"Our Answer is God. God's answer is us. Through partnership we make our world better."
- Dorian Scott Cole

Teaching/Sermon Material


Transitioning 5

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We often develop this idea that there is only one thing we can do in this life. That idea is subtly misleading and grossly wrong. My attitude has always been that most people can do anything in life that they want to... and I have. The primary thing that stands in our way is ourselves. Like a building, we can be used for nearly any purpose.

This article is basically about choices. We always face a choice in life - whether it is better to have all things remain as they are, or better to allow and even embrace change. The quiet world is a static, or at rest, world. Sometimes it even blocks new ways of thinking from entering. We sometimes need the static, the quiet (quiescent), the non-chaotic, the predictable.

People who have been deaf from birth and not learned any language, not even sign language, know this quiescent state. People who have had their language centers damaged from brain trauma know it. People who have had near death experiences sometimes know it. People who have taken certain legal and illegal drugs sometimes experience this.

During this extremely quiet period when neural pathways are interrupted, there are no voices intruding, no thoughts about the world surrounding us, no evaluating the world and its constant clamor... people simply feel connected to all things and it is a peaceful state. Given the choice between being in this very peaceful, connected to everything state, or an active, noisy world, people choose the active world. The peaceful is pleasant, but in their hearts they choose the active. They choose to experience and think about it.

I recently wrote about the significance of language development, to the development of thinking, in my article on the Visual Writer Web site, Should We Dumb Down Communications and lose the ability to think?

We feel totally connected to the universe, unable to think, until we learn language. Language facilitates our beginning to feel separate from other people and things. This becoming separate, this process of "individiation," is dependent on language to create the narrative (stories) of our lives. We are the stories we create, and we become the stories that we see ourselves living. Without language, there is no story. The past is not interpreted. The future has no meaning except existence.

Early in this process of becoming adults, we learn to rely on rules to govern our behavior. As we progress, compliance with rules changes to learning values that become part of us in guiding how we treat others (behavior, morals). It's a change from that quiet world where we don't really think, where everything is known and predictable, to a world that is more chaotic in which we have to think for ourselves. It is the inevitable world that adults find themselves in. Life brings us challenge after challenge.

Spiritual change is part of spiritual growth. There are "stories" that we have about our past, that continue into our future. And then some event comes along and interjects itself into the story. We then have a choice. Fight to keep our lives just as they are, or adjust our lives for the change. Embracing and adjusting our lives for the change is a process I call "re-architecting" our lives. I borrowed the term from the architecture of buildings.

If you look at the history of a building, you will typically see it has had many uses. At one point it might have been a post office, then expanded into a grocery store, and then it might have become a post office. My wife's home survived multiple generations and was pulled together and reshaped many times. Part of it was once a post office, and the post office was moved to the existing house and became part of it. As it aged, porches were built on; one porch was converted to a beauty shop; trees grew up, grew old, and were cut down; the part of the yard with the garden was sold; and city water was put in. The house survived three generations. Buildings often see multiple uses during their lives.

We often look at our lives as if they are single use occupancies. In past generations, life was short and people typically saw marriage and children as the fulfillment of life. Everything revolved around finding the right mate, marrying, and having children early. Men and women had their assigned roles, and deviation was an exception. On average, people died in their forties, so life was a single purpose habitation. It was actually difficult to think outside of that frame. People who didn't follow the pattern were considered strange, and in their mid-twenties were labeled old maids or confirmed bachelors.

Today we think in terms of education, careers, marriage and family, the 50s and 60s, and retirement. Most people actually change careers three to four times. We don't have assigned roles in life, and we are not locked in to predetermined paths or careers.

Personally I was raised on a farm in a very rural area with nearly no resources, but that didn't seem to limit my view of what I could do in this life. I have had education and careers in radio broadcast (announcer), electrical engineering, religious ministry, medical equipment, management, marketing, building design and construction, computer software, and writing in several diverse fields. In each one of these diverse fields I have considerable depth and experience. Each one required starting from scratch with education or research, and experience, and working my way up. Some days my job is mowing the yard. In the last ten years I have actually done work in all of these fields, much of it advanced work.

I describe this process as "re-architecting." We are somewhat like buildings. During the lifetime of a building, it may have several uses. It may require some modification or some remodeling, but it readily adapts to a new purpose. Sometimes the facade (face) of a building is changed, and change for us may be as simple as putting on makeup or different clothes. Change may be as complex as going back to college or training.

The primary thing to keep in mind is that we can do many different things in this life. For example, I have often said that women are prepared for management roles by raising children and managing families, and they naturally work with people in a nurturing way that is much more beneficial to company growth than many of the destructive management styles I have seen first hand. Women should not feel handicapped because they have had households to run and chilren to raise. Men, on the other hand, can typically leverage skills attained on one job to many others. I've also said that anyone who has an eighth grade education, and did reasonably well, can do nearly any job in the business world. Business promotes from within based on demonstrated abilities, not book knowledge. (But without the HS diploma, you might not get in.)

Attitude is the better part of success, and treating others with respect is the first part of attitude. Neither age nor intelligence are restrictions. Most people have the ability to learn new things regardless of condition or age. I have mentioned before Joni Erikson and Stephen Hawking, both paralyzed from the neck down. One is famous for painting and radio programs. The other famous for being a brilliant physicist.

Famous radio news commentator Paul Harvey, began radio in 1933 and eventually broadcast on over 1200 stations. He worked as a broadcaster until his death in 2009 at age 91. Fittingly, in his broadcasts Harvey often brought attention to those who had achieved success at something new at an advanced age.

Columnist Michael Binyon draws attention to these people: Doris Lessing was 88 when she received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Lancelot Clark was in his 70s when he set up the Soul of Africa business to train and employ local women to make shoes. The company employs 70 women, with around $800,000 in sales. Examples are endless of people who find vocations for themselves regardless of their physical condition, their educational level, their training, or their age. People are unstoppable when they invest themselves in life and find a passion for doing things.

Sometimes it takes some new training or education for a career, but most people can do it. It isn't necessary to go after things in a grand way. Most people find life very satisfying if they just find some fulfilling purpose, whether it is keeping the floor clean for the grandkids, or doing maintenance for those who can't do it themselves.

God has a place for each of us. We need to find our interests that make us happy, and keep pushing on doors until one opens. One thing is certain, the wrong person in the wrong "job" is not nearly as productive and happy as the right person in a vocation he is passionate about.

Let's talk about it. Social Media and One Spirit Resources Blog below. - Dorian Scott Cole.












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