A friend told me some years ago that the Epic life is lived in the good and bad. His counsel has stayed with me. If you’re not careful, you could fall in the trap of believing an epic life is found in great heroics, acclaim or fame. It can be that, but honest people know it’s all about the moments. The following is a glimpse of a day in the epic life-mine:
Friday, August 18, 2017
7:30 AM – A walk in my neighborhood. Music playlist titled Yoga. Observing the moodiness of the clouds above me. A conversation with God
7:45 AM – Yoga and prayer
8:05 AM – Checking email and posting on social media
8:30 AM – Listening to Insight for Living and reflecting on living and dying
9:00 AM – Breakfast and listening to the news (local and national)
9:15 AM – Gig stuff (not Epic Living related). Quite bored and not finding it very meaningful. I push through because I have to
10:00 AM – Reached out to friends to check-in
10:05 AM – Back to the gig stuff
11:30 AM – Somethings wrong. Feel like my blood glucose is high. I test. 400 is the number. WT…
12:30 PM – Test my blood again. Still high. Take dosage of insulin. Getting frustrated because I haven’t eaten since 9.
12:45 PM – Cancelled 2 appointments, with apologies
1:30 PM – Feeling drained and listless. Take a nap
2:00 PM – Test my blood again. Lower number, but still too high. Decide not to take another dose. I’ve been burned before by getting too aggressive
2:45 PM – Looking at a draft version of a press release
2:45 PM – Prepare for a conference call
4:00 PM – Call medical provider about billing issues with insurance. I don’t like insurance companies. I see them as a legal racket. Very frustrated by the lack of competence and the game playing
4:20 PM – Talk with my wife about new opportunities and her so-called manager/leader. Hate seeing her go through. I listen.
As I look back over the day, it was epic. One thing that leaps out is the importance of morning prep. You never know what’s coming your way.
“I learn by falling down.”
The above words came to me today from a ten-year old boy named Rocco. I was observing him riding his Hoverboard and couldn’t help but notice his skill. Moving from room to room, or grabbing a snack from the fridge, he just moved effortlessly. I asked him how he learned to maneuver so well, and that’s when gave me the secret.
Learning by falling down is pretty straight forward for a ten-year old. He hasn’t accumulated all the baggage and wounds many adults have. He pretty much wants to be good at his art and sees falling down as an effective tool for learning. Did he ever get embarrassed or want to quit? I would think so, but accomplishing the mission/goal meant more to him than calling it quits.
I’m led to the following:
Rocco’s approach is sound to get some success. The key is trusting your gut and the system (i.e. doing this will result in…).
I think I’m going to find some more ten-year olds to hang around with.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the space between the notes, in music and in life. Quite frankly, the blending of the two. As a musician, I was taught about the discipline of waiting and going forward. The discipline has served me well. Its been a cruel teacher when I’ve failed to take it seriously. It has been a two-sided friend.
I read a quote once credited to Bill Evans. He was asked in an interview why he seemed to linger after striking certain notes. His response was simply his desire to wait and see what the next note would bring. Jazz musicians have always been credited with strong improvisation skills. Obviously, or not , Bill Evans was a master at it. He believed that music was conversational.
Life is conversational.
In your race to grab a hold of something or someone, are you missing the space in between? Could it be that what you’re looking for is found there? The impact is always felt once a note is played. The best artists know true impact is felt in an echo or the lingering tone. It’s instinctive in so many respects, yet ignored in the same frame.
Is your life just a flurry of notes, full of hurry, clutter, fear, and doubt? Why won’t you slow down? Why won’t you let go?
I know many who fear what’s in between the notes. Between the notes we find the wounds. People often fear those same wounds will be exposed. Who will listen? Who will give empathy? The world has become shallow, and safe places to open up are becoming more rare. Social media has made it worse. I sometimes think about what it would be like to wave a magic wand and change it all, but of course I don’t possess that power. Life is tough and it can be daunting.
Take comfort, there is safety here.
In recent months, I’ve had to evaluate who should get a vote. Specifically, as it relates to my time and life. In many ways, it’s a realignment of what and who influences me.
Here are some examples of what forces can have a vote in your life, even if you’ve never officially granted the authority:
As you can tell from the list, some are positive voters, some not so much.
