How many times will you try?


What do you think?  “How many times should you try?”  These inspiring examples of people believing in their ideas, skills, and talents are incredibly inspirational. 1500 times to launch Rocky?  Amazing.  1500 times.  Which of my projects do I believe to be so perfect or so inspirational that I am willing to subject my idea to 1499 rejections?  That is a lot of Belief.

So, the question is: How many times should you try?  What project or dream or invention or book or screenplay or song or practice or blog or . . . are you committed to launching?  How many times should you try?  Will you try?

Should is a loaded word in these days of intentional and mindful living.  Google’s “define:should” gives this definition: “used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.”  Obligation.  Duty.  Correctness.  Criticism.  No wonder many of us bristle when we encounter the word should.   I should do this.  I should have done that.  I should take care of this.  I should be nicer to him.  To her.  To me.   I should have worked harder.  Run harder.  Played harder.  I should be better at that.  This list is endless.  All of the many shoulds.

Coincidence-FateI ask myself: What are some of my common shoulds?  I sometimes think that I am too hard on myself.  And there are those times when I am too quick to step aside and let fate and coincidence charge into each other.

When this happens, I wonder why I seem to take myself out of my own life’s equation — only to later banish myself to the Realm of Should.  I shouldn’t have said that.  I should have stayed home.  I should have been more aware.  I shouldn’t have danced like such a dork.  I should have been more supportive.  I should have been a better self-advocate.  I should have given a hug to that stranger who was crying in the frozen-food section of the grocery story.  I should have been more gracious, kind, loving.   I should have been tougher and just said what needed to be said.

I should have just said it . . . all of these shoulds.  No wonder I find that I am too hard on myself.

Surely, life is not entirely left to coincidence and fate.  I have a part in this passion play, and it is my role to navigate past the shoulds that present themselves to me as I shift should into will.  I remember when I was going through a tough time of either-or in my life — one of those definitive crossroad moments — and my brother was encouraging me to shift into a new change.  I was balking and reciting the many excuses as to why I could not do anything to create something more positive in my life.  I remember my brother’s question to me: “Can’t?  Or won’t?”

Can’t?  Or won’t?  Should?  Or will?  The lyrics from an Indigo Girls song have been running through my mind as I have been writing this morning:

“There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.”

The closer I am to fine, the more likely I am to be more flexible.  More fluid.  More willing to be in flow-mode.  There truly is more than one answer to the many questions that present.  And a crooked line is sometimes to be expected.

gratitude-rainbowspiral1Life has its many many blessings that are all around me.  When I experience an active awareness of this, I feel my spirit bumping some of the ever-present shoulds into a different position, allowing me to enter that magical bubble of grace, easing me into an easier space.

This is one of life’s anointed experiences that is rarely stored in the memory for later recall during some of the more challenging times.  And like the Biblical manna, this sort of moment is supplied miraculously on a daily basis.  It is up to me to harvest it, to enjoy it, and to not try to store it or hoard it.  It is a single moment to be released into and from my life.  One at a time, preferably without an army of shoulds marching at the head of the procession.

In life, we are blessed when we can experience true sweetness.  At the risk of sounding pessimistic, this can be quite rare.  How many times will I try to not only acknowledge but to return this sweetness?  Over and over.  Like Thomas Edison and his 10,000 tries to invent the light bulb, I will.  toaster oven






The Forest of Symbols

I love spending time on my back deck in the summertime.  Love it.  It has grown to be the sanctuary that I have always longed to create.  This makes me feel immeasurably happy.  Trees, starshine, relative quiet, begonias and ivy spilling out of pots.  Dinner served on oddball china accompanied by a glass of wine and excellent company in the day’s gloaming.  These things create a balance within.  I value it very much.

Beneath my deck is a fairly sharp drop-off into the ravine below.  At the foot of the ravine is a creek.  Although I cannot see the creek from my house, I can hear it burbling in the summer and rushing in the spring.

There are two maple trees that grow almost directly beneath my deck.  They arc out and away to clear the overhang of the deck, and they then bump right up against the railing in their quest for sunlight.

There is dense forest to the east so the sunrise is diffused and scanty.  To the west?  The house stands.  To the north and south?  My neighbors.  The sunlight?  A tight arc overhead.  Sunlight is a rare and divine commodity.  And these amazingly resilient maple trees keep overtaking all sun rights.

I dutifully trim each tree back each summer, so that I can maintain one roving and solitary sun spot on my deck at high noon.  I used to feel a distinct unease in my stomach when I trimmed these trees back.  They work so hard.  I look down at their beginnings . . . their roots . . . tucked beneath the deck, and I marvel.  These trees maintain an impressive will to survive.  I honor this and want it to be duly recognized.

