Nov 9 2016- We Must Choose Love

9 11 2016

martin-luther-king-jr-quotes-8

I don’t want this to sound all melodramatic but I had a terrible night’s sleep. I woke up with a profound sense of loss and despair.

I am committed to meditating in the morning before my day gets started whenever I can and did so again this morning. It was hard. As many times as I tried to return to my breath and the present moment, my mind had other plans.

Meditation practice teaches us to acknowledge what we are feeling by simply naming it without judgment. I was sad. Really sad – to a point that seemed disproportionate to what I was sad about. After all, we still live in a democracy. We still live in a nation of freedom and great opportunity.

But I am sad for my children, my nation and my world because I think this election has revealed a deeper truth in which in the midst of unrest, unease and, in many cases, pure hate, it is easier and more acceptable to choose fear over hope.

And so I continued to meditate and come back to the breath – over and over again. Man, this was the worst meditation session ever. Until it came to me – this is not for us to suffer with. This is not for us to attach to our own fears, our own unease or our own hatred.

We must choose love.

Our nation is merely a reflection of the nation within ourselves for each of us has the hope and the fear, the love and the hate, the joy and the sorrow all woven together.

We must choose love.

There is no other option. We cannot look to others, leaders or otherwise, to choose for us.

We must choose love.

But we have to dig in – and dig deep.

We have to show up – fully present and more than we have ever done before.

We have to be uncomfortable and extend ourselves beyond our own borders of insecurity.

We have to make our beds, clean our dishes, groom our lawns and mend our own hearts in the process.

We have to forget about our homes, our 401Ks, our failed relationships, our jobs and our regrets.

Most of us will not be here within a mere century – a simple blink in time. What we leave can only be left out of love otherwise we won’t have anything of real value that anyone will want.

There is no other option.

We must choose love and we have to do it starting now.

 





Someone Died Unexpectedly Today

25 10 2016

Image result for impermanence

It’s true. It happens every day, numerous times every day. I hope it wasn’t anyone you knew though one day in your life, it probably will be. This is the tug of impermanence – the truth that all we have is this moment.

My dad used to say that the only guarantees in life were death and taxes, (and quoting Ben Franklin, apparently). I’m not going to comment on the taxes part but let’s just say – “message received”.

I have been very stressed lately about a house that will just not sell. It is in great shape and at a great price and it won’t sell. In addition, I am (laughably) being sued for it not selling by a certain former love as if it were my fault. The weight that these two situations places on me is heavy at times and waking up from this is not as easy as it may sound either.

So it is upon committing to a practice of meditation and simply being mindful of the moment and the feelings that present themselves while doing so without judgment that this heaviness starts to dissipate, for not only good things are impermanent.

It is in this practice that the clarity of time, or lack thereof, re-emerges. There is no enlightenment. There is no nirvana. There is simply presence of the moment and a call to take that with me one more moment today than I did yesterday.

I am grateful for this moment and the call to slowly lead the background to the foreground – the daughter singing, the son face timing his friend, the smell of the leaves when I open the door and the vibrating pulse reminding me that we are all energy and spirit if we take a pause to recognize it.

The unexpected condition we know as life is actually quite expected. It may only be that by walking toward it with clear presence that we can truly be free.

Until next time,

Marc

 





The Election and Moving On.

24 10 2016

Image result for you me we venn diagram

I’m done with this election. 100%. Anyone who still doesn’t know who they’re voting for, if they’re voting, is holding out for something that is never going to come.

I had a comedy fundraiser last night at a church and as I was heading back getting ready to pick up my son, it dawned on me that all the things I riffed about on stage – the struggles of parenting, marriage, growing older, dealing with pretentious people – these things have no party affiliation. It’s the connection of being human and I want no part of distilling down human emotion to a few soundbites anymore.

I have opinions. You have opinions. It’s the way of the world. Twice this week, I had hour long conversations with two people who are supporting Trump. The frustrated journalist in me just wants to understand. I don’t need to agree. I don’t need to approve. I just want to understand. And you know what? I got a little closer – not to supporting Trump but to understanding the complexity behind the affiliations we have for those things that ultimately drive our allegiances toward one direction or the other.

