Titanic….”Echoes of Life”

This week I would like to use an historical event as a way of examining the elements, both good and bad, that can happen in life. The Titanic was the pride of the seas…..a floating city that many said was “unsinkable.” This, unfortunately, was not to be the case. A ship steaming across the Atlantic…onboard were the elite, powerful, rich, inventive, captain, crew, poor and downtrodden. A true mix of humanity at any given time and stage.

So let’s start at the beginning…..the Titanic was constructed by sheer sweat and manpower, by workers who over time had built many ships….but this one, by far, was the largest and finest. No expense was spared….Titanic had to gleam in the water. It contained the finest crew, who would operate and cater to any need of the passengers. On deck was a “who’s who” list of the rich and famous, while below in steerage were the brave souls who just wanted a chance at a new life and to plant the seeds to their dreams in a new country. Once the journey was underway, Titanic powered through the water, defying anything that stood in its way. Much like many of us, at the beginning of our lives with so much time in front of us, we believe there is nothing we cannot accomplish. Just before Titanic set sail, the binoculars in the lookout towers were removed, because, who would need them? And how would it look to the passengers to see a member of the crew staring out on the horizon, looking for danger? Precautions were severely overlooked. Of course, a ship like the Titanic, that is “unsinkable,” surely wouldn’t need enough lifeboats for all on board, right? So off they sailed into the dark Atlantic.

The captain, with a little added pressure, wanted to break the Atlantic crossing record and arrive early in New York. He thought to himself, “Wouldn’t that be wonderful, we would surely make the headlines of all the newspapers”….and seeing that Captain Smith was planning to retire after this maiden voyage, what a great way to end his illustrious career. All the while reports of icebergs ahead were ignored. Whatever road we travel in life, it’s always wise for us to heed the warning “curves ahead.”

The most enlightening aspect of the Titanic’s dilemma happened once it hit the iceberg. At first, many thought the ship had blown a propeller, and before too long, they would be continuing on towards New York. Meanwhile down below, the true story was unfolding. Passengers in steerage started to see streams of water flowing down the corridors. It’s interesting, except for the captain, and a few members of the crew, the poor were the first to witness what was to come. Unfortunately, many of the steerage passengers were locked in down below….unable to free themselves to safety. Meanwhile, up on deck, the rich and the powerful danced, giggled, and complained about the delay. Eventually, of course, the truth started to make its rounds….slowly, the ship began tilting downward, while the bow started rising. What happened next is probably one of the most important lessons we will ever learn in life. Because of the refusal to believe the dire situation that Titanic was in, even as the bow rose higher and higher in the air, many of the lifeboats were lowered half empty, because few believed how badly damaged the ship really was. Can you imagine, some of the brightest, most influential people of society standing there, as the boat was sinking, refusing to accept that it was necessary for men, women and children to get into lifeboats, to save their lives. One of the greatest examples in history of denial. It was only a matter of time before panic set in and reality solidified. A collection of small life boats half full watched in horror as the “Ship of Dreams” headed to the bottom of the Atlantic.

No matter how many books and how many movies are done on this tragic event, I never come away without learning something new, and how it could have all been prevented. The perfect human storm. Arrogance, ego, denial, with a sheer disregard for the unexpected. At work, at home, at play, whatever it is that we do during the day, we must always remember the tragedy of the Titanic, so that we don’t fall victim to creating a Titanic in our own lives. We all live on the road of life…but it’s wise to once in a while check under the hood of our cars, the soles of our shoes, and the well-being of loved ones. The unexpected does happen….but with a little care and awareness, we can avoid the icebergs.

smooth sailing,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

The Wilderness

Each one of us are born into the wilderness…a place where there are no answers, only many questions. Yes, indeed…the slate is wiped clean, for us to mold and shape throughout our lives. This wilderness is a barren land, but with each step we develop confidence that we are heading in the right direction for our final destination….Home.

Along our journey we learn skills and have experiences to get us closer and closer to our destiny. We meet up with others along the way who also seek the same path. Joining together, where once it took days to cover miles, now it takes hours. The land, that at one point was dry, dusty and empty, slowly delivers a landscape where life is plentiful and supportive. The valleys give way to glorious mountains, which too must be crossed. We climb, push on, and become stronger from the challenge. At a certain point in the journey we stop, gaze back, to see how far we have come. We feel rejuvenated, and full of Faith that we will enter the Promised Land. One more in a sea of humanity, out to prove their reason and purpose for existence. The wilderness is the environment that man must overcome to reach the Gates of Heaven.

I understand that the wilderness can be a treacherous place….where danger and the unexpected can leap out at any given moment. Deep inside, each one of us is a well of energy that only needs a spark of Faith to rise up. An oasis in the desert of Life, that will sustain us indefinitely. The tools are there to get us through. It is our job to learn how to use them. The journey home may be difficult, but not impossible. The moment we breathe Life, the journey begins. There is a reason for the road that weaves through the wilderness. It is a road that does not go on forever…it arrives at a place where Peace reigns and Love comforts.

The Promised Land awaits us all….through all of our doubts and fears, we know it is the place where we must go. It is Home. The final destination for the learned soul that has found the meaning of Love, Peace, Humanity, Sharing, Giving, and Faith. Life has meaning, and purpose. Some may falter, some may seek forgiveness, still, there is a hand reaching out through the wilderness, for the asking.

take a hand, give a hand,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

The Age of Introspection

Each decade brings its own set of gifts and obstacles. This decade, which I call “The Age of Introspection,” is delivering its fair share too. From the dust of the stock market bubble, and the ruins of the World Trade Center, the world has been thrust into the search for answers.

Each night the talking heads on television spout off their theories and expertise on who we are and where we are going. The climate of the world has changed fast. For example, on our plates this week we have had to witness the Iraqi War, and the emerging SARS epidemic. This has become the typical week….and no, you are not losing your mind if you get depressed once in awhile!:) Here in the United States the SARS crisis is a problem, but in Asia, people have become accustomed to living with face masks on. Wars and viruses…it sounds almost Biblical…perhaps…or could it be a way for us to break everything down to the ground level, so that we can see what we have forgotten? The day when a human being forgets the value of a handful of rice, is the day when our thoughts have become corrupted. As the world has become the reflection of the collective human consciousness, our individual lives manifest from the vision we create and accept in our own state of mind. The Age of Introspection is where individuals turn the microscope inward to examine their own hopes, dreams, joys, fears, and beliefs. As a wise man once said, “How can I expect you to know me, if I don’t know myself?”

We human beings can be quite remarkable people, when we put our minds to it. Together, there is no mountain that we can’t climb. Yet, when we see ourselves as separate entities, our collective thought patterns easily fall by the wayside. The more we know ourselves, the better we can be for our families, friends, and the world. It’s so simple to say “I can’t,” yet so bold to say, “I can.” Life wounds, that is why once in awhile we need to go inside, repair the damage, and head back out onto the road. A little tune-up on occasion is a good thing.

I try every day to get a little introspection. I find a quiet place with the sound of silence…meditate, and get to know myself a little better. Having a conversation with oneself can sometimes be quite beneficial!:) One thing’s for sure….each time I finish, I feel calmer and more centered. During these stressful times, the quiet moments become more precious. Introspection can help us cope with the uncertainties that surround us daily. Looking outward is easy….looking inward takes courage.

May your vision be clear,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

Temporary

Most of our day to day existence is based in the temporary. We eat food, and it’s gone, we attend a movie, and it’s over, we go to work and we come home…a beginning, middle, and an end…..the ingredients of the temporary. Nothing ever stays the same, even when we want it to. The temporary is a society, where Time and Space sets the rules.

Our problems and troubles begin when all we see and put our faith in is this temporary form of existence. Materialism makes the perfect vehicle for the temporary…it enslaves us in the moment, where our choices are limited. A trap that many of us can easily fall into, where we try to buy or purchase away a problem. We feel depressed, upset, or blue, so we head off to a department store, let our minds wander, and buy at will. We take our trinkets home, and after a few hours, we are right back where we started. Confused, and upset, we are dumbstruck, wondering why we couldn’t rid ourselves of dilemmas. Much of life’s woes are extended because of our belief in the temporary. We attack the superficial and surface of our problems, while ignoring the core enemy of happiness and contentment.

Time passes while we move through space, while our physical bodies age. We may slow down the hands of time, but we cannot stop them. Everywhere we go we are told to embrace the temporary…do this, do that, buy this, buy that. A collection of instant orders of gratification, that flees with each passing moment, until eventually there is much more to life than the temporary…it is at that point we regain our purpose. We are born, and we die…but our souls live on. The soul is the essence of who we are. It is the one part of us that is truly timeless. To find peace, comfort, and joy, all one has to do is to enter the doorway to the soul, which is the connection to the Heavens.

Simplicity is the language of the soul. There is no complication to life. Look into the eyes of a newborn child, or the eyes of a dying heart….and it all makes sense. It’s the time in-between where it can look complicated. I have a sign in my office that says, “The Soul is the Center of the Day.” It is there to remind me to build my life around my soul….not to wrap my soul around my life.

Simply yours,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

The Fog

I’m sure, like me, you’ve gotten into your car on a foggy night and with your highbeams on, had problems cutting through the density. All around the vehicle is a haze….that obstructs the vision. Once one enters a fog, direction and judgment can be impaired. Memory is the fog’s enemy. As we navigate the road, if we remember it’s bends and turns, we can arrive safely at our destination.

In life, there is sunshine, there is rain, and there is fog. We can wear our shades for the sun, open umbrellas for the rain, but the fog….ah….that is a totally different matter. John Carpenter directed a movie thriller called, “The Fog.” The premise of the story was about a small town that on some nights, the fog would envelop the surroundings and leave, taking people with it. Quite strange, isn’t it? Well in life, in a quirky way, we too can get lost in the fog. Like our beloved automobile, our judgments and relationships can be obscured by the fog. We think we’re going left, but we may be going right. We may feel we’re going up, when really we’re going down. The fog has a mysterious way of playing with our minds. Life in the fog can be treacherous. But the fog….it fears the wind.

When our life is engulfed by fog, the wind provides new air, clarity and relief. As foggy as things may look, somewhere there is a breeze for the asking. A breeze that can bring a new light through the haze. Just the belief that it exists, gives one the strength to cut through the mist of illusion. If reality truly is a state of mind, we have an influence over the moment.

Sherlock Holmes solved many of his mysteries through the fog of London. Through deduction, foresight, and evidence he solved the case. As his sidekick Dr. Watson used to always say, “Holmes, how did you come up with that?” Sherlock would reply, “It’s elementary my dear Watson….elementary.” I do believe, just like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson…..we too can solve our cases through the fog.

It’s elementary:),
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

The Cake

As we all know, for a cake to be baked the ingredients must be mixed together to create a “piece de resistance.” Nothing brings a smile more to a baker’s face than to see his/her creation at the center of the table, surrounded by grins. The greatest chefs of the world look upon cooking and baking as an almost spiritual endeavor. People pay large sums of money for the best tasting recipes. Would it be fair to expect the chef to bake a cake in sections?….of course not. Then why do we expect the world to form a circle when it divides into sections?

A union is when parts come together to form a whole. It could be a family, a circle of friends, a successful business, an orchestra, a country. A molten mosaic that melts together to form wonder. If the cake is the metaphor, it can also be applied to numerous situations. If we as societies or families break off into groups, then to gain strength, at some point the pieces must come back together, or surrender to fragmentation. The cake must be baked whole. The chef wants delicious delicacies to bring his customers back again and again….the recipes are refined each time to win over the palate.

