Stepping Through A Gateway Into A New World

I grew up watching old black and white reruns of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. A lot of the plot was always an analogy of the cold war but there was often the idea of an alternate reality. A world that almost identical to our own only with a few key differences. Tonight I’m wondering “what if I had chosen to do X instead of Y”? Our lives are a collection of the small choices that we make on a regular basis. So what if A gateway opened in front of you? On the other side of the reality you could see all the maybes that were the options that you didn’t choose. Would you step through? Would you really want to know what you missed? And what if by choosing to do things differently you changed the here and now? Would you have the life you really wanted? And what if I told you that every grain of sand that slips through the hour glass of our lives was it’s own little gateway to change? What if you discovered you didn’t have to change everything all at once in order to effect the outcome? What if by changing where and how the next grain of sand falls just a little we could effect the overall impact on our lives and that those changes compound into a big difference?

What does it take to make these changes? I guess it’s going to depend on what you want to change. For most of us the goal is to enhance the life we have instead of trying to replace it all together. We want to learn a new skill but don’t want to pay for a class until we see if we enjoy it. So the answer is look online and I’ll bet you can find someone on YouTube or other platforms teaching for free. If the goal is to get in shape or improve overall health the answer could be a pleasant stroll at some point in day. The hard one is a change in attitude. You have to consciously decide to alter your reactions over and over throughout the whole day. But eventually something happens and the change gets easier until you’re a new person.

We don’t need Rod Sterling to open up a magical vortex into the brave new world in order change our reality. All we need to take the opportunity as it arises and commit to the action.

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.

Light And Shadow

Tonight’s image is the little foot bridge at Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge West Virginia .

How do I start this conversation? What clever words can I use to open eyes and hearts? Art is supposed to imitate life. Right? I often get a lot of positive feedback on the light in my photos and I’m always humbled by it. But the truth is that without the shadows you wouldn’t notice the light. Life is a composition consisting of ups (the light) and downs (the shadows). Art gives us the advantage of observing light and shadow from an outside perspective. But, with life we are inside the composition. During the incidents of shadow we don’t really get to observe the light. It exists just outside our perspective. But it is there and as we move on through the composition we will encounter the light as well. We will move through light and shadow in different patterns throughout our lives. It the areas of shadow that gives us an appreciation for the light and it’s the downs of life that makes the up times so special.

Just a few thoughts to keep in mind during dark days. Your life is your own composition. During the times when shadow seems to dominate, it helps me to get out and go find the light.

Here Be Dragons

Disclaimer- the later portion of this article uses the real life example of experienced Native American Alligator Wranglers. I am in no way encouraging a novice to engage in combat with a dangerous predator.

In the days before the internet I was the type of person who would spend all day in a library. I would look through the old dusty and neglected books trying to find something interesting and unique. I developed an interest for odd subjects like Ufos, cryptozoology, mythos and the legends from around the world. The heroes and heroines of the stories would always rise to the challenge. It’s overcoming the challenge that makes life interesting. We as human beings need just the right amount of struggle to make ourselves strong. We need adventure and exploration just as much as we need food,shelter, water and love. We need monsters and dragons to vanquish. Yesterday, I wrote about finding validation within yourself and the false sense of self worth based on the approval of the crowd. That sense of validation comes from slaying your own dragons and advancing to the next level. Nobody in the crowd knows what challenges you have faced. Nobody else has stood in your place and faced your dragon or felt the heat of its breath. All they know is if they were present on the day that you got final victory.

On that note I need to make a very important point. Sometimes the dragon wins. But, he can’t hold out forever. If the dragon doesn’t fall and you go home that day with your armor dented and your lance blunted it’s not over unless you give up. You overcome by repairing your arms and armor and adjusting your tactics.

The image above was taken in South Carolina at a reptile farm. The water is full of the American Alligator. Native Americans wrestled with them and still do for tourists in some places. The jaws snap like a trap and when they do the crushing force is measured in tons. And yet once the mouth is shut it can be kept closed with one hand. The savvy warrior has learned that if he can just keep the mouth from biting long enough that the beast will get tired and be slain at leisure. The warriors learned to overcome by simply not giving up.

Be Still

If you haven’t guessed by now my dear readers, I really crave quite places and time to think and reflect.

Our modern world is full of artificial concerns, pressures and deadlines . Sometimes we just want to collapse and think about nothing. The word amusement literally means to stop thinking. However, I believe it’s more fulfilling in these quiet times and places to push back those modern world concerns and contemplate deeper levels of thought. It’s not that our world suffers from too much thinking, we suffer from the lack of free thoughts.

It’s more than just learning the structured teachings of learned masters. It’s more than equations and mathematical prowess.

cogito, ergo sum ( I think, therefore I am) – René Descartes

The popular phrase was one that we learned at a very young age. I have forgotten if it was in history class or literature class. But it wasn’t until recently that I began to realize the full implications of what seems to be a simple concept.

If my thoughts are what makes me then what happens if my thoughts are not my own? What if I allowed my thoughts to be influenced by distraction from the media, or peer pressure, or any number of competing ideas? Like a virus, some ideas can come in from a outside source and replicate themselves in our hearts and minds. If our thoughts are no longer our own then we are no longer ourselves. We become a copy of whatever ideas are planted.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” – Proverbs 23:7

This is why it’s so important to be able to take time and contemplate the ideas we are exposed to. Our minds have a natural filter that must be cleaned and refreshed on a regular basis. If bad ideas are allowed to linger for too long without active examination they can be absorbed by the subconscious and work their way into our hearts.

Take charge of your quiet time and don’t get so busy that you forget to check your filters.