Terzackly 24 hours ago I got off a plane from Sweden where I visited with a lady very dear to me. I’d been looking forward to it for over a year and it was well worth the working and saving and planning. The worst part was the long flight with crying babies (not mine). The best part was being in the moment the entire time. No plans, no agenda, no place I had to be at any particular time, and wherever I was. I was happy to be there. Nothin’ like time with a person you care for, and when it lasts three weeks or more, it can deepen the relationship, especially if they also have the time.
Waking up in the morning with no plans and making it up as you go along together opens doors in the heart and mind. We went shopping and I actually concluded a transaction using only four of the dozen Swedish words I knew. We visited and partied with some of her friends and she translated for me when she felt it necessary. We would stay at her summerhouse a few days at a time and enjoy the sauna, the quiet, and the family of ducks who stopped by daily for a snack.
I’m glad to say that Rock & Roll is alive and well in Sweden, as is the love of American cars from the 50’s and 60’s, all beautifully restored. Also stunning is the countryside, gleaming colors with clear skies, and dotted with round bales of hay wrapped in white plastic. Looked like marshmallows on a bright green tablecloth. We toured churches going back centuries, and the manses of famous artists from the 1800’s. And the food! Most folks I met had vegetables and fruit growing in their backyards, and the rest is grown locally, a lot of it organic. I must have gained ten pounds at least. I remember bright flowers in the windows and gardens of houses we passed. Ahhh!
I guess the message I’m trying to convey here is to make time for friends daily, weekly and however often you can put it together. And when you are together, turn off the TV, throw away the paper and do something you’ve never done before….or not. Warm memories can be made without going anywhere. And if they live in another country, so much the better.You can learn a new language (good for the brain), you will spend quality time with folks you haven’t been with in a while (good for the heart), and you’ll notice that we humans are all pretty much the same (good for world peace).
Archive for the ‘The Human Potential Center’ Category
On August 3rd, against the proverbial odds, my Swedish Sweetheart and I were reunited once again by our mutual efforts and with the cooperation of complete strangers.It involved 3 passenger jets, an few changes in time zones, attention to detail, the stubborn perseverance and determination that goes with being even one half Swedish, and some measure of love and desire.
What’s that? You haven’t heard about Anna? The love of my life? Well, for the sake of brevity I could give you the abridged version, the one I give to those in my immediate vicinity, to include friends, business associates, store clerks and tech support people, or the longer, more detailed version.
Shorter? Okay, here it is. 1965 – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, decades pass. They reconnect using social media. Boy visits girl in country of her birth… 3 times in 3 years. Each time, he grows to love her more…to be continued….
Meanwhile, back at the Austin Airport (ABIA), I waited in line to present my papers only to be told that located to the right of the cordoned off area I had just walked through was a bank of computers to be used to swipe your passport, the new first step in the process. I tried, several times. On the last try, following exactly the directions on the screen, the computer printed up a statement saying it couldn’t do it. Aha! T’wasn’t me after all. Presenting this paper to the next clerical person, I stepped aside for him to try it himself. Oho! Further confirmation t’wasn’t me. Eventually, after a mini-conference behind the ticket counter, they verified my passport, passed my boarding pass to me and pointed in the direction of the next adventure.
After a short flight to Memphis and a short wait for the plane, a motley non-crew of passengers boarded for the 9 hour flight to Amsterdam. Before long I was reminded why I hadn’t flown, ridden a bus, or spent time in a “family restaurant” in years. Crying babies. And they all seemed to be sitting near me. I was, in effect, surrounded, and the ordeal began soon after take-off. If you’ve ever been engaged in an intimate conversation over a nice dinner at a find restaurant and abruptly interrupted by a pouting, screeching alien creature who just seconds earlier was as beatific as the Christ child, then you may be able to appreciate why some eateries ask diners with howling, possessed tots to leave. Such an option is, of course, not available when flying in a metal tube hundreds of feet in the air.
I have several suggestions to remedy such in-flight problems but will limit myself here to only the two I could think of that are legal and moral.
