Category: Love

A gratitude for today, and this moment

A gratitude for today, and this moment

There’s a catch-all prayer in Judaism for gratitude. I’ll use my own transliteration here (that is, I’m going to write the Hebrew words using English letters in a rough pronunciation), but the prayer is called the shehechiyanu. The full prayer roughly translates to, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this day.” It goes like this:

Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, shehechiyanu v’kiyamanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh (hear it here).

It’s said a lot. The beginning of every holiday. When friends gather for the first time. When family gathers for the first time in a while. The first time you perform a commandment in the new year (such as giving to charity or going to synagogue). The first time eating a particular food in the new year.

It’s an eleven-word gratitude practice you can utilize any time you need one. Twenty words if you want to use the English translation I gave.

In case you want to go deeper:

• My Jewish Learning points out the shehechiyanu is a reminder to stay present.

• The Trust Center for Early Education at Temple Ohabei Shalom points out that the shehechiyanu is a good marker for observing otherwise overlooked events in our children’s lives; birthdays, sure, but also physical growth, science projects and recitals.

• Two rabbis at a Texas synagogue give a sermon on shehechiyanu, including the importance of being alive in regard to prayer.

• Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff takes a deep dive on when the oral tradition tells us to recite shehechiyanu — and when not to. Note: Bracha means “prayer” (some translate it as “blessing,” but the context is “a blessing over a meal,” not “the post-op nurse was a blessing”).

• Here’s more deep discussion from Rabbi Avi Zakutinsky.

Incidentally, the way rabbis Kaganoff and Zakutinsky discuss the question of when to say shehechiyanu — with reference to various texts, many of them conflicting — is how Jews discuss matters of faith throughout history. It can be very interesting. One example is the argument several rabbis have in regards to when you can say evening prayers. Some say they should be said after sundown but before midnight. Others say evening prayers can be said after midnight but not after first light. Still others argue that the prayers may be said at any time before someone goes to bed, even if it is before sundown or after first light.

Legacy: Changing your stars, Kobe Bryant and your direction in this life

Legacy: Changing your stars, Kobe Bryant and your direction in this life

Legacy is one of my personal pivotal needs (PPNs). This is something I picked up in the Master Key Experience. There are seven, and two stand out for each of us. The others naturally follow, most of the time, but when our actions align with our two primary PPNs, we feel happiest and most fulfilled.

The other six are spiritual growth, autonomy, liberty, helping others, true health and recognition for creative expression.

For what it’s worth, helping others is my second.

Abundance and PPNs »


Since the birth of our (first) child, I’ve been thinking more and more about the legacy I want to leave. She — Marlena — is certainly part of that legacy; hopefully I can instill in her some sense of wanting to change the world for the better, and give her the tools to start on that journey. But also I want to leave the world a little better than I found it.

A legacy is anything handed down from the past. It could be money or property, or historical lessons, for instance. We get the word in this form in the mid-15th century; before that it referred to a group of people sent on a mission. Maybe those aren’t that different.

When Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26., I immediately started thinking about legacy, particularly in our current climate of what some call “cancel culture.”

Bryant, of course, is best known as a star for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. He played 20 seasons, with two of his final three severely shortened thanks to knee injuries. Over that time, he averaged 25 points per game and helped the Lakers win five championships.

He famously feuded with Shaquille O’Neal, whom the Lakers eventually traded, and, at one point, found himself embroiled in a sexual assault allegation in Colorado. That charge was dropped and a civil settlement reached with the accuser. That accusation led him to lose several endorsement deals.

Today, the Shaq feud would have branded Bryant a locker room problem and the sexual assault allegation would have forced the league and the team to consider suspending or releasing him, despite the charges being dropped. Instead, he went on to continue being a star, a father to four daughters (the youngest of whom is under a year old as of this writing and the eldest of whom was headed toward a pro basketball career before she perished in the helicopter crash with her dad), an author and a businessman. Oh yeah, and an Oscar winner, too.

