I was driving my kids to school this morning and they asked me to play one of their favorite songs. They chose the song “Kung Fu Fighting” as performed by Jack Black in the motion picture “Kung Fu Panda”. I smiled since it happened to be a song that I like as well. As we were all singing it the last part of the chorus really stood out to me. It goes like this “It’s the book of your life that you’re writing”. For some reason it struck me as profound thought this morning as I sang it and contemplated. This brought me to some deep thoughts of course. On the one hand I wonder how many people walk through life believing they have absolutely no control over their lives or simply don’t care. On the other hand I wonder how many people walk through life believing they have absolute power and can control everything. Either extreme has its deficiencies. One life is an action while the other is a reaction. As I consider these things I constantly think we can’t live in the extremes but we must… live. Is life something you get up and react to or is it something you take action with?
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Have you ever considered what your name means? When considering what to name a child some people think “what sounds good?” while others think “who will this child be?”. No matter what side of the spectrum you’re on we all know that our names help shape who we are. So I thought I’d share a little bit about my name… My name “Assad” is ( a boy’s name) and variant of Asad (Arabic: أسد) and originally comes from two sources onef rom an Arabic personal name, As‛ad ‘happiest’, ‘luckiest’ or ‘more fortunate’, a superlative adjective derived from sa‛īda ‘to be lucky or happy’. The other source comes from the root word meaning "lion". Assad is not a popular first name for men and an equally uncommon surname or last name for all people. (1990 U.S. Census) and is probably a lot less common now due to the conflict in Syria. Now I wouldn’t say a name is a self fulfilling prophecy but…It is interesting that in some ways the meaning of my name parallels some of my personal characteristics.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
This summer I worked on teaching my son how to swim. He is six years old and though he enjoys being in the water is sometimes nervous about going under. His response to dealing with his fear is never getting his head wet. So I watched him as he played and observed his commitment to never letting his head go under the water. I thought to myself “he’s missing out on so much and doesn’t even know it.” I think there are several times in our lives where we are missing out on things in our lives because we have taken such a tight hold on every aspect of our life that we actually lose our grip. In training people on how to hold a bat in baseball you teach them to hold the bat tight enough so it doesn’t fly out of your hands but not so tight that you’re actually clenching down on it. Its kind of like holding a small bird in your hands, holding tight enough that it doesn’t fly away but loose enough that you don’t hut it. If we’re not careful we will hold our lives too tightly and never really get to truly experience the power they are capable of. Last summer my son went from being committed to not getting his hair wet to swimming because he was willing to “let go”. Are you willing? What are you holding tightly to?
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
My wife is an amazing cook. Seriously. Her excellent cooking has caused me to develop a greater interest in the art of cooking itself. The thing is, our kitchen is small, therefore when we’re both in there trying to cook something we can tend to butt heads. Sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen means no food gets cooked. This principle really translates as “work together as a team”. Working together sometimes means knowing when to lead and when to follow. It means submitting to one another in a way that best accomplishes your combined vision or task. One of the most famous depictions of how teams working together can accomplish much is how the Greek city states worked with one another in the 5th century to defeat their Persian enemies. In the historical context each state was independent and either despised each other or had very loose loyalties at best. Yet when faced with the idea annihilation they pulled together and worked toward victory. As a people it is important for us to recognize when we are leading and following. This helps to ensure we are in-line with the combined vision of our teams. This is useful in the most powerful governments of the world and… my kitchen… probably yours too.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Has anyone ever asked you to do something? How did you respond? Many times in my life I’ve been asked to do things. I typically try to find the angle of the person asking me (which reveals a certain measure of skepticism on my part) then I try to get on board and help. Sometimes those things are easy to do while in other circumstances doing those things is very difficult. It can be difficult to have a request made of you on some level thereby having to trust someone with the next step in your life. In those moments I wish I could see my life on a timeline (past, present & future) so I can know what the next “right” step is. This way I don’t have to guess. I used to get caught up in making the “right” decision and disregard the process. It’s easy to do when you’re not concerned with it, though I’ve learned “the process” (or how you deal with things) is one of the most important parts of life. Will you respond to situation in life with willingness or reservation? Flexibility or rigidity? Compassion or indifference? How do you respond to what you encounter in life?