For me, God is the chef….we as a global society are the cake. In a family, we are all ingredients in each other’s lives. Whatever it is that we do as human beings we must never lose track of the focus on the cake. The Beatles, made up of four individuals, came together to create a fifth element…that was greater than each individually. Different ingredients mixed together have always been known to create hybrids. If God is the chef, then we have to be available as ingredients for Him to bake the cake. All ingredients are needed for the cake, in His eyes. The chef can only bake with what’s available…so as a human family in 2003, are we available? It’s so easy to blame the chef….

the miracle is in the blend,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

The Big Picture

Life is just one Big Picture. Thoughts, hopes, wishes, and dreams melt into time and space. One pot of Universal Soup where each one of us are an ingredient. The flavor of Eternity, where all get to contribute. The purpose of Being and the reason for Now. The Big Picture includes Everything.

Our entire lives are made up of stages….each one unto itself may reveal little…but over time the landscape emerges, and the details become crystal clear. If we live our lives just focusing on each stage, we miss the purpose of “why.” The grand picture is a part of each moment. Like all great painters, the goal is to see the canvas, while it is being created. We hold the brush while God provides the paint. One sees illusion….while the other sees reality. Both are right. For life is part illusion, and part reality. In the gallery of Heaven, hangs all our paintings….each day evolving as we add new colors….until one day our painting is completed, and we get to go to the gallery to see it.

Every masterpiece reveals joy and pain. The combination of these two ingredients provide uniqueness. In the gallery of Heaven no two pictures look the same. Life and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Through our life’s experiences, we gain the ability to absorb each and every picture in the gallery. Each soul has much in common….while the brush may use different strokes, the paint provides the glue to bond all the strokes together. A Universe of painters, sketching their way home. The Big Picture is the canvas of our lives.

The picture shows the shadows and the light, our hearts and our minds, where we started, and where we left off. Each action and decision….hurling us towards completion. The Big Picture shows that while we were sometimes placing paint on what appeared to us to be just a tiny corner of our lives, we were actually accomplishing a much bigger task….the completion of our masterpiece. In the eyes of God the beauty is in the effort. The gallery is open to All….and All will cross through its threshold.

Keep painting,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

Human Weather

Our planet is constantly being affected by weather conditions. Tranquil skies, breezy deserts, golden sun, windswept rain, snowy blizzards, etc., all having the potential of affecting us greatly. Consistently we check the weather forecast before planning our days…could it possibly be that around us is a condition called “Human Weather?” Do we too get influenced by the emotional conditions that surround us….maybe so? Human Weather can have just as much, if not more, of an affect over our lives. As a smile can bring sunshine, a frown can deliver a cloud. Awareness of our emotional climate may help us weather oncoming storms.

The next few days, in my neck of the woods, snow is being forecasted. Today, at the grocery store, I noticed many stocking up on food and preparing to hunker down, rarely realizing emotional weather reports. Could it be that that which affects us the most goes by unnoticed? Would a sailor sail out to sea without first checking which way the wind is blowing? Why then do we find it so hard to see the Human Weather around us?

We all know “Good Weather” people…we interact with them and always feel better about ourselves and them afterwards. “Bad Weather” people, on the other hand, can leave us feeling battered and cold. Weather reports have to be updated daily…but after a while one gets an inkling of a sun on the horizon, or storm clouds forming. Awareness is the total key. Wouldn’t it be strange if not only each morning we checked the weather in the newspaper or on television, but also our schedules to see what emotional weather awaits us. To be human is to live, to live is to grow, to grow is to evolve, to evolve is to become enlightened. Along the journey, one learns to face the weather, and overcome.

As a human community, we can be the sunshine on the shoulders, or the rain on the parade. The choice is ours….but let’s not ever be mistaken….each and every one of us not only affects our own weather, but also the atmosphere of everyone we meet.

Let the sun shine in,
Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

The Language of the Soul

Each day our voices and actions glide along, parallel lines of communication. On the surface, we use our vocal language of birth or choice, while subliminally our souls interact. Some of the words we use speak to the mind….while others, touch the heart. Physical and spiritual communication have a profound affect on us as human beings. While we may all speak different physical languages, our souls communicate as one.
Place a group of individuals in a room who speak an assortment of languages, be it English, Spanish, Italian, French, Chinese, etc., and after a while they will find a way to communicate. We may say that their bodies and actions represent their thoughts, but sometimes unknowingly, could it possibly be that their souls started communicating before they made one physical gesture? If we realize that we transfer information through our souls, and accept it as a forgone conclusion, we may have a better understanding of the relationships in our lives.

