What are you missing when you are stressing

One of my favorite movies growing up was an indie film called Extreme Days.  It’s a corny Christian attempt at the road trip comedy genre with some extreme sports scenes scattered throughout to keep it interesting.

I loved it.  It was quotable, it was clean, and I had a huge crush on Jessie (Cassidy Rae).

I remember playing spoons with friends who hadn’t seen the movie and then showing them the spoons scene.  It was awesome.  My friends and I still quote Extreme Days almost 15 years later.

One of the best lines in the movie is a narration by Will.  As you watch their convertible Joyota drive through the mountains after a rainstorm that has left them all drenched and freezing he says this:

“We had some random things happen to us; some good, some bad, some u can’t explain, some u don’t want to, but one thing we did learn for sure…when God throws a curveball…don’t duck…u just might miss something.”

In the past two weeks I’ve had more curveballs than I know what to do with.  My Dad got an awesome promotion that is taking him to Texas which means the timeline for me to find my own place just shrunk drastically.

I thought I found a house, and got pretty stoked, only to get outbid.

My daughter, who is only 4 1/2 had to get a root canal on the day of her first ballet recital two weeks before her new dental coverage kicks in.

And that’s just been the big stuff.  It’s been crazy!

I’m doing a wedding this weekend and traveling to speak at a church in Ajo next weekend.  My schedule is filling up fast and my stress level is following suite.

All weekend I’ve been stressing out about houses and schedules and finances and my gut instinct has been to binge watch How I met your Mother on Netflix.

I sat down this morning to face the dreaded blank page, having not written anything in two weeks and realized that I’ve been ducking curveballs all weekend.

Curveballs are scary.  They start out coming right at your head and the only thing you can think is “BAIL OUT!!!!”   I tend to retreat into myself and pretend like the “stuff” that is happening, isn’t.  I binge watch netflix or zone out playing spider solitaire all in an effort to “decompress” but as soon as the episode is over or I realize that there are no longer any productive moves which means the ipad has bested me again… the stress comes back.

When you duck a curveball, that doesn’t stop you from having to stand in the box and get ready for the next pitch and to follow the metaphor all the way through, if you duck too many curveballs, chances are you strike out.

My encouragement to you, and challenge to myself, this week is to stand in there.  Duck your shoulder, pause for a split second to give that curveball time to dive into the zone and then swing for the fence and celebrate as the old time announcer screams “It’s got the distance… And YOU…. CAN…. KISS….. IT….. GOODBYE!!!!!!!!!!”

 

Photo by Carl Jones

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How to make Alexander the Great give you anything you want.

So I like stories.  I’ve talked about that a bit.  Okay a lot.

But Legends are even cooler.

Legends are stories that told so well and for so long that they transcended the medium of story and we had to make up a new word to classify them.

Legends.

I found a particularly interesting legend while I was reading today.  Hope you like it.

Painting of Diogenes and Alexander

Painting of Diogenes and Alexander

“According to legend, Diogenes slept in a tub in the open air, carried food in a wallet and was not ashamed to beg alms.  Even his begging was unconventional. “My friend,” he once said to a miserly man who was slow to respond, “it’s for food I want, not funeral expenses.”

On another occasion he was found begging alms of a statue, “in order,” he said, “to get practice in being refused.” 

By the time Alexander had ascended the throne of Macedon, the fame of Diogenes, then some seventy years old, had spread throughout Greece.  One day, as the old philosopher lay sunning himself in his tub, Alexander rode up with his retinue.  Drawing rein in front of the tub, he announced: “I am Alexander the Great.” 
“And I,” replied the other composedly, “am Diogenes the Dog.”

“Are you not afraid of me?”  Alexander asked. 

“Why, what are you, something good or something evil?”

“Something good, of course.”

“Well,” retorted Diogenes, “Who would be so foolish as to fear anything good?”

Struck with admiration for this answer, Alexander exclaimed, “Ask anything you wish of me, and I will grant it.”

“Then be so kind,” said Diogenes, “as to get out of my sunlight.””

Diogenes was a contemporary of Plato and as a Philosopher, barely contributed anything positive to humanity, though he is well known for giving people the finger.

He spent most of his time as a philosopher begging for money and finding holes in the philosophies of others.  While Diogenes is far from a role model, there are at least 3 things that we can learn from this story.


 

1. Confidence

 

I mean lets be honest, the balls on this guy…

WOW!!!

I wish I were so bold.

Diogenes, at least according to legend, carries this air of confidence in himself that is pretty profound.

“Great to meet you.  Alexander the Great was it?  I am Diogenes the dog and no I’m not afraid of you but could you take a step to your right bro, you’re blocking the rays.”


 

 2. Humility

When humility is paired with confidence, leadership is born.

One of my fears as an author and business owner is that when I talk about my business I’ll sound arrogant and turn people off.

Diogenes is humble, at least in this story. He’s even polite.  He’s simple and the man knows what he wants.  He’s found a way to balance this simple humility with a confident and determination that causes Alexander to offer him anything he wants.

Sure his lifestyle choices are a bit odd but he’s content with them so quit judging.

His confidence doesn’t come across as arrogant because he balances the confidence with humility. 


 

 3. Don’t fear the good stuff

“Who would be so foolish as to fear anything good?” 

What a profound question.

As a questions so why is it so hard to answer?  We fear good things all the time.  We fear taking the next step in a relationship even when it’s a good one.

