“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e. e. cummings

The Answer: 6×9=42?

A good friend of mine sent me his ideas on something that is wholly unrelated to this blog.  The details of what he wrote are not relevant.  The premise is moderately relevant, but it is equally unimportant. Actually, what I thought in reading his writing is sort of relevant.  It may even be pivotal, but that would be a digression from the purpose of my blogging.

It is relevant is that this friend, Docc Hilford, is someone I trust, since we are lifelong friends; his insight is incredible.  We have a connection that predates any of the thoughts I now write.

Well, I am off a little. I should probably clear up that saying we are lifelong friends is probably an exaggeration.  We certainly did not bond as infants. 

So, what is relevant?  It is relevant that I received an email from Docc with some of his thoughts about performing on stage whilst I was waiting to go on stage. When the email arrived, it inadvertently interrupted my transient thoughts as I was pondering the writings of Douglas Adams.  In The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts, Adams said:

There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Maybe it did.  Maybe it did not.  What is important is that everything in the universe has a purpose and we must be wary of the universe we are in at the moment. 

The world around us is fluid.  People change; moods change; needs change.  But, there are always constants.  We must find the needs of those we seek to influence.

Whether it is how we relate to people, whether we bond with them or whether we choose to run away, we act with purpose.  We just do not always understand why things are happening to and around us. Therefore, we look for meaning.  That means that the people you are addressing are looking to you for meaning. Give it to them.

This old friend, Docc, who is not even really a friend from childhood, but a friend from later years, discussed in his writing the propensity of some people to oversell a point, thus losing sight of their purpose. 

These people are so worried about pointing out facts, and hanging all value on logic, they forget who they are and what the listener needs.  Accordingly, they run from their own fears; they run from a universe that they have created in their own minds.  When this person runs from their own fears- and away from the listener’s world – everyone except their mother and dog will grow bored, wary and skeptical.

Much like when Docc and I first met years ago, we were able to connect as we were on the same page.  We understood a skill that made us feel a connection. 

Adams also wrote in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”

That is a purpose at our core that drove Docc and I as humans and as performers.  Therefore, when Docc and I first met each other months ago, we realized that we both knew that over selling and exaggerating meant nothing if you are not believed.  The first and foremost superpower we possess in influencing others is our character; that which Aristotle calls ethos.  

Your listener, your audience, your spouse and your friends will all judge you by who you are.

They do not judge you based upon a repetitious litany of facts.  Everyone knows facts can be manipulated.  Your essence cannot.  It will grow and change as you learn, but it will never be manipulated.  With certainty, I assure you that attempts to fake character will remain transparent and superficial.

You can have all the mad skills and talents to be an expert in any field, but unless you are real, all you do will be for naught.

Yes, your connection to people will – if you give it a chance – predate any of the thoughts you now think.  At our first meeting two weeks ago (true story, dude),  Docc and I realized that it all came down to what was in your soul.

Be yourself.  Find the common thread.  The universe will inexplicably tilt in your favor.

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” -Galielo Galilei

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” -Anna Freud

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.” -Leonardo da Vinci

The suspense is terrible… I hope it’ll last.

It would be so nice to be the person who “makes it look easy?”  The one who never sweats because problems are the “small stuff”?
We want to survive, therefore we work to secure income to live.  We care for our children, we tend to our families and we devote time to our work.  There is very little extra time in the day to devote to creativity or finding a new path … we succumb to life’s pressures.

Pressure is the stress created in our minds and bodies when we are confronted with a situation that requires action or response and there is none.  The absence of a response or solution when faced with adversity can cause a total mental meltdown: panic caused by the lack of prior solutions to solve the immediate dilemma or fear that we do not have the skills to address the situation with the requisite speed.  It is at that moment where we need the ability to find a solution through creativity.

We would have no pressure if every day was the same as yesterday and foretold the events of tomorrow.  We would simply go through life like a goldfish — swimming from day to day repeating each behavior over again and again assuring our survival until the script runs out.  But we have pressure and we must always be ready to solve the mystery that the next minute holds.  We must learn to adapt and create solutions to problems as they arise.  Creativity is not a natural process. Creativity takes time.

It is a function of patience and a summoning of all that we know to find a new way of doing something old, or a way of doing something different in our lives.  For most of us it is a forced process.  We need something to motivate us to be new and different.  We need something to knock down the walls of consistency and normality.

We are creative when it comes to things like talking our children through school troubles.  We use our ability to find solutions when we are confronted with tasks that threaten our existence, but when it comes to improving our lives or creating a better tomorrow, we seem to draw a blank.  We simply move into a place of comfort.  We shut down and trap ourselves in the proverbial box.  It is much easier than allowing ourselves to feel the pressure that comes with the new.

In the movie, Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Gene Wilder, as Willie Wonka says,  “A little nonsense now and then, is relished by the wisest men.”

I love the above quote.  Nonsense is the seed from which thinking blossoms.  It is not only a great tool to call what we know in to question – if we allow it to do so – but it is also the start of a new vision.  Flip phones and hand held computers were once the nonsense science fiction of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek and flight was the nonsense of the Wright Brothers and their dreams.

2013-11-14 13.51.11

In 1903, after their successful First Flight, the Wright Brothers sent the telegraph announcement from Station # 6. (Now the Black Pelican Restaurant)

Oddly enough, as I write, I am sitting only a few miles north of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and the field upon which the Wright Brothers worked to write their names in the annals of history.  Amid the challenges of other inventors working towards similar goals  and the ridicule of the media calling them bluffers. Not to mention the unwillingness of the military to appreciate their value by refusing to sign contracts created pressure for Wilbur and Orville, but never a deterrent.  They kept their sights on the sky; moving onward and upward.

See how pressure makes creativity flow? … Pressure will make your creativity flow. I believe panic breeds solutions.  The need to succeed will jump start the creative process.  For a friend of mine who is a professional writer, humorist and columnist, it is a deadline.  For me, it could be anything at any moment…usually self imposed or arbitrary deadlines.  For this blog, it was the mere challenge of the aforementioned writer when she wrote to me saying, “I believe your next blog should be about pressure. Grace under it or thriving in the midst.”   Nothing works as well as a challenge.  Thank you, Plain Jane for the kick in the head.  I like kicks in the head.)

If we could always be spontaneously creative, solutions to problems would roll out like a well-orchestrated military maneuver attacking difficulties; finding solutions and advancing our goals.  It would not only appear easy to those around us, but it would feel good within.  Instead, we must push forward. Continually focusing on developing our abilities.

Maybe if we all take the time to look forward and want to be creative.  It is an art for some, but for most of us it is an acquired skill.  It needs to be nurtured, fed and allowed to continuously evolve.

With each bend in the road, enjoy the journey.

Sometimes life takes twists and turns.  Sometimes it just bends out of shape due to forces that are not within our control.

When we look at people who have achieved fame, we sometimes marvel at the way they seem to climb the ladder with ease.  We forget, or never see the obstacles in their lives or what they did to overcome.  (Okay, wait, I am not talking about the problem children in the tabloids, I am talking about the good people.)

When we get to know someone who has reached for the stars and succeeded,   we have the opportunity to appreciate their humanity.  Thus, that is when the super-human becomes human.  Then, and only then, can we appreciate the individual and not just the star status.  When we are able to see someone as being “just like us,” then we understand their real journey; we see them as dwelling alongside each of us as inhabitants on this third planet from the sun.  Once what was famous deescalates to real, we can see his/her incredible ability to endure and fight on against life’s obstacles.

We return now to the beginning of the cycle: the star is – once again – super human. But, this time, veneration and blind reverence are replaced with healthy respect and admiration..

In the past few years, I have come to appreciate one such person in ways I could not – even during my most intuitive moment – have predicted.  That man is Uri Geller.

People who meet with me in my office have the opportunity to see the bent sterling silver spoon from the Savoy Hotel hanging on the wall behind me.  It is framed with an 8×10 glossy of Uri wearing his trademark smile.

gif-geller-uriClients invariably ask: Is that Uri Geller the Spoon Bender?

He is readily recognized for a single ability that captured the world; he magically bends spoons.  I can assure you he is responsible for so much more.  His controversial and stellar career virtually made the phrase “psychic ability” and “mind power” household terms.  He is a loving husband, and is the father of two successful children who share their father’s charm and intellect.  He is an entertainer and motivational speaker of the highest order.  He achieved rock star status by challenging society’s definition of possible.

Is Uri superhuman?  I would say, no.

Is he someone who has pushed the boundaries of what is means to be human? Absolutely.

He is driven to succeed in ways many of us can only imagine.  He forged a path for himself that had never been travelled in this world.  He knew where he was going and he remained true to his course.  For the one singular “power” of absolute focus and direction, Uri Geller is an inspiration and a personality worthy of appreciation. With respect, I am proud to call Uri Geller a friend.

Recently, he texted me that I would enjoy watching two movies about his life.  First, I logged onto Hulu and watched Uri Geller: A Life Stranger Than Fiction (2009).  Produced and directed by Simon Cowell, it is an excellent portrayal of his life and his amazing journey.  The second movie is in anticipation of the October 15, 2013 release of The Secret Life of Uri Geller: CIA Masterspy? by Jonathan Margolis. The BBC movie The Secret Life of Uri Geller (2013) is an enjoyable look into the long rumored connections between Uri Geller, the CIA and the Mossad.

I highly recommend the above media, and if you are one who enjoys thing mystical, paranormal or impossible, the videos are a must see.

