Thursday, September 18, 2014

I mention often, to anyone that listens to me about my realization of just because I was born human didn't mean I knew how to be a human. We have to be shown what forgiveness looks like, we have to be shown how you treat and how you speak to those you love, we have to be shown what to do with anger. We don't simply know how to do these things just because we were born human.
I guess I'm lucky because I have the natural desire to research stuff. I have a curiosity about why I act and react the way I do and why others act and react the way they do. I'm naturally drawn to they "why" behind the "thing". The more I look and the more I find the deeper I understand the whole "being a human" thing. My life is enriched exponentially when I take the experience of being human that others have had and apply it to my own.
When I got off from work last night I watched a documentary called "Hitler's GI Death Camp". I had no idea whether they taught it in school and I wasn't paying attention or if they just didn't teach it at all, but I had no idea that a couple hundred American GI's where in the Nazi death camps as POW's. Endless footage was shown from inside the camps of Jews from every where and our GI"s. You know that feeling, that brief split second when you are about to burst into uncontrollable sobs? I was hung right at that spot for nearly an hour. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement of a lifetime.
They had interviewed of 3 or 4 American Service men recalling their harrowing two months in the death camp and my soul hurt so bad from their stories that I wanted to turn the thing off. An American mind, under the age of 60 cannot fathom what hell the people in the camps endured. If there had not been video footage and photos, even I with the most imagination of anyone I know couldn't dream up the Godless terror the people withstood. To be so hungry you ate the lice on your body and leaves from frozen trees is not a thing I would have ever been able to dream up. After the show ended I was completely utterly gutted.
This morning, I realized that because i took the time to watch this show, about the human experience these people had, to expose myself to the story of another, I understand my humanity better. Would I have died or would I be one of the GI's that had such a desire to live they ate lice? How did they find a way to get past all of it when the few servicemen left living got home? How did they not just shut down permanently. how did they not be consumed with anger and hate?
. The more I expose myself to the experience and stories of others, the more I understand about myself. I'm not really sure I ever dreamed I could watch a film or TV show and have and the more possibility I create. You know, it touched the place inside me that I always held behind locked gates but it happens now on a regular basis. When I remove fear and ego and am in a place of connected-ness and centered-ness I can allow your experience at being human to greatly enhance my experience at being human. I can use your experience to deepen and enhance my own. We get to do that for each other when we aren't crippled by self centered fear and hurt.
I looked into the eyes of the living servicemen interviewed in fancy High Definition and you could see the look of a men who will never be able to unsee, unfeel what they saw and felt, yet they moved on and found lives for themselves. As a human, I need to see what is capable, what I am capable of and a great deal of that comes from me finding out the story of others. We have to learn how to be human, we don't automatically know how to do that. Just because i was born with ten pink toes and ten pink fingers doesn't mean I know how to live as a human.
The name of the film on Netflix is "Hilter's G.I. Death Camp" and I defy anyone with any sense of God about them to watch the hour and not be deeply affected by it. It's hard to believe that one human would have the power to do order up such evil. It's just as hard though for me to imagine going through that horror and finding a way to live a life afterward that has any love and light to eat, but it appears they found a way. THAT my friends is TRIUMPH OF HUMAN SPIRIT and that is exactly what I need to see often, regularly and in technicolor. I don't want to waste my limited run in the human experience box office of life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I really adored Mr. Cogar's thoughts on empathy. It certainly has not been something I set out for in my life as a special interest to cultivate, but the more spiritually evolved I become the more empathetic I become. Empathy requires that we reserve judgment. It was a huge moment for me when I realized I could be very disappointed for a person without being disappointed in a person.

When we recognize the part of us that is spirit/high power/God, it makes it impossible not to see the spirit part in others regardless of how at odds it is with the human part at the time. Humans are so messy. Driven by countless fears and an egoic mind set that insist we be right at all times, we are all, ALL of us very hard to love at times. I guess my own definition for empathy is to be willing to see the spirit trying in someone regardless of their circumstance.

