This is the story of the man who rearranged his life.

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IMG_20170723_223216_485Once upon a time there was a man who kept the whole of his life in separate compartments.  It was his daily task to inspect the compartments, bringing order to elements which had become disarrayed, inspecting, mending, arranging and rearranging as required.

 

It had been a gradual realization to this man that his life was compartmentalized.  Now, recognizing the extent of the compartmentalization of his life, he started each day with the recitation of a personal litany that had also developed gradually, the which he used to recall each of the steps in progression that led to the present situation of compartmentalization. He traced the beginnings to a time in his life when a current interest became so important to him that he could allow nothing else to take greater precedence. Very quickly, more and more of his mental energy was required to shut out other interests until, being the creative and methodical person that he was and not willing to totally abandon all interests in favor of the pursuit of just one, he began constructing the compartments. They were thoughtfully and carefully made and, although he had fully intended to use them only on a temporary basis, they were sturdy enough to withstand the test of time. And so they did.

 

In the beginning there were only three compartments of varying sizes–one each for Past, Present, and Future Interests. Not much later he tried to fit certain Long-Term Interests into each of these compartments only to find that there was not enough room or that they were too dissimilar to be kept in combination. Because incompatibilities create conflicts and because he was a man who preferred order and harmony, he felt compelled to separate dissimilar interests. So, he began constructing more and more compartments until the compartments were of greater consequence to him than the interests contained in them, and they required his constant vigilance.

 

Now, this man was not a complainer, nor was he inclined to scheme a way out of his responsibilities. He had always been one to accept and deal with things as they happened and he was perfectly willing to accept the consequences of his compartmentalized life.

 

Each morning, as he was not one to waste time, the man’s day began early. With great efficiency he strapped on his tool belt. He wore it like the habit of a holy order. It was part of his uniform and an outward reminder that his life was compartmentalized and that he embraced his indebtedness to the construction and maintenance of every compartment. Only a few compartments were locked and so only a few keys hung from his belt. Even so, he was constantly aware of the clumsiness and weight of the gadgets and instruments that he carried; and, thus encumbered, it was an effort to remain balanced.

 

There was quite an array of equipment arranged on his belt in specific places by category for ease of finding. These he had collected for Repairing and Mending; Measuring, Calculating, and Weighing; Moving, Arranging, and Taking Inventory, to name a few. There were also compartment-specific items that had exclusively designated use and application only for certain compartments. All these tools were a necessary element of the compartmentalization of his life and so they required a level of maintenance of their own. Logs and schedules for this activity were kept in a separate compartment. Now, as he relied upon them so often and needed quick access to them, Imagination, Reason, Emotion, and Hope were kept in compartments which he ingeniously figured out how to hang from his belt! Desire was not a tool, neither was Responsibility; but these were the right and left gloves of his uniform. He wore a plaid shirt woven of Creativity and Curiosity, pants made of Caution and Courage, and his feet were shod with Swiftness and Determination. Only his head was bare, making him vulnerable. But, he did create a visor with blinders on either side, which he wore when at his tasks to shield his eyes from the strain of concentration, and to help him focus solely on the task before him.

 

At home, as elsewhere, he moved strictly by self-imposed protocol from compartment to compartment. Sometimes, he noticed that he had inadvertently carried something with him that actually belonged shut up elsewhere. Even though he was a man who accepted things as they came, he found himself alarmed and distracted from his routine by such accidents. The dis-ease of impending doom nagged at him, creating great anxiety until the next day when on his daily rounds he was able to return the item to its proper place. So, against the happenstance of such a  repeated mistake, he developed a strategic tool to convert, through a sophisticated program of computer analyses, all the elements of such a mistake. The output was a series of timed reminders that enabled him to take all the necessary steps, in their proper order, to return the item to its rightful place within an acceptable period of time and with minimal exertion.

 

Without variation, his daily routine called for the newest compartments to be checked first, followed by the largest ones. There had come a point in time when he realized just how complex his system of compartments was becoming. That was when he developed C.L.E.A.R., the “Compartment Life Expectancy Assessment Register,” which enabled him to chart the moving of current interests in and out of higher priority compartments. This only made sense, anyway, he reasoned, since interests that declined in importance ranking should by rights be stored in smaller, less conspicuous compartments, making room for newer and more important interests. These smaller compartments he did not inspect on a daily basis, but with lesser and lesser frequency until one of three things happened. (1) The compartment could be designated for “Compartment Custodial Care”–whereby interior inspection was no longer required (only superficial, exterior maintenance). This was a cumbersome and tedious process of paperwork and forms that he preferred not to spend a lot of time on, contributing to the bloated inventory of compartments at any point in time.  (2) If a new (even unrelated) interest surfaced in his life that required a compartment of its own, he could enact “Compartment Automatic Retirement Plan”–whereby all contents would be removed from a compartment in Custodial Care and discarded in favor of the new interest. This process involved strict recycling policies that were kept in newer, eco-friendly compartments. It was a drastic measure and one he liked to believe he used more often than he did. (3) The third option had only been taken on rare occasions but, nonetheless he did have a system in place named “Compartment Revitalization And Prioritization” –whereby, due to renewed interest, more frequent visits were reinstated and the compartment moved back up to a higher priority section on his inspection list.

