Virtue is moral excellence. The fact that I had to look that up in the dictionary is a pretty good indicator that I am not virtuous. In fact I am racking my brain trying to come up with a list of virtuous people. My dear grandmother Louise was certainly a person of moral excellence. The matriarch of one of Sacramento’s great family’s Mrs. Breault certainly was. Shirley Plumbtree was. That’s it. That’s the list. I tried to lower my standards of what I thought virtue might mean but, of course, that is absolutely not virtuous. Since I was failing miserably in my endeavors I searched for some other qualities I might actually have. Aristotle has a list of 12 virtues so I raced to investigate. As I looked voraciously for qualities I could claim I was shot out of the saddle immediately. Temperance? That is defined as self control and restraint. Uh, no. Good temper? Meaning equanimity and being level headed. Nope. Not looking very good. However it seems to me that the mere act of blogging can lead to a certain level of virtue. My writing may seem a little disjointed to my prescriptivist friends but the more I post the better it feels to me. Consciously trying to post things that are honest, respectful, courageous and kind may lead me to possessing some virtues. If I’m consistent it might work out for the better. Perhaps virtue can become a learned response. For now I will forgive myself for the majority of my previous sins. Can you do it? Of course you can. I believe in you!
This moment, right now, is your moment. This is the moment when you can truly, deeply, honestly discover who you really are. A real sense of knowing who you are is revealed in how you react to things. If small matters tend to upset you greatly then I have some bad news. You are a small person. You don’t have to stay that way but that is where you must begin. You may tell yourself that all you want is inner peace and tranquility. “I am so tired of this craziness,” or “If I only had a change of scenery my life would get back on track.” Then the phone rings, or you get a text message from work or school and this inner peace you claim you desire is shattered. “Why does this always happen to me?” or “That’s just great, I told my child/ex/co-worker what to do and they disobeyed me!” and my favorite, “It’s not my fault.” To be larger than any situation you can practice being non responsive. Stoic, if you will,. To give nothing to the situation and become one with it, placing no blame, is incredibly powerful and brings true inner strength. If you can master this, no person or situation can get the better of you. Can you do it? Of course you can! I believe in you.
Ja, po, ja, Awo, we, naam, ayo, si, beli, awo, bai, Tak, ha, wah, hoon, da, ya, hoke te, hai, v, shi, Ya, da, ano, Oo, haa, ney. You get the idea, It’s a wonderful word to hear. It is short and sweet and it is the one word everyone wants and loves to hear. Thousands of books on sales and marketing are dedicated to the subject of how to get to yes. There’s also a Jim Carrey movie about a man who cannot say anything else. It is a great premise and an underrated film. In order to reach a place in your life where you are perfectly comfortable saying yes to a majority of ideas and projects you should probably start by cleaning up the space between your ears. Get the right amount of sleep every night. Wake up early. Wait at least an hour before you plug into any electronic media. Take a walk or do some yoga. Go to work determined to succeed and make everything you come into contact with better. Listen to understand. Get away from your desk and have a real lunch break. Set an alarm to go off every day at 2:00 pm. When the alarm sounds take a moment to reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Prepare to finish your day with a renewed sense of purpose. Finish your day with a meal that is prepared with love and attention. Read from a great book. Spend a moment quietly reflecting on your blessings. Rinse and repeat. Can you do it? Of course you can. I believe in you!
Let’s be clear. There is absolutely something we can do today to curb future gun violence. It is a combination of all the good ideas that are coming forth. It is early involvement in the lives of young men who seem troubled. It is background checks that are inclusive and would prevent severely damaged souls from purchasing an automatic weapon. It is hiring and training a new kind of police officer, who can deal with a whole new type of criminal element and protect citizens against weaponized crime, the likes of which we’ve never seen before and paying them accordingly. It’s not blaming and screaming. It’s not using tragedy for political gain by Democrats or Republicans. It is going to the polls and voting in every election, not just for president, against lazy, greedy, complacent, ineffective politicians. It is reading newspapers, blogs, books, magazines and periodicals and making up your own mind after meaningful discussion with a group of your peers. Not your like minded peers necessarily, but a group of open minded, clear thinking, wise, decent friends and family members who can listen to understand and can contribute fair and balanced opinions. If you truly don’t have friends like that you must find them. Do not let your mind and your perspective narrow as you age. If you’ve lived past 50 you owe it to the world to expand, not contract. Take a class. Volunteer. Find a club or a church. Do whatever you must do to get involved in the Action of this life. In order for things to change you must take Action. Do it today.
