Fishing For Soul

Angling for Spiritual Reconnection

Archive for friendship

Fun Not Fear


As I walked along 5th Avenue from 96th St. to Central Park North in Manhattan last night talking on the phone with someone from college I’d seen earlier in the day for the first time in 20 years, the message “There is so much life to be lived” kept running through my head. Sharing memories with Carole, who I reconnected with via Facebook, made me laugh and remember how much fun we had as silly, confused, searching, 18-22 year-old students. YES! We had fun! Perhaps it didn’t all seem that way at the time, but we can choose now to focus on the fun and not the drama we created.

When I hung up the phone I walked into the subway station and waited for my train. I pulled out my iPod and hit ‘shuffle’. A dance tune came on and I began to sing quietly and move my feet to the beat. “Why don’t you dance, right here, right now?” I dared myself. Thinking about my Radical Openness policy and a commitment to do something Radically Unusual once a day, I started to dance, slowly and self-consciously at first, and then I just closed my eyes and let the rhythm consume me. Spinning around on the subway platform I again heard “There is so much life to be lived.”

When the #3 train came I hopped on and sat down. The next song on my iPod was a slow one by Patty Griffin called Heavenly Day. The song is about focusing on what is beautiful right here, right now. Again the message came, “There is so much life to be lived.” I thought about my dream of moving to a warmer climate, near the beach, on the west coast, of taking chances, of stepping more fully into the life I want. “There is so much life to be lived. How much fun do you want to have?”


Melea Seward is a great people connector and genius idea generator who has been teaching me a lot about blogging, Facebook, storytelling, and following an impulse. She recently introduced me to a project she’s involved with called Fun Not Fear. She said, “Check it out. You’ll like it. It’s your kind of thing.” So I checked it out. I like it. It’s my kind of thing. The Fun Not Fear web site says: “With the ‘fun not fear’ Facebook campaign, we are combating the culture of fear with good news, good acts and a focus on the importance of everyday creativity. The goal is to have 1,234,567 Facebook members participating by April 1, 2009.” How perfect. I’m holding that Fun Not Fear concept close to my heart as I move into this next phase of life’s incredible journey. Thanks Melea!

Now here’s a challenge: Can you find one fun, upbeat, positive thing to discuss or do today? Start by joining the Fun Not Fear campaign, . Go ahead. I dare you. There is so much life to be lived. Have fun, not fear. And if you find that fear comes up, do what someone recommended to me the other day: Do it afraid. (a quote from Dr. Joyce Meyer)

Have a heavenly day (and lots of fun!).


Today’s links:

The Healing Power of Facebook (and time), Part 2


“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else
leaves you powerless to change your experience.
Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.”
~ Byron Katie ~

Why do we sometimes wait so long to make amends to ourselves and others? Is it because we are busy taking care of other things and we get distracted? Is it that we don’t want to look at the dark, scary stuff? Or is it that we don’t truly realize what ails us until something comes along and forces the issue? For many of us, Facebook has forced the issue.

Roll back the years and meet your former self! You’ve just become Facebook Friends with your long forgotten high school pals! Or were they your pals? It may be time to find out. Let Facebook (and time) help you!

Here’s what some readers discovered:

“I was what “I thought” not so fabulous in high school. Boy have I changed and grown and healed ..Also, I have had many apologies given to me here on Facebook from people who have changed as well. It’s beautiful and I am full of gratitude.”

“I think it’s very cool to revisit our former selves. I wonder what we can teach each other.”

“I started getting friend requests from college friends…then high school friends. I was still pretty insecure about asking people to be my friend on FB. I felt like a skinny nerd in HS and thought I could reinvent myself in college… I am now addicted to reconnecting with old friends – and am overcoming my insecurities.”

“One of the aspects that I am surprised and delighted by is that I am coming to know some people who were just on the margins of my view back then. Now I am seeing them in a new light and loving it. And maybe people are seeing me differently, too.”

“FB really does heal . The wounds of time vanish more if completely. I had the same kind of experience recently with someone from senior year h.s. who hit me up as a friend. We all felt separate, weird, in our own ways. It took me right back and I was able to bridge a gap that I haven’t looked at in a while.”