1) Ear plugs…the kind you have to mold to fit till you get a good seal, and
2) Follow that up with a set of headphones, the kind you buy at sporting goods stores to muffle the sound of gunshots.
As I didn’t have a pair of # 2’s, I wasn’t able to sleep on the flight as well as I would’ve liked, but thankfully, in Amsterdam, I found a solution.
No…not that. I’m talking about the area in the airport where faux forest scenery, including the sound of running water and tweeting birds, provided an unusually restful atmosphere for those travelers caught in a jet lag/time warp/ sleep deprived state of mind. I nodded out for a few hours on one of the many bean bag chairs found in the area.
Stepping off the plane in Sweden and retrieving my baggage, I found myself in an unanticipated dilemma. To save my Swedeheart from a four hour trip (one way) to pick me up, I was determined to find my own way to the train station which would provide me with a ticket to her hometown. However, the phone I’d been given by my service provider to use in Europe was just about out of juice. When I went to make a call to her, I found a text message that she was on her way, we had miscalculated the time differences and no trains were going her way at that time of night. I tried calling her again, but…no juice. I retrieved the assortment of plugs for Europe to be used in charging the phone, but didn’t recognize anything on the walls, that looked like a receptor. OK. Rather than risk and international incident by plugging something unusual looking into seemingly incompatible receptor, I walked over to an information booth and explained the problem. The lady there dialed my friend’s cell number on the info booth phone, and viola!!!. She had gone to the wrong terminal and would be at the right one soon. Time dragged, and just at the nadir of my despair, she walked into sight. Clouds parted, angels rejoiced, a tear or two was shed, hugs lingered, and we drove until after sunset, arriving at her home near midnite.
Moral? Problems are there to test you and make you stronger. If what you’re going for is worth it, you will find a way to overcome them…and help will come from unexpected sources. Just ask.
On assignment in Sweden
A while back, the daughter of my best friend’s wife took up barrel racing. Switched from volleyball to something a bit more dangerous. Now she’s good at it. Experience is an excellent teacher, and she’s got one or two scars to prove it.
So when I was invited along for a visit, I thought maybe I could get a good video of my bad self riding up, and saying howdy to the camera. Got all gussied up in my cowboy finest, channeled Hoppy, Gene and Roy, The Lone Ranger and the Cisco Kid, my Saturday morning TV favorites of long ago, and did it with the help of those with whom I was visiting. Not the best dismount ever, but…okay.
And it surprised me when they offered to give me a shot at barrel racing. Like I sometimes say to myself, “Well…..what the hell.”
For those of y’all who’ve never seen the sport, imagine a large rectangular corral with a gate at one end. Against the far end and on both sides are barrels. The rider enters at a gallop, leads the horse to circle the barrels along the side, then the one at the top, and back out the entrance gate. Around 15 seconds is a good score.
I was in a smaller corral than normal, but the game is the same. Someone yelled “Go”, I kicked the horse and off we went. Around the barrel on the left, then the right, over to the last one at the top, and back to the starting gate. Whew! What a ride! Time? Between two and three minutes if I remember incorrectly. Okay, so we weren’t going very fast, and were carefully circling each barrel, but I’m certain we almost got into a gallop in the home stretch. Of course, my youthful fantasies of being like Hoppy, Gene and Roy were somewhat diminished, but I had three things to show for it. An obviously bruised ego, a bruised butt (not immediately obvious), and the lesson learned…stick to being a weekend cowboy, preferably on the dance floor.
Don’t get me wrong, I love horses, but having a 2000 pound animal between your legs traveling at a fast gallop is something I now know I need to relegate to the distant past. A nice slow trail ride is more my speed.
I guess what I’m saying is “TRY IT!”….that activity you’ve always wanted to try. Like Argentine Tango, synchronized swimming, kayaking. Every new thing you try grows brain cells, and you’ll learn something about yourself. You don’t have to do dangerous things, but you do have to get up off the couch and stay active physically and mentally. Play board games with friends and/or neighbors, go to the courthouse and watch some trials, sit on your porch on an evening and try to find the big dipper and a few other constellations.
