Dare to Live

Compared to what we ought to be, we are half awake.
— William James

I have been formatting The Art of Encouragement into an e-book for publication on Smashwords (soon to be available). I wrote the book in 2002, but it still speaks to me today. In fact, I’m still working on applying the wisdom from its pages. When I write, I write more wisely than I know at the time I’m writing. As I look back on my work, I see that there was a sure thread of insight weaving through my work that anticipated my own spiritual growth. 

I also remember that when I was writing The Art of Encouragement, I was struggling with the limitations of dogma and doctrine, trying to find my way through the labyrinth of questions and changes and challenges to old belief systems. Funny, I think we are all going through this collectively now. The world I knew then is not the world I know now. The rules I was trying so hard to follow back then are now broken, discarded, or have morphed into something less legalistic and more about living from the heart. 

Struggling with my own doubts and fears, wrestling with the realities of another era, I am reminded again to stay true to my own vision, and to be kind and forgiving to others, knowing that we are all in the process of evolving to higher levels of consciousness and more expansive ideas of what the world is meant to be. 

This excerpt from The Art of Encouragement spoke to my heart today:

Adventure can be an end in itself. Self-discovery is the secret ingredient that fuels daring.
— Grace Lichtenstein

Do not close yourself off from life because of fear. Do not build walls of expectations or dictate terms for who, what, how, and when the Universe will deliver. Expect miracles and see miracles, even in the simple, mundane round of life. Love each moment as it comes. Embrace it fully. Immerse yourself in this moment, this reality. Be aware. Be yourself. Be brave and dare to live from the very center of your being. 

When you have a choice between following your heart or following your head, always listen to your heart first. Know that you are not alone. The still, small voice speaks when you are willing to listen. You are surrounded by the love of the Universe; you are guided by God; you are ministered to by His angels, watched over by saints and ancestors. Embrace your life today. Live in the music and dance to the rhythm of love. Dare to live with your whole heart, every single day of your life.

Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music in them.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.
— Blaise Pascal

Dare to be naïve.
— R. Buckminster Fuller

The only real security is not insurance or money or a job, not a house and furniture paid for, or a retirement fund, and never is it another person. It is the skill and humor and courage within, the ability to build your own fires and find your own peace.
— Audrey Sutherland

People generally think that it is the world, the environment, external relationships, which stand in one’s way, in the way of one’s good fortune. . . . and at the bottom is always man himself that stands in his own way.
— Søren Kierkegaard

There is no going alone on a journey. Whether one explores strange lands or Main Street or one’s own backyard, always invisible traveling companions are close by: the giants and pygmies of memory, of belief, pulling you this way and that, not letting you see the world life-size but insisting that you measure it by their own height and weight.
— Lillian Smith

Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.
— Sarah Bernhardt

You are not living by human laws but by divine laws. Expect miracles and see them take place. Hold ever before you the thought of prosperity and abundance, and know that doing so sets in motion forces that will bring it into being.
— Eileen Caddy

Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win.
— Bernadette Devlin

No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another God dwells in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
I John 4:12 (NAB)

It is not who you are or what you have been that God sees with His all-merciful eyes, but what you desire to be.
— The Cloud of Unknowing (c. 1375)

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
— Romans 15:13 (The Message)

Affirmative prayer

O God, who hast prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee in all things and above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire.
— The Book of Common Prayer

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

I met a wonderful musician a few months ago. He performed a stirring anthem, We Are One, and had us all singing along. Kevin Reid inspires people with his joyful enthusiasm, all-embracing love, and playful humor. As a songwriter and music producer, his songs reflect his experiential awareness of the deeper levels of being and becoming, while encouraging individual, national and global transformation to greater unity, love and understanding.

The recording We Are One took nearly two years to complete The production involved 90 coast-to-coast recording sessions to include the voices and talents of a diverse group of over 200 professional artists and everyday people. It’s a global gift of love. 

Go to http://www.aworldanthem.org/index.html to hear the song and read the story behind its creation. 

