MODERN ESSAYS OF ENLIGHTENMENT
WORDS FOR THE VULNERABLE AND THE VENERABLE
BY PHILIP GABBARD
We can’t change the past and the future is unknown, so we should just concentrate on living today to the best of our ability.
Michel de Montaigne, the world’s first personal essayist, wrote, “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
Each and every one of us possesses the raw materials from which to shape ourselves into exactly who and what we wish to be. That requires let-ting go of the past and all its baggage: fear, loss, doubt, remorse, shame, mistakes, pain. It demands our accepting that we have no knowledge, nor a prescribed way, into the future. Tomorrow is the great unknown.
Live today to the very best of our ability.
Learning to unlearn the conformity traps that face each of us and shifting his perspective accordingly, Gabbard finds himself in pursuit of a more mindful path. With clearer thoughts built from a new construct of words and meanings, we—can experience deep, profound, lasting change and have better moments, days, weeks, months, and years—one day at a time.
THISday is not a how-to or advice book. Nor is it a self-help treatise, learning to help himself through the lenses of perspective and passionate pursuit of understanding.
Words define and shape everything we do, impact every sensory perception, and determine every outcome.
Choosing, as the French say, le mot juste can make all the difference in the quality of human interactions.
Gabbard ponders how words are evoked from both external as well as internal sources. Words, spoken or thought, lead to more thoughts, which in turn guide our beliefs, actions, personal growth, and life experiences. Our best experiences occur today, and only today, by our choice; not by luck, destiny, or the favour of the universe; not even by prayer. Our choices are the linchpins to lifelong happiness and success, self-empowerment, meaningful personal and professional relationships, self-discovery, overcoming depression, and personal breakthroughs. Our choices are predicated on our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, and they are always built from words. Get the words right, and you get the right thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions. Get them wrong, disaster.
That living a rewarding and meaningful life is only possible by focusing on life as it is today. By choosing this sharp, well-defined, narrow focus—ignoring the effluvia of yesterday and the pointless wondering about tomorrow—his consciousness grows and rises to ever higher levels.
Embracing personal change and centering ourselves in THISday.
Because change is the prerequisite, we must open up ourselves to challenge the aforementioned assumptions, beliefs, habits, attitudes.
Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.
The internal battle with the ego to break through to the other side of all the egoistic ramparts we have constructed for ourselves.
THISday evokes a newfound bravery with our words, our communication within our consciousness of mind, mouth, and moment. When we are stopped, shut down, afraid, insecure, or otherwise held back from doing and saying what needs to be said and done, bravery must rise and prevail. When our thoughts, beliefs, words—most of them learned from timeworn social norms—throw up barriers, we will need new thoughts, new words, new actions, and a large dose of bravery to break through to a higher consciousness.
Like life, it’s random; there is a beginning and an end, what happens in between is simply chunks of experience, phantom fears, choice. But fear no more suffering, and suffer no more from your fear of conformity, as you will likely survive this day.
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
—A. A. Milne
It is my favorite day because it is the only day I can do something about.
“Who am I? We are all a lot of things, aren’t we? Am I a man, a father, or a son? I am poor. I am wealthy. I am a husband. A friend. I am old, and I am young. I am a memory for some and a future for others. I am a face in the crowd, or an old photo . . . lost. I am a writer, a thinker, a creator, a client, a peddler, a mentor, and an advisor. I am a cheerleader. I am a player. I am everything to some. And I am nothing to most.
This is THISday. So for now, I am THISday. I am just like you. I am reborn daily until my last. I am open, and I am vulnerable, because I am present. I choose THISday because it’s where the right here and the right now can affect every action a human being is capable of, as there are no capable actions in THISyesterday or THIStomorrow. So, I have decided this now, that is Who I Am.”
Hypocrisy and Ignorance are nearly impossible to self-diagnose.
FEAR of judgment. For most of us, fear management is a daily, hourly, and even a moment-by-moment reality, whether you are conscious of it or not.
FOMO—the Fear Of Missing Out. Fear of loss, unfulfilled needs, wants, and missed opportunity.
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt,” said William Shakespeare.
