Common Enemy

As children, many of us played “war games.” If we had brothers, we knelt in the sandbox with our plastic “army guys,” and fought little wars that felt like huge battles at the time. For me, I would listen to my brother make gun noises as he pointed his plastic army guys at mine. Part of me would think the game was silly, me being a girl, and I really would have preferred to be playing “house” with my dolls….but, my little brother needed an opposing force to make up the battlefield…so there I was, his sister, playing along. There was great passion in these games….and many a plastic army guy got knocked over into the sand. It was fun….. it wasn’t real….it was a game.

In war, one needs an enemy. My brother and I set up the terms of our warfare right from the beginning….who were the “bad guys,” who were the “good guys,” and, essentially, somewhere in our hearts, we knew who would win….always the “good guys,” of course…..how we determined who were the “good guys,” I don’t recall…it was just a general agreement, before doing battle.

Each of us knows that we all have elements of being “good guys,” and “bad guys,” within. Just like children, we determine which side we are on everyday of our lives. Where we get our measuring stick of what is good and bad comes from our backgrounds….our historys. The truth is, because we are human beings, we have a limited overall view of this earth….and it is very difficult for us to sometimes see the overall consequences of our actions. If we did have a “birds-eye” view of the world, I’m sure this would be a very different place. We would be able to see that every action creates a reaction….that none of us is perfect…..that the greatest war of all is the one within ourselves. The entire human race does have a common enemy….and it is the hatred, the prejudice, and the ego within each and every one of us, that we must do battle with in order to learn to love. This is our common enemy….this is our common battlefield. I believe it is possible for Christian, Jew, Muslim and all peoples to live together side by side, but only after we recognize that if we don’t, all of us are doomed. The common enemy is ourselves…..

I believe the day of the World Trade Center attack, God was crying. I believe God cries every time mankind kills one another….every time He sees His children hurting one another. What do we truly accomplish with hatred? More hatred. And the one who hates usually ends up becoming just like the very object of his or her hatred. That is the logical course of events, unless Love intervenes.

Our common enemy is the hatred within ourselves….our common salvation is the Love each of us carries in our hearts. Until we learn this lesson, we will all hurt.

Fight the battle within……
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

The Table and Chairs

This past week has been extraordinary. Many of us feel like we are living headline to headline, and the stockmarket….what can I say?….has been in a nosedive, but, it will rise again. So what can be said for terrorism, hatred, lack of communication, and fear? Over the next few months I think we are all going to get a crash course on these terms.

The dilemma that we face is, do we want peace, or do we want war? Both cannot coexist together. It is understandable the amount of anger that is raging through the homes of the United States these past two weeks. Still, we are faced with a problem. If it is war that we choose, we must understand where we are going, and how to end it, otherwise, it’s Vietnam War Part Two. I’m sure we don’t want that. I am a believer that violence begets violence…..but I also believe that justice must prevail. Each side has a story to tell…..hate does not grow overnight, and it may not end in one day…..but, if we are intelligent, we can listen to all sides.

People have lost loved ones. The destruction I have witnessed firsthand at the World Trade Center….it is nothing short of a scene from a horror movie. Reflection will set in over the next few weeks……and perhaps we will be able to see a wider scope of why this happened.

The most powerful position on a battlefield is the place where a table and chairs sit. That is the position where arms are laid down, and minds, opinions, and most of all, logic, prevails. The key to peace is logic. Opinions can be argued…..but eventually one and one equals two. If at that point, one side throws logic out the window, hope diminishes. The side that fears logic, refuses to hear. Evil is Evil…..but many wars are fought over different points of view, and lack of communication. Is it in this case? We’ll only know at the table and chairs. If the nations of the world, especially those involved in the conflict, sit down, share their thoughts, and allow logic to flow through the air, the truth eventually will show its face. No one will not be seen……

Throughout history, the wise men who have graced this planet have left us pearls of wisdom, to help us through the darkest nights. Here are a few of their thoughts:

“An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”
— Ghandi
“If I don’t share dialogue with Chairman Kruschev, the whole world will end.”
— President John F. Kennedy
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt
‘”I will travel to Israel to listen to its people…enough blood has been shed.”
— Anwar Sadat
“He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
— Jesus Christ

At the table and chairs, all can be heard. The world can witness everything right before its eyes. The peacemakers, the destroyers, those on the fence, and those who don’t care, will be revealed. Without dialogue, we have nowhere to go but to violence.

