The Friday Dose #136: A Season of Compassion

1053-fd-relax-and-succeed-compassion-is-the-radicalismMy family’s not religious in any way but, since we all grew up in a countries that were predominantly Christian at the time, we celebrate Christmas where others may celebrate Diwali, Ramadan or Hanukkah etc etc etc. When these events are and what they are called and what rituals we do are simply cultural. But the spiritual part underlying every meaningful celebration is really about love.

There’s a lot of frustrated people today trying to keep up with change. The next generation wants to live like Star Trek. No more races or wars, just a Federation cooperating on managing Earth and travelling out to new worlds. It’s all very hopeful. So the route from here to there is pretty simple and Ellen does a good job of drawing our attention to what is important to do as we make that journey to a brighter future.

I’ll start the Best of Series next week everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful break if you get one, and if not you have to work–I’ll be right alongside you too, so there’s no reason we can’t make even a busy working period into something festive and worthwhile. I wish you all the very best.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Universal Playground

1029-relax-and-succeed-life-isnt-as-seriousYou feel like you’re in some hostile place where you have to constantly prove yourself while simultaneously battling a never-ending series of problems but; what if you were looking at it from the wrong angle? A cube can look like a two-dimensional square from six different perspectives and yet that doesn’t make it a square to some perspectives but it will absolutely and honestly be a square to those six perspectives. Other views have other views.

What dimensionalises things is when you flip the universe from a place hostile, (where you’re not good enough to overcome all of your problems), to a generous place (where you start off belonging and the universe is keen to cooperate with your creativity). But if your perspective is that you can’t be happy until you’re in Los Angeles, or until you’re with that certain person, or until you own this or that; then the world will always feel wanting.

1029-relax-and-succeed-no-im-not-being-immatureThink of the angle of a pinball machine as your nature. Without anything in your way, you’ll just naturally head that direction until you die and you’ll be quite graceful about it. But life includes all of those things you can hit along the way. Bang, smack, poke, there’s bells, chimes and sirens and the sudden, unexpected direction changes has the whole mess going all over the place. It can feel like you just move from one impact to another. But…

…but I never said you were the ball. If you related to all of those problems and impacts to yourself then you thought you were the ball but the ball is only your ego. You are the player. And the player has a perspective the ball does not. By having a higher perspective your soul realises that all of those impacts aren’t bad things. Those are actually where you’re gaining all of your points; your experience points.

The other thing you’d notice as the player and not the ball would be that the impacts are all to the ball and not the player. You’d also notice that some of the hardest impacts your ego felt weren’t from bumps of beneficial experience, but rather from your soul actively redirecting you, thereby preventing you from going down the hole. So your ego feels like it’s being battered and yet the player is doing all he can to keep you alive, and it’s all just a great big bunch of bouncing and noise until then.

1029-relax-and-succeed-the-most-dangerous-thingWhen you die the player simply runs out of balls and leaves the machine, so the ball will never get to see its own score so that’s not a reason to play. The player can see the score, but the wisest, happiest players are those that know that to play to win is to live and die as the ball. To be truly alive is to enjoy the playing of the game itself, and so they’ve learned to ignore any scores. If you’re a player you just move to the next game.

Too many people stare endlessly at the machine, fearful to release even the first ball, always imagining failure. But there is no losing in the game of life. The playing itself is the victory. Life is crazy. And it’s good. It’s always been able to be both. So just accept today’s craziness and play your game and I’ll watch for you out on the playing field of life.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Disposable Life

989-relax-and-succeed-no-amount-of-security-is-worth-the-sufferingThe Paralympics are currently on. I actually liked when they were called the Special Olympics because to me it is notable and special when someone can do something with less than everyone else needs to do it, as was evidenced in this post from earlier in the year.  I’m not being nice to anyone by being impressed by all that, I’m deep-down inspired by what other human beings can show me we’re capable of.

This brings up the question of what moves us forward in life? At these Paralympics I see smiles and achievements and connections to teams and respect for competitors and lots of physical health and travel and excitement, and none of these things are contained in our limbs. Just as the blind know happiness, the deaf have heard grief. The experiences in our consciousness are what life is made of. Your body is what delivers you to the situations where those experiences take place.

