Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Boesmanland, Hantamwereld and Verneukpan

I was responsible for causing the start time and start place to become somewhat arbitrary. Because I live way north I elected to wait for the group at Ceres. The official start point was the Winelands Service station on the N1. But then those who woke up too late for the N1 start also decided to make Ceres the start point, catching up with the group from behind, but arriving ahead of it in stead. We arrived in singles and pairs. The Johnny Clegg music, “Scatterlings of Africa,” kept running in my head. And it set a good mood right from the start. This is so much more than a riding adventure and a been-there-done-that adventure or a time trial. It’s a social adventure and a different-cultures experience. It’s also about getting to know one another, finding new and special connections and accepting a helping hand when you are tired. It’s setting aside time from the business of what we call “my life” and experiencing living for a few days.

And so the Scatterlings of Africa set off from slightly north of the original start point and slightly south of the original start time in the direction of Calvinia and along the R355.

There were some punctures and runnings out of fuel but we all made it. The road is good. It’s not like punctures are inevitable, but there are stones and wheels can find them. It makes one appreciate a backup vehicle and trailer. Peter provided the backup vehicle. I’m not saying I would not have gone on the trip if we did not have backup, but it made my decision easy.

At Calvinia while waiting for the puncture repair, we met Jan Rossouw, a farmer there. At first I thought he was the repair shop owner; He hung around and chatted with us. It was only later, when we were ready to leave, he said goodbye, climbed in his bakkie and drove off. He’d just hung around chatting and talking because that’s what people do in the Hantamwereld. Jan dispensed with much wisdom and counselled everyone. He had no difficulty asking very direct questions, which I learnt is the Hantam way. To Ruth, “Het jy ‘n man?” and to her negative reply, “Dis goed. Hulle maak net moeilikheid.” He also advised the men, you must take the first woman who wants you. Don’t ever choose one yourself. You will choose the wrong one.

We had lunch at the Hantam Guest House—recommended by Jan Rossouw of course. It is a museum. Well, it’s a national monument and the owners have collected wonderful stuff. I had home made pie and “slaphakskeentjies.” Slaphakskeentjies literally translated into English is “floppy ankles”! I was prepared to order it to find out exactly what I would get. Would you believe, slaphakskeentjies is Hantamspeak for screw noodles in mayonnaise!

There was a dirt road alternative to Brandvlei. I took the chicken run. Ruth and Chrisma joined me. I love travelling on dirt, but this dirt sounded like dirt of a technical variety and I was tired. So, we took the tar road to Brandvlei. I was not wrong. This is hard country. I checked the place names on sign boards along the way; Brand-vlei, Breek-been, Breek-yster. Everything is either burnt or broken or waiting to get burnt or broken.

I was happy to overnight at Brandvlei. The ride to Verneukpan on the next day was not long or difficult. There were a few bumps that had me with all wheels off the ground and some gates materialised from nowhere and required some pretty innovative stopping strategies.

We went to Die Windpomp for supper. If you ever go through Brandvlei, have a meal at Die Windpomp—“Die beste pomp oppie dorp.” Some of us tackled the Windgat burger single-handedly—Check the photos—This is not a matter to be taken lightly. This is a burger that’s afraid of nothing and needs a big appetite. I’m writing a lot about food and eating places, but it’s a big part of what makes the trip memorable. I was sitting in the bar at the Brandvlei hotel and a goat came in through the window! I was drinking Coke, so I know it was a goat. “He shares the back yard with 3 Great Danes and he thinks he’s a dog,” the proprietor told me.

We made it to Verneukpan! I’ve travelled past there before. But I’ve never been and I’d all but given up hope of one day riding on the pan. So, this was a big moment for me. There are no trees in this world. We had gazebos in the backup truck and I had visions of a dozen people sitting tightly together to get some shade. I worried unnecessarily. The camping facilities are absolutely practical and a wonderful sight in this flat and hard land. There’s shade and windbreak and all that’s needed. Look, I have a healthy respect for the Verneukpan surface after trying to sleep on it, but it’s not an ordeal. My frame resists hard flat surfaces and it gets cold at night!

Gustaf got a shade past the 200 kph--Measured by GPS nogal! I tried a run myself. But it's scary; When you travel on tar you "know" the road goes on and on, but on the pan it feels so much faster because you can see the "end" It feels like you're going to run out of surface.

We were fortunate in the context of mishaps and injuries. Nappy rash was about the worst that happened!

Despite being tired, I sat around after the meal and drank coffee, not too much because one doesn’t want to get up in the night. We chatted while we had wood for the fire. Gustaf said to me, “You are privileged to have your daughter ride with you on an adventure like this. I hope one day my daughter will ride with me.” Yes it is a privilege. It made me think back to an incident in my childhood. My father and I were travelling somewhere in Namaqualand. In those days all roads were dirt roads. In fact I saw tar for the first time when I was about 8 years old. We stopped in a small place, it could have been Bitterfontein, and he bought a few bits of meat at the butcher. We stopped later and we made a fire at the side of the road and braaied and ate. My father had a beer. I had a lemonade. I remember he added about two spoons of beer to my lemonade so I had a shandy! I was pleased my mother was not there. I was pleased that I was the focus of my fathers’ attention. It was a small, special moment for me. Sixty years later I can still see the smoke curling, the color of the sand and I can still feel the specialness of being there with my dad! I wonder what it meant to him. We should never trivialize moments spent with our children.

Would I do it again? When you’ve shared some difficult moments and some fun moments with a group of people, you become closer, know one another better and the warmth and camaraderie that grows out of such an experience is something that you can only get by doing the thing. Does that answer the question?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wilderness--Week Away

Brenda had her cell phone in her lap. I was driving. The phone rang. As she answered I realized that we had both jumped at the first beep like it was a shot going off. That was about two months ago. It made me aware of the stress we had both been absorbing. We had become used to reacting to things. It was almost like our routine had been reduced to either handling the current crisis or waiting for the next one—somewhat exaggerated, but that’s how it felt at times.

When Stephen called and said he was unable to take up his week at the Wilderness Dunes time share, we could have it, won’t cost a cent, it seemed like the Great Mystery had intervened. Brenda especially had been under severe stress.

The units on the south side, the sea view side, had all been taken. We were very happy with our north facing one. I will add at this point that October had been a Rubicon month, Brenda’s words. We reached the decision to stop reacting to things around us, things we could not control, and begin to live our life. If it had not been for this realization the time away could have been as stressful, same old stuff, different location. We took only my cell phone and that was turned on twice a day only. The significant thing is that we were both comfortable with the decision to deliberately be not-available.

Saturday—The Day of the Trampoline. We woke up to a “blop-pause-blop” that went on for hours. We discovered that there were two kids who, apart from meal times, and occasional drinks breaks were going to spend the weekend trampoline-ing! Maybe we’re getting old and crotchety. Well, at least one of us may be heading that way.

We went to the Sedgefield Farmers Market in the morning—a nice community thing. They allow dogs. It’s relaxed and unhurried and makes one yearn for down-to-earth stuff.

Sunday—The Day of the Damp Squid. Having enjoyed the Sedgefield farmers’ market on Saturday, we went to the Sunday market at Wilderness. Bad idea. There were other days too that did not pan out the way we intended. We had a power outage, so no TV. We went to the Garden Route Mall, most of the shops were shut because of the power outage. So, the highlight of the day was lunch at Victoria Bay!

Monday—The Day of the Big Tree. There’s an Outiniqua Yellowood not far from the Wilderness Village. It’s 800 years old! When we arrived at the site there was a small group of women there. You know how kids can sometimes just walk up to strangers and come up with an outrageous remark? Well, that’s Brenda: “Are you a Tree Hugger?” Well, guess what, it works! She got a quick 4 point lesson in tree hugging!

Tuesday—The Day of the Movie That Wasn’t. We want to see Nights in Rodanthe. We get to Wilderness Mall—It don’t start till Friday! So we ended up having lunch in Knysna. Not eventful? Sure, but we’re getting used to doing nothing and not feeling guilty about it.

I did spot the most amazing form of transport at the mall though! It’s a two wheeler chariot-like thing. Two wheels on one axle! And it don’t fall over! It balances itself while standing still. It goes at about three times walking speed! See the photo. I guess we will soon have one wheeled motorbikes!

Wednesday—The Day of the Ghost Town. Would you believe, late in 1800’s there was a gold rush in Knysna—Didn’t produce enough gold to sustain the diggers and the infrastructure. We had another big tree, also an 800 year old Outiniqua Yellowood. But this one has been tail-dragging. It’s not even half the size of the one near Wilderness.