Many around the world visit their House of Worship weekly….some daily. Wouldn’t it be wondrous if all that do, take that Holiness out into their daily interactions. Prayer and Belief are not meant to stop at the exit of a House of Worship. What is learned and felt inside is meant to bloom and grow in the sun. We are all children of God….though we may speak different languages and dialects, we all have within us the language of God. The soul understands the language of the Heavens….it is the body that loses the translation. If the world is to continue to prosper and grow, the leaders and authorities of mankind must embrace our common language.

In the physical world, words can be misunderstood….in the spiritual realm, no words need be said. Truth is Truth. Not someone’s interpretation of it. These are troubling times…once again, for the children of God. But if we just open our hearts, we just may be able to hear each other. The sound of Heaven is Peace and Love…until we hear that sound on Earth, there is work to be done.

Hear the choir,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2003 Jennifer Avalon

Ceilings and Floors

Isn’t it interesting that sometimes someone who is in debt for, let’s say, forty-thousand dollars, can end up being happier than someone who has one million dollars? Crazy as it may seem, we would not believe how many people who we would consider “well off,” are quite unhappy individuals. How could this be possible? How on earth could somebody with substantial wealth end up feeling miserable? It’s quite easy…..I call it, “Chasing the Dragon.” To these individuals, once they acquire one million, the goal becomes two million, then three million, etc. They totally lose track of the value of what they’ve accumulated. Now I am not suggesting that all people who are in debt are always happier…..but it is possible for some of those to be able to see the glass half full, not half empty.

Howard Hughes, the multimillionaire who was once envied in Hollywood, dating many a starlet in his heyday, ended up a suspicious, paranoid old man. He believed that everyone was out to “get him,” while he walked around with white gloves on, watching every crumb he consumed, fearing poison. Photographs and sketches of his last days showed a man who was dying of malnutrition, while his bank accounts were stuffed. How often do we read in our daily newspapers, a homeless person being found dead, and under further evaluation it is discovered they were millionaires? Money, wealth, and fame can be double-edged swords.

I know two people….one, who works for a leading American company, the other, works for little over minimum wage at the local hardware store. I can honestly tell you, the man at the hardware store is happier and more content. You see, my more lucrative friend, as he has climbed the corporate ladder, has also elevated his expenses…bigger home, better car, more costly clothes…frequents the “best” restaurants in town. All of this needs a constant inflow of fresh funds. If one is not careful, these habits can start to become a noose around one’s neck. All the while, my hardware friend has installed in his home a little entertainment center, with an enlarged television screen and “surround sound” stereo. He, his wife, and kids spend many an evening sitting back in their chairs, laughing. He said to me, “Jennifer, after the initial outlay for my entertainment thing, it only costs me the price of a rented DVD to have an evening of enjoyment.” He can’t afford to throw money at the wall, like my other friend. But I have seen both faces….and I can assure you, one man’s ceiling, is another man’s floor.

In these strange and troubled times, it’s always important to realize that we cannot buy our way to happiness. Yes, indeed, it is quite important to be financially responsible….but the soul doesn’t really need much for contentment. It is nice to have the latest and best gadgets, with all the bells and whistles….but it’s important to always weigh the options. It’s great to chase our dreams….and to set out to accomplish our missions. But if all we do is put a dollar amount on their destinations, we may find at the end of the road, a sense of emptiness, for all our hard work. Balance is key to prolonged happiness. It’s okay to stop along the road once in a while for a cup of coffee, a chat, and a smile. Hey, you never know….at that streetlight ahead, you may decide to turn right, instead of left.

May your glass be always full,
love, Jennifer Avalon
© 2004 Jennifer Avalon