Friday, July 17, 2015

I Have A Dream #3 in The Divine Moment Series

On August 28, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered what has become known as the, "I have a dream speech."

His delivery and content were impeccable, proved by the fact that the presentation has stood the test of time and will continue to do so.

I'm not about to add another commentary to the words he spoke that day from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,  to over 250,000 supporters.  It's my intention to use that familiar presentation to make a point about a less familiar topic.

First, and you might think this isn't important, but bear with me and let's see:  What Dr. King shared wasn't a dream, it was a vision.  And, to digress, in my opinion it's the most powerful vision anyone of our time has ever shared.

By using the word "dream" instead of "vision" he made his vision otherworldly, since no one knows for sure where dreams come from or what prompts them.  Visions, on the other hand, are equated with personal goals or even wishes.  Hear the difference, "I have a dream..."  "I have a vision..."

In the forty-seven years since he delivered the speech hundreds of millions of us have adopted it as our "dream."  However, each of us has a slightly different, or in some cases, a totally different version of Dr. King's vision.  In fact, to use the word comparison one more time, he had a vision, from his vision we formed a personal dream.  Each of our millions of dreams have been filtered though our individual egos.  Which brings me to my point.

The Divine Moment is a powerful piece of esoteric literature that has totally impacted every facet of my life.  When It Absolutely Positively, is a commentary on the opening lines of the work.  Now, I'll share the first point following the definition, and use Dr. King's vision to assist.

"Characteristics 
of any kind or degree
of subtlety are of a kind
of "sticky" nature;
they cling to the flow
and drag attention
off center."

The subject of that paragraph is the moment - this moment - the only moment there is.  We all understand what that is.  We all know how to get there and, we all have problems staying there.  That is the problem that is being addressed.  

Our attention is dragged "off center" or out of the moment, not because we have an illness or physical defect, but because we add "subtle characteristics" to what we have experienced in the moment.  For example, what do you think of when you hear or read Dr. King's words, "I am happy to join you today..."  Hopefully not much.  Those words shouldn't generate anything of a "sticky nature," that could snatch you out of the moment.  

Now, what do you feel when you hear or read this line:  "One Hundred years later, the Negro is still not free.  One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination."  

Unless you have trained yourself to recognize and avoid "characteristics of any kind or degree of subtlety," you felt emotion and you probably felt it to the point that you were dragged off center and if not totally out of the moment, at least to its outer edge.

We are run by feelings and emotions that can be triggered by words, recollections, pictures, and actual events.  Until we are aware of that and do something about it, we will forever flit in and out of the moment, never fully knowing or experiencing its infinite beauty, peace, and deep joy.

More on that topic is coming.  Until then,

Remain steady in the Stillness.    

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Railway Man


It's been a long time since I posted a movie review.  One of the reasons for that is, our recent movie/video watching has been dominated by Law & Order.  We've started at Season One, and we are working our through a season at a time.  We're now winding up season eight (of twenty) and though we've seen almost all of them at least once, we're enjoying them again.

Sometime before I filled my Netflix queue with L&O, I added The Railway Man,  Not because of the subject matter but because it co-starred Nicole Kidman.  When The Railway Man showed up Monday, I had forgotten adding it, and the jacket didn't include the cast members, so I had no clue why I'd added it.

Since we'd almost finished all the Law & Order episodes we had in the house, I suggested to Christina that we watch the "mystery movie," for a few minutes at least.  One hour and fifty-eight minutes later we stopped watching it, and I checked to see if I could still talk. Then I managed to say, "If it's alright with you, I'm going to write a blog about it..."

This is it.

The Railway Man is based on the book by Eric Lomax.  The full title of the book is The Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness.   A bonus for us was Hiroyuki Sanada, who we fell in love with at some point during our 40+ times watching The Last Samurai (He played the character Ujio).  Just in case Hiroyuki isn't a household name at your house, that's him on the right.

Here's all you need to know about the movie to make a viewing decision.  Colin Firth plays Eric Lomax, Nicole Kidman plays Eric's wife, Patti, and Hiroyuki Sanada plays Nagase.  All of the events happened.  All of the people depicted are real.  The message is timeless and summed up better in one line from the book than I could sum it up in 10,000 words, so I won't try.  Instead, I'll share Eric Lomax's line with you -

"Sometime the hating has to stop." 

If you agree, don't miss The Railway Man.   

Monday, July 13, 2015

When It Absolutely Positively Has To... #2 In The Divine Moment Series

In the mid-eighties, I lived in Memphis, Tennessee, where I was employed by Ryder Truck Rental.  It was my third tour with this company that I loved.  I began my time with Ryder, Memphis, as an account manager.  A year or so later I became the District Sales Manager.  In my new position, I kept a few of my accounts and oversaw the sales efforts of three sales managers.

