Let Us Be Still

This poem seems most appropriate on this New Year’s Eve 2016, at least for a friend or two who speak German and perchance for some unknown visitor wer Deutsch spricht. Surprisingly, I could find this poem nowhere online among the many works of Maria Dutli-Rutishauser. So I copied it from an Italian poetry quarterly : Voci Nuove: Quaderni de Poesia Contemporanea, No. 64, April 1967. Why do I have this little book? I have a poem published therein, but in English, not German. Also, vorwärts auf Deutsch! Oh, this poem is most relevant if you happen to be camping.

November
von Maria Dutli-Rutishauser

Lasst uns stille werden
da das Jahr vergeht.
Wir sind wie der Nebel
der im Tale weht.
Flüchtig ist der Tage
kurzer Sonnenschein.
Über eine Weile
wird es Winter sein.
Wie ein Schleier senkt sich
Wehmut auf die Welt.
Lasst uns stille werden –
warm sind Herd und Zelt.

 

Wisdom Day 11 December 2016: Skin-Deep Stuff

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is a beautiful face on an empty head. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 11, Verse 22, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Which brings to mind:

 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (The Good News of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 6, New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

Have you ever shared some intimate, personal thoughts with an attractive face, only to suffer humiliation and a sense of betrayal when your words are fired back at you in an argument, possibly publicly? I have. Noooo fun.

Is physical beauty a guaranty of any virtue at all? Are there just plain ugly personalities that take any virtue or beauty of character as an affront that merits retaliation?

Is there some face, some attire you find attractive, exceptionally attractive? Is it possible to chart what’s behind the face and the threads from a safe distance, to get a sense of the true dimensions of the persona before getting within grappling range of demons, either in business or in bed? Fighting demons? It’s like wrestling pigs: Everyone gets filthy, but pigs enjoy it.

 

Urgent: Stop Suicide

Thank you, Tim Ferriss, Jocko Willink and Echo Charles . You just gifted me the most urgent podcast message I have ever heard: Jocko Podcast Episode #50.

For the love of God, share Jocko Podcast Episode #50 NOW. And if God is not among your loved ones, for the love of them, share it NOW! This is a message every teenager should hear NOW, every Veteran should hear NOW, every college student should hear NOW. Every ________ should hear NOW. Fill in the blank. Share, share, share, NOW! Why?

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas some years back, my cousin Tyler killed himself, all alone. He had reached out to me and to my sons, just asking what we were doing over the holidays. We sensed he was fishing for an invitation, but we were busy.

We never heard from Tyler again. Instead my aunt called. She could not handle it. I flew out to California and cleaned up what Tyler left behind. He never saw the New Year. And every New Year, I try to forget it could have been different. But I can’t because it could have been.

You don’t need to carry a burden like this the rest of your life. SHARE Jocko Podcast #50 NOW. Listen for the quiet desperation that may lie behind the polite question or phone call of a friend or relative, and SHARE Jocko Podcast #50. Share yourself, your ear, your heart, your time. A false positive carries little risk, but a false negative can mean a death to be borne forever. You can make a difference you may never know you made until in due time you yourself pass over.

 

 

Wisdom Day 22 November 2016: The Way?

Point your kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verse 6, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

I just heard something astounding. I came across it while listening to the Tim Ferriss Show #201. It was the part where Tim shares an interview with Sam Harris about meditation. The astounding part for me is that Sam Harris expresses the wish that his young daughter experience psychedelics early enough in life to gain expanded insight. Later in the interview, Dr. Harris shares with Tim that the psychedelic experience can be either marvelous or like unto the most extreme form of mental illness one might ever observe. He indicates that even if one does have a bad trip, there is a chance that one will recover and at least experience compassion for those who suffer from mental illness. A chance?

I know Sam Harris, is published and in many ways much, much more successful than I. In fact, compared to Sam Harris, I am in the media world a cipher, a nobody. Still, I dare to espouse a totally opposite opinion.

My Sophie is five years old, soon to be six as I write this post. Would I gamble Sophie’s emotional future on some probability that she might not have a bad psychedelic trip? This does indeed sound like some worldly wisdom beyond my kin. But that dissuades me not:

18-20 Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,

He exposes the chicanery of the chic.
The Master sees through the smoke screens
    of the know-it-alls. (Paul’s First Letter to the Church at Corinth, Chapter 3, Verses 18-20, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

So I am out of date with the times. I’ll settle to be God’s fool as Sam Harris is the wise man of the age. I know that raised in the Spirit and by the grace of the God whose existence Sam Harris denies, Sophie can know compassion and great joy. So I will invest in discipline and jiu-jitsu for Sophie. I surely will not gamble her life on the luck of the trip.

And as for Sam Harris? It comes to mind that even Voltaire recognized the value of having a Christian tailor. And then at the end of his life, this great atheist called for a priest to administer the last sacraments. It ain’t over until it’s over.

Between Sam Harris’s bet on psychedelics for his daughter and Pascal’s wager, I go for the latter or better yet, I prefer knowing The God Who is There. The high when you reach that knowing is costly but free, filling the present and lasting forever.

The crux of the matter? Don’t get mad. Don’t just get even. Get ahead and above. Get high on the high that lasts forever. And bring the kids along for the ride. A really good trip.

Wisdom Day 21 November 2016: Holiday Word Watch

Watch your words and hold your tongue;
    you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 21, Verse 23, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Facing the run up to the holidays, I think of times in family and work gatherings where certain of my words would have better gone unspoken. So I’ll try to listen lots more than I talk over the next few weeks. I’d like to generate no futile dust-ups between now and the New Year, and thereafter, of course.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry . . . (The Epistle of James, Chapter 1, Verse 19, New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

Wishing  you quick ears, a slow tongue, and a slow fuse as you head toward the festivities. And the clear head of sobriety:

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
    whoever is led astray by them is not wise. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 20, Verse 1, New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

Wisdom Day 20 November 2016: Get Thrashed

A good thrashing purges evil;
    punishment goes deep within us. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 20, Verse 30, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

This passage jumped out at me this morning! When I first started listening to the Jocko Podcast, the BJJ talk struck me as a bit of a side show, sometimes a counterpoint to extremely heavy content.  Little by little, I became convinced that my 5-year old Sophie and I needed to sign up at Jocko’s Victory MMA Gym. Since then, some time and travel issues have interferred with our regular participation, but in the beginning I could see that striking, grappling, and BJJ were having a profound impact on Sophie: on her art, her attitude, her energy, and her plans for the day and the future. Now it dawns on me that Sophie and I need to get thrashed regularly on those mats. I can not think of a better purge for evil for us both. How often do we need to  be purged? Probably daily for me:

 . . . human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 6, Verse 5, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

And for Sophie?

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline will drive it far away. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 22, Verse 15, New International Version, BibleGateway.com)

Child Support Services would likely take a dim view of driving out the folly with a rod. But the mats? Another thing all together. And I would not need to be the thrasher! All around win!

Conclusion? Lot’s of Jocko’s wisdom likely comes directly from the mats. A mind purged of evil has room for wisdom and discipline.

Discipline = Freedom

Wisdom Day 19 November 2016: Kid Smash

In Our Hands

Discipline your children while you still have the chance;
    indulging them destroys them. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 19, Verse 18, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

We feed them sugar in its myriad forms, buy them a dizzying array of plastic stuff, and use the TV as our baby sitter. Then we pay the dentist. But the chance is gone to form their character and their intellect.

This holiday season, let’s give them the gift of ourselves, an informed us.

So what will I do for Sophie? I’ll play Zoominoes with her tonight and do tic-tac-toe. She loves that and cheats. Not really. She just changes the rules as we go along. Maybe she is on her way to Extreme Ownership. She does lead to win. By that I mean she grabs the pen and changes my O to an X. Voilá! Victory for the five-year old.

Oh, and maybe I’ll revisit Simplicity Parenting, the best book I know on child rearing, other than maybe The Book of Proverbs, which takes us back to where this post started.

Wisdom Day 14 November 2016: Mind the Body

The wonders of modern medical research:

Over the past 20 years, mind-body medicine has provided evidence that psychological factors can play a major role in such illnesses as heart disease, and that mind-body techniques can aid in their treatment. Clinical trials have indicated mind-body therapies to be helpful in managing arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. There is also evidence they can help to improve psychological functioning and quality of life, and may help to ease symptoms of disease. (National Institutes of Health Medline Plus, Winter 2008)

A few years earlier, the world renowned researcher and scholar Solomon put it this way:

A sound mind makes for a robust body,
    but runaway emotions corrode the bones. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 14, Verse 30, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Working hard to control my bone corrosion factor, BCF (my own acronym). Since reading Extreme Ownership and listening to JockoPodcast.com, my BCF has dropped 19%, and I don’t even have a Trooper Rash Guard! Go figure!

NOTE: The Solomon Project cost U.S. tax payers nothing.

 

Wisdom Day 11 November 2016: Blessed Blessings

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
    those who help others are helped. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 11, Verse 22, The Message, BibleGateway.com)

Veterans Day and Day 3 of the transition to a Trump presidency, a surprise to many and for some a source of anguish, anger, and rage. Among those who read this post will be some who are committed to the principles of Extreme Ownership. For them the challenge is to own even this period of roiling ire. How? To lead by example and to remember it is not what we preach, it is what we tolerate that counts. We start with ourselves. We must tolerate in ourselves and others only words and actions intended to mend rather than aggravate rifts. Were we on the losing side? Focus on constructive thought and action rather than the desire to break everything. Were we on the winning side? Avoid all gloating and arrogance, both in ourselves and in others. Of course, we can not control the words and actions of those around us, but we can be courageous enough to refuse to enter into conversations, actions, and reactions focused on fanning the flames. Rather, defuse the explosive devices by finding a way to bless others, through our words, our acts, the way we look at people. Curses generate curses, but blessings bring a harvest of blessings. Ourselves and our nation surely need to be abundantly blessed, especially now. It is time for a new Armistice Day.

 

Torture: Post 1: The Decision

The young officer received orders for his next assignment: Vietnam, Chief, POW Interrogation Team. What to do? There were rumors of U.S. forces torturing prisoners. A predicament: Resign his commission, desert and flee to Canada? But his motives weren’t pure. He didn’t want to leave his beautiful young wife and their new-born son. Of course not. The lure of media exposure as a conscientious objector loomed large. TV interviews. Maybe publishing a book. Much more attractive than a billet in Nam. And regardless of possible media distortions, it was clear: lots of men were dying in Nam.

Persuasive factors but not honorable. So the lieutenant flew out to meet with his mentor, a colonel, to seek insight. Hearing the question, the colonel was crest fallen. “We don’t do that! We don’t torture prisoners!” That was it.

The lieutenant chose to go and see for himself. Ego was not absent from that decision either. Maybe the colonel was right. Didn’t seem likely, but maybe. In any event, Nam was the right decision for career advancement. He went.

Without knowing what preceded or followed this decision, can we judge its morality, its rightness in absolute terms? Both possible decisions were ego tainted, holding vast unknowns and based on fragmentary information about the realities of the war zone. What say ye?