Archive for January, 2019


Belonging

Passing a nursing station, I overheard a nurse say, “He has no one.”

Who?” I inquired.

Startled, she turned, “Oh.” Quizzically, she perused up and down. Whatever she thought, I’m positive an old, bald, fat man was not expected. “Oh,” she murmured again. “409,” her shoulders shrugged. “The guy in 409 has no family. His time nears.”

So, he’s alone?

Yes.

No one?

Nada.”

May I sit with him?”

Her eyebrow raised slightly, “Sure.

I sat with him until near dawn, sometimes in silence, sometimes lightly speaking, letting him know he was not alone. He whispered, “Why?

Standing to stretch my back, I glanced out to the street below. Raindrops angled across the window pane. My breath echoed against the glass as colorful hues light refracted through the early morn by drops darting downward.

Know what?” I said. “Earth is old. The sun is old. But do you know what may be even older than both? Water. It’s a mystery how the world became awash in it. Maybe water originated on our planet from cosmic ice specks. Some claim distant meteorites or comets as they bombarded the earth.

A slight momentary silent filled the room.

Kaboom” and “Smash,” I reemphasized.

A slight smile, “Ha,” he whispered.

The most accurate answer is: I don’t know ‘why?‘ My limited theological training offers little in any way to account for the unexplainable. And after all these years of walking with Christ, then Buddha, questions linger. Regardless of belief, the world reminds me death is not the end, that we carry forward in the glow of love.

Turning from the morning rain, I sat near, “Are you close?

Leaning in, he whispered, “I come and go.”

There was nothing I wanted more than to bring out a suitcase full of proof, saying, “See? You can be confident.” But there is no absolute proof. Heck, some days I have trouble even convincing myself. There’s just us. Instead, I stayed.

In the small moments of life, a bridge of faith is lived in-between the “back and forth” by both believer and witness. God’s faith glides in between moments life and for whatever reason, which remains foreign to most, joins our world through others, and through us.

Glancing at the man, I stroked the soft fragile gray hair, mirrored his peaceful rhythmic breath, and saw myself. While there are stories of miraculous interventions, lightning-bolt moments, and sudden cures, more often than not, in the final moment, the God of unconditional love will arrive in human form – just like his Son.

I whispered, “The ‘Kaboom and the ‘Smash’ were for you. In those very moments He created you. He loved you then. He loves you now. That same love is here for you. The same air that Christ breathed, you breathed. His breath is in you. His love encompasses you just as he encompasses me. And as your friend, I am with you always and will remember you always.

His lips quivered lightly. A tear dotted his eye. I cupped his hand to my heart. He never spoke again.


The real beauty of Christian and Buddhist faith is that faith is lived and experienced moments. As such, in a time of need, God comes to us in physical vessels, where love and grace join to feel His spiritual presence.

Through all my years working in healthcare, I could never explain “why.” Even if I could, it wouldn’t have brought anyone back. Still, even in my own days of difficulty, many have reached out to me to let me know that I was not alone. They were the presence of God to me. They held me up to, guided me to return to this world, brought me back and consoled me. Suffering isolates us. Loving presence brings us back, makes us belong.

Make someone your life know he or she belongs.

I am Meant to Write. And I do.

My last post stayed with through much of Saturday. The question, “What am I about?” What on earth gives me meaning?

One writer who had an imprint upon me is Viktor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning was written in nine successive days. Having a keen sense of human behavior, wrote a most profound observation:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts, comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl noted any man, under such circumstances, can decide what shall become of him – both mentally and spiritually. And truth be told, I am by nature, one of those ‘hut guys‘ – those who comfort and help.

Like most, I spent an awful lot of time searching for meaning. As a kid, I used to believe a variety of positions would provide meaning I longed. First, there was a police officer. A fireman was next, followed by a football player, baseball player, preceded by a preacher and humanitarian.

Nothing settled.

Instead, I melted into unimaginable. My life’s resume included Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery to government trained sniper, college kid, investigator, auditor, consultant to governance. I married, then divorced. I married again, later experienced a beautiful true love (but not the physical affair). I managed to blow that and divorced again. Became homeless and lived out of a car. Through a friend, I regrouped and learned to relive. And now, at 58, I still can’t quite define what gives me meaning.