I was in El Paso yesterday during the horrible mass shooting at Walmart. I was also in Las Vegas on the day of the awful Mandalay Bay shooting. I am haunted by the things I’ve seen at both venues. It has become such a routine occurrence, in our country, that even the media has an actual routine to the reporting now. It is now rote and that is the most unnerving thing of all. It is only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live does a skit that has anchors on weekend update reporting on shootings as if they were a baseball game, if they haven’t done so already. I don’t watch SNL anymore because there are only so many Donald Trump jokes. In the midst of all this chaos and pain there are amazing incidences of courage and compassion. Children being rescued by brave soldiers. Police officers responding in less than a minute to prevent massive casualties and of course the citizens of El Paso showing up in droves to donate blood to help shooting victims who were hospitalized. I have no desire to discuss gun control. It’s very confusing to me right now. I am in favor of background checks and I think some red flag policies would work but it is complicated, no matter what every talking head on CNN insists. However, I believe we can do a better job looking out for one another in every circumstance. Pay attention to early warning signs in each other and encourage young men to seek help. Whether its counselling or psychiatry please let go of the judgment and the stigma attached to young men seeking mental health facilities when they are having problems. Human life is precious and valuable and we all matter.
I believe in exercise and sunshine and the power of positive energy. If your spirits are down the best thing you can do for yourself is take a walk in the sunshine and breath deeply. There are other things, of course, but walking in the sunshine is a great place to start. If you are lacking motivation and don’t have a walking or a workout partner I strongly suggest going on to Facebook and looking up Seth Collup. Seth is the owner of Muscleinsomniac Health and Fitness. He is an incredible personal trainer and one of the kindest, most empathetic people I have ever met. He will design a workout and diet plan that will have you up and at em everyday. It will make an amazing change in you attitude and your altitude. Can you do it? Of course you can! I believe in you.
Reflection should be a time of serious thought or consideration. It should be done daily. I prefer to do it every afternoon at 2 pm. I have an alarm set, 7 days a week, that plays my favorite song at 2 pm. “No One” by Alicia Keys is a trigger for me. It makes me stop and reflect on what I’ve done up to that point and let’s me know if I need to adjust my priorities or if I’m right on track. A lot of my friends and peers do it every evening. That way they can give serious thought to everything that happened before they retire for the evening. At my age I might forget half of what happened by 6 pm so I break the day up a bit. In either case reflection is a habit now for all of us. It bring our lives into focus and allows us to do some soul searching. It gives us time to decide what was true about our day. In the first months of daily reflection, as I developed the habit, I was often embarrassed, at how I reacted to certain situations and how I treated certain people. By acknowledging my mistakes and being determined to not repeat them I gained some internal confidence that I truly needed. Reflection, made me want to be a better man.
Having a clear sense of your values and placing them in the front of your mind will guide you to a path of better decision making. It helps you learn from your mistakes. It gives you perspective. I’ve witnessed these things working in the lives of Adriane Tschida, Brad Alexander, Layne Gunther, Russ Connary, Rick Garland and Sam Wood. They have all been able to shed layers of anxiety, tension, worry and concern. These stressful emotions were replaced with hope, optimism, faith, emotional self-awareness and confidence. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Can you do it? Of course you can! I believe in you.
I have a burning desire to travel. I rarely have an exact destination in mind. My youngest brother Tim and I would frequently cash our Friday paycheck, fill my green Dodge pick-up and throw a dart at a map. These weekend safaris often had themes. We would search for the “perfect Reuben” and it was mandatory that we ate them at any diner we came upon. We spent one weekend picking up any hitchhiker, regardless of what they were dressed like. We agreed several of them looked like serial killers and that only enhanced the adventure. We even ignored the “road closed” sign in Quincy, California during a blizzard and we’re glad we did since we happened upon a stranded motorist and may have saved their life. I’m writing this entry as I sit in the airport in Dallas, Texas awaiting a connecting flight to Bismarck, North Dakota and I have no plans to stop my nomadic existence. It’s extremely important that I try a few more Reuben sandwiches.
My last few weeks in Alaska allowed me to connect with many dear friends. There is a grit and a determination in the permanent residents of Alaska that you will not find in any other state. Alaskans are resilient and self sufficient. They circle the wagons in the face of danger like William H. Hagan and they rarely, if ever, complain. Many Alaskans look to Brad Alexander and his podcast “A Beggar Who Found Bread” for inspiration and spiritual guidance. Brad has lived a rich and multifaceted life and his podcast is equally entertaining for sinners and for saints. If your feeling a little lost put him in your rotation. Can you do it? Of course you can! I believe in you.