The End of Bearing Down

Grin and bear it! Bear down!!


I talked with my dad a couple of days ago. We (or, at least I – I think he has figured this out long before I did) had the discovery that we’re experiencing life in similar ways. Me, with the fallout of traumatic brain injuries, and he with recent post-surgery complications.

In barely the blink of an eye, both our lives dramatically and unpredictably changed.

My dad is a rancher and a farmer in southern Idaho. His ranching roots go back to mid-19th century Texas cattlemen, cattle drives, and Bruneau cowboys.

My grandpa Jones put his family on his back when he was 14 after his dad collapsed in a field and passed away shortly thereafter. From a single cow and a borrowed calf, Robert Jones built a very successful cattle operation in spite of incredible odds.

There was a lot of grinning and bearing it.

Throughout the generational lineage of Joneses, it has always been what we’ve done.

A lot of bearing down.

A lot of pain tolerance.

A lot of pushing through.

A lot of ignoring our own symptoms and challenges so that we can help others.

So, you’ll have to understand, that the other day, my Dad’s words to me were unexpected, but at the same time a healing salve to this broken body.

He talked about how he has always been able to “bear down” and push through. He could always try harder. Throw in more grit. And he could push himself to do what he wanted to do, even if it meant destroying his body.


“No more. It ain’t like it was, David,” he said with a chuckle and the wisdom of years.

He now gets out of his Ford pickup and has to stand for a little while before he can move. A wrist surgery, of all things, gone wrong.

“Is there anything you can do, Dad? Go see a doctor?”

“I ain’t going to see a doctor. I walked into the doc’s office, but came out barely able to stand on my own two feet.”

“This is new to me, David. It’s the first time that bearing down isn’t enough. I can’t just fight through it. Trying harder don’t do no good. I finally have to listen to what my body is saying to me. But, you know, I’m good, I’m thankful. I still have all I need.

In some ways a lot has changed. In other ways, nothing has changed. It don’t help to complain and wish it were different.”

No, Dad. You’re right. Nothing that matters has really changed.

How timely your words.

How timely your words.

Our common stories – albeit at different stages of life – signal the transition from bearing down to listening and responding with right action. One is not right and the other wrong.

But the end of bearing down is upon us.

There is a better way. A way in which listening to the messengers of life is not a weakness, but a strength.

A way that, ironically, takes more courage, more heart, and more grit.

I’ll finish with a poem first read to me by Dr. Richard Miller, written by

Rotter, Debbie

Simply This
At what point did
“Simply This”
“Good Enough”?
Is the Letting Go of
“ Hoping For More!”
A slacker’s excuse?
A dreamer’s despair?
A sad acceptance of consequence?
And when did the

“Need for Adventure!”
And the
“Expectations of Grandeur!”
Get blown like turbulent weather
On to the next generation?

Leaving me
and Still,
and bathed in Contentment?


Breaking into Wholeness

Rivers can teach us a lesson.

They don’t fight the contours and slopes of life, and yet they make an incredible impact wherever they go.

They go with the flow and they are the flow.

I love the way Adyashanti puts it: “If we can let go of the way we think [life] should be, then life starts to reveal its magical qualities.”

We experience life with a sense of wonder and deep satisfaction when we release our illusions of controlling it.

Often, we don’t release our tight, controlling grip unless we experience brokenness.

The gifts of brokenness include firsthand experiential knowledge that the one choice we really have is how we will respond to the present moment.

Brokenness teaches us that we have always been whole and connected at our core.

We talk about people “hitting rock bottom.” How blessed are those who do. What is a rock bottom but that core place that is whole – a place of such integrity that it cannot be moved or displaced or fallen from.

Brokenness, like all paradoxical truth, opens the eyes of our hearts and minds to our wholeness.

May we all live from our wholeness – from our rock bottom – and wholly enter into the magical flow of life.

Waking up in the dirt

One week ago, I woke up lying face-down on a gravel road next to my bike. Today, my body is still in shambles from the hallucination-filled journey to and from that spot.

How did I get there? And why?
Aside from the physical reasons, I think the answer lies somewhere in the realm of “integrity.” Think of integrity as less doing the right thing and more as wholeness and congruence.

We always have the appropriate response to every situation. It’s built into our systems.

However, we often disregard and repress the messengers of one or more of the following: body, mind, emotion, feeling, spirit. When we shut down the messengers, it’s similar to chipping away at the structural integrity of a building. Just as we would lose trust in such a compromised building, we begin to trust ourselves less and less.

We feel lost. We end up making decisions that are not optimal. We estrange ourselves from others. We wonder why nothing satisfies us. We try to prove ourselves. And the list goes on.

In other words, there is a wisdom that comes from welcoming the messengers of our bodies, minds, emotions, feelings, and spirits.

And then there is the fool’s way that demands its own way, represses messengers, and instead listens to the voices of a now-inflated ego filled with a desire to prove itself, to conquer, to win, to separate, etc.

I apparently chose the latter. 😃

Looking back, it now seems fairly clear that I had had the stomach flu the whole night before our bike trip.

There were OBVIOUS signs.

Before I left the house, I literally chased the following thoughts away:

“There is no way I should be leaving my bed today. I feel very sick. I could call so-and-so and they could do the ride without me.”

But I was so consumed with beating my vision issues that I put on the reality blinders.

I was consumed with showing up and finishing a ride I had organized. Consumed with showing I had grit. Consumed with fighting through symptoms. Then, finally, consumed with making it back to the car on my own once it was clear I could not finish the ride with the group. At least there would be some honor in that, right?

Says who? Where did that voice come from?

You see, this is bigger than biking.

It’s about learning how to live lives out of our wholeness.

Not lives to prove ourselves to others. Not lives to stroke our ego. Not lives to show we have what it takes.

But lives where we realize we all have an infinite supply of all we need. Lives where we listen to the messengers, including the ego in its rightful place, and do so out of a place of wholeness and integrity.

Lives where we live out of the knowledge that we already have all it takes.

Perhaps you’re as tired of chasing your tail as I am. Tired of keeping up with the Joneses, tired of living a fragmented life, tired of being disappointed in hollow cultural messages, tired of #ftw, tired of comparing, and instead want to live your life in response to your wholeness. You know what to do.

It begins with listening.

There is no science to it. No steps, although many have devoted lives to creating helpful protocols.

But you don’t have to have a protocol or a program. You don’t need a step.

What you do need is to respond out of your wholeness. To stop repressing unwanted messengers and to stop chipping away at your ability to trust yourself.

The time to begin is now. You know what to do.

No need to wait until you wake up with your face in the dirt.

But if you do wake up with your face in the dirt, you know what to do 😃.