The 500th Blog

When a friend of mine first moved to Canada from Germany, I often took him around to parties or events so that he could meet more locals. I remember one time I told him we were going to a friend’s 30th birthday party. He asked me, “Is it common for people to have birthday parties when they are grown up?” I told him some people might but most people would usually just go out to dinner and maybe for drinks with co-workers and friends, but that this was a 30th so it was an actual party. And then my friend tore a veil of thought wide open.

500 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes you need to look at lifeIt seems that the tens are very important in North America,” he said. It took me a second for it to compute.

Uh, yeah. It isn’t like that in Germany or the rest of Europe?”

No. Why is it?”

I’m not sure, but I suspect it’s just because we use tens based math.”

Strange.”

Strange indeed. If anything, I’ve observed lives to go in 7-8 year cycles and so have a lot of ancient cultures. And the drinking and (maybe not coincidentally) voting age in my province is 18, so it’s not like it lines up with being an adult. We just think if the year ends in zero that it’s a big deal and so it is a big deal. We’re kind of like monkeys.

Do you know the story about the monkeys? I’ve referred to it before. In an experiment, some bananas are placed at the top of a tall step ladder. But if a monkey climbs the ladder to get the bananas then all of the monkeys get blasted with freezing water. Before long if any monkey even tries to climb that ladder, the rest of the monkeys will attack it.

One by one they cycle out the monkeys, replacing them with monkeys that never get sprayed with cold water in their lives. And yet after 100% of the original monkeys are shifted out, the remaining monkeys—the ones who’ve never been sprayed with freezing water—are all still attacking any monkey that tries to climb the ladder. Likewise you learned to celebrate your uncle’s 50th, but not his 48th.

500 Relax and Succeed - Have a mind that is openThis is my 500th blog posting. What that means is absolutely nothing other than it acted as fodder for discussing the irrelevance of numbers. They’re cool at describing some aspects of some things, but numbers aren’t things unto themselves. You can’t go out and dig me up a number seven. Numbers are ideas. And they have as much power as we give them. (We currently give a lot of power to money and stock market quotes. )

So go ahead and celebrate all of the birthdays that end in zero, but do it remembering that those years don’t mean any more than any others and that it’s not the years in your life, it’s the moments in your years. Live those moments as awake as you can be. Witness your own being as an aspect of the unfolding of the universe. It’s a miraculous place filled with love and compassion and wonder and sensation. Don’t waste it worrying or wishing. Dive in and live. You don’t even have to count to ten before you start. 😉

peace s

A Life of Riches

Long ago there was an an Arab King who was said to be so wealthy that he had everything, and yet it was considered customary that visiting royalty would provide a gift to their host. But this posed a problem for a visiting Hindu Prince; what can one give the person who has everything?

104 Relax and Succeed - Happiness resides not in possessionsOne thing the Hindus had that the Arabs did not, was the idea or concept of zero—the idea that nothing had value. So what can one give a King who has everything? The one thing he does not have: nothing.

Do you value nothing in your life? Do you see your time at rest as being as important as your time at work or play? Are you so busy driving your car that you never stop to fill it with fuel? And if so, where do you think that will take you?

In a culture of achievement the focus is on obtaining things, having enviable experiences, or in gaining control over others. That translates to down-time being considered as sinful, bad or weak. So if you’re gaining possessions, money or power, or if you’re having experiences others will envy, then you anoint yourself as successful. And if you feel you could benefit from rest or if you feel patience would be advised, you see yourself as failing. This is craziness.

There is nothing to go get in life. There is nothing to achieve that makes a life worthwhile. Whether you are a beggar or a billionaire, your life is still only a string of experiences and having a billion dollars and tons of apparent control and power doesn’t change that. I’ve known a few super-rich people in my day and all of them suffered as much or more than anyone else I ever met, except they added the frustration of feeling like they’d walked the wrong direction for their entire life because in most cases they actually surrendered uplifting experiences so they could go chase money or power.

104 Relax and Succeed - Your greatness is now what you haveIs it so hard to believe that insanely busy “rich and successful” executives wish they had simpler lives with more family or recreation time? Can you understand that they have to worry about the motivation of their lovers, who they know may only be there because they’re rich, or famous, or powerful? Do you understand that these people suffer more because they appear to have won at the game of life, and yet they know that deep down they have the same existential struggles the rest of us deal with?

Stop struggling for things. Stop surrendering life in an attempt to make it more impressive to others. You’re just going to die anyway. Everyone does. You have two dates on a gravestone, and all that matters is that little dash in the middle. The little dash of your life. There will be no balance sheet on your gravestone. There will be no list of achievements. There will only be two dates, and a tiny little dash in time. And the best investment you can make with that little dash is not chasing money or power, it’s through giving love. And if you don’t know that now, I know with absolute certainty that you will come to know it before you die—even if it’s only seconds before.

Your life is fine. You can start where you are and still have a wonderful existence. But that has to be your actual objective. Because no amount of fame, money or power can buy a good life. The only way you get that is by consciously choosing it. Why not start today?

peace. s

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