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I grew up watching the old school Sci-Fi movies like “Logan’s Run” and “The Time Machine” even “Mad Max” & “Blade Runner” are getting up there in age now. What I remember most about them is how they present an idea of our future being something we rather not exit in. They almost act as a warning to us living in the present to change our ways “or else” this will happen. I often wonder if we (as the human race) will go to far. Will we try and reach the heavens or clone ourselves? I’m often not sure of the purpose of such actions. I’m definitely someone who loves to push the envelope and dream bigger and higher than I have before but the question emerges “when will we have gone too far?” I’m not sure the answer is as easily delineated as we would like to think. I do know there will come a time where we will begin to push further than the natural, which will make it “un-natural” I guess. Are you okay with living in a world that is un-natural? It’s a hard question for me because I like some of the amazing technological advances we have witnessed, but some technology has a strange and frankly perverted effect on the human beings. I was recently watching a TED talk that spoke on “The Demise of Guys” were the presenter communicated that boys brains are literally being reprogrammed (for the worse) by excessive internet interaction. Something just doesn’t seem right about that.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Have you been so mad you thought you’d literally blow up? I know I have. I have four kids constantly testing my boundaries so most days it's just a matter of time before I feel like I’m going to explode. There is something about that feeling that is similar to the mechanics of a volcano. Pressure builds, and builds, and builds and then boom! A destructive force on par with a megaton bomb is unleashed on nature. I was most reminded of this upon hearing of a famous volcano called Mt. Krakatoa. In 1883 this island volcano produced the most destructive natural explosion in modern history, it was something like 200 megatons of TNT or about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little Boy bomb that devastated Hiroshima. The devastation included the deaths of over 40,000 people, the thought to be loudest sound in modern history (heard over 3,000 miles away) and sent shockwaves that were recorded around the world. The blast destroyed 2/3 of the island. Sometimes I wonder if Anger can be likened to the events that happened on Mt. Krakatoa that day. Explosive anger hurts people, is visible to the world and can yield a destructive force. How do you deal with anger? How do you release the tension?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I’ve met many people who have the most incredible stories in the world. They come from all different places and backgrounds. They have rich ancestries. People are definitely interested in their ancestry as you can type the word “ancestry” in an Internet search engine and find about 153,000,000 results (in 0.22 seconds). I always find it fascinating to hear how they got here. I love the different nuisances to their lives and behavioral patterns. What’s most interesting is how they really are part of something bigger, something…else. I guess we all are. There is a distinctive reality to being connected to our ancestors. In my youth I connected the idea of ancestry to the limits and or opportunities in my life. That was immature thinking. Sure there are limits we all face in this world, some due to the certain realities everyone faces in the world and others as a result of our capacity or willingness. The truth is for every limit we have, so to an equal amount of opportunities exist as well. We just don’t see them. We don’t have to see the world that way. We can live in a new reality and find different ancestral connections that will inspire us. Who are you connected to? Whose shoulders have you stood on? Who has inspired you to dream bigger, farther and greater dreams?
Thursday, August 11, 2011
When was the last time you stopped to casts your eyes on a rainbow and take in its beauty? Many times we see them as we’re doing something else and peer over at them. It’s interesting to me that the “rainbow” has had such an impact on our culture. I typed the word “rainbow” in the Google search engine and it recognized the word somewhere on the internet with about 395,000,000 results (0.17 seconds). The last time I saw a rainbow I was driving, coming out the other end of a rainstorm. I remember the clouds looked heavy and as though someone painted them with streaks of black and gray. The weather seemed cold and I remember just wanting the warmth of the sun. Seconds later, the sun began to break through the clouds. It was as though the sun itself heard the secret whisper of my heart and decided to respond. In that moment I also recognized I was beneath an amazing rainbow. Probably the largest one I’d ever seen. So I pulled over off to the side of the road, got out of my car and after I got to a safe place on the road I just took it in. It was amazing. It reminded me that I too am in the midst of something amazing.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
It was 6:00am on Saturday morning and I'm rushing out the door trying to beat my dad to work. I was 17 years old and probably shouldn't have been running a store by myself but I just didn't think of stuff like that then. My dad was riding in his car and I was driving the one he let me use. His was an old White Cadillac Sedan, fully loaded with leather seats and air shocks so every bump felt as though you were floating on a cloud yet you could feel every bump in the road at your finger tips. I had the old Oldsmobile with beat up seats, headliner falling down covering my face while I drove. Looking back on it now I can't help but laugh envisioning a kid driving up in that old car with the shocks blown out from driving over too many speed bumps at 50 mph. We were both headed to work and it was my responsibility to get there, turn the alarm off and get the coffee started. I wanted so badly to get there ahead of my dad in order to make him proud of me. I did it. I arrived, scrambled to get my keys out of my pocket jumbling them a few times trying to get the right one in the door. The alarm went off like clockwork screaming like an ambulance siren causing panic in me, yet I remember I know the code. Check. What am I forgetting... I see dad's car coming up... The Coffee! Dad drank a pot of coffee once or twice a day and liked it black and hot. I frantically made it over to the coffee maker and got it going just in time for him to walk through the door and see the coffee pouring and the aroma gently maneuvering its way from the pot to his nose. He looked at me and said "Well done". Those words are powerful aren't they? Not just to me or every other first born child of the house, but to every human being who seeks to do well. We want our efforts to matter. We want our parents to be proud. We crave to produce in a worthy way. On some level deep within our core we desire to live in a way that is honorable. We long to have someone say to us "well done".
