Her partner, a sweetheart, has a congenital heart defect that has caused repeated heart failure and strokes. The two women have said their goodbyes on more than one occasion. I suspect that they might have lots of reasons to shake their fists at whatever form of the Divine appeals to them but instead they value life and one another in ways that are inspiring. But I digress …

… driving home from PA, I passed a giant billboard on 276 that shouted, “When You Die You WILL Meet God!” Not fearing death, I was driving far too fast to notice who sponsored the message that intruded on my peaceful musings. At first I was annoyed that people who apparently have both disposable income and a skewed sense of religious zeal chose to exercise their First Amendment right using such intrusive methods. But the more that I thought about their message the more I started to pity their very limited understanding of the human relationship with the Divine.

I find it rather sad that anyone would believe that one must die before meeting God. In my opinion, that’s a little late in the game. Most religions have some conception of a Divine/human link: humanity is created in the image of the Divine; humans contain a Divine spark; humans can access the Divine through prayer, meditation or other methods; humanity is one with the Divine; humans came from Divinity and will return to it; and some go so far as to posit that humans are Gods, whether or not they know it. Even people who label themselves atheists often experience a profound sense of awe while hiking through the Grand Canyon or walking on a glacier. In none of these scenarios must one wait until death to experience the Divine.

So, the next time that you’re tooling down the highway, I’d like you to think about the many ways that you interact with the Divine, however you conceive of it, on a daily basis. If you wait until death to meet God then you’ve missed out on life.