Thursday—The Day of the Ring. November 4 is our anniversary. I suggested we go shopping for an anniversary present. Well! It was a joy to see Brenda’s delight. We shopped around and found a very elegant sapphire ring. I thought she can have it sized in Cape Town and on November 4 it will be ready and we’d have a celebration and then … Well! Moenie glo nie! She had it made smaller right there and then, put it on and that’s where it stayed! Can’t blame her, it is a beautiful ring.

Friday—The Day of Return to Base. Throughout our stay we repeatedly spoke about how necessary and appropriate and enjoyable the away-from-it-all had been. We had been shown the importance of our life and the value of living it rather than reacting to crises. It was enlightening and wonderful and we thank God for showing and opening the possibilities and opportunities we have been “too busy” to take up.

We were returning to base, but we are different—we have a changed attitude. Brenda drove most of the way back and I took some shots through the windscreen, something I’ve not done before.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Thoughts on Detachment

Detachment is not “totally cutting off from” or “putting distance” between me and the problem. Detachment is ending identification with the problem, ending being one with the problem. If I merely put distance between me and the problem, the problem persists. I take it with me or it resurfaces when the distance is reduced, when I return.

What do I mean by “being one with the problem?” What is the problem? Is the problem that which I don’t like, but which is? Or is the problem my inner state of discontent about that which is, and which is in fact different to what I want it to be? Is the problem my negative inner state or is the problem that situation or person that caused my negative inner state, that something which is “wrong,” not how it “should” be?

Logic tells me the immature view is that the problem is that which caused my negative inner state and that the more mature view is, get a hold of your inner negativity, it is the only part of the situation you can control--Restore your serenity, accept that which you cannot change. Yes, it’s more mature, but is it the answer, to accept something that may not be acceptable?

I don’t have to accept it. I don’t have to like it. But I also don’t have to be completely engulfed, swallowed up, consumed by my negative inner state. That’s what I mean by “being one with” my inner negativity; to let it take me over completely. When a part of me can stand back and observe, see the whole, I’m no longer at one with the problem, completely identified with it. There is a part of me that is observing all. This higher self sees the cause as a trigger, something I cannot control. It sees my not liking it as an inner state. But it also knows that these two things are not me. They are a part of my life and of now and of being. There are other components besides these, things that are positive and enjoyable and I am all of these, not just “problem” When I’m there, I am detached from the problem and I’m in touch with more of me and with now—I am free to choose to focus on something that pleases me and that I enjoy—I am not tied up in my negative inner state.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Koue Bokkeveld BikeAbout

Ruth and I went on a short biking adventure. We had no definite plans, just short rides, not-too-far-from-Cape-Town and avoid the rain if possible. It sounds like a recipe for a boring ride. It turned out a let's-do-this-kinda-ride-again ride.

We spent the first night on a farm just other side of Worcester, friends of Ruths, Margie and Frank. They had plans and were going to Cape Town for the weekend, but never mind, we must just make ourselves at home! South African hospitality is alive and well. They have a beautiful farm--Export fruit.

We left the farm rather late on Saturday morning, arriving in Ceres at around lunch time. It was quite something finding accommodation. We eventually found a guest house in Donkerbos, about 50 kilometers north of Ceres, in the Koue Bokkeveld. Believe me the name is appropriate. Here's a link to a site for booking accommodation:,en,SCH1/objectId,ACC8189za,curr,ZAR,parentId,RGN22za,season,at1,selectedEntry,home/mailfs.html

I spoke to the owner about the abundance of water on the farm. They had torrents of rain this year. I forget how many milimeters. He told me the water level in their dam, check the photos, in one 24-hour period rose by 2 meters.

Peacocks strut around the yard and each time you start a motorbike they make a lot of noise. I don't particularly like peacocks, but I've always wondered how, with such an over-the-top plumage, they are able to take themselves seriously, or would they, if they could, smile to themselves and think, hey it works--I get lots of female attention, and not just attention either.

The lady of the house, I think her name is Miki, told us the waterfall is about 45 minutes walk up the kloof, but we can probably ride nearly all the way with bikes. Now, I've been on 45 minute walks that take me half a day! We decided to ride.

Once committed, one does not feel like stopping. But it is a seriously technical ride. It's not really steep, but deep ruts and loose stones makes it awkward--you have to keep up a reasonable speed. I'd not done any trail-riding for a while and I got my full adrenaline quota for the quarter in just that one ride.

