When i went to type "Spring" I typed "aspiring" instead. Interesting slip of the keyboard. To what shall you aspire this Spring?
Henry James described the middle years as "the country of the general lost freshness." And so an ode to all things fresh might brighten our spirits: here is to cellphones and computers and tulips, every kind of kiss, laughter at the table, the peepers in the pond that make that lovely night sound, the world's great saxophone players, the thing you finally did that you put off forever, our friends, and all the babies born this past week.
I know that cell phones and computers are not exactly new, but for all their distractibility, these babies offer us a world of discovery at our fingertips.
THE ALTERNATIVE TO TOO MUCH DRINKING (OR TOO MUCH ANYTHING!)
I have one idea for you that comes in a sentence from a brilliant, troubled, passionate man who lived a long time ago. The sentence has the word God in it, but please don't let that detract from from the sanity of his thinking, even if you don't believe in God, or have been turned off by some nut job who confuses his confusion with the Divine. Anyway, from St. Paul: "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control."
The idea, of course, is that you and I live with power, love, and self-control.
We can talk about all kinds of things related to this one idea, just in case you are interested in more than one idea.
- To live with power and love and self-control is very hard.
- To live as a powerful person requires caution, because power can corrupt and pull us away from love.
- It is sometimes hard to live lovingly, because people make it so very hard to do, and we all have some resident meanness.
- And self-control is difficult—we are so conflicted, so all over the place, so filled with drives that head in opposite directions, so besotted by weakness.
- Nevertheless, it is a magnificent ideal, one worthy of our lives, and so needed in this world.
- If you look at the combination of power and love and self-control, you will see that we are invited to live with good power.
- This is not an invitation to weakness.
- The more we live with power and love and self-control, the less afraid we will be.
- Love is another word for good power, no not just for some but for everyone.
- So much better than weakness, hatred and self-destruction.
A related thought—sneaking in another idea or two:
I've heard a lot of stories lately about alcohol abuse and it got me remembering how when I grew up in the conservative Christian world (where I learned the sentence from St. Paul) I was told not to dance, smoke, and go to movies or drink. The idea was that doing such things would take away your good power and lead you either to a life of weakness or bad power. The word "sin" was used to sum up the things that I was not supposed to do, but even though the Christians knew that drinking was a sin, they understood the essence of its attraction because they called the liquor store "the power house."
And so I was not supposed to get caught dead or alive in a dance house, smoke house, movie house or power house.
Of course, being a sinner, I have ended up in all four places. I won't tell you all the details, but I can tell you that they were totally right about smoking, and I caught onto that fact very early on as my first cigarette made me cough and it did not taste at all good like that first dance or first movie or first sip of beer. And so I have smoked less than five cigarettes in my life, the last four coming after I had, myself, personally visited the powerhouse once again.
To be honest, the first sip of beer did not taste good either, but it was nowhere near as bad as a cigarette, and after a few sips I felt the power kick in and music did sound better, as my lovely pagan friends told me would happen. And I switched to wine.
We were all too young then to know the irony and deceiving power of alcohol in that the power house can lead sometimes, in a long and winding road, or literally in a fast car on a winding road, to the weak house. I look back to those old days and think of the preachers who preached to me and scared me half to death about hell and apparently hellish things like smoking and drinking and I wondered if they said "No drinking" cause it was the party line or because, like me, having traveled a bit more of the world, they saw for themselves a beautiful woman staggering under the influence, a formerly handsome face rutted and reddened by whisky, or a group of teenagers taken early by a fast drive while intoxicated.
("Under" is a scary word in that context, when you think about it. And toxic is so accurate. Toxic!)
I imagine, alas, that with those preachers it was the latter (life experience) that influenced their advice, though it may have begun as the former (the party line), as it did with me.
Maturity is learning that sometimes the party line is right.
Maturity is learning that sometimes the party line is wrong.
Now I'm not saying "No drinking," though for some that may be the message you desperately need to hear.
I am saying "Y'all be careful" and I include myself in that warning.
I am saying "The Devil's boots don't creak."
I am saying "No smoking." (Sorry all my smoking friends and loved ones. I'm only saying this cause I love you and I do know that nicotine is very, very addictive and it calms the anxiety it creates—another ironic twist on the slippery slopes of life.)
I am saying take up dancing or a ripping good movie to calm your nerves instead.
Above all, I am saying that power, love and self-control is an underrated combination and anything that takes you away from that divine perfecta is not your friend.
"EMOTIONAL ELEGANCE"—a book by Bob Beverley
David Allen, author of "Getting Things Done," wrote the preface to my book. He thinks you should not hesitate to buy it.
I spent 3 hours shoveling snow this week, and that's all the sales energy I've got for this promo. Except to add that the book is beautifully designed by Elliot Toman and easily available on Amazon. Buy it this week, write and tell me, and I will send you the digital version as a bonus. It has its own distinctive beauty that is possible on the web.
Next week we find a treasure from the past.
P.S. Sharing wisdom is absolutely necessary in this oft foolish world. I'd be honored if you pass THE DIG along to your friends.