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Hawaiian mindsets and values

TIME HORIZONS

TIME HORIZONS

The time frames you set to realize your goals can influence whether you achieve your vision of success.  This is the foundation for another exercise in Un-Seeing.

We seem to have been brain-washed into believing that if we don’t weight ourselves down with a lot of pressure to get things done and done and done, then we’re going to just sit there like lumps on a log.  That’s often the rationale behind all this deadline-making fetish we’ve all fallen into.

Put enough pressure on yourself and you’ll squirt ahead of the crowd.  Oh yeah.  Uh-huh.  Ri-i-i-ght.

More often, it seems, putting all that pressure on yourself makes it very hard to move with grace and is likely to break something – either in you or in your relationships and in your world.

SOME THINGS TAKE TIME…A LOT OF TIME

Baking a cake takes an hour or so.  Slow-roasting a side of beef takes a lot longer.  If you turn up the heat and try to cook that hunk of meat in an hour like a cake, all you will get is a charred piece of raw meat and an over-heated kitchen.  It doesn’t work.

Setting your time frame is like deciding whether the race you are running is a fifty-yard dash or a marathon.  Different strategies are required, depending on the race you choose to run.  You have to pace yourself — allocate your time and your energy differently.  You have to train differently.

This YouTube video “Eight Stages of Marathon Running,” published in 2013 by BuzzFeed Video is a giggle-inducing depiction of the emotions experienced by a first-time marathon runner over the course of a 26.2 mile run.

It’s hard to imagine any short-race runner going through all of that.

HAWAIIAN STYLIN’

Hawaiians have a most interesting concept about time.  They know that time is a mind-construct.  It doesn’t really exist in the Real, they say.  Because time is a human-made thing, it stands to reason that humans can play with time.

When the pressure mounts and they are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that have to be done, Hawaiians remind each other to “ho’omanawanui.”

In modern times this phrase is translated as “don’t worry.”  However, a wise old Hawaiian shaman once told me, the literal meaning of this phrase can be broken down as follows:

Ho’o” = “make”

Manawa” = time

Nui” = big

When you put it all together “ho’omanawanui” becomes “make time big.”

The shaman was gently pointing out to me that I was trying to solve a very big chronic problem in a very short time frame.  It was driving me crazy. It seemed like every move I made compounded the chaos and it all got overwhelming.

The shaman listened to my tale of woe and advised me to give myself more time and more room in which to make my moves.  Letting go of an artificially set deadline, he said, would give me more time to allow the big mass of chaos I was facing to settle down so I could see how I could use my available resources – my time, my energy, my attention and my money – to better effect.

The moves I could choose to make became clearer when I did not feel the looming pressure of the deadline I had set for myself pressing on me.  Giving myself more time to resolve the situation was a simple matter of telling myself that I had all the time I needed to turn it all around.

This let me take a breath and slow down.  The situation no longer felt like a life-and-death emergency run, with lights flashing and sirens blaring.

flashing-lights
“Flashing Lights” by Thomas Berber via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
I could slow down.  Slowing down helped me see the opportunities that were already there and I was able to use them to help mitigate and correct a truly intolerable situation.

That one worked.  So have all the other times I’ve tried to use the Ho’omanawanui strategy.

THE FALSE “EITHER/OR”

A wide time horizon can help you avoid false “either/or” decisions.  It’s useful for challenging the assumptions you are carrying whenever you’re facing some choice.

all-at-sea
“I’m all at sea….” by GraceOda via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Here’s an example.  Should I spend the summer with my kids making a memory?  Should I spend the summer building my client base so we’ll be able to continue living in the style to which we’ve grown accustomed?

If you start thinking on this in March and you’re looking at the upcoming summer, it’s likely that you’ll end up turning the choice into an “either/or” thing:  EITHER I spend the time with my kids OR I build my business.

If, however,you choose to spend next summer off at the beach with your kids, then you can use the year in between to save money, take on additional clients to generate more revenue, and give advance notice to your existing clients that you’re going to be taking off next summer.

You can even get the kids into planning what they want to do and see and making their own plans for the trip as well.   Together you can work on making the whole experience more meaningful and fun.

The decision becomes an “and”:  I am building my business AND I’m building a special memory with my kids.

GETTING TO “AND”

An even bigger one is the one where you consider doing what you love and doing what makes you more money.  A wider time horizon can allow you to turn the thing into an AND decision, rather than making it an EITHER/OR proposition.

Giving yourself a wide time horizon allows you to consider working during the day and following your passion during the non-work hours.  Or, you might choose doing what you’re passionate about as your primary activity and getting side gigs that make you money.  Or, you might be able to figure out a way to make money doing your passion.

If you don’t load a lot of time constraints and have-to’s onto yourself, you can figure out how to get to where you’re going gracefully.  A bit of graciousness can creep in.

FINAL THOUGHTS

One of my favorite quotes about time is this one by Michael Altshuler:  “The bad news is time flies.  The good news is you’re the pilot.” 

Altshuler should know.  He is a sales coach whose personal track record shows over $65 million in personal and managed sales and he speaks before corporate audiences about peak performance.  For a while he did a stint on the t.v. hit show, American Gladiators.

Here’s a YouTube video produced by eSpeakers in 2016 that shows Altshuler in action.  His message in this thing is a good one….

Here’s a poem:


SAVING

There is no saving time,

No matter what they say.

There’s only the spending

In wise and foolish ways.

 

It is a saving grace,

The knowing this is true

It becomes a matter of pacing,

Of finding the real for you.

 

And when the hours are gone

And the clock has had its run,

The cosmic jest may yet come clear.

Here’s hoping you had fun….

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  Gear and Hands by Domiriel via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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KAHIKINUI PRAYER

KAHIKINUI PRAYER

Kahikinui is a land district that is approximately 22,860 acres between Kipahulu and Kaupo on the southeastern side of the island.  It is bound to the north by Haleakala National Park,  to the west by Ulupalakua Ranch and to the east by Haleakala Ranch.  The Pacific Ocean laps along its southern boundary.

