The life we're living here is very short. It's meant to be enjoyed. We can choose otherwise, but I will argue against that, and try to convince you to take the brighter road. Once you've really found it, you won't want to be anywhere else.


In the beginning, when we're young, we may choose a path for ourselves that somebody else has recommended, perhaps because of tradition or family obligation. We want success and prosperity, but we want to be happy doing something we enjoy. That's the best best possible reason to choose. Sometimes we choose our lifestyle, habits, and actions for the worst of all possible reasons: because "Everybody does it." Because "everybody" slides through stop signs, and guns the accelerator at the yellow light (which used to be the signal to slow down.) That's how it begins. But when we sell out our integrity in little things, other things are bound to follow.


Whatever path we take will always lead to another, and another; that's how life is. There will be many forks in the road. But where you go is never as important as how you go. You have not only the right , but also the responsibility, to choose for yourself the paths that are true and joyful. If you want real success in life, Go honestly and go joyfully as much as you possibly can.


If something is habitually troubling you, whether it's a hurt or sadness, disappointment, resentment, anger, or a need for perfection (from yourself or anyone else) give it up and let it go. If you don't, either you will internalize your negative emotions and hurt yourself, or you will externalize them and fear, resent, hate, or act destructively toward someone or something you perceive as "other." ALL of the violence in our world is rooted in fear, jealousy, greed, or anger.


At this time in our history, all over the world violence is literally the fashion of our times. Ninety-five percent of our movies, TV shows and TV commercials are loaded with extreme violence – dangerous, reckless car driving, crashes, fires and explosions, even just to advertise things like cars, household cleaners, cell phones and children's toys. The Media does this because that's what people are "buying into." You don't have to follow the fad; you have a choice. You can simply not buy that. Whatever we stop supporting, responding to, and buying into, will die out on it's own. We won't have to kill it or go to war with it. Violence is a reaction to inner conflicts that we externalize, where they multiply. You have the power and the right to choose something else.


We've all heard the expression "Don't get mad; get even." There is a better way - get clear, and get clean. Any time you believe you must do something because of what someone else did, you are not clear. You are buying into the deadly illusion and the endless circle of hatred, pain, and self destruction. Do you really want that?


If you are caught in that circle, you have the right and the power to step out, and choose differently. Refuse the ego's demands for "getting even." In this world we can never "get even" because there is never a last word or a final action; it goes on and on. In this world there are two basic choices: We can go along with the swarm and "everybody's" madness, or we can choose, as Maryanne Wiliams said so well, to "Rise above the battlefield" .


Our lives are stressed not just by the healthy energy of living our own lives, but also by a load of beliefs and values we carry that are not even our own, and we may not even realize we're carrying them. They have been transferred onto us by our parents, our personal/professional peers, or "society" and we have never really questioned them to see if they are valid for us – for who and what we want to be.


Things like prejudices. We all have them. Little ones, big ones. We're infected with these in childhood, and exposed to them like deadly bacteria throughout our adult lives. Many of our unconsciously-held beliefs are constantly creating an undercurrent of conflicts with what we consciously feel and believe. Root them out; usually they prove to be just useless baggage, like bricks in the backpack. Travel light – Choose and commit to letting each brick go.

One of life's most common and difficult challenges comes from the conflict between "what I should be" and "what I am." This is a universally unwinnable conflict because: most of us do not really know for sure What and Who we really are. The seeking of that knowledge alone is enough work for a lifetime. And the question of what we should be is a non-valid question to even ask. Since we already are what we are, that means What We Are, for better or for worse, is true and valid. It has come from inside of us, from the Source, this Soul, our own essence. And all the "shoulds" come from outside. Instead what we should be asking is: Who and What do I want to be?


We can change anything about ourselves, if we ourselves truly want to. But trying to do it because we think we should, simply doesn't work. How can we know what to do or to be? Turn off the shoulds, and look inside of your own heart, where nobody else sees or you, where the truest, deepest part of you is, and listen.


Tune-out the ego mind and tune-in to the gentler, quieter voice of your soul and spirit. Be sure this is the voice you're listening to – the ego-mind will be always be louder, very pushy, clever, stubborn, and relentless. The ego loves shoulds, excuses, side trips, switch-backs, detours, and obstacles. These will be entertaining, and clamor for your attention. And will coax you to stay your same-old same-old.


But if you really want to live your best life right here and right now, you'll have to tune-in to the truth, unclouded by your ego and the egos of the world. Seek and find that "still small voice within" and consider deeply what it tells you about yourself and your life. It will always cut through the clutter and tell you the truth. It may take time, some asking and listening, and some gut-level honestywith yourself, but you will recognize the truth when you hear it. There will not be any doubt, even though what it tells you may frequently, profoundly, surprise you, and very often it will not be what you wanted to hear.


You may find (as I have, more than once) that after years of work, dedication, and even love, that there are some rules you have lived by in the past, built with good intentions, whose foundation is not grounded in your soul. Sooner or later they must fall; you don't have to fall with them.


Who You Are is changing, by your own personal growth, and by the process of living a life. What You Are needs to make some matching changes, or else it will become more and more uncomfortable, even painful, until you do. There is always an inner resistance to change. It's not easy. Habits powerfully rooted in you, do not want to let go


You stand now at the the path, looking inward, and looking out. Each day of your life is a fork in the road. Before you chose which road to take, lighten your load; leave behind what you don't need, and what you've outgrown. Everything that is heavy and useless, just drop it by the side of the road. You don't need to be like "everybody." You're not, and you nnever were. You are unique in the universe, and that is the simple truth.


Take the Higher Way, the road less-traveled. It's wide open to you. Set the course for Who You Are to move forward to Who You Will Be, your Best Yet-To-Come.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog. Darkhorse Press New Poets