Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is the measure of a life well-lived?

I have lost several loved ones over the last several months, and had the privilege of officiating the funerals for my aunt and uncle, so the concepts of death and life have been weighing heavily on my mind.  All were men and women of great integrity, humility, and character, who exhibited the work ethic made famous by that “Greatest Generation”.  They all loved their families and were active in their churches.  In working to create an overarching narrative that encapsulates each person’s life, I began to wrestle with these questions:

How do you measure a life?  What is the measure of a life well-lived?

In grappling with these questions, in light of the men and women who served as heroes and role models for me, I came to this conclusion:

The measure of a man is not marked by the wealth he acquires, the possessions he accumulates, or the positions he attains.  Indeed, these are very faulty measures, measures that, in the end, leave only brokenness, ruin and regret.

No, I am convinced that the only measure by which a man or woman may be found true, the only measure that marks a life well-lived, is by how much one gives of himself, by how much he lays his life down for others.

The measure of a man is not in how many degrees one has, how rich his portfolio, how full his social calendar, how great his golf score, how impressive his business card, how extensive his library or how full his closet.

Quite simply, the measure of a man is marked by how much he loves. 

And let me, by way of the Greeks, explain what I mean and do not mean, by love.  The Greeks broke the idea of love out into four distinct words:

Storge: the love of things (baseball, Mexican food, TV shows, e.g.)
Phileo: brotherly love (love for friends, companions, etc.)
Eros: romantic or passionate love
 Agape: the love that literally shatters itself on behalf of the other, it is the love that bears all things, endures all things; suffers all things; the love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

If a man speaks multiple languages, has earned degrees from the finest institutions, has made a tidy sum playing the market, has built a comfortable life behind gated walls, donates to the finest non-profits, preaches sermons before thousands, writes best sellers, oversees million dollar budgets, and raises his children to do the same, but does not have agape, he is but a resounding bore and an empty shell.

The measure of a man, then, comes down quite simply to how much and how well he loves.  These are the lives that are straight and sound and true.  These are the men and women who leave behind families of blessing, whose children rise up and call them blessed.  These are the men whose quiver is full of children who pass on this legacy of love to their children for countless generations.

These are the men and women I was honored to know and humbled to honor.  These men and women (and many others like them in my life) were those whose lives measured true and straight by that great yardstick: the depth of their love.

My aunt and uncle had no children but treated all their nieces and nephews like we were their children and were like second mamas and daddies to us all.  Some of went on vacations with them, had sleep overs at their house and cared for them as they aged and had health issues.  It was that love, the give and take which sometimes was not easy for proud people to receive who made all of us better people.

My brother in law Doug, gave of himself so much that his health was sometimes put on the back burner while making sure everyone around him was taken care of.  That selflessness that gives so much expecting nothing in return, these are the values of a southern heritage. 

Where do we go from here?  We pick ourselves up, take a deep breath to put the wind back in our sails and we move on.  The hurt and pain remain but the motions needed to get through the days and nights are just that, motions, sometimes repetitive until the life once had is stored in a safe place and the new and different life is created from the ashes of despair.  You feel the love in your heart for those gone on ahead but the work of making a different life is upon those left behind.

I miss my friend and Brother Doug, no more golf games or having a drink together.  I miss my aunt Doris who gave me a great appreciation for waffles and what great memory recall can do for you both in work and play.  I miss my uncle Boe, whose interest in where I was traveling or what I was doing made for many good conversations.  His love of my aunt Doris showed no bound even when he could no longer care for her as his own health was declining.

These are the measure of a life well-lived.  Each of us have those we look up to as we journey through life and these are a few of mine who laughed, loved, and hopefully helped bring out the best in each of us.  Everyone is surely missed!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Meanwhile back at mamas . . .

This morning I awoke to brisk temperatures in the upper thirties with a sky that had high clouds that were going through the ever changing color palette seen most mornings if one chooses to awake to experience it.  The changes from darkness to light have always been a major part of my day as it sets the tone for what is to come.  The gradual tones from dark to gray looking through the trees or the faint glow of light on the seashore as first light takes hold of the night and forces it away can be both awe inspiring and mood setting if one chooses to participate in this daily ritual.  Even cloudy, rainy, or snowy mornings can have an impact to attitudes if one is in tune or conscious of this phenomenon.
The few high clouds changing from the gray to a soft pink then to a fiery red hue at the blueness of the morning sky took hold let me know it would be an interesting day for me and Placido Flamingo. 

