What Matters – excerpt from Activism & Spirituality


The ‘What Matters’ selection we make in each moment and at each stage of our life becomes our charted course.  Every thought becomes passport, itinerary and boarding pass.  Which thought….which voice one listens to among our higher and lower natures, sets and even schedules our  path and destination.

Does it reflect compassion and forgiveness for ones self equally as it would to others.  Compassion raises up the world and lifts it from its circumstances.  Where pity,  like condemnation casts aspersion, shame and burden.  Pity goes unnoticed sometimes.  It dresses better than condemnation and doesn’t laugh too loud at parties or make overtly rude comments.  Still we know (though often unacknowledged) the underlying intention remains the same.

I had to ask myself what compassion ‘is’ and where it comes from in order to truly identify it from the platitudes and fashion of kind heartedness, politics, activism and the cocophony of social discourse.   It is no new idea that ‘one can only love others if one has love for self and to its very degree and extent’, and has certainly become a tired and anemic pearl of wisdom.  Yet it remains an important reference in the context of defining compassion.  Upon honest introspection and observation we discover the obvious. Compassion is an action not a feeling.  The category of compassion we only ‘feel’ excuses us for doing nothing by feeling for it, where the kind we ‘do’ inspires, transforms, heals and fortifies all concerened – even the onlooker.

We so often use words that are deplete of power rather that bursting with it.  Like a bowl of beautifuly crafted artificial fruit, no matter how dilectable they appear…..no matter how masterfully the artisan conveys their natural beauty, they serve only appearance.  Or pehaps in the noblest potential, they feed artistic appreciation – but that is all they feed.

Words serve similarly.  If we are not present to them,  they become a counterfeit vocabulary with insidious nature.  There is no Viagra for impotent words or ideas.  It is so easy to just get up and start a day without a purpose if someone sees no purpose in their simple yet divine presence to the moment.   That moment of power – of service – of truth to life by being ones own sphere of influence.  The most powerful of which – ones own thoughts and their origin.

I thrive only in authentic purpose I realized, and that has been demonstrated to me in every perceived success and every perceived failure I have ever known.  I have had a conspicuous range of both.  I am an authority here.  Every successful purpose came from within me…. and every failure came from outside.  I don’t distance myself from my failures by that distinction. They are mine.  Perhaps even more so by intent, where I went outside myself to get them.  They simply aren’t authentic enough to sustain because of their origin and my lack of relationship to them.  ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” translates to “he ain’t heavy because he’s my brother”  (we are  me, and I am him) and endeavors that don’t come from within are difficult if not impossible to sustain.  The approval they require to replace the intrinsic knowing of that which is in your many gifts… is fickle in its acknowledgement and even parisitic in its reward, because there is none.  Looking within is a purpose in itself.  It is the seed to all other purpose one may know and without it, there is no puropse at all except the emptiness of powerless action and sentiment as a placeholder.  Photographs with smiles, decorations and scenery of a vibrant life…..but the memory of only posing for them.  Holding on to them because they are what one has.

I don’t turn my head an inch any longer for that which is not from within, and the pull to do so can be seductive.  Sometimes it carries with it acceptance.  It distracts from our uncertainty or the recognition we may have missed somewhere, or the inclusion we wish we had…. particularly if we are lonely or unhappy.  I don’t know exactly how I arrived at that (almost instantly it seems) but I have.  Fear and doubt are arduous, long and slow moving ailments.  Inspiration and knowing are almost light speed and so restorative we barely remember the longest seasons of suffering.  From this perspective, I can’t imagine how I ever looked outside of myself.  The most obvious difference between the two is that one seems like dragging it with us, and one we mount and ride.  If that doesn’t seem to matter in the beginning, it will when the long up-hill stretch is in front of us…..then it will be everything.

I guess the other thing is urgency and patience.  If it is urgent… it is a diversion in the form of a fire drill.  If I don’t have the patience for the process of my purpose….my self…. then I either must not like what it is I do (‘not authentic’ buzzer should be sounding at this moment), or it is for a time piece and calendar that aren’t my own.  Sometimes I feel very insightful and other times I feel like I catch on late.  But a miracle occurred in all of this that is hardest to describe but is elemental to any pursuit.  The moment I let go of everything outside of me, everything outside of me seemed to recognize who I am.

There are emotional feelings and the feelings of ones whole being.  It is not transient like emotionalism because it includes the navigation of purpose and knowing.  It is that same pull I believe that governs migration in the wild and the miraculous knowing for a destination to which one has never been.  It holds the same spellbinding magnificence that has us look to the sky with amazement at  honking geese in flight and formation.  It is a feeling I had almost forgotten about with my attention and presence outside myself.

I am not talking about ‘the world being a wonderful place if we see it that way’ sort of thing.  Independent of perspective …. whether I feel awful or fabulous…. it is consistent with who I am, who you are…. for anyone….and everything begins to respond. Some with subtlety and some with unmistakable magnitude.

Attitude and expectation are important to everything we encounter, including how we see things and the response we receive from the world around us.  Authenticity is the gravity that holds purpose in place and makes it meaningful and valuable in bringing ourselves to the world.  Attitude and expectation are like pheromone that irresistibly draw the world to us.  Without authenticity however, attitude and expectation are a lounge act and a disappointing first date that won’t be repeated.

There is no substitute for being recognized in the sense of who you are and why you came.  One is expected, welcome and possibly long awaited. It seeks no recognition at all because it focuses elsewhere and is truly its own reward.   Ironically as history has shown, it is so often the path by which recognition is received and especially deserved.  Authenticity is inspiring and memorable and holds a place in the  world for each person and the gifts that come from within.