Snooze Button Is Not Your Friend

This time next week we will all be living in the future. The question is, will it be any different from today? And if we wish for life to be any different from today, do we have the courage and conviction to make it so?

With every New Year comes a washing of new opportunities for us to embrace. In some ways, it is as if the universe is giving each of us a fresh start – one free of regrets, insecurities, self-doubt. But the New Year, at least for as long as we keep the flame alive, is one of the most important moments in our lives. From this springboard, we can change our lives forever.

Change occurs with the first step. What many fail to realize, however, the second step is the most difficult. Making a commitment or resolution is easy. Making sure we follow through in the face of a hundred reasons not to do so is where the real change occurs.

Many of us one day realize we are staring at a future we don’t particularly like – one many times the result of us passively turning over the events in our lives to other people or perceived factors. Life is easier, we tell ourselves, without the immediate pain of the moment. Letting life roll along with us simply along for the ride of least resistance seems easy. What we one day realize, however, the long-term pain from not having the courage to wrestle away the rudder of life can be excruciatingly harmful.

And like many of us, I can look back in life and see clearly remember those moments in which I realized I was in trouble. What I didn’t realize is that by the time they crystallized in my vision, they’d been in play for an extended period of time – damaging my life and those around me. Those days – the moments of realization – will always be the darkest in my memory. There is nothing like facing compounded pain and realizing you could’ve prevented it all.

Many people will make a list for the New Year – items they’d like to accomplish. Some will list dropping a few pounds or making sure to spend more time with their family. But the reality is, most of these well-intentioned goals will dissolve before long – a victim of us allowing the pain of the moment to overpower the reward of the long term. Hitting the snooze button on life is one of the most daunting obstacles to changing our lives. By doing so, we passively let life move along without us.

This coming year, go find something in your life you’d like to change. Write it down and place it somewhere you cannot avoid seeing each day. Understand the forces of doubt are powerful and everywhere you look. Also, remember the pain of letting life passively move along with you or your dreams in the rearview mirror. Make next week different – make this the year when you take back your life.




Holidays Offer Reason To Believe

I believe.

Every year around this time we run across reminders to ‘believe’. But in each instance, the message is incomplete – never really telling us what to ‘believe’. Here, over the course of 500 words, I hope to help answer offer a few suggestions.

First of all, I still believe in God – regardless of how cool or uncool this might seem. The reality is He is there and if you don’t believe me, I’d invite you for a test drive without Him. Traveling without this copilot can be unnerving. Over my lifetime I’ve done it both ways. Having Him along for the ride makes all the difference in the world.

Secondly, I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus. How can you not believe in the power of thinking of others and giving the gift of time, love, or small expressions of your gratitude to those we hold most dear? Also, Santa is one sharp dresser.

Next I’d have to say I still hold great faith in fellow mankind. At times most of us will find ourselves questioning what the future holds. But if we’re honest, we’ve a pretty good track record of doing the right thing when it comes down to it. I’ve seen this too many times to deny that most people are, by default, good and decent. And I intend to continue to invest my energy and strength in supporting them.

The American Dream, bashed, battered, and run over in the public court of opinion, is still the best thing going on the planet Earth. If you’ve ever really traveled outside these borders and touched, tasted, and experienced the other side, you know what a blessing it is to live in this country. Doubt it? Ask around. I’ve spent more than my fair share with people who want nothing more than to call America their home for the simple reason of having an opportunity to break free of the shackles of economic, political or religious restraint.

I also still believe in America. Remember, this is the country that put a man on the moon, invented instant coffee, and where individuals contributes more per capita as a measure of gross domestic product to charity than any other nation on the planet. Not only are we a resourceful and innovative nation, we’re generous to others via’ giving beyond anything the world has ever seen. I don’t know about you but I don’t mind being associated with smart, generous people.

And finally, I believe in you. Granted, many of us have never met, but odds are we’d more in common than separates us. If I’ve learned anything in my continuing accumulation of years it is most of us value our families, friends, and neighbors. We even value strangers we’ve never met before – lending a hand or other resources to help someone in need. Politics, smolitics – in the end most of us are pretty much alike.

So next time you see a sign challenging you to believe…challenge yourself to answer.



Mankind No Better Than Crabs?

The sand is white; my friends are not.

“I just don’t get it, man,” he says. “Why can’t we as humans learn from tens of thousands of years of history?”

Caribbean palms run interference to rays of sunlight trickling below onto a small table of t-shirts. Dregs, each punctuated with dime-size white clamshells at the end of each tip, gently swing across his shoulders. Sitting on a weathered wooden bench, I listen.

“I mean,” he says, it’s like humanity is destined to act no better than crabs in a barrel for all eternity.”

I smile as I’ve heard of the odd behavior before, but not associated with the evolution of mankind.

My new friend, born on this tiny island of sand and rock, travels the world as a musician when not at home.

He’s not angry, but intense passion emits from his words.

“You ever watch crabs in a barrel when you reach down with a string or stick? One crab grabs on and begins to lift itself up; instantly all the others begin climbing up his back – their collective weight pulling all of them all back down into the barrel.”

“Sometimes I feel as if mankind is no better,” he says.

With the surf offering a soft rhythm, he recants lines from a reggae song he’d created about his frustrations – the wars, the greed of people, and our increasingly self-imposed isolation through social media.”

“We just can’t seem to learn from our past.”

Another man joins us on the bench. Our conversation drifts to his home.

“Israel,” he offers. His face is warm, is smile more so. His laugh rolls like faraway thunder.

“See,” says the t-shirt musician-cum-artist, “another example of how mankind can’t learn the lessons of the past. For tens of thousands of years people have been fighting over a small piece of the globe – and to what end?”

The newest visitor shrugs his shoulders, revealing stories of how mankind repeatedly tries to wipe each other out in his part of the world. In the end only to witness history repeat.

“Just like crabs in a barrel,” says the islander.

White clouds begin to dot the horizon; shadows begin to appear across the sand. Conversations drift in and out from examples of modern-day crabs – from ISIS to people using social media to hurt and bully others.

“We say things to others from behind the keyboard we’d never say to someone’s face,” is added.

His words are interesting – his analogy of mankind’s failings akin to the survivalist behavior of crabs trying to escape from a barrel. From the sandbank, he is correct – mankind’s collective selfishness is one its most betraying tendencies. Imagine, as my new friend says, we put as much effort into helping elevate each other as we do in pulling others down into the barrel? How far could we go?

My feet carry me back to the water. My vision of mankind, however, forever linked to the selfish actions of crabs in a barrel.