Valor and Kindness

“He is as full of valor as of kindness. Princely in both.” ― William Shakespeare, Henry V

There is something about the balanced demonstration of valor and kindness which has captivated my attention from a very young age. I remember seeing this in my father’s expression, perhaps unconsciously at first, but then consciously as I, as a young man, took the initial steps out of the self-centered state which is natural to children.

I recall his noting his quiet dignity, self-possession and willingness to face any challenge that came his way with a caring, but firm determination. It impressed me, especially given extremes to which others tend to go, in one direction or the other. People seem to organize themselves into more or less two camps, the “hard-asses” and the pushovers, but my dad had that rare ability to work at the balance point between these two extremes more often than not.

I couldn’t imagine a more fitting grandfather for my two sons, but in saying that I must admit that my sons’ other grandfather is, as Shakespeare put it so well, “as full of valor as of kindness.” As someone I was speaking with yesterday mentioned respectfully, he always seems to find the way to take the high road in the situations he faces.

What, dear readers, would be said of you in this regard? Have you struck this balance in your own expression? Do you meet challenges you face with valor and kindness, as the need may be? Or do you still find your expression being dictated by the circumstances at hand on occasion? Would you say you are more radiant or reactive when the pressure comes on?

The choices you make in this critical phase of living will go a long way to determining the impact your life has on the world around you.

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“If thou dost love, proclaim it faithfully.” ― William Shakespeare

Sincerity, that is, being free from pretense, deceit or hypocrisy, is the only way to remain true to love and to let love flourish in your life. If you wish to love, you must confirm it in the daily choices you make, for dissembling creates an environment that is inhospitable to the spirit of love.

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Being in the Moment

Being in the moment does not necessarily imply idleness or detachment. It is simply a state in which we are free of the commands of automatic, mindless function, released from the things we think we want or need because of peer pressure, societal mores, personal habits, or age-old traditions. Being in the moment is a state of tranquil alertness.

Being in the moment does not mean that the past or the future are irrelevant. In fact, being in the moment allows the past and the future to come to rest – and to a fine and balanced point – in your heart and mind. When you are being in the moment you no longer lose the that which is available in the present moment to fantastical daydreaming about the future or wistful regrets about the past.

Being in the moment allows you to connect past and future to that which is eternal, through the crossover point that you are in spirit and in truth. When you consider the future while being in the moment you see that which is to come in relation to all that has gone before and you recognize what can be done now – practically and realistically – to effect that future. When you meditate upon the past from this “place” you are not pulled down by it, drawn back into it, or bound by it; instead, you learn from it and are therefore bettered by it no matter how wonderful or horrible it may have been.

You do not need to go somewhere or do something to be. You are in the moment because you are being in the moment, not because of what you are doing in the moment. Remember this one point and you will save yourself from the fruitless search which has wasted the lives of billions of well-meaning people throughout history.

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Judgment-Free Zone

Two of my favorite times of day are dawn and dusk. They are special, typically quiet times where the light is just bright enough to see but just dark enough that you have to strain a bit to catch the detail you would normally see in the light.

This time reminds me of how we have to look at one another on occasion. Everyone has good days when the stars seem to align and the not-so-good days where it seems no matter what you do it doesn’t seem to quite work out, so there is a need for graciousness, a largeness of spirit towards those around us. So doing provides a sort of buffer, a “judgement-free zone” wherein they are given as much space as possible to make the right choices in their lives.

You might have to look pretty hard to find it in yourself to make that space for others, but it is well worth it. Now by this I do not mean that you should lower the bar or expect less than what you know another is capable of providing. In fact, a true friend keeps the bar high relative to those around him or her. This is not done arrogantly, pedantically, or spitefully, but compassionately and sanguinely.

While some might say that you have to strain hard to find the good in another, I would say that the more important thing is to strain hard at your own heart and mind to make sure that you are not binding another with judgmental attitudes. You’ll know when you are free of judgment…it brings the same peace of mind and tranquility of heart which tends to form in a quiet dawn or a crisp autumn dusk.

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Morning Sun

“Morning Sun”, a Haiku by Gregg Hake

The morning sun comes
As a waking child
Sees the day anew

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Matrix of Inflexibility

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Everyone is wronged a some point in life. Unforgiven, these wrongdoings accumulate like scar tissue in the body of humanity. Unfortunately, that “scar tissue” is never as functional as the original tissue it has replaced.

When wrongdoings are not forgiven, they form a matrix of inflexibility in what would otherwise be a supple and resilient body, mind, and heart. Forgiven, the buildup is minimized, if not cleared altogether.

Forgiveness gives evidence of emotional and spiritual maturity. As an occasional act, forgiveness stops the wound from growing; as a constant attitude, forgiveness is restorative.

Dare to forgive…not just every now and again, but constantly!

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