Wednesday, March 30, 2011

At What Point Does Your House Own You?

I remember a camping trip that went wildly wrong years ago.  We arrived at our site after a long hike just as the weather started  to turn.  It was too late to hike back out so we pitched our tent on what would have been an idyllic spot and decided to brave whatever the night would bring.  

Not long after, the rain started.  As the sun set, the temperature dropped and the now freezing rain quickly doused what remained of our fire.  We spent that night under a tent that quickly started to leak.  We spent that night eating cold, sticky mouthfuls of the uncooked food that we had packed in.  We were miserable.

After a sleepless night we hefted our gear and packed out at first light.  We slogged our way down the trail and eventually made it to our car.  The ride home was a silent witness to our despair.  I do remember, though, that the shining moment of the entire weekend was opening the door to our home and getting hit with the warm, dry air of our living room.  We made hot cups of tea with the flip of a switch and enjoyed hot showers for what seemed like hours.  Just knowing we were safely home brought an unbelievable sense of joy.  

It was the simplest of experiments that proved the most basic of essentials could bring us untold happiness.  They would to anyone in our position.

I still don’t know if I was ten times happier at home that day or a hundred times happier.  I just know I was happier.  And here comes the tricky part.  The logical assumption one would naturally make is that if having just a house made me that much happier, then having a house twice as big should make me twice as happy.

Unfortunately that's just the kind of thinking that gets far too many people into trouble.  The first bite of a cookie brings you all kinds of joy.  But by the tenth bite, it has gone from unbelievable, to delicious, to simply good, and finally to too much.  This is called The Law Of Diminishing Returns.  It simply states that increasing a given factor [i.e., buying a larger home, taking another bite of a cookie] will result in increasingly marginal returns.  The more you bite into your cookie, the less fantastic each bite will be until in the end you can make yourself sick if you keep on eating.  The larger your home becomes, the less pleasure it gives you, until it eventually becomes so large that it ends up being more of a burden than a pleasure.

So the real question is, at what point does your home go from being a necessity, to being a luxury, and even a burden?  At what point does a tempting dessert become a gross indulgence? Unfortunately only you can answer that question.  Because only you know the reason you are buying a house, or a handbag, or a pair of shoes, or a dessert.  At some point whatever you have your eyes on goes from being a utility and bringing you 100% happiness, to being a luxury that provides you with a minimal increase in happiness, or a burden that drags you down. So the next time you think about buying something.  Take a moment to think about why you are buying it rather than just the what.  

If it is to make your life bearable [a roof over your head] then by all means buy it.  It if is to make your life easier, then think about how necessary it is before you burden yourself with another unnecessary layer of stuff [will having a $350 frying pan really make a better omelet?  Or will it just make you feel special while frying it?].  Finally, if it is something you’re buying to keep up with the Joneses and make you feel better at the next  neighborhood get-together, then take the time to love yourself just the way you are rather than undermining your value with somebody else’s logo.

Where the line is drawn is different for everyone.   So don’t judge others for what they have or why they have it.  At the same time don’t let people judge you.  Just be aware of your own “why” behind the “what” that you do.  Be mindful of the emotions that run through your body as you make the choices you do every day. That is all that should matter.   If you’re honest with yourself about what you are doing, happiness will follow.  But trying to recapture some past pleasure that you're clinging too just never works out.  Nor does listening to the call of advertisers and neighbors.  Believe it or not, they’re more than likely wrong about what YOU really want.

After all, what YOU truly want is part of your own Simple Truth.

Jeffrey Cannon
Simple Truth

Friday, March 25, 2011

Absorb The Love Of The Earth & Return it in Kind

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." ~ Khalil Gibran

This weekend take a moment to be at one with the world around you.  Find joy in the fact that the earth worships you, the wind worships you, the sun and the stars worship you.  Absorb the love of the world around you and then return it in kind.  

Realize that you are not in the air as you thought you knew it.  But swimming in a warm ocean, rising and falling on the waves that nurture you, if you allow it to.

There energy is there. It is up to you to open and accept it. 

Jeffrey Cannon
Simple Truth

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Safe Adventure of Life

We all want our lives to be a wonderful adventure.  Just not a risky one.  We like the idea of jumping off into never, but don't want to take the first step into the unknown.  So instead of taking a chance we buy a ticket to Disneyland. Instead of running into the woods just miles from our homes, we buy a ticket to some faraway city where you know a Starbucks and a Big Mac will be waiting; not that you want them, but just in case.  

Fear is a great way to excuse yourself from life.  It works on the subconscious level to generate the most logical of excuses why NOT to do something.  That way, your conscious mind tells you, it's not fear, but logic that is driving you.

Unfortunately its brother - regret - is just a few days behind.  You see, regret and fear work together very well.  Regret makes you feel bad that you didn't act.  But it also provides a moment for your brain to search for all those reasons why it was good that you did nothing.  After all, and here is the best excuse I have heard, you are still here aren't you?  

But are you here?  Are you truly aware of what you are doing?  Or are you just living life by habit and rote?  Are you just following your 40,000 year old programming without questioning the life you are leading?  Or are you taking a step away from the herd and seeing what exists for yourself - not just physically, but also emotionally.

There is a big difference between taking a small risk and living by your small fears.  But the emotional reward is night and day.  So be aware of which one is driving your choices, and start enjoying the emotions that mean you're alive.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Human Ecosystem

The world would be a better place if we were to think of ourselves as ecosystems for the soul, rather than individual people.  

