Archive for category Essays

As Being Comes Alive


 

As Being comes alive in me…               

…Fear and anxiety dissipate

…I feel more peace

…Every action I take has meaning

…Heaviness yields to lightness

…Clarity, simplicity, and focus become second nature

…The future is uncertain yet full of possibilities for creativity and enjoyment

…I can make every breath serve a higher purpose

BEING COMES ALIVE

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It’s Everywhere


advertising proliferatiomAs my spiritual awakening deepens, I find my perception of the world around me is shifting. I am actually seeing, feeling, and hearing things differently and reacting to external stimuli differently. I am becoming more sensitive to whatever comes to me via these five senses.

This state-of-affairs is a double-edged sword. I can appreciate and enjoy with more gusto whatever strikes me as beautiful, interesting, noble, and inspiring. I am “feeling into” the simple pleasures of ordinary life and the warmth of close personal relationships.  In general, life is steaming forward in a more serene and graceful manner.

Then we have the other side of the sword.  Whatever irritates me, irritates me more. One of these irritants is advertising.

The fact that advertisements lie is not news to anyone.  Yet, as I experience more of what is real inside me, I can feel more deeply what is false or just plain stupid outside of me.

Advertising, like the human race, is multiplying at an alarming rate. I can’t pump gas anymore without TV ads talking to me. As we speak, ads are marching across the small television screen on the back of the airplane seat in front of me. Advertising is ubiquitous. (It means “everywhere”—a good word to learn if you haven’t already). Soon, I won’t be able to go to a public bathroom without ads talking to me.

And, as my awareness deepens, it becomes funny, even hilarious, and sad, to observe how advertising warps “what is” into “something else” in a calculated effort to plant a message in my subconscious that usually has little connection to what I want or truly need.

I am literally struck dumb by the brazenness and stupidity of most ads. In my humble opinion, the award for “Most Obnoxious and Irritating Ad of the Year” goes to Dos Equis beer for their “Most Interesting Man in the World” TV commercial. If you haven’t seen this ad, do yourself a favor and keep it that way. If you have seen it, then you know what I’m talking about. I’d also like to nominate this commercial to the award for “Most Demeaning Ad to Men and Women Ever Created.”

I’m not sure how we wound up on the subject of advertising, but while we’re at it, I’d like to leave you with a question: Would ads be more effective and less irritating if they told the truth and used birth control pills?

Photo: www.atomicplum.com

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Thumbs Up


Three Days to DarknessIt’s time to blast my own horn again.

The Midwest Book Review gave “Three Days to Darkness” a “Thumbs Up.” It’s encouraging when anyone other than my wife, daughter, mother-in-law, and best-friend Joe Canzano responds positively to my novel. (My mother read half the book. She liked the writing but not the story). 

Here’s the review by Diane Donovan, Mid-West Book Review eBook reviewer:

“The magic number is three. Three days to save the world. Three people to help Darius McPherson succeed. And three important life lessons to learn in the process.

The setting is a war being planned in Heaven itself by a reluctant warrior too young to be in Heaven in the first place, and the mission involves saving humanity from its own follies: no mean assignment for a young man killed in a drive-by shooting and suddenly tasked with saving the world.

Three Days to Darkness is about magic on many levels: the incongruity of Heaven and its purposes, the absurdities of Mankind, and the passionate concerns of a boy faced with apocalypse on a scale that moves beyond singular death and into the destruction of humanity itself.

As if this wasn’t enough, add demons and a road that literally leads to Hell (albeit paved with good intentions) and you have a fast-paced thriller novel that defies the usual genre definitions of fantasy, thriller or action piece and creeps into the realm of the impossible.

Three Days to Darkness darkens rapidly as Darius investigates company clinical trials, angel operatives, and deadly courses of action, spicing his approach with a cocky blend of offense and defense that presumes a degree of training he actually lacks: “Crooking his arm, Darius lifted his hand just below chin level with all five fingers splayed. He reminded himself of David Carradine as Caine in a “Kung Fu” TV episode. A more experienced angel operative would certainly prepare to attack with “way more” subtlety, he figured.”

