Are You Really That Busy That You Don’t Have Five Minutes To Call A Loved One?

How often do you find yourself letting too much time pass by without connecting to a loved one? Is it days, weeks, months, or even years that time eludes you until one day you begin to wonder how long it’s been since you talked to your brother, sister, mother, father, relative, friend, or some other loved one?

We all live in a busy world with busy schedules and have busy lives right? Well that’s at least what we tell ourselves. But what if that day comes when we are notified a person we love dearly but hadn’t reached out to for some time has passed away suddenly? How then do we feel about all that busyness?

I’ve lost my mother, father, and a few close friends very unexpectedly in my life. Prior to their deaths, I had all the excuses in the world on why I couldn’t make the time to reach out, say hello, and spend even five minutes talking with them. After each of their passings, I held immense guilt on the many times that I made excuses to picking up that phone and calling any of them.

Look, there are 24 hours in a day. That’s 1440 minutes that each of us find ways to occupy. And sadly, many of us, like I once did, fail to take even five minutes out of that to contact a loved one we don’t get to see all that often.

My sister is a good example of this and it saddens me that she hasn’t fully grasped this concept yet. I have often struggled to get a hold of her and am normally the one doing the work to set up a time to talk. What many people like her forget about is that all we really have is today and none of us know whether it could be the last day we breathe life into ourselves. After losing enough people so suddenly in my life, I have learned this lesson and realized that life is way too short. When I think about someone today who I haven’t reached out and contacted in awhile, I don’t put that action off any longer. Even if that’s taking a few minutes away from “the busyness” of my life.

In my most “busiest” moments of my life when I was consulting full time in the computer world or running a bed and breakfast that I once owned, there were still plenty of moments I could have found the time to reach out to a loved one. But what happened back then for me was I very selfish and placed my own priorities ahead of doing something selfless like contacting a loved one just to say hi. So after an exhausting day I usually convinced myself I was too tired to call and instead watched television. And for all those times during the day when I was in my car commuting anywhere, I either listened to music or dialed the people I placed as “more important”, which ironically were just people that fed my ego. The long and short of it really came down to my selfishness and self-centeredness. I’m not sure if I can say that’s the case for everyone though, such as my sister.

Some people, like my sister, really just have hectic schedules throughout every day. In her case, not only does she have three children to take care of, one of which is under one year old, she also holds down a full time computer consulting job. Finding any free time throughout the day often proves to be very difficult for her because of this. And when she does find a moment free, often the only thing she really wants to do is rest. I do have compassion for this, but I also know that it’s just as important to work into a schedule a few minutes to reach out to those that one loves. Isn’t it better to do that, then never to do so at all and then one day find out that person you kept putting off contacting is now deceased?

Please don’t get me wrong. I know people like my sister are busy. I can be busy. Life can be busy. But really, is our lives that busy to spare just a few minutes of it on any given day to do such a simple task of dialing a loved one?

I encourage each of you today to take a moment, breathe, and think about all those people you really love and haven’t talked to in awhile. Visualize yourself getting a phone call from someone tomorrow telling you that one of those loved ones has passed away. Feel in your heart what that would be like and I’m sure it will be enough to convince you to take five minutes out of your busy life to reach out to them right now.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Conjuring of Hollywood

I doubted that paranormal activity existed for a very long time until I experienced my own real taste of it, but more on that in a moment. Many movies have been released lately that are depicting this genre. One of them is The Conjuring, which since it’s release a bunch of weeks ago, has made a ton of money and built a lot of hype surrounding it. I finally decided to go see it because of this. As it began, words were placed on the screen that said the movie was based upon the true case files of the Warren’s, who were a paranormal investigative team that accumulated over 10,000-plus haunting cases dating as far back as 1952.

While the movie did its best to scare me, which at times it did, I began to wonder as it ended just how much of it was factual. After doing a little research on the internet to find out more details on the actual case file for which the movie was based upon, I found some serious discrepancies. So as not to ruin anyone else’s experience from watching this movie as it was entertaining, let me just say that Hollywood took a considerable amount of leeway in making the film. What really happened to the Perron family at their farmhouse in 1971 was noticeably different as compared to what the family experienced throughout the movie.

In doing this research, I also discovered other horror movies that were based upon factual events had similar exaggerations in their films. Some of those included The Devil Inside, The Haunting In Connecticut, Amityville Horror, and The Exorcist to name just a few.

Hollywood has done a great job today making scary movies even scarier, especially for those based upon true events. And while I’m not denying that those events didn’t happen, it’s the way they are being portrayed that has me appreciating what I’m seeing as pure art and and not reality.

Are there things that go bump in the night? Are there ghosts? Are their malevolent spirits? My belief is that the answers to each of those questions is yes. But that’s only because I’ve had my own paranormal experience, that changed my doubting mind.

