Life can be challenging at times and change and loss are integral parts of the experience.
This is law of God by which He makes His way known to man and is paramount to all human control.
– Rufus King
While on a business trip to New York City I looked out my Times Square hotel window and saw the beautiful Paramount Building, pictured above. I have been to NYC many times and until now never was afforded the view of this marvelous building with its iconic clocks. I don’t recall ever really noticing the building before. Yet on this day there she stood, a towering example of art-deco style, now surrounded by taller, sleeker buildings.
The beautiful Paramount building serves as a vivid reminder on the evolving nature of time and how we may derive our perceived value in the universe.
Paramount, the word, can be defined as “above others in rank or authority; superior in power or jurisdiction. And at one time the Paramount building lived up to its name. The building was completed in the 1920’s and was one of the tallest buildings in Times Square and it was said that the Paramount’s clock could be seen from New Jersey. When the building’s construction was completed, the Paramount stood high above other structures and enjoyed un-paralleled vistas and likely received much admiration from those who could enjoy its splendor.
Fast-forward nearly 100-years and you see how things have changed in the Manhattan sky-scape. Today the building is ranked the 370th in terms of building height in New York[i] [ii] Much of the Paramount building is now obscured from view due to the surrounding taller buildings of the Big Apple.
My how the mighty can fall.
This rise and fall is a familiar cycle that we must come to terms with in order to find lasting peace. For the very nature of life is a series of ebbing and flowing, growth and decay, birth and then death. In the Paramount building’s case the 4-sided clocks signaled to the world the continuous, unfolding moments of time. The building stood while the world around it eventually overtook it in terms of superior height and prominence.
People are like buildings in that we may rise above others and enjoy a brief period of paramount prominence. Other times we may remain in the shadows of those taller, newer, or more expensive than we are. And sometimes we may crumble to the ground to give rise to a new construction. Perhaps we provide lessons and inspirations to others. No matter where we are, what materials we are made – we all have the same maker, the supreme Architect and master builder- God.
The Bible says that “ All people are like the grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” The truth of life is we all will wither and fall. And if we place our attention and derive our value from external things, like judging and comparing our prominence in the world, we join a race that has no end and one in which all eventually loose.
Our true essence is greater than what is manifest in the material world for we are timeless and infinite. While all things come and go – the power and presence of God endures, bringing the paramount promise of everlasting peace.
Enjoy the view!
Julian Kaufmann’s mission is to empower people to live and love more fully. Julian teaches how to more effectively accomplish your life’s work through energy efficiency. Please visit www.juliankaufmann.com for more information and sign up for his Prime Mover network and receive his free e-book Why Less is More – The Simple Science of Getting More Energy Out of Your Life.
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Nearly 2600 years ago a wise man noted that the only thing that is constant in life is change. Heraclitus taught, “The world is not to be identified with any particular substance, but rather with an ongoing process governed by a law of change.” 1
Change is the ultimate reality of life and how we deal with this fact influences our lives greatly. For all our existence we have struggled with how to come to terms with the varying nature of life and its impermanence. After all, the world will keep on spinning and tomorrow will bring a new day. What will we do with the moment we have now?
While accepting the ever-changing nature of life is ultimately the key to finding peace, it can be difficult to practice and master. All too often we unknowingly cling to attachments – be it people or things. We suffer as a result when the world inevitably changes, potentially severing our attachments in the process. Fearing loss we may clutch onto people or conversely avoid any deep connections, neither of these allows us to fully experience the connection to life itself.
The Tao Te Ching offers guidance stating to “let all things come and go effortlessly, without desire.” Of course actually doing these things can at times go against our very nature.
Likewise the bible reminds us that while we are in this world we are not of this world. This distinction of separating our true self from the world we experience, if we are able to make it, can allow us to connect with our higher consciousness. We make contact with the infinite source.
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. -Viktor E. Frankl
One of my favorite Beatle songs is Across The Universe. Its chorus goes:
Jai Guru Deva, om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Being comfortable with discomfort and change allows us to live more fully. Leaning into the vulnerability and volatility of life, opens us to vast array of wonderful experiences. I am grateful to God for each day and the variety we can experience.
Meanwhile my words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup.
“Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2015. http://www.iep.utm.edu/heraclit/
Our lives have often been described as a walk, a path and even a race. These are good metaphors because during our life’s journey we experience highs and lows and many twists of fate. Unfortunately though many times in life we stumble and fall.
Like they say it is not the number of times we fall, but rather the number of times we get up that counts.
When we do fall, hopefully we are surrounded by friends and loved ones that can help us get back onto our feet in times of need. Knowing that we may be in need of help someday ourselves, we in turn are often eager to reach out a helping hand to those around us who are in need. I know I have been blessed with the love and support of my family and others in my life and in turn want to be of service to them in any way I can.
Our capacity for compassion and care for those in need is truly remarkable and has allowed our species to rise to the top of the food chain. We could not have survived without our tribes as hunter-gatherers. We are hard-wired to be social creatures and being isolated can have devastating effects to a person’s quality and duration of their life.
