The Book of Our Lives

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We wake up in the morning and if our minds are open to the flow of past memories, something shows up that wants our attention.
A project we didn’t complete, mistakes that were made, opportunities that weren’t taken, things that weren’t said or were said.
Regrets.
And we think, was courage absent?
Did we give it our best? And if not, why not?
Were we living on the edge?
If not, why not?
Were we communing with ourselves? Or were too busy for that priceless dialogue?
Ever doubt that we have courage?
Look again. It’s there. Anxious to be called forth. Just waiting to be summoned. Ready to spring into action.
We all have courage. We come with it. It’s part of the equipment that nature gives us to do battle in our lives.
Like muscle, if we don’t use it, it withers away, may even go into hiding, but it never disappears entirely. So long as we have breath.
And what a joy it is to see it step forward.
In our daily battle for existence, all steps require some degree of courage to say ‘I’m here. I am alive.’
If we make mistakes, let’s fix them and learn from them.
Courage will be the first to admit that exercising it comes with mistakes.
To not exercise it daily is to bury ourselves, little by little.
We can call courage by another name, say affirmation. I prefer the word courage.
It’s raw, summons defiance, quiet or loud, small or large, shy or outrageous.
As the river that each of us is streams through life, courage is the force that defines us.
‘He/she did this. He/she did that.’
Each act of creation an act of courage.
And every day of our lives demands acts of creation or else we atrophy, shrivel, devalue our possibilities.
There’s too much to do in life. Too much injustice, too much ignorance, too much violence, too much indifference, too much conceit, for us to remain aloof.
The river that each of our lives is needs to flow to enrich other lives and by that measure our existences will be judged to have been worthy or not.
Because there is that possibility, isn’t there? The possibility that our lives will amount to nothing at all. To have existed and done nothing.
To have benefitted from other people’s efforts but contributed zero to the human project.
Every morning, upon awakening, life demands that we be courageous.
That we improve our existences and impact that of others.
Succumb to fear or face it.
Facing our past mistakes is facing our history. The book of our life opens a page every morning.
So let us read it. It is there to show us the path forward.
There, for us to write in our choices.

Acceptance. Having a Mind

Photo by Mark Neal on Pexels.com

Accepting ourselves. Accepting others.
They are intimately connected.
To accept ourselves as who we are is to say ‘I have made mistakes. And I will make others.
But the more I understand why I made the earlier mistakes, the less serious the mistakes that lie ahead, for I will catch myself earlier.’
To accept oneself is to say, ‘this is who I am now. The road to this moment is filled with choices and actions I now regret but at the time I did not have the maturity to better choose and act.
Now I know. Then I didn’t’.
There likely were unconscious forces at work earlier on that I simply didn’t grasp.
I didn’t because my mind wasn’t broad enough but was instead hampered by fears I may not have been able to even name. But as I dared to face my fears the road ahead opened up.
The courage to affirm ourselves, to say ‘this is me, these are my feelings, these are my thoughts, gives birth to the mind.
Ask yourself, ‘when did I first acknowledge to myself I had a mind?’
What is having a mind?
The capacity to reason while integrating our emotions.
A properly constituted mind has full knowledge of the range and variety of emotions.
Those emotions ground us as human beings. ‘I am me. With my moments of fear, my moments of doubt and my moments of courage.’
Then I look around and realize that everyone around is on the same journey, whether they know it or not.
Every day we’re faced with choices. And every day we may err. Or get it right.
Thus the importance of being able to forgive, which bring us back to acceptance of ourselves and others.
Having a mind enables us to embrace such acceptance. And such acceptance brings us a measure of peace and hope.
Having a mind enables us to choose what life we wish to live and then to do it.
Having a mind entails risk. Risk demands contending with doubt and fear and pushing on.
To not embrace that struggle is to drift without aim or let others dictate to us.
All of us have courage. The task is to pull it out and use it.
If we’ve lost sight of it is because it’s buried beneath layers of not accepting ourselves and not accepting others.
To accept oneself is to say I am entitled to exercise my courage. To accept others is to say you’re entitled to exercise yours.
Often others will ask us to accept their views uncritically. Reject that. Our minds are formed by making our own choices. And as we do we fill our existences with meaning.
The exercise of courage gets us closer to loving fully.
We may or may not get to be loved back with our same intensity – luck has a role in it – but having dared to be our best and reach as high as we can, will always be a mighty reward.
Call it self love.

Oscarvaldes.net, oscarvaldes.medium.com

Do Most of Us Live Smaller Lives?