The people who repeatedly choose negative experiences don’t recognise their choices. Once when I was living in Australia I met a very religious man. He was kind in the sense that he was very keen to warn me about all of the potential dangers in the world but those fears had made him extremely angry all the time.

989-relax-and-succeed-worrying-does-not-empty-tomorrowRather than be happy about his wife’s uncle building them a beautiful playhouse for the kids, he worried they would get up to no good in it and so he tore the door off and placed the playhouse right outside the back door of the main house. The kids naturally sought privacy so they mostly just stored things in it. They were only allowed to see religious films and read religious books. They never went out and only mixed with people from their church who were similarly cloistered.

This unfortunately turned the kids into huge outsiders at their school. They were teased for not being aware of anything really modern and they were afraid to participate in anything. They had however seen their father get angry a lot so they were both good at having hot, fast tempers. When they weren’t upset they were mostly depressed because they had no example of what joy or fun looked like. Their parents rarely spoke.

I was fully aware the wife was addicted to TV and profoundly unhappy to the point of abusing prescription drugs. The kids lives grew progressively worse as they matured and sought greater freedom of choice and their angry father soon had them on prescription drugs too. And yet it’s important to note, they had inherited money so they had no need to even work, and everyone was healthy other than emotionally. They could have travelled anywhere but chose to go nowhere.

989-relax-and-succeed-someone-is-happySo this is important: how is someone who lost their legs prior to a huge accomplishment crying at hearing their anthem played while they’re on a podium when this entire family is drugged and miserable and they have everything going for them? Because life doesn’t happen outside of us it happens inside of us.

The miserable family built a rigid idea of doing the right thing and they’re killing themselves contorting themselves into that preconceived shape. Meanwhile the happy group continue to be bold or even got bolder about life and they chased huge dreams. There are no dreams in that Australian family. There are only fears. While one group creates dangers to hide from the other group creates new space within themselves to allow for more expansion. One life goes up, the other goes down. The choice is always ours.

Will you make the most of what you have or will you hide from life? Because you’ll make that choice each moment of each day, and whether you like it or not, your lifetime is made of what you choose most.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Uninspired Lives

You can live your life in ego or you can live your life in spirit. One is inspirational (it’s very root is in-spirit) and the other is mundane. One lives life, and one wonders about life. One makes inspired choices while the other worries about what might go wrong. One moves toward what excites them and one tries to avoid making mistakes. One is happy, and one is sad.

537 Relax and Succeed - Attention Do not let leave your longingsAll of my life I have watched people surrender the tremendous, wonderful gift that life is. Because I knew you could be dead at five, I understood life not as a span of years, but as a chance, an opportunity—a stage on which you can perform any life you choose. So I never understood why people deigned to sit in the audience to watch and comment on the real lives that so few of us choose to enact.

As yesterdays blog pointed out, every life has hills and valleys. Every life is filled with challenge and defeat and struggle and failure. So why endure all of that only to pick a life that you know full well is filled with compromises? You can choose to struggle to climb Mount Everest or you can choose to struggle with the daily tedium of a rush-hour drive to work toward a job you hate and a life you find uninspiring. You struggle either way. Why leave yourself stuck in traffic when you could climb to such incredible heights? It’s the world’s most common form of crazy.

People often comment about the fact that I’ve lead an awesome life, and it’s true I have. I’ve got to make movies and advise billionaires and have super-cool jobs and travel the world. I’ve been an extremely lucky guy but I’ve also created a lot of that luck by living boldly. And your life can be your own bold version of you. Because my life may be fantastic, but it’s no better than anyone who’s gotten married to someone profoundly inspiring and who they feel thrilled to raise children with. There are all kinds of richness and excitement and reward. You can stop paying attention to 537 Relax and Succeed - Ask yourself what is really importantyour pay or your status or your investments of time and you can trade all of that for a job that feels fantastic.

I meet wealthy lawyers and bankers and business people who spend their days scrabbling around trying to keep all of the columns aligned. Their lives are primarily in problem-solving mode with flickers of genuine excitement and inspiration. Rather than accept that great lives have struggles too, they have accepted an uninspired life because they already have invested so much struggle in it. Their egos are frightened. They don’t want to leave the known path they are on for the excitement of the unknown. Better the devil they know. Booorrrriiiinnnnggggg.