The Courage to Thrive

Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers. 
Leigh Hunt

I have been handling a lot of frustration, desperation, and depression this summer.Struggling to keep afloat, I experienced a leak in my boat. And I’ve been drowning in the negativity and fear that we all feel like a miasma around us, fed by the media and by economic woes. And I have been tempted to give in to the most frightening thoughts, the most troubling images. I doing things that I never thought I would have to do, facing losses that are hard to bear. 

But I refuse to be defined by my failures, my losses, and my fears. I am choosing to move beyond limited definitions of who I am and what I am capable of being. 

In the process of seeking answers to my own dilemmas, I have met some amazing people and found some helpful resources that tell me we can do more than just survive in hard times. We can learn how to thrive.

I am reading an inspiring book by Paul Pearsall. It’s called The Beethoven Factor: The New Positive Psychology of Hardiness, Happiness, Healing, and Hope. Pearsall’s own story of surviving cancer is inspiring, and he introduces you to the people he calls thrivers, individuals who face life’s unavoidable challenges head-on and grow stronger and more vital as a result. He offers a course in “thrivology” that teaches you to tap into your God-given powers to transform troubles into triumphs. Beethoven wrote his best-loved symphonies despite deafness. And we can write a more meaningful story for our lives even in the face of loss and difficult times. 

This is not just about positive thinking. It’s about being willing to live fully, even in the face of death. It’s about being willing to risk, even if you have no guarantees of winning. And it’s about choosing to love life, give it meaning, and adapt to the changing circumstances of life with grace and courage.

If you are in the midst of a crisis, I know that words often slide off the surface of your mind, making no impact. You have to give yourself grace and time. But when you are ready, the right phrase, a new idea, or something that lets you know you are not alone in your struggles, can reach the heart. I’m writing not because I have the answers, but because I have found some comfort and inspiration to help me make a choice for life, and to choose to thrive instead of merely surviving. 

The Daily Coyote, a book (and website) by Shreve Stockton, tells the story of a young woman raising a coyote in the wilds of Wyoming. One of the most inspiring ideas I gleaned from her relationship with Charlie, the coyote, is about becoming an “energetic alpha.” Shreve says, 
“By energetic alpha I mean a solid, unwavering conviction in oneself. On that cannot be broken by intimidation from outside sources.… Energetic alpha is a combination of confidence and grace, and this translates seamlessly to every area of life—personal and business relationships, even our attitudes regarding work and personal trials—and the manner in which we move through life.” 

Paul Pearsall writes: “Thriving is defined as reconstructing life’s meaning in response to life’s most destructive occurrences. It is not only rising to the occasion, but being raised by it. Thriving is a renewal of faith, energy, trust, hope, and connection just when doubt, cynicism, fear, fatigue, and alienation seem at their worst. It’s not just bounding back, but up and beyond. It is the emergence of a new creative spirit through and because of the darkest times, a spirit that can guide us to the Beethoven Factor so we too can creatively conduct our daily life as an ode to joy.”

Are you willing to consider the possibility that there is more to you than meets the eye? Are you willing to come with me on a quest for a more meaningful and vibrant response to the challenges life presents? I can’t guarantee that we’ll get out of this unscathed, but I do guarantee that we can find grace and a new kind of wholeness and sanity if we will face our fears and failings with courage, and move deeper into the heart of God for our strength and comfort. This is my quest. I hope you’ll join me. 

Here are a few more quotes that I hope will inspire you if you are facing a crisis or challenge in life:

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has been banished returns.
I Ching, The Book of Changes

All suffering prepares the soul for vision.
Martin Buber

The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns not longer fit; the time for a passing of a threshold is at hand. 
Joseph Campbell

To a poor sailor the winds are always against you.

The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need to do is set our sails.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
William Shakespeare

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves—regret for the past and fear of the future.
Fulton Oursler

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
Pablo Picasso

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ 
Eleanor Roosevelt

Things seem to turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.
Art Linkletter

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
Oscar Wilde

Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the conquest of it.
William Danforth

Affirmative prayer

My mother recites this prayer and I, too, am finding great comfort in it.

