Turn On The Power

If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie. Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:3, 4 NIV)

Do you ever read a scripture which states the obvious like our text above and just go “duh!”? When we react like this we show we miss the opportunity to exercise our brains. Solomon points out a reality in our world to make a statement about life itself not just the mechanics of it. If I were to say it my way, it would go, “Yeah, yeah, the clouds rain when they get full, the wind blows too hard sometimes, whatever! A tree falls down and wherever it lands is where it stays…got it! If someone worries too much about what can go wrong, they will never get busy with the things that need to be done. How you think will determine where your path will lie. blah, blah, blah…” Yet if a tree stays in in the course of its fall, there is no changing the outcome later once its down without some pretty significant intervention. The same could be said for a course of action.

As reality sinks in for me I am beginning to be less and less given to railing against it. At the same time I do everything I can to change it when the open door seems to present itself. Some open doors lead me right into the worst problems I’ve ever faced in my life, others just work like cutting soft butter.
If we worry too much about the barriers to our goals, we will eventually be frozen into inaction. I find in myself all sorts of excuses to avoid the pain of certain relationships, work opportunities and a host of other steps which will move my life forward because I see (or imagine) all the things which will prevent me from accomplishing said options. Take the words weather and wind as metaphors to be replaced by political climate, social barriers or mores, physical limitations, and a host of intellectual facts we know and some we don’t know. If we let the known or unknown stop us from even attempting or carrying on to the goal, we are worrying about the “wind” and “weather” too much.

Let’s admit right up front that some things we want to attempt are impossible for us right now. As I’ve said before in this devotional, Edison used almost all his “failures” to make the lightbulb into semiconductors and tubes of various sorts. Each of those “failures” made him sound brilliant instead of foolish. He turned his failed efforts into patents and helped usher in the age of electronics as we know it. Of course, he wasn’t alone since people all over the world were working on similar projects.

Tesla, on the other hand, commonly credited for inventing the television, died broke and bitter because he was like an artist who doesn’t think about the salability of what he was doing. He just did it because he could and probably enjoyed it. Unfortunately, someone he knew ripped him off and took credit for it, leaving him destitute.

The difference between Edison and Tesla might take a better psychoanalyst than me to figure out where who went right or wrong. What I do know is that one turned his failure into a future while the other didn’t. Edison patented even his “failures” and started a company; Tesla trusted other people with this and was soundly abused for it, to the point of losing everything he worked for all his life.
Is there a lesson here to be learned? Certainly. Yet I can’t help thinking that if Tesla had someone with business savvy devoted to him, his life would have written a different story. Edison was no better at people skills except in public, from all accounts, neither was Henry Ford. What made them different was the drive to turn their skills into lucrative results. I don’t know Tesla’s motivation but the results speak loudly for a man fascinated by his passion for invention but who lacked the desire/sensibility/knack for thinking of these inventions in monetary terms. Unfortunately for him the world around him stripped him of the credit and ripped him off without even coffee in the morning or flowers.
The Tony Robbins (not the man but all those like him) of the world will look at Tesla with pity or disdain–admiration for his inventive mind but disparaging his lack of business sense. These same success gurus will point to Edison with high praise for his drive and determination. And may be they’re right by purely business savvy terms, but I think they are wrong in what makes a person successful.

Time and chance is not just a philosophical conundrum but a universal law of addition and subtraction. I speak to this constantly but want to again in order to emphasize its weight on the outcomes.

That Untouchable born in Bangladesh without an education or any means of changing their fortunes cannot be preached to by the Tony Robbins of this world. For one thing without the education and society to inform them of what is possible they won’t even consider being something other than what they are. Now take a culture steeped in Buddhist or Hindu belief both of which looks on one’s status as a progression to better things in multiple reincarnations and you have an apathetic society developing bent maintaining the status quo. Humans are basically lazy when it comes to truth, which means few put out the effort to discover or change what they believe, preferring instead to survive with what they know. A Tony Robbins wouldn’t even be able to get through to such a person without physical interference and lots of money to raise them up. The solutions for one may not equal the solutions for another if the latter have further to go.

For a person in the slums of a third world country to reach the heights of someone like Steve Jobs or Tony Robbins they must jump incredible hurdles and receive help in chance-based ways. No one becomes a success on their own for all success grows out of the community supporting them then their opportunities and reception in the world around them. Steve Jobs’ success grew out of a certain self-absorption, according to his own account. He fixed his eyes on that goal and went forward in spite of all the naysayers who would call him back to “reality”–whatever they thought it was at the time. Yet he also was not a nice man to be around a lot of the time.

