LukeyoutheU Essay 6
How one's attitude, one's mindset, can make all the difference
Two weeks ago today, after a productive morning and afternoon, I got into my car, and decided to have a positive attitude for what laid ahead. I drive, part-time, for a Transportation Network Company. Let's call the company Lyuberdidi. It is one of those where riders request a ride on a phone app and, like magic, a car and driver appear, ready to take the rider to their destination for a very reasonable rate.
Typically, it takes me three nights of driving four to five hours to gross the $114 required for my car's weekly lease payments, That week, though, I needed to make the money in two nights. I set my goal for that Friday evening at $60. It was a doable but also ambitious goal. Only maybe five times in the nine months I'd been driving had I taken in $60 or more in a single evening.
I know from my life experience that attitude is important. I've built in myself, over the years and through the good, unexciting, and difficult times, a positive mindset. Not always do I remember or have a good attitude but, often, I do. I tell myself that God/ Source/ Universe, That Which Is, Life, however you call it (these are the things I call it) is for me. It turns out, by and large, I see good acted out in my life, as if it's true.
One of the other things I know is that I am an active participant in nearly all the good that I experience. At the very least, I have to show up, physically and/ or mentally, for me to be aware of good happening. The Universe and I are not independent of one another; I am, in fact, a part of it. So it is with you, too.
In any event, I got ready. I got ready in my mind, and I got ready by my actions. I filled the gas tank. Vacuumed the car. Opened the app, and started driving at 4:50pm.
I voiced my desire out loud, in the car, for $60. No one else was listening or needed to. I asked the Universe for good, engaging riders. And for long trips on the highway. Long highway trips are where I make the most money.
I'd rather have a good conversation with a rider than not, but I am also okay with not talking. I gauge riders at the beginning of the trip. If the rider gets into the front seat, it's a pretty good bet they want to talk (but not always). About a half of my riders are interested. I make initial queries of "How's your day so far?" and "What radio station would you like?" and "Tell me if you'd like it colder or hotter." On setting out this day, I decided not to go into tales about how I was making very little money driving, if anyone should ask me about how it is to drive for Lyuberdidi. I'm usually asked two or three times a night.
There were no philosophical discussions on that day. I do so enjoy discussing metaphysics and the meaning of life! But the evening's drive was good nonetheless.
My first ride was the best. I picked up a couple, a man and a woman, from their home. They were going to the large casino in the town next to mine. Along the way, I found out from the man about the use of water-based paints versus solvent-based paints in auto body repair. Temperature makes a big difference. He works in a "tin box," as he calls it, without air conditioning. No AC because the paint needs to dry. Two weeks ago Friday the temperature got to 104F. It was, honestly, interesting stuff. Different regulations for Sacramento and Placer Counties but why? (I live in Placer County; Sacramento County is adjacent, and to the southwest.) We speculated. There so many intriguing tidbits in every job done well.
I was then, after a brief discussion about music, asked about where I was from, how I got to Rocklin, etc. I abbreviated my story.
"It's tough," he said afterward. His response caught me by surprise. I hadn't made my story an heroic or pity-me one, just gone over some basic facts of the past few years in a light-hearted manner. On thinking about it then, briefly, very briefly, it was kinda tough. My life was a bit tough. Life itself is tough, sometimes.
But the words that came out of me, almost immediately, were: "Yeah, it's tough. But talking about it does no good. It just makes it tougher still." He nodded in agreement. "We live better than kings did a hundred years ago in many ways," I added. He said, "Even fifty."
I felt not discouraged but encouraged from the "tough" remark. Yes, life is tough. Sometimes. But so what? Am I going to let circumstance get me down? Is not every situation a chance to know ourselves and the Universe better? Life is tough, sometimes. It is also good.
So good to concentrate on the good.
A few minutes later, at the end of the 13 minute, 5.5 mile ride ($5.77 for my portion of the fare), he touched my shoulder, said something like, "Have a good day, man." Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he handed me a five dollar bill and got out. A tip.
I felt respected, alive, useful, appreciated. All from from a thirteen minute conversation and a thoughtful five dollar tip.
I had longer dives and longer conversations that day but that was the biggest tip, and the most meaningful talk. (I received two more tips. Medium French Fries from a Libertarian who worked at a school. And two dollars for a short $3.17 trip from a black t-shirted and shorted young guy maybe twenty-two years old. He reeked of smoke, had black, should-length hair, and nails painted a bright shade of blue. He took Lyuberdidi to go and pick up his father from a local bar. He'd drive his father's truck back so his pops wouldn't be driving.)
At around 9:15pm, I called it a night, 68.51 dollars later, not including the $7 in tips. $8.51 over the goal!
Attitude makes a huge difference. Maybe, sometimes, the difference.
The next day, I made my $45 goal to finish the week. Was home before ten.
LukeyoutheU Essay 5
I set aside a couple of hours to write today but events, people, and circumstance kept getting in the way. First it was the bathroom ceiling fan. It was humming loudly and effectively, as it normally does, drawing in air just fine. But this afternoon (I pretended it was for the first time), I noticed that the vent was covered with dust. I immediately set to remedy the situation. Taking some of the paper available to me, I stood on the toilet, stepping up to clean. The paper pushed the dust balls around but did not adequately remove them; I decided cotton swabs would do a more thorough job. They did but still left dust in the corners. I figured out how to remove the cover. Gingerly, I squeezed the supporting wires, wires that I thought might snap off if I was not careful. I took the plastic cover down and rinsed it in sink. Dried it off. Put it back where it belonged. Turned back on the fan, which operated as before. Done.
Where was I? Oh, right: writing. Have I had enough to eat? I checked in with my stomach and it turned out I had. But first I needed to complete my prayers. Did. I wonder if this is a good time to call X? Sent a text. It was! He'd be good to talk in fifteen minutes. I went on Facebook to bridge the time.
And so it went. As it has dozens (more honestly hundreds) of times before. I found reasons, good enough reasons, to delay what I knew knew knew was the most important thing for me to do.
Writing may or may not be the most important thing for you to do, dear reader. (Whether it is or isn't, I do recommend the pain/ joy of writing as an effective way of finding out what one thinks.) Your most important thing doesn't have to be writing. It could be cleaning the house or bathroom fan, or calling that friend; or being on time for your job, earning money at your job; perhaps it is taking care of your child by watching her today at her first basketball game. Or working on that painting, or fixing that dinner; or going to the dentist and finally getting that bothersome tooth checked out.
What's the most important thing for me to be doing (writing) has often been pushed to the side. I've had a tendency to say to myself, and to others, that writing is the most important thing for me to do but then, hours later, catch myself not actually do it. As if by proclaiming it the most important I somehow get out of doing it. I've promised myself, and others, but haven't delivered. This repeating action, of course, makes the situation worse than if I hadn't promised myself, or others, in the first place. It makes me, at best, undependable; and, at worst, a liar. A liar to myself, and others.
I believe myself a writer. I've got the "be" of "be-lieve" down: I've told myself since I was fifteen (and others) that "I am a writer." I have not greatly followed through with the "lieve" part, though. Isn't that what belief, be-lief, be-live is about? Believing in thought and action both? Thinking and then also doing?
I have to write. It is my most important thing. What I write I want to be of use to others. To be of use to you, dear reader, to you now reading this. A particular piece or even the sum of what I've ever written may or may not be of use to you, or others. Ever. But I have to write because it is the most important thing for me to do. The most important for me and the most important for my relationship with the Universe.
Is writing why I am primarily here? I, most of me, when I'm in a good mental space, think so.
My question to you, and I ask because you are smart enough and self aware enough to consider: what is the most important thing for you to be doing? What do you believe, be-live? Are you being and living it?
LukeyoutheU Essay 4
I've seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story twelve times now. It is, in my opinion, one of the best in the Star Wars series. Right up there with the original and The Empire Strikes Back.
Why do I think Rogue is so good? (SPOILER ALERT) Because it begins, and ends, and along the way nurtures hope.
Hope is not a thing that exists without us but something we cultivate within us. It's something that humans create, foster, and need. Hope brings opportunities for better life for us as individuals and for us as a species.
Hope is a mighty path. I'm speaking here about hope not only in thought but also in action. The psychological states of happiness, joy, and love are desired by most (probably including you). None can be reached without first hope. Hope is the base. Hope that whatever a given situation is, or looks like, that the situation can be made better. A better which may require great cost but is worth the expense even if we ourselves don't see the end results.
I've had bouts of little hope during these past months of political turmoil. There have been months of not writing much at all, and times when my physical and/ or psychological lives have been at risk. Life as I know it, my life, the life of the nation and its continued goodness, are not assured. But there is hope.
Let me expand on that. Human life, my human life and your human life, their continued participation in the goodness, are not assured. Life itself, well, life is assured. It will continue, in some form, with or without us. With or without the human species. Life is winning; it has won.
The question we have a role in answering is how long we humans will participate in life and at what level of quality. The question for each of us, including you, dear reader, is how long and in what quality you will participate in life in general, and in your life, in particular.
I ask you to have, hold, and create hope. Hope lived out in thought and action both.
LukeyoutheU essay 3
Years ago, I visited a friend in Boston. She and her husband had recently moved to a then unfashionable part of the city, to a part which was tucked away from most of their friends. The move allowed them the chance to make additional friends and to experience a different slice of life. It was a lifestyle choice which gave them more interior space both psychologically and physically.
Their new-to-them flat had plenty of old-world charm. I remember it having beige walls and darkly-stained wainscoting, wood trim, high ceilings, and hardwood floors.
On the day of my visit, we were buzzed into the flat. (Someone else arrived or came with me, I feel certain, but I don’t recall who.) We walked inside and up the stairs to what I guessed was the main living area. No sign of our hostess. It felt like a minute or two passed though it was probably not more than thirty seconds before, all of a sudden, my friend rushed in from another room. Her face was aglow (which, in my experience, it often was). She beamed full of something as she walked towards us. (I dimly remember a couple of others also being there, waiting.) I wanted to know, probably all of us did, what was causing her liveliness.
She surprised us (well, me at least) by talking about the preposition "in." About how great it was. About how important it was. About how such a small word (here she held her thumb and index finger nearly touching to indicate tininess) can make such a big difference.
It was the start of prepositional awareness for me. Thank you, L., for many things, including introducing me to the power of prepositions.
Prepositions are typically short words, and, I think, often overlooked. Who besides possibly some grammarians regularly considers the words in, on, to, or by? Other, longer prepositions do make more of a statement: with, against, and beyond, for example. Still, they’re just prepositions. No matter how big they are (and I will admit throughout is a big one) how important, in the abstract, can they be? It's not like they're the subject or the verb of a sentence. One uses prepositions, certainly, and knows what they mean, but how could they be that important that my friend got all flushed? They have utility, yes, but what do they have compared to nouns, especially proper nouns? Nouns are nice and solid and often specific; nouns we can point to and almost always agree on. A chair, a throne, the throne of England. And what about verbs? Verbs are engaging words, full of external action or internal feeling. There’s an inborn excitement in motion, be it outside or inside us. Run, put, seem, know. But prepositions? They're plain Jane connectors. They’re just, well, there. They have utility, sure. It'd be tough to live without them, I'll agree. Kind of like doors. Doors are useful but how often do I think about doors? Now, wait a minute, I say to myself as I follow the metaphor. A door can be the opening to a whole new world...
I wonder if prepositions, if these often little and typically overlooked words don't serve a mighty and important role in life. A preposition, after all, demonstrates how the speaker/ writer/ song composer/ poet/ thinker/ person in the inside of her head believes objects are connected to other objects. How verbs connect with things. Don’t run to scissors has a very different meaning than Don't run with scissors. Prepositions show what the relationship of something/ some action is with another thing/ action.
So what's this mental jaunt got to do with you, dear reader? A big deal, in at least one circumstance.
I suggest this: that the prepositions you use to connect with life tell/ inform you/ help create how you relate to your life. The quality of the life you live. What you have/ can give to others.
Here's the sentence I would like you to consider. I ask you to apply, to choose the preposition that best reflects what you believe about your life right now.
“Life is [insert preposition] me.”
Go ahead. Think of prepositions and put them in.
Potential prepositions include: beyond, to, on, against, of, through, in, within, for, with. (There are about 150 prepositions in English. These are ones that come to my mind now.)
Life is beyond me.
Life is happening to me.
Life is against me.
Life is on me.
Life is because of me.
Life is through me.
Life is in me.
Life is within me.
Life is for me.
Life is with me.
As for me, I favor the last two understandings/ beliefs:
Life is for me.
Life is with me.
In the past, when something I didn't want to happen happened, I often toyed with the equivalent of life is against me. I very well may have been justified in that thinking in some situations. Nine out of ten people may have agreed with my rightness. It may have been “true.” I’m sure I found/ could find evidence to support that in my life at the time, life was against me.
But what good did that do? Thinking life is against me didn't feel good. It also didn't move me into a better situation. Frequently, I’d just felt worse and worse whenever I thought that way. I'd begin to feel sorry for myself. Self-pity, while perhaps at times understandable, is rarely, if ever, in my experience, useful. In that state, with that thinking, I found myself becoming increasingly upset at the “obvious” injustice of other people toward me. The clear and verifiable “wrongness” of the world at large. Had the idea that life was against. The result? Oh, I remained angry for a good long time. I built a storehouse of anger of how I'd been “wronged.” Often smiling on the outside, inside I was a lot of hurt.
Trouble is, having a storehouse of anger means that’s where I’d go if I wanted something to eat. Holding, keeping anger usually led only to my having more anger. Not so good for people, not anyone. Least of all me.
Changing the prepositions of my life made a big difference. The progression, made over months and years (it need not take nearly so long for you) went something like this:
Life is against me. A belief which resulted in a storehouse of anger.
Life is on me. Life is going to happen whether I like it or not. A reason to give up.
Life is in me. "Well," I thought, "I am alive." I have tried, unconsciously, in the past, to throw my life away by doing stupid things. But life would not have it. I would not have it. I pulled back into the acceptance, then the relief, that I was going to be alive for as long as I was alive so I might as well enjoy it. That life wanted me to live. How did I know that life wanted me to live? Easy! I was alive.
The vast majority of us, I suspect, want to live. Certainly you, dear reader, do. You believe, at least somewhere inside of you, that your life can get better. Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this essay.
We can think differently. You can think differently. We can change our prepositions. You can change your prepositions. We can do things to improve the experience we have, day by day, and that others have, day by day, of and in life.
Nobody else though, finally, can do the job for us. Not totally. It's up to us, you and me, individually, dear reader. Others can help. I hope and intend to be helping here. Finally, though, it's an inside job.
Life is within me. No matter how much or how little you have, you have life. If you're breathing and reading and thinking about the prepositions in your life, you have life within you. Life is good and it can always get better, in some fashion or way, as long as we're alive. If may or may not be able to get physically better, perhaps not right now or ever. But it can always get mentally better. We can think more helpful and useful thoughts. If you can't, go see a cognitive therapist. A good cognitive therapist can help you reign in and learn to discipline your thoughts. If you really can’t, cannot, can not think differently, or will not, you’ve made your choice. You are, in a way, marking time. Time until your physical body ceases in its current state. When we're dead (and we are all headed that way), there's not much to worry about, is there. That's when one really cannot think (or act) differently.
But that’s not your case.
Right now, in this instant, there is life within you. Use it. Live it.
