Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Really Big Small Thing

On May 8th, Spencer Silver died at the age of 80. His death did not get much notice or attention at the time, a shame considering his important contribution to societal progress. Whatever successes I may have had in my professional and/or personal life, some portion of credit must be attributed to the revolutionary tool he made available equally to us all.

Spencer Silver was the 3-M product developer who created the Post-It Notes. Those little yellow 3” x 3” square pads ubiquitously scattered about in home and office. The special sticky glue on one side allowed them to be posted virtually anywhere, on anything, moved around or removed at will. Upon them has been written the major building blocks of “things to be done” and “information to remember” that has kept America undeniably running more smoothly. No high-tech equipment are required when your pen and Post-Its are immediately handy on nearby countertops and desks.

In my own case, as a strategic planner, they made possible the easy collection of group brainstorming ideas, little visions of the future captured in 3-5 words sharable with others. As a project planner, individual project requirements and milestones could be easily identified, and scrambled and sorted into variable options for consideration. The home “to do” list covering all sorts of tasks-to-do are conveniently noted at the moment of realization, then efficiently transported to the appropriate wall, mirror or desk most appropriate to any household member you feel needs “reminding.” Highly important is their use as a sleep aid – those minutes (seemingly hours) you toss and turn in bed thinking about some “critical” idea, or brainstorming a needed solution, or drafting a document to be written (e.g. a blog essay), all in dialog with your over-stimulated mind in lieu of sleep. Finally, you get up, grab your pen and Post-It pad on your nightstand, and write down those key words that assure you that your ideas will not be forgotten come the rude awakening of morning. Nervous energy turns into calm sleep at last.

For these and many other examples, we owe a debt to a guy by the name of Spencer Silver. It is human nature to want to save the world, change the difficult life conditions of humanity, accomplish “big ideas” for the sake of future generations. Yet, in its own way, the Post-It note reminds us that sometimes it is the small idea, the single step forward, that just helps us along a little more easily. It is someone – typically unnamed – who benefits us by sharing a moment of their inherent creativity. We should remember that it is often the accumulated little steps we take that make the big ones possible, so it behooves us to notice and acknowledge such contributions and acts of kindness as we come across them.

For that reminder, we thank you Spencer Silver. And I now consign to the paper recycle box the Post-It note written weeks ago reminding me to write this statement. Task done.

©   2021          Randy Bell                  https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Family History And Heritage

In the mid-1980s, I was infected with the genealogy bug. I had a desire to know more about my family history: who I came from; who those people were; how their life unfolded; how I resulted from their journey. I began by following the traditional route of family history researchers. First, we identify the cast of characters by name in our ancestral pool, both direct ancestors and their siblings and descendants. Next comes the basic, dry facts of them: dates (birth, marriage, death); their relationship to us. Then their geography (where did they happen; what were their movements). We interview extended family members for their recollections, oral histories, and perhaps personal documentation. We search the public records in federal / state / local archives: census reports for each decade; wartime service records; business directories; newspaper articles: state and local bureaus of official records. We search the ancestry data resources available.

The stories in the history books find a place on our desk. When we begin to connect the stories and events and dates within the school textbooks to our emerging genealogical landscape, our accumulated names gradually come alive as “real people.” People who were part of the historical story; historical stories that were lived by the people. Over time, our own life begins to expand. Expands beyond one’s usual day-to-day existence, our usual focus on ourselves as the center of the Universe. Connection with our ancestors helps us share connection and space with our contemporary companions.

Each step, each contact, in the genealogical journey yields more pieces to the ancestral puzzle, yet also another research step to be undertaken. Until a trail runs cold, and the next ancestor in the line disappears, apparently lost into time. At which time we start down a new trail and repeat the process. For all its time demands and inevitable frustrations, it is a highly rewarding journey. If you are a White American. Preferably of Western European descent.

