Success

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

Mention the word success and certain images come to mind. Images of good-looking people with high paying jobs in powerful positions with big houses, big bank accounts and big lives.

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We are taught by our Western culture that one’s whole self-worth is dependent on what we have, not on what we are. You are special and you are better than most others. One can tell this by the stuff you own, the things that you do and the places you go.

We are constantly bombarded with messages, especially by the media such as this from day one and it isn’t surprising when we develop impossibly high expectations that most of us cannot live up to. When this happens people lose confidence. They feel that they don’t measure up. Even people whom society deems as successful surprisingly also have this problem; this fear of not measuring up; of not being all that you can be.

This can cause depression. It can cause people to try to escape reality via denial and self-destructive behavior. Sometimes this dissatisfaction turns outward in anger toward the very society that sets the bar so very high.

The American dream is yours for the taking and all that. What happens if this dream doesn’t pan out or even becomes a nightmare; not all of us can win this rat race we have set up. This sort of set up requires losers and an awful lot of losers to support the winners.  No one wants to be on the bottom and will avoid even the appearance of THAT at all costs. We are taught that it means we are defective. We are worthless. Worth less than someone else.  We seek approval from each other and from ourselves on a constant basis. It’s human nature. Our society views those on the bottom of the economic ladder in a bad light.

Poverty is seen as some sort of disease that one catches by the act of laziness. It is such an anathema that people have this urge to keep assuring themselves, their peers and society that they themselves are not infected by this awful disease.  Many will go into debt to prove this point.  It takes a wad of cash to keep up with the Joneses. Little do we realise that in our quest to keep up with the Joneses, the Joneses are struggling to keep up with us.

We are a shopping culture and in all honesty if we all decided to stop buying if only for a day it would send our global economy into a tailspin.  It’s quite a sticky situation we have gotten ourselves into.  All this wanton greed and fervid consumerism. It’s taking its toll on the environment.  It has a mind of its own…it’s a monster of our own creation and it could spell our undoing.

We in the West are starting to see the errors of the past creep back up and bite us. We still continue on with our ways like there is no tomorrow and we criticize other countries, especially third world countries who are just trying to catch up to us…who doesn’t want a big middle class, who doesn’t want prosperity for all?  In the past other countries have looked to The United States as an example of what to strive for. It is we who have set the bar so damn high and it is we who complain when somebody can play our game better than us…and they are….and as time goes by more and more of us will be on the bottom.

There is only so much land, water, natural resources and there are more and more people everyday. This strikes me as dangerously unsustainable. Something’s got to give and it is starting to.

A Successful person

I think many of us may need to rethink some of these notions that have been sold to us…maybe reconsider just what being successful really means. Does a measure of a man or woman depend on the content of one’s pocketbook or the content of one’s character?

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I also believe we should reconsider our idea of happiness…Is happiness mean having stuff? Or is happiness a certain satisfaction with life and oneself. Knowing that life has its ups and downs and riding those with grace, compassion and hopefully a bit of humor. Happiness does not have to be exclusive.  True happiness is inclusive. It is something to be shared. Happiness is an attitude. We decide to be happy and having more stuff than everyone else around you doesn’t do it in the end.

In the end it is those intangibles as love, friendship and respect that really matter. It is fulfilling a dream. It is striving to be better, not better than anyone else but better than your previous self. It is the satisfaction of doing the right thing and the giving of yourself to others. That is success.

I am reminded of a quote:

“Having given all he has to others, he is richer still.”

Lao Tzu

Wishing you all the success in the world,

Strawberryindigo.

Angry

For the past week or so I have been blocked. An idea has run rampant in my writing mind but it is more than an idea. It’s a feeling, an emotion. It’s basic, it’s primal and it’s powerful.

Every time as of late when I sit down to write, it has been extremely difficult for me. 
 I start with a certain tone that feels right at the time; I’m tap, tap, tapping along and then…Wham, it all turns oh so negative and very angry.

I try to put a positive spin on what I write for the most part. Sure, my indigo bleeds through once in a while but it seems my moody indigo has turned a dark angry red.

I am not the angry type.  I don’t typically hang on to emotional “baggage” or hold grudges. I am a mild-mannered even-tempered peaceful person. Anger hurts. I am  sensitive, probably more than I should be but I do have a conscious and a strong streak of justice runs deep in me. This is how my inward leaning and quiet nature can sometimes flip on a dime on a perceived injustice and suddenly this little kitten can rage with the roar of a thousand lions.

Right now that roar is in an uproar. I don’t want to feel this way and it probably would be wiser to just keep silent on my feelings and thoughts on the subject of my ire. But there is something in me that won’t or can’t keep silent. I guess this is why I write.

I must speak, or write the truth as I see it and the truth is; I’m angry, damned angry.  I feel cheated and duped…and afraid.

Afraid of how my country is evolving or devolving, afraid of what the world is becoming. Afraid for the planet and the people and what’s to become of us all.  I ask myself what kind of world we are going to leave our children and future generations?

How will this all be explained? What could be possibly said? That greed controlled the world and money meant more than people. That our government was weak and the economy went south as we all sat back like good little citizens; distracted by the puppet show. Spending and getting into an endless cycle of debt to feed the banks, paying our taxes to fund wars and the killing of innocent people, falling for sound bites, clever ad schemes and catch phrases.

I fell for it all: the American Dream bullshit just as many others.  Being a child of immigrants I perhaps took this a bit more seriously, this American thing.  This once true story of people working hard, learning and growing, making a life for themselves and their children. Saving money, buying a house, sending their kids off to college;  the next generation having a better life than the one before it.