Still . . . the sunshine is such a rare thing in the midst of the forest . . .

Survival.  Such a strong word . . . the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances (“Google define:”)  Thinking about struggling tree seedlings in the dark underbelly of my deck could be considered to be difficult circumstances.  And lest I go too far and appear to be anthropomorphising a maple tree . . . I do acknowledge that what may seem dark and uninviting to me might pose as ideal growing conditions for a maple seedling.  It’s possible.

Still, the sunlight.  There is always the need for that.

Coincidence-FateAn accident?  I am not so sure about the word accident.  An accident poses so many debatable thoughts concerning its reality.  Do you believe in coincidence?  I do.  And I don’t.  I prefer to think in terms of “natural order” . . . that I am following a natural order that is designed as a result of the deliberate and spontaneous choices that I make.   I do somewhat embrace the notion of fate or destiny; still, I do believe that we are all capable of steering our lives into states of “coincidence” that override all of the imaginings that we could and can concoct.

Coincidence.  One never knows when a Miracle is going to line up ahead of you and then turn around and say hello.  toaster oven

Robert Moss in his awesome book The Three “Only” Things writes about coincidence.  Moss writes:

“Everything that enters our field of perception means something, large or small. Everything speaks to us, if we will take off our headphones and hear a different sound track. Everything corresponds. We travel better in the forest of symbols when we are open and available to all the forms of meaning that are watching and waiting for us.”
Robert Moss, The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence, and Imagination

“The forest of symbols”:  lovelovelove this.  The vastly precocious meaning of these symbols.

The summer when I was reading Moss’ book . . . Wow!  But was I paying attention!  To the largest and smallest of things.  Dragonflies performing a skittering and buzzing ballet against a blue sky.  Scratched up pennies on the sidewalk.  Cloud patterns.  Bottle caps in the gutters.  Bees dancing around blossoms.  A message scrawled across the back of a coaster in a bar.  A Lego man forgotten in the grass after a foot-stomping outdoor concert.  All of these crazy and amazing symbols were presenting themselves from all angles of the forest.  I was listening, watching, thinking, wondering, journaling, creating.

I remember this summer like no other.  Why?  I was paying attention.  I honored coincidence as the harbinger of amazinglifeforce.  The stories I created in my journaling that summer were quite fanciful actually.  I saw all of these symbols as positive omens for an ultimate outcome that would be blissful.  And happy.  And rewarding.  It felt so great.

I see now that “the forest of symbols” were there for everyone else to see, too.  It was how I was perceiving these things that proved unique to me . . . to what it was that I believed would make for a fulfilling life.  I was seeking an apex to my compilation of coincidence.  I wanted to believe that seeing 4 people walk past me within half an hour and all wearing orange t-shirts meant something.  Pay no mind to the fact that there was road work being conducted on the street above my point of musing.  Those 4 orange t-shirts were all  harbingers of good things to come.  I was paying attention.

happinessI know why I loved that summer.  It was because I allowed myself the trajectory of fancy that dreaming allows.  My journaling put my thoughts of positivity onto tangible pieces of paper in a now-dog-eared spiral notebook.  I glanced through this journal just this past weekend.  It is written in a curious code that can only be understood by me.  I continue to maintain contact with the dreamer within who wrote all of those optimistic thoughts.  I was going somewhere that summer.  I just didn’t know where or when.  But I knew why.  I wanted to find a perfect center of bliss in my life.

I digress.  Those two maple trees.  Sun survival.  I generally allow them to grow 6 feet or so above the railing — which doesn’t take long. The loppers come out of obscurity and then my sun spot returns to me — my small roving spotlight of vitamin D.  Last weekend I gave each tree a haircut at slightly above deck-railing height, knowing that we both want to grow in the same spot.

I am a careful pruner.  I went online and read up on best practices for tree pruning.  I mean no harm and intend no long-lasting damage.  I honor the growth and the spirit in these trees that some folk in this part of the world regard as “weed trees.”  These trees remind me to pay attention.  Sunlight can be lost, but it can be regained.  The planet keeps spinning and we — the trees and I — keep growing and stretching for more.  We attain.  We share space and light.

I love my back deck.  This summer, the rewards of all of that positivity from several summers ago have come to fruition.  I was a believer when I was spinning my “coincidental” symbols into pure sweetness.  And light.

“Everything . . . means something . . . everything speaks to us  . . . everything corresponds . . .”  I hold this thought as I sit here on the back deck and tap away on the keyboard.  I remain ever “open and available to all the forms of meaning that are watching and waiting for [me].”  I am paying attention.