Or am I really going to have a post with an acronym?
When I first had the idea for Discover The Road I thought about calling it all sorts of things. The Potential You, or The Gift Inside (If we are being honest I just made that one up, but you get the idea). The genesis seemed like one of self help. I thought about writing posts with titles like you see all over the web. 42 Ways to Boost Your IQ. The 9 Keys To Happiness. That kind of thing. But the more the idea germinated and the more I tried to understand my reasons for wanting to do this in the first place, the more I began to come to one single conclusion: Nothing I write here is going to solve anyone’s problems. And I have to admit that is still a difficult concept to digest. But I think it gets to the heart of why I am doing this.
What I realize when I am able to let go of my own superman complex, and what I saw come to life when I first shared this on Facebook, is that there is incredible power in the telling of a story. We make sense of our lives through narrative. We all live out our own Hero’s Journey. So the story of someone else is the story of us. When I read about someone trying to decode the human genome or watch a movie about someone trying to climb Mt. Everest, I put myself in their shoes and walk that mile. I see how it fits with my version of reality and maybe it shifts my perspective or deepens my beliefs.
And that brings us to the acronym. I had no intention of making one up. It feels very self helpish. But I went for a walk one day after lunch and I decided to lay down in the grass and I had a burst of clarity that came from somewhere. Maybe somewhere far away. Maybe somewhere very close. But somewhere. Maybe it has been inside of me for my entire life and was just waiting for the moment I was ready to listen or maybe it was indeed God/The Universe/Tiny Elves speaking a little bit of truth to me in that small voice that we can only hear when we are very still. I don’t know and I won’t claim to. What I do know is that in the burst of thought/revelation/tiny voice or however you would like to think about it, I got myself an acronym: SAG.
And since I live in the heart of Hollywoodland, the first thing I realized was that it shared the stage with the Screen Actors Guild. So be it. And the ideas are nothing new. We have all heard the words a thousand times. And so had I. But I had never put them together in this order. And I don’t think I had ever really taken them to heart and put them into focus. And more importantly, I had not put them into action.
All right. Enough drum rolling. Here we go:
- S = Service
- A = Awareness
- G = Gratitude
I am trying to wake up each morning and take 5 minutes and contemplate these ideas, in this order.
Service came first. I would have thought awareness, but it was service. And now that I am putting it into practice ( albeit slowly ) I am beginning to see why this will work for me. By putting service first, all of my other thoughts, and therefore actions, will come to the aid of service. Service to others as well as myself. So I am waking up everyday and trying to stay lost in service.
Awareness came next. And I feel like the reason why is that even when we are tying to lose ourselves in service, it is very easy to just get lost. How can we focus on the present moment and know that we are being of service right now?
My favorite parable about this idea is The Three Questions, a short story by Leo Tolstoy. But my favorite retelling of this story is the one by John Muth, author of Zen Ties and Zen Shorts. In the story a boy is trying to find answers to the three questions. When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? And after I thought about the 3 letters for a few days, I began to see their origin in stories like this.
But I struggle each and everyday to put these simple ideas into practice. And it is becoming harder than ever to avoid the distractions that our newly connected world provides. But in truth I think this has always been hard. That is why there are these stories that have been passed down to us. Even without all of the bells and whistles of the age, we would still struggle with the wounds of our past and the fears of our uncertain future. And the only way I know how to work on healing the wounds and eliminating the fears is to ground myself in the present moment. But it takes a lot of practice. And the same way doctors “practice” medicine, I am trying to learn to practice awareness. It is much more of an art than a science. (Even though there is much science to back up the idea that this is good practice).
This is the tail. But we can use gratitude the same way a monkey will use its tail for balance. We can use gratitude the same way a dog will use its tail to communicate joy. We can use gratitude the same way a cow will use its tail to swat at files. Gratitude is a powerful force to keep us in check, to sweep away the little things that gnaw at us and drive us crazy. When I find myself swept away in that rush of hurried or reactive emotions, or if I am drifting alone in the emptiness of a loss, gratitude is the surest way home. We all have things to be thankful for. Even the smallest of things. I find this one easy to experience, but where I fall short many times is in my ability to share with others around me what I am feeling. So that is what I working on with gratitude. I feel it each and everyday, but when I lose my awareness of the present moment or when I forget that my actions should be actions of service, I forget to share the gratitude that I feel. And that is how I think these three letters work together. They work in concert with one another to lift each one up a little higher.
Trios are some of our most loved traditions. Beginning, Middle, and End. The 3 blind mice, musketeers, bears, pigs. Me, myself and I. The Holy trinity. The past, present and future. BLT’s. You get the idea. So here is mine. I honestly didn’t think I was the kind of person who would ever use an acronym, but it turns out I am. And the idea of sharing with the world that I am just that kind of person scares the hell out of me. But here we are!
Okay, last thought – I guess I should call this a Comic Book geek alert but tonight I was watching Agents of Shield and there was a scene when Melinda May is talking to Agent Colson and she asking him to show her his scar from the Battle of New York (Where he died in the movie The Avengers). And she says this:
The point of these things is to remind us that, there is no going back, there is only moving forward. You feel different, because you are different.
And while I was experiencing the power of the story, I thought about what she was saying and how it fit into my own life. I feel different because I am different.