If you are an African-American setting out on a genealogy journey, you will likely travel a very different trip than the one described above. Many of the above resources and official records created between 1900 and the present would be available, whether one’s ancestors came to America post-1900 or before. But “story information” could be harder to come by, given how much Black history in the 20th Century has been buried and under-reported until fairly recently.  If you had ancestors in America during the post-Civil War / Reconstruction / 1865-1900 period, resources and information could be a mixed picture. Black Americans were just beginning to be “officially” recognized as individuals in the Census recordings, the Vital Statistics records, school records, etc., but it would be very hit-and-miss depending on one’s individual situation within the Jim Crow racial segregation and  oppression framework.

But it is the Civil War that rings down the genealogical curtain, hiding an unseen civilization behind its silence, a curtain rarely raised except for perhaps a quick peek. In the 245 years that Black America was also slavery America, Black Americans were treated as non-human beings. There were no birth certificates. If given a name, it would be one determined by the slave owner. Death was routinely burial in a mass, unmarked grave, its occupants identified by no headstones. If recorded in one of the census listings, a slave could be noted as simply one of a number – e.g. “6 slaves,” individually unidentified, familial relationships unstated, perhaps even with a dollar value assigned. Further, our Constitution directed that slaves be only counted as “3/5 of a person” for government representation. In short, slaves were legally considered on the same par as farm livestock, sold and bought at public auction, “property” literally chained to their owner, their existence found (if at all) only in commercial records, not government recordkeeping. These antebellum Black Americans may have been highly visible in the flesh given their numbers, but the acknowledgment and substantiation of their existence was invisible, lost to time. They are known only in the collective, except perhaps the few “family oral histories” that have survived.

“Heritage” is the accumulated stories of our ancestors reflecting their times and events. Stories often only partially true, historical snippets that selectively pick out the “good stuff” while ignoring uncomfortable omissions. But that is intellectually and ethically dishonest: we have to take the good together with the bad before we can properly claim “our heritage.” They are also stories handed down over potentially long periods of time, increasingly impassioned with each tick of the clock.

There is much talk these days about “our heritage,” and the need to preserve and defend it from supposed attack (e.g. the “cancel culture” movement). The first problem with this call to arms is that most people cannot define what their heritage is. At best, we get those romanticized ideas that quickly come to one’s mind. The second problem is, whose heritage are we referencing? White southern history; Black southern history; New England history; Southwestern frontier history? Asian- / Italian- / Scottish- / Middle East-American history? Each person, each group, has a unique heritage story. These stories, collectively and interwoven, form America’s collective and complete heritage. Which is why, when we talk about our own personal heritage, we are obligated to remember that our personal heritage is not everyone’s heritage. My story includes soldiers on both the North and South side of the Civil War. So whom do I honor? What is my heritage? Black heritage is not my personal heritage, but my personal heritage interacts with Black heritage to create America’s heritage.

Can it be that the outcry we hear today about “protecting our heritage” is not from the fear of potential loss? Rather, could it be the growing pains of our national heritage expanding to include our many heritages trying to live together? What I feel confident in saying is that there is no White American who has an ancestor that was bought, chained, sold, forcibly separated from family, and lived an undocumented life with no legal rights as a free human being, and no safety protection from the State. My heritage is not your heritage. But they are our shared heritage.

©   2021  Randy Bell              https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Advice Regarding Advice

Advice. People have been giving and receiving advice ever since the first human beings arose on this earth. There are people more than willing to offer their opinions on a host of topics regarding what one should think and do, and others more than happy to receive said opinions. They can be opinions on major life decisions, or a simple task now in process over the next five minutes, and everything in between.

Structurally, there are two sources of advice available to us: “Institutional Advice,” and “Individual Advice.” Institutional Advice comes from three principal providers: Government, though its constitutions, laws and regulations; Religion/Church, through its formal dogma, rituals, and sacred writings; and Culture/Society, through its codes of acceptable conduct within one’s group. We may not think of these institutions as true “advice givers,” but rather as the necessary and acceptable mechanisms for holding group societies together. But given that – for better or worse – humans can accept or deny these various institutional rules, and decide whether to follow them or not regardless of any societal punishments, then realistically all of these institutional expectations are ultimately simply advice from which we make our life choices.