 

Inside each compartment was an “Inventory Checklist;” “Interest Assessment and Priority Evaluation;” the log where he recorded dates and times of inspection; and, the “Social Acceptance Measurement” and an actuary chart.  One thing he never used was a map because regardless of how complicated and complex the network of compartments grew to be, he always knew where everything was. It was instinctive.

 

Almost as gradually as he had realized the compartments’ domination of his life, one day a new thought began to germinate and that was this: that what had begun as a plan to bring order and clarity to his life had developed some rather negative side effects. He was sure the compartments had created a different sort of chaos as well as a sort of insidious complacency, for keeping things in their proper compartments took up far too much of his time. He was more and more preoccupied with the movement of interests, people, possessions, ideas, emotions, memories, and plans in and out of compartments. He was occasionally overwhelmed with the knowledge that at any moment some compartments were empty, some of them needed to be combined, others needed to be sub-divided and re-sub-divided. He was having second thoughts about classifying Questions and Doubts–both of which required far more space than any other compartments. Those Ideas he had subdivided into Good and Bad had seemingly taken on a life of their own, requiring constant reevaluation and resorting. Originally for his eyes only, he regretted sharing, in a moment of compromise, the contents of certain compartments, and he was having difficulty developing Standards & Practices to guide future decisions on when or if and how, how often, and how much of the compartments to share. He tried to remember what it was like before he began to compartmentalize. He prided himself on the judicious decision-making critical to the successful compartmentalization of his life. But, more and more he heard people complaining openly about his Judgementalism. Sometimes he heard himself dissecting and summing up the parts of conversations and wondered if perhaps they were right, or if he should just store away those thoughts for later inspection.

 

He was distracted and becoming less careful with his routines. Daydreams and Nightmares had been squeezed into the smallest of his compartments with Dreams. These were fragile and prone to wander, and he had so few of them that, for the sake of convenience, he kept them on the table by his bed. At the end of a particularly confusing day, he placed his dream of no more compartments back into its compartment. He viewed the walls that constructed this compartment – all of them – as just walls, barriers, obstructions, the tall hedges of a maze that kept him constantly on the run, searching for the way out. The extent of his isolation was so disorienting to him that he wasn’t sure he knew what was beyond the walls of that Dream Compartment, anymore. What happened that night he could not explain, but he recalled later that as he lay down to sleep, from somewhere, he recalled a line from a bedtime story he heard once when he was a child:  “You can find happiness in your Dreams.” He sat up beside his pillow and opened the Dream Compartment beside his bed. And then, seized by a sudden impulse, he took out all the dreams by handfuls and scattered them across his bedroom like a sower broadcasting seeds across an open field.

 

They flew in all directions across the room like caged birds set free. He watched them beautifully shimmer for just a moment, catching the moonlight from his window as they floated through the air. And just as quickly, they dropped to the floor in the still silence of the night, with a sound that reminded him of that barely audible soft falling snow sound he used to love to hear, back when he had time for such things. He sat motionless, witnessing the scene before him, watching his dreams vanish before his eyes.

 

“O, now what have I done!” he moaned out loud as he sat on the edge of his bed with his head in his hands. “The night is young and all of my dreams are gone,” he sighed. He had not the courage to face the night without the comfort of a single dream. Like a drowning man grasping for a rope, he rolled out of bed, knelt upon the floor, and stretched out his hands in the darkness until he touched the opened Dream Compartment on the floor. Gently, he felt inside to find out if even one dream remained. Far in the back, his fingers sensed something. Carefully, he coaxed the last remaining dream out of the Compartment. He had not seen it for so long that he barely recognized it, but even in the darkness of night, he knew it, and he fully appreciated the importance of this one last dream. O, that this dream should have survived all of his foolishness! He did not pause, did not consult the protocols, did not take the time to check his options before he brought the dream to his lips and swallowed it. He felt the warmth of it filling him up and renewed strength coursing through his veins. The man laughed. Had it been this easy all along, and yet he had not known it? He stood up unshackled, unchained, unencumbered, unleashed, unrestrained, uninhibited, uncontained, uncontrolled, unashamed, unapologetic, unquestioning, understanding. Not a hammer had been lifted, not a hinge undone, yet down came the walls of all the compartments of his life and, that very night, his dream came true.

