Gifting Dignity to the Invisible and Downtrodden

Janitor … yes but that’s not ALL he is.

You step into a lift (airport, hotel, office complex) and there’s only one person in it, but they recoil into a corner of the lift, instinctively making themselves smaller as if wishing themselves to become invisible or that of the walls of the lift could open up and swallow them. The typical body language is drooped shoulders, eyes cast down and unable to make and keep eye contact.

I have seen some variation of this in more than 30 different countries, they are those who our society’s materialistic value system puts into the caste of the “untouchables” – those people whom the court of public opinion has judged as unsuccessful because they typically are not making enough money that they can’t afford not to work menial jobs like cleaning toilets, public places or wait on tables. Quite often, we act as mindless agents of the public mirror by not acknowledging these people, giving them the same attention we’d give an ordinary piece of furniture in a very familiar room.

The tragedy is that too many of them (there are always exceptions and interacting with these exceptional ones is always a lesson in enlightenment) have bought the judgement and so live desperately tiny lives, resenting that which they do and instinctively making themselves invisible in the presence of those they judge more ‘successful’. Don’t be fooled, sometimes the racist arrogance of a white cleaner or waiter comes from exactly the same place as that which makes the black janitor recoil (or becomes irritatingly ebullient) when you enter the lift – a sense of inferiority beaten into them by a society whose major metric of success is financial/material wealth.

While we may not be able to do anything to make them ‘rich’ overnight, we can start by giving them the gift of DIGNITY! How? here are some of the practices I engage in when I encounter such people:

(a) GREET them with RESPECT: It means you look them in the eyes when you say “good morning” and smile! I am usually an unsmiling person but because this is important to me, I make the effort to smile. While not something I prescribe to everyone, I also bow because its a sign of respect in my tradition. While vacationing at a resort recently, one of the waitresses asked me “Why is someone like you bowing to the lowly people like us?” (tells you a lot about how she she is usually treated and has come to expect to be treated by guests at such places). We had a short, genuine, light-hearted chat which essentially came to “it’s something I was raised to do. You can imagine how my already great stay at the establishment became (but that’s NOT the point).

(b) TIP them APPROPRIATELY: It is not so much how much you give, it is the attitude with which you do so. Again, when tipping, look them in the eye, and without using words, thank them for the service they just rendered. There’s this norm that you always tip 10% — I totally abhor it it and refuse to live by it. If the service is bad, I absolutely will not tip. If the service is great, I will tip and 10% is not the limit.

Appropriate tipping is important because it usually involves the exchange of money – the very thing that is used to define ‘them’ as inferior to you. So if your attitude as you give re-enforces that dynamic that “I am better than you because I can afford to tip you” or that “this money is a big deal to you but nothing to me” – it is akin to insulting them. Giving your customary 10% tip or even a 100% tip dismissively or with a frown is just as useless when it comes to raising the spiritual energy of the encounter.

(c) TREAT them with DIGNITY: It is the simple things that all well-brought up, enlightened and dignified people do. Thinks like saying “Please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse me”, calling people by their names, turning to face and look at them when they come to your table to take your order, smiling, apologizing when you realize you’ve been rude to them and so on. There are a thousand small behaviours that show you are treating someone with dignity. If in doubt, treat them somehow like you would when your mother/wife/girlfriend or father/husband/boyfriend serves you. (I am Cameroonian and when am home, my mother serves me – and of course I adore her). Of course they are not your mother/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend but that should give you an indication of appropriateness – when your mum brings you food, you don’t continue chatting on the phone and not say “Thank you mum” now do you? (ok, if you there’s a special place in hell, run by nazis just for you.)

(d) SHOW GRATITUDE in your SPEECH: aka say “Thank You” and mean it. Your attitude (smile) and your behavior (turn and face them when addressing them, hold the door for the ladies – yes even the cleaning lady, buy some good chocolate for no one in particular and give it as a surprise to that cleaning lady that is looking gloomy) should be consistent with your words for your gratitude to be genuine.

Just remember that “janitor”, “waiter” , “cleaner” etc or whatever lowly title they may bear at that point is NOT their entire story. They are also a father’s daughter, a mother’s son, somebody’s mother, father, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, and even mentor but more importantly at that moment, they are offering a service that makes your life more comfortable.

