Lunar Letter / Like a Bird

Like a bird, we fly on our way day after day. Sometimes the flight is frenetic and frantic, others calm, cool and collected. Sometimes in a hurry to get someplace right now, others as if we were on a Sunday drive with no place special to go.

Some birds seem to be anguished in their constant search for food, while others fly calmly enjoying the moment, and then suddenly like a rocket plummeting down from the sky, they reach their objective in an instant, satisfying their need for food for several days.

A bird instinctively rises with the sun and flies in search of whatever is necessary for its survival. Sometimes seeking twigs for its nest, others looking for food, either for itself or its chicks. At the break of day its daily journey begins to achieve what it can while the light lasts. They know not of watches or time, rather are ruled by the sun, which comes and goes. Some of their days are full of danger, where death is ever present. Some days they may go an entire day without achieving their objective, and on yet others come across a great bonanza. Regardless, the sky is their playground, and each day is almost the same.

In a similar way, we too spend our days. On some we are like the hummingbird, who in constant movement goes from flower to flower constantly searching for the energy it needs to get through the day. On others we are like an eagle soaring above all, watching each detail calmly until finally finding its objective.

Despite the frenzy in which some birds spend their days, their lives are ironically shorter. Maybe it is this certainty which causes them to take advantage of the time they have, which like it or not, simply goes. Those living longer seem to have a calmer rhythm of life, where survival doesn’t appear to be their primary goal, rather one part of the great whole.

So with this said, my question to you now is:

How is your rhythm day to day?

Like a hummingbird who never stops, or like the eagle soaring majestically above it all?

Though we don’t always realize it, the answers to life’s most important questions generally tend to be inside of us. In many cases we need only open our eyes, shake our heads, and clear the mental cobwebs to find it.  When this is the case, looking someplace else for what we have inside doesn’t usually give the best results.
Directing our attention to our inner voice can lead us to what has always been there. Be like the majestic bird who flies in tranquility, knowing that their flight depends more on what they have inside than their wings, and this to them ultimately brings inner peace.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 27

Lunar Letter / Food for your Soul

Like a great tree that needs nutrients to grow and prosper, we also need food for our soul. Sometimes in life all we need is sun, rain, and wind. In others, these same things can burn, drown, and topple us.

The sun, so vital for the growth of all, can burn us if we don’t protect ourselves from its intense power. The rain which nurtures us, giving us the moisture necessary to hydrate us, can also drown us at times with its power. Similarly, the wind which strengthens our roots and resolve, can also come in hurricane gusts leveling everything in its path.

The tree is marked by the adversity it undergoes, often changing dramatically in form and shape. From our birth and when we are small, our parents or others do the best for our well-being, and then when we can do it ourselves, we give our best effort to advance in life.

Our mind is a chest where we keep our most valued treasures. The content is fundamental for to who we are. If we feed our mind with happiness and a good disposition, our own tree can grow incredibly. If not, or in the absence of proper resources, our trunk and our base will likely become weak due to a lack of nutrients.

We can ask ourselves, where can we find the food we so need for our mind?

I have a proposal which can put you within reach of each of the nutrients you need to feed your mind and your soul.

How to do it?

Piece of cake!

Just come here daily, where I promise to share ideas which can be of use to you. If you would like, I can even send you a daily audio which might be of interest. All you need to do is ask, and it will be yours.

Additionally, if what you would like to do is feed your soul, you need look no farther than to the bookshelves of history; to the writings left as a legacy from brilliant minds like: Socrates, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Machiavelli, Dostoevsky, James, Benedetti, and Mandino, among many others.

There are few problems any of us can face which haven’t been handled at sometime, in some way, by someone, somewhere. Now there are many people offering their services as coaches and mentors, giving us their advice on how to get out of the hole in which we often find ourselves. Nevertheless, and without taking away from their merit, the answer we need not be so far, or hidden in the perception of another.

The majority of the time, deep inside our soul we have the answer we need. Like the tree, rooted firmly in the ground we have the power to build and grow; if we pay attention to our own voice inside, we can find the key to open the lock previously inhibiting our progress.

Look inside yourself. Find the secret and the light you have inside allowing them to come out, dance, play, and shine. As you do this, your soul will be well fed with a new, special energy, opening your path to a new world of opportunities, just as is the case with a big, strong tree.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 26

Lunar Letter / Fight or Flight

One of the most natural instincts we have is to fight or to flee. Without a doubt, these decisions can change our lives forever.

