Obitchuary

Gary, Davis, Christian, Dryden, Obituary, epitaph, legacy
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is casually perusing the graveyards of old, small towns. The stones say so much. One such stone is often referenced in marriage ceremonies (see left). Another I came across was on a backroad near Hebron, NH. “Here lies Francois DuBois. Hung as a horse thief. 1638.” Epitaphs can tell us much about a person’s life, as can Obituaries.

Obituaries can be a good source of information about those who have already gone before? Not their material goods, but their legacy in the lives of their contemporaries— their friends, their families, and children.

Yet there are also obituaries that have little to do with the deceased. In many I’ve read I had known the person in life. While they lived they were miserable, grouchy, cranky, angry individuals. Yet, at their funeral, their eulogies made them out to be saints among men. Who were these people? Certainly not the wretched person I had known who had hated their life and many of those around them. Most of the conversations I remember with them could be summed up in three words— Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! They were chronic complainers, never happy with anything.

For most of us we can choose the kinds of people we become. We do not have to choose to be chronic complainers, self-absorbed little infestations of isolation and criticism. We can choose to be imparters of hope, peace, joy, and graciousness. We can choose to GIVE instead of being hoarders of life’s material goods. We can even sacrifice our lives for the good of others.

So what would you want people to remember about you once you’ve crossed-over to the other side? What would a truthful obituary about YOU look like? What words would you have chiseled on your tombstone? What life-legacy would you leave behind? Whatever it is, START LEAVING IT NOW. The craziness, the laughter, the good times and bad you share with people NOW is what you pass on to succeeding generations. We all need to become a little more aware of the way we live.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

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Intelligence and Stupidity

image002 (1)Have you ever wondered why some of the most intelligent, capable leaders do some of the most incredibly stupid things? Really dumb things!

David Letterman, recent host of The Late Show, held a segway called Stupid Human Tricks. More recently, Good Morning America has created a category for news items termed Dumbest Criminals. [Like one man who turned himself in for the reward money. Truly.]  Then there are The Darwin Awards; a yearly review of the most creative ways some of us have eliminated ourselves from the human gene pool. Even reading them is unfathomable.

Too many of us have HHMD— Human Hoof & Mouth Disorder. Open mouth; insert foot. ‘Nough said. We simply do not think before we speak; and so, we sound stupid, offensive, or just plain weird. But the result is the same; people come to expect outlandish behavior from us and they cease to take us seriously. Our stupid comments, though even humorous at times, get in the way of our true-selves being known or trusted.

Why do seemingly intelligent people act so stupidly sometimes? I believe they step out of their area of expertise and speak out-of-turn, off-the-cuff, and without thinking. Maybe they miss obvious social-clues, maybe they’re nervous, or are merely looking for filler that turns out to be inappropriate. Who knows?!?

The solutions should be quite obvious—THINK. True, having to think before you speak will limit your free-flowing response; but it is a necessary limitation. Words, once said, are very difficult to take back. There is nothing wrong with a pause-for-thought before we vocalize our minds…, or lack thereof. The same goes for ACTIONS. How will what you do affect the other person or group?

Even the most intelligent among us can still be wise and creative without being stupid…, hopefully. Be forgiving of people’s faux pas, even of your own. Be the first to admit that you have acted stupidly. Yes, it could be embarrassing; but it sure beats expending further energies to cover up.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Hidden

051048048057054055054050124053048048124052048048Why are we hiding? Or— What is it we try to hide? Too many of us exert a lot of energy trying to hide, or trying to hide something about ourselves that, if revealed, would expose us.

The artistry of Bev Doolitle (1947-   ) depicts objects hidden to the casual observer. We are so much like the horses in her paintings. If people were to look intently at our life, what is it we would try to hide? I’ve worked with some people whose biggest fear in getting married was being known. I tried to assure them that being known, and still loved, was the best part of being married; I’m not sure they bought it.

What drives us to hide things? Insecurity, fear, shame, dishonesty? Or worse, why do we hide ourselves? Of course, if you’ve been betrayed or used, there is some warrant for it. You don’t want to be hurt that deeply again.

The issue, basically, is one of safety. We ALL want to feel safe. So we hide the parts of us that would expose us. This is wise…, to a point. But our need for safety can also choke the spirit within us. It can bind us in a box with just slits through which we take in the outside world.

