Old Wounds Can Eventually Heal

Volume 4, Issue 25. Originally published September 4, 2014

Young Bill on stage with his dad Ned and mom Sandy in wingsThe year was 1954. My parents, whom I called Pop and Sandy at that time (later Ned was renamed “The Chief” by a Native American horn player in his band and I then switched from Pop), took me out to dinner in Manhattan, which I loved. (We lived in Brooklyn.) Gallaghe’s Steakhouse or perhaps it was Joe Marsh’s Candlelight Clurb, which isn’t there anymore. I had a steak. We had a terrific time. I was in a warm glow by the end of dinner when they revealed to me their secret purpose for me that night.

Joel Grey’s “Star Time Kids” was shot at the CBS studio around the corner and I was to be on live TV that night, in fact, right after dinner.

I went from cloud 9 to hell in one second flat. I couldn’t explain why the idea was out of the question, I was too upset to think clearly.

They had always gotten what they wanted out of me in terms of onstage performances. They inculcated in me from my earliest memories that I had been born in a trunk and there was no question of me not getting up there and doing whatever the act was at the time. I don’t remember ever putting up any resistance to it until the night in question, since resistance was futile. Nevertheless, suddenly I was in a situation where for reasons I could not even articulate to myself, this trouper was going to let the public down. “The show must go on” (years later my father said this with a choke in his voice, the night he went to the club the day Sandy died) but in my case the show would not go on.

They tried to compromise with me, first saying, “Okay, just sit in the peanut gallery and you won’t even have to say anything,” but I would not hear of it. The best they could do was to get me to peek in at the studio, hoping that I would relent at the last minute and show what a trouper I really was. But one look at the blinding battery of klieg lights was it. I had my fill, and we went home in a sad cloud.

Sandy tried to make us all feel better. She explained what had happened, saying, “Billy is a trouper. But he is a perfectionist and wants to prepare fully to give his best performance every time. This time we forgot that and thought it would be easier on him to not have him know about it until the last minute. It was our fault.”

Ned agreed she was right but it never made me feel any better. All my life, whenever I was having a bad moment for any reason, this was one of the regretful memories that I would beat myself up with once again.

Separately I wondered from time to time how my life might have been totally different if I had gone the other way that night.

***

One night I was dreaming that Lalita and I were at an advertising/media industry conference somewhere, not in NY. I would be speaking that night. We were meeting people before the conference. Yana, my editor (who puts in all these commas), would be joining us but was late as the conference was about to begin. At the last second she came running faster than I have ever seen her move, down the long empty corridor with a red face and a big smile.

The conference started and a gent got up and gave a tepid 5-minute opening remark. Then the MC — of all people, the late Ben Wallach, who had been the Athletic/Social Activities Director at the Hotel Brickman — called me to go on next.

In the dream I suddenly realized we had forgotten to bring the slides. I didn’t even know what the conference was about.

In previous dreams of this kind there was a hideous moment and then I would wake up.

This time was different. I realized I had no idea what I would say, but something in me felt perfectly willing to go up there and see what would come out of me. I started for the stage.

And then I woke up.

When I told the story to Lalita she said, “You woke yourself just in time to not have to experience making a fool of yourself.”

But it wasn’t like that at all. I woke up feeling exhilarated. I didn’t know exactly why at first. I knew I was pleased with myself for the total acceptance of the challenge that traditionally had been my Waterloo: being unprepared for public performance. I knew that the way I react in dreams is exactly what I would do in the future. I felt liberated, released.

Then it hit me: this was the erasure of the Star Time experience. Closure of that karma. Full circle. After a lifetime of disappointment in myself for how I’d handled that moment, I had redeemed myself. I am a trouper.

So what’s the point of my sharing this story? What do you, the reader, get out of it?

We all have deep wounds. Some are papered over by repression and some may be with us all the time. Whatever they are, if we take them out and look at them from time to time, and make it an active intention all our lives to become that which we hold as our own ideal self in real everyday life, inevitably in time — sometimes decades as in this case — we get there.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers.

