Monday, October 22, 2018

Where To Begin

Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams and take risks. Life is happening now.” — Paulo Coelho

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why did I wait so long to make a decision?" Or are you still in the middle of trying to make that decision, waiting for the perfect time or the perfect moment to begin?

I once read a story of a young man who had asked the philosopher Socrates how one could acquire wisdom and knowledge. "Follow me," Socrates said and led the man down to the sea. As they waded into the water, first shallow and then much deeper, Socrates grabbed the young man and held him under the water.

The young man struggled quite mightily and in due time Socrates pulled him up. The man was furious and yelled, "What are you doing?! Trying to kill me?" To which Socrates calmly said, "Absolutely not. If that was my intention, I would not have pulled you up."

"Then why did you just do that?" the young man asked.

"When you want wisdom and insight as badly as you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it," Socrates replied before turning and walking to the shore.

If we want something, of course we plan and prepare but the time must come to take action. To wait and wait and wait even further normally is the result of excuses. Excuses caused by either fear, not wanting it badly enough or a false sense of perfection.

Regardless of what is causing it, you must move forward. Start now, do not wait any further, get moving, one foot in front of the other and every other cliche you can think of. Just start moving.

So to answer the question of where to begin, is to start here and now.

Stay inspired my friends!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Victory Beyond Failure

When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.” - David Hume

There are times in history, the recent past, the present and in the coming future that arrogance places us in a precarious position. I am speaking of when we believe in the infallibility of our own successes. That what we have done is a lock solid testament to all future success.

Now I do believe a difference exists between having confidence in one's successes and exaggerated arrogance. If we have confidence in decisions we have made, in those successes based upon our actions, then of course we should be comforted in our ability to repeat it.

But arrogance brings about excessive pride or hubris which can also bring us to a downfall. In the Greek story of Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, the king tries to defy the gods but does what he warned of. In other words, he believed his "own press."

In relative recent history, after the war in the Pacific in 1945, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur was ranked alongside many of the greatest generals. He had successfully pulled off the overrunning of North Korea from the southern Korean peninsula. Yet he soon believed success was a permanent habit and made the decision to confront the Chinese only to force his troops to fight for victory from a defeating situation.

In the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, between November 27 and 13 December 13, 30,000 troops, nicknamed "The Chosin Few" found themselves surrounded and attacked by 120,000 Chinese troops. In harsh winter, mountainous conditions and surrounded, they were forced to withdraw. When asked of this, field commander Major General Oliver P. Smith remarked, "Retreat, hell! We're not retreating, we're just advancing in a different direction."

The casualties on the U.S. led UN forces numbered nearly 10,500 with reports of nearly 60,000 Chinese troops having fallen. A grim reminder of the consequences of arrogance yet the ability to also achieve some level of victory beyond the failure.

Some will argue the reasons and outcomes of the Chosin Reservoir or any other failure of a leader. But history will always be filled with generals, presidents, pastors, teachers and families where arrogance will lead us down a destructive path. It is in our ability to overcome the unfortunate decisions made by those who do not temper those decisions with confident humility.

George Orwell was quoted as saying that "...each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it." It is our own lack of humility which can drive us to follow arrogant leaders or make poor decisions.

And regardless of who our heroes or demons are today, history shows we can overcome, get through and get beyond the proclivities of arrogance. We can achieve victory in small or large measure beyond the failures which occur in our lives.

Stay inspired my friends!

Monday, October 08, 2018

Autumn Ahhs

The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools.” ― Henry Beston

We are well into the autumn season that brings with it lots of changes. The leaves begin to fade and fall from the branches. The leaf rake comes out and a battle with the wind to keep our yard looking neat fills my weekend. The cooler weather helps but this year the eighty degree temperatures seem to be holding on longer than usual.

Ahh, those autumn evenings.

I have watched many weather changes through out my years of living. While the general nature of those changes remains the same, I always seem to notice something different. And maybe it really is no different than other years, but only that I took notice. My attention was somehow captured by something different, something new to me.

Ahh, those autumn evenings.

This year the smells of autumn have captured me in remembrance of my growing up on the farm. Those days of knowing the cold winter would be upon us but before then the preparation of the hay in the barn loft, and finishing the harvest. It could be considered the end of something but I always viewed it as a beginning, a start of something new.

Ahh, those autumn evenings.

The life we live, the particulars of what is happening around us and what the future brings is what a change in seasons is to me. It might be the current politics we have, the relationship we are in, a job or one of a dozen things that puts us in a particular season of life. But those seasons change and those changes can bring great things.

Ahh, those autumn evenings.

You might be in a good season of life right now, but change is inevitable just as the changing seasons of nature are. The change does not mean it will be bad, just different, a "new normal" in your life. The change brings opportunity to improve, correct or simply adapt to. This is how life is and we need to embrace the change if only because of "ahh, those autumn evenings."

Stay inspired my friends!

Monday, October 01, 2018

Cult of Personality

The master key of knowledge is, indeed, a persistent and frequent questioning.” – Peter Abelard

Who do you look up to these days? Is it the latest reality TV series star, a super hero character from the movies, someone in our military forces or a highly viewed Twitter account?

Some would argue we live in a cult of personality period when it comes to our politics. A political "cult of personality" occurs when a political group or even individual is able to use mass media, propaganda, or other terms as defined in Wikipedia " create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise."

One can find in history a long list of people who fit this title. And I am sure there will be those who will tie this to modern day politics. And yes, I would say it has been a topic of great interest.

It is true of any personality obsession we have in our culture today.

I would say we need to question ourselves when the admiration and unrelenting support of a leader, sports, movie or other person becomes an obsession. We should question why the "cult of personality" draws us in and captivates our support. We should do so regardless of political leaning, religious belief or any other aspect of life.

Question, ask, inquire, query, yearn to know and quiz the reasons why this cult of personality has been given.

Stay inspired my friends!