Freedom Founded In Benevolence

Friends gather on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris West Virginia. They’ve come to enjoy the warm sun and the cool waters. Playfully they leap into the air for the occasional game of tag and to float on the warm air as it rises and carries them to the tops of the trees. Their lives are completely devoid of aggression and malcontent. They soar on the slightest breeze because they have no burdens to hold them down.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that good will leads to a happier place in life. It is a promise made to us by God. We all have good days and bad days. There’s days when I can get triggered by the slightest little thing and before I can stop myself I’ve said or done something that I regret for weeks. And, you know what? It takes twice as much expression of good will to free me from that regret. I might feel like I was winning a debate or putting someone else in their place but the truth is that those actions become a burden almost immediately. So, if you want to know the real secret of joy and freedom it’s benevolence.

Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July is American Independence Day. It’s not just a celebration of history. It’s a celebration of the right to self governance. The right to make wrong choices and be responsible for the outcome. Our government is not the giver of rights. They are human rights that exists because people exist. Our “leaders” are our servants not our superiors. (In theory anyway.) Of course once politcs becomes involved things get muddled. Our nation was born in debate and has continued to be in debate ever since. The idea was that our government is the result of a contract between the citizens and as such has no power or authority of its own. But I digress and it’s not my intention to debate political stuff on my blog.

So, it’s time to get to point. Independence Day. We’re often guilty of the idea that it’s only about independence from mother Europe (and by extension the other places where our ancestors originated) but that’s an age old error. The most important thing the independence of the individual. I blog a lot about peaceful moments and personal growth. That’s only possible through personal independence. Personal independence is right and like all rights comes with personal responsibility. Again leaving politics aside , we often find ourselves in times of personal desperation. For some of us it’s social anxiety, for some of us it’s financial crisis and yet for some it’s something else. There’s as many reasons for “personal oppression” as there are individuals on earth. For many of us, we have forged our own chains. They’re made from self doubt and poorly made choices. Let me share something with you. You hold the keys to your own chains. The moment you decide to remove them is your first taste of freedom. It isn’t going to be easy. You’ll be at war with yourself and it will definitely take more than one battle to be completely free. But, if you’re committed to personal independence then it’s a fight worth fighting. I haven’t completely freed myself yet. But every day I gain ground. Every picture I take, every thought I share with you and every dream I have is another volley in my war for personal independence. I know that you can have this too as long as you don’t give up. Whatever chains that are binding you to today let me encourage you to begin to grind them away. Don’t give up. Keep up with it and soon they will be broken. As I celebrate American Independence Day today let me also wish you a happy Personal independence Day! I’m looking forward to seeing your fireworks soon.

If You Could Travel Time

Tonight I have a thought that I just can’t seem to suppress. A few days ago a meme came up on my Facebook feed. The meme asked what super power you would choose and one of the choices was time travel. I began to think about all the science fiction stories on t.v. and in books as well as movies and how they depicted time travel. Normally they accelerate the subject and the surrounding environment freezes. (Except for Dr. Who, he just vanishes with a psychedelic whirring noise. ) I have a slightly different concept. I think that time travel would require one to leave time-space completely and reenter at the destination point. It’s a concept that I came up with while working on a science fiction story. The complicated part would be that time isn’t really a specific quantity and destiny isn’t fixed. Our destiny is a result of our choices and our choices are influenced by our past experiences. Therefore, a time traveler who exited time-space would have to choose between infinite possible futures and perceive infinite past choices that were never made. The quote that applies is “Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.” (Which is attributed to so many people that I’m not sure who actually said it. ) The obvious temptation for our time traveler would be to go back and correct the mistakes of the past. But in doing so he would prevent the experience of future and therefore gain no wisdom. Of course being outside time-space he would have all of eternity to explore the possibilities without any effect on the present. Perhaps the lesson he would learn would be to leave well enough alone and let things happen naturally. He would learn how important his past mistakes were and why he must learn from them.