Then there are the more familiar Individual Advice Givers. They are the friends, family, sometimes even strangers who give us their perspective on some issue or activity with which we are engaged. The fundamental goal is to help the Advice Receiver find from within him-/herself the solutions and decisions appropriate to him/her; it is all about Self-discovery. When done well and with purity of intention, such advice can be very helpful to us as we plod our way through our daily lives. For the Advice Giver, it can be personally satisfying that one’s experiences and opinions have some value worth sharing, and satisfying to know that one has been helpful to another human being. For the Advice Receiver, the ability to share one’s burdens, and having the benefit of wider experiences from which to draw, can ease the burden of one’s personal decision-making. But when done poorly and with impurity of intention by either party, advice can make our already complicated and difficult life even more problematic; a potential gift from the emergence of one’s latent creativity may be forever lost. There are four key scenarios that disrupt well-intentioned and effective giving and receiving of advice, and can in fact create personal friction in the relationship between Giver and Receiver.

1. Receiver: “What would you do [in this situation or problem]?” What I would do if facing your challenges is speculation on my part, because I am not actually facing your very real challenges in your very real circumstances. So my imagined solutions would be theoretical at best. My desired outcomes are not necessarily appropriate to your aspirations. The real question is, what are you trying to accomplish? What I think I might do is irrelevant to your decision-making, other than perhaps illustrating some options that you might consider for yourself.

2. Receiver: “What would you do if you were me?” or Giver: “If I were you I would …”: I am not you. My life experiences, goals, priorities, and circumstances are different than yours. My current situation may have similarities with yours, but overall our lives are significantly different. Without strong restraint, I will wind up describing what I would do for ME, not you. The best I can do in this scenario is to surround my reply with full disclosure of how I reached that conclusion for me. Thereby, you can determine whether my decision considerations and objectives have any relevance to your aspirations and concerns.

3. Receiver: “What should I do?” I do not know. I cannot possibly know. What I do know is that this question turns the conversation on its head. It effectively allows the Receiver to surrender control and responsibility for making his/her own personal decisions. We each have to make our own call in response to the challenges we encounter. We each need to take advantage of the opportunities for personal growth, maturity, and learning that come with making and assessing our decisions. As tempting as it may be in the moment, those opportunities are lost when the Receiver avoids the decision and leaves it to others to determine instead.

4. Giver: “You should ...” The two killer words in any advice discussion. Nothing of real value comes from any words that follow after. The Giver has moved from a position of “helper” to one of control, of dominance over the Receiver. In turn, the Receiver has moved either into a position of subservience towards “going along with the should,” or defensiveness in order to retain the integrity of his/her Self. This is no longer a conversation, but a lecture. It is not to be mistaken for advice, but rather a treat for the ego of the Giver.

There is one check that is helpful to measure whether our intention as an Advice Giver is in its proper place. When we give advice, it is critically important that we detach ourselves from the advice itself. That we retain no sense of expectation or judgment as to whether the Receiver takes our advice or not. We were asked for our thoughts and opinion. We gave same. If we take personally the Receiver’s ultimate decision, and are miffed if s/he goes another direction, then we know that we actually attempted to make the conversation about us, not the Receiver. The goal was for us to be humbly helpful to another in their struggle by finding where their heart and mind are leading them. It was not supposed to be about our own wonderfulness, the superiority of our knowledge and supposed wisdom, and our life instead of theirs.

Which brings us to the final overriding and cautionary axiom for Advice Givers: THE WORST ADVICE THERE IS, IS UNSOLICITED ADVICE. Advice giving is a response function, not a self-initiated function. Sometimes the best advice is to say nothing at all, but to just listen; minding our own business can often be the best advice we can offer. Often, what people really want is just to be heard. If our egos really call us to offer advice not requested, then we would do well to at least first ask the permission of the Receiver as to whether s/he wants it.

