View Full Version : Reflections

12-15-2012, 10:08 PM
I had intended to write a series of posts called reflections back in the summer. My intention was to do a post a day for at least 30 days. The first thing I did was start a journal in MS Word, as a place to record possible ideas and build up a backlog of posts before I got started. Well that never really happened, as I was intending. I started reading back through the journal I made and there wasn't as much as I had remembered even. What I did have written was mostly incomplete. A lot of the writing felt forced or like a poor attempt at cleverness.

The idea of a place, here on SR forum, to record a few reflections, still seems like a good thing to me though. Today I am starting out then, with a fresh sheet of virtual paper. I will attempt to write these in a natural voice, but if some come out sounding a bit forced or as me trying to sound clever, then that is just my true style of writing poking through apparently. My intent is meditative reflection, but intent and reality don't always align, so we'll see how it goes.

I am not placing any rules on myself as far as how often, how many or even how long I continue with these. I will start by digging through my previous writing for ideas, but there wasn't much there to start with, so if continued inspiration doesn't come to me this may be a short lived thread and that's OK.

If anyone cares to comment or join in with reflections of your own, that is fine. If no one feels like it, that's OK too.

12-16-2012, 08:24 AM
“Just Do It”
-Nike, Advertising Campaign

I can't say I'm a fan of the brand, but this slogan is brilliant in its simplicity. Backed with images of runners and other athletes at all levels, struggling and continuing their quests, this long term ad campaign, paints the image that you can accomplish anything, just by putting in the effort. Isn't that something we all want to believe in. Whatever it is you need to accomplish, just do it. The results are in the effort itself.

“The difference in winning and losing is most often... not quitting”
-Walt Disney, Animator, Film Producer

“Never quit quitting”
-Anti-Smoking Slogan

Never quit quitting, is used so often, it's become somewhat cliche For that reason, I like's Walt's wording better, simply because it's not as over used. They both hit upon the same concept though. It doesn't matter how many times you fall down. Get back up. Keep going. Just do it. Start fresh again from scratch if you need to. It doesn't matter. The results are still in the effort. You can to define your own terms for winning and loosing.

“Internal commitment is almost the only thing that matters”
-Patrick Meninga, creator of Spiritual River website

I found this in one of the site articles and think it's relevant here. Just do it. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

On a final note, the most famous Taoist saying is from chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching. It most common translation is: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

Whatever it is you want, wherever it is you want to go, take that first step. You don't need to wait for motivation. You just need to start. Just do it.

12-16-2012, 11:38 AM
Great words ToddE !!

12-17-2012, 05:53 PM
Thanks, IKE. Glad to see you hanging around.

12-17-2012, 06:00 PM
Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty? Whether you see it as half full or half empty is suppose to be a reflection of if you are more optimistic or more pessimistic. This is such a common saying, that it's used to describe people as being glass half full types or glass half empty types.

I would be a glass half full type. Not that I'm a fan of labels of any kind. They tend to be too limiting. If I had to describe myself in an either or sense of the half a glass test though, I do lean more to the optimistic side of the scale.

I don't know who originally wrote this glass test, but I am guessing it was by a glass half empty type. I think of, either or type thinking, as being in the realm of the pessimistic leaning folks. The other thing I don't like, which is implied in this glass test, is that it is static. I guess I don't see things in a static, frozen in time moment. I think that type of static thinking is needed though, if one wants to see the glass as either half full or as half empty.

Let's suppose the the glass was empty. Then even the pessimist and optimist eould have to agree that glass is empty, correct? This is true only if you view things in a static manner. I would tend to see the glass as waiting to be filled, if I happen to be thirsty. I would see it as empty, if I had just finished drinking it. In this dynamic view, I don't see much difference between a full glass or an empty glass. They are just different states of the same thing The glass is simply a vessel to serve a purpose. It is ready to serve that purpose regardless of it's current state.

What if it was limited though? What if you couldn't refill it ever again? Then would it be half full or half empty? It would be empty already, the way I see it. Either you finish it for the last time or save it forever. Net result of saving it forever is you don't get anymore, in which case you may as well drink it. As long as you can fill it again at some point in the future, I tend to still think of it as waiting to be filled. Most things we think of as not being able to have, really is that we are not able to have them right now.

