Monday, May 19, 2014

Zero Problems. Is that possible?

"Life is easy. We make it complicated." He said. "I have no problems at all in my life. Not a single one."

I rolled my eyes. I rarely pay attention to this sage dragon of my clan because, well, he is also crazy. More than me. That's saying something. But I was in the search of some light for my darkness and something deep inside forced me to stay put.

"Imagine each of your problems is like a tree. You see your problems all huge, so it must be a huge tree. You have many problems so imagine a forest. Close your eyes and see this big forest of gigantic trees, like sequoias. No matter where you look, you see trees. You can't see where the forest starts or where it ends. You can barely see the top of the trees. You want to solve your problems but you have no idea where to start. And there it is, the overwhelming feeling that you're lost with problems everywhere."

I sighed. My burdened heart made the sequoia forest very easy to imagine. Yes, huge trees, an endless forest that had no end or beginning. There was no horizon or sky to fly to. No matter where I looked, there were just sequoias one after the other, giving me a sense of claustrophobia and helplessness. This angered me.

How can he say he doesn't have problems? I thought opening my eyes. I know him. I know his life and there are sequoias there too. He does have problems. He is just in denial. Why am I even listening?

"You may think I'm an arrogant or a liar when I say I don't have problems. It's not that. What you see as problems, I see them as challenges. It's different."

Something clicked within my brain. Of course is different. It's all the difference in the world. Problems intimidate me. They glare at my flaws, my ignorance, and my ineptitude. Challenges trigger a different response. They entice my pride to try harder, to overcome them, to prove I can learn, I can grow, I can be greater than them.

"Life is whatever you make of it," he said. "It being easy or difficult does not depend on your surrounding circumstances. It depends on your own perception."

I had to agree. A problem being big or small is subjective to each person's perception. I have a health problem that affects my appearance. Right now it's the least of my concerns. When I was young I wanted to die because of it. And it's the same problem. It's my perception that made it an insurmountable or insignificant problem. Understanding brought light and chased most of the darkness away.

Okay, let's make a truce and hear him out. He's on to something for once. Something I need to hear badly . "Point taken. I can do it. I can see the sequoias as challenges. Makes me feel better already, but I still don't know where to begin. There are so many..."

"It doesn't matter where you start. Choose one, anyone. The one that is bugging you the most."

"They all bug me," I grumbled. "Everything bugs me!"

"Choose one. Just one. No one can climb many trees at the same time. Try. Maybe you are one of those who need to fall on their butt several times to learn the lesson. Focus on one goal until you achieve it. Then go to the next. Achieve it and move on. Try  many at the same time, you'll burn out. The energy requirement will overwhelm you and you'll quit. Sequoias will still be there and you will remain lost."

I bet the expression on my face was like the child that is told he has to eat the vegetables or there will be no ice-cream. I could almost hear the Aaargh! All right, coming from every brain cell in my dragon head.

I left the Crazy Sage Dragon's lair preparing myself mentally for my forest. Zero problems. There are only challenges. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Only one sequoia at the time. It's all matter of perception. I think some have gone thinner... and smaller...

        ***

The Crazy Sage Dragon recommended a movie to me a while ago. It was a coincidence I caught it on TV last weekend, after our chat. There was something that echoed all the way to my soul.

"In order to understand (great knowledge), you first have to make it yours. You have to believe in it with all your heart. Then, you have to go out and try to explain it to others. It's only during this process that you will start to unveil its deepest meaning."

Dragon Hugs!

59 comments:

  1. Difficult to climb more than one tree at a time, so that makes sense.
    And they always say if you want to learn something, teach it to others.
    Crazy sage dragon was on to something, wasn't he?

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    1. Yes, he was. I just need to be in the right state of mind to listen to him.

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  2. Some problems/challenges (most?) are smaller and more easily conquered if you have a friend (or two, or six) at your back.
    Hugs.

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    1. Or 150, even if they are dwarves. :D Friends are a blessing, no doubt.
      Dragon Hugs!

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  3. Very thought-provoking post, Father Dragon.
    I'm looking forward to helping you climb those trees one at a time.
    Hugs, my friend.

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    1. Dragon Hugs, Melissa. I have faith we'll achieve good things together.

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  4. Once there was a man bearing a heavy cross. He asked Jesus to take away his heavy cross, and Jesus did. Jesus said, "Go into that room and pick any other cross that fits you better." The man opened the door and saw a plethora of huge crosses, then he spotted a little cross in the corner and chose that one. He walked out of the room with the little cross and showed it to Jesus. Jesus said, "That's the cross I just took from you."

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    1. Thanks. I liked it very much. dragon hugs!

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  5. How we approach a problem usually coincides with how we approach life. Putting it into perspective helps, as does talking, if we can. Thanks for sharing the wisdom.

