Tag Archives: goals

Let go, let go, let go

Cast your fears into the wind;
let go, let go, let go.
Release them and start again;
let go, let go, let go.

There is nothing out of reach,
nothing that will fail to teach,
nothing hidden in the speech;
let go, let go, let go.

Leave your troubles where you stand;
let go, let go, let go.
You don’t need them anymore;
let go, let go, let go.

There is something else for you,
something worth the doing, too,
hurry now, before you’re through;
let go, let go, let go.

Loose those demons from your dreams;
let go, let go, let go.
Nothing is quite what it seems;
let go, let go, let go.

Anything you want is yours,
if you let some love endure;
let what ails you seek its cure:
let go, let go, let go.

08 FEB 2017

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More on Goal Setting

Some further thoughts on goal setting as it relates to self-improvement:

Most of the self-help programs out there (at least, the ones that charge a substantial fee and consist of more than a single volume book) assume that the reason you are seeking out their assistance is that you feel unproductive. Of course, for most that unproductivity is measured in terms of accumulated monetary wealth, dissatisfaction with your career or job path (of course, the corollary assumption is that any job that does not lead to the accumulation of personal monetary wealth cannot be satisfactory), a lack of friendships (and therefore a lack of networking by which to accumulate monetary wealth), or a separation from “normal” behavoir that is proven to result in, with the right sort of guidances, the accumulation of monetary wealth.

Self-help programs, in short, seem to focus on ONE thing: getting what you want. Of course, the more complex the program, the more difficult it is to actually define what you want — as a result, the failure to achieve it can always be blamed on your inability to accurate define it.

While the focus is on that one thing, the method for achieving that focus always contains another key element: TIME. Not only are you focusing on getting what you want, but you’re focusing on getting it NOW. Centerpointe Technologies, for example, uses as their selling point that you are able to achieving a deeper state of meditation than Buddhist monks. Bear in mind that most Buddhist monks who achieve the level of concentration and mental states we’re talking about here have been meditating for 20 or 30 years, and in fact, that state of meditation is the purpose for their lives, in a sense. The key to meditation as a spiritual pastime is not just the state of “Nirvana” that you reach, however. The key to meditation is what you learn about yourself by spending 20 to 30 years thinking about it. It is this missing link, the span of time required to actually “build character” so to speak, that is missing from accelerated learning, or quick-time self-improvement programs. The fact of the matter is that until you’ve spent 20 to 30 years thinking about what your goals are, why you picked those goals, and why you require goals at all, the goals that you set to achieve in a super-accelerated meditation program are NOT going to be all that useful — because without that time under your belt, you’re not going to really have an appreciation for those goals if and when you achieve them.

Live a happy and productive life according to a standard you have inherited and probably only somewhat understand. That’s the goal of many self-help programs. What they don’t tell you is that by circumventing the time-span process, by short-cutting the mountain path, you’re bypassing the difficult and necessary process of figuring out your own standards. Of not setting goals, or achieving victories on someone else’s playing field, but in fact taking the time to change the game itself.

Using a time-honored motivational mantra, like, “See the good in everything,” doesn’t work unless you first realize that there is bad in everything too — that there is a necessary balance between black and white, up and down, right and left, on and off. Hyping your circuits so you are ON all the time is not the answer. Using 15% of your brain, rather than 10%, is only useful if you think about things that people using only 10% don’t think of. And learning what that five percent is, requires more than just accelerating your own agenda. It requires looking, as Kurt Godel might have said, at the agenda that is not contained in the set of all agendas. At the goals that not only represent your personal ambitions, selfish desires and private fantasies, but that force you to transcend the personal, selfish and private to understand that whatever CAN happen, DOES happen.

So I wonder. Doesn’t having the ability to meditate more effectively than a Buddhist monk imply that I should be acting as if I were a monk-plus? Doesn’t gaining more intelligence, insight, serenity, personal power, etc. imply that there must be more than myself that must benefit from this increase?

What about the maxim “From whom much is given, much is expected?” I have NEVER seen a self-help or personal improvement program that said by increasing your self-value, you increase your obligation to the universe.

