If you know me, you’ll appreciate that ideas are typically not in “short supply” because I love to think and think and think. Eventually, something I think about or talk about will make enough sense to put down on paper.
In December, I thought about pulling all of my major themes/discoveries from the last year into a 10 chapter collection (9 life lessons and a summary chapter) that focused on the experiences I had in 2011. As I finished the 6th chapter I felt comfortable with where I was headed and I began the process of visualizing what these chapters were going to look like in book form. See, I’m going to self-publish these life lessons into a coffee table book with some pictures of the family and I’ll be sharing the book with the kids, hoping they enjoy learning from their Dad’s life exposure.
I guess the biggest challenge has been trying to keep my articles “fresh” while the underlying tones and themes of my journal have been a bunch of repetitive topics. As I read from April-September/October (again), I became more and more frustrated by the writing process and I couldn’t get a grip on something that really felt like a good experience to share. This is where I typically start to force my writing and the reason I can start typing at7amand have to continue the re-write process at10pm. I continued to peruse my journal from the last year, in search of an elusive “nugget o’ wisdom” and as I laid the journal down, my pen happened to land in the fold of the journal and ironically highlighted a passage that I had forgotten about. Bingo, we have a topic, so…off to another week of pontificating with LT Furlow.
Generosity (and the aspiration to have more of it in life) is a theme which is peppered throughout my journal. I wrote, last week, about how important it can be for people to learn to appreciate life through self awareness and the art of being focused on decisions from one’s core; not motivated or inspired by other’s opinions or judgement, so this week I’d like to take that one step farther and a bit deeper too.
Here is what my pen landed on: I hope my children will learn to love unilaterally. Now, this will probably spark some comments about the negativity associated with loving out and never learning how to accept love, but that’s not what I mean and it is not my point or intention for my kids either. The concept is deeper than that. I’m not going to try and raise martyrs, I promise. The definition of loving unilaterally, in my opinion is a “one-way” street of sorts, right? Bear with me here. I want my kids to learn that loving, showing generosity, caring and showing concern for people generates power and energy, especially when they don’t “expect” anything back in return (it’s the not expecting anything in return that defines my one-way street) and I think is the most self-less form of love. If they can learn to love, respect, appreciate and show compassion (regardless of the situation they may be facing in life), I think they’ll be OK. Too many times (and especially in the last year) I have noticed journal entries that led me to the conclusion that I’ve experienced frustration with certain people in my life because I had the “expectation” that I did something nice for you, so YOU now do something nice for me. I realized that I wasn’t or hadn’t shown love or appreciation to certain people, places or experiences for the purpose of making others feel loved. Quite the contrary, I was showing love and offering of myself in order to get something in return and that’s not fair to do to people.
From my journal in September:
“I haven’t been good at the whole “loving unilaterally” thing…and this might be where some of my frustration with life comes from. I’m going to try to focus on loving unilaterally, without the hidden “strings” of expectation.”
I’m not going to claim that I have some how mastered the ability to love or do kind things without anything back in return, but since my discovery in September and my rehashing of the point today, I’m going to work harder at achieving the ability to do this. The lesson for my kids and for any of my readers is the hope that we explore what it’s like to really offer of ourselves, to truly love the people around us and to fully love and engage with our careers, acts of generosity in our communities without expecting anything back in return. In order to do this, we’ll need to be comfortable with whom we are as people and it will help to know our personal “True North”. Once done, I think the experiences we will generate in life will be outstanding and would be rooted in an incredibly positive space.
Wrap your arms around what it would be like if everyone you knew was hyper concerned about pushing out love, care, generosity and concern for others. It would be a pretty cool place (tee up John Lennon’s Imagine as background music right now and I’m sure you’d have a dramatic moment).
As utopian as it might sound…I guess it’s worth the try. I’ve been “the nice guy” all of my life, so why not work harder at spreading some of that around.