🎡 Every morning, I quietly get out of bed, trying not to disturb my wife’s sleep, slip on my clothes and head down the hall to the coffeepot waiting patiently in the kitchen. I press the “Start” button twice. It begins its steady progression to 210°, the same temperature that Starbucks uses for coffee (the night before, I carefully measured the coffee that went into the basket and the amount of water to use). I then head to our bathroom to wash my face, comb my hair and shave.
Each morning, as I stare into the mirror, I search for the 18-year-old me, the young guy who wallowed in the richness of life and all the potential it offered. And worried about nothing. Content with whatever came his way. I can tell he is still in there somewhere because I sometimes see glimpses of him, and then he’s gone. I miss that carefree guy, and sometimes I try, with little success, to emulate him.
Instead, what I see in my mirror is a guy way past his prime, with quite a few well-earned lines scattered willy-nilly across his face. His eyes are still a deep brown, with a hint of glint, indicative of an optimistic view of his future. The 18-year-old me believed there were only better days ahead. The person I am today is just trying to hold on to what he has, knowing the potential for unwanted issues lies just around the corner.
Practically, I know that young man will never return, that it’s a pipe dream to contemplate such a thing happening. However, it still gives me joy to know that he’s in there, somewhere, and that he allows me to see him now and then. I like what Michael Altschuler said, “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.”
🎡 From all appearances, winter is over; daffodils, tulips, and forsythia are in full blossom. There are buds on all the trees. My wife is busily working in her flower gardens, as happy as one could be. I love to watch her work with the beautiful things that grow around our home. She has a natural touch with plants, and, in her presence, their goal is to impress her with their splendor and magnificence. Some people have the proverbial “Green Thumb,” but most of us, I suspect, do not. My father was a talented gardener because we always had plenty to eat of whatever he put in the two or three of his gardens each year. I tried my hand at it when I was in my fifties and quickly learned that my thumb was not the right color.
We have a section in our retirement community called the “Funny Farm,” where residents can have a small plot to raise vegetables. I have not reserved a plot because I neither have the time nor patience for such an endeavor. Knowing we could buy a tomato for less than the cost of raising one also factored into it. We often walk by the “Funny Farm” and always admire the gardens that grow there. Ahhh, this would be a perfect place for my dad and grandpa to retire. George Washington said it best: “For it is a fixed principle with me, that whatever is done should be done well.” I somewhat agree with old George. I also realize you might’ve thought the name of our retirement center was “Funny Farm” 😊.
🎡 The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has started, and it is always one of my favorite times of the year. I am an ACC fan, but I also pull for Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Those three teams have family connections, so we always cheer for them to win. There have been some disappointments, with Kentucky (#2 seed) losing to Saint Peter’s (#15 seed) and Virginia Tech (#11 seed) yielding to Texas (#6 seed). But there are still a lot of exciting games to be played, and the tourney doesn’t end until April 4th. We get to watch some fantastic athletes dazzle us with their basketball prowess during that time. The experts say the best team in the tourney is Gonzaga, a small Jesuit University in Spokane, Washington. They have a powerhouse basketball team every year and always play well in the tournament. Since 2015, their earliest exit was in the “Sweet 16” in 2016 & 2018. They have never won the tourney. I’m sure my good friend Nancy B knows much more about the tourney stats, and I’m confident she watches more of the games. Her favorite team (Va. Tech) is out now, so some of the shine may be gone for her 😊.
I think it’s fun to watch the young play sports. As a young guy playing high school football and basketball, I never understood how the game fascinated the adults in our community. I now know they enjoyed the enthusiasm and excitement it generated. Humankind has always enjoyed games, back to the Romans and beyond. The primary motivation could be that games distract us from the plainness of our everyday lives, give us something to cheer for, and make life enjoyable. We always need that.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are but tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” Well said, Ralph.
🎡 Well, it appears as if we are in decent shape as far as containing our Covid-19 crisis. I noticed in today’s paper that recent daily cases are down to 29,650 in the USA. Sadly, we have lost 975,000 lives because of the pandemic, and worldwide, we have lost over six million lives. By far, the costliest tragedy in human life was World War II (1939-45). The total fatalities, including battle deaths and civilians of all countries in that war, are estimated at 56.4 million people. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been devastating. Still, it has not progressed to the use of nuclear weapons. If we get into a nuclear war with Russia, that total will pale in comparison. Life as we know it will be forever changed. As badly as I want our country to help Ukraine, I expect President Biden to refuse to get us involved to that point. Vladimir Putin has revealed himself to the world as a despicable human being. After watching Hitler kill so many, people all over the globe vowed they would never sit idly by and let it happen again. But the risks are too high, the Russians have weapons that Hitler didn’t, and they are much deadlier. There will be no winner in this war. The citizens of Russia should have maintained the term limits of their president. Not doing so allowed him to become too powerful, which is never good. We can hope for successful peace negotiations: Ukraine agrees not to seek entry into NATO, and Russia stops its senseless bombing and pulls its army back to the borders before the war starts. I do not expect that to happen, but I would be grateful if it did. Unfortunately, what I suspect will happen is that Ukraine will eventually fall to the Russians, and guerrilla warfare will continue for years.
Sadly, as it appears, we can never confront a bully that has an arsenal of nuclear weapons for fear of him destroying our civilization. The possibility of a nuclear war before Russia invaded Ukraine was close to zero. Now, we are much farther away from that number, enough to have the entire world’s population on alert to a potential tragedy. As Jack Kornfield said, “Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.”
🧡”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.”