This blog site was prepared just before New Year’s Day of 2014 and a whole year slipped by as I busied myself with the daily pursuit of happiness, with too little time for reflection. I intend to change that in 2015. Here we are at Jan 1, 2015.
Do we not all stand on the shoulders of giants? I start this blog with a tribute to a giant in my own life. This was written in early December 2014, just four weeks ago.
1. You taught me to live consciously. That is, to see things as they are, to not bury my head in the sand, to not distort my view of reality with addictive mind-altering substances, to not delude myself about things and people that function erratically and irrationally outside the realm of my influence, to pay attention to outcomes (good or bad), to aspire to see the world as objectively as I possibly can, to bear a kind of “eyes-wide-open” witness to my own shortcomings and failures (as well as my successes).
2. You taught me to practise living with responsibility. That is, to recognize that I alone am responsible for my own happiness, that “no one is coming” to rescue me, that “no one is coming” to save me from myself, that “no one is coming” to give me the life of my dreams.
3. You taught me to be self-accepting. That is, to recognize that I am to be a “work-in-progress” for my entire life, that I should be gentle and forgiving with myself as I am with others, that I must first accept my shortcomings before I can eliminate them. As an extension of this, you also taught me to be sympathetic and accepting toward others since everyone is carrying some hidden burden despite all outward appearances to the contrary.
4. You taught me to live purposely. That is, to envision my end-goals and set a course of action to achieve them. To break unwieldy projects into smaller more manageable tasks. To pursue rational outcomes that will make the world better and my life in it richer. To engage the world through action and displace all passivity with a self-formulated, self-directed, pursuit of happiness.
5. You taught me to live with integrity. That is, to engage in actions that are consistent with my beliefs and words. To, align my behaviours to make them resonate and harmonize with the values I profess.
6. You taught me to live assertively. That is, to form strong opinions that flow from my core values and then state my positions with clarity, strength and confidence. To, not cower behind fears of the judgement or grimaces or rejections of others. To not be bullied or coerced into doing or saying or believing things that contradict my underlying philosophy. To have the backbone to swim against the streams of popular opinion if necessary, when my own mind sees an alternative or even contrarian position. To avoid the futile, cowardly and manipulative allure of passive-aggressive responses where simple forthright admonitions would be more effective and becoming of my idealized self.
You helped me to see that consistently applying the above six practices would strengthen my life and give me six clearly defined pillars on which to build. You suggested that this life, right here on earth is the true dream kingdom, that we ought not squander one single day of our time in this kingdom.
When I first read your words 25 years ago, I was intrigued by their wisdom. You became a hero to me in a world in short supply of heroes. From afar, you replaced the idealized father figure I lost when my own dad and granddad died when I was a child. When I met you in Toronto, Washington, and San Francisco I was mesmerized by your cohesive views and sensible adherence to logic. When you answered my emails, I felt that I had successfully learned your outlook well enough to be a kind of mirror to what you sought to inspire in yourself and others. When you graciously hosted me at your Beverly Hills apartment, you smiled warmly as I thanked you for your insightful words and fatherly advice.
Your influence on my life has been a series of pivot points leading me (mostly) progressively on a track toward happiness and contentment. The good life I now live validates my best attempt to apply your excellent words.
And, so, on this day of your passing at the age of 84, I thank you for being a kind of surrogate or accidental “long-distance” father and grandfather to me. That you could see the world as it is AND as it ought to be, then convey such ideals to others so effectively, was a remarkable achievement by you.
Thank you for helping me to pursue extraordinary competence in life and thank you for helping me to recognize that I am worthy of all of life’s rewards.
May your words outlive you for years to come.
RIP Nathaniel Branden “Official” Page of Brampton Ontario, New York City and Beverly Hills California