So you thank them, in word and deed for the clean sheets and fresh towels you use thanks to their hard work. Thank them for the clean rooms and bathrooms, the clean toilets at airports and the assistance with heavy bags at checkin. If you want to get an idea of just how much thanks you should give them, take good notice when you go to a hotel with poor service, dirty toilets and bathrooms etc.

Bear this in mind …these are also “Ladies and gentlemen SERVING ladies and gentlemen. So will you please act like a LADY or GENTLEMAN by acknowledging that?

That’s how people of perfexcellence, that’s how warriors of light behave and these light up am ember in their hearts and spirit and also builds humility in us. Humility is never a bad thing! and only the truly enlightened are capable of showing and living it instinctively.

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And God Spoke …Self Mastery Test #X

self master classroom

Bivouac camp in Sahara desert / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“So my son ..you want to learn self mastery?

I see how much you’ve been writing about it and trying

Ok, I’ll give you a helping hand

I’ll get you into a classroom

I’ll take you on a 20 hour flight from a city with sub-zero temperatures

Then land you in a city with an average temperature of 40 degrees centigrade in the evening

I’ll put you in a hotel with standards beneath other hotels you usually complain about

Oh and since you are always complaining about bad food,

I’ll make sure your choices in food for once justify your whining

Class duration is nine days, and you can’t get out of class

And did I mention that you can’t count on the Internet or phones

Let’s see ….

If you can still maintain your calm in that heat

If you can bring mindfulness to help you deal with a room in which the window faces an drab high wall

If under these circumstances, you can still be courteous to people you think you don’t need anything from

If you can still find something to be grateful for in each one of these days

If you can do these, then you will have learnt something about self mastery!

So, do you still want to continue on this path?”

Day 1: I screamed, kicked and was foul all day – I reaped lost of misery. I called someone special, spoke for a while and returned to my self pity.

Day 2: I kicked, screamed and made an emotional cocktail of anger and resentment, all brewed in blazing hot desert sun.

And so it went, anger, sorrow, disappointment, anguish and then when I had experienced all that was negative, on Day 6 I felt calm (I’d just taught a class of 40+ network engineers in a steaming hot room and their eagerness to learn was so great I forgot about the inconveniences). I became self aware and then the magic started and continued till Day 9

People went out of their way to make me happy. They did not have the traditional goodies to give but what they gave, they gave with all of their hearts, they gave me with love and I felt it. I connected and felt really good insides (God must have smiled … ‘you are not so thick-headed after all’. The best part was left for last … I beheld a sight I had thought I needed to travel to the United States and some big museum to see –  a full skeleton of two kinds of dinosaur!! (yes I am a geek …that stuff amazes me). Imagine a crocodile whose skeleton is taller than a truck and that is more as long as a tanker!

Dinosaur skeletons in Niamey - Niger

Final lesson? – once you put your ego in its place (take attention away from yourself) and be in the moment, the world usually presents you a amazing bouquet of breath-taking gifts … of beauty, of simplicity, of elegance.

Thread Softly …for You Might be Threading on Someone’s Dreams

I was going to say I don’t know what to call these experiences I get sometimes when it downed on me that is was a moment of Shibumi — a moment of profound insight, truth and an ideal coming to life in a poignant way.

I was listening to a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson …and of course his usual wit and humour was great, but at the end, he quoted the poet Yates and my heart almost stopped beating, and for a moment, Yates, Ken and I were linked in the deep beauty of words so profound they are timeless, so true they don’t need to be explained or defended and so beautiful they almost made a cold geek like me cry (sob sob). The words were these:

“Had I the heavens embroidered cloth

En-robbed with gold and silver light of blue

And the dim and the dark clothes of night and light and half-light

I would spread the cloths under your feet

But I being poor have only my dreams

I have spread my dreams under your feet

Thread softly, for your thread on my dreams“

The magic lines for me are the last two lines. The magical thing about profound words like these is their ability to thread various moments of space and time into a string of utter and breathless amazement. Just as I wrote this, I recall that in one of my favourite movies “Equilibrium” this same quote is used by a character, a quote which when he read, made him question his life and job and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sir Ken Robinson used those words to caution us that children all over the world spread their dreams under the feet of an educational system and that we (as part of that system) should thread softly.

Simultaneously, I made the link to what happens in countless organisations all over the world, excited employees walk into a job and spread their dreams under the feet of managers and I say to managers every where … thread softly, for you thread on their dreams.

Every day, other people put their hopes, their faith, their trust, expose their egos/fears/dreams and all sorts of priceless things under our feet and so we must be careful how we proceed for all our actions bear consequences.