I’ve known musicians, like myself, who worked their entire lives to earn a living at music only to find themselves broke and playing bars or churches of 5 people–most of whom are friends or relatives. Of these musicians many of them are as talented or more so than those in the spotlight already earning the accolades. The difference? Time and Chance.

Will Ferrel’s dad gave him some advice: “Well, if it was all based on talent, I wouldn’t worry about you. Because I’ve watched a lot of your shows, and I really think there’s something there. But you have to remember that there’s a lot of luck involved. And if you get to a certain point in 3 years, 4 years, 5 years and you just feel like it’s too hard, don’t worry about quitting. Don’t feel like you’ve failed and it’s okay to pick up and do something different.”

(Read more: http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2013/12/will-ferrell-marc-maron/#ixzz2nTDtNpzs Follow us: UPROXX on Facebook)

A saxophonist I met in San Francisco in the late 80s who worked for Kenny G at the time told me at one point when I expressed discouragement, “Jon, there are million guitarists out there better than you and they’re living on the streets or stuck in dead end jobs because they can’t catch a break.” Strange as it might seem to some of you reading the blog, that was a great comfort to me. He didn’t tell me to quit trying only that my current or future state wasn’t an abnormal experience.

Let me talk about what I know so you get the how crucial a community can be.
For a musician to be famous doesn’t always take exceptional talent or virtuoso performances. All that’s needed is crowd appeal and they’re off and running. Some appear timeless but we don’t see behind the scenes where a group of dedicated promotion and management people work to keep the artist in the spotlight. In almost ever instance these musicians reach a crisis point where their fame takes a turn for the better or worse. I could quote examples until the blog was full of stories about famous people who tried and failed–not once but several times. Bands broke up, only to get back together less effective because they shot themselves in the collective foot. Bands broke up and one or all of the musicians go on to great solo careers. Those who succeed tour nearly 300 days out of the year and the only time they take off is when they record an album or need a break.

We criticize artists for their use of drugs but fail to realize most of them start with struggling to sleep or anxiety from crossing time zones so much. We disparage them for their lack of self-control but forget how much we contribute to their current state of mind. A part of our community treats them like gods, the rest are looking for them to fail or fall. These people are in a constant state of crisis and without consistent friendship or community support they will fade into obscurity. Of course if they succeed or fail, books will be written and analysts will try to make sense of their lives and choices. I dare say that almost any famous musician we could name dealt with it in one or more unhealthy ways.

Jesus told us to love even our enemies, to support the good in others while refusing to turn a blind eye to their faults. Yet the “Golden Rule” doesn’t say our POV should just be looking outward but love your neighbor as you do yourself. For us to truly practice love we must love ourselves equally. Not more, not less but in the same way. Treat ourselves as others want us to treat them; treat others as we want to be treated. Now this moral guideline works unless we tend toward masochism or sadism; neither of which are healthy mindsets.

A part of success is being content within oneself and inspiring others to the same. It appears counterintuitive to be content when we believe in accomplishment, yet contentment doesn’t indicate laziness, lethargy, apathy or any sense of futility. On the contrary, contentment speaks to being satisfied with our accomplishments and what we have at hand. We can take pride in our accomplishments without comparing our lives with anyone else (see Galatians 6:4). Success is not based on self-absorption or self-centeredness but a sense of being true to our own nature as best we know how to. Discovering how and where we fit in the world around us brings contentment.

When we know our inner shape we also discover the ever evolving person inside and outside. The shape we take in our youth, for example, will not look exactly like what we grow into as we mature. Oh, the basic design remains the same but the exact fit will be different. Solomon’s warning about the weather changing unpredictably should give us a sense of our own evolution in the grand scheme of things. Humans adapt as part of their make up. We figure things out no matter what the circumstances and learn to live with some pretty challenging environments.

Life holds such mystery. If we live with encouragement, we will see the sunrise as a sign of good things to come–no matter what the day holds. If we live in an environment of discouragement, our world will see even the beauty of the flowers as a mockery of our hopes and dreams. Jesus gives us hope not only for the world to come but here and now. His assertion of the enemy’s plans contrasts with His own goals for us, The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10 AMP)

Today is the day of salvation and hope. Solomon’s argument supports Christ’s declaration of His mission. We must seek life no matter what the weather is like, no matter what the climate is like, no matter where the tree falls. Our goal is to live the life Jesus came to give us starting now, letting our fears inform our choices with caution but never preventing us from attempting, striving or investing our all. We hold to the promise though everything around us opposes it, for our forward movement in the spiritual realm will never be subject to the earthbound circumstances set to hinder us.

 

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