It seems this dream is dying, some would say it’s already half dead. It’s hard not to be discouraged sometimes, angry sometimes. I admit I’ve been lucky in life and have lived a bit isolated from reality, sheltered from true hardship. It’s easy to pontificate and elaborate and say I’m with you, you 99%!  And watch from the comfort of my nice mortgaged home and see all these people lose their homes and life savings.

I think it becomes easier to be angry when it hits close to your home.

It is easy to become bewildered and lost a bit. This I know.  I know a little more now and I understand how the 99% feels, especially the vocal minority of which I guess, I’ve just joined the ranks of.

My point in all this? I don’t really know. Maybe there’s an upside to all this I have yet to find. Maybe It’s an explanation of why this blog has become so dark as of late. Maybe it’s my way of saying this is temporary and it’s a phase that I must go through so please bear with me.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

Still a bit angry but hopeful…thanks for listening.

Strawberryindigo.

Occupy moves on

occupy berlin

From its infancy the occupy movement has run the gambit of highs and lows of the human experience. The movement started in New York as a protest against the unbalance of wealth in our society and it has grown and morphed and spread all over the country and the world.

A movement born out of frustrations brought on by hard economic times mixed with vanishing natural resources, dwindling opportunity and the remains of a system once created for the common good that is now corrupted by the few and the powerful who put profits over everything else.

The American dream is slipping through the fingers of many Americans.  Our golden age is tarnishing. We the people have lost our way.

Occupy Portland March - 60
Image by merrick_monroe via Flickr

I believe this movement is only a beginning and it is a sign of more to come.  The events of late have truly surprised me and have caused me to re-evaluate my feelings on the Occupy movement more than once.

I  have always supported the ideals of the movement, in that there has never been any doubt in my mind. However, I have not always supported the means. This occupying has from day one struck me as unsustainable.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and all the good reasons and high ideals cannot trump cold hard reality. These camps created by Occupy degraded into a health and safety hazard that cost our cities dearly at a time when city and state budgets are strained to the max. This occupying also cost the movement valuable credibility.

They showed why it is illegal for a group of people to take possession of a public park and just squat there indefinitely. No matter how worthy the cause, those ends do not justify that sort of means.

Night march through Portland
Image by K. Kendall via Flickr

In most places the cops have moved in and used a varying degree of force to retake the parks once occupied.  Every city is different and in my city, to my surprise, it was relatively peaceful thanks to all involved. The local police showed uncommon restraint and the protestors themselves seemed to police themselves in many instances.

The crowd, estimated to be 2-3 thousand, gasped as a fiery projectile thrown into a row of mounted police injuring one of them and causing him to be taken away during the eviction last Saturday.

The perpetrator was quickly pointed out by the crowd and the man was promptly taken down and arrested. Then in a move that surprised me, the police backed off and allowed the protestors to form a drum circle in the middle of the street, dancers in the hundreds surrounded the circle, cheered on by the overwhelming number of spectators.  A party atmosphere prevailed into the wee hours. There was a sense of unity shown that gave me a sense of long forgotten city pride.

I felt I had been a bit hasty in my predictions of doom and gloom but then I looked around and found the reaction in my city to be unusual.

Occupy Portland
Image by drburtoni via Flickr

The next day 50 people were arrested and the Occupy encampment was retaken by police.  A handful of protestors remained and helped clean up the disgusting mucky mess left behind in the two city parks held hostage in this all too human drama.  Many citizens came out to see the damage and confronted leftover protestors milling about  It seemed not everyone was happy with all the mess and the cost of the occupy.

Heated debates sprung out on street corners.   People that would have never spoken to each other before were voicing their varied but strong opinions,  exchanging ideas and solutions. Citizens were taking to each other instead of just ignoring.

occupy portland
Image by snap turtle via Flickr

By Monday, a press conference was held by what serves as our local occupy leadership fronted by youngish woman in a bright red cap.  She spoke eloquently as she demanded an apology from the mayor and the chief of police for the use of force during the eviction.  Tears welled in the eyes of a nearby protestor as the woman in the red cap spoke of a member of their group, a sign language translator who had apparently been hurt in the scuffle and was now in a wheelchair.

Evidence is sketchy on this and I have this natural inclination to believe the protestors  though I cannot say as I was not there. I have only seen what is claimed to be altered footage of the event.

When asked if they were planning on occupying any more parks, the spokesperson beamed a smile and said “no comment”.  I had hoped for a sign of leadership or a clear focus from the group.  They seem intent on continuing the movement and will not let anyone but themselves know exactly what they have planned.

On Tuesday, the protestors marched and invaded an upscale shopping mall.  On Wednesday,  they marched in solidarity with local university students protesting high tuition and an unfair treatment of school loans.  Today is dubbed “N 17” and a protest on the banks is planned. Events turn on a dime. Only time will tell how this all plays out and how history will view this phenomena.

A smart person once told me that revolutions can be messy and that all that mess makes people stand up and take notice. I have to agree.

It is  prompting us, forcing us  really to look at ourselves as a community of connected individuals who can all have a say in our collective future . This movement has opened a dialogue with ourselves, all 100% of us. It is a discussion that is long overdue and if we want any real and lasting change for the betterment of us all, we need to have it.  If this movement has achieved anything it is this and it is the most essential.

fire
Image by matthewvenn via Flickr

The Occupy movement has provided the spark. To succeed the spark must grow and for it to grow and become something formidable, it must kindle the fires by adding new converts with clearer heads who can focus the attention on key issues.  For this movement to move it needs the help of everyone.  It cannot afford to alienate.  There are many problems and the protestors have every right to be angry, but their anger and a lack of clear focus hurts the very cause most they and I support so very much.

Strawberryindigo.