Break bread,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

Buy America

This week’s attack on the United States was centered in two areas….the financial center of New York, and the military headquarters of the Pentagon, Washington, DC. These attacks were meant to cripple us financially, and damage our defenses. The question now looms….did they succeed, or fail?

Many Americans may feel powerless at this given moment, but it is not so. If it was the economy they meant to crush, then we, each and every one of us, have a say if this is to materialize. I offer a suggestion….that each and every American go out and purchase and support American products. It doesn’t matter if it’s the grocery store down the street, the shopping center at the mall, or the stockmarket come Monday morning. We buy….they lose! Nothing has really changed….America is still the greatest economy in the world, and in the words of President Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Yes, indeed, America is wounded, but by the hour those wounds are healing. The display of patriotism that is sweeping this country is breathtaking. We forgot to remember that we are Americans….unfortunately, it has taken these acts to wake us up. America will never be the same again…we can never take for granted the blessings we have here.

So over the next few months, let’s contribute to those in need, and support the great economic institution that some sought to tear down.

Buy America,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

Evaporation

This week a horrible attack was launched against the cities of New York and Washington DC, in the United States. We have now learned firsthand that airplanes can be used as guided missiles against buildings. I could not believe my eyes as I watched in horror on live television a commercial airliner heading towards the towers of the World Trade Center, and slamming full force into them. Both towers collapsed within two hours of the initial attack. The following are some observations I have witnessed since the disaster…..

We live life daily here in America within our own neighborhoods and our own little groups, feeling that we are different than the rest, while there are those out there who profit in ways to keep the American people apart and distressful of each other. All of this came to a grinding halt this week. We were not Black, White, Asian, Irish, Italian, Indian , Arab, etc……we were Americans. We didn’t think it….we knew it. All of our differences evaporated. Workmen digging through the rubble of Wall Street with American flags in their hardhats. As one commented to a newsman, “We are one…..we are together.” We have learned this week that in reality, when it gets down to it, we are not so different after all. We love, we breathe, we bleed, and we hurt.

Our nation, the United States, can be a strange place indeed. We wrap ourselves in our diversity, and we forget that we all live under the same roof, until we are shocked into reality. Why does it take a disaster for us to open our eyes? With this diversity we can easily be underestimated, “Those Americans…they really hate each other…they’ll never get it together,” or, “They’re lazy, complacent, and spoiled.” Though it may be sometimes true, to Americans differences go out the window when we are threatened.

During World War 2, Adolph Hitler said that “America is only good for making razor blades……” Once mobilized, America was able to put to sea one ship per day. The manufacturing and economic power of the United States, when focused and directed, is astounding. Whoever launched these attacks this week made a major mistake. If they truly wanted to hurt the United States, they should have left us alone to wallow in our self-pity, laziness, popping of prozac, and fascination of sex. Unfortunately, what they have done, is woken the Sleeping Giant, who, as we speak, is pumping iron and running on a treadmill to seek out its next meal. The attackers should have left America to its own demise…..but what have they done? They have put smelling salts under our noses, and helped us realize who we are and what matters.

A strange thing happened today…..I went to my local video store and upon entering the manager mentioned to me “The bulk of my action movies have been rented out. Rambo was the movie of choice, but once I said that was gone, they took anything that had the term “Lock and Load” on the box.” (I myself rented “Chocolat,” which is, from what I hear, a spiritual love story)
So attackers be forewarned…..our differences have evaporated….the prozac has been flushed down the toilet….and Rambo is being hauled out of mothballs. America, this week, became one. It’s no longer us and them….it is now We.

Let Freedom Ring,

love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

The Bistro

There is a wonderful place to visit when you have the time. A place where the Soul can be refreshed and wounds can be healed. Down a little alleyway is a small wooden door that when opened, can deliver the fuel for dreams….I call it “The Bistro.”

Once inside The Bistro one can walk slowly to a table where a relaxing armchair awaits. All around the walls are shelves of books, each one covering whatever topic you desire. The decor has just the right light and colors to make you feel relaxed and at home. As you look around the tables, each person is engulfed in their own journey to find inner enlightenment. Slowly, the waiter walks towards us and says, “Good day….would you like to see a menu?” Gladly we answer, “Yes thank you.” This menu is like no other. Once opened, the tools of Life are revealed. The entrees here in The Bistro bypass the body and go straight to the Soul. The food, the drinks, and the desserts all have one hidden ingredient that is vital for growth…..Love. A famous song plays throughout The Bistro…..the song is called, “Without Love, There Is Nothing.” Strange, but true.

We decide to order the special of the day, which is called “The Bouillabaisse of Life.” We ask the waiter, “Is it good?” He answers, “Superb.” After a few minutes the bowl is laid on the table….we take our spoon, have a few sips, and after a few seconds we find ourselves getting up from the table and heading towards one of the bookshelves. Along the way a man at another table smiles and says, “May you find what you are searching for.” While thanking him, we feel our hands reaching out and pulling a book from one of the stacks. The book is called, “Let Them Laugh,” a curious book that is about all the people throughout history who have decided to try something new. Who’s in the book? Let’s see….the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, etc. People who were laughed at when they first presented their ideas. The Bistro, we are told, has many unique books….all of them answer questions. So, we bring our book back to the table, read a few chapters, and finish our meal.
As we are getting ready to leave, we ask for the check. The waiter gives us a grin and says, “The meal is on the house…on one condition…..that you come and visit us again.” Happily we reply, “The food here would make anyone want to return.” The waiter replies, “Here there is more to food than what you eat. The books, the music, the ambiance, are just as important as the meal.”

There is a door to The Bistro inside every one of us. All it takes is for us to turn the handle. After leaving The Bistro we realize that we had seen other doorways leading off to Houses of Worship, Libraries, Gardens, and Parks. Food for the Soul was at the bottom of the menu….oddly, we don’t truly realize how good the meal was until after we leave. We head home and decide to plan our next visit to The Bistro where, as you may guess, reservations are not needed. It is open to all.

The Bistro exists…..not in the physical world, but in our hearts and our Souls. Faith unlocks the door. Oh yes, and one more little tidbit…..under the sign on the doorway it says, “Proprietor, God.”

Bon Appetit,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

Cynicism

Cynicism, suspicion, doubt and mistrust are some of the things that we juggle with week to week. Locked away in our treasure chest of life experiences are the testimonies of life that we’ve accumulated along the way. Love is the strongest emotion we have here on earth….but unfortunately, it too can be used as a weapon against us. Therefore, it’s quite easy for people to feel, after awhile, a little battle-scarred and suspicious about some subjects, occupations and people.

It’s simple to understand that in one hand, we hold all of the beautiful and successful experiences that have happened to us…..in the other hand we hold the mistakes, hurt, and pain that have accumulated over the years. Each time we are confronted with a new person, place or thing, we wonder which hand it will end up in. Learning is essential to avoid future pitfalls…for if we make the same mistake over and over again, what have we learned?