Doses of humor are tossed in for effective comic relief as Darius questions why a Heaven governed by the concept of free will would intervene in the affairs of man – and why it would choose to do so for one event and not another: “Darius sat perfectly still for a while with his hands in his lap before speaking again. “I’m confused,” he said with a solemn expression. “On the one hand, you say everything that happens to a man is the result of free will, and on the other hand, you send me to Earth to stop a pill from going on the market. I don’t get it.” “Good observation, Darius. It sounds like a contradiction, but it’s more like a distinction. We have to pick our fights carefully. We try not to interfere with the operation of human free will. We sat by and watched in horror, for example, when Roman soldiers crucified Christ and terrorists flew commercial airliners into the Twin Towers. But there are times when we must take action, when a worldwide catastrophe could result from human failure, to put it in a shorthand manner. We intervened during the two world wars and the Cuban Missile crisis, to cite a few recent cases. We have also been involved when the psychological, moral or spiritual evolution of the species is at risk. A literal example of such a case was our influence on the outcome of the famous ‘Scopes Trial.’”

What lessons will Darius learn in his latest incarnation as a new angel? He has only three days to absorb them – or witness the end of all days.

Three Days to Darkness is a fast-paced, vivid read that incorporates all the elements of a superior mystery, thriller, and fantasy. It’s certainly not a portrait of a predictable afterlife, a conventional Heaven, or a banal post-life mission. All these facets merge to create a uniquely involving story

blending amusing moments with engrossing encounters between disparate forces; each with their own special interests and agendas.

And Darius? He’s in it for the ride, and takes readers along with him in an unexpected journey through Heaven, Hell, and beyond.”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Problems of This World Including Coffee Machines


coffee machineMy coffee maker died yesterday. It was six months old. It died of the mechanical equivalent of a grand mal seizure or a massive heart attack, I’m not exactly sure which applies. One thing is certain; the death was premature.

For the past two years, I’ve been trying to find an upscale coffee maker to replace my old, reliable, cheap Mr. Coffee. I am in search of a more aesthetically pleasing machine that makes better coffee. I’m not talking about a ridiculously priced espresso machine. I’m talking about a good-looking machine in the neighborhood of seventy-five dollars including tax that makes yummy coffee. I don’t think that’s asking too much, especially considering the premium coffee I use. If there’s anything my daughter and I agree upon, it’s the importance of good coffee in large quantities to start the day. For the record, my wife does not drink coffee.

There are not many coffee maker brands available in retail stores.  Besides Mr. Coffee, there are only three or four other major brands on sale in major retail chains When my search began, I thought these brands represented the “best of the best” using the theory of Darwinian Economics. So far, I’ve chosen two of these brands to try with disappointing results.

I bought a sixty-nine dollar Cuisinart with high hopes. Unfortunately, I chose the color white, which turned out to be a bitch to clean. Within a few months, I grew weary of the futile struggle to keep the Cuisinart free of ugly coffee stains. Two months later, the clock broke. I was actually happy this happened. It gave me an excuse to buy another coffee maker.

I bought another Cuisinart, this time in black. It broke down nine months later. To add insult to injury, I did not notice any real difference in the quality of the coffee it made, except when I replaced the charcoal filter. The better taste lasted two or three weeks, then it went back to “ho-hum” quality. I will never again buy anything made by Cuisinart.

Due to my stubborn preference for cone-shaped filters, I was left with only one viable alternative in my price and shape range. I bought a sexy-looking Krups coffee maker. I expected the German reputation for precision and quality products to hold true for their coffee machines. As reported above, my Krups machine expired after six months. I’m sure the damn thing was made by a tragically underpaid worker half a world away from Germany. What is this world coming to?

It occurs to me that we are faced with much larger problems than poorly made coffee makers. I would gladly buy a coffee maker every six months if it helped to solve the problems in Ukraine and Iraq, for starters.

Photo: http://www.nextnature.net

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Heart Seat Share


winding corridor to my heartThis past week I attended a seminar presented by Saniel Bonder titled “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising–Activating Your Embodied Awakening, Wholeness, and Unique Purpose.” Nine people attended the five-day event at Kripalu Yoga Center in western Massachusetts. One of the exercises in the seminar is called “Heart Seat Share.” Each person in the group speaks for seven minutes about what is going on in their lives and their process of awakening with time allotted for feedback from the teacher and group members. I decided to write my heart share down and read it to the group.

Here I am.  It’s my time to share.  Please excuse me if I repeat some of the things I said in the small group.  Wait a minute.  I really don’t want to repeat myself.  Why don’t I just check in with myself to see what’s happening.  I can go deeper if I write this all down.

I imagine myself walking down a long flight of steps in my throat. I arrive on the first floor of my chest cavity.*

Leaving the first floor stairwell, I encounter a winding corridor with abrupt ups and downs spaced randomly for no apparent reason, maybe just to keep things interesting.  Fortunately, I’m walking along a single corridor with no doorways or branches where I have to choose which way to go.  I just need to put one foot in front of the other and have faith that these very same feet are taking me to a place I want to go.

