It’s interesting how things circle back around when we need them to. This happens regardless of whether we like it or not. It’s safe to say, most of the time we won’t like this Divinely timed spiral. Thirty years ago, when I started down this holistic path, I used a tape (yes, a tape) with a visualization about going to school. This astral schoolhouse that emerges from the forest in an idyllic, “Little House on the Prairie” setting, has stuck with me over the years and returns to me as I write a portion of this column in the school line waiting for my daughter.

If you’ve read our columns before, maybe you recall warnings of being a perpetual student. Good advice I still stand by. That said, as with most other things in life, this is a shade of grey. If it’s helpful, envision always being in a perpetual state of discovery rather than waiting to be discovered or rescued. Inert as opposed to using one’s inertia, no matter how small, to propel oneself to be better than the day before.

Fervent work with my aforementioned visualization tape during my formative years stuck with me. Fortunately, our internal work is cumulative. Conversely, lack of internal work is also cumulative. Approximately twenty years ago, “Little House on the Prairie” morphed into a reoccurring dream set at the University of South Carolina during sleepy sleep time. Don’t worry, this isn’t a Clempson/Carolina piece, but I am beside myself that football season is upon us. No, my theory as to why this dream always takes place at Carolina is because it was my first true home other than the supportive home in which I was raised.

In the ensuing schoolhouse decades, I learned to ask, or be open to, such questions and ideas, like, “Why has President Grant’s last image been sticking with me lately?” Granted, I am a history buff, but I’ve learned to look beyond the obvious and consider the subtle possibilities. Do I believe that ole Ulysses is talking to me from the other side. The short answer is yes, but the longer is a question. Why does it matter? Why does it matter where info and inspiration come from? Part of that answer is trusting yourself now, isn’t it?

How do we garner that trust with ourself? Start by spinning the axiom, “pick your battles”, to your advantage. Notice where there’s selective outrage within. In the sports world, we see this with LIV Golf vs. the PGA Tour. In the daily lives of the rest of us outside of professional sports, we see it as us versus them. For example, take the quote, “$750 per month for my insulin, but the heroin addict gets his seboxin for free.” Fair? No, but what good does it do to war against that guy over there? Now, let’s direct our lens internally with this notion.

“If we are to have another contest in the near future of our natural existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be the Mason and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.” As I was searching for President Grant’s final image taken four days before his passing, his quote approached me as being as pertinent for today as it was during the pivotal time in our nation’s history that he spoke it. To this quote I would add an observation and a question: Does there seem to be a lack of interest in healing ignorance? Recent initiatives to ban books seem to answer this question in the affirmative. In fact, it seems some are aggressively clinging to their ignorance.

Back to the crux of the matter: Within yourself, this horse-blinder outrage may materialize as shame. Shame is a cloak or umbrella for everything we’d like to ignore. Often, we are unaware of this ignorance until we begin to pay attention to shame. Shame can be our way in. True, we all have done things we should be ashamed of, but that’s not what I’m getting at. This type of shame is chameleon in nature. Imagine the notion of learning to live without said shame.

Speaking of inspiration, I feel I’m learning more from my daughter than she is from me. I say often that she’ll be running the family soon and she’s only thirteen. Early on, we did our best to instill in her what the true spirit of initiative is. The gist of our message to her was and is, “In the end, you must educate yourself if there is a fire yearning to learn. Trust this fire. You want all that smoke.”

What has all this taught me? I’ve ignored myself far too long. Time to take my own advice. The reoccurring Carolina dream is me circling me back to what needs working on while presenting accomplishments made using a comfortable and familiar setting as a backdrop. This is not a static dream, the same scenario on rinse and repeat. A dream of this nature that never advances would definitely be an unkind rewind. No, as I pay attention, or love, to the shameful parts of me, the dream progresses as time ticks by. I probably have about 15 of these dreams (that I remember) in a given year.

When you take away a person’s choice, you take away their freedom. Shame suffocates choice. The power to provide life-affirming oxygen is in each of our hands.

We all start simple then toil to complexity, sometimes for complexity’s sake. What if simplicity is the wealth we should all be chasing? Simply put, pay attention. Read banned books as well as developing your own meditative practice.

How will you choose to use your inertia?