Category Archives: Relationship & Dreams

…independent will as the high dream in action…

“Walking… | Walking with you… | Walking with you… | in my Praying” – Christian Hymn, anonymous

The high dream of conscience is the “WHAT-CAN-BE” dream that fills us with hope, and purpose, and desire —  and for most of us — we take ourselves off the hook by assuming the “WHAT-CAN-BE” dream is an unreachable ideal, a vision of perfection.

But still, we can’t really let it go.  Most of us have a bad case of “the hopes.”

Conscience is a profoundly driving motivation. Why? Because the high dream of mutuality and sharing binds together our deepest feelings of security and certainty.  It’s the “peaceable kingdom” that lies behind religious aspiration.

Life loving life requires doing whatever it takes to persist; life loving life brings together security and certainty so that peace can be maintained.  And, as I mentioned earlier (see …conscience as life loving life…), life loves life – NOT the conceptions we bring to it.  The unreachable ideal, the perfect vision … they’re not the point.  It’s more about action, about the specific actions we take — given the context which our high dream offers us.

So, as I turn my focus to Independent Will, (the third of the four human endowments), I want to put some attention on the importance of action.

Creative Imagination, Conscience, Independent Will, and Awareness would have little meaning were it not for action.  And given our skepticism and desire to run away, the high dream may not disappear, but we DO lose sight of it temporarily.

Here’s an example:  John put a $1000 in the market.  He got a “hot” tip.  He rode it up some 20%, and got nervous.  He was told that this stock should double and maybe even quadruple.  But John was already anxious about losing what he earned. He tried leaving it alone, but when it reached $1,500, he sold it.  A short time later that initial investment was worth $4000.  John sold too soon.  But he was ahead in the game.   John thought to himself, “I can always try again.”

Action made the high dream come alive AND it also made John fearful.  Something could be taken away.

Yesterday morning, I read an article. It trumpeted the headline: “The new American Dream is no longer about seizing opportunity but about realizing perfection.”  The commentator distinguishes between equal opportunity (that democratic drive to treat one another equally) and perfection (that undemocratic drive to realize an outcome).

And, as the commentator pointed out, in a competitive marketplace we lose IF we fail to meet perfection.  The high dream of shared mutuality is now untouchable because the dream, itself, is no longer about people.

My immediate reaction was to ask: “Can anyone find peace in that?”  Equal opportunity offers at least some way to honor mutuality and peace – but perfection?!?

So action then, must speak to our high dream while at the same time offer some sense of humility. Perfection doesn’t offer humility. Nor does our desire to over-reach – especially when we act out against one another by choosing to over-reach.

Consider my high school senior quote: (Robert Browning) “Speak as you please, what does a mountain care? | Ah, that a man’s reach may exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.”  I have long understood that over-reaching is part of human condition.  And for better or for worse, there is a persistent sense of hunger built into our high dreams, a hunger that drives us on … searching for life’s peaceable kingdom … (or so I hope).

So what becomes of our high dream? … I guess we’ll find out.  But I will tell you this:  It has something to do with action and choice.

Independent Will, as Stephen Covey defines it, is the action we bring to bear when we exercise choice.  It’s the action we show by being resolute.  It’s the statement we make through our actions because REALLY … we have no other voice.

The peaceable kingdom (as life loving life with security and certainty) is offered to ourselves and others … or it is taken away.  And, of course, there are many ways to “be in choice.”

The hymn, quoted earlier, offers one possible way.  But be aware!  The hymn implies two simultaneous actions: “Walking… | Walking with you… | Walking with you… | in my Praying”

If we want there to be any peaceable kingdom, then “action” must include both.

Thanks for listening!


…our longing to be and Goodnight Moon…

“Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creation.” — Albert Einstein

In my last blog, I identified two meanings for the word “belong” – 1.  to be part of something, and 2. to have a feeling of ownership.  Today, I want to add a third meaning:  “a longing to be.” 

You might be wondering: “Why is this third meaning important?”  If we are part of something and if we have a feeling ownership, what’s added by this “longing to be”?  

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…trust and engagement invitations…

  “Everything starts as somebody’s daydream.” — Larry Niven 

It’s interesting how much we are drawn to the performance principle:  Do the exact right thing so we can believe we are “acceptable.”  From this perspective, acceptance is a performance piece, a simultaneous: “look at me” and “aren’t I great!” collusion.  And that pre-conceived acceptance totally ignores the trust and engagement invitation offered in the moment.

