Friday, March 27, 2009

What good may come

I was listening the the classical music station today while driving home from work. I like classical music sometimes ... it seems to give space for me to drive, to experience the world around me, and to listen. Pop and rock tend to fill my brain so that I don't think - I only feel. Both have their time and place for me.
Anyways, during this particular segment of the program, they were interviewing a group that will be playing at Reed College Saturday night - I am sorry to have to miss it. They play a Spanish classical "Andalusian" style of music - The Oud, a violin, and a guitar - the group is call Al Andalus.

DATE & TIME: March 28th 2009 7:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. Portland, OR 97202, Reed College Events
TICKET HOTLINE: 1-800-838-3006
(A) $25.00 (B) $20.00 (C) Students $10.00 (ID). Tickets are also available at the door.

Tarik and Julia Banzi - the interview was with Julia Banzi. She was telling the story of how they were scheduled to play in Los Angeles and that when they arrived, the promoter told them that they had expected a quartet - not a duet. They needed to find 2 more participants to play a concert scheduled within the week. When asked if they viewed this as a dilemma, Julia responded "I thought what a great thing to happen - this will be wonderful for us!" The interviewer added, "it is great that you had such a positive attitude toward such a difficult situation and thought that something good would come of it." Julia responded ... "something good always does."

I cheered aloud in my car YES ... "something good always does." I have my challenges in life - they keep life interesting and vital. Sometimes I am tired, and choose to close my eyes and ears. Sometimes I choose to delay or act lazy. I don't have to. I am recognizing more that it is my openness to accept what is and to listen and respond with love and empathy that allows me to see. And the good comes - "it always does."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life as I see it

When it is all said and done, we do choose our life. We choose how we view every situation; how we hear every statement; how we read every sentence ... we choose to be accepting or rejecting.
I was thinking back today about something I didn't know at the time ... and learned much later in life. Straight out of High School, I applied to Stanford University. I never heard whether I had been accepted or not. I also applied to Columbia - got a partial Scholarship to play football. Was accepted to Dartmouth, and Cornell. I knew all of that, though. I learned about a year ago that I had been accepted to Stanford ... 27 years after the fact. So I started thinking about that ... How fun Stanford wold have been. I wondered what my life would have been like. Would I have gone on to be a Doctor? Would I have met the guys who started Google? Would I be a Google-millionaire? So many possibilities. And then, I smiled to myself, knowing that the fiction that was running through my mind was just that ... Fiction.
It is the same thing I find myself doing at other times about other things ... what is she or he thinking? What are their motivations, their needs, their wants, their agenda? The answers may be insightful, based upon observation, and may be accurate - but they are also compiled through the lens of my personal experience, and therefore fiction.
I have lived my lives based upon this fiction ... I have had to in some degree. I have lived the experiences I have to become who I am now. And now, I am learning to delay my creative tendencies ... my fiction writing and living abilities.
Could it be that the world, the universe, is a perfect system? How would my life change if I accepted each moment as the best possible reality of that moment. The universe would not change ... my life would not necessarily change. My enjoyment of being has surely changed. It is an internal shift - a shift of perspective.
Maybe the world does become a better place when I accept it as such. Maybe my acceptance affects those around me in positive ways, and therefore creates a shift in my environment, which changes the world. I don't know that to be true ... I suspect it to be so. It is not really for me to decide or claim one way or the other. I do know that I love the life I have and the moments that I experience as I live it. I accept it for what it is and take my steps forward, or sideways, with confidence that my life is grand, and I am experiencing its' expansion through a renewed vision to see a larger and more intricate picture. Wow ... isn't that the point of living? Yes, it is. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Life comes at us ... does it?

We are not passive in our actions day to day. We take each step - involuntarily, we breathe each breath. Our heart beats. Ours is an active life - a purposeful life. To say that life comes at us is to relieve ourselves of our part in this journey.
In my life, I felt most hopeless when I had given the control of my life over to another or over to chance and entropy. In each instance, it was a choice I made ... to drive the boat or to allow the boat to drive itself. If no one is driving and the boat hits a rock, it is not the boat's fault.
My son is learning this lesson ... and I am as well. I have been inconsistently steering the boat - we have wrestled over directions - I have given him guidance based upon my experience and allowed him to clip the shore. The ship is still water tight, but it will take some extra effort, and some time specifically focused on repairs, to right the boat.
As we make those repairs, we learn what it takes to fix something that is damaged. Ours has not always been the closest of relationships. I am blessed to have this opportunity to make some repairs in that regard.
I believe that all that happens in this life serves the ultimate purpose for our being - our existence.
To digress a bit - imagine if we would take the active choice allegory and expand it ... what if we CHOSE our life prior to being born? The over-achievers would choose the more difficult path to test their ability to overcome. The under-achievers, or those who were just tired would choose the easier options - wealth, luxury, intelligence, self-assurance. In this regard, I take joy in my difficulties - I welcome the toil and see how it is making me stronger, bringing me closer to all that is God. I know that in all, and through all, I am growing, expanding, becoming.
So I take the next step, purposefully, turn the rudder, and move in the direction unknown - with an attitude of wonder and anticipation for what is sure to come so clearly into view.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making good

Some nights I feel more like writing, tonight I am writing anyways. A recurring theme with me is to assume the worst, and to be surprised when the best happens. I have been certain of the best at times, and then when everything unexpectedly changes, I recognize that as something less than the best ... I have decided to change that about myself. It is a common trait that runs in the family. It doesn't make it right, just common - and common is rarely best.
I had a meeting today with a very important customer - in many ways they define my role at Umpqua Bank and were a good portion of the impetus for Umpqua to enter into the environmental financing field; that and Obama's recurring call for energy independence, echoed by the Governor and the Mayor. My customer and the bank have an agreement of a shared focus on energy projects. They are graded by their ability to show that they are supporting those projects, we want to make loans that add to our bottom line, as well as that support our care for the local community and the environment ... recognizing me as a banker, the priorities are pretty obvious. Regardless, it is admirable to do well while going good - so we persist.
The meeting was to discuss the program's performance to date and to look for ways to improve. What I assumed would be a gripe session, clearly from the start was an acknowledgment of the difficulties of business in the current environment and a collaborative effort to agree on ways to improve where we can - in all ways a very productive meeting. Not the meeting I was expecting. I walked away shaking my head in semi-disbelief. I know that we are executing the deliverables well, charging to market with guns blazing, and seeing some small but measureably positive results. I did not think that they would view it the same way. Why is that? Why is it that my first inclination is to think that whatever is being done is not quite as good as what could be done?
I must remind myself to clean my mental lenses before entering into a meeting, a discussion, a new setting, and look with available faculties ... open ears to intently listen, open eyes to read body language and non-verbals, an open mind to consider what is being said and to creatively approach the project with a loving heart.
We make our own good - with whatever is at hand. Words to remember and consider often.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

50 years

My parents, Ben and JoAnne Weldon, celebrated their 50th anniversary last night.
We had a surprise party for them at my house. We invited 30 friends - I am sure more would have come if they had known of the celebration - we kept it at 30 du to room. Ben and Jo are that kind of people ... unassuming and very giving. I like to think it runs in the family.
As all of their friends arrived at the house, it was as if the party arrived with them ... everyone was talking - making new friends. I didn't know very many of these people. But they were all very warm and friendly. Mom and dad were running a bit late so I gave them a call to tell them to hurry up - the ruse was that we were having a party for my son Zach who just recently enlisted in the Air Force. So, when mom and dad drove into the driveway, they started to get the impression that maybe this was a bigger party than was originally represented. 20 cars in the driveway ... as they walked through the front door - strobe lights from the cameras ... but still there were only 4 people in the entryway - everyone else was very quiet in the kitchen / family room. My house does not have a sight line from the front door to the kitchen - so they had to walk through the foyer and into the family room - there they met all of their friends. It was a great thing to see.
For people who just don't celebrate personal stuff - birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc. - to give them a real celebration of 50 years of marriage. Truly a fabulous event.
As the evening wound down - I asked my dad the secret of lasting 50 years - he is not an old guy - not yet 70. They were married very young and only after a 6 month courtship - his answer was certain ... forgiveness, both outgoing and inbound. Life is perfect - we are not. We make our own difficulties and live with those memories. Being forgiven for our faults and selfish actions helps us to grow through them - personally and together.
As I look back, I see how my parents have changed - letting go of their desired outcomes and accepting what comes. They keep their opinions, but allow others theirs as well. They have forgiven others, found personal peace, and above all - continue to support their friends and family through whatever means are available to them.
50 years is a testament to a life and marriage built on learning and faith that all will come to good. May they live another life of happiness and peace, and demonstrating to others how to do the same.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A new place .... that feels like an old place ... but different

The past comes roaring to meet me ... often. Less these days, but still it comes like an old friend who has worn out their welcome. You know the guy - nice most of the time, funny, playful, but undependable and dishonest - full of potential but tragically flawed and self-destructive. That is my past. I've come to terms with it, grown through it, overcome my self-destructive self. The memories linger - they are tied to every heartbreaking, poorly ended, lacking closure relationship I have ever had. Many were brought upon by my self ... that same self-destructive self that told me that I would never be good enough, smart enough, able to finish, close, or deliver on promises made in earnest.
And so, out of habit, and an ended relationship - he comes unannounced through the front door, into my house ... and I have a choice to make. This time, I listened to each word, each claim, each fault explained ... and respectfully told him he was full of shit.
I had some help - some encouragement in the process. Someone turned on a light and I could see that this old place ... the grey and mud-colored carpet, wood walls, and box beams ... wasn't my old place. It just felt like it was. It was a bit dark for a time, but just needed the drapes to be opened, the windows un-shuttered, the cobwebs and dust brushed off.
Through that bit of effort - I find this is not such a bad place - it actually has a lot of character. My perspective has changed ... blink, breathe, relax ...Look with new eyes at this place and see the opportunities to grow, improve, renew.
I like this new place, it's not perfect, but it has potential.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've been in a relationship for the last month and have been feeling pretty good about it. She is a good person, present, thoughtful. We had a talk tonight about where we are in life. Both of us are in really good places, and different places. Mine is not to try to place her. Mine is to clearly understand my place. Tonight was the opportunity to think about that. We talked about where I am at.
How do we define our place in life - based upon the present or the past? It is probably best to use both as measure. In all things we describe ourselves both by way of similarity and of difference. In unfamiliar territory - often it is through what we are not that we closer to what we are. My life has not been easy, but then admittedly there are harder rows, less forgiving. I thank God for giving me the tools I have needed to temper - to become durable - to be able to bend without breaking.
Still, this is a new place for me - so I describe my new place via its opposite. Who have I been, how have I changed? Who am I now ... through the process of describing who I have been, I get closer to who I am, with honesty. In short, by airing my laundry, I am better able to see that what remains is clean, dry, wearable. Now, describe what it is about those vestiges that can be called good - that is where our actions come into the picture - not what I have done in the past, as it does not control my future - who I am today and those daily convictions and thoughts and actions that define in concrete terms who I really am. The definition of integrity is being consistent - judged by myself and my intentions to be aligned with my actions and values - alignment between values and actions.
At 45 years old, I am reminded the road to peace is through integrity.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A standard of happiness

I traveled down to Phoenix, AZ with my mother on Saturday to attend the funeral of a family friend today - Saturday. Paul Giele was just a price of a guy ... so much laughter, even at his funeral. As a testament to his character, after struggling with Parkinson's disease for 8-10 years, he donated his body to science. His remembrance service was held in the Sun City church that he attended with his wife. His son, a very close friend of mine from high school was there. Funny that after 15 years, we still acted as if we just lived down the street from each other. Old friendships never do die.
I thought about the lives that my friend and I have lived - we have both had our significant detours orbiting around the same things ... too much partying and too slow to grow up. It occurred to me that it is not the detour that is the tragic aspect of growing up - it is that we so often choose to try to make it back alone - being too embarrassed or ashamed to surround ourselves with those who love us - our friends and family. That solitary journey back is such a long one without the benefit of a compass, or the experience of those who have traveled a similar path and found their way through the church, a spiritual awakening of some sort, AA, or whatever.
The funeral and the get together afterward provided to me an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend, to offer him my home and support along his journey, and to remind myself that a solitary life lived is seldom looked back upon and considered worth the effort - it is only through our friends and our ability to love another that the detours become not wasted time, but scenic detours.