All of us, and I mean all of us can relate to being chided by the mocking jibe, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. On that basis I am on a Superhighway to the hot spot, damned a hundred times over because intentions only have power when they are focused and charged with what we call will power.
Will power… that 100%-no-excuses-determination that fuels the drive to make our goal happen. Without it, an intention by itself is merely wishful thinking.
So there I am, the alarm turned off, half awake, still sleepy, thinking to myself, what is it that I must do today… what is there to do that is so important to get all revved up about? Howard, you’re older than dirt and seen it all. Go back to sleep; striving to be king of the mountain was yesterday’s game plan.
I think to myself, it’s nice in my warm bed, why should I get up… is there a place where I have to be… what is my intention for the day?
And then I get out of bed because I know the answer. I have to be here, here now, in the present moment, conscious of the daily miracle that is all around us when we slow our mind and open our heart and awaken to the light of our true nature.
Problem is, in the world we live in, it’s not easy to do, to slow down, to be at peace, to open the heart, to be one with the universe, to be a drop in the ocean… to be the ocean.
The process starts with our passion for what we want to achieve, which generates the strength behind our intention, which drives us to action and the fulfillment of our goal.
Clearly, intention takes focus. But the verbs in the definition distract and make it confusing… to want, to generate, to drive, to fulfill… confusing because verbs are action words, doing words, when the goal is being.
For me, the challenge as I draw closer to the end than to the beginning, is to recognize that intentions can be measured by other than societal standards that put the emphasis on the pocketbook or our vanity when we step on the bathroom scale. The intention I’ve set and the will I’ve marshalled to achieve it, is related to core values, a dramatic departure from the grandiose social persona I presented to the crowd for so many years. My intention is to detach from my old ego-driven ideas of ‘achievement.’
Which brings me back to bed and the urge to pull the covers over my face and accede to the beckoning road to hell because why would I get out of bed just to see the birds having their morning buffet at the bird feeder?
I fear I’m being a bit ‘preachy’ because in many ways this is a pep talk to myself. I still have a propensity for making untoward judgements and checking out the styles in the “T Magazine” of the New York Times even as I sneer at the vulgarity of silk slippers priced with three zeros.
The ambivalence plays havoc until the will asserts itself and brings me back to my intention and the decision to get out of bed and into the shower.
I don’t see myself as a shining light and I doubt if I’ll be seen as such. What I’m aiming for is setting an example of how “intention creates our reality,” a pithy quote by motivation guru Wayne Dyer. He’s been dead for a half dozen years but a workshop I co-lead, “How you think is who you are,” parallels much of his writings.
Sainthood is not the goal. A lot of happy days all in a row is the aim. Instead of reciting the litany of aches making themselves felt as I lurch toward the bathroom, I do seven minutes of Chi Gong with my wife (already up and exercising as I crawl out of bed). In May, I fall out of the hammock and spend a half hour every few days with my granddaughter practicing how to throw and catch a softball. In June, I share her pleasure and pride when she plays on the town’s softball team for kids nine and ten. (Among lessons learned: perseverance, failure as motivation, practice makes proficiency…)
These instances of how I am following the path of my intention are modest and may not fit the loftier examples of ‘Higher Purpose’ put forth by Life Coaches and therapists. But they represent who I want to be as a husband and grandfather, pieces of a mosaic put together over time, one day at a time, one piece at a time, someday to be titled “Who I Am.”
It’s why I get up early when I don’t have to.
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