The light of God surrounds me,
The love of God enfolds me,
The power of God protects me,
The Presence of God watches over me,
Wherever I am, God is.
--prayer card/author unknown 

Introducing an inspiring friend: 

Just for fun

Remember the old Exxon slogan, “Put a tiger in your tank?” Chris Guillebeau offers a new take on that with his blog entry Visit to Tiger Kingdom. The photos do not lie—he’s cuddling up to a very big tiger. “What’s new, pussycat?”


Get serious about play:

With all the dire headlines and my blog about finding meaning in trials and difficulties, it’s easy to forget that one of the best things you can do is play. If you want to be fully alive, play with others. Interplay groups offer one of the most wonderful ways to play meaningfully. I took the Interplay Leadership course and will be forever grateful to Diana Morningstar Ault for introducing me to the joys of Interplaying. I give you the national website and our Tennessee site. Come have fun and heal your heart!


Action Whey

I don’t normally endorse products. However, I have enjoyed so much success using this whey drink that I have become a distributor. I'd love to have you check it out and see if it would work for you, too. I’m offering my personal experience with the product and if you are not interested in a commercial, just skip this part of my blog. 

I have been drinking ActionWhey since late June, and I'm so grateful for the extra energy it gives me. I'm eating less (so I'm saving money on groceries!), feeling better, and even losing weight! People tell me I am looking great. 

Not only that, ActionWhey tastes good, with no bitter or gluey aftertaste. I like to blend it with water, milk, rice milk, or almond milk, and a banana. Chocolate is my preferred flavor, but the vanilla is also excellent. I drink one serving in the morning for energy, and if the day is hectic or I'm feeling the need for extra nourishment, I'll drink another serving later in the day. I have always struggled to eat for energy and tend to wilt pretty quickly in the afternoon, even when I eat well (salads and fresh fruits). 

Since I have been using ActionWhey my energy continues evenly through the day. I'm also handling the heat of Nashville summer better, too. No more wilting for me. This has been a special blessing in the last few weeks as life has been more stressful than usual recently (hasn't it been so for us all?). 

Oh, and did I say how helpful it was when I traveled in July? I had plenty of energy for the five hour flight, and when I was at my destination, one serving of ActionWhey kept my energies up so I could enjoy time with my family. 

I also sleep more soundly. And my digestion is better. They say it helps you feel younger—and I do feel younger, lighter, and less weighed down by life itself (this is a neat trick, considering what's going on in my life right now!). 

One new thing I've noticed: clear sinuses. This may not be a big deal in other parts of the country, but summer in Nashville, especially on hot and humid days, can be hell on sinuses. I have had something that gives me sinus headaches every July since I moved here in 1993. Not this year. I'm sure it's the ActionWhey helping my immune system. Clear breathing is a gift, especially when the heat is on and the humidity makes you sweat. Clear sinuses mean more oxygen in the body, and that means more energy. 

Gail Goad, my friend and yoga instructor, introduced me to Action Whey. Her son has helped develop the product, and Hugh Downs chose to feature the product and company on a recent PBS program. It also features Dr. Mark Houston from Vanderbilt, Director of the Center for Anti-Aging and a Board Certified physician. 

I have also learned that it's easy to build a business quickly (low key, absolutely nothing pushy, no financial investment, no complicated systems or sales meetings). I can soon have the monthly cost of my whey drink covered, just by introducing others to what I already use and enjoy. And as more people join under me I can also earn $$$$. All I do is tell them about the product and send them to my website. 

But you don't have to build a business. You can just go to the retail site, read about the product, and download the free report on Glutathione, with no obligation. 

If you decide to try ActionWhey, let me know if you like it. Email me if you have questions. I'll do my best to answer them. I think the website is pretty self-explanatory, though.

I'm putting links for Action Whey here. One takes you to my website. 


The other link takes you to the Action Whey page for information on the product I'm using.