Today we would be on the road traveling to see my mama who became ill last week.  I would make the trek from southern Appalachia in the foothills of the Georgia Mountains across the Piedmont of farm lands of eastern Georgia to the coast and out to the beaches in northern Florida.

I was traveling a path which parts I had not taken before while some that I had traveled in my youth have changed so much over the last forty years things were hardly recognizable to me.  The outlet malls as I crossed interstate 85 had grown into about a three square mile area of businesses catering to any wish and whim imaginable.  Gone were the mom and pop stores from so long ago replaced by the big name designers for clothing, gardening, camping, and assorted interests?

I continued my way along the four lane highway to Athens, home of the University of Georgia and the ever present Bulldawgs!  As I drove along it seemed that everything was Bulldawg.  There were several bars and restaurants that had “Bulldawg” as part of the name and the typical signs on the street next to businesses had something about the “Bulldawgs” on them.  Red and Black Liquor Store were all UGA themed businesses.  I forgot how crazy that area is about their football team since I had been gone.  I have gone from latitude 61° in the far north of Anchorage Alaska to the area where I was raised around latitude 33° and the major differences between the two.

Driving through the towns of Bishop and Nicholson there were many roadside stands selling fruits and vegetables that are common on country roads.  Odds and end stores or mini-flea markets dotted the roadside in this area.  Names like Dirt Dog manufacturing, Cabin Creek BBQ, J&J Flea market, the multiple Dollar General stores every few miles were the view on this back road today. One fruit stand had a big four foot by eight foot sign reading “PECHES” for sale.  You gotta love the south and are way with words.  Luckily peaches are out of season as I drove past or I would have been compelled to stop in to see them there peches. 

I passed a nice country home with big front yard that had a “rainbow nation” sign painted with the many colors so familiar to that lifestyle community.  It seemed out of place for a very small southern town.  A few miles down the road came across a small roadside market named Rainbow Store, I’m not sure if there was a connection between the two.  Several miles farther came across a landscape type business that had the yard statues and Gnomes all around with several bird feeders or fountains.  It also had several pink flamingos off to one corner by the fence.  Placido wanted to stop and visit but it was probably closed for the season.  Maybe a return trip is in order during the summer months.

With the coming of springtime and the drive farther south the landscape changed from brown grasses to lush green fields with the trees starting to sprout buds getting ready for summer.  I saw green, red and the pink blossoms from a Japanese cherry tree.  Traveling the back roads of Georgia kept me from the congestion of Atlanta, Macon and the medium cities along the interstate system.  Most of US441 was divided four lanes with grassy medium.  Only one stretch of about 25 miles was two-lane blacktop and it had one spot with road construction where there was one lane of travel with a pilot vehicle guiding the direction of flow.  I only had a five minute wait for the pilot vehicle but my music (Zac Brown) was going so it was not a distraction.

There was a lone fire observation tower in a field approximately a thousand feet off the road and I could see a lone person standing inside high above the surrounding trees looking for any sign of smoke or fire.  I could see in the distance probably forty miles away a mixture of white and darker gray plume of smoke from an active fire.  When I was a kid there was a tower across from my grandmother’s house in Moultrie where we would climb up and talk to the ranger stationed there.  It wore all of us kids to climb the stairs to the top of the tower but many fond memories of the view from that high above the surrounding trees and fields.  Such was life in a rural area; fire towers to climb, putting pennies on the railroad tracks so they would be flattened when the afternoon train rolled by as we waved to the engineer and conductor.

As I approached Lake Sinclair much had changed since my last visit with many new condos and buildings along the shoreline.  There were many boats on the water on this Tuesday morning making it seem like a weekend day.  I remembered water skiing on a several mile stretch from a cabin to this highway I was traveling today.  Probably boat is gone and the tiny cabin to make room for bigger and better houses than a simple old log cabin.  Progress?  I cannot say but this lake and others have made way from the small family cabins to the larger modern structures seen today.

I was headed to Dublin and Interstate 16 to go toward Savannah when I heard a horn honking and looking around me there were no other vehicles in sight.  I use a navigational aid while traveling called WAZE which gives me traffic information, directions and any police activity along the way.  There is also a “friend” section of people you may know who are also using the app.  I had forgotten about that and didn’t realize at first what the horn sound was.  I just knew I had not hit the horn on my vehicle.  My friend Mindy who lives in South Florida was driving and saw I was on so gave me a shout out and hit the honk horn button alerting me.  It took me several minutes to figure it out and I was pleasantly surprised and distracted trying to “honk” back to her.  It broke up the drive for a few minutes.

