Photo: Hurricane Irma by J. Wilder Bill
Getting through each day parallels participating in a combative sport. We train for what is expected and invest into preparations for the worst. As I write, the state of Florida is in lockdown, preparing for a hurricane that will pass through by September 11th. Power outages are certain, water lines are sure to be turned off, massive trees always destroy houses and block roads. This is followed by flooding, inhabitable housing, and the inability of emergency vehicles to reach those in need. Interestingly, the strongest hurricane on record revolves around 9/11, which is also an emergency phone number.
To understand perseverance, I compare Tom Brady, Rafael Nadal, and Michael Jordan.
A common thread is their perceiving each baby step toward their completed goal as an accomplishment. Nadal ignores the scoreboard during a match, explaining, “You just try to play tough and focus point for point.” His “motivation is tomorrow, just one day at a time….” Jordan focuses on the next play, saying, “I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot…. When you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”
Studies show we release a feel-good chemical when we reach our goals. The more often we complete an objective, the higher the levels of dopamine are in a particular area of our brains. Those increased levels provide a sense of accomplishment, inspiring us to take the next step.
We have the ability to increase our dopamine by mentally rewarding ourselves for doing a good job before reaching our final objective. Brady credits himself with an accomplishment for daily workouts. “I just love working hard. I love being part of a team. I love working toward a common goal.” Nadal enjoys the daily grind, explaining, “The glory is being happy. The glory is not winning here or winning there. The glory is enjoying practicing, enjoy every day, enjoying to work hard, trying to be a better player than before.”
Hard work earns respect from peers. Emotional support boosts dopamine levels. Jordan states, “I want to be perceived as a guy who played his best in all facets, not just scoring. A guy who loved challenges.” Brady says, “My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.”
A confident winner is unmoved by lack of support. Jordan is inspired by defeatist. “If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” Nadal dismisses criticism, stating, “No one is perfect. Everybody does stupid things.”
Joy comes from finding a purpose in the effort. “I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat,” says Jordan. “Mentally, the only players who survive in the pros are the ones able to manage all their responsibilities,” provides Brady. Nadal “always work[s] with a goal and the goal is to improve as a player and a person. That finally, is the most important thing of all.”
They ignore their personal needs. “When you’re one of the leaders of the team, there are no days off,” says Brady. With regard to physical discomfort, Nadal explains, “I learned during all my career to enjoy suffering.”
These athletes use failures to demonstrate how high they’ve risen. Jordan counts every glitch in his career to motivate himself to improve. “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them, everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” According to Brady, “I’ve never gotten over one loss I’ve had in my career. They always stick with me.” He describes himself as “the kid that was the one hundred ninety-ninth pick that never had the body for it. People didn’t think I’d play one year in the NFL, and now I’m going on my seventeenth year.”
With perseverance, milestones exist each day. After losing, Nadal states, “I will do as I usually do. Tomorrow is going to be a day like any other day.” “I’ve never been afraid to fail,” says Jordan.
Dopamine fuels them with enthusiasm. Nadal says, “I am a guy who likes to do what I am doing with passion….” Brady likewise says, “I always try to do as much as I can do. I’m never a person that does not enough, because I’d regret not doing enough and think I probably could have done more. I probably go too far and have to reel myself back in….” Jordan “always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”
Throughout history, man is encouraged to invoke faith in perseverance. “Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere.” Qur’an AYAH al-Baqarah 2:153. According to James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Life is flavored with obstacles. Perseverance wins, every time.
Photo: Mendenhall Glacier by J. Wilder Bill
Water is our salvation. Consider all the times you’ve taken time out from your hectic life with a soothing bath. Inner peace comes easily when you hear or view a body of water. Many of us plan vacations for rejuvenating our minds, bodies and souls with destinations and activities revolving around the wondrous H2O.
“Being out there in the ocean, God’s creation, it’s like a gift He has given us to enjoy,” states professional surfer and author, Bethany Hamilton who survived a life threatening shark attack. Author, Carl Hiaasen, describes his escape for inspiration as “to just get in a boat and disappear on the water.”
Water provides life within us, through what we consume, and by surrounding us in the atmosphere. Civilizations thrive where they show respect with it. We are all impacted by how man relates to it. Scientists advocate our infinite need to protect all resources. “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea,” explains National Geographic’s marine biologist, Sylvia Earle.
As Leonardo Da Vinci provides, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” We are advised to consume as much as eight glasses each day to maintain a healthy body and proper brain functioning, yet with the endless concerns about pollution, overpopulation and lack of drinkable resources, we tend to lapse into anticipating a cataclysmic apocalypse.
Many of us concede man must have clean H2O in order to survive, but the more research is conducted, the more confusing it is to decipher which choices we should make. Instead of fretting over the likelihood plastic bottles can poison us, or the chemical runoff from crops is decreasing our drinkable supply, we can be innovative in creating a solution.
It must be more than a coincidence that several religions view water as a means for cleansing not just the body but also the soul. Submersion is considered a method for attaining purification. Washing with an intention for attaining a higher consciousness prepares practitioners to receive the teachings of the benevolent Creator. Even a few drops of blessed water have the power to uplift one’s spiritual connection. All faiths include a ritual or prayerful state of mind when utilizing water in a religious ceremony or church service. “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water,” writes the philosopher, Loren Eiseley.
Water is impressionable. It responds to our thoughts. “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was,” provides author, Toni Morrison.
Masaru Emoto, author and entrepreneur, devised a method for recording an impression of the memory of water by photographing frozen samples. Emotional images and words introduced to H2O while in its liquid form create patterns in its molecules believed to be a reflection of those moods.
Samples gathered from polluted reservoirs and tap water reveal murky, undefined shapes. Emoto believed human thoughts and images of nature play a role in the quality of water. He arranged several times for groups of five hundred participants to meditate on either an intention to purify the quality, or else on positive chants of love directed at the sources. Photographs of samples taken from the same locations as where the molecules formed murky, undefined shapes were transformed into symmetrical, intricate geometric patterns similar to snow crystals.
It made no difference if the five hundred people prayed, meditated or sang songs, as long as the words and thoughts were positive affirmations. His results were consistent regardless of who provided the loving intentions, who ranged from spiritual practitioners to elementary school children. Also, the distance between the participants and the source of water was irrelevant. Those meditating, chanting and praying were at times thousands of miles away from a body of water they set out to purify. The crystalline formations were equally improved to when the meditations, chants and prayers took place within the same building as the previously contaminated tap water.
Likewise, when the water was exposed to negative words and painful images, the molecules mirrored the chaotic and muddy emotions. In one instance, he recorded seeing microscopic formations from samples removed from a lake that resembled a facial expression depicting horror and pain. After his research concluded, he discovered human tragedies occurred within the body of water.
Emoto concluded that human consciousness and impressions of nature alter the molecular structure of water. He believed, “water could react to positive thoughts and words, and that polluted water could be cleaned through prayer and positive visualization.”
Next time, before taking a sip of a refreshing drink, send a positive affirmation to the item you plan to ingest. Use your consumption as an opportunity to purify what you place in your body. Take a moment to visualize what you would like to improve in your life.
When cleansing and washing any part of your body, put aside your worries and problems to avoid adding a murky element. Focus on intensifying the purifying effects. Practice expressing confidence in your water systems, just as actor and screenwriter, John C. Reilly, found, “There’s something about the water, that solitary kind of peaceful feeling. You’re on Earth but not quite.”
Become consciously aware of the power of your words, both spoken and in thought. Take time to appreciate the wondrous words imprinted in the molecules of water.
Photo: Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee by J. Wilder Bill
Regardless of where you stand on today’s issues, there are times when a political leader gives a statement or supports an order that contradicts your views. The political structure allows opposing parties to create opportunities for themselves by escalating the public’s differing opinions. This gives them leverage to suppress the civilians’ sense of power.
Without belief in our abilities, we become divided. Without unity, a nation lacks strength.
Each of us can make a difference in the government. According to the philosopher and founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” It is through the people actively participating that leaders are able to serve.
Our duty as civilians is to offer support and prayers for authority figures of every level and position. “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is,” stated Mahatma Gandhi. Prayer is action.
Within the Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 provides for man to give supplications, which embrace humility on behalf of another. We are to seek intercessions through angels and saints to exalt our pleas for governmental leaders to receive guidance. Saint Thomas More is the patron of lawyers, civil servants, and politicians.
Most importantly, we are to express gratitude for the benefits within our nation. Through prayers and thanks, the entire country acquires peace, goodness and honest dealings within its boundaries as well as with other countries. 1 Timothy clarifies that only God has authority over men, therefore it is proper to pray for political leaders to act with godliness and honesty. Leaders who make choices on behalf of the Divine promote the salvation of all mankind and support all men in their quest for knowledge of the Truth.
Faith grants strength. Trust in a Divine plan for placing those who are in office elevates our spiritual power. Our support influences their actions and grants them insights of Holiness.
Archbishop John Carroll, founder of Georgetown University, suggests first praying for God to have mercy on all nations, regardless of their views or actions, and then for the leaders to gain “heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life.” He includes all civil servants who are appointed and elected to have powerful protection in performing their duties “with honesty and ability.”
We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.
Archbishop John Carroll
The English Prayer Book issues thanksgiving and blessings for the leaders of the United Kingdom by humbly acknowledging God’s mighty authority over man, praying for spiritual enlightenment of leaders, and then asking for eternal grace. Blessings are requested in saying, “look favourably on our sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth. Fill her with your Holy Spirit so that she may love your law and walk in your way. Give her health and strength; and grant that after this life she may enjoy everlasting happiness in your eternal kingdom.”
Rule the heart of your servant Elizabeth, our Queen, so that she, knowing whose minister she is, may above all things seek your honour and glory. And grant that we and all her subjects may faithfully serve, honour and obey her according to your word and ordinance.
Book of Common Prayer
Even a moment of silence dedicated to the President, Congressmen, Senators and Governors having spiritual counsel boosts their capacity for benevolent judgment. As Mahatma Gandhi explained, “It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
Prayers and support for government is a longstanding tradition. Unrest within nations tends to arise during periods of social transformation. It is unnecessary to evaluate and determine what decisions our political leaders need to make for us to enjoy safe, prosperous lives. Merely offering your request for them to be surrounded by Holy advisors and to open their hearts to Divine Love creates miracles. “Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us,” stated Socrates.
Photo: San Diego Zoo by J. Wilder Bill
Our planet responds to love. We have the power to improve the circumstances.
With a click of a button, you have the opportunity to witness global acts of uncertainty. Exposure to startling behavior and witnessing deteriorating conditions on Earth tend to produce waves of confusion. Images and news adverse with instilling a sense of safety ripples across the globe in a continuous chain, convincing many to accept the concept of a bleak future as being fact.
Any time my siblings and I disagreed with each other, my father would give the same lecture, his finger pointing, and his tone stern, repeating his notorious one sentence until enough hours passed for us to be too tired to argue with each other.
“Two wrongs do not make a right.” It was that simple for my father.
An intensified version of my father’s philosophy of life applies to global disharmony. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”
It seems world-wide violence is increasing, however, many of the same issues existing today began long ago, before mass media. On an optimistic note, humankind has survived terrorists, pollution, and riots for many generations.
A cure for global hostilities exists: Love.
Yes, by itself the word sounds ineffective. Certainly, anyone who is concerned about the seemingly wave of violent behavior is a person who cares but the same person might act adversely toward another out of love for family or his home.
By realizing the aggressions on the planet cannot destroy our inner peace, we can overpower the aggressions. With each moment we are given an opportunity to respond to violence with compassion for the other’s point of view, we create a chain of events that spreads more rapidly than the media can broadcast their versions of the events.
The effects of your act of love with one encounter will inspire the recipient to commit an act of kindness in a situation where he might typically have responded unpleasantly. Doing for others involves intellectual reasoning and a willingness to release your ego. Depending on the level of aggression, you are also placed in a position to exchange habitual fear for trust in the strength of love.
As the numbers of people reacting with love increases, hostilities are deluded. The aggressors lose power. Kindness multiples tenfold and eventually spreads so wide, it circles back to those who generated the loving energy. This isn’t sidewalk preaching. It’s been proven by political scientists, James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University that in a situation where acting out of love required a sacrifice by those who gave, their kindness “tripled over the course of the experiment by other subjects who [were] directly or indirectly influenced to contribute more.”
As Desmond Tutu explained, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
In the greatest turmoil, acts of kindness create the highest ripple. You have the power to change the conditions of the planet. Now is a time for love.