In times of war or natural disasters, we come together to provide assistance in whatever ways we can. After 9/11 the country was unified after the terror attacks. People flooded to ground zero to offer whatever aid they could. Donations of blood and money typically peak after these tragedies occur.
During war, we offer our support to fallen soldiers and their families. In WWII, rationing and other forms of sacrifice were made to help the troops who were on the front line. The US Navy Seals have a code in which they leave no man behind – whether alive or dead. If one Navy SEAL falls the others come to their rescue, regardless of the potential cost to those attempting to retrieve their fallen comrade.
But what do we do when a person we love and care for is battling an addiction, particularly drugs and/or alcohol. How do we help them?
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc, (NCADD) addiction is the nation’s number one health problem, “straining the economy, the health care system, the criminal justice system and threatens job security, public safety, marital and family life.” NCADD sates that 8% of the US population over 12-years of age has used an illegal drug in the past 3-days.
A member of my family suffers with addiction and recently relapsed. Their struggle and how to love them while providing what is best for them is a cross I bear.
I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie’s like a settin’ sun.
The Bible teaches us to love our neighbor as our selves and to practice forgiveness. Forgiving an addict is relatively easy for me as it is understandable how chemical dependence can occur. But how do I love them, when it turns out that the way I have shown this love could in fact be enabling them? That is my love may be aiding the addiction and not the person I love. Perhaps I have become too enmeshed in my loved one’s illness and in turn have become addicted to the addict’s issues.
The metaphor of the airplane oxygen masks comes in sometimes to help folks in dealing with a family member’s crisis. “You first put on your oxygen mask and then you can help the person beside you.” But ultimately if the plane is going to crash – you don’t want to be on the plane, regardless of who is sitting by you.
Part of the challenge for us who love a person with addiction is letting go for our need to protect them. We let go and let our loved one learn from their mistakes. We can’t keep our brother from the hard lessons they must learn. But when they are ready for help we can be there.
Unfortunately the addict often crashes and burns, hitting rock bottom as they say. A potentially redeeming aspect of this fall is that when a person is flat on the back, they can focus on God and his love.
God, or Higher Power in the 12-step recovery programs, is a key aspect for recovery from substance abuse. Releasing the addiction to their Higher Power and beginning to open up to recovery liberates the addicted person.
Meanwhile the addict and all who love them can benefit from the Serenity Prayer’s opening lines, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Yes I am my brother’s keeper and my brother has an addiction. I trust that the same God that loves me and has guided me through struggle will be there to guide my brother through this time. I will do what I can – releasing the rest to God.
While a junkie may be like a setting sun in that we cant control their arc. We can, however, love them through the night that they may experience on their own so they may rise again tomorrow, shining more brightly. We can let go and let God take care of them, freeing us to be able lend a truly helping hand when the time is right.
This weekend I was fortunate to meet and listen to Will Bowen, the best selling author most widely known for his Complaint Free World book and its accompanying challenge. The Complaint Free World challenge is to simply go 21-consecutive days without complaining. Sounds easy right? That is until you realize just how damn hard it is. (I just complained!)
As a queue to help you remember not to complain and to track your progress, Will includes purple rubber bracelets you wear daily on your wrist. Whenever you complain you switch the bracelet to the other wrist and reset your clock. Day 1 begins each time you switch wrists. This process repeats until you go 21-days without complaining, thus keeping the bracelet on the same wrist for that length of time.
Bowen says it can take between 4-8 months to make actually make it through 21- no complaint days. What makes the challenge difficult is that we often do not even realize how habitual our complaining is, so the first step is to become aware of our thoughts and then we can make adjustments. Bowen went on to stress that life unfolds day by day and is cumulative. That is, the little things we do each day add up to determine the body of work we create.
This is where the world’s largest ball of paint comes in.
Bowen shared the story of how he and his daughter went on vacation touring obscure sites throughout the Midwest. Part of their journey brought them to Alexandria, Indiana, which is home to a giant ball of paint that is over 14 feet in circumference and weighs over 2.5 tons.
What is remarkable is this present day paint planet started out as an ordinary baseball, which has a circumference of 9-9.25 inches and weighs between 5-5.25 ounces. (32,000 ounces is equal to 1-ton) Each day since January 1, 1977 the ball’s owner has had a single layer of paint applied on it. According to the Dampney Engineered coatings company, a single coat of paint has a theoretical thickness of 1 mil (.001inch). So for the past 14,123 days the ball has been growing through having a fresh coat of paint applied to it. While each day the addition of a new coat may not seem to be much, over time this cumulative addition is quite profound.
As the saying goes “Rome was not built in a day.”
Now back to what we are building each day with our lives.
Eliminating complaining for 21-days is a challenging experiment, but one that can dramatically improve your life and the lives of those around you. Imagine what we could build with our lives if we kept complaint free for our remaining days.
A Complaint Free World http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/
World’s Largest Ball of Paint http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/9792
Baseball (ball) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball_(ball)