Just before arriving in Dublin on a lonely stretch of 441 thirty miles out of town there was a hitch hiker on the side of the road, thumb out with his backpack on and a small dog on a leash at his feet.  With long red hair shining in the late morning sun he was waiting for a kind soul to stop to pick both man and his dog for a ride to places I did not know.  My rig was not loaded to the max like most of my trips so I pulled over to the right side of the road, window down asking him where he was headed.  Turns out he was headed to Macon to meet up with his family who was sick and in the hospital so I told him I was going east on I-16 but would gladly take him to the westbound ramp to catch a ride from someone heading to Macon.  He was thankful, well-mannered and funny as we talked the twenty minutes to the freeway.

I stopped at Zaxby’s next to the freeway for a quick bite as I had not eaten breakfast and it was about one in the afternoon.  There was a touring man on a motorcycle parked next to me so I stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes since he seemed like my friend Mark who takes adventures on his motorcycle from time to time.  His name was Robert and he was on his way up to Asheville North Carolina to visit friends and stop by the Biltmore House Winery before returning to Savannah where he lived. 

Dublin was about half way on my trip for the day bringing me back to the interstate heading east toward Savannah and Interstate 95.  I had been listening to music and enjoying the ride when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a small silver car about a half mile back weaving its way back and forth across the lanes passing everyone traveling between 95 and 100 miles an hour.  It closed the distance so quickly that he was past me before I could think; “where’s a trooper when you need one?”  In a flash he was gone continuing to weave lane to lane passing everyone going east.  I drove for at the most five minutes when I spotted then my Waze app notified me that there was police on my side of the highway a half mile away.  I continued to close on the location given when I saw the blue strobe lights flashing and then noticed the little silver car pulled off to the side of the road.  The Nissan was sitting there with the driver waiting for the officer to write the ticket as I drove by laughing and giving him a “thumbs up” middle finger salute, lol.

I continued the sixty or seventy miles toward I-95 and as I approached the area of Fort Stewart Army Base I remembered several weeks earlier when I saw my mama on the return to Atlanta there was a speed trap set up with a trooper on the bridge with his radar unit “tagging vehicles” on the eastbound lanes with five or six trooper cars stopping those speeding and he would run across the bridge to the westbound lanes and use his radar on those vehicles with another set of troopers writing tickets in that direction. It was not worth the trouble of speeding so my speed matched the posted speed limit signs along that part of the highway.

As I was on the lookout for the previous visit speed trap I noticed once again a small silver car passing everyone at a high rate of speed.  I looked and the same Nissan sports car zoomed past me shifting lanes to go around several vehicles ahead of me.  I thought “what a dumba**” as I continued toward the turn south.  It was not long before I was notified that there were police in the area.  Sure enough there was the silver car stopped on the side of the road this time with two trooper vehicles with light flashing that had pulled him over.  If the first encounter was expensive with a fine for 95 to 100 in a seventy mph zone this one probably was going to be through the roof expensive or this clown was going to spend the night in Jail.  I’m not sure which he was given but the sad look on his face told the story of his stupidity and carelessness. 

I shortly made the turn south on I-95 and mixed in with the solid but steady flow of traffic going towards Jacksonville and points south.  It was late afternoon when I approached the Florida state line and the marshes and bridges over the many small rivers and estuaries.  The sun reflected on the water and the slight breeze kept the smoothness of the water from occurring and the little ripples making orange diamond patterns on the water.  The drive up and over the Dames Point Bridge was where the traffic started to slow down.  There was a lady stopped with a tripod camera taking pictures of the setting sun and reflections on the water.  This bridge is a cable-stayed type over the St Johns River with the main span 1,300 feet at a height of 175 feet above the water allowing cruise ships and large sea vessels to pass underneath on their way out to sea.

With traffic I slowly made my way out to Jacksonville Beach and my destination.  Meanwhile back at Mama's the porch lights on, come on in if you wanna . . . mama was glad to see me and ready for a visit and her rehabilitation.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Sunrise thoughts for today . . .

The sun will rise and set today . . . regardless of what is going on in your life.

You will go on today . . . regardless of what is happening to you, for you or around you.

These are trying times of late with more family illness to deal with, please keep us in your prayers.

You can go through your day on autopilot or you can choose to appreciate your life experience.

What will you choose today?

Today I'm choosing to be grateful . . . for every moment and every person in my life.

Everyday we have the opportunity to make this “Now” moment in our lives the best possible time as it is always fleeting and we can never get it back again.

