Welcome to Minding Your Mind, a weekly show for those looking for new thinking about old knowledge in the areas of Time, Living, Success, Health, Love, and Happiness.
In episode 4, I talked about self-talk, the battle between Yes and No, and a specific training of the mind that has positive life and career application.
Today, I start with a quote titled, Words.
“Words are like keys. We use them alone, in combination or sequence to open minds so as to capture the imagination of those we try to persuade. Choose your words wisely. Speak the truth” unquote.
Of course, words can be, and are used as weapons to hurt and disrupt. We all know what those words are. Furthermore, there are a few words I take issue with, and others I want to have substituted.
Hello, I am William Garcia, Philosopher and author of the book titled Now O’ Clock…Being Mindful, it Always is.
There was a time when words and a handshake were commonly used to form contracts between people. All it took were words like “I give you my word” or “you can take my word for it”, or” I promise”, a good look into the eyes, and a handshake as your signature.
Today, such contracts, or agreements, are still recognized and upheld in the courts when they are substantiated with supporting evidence. Furthermore, if it helped their cases, lawyers would tell their clients to plead the 5th; not to say anything.
Words like “I love you” and “I’m sorry” comfort and bring people together. Other words used as weapons, and has no place in polite conversation, can start a fight between two people or a war between two nations.
Moreover, some of the words used in our culture are so negatively powerful that they are repudiated when used in full text, like the “N” word, for example. Its use is so egregious that it can get you fired from your job.
Then there are words used in full text, like “Fire” and “Bomb”. These words can cause fear and panic in certain situations. In fact, you could end up in jail for using these words. I some cases these same words could lead to death.
Yes, the Fifth Amendment has its limits. I remember my grandmother telling me, “Watch your tongue young man”. In retrospect, I guess this was my introduction to the limits of the fifth. Well, maybe not.
Anyway, I’m glad to say that most of the words we hear and use in everyday discourse are, for the most part, decent.
On the other hand, and out of consideration for others, we keep some words to ourselves, right? As you know, “some things are better left unsaid”.
What made me want to talk about today’s topic was a particular word. The word is one I became aware of only after having written it 535 times in my book. It is a word that entails all that matters, and one we use all the time.
I will get to that word later because, in the book, I mentioned others and want to get to them first. In fact, the first four are words I want to have substituted for two other words, and I believe you can help me with that.
I am a retired Civil Deputy Sheriff, and the first four words I referenced are usually used as partings words in the law enforcement community. They are, “Be Safe” and “Stay Safe” and which I want to have substituted for two other words; words I want you to help me spread, words that are a call to action in the first chapter in my book, titled, A Mindful Cue.
For as long as I can remember, whenever I met an officer and was on my way, I would be told to “Stay safe” or “Be safe,”. We all used the same words and I know these words are well intended and come from the heart; they mean a lot. However, when it comes to “words,” I believe, as you do, they matter.
First, it is impossible to “stay” safe; nothing in life is static. Moreover, to “be” safe is temporary and situational at best, and only to the extent that we have any control, and too often, we don’t.
My call for the substitution of the words was, at the time, borne from having learned and practiced Mindfulness Meditation. It improved my sensibilities and general awareness about things, and It changed my caution.
Now, when I am told to be safe or to stay safe, I respond by saying two words: “Be” alert, because it is what I want my brothers and sisters to be when they most need to be. It is what I want to be when I most need to “Be” even in retirement.
Being alert is not limited to law enforcement officers. There are situations when we all should be, or told, to be alert; those same situations when we are told, at one time or another, to be careful.
For example, being in an unfamiliar place or encountering people you do not know, being careful is ok, but being alert gives you the edge you may need.
Here you may, depending on the situation, consider using the words “be alert” and “be careful” interchangeably.
I believe I can be careful and not be alert. The difference here is that being alert is being attentive or on guard. Being careful is being full of care as it relates to grief or sadness. Of course, I understand what is meant here. But words matter and could make the difference when Life to happens to all of us, as it does.
The reality for law enforcement is that “Being” alert is a state of awareness necessary for being safe; otherwise, they’re relying upon Luck, a chance they do not have to take. Being alert is “Being” in the moment, fully aware and mindful as you are and as everything is without judgment. That is how I wanted to “Be”. The more alert I was, the less I relied on Luck.
Rest assured, I am not suggesting that one should always be on alert for danger. No, that in itself, is dangerous. Prolonged episodes under stress have been proven to be harmful to the “Self.” Furthermore, it may even be worse than bad luck.
What I do believe, and what had been my experience, is that when danger was anticipated or present, it was time to “Be” alert, time to be Mindful.
“Being” alert is when you are best able to notice the subtle and the slightest change or movement when in the presence of danger. Furthermore, being alert, you do not need to know that danger is present to be alert to its proximity.