Originally posted 2014-09-04 12:05:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Role of Feelings in Decision Making

Originally posted July 14, 2015

Negative feelings not only bring us down, medical evidence shows they also weaken our immune system, making us more prone to disease, and they distract our cognitive concentration, thereby reducing our effectiveness.

Bad feelings can also serve a positive function — as an alarm system to quickly get us to pay attention to a problem. Ironically, if bad feelings continue unabated while we are grappling with a problem on a rational level, it will take longer to solve the problem because we are stuck in a cycle of negativity. Most of us have experienced this cycle.

Are you more driven by thoughts or feelings

Are we generally more driven by our feelings than by our thoughts?

Freud established that thoughts are more likely to be rationalized in support of feelings, rather than our being able to use our thoughts to control our feelings. And yet, how valuable it is to be able to do just that — to have the mental self-discipline to focus our thoughts effectively even when our feelings are in an uproar?

Feelings are urges that arise within us, within our minds and within our bodies. Feelings are experiences, states of consciousness resulting from our motivations, sentiments, preferences or desires. These terms all really mean the same thing: what we value, what we want, what we are trying to get, what we want to avoid.

Feelings are how we respond internally to outer and inner events, based on what we are trying to get and avoid, and how current events can help or threaten our desired outcomes.

We feel positive if current events appear to favor our targeted outcomes, and we feel negative if events seem to be heading away from what we want to have happen.

Positive feelings are valued universally. There’s no argument: we all like them, and would like to have more of them!

Generally speaking, feelings are also a manifestation of our motivations colliding with the external world. What would we feel if we had no motivations?

You can discover this by meditating. While there are many meditation techniques, all of them have a mind/gut mirror effect of showing us what our motivations really are, where they have gotten us, and why we have each of our experiences. Through practicing meditation we can achieve this objectivity, turning off certain motivations at least for the moment and seeing what that feels like. What visions of future possibilities arise now that X motivation is gone?

The perspective we gain through meditation can give us a unique vantage point on our feelings and our motivations. Meditation helps us consider deeply our own feelings and their consequences in the world. It also generates positive feelings, so it’s good for our overall health and well-being. Practicing meditation and becoming aware of the role our feelings and motivations play in our lives allows us to better understand the value of both in our decision making process.

My best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers .

Originally posted 2015-07-14 10:41:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Ten Minutes in a Life

Originally posted December 20, 2012
Volume 2, Issue 36

He looked up from the gas pump to where a moment before he had an intimation she would be, and high in the sky was the moon behind a pale shimmer of cloud, one day past full. Down and to the left was an American flag. Trees were all around. He suddenly realized the time was pretty good now. There was nothing to be concerned about that he could feel at the moment, no time pressure, everything was going fine. Then it came to him that he always assumed there was something wrong, some unrightness he would constantly have to steer against. He was thrilled at having uncovered a bad lens he could discard.

A minute later, starting up the car, the lyrics of a song on the radio triggered a vision.“The dearest thing in all the world is waiting somewhere for me” (“Waiting Somewhere For Me” by Rodgers and Hammerstein). He saw a scene of indescribable beauty, something between a fractal and a huge mural, a panorama of infinite detail and intense color, the parts in constant unfolding and rotational movement everywhere. He couldn’t hold it all — it was overwhelming, filled with light, luminous, numinous. The words “Oh my God” began in his mind but all wording was pressed out by the overwhelming emotional wave enveloping him in awe, love, victory, beauty. His feelings united with the scene so that he was the scene, the beauty, the happiness, the realization that not “he” — now “it” — was past the need for words forever, past the possibility of unhappiness forever.

He contemplated the vision as he drove to catch his train. Several minutes later on the cold train platform he watched himself hurriedly extract a mint, his body still assuming time pressure, always assuming the need to get done an important job that had to be done at top speed because suffering would be relieved for more people faster that way. He knew this assumption was also a bad lens to be removed. More good would be done without that lens, too. And besides, in his day job he was not relieving suffering directly, more like paying for the time spent in nonprofit work.

That was the ten minutes.