I'm blessed because you are here with me my friends . . . on my journey.

We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and continue . . . we are Southern strong!


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

walk through the woods . . . or how I lost myself for a bit on Mount Yonah, Helen GA

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to sit down and write since I have had problems with my laptop the last couple of months. Long story I had to totally reformat everything back to the factory setting which meant losing my Microsoft Office Suite and I had no disk to reload it back on. I’ve loaded another program until I have the disc so hopefully there will be no formatting issues.

Another winter day has come and gone away in Helen I know so I decided to take a break and hike a longtime old favorite trail. It was a beautiful day with temperatures at freezing this morning but warmed into the sixties by afternoon. This beautiful rock outcropping in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains near Helen Georgia was a long ago hang out of mine in the seventies. I had the pleasure of flying a hang glider off the rocky overlook several times in my youth and have several fond memories of hiking and camping there.

Mount Yonah today still is the gateway guardian into Helen Georgia and the surrounding Sautee Nacoochee valley. The Nacoochee Valley is known for the Nacoochee Indian Mound, at the northwestern end of the valley, which was constructed between 700-1200 AD. Many tourist visiting the German Alpine village of Helen stop by to take photos of the burial mound with Mount Yonah in the background or the deer or cattle grazing in the valley.

Nearby Yonah Mountain is the site of a folktale where a beautiful Cherokee maiden named Nacoochee fell in love with the Chickasaw warrior Sautee. When their love was forbidden by the tribal elders, a war party followed the eloping lovers and threw Sautee off the mountain, with Nacoochee then jumping to her death, a Lover's Leap. Although he did not invent the legend, George Williams, the son of one of the original white settlers, popularized it in his 1871 Sketches of Travel in the Old and New World.  

Yonah is the Cherokee word for Bear. Some things have changed over the years since I last visited the mountain as the 5th Ranger Training Battalion, Ranger Training Brigade of the United States Army conducts the Mountain Phase of Ranger School on Yonah Mountain. It has also been a popular training ground for rock climbers.

There is a signed trail head from Chambers Road and an approximately 2.3 mile trail (gaining 1600 feet in elevation) leads to the summit. There are also side trails that lead to neighboring Pink Mountain.  The climb is reasonable with good shoes or boots as there are rocks, some loose all along the trail.

My trek was about three hours with several stops for a drink and to take in the views along the way. All of my previous trips were in summer with lush vegetation and trees blocking most of the views except rocky face clearings. With the Ranger activities there are two clearings for helicopter landings or rescue type missions. One is about half way up and the other LZ is at the top of the mountain.

The hike up is strenuous but worth the views from the top sides of Mount Yonah with the town of Helen to the north.

The foothill mountains to the north going into North Carolina.

South West view looking toward Cleveland, GA.

Rocky face where we took off in our hang gliders.

Placido Flamingo lost in space and thoughts on Mount Yonah.

Hiking the mountain there are many similarities to life . . . the ups and downs of our everyday existence. The forks in the road where decisions have to be made about where you want to go. The twists and turns with sharp rocks or hazards that you have to navigate your way through to keep from hurting yourself or falling down which happens more often than not in our real lives. The signs of the trail markers leading the way . . . or do we just go and find our path to the top possibly blazing through new territory or keeping to the same tried and true routes to the top?

On this day I saw only two other people who were making their way down, sitting on rocks enjoying the sun. I virtually had the whole mountain to myself, just my thoughts, my sometimes breathing sounds from a little out of shape and tired body. I’ve seen much in the wilds of Alaska but there is something comforting in being in the South once again in the foothills of the Appalachia where the cadence of speech and a laid back attitude gives sometimes much needed reminders of where we come from and where we are going.

Take time for yourself to stop, find that quiet spot and enjoy all that is around you. Listen to the birds singing in the trees, the wind whispering in the pines and be aware of your place in this sometimes trying world we live in. Be kind to one another as we all have different views, different vantage points, and information to base our thought processes on. “When you lose yourself you may just find the key to paradise!”


Friday, December 30, 2016

Life Observation # 180 . . . Opposing viewpoints

Life Observation # 180 . . . Opposing viewpoints

This year, 2016 is finally winding down and for many of us cannot wait for this one to come to a final close. It has been for many of us a trying, painful, and sad year with so many things happening to us and our families, friends and people all over the world who saw mainly the tragedies this year.  There were not many positive stories or things happening for everyone to feel good about.  The hope for better things in our lives used to be something everyone believed in and looked forward to but it seems many have given up on those attitudes and ideals.  Hopefully the New Year will bring back that feeling of renewed Hope, Abundance, and Gratefulness so lacking right now.