He could have been the guy who threw a potentially great career away, but he left a different legacy. His life is a good reminder that we are not defined by only our past actions. We can change course. It reminds me the film A Knight’s Tale, in which a boy who grew up in poverty goes on to “change his stars,” becoming a knight first in action, then in name.

Let’s talk legacy, then.

What would you like yours to be? What do you need to make that happen? What do you need to get rid of?

You may well be aware of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the bottom of the pyramid you’ll find the things people need — food, air, clean water — and at the top, you’ll find self-actualization: stuff like spiritual fulfillment and legacy and all the things that make us feel good about being us.

You probably aren’t going to try to defeat malaria, or get malaria a bunch of times trying to bring clean water to the Ubuntu pygmy people of the Congo.

But you are going to die someday. So far, being human has a 100 percent mortality rate. How will you be remembered? That’s what legacy is. If “husband” and “father” aren’t on the list of how I’m remembered, I’ll have missed some opportunities. But if I’m honest, there are a few other things I want on that list. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow, though, so it’s time to get crackin’. You, too, then. Onward.

Give a shit

Give a shit

“It’s so hard to get people to give a shit,” Whitney Cummings tells Bert Kreischer.

And she’s talking about everything — #MeToo, truth, your friends.

Cummings had just come off a social media blackmail incident. She took a selfie in the shower, put it on Instagram and Twitter, and then realized her nipples were showing. She took it down, but not before someone downloaded the image and began contacting her, asking for money in exchange for not posting the photo.

She took charge, posted the image, and some of her friends in the comedy world added to the thread with some of their own embarrassing pics.

They gave a shit about her, and proved it publicly, sometimes in a funny way that most of us in the “normal” work world never would have done.

The more I think about it, this is the essence of what I want Better Humanhood to be, in three words.

Give a shit.

Why? Because it’s important. We post belittling memes on Facebook. We yell at strangers on Twitter. We find something we don’t like on page 147 of a new book and we declare everything in that author’s collected works worthless. We taunt people for not knowing the answer to every conceivable question, and we refuse to allow that people grow smarter as they age.

Yet when we sit down and speak to people in real terms, without hypotheticals and without making up some mysterious “other,” we can disagree civilly and maybe even learn from each other.

The people we are when we’re having a sandwich and a beer together, uninhibited by the expectations of people in our in-group or the need to virtue signal (that is, declare a view popular among people you wish to impress, totally devoid of nuance)? Those are the people we should be all the time.

If Red Sox and Yankees fans can sit together in the stands, eat hot dogs and enjoy the game — meanwhile hating with every fiber of their being the other’s favorite uniform — surely we can disagree on the best way to move our world forward without throwing bricks at each other.

If we can’t give a shit about each other, why even be here? Be better.

Lessons from Everlast and Joe Rogan, with some Teddy Roosevelt tossed in

Lessons from Everlast and Joe Rogan, with some Teddy Roosevelt tossed in

Two drunk/stoned friends after a podcast. @ogeverlast

A post shared by Joe Rogan (@joerogan) on

Everlast was back on Joe Rogan’s podcast recently. It was another one of those podcasts that I expected to enjoy but instead learned a lot (see my notes from Bert Kreischer talking to Robert Kelly).

Everlast is a musician and rapper; if you’re my age, you know him from House of Pain. Need a reminder? Have an earworm. He’s been dead on the operating table twice. He has an artificial heart valve. He has a daughter with cystic fibrosis. He recently watched his mother slide downhill with Alzheimer’s and then pass away.

Fame doesn’t make you immune to the problems of the rest of us, is what I’m saying.

The followng video appears during the podcast. It’s a better 2-minute clip to start things. The full podcast is at the bottom of the post.

There’s some drunk babble. It kind of runs off the rails at the end. But there’s a lot in here. You don’t need to listen, but if these snippets move you, maybe at least hit play on that video at the bottom and give them a play.

• Be open to learning something new
• Culture is like an operating system; we gain perspective by loading new operating systems (visiting different cultures)
• Half-truths are turning people against each other
• Americans right now are part of the biggest reality TV show ever
• If you want to be a leader, you must let go of ego
• Sometimes you have to call out the bullshit
• It’s easy to pick a team and then fight for it. It’s more difficult — but more important — to find common ground
• Think for yourself
• Take a step back
• Be compassionate. Sometimes people need to feel whatever it is they’re feeling
• There are injustices in the world
• Anger doesn’t serve you
• Sometimes there’s a glitch in the matrix and you just have to deal with it
• Your life is normal
• Some people fight battles you’ll never see
• “Compassion is the thief of joy” —Theodore Roosevelt
• Get joy out of what you do
• Show gratitude to those who helped you become who you are
• Invite inspiration in
• We need community
• Be happy when others are successful
• Find people to push you to be better
• Respect those who paved the path for you to be able to do what you do
• Don’t become old and bitter
• Let people enjoy what they enjoy
• Let art evolve
• The way we’ve always done things is not a good reason to keep doing them that way
• Whatever you do, do it your way
• Get out of your own way
• Manage your attention the way you have to manage oxygen on a spaceship
• If it’s not relevant to your life, it’s taking up too much room
• Don’t focus on things that rob you of energy and time

Here’s the full podcast:

Reinventing the pizza, not the pizza box: Discourse in the wake of the Scalise shooting

Reinventing the pizza, not the pizza box: Discourse in the wake of the Scalise shooting

Hop on in here around 55 minutes and give it four minutes or so. Ryan Singer and Johnny Z are discussing how we deal with each other, and right before the 58 minute mark, Singer comes up with this analogy:

“It doesn’t matter if the pizza box changes, it’s the pizza.”

The pizza box, he says, is technology and society and who is president at any given time and what sorts of structures we live in, but we’re the pizza.

It doesn’t matter how fancy the box is, if the pizza doesn’t change, it’s still the same old pizza.

Singer’s point here is that you can dress us up any way you want. You can make us high tech, you can let us read minds, you can make us invisible with mirrored clothing. Unless the change happens inside, we’re still the same ol’ same ol’.

The country saying for this is lipstick on a pig. You can dress it up all you want, it’s still a pig.

If you’re an asshole, you can put on a shirt that says “peace, love and tie dye” and go to yoga class and say “namaste,” but you’re still an asshole.

It doesn’t matter what’s going on on the outside.

Last Tuesday, June 13, was a quiet night at work. It might have been the quietest night of the Trump administration. The Calder Cup final wrapped up (that’s the AHL championship — minor league hockey), but there was little else of note in any of our markets.

The next morning, we woke up to news that Rep. Steve Scalise and four others had been shot while practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game. Despite once being tied to White Supremacist David Duke — charges stemming from when Scalise thought he was attending a campaign rally that turned a little more sinister — he is generally well-liked by his colleagues in the House, whatever their party affiliation.

Something feels different about this than when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in early 2011.

In the Giffords shooting, the gunman had shown anti-government leanings, posting about mind control and that kind of things. He was out to get someone in the federal government and an opportunity presented itself with the Giffords rally.

In the Scalise shooting, someone who was politically active in a traditional sense — the gunman had volunteered on the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Sanders didn’t equivocate on his views here) and had left home to be closer to Washington, where he apparently thought he could be more useful as an activist — went looking for Republicans to shoot.

In the Giffords case, the shooter was paranoid and looking for a way out. In the Scalise case, the shooter had tried to take a traditional route and given up.

The problem with dialogue in this country for the most part is we’re no longer listening to each other. We’re waiting for the other person to stop speaking so that we can start.

I’m generalizing, of course. There’s good discussion and reasonable debate happening every day in every city.

It’s just rarely on display in public. And never at the federal level.

Reaction since the Scalise shooting has been a little different. Apart from the partisan wrangling over guns — some of course calling for tighter gun control and others saying we should allow Congress to carry weapons — there have been calls for partisan unity that have been muted, where normally these are empty and grandstanded.

“We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish,” Speaker Paul Ryan said. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, warned about a “deterioration in the manner we talk to each other.”

Even President Donald Trump, not exactly known for muted responses and calm, non-partisan rhetoric, had only this to say:

This is a good time for a period of reflection for all of us. The seasons are changing. If you’re reading this the day it publishes, the solstice is tonight just after midnight Eastern.

Take a couple of days and decide if you’re going to spend the rest of your life speaking at — or worse, shouting over — people you disagree with, rather than actually listening to what they’re saying and perhaps even taking it to heart, and letting it change your mind if it strikes that chord in you.

It’s certainly time for our national pizza to evolve. Is it time for your pizza to change, too?

Some related stuff you might like:
Civility in disagreement
I was on Me & Paranormal You talking Freemasonry

Stand up for each other, eh?

Stand up for each other, eh?

Sometimes it’s hard to root for people. We lie, steal, cheat and, when possible, we take take take take take.

But remember, we’re people, and no other species is going to help us. Your dog might love you, but if she’s starving and I’m dead, she’ll just go ahead and eat me. Monkeys will throw poop at you and laugh. Tigers will eat you. Bears will steal your peanut butter and have your cat for dessert.

Agreed. You know, go ahead and love animals — and pizza and ice cream and craft beer — all you want, but remember to take some time to stand up for each other.


Performing life as an act of love

Performing life as an act of love

This guy right here is a mixed martial arts fighter named Justin Wren.

This is also him.

Filming with Beyond Creative in Missouri today for a national Anti-bullying campaign in schools 🙂

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

And if you need a size comparison, he’s the dude in jeans here, picking up that other giant fighter.

He’s 28 years old, and is now fighting professionally for the first time in five years. That time off? It wasn’t an injury. It wasn’t a suspension. It was a time of building a life of love.

Let’s look at more pictures. Like one of him tickling pygmy children in the Congo.

It's pretty easy to be the tickle fight champion when it's 2-1 #FightForTheForgotten

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

Or showing the pygmy people photos of themselves for the first time.

Seeing pics of themselves for the FIRST time! #fightfortheforgotten

A photo posted by Justin "The Viking" Wren (@thebigpygmy) on

Or having his hair done.

That’s fun. Let’s see video of that.

Or as long as we’re sharing videos, how about the first time the people he’s helping saw a white guy?

Wren quit fighting through what probably could have been his strongest years — his mid-20s — to start a nonprofit to help the Mbuti Pygmy people get clean water. Fight for the Forgotten and its partner, Water4, dig wells to draw clean water for a people who are enslaved. Workers go to the fields for oppressors to earn two bananas a day to share among families of four — it’s just enough food to keep them healthy enough to work, and it keeps them coming back to work because they need the food.

These are people who are still using army ants to stitch wounds — they have the ants bite the wound, then break off the body, leaving the fangs in to act as staples.

Wren has suffered malaria, parasites and other tropical diseases. His organization employs 17 people full time, but has dismissed more than that to find the right people — people who can survive dense jungle for a month or two at a time, return to the U.S. for a couple of weeks to recover, then go back.

He’s back to fighting so that he can raise further awareness, and he’s a partner in a documentary on his journeys.

He was on Joe Rogan’s podcast this week (he’s been on before), and around the one hour, 20 minute mark, he renders Rogan pretty much speechless. It’s really amazing listening to Wren talk with such passion and humility, especially while Rogan explains to him that in a few generations, he’s going to enter tribal mythology. As a giant, white, hairy myth.

From Wren’s Kickstarter campaign.

If you’re looking for more love, you should also listen to Kevin Rose’s discussion with Scott Harrison of charity:water.

Now, the question I pose to you is: Could you love anything this much?