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Can you imagine living for hundreds of years? What would that be like? There are times when I wish I could live for thousands of years, experiencing many different eras, art, fashion and music trends in human history. It's not a new quesiton, in fact it has been explored by familiar characters many times through written works by Jonathan Swift in his illustration of the island of immortals in Gulliver's Travels, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Even more recently the idea of immortality has been portrayed in film by Stephen King's The Green Mile and vampire movies like Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight. Our culture is fascinated with the thought of everlasting life or life after death. I find it interesting how many of the best stories we have present a skewed or distorted view of a life lived over several hundred or thousand years. In fact I don't believe there are many stories at all that present an immortal life lived happily ever after. Probably because in these kinds of stories life doesn't end. They are just stories. Immortality is a difficult concept for us. Probably because we can only see the world in its current context, confined to its limitations. What if we could be free from those limitations? What if we could dream of a different kind of immortality? A life that is everlasting and abundantly filled with joy and peace. An immortal life that sets us free to run, jump, create, write, work... live. I believe that life is possible. Not just a story.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
When I was in Kindergarten my teacher had an empty glass jelly jar that sat on top of a piano, you know the kind with the tin screw on top. She told us that everyday we behaved she would put a blue marble in the jar. When the jar filled up we'd all be able to go on a picnic at the park and slide down the grass hill sitting on cardboard. So as a class we tried really hard to sit still and be quiet to acquire the marble. You can imagine thirty kindergartners trying to sit still and listen. It was really hard. I also remember having a great insatiable desire to posses the marbles in the jar. I wanted them so badly that every time I passed them as I walked by my heart would beat faster. So I took them. I took them by the fist full. Though my fists were small I still managed to deplete the jar fairly quickly. Soon enough the teacher knew someone was taking the marbles. She asked the class if they knew where they were. We all said no. Somewhere deep down inside I knew the truth would get out and I would be found out. The teacher stopped putting marbles in the jar until we found out who the culprit was. So, one day after school I let her know it was me and I brought all of the marbles back. It was one of the most humiliating situations in my life. I for some reason thought I should have what I wanted but was caught between my desires and the reality that I had been taking something that did not belong to me. The teacher was gracious and she awarded my repentance by taking the whole class out on the picnic a week after I confessed. Sometimes we struggle with owning up to the things we do that are wrong, especially when we know they are wrong. Owning up to the areas in our lives where we handle ourselves in a sub-prime manner requires something of us we don't see glorified in our culture. That is humility and repentance. Both of which require honor, respect and courage. The task of being a person who "owns up" or takes responsibility for their actions in life requires true virtue.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I've always been fascinated with gardens. Not the ones I grew as a kid of course, full of weeds and dying for lack of water. No no, the ones that are flourishing with life. The ones that have many types of vegetables, spices that produce an aromatic cloud that seems so thick you can touch it. These are the kinds of gardens I like and want to grow. I think I long to produce at least one good garden because it seems connected to my soul. Somehow there is a likeness between the gardens we plant in the ground and the gardens we plant in our souls. They both require preparation, careful planting, protection, water, maintenance, pruning and harvesting. If we unintentionally bump along not planting and not caring for the gardens we have influence over we will see no growth. If we intention to plant healthy gardens and follow through with the aspects necessary for growth, we will yield a great harvest that smells sweet (and spicy), is full of life and will be sustaining. What kind of garden are you planting?
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
It had to be the coldest and darkest thing imaginable... Absolutely nothing as far as the eye can see... No light, no heat, no color... Yet, in an instant, something happened... It happened fast and slow at the same time... Somethings were colliding exploding splattering color onto the black canvas... Land forming... Water rushing... Wind howling... Life beginning... So many things to take in... We have to blink just to gaze again... It has become the warmest and brightest thing imaginable... When I consider humanities beginnings, its origins, I can't help but let creative part of my brain run as far and fast as it possibly can. Maybe thats the world I want to live in, one thats filled with wonder, creativity and something far greater than I can possibly imagine. What kind of world to you live in?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Our desire to know can be all consuming. Perhaps British playwright Ben Jonson truly meant to warn us and not just entertain when he first penned "care will kill a cat" in 1599. The point drives the question. The point being we are far too consumed with knowledge we do not possess. The question then is "what motivates your desire to know?" Is it concern for others, fear, anger, jealousy etc.? The long and the short of it is that we should reconcile what we know about ourselves and temper our desire to know with the sober realities of our true self. Yet we are human. Humanity desires to push forward into something else, launch into the unknown or press the boundaries of the known world into the unknown. By nature we are discoverers. Something about us has shaped us in that way. Something within us beckons and pricks the creativity within. There is something within the fabric of our being that nudges us toward becoming, something, else.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Many times I come across situations where I my utmost desire is to know what lurks around the corner. I’m not sure if this is a failure to trust people or if I have hidden insecurities deep in the recesses of my soul. It is in those times I seek to find an anchor or firm thing to hold on to. It is not a secret; fear nudges these emotions much like a mother bird nudges her nestling out of the nest. Fear lurks deep within us waiting for the opportunity to thrust variant feelings into our faces so as to create a smokescreen for itself throwing us off its trail. It amazes me to see how quickly my feelings convert from fear to control. It is almost as if I have left my desire for the knowledge of whatever situation left me feeling troubled and have given in to the impulse of control in order to assuage the fear of the unknown within me. What are we so afraid of? To embrace the unknown yields a far better return than to cling to the known gripped by fear. To be Continued…