One of the accounts I retained after my promotion was FedEx.  I kept that account for three reasons.  First, FedEx is headquartered in Memphis.  Second, though not a lease customer, I was convinced they were a solid prospect to be one.  And, third, I had managed to get a national rental agreement with FedEx.  This post isn't a commercial for FedEx, though it could be.  Nor is it a commercial for Ryder Truck Rental, which it also could be.  This post is about being in the moment and the story I'm going to tell you about FedEx is a metaphor for that.

This post is also a lead in to the first installment of The Divine Moment series that I promised last week - If you missed that post and would like to read it, here's the link that will take you to it.

Now, back to Memphis, almost thirty years ago.  It took a number of visits to FedEx to finally get to the right person and quite a few more to find an area where I knew my company might assist them.  I wanted to present a lease proposal but that only came much later, after we proved we could and would do what we said we would do.

First, I had to sell FedEx on renting from us when they needed more equipment than they owned.  The agreement I sold was a standard agreement with one exception.  It specified that if one of our rental units broke down we would not send a service truck to attempt to repair it where it was disabled.  We would instead, without delay, send a wrecker to the disabled unit.  The wrecker would then tow the disabled vehicle to it's destination.

Payment for that service wasn't an issue.  In fact, payment was never an issue.  The only issue was speed.  You see, "When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be There Overnight", was the mission statement that built the company, before it was their advertising slogan.

It costs a lot more money to send a wrecker to a disabled vehicle than it does to send a service truck, and it a costs a whole lot more to have the wrecker tow the vehicle to a location that isn't one of your service facilities.

Because such a provision went against standard, logical procedure, I had to work harder to sell my people on the special provision in the FedEx Rental Agreement and even harder to ensure it was implemented, than I worked to sell FedEx.  In fact, all I had to do to sell FedEx was convince them that we would do what I said we would do.  That is the difference between advertising and being.   Or, in other words, that's the difference between a way of life and empty rhetoric and that brings me to the point of the post.

The Divine Moment, begins:

This moment is it.
There is no better moment
than this one.

The FedEx version might well be:

This moment is absolutely,
positively, the only moment there is.
Do not waste time waiting on a better one
or daydreaming about a historic one.

Come back Thursday for the next lesson from The Divine Moment.

  


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

And It All Boils Down To #1 in the Divine Moment Series

I've been on a mission since I was five years old.  Today I'm close to my seventy-third birthday.  I'll save you the calculation.  That's a sixty-eight year mission and it's not complete yet.  I suppose my mission has a completion date, but I'm not privy to that information.  On the other hand, recently I've come to believe there are more rules to my mission than I suspected when I set out on it, rules that change the concept of completion dates and other things, but that's another whole story.

This post is just a brief update on the status of the mission along with enough information for you to Google a point or two and maybe amuse yourself for while.  

Or, if you're on a similar mission, you might want to spend a bit more time following the points I'm about to lay down.

This is not a religious statement because I'm not religious, not any more.  I was born into a religious family which lived in a religious part of the world.  For a time, I wanted to be a missionary and for a number of years I was a minister.  For a long time, a lot of people told me I had made a difference in their lives, and for a while I actually believed them.  Then I got it that I can't make more of a difference in anyone's life than they are willing to have a difference made there.  I pondered that and realized that if a person wants a change, they will find a way to do it whether I'm there or not.  That was a big relief, because I'm on a mission, and it's not about making a difference in anyone's life but mine.

 The Mission is simple.  I want to know God, or Allah, or Jehovah, or The One, or  whatever you choose to call the force that created all that is.  There's never been a doubt in my mind that my mission is doable, and I know I'm getting closer to my objective.  There have been many wrong turns, a lot of misinformation, and a number of false prophets, still I've made a lot of progress, though I can't quantify that for you in any way other than a statement of knowing that it is so.

The booklet I'm going to tell you about in a moment speaks more eloquently to that situation:

A mark of progress
at one stage
is an obstacle at the next.
You cannot note when
(or how much)
you have progressed toward 
any liberation...
only discern your limitations
less and less.   

Without a guide, mentor, or teacher, I've had to rely on books.  I just did some quick, conservative, calculations on the number of books I've read, which doesn't include The Bible (which I've read through a number of times) or all of the versions of The Tao I've read (one I've copied by hand three times), and here's what I've concluded:  In fifty years of reading, twenty esoteric books per year, with an average of 50,000 words per book, I've read fifty million words.  

The irony of that is that everything I've read and studied, EVERYTHING, is covered in great detail in The Divine Moment, a 900 word booklet written by Pama Rab Sel (James Lane Prior - born in Deland, Florida in 1928 - died in Kathmandu, Nepal in 1990.)  Though I never met Pama Rab Sel, I've walked and talked and laughed with him since we met in a bookstore in Huntington Beach, California in 1993.