After posting yesterday morning, I called my mother. In the course of our conversation, she blurted:

Have you started your book yet?”

Ah.” I paused, as I always do when broaching the subject. “Not yet.”

Oh. You’re such a good writer.”

I realized at that moment, therein lay my meaning. I was meant to write. That’s what I do.

My blog is interconnected with my life, my career, and readers. I’ve written nearly 570 posts and have approximately 180 followers. I am proud of that. True, my blog does not generate an income. As such, I never considered myself a super blogger that posts on anything or everything. It’s just not my style. And honestly, I’ve never charged for access or asked for profit.

I started this blog to write, to share ideas. Like most writers, I experience periods of mental blocks. Other days, words flow freely, as if channeled by a spiritual force. Yet, I understand writing takes work, as each post can quickly absorb several hours.

So, how does writing fit with my position at ABC Inc.? I can only say that everything in my life is interconnected. Woven like tapestry skills from ancient artisans, my job provides the opportunity to interconnect – to see stories, pain, successes, and failures.

We are likely to find our unique meaning based upon our circumstances, our relationships and our experiences. The Buddha might say, “everything is interconnected.” As such, you, my friends and coworkers, are my canvass, for, without you, I would not have written a single word. And just as I, one is more likely to find meaning hidden in the relationships of others.

I’ve come to believe that life essentially tests us. Frankl noted we need to stop asking about the meaning of life each day and hour. Therefore, the meaning of life is not on some remote mountaintop or exalted from gurus living in a cave. Instead, it is revealed daily and hourly, in our choice to take the right action as we perform our duties and responsibilities. It is found in the ability to love others richly.

So, have I found my meaning? Yes. I am meant to write. And I do.

I’ve work at ABC Inc., for the last five years and get paid $8.75 an hour. I room at the YMCA for $61 a week. I get to do my own laundry. I wish there were more places like it.”

~ Response from someone being asked what they do ~

Remember all the internal conversations where you kept asking yourself why am I working here, doing this job or that job? Friends have asked me similar questions since March 2018. You see, since March 2018, my biggest challenge was trying to find something to do. There are the usual morning routines: in by 7:30 AM. Grab a cup of coffee, flip the computer on, check email. Cruise over to MSNBC, then to CNN, then to USA Today. Later, peruse Google news, smoke some tunes at Jazzradio.com, then open an Amazon book via an online reader and knock out a few chapters.

At this point any number of friends would say, “Why exactly are you working there?”

I always respond something to the effect, “I know I was supposed to take this job. Not sure why at the moment, but maybe tomorrow will be clearer.”

Yesterday, I attended a morning meeting of senior management. Our Director of Physical Security attended. He humped over, holding his right arm, saying he cannot move his arm and has trouble breathing. After watching him throughout the meeting, I forced him to go to company’s onsite medical team. I walked with him to ensure he made it there. He kept saying this was a waste of time.

Turned out he was a having a ‘heart event.’ Had I not interacted, he might not have been properly treated. This is not a statement of self-congratulations. It’s just one interaction of one person helping another. Many people, just like me, have similar events everyday. And maybe, just maybe, this event was just one reason why I was meant to be here.

In other ways, my job has left me an ability to help others in need. Alecia Lane, the furloughed government worker I wrote of in my last post, exceeded her GoFundMe goal of $5,000. Without our help, she may not have made it. In fact, at 10:22 AM yesterday, Ms. Lane posted an update:

“Thank you!!! I’m amazed at all the help provided to my family. There are no words to express how grateful I am to you. With your help I was able to bless 3 of my coworkers.”

If her words are true, our effort not only assisted MS. Lane, but positively impacted three others.

Turns out, our assistance was not unique. City of San Angelo offered assistance to furloughed federal employees during the government shutdown. Restaurants offered meals. People donated to GoFundMe requests. The American Bankers Association has a list of more than 100 banks offering special help to furloughed workers (regardless of whether you agreed with the interest rates or not). The list of assistance is endless and reached every state.

A lot of us search for our own meaning of life. And for most, such deep meaning remains elusive. However, maybe we’re here to assist others. Maybe, just maybe, clarity can be found in those little moments when helping a person in need.

