“DESPAIR IS A SIN”

Hello dear  Reader,

News gettin’ you down these days? Me too. Big time.

A few years back, I was attending the San Francisco Green Festival, listening to a talk, then buying the book, called “Natural Capitalism – Creating The Next Industrial Revolution”, offered by friend, neighbor and fellow houseboat resident Paul Hawken.

Paul, founder of gardening supply stores called Smith and Hawken, (and called by Fortune magazine in 2002, “the original hippie entrepreneur”), had already been inspiring me for years, long before we met, and long before we moved to Sausalito – not only because of his writings, and environmental activism, but just as much by his abiding positive outlook, despite all the negative news coming at all of us daily.

Paul looks for, finds, and writes about the good stuff that’s also happening daily, but doesn’t make the news.

One of his early books, “Growing A Business” served as my North Star in the running of my own retail startup in Canada years earlier, inspiring me not to waiver from my core founding principles when times got tough.

BTW, if and when you can, I encourage you to find 45 minutes to enjoy and learn from this informative, uplifting talk offered by Paul at “Spirit Rock”. Click right here. You won’t be sorry you did.

Anyway, I digress, back to the Green Festival: as he was inscribing his book to me he asked: “So Michael, how’s it goin’, what’s up?”

I reckon that day I must have been feeling gloom and doom about the state of the world, and the incomprehensible behavior of the humans. The word “despair” crept into my response. He stopped writing, put his pen down, looked into my eyes over those half glasses of his, and said:

“Michael, despair is a sin!”

Wow! Those words got my attention then, and keep coming back at me even now – especially now actually – in my ongoing struggle to find a container to hold, and to handle, what’s relentlessly coming at us all in the media these days.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed a reality check, an “attitude adjustment”

NOT THIS:

Attitude Adjustment

Instead, I figured that a few days sitting in the Zendo, unplugged from the world, and looking at the wall, would do the trick, so I headed off to Green Gulch Farm (SF Zen Center).

The wall looks like this:

IMG_1008

 

Anyway, as it worked out, the meditation practice was tough. As usual, the “monkey mind” particularly frisky this time around, wouldn’t stop jumping. But still it was definitely helpful and worth it, as always.

But, my real reality check came through two other experiences, not planned on, nothing at all to do with the wall, and both, unsurprisingly, enabled by the natural world.

The first, was a walking tour, which I was kindly invited to join, of a creek reclamation project which is currently happening partly on the land being lovingly farmed and cared for by Green Gulch, (and which has been generously given over to this project), and partly on adjoining land – the state park adjoining Muir Beach.

This link will take you to the short but inspiring video which will explain the project and introduce you to just a few of the beautiful souls who brought it to life, and are making it happen. If you don’t look at, listen to, or read another thing on this blog post, do look at this video. You’ll feel better, I promise.

You see? It’s not all gloom and doom out there – good stuff is happening too (I’m talkin’ to myself here, but you already figured that out, didn’t you?).

So, when we got to the worksite, we met some of the really great, passionate people who are doing the actual work.

We were toured around by Steven Chatham – a really smart, competent fellow, (who I think somewhat resembles Paul Newman the actor).

White hard hat on, he seemed at first, just like what you or I would expect from a regular construction guy, until I heard him say words like: “for this project to succeed, I need, and am trying, to think like a fish – ‘where do I need to hide, where would I like to rest, where can I go to find bugs for my lunch?’”

After he said that, I really” “got”, that what seemed to me like just a random mess – boulders, redwood tree trunks, and root balls helter-skelter, had all actually been meticulously planned out – not in feet, or even inches, but fractions of inches.

Meet Steve, and Lisa Prunuske, his partner at the environmental restoration firm, Prunuske Chatam Inc., and also, “awesome Tanya” (as she was introduced to us), GGF’s consulting project manager; and, behind them, a tiny glimpse of this beautiful project.

IMG_0948

If you are interested to see and  know more details about this project, you can click here.

Next day, the second of my two reality checks: after zazen, I decided to bike over to Muir Woods.

For a truly moving spiritual (religious) experience, no cathedral, no mosque, no man-made house of worship can come close. How could they? This outdoor “cathedral” was designed and built by our creator herself. Coastal redwoods are as tall, and some taller, than 300 feet (30 storey building), and live upwards of a thousand years.

I had this thought:  In measuring a “successful” life, and applying two of the criteria that we humans like to use, namely stature, and longevity, it could easily be argued that old growth redwoods are the most successful life form on the planet – and all without benefit of a brain – humbling, huh?

Anyway, I plugged in some Renaissance Christian Church music, and wandered around in that paradise for a couple of hours. Sublime!

BTW, wanna know what “choirs of angels” sound like? I recommend the “Tallis Scholars.” No harps though. Sorry, a cappella only. Have a listen for 90 seconds

 

Mass For Five Voices: Kyrie

And a couple of pics to go with the music – voila!

IMG_0980 IMG_0994

Got home the next day feeling WAY better. Hope it lasts.

Practice Tip Push Pin Practice Tip (for you and me too):

Patricia Schroeder, the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado, famously said:

“You can’t wring your hands, and roll up your sleeves at the same time.”

Soooo….

1) Get busy doing even more good stuff for others.

2) Unplug the fear and hatred box.

3) Get into the woods, to the beach, into nature somehow, somewhere, as often as you can. It restores the soul.

 

And finally, as ever, take care of and be kind to…yourself!

 

Metta

Michael

 

About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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