An hour and forty minutes later in Manhattan he wondered if the shock — that is, the heightened sensitivity — he was feeling would incapacitate him. Being in Manhattan with its concomitant information pressure could pull him into some ineffective state of consciousness if his skills were not all available. He did not worry yet as he was merely curious about it at this point. Next he automatically told the cab driver where to go before he could miss a beat. The rest of the morning unfolded that way, with actions being taken in natural confidence. Soon he stopped being concerned that he might be in a degraded effectiveness state.

What was it that he had seen? It couldn’t be the whole of what the consciousness of the universe sees, since that perspective would include what was going on inside each of the parts he had seen from the outside. He had been seeing some abstraction of the whole of what there is to be seen, but he had seen people striving, other life forms striving, the very cosmos striving, its movement the necessary means to some end. The dimensions of error/evil had been visible as wrong turns taken out of synch with the rest of the whole, there were great movements in history explained by the turnings of the wheels inside the driving bio-mental Platonic Forms gearbox whose meshing appeared to be a higher reality underlying the explicate order visible to human eyes.

Would science classify this as an hallucination? It was a vision, its complexity and the intelligence of its designs far beyond the negative connotations of the word “hallucination”. Also it was not seen with the external eyes, so if it were a hallucination, it would have to be classified as an interior one. Is that what science thinks a vision is? Or did I actually see something real?

Perhaps cutting-edge science would say that ideas long evolving in my head combined intuitively by themselves to present me with a visual representation. If so, this is a testament to the power of our subconscious minds, and to the function we call intuition, when for ten seconds we find ourselves in Flow state.

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers .

Originally posted 2012-12-20 13:48:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Hardest Game Worth Playing

Originally posted June 23, 2015

Happiness is the meaning of life

Staying happy in every moment is the hardest game worth playing. Maybe a million years from now, or even in a couple of hundred thousand years, it will not be so.

But we can’t wait.

We need to develop methods and tools to advance ourselves mentally and emotionally that far into the future, now. The actual survival of the human race may well be at stake, but more importantly, our own individual happiness — yours and mine, and that of the people we love and those around us — is at stake for sure.

Happiness cannot remain up the trail somewhere, an elusive thing we are working toward. That’s an outdated idea. It’s time for the new idea. Happiness now, in every moment. Now. And now. And now. Happiness all the time, internally controlled, internally generated, by an act of will. Infernally difficult but we cannot abandon this game, believing it’s just too difficult and out of our reach. Now is the time to face it — fight it — and win. And keep winning, because the game is not won once but continuously. That’s what makes it so hard.

As you go through your day, keep coming back to your birthright to be happy, right now, and use your focus, your will, and your creativity to bring about your happiness each moment. Let inner impulses float downstream if they are not conducive to your happiness in this moment. Allow such unhelpful thoughts and feelings to occur, and then watch them float away without holding onto them.

An impulse to be unhappy is one such feeling. The typical reaction is to get stuck in it. Instead, practice allowing that unhappy impulse to float away. Perhaps as it goes you might realize where it came from, or not. But you can choose not to listen to it, obey it, or be taken over by it. It was just a thought, you can let it go.

Take notes on stuff you let float away if you feel it is worth coming back to later, but let it go in the moment. This is remarkably conducive to Flow state. There is a perceptible drag on Flow state caused by looking backward at the supposed imperfections of what you did a moment ago. In martial arts, one is trained to not gloat or sulk over one’s own last (good or bad) move. It’s a good practice for all of us. Let go of everything downstream of this moment, now.

In some version of this universe, it’s natural to be happy doing whatever we are doing at the moment, or not doing anything but just being. By an act of will and focus we can indeed learn practices that allow us some degree of control over our mental and emotional state.*

Keep working at this most difficult and most vital game, become conscious of it, keep coming back to these practices.

Beyond our own individual lives, I feel we all have a duty to posterity to spread awareness of how consciousness works, and how to make it work better. We need to start using and teaching methods such as “float downstream” in the upbringing of our children, in school curricula at all levels, and in our workplaces. That’s our mission and this blog is one of our means to that end.

