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Most of the time these days, I write about technology, efficiency, productivity, and other things that are work related.
That has not always been the case.
In my 2016 book How to Program Your Life, I largely wrote about the routines, self discipline, tools for starting a small business. I wrote primarily from instinct. I’m not a Ph.D., nor do currently hold an MBA. I have a History Degree. Shortly after finishing college, I found that it set me up for a career that would have allowed me to often ask “Hi, would you like some coffee with that?“
But in addition to writing from instinct, there was something else I used – which I argue is much, much more important.
Embedded in each and every page of the book (including the front cover image) was the message that we are only human – and belief in a Divine Source (I call him God) is most certainly the primary key to any one’s success in life. The technical details were all just fancy tools to get you where you wanted to be, to consider yourself “successful”.
I’m not expecting you to agree with me. But stay with me, even if you disagree.
Success is societally considered to be ones of material wealth, public fame, social status, access to credit, and power. While I’m no millionaire at the time of this writing, I’m thankful that I largely followed the steps in my own book, because it helped me to get a little bit of that success. I think most of us (especially in these United States) naturally crave some degree of societal success.
Yet – I’ve come to realize that there is another type of success. There’s internal freedom.
Have you ever met someone who exudes confidence, grace and humility? Just standing next to such an individual for a few minutes will give you a feeling of inner peace. Somehow, people like that are able to non-verbally commuicate that no matter what happens, it’s going to be alright. And that belief can – if you allow yourself – remain with you for hours, days or weeks at a time.
Over the course of my life thus far, I’ve had the fortune of being able to be in the presence of many of those souls – each of which I’ve tried to learn from, when able. Those souls included my Stepfather Jim Hudick – who died way too young at the age of 56. They included best friends like my little dog Star, who took a trip to the rainbow bridge in the summer 2018. They included colleagues like my friend Bob Masterson, who we lost in 2020.
It’s not always easy. Just this morning I was walking to a local diner to pick up breakfast, and started to internally complain in my mind about how so-and-so didn’t do a task correctly, and how so-and-so broke a promise he made to me, and how so-and-so is pressuring me to work on something that I am procrastinating upon. Slowly but surely, I began to feel anxiety, frustration, and admittedly – some anger.
I’m sure that you, the reader of this post – harbor some anxieties that bother you on a daily basis. Especially now. The COVID-19 deaths of 365k+ people worldwide, 100k+ in the US alone, as well as the loss of millions of jobs, income, status, social standing, and other setbacks by themselves are enough to cause years of anxiety.
Add on the tragic death of George Floyd by individual(s) who were responsible for protecting him, the subsequent riots across the United States, and current conflicts and debates about how and when reopen our country, social distancing, masks and missing stimulus checks. Tragedy after tragedy. Issue after issue. And to top it all off – our so-called world leaders say stupid things.
I too harbor these anxieties. And in the context of my walk to the diner today – I was running the risk of ruining the rest of my whole day.
A belief can start on the way to an appointment, in one’s untethered reaction toward a co-worker, in reading the latest anxiety-inducing news, reacting to others on Social Media, or even while watching a seemingly innocent TV show or video game. If allowed, it can become one’s savior, or one’s downfall.
By the time I got back to the house, I resolved to work on my perspective – lest I wanted to stay a Mr. Grumpy Pants all day long.
First, I had breakfast. (I should note that not everyone is so lucky at even this. Breakfast is something that at least 8.6% of the world doesn’t always have, due to poverty. We need to continually move toward a future that fully ends world hunger.)
Then, I called a friend. That friend is someone that I can trust to allow me to be myself. We talked for a while, laughed about a few things, and made plans to talk again.
After my conversation, I read a chapter of the first Bible that I got in 1978 from my Mom.
I also took some time to sit and contemplate.
I remembered some words of Wisdom my good friend and colleague told me this week, “When we believe something is going to happen, it brings that thing into existence.” At the time, we were talking about a project we were working on together. But belief and its cause and effect relationship with our selves can be about anything.
Believing something good can happen – is just as important (or more) as believing something bad can happen.
It’s now about 2 hours after my curmedgeonly walk, and I feel a little better. I’m writing this blog, looking out the window at a really cool tree right that sits peacefully outside my apartment, and am feeling thankful for a lot. And I’m wishing that there was some way that I could freely give this feeling to you. (This blog post is how I am attempting to do that.)
I think finding a way to freely give back peace is how peaceful souls I mentioned above go through their entire lives. It’s certainly something we should all consider as an Ideal. It certainly is not easy. Few of us hold most of the answers. Most of us can only depend on gradually finding the pieces to the puzzle, and putting them in the right places. This endeavor can take a lifetime.
One of my favorite books back in college was Candide, by Voltaire. It’s a very short book, and quite easy to read.
Candide encounters many difficulties throughout his life, and witnesses a lot of suffering. At the end of the book, he asks a wise man what we should do in the midst of all the suffering that exists in the world?
…”we must cultivate our garden“…Source: Wikipedia
Freedom is not created by accident. It’s cultivated from within like a garden, each and every moment of our lives.
The movie Patton ended with the statement “Glory — is fleeting”.
Success, honor, wealth, power can be here today, and gone tomorrow. Stated another way, what good is it to gain the whole world, but lose one’s soul in the process? Cultivate your garden.
Freedom is not created by accident. It’s a decision. Neo in the movie The Matrix described it as “Choice. The problem is choice.”
Freedom is not created by accident. But it can be created within. There are moments in time that we can latch onto in the darkest of hours. There are little glimmers of light we can move toward, in the darkest of nights. There are sounds we can seek, in the most chaotic of inner unrest.
There are souls we can save. But we first have to become free. From within.
Viktor Frankl – Holocaust survivor, Neurologist and Psychiatrist – stated in his book Man’s Search for Meaning:
Between stimulus and response there is space.Source: Wikipedia – Man’s Search for Meaning
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
I was reading about Adam and Eve this morning in the Picture Bible. One passage stood out to me. It said:
Then God said, “Let the Earth bring forth living creatures”…and animals of all kinds filled the earth. So the waters, the sky, and the earth were filled with life. To have dominion over all these things, God created the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. They were the greatest of God’s creations, for he gave them a mind to choose between good and evil, and a soul that would live forever.
What stood out to me is that the mind and the soul are not one and the same. While our souls will live forever, our minds won’t. Yet, they depend upon one another. They are not one in the same, and at times they are diametrically opposed to each other.
When issues, stresses, anxieties or even tragedies of the world come into your midst, I hope that you will find a place within you to choose freedom, peace, and good.
May your soul continue to live eternally, and may you find freedom in your mind, today and every day.
God bless you.