“Our fears now grow like sun-drenched wildflowers in the fertile
meadows of our souls.” I mean . . . “Our Fears Are Running Rampant!”
I have found more things to love as I let go of my wanting to be liked.
But I do not want to be like anyone anymore. I have tried. And I am quitting that, too.
I can no more fear the attempt, and therefore, I shall quit no more.
Quit quitting, or quit comparing our efforts to be “liked.” Enjoy the magic you make
The Roman poet Juvenal first wrote that there was not a more uncommon thing in the world than common sense.
Artists are authentic, vulnerable, and real. And if they had not spoken, writ-ten, or sang, then who would they be? Where would they be? Would they be fighting the critics, those traitors whose opinions matter to so few? And if they conceded to the conformists, would they be invisible, like those of us who stay in line and not speak up or out? Would they be like those of us who feel quashed or tamped down by those who appear to be on a rung above us, wielding some semblance of power over us? No, these artists took a path that most would rather skip; they bucked the norms, and each played, read, and sang their words to anybody who would listen.
Belong to the Pursuit, and Not to the Tribe and enlightenment will be yours to find.
That’s how early life goes. We model and mimic. We do as we are told, wait our turn, and make single file lines. We are formed to conform. Then later on, typically, they don’t tell you what to do anymore. You should know better now. The formal educations are complete—another brick in the wall. Real life begins. The game is on. Compete.
How is the game going for you? How deep into the game are you? What is the objective of this game? And, that person, you know, the one perceived to be a rung above us, well, what if that person is inexperienced, incompetent, or just a plain idiot?
The game plays on, as it forever will.
Whatever game it is, we have a choice. We can watch it. Get out of it. Or play it better.
All You Have Is Because Someone Spoke Up. All You Don’t Have Is
Because Someone Has Not.
So the question remains: “How do we play the game better?” As we ripen and age, we undoubtedly gain perspective. Most perspectives are simply hidden from our sight and our thoughts, only revealed in time—our own time. Some of us don’t ask for others’ perspectives, but people want to hand them out to you, like a pamphlet or a meme you happen across.
My dad told me to “not take advice from someone more messed up than you.” I laughed. Then one day, I realized my dad was right! He had perspective.
To win, and to create winning for self and others, is a matter of new and varied views, lenses, and perspectives. Without them, we know and understand less and less while our minds atrophy. It isn’t until we embrace a pursuit of understanding that we are free to unlearn conformity. As we do, we may relearn that every story we were told is invalid, in error, or told with leveraged untruths.
First, you get the words,
- then you get the thoughts,
- then you get the feelings,
- the perspectives,
- the mind-body-spirit,
- the friends, the family,
- the wealth, the health & the life.
Perspective is the power of focus, and it’s coachable. It’s a skill set
All senses can zoom in and out with our intent focus. Focus is an extremely important and innate human tool. Each of us has the varied ability to focus with a precision that allows us to complete tasks with expedience, efficiency, and accuracy. Our motor skills allow us to function in near-autopilot mode while we concentrate on more detailed thoughts or actions. Make a specific request of others to find something so specific that it detracts from all other distractions.
The advent of the Phoropter in 1920 forever changed humankind and our ability to see with clear vision throughout our life-time. That is a big deal, even though we feel it is no big deal anymore.
But knowing perspective and having perspective are way different animals. So, too, is “giving” perspective and “offering” perspective. It seems, sometimes, our perspectives get stuck and we lose sight of what we have, and what we can gain with new perspective.
Knowing is a lens we all have. We all see through a knowing lens every day. We know red means stop and green means go. We know not to put our hand on a hot stove. Knowing is experiential. We know a lot. We know what we know, and we even know what we don’t know. But none of us doesn’t know what we don’t know, right?
We love knowing. We dislike not knowing.
Knowing and the want for knowing is a never-ending rabbit hole to explore as we all want to “know what we know.” But knowing is just one perspective.
I now know that perspective is perpetual, yet experiential and therefore temporary, or momentary. I know now, it takes conscientious work to keep perspective in perspective. It is both personal and not personal. And I now know that not all people who see, seek. Not all people who hear, listen. Where you are in the game is a subjective perspective. What you see and feel has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. However, unchecked, those who don’t seek, get blindsided.