I would like to share a little story with you that I was privy to a few years ago. Mark and Sal together owned a glass company. One day Mark discovered that Sal had been slowly siphoning money out of their business bank account and spending it on himself at will. Mark was devastated, to say the least….he could not believe that his trusted friend would do this to him and their business. Mark confronted Sal and said, “Sal, why did you do this to me? What did I ever do to you to warrant this behavior?” Sal’s reply was chilling….”There’s a sucker born every day.” This is a true story. Sal had no problem doing what he did. To him, Mark was just one more sucker to take advantage of. The friendship, you ask? Well, that went out the window. Mark decided to buy out Sal’s part of the business and today, Mark has one of the most successful glass businesses in New York City. What happened to Sal? He just declared bankruptcy for the second time!! Mark shared with me his thoughts on this fiasco just a few months ago. He said, “Jennifer, for me, a partnership doesn’t work. You think you know the person you’re in business with, and then after ten years you discover they’re a cockroach.” The point is, through experience, Mark has built up a cynicism to being involved with anybody else through ownership. I said to Mark, “It could have been just one bad apple.” Mark replied, “Tell that to my bank account that is a quarter of a million dollars lighter.” We all have had bad experiences with other people…how we process and go forward really matters. Cynicism by itself can destroy the human spirit…but if you take a bad experience and do something positive with it, it can help heal the wound. Mark did just that. To add one more little piece to the equation, I will share with you a line that my friend Victor always says….”Jennifer, only be good to good people….because bad people will think you’re a sucker.” I must remember to ask Mark if that is good advice…..

Cynicism can be valuable to a point…..but we must never let it rob us of our humanity. People do make mistakes, and overcome them. If we were to cut people off the first time they hurt us there would be no room for forgiveness and conciliation. It falls to each one of us to find the balance that we can handle between love and cynicism within our lives.

May you find the balance,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

Love Lights The Way

Changes can come about when you least expect it. New relationships, new jobs, new hobbies, and changing addresses. All this can be shocking, to say the least, but one thing always seems to pull us through….loved ones and friends. This week I moved to Cape Cod, and in all honesty, it would have been a lot harder of a move if it wasn’t for my loved ones and friends.

New experiences can seem scary and shaky….but with the right reinforcements, and circle of care, we can weather just about any storm. As they say, no man or woman is an island unto themselves…one never knows when one may be in need of help. That help too, can be reciprocated. Fuel is needed for any new endeavor….the most potent kind of fuel can keep you going for miles. Love is a powerful source of energy.

So what can Love do for us mere mortals? For me, Love is a lighthouse that shows me a safe port and guides me through rough terrain. Love is a river that takes me to a sea of calm. Love is the one thing that always restores me to the center. Love does light the way…..we just have to allow ourselves to let it in.

The past few weeks I have been on a journey of some sort….a move that has taken me hundreds of miles from where I was. Though I knew and accepted where I was going, the fear and uncertainty still accompanied me. The well of Love that I nurtured and replenished was there for me when I needed it. Love is the ultimate food of life….it feeds the hunger of our souls….I believe it is the one thing we take with us when we pass on.

The value of Love on planet Earth can be underestimated….don’t ever make that mistake…..Love is more valuable than the greatest diamond and more precious than a bar of gold. The trick is to realize this while we are here.

Let love fill your heart,

Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

A New Chapter

This week is my last week in my current home. I have enjoyed my time here immensely……a log cabin in the woods has allowed me to regroup, reflect, heal, and move forward. I will never forget my time here, and feel blessed to have experienced the beauty of the mountains. The road of life is an evolving journey, full of memories and new experiences. My road is now set to embark upon a new chapter.

Since I’ve been writing the weekly newsletter, I have moved twice, from New York City to a quaint village on the Hudson River, to a log house in the mountains. Where am I headed now you may ask? Cape Cod, Massachusetts….a place I visited two years ago and knew one day I would end up there. I just didn’t think it would be this soon! I am not saying good-bye to my friends here, for I am sure quite a few will be paying me a visit near the sea. I grew up in Southern California…..to me, it isn’t surprising that I am returning to the ocean.