During the revolution for the independence of Venezuela, on July 6th, 1814, some 20,000 people left Caracas toward Barcelona, in the state of Anzoátegui, with Simon Bolivar, fleeing from the Spaniard Jose Tomas Boves. The approximately four thousand people who decided to stay and “fight” encountered a sadistic and ruthless leader with no sympathy. Besides allowing summary executions, he also permitted his men to rape and torture those who remained.

I wonder in this case, who was smarter, those who chose to flee with Bolivar o those who stayed to face their fate through the hate of Boves?

These decisions, among others, mark our existence. History is replete with situations where people have decided whether to take flight from a situation they could no longer withstand, or to stay and fight for what they thought was right.

Some can say those who flee are cowards for not staying to fight for their rights. Others may say those who stay are simply stupid for remaining to be killed, rather than choosing a better life.

Right now we see similar situations in countries like Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela, among others. While those who flee have the opportunity to begin a new life, those who stay and fight are fundamental in generating positive change.

Not everyone has the desire, or the economic wherewithal, to emigrate and begin a new life in a different place. For some, the only option they feel they have is to stay, though I believe we always have the ability to choose, though these decisions are not always easy.

Regardless of the choice made, most important is not the decision as such to fight or take flight, rather the circumstances and the reasons for why the decision are made. Many decide to do nothing, opting instead to have the decision “made” for them. Fighting or fleeing both have their place.

As is the case in the animal kingdom, in some cases it is worth staying and fighting, while in others remaining is a sure recipe for death. The survival of an animal, and in our case of a human being, frequently depends on the decisions made in these critical moments in time.

Those who flee have the opportunity to begin with a clean canvass, with the ability to paint it with the colors they want. For those who stay to fight, frequently the canvass is already stained, which presents a tremendous challenge to paint freely.

When at all possible, before making a decision to fight or take flight, it is important to carefully analyze each of the factors involved in the situation. With the decision made, we should do something to realize our dreams and achieve that which we most desire. Let’s do all we can to take the reins of our life and not simply allow the decision to be taken for us.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 25

Lunar Letter / A Struggle for Power

The struggle for power in Venezuela right now is the same struggle occurring since the beginning of time in nature.

Power tends to be something that we, as human beings, covet at some time or another in our lives. There may be those of us who aren’t mature enough to accept it, or perhaps just too fearful to admit it; but at some point we have all wanted to have power, or use it, at least for a little while.

It’s not common for the person who has control to release it without a fight. It’s nice being the one in control. Whey we say, “Jump,” people ask, “How High?” When we say, “Sing,” people ask, “What song?” An authoritarian style of leadership might achieve its desired objectives in the short term, and perhaps even consolidate power, but over the long-term it tends to leave many discontent in the process. There are others ways of exerting power, which are more subtle, but the result is usually the same. When it comes time for a shift in power, there is resistance, though the law of nature will always choose the winner without pity or prejudice. Those who are stronger and adapt better to change, win the game; while the losers take refuge, if they can.

Changes in power are frequent and constant in history. No empire has lasted forever. The young and the ambitious challenge the more seasoned and powerful until they reach their objective. As long as the one in power is able to repel his enemies with force and the support of his allies, he maintains control. When he can no longer withstand the advances of his rival, whether it be from a crease in his armor, or an all out civil war, power goes in favor of the stronger and more adaptable.

Right now, the struggle for power in Venezuela has gained the interest of world, and the way things are going it promises to be historic. Due the magic of modern communications, millions of people are aware everywhere of what is happening, and they can see first hand the daily occurrences rocking a country on the verge of collapse.

The questions on the minds of many are:

Will the current regime consolidate power to rise and rally, or will the armor crack, leading to their defeat and giving rise to new leadership?

Will the people warm to the idea of leaving a position of comfort and convenience, to work hard and honestly for the country which so badly needs them?

If a change in power does occur, are those who want power prepared to manage a country so divided?

These and other questions will come up along the way. Without a doubt we will see nature take its course, as the stronger and more adaptive to change wins in the struggle for power.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 24

Lunar Letter / A Separate Reality

Many of us live in “separate realities” due to our different points of view, expectations, and experiences. Sometimes these can be good and at others, not so.

In August of 1992, almost 25 years ago, I arrived to Venezuela between two coup attempts taking place that same year. Because of the difference in language and culture, I found myself initially in a separate reality, understanding little of all the commotion around me. My way of thinking and expressing myself marched to the beat of a different drum than those in my new home. Nevertheless, in time I became accustomed to my new reality, which despite all of its craziness, I began to like, and as such have now been here after so many years.