While I don’t think that people on the path of light should let their dreams be trampled upon, I also realise that for the majority of us, there are those moments of vulnerability – at work, in love, at play in which for whatever reason, we spread our dreams under someone’s feet and how they thread has the potential to scar us forever or elevate our dreams to a reality so beautiful it seems like fantasy and lasts an eternity in a moment.

Every day in your life, you too could be threading on someone’s dreams, what will you be? the one who shatters the dream to feed your own ego? -aka an Agent of Dispair or that one who nurtures the the dream to life and in so doing creates another nurturer?

Thanks to the following who have thread carefully on my dreams: Mum, Nubed Isaac, Nji George, Fortung Amos, Acha Nicholas, Augusta Bah Fon (RIP), Rose Adejoh, Susan Okpapi, Omotola Anna Ogunsote, Iliya Yusuf Joshua, Danjuma Dajab, Boyi Jimoh, Makut Fuki, Dahiru Sani, Tanyi Henry, Tanjong Helen, Amina Ogrima, Bukky Babalola, Wale Adedokun, Mosi Mosugu, Nurudeen Ibrahim Suleiman, Kabiru Chafe,

My ‘ekigai’ – Why I Wake Up Every Morning!!

“To master a bit of more of myself every day, so I might give it to the service of humanity, as an instrument of peace to the glory of God“ – Mukom Akong

This was one of those things (revelations? realisations) I had in the early morning of 3rd January 2011 when I couldn’t sleep. I got there because I still am always asking myself that question “what specific thing did God create me to do on this earth?“ – an old question I have been asking for some time (still no crystal clear answers yet).

I first heard the word “ekigai” from TEDster Dan Buettner during his brilliant TED talk “How to Live to be 100+” in which he pointed out from research that one of the things common to people who live long is – “ a personal sense of purpose” and for a Japanese community he studied, their name for that personal sense of purpose is called “Ekigai “, which is an Okinawan word meaning “the reason I wake up every morning”. When I heard that, it resonated so deeply with me in the spirit of purpose not as some big grand goal or ideal in your head but one that is all pervasive and helps focus you day by day, moment by moment.

Just think of the following days in your life:

  • Your first day at school.
  • The starting day of a favourite project of yours.
  • Your wedding day (ok, not being married, I can’t relate anything original here, except what I have heard and observed)

Was that day boring? most probably not, and I will submit that the reason these days were fulfilling (not necessarily beds of roses) was that you woke up that day with a reason for waking up that day. Those days for me include days I am to start teaching a new class, the day I am to start learning a new skill. But there is something just plain magical about having that daily sense of purpose that makes you jump out of the bed, with praise in your heart, a dance in step, a twinkle in your eye and anticipation to DO something. And I am one of those who knows and believes in as much as we watch our thoughts carefully to lead better lives, better lives only actually materialise when we DO those beautiful things that we have conceived and those that are revealed to us in the spontaneity of a spiritual moment of enlightenment.

And so in the early hours of that morning, I stumbled on my ekigai

“To master a bit of more of myself every day, so I might give it to the service of humanity, as an instrument of peace to the glory of God“

As I reflect on why this ekigai resonated so deeply with my spirit, I realise that it is because it resonates with something else I have come to realise in my awareness practice – that you can’t give that which you don’t own or master. Our ego is always grabbing our resources – emotional, physical, spiritiual etc to feed itself, the only resources you can give to humanity (in terms of service, compassion, helping etc) are those that you have freed from the grasp of the ego’s needs. Why an instrument of peace? …because “instrument of peace” is a phrase from St Francis’ famous prayer that struck and continues to strike a deep cord in my spirit, (“lord make me an instrument of thy peace“) and as succeed at these acts of mastering a bit more of my self, my preferred form of service is to be an instrument of peace, wherever I find myself. And where I succeed in being an instrument of peace, I will give God the glory for I am always conscious of the fact that such success is it is not due solely to my capability alone (not even from self mastery) …but due to luck and God’s help, for I am sure there are others who will bring more human effort to it and still not succeed.

And you, what is your ekigai?

Seek Greatness, and Fame will also be Yours

I was listening to Mark Sanborn’s “You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader” and he said these lines that got me meditating about my life and the collective values of our society.