Photo by Adhitya Andanu on Pexels.com

Compared to whom?
Compared to the people appearing in Forbes magazine’s list of wealthiest people?
Don’t do it. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in those lists.
You haven’t been featured in an article in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal?
Never mind.
You’re doing yourself a disfavor to compare yourself with those folks.
Each one of us has their own value.
Joe Biden has played a powerful role in uniting the West to fend off Putin’s assault on Ukraine.
But many people made important contributions to make that possible.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, is often in the spotlight saying something or the other about the company. I’ve yet to hear him take a pause and say, ‘my thanks to the hundreds of thousands of engineers, designers and other talented contributors for what you bring to the finished product. I just keep an eye on things.’
Same with Elon Musk.
I live in a building made possible by the efforts of hundreds and hundreds of craftsmen with many different skills, all coming together to bring about the final product.
Were they living smaller lives as they did their work? Not at all.
I recently had surgery and got an excellent result. My surgeon, a lady, did a terrific job. To me she has more value than all those people in the lists mentioned. She’ll never make those lists, but she’ll keep extending the lives of lots and lots of folks who, in turn, will make their own contributions to others. Her life is not a small life.
In assessing whether our lives are small or large we have to be thoughtful.
The press and media in general will want to rank people based on their own metrics and values.
We must not forget our own values.
A good guide is to try to do our best with what we have and always search for what we could do better and which will give us greater satisfaction.
We don’t have a lot of time, so we shouldn’t be complacent.
Given the capacities nature gave us, if we try our best to express them, our lives will not be small. We should be the judge of that. Just us. We shouldn’t let anyone else sit in the jury.
Smallness comes from not trying our best, from not taking chances, from hiding from risk.
To those who do try their best, thank them for their efforts.
Jonas Salk and Alfred Sabin gave us the vaccines against polio, sparing lives and deformities.
Countless mathematicians, physicists and computer programmers have changed our world through advancements in communication and brought us closer to each other.
There are people who have worked to make wood as hard as steel so we can build skyscrapers with wood instead, and so cut the huge carbon emissions that come from steel making and concrete. I don’t know their names and you probably don’t either but their lives are not small.
They’re doing their best with what they have.
That’s what all of us have to do, and our lives will not be small. Never mind the media.

Oscarvaldes.medium.com, apple podcasts.

The End is Near

For Trump.

And a rebirth is fast approaching for the nation.

Donald J Trump came into the job by appealing to a section of the country that had felt ignored. Once elected he should have called for unity, for the start of a dialogue that would begin to bring us together.

But he could not do it.

I know he looked into himself wondering if he had the strength to do the job.

I know he looked and looked again.

And yet, all along, the strength was hiding in a corner of his soul.

To find it he needed light.

That light was the courage to see the truth.

But he could not turn on the light.

It is sad that a nation as gifted as ours, has to go through four years of bitter dissent, four years of continuous acrimony, because our elected leader could not rise to the task of truly becoming our leader.

To do so he would have had to say,

‘I have stirred enmity in my followers to rise to victory, but now I should help them understand the root of such enmity, and I must do so even if I, myself, don’t understand it.’

A president has at his disposal all the wisdom of the nation’s scholars, and he could’ve easily called on them to help him find clarity, to assist him in learning what he did not know.

But he chose not to.

And it was a conscious choice. To choose darkness rather than light.

But you have to not be free as a person to choose darkness,

You have to not be free to not muster the courage to face the truth,

And so it is that the man wearing the mantle of leader of the Free World

Is not a free man himself.

It is too much to expect that our leaders will be wise in all things, but it isn’t too much to expect that they ask others to educate them where they are ignorant.

Let us call it intellectual honesty.

If it is not there, then they are not fit to lead.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other titles. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

A Vote Against Trump is Not a Vote for Betrayal, but a Vote for Freedom.

It will be up to 20 brave Republican senators to help redirect the course of the nation.

This next week, the full House will vote on approving the articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of congress – which will then move to the Senate where the president will be tried.

Sixty seven yes votes are needed to convict the president. Being that there are only 47 democratic senators, a full 20 Republicans are needed to switch sides to convict the president.

Can it happen? Odds are that it will not.

But there is always the possibility of a surprise.

Why?

History will not be kind to those who have sided with Trump in spite of the overwhelming evidence of improprieties during his tenure. Not just the articles of impeachment. And the perception of how history will view us matters to decent men and women who have made a long term commitment to the health of the nation.

Only 20 Republican senators are needed to turn out a president who shows no signs of standing up to despots the world over, be them Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, El-Sisi in Egypt or the Saudi prince.

Only 20 Republican senators are needed to turn out a president who could not stand up against the Saudi royal family after they butchered the distinguished journalist Jamal Khashoggi in their embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

Only 20 Republican senators are needed to turn out a president who, after 3 years in office, has not mustered the mettle to tell Putin that interference in American elections is not allowed.

So here’s an opportunity for 20 courageous Republican senators to take a stand.

Dear senator, will you be putting your career in jeopardy if you do so?

It depends on how you view yourself. If you think of yourself as someone who understands the crisis of values that the president has thrown the country into, and realizes that Trump lacks the capacity to lead the nation in these convulsed times, then you will stand up to him and join those who vote to convict.

If you lack this awareness, then you will bow to the great showman and buy into the great deception that he orchestrates daily.

Do not forget, however, that history will not be kind to you when you side with Trump.

But then, history may not be important to you. Short term gains may be what matters to you most. If so, please consult your conscience and ask, was this nation built by shortsighted men?

When Trump goes on trial in the Senate, you will have the option of choosing how do you want history to judge you.

A vote to acquit is a vote to join Trump in his poor choices and impulsivity and self promotion.

A vote to acquit is a vote to imperil the freedoms that have made us a special place in the world.

Daily courage is needed to preserve it, for freedom does not come cheap.

Will 20 brave, visionary, responsible leaders please stand up to defend our freedoms, or will you choose to pass and have the nation wait for others to muster the courage?

Oscar Valdes