Most of the time I am hopeful. Most of the time I am optimistic. Sometimes, however, things seem a little bleak. We all get that way at times.
Usually, when I notice a little apathy, I pause. When I feel just a little agitated, I wait for the next emotion. What I do not do, is keep a scorecard. I choose to focus on the good and let the negative slip by.
Whatever this blog has become, it has always been, a collection of stories. Stories that have meaning to me. Stories that are told in hopes that, somehow, one or two people may be helped in some small way. The basic premise is that people need a little break.
People need times of rest. Hence the name, Resting Times. The original tag line was, “thoughts from quieter places”. These stories are written after reflection and with some degree of intent.
While I do not go over sad songs, unfair dealings, or the moans and groans of a life full of ups and downs, this collection will include some events that are not pleasant. Some real events, that if viewed apart from all of the goodness in the world, would seem tragic.
What follows is real. What follows are truth. The meaning is not even for me to decide. The hope is that it helps.
When I graduated college, I still had an interest in reading. Mostly in knowing, but this was before YouTube and social media. I picked up a book by Mahatma Gandhi. It was an autobiography titled, “My Experiments With Truth”. So much of what I read was forgotten. So much of what I read was hidden in my heart.
Afterwards, I decided to eat a vegetarian diet for a year. My experiment with truth. I had always poured over the words of Jesus and had non-violent speech, but this account was more modern. I had read some Martin and Malcom X, and had struggled with what social justice meant at the time, but Gandhi resonated with me.
Soon after, in the parking lot of a church, a young man that was irritated with me during a basketball game, and slammed his fist into my face. I smiled. I got in my car. When a policeman asked me afterwards in a hospital if I wanted to press charges, I declined.
Later in life, another policeman wanted me to come with him before I was finished with a phone call. He knocked the phone out of my hand and my response was to sit down passively. What resulted was the sting of pepper spray in my eyes, handcuffs, and being kicked down the stairs of my parent’s front porch. I was not arrested, nor did I file a complaint.
When a frustrated customer charged me in the office of a car wash, I backed away. When he pushed me backwards with the steel door that separated us, I smiled and asked him to leave. He did. I spoke of peace to an assistant manager that witnessed the entire event.
Pacifism, non-violence, and peace, are what I strive to be. No, I am not always good at these, but they are goals. When we have goals, some people like to pick us apart because it takes their minds off of what creates the disturbance in their world. We can meet them with peace also.
Then there is this even. While driving around Nashville, Tennessee, during an International Car Wash event, I met another driver. We were on a one way street. My car was pointed in the correct direction, his car was facing me. If you know anything about the car wash industry, it is that it is full of testosterone, ego, and competition. Not my cup of tea, but I can play the role if it is necessary.
One of my passengers was on the phone. There was no offer of advice from my friend and colleague in the back seat. I made a decision. I put my car in reverse and moved my vehicle far enough for the other driver to move forward and find an outlet. He expressed no offer of gratitude, and in fact, he was visibly upset and being kind of a turd before I backed up the car.
I smiled. I went on my way. We (those in my car) did not speak much about the incident.
My point is simple. I have collected these experiences, but I do not often relive them by the telling of their tales. At no point were these acts apathy, and at no point did I feel as if I was not in control. To respond, rather than to react, is real power. And, eventually we have to respond.
And I remember the Mahatma. Most of the time. And I remember the words of the Christ. Most of the time. And, most of the time, I do what I do with a higher purpose than serving only myself.
I am sharing these stories, only to get a seat at the table of your mind, where ideas are considered. I have done my share of the walking of the talking.
If you want to know just how weird I am, here is another story. When I am stressed out. When I am at my wits end with what I perceive as lunacy. I imagine myself in a cave under Victoria Falls in Zambia, around a campfire, with the greats. Jesus, Gandhi, the Buddha, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, and a host of others, going over the troubles of the day.
Every trouble mentioned, ends up in laughter, knowing smiles, and sighs of wonder. We smoke cigarettes. We tell jokes. And, we know somehow that nothing is so important that it should steal our joy.
If you think this heresy, insanity, or bizarre, I can direct you to several authors who would encourage such activity.
This world is on fire right now. There are so many good things and there are real problems. We have fewer leaders and more “influencers”. We have people that want to change, but unlike Gandhi, do not want to be that change. Malcom X and Martin are screen printed on $10 t-shirts and carried around as a license for destruction. And Jesus, what about Jesus. His words are twisted like every branch on a crooked tree.
Do not be “woke”. Do not be anything.
Stay grounded in your heart. Affect change where you can. Tell the good stories. Believe in yourself and in your brothers and sisters from every corner of our mind and world.
Your opinion is not required. Your love is. It is not your position that is on trial, it is your action that matters. Your mind, when focused on goodness, in the midst of everyone complaining while doing little, will make all the difference in this and other worlds.
You may be unable to do this all of the time. Just be the light and help others do the same. Share love and kindness. Shine.
Most of the time.
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