Working With Stone (And hearts of stone too)

I’ve always been interested in certain trade skills. Cutting stone is one of them. To properly cut a stone one must have to be able to read the small lines that tell you where small faults are inside the stone. Stone cutting is thought to be a very masculine endeavor. The uninitiated often has visions of the stone cutter as a muscle bound brute striking mighty blows until the stone gives way. While it takes some elbow grease to wrestle a large piece of rock into place one doesn’t have to have extreme strength. Ancient technology like A-frames or block and tackle make it much easier.

But I really want to talk to you about the actual cutting process. It’s not about strength. It’s about control. A mighty blow with Thor’s hammer would be manly for sure but it’s also going to ruin the work. The key to getting that nice straight cut is patience. It often starts with abrading a line in the place you want to cut. Sometimes you need to drill and use a wedge. Then you place your chisel on the spot and tap it with the hammer. The vibration of chisel travels into the stone weakens the spot until a crack forms.

This is also how to change a difficult situation. Or deal with a difficult personality. If your goal is to destroy a relationship then hammer away like Thor and vanquish the enemy. But keep in mind that an enemy is what you will produce. But, if that goal is to shape a relationship from raw stone then the small light taps over a long time is how it’s best done.

It’s also how to set someone free. (Including ourselves sometimes)

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

In today’s microwave world of instant gratification we’ve lost the value of accomplishment. Some of Michelangelo’s works took decades. The investment of time and imparting of life energy is what gives value to an angel shaped hunk of rock. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that don’t be surprised if instant success leaves us with a hollow victory. Accomplishment is born from the struggle. The harder the struggle is then the more satisfying the accomplishment will be. Even Michelangelo struggled. I don’t have a source but I remember one of art teachers talking about Michelangelo’s unfinished works and that how some of were abandoned because a fault formed in the wrong spot. The lesson I learned was that to become a master is to have failures and move forward anyway. If we want success then we walk away from the ruined piece with our tools and our experience and we get to work on a new piece by making those small taps in just the right place. And, we do it again and again until the angel is free.

Course Corrections

A few days ago I wrote about The Unknown Destiny. I indicated that God has a plan for our lives. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a fatalist. I do believe that God gave us the gift and the right of free will. (Which he will not violate but that’s a topic for another day. ) As beings of free will we have a great potential. . . to make mistakes. Now, there’s an endless list of errors and pitfalls that we can examine. They can all be broken down into two groups.

1. Mistakes made due to bad information or a lack of knowledge.

2. Mistakes made due to a failure to accept good information or gaining knowledge.

On my day job I often joke that erroneous was the ancient god of blunders and that any mistake on my paperwork was due to his mischief. But ultimately we all must take responsibility for our own actions.

So if mistakes can be lumped into two main categories then what about resolutions?

I say there’s two types resolutions as well.

1. Immediate & 2. Delayed.

The advantage of the immediate resolution should be obvious. The sooner an error is uncovered the less energy it takes to correct the problem.

The results of the delayed resolution then would mean expending more time and energy to bring things back into balance. But, there’s a compound problem with the delayed resolution. Human nature is , well…lazy. Because of our limited energy we tend to not want to accept a mistake that takes great effort to resolve. We ignore the problem. We misplace blame. We will do anything it takes to avoid expending the energy it takes to break down the error and start over. The whole time these errors gain more energy and momentum and become harder to resolve.

What does that have to with my photo above? Let’s take a second look at it.

It looks as though the road leads to the mountain and the sunbeam in the background. That’s because I created the illusion that it does with forced perspectives. In reality, the road curves off to the right and makes a circle back to place where I am standing with my camera. If we assumed we could follow the road and reach the mountain we would make a bad choice based on a lack of knowledge. But, if we follow the road and refused to accept truth when we reach the curve we would go around in circles until we give up on our goal or collapse from exhaustion. The sooner we accept the need for a course correction the easier it is to get to our goal.