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    1. Thanks for visiting. Yes, talking helps. Bad thing we're not always willing to do so.

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  6. You are a beautiful person, Al. I enjoyed this very much… so much meat here for us to digest. And all SO TRUE!!! What an inspiring post. It reminds me that the attitude of "I'll be happy when" never brings us happiness. It really is a CHOICE to find joy in our every day lives. This sums it up perfectly. :)

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    1. Oh, I remember that too. We forget so easily that we have more power than we think. Dragon hugs!

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  7. Sage Dragon sounds pretty insightful--I like the idea of looking at problems as challenges instead.

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    1. Sage Dragon is crazy but from time to time pearls come out of his mouth instead of fire.

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  8. Yes, perception is everything. Looking at it as a challenge helps but the wisest thing he said, is pick one and focus on that.

    When I broke my back in '04 and was told I may not walk again. I might be really limited in what I could do. I certainly would never ride my horses again. I thought, now wait just one damn minute. That's a big list of what I can't do.

    Don't tell me I can't do something because I'll figure a way to accomplish it.

    I also had a brother in a wheelchair. He didn't define his life by what he couldn't do or by the fact he had spina bifada. My brother became one of the only paraplegics in Arizona that became a EMT. He took a degree in Geology AND did the field work--which is hard. He went to work for the fire department as an emergency dispatcher. Very cool under fire. He participated in wheel chair racing, basketball, baseball, dog rescue and a plethora of other things.

    I concentrated on all the things I could do. I focused on what I wanted--to walk. Next ride my horse. Have a life. Live, not merely exist. Guess what? It took me 19 months to heal. I not only walk but I even can do short jogs--altho it's not wise, given my back, to jog and I don't any more--I needed to prove something to myself. I started back horseback riding before I hit the second year. God, I was scared by all the what ifs, what if I fall off, what if... but I did it and loved the sense of accomplishment and freedom.

    Like my brother, I'm not defined by what I can't do but by what I can and the challenge of making each accomplishment more refined. Practice and celebrating for each thing I do. I get better each time I tackle that *tree.* With my shoulder, I'm working hard too. I will get as close to full use of it I can without being stupid.

    Pick a tree, Dragon, and take it down. You can do it. Forget about existing...LIVE as richly as you can. Dragons have a pretty long life span. Fly and flame. Celebrate.

    Hugs!

    ~Sia~ cheering you on from the rah-rah section.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. I'm speechless and in awe, Sia. You have all my admiration. You and your brother are real warriors. I won't forget this lesson. Thanks for the cheering. Dragon Hugs!

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    2. My brother is the hero and he taught me many things about endurance and tackling those things you can and attitude. When to push and when to be smart enough to back down and when to be smart and look for another path to the same goal. :-)

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  9. What a lovely story! You got your point across with grace and panache! For me, though, I still have challenges AND problems. But it's okay, problems don't scare me. They're a part of living. If there are good days, there must also be bad. :)

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    1. You're one brave girl. Yes, there are good and bad, we just need to focus more on the good than the bad.

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  10. What a great perspective! I love sequoias....so majestic. They are certainly a good representation of problems. Turning problems into challenges will be...challenging, but this dragon apprentice is going to give it her best go, and with a little help from some friends, I can do it!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

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    1. That's the spirit, Tina. Never forget you're surrounded by good friends. :)

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  11. Excellent post. Sometimes I have to remind myself to take life one day, one problem at at time. But that can be hard when so many people rely on you. Those are the days it feels like the trees are falling on my head. But the idea of just hiding in the forest all by myself for a bit...now that's a way to enjoy those trees!

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    1. Hahaha, well, that could be an option. It is very difficult when everybody relies on you. My mother had that problem. Hopefully you can get some peace soon.

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  12. Problems or challenges... it's the connotation each word has.
    Within our subconscious, we respond to each word differently, and that little shift can make a huge difference in our state of mind!
    Challenges are "more empowering" than problems...
    So let's view those beautiful sequoias as majestic challenges... they are beautiful...
    Sending some Ubuntu Hugs your way------------

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    1. Thank you for the ubuntu hugs! Yes, the subconscious's response is different. At least in my case.

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  13. A very thoughtful post Al and it's a great reminder not to get lost in the forest of our problems. You're right about perception too since the things I worried about at 18 seem so minor now.

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    1. Sometimes we forget it's all relative.

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  14. Like climbing to the top of the pyramid, one step at a time.

    LOL - I'd always heard the only people with no problems were dead.

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  15. I read this and thought of that bit... Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.

    This is an excellent reminder to all of us that when life feels overwhelming (every other day) that changing the perspective to Challenges vs. Problems is a good place to begin. And then focus on Just One. After it is conquered, move on to the next.

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    1. I eat elephants in two chomps. I used to eat them in one but I had problems with their tusks.

