1 June 2018 : Peace on Earth, 2030

(“Do You Think it’s Possible to Create Peace on Earth by 2030?” I was asked this question this week by Jon Ramer, the founder of the Compassion Games. In response, I wrote this short essay.)

I’d like to respectfully suggest that there may be a clearer way to get to the point of this question, a way that acknowledges that to the rabbit who is hunted by the hawk there will never be peace on Earth. A way that understands that if we truly are interested in peace, we need to recognize that as humans we are connected to the rabbit AND to the hawk, AND to the fact that the hawk hunting the rabbit is part of a natural cycle of balance. In other words, I don’t think peace on Earth will be defined as the lamb laying down with the lion.

As written, I think the question also presupposes that world peace is an end result rather than the unfolding of a process. As as end, I think we are tempted to treat world peace as the solving of a problem, the lack of world peace. I think any time we reduce complex issues to that of problems needing to be solved, we are bound to think in absolute solutions: i.e. – THIS is how we achieve peace on Earth. I think this is how fundamentalism and dictators gain power. Ironically, this approach is the opposite of peace on Earth although it could lead to no more war. For instance, had Hitler’s “Final Solution” prevailed, one might have argued that peace on Earth had been achieved when in actuality all that would have happened was a global dictatorship.

So I think a clearer approach is to consider peace on Earth as a process to experience. In this way, the question you are asking may be more along the lines of, “Do I think the Earth will be a more peaceful place in 2030 than it is in 2018?” To that question, I can easily answer yes, provided I dedicate myself to being more peaceful in my interactions – with others and with myself – over the next 12 years. I understand that may appear to make your question too simple, that what you are really wanting is something more global than individualistic. But I am of the mind that every time I choose a peaceful response over a violent one, even in my self-talk, I am acting globally by setting off a chain of peace that impacts everything. So in me being more peaceful, I will help create a reality that makes it easier for others to be more peaceful. Others do that for me and for others, too, outside of anyone’s conscious awareness. As such, it becomes a conspiracy, a word that really means breathing together, of peace. And even if all I take is one conscious breath of and for peace, even if that’s all you do, that’s fine, but we can do even more than that if we so choose. Just take the first step, take the first breath. Then take the second.

For instance, you asking me the question contributes to the Earth being a more peaceful place. You’re thinking about peace and I’m thinking about peace, more than either of us would be if you hadn’t asked the question. Having peace elevated in my mind, I’ll be more likely to let the driver on the crowded highway merge during rush hour. She’ll be touched by the gesture and be more peaceful with her child once she gets home. The child, touched by his mother’s peacefulness, will be more peaceful with the dog. Indeed, it’s the Butterfly Effect.

So as I see it, part of my role, today, tomorrow, in the next 12 years (and beyond), is to not only cultivate and practice peace, it’s to promote peace. And my way of promoting peace, what I try to do through Kind Living, is to help people recognize and celebrate what I call ordinary kindness. These are the kinds (pun intended) of things that people do all the time every day – hold open the elevator door, greet the grocery store clerk, smile at the bus driver, etc. What is needed is to elevate our individual and collective awareness of these acts. This is hard these days, what with so much division and partisanship. We are being tempted to choose sides all the times, which is an anti-peace movement. At the most simple level, your job, my job, as promoters of peace is to look around and notice these ordinary things, contribute more, tell someone else about them. The more awareness we bring to these ordinary acts of kindness, the more of them happen. The more that happen, the more that happen, you know?

Remember that great children’s song by Malvina Reynolds called “Magic Penny?” with the chorus, “Love is something if you give it away you end up having more”? Practiced first individually, then within communities, then municipalities, then within countries, then globally, that’s peace on Earth.

15 May 2018 : Renewable Energy (our house is on the market)

I think a big part of living a life that consistently moves you forward is tapping into personal sources of renewable energy. By that, I mean engaging in actions and material goods positively, causing your source of energy to expand naturally without taking away from something else. The energy I’m talking about is not necessarily measured financially, although it often can be, as illustrated by earning interest on a savings account or getting a dividend for owning shares in a company.