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This is the story of the man who had to sleep

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There was once a young man who knew he was uniquely beautiful. In fact, he was so beautiful that each day the Sun stopped as it climbed the morning sky just to peek into his bedroom window and catch a glimpse of his sweet countenance. Doing so, the Sun would blow in a kiss which landed on the young man’s cheek in the form of a sunbeam. If the young man woke with a smile, the Sun would shine forth brightly all day long. But, if not, the Sun would pull a cloud over its face to hide behind and cry.

 

At night, the Moon roamed the evening sky with all the stars tagging along behind, hoping to catch a glimpse of this beautiful young man. Occasionally it was too dark  even for as brilliant a celestial body as the Moon to find the young man walking in the shadows of nighttime. So, on such a night, the Moon might throw a star across the sky to cast light into the darkness and help to reveal the young man’s whereabouts. If the Moon found the young man, it would swell with pride and happiness and grow to twice its normal size: as round as a pumpkin and as large and bright as a thousand stars altogether. But, if the young man could not be found, the sad Moon would shrivel up to a mere sliver of its normal size, and vanish into the blackness for a time.

 

Now, this young man made a place for himself as the prized fixture of a magical garden. The garden was the playground and infrequent retreat of a beautiful and benevolent Mistress, who left the young man in charge while she was away taking care of things. Wherever he walked, moss grew on the ground before him to cushion his feet and the Wind reached its fingers out to sweep his fine hair from his eyes while he worked. The garden did not require much tending, so there wasn’t much to occupy him of that sort of work; just the complimentary attendance of his presence and the inspiration of his visage. And so, his primary occupation was just this: to be himself. And, in this way, his days were spent sharing his beauty with everything around him. Occasionally he made up songs for the birds to sing or corrected the length of shadows. Sometimes he arranged the flowers and always he encouraged the trees to be strong.

 

Day after day he lived in the garden and was quite satisfied with his place there. As he walked in the peaceful serenity of natural beauty he frequently paused here or there and posed so that if by chance a passing stranger might happen to take notice of his whereabouts, he would surely be compelled to stop in wonder at the sight of the young man even more beautiful than his surroundings. Daily, he practiced just the right bend of his knee, just the right tilt of his head so that his face would catch the sunlight at just the proper angle to reveal his greatest assets.

 

Fully aware of the astonishing greatness of his own beauty, the young man practiced the appearance of nonchalance so as not to frighten off his admirers; and, he practiced modesty, although he had to admit he simply could not master this. Mostly, he concerned himself — year after year after year — with preserving his own beauty.

 

The practice of being himself necessitated maintaining his youthful form, so as the years passed he had to adjust his habits to carry off the illusion of his youth. The young man spent many hours every day by a deep, clear reflecting pool in order to examine his appearance, his carriage, and to monitor the poses that he worked at so diligently. Unfortunately, because he could only see himself in the reflecting pool by bending over, this had the regrettable effect of creating many poses in his repertoire which required of him a bent-over posture. The young man justified this outcome by imagining how effortlessly agile he must appear when after assuming one of these positions he then gracefully straightened himself upright. But, over the years, the result of spending so much time leaning over the pool had more of an effect of altering his youthful appearance than anything else, and he gradually developed a slightly hunched-over shape — of which he was completely unaware, since he could only see himself while leaning over the pool.

 

The years passed and the constant work of maintaining himself became exhausting to the young man. His muscles ached from the poses and his knees creaked every time he bent over the reflecting pool. It was an increasingly difficult chore to be himself, and that was only relieved by falling asleep. And so, he developed the practice of appearing here and there with his dazzling smile, every lock of hair in place, posing in case anyone should see him, by refreshing himself with brief naps that he stole throughout the day. He would suddenly materialize as if out of nowhere, practice being himself, and then, as quickly as turning off a light, he would disappear into the shadows of a nearby glen for a nap.

 

On a certain day, the Mistress came for the enjoyment of the garden. How distressing it was to him to know that at any moment he might see a look of disappointment on her face–not for some lack of beauty within the garden or himself, but because she might witness him grow tired and mistake that tiredness for disinterest or boredom or weakness. What would happen then? Might he become acquainted with her anger? Might she banish him from the garden forever?

 

Up and down the lanes they walked together that day, taking in all the beautiful sights and sounds and smells. As was his custom, the young man stopped along the way to present another aspect of his charm to the Mistress of the garden, and she did not withhold her delight. But, as the young man had feared might happen, fatigue overcame him so that he had no choice but to lie down for a moment and let sleep take him from her company. Frightful dreams plagued his unconsciousness. But, when he roused himself, his head was cradled in the Mistress’s lap, whose face shone with amusement.

