Part of the responsibility of being human is to examine the circumstances of our life. Our destiny is not easily revealed, because it is too hard to comprehend, too frightening. Thus the search for enlightenment proceeds, one step at a time, revealing things that are at times unpleasant, but must be unveiled in order for us to learn and grow. Adversity provides us with opportunities to learn some tough lessons that help us to improve our life situation and to move forward.
No matter how well we plan ahead, things will not always go as planned. There will always be unexpected obstacles and setbacks along our path that appear to completely derail our efforts. However, self-awareness can be a valuable tool for guidance. When we focus on what is happening right in this very moment we can actually do something. As things happen only in the current moment, we can apply the lessons we have learned in the past without dwelling in the blame and the pain. We can strive toward our goals (our dreams) without shackling ourselves with doubts of “what if”.
An old Chinese proverb states, “the gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” Each situation we master gives us the strength to face the next one. Even though life seems to be a continual struggle, if we take a moment, we can also remember the beautiful events. If we are able to keep our energy focused on the seed of benefit which may be found in every adversity, we will be able to appreciate the uniqueness of who we are.
* Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.
* When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it did not ring off the hook with calls from potential backers. After making a demonstration call, President Rutherford Hayes said, “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?”
* Wilma Rudolph was the 20th of 22 children. She was born prematurely and her survival was doubtful. When she was four years old, she contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever which left her with a paralyzed left leg. At age nine, she removed the metal leg brace she had been dependent on and began to walk without it. By 13, she had developed a rhythmic walk, which doctors said was a miracle. That same year she decided to become a runner. She entered a race and came in last. For the next few years every race she entered she came in last. Everyone told her to quit, but she kept on running. One day she actually won a race. And then another. From then on she won every race she entered. Eventually this little girl, who was told she would never walk again, went on to win three Olympic gold medals.
Our troubles don’t define us...how we handle them does.
Given the wide array of subject matter in Alfred’s paintings, it is interesting to listen to viewers’ comments and questions and equally interesting to listen to our responses. Like a dance, we flow between offering our opinions when the need arises to speak up and remaining silent when we recognize it is more productive to shut up. Either way we impact our collective destinies realizing what is said can do significant harm or positively change someone’s world.
Communication forms a daily part of our lives. Yet constantly talking is not necessarily communicating, especially when it involves interrupting or redirecting the conversation to one’s own concerns. Stephen Covey once said, “listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” Then when we do reply, we put your words in the context of adding value and purpose to the conversation. We march to the beat of our own music without steamrolling others who are doing the same. When we discover a personal truth—whether concerning an issue in science, history, spirituality or any other subject matter—we should maintain a conviction about it, all the while recognizing our own intellectual fallibility. The pursuit of knowledge requires an open-mindedness for the world is a university and everyone is a teacher. It is not important to be right or wrong; important is how we handle ourselves in either case.
Alfred A. Dolezal
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