There are different types of empathy and they boil down sometimes to the difference in being "store bought" or "homemade". The "Store bought" variety can be categorized when you acknowledge struggle of another from a brain/cognitive point of view. The "Homemade" variety is when you live in a state of connection to spirit and gratitude that your spirit is producing it's own source of Empathy, the emotional, spiritual connection with others.

Both a valid and both are good, but those who find their way to an empathetic state of being by thinking themselves there, will never experience the power of connection with the story of others through the spirit- empathetic awareness. There has long been detailed the people who take musical lessons and learn the fingering and the counting of the notes but never ever are able to convey the emotions of the pieces they play. There is a component to spirit that is lacking in them. Their dedication and study still is hard work that must have acknowledgment but they cannot interpret the passion of the piece the way that others do without trying. 

Not everyone has the capacity to feel the plight or passion of others. Being empathetic and compassion is very difficult in the aspect that if you don't learn how to manage what I believe to be spiritual gifts, they can easily overwhelm you. 

Every year I get a little angry at all the people trying to bust the door down of the Mission on 80 trying to serve "Thanksgiving and Christmas" to the unfortunate. If I worked there I would ask them, "would you consider June 3 or August 6th, we have all the compassionate folks we need for Christmas and Thanksgiving". "Can u still find it important to serve some Parker House Dinner Rolls when it isn't an act designed by you to make you feel better about yourself while doing the least amount possible".

That is an example of "Store Bought" empathy. It's too planned and calculated. Real empathy is only possible for those of us who know that, "What we have is enough", "Giving you a break" won't leave me without one, "Recognizing your struggle", won't sweep me into it and all of us have monsters two inches from our tails and most of us just no how to disguise the panic better than others.

It's long been said that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and I know personally speaking when I operate from spirit, I have no trouble at all honoring and acknowledging the struggle and pain of others. It is only when my ego and "human" concerns overshadow my gratitude that I forget that judgment is not necessary. I lose nothing, NOTHING by acknowledging your struggle and I gain a connection to spirit that cannot be found any other way.

People want to go immediately to the sick or homeless when they picture struggle. I've been aware and lucky enough to have learned to look wherever I am. I know a single mother starting to work full time for the first time in years. She's frightened and she's doing it. I know a mother who's two children are at an age where they clearly see their father can't stop drinking. I know a teenager who has to go live with relatives he didn't even know he had in order to stay out of foster care. I know old people who can't afford their medicine. I know a young girl who just realized she is obese when the kids at school pointed it out. I know several people who work as hard as long as they can and they can't pay their bills. The stories of the human condition fill the pages and the hours of the history of the world. I haven't forfeited a thing by having concern for them.

I lose nothing by seeing and validating your struggle. The Ego says I need to fix the struggle but the spirit only asks me to acknowledge 

Complex and alternately beautiful laws of God come in to play when I try to explain this inexpiable truth, we are all connected. When I honor your struggle with acknowledgement I honor my own, loving you when you make it very difficult to even like you, I gain my own self acceptance. When I honor the part of God in you, the part of God in me expands exponentially. 

Gratitude, empathy and compassion are the three ingredients that give me a good life today. They keep my spirit growing, my human side (ego) in check and they make me feel almost on a daily basis, it's all worth showing up for.

I'll end with this. When I was young I had a Beagle. It' was a sweet sweet dog without a vicious bone in it's body. One day it got hit by a car and my dad rushed out to help it and it tried to bite my dad's hand off. When we are led by pain and fear, real or imagined, all of us, are very hard to love. Empathy AND Compassion help me look beyond the ugliness of pain and see a spirit in crisis.

That helps me get through my day.