These flicks are clearly able to inspire dialogue, raise questions or be dubbed “controversial.”  But at the end of the day, they clearly demonstrate the unwavering drive and ambition that are the guarantors of individual success.

Uri has often shared the story that when fame became stressful, John Lennon and Yoko Ono urged him to go to Japan to find spirituality. Uri returned reinvigorated and re-centered.

When life throws curves at you, where is your “Japan?”  Is it your family?  Your dog? Your church? A bench in your yard?

Please return refreshed.

What a clear night.

orion_Large-e-mail-viewUnfortunately, the 24 hours in a day are never enough to get done all that I hope to do.  Then, when I am thoroughly exhausted, I pause to catch my breath.   In that moment of calm, I always think of something I forgot to appreciate in my daily whirlwind of activity.

Tonight is was the stars.  The thought that I had was simple.  The stars in Orions belt mark the northern night sky when the sun is at its lowest point.  They are among the easiest stars to identify, and for some odd reason, they are part of my favorite constellation, Orion the Hunter.  The belt has been used for thousands of years as a distinct and clear marker for ancient timekeeping.

But someday, probably not in our lifetime, the three stars in his belt will die and Orion will cease to be the exact constellation we see today.  When stars die, I think I remember that it is the helium that burns up and iron forms.  The core cools and that is where the black and white dwarfs come in.  The black dwarf results when the star is of smaller mass and it collapses in on itself.  The white dwarf is when the star explodes into a super nova.

Either way, the star goes away.  And no, I am not really sure of any of this detail.  I am tired and thinking about things I once knew and possibly still remember in my subconscious.

Right or wrong, I am writing this blog to make a point and cannot allow fact to interfere with my midnight philosophical rant.  Oh yes, I was going somewhere with this…  I need a moment to remember….

Oh yeah, I know.  The stars will not always be as they are now.  Things in life change; whether that is in our lifetime or within the lifetime of the universe.    Tomorrow will be different that today, and the next will be different than tomorrow.

What have you failed to appreciate today that may change tomorrow?

Try Nailing Jell-o® to a Tree

We all work hard, but what are we working hard at doing?

The old adage that we may win a battle but still lose the war applies to all we do.

When a motivational speaker tells his audience that everything is possible, I wonder if the speaker ever tried to nail Jell-o® to a tree?  Some tasks are worth committing to because they advance our goals, some are NOT worth doing because they have no reasonable connection to our goals.  In other words, it’s the end game that’s  important.  Our greatest problem is the ones we create ourselves. The ones we foolishly believe we must attain!  In truth, they are unrelated to everything our goal requires.

Let’s say you hold a clump of jiggly red Jell-o® against a tree and push a long gutter nail through the gelatinous mass. Then you tap a hammer gently and remove the hand bracing — the Jell-o® will remain attached to the tree.  Well, it will remain until the weight of the Jell-o® pulls itself through the nail and falls to the ground.

Let’s pretend for a moment YOU are that Jell-o®.  If those few, fleeting moments of success could be suspended long enough to allow you to appreciate the accomplishment.  You would simply enjoy and appreciate the fruits of your labor.  But, if while watching the Jell-o® dangle from the tree, you might have considered the question: Why did I waste my time trying, and what the heck was I thinking when I took the time to figure out the method?

Actually, the time and method are a function of When and How.  You can address these questions by analyzing the time you spent arriving at the means of accomplishing your feat. You can delude yourself into a feeling of comfort by knowing you solved the problem.  The question that is missing is Why?

Why do we do some of the things we do?  How much time do we take to consider whether the time spent on a task is worth the effort?  We need to step back on a regular basis to consider our purposeTo face it.  We have all clicked on internet links with the goal of trying to learn something new.  Maybe we started by looking up a new way of finger picking a song on our guitar or selected a primer in order to fix a minor leak under the sink. But then, four hours later, we get a low battery warning while watching a YouTube video of a tourist getting chased by a kangaroo at a drive-through wildlife park.   At that moment, we usually pause and realize the time we spent was wasted.

Unfortunately, between the plumbing and the kangaroo, there was a vast wasteland of time we cannot explain nor get back.  Many of our days are lost in the outback of our lives yet take days to recognize.  Thus, we surrender ourselves and our goals.  We sacrifice them  on the altar of into the oblivion of darkness that is waste of time land.

Yes, I gave nailing Jell-o® to a tree some thought.  I even considered water and pudding as the nailed objects. But readily conceded the impossibility and chose not to waste my time. . Oh yeah, I also considered staples …. but the Jell-o® splattered so much — well. you know …

With that said, I challenge you to ask yourself this: Why am I nailing Jell-o® to a tree? Also, what part of my master plan will benefit from the time I’m spending on this task. Then let me know what you come up with.