We aneed to be generous with our time, and have self-discipline, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom. The practice of generosity is largely entwined with the mind. The focus must be upon assisting others, not validating oneself. But, one can receive validation from effort. Far more important than the gift being given is the intention and state of mind when giving. I try, as much as possible, to give with a pure intention. This means giving from a place of compassion, conviction, attentively, and without negatively affecting others. Buddhists believe that what is given is not lost, but is actually returned to the giver in the form of karmic rewards.

And this my friends, is my purpose in life. Maybe, that’s what all of us are called to do … help. So, if you’re still searching for meaning, hang in there.

You never know what tomorrow may bring.

Several days ago, a friend asked a favor and requested if I could take her to the airport on the way to work.  “Of course,” I replied. I agreed to pick her up at 7:30 AM. At 7:40 AM this morning, she stumbled out of her condominium. I carefully placed her luggage into the back of my vehicle and off we went.

I checked TSA wait times just before picking you up,” while navigating my car through a series of curves before entering the main thoroughfare. “The current wait is 11 – 21 minutes. I don’t believe you’ll have a problem today, but you should be cognizant of wait times on your return.”

Why?

Well,” I explained. “Due to the shutdown, if TSA agents aren’t paid this week, many may call in sick or become unavailable. An absence of TSA Agents could delay your processing time through TSA lines.”

Exasperated, she muttered “I don’t get these TSA Agents. They’ll all get paid. When the shutdown ends, they’ll get paid.

Yeah,” I momentarily fumbled. “But the agents need to pay landlords, car payments, medical bills and other items today. So, at the moment, they are not getting paid and have to make ends meet.”

“No,” she countered. “TSA Agents are not working for free. When the shutdown ends, they’ll get paid. If that can’t handle that, then they need to find another job.”

Driving 65 miles per hour, I sat stunned. Coming from a Christian educator, her response was dismissive, as if to say, “Tough toenails, toots.”

I guess Trump would be proud.

For many of us in the world, it doesn’t matter what position you have, going without two paychecks, especially families with children, food, rent and other necessities becomes critical. These are people who never imagined that they’d have to stand in line for food. Imagine what that’s like — for someone in uniform to come through a food pantry door … and say, “My children are hungry.”

Like my friend, many US Legislators are clueless. US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross expressed confusion at reports that many unpaid federal were having such a tough financial time during the government shutdown, suggesting instead that those people could take out loans to survive the partial government closure. Likewise, Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife, had a different message for the more than 800,000 federal workers going without pay, it’s “a little bit of pain” but your children will thank you later.

In other words: suck it up. Uh, yeah sure.

Is this the price these workers have to pay … for an idiot president who won’t give in for fear of looking foolish?

In my heart of hearts this morning, I personally wished my friend would lose her job. Then, I could say, “Find another job.” Or, maybe the TSA would strike and she would have to rent a car and drive back. I said neither. Instead, I quietly dropped her off and drove to work.

So, here’s what I did.

I read of one impacted government worker today – Alecia Lane. Ms. Lane’s story is as follows.

“I am single mom with 2 boys (ages 12 and 8). We have been impacted by the government shutdown, I thought I was prepared but I wasn’t prepared for it last this long especially so soon after Christmas.  It has taken me days to ask for help through GoFundMe.  I haven’t struggled like this since I was growing up.  My kids don’t know the kind of life I had cause I never wanted them to grow up the way I did.  I’ve never wanted to tell my kids we can’t do this or eat this because I don’t have the money.  This shutdown became really real when we missed my first paycheck and we are about to miss the next one.  I am retired Navy and blessed to at least get a retirement check, but I still have bills to cover.”

I donated (click on picture).

Ms. Lane’s story is not unique. A quick search of the term “Government Shutdown” in GoFundme revealed 3,978 results. From here on, until the shutdown ends, I will donate to a needy family or organization.

As a Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, or whatever, donating to those in need is the right. It’s just. Donate anything. Any amount will help.

Selfishly, totally un-Buddhist like, donating is my way of saying ‘F*** You’ to the “Tough Toenails, Toots” naysayers.

Six months before he was assassinated, King spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967.

I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life’s blueprint?

Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.