At the time, I also became aware of another separate reality. I found that despite not having many of the things I had been taught to be necessary for happiness, many were happy anyway. On the other hand, in the United States, where I was born and raised, I saw others who were unhappy despite living the “American Dream” and having all the toys money can buy.

In 1999, I moved to Argentina where I saw another separate reality begin to unravel and which culminated in 2002, when the government lost control of the artificial parity they maintained between the Argentine peso and the US dollar. The result was an “economic adjustment” leading to a “corral”, effectively devaluing the value of Argentine investments from one day to the next and dramatically limiting access to investors’ capital. Panic led to demonstrations, looting, and general dissatisfaction within the society.

In recent years, I have lived a separate reality, once again in Venezuela where the government sees one reality and the opposition another. We now live in an “actual reality” where the same event can have two completely different versions depending on who you listen to. Pay attention to only one of the two political forces, and they each seem to be right. Listening to the arguments of both leads to confusion and a lack of confidence, and in many cases, it’s virtually impossible to know who to believe.

Living in a separate reality can be convenient at the time, so as not to get carried away by what is happening around us. Nevertheless, there comes a time when it’s necessary to come back down to the actual reality surrounding us, accepting what we cannot change and modifying what is within our control.

The reality today in Venezuela is that it isn’t easy to happy with the hate, anger, and division in the society. As such, Venezuela needs a new reality; one designed to unify a divided country. Instead of making new laws, we should abide to those that are existing, while increasing productivity, well-being, and tranquility.

In order for this to happen, each of the “separate realities” should come together on one important point: instead of talking about “us” and “them”, we should begin to work in function of the betterment of “all”, covering us in an environment eliciting a wonderful collective smile.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 23

Lunar Letter / Beyond the Next Bend

Have you ever felt like the weight of the world was on your shoulders?

I think we have all had the feeling every now and again. Economic, social, and political problems abound in the news around the world. Incessant inflation, social unrest, and political conflict with no end in sight tend to be an everyday thing for many.

What can we do to handle all these challenges?

While each situation is different, and there isn’t one answer that works for everything, to start we need only get beyond the next bend. Life is like a road full of extremely long stretches, dangerous curves, high passes and deep valleys. Each part can seem like a sensational dream or like a a terrible nightmare.

The only thing we need to do is to get past the next curve in the road. While it seems quite simple, sometimes it can be difficult. Nevertheless, think about the fact that a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step and the only part of the road where we can leave our footprints is right beneath our feet.

We can hope, and even obsess about something beautiful at the end of the road, but I insist life is about living this moment, right now. It’s common to fret about what we’ve already done and worry about what’s to come, but the truth of the matter is that the only thing we can do is to act in the present. No amount of anxiety can change what has been done in the past and worrying about what hasn’t happened is an exercise in futility leading only to frustration.

Concentrating only on making it to the next bend, we can leave done what is already done, while also leaving tomorrow for tomorrow. Each day to its own. Some days we may take only a few steps, and on others fall back. Then there will be those when everything is going right and with the wind in our sails, we go much farther, as if we were skipping over water.

Staying with on our feet firmly on the ground, our eyes firmly on the horizon, and taking one step after another is the best way to get to closer to where we want to go. Have you ever thought about the number of drops of water it takes to fill a river? Each one by itself, separate and apart, doesn’t do much, but together they create majestic rivers and magnificent lakes.

Concentrate your effort on what you can do right now to get to where you want to be tomorrow, taking the steps necessary daily to get there. Remember, Rome was not built in a day and life is not an isolated event, rather a series of occurrences making up our journey. Do what is in your power to manage each situation as it arises, giving your best effort daily. To get to where we want to go, we will get there more pleasantly and with less fatigue when we focus only on getting just beyond the next bend in the road.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 22

Lunar Letter / Play Life

Life is like a board game…

Like every game, we first throw the dice to start. As a result, we get our starting point, where we are born in the world. Some are fortunate enough to have both parents present at the event, others go their entire lives without knowing them. Some come into the world with a silver spoon in their mouth, others are lucky if they get anything to eat. Some are healthy, while others struggle for each breath. In this way, we each begin the game of life.

Our road takes different directions depending on a series of decisions. The decision, or the circumstances, bringing our parents together and their subsequent union. The decision to take the pregnancy full term, thus starting us out in the game of life. As we grow there are other decisions determining where we live and where we will study.

After this initial phase, we are the ones in large part making the decisions.