The other side of limited resources is how to utilize them. If I win some mega lottery prize, I might go on an extended vacation, first a tour of Europe, then visit Thailand, Japan, Australia, Alaska, Hawaii, etc., staying in Four Seasons and similar luxury hotels. With my current (non-lottery winning) situation, I can't do that. I might be able to save up enough to go on special trip and may do that eventually, but can't justify staying at the fanciest Hotels. Given the choice of posh accommodations and being able to go, I will live with more modest locations. I certainly will never visit all the destinations, I could get to with a mega lottery funded retirement. I don't see limited resources, in a half empty glass way though. Whatever is important enough I will get to eventually, even if I can't do it today. Everything is just out there, waiting for you to drink it, when you can get to it.

For the theoretical half a glass, I would just drink it, without much thought at all.

12-18-2012, 05:50 PM
Professional authors need to write, because well … it's how they make there living. The publishers, printers and book sellers all participate in this continuation of new material, because well … it's how those businesses make their money as well. It is true for a few authors, that their back list generates, good residual sales. For the majority of writer though, their income is almost completely generated from new material.

For the most part this works out quite well for us the reader. In general readers prefer the latest material. You may read an old magazine at the Dentists office, but would you buy an outdated one off the stand? Yesterday's newspaper, isn't worth the paper it's printed on, as they say. You might run across an author of series you didn't start with and read the back titles. You may read back posts to catch up with a new blog you found. Once you catch up or even before then, it's usually the new material you look towards. Even history books, get updated as new material comes out or different focuses become more popular. So while writers need to continue to write new material to earn their living, for the most part the readership is well served to continue consuming the new products.

Where this isn't quite as universal an equilibrium, in the non-fiction realm. If you have a favorite biographer, then you're probably fine to read the authors follow-up works. This doesn't follow as well if it was an autobiography though, does it?

This time of year the top sellers in non-fiction are cookbooks, next month it will be diet books. Most cookbooks are given as gifts, so that isn't much of an issue either. If they are read at all, there probably aren't too many of the recipes that ever get tried out. That's not the end of the world though, just a few good meals that could have been. No different or worse then a sweater you'll never wear. For the diet book genre, if you try one or two that's fine. The four basic food group handouts you received in grade school, are probably just as good. Searching for the next best thing, isn't nearly as important as practicing what you already know, or can learn relatively easily when it comes to diet books.

Searching for the next best thing is part of the problem with the whole self help genre in general. I read a book called The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson in college. I also read his follow up, Beyond the Relaxation Response. Unfortunately there is a law of diminishing returns for self help. There was nothing more to be had in a second title of Relaxation. In truth the first one didn't really warrant being a full book. The entire point could have been made in a chapter or two. I still utilize the basic idea from this book though.

When it comes to any self help, if you bought it, the idea was probably to some degree at least, to put it into practice. Whatever it is you want help with you're not going to read the problem away. Get the right tools in place, read a few books, find one that suits you and then try putting it into practice. The writers and publishers, still need to churn them out, but when it comes to self help, a book of the month club approach, isn't advantageous for the reader. Self help titles are about better habits and personal growth. That kind of thing you need to put into practice.

I like to think of the other chapters as being for someone else. I read How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, again recently. Most of it I like, so I did read all the chapters. It has some weak points, but I like the basic premise. Normally, on a self help or cookbook, I figure the point is to just pick out what looks good to me. The rest might be useful to someone else. Better to just pick a few good recipes and actually cook them though, then chasing down something “better” and never doing anything in the end. This is really more to my point, I just didn't know how to say it succinctly.

12-19-2012, 04:13 PM
There was a quote I wanted to reflect upon, that I read in Dale Carnegie's classic, How To Win Friends & Influence People. It had been many years, since I read this book, but knew it was along the lines of “Never Question a Person's Beliefs”.

I couldn't find it on the internet, but happen to have a copy of the book. I skimmed it at first, then just picked likely chapters to read and then well … I started at page one and kept reading tell I found it. Slow and steady wins the race in the end. (Although I would have much rather have been able to quit upon a successful internet query). It turns out the quote I was looking for was not by Dale Carnegie, himself, but was by another writer that he quoted in his book. The quote itself is by James Harvey Robinson, from his book, The Mind in the Making, originally published in 1921.

The actual quote goes like this:
“We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told we are wrong, we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem which is threatened … ”

The thing I like about this particular quote, is the idea of how little thought we have actually given to some of our beliefs or ways of thinking. Some of my core beliefs, I know have been given little or no thought as to how they were formed. Certainly not from any rational perspective at any rate.

We are really emotional creature after all, even if we like to think of ourselves as creatures of logic or fairness. I think that once we believe something, right or wrong, there is a tendency to cling to it. That is, the idea of logical persuasion is fairly useless. Whatever you already you believe in you will find logical arguments for, in your own mind anyway, to support the belief you already have.

I like the idea of being open-minded. I think a lot of people probably like to think of themselves this way. I imagine the truth to this open-mindness though is, we don't really want other peoples ideas if they are pushed towards us. We really only want to be open minded, if we discover new ways of thinking or new ideas on our own and then make them our ideas. Not that they have to be original ideas or beliefs, we come up with from scratch. I am certainly fine with adapting a new philosophy or way of thinking to my own. I really only have to find it on my own, to not have resistance towards it. Then I can take it or leave it as I see fit.

The danger then is of an idea or belief that would benefit me more than my current way of thinking, that I am not willing to consider, just because of the manner in which it was presented. Certainly I have “hardened my heart” on many occasion, and never given fair consideration to an idea or two. Just knowing this doesn't mean I am able to correct it automatically. It does mean, at least for now, I am open to considering another point of view, even if I don't believe it or the manner it was presented is not to my liking.

I also know I have been wrong on many occasions and will probably continue to be wrong on many more. My memory is not perfect by any means and I often find things being different than what I recalled them being. This quote for as example, I recognized it immediately as what I was looking for, but it was not that close to the wording I had of it in my mind. Another benefit in not questioning a persons beliefs or thoughts is, when it turns out they remembered something correctly, and I was the one suffering from revisionist history, it is much easier to accept the truth. For many items that are unknowable or that people tend to have polarizing opinions on, I am starting to settle in on accepting that it is OK to not know or that it is fine for someone to be of a differing opinion than mine. I am also trying to settle in on the idea that I really have no vested interest in trying to change anyone to my particular way of thinking.

12-20-2012, 09:52 AM
I think it would be nice to have a personal mantra. Something that sums up the basis of my philosophy of life. I don't have one. I just like the idea of having one.

There was a saying that I kind of remember. Actually I remember the idea of it, but not the phrasing. I haven't the slightest idea where I heard it at. It's like when the words to a song are on the tip of your tongue. Unfortunately, the actual saying I am thinking of is long forgotten, by me. Even if I was to hear it again, I wouldn't be able to say for sure that it is the one I'm thinking of. If somehow I could identify it, I don't know that it would even serve my purpose any more. This elusive memory was the starting point however, in my pondering on the idea of having a personal mantra.

If I could simply fashion another saying, to use as a personal manta, that would serve my purpose as well. I haven't been able to phrase one that feels exactly right. Perhaps I should try out one or two, for a while. Sort of a test drive. Maybe a mantra is something that just has to grow on you or is something that has to evolve, as you use it.

I think I like the idea more though, than I have any real interest in developing a personal mantra. Kind of an ego driven thing, like having your own cool catch phrase. There are plenty of things I like the idea of more than the actual thing itself. I like the idea of wearing an ankle bracelet. I imagine a hemp one with a Taoist symbol as the one I want. I think my mantra would be like that too, somehow.

I did wear a ankle bracelet for a little bit last spring and through the summer. The first one I picked up on some island we visited on a cruise I took. It had a little piece of leather straps and heavy rope. I think it was probably cotton, with bright dyed colors. Not what I really wanted, but was just a souvenir. I was going to wear it as symbol of my new life choice or something like that. It fell off and I lost it within a couple weeks of wearing the thing. This summer on vacation I picked up another in some museum gift shop. It had a cheap plastic dolphin charm and I think was synthetic fibers for the string. It lasted a lot longer, but eventually broke after maybe three months. I kept the dolphin charm.