This is my unsolicited Advice Regarding Advice.

(With thanks to a special meditation group for stimulating this essay.)

©    2021   Randy Bell                        https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

A Time For Thanks

 It has been a while – too long a while – since I posted an essay on this spiritual blog. Like many others, my attention this year has been on the many difficult social/ political/health events occurring all around me, threatening many things that I hold dear and special. It has been an exhausting and emotionally draining time. Now, as some of these currents began to slowly ebb, it is a time to begin to restore and rebalance ourselves for what lies ahead, even as that “ahead” may continue to be vague and ill-defined. We have much work to do in order to heal the pains and divisions that have so consumed our society these past several years, a task that can seem overwhelming. But we must try. We must re-find our sense of confidence, our trust in one another, our belief in our spiritual drive towards “betterment” and “can do” that has always driven us. Perhaps, in spite of the many negative feelings we may have accumulated of late, a new beginning can start with recognizing and expressing our thanks to some of those people – our neighbors – who have voluntarily stepped up to the plate at a time when most needed.

So we give thanks to the health care workers, working overtime on the front lines of a seemingly unstoppable killer virus, fighting to save the sick and afflicted. In hospitals, make-shift medical tents, nursing homes, manning long lines at drive-through testing centers. Doctors, nurses, maintenance and support staff, EMT/emergency personnel, working together with too often inadequate supports from government and industry. Constantly facing too large a swath of the public that disavows the danger (“a hoax”) of Covid-19 and flagrantly refuses to cooperate with preventive measures – until they wind up in the care of those exhausted health workers. Health workers burnt out from having turned the switch on life-sustaining machinery to “OFF” too many times, working among the over-extended, often make-shift ICU beds. We thank them.

So we give thanks to the families of the sick, separated from their loved ones, unable to hold their hands or say words of comfort to them as their breaths of life slide slowly away. Loved ones taken too soon, too unexpectedly. Leaving behind torn and devastated families searching for some understandable reason that they can wrap their arms around – all the while working to hold the family together as it moves forward to its new future. We thank those families for their examples of resilience and courage.

So we give thanks to the parents of all our young children as they try to adapt their lives – and their children’s lives – to a constantly changing environment. Schools open / semi-open / closed / doing remote learning. Parents providing ad hoc make-shift home care, while trying to maintain careers and/or functioning in new “home workplaces.” We thank these parents as they endure the many strains of parenthood within love, each day finding new ways to “figure it out,” within circumstances never envisioned.

So we give thanks to teachers and educational staff who are continually adapting to new programs, new rules, new methodologies, new schedules for teaching America’s children – children who are also part of the “teachers’ children.” The commitment of these teachers to support their students – both intellectually and emotionally – through their extraordinary efforts represents the best of their profession. We thank these teachers for their devotion to the littlest among us.

So we give thanks to those who may be threatened with, or are currently, out of work, and the owners of small businesses unable to stay open. They are our neighbors who spend each day in worry as they make constant decisions about where the food will come from, how needed medical care will be obtained, whether they may become homeless. And on the behalf those people, we give thanks for the many volunteers manning the food banks and thrift stores, and people raising funds or creating special programs of support. We thank those people donating money or goods to help these many others in need.

So we give thanks to the many election staff and volunteer poll workers who showed up to ensure that our democracy held together in spite of the health crisis. To accommodate record-setting voter numbers, processes were created ad hoc as needed. In spite of threats of violence at the polls, and overt political pressures and attempted anti-voting antics by those who should know better, there was no violence. There was no fraud. There were just people committed to exercising their right to vote and run their own country. We thank both voters and poll workers.

So we give thanks to those public officials and government service workers who, in a time when public responsibility and the Constitutional rule of law have teetered on the brink of collapse, have stood up and reasserted their oath of office. We recognize that, for many, such “standing up” has been injurious to their financial well-being and/or reputation. We thank them for their courage to act nonetheless, and for thereby inspiring us to act accordingly.