 

“Is being yourself so tiresome,” she asked, “that it puts you to sleep?” The young man looked away, fearing an awful judgment. “Oh, give me a smile,” she laughed. The young man summoned every ounce of his energy, determined to give her a smile that she would never forget. Then, before his very eyes he saw her transform into the Sun and the Moon and the Stars altogether. A great swirling cosmic Wind swept her up into the clouds, and in his good ear she whispered, “So sleep!” A shower of silver stardust and golden sunbeams fell over the young man and the Wind gently rocked him into a deep and sound and peaceful sleep. And he is sleeping to this very day.

Snow Will Fall

A woman was following her own path on the Journey Of Life when, in the middle of a confusing day, she passed the reflection pool of an Oracle. It was full of ancient light rising from the depths of a source so deep and primordial that if you could trace it, you would find yourself somewhere before the origins of time. When the woman paused to look into it, the water was disturbed and she was unhappy, for here she had hoped to find answers to her questions. Fear seized her and she dreaded what might happen next. The woman wrapped herself tighter in her fear, for it was the cloak that she wore when she felt threatened.

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Moving back from the pool, she sank onto the broad surface of a massive rock nearby and, as she sat in silence, anxious about all the terrible things that could happen, she heard the soft tinkling of wind chimes in the distance. A gentle Breeze blew across her face and whispered in her ear. “Why are you afraid?” This made the woman even more fearful. She felt her fists clench, her jaw tighten, her heart beat faster, and she became suddenly aware of many dark and threatening noises coming from shadows above and around her. She distrusted the rock upon which she sat. She distrusted her own perceptions.

Then, the voice of the Oracle whispered again, “Look into the water.”

“I can’t,” the woman stuttered. “I looked before and it was too rough for me to see anything clearly.”

“Of course. Then, set aside your fear and look now,” the Oracle persisted.

So, the woman cautiously removed her cloak of fear, set it down upon the rock, and walked over to the reflection pool. She looked into it and, behold! The water was calm and clear as glass. In fact, the woman could see herself quite vividly, huddled over into a fearful, misshapen image that she barely recognized. She blinked her eyes to make sure of what she was seeing behind her. There appeared a verdant forest of lush trees and brilliantly colored flowers, stars and planets and rainbows and fantastic cloud formations in a vast sky, colorful birds, and even the Oracle, standing there smiling, beaming love and acceptance.  The woman could actually see the Breeze glittering in the air like a sprite, playing with her hair and teasing the birds to race with it through the trees. The woman was shocked and wondered why she had seen none of this before.

She turned to look around her and sure enough, it was all there as she had just seen it in the calm water of the reflection pool. Now, her feeling of fear changed to excitement. She was anxious to continue her journey and see what might happen next. But, before she could move, the Oracle spoke again.

“Your habitual reaction of fear comes from a place of self-protection that is good. But, there is no need to be afraid here or over there, or even over there. The next time you feel afraid, if you know you are in no danger, then just tell yourself that what you feel is excitement. Set aside your cloak of fear and open your heart to the possibilities of each new place and person on your Journey Of Life so that you can enjoy it more, and with less fear.”

With that, the Oracle actually laughed and, knowing how much the woman loved the still beauty of snow, told the woman this story:

One winter was especially cold and rough. Freezing winds, ice and heavy snow lasted for weeks and weeks. Then, in the middle of that harsh winter, a day dawned brightly. The storm clouds rolled away, the sun reappeared in the sky, and it felt just like spring. Thick mounds of iced-over snow melted and evaporated in the heat of the warm sun. All living things seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief. They turned their faces up to the sky and enjoyed the day. But, the next morning, winter returned with a vengeance. Blown across the sky by a razor-sharp wind, it filled the air with thick, wet puffs of snow that piled up fast and deep.

There will always be winter and spring and there will always be warm days in winter that remind us of spring, that look like spring; but, they are not spring. Even so, those warm days are not to be feared and neither is the snow.

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Snow will fall on some who put out their buds the day before, thinking that spring was already here. They may have already flowered. Their reaction to the unanticipated wet blanket of snow will be suffocation. The cold snap will stunt their growth and it will be a long time before they have the opportunity to flower and bloom again.

 

 

 

20180217_092327Snow will fall on some who have sent their green shoots just above the surface, getting ready for the next stage in their cycle of life. Their response to the snow will be to find the good in it. The snow will nourish them and when the time is right, they will manifest their growth by flowering and reaching full fruition.

 

 

Snow will fall on some who do not react at all. They stand tall and strong and wait for the right time to bud and blossom and bloom. They will barely notice the snow, but others will admire them and take inspiration for the way they take everything in stride and for weathering the storm so beautifully.

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