Forgive. Most People Don’t Know What They’re Doing

I read a couple articles recently. They talked about cities in general and San Francisco specifically. Progressives once heralded the Bay Area as an example of liberal success. But lately, conservatives point to cities like San Francisco and Portland as heralding progressive failure. Some progressive San Franscicans do too, apparently.

Indeed, there’s a lot of seeming evidence pointing towards failure. Both Portland, the liberal bastion where I live, and San Francisco, currently seem overrun by drug addicts, and homeless people overcrowding sidewalks and parks. Graffiti covers nearly every public surface. Commercial offices in Portland are only at 67 percent occupancy. In San Francisco it’s not that much better. Both numbers resulted from the pandemic. Meanwhile, residents of both cities have had enough. Crime is going up. People don’t feel safe.

At the same time, both city governments appear devoid of solutions to these problems.

But are conservatives right? Are these cities really failing? Or is something else important happening?

Bellwether cities attesting to something important

Everything is always working out on planet Earth. So something else must be happening. Despite conservative criticisms, these two cities must be helping in some way. What might that be?

I suggest a radical notion. Perhaps these two cities are helping people see something important. Perhaps people in these cities, those living on the streets and the drug-addicted, are too. The Graffiti could be sending an important message. All these eyesores could suggest that our civilization needs an overhaul.

It’s true. Portland and San Francisco are extreme cases. Los Angeles may be close, but few cities face as much of what these two cities face. Maybe the progressive approach is better at showing how much better we can do to support our fellow humans. So rather than failures, these two cities may be bellwether cities. Cities showing clearly how our approach fails so many individual humans.

Here in Portland, graffiti is everywhere.

There but for the grace of…

A person on social media said something important about this. I mentioned dreadful economic conditions which spur someone to turn to drugs:

And the guy replied with a valid point:

Many people face economic hardship. Hardship they keep facing without drugs. Although if we include alcohol, tobacco and weed, we’d have a different picture. In fact, almost half of us are one paycheck away from losing our homes. And many of us cope with LEGAL alternatives: food, sex, streaming and gaming. So many are blessed by the grace of God that they never turn to meth. Or lost their home. But they’re not scot free from the stress of living in today’s reality.

Remember, we’re all God in human form. That fact doesn’t prevent someone making debilitating choices. That’s because we also have free will. Including the freedom to choose bondage, as Abraham says.

They know not what they do

Which brings me back to my conversation. I experienced pretty harrowing economic conditions myself once. I didn’t turn to drugs either. It’s a common refrain. “I didn’t do it. These people don’t need to either.”

But every person’s experience is unique. So comparing them to us is kinda irrelevant. Instead, we could look at “why” they chose what they chose. Then we ask why again. And keep asking until we discover something we haven’t before.

This is certain: were we in the shoes of the graffiti tagger, the person living on the street, that dopesick dude suffering on the sidewalk with his ass hanging out, we would make the same decisions. Not if “we” were in their situation. But if “we” were “THEM“, facing THEIR experiences. Experiences that had them make such choices. We would make the EXACT same choices. Blaming individuals, therefore, is largely irrelevant.

Jesus said of his tormentors “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Applied to our civilization, we can bring a big dose of forgiveness in every direction. Towards our politicians, our political “enemies”, and towards those seemingly making our cities unsafe.

IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT. The circumstances under which they live evoke that from them as they interpret such situations in the worst possible way. That tendency to negatively interpret is the fault. That’s the learned behavior. Behavior most of us fall into at one time or another. Behavior conservatives fall into when claiming progressive cities as failures.

Portland’s woes may be changing, a recent poll shows. Visitor impressions are improving, yet residents still express reservations. San Francisco’s future remains unclear.

Meanwhile a more permanent change can happen. It must start with individuals, willing to look beyond knee-jerk explanations. People with capacity to forgive rather than judge.

Maybe you’re ready?

Taking fulfillment beyond the yoga mat

FB Beyond the yoga mat fereshteh azadi.jpg

There’s something about yoga that keeps many Portlanders coming back for more.

Maybe it’s concentrated focus borne of asana mastery. Or maybe it’s realizing skills, confidence and strength built from years of practice. Or, perhaps it’s love for a particular instructor.

What keeps you coming back?

While yoga can be fulfilling, many Stumptowners lose what they’ve gained once they’ve left the yoga mat.

