Conscience Choice

Jim:     Greetings friends and welcome to a continuing mindfulness experience – Fishing Without Bait where we ask you to live life without definitive expectations, where one of our mottos is festina lente which is making haste slowly, Mr. Mike.  Do you believe, Mike, are we caught in some type of a time look?  It just seems that you and I just seem to be running together in a circular pattern.  You and I keep reappearing together.  We keep intersecting.

Mike:    That’s right.  I think that’s called a regular podcast schedule.  

Jim:    I thought that was interesting.  Mike, I was wondering whether when you look back through the podcasts, if you read the transcripts, whether you notice that we weave many of our topics closely around the same two topics, which are time and choice.

Mike:    Right.  I think that’s a big thing.  We talk about how time gets away from us and how our choices shape our decisions and our reactions.

Jim:    Certainly.  Actually, time causes most of people’s anxiety and worry in this world.  We just believe that we don’t have enough of it.  And, then we begin to believe that we don’t have a choice as to how to live our life or how to deal with the time that we do have – to use it mindfully and purposely.  At the end of our last podcast, Mike, we spoke of the necessity for reinforcing the basics before plunging into self-esteem, self-concept, and identify formation.  We don’t want people to dive into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim.  We urge people to do no harm to themselves, and if they’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, if they’re feeling a bit anxious – it’s like in yoga.  You take a yoga practice.  So, no one in yoga will ask you to stretch beyond your limits, to stretch beyond your capabilities.  As a refresher, let’s talk a little bit about the frills, bells, and whistles that can look impressive and impress others and ourselves.  If you walk into a room, Mike, and there’s pictures of the Buddha everywhere.  There are singing bowls.  There are sayings in quotations on the walls.  They’re burning incense.  There’s a library of books, most of which we’ve never read.  We’re doing all these things.  We’re wearing breathing beads, the necklaces, the t-shirts with inspirational thoughts.  They can be, sometimes Mike, only outward presentations of an image we want to project.  If I want to appear mindful, or if I want to appear smart – like today.  Today, Mike, I have a t-shirt with Albert Einstein on it.  What time of image would that project to people about me?

Mike:    Certainly that you’re thinking about smart people and what they say and do, and like to represent that – very much on your sleeve.

Jim;    If someone were – let’s say he wore Albert Einstein, you would think that you admire great intellect.  Which means that if you admire great intellect, that maybe you’re pretty smart yourself.  Again, that may be a misnomer.  That may be an image that we’re projecting.  So, please keep in mind that the above-mentioned things are wonderful if we use them as a means to an end.  That’s the key word – if we use them, if we take the action and effort to use them as a means to an end.  A means to an end to mindfulness.  A means to end to paying attention on purpose.  The means to an end to dealing with time and making purposeful choices in your life.  We’ve often discussed, you and I, about technology.  You’re a technology buff.

Mike:    Big time. 

Jim:    I’m a guy who should be banned from stores like BestBuy.  I’m attracted by all the bells and whistles.  I’m fascinated with them.  However, when I have them I have no idea what to do with them.  They look impressive when I have them, but I have no idea what to do with them.  They’re purposeless.  Really and truly.  However, for a person like yourself they can become tools, can they not?

Mike:    Right.  Very much so.  The business is kind of built around these tools, and these gadgets and doodads.  

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, you use those as tools rather than let those tools own you, or become a representation of who you are.  Again, let’s examine our house.  We spend more time on appearances than reality.  Do we paint over a flaw, Mike, or do we repair it?

Mike:    We repair it, because the paint is only going to last so long.

Jim:    Right.  However, sometimes what we do is we only make cosmetic repairs on our life.  If we want to appear smart, wear an Einstein shirt.  If I wanted to project an air of superiority.  If I want to project an air of intelligence, would I walk into a room full of MIT scientists with a t-shirt saying I’m With Stupid?  (It might be fun to do that.)  So, remember when we find ourselves spending more time and effort with outward appearances and neglecting our foundation we’ve lost our way.  And, again, we want to keep reinforcing that.  For example, if I have – when I have interns with me as a fulfillment of their requirement for their schooling, they’re filled with knowledge – little practical experience.  However, lots of knowledge.  So, sometimes what they do is people tend to pursue the exotic.  They want to look for the incredibly interesting.  And perhaps maybe what they concentrated on in school when we fail to notice what’s right in front of us.  Sometimes we spend so much time looking for a zebra that really and truly all it is is that there’s a herd of cows.  So, we want to look for that zebra rather than helping the herd of cows that’s right in front of us.  Which, again, we come back to paying attention on purpose.  In reflection, I’m going to ask that we review and practice hitting the reset button, the am I alive check-in each day at the start of your day – and perhaps before the start of every podcast so we can begin.  We can empty our glass.  We can have that beginner’s mind.  We can have that open mind when we can proceed.  Mike, I was looking over the last transcript, listening to it.  I continue to be struck by a comment that you made realizing that I’m a person that this happened to rather than I’m a person who has a choice.  I was very much impressed with that.

Mike:    Oh, thank you.  

Jim:    What does that mean to you today? 