So, the next time you run into a brother or sister, in law enforcement, say, “Be alert!”
Of course, I encourage you to tell your friends and family to do the same for those who serve and protect us and, by the way, for each other.
You don’t have to be in law enforcement to have a need to be alert. As I said before, Life happens to us all.
So, please, I ask all of you to help me make the spoken words, “Be alert,” the Mindful cue to “Being” safe. I believe it is an idea worth spreading. Thank you.
Another is the word “Fine” generally used in greetings as an abbreviated response to how we’re actually doing.
“Fine” is a word we use either because we’re in a hurry, running late, trying to avoid having a conversation (an old fashion chat) or just because everyone does. Maybe, we just have to slow down.
Next, I want to talk about the word “Day”. If you said to me, “Have a great day” or “Have a good day”, I would respond in kind.
But then, I, like with so much else, gave this some thought and it occurred to me that these parting words referenced Time; a good or great “day”.
Of course, I understand and appreciate these parting words as friendly exchanges we have become accustomed to use.
However, I have my own thoughts about Time as being the inexhaustible element that it is, and of Life as being a finite experience lasting but an instant.
Did you listen to what I just said? Do you agree that life lasts but an instant?
If you do, follow where I’m going with this. If you don’t, I will show you indisputable proof that Life in reality, does last but an instant.
I will also tell the story that set me on that path to this realization. When we’re finished, we’ll get back to the word Day.
For reasons still unbeknownst to me, I thought that I had first heard the words “Life lasts but an Instant” in the 1973 blockbuster movie Enter the Dragon, starring Bruce Lee.
But I wanted to be sure. So, I bought the DVD and watched the movie, at least twice.
I was surprised and a little confused because nowhere in the movie were those words spoken. I had always remembered that the villain, Master Han, was the one who had uttered those words.
I recall the point in the movie when he had summoned co-star and martial artist Jim Kelly to his study. He wanted to find out if Kelly was a government infiltrator.
You see, Master Han was the head of an opium production and distribution organization, a ruthless and paranoid man. In his questioning, he said to Jim Kelly: We are born knowing only life. It was at this point that I, for some reason, recalled him saying, Life Lasts but an Instant.
If it were not for the action-packed series of fighting scenes that followed, I would have dwelled on those words for the rest of the movie.
As I left the theatre that night, the words Life Lasts but an Instant seemed to be on a perpetual loop in my mind. I kept telling myself that the statement was dumb and foolish. It did not make any sense to me at all, but I could not get the thought out of mind.
By the way, I also do not think the statement, “We are born knowing only life” makes any sense either, but that is a topic, perhaps, for another episode.
For weeks after that night, the words Life Lasts but an Instant remained stained in my memory as I pondered what they meant.
It was said by a ruthless and, supposedly, a wise Shaolin monk. There had to have been a relevant and philosophical meaning, but I could not figure it out.
At the time, I was a dedicated martial arts student and practitioner, a brown belt in the Japanese martial arts style Nisei Guru Ryu. I learned in the old ways and Zen was an essential part of my training.
I would meditate on the words Life Lasts but an Instant for weeks on end and, at some point, I do not recall when, it dawned on me what I came believe what these words mean.
Anyway, it was as if a light bulb turned off in my mind. Eureka! Yes, I meant to say “off”.
I believe that sometimes turning off your thinking about an idea allows new thoughts to occur and that, was what I believe, happened when I meditated.
My first reaction to the revelation was how dumb and foolish I had been since the first time I heard those words.
As in the TV series “Kung Fu,” I guess you can say that, at the time, Master Han was the Shaolin monk, and I was the little Grasshopper, the student, played by the late-actor David Carradine.
I still do not recall when, where, or who uttered the words Life Lasts but an Instant even after I had watched the movie a few more times.
Perhaps the words and my recollection of it all was part of a dream I may have had or perhaps I, at the time, had slipped into a stream of consciousness that made those words prescient.
Either way, the thought stands on its own and was worth thinking and meditating about. Now I want to share my thoughts with you.
I start with what I believe is proof that Life does, in fact, last but an instant. Furthermore, what is amazing to me was that it took more awareness, than it did research.
In fact, the proof has always been there in plain sight and for everyone to see. Moreover, we, yes you and me, create proof all the time and so much so that the body of proof increases by the second every day.
The irony is that it all began with a single phrase whose author is still unknown to me.
Do you know who first uttered the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, I didn’t? Well, here is a short history lesson.
Gum Gum, inventors of in-image advertising, didn’t know either. So, they did a search and found that one of the earliest versions was in a 1911 newspaper article. It read, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Then, in 1913, a similar phrase, “One look is worth a thousand words” appeared in a newspaper advertisement.