This YouTube video, “Kahikinui,” was published by Jeremy Johnson using his drone and gives a taste of the sheer expansiveness of the place.  (The music is “E Nihi Ka Hele” by the legendary Hawaiian musician Gabby Pahinui)

THE MANY-STORIED LAND

Kahikinui can be a harsh place, a dry and rocky place full of thorns, feral goats and axis deer, and it is, to my mind, one of the most beautiful of Maui’s treasures.  The land is mostly undeveloped because of the shortage of water there.  Some see it as a good place to put up huge windmills for energy.

Kahikinui is the back of beyond…a hinterland that was inhabited since the early fifteenth century by na kua’aina, the country people.  Later planters transformed it into what was called the “greatest continuous zone of dryland planting in the Hawaiian islands.”

It sits mostly empty of people now, but at one time there was a fairly large population.  Ruins of old houses, trails, small farms, and a complex system of temples and shrines are scattered throughout the area.

kuaaina-kahikinui
KUAAINA KAHIKINUI by Patrick Vinton Kirch (via University of Hawaii Press)

Kahikinui was the subject of a 17-year-long study by anthropologist Patrick Vinton Kirch and his students.  He wrote a book about it, KUAAINA KAHIKO, Life and Land in Ancient Kahikinui, Maui.  It is an amazing book.

One reviewer calls Kirch “an academic archaeologist who tried to be pono at a time when to be an archaeologist in some circles was to be a social pariah.”  Interwoven throughout the book are stories about his relationships with a dedicated group of passionate homesteaders, Ka ‘Ohana o Kahikinui, who were allowed by the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission to set up for a bare-bones homesteading effort.

The Hawaiian Home Lands Commission is a State agency that oversees the distribution of (usually third-rate) farming land to Native Hawaiians, as mandated by the Federal government.  That’s a whole, other, very long story fraught with controversy and politics.

The members of the Kahikinui ‘Ohana were willing to do what they had to do to bypass the long, long wait for the government resources to become available to develop the infrastructure that is officially deemed necessary for the people to move back onto the land.

pueo
Pueo by pmm3 via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

LAND CONNECTION

My husband Fred and I were interested in becoming homesteaders there.  Two years after Fred died, the land became available.  I was offered a chance to acquire a lease for land there, a posthumous award to my husband.

I had to refuse the offer.  By myself, I did not feel able to do it.  In gratitude, however, I made a prayer/poem for the homesteaders there.

When I gave it to him, this poem made Mo Moler, the charismatic leader of the group, cry.  I was very proud of that.  Mo is one tough guy, a Vietnam veteran and a wild man.  It is not often that he lets himself cry.

pueo-on-the-fence
Pueo On The Fence by Mark Kimura via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Here’s the poem:

 


PULE KAHIKINUI

 E Akua, hear me.
This is your child who calls you.
 
Our thanks to you for this land:
For the great bowl of sky and the beauty around us,
For the cool of the mountain, the abundance of sea,
Our thanks.
 
We come together now to talk about this land,
This land that needs us as we need this land,
So the land may live,
So we may live.
 
Help us guard our mouths.
Let our words bring light, not darkness.
Help us clear our na’au and hold to our purpose,
So we can resolve our problems
In peace,
With love.
 
Let us put our minds together and pool our mana’o
And see what we will make together for our keiki.
Help us hold this land as witness to the beauty that was,
To the beauty that is,
To the beauty that can be.
 
Let us make from this land more beauty,
And with that beauty we will feed our souls.
Help us remember that we are the bridge between
Those who come before us
And those who come after us.

Let us be strong and true to that memory.
Help us remember who we are,
That we are yours as you are ours
And we are all together.
 
E Akua, hear me.
This is your child who speaks.
 
To you we offer the glory of this work we do.
It is yours, all yours.
Let the work be pono.
Let the land be pono.
Let us be pono.
 
E Akua, be with us.
We who are yours,
We ask.

by Netta Kanoho

E Akua is a calling out to the Creative and to the ancestors.  Na’au  literally means “guts” – a person’s center, where all of the emotions and subconscious thoughts and feelings are held – and where Hawaiians feel the human “mind” is really situated. Mana’o is “knowledge.”  Keiki is “children.”  Pono means being balanced and being righteous.]


Picture credit:  Kahikinui by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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THINKING NATIVE

THINKING NATIVE

I don’t know if it’s just me or if it’s an artist thing to ponder frequently on the direction you want to head.   (You tend to spend a lot of time making course-corrections when you’re flying by the seat of your pants, I find.)

I have been musing on this a lot lately.  I think I am trying, in all my work – in my art, my poetry, my writing and even in my property management gig —  to incorporate the Oceanic mindsets in which I’ve been steeped.

Oceania includes Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.   Adrienne L. Kaeppler, in her book THE PACIFIC ARTS OF POLYNESIA AND MICRONESIA postulates that the goal of Oceanic art is to produce fine art that makes Pacific themes understandable in today’s worlds.  She points out that contemporary Oceanic artists don’t slavishly copy old products or art processes.  Their work is based, instead on knowledge of traditional aesthetic systems.  She goes into detail, explaining this concept of hers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR AUDIENCE (CUSTOMERS)

One very real aspect of doing work that arises out of an indigenous mindset is the awareness of the importance of the audience.  (For a business person, I suppose that would be your customers.)

I remember watching a friend (a sculptor of stones) looking at and appreciating the Light of My Life’s rock work.  He did a series of petroglyph carvings on rocks that he set in a spiral in the yard as a memorial for his dad who had died at the beginning of that year of carving.  He was also aiming at honoring the old Hawaiians who taught him so much when he first came to the island.

petroglyph-labyrinth
Petroglyph Labyrinth. Art by Mathew Westcott

Mat’s petroglyphs basically arose out of traditional Hawaiian motifs but they are definitely not exact copies of the old stuff.  Each bit is layered with a superficial theme and then deeper kaona, inner meaning, metaphor, and symbolism.

 

My friend Cecilia didn’t understand the cultural references at all and may not have even been aware of them, but she did appreciate that there were layers of meaning in there.  Just knowing that deepened the experience of the things for her, I think.  It could be, too, that Cecilia is particularly sensitive to stone her own self and that also was an enriching factor.

LAYERS AND LAYERS AND LAYERS

It’s important, I think, to remember that the layers incorporated in a work may be deep or shallow.  The one looking at it brings his or her own world and views to it as well.  Hmmm….