Finally, I see a doorway in the distance.  The overhead lighting becomes increasingly bright as I reach my destination.  It’s a plain, wooden door, not a wrought iron gate, no carvings in the wood or lettering, not even a white coat of paint.  I wonder why the door isn’t more elaborate.  I’d certainly make it so if I were writing a story.  But this is sharing.  I don’t have to impress anyone with my incredible powers of imagination.  I simply have to say how it is.

I grab the plain brass handle on the plain wooden door, turn it, and nothing happens.  The door is firmly locked.  I knock a few times and wait.  Seconds go by and then a full minute.  No response.

“Anybody home?” I call out.

Total silence. Not even the sound of air-conditioning.

“You know, I’ve come a long way to get here.  The least you can do is answer the door.”

I’ve traveled this way many times before.  I’ve come to realize this place is the door to my heart.  No big discovery, no unique metaphor, just the plain old door to my heart.

I’ve been told by numerous teachers that someone or something dwells deep within the recesses of that heart.  I’ve always believed this to be true.  I never doubted it.  Yet here I am, standing here like an idiot, all by myself.  I’ve heard some vague rumblings from time to time from the other side of the door.  I’ve had a few inklings, maybe even heard a few burblings, but that’s about it.

“This is getting embarrassing,” I say to the door.  “I’m here in front of the class, and I need to sound halfway intelligent.  Can you please give me some material to work with?”

“Like what?” a voice says from the other side of the door in a slightly irritated tone.

I almost fall down in place.  These two words are more than I’ve heard in thirty years.  It’s a clear, unmistakable, somewhat irritated voice.  I quickly regroup before the voice loses interest.  I must take advantage of this opportunity.  I have to get right to the point.  I imagine whoever is speaking to me is quite busy.  I’m not even going to imagine if it has a shape.  I can’t risk wasting its time.

“Okay,” I begin.  “Can you tell me why we haven’t met yet?”

“It’s a very long story all having to do with you that we can’t get into now because it would exceed your share time.”

“Okay, okay.  Well, then, can you tell me when it might be possible for us to meet.”

“I really can’t believe you haven’t figured this out yet,” the voice answers wearily.  “I suppose I’ll have to spell it out for you.”

There is a long pause before the voice speaks again.

“You aren’t ready to meet me.  And PUHLEASE, don’t ask me when you’ll be ready.

Another pause.

“You’ll be ready when you’re ready.”

“I feel like I’m getting ready,” I say like a little boy holding out a shiny apple for the teacher.

“Good.  Keep it up.  Let me give you one word of advice: Patience.  Everything is timing.  Have you heard that one?”

“Of course.”

“Then practice it.

I wait for more words of wisdom.  There are none forthcoming.

“Is that it?

“Yes, David. I must say you’re doing quite nicely.  THE SUN IS ACTUALLY RISING IN YOUR HEART.  Hang in there.  You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”

*The first floor of my chest cavity is actually the highest floor in relation to my feet.  The floors numbers increase as you take each flight of stairs down, which is the opposite case in most buildings.

**The construction of an elevator is underway.  Please pardon our dust and debris while we make this a better living space for your comfort, convenience, and safety.

***Photo by http://www.thisarchitecture.com

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Weight Loss the Easy Way


Weight Loss the Easy WayThis blog started out as an imaginary discussion I had with a friend this morning while brushing my teeth.  My jovial friend, let’s call him Alfred, works out at the same gym as me.  He is about my age and, like me, is on a constant diet and exercise program.  I have noticed that neither of us has lost an ounce on this program, and I have known Alfred for more than a year.

Alfred has recently added a personal trainer to his regimen to help him lose the forty pounds of gut hanging from his waist.  I am not in such desperate shape, pun intended. I need to lose somewhere between ten and twenty pounds to look vaguely in shape again. To be REALLY in shape, as in when I met my wife more than twenty-five years ago, I’d have to lose forty pounds. Let’s not go there.

Like most diet and exercise enthusiasts, Alfred and I have managed to gain and lose the same three pounds every week. We are treading water, kidding ourselves, and persisting in our habits of eating more food than our bodies need to exist. On weekends we cheat with alcohol and sweets.

Yesterday, Alfred walks up to me while I’m peddling away on my stationary bike and says, “You need to pedal faster.  You aren’t working hard enough.”

I say: “I burn a hundred and sixty calories in a half hour.  That’s not too bad.”

Alfred says: “What if you burned three hundred calories in the same time.”

I say: “I don’t have to lose as much weight as you.”

Back to this morning.  I’m thinking about this real-life conversation and this revolutionary idea strikes me right in the kisser: “Weight Loss the Easy Way” based on personal experience.

The real-life conversation I had with Alfred changes to something like this:

Alfred, peddling twice as fast beside me on the stationary bike says:

“I’m tired of working this hard and getting nowhere.”

Before we go any further, it is important to note that Alfred always seems happy. He constantly makes jokes while pontificating about one thing or another.

“You know what your problem is,” I respond. “You’re way too happy.”

Alfred laughs, then turns serious. “You’re jealous of me. Admit it.”

“Let’s not make this personal,” I say. “I’m not thinking in small terms here. This is big. It hit me this morning. The easiest, maybe the most effective way to lose weight in a relatively short period.”

“I’ve tried those quick weight loss programs.” Alfred says. “Most of them turn out to be fake or use drugs that can kill you.”

“This is completely natural,” I say with a mysterious smile.

Alfred peddles furiously for a few minutes. I know he doesn’t want to give me the satisfaction of asking about my big idea. Finally, his curiosity overhauls his ego. “Okay, tell me about this easy weight loss idea of yours.”

“It’s really simple. Nothing works better than depression.* I lost twenty pounds in a few months. I had no appetite. It was easy.”

“You really should leave the jokes up to me,” Alfred says.

“It’s no joke. I never want to go back there, but I think depression in bite size doses can really work for people who’ve tried everything short of lap band surgery.”

“Depression is no joke, moron. Be sure not to advertise this idea of yours outside of this circle.” Alfred points to me and back to himself.

“I’m not talking about major depression, Alfie. I’m saying, like, maybe for a week every once in a while.”

“Some people eat when they get depressed.”

“Okay, so this is not for them. That can be one of the disclaimers.”

“What if you’re not good at getting depressed, like me ?”

“Think of all the things you don’t have and wish you did, like the opportunity to have sex with any woman you see as often as you’d like.  Think of every single character defect you have.  Think about having to go work for a living again.  Realize every breath you take brings you closer to death.  Stuff like that.”

Alfred’s perpetual smile turns down slightly at the corners.  “I see what you mean.”

So what do you think, man.  Is it worth trying for a week? Take a break from working so hard to be happy, or whatever it is you work at.”

“Losing weight,” Alfred reminds me.

“I think I’ll write a book titled ‘Lose Twenty Pounds the Easy Way and Have Fun Gaining It Back.’ What do you think?

“I think you’re an idiot,” Alfred says with a pat on my shoulder.  “But I still like you.”

*DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. Depression is a serious illness. If your depression persists, or you have thoughts of suicide, seek help from a licensed psychotherapist.

 

 

 

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Some Advice I Need to Follow


Enthusiasm I wrote this seven years ago.  I just updated it.

I have found one of the best ways to keep my life interesting is to make a regular practice of doing things I haven’t done before.

If I am bored, apathetic, uninspired, or generally in a rut, it is usually because I have allowed myself to become a creature of habit.   I have found the best ways to renew enthusiasm include exposure to new ideas, a new hobby, continued education, or even a new career.

We are all born with a natural curiosity to explore the world around us and the world within ourselves.  This innate curiosity is often most evident in children.  As we grow older, there is a tendency to lose touch with this curiosity as survival needs, responsibilities, and pressures to conform literally choke the life out of our thirst to know more.

Nature hates a vacuum.  If I am not moving forward, I am automatically moving backward, even though it may seem I am standing still.  Within us, there is an urge to expand.  I must make a conscious choice to move forward; to expand.  If I don’t, the default choice of moving backward and becoming smaller will automatically be engaged.

It takes an act of will to grow, to reach my highest potential.  It takes courage, determination, and perseverance to blaze my own path. I must constantly remind myself the rewards far outweigh the risks.

I must always remember Self-realization and the achievement of personal freedom require discretion, discernment, and self-examination.  I am endowed with the creativity to shape my life into the reality I carry in my heart.  The path stretches before me.  I only have to take one step at a time.

How do I begin?  I listen to my heart.  I summon the courage to follow my heart, even if it tells me things that may make no sense at first.  I live with my heart on fire as much as possible.

I am very clear about what I want now.  I am Love.  I am Peace.  I am Joyful.  I am creative in a way that benefits others.  I am Radiant.  I am having fun.

The most important thing to remember is that I am not alone.  I make an effort to connect with my Divine Self every day.  I seek the things my heart yearns for, and then prepare to receive them.

 

 

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