Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

•October 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

[This Post is written by my 16-year-old daughter, Jennifer, whose beautiful spirit never ceases to awe and inspire me.  Enjoy!!]

It has been said that, “A man’s actions are his only true belonging.”  Does this mean that one’s past defines one?  Undoubtedly, the future can be changed by past and present decisions and actions, but is that what defines mankind?  Should humanity be determined by past actions?  Why does history so often repeat itself?  And with all variables considered, can this cycle be stopped, if needed?

The ties from the past to the present are obvious and strong.  Today would not be what it is if yesterday wasn’t what it was.  But “living” in the past may give no freedom for the present.  “You can clutch to the past so tightly that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” (Jan Glidewell)  Yesterday’s slip-ups paved the ways for today’s successes.  Mistakes are beneficial and successes are to be reminisced, but today mistakes will be made, the same as yesterday. The past leaks into today, creating a blur of time.  What makes yesterday so different from today? Imagine: One learns every lesson one should, but never puts them into practice. What then is one truly learning? “The past is not dead. In fact, it is not even the past.” (William Faulkner)

As a society, people worry constantly about the future (especially women). “The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created – created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.” (John Schaar) When dreaming about the future, once always wonders how to transport oneself to their version of a perfect life. Holding on to hope of a better tomorrow drives people to make their decisions. Whether it drives one to success or to insanity is based solely on their personal situation. “When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.” (John M. Richardson, Jr.) Newton’s third law of motion states that “Every action has an equal but opposite reaction.” This law was made in the name of physics, but it also applies to life outside of the science lab. For every decision made, every chance taken, there is another. The same way a ball hits a pendulum and sends an opposite ball flying off at the same speed, the exploit of one man could easily make up the mind of another. With everything in the universe constantly moving, a thousand things at a time could help steer one through a decision. The trick is to lay down the concrete for oneself in the right direction.

When thinking of the future, the past must come into consideration, but not used to predict. If one tries to “drive a car by looking in the rearview mirror” (anonymous author), they won’t ever know where to turn correctly and will eventually crash. The only way this plan would work is if the conditions remained constant. This idea can be applied to looking toward the future based on the past. With so many actions and reactions in the world, there is no way that one’s situation will remain the same for long. The same as snowflakes, no two points in time are the same. Don’t make the mistake in believing that they ever are.

Being an unfortunate relief, the past is gone. Tomorrow is not here yet and who knows when it will be. These are truths that one comes to know early in life. People learn to take life one day at a time, the way they should. Though some dwell in the past, and some become obsessed with the future, mankind as a whole knows that today is the only day that matters. Everyone needs to let go of their constraints and inhibitions, and let the future unwind itself. Don’t focus on it too much; have faith that things will work out if you let them. People should be defined by who they are, not what they do, but should not be afraid to let the two combine. If someone doesn’t like the path they are on, it takes a few simple steps to find a new one, the hardest part of switching tracks, is letting go of old ones.

Jennifer Jackson

“How may I help?”

•February 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

My brain wakes up a half-hour before I do every day.  It starts thinking- always about me.  How can I get what I want?  What am I going to do about this ? Why am I this way?  This is the source and measure of my sickness.

“Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend on our constant thought of others and how we might help meet their needs.”                     Alcoholics Anonymous,  Chapter 2

 This simple phrase changes my outlook and gets me out of self, at least temporarily.  Sometimes that’s all it takes for me to get healthy, to stay in the now.  I finally figured out that six billion people on the planet are all doing the same thing: trying to figure out how to get what they want out of life.  Thinking about myself probably won’t inspire people, help make the world better nor make me healthier.

“Doing good to others is not a duty.  It is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness.” – Zoroaster

 I struggle with empathy.  Thinking about others is not normal for me.  Seeing things from the other person’s perspective is awkward. When I can pull it off, I have an inspired moment.  I feel better about myself, and I feel a part of the world, a part of humanity for that moment. 

“Service to others is the rent which you pay for your room here on earth” -Muhammad Ali

How many people have helped me in my life?  Parents, friends, teachers and employers come to mind immediately.  How can I pay them back?  Something happens when I realize they helped me for their own reasons- that their benevolence says more about them than it does about me.  The universe is no longer personal.  Helping others is my duty, my responsibility, the debt I pay for breathing good oxygen.

“There is no higher religion than human service.” – Woodrow Wilson

These are the days of confusing religious beliefs and human-based philosophies which seem to get, well, weirder, every day.  There is no shortage of inspirational fluff on the Internet, often coming from some 22-year-old with a brilliant career and a way with words.  Everyone, it seems, wants to boil down the information and express only the pure nuggets of truth and inspiration from the various religions.  All the chatter gives me a headache.  When I was younger, I argued every facet of religion fervently.  Now, all I really know is that I am at my best when I am of service to others.  The people who have had the greatest impression on me in my life have been servants.

“Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great” -Mark Twain

One of the great influences in my life was my Grandpa Jim. A Texan full of nearly-believable stories about his life, he seemed to have a profound effect on everyone who came near him.  As I drew closer to being an adult, I began to realize why this was: Grandpa Jim was an encourager.  Whatever harebrained notion I shared with him, he would  say something like, “I’ll bet you’d be really good at that!  You know, you’ve always had a good mind for…”.  What a gift to share with the world- to help people walk a little taller!      I dislike this quote

“Only a life lived for others is worth living.” -Albert Einstein

I have a choice each morning.  It takes no effort on my part to join the procession of petty people trying to extract their wants from others; my brain is already awake and working on that.  I have a choice to quietly think of others, to meditate on how I may be of service, to consider what I can add to the lives of those around me.  In short, I can ask, “How may I help?”

 

 

 

This post is about you!

•February 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

When you read a blog, aren’t you trying to connect, to identify, to expand your vista?  

Are you a scanner?  For me, it’s about 3-5 seconds.  If something hasn’t grabbed me by then, my eyes glaze over and I stumble on through the web before I can yawn.  I want an oddity, something inspiring and challenging I can tag and move on.  Sound familiar?  The challenge for you and me is to slow down and appreciate what we are eating, to enjoy the flavor and the experience of the meal.  Digestion takes time.

Connecting with others takes work.  As I breeze through life, the grocery clerks, baristas and gas station attendants get the same attention as a website.  Did they have a unique quip?  An engaging manner?  If not, my eyes glaze over and I stumble on through life before I can yawn.  Still waters run deep, and those wallflowers might have something to teach me.  My patience costs me in terms of personal growth and human connections in ways I may never know.

Some savor the writing.  Is this you?   Do you consciously contemplate every word,  reconsidering the more complex connundrums to assure complete comprehension before continuing?  If so, you may look back  and marvel at the amount of alliteration in the previous sentence.  I scan through it, musing silently for one-eighth of a second, but you see every literary tool.  Did you miss something?

Connecting with others takes courage.  Ignore the fascinating oddities and listen for the point.  The trees are beautiful, but there is a forest here somewhere.  Examining the form of art is simply a way of distancing yourself, whether the words are written or spoken.  Fear will keep you as a passive observer if you are not careful.  Get out there and mix it up!  Life is here to be lived!  Engage, interact and create your own art!

How you surf says a lot about how you relate to people and to the world around you.  Take a minute (eight seconds, if you are a scanner like me) and think about how you can add to your connectedness with others by changing the way you interact with the world around you.

Scotty