Precepts: Encounters, Create Or Escape & Chess

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Photo source: Runga Life, Tammy Horton Photography

Welcome back to my Precepts series—inspired by meaningful thoughts, insights, and discoveries I have during each week, and intentionally designed to help make your life just a little bit better. 

You can find the series in its entirety here.

Precept 25: Encounters

I believe it was from Michael A. Singer, author of the books The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment, that I first came across the idea that everything you do, every person you meet, every encounter, and every victory or struggle you experience ultimately makes you a better person. This is particularly true if you are living your life with the philosophy that failures and mistakes are fantastic lessons that bring you that much closer to significant learning and success, paired with the philosophy that everything happens for a reason and that there is no such thing as chance coincidence. In other words, God has the entire story of your life already written and planned out for you, and every month, week, day, hour, minute, and second was pre-planned, meant to be, and has a specific purpose.

That argument with your spouse? You can walk away as a better person. A failed business? You have grown. A flunked test? You have learned. A brief exchange with the barista at the coffee shop? You've realized something about yourself and how you interact with others. A wrong turn and ten minutes “lost” driving around? You've discovered something new. A repetitive or even troubling dream? You wake up, write it down, and ponder what it means (incidentally, I've been using and enjoying my new Wander Dream Journal for this. In the same way that the cell lining of your skin and your gut and your liver is constantly dying and renewing, every second of every day, you become a new person, putting off the old you, and bringing in the transformed you.

You just have to be present and mindful enough to recognize how each experience is changing you. If you are, your daily transformation will be remarkable.

Precept 26: Create Or Escape

Society (we, I suppose), often tend to associate the creatives amongst us—the poets, the artists, the musicians, etc.—as troubled souls who are delving into the depths of creativity to release internal angst or to escape from “the real world.” They're the ones who eventually become schizophrenic, bipolar, washed-up, weird old cat ladies and gentlemen. That is sometimes true. It can be easy to run from your grown-up, problematic, adult problems by picking up a guitar, plunking on a piano, splashing paint wildly on a canvas, writing poetry or fiction, and engaging in any other right-brained, creative effort that offers to distract you from the problem you might be procrastinating to fix. Yet, this stereotype often keeps those who are left-brained, logical, rational, problem-solving, business-like, “productive” members of society from embracing every human being's innate desire to create.

This is something I've had to repeatedly tell myself. It's OK if you stop furiously working to take a break at 11 am so that you can randomly go play a song on the guitar. It's OK to step away from the e-mail inbox that slowly eats you alive no matter how many times you get to zero inbox so that you can instead go dip a paintbrush into watercolor and make beauty. It's OK to pause writing the business plan on the word processor and grab a dog-eared journal to go outside and write something about the dandelions popping up in your backyard.

Sure, creation can serve as escapism. But so can productive, noble, laudable work. You simply must ask yourself: am I creating or am I escaping? Am I creating or am I escaping? Am I creating or am I escaping? I am writing this to you while I am supposed to be working on a different article: one about biohacking your nutrition protocol and customizing your diet. But I'm not escaping that project. I'm just taking a break to create something different. Once you discover how to blend such elements of creative creation into every day, you'll find life to be far more fanciful and magical. Read this for more on how to start. 

Precept 27: Chess

God likes to use people like pieces on a chessboard. He moves you forward two squares so that knight up in the right corner can swoop down to you in an L and bless your day while the queen off to your left presents you with a challenge that grows your character and the pawn you've sidled up beside cries out to you for help on a project. Just imagine (and think back to Precept 25!): if every person you came across every day were a piece on the chessboard of life, that means that they were meant to be where they were when you came across them, and you came across them for a very specific, pre-ordained, Providential reason.

