Live your life… Perfect your life… 

Everything you are comes from your choices.                                 

                                                 – Jeff Bezos

So I’ve definitely been neglecting this blog and I have no excuse. But I just had a dream discussion with a childhood friend about something near and dear to my heart. In the end, my best advice came from a poem that I rad a couple of years ago. I figured why not share it with you all. Hope you enjoy…

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. 

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, 

and demand that they respect yours. 

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. 

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. 

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. 

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, 

even a stranger, when in a lonely place. 

Show respect to all people and grovel to none. 

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. 

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. 

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools 

and robs the spirit of its vision. 

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled 

with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep 

and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. 

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
Chief Tecumseh (Crouching Tiger) Shawnee Nation 1768-1813

Just because people are doing extraordinary things, doesn’t mean they’re not ordinary people. 

                                             – Laird Hamilton

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We own it

“May the best of your today’s be the worst of your tomorrows.” – Sean ‘Jay Z’ Carter

So it’s Friday… Last day of the week… End it with a bang. I decided to end mine on the right note and got in a gym session early. Now, my workout is over so I decided not to skip out on cardio and do a quick 15 minute treadmill run/walk (more walk than run if I’m being honest). I look over and there’s a class in the open room. Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen them but something today made me pause. 

It’s kind of a mix between aerobics and salsa dancing. There’s always this one older woman in there and at first I thought it was a belly dancing class based on what she was wearing ( you know the outfit – the top with the Jewellery hanging down in front of your midriff so that it jingles when you do the moves). But then I noticed she was the only one wearing it so I had to revise that thought. Now she’s not the youngest in the class… Nor is she by any means the oldest…. But she damn sure is the one having the most fun while being intense at the same time. 

This woman couldn’t care less who’s watching or who’s there. She just takes her place in line, squares up, and gets down to business.  And it got me thinking – that’s the way you’re supposed to do it. Not the workout, well actually yeah – the workout. But more than that – LIFE. You show up… You get in line… You square up… And you get down to business! Don’t worry about the intensity of those around you or where they’re at – you just get in your zone, get focused and do what you gotta do. 

Now I’m not saying that those around you can’t be seen as motivation – of course they can motivate you. It’s just the way we’re built. We chase the next step. Constantly reaching… Constantly changing. But you don’t let the progress of the other person determine your limitations. Don’t look at them… Look PAST them. But overall, remember that you’re  running your own race. You set your own pace and what’s important is that you just keep moving forward. You’ll get there in time. And you’ll stumble along the way…. And you’ll fall flat on your face… And you’ll want to quit… But you gotta keep going. Progress can be a slow process…. But it feels so good when you get there. 

My own personal way of looking at it is like this – instead of looking at how much further you have to go to get to your goal…. Turn around and look at how far you’ve come from where you started. Impressive, isn’t it?

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill 

Success and nothing less

“You see things; and you say Why? But I dream things that never were; and I say Why not?” 
– George Bernard Shaw 

As I sit here about to continue my progress towards getting to a better, healthier me (to be honest, I’m like Kevin Spacey in “American Beauty” – I just wanna look better naked). But I digress…

I was looking at this interview online yesterday with a celebrity and he made some very nice points that resonated with me and made me think about myself. I remember when I was a teenager and like most of them, I had my life all mapped out: get my first degree by 22, married by 24, kids by 27, leading in my career field by 30…. FAILURE AT ALL! Lol. It’s alright though. I have grown wiser in my age and I now realize and accept that I had to fail at all of those things in order to get to where I am supposed to be. 

Plans are great and having goals in life are important. As human beings, we need that chase. We need to always be on the hunt for the next thing. “Yeah. Ok. I’m doing this now. Good. I’m getting it. I understand it. Now… What next?” You gotta stay hungry in life. Ambition is what drives us to progress. Not perfection. We will NEVER achieve that. But you can get closer and closer to it. You my even find yourself in areas you never even thought you’d be in. But that’s what I like about having goals. 

A dream, a good work ethic, ambition and no fear – these are all ingredients to an uncertain life. Now I know the realm of the uncertain can scare some people but for me, it’s exciting! I left the country of my birth to pursue a goal at the age of 21…. New country, new climate, new people, new experience. I was a combination of every emotion you can think of. But it was good. Being thrust into an environment of such unfamiliar surroundings was a drastic change in my life. And I didn’t know it at the time…. But it was the best decision of my life. I learned, heartbreak… Failure… Success…. Luck… Fortune…. Death… Misery…. Depression…. Elation…. Both the DARKEST (and I mean PITCH BLACK)  and the happiest time of my life was spent there. And I am thankful for all of it. It made me who I am. 

The way I see it, you gotta roll the dice sometimes and just see what happens. Many of times, my mantra was – “It’s not the best of times… But it’s not the worst of times.” And I was thankful for that. Even now, I think “I’m not where I want to be in life…. But I’m glad that I’m not where I don’t want to be either.”

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” – Thomas Paine

That first step…

“I remained too much inside my head…. And ended up, losing my mind.” – Edgar Allan Poe

So I just got the gym… Like LITERALLY walked out and whilst checking my phone I saw a post from another blog that I follow. Now I know this blogger personally and I remember when she said she wanted to start it. True to form, she followed through and lately she’s been on point with her posts! Yours truly however, has been neglecting his like it’s an unwanted stepchild. This needs to stop! I was recently criticized (constructively) that I don’t follow through with things. Having no argument (which is rare to me) I had to concede. So… Be prepared. I am dedicating myself to get it back up and running. 

I think it’s a fair assessment that we all fall short of the mark most of the times. Problem is, how do you console yourself when it is a mark set FOR you… BY you. Not much to say is there?! I think the problem is that, we tend to look at others and think “Hmmm. That’s impressive. I’d like to do something like that.” – absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, be realistic. THAT person’s life and YOUR life are completely separate. Experiences, time, ability, dedication – very dissimilar. 

Set your own goals and then stick to them. Don’t get deterred by the fact that you have fallen short a few times. So what? You won’t remember but ask your parents – pretty sure you fell down quite a few times before you could stand on your own and eventually take your first steps. Fall down seven times… Get up eight. 

I myself have never been afraid of getting things wrong. I mean, that’s how I eventually get things right. So don’t let your fear be a reason for you not stepping up your game. The way I see it, there are enough things and people in the world waiting to see you fall down – no reason to give them any extra help!

Let your biggest competitor be the person you see in the mirror every morning.

Courage is not the absence of fear… But rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.

                                    – James Neil Hollingworth

The ties that bind…

When a sinister person means to be your enemy, they always start by trying to become your friend. – William Blake

It’s funny how they say “you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends”. Because as us older ones know, eventually… If we’re lucky… Those friends often become just like family one day. So if we can’t choose our family, but then our friends that we choose turn around and end up our family, have we chosen our family, or haven’t we?

You see, I believe that friendship is the most important relationship there is out there. And that’s because it’s the only relationship that we actually choose for ourselves. Parent… Child…. Brother…. Sister…. Cousin…. Uncle… Grandparent… Workmate…. Roommate… Teammate – these are borne out of biology or circumstance. Now, I’m not saying that these relationships aren’t indeed precious and dear to our hearts…. I just mean that they were chosen for us in some form or the other. 

They say if you want to know what a man is like, look at the friends around him. Sounds familiar?Birds of a feather flock together…. Peas in a pod… Dime a dozen… Popular saying to signify oneness, same, relation, brotherhood. So keep your friends close to your heart – they’re usually the ones you call first when it’s broken. But wait – the flip side…

The best stories about enemies are about those whose nemesis was once a trusted friend. They know your strengths, your weaknesses, your history and your heart. There’s that heart again. Getting you into trouble. 

By what measure . . .

You have been weighed… You have been measured… And you have been found wanting.

I remember hearing these words once in a film and I thought – “How do you respond to an insult like that?” Truth be told, there is some truth in those words that we see every day without ever even realising it. 

When we are born, we are new to the world… Fresh, innocent, unsullied. However, even before a name is given, we must be still marked in some way. Our entrance into this world must be noted. What first do they note? – “Baby boy/girl…. 7 pounds, 6 ounces… 19 inches… Birthmark on bottom of third toe on left foot.” In that instance, you have been weighed, you have been measured…. But you are not wanting. No, that comes later. 

We grow up, we go to school, we learn, we are tested, we are either rewarded or punished. As children, that is the task placed upon the shoulders of those whom have been tested before us. The adults whose hands in which our care has been placed. A noble task, important – one which should not be taken lightly, but sometimes is so abused and neglected that it makes me want to cry. Well, actually I want to do something more violent that cry but I have those who depend on me so I maintain my composure. 

We are tested daily in school – every time the bell rings and we have to get to class…. Every time it’s time to hand in your homework, answer that question by raising your hand, that surprise test, end of year exams…. They’re all tests. 

College… Tested!…  Job…. Tested!…  Marriage, kids, mortgage….. TESTED. However, what we sometimes don’t notice is how each one of these situations is preparing us for the biggest test there is…. Life. How do we weigh that? How do we measure that? What determines if we have been found wanting in that regard? Or WHO for that matter?

Who determines the measure of a man? Is it in the wealth that he attains? Or the power that he weilds over other men? Is it the legacy that he leaves behind in his children? – How do you weigh that?

Who determines the measure of a woman? Is it in the amount of children she brings into the world? The way in which she cares for those around her? How she can bring a family together and welcome strangers into her home? Is that it?

Well despite all of my ramblings, I don’t have a clue. To be honest, I don’t know if anyone does. We all may have our way of calculating this but there’s no universal scale for measuring the worth of a person or the contribution they make in this world. So all these tests that we go through and the weight we place on our shoulder, let it go. Don’t strive to meet THEIR goals. Rather instead – meet your own.

Know your heart… Be true to it…

I’m reminded of something I heard in another film (I do this a lot). To be honest, inspiration can be found anywhere. 

Don’t try to be a great man. Just be a man… And let history make its own judgements.

I’m no great man. I’m just a man trying to make his way through this world and all the tests it puts in front of me.

Genesis

Only the mountain stands firm in the face of the storm.

I sit here and life goes on….. I go to bed and life goes on…. I work, I eat, I play, I move on…. And still, life goes on. So what does this mean? 
Does it mean that my function is pointless? Am I just here to go throughout the ticks and the tocks until the day that I see my last changing of the guard? Or is it that my purpose is so profoundly complicated that I can’t even begin to fathom the effect that I have in the world? Nice thought…

However, I rather think that it’s this – who cares? We’re born, we die. We wake, we sleep. And what we do inbetween… That is what matters. You see, when I was younger my life was planned out for me already. Even before I realised it. But then something monumental happened…. I grew up. And in growing up, I realised one life-changing thought…. You have no control in what happens to you. I know, I know. It’s a pretty daunting thought. But think about it for a second….

Now I’m not saying that you don’t have a say. Of course you do. All I’m saying is that you don’t control it. Life is all a matter of circumstance, chance and preparation. 

CIRCUMSTANCE is what we allow to happen… CHANCE is what happens to us…. And PREPARATION determines where we will be when they both come knocking at our door. We can only plan so much but remember, we all have our part to play so play your role well.

Don’t doubt yourself…. Be fearless in all things…. 

As Thomas Jefferson once said – “In matters of style, swim with the current… In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Know yourself, trust yourself but above all things never be afraid to challenge yourself.