Would you like to escape your box and take in more of the outside world? Here are some ideas—

  • Spend time with people. Reflecting off of them will give you insights into yourself. You’ll surprise them; they’ll surprise you.
  • Try something that engages your soul. Doesn’t matter what. Just not too much over the line. Deeper discussion, life challenging experiences. Hold back on sky-diving.
  • Build one-safe-friendship. Create a confident.
  • Create a private novel about the kind of life you’d like to live. Then, slowly, start to live it.

Hiding takes a lot of energy. Think what you might be accomplishing if you didn’t have to work so hard at hiding your true self. Think of the energy you could invest in developing new dreams, new skills or new relationships. Be intentional. Remaining hidden, if pursued over a long period of time, results in further isolation; and that creates further fear of being known.

You do not need to stay hidden. Make the decision to be known.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Resilience

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Resilience

Bouncing back. Getting up again. Beaten down and rising from

the ashes like the Phoenix. Overcoming failure and discouragement. Going for it again.

Why are some of us good

at it and others not so much?

Resilience is not necessarily based on generation, gender, cultural affinity, location or situation. It seems to be ingrained in certain people; they just have what it takes.

For others, who have been beaten down repeatedly, it becomes a matter of fortitude and determination. Sheer will-power. They have to fight not only their surrounding circumstances, but themselves as well. That is no simple matter. So what does it take to become resilient?

First, it requires that you make a decision; maybe two. 1) That you will not let this thing, whatever it is, overwhelm you. You will not let it win. And, 2) that you will fight, FIGHT, to overcome it. If these decisions are not made right up front, you do not stand a chance.

Second, you will need to surround yourself with friends of equal mind, kindred spirits, who share your dreams and goals in life. Do NOT hold back from seeking their advice, solace, and wisdom.

Third, you will want to set timely goals or check-points along the way for evaluating your recovery. How well am I bouncing back? Have trusted friends also give you feedback on how you’re doing. Be assured that setbacks will assail you; that’s life. But you are not back at Square-One. It’s just a setback.

Finally, and I hesitate to suggest this because so many of us use this as a scapegoat for being responsible- try PRAYING. (not for relief but for strength and wisdom) There’s something that cleanses the heart, mind, & soul through prayer. So, Christian or otherwise, try talking to the ceiling: you may just be pushing beyond it.

Resilience is every bit as much a matter of faith as it is fortitude. It is a determination within your soul that has its expression in the lives we live. Don’t hold back.

You can teach yourself to bounce back. Keep practicing. One day it will come more naturally.

Now, where’s my Pogo Stick,

  Gary

Crippling Fear

 flickr_-_sukanto_debnath_-_-1How many of us live with a gnawing fear of failure? Some of us are claustrophobic (fear of small spaces); others have acrophobia (fear of heights). Then, of course, there’s always snakes, in-laws, falling, and computers. I coined a phobia once—Christophobia! Fear of Christians.

The list of Phobia’s goes on ad infinitum. Too many of us pile one fear upon another, compounding the depth and extent of a once simple fear, now, a muddled mess of fears.

As the horde of our fears combine, they produce in us a reaction— an invisible shield of protection. This is a wall we put up to guard against further “attacks,” whether real or imagined, from the world outside. Unfortunately, over time, our inner walls start to crumble, and we find ourselves less protected than we once supposed. This breakdown of our protective barriers can lead to further fear, a crippling fear.

It is no simple matter to deal with crippling fear, let alone to overcome it. If not addressed it can eventually overwhelm you and take your life. This is a serious, irrational illness.

It is said that perfect love casts out fear. [1 John 4:18]  Short of God’s love for us I haven’t found much perfect love on this planet. Truthfully, sometimes even God’s love for us doesn’t drive out the fear that we grasp. But maybe that’s the problem—we really don’t want to let go of our fear. Somehow it has melded with the deepest part of our core and integrated into our identity. So now, it holds us.

Thus are we drawn into a war within ourselves; and it will not be an easy war to fight. Crippling fear knows just when and where to attack at every turn.

You will need help. Here are some simple tools I have used in my own fight with fear.