Native scholar Greg Cajete has written that in indigenous ways of thinking, we understand a thing only when we understand it with all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion and spirit. My goal is to make art and poetry that tap into these indigenous ways of knowing….

People are affected by my poetry because they arise out of my life experiences that are mirrors of their own.  Everyone has experienced loss.  Everyone has experienced anger, betrayal, disappointment and pain.  Everyone has experienced joy.  Everyone makes decisions about the paths they will take and the ones they will not.

This is what I share with others – my own paths toward grace.   For me, the paths that lead to grace are buried in the detritus of the everyday and they are also illuminated by my own cultural understandings and mindsets.  My mission seems to have been about finding the paths and byways that resonate with me, marking them, trying to follow them.

MAKING THE CONNECT

As for my audience, well…I am still trying to suss that one out.  A new book has just come out that addresses that very question.  Nicholas J. Webb, a popular speaker and corporate strategist, has written a new book, WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE:  How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint

Webb has spent 25 years helping people gain insights into what their customers want.  His company, Cravve, provides counseling and training in customer design and innovation for many of the world’s top brands.  This book tells you how you, too, can figure out what all those eyes that you’re trying to get to notice you are wanting to see.

In this YouTube podcast posted by CT Corporation (a subsidiary of Wulters Kluwer) as part of their business marketing “toolbox,” Webb talks about his ideas for dealing with “touch points” – the places where you connect with other people.  As I listened to the podcast, it struck me that Webb’s ideas are all about making good connections.  They are positively Oceanic in mindset.

 

(Wulters Kluwer is a multi-national information services company based in the Netherlands with operations in over 35 countries.  CT Corporation is “the largest registered agent service firm in the world representing hundreds of thousands of business entities worldwide. It provides software and services that legal professionals use,” it says here.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My audience is probably going to be made up of the people who are trying to do the same as me, people who are trying to add mana and meaning to their own everyday lives.  I think there may be a market somewhere in all that.  I just need to refine my walk so that I can connect with the people who are already working on that their own selves.

As I am learning my craft and learning more about my market, my real reward will be spending a bunch of time in what I call “Little-G World”…where I can be just like a little god, making it all up as I go along.  That is a cool thing, I am thinking.

Also, I am thinking that the late, great Ray Kroc once said, “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”  In WHAT CUSTOMERS CRAVE, Webb helps you figure out how to influence other people to love you for doing what you love.  This, too, is a good thing…and it’s very Oceanic.

And here’s a poem:


CONNECTING THE DOTS

Art.

What is art?

Art is not a piece of work.

It is a reaching inward and a coming back.

 

Artist.

What is an artist?

What are artists for real if they are more than

The producers of pretty objects

Meant to cover up some wall space or match a couch.

 

We are the keepers.

We hold.

We are the seekers and explorers.

We go.

We are the lost ones.

We come back.

We are the messengers.

We carry the dreams.

 

We look forward and see what can be.

We look back and see what was.

We look outward and see illusion.

We look inward and we wonder.

We accept what-is and build from it.

We accept what-is and choose the good.

We accept what-is and work for change.

 

Native.

What is that?

It is a way of life,

It is a way of being.

It is a reaching forward and a coming back.

It is looking inward and looking outward.

The way of Art is the way of the Native.

It is walking in Beauty and taking it in;

It is holding the Beauty and pumping it back out.

 

This is Native.

This is Artist.

It is a way of being.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Oceania Boards by Karen Green via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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MANA = POWER

MANA = POWER

In these posts of mine, I talk a lot about mana.  It is a Hawaiian term for inherent personal energy.  Hawaiians thought that such personal energy was partly genetic  — certain families and lineages were believed to have more of it available to them than others — and partly the result of personal development.

On one level, according to Hawaiian thinking, the World is energy — flowing, flowing, flowing — energy interacting, and energy always moving.  The world as we know it is really just a space where energy flows.

Since humans are a part of the world they too are a part of this space where energy flows.  Humans can become vessels for the energy and they can become conduits for it as well.

MANA AS CHARISMA

One definition of “mana” is “personal power.”  Some people would call it “charisma” and, according to Hawaiians, it is an inherent part of every human.  Some people have bus-loads of mana.  Other people, not so much.

Here’s an interesting thing:   one executive coach whose clients include Fortune 500 company leaders, Olivia Fox Cabane, has made a career out of turning the findings of behavioral scientific studies into information about how people can develop more charisma.   She details these findings and tips in her 2012 book, THE CHARISMA MYTH:  How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Charisma.

The following YouTube video by Between The Lines Animations is the first of two whiteboard animation book reviews of the book.  (The second part includes some exercises that help you develop more charisma.)

 

MANA FROM THE HEART

According to Hawaiians, the seat of this personal energy they call mana was thought to be in a person’s na’au (gut).  It flowed into the world through a person’s pu’uwai (heart).

This YouTube video by The HeartMath Institute, “The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence” has an interesting take on the Universe and our connections to it and to each other.

[The HeartMath Institute is a group of scientists who are conducting research on the power of the heart, the heart/brain connection, heart intelligence and practical intuition.  The Institute views the universe as a large network of information that each person can tap into.  The video explains how every person’s heart contributes to this “collective field environment” of knowledge and wisdom.]

If nothing else, the video is a lovely starting point for thinking on how you affect the world and how it can affect you.

YOU CAN’T SEE IT, BUT IT’S THERE….

It’s impossible for you to see the whole picture because if you’re in the flow of the Universe-energy and there really are no limits to the power of it all, then you’re just too small to be able to get a clear overview of the whole thing.  You’re a fish swimming in an ocean.  (Fish probably don’t even know that they’re swimming in water.  It’s just there, all around them.)

The cool thing about this way of seeing the world is that there is an implied possibility of your being able to tap into the energy that is flowing all around you.  However, as with every other power-source or power-system, your tapping into the energy that is available to us in the world will probably have consequences and effects that may not be readily apparent.

Hawaiians say that if you are wanting to live a life with mana, it is better if your actions and your interactions with the world become a prayer and an offering.  Being careful to make the offering shiny honors the Creative and helps you keep the light on.

Otherwise, it is way easy to spiral down into the dark.

