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Grain Burgers and the Door to the Infinite


The moment arrived unannounced during a set of solitary yoga postures on my plush, living room rug.  A long stretch to relieve the tension of the day popped something open inside me.  It was not a ligament or a tendon.  It was my hardened heart.

In the Hollywood version of the story, the hero manages to crawl to the phone, call 911, and then wakes up in a hospital bed after a miraculous, life-saving operation by a brilliant, open-heart surgeon.  The experience impresses upon our hero a number of crucial life lessons.  After the crisis, the hero’s character and actions towards others change profoundly for the better.

Unfortunately, life does not resemble a Hollywood B movie.  My physical heart had not split open while in shoulder stand on the rug.  A more subtle heart had opened, and with it, a door to a new world and another destiny.

It all started with Jorge, the new employee I would never have invited to lunch if my regular lunch buddies had not run off without me.  Jorge was Mexican, the only Latin guy on in the executive suite of a wallpaper distribution company that hired mostly Anglo-Americans when Miami’s transformation into a multi-cultural city had begun in earnest in 1981.

Jorge was in his early thirties, average looking, average height, dark hair, brown eyes, and a thin mustache.  He was the kind of guy who could get lost in a crowd easily.  I had no idea his unheralded arrival would trigger a seminal occurrence in my life.

My company hired Jorge for its fledgling export division.  Jorge’s mission was to open up markets in South America and the Caribbean (approximately one quarter of the world) all by himself.  He had the ability to speak Spanish and, I presumed, super-human sales skills coupled with a pioneering spirit.  I didn’t envy Jorge one bit.

I considered myself above Jorge.  I was the high and mighty Marketing Director—Jorge the lowly new sales recruit.  I had served my time in sales.  I was grateful beyond words not to have to spend my days selling wallpaper sample books to dealers who had no more room in their stores for them.  I figured, if nothing else, I could learn something about the export market by going to lunch with the new recruit.  Besides, Jorge was the only soul left on the second floor other than myself.

Jorge suggested we eat at a quiet, natural food restaurant in Miami Springs.  My lunch prospects had just been elevated from a singular, fatty, McDonald’s affair to a tasty, low cholesterol engagement.  I happily agreed.

Over salads and grain burgers, I discovered Jorge was a vegetarian and practiced meditation daily.  Here was a subject I had some interest in, having experimented with various forms and teachers of meditation over the years.  You might say I was a semi-serious spiritual seeker.  And, I had reached a curious crossroads, a sort of impasse in my life.

I had everything a thirty-something American male could wish for: the perfect job in a field I enjoyed; a great boss; a townhouse bachelor pad; girlfriends, a few pals to hang out with; a sports car and club memberships.  I had scrupulously followed the prescribed formulas for success.  I had cobbled together many of the accouterments of an ideal life.

Yet I felt restless and unfulfilled.

I was terrified there was something terribly wrong with me.  I felt the cold winds of middle age blowing in my direction.  I saw myself dating one girl after another well into my eighties, until I finally abandoned the search for true love when my body and spirit caved in from old age.

There I was, sitting across from this lowly new recruit munching on his iceberg lettuce.  He casually mentioned losing 80 pounds after becoming a vegetarian.  I commented that it must have taken a great deal of willpower.  He answered, “Not really.”

I began to pepper Jorge with questions.  The guy was unlike many of the salespeople in our company I regularly rubbed elbows with.  He had a depth and an intensity that I found intriguing.

I asked Jorge what kind of meditation he practiced.  He said it was not a “kind of meditation.”  He launched into a passionate discourse about a profound experience of peace the meditation opened up for him.  He invited me to a presentation scheduled at a hotel on Miami Beach that evening.  I told myself there was no way I was going to drive all the way from South Miami to the Beach to attend some dubious spiritual seminar.

That night, I found myself sitting in a lime green, orange accented meeting room at the Carlyle Hotel.

