I am the man!

March 12, 2018

  03/12/18 07:38, by , Categories: Personal , Tags: Alcohol, Wisdom

You said you would be delighted if I would visit. And now I'm here, you have toasted my presence almost every night. I suppose I forgot what that means, your being delighted. It does not appear to be the kind of mirth those around you can share.

It's not like you raised a glass in a toast with me.

And perhaps you have no reason to be delighted. You are dying, it's true. And the odds being what they are, you will probably be dead before most of the people around you.

And other than the anger and annoyance that you express, and the concern about my son that you share from time to time, I wonder if you might drink because that's simply how you've trained yourself to deal with—or is it avoid—the other emotions that arise in human being.

And I think of the stories I created, in this case, “If you really loved me, you'd spend the time to figure out what I need. You'd find a way to break through my walls.” This was not directed specifically at you, but pretty much the whole world. I had the good fortune to get past that one. I realized that when I pushed people away enough, they just went away. I think I might have got that one from you. That maybe you are still testing people's love, and they'll never be able to prove it to you.

The thing is that's a lonely place to be, and I usually went there because I didn't have the balls to say things like “I'm scared,” “I don't know,” “I feel so alone,” “I'm lost,” or simply “Help.”

I also got angry with the world, and angry with myself, and I am really good at beating myself up about the things I've messed up, and the success I've failed to achieve, and the opportunities I haven't appreciated, or missed in the moment.

And sometimes I'm pretty sure I'm just a big strew-up, and it's too late, and I wonder that, knowing what I do about myself, anyone would love me at all.

But I've learned about that too. It's not my privilege to decide who is going to love me, or respect me, or want to spend time with me. My only job really is to accept the gifts of love and respect and time if people want to give it.

And sometimes it's about giving the people around me the opportunity to be for me.

It's about asking the shoulder to cry on when I need it. It's about asking for the time and the care and the attention, the hug, the ear, the listening. Because those things are out there for the price of a question.

Sometimes it's about telling people it's painful for me to watch you destroy yourself. I watch you fight to live, only to lock yourself away somewhere that doesn't look a lot like living to me.

So, I'm a coach, and I'm really a pretty amazing coach when people let me, and I'm going to offer my “eitzis” and you can do what you want with it.

But I'm also going to tell you if you don't do something, I'll be slower to come back to be a part of this.

So here's what you can do.

Talk to someone, anyone, but actually talk about what's so.

We've spoken about your own body's disposal on your demise. Why do you think it came up? Because sometimes a Jew looks at how he's supposed to deal with these things. Judaism actually has a formula for dealing with loss and grief. I wonder if you ever got it complete with the things you've lost. Maybe find a guide and do the work.

And now I'll get specific to your case. The next time you go for a drink, take out a pen instead. Answer one of these, or all of them:

  1. What is it I might want right now that I'm substituting with this drink?
  2. What is it I want to say that I am not saying?
  3. What is it that I want that I am not requesting?
  4. What is it I want to request?
  5. What is it I'm afraid to ask?
  6. What is it I'm afraid to admit?
  7. What is it I don't want to confront?
  8. What is it I wish I could know?
  9. What is it that I want another person to know?
  10. What is it I want another person to understand?
  11. What is it I wish I knew?
  12. What is it I wish I could understand?
  13. With whom would I most like to share right now?
  14. With whom would I like to spend some time?
  15. What would I like to share?
  16. Who deserves my gratitude?
  17. Whom would I like to talk to?
  18. Whose hand could I hold?
  19. At what am I angry?
  20. What saddens me?
  21. What's frustrating me?
  22. In whose lap would I like to sit right now
  23. With whom would I like to laugh?
  24. Who could understand and cry with me?
  25. What do I wish I could just one more time again?

These are big questions. And it takes a certain amount of courage to even ask them. For some there is no answer. Some may take you places you don't want to go, but that's okay too. Our job—your job if you are willing to give it a shot—is to just ask, and then be with what comes up.

But here's the thing. Without the pain, you can't have the happiness either. Without letting the heart break, you can't have the first kiss again. Without the lonely, you can't know the love. But you need to give all of these things the place to be.

Of course, you can also choose to short circuit the whole system, but that's probably not the wisest way to be.

And I don't know if you can hear it, and I don't know if you care about wisdom any more. And, believe it or not, all I want for you is a little more access to happiness, and presence to the love in your life. And I'm frustrated I've never been able to give you that. And I'm tired. And I have other people to take care of as well.

And I don't know where that leaves us.