It’s frustrating because we have become so polarized that we fail to see that in the Venn diagram of life, there is way more overlap than we care to admit. The anti-immigration proponent and the left-leaning open borders advocate are both Green Bay Packer fans. The Pro-Choice voter and the Pro-Life voter both are fans of Game of Thrones.

In our information overloaded society, why can’t we have an app that quickly scans all the good stuff in each of us each time we pass each other on the street? Can you imagine? It’s not as if this would drive some sort of state of Nirvana but it sure would give each of us the time to collectively pause before we so fully aligned toward one side or the other and walk right into judging “who is with us and who isn’t”.

I don’t know. Maybe I think too much. Ok, I definitely think too much. But I can tell you this – I am going to spend a lot less time worrying about what someone thinks and a lot more time trying to learn why they think it. It’s not going to be easy but damn it, we can’t rely on our leaders to do it and despite what they might want you to believe, we have to build this from the ground up. Who’s with me?

Until next time,

Marc





The Trump in All of Us

9 10 2016

donald-trump-caricature-flickr-cc

I have had fun at Donald Trump’s expense over the past couple days tweeting about his most recent developments. He has seemed to be immune from any consequence linked to his self-centered arrogance, until now. I have been waiting for this moment like a little puppy waiting for his owner to get home. Sadly.

Without getting into a political battle, (I am an Independent voter for those who care), this is not about anything against the Republican party. In fact, if there is anything positive about the whole debacle that is Donald J. Trump for over the past year or so, it is the humility of so many Republicans who have showed integrity and authenticity over blind faith to a man who does not represent their values or those of their party, at least as they interpret it.

Make no bones about it, the man disgusts me – even before full proof of just how Donald J. Trump behaves and thinks became so apparent with the latest release of video and audio tapes. He represents everything that creates hate, insecurity and fear… and yet, isn’t there a little bit of Trump in all of us?

Personally speaking, I am not talking about his personal outcome of his hate, insecurity and fear – racism, sexism, arrogance, pathos – but rather the root causes themselves.

Currently, the national (global) discourse around Trump is whether he is fit to be president and whether his temperament should matter to this endeavor. This conversation will get stale soon and we may all be missing a larger opportunity to recognize the Trump in ourselves and investigate what it really means.

Trump is the quintessential example of what it means to react versus respond, and boy, does he react. I cannot speak for anyone else, but it would be a misrepresentation for me to say that I have never been there myself. Let’s be clear – it’s not about how he reacts, just the fact that he is reacting versus more thoughtfully responding in the first place. Isn’t this an initial “go-to” place for a lot of us when under attack (or perceived attack)?

I like to think that a big difference between myself (and hopefully all of us) and Trump is at least we can recognize it, hopefully before it happens, perhaps as it is happening and at worst, after the fact so we can apologize – sincerely versus a Trump apology which is more like reading an adverse event warning on a prescription bottle.

To me, the dangerous, scary and honest concern about Trump is not so much that he is mired in so much hate and arrogance or even how he exhibits it (though that is all incredibly troubling, particularly for someone who, at least up to now, seemed to have a decent chance of being the leader of the free world), but rather the complete, utter and stoic denial that he exhibits in taking accountability for his actions, never even really acknowledging it without throwing someone else under the bus.

The lesson for me is that, as ashamed as I am to admit it, there is a little Trump in me that shows up every now and then – like when I get another letter from a divorce attorney or someone is tailgating me on the road while the kids are in the car, to name a couple examples. However, I’m aware of it. This is a significant nuance – one that, thankfully, does not make me Donald Trump. The current Republican nominee is completely non-aware, and that is what makes him Donald Trump. And in my book, that’s a big difference.

Until next time,

Marc





Riding in Cars with Budding Adults

4 10 2016

identity-crisis-300x300

My 8th grade daughter was talking with me tonight in the car. It seems like the car rides are when the best conversations with my kids happen. That’s part of the reason I never really mind schlepping them from one place to another (though that’s my secret).

She asked me if, when I was in school, I ever had any friends that I thought might be gay. I said yes. I didn’t ask her why because it seemed like a pretty transparent question.

We talked a bit more about it, maybe for 5 to 10 minutes with zero uncomfortableness. I told her how different it is now than when I was in school if you are different – not necessarily easier but definitely it seems a bit more acceptable, at least where we live.