The Divine Moment is long out of print, however, if you want to chase a used copy here's a link to the only one I found on the web - it gives the pertinent search info.

I'm thinking about blogging about the key points in Pama Rab Sel's amazing work, mostly for my gratification.  You're more than welcome to follow along and add comments - or not.

The Divine Moment begins this way -

This moment is it.
There is no "better" moment 
than this one.

Later I'll tell you how it ends.




Thursday, July 2, 2015

If Given A Choice

Given a choice between "Be happy," and "Have a blessed day," two expressions that are often used in my part of the world, I'll take BE HAPPY every time and I'll take it without hesitation.

You may think I'm not religious, and if you think that, you're right.  But, that isn't why I choose happy over blessed.

"Have a blessed day," has, at best, an element of luck or wistfulness built in to it.  At worst, it involves a payoff for my being holy, or sacred, or whatever one needs to do to be blessed.  In other words, if I do "good" I could possibly be "blessed."

The other choice, "Be Happy," doesn't involve chance, outside powers, or fairy dust.   It's all about me and how I choose to be.  I can BE HAPPY, or I can be something other than than happy.

That's why I always choose HAPPY.


Be happy!





Monday, June 29, 2015

Nocturnal Athletes

There is a large group of athletes who receive little attention in our sports crazed world, and I've been one of them for more than thirty-six years.

Actually, I'm not talking about practitioners of a particular sport but rather athletes who practice their sport at a particular time - nighttime.  

The good folks at Noxgear call that larger-than-you'd-think group, Nocturnal Athletes.

In 1979, I lived in Laurel, Mississippi, where I was the managing partner of an auto dealership.  A good portion of my day was spent smoking and worrying about the less than healthy state of the auto industry and, in particular, my dealership.  On July 1st, my Office Manager, who also smoked while worrying about our financial situation, suffered a heart attack that a few days later took her life.  We were the same age.  That woke me up.  Just after dark, on July 6th, 1979, I flipped my last ever cigarette into the gutter and hop-stepped into my first run.

Now, thirty-six years later, I still run.  I run about the same distance as I was running in 1980, 35 - 40 miles a week, only I'm slower than I was in those marathon days.  My conservative guess is that I've run well over 30,000 miles and almost every mile of it has been run at night.  I've had falls, near misses, and a couple of not-near-not-misses.  

Early on, I discovered the need for a flashlight and, ever since making that discovery, I've been equipped with the smallest, brightest one available.  But that isn't always enough to alert motorists to my presence.  I've had to dive off the road more times than I can count and, as I alluded to in the previous paragraph, I've been brushed twice by cars, both events were accompanied by shouts of "Sorry, I didn't see you."

Thanks to Simon Curran, Tom Walters, and Sarah Fredley, I'm convinced I'll never hear that statement again.  Simon and Tom invented the Tracer360, the ultimate safety device for us nocturnal athletics, and their associate, Sarah Fredley, got me fitted with the right size in amazingly quick time.

Simon and Tom didn't invent the Tracer360 for me - they just got tired of running into each other as they played with their Frisbee in the dark, but I knew when I spotted a Tracer360 in my local running store that they had, in fact, invented it for me.  Without so much as looking twice at the box, which was clearly marked with a large "S," I headed for the house and waited for the sun to go down.  It finally did, and I strapped on my Tracer360, idly thinking as I did, that it would have been nice if they had made it a bit larger

Seven miles later, still marveling at the fact that drivers saw and avoided me and still thinking it would help if it were a bit larger, I noticed the "S" on the package.  I emailed the help department with my sad story and got a faster than light response from Sarah Fredley.  I've never dealt with a more efficient customer service rep, and in 72 years, I've dealt with quite a few.  Within a hour, my new M/L belt was on the way to me.  

I emailed Sarah to ask her if it would be alright if I wrote a blog about my Tracer360.  She wrote YES! so emphatically, I swear I heard it.  Then she added, 

"We would love to go ahead and extend a discount to your followers. Use: BERT20 on our site (www.noxgear.com) in order to save 20% on the Tracer360 or the Tracer360+! Please feel free to include that in your blog as well! I have attached a graphic for you if you would like to use it! I went ahead and made the discount good through October 31st, so hopefully some more people can benefit from the Tracer!

So, if you are a Nocturnal Athlete of any sort and would like to be seen, here is your chance to make that happen.  

Oh yes, watch the video to see the Tracer360 in action.  Be patient, it takes me a while to show up, I'm not as fast as I once was - until I get there, enjoy Elvis' entrance music.

video

And, be safe running, skate boarding, Frisbee flying, bicycling, water skiing,  bungee jumping, or what ever sport you practice at night.



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Probably



"You'd have probably made it if you hadn't blown the right rear tire."

