I open at the close; Death and sacrifice

I open at the close.

I still remember the first time I read those words in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and had to work through the idea that Harry was going to die.

I remember feeling disbelief, rage, disbelief again and finally despair.

I had been through so much with Harry, and even though it infuriated me that it had come to this end, I had to accept the outcome because, after all, this wasn’t my story.

Luckily for me Harry ended up surviving, and all my emotional tumult was wasted. Yet even though I have re-read Harry Potter dozens and dozens…and possibly dozens more times since I was a child, every damn time I get to that part in the book I get super emotional. I realized a long time ago that it wasn’t about the fact that Harry would die(seemingly!), but more so that he was ready to make that choice. For someone that young to choose to die so that others would simply have a chance at a safer life was truly a beautiful ending for someone who had given all(albeit for nonsensical reasons due to the fact that half the stuff in Harry Potter is plain stupid, and I say this with deep love for the books!).

Self- sacrifice to something bigger than yourself is a difficult concept for many as we all live in such a narcissistic bubble these days, but it is the foundation of most hero stories and is what draws us to many of the characters in well known books and shows.

The idea of the hero is so pervasive because it touches upon a core issue for many of us, which is to push away that deep biological drive to save ourselves.  The hero does not want to die, but she believes that the responsibility to aid others is paramount and is worth dying for.

I think the world would be a very different place if each of us had something we felt was worth dying for, because it would give a deep sense of purpose to our lives.

In the end, death is the final chapter. Whether hero or villain we all must walk through its doors in the end. The reality of death pervades all life, sweetens it and terrifies the shit out of us.

The question is whether at the end of it all, we can look back upon our lives and know that, at the very least, we tried to stand by our beliefs.  Tried to figure out who we wanted to be, and strove towards those ideals.

And if you are one of those great souls who gives their lives in service to whatever your ideals are, hats off to you.

I will leave off with this little story pulled from the book bird by bird by Anne Lamott, because I believe innocence and the heroic many times go hand and hand.

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Knowledge begets responsibility

Someone has to start. Be the first to say “no”, that we can be better, have to be better.

To hold ourselves accountable, to reach for a higher standard, an ideal.

The question is what that ideal will be?

A certain level of safety is required for people to feel capable of striving towards other ideals, so we must begin with that first choice, the one to cause no harm to others. After we can begin to talk about the aesthetic, about beauty, about art, about how we wish to express ourselves.

We do require hardship though. Resistance is a necessary component to life. Struggle leads to a collapse of our inner beliefs, yet with the right conditions it also leads to renewal and a fresh, stronger perspective.

It helps to think about these basic tenets of life, because most of us are so distracted by the mundane tasks of eating and getting to work and hanging out with family and friends that we don’t take the time needed to really address these deeper issues.

As a society and as individuals we need to start thinking about why we have decided to live the way we are living, in a rational and optimistic fashion.

Societies tendency to lean towards the negative aspects of life and not appreciating any of the good is deeply troubling as people are becoming completely bat shit crazy believing that we are living in difficult times when the reality is for most of us we are living in the safest most desirable period of time in human history, ever.

So we need to acknowledge how damn lucky we are, yet still put our foot down and say no to those things which still need to be re-examined and changed or completely eliminated so that our children will have an even better future than ours.

So get to talking people, calmly and hopefully with a bit of research behind your statements, it’s our gift and responsibility to use the knowledge available to us to better our societies.

And please have fun while doing it because no one likes a grouch, take it from me.

Open mind and the values we strive for

Keeping an open mind is imperative, as we understand that many perspectives hold value, sometimes carrying a piece of a grander picture we have yet to uncover.

While allowing for an open mind, we must still be firm and unyielding on matters of import, especially when we have reasoned through the subject matter.

Humans as a whole must choose a code to live by.

A set of ideals to strive towards, understanding that none of us are perfect, and that we will stumble and fall in our attempts to reach the lofty heights of our idealism, but we must not allow our failures to hinder us from continuing on the path, otherwise we will spend our lives adrift in a storm ridden sea, unable to find the light in the darkness guiding us to shore.

Stand strong and get it done

Sometimes you just need to stop asking questions and take a leap of faith.

Knowing that something is the right thing to do for yourself or others is impossible.

No matter how much proof we have, there is always the chance that the choice you make is not the right one, that it leads to unforeseen and possibly disastrous consequences.

But at the end of the day, you have to make the choice to just put one foot forward and see what happens. The most important part is being adaptable, paying careful attention and adjusting as you go along.

But you do need to stand for something eventually, regardless of how open minded you focus on being, no matter how much you shift opinions and change, there is a core of values and ways of being that eventually will settle deep inside you, and the worst thing you can do is not stand by them, allow weakness and fear to overwhelm you.

Whether it is in your day to day way of living in relation to others, the morals you espouse, or the lifestyle and way of training that you believe in, at some point you need to put your flag down and say this is who I am and what I stand for. With the caveat that you are a flawed human being and reserve the right to evolve and change your ideas as you progress on your journey.

Stand strong, get shit done, live your values and grow day by day.