Every person you encounter is an archetype- a model of how to act, present oneself, and live. That means every blue-haired, tattoo-ridden barista you see is an archetype of what it means to be a woman, a barista, a cool chick, or whatever other angle a person might take. Even if you are not aware of it, you are receiving messages from each person you observe and many you do not think you are observing.
It is hard to grasp this idea until you become a father of a son or a mother of a daughter. But as a parent, you notice eventually that you are always being watched. You are under continual surveillance, even when you think you’re not. So, when you walk around in flip-flops or unshaven- unless you live without any human contact or cultural intake- you are modeling a style, a set of values, and a way of living. Think about that.
To children, particularly young children, a parent is a God-like figure. When you rage about traffic or the many little annoyances of daily life in front of your children, you are presenting a negative, angry way to look at the world. And one that you may well transmit to your children. When you wield such enormous power over children’s lives, it is critical that you not be a tyrannical or abusive God. In fact, it is your job to build strong, confident, competent people to better the world around them. So, notice who is around you and how each person influences everyone else even just a tiny little bit. Even you.
Enough to be a good person, at least. I’ve always felt my values were more or less in the right place. I’ve always lived a kind of pseudo-Christian life. But what about the OTHER person? What guides his or her behavior or what limits it, at least?
You never really know until that other person gets a chance to hurt you. When you make yourself vulnerable in marriage, friendship, business, etc. you hope the people you are engaged with are decent, reasonable people. But you never really know. And you’d be surprised how some of your friends and family members might behave when given a little bit of power.
So, a few questions to ask yourself. What guides human behavior? What constrains it in the absence of God or a religion? The answer to the former is typically selfishness, the latter, not much. You may say you’re a “good person” who is governed by “logic and reason,” but what is logical and reasonable to you may not be to the next person. And either way, how do you articulate this to a young person? How do you pass the values of “logic and reason” on to the next generation? WHAT do you pass on to the next generation?
When the proverbial sh#t hits the fan in life, who are you dealing with? Is it a loyal and decent person whose values can be trusted or a selfish, egotistical manipulator like the devil?
You remember the infamous scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ when Meg Ryan shows Billy Crystal how easy it is for a woman to fake an orgasm in a crowded restaurant? Well, moments later a nearby patron tells her waitress that she’ll have whatever led to Meg Ryan’s verbal eruption.
It may sound odd, but that’s the way I feel about Catholicism. I have watched it do so much good in so many lives to me it is a no-brainer as to why everyone else should become a part of this beautiful tradition. I’ve watched it motivate people to humbly serve the poor. I’ve watched it transform the lives of the homeless, addicts, alcoholics, and prison inmates. I’ve watched it create large, loving families. I’ve watched it transform so many lives and pass on the values that sustain families and the future.
I’ll have what they’re having.
Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. And one worth sharing with others.
Mornings are a new opportunity to contribute to the world. For example, this morning (5/13/19) I may have saved a woman’s life. It was raining when I was about one block from my office and noticed a car coming into the intersection after the light had changed. Simultaneously, a woman standing next to me wearing a hooded raincoat that blocked her vision stepped out and started walking into the intersection, not seeing the car. As I saw this unfold, I yelled out, “Watch out! Watch out!” The woman stopped, looked over at me, and the car whizzed by within a couple of feet of her.
I didn’t intend to save a person’s life today. It just happened because I am continually aware of the world around me and generally walk around exhibiting my Christian instincts. A Christian starts his day with a positive attitude, an optimism for the day and the world in general. He sees every day as a new opportunity to show the world what it means to be a good Christian. Even when everyone around is kind of a bummer, his optimism and enthusiasm are infectious. I say this as someone who is not very positive by nature, believe me. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. Or else, honestly, people won’t want to be around you very much.
So he wakes up early, makes time for prayer and meditation, makes time for the important things in life- God, family, relationships- and goes on his way.
In your own life, see if you can change any depressing culture you encounter whether it’s your sad, boring office or a gathering with your relatives. Maybe create a new family tradition? Don’t wait for others to fix things or make things better, take action yourself. You may save a life or more likely, many lives.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of practicing mindfulness meditation. They often think that there is absolutely no way they can do it. Believe me, I get it. Even after 10+ years of meditating semi-regularly, I still struggle with my concentration every time. So, don’t start by sitting down for a 30-minute meditation from an app. Start with being mindful, or present, or aware, in your day to day life. Below are a few other moments and activities to help you on your way to becoming a calm Buddha.
Take a moment in the morning and evening to think positive thoughts for the day (aka prayer) or reflect on the day behind you.
Try keeping score of a baseball game. This is a great way to slow life down and just focus on one thing you enjoy.
Go fishing. Fishing can be one of the most calming, meditative acts a person can do.
Swim laps. You don’t have to swim a mile or two. A 1/4 or 1/3-mile swim, alternating the strokes so that your back and shoulders get stretched, will make a tremendous difference in your life.
Pause before a meal. Take a moment to think grateful thoughts about your life and focus on your fortune, hopefully with others.