Take Flight — a Memorial Day Reflection

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Dedicated to those who are here who can hear for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their fellows, their country, and principles for which this nation must still stand.

In the darkest nights of the soul the fuel for your Phoenix bubbles and boils around your spirit. From the ashes of some future ignition, burn, and flight, win or lose, you will rise again and be better than ever before; more capable in some way, known or unknown, to break through and see done what must be done as the reason for your being here. The darkest nights are never so dark as the dawn is light.

As the Marines say “pain is weakness leaving the body,” so the dark nights of the soul are selfishness of the past leaving the spirit, to be ignited in future service to those in need. These flammable drops may provide fires with which to liberate captives, empathize with and put sinners back on their feet, melt barbed wire, and elevate our human race just a little more before you die. No earthly reward could be better than simply completing our purposes for being. Each of us is given such a purpose, known or unknown, yet accessible more purely through standing again and believing.

The big picture is in our hearts, the sky within, from a vista point that can consider all people, all events, and all that must come with the indomitable commitment of a dedicated, singular spirit behind humble eyes, trafficking in the divine energy of love for all.

spirit

spirit: a breakthrough word inspired by a post at Triathlon Obsession encouraging selection of a word to focus on for the New Year...

spirit: a breakthrough word inspired by a post at Triathlon Obsession encouraging selection of a word to focus on for the New Year…

spirit

The depthless, fathomless, soaringly timeless, state of being arising when a person digs deep enough to leave body and mind behind and achieve what those two weaker vessels could not on their own.

An example, the night raid at Riva Ridge by the 10th Mountain Division in 1945, and digging deeper the next day against stiff resistance to take Mt. Belvedere:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14594652

This is relative to mental and physical conditioning, for the person with lesser conditioning, if their body then mind gives way earlier than those more advanced in body and mind training, the spirit kicks in sooner. And for the advanced athlete, warrior, whatever…later, perhaps.

Will we ever come to the point where we run, perform, act, compete, work, and achieve from this state of being from the beginning of the effort, mind and body moved efficiently from this zone in our being? That would be a breakthrough. What endurance, strength, and other qualities would be possible then? Where are the limits? I guess we really don’t know yet, and that is an exciting frontier that those of us in a boundary set world can escape to every day.

Part II Internal: What Injury Did

copy-cropped-img_6270-e13762827104731.jpgAt launch, I was driven. I’d made the twisty-turning, detoured road to the trail head at about 10,600 feet. I started briskly, moving with intent to make a fast outing of it. I felt good. I was mildly irritated with the many distractions that had me coming out for an afternoon interval hike and run. Time is scarce these days.

I slipped, caught myself, and hurt my foot. See my previous post for that story and what it did externally.

Afterward, I was exasperated, scorning the decisions of fate.

Then I asked myself: what am I so attached to that I am upset about this?

As I tenderly hiked and occasionally ran along another six miles, I thought about that.

Is being “driven” healthy? Slaves are driven. Oxen are driven. Unloved horses are driven.

And yet, I’d been driving myself.

The injury stopped that with punctuation.

I was attached to ownership of myself, my day, my training, my business, my goals, my aspirations, and my expectations. All mine in Me-Myself-and-I-Ville. Forget my context, my purposes, what I was doing all of this for, and what I have dedicated myself to that is beyond me.

Yes. Subtly through growing impatience with delay after delay getting out there, I became more the slave driver. The Owner of everything. The hard-to-please judge of every little thing and how it was going. I allowed frustration to turn my day into a driven drought.

Then I hurt my foot and arrived at what I needed to do.

Let go and move, hike, and run free.

Handling Victory and Defeat with Grace

If in our hearts we thoroughly prepare for lifelong grace after victory or defeat, neither victory or defeat can undo us.

Updated: Vying for the Heart of Athleticism in the Big Picture: Pride for Glory-of-Self or Service for Glory of the Team?

In succeeding, pride divides, while service, succeeding or not, unifies. Service brings glory after all seasons for one and for all. Even teams who lost fair and square to a team playing from the service ethos improve because of it.

