January 22, 2017 – The Day in Review

“I will keep constant watch over myself and-most usefully-will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil-that none of us looks back upon our own lives. we reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.” – Seneca, Moral Letters, 83.2

When I read forward to “The Day in Review” I knew I had to use it more as a “Three Days in Review”, focused on America’s peaceful transition of power from Obama to Trump. It stood out as the meditation of closure. From choice of where you’re going to reigniting thoughts, to morning ritual, and finally to review, these past meditations are ones I wish the whole country had read. How did we, as a country, treat each other?

Yesterday’s meditation disclosed a seed of today’s. Epictetus’ list can be your way to start the day or your way to end it. Today’s meditation takes it one step further by reminding us that our self is predicated on our ability to recall what we’ve done. Did I do something that improved me? Did I do something that needs improvement? If we’re not thinking about what we’ve done we cannot expect clarity of what contributed to our happiness, or sorrow.

In a nutshell, over the course of time, we are building a self. Consider building a self like building a house. A plan is created, and construction begins. Do they simply move forward, or do they continually refer back to the blueprints? Things can cause deviations from the plan, and if the blueprints are not consulted the house may never get built, or it will do so at grave risk. Our self is like building a house. We have a plan of who we want to be, but if we move through life without reflection we may find ourselves not progressing, or left with a person we don’t recognize.

What if we were all keeping a journal of the things we said to others throughout our day? Are we missing opportunities to be a better self? Soren Kierkegaard writes:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

As I review how I handled the election season I see times in which I angered friends and possibly ruined friendships. Hopefully not the latter. Is it not evil for me to not consider how I acted and work to not be that person in the future? If someone refers to a Liberal as a “libtard” or a Conservative as  “nazi”, is that really the best way to act as a person and a citizen?

Treat every day as an opportunity to be better. Start the day with that thought in mind. End every day with a review of your progress.


A Sunday Afternoon in the Moment

My trail map

When I was in college studying philosophy and religion one element of learning was prevalent: be in the moment. It was not necessarily a critical component to any thought or thinker, rather it was a means by which the subject matter was understood. Historical understanding of ideas aside, experiencing the idea for yourself, in your own time leads to a greater understanding of the thing.

For example, Existentialists Soren Kierkegaard and Frederich Nietzsche both penned influential and timeless evaluations of who we are and how we become. Each approached a reaction to some historical event. For the former it was Hegelian thought, the latter Christianity. Yet their reaction to these subjects required an awareness of the now and what the present impact was. From the Buddhist blog “Wildmind“:

How often is a thing considered based on what it might be or what it might influence? In turn how often is the present influenced by that perception? But there are also past burdens. Things which we assume as future concerns and as such we respond without consideration as to their relevance.

Being in the moment means being mindfully aware of what is going on right here and now, in our experience, and this includes any thinking we do about the past or future. Much of the time our experience does not have this quality of awareness or mindfulness. A lot of the time we are like robots, automatically living out habitual patterns of self-pity, anger, wish-fulfillment, fear, etc. These habitual tendencies take us over and run our lives for us – without our being able to stand back and decide whether this is what we actually want to be doing. It can be a real shock when we start to realize just how habitual and automatic our lives are, and when we realize how much runaway thinking leads to states of suffering.

My friend Chris Gandy is a welcomed mentor in my endeavors, reminding me not to get caught up in the fallacies of past and future considerations. When posting stories on Facebook he will sometimes direct my attention to the purpose of the sharing and ask that I simply be in the moment, then move on to the next experience. Not to have “runaway” thoughts. It is not unlike Jesus’ parable of sowing seeds. Being distracted from the path is so easy when we become consumed by the other person.

Obviously the concept is far more complicated than the few words above but they serve as a frame to the greater discussion. It was with this in mind that I mounted my 2005 Trek, loaded up the Osprey Raptor and headed to UNF’s nature trail. There was roughly four hours of daylight left on this Sunday the first of April. For me it served as the demarcation point of winter to spring. Recently I had registered for the Jax Tri series and a 16 week training schedule was peering at me from Monday. The mind needed to purged and combining that cleansing with a slow 13 mile training ride happened as needed fact.

Rather than write of the time I will allow still moments obtained with my Blackberry 9000 to steal the credit.

A Sunday Afternoon in the Moment – Images