So we give thanks to the genuine “essential workers,” those many often-invisible people whose work allows the rest of us to do what we do, to live the life of “new normalcy” that we are experiencing. The farmers, grocery workers, food workers, sanitation workers, gas station providers, bank/ATM personnel, pharmacists, home repairers, and countless under-appreciated others who are keeping our society running while we sort this all out. We thank them all for their unheralded contributions.

Certainly we feel these desperate times all too acutely, tired and frustrated by its seeming insolvability and interminableness. But at this year’s Thanksgiving dinner table, regardless of the empty chairs and smaller numbers, we would do well to remember and acknowledge those to whom our thanks are due. Those original Pilgrims feasted not because times were great. They feasted because they had faced hardship and had come through it, scathed but survived. Having faith in each other, and the confidence in the always inevitable greatest good, we will do the same.

As has been said, the sun is a ways shining, even when it hides behind the clouds.  It is on us to have the steadiness and patience to wait for our time when the clouds will inevitably clear.

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Monday, June 8, 2020

Our Family Stories

Around 30 years ago, I decided to take up the adventure of tracing my family history. As others have found, this exercise can be a far-reaching, ever-expanding, near-consuming endeavor; a descent into a series of black holes and dead-end brick walls as one continually opens new doors of never-ending inquiry. But it is also one of the highly rewarding things we can do in our lifetime, to see ourselves placed within the context of many others.

There are three levels of discovery that come from family research. The first level is the basic facts of one’s family: names, birth and death dates, places; the vertical and horizontal relationships and entanglements among each other. The second level is learning their individual stories: how they lived, what transpired, what journeys they traveled. The third level is placing the experiences of their lives within the larger historical context occurring around them, sweeping them up, molding and guiding their lives beyond what may have been their choice.

Currently, over 1200 unique names make up my genealogical family of the last 400 hundred years, with varying levels of detail known about their lives. As I occasionally reflect on their lives and times in relation to my life and time, several themes arise.

To my knowledge, not one member of my genealogical family was ever lynched in a vigilante hanging, or burned alive tied to a tree while an “audience” applauded. Not one person was ever the property of another, committed to a lifetime of unpaid service with no say in the matter. Since the founding of America, not one man – and since 1920 not one woman – has been openly denied the right to vote or run for office based on their skin color, country of origin, educational level or wealth. Since the late 1800s, all were entitled to a basic and equal education paid for at public expense. All of the men could choose to serve their country in the military and advance through rank based upon their service and abilities; my great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War to create a united America; my great-great-grandfather fought in the Confederate Army to try to break the country into two parts; both of their stories are a part of me. Some of my genealogical family were discriminated against in their jobs/careers due to their national origin, but over time they gradually broke through those barriers. My genealogical family was free to travel the country, settle where they chose, live in any section of town they could afford. When they encountered law enforcement officials or the judicial court system, they intuitively presumed they would be treated fairly and respectfully, with equal process as given to all others; generally their intuition was not disappointed. My father never felt the need to give me special instructions on how to act if I was stopped by the police. These are some of my family stories, experiences and cultural heritage. They are most certainly not everyone’s stories.

As I moved into adulthood, the life expectations I took for granted were not necessarily the expectations others could take for granted. Doors of opportunity were opened for me all my life if I demonstrated competency; others had doors slammed shut even before getting the chance to show their skills and talents. The three pillars of access, education, and resources helped me “get ahead” in the world; the absence of these have been barriers to a better life for many. I left my hometown and its high school with generally good memories, and the confidence that I was well-prepared to take on whatever life adventure I would choose. I am doubtful that my contemporaneous Black graduates at the segregated Lincoln High School – which sat next to their limited and restricted housing enclave across town – had comparable memories, or felt the same preparation and opportunities for their dreams of their upcoming life.