The election is finally over . . . the outcome only time will tell where our country will go from here . . . hopefully to a stronger nation once again.  I have friends on all sides of the political spectrum and it was an interesting exercise to see where everyone’s thought processes were going during the much too long period of the election cycle.  I saw this and thought it expressed what our freedoms are all about in this country.

“Disagreements are inevitable.  There will always be opposing viewpoints and a variety of perspectives on most subjects.  Tastes differ as well as preferences. That is why they make vanilla and chocolate and strawberry ice cream, why they build Fords and Chevys, Chryslers and Cadillacs, Hondas and Toyotas.  That is why our nation has room for Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals - and moderates.  The tension is built into our system.  It is what freedom is all about, including religious freedom.

I am fairly firm in my theological convictions, but that doesn't mean you (or anyone) must agree with me.  All this explains why we must place so much importance on leaving "wobble room" in our relationships.  One's theological persuasion may not bend, but one's involvement with others must.”  Charles R. Swindoll

We all live . . .

so make it happy and meaningful one this year!

I can only hope everyone may look forward to a positive and blessed 2017 and that the New Year brings unseen blessings and great things for you and your families this coming year.

For me, 2016 brought about much change in my life and what I believed in, on so many levels.  Some good and some not so great but through it all I can say I come to this years end a better person, stronger in many of my family ties and some I still need to work on.  I left friends and loved ones in Alaska on my journey which brought with it many changes in my life.  I connected with old friends and met new ones along the way and am thankful that I took the time to be there for family members when they needed me. 

I continue to travel Life’s Highway and look forward to its possibilities.

Have a great New Year everyone, I am truly blessed to have you as friends and family!    


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas - Life Observation # 179

Life Observation # 179 . . . Experiencing difficulties in Life

This has been a tough year for our family but we are Southern strong and look forward to a positive year in 2017. 

When you are experiencing difficulties in life and we all do from time to time I am reminded of this quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

May your holidays be filled with laughter; family; friends, and a positive attitude for all!  God Bless.


Thursday, December 08, 2016

PEACE during this holiday season!!

Pacific Coast Highway Revisited

“And as time goes by
Oh it's funny how time can make you realize
We're running out of it” – Zac Brown Band

It’s been nine months since I left Alaska and started the “recalculation” of my life and what I thought about it at that time.  With any change it starts a process of evaluation in one’s self and in the things within your universe surrounding yourself.
Mt. Hood Oregon

As time has passed by, so have things, people, mental orientations, passions and moments.   Some have devolved and then evolved into something greater.  Originally, I started this blog, “Where’s the Flamingo” to share the experiences as I traveled and also bring with it a slightly humorous effect with Placido Flamingo and his experiences along the road, my road sometimes called Life’s Highway. 
Mt. Washington, British Columbia

But, as I have traveled, a more fulfilling purpose has evolved.  So now it isn’t just the experiences I have seen along the way, it is now more of those experiences that feed the longing of a soul for peace through expression.  I’ve never been one to just focus singularly on things, things get old.  They disintegrate. However, experiences are something that can remain.  We can reach back and pull them forward, as the mind allows, and re-live them over and over again.
Yukon, Canada

Over these years, these experiences have been so rich and full of the living experience.  But sometimes the constant day to day existence of life’s experiences can, at times, dull the pure exhilaration of those initial moments of discovery.  Not unique to me, but the complexity of life can at times, make this happen.  Then, it becomes time to purposefully pull these experiences forward as a reminder of the type of life that doesn’t just happen, but one that we can create.
And so, moving beyond the limitations of a singular focus to bring those previous moments back to life . . . I answer my souls longing to move beyond the immediacy of frustration, pain, misunderstanding or the occasional shallowness of the human judgement to that which is greater . . . the nature of things!
Redwood Forrests, Hwy 1 California

It is said that, “when I was a child I spoke, reasoned, and thought as a child, but when I grew up I put away childish things.”  As this child, I remember adults saying things such as “that person needs to find themselves”; I couldn’t relate as a child and would ponder, “Why does a person need to find themselves when they are right there with their self . . . Ahh . . . how life can teach you many things?  It is also said; travel until you find yourself . . . so here I am . . .
Mountain Lake, Canada