Curiosity—and some undefinable vibe emanating from between Jorge’s words at lunch had picked me up from the chocolate brown pit sofa in my living room and deposited me in an uncomfortable chair surrounded by a room full of strangers.

Indian music played from six-foot speakers flanking a makeshift stage.  The only thing that kept me in my seat was the absence of Hare-Krishna-like chanting.

I glanced to my left and caught a glimpse of Jorge, who smiled kindly at me.  Someone took the stage and began speaking into a microphone.

The Indian Music and the microphone are the only details I recall after the program began.  My perspective slowly shifted from an external focus to a pleasant inner experience.

A succession of three speakers addressed the gathering that evening.  I do not recall a single word any one of them said.  I just remember feeling relaxed.  I had an experience that can only be described as feeling at home with myself.

For the first time in a very long while, I had actually enjoyed myself without a great deal of effort or alcohol to help me along.  I felt like an invisible hand had knocked off a layer of caked mud from my body.

It is difficult for me to describe what happened after that evening.  I can only say that it marked the beginning of a long journey that lasts to this day, to this very moment.

In the days and weeks after the event at the Carlyle Hotel, I met Jorge’s teacher, who essentially introduced me to myself.  I thought I knew myself pretty well.  I began to see that the image I held of myself was only a faint glimmer of a deeper, broader self, filled with possibilities.

Many years later, my life remains full of challenges, but I face them with real joy and optimism.  I have discovered that life can be every bit as beautiful as you want it to be.  It takes some courage and effort, but the possibility is real for anyone willing to step up to the plate.

I look inward now for satisfaction, rather than chasing it on the outside.  I shake hands with myself on a daily basis through meditation.  I feel more grounded.  I feel more love from within, which reflects positively into my outer life.

It occurs to me that I should have picked up the tab for Jorge’s lunch.  Jorge, my friend, if you’re out there somewhere and can read this, please know that I owe you one.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

 

 

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Essays inspiration issues life personal growth philosophy reflections

Serenity


To experience serenity, I think of the word “see.”

To feel serene, I remember that a wise person sees the big picture.

From this heightened perspective, I am free from the tension and anxiety that too often pushes its way into my awareness to eclipse the spontaneous joy my soul wants to feel.

I think of the big picture as a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic view of a beautiful countryside from the top of a mountain. This view is always available and waiting for me when I want to experience serenity instead of struggle.

To go to the mountain top, I change my point of view from being the center of the universe to being a part of it.   I remember that serenity and boundless joy are my birthright.

I have found it is a good practice to take time daily to sit alone in a peaceful environment to claim my birthright.  A daily dose of serenity has changed my life for the better. Peace is inside of everyone.  The awakening person seeks peace first before everything else.

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What Now?


I’m losing my shit with cabin fever and the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.

I call out to God, “What do I do now?”

“God answers, “Go to Ace Hardware with your wife. They have Clorox Wipes in stock.”

This isn’t the answer I expected to my existential question. It is, however, the general trend of my everyday life.

My universe is shrinking to the size of a needle point.

I am like a young colt in a corral; restive, and longing for greener, unbounded pastures.

Is this a preview of my inevitable end?

I hope not.

The lesson is learned.

When the hand opens the corral gate, take full advantage of every moment given to you.

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Why Things Are This Way


A Simple Reflection On Our Situation

Some people are saying this is “the end of days” as prophesied in the bible.

I don’t believe it, but I have a great big question. Why is the good work of so many good people NOT creating a better world?

There are millions upon millions of courageous, charitable, loving acts of kindness offered from one person to another every single day.

If we stacked these everyday loving acts end-to-end, in a matter of weeks they would reach the Moon and back.

So, where is our better world?

It’s not here because the actions of “bad actors” are overwhelming the virtuous actions of “good actors.” The bad actors are tipping the scales in the wrong direction; towards the darkness—not the light.

The latest example of this is the Corona Virus.

I am furious at the oppressive, reprehensible Chinese government for foisting this plague upon the world.

They are responsible for the pandemic because they have not banned “live markets” in China where cats, dogs, rats and mice, among other abominations, are sold to people TO EAT.

It is highly likely the virus originated from a “live market” in Wuhan, China.

The Hong Kong government banned these markets long ago. So, why has the Chinese government allowed these obvious public health hazards to exist?

It is probably because the poor, downtrodden Chinese people don’t have enough healthy, clean food to eat, thanks to their totally misguided “leaders.”

And then there is this: The Chinese government censored and imprisoned a doctor in the city of Wuhan who could have stopped the plague at the outset. She wanted to quarantine the people who were originally exposed. The Chinese government didn’t want the facts to escape into the light of day. They saved face and dumb wittingly allowed the scourge to multiply. This brave doctor eventually died from the virus.

And now the world is infected.

Why must the many suffer from the sins of the few?

I cannot forgive the oppressive, Communist, Chinese government for this act of reckless irresponsibility, and for the cruel and inhuman punishment they regularly inflict upon their own people.

When this nightmare passes, the international community will have to take steps to pressure rogue governments like China to eliminate potential breeding grounds for deadly viruses.

Until then, I pray for the health and safety of all good people everywhere on this Earth.

Earth rising from the surface of the moon
Earth rising from the surface of the Moon

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

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current events Economy Essays inspiration international issues life personal growth reflections

Where Is My Playground?


Where is my playground now?

I want to romp in sunlit fields.

Like I did when I was younger.

But there are no open fields now like there were then.

Now there is more uncertainty than ever before.

They say we need faith and hope, but we need more than that.

We need a tangible foundation of inner wholeness, well-being, and peace.

The need is powerfully urgent.

It can no longer be ignored.

The open fields and promising horizons are in my mind and heart.

Now, there is no place to go except within.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

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I wonder


If we removed anxiety and fear from our individual and collective psyche, what would remain?

Would it be deafening silence? Would it be peace? Would it be clarity? Would it be joy? Would it be all of the above?

I wonder.

In these troubling times, try to look up and not down. You are still loved.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.

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An Impossible Dream?


This is not fun. Of course, life is not all about having fun, but there has to be more fun than this. I’m not referring only to the virus outbreak.

I heard Sean Connery saying, while surrounded by his children and grandchildren, that his “third act” (or eighth decade of life) was “Shite.” His statement surprised me when I heard it some ten or fifteen years ago. With all that Sean Connery has accomplished, and surrounded by an ample number of lovely and prosperous family members, how can his life be shit, I thought?

Maybe I’m starting to understand what old Sean was talking about. When I (we) see our options constricting, life can be like a tunnel that narrows as we walk ahead. I keep telling myself to focus on bigger and brighter things, but the bigger and brighter things keep turning into cliff edges overlooking precipitous drops through cloud cover and down into oblivion.

Let the light in, I tell myself.  Imagine the light coming into you. See things from a higher perspective. The path of embodied awakening was supposed to work for me.  Seven years ago, it seemed like the perfect solution to my dilemma. The idea is to be human and realize your divinity and live it simultaneously.

Well folks, it’s easier said than done. Looks like there ain’t nothin’ easy here. Still, I have to respect my limitations and do the best that I can. I have to expand without falling off a steep cliff or drowning in a bog of quicksand.

Dropping down into oneself can be a good thing, but not into a tar pit of misery.  Where is the positivity, and the healing, and the way out of misery? There are so many misery traps surrounding us. I’m not looking for trouble or more misery. I’m looking for a safe way through or out of this.

Not every experience is going to be wonderful, but somehow there has to be a lake of resilience and peace residing within us to draw from. I’m speaking again in glowing terms, but what else is there to strive for except a positive inner experience. I can’t help thinking this way.

Am I chasing an impossible dream?

I’m sure everyone is going through some version of what I’m describing. The question is: how do I (we) make our inner and outer lives better despite the obstacles of aging or whatever obstacles are in the way. I know the “Way” varies from one individual to another. There is no “One Way.”

And ultimately, there is no “Way” at all. There is simply being.

I’d like there to be an abundance of light in this being. I’d like to carry it with me out into the world. I’d like to shine it on you, and everyone, and everywhere.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

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Essays humor inspiration motivation personal growth reflections

Becoming a Human Light Bulb


Light bulbs, by definition, radiate light. I’m told that we humans are essentially comprised of light. So, it follows that I (we) are radiating light all of the time. The truth is closer to this: I (we) constantly radiate something, but it isn’t necessarily light. What we radiate depends upon the inner reality that I (we) cultivate.

In my case, meditation helps me to cultivate peace and therefore I radiate a peaceful vibration. But thoughts also come into the picture. Thoughts affect emotions which influence moods and demeanor. So, it pays to cultivate the kinds of thoughts that contribute to the transmission you want to radiate as a total being.

I’ve found that the key to positive thoughts is to have something joyful or pleasurable to look forward to. It’s best to make whatever I (we) look forward to something that contributes to wholeness and well-being. Activities such as snorting cocaine or abusing alcohol are not recommended. Discretion is definitely suggested on the path to becoming a human light bulb.

It helps to find a source of light and bathe in that source daily. Light sources come in various shapes and sizes. Each of us has his or her own version. The one thing light sources have in common is that they all inspire us, and most importantly, THEY ACTIVATE THE LIGHT WITHIN US.

Believe it or not, light is much more enjoyable to experience than darkness. It would be wonderful if the news media, for example, discovered this simple truth. These days, most of the material coming at us does not support our whole being or wellness, to put it mildly.

If you haven’t already, find your light source. Find a whole bunch of them if you like. Change your light source if you’ve outgrown it. Whatever you do, take some time to bathe in your light source daily. Bathing in light every day increases your joy. That’s a promise. The most advanced ones among us have found their light source within them. Good for them. We all are destined to do it sooner or later.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

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Essays inspiration issues life Making Changes motivation philosophy poems reflections

I Sing the Body Ecstatic


 

Here is a vision of my future self and a vision for anyone else who desires to achieve something along these lines:

It is not just another day.

I swim in the ocean of bliss.

I merge with the beauty that I am and the beauty that we are.  I sing the body ecstatic.  I consciously raise my vibration out of the ordinary into the extraordinary.

I am alive with the wellness of Being.

I am no longer bound by the constraints of frustration and the boredom of routine.  This is the new world I have been seeking.  In this moment, amidst the peace and the flow, nothing else matters.

The problems of the world don’t exist.  My perceived problems don’t exist because the wall of separation is breaking down—like the Berlin Wall.

The minor irritations don’t exist because everything is taken care of in this moment of sublime peace and bliss.

Yes, it is possible to live in an ocean of tranquility; to drink divine nectar; to radiate joy to every person I meet; to live beyond prescribed norms.

The Heart of Life opens.  I jump from my perch of uncertainty and the light opens its arms to me.  It is a good light.  It will not hurt me.  I trust it will take me where my heart truly wants to go.

I am not alone.  I fear no evil.  I have faith.  I have trust.  I believe in myself and the essential goodness of my creator.

I am love.  I am beauty.  I am everything I want to be and beyond.

There is no end to the depths and heights of this glorious reality.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

 

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current events Essays inspiration issues life motivation positive thinking reflections

The Field of Dreams


Door to new world

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw

There is a child in me that wants to romp and play in sunlit fields.

If there are no sunlit fields to play in, then the child invents one with his imagination.

The child knows that there is a real world beset with serious problems and pitfalls.  The child also knows that there are admirable people who face these problems head on every day to make the world a better place.  These people have a calling to do what they do.

The child prefers to live in sunlit fields, dreaming of a better life.  The child knows that if it can make its dreams come true, then others will be inspired to do the same.

Perhaps dreaming is the child’s calling.

I have dreamed big dreams.  Some of them have come true.  I cannot measure the impact that my dreams have had on others, nor should I care.  I can only go on dreaming and manifesting them.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.