Now each of you is in the process of building the structure of your lives, and the question is whether you have a proper, a solid and a sound blueprint.

I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life’s blueprint. Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.

Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life — what your life’s work will be. Set out to do it well.

And I say to you, my young friends, doors are opening to you–doors of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and your fathers — and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these doors as they open.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, “If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

This hasn’t always been true — but it will become increasingly true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; I would say to you, don’t drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in — stay in school.

And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

— From the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the Seattle Times noted, Martin Luther King Jr. lived an extraordinary life. At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.

But does it?

In a nation of shutdowns, disingenuous protests and moral superiority, many speak of King’s morality – few live it.

covingtonOn January 18, 2019, Covington Catholic High School faced heavy backlash after a group of predominantly white students was filmed harassing and insulting Native Americans participating in an Indigenous Peoples’ March in Washington, D.C. The students were visiting to participate in the simultaneous anti-abortion March for Life, which attracts many Catholic groups. Many of the students wore “Make America Great Again” hats.

In one of several videos of the incident, a student wearing a Covington Catholic sweatshirt is seen smirking and blocking the path of Nathan Phillips, an Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran who was playing a ceremonial drum. The students reportedly chanted “build that wall“, while others stood in a circle nearby and chanted “CovCath is the best.”

There’s several ironies. First, all of this comes days before Dr. Martin Luther King Day. Second, students attending the anti-abortion March for Life seem to subversively claim, “We march for life, but we impugn the life of anyone notwhite.”

Go figure.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote:

I’m concerned about a better World. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. […] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.

Love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. Unfortunately, love requires effort.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~

Chances

From a Sacramento dinner I looked at the rain as it beat a gentle rhythm upon the roof. The grey sky rolled left to right as dinners ushered dates under umbrellas. Pools of puddles widened as rainfall became heavier.

Good evening,” said a voice awakening me from the moment. “My name is Michael and I will be your server tonight. May I start you off with a drink?

Ah,” I said recovering. “Just a Diet Coke, Please.”

With that Michael darted off on his rounds.

Throughout the meal, I heard Michael’s name whispered amongst the guests. Finally, I gathered some mental strength and queried the patrons in the table next to me.

“Oh,” one guest whispered. In a hushed tone, she leaned inward, “We are friends of one of Michael’s friends. By day, he is a TSA Agent. But he has to work nights during the shutdown to pay expenses. We understand he won’t take charity, so we’re going to leave him a hell of a tip. It’s our way of helping him.”

Their meals came. The table received the bill and headed out. Michael came to collect the check. He momentarily looked. He exhaled heavily, wiped a tear or two and returned the check-holder to his pocket.

My check-holder arrived twenty minutes later. The bill was $59.87. For a moment, I thought about client policy, only fifteen percent tip maximum. “Too bad I muttered,” as I wrote a $100.00 tip.

Friday saw an early wake-up call. Flight 323 was due to leave in a few hours. I arrived at Sacramento International well before departure. TSA interactions were cordial, but none reminded of Sheila from a few days earlier.

When boarding started, I met a stunning older blond woman. Approximately 6’1” or 6’2,” long blonde hair, a silver back pack, and towing a standard black roller carry-on. We engaged in conversation. Just as I, she was a consultant. And strangely, we had similar experiences, similar travels and similar travel horror stories.

Sadly, I never asked her name. I wish I did. Two strangers, hitting it off on a Southwest jet bridge, traveling to the same city, in the same career field, knowing one another, yet never not knowing one another.

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman said their last words to each other in a weird foggy glow on the taxiway. A Lockheed 12 aircraft looms behind them, promising adventure. This is a threshold of escape — a point of departure for the characters, an apt space of closure for the film. In real life, our films move forward, unending. And for once in the past nine years, I wish I had more time.

Strange.

As I write this, I realize how much I miss her. Like many others, it makes you feel warm inside and you feel lucky to have met someone special that is missed in your life. However, I am jealous of the people she gets to meet. I wish I had another chance.

Life is about chances. Maybe it was chance that I met Michael. Maybe, chance had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was chance I met a wondrously beautiful and engaging woman on a Southwest jet bridge. Maybe ‘chance’ had little to do with it.

In a lot of cases, life is about opportunity. When I met Michael, I was drawn to his cause simply because others were so drawn to him. As for my chance traveler, we were drawn to each other for some reason. But I forfeited my chance when we parted.

I whispered a personal thought into the hotel’s bamboo plant, remembering the opening of “Red Corner.”

“When I was a child, I would come to this park and play. My grandmother told me why the bamboo is here. She said, “It is waiting for the wind to touch it. It is filled with emotions. Listen to the sound and you can feel them.””

In closing, I think of the woman I met and of the missed chance. We are somehow interconnected. Borrowing from the character Shen Yuelin (Red Corner):

My Iife has changed. She opened me up and in some way, will forever be a part of my Iife. And hopefully, I will never be the same.

Remember, leave nothing to chance.

“Next,” Sheila called.

The African American woman was a beauty. At five-foot 7 inches, neatly tucked hair, smooth complexion and deep black eyes gave way to a wonderous smile. I placed my phone face down on the electronic reader. “Bobink,” sound the familiar signal while simultaneously lighting green.

“Thank you sir,” Sheila replied.

For Sheila, this common interaction probably plays hundreds time a day. In the several hours prior to my flight, I watched Sheila from my gate, interacting easily, with a level few could exhibit. In wake of burning hours and no salary, she continued to perform her job.

Sheila is a TSA Agent.

I’ve never met Sheila. More than likely, I will never see her again. In prior flights, this interaction would have been greeted with a warm simile and quick hello. Truthfully, TSA agents like Sheila would remain unnoticed. Yet today, I was in the ‘moment.’ I quickly grabbed my stuff, looked her in the eye, and complimented her for all her effort, even in spite of an ongoing government shutdown share all facets of legislatures willingly play chicken.

I’m confident President Trump will never meet Shelia. I don’t believe he would care enough to go out of his way to engage her in any meaningful conversation. I presume Trump only revels in a game of win at all costs – never back down, never surrender. In Trump’s mind there’s only one path to this shutdown – it’s victory. Complete and unconditional surrender.

Objectively looking, there are two wars. The White House have drawn battle lines on many fronts: internally, with the GOP and of course with new House leadership. Each war increases the number of victims, often termed as collateral damage. People become fractured. Friends become enemies. And battle hardened leaders must address a war never imagined, one of the heart and soul of America. Trump’s war can only be won through fortitude, unity, coherent messaging via Twitter and the willingness to fight.

Shelia experiences a far different war. She’s not out for accountability. Neither does she search for blood. Her war involves keeping millions of travelers safe. Finding weapons, suspicious packages and other illegal items is a minute-by-minute battle, fought on the front lines in local airports.

However, in the midst of this shutdown, she’s required to fight hunger as coworkers fight homelessness. Maybe she’s denying herself required medication. She forgoes an electric bill payment, a school payment, or a mortgage payment. The battle is on all fronts and extremely complex.

On January 11th, on the 21st day of the shutdown, TSA agents arrived at work with the painful reality that their biweekly paycheck would not arrive. Many government employees live paycheck to paycheck. Yet TSA agents, like many other government employees are required to work. And still, Sheila can smile. She treats every passenger with respect and dignity.

I am not sure if my words made any difference to Sheila or not. But I stoped and said:

“Thank you so much for all you do. I know you’re going through a difficult time. I just want to say thank you.”

Sheila is one of many selfless employees who are the heart and soul of America. They deserve better. America deserves better.

Don’t Let Go

loveAn airline employee discovered a love letter written on an air sick bag. Discovered last year, the letter chronicles a woman writer on her way to confess her feelings to her crush.

“If you’re reading this, hello 🙂 My name is Andrea and I am incredibly bored. Right now this flight is going from Miami to DC. I’m 21,” the letter begins.

So, I bought the ticket last night at 4am because I have a huge crush on my best friend. He’s flying from Boston to New Orleans and has a layover in DC. I actually live in DC and was gonna go up soon anyway so I thought why not, I’ll surprise him at the airport during his layover. I’m gonna tell him I have a crush on him.

But see I’m going to Australia for a semester abroad in 4 days and I won’t see him for 5 months so it’s really the last chance I have.”

The writer requested that whoever found the letter to “do something crazy today like I am.”