Who will friends be?

What will our pastimes be?

What will our profession be?

Our failures and successes early on depend a great deal on our environment, but there comes a time when we need to take responsibility for our lives. Chance determines where we begin this magical game, we elect where and how far we are willing to go.

Along the way there will be traps to be overcome and lessons to learn. There will be paths to take, some fun, others not. Some of our decisions will give much satisfaction, others much cause for concern. Loved ones will stay by the wayside and our most valued treasures will fade with time.

Some of the things happening to us will give rise to contemplate our part in the great whole, others will simply come and go…

In the great scheme of things, we need to determine our role. We can play the role of the victim, looking for someone to blame; or take responsibility for our faults, taking pride in what we do and striving to do better as we continue on this incredible ride.

Regardless of our place in the game, how about if we take the lead role rather than simply being a part of the background? We should take the reins of our destiny so as not to get stuck along the way, like the others who have already reached the end of the highway.

Let’s rise and rally daily, giving thanks for the new day before us and for being part of this marvelous creation. Let’s rise and rally with energy and enthusiasm taking each day in the best possible way in spite of difficulty the game may have in store for us today.

Play the game and be part of life.  When we see life as a fun, exciting game, we can overcome each difficulty being calm, cool, and collected.  Most important is not each winning or losing on each move we make rather enjoying the process. We can give our best effort to play the game daily making our own space in time, from here to eternity.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 21

Lunar Letter / Purpose

Why are we living here on Earth?

What is the meaning of life?

Where are we headed?

When will we arrive?

Which is the way?

Who knows the answer?

We contemplate these, and other existential questions, as we consider our purpose in life. The answers allow us to determine where and how we are headed.

It seems to boil down to becoming “successful”, and so comes into play our belief in success, and thus determine our purpose. It is common to think success is related to having a certain amount of money, enabling us to bask in the sun with our beverage of choice on a beach somewhere in paradise. While surely it is nice to think about doing this for a few days, or maybe even several weeks, after a couple of months it would surely be quite boring. What meaning can life possibly have, if we do nothing?

Why would doing nothing eventually be boring?

Every living being is meant to be useful. Everything has its purpose. If the bees and insects are of benefit in the food chain in their own way.

Shouldn’t we also be useful?

Throughout history we can see examples of people who have come together with others to achieve an objective, drive change, or simply to be useful. When it comes to survival, we all must do our part.

It’s worthwhile to ask:

How useful are you?

What value do you give?

What is your purpose in life?

To whom are you important?

Who benefits from your actions?

What is your part in this great whole?

What can you do to better what you do?

Most important aren’t the answers we give, rather the questions we pose. The rules of life are quite easy and not very complicated. Everyone must be useful in life and do their part. When we are useful, we are able to enjoy the best it has to offer because sooner or later, we receive what we give.

Finding our purpose in life isn’t always easy and it can take an entire lifetime to do; but when we do, we become an integral part of the great whole. Sharing that special something we all have is one of life’s greatest greatest gifts.

If you are still not sure about your purpose, find it and share it with the world. Life does not consist in working so that one day we can do nothing, rather finding that something keeping us alive and in the present each day as we give the best we have to offer to the world.

Purpose gives meaning to life.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 20

Lunar Letter / Be Congruent

Among our most difficult challenges is to be congruent with what we feel and who we are. From the time we are small children, we are infused with ideas about the rules and norms we should follow; about what is right and wrong, as well as what we should and should not do.

As a child, we are told: “Big boys don’t cry,” and, “Little girls should always look pretty.” Nevertheless, the pain producing tears doesn’t distinguish between gender, and we all have a bad day every now and then, even if we are beautiful. We are taught in school to be the best student in the class, instead of being instructed to learn and to be wise. We were rewarded when we followed the rules and punished when we went outside the limits. We were taught to embrace the the model of a responsible father and a loving mother.

As we grew, we also learned we should always be happy and motivated, because being depressed and down doesn’t “look good”, and as such, isn’t allowed. We have been trained to dress impeccably before going out into the world, and of course, we should always have a smile from ear to ear. We have been educated to grin even when we feel bad and to say “thank you” and “please” even when it doesn’t seem right. We have been conditioned to be quiet, when it makes no sense.

It’s worthwhile to ask ourselves

Why have we been brought up this way and who is responsible for filling our heads with so many prejudices between what is good and bad?

More than society, which makes a great scapegoat, it has been our own parents, and their parents before them. With the best of intentions they transmitted a series of ideals about characteristics a perfect person should possess, which by the way, are virtually impossible to achieve.

Has there ever been anybody whose behavior was beyond reproach, at all times, and with no exception?

Is there anyone who in a moment of weakness has not said even a “little white lie” with the justification of not making someone feel bad?

It’s easy to talk about honor, honesty and even integrity, but it’s very difficult (if not impossible), to live a life without mistakes or an occasional black cloud covering our world.

Is it realistic and desirable to want to be the perfect person we have been told we should be?

Is there anything worse than going to a job we hate, or having to live over and over again the same drama with the same person?

Instead of trying to be the perfect person in some fairy tale, we can give our best effort to be the best we can be by being congruent with what we feel, think, and do, taking into account that:

We don’t always feel good

We don’t always want to go out like a smiling “knight in shining armor”

We don’t always want to be working in a dead end job leading us absolutely nowhere

We don’t always want to have the same discussions, for the same reasons, with the same people

When we understand that what is really right and wrong has more to do with what we feel inside than anything outside, we begin to comprehend it isn’t necessary to conform or bend to every norm we have ever learned. In addition, we can recognize our parents, teachers, and others who have influenced us, have not wanted to purposely hurt us, and on the contrary, they have wanted to help us; though many of their teachings don’t hold up under reality.

So, what can we do?

We can be congruent by giving our best effort, despite not feeling good

We can be congruent by saying “I can’t go on” when our body says, “Stop!”

We can be congruent by doing the best we can in the job we have, knowing it is what keeps us alive and can get us to where we want to go

We can be congruent by saying, “Enough,” to the person who continues like a scratched record, saying the same things over and over, we don’t want to hear ad infinitum.

Life isn’t always brilliant, beautiful, and bright. There are times when we will not feel good and when it seems as if the weight of the world is upon us. In those instances, we can give our best effort with what we’ve got, where we are, and how we are. Being congruent is knowing that even though we may not be perfect, we are perfect in our own imperfection.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 19

Lunar Letter / Financial Freedom

While many strive for financial freedom, few actually seem to attain it.

Why do so few people achieve this worthy ideal?

The problem doesn’t tend to be one of education, or earning capacity, rather a lack of planning. If we don’t plan our financial health, we will be like a ship without a rudder or a sail on the high seas of life, constantly being pushed and shoved by circumstances. When we have a plan to achieve financial freedom, inconveniences are but minor detours.

While there are many ways to define financial freedom, I will define it this way:

“Financial freedom is being able to do what you want to do, where you want to do it, and with whom you want to do it.”

Looking at financial freedom in this way, it isn’t so difficult to achieve, though it is far from easy. It takes determination, perseverance, and persistence. In most cases, it takes time, though there are always exceptions.

Three steps to put you on track to financial freedom:

1) Pay yourself first: Before paying others, pay yourself first. While we tend to pay the electricity, the telephone, the water, as well as the rest of our bills without thinking twice about them, the payment many miss is to pay themselves. I suggest you pay yourself 10% of everything you earn. Aren’t you worth it? If you are really good at what you do, why not pay yourself a bit more? I know it seems impossible, and in the beginning it is difficult, but you can establish the habit of putting aside 10% of everything you earn. You will soon learn you can manage the rest of your expenses by either reducing them or making more money. It’s that simple.

2) Use a professional: When investing your money, seek out the right professional to advise you along the way. Would you ask your best friend to fix your plumbing, if he isn’t a plumber? Of course not, so why would you ask him for investment advice? When you are ready to invest your money, look for an expert in the area you want to invest. If you want to invest in diamonds, find a jeweler; if you want to invest in real estate, find a real estate professional; if you want to invest in the stock market, find an investment professional. Taking advice from the wrong person with your hard earned money can be a very costly mistake.

3) Invest in yourself: After you have saved enough money to cover unexpected emergencies, begin to invest in yourself. Buy your own home, invest in your education and in your self-improvement. Find out what it is that you really love and enhance your ability to do it, because when you love what you do for a living, you will be happy. One goes with the other. Invest your time and money to become the best you can be at that activity. Once you do, you will never have to work another day in your life, and the money will come readily.

The majority of people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Reaching financial freedom isn’t about having a specific amount of money in the bank. It is about wisely using your financial resources to take care of short, intermediate and long-term necessities. Paying yourself first, using professionals and investing in your future gives you the wherewithal to create your own life doing what it is you love to do, where you want to do it, and with those you want to do it with; this is financial freedom.

∞ Rob McBride ∞
LL IV 18