Luckily, for me, she is not a boy crazy 8th grade girl. Her friends are over the house right now as I write this playing Adele on the piano and planning a silly dance routine to videotape with their iPhones. I love that this is her experience right now and am very grateful for it.

I didn’t press our conversation any further than she wanted to take it at the time, (something I learned from first experiencing the nuances of teenage-parent relations from her older brother). However, later in the evening, I walked upstairs to her room before her friends got here and told her that I just want her to know that I don’t care who she ends up loving as long as she is happy and a good person.

It was sort of funny because she knew I would do that. She confided she had a crush on a boy a year ago or so but, to use her words, “I have no idea what I’m going to be like.” That is one of the greatest gifts a dad could hear – the freedom your own child expresses when facing her future – a moment free from the never-ending mound of expectations that accompany so many children transitioning into young adulthood.

This is something I am learning to give myself, finally, and if, decades earlier than for me, I can help make my kids think that their sense of self is not something that is given but rather is a given, then I can forgive myself most of the many, many mess-ups I make along the way.

A world of people who feel good about themselves would be a much different place than the one we live in today.

Until next time,

Marc





A New Year’s Reflection for all my Trump Supporting Friends and Family

2 10 2016

Image result for republican and democrat together

Tonight will mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5777 and though I am not religious, I thought this was as good as an opportunity to wish all my Jewish (and non-Jewish) friends and family a Healthy, Happy year ahead.

This is typically a good time for reflection – in the Jewish religion – as to what kind of person we were during the past year and our hope to be “inscribed” for a good year to come. This is an easy wish to also grant to those around us, particularly those who happen to agree with our positions, but not so much for those who do not, especially during this vitriolic election cycle.

So, in an effort to really try and challenge myself as to how people I care about could possibly support someone that is so antithetical to most of my beliefs, I am taking this opportunity to turn things around and demonstrate a willingness to assume the best. Here it goes.

You really do want to make America Great Again.

 

Let me be the first (and maybe only) to admit that when Trump says this, I don’t know what his reference point is? I hear a lot about financial metrics like jobs and infrastructure, which is hard to disagree with in regarding the need to move this forward – a platform of all involved parties.

However, if you happen to be non-white, and, for the most part, non-Christian, America wasn’t so great in the first place. This is not a bleeding heart liberal opinion. It is fact. Ever notice that the only people ever getting really angry about calling out racism are white people? I’m one of them by the way (white, not calling out racism – well, ok, both).

Nonetheless, the purpose of this blog is not to defend nor accuse and therefore, I get it. You truly believe that Trump has the business experience, the balls and the intention of focusing on America and its future for the better. I believe that for Hillary and believed that for Kasich. I even could sort of believe that for Bush. Trump? Not so much. But that is my belief and I respect yours.

You don’t trust Hillary and rather see Trump in office, or anyone, other than her.

 

I get this, too. Let me just say that it is disconcerting that this presidential race seems more like a high school race, based on popularity and likeability, rather than who is best to lead, but I, again, will give you the benefit of the doubt that you, too, are deciding based on leadership, not based on who you’d like to have a beer with.

That being said, I will accept that, even given the 3rd party, non-partisan, vetted and credible fact checking sources that are often cited that show Trump actually lies more than Clinton (what a low bar either way, I realize), you inherently feel that there is more trust in a Trump presidency than a Clinton one. Perhaps it has to do with his proclivity for not being able to hold back a single thought and therefore there is seemingly more transparency. Either way, trust and instinct are very subjective and I cannot challenge the reasons why you find one more trustworthy than the other anymore than I can challenge why you might like one type of music over another.

You feel only Trump will call it like it is and put America first, reversing what seems to be like out-of-control policies of the last 8 years.

 

Whether it is immigration, the racial tensions between African American communities and our police, or policy on trade with other nations, one could certainly surmise that we have lost our way in constructing a foundation for ourselves that will lead to security and prosperity. I watch the news, too (though that needs to stop) and it’s very easy to lose perspective.

The truth is that there is no candidate that will be able to ignore any of these (or other) major issues. I hope we can all agree that no candidate is suggesting that there isn’t a problem, but rather, unfortunately, we hear little other than focusing largely on who is to blame. Like any complex situation, there is no “one” person or administration to blame but like the other items above, I, too, get how you feel Trump will be more targeted in identifying and implementing solutions here. I disagree but should he enter office, for the sake of our nation, I hope you are correct and respect your belief.