“Fame is based on what you get out of life, greatness is based on what you give to life”
WOW!!! and I wondered within me, what have I been seeking to do with my life? I believe that most people’s definition of success has connotations of fame or riches in it but I believe in a deeper kind of success … the Shibumi kind and it is quite simply success that is based on greatness, on what you contribute to make this world a better place. One of my favourite authors Stephen Covey puts it puts it in a way that says you can be successful but not significant [can’t remember the exact quote]

No, I don’t think fame in itself is a bad thing [often, the famous have made great sacrifices to earn their fame eg as musicians, footballers etc], but because it is something that appeals to the ego and increases our sense of self and I, I inherently suspect it because it could easily lead to arrogance and avalanche of other vices that come when we let our ego go unbridled. Fame will always be hollow, shallow and dangerous unless it is earned through greatness ie we spend a life of sacrifice and giving to others and then the world rewards us with fame [Like Ghandi, Mandela, Mother Theresa] … but exactly at that point is when the greatest danger to our spiritual evolution and growth comes.

In a way, getting fame as a reward for greatness could be the ultimate test of our spirituality. This is because fame lures the mean and weak into self exaltation, we start thinking how special we are rather than see that perhaps we were priviledged to have had a higher power [GOD] work through us [Remember Moses drawing God’s ire when he struck the rock to bring out water seemingly by his own power?]

So consistent with my philosphy that everything is a journey and or process, fame then can be seen as a bigger challenge that one must face in the quest for self mastery and perfection. First is all the work we must do within to purify ourselves, learn master and practice the right principles. Then as we get a bearing, we continue on that path, AND also start making contributions to society to help others and make a positive contribution in the world and if we are good at the latter, the reward then is the burden of fame which is a battle on the personal front.

May we find the strength to be able to tame the lure of fame as we grow in our self mastery and that perhaps one day, we may overcome it like the monk in “Bullet-proof Monk” by giving up our name!

Humility – the Foundation of Self Mastery

I used to be a very arrogant person and I actually loved it and took glory in my arrogance (if you can imagine such stupidity). But as I have delved outside my traditional professional interests in to leadership and management education, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know and right now, even though I am not as humble as I would like to be (like my brother Nanga Tata TAMON or my classmate Nzube Okechukwu for example), I no longer think it is cool to be arrogant and proud and I just wonder – what was it I was, had or knew that made me so arrogant? Essentially, I believe arrogance is the belief that you are better than other people, a side effect (I call it intellectual arrogance) is that you think what you don’t know isn’t important.

 
It is easy to see how the ego is the source of arrogance and pride because anytime you come across someone who is better (by whatever metric you used to judge yourself better) than you, your ego is bruised – you feel inferior to that person and those feelings can spawn anything from envy, jealousy and resentment to outright hatred. Humility is a characteristic of those that have achieved personal mastery because as intelligent (in a whole sense) as they are, they realize how little they know of what abounds. With the realization that I am not the centre of the universe (egocentrism) but a node in its mesh comes the understanding that other nodes (people) in the mesh have a unique perspective of our common reality that is uniquely theirs and that the totality of our perspectives is more accurate than each individual perspective on its own.

 
Much of the pain I have suffered in my life – especially as an employee resulted from pride and arrogance (‘who is he to order me around?’, ‘how dare he ask me to make him tea?!’, ‘hey, I am better at this than Mr X, so why hasn’t this project been assigned to me?’, etc etc). But it is in being humble that one can transcend such pettiness and learn the lessons that every situation in life has to offer. I remember right after university, I worked for this company where I had a big title with very little substance associated with it. For starters, for almost six months, my office was a public corridor where everyone passed on his way to see the CEO – in fact if you came in there and had to describe who I was, ‘Secretary’ or ‘Personal Assistant’ [professions I considered an insult for someone of my intelligence and education, especially personal assistant to some … I’ll spare you the description] was a more apt description. Initially, I resented it but soon lost myself in learning other things that it didn’t matter eventually. I would enter whatever I was doing at that time and thus transcend my immediate environment into a world of beauty, of wisdom, of understanding and insight, free from the vice and pettiness that mar my current reality as perceived through my ego – this world could be in a book I was reading, a presentation I was creating, or even a proposal I was developing. Another slight that I experienced was professional – as an electrical engineer who is very proficient in information technology, I considered it a slight when the management saw my function essentially as that of cloning and repairing computers. To understand why I found this disgusting, you need to understand that I was an expert at these things four years before and I had advanced to wireless network design and Internetworking – thus I found the current jobs at best mundane and something to be done by less competent people (- please note here that the managerial problem of matching the person to the job did exist and I am not making an apology for such a failure, just saying that with enough humility, I could have seen it differently and thus would have borne it more gracefully). Had I not checked my ego, I wouldn’t have lasted in that job and I would have missed the chance to learn all the amazing things I later learned there.