The team that cries out of burst pride when it loses is less prepared to prevail in the greater competition against evils and injustices in the world. The team that wins in pride is even weaker, as they are deluded by self-legend.

Competition is best that tempers us toward excellence to be able to dissuade, dispel, and if necessary, defeat and heal injustices and evil processes plaguing humankind. Sports are fields of preparation for work and art, and contain them both. Play and the joy of play are part of the game of betterment.

The aim of sports was once to make community better, purer, truer, stronger, wiser, and in doing so raise every person to communal roles of glory from time to time. Instead sports in our great country have been struggling with the error of elevating pride as their driving spirit. That error has spawned a Pandora’s box of symptoms.

The team service ethos in sports unifies us, and makes us a team whose glory feeds those who witness and participate with it. Unfortunately we see this zone of service ethos in sports, art, and work waning, as the burgeoning prideful self, by self-glorification or self-esteem, sucks away rather than multiplies the spirit of personal excellence.

By character, determination, and service, success and failure are cumulative toward ultimate successes. Service success doesn’t admit the virus of tomorrow’s division. Today’s victory does not contain the DNA of tomorrow’s defeat with the ethos of service to the team. Failing to heed the law of the cosmos that pride comes before a fall is itself a delusion of pride in practice.

You may have noticed the shift in American sports as the word pride has replaced the word teamwork, love of team, and team spirit. Pride is the driving passion of despotism and fascism. Even the term “school pride” is a sad misnomer where well-intended, and a sickness where it dominates.

School is an institution part of a government that is supposed to be “by and for the people.” Such institutions, bureaucratized, may or may not run on people-oriented values. When there is a tradition of people-oriented leaders in that school or its system, they tend to feed students’ overall development, working as a team seeking excellence in doing so.

With such leadership, the bureaucratic addiction dissolves and the person-building institution arises. Perhaps we’ve forgotten that institutions and industries were at some point meant to help us develop ourselves as persons whose innate virtues obviate the need for heavy-institutionalism and industrialization in the first place. Freedom with behavioral trust was the objective. Remember “for the people, by the people?”

Yet where do we see many MVP’s go today? The pride-principle has morphed sports into a self-glorification machine, a scandal machine, a materialism machine, and a discipline in service to vice. See how ethics and character have fared in university and professional sports? Workplace and industry ethics seem to have followed suit. Drug and performance enhancement testing is required because lack of trust has taken hold. Thorough background checks exist because the we don’t trust each other anymore. This is a deep pathology unlikely to bring a unified republic and it is largely pride’s cancer, for which the opportunity cost is love of one’s fellows.

Protestations that “everybody’s cheating,” or “everybody’s doping” does not fix the problem any more than such an explanation justifies the erosion of character leading to the 2007 mortgage crisis and 2008 financial crisis. Attacking messengers of this truth is like a drowning person attacking a lifeguard or coastguard swimmer trying to help them.

It makes little sense to have a social net if every individual is so narcissistic that he or she thinks teamwork is for their own ascendancy or self-esteem, but not for each and every one else. Selfishness is fueled by fear of loss. Yet the major wisdom traditions of most religions, corrected for political and racial incursions on same, teach that fear of loss is a wasteful, useless state of mind.

Fear will dissolve in each of us as we willingly give up our passionate attachments to seeking blessings, and dedicate our lives to the love of our brothers and sisters no matter their appearance. How many times have I forgotten this through many, many falls to repeated delusions? For those who purpose good can also twist that motive with the lie that they must first be rich, ascendant, or powerful to do significant good. They forget that good done can have cascading, unintended effects far into the future.

Out of fear of lost face keep we must not let our errors keep us from witnessing what we can see by having fallen down enough ourselves. For when I fall, when I open my eyes, I can see under the fog to identify what made me slip. And by writing this, I am merely getting up using words as handholds, having not mastered fear, or loved as I should, but merely having become a practitioner at getting up to train at those high goals yet again. Truth: if each one of us cannot confess truth and get up again, then we cannot help message others about pile-ups around the corner. However, if we get up and do good anyway, and speak the truth, we can help the greater team live well.

