There is genius in a glance

We measure “smarts” by books and discoveries. Einstein was smart because he was good at science. So was Newton. The mathematical genius of these men was unrivaled. But I actually think there’s a whole another type of genius: nonverbal communication.

Certainly the brain is working harder when it is allowed to just be and see, than when it is made to compute. What’s 2 times 2? Who cares! That does not get my mind going. Perhaps this is why I am no mathematician and never really was. My point is that there is more than one aspect to the mind; more than the computational intellect.

There is the emotional mind, which is what we use to perceive reality. And it is at its best when it is just allowed to be and see. You can’t really bring the soul out by force, when you tell it to or when you want it to. One becomes a good observer by simply observing. Observe your reality. Observe those around you. And you will see that when you look at people, their skin changes. It literally contains the workings of their mind.

The face is a mirror to the workings of the mind. When you focus in on someone, they will have more focus. Their mind will come to their face. Emotions are communicable. What you feel is felt by others around you.

Newton and Einstein may have been the world’s best “calculators”, but were they the best “nonverbal communicators”? No, everyone can be a good nonverbal communicator. All one needs to do is to let his emotions show. Sometimes, we don’t, we won’t, because we’re shy or don’t trust others! But at other times, we can become “emotionally outgoing” whether with someone on the bus, at a café or walking down the street. In that case, we have made a friend, even if it is a friend we never said one word to, or even made direct eye contact with.

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Essay on a religious retreat

Pilgrim Hills Retreat, Berlin, Ohio

January 2016

What I liked about the retreat was the conversation. Here we were four people in the middle of nowhere, with no TV and no radio. So the questions becomes: “How are we to pass the time?” By engaging in conversation! Meaningful discussion. I am inclined to believe that because we “removed technology” the quality of conversation and discussion improved. I also learned, through experience, what the meaning of a retreat is. It is literally, a retreat from modern society into a “simpler time,” a time without technology.

Some of the things we talked about were philosophical in nature. For example, we talked about the idea of always wanting more. More money, more success, more riches. And how always wanting more is problematic because it makes you feel you don’t have enough. I am an author and that can be a problem: wanting more book sales, more popularity, more success. And it feels like you have too little. That’s a trap to be avoided. The temptation of always wanting more.

The first evening we read some psalms, one from the bible and a few written by regular people. I am struck by the positivity of these psalms. And the humility. And the imagery: “I am like a tree planted by a river… with leaves that are always green.” And I am also struck by the faith that the writers has. They truly believe in God. “God save me! I need your help,” says another one. And when I say they believe in God, I mean they believe in the power of God to help them, as opposed to just the existence of God. To believe as in to have faith in God. As opposed to be scientific about the facts of God. As a religious person I have faith that God exists and wants to help me. I don’t know that God exists. I can’t prove it. But that’s not what religion is all about. It’s about believing. And by practicing religion we cultivate the capacity for belief. Because, just like with everything else, if we stop doing it, we lose our skill to do it. This retreat taught me to practice my religion. It gave me practice.

The next evening we discussed the gospel of Luke. One passage that I am reminded of is “Love your enemies.” This to me is the most essential of Christ’s teaching. And we discussed how hard it can be to love your enemies. It’s easier said than done. And now that I think about it, did Jesus love his enemies? I don’t know. I don’t think it was easy for Christ to love his enemies; certainly it was no easier for him to do so than for any of us. But he tried to love his enemies. But let’s not assume that goodness was easy for Christ. I think it was just as easy for him to be bad as for us. But Jesus was good, because he valued goodness. And I’m sure Jesus made mistakes. But he never gave up the path of goodness. And he preached for us to walk the same path in life. It is hard to be good. It’s not a paved road. It’s bumpy and full of rocks. But it leads to the right place. I am struck by the fact that there have been several teachers who have made it their life’s work to: “show humanity how to live.” Christ, Mohammad, Buddha. Life does not come with an instruction manual. These leaders have written a manual for life. Religion is an instruction manual for life. And in all of these religions goodness and benevolence is paramount.

One other passage we talked about is “ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.” I love this passage. It shows the power of positive thinking. Then Dr. Padberg mentioned another Greek translation that says in fact, “keep asking and it will be given you, keep searching and you will find.” This in my mind throws an entirely different light on the matter. It emphasizes persistence. In life, you have to keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking. There is no way the door will open with one knock. Life is about perseverance and persistence.

This retreat showed me that religion has some of the same ideas I already believe in:  1. positive thinking, 2. goodness and 3. perseverance. If it’s in the Bible, it’s got authority! So I believe the early thinkers of our times, knew what we know, and valued what we value. They put it in the good book. And that’s why the Bible has survived for two millennia because it preaches the lessons of positivity, goodness and perseverance. These lessons have survived the test of time.

 

they don’t know what it takes to get to

The above quote was suggested to me by Pitbull, whose music and lyrics have traits of motivation. Let us talk a little bit about that quote. There is an undeniable truth in it. Nobody knows what it takes to get to the top, because nobody sees the guts; they only see the glory.

The guts are ugly! Nobody wants to see them. Nobody wants to see the journey travelled from the bottom of the mountain to the top. And that is the journey that the aspiring artist/musician/writer must travel alone. This is the time when nobody is buying your stuff, and nobody is showing up to your concerts. That’s guts. To show up, when nobody else is, when you’re the only one who cares about your work; when there’s no inspiration from the audience. Because there is no audience! That’s when it takes courage to put one foot forward in front of the other, and trudge forth, and climb your way to the top of your mountain.

When we watch awards shows we only see the glory. We see recognition for success. And we think “Hey I wanna be on stage! I wanna be recognized for being a great success.” But that’s the tip of the ice berg. 99% of the ice berg  is beneath the ocean; it’s all effort, largely unrecognized, used to propel that 1% of achievement into the stage of recognition.

The audience just wants to see the polished and finished product, the shining star.  They don’t want to see how the star was made. They don’t want know how the star was made. But the artist knows how he was made, what he put himself through, often what life put him through, against his will, on his way to the top of his career. But then again, it’s the work itself that keeps you going; recognition for living your dream is a nice bonus.

They don’t know what it takes to get to… Until you triumph!

 

 

The weight kept me strong

My brother is a doctor, a resident actually who is training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. Well, he lives in a small apartment in downtown Chicago and he does not have a car. For Christmas my parents and I went over to Chicago to spend it with him. My story begins here. One morning, my dad, my brother and I got out to buy some shoes for me. I needed some new shoes, and so since he does not have a car, we have to walk to the shoe store.  Anyway, first we went to one store but I found nothing there I liked so we had to walk to another store. There’s hardly any parking in downtown Chicago. Well, anyway I found the shoes I liked at the Puma store. They were some shiny new sneakers, very good shoes. Anyway, after that we had to walk back to my brother’s place to drop them off at his apartment.  Then my brother, my dad and I decide to go out for lunch. We asked my mom to come, but she said she was tired. So anyway, we walk over to Giordano’s Pizzeria which is famous for Chicago deep dish pizza. We got a seat, ordered our food and we had to wait like forty five  minutes, because if you’ve never had it,  let  me tell you  that Chicago deep dish is some  serious  stuff. You can’t cook that crust in ten minutes. Apparently it takes forty five minutes. Well, that’s what we were told. Anyway, the place was busy and lively and we were having a pretty good time.  Then our pizza came, which is astonishing to look at, by the  way. The slices are so thick, and  it’s  all mozzarella. I bet you could get full on just one slice.  You can’t really pick those slices up.  I had to use a fork and a knife most of the time. I ate one slice, and then I went in for the second one, and let me tell you it was not easy, but I did it.  Slowly but surely, I managed to eat two full slices and I was stuffed to the brim by that time. We got up to  go and we walked outside, and I was feeling  rather tired by that point.  We had spent the whole day out and I wanted to go back home and rest. At that point my brother and dad tell me that now we were going grocery shopping. I was tired and my body was aching.

So we go over to the grocery store and do a full size shopping.  All  the while, I am thinking: how in the world are we going to carry all this stuff back to the apartment. I was feeling tired, and well to be honest with you, my body was aching all over. Well, anyway we did our shopping, paid for our groceries and divided the bags up. My brother and my dad carried two bags each. And I was given one bag to carry. And I thought to myself: how am I going to carry this heavy bag all the way back home. My body’s aching and I have got no energy  left. Well, I didn’t say anything to my brother or my dad because they had their hands full. They were carrying two bags each.

So then we start walking, with me feeling fatigued and completely out of sorts, and still not sure how I would walk all the way back home. But then something really strange happened. Instead of the bag on my hand weighing me down, it kept me strong. This is true. All the way home on that walk I kept repeating to myself: the weight kept me strong. How? You may ask. Well, what happened is that the weight of the bag, took attention away from my body which was aching and concentrated it all on objective, all one goal: carrying that bag. And because it was my responsibility to carry that bag home, I found the strength to meet that responsibility. Not only that, but this strength was powerful enough to overcome the aches and pains I had in my body and it me feel better about myself. Later I had to go home and rest of course.

My challenge to you is for you to find a weight that keeps you strong. Remember it has to have purpose. If it’s dead weight, it’s of no use, no purpose. Let go, and find something that keeps you strong. Good luck and keep going!

(excerpted from my speech Good Luck!)

 

motivational quotes 3/3/17

If you are depressed now, don’t give up. Look at the long view and take comfort in the bright future that lies ahead.

Don’t expect your whole day to be good, but if your whole day is bad, then you have a problem.

You can’t quit! You can’t give up!

 Never underestimate the healing power of humor.

If you could change one thing about yourself, change your attitude!

Happiness is spontaneous and is unexpected;

Happiness cannot be induced.

Happiness cannot be planned for.

Spontaneity is the spirit.

Live spontaneously.

the thinking of observation

Let us imagine this scenario. You are out and about in society, let’s say, at a restaurant or a cafe, in downtown of wherever you live, your city. And your lunch mate, your friend, has gotten up and left the table, and you are left alone…alone with your thoughts…but you are not thinking. There is nothing you are thinking about. You are eating your sandwich, drinking your pop, and looking around the room, the walls, the ceiling, the other people, and out the window. But there are no thoughts in your head. Does this mean you are not thinking? No! You are thinking. You are thinking without language. You are thinking with your face when you observe. You are thinking with your hands, when you move them. You are thinking with your arms, when you move them and with you are thinking with your eyes when you look closely.

Language is not the only means of thinking. Observation-without language-is a form of thinking. To observe is to think. It is to think about what you are looking at. The people and the place, and yourself. Who you are, what you are doing and the way you look. To know the way you look is a form of thinking. Without language. Unintellectual. And so we may be tempted to label it as unintelligent. But it is nevertheless profound…it can be, if you are able to look carefully. To see the full picture of reality. The full restaurant, the full scene out the window, the full aspect of your fellow creatures surrounding you and your full self.

motivational quotes 11/11/16

The happiest moment of the day may not come at the party. It may come on the way there or the way back.

It’s never too late.

Part of me knows I’m growing too old (Kongos)

Elect good leaders

Look beyond yourself

Every idiot is a savant

It doesn’t matter where you live. It matters what you do.

You can’t make people like you, but you can like them -david garcia