Is Life Like a Game of Chess?

 

 Is living our life is like a game of chess?

With every move we make possibly affecting the rest?

Should we live deeply and authentically or live in jest?

Can we live in the question as we receive the next test?

If something looks like honey could it be from a hornet's nest?

Are we sending out curses when we think we are blessed?

How are we processing what we think is a mess?

How can we handle the intensity and stress?
- dlb

"The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind" - Bob Dylan 1962

We Can't Stop Time



But we can "live in the question."

These days it seems as if time is speeding up, or maybe we are just experiencing life differently. Maybe there is a quickening of consciousness on a spiritual level. Maybe an awakening on another level.

It just seems that the days are moving faster. Suddenly it's noon, and I've been going since 6 am and the time just flew by. It's the same movement of time. Yet I seem to be experiencing it differently. My dreams also seem to be more intense and have their own "dream time." The minutes and hours are clicking away. How we manage or perceive, or spend our time is our choice and one that we can be grateful for. 

About a year ago, I had some thoughts about time in a way that caused some reflection on life. I looked at the alarm on my phone and noticed the stopwatch feature. If you haven't seen this lately, please open up your phone clock now and take a look. When you press "start" you see time moving in milliseconds, and each second appearing in the third digit from the right. Those milliseconds are moving very fast. This is time-in-motion as it is happening now. Just by looking at it there might be an "aha" moment of "make every minute count"! Sometimes those milliseconds are like thoughts that just keep streaming in non-stop. In deep meditation, it's always a nice experience when moments occur without thoughts for a change. (note to self)

And in these precious moments that we call time we are witnessing, and experiencing intense polarities of views in the news, extreme shame and blame, and possibly a disconnection from those areas of inspiration, those feelings of deep love, and those memories of better times. It's easier to be stressed out these days. Yet sometimes we can stop and still cherish precious peaceful moments, even in the midst of chaos, like the peaceful eye in the center of a hurricane.

In these precious moments, let's remind ourselves of our connection with a Divine Spirit, a higher power, and an energy that transcends time as well as infuses it with Being. Whatever our perspective is in this area of life, let's also celebrate these precious moments to whatever extent works for our sanity and peace of mind.

It's easy to be in overload now, have you noticed? One idea that I have used effectively as much as possible that allows for information to be less intrusive on my mind is "living in the question".  I even wrote two blogs about it. Here's the recent one >

Living in the Question with Inspiration

Living in the Question with Inspiration



When I was in my first year of college at Pasadena City College, which had a reputation for professors who enjoyed teaching and were not distracted with PhD research, I had a fantastic professor who used the Socratic method of teaching. He would ask questions in a way that would allow students to open up to different possibilities of answers or ideas, or insights related to the topic. It was a very powerful and effective way of learning. In a way, it has been with me for all of my life. Only in recent years did I decide to give a name to it - living in the question.  


For me, living in the question is a type of perspective that I have with most information that I read, or hear, or watch. It is different than questioning everything. It is more like being open to possibilities of different interpretations, perspectives, and depth that may not easily be seen.   


These days, sometimes there is a tendency to want to have it all figured out and "live in the answer". Yet, living in the question leaves things open-ended and has the effect of creating more freedom in thinking, in my opinion. 


Today this is more important as we are bombarded with news and views, scammers and spammers, intense emotional exchanges in social media, the pandemic, and the election coming up in November. 


When I searched Google for the phrase "living in the question" there is reference to Rainer Maria Rilke, the mystical poet, who wrote this in his book "Letters to a Young Poet. 

" I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."


Perhaps we can also appreciate this letter as written to us in these times. Maybe we need to be patient towards all that is "unsolved in our hearts" and to love living in the question. Maybe there are some truths or answers out there that we cannot handle, as we would "not be able to live (with) them." 


By "living the questions now" or living in the mystery, then gradually, or suddenly, when the timing is right, answers or insights will be revealed. Hidden truths may come to light, and we will still live in the question even then, with more peace of mind, inspiration, and wisdom than we had before.

Could living in the question be like a liquid elixir of life?
read on >








The 30 Day Inspiration Challenge



A personal challenge is when you commit to doing something for thirty days in a row that you are not already doing consistently. It takes inspiration and motivation to commit to yourself and to stick with it until completion. It could also be to do something new every day in a certain area of interest. 

During this pandemic quarantine time, it seems that the opportunity is there to try a thirty-day challenge. It can be fun and doesn't need to be overwhelming. It can be creative and in an area that you already have a gift or desire to focus. You need to be inspired and motivated to have the commitment to follow through and stick to it. 

In addition to other routines, I have my two 30-day challenges during this pandemic lock-down.
The Yoga Challenge I Will Never Forget

The idea of a personal challenge was presented to me by a yoga teacher in 2014. I had just started hot yoga classes and loved them, and was starting to go to a class every day. One morning a yoga teacher asked if I had ever heard about a ten-day challenge—one hot yoga class every day for ten days. No, I answered, but I am going to try that. Since I already had a certain number done (I cannot recall, but I think it was three days), then seven days more, and I will have succeeded at this challenge. I was inspired and motivated. Towards the end of the ten days, the yoga teacher asked if I had ever heard of a thirty-day challenge. I answered no but was ready for it since I was enjoying the daily hot yoga. Then towards the end of the thirty days, I had the idea of extending the challenge to 100 days. I already had thirty almost done, so I needed seventy more days. Was I up to the challenge? Could I commit to it? Was I willing to not have anything get in the way of completing it? The answers were a strong yes. The word started getting around the studio about this sixty-year-old man who was doing a one hundred day challenge.
The yoga teachers at the studio said that I was "like a machine", as it became "automatic" for me to show up every morning. Since the classes happened seven days a week, it was easy to go every day. My energy and motivation continued as I started finishing forty, fifty, sixty days in a row. At some point, there was a request by more than a few students to the studio to offer a group challenge. Then the yoga studio provided a sixty-day challenge that would start on a certain day. There were a few guidelines, and record-keeping was being kept by the studio. I also joined that challenge, and it would go beyond my hundred-day goal. I ended up finishing both challenges after one hundred and fourteen days and as I got closer to that final number, I realized that it is not about the destination and number as much as the commitment and focus. Just starting it and sticking with it is empowering, and "the joy is in the journey". 


What are the Benefits of a Thirty Day Challenge?
After reading about the 100 day challenge, a thirty-day challenge may not seem so daunting. 

The benefits of completing this are many. 

> a personal achievement - mission accomplished!
> the experience of the journey - thoughts, feelings, insights
> the "unexpected benefits" - these may happen 
> building a new type of discipline - a positive habit
> inspiration as a result of the completion

Sometimes this challenge "takes on a life of its own", and you start to see unexpected benefits. It can be private, or you can share it on Facebook. 

What are Some Ideas of 30 Day Challenges?
It can be anything that you want to focus on. Physical, mental, spiritual, social, creative, or social.

> Writing in a journal every day - thoughts, feelings, about the pandemic, the new normal, personal challenges, and goals. It is a private journal, and you have the complete freedom to let it all out.
> Physical exercise is a common challenge: a new routine, 30 days in a row.
> A spiritual practice - meditation, yoga, reading inspirational content, affirmations
> a creative expression - art, crafts, writing, new ideas
> entertainment > watching a live concert on YouTube every day, playing online games, watching a new movie, documentary or series every day. 
> education - register for an online class, or commit to research and study a topic daily for 30 days
> travel - a 30 day motorcycle tour of U.S. National Parks

The famous quote from William Hutchison Murray describes a part of the process of commitment:

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!"

So if a 30 day challenge is something that catches your attention, and gets you inspired and motivated, then go for it, and enjoy the process.

Inspiration and Gratitude - New Book Just Published





Just published on Amazon April 2020!

This is my third book and I am grateful for the inspiration to write. Ebook Free download Sept 18-22.

I felt compelled to write about why inspiration and gratitude are important as we are self-quarantined in isolation, and have time to reflect on our life, the world, what we are grateful for, and how to be inspired if possible in the midst this worldwide crisis. 

The link below is to the book listing on Amazon. It is in a Kindle format, and can be read with the free Kindle app that can be downloaded and used with different devices or on a laptop / desktop.


There is a "Look Inside" feature that allows you to preview the first pages of the book. -  Enjoy and stay safe and healthy.
David Brown
Link > Inspiration and Gratitude - Yes !



Also visit my website - www.DavidLawrenceBrown.com





The Legend of the Muse





"For those who believe and know it is so

a muse exists so that we may know

of ideas and creative words that will flow

like a waterfall in a forest where flowers grow.

She comes and goes as she pleases

Her inspiration may come as subtle teases

Her ancestors were muses for thousands of years

Revealing words and ideas to artists and seers."

- David Lawrence Brown 

 

The War of Art and Resistance

In Steven Pressfield's excellent book, The War of Art, he identifies a force that he calls "resistance" that causes writer's block, procrastination, self-sabotage, self-deception, fears, and anything that holds back our creativity. If we want to be living our highest and best purpose in life, we need to know about and overcome resistance. 


 Invoking the Muse

It's within Book Three, in The War of Art, that Pressfield discusses invoking the Muse, and working with that hidden power or force that has inspired men and women to create art for thousands of years. We can overcome resistance. A muse is on the other side. Inspiration is a blessing and a gift. 


The Legend of the Muse


 There are many legends of muses, as we can imagine that over thousands of years in human creative history, muses have been involved in various ways. 


Years ago, a young man went into a forest in an isolated remote area surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. He was searching for a new purpose in life and for whatever new insights and ideas he would have on this self-imposed retreat into the realms of the Spirit. 


He was fasting and praying and singing sacred chants and songs for days, and nothing came to him in the form of new ideas, inspiration, or insights into his higher purpose, and his life. 


 On the tenth day, he was walking down a path to a waterfall that he had discovered a few days before. There was something about the area around the waterfall, with flowers, trees, and rock formations that seemed mystical, magical, and had subtle yet profound energy. 


 It was early morning, and all of nature seemed to be waking up to the day, with the birds singing, and sunlight streaming through the trees, lighting the path. The air was fresher than it seemed the other day, and he felt a wave of energy through his body and mind that opened up his heart. 


 Within moments he felt love surrounding him, a love that was beyond description, but if words could describe it, then bliss, joy, opening, power, and grace. 


He sat down on a grassy knoll by the waterfall and closed his eyes, as the feelings of love intensified, and he let go of any thoughts or fears about this experience, allowing it to happen, and not resisting it.


Then, with his eyes closed in meditation, he had an epiphany, that a muse has been with him all along, and that when he was ready and had overcome resistance, the Muse would reveal ideas, thoughts, and insights for his creative work. It was so subtle that he did not even hear words or a message; it was just a hidden knowledge that he received. 


When he came out of the meditation, he had no idea of what time it was. He checked his watch, and it had been three hours since he started the meditation. It was late afternoon. There was a silence in the surrounding trees and forest. He decided to celebrate the new gift that he had received by standing under the waterfall. It was about 20 feet high, so it felt like a large, powerful shower of water and blessings pouring into his life. 


He kept his relationship with his Muse a secret until he felt like writing about it. Then it became his legend, as he knew that other legends would be born on his new creative journey of dancing with the Muse, listening, and realizing that with every breath, he connects to creation on all levels, seen and unseen. 

The Need for Unwavering Faith in the MIdst of this Global Crisis

During the Vietnam War, Vice Admiral James Stockdale spent seven years being tortured in a Hanoi prison.
He was tortured fifteen times, put in leg irons for two years, and put in solitary confinement for four years. When asked about his experience, he noted that optimistic prison-mates eventually broke, as they passed one imagined deadline for release after another. Stockdale's strategy, instead, was to meld hope with realism —"the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail," as he put it, with "the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts, whatever they are.  (from Atlantic Monthly – "Our Pandemic Summer", April 2020) 


 During this pandemic crisis and beyond, with physical isolation, may we all, while not ignoring the brutal facts, "meld hope with realism, with the unwavering faith that we will prevail", and enjoy our connection with a Muse, or higher power, or Divine Spirit.

Baby Boomers - Are We Toast ?




I hesitated to publish this blog post, and it has been in draft form since April 10th (2020). Enough already. I've had my fill of news about the virus this morning and now will vent about it then get on with my "non virus news" day.

This is a blog dedicated to inspiration. Maybe you wouldn't think so from the title.

Wait for it. It's coming.

The photo above is one that I created some years ago from a perspective of inspiration. Our life is and has been a journey. Have we enjoyed the path? Are we enjoying it now? Or are we "toast"?

In the face of a global pandemic that might end our life, are we being "empowered warriors" or ostriches with our head in the sand? Are we in denial or facing a reality check? It is normal to have mixed feelings about this. Anger, compassion, gratitude, frustration, anxiety, sadness, and a full range of emotions.

As one who tries to live and focus on inspiration and gratitude, it is a challenge to be in that vibe all the time.

To the Baby Boomers: "We're Toast"
is the title of a Boston Globe opinion piece published April 13 by Rachel Cohen
The subtitle :
"COVID-19 is now that mythical ice floe on which elders might be called upon to set sail into the sunset" pretty much nails the theme on the head. Maybe this is our last dance, and we can both grieve about it and celebrate it at the same time. 

In the article, the Governor of Massachusetts is quoted - "It's hard to believe we're in a period where hospitals might have to make difficult decisions about how to distribute resources like ventilators, but that's the worst-case scenario, and we must plan for it."

The article goes on with "If that doesn't scare baby boomers into giving up that trip to the grocery store just because you've run out of chips and onion dip, nothing will.

There is a scoring system to determine if someone gets a ventilator: If two people are tied in the score, then this is the justification for who gets it : 
"The ethical justification for using the life cycle principle as a tiebreaker is that it is a valuable goal to give individuals equal opportunity to pass through the stages of life — childhood, young adulthood, middle age, and old age," the protocol states."
(reference Boston Globe - 

Being suddenly expendable because of age is not easy to swallow, especially without warning. We (baby boomers) retired thinking that we can finally enjoy some years without working, or reduced working, and then we are faced with the possibility of less than a year to live. Of course, this is only a possibility that we might get the virus, be hospitalized, then denied a ventilator because of ethical justification. 

So What? 
So as we are in isolation with everyone else who are not baby boomers, we can entertain ourselves, keep busy, take time for reflection, chase away the fear, the anxiety, the stress, the sense of foreboding doom, and whatever else. If watching the news makes you happy, go for it. Need to update the will? Write your obituary? Make those final arrangement plans? Write in a journal? Work on a quilt? Play online games like Words with Friends? Write a blog post?

Where's the inspiration, if any? How can we be a "warrior" in this when we might feel powerless? Can we be empowered, or are we feeling like a victim?

Wait for it. It's coming.

If this is our last dance, how are we going to dance? Slow, maybe like Tai Chi, to be peaceful and calm, or like salsa with passion in our veins? Or both? 

We may have seen the question "If you had six months to live, what would you do?" We might ask that same question now. And then go ahead and do it, if possible, in isolation. It becomes a virtual bucket list. Virtual travel to Italy, France, St Petersburg or Morocco? Climb Mt. Everest? Armchair surf 50 ft waves?Take those fantastic virtual tours of cities, landscapes, travel blogs, and virtual museum tours. Love Nature? Watch BBC Nature or National Geographic on YouTube and and have a visual feast. Study a foreign language? Read classic novels? Watch music performances ?

Maybe write a book on gratitude and use some experiences in your life to fill in all those chapters. I am actually finishing up a book on gratitude that I started about a year ago, before this pandemic. At some point, I thought that this book could also be part memoir, and now I am thinking maybe part obituary. Of course, this is only a possibility. The book title is Gratitude and Inspiration. The original subtitle was A Journey of Loving Life. I changed it to In the Midst of a Pandemic.

So What?
We can live as warriors and affirm life with a powerful attitude of inspiration and gratitude. We can eat healthily - both will boost our immune system. We may need to live like hermits for a while. Enjoy the journey. If you resist, it makes it much harder. 

So what am I doing besides some web business, binging on Netflix, visiting Facebook, communicating with friends and family, reading novels, and listening to music? I am writing about this. I have the inspiration to try to inspire others amid this crisis. Some recent titles and links :

Deep Peace - Traditional Gaelic Blessing

Dark Clouds and the Beauty of Nature

In the Midst of Crisis - Gratitude for a Divine Spirit

It was Just an Afternoon Meditation

Corona Virus - Where's the Inspiration ? (March 16)

So, the title of this blog post - "Baby Boomers Are We Toast?" - applies to everyone, not just boomers, except for the protocol in the hospital for ventilator selection. We are all in this together. Our life, as we knew it might be toast. At least for a few years, maybe more, maybe indefinitely. 

Government control of our lives seems to be justified to some extent with the health crisis. Yet will it extend beyond that to everything else? 

If so, then maybe we all are toast.

Initially, that was the last sentence of this blog. Yet I'm not going to end there. There is a postscript, an afterthought, and an epilogue. I add this last bit of thought from another blog listed above (In the Midst of Crisis). 

"And if it is our time to move to the other side, there is plenty of work to be done there also with tribes unknown and yet to be revealed. We do not need to have a fear of death as death is an illusion on the soul level. If you believe that the soul goes on, then life goes on with it. At this time, it is a possibility that a million souls or more will move on to the other side of this pandemic. It is an earth-shattering tragedy if this happens on one level. On another, their souls will live on in new tribes and spiritual communities. Those that are left behind will be empowered to heal and rebuild again."

Wait for it. It is coming.
(This is a time for a dramatic spiritual revolution. A possible great awakening. I needed to add this here at the end, which is a new beginning)