How Do You Face Life’s Challenges?

Here is a story conveyed to me some time ago. I have been reflecting on it a great deal recently and I sincerely hope that it will be of benefit to you as difficulties arise in your life.

Challenges IIIOn a migratory journey down south, a bird decided to leave his flock believing that he could reach their intended destination quicker. While in flight through a cold winter spell his wings became stiff and started to ice over.  He noticed a peaceful patch of land near a farmhouse and decided to land to de-ice his wings.  Shortly after landing in the field, a very large and somewhat unimpressive cow wandered over.  She asked the bird what was he doing to which he sarcastically replied, “I am trying to thaw my feathers so that I can continue on my journey south. Why else would I be here in winter?”  He went on to convey to the curious cow that he should have never left his flock because he has done nothing but waste time especially speaking with her.  The cow, with very little expression, told him that she understood not bothered at all by his sarcasm. She then turned around and proceeded to drop a large amount of “dung” on top of him then walked away very casually.  The bird was both shocked and angry.  The odorous, hot manure dumped Challenge IVon him was an awful thing to do he lamented.  What a worthless, miserable old cow to do such a thing. The emotion consumed him as he now had to clean the smelly dung from his wings.

Shortly there after, a cat wandered over to him. He stated to the bird that he had observed everything that had transpired.  He also stated that it was an incredibly mean-spirited thing for the cow to do. The bird agreed and expressed how much difficult the cow had made life for him.  The cat then offered his assistance in cleaning the dung off of him. He stated that he could lick that off of him in no time at all and he would be free to be on his way.  The bird accepted the cat’s assistance with very little thought at all. He felt that he had wasted enough time in that field and could not stop thinking about the choice he had made with respect to leaving the flock.  The cat promptly kept to his word and cleaned every bit of the manure from Challenges Ihis wings. The bird was elated, and could not thank him enough.  He then prepared to take flight again to get back on his journey. It was in that moment the cat displayed all of his teeth dripping with saliva. He grabbed hold of the bird and swallowed him whole.

You may have heard of this fable before or some variation there of.   I am sure that the meaning of it is quite clear to you.

  1. Everyone who dumps on you is not necessarily your enemy or are hurting you
  2. Everyone who helps you is not necessarily your friend

For me, it was quite profound as it helped me to see life in a different light.  The problems that I had in my life were not necessarily a bad thing. Like the ice on the bird’s wings they provided the means for me to learn from and grow wiser.  Also everyone who has made my life difficult or I believed made my life difficult, whether intentionally or not, had actually provided me with an opportunity to learn, grow stronger and mature.  Much like the bird, we don’t recognise the benefits of something done to us (or for us) because of the stench or pain associated with it.  Conversely, everyone (or everything) that seemed great and beautiful that wanted to make my life easier wasn’t necessarily helping me. “All that glitters is not gold” as they say.  Wisdom and knowledge are derived from our struggles and our ability to accept “what is” and move on from it.  Looking back and regretting the choices we have made can be an exercise in futility and a waste of much needed energy.

We may lose faith, stumble and fall from the overwhelming weight of our situations at times but we must continue on. Success and happy endings are never guaranteed but the journey itself is what’s important and how we conduct ourselves along the way.  As for the problems we face?  There will always be problems but in difficult times I try to reflect on the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – “There is nothing neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so”.   How you view an event is what determines the reality of it to you. I realise that these are merely words and can seem useless to someone who is “walking through fire” so to speak. But in them one may find hope and faith.  For without either of these we truly are doomed and we condemn the world around us as well.

I wish everyone good health, strength to overcome difficult challenges and the wisdom to grow and learn from them.

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Duality Of Life Not Realised

Duality II

I dream dreams and numerous possibilities emerge of realities yet to manifest

I awake to a world of concrete shape and form rooted in pain, fear and despair

I think thoughts of alternative probabilities which have not materialised

and I ask myself……”Why?”

 

Wisdom I

How Many Languages Do You Speak?

languages IIHow many languages do you speak? A lot more than you realise I am willing to wager. Language, according to one  definition is a method of communication between individuals, groups and societies which can be verbal, nonverbal or written. It can consist of structured words and sentences, expressions, sounds, numbers or even pictographs to name but a few. Whatever the form language takes, to be effective it must be understood mutually by both sender and receiver.  Therein lies the problem that most of us experience when trying to relate our thoughts, ideas and feelings to one another.

Language has evolved much over the span of human existence from the cave paintings and drawings of early man to the cuneiform characters of Mesopotamia and Persia; from the ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs to the evolution of Greek and Roman forms of communication and on to our modern languages in all of its many forms and dialects.  Lets not fail to mention the evolution of computer language. Yes that’s right, even machines have their own way of communicating with each other as well as with us.

Most of us are fortunate if we can effectively use our native tongue correctly to properly communicate with one another in our own society wherever that may be. To understand and speak a second language places you in a unique category among the worlds population. Beyond that, well you are in an upper echelon of communicating with others and probably just showing off.  But I would like to submit to you more food for thought.  For those of us that are in the one language category take heart. I am going to propose to you that your language skills are increased seven fold without you realising it and they are constantly evolving. You may thank me later if you wish.

Beyond the traditional languages out there such as English, French, German, Spanish etc. are the non-traditional ones that we usually don’t consider. They are based in factors such as our gender, race, religion, age and environment to name but a few. That’s right, each one of the aforementioned serves as a specific language that we all uniquely speak and everyone of those factors combine with others forming the basis of our communication ability. So for instance, a 19 year old, Hispanic, Catholic male from the Southern California region of the United States will speak a different language and have different frames of references than a 40 year old Caucasian Protestant female from New York even though both may understand and speak the English language perfectly.  The same is applicable to any group or subgroup from any country or society.  If you factor in other peculiar aspects such as our political affiliations, educational background, personal experiences, whether you are liberal or conservative and so on an so forth, you can clearly appreciate the unique language that every human being speaks.  Conversely, all of those unique factors contributing to our language skills are also what makes our ability to communicate effectively with one another that much more difficult regardless of what formal language or languages we speak.

language - Babel IRecall the Christian biblical story of Babel and the confusion experienced when all of the workers began speaking different languages foiling their attempt to erect a tower to heaven? Well think of how that confusion is magnified exponentially based on the specific characteristics mentioned earlier.  Yes we speak many languages but, in my opinion, find it difficult to comprehend or appreciate the unique language of others when attempting to communicate our thoughts and ideas. So the next time you engage someone in a conversation appreciate the fact that both of you are multilingual with very different perspectives and endeavour to understand and respect each others distinctive point of view.

The Price of Conflict

worldinconflict II Upon listening to news reports of the various conflicts that are ongoing around the world such as in the Ukraine, Syria, ISIS in Iraq and others, I came to the conclusion that no matter how hideous, unjust or irrational as these wars and others may seem they are serving a means by which others can profit monetarily.  I know that the aforementioned statement may horrify some but please bear with me for a moment.  This is not some chastising lecture on war profiteering but on profiteering in general regardless of the conflict.

Consider this, you can’t sell guns, tanks or any other weapons of destruction to those who have perpetual peace with one another  just as you can’t sell your services as a lawyer in civil litigation cases to those who are willing to resolve their issues peacefully and amicably.  The simple truth is, conflict sells.  Regardless of whether you are referring to global, national and local conflicts or civil disputes involving businesses, groups or individuals. The entertainment industry is another fine example of exploiting conflict for profit. Just think about the television programmes you watch especially those reality shows.  Would they really peak your interest if there weren’t some disagreement to be resolved or even two or more individuals involved in a heated verbal or physical altercation? It is not my intention to insult your television habits so forgive me if I have.  I only want to  give you some food for thought.

Reflect also on the billions amount in arms sales made across the world.  Threats and potential threats whether real or imagined fuel billions if not more in arms sales for various businesses and governments alone. I am also sure that we would be just as astonished with regard to the total cost that goes into resolving civil conflicts that is if solicitors weren’t so secretive about the amount of billable charges that are made to clients owing their secrecy to attorney client privilege.  I am quite sure that everyone gets there piece of the conflict pie to include courts/clerks etc.

In my opinion there will always be conflict because of the simple fact that there is money to be made in it and because we as individuals, allow ourselves to be manipulated into fueling the very conflict that ravage our societies and our lives which in-turn places the burden of cost directly on us to resolve them. In other words we initiate or fuel the conflict and become victimize by it directly or indirectly and then pay the cost of resolving them thereby allowing others to profit. Utilising a regional conflict or war as one example:

  • conflict erupts within a region or across several countries due to some dispute
  • as the conflict rages, damage is done both in terms of lives lost and infrastructures destroyed
  • weapons are purchased and sent to the region for the combatants to wage or escalate their war
  • When the conflict is finally resolved, (if it is resolved) money must be borrowed in order to rebuild what was lost

This may be an over-simplification of conflict profiteering but it is worth your consideration.

Now there are no ready-made solutions as every conflict has its own unique origin but I believe that, like with so many other things, it is within our control to limit the escalation of conflicts on all levels both individually and collectively. As I have mentioned in past posts, it will require us to look within ourselves and take control over our emotions and our actions.  We must stop feeding oxygen to the fires of conflict in all of its various forms and endeavour to circulate the winds of peace. Only then can we stop the endless cycle of violence and bankrupt the mechanisms of our own destruction.

The Choices We Make

Choice III had a discussion recently regarding ethics and the choices that we make with one of my nieces who is currently attending college.  The subject came up in relation to a recent political issue we were discussing – the perfect segue if you ask me. She is one of those incredibly hardworking (2 to 3 jobs) and focused individuals especially with respect to making money.  I mentioned something along the lines of “If people would only care about others, the environment in which we live and do the right things, there would be fewer social problems to deal with in this world”.  That was a bit of an idealistic statement I know but none-the-less true. She responded, “But there is no money in that way of thinking. Most people these days care about themselves, personal wealth and the things that they can have.”  She went on to allude that I am somewhat archaic in my beliefs. Now I am one that generally dislikes getting upset but I found myself coming undone a bit by her statements.  I then took a step back and started reflecting on what she said and society in general. Regardless of how I felt personally I understood that she was, to a large degree, correct.

I mean one would only have to watch your local and national newscasts to see that this is indeed a very self-centered and materialistic society in which we live.  Think back to how many reports involving unethical behaviour by individuals, businesses and governments that have resulted in some major scandal.  I am sure you don’t even have to sit in front of the idiot box to do that. Everyone of us have some issue or event in which we reference regarding the aforementioned.

An important point to consider then is “Why if given a choice to do something that would satisfy our own self-centered desires or support a common social good that we would choose the former the majority amount of the time?”  Just think about that question for a moment and perhaps possible situations that you have found yourself in.  I mean if you had come across a wallet or purse with a large amount of money in it and no form of identification, would you turn it in to the authorities or keep the money for yourself?  Now add to that scenario that you are having difficulties of your own financially and could really use the money you found. Be honest in your assessment of your actions because that is the only way to clearly understand yourself and perhaps the nature of others.  Would you immediately think to turn it in or would you pause and ponder exactly whether or not you should keep it? Would you try to use your own personal belief system, regardless of what that might be, and try to rationalise that you should keep it? For instance, I found this money in a time of need because a divine being planned for me to have it.

The question wasn’t one to put you on the spot to make you feel uncomfortable or guilty but to make you reflect honestly on yourself and the world we live in.  There are many examples of unethical choices that have been made throughout the history of humankind and the disturbing way in which we tried to rationalise them.  Just about every government scandal that comes to mind; the reasons for the wars we wage; the manner in which we harness our environmental resources and especially the way in which we interact with one another on micro and macro levels all provide poignant examples of our inability to make honest, unselfish choices. Is it any wonder that pessimism generally prevails regardless of where you live, what you do, the deity you believe in, your race, culture, gender, political affiliation and so on and so forth ad nauseam?  We try to convince ourselves that things will magically get better or that a divine being will come and save us from the evil and disillusionment that seems to permeate every aspect of our lives. Or perhaps beings from another world, dimension, etc. will relate divine guidance and wisdom to us and alter the course of this downward spiral we seem to find ourselves on. Sidebar, isn’t that the reason hero films are so popular now? Because we need someone or something to save us from ourselves.

Choice II believe that the truth to altering our current dark path is a bit more simplistic than that.  It involves each and everyone one us reflecting upon ourselves and taking stock of the choices that we make. Yes, that’s right completing a stock-take.  It requires us to be considerate, not just of our own needs and requirements but that of others – our family, friends, neighbors,  and communities.  We must challenge ourselves to understand that sacrificing certain aspects of our selfish desires strengthens the world around us thereby enabling us to form more cohesive communities and societies. We also must resist the negative influences and emotions both internal and external that may corrupt our thought processes and decision-making abilities. Blaming others, our communities, the organisations we find ourselves apart of; our government institutions and everything else is a very easy and passive thing to do. However, when all is said and done, the individual choices we make are the basis for our lives and the societies in which we reside. The personal responsibility we choose to accept or deny for the actions we have chosen to take becomes the foundation for what we will become.

 

Wisdom I

 

Adiuva me verterem figuram mundi  Thoth II

Altering Established Perceptions

human-perceptionIn the beginning of Jonathan Black’s book “The Secret History of the World”, he attempts to persuade us to alter the way in which we perceive established concepts of our reality.  I believe this is vital in trying to understand the nature of our lives in context today and to clearly see the truth.  In other words, what we see, feel and think is not necessarily the truth of our reality but what we are manipulated into seeing, feeling, believing or even experiencing.  Much like the job of the fictional character Don Draper in the award-winning series “Mad Men”, we are sold everything that we could possibly desire.   And in a world where we generally expect to have our desires met quickly, acceptance of what we are sold occurs virtually without question.  We rarely care how we get something or where it comes from so long as the manipulated desires are met. In order to see the truth and gain a better understanding of ourselves and the society in which we live, we must first gain control over ourselves and our desires. We must alter our perception of how we’ve been trained to think. It is truly amazing how we have been conditioned especially over the past several decades.  We no longer interact with one another to the degree we once did. Instead we text, email, tweet and use so many other forms of social media which has, to a great degree, curtailed our social interaction skills with one another.  Our ability to formulate thoughtful, coherent conversations and communications have been replaced with text speak such as lol, btw, ty, brb, emoticons as well as others.

We are conditioned to monitor our credit scores instead of our academic and intellectual development. Iphones and Ipads are must haves even to the point of stealing these devices from others.  One is looked down upon or easily dismissed without the proper car, home or job.  Our looks, possessions and status has taken center stage over our basic needs and requirements.

Now it cannot be denied that some technologies have improved our lives and our ability to communicate with one another over great distances.  Some have actually been beneficial in relating news and other concerns to those with limited access. But what of those who now text or email one other within close proximity or even within the same residence?  Our youth are now conditioned to spend more time inside doing as little as possible instead of interacting with each other, developing necessary social skills that re-enforce respect for different ideas, cultures and backgrounds.  Even the education that is received today seems to be important only in the context of which institution it is obtained from.

Changing ones thoughts, beliefs and subsequent actions is never an easy task especially in the face of overwhelming influences to the contrary. However, in order to see reality, to comprehend the truth, we must overcome the false perceptions that we have been trained to accept.  Only then can we begin to challenge the false reality that has been instilled within us and proceed to truly change the world for the better.

In The Beginning…….

In the beginningHello all and welcome to my page.  This is a fairly new experience for me but like with all things – a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  So here we go!

I basically started this blog “lifemeaning4u” because simply the meaning of life is what occupies my thoughts. The world is constantly changing and at a pace we can barely keep up with.  Technological and medical advancements, socio-economical changes, diseases, wars, ethics and morality and so on and so forth. It can be absolutely overwhelming for us to cope with.  I think that we try and do the things that we believe we’re supposed to do such as get an education; buy a home; get a job to provide us with things and hopefully find that special someone we believe that we can share this all with to give it some sort of meaning and relieve our loneliness.

Some of us try to understand our needs and desires within the confines of the divine, various religions or through some cosmic revelation. Then there are those who prefer to escape in a myriad of drugs or through television and social media while others are just content to acquire all of the aforementioned “just because” without truly understanding or caring why.  Simply stated, we want what we want because it is there for the taking and will acquire as much as we can get our hands on.  In any case, the effects can be both consuming and devastating on us as individuals and society as a whole.

So what does it all mean?  How do we adjust or acclimate ourselves to this ever changing world? Is there such a thing as “true peace and happiness” or should we resolve ourselves to just be “content”? Well these are but a few of the things that I hope to tackle here in my own personal space. I realise that it seems grand in scope but I believe that these are the things each and every one of us should be concerned with – especially now!  I sincerely hope that this somehow benefits all who read it.

Mavrik

 

Wisdom I

Adiuva me verterem figuram mundi  Thoth II