Yesterday, I went to see Tim Robbins, the actor, sing with his band. I was mildly interested in seeing his act – although Tim Robbins is a great actor – but much more excited about seeing the friend who was taking me and who knew him from when they were both students at UCLA.
When I first saw Tim, I was sitting at the bar before the show started, with my friend when he came by to say hello. As I still can’t help myself from being judgmental, I thought to myself; wow he has aged.
Tim had a great time singing. You could tell this was a guy who had found a different outlet for his talents. And he sang with his brother, sister, and the posters of his recently deceased parents. He made a show for himself maybe even more than to an audience.
Twice in my life I have experienced complete bliss.
When I lived in NYC, many years ago, I had a house upstate NY in an area which at the time was mostly economically depressed but had amazing mountains, lakes and streams. I was living in a very abusive relationship which lasted eleven years. My refuge was going upstate.
I had a friend there who had been born and raised in the small town where my house was. He built custom made furniture and lived alone in the woods. He planted and cut his own trees to make beautiful tables, chairs, and beds. He led a simple life with his dog who only liked two people; him and me.
One night, my friend invited the man I lived with and me to come to dinner. It was winter, and the night was really quiet.
A friend called yesterday to tell me about Tony Robbins’s show “Breakthrough” being cancelled. I thanked him for the call but told him I already knew. The reason my friend wanted me to know about the show going off the air was because we had discussed an idea I had for an inspirational show that he thought people would not be interested. My friend had argued that in tough times audiences are looking for fun and escapism. I argued back that seeing others go through difficulties and managing to grow and come out on the other side, made us feel less alone and with more courage to do battle.
Anyway, after I hung up the phone I wondered why the show had failed. After all Tony Robbins is an amazing successful speaker. So what happened?
I was just looking at a friend’s pictures on Facebook. I have known this friend for a long time. I knew him when he was a single man and I now know him as a man married to a divorced woman and a mother of four.
He thought he would have kids with her, but that was not meant to be. What was meant to be was him raising the four children of his wife and another man.
He often complains about him not having children of his own and of having to raise someone else’s children. But when I look at his pictures, I see a happy man. Whoever gave birth to these children is not important. What I see is a man who has found a family, a place and a world of his own. But he doesn’t want to let go of his pre-conceived ideas of what his life should look like. So he struggles between what it is and his fantasy. But I know he is happy. But he can’t see it and that is his loss. And so he feels cheated.
When I think of him my heart aches because I see his misguided unhappiness. He has all that he wants but he doesn’t see it. How many times have each one of us not seen the gifts life has brought us until they were gone? Let’s not do that. Let’s see what we have TODAY and let’s cherish it.
It’s so easy for people to misunderstand each other.
Although we are all humans, each one of us has a different process to interpret the world; different education and processing mechanism. Often things are said with one intention and are heard with another. Feelings get hurt and relationships are destroyed. That’s when we need to leave our egos aside and reach out. Ask yourself what is more important the relationship or your ego? And what is an ego anyway?
A strong ego doesn’t have to be right every time. A strong ego can even be right but not need to prove its position. A weak ego must prove itself to the world.
When a misunderstanding occurs don’t wait for the other person to reach out. Do it yourself. Strengthen your ego by not having to be right at all costs. You being right will be a secret between you and ego.
I was brought up by generous parents and was taught, the way we usually are, by example and not by lecture, that when you could help, you did.
My father went overboard and when he was living longer than he expected and started to be seriously concerned about running out of money, we had a long conversation over finances. We reviewed his savings, his social security income, his small investment portfolio, and the state of his health which was surprisingly good considering his age (over 90) and his medical history (two small strokes). In a way, he was preparing me for the fact that when he died there wouldn’t be much left for my brother and me to share. But, more important, he was wondering if he had to start to make those frightening choices between buying food or the prescriptions that were keeping his health devils at bay.
We reviewed his checkbook and quickly advised him to stop sending contributions to every charity that solicited him in the mail. These five and ten dollar contributions added up to hundreds of dollars a year and he could no longer afford the luxury of sending money rather than spending the time to investigate how his contributions were being used.
He agreed and I think he was relieved that we insisted he be more prudent.
About two weeks ago I thought about him. A friend of mine who had no storage space left in his house asked me whether I could store a few cartons for him so he wouldn’t have to pay for commercial storage space. Naturally, I agreed. Then the van backed up into my driveway and carton after carton was removed and packed against one wall of my garage.
I’m not one who is anal enough to carpet my garage, but I am proud of the way the tools and seasonal items are carefully stacked and hung on pegboard and generally arranged so I have room to navigate my car into the garage without a problem. Now though, things are different. The “few” cartons make moving in and out of the garage a slow and tedious process.
I feel angry because I believe that my friend took advantage of me. There is no doubt that it has colored my relationship with him. It would be a lot easier for me if my father was still around and could insist that I call my friend up and tell him how his cartons are impacting my life and ask him to remove them…or at least all but the “few” I had expected. But my father died some years ago. I will eventually bring myself to do it…but for now I just hope that he reads this blog.
I found this article today on CNN.com and I wanted to share. It talks about a study published in the journal Psychological Science where meaningful conversations are proven to contribute to happiness. Check it out.
The story goes that some time ago a mother punished her five year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and she became even more upset when the child used the gold paper to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.
Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift box to her mother the next morning and then said, ‘This is for you, Momma.’
The mother was embarrassed by her earlier over reaction, but her anger flared again when she opened the box and found it was empty. She spoke to her daughter in a harsh manner.
‘Don’t you know, young lady, when you give someone a present there’s supposed to be something inside the package?’
She had tears in her eyes and said, ‘Oh, Momma, it’s not empty! I blew kisses into it until it was full.’
The mother was crushed. She fell on her knees and put her arms around her little girl, and she begged her forgiveness for her thoughtless anger.
An accident took the life of the child only a short time later, and it is told that the mother kept that gold box by her bed for all the years of her life.
Whenever she was discouraged or faced difficult problems she would open the box and take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us, as human beings, have been given a Golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
At her Harvard University commencement speech, “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling offers some powerful, heartening advice to dreamers and overachievers, including one hard-won lesson that she deems “worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”