Mike:    I believe in the context we were talking, we were talking about not being victimized, right?  Not allowing yourself to be that, like woe is me – this happens to me all the time.  And, you choose the response.  I had, for instance, I worked last night on this production and there were a lot of things that were going wrong.  And, I could have just been like this always happens to me, why do I even try – you know, that kind of thinking.  It can be very toxic in that kind of situation, when you’re in a high-pressure situation versus, okay – what can I wrap my head around?  What can I do to make this, you know, that pit when things are just going downhill inside of us.  And, be able to turn around that.  And just in day-to-day life.  Deciding, oh everything’s going to go wrong and that shapes the rest of your day as we’ve talked about before.  And, just saying no – I’m not going to let that bother me.  You make the choice to not let that bother you.

Jim:    And again, we get back to that choice word, don’t we.  We repeat that over and over again.  Mike, in reviewing timelines and reviewing the narratives of people’s lives, there’s an interesting therapist out there by the name of Kute Blackson and he has an excellent book that I found.  It’s called Turning Trauma Into Power.  And, most individuals that I’ve found that have narratives of their past a great deal of them have to do with the way they were raised, isn’t that?  It’s a great deal to do with their parents.  How often do we blame our parents for our present condition?  And, that can be true, however, how often do we choose to live in that resentment?

Mike:    I think a lot of people do.  A lot of people let that affect them.  Again, that kind of choice/victimized kind of thing.  I believe that – I’m sure there’s some study to back this up that you’re aware of – you know, my brother and I were raised in the same environment.  And, we reacted very differently from it.  I think you see that in a lot of cases where one brother went this way, one brother went this way in their life.  Whether that be getting in trouble all the time and drugs, and whatever the case may be, or this person went and had success and this or that.  Those people made the choice to respond to the environment that was around them that ideally was probably very similar.  

Jim:    Keep in mind that we are not discounting trauma.

Mike:    No.  Absolutely not.

Jim:    However, what we want to do is help people create a life and make choices rather than be a product of their past.  And, helping people understand that they do have a choice.  And, be mindful of that.

Mike:    And, I think it’s very important, as we talked about before about mending the mind in the past episodes, it’s not about oh you just have to make a choice to do this thing.  It’s not an easy choice.  We’re going to make that clear.  This is not an easy choice for you to make, and you have to make it on several levels of your mind.  So, I just hope that doesn’t come off over-simplified to certain people and say oh, I can’t make a choice, this is something that happened.  No.  It’s a mending process as we’ve been discussing over episodes and episodes.

Jim:    Certainly, Mike.  And, again, when we talk about forgiveness I’m not asking people to give people who have done them wrong absolution.  This is not a free pass.  This is not trying to find a reason why it happened or it did not happen, okay.  Remember, you’re hurting yourself – you’re poisoning yourself when you hold resentments, bitterness, anger, and hate.  Hate’s one of the strongest, bitterest words there is.  By making a choice, Mike – and there’s that choice word again, we free ourselves.  We’re trying to teach people how to refresh their souls rather than poison them.  We’re talking about taking responsibility.  The first thing, Mike, is acceptance.  Mindful acceptance.  We talk about radical acceptance.  We talk about not approving that this, not thinking that that’s the way it’s always going to be, but stepping back and realizing that it did happen, I didn’t approve of it, so I need to deal with it.  No more using defense mechanisms, running away, isolating, drugs and alcohol – whatever your type of defense mechanism is.  When we think about these people – let me ask you this once again, Mike, would you kick a sick friend?

Mike:    No.  Absolutely not.  

Jim:    So, these people that do these things to us – and this does happen, they’re ill.  And, they’re sick.  That’s not an excuse for their behavior.  However, continuing to hate and wish them wrong and wish them ill – holding that resentment, only keeps yourself trapped in that tar pit of poison and hate in the past.  And, again, when we talked about – I love the Judaism about the hundred blessings.  In fact, when I was at the service today, that’s what I spent the whole hour doing – giving people blessings.

Mike:    And, that was – at the Quakers’ service, not a Judaism service you were at.  I just want to make sure that we clarify.

Jim:    The Quaker service that I attend where we have an hour of silent worship.  And, I connect with the Creator, and I send out blessings to most everyone that I can possibly even think of.  When we send out blessings, Mike, what it does it actually acts as a purifying device for our own soul – not necessarily that it’s going to greatly affect others, but it purifies our own soul.  You know, Mike, there’s a lot of harmful – there was just recently a climate agreement.  And, there’s a lot of harmful, toxic poisoning of the earth.  However, the earth has the ability to purify itself.  Mike, let’s take for an example, a stream.  Given no further pollution, and not horribly toxic chemicals, a stream can purify itself about every seven (7) miles by the action of the water going over the rocks, the filtering process, going through the sand and the rocks, the turbulence and the swirling.  It’s a magnificent process how the earth can purify itself.  And, by doing this, we can actually purify ourselves by sending the blessings.  We’re the water rolling over the rocks.  We’re releasing that. And, again, Mike, you have a choice on whether we can continue to poison yourself or purify yourself.  And, in the next episode, Mike, we’re going to talk a little about how to do that.  I’ve enjoyed so much being with you today.

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