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  16. Picking one at a time was the best advice. I always used to say all these problems won't matter a damn when you are dead. My mother was always a worrier.

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    1. Hahaha, that's right. Many things won't matter once dead. :)

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  17. This is something I've always believed in. Every time a stressed out friend comes to me, I tell them the same thing. First BREATHE... then tackle ONE problem/situation at at a time until you are done.

    Now it your case FD... Why not set fire to one and the forest will burn.... LOL That's what I'd do if I had super fire powers....

    Hugs back!

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    1. Well, I had thought on that solution. It doesn't work, burn it. The dwarf witch doctor agrees with this plan, but people around is not so fond of this solution. When you live in a society...

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  18. I agree with the advice but my problem has always been that i can motivate myself is someone is depending on me, but if it's something I'm doing for myself it's much harder. If I fail or give up then what am i going to do, give myself a disappointed look? I need to work out a way to set a fire under my butt without needing other people to do it for me. Still working on it.

    mood

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    1. Me too, Moody. I'm aware the ultimate trigger is no one but myself.

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  19. I'm coming over with a chain saw and will help hack down the burdensome trees spllintering your hide!!!

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  20. I'm busy chopping down the tree standing in my way but I have to keep stopping to sharpen my axe. I wish I had your fiery breath...or even Tammy's chain saw! I'm determined though. It's good friends like you, Al, who prop me up when my legs give out. I realize I need to keep at the trees or I'm never going to see the sky.
    By the way, in case you haven't noticed yet, Zenon is here at my house. He followed Jezebel home and she's having her way with his infatuated self. I'm not sure what shape he'll be in when - or if - he comes back to you...

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    1. You made me laugh. Yes, I noticed Zenon was missing but since he often gets lost, we are already used to his long absences. Last time, he got lost in wine cellar. I bet he's having a really great time with Jezebel. She rejuvenates him, hahaha. Bolitas!

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  21. What's that saying? Ah yes, you can't see the forest for the trees. So actually, we can learn from the trees and turn over a new leaf. Did you know that I have been a Lumberjack of sorts?

    I have no problems, only solutions.

    There you go, can you tell I need some sleep. Goodnight :)

    Gary

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    1. My dear friend, you sent me to the dictionary to find out what a Lumberjack is. Well, if you have one, you can maybe borrow him to me. :) Solutions are even better than problems!

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  22. This is a very insightful post. Thanks for sharing this!

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  23. I need to remember this as well as I face a few personal hurdles. Thanks. :) (And SHs)

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    1. I shall post it on my forehead so I don't forget. I see I have a poor short-term memory. Dragon Hugs. Lots of them.

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  24. Take one tree at a time. Climb it, chop it down, or just go around it. That forest of sequoias is no match for Father Dragon.

    Hugs.

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  25. I've now read this three nights in a row and each time I do, I take away a different nugget of wisdom. :)

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    1. Me too and I've been thinking about it since last Saturday. I think I still have to explain a few things to understand them better.

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  26. Choosing the one tree and seeing it as a challenge, not a problem is always hard for me. I have this "take everything on at one time" issue, and I worry each "problem" to death. Of course, that's exactly the wrong thing to do if you want to do something well or restore sanity. I'll think of your conversation with the Crazy Sage Dragon today, and try to adjust my thinking.

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    1. Adjust my thinking. I hear you. It's not easy at all. I understand the formula, but it is a bit more difficult when it comes to applying it in the daily practice. It's worth the effort, I'm convinced of that. Dragon Hugs!

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  27. Crazy Sage Dragon is very wise. And, after you conquer all those trees, think of all the paper you'll have to write on!

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    1. Hey! I had not thought on that but I will keep it in mind. Paper is always useful. :) Thanks, Loni.

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  28. Very sage advice from your dragon friend. My problem is being indecisive when it comes to which problem to deal with first. But I guess you have to look at the tree that's in front of you and get on with it.

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  29. This puts things into perspective. Sometimes I'm in panic mode, but then see things as challenges, to be knocked off one at a time.

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  30. Crazy Sage Dragon had a lot of wise words to share with you. I'm glad he did, you seem serene now. When I used to deal with PTSD like symptoms a couple of years ago, I also used a tree in my guided imagery. I pictured the tree, colorful and beautiful, then I assigned my problems (triggers) to the leafs. I'd picture each leaf falling to the ground and being blown away into the wind. It helped calm my nerves. Over-sharing over =P

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  31. Wise words Al. I'm a "glass-half-empty" girl myself, and sometimes spend too much time looking only at the negatives. Takes a while for me to see something as a challenge to conquer instead of a problem to be fixed. I've discovered I'm a poor fixer. One thing at a time is how I have to handle my day job; I wonder why I have so many problems with the same concept in my personal life.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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