I now live my life through this lens. For example, if someone randomly pops into my head, it isn't just random: I'm supposed to call or text them to check in. If I a book falls from my shelf and lands on the floor by my feet, I'm supposed to pay attention to the pages I had folded over when I read it last year. If a magazine I'm flipping through contains a raw cashew-lemon cheesecake recipe that I just can't seem to take my eyes off, it's not a suggestion that I should think about making cheesecake, but rather a kind-of commandment that it's become a part of God's chess game of life and I'm supposed to make cheesecake, I was meant to make cheesecake, and my own life and the lives of others will be better because of the experience of learning it, preparing it, and observing with gratefulness and pride when my family gathers around the dinner table to sink a fork into father's moist, luscious, freshly made cashew-lemon cheesecake.

It's not a coincidence. It's not superstition. It's chess. So pay attention. Everything happens for a reason.

That's it for this week! If you have questions, comments, or feedback below, please leave your thoughts. I read them all!

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4 thoughts on “Precepts: Encounters, Create Or Escape & Chess

  1. Brian Kludt says:

    Ben – we have been created in the image of our Creator; as such, the essence of who we are is in fact creators! If we are to life a “full” life, the act of creating is essential! developing our creative “self” is a critical focal point of a rich life!

    Additionally, I’ve been working with my daughters for years on establishing a balance between “consumption” and “creation”. Our rule of thumb is that we must all spend a portion of our day “creating” lest our day be filled with “consumption”. The girls share with me time after time that shifting to a creative mode rapidly and consistently alters their perspective on the world and subsequently their mindset!

  2. Robert Rolapp says:

    My perspective was taught to me since a child. Still, it’s precept and history and it’s context is considered too much, too out in right field. The idea is fairly simple.

    We all knew each other very well before we were born. What has been written about this idea?

    First of all Father did not create this earth on his own. He commanded its creation is true. Wisdom comes from experience, experience with other souls. If we are children, we hold significant potential to become as our parents. Wisdom can be there as can their knowledge, skills, and even continued affiliations. He commanded the earth to exist and it was. Man alone, was not deemed enough. Woman was given life as a ‘helpmeet’ for the man.

    I suggest we together, and with Father’s acceptance, created zillions of contingency plans to build our lives courageously, in prosperity or failure. Whatever that means. Everything has a reason. It’s all part of the plan. Evil and good all mixed together.

    The purpose is to see if above all else we may turn our hearts and minds to Him during our blindness of the grand design. We gain by choosing prosperity but it’s meaningless if we don’t include Father, gratitude and charity as a light source.

  3. Matt Langella says:

    Hello Ben, Thank you for this. First, the article you wrote about plant based medicine changed me. I ripped through Gal 5 and have came to the same stirring in my soul. Not only did that list have phamakia in it, It also has pornia in it. Which has been a fleshly disaster in my life. In the list of fleshly desires they seem to be all connected. I used to just cherry pick and choose which one I have hard time with. I have used cannabis non stop for the past 5 years. It has blinded me to what I thought was a creative enhancer ( I play music and chess to escape/create) . I thought I needed it to better dad to my 3 boys. I thought I needed it to be a more loving husband. I thought I needed it to be a better athlete. I thought I needed it to be more aware of God. But as you say here with precept 27, I’m reminded God works all things out for Good for those you love Him. Which I’m so grateful for!! I struggle though with not over spiritualizing things. Probably a byproduct of being high and in my had head way too much. God has giving me choice. At the same time I do see divine intervention, and If there is this almighty God, He must see the chess board differently thanI do.He can see the beginning , middle, and end game. Which I think should allow me to just trust and enjoy the encounters I have today. So, I’m going to run with this. Even only being 5 days sober. Going to try to some new lenses on( my wife will like since she is an optometrist) Taking my family today to the world athletic championships In Eugene and excited for what God has in store. Good , the bad, the ugly. All of it. Because ultimately If we trust Him, and believe He is a good, good, father, really what is there to fear? Hopefully I get to meet you on earth one day, but if not we get to party in Heaven together one day soon anyway.

    1. Word man. Glad it resonated. Drugs and porn can rip a soul to shreds!

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