Clinton Gandy
Gladewater, Texas
I spent the whole day doing whatever I wanted to do. Ate some good food, stopped by and fixed my mom's computer and even played some keno for a couple of hours. I had a sobering thought when I sat down at home finally that came from left field, There are mother's, fathers, sisters and brothers who spent their whole day trying to get enough food to survive one more day. I'm very thankful my primary goal for the day didn't have to be find enough food for my kids to not starve to death today. I'm not sure I am built for that kind of survival mode. So what I do or don't watch on Netflix and what temperature I set the air on for bed for the night is just about as high as high class problems as they come. Color me GRATEFUL as I know how to be.
My phone's gps kind of screws me now and then, but I learned something about living more fully and peacefully from it yesterday. For reasons unknown to me, sometimes my gps decides to change languages without warning. I was trying to find a thrift store in Tyler and I was in a part of the city I had never been through. GPS went Japanese on me and I missed the turn I wanted. I fought back the urge to yell at the cheerful Asian voice coming from my phone. I looked down and the gps said, "Re-calibrating".
It was so simple. I missed the turn, I'd have to rely on another way to get to where I was going. It would be fantastic to be a human with the ability to give ourselves freely the permission to "Recalibrate" when it looks like we have missed a turn in our lives. The fact is there is probably millions of ways to get to where i want to go, but I sure can beat the hell out of myself when I miss a turn.
Re-calibrating and re-configuring are super powers we humans when we have the PRESENCE of mind to stop and adjust our little plans. One of my favorite things to tell myself when something doesn't go the way I want it to is "This story is not going to end as you want it to, move on". When I come to acceptance, that place where the fact that things are or not the way I want then ceases to be an issue. It is what it is and I have the choice of growing roots where I am or recalibrating.
Just for today, I give myself permission to re-calibrate whenever necessary and without personal judgement. "This road isn't going to take you where you want to go". Recognize that and look for the alternate route.

Monday, September 1, 2014

In the end, there will be a piece of land. A small strip of land where our lives played out on, the highs the lows, the laughs the tears. Our stories while deathly important to us in the now, in the "then" won't even be a foot note in history. The place where medals were awarded for dreams and work of a life time will rightfully be relegated to being a decaying concrete platform in the middle of an empty field like this medals podium from a former Olympics. How many things in my life that seemed like the most important thing in the world have been laughingly right sized by time and perspective. Life has a way of right-sizing all of us. Take away the TV cameras and the pageantry and human emotion and all you have left is a piece of land where a story played out on. The earth came first and it will truly tell the final tale. One strip of land where the story of Clinton Gandy unfolded, where he clomped and stomped and occasionally chewed the scenery in an epic grand opera revolving his search for significance. I don't know why I find it such an appealing idea of the future stories of strangers that will be told right where my feet are standing now. It does appeal to me though. There is peace is the idea that my story is just another human story that plays out on the planet which is the third rock from the sun. It's my story, I'm happy to have it and I"m interested in seeing how it wraps up but just to know it's no more important than yours or less important allows me to enjoy the moment of being here. I"m thankful to have cast a shadow on the earth long enough to find and accept my place on it. I'm so thankful just to have the time to tell the story, to live the story these days. I guess we all have "decaying medal platforms" where ego and pageantry prevailed. I think of painstakingly carved graffiti in wooden tables. The simple epitaph of "Clinton Was Here" scratched into the surface will be sufficient. The simple fact I got to be here is enough. The idea that billions of people saw gold and silver medals awarded on this platform and it to be now in an unkempt parcel of land really speaks volumes about humanity. I'm good with words but I can't seem to verbalize the significance of this photo to my spirit. I've looked at it a dozen times. It's haunting. I love knowing that someone elses story will play out in the apartment I live in right this minute, someone else will have the job I have this minute, I love knowing that life and land go on when I no longer am cells filled with water casting a shadow. It makes my life on a daily basis much easier to know I am not the end all be all of anything. I am properly, right sized and grateful to be , as my buddy Frank T. used say, "fully clothed and in my right mind".