Our first three obstacles to master for the good include our responses to error, entropy, and change. The answer to our own error and weaknesses is not that we must become masters of what we fear as some morph themselves to try; or that we despond in resignation; or that we get lost in an extreme ideology not fit for all that our hearts know is too rigid. Instead, we must learn to love others and master ourselves for that goal despite fear, and perhaps, extinguish fear with love’s inherent, creative grace.

From love’s grace teamwork is sustainable into infinity. This is true for every form of athleticism: work, intellect, spirit, and body. All of us seek excellence together to help us beyond the deceptive mortal futility and insanity of the mortal zoo cage. That transcendence is the truest possibility, and all innately know it. I am a believer in the authenticity of the foxhole conversion: for it is in crucibles that we cut to the chase, not in the luxurious salons of rhetorical exhaustion. In this, the edge of service-led competition in sports can be wiser than what passes for intellectual, and exponents more effectual.

The Reset

Let the Reset happen. Your mind lets go of the intractables, puts them back into your heart, where the mysterious storms, the lightening, the oceanic forces of the Source break them up and produce a path forward for you.

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Freedom from Fallen Fear Gurus

We are not free so long as we allow fallen gurus to be our masters, and you can tell a fallen guru by his or her quest to control others and everything. The controlling guru, whether by charming deceit or drill sergeant drive, is down deep afraid of losing control. For every person born on Earth, this is a false persona.

We are not free even if we are our own fallen gurus, ruling ourselves by fear of loss. Fear invites control, and control uses pride, prejudice, anger, covetousness, and hatred to sacrifice humanity to fear, as the person so addicted swells in self-importance that they believe only others should be sacrificed in life’s races, not the emperor (afraid) self. This is even done in the name of spoken ideals. The ideals, when fear is the path to them, burn-up in cruelty along the way. I have felt this inclination in myself, but it is not me. It is a temptation of passionate, over-serious attachment to temporary things instead of giving of self for the love of my fellow forever-beings, the fellow travelers well being at the center of my heart’s reason for being.

It is a true saying, “Fear is the beginning of wisdom.” But no one completes a series of races or a great race toward greater wisdom by staying on the starting line, that is, remaining in fear. One can leave an earthly starting line motivated by fear of loss, finish the race, and never have won a victory over fear. And yet, the analogy of starting that race despite the butterflies, can help bring awareness if light dawns. To let fear rule is to become an adrenaline junkie, and jettison intelligent holism in the many races in our lives. Too much adrenaline applied to too many things makes a fight or flight of everything.

Awareness of fear awakens the wisdom of facing fear to dispel it and move forward with grace born of gratitude.  You might even say the word grace is short for “good race.”

Another true saying, “Perfect love casts out fear.” The more we love others, giving of self, the closer to perfect love we go, and the more graceful we become. We trust in what we already have within us: love. And giving this love we already have only generates more than ever before, and is not really a loss at all. In perfect love there is no urgency to control or to be a guru of others, or even ourselves. We need a whole lot less adrenaline this way, and save it for when it really is needed. We would follow and lead in love instead, tapping into a great mystery in the Cosmos.

We seek to walk, hike, run, swim, compete, and if possible, fly, in the greatest race there is: to acquire perfect love within and be one with uncontainable perfect love spilling over by example to everyone we meet. It is a life long workshop within and without. We are spiritual and we are physical.

The example and wonderful life of perfect love is enough to inspire others to the same freedom, and so is inherently free and democratic. And it is so great a race, so boundless and wondrous, that it takes our whole lives in the running, well beyond this body’s ability to hold out with its contrary chemicals, habits, and flaws. Therefore, none of us who is putting in a worthy focus on the race of love can sit on a throne as guru over others. The worthy focus on love makes it impossible.

And this is why it is possible to advance in a greater race even if we are never noticed doing so.

In my book, I invite others to improve and customize from whatever is useful there. I am a fellow traveler, and if you walked side-by-side with me you would see my falls, my flaws, and my failures. It is from these that I compare notes with you on this blog. When I write about soaring things as above, I borrow from the wise, and write of aspirations of my own, not of my arrival.