Or take a class at the Human Potential Center. I just finished one on “Getting Unstuck”, and for the past few days I’ve been positively enervated and intend to put what I’ve learned into action. More classes are offered on a lot of different subjects, so check out the website. http://www.humanpotentialcenter.org/
Me? Time to go soak my butt again.
Free popcorn, good people, intelligent discussion, all in a homelike setting, nobody texting on their phones, it doesn’t cost $6.50 and up and its free at the Human Potential Center.
I love movies. Its storytelling in its most expensive form. There are movies made to scare you, make you cry, make you laugh, make you angry, happy, inform you, and, with the industry’ descent into gross subjects involving precious bodily fluids introduced under the guise of humor, movies to make you sick and cause you to question your own sanity for paying the price of admission.
When I was a little guy, my folks could get rid of me for 3 hours for 25 cents at the movie house two blocks away. A dime to get in, a dime for popcorn, and a nickel for a soda. Yup, loooong time ago. And they were all double features with a cartoon to start things off. Ah, those were the days. In all that time I’ve only walked out on three of them. One was an Arnold Schwarzenegger, the second an Andy Warhol, and the most recent one by that “Borat” guy.
As the country grew, so did filmmaking. Special effects, incredible stunts, 3-D (the second time around for that genre), computer generated anything and everything, extreme violence with stupendous explosions and … well, if you can imagine it, you can make a movie of it. And several new movies opening every weekend. Movies with budgets equal to or more than the GNP of some small countries. Then there are the smaller films, independents and experimental, that you won’t see at the multiplex. And now you can use your phones to shoot and edit movies, add a soundtrack and put it on the web. Who’da thunk? I certainly didn’t.
Yet with all these advancements in technology, it all gets down to the story. What was the filmmaker trying to say? Did they succeed? The promos for all these movies exclaim “greatest”, “best”, etc. So you turn to the reviews by the professional reviewers, dependent on their mood at the time they saw the film, whether they saw it in a theater or at home, or how much they may be getting paid by the producers to give it a good rating.
We pays our money and we takes our chances. We spend cash to share the vision of the reputed filmmakers, suspending belief, allowing ourselves to be manipulated into exploring feelings we wouldn’t be able to in our “normal” lives.
We do it differently at the Human Potential Center. The films we view together still cover the range of American and foreign, independents, and even animation once in a while. Then we discuss how we were touched by them, what moved us individually, creating questions around the themes discussed that have a more universal ring. It’s amazing to watch that happen and be a part of, since so much of what you and I watch goes uncommunicated, underdiscussed, not shared. The Human Potential Center is the place for that…the joy of exploration. A safe place, good movies, supportive atmosphere, and free popcorn. What more could you ask for?
THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING! According to the Mayans, that is. Of course, if their calculations are just a teensy bit off, we may have a little more time. To do what? Well, Lots of things. There’s that bucket list, but I don’t have enough money yet to do those things…oh well. There’s the mortgage to continue paying on, just in case. Of course, just in case it should happen, maybe we should take the kid’s college money and go on an extended vacation, or maybe put it into building the perfect bomb shelter, stocking it with food , water, guns and bullets and stuff. Mmmm….nah! If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. Nothing I can do about it anyway……So…..
Wait! There might be something. Maybe I could forgive myself for all the mistakes I’ve made. And others…I could forgive them their mistakes. Oh, and while I’m at it, since I don’t really need a wide-screen tv or that new car, maybe I could donate some money to a worthy cause! Ah, but most of the money they get is put toward administration, and once you make a donation they’re always asking for more. I mean, I’ve got more address labels than I’ll ever be able to use. Hmmm…alright then, howzabout donating my time locally? Let’s see…soup kitchen? Nah, they’re mostly winos and drug addicts anyway. Wait a minute. I could mow Mrs. McGuilicutty’s lawn every now and then. Yeah, that’s it! But only if she lets me use my power mower. I don’t see how she can still use that push mower from….what?…50 years ago? Well, we’ll see.