An ecosystem is a defined environment.  A pond, for instance, is a unique ecosystem.  It has a unique ecology with a very defined selection of plants, animals, insects.  It also has a unique flow of interconnected energy.  The fish that feed on the insects provide nutrients to the water and surrounding soil which nourish the plants that grow in the water's edge.  The animals that come to drink the water and eat the berries leave behind even more nutrients that keep the fauna alive.  The plants in turn feed the animals and enrich the atmosphere with clean oxygen.  There is a cycle that exists around a pond that exists no where else.  

The same can be said about a section of a desert, or a forest, or a deep ocean valley.  The same can also be said about the earth, and even about us.  For each ecosystem, there is an opening to the larger world and universe that surrounds it.  An input and an outlet into the greater world.  This lets in energy from the sun and provides a release for excess energy to escape.   Usually in the form of gases which the ecosystem exhales.

Ecosystems are not rigid.  They are porous.  They allow interaction with the world around them.  In fact, they thrive on it.  That interaction enables biodiversity, which enriches the basis for life and the chance for an ecosystem to not only survive, but to evolve and flourish.

Which makes me think that we are more of an ecosystem in which our soul lives, than independent beings.  We are not individuals, but a collection of independent cells and organelles that happen to coexist in order to stay alive.  The small mitochondria that power our cells act more like individual organisms than a mindless subsection of a cell.  They do what they do for their own benefit, not for the greater good of keeping you alive.  That is just a side benefit of their own struggle to survive.

Recently we have started to pay more attention to the assemblage of microorganisms  that include bacteria, fungi and single celled organisms that live in and on our bodies.  We call archaea, and without them we would quickly die. 

In the gut alone, there are an estimated 500 to 1000 species of bacteria.  Many of which aid in digestion and in maintaining the gut.  They also act as a first-line to the body's immune system.  That means we are in a symbiotic relationship with these organism. They die, we die.  They live, we live.  They flourish, we flourish.

My point in all of this is if we understand that our physical bodies not as independent persons, but as a collective of different organisms that have banded together for the greater good, then there is a chance that we may extend this view out to the society and ecosystem that we call earth.

If we can do that, then maybe, just maybe we will start to understand that cooperation really is the way of nature, that environmental stewardship is no different than our taking vitamin C to prevent a cold or flue.  That preserving the earth's ecosystem enables us to survive.  Just as preserving our own internal ecosystems enables our souls to survive.

Jeffrey Cannon
Simple Truth

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If I don't start it today, it will never get done tomorrow.

The more I thought about some "me" projects that I didn't start last week the more I realized why.  It wasn't the scope of them, it was the fear of taking that first step.  A fear that paralyzes us all in doing things for ourselves.

Once I stopped thinking and started meditating, I realized the simple truth of my situation.  That taking that first step would get rid of all that fear I had of actually taking it.  That alone was a reason to start.  

I didn't even have to explore the fear.  Who put it on me and why was of no consequence. Where it came in to my past was irrelevant.  What I knew is that once I got rid of that layer of fear, the projects themselves would be easy.  It made me start to laugh. After all, who am I afraid of?  Myself?  They're my projects, being done by me, for me

Besides, I thought, if I don't start it today, it will never get finished tomorrow.

So here I am tomorrow, laughing and unafraid, with my personal projects under way.

Simple truth

Monday, March 14, 2011

A model, her date, a taxi and karma catching up

It was the end of Saturday afternoon and the start of Saturday night.  We were standing on the corner, near L'Express on 20th Street and Park when a taxi pulled up not twenty feet away.  A guy in his thirties got out.  Good looking and well dressed enough, but with that kind of full of himself look that makes you wonder what else he's harboring.  He stood on the curb, immediately opened his mobile and started to text.  Didn't close the door or reach back to help anyone else out.  So it kind of caught everyone's attention in a partially curious way.  

But what really caught our eyes was when the taxi door slammed shut and the yellow cab jumped into the traffic. 

He was as surprised as the rest of us.  He spun around with a look on this face.  Just in time to see the taxi screech to a stop, partially blocking traffic.  The window came down and a woman's face stretched out.  She had that model/actress/whatever look to her.  Lovely and bright and exotic. 

She screamed, "I'm sorry, but it's just not going to work out." 

No sooner than her head pop back in but the window went up and the taxi speed off into the approaching night. 

He was left to look around and see that every face on the street was staring at him.  Some in awe, some feeling his pain, some with compassion and others on the verge of laughing, but all in shock. 

Just like him.

Was it karma catching up to him?  Or just a really bad first date?

Friday, March 11, 2011

I met a blind man today who helped me see

On my way to work this morning I saw a blind man at the corner waiting to cross the street.  He called out "could somebody tell me when the light changes?"  Several shied away.  Several others nodded.  I spoke up.  He shook off my hand as I offered to guide him.  "Oh no, I can walk on my own.  I just need a pair of eyes every once in a while to tell me when the light changes." 

"Don't we all," I thought.

There but for the grace of God go I.  How this man manage to survive in a city of speeding cars and bustling people, of endless blocks where I, with 20/20 vision, get lost from time to time?  It  is beyond me.  But he does it every single day of his life.

I thought to myself, "If this man gets out of bed and comes into the streets without sight, then I have no excuses for not rising to the challenges of today." 

I thought to myself "how does he do it?"  But the answer was right in front of me.  He trusts. 

This morning a blind man helped me see. 

I thank him for that.