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serenity's quest

… writings by William Anton Lee

[Serenity’s Quest]

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Seeking Serenity to accept
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which need changing, and
Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Seeing Horizons with eagerness
as these offer beautiful things to do,
Pathways through tougher times to
prepare us for crossing bridges, and
Moments of daily opportunity which
provide for optimizing choices.

…adaption of Serenity Prayer


by William Anton Lee
2016 September 26
Serenity’s Quest

…original Serenity Prayer by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr


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[The Budding of Mutualism]

… Preface

I don’t know if or how this bit I penned today translates for my friends and family. It’s my first attempt at explaining a core shift in my life philosophy which I think I better understand today then at any point before. It’s a quandary for me whether to record it in my Prose and Poetry Blog (Serenity’s Quest) or my Social and Governance blog (Front Porch Connection).


[The Budding of Mutualism]

There is a fundamental shift in thinking and belief needed to evolve humanity out of its ingrained tribalism. People don’t work for other people. People offer their “life, liberty, and happiness (property)” to assist/benefit the entrepreneur or those born accidentally into relative prosperity, whether the latter is real property, wealth, or health. The final product available from human synergy is a blended product which doesn’t exist without human contributions. We today, across the world, give far too much credit to the architect, engineer, contractor, and “owners” and not near enough to the hands-on builders. Our present human social order and associated psychology and economies are a shade off of slavery, as in long term indentured servitude. It’s no wonder with that foundation law makers and judges see the modern-day Lords as a special class of people owed deference. The on the ground facts are these protected classes of people, these cultural elites, can do nothing to natural conclusion on their own. Someday we’ll better understand the pure genius of the Enlightenment philosophers and seize our destiny as truly equals among equals. This isn’t a state driven enterprise, this is us as individuals having the courage to say barbarism of any degree must end to allow for human evolution to set the stage for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Mutualism requires no State; it does require that the least among us is a reasoned part of the whole and that contributions given their just appreciation and reward. Parity is measured in outcomes, and excused away by efforts and best intent.


[The Budding of Mutualism]
By William Anton Lee
2017, October 12

…Desiderata

 


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


by Max Ehrmann
1927


In fond memory of John McMaster.

 

 

[Humility of Purpose]

IMG_2686When humanity discovers it blinded the entire world whether in retribution or righteousness, questioning the many forms our Cultures have for an “eye for an eye” will be too late. I’m myself am tempted by provocation and killing to allow for me to anger; thus I beg Self to seek a better understanding because I know anger to cause self-inflicted blindness. It is that blindness perpetuates blindness and revelation after blindness is a sullied accomplishment, if that.

I seek to know why; and when revelation isn’t prompt to guide myself to patience, to inner peace while waiting. My wish is that in time experience and insight will teach me, teach the world that we are far better off embracing that which we do not know, fearing only death before clarity, and valuing life such that every human has the time to gain understanding rather than succumbing to anger whether that emotion comes from disappointment, delusion, or witnessing outright evil.

Peace and love are more than watch-words, these are core to revelation. Not always present and all too easy to forget in the face of Mother Nature’s random turns and Life’s beguiling days, these two siblings are Humanity’s salvation. It’s apparent that salvation isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be an individual’s earthly utopia; rather it seems to be the sum of the parts of a generational evolution. In this sense humility of purpose keeps us from confusing our efforts and outcomes with the finality of humanity. We are part of a greater whole.

We are all leaders who by our action either better the world or leave it as we found it. My challenge here is an Ask; please do not blind yourself or your fellows knowing that enlightenment and immortality for all is without a doubt a group effort. Go in peace to love the world starting with yourself. Whether by prayer, meditation, or sheer personal-will please put anger and mistrust away. Understand that the missteps call the worse of these sins if you will, are not yours, while overcoming these and their collective pain is yours to do, to collaborate on with fellows, and to not repeat.

My promise to family, friends, and humanity is that I will forever seek to be humble in purpose and grand in outcome. I hope for my challenges not to overwhelm me and that randomness be kind to me. Absent the latter, let there be enough strength in conviction to save me from blindness through my own cause.

[Humility of Purpose]
William Anton Lee
2017, October 2

[Ode to Arianna]

Chase destiny.
From the crucible comes authority.
Your voice sculpts passages.

No doubt.
There is purpose.
Your wounds are landmarks.

Bright are your words.
Secure in your arms we feel the grasp of your hands.
Lead the way.

Be heard.
Take all the time needed.
Your destiny, like your smile begs us to believe.

Take us with you.
We are your companions.
Walk, run, no matter, love and passion ensures our bond.


[Ode to Arianna]
William Anton Lee
2017, August 30


…inspired by and written about and for an amazing human being, Arianna Helena Faro

 

[The Art of Graciousness]

The ease of graciousness, like sustainable crops, grows best on carefully tended foundations.  So it is that we awaken looking to smile.  Daily efforts are measured by that last look into the bathroom mirror as we say goodnight.

It’s notable that morning’s ease is so often absent when the night’s pace and exhaustion skips last looks.  No, the ghosts are not repentant or necessarily quiet upon nightly reminders. They are though left to wonder how it is that each morning brings ease, if not a refreshing burst of innocence.

The journey, whether by day or night, is a burden; such is Mother Nature.  Memories’ constructed paintings!  Hearts’ tailored emotions!  Movements’ mastered shadows!  These shape art from burdens, but it’s graciousness that is transformative.

Graciousness makes life an art form worthy of and a muse to masterpieces.


[The Art of Graciousness]
William Anton Lee
2017, May 31


… inspired by Mr. Jeff Paul who retired this year from teaching and directing Musical Theater (and so much more) at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA).

OCSA is an awesome, 30-year, non-profit public charter school in Santa Ana, California, serving kids from 7th grade to 12th grade who are passionate about being educated in and living their dreams in the arts while garnering a premier academic education and pursuing their life passions. OCSA is the founding entity for the California School of the Arts movement.

…about Psychoanalyst, Pharisee, Judge, Jury, Executioner

Feedback Welcome


I’m a skeptic. I work to resist “trust me” pleas. I will do homework. I will write. I will speak. I will call. I will vote. I will honor constructive advocacy. I will remember we are all well-meaning neighbors. I will remember perception is reality. I acknowledge we may not agree. I will do my level best to influence perception when it is destined to bring harm, regardless even if unintended harm.

I don’t assume courage or consensus, ours or others. I strive to be nonviolent in heart, spirit, mind, and action. I don’t expect everyone to be similarly predisposed. I am, however, willing in the latter case to sacrifice, to face anger while working to further the establishment of common ground. Descent is never out of the realm of possibilities when being asked, coerced, or ordered to not care.

Finding me being psychoanalyst, Pharisee, judge, jury and/or executioner, please take me to task. It’s the height of bigotry to put systemic variables and ancestral trappings on individuals who seek common ground and value parity. Speak up. Teach. Appreciate. Love.

I don’t favor prejudice, stereotype, characterization, or correlation. These I distinguish from perception which is founded in very real life experiences which must differ from person to person and community to community. These are the product of accidents of birth and the very real human endeavor of enculturation; otherwise, survival.

Valuing parity, inequity is slavery which is indisputably harmful. Solutions to inequity are not forwarded by institutions of inequity. Bringing everyone to immediate parity by lifting the disadvantage while holding the balance steady is equity. Do no harm. Love. Harm begets harm. Perceptions are not addressable when faced or fraught with inequity, anger or hate. Deliberate and delicate advocacy advanced via peaceful means takes courage and often sacrifice. Certainly, smartly resist while gathering in those who may not have lived your life or survived other cultural realities.

Disenfranchisement as a collective hurdle has no scales. I do not favor one inequity over another. To lift all, we lift the one. To lift the one, we lift all. Faced with the many inequities dispatch many not seeking false solace that those in front of you are entitled to all attention. Better yet understand that what is in front of you is rarely the only, the isolated. Dispatch the many while you take ownership of that which you face or find someone equally committed to stand in your stead while you seek and then take ownership of the balance.

Be a skeptic. Resist “trust me” pleas. Do homework. Write. Speak. Call. Vote. Advocate. Change perceptions which belie reality having challenged your own reality. After all of this, please understand that we may not agree at moments in time because I likely move at a different pace; having nothing to do with intent, bias or malice.


William Anton Lee
…about Psychoanalyst, Pharisee, Judge, Jury, Executioner
2017, January 17

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[brick staircases, open spaces & old walls]

brick staircase.jpgSitting to my side are bricks that are being laid in a staircase. A beautiful collection of colors and compositions. Laying each of these one at a time because I have only two hands. Laying each as these are randomly presented.

I will not sift through bricks looking for common color or composition because the final staircase will be a mosaic. When the bricks are no longer random in color and composition I will stop laying bricks until I find a supplier that better understands that I do not value patchwork quilts.

This is a mosaic.

I do not seek to reconstruct exclusively with buckets of old bricks resulting in tapestries of common clay or stones. I’m committed to the beauty and strength of inclusiveness and diversity. This is restorative. This is progressive. This is living art.

Certainly, old bricks and new bricks will be placed side by side without regard to age, although there are more old bricks than new. It matters not which walls the used bricks came from. It only matters that these have the strength and shape fitting of a newly constructed staircase and that all are equally accessible to my hands.

Assembling with new bricks is usually easier. Easy is not on the table. Searching for, and giving priority to, used bricks, including breaking these out of old walls long known to be barriers and not pathways which are infinitely more restorative. While the latter requires diligence it also requires patience as most old walls are of common color and composition.

Wishing staircases be constructed overnight belies the process of discovery, careful disassembly, and conscious redistribution. Recall we are not just building staircases, we are tearing down old walls with an eye to opening spaces once guarding exclusive gardens and resting places. I’m not alone. There are more than my two hands. There is more than one staircase.

Help me discover. Help me disassemble barriers . Help me redistribute old bricks of common color and composition. Encourage my dreams of mosaics. If not, remain respectively silent while believers build beautiful brick staircases. Remain silent as you walk into open spaces and remember the old walls that once hid these spaces. Grieve for yourself because what was once is no more and yet you still find comfort in searching for weathered remnants of old walls.


[brick staircases, open spaces and old walls]
by William Anton Lee
January 27, 2017

merry-christmas-2016

Getting Horace…d


horaceSo this stately gentleman visited me in my sleep last night. I coined the name Crusty for my visitor; otherwise he is Horace. He left me with a few words. Ha! There was this reference to him needing to be brief or struggling to be brief; and then this … my memory of his sage counsel. Not very brief!

Crusty prefaced his wonderfully poignant speech with a reminder, ” many past words will be revived, which now have fallen off; and that many [which are now] in esteem shall fall off. Came across like personal advice for me to not take my writings or myself too seriously.  He said, I reminded him a bit of himself in his day. The man did look a bit crusty, but in a good way. I laughed when he reminisced, “my observations were for my own improvement; and my words come directly from writings which were just an amusing pastime.”  Hey! That’s me, I shouted!  So then you write in a personal journal too, I asked?  No response from Crusty. Darn dream state! The kids must have thought I was losing it my sleep again. In any case, I must have had a lot on my mind. The old man sure covered a lot of ground.  Reminded me of my Dad in his last days making sure he had dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s, just in case he missed passing on essential life tips to me in my adolescence.

Speaking about brevity, it’s about time to get on with Crusty’s counsel, before I loose you. I recall his words were something like this:

“As we speak, cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believe as little as possible in the morrow (must be a really old guy to use that word). Seize the day! Dare to be wise; begin! Begin, be bold and venture to be wise. Those who begin have 1/2 done.  One must avoid that wicked temptress, Laziness. Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.

Dare to be wise; begin!

When life’s path is steep keep your mind even. One must rule their mind or it will rule them. Hold your temper. Anger is a brief madness. Madness is not good even in brevity.  Govern your mind [temper], for unless it obeys Anger’s commands. Subdue your passion or It will subdue you.  In counterbalance, it’s lovely to be silly at the right moment. Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans.”

As dreams go, this one was every bit classically disjointed. I have this picture of the old guy jumping in and out of commercials or performances. At one point I swear he was standing on a park bench doing a poetry reading.

“Then come at once and pause for breath
in chasing wealth. Remembering death
and death’s dark fires, mix, while you may,
method and madness, work and play.
Folly is sweet, well-timed.”

What!?!  “Enjoy … Enjoy”, he said.  “Mingle a dash of folly with your wisdom. Chase wisdom down. Own it. But, be wise in doing so. Having wisdom is not wise when it is derived from books alone.  Live under the open sky, and dangerously.  Think to yourself that every day is your last; the hour to which you do not look forward will come as a welcome surprise.”  Then he’s back into verse again …

“Happy the man, and happy he alone,
he who can call today his own:
he who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

Be fair or foul, or rain or shine
the joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself, upon the past has power,
but what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.”

Truthfully, I struggle with prose and poetry.  I write what streams and then I ask myself years later, “What was I thinking?”  Help me her Sage.  What does it all mean?  He begins the rest of his Speech. “Leave off asking what tomorrow will bring, and whatever days’ fortune will give, count them as profit.  [I’m thinking he meant to say a bonus.]

Ok, so I’m not supposed to be focused on tomorrow’s fortunes; and for that matter, not on what I’m not getting done today to better that fortune.  Wow, that’s a lot of double negatives!

OK … Why?

Is this that ‘live for today’ mantra that contemporary Psychologists proffer?  Pretty close, if I understood what Crusty followed with. “Fortune makes a fool of those she favors too much. He who is greedy is always in want.  As such, he will always be a slave who does not know how to live upon a little.  Clogged with yesterday’s excess, the body drags the mind down with it. [It’s] not him with great possessions should you in truth call blest; with better right does he claim the name of happy man who realizes how to make use of the gods’ gifts wisely, is skilled to meet harsh poverty and endure, as one who dreads dishonor far more than death; a man like that for friends beloved, or for his country fears not to perish.”  Don’t get swayed my modern-day profiteers who argue their Twitter posts and fame make them rich and good role models.  “Faults are soon copied,” he said.  Fame and fortune are not measures of a successful life. End of day critiques are folly and not the types of folly Crusty meant when allowing for it to balance us.

By now I’m guessing my surprise visitor spent considerable time in Preacher School (which actually turned out to be wrong).  In any case, he goes on to say, “He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic (wow, another old old word reference) who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.  Keep the faith!  He who feared that he would not succeed sat still.  It is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Live bravely and present a brave front to adversity.  Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.  [It’s] the lofty pine [which] is oftenest shaken by the winds; high towers fall with a heavier crash; and the lightning strikes the highest mountain.” Oh my!  And,  I thought Fear of Success was some contemporary’s genius idea.

My takeaway.

Be not afraid!

Have courage!

Have faith in your humanness!

Too simple? Too modern?

Crusty does speak in very old language sets and references; almost parable like. More of his counsel … “Treacherous ashes hide the fires through which you stride.  If any man cannot feel the power of the gods when he looks upon the stars, then I doubt whether he is capable of any feeling at all.  If you wish me to weep, you yourself must first feel grief too. How slight and insignificant is the thing which casts down or restores a mind greedy for praise.  You must often make erasures if you mean to [produce] what is worthy of being [used] a second time; and don’t labor for the admiration of the crowd, but be content with a few … He who combines the useful and the pleasing wins out by both instructing and delighting the [community]. The man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from his firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant’s threatening. Force without wisdom falls of its own weight.”

From humility to shared pain to letting go to avoidance of force back to that word wisdom again! Preach it! And, Crusty continues to deliver! “We are but dust and shadow. [Although] I shall not wholly die and a great part of me will escape the grave. [Be considerate and reasoned because] what you have not published, you can destroy. The word once sent forth can never be recalled. Humor is often stronger and more effective than sharpness in cutting knotty issues.  A cultivated wit, one that badgers less, can persuade all the more. Artful ridicule can address contentious issues more competently and vigorously than can severity alone.  Surely a Man may speak Truth with a smiling countenance.  [For] without love and laughter there is no joy; live amid love and laughter.” Ok, I’ve heard that last line before — Live, Laugh, and Love.  Imagine that the old guy is contemporary.  He was right up front. Stuff does come around full circle.  “Whatever advice you give, be brief.”  Heard that one recently too.  And then there is the modern-day version of this sage advice, “a shoe that is too large is apt to trip one, and when too small, to pinch the feet. So it is with those whose fortune does not suit them.” Is this not “Stay within your wheelhouse!”

Crusty finally said goodnight, but not before getting back up on that park bench reciting these two pieces. The first is quite dark in my view.  Do we really fight through our dark side this much to find wisdom and act on it?  And if not, if it is as simple as waking up in the morning and simply beginning, why do I struggle so much with this these days?  It was once my mainstay.

“Moreover, you can’t stand so much as an hour of your own company
or spend your leisure properly; you avoid yourself like a truant
or fugitive, hoping by drink or sleep to elude Angst.
But it’s no good, for that dark companion stays on your heels.”

“So, if you don’t summon a book and a light before dawn,
If you don’t set your mind on honest aims and pursuits,
On waking, you’ll be tortured by envy or lust.
Why so quick to remove a speck from your eye, when
If in your mind, you put off the cure till next year?
Who’s started has half finished: dare to be wise: begin!”

As I prefaced, so much for brevity. Old Crusty did leave a brief message as he check out.  I totally understand his perspective. “Now is the time to drink!”  Ok, I’m joking … just a bit. He did say this; but modern-day usage might imply a very different intention or use. I definitely like this new phase in my life. I do drink a good Scotch from time to time, but not exactly the kind to pound the bottle. So if it’s time to drink one and hit the sack, I’m all in. Thank you Horace! Time to rest and await the next visitor.


[Getting Horace’d]
By William A. Lee
2016, December 16


Do I dare observe that Horace was Twitter ready centuries ago?

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“What you have not published, you can destroy. The word once sent forth can never be recalled.” - Horace

serenity's quest

... writings by William Anton Lee

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