🧡”The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” ~Sharon Salzberg
I ran across that quote, and it allowed me to pause and think about its meaning. That thought has never crossed my mind, and I’m not sure I agree with it, but then again, there’s a nugget of truth therein. I’m aware I can avoid some misery by concentrating on something else, but there are some you cannot avoid. My son was suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2018 and passed away shortly after the diagnosis. That misery was unavoidable. We moved from a spacious home into a cottage half its size and had to give away or sell many of the things we treasured. That misery was avoided by changing our attention to adapting to our unfamiliar environment, making new friends, and creating new routines in our life.
Happiness is not something you want to avoid. The effort is to keep it around as long as possible. I believe two of the key ingredients for happiness are your positive thoughts and your wiliness to make those thoughts part of every day.
My mother was a good example of that very concept. Dad drank often and as young boys, my brother and I worried about him. My mother refused to be depressed, at least around us, and always had a cheerful attitude. It’s incalculable how much that meant to us. We all have read that a child of an alcoholic, even as an adult, is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I find myself, at my advanced age, falling into that pattern. And, per Ms. Salzburg, I know I can evade that misery by changing my attention to something else. I kinda think I’ve always done that. I just never realized it.
❤️Recently, my friend (Jerry) asked me if I would follow him to the nearby Buick dealership the next morning. His car needed attention, and he needed a ride back to his apartment in our retirement village. We made plans to stop off for breakfast at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant on our return. That sounded like fun to me, so I assured him I would be happy to do it. I am seldom around men only. There always seems to be a woman present, and men talk about different things when they aren’t near. Mostly, it’s about sports, cars, finance, fixing something, etc., but we don’t talk about that around female company because we suspect they aren’t interested in it. Do I enjoy female company, definitely, but I think it’s important for each sex to reserve time to enjoy each other’s company.
Anyway, Jerry dropped his car off at the dealership, and we headed around the corner to the restaurant and ordered our food. Cracker Barrel makes a darn good breakfast, and as we sat there bantering back and forth, I realized I was really enjoying myself. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how little it takes to make me happy. Of course, friends of excellent character (like Jerry), and excellent food, have always done that for me.
Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” I Couldn’t agree more 😊.
❤️ I devised what I think is an ingenious plan that will encourage me to get up from my desk and go outside for a walk. My original title was, “Pay to Watch”, but my wife convinced me to change it to, “Walk to Watch” and that’s a better title. It specifies that I have to walk one mile (2,000 steps) for each hour of television I watch (Mon-Fri). I may revise it later to include Saturday, but for now, I’m leaving it at 5 days per week.
Normally, we sit down nightly at around 7:30 to gaze at the “tube” interminably (3 hours). “Walk to Watch” requires me to take at least 6,000 steps if this old man wants to squander that much time. Considering how much of that precious commodity I have left to wander around on this beautiful planet, it causes me to consider whether that’s an effective use of my limited resources. Of course, I have always known that my existence on earth wasn’t unlimited. I just never considered that I would use so much of it so quickly.
The goal of this well-thought-out plan is to allow me to prolong the date and time of the endgame and be fairly healthy when it happens (although the Holy Bible tells us it is set in stone). If the date and time can’t be changed, then at least I may affect the health thing?
I won’t have trouble meeting the challenge on Mon, Wed, & Fri, but Tuesdays & Thursdays will require a major change in my daily activities.
It has been in place for a week and has been successful thus far, but the rub comes when I’m weeks into the change and my body is trying to convince my brain to forget about it. I discovered long ago that my body was pretty good at doing that very thing.
I figure that if I can stay with it for a couple of months, it’ll become a habit, and then my body sees it as a hopeless situation and gives in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Only time will tell 😊.
I kinda like this quote by Aristotle: “Learning is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.”
❤️ We have two new friends (Nancy & Richard) and, as it happens, they are members of our church, and our paths crossed occasionally. We go to the 0845 services and they to the 11 am, so we saw each other infrequently. They moved into our retirement community a couple of months ago and we have been enjoying Sunday brunch with them weekly.
Nancy has impressed me with her knowledge of sports. Yeah, I know, I said women weren’t interested in sports, but she’s the exception.
I have known very few women that are interested in watching testosterone-driven male athletes perform. My wife will watch Sunday NFL games with me, but she soon drops off to sleep and awakes occasionally to look at the score and then returns to her slumber.
My son was an avid sports enthusiast, and he could talk for hours about the current state of affairs in all the sports. He knew the names of the players, what college they attended, and there were times I thought he was going to tell me the names of their parents 😊.
Well, I think Nancy can do the same thing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost interest in sports, but I enjoy watching a game here and there. I’m betting that when Nancy opens the paper, she heads straight for the sports section and reads everything in it, and her weekends probably include watching her favorite teams play. I would be surprised if she doesn’t have ESPN “SportsCenter” on speed dial😁.
We could say that thinking only men care deeply about sports is sexist. All I can say in response is that in my 80 years on this planet I have only known three women that were deeply interested in sports and Nancy ranks either 1st or 2nd in that group. I can also say that when men talk about sports and women are around, their eyes glaze over and they appear to be wishing to be anyplace other than being stuck in a conversation about sports.
I have to say that I’m always impressed when I’m around someone that’s well versed in any subject. I quickly discovered after moving here that there are many people with a lot of knowledge in this community. Regrettably, I should have known that to be true. I often read reports created by a “Think Tank.” I’ll bet there’s enough knowledge to start one here. I’m contemplating calling it, “The Senior Thinkers,” or perhaps, “The Elder Brain Trust”? Although, I doubt that anyone on our campus thinks of themselves as elderly. 😊
Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
♥️ Well, chilly weather has silently crept into our area. I woke up this morning, and Alexi (Amazon) informed me that the temperature outside was 32° and the high was going to be 44°. I have to say that I am not ready for that amount of cold, and it seems like we were fighting temperatures of 95° just a few weeks ago. I am thankful that I don’t have leaves to rake and all the other outdoor activities that go with fall. I planned to fly my drone today, but the wind was too stiff, and I had to cancel those plans. I do like having four seasons. I have friends and family who live in California and Florida. They just love having sunny weather all the time, but I enjoy having seasons.
I often write to my good friend (Dale) in Florida and tell him about our cold temperatures, and he takes absolute delight in telling me it’s 75° and he’s playing golf every day. I can almost see the broad smile on his face. He lives in what is probably the largest retirement center in the USA, The Villages, and when we visited him a few years back, he tried to convince me I didn’t have to die to go to Heaven; all I had to do was move to “The Villages”! 😊
I am pleased he enjoys his retirement so much. Of course, the people in California are just as bad, if not worse, than Floridians. Everyone out there believes all good things start there and then spread east 😊. I have to admit that I enjoyed myself while visiting both places, but if I had to pick, then it would be the west coast. My biggest concern would be the lack of rain they get yearly. Seems they are constantly fighting wildfires and the destruction of many, many homes. We have relatives that live in California, and we worry about their welfare.
Bottom line, there is a distinct possibility that any place you live on this planet has its pros and cons. We know those and still choose to live in that area. My primary reason for living in this area is because I came here in 1963 looking for a job at the local shipyard. I have been here for 58 years and have made my last move. There’s a sadness to that thought, but we all make our final move at some point in our life. Mine came sooner than I thought 😊.
I enjoyed this quote by Huck Finn, “ain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”
♥️My usual routine is to work out at the gym on Tuesday and Thursday. I walk up there from our cottage around 2:30pm, set my Fitbit watch for 51 minutes, and cycle thru the fifteen machines they have that will turn me into Charles Atlas. Seldom do I encounter anyone else, but occasionally a guy about my age, in a wheelchair, comes in and goes thru his paces, and he works harder at it than I do. I am always impressed when he rolls in and starts his workout. Like me, he has recognized that if he wants to stay healthy, he has to do healthy things and keep moving.
I read an article a while back that said we start losing muscle mass in our thirties. I’m guessing that the muscle fades away, and fat slowly takes its place 😊. At least that’s what happened to me. Anyway, back to the person in the wheelchair. As he goes from station to station, he struggles in and out of his chair but never complains, and when I get the chance to observe his face, I see a look of satisfaction in what he is doing. It’s as though he’s defeating an enemy. What an inspiration!
When I leave the house, I put in my earbuds, turn on an audiobook, head for the gym, and keep the book going until I return home. It’s a job for me, but not for him. It’s a battle, and he’s gonna win! I need to find out what he puts in his water that gives him that drive and enthusiasm.
When lifting weights, you can always tell how hard a person is working by how much they grunt. This fellow grunts a lot! As for me? Well, I seldom grunt, so you can see how much good I’m doing. My excuse is that I’m just toning my muscles, not trying to build muscle mass. Sounds kinda lame to me. I think I’m gonna try to do better, work harder, and see how it turns out. Who knows, maybe I’ll get that Charles Atlas look.
Edgar Allan Poe said it so well, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Ahh heck, that Charles Atlas thing is probably a pipe dream 😊.
♥️ We had dinner a few weeks ago with our newly acquired friends, Mike & Mary, and they invited us back to their apartment to enjoy a glass of coffee brandy. I had never tasted brandy before, and neither had my wife, so we thought it would be a fun thing to do. We walked into their living room, sat down, and the conversation began. We old people have no difficulty keeping a robust discussion going because we have so much to draw from. It’s sorta like a well that’s full and one that’s only half-full. Shortly, Mike says, “Are you ready for some brandy?” We responded positively to his question, and off he goes to the next room and brings back four glasses and a hefty-looking bottle. He says we need to swirl it around in our mouth to get the flavor before swallowing. My wife followed his instructions and as the brandy departed her mouth for a trip to her stomach, her face conveyed the look of someone that had just swallowed a lizard. Mike looked at her and asked if she liked it, and her reply was an adamant “No!” as she shook her head. She immediately handed me what remained in her glass and asked me to drink it for her. I enjoyed both glasses of that potent stuff, but then, most men never need a reason to drink alcohol. Many of the women here enjoy a good glass of wine. My favorite alcoholic drink is beer, but it’s Jack Black & Coke for more potent stuff. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s Jack Daniels Bourbon (black label-they also have a green label). The black label is aged longer in their oak barrels.
We visited with Mike & Mary for about an hour, and during that time, he took us into his Den to allow us to see his “Baptist Bar.” He had a large, wooden world globe sitting beside his chair, and it opened up to reveal his selection of alcoholic drinks. I could tell he enjoyed having that bit of deception by the great big ole smile on his face. It always amazes me how little it takes to make us old guys happy 😊. We left their home, pleased that we had made new friends, and walked back to our cottage about 5 minutes away. I noticed on the way that my legs were a little wobbly, and I’m guessing the brandy had a little kick to it. Needless to say, I slept well that night.
We are thankful that The Lord is faithfully sending new friends in our directions, sometimes almost weekly. I often wonder why it took me so long to value friendships. Oh well, better late than never!
Benjamin Franklin said, “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” I’m not so sure I agree with him. I think reasonable men can have faith.
♥️ ”No one is so old as to think that he cannot live one more year.” ~ Cicero
I ran across that quote the other day and I completely agree with it. The exception would be for someone that is very sick, or very unhappy. Many of us have gone thru traumatic periods in our lives that prompted us to wish it would end swiftly. I was in my mid-forties when it happened to me. My two children were grown and out on their own, and their mother and I were empty nesters. She was struggling with some serious psychological problems. I was unhappy at work, and life just seemed to crash down on top of me. Suicide never crossed my mind, but I remember thinking that if I were killed instantly in a car wreck, I wouldn’t be unhappy with the results. Of course, if you’re dead, there’s a good possibility you will not have those thoughts.
Fortunately, I was spared, and within 5-6 years, my life changed dramatically, and I seldom look back. The problem was that I was insistent on fixing the broken aspects of my life and unwilling to admit defeat.
One of my core beliefs is that if you try hard enough, most problems can be resolved, and that theory still hides deep within me. But I finally realized that some things are so broken they can never be put back together again. It happens in about every aspect of our life and it’s important that we understand when the time comes to stop trying. If the vase has a chip or two, then we can repair it, but if it’s broken into tiny pieces, then possibly we need to sweep it into the dustpan and move on.