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The Perils of Goal Setting

Since the age of twelve, I have been exposed to the field of self-improvement. My father collected and read books on the subject — Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking and a slew of countless others. He also became interested in, and actually became a distributor for, the motivational self-improvement products offered by Paul J. Meyer’s Success Motivation Institute, and our house became a storehouse of multi-tape collections such as Blueprint for Success, The Dynamics of Personal Leadership and so on. This was in the late 1970s, so it preceding Tony Robbins as far as I know.

I of course being a directionless teenager (in the estimable opinion of my father, anyway), was instructed to read these materials and listen to endless hours of cassette recordings. My father’s speech became peppered with the buzz-words and slogans of this way of thinking — having a PMA or positive mental attitude, developing a POA or plan of action, and remembering quotes like if you are not making the progress you feel you should be making, or feel you are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined. I could go on. My dad was big on goal-setting. Never mind that at 14 or 15 I neither had the tools, experience or authority to exercise what was necessary to achieve my so-called goals — one of which was to avoid motivational instruction altogether.

Over the years, I have supplemented these books of my father’s with some of the same songs, but different verses, from other quarters. I’m OK, You’re OK, The Games People Play, Neuropsychology, The Road Less Traveled. My mother has offered to buy each of the kids one or another of the Tony Robbins courses. I myself have worked with the Centerpointe Holosync series, Learning Strategies Genius Code offering, Michael Gelb’s How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and countless other tomes on creativity, motivation, mental acuity and so forth. The way that some people approach diets, and physical exercise programs, I have followed the strengthening of the mind and the interior world.

But I find myself often at a strange place. The place of hereness. Where there is no need to establish goals, or to plan excessively for the future. It is a world of possibilities, perhaps, but also one in which possibilities are not something to be achieved, anticipated or even engendered, but rather simply to be experienced.

And of course, my success with most of the above referenced materials is something short of stunning. Because, to quote Mr. Meyer again, “my goals are not clearly defined.” Yes, I suppose I’d like to make more money. But for what, exactly? Yes, I’d like to have more free time. To spend doing what? Yes, I’d like to be able to learn faster, retain more information, absorb using more of my sensate capacities, reach a deeper level of understanding. But why? To baffle ’em with bullshit at the next cocktail party? To solve all the world’s problems? To “win friends and influence people,” or in other words, gain the ability to sell something they don’t need to people who can’t afford to buy it?

I wonder.

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I want to play live music again

One of the experiences in my life that has been the most exhilirating is playing music before an audience. It doesn’t matter how big the audience is, really.

I started out playing live music with my family on holidays. From the time I was 8 or 9, at Christmas and other family gatherings, my grandmother, uncle, father, cousins and brothers and sisters would gather around my grandmother (who played the organ), singing and playing a myriad of instruments, playing carols, old songs, and novelty numbers (like Shaving Cream, Sweet Violets, For I Had But 50 Cents, etc.).

My siblings and I all learned three instruments each growing up: piano, a string instrument (mine was violin), and a band instrument (mine was clarinet). I played from the time I was in second grade, adding to that list guitar, bass (electric and upright), saxophone, trumpet, accordian, lap steel (my father’s instrument) and various and sundry percussion. I even took drum lessons for a while. I also sang in choir from my seventh grade year on. So there was a lot of live performance: talent shows, band concerts, recitals, contests, etc.

In high school I formed a band with a couple of friends. We didn’t play any gigs, as I recall, but we practiced a LOT, often with small audiences of friends.

Then after high school I played in professional bands, all over Los Angeles from the Central to Madame Wongs, street scene festivals, and so on.

Then I went to Berklee. And played the subways, mostly. LOL. Made more money on the Blue Line than I ever made playing the Troubadour, I can tell you.

Moved to Memphis, started playing solo acoustic gigs. I played the Java Cabana coffeehouse every Sunday for 8 months and also did a gig at the Antenna Club as an Elvis impersonator. After Memphis, I moved to Seattle and played in a country-folk band. Played the Northwest Folk Festival, played in back rooms at bluegrass festivals, etc.

