Reflections on a Seven-Year Journey is an introduction and overview to a quest I have been on for a number of years.
Also, it is an analysis and resolution to a problem I’ve struggled with recently relative to explicitly exercising love and compassion for others.
I will begin with why I am presently sharing these thoughts and why I initially began this endeavor in the first place.
In addition, I will reflect and comment on past lessons learned from this journey and then share some fundamental and essential lessons I’ve recently learned and internalized.
Finally, I will outline how I plan to proceed with this endeavor to consistently practice love for God and my fellowman.
Why I Am Presently Sharing These Thoughts
Due to a number of recent personal relationship experiences, I feel compelled to reflect on and analyze my current standing and progress concerning my daily practice and exercise of love towards others.
Over time, I have gleaned that I need to periodically adjust the “lenses” that are essential to not only practice love, but kindness, compassion, and forgiveness for others more productively. Ofttimes, my discretionary “lenses” get clouded or out of focus relative to how others perceive my intentions and practices in these relative pursuits.
Also, I have very recently learned and experienced first-hand some cardinal lessons. Lessons that I now understand were essential and necessarily needed to continue more effectually on this journey.
Furthermore, these lessons came at a cost. These experiences were mentally and emotionally taxing both to myself and others who I love and care about and who were a part of it.
Why I Began This Journey
There are half-truths and beliefs and then there are universal truths. A universal truth transcends the state of the physical universe whose order is derived from such truths.
It then logically follows that such a truth is considered eternal or absolute which is therefore applicable to everyone irrespective of their religion or personal belief system. Moreover, universal truths have consequences, both good and bad, and are germane and binding on everyone.
I have found during the course of my studies in the search of truth throughout my life that many of these universal truths are found in the Holy Scriptures and other intellectual and spiritual works such as the Tao Te Ching, etc. Consequently, I study these writings in my search for those universal truths to guide me in my life towards greater purpose, joy, and peace.
A New Beginning
I began this journey from the inspiration I received while reading Matthew 22: 34-40 in the King James Version of the New Testament around the age of 54 or 55. Quote, “34. But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, ‘tempting him, and saying, 36. Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38. This is the first and great commandment. 39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Over the course of many years of reading the New Testament, I have read this particular scripture many times. However, and for whatever purpose, as I read it this time my eyes were opened. I serendipitously and immediately understood that no matter how well we live our lives or treat others, without love being the impetus of our deeds and actions, those deeds and actions essentially count for naught.
What a disconcerting epiphany that insight was at the time! This understanding promptly caused a major shift in how I needed to change my paradigm about life and my purpose for living it.
It was at that point I reasoned that if love is the most powerful force in the universe and the greatest of all commandments, then I should focus my primary efforts to learn more about and better understand this concept and attribute… not to mention the practicing of it.
Also, I don’t know why my mind caught hold of this concept other than by the grace of God or because of the prayers of others. I must confess, up to that point in my life I was the typical selfish, self-centered, egotistical male archetype.
A Paradigm Shift
As my mind slowly shifted towards this new paradigm, over time I began to notice those rare but present people in our midst who seem to manifest or radiate love as naturally as we breathe. These individuals observably seem to be the envy of us all.
As I pondered upon this consideration, it occurred to me that the ultimate goal of all religions, in general, is to attempt to cultivate this attribute and power in us, the ordinary people. However, it soon became apparent to me that “they” approach it as one would attempt to make the tail wag the dog.
I became somewhat bewildered because the majority of people I know who profess to love God and neighbor seldom or if ever, practice or exercise love the way I understand it to be based on the very teachings and preaching’s of those who profess the codified attributes of it.
This left me to contemplate how to proceed down this new, essential, and fundamental path.
A New Path of Discovery
As I began this journey, I recalled the words from a song by Jackson Browne titled, For A Dancer. In it, he used dance as a metaphor for finding one’s way through life. At first, you copy the steps of those you want to become like until the dance becomes your own. You then proceed from there until, in the end, there is one dance you do alone.
From my insight into the words of that song, I decided to proceed by studying the behaviors of people who have this characteristic and the power of love within them.
I eventually realized, however; this would be somewhat difficult. It would be difficult since I only knew of a few people who possessed this virtue at a natural level of influence and distinction.
