27 Mar

Don’t Judge Me!


I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be judged. I don’t want to be pre-judged, post-judged or anything in between. Conversely, I do seem to seek approval of others and that would mean that judgment of some kind needs to take place. In looking deeper into this paradox, I have to admit that I actually do want to be judged in all the ways I claimed that I did not. The thing is that I want to control the judgment. I want to be judged as attractive, friendly, honest, strong, wise and to have many of the other qualities that I have striven to exemplify. I feel that if I’m seen this way, I’m doing a good job as a person because these are qualities that everyone strives for. I found that I worked very hard to appear to be this “flawless” person at the expense of being a “real” person. I would hide or ignore my “undesirable” traits and chide myself for having them. The problem with that approach is that I always felt as if I had a darkness in me that would always be there and always deny me peace. Lazy, fearful, hateful, selfish… If someone saw one of these traits, I would proclaim “Don’t judge me!” with a passion driven from the horror of being seen as the opposite of who I was trying be. Seeing the part of me that I hated. An interesting side effect of this way of thinking was that I was VERY quick to condemn people whom I judged to have these “negative” traits.

I’ve come to realize that I am the sum of my parts and that sum is good. Through my laziness, I learned to appreciate the results of hard work and a job well done. Through my fear, I learned there was nothing to be afraid of. Through my hate, I found the value and limitlessness of love. Through my selfishness, I learned the joy of giving. I could go on and on but my point is that every single experience that I’ve had, good or bad, has made me what I am today. I found that the practice of loving 100% of myself has brought peace and joy to my life. I still have bouts of judgment but my rule for myself and all people now is to love first, judge second.

22 Mar


step_child Alysse is my step-daughter. In recent years, I have started to choke on the word “step”. To me, its a word that separates a person from the “normal” family situation. If I say someone is my daughter, that comes with certain expectations of love, loyalty and support. Now, when I say that a person is my step-daughter, those expectations are somewhat diminished. It’s understood that I won’t love her quite as much as my biological children. It’s also expected that she shouldn’t love me as much as her biological dad. There will always be a line of love and devotion there that, everyone seems to agree, will never be crossed. At the very least, difficult to cross. I have to admit that personally, it was very hard to let anyone into my heart as much as my biological children. I felt that, if I loved anyone as much as them, I would be betraying them somehow. So, I kept my distance. Alysse, on the other hand, didn’t have these hang ups. She was around 7 years old when her mom and I got married and, like many children, had no barriers to the free flow of love. She accepted me into her heart quickly and also accepted the clunkiness that was my balancing act of carefully measured love that I was trying to give. I knew she was allowing herself to love more than I was but I just wrote that off to the ignorance of children. She just didn’t know that she SHOULD love me less.

Over the years, I have learned that there is no official rule book that defines how much you can or should love someone. Parents get this much. Children get that much. Love is infinite and is therefore immeasurable. The ONLY limitation to the amount of love we share exists in our own minds. To test this theory, I simply started to let myself love. Love by choice, not by the random circumstance of relationship. On the contrary, I can love people I haven’t even met. I can love who I want, as much as I want. Interestingly, the side effect is the experience of more love in my life.

The uncommon love of a young lady that I now simply refer to as my daughter helped me to realize that. Thank you, Alysse. I love you, too.

16 Mar

Animal Instinct

animal_instinctHuman beings are animals. As such, there are certain traits that we have by nature that we must follow. When we look at other animals in nature, we observe that they are ruled by instinct. They must eat, mate, seek safety, and, above all, survive. No matter what the animal is, this seems to be the prime directive. For many animals, battle and conflict is an important part of achieving these objectives. Males often battle with other males of the species to gain the right to mate. This battle also serves the group as a whole because it ensures future generations will derive from only the strongest stock.

As human beings, we too need to eat, mate, seek safety and survive. We also have instincts that drive us to do these things but does that mean that conflict and fear are simply natural instincts needed for the betterment of the group as a whole? If this is the case, is the human race destined to fight war after war without end? Are we doomed to an eternity of fear, hatred and separation with only fleeting glimpses of joy and a limited experience of love? Yes, perhaps, if all we are is the animal but we are so much more.

What we have that is unique in the animal kingdom is the ability to make meaning and to choose what we do based on that meaning. Yes, we are driven to survive but we have the power to choose what survival means. For example, we must eat to survive but , if I decide to fast for a few days, I can choose not to eat. Not eating goes against all of my primary, animal instincts and yet, for whatever reason I choose, I can go against those instincts and take a different path. No other animal on the planet has a power quite like this. Sure, in our humble beginnings we were much closer to our animal selves, just doing what we could to survive. But, as time passed and we started to obtain a greater sense of nature and of ourselves, choice and meaning started to override our simple animal instincts.

It is a common argument that man will always be just the way he is today: warlike, selfish, fearful and self-loathing. That’s why we still have all the problems we experience around the world today like poverty, slavery and war, just to name a few.  Some say that it is simply our nature to be exactly how we are today but I don’t believe that’s true. I think all our past suffering has shown us the way to end all suffering. Through choice. Through love.

Each passing moment brings with it an opportunity to make a new choice. We are not bound by our instincts. We are not bound by our past. We are not bound by our future. Each moment, the slate is wiped clean and you are beckoned to fill it with new visions of joy and love. How much can we have? All that we choose to have.

06 Mar

Its All Good?

I had a rousing discussion about love yesterday and it gave me an interesting thought. I learned that a horrific experience can lead to a deep realization Read More