1.      Anger. [Yelling at God.]

2.      Prayer. [Listening to God.]

3.      Music.

4.      Scripture. Lots of it.

5.      One incredible friend (ok…, more than one).

6.      Counselors (again, more than one).

7.      Medication.

8.      Letting go of things I cannot change.

9.      Listing my fears.

10.  Single Malt Scotch (with that one good friend).

I don’t know if my list has been helpful: you may need to write your own. Whatever you do, DO NOT let this damn fear consume your life!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Damn Hot

HeatDamn Hot

Last week was the hottest scorcher of the summer in New England. People in the South say you get used to this. I grew up in the south and never got used to it. The heat made me sick— migraines, dehydration, exhaustion. Now I live in New England where people never need air conditioning! Wanna bet? Last Wednesday it was 99º. The heat index for the day felt like 105º. Add to that the 78% humidity…, oh never mind. Maybe it’s just me.

How does the heat affect you?

No, not the daily temperature: HEAT; PRESSURE; being pushed to your limits and then some. STRESS! The majority of us cannot stand too much heat. We simply give into the pressure and blow up. Thankfully, there are still some stalwarts who will give our lives for what we believe in and not give in.

Various sciences of our day have offered healthier stress-coping mechanisms for dealing with the HEAT. Here are some—

§  Take care of yourself.

§  Eat healthy, well-balanced meals

§  Exercise on a regular basis

§  Get plenty of sleep

§  Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.

§  Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help with the stress. In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.

§  Take a break. If your stress is caused by a national or local event, take breaks from listening to the news stories, which can increase your stress.

Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Here’s my list—

§  Go into the woods & hit a tree: or, into an alley and pound a wall.

§  While you’re in the woods, let off some steam.

§  Contrary to the professional opinion above, find a “mate,” you can have a nice, cold Fosters with. This is a great way to dissipate the Heat.

§  Take time to process everything.

§  Write things down to clarify what really happened, or, what was said. Put it away for a week; then take it out & read it again. Still accurate?

§  Don’t blame God. [You know it’s not His fault.]

§  If you are the cause of the heat & stress, apologize.

§  If you are the recipient of the pressure, the stress, the HEAT, find people to help share the load. Then do the same for them when they need help.

There are probably many more ways to handle the HEAT. But I’m tired of thinking about this on a 90º day.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Winning

Gary, Davis, Gandhi, Winning,

First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

1869 – 1948

I’ve never won much in life. Well, that is, if you consider, kewpie-dolls at the county fair, the first prize in a match-box car race, or a Monopoly game, or certain sports events worth winning; I just don’t seem to be cut out for winning: not, at least, at this level. I’d rather put my time and energy into winning the battle for the souls of men & women, for justice, for clearer communication between peoples who don’t even want to talk with each other, let alone consider loving each other. I’d like to bring peace where there is very little of it: that’s worth winning.

Winning is different for everybody. For some of us, every human exchange is a competitive event:  someone has to win, someone has to lose. These people play their game with every ounce of their strength and will power (in sports, business, simple conversations, or relationships) to win. For three years during college I was on our Debate Team; I never lost even one debate. As I grew in life, after college, a couple graduate programs, & a doctorate, I had to learn how NOT to win. Why? Because I lost too many relationships always trying to win, to be right, to wind up Number ONE. It wasn’t worth it to me.

When our children were in their formative years I used to tell them— If you put yourself on Top, there’s only one direction you can go. If you put yourself on the Bottom, there’s only one direction you can go. ‘Nough said.

So, my question to you is this— What’s worth winning? Is it scoring that winning point in a game? Being summa cum laude at graduation? Becoming Senior Vice-President by age thirty? Or simply driving the coolest car? To be sure there are some things in life worth winning; and, there are some things in life not really worth fighting for. We all need to pick our battles carefully. C a r e f u l l y.

For me, I just want to make a difference in this world before I check out. How about you?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Why are Christians sooooo boring?

It’s no wonder none of us go to church. It’s just plain boring, and irrelevant, and a time warp into a different century. What the hell are they talking about anyway? It’s not as bad if you attend one of the more contemporary church services: at least they are more upbeat and encouraging.

But I’m talking about the real Christians, the ones you chance upon every now & then amidst the countless jerks4Jesus who claim to be genuine Followers of Christ who don’t have a clue about what’s going on in our world today. Some of them don’t even watch the news, unless it’s FOX News. Why do these people choose to be out of touch with the rest of the world? It’s a mystery.

What I’ve found is that we need Christians; well, not all of them, but some of them really get it, and want to build bridges, come to our parties, drink our beer, and hang out with us. They are the kind we need. They keep us on our toes instead of stepping on them. Some of them are even kind-of fun. A little. But, for the most part, they need our help. They need to get out more. Live life more! And definitely drink more single-malt.

OR, it could be that WE are the problem. We put them off somehow; we scare them; or maybe their radar picks up our secret that we just don’t want them around; which, given their judgmental history is quite understandable. Come to think about it, they probably see us as judgmental of them. Hmmm.

Like John Legend’s ALL OF ME, maybe it’s time we’re both showing hearts. Cards on the table.

Christians may be mostly boring…, but some of us are a little weird too…, and boring, too.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Petrified Fungus

Dr, Gary, Davis, Fungus, Petrified, Relationships, People

 by Nicolas Rück 

Def.— Fungus:  any one of a group of related plants (such as molds, mushrooms, or yeasts) that have no flowers and that live on dead or decaying things.

 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fungus

            The above definition of fungus is also analogous to any number of governmental agencies, business corporations, churches, marriages, & interpersonal relationships. Think pork-barrel spending, executive bonuses, Medieval Christian expressions still prevalent, friendships that have long since lost their significance, or loveless adversarial marriages.

We have too many relationships in our lives that have lost their core, their reason to exist. They become like fungus, once attached to a living, thriving entity, now dead. Even worse, those connections have become solidified — devoid of even symbiotic attachment. We become simply a carcass of petrified fungus.

It is an observable fact that many organizations and individuals grow stagnant in the way they function. The zest that once typified them has slipped into the doldrums of despondency. Relationships take effort. If there seems to be no umph! in your marriage or church or company maybe it is because you have lost your vision, or your sense of expecting God to work. Maybe your relationship, be it spousal or friendship, has plummeted the depths of boredom because you just haven’t put anything into it lately…, or, for a long time. Your life & friendships are dying from a lack of oxygen.

Being the first one to make the effort to bring fresh air back into a mission, or marriage, is always a daunting effort. If God has designed you to be the one who must initiate the first steps toward reconciliation, or restoration, or forgiveness, then get used to it. It’s what you were made for. Think of it as your curse, or your privilege; doesn’t matter. JUST GET ON AND DO IT.

Sure, you get tired of being the one who must initiate every innovation or repair of a relationship. You wish to God that someone else would beat you to it. Again, it doesn’t matter. SIMPLY DO IT. Do not let unresolved issues run-on unresolved. The deepest pain I live with are people who do not want resolution in relationships. But there have been points where all my efforts became futile. It is only after years of trying that I give up, realizing that true resolution must be a two way street.

If you do not come to a resolution you will find yourself in a petrified relationship— within your place of work, your friendships, or your marriage. And it will eventually kill you. YOU will become a petrified fungus, no longer capable of doing little more than lying there, dormant, ineffective, and, in essence, a dead weight to anyone around you.

Is this what you want to settle for in life? I sure as hell don’t.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Wondering

Dr, Gary, Davis, wonder, life, love, invention                  Few of us take the time to wonder about our lives, why we’re here, or where everything around us came from. We’re too busy, moving as fast as we can for… what? We don’t take the time to sit still, gaze at the clouds, the ocean’s roiling waves, or the vastness of the night sky.

Most of us plow through one day after another, in a routine we don’t even notice over time; it’s just what we do. DO.

Maybe that’s the problem; we have become a society of worker-bees, following scheduled habits with little sensivity to WHY we do what we do. We just DO.

This has taken over our creativity, our ingenuity, our play, and replaced it with productivity. We measure a man by what and how much he can produce. Worker bees. Whether it’s on an assembly line or in a bank or in a staff meeting, we DO. So when do we get to think?

When do we get to address the why’s of our life? Satirist Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in anyone’s life are the day they were born…, and the day they find out why.” You need to ask that question—  the WHY one. Have you done it?

INVENTION usually arrises out of a combination of playing around coupled with that Ah Ha! moment when it all comes together. But if you have no time to wonder at the clouds, to let your mind float along with them, how will you ever chance upon those moments of surprising, stunning revelation? Ah-Ha!

WONDER is the mixing-pot from which our imagination cooks up genius. It provides us with the time needed to separate ourselves from our daily repetitions and lifts our minds & spirits to leave the confinements of our bodies and soar into the realms of dreams, fantasies, and creation. If we never take time to WONDER, we will forever remain earthbound, going about our lives with little thought to what-could-have-been.

So, go sailing, take a hike, lie in a warm field of grass and get lost in the clouds or the stars at night. Give your heart to dreaming and your mind to wonder. Surprises await.

This is my challenge to you. O, wait, you don’t have time for this, do you?  Put down your cell phone.

What if…,

  Gary