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…insistance and acceptance…

“There are precious few at ease / with moral ambiguities /so we pretend they don’t exist.”   From the musical Wicked, with lyrics by Stephen Swartz

Insisting doesn’t make it so.  You strongly believe in something.  You want people to comply with your wishes, but no one will join you.  What do you do?

To win an argument, you try to discover what your audience will respond to.   You base your arguments around what they find persuasive.  But they sense the tone of our insistence.  They still don’t join.  You seem too invested.  So, now what do you do?

Responsively, you offer them series of potential options, being careful to include only the ones that feel right to you.  They are not persuaded.  Your bargaining feels less than genuine.  They ask you: “Why can’t you accept what we want?”

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…a question of priority…

“Getting in touch with your true self must be your first priority.” — Tom Hopkins

There are a lot of gags that start with “your money or your life…”  And what’s true about all of them is that our priorities quite often becomes convoluted and even reversed.  “The good I would do , but I do not”  becomes the common refrain when we undermine our most heartfelt intentions by needlessly misunderstanding “the-game-we-are-in.” 

This phenomena goes by “mighta,” “woulda,” “coulda.”   Second guessing what might have happened if  only we had done whatever it was we didn’t.  That’s not the only way.  We could exercise mindful discernment using “choose, respond, and change.” 

Let’s look at a few examples:

Elizabeth – A woman seeking her fortune in a male-dominated profession.  She feels compelled to out do her peers.  She works long hours, sits on many boards, speaks at conferences when she can.  She’s also a mom to two children.  Supermom and super manager.  She puts in well over 80-hours per week.  Not much time for any extras.  Maxed out and running on fumes.

Steve –  Eight years out of college he served as a community organizer with an inner-city minority.  He had no income.  His organization took care of him.  All of his associates were like family.  Their mission was his mission.  But he became disillusioned by what he saw.  People did not live up to the ideal.  So he left.  Now he works with a multi-national organization and making over $150,000 per year.  But the disparity within his community still eats at him and he sometimes longs for what he had.

Lois – Ten years on the job and she just plain hates her work.  She does the absolute minimum to get by but does that so well that she really could never be fired.  She has accepted the perks and the benefits, but it all still translates into boredom.  After-hours variety just doesn’t seem to take away dullness that has creeped into her life.  She wants to get out of the “rut” but feels trapped the gilded cage of the job.  Too much to lose, she fears.

This list could go on.  We’ve all experienced some version of these stories.  Like Goldilocks,  our work lives are just never quite right AND unlike Goldilocks, we never feel compelled to actually make a change.  If we only accommodate enough well then everything works out.  Or so we hope.

So what does this have to do with “choose, respond, and change” or with “mindful discernment”?  What are these people failing to tap into?

If we go back to clarification dilemmas, everyone is failing to pay attention to the waking reveries they have.  Those daydreams that push them beyond the here and now.  Discernment in large measure is about those reveries.  Discernment is one of our natural endowments, but only when we listen using all four of primary endowments.

Self-awareness presents itself in the reverie, in how we choose and respond in the moment.  Creative Imagination and Conscience are present in our mindfulness; we become open to seeing more than just the obvious and the routine. And finally, Independent Will  is our willingness to act and put ourselves into the environment, just to test things out. 

Of course, habit and stubbornness are the culprits.  We fail to break free because we walk away from the challenge mindful change and discernment.  We do not pass the test of open-ended engagement.

Thanks for listening!

…memory or imagination…

“Childhood flows from many springs…[it would be] futile to construct its geography [or] to write its history.” — Gaston Bachelard

The oppositional pairing of “memory or  imagination” might be considered the originating clarification dilemma.  Here is the central dynamic associated with figuring out “where-we-are-at” at any moment in our lives.  Remember:  The point of judgment clarification is to try to figure out “where-we-are-at” so that we can move forward in a direction that is consistent with who we are.

And it all turns on faithfulness: how faithful is our “imagistic” imagination to what is really important to us?  If values and beliefs are critical to moving forward, then being genuine with our imagination is critical.  Memory stifles imagination by creating unchangeable references. As a result, we give up our freedom by trying to relive the past, when all we really want is what imagination provides to us in any case.    The part becomes the whole prospectively through image value and imagination.

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