When You Don't Know Which Way to Go, Go Within

Take your business as it is, child, and praise Divine Love that there is a strong wise way out of your dilemma. 
Emma Curtis Hopkins

I received an email from a friend who is considering a move. She is not happy where she is living and is looking for a new start. This reminded me of what has been going on in my own life recently, including having fantasies of moving away to find the “perfect” life. There may be no such thing as a perfect life, but fantasy can paint a pretty convincing picture of the wonderful life and perfect people and no problems that could be “if only.” Of course, if I know how to live my life well, I can have a wonderful life without having to pack everything up and move to the other side of the country. Having felt as if all the pieces of my life have been tossed into the air in the last year, I am seeing a few pieces beginning to land and create a new pattern for my life right here in Nashville. While I had fantasies of moving away and starting a pristine new life during these months of feeling disconnected from my old life (especially when facing the heat and humidity of a Nashville summer), I have come to realize it is not what is around me that makes the difference, it is what is inside me. 

Remember the saying “Wherever you go, there you are?” If I am only moving "away from" I'll be recreating the same problems in the new place. What I am goes with me. New faces and situations can just become new variations on an old mindset. If I’m giving my power away by blaming others or telling old stories of defeat and anger, I will find a way to recreate those negatives in a new location. If I’m always creating drama and chaos, I will do the same no matter where I move. Moving is not going to change my life—it is changing my thoughts and beliefs about what life can or cannot be that makes the real difference. 

There is a story told of a wise man sitting upon a hill next to a busy road. A traveler came by and asked the wise man about the people in the next town--what were they like? Was it a good place to live? The wise man asked the traveler, “What were the people like in the town you left?” "Oh, they were quarrelsome and difficult, hard to get along with, and not worth my time." The wise man answered, "They are the same in the town that you are going to." Later in the day another traveler stopped to talk to the wise man and asked him about the people in the next town. "What kind of people will I find there?" he asked. The wise man asked him, "What kind of people did you find in the town you came from?" "Oh, they were friendly and helpful. Everyone was so wonderful. Such beautiful people and I was sad to leave them behind." The wise man then said, "You will find the same kind of people in the town you are going to." 

That said, moving can be a powerful catalyst for breaking old thought patterns and negative habits—if you are already committed to doing your inner work right now, right where you are. Your commitment to the life you already have will help you make the right move at the right time for the right reasons. Here or there, your inner work, your choices, your thoughts, will create a life you love or a life that reflects your negativity. 

I moved to Nashville in 1993 to fulfill my songwriting dreams. It was country music boomtown at the time, with Garth Brooks at the top of the charts and an amazing community of like-minded dreamers who had moved from all parts of the country to pursue the same dream. Ninety-five percent of the people who come to town for the music leave in two years. They come excited to conquer the music industry, and leave after discovering that the music machine rolled over them. Nashville can be a tough town, and dreams can sour. Those who stay and become ten to fifteen year “overnight successes” usually find that it is the community that keeps them in town, not the career. 

I wouldn’t trade anything for the experiences I’ve had in Nashville and the music I made. But the elusive songwriting deal never manifested, and other hopes and dreams faded in the reality of making ends meet. There are signs that the Internet infrastructure is finally beginning to help artists find markets and support themselves with their creative work. But most of my songs are still sitting on the shelf, and even my book career has been a roller coaster ride instead of the steady climb I had hoped. I still hope. I’m working to make my creative dreams a reality and to live a fulfilling life using my best gifts and talents. And I adore the songs I wrote with incredible co-writers. I am thankful for the wonderful people I’ve met, and friends who have stayed and friends who moved away. I am glad I moved to Nashville when I did so I could experience that magic time. It was like falling in love. It was also, at times, like being in a bad relationship. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I found a community of like-minded people when I moved to Nashville, but as the years went by the community changed and so did I. I have enjoyed lasting friendships, but I have also seen a lot of people come and go. The music industry not only went into a bust cycle (it's always been boom and bust) but imploded, and most of the people I know, even ones who were getting deals in the early 90s and making hits, are struggling to survive. Many gifted and deserving people who are great performers and writers, people who should be on radio and TV, are relieved right now just to have a day job (if they have one). There's a standing joke in town: How do you get a songwriter off your porch? Pay him for the pizza. (I still remember one hit songwriter and producer telling the story of hearing his first song on the radio after a particularly dismal pizza delivery in the rain, with no tip from a very tiresome customer. He climbed into his truck, turned the radio on, heard his song being played for the first time, and laid his head down on the steering wheel and cried. He went on to a stellar career and his pizza delivery days were over. Love those Cinderella/triumph over the odds stories.).

