A Little Pocket of Greed

A pole with many different signs on it

It is generally accepted that there are seven deadly sins: Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Anger, Envy, Lust & Sloth (apathy, inactivity). This list will change from time to time, but it gives us the opportunity to evaluate how many we possess.

I suspect that most of us have a little pocket of greed tucked away somewhere inside. It surfaces occasionally by convincing us not to leave a good tip to the waitress; not correcting the grocery store cashier when she makes a mistake in our favor; or walking past a homeless person and thinking they deserve their status because they aren’t willing to work. It can get a lot worse if you are going through a divorce, unhappy with the will your parents left, or think your parents are treating your siblings better than you. Greed is fairly innocuous if kept contained, but open the gate, and it will take control of your tongue, deep down, inside your throat, and the wiggle within your mouth will be ceaseless. I have seen greed with its best suit on, matching tie, shiny shoes and face peppered with cologne to disguise the angry smell that follows it everywhere. There is only one weapon in our arsenal to combat our instinct to be greedy. It, too, lies tucked away inside us, waiting for the gate to be opened. That most potent weapon is kindness. Many wounds have been healed by simple acts of kindness. I can only recall one time that kindness betrayed me. I bailed a friend out of jail, and he skipped out of town, never to return. That betrayal pales in comparison to the misery greed would introduce into my life. Democritus said, “It is greed to do all the talking but not to want to listen at all.†I think that works too. The six other deadly sins? I hope to explore my thoughts on them before long.

😊 I went to the “Dollar Store†recently to get my wife a Valentine card. I prefer to go to our local drug store and purchase one that cost $4.50 – $6.50. I did that for several years when we first met, but I soon discovered that immediately after reading the contents, she flipped it over to see how much it cost. She would make a comment that normally goes something like; “You can buy a perfectly good card at the Dollar Store for a lot less.†I began to feel like the cost of the card overrode the message I was trying to impart. So, now I buy a card at the local Dollar Store and attempt to make it into something more spectacular. I have no idea if I am successful in doing that, but I try. Oscar Wilde said,†When you really want love, you will find it waiting for you.†I believe that is true.

😊 I read that the definition of a friend is “Someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.†I have a few friends like that, and it is a great feeling. It is so easy to say things that do not communicate what you wanted to say. A good example of that is when I visited a close family member a while back. She was trying to explain why her home wasn’t as clean as she normally keeps it.  I responded in an effort to make her feel better, that as a single guy, I vacuumed my home when I could write my name in the dust on the furniture. She later told me that her heart was broken, and she cried for several days. Suddenly, my heart was broken, but I didn’t cry. I sure felt like it though. I resolved never to use that again. I do feel that if she knew me as well as I thought, she would not have interpreted those words to be a criticism. I was expecting her to “sing back my song when I had forgotten the words.” Andrew Card said, “You must taste your words before you spit them out!” It doesn’t always happen ☹.

😊 We have had a few days of weather that’s warmer than usual for this time of the year. And let me tell ya, when that happens, I jump on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich. My wife had a rather large pampas grass in front of our house that she wanted removed. So, we spent one complete day cutting, digging, and filling up the pickup truck. At the end of the day, her Fitbit told her that she had almost 17,000 steps. Mine showed considerably less (I refuse to say how many😊). It feels good to be outside after having spent so many days inside because of the weather. I have friends who keep encouraging me to “Come east/west young man.” However, my wife and I keep resisting the urge, unwilling to leave our family & friends. In Virginia (USA), we have four distinct seasons, and I am reluctant to give them up for one continuous season year-round. I believe that most of us get acclimated to a location and settle down and stay there for the remainder of our life.  Andre’ Maurois said, “Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.â€

😊 I read an article recently about a researcher that studied the effect that charismatic religious leaders have on their followers.  They brought in Christians who believe in the healing power of the divinity and performed an MRI as they listened to their minister pray.  The areas within the brain associated with reasoning, and skepticism were immediately suppressed. Nonbelievers didn’t have the same loss of rational thought.  What this indicates, researchers say, is that we put trust in charismatic people and shut down the reasoning part of our mind.  For example; I visit my doctors on a regularly and, for the most part, whatever they recommend, I do.  I was not aware that parts of my brain were shutting down and telling me, “Whatever your doctor tells you to do is ok!†From now on, my doctors, tax preparers, financial consultants, auto repairmen, and my wife, will see a new and improved me 😊.  I kinda doubt that I will treat my minister differently.

😊 I read a study that looked at 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries and found that while both family and friends are associated with happiness and better health, as people aged, the health link remained only for people with strong friendships.  I find that a little disconcerting and would be more inclined to believe that family is the strongest link.

The study went on to say life expectancy in the U.S. exceeds the global average, clocking in at just under 79 years. In 1900, it was just over 47 years. The extra decades came courtesy of just the things you would expect: vaccines, antibiotics, sanitation, and improved detection and treatment of a range of diseases.  Globally, the average life span is 71.4 years. For a few lucky, people it may exceed 100 years. It has never, to science’s knowledge, exceeded the 122 years and 164 days lived by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who was born when Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House and died when Bill Clinton lived there. Researchers went on to say that increasing physical activity will improve endurance, benefits muscle strength and balance, and reduces the occurrence of serious falls and injuries. It also provides the additional benefit of lifting our spirits.  Sounds like a winner to me!

😊  I listen to music a lot. Mostly, it is country music since I was raised, and remain, a Virginia Hillbilly.  I also enjoy the easy listening pop station  on our XM Radio.  I just finished an article that says listening to music helps keep your mind organized. It appears the beat in the music creates a rhythm in your brain patterns that help organize your thoughts.  The theory is that music may help people that have a hard time controlling their thoughts.  I remember my brother telling me, after he had a stroke,  that his mind raced constantly when he went to sleep.  Maybe, music could have helped with that problem.  I have a close family member with Alzheimer’s and she watches TV all day & into the night.  I wonder if she should be listening to music instead?

“Brain scan studies show that when the brain is stimulated by music, its neurons begin to fire in perfect synchrony with it.â€..Norman Dodge-MD

I am guessing that I need to keep that radio blasting away.

I hope this missive finds you at peace with your family & friends, and as you spin around on this wonderful planet, that you appreciate all God’s blessings.  If you know someone that may be interested in receiving this please let me know …. Tommy