My best to all,

Bill

*Chemical imbalances at the root of e.g. clinical depression need to be treated properly, and we are not suggesting we can “think away” such imbalances.

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at MediaVillage.com. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-06-23 12:19:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Are you balancing activity and stillness?

Originally posted June 16, 2015

If we are always pushing toward our goals, we are inadvertently setting ourselves back from reaching them.

There is a stage in the creative process in which it is wise to turn away from the challenge and do other things, for it is during this turned-away phase that the Aha! moment comes.

not creating may be essential to creativity

Certain batteries get recharged when we take ourselves temporarily off the wheel that is always driving us. This can happen when we are entertained — on our screen devices, reading, watching stage or other performances, spectator sports, vacations, making love, being with family and/or friends.

The subtlest batteries, however, only get recharged when we are alone with ourselves. This can take the form of sitting meditation but it doesn’t have to. We can be alone in nature, alone at home, alone on an airplane, anywhere. As long as we are not working down the TO DO list, there is a greater chance that we will slip into the Observer state (the precursor to Flow state) effortlessly.

To help bring on Observer state — a mindset in which you are able to simultaneously observe and analyze your emotional reactions to situations somewhat impassively — this works for me:

  • Look more closely at the place from which thoughts/feelings arise.
  • Don’t add to what you observe inwardly/outwardly, i.e. stop interpreting everything.

If we spend too much time doing, our conscious mind will block the functioning of our subconscious mind, and we’ll interfere with the stream of consciousness. If we spend too much time not doing, we will under-actualize our own goals. The movement associated with creative energy is a good thing, but stillness in body and mind is also valuable.

Balancing movement and stillness is optimal for maximizing effectiveness toward all our goals in life for love, creativity, and ultimately spiritual fullness, intuitively knowing and feeling connected with all beings and all things.

Strive to achieve the right balance between times spent doing versus time spent not doing.

L’chaim! (Hebrew toast “to life”)

Best to all,

Bill

Follow my regular media blog contribution, In Terms of ROI at MediaVillage.com. Here is the link to my latest post.

Originally posted 2015-06-16 14:04:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Let’s work together to reunite America.

Originally posted July 7, 2015

Let’s agree that this is a mission worthy of our collective focus and best efforts.

There is rich value in our dynamic differences

Our individual and largescale best move would be to first acknowledge the feelings and disparity that exists on so many issues we are facing, and then seek new creative ways to formulate compromise concepts and action programs that can bring all of us together to effect authentic change.  If we just begin the dialogue together and quickly wind down the negativity, we can pull together toward creativity and compromise.

Creativity is one thing that has still been missing on the real issues at hand. Mostly we hear variations on ancient themes, not inspiring new ideas. Exactly the opposite of what is needed. Look at the world around us — it is full of amazing surprises in technology, lifestyles, and new ideas in every field except politics when it comes to some of the most serious societal issues that we face. The American people want creativity in public policy and in healing the serious societal riffs that still fester.

We all need to retrain ourselves to think, stripping away everything and starting from fresh sheets of paper or blank screens, reinventing anew. Let’s think the unthinkable. Pour out ideas without regard for taking credit, resolving to work together as one team, for the greater good. We have real challenges, and we must together devise the real new solutions that lie just beyond barriers of our own making. We are in need of leaders, those who will propose new, positive and healing solutions as we move forward.

There is rich value in our dynamic differences. Respect for those whose views or backgrounds differ from our own is the mother from which invention of new creative re-bonding ideas springs. Lack of such respect is an infertile ground for creativity and healing. If we open ourselves up and consider other’s perspectives, there can be real inspiration in our own creative ideas that might succeed in bringing us together. Let’s all share in the creative process and bubble up grassroots ideas for leaders to build upon.

In this spirit of America, let’s all step up to heal the rifts that divide us with ideas that can solve the challenges the human race has created for itself.

We invite you to embrace healing in your own life so that it may radiate out — as from pebbles rippling in a vast pond.

My Best to All!

Bill

Here is my latest post at my media blog, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers .

Originally posted 2015-07-07 11:52:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter