Tag Archives: philosophy

Every Day a New Day

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life, so the proverb goes. What does that mean to me?

I believe that every day is full of potential, a new opportunity to grow, express love, be present, be thankful. It also provides an opportunity to engage in harmful and unproductive activities. The choice is there for each one of us.

Each day, I start out with a morning ritual, or what I call my “morning liturgy”. With it, I speak to myself affirmations, take note of all that I am thankful for, and say prayers for others. (Well, I try to do this each day, but I am not the most consistent.)

The affirmations are a wonderful way to remind me of “what I am about”, my particular giftings and the good fruit that is produced from operating in these gifts. For me, creativity is what I am about, and I found some wonderful affirmations from “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron that I combine with some of my own.

When I recognize and be present with the positive potential of my day, I also affirm that the most essential thing I can do is attend to my self care. I affirm that I will treat myself with love, care, and dignity. I will do those things that are necessary to take good care of myself so that I can be a blessing to others. I cannot give from what I do not have, whether it be time, energy, attention, etc, if I have not properly taken care of my body or my mind.

One affirmation I say is that “I hereby reject all self-defeating thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors”.

Do I live in the present? Or do I wallow in the past? Do I choose to be thankful or to nurse resentment? Do I eat what is healthy for my body or do I eat junk food and/or overindulge? Do I get out and be attentive to the world or do I shut myself in?

The definition of what is helpful versus what is harmful varies with each one of us and is conditional upon our current needs and opportunities. Here is one example: I personally feel like I have wasted time if I spend too much time in front of the TV. However, sometimes I am physically and/or mentally exhausted and one appropriate thing to do would be to zone out for awhile in front of the tube. But it would not be appropriate for me to do something so unproductive if I have a full day ahead of me and I use the diversion in order to put off doing the things I need to do.

Anyway, some thoughts. Every day is a menu of choices. How will I live out today?

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Perfectionist in Recovery

I am what you would call a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism, for the most part, has not been my friend. I am sure I would have produced a lot more musical material over the years if I were not so afraid of it not being perfect. Even now, I have edited the last two sentences twice because I want to get the sentence structure perfect. I probably still didn’t get it right; I am not an English major. But correct  English is not a passion of mine so I’m able to let it go.

Perhaps perfectionism only gets in the way of someone who is doing what they are passionate about.

I read that the 80’s band Tears for Fears became paralyzed by perfectionism. Hot off the heels of their very successful “Songs From the Big Chair” release in 1985 they immediately took five years to produce their followup at a cost of over a million pounds. Yes, “The Seeds of Love” is an amazing record, but five years and £1,000,000?

As I venture forth into my full-time music career, I am confronted by the following question: Am I willing to suck? My success and even my survival hinges on the answer to this question.

It was a few years ago when I first heard the quote (attributed to G.K. Chesterton) that “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” I take great comfort from this and I see it as a key to recovering from my perfectionism.

I was in Ecuador a few months ago and I was impressed by how quickly our host had learned Spanish. He did not know a lick of Spanish when he first arrived 2 1/2 years ago, but he now speaks it fluently, comprehending and speaking at a normal cadence, i.e. very fast like the locals do. How did he do it? He told me “Be sure you make at least 100 mistakes a day.” I am currently taking a beginning Spanish course and it frustrated me at first when I would get things wrong, but I am recovering from this. Instead, I welcome mistakes as it reinforces the learning process. And I seem to be making less mistakes.

Applying this to my music career, I have to be willing to suck, at least at first. I am in the midst of composing instrumental music for the intent of shopping it to production music houses. These are firms that film and television music supervisors turn to when they want a piece of music for a particular segment of a movie or show. I am working up ideas at the rate of at least one per day. I am willing for them to suck at first. I am willing to not have these ideas finished right away. I am willing to revise, rewrite, or abandon ideas if they don’t seem to be working.

My main focus here is quantity and expediency, not necessarily quality. Julia Cameron has a saying, “Take care of the quantity and God will take care of the quality”. The most important thing is to write, write, compose, compose, produce, produce and not get bogged down in whether or not it is excellent. I think the lesson here is that it is more important to learn how to work than it is to create masterpieces. I also think the cream will eventually rise to the top.

So here I am, a perfectionist in recovery, totally willing to suck. Let’s see what happens.

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No. 2 Calling

My wife recently bought me this wonderful book: “What’s Your Poo Telling You?” It’s a very humorous yet informative book about your No. 2, specifically about how to assess, from a health perspective, the business you just finished. Here I quote the first paragraph from the Introduction:

Not unlike a snowflake, each bowel movement has a uniqueness that should be regarded with wondrous appreciation. Too often dismissed as useless and malodorous waste, poo has struggled since the dawn of time to receive the respect it deserves.

Perhaps you have read this far and have decided, “Enough with this blog!” If so, you have my empathy and support. On the other hand, if you find this subject to be a limitless supply of fascination and humor, you simply need to get a copy of the book. It catalogues the different types of bowel movements and what they signify in terms of your nutrition and health. Here is a picture of the cover:

Although my wife bought my copy in a store, I looked it up on the internet and found it on places like Amazon and Google. Apparently, the book has been successful, since now there are companion titles such as, “What’s My Pee Telling Me?”, “What’s Your Poo Telling You? 2011 Daily Calendar”, and finally, “Poo Log” which aside from the play on words is probably some sort of journal.

Here is the description of Poo Log: “Finally, what every bathroom has been waiting for the Poo Log, a journal for recording and studying the wondrous uniqueness of each bowel movement. With an extensive glossary, handy reference checklists, interesting nuggets throughout, this journal makes every trip to the can an e-loo-cidating experience. Who knew one could learn so much from poo?” What is somewhat disturbing is that you can get used copies of this book off Amazon Marketplace. I shudder at what the full  implication of “used” entails. Is it like purchasing a used textbook where it may have “marks”? I am tempted to buy a used copy just to get to the bottom of it.

Although I could go on, my hand is still hurting me and I need to get off the computer. So I close with the following question: Is there a difference in meaning between the words “poo” and “poop”? Or do they mean the same thing? Or is former the noun and the latter a verb? I tend to use the term “poop” for either. Perhaps this is a Canada vs. USA thing–the book comes from Canada.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Simply Human?

I just picked up a copy of Thomas Merton’s “No Man Is an Island”. Right off the first page of the Prologue, I am intrigued:

No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man’s despair may become, as long as he continues to be a man his very humanity continues to tell him that life has meaning. That, indeed, is one reason why man tends to rebel against himself. If he could without effort see what the meaning of life is, and if he could fulfill his ultimate purpose without trouble, he would never question the fact that life is worth living. Or if he saw at once that life had no purpose and no meaning, the question would never arise. [Italics mine.]

Now my apologies on behalf of the late Mr. Merton for his insensitivity to gender equality, but he wrote this in 1955.

The sentence I put in italics is quite intriguing. If only we could see without effort what the meaning of life is. Is he suggesting that this is possible, or is this strictly rhetorical? And what if we could fulfill our ultimate purpose without trouble?

Without effort and without trouble. If only.

We humans have quite the inner struggle that the “lower” forms of life are not burdened with. A bird, for example, fulfills its ultimate purpose by simply being a bird. Same with a fish or a horse or a tree.

I doubt that my dogs wrestle with the meaning of life. They seem most interested in food, walks, treats, and a little love and attention. They also stand guard against that which threatens us all, namely squirrels, bunnies, and the occasional trespasser.

To the contrary, our waking days are filled with the more complex questions of existence. Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? What makes life worth living?

I love to quote from the Westminster Confessional: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Love it; love it.

But what exactly does that mean?

Do squirrels and dogs and  birds and azaleas and centipedes glorify God? I most definitely believe they do. How? By simply and un-self-consciously being squirrels and dogs and  birds and azaleas and centipedes. No more and no less. A bird really doesn’t know how or pretend to be anything other than a bird, now does it?

What about us humans? Can we be simply human, no posing required? Clearly we have not and never have been content with the notion of being simply human.

You see, I think that is how the whole mess started. Humankind was not content with being simply human. Instead, we wanted something more. We overreached ourselves. We wanted to be more like gods.

Did it work? You tell me. Do you think that humankind, wanting to become gods through the abuse of money, sex, and power, has become more godlike? Or less human? I think we did ourselves in. History is filled with examples of people wanting to become gods only to become less human.

So the question in front of me today is this: What would it take to be simply human? No more; no less; no posing. Just one day at a time.

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