Life is for me. Life is with me. Once one gets to this level of understanding, once one gets to this belief, once one chooses and decides that life is for me: Wow! Then great things can/ do happen. Mostly on the inside, where it’s most important; and, increasingly, I find, on the outside, too. One feels better. You’re not a worthless object even if you've felt like one at times in the past. You are a worthwhile human being (who is also an object) who can be worth more. To yourself and others.
Thinking better about oneself, using the more useful prepositions, helps one to be kinder to oneself and to others. Which helps oneself and others to act more kindly toward oneself and toward others. It’s the creation of a virtuous cycle of potentially increasing good.
Difficult situations which will/ may arise are faced with hope. And hope can turn the tide. By thinking this way, that life is for me, life is with me, you will build up a storehouse of saying yes to life. Of believing it’s good and thereby helping to make it objectively so.
Dear reader, I ask you to consider the prepositions of your life. It's the connection we decide to apply to the things, situations, relationships, people of our lives which changes our relationship with them. Decide, and make, changes for your obvious good.
Against, to, for, with or some other preposition. Choose wisely.
“Life is [insert preposition here] me.”
LukeyoutheU Essay 2
I make what some consider (myself included) delicious scrambled eggs. They have a complexity of taste which pleases and satisfies, and unexpectedly so. How can scrambled eggs taste this good? They are, I’m not kidding you, almost like dessert. People have spoken rapturously about my eggs.
It was by accident that I discovered how to make/ create them. I’d been put in charge of a friend of a friend, and was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to make a good-tasting and hearty breakfast. I am no chef. I know how to cook perhaps twenty things well, and the majority of those are from microwavable bags. I did not know at the time that creating delicious scrambled eggs by anyone, let alone me, was possible. Nor that it was a repeatable talent that I would soon add to my life skill set.
On that day, in my dashing about, putting in toast, getting out the silverware and plates, and all the while holding a conversation with someone I wanted to impress, I got kind of distracted in cooking the eggs. I’d greased the pan with the appropriate spray, cracked the eggs and broken their yolks just fine; but I’d left them there, heat on, unscrambled, forgetting them for a minute or two. Kept on listening and talking and pouring I’ve-forgotten-what to drink. Then I remembered the eggs. Sprinted to the pan. In my absence, the clear of the eggs had become opaque. The yellow of the broken yolk juice was on its way to gold.
“Yikes!” I thought. “I’m too late.”
I had not followed the right, the usual sequence. I’d meant to mix the eggs, milk, and cheese all at once, in the pan, at the beginning of the process. Stir them together good. I knew from experience that a yellow, monochromatic liquid would result. It’s the stuff scrambled eggs, to my knowledge at the time, were made of.
I wanted to impress this friend of a friend, as I said, and my friend, so I kept smiling. I thought, I’m not going to let him know anything’s wrong. That I may have ruined the main portion of his meal. Let’s go with the flow, I decided.
Our introductory chitchat continued. I added milk and sprinkled shredded cheese on the not-yet fried eggs. Moved the mixture around, flipped portions, to be sure all would cook. But, I note, I did not try to force it all to be evenly cooked. Parts stayed a fluffy light yellow. Others became a slightly-overcooked brown. A country breakfast, rough at the edges, I told myself. Unlike the scrambled eggs I’d seen and made before, the eggs whites stood out in color and texture from the egg yellows. The milk made the mixture noticeably lighter. The cheese had seemed to disappear.
I presented the end result like I knew what I was doing. I will say that the breakfast looked really good. Buttered bread cozied up against the steaming eggs. There was fruit, if I recall correctly: a few raspberries on the plates. (I may be making the raspberry part up.) I don’t drink coffee and am not sure the friend of a friend did either, or maybe he did. The point is that the breakfast looked quite appetizing. Did it, and especially the eggs, also taste good? I didn’t yet know.
My friend’s friend is gracious and polite. Even accounting for that, though, the response was encouraging. He loved them! So did I.
We dug in. It was a scrumptious meal. I’m sure our good and easy conversation, even as we moved to more substantial topics, the fact that we were getting along well, added to our appreciation of the food. I’ve got to say, though, that Jake’s Adult Scrambled Eggs (I’ll explain the name in a bit) were a hit. A big hit. My friend’s friend raved about them. I thought, you know what, he’s right! They are good, very good. I can taste them now as I write to you, dear reader. Yum.
I won points with my friend’s friend, and with my friend, that day. In fact, my friend’s friend subsequently also became my friend. He might have/ would probably have become my friend without the great eggs. Who knows? The eggs didn’t hurt, though, I’ll say that much. So I’m going to think that everything worked together for the good. For the obvious good.
Here's the good in addition to the good eats: these scrambled eggs have also given me a useful analogy with which I can better understand life. My life, and Life, in the Big Picture. Don’t you, dear reader, love it when life presents a richness and newness of understanding you didn’t have before? And sometimes from objects you’ve known, or situations you’ve been in, for years?
I’ve had opportunities to make the eggs for my friends since then, and for the children of my friends. The adults appreciate them. The kids don’t. That’s part of the reason they’re called, “Jake’s Adult Scrambled Eggs.” The kids would rather have the usual kind of scrambled eggs. Maybe most people in the world would rather have the usual kind. They’d rather have scrambled eggs where the ingredients make a soup, end up as a single color and texture when done. Perhaps they’ve decided, like many adults, that it’s better for them to stick only with the tried and true. Scrambled eggs that taste, to me, anyway, extraordinarily bland. Eggs I don’t eat unless the not eating of them is impolite.
Ha! I think to myself, how I’ve changed!
As a kid, I remember my parents telling me that I was going to eat eggs, and then ask me what kind I’d like. But giving only two options. Scrambled? Or fried? I invariably choose scrambled. Uniformly bright, yellow, clustered scrambled eggs. How I would not eat or even try eggs prepared differently. How I was repulsed by even the look of the fried eggs, with their runny yolk when he cut into them, that my father so enjoyed.
Here’s the connection between the eggs and Life: the ingredients of Jake’s Adult Scrambled Eggs are the same as other scrambled eggs.
We have, the vast majority of us, much of the same ingredients in our lives: we eat, sleep, relate, work, play.
We all have, in some form or another, food, like eggs, milk, and cheese. Staples. The ordinary.
It’s what we do with what we have, and the way we do it, the sequencing, the timing, the attitude, the connections with others, which makes life different. Special. I would suggest, better. Like the eggs. With improvement, betterment, the new can come to us, even when we have years behind us. Even when others our age, others older, or younger, have given up hope.
I call them Adult Scrambled Eggs because probably most kids won’t appreciate them. I call them Adult because only those adults willing to move from what they’ve always known, only those willing to try a different understanding of how they experience the same old ingredients, are in a position to move on in their lives. To, yes, experience the same old things anew, as new. As well as the New.
What does this have to do with you directly, dear reader? What, in God’s name, has this got to do with your life?
Well, first of all, if you’d like to try the way I make scrambled eggs, contact me. I’ll send you the recipe. I have step-by-step instructions including the materials needed. You can contact me on my site here or at www.LukeyoutheU.com/contact, if the link doesn't work.
There’s a second and bigger meaning for you, also, if you’ll receive it: sequence matters, and can make things new. We’re all of a certain age. (I’m assuming that pretty much everybody reading this post is older than, say, sixteen at the youngest, and that most of us have a couple or many decades under our belts.) We’ve seen things. We’ve lived some life. We’ve probably gotten, most of us, to the point where we may be tempted to think that there’s nothing new under the sun. That we know, pretty much, how life works. "Sure, there are 'new' things," I can hear a couple of your grouse. "But aren’t they just old things in this and that way and so not new, after all?" One can take that perspective. One will also reap the rewards of it.
Here’s my point with the Jake’s Adult Scrambled Eggs example: one can take the same ingredients, essentially the same amount of time and effort, and produce different results. Yes, we all know things, have experienced things. But our understanding and experience, even of the same things, the same situations, the same people, the same circumstances need not always and only be the same. When the ingredients are added and how they’re added and cared for can change the result. Make life better, your life better. Even in something as simple and commonplace as making scrambled eggs. And in more complex and important matters, too.
This is my second blog for LukeyoutheU and I look forward to more. I’m committing to publishing a blog about weekly for the next year. (I say “about weekly” because there are going to be weeks I take off.) I expect the blog to be an expansive and learning experience for me, and, I hope, also for my readers. Perhaps for you.
Please join me on the adventure. You can subscribe to LyU blogs and other LyU updates here (which takes you to www.LukeyoutheU.com/subscribe) or by selecting the black button labeled, “Subscribe.” The button is on the blog page, and it's also in the footnotes at the bottom of almost every page on the site.
Thanks! And I hope for many, many happy “accidents” in your life.
LukeyoutheU essay 1
Life is an invitation. You don't have to enjoy it, to in-joy it, if you don't want to.
You don't have to live an enjoyable life. You don't have to look at the good in difficult situations. You can find issues—wholly justifiable issues, things that "shouldn't be;" things that other people would agree with you are bad; injuries that have been done against you, that you have suffered and/ or are suffering under even this day. You can make these unwanted circumstances the centerpiece of your life. I know people who have. My grandmother did. I know I have, at times, in my past.
Besides the possible mutual commiseration with those who will listen, and the passing pleasure that companionship may give you, besides the pleasure of being "right," the feeling of being justified in feeling bad, why? What good does it do you, or those around you, in the long run?
Let's face it: stuff we don't want to happen in our lives is going to happen at least sometimes. A difficult situation with a loved one. The uncaring actions of a stranger. An unexpected accident, from out of the blue (as most accidents are). An illness. The death of someone we care about. Things happen. I do believe we can increase the amount of good that happens in our lives, yes. But I also believe that not one of us has complete control of our lives (or the lives of others). We'd be foolish to think we do.
So what if bad things happen.
Believe me, I am not wanting ill for you, or for me. I want us all to live happy lives. But things we don't want to happen are likely to happen, at least sometimes.
Again I say, so what?
Are we going to let our emotions, our thoughts, our enjoyment of life, our in-joyment of life be determined by mere circumstance?
We can live that way. If we want. Possibly most people do.
But there's a smarter play. We are smart to bring all the good that we can to our lives, the lives of others, and to the world anyway. In any way we can. In all the circumstances we can. We can do so by making the good that is in our lives the centerpiece of our lives.
I think the pain we humans suffer is the knowing that, from our perspective, things could be better. That our lives and the lives of others could be better.
It's the old knowing of good and evil, isn't it.
Dogs, it seems to me, and cats, too, don't seem to have this awareness. There's a dog I know that rejoices every time I come back into its/ his presence. It's as if we've been long separated. There are eight homecomings every day. The tail wags, tribute items (a small stuffed toy, a sock) are presented to me, before being playfully pulled away.
But we are not dogs. Sometimes it seems some others (or even ourselves) act like dogs. As humans, though, we have some understanding that whatever our current situation is, it possibly could be better.
This is where the invitation comes in. It seems that dogs mostly react to the situations in their lives. We humans have the choice, most often, in how we act. We have options. An invitation to feel better and to do good. Life itself is an invitation. We can choose to be aware of a situation, including an unwanted one, and instead of focusing on what doesn't seem to be working for us we can focus on what is working for us. On what is good.
Just the simple habit of focusing on the good itself makes the situation better.
This isn't just theory. I've seen it play out in many, many cases. I've seen that when, though I am aware of the bad , I focus on the good, the situation itself becomes obviously better. There is positive change. Change that I (and sometimes others) can see. Things move toward the good that I desire.
Once we're in this practice, in the practice of finding and in-joying the good that is present (and there is always good present), then the good tends to take over. Expand. We find more good. There is more good.
At least, that's my experience. It is a way of life which makes sense to me. It is a way I can add. I find more good. Create and make more good.