Transcending Suffering and Impermanence

There is a buddhist philosophy that life is all about loss and suffering. 


The Budha says:

Life is suffering.


Why? Because life is impermanence–whatever we gain, eventually, we must lose. 


– Riches, power, people, health, even our memories perhaps. 


In a sense, this is like the saying from “War of the Roses”:

There is no winning, only degrees of losing. 


However, there is one exception to the impermanence and loss in life:


The only thing that is permanent is our good deeds, and with this we can achieve an everlasting good name for ourselves.


In Judaism, we teach:

A good name is better than fine oil.


Hence, this is the permanence that we strive for in life and in death.  


If we can attain a good name through purity of soul then in a sense, we can transcend life’s suffering and impermanence.  


By becoming non-attached to all of life’s temporary things, and instead focusing on perfecting ourselves, we can free ourselves from suffering and from this world, and then we can go on in everlasting-peace to the afterlife. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Just One Mistake

So all it takes is one mistake. 


And your whole life can be completely altered. 


The consequences for a slip up in a split second in time. 


I’m talking to someone today and he tells me his story and it goes like this:


He came here from overseas in early 2000 after winning the lottery for a green card.  


split second and his life is changed miraculously for the better. 


He moves here and finds work as an electrician. 


He saves money, gets married, and is living a decent life. 


All is well and then…


One day, another split second and he is on the scaffolding doing his work as an electrician and suddenly it collapses, and he falls severely breaking his leg and knee.  


He is taken to the hospital where the doctor tells him his injuries are too severe and he is transported to another major metropolitan hospital. 


After three surgeries, his leg is put back together with metal plates, rods, and bolts. 


He is unable to work, loses his job, and eats through his savings living off it while his leg slowly heals. 


Next, the hospital comes after him for $60,000 in medical bills. 


He says he has no choice but to leave the country to escape the debt, which he cannot pay. 


After 7 years and with the debt forgotten, he is able to return to this country.


His wife who he married here claims he abandoned her and divorces him.


He has lost everything he had in this country.


He shows me that his leg has huge scars up and down the sides and he bangs on his leg multiple times to show me the metal plates holding it together. 


He also demonstrates to me also that even after all these years, he still can’t run and as he tries in slow motion, his knee collapses and he visibly starts to lose his balance. 


I asked if he still has pain these 10 years later, and he says, “Yes!” 


Then he comes closer, turns to me, and with a very serious look, he shakes his head.


He says, “It only takes one mistake…just one mistake.”  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Upside Down Flower On Stairs

Thought this was an interesting picture to take. 


It’s an upside-down pink flower bent over a concrete stair. 


And the stem is sticking straight up and out. 


The contrast of the live soft pink flower and the cold hard grey of the concrete stairs is astounding to me.


Life can so easily be bent over, squished out, and left for dead in the cold harsh realities of this world 


We are alive, but life can be hard. 


We fight to go on, but life is sometimes unforgiving.


The bright spark of life seeks to illuminate the hard grey block.


Breath, beat, live…good health is unbelievably precious.


Arise flower and once again stand tall in the glowing sunshine and the pouring rain. 


Nourish yourself in the soil of the Earth, give praise to the L-rd as only life can do. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

“Shock And Awe” Project Management

So this is a new type of project management and it can be very effective. 


It’s called (my name): 

Shock and Awe Project Management


This technique is similar to the military doctrine of shock and awe that uses speed and overwhelming power to dominate the battlefield and vanquish the enemy.


In project management too, there are often naysayers, Debbie Downers, resisters, excuse makers, and people that lay down obstacle after obstacle to progress. 


This invariably derails projects and causes them to fall behind schedule, go over budget, experience scope creep, not meet the genuine user requirements, and ultimately fail!


However, if you manage the project with “shock and awe” and set aggressive timelines, assign substantial and very good resources, and move the project full speed ahead, then you can similarly create a momentum to the project that enables it to overcome the “enemies of the progress” (i.e. those that don’t really want it to succeed or are too busying covering their own a*ses).


This approach is not advocating speed at the expense of quality nor is it calling for cutting corners or riding roughshod over people, but rather to the contrary, it calls for techniques similar to the military of moving with absolute focus, determination, efficiency, collaboration, synchronization, and overwhelming “project power” to ensure it’s success. 

Projects, like battles, can be “won” by putting the right resources on the field and moving them to get quick wins in rapid succession (where the enemies of progress don’t stand a real fight) so that the projects get not only completed on time and within budget, but most importantly to real stakeholder satisfaction and the organization’s success. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to AlexVan)

Feeling Blue, Feel Better

Life is filled with so many wonderful marvels and joys–thank you G-d!


Yet interspersed is what feels like a series of non-ending life challenges. 


Yes, of course we wouldn’t recognize or appreciate the good, if we didn’t have the bad to compare it to. 


But just when you think you’ve gotten through one obstacle and are cruising nicely down Life Lane, then it seems like it’s time for the next speed bump.


I know that having faith through thick and thin is a huge part of it. 


Also, challenging oneself to be strong and work through the next life dilemma. 


Sure, not everything is life and death, thank G-d.  


But even daily upsets can be frustrating.


I know inside though that in a weird sense, this is really what life is all about. 


It’s not paradise we are living in–that comes later when we get our angel wings!


This is a world that challenges, teaches, and grows us. 


We are not here just to have a merry ‘ol good time day in and day out. 


While that may be nice for a while, it would get pretty tiresome and pointless. 


Life is like a puzzle–a very big puzzle–and we are here to help solve it and in the process, we have the opportunity to become better souls for it.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Anxiety Filter

What a brilliant picture of “Anxiety” by a child in Montgomery County, Maryland. 


Notice the great big letters–and all in caps–for what ANXIETY feels like. 


Anxiety is black–it’s when we are in a dark foreboding place and we can’t find our way out–it holds us back from doing what we need and like to do. 


Anxiety feels so all-enveloping and ginormous–it dwarfs us in the “I”–and we feel so small and are paralyzed, incapable of freeing ourselves from it. 


Anxiety is a cognitive and emotional bias where we see things in black and white–everything is to the extreme–and there are no greys; we tend to talk in all or nothing and our actions may mimic our extreme feelings. 


Around the anxiety, we are bordering in blood red–we are in a dangerous place–where our feelings of fear, inadequacy, and being incapable of overcoming it can lead us to do something desperate and final. 


When we are drowning in anxiety, it is like a lens or filter that clouds our vision and thinking, so we can make bad decisions, not make any decisions, or just procrastinate in order to avoid the issue and thing we are afraid of. 


We have to fight off the octopus grip of anxiety.


We have to find our courage within and from G-d.


We have to conquer our demons so we can meet our destiny head-on. 


We have a mission to fulfill in our life, and we can’t let anything get in the way. 


Fate is waiting for us to make our important contribution, so then we can be gathered to our fathers and rest in final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)