Except maybe that I invite you to look at what you could do to be the kind of delighted that people can be delighted along with you.

March 2, 2018

  03/02/18 15:03, by , Categories: Personal

Dear Ilan:

You wanted to know what I've been doing. Here's the list:

  1. I arrived February 18. I took a bus into the city. I wanted to visit Roger. He was on his way to a wedding. So I went out to the rents instead.
  2. Monday, I went to Young Israel to pray. It was President's day; they didn't have their early Minyan. I went to Congregation Agudath Shalom instead. I started doing donut drops.
  3. I did more Tuesday. I hit nineteen places between Monday and Wednesday. I also think I took Pop to his cancer doctor. It must have been early in the week anyway as I did finish the crossword.
  4. Wednesday afternoon, I attended a funeral. I still don't know whose it was. Rabbi Cohen (who isn't a Cohen) asked if I could. I didn't really see any reason why I couldn't.
  5. Somehow, I was too tired to completely read the bench brief for Thursday's National Environmental Moot Court Competition. I had an amazing time. I hung with the old lawyers.

    I'm suddenly feeling quite old. The first year law students who were acting as bailiffs for the competition were born the year I graduated law school.
  6. I came home, sent out follow up e-mails to the people I'd visited Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Then I took a train for the city to catch a bus to Montreal. The bus broke down, so I got to spend three or so hours at the highway service depot in Cairo, New York.
  7. We made Montreal by noon. I started walking off to the Chabad of Old Town to see if I could arrange for Shabbat, or I thought I did. I went in the wrong direction. Then I went back in the right direction. It was closed. So I walked over to the hotel where our Kappa Alpha Society initiation was to happen later in the day. I was early by a few hours, so the rental agent handed me the key and gave me the instructions. She also got me in touch with Chabad of Westmount, where I would pray and spend a few meals. After chatting to the workmen, who were finishing cleaning up, I had L'Hotel Peculiar all to myself. I wrote you all a little note. I showered.
  8. Isaac showed up. I gave him the codes and keys and trooped off to Chabad, getting nicely lost along the way. I was still there on time, a good forty to 45 minute walk. I ate there with the Rabbi and some silly boys from Brooklyn who were in Montreal on the bachelor party outing of one of them.
  9. The next morning, I determined to go to a different synagogue, supposedly close to Chabad, but not quite of the same flavor. I wanted to pray and be done. Well, after going wrong to the tune of about forty minutes of walking, I ended at Chabad, through a very lunch like kiddush.
  10. Sunday was spent traveling home. I had a ride all the way to New Jersey in my friend Jim's BMW. I took a train from Secaucus to Penn Station, visited Dahlia for a few minutes, and headed back to Stamford.
  11. Monday, Mom and I went to Best Buy and Costco, and I took a nap. Then I went back to New York for some Continuing Legal education.
  12. Tuesday, I took pop to the ear doctor. Then I went in to assist at Landmark. I didn't want to wake the rents, so I walked home from the train station. I've done a lot of walking.
  13. Wednesday we visited the accountant, I think. I'm getting my dates off.
  14. Wednesday also was the Fast of Ester. I went to visit Mrs. Echental with Mom. I went to Kindergarten and First grade with her daughter, Naomi. Arthur, Naomi's dad, died last week, and we had only just found out. I went back in the afternoon, saw Naomi, and then headed over to Fidelity, to stop by and say hello to my friends Aaron and Amber.
  15. And then there was Purim. I made a new friend. I'll tell you about him later.
  16. And then I stayed up until three or so making a list of people I could visit yesterday. I went to early Megillah reading, did two donut drops, then came home because I thought Pop had his senior group. He didn't; so I went out again. I have an appointment with a Chiropractor for next Thursday, on the facebook marketing side. I hit nine businesses yesterday and dropped off some donuts with Aaron and Amber as well.
  17. I came home. I tried to listen to a webinar, but fell asleep. Then I went to a reception at the the other Rabbi's house. Then to Minchah. Celebrations sponsored by Hecky Attar, off to the Hannah's, back to synagogue for Maariv, and eventually home to Oma and Saba's. I rowed my worst 10k ever, and finally got to bed.
  18. I've kept my rowing up along the way.
  19. I miss you all.

And what I really wanted to write about is the storm. There's a huge one here, and it's going to cause massive flooding and a lot of damage. But that's not how it feels here. Here it feels like spring. It feels alive. I just felt so peaceful going to synagogue in the rain this morning. It just seemed somehow connected between past and future and now. And I didn't know how to put it in words, and it sounded so silly romantic. Sometimes you just get that feeling of home.