Family histories are more than just names and dates. They are the times families lived in and were affected by. They are stories long told, of good times and bad times and sometimes horrific times, handed down and reinforced over generations and centuries, even if now in just fragments of memories. Stories that continue to permeate the thinking, expectations, and instinctive reactions of persons today. Too often we judge others based upon our own life experiences, which likely bear little resemblance to the experiences of others – experiences we know little or nothing about. We all live in a bubble of our own family experience, and our bubbles are not the same. Yet when we take the time to puncture these bubbles, we can find a common core that can be shared.

We know so little, have such a superficial knowledge, of each other. Yet it only requires some time and sincere effort on our part to really listen to one another. To hear the Family Stories that have shaped who we are. To assume someone has lived a different life than ours, and thereby has naturally arrived at different conclusions. To break out of our insulating, protective bubble. It is only through such listening that we can find the unity of our humanity. Why do we make acceptance of each other, respect for each other, friendship with each other, so hard?

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Monday, March 30, 2020

An Afternoon Walk

I just got home from a short walk in my neighborhood on this last Saturday in March 2020. Such a walk has not generally been a part of my daily routine. But with Covid-19 keeping everyone home, and my regular gym at the nearby YMCA closed due to the shutdown, it seems like a reasonable temporary substitute for daily exercise. It is not a long walk due to my physical limitations. But it provides a challenge to be accomplished, a beneficial movement of the body, and makes the chocolate chip cookie reward at the end even more satisfying.

On this particular day, we are experiencing a summer day preview: sunny, in the mid-80s, expected to last for a couple of days more. Then it will be back into the normal mid-50s/60s mountain temperatures, with more rain. It was a very mild winter, but I am still glad to have that season behind us.

We are preparing for a statewide “stay at home” order on Monday 5pm, though we are already in a county/city version of the same. During this walk I was struck by the abnormal silence of the city. Minimal traffic on the roads, a few people out for a walk or jog, keeping a safe distance as they pass one another. Meanwhile, the sights and sounds of the birds are more than happy to fill the air space. The garden plants are gradually peeking out to fill the eye space, perhaps dwarfed by the cascade of colors from the rainbow of fruit trees that make their appearance at this time. There is much to see and hear that is normally missed in our hurried busyness. Humanity thrashes around in its self-made chaos; Nature follows its own timeline and routines relatively undisturbed.

In the quiet of that stroll, there is time and space to think. To listen to my thoughts – thoughts different than those that arise during a formal mediation sit on the cushion. The pandemic virus seeks to consume much of our thinking time and energy. I feel the unavoidable concern about my own well-being, yet offset by a calm that says “do only what you can do when you can” – deal with what comes as it comes. Planning is good, but too many “what ifs” are not helpful.

I am aware of feeling intense anger at the erratic conduct of our President, his pettiness and complete avoidance of taking responsibility for anything. His untrue information. His lack of a cogent and coordinated plan. His ineffectiveness in directing badly needed resources and support to where it is needed most. But then that anger is replaced by a calmness and pride when I consider all the people stepping up – either in their official capacity or simply ad hoc, voluntary  responses. Governors, mayors, county/city officials, health care providers, CDC scientists speaking truth. Public service employees keeping our infrastructure running. Law enforcement officials, and numerous first responders. Meanwhile, the overriding priority is to remember the anonymous sick, the faceless statistics often known only to their family and loved ones, lying alone in their bed, in pain and trying to stay alive, accompanied only by the medical workers trying to keep them alive in the face of too many falsely-raised hopes and broken promises. The lament continues unendingly: where are the test kits, the masks, the ventilators?

We also need to acknowledge the everyday citizens responding to what is being asked of them. Voluntarily cooperating in what is a massive upheaval to their lives – emotionally, economically, professionally, socially, and daily family life. Most are improvising, making it up as they go into a future filled with blind spots. Doing what needs to be done, adapting on the fly, all because they care. Care about each other. Care about their connection to others. And thereby, their responsibilities to each other. Individually and together, they make us proud.

