Meditation #7 is from the middle section, Noon, in this free serialization of my book, A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World’s Happiest Man, and concerns itself with our parents’ generation and how it yielded the world we got to grow up in. A full index for the articles so far can be found at: Gift of A Million Different Things
David Stone, Writer
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Meditation #7, My Dad and His Generation
There came a day, after reading Tolle, Zukov, Dyer and Chopra, when I realized I had a handle on the basics of this refreshed way to see the world. More followed, but I knew better how to live my life and to create new habits.?
I first had to throw away a warehouse of things Id learned and to accept that the way the world worked was not as Id always believed that it did. Listen, I was already fairly eccentric. Not cut from any well-known mold, I still believed in plenty of truths that turned out to be false. Id believed in them because everyone knew them to be correct, and no one was wasting time debating about them.
The intrinsic value of hard work is my favorite example.
Id believed that hard work nets real gains for people who want to succeed. By hard work, I mean the struggle endured to produce future results, even in a distant future. That included extra working hours to impress my boss, doing tasks my employer demanded because he preached that they led to success and pushing myself into exercise regimens intended to accelerate health and facilitate competitiveness. There was more, but these come to mind right away. What I know now is that hard work is probably the most unpleasant and least fertile of all strategies, and if good things come out of it at all, its the result of an accompanying focus on our dreams, not from our labor. The balance achieved in moving away from a work as the solution mentality to inspired activity and play quickly enables happiness and yields what we value most.
Were encouraged to believe that weve all been born behind the 8-ball and, by concentrated effort and determination, we have a chance to get around it to the things we wantprovided, of course, that the God of our creation hasnt got another obstacle waiting for us.
Its an interesting collateral observation that few of us have much of a view of what we want in life apart from what weve been told we should want. Few of us make the effort to know who we are and what were about, and this makes ineffective practices more likely. If we dont know where we really want to be, one road is just as good as any other.
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The idea that we are born in a deficit and must work our way out is far from the truth. We even knew that once. Children arent conceived expecting the worst to happen if they dont scramble to escape an unpleasant birthright. On the contrary, they expect things to get better automatically until optimism is pounded out of them.
An expectation of growth and prosperity is inherent from the instant sperm meets egg and the fantastic process of making a human begins. No, Im not forgetting that some children are born into desperate circumstances, intense poverty, warfare and disease. What I am saying is that, even children born into those situations are born with the expectation of improvement. Relatively, they get it. It doesnt make sense to compare the conditions of a child born in Somalia with those of one born in Chicago. Some fortunate people believe that to be born in what are considered adverse conditions implies bad luck to start off life, but the universe always stages many platforms for development. In places, great opportunity exists to reshape the environment and most of whats in it. Insisting that all should live as if born into an already highly developed world chokes invention.
My father was as focused and committed as anyone I will ever know. He learned early what was expected of him and answered societys call, regardless of what obstacles fell in his path. The first obstacle I know about was his being stricken with infantile paralysis, polio, when he was thirteen years old. If youre aware of Franklin Delano Roosevelts battle with this disease, which he suffered as a young adult, you may understand how difficult it was for even the wealthy to conduct normal lives with the disabilities that resulted.
My father was a farm boy. His family lived off the land and dairy cattle grazing on it. His brothers became farmers; his sisters, housewives and mothers. Unfortunately, Dad was not much for storytelling, especially concerning painful experiences in his life. I never remember him discussing what it was like to awaken as an adolescent to the knowledge that, even if able to walk again, he certainly would never run, climb a tree or jump in a creek on a summer day. He was never going to be a farmer.
With only one of his siblings still surviving, I will never know what communal love blossomed to help my Dad get through public school and go on to become a career accountant. I dont even know how he got to school at a time when there were no buses for transporting children and the term barrier free had not been invented.
Its unfortunate that the stories we end up wishing to hear dont strike us as important when were youngsters. By the time our curiosity arises enough to ask, its often too late. Memories fade. Pains have been scrubbed, and new days have dawned. Our ancestors have buried their tales with them.
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