Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘resolution’

As We Turn the Page on 2017

Chief Justice John Roberts gave a commencement speech to a group of 9th graders this year in which he wished them “bad luck”. Now, lest you think ill of the Chief Justice, that he was being churlish and mean-spirited, what he meant was that he wished that these young people would experience some degree of hardship in their youth so that they would develop tactics to persevere as adults when those same hardships inevitably arose.

“I hope you will be treated unfairly, to that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. I hope that you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either.

And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so that you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you have just enough pain to learn compassion.”

My hope for each of you is encapsulated in Justice Roberts’ conclusion: I hope that you will have the ability to see the message in any of your misfortunes, and that you will express appreciation for the people who help you overcome them.

Let me leave 2017 with a final thought, inspired by Ben Reiter’s review of the movie “I, Tonya”.

“Each of us, “I, Tonya” suggests, is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done–or, in Tonya’s case, the worst thing she might have done.” In our present days of instantly available and infinitely scalable opinion, we should add that we are more than the worst thing that someone says we did.

Let us, each of us, resolve that in 2018 we will look first to that which is good about each other, and endeavor to see that each of us is more like the best thing we’ve ever done than not.


Sunday musings New Year’s Day 2017: Purpose

Sunday musings…

Musing, whether today on my 56th New Years Day or on any other random Sunday, is an entirely different proposition when done in the presence of my 15 month old Man Cub. He takes up an awful lot of space for such a tiny little creature. I’ll give it my best…

This is not going to be just another whatever about making or keeping resolutions just because it happens to be the first day in a new year according to the Western calendar. Hit up that intellectual workout if you please, for sure, but that’s not where my head’s at right at the moment. Nope, not detailed micro-resolutions like “exercise X times each week” or even more global ones along the lines of “get healthier”. At least for me, today is the day I tie the ruminations of prior days, weeks, months and years together into something which feels something like a common thread to which I can cling as I pull myself through the second half or so of this life.

Like so many of the stuff that leaks out of my inner hard drive onto my keyboards and into my life, this slow-cooked epiphany was prompted by a tiny little random thought I stumbled upon in something I was reading. “We spend most of our lives in a reactive trance, not really thinking about why we do what we do.” –Tara Brach. That, my friends, stopped me right in my tracks. How much of my life am I living on auto-pilot? How much of what I do each day is the equivalent of handing over my day to an internal self-driving program that, at best, reacts to not only what has just happened but what is by history likely to happen next?

It is time for me to remember that a purposeful life must be one that is lived proactively, and that in order to be proactive it is necessary for one to have a purpose.

No one can be expected to live every moment of a life in a fully proactive mode, at least not without risking certain insanity. No, what I think I’m feeling is a lack of thoughtful purposefulness in most of my life at the moment. It’s more than goal setting, more than having come through the serial apply-matriculate-graduate kind of purpose of a younger life. It’s not a case of just “going through the motions” of existence either. What I think this New Year’s Day reflection is really about is a need to articulate a 30,000 ft. purpose for at least a portion of my life, and in so doing to give me something about which I can be proactive for a portion of each day.

As I made the “hard turn at mile marker 49” my friend Hari suggested that the second half of a life is spent in living the life that the previous 50 years you’d spent preparing everyone else for. Apparently I am a bit of a slower learner than some as it’s taken me an extra 7 years of so to be ready, but I at least appear to be ready to examine the concept of the purpose of what might be the next 50. For some this is undoubtedly an internal pursuit, but what little self-awareness I have leads me to believe that mine will be a more social, collaborative pursuit.

Should I have gotten here sooner? Is this a call to you if you are younger than I to start now, rather than later? Nah. We get here when we arrive, and not a moment sooner. In all likelihood my purpose will slam me upside the head when I’m looking in another direction. Is that the ultimate in being reactive? Or might the simple fact that I am open to the blow enough to call it a proactive part of the process?

We’ll see, I guess. We’ll figure it out, both you and I. For just this moment though I’m afraid that I have to step away from the keyboard, for out of the corner of my eye I can see the Man Cub headed toward the stairs. Will my dash to snag him before the top step be reactive or proactive?