Good luck whoever you are,” the letter concluded.

Of course, a search is underway to find the love struck passenger who wrote the note.

Some will call the writer childish, a dreamer lost in the fog of burning hormones. Others are enchanted by dreams of a lost love who’s memory has given to the daily rituals of life. I am in the ‘enchanted’ category.

Over the course of thirty-years, I must have written close to a thousand letters. About 40% were romantic. The addressees were numerous: Karen, Kelly, Valerie, Farrah, Ruth, Jennifer and you, my readers. A few were even addressed to God. For the most part, many were read, several were ‘returned to sender.’

Even today, as my body continues its decline, writing remains a privilege, though many aren’t love letters. But the hope that propelled 21-year-old Andrea to Washington, D.C. remains alive in me.

I close with a few thoughts.

Cruising the Internet some time ago, I ran across a love note, perhaps written by an 8th grader.

“But RU ready to be there when I’m mad, or need to cry, and can do things that I can’t do with anyone else but you. Yes I am ready unless I’m eating fried chicken so chicken is more important than me Only fried chicken and only when I’m hungry. But if not then you are the only thing I care about.”

So, to the Andrea’s of the world, I say this: relationships are not predestined. They cannot be guaranteed. Care not for life’s typos. Care only for love. Rings are the perfect harmony for those in love. If you fail to care for them, they may no longer fit.

If you made it to D.C., but failed in your mission, remain true to your spirit. You weren’t thrown away. You are the most important person to me. You’re an incredible person. And so, you’ll become someone else’s incredibly precious person.

My final thought to all, if you meet someone willing to grasp your hand tightly through life, don’t let go.

Don’t let go Andrea.

Don’t let go.

Shoes

When I lived in New York City, I was flabbergasted at how the city compromises it’s walking environment by dumping garbage on the sidewalks before nightly pick-up. Every day, people must wade around, through or over mountains of waste, dumped on street curbs once reserved for vehicle storage. Anything remaining after pickup is pulverized, ground down by pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Strangely enough, residents are seemingly acceptable to this cyclical motion as the price for city living.

Likewise, as daily bowel movements from the Trump administration gets dumped upon America, we’re seemingly acceptable to the daily, cyclical motion.

Still, there was time, not long ago, when America’s legislature lived for a higher cause. At Gettysburg, Lincoln described America as a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Ronald Reagan loved the United States, both with passion and without apology. During his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama described his love for America – qualifying that we did as well and so did John McCain.

Several months prior, in honor of his friend McCain, before Senate peers, Lindsay Graham wept. Maybe in a brief moment of personal grief, he reflected to the nation. Maybe he reflected inward to a deeper soul of life. Maybe both.

“It’s going to be a lonely journey for me for a while. Don’t look to me to replace this man (McCain).”

I bite my lip … I wonder if Graham even tried.

If Graham’s message was internal, the nation will wonder if it truly ever hit home. For whatever ember that toiled in his soul was obviously snuffed out. And ever since, for many a American, it’s been a long, lonely walk.

The lesson America should understand comes from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It’s in the walk. It’s about shoes. Hope is in the sole.

I read Cortez’s campaign shoes are now on loan to the Cornell Costume & Textile Collection exhibition “Women Empowered: Fashions from the Frontline.” Cortez claims to have knocked doors until rainwater came through the soles. 80 percent of her campaign operated out of a paper grocery bag hidden behind a bar. Her campaign was about living life, on the street, every day. Cortez adeptly notes most politicians have forgotten how to connect to others.

Form a Buddhist perspective, you never realize just how different the world is until you knock on doors. And like life, walking home-to-home maybe hit and miss. One door, you’ll get rejected, the next, you might have an amazing conversation. Sometimes, you’ll change a mind. Sometimes, you’ll change yours.

I have no idea how successful Cortez will be. But I suggest you build personal values upon life experiences. If you want to truly successful, wear out a pair of shoes. Stop texting. Put the cell phone away. Walk. Meet neighbors. Meet coworkers. Meet the rich. Meet the poor. Talk. Face-to-face. Works as much in campaigning as it does in business.

Ask yourself a simple question: “How much sole are you willing to give life.”

Shoes. It’s all about ‘shoes.’

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