I’ve worked in jails with underpaid counselors who help broken people find their own spirits. They achieve tremendously profound satisfaction from watching their clients learn to see their own strengths. I know a guy who starred in four Superbowls and yet he considers his biggest moment was when a man 537 Relax and Succeed - What if I failapproached him in a grocery store with his family. The man explained that he was alive because of Jim’s work with underprivileged kids, and that his beloved family wouldn’t even exist without Jim. Jim told me he considers that his real superbowl win. He lists it as the most inspiring thing in his life. So you don’t need a prominent, big or “important” life. You just need one that puts inspiration first.

Stop with all of your settling. Stop with all of the incessant self-conversations about which way you should go. You do not find which way to go in life by talking to yourself about the best choices. You don’t pick best choices intellectually. You have to be willing to relax, be open and feel your way to the most meaningful kind of success. You build fences with your limited thinking and trap yourself with choices that other people will approve of. You lack courage. You know which way to go, but you won’t make the leap.

The fact is, the vast majority of you will read this and know it’s the truth. You’ll be able to feel that. You’ll know you’re in that group that’s surrendered your spirit. And you’ll come here and read this and other things, and you’ll look longingly at truly inspired lives. But precious few of you will have the courage to ask if this truth is truly alive within you as well. You’ll think I’m lucky, or different or that my big bash to the head gave me something you can’t have. But you’re wrong. You’re just scared. Scared of your own life. And so you’ll give it up, and you’ll cash it all in for something uninspired. Rather than feeling bigger every day, you will shrink 537 Relax and Succeed - Fear is a prisonuntil you’re almost invisible to the world around you. You will feel inconsequential and even tragic—and you’re right, it’s a shame. Because the only thing that’s holding you back is fear.

The good news is that it’s never too late to enact your true self. You may have surrendered certain inspired paths through life, but there are many more so that’s okay. But absolutely none of those are available to you if you’re constantly trying to calculate the right decision. The best decisions aren’t calculated. They are known. And I know you know that feeling. The only question is, will you act on it?

You’ll know which one you chose by how your day feels. Because I can tell you, if you’re making choices for the right reasons, life feels fantastic on a routine basis. So don’t surrender. Don’t settle. Don’t talk yourself out of your own life and into someone else’s. Because you have nothing to gain by doing that, and you have so much to lose. The choice is always yours.

peace and love, s

Fear Itself

The other day I found myself in a conversation with a 25 year old man who I feel confident you would describe as “normal.” Raised as a child, went to school, now in the workforce. Pays rent, has a licence, and a relationship. A news story about cellphone addictions sparked a conversation about phone use. What struck me in that conversation didn’t really have anything to do with his claims about whether or not he was addicted. It was how he described not having his phone.

469 Relax and Succeed - Fear is the energy that contractsThose who read me often will know I sometimes refer to shunting. My accident causes me to notice these odd patterns and when I’ve seen one enough times to be confident it’s a pattern, it becomes conscious to me for the first time as a realization that feels like it’s clicked into place. I do get sensations prior to that too, but they’re more vague. Like the inklings a writer feels as a story gradually congeals. But the shunt is when I know. And when that kid talked about not having his phone, I remembered a shunt I had one day over a decade ago.

An extremely competent and intelligent woman I worked with was describing where her children were allowed to play—which was essentially within her eyesight. I was actually quite startled to learn that, and I could make no sense of why, so I asked. She seemed just as startled by my need to ask. To her it was obvious—and I do think most of the people listening with us agreed with her, not me. The kids needed to be within eyesight in case something bad happens. That’s what the kid said about his phone. I don’t need to use it. I just like to have it with me in case something bad happens.

Again, as is often the case, I’m the odd man out. I need to ask, why would we assume something bad would happen? Her argument that day was good: because if I’m wrong and things aren’t okay, then a child could end up dead. I would agree with that. The stakes are very high. Going both directions I would argue. Because to live in fear of every bad thing that might happen is to not live at all. And we have to stop and truly reassess how likely some of our fears are. Because the media feeds off fears, and the agencies that protect kids remind us of our fears as a part of 469 Relax and Succeed - The brave may not livetheir campaigns and fundraisers—there’s a lot of people that have fear as a part of their employment. We can’t mistake that for kids being in actual danger. 

