The wounds of our global culture are showing us we must find another way to live, especially when it comes to how we communicate and how we treat each other.

If anything, our current political and social environment is teaching me that I must change. I must change what I say and how I say it. I must change how I think and how I think about it. Living as I did for the past 67 years is no longer okay. Actually, it never really has been. I just didn’t know any better. Or better said, I only cared about how the world affected me, not how what I had thought or done affected the world. I finally realized how small I have been thinking and living.

Maybe many of you are beginning to reconsider how what you think and do affects the lives of others. Maybe many of you are daring to dig deep within your own moral fabric and observe beliefs that haven’t served you well or are no longer serving the planet we inhabit. For me, it’s been a hard observation. I have been reminded over and over again that I can and must do something different because the result I desire has not yet manifested, though I am getting closer each day.

I want to live my life in peace. I noticed that much of my life is chaotic, especially when I allow others, in the form of external media, to dictate my opinions and create the thoughts that guide my behavior.

So, I’m choosing kindness instead. I am choosing, through the use of affirmations and refining my vocabulary, to change how and what I think. I am choosing to see what I want to manifest even in these most difficult times. I am not burying my head in the sand mind you, as I am acutely aware of the suffering that we are experiencing and in many cases, apathetically proliferating. I do not desire to hide from the fray, but I do desire to choose where my energies with go.

I choose to:

  1. Envision and contribute to a world of peace, within and without.

I acknowledge that this begins with me. I accept that what appears externally begins with an internal thought and I own the realization that there is as much infinity internally as there is external. I know that I can believe whatever I want and that what I believe does not have to be true for others. It is just my choice. Call me naive, but I choose to see gratitude, kindness, generosity, self-examination, forgiveness, and wisdom as worthwhile expressions of inner thoughts. I choose to believe these qualities are more than values, they are prerequisites to living the life I want to live.

2. Work on myself before I ask others to work on themselves.

At some point in my past, I recognized how judgmental I had become. That I was looking for a change in myself by encouraging change in others. It sounds so simplistic, but how many of you will admit to looking at your world that way? I found out that making this change was easier said than done, but it can be done. I started by acknowledging how I felt emotionally, especially when I had that gut-wrenching feeling of sadness, anger, fear, or guilt and I have done significant amounts of internal work to identify the source of those emotions.

The result has been the idea that when I see difficulties in my relationships, and I feel bad about it, I know I have work to do…inside, where the thoughts and feelings originate. It’s there that I begin to unravel the web of deceit that ensnares my clarity, causes confusion, and leads to the unhealthy thoughts and emotions that drive unproductive behaviors.

3. I work now on the values that produce my behaviors later.

It may be cliche, but I made the decision to do something different for the balance of my life. What I decided to do was not to do what I had done before but to BE someone different than I was before. I had to challenge what I new and believed. I had to try on values that were so easy to say but in reality, they were exhausting to change because I had to first deconstruct or unlearn everything I had been conditioned to believe and do over that last 60+years.

I then had to co-create a New Normal of living habits that served me and more importantly the people in my life. The new normal came by owning what was not working for me, realizing the results were a product of my decisions and making the decision to live my life the way I knew was right for me. That was the new normal because I had always lived my life for the benefit of others first.

This process of change started for me when I joined The ManKind Project in December of 2014. The Mankind Project has a set of core values: integrity, respect, generosity, accountability, multicultural awareness, and compassion. We have a common purpose: to create better men. (The better man I seek to create must begin with me and no one else.)

It is now 2020 and we are in the middle of a devastating global pandemic that forced each of us to speculate on what our new normal might look like. The isolation of social distancing caused me to examine my choices past and present. The isolation also created an opportunity for me to choose again, to ask myself who am I and what do I want out of life and perhaps more importantly what is it that I want to be written on my epitaph. Do I want an elegy or a eulogy?

Here is what I want most from what is left in this human form. I want to see and experience peace in my life. This requires a new normal. I want the life I live to be a benefit to my loved ones and to my community. This requires a new normal and I want the life I live to exemplify the core values of integrity, respect, generosity, accountability, multicultural awareness, and compassion. This requires a new normal.

I believe that the way to achieve what I want is to let go of all of the negative experiences which I have caused and endured in order to begin a new normal. I judge that many of you reading this might “say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” I was growing up when John Lennon wrote that, but I didn’t learn it then. It wasn’t until the need for a new normal came upon me that I can finally say with him, “I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” Yes, this is the new normal!

Blessings to you my friends,

“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”
Mark Nepo,

A believer in Lifelong Learning and Collaborative Wisdom, remembering Who I AM through essay, story, and poetry. Listening for narratives that nurture Life.

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