Fear seeks safety. Love seeks Truth. Please read and enjoy. Productive, truthful feedback welcome.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Love of My Life

The Love of My Life
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Thirty-eight years ago today my life took a great bounce. At that time I professed my love for Marcie to be the equivalent of playing 3-basketball games. She didn't understand it, nor could I adequately explain it . . . until last month*, when I played perhaps my last pick up game, augmented by the 4 week recovery period of my ailing left knee. This caused me to reflect on why I loved basketball so much, and why, at age 56*, I tried to play again. I realized as I was racing . . . okay, gliding . . . okay, ambling up and down the court, that I wasn't playing a game. I was living in a state of peace. The peace that comes from doing something solely for enjoyment. A peace that accompanies the familiar and invites the unknown. The familiar such as the rules and the sounds of the game--the squeak of the shoes, the soft kiss of the ball off the glass.  And the unknown such as your new teammates, and how to supplement each other's weaknesses and exaggerate the strengths; how to blend different styles to the greater good of the game; how to expect and eagerly accept challenges, knowing that by working together you will find a way, a fair way, a good way. Because tho' the game has rules and sounds, it also unfolds differently every time, inviting creativity that leads to the freedom to pursue success.

Such has been my last 38 years. I have a teammate who complements my weaknesses and accentuates my strengths. We have blended our styles and worked through challenges to find our way to a good life, a great life. Like the game of pick up basketball our life has rules and sounds, yet unfolded unpredictably, inviting our creativity to choose success. To invite peace. With Marcie I am living in the state of peace, the peace that comes from doing something that brings total enjoyment. We have appreciated the familiar and embraced the unknown. 

Do I love her as much as 3 games? These 38 years later, I finally see it. Life is what brings you peace. The absence of peace is the absence of life. Basketball has always afforded me an avenue to peace. My life with Marcie - my love for her, her love for me - is one of deep abiding peace worthy of a lifetime of basketball. 