What I am certain of is that life will continue to present me with problems, and I’m expected to produce solutions. I believe I have gotten better at determining what’s fixable. At least, that’s the theory I’m toying with now. I think old Georg was right when he said:
“Death is like an arrow that is already in flight, and your life lasts only until it reaches you.” ~ Georg Hermes
♥️ I have this app on my smartphone called “Marco Polo” that allows me to exchange videos with my three granddaughters scattered all over the place. It also allows me to stay connected with my two teenage great-granddaughters. I’ve been using its free version and recently decided to upgrade to the paid version ($10/month). That upgrade also allowed me to add five additional members to my plan, free of charge. So, I included my five Great/Granddaughters. With the features I have now, I can create a “Group,” and make a video, and send it to all of them. How cool is that?
With this app, you cannot talk to each other in real time. You create a video and send it, then they create another video and send it back. I guess you’re wondering why I’m so excited when we can’t talk live. Well, the way I look at this is it’s texting on steroids. They (my grands) get to see me talking to them. You, of course, remember the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, this is exactly what I’m doing. When you love someone as much as I love them, seeing them in a video just warms my heart. Now, I want you to tell me where you can go to get your heart warmed for $10 bucks?
You’re wondering how much Marco is paying me to talk about them? Just a minute… let me look in my pocket…. hmmm, still empty! Yup, just wanted to tell you about this wonderful way I’ve found to stay in touch with the people I love and care about. The free version works fine if you don’t want to pay for the Plus version. I’m hoping my friends will put it on their phone and we can exchange videos. I have some old high school buddies that I stay in touch with, and it would be a lot of fun to do that with them, especially with this Covid thing putting a damper on visits.
C. S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gives value to survival.”
♥️ I drove by our former home of 25 years the other day to see if it had changed very much and it looked much the same as when we departed back in late April of this year. It’s probably not a good idea to go over there very much, mainly because it was hard to give up our life there. My wife seems to have little interest in making that visit, primarily I suspect, because it would hurt some. Most assuredly, our current home isn’t as comfortable as the one we left, but neither does it require the upkeep.
Looking back over my life of many years, I have made several more momentous changes and most of them worked out pretty well, so there’s good reason to believe this change will as well. I think the hardest decision was giving up on my 32 years of marriage to the mother of my children and the easiest was marrying the woman that accompanies me thru the life I live now.
All of us encounter forks in the road at various times in our life, and we can always look back and speculate about what would happen had we made a different decision. The important thing to remember is that we made the best decision we could at that time in our life. Golfers often get one “Mulligan”, a chance to hit an errant ball again without penalty, in a game with friends. Life never gives us that opportunity. We have to live with our decisions and actions and suffer their consequences and rewards. Douglas Adams said, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” That sounds about right for me.
♥️ My wife and I want to wish all of you, dear friends, a healthy and happy Thanksgiving. We have invited several members of our family to join us for Thanksgiving dinner and, given the restrictions of the past 20 months, it will be a joyous occasion. I read an article today that said 80% of all Americans are vaccinated, and that is really great news. Now, if we can convince the remaining 20% to be immunized, we can start treating Covid as we treat the flu. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
♥ Have you ever given any thought to how the different days of the week feel? I remember as a teenager how I always looked forward to Friday nights and the “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports” boxing matches (1942-1960). We got our first TV in 1951 (Philco 12”) and every Friday night our family watched the fights. So, Friday was always, to my younger brother and me, a day filled with anticipation. When I started dating at age 15, I spent my Friday evenings at my girlfriend’s home. As an adult in the workforce, that day was always the harbinger of the weekend and the excitement that followed.
Sunday mornings always had a good feeling. As a young boy, we had breakfast early and dressed for Sunday School and church. My mother always put a nickel in our hands, and my brother and I would walk down the hill to church, less than two minutes away. In the afternoon, we would go to the nearest town (Grundy) and watch the latest movie at the Lynwood theater. My mother always looked forward to that, and she was especially pleased if it was a musical. She could watch musicals until the sun went down the woodchuck hole. As an adult, I always dreaded Sunday evenings because I sensed the closeness of Monday morning. It was always so until I retired, then not so much 😊.
I can mostly tell the days during the week because we walk trails on three of them, and I go to the gym on the other two. Without that schedule, I would be unable to discern which day it could be. That happens a lot with old, retired people.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” — Crowfoot
♥ Back in December 2019, I bought a drone, and a very good one at that. It has all the latest technology, the ability to avoid objects, to return home on its own when the battery gets low, and it even has a mode that allows it to focus on me and follow wherever I go.
I have watched many videos on how to fly that thing, and I’m getting fairly confident in handling it, or at least I thought I was. My grandson (bonus grandson-Brandon) was at our cottage the other day helping us with some chores, and I took him out to the shared common area behind our cottage and showed him how to operate it. Within twenty minutes, his skill level had surpassed mine. He turns twenty-seven this month, so that’s understandable. 😊. I have nick-named the drone, “The Eagle” because of my first successful takeoff and landing, i.e., “Houston, the Eagle has landed.” I am mindful that some of my neighbors may be annoyed with it flying around our neighborhood, thinking it’s “Big Brother,” or some nosey person spying on them. When, in fact, it’s just an old guy trying to add some excitement to his life by developing new skills and trying to look beyond his current surroundings in ways he’s never had the opportunity to do before. I must admit, I am awaiting a call from the CEO of our retirement community telling me that drone flying is not permissible on campus. I hope he doesn’t do that but, somehow, I suspect he will. However, until he does, the commander of Battlestar Galactica will continue flying missions up to five miles away (the distance limit of The Eagle).
Marcus Garvey said,” Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences”. I’m desperately trying to be that guy 😊.
🧡 The other night my wife and I watched one of my favorite movies, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,” a 1966 Italian Spaghetti Western movie starring Clint Eastwood (the Good), Lee Van Cleef (the Bad) and Eli Wallach (the Ugly). It is the third and final film in the “Dollars Trilogy” and was most responsible for making Clint a movie star. They filmed it in Spain, and it made him financially successful. The other two movies in the trilogy are, “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More.” I had forgotten the movie was three hours long, so it definitely made us late getting into bed. As I sat there watching it, the thought crossed my mind that I was 25 years old when it hit the big screen, and now look at me, an old man watching movies from his youth trying to glimpse what life was like at that age. The night before, we watched Clint’s latest movie, “Cry Macho.” It’s a tale of him going into Mexico to bring back the 13-year-old son of his employer (Dwight Yoakum). A couple of days ago, we watched another of Clint’s movies, “Pale Rider” (1985). As you can see, we are on a Clint Eastwood roll.
We are ready to move on to other things to watch on TV. I have the recorder setup to catch Ken Burns’ new effort on PBS tonight (Sunday 9/19/21), titled “Mohammed Ali”. I believe the series last eight hours, so that’s a lot about him. I’m hoping it will change my opinion since I was never a major fan.
I thought he was a skilled boxer, never like him as a braggart, and disliked it when he avoided the draft during the Vietnam war. It was hard for me to accept someone that will knock a person’s brains out but was unwilling to serve his country for religious reasons during a time of war. You have probably surmised that I thought badly of our young men that fled to Canada to do the same thing during that time period. I believe President Jimmy Carter made a serious mistake by issuing pardons to them. The Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction on a technicality (the Government failed to specify why they rejected his appeal as a conscientious objector) and that also disappointed me.
Anyway, I hope Ken Burns changes my mind about Ali
♥️ There are times when I find myself staying busy, just to stay busy. In other words, I’m just shoveling smoke. What’s sad about the whole things is, I’m mostly not aware of it! I can look back over my past 29,500 days on this planet and see that I’ve wasted a lot of time watching endless TV shows, movies, and ballgames. I didn’t party much, but when I did, it was always too hard!
I wonder if I could do it all over again, would I make the same mistakes? My wife and I watched the World Series with the Houston Astros & Atlanta Braves. It’s hard to justify the time spent on that endeavor at my age. I’m confident there are better things to do, I just don’t have the motivation to find out what they are. I guess I could try dancing on one leg, or playing the guitar left-handed, but none seemed like a wise investment of my time.
I’m thinking that when we get to the end of our life, Saint Peter will look at how much time we spent watching TV and criticize us for wasting so much of our valuable time on this wonderful planet. Yup, there’s probably a box on his checkoff list that says, “Watched too much TV”!
If he lets me in, I’m confident he will admonish me with, “Well, you won’t be doing any of that up here Mr. Hale!” I wonder if I still have enough time left to change my ways, or is it too late?
No doubt the best thing to do is spend more time with family and friends, work harder on making relationships stronger, and improve the way we treat those less fortunate.
Shakespeare said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Sadly, I have never thought of myself as a fool ☹.