I have written before about our connection to one another, most recently an essay on this blogsite “A Slice Of Toast” (12/10/2019). Across the globe, for the last several years we have been experiencing a drive to separate ourselves from one another. To hunker down in our own cultural and geographic pockets and keep out those who are not like us. When this pandemic virus finally passes – which it ultimately will – things will not be the same. There will be much retrospective analysis needed, questions to ask, lessons to learn.

One of those biggest lessons will most certainly be a reaffirmation of our connection, our interdependence to one another. Indeed, our connection to all forms of life, and the gift of Nature that makes it all possible. Covid-19 knows no borders. Differentiates no race or ethnic group. Endorses no religion. Ignores variations of age, gender, and lifestyles. None of these labels affirms or exempts us. We can choose to respond by separating out of fear, or coming together out of love. Underneath our words, our practices, our costumes, our skin, we are all fundamentally the same. Equally vulnerable, equally of great potential accomplishment, equally in need of each other to survive and thrive. It appears that we need to continue to be reminded of that periodically.

These were my thoughts on a quiet spring afternoon’s walk. What will you think about on your next afternoon’s walk?

©   2020   Randy Bell             https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My New Year's Wish

With a changing of the yearly calendar, this is the time when expressions of “Happy New Year” and “Best Wishes for the New Year” abound. For many, it is also an opportunity for a time of reflection on events past, an assessment of time present, and determination of directions to pursue in the forthcoming year. In that spirit of reflection, assessment, and determination, I offer some ideas that may be appropriate for your consideration.

My New Year’s wish is that we reflect upon our myriad ancestors and their stories, some known to us yet most unknown, whose widely varied lives made our lives possible in this time, place, and setting – we are because they were.

My New Year’s wish is that we strive to see our parents simply as the non-idealized adults that they are/were, with their own everyday struggles reflecting their own life experiences, that we may see them through the adult eyes of our present rather than the childhood eyes of our past, a key to living in the present not the past.

My New Year’s wish is that we thank our extended family for the lessons and experiences of our childhood, some magical, some difficult, that brought us to the threshold of our adulthood and sent us on the path we have subsequently chosen to live.

My New Year’s wish is that we prioritize time for our immediate family, for the love and presence that they give us as we struggle to hold them close, yet free them to live and fulfill their own destinies.

My New Year’s wish is that we remember our many friends encountered over the years, some but for a moment in time, others still traveling with us on our journey, some more honest or dependable than others, but all serving to enrich the life that we are living.

My New Year’s wish is that we recall the many teachers that have helped to guide our lives, some in formal teaching roles and others simply by their presence in our lives, some teaching from their knowledge, some inspiring by their example, all providing a foundation upon which we seek to build a “next generation.”

My New Year’s wish is that we acknowledge and respect the many mentors who have reached out to us, and opened opportunities and smoothed our way, whether intentionally or by happenstance, without whom our life would have meandered in wholly different directions with far different results.

My New Year’s wish is that we come to embrace the challenges and regrets that have occurred on our journey, some smaller bumps in the road, others extraordinarily difficult to pass through, many of which resulted in positive outcomes only seen well after the moment.

My New Year’s wish is that we learn to live comfortably with persons seemingly not like ourselves, to have respectful conversations of differing opinions, and to no longer see each other as different but as diverse reflections of the vast creative breadth of God’s Universe.

My New Year’s wish is that we allow ourselves to have big dreams, the confidence to strive for them, the ability to ignore the many naysayers, and the courage to manifest them into our own unbridled joy.

My New Year’s wish is that, as a result of this time of reflection, assessment, and determination, we reconnect with our true inner self, the self that transcends our daily life and our many roles, thereby infusing the spirituality of our being within all that we do and to all whom we encounter.

©   2020   Randy Bell                         https://OurSpiritualWay.blogspot.com