 
In humility, I found the most potent weapon in dealing with megalomaniacs in positions of authority – that has proven to be a lifesaver because I believe we have too many megalomaniacs running institutions from university classrooms (lecturers), departments (HoDs), faculties (Deans) and organizations (CEOs and other managers) and God help us in our homes (parents stuck in ‘during our days’ syndrome)! A truly humble person focuses on the effects of his actions on a system and in terms of his long term goals and not how he is treated in a given moment. I recall once I lectured for about twelve hours in one week for which I knew I wasn’t going to be paid – but I saw it as a service, a sacrifice, a contribution to an organization that needed it then. I remained completely detached from any rewards from the organization and despite working under terrible work conditions; I had fun and presented a wonderful image and delivered immense value to our clients.

 

It is no doubt that humility is a core requirement of both emotional and spiritual intelligence. I can say that learning to be humble increased my knowledge and understanding ten-fold because it enabled me to listen within the speaker’s frame of reference – that way; I gained a better understanding of a common situation by seeing it from a different perspective. Needless to say, I made more friends and even some ‘enemies’ became my friends – genuine humility speaks for itself – people can see it in you and most people just can’t resist it.

 
Being humble means not thinking that we are superior to anyone, when humility drives self mastery, then we get the other part – not feeling inferior to anyone either. Without humility, we can’t practice detachment, we can’t give others the freedom to be themselves (required for good relationships), and we can’t serve, love selflessly or even do charity. Without humility, we can’t respect those less fortunate that we are (by whatever metric we are using) for as someone said (sorry I can’t remember who) “LOVE focuses on giving to others, RESPECT shows a willingness to receive from them. It acknowledges another person’s potential and ability to contribute” – Now you see why so much of charity is not wholesome, it takes humility to accept a gift from a poorer person, from a refugee, or to sit at the feet of someone who isn’t as intelligent as you are to learn – that is the path that leads to self mastery, to excellence and to practical perfection.

 
I remember once after telling some people about how learning to be humble had transformed my life and a director at a former employer told me ‘But Tamon, I think you are still arrogant!’ to which I looked her in the eye, calmly and confidently replied ‘You see ma’am, humility to me is not some goal or target to achieve, it is an endless journey’. And that journey is at the heart and soul of personal mastery, the journey is an end in itself and when you choose to walk it, every step you take, every choice you make, every thought you think, every word you say like every breath you draw is wholesome with live, with love, with understanding, with joy and peace despite failings, disappointments, guilt and other lessons that we misconstrue as failure. Welcome to the path, you don’t need to know where it leads, if it were to end here, your journey would have been worthwhile – because in the final analysis the end (perfection, excellence) and the means (self mastery) are one.

Self Mastery-What it Means to Me


In my personal mission statement, my first priority in life is self mastery which I briefly define as ‘an endless journey in completely refining my character‘. Almost everyone I come close to comes to know that I have a huge desire to achieve self mastery even more than the desire for professional mastery. Of recent, due to interactions with some people very close to my heart, it has become necessary to define expansively for myself what self mastery is. This necessity stems from the fact that these dear ones think it is selfish to desire and seek self mastery the way I do. It really hurt me to hear that but it could mean one of two things – they either don’t understand what self mastery is – from my perspective, which means that maybe I haven’t taken the time to communicate clearly to them (and perhaps to myself?) what it is and what it entails or it could be that from the way they see me living my life in pursuit of self mastery – the means are wrong so they question the end.
First, what is self mastery? Self mastery for me is the ability to live a full, wholesome life in every single moment. When my responses are spontaneous but not reckless, when I make the right decisions effortlessly, when I can love unconditionally and when my decisions are guided by a well developed and continuously developing conscience instead of my ego, I consider that ‘living in the moment’ or as is better rendered in French ‘la vie dans chaque soufle’ i.e. ‘life in every breath’. Self mastery means that I have learnt to be driven by my emotions under the guidance of my conscience and this happens transparently through my intellectual/rational mind.