Vulnerability or honesty,
Can also be your key to ultimate freedom and pathway to a place called “enlightenment.”
Meaning is to Understanding what Wanting is to Having
Like all things known and understood, once you know love, you cannot not know it.
Who is your cheerleader?
Who is your worst critic?
The answer to question #1 should be YOU.
The answer to question #2 is also YOU, but it is that other voice in your head that sounds like you but is definitely NOT YOU.
We all are cheerleaders. And not just to our kids. We cheer for friends and bosses, for politicians and strangers. We support, vote for, give advice to, love, empathize with, and shout for others. That is what we are: cheerleaders for all those we care about.
Outside of ourselves (we are utterly awful at cheering for ourselves),
“Rock bottom will teach you lessons that mountaintops never will.”
Cheerleaders don’t cheer for you; they cheer for themselves.
Give yourself a break from “thinking”
Just Be. Then Just Do. If you can Just Be and Just Do, you will have IT. BEing,
BEcause, BElong, and BEfore. Got it? “Be” is a point of singularity. “BE is the present,
also, as in the presence. The place that you need to be BEfore the action, BEfore any-thing can begin, YOU are the point of singularity.
It’s also like peace of mind. Like mental calmness. Focus. Clarity. Inner Zen.
Then there is the “DO.” DO is the action, without reason. DO is not a decision.
It’s the DOing of that thing that needs DOing. It is what Nike was getting at when they said, “Just DO it!”
Quit fucking around and go BE who you want to BE.
BE a student. And if you want, BE a good one.
BE a good worker.
BE a good friend.
BE a good son.
BE fun, funny, loving, grateful, giving, and graceful.
BE that guy.
CHOOSE to BE whatever.
Then DO that DOing that needs DOing.
You are your word, and you are where you are because of the WORDS you use, and choose to believe.
We all also see through an understanding lens every day.
Same game, new lens. Respect is also a lens that we all have. We all see through a respect lens from time to time.
Discovery can be exhilarating and confronting. Perspective lens changes can cause seismic shifts in thought and create aha-making machines. And perspective shifts can build barriers.
Perspective changes have forged nations, social movements, and productive benefits for humankind.
I can always seek argument, critique and wrongness.
Or, I can always find what is good, right and kind. For it is the hypocrite who knows no shame from judgement.
Our world is about CHOICE and free will. And it should NOT be thought of as a world predicated on judgment and division. And THISday, like this very day, should not be subjected to and sentenced by our histories and experiences. That is YESTERDAY . . . of which we cannot change.
Heaven and hell should not be a tomorrow thought, either—or a futuristic place you get to go someday in the future as determined by all the days in your past.
As we aspire to awareness and awaken in THISday, with your free will you can choose to be in heaven or in hell right now. Heaven and hell is a NOW place. It is here in real time, and you can have it now, in real time, if you choose it.
You can choose joy, exuberance and contentment, kindness, compassion, and caring—the embodiment of what I believe heaven to be— because you can create and manifest your heaven now.
You are HERE, YOU ARE NOW . . . YOU ARE THISday! The place that yesterday envies and tomorrow longs for . . . Choose it. Choose to fill it with all of the heavenly goods you can conjure. Whatever your belief, you can believe in THISday: the place where you can give.
Think, thank, welcome, learn, play, laugh, sing, love, seek and share, honour, respect, and connect.
That sounds like heaven to me. Verbal communication provides boundless opportunity. It provides speed, intonation, and immediacy as some of its most significant advantages. Other benefits of verbal communication are, or can be, its emotionality, its one-on-one directness, and the human connection factor of being eye to eye, or the positive feeling derived from being heard or communicated with. It also packs the expediency to instantly fire words at will—geez, what a gift is speech? Most of us can be armed to launch a verbal onslaught in a moment’s notice like a crazed man with a hair trigger and an itchy finger. The fact that we can speak nearly three times faster than the average person can write and comprehend is amazing, and environmentally friendly—and entirely worth-less when the crazed man fires his mouth off before he thinks!