Help me to arrive by sharing your wisdom and reminding me of the good race. Let this blog be an expression of cheer, to cheer you onto advancement in all of your great races!photo(3)

Mother Teresa: Personal Trainer

What? This:

By internal and external silence, we may bypass barriers, snags, and diversions from purer, more efficient training, study, and accomplishment.

How often does inner or outer chatter delay movement, and this delay, like gum on our shoes seems to swallow time.

I take this inspiration from my a current book in my reading list, entitled, “No Greater Love,” by the late Mother Teresa, a saint.

 

She also wrote that you can’t learn humility by reading about humility. Only by undergoing humiliations (which are guaranteed throughout our lives) do we learn humility. I wonder if typos are included?!

How do we deal with Aging and Training?

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the ascents…

How do athletes deal with aging? Answer may differ for each of us.

Something helps me. Remembering what I’m training for besides the immediate feel, look, and function. Or besides the next race, competition, game, event, or expedition. I wanted to share this:

If I find myself running one day with a gait that looks like my knees and ankles have been tenderized with hammers, what will I then be training for? I will be training with the goal that every person who looks into my eyes finds the peaceful warrior’s ageless resolve.

Angela’s Promise

Angela's Promise

That’s what I’m calling this one. Click on the photo to read her latest update. She’s a fellow WordPresser to all here whose ultra running blog Run Nature and reflective blog Mind Margins inspire many. She also happens to have taken the gloves off to fight with cancer at present, and I encourage everyone sharing community here to visit her blog and sound off their support and heartfelt encouragement for ultimate victory and much peace and goodness despite the hardship she is shouldering with a smile every day.

Windows in the Sky Symbolize Promise

photo(4)photo(3)With outdoor training of any type, you get to be in the elements. Yesterday, these ionized the air and gave a gift of raindrops.

Cancer: And So the Story Begins

Throw down prayers, good thoughts, and messages of love to Angela whose great blog I reblog…

Mind Margins

I am one of those people who probably tells more than they should. If I were a celebrity the tabloids would love me. I can be brutally honest, and I don’t care much what others think of how I live my life.

Last week something happened to me, something you might consider a “life changing event.” I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

This is my story. It’s long, so I’ll be telling it in segments. And stay tuned. Despite the inevitable ending (the same ending you will have one day as well, my friend), I plan on being around for a long time:

5/29/13, Wednesday: THE BEGINNING

I turned over in bed and felt a sharp twinge of pain in my abdomen. It was Tuesday morning. It was as simple as that.

I got up, ate an early lunch, and felt nothing the rest of the day.

The next morning…

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Today, Now…

img_2945.jpgAs the night cools the path of the spartan sun, a hot day’s light drifts into space as I contemplate sleep.

Now is the best time to reach beyond the solar system of my small life and share a few observations from this week.

Health, wellness, and functional strength are like a land grant to each person to farm.

There is no guarantee the farm will not be beset by pests, drought, or fire, yet we farm what we have.

And yet a farm is a foundation for living. What is the purpose of living?

The good purpose of our lives is so simple, so central, so much who we are, it is easiest to miss for being right in front of us.

Today, now, I simplify, letting go of my ambition, letting go of the wants I have dressed as needs, and I want to gaze wordlessly into my own heart to weed this given field; to make it fertile; and to grow all I can to hold with soft hands and distribute whatever I may be given to give. Truth told to self is a calmer of all faculties before sleep.

As I descend, I trust sleep. Sleep is rain, dew, cool, and recovery. Sleep is part of training. The heat and pace of the day will return tomorrow in which I will work my field. Peace.

the sun inside

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The Sun Inside

in morning stillness

my fingers slowly pull

a shoe on-

onto a porch a

door swings wide

to mottled stratospheres

pink-blue, high

vapors hang, plant-breathed

so fresh their mist is silver

gold-seared sky’s edge

butters the Earth toned bread

as I start to run

friends chirp

melodies

to the risen sun

Burst

Light within my heart

Genesis you

timelessly shine

from my he(art)…