Troubled

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Troubled, Crisis, Troubles, despairWhat troubles you? Money? Family? Relatives? Competition at Work? Feelings of failure? Emptiness? Mistrust? The list goes on. There are so many things that can get under our skin and irritate us without let-up. Some of us live our entire lives in frustration, crisis mode, turmoil. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever seems to work out. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) put it best—

Double, double toil and trouble;

 Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~Macbeth

            In life, troubles will come; that’s a given. The issue is how we face them when they do come. Some people ignore their troubles, believing if they don’t address them they will go away. They won’t. Others put their troubles out of their mind, pretending they don’t exist. They do. Still others face their problems but have little hope of overcoming them alone. Yet they push on, commiserating with no one.

Most of us are troubled about something-or-another most of the time. Something is always troubling us. So please forgive me if I offer this sound, if risky, advice.

1.      Start with a thoroughly gut reaction! Cry, yell, sulk, hit something (not someone). If your emotions are raw, let them be raw. When something is eating away at your core you need to address it first at a primal level of gut reaction. Then, walk away. Get over it! After some time has passed, even within the same day, regain your composure and start to think clearly, peacefully. Address the issue head on. A true friend may be needed to give you honest advice..

2.      If you are an external processor, talk with a trusted friend who has some wisdom. If you are an internal processor, get alone for an extended time period; ruminate. Drink tea & remain calm.

3.      DO SOMETHING. What should be done first to solve this problem? What RESOURCES can be drawn upon to help you?

4.      Evaluate if your actions made a difference. To what degree did they help toward a solution to these troubles?

5.      What’s next?

6.      Pray for God’s wisdom and insight. You are not in this alone. If you do not believe in God or prayer, do it anyway. There might be a big surprise in the light at the end of the tunnel. (NO, not a train.)

7.      Learn to ask the questions that need to be asked; even if it turns out that YOU are the problem.

There are very few troubles that come our way that do not have a solution. Whether it comes from private pondering or picking the brains of our friends, or turning to God, these are always ways to face our fears and our foes, and to overcome them. DO NOT give up!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Lake Reflections

 

relfections on a lake, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, Christians, Peace, On Golden Pond, Reflection
Image credit- Picture Images, Gary Davis, photographer

The 1979 play On Golden Pond, written by Ernest Thompson, was a call for us to consider the rifts that develop within families and between generations. Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn portray a family whose love for one another has been long lost. Together at the lake it is testy, at best; at other times, combative. Slightly hopeful.

 

Lakes can be places of renewal or, as in On Golden Pond, seething tension. It’s all up to the people gathered.

 

Lakes have always brought out my pensive side. My musings run from how to kill those jet-skiers disturbing my peace to the journey of life, brought on by a family of loons sounding their call. I like to think a lot at a lake:  I like to write a lot at a lake, as I am doing now. Lakes draw my soul to the surface and direct my words to wander through the pages of my life.

 

Some of the pages record surprising “Ah-Ha!” moments; other pages, forlorn endings. In recent days I’ve written new pages within the books and articles I enjoy creating so much; other pages record new chapters of my own journey. It takes time to realize that all chapters do end, only to lay the groundwork for ensuing chapters.

 

Taking breaks from writing, I enjoy sailing. Sailing on a lake is invigorating! The wind pushes the boat along as it also moves the heart to soar. But today we missed the wind, sitting dead-calm on the surface. Maybe tomorrow. [Although sitting dead-calm, waiting for the wind to move, brings sailors together, uniting them in comradery, birthing new ideas.] Personally, I prefer cutting through the waves at a 60  list. More chance for error—but oh, the exhilaration!

 

Evenings carry the laughter around a fire-pit, where friend’s burn hamburger and chicken alike; not to mention charred buns and overcooked S’mores as the moon replaces the sun.

 

Finally, the exhilaration of the day gives way to closing thoughts and the body’s exhaustion. Just a bit more, writing, more pondering…, at least until the mind ceases to function.

 

It’s good to have friends with lakehouses who offer them to others for rest, refreshment, and rejuvenation. Find one. Then, maybe you’ll find your soul again.  Like I do— every year.

 

And thank you, dear friends, for lakehouses and so much more.

 

  Gary

 

Viral Infection

 

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, Viral, Infection, Runny, Nose‘Tis the season for summer colds; viri, if you please. In the last couple of weeks I have had two of them— one in my sinuses, the other on my laptop. Actually, ONE in my body, and 555 on my laptop. I was at the point of despair. I could not be productive because of “malware, viruses, Trojans (probably a few Spartans too), and worms,” and I could not breathe or think clearly because of the, er, mucus. It was disgusting, to say the least. Now, all is well!