We fear moving toward our dreams.  Sometimes we fear that our dreams might fail which I get but we also fear that they might succeed, and that it might change everything. 


 

My encouragement to you this Friday is to learn from Diogenes the Dog and quit fearing good things. 

Diogenes, while sitting in a bath tub in front of Alexander the Great, was confident, he was humble, and he wasn’t afraid of something good.

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe.  Thanks so much for reading.

 

*The Legend of Diogenes was originally written by Will Durant in a book titled “The Mentions of Philosophy” in 1929 but I found it while reading a book called “The Making of a Martial Artist” by Sang Kyu Shim.

What Poems and People have in common

I mentioned in a post titled “I wish I could hate you” that I like poetry but dislike poems.  When I first wrote that, it served as a moment of self-discovery.  Part of me has always known this truth about myself, but writing it was like discovering it for the first time.  It made it real.

Admitting to not liking poems is kind of like admitting that you don’t like dogs.  Side note: I don’t like dogs, not even when they are puppies.  I know what you’re thinking but I’m not a cat person either and dislike cats even more than I dislike dogs.  I don’t like chocolate ice cream either.  Now that you are all enraged and confused, let’s talk about poetry.

Why do I like poetry?  Well I think it’s because I like things that fit.  Things that tie up or reconnect well.  Things that flow smoothly and then abruptly stop… only to pick back up again.

I like the poetry of life and the poetry of art.  I like the poetry of a great movie or a song that’s particularly touching, but it’s only on rare occasions that I actually appreciate the poetry of poems.

Why do I not like poems?  The majority of poems that I have read seem superficial and vapid.  I struggle to connect with them because many of them are void of context.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying.  There are some poems that I really love but I have to search hard to find a poem that makes an impact on my emotional psyche.

It is difficult, at least for me, to derive meaning outside of relationship and outside of story.  Reading poems outside of their authors context, places the burden of meaning on me and I don’t want that responsibility.  Many readers enjoy this burden because the poem inspires them to be creative and then they can manipulate the poem to mean whatever they need it to mean, but I hate it.

I want to know what the author meant.  I want to know who he or she is and how they felt writing their poem. I’ve found that when I do know the author, or at least something about the author, my enjoyment of their poetry is dramaticly increased.

As I think about my relationship to poems, I can’t help but draw a connection to my relationship with strangers. 

When I read a poem but don’t know the author, the poem becomes a fairly meaningless collection of consonants and vowels that struggle to make up words.

Similarly when I meet a stranger, but don’t know their story, they become just a body.  A collection of arms and legs that have the appearance of life but, at least to me, have not become a person yet.  A body, void of personality and story, is just a body.  It’s just flesh.  Easily objectified, judged, or ignored.  But add a back story, a personality, a sense of humor, and what was just a body or collection of words becomes a PERSON, becomes poetry.

It is a struggle to make the shift from seeing people as a just bodies.  It requires that we transcend the physical and look to the emotional and spiritual, and that has always been difficult for me. I’m clearly not the only one either.  Superficial objectification and judgment are not just my problems.  They are our society’s problems. 

It’s much easier to judge a book by its cover than it is to read the book and then review and interact with its content.  It’s easier to make assumptions based on a person’s clothing than it is to take the time to get to know their character.  It is much simpler to see stature than story, boobs than brains but I’m not satisfied seeing people this way and so I am working to push past the physical in order to connect on emotional and even spiritual levels.

I’m not perfect so I welcome ideas from any of you that have struggled with this.  I will say that the thing that has helped me the most recently is to notice a person’s eyes.

It’s been said that, “The eyes are the window to the soul” and so it is only natural that the eyes become the road that we travel on the journey from body to soul. Beatutiful Eyes Best Wallpapers 7

Eyes are emotional body parts.  They are first physical and therefore part of noticing the way someone looks but they also express and show the emotional side of a person.  Looking into a person’s eyes helps me transition from noticing their body to noticing their soul.

When I remember to notice a stranger’s eyes, it becomes much easier for me to connect with them and have conversations deeper than small talk about the weather.

What things help you connect to people and see them as more than just a collection of body parts?

What should my consequences be?

So I want to start posting twice a week but I’m scared to death that I won’t be able to keep up.

I’ve learned though that there are three things that I have to do in order to make a goal happen.  1) Set a goal 2) Tell everybody and 3) Set Consequences.

The Goal has been set. And now I’ve told everybody.  All I need now is consequences.  Comment with your ideas.

That being said, I want to make this blog a thing, and everything I read is telling me that great content, created and published often, is the biggest step you can take toward building your “tribe”.  So I’m gonna quit being scared, and start peeing into the wind.

Be patient with me as I get the hang of it. Know that, for sure I’ll post every Tuesday morning, but check back on Fridays as well. I’m trying to think of a manageable way to keep Friday’s interesting.

I may pick an inspiring quote each Friday and discuss what I think it means.

Maybe friday can be more of a journal/update from Andrew day. I’d like to do a better job of keeping track of my goals. This might be a fun place to do that. I’m sure that as the blog grows, Friday’s will evolve.

For today, I’ll leave you with this quote. It’s from “The Making of a Martial Artist” by Sang Kyu Shim:

“To have changed often is to have lived much”image

Have a fantastice, change filled weekend everybody!

See you on Tuesday.