Wow. I had no idea the coming of the end would make me think about things like this. Ah, but people have been predicting these kinds of things for years and they never happen anyway… Still, I suppose I could call the people I care about that I care about them…just in case. And I should hug more..yeah…but some people don’t like that kinda thing. Never hurts to ask, though. I should call some of my old friends, people I haven’t seen or heard from in a while, maybe remember together the good times we shared. Okay, I can do that.
Oh yah, I used to love to draw when I was a kid. Maybe take an art class. It is all summer reruns on tv anyway. And that guitar Aunt Penelope gave me before she passed. I did promise I would learn to play if she’d give it to me. I remember how well she played. Pretty stuff she made up. Now where did I put that thing? Oooh, and learn a language. I hear it is good for your brain. Grows brain cells. I’m sure I lost a few in some of my early years doing the stupid things I did. French maybe. It is the language of love, they say. Or maybe Swedish. Not as mellifluous as French, but it has a certain lilt to it. And grampa and gramma came from there over a hundred years ago.
Lotsa things to do, but where to find the time? I’ll make time, I guess….or not…..oh well…
Fill in the blank
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers.
In my own life, I’ve “taken for granted” my partner, and soon assumed they would always be there. After a while, they weren’t. It was very painful. I’d settled in to a routine, not bringing the whole plate home on a daily basis. Complacency in relationships with loved ones need not occur. One in a while you can bring something new to it, something you can share and grow into together by doing it with each other. One asset that might help is to become a good listener, a compassionate listener, non-judgmental, offering your opinion only when asked. Another is to take a moment while going through the normal daily machinations and stopping to give a hug, a kiss, and/or a foot massage. Jewels aren’t necessary. Loving kindness is.
Let’s move on to work. Either it’s a career you love, looking forward to each day with a sense of adventure, or it’s a job and pays the bills, but you’ve always wanted to “fill in the blank”. Many wonderfully creative people I’ve known have settled into complacency and no longer strive to create, leaving little time for it in their average day. The phrase, “Life gets in the way,” comes up in conversations with them. To a degree, it is also true for me.
How many times has Madonna re-created herself? How many times have you? Have you been playing the same role(s) day after day, ad infinitum? Mother, father, son, daughter, employee, entrepreneur, lover, loner? Ask yourself, “If I just changed a few things, might life be more fun?” Shake it up a little. Take that Argentine Tango class, slim down and shape up. Learn how to play a musical instrument, learn a new language, write that novel. If you need more time, try working part-time, volunteer, start a non-profit…..Resist Complacency.
That’s why I like living in Austin. There’s an aliveness here I love. But what is done here can be done in Kansas, even if it’s only by you…. in between tornadoes of course. They’re never complacent about tornadoes in Kansas. In San Francisco, it’s earthquakes.
In the financial world we’ve seen the result of complacency in 401K’s being wiped out, businesses going under, and greed becoming the norm in an every man for himself world. What happened? Yup, you guessed it. Nobody was watching, nobody cared, we got too comfy. Less than 40% of us voted without doing research on issues or candidates. Enter the nefarious ne-er- do wells.
So personally, professionally, spiritually, and in every other way you can imagine, open your mind to the opportunities to grow in ways of which you’ve only dreamed. It is your movie, you are the star. Drama? Comedy? More choices abound.
Me? I’m still working on it. Can’t afford to get too comfy.
TO SCRATCH WHERE IT ITCHES
TO THINK FOR YOURSELF
TO SMILE WHEN YOU’RE HAPPY
TO FROWN WHEN YOU’RE NOT
TO SING WHEN YOU WANT TO
TO DANCE TO YOUR OWN MUSIC
TO CRY WHEN YOUR HEART HURTS
TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN WAY
TO PLAN AHEAD
TO LOOK BACK NOW AND AGAIN
TO CHOOSE TO BE HERE
TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE
TO WISH THINGS WERE DIFFERENT
TO PLAN TO CHANGE THINGS
TO ENJOY WHAT YOU HAVE
TO TRY, AND FAIL
TO TRY AGAIN
TO BE THANKFUL OR UNGRATEFUL
TO BELIEVE WHAT YOU WILL
TO SAY A SILENT PRAYER
TO LEARN ABOUT WHATEVER YOU LIKE
TO RUN AROUND NAKED IN YOUR ABODE
TO TAKE A WALK
TO OGLE OTHER PEOPLE
TO WONDER “WHAT IF?”