Why self mastery?
Right now, I believe that my purpose in life is to live the full potential of all the unique characteristics that God gave me and in doing so, contribute to the realization of a world governed by virtue. I want to know the Truth and I want to know God because these two are one to me, I desire to be excellent in everything I choose to do and achieve such excellence naturally and effortlessly. The problem is this –

  1. What are those unique characteristics that God has given me?

  2. What are my talents? How many of them have I identified?

  3. What is the vision or visions that align with this purpose? What does wanting to live ‘the full potential of all unique characteristics given to me by God …’ translate to from day to day, from relationship to relationship, from home to work?

  4. How can I be sure that I have chosen the right professional track to follow and I am not being driven within by greed or some version of the social mirror?
These issues essentially stand in my way to living the life I desire – the life of effortless perfection, of selfless service to other human beings, of loving unconditionally – one woman romantically or on an unromantic level, the people I come in contact with. I have come to accept that as long as I am driven by my ego, I will always be too selfish to give myself to anyone else – either in love or in service to humanity, I will never know Truth and God because my ego will keep me focused on ME – not even the divinity within me but on the pettiness, on satisfying the short term needs of my body, on my vanity etc. In a nutshell, to the extent that all my resources have been freed from under the grip of my ego and its petty wants and desires, to that extent can I give of myself to serve selflessly, to love unconditionally and to seek Truth. To that extent can I see myself not as THE centre of reality but as A centre or node in the mesh of reality, to that extent will I not fear uncertainty and to that extent will I really succeed as a being created in the image of God. I believe that the little of myself I can give now is that part that I have torn off from the grip of my ego. So self mastery is that journey – never a goal or objective that will liberate more and more of ME from the vicious grip of my ego and its petty needs so I can focus on listening to the voice of my conscience, of empathizing and listening to others within their own frame of reference, of seeing myself as a player on a team and in so doing be more accessible to SEEING reality [that part of truth that I can and have experienced or am experiencing] – that which is a fusion of my perspective and other people’s perspectives.

What does self mastery entail?
In practice it starts with continuously refining my vision and defining my reality – the disparity between these two offers creative tension which I must overcome in making the vision my reality and as I approach that vision, to refine and set another one according to the feedback that I get on my quest. First, I want to take full responsibility for my life, my actions, I want to choose and refine my own value system, one that I can live with but that as much as I can understand is aligned with right principles. This value system will be the framework by which I deal with the world and reality, in essence the code that can be said to some extent to dictate what I will do in every single circumstance. Self mastery entails unravelling layer upon layer of my ego and replacing those layers with my conscience. It entails learning to be humble, to respect other people and give them the right to be – to accept them as they are now in this moment. Self mastery also entails mastery of whatever it is I love to do in life – teaching executives in Kaduna Business School, developing new modules for executive education programmes, analysing and designing computer networks, cultivating a garden or even making love. I dream of making every act I do a creative one that gives me utmost satisfaction and in which I can lose myself.

To ensure that my quest for self mastery does not become some vain pursuit of a mere dream that is ultimately doomed because of its narrow perspective, I maintain self-awareness – being here in this moment at all times, I also proactively seek feedback by really listening to other people, to the circumstances around me and trying to put them in perspective with what I already know. Humility guarantees that when I come across Truth, I will bow to it and abandon all the values I used to have a strong conviction of.

Now the big question:

What will I sacrifice on this quest for self mastery?
well at a personal level, I have and continue to sacrifice my ego and right now, I have no regrets about my quest. I will sacrifice everything and everyone in this quest because it is the only thing I know now that I must do. I won’t be so arrogant as to say this quest, this journey is THE right quest/journey – I can’t say that because of how little I can know or understand but I can say here and now with total confidence that given what I do know and understand, it is what I must do. Even if it is wrong, I believe that it is a lesson I am meant to learn and learn it I will. Perhaps those dear ones, those values that I will sacrifice along the way – the pain that will result when I do may well bring a new perspective of life that will make me change the journey but until then – I am happy to make this journey. I must make this journey because I and the journey, like the dream or goal are one. To dream is an expression of my divinity – it means I can create in my mind the world I want – without the dream, there’s no journey from my reality towards it. I chose my journey after a deep reflection and I keep refining it every moment I get new understanding – my journey reflects my values, my principles and in essence my journey is more an authentic representation of me than what I do which is a snapshot in time and space. I and my journey are one and so without a dream, without a journey leading to that dream, there’s no functional me. Right here, right now, I believe this with all my heart, mind, body and spirit – that is why I am willing to sacrifice everything for it. May God’s grace be upon me.