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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Daily Dilly-Dally Dance


One thing about retirement is you have a lot of extra time. And for some of us, that is a boon -- and for the slackers among us, it can be anything but.

The Free Dictionary says to dilly-dally is to waste time, especially in indecision; to dawdle or vacillate. But before you jump on the proverbial band-wagon and assume I'm going to protest the idea of procrastination, think again.

Most of our dawdling is done much more inspirationally than that -- with way more creative finesse. Heck, it's practically professional in nature, more insidious and well-planned, honed-to-a-fine-point. Not thought-out in the traditional sense, exactly, more like nearly accidentally thunk-out.

By deferring things in a sneaky, cunning way we get to think we're doing so without anyone -- even ourselves -- knowing. Surreptitiously, with an eye toward self-deception. Looking one way with a part of our brains hoping the other part isn't aware of it ... isn't watching or listening. It's the ultimate in self-trickery.

When I'm in my best state-of-avoidance, I'm really, really good at it. In fact, I'm so good at it that I honestly think I should be paid for such creative off-putting. But if I Google such notions, I never see anybody willing to pay me for this skill. Oh no! They want quick-studies, fast-starters, and those with initiation. Give me a break! Does anybody really know anybody who fits those descriptions -- and if you did, would you hire them? Myself, I want a genuine human being, one with a dubious work record, who's not particularly endowed with any fancy skills, and who isn't living a power verb existence.

Of course, nobody does the dilly-dally dance better than me. When I'm in it -- I shine! I can avoid doing things with the best of them and then go them one better. And I usually do.

But, truth be told, I am human, and there are days when I feel rueful about things and am inclined to beat up on myself. During those moments (some of which stretch into days and weeks), I get sucked into believing silly society's opinion -- that I'm just wasting my time. That I'm no good. That I'm a downright slug.

During such times, the mounds of work piling up frighten me and I am inclined to call a therapist for help. My distracted dizziness lures me into believing I am a bad person, a dysfunctional member of an otherwise functional society. And I find myself toying with the idea that if I could just finish cleaning the house, finish filing those stacks of papers, and complete that next blog, then all will be okay with the world.

But we all know it's not as simple as all that.

Every practical person knows that open windows invite more dust, that behind every pile of un-filed papers another one looms, and that real successful bloggers are the ones who forget that seven entries per week means seven entries per week. And I know what the out-distancers and out-performers are thinking as they read these words; that I'm in denial and nothing more than a wheel-spinner. But I maintain that those fools are the real fools and that in another lifetime they were probably a shillyshallying foot-dragger just like me.

In deference to those valued members of the land (and my courageous little ego), I will now wrap this article up into a tiny, concise ball. And I will do that by quoting the words of Carly Simon. For I'm sure she was referring to the daily dilly-dally dance when she wrote:

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best

And though some may say this ending is too conveniently pithy -- a mere deus ex machina, to them I would like to say:

"Just leave me alone so I can get on with avoiding the next [fill in the blank]!"
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Attracting Grace


For a week now I've been toying with the idea that my early -- and pretty much unexpected -- retirement was really a graceful act bestowed upon me by a loving universe. I say "pretty much unexpected" because this event was something folks were buzzing about in the office for nigh on six to twelve months. I mean, seriously, in this economy, everybody is waiting for the ax to fall. So I expected it ... but didn't. I think you can understand how both points-of-view were realistic. Like death and taxes, you totally expect them; but when the time comes to face each one, there's a good chance you're not going to be one hundred percent ready!

This idea that it was grace and a good thing -- stays with me a good part of the time. Maybe eighty-four point six percent. Then, of course, there are the other times (fifteen point four percent) when ego pokes out its creepy head and leads me into a fear state. The only good thing about my ego these days is that I'm on to it. In fact, I've given it a rude name ... too rude to share here ... and I'm on to its smarmy tricks. The primary trick being trying to convince me that there's actually something of which to be afraid.

Well, there's not.

Let's pause to look at that for a second. From the second our consciousness is made available to us in this world, outside forces compel us to disbelieve what we know to be innately true. And though we're born knowing that we are one with everything (because everywhere is the place we came from); those who supposedly know better do their best to alter that perception.

  • Our parents teach us to excel at all costs -- often in subjects and areas we have little, if any, interest; saying that if we don't, we'll be failures for the rest of our short lives.
  • Religious leaders teach us that we are born sinners and must spend the rest of our lives atoning for that -- unless, of course, we want to burn in hell forever and a day.
  • Madison Avenue tells us that all of our God/dess-given natural functions are aberrant and should be masked with product or removed completely with "medicines".
And those are just the obvious. Every minute of our lives we're bombarded with lies, illusions, and mis-facts about who we are (or who we shouldn't be).

We're too:

  • fat
  • gay
  • loud
  • promiscuous
  • optimistic

We shouldn't be so:

  • negative
  • frugal
  • straight-laced
  • serious
  • cocky

We're instructed to "sit up straight," "eat slowly," and "mind your manners." Boys are told that sports activities define their masculinity, crossing their legs over one another when they sit is something only girls do, and playing with dolls is verboten. Girls, on the other hand, are told to sit "like a lady," take Home Economics class, and plan living the first part of their life learning how to become a happy housewife.

Even in our spiritual lives, we're told that there are mandatory ways to meditate, pray, and make peace with our higher power. The good go to heaven, the bad go to hell, and fundamentally the [fill in your own sect or religion] is the only way to true salvation.

And all these things instill us with a sense of fear -- because if we don't do them or become them, we'll either suffer some horrible consequences or we won't feel complete. And nothing is more all-encompassing than fear. It surrounds us, chokes us, paralyzes us, and ultimately kills us. Our spirit is darkened, our hopes quashed, and the light in our eyes snuffed out.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this mess -- that being enlightenment. Which sounds really scary and complex and unobtainable. However, enlightenment -- or being enLIGHTened -- is as easy as opening your eyes in a darkened room. It's as easy as sitting quietly and listening -- truly listening -- to what the universe has to say to you. Directly to you, without an authority figure or leader in the middle translating or misinterpreting things for you. And it's coming to a place, usually after a great deal of practice, of remembering to know that which you knew when you were first born: That you are one with everything (because everywhere is the place you came from).

Now here is where it can get a little tricky and the place where many folks give up. In order to accept that we are one with everything (e.g. God//dess), we need first to come to a place where we trust that the universe is on our side. And that's not easy because we have to let go of all the layers of illusion that we were taught growing up (see all those lists above). And how do we do that?

Well, fortunately, we're usually forced to face the emptiness of those so-called truths when we are confronted with major, life changing events. Events like a break-up, the death of a loved one, or retirement. Circumstances that strip away the illusions for us -- and show them as the ego-strengthening falsehoods that they are. Events that make us realize that we're carting around other people's beliefs which, for us, really just don't resonate any longer.

So we look for ways to simplify things and to become comfortable with the losses. And somewhere in the middle of all of that -- if we're lucky -- we see that underneath all the BS lives a piece of us, our Inner Self, that really knows what we need to be happy. And that's when, if we're really paying attention, that we come to believe that our Inner Self really is a power greater than our self. We see from that new perspective, that we are the Power and that Power is us.

And then, with that awareness, we come to understand that the grace that offered us the opportunity to grow through the life-changing event to begin with, was actually something we attracted. By praying, by meditating, by doing yoga, and by being attentive as a result of the loss, we opened ourselves up to appreciating life and expecting good things to happen.

And for me, that is the most grace-full thing that has happened to me in this early retirement. And that's just today. I can't wait to see what good things -- what graceful things -- are in store for me just around the bend called tomorrow.
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