Mind Over Matter and Meeting Jim
Today marks my 68th year on the planet. I’m not telling you this to encourage birthday wishes, as we all have them (thank goodness), and I have no expectations that anyone cares that another year has passed in MY life when we really mostly care about our own. But, it is a time to reflect on the past; not to not live in it, but learn from it.
Yesterday at Après-Midi, which we held LIVE at the Cafè de la Mairie, as we have monthly since 2003, we watched the documentary about Jim Haynes, Meeting Jim. Produced by a young group of filmmakers, the film was nominated for Best Documentary at its World Premiere in June 2018 at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Our viewing of it was by special permission of the producers and Jim himself, who all came together the last 30 minutes of the event on Zoom to answer our audience’s questions.
If you don’t know who Jim Haynes is, you will want to. I’ve written about him on many occasions, so feel free to look back at our archives, or just Google him, or buy the DVD of the documentary, to go deeper into who and why this man has made such an impact on our lives—all of ours, around the world, even if we don’t know it. He claims to be a citizen of the world, and in the 70s, he created and sold a World Passport to prove it!
In one scene in the film, Jim explains that he learned from his father something that impressed him for the rest of his life. “Jim,” he said, “when you do something wonderful for someone, forget it instantly. When someone does something wonderful for you, remember it forever.” That really struck us all at the gathering. It is a sentiment that makes for a very giving person who doesn’t expect anything in return for the good deeds he’s done and appreciates all the good in everyone else. That’s definitely Jim.
Jim is about to turn 87 on November 10th. He’s struggling with his health, and it’s the only time I’ve ever heard him complain about anything. He won’t say “It sucks,” because “Suck” is the name of a sexual freedom newspaper he created in 1969 based in Amsterdam. He also often jokes that “there’s nothing wrong in sucking!” But, he does complain about getting old since he has so much more life in him to give, not to take.
In the film he also imparts his wisdom on us about being happy—that we make our own decision to be happy or not; that we control our minds and our moods. He could not be more right. I’ve been doing a lot of personal study into “mind over matter” and discovering how true this simple statement is. We are who we think we are.
“Cogito, ergo sum” is the philosophical statement that was made in Latin by the French philosopher, Renè Descartes, usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am.” Further explained, he said, “we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.” But, the truth is that it’s NOT TRUE! We exist whether we can think or not! The real translation should be “I think, therefore I know I am.”
Either way, we do think. Our brain cells do generally connect and that is what controls everything we do or think. We can be happy or sad, healthy or ill, open or closed-minded, skinny or fat, fearful or fearless, etc., etc., etc. We can decide who we want to be. We can decide to tackle just about everything thrown our way, the way we want to. It’s all a matter of mind over just that…matter.
So, here I am at the ripe old age of 68 wondering where all the years went and looking back at the many different lives I’ve had; all the things I’ve done or accomplished…or not, but wanted to. Each step along the way has been a building block to a richer, deeper understanding of self and an awareness of how we are all so interconnected, starting with the atoms and molecules that form our physical bodies to the air we breathe and food we eat that influence our very existence.
I know that if I hadn’t moved to Paris 26 years ago, life would have been very, very different than I know it now. I might still be spending much of my life driving a car, living in a bubble with blinders on, maybe not even realizing how we control our own minds and our own destinies. If we could all just take Jim Haynes’ advice to be the open-minded, generous, loving people we know we can be, then our whole world would be a very, very different place, regardless of what nation in which we’ve chosen to live.
From Jim’s lips to God’s ears…or is it the God within us to whom we should be praying?
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. To look into our Après-Midi future, visit that page for who will be speaking next and what their presentations will be about. And plan to attend them all!