A kid getting grabbed by a feuding spouse—sure, tons of times. But actual kidnappings of kids make international news. They’re that rare. And we’re talking over hundreds of millions of people. We’re quite literally below lightning strike numbers. Do you avoid going to movies or out to play because you’re afraid of lightning? Then why is everyone hiding their kids away like every second neighbour is dangerous when it’s far more likely that your neighbour would risk themselves to rescue your child?

You watch too much TV. You listen to too many fearful messages through advertising. They tell you which diseases to be afraid of, which smells from which parts of the body you should fear, they warn you not to be unfashionable and you don’t want to be caught listening to the wrong music or you’ll be teased. Almost every decision is dictated by what you don’t want to see happen rather than what you do want to see happen. They’re all defensive decisions made in case something goes wrong. This is crazy.

The world is an amazing super fantabulous place and you can hike through the jungles and get bit by a spider and you can be unnerved by natives or frightened by a snake. You can climb a mountain and parachute down. You can swim with large schools of mammals and fish. You can 469 Relax and Succeed - Your comfort zonewatch bears fish. You can learn to dance, or how to play an instrument. You can read books and travel to places in your imagination. We can interract with humanity. Because despite your entirely irrational fears about them, they are AWESOME and very much worth getting to know.

I never cease to find everyone I meet to be amazing and interesting in their own way. But I’m not looking out at life worried about what bad things might happen. Secret’s out: some of those are gonna happen whether you watch or not. But the really great stuff? That you only get a few times by luck. But if you’re watching—if you’re keeping your eye out for cool, rewarding, exciting stuff, then you’ll find a lot of it. More than you’ll ever be able to process in one lifetime. Which is why you’ll choose to come back, and to live another life with just as many bumps and grinds as this one. Because the really wise being inside you knows it’s worth it every time.

This is a life you have. It’s a fantastic opportunity every single day. It’s really not that hard to make it amazing. You just have to start with a little courage. Here’s a ((hug)) to start you off. Now go gettem’. 😉

peace. s

Stupendous Day

Sometimes I feel like I’ll have to explode before I’ll be able to contain how freaking awesome being alive is. I know you primarily take it for granted—that’s your only actual problem. All of your other problems are made out of that problem. While I’m amazed and in love every single day, you’ll stop everything and be filled with the present moment only a few times a year, and even then only for oceanfront sunsets, snow-capped mountains glinting in the sunlight, or 445 Relax and Succeed - I am thankful for todaymaybe for puppies or a really funny cat video—and hopefully always and for sure babies of all kinds. My point is, you really are selective and that’s because you’ve mistaken the things you’re looking at for what you’re experiencing. But what you’re sensing and what you’re experiencing are often two different things.

The reason I think everything’s amazing and you’ll only agree to be amazed if conditions are just right is because you’ve begun to interact with the names of things rather than the things themselves. It’s what the Buddha meant when he talked about The Illusion. So if you see some bird that’s common in your area, you’ll glance at it and identify it, but you won’t look closely at that particular bird. Because just like any other creature, they’re all unique. But unless we feel some semblance of love or the attraction of curiosity we don’t look for the uniqueness. We don’t look to see, we just glance and identify.

Next we assess and judge. We make a value judgment of how much of our attention does this or that deserve? And things that are presumed common or known will be skipped over as soon as they are identified. This is why you can look for your keys several times in the place that you actually find them—because the other times you were assuming they weren’t there so you found a part of the desk that had no keys on it and you looked there to confirm to yourself that your presumptions were correct. And with that useless bit of self-verification you come to believe that the keys aren’t there and that you didn’t see them, when in fact the light that makes up your vision definitely did enter your eye. You just didn’t use your thoughts to turn those waves into a particle you recognized.

So how do you see the keys? How does the everyday world become magnificent? Well, you have to actually be in the world. Because those aforementioned assumptions happened inside your head. When you think your keys are not there you are living in your thinking and not in the real world. Do you see how your ego can even blind you? It’s remarkable how much it can distort what’s truly going on.

445 Relax and Succeed - Be aware as an activityThe world is so enormous that you cannot even begin to fathom its scale and complexity. Your job is not to make sense of creation. You weren’t put here to figure out the answer. You are the answer. You are creation being lived-out. So you can quiet your mind. Do you hear me? You can go quiet inside. Those conversations are nonsense. So rather than identify, evaluate and judge the universe, just be yourself within it. That is your responsibility—that is your aspect of creation to realize—the aspect that is you.