When I relocated to Ohio, I played in a classic rock cover band that did a couple of gigs, including a Harley Davidson club party.

Then I moved to New Orleans. And you would think that being in that city filled with music I’d still be playing. But as often happens, life gets in the way. I’m older now, and hanging out in bars is less healthy. And I’m set in my ways.

But playing live music is always a wonderful experience. Even if it’s just two people sitting in a living room and jamming. So if the opportunity arises, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. Just no touring, or thinking of getting a record deal. LOL.

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At the Wishing Well

I wish that I could still believe the lines
that feed the young and nourish childhood dreams,
the reassurance everything is fine
despite the raging chaos it may seem.

I wish the world would confirm to my will
when I am sure the course the world should take,
but what I want to move often stays still,
convincing me such wishes are mistakes.

I wish the course of my life was less blurred,
and that the path ahead was much more clear.
But often truth and logic are obscured,
and what seems plain is not what it appears.

I wish that the religion of my youth,
the vanity of hope I held so dear,
would have ten years ago revealed the truth:
that who you are is not found in the mirror.

I wish, and then for wishing want an end;
instead of dreams, to just touch solid ground,
and in this world, that often seems pretend,
to be at peace with what small things I’ve found.

But wishing is a habit hard to shake,
a tool that serves its purpose for a while,
resisting all attempts one tries to break
its hold, to seek for substance rather than its style.

I wish instead of wishing to just be,
and in that state to become without fear;
to loose the chains of whimsy and stand free.
When faced with being, seeming disappears.

26 FEB 2005

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Toward More Colorful Newspeak

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’re aware that I am in the process of organizing my poetry using del.icio.us keyword tags. I’m only about a tenth of the way through all the poems in this journal, and already I’m a bit overwhelmed by the number and variety of tags that I’ve come up with. That’s what comes, I suppose, from letting a poet identify the themes in his own work. However, it started me thinking about the whole tagging process. The goal, I believe, is to create a set of tags by which similarities and common subjects in posts can be identified and grouped — so that if one is looking for entries related to George W. Bush, or blogging, entries with those tags will show up on a search list. However, one thing that I’ve noticed is that there is a great disparity in the way that people tag their entries. My own range of tags shows a level of nuance that probably will escape most people. But as an example, peace and calm are on some levels related, but in other respects, they represent completely different things. By that same token, to infer a level of Newspeak here, peace and war are not necessarily polar extremes. In other words, war is NOT unpeace. Likewise, alternatives are not necessarily choices. One might have an alternative lifestyle, propose alternatives for energy generation, or serve as an alternate juror. You wouldn’t necessarily say, however, that you make an alternative. You make a choice, by choosing an alternative. You see where I’m going with this?

My fear is that by limiting yourself to “popular” tags, or “common” tags, you are by definition limiting the range of your expression. Further, what is one’s perversion may be another’s entertainment or even alternative lifestyle. As my father used to say when working for the Detroit Department of Sanitation, “it may be shit to you, but it’s our bread and butter.”

So don’t let yourself be too duly influenced by the tags that other people assign to their entries. Sure, it would be nice to get a lot of hits based on a shared keyword, but if that keyword doesn’t really describe your zeitgeist, at the very least include additional tags that further define your vision.

Remember, illusion and disillusion may be related terms, but the experience of one is quite different from the other. The use of tags is more than an exercise in sharing common parameters. It should also be an opportunity for expanding the awareness and vocabulary of the community. Because, as George Orwell proposed in 1948, once a word disappears from your vocabulary, the concept it represents has a limited future in your culture. The goal should not be reduction to an “essential” set of tags, no matter how sage and seemingly well-intentioned the creator of that set may be. Because what is essential, to quote St. Exupery, is invisible to the eye. The power of any word, including social tags, lies in the connotations it brings to the table that stretch beyond its mere dictionary definition.

The tags that you use illustrate the breadth and depth of your experience. They represent the range of connotations, mythologies, experiences, tangents, references and frame of reference that makes up who you are. They are a convenience, for sure; but if they force you into a conformity that denies the essence of your variety, that convenience is not worth the price you’re paying.

To coin a phrase: Tag. You’re it.

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