Posts in Personal Stories
Silence, Nature, and Truth

There is a quality that exists in the natural world that many of us seek. It is the way things happen, a divine order, which has a sense of “this is the way it should be”. We can call this quality “is ness”; as in “it just is”. Everything in nature, unlike what is created by humans, occurs without personal agenda. By being in this larger field, we reset our own basic truths; we realign beyond agenda and ego to a deeper place.

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The Unconscious Court

I have a Ph.D. in psychology, which apparently is useless when looking in a mirror. That I could not have seen my reason for leaving tennis is astounding to me. But then again, that is the nature of the unconscious. If I could see it, I suppose, it wouldn't be unconscious. Suddenly aware, I now feel blessed, grateful for the events that conspired to awaken me from my past. This awakening has reinvigorated a passion of something I once loved so much.

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Personal StoriesDavid Baum
Mount Monadnock

Southern New Hampshire boasts many natural treasures but one of the finest is Mount Monadnock. Between 1810 and 1820, local farmers, believing that wolves were living there, twice set fire to the mountain. And now today, we live in uncertain times with an acceleration of anger that is faster than any I have ever witnessed. The response must be to turn one’s back on rage, walk away, and creatively quiet the voices of fear to promote our better natures.

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Notes on India

Americans live in time, Indians live in space. Americans are always on the move, Indians are always at rest. Americans believe in freedom of speech; we strive for articulation. Indians believe in freedom of silence; they lapse into meditation. Americans believe in science. Indians believe in metaphysics.

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Travel, Personal StoriesDavid Baum
Weeds in the Garden

I have been thinking about weeding, and what it has taught me. It is this. If I am ambivalent on where to act, what I don’t want is what will frequently win out. Weeding the unnecessary, the unneeded or uninspiring from my life is one of the best ways for me to get what I do want. So much attention is spent these days in telling people to envision their goals. Without doubt that is critical. But the art of removal is also important.

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The Ice Storm

It has been a long winter in New Hampshire. The weather has been tough, the days cold, and even now, in mid-April, the mornings are 30 degrees. This makes for a weariness of spirit that is palpable on many people's faces. Last December we also had an ice storm, which left my town without power for ten days. During the darkest time of the year, that's ten days with no heat, electricity, hot water or light. It was a difficult struggle.

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Kilimanjaro

In January, I found myself in Tanzania. I was attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and seventh tallest in the world. It's summit is over 23,000 feet. Most climbing stories are filled with conquest, or at least heroic survival in the face of difficult odds. This is not one of them.

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To Act Without Knowing

We never know, do we, what a small and passionate act will set in motion? It may take years, decades in fact, to become reality. Great dreams can rarely be judged in the moment. The changes that occur, especially those of large injustice, often take significant time to be felt. Many times this change can happen without us even being aware. Yet this begs a very important question; are you willing to act, even if your work never knowingly makes a difference?

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Surprise and Delight

I am left today thinking about the importance in our lives of surprise and delight. How so much of it comes from a heartfelt showing of love, without a need for reciprocation or even ownership. In the end, even the smallest gesture can create an opening, a moment of grace. And after, everything is different.

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Rwanda and Forgiveness

Rwanda feels more committed to forgiveness than they are to justice. The modern root of forgiveness means, "to give up the power to punish". Conversely justice is often so much about revenge. The Latin root of the word is justia, meaning “righteousness” or “vindication through assigning punishment.” Say, “I want justice”. Notice the energy of your statement and where your attention goes. Now say, “I want forgiveness.” Do they feel different?

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Roots of Compassion

Once I know someone’s story I usually either deeply respect or even love them. Who we are is largely created from where we have been. A woman who grates another because she doesn't follow his logical thinking is seen differently when she confides she has a brain injury. An elderly man who appears cold reveals he lost three lovers to cancer in six years, and breaks down sobbing over the injustice of life...

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Beauty

Anisa Suceska, program manager in Bosnia for Women for Women International, an organization that empowers women in conflict and post-conflict countries, said it well. “We cannot change the facts” she stated. “We can only change our situation.” No matter what your situation, there is always an opening for beauty.

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Signs

I was in Maryland last weekend talking about resiliency. Three times during the course of the afternoon, on a windless day when nothing was moving but a slight breeze and the conversation, a HUGE tree came crashing down in the nearby woods. Trees were literally coming down around us. In a lifetime of small miracles, this was a day to remember. Imagine. When was the last time you heard a tree fall? Now think about it happening three times within a few hours!

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Walking to the Middle

A labyrinth is different than a maze. The purpose of a maze is to confuse and obfuscate, with numerous dead ends, twists and turns. But a labyrinth has only one path in and out. Its purpose, through the simple act of placing one foot in front of the other, is to clarify and enlighten.

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All In

Picture this. Your only brother's son is a senior in college. He is about to begin his final semester but emotionally is starting to crash and burn. Depressed, alienated and suicidal, his completion of a degree seems unlikely at best, his very life in jeopardy. He lives three hours away and you are a busy person with a full life. What would you do?

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Trust What You Already Know

The next time you are trying to decide a difficult question or make a challenging choice, spend a few minutes considering all that you gain from each choice. Then trust your instincts to guide you into action. Usually we know the answer, but are fearful of the consequences or the implications of action.

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