I enjoy being part of a wonderful and diverse community here in Nashville. Some of my friends are songwriters, but many have little or nothing to do with the music business. My community is more varied now, a product of my years here and my involvement with activities and organizations and ongoing friendships. Though I was willing to move away (or get a day job, or do whatever Spirit might be guiding me to do) and open to making big changes in my life, I’m discovering that small incremental choices are leading me to the new life I crave. Little roots are being re-established in this town. If I’m supposed to leave Nashville, it’s not at this time.

Now my window of “not knowing” is beginning to close. I’m doing less anxiety reading and more focusing of my energy into creating the life I want to live. I’m currently in a “build it and they will come” mode as I embrace taking ideas out of airy nothingness and bringing them into manifest reality. An e-book, building my website and Internet presence, and settling into a new routine are all the focus of my days now.

I am choosing to stop looking for outside answers to my question of “What do I do now?” As all of my clients of almost 20 years have melted away due to the financial meltdown and changes in the publishing industry, I had been looking everywhere for new sources of revenue. Recently I realized that I was beginning to feel like a crazed gerbil trying to find its way out of a Byzantine maze. Let me tell you that panicked gerbil thinking will get you nowhere fast. When the old answers don’t work (and believe me, they don’t work any more at this moment in my life) it is time to approach things with a different mindset. 

I recently decided to spend some concentrated time in prayer, re-centering my energies, and getting quiet inside so I could hear the still small voice of God. Since what I had been doing was ineffective anyway (if they’re not hiring, they’re not hiring) I decided to look inward, concentrating on my inner light and on God as my Source. Knowing that all other doors closing could be the guidance I’ve been asking for, I took time to think about what I really want. While financial solutions are important (and essential) I could see that they might be found in doing what I love to do instead of forcing myself to fit into some preconceived notion of what I should do. I have given my best effort to finding conventional work and nothing has worked. Maybe those closed doors are a sign that I should follow my heart and trust the process, even if everything still feels amorphous and ambiguous. 

As I choose this path with heart, I realize I have everything to gain and nothing to lose in following my heart and doing what I love to do. So here I am again, writing my blog. I’m working on my first e-book and plan to get it out as soon as I learn how to do all the things you need to do to publish and prepare for market. “Build it and they will come.” I’m building. I have also been learning the ropes on social marketing. I’m on Facebook now, just beginning to build my public page. I’m not quite ready for Twitter, but as I build my infrastructure I’m sure I’ll eventually be tweeting with the best of them. I’m looking at ways to offer some of my best and most beautiful photos to the marketplace. I’m reading what others are saying about this brave new world of finding your tribe on the Internet. I’m learning new skills, opening my mind to new ideas, meeting new people. 

As well as doing an intense amount of work, I’m also disciplining myself to take time out and to give myself some breathing space for creative renewal. Taking long walks after hours at the computer has yielded fresh ideas and larger perspectives. Being with friends has become an essential, not an option. I may not know how this will unfold, but I’m building a creative space and believing that my tribe will find me. 

Instead of moving somewhere else, I reinventing my life right where I live, here and now. Instead of looking for the permission of others, I’m giving myself permission. And instead of expecting instant answers, I’m taking this one small step at a time, believing that I am guided as one thing leads to another. I’m asking myself “How can I contribute to the greater good? How can I create value? How can I use my best gifts and talents to create something heartfelt and authentic that will encourage others and remind them of the good, the true, and the beautiful?” 

I’m listening and present in the Presence, asking for God’s help and guidance. When you don’t know which way to go, go within. You’ll find solutions, help, and unexpected resources appearing in your life. And maybe, just maybe, some of the answers will find you, drawn by the law of attraction and your willingness to believe in and invest in your best dreams. 


People aren’t reading books so much. They text and Twitter and Google a lot—anxiety reading—but they’re too jumpy for books.
George Dawes Green (novelist quoted in Publishers Weekly interview 7/13/09)

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Buckminster Fuller

The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Peter Drucker

Within me is the unborn possibility of limitless living; mine is the privilege of giving birth to it.
Eric Butterworth

Sooner or later, you must put God first in your life, that is to say, your own true spiritual development must become the only thing that really matters. You will find that you will do a great deal less running about after things that do not matter, when once you do.
Emmet Fox

There is a state of awareness possible in the mind which rises above all confusion, apprehension, fear, or doubt, and, looking over the obstructions, can dissipate them by the divinity of its own God-like glance.
Ernest Holmes

When your inner spirit is in harmony with Nature, it can adapt readily to all events and possibilities.
Marcus Aurelius

True magic, divine magic, consists in using all one’s faculties, all one’s knowledge, to bring about the kingdom of God in oneself and in others.
Omraam Mickhael Aivanahov

With our inventive powers, we can be passionately for each other and for the whole living world around us.
Ben Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander

God does not ask anything else except that you let yourself go and let God be God in you.
Meister Eckhart

I have spent my time stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.

When we create from the unity of body, mind, and spirit, we are one with our muse, and our work is always original, always powerful.
Jeanne Carbonetti 

Find your own quiet centre of life and write from that to the world. 
Sarah Orne Jewett

Affirmative prayer

I love this beautiful affirmation by John Donne reminding us that God’s answers are not bound by times and seasons, but always fresh and available, always ripe and ready in God’s Perfect Time. 

All Times Are His Seasons

We ask our daily bread, and God never says, You should have come yesterday. He never says, You must come again tomorrow. But “today if you will hear His voice,” today He will hear you. If some king of the earth have so large an extent of dominion in north and south as that he hath winter and summer together in his dominions, so large an extent of east and west as that he hath day and night together in his dominions, much more hath God mercy and judgement together. He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light. He can bring thy summer out of winter though thou have no spring. Though in the ways of fortune, or misunderstanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damp and benumbed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon, to banish all shadows; as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries. All occasions invite His mercies, and all times are His seasons.
God made the sun and moon to distinguish seasons, and day and night; and we cannot have the fruits of earth but in their seasons. But God hath made no decrees to distinguish the seasons of His mercies. In Paradise the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in Heaven it is always autumn, His mercies are ever in their maturity.
— John Donne

Inspiring friends 

Right now I’m making new choices to pursue new opportunities and new ways of doing business. I just downloaded this e-book package http://artmoneyguide.com/ (Picasso version) and I’m gobbling the information up. I have been following Chris Guillebeau at http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/ for guidance and inspiration on building my Internet business. His free PDF 279 Days to Overnight Success http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/overnight-success/ has been a model for me. I found his site on Seth Godin's blog (courtesy of a tip from a fellow musician) and have been learning and linking ever since (see my May blog for more details).

I took my first trip to Santa Fe in early June. I met some wonderful people and saw some inspiring places. Look for more later as I share photos, encounters, and more fabulous folks with you. 

Check out this totally inspiring presentation: Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it -- and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. Watch his wonderful talk on music and passion on the TED website: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html
Or go to his website at http://benjaminzander.com/


  1. December 27, 2009 5:55 PM CST

    Candy, I want you to know....I grew when I read this and I am feeling peaceful, hopeful, secure and excited about living my life! Thank you for knowing just what I needed to read today.

    - Sharon Kasserman

The Exquisite Necessity

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anaïs Nin

The surfer riding the crest of the wave knows it. The doctor in surgery and the soldier in battle trust it. The mountain climber and Olympic athlete tap into it. The opera singer in a once-in-a-lifetime performance and the artist who rides the wings of inspiration feel it. It is the moment when something within, something we may not have even known existed, awakens in us. It is the hidden potential coming to the surface to meet the challenge, bringing all our scattered forces together into one harmonious point of focus. Instinct and intuition wed with experience to meet the exquisite necessity that demands our attention and calls us to awaken the latent powers within.