I’m sure you too have moved a few times…..most of us do. Going through the closets and the drawers is a life-altering experience….do we ever realize what we accumulate, but don’t really need? Anyway, the journey of my life moves on, as does yours. Whether we physically move or not, change surrounds us always.

I’ve realized what’s really important in my life….family, friends, faith, and, oh yes, my little doggies. Thanks to the Internet, I can always write to you from the same place in my heart. The world is getting smaller……and what once used to take days for people to receive, now takes seconds.
So this is my last newsletter from my home in the woods……and the next essays will be sailing to you from the winds of Cape Cod.

Turn the pages,

love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

Riding the Range

Howdy Pardners! Each morning we wake up…we get ourselves together, check our horses, tighten our saddles, and head off into the landscape. Riding the range can be both enjoyable and treacherous at times, but as we discover, the better prepared we are for the unexpected, the easier the ride.

The landscape of life has peaks, valleys, desert and rough terrain. Like any good cowboy or cowgirl, it is good to know one’s territory. Like all journeys, there are shortcuts which are learned from experience. It can get dusty out on the trail….but with a couple of good maps and a sturdy horse, we can reach our destinations. Life is kind of like the wild wild West….there are heroes and villians….twists and turns, and rainbows in the mists. Each morning before I set off, I always try to make sure that the saddle is firmly planted on my trusty horse, because as any good range rider knows, to succeed on the ride, the rider and the horse must become one. I never forget the Lone Ranger, who, when he ran into trouble, always had Tonto, Silver, and Tonto’s horse Scout there to lend a helping hand. We don’t have to ride the range alone….groups do set off to find the same destination. But before embarking upon the ride, it’s good to decide who leads and whose expertise can be called upon when needed. Once again, the group to succeed must ride as one.
I wish you well on your ride on the range, and may you discover what it is you are searching for in life. Hey you never know….somewhere along the trail you may see in the distance a cowgirl with a guitar singing some songs around the campfire! That cowgirl might be me. Don’t be shy….mosy on down and sing along…..:)

Happy Trails to you,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon

Waves

This past week I received quite a few e-mails asking me about my thoughts on the current state of the economy, and where I think things are heading. I am not an analyst, but my opinion is optimistic.

Over the past two years the economy has not only had to absorb the fear of the new Millennium, but also the Internet bubble and a series of rate increases from the Federal Reserve of the United States. We may ask ourselves, was all this fear necessary? Or were so many interest rate hikes needed? Perhaps, or perhaps not, but the most important issue is to understand that life and economies do not run on a straight line….they bend and weave. We have just touched the tip of the iceberg in where technology will lead us. Medicine and energy have a lot more to do before they too run their course. We run and we fall…..we pick ourselves up, learn, and go on. That’s the way it has been here on earth since the beginning of time. The human wave floating on a sea of eternity.

We live in a world where we never know how far we will go down, or how high we will go up. The fear is that if we get too high, the fall will be too great. But there is a stabilizing force that holds it all together, and it is called Vision. If you can hold onto a vision, then you can ride the waves of life and not capsize. It is also doing one’s homework….meaning, seeing why something goes right or wrong, learning from it, so that the next time it happens, logic kicks in….one gets a sense of “Hey, I’ve been here before, I will get through this.” Life is one big School of Learning.

The economy, I believe, will recover. New inventions, new technologies, new medical procedures, etc., are ahead for us. Nothing goes up in a straight line, nor down in a straight line…..even if it feels like it sometimes! The world evolves….it uses each yesterday to build its tomorrow. Out there somewhere is the next Einstein, Gandhi, Walt Whitman, Jonas Salk, Rembrandt, etc. The ship of today sails the waves into tomorrow…….learn from the great sailors, that it is all a matter of timing, and of trusting the ocean to ultimately deliver you to safe harbor.

Good Sailing,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2001 Jennifer Avalon