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If you go into marriage with a program,
you will find that it won’t work.

Successful marriage
is leading innovative lives together,
being open, non-programmed.
It’s a free fall: how you handle
each new thing as it comes along.

As a drop of oil on the sea,
you must float,
using intellect and compassion
to ride the waves. –Joseph Campbell

Tell the Truth, Expect Nothing

I’m reading Randy Pausch’s, The Last Lecture and enjoying it. If you don’t know the story, Pausch–a computer science professor, husband, and father of three very young kids–had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was dying. His “Last Lecture” wasn’t about dying, however, but about how to live. Then he wrote a book. It’s a very easy read because it’s broken up into lots of little mini-chapters or sections that are 3 pages or less.

My favorite is on page 163, and it’s entitled simply, “Tell the Truth.”

If I could give three words of advice, they would be “tell the truth.” If I got three more words, I’d add: “All the time.” My parents taught me that “you’re only as good as your word,” and there’s no better way to say it.

This really resonates with me.

I’m going to tell you the truth. I’ve lied. But I honestly can’t remember the last time I did it. And I can’t remember any particular thing that I’ve ever lied about. So the result is that I really don’t have any secrets.

The reason I’m telling you this is not to kick off some rant touting any superiority or comparison or cast some kind of moral judgment. Hell, if you think about it, I could be lying to you this very moment! No, the real reason is to tell you something that I’ve learned and believe is true.

I think living without secrets makes for a very easy life.

I am who I am. I’ve done (and not done) stuff. I’m not proud of everything. I don’t always feel that good about myself, but I’m not trying to breath under water either.

What do I mean by that? Pausch goes on to say,

People lie for a lot of reasons, often because it seems like a way to get what they want with less effort. But like many short-term strategies, it’s ineffective long-term. You run into people again later, and they remember you lied to them. And they tell lots of other people about it. That’s what amazes me about lying. Most people who have told a lie think they got away with it . . .when in fact, they didn’t.”

When someone lies, they’re usually trying to get something or create (or uphold) an image in someone else’s mind. The idea is that that image would dissolve if the truth were known. So when you lie, the bottom line is, you’re trying to be something you are not. This is impossible. And it’s insane. It’s like trying to breath underwater.

You can pretend to breath under water for a while, but you’re really just holding your breath–and you can only do that for so long. Nature ALWAYS wins out. And when it does, despite your effort, depriving your body of oxygen only makes you weaker.

Being a teacher, you can imagine the number of times students have lied to me. Other people have lied to me as well. Probably, you’ve been lied to. I used to be very hurt by that. Especially when it was someone close to me. Even more so, when I took a lie and built part of my life or identity around it or became attached to it because the lie was much easier to live with than the truth.

Yes, lies hurt, but sometimes the truth hurts even more.

What I want to tell you today is that lies don’t hurt me anymore because I’ve come to realize that there isn’t anything anyone could tell me that would change who I am. There isn’t anything anyone can do–past, present, or future–that can effect what I am. If this is true, how can I possibly be hurt?

Of course, in order to learn this, I had to hurt. Talk about irony.

So I guess I’m writing today to tell you two things:

1) Life is easier when you don’t lie. No secrets. No pretending. Less to think about. No water up your nose. And,

2) Don’t worry when you find that someone lied to you. They cannot hurt you. They cannot change who you are. No harm can come to you. Trusting does not make you naive, or ignorant, or stupid, or anything. If you have trusted and you have learned something, use that new knowledge to adjust your expectations and move forward in this present moment.

But wait, are you feeling doubtful? That’s alright. You don’t have to trust me. You need to lay your own course. If, for you, what I’ve said sounds good “in theory”, but runs aground in the real world–before you dismiss this as just so much touchy/feely bullshit (I mean what about Bernie Madoff, right?)–reflect on this:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And this:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Still stuck on Bernie Madoff? Okay, I don’t blame you. I never said it was easy. You may find some consolation in remembering also that He said to love everyone–not trust everyone. Be prepared to always realize the difference and let go of any attachments to anyone or anything you might have in this world.

And then be prepared to be free.

On death (so to speak)

Just a quick post here to let y’all know I’m still alive. We’ve had hell of a time around here lately–little taste of just about everything life (and death) can toss at you.

Plenty of fodder for reflection on all fronts. You know–the big stuff. And even a hint of delicious irony to top it off. Some of it will eventually trickle into this blog, I’m sure. It’s really too good not to. (more…)

Easter Renewal


How’s That Connection?

Managing relationships, is kind of like using a cell phone.

People who frequently do know where to get the best connection– where the signal is clearest–and they know where it’s not. An avid cell user can even tell you what the reception will be like without even turning the phone on. Geography, geology, meteorology all blend subconsciously into instinct.

The cell user learns because it’s important to them. It’s significant. It works that way for anything. You learn when you pay attention.

So a question worth asking, I think, is, “Where do I get the best connection with the people who are important to me?”

If you want a good connection–if it’s important to you–you simply have to do two things:

  1. Pay attention–where do you get the strongest signal?
  2. Go there.

The past couple of days I found that sweet spot, so I just pulled over and parked the car. Five bars baby.

The past couple of days I found that sweet spot, so I just pulled over and parked the car. Five bars baby.

There are posts, indeed entire blogs, where writers yammer on about their personal lives/dramas/issues/interests etc . . .without ever adding any value for anyone other than the author and maybe a few select significant others.

Fair warning: What follows might be just that.


What to do about those pesky boxelder bugs

I’m wondering if anyone else out there has noticed anything suspicious about the bugs around their house lately. The word “bug” is a scientific term biologists use to combine two species:

The Family of Animals That You Can Kill With A Rolled Up Magazine, and The Family Of Animals That Are Too Quick For That.

I ask because the bugs I’ve seen have definitely become more aggressive in their pursuit to GET INTO MY HOUSE. This makes me nervous. Having just thrown away a Kleenex full of squished box elder bugs, my wife laments because, somehow, she’s missed one.

Then another one.

Then another one.

They just keep appearing.

Sometimes my children react strongly when a box elder bug flies near or lands on them.

Being the man of the house, I feel somewhat responsible to do what I can to help—especially after learning that pointing and saying, “Oh, there’s another one,” or, “Maybe a vacuum would work better,” wasn’t an effective approach.