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All through life we must keep choosing. Destiny hangs on "yes" and "no." As we look back, it is to wonder what would have happened if we had gone the other way when the road forked.
On life's bargain-counter are wares piled up for the pleasing of all tastes. We marvel that some eagerly select what we contemptuously reject. Our tastes are as various as our natures.
How can Nature originate so great a variety of patterns? We speak of the mass of mankind as if it was all one. But it presents a bewildering variation. Human beings are as different from one another as their parental influences and their environments and their personal natures are different. Flesh and blood can never be run in a mould of monotonous uniformity. The fascination of travel is in the endless variety of mankind that one encounters, more than in silent buildings and inarticulate scenery!
The choice of personal associates is the all-influencing choice. To go wrong here is the likeliest way to cripple one's chances of eminence or of plain, everyday success. A man goes into business with partners guilty of malfeasance, and they pull him down. A woman marries the wrong husband, and though her courage may keep her at the sticking point and may enable her to preserve the appearance of domestic felicity, all that makes for the ideal relationship is absent.
The basis of happiness is not in things, but in people. Those of us who are thoroughly normal cannot get along without congenial society. The kind of persons we choose to be with is the first and surest indication of character. What a man chooses, he is.
About the article:
Reprinted from the Philadelphia Ledger, 1926.
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A belief in the Fatherhood of God leads naturally to the idea that humanity constitutes one great family, born and destined to encounter suffering and sorrow, and therefore bound together that we might sympathize with one another.
The idea is readily grasped, as profound as it is simple: we are souls that aspire together. We have our communities as our cradles, and humanity as our mother. Just like growing up in a family with brothers and sisters, where we eventually find our place in the family and make the best of it, so we seek to find our place in the midst of a sea of humanity.
Similar to the example of Nature, whereby the systems of animals, plants, winds and waves, air and dirt, and so on, can thrive because of their inherent cooperation, as if they are different parts of the same body, so it is that the interdependence of the members of a family keep a family functioning together. In the same way, we human family members do not live this life alone (nor should we), but derive our support and assistance from one another, and from the family of humanity as a whole.
I had no brothers, but my two sisters were more than sufficient. Family life was what it was (and continues to be, in some cases). Speaking for my sisters and I, we found our places as members of our immediate family, and within the scope of our extended family. I am grateful that I have these two women in my life, for they have taught me much, and it is with pleasure that I find my Path bound with theirs.
As I expand that line of thinking, I find I have a grateful appreciation for all of the relationships I have or have had, and I think of all the different kinds of relationships there have been. Incidental, casual, friendly, personal, close, intimate, physical, emotional, and more ... they raise by degrees, it seems. None are without significance to me. Not one.
At what point does a relationship become a true spiritual partnership? Must such a concept be a black-or-white, yes-or-no question? I believe that all who cross my path do so for a reason. Were it not for my connection, to one degree or another, with all of humanity, I would be utterly alone. It is the duty of each, you - her - him - them - all of you people out there, to play the part that has been wrought by our Creator, great or small, in the lives of others. It is my duty to honor appreciate that which each individual in my own long chain of close and more distant connections brings to my party.
Are they all spiritual partners? Yes, to a greater or lesser degree, in my estimation. (By the way, this means you, reading this right now. Too late, I'm now a part of your life, as you are of mine. That's how it works.)
I seek those who are like-minded, those with similar interests and life goals, that I might feel at ease because of that commonality. I look for special individuals with whom I can form partnerships of trust, respect and love, so that I might not have to make my way alone on this difficult journey. But, my qualifications for what I might be looking for in my relationships don't seem to amount to a hill of beans to the Universe.
What I get is everyday life, everyday people. My brothers and my sisters of the common cradle. My friends, family, lovers, acquaintances, children, parents, wives, victims, perpetrators, subscribers, adversaries, confidants, co-conspirators, co-workers, and of course, my fellow travelers. All right, I'll take 'em. It isn't a neat package, but then, neither am I. A soul mate for me? Probably in there, somewhere. Wrap it up.
We all struggle. Thank God we are there for each other. The struggle, and the solace we offer one another - both are our birthright!
Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2004
Helping: Soul-Mates by Gay
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Laura writes: For a reason I haven't been able to identify, my seven-year-old has been somewhat obsessed with the concept of soul-mates lately. At dinner, driving in the car, in the quiet, before-sleep moments, he asks me about the whole idea: whether he's met his soul-mate yet (I tell him it's unlikely but possible, feeling vaguely wistful - remembering that in his first years, I, of course, was his soul-mate), how he'll know when he does. And then, as I fear, the question comes: Mom? Who is your soul-mate?
It is a dilemma in relationship. I have always tried to be clear and honest with my sons. Yet now I suspect that I know the answer he wants to hear me say.
"Who do you think is my soul-mate?" I ask, stalling for time.
"I was hoping," he says, "that you'd say you have one, but I don't think you do. You should, though."
"Yes," I answer slowly, smiling. "I should." And I should, and I will, I think to myself - the more conscious I have become, the more sure I am that a soul-mate is somewhere ahead of me. I continue, "I am surrounded by love, Christopher, and that is all I ask for right now. This seems to be enough for him - as it truly is enough for me right now - and he lets the question go for the time being. I am amazed once again at the depth of knowledge and knowing that exists between us. And I am saddened, too, because I can't give him what I know he knows doesn't exist - but what I think he must wish for. A soul-mate in every home, bliss in every heart.
"Someday," I promise him - and myself.
About the author:
Gay Hendricks received his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford in 1974, and taught in the School of Education at the University of Colorado, retiring after 20 years of service. He is the founder of two organizations, The Hendricks Institute and the Foundation for 21st-Century Leadership. Dr. Hendricks is the author of more than 20 books, including the national bestsellers Conscious Loving and The Corporate Mystic.
Soup to Nuts: From the feedback
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Yes, I went camping over the Memorial day weekend, so no newsletter. It rained, but I love being out there, in it. Finally! I'll share the pictures with you in the coming weeks.
Maddie wrote,"A million thanks for writing so many inspiring, enlightening and courageous articles. I so appreciate reading your insights." You're welcome! It is my privilege.
When I submitted her latest article to another publisher, Sherry McClellan wrote, "I do love to see my brain on paper, as we all do, I suppose! ;) Thanks for thinking of it and have a great week, whatever you do!" It's good stuff, kid. Deep ideas, worthy of consideration. I value our conversations on the many topics of common interest we share.
Alumbo.com sent word that Disappearing Act has been published as a feature article in the following categories: Family, Relationships, Body, Mind, Spirituality, Aging and Longevity, Death, Dying & Grief, Inspiration/Motivation, Philosophy, Psychology / Mental Health, Self Esteem, Christianity, Global Religions, Aging, Parents, Grandparents. Usually, they limit writers to ten categories, but that is sixteen - their choices. How far that ripple reaches, my friend! My humble appreciation for all who benefit from that essay.
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