“To see all these faces, some I knew very well in junior and senior high and some I didn’t, and to have discussions with all these people who helped to shape who I am today has been wonderful.”

Two weeks ago I posted the first part of this story. The night I wrote Part One I was aware that I just might be having a cathartic experience. I signed off on the post and went to bed feeling quite vulnerable. I woke up feeling more so. Then the responses started coming in and my fears began to wash away. Hey, I’m no longer the skinny, misunderstood, confused, tortured guy I thought I was in 1984. After many years of spiritual studies and practice I know that my thoughts about myself created that reality. I could never have known what “those Ridley people” truly thought or what was motivating them 25 years ago. Thanks to the Facebook friends who knew me then I have allowed myself to be Radically Open to changing my perception, to embrace the past with joy and gratitude, and truly move on. Amen!



The Healing Power of Facebook

I didn’t realize how much I still needed to acknowledge and heal from my past until I signed up for Facebook last November and started making connections with the high school folks.

It started innocently enough. I was curious. I wanted to see what 25 years had done to their faces and their fortunes. I was asked to be someone’s friend. I said yes. Then I added another friend, and another. Tracy suggested I add Greg, who suggested I add Joe, who suggested I add Cheryl. Trish was found in my People You May Know column. Pretty soon I was spending my late night hours looking at profiles, searching for people from those forgotten days, wondering what their lives were like and how often they thought about me. Lisa got inspired and created a Ridley High School Class of 1984 Facebook Group. Perfect! More people to daydream about!

And then it happened. I had a meltdown. “Oh, my God, I haven’t talked to these people since graduation in June of 1984 and now they want to be my friend? What does that mean? I don’t think they even liked me back then. Was I a friend 25 years ago? Geez, I was really weird then.” I found myself stuck in some crazy time warp. Was I 16 or 43?

I left Folsom, PA at the age of 18 hoping never to return. Oh, OK, that sounds dramatic, but I really meant it, and at the risk of sounding like an angst-filled teen from an ABC Afterschool Special (does that program still exist?) I will continue.

How many of us suffered silently through our high school years, wishing we knew how to ‘be cool’, thinking we were the weird one, feeling misunderstood, hormonally wacked, frustrated, afraid to go to the cafeteria and be seen by the guys who we thought wanted to beat us up, searching for a way out? I suppose Ridley was a fairly normal high school in the 1980’s (based on what my current friends tell me). I suppose I was a fairly normal teenager, but I sure didn’t feel like one. I had far too many dark secrets. Leaving ‘those Ridley people’ behind and going away to college was a dream come true. I realized that I could reinvent myself and start with a clean slate. So what if a few of my high school classmates were on campus with me? We were different there, more mature, free. We were in COLLEGE. High school was so over. A couple of years after graduating from college I made my way to New York City. Man, I could really reinvent myself there!

A few days ago I received a message on my cell phone. “Hey Joe, it’s Lily.” That voice. That Philly accent. “Holy shit! Lily is calling me?” Yeah, I posted my number on her wall with a sincere message inviting her to connect but I didn’t think she’d actually do it. I couldn’t stop pacing around my office as I thought about Lily and the things we had in common.

Lily and I grew up in the same town. We met in Mrs. Shields’ kindergarten class. We shared 12 years of schooling and socilaizing. Lily was one of the hottest girls around and she scared the crap out of me (as many beautiful women used to). I was sure she saw me as a total loser in high school based on what I considered a disaterous make-out and groping session on her living room couch (in 8th grade?) while the movie Grease played on cable TV in the background.

I listened to the message a second time and there was no doubt in my mind that I had to get in touch with Lily immediately. My fingers and feet danced as I dialed her number. Her voicemail kicked in and I started to leave a message, but before I finished, my Blackberry beeped in a way that told me there was an incoming call. It was Lily. I was about to have my first off-line conversation with someone I’d left behind in the era of big hair.

“I can’t believe this!,” I said, as we talked and laughed like old friends who just happened to have lost track of one another. “Do you remember Spencer in that dress?” “What ever happened to Karen?” “Do you ever talk to Mike?” It was a magical experience. Layers of awkwardness and embarrassment melted away. In April Lily will be coming to New York City, where I’ve lived for the past 18.5 years. She’ll be traveling with some other women I know from high school. I will happily do whatever I can to make their weekend fun, interesting and worry-free. Ah, the power of Facebook.

Last week I meditated on the thoughts and feelings I had about my high school years. I looked at my fears. I recalled my month-long intention of Radical Openness and the book next to my bed, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping. I was a bit shocked to discover that although I saw myself as a dramatically different person than the young man who tried to run away from his painful past by fleeing his hometown all those years ago, I hadn’t made the conscious connection that ‘those Ridley people’ had changed too. 25 years is a long time. “Perhaps a large dose of Radical Openness and Radical Forgiveness would help here,” I heard myself say. I guess it’s working.

As my list of Facebook friends grow, I look forward to adding more Ridley High School Class of 1984 almuni to it. I am open to healing whatever needs to be healed in regard to that part of my amazing life. I’ve asked someone to post my yearbook photo on Facebook. I intend to look at it with openness, forgiveness and love. Amen!



Frozen River, Flowing Heart: How Movies Can Deepen a Friendship

I left the Quad Cinema on 13th St. in a stupor. My cinephile friend and I had just sat through the Oscar nominated film Frozen River and were listlessly trying to decide what to do next. I couldn’t imagine sitting on a subway train and going home alone after that theatrical experience, so we decided to walk and talk in an attempt to regain our composure. Frozen River is, as described on the Rotten Tomatoes web site, “a powerfully unflinching tale of two women, who, driven by economic hardship, form an unlikely partnership smuggling illegal immigrants across the Canadian border. Melissa Leo turns in a gritty performance as Ray, a struggling dollar-store cashier and mother living in a trailer home in upstate New York who is desperate to make ends meet. When Ray’s gambling-addicted husband runs off with the family’s payment on a new doublewide trailer, her life quickly spirals into a financial tailspin. During a frenzied search for her deadbeat spouse, she apprehends Lila (Misty Upham), a Mohawk Indian from an area reservation, attempting to steal her car. In the process of taking back her vehicle, she learns of Lila’s smuggling operation through an unpatrolled corridor within Mohawk territory–the frozen St. Lawrence River that forms part of the border between the U.S. and Canada. Out of necessity, they form an uneasy alliance: Ray, working to meet the payment’s deadline, and Lila, who scrambles to earn money to redeem herself to her estranged in-laws and infant child.”

The desperation of the two main characters, and the overall feeling of impending doom that was so brilliantly depicted throughout the film (OK, I thought the movie was great, one of the best of 2008, and I would love to see Melissa Leo win the Oscar for Best Actress) was what left me feeling so drained. Desperation. Struggle. Thinking that nothing is going to work out. Hardship. Fear. I have visited those places far too often. I sat in the theater thoroughly engrossed by the story that unfolded onscreen. I squirmed in my seat, sighed heavily, laughed, cried, and hid my eyes. When it was over I could barely move. Any film that puts me through the emotional ringer like that deserves a prize. Thank God Fred brought along some chocolate.

As we walked the cold streets of Manhattan, Fred and I shook off the heaviness of Frozen River by sharing our thoughts about the technical merits of the film, the quality of the acting, and our discomfort in recognizing aspects of ourselves in several of the characters. We also spoke of our past fears, shed a few tears of joy and relief, and discussed what we were committed to doing in order to keep our heads and hearts, personally and professionally, above water during a time when so many people around us were falling prey to the ‘not enough’ mentality that drove much of Frozen River’s dramatic tension. Twenty-five city blocks later we felt much more grounded and descended into the subway. Thirty minutes after that I sat in front of my computer and watched the video that I shot at the Quad a few hours earlier on my new Flip Video Mino camera. On my laptop I explored the Flip’s editing system and watched as the images of my night were replayed. One image in particular kept grabbing my attention. As I froze and ‘snapped’ the frame I stared into the face of a smiling, beautiful man with sparkling, mischievous eyes and a shaved head, and my heart filled with a warmth that comes from looking at someone you love. My dear, honest, emotional, talented, movie companion stared back at me. “I am so grateful for you,” I said aloud. “I am so grateful that I have allowed you to touch my heart, and to show me the value of true friendship.”

And so it is.