Written communication provides boundless opportunity, structure, and control of the message. Its permanency was a game-changer. History can be written. Treaties can be signed, and love letters can be sealed with a kiss and last forever. The special caveats of written communication can be both advantageous and limiting, interdependent upon its situational environs. While its permanence can deliver its message for all of its existence, its meaning can be interpreted with a high degree of variance.
You are your word, and it is your world.
The word “stoic,” which is derivative to Zeno principle philosophies, defines one who holds fortitude without complaint.
Freedom and happiness are only achieved when NO judgment exists; instead, man only needs to suspend doubt and replace it with a perpetual inquiry.
Are we only the sum total of what has now been written and said of us?
In 2017, YouTube reported that four hundred hours of video content was being added every minute. Google performs 3.8 million searches per minute. It is widely accepted that more information is uploaded and made available on Google and YouTube in just one day than was available in all of history prior to the advent of the internet.
Yes, Thoughts become things, but it is our words that become our thoughts, feelings and choices.
Understanding that I can have different thoughts. I can choose better words, different words, in order to evoke different and better outcomes.
Drop both expectation and outcome.
When we communicate, we unintentionally apply pressure upon others.
Listen, if you can be your WORD, then can you not be ANYTHING you want to be?
Five Questions to Ask Yourself
- At the intersection of THISmoment and you, who will you be?
- At the intersection of THISproblem and you, who will you be?
- At the intersection of THISday and you, who will you choose to be?
- At the intersection of THISyear and you, who will you seek to be?
- At the intersection of THISlife and you, who will you proclaim to be?
Thinking about these questions allows me to calm down and consider more wisely how my words can be better received and understood, as well as what impact they would have and which out-comes would result from those words.
Thank God for Unanswered Prayers
Get the words Right…
and the right thoughts will follow.
and the right feelings will follow.
and the right mind will follow.
and the right body will follow.
and the right spirit will follow.
and the right people will follow.
Our words, both spoken and received by our brain, coupled with our recall ability and effectiveness (or actionability) of those words, have given us our position in life. Our place in the game. In other WORDS, you are where you are today because of things said and heard, and the feelings and meanings of those things said and heard, what those things said and heard really meant, and what you believed them to mean. You are where you are by choice. By accepting words, both used and received. You are likely not helpless. You are likely not a victim. You are likely not stuck. Your words (said and heard) can affect the position in life that you and others hold. When your words (said, heard, and believed) change, your position changes, your view changes.
When people talk: Our brains are in a hurry—and we can lose track of a conversation. We jump ahead, or we anchor on a word, or we check out—and we don’t listen.
We hear just fine, but we often don’t listen too well. Think about it. When you’re in conversation with another person, are you really listening to what they’re saying, hearing and thinking and emotionally reacting to their words? Or are you processing only on the periphery of the conversation, just waiting to jump back in and speak?
If I believe in you, that means you and I have believed your words. If I don’t believe in you it is because I have not.
Do you hear and honor and understand the words of another attempting to connect with you?
Our comprehension of “understanding and meaning” must evoke our intent. Our intent is the act of listening. Our listening needs to be made present and actively engaged.
The opposite of understanding is ignorance. I’m not sure how “ignorance” became such an offensive word, but think of this more like the word “ignore.” So, not so much as in the word “dumb”—but more like forgetting to “care” about understanding one another or understanding another’s point they were trying to make.
Symptoms are to Cure what Thoughts are to Words
Listening is a sensory thing. Like seeing, tasting, smelling, touching.
When we smell something . . .
When we touch something . . .
When we taste something . . .
When we see something . . .
We first identify. We match. We sort. We source. We ingest. We determine. We savor. When we hear something, it’s a bit different. With sound. It’s primal. Unlike our other senses, our sound sensory never rests. We can close our eyes and not see. We can shut our mouths and not taste. We do not always smell. And we are not always sensing touch.
But listening is different from hearing. This very moment, I am present to my hearing. The keyboard clicks. Street noise. The heater. The hearing sensory is always on. However, I called my listening into the present. Now my awareness of hearing is heightened. And I can now actively identify, match, and sort the source of what I heard. That presence I called into my hearing sensory—that’s called listening.
When we don’t listen well, we miss the meaning, the message. We miss out on what’s most important. We miss the opportunity be eloquent and simple with words. Poetic, even. Well-chosen, well-expressed words change the world. Like a great song, our words can last. Especially when the words we are listening to are our own.
Language is key to our emotional happiness. When we stop learning to advance our communicative abilities, our verbal skills atrophy. A disease of language can fester. Chronic ignorance, chronic stupidity . . . yes, you have seen it. It runs rampant. Untreated, it causes people to repeat words and reach for toxic adverbs that don’t measure up to the word choices that could have changed the message, or the moment.
Get the words Wrong…and the wrong thoughts will follow and the wrong feelings will follow. and the wrong mind will follow. and the wrong body will follow. and the wrong spirit will follow. and the wrong people will follow.
“Trying harder” isn’t the solution to achieving more. Sometimes, it’s a big part of the problem.
“If you stake your hopes of getting what you want on just trying harder than ever, you may kill your chance to succeed.” Simply let go of your old ways and follow a known method of success and abundance. It will be like a quantum leap in effort and results.
Working with “thirsty” folks is very frustrating. They will try anything once and move on. They passively listen and look for the next big “thing” that will get them to abundance. These are the ones who keep digging for their water everywhere, trying this spot and that spot, and never breaking through. Said another way, these are the people who continuously dig one-foot wells a hundred times over, instead of digging a one-hundred-foot well one time! It’s the same amount of digging, right?
THIS story is about work, friends, love, time, life, and making a difference by creation of our actions. When we learn, the effort becomes effortless. It is the same with talking, listening, learning, and understanding. It’s not about trying or working harder. Working hard is for the uninformed and the “unwoke.” If we can unlearn that hard work equals success, and acknowledge that all work is just that . . . it’s work. Listening is work, and so is understanding. Love and friendships and life in general can be so hard for some, and effortless for others.
Fate did NOT bring us together . . . Our words have. Words, thoughts, and the seismic SHIFTS we can leverage with our mindful perspectives—that is what brings us together.
Those fantastic circumstances, at the core, are the result of our words, of our thoughts, and of what we have chosen those words and thoughts to mean. It is ULTIMATELY a personal choice . . . judged by YOU, not your parents, your partner, your neighbour. You choose your life because you choose the words and the thoughts, and therefore you choose the outcome. You choose your circumstances. You are neither victim nor hostage to them, though . . . they are NOT your fate.
Choose good words, choose good thoughts, and have a positive acceptance of everything.
The hardest thing about enlightenment is that Hypocrisy hates confrontation
“If a person is nice to you, but not nice to the waiter, they are not a nice person.”
Align Words With Thoughts, and Thoughts Will Win All.
There is an old and solemn oath in the medical profession,
“Before you heal someone, ask them if they are willing to give up the things that made them sick.” And there’s another oath for medical practitioners, called the Hippocratic oath, that says “do no harm.”
Are you willing to give up the things that made you sick?
Start THINKING and SAYING things a little differently, listening more carefully, and showing up more frequently. LITTLE THINGS HAPPEN that are WAY different and WAY better than you just sitting at your desk thinking you are too busy to be bothered by a dog.
Get the right words, get the right cure.
We are addicted to BUSY. Busy rules us in such a conniving way, laying waste to our “human” connectedness for the sake of money, or position, or some other accolade. It twists our priorities and bends our light, making us believe that we can excuse what’s important, for expediency to a much freer “someday,” where you will get to have all the warm and loving and special moments with all your loved ones, with all your time and riches to spend on them, too. It’s a pipe dream. No words can be scripted to upstage action.
Real words, real listening, and real acts of connectedness speak volumes to others. You want different outcomes? Different words, different listening, different vulnerabilities, different ideas, different outcomes. Slow down in a fast world and you will stand out. You will savour more. Save more. Live more. Enliven more. Honour more. Guilt less.
Not guiltless, just less guilt.
To hell with your ego! Your ego is the asshole. You are not.