Furthermore, I would not only have to seek out these individuals as examples to emulate but also study related literature to gain a better understanding of how these celebrated people worked their magic.
Then, as I observed and learned about their peculiarities, I would affect the same speech, actions, practices, gestures, and mannerisms that I could to learn the “secret” of this power they practice and exercise consistently from an ostensibly natural source.
First Attempts and Practices
As I tried to practice the outward symptoms of love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness as I understood them at that time, I found I knew nothing of the inner fountain of these attributes.
However, one of the peculiar things I noticed about people who have this astonishing universal love is that they are in every way like rivers and streams. As they collect possessions and things that they like, they were apt to give them to other people.
Therefore, I began this practice. I noticed over time that as I gave things away that might be appreciated or uplifting to others, I began getting more of those things from whatever source it is that gives those things. Whether it was love or kindness, or gifts of a material nature, these things flowed back into my life with an increasingly greater abundance.
I had resolved, at some point, that this was the secret. Just recently, however, I learned it was only part of it. I learned and experienced from others that this part of it has to be patiently, carefully, and selectively employed to work its intended purpose; that of practicing love, kindness, compassion, and service to others.
More Questions to the Puzzle
As I progressed on this journey of explicitly exercising and practicing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness towards others, I began to realize that it had to be genuinely pursued out of Christ-like or motherly-love resolution; to include expections of nothing in return.
For example, when a person pays a tithe or gives to the poor, one should do it out of love and compassion expecting nothing in return… neither blessings from heaven nor recognition by others.
For believers in God, this is a peculiarly difficult task enjoined upon us; namely, that “thou shalt love the Lord thy God,” [and fellowman] not only going through the motions externally, but with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And that, of course, is very demanding indeed.
For instance, one shouldn’t pay tithes to garner blessings from heaven, even though that is what God has promised tithe payers, but only out of love for God expecting nothing in return and being grateful for the possessions and blessings one already has.
So the question and the puzzle remain: You cannot imitate this thing or concept called love… there is no way of “getting” it, and yet it is absolutely essential that we have it to keep the most significant of all commandments and to live a more purposeful, fulfilling, and joyful life at higher levels of existence.
Passing Ships in the Night
I knew that love was the most powerful force in the universe based on the teachings and practices of the most enlightened individuals who have walked this earth since the beginning of recorded time.
Individuals such as Jesus Christ (our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer), Mahatma Gandhi, Gautama Buddha, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and a personal favorite and hero of mine, Caroline Hemenway Harmon, as well as many other known and unknown individuals we have had the privilege of knowing from a historical, individual, and personal basis.
For example, I know that love, as Ralph Waldo Emerson elude to, is the prime moving power of God “Love is our highest word and the synonym of God.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it this way: “The conclusion is always the same: Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.” But the questions still persisted, “How do I best go about developing this attribute?”
Dr. Wayne Dyer taught that when you are struggling with a problem, someone or something–like passing ships in the night–will inevitably show up in your life to help you solve it… if you keep your eyes and ears open to receive it.
So, I struggled and continued on my path, making many mistakes along the way, as I still do.
However, it has been said by a number of wise sages… When a student is ready, a teacher always shows up in one form or another to assist one to gain further enlightenment and knowledge in their lack of understanding and shortcomings in that which they seek to learn… and they did!
A mentor that I had at this time bought me a book to read titled Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. This book literally changed my life and how I viewed the world, the people in it, and my relationships with them.
It took me some time to change my attitudes from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. I had to discard a number of paradigms and egos that I had developed and nurtured for over fifty years; which I still struggle with daily. But with love, kindness, and infinite patience, she helped me through this process. It was not easy for me or her either as it took almost two years to accept and embrace the truth of its teachings and then model this new paradigm.
Then, another mentor I had access to and still do, Russell Graham, gave me a book to read titled The Peacegiver by James Ferrell. The insights I gained from this book markedly helped me to better understand and more clearly focus on this exploratory journey of practicing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness I had embarked on.
My Current Understanding and Practice of Love
Based on my experiences and lesson I have learned first-hand for myself and from the council of others thus far on this quest, this is the way I currently understand and practice love towards my fellow man.
To truly practice love, one must genuinely want and desire health, happiness, and well-being for another at least as much as one does for themself, if not in even greater measure.
Then, one must be willing to sacrifice time, energy, treasury, and inconveniences to ensure that this happens where and when needed and called for. Also, to do it with kindness, patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, and integrity. In addition, I have learned that one must seek forgiveness from those who have been offended by this practice and sincere intentioned meanings when and if these practices and actions have offended them in any large or small measure.
Finally, one must not expect or seek anything in return… not even a Thank You and not be offended or feel slighted if gratitude is not explicitly given or even implied!
The following sentiments concerning love, written by St. Paul, also had a considerable influence on my current understanding of love and how it should be approached, practiced, exercised, and pursued.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods, to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
Love suffereth long, and is kind, love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemily, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh not evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child. I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things, For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am Known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.
Letter by Saint Paul I Corinth. 13
Past Lessons Learned from This Journey
Over the past seven years or so, there have been so many lessons learned, so many experiences shared, as well as many friendships made during this journey; a few that have turned into true friendships!
There have also been many failures, losses, and disappointments to emotionally deal with and reflect on.
I’ll briefly mention some of the things I have learned on this journey and then go more in-depth with four others: honesty, trust, risk, and feigned love; or that pretend love used for deception, manipulation, and false pretenses.
I have experienced the highest highs and lowest lows. However, the lows gradually and may sometimes become less painful because I now realize that those heartfelt losses or mistakes made were just learning opportunities to help me continue on my journey with more effectiveness.
This journey has not been easy! There are countless times that I was ready to give up on it and venture in other directions because of the pain, losses of friends and those I truly loved, and the many mistakes and failures on my part which I take full culpability for.
However, even though this journey of learning to practice love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness has consistently been difficult, I have experienced that it is the most exhilarating, most challenging, most engaging, and the most fun of all the journeys I’ve traveled!
After having traveled many roads in my life, I have found that it is the greatest journey of all… the practice of serving others with love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness and seeking forgiveness from others I have inadvertently caused conflicts, confusions, contempts, and misunderstandings with!
As I have progressed from one energy level to another through both my success and failures, I have observed and experienced that my health, peace, joy, gratitude, and awe for nature and life have increased; to include incidental and recurring moments of bliss from experiencing slivers of God’s love for us that I had never experienced before.
I believe this is because of the extreme gratitude my successes have rendered and also from the intense soul searching my failures have caused me to reflect on which precipitated a gut-wrenching humility on my part… which is what I most likely needed and, in retrospect, benefited from.
For example, as I have practiced kindness, I have experienced what research has proven. Specifically, that simple acts of kindness directed toward another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness.
Also, as I have failed with those individuals with whom I had the best of intentions of trying to be a positive and guiding force in their life because of my love for them, I learned a number of painful but insightful lessons of failing to understand their needs at the time before trying to address the needs I perceived they needed as a true friend would do.
For example, a few individuals have expressed contempt towards me for my uninvited intrusions into their lives, even though well-intentioned on my part.
As a consequence of these uninvited intrusions I have experienced emotional pain and humility as they pointed out that they perceived, in some form or another, I tried to “preach” to them my “insights” into life’s lessons because I felt or thought I was smarter and better than they and others which made it seem and sound like I “came-off” with a condescending attitude and holier than thou persona.
Even though this is not true, I try to constantly be aware of this perceived attitude since it seems this perspective has been expressed to me before by certain individuals I have offended and made to feel uncomfortable.
Over time, I eventually came to see the truth of this perception of others. Being cognizant of this, I strive to be more sensitive with this concern of others when offering advice they solicit, or not solicit, from time to time.
I know most poignantly and intimately that I am not smarter or better than anyone else. In fact, I feel very inferior to those I respect and whose virtuous traits I admire and even envy at times.
Furthermore, I think that is why I choose to spend my time teaching in an elementary school. That is the place and environment where love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and service best presents opportunities to practice these ideals.
It is also where individuals, yes, mostly women, excel in those areas which in turn gives me opportunities to learn from them which I do so daily, especially from my current administration and 6th-grade team. Most all of them are above me in what it is I desire to attain relative to the more important things in life.
I have learned so much from various administrators, teachers, parents, and yes, my students about how to love, be kinder, exercise patience, forgive and seek forgiveness, and render service as I perceive such services needed.
Additionally, I have a long list of my lacking virtues and I review them daily… and they are many!
Even though I try to work on my imperfections daily, I publicly admit that I am far from perfect and often fall short of the mark… even to the extent that I feel so unrighteous and undeserving of the blessings God, in His infinite wisdom, has blessed me with up to this point in my life. In fact, I acknowledge that anything I have achieved, possess, and have been blessed with as coming from God and His benevolent graces.
In addition, I have noticed as I strive to practice these stated improvements in my character, my fears of the unknown, my lack of faith in humanity, and my insecurities have decreased substantially. Even though these many weaknesses in my character still persist, including certain egos, I am acutely aware and work on them constantly, especially when pointed out by the criticisms of others which I do thankfully and seriously consider and do not take offense to.
I have learned to stop being offended. The behavior of others isn’t a reason to be immobilized. That which offends you only weakens you. If you’re looking for occasions to be offended, you’ll find them at every turn.
In fact, my recently deceased friend Roger, a savvy, experienced, and calculating businessman, views the attributes I am working on to internalize as weaknesses. However, having been and lived on both sides of this fence, practicing love, kindness, and compassion towards others not only requires a great deal more strength but greater courage than practicing their opposites.
As I had often pointed out to Roger, there is a line and not to confuse love, kindness, and compassion with weakness. The line is that anyone threatening the physical safety and security of my family, loved ones and friends, would evoke a response that would make the fury of a woman scorned to feel like a slap on the wrist.
My tendency to judge others has diminished; although I have to work hard every day on this weakness. I have learned and experienced first-hand that judgment is a love killer. One of my mentors put it this way, “When I am able to resist the temptation to judge others, I can see them as teachers of forgiveness in my life, reminding me that I can only have peace of mind when I forgive rather than judge. Also, as I notice this in conversations with others, it gives me a chance to seek their forgiveness if I have offended them in some way with remarks I have made with cynical criticisms.
Also, I have personally experienced, with strong feedback from others, that cultural attitudes, biases, and prejudices have a strong influence on how friendships form and develop and that the mores and attitudes, of individuals and society in general regarding relationships, must be respected and considered… especially relative to the person and situation that one is working towards a true friendship with at the time.
Furthermore, I have learned how to see the beauty and divinity in all people as Mother Teresa described it when someone asked her what she did every day in the streets of Calcutta. She responded, “Every day I see Jesus Christ in all of his distressing disguises.”
Finally, I have experienced at a deeper level of understanding the importance of honesty, trust, and taking risks in developing human relationships as well as the consequences of feigned emotions.
Yes, I have traveled far on this journey. However, I know that I have just scratched the surface and have a great deal more to learn and practice before I attain that level where love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness come naturally to me and are infused into my character without giving offense to others.
Love and Honesty
It seems to me that the first problem raised in exercising love is honesty. The Lord God says, at the beginning of things, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
What appears to be a commandment is a commandment, but also it is a challenge and a spiritual problem as I see it.
Over the course of this journey, I have observed and experienced if one exercises this attribute resolutely and tries to love God and neighbor, as love is defined and codified in the scriptures and classic literature, one finds that you can get very tangled up in its practice.
One gets tangled up because as a person tries to do the right thing one doesn’t always listen to one’s inner voice: we often pretend that it’s not there. That’s unfortunate because if you don’t listen to your inner voice, you are not listening to your own wisdom or to your own love.
You are becoming insensitive to it just as your hosts are trying to suppress the fact that, for the time being, they don’t want to be in your presence.
For example, very few of us can accept the idea that parents don’t love their children because that concept seems to be unnatural. It is said that the love of a mother is the most beautiful and natural thing in the world. But that sentiment isn’t always true based on my personal observations and experiences… It actually seems at times to be more uncommon than it is common.
If you don’t really love your child, as love has previously been defined above, you confuse them. The child would respect a parent much more if they just say something like, “Dear, you’re a constant “pain in my butt, however, I will look after you because I have to.” Well then, everything is quite clear.
Maybe this is something the child needs to hear and consider; that they need to be less selfish and more helpful to their mother. If nothing else, the child now knows that at least you’ll always be honest with them and that is something or even a basis in which to improve the relationship.
Love and Trust
I have learned this lesson a number of times. To trust oneself to be capable of love or to bring up love and share it… in other words, to function in a sociable and creative way is to take a risk or a gamble as it were. You may not come through with it as the receiver envisioned. When this happens, it causes a lot of confusion and hurt to the giver and receiver.
In the same way, if you form a true friendship/relationship with someone else, and you trust them, they may as a matter of fact not fulfill your expectations… this happens more often than not in almost every relationship.
Envisioned plans of how a relationship will progress seldom if ever materialize for a myriad of reasons. But that risk has to be taken. The alternative to not taking that risk is much worse than trusting and then being deceived, let down, or disappointed.
When you say, “I will not trust other people,” what you are saying in effect is that “I will not trust myself,” what course then remains? When you refuse to take the gamble of trusting yourself to be capable of love–or letting others love you–you become a prisoner in your self-made prison… not a good long-term strategy for mental health and personal development.
Also, people who can’t trust themselves to love, and have to take all sorts of artificial and manipulative measures to produce the effect of love for saving face, become progressively more incapable of loving or being loved at all. As a result of this, they create turmoil, misunderstanding, and chaos in themselves, in others, and in society in general.
Take the Risk
In other words, to live, and to love, you have to take risks. There will be disappointments, failures, and disasters as a result of taking these risks.
Invariably, when you metaphorically put your heart out on the stage, someone will inevitably stomp on it. But in the long run, this pain becomes more tolerable, can invariably turn into a great strength, and eventually, it will work out for the best in one way or another.
My point is that if you don’t take these risks the results will be much worse than any imaginable kind of loss or pain.
By tying up love in knots or trying to suppress it, one becomes incapable of it, but ironically one can’t destroy this energy. When you won’t love, or won’t let it out or let other people in, it emerges anyway in the form of self-destruction. This effect usually is a result of the absence of self-love or respect for self.
This is true because if you won’t take the risk of loving yourself properly, then you can’t love others with integrity, and eventually, you will be compelled to destroy yourself in one form or another, and not be able to achieve any sense of happiness, purpose or fulfillment over the long-haul.
But sooner or later, and especially in the end, there is really no alternative because eventually love, compassion, forgiveness, and service to others is the only road left to travel other than the ones that lead to general and overall unhappiness or total destruction due to the effects of the unbearable likeness of being inherent in the human element.
Feigned Love and Its Consequences
While on this exploratory path of explicitly practicing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness for others, I have found and experienced in personal relations a very wonderful and necessary rule… one must never, ever show or voice false emotions.
Never, under any circumstances, tell someone you love them unless you really do, to the best of your understanding of love, experience, and ability to do so. You don’t have to tell people exactly what you think “in no uncertain terms,” as they say. But to fake emotions, especially love, as a means to an end is not only destructive to the relationship but even more so to the person falsely professing it.
This is especially true and even more pronounced in family matters, between husbands and wives and children. It is also true and applicable between casual friends or friends you desire to have deeper relationships with.
Feigned love, superficial caring, and manipulative relationship practices for one’s own selfish purposes eventually and always come to a bad end.
Furthermore, this pattern of behavior imprisons the person that employs it impeding them from evolving and progressing to higher levels of existence where one can live in greater love, trust, health, happiness, and well-being.
Essential Lessons Recently Learned
The primary and essential lesson I have recently learned, experienced, and internalized is that before you try to give a gift of great worth, such as the implicit and explicit exercise of true love or personal insights to greater peace and happiness to another, the receiver must be evolved to a level of experience and understanding where they are ready to receive it.
It does not matter how bad you want it–sharing, educating, and modeling the virtue of love–for the person in question, based on the love you have for them, the gift cannot and will not be received.
Subsequently, I have also learned that if an individual has evolved to a point in their life, ready to receive that gift of true love, devotion, and friendship from someone–or whatever else it is they need to learn to progress in life towards greater peace, happiness, fulfillment, and purpose–it will most likely happen anyway with someone who is present, available and capable of sharing this great gift and knowledge and experience at that time. Again, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear!
I have recently learned that misplaced love always comes from your ego. Whenever anyone needs anything, reach out and offer right? Even if it is something they haven’t asked for or even fully understand or ready to receive.
This is not coming from any kind of understanding, wisdom, or awareness.
Yes, I wanted to be a positive, decisive, and beneficial influence in this person’s life due to my love for them, my sincere and deep desire for their health, happiness, and well-being, as well as for the affection I had for this individual.
In addition, I wanted this person to understand the importance and advantages of beginning the journey of consistently exercising love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness for others in their life; even if in some very small measure at this point in their life and at a level they could understand and be comfortable with.
Also, it was my sincere desire for them to not have to waste so many years, as I had done, before understanding that it is this journey of practicing and exercising love and service towards others is what will ultimately bring about increased joy, health, and well-being into their life to include a greater sense of purpose and personal fulfillment.
I’ve always understood and successfully practiced the art of remaining emotionally unattached to those I love and care about. This is important because emotions cloud judgment in helping the person in question to see more clearly in making better decisions relative to the journey they are on.
However, I failed to do this in this individual circumstance for a number of well-intentioned reasons that I won’t go into here.
Working yourself up with a huge amount of emotions because you so strongly want something for someone is not love. This is just self-satisfaction or an insincere way to fulfill one’s ego.
My realization of this fact, that I got emotionally involved, explained the primary cause of this unrealized friendship. This awareness generated a great deal of anguish and soul searching which just recently induced an emotional detachment I’m relieved to say and as a result, has brought peace back into my life even though the pain and sense of loss still lingers… and will for a time as I have experienced from past losses of this nature.
Invariably, I came to understand that true love is not about giving or taking. Love in this situation is… just doing what is needed or called for based on listening to that inner voice we all have to one degree or another.
One shouldn’t have any preferences or agendas in certain relationships; just simply doing what is needed or appropriately asked for is effectually exercising true love, kindness, and compassion.
Consequences of Undeserved Gifts
Another important and emotional lesson that I learned from this failed relationship is that whenever someone is placed in a situation that is beyond their understanding or unaware of their needs, then that individual will suffer because of their insecurities and fears. Subsequently, because of this, so many fearful and malicious thoughts will arise in that person.
For example, if you try to give someone something beyond their want or understanding and if you try to give someone something which is beyond their capabilities, they will eventually become overwhelmed, resentful, defensive, contentious, suspecting, and even mean-minded if pushed too far as I have experienced in this relationship.
They start thinking about all kinds of nonsense in their heads based on a fixed mindset which then precipitates paranoia, confusion, and all kinds of crazy fears and ideas. As a result, it gets to a point when they don’t wish to be in your company any longer.
I have experienced these kinds of responses even when making an effort to exercise a small and uninvolved act of kindness on random individuals. Their initial thoughts are “What are they after or what is their angle?” as it were, as their suspicious mind starts to calculate the perceived intentions of that innocent and unassuming act of kindness towards them.
Consequently, if you try to share gifts, like love or advice, or other things that they are not ready for, life doesn’t become better for them, life only becomes turmoil in so many ways for both the giver and the receiver.
If one really loves, cares, and is concerned about somebody’s ultimate well-being, one must guide them through the painstaking process of evolving that person to a higher possibility, where they will be able to receive higher dimensions of life, where receiving just happens to them because they deserve it and are ready for it.
So, the lesson learned here was, what you give, how you give it, and in what measure–in the exercise and practice of love, kindness, compassion, and service– is very important and time-sensitive.
In addition, I learned that for all of my good intentions and sincere desires, I was the major culprit in the failure of this friendship by trying to hurry the process along and by not trying to understand them better before seeking to be understood. This knowing is the greatest part of my pain.
Even though I’m quite sure this individual currently despises and is resentful towards me, I am still their friend, a true friend in the sense that I will always love them and will always be there for them if they need me to be. It is my sincere hope and desire that in time they will have a change in heart, can and will forgive me, and come to understand that I am not perfect, made many mistakes, and truly do desire the best for them as they pursue the interests, hopes, and dreams they have for their life.
Where Do I Go from Here
About five years before I had begun this journey, I was pondering the question, “What should I do with the rest of my life”?
After retiring from the business world and wasting a few years of my life bumming around, I knew that one day I would have to make an accounting of my life in some way or another.
Through much study and soul-searching, I realized that there was only one thing I could do to live a life worthwhile and to leave this world a better place than I had found it.
I understood what I should do when I read and finally understood what it meant when Jesus Christ said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it”. That was the answer, I would in effect, give my life away in the service of others.
As I came to an understanding of this realization, a poem popped into my mind. It was written by the famous Bengali poet of Calcutta, Rabindranath Tagore.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I awoke and saw that life was service
I acted and behold service was joy
I have found that I feel most on purpose when I’m giving my life away by serving others. When you’re giving to and serving others, in effect you’re serving God, humanity and you are being purposeful.
I inferred that whatever it was I chose to do, if I was not motivated by a true desire to be of service to others while being authentically detached from the outcome, I wouldn’t have a true purpose… regardless of how much abundance flowed back to me.
So, after twenty-plus years in the business world, I became an elementary school teacher. At the time, I believed that this was the best way to serve others and to “give back” to society which has given me so much.
This decision was the best investment I have ever made in myself and I have learned more about myself and the really important things in life in this capacity than I ever learned and experienced throughout the forty-five years or so prior to that.
Well, to love God is easy to understand although not always easy to practice. In John 14:15 it says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
As for my fellowman, I plan to continue on my journey of practicing and exercising love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness daily armed with the new lessons and insights I have learned and with thicker but clearer lenses to more effectively pursue my life’s mission statement or My Life Metrics.
Yes, I understand that as I proceed on this journey I will make many more mistakes. However, knowing that by making mistakes in this endeavor, I will continue to grow and progress on this path. I will also need to continue to forgive myself and others as I misinterpret the needs of others and as they misinterpret my practices and intentions. However, this is a good thing in that these missteps are a catalyst for continued learning, humility, and suppression of the ego.
Also, I have sought and asked for forgiveness from those who I have caused angst and concern. I can only hope they will find it in their hearts to forgive me… something I may never know one way or the other, but a sincere attempt to seek forgiveness was initiated and petitioned on my part.
In addition, since I’m confessing here, I have to say that at times I have been overwhelmed and resentful of those who have helped me on this path because of their evolved and elevated status. I now regret and apologize for having had these feelings now that I better understand the source of these sentiments.
Love, Appreciation, and Gratitude
I’ll conclude this composition on Reflections on a Seven-Year Journey with love, appreciation, and gratitude, for three very special people in my life, my wife Jill, and friends Elise, and Camille.
These individuals are true friends, my mentors, and ideal practitioners and exemplars of those individuals who exude love wherever they go. Everyone I know, and who knows them, loves and admires them. Individually they are more evolved and live in a higher energy field and dimension of love than the majority of the rest of us… to include me by a country mile.
All three advised me not to pursue this particular friendship that I was considering at the time. However, knowing me the way they do, they supported me in the decisions I made relative to the pursuit of it.
I believe they supported me because they knew I would learn the lessons I needed to learn to more efficiently move forward on my path.
My only regret is for the anguish I caused those who were involved in helping me learn these lessons. I am still trying to resolve in my mind and conscience how I justified this endeavor at their expense even though I was invited to a number of times.
As I finally acknowledged and shared the failure of my efforts in the pursuit of this friendship/relationship, not one of these three individuals ever said, “I told you so”.
In contrast, they loved me. They shed a few tears with me as I shared with them the experiences I had and the hard lesson I learned, in the pursuit of this friendship.
They intuitively knew, through their own experiences on this journey through life, the mental and emotional strife I suffered as did those who I involved in the process of learning these lessons for myself.
I love, respect, and appreciate all those individuals who were involved in this learning process.
It is my sincere hope and desire that the current friendships I have with these individuals, or once had, may in time develop and progress to where one day they may become true friends. I am indebted to them and I wish Godspeed to them in the journeys they are on in their lives!