TO ACT ON YOUR DREAMS
TO LIVE WITH YOUR CHOICES
TO DRAW A PICTURE
TO PAINT A CANVAS
TO LEARN AN INSTRUMENT
TO LISTEN TO MUSIC YOU LIKE
TO LEARN TO JUGGLE
TO CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE
TO LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR CHOICES
TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
TO APOLOGIZE FOR SOMETHING YOU DID
TO APOLOGIZE FOR SOMETHING YOU SHOULD HAVE
TO FORGIVE YOURSELF
TO FORGIVE OTHERS
TO DISAGREE WITH SOMEONE
TO LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
TO WRITE A BOOK
TO WRITE A PLAY, A POEM, A SCREENPLAY, OR A SONG
TO ENJOY A BABY’S GIGGLE
TO HELP SOMEONE WHO CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES
TO GIVE YOUR TIME, ENERGY, AND/OR MONEY TO WHOMEVER OR WHATEVER YOU LIKE
The freedoms listed above may or may not have positive or negative consequences should you choose to use them. Anything illegal, immoral, harmful to oneself or others or just plain downright nasty is not a freedom.
You even have the freedom to think of your own freedoms and share them, if you like, by sending them to me by snail mail at the Human Potential Center, 2007 Bert, Austin, TX 78704.
It’s a phrase that’s part of the social grease, like “please” and “thank you”. Found more often lately at the end of a conversation at the cash register, mandated by management, its become less effective over time. Yet we’ve come to expect it. And that’s the problem. Now it the time that tries men’s (and women’s) creativity. Time to spice things up a little. Lets step away from the usual, now and then, and take the time to enhance these conversation closers. Prepare ahead of time by getting out your thesaurus and looking up alternatives to “nice” and “good”. Synonyms. Then write a few short or long phrases, using words like “especially” and “overhwelmingly” to add even more spice. Then, the next time you hear “Have a nice day”, instead of thoughtlessly responding with “You as well”, or “You too”, or “double back atcha”, try something like….oh I don’t know…maybe….”And may you have an inarguably superific and unquestionably sensational day!” Do it with a smile and see what happens. A bit of street theater if you will. It’s fun. And if it lifts the mood of the recipient even a mere iota, it’s worth it.
When on the phone with the inevitable tech support person, I usually hear “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” when we’re finished. All part of the script, and much overused but now tolerated. Aha…an opportunity! I usually say “Yes, when you get home from work, kick off your shoes and have a glass of wine or a comparable beverage of your choice.” It takes them out of the drone mode and you might hear a smile in their reply. Spreading joy here and there. It’s a good thing…win-win.
A variation of this form of what I call “enhanced communication” is to take an already much used word and add a few gleeful new endings to them, like stupendatational” or “superific”. Play with this beautiful language we’ve inherited and stretch you brain.. Good mental exercise for both parties in the chat and can create a spark for both in an otherwise exceptionally blah work day.
And imagine if this “caught fire” or “went viral”! Obviously, English is an evolving language and we can all help it do so by playing with it; When I finaly got old enough, it was suggested that I “go outside and play”. What a concept! I’ve been doing so ever since.
This morning I would like to wish you an exceptionally stupendous, almost overwhelmingly glorious and satisfying day.
Then it must be inside you. Let it out. There are many ways to do that; sing, dance, play an instrument. You don’t know how to sing? There’s an app for that. Dance? There are several for that depending on which style you prefer. Play an instrument? Yup, that too. And “how to” videos on youtube for all of this. So no excuses. Time? If you want to learn, you will make time. Singing dancing and playing. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It is!! There is some work involved in learning these things, but the rewards are worth the effort. If you sing in the shower, that counts. If you dance by yourself when nobody’s home, that counts too. And when you’ve learned how to play one instrument, there are many more to learn.