A few months ago, life allowed me to experience California Highway 1 also called the Pacific Coast Highway which meanders along the Coast of California by the ocean or just onshore along the magnificent redwood trees.  It’s twists and turns, elevation changes are much like life in that it is constantly changing bringing with it new surprises, vistas, or tragedy.  Its reputation, of course, supersedes what some would call the unique experience.   In reality cannot be captured properly by a camera or other device, it has to be seen with your own eyes to be understood the great beauty there.  Much like Alaska its beauty is far reaching.  Everywhere one looks you must make multiple stops along the way to take it all in.  It is beyond such, to experience it is to sit on the edge of the great beyond.
McWay Falls, Big Sur California

This picture is worth clicking on . . . beyond the sight of it, what do you feel in the longing of your soul?  We go to the mountains, to the beach . . . we visit sites, we cherish our sights . . . all of these are lovely indeed.  But why do we love it . . . yes it stimulates the senses . . . peace can come with it . . . we can see the water and it is beautiful . . . hear the waves and the waterfall . . . smell the saltiness in the water . . . whether it is sunny outside or not it is the same . . . we can feel the sand and the water . . . sometimes we can even taste it all.
Big Sur, California

But, we become more aware of something else . . . being right there within or so close to this huge mass . . . this mass that covers 3/4ths of the earth . . . the ocean,
Pebble Beach

that gives us balance . . . if you open your soul . . .and become aware of how its longing connects you to what you are experiencing . . . can you feel the power, this magnetism . . . the force that in many ways balances the earth . . . can you feel it inside of yourself . . . even if that level of awareness is not yet developed . . . can you feel inside of yourself where it is supposed to connect . . . and how that connection draws you in to becoming even more connected, through various modes, to what is permanent, solid and real . . . and in becoming aware of that experience . . . we realize what is insignificant.
The Lone Cypress, Pebble Beach California

Can we use that feeling . . . that awareness to assess the other things to which we are connected . . . can we use it to improve the quality of our relations with people, with our environment . . . or most importantly . . . with ourselves . . . what is our very real solid experience and what are we projecting on to ourselves and others?

Is our path to living what we want to live being blocked by something that we are projecting . . . that is also something to work on . . . but, the process has started . . . and can be used.

Driving down the coastline from Oregon can be a soul touching experience, if we are open.  Very few guard rails, no separation between the sides of the cliffs and what is beneath several hundred to a few thousand feet to the water . . . It is hard to sight see without stopping to take it all into your senses.  And as we proceed, just like in life . . . we can get to a point where we at the same level as the clouds and eventually look down upon them . . . much food for thought on the foggy mornings along the drive.
Bixby Bridge, Hwy 1 California

I couldn’t by-pass this little one, and as nature goes, so can we . . . if we allow ourselves to feel and accept our feelings . . . we can evolve and grow into that place of our peace.  There are so many examples that exist along the Pacific Coast Highway.  With all the travails in our lives, what can allow us to find peace?  Compassion for others, reflecting on the value of human life – including our own are what we each search for but few really find.

Ahh . . . what would it be to experience rest like this – whether awake or sleep – the ‘peace be still’ . . . to understand the place of those things that stress us and separate us from peace . . . what is peace?  It doesn’t mean necessarily to be free from pain, regret, heart ache, dissension, loneliness, etc.  In fact, it is more aligned with allowing those feelings to exist, but being able to make peace with them.  We each have to find what our individual peace . . . is but, somehow indeed, that peace is still connected to others through compassion, empathy, understanding, forgiveness, patience . . . and the list goes on.

We can realize how small we actually are compared to the larger dynamic . . . but that requires walking the hard path . . . a friend asked me if my blog was moving more towards a spiritual base?  My reply was . . . if you read a really good book, doesn’t it add to the quality of certain things about you?  

Well, to travel the world in my time upon it and absorb the human experience of others, to experience working in an area with no running water, to see the implications firsthand of someone in an Alaskan remote village turning on a faucet or flushing a toilet the first time inside their house in their seventy years . . . of soul to soul acts of human depravity in wars (most of which are not necessary), to sit in a temple thousands of years old demonstrating human and spiritual devotion, to lend a hand when someone needs it, or receive it regardless of a language or cultural gap, to see such magnificent expressions when people focus on excellence, to learn a tango – not the steps – but the interpreted intention of expressions of the soul seeking comfort . . . well, certain things should change you . . . especially if you are simultaneously seeking to calm your soul and refine your own expressions . . . go below the surface and above the clouds . . . wishing you and myself – PEACE during this holiday season!!