Some believe the modern use of the phrase may have come from an article in a December 8, 1921 advertising trade journal, which read, “One look is worth a thousand words,” and later, on March 10, 1927, the phrase, “One picture is worth ten thousand words” appeared in an ad.
Gum Gum concluded that the jury was still out regarding the original author of the phrase.
Regardless, when I first heard the phrase, it sounded like something a detective or lawyer would say.
Sometimes we look at something and see it differently from someone else looking at the same thing at the same time.
Perhaps, this is the thinking behind the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” As far as I’m concerned, anything seen is in the eye of the beholder and, of course, that includes works of art and pictures.
When we look at pictures, we see images of people, places, or things. These pictures are records used to bring back memories about the Time the images were captured; Time we can only reminisce about.
However, when the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” came to mind, the distinction between seeing a Thing and Thinking about the Thing suddenly occurred to me.
It seemed to me that a picture could embody more than a thousand words, but what are those words?
The way I see it, a picture is the “Captor” of a precise Instant during the life of the person or persons in the photo. At the same time, it represents an entire Life filled with at least a million stories contained in an unfinished manuscript encompassing the total sum of knowledge and experiences lived up until that Instant.
In other words, a picture will always represent one’s entire life the instant the picture is taken. Therefore, if another picture is shot an instant later, it could not represent the same exact Life, right?
Who says the future has to be more than an instant later? It’s still the Future. Who says that the past has to be more than an instant ago? It’s still the Past.
Just in case you are thinking it, I am not splitting hairs here. I am though, splitting Life from Time as it elapses. In other words, I am splitting instances; the continuous and constant instant between Life and Death; the reality that we’re always living our entire lives in the Now; and how long is Now, of course, an instant?
I hope you get the picture. How about we enter as evidence, a picture, perhaps even a “selfie,” proving that indeed, Life lasts but an Instant?
By the way, if you have heard the words, Life Lasts but an Instant before now, please let me know where. Thank you.
Getting back to the word Day. I have substituted the word “day” for the word “Life”.
Now, when someone says to me, “Have a great or good day, I would respond, “Have a great “Life” and when I do, the expression in their faces looks like, “Wait, what? Then they get it, and smile with gratitude. They realized someone just expressed care about their life, and that doesn’t happen often enough.
However, when I say it, I am talking about their entire Life whether they realize it or not.
Try it next time. Bid someone a great life and you will see what I mean. It is not what we’re “accustomed” to hearing and that’s OK. Appreciation takes awareness and change takes Time.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the meaning behind saying, “Have a good or great day”. Still, I encourage you to start using the parting words, “Have a great Life”. Give them a try, if only to see the reactions you get. This is another idea, I think is, worth spreading.
Now, there is a condition under which to use these words. I only use them with people I don’t see or talk to on a regular basis, or others I may never talk to or see again.
Still, there is no wrong time to bid someone a great life. So, go ahead. Have a great Life.
Here are a couple other parting words I hear too often; words that trigger anticipation and makes me wonder why.
I’m talking about the words, “God bless”. Do you use these words? Have you been told these words? I hear them so often; I get the sense everyone is using them. Please help me understand why.
When someone tells me, “God bless” I ask myself, “Is this a fill-in-the-blank moment? Should I assume that the person asks God to bless “Me”?
Why not use the next instant and say the word “You”; “God bless you?” All it takes is one more word, one more syllable to say what you really mean if, that’s what you mean to say. If it is, say it! just say it! “God bless you”.
Is it that people think it is too religious to include the word You? Nonsense. Both words, God and You, are universally used. They are not unique to any one religion, and you, like me, deserve to be blessed. God bless you.
Now that I got that off my chest, I continue.
So far, I have yet to be told “Have a great Life” and when I am, perhaps by you, I would appreciate it. Thanx in advance.
Think about it. Telling someone to have a great “Life”, as they are living in the instance of their entire life, is to speak to the truth of their present and unfolding reality, not just this day.
Remember, we are always living our entire lives in the Now, when it is always Now O’ Clock.
From using words to execute contracts that are legally binding, to using them as keys or weapons, to heal, persuade, or to hurt, to bringing people together or to cause wars, to greet or to offer a mindful cue; words we use without thinking about what they mean, or how they should be used, show how much they matter.
However, I want to end with the one word I have written so many times, the same word we use all the time, the word I encourage you to start using in parting: the word Life.
“Have a great Life”, for “Life” is indeed a great word, a powerful word. It describes all that matters and parting with it, I believe, is another idea worth spreading.
It’s Now O’ Clock, have a great Life, and may God bless you.
In episode 6 I will talk about something I have never done before and have always avoided.
Meanwhile, visit my website, nowoclock.live. There you will find more original, positive, inspirational and thought-provoking content you can mind your mind with. Share what you find there and spread any idea you agree is worth spreading. There is something there as there was here, for almost everyone. I hope there was for you.