You are no more the Victim as you are the Powerless.
People won’t buy anything that they don’t believe will solve their problems or serve their self-interests of being richer, faster, or thinner.
Perspective can keep us in the know and in the now. Perspective can unstick us and assist us and protect us from being pushed down or passed by. By the simple fact that perspectives generate questions, and thoughts and conversations create space for all of us to fit in and participate in creating our life and our days with venerable purpose.
New lenses aren’t new. They are just new to you because you hadn’t changed your lens. With new lenses you can see, seek, and experience new, better, and different aspects and potentials of life. New, better, and different thoughts.
Questions. Ideas. Beliefs. You can find better words. Create different moments, bettter days. Better weeks, months, years . . . and lives.
Unleash yourself. Unleash your most powerful weapon: your words. Think something. Say something. Be Something. Do Something. Have Something. Change something. Change your lens, change your perspective. Participate. Change the world. What are your lenses?
You have talked yourself into this… You can talk yourself through this…
You get to choose your words. You don’t get to choose the outcome of your words. You can make better use of your words to give you a better shot at changing the conversation so as to change the feeling, change the opportunity, change the level of mediocracy.
Allow the journey to be its own story.
Life is not a gumball machine. It’s more like a slot machine. Life is about investing in people, and a place where a word or two—shared, understood, clarified with heartfelt sincerity—will almost certainly pay a lifetime of dividends and break barriers. It is trust built over time.
Enlightenment: May be more about the Un-learning
No one who cheers for you could ever make a difference in your life more than you could by just cheering for yourself.
THIS life will not get better when other things get better. THIS life gets better when you get better.
Woke words are worth more than a thousand pictures
Good words, good thoughts, good feelings, good friends, good family, good life.
Change the meaning of my story
The things we tell ourselves aren’t absolute truths. Neither are the things other people tell us. And for that matter, the things we tell others can be pretty messed up, too.
I’ve found that, in general, making people happy feels good. I feel good; they feel good. Add to that, when I feel good, and they feel good, better things happen. I’ve even tested that theory and found that, in general, making people unhappy feels bad. I feel bad; they feel bad. When that happens, better things do not happen. It’s amazing what we can do when we feel good.
Can you make other people feel good? Can you make yourself feel good? Can you make people feel bad? Can you make yourself feel bad? Of course you can—with just words. And others can do it to you. You know this.
Words are what will navigate your path and your future.
The small things add up and become big. Small good things and small bad things equally add up. They don’t add up just using addition; no, THIS was multiplication. With compounding interest.
Statistically speaking, if we improve our behaviors, our rewards will grow. Our problems, our let-downs, our depressions were smaller. Our highs were higher—money, luck, love, fun, happiness—everything! THIS-day was better.
You are in this game, and you are in a fight for your life, daily. Your yesterday may have been a tough round, but you survived.
No other species on this planet aspires for “tomorrow” or for a “someday,” except us.
In our nonfictional life, we cannot add one more thing to yesterday, nor can we write for tomorrow. We cannot write anything but today, THISday—it is the only thing we can change. Your yesterday is now fiction because how you tell that chapter is laden with layers of lies, half-truths, and subjective rhetoric. Your tomorrow is forever fictional, full of hopes, and someday wishful thoughts and prayers for something new and different. THISday is your only day for truth.
Theodore Roosevelt’s most famous “Man In The Arena”
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
The journey does not require sacrifice or suffering. Neither do your stories.
If the words that come out of our mouths are determined by what goes into our minds, then truly, what becomes of our days is determined by what we put into them. Gar-bage in, garbage out. Kind thoughts in, kind thoughts out. Hate in, hate out. Love in, love out.
The pursuit IS the journey. What a journey it is, and may we never find the end of ours. Instead, let us take care of the journey, and let our experiences, our perspective, and the love we give to consume us and transform us to live THISmoment, THISday, THIStime, THISonetime, THISweek, THISmonth, THISyear, THISlife, THISchance, for the betterment of all things in creation.
Belong to the pursuit, and not to the tribe, and the enlightenment will be yours to find.
THISday may we THRIVE!
What to Do Next
For More THISday
Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org