Walking Around

Just a reminder for all my fellow work-a-holics – 

Never underestimate the extraordinary body/mind/soul healing power of a long walk past neighbors’ gardens with a child and a dog on a sunny, almost-spring day.

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A Sack Full of Feathers (Jewish Proverb)

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A man had an argument with a Rabbi and started spreading false rumors about him. This went on until he no longer felt angry and started feeling guilty. He went to the Rabbi feeling ashamed and said, “I’m sorry for the things I said about you. What can I do to make it up to you?”
The Rabbi said, “Go and collect as many feathers as you can.”
Though a strange request, the man was happy to do it to make amends and feel less guilty. He came back with a sack filled with thousands of feathers he had emptied out of pillows.
The man asked the Rabbi if that was all he could do.
The Rabbi replied, “No. Now empty the sack.”
Again confused, the man did so. It was a windy day so the feathers quickly flew all over the city. When the sack was empty, the man again asked if there was anything else he could do.
The Rabbi answered, “Yes. Go and collect all the feathers and put them back in the sack, and make sure you get every last one.”

Moral of the story –
A harsh word, whether true or not, can be apologized for, but it can never be taken back, and the damage to the person’s character and reputation can never be completely undone.

Who Are You Surrounded By?

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It’s not uncaring strangers we need to look out for, it’s family and friends, the ones who are supposed to love and support us to the bitter end. They’re the ones who will kill your dream. And almost always, they’re also the ones who have never dared to do anything great, the ones who have adhered slavishly to the safest path, never taken any risks, never made the sacrifices or had the discipline it takes to be a great artist or do anything extraordinary.

They will try to project their own reality onto you – sometimes in the subtlest of ways – saying things like “I just don’t want you to be let down” or “do you have a back-up plan in case this doesn’t work out” – because deep down inside, even when your success might benefit them, they really don’t want you to succeed. They don’t want to have to look up to you someday.

But it’s not always comfort junkies you have to look out for. Sometimes it’s people who appear to be successful in terms of material accomplishment but their egomania and type-A competitiveness overrides their sense of decency so much that their success just doesn’t feel complete to them unless they’re also making everyone else less successful. Sort of like chopping everyone’s head off so they can feel taller. Of course, if you dare to question such a person about an insulting comment, they’ll react with the standard, “You’re just too sensitive.” (The #1 mantra of the insensitive.) 

I know. It’s a hard pill to swallow. But sometimes your worst enemies aren’t enemies at all. They’re the people you live with. The people who tell you they love you. Assholes aren’t just people that flip you off from a passing car. Sometimes they’re sitting in your passenger seat, secretly hoping you’ll fail so they can feel better about the chances they weren’t courageous enough to take.

So what can you do? Once you have discovered a friend or family member who is determined to keep you down, the only solution is to eliminate them from your life. If you can’t do that, never – and I mean never – share your goals and dreams with them again. You should keep that stuff to yourself as a general rule anyway. What’s the point of talking about what you’re going to do? It steals the energy you’ll need to do it and gives some comfort zone junkie a chance to discourage you.

Some people don’t deserve to join you on your journey. It would be wasted on them anyway. If you are attempting extraordinarily difficult things that 99% of humanity is too addicted to security to attempt, explaining yourself to them will be like explaining the cosmos to a flea. 

Fortunately, the opposite is also true, though rarely. If you have a friend or family member who is confident and secure enough to wholeheartedly wish you well, who encourages you and strengthens waining courage, who praises the slightest improvement and reminds you of the greatness within you even when you feel like you’re forgetting it, take the time you were going to spend with the dream-stealers and give it all to him/her. That person is a treasure in this world. 

What is it with dogs and mailmen?

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I was working in the garden recently and had left the front gate open for a minute when the mailman came walking up out of my sight. My overly friendly German shepherd mix Charlie charged out to say hello, barking his head off, and I heard what I thought was a little girl screaming.

I went out looking for the child but there was only our fifty-ish year old mailman standing there, a very macho-looking fellow with a goatee and Indiana Jones style sun hat. Charlie had accessed his primal scream.

In a forced and overly deep voice (to compensate for the girlish squeal he had just emitted, which probably shocked even him), he said, “You need to control that dog.” I apologized but he just grunted and walked away angry, embarrassed that my dog had unveiled his inner Wendy.