♥ Have you ever wondered if you spend time well? That thought occurred to me after spending 4,000 weeks (80 years) on this wonderful planet. I spend endless hours watching mind numbing TV shows and too much time keeping up with world events. I cannot determine if I’m doing these things because I enjoy them, or because I’m searching for something to relieve the boredom. It’s almost as if I need the distraction, that I need something to make life more interesting. I don’t think that’s the reason because I can’t remember when I last experienced it. I keep a daily journal of my thoughts and activities and as I look back over them, I seldom see negative comments or signs that I’m not engaged in life. True, I do fiddle with my cellphone a lot and I take my iPad with me just about every place I go, but is that evidence that I’m fearful boredom will ensnare me due to not having something to do? I surely hope not.
I certainly get pulled away many times from whatever I’m concentrating on. It may be a familiar “ding” that signals a new email just popped into my inbox, or my cellphone playing Johnny Cash’s, “I Walk The Line”, alerting me to a new phone call/text message. Distractions are everywhere, all of them demanding my attention, requesting I do something or the other immediately. Is this the person I have morphed into, someone that’s so involved in today’s technology that life seems incomplete without it? I know that if I end up in the hospital for some unknown reason, none of those devices will care if I live or die. Only the people I care about and spend time with will care, so why am I not spending more time with them?
I think the answer is that it happens so slowly, sorta like the extra weight you gain, but goes unnoticed because it happens gradually. Will I change from a person who needs to be engaged all the time to one that values human contact? Has this modern way of living inserted itself into the deepest regions of my being, or is there still hope for me? The first step to changing your life is to recognize the need, and the second is to have the desire to make it happen. Sadly, I think I need gentle persuasion on the second part.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Now, that’s the place I gotta get to 😊.
♥I read an article recently that said simply, if you have a negative mind, then you will have a negative life. I know people that fit that description (no, it’s not you), and the odds of them getting out of that rut in life are small.
I too have been in that rut and had to fight to get out, so I’m living proof that it can happen. It is so easy for negative thoughts to creep into our mind and infect us with a sourness that leaches into almost all of our actions. Friends slowly disappear and few appear to take their place, and we’re left wondering why we are lonely.
It’s hard to sit down and figure out what’s happening in your life and why you’re losing so many people you enjoyed being around. In my case, I was divorcing my first wife and the stress of the process was definitely taking its toll. It took quite a few visits to a psychiatrist for me, with his help, to regain my normally positive outlook on life. Since those visits many years ago, I always attempt to be positive about whatever difficulty I am facing. Of course, the pandemic made that difficult to do, but I soldiered on, keeping the old chin up and dutifully practicing the Covid- safe things that Dr. Fauci encouraged us to do.
My wife and I have experienced a whirlwind of changes in the last six months and I must admit they were necessary. Moving into a retirement community and selling our home was huge. It required us to see old friends less often, and make new friends to take their place as active participants in our daily life. We now eat our daily meal in the dining room at 6pm with newly gained friends (Jerry & Ruth), unless either couple made other plans.
In our previous life, my wife and I always had dinner alone while watching TV. Now we eat with someone we enjoy being around, and the conversation is always lively and fun. Who knows, maybe eventually, we run out of things to talk about and just sit there, chewing our food, saying nothing, but I don’t expect that ever happening around Jerry & Ruth 😊.
I remember reading this story a while back: A scorpion asks the frog for a ride across a river. The frog is leery, but the scorpion points out that if he were to bite the frog, they would both drown. Finally, the frog accepts the logic and as they approach the middle of the river, the scorpion strikes! As they are drowning, the frog pleadingly asks why he did it, and the scorpion blurts out, “I just couldn’t help it, it’s’ in my nature.”
Looking back at some things that happened in my life, I can easily understand the scorpion’s reasoning. Recently, I locked the emergency key for the safe, inside the safe, and when the batteries for the keypad died, I was forced to destroy the safe in order to remove its contents. Why did I do something so intrinsically dumb? I just couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature!
I took my wife to the grocery store the other day and, on the way home, we were gleefully gabbing about something and suddenly I realized we were arriving at our old home, not the one we just moved to in April. By the time I turned around and went back, I had made an eight-mile loop. I just couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature. I could continue reciting similar occurrences, but I think you get my point.
Rene’ Descartes said, “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” This quote emphasizes our thoughts are our own and If we have a bad idea, then it is our responsibility to make it better. We should not blame our bad decisions on someone else, strictly because we created the decision. If the frog had listened to Descartes, he would have concluded that it was ingrained in the scorpion’s head to bite, regardless of the fact that it would cost him his life too. I don’t remember what I was thinking when I placed those emergency keys in the safe, but I take responsibility for doing something so destructively simple minded. I have power over my thoughts and over my actions. Somehow, I have to get better at both 😊.
Currently I am reading, “Down The Great Unknown” by John Wesley Powell. It’s about his 1869 Journey down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon.
I just finished, “Wheelmen” by Vaness O’Connell & Reed Albergotti. It’s about Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France and the doping that all the cyclist try to hide from race officials. The race lasts for 3 weeks and covers 3,000 miles. I gave it 3 stars.
⌘ In The Velveteen Rabbit (1922 Children’s book by Margery Williams), the rabbit asks if becoming real hurts and the Skin Horse tells him that yes, sometimes it does, sometimes your eyes get rubbed off in the process and you’ll lose some of your shine, but that’s how you know you’re real. We all know that life sometimes loses its shine and that we have to work to get that shine back. The Skin Horse is talking about love, but I believe it applies to all areas of our lives.
The story involves a stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen that is a Christmas present to a small boy. The boy plays with his other presents, which are more modern, and snubs the old-fashioned velveteen rabbit. The wisest and oldest toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, which was owned by the boy’s uncle, tells the rabbit about toys magically becoming real because of love from children. The rabbit is in awe of this idea, but his chances of achieving this wish are slight. One night, the boy’s nanny gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with in place of a lost toy, and the rabbit becomes the boy’s favorite toy, enjoying picnics with him in the spring. The boy regards the rabbit as real. Time passes and the rabbit becomes shabbier, but happy. It meets some real rabbits in the summer, and they learn that the velveteen rabbit cannot hop as they do, and they say that he is not a real rabbit. One day, the boy comes down with scarlet fever, and the rabbit sits with him as he recovers. The doctor orders that the boy should be taken to the seaside and that his room should be disinfected, and all his books and toys burned, including the velveteen rabbit. They bundle the rabbit into a sack and left it out in the garden overnight, where he reflects sadly on his life with his boy. The toy rabbit cries, but as actual tears drop onto the ground, a marvelous flower appears. A fairy steps out of the flower and comforts the velveteen rabbit, introducing herself as the Nursery Magic Fairy. She says that because he has become real to the boy who truly loves him, she will take him away with her and make him real to everyone. The fairy takes the rabbit to the forest, where she meets the other rabbits and gives the velveteen rabbit a kiss. The velveteen rabbit changes into a real rabbit and joins the other rabbits in the forest. The next spring, the rabbit returns to look at the boy, and the boy sees a resemblance to his old velveteen rabbit.
As we all know, when we become adults responsible for ourselves and for others, life does become real and, at times, hurts. As the Skin Horse said, “you lose some of your shine.” I believe one of our goals has to be putting the shine back into our lives and conveying that invigorating attitude to others in order to encourage them to do the same.
I never had stuffed toys as a kid so I don’t have fond memories of them, but I did dream about being a grownup and what I would do with my life when I became one. I did not achieve many of the things I dreamed about, but I became the man I wanted to be. When all is said and done, that was most important.
“One of the most adventurous things left us is to go to bed. For no one can lay a hand on our dreams.” — E. V. Lucas
⌘ If you walked into a restaurant or diner back in the 50s and 60s and ordered a cup of coffee, you would hear the server yell out such phrases as “a cup of Joe 50-50” (half coffee, half milk) or “Java blonde with sand” (coffee with cream & sugar). If you wanted decaf with non-fat milk, then it was “why bother” 😊. You can still hear the waiting staff in smaller restaurants use special phrases for particular orders, but not so much in larger restaurants. They just write it down and stick it on a revolving stand for the cook to grab and fill. It has always amazed me how coordinated the routine is in a restaurant. Some servers are kind and others are just trying to get in their shift and go home. I’m guessing that when your pay is low and you depend on the generosity of others to meet your financial obligations, it makes for a very stressful day of work. I always try to tip at least 20% and sometimes more if the service is good (which often depends on how well they respond to my banter). I realize that dealing with the public all day long could be an exasperating experience since all their customers aren’t as pleasant as my wife and I are 😊, so I try to be generous. My tips weren’t always so kind when I was a young man, and I regret that. In my defense, money was in short supply and I had a young family of four to provide for. I believe the motivation for me being more liberal with my tips now is that I failed to do so way back then. Will it make up for my failures? I doubt it, but it makes me feel better now. As Lucius Seneca said, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
⌘ A few weeks ago I hurt the thumb on my right hand, and it hurt the entire day. As the day progressed, I tried to ignore the pain, but it kept inserting itself into my activities. The nail also turned black. I have had many nails turn black, mainly toenails because of running, and they eventually come off with a little prodding, but they were never painful. As I turned in for the night, the pain was still there and wouldn’t give me any relief, but when I awoke the next morning, it had disappeared. All that remained was the dark circle underneath the nail. What a relief! 😊
I have friends who are in pain 24/7 and I’m at a loss to explain how they deal with it. I know that we all have varying tolerances for pain, but I don’t know how you deal with it when it is always there. One of my friends tells me that her constant pain is an 8 on a scale of 10. I would rate my thumb pain as a 5 and my fretting over it seems so silly when compared to hers. I have family and friends who have suffered so much and died from cancer. I see people on the news who are suffering from COVID, and I wonder how I would deal with it. I have always thought of myself as being able to accept adversity, but I’m not so sure now.
We all hope that during our lives we are blessed by not having a permanent illness or injury. Many do, but many do not, and some of those who don’t are our friends and relatives. Some of our misfortunes are because of our lifestyles (smoking, drinking, overeating, and so on), some because of our genes, and some are just fate. In my religious beliefs (Methodist), God never promises us he will spare us from sickness/injury, but he promises to be with us as we endure it. That is my hope if tragedy strikes me.
Albert Camus said, “The climax of every tragedy lies in the deafness of its heroes.”
⌘ Some say the most powerful word in the English language is “help” (“ayuda” in Spanish) and I believe that to be true. Most of us are probably reluctant to ask for help, wanting to be independent and handle things ourselves. Some use the word often, which diminishes its value. Personally, I refrain from asking unless it’s absolutely necessary. I was never close to the word as a youngster because in my world then I was always given an order. That may explain my reluctance to ask for help, but that has not prevented me from helping others, which has become more of a priority as I have gotten older. I believe the penchant for helping others came to me in my 50s as an idea or goal I wanted to accomplish. We all know that ideas are like children and you don’t want them to go into the world in rags. I wanted my idea of helping others to be significant, so for the last 30 years I have made it a priority in my life to help not only family and friends, but strangers as well. The rewards are many, as the warm feeling that emanates is repayment in full.
An old Hindu Proverb says, “Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore.” That’s a nail I can hang my hat on. 😊