This idea really hit home for me on Monday when a good friend asked if I was sad Melinda and I were selling the home we’ve lived in for 20 years, the place where we raised our kids. On one hand, yes, it’s certainly emotional to be closing such an important chapter of our lives. But what I recognized is that while it is emotional, sad is not how I’m feeling. I’m actually excited to be starting this next phase of my life. The energy gained for what we’ve done these last 20 years is at its peak, meaning making this change now will propel us forward in the most positive way, generating more positive energy. To stay, due to nostalgia, laziness, or some other factor, would start taking from the energy.

Thinking this way reminded me of when I decided to sell my hockey card collection back in 1992. This collection was an incredibly important part of my childhood, with individual cards having individual stories. You could say they had built up a lot of positive energy for me. Because of this, Melinda and others were worried that I would regret selling the cards, that I would miss their presence in my life. Married and with a baby on the way, I realized back then that the cards had a new purpose. Although I didn’t have the words for it, the cards had an energy that could be renewed, transformed if you will, as the down payment on a house. As such, I have never regretted selling them, not even for a second.

Put simply, the energy of the hockey card collection, with all its history and meaning, renewed as our first house in 1993. And our first house, where Chloe and Ella each celebrated their first birthdays and is the place where PSCS got started, renewed as our current house in 1998. Now our current house, with all the positive energy generated by Melinda’s upgrades, is renewing and even guiding us into the next phase of our lives, that as older adults with grown children. Certainly, we’re lucky that this energy renewal benefits us financially, as can be seen in the listing.

It’s even energizing to imagine what’s coming next.

21 April 2018 : Digitizing Old Photos

As part of my personal downsizing project, a major undertaking I’ve started in preparation for selling the house, I’ve been digitizing old photos. Some of the best have come from a photo album Chloe started when she was 5 years-old or so. She had this simple little kid camera that looked like plastic binoculars, allowing the child photographer to hold the camera up to their eyes like wearing a mask. I think the camera took 110 film. Anyway, most of the photos in this book were taken by Chloe with this camera. The photo above of Ella sitting on her changing table in 1998 may be my favorite. Her expression, the cockeyed light above, and Melinda standing there with a hair dryer (which was used to dry the body before putting a diaper back on). It’s a classic.

Then there’s the photo below of Chloe herself. I have a recollection of her hurting herself somehow and me trying to cheer her up by using her camera to take her picture. I’m not sure it worked…

25 March 2018 : Our Third 27

27 years ago…

Having both been born in 1963 (in May, no less), Melinda and I were 27 years-old when we got married in 1990. That makes 1963-1990 our first 27, which we basically did not spend together.

Last year, 2017, Melinda and I both turned 54 (in May, no less), making 1990-2017 our second 27, during which we pretty much spent every day together. We also raised two children to adulthood and created a school, among a couple of other things.

So here we are, Melinda and I, having entered our third 27, 2017-2044. And as was true for the previous two 27’s, we expect this one to be remarkable for its uniqueness. It began last June when Melinda stepped down from PSCS, an action that is being replicated by me at the end of June this year.

So what’s next?

Melinda said something to me recently that really resonated. She said, “We followed a dream of yours for 24 years (PSCS). Now it’s time to follow one of mine.” What she wants to do is sell our Seattle house and buy a fixer-upper, probably in California. She says she has at least one more remodel in her. Sounds reasonable to me.

What will I do? Help Melinda remodel, do some writing, promote kindness… We aren’t financially set to not have an income so we’ll need to figure that out. I’m of a mind to do what we did when we started PSCS. We had a new mortgage, a baby, student loans, and no savings. We quit our jobs and threw our weight into starting PSCS. The universe responded and PSCS succeeded, helping us grow as adults while raising our kids.

In other words, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a good story or two to tell in 2044.