Flying: How do you make sure to be on time for your departure on commercial travel (airline flights, etc.) these days? What are your rituals, checklists, notes, and secret strategies? Talk about a time your flight prep wisdom failed you? Talk about a time your strategy saved you?
Jacob Wrestles with an Angel (Genesis 32:22-32) In this biblical story, Jacob wrestles with a man (thought to be an angel or God) and the angel does not prevail. Jacob will not release the angel until the angel blesses him. The angel’s blessing is to rename Jacob to Israel, meaning, roughly, to prevail.
We wrestle with mankind and heavenly spirits our entire lives.
Can you relate to a monumental life struggle in which you prevailed even though you didn’t technically win?
Upon reflection, do life’s most devastating struggles seem to be strategic challenges for growth or demonic curses meant to demoralize?
Have you had pointless struggles which did NOT benefit you later in life? If so, who do you blame?
Self-Authoring: You decide to write your autobiography. In your memory search, you discover that there is someone who contributed mightily to who you are today. You are out of contact with this person. You never said thank you. What can you do to thank a long-lost person who was instrumental in your development? What if they are gone?
Sisyphus: Albert Camus ~ The human condition is characterized by the probability of suffering and the certainty of death—a fate which human reason cannot accept as reasonable.
If Camus’ characterization is right, what can a human do to be able to accept his/her unreasonable fate?
If Camus’ is not accurate, how should his prophecy be re-written to become reasonable?
Dante’s Inferno: This 14th century epic poem puts flatterers in the Eighth Circle of Hell, and condemns them to “living in excrement”, among other things. Betrayers, on the other hand, are directed to the Ninth Circle of Hell, which features sinners being “encased in ice” – and that’s just for starters.
Aren’t you occasionally guilty of both flattery and betrayal? Did you consider these common human behaviors as sins or merely means to an end? Are you less guilty of flattery and betrayal today? Why or why not?
Better Living Through Beowulf: Chinua Achebe (from Things Fall Apart) ~ Okonkwo … strives to show no weakness. He wants to dispel his tainted legacy. Okonkwo works to build his wealth entirely on his own. He is also obsessed with his masculinity, and any slight compromise on this is swiftly destroyed. He has attained a position in his society for which he has striven all his life.
When has your striving for something brought you down? How can distancing oneself from their disavowed legacy become a liability?
Philosophy: Václav Havel ~ There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.
Can a recommendation of perspective and distance be also a guideline to living in awareness?
Does an awareness of all the most dangerous kinds of vanity protect us from both others and ourselves?
Can a good mind and a modest certainty about the meaning of things in turn transform our innocence?
Is having a gratitude for the gift of life and the courage to take responsibility for it a result of:
• a vigilance of spirit or
• merely the result of the circuitous struggle with life and our own stubborn selves?
This Day in History: June 19, 1865 – Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, United States, are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 41 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.
What legal, social, or political restrictions are being resurrected in the U.S. or around this world?
When have you emancipated yourself from the restrictions imposed by feckless rule?