Ruth has never ridden this type of stuff before. I thought, I'll just say nothing. Hopefully she won't take a spill and if she does, hopefully it will be minor. Guess what? She just did it. I was very impressed. Sometimes if you behave like it's easy, it is. Even so, I was impressed by how she handled it.

By the way, it's not a 45 minute walk; It took almost that long by motorbike.

Ruth decided to swim! It did not surprise me. It was 7 degrees C in the shade. I don't know what the water temperature was, but I was surprised to see the stream still flowing.

We rode back on the Sunday. I've always wondered about the 650's vibration--The rearview mirrors are for show, no doubt about that. You can't see a damn thing in them while the bike is going. But check what it did to my take away muffin! We stopped for coffee and take away muffins. Ruth had space so she packed the muffin. After 50 kilometers the vibration of the 650 had converted my perfectly good muffin into a pallet of crumbs! I'm now convinced that the 650 is a cautious experimental venture into the adult toy market.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nothing is ever what it seems

Why do we so feel our version of the truth is the truth, is what really happened? We have a difference of opinion with a loved one. We discuss it, sometimes, or we just walk away. Sometimes there are arguments. How often have you had a difference of opinion and been able to really convince the other person that your's is closer to truth and reality than theirs? I'm not talking about coersion, compliance, giving in, that sort of thing. I'm talking about the other person actually being convinced.

How often could someone convince you that their version is closer to the truth and reality? You may have said, okay, you're right for the sake of peace, but how often have you been really convinced?

Okay, that sets the scene.Here I am and I damnwell know what happened and the one I'm having the difference with also damnwell knows what happened and the stories don't match. Both can't be right because the two stories are different and there was only one incident. What if neither story is totally accurate, each contains some of what really happened and some of what did not happen or happened differently? I think sometimes we tend to emphasize what's important and forget what's not important. We both forget different elements of what happened, are affected more by other elements and exagerate the elements that had a greater effect on us. We felt hurt or insulted or offended.

Say now you were not there and one of the people tells you their version of the story. We will be inclined to believe that the story we've been told was what really happened. But this story does not contain the bits the teller forgot and is heavily slanted towards the elements that hurt or offended the teller, maybe even distorted to lend emphasis to the validity of the tellers feelings, that she/he is justified in feeling hurt or angry or offended. Ask yourself the question, how do I contribute to the situation by "siding" with either party, or in any way strengthening the story tellers view that her/his story is the undisputable truth, that there is absolutely no alternative interpretation? Do I alleviate their hurt/bitterness/resentment by affirming that there is no alternative beyond their version?

Let me always remember that I'm not sole custodian of the truth--Neither is any other human being. Let me not judge. If I judge, let me be influenced by the simple, verifiable facts, not by opinions and interpretations--Especially when I was not there when it happened. When the Bulls play Western Province and the final score is 15-7 in favor of the Bulls, Western Province lost--simple verifiable fact. The possibility that they lost because the referee was biased is an opinion. We can discuss the quality of the referee's decisions for weeks and never agree. We may end up angry with one another. Let's respect what others do in the heat of the game and quietly judge them, if we have to, but always remember that we were not in the scrum at the time.

The following story, sent to my anonamously illustrates how the truth can be stated in different ways, still the truth but totally different results. Note particularly the final paragraph:-

" A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: ' I am blind, please help .' There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, 'Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?' The man said, 'I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.' What he had written was: ' Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it. ' Do you think the first sign and the second sign were saying the same thing?Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective? Moral of the Story: Be thankful for what you have. Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively. Invite others towards good with wisdom. Live life with no excuse and love with no regrets. When life gives you a 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1000 reasons to smile. Face your past without regret. Handle your present with confidence. Prepare for the future without fear. Keep the faith and drop the fear."

" Great men say, 'Life has to be an incessant process of repair and reconstruction, of discarding evil and developing goodness…. In the journey of life, if you want to travel without fear, you must have the ticket of a good conscience.' The most beautiful thing is to see a person smiling… And even more beautiful is, knowing that you are the reason behind it!!!"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Just "Be" -- More about finding the goodness that is already within you.

I'm looking at the sunset photo I took recently. I'm proud of the photo, I want to share it. Is this my ego? Do I want to impress you with my photographic skill, or look-what-beautiful-setting-I-live-in? Or do I want to really share the photo, just put it there and when you look at it, it will bring some positive thoughts and feelings up for you? Let me be honest; it’s probably a bit of both, hopefully less ego and more sharing.