Now do you want to know the cool part? You don’t like sunsets or puppies. What you do like is the feeling of shutting your mind up when you look closely at those things. So it was never the things themselves that were making you feel awesome, it was that they encouraged you to be fully with them, and therefore they lead to you being quiet inside. So you don’t need to add anything from the outside to realize enlightenment. You just need to go quiet and your inside will naturally manifest. So now you can surrender. You can stop looking for the keys to life. They were in your hand the whole time. Now you can go live.

Have yourself a stupendous day.

peace. s

That Sinking Feeling

I saw this quote on Twitter: “Life is like stepping into a boat that is about to sail out to the sea and sink.” It’s supposed to be a Zen Proverb but how can it be when it’s so depressing? Doesn’t that make life meaningless? Whazzup?

signed,
Sinking Feeling

Dear Sinking,

I do believe I can help you understand this. First off, I think you’ll benefit from revisiting your initial reaction. Your judgment about the direction of the quote—and therefore the meaning of each word—was not what the Zen-saying was aiming at. Because so many of the terms are heavily loaded in our culture it makes sense that your initial response would be quick and presumptive. You automatically associated sinking with failing. But death is inevitable, so dying 385 Relax and Succeed - They are ill discoverersisn’t failing, it merely marks the end of life. Failing is when we surrender life to fear. You also made the popular assumption that meaninglessness can be translated into worthlessness, when I would argue the opposite.

Let’s look at other activities to see where we place value. There seems to be only one reason people play board games: fun. Who wins is meaningless, and yet we love it and we happily choose to do it regularly. Cuddling babies. This is also somewhat meaningless. But it feels amazing. Hackey Sack is fun, but if you’re in a hack circle there’s no winners or losers. You’re all in it together. But it has no meaning. Listening to music has no meaning but we all genuinely love to do it. So my point is; meaninglessness is actually where we find most of our enjoyment in life. We should place more value on it.

What the quote is saying is: stop trying to be important. Stop trying to be respected. Stop trying to impress people. Relax into yourself. Accept your inevitable death and do the smartest thing: enjoy the interval. What else is there? If you know you’re going to die but you don’t know when, then it could be five minutes from now. Or it could be 50 years. Either way, it’s coming so what’s valuable in your life is time. So it’s a matter of how you invest that limited asset. And I can imagine no wiser investment than to put as much of it as possible into enjoyment.

In the West we warehouse death into old folks homes and hospitals. We don’t see the cycle of life on our streets like half the world does. We forget that people are suffering and dying every moment. So we don’t cherish life as much. We don’t think it’s a big deal because we forget it’s there at all. We’re just not used to thinking about our larger context. But if we do we realize 385 Relax and Succeed - The secret of healththat it is absolutely true that we all began to die the moment we were born. So spend as many minutes as possible between then and now doing things you love.

Eat food you love, see places you love, make love, laugh, sing, read, play, cuddle, kiss. Be alive. It’s a limited engagement you have in this theatre of life. And then the curtain will come down. Pack a big performance into the space in between. Live large. There’s a lot of world out there for you to experience.

Stop trying to live forever. The whole point behind the original agony of vampires is that they live forever so life has no meaning. That’s why writers create that distinction: they exist but are not considered alive. So you don’t even want to live forever. And stop trying to find an afterlife where you can still exist. Vampires, heaven/nirvana/paradise—these are all ideas that come out of your fear of not-being. You have to relax about that. It’s okay. The drop just returns to the ocean, but you missed that the ocean has always been within the drop. You’re powerful. You can choose a brave and bold life. You’re up to it. Just plan accordingly.

Don’t be bummed out that you start dying the moment you’re born. It is that very time limit that gives life its value. So spend your life having awesome experiences. Challenge yourself. There’s nothing to lose. Play. It’s like a song. It’s not how long it is that makes it good, it’s how enjoyable it is to experience while it is playing. That’s a great metaphor for life.

Now go have fun. It’s the Zen thing to do.

peace. s

The Meaning of Life

379 Relax and Succeed - It is time to clear our minds

Why?

signed,
Everyone

Dear Everyone,

Can you see that every question I am asked here is about the Management of your Existence? That you’re asking me how to get your ego from this struggle to that little oasis of peace? That like a traveller on a trail you want to know how far the next rest stop is—how long it will take to get there, and what the most effective and efficient route is? But you’re all insane. You’re all trapped in a cloud of thought. You’re all asleep, and it is time to wake you up.

379 Relax and Succeed - To study the wayI have spent much of my life quite confused by human beings. With precious few exceptions you all have looked entirely crazy to me, and I’ve been fully aware that many people believe the same of me. I am aware that I look crazy when I sell a successful business at a young age to attempt a long-shot career in an unlikely industry that seems to have no connection to the rest of my life. That I take strange trips to unusual places and while I’m there I invest myself in seemingly meaningless activities. That like a child I am mesmerized by nearly nothing, and that I don’t care at all about nurturing your opinion of me.

Anyone who knows me well and is honest will know it is routine for people who’ve known me 10 years or 10 minutes to conclude that there is something strange about me and about my life. That whether people judge me generously or harshly there is this nagging sensation that there is something different guiding my life. That moments fall from me like water and that despite all of the opinions about my life, that I live mine in a oddly deep—and some might even say beautiful— way. That I can love even in the face of hate. That I can be free.

But I am nothing. That is my gift. I am merely a key. And today I offer myself to you. I offer to open a door. I offer to wake you up. I don’t offer you a pleasant existence, I offer you everything. There is an answer. Your dream of something better is founded in a universal truth that is so strong, so powerful and so meaningful that it can penetrate down into the recesses of even the darkest, coldest, most judgmental ego. How long you stay alone is up to you. How long you suffer is your choice.

379 Relax and Succeed - Love is the master keyThe door is open. You only need to walk through the entrance and your life will be transformed. We won’t fix your problems, you will join with God. You will realize the universe within yourself. You will feel the stardust from which you are made. You are never outside of this truth. You are never separate or lost or lacking. You merely use your thinking to tell yourself that story. So today I am shaking you awake. Today you stop becoming. Today you have the opportunity to realize that you are one with everything.

I have lead a privileged life. I awoke to a nurse at five years old as she worriedly clasped the crucifix around her neck and, without knowing it, she set me free: “They said you was dead. Where was you?” That was when I lost the rest of you. That was when I returned to a childlike view and rejoined with everything. That is when I reconnected with the truth. Because I knew that I could die, I lived. But because you are afraid of death, you cannot. It is time to stop clinging. It is time to stop holding on to cherished beliefs. It is time to be free.

You cannot see another perspective and so you cannot comprehend other views, other judgments, other ways of shutting out the glory of existence with beliefs. And so I lived not knowing that while I was alive, others were merely existing. I remember so clearly in elementary school a teacher presuming a fear of death. I remember being startled beyond belief. Was she insane? Why would she say something so ridiculous? A fear of death? Who would waste their glorious time Being to instead tell themselves a story about time, about ending, about limits? It’s all so incredibly small.

379 Relax and Succeed - The real questionI have travelled. I have met with glorious spirits on trains on buses on footpaths. I’ve floated with them on ferries, and jostled with them in lineups for subways. I have met them in boardrooms and hostels and on airplanes, and at schools and funerals and hospitals. I have dove to the bottom of oceans and held wine bottles from another century. I have seen skulls and femurs and flood and war. I have held babies and comforted the dying. I have raced cars and flown planes and played instruments and sang. I have been happy and angry and sad and alone. And throughout it all I have been home. I have never been lost in that way and neither have you. There is no outside. There is no separateness. There is only Being.

I have had the great pleasure of knowing some remarkable human beings. Many have been famous or fabulously Earth-shatteringly wealthy. I have met people who have been to the bottom of the deepest mines and others who have seen our planet from space. I have said yes many times. And yet there was one thing I had no knowledge of. I did not know existence. I did not know the plodding responsibility of managing an existence. That is what 99.9% of lives are. The Management of Existence.

Roughly seven years ago someone did something that impacted my life far more than they could ever have known. This action was dark and ugly and mean and cruel and it’s entire reason for being was to bring about suffering. Like a gift in the ugliest wrapping paper ever, it offered me the chance to experience the Management of Existence. It taught me how to suffer in the way that egos suffer. It was a theft, and it literally stole my life and replaced it with379 Relax and Succeed - Serendipity finding something good existence. And like a frog who does not leap from water that is slowly brought to a boil, I lost perspective and my life became a memory and not a verb. And the responsibilities and the obligations and the requirements of existence blinded me to the absence of life.