In my current frame, I’ve had to revoke voting privileges for some people in my family. It is difficult work. When I made the decision, I found areas of my soul that needed attention. The kind of attention I’ve not explored before. The problem with some votes is they can mask unhealthy things. We know what happens if we let unhealthy things go unchecked.
Everyone is unique, so the voters I remove could look different than yours. I would encourage you to evaluate early and often. The longer a voter stays, the longer it takes to remove them…their vote.
My absence here is an obvious and I hope my return is a welcomed fragrance for you. I wanted to give you an update, by way of this post, on looking back on 2016.
Things in my life unraveled a bit, mid-to-late 2016. It really produced silence in me. My life has been marked with extended times of silence. Sorry for this, but the majority of my time is spent listening. Writing in this blog is usually the recipient of the blow. One resounding positive in my chaos was the completion of my second book (manuscript). I’m am thankful about its forming. More to come on the book’s release. Promise.
So what’s gone on? Why the looking back? Well, it seems like the following made an impromptu appearance:
The above issues, sorrows, challenges have shown me a few things:
Preparation is Everything, Even When You Don’t Know It
In many ways, life is a laboratory. A place of experiments and discoveries. It also a place of deep pain with all that comes after. I can’t imagine if my mind was only focused on me and my interests (happiness, pleasure, acclaim, and more). The exercise analogy is so applicable here. If you don’t work on building strength, you won’t have any when you need it most. This reality sticks with me. I have to note as well, life can also sucker punch you. Sometimes the preparation is what helps you when you’re picking yourself off the ground.
God is a Constant
If you’ve read, or know me personally, this blog for a while you know my faith. When I look back, I see the constant of my relationship with him. No religion, no theatrics and no judgement. He’s just there. I need the “there.”
Giving is Key
A wise mentor told me in 2016 to give myself away. I took his advice, in the beginning, as a business move. Doing it in business would be fine, but I had no idea how it would apply to life and to those I love. I’ve been giving myself away, even when my energy was ebbing. The only reason I can find is; I have to. A good place.
Worry In Life’s Classroom:
In my last post, there was only a title and a blank page. In a clever (so I thought) way I wanted to communicate that worry has taught me nothing. This is not entirely true.
In the end, worry has truly been a horrible teacher. If worry were a class, seminar or talk, I would go the other way. Alas, worry has been the cause of so much of my mental stress. I don’t like to think about how much of my lifetime has been sucked away by it.
In many ways worry is like fear, it must be managed. The discipline is a daily activity. Life happens and the elements are what they are. In the age of the Monkey Mind, so much comes at us. Here are some examples from my yesterday:
I could go on, but I think you get it. So, how did I manage those animals. It’s a blend of preparation and in-the-moment actions. The preparation comes in slowing down, practicing mindfulness daily, seeking God’s face, and knowing that life is not supposed to be easy. The “in-the-moment” actions are born out of emotional intelligence. The understanding that not every emotion and thought is to be held on to. An active letting go is key here. Absent of these, I would be a wreck.
Everyone has difficulties at work, tensions at home, disappointing health news, are all going to happen. You should expect the what comes your way because it will. America is ripe of people trying to numb and medicate their way around. The numb and medicate approach only makes it worse, for you and those around you. We were designed to go through, not around our potential worries. If you mange your worries, you will lead to a contented life.
As I progress through life, I am more aware of the trade-offs each day brings. When I look at my calendar, when I reflect on my thoughts or when I consider a business opportunity. Regardless of the situation, a trade is made in everything. Like you, I want to be pleased by what I trade. I apply this to today and tomorrow.
In my younger days I thought I was made of steel. I still feel really strong. I now pause and consider my choices more carefully. My margin for error has changed. I’ve found an interesting correlation between feeling like a man of steel and ignoring life’s trade offs; comfort.
Comfort is worshipped in many parts of the world. America is a leader in this type of worship. I’m not against comfort, I just see it as something to be careful with. Change never comes through comfort, no matter how much we delude ourselves.I even introduce discomfort for the purpose of keeping myself on a healthy razor’s edge. For example, I practice muscle confusion in my exercise plans. This is not revolutionary, but it helps my mind stay focused on growth and not on what feels “familiar.”
It’s a daily battle and it doesn’t happen naturally.
I highly recommend you give careful consideration to the trade-offs in the following areas of life:
Each of the above will require something from you, make sure you can live with the transaction.