Strength of character is learning to express yourself even when no one is cheering you on. ~ vincenzo ©

Advertisements

Through classic literature we are at once in touch with authors of the past who transcend time with their literary wisdom and genius. Their love of life touches us to the core while reminding us of the brevity of life’s sojourn. ~ vincenzo ©

Most of us were born into an inhospitable world. I know I was. It rarely consults us or adapts to our preferences. Moreover, it often assumes a posture of inflexibility, judgment and/or indifference. These insular traits hardly ever get questioned, though no-one can deny their deadening effect. Jesus expressed this fallen state of humanity when he referred to the people as like sheep without a shepherd.

Acts of kindness however, beautify life. They are a source of blessing when they come from a place of strength. It’s never about yielding our sense of well-being into someone else’s hand. It is about showing generosity of heart, even in the face of possible indifference. It’s never in vain to show thoughtfulness and care even when someone doesn’t value it. Love avoidance doesn’t make caring expressions less valuable. The failure of someone to respond is often a sad reflection of the wounded self. ~ vincenzo ©

‘There is a moment, before I sit down to work, that I feel a very keen sense of empathy. It is from this, almost heartbreaking, point that words begin to flow.’ ~ Gabriela Blandy

The beauty of creative writing is seen in its power to awaken imagination, emotion and pathos – facets normally kept in check. Literature animates the soul in ways that often pales real time interaction, where social constraints require you and me to wear a mask. Sometimes those constraints are so prevalent we fail to relax even when we want to.

If you get a chance watch the movie, “Chocolat” with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. It is not most brilliant film however, one scene calls my attention. It involves the protagonists taking each other in their arms to dance for the first time. Feeling the awkwardness of these initial steps toward intimacy, the woman (Juliette) begins to say something in order to soften her discomfort while her partner (Johnny) gently intercepts her words. He motions her to keep quiet by calmly lifting his hand to her lips exhaling a soft “shhhh”. The gesture may be fleeting, the subtext everlasting.

Silence is the forgotten realm, yet it is often the prerequisite to enjoying the present moment. As necessary as words may appear, sometimes they get in the way. ~ vincenzo ©

Cover-burgundy

Saying yes to the unexpected

Patricia Madson is the author of a little book containing big ideas. “Improv Wisdom” involves approaching life with a willingness to pay attention to whatever life presents, and to say yes to the unexpected, learning to overcome the harsh inner critic and making new connections. She says,

“Yes can be a really good answer more of the time than you might imagine. It can open up a possibility. It’s easy to say no. No doesn’t require us to act. Saying yes can get us into trouble, but it’s just as likely to bring us great adventures.”

Madson finds when we throw out many of the self-inhibiting regulations we thought we must live by, we’ll find our lives more authentic, more effective, and a lot more fun. We have adopted a malfunctional way called blocking we hardly question, so we not only block others, but ourselves in the process.

Here are some excerpts of Madson’s Yes Principles:

“Cultivate all the ways you can imagine to express affirmation.”

“Yes and” …we can say yes than we normally do.

“Once you become aware you can, you will see how often we use the technique of blocking in personal relationships simply out of habit.”

“Support someone else’s dreams. Pick a person and for a week, agree with all of his or her ideas. Find something right about everything he or she does or says. Look for every opportunity to find support.”

“As we practice the affirmative response to life, positive things happen.”

“Exercising the yes muscle builds optimism. If you can’t get out of it, get into it.”

“Improv means advancing the struggle for more inclusive frameworks of understanding.”

~ vincenzo ©

Reference: Madson, Patricia Ryan Improv Wisdom, Bell Tower Publishing, New York 2005

Some questions are meant to open conversations, while others to end them. I was always slow to tell the difference. I met one young woman, who before I could get through a sentence, would interrupt me to excuse herself for reasons too trivial to recall. I noticed after several attempts to engage her, this was a fixed pattern or better said… a defense mechanism. Her comfort zone only allowed for small talk whereas I wanted more.

Since that day, I have noticed how I have the same effect upon others. I don’t understand why deep subjects, transparency or heartfelt expressions should frighten anyone away, yet they do. Since that day, my heart opened to the world of literature in a new way – to how freely and boldly writers unfettered their humanity without hesitation, shame or fear of being snubbed… so contrasted to the realtime world where masks and barriers prevail.

For these reasons and more, I have been called to transcend both distance and time to find company among the literati. Your presence is a haven dappled with sunshine and shade where I flourish each day. Thank you for your attentiveness.

~ vincenzo

“At the cost of eliminating egotism, we have trampled over self worth. If human beings merit respect that is an intrinsic right of all mankind, then this right needs to be extended to the self.” — W. Riso

I’m reading Walter Riso, an Argentian counselor and university professor. The book is titled, “Learning Self Worth.” Riso argues how easy it is for the inner life to get sucked into the vortex of hurry sickness, discord, competition, individualism and obsession with appearances. Even though it’s hard to admit it. A friend translated this message in Biblical terms saying life is like being a Mary in a world where the Marthas rule.

A wise man once said our search for approval can be so wide and so deep it can convert itself in a serpentine insecurity. What develops over the years is an anxiety to please, instead of a healthy philosophy of questioning and exercising our own criteria. We become socially conditioned to yield our power of decision as if we were second class citizens, convinced we have to conform.

Walter Riso claims civilization indoctrinates us toward respect, sacrifice, altruism, love, kindness and communication as something devoted only toward others and never to be applied to self. He states:

“Unfortunately, our mentality has been focused upon what others think as being more important than what we think and so we become victims of such ill fate. Our culture has taught us to carry an invisible stick that is ready to inflict harm upon ourselves each time we commit errors or don’t quite measure up to our own standards or personal goals. We’ve learned to blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong and never take credit for that which is successful. If we fail, we take the blame. If we are successful, it was pure luck. Self-criticism is good and productive if we administer it with care.”

Lack of self worth is demonstrated in our view of spare time. Riso raises the some points worth considering:

“If work dignifies man, so does rest and recreation. We plan so rigorously our working day with schedules, budgets, visits here and there, even an oil change for the car and dentist appointments. However, when it comes to free time, we view it as something altogether residual… something left over and many times we have no idea what to do with it. Work is considered sacred while free time is not. Society pushes us at a rate of 100 miles per hour where there’s no time to contemplate the scenery. If anyone stops, everyone one else will run this person over in the dust.”

It’s good to learn to feel comfortable in your own skin and to feel it’s ever too late to learn.

~ vincenzo
*originally written 2008