Happy anniversary.

~~~~~
EDITOR's NOTE: This is a repost from 2012. Add 5 years to this specific reference.
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WRITER'S NOTE:For musings from Dave on how to Love More and Judge Less link to his new book, The Bottom Turtle.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I Have This Hat

I have this hat.

I don't quite know what to do with it. It no longer looks good on me, but that's not the point. (Besides, to be honest, it never did look good on me, I just looked cute in it. At least that's the way I remember it. And if you talk to the right people, they'd agree.)

But I digress. Which is tough to do in an opening paragraph. And which I just did again. But since this story is not about digression, I’ll move on.

I have this hat. It’s a flowered hat.

I have had this hat forever. I got it when I was a kid, probably 7, maybe 8 years old. It’s an old railroad hat. My uncle gave one to each of ‘the boys’ one summer when his family came to visit us in Oregon, all the way from Indiana. I picked the flowered one. It turned out to be a couple of sizes too big; that’s why the band around the back is folded over twice—to make it fit. The only thing I know for sure about my brothers’ hats is that they are all long gone—the hats, not my brothers. Well, I’m pretty sure they’re gone. Who’d keep a hat that long anyway?

Me, that’s who. I just don’t quite know what to do with it.

I never wear it anymore. Sometimes I don’t see it for years. It’s usually tucked away in a special drawer with all those other things I don’t need to see daily but just can’t seem to get rid of: An old pocket knife, a piggy bank shaped like a football helmet, a billfold David Goodwin gave me in first grade, and more, but you get the point. And, to be honest, the hat is not tucked away in the drawer anymore . . . I gave it to my daughter.

Now I want it back.

It's complicated.

I love this hat.

How can you love a hat, you ask.

Good question.

I really don’t love the hat. I think it’s more that I love having the hat. But even to write that sounds silly.

After all, It’s just a hat.

One hundred percent cotton. A bit tattered by wear, a handful of randomly colored paint drips on it from when it was my painter’s hat, a few grass stains from pick up football games, a creased bill from when I'd stuff it in my back pocket, and a spot of civil disobedience from my college days when a few of us protested an unfair parking policy. When I pick it up and hold it in my hands, I never know which of the dozens of golden memories woven into its fabric will magically tumble out, at least momentarily, and elicit that soft chuckle of appreciation and contentment. The threads that remind me of my playfulness, my boldness. My story. The hat reminds me of the love given by those in my past. The love of those who made my life good, who trusted me, guided me, who challenged and corrected me. Those who taught me to love.


However, this post is not about a hat. Well, it kind of is, but it’s really more about attachment.

You see, a dear friend, Katerina, and I were talking about her current move from a four-bedroom house to a much smaller apartment. Not everything could tag along. Some things had to be left behind. But what?

What to keep? What to leave?

How does one go about deciding these things? we wondered.

One line of thought gave birth to another and we were soon proud parents of a conversation that had traveled miles away from, Hey, I am moving into my new place this weekend.

Me: Really?

Katerina: Yep, but it’s much smaller.

Me: Is that good or bad?

Katerina: Good. I get to clean out some stuff. And Bad. There’s some stuff I’d like to keep but there’s not going to be room. And there’s some stuff I feel like I should keep, but don’t really want to.

And there it was! Stuff!

We all have stuff!  Some of it we want to keep but can’t hang on to. And some of it don’t want to keep but can’t seem to let go off. Sometimes it’s a bit of both. We kinda don’t want it, but at the same time, we kinda do. And as long as that’s true, that thing tags along until we invite it in or kick it out.

Like I said, we all have stuff! Or perhaps, more accurately, stuff has us. And not just house stuff, but life stuff; emotional and relational stuff, physical and social stuff. Happy stuff. Sad stuff. Sentimental stuff. Laughter and joy stuff. Wounds and scars stuff. Smiles and memories stuff.

Stuff.

And when we have stuff, there’s the potential for attachment, which is exactly where our conversation took us.

Was attachment good? Was it bad? Sometimes good and sometimes bad? Was attachment circumstantial?

This was intriguing so, we quickly exited the ‘road to her new apartment’, and meandered down the path of attachment.

We took the path less traveled.

We took the path more traveled.

We walked, we ran. We followed robins around the next bend and rabbits down the veritable rabbit hole. We sidetracked, and we backtracked. We stood and pondered, and we sat and wondered . . .

What do you let go of?
What do you keep?
Why do you keep it?
Why are some things harder to get rid of than others, even if we never use them?
Even if they have no value.

While we often found agreement, we never found resolution. It was not for not trying. So, we finally stopped trying.

We cried uncle! and called it a day. We put our social intercourse on hold, and since we both are writers we agreed to give ourselves some time to put our separate thoughts, well, in writing.

Here am I. This is my take on attachment.

Attachment is when we hold on to something and have difficulty letting it go. It can be something that holds onto us. But this is a distinction without a difference. Whether we are the subject or the object, we still have difficulty letting it go. That is attachment.

Attachment is different from attraction. With attraction, you are drawn. With attachment, you are connected. However, attraction is still an important concept in this conversation: We are more likely to become attached to something we are drawn to, than something that repulses us. Paradoxically, if we focus on the repulsion, it becomes an attraction, to which we can also become attached.

I have learned to discern the difference in my life between attraction and attachment. From being drawn towards or being connected with.

If attachment lifts us, frees us, gives us energy, it is presently good for us. We should appreciate it for what it is. Its time with us may not be permanent. While it is good we should smile with it, dance with it, and hold it dearly in our hearts, but loosely in our grip. When it begins to encumber us—if we have held it loosely—we are then in a better position to let it go.

As such, I have found that I am attracted to those things in my life that serve me well, whether material, emotional, or habitual. For example, I choose the car I drive, the friends I keep, and habits of hygiene and health because they serve me well. I look to things I can turn to for utility, for understanding, for wisdom, for growth. But these are attractions, not attachments.

On the flip side of attraction, I have found that I am best served when I attach to things of love. No matter the promise, no matter the allure, nothing short of love serves me.

For example, what began as an attraction years ago, became an attachment. I am attached to my wife, Marcella, because, among other reasons, by her love she brings out the good in me. I can then double down and return loving goodness to her.  We are as one. (Read about that in The Nature of Love).

However, outside of Marcella, I am not attached to anyone. Rather, I am attracted to them. I am attracted to them either because they exude love and positive life-giving energy, or because they can lean on my life experiences and wisdom and be drawn toward love and positive life-giving energy. I am attracted to people who actively live out love because I am attached to love. I am attracted to caring for those who don’t yet love, who don’t yet understand the power of weakness, the power of choosing vulnerability over maintaining walls because I am attached to love. Lest this sounds pretentious, I am fully aware that there is always someone on either side of us, and a whole bunch right where we are. One side drawing us toward greater love. The other side needing our love to guide them to their own greater love. And so many others who are just plain delightful to be around. Who enjoy each other.

Outside of people, I am attracted, not attached, to books and literature about active love and active kindness and concepts that move things forward. I am attracted to the thoughts and stories of active love and active kindness found within this literature because I am attached to love.

Love!

Katerina: But I have this thing my grandma gave it to me, but she’s long gone and it’s down in the basement. I never use it, but I am kind of attached to it.

Me: What is it?

Katerina: It’s a teddy bear, an angel bear . . . something she held when she left this world. Do you have anything?



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WRITER'S NOTE:For musings from Dave on how to Love More and Judge Less link to his new book, The Bottom Turtle.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Moving at the Speed of Trust






Three students. Three stories.
We, as teachers, have a couple of choices when we encounter unexpected behavior in a student.
We can blame the kid and create an argument which both the student and the teacher will lose.
Or . . .
We can learn the kid and build a bridge.
To learn the kid, move in shoulder-to-shoulder and learn their stories.
When we learn their stories we will discover the reason behind the behavior. Then we can create a bridge.

Move at the speed of trust and trade on the currency of respect.

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WRITER'S NOTE:For musings from Dave on how to Love More and Judge Less link to his new book, The Bottom Turtle.