I once owned a bed and breakfast named the Island Manor House that was operating in a home built around 1848. The home held much history from it’s conception and often guests would report seeing various ghostly apparitions. Two of those included a little girl who always seemed ready to play or a woman in an old nurse’s uniform that checked in on guests in their rooms in the middle of the night. After doing some research into these events, the other owner and I learned the original family who owned the home had a girl who died at a young age. In addition, we found out that part of the home was once used as a Civil War hospital for soldiers who were wounded. Even with hearing similar stories over time from random guests, I never saw any of what they had reported and remained skeptical. But one morning, I noticed something odd that began to change my view surrounding all of it.

In the center of the B&B, there was a common room that I called the Game Room. It had a fireplace, a chest of games, and a table that had a built in chess set on top of it that I had purchased for the room when I had moved in. Every night when turning in, after all the guests had already done so, I always moved the chess pieces back to their starting positions for a new game. But on this one morning, I noticed a single pawn had taken it’s opening move while the rest of the pieces were as I had left them the night before. I moved it back and went on with my day thinking nothing of it. Morning after morning as guests checked in and out, this continued to happen. I thought my business partner was just playing a joke on me, but when I asked, he had no idea what I was talking about. A number of weeks continued with this single pawn moving forward and it really began to bug me until I finally decided to take the matter a little further on one specific morning. When I emerged that day, every single guest in the house was in the dining room having breakfast, and the other owner was cooking. I spoke into the empty air and said “if there is a ghost in this house, show me in a more direct way that you are real…” I laughed off my insanity and went into the dining room for a minute just to check in with the other owner and say hello to all the guests. When I came back through that common room with the chess set, all of its pieces were moved around the board as if a whole game had been played. It was then that I knew and really began to believe that ghosts do exist and that there was some truth to paranormal activity.

So while I’ve come to accept that there is some truth to those questions I posed earlier, I’ve also come to understand that Hollywood takes a lot of their own liberties when making any film based upon factual events, especially those which are paranormal based. I’m sure if they were to portray my ghost story, it probably would be turned into the table levitating or the chess pieces flying around the room, neither of which happened. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed watching The Conjuring. But I decided the next time I see any movie like this that states it’s content is based upon factual events, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt, sit back, relax, and be entertained by that Hollywood magic.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

An Unconditional Act Of Love

I received an inspirational story in e-mail some time ago that I felt was worth sharing here. While it may be fictional, it really is a testament to the power of unconditional love….

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There once was a man who was sentenced to death. Before he was taken away, the condemned man begged the king, “Please allow me three days’ time to put my affairs in order and to make sure that my family is taken care of.”

“How will I know that you will come back?” asked the king. Almost immediately, the condemned man’s best friend raised his hand and said, “I will take his place. If he doesn’t come back, you can hang me instead.”

Three days passed, and the condemned man had not returned. When it came time for the hanging, the king’s guards turned to the man who had offered himself as a substitute and said, “You will have to take his place.”

Just before the noose was slipped over the man’s head, a voice suddenly rang out in the distance. “I’m here! I’m here! Stop! Stop!” The condemned man ran forward from the crowd to take his rightful place on the gallows.

At this point, however, the friend had already made up his mind to die in the first man’s stead. “You were late,” he said. “So maybe this was meant to be my destiny. You have a family who needs you. I’m alone, already here and ready to go.”

The two friends argued back and forth, each one choosing to die for the other. Seeing this, the king declared a stop to the hanging, saying, “My sentence was meant for one man, but I see that if I were to kill one of you it would be as though I were killing two people. Both of you can go free.”

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The point of this story is that each friend was willing to face death for each other and through that act of love, it moved the king’s heart enough to set them both free. For any of us to grow spiritually in life though, it doesn’t necessarily require something this profound to take place either. Nor is it mandatory to diligently attend some form of weekly worship service, study a religious book, or pray fervently. While each of those can hold an important part of one’s spiritual journey, the more decisive actions that help to place us on that path is when we tap into our time, money, or talents and offer them unconditionally to others.

It’s easy for all of us to be in a receive mode, but there are many opportunities every day for us to extend ourselves lovingly to others in a selflessly giving one. A few days ago I was at a light waiting for it to change and there was a homeless man standing there in the steamy heat of the day with a cardboard sign asking for money. The unspiritual, unloving, and selfish me would have thought the person should get a job or that they are going to just take any money they get and go buy alcohol or drugs. But the spiritual and loving me that I’m trying to become today has removed much of those judgments and took action by giving a dollar out of my pocket to the man and telling him “God bless” as I drove away. None of us know just how profound even something like this smallest action of unconditional love could change a person’s life.

And while the story I originally shared above is an extreme example of how an act of unconditional love held great depth and weight, it is a parable that was written by someone to show the potential of love within all of us. Maybe each of us could start seeing that same potential within ourselves by shifting some of our thinking away from what God’s love can do for us in this world, and focusing that energy instead on what actions we can take to start unconditionally loving all of God’s people a lot more.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson