Saturday, May 21, 2011
"Come on, children, you're acting like children,
Every generation thinks it's the end of the world."
- Wilco, "You Never Know"
I've been riding along on the mockery bandwagon regarding today's dire warning of the Rapture from Rev. Camping and his Family Radio network. Now, I'm just a little embarrassed by it all. Let's review:
If you do believe his prognostication, you have to buy into the belief that the world is only a few thousand years old, and that the Bible should be taken VERY VERY literally when it says that a day to us is like a thousand years to God. This would be the criteria he used.
If you bought the ticket for his sideshow, you may have gone as far as to have naively sold all your worldly possessions, spent your retirement dollars, and will soon find yourself with a long time to go here on earth with very few resources. Yes, blind faith can lead to gullible, even stupid, actions, but it's still sad to see people fall under the wheels of the P.T. Barnum circus wagons as they leave town.
If you are a Christian but don't buy into this man's movement, you are likely embarrassed by yet another charlatan or arrogant believer who claims to know the mind of God. Your chances of adding believers to your flock thins each time one of these guys gets in front of a national audience. And today, it doesn't take much to get in front of a national audience. Jesus, believe in him or not, deserves better PR.
If you are one of the folks who has put energy into making fun of these people - as I will confess to having done amongst close friends - you've deflected the chance to be introspective about your life and how you're living it, choosing snark over sincerity. We don't know how or when the world - or our lives - will end. How we choose to live, day by day, though, is a concern of every major religion and of those who don't practice any particular dogma. Maybe this misguided bunch of doomsdayers are giving us a chance to examine our lives, whether it's for Christ, Krishna, or good ol' fashioned karma's sake.
So, what do you do on the day that is supposed to be our last? Maybe this is a chance to do a little cosmic inventory of our priorities, our intentions, and our choices. Again, whether it's in an effort to be a better Baptist or a better Big Bang humanist, at least it seems a way to find something worthwhile in an otherwise overplayed and easy-to-marginalize media spectacle.
After the satirization subsides, we're still here. And we've got a lot of problems as a human race staring us in the eye. Whatever it is that leads us to our higher selves and our higher purposes as people, maybe it's time to reengage with that. If this sad little rapture spectacle can serve any good whatsoever, maybe it will be that. But chances are we'll forget about it in a week or so. Business as usual.
Until the next doomsday comes around.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Some words of wisdom from my friend at Tiny Buddha. This is the good stuff.
7 Obstacles to Mindfulness and How to Overcome Them
7 Obstacles to Mindfulness and How to Overcome Them
Don't let the bastards get you down."
- Kris Kristofferson
Here's an old Zen parable for your consideration:
Two monks were traveling together, an older monk and a younger monk. They noticed a young woman at the edge of a stream, afraid to cross. The older monk picked her up, carried her across the stream and put her down safely on the other side. The younger monk was astonished, but he didn't say anything until their journey was over. "Why did you carry that woman across the stream? Monks aren't supposed to touch any member of the opposite sex." said the younger monk. The older monk replied "I left her at the edge of the river, are you still carrying her?"
Fast forward to my very non-monk self, circa 2005 or so. I met a woman - she worked at the now defunct Blockbuster next to the Publix where we grocery shop. I'd balanced my shopping cart next to my truck in the parking lot, and it rolled back about two or three feet into the car behind me. But, no harm, no foul, so I reset my cart and began loading my groceries again.
Suddenly, this woman came running out of the video store. She was screaming at me about her car, her unharmed car. She let loose with a barrage of accusations - nothing profane or hyperbolic - just intense inquiries into my values: "How can you be so careless?" "Why do you think you have the right to hurt someone else's property?" and the clincher, "How can you be so selfish?" Mind you, this is all before I said much of anything aside from "I'm so sorry. It was an accident."
But, she persisted. She wanted my name, my number, and answers. Answers to the questions she'd posed about who I thought I was. Meanwhile, her car sat beside us, with nary a scratch. I tried to point this out, but that denial of culpability sent her into the stratosphere.
Then, suddenly, when she took a breath from her prosecutorial rant, out came a sentence that I have no explanation for. Not "F*#% you" or "Give me a break", but an earnest, "You must be such an unhappy person." She was stunned into silence. Where did I find the gall to make such a presumption? I followed it up with "I'm sorry for you, I really am." Then, I got in my car and drove away...but I couldn't leave her at the edge of the proverbial river.
I let her anger eat away at me for the lion's share of that weekend, even though I was well aware that I'd taken the high ground in my response, and that I'd likely never see her again. Still, I couldn't shake her from my mind. Not because I was concerned about her - though perhaps I should've been - but because she rattled me so.
I share this because, this year, I've encountered all kinds of irrationalities, from ethically challenged school board members and angry parents to a particularly embittered fellow Little League coach and the random crazy client. Add to the mix all the birthers, deathers, apocalyptors, and talking heads that make (or opine over) the headlines, and it's sorta like a Golden Corral of rage: a long line of all-you-can-swallow options, and none of it good for you.
Sometimes life tries to teach us multiple lessons at once. If the first in all this is to 'tell the truth and stand your ground' then the second is invariably the latter part of Kris' chorus, a country songwriter's spin on that Zen parable: Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down.
Leave it at the river's edge. Don't carry it with you. That's how anger wins. That's how the mean people win one more convert to their side.
I can write it here. Now, can I learn to do it? We'll see. That's part of our cosmic homework assignment, isn't it?
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I have no idea whether the past month or so has made an improvement that others can see. I'm more tan than I was in March, I can say that (10am boot camps will do that to ya). I do know, however, that FitWit has made a huge impact on me and how I see myself. I've never been accused of pushing myself physically. Even when training for the ING half-marathon, if I needed to stop and walk, I stopped and I walked, with no inner Sgt. Carter yipping "MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT!" at my Gomer Pyle-like approach. Suffice to say, when it comes to self-motivation, I'm easy like Sunday mornin'.
FitWit has shown me I'm capable of more than I realized. Our trainer is uber-supportive. There's no boot camp mentality - it's 100% positive motivation. However, there is a definitive boot camp vibe to the actual exercises we're doing - what with kettlebells, medicine balls, jump ropes, sprints, squats, burpies, push ups, pull ups, dips, and broad jumps, to name a few. That's where I've surprised myself. Because I've never been the kind of person to veer too far out of my comfort zone, FitWit has shown me I've got more brewin' inside than just caffeine and neuroses. I can actually push myself to - and through - perceived limitations. Surrounded by other positive folks, all busting down their own walls and personal challenges, gives you something collective and powerful to work toward. You're not alone. And after years of taking 3 or 4 mile runs by myself, I'm finding the camaraderie and gentle competition is working in my favor.
So, instead of downshifting this summer back to meandering runs or do-it-myself yoga on my front porch, I'm re-enlisting for another round of FitWit in June. Not just because I'd like the lovehandles to become harder to grip, but because no matter what may or may not be happening on the outside, I love the changes that are coming from within.