What is my ego? I think of it as the words and ideas I've cobbled together to represent "me." It's not really me; "me" is far more than that. And not just is “me” far more than my ego, “you” too. "You" are far more than the words and ideas, the "me" and "mine" phrases and thoughts that we use to define ourselves. I can never hope to know you completely. Nobody can define something, a person of huge complexity, a person with unending potential, through words and images and ideas. It's like recipes; Two people use the same recipe and produce two different dishes, similar, but noticeably different. The recipe can describe the procedure and ingredients, but it can never convey the finer details of temperature and texture. And if this applies to apple dumplings, how much more does it not apply to a man or a woman. We don't even know ourselves. The best we can do is say, "I'm a dentist," or "I'm a South African," and then the listener ads his entire stereo type for "dentist" and "South African." Does he know me? Have I described myself? No, I've spoken words invented by my ego to differentiate me from others.

How un-spiritual! I spend hours, probably years, refining and tuning my ego self, shall we say false self, just to differentiate me from others, be more than or better than. There was a time I did not want to be an Afrikaans speaker. Why? -- Because I was so bombarded with negative stereotypes associated with Afrikaans speakers. Now I'm tweetalig! My ego is less prominent, but still there. When will I just be?

We’re not even honest when we manufacture the concepts and ideas that form our ego. We leave out the stuff we don’t want others to know, we exaggerate the stuff we think is cool in order to appear more cool. And guess what, I don’t even have a clue how to be half of my potential. I’m not bragging about how much unused potential I have, I’m being honest about my inability to use it because I’ve created my own limiting ego that stands between me and just being that which I can be.

It reminds me of the words of Eckhart Tolle I used in the previous post: "...more subtle and rarified form of self-enhancement, of desire for more and a strengthening of one's conceptual identity, one's self-image. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge." My ego is a creation, the result of my attemtps at "self-enhancement," assimilating stuff around me and about me that I use to be more than, better than. It is not easy to just be.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Grotto Bay Sunsets and "... allowing the goodness to emerge."

In winter, and sometimes in summer when there are clouds, we have spectacular sunsets here.

Brenda's Aunt Sylvia came to visit. We were a little worried about how it would go--we have Nunus and Sylvia is a little afraid of dogs, there's no traffic noise, it's an unfamiliar place ...

We need not have worried! Nunus and Sylvia became instant friends. We thought at first that if it did not work out we could take her back the next day. It was so good we decided to take her back a day later! She enjoyed it. She loved being here. Nunus too--Sylvia just ignored the rule about "Don't feed the dog when we're at the table!"

Here's an afterthought, a final thought about ice trays. I'm getting questions from some who read the text about the ice trays. This is the last time I'm writing about ice trays, or maybe it isn't. The idea is that we try hard to live our lives better, do the right things and so on. But what matters is the underlying attitudes and beliefs that shape our actions. I found some words written by Eckhart Toller that says it very nicely: "Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychological motivating forces not only behind warfare and violence between nations, tribes, religions, and ideologies, but also the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships. They bring about a distortion in your perception of other people and yourself. Through them, you misinterpret every situation, leading to misguided action designed to rid you of fear and satisfy your need for more, a bottomless hole that can never be filled.

"It is important to realize, however, that fear, greed, and the desire for power are not the dysfunction that we are speaking of, but are themselves created by the dysfunction, which is a deep-seated collective delusion that lies within the mind of each human being. A number of spiritual teachings tell us to let go of fear and desire. But those spiritual practices are usually unsuccessful. They haven't gone to the root of the dysfunction. Fear, greed, and desire for power are not the ultimate causal factors. Trying to become a good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high-minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. This is because it is still part of the same dysfunction a more subtle and rarified form of self-enhancement, of desire for more and a strengthening of one's conceptual identity, one's self-image. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.

"The history of Communism, originally inspired by noble ideals, clearly illustrates what happens when people attempt to change external reality-create a new earth--without any prior change in their inner reality, their state of consciousness. They make plans without taking into account the blueprint for dysfunction that every human being carries within: the ego."

I like his phrases: "inner reality" and "state of consciousness." I'll paste what's the key sentence for me alongside those already on my mirror: "You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More "Ice Trays"

Since my last post I've been asked several times, "The ice trays sounds great, but what does it actually mean?" I admit, it's a little vague. So, I'll write some more.

"Having faith in someone commits a part of our energy to that person; having faith in an idea commits part of our energy to that idea; having faith in a fear commits part of our energy to that fear." This is from Caroline Myss.

Our energy commitments, physical and mental and spiritual, have consequences. Just like, when you commit physical energy to get up out of a chair has the consequence of going from sitting to standing, so too do your mental energy commitments have consequences. We become woven into the consequences of all of our energy commitments. And this, me woven into the consequences of my energy commitments, is what we call "my life."

If I have a strong belief in my laziness, does it not make sense that I will probably be lazy? I have a fear of abandonment. I’m certain that if I devote energy to this fear, I will end up lonely.

This is why I keep telling myself, avoid thoughts and words that support ideas you know are not in your best interests. They help strengthen your faith and therefore your energy commitment to doing what you should rather not do. "My Inner Child is rebelling against doing what I know I must do," and "I procrastinate," strengthen your faith in these ideas and increase the energy you commit towards not doing your job.

A rebellious Inner Child, easily distracted, striving to perfection, procrastination, these are the ice trays of your life that give you ice cubes with a shape you don’t want, an under-achievement shape. Don’t concern yourself with why you have these attitudes; even analyzing them devotes energy towards them. If you don’t like the shape of your ice cubes, chuck out the trays and get new ones. Don’t fuss about how come you have the ones currently in your freezer. Just get new ones. How about a fun-loving Inner Child that enjoys working and delivering? How about 90% is good enough in 100% of cases? How about do it now, and then I have more time to do the really fun things?

Monday, March 24, 2008

If you don't like the shape of your ice cubes, change your ice tray.

In AA one often hears, "To keep doing the same thing over and over, and then expect the result to be different is insane." But that's what we do. We read something about how to live life better, like what we've read, close the book, and continue as we did before! Why? Why does our behavior stay the same? We like the new concept, but fail to include it in our living. Susan Greg says: "... thoughts, beliefs, agreements, and assumptions are energy patterns. As long as we hold onto them, we will continue to get the results we have always gotten." It's the underlying beliefs we have to change--the new ice cubes will take on the shape of the new ice trays. We have to work on our underlying beliefs, values and attitudes, the behavior will follow automatically!

Here's what she says in Mastering the Toltec Way:

"Making Things Non-Negotiable

"We never negotiate our need for air. We never put off our next breath until tomorrow. If we want to continue to live, breathing is non-negotiable.

When I first started studying the Toltec tradition, I had a white index card in the corner of my bathroom mirror with a list of four non-negotiable things I remember getting out of my warm bed many nights to finish that list.

"I was fortunate to realize early in my studies that action is the key to change. I watched people talk about how much they wanted to change, yet their lives remained the same. On the other hand I watched other lives blossom and grow. I observed that some people took consistent action while others didn't.

"Insights, knowledge, and profound experiences will do little to change your life if you don't take different actions. As long as you put star-shaped ice cube trays in the freezer, you will always have star-shaped ice cubes Our thoughts, beliefs, agreements, and assumptions are energy patterns. As long as we hold onto them, we will continue to get the results we have always gotten.

"What four things-if you did them every day-would make the most difference in your life? My list is (1) write, (2) meditate, (3) look in the mirror twice a day and tell myself how wonderful I am (and believe it), and (4) go to the beach to connect with my divinity.

"Do you want your life to be full of happiness and joy or pain and struggle? The choice is yours It depends on how willing you are to make a few things non-negotiable and do them every day."

I have a few cards pasted on the wall next to the mirror where I shave: "Do things without impatience," is one. I know that sounds negative, but it's personal. I use impatience as a signal to tell me when I'm not in the moment. When I'm impatient I know I'm either in the some moment that's still coming or in one that's been and gone--whatever, I'm not enjoying what I'm doing or I'm preoccupied with something else and I'll mess this one up. So, get back to what you're doing or stop before it's a mess.

Another one is "If you wait for the perfect time to start--you'll never begin. And if you don't like the outcome, do it over or scrap the idea." We've made some changes to the north side stoep. I had some old tools lying around, broken, rusted, never to be used again. On the spur of the moment we did something with them--Brenda varnished them and we hung them on the wall! I like how it looks: