Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love means...

...never having to say you're sorry.

Love is the most beautiful, yet most complicated, thing in life. Some say we love too easily, some say too little while others say we don't get it at all. It is the most complicated of human experiences and emotions. Love sometimes blinds us with devotion. Other times it opens our eyes to meaning and truth. Sometimes it is a feeling...sometimes a fact. We love things, people, animals and some love "God". And all these loves mean different things to different people...which makes it all the more complicated to know what love "means".

Defining love is like defining the wind. We feel it, we see its affects around us, yet we're not sure from where or why it comes. Some of us are quite sure it comes from "God" while others narrow it down to some genetically driven function and creation of the mind. The idea is that somehow love perpetuates the survival of mankind through procreation...therefore it has that simple purpose for some people. Maybe we are just animals driven by our lusts and mating cycles to continue evolution through "survival of the fittest"?

If we look for love, we don't find it. If we wait for love, it might find US. Some of us are in "love" with love...while others repel it like the plague, preferring instead a life of quiet solitude.

Some of us are move lovable than others. Some are attractive with easy going dispositions. Others are neither attractive or easy going. Some love superficially (external beauty, pretty things, cuteness...) while others love things internal such as thought, talent and other admirable qualities that come from the heart or soul...whatever those terms mean to you. Some skate through their love lives counting on their looks. Others demand understanding and acceptance of their more inner qualities before calling it love.

All in all...for me love comes down to total behavior and combines the factors of thought and action. I think we love ourselves by how we care for our external attributes such as personal health and hygiene. We also love ourselves by nurturing our minds with reason and understanding...balanced by a healthy dose of "I don't know nor never will...everything". We love others by placing those self love values on another person.

While we love things such as our pets, possessions and hobbies...that love is NOT the same as loving another human. It is much easier loving pets for instance because they tend to be more responsive to us. We feed them, they sometimes respond by licking us or snuggling next to us (I have never found the licking part to be that least by an animal). If we show care and love towards them, most animals respond positively with undying love. Of course, this love is quite conditional, don't you think?

Human love on the other hand is a bit more complicated. Sometimes the more you love someone, the more they push you away. Many people are very uncomfortable with intimacy and closeness. Why is that? I will suggest that in most cases it is so potentially powerful and to an extent requiring submissions of our own will or individuality to love in return...that we instead take a safer road towards survival where we don't ever allow another to have that kind of power or influence in our lives. Many people have been burned by love either within their family or with a significant other to the extent that they are unwilling to love or trust again. The balance of give and take, the ups and downs of emotions...and the timing of mutuality in our relationships makes love a rare and delicate experience to contemplate.

For me love means making yourself ready and lovable. Without a good dose of self-love, I don't think it is possible to truly love another well. Too many relationships are imbalanced in that regard...I think psychologists call it "co-dependency". The most historic or powerful love stories we seem to love but not always emulate are of two strong, iconic individuals who find each other at a common level of existence and bond based on the strengths in each other versus "weakness" or need. At the end of the day, I think this is the kind of love most thinking persons aspire to.

Finally, I think true love is described best in this poetic scripture...

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails;

...I Corinthians 13

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Halfway Heart

(Some of you will not get this at all. This is dedicated to all those who have for whatever reason(s) not been able to follow through with their "soulmate" connection. Perhaps because we weren't ready when that person came into our lives. Maybe because of various forms of cultural barriers that got in the way. Maybe that person was of the same sex. Maybe the person was much older or younger than ourselves. Maybe they were of a different race, religion or culture. Maybe even a distant relative. It is my observation and guess that most people never end up with "the one that got away")

“It is thought a disgrace to love unrequited. But the great will see that true love cannot be unrequited. True love transcends the unworthy object, and dwells and broods on the eternal, and when the poor interposed mask crumbles, it is not sad, but feels rid of so much earth, and feels its independency the surer.”…Ralph Waldo Emerson

I loved you from the moment I saw you, but I could only love you "halfway"
You were my best friend
We understood each other like no one else ever could
I longed for you like I never longed before.
You were the mirror reflection of my soul
When you cried, I cried
When you laughed I laughed
When we touched, it was like touching myself but from the inside out
I always felt like I knew you in a previous life
Perhaps we came from the same tree of life...from some distant path called destiny
Those feelings I could never express, you understood
I never knew loneliness until we were apart the first time
And when we parted for the last time, a part of me died forever

You see...

I chose THEM over you
I chose ME over you
I chose alienation and limitation
I chose rationalization versus truth
I chose conformity over individuality
I chose mediocrity over exceptionality
I chose the safety of rules versus the risk of breaking them
I chose the box versus freedom
I chose my color over yours
I chose my religion over yours
I chose my family over yours
I chose my nationality over yours
I chose to limit my passion versus yield to it
I chose what others wanted for me versus what I wanted
I chose pursuit of money and fame over you
I chose to take instead of give
I chose to die instead of live

I could not bear the risk of loving you
I could not take the rejection of my peers, family and culture
I could not sacrifice them for you, and I knew that would be the price

Now I sit here living...well semi living...with my halfway heart

...Edward Doran 2011

(A late addition since a number of you have wondered...this writ is not necessarily written as "auto biographical". It just COULD have been me:). While most of our hearts probably all yearn for more love and understanding...I am basking in more love and "soul connection" than I probably deserve. )

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Risks of Role Models

The hardest part of growing up in this world is the disillusion and disappointment as we find out there is no Santa Claus, and that all the "giants" of our childhood had faults that made them imperfect. The frailty of our human condition is perhaps the most bitter pill to swallow throughout our lives. Our "perfect" parents become more human and frail to us over time. As we study history more deeply than 4th grade history books, we find out that Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and other great Presidents of our country all had weaknesses and failures to deal with in their lives...just like us. The further we go in life, the more we realize there is no perfect person or infallible leader to aspire to...its just "us" against ourselves.

Many of us grew up in America's golden age of industriousness, extreme economic growth and full of the "American dream". Until Vietnam and Watergate, we implicitly trusted our Presidents and other world leaders and believed what Walter Cronkite reported about them each night on the 6 o'clock news. We grew up wanting to play baseball like Micky Mantle and Pete Rose. We wanted to play golf like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. We oohed and awed at the original college basketball stars such as "Magic" Johnson and Michael Jordan as they broke records from college through their professional careers.

Unfortunately reality and humanity caught up with our heroes in most cases. Nixon was impeached and Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner with a slave mistress who bore him at least one child. Mantle had a drinking problem that eventually killed him, and Rose a gambling problem that has kept him out of Baseball's "Hall of Fame". Magic contracted AIDS and Michael Jordan went through a messy divorce and lost millions at the blackjack table. The mirror of modern media caught up with the dark sides of our humanity and we discovered no one is perfect. Yet...we continue to hold sports stars and political leaders to higher levels of scrutiny and perfection than the average person which is one cause of our constant disappointment in life.

Sports writer Bill Simmons poignantly writes about the travails and hopes of Tiger Woods in this editorial piece related to last weekend's Masters golf tournament. After almost two years of personal problems...some say "sexual addictions"... which has affected the competency of Tiger Wood's play for quite some time, Mr. Simmons offers this humane and objective treatment of Tiger's comeback play at the Masters:

I am supposed to think that he's a poor role model -- that he's an adulterer, that he's selfish, that he's a phony, that he behaves badly on golf courses, that he's someone I wouldn't want my son to emulate some day. That's horses---. I want my son to know that people screw up, that nobody is perfect, that you can learn from your foibles. I want my son to watch "The Natural" someday, hear Roy Hobbs say, "Some mistakes you never stop paying for," and know that it's not just words in a movie. I want my son to know that you haven't lived until you've fought back, that you haven't won until you've lost, that you can't understand what it's like to relish something until you've suffered, too. I want him to understand that it's the 21st century, that we sit around picking our heroes apart all day, that we expect them to be superhuman at all times, that we get pissed off when they aren't, that it's hypocritical if you really think about it.

I want my son to know that great athletes are meant to be appreciated, not emulated. He can steal Tiger's fist pump without wanting to become him. He can play Tiger's video game without feeling like Tiger is his best friend. He can imitate Tiger's swing without getting the urge to bed every cocktail waitress and model he meets. We should have learned by now that athletes aren't role models in the traditional sense -- they exist to entertain us and inspire us, and that's really it.

If my son needs a role model, and he will, that person should be me. I don't need Tiger to teach my child how to behave. I need him to teach my son that it's fun to watch golf. Yesterday was the first lesson. There was a putt, and a roar, and a fist pump, and then my son screaming "Again!" Only Tiger Woods could have made it happen. It's a gift.

The risk of being a role model is that you WILL someday disappoint and fall short of everyone's expectations of you. To that end, humility and modesty should be a significant attribute of anyone that society puts up on the pedestal for adulation.

The risk of too much hero worship is that you WILL someday be disappointed at the shortcomings and humanity of your idol. Whether that be a parent figure, a sports star or a fantastic performer in another arena of is wise of us to moderate our expectations of other human beings. I think it is better to BE a hero than to look up to one...and yet we should never try to be everything to our followers. I think it much more valuable to teach our children and other followers to pursue their own hearts and dreams to become the unique, successful person that they define on their own terms. If we all treated each other with that level of mutual acceptance, respect and non judgmental-ism...fewer of us would be so disillusioned with humanity and more focused on what we can make of OURSELVES.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Connecting the Dots

I find myself using the expression "connecting the dots" more often these days. Remember those childhood drawing books where you followed the numbered dots which led to an outlined picture of a horse, train, airplane or some other image of childhood fancy? It has dawned on me that most of our lives are spent doing this...if only in a more allegorical sense.

People have often asked me how I have found it so easy to move and change so often in my life? For whatever reasons, it has always been easy and adventurous for me to pursue new places and cultures...adapting to change better than most. When I take a moment to analyze how I do this...I fall back on my "connecting the dots" analogy. I start with knowing key people or information within a business, geographic location or a culture...and expand my vision and knowledge from there as fast as I am allowed to know it.

In business, success is often about simply "connecting the dots" of relationships and information. If you are able to connect people to information, you should be able to determine in a very organized way how to accomplish what you envision for your business or career. As Dale Carnegie taught us in "How to Win Friends and Influence People", to be accomplished in business or selling yourself, it is crucial that the other "dot" you are connecting to feels important and that you relate to each other. If we are too isolated or unwilling to recognize the value of the other "dots", we will find ourselves unable to complete the potential of our lives. We need other dots...

"Cause and effect" comes into play for this subject as well. One's relative level of success can often be determined by how well you connect the dots in sequence. Most people want to jump ahead of the game as quickly as possible. They don't want to learn by "sequence" or deal with the details of 1-2-3-4-5...they want the instant gratification of jumping to 10...or 100..without connecting to the experiences or details required in between. So many leaders have rushed so fast to "get ahead" that they have risen quickly to their level of incompetency. Many corporate and world leaders are ineffectual because they don't understand how to "connect the dots". They have no understanding of the "matrix" and are primarily just focused on their own self survival. They don't seem to understand that their survival depends on the "matrix" underneath them surviving as well.

Connecting the dots is no exact science...primarily because as you grow up, the matrix becomes more complex and people no longer "put the numbers" for you to follow. It takes more imagination and knowledge to know which dots to connect with in order to build the "picture" of your life that YOU want to make.

Many of us are content to sit on our current dot in life...maybe accepting half or less of the picture/vision we had for our lives. Because we are uncertain about the next dot, we instead live looking back on our past dots and in many cases decide we have gone as far as we want to. For some of us it is too scary to leave the current point in search of the next one. Many of us have forgotten what it was we were trying to create in the first place.

Some of us have taken so many shortcuts in life that we have no sense of the design in our lives. This cause and effect in life is similar to taking a trip...if you go too long and too far in the wrong takes you that long to get back to a cross roads. That journey can be painstakingly boring because you have "already been there and done that". Yet, retracing and going backward, at least in our understanding, is often the first step in moving forward.

It is also a reality that some of us are better and faster at connecting the dots than others. Some seem to have an unflinching eye and steady hand in creating the life that they envisioned early on. Others of us are so full of indecision and doubt that we fall far behind the rest and will never finish what we started in this life. If we make too many mistakes of this nature, it is sometimes wise to reconsider what you want to create and limit the amount of dots you are going to pursue.

I personally struggle with this aspect myself. My mind imagines me doing a LOT of different things. I HAVE done a lot of different things and continue to pursue more than my share of ideas and aspirations. Yet, as I realistically look in the mirror and come to terms with my own mortality, I realize that it is now more about quality dots in life than quantity.

As a musician, dots have been important to me as well. Many musicians call written music "dots". The dots on a staff in the right sequence and combination determine the beauty of a musical piece. Dots in harmony make beautiful affects...dots in dissonance can make living unbearable.

Of course, people in our lives are like dots as well. I think psychologically and otherwise we ARE the sum of all the important people and relationships we have had in our lives. Some have been a joy, some have brought significant pain. Some dots have held us "in place" for long periods of time...others have spun us off into hundreds of other connections.

Finally, we must analyze our SELVES as a dot. Do we help other people build the mosaic of their lives in a beautiful way...or do we tend to throw them off their own path of connecting dots? Do we harmonize with other dots to make a pretty picture...or do we unconsciously or even purposely seek to destroy the continuity of the matrix we have found ourselves in? As a dot in someone-else matrix, do we demand their total attention to our one dot...or do we propel and encourage them to multiply and grow beyond OUR point of reference? Do we find value in being a PART of someone-else' beautiful matrix...or do we demand their focus to be on our simple point of reference, thereby limiting their potential to "connect the dots" themselves?

I do believe that by connecting with the right matrix of dots...that matrix can carry us much further in life and understanding than we can ever reach alone or disconnected. Lets get connected...and start growing again this beautiful picture we call life. Its about ideas, discoveries...and PEOPLE.