Sometimes a purposeful life is actually lived in 10,000 3-foot moments.

I’ll see you next week…


Mindful Living Courtesy of Stuart Scott

It’s still January. My birthday has come and gone and I now sit at another milestone age, 55. As is my wont I will embark on several months of data collection on myself, a sort of 5 year/50,000 mile check on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being. New Year’s Resolutions are easy every 5 years because this is in motion. A visit to my internist, various and sundry bloodwork, and trying to find time for a thallium stress test and a colonoscopy are the medical items on tap. I will assess my fitness regimen in an effort to maintain my CrossFit-induced gains while simultaneously reducing any injury risks. “Peak and Tweak” as my friend Bob is saying for us 1960 Birthdays.

Sadly, I’ll probably have to program some training that is specific for the run on the stress test, but that’s another story.

This “Housekeeping Resolution” does not preclude any other, meaningful reflections. Stuart Scott, the well-known ESPN anchor, won’t see 55; he passed away last Sunday at age 49 after a very public 7 year battle with cancer. I was thinking about him the other night just before Beth and I turned in. The day had been uneventful if you measure your days by notable happenings, but I’d spent my day doing things I enjoy, surrounded by people who generally make me happy. I told my “Better 95%” just that as we drifted off to sleep, the voice of the person who makes me happiest the last sound I heard that day.

Here’s Stuart Scott articulating my single additional Resolution better than I can: “I am acutely aware at most moments when I’m doing something that I love that it is a precious thing. Every moment that I am doing something that I love, I will stop and I will take a conscious acute mental moment to say, ‘This is living. This is why I am living.’ And I [will] have them regularly.”

That in a nutshell is precisely what I plan to do. I will be mindful of those tiny moments of happiness, not just epic events. I will continue to seek those things and those people who make me happy, not just try to avoid those that don’t. More than even that I will try to be mindful of my opportunities to bring a bit of happiness, or somehow reduce happiness, in those same people who make me so happy.

Those moments and be yours, too. Don’t miss them.


A Comma Person

Tons of random stuff banging around between my ears, so much that it’s a little difficult to wade through and make sense of any of it. One little thing keeps bubbling up to the surface, long enough at least to be noticed: the lowly comma. Mathew McConaughy describes himself as a “comma person”. I get that.

What with all of the New Year’s resolution action, here and, well, everywhere, it can get to feeling like there really is a discreet finish to a year. A ‘period’. Full Stop. Does it seem like that to you? Everyone gets all in a rush to finish off a year, in this case 2013, so that they can get started on the next one. All kinds of retrospectives, writ large and small, come cascading down at the end of the year. As if it really was an end. Capped by a ‘period’, you know?

The thing is, though, that I don’t really feel all that different. It doesn’t really feel like anything was all that completed on December 31st. Or, for that matter, like there’s any huge new start, re-boot, or even a mulligan just after that ‘period’. Sure, there’s a really convenient opportunity to take stock, maybe make some adjustments or even re-route, but the longer I’ve been at this New Year thing the less it seems like anything is ever really at Full Stop.

More like a pause. That’s it. Not a ‘period’ so much as a ‘comma’ leading into whatever comes next.

A sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, or the whole darned story ends with a period. The year is over and the last box has been checked, but the story continues on New Year’s Day. Even the most severe pivot is still connected to the other side of the angle, the beginning of the line. The line, the sentence, the story and the life do not really stop at all; New Year, Birthday, whatever. We may pause, indeed we do pause, sometimes quite often. Full stop? Nah. Not us.

That’s what’s got me thinking about the comma. The story goes on and on, one big run-on sentence with an occasional pause but never a stop. It’s connected front to back, side to side, and start to finish by those pauses, by the lowly comma. I think I get what McConaughy is getting at. New Year’s Day is a comma place for sure, but neither time nor life hits a ‘period’ there, either. We just keep on going. The comma means there’s more to come.

I think I might be a “comma person”, too.