One of my own thoughts about all of this is that if you really are a conduit for the energy of the Universe, one of the appendages of a vast intelligence, then you’re pretty much obliged to make yourself a worthy vessel for the energy, aren’t you?  I mean, who wants to try to harness the power of the Universe using a sieve?

ANOTHER HEAD-GAME TO TRY

I forget where this exercise came from, but this head-game did produce some interesting results.  Here’s what you have to do:  Make a phrase about power and see where the thought leads you.  The one I chose for exploring this idea about being a conduit as well as a vessel for the Universal power is “All power comes through you.”

You might want to try doing the same exercise to see what you think about it.

ALL POWER COMES THROUGH YOU.  If the Universe is about energy and you are the vessel or conduit for that energy, then probably you’re like a rechargeable battery that is plugged into some appliance which is also you.  (Hmmm….sounds like you can be a perpetual motion machine when it’s put like that.)

The only thing that matters, it seems to me, is the meaning underpinning the way you use that available energy.

As a conduit the way you bend and direct the energy coming through you will probably stem from a choice you make.  That choice will be your chance to foster Light or to allow the Dark to swallow up the World.  Heavy thought!  You, too, can be Luke Skywalker.  Sheesh!

ALL POWER COMES THROUGH YOU.  If you are a vessel or conduit for the flow of energy that animates the Universe, you should be able tap into the mana of it all.  The way you use that power depends on and informs how you continue to grow as a vessel or conduit for the energy flow.

I then had the thought that personal power has to be filtered through the human heart, the pu’uwai.  Ignoring your heart in all this stuff can lead you down some very dark roads, it seems to me.

While a human heart sounds like a really puny thing, if the HeartMath guys are right and we’re actually connecting to the collective field with our hearts, then it makes sense to pay attention to the things.

ALL POWER COMES THROUGH YOU.  My original phrase for this exercise actually was:  “All power is within you.”  I changed it because I couldn’t help thinking that each person is a really small thing.  I couldn’t get my head around  how all the power in the Universe could possibly come from inside some teeny little thing like a human.

I think the thing you need to keep in mind as you play with this is that the energy, the mana, comes from the Universe/the Creative.  It’s not your power — any more than the energy stored in a battery “belongs” to the battery.

ALL POWER COMES THROUGH YOU.  The more free you are of restrictions and obstructions the easier the flow of power and energy through the conduit that is you.  This one needs more thinking on, it seems to me.

It sounds pretty spooky when you think about where “no limits” might lead you in this situation.  It may not be such a bad thing to have limits in place when you are dealing with unlimited power.

All kinds of people have studied how power flows.  The ancient Chinese philosophers who developed the I Ching oracular system counseled the world leaders they were advising about the need for developing self-control, autonomy, and responsibility.   The important thing, they seem to say, is recognizing how you hold the power and where you are directing it.

When you’re being an energy-conduit, they ask, what kind of conduit are you?  What are your motivations?  Where are you wanting the available energy to go?

When you are being an energy-vessel, how strong are you?   Are you impermeable or do you leak?

(There are many different books about the I Ching, which translates literally from the Chinese as “The Book of Change.”  One of my own favorites is THE I CHING WORKBOOKMit by R. L. Wing.  My copy is falling apart despite having been re-taped  together over and over again.  I keep the thing because I’ve made so many notes in it that it would be a major project to transcribe them all.)

ALL POWER COMES THROUGH YOU.  One of the consequences of that last thought about embracing limits is becoming aware of the need to develop an under-structure that is strong enough to HANDLE the flow of power.   Even enormous transformers get fried when too much electricity flows through them.  The I Ching can help with that one too.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Playing with power-thoughts can be an interesting exercise in creativity.  It does seem to expand your way of looking at the world, and, who knows?  Perhaps if it is done with the intention of helping to make the world a more harmonious place, then that could become more real as well….

Here’s a YouTube by asapScience, “The Scientific Power of Thought.”  It was put together by Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown and inspired by the book THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF by Norman Doidge, M.D.

 

And here’s a poem that grew out of playing with the Power exercise.  It echoes with my own affinity for Tao-ish thinking.


POWER

Another paradox.

At the highest level,

Having power means not using it.

A vessel you become, a reservoir,

Containing the capability

For total destruction,

Controlling all by your lonesome

The possibility of

The Chaos-beast unleashed.

 

And if you can hold it,

And contain it,

And control it,

Then the chaos

And the ugly

And the beauty

Roiling around inside

That vessel that is you

Transmute to purest light:

An elixir that pours out of

This vessel to nourish the Universe.

 

And, if that is your aim,

Then all your strength must be

Concentrated, focused down

On making the vessel that is you

Impervious to the vagaries of the dream –

To what the world will say or do

Or demand or ask.

 

And you will be a very scary creature

Of light and dark and blood and bone

And only one imperative:

To hold contained the power

That is already inside you intact

Until it can evolve into light

That radiates out to transform the dream.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture Credit:  The Breath of God by DeeAshley via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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TELL YOUR STORY…

TELL YOUR STORY…

When I Googled “tell your story,” I got 166 million search results.  It seems the world is hungry for stories…your story.  Ears are everywhere, waiting to hear, it seems.

Of course there are all the ones who want to teach you how to tell your story and others who want to tell you why you should, especially if you are a business.  And there are the other ones as well.

Every kind of organization – for-profit and not, religious and not, beneficial and (perhaps) not — are listed in the search.

  • There are support groups who collect stories to show other people with similar issues and problems that they are not alone. Often they are working on using the anecdotes they collect to help you and fellow sufferers heal.
  • There are folks who collect stories as part of an effort to help preserve a culture or to build a consensual sense of history.
  • And then, of course, there are the folks who basically seem to be bent on listening their way into your wallet.

Telling your story is generally agreed to be a good thing.

NARRATIVE HEALING

Sometimes telling your story helps to ground you and helps to start your healing.  This YouTube video by spoken-word poet Jon Jorgenson is called “Tell Your Story.”  In it, Jorgenson tells what happened when he opened up before a group of interested, well-intentioned Christians.

FINDING YOUR PASSION

Sometimes telling your story becomes an exploration and an uncovering of a passion that sustains you and connects you to the world.

In this 2012 TEDx talk given at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, “Maka Maoli:  Storytelling On a Screen Beyond Stereotypes,” independent filmmaker and hula dancer Lisette Flanary tells how she began creating her award-winning documentary films that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula and Hawaiian culture.  It helped her to re-connect with her roots.

RAZZLE DAZZLE AND PIZZAZ

Sometimes you can use your stories and ideas to make something new that resonates with the world.  In this YouTube video, filmmaker Zach King recounts how he began his YouTube channel FinalCutKing after his application to film school was rejected.

He posted video editing tutorials on the thing and more than 400,000 subscribers tuned in to his channel.  Even after he was accepted into film school, King continued playing and exploring his video-making habits.

In 2013 King launched a Vine account that attracted an audience of nearly a million fans in a remarkably short time.

King points out that he did all this with just a computer and a digital camera, assorted everyday props (including pets and stray people) as well as a cadre of computer geek collaborator-friends.

While he had to give up his fantasy of directing a major blockbuster and collaborating with Steven Spielberg, he was also able to bypass the estimated twelve-plus years of industrial dues-paying and the incessant fundraising that’s an inevitable part of producing “real” films.

In this YouTube video of a TEDxPortland talk, The Storyteller In All of Us, he tells his tale.

He does look like he’s having a good time….

MY FAVORITE SHARE-A-STORY PLACE

My own favorite share-a-story place is The Moth, an organization whose mission is “to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.”

Each Moth show is built around a theme, some aspect of the human experience.  Every Moth storyteller tells a true story live, in front of standing-room-only crowds with no notes.

Since its inception in 1997, the group has become international.  In more than 25 cities around the world, The Moth currently produces more than 500 live shows each year.  Through their Education and Community outreach programs they conduct workshops to teach high school kids and adults how to tell their stories.

Their podcast is downloaded over 30 million times a year and each week the Moth Radio Hour is heard on 400 radio stations worldwide.  This radio show won the Peabody Award which recognizes when the telling of “stories that matter” is done well in electronic media.

The Moth’s first book, THE MOTH:  50 True Stories was a New York Times bestseller in 2013.  A new book’s in the works now.

NOT READY TO TALK?

What if you’re not really ready to tell your own story?  What if it disturbs your sense of privacy?

Well, there’s always listening to the stories all of these other people are telling theirs.  That’s a lot of fun too and, as a bonus, you might even learn something….

Here’s a poem:


COME TELL ME YOUR STORY

Come, come, come….

Come tell me your story.

 

I promise you:  I WILL listen.

 

I will listen for

the heartsong

that beats through

every halting word.

 

I will listen through

the heated flames of anger,

the coldest wind of bitterest gall,

the piquant and the sour words

falling from your mouth,

the salt of an alkali desert

pouring from your lips.

 

I will listen for the sweetness,

the soft notes of redemption

from the shining songbird that settles

in that gnarly old tree

growing in the wasteland of you.

 

I will listen until

you can hear your own story,

until you know you will endure,

despite…

because….

 

Your story is very much

like my own, you know.

 

Thank you for sharing

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Tell Your Story stencil by Acid Midget via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

THE WORLD YOU DON’T SEE

A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world.  In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so.  He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.

GETTING NEW EYES

One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising.  Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.

Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by Jing Ling (2012)  It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making.  Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is?  Think about it….

TRAVELING PROMOTES NEW EYES

Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing:  take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.

This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places.  When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.

For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world.  He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.

DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN

I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous.  You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.

Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said.  How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.

You need to get some Outsider eyes.  Ask yourself:  How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?

I grew up in Hawaii.  For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.”  It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America.  It has been an eye-opener for me.

Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place.  They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.”  Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.

hawaiian-767
Hawaiian 767 by Simon Clancy [CC BY 2.0]
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.

LIVING IN DIFFERENT WORLDS (IN THE SAME PLACE)

Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us.  Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things.  They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.

Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else.  They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.

Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.

Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else.  What you believe is what you will see.  It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.

Here’s another poem….


TO A STRANGER LOOKING FOR PARADISE

Island welcomes you when you come.

The gate is always open.

It is open when you come;

When you leave, it is open.

 

‘As how…

 

But, if…if you really want to be a part

Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,

Talking about, thinking about,

Here’s your first lesson:

 

Be Island.

Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.

Whatever you can give, give graciously.

Be who you are, gracefully.

 

That’s Island.

People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.

If you cry, they will hug you.

If you hurt, they will comfort you.

 

Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.

Show angry and they walk away,

Or return anger for anger.

That’s Island.

 

If you are real, Island is real.

If you play games, Island plays harder games.

If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –

Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.

 

‘As how.

Island is not how much money you have,

Or how many fine things.

Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.

 

‘As how.

You will be tested:  There will always be lessons,

There will always be tests.

Doesn’t matter how long you stay.

 

That’s Island.

People have been burned by strangers over and over.

They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…

If you will keep going, as they do.

 

‘As how.

They know:  Island is a cruel, cruel lover.

Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.

She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….

 

That’s Island….

If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.

Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.

Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”

 

Island will not be with you and in you and of you.

You can live here fifty years,

And STILL you will not be Island.

‘As how….

 

So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,

Know there is a price you will have to pay.

Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.

That’s Island….

 

Also know that when you have paid it

And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,

Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….

That’s Island.

 

Here is the key…

You can use it if you like:

There is only one gate to Paradise.

It is inside of you.

 

‘As how….

by Netta Kanoho

[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how….  It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that.  It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.] 


Picture credit: Vanity Eyes by Ikon (Grazla Horwitz) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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REVIEW: A Curious Mind

REVIEW: A Curious Mind


PRODUCT (Book):  A CURIOUS MIND:  The Secret To a Bigger Life

Authors:  Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman

Publisher:  Simon and Schuster [2015]


TALKING STORY

Brian Grazer knows how to “talk story.”  So does his collaborator on this book, award-winning journalist Charles Fishman.

Talk story” is a Hawaiian-style way of turning one-on-one conversations into an art form.  It is not “small talk.”

When you “talk story,” you ask questions, and then you listen to the answers.  Every answer and each question becomes a part of a bridge that you can use to enter into somebody else’s world-view.

listen
“Listen” by Andre Vandal via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The conversation becomes a tour of another person’s mind and heart.  At the same time, you open up your own world to the other person.  Together you can play.

Talking story” is a way of making deeper connections with someone else and it turns the ordinary into something that is richer and more layered than just a news report or an annual Christmas brag letter.  It is a way of tapping into the realities of someone else’s life.

Old friends who are used to wandering together in each other’s worlds can hold hands and cross their bridges into each other’s lives in less than five minutes of talking.  All the memories come back in a rush, even if the friends have not seen each other for years.

hanapepe-swinging-bridge
Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, Kauai, by Wally Gobetz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Two strangers who are adept at ‘talking story” can be holding hands and skipping through each other’s worlds in no time at all.

It is a lovely thing.  According to Grazer, it is also a way to deepen your understanding of life and the world, and is a very good way to tell better stories.

HE’LL PUT YOU IN THE MOVIES

Brian Grazer is a professional storyteller.  With his long-time friend and partner at Imagine Entertainment, Ron Howard, Grazer has been making movies and television programs for more than 30 years.

As both a writer and producer Grazer was personally nominated for four Academy Awards.  In 2002, he won the Best Picture Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, the amazing film about the life story of John Nash, a Princeton-educated mathematician who won the Nobel Prize and who was plagued by devastating schizophrenia.

Glazer’s films and television productions have been nominated for a total of 43 Oscars and 149 Emmys.  His movies generated more than $13 billion in worldwide theatrical, musical and video grosses.  In 2001, the Producers Guild of America honored Grazer with the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award for his artistic and commercial accomplishments.

A CURIOUS SORT

Grazer credits his successes to just one thing:  following where his lively, active curiosity leads him.

curiosity
Curiosity by Georgie Pauwels via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
For as long as he has been in the film industry, Grazer has made a practice of setting up what he calls “curiosity conversations” with “interesting and accomplished strangers.”  The list of people with whom he has shared these conversations spans more than 27pages in the book.  He apologizes for any omissions.

The list includes people from almost every walk of life.  There are luminaries and superstars, scientists and renowned artists, villains and heroes as well as more ordinary sorts.  Each person Grazer spoke with was pursuing some passion or walking a path that engaged them completely.

The talks helped to inspire and inform the films Grazer has successfully produced as well as many other stories that he pitched to various investors that were ultimately rejected.

CURIOUS IS AS CURIOUS DOES

In this book Grazer explores what curiosity is and he explains how he uses it to expand his own world-view.  In the process he also points out how you, too, can use your own innate curiosity to do the same thing.  It is fascinating reading.

In one of the earlier stories in the book, Grazer tells about his curiosity conversation with former L. A. police chief Daryl Gates.  After months of trying to set up an meeting with the guy, the producer finally got in to see the police chief…just as the city of Los Angeles was on the verge of exploding in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating by L. A. police officers.  It was a tense time.

daryl-gates
Official LAPD picture of Daryl Gates via Wikimedia Commons (circa 1978 – 1992)

[Clicking on the following link will take you to a CNN documentary that was posted on You-Tube in 2011.  The documentary was made 20 years after the beating and the riot that ensued when the police officers who were involved were acquitted of wrong-doing by a jury:  https://youtu.be/tWhYmb1sANM.]

Grazer says, “My visit with Darryl Gates was strange, memorable, unsettling.  In other words, it was perfect.”  Grazer’s mission when he met with the beleaguered police chief:  “I wanted a sense of the personality of someone who wears the chief’s uniform with absolute confidence, who commands a miniature paramilitary state.”

Grazer accomplished his mission.  The conversation took him entirely out of his own everyday world.  It helped him to understand that even though he lived in the same city as the police chief, even though he was as successful and in a position of influence in his own way like the police chief, their worlds were “so different they hardly overlapped.”

The police chief and the movie producer looked at “the very same city from completely different perspectives, every day.”

Grazer explains, “One of the most important ways I use curiosity every day is to see the world through other people’s eyes, to see the world in ways I might otherwise miss.  It’s totally refreshing to be reminded over and over, how different the world looks to other people.”

THE RESULTS SHOW

Developing this ability of using his curiosity to step into other people’s world-views has allowed Grazer and his partner Ron Howard to produce 17 movies that are very different one from the other.  Each film explores different very human points of view and different sets of real-life circumstances.

The films have allowed us movie-goers glimpses into where other people’s heads have taken them.  The movies are an impressive array of human experiences.  They include:

[picture credits: via Amazon.com]

FINAL WORD

Grazer’s thoughts on curiosity, asking questions and listening for the answers, and the ways one can use these things to broaden your own repertoire of ways of seeing and moving in the world is a fascinating study.  The book makes a useful manual for anyone who is cultivating a life that is rich and deep with meaning and mana.

I do highly recommend this book.  It is a most interesting read because, as I’ve said, Brian Grazer is a storyteller.  He knows how to tell good stories….

Here’s a poem….


WHEN THE OLD ONES TALK

Watch when the old ones talk.

Listen.

Their eyes wrinkle, dart and dance.

Their words murmur like a stream.

Their hands dance patterns matching their words.

The laughter bubbles up.

 

When they tease, it is a test, you know.

If you can laugh at the world and laugh at yourself

What a joyousness there is!

All the pain of the world is understood

In the laughter of old people.

All the heartaches, all the mistakes,

Forgiven in one burst of gladsome rebellion.

 

Pettiness gives way.

Understanding comes.

We are all together and one,

Despite the anger, the arguments,

The pain, the despair.

We are one because

We can laugh,

We can sing,

We can dance,

We can love,

We can tease

And the layer on layer on layer

Delicate placement of every glistening, golden sound

Resounds as laughter reverberates.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  via Amazon.com

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AUDREY’S POEMS

AUDREY’S POEMS

The following poems are by Audrey Love, a strong-willed and independent Upcountry Maui woman who is making her own way through the world.   She is what Hawaiians call a “tita.”

A tita stands up strong for what she believes.  She will do as she chooses how she chooses because she chooses.  She does not feel a need to explain herself.  She takes the blows that come her way and, if she falls, she will stand back up…again and again and again.  She is indomitable (and darned near unsinkable.)