I did find the saying I was looking for eventually. The internet and a little persistence is still an amazing thing to me. It is a good saying, but not exactly what I would want in a mantra. I wrote separate reflection piece on that saying which, I'll put up on a separate post.

I do think I am pretty OK with liking the idea of things, better than the actual thing itself sometimes. Maybe I could work the previous sentence into a mantra, if I worked on it? I like, “Live in the moment, not in the details”, as a possibility also. At least I like the idea of it anyway.

12-21-2012, 03:45 PM
To the best of my recollection the saying I am trying to think of, went something like this, “To be in this world, yet not a part of it”. There are probably several versions of this saying actually. I did find one that was close before, that I liked the phrasing of better, but I didn't write it down unfortunately. That one I believe was from Herman Melville's Moby Dick, but couldn't find it right now, and am not up to an extended search right now.

According to wiki.answers.com in regards to the question, “Where in the bible is 'Be in the world not of the world?'” “The closest you'll find it is in John 17, particularly verse 11 and 16. It is not as concisely phrased, but it is there.” There is also some mentions of “Not a part of this world” as a Jehovah's Witness saying on some blogs that came up searching on yahoo.

Sticking with my own version, “To be in this world, yet not a part of it”, the first part of the idea is that we belong. Be it to the world, to mankind, a community, whatever it is, there is something we all are a part of. The second part of not belonging to this thing that we are a part of. This is then that we are an individual. We share common bonds, cultures, ideals, etc. but we are alone. My intention for this saying, is not to promote the idea of being isolated or to consider oneself as always separated from others. It's also not meant as an excuse for feeling either superiority or inferiority, by “not a part of it” It's more like we interpret our surroundings, a given experience, whatever on two levels. One level is how we express and share it with others. Another level is how we personally experience it. That way we are part of the group, the world or whatever and not part of it at the same time.

I read a book recently by Barbara Kingsolver called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – A Year of Food Life. One chapter is about her visiting a family friend. This friend of her's and his family are farmers in an Amish community in Ohio. He lives and participates in a community that could easily be described as a group of “not a part of our world”, but that isn't what I think of for my take on what this type of saying means. To me it means your own world or group or community, that you are a part of and not a part of at the same time. I also don't see it as being trapped, either. I am sure there are members of some communities that feel trapped, or force to conform at some level. That is not the “not a part of it” that I am thinking of though.

In the book I read, this friend of the author's seems like an intelligent well adjusted person. A person that fits within the conformations of his community, but because it is his personal choice. I believe that he considers his lifestyle choice, as being in his own best interest. The book also describes, that he likes to meditate during his farm work. That working his fields, taking it in and reflecting upon it while he works, is a deeply spiritual experience for him. I don't intend to take up farming or forgo a lot of modern conveniences. I do like the idea of reflecting or meditating during work, or when your out doing something, or whenever. This also goes to the idea of being a part of something, but not exactly of it. To live life on a different plane for a moment, but not being separated from life.

12-22-2012, 08:07 PM
Todd, I liked your essay on "never question a person's beliefs." Donald Miller is one of my favorite authors and he talks about how people won't really listen to us unless they feel like we like them. I believe that to be true. As you said, we are emotional beings. Sometimes the things we believe are not logical. I enjoy discussing different topics, but I doubt I can really change someone's mind to believe like I do (and sometimes I don't really know what I believe). I also enjoy learning someone else's opinion, as long as I feel like their is mutual respect. My mom in law would say she was open minded, really she was just liberal. Because if you did not believe the way she did, she thought you were stupid. It made it really hard to talk to her about some things such as politics or religion.

12-23-2012, 10:04 AM
Thanks Priscilla. I am glad you liked the “Beliefs” essay. I hadn't heard of David Miller before, but read a couple reviews on his stuff, just now. I am short on my reading list at the moment, so ordered one of his books to give it a try.

I have a few more of these to write (assuming I keep going). For the next week or so, I am going to be doing ones more on recovery topics though, which are started in a different thread.