The Heart of the Matter
December 31, 2018

NO time.jpg

When asked to explain his highly abstract Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein made it comprehensible in just two sentences. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute," he said, "and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute."

I can relate. And though I like to think of myself as someone who understands Einstein's perspective, I realized, 14 years ago, that I haven't got a clue.

The year was 2005 and I was in India where I was living for three weeks at the ashram of my long-time teacher and favorite-person-in-the-whole-world, Prem Rawat. My mission? To learn how to coach people from North America who were in the process of being trained to facilitate Prem's Knowledge sessions.

Two weeks into the project, one of the program coordinators mentioned, during one of our evening debriefs, that Prem was less-than-pleased by the quality of teamwork being demonstrated by his various teams around the world -- a comment that immediately got my attention, as I had, within the past few months, created a deck of cards to help teams become as high functioning as possible.


"What perfect timing!" I thought to myself. "Prem wants to upgrade the quality of teamwork among his many volunteers and I just happen to be 95% done with a deck of cards devoted to that very topic."

Badaboom. Badabing.

Later that night, back in my room, still bubbling with excitement, I wrote Prem a letter informing him of the existence of my card deck and suggesting that the two of us collaborate on its completion.

It felt good to write the letter, free as I was, in that moment, of the cloud of doubt that usually surfaced any time I thought of pitching him an idea. You know, the classic kind of mind static that long ago claimed squatter's rights in my head -- junk like "He's probably way too busy to read my letter" or "Who am I to pitch him such a half-baked idea?"

Free of this crapola, I signed the letter, put it in an envelope and, the next day, tracked down someone close to him who promised they would put the letter on his desk within the next few hours. Whoo hoo!

Ten days, later, back home in Woodstock, my time in India having ended, I over-nighted Prem my deck of cards.

According to my new, improved, I've-just-returned-from-India-and-am-clearer-now-than-ever calculations, I figured I'd get a reply from him in a month or so. Two, at the most. After all, I reasoned, my letter, clearly written and brief, was in direct response to a very real need he had expressed and I, having ALREADY created the deck, just happened to be at the right place at the right time. These things happen. They do. There was no denying that. Magic was afoot. I could feel it in my bones.

Eighteen months passed. That's 540 days -- about the time it takes for an elephant to give birth. I got no response. Not a peep -- an outcome, I figured, that wasn't all that surprising, given Prem's insane travel schedule, non-stop events, and who knows how many other thousands of letters he'd received from people during that time, some of whom were probably dying or had much better ideas to pitch him than I did.

Oh well... this wasn't the first time I'd written a letter to him and gotten no response. And it probably wasn't going to be the last. As they say in the old country, "obla di, bla da."

So there I am, in LA, at the Words of Peace expo, after MC'ing one of Prem's events, when, out of the corner of my eye, I see one of his main assistants approaching me at high velocity from across the room and beckoning me with one finger, as if to say, "Drop everything and follow me now!"

And so I did, imagining I must have forgotten to make an important announcement at the end of the event, even though the event had ended 30 minutes ago and the hall was now completely empty.

Falling into step behind this moment's messenger, the two of us weaved our way through several security checkpoints until we found ourselves, parting a curtain, and approaching Prem who was standing backstage, surrounded by four very smiling people.

It was totally still where he was standing. Absolutely quiet -- the unblinking eye of a storm.

"Hi Mitch," he says, sharing a few pleasantries with me. "I got your letter."

I have no idea what he's talking about. None.

"Letter," I think to myself. "Letter? What letter? Did I write a letter?"

Prem just keeps looking at me. It's my move, but I have no moves, just the beginning of a vague remembrance of a letter I wrote some time ago, I think, in India, but could not, for the life of me, remember what it was about. So... I... er... uh... um... just made something up and blurted it out.

"NO!" he said. "Not that. TEAMWORK!"

Now, here, at this precise crossroads of time and space, is where things took a turn for me. Not a left turn. Not a right turn. And not a U-Turn, either. No. The kind of a turn leaves make when the seasons change or someone, shivering, turns to the sun.

You see, the deck I had sent him a year and a half ago was composed of 72 cards, six of which were totally blank except for the titles -- those six cards focused on topics I wasn't yet knowledgeable enough to write about. Prem chose THIS moment to talk about one of those cards. More specifically, the card on PLANNING. Eighteen months had passed from the moment I had mailed him my letter. He remembered. I did not. But as he spoke, it was as if no time had passed. We had entered the timeless place. The gap between sending and receiving, it was now plain to see, was only in my mind -- a gap made all the longer by the story I had told myself about the experience.

It's at moments like this where the perspective of Indian cosmology comes in handy. As I understand it, in the Indian tradition, the in-breath and out-breath God, known as "yugas," are each 20,000 years long. Interesting, eh? 20,000 years for God to take a complete in-breath and another 20,000 years to exhale. Me? My life is marked by a very different kind of cycles. Like "tomorrow," for example, and "next Thursday" or if I'm really feeling long-term, "a year from now."

Eighteen months? Not only isn't it a drop in the bucket, it's not even a molecule in the drop.

Looking back, I guess you could say that my letter-writing-to-Prem experience represents only 14 years of the 20,000 required for God to take an in-breath which, I guess, leaves me just 19,986 years short of a complete inhalation. Maybe by that time my deck of cards will be complete.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2018
Who Can I Share My Joy With?

Hourglass 2.jpg

Photograph: unsplash-logoNathan Dumlao

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2018
Mother Teresa Speaks


If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be Kind Anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends, and some true enemies; Be Successful Anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; Be Honest and Sincere Anyway.

What you spend years creating, others may tear down overnight; Create Anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous; Be Happy Anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten tomorrow; Do It Anyway.

In the final analysis, it's between you and God; It Was Never About You and Them Anyway.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 AM | Comments (2)

December 21, 2018
Giving the Gift of Ourselves


Every year, about two days before Christmas, I experience something I am not particularly proud of.

Thinking about the gifts I've bought for my wife and kids, I get the feeling that I don't have enough for them. This feeling has almost nothing to do with how many gifts I've bought or how "good" the gifts are.

Beyond the quantity and quality of my offerings is the sense that my efforts to express my love for them is lame and doesn't really measure up to how I feel -- and that, somehow, they will be disappointed.

Indeed, there have been some "nights before Christmas" where I've left the cozy warmth of my home to return to the mall, looking for the perfect gift. It's humbling to witness this kind of behavior in me. And it's humbling to admit it. But it's also healing.

In time, with some reflection and a deeper dive into selfhoood, I've come to realize that it's not about fixing my flaws, patching up the quirks in my personality, or compensating for some imagined black hole.


It's about being.

The deep love we feel for the people in our lives begs to be expressed and yet the mind will never be satisfied with the form of its expression. No poem, no song, no diamond, no trip around the world will ever be enough.

In the end, the only thing we have to give -- is ourselves. And that is plenty.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:26 AM | Comments (3)

December 20, 2018
Practice Being Human



Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2018
When People Are at Peace


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:18 AM | Comments (0)

Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

   Contact me