I struggled to open my eyes. If he noticed it didn't stop his monologue.

"Yep, you blew it totally off the rim. I looked for it, but I couldn't find it. Hell, how fast were you going?"

I guess he didn't expect an answer because he kept talking.

"You must have been going over eighty. If you were, that's a new record you know?"

He paused and though I wasn't able to open my eyes, I managed to say, "Eighty-four when I locked into it."

If he was surprised that I had managed to talk or that I had almost topped our best record for Fisher's Curve by five miles per hour, he didn't let on.

"Too bad it won't count, but I've got to give it to you for guts."

That got my eyes open. Joe's my best friend, but even he will tell you that he doesn't give many compliments. I agree with that and would add, you have to listen close to hear the ones he does give. I didn't miss that one.

"Thanks," I said.

He just snorted, then brought me up to speed on the part of the evening that I'd lost.

"I was listening on the police scanner when Sergeant Griggs finally admitted that he'd lost you. In fact, when the dispatcher pushed him he had to admit he never got close enough to you to get a tag number so that one will go in the book as a draw."

I interrupted. "I wish it had been a draw. What about the car?"

"You lucked out there, Kid. I didn't check it too close, but I'm pretty sure there is no major damage. I got it in the barn and told Aunt Ethel you must have gone to sleep at the wheel again. She didn't buy it, but she knew I'd stick to the story so that's where that is. Now tell me about the Showdown."

Showdown is our term for challenging Jimmy Griggs, the dumbest Florida Highway Patrolman in the entire history of the Florida Highway Patrol.

There are only three players in Showdown, me, Joe, and Officer Griggs. Joe and I know the rules. Griggs doesn't even know it's a game. We play two or three nights a week when I'm home. I work on an oil rig off the Mississippi coast. Thirty days on. Thirty days off. Griggs thinks I'm involved because I'm always home when we "call him out," but he isn't sure and he won't be unless he catches one of us. Which is the point.

When we are ready for a Showdown, we flip a coin to see who finds Jimmy. The loser is the hunter, the winner, tonight that was me, calls Jimmy out. When Joe lost the flip, he complained that the toss was rigged, like he always does, then he got in his Plymouth Golden Commando, fired up the 426 Hemi engine, gave me a thumbs up and drove away from the barn. When he was out of sight, I opened the barn doors, turned on the lights and admired the ruby red Fiero sitting in the middle of the shop. Seconds later, I'd pulled it outside, closed the barn doors, and stopped under the low limbs of the towering live oak tree. With the engine idling and the gauges all riding in the green, the CB, turned to channel 5, a little used frequency that we thought of as our private channel, came to life and Joe's voice boomed into the Pontiac. "He's working."

That meant that Jimmy's cruiser wasn't at his house and more than likely he was running radar in one of his three or four favorite spots. I clicked the transmit button to let Joe know that I'd received the message.

Eight minutes later, Joe said, "Mud bottom. No traffic. He's probably sound asleep."

I clicked the transmit button, slipped the short shifter into first gear and engaged the clutch. At the farm road that runs past Aunt Ethel's place, I turned right. Two miles later I slide to a stop at the stop sign on County Road 347. There wasn't a car in sight in either direction. I turned left, and began working up through the gears, fully aware that the performance exhaust system could be heard almost a mile away on a quiet night and this was about as quiet as a night gets around here.

Joe had spotted Jimmy backed into a turn-out a half mile away.

My train of thought was interrupted when Joe, almost shouting, said, "if you don't tell me I'm going to be beat it out of you."

I laughed, "Sorry about that. It started out like a regular showdown. I planned on passing the turn-out at 105 to 110 miles an hour. My headlights had just picked out the turn-out when Jimmy, who wasn't asleep like we'd figured, hit his blue lights and began pulling out. He was going to block the road, which would have got us both killed, but I was past him before could get onto the blacktop.

Even though his cruiser had the horses on the Fiero, I knew he'd never catch me. The only thing I sweated was the ground I'd lose at Fisher's curve. You remember the night you took the Golden One through there at eighty and set the record?

"Yep," he grunted as he motioned for me to get on with the story.

I grinned, "Well, I decided I's blow Jimmy away and set a new Fisher's curve record at the same time. I held it on 110 until the last second, braked down to eighty-five, went low and let it drift toward the top. About the same time I remembered you telling me I should replace the rear tires, the right one blew. I might as well have been a passenger after that.  The Red Bird shot off the road and the embankment toward the woods.  The only good thing about it was Jimmy didn't see the tread marks where I lost it.

We sat in the silence of the sleeping hospital for a long time. Finally Joe said again, "You'd have probably made it if you hadn't blown that tire."

I nodded and said, "Thanks."

There probably should be a point to this blog, but as near as I can tell, the point is, this is what happens when I go too long without writing something.  I'll try to do better in the future.