Now I don’t want to pretend that I suffered like many of you have—so many lives on this Earth are so much worse than mine. I never lost complete connection with the knowledge that came as a result of trying to answer that nurse’s question when I was five. But I came to know suffering well enough. So without knowing it I was experiencing a course in a spiritual university—I was learning how to appreciate who I had previously been. And the juxtaposition of life to existence was what brought the former into such clear focus. Because on this past weekend something happened to bracket that existence. Something happened that reminded me of life. Something woke me back up. And I could not be more grateful. Because now I know what to say to you. Now I know what existence is. And now I know how to open the door to your life.

Life is not a set of events. Life is a flow of experience. Events are placed in time, and they are relative. So when I designed and built the beautiful home I live within, my dear brother questioned my choices. I had painted my walls green. He lovingly tried to talk me out of it. “You should paint them white,” he said. “It’ll make it easier to sell.” Sell?! I was still awake then, so I knew he was bonkers-crazy. Sell? I hadn’t even moved in yet! Why was I going to make choices for some other person who would own my house in some distant time? So while my brother worried about my financial existence, I lamented his inability to appreciate his actual life. My house wasn’t a place with a value. It is and always will be a flowing movement of experiences.

379 Relax and Succeed - Can words describe the fragranceHave you heard of the Shackleton whisky? Over 100 years ago Ernest Shackleton embarked on an adventure to reach the South Pole. And among his supplies he carried bottles of scotch. Not just any scotch. Scotch that was before the world was impacted by ego. The water and grains in those bottles had never experienced the quiet rain of radioactivity that fell after each of more than 2000 nuclear tests and two offensive attacks. It had been distilled by a connoisseur who regarded the flavour of good scotch with the reverence of a priest. And the man who shares his passion today is equally religious. To an ego such a person seems crazy, but to someone clear-headed it’s easy to see that these men have glimpsed the glory of God and they are swept up by their desire to share that experience. They are true artists, and their canvass is your palate.

Whether someone designs a car, or points a telescope at the sky, or if they build a computer or a construct a math formula or blend whiskey, true artists are attempting to expose to others the remarkable, amazing truths that inform their actions. They aren’t trying to impress you with their achievements. They are attempting to share the glory of the universe with you. And so long ago such a priest placed a message in a bottle and he, with the unwitting help of Shackleton (and another modern connoisseur), sent it travelling through time to today.

He wasn’t interested in pre-nuclear water or labelling success. Like the composer of an instrumental song, he was merely attempting to join with you in a place—a spiritual location. He was attempting to convey an experience. And just as a song can be written by Mozart and played today, my friends and I were able to share in a taste experience with brave, 379 Relax and Succeed - Not only are we in the universeadventurous men from another century. Can you see it? We may have been separated by more than 10,000 miles and 100 years, but our experiences were common. Our experiences were shared.

With tremendous thanks to the gentlemen I was with, I put that glass to my lips and I tasted the glory of God and in doing so I woke up. I woke up to realize what being asleep was. Thanks to the juxtaposition of my suffering existence, and the authenticity of the spirits in that bottle, I was awakened and reminded of what my life had been prior to me being tricked into existence. And in doing so I instantly knew that I now had the final piece of a puzzle that I was unaware was even being built. I could now see the whole picture. As well-intentioned as my efforts have been, they have been partially blinded by my lack of appreciation for the subtleties of existence vs. being alive.

It’s not good enough. It’s not deep enough, profound enough or worthwhile enough. I am grabbing you by the lapels and I am screaming at you to wake up. Your life is not some desert that’s populated by the odd flower or sunset or mountaintop. Your life is a wonder each and every moment. But you cannot appreciate that if you are blinded by thoughts about Managing your Existence. It’s time to wake up. It’s time to stop thinking. It is time to Be. It is time you tasted life.

Stop thinking about defending against disaster. Stop trying to stave off death. Live instead. Accept the suffering of life as the Shackleton adventurers did, and in doing so drink deeply from reality. Because far from being locked away by the responsibilities of your existence, you are free to dive into the reality of appreciation. And I look forward to meeting you there. Because I love you.

scott