January 27, 2014 – A few days ago, we returned from Furthur’s farewell performances in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Whether these four nights of music were the final performances of Furthur, or simply the band’s final performances before their announced 2014 hiatus, remains to be seen. Whatever the final answer may be, those of us fortunate enough to have made the trip experienced a beautiful week of music and shared experiences with like minded folks, which will take time to fully process.
My immediate takeaway from the week, not surprisingly, has to do with the importance of thoughts, of adopting an appropriate mindset for achieving success and happiness. From the seemingly endless lines waiting to check in to the resort (on average 5 hours for the process!) to the continued problems many experienced with their rooms and long lines for dinner, there were sufficient challenges to being in the right mindset to enjoy the week of the music we love with 2,500 other Deadheads. Some of us managed that shift in mindset quickly, others took longer. What accounts for this difference?
Perhaps the unsung hero of Paradise Waits was Rene Descartes, known as the father of modern philosophy. Describing his youth, Descartes wrote that he spent his time:
“…traveling … mixing with people of diverse temperaments and ranks, gathering various experiences, testing myself in the situations which fortune offered me, and at all times reflecting upon whatever came my way so as to derive some profit from it.”
“And so something that I thought I was seeing with my eyes is in fact grasped solely by the faculty of judgment which is in my mind.” Discourse on the Mind.
Descartes lived his life always reflecting, thinking, on how he might benefit from his life experiences, which led to his famous existential line: Cogito Ergo Sum. I think therefore I am.
Reflecting on your situation in a beneficial manner is what accounts for the difference. Think about what’s going on in your life, and adopt the perspective which gives you the most added value.
A great case in point is a friend on mine, Mike Connell. Mike is, as far as he knows, the only Deadhead funeral director. In fact, Mike, a manager at M. A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station, NY, is a third generation funeral director. Talking on the beach one day, Mike told me about his life and his work. While talking about his approach to work, Mike said that sure he gets paid for what he does, but the money is not his motivation. His real pay, he told me, is, for example, when a mother calls him two weeks after burying her teenage daughter, thanking him for helping make such a tragic day somehow more bearable.
That, my friends, is passion. Mike views his work as a calling: He helps people in distress cope with their loss by providing a respectful ceremony for people bidding their final farewells to loved ones.
How remarkable a mindset to portray funeral arrangements as a means of helping people cope with tragedy! That type of a flexible, searching for the positive spin, broad perspective, is the ingredient necessary to enjoy life.
Looking for the real reason, the real motivation, which propelled us to travel all those miles from our homes to hear the music we all love played by the current incarnation of the “Band beyond description” was the catalyst for shifting our mindsets from frustration to absolute joy as we danced the night away for four nights of glorious music. Focusing on that thought helped many of us enjoy our week in Mexico even after the stress and frustration of the checking in fiasco.
What better takeaway from our trip than one which can help us make and keep our New Year’s Resolutions? Use your thoughts to make sense of your world and choose those thoughts which will help propel you towards your goals. Mike understands this. And every time he performs his job and eases the pain of the day for his clients he gets that reinforcement. How we live our lives is based more on how we approach our days – our perspective, our thoughts – than on what we do. In other words, how we do what we do is more important that what we do. And the “how” is determined by our thoughts.
“I Think, Therefore I Am.”
Consider the possibilities.