I am going to take the next hour to follow up with people. I'm still thinking about what I've learned. Maybe I'll have time to share that a little later.

Anyway, I love you.

Have a great Shabbat.

August 11, 2016

  08/11/16 00:00, by , Categories: Personal , Tags: Choice, Family, Team, love, relationships

As of today, we have been living in Bet Rimon for 12 years.

Yesterday, the anniversary of our flight, I took the opportunity to acknowledge Sharleen for who she is for us, for people, and for mankind, for her stand for Israel, for her stand for her friends and family, for her commitment to raising thoughtful, kind, generous, smart, engaged children, for her love, for her smile, for the grace and ease with which she does so many tasks I am sure she is tired of.

And Sharleen got to share with me some of the lives she's touched this week. We are clear that we made a profound and lasting difference in the relationships people have and the lives they lead.

I also got to call most of my team for the Landmark Forum, and acknowledged them as well. Along the way, I called my friend Ido - I needed a phone number - and got to be his friend and remind him to be mine.

This week I got to see how much I still live inside my narrative that I don't belong, and how incredibly attached I am to it, and I begin to see how much it costs, and I got to call my friend Ido, and let other people know I am there for them.

I also see how much I don't want to ask. I noticed it this morning coming back from synagogue. I want to be nice, I don't want to bother people, and I made my team small as a result. They came to assist to make a difference. For instance, after asking them to clean out the bathrooms for the umpteenth time, I just didn't want to ask them to take out the garbage (I so don't like doing it, I just couldn't ask someone else to), but I knew it was something we should do. Two of my girls just stepped up spontaneously and offfered to do it, and they did it with such joy, I was just blown away. First, they just noticed and took it on. Second, my reason for not asking was just bullshit.

Hevi, another member of my team, shared with me a practice of hers. She gets up every morning, looks in the mirror, and declares a possibility. I didn't have a mirror handy, but I declared that I am the Possibility of Joy. And I got to synagogue late/early - I messed up the time - and I lost it.

A big part of the Forum is choosing, and the point is you can't change a damned thing until you choose what is so. So I have it that I should choose Bet Rimon and Israel, but as soon as the should enters, it's not a choice. And what's there for me is just how much I hate it, how much I don't feel like this portion of my life in any way uses the best of me, how I feel twelve yearso of my life have been mostly wasted, and I'm only condemning myself to more.

I came to the Forum to because I want to see what's between me and being successful. What I pretend is that if I make enough money/put enough in the bank, I will somehow know I am successful and be in a position where I can make a difference. What's so is that I don't believe it, probably more that I know that no matter how much I make, unless I can get my father to be joyful, to give up some of his anger and frustration, I'll never feel like I've done a damned thing in this world. And I think maybe that if I make some money maybe he'll respect me, and I don't believe he ever will, so what's the use. And maybe I just have no respect for myself, which is a real pity, because everyone else seems to think I'm great. So I be good, because I don't really know how to be anything else, but I'll never be happy. And how can someone who can't be happy be the Possibility of Joy? Or help anyone else to be great and happy in his own life. But somehow I do do that, but it's always a fluke, and it's never enough, and everything about me, and my life, is somehow wrong. And all I want to do is escape, but there's no where to escape to.

And I have all these beautiful people around me, who somehow have to depend on me, and there's really nothing I can do; so I range somewhere between trying to be useful, and wishing I were dead.

And I get to give that up again, and again, and again. And I'm exhausted, because somehow I never really do.

So I guess what I have to acknowledge is that I am afraid I am just screwed up, and inside of that fear, I've created all sorts of rackets (we define this as a fixed way of being coupled with a complaint) and strong suits (ways we have of winning) to somehow prove to myself I'm not. Included are:

  • I have to be right.
  • I have to say the right thing.
  • I have to protect myself.
  • I have to not appear stupid.
  • I'm different.
  • I don't belong.
  • I'm smarter than you are.
  • I know better.
  • I'm complicated.
  • People suck.
  • People don't really care.
  • I'm smart.
  • Things shouldn't be the way they are.

And what I get out of this work is that that these conversations don't need to run me. In fact they suck the fun right out of life. And I don't need to let them runn me, and I can create something else.

So the Possibility I am inventing for myself and my life is the Possibility of Being Bold and Free.

And I'm scared I don't know how to be that, or that it's just another thing I'll fail it, and I get to give that up too.

And I don't know if this leaves you in a powerful place or not. I just share it because I'm not doing to great a job keeping it bottled up.

And I choose that “I will live my life out of the principle I make a difference!” and I choose “to make [that] our love for each other what [my life is] really about.”

And I don't know where that leaves me either, which is good because I can let you and the universe help me figure it out.

Permission to Be

  06/20/16 11:12, by , Categories: Personal, Personal , Tags: Landmark Forum, transformation

or “Why I am a Landmark Junkie ”

Landmark Worldwide is a company committed to reliably delivering that which makes a real difference in people's lives. It accomplishes this through its transformational courses, the foundation of which is the Landmark Forum.

Landmark has been big part of my life, and especially of the things that work in my life for more than 21 years. Most anyone who spends more than a token amount of time with me will hear me talk about the Landmark Forum. So I thought I'd explain a little bit about why. Now I can point you here instead of trying to come up with it over and over again.

The main reason: I'm with the same woman, Sharleen, twenty years on, and Landmark has given us the ability to play with each other, to laugh with—and at—each other, to not take ourselves too seriously, and to see how damned big we are in the world.

We have four amazing kids, and who we are with and for them comes from what we have learned at Landmark. From Landmark, we have taken on practices of acknowledging our children, and learned to listen for what is truly imporant.

I get to be with myself. Twenty one years in, and I am still noticing where the little voice in my head (others might call them internal dialogues or hidden scripts) are keeping me from creating the world I want. And when I notice them, I can deny them their power.

For instance, less than two weeks ago, I noticed I've got one about how “I've got to do it alone. ” Noticing it let me give it up. For the first time, I created a team around a goal in my life I've been pursuing for 20 years. Also out of that, I met with someone about forming a pretty neat partnership. These would not have happened without this work.

For the new year, I created the possibility of being Active, Present, and Alive. By the end of January, I'd been to Germany and visited with my cancer-stricken Aunt and Uncle (he's now dead), five first cousins, and five more of their family, most of whom I hadn't seen this millenium.

I get to forgive myself. This one is the hardest for me. I often feel that—except for my family—my past is a sea of mistakes, lost chances and missed opportunities.

From Landmark, I see that my playing the victim of this past robs me of my future. It's a place I easily go, but I have the tools, and the partners, to notice this sick game. When I do that, I can actually create bold new futures.

I can lean into my fear. The first thing that I notice when I create a new future is the gap between where I am and that which I am inventing. The next thing I want to do is throw my hands up and walk away.

But I get that's only the little voice in my head, the child who was embarrassed, who failed, who wasn't enough, trying to keep me safe.

And I notice I am 47 and I don't need the conversations of my naive and scared younger to run my life today. I can say “I am scared, ” and act anyway.

In short, I can give myself Permission to Be the great person that I always suspected was inside there somewhere, but was too afraid to let out. He's actually far more powerful than I ever imagined.

So I share because I think a world of empowered, present people, people who are up to big things, people who lean into their fear, people who are willing to create the world they want to see, to borrow a phrase “to be the change they'd like to see in the world ” (M. Ghandi), would be a great world to live in.

I share because I know anyone who wants to be this has it available to him.

It's worth it. That's all. If you see yourself in this, and can find a way to afford it, it's a gift you really should give yourself.

All My Best,

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April Check Up

  04/08/15 14:51, by , Categories: Personal, Personal

I answered a few questions for my alumni magazine about what I am up to; so I thought I might as well share here as well. I hope you are all enjoying your 2015.

I'm now in two lines of work. One, I am personal coach; I help people achieve their dreams. And I am most jazzed about working with fathers who are committed to raising awesome human beings, starting obviously with children who are confident, secure, happy and proud.

I also love working with high-profile individuals to honor the multiple domains in their lives with grace and ease while playing at the top of their game.

Two, I help people and businesses design their websites and manage their on-line presences to drive the business they built their website to serve.

I now have three teenagers with the fourth not far behind. We've done a great job with them and they do us proud.

I have put my name in for the 2016 presidential race, but could use some help getting the word out. You can visit the Campaign Website or facebook page. Once we crank this up to ten million followers - targeted for the end of 2015 - we should have a profound impact on the direction of political discussion in this country (in other words towards the center and a search for what binds us and brings us forward as one great society).

I am looking to add a greater accountability for the proper functioning of the institutions that shape our society, whether it's working with public officials, consulting for governments or their agencies or subunits (I am particularly interested in school systems and police departments at the moment), or taking on a role with direct authority.

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