So there it is – I know there is a lot more. I am not anti-Republican. I am anti-Trump. Absolutely 100% without a doubt. The hate and separation that has been excavated from the underbelly of our own backyards has deeply saddened and troubled me. I pray that we may all find healing together. But that’s not going to happen if we don’t at least try to understand where each of us is coming from. We don’t have to like or even accept it. Understanding is all that is needed. This is my attempt to do so.

Whether it is in the context of the Jewish New Year, the “Traditional” New Year, or just a new day – may we all breath out that which divides us and deeply breathe in that which connects us – love, hope and most of all, peace. It’s there in all of us if we could tap into it and let fear aside for a few moments to allow space.

Until next time,

Marc

 





Denny’s, LinkedIn and Lost Moments

30 09 2016

linkedin-message

I received a LinkedIn message a while ago that simply said “how are you?” Thinking this was just someone I had met at a conference who might be looking for a job, business, etc., I chose to ignore it. (Nice, I know.)

Then, a couple of days ago, I happened to see that this same person wrote another message. It went like this:

“I have to let you know, a lot of my success and my future adventures I owe in (part) thanks to you. When we all ate dinner at Denny’s you, Kim and Eric…I finally felt like I belonged for the first time in my miserable life, and I spilled my water and apologized profusely. Again later as we were all friends (you were all older than me) you sang “All the leaves are brown, the sky is grey” outside the libray (sic) with Kim and you took her teddy bear and pretended to Die againt (sic) the brick wall in such comedic fashion. These moments really became one of the many cornerstones in my life, about friendship and such enjoyment !! I just wanted to let you know you had an impact on my life, since highschool had been horrible to me. Then, my future exploded🙂 thanks !!”

I thought this was a fantastic message (and though he went on to be an Emmy nominated computer animator and this seemed like an interesting contact to have), he had clearly thought I was someone else. Although Denny’s made me think of college (and many post drunken escapade patty melt excursions) plus the fact that I am a huge fan of the Mamas and Papas, I had convinced myself that he had the wrong person. These facts were merely coincidences. Feeling bad that this person reached out to me with such a heartfelt message that was misdirected, I felt compelled to email him back to let him know both that he had a case of mistaken identity and to not feel as if he were being ignored:

“Hi (name withheld)- that is a great email – I only wish I were with you, Kim and Eric but I don’t think it was me! In any event, I am glad that you have a memory to hold onto that helped to transform you to a better place. Continued success, Marc”

A few hours later, he replied and guess what? It was me!

I actually lived with both Kim and Eric at one point in college and it still didn’t connect with me! I have long lost contact with both of them, but still, how did I neglect to connect all these dots – me who will spend hours on google investigating the stupidest of things yet, in this case, though every single clue pointed in my direction, I didn’t give it a second thought that he had the wrong guy? (That sentence was way too long but I’m too lazy to address it right now.)

It actually made my day to know that something I couldn’t even remember from more than 2 decades ago stuck with someone still. Isn’t this the case more than we actually realize?

When we review our lives, there are moments that provide meaning to us in ways only we could understand in the broader context of our own personal experience. I know that is the case for me. Rarely are they the vacations or “big” events. More often, they are the small moments that probably only stick in our heads – sitting in the back of the orange, Chevy Impala asking your mom to ask your dad to have “the talk”, running through the field to your grandpa to tell him you’re learning trumpet, or sliding down the sloped doors in the backyard that lead to the basement… and the dentist after cracking your tooth.

These moments have no postcard images and even in today’s smart phone obsessed world, would probably not even have an Instagram pic to upload. These are the moments that remain imprinted solely in those internal cranial crevices that are only reachable by those who know the secret pathway to get there – the one that no one else knows about. When they’re shared with others who long forgot about them, they could be a gift.

You matter. You never know when some small innocuous moment could have a great meaning to someone that might look you up on a social media site decades later. Now only if I could get a message from that girl from Junior year who dressed like Suzanne Vega and introduced me to Robyn Hitchcock.

Until next time,

Marc








%d bloggers like this: