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Presence in the Present

Also known as: “What I have learned from listening to the Grateful Dead for 23 or so years…”

If you are at all familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, I am and INFJ.  The J portion of my personality type is what’s of interest right now.  Being a J (or Judger) doesn’t mean that I am judgmental or anything like that; it means I thrive when there is predictability and order in my day to day life. I am not a fan of surprises or sudden changes to schedules or routines.

Now on to the Grateful Dead: a band known for, loved for, it’s experimental and often improvisational way of testing the boundaries of music. There is a give and take, a push and pull between the members of the band and between the band and the crowd.

No show is ever the same, and not just due to the enormous catalogue of songs. The shows were (are) different because each song would unfold in a unique way and you couldn’t predict when the bridge would emerge; you just danced along and helped the song unfold.

That’s not an easy thing for me to do. And all of this occurred to me on the train for my morning commute as I was listening to a show that was played and recorded in August 1971 and Truckin’ came on. Even people who don’t know a lot about the Grateful Dead have probably heard the song Trucking’ and it’s not a song well known for surprises. I was anticipating a particular guitar riff and drop to come at a particular moment but the improv jam just kept unfolding for a few more moments.

And it was then that I remembered a hot summer day 22 years ago sweating and dancing and shaking my bones in Las Vegas.  (History has shown me that the show wasn’t that well played, Jerry was only with us three months after that show and he was in really rough shape.) But I was in the moment and I was dancing, and I had no idea what song was coming next or how that song would manifest. And it was beautiful.

This weekend I’ll hop on a plane and go back to Vegas and dance and shake my bones with Dead and Company, and as hard as it may be for the J portion of my personality type, I won’t know what song is coming next or how it will be born into the moment.

But I will be fully present in the present, in the now. And I am entirely certain that it will be beautiful.


We Can Discover the Wonders of Nature

I was feeling a little restless this afternoon (probably been longer than just this afternoon, if I can be honest…) so I threw on my headphones and cranked up Dick’s Picks Volume 29 (from 5/19/77) and went for a walk down in the estuary that’s just down the street.

I’d normally go for a run, but since my eye surgery is less than a week old, my doc says, “No running, not yet.” So I gotta do what the Good Doctor says.

Anyhoo, I’m walking along and I notice these gorgeous little succulents just chilling out making these neat-o flowers, and rimmed with frosty little edges and got all wonder-filled and stuff.

Just thought I’d pass along some random beauty.

Make sure to look around, you’ll find the world’s actually crammed with beauty.

“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” George Carlin

I like my coffee and my comedians the same way: bitter.

In reality though, I don’t have the energy to be a bitter person.

Some articles say that bitter people are jealous, attention seekers and that they like to hold grudges .

I just don’t have time for all that.

Granted there are days when I can be so jaded that I could crap a chess set, but life’s too short, and time goes by too quickly to carry that stuff around day after day after day.

via Daily Prompt: Bitter

Naked and Unashamed

Vulnerability is not a bad thing.

If you want to be known by people, really truly known by them, you have to expose your inner most self and not be afraid or ashamed.

When humans were first created, the Creator saw the one human and declared that it was not good for the person be alone. In the process of finding a companion for the first human, many other things came into being, but they weren’t quite like the human.

Dog was awesome, but not quite there.

Cat knew how awesome she was, but didn’t want much to do with the human because humans are beneath cats.

The human was still alone; there wasn’t anyone to share life with.

So the Creator made a second human, and the first human said, “Ah! At last! Someone like me.”

And they looked at one another, saw their differences, but didn’t get in a tizzy over them.

They were naked and unashamed.

Not just naked, naked. Not just unclothed. But vulnerable, exposed, open in sharing dreams and hopes and fears and doubts.

And they knew that it was good. And the Creator saw that it was good.

Vulnerability and exposure aren’t bad things.

via Daily Prompt: Exposed

Thoughts on the 4th Sunday of Easter

” I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.” (John 10:10 The Common English Bible)

This past week I had the honor to meet Dr. Edith Eva Eger, a woman who is now close to 90 years young, and I say young because I honestly believe that she has a younger spirit than I do. Dr Eger has endured much in her life because she and her family were victimized by the Holocaust: forced to relocate from Hungary to Auschwitz, where her parents were killed. Forced to dance for Dr Mengele because she was trained in ballet.

She would say to herself, if she could survive this day, then tomorrow, she’d be free.

“They could beat me, and they did, and they tortured me, but they could never, ever murder my spirit,” she said. (source)

Meeting people like Dr Eger help you re-think what the abundant life is all about.

When I was younger, I thought the abundant life would be something akin to “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” with Robin Leach.  If you’re too young to remember that show it was like Cribs on MTV.

Then there was the time in life when the abundant life was just having a life with no troubles—a don’t worry be happy kind of existence, or a Your Best Life Now to the Power of Positive Thinking level of exponential happiness.

I have come to realize that the abundant life is neither of these things: not a life with a house that has enough square feet of living space for a small country or a life that is free from suffering. The abundant life is a life that abides in the knowledge of being loved by God who is present with us in the whole of life.

There may not be a clearer image of the abundant life than the one that the psalmist paints in the 23rd Psalm. The psalm is packed with poetic imagination that invites us as the readers or hearers to look for a life where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are lacking nothing.

This psalm doesn’t show a life that is free from suffering or sorrow; this psalm speaking of enduring those seasons where the path of life leads us through valleys of darkness because we trust that God is there with us, leading us through those moments, bringing us out of those moments into seasons of green pasture and still water.




“How Much Ya Run?”

These are my running shoes. There are many like them, but this pair is mine.

The other day I saw a post about running on the Insta-photo-sharing site that said something like, “If you want to run, run a mile; if you want to change your life, run a marathon.” Something like that at any rate.

I was thinking about that quote on my morning run today (I have never run a marathon, btw) and I came up with my own version:

“If you want to run, run one mile, or three miles, or five miles, or even a marathon because when you run, your life is changed.”

Maybe even this: “If you want to run, run as far as you want to; if you want to have a life changing experience, run a trail and listen to the birds cheer you on; share the trail with bunnies and lizards, and breathe with the trees. That’s life changing.”

How ever far you may run, let the run be for you and your own growth, otherwise you sound like these guys from an SNL skit back in the day:

how much ya bench