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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Defense does not win championships

In sports, there is a common belief that defense wins championships. Shut down the opposing offense and you win games; win games and you win championships. Being the champion means that you're better than, the best, the champion and the best.

In life, defense is killing me. Killing me? Really? Yes. Defensiveness is killing the real me. Behind all the defense is the real me the me that desires connectivity and love. The me that I want to be. Above all else I want to see this me and I want to be this me.
Imagine a castle. Already the first image that probably popped into your mind you saw walls, towers, gates, maybe a mote. Maybe a mote with some kick ass gators in there. No? No gators? Anyway, you immediately pictured the defensive capabilities of the castle. Why? Because that's what you've learned that castles are. Places to hide and places to defend what's yours, what is most important to you. Castles hold the king, queen, some really hot princess, or maybe some treasure. You keep those in the castle because you want to protect them from attack from the outside world. Those damned Mongol hordes are out there and they want your shit!

However, our true selves are what we are hiding in the castles of our minds. We've been taught and we've learned really well that we have to protect ourselves from the outside world because if we let people in, they'll see who we really are. Think of all the ways that you've hidden yourself from not only others, but the lies you like to tell yourself.
For me, sometimes I like to use humor. Make jokes to cover up what I'm really feeling. I am funny, but sometimes that spills over and is used as a way to cover up real emotions or prevent me from having a real experience because I'm looking to make some kind of joke about it. Sometimes I'm cutting because as I've been taught in the past, the best defense is a good offense. Bring someone else down and then they aren't looking at your shortcomings right? Sometimes I like to be apathetic. 'Meh. I don't care. Who cares? It's not a big deal.' All of those and many many more tactics are used just as defense. They are my walls, towers, and gator filled motes. They are what 'defend' me from the outside world. They are what prevent me from realizing my true self.

"In my defenselessness my safety lies."
The world gives rise but to defensiveness. For threat brings anger, anger makes attack seem reasonable, honestly provoked, and righteous in the name of self-defense. Yet is defensiveness a double threat. For it attests to weakness, and sets up a system of defense that cannot work. Now are the weak still further undermined, for there is treachery without and still a greater treachery within. The mind is now confused, and knows not where to turn to find escape from its imaginings. -ACIM WB 153.

Consider any "fact" that you've known for your whole life. 1+1=2. The sky is blue. There are 24 hours in a day. The Braves are the greatest franchise in baseball history. Wait? What? Never mind. There are lessons that we've "learned" in our lives that are repeated over and over again and  become "fact." They become part of what we no longer consider to be changeable and they become part of our reality. These "facts" no longer are questionable. They just are. Well similar lessons are taught and learned about ourselves. 'Well that's just who I am. That's just how she is. Oh, you know Jim, he's...' whatever.

But what about when those "facts" are challenged? That is when our minds become confused. In the context of defensiveness, my mind becomes confused when its told that defense is no longer needed. Safety lies in the presence of love and those that are around me who would offer me nothing but that. What do you mean? Aren't all these people just trying to Trojan Horse me? I bet once they get in here they'll jump out and start attacking and plundering my castle. Well that's awfully depressing isn't it?

So when does relaxation and balance come when you're constantly defending? Where does safety come from? Safety comes from no defense at all. Safety comes from trust. Safety comes from vulnerability and openness. Safety comes from being who you really are and letting others experience that and your growth in that. Open the gates, let others help you build your castle not for defense but for a haven of growth and love. Let them see the shitty side streets and then help you clean them. Don't hide the ghetto of your mind but ask for help in the gentrification of your slummy mind. Dropping the defense and opening the gates not only allows you to let others in, it allows you to take a walk in the countryside and maybe visit other castles as well. Maybe learn of other places that have the same problems you do. Maybe just maybe you can then work together to grow and improve together.

None of this gets done if everyone is sitting in the own castles locked away in their own towers. Stuck in your own mind means you're only allowed to take your own council. And, where has that gotten us? Where has it gotten me? A year ago I was so shut down and defensive that I let a relationship grind down to an ugly halt. I got an opportunity because of that to work on it and drop some defense and grow. Proudly, I was able to accomplish a lot. However, this past week my defensiveness once again not only stepped out of the shadows, it jumped right out and said 'Hey hey here I am! Don't touch my soft shit cause fuck you! Guards! To the towers! Close the gates! Release the gators! Fuck you people!' Fortunately, I was in a room with people who don't tolerate that and were able to say, 'um, hey, what the hell man?' Fortunately, I'm at a place in my life where I'm able to sit down and forgive myself for that kind of mindset and let it go... again.

It is a journey. My defense is still here. But I'm now at a place where I can choose to put down the sword, back away from it and say, "This is not who I am."
I may have been taught defensive strategies. I may have convinced myself that I need defense. I may have learned that being vulnerable is a bad thing. I may have convinced myself that locking my true self away in the castle of my mind is how to stay safe. But now I'm at a place where I can say no to that. I can put down the sword and leave my gates open. Like any habit or addiction it will take practice, persistence, and patience. It will take forgiveness. It will take love. This is not who I am. It is not the real me. So why protect it?
My strength lies within in my true defenseless self. I can choose something different. I can share my castle. I can open my gates and I can live openly. I can chose to learn different lessons. I can choose that now...

No gators were harmed in the typing of this blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

If you love it let it go...

Well I've got one less hat in my closet this morning. For the first time in over 16 years I'll be without my favorite Braves hat. Bought that hat at the start of the 2000 season and wore it almost everyday over my last few years in college and then... it went with me everywhere; and I do mean everywhere. College road trips, Peace Corps services, European vacations, Russian "adventures" and the list goes on.

That hat was with me in some amazing wonderful times and it was with me during some really low times. I've woken up on floors wondering how I didn't lose the thing during the adventures the night before. It was with me when I met some really important people in my life, it was on my head when I left people in my life, it was knocked off my head in one or two confrontations in life, and it was put back on my head by some amazing friends in life. It was on my head when I built things, on my head when I tore things down...

Over the years it saw the sun, snow, rain, wind; it was even blown out of a convertible at one point and the driver forced to turn around for its recovery. It got a bath in more bodies of water than I can count and even took a shower with me one time on a dare. It had gone fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, flying, and driving. That hat has seem more life than most people ever will.

Since I got that hat the Atlanta Braves amassed a record of 1,408 wins and 1,182 losses. Not too bad. The hat went with me to see the retirement of Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones. It went with me to see so many gods of Summer hit a ton of balls over walls and so many amazing pitchers paint corners like masters. Hell it was even on my head when I hit home runs... in softball.

But, after all these adventures the old blue and white... yes that hat was originally blue; had to be laid to rest. The bill was about to fall off, it was a little stiff on top, and frankly, it had developed a bit of a smell after all these years. So, as this rebuilding Braves season begins, I decided it was time to rebuild my hat collection and let this old boy go. Only one fitting way, only one more element to complete its journey... fire.

Good bye my old friend. You were so so well loved.