Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Secret To Life?

Well I found the secret to life, I found the secret to life, I'm okay when everything is not okay (Tori Amos-Upside Down)

I believe I've mentioned my penchant for winning free stuff before. For example this week I won two free movie passes to My Blueberry Nights along with the soundtrack.

One of the free items I won was a copy of the book The Secret. Like a previous book I've blogged about, I would never have read this of my own volition. However, it was free and more importantly, small enough to carry in my bag to and from work. (The reason I've not yet read The Poisonwood Bible is because the size is so daunting!)

At any rate, I've been reading The Secret and must say I've been pleasantly surprised. Not without criticism of course but there are many ideas that I can readily identify with.

The first is the power of positive thinking. Growing up, I was immersed with the philosophy of Norman Vincent Peale- a prolific writer and founder of the magazine Guideposts. Everything related to the power of positive thinking. This was linked to faith, prayer, miracles and the mysterious ways of God.

Also in The Secret they actually use the Bible as a reference for what they term "The Creative Process"- (Step 1: Ask, Step 2: Believe, Step 3: Receive) It's based on Matthew 21:22 and Mark 11:24. These verses basically say to have faith that you will receive what you ask God for.

Another idea I really relate to is an attitude of gratitude. Any long-term readers of Danifesto will know that I have come back to this idea of gratefulness and grace time after time. The Secret encourages this attitude by suggesting a variety of creative ways to give thanks (although it never says directly to "whom") from a gratitude rock (in your pocket to remind you) to morning rituals (to start your day off positively).

The practice of visualizing also resonates with me. This really clicked with Tae Kwon Do. I would see something demonstrated, rehearse it in my mind and then carry it out. Maybe not perfect the first time but in my mind it would be! This practice soon transferred to my dance classes and eventually Tai Chi. I had to actually imagine the kinestic feeling of doing the move being introduced. I noticed when I wasn't given time to visualize that I didn't do well at all. Additionally if a new move was presented in a way that seemed really challenging/overwhelming my initial reaction would be "Oh I'm going to have problems" which was usually the case. There is a reason why we call these "self-fullfilling prophecies."

I do have some lingering questions about The Secret that trouble me. First of all I resent the suggestion that people are at the "wrong place and the wrong time" because of negative thinking. Do the authors of this book have the audacity to suggest that the victims of the Chinese and Burmese disasters were not victims at all but actually responsible because of their mass, group negative thinking?

Also what if two people are asking for the same thing? Or two different things that are mutually exclusive? Using The Secret, does the one who believes more get it? Or do they both cancel each other out with all their positive imagery?

And finally, can't we all recall times of bitter disappointment? Times when we truly, honestly believed with all our hearts, souls and minds that something would turn out differently only to have our spirits crushed? This reminds me of problems I have with faith healing- that if you REALLY believe and have faith that God WILL heal you of cancer, MS, or homosexuality to name a few. And that if you aren't healed it's due to lack of faith.

Has anyone else read the book or watched the movie? What do you think? Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Share!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No Day But Today

I'm not sure why I bothered to get a CD player, MP3 player or an Ipod. I seem to have a plethora of tunes stored in my head, ready to play at a moment's notice!

One of these songs, "No Day But Today," popped into my head while listening to a sermon from my minister. The sermon title was "How to Have Life and Have it More Abundantly." It was based on the scripture passage...... The pastor suggested five things to do: 1) Deal with the unhealthy choices that separate you from the authentic person you are 2) Commit to a worthy cause 3) Care for others 4) Getting outside your own problems 5) Commit to your own spiritual growth and 6) Sharing this message with others.

Then he said something so interesting I had to write it down. "The most important person in your life is the person in front of you at this moment." He told about a friend of his that had terminal cancer and how precious life was to him.

I had a flashback to the movie Rent where Mimi sings to Rodger "I live this moment as my last." Although it sounds cliche, the present really is a present. That's one of the reasons I enjoy activities like swing dancing or tai chi. You must be truly present to do well. You really can't be thinking of other things. If you start to worry and obsess, then you anticipate what will happen next and usually you'll be wrong.

There was a scene from the drama "Six Feet Under" that I'm reminded of here. A mourner asks one of the morticians "Why do we have to die?" After a short pause he replied, "To give life meaning." The unknown amount of our mortal life necessitates that we make every moment count.

My friend Mandy once gave me one of the nicest compliments. I was wondering why so many people wanted to attend our Korean farewell party. She told me "When you are with someone, you make them feel special."

So today I'd like to encourage you to live this moment as your last. In your dealings with others, be really present. And live your life abundantly! Carpe diem!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Remember the Love

All through the Bible there are instances of God speaking to people (believers and nonbelievers alike) and yet it seems that, in these troubled times, when someone makes this claim, we tend to question their sanity or alterior motive. Is it because we think God has said all that needs to be said? That there is nothing new to be revealed?

I suspect it has more to do with the fact we aren't listening (much) anymore. We talk at each other, not to each other almost non-stop all day long. And when we remember, we talk at God as well. I feel we are saying less and less and listening even less than that.

Many of you have noticed and noted that Danifesto has been silent the past month or so. This is because I've been listening- to you in your blogs, emails and phone calls as well as listening to the silences and quiet. I have been determined to not add to the fray just for the sake of hearing myself.

Last Sunday I actually heard God speaking to me through a song in church. For quite some time I've been mourning the loss of a dear friend. Corresponding with his mother helped me but I feel I've turned a point after listening to the choir sing this song during our morning service (a clip).

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love.
Seasons of love.
525,600 minutes! 525,000 journeys to plan.
525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?
In truths that she learned, or in times that he cried.
In bridges he burned, or the way that she died.
It’s time now to sing out, tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends.
Remember the love! Remember the love!
Remember the love! Measure in love.
Seasons of love! Seasons of love.

It was God saying to me, "Mourn no more for the moments that were lost and will never come again. Don't keep focusing on the way that he died. Celebrate instead the moments of love you were given. Remember the love." This message impacted me so profoundly that tears were streaming down my cheeks long after the last note had been sung.

And so, in closing, I wanted you to hear what I heard- Measure your life and the life of others in love. Have a great day!
"Life isn't about the breaths we take, it's about the moments that take our breath away." (source)"