Why is it that such small widdle infections shut down our bodies and render our electronic selves null and void?!? It’s just not fair! I want to live a vibrant, productive life; not one run down from some microbe impossible to see even under an electron microscope (die, you sucker!), let alone by some hacker’s idea of fun. (May the computer-gods have mercy on their foul deeds.)

But isn’t that just the way it goes sometimes? We make these great plans for our day, our life, then we wake up one morning with a runny nose; or our computer gives us so many pop-ups and redirects that we just want to chuck it against a wall!?! Does infuriating ring a bell?

It has always astonished me that the evolution theorists don’t seem to be talking to the chaos theoristsLeft to develop on their own, things do NOT improve:  they get worse, like a teenagers room. Left untreated my virus would run its course and run me down. Selah. Left unchecked, my computer virus would render my faithful widdle waptop useless. Selah.

Things are not getting better.

Certainly, we have great advances in medical technology, protecting the environment, improving the quality of life, even in constructing faster and more versatile computers. But, overall, would you say our world is a better place? My runny nose and CNN seem to indicate otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, these modern technologies and discoveries make my life easier and more productive every day, except for the recent 555 invasion. But we seem to have regressed to a phase of human development where individual power, national and/or religious rights, and the struggle for world dominance has supplanted civil, humanitarian respect for our fellow inhabitants of this planet.

Some people cry out “Why can’t we all just get along?!? Good question. The answer isn’t so pleasant.  Want it? At its core? Here’s my version—

We have turned our backs to the principles God set down at Creation

and decided we knew how to run things better than He does.

Thus, virus infections in both man and machine.

Just brilliant!

  Gary

Building Blocks

Dr, Gary, Davis, Christian, Clueless, Christianity, Building, Blocks, Build up, Most of us know the things that wear us down, that tear us down. Chronic car problems, an over-demanding boss, tension at home, “teenagers.” But what about the things that build us up? Being content one evening will not strengthen you for long:  turning in for the night with a sense of accomplishment, night after night, will do more for you than almost anything else imaginable.

So allow me to offer a list of some of the things that have, and still do, build me up-

1.      Accomplishment.

2.      Healthy relationships.

3.      Restoring broken relationships.

4.      One good, yea verily, great, friendship.

5.      Being loved.

6.      Loving someone.

7.      Sharing your pain with someone else.

8.      Crying.

9.      Resolving issues.

10.  Giving to others.

11.  Self-care.

12.  Admitting, and facing, your guilt and failures.

13.  Identifying and defining tightly that which fulfills your passion.

14.  A sense of purpose

15.  Time alone.

16.  Forming an open, transparent relationship with the God who made you.

17.  Times in deeper realities through prayer and imagination.

18.  Difficult situations.

19.  Difficult people.

20.  Working hard.

There are probably many more things that build me up, but one in particular I MUST mention or go unwisely amiss of any advice I might offer. Spending time, both quality & quantity, with my wife Starr Lynn Davis.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

insanity

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, insane, core, values, change, It’s often said that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  Although attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the definition is so widely used that even the great genius himself may have usurped it elsewhere.

            Nonetheless, we all do it. We all continue in the same procedures, the same management practices, the same life-style choices, the same patterns of daily life, and wonder why things always seem the same; monotonous, flat, zestless, perfunctory. Ergo, insanity. And I am just as guilty as anyone else.

            So, how do we confront this irksome, repetitive monotony? Surely there are training courses and books and articles in abundance that can help us change our ways. But is it simpler than behavioral re-patterning? Is it more basic, something intrinsically connected to the human condition? This writer believes it to be so.

            Our desire for sameness is a reflection of our need for safety, stability, security. Change, though also needed and usually necessary, threatens our inherent security levels and launches us into uncertainty, hinting of future instability and a relinquishing of our personal and/or corporate safety.

            Change, whether it be continuous change (improvements on past ideas or inventions, like automobiles), or discontinuous change (major paradigm shifts, like smart-phones), is a natural challenge to our way of life. We need to adapt to the “new,” which implies letting go of the old. The earth is no longer flat; nor is the British Empire an empire; nor is the atom the smallest particle. Shifts in discovery and invention challenge the way we perceive our world: they change our patterns of life on an individual and global scale.

            When change is disruptive of our way of life, be it for better or worse, but especially for the worst, we must adapt and challenge what comes our way. The formations of nation-states across early China and medieval Europe were bloody affairs, uprooting peoples and destroying cities and lands. The same can be said for the formation of the United States. On a personal scale the arrival of a new baby is disruptive of a way of life; so also does moving your family to a new location bring uncertainty into the formerly predictable way of living. Insanity.

            This ever-changing, uncertain world makes it all the more imperative that each of us formulate a set of core beliefs and principles that are both true to reality and aligned with truth. To not have these core values in your life is to foster further instability and insecurity.

            It has taken me years to construct my core values; and they still require tweaking every year of so. What about you? Are you aware of your core values? At rock bottom, what holds you together?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

“When did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you?”

Dr, Gary, Davis, despair, Hobbit, Dwarves, doilies, comfort zone, dreams,  It was with this question that Gandalf the Grey, Wizard of Middle Earth, challenged Bilbo Baggins of the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

            Bilbo had become comfortable, complacent, uncomplicated; retired, in some senses. He had grown at ease with the life he had come to enjoy in the Shire. Everything was as it should be; everything was in its place; life moved along within predictable perimeters. Then, in one evening, his world was launched into chaos and mayhem with the arrival of Thorin Oakenshield’s band of thirteen dwarves. With dwarves and dishes flying everywhere Gandalf arrives to bring a meager sense of order to it all. It is then that the Quest to retake the ancient Kingdom begins to take shape.

            It is often out of chaos and mayhem that our own lives begin to take shape. Tragedy cuts short our plans and dreams; broken trusts confound our relationships; fear grips our souls with spiritual and emotional stringency. There seems no place to go but…, actually, there just seems no place to go: we believe there is no way out of the quagmire that bogs us down in futility.

Thus do we give up.

            Do not despair. There is always a way to push your way through the fray and conquer. Some suggestions, if you will—

1.      Stop! Give your heart and mind time to recover from the shock.

2.      Ponder. Think through your own shortcomings as well as external causes of the recent events that plunged you into this devastation.

3.      Talk with wise friends; not just with drinking buddies who will commiserate with you. You need sound advice and reflection.

4.      Pray for guidance from above…, especially if you do not believe in a god. There just may be one who might surprise you. Boo!

5.      Do NOT watch excessive amounts of TV to escape. That will merely dull your senses and make you tired the next day.

6.      If you are married, talk with your spouse about what you are experiencing. This is the one person in the world who loves you the most. Time to open up.

7.      If the road ahead still seems muddled, seek professional advice. A life-coach, a professional job coach, a relationship therapist, a pastor, AA. You do not have to go this road alone.

8.      Recall your own network of friends. There usually is someone there with connections.

9.      Use an actual piece of paper and pencil (not pen) to clarify issues, draw connections, identify failures (your own & others), and to lay out your next steps. Do this alone first, then, with someone who knows you v-e-r-y well. BE HONEST.

10.  Let it all go on a walk, a run, a basketball court, Ultimate Frisbee, or a fine dinner out. Thinking about your situation ad infinitum will drive you crazy.

I make these recommendations because I have been where you are now in life. I have known the pain, the broken trusts, the tragedies, the loss of those I love, the personal failure. You can and will get through this— for your own sake, and for those you love.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Putting a finger on Dignity

Dr, Gary, Davis, compassion, character,  genuine, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, dignity, respect, What exactly is dignity? It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is. Some people attach it to position or authority; some to rank or leadership. Others tie it to a civility in a situation gone chaotic. Still others will automatically attribute it to old age and longevity. One’s physical stature may come into play as the respect shown a tall man or statuesque woman. Some beauty projects dignity as well; but not all beauty.

If you would aspire to be one considered to have dignity, allow me to proffer 10 considerations.

  1. Be honest with yourself about yourself. Facades taint dignity.
  2. Be forthright with others, with respectful graciousness. Crass openness is offensive.
  3. Always be considerate of the rights and needs of others. You do not need to win to be right.
  4. Steep yourself in humility before the God who created you. We may be at the top of the food-chain on this planet, but the universe has many surprises in store for us.
  5. Take on the deportment of a servant, especially if you are a great leader of industry. This must be genuine, flowing from deep within your being.
  6. Take on a heart of compassion. Express it tangibly. [James 1:27]
  7. Hold others in higher esteem than yourself.
  8. Do not take yourself so seriously; or your position, or those who laud your accomplishments.
  9. “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” [Romans 12:18]
  10. Do not sit in judgment over another unless you are paid by the state to do so.

Genuine dignity is the blending of inner character and external action, without façade, without pretense, seeking only personality integrity and the betterment of others. BE who you have been designed to be without affectation. As we say around here—

Honor God, honor people…, make a difference.

THAT is indisputable dignity.

‘Nough said,

Gary

Dimmer Switch

Why are we ON so much of the time? Too many of us just never STOP. We fill our lives with important things to do; then we keep filling them to overflowing. Something has to give, or break, or wear down. Usually, it’s us. We can run at 110% for a long time, but not forever.

Johnny Carson (1925-2005) former host of the TONIGHT SHOW once said, “Death is Mother Nature’s way of telling us it’s time to slow down.” He had a point. We simply never stop, or come to rest until we die. Hard work builds character, stamina, and commitment; and it is good for the soul. But does it have to take hold of us so unrelentingly that we cannot NOT work? Seriously, when do you stop, just sit, or read a book on Kindle? When was the last time you chucked a football into the hands of a friend; or beat the pants off of someone in HORSE (1on1 basketball)? There are beaches to walk, mountains to climb, and paths to be trodden all around us. Leave the office, your Lazyboy, your FB, iPhone, & SKYPE behind.

If you have decided to install an ON/OFF Switch in your life, where you come to a conscious point when you voluntarily shut down, keep in mind that your ability to truly shut OFF will be nigh to impossible. If you are like me, you will find it too tempting to do just one more thing. It is the way we are wired.

The solution is obvious— install a Dimmer Switch alongside. It might be one which is set on automatic, where specified triggers shut you down whether you want to or not. [Kids come to mind.] It could be one that is self-monitored; but too many things can go wrong with a Self-Monitored-Dimmer-Switch. It is best to give the control of the switch to someone else. (Ask me how I know.) You may not like it when they dim you down; but eventually, you’ll thank them for doing it.

There are times in my life when I need to heed that old adage “Be still, and know that I AM God.” (Psalm 46:10, Bible) I need to reconsider its corollary as well— “Be still…, and remember who I am.”

I need a Dimmer Switch. How about you? Actually, I’m stopping now. Click!

‘Nough said,

Gary

I like my closet

Some days you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. We’ve all been there. The pressures of life weigh in on us so heavily that we lose the strength to face another day. This is especially true around the holidays— gifts to be bought and wrapped, meals to be prepared for the imminent arrival of guests & family. Added demands upon our already frantic lives.

Some of us, yea verily even extroverts, oft seek sanctuary in our closet, whether figuratively or literally. We retreat to a place of momentary safety, a hiding place, where no one can find us. We seek silence, solitude, serenity— commodities sorely lacking in our present pace of life. [Buddhism has a lot to teach us on this subject.] Large companies are scheduling team-building retreats for their managers and department heads; Christians have been going on spiritual retreats for years; Muslims fulfill one of their Five Pillars by making at least one journey to Mecca during their life-time.

There are at least two kinds of closets. The first kind is within us, holding things private, things which are best kept to ourselves. The other one holds us. It is a place for us to gain perspective and strength, to find solace for our soul. It may be a literal closet, or a place of safety—a friend’s home, a favorite bar, a winter hike through snow, a time of reflection, a rich conversation with a confidant over a wee dram of Glenmorangie. [Note: a roaring fire often aids in melting our resistance to search within.]

So as our lives continue to accelerate, make sure you go into your closet often, to your place of escape, to remind yourself who you really are. To be properly equipped to grapple with the daily barrage of activity and information that assaults us, we all need those times of retreat, wherein our focus must be on refurbishing our spirit, building our character, and finding rest for our soul. And may God bless and honor those who have created a closet for me. I’m ready to go in…, how about you?

Closing the door now,

Gary

Serenity

Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue— s e r e n i t y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the conficated Lakehouse of Alan & Diane Galbraith, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life— like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife as Starr, or why couldn’t we have our own children (Josh & Beth are adopted; from this planet, we think), or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others? This emPulse comes to you from my laptop, in front of that roaring fireplace, as I write in deep contemplation and peace.
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I didn’t notice it so much as did Starr. Saturday eve, as we climbed into bed, she put her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’e LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I are here! Granted, it’s only three days…, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves— our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14:27 Christian Bible

Dr. Gary Davis