I play guitar. Not as well as others, but better than some. That’s also true for dancing. ..and singing. It seems like wherever one is on road of creative learning, there’s always someone ahead and someone behind. So go at your own pace. It isn’t a competition. It’s about discovery, and expression and, when you feel you’re ready, sharing.
that’s the scary part. You’ve practiced and practiced and gotten good at one thing and, through an unique set of circumstances you arrived at a point where someone, prefereably a friend at first, asks you to “show me”. GACK!!! You try to beg off, delay, change the subject, excuse yourself to “freshen up” and try to think of a way out. If you succeed in doing that, an almost overwhelming sense of relief, accompanied by an audible “Whew.” occurs. Yet you know that you have just delayed the inevitable. They will ask again.
Or….you face your fears, give it all you’ve got and hope for the best. And it works or it doesn’t. If it does, you’ve just done something you once thought you couldn’t do, and your heart is still beating, and you notice you feel a little bit more alive than you were a few minutes ago. If it doesn’t, you gracefully accept any constructive criticism, and practice some more. Anyone who crushed dreams is not a friend.
So..you hear music but there’s no one there…Correction….there is….you. The music is inside you, and there are any number of ways to share it, including showing some one else who wants to learn.
Or you can choose to not share. Free will. You will still benefit from the expression of the music. That’s one of the things i love about it. The learning, singing, playing and dancing will feel good anyway.
I don’t remember who sent me the card, or how long ago, but its been on my shelf for at least 20 years now, yellowing with age around the edges.
DANCE. as though no one is watching
SING as thou no one can hear you
LOVE as though you’ve never been hurt before
LIVE as though heaven is here on earth
To that last one I’d add, “It is”, and doing the above you help you realize that.
I haven’t done it lately. TOO HOT, if you know what I mean and I think you do. For those who don’t know, I’m talking about walking a golf course, albeit smaller than the kind on which clubs are used, and throwing a plastic disc as far as you can in the direction of the hole. The hole is a standing pipe with chains hanging from the top which ar attached to the outer rim of the basket about halfway down the pole. When you get near it, the idea is to tosse the disc into the basket. Scored pretty much like the other kind of golf, it is a nice way to spend an hour in outdoors; fresh air, sweat, frustration, persistence, friendly competition, and, when you make it into the hole, a sense of really having accomplished something. And its cheap. No green fees, as most disc golf courses are in public parks. No club houses, so bring your own refreshments. No golf carts, so if you’re not up for a bit of hiking, don’t go. If you do, what you’ll find are alot of trees and bushes and water traps. No sand.
Somehow these discs occasionally …disappear. Yes, try as you might to fling it straight, it …veers. Sure you keep an eye on it as it soars, but when you get to where you thought it landed, it isn’t there. If you find it nearby, or way up a tree, or under a particularly verdant bush, consider yourself lucky. All in all a good analogy for life I suppose, but you saw that coming didn’t you?
You know going in that it won’t be easy. All you have to do is stay on the straight and narrow. Make your aim true and let fly. With each game, you take what you’ve learned from the previous games and try to apply it. Many factors apply; wind speed and direction, personal strength, aerodynamics, goal setting and form, among others. There’s even a bit of zen about it. When teeing off, I like to take a moment, calm my mind, envision the path the disc will take to the hole, and glide into the form I’ve developed through infrequent practice and tips from fellow players. (Yes, it’s a social as well as physical exercise) and when it actually lands where I intended, there’s a sort of mini elation, after which I thank the powers that be…just in case.
On a disc golf course, aside from the “real” terrain, is the quality of the people you meet and with whom you may play. These aren’t your corporate honchos, making business deals with others of their ilk. You won’t find folks with the latest, well-shined, cleated shoes and an altitude attitude. I’m talking about blue jeans and t-shirts. And the whole family can do it together. Or you can do it alone. Exercise, problem-solving, sun, fun, and….FREE! Two discs per person is about all you’ll need. Google “disc golf” and I’m sure you’ll find a course near you. Try it, you’ll like it. I guaranty.