It is often the “impossible” challenge that brings us to this state of heightened awareness. A mountain must be moved by a faith that is the size of a mustard seed. It does not matter how you came to this place. It is a date with destiny, the reason you were born. If you don’t pass the test this time, it will come around again in another form; or you will spend the rest of your life running, hiding, and avoiding it. It is the place where you consistently feel your heart tempted to fail within; the thing you think you cannot ever do. And it is the place where your heart, in a split second, leaps to meet the challenge. It is the place where the energies of resistance intersect with a release into a more powerful and benign flow. The greatness hidden within overcomes your weakness, not by force, but through a surrender to a Power that is greater than the sum of all your fears and doubts, all the challenges and problems that life may throw your way. Necessity becomes the mother of your invention, calling forth that within you that knows what to do and how to do it. 

Athletes and artists hone their skills through practice, preparing for such a moment through years of study and growth. It takes years of discipline in meditation to learn the deep sense of stillness and awakened awareness that knows a higher truth. But awareness can also come upon you in an emergency or crisis, revealing that everything you have experienced up to now has been preparing you for this moment. And in this moment it is now no longer just you, the small self who whines and throws tantrums or whimpers and cowers and gives in to defeat, caving under the pressure and crawling away in shame. It is the higher Self in you, partnering with God, the Greater Integrity, to access powers you never knew existed. Yet when the moment of truth arrives, you realize this was what you were meant to be all along. It is an inner evolution coming to fruition in the next stage of your spiritual journey. It is your quantum leap into a greater reality.

I believe we are all in the midst of making this quantum leap. The problems we face may be of our own making, products of a vision too small and too limited for the larger lives we were meant to lead. We may have almost destroyed our own lives in the process, wasting the riches of an inheritance we never appreciated. We see this in the environmental crisis, economic chaos, and violence of our times. Now is the time for the greatness within to rise to meet the challenge. 

Know that today there is that within you that is like an athlete ready to run the race, a courageous one who is willing to rise to the occasion. It is not you alone against the world any longer, it is you and God together discovering a deeper harmony, a more resonant truth at the core of your being, taking all disharmonies and tuning them to a higher harmonic. 

Whatever challenges you face, whatever situation you are in, listen to that still small voice within, that sense of latent potential and possibility that is like a tiny flame in a dark cavern. That flame is so powerful it can light the darkness and show you the way out of your dilemma. Trust it. Believe in it. It is God within, the spark of creativity that has always been with you, even in the darkest times of your life. 

The dire necessity, the crisis, the challenge, is an exquisitely formed instrument of God’s love. It is your unique challenge, offering you a choice. Take the next step of faith. Put aside your doubts and fears. Trust that something within is ready to rise to any occasion. A greater consciousness is being born in you, and the exquisite necessity is the birth pang that heralds the arrival of a new and better life. You are greater than you yet know. It is your moment to discover that truth. 

Affirmative prayer
I live my life as a daring adventure. I follow my intuition and trust that God’s love leads me to a marvelous destiny. Like a toddler learning to walk, or a musician learning to play, I am willing to practice, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to celebrate my achievements. I forgive myself and forgive others, blessing all. We were all doing the best we could with what we knew at the time and now we are learning to know and do better. Love calls me and I must answer. In my willingness to risk and dare and dream, I heal not only myself, but the world. Thank you God that you are at the heart of the mystery I pursue. 

In order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.
David Ben-Gurion

Every real creation of art is independent, more powerful than the artist himself, and returns to the divine through its manifestation. It is one with man only in this, that it bears testimony to the mediation of the divine within him.
Ludwig von Beethoven

There is a soul force in the universe which, if we permit it, will flow through us and produce miraculous results.
Mahatma Gandhi

The whole thing boils down to giving ourselves in prayer a chance to realize that we have what we seek. We don’t have to rush after it. It is there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us.
Thomas Merton

Each time something difficult and challenging has happened to me it has marked the beginning of a new era in my life.
Kimberly Kirberger

The only way to be who you want to be is by being what you haven’t yet been.
Sally Edwards

I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.
Pablo Picasso

Much of your pain is self chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within heals your sick self.
Kahlil Gibran

The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure.
Rainer Maria Rilke

When danger approaches, sing to it.
Arab proverb

Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is dark.
Rabindranath Tagore

If not now, when?
Martin Buber