Archive for July, 2011

In real-time, it’s Saturday, July 23, 2011. The weather here in Orange County, New York…like the weather across most of the country… has been oven-roasting hot with temperatures reaching 100 degrees. And despite last night’s forecast for more of the same today, it’s cloudy. Very cloudy.  And it’s the weather that got me thinking of a bigger picture.

Who among us doesn’t dream of a life of a blue sky with a brilliant sun?  There is no room in our lives for clouds, but clouds are a part of life. But how we deal with clouds is an indication of how we deal with life.

When we wake up to a cloudy sky we sometimes have a tendency to think the whole day is going to be cloudy..and possibly rainy. As a result we let the clouds…cloud our thinking. Instead of believing that there is a good chance the clouds will lift and reveal the sun, we believe it’s going to be cloudy all day and whatever plans we might have had will be ruined.

Wouldn’t it be much better to deal with the clouds but believe that the weather could change and that there will be a blue sky? In life wouldn’t it be better to deal with the issue that cloud our lives and our thinking without predicting a continuation of clouds?

There’s no denying that clouds can bring us down, but those clouds should not rule our lives.

I guess some people might call it faith, but believing that behind those clouds is the sun, is what makes us dreamers. Much like Dorothy who believed in rainbows.

NOTE: In real-time, as I end this blog…the sun is coming out behind the clouds.


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A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my nephew Michael from New Mexico. He always raises a lot of  good questions. Well, in the course of our conversation I used an analogy about painted furniture that I would like to share here.

Much greater minds than mine have attempted to make sense of our creation. That’s why I resort to analogies and metaphors, the use of which makes it much easier for me to wrap my mind around big mysteries.

Suffice it to say that I believe we are all a unique handcrafted piece of furniture and that our original source was a magnificent tree. When we’re born we are this amazing piece of solid wood and because we are all different, no two pieces of furniture are alike.

From the day of our birth there begins a process of what I would call “wood finishing.” Our parents, extended family, culture, religion etc. all have a hand in this process. By the time we start school we have a number of layers of shellac, stain, paint…whatever…on us. And while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with “wood finishing,” I sometimes fear that much of what we are and who we are begins to get lost under all those layers.

Before you know it, all those little intricate designs that make us who we are…the things that define us as unique creations, have been filled in. Before you know it we look like a piece of furniture that has so many coats of paint that all you really see is the last coat of paint and you would be hard pressed to know what the original piece of furniture looked like.

I think it’s our job to strip away all those unnecessary layers of paint to rediscover the piece of furniture we are. It’s not an easy process because it’s far harder to strip away a layer of paint than it is to add another one.

Genuine people are not covered with paint. And although genuine people are as rare as an honest politician, there are some still living in the world and those of us who find a genuine person can count ourselves among the lucky few.

Genuine people know that there is no place like home. Genuine people make you feel safe in their presence. Genuine people know the secrets of life.

But remember, genuine people are not perfect. Like a good old piece of furniture, they show signs of wonderful wear. They have nicks and scratches because they’ve lived life to the fullest.

And while it’s my opinion, I think the most genuine people I’ve ever met are trunks. These people have traveled the yellow brick road. They carry inside them the wisdom of living an authentic life.

The trick to remaining genuine? Never lose sight of the wonder of it all…and remain young at heart.

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I do believe in heroes, I do believe in heroes

Call it by whatever name you might choose – recession, depression, or the economic shit hitting the fan…and blame whomever you like, Bush, Obama, or Millard Filmore, but the real signs of the times won’t be found in The New York Times or The World Street Journal, but rather on the marquee at your local movie theater.

Ever since the Great Depression mere mortals have been seeking refuge from the harsh realities of life in the dark confines of a movie theater. (If you ever want to watch a great movie about using movies to escape the blues, check out Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.)

Throughout the 30s it was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers who flew people down to Rio and taught them how to tap their troubles away. Today the silver screen antidote for our national depression can be found in the plethora of hero movies flickering in movie theaters around the country.

The hero. The figure from ancient times who played a vital role in the health of a society. The hero, a person who embodied attributes that all mortals wanted in their lives. Look at the listing of 2011 films and you’ll find heroes among them: Captain America, the Green Lantern, Iron Claw, Transformers, Spy King, Conan, Cowboys and Aliens and the last Harry Potter installment. In all those films, the hero is center stage. In all those films moviegoers has a chance to escape, if for a brief time, the real world and travel to a place in time where the hero rules and  where the bad guy is banished.

We, the people, need our heroes. We desperately want to believe that there will be someone out there with super powers who will make things right. And if only a fantasy, we secretly want to believe that when we leave the movie theater there will be some real heroes on the horizon.

There were no heroes with super powers in The Wizard of Oz. Even Oz himself fell short in the hero category after admitting he was a humbug.

In fact, all the characters in the Wizard of Oz, were figures who had a deficit in their nature. The Scarecrow lacked brains; the Tin Man had no heart; the lion was cowardly; and Dorothy was a  meek and humble farm girl from Kansas. But it was their deficits that allowed them to find the power within to change.

And even though Glinda could have played the role of the hero, she knew better. She knew that real power comes from within.

Hero movies are great. They fill us with hope. But unfortunately, the glow we get from seeing a hero on the big screen make the world right, fades by the time we pull out of the movie theater parking lot and head home.

One of the worst things we can do as a society is to expect “our leaders” be the heroes we find on the silver screen. Politicians, in my mind, make the worst heroes.

Real heroes can be found much closer to home. Real heroes are all around us. Maybe they’re not vanquishing the enemy, leaping tall  buildings in a single bond or smashing meteors in outer space, but they are out there. They are people doing small things for people. They are the people we seldom notice because we don’t really have a grasp of the heroic in today’s world.

And once last thing. While you might be the last one to admit it, you have heroic potential. There is a hero within all of us. And it doesn’t take a wizard to unleash the power. We just have to believe that every positive action we take…no matter how small…unleashes the hero within.

Now go and have a heroic day.

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America celebrates its 235th birthday this Fourth of July with parades, picnics, concerts…big and small, and more than likely scores of political addresses. And that’s all good because having a reason to celebrate is always a good idea…especially during trying times. However, I believe we are all a little rusty when it comes to really understanding what makes…or at least should make…this country of ours different.

Considering what happened…and continues to happen…around the world, I think would knock the knickers off our Founding Fathers. I think they would be astounded to know that the ideas and ideals that they found to be unalienable are not so unalienable.

Granted, the Founding Fathers were not saints, but they were willing to be martyrs for a cause that they found so important that they were willing to defy the strongest nation on the face of the earth and to tell the king to take a royal hike.

I wonder what they would think if they came back this Fourth of July. I fear they would be both impressed and depressed. Impressed by the amazing accomplishments made by hard-working men and women. Depressed though because most of us have no idea what it was they fought so hard to earn for us.

When was the last time you read The Declaration of Independence? Do you have any idea what’s contained in it? You won’t find a recipe for peach cobbler or strawberry shortcake. But you will find a recipe, although not perfect one, for freedom and a firm resolution for the right of every human being for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I think we as Americans think The Declaration of Independence belongs to politicians. Well, that’s not the case. It is OUR document and I think we need to reclaim it.

Having re-read the amazing document I am resolute in my belief that it is our policy of petty politics as usual that is tarnishing The Declaration of Independence.

I think it’s time we all jump off the political party bandwagon and declare our independence from office seekers whose heads are stuffed with straw, who have no hearts and who lack the courage to be upfront and honest.

Happy Fourth!

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.




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