Audrey’s poems are untitled and are straight shots from a loving heart.   I do like them….

The first one, she says, arose from an important question she wanted to ask all of the people who were passing judgment on her:  What do you see?   The second poem came, Audrey says,  “when I fell in love.”


Will anyone ever see my heart

Or see the tears I cry?

Will anyone see the hurt

Or bother to even ask why?

 

Will anyone know I can love?

Will they see inside of me?

Or will no one know I exist

And see just what they see?

 

Will anyone know I am gentle?

Will anyone know I am kind?

Will anyone look inside of me

And see what there is to find?

 

Is anyone even concerned?

Does anyone really care?

Does anyone really give a shit

As long as I am there?

 

Will anyone know how it is

Or how it’ll really be?

Will anyone take the time

To really take a look at me?

© 2016, Audrey Love

 

Like the bright blazing morning sun

You’ve brought tons of sunshine into my life.

 

Like the delicious honey from buzzing busy bees

You’ve bought sweetness to my difficult day.

 

Like an extremely strong-minded professional

You’ve built courage and confidence in myself.

 

Like a gentle yet firm hug that says, “You’re special”

You’ve brought warmth into my life.

 

Like true-spoken tender words of wisdom

You’ve brought believing into my world.

 

I love you, oh, so very much.

Thank you for being a beautiful part of my life.

© 2016, Audrey Love

[Please note:  If any of you would like to contribute a poem to this page, please let me know by leaving a comment below….  I’d be happy to hear from you.]

I ask three things of my guest poets: (a) a poem of your own making that has great meaning and mana for you, (b) the back-story for the poem — what inspired you or how you made it or whatever you want to tell about it, and (c) an image you own that I can use as the featured photo in the header. (The last is optional. I do ask that the image you share is one you own — either an image of yourself or something that relates to the poem. If you choose not to send an image, then I’ll go find something that works.)

Picture credit:  “Heart” by seyed mostafa zamani via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
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HOW ARE YOU BUSY?

HOW ARE YOU BUSY?

One of the best bits of advice I’ve come across is in Sam Bennett’s book GET IT DONE: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day:  “Be busy like a trapeze artist flying through the air or like a stuntwoman – just cleanly move through each task with great clarity, concentration, and grace.

WHY MULTI-TASKING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA

I’m thinking that the development of clarity, concentration and grace is probably the best argument there is for not multi-tasking.  Think about it.  When you’re trying to do three things at once, you are never very focused or concentrated on just one thing because the other two tasks you’re trying to do in tandem keep niggling at you and jostling your elbow.

These other tasks distract you and that can make you clumsy.  You don’t do any of the tasks you’ve set for yourself very well and it’s likely that you’ll screw them all up.  And if you’re flying high, it is probable that you’ll also take a tumble.

The antidote to multi-tasking is uni-tasking:  doing one thing at a time with focus, care, and attention.

Since I’ve got lots of things to do, serial uni-tasking is going to be my next big thing!  Do many things, one thing at a time….one-step, one-step, one-step.  I’ll still be busy, but I probably won’t fall off the trapeze in a distracted moment.

ULTIMATE UNI-TASKING

I’ve been tripping on watching guys play at parkour, which is also called “free-running.” This extreme sport, which apparently began in France, involves running at top speed through an urban or natural obstacle course using whatever happens to be there to get further.

The practitioners have to just DEAL with whatever gets in their way and just keep on going.   In a split-second they have to accept what lies in front of them and fling themselves at it in order to overcome whatever challenge it presents.

It’s an astounding display of physical prowess, fast thinking, and fearlessness.  You cannot do anything ELSE except stay on course and keep on going because if you’re distracted in the middle of leaping from one rooftop to another, you are likely to end up as street pizza on the sidewalk below.

Here’s a You-Tube video of the world’s best parkour and free-running.  It was posted by StuntsAmazing….

To remind myself of my latest resolve, I have a new motto:  PARKOUR!

And here’s a poem about yet another strategy – accepting what is and saying “yes.”  This poem is written in pidgin.  However, only a few of the words are likely to be unfamiliar, I am thinking.  Mostly it’s the grammatical liberties taken by the speaker that makes the poem pidgin.

The word “went” set before any verb turns that verb into past tense, so “you went show me” translates to “you showed me.”  Often the “is” and the “are” get dropped in the sentence structures.   (“You no fool” is really “you are no fool” in proper English.)   “For” is oftentimes substituted for “to” in a sentence.

All of this ungrammatical playing around gives pidgin its own special rhythm, which is very useful for certain poems.

Right on” basically means “accurate” or possibly “true.”

Braddah” means “brother.”

Babylon” is the nonsense and delusions that the world tries to sell you.  It’s a favorite shorthand word taken from Rastafarian speechifying.

No fool around” means “to talk straight.”

Go good” basically means to “move the right way.”

‘As how” means “that’s the way to do it.”

Some good” means “very good” and “all good” means “everything is good.”

Da kine” is a local pidgin phrase that’s really hard to describe.  It basically refers to the all of everything in a particular context that requires no further explication, mostly because the other person already knows what the speaker is referring to.  Sometimes the use of “da kine” can verge on telepathy.  It requires that the two people who are talking are in tune with each other to a high degree.


FOR REAL

You know you right on, my braddah.

You went show me how for live.

“For drown out Babylon,” you went tell me,

“Say ‘yes’ to Yes.”

 

You no fool around, my braddah,

You went teach me for go good.

“No question, just stay cool,”

“Say ‘yes’,” you went tell me, ‘to Yes.”

 

“Say ‘yes’,” you went tell me. ” ‘As how.”

” ‘No’ only bring you down.”

“Accept,” you went tell me, “what’s now,”

“Say ‘yes’,” you went tell me, “to Yes.”

 

Through your anger, grief, and pain

“Say ‘yes,’ ” you went tell me, “to Yes.”

And now…oh, wow…some good

‘Cause you went say “yes” to Yes.

 

My braddah, you went show

Da kine can be all good,

And ev’rything just flow

When you say “yes” to Yes.

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit: Trapeze Artists by Tender Young Pony of Insomnia via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

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REVIEW: F*CK FEELINGS

REVIEW: F*CK FEELINGS


PRODUCT (Book)F*CK FEELINGS:  One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems

Authors:  Michael I. Bennett, MD & Sarah Bennett

Publisher:  Simon & Schuster [2015]


CAMP-GIRL THOUGHTS

When I was growing up on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in the early 1950’s, there were two pineapple plantations still going strong:  Del Monte (California Packing Corporation) at Kualapu’u and Libby McNeill at Maunaloa – small isolated communities in the western hills of the island.

World War II had recently ended.  Hawaii was still a territory of the United States of America.  The “plantation camps” – collections of aging, ticky-tacky worker housing – were owned by these corporations.  The workers lived surrounded by the fields where they worked.

The mindset among the people in that place was even smaller and more limited than “small-town” or even “village.”  It was like growing up in a large extended family with all the same rivalries, alliances and hierarchies.

Interactions between people in the camps were multi-layered and sometimes intense.  Often there were insurmountable inequities.  For many people life was hard.  Despite it all, however, almost everybody agreed that life was good.

‘As how,” (that’s the way it is), they would tell each other when bad luck struck.  It was a given that this neighbor would help and that one would turn away (or maybe even snicker.)  The faults and flaws of individuals were recognized, acknowledged and mostly accepted.  When everybody’s busy trying to make ends meet, little time can be spared for trying to improve how other people walk.

“Enduring” what could not be changed in life, in others, and in yourself was a life-stance.  People got along – or not – as best they could.

Many of the people in the camp were from my grandparents’ generation.  They remembered coming from places where life was much harsher.  They had already made the Big Change:  they had given up everything they knew to come to a foreign place where all the rules were different and “culture” became a thing they made up for themselves along with all the folks around them who were also mostly from other places.

Life was “better.”  Whatever challenges and obstacles they encountered in the camps were still “not bad” when compared to the trouble they had left behind.  They knew the odds were good that the lives of their children and their grandchildren would be better than theirs had been in the old place.

In all the hard there was time enough and space to laugh and sing, to notice and appreciate beauty, and to dream.  There was room to cherish each other, to honor the ones who helped smooth the rough places and to forgive the ones who could not.

SELF-IMPROVEMENT JONES-ING

I grew up in that mindset.  Maybe that’s why I’ve always been fascinated (and confused) by the world according to people who write self-actualization and self-help books.  In their worlds, any problem or challenge or obstacle can be and should be resolved.  “Closure” can be achieved.

All you have to do is build up your willpower and determination and attack the thing with all your might until it falls down in abject surrender to you, the Master Blaster.  If you put enough effort into this exercise or that method or the other technique and pass on through every obstacle and challenge, then WHAMMO! you can win through to happiness and all good things.

They assure you that it is imperative that you “fix” this issue or that one so you can find “closure” and then you can get ON with your life.  Uh-huh….

AND DEN….

I have slogged through acres of bookshelves full of those books.  Finally there comes one that tells you that Life is really a LOT bigger than you.  There are many problems you will never fix.  There are many issues for which “closure” is impossible.  And it only matters if you choose to believe that it does.

It seems to me that this witty and practical book, F*CK FEELINGS, can help you make useful and sustainable life choices that make sense to you.  It was written with great warmth and humor by a Harvard-educated, medically trained practicing psychiatrist with over 40 years of clinical experience together with his daughter who spent years writing sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York.

In the introduction, the authors say they aim at helping their readers accept that (a) life is hard, and (b) the reader’s frustrated efforts in trying to deal with assorted serious life problems are a valuable guide to identifying what cannot be changed.  Once the reader has that one down, the authors detail sensible, positive and possibly effective suggestions for managing this stuff that can’t be changed.

The authors do this by breaking down their advice for dealing with each major self-help issue (self-improvement, self-esteem, fairness, helpfulness, serenity, communication, parenthood, and the assholes in your life) into three parts:

  • What you wish for and can’t have (all the unrealistic wishes and hopes people have about “fixing” an issue),
  • What you can aim for and actually achieve,
  • How you can do it.

There are examples and scenarios of each of the major issues and explanations of how and why what you wish for probably won’t happen.  There are reality-check moments and stories about how the more practical suggestions may play out (or glitch up).  All of it is very down-to-earth and the commentary feels real.

There’s also a bonus chapter about when and how to find appropriate medical treatment for a problem and how to decide when it’s time to stop.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book has been like a breath of fresh air to me.  It is a good reminder that there’s no such thing as “fair,” that feelings are mostly stupid, and that life is hard on everybody.

Still, as the authors point out, you can be relatively “okay,” no matter what, if your goals and how you reach for them are appropriate for the problem you are facing.  The good doctor’s suggestions, more likely than not, have a good chance at helping you decide which moves are effective.  He tells you that if you can manage to stay human despite your own inner demons, that is good enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to read the thoughts of someone who apparently does not believe that he is God’s gift to the wretched.  I think you will too.

 

koki-beach-sunrise

Picture:  Sunrise at Koki Beach by Tim Szlachetka via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):   A disinclination to keep looking for evidence of all the ways your life is hard.  [There really is no point in counting all the ways you suffer because they are endless and the list will turn you into a bitter thing filled to the brim with resentment.  Counting your blessings on the other hand….]

Here’s another poem:


YOU GO, GIRL!

She’s found compassion.

It was lying there among

The instruments of pain

And torturous circumstance,

Amid the detritus she has uncovered in

The excavation she is making of her ancestral past.

 

She’s found compassion for

The bits of humanity that beget her,

And it’s made her face and body human-soft and warm.

The heavy-hard no longer presses now.

She’s lost the strain of pulling such a heavy load –

A wagon train of recrimination and regret.

 

The why-me has evaporated

Leaving an evanescent residue.

She’s even put up that brilliant sword she wields so handily.

Now the light shines in her

And it’s the beauty of Kwan Yin

Glowing through her.

 

Gone the marks of a mortal soul

Battered by the exigencies and

Actions of other mortals

Slogging through this world of dust,

As she climbs back on her immortal steed

And takes off, into the endless sky.

 

She’s made it back into the Infinite Game,

The one that pulses underneath

The boundaries of Time.

She’s flying back to the Real now,

And it’s a glorious thing to see.

You go, girl….

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  via Amazon.com

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