Common mortal hood waits just outside the studio, with daily stresses, anxieties, relationship drama, work “to dos”, personal insecurities….sheesh…enduring fulfillment can be as fleeting as a chocolate high.

Yoga was meant as a spiritual practice leading to higher consciousness states. How is it it rarely comes that? And when it does, it leaves us as soon as we return to daily life?

Is permanent, ongoing happiness attainable in modern society?

The answer is: yes.

And it’s available to everyone.

It doesn’t require any physical mastery, yoga or otherwise. It just depends on discovering what you’re made of, where you come from, and then living from that.

From there, seemingly miraculously, everything starts to work in life. Negativity disappears as does anxiety and fear.

Long-held and forgotten dreams and desires begin to be fulfilled too.

Happiness becomes the theme of the day, every day. Before you know it, life becomes what it is supposed to be: amazing.

Positively Focused clients, like Stefano, used to think happiness was a fleeting emotion, with no rhyme or reason why happiness came, or went. One moment it’s here, the next gone.

In fact, many Portlanders just like Stefano, never really experience even fleeting happiness.

Many deal with anxiety, depression, seasonal affective “disorder” and runaway substance consumption habits as they try to manufacture a facsimile of real happiness, contentment or distraction at the very least.

And can you blame them?

We have to deal with Portland winters after all. Hello?

What are emotions for anyway? And why are the good ones so fleeting?

At Positively Focused, we know happiness not an end state. It is just the beginning.

Human life holds the potential to deliver not only happiness, but a joy that has no ceiling. That increasing joy can be a continual moment-by-moment experience.

And, that joy can create a life experience where desire after desire is fulfilled. No desire is too small, or too big.

“You wanna die today?”

The other day we were enjoying this state, walking along the Max Station at Pioneer Courthouse Square. We were greeting those around us with our smile and our eyes. We were in joy, understanding that all that is is working in our favor. The next moment, we caught the eye of a young man.

What you looking at faggot! You wanna die today?” He yelled at us.

Do you?” we immediately replied.

Yes!” he said, as he averted his eyes and hurried off.

A shocking exchange of to say the least!

Clearly, this young man, by the look of his dress and the anger in his voice, was struggling. We couldn’t tell whether his struggle was emotional, financial, relationship-related, substance-related or a combination of these.

What was clear: he craves fulfillment and happiness. We all do.

Yet that was not his life experience. Our reflecting his grief back to him, in the same intensity, but through the opposite emotion left him exposed. Not to us. To himself.

His attempt to destroy us with his words revealed him to himself. Faced with our in-the-moment happiness, our young man had no other choice but to speak truth: his life experience is so unfulfilling, he wanted to die.

This brief, intense encounter, showed us, as life always does when you’re positively focused, evidence of what’s possible for everyone: life mastery. A freedom and personal invincibility so profound you become impervious…even to violence.

Happiness and invincibility: everyone has access to such states. It is how life is supposed to be. Yoga is great. It’s as “Portland” as Blue Star Doughnuts.

Like doughnuts, though, it can’t compare to a life filled with lasting happiness, invincibility and a joy that becomes more and more day after day.

How to become invincibly happy

The key to lasting, invincible happiness is simply learning what you’ve forgotten, then practicing daily habits that restore your memory. You are surrounded by everything you need to cultivate these habits. The internet offers tons of information about them.

Like yoga, a daily practice is required. Picking out peacock from a list of asana pictures is one thing. Knowing how to do peacock is another. Actually doing it is yet another.

In the same way, cultivating daily habits leading to invincible happiness comes from daily practice. You may intellectually know the daily habits (you do). Maybe you even know how to do them. But results come from doing them. Regularly. Consistently.

The good news is, unlike learning peacock, lasting happiness doesn’t require learning something new. It only requires remembering what you forgot.

The bad news is it’s hard to know something you forgot. That’s why we offer assistance.

Back to the habits.

One of these habits, for example, is expressing appreciation. Super simple, right? That simplicity masks a bewilderingly powerful habit. Habitually acknowledging all the great things that make up your life, by itself, can do wonders.

Ever heard the phrase “the best place to hide something is in the open”?

Life is like that. We are surrounded with an unlimited number of things worthy of appreciation. Especially in Portland. Can you name a few? We think so.

And in the naming of just a few of those things, with the right mind set, you automatically get a glimpse of what being consistently happy can do for you. Whether you’re on, or off the yoga mat.

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