Taking Stock

We’ve become encapsulated. Shut off from all else but our own small world.  People barely know their own neighbors these days.  Even families have little if anything to do with each other except for major events.  It amazes me that we still function as a society with so much separation.

How did this occur?

I can only speak for my small area of the world.  Really I’m not even sure if it is as wide spread as I think it is.  Certainly here in the US it seems to be.  But then, how do I know?  I only know a few people in comparison to the vast millions (apx 320 million) of others spread across around 3.8 million square miles.  Using my limited math skills, even if I interviewed a million people (and that would take way to long to do), that would only be .31% of the population.  Considering that, of that number, a significant number might not understand the purpose of the interview or the brevity of answers or could even possibly not answer in an honest and/or forthright manner, any determination that could be derived in a numerical format couldn’t possibly represent the other 319 million that didn’t have the chance to contribute.   So how much would a survey/poll mean anyway.  Pretty much how I feel about polls anyway.  I question if they really represent my or other’s true feelings.

For me, in my honest opinion (as if I would give you anything else), technology is hugely responsible for at least some of this separation.  But then again, is it really technology or the people that use it.  Yes…  it is actually us that are responsible.  You can’t blame email, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media (sorry if I didn’t name yours) for your lack of connection to others.  We as a nation have chosen to communicate through text instead of calling.  We are responsible for sharing our lives through Facebook instead of calling our family or sending an actual letter, or pictures to someone.  We choose not to communicate.  We choose not to share on a personal level but rather keep ourselves segmented and privatized.  But why?

How often do you take stock of the things around you?  The people around you?  All that is around you?  Even of yourself?  I’m not talking about how much you make, what you do, who you know or what you have though all of that could be a part of the evaluation.  How often do you take a close look at yourself?  How often do you search your soul?

We live day to day wrapped up in our selves and our own small issues.  We worry about stupid stuff in the grand scheme of things.  Whats for dinner, who’s coming over, who is winning the football game, what are the (insert the name of some famous person/family) doing today or this week, who’s birthday is it this week, whats next on my schedule… all of these are so superfluous to the truth of whats really important.

All I have to go by is my small world.  I can only speak from my experience which honestly is limited as is everyone else’s even though there are those that a wider range to gather from.  I’ve not traveled nor lived in other cultures.  None of us can change any of our past.  Only our future.  Only where we go from here.  Only the choices we make now and from now on.

How long has it been since you took stock?

Maybe its time.

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Sharing

Today has been one of those special sort of days.

I sit here in my very comfortable easy chair reflecting on my day today all the while enjoying the peaceful sweetness of a beautiful evening.  A cool breeze is ever so gently flowing through the room from an half open window across the room.  My life is blessed.  I can tell.

So why such a special day?  Confirmation of the beauty of sharing has come full circle for me as I sit watching a netflix/PBS documentary of John Denver (one of my teenage favorite musicians).  I say confirmation and relate it to this documentary due to the pleasure I had today of sharing my views of God, truth, the depth and meaning with a person I can now call a friend much more than I could have yesterday.

The reason this has such an impression on me right this moment is because of his sharing with me something that has touched him from time to time.  The precious moments in time when a person loses themselves in their creativity to the point of an almost out of body experience.  His was related to his music.  I have felt that experience myself on a number of occasions with and in my own music.  And I felt it personally again this evening listening to how John Denver saw life, created his music, shared it with others and gave so much to others without feeling a need to get something in return.

John-Denver

Annie’s song had much meaning to me even as a teen.  I felt deeply then and I still do.  Shallow people go through life with such self centeredness and never have the fortune to experience such purity of soul, such depth of thought and love, such an immense feeling of fulfillment, joy, pleasure, and peace.   I was again able to momentarily feel the beauty of it all just listening to the music and song.

Popular music today has such a lack of purity.  While it may have its own reality and yes, it does speak to the reality of life today, it lacks the beauty, depth, sincerity, purity, and inspiration of such singers.  That is not to say that they don’t exist.  Just not so much as then.

Hearing the music, experiencing the miracle, drifting off into that land of love and emotion, it all confirmed what just two guys talking were able to share today.  It filled me again as I pondered the love I have in my wife for me and I for her.  Our sharing of our being with each other.  How much that means to me.  I appreciate her more than she knows and that may be something I should do more often.  It reminded me of the wonderful times I’ve had sharing with another of my close friends and our talks that went so deep into our souls that we sometimes had difficulty just closing the conversations.  It proved difficult to end them and go back to “life” in general much because life is typically So general.

“Conversations” and “sharing” seem like such shallow words for the meaning it holds.  No touch is needed to share deeply.  Its not physical and yet it is so bonding, so unifying, so one.

One of the aspects of my reflection tonight had much to do with the beauty of nature/creation (however you choose to look at it).  I can relate with John Denver in seeing the beauty of the nature around me.  Often it happens even when I am seemingly not so far into nature.  It can happen on a highway at dusk when the sky turns a golden orange stretching across the horizon.  It can happen seeing a bird in my back yard (seen frequently).  It can happen just listening to the laughter of a child or the playfulness of puppies or kittens.  Things like the mother of anything (ie. child, kitten, bird, puppy, rabbit, chipmunk, etc…) in a “Kodak” moment.  I think you know what I mean.  It impresses on me the beauty of nature.  The beauty of all we have around us that can easily go un-noticed if you don’t simply make yourself aware of these moments in time.  I know I’m not the only one.  I see the ways people try to fill the void of missing these things in the screen savers on their computers and many other ways.  In their own way they are reminding themselves of these peaceful moments.  In a way they share the beauty around them.

Share with someone.  Make sure that person is open to the idea but it is worth your while to take time out of your life to share with others.  Meaningfully.  Deeply.  You will find peace there.  You will find love there. You will find fulfillment there like you can not believe.

Share.

how much is left?

We go through cycles in life. Sometimes they pass us by and we fail to recognize that we were ever even in the midst of it at all. Other times events happen that change our lives completely or shake us to the core to the extent that we can barely see even a glimmer of what we once were.  The struggle then begins as we exert extreme energy to recover, to return to a “happy place” in our dismal existence.  I find myself in this dimly lit room right now (metaphorically speaking).  Dimly lit I say because of my own discontent with life as a whole.  This is not to say that I have had a terrible life or that I’m not content with who I am, where I am, who I am with (& love & who loves me), etc…  I can be content with these things.  I have just come to a point where I am questioning the “why.”  Once again driving that question is what is the meaning of it all?  Questioning the “why” is  my method of struggle in order to grow further.

Someone once said that “Rules were meant to be broken.”  How failed an attempt to cover a blatant disregard for others.  How lacking in understanding.  How self centered.  How idiotic.  Rules, none of them, are made to be broken.  Records… (not the vinyl type) are made to be broken.  Not rules.  Rules, for the most part, are made to be kept.  The majority of rules are, in some form or another, designed and written to make life better or more protected.  The government does not put speed signs on the road so that people will break the laws and drive faster (though they nearly always do).  The rules you have at work are not there to cause you harm.  They are there to keep the business in business and functioning at the most efficient pace possible and yet put safeguards at every possible venue of opportunity to protect themselves and their employees.  Rules of the game are there so that players will understand how the game is played and how points are scored and so no-one gripes (though they will) when a foul is called.  Yet the majority of people I know constantly use the phrase “rules were made to be broken” so as to assert that they had every right to ignore the rule and do it their own way.

I know you’ve seen it.  You may even have been part of it.  Of course you felt the right to do what you wanted regardless of the rules.  Rules don’t apply to you right?  The sign says “no cell phones while in line” and yet there is that person on their blue-tooth headset that just has to take that very important call from their hair son, daughter, mom, dad, business affiliate, hair dresser, etc…   The sign says “45 mph” so we must ALL go 55 even if the flashing yellow sign says “35 mph – during school hours.”  The lines in the road really weren’t put there to keep anyone from passing on the right, go down the middle of the road through stripped yellow lines in the median, or cut in front of someone from a turn lane into a regular lane just so they can avoid the 15 cars that are waiting patiently as is expected.  It really IS ok to cut in front of other people at the restaurant since you once knew that person that is 25 people ahead or because you put someone out of a car and in line 10 minutes before everyone else from your family even arrived in the parking lot… right?  It is OK to park in  a handicap parking place because you are driving your aunt’s car who is handicap.  It doesn’t matter that she is still at home and you are 24 and work out at the gym regularly and can do wind sprints.  Rules… what rules?

Lying, cheating, stealing, it has all become all too commonplace.  The ability to cognitively discern what should or shouldn’t be seems largely to depend on who has the most money.  A jury is no longer there to determine right from wrong.  They are there to determine who has the best layer.  Judges judge based on how it might impact their next election.  Politicians….  well…  need I go there?  Even pastors, preachers, religious figureheads etc… attempt to influence their congregations so as to gain a healthier bottom line in the offering plate.  It might even be political influence or to line their own pockets.  I can’t say that this is a change.  This is and has been since the beginning.  On all fronts.  Not just about the religious aspect.  On all fronts!  Now I just wonder “why.”

At the growingly ripe age of 59 (my mom and wife think I’m still young) I question my part in all of this.  What have I done to change any of it?  Could it be changed?  What, if any, mark am I leaving?  How am I helping the next generation of people to do a better job at living, at giving, at being better themselves?  How much do I have left?  I’ve gone through prostate cancer and still deal with the resulting side effects.  Others in my life have had their own physical battles and also battle now.  Not so much physically as from lack of confidence in themselves from time to time.  A great job comes along and next thing you know you have to spend your savings on house repairs.  You are running along just fine and then the car breaks.  A family member has a major financial need.  One of your children needs more.  Your dog gets sick.

No-one knows how much time they have on this big blue ball hurling through space.  None of us are guaranteed anything or any “time” at all.  There is no “fair” when it comes to life.  One man/woman has plenty.  A few have much.  Hundreds have little.  Thousands and thousands have nearly nothing at all and life goes on.

The frustration has been building.  Its been 59 years and I see little change in direction.  The struggle has continued and continues on further.  I could write an entire book on the frustrations.

I have grandchildren now (one VERY recent and another coming shortly).  A brighter spot in my life for a while.  I just wonder…  how much is left?

reality – really?

It was not uncommon for me in my early years to hear such comments from my father as “son… get your head out of the clouds and come back to reality.”  I was a dreamer.  Don’t really know that it ever changed.  Ok… so I don’t have my head in the clouds but I do still dream.  I don’t walk around daydreaming.  I save my dreaming for when I have time to relax and just let my mind wander.

It really is a good thing (to dream).  Some call it dreaming.  Some call it having a vision.  Not one of those instances where you see things that aren’t there like a mirage.  Its seeing thins as they could be.  As you want them to be.  As you “envision” them to be.

So much has been written lately about how to “think” your way to riches or the love life you want or whatever.  In many ways it is true.  In some ways it is not.  There is the movie “The Secret” and others like it.  Books are written every day by some guru telling others how to find nirvana which is just another way of saying the same thing.  It seems to me that this is really nothing more than a search for one’s inner self.  A search for a true happiness that a person finds void in their own lives.  So much is coming to mind right now I can’t write it all.  So I’ll pause…

>>>>>>>>>>>

OK… I’m back…  It was really too much to write here.

What is reality?

Is it what we see?  Can you touch reality?  Is it some thing?  I say we do not really know.  There are those that would argue that reality only exists if you can feel, touch, hear, see, or otherwise interact on a physical level to what is in question.  But is that really so?  Is a dream real?  Can you feel, touch, hear, see or otherwise interact in a dream?

When was the last time you had a dream?  Do you remember your dreams or do they just wake you in the night (or whenever you sleep)?  If you are “awakened” out OF a dream, was it real at the time?  How did it effect you?  Did your heart race?  Were you afraid or even experiencing some form of pleasure?  Did you “feel” as though the things IN the dream were real?

I recently got a serious cold.  As a result I had to take some medications.  As a result of that I wound up not sleeping as well at night sometimes.  As a result of that I found myself up at 3:00 AM one morning (got up at 3:00) and watched a favorite movie of mine.  One that deals directly with this subject we are confronting right now.   The movie?  “A Beautiful Mind” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind_%28film%29) Starring Russell Crowe.

The story is based on…. well… you can read the previous link to see all about it.  Really, what I am trying to get to here is that the character (John Nash) has a problem.  That problem is psychological in nature and he sees things and people that to him are very real but to others they are not there.  The point I am trying to make is that reality in his mind may not be the same as that of others around him but it is very real none the less.

Our mind plays tricks on us regularly.  There are things that are biological in nature that effect what we see or don’t see.  Yet we rely on our senses to determine what we accept as being real or not real.  We use our senses, or what we perceive as our senses, to determine what our reality is.  There has been record of people feeling things that are not there.  Phantom Limb Syndrome, burning skin sensations, and others even to the point that the skin or area connected to the supposed sensation becomes effected physically.  The mind believes that it is burning or otherwise hurting and so the body responds accordingly.

I can often refer to the bible simply because I was raised around it and learned a good bit of it.  One of the statements in the bible is: “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 KJV) This message is played over and over again in the self help books trying to convince you of how to gain access to untold wealth or happiness.  The truth is… it has always been that way.  Another movie I recently watched was “Iron Lady” portraying the life of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  In this movie she makes a statement of what she had been taught by her father.  “Watch your thoughts for they become words.  Watch your words for they become actions.  Watch your actions for they become habits.  Watch your habits for they become your character.  Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.  What we think we become.”  This says so much!

By the way…  Iron Lady moved a bit slow for me.  I did gain from watching it but to be honest I did not watch the whole movie.

Great ideas come to people.  Not from reality but from “unreality.”  Creations, innovations, concepts, ideas… all come from somewhere other than what is currently perceived as being real.  It is an “idea” that creates it.  It comes from within someone somewhere.  They may think of it while dreaming or not dreaming.  While just sitting still (which I think is awesome)(Be still and know…) many ideas can come to creative people.  Creative people are those that have learned to think beyond the limits of “reality” to see things that can or could be.

So…  Your reality… My reality…  Your dreams or my dreams…  It doesn’t really matter.  Just take time to dream a bit.  Find what you really want and dream about it.  Let your thoughts become you.  Let you… become your thoughts.  Where there is no vision (dream – thought – belief in…) the people parish (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).

I love these commercials about Satellite TV…    “Don’t be found in a road side ditch…” or “don’t go to your own funeral.”  In this case… don’t waste away your life by not finding or living your dreams.  They become your reality.  After all, to some extent, you choose your reality.  What you think… you become.  (Not always, but much of the time.)

By the way folks…  I love to see comments.  Please feel free to speak your mind.

For those that are interested or know anything about me…  I did not get the position I applied for.  Did I derserve it?  Yes.  Did I have the qualifications?  I and others thought so.  Did I now believe enough?  That was not the problem.  I was actually shocked that I did not get the position.  I say all of this so that you will understand that just because you honestly believe doesn’t always make it so.

boxes in the way

So much, so fast, so many people, so little time, so much information, so much to do, so many places to go and things to do and people to see and places to see and…. SOOO MUCH….

Our world moves fast.  It seems that it moves faster each day.  Each day brings new technology and new ways to communicate.  Better and faster ways to keep others informed about our lives.  We email, Facebook, Tweet, Link in, phone, text, and find other ways to keep in touch.  We watch news, have our RSS feeds, listen to the radio (old school I know) watch TV, Movies, online, on our iPad or iPhone, take pictures of ourselves, edit them on line, store them in the cloud, send them in messages or in our email or just post them to Flicker or some other location and send out a link.  We anxiously await the next text.  If we haven’t gotten an update on a friend’s page we call or tweet or txt to see if they are still alive.  Our phone is our watch, our calendar, our video device, our mode of communication.  Our entire lives are stored there.

We go out to eat, go to the Mall, go to the grocery store, Block Buster, Red Box, Wall Mart, Macy’s, etc…  We shop, we eat, we run, we swim, we hike, bike, walk the track, get a latte’, read our ebook, surf, download, upload, and on and on and on.

So many things.

A good friend of mine said it best the other day.  We are human-doings.  Not human-beings.

When was the last time you sat and just thought.  Scary I know.  But we have become a people of human-doings  doing and doing till there is no time left to “do” anything else so we go to sleep so that we can get up and do some more tomorrow.

Is this what you were meant to be?  How can you BE anything if you fill your life so full of doing that there is no room to BE?  How can you truly focus on anything until you have focused on yourself to see what is really there?

It is time to move some of the boxes out of the way.  It is time for you to choose to say “NO… I’m NOT going to check that text.  No, I’m not going to answer that call.  I’m not going to read that email, watch that program, listen to this or that.”  You have let too many “things” get in the way of you being.  Its time to prioritize, organize, and even eliminate some things that are taking you away from “being” and making you a “doing”

Yes…  Wake UP and smell the coffee.  Stop and smell the roses.  Get rid of the clutter in your life and become a being again and just BE once in a while.

a season of hope

This one is going to be just a little bit personal but I feel the need to share to a level that could potentially be of benefit to many readers (I sincerely hope anyway).

First let me begin by discussing this time of year. I call it that because it is NOT what most people think. We call it many things. Most all of those things are nothing more or less or short of marketing sch-peal, schlep, or other expletive. Any way you look at it… this time or season of the year never really measures up to all of the hype it is given even though we all would desperately love for it to do so.

In order to be politically correct, most government agencies call it “Winter Holiday” or “Winter Break.” Those in the Judeo Christian realm call it Christmas (I’ll go into that just a bit more shortly).  Yuletide, Hanukkah, Inti Raymi, Winter Solstice, Pancha Ganapati, Yalda, Kwanzaa, all are names for winter celebrations at this time of year.  No matter what you call it, no matter what you are celebrating during this time of year, all of the religions, cults, peoples, nations, everyone seems to be in a festive mood though shadowed by guilt and longing, loneliness or loss, pressures and strains of the expectations of what has become much more cosmetic and commercial than true to its original purpose.

The Hallmark channel is laden with Christmas movies/shows with a very religious depth of intent.  It is so “preacheristic” in its approach that it is appalling to me.  The very fact that the “Christmas story” is so convoluted to the point of a sheer lie is repulsive to me.  Interesting though that, while repulsed by the lie of the regularly played Church version of the birth of Jesus, I still do like to listen to various Christmas stories and watch “White Christmas” (the old version with Bing) or “Its a Wonderful Life” (yes… the B&W version) every year.  Truth is… I love this time of year too.  I love the original theme of hope and peace and goodwill.

So… you wonder what I’m talking about where the “Church Christmas Story” is concerned…?  This repulsion comes from a long history of being told that this is the way it is and it is true and finding later in life that what I was told is NOT true.  That’s right folks.  The Christmas story of Christ’s birth is a farce.  While Jesus was born and history does prove that, the probability that he was born on December 25th has two chances of being true.  Slim and none.  That is if you truly believe what the bible says as being true.  Shepard(s) are not out in their fields watching their flocks by night during the winter months.  That alone makes the story a lie.  However, you can also include the fact that the wise men were not at the birth (they came to see him when he was “a young child”), Jesus was probably a stone mason and not a carpenter (he [Jesus] never mentions woodworking though he mentions stone work often), and there is no evidence that there ever was an “inn” in Bethlehem (that word should have been translated “lodging”).  That being said, no inn, no inn keeper, no wise men, and you have the church lie-ing  to it’s congregation annually.  Sad but true.

BUT… this IS a season of hope.  A season of peace, of love, of goodwill, family reuniting, gathering with friends, sharing of resources with others, and hopefully enjoying a time of celebration WITH each other.  There is even a part of each of us that becomes more willing to give.  Give to others.  Others that have less than we may have or just have the need.  It is a more selfless time.  A time of introspection and reflection.  A time when we become thankful for even the smallest of what we have been given or have.

It is a time of year that I get to and do spend more time in self reflection than most of the rest of the year.  That, in and of itself, is one of the more beneficial aspects for me.  I hope the same for each and every one of you reading this.

I loved what I saw on a Christmas ornament just the other day.  “Music is Gods gift to us in order for us to pray without words.”  And this is a time of year that much music is inspired, written, and performed.  The best musicians convey feeling through their music whether through words or through the music itself.  We are blessed often during this time of year with much feeling in the music.  It comes from within the person and is passed along to each of us.  Again, we share.

I feel particularly blessed.  Even though I have had and still have personal adversity, I am greatly blessed.  I am once again able to feel the joy of family and friends.  Some but not all.  Still some.  Some have been lost.  Some have willfully withdrawn.  This is true for most of us.  Yet, without the pain of separation I would not know the blessing of what I have.

For those who are going through a period of time in their lives where they do not have what they wish they had in a relationship, I would like to encourage you to do two things.  First, believe that you will someday find that special someone in your life.  And second I’d wish that you take time to reflect on the family you do have, the friends who do care for you, for what you have even if not much.  There are thousands and thousand with less.

It is essentially your choice.  You can choose to be stuck and depressed or you can choose to believe that it will get better.  I follow the old saying “If you think you can’t you are right.  If you think you can, you are also very right.”  We choose each day to be happy or to be defeated.  Choose to live.  Choose to love.  In so doing, there is hope.

Peace be unto you.  Of the peace I have, I give to you.  Merry Christmas to you.  My God be with you.

Thread

I’m getting ready to go on a short vacation.

In that process it requires that I pack at least a few items of clothing.

Looking at what I have to pack, it behooves me to replace some of the older tattered clothing that has been hanging in my closet for more years than I would like to admit.   Seems it is a natural “feature” of men that we seem to love to hang on to clothes that are long past their prime.

Maybe it is due to our natural instinct to preserve and utilize to the fullest and until worn out.  I’m not sure.  Maybe it is more a lack of concern for fashion.  Again, not sure.

In any event, it was and is time for a change.  Some old needs to go and some new needs to appear.

>>>

Took a break.   Sorry for the delay.   The break was actually the vacation mentioned earlier.  Thought I would get back to this before now.  Well…  better late(r) than never.

So…  to continue…

I went out and bought some much needed new “threads” (this is boring isn’t it?)(hold on… I’m not finished).  Several pairs of new shorts (6) and about 10 new shirts to go with them.  This sounds mundane I’m sure but it does have meaning.

So… I’m sitting at home looking at these shorts that I had just gotten and took notice of some more of the detail.  Inside the name is stamped.  Rather prominently.  It is OK with me.  It is not advertising on the outside of the shorts.  I noted the stitching.  Looking closely I find that the stitching is very well done.  Not just thrown together stitching like much of the work today.  Yes… It was machine work but it was good machine work.  heavy stitching and tightly woven.  Well anchored.  At least in my opinion.

It made me think of the stitching work we do in our lives.  How well or how poorly it is done.  And by whom.  Much of it is done of our own accord.  Some of it is done by others.  There are threads of our lives that are heavy, strong, and made that way to withstand much or many tugs and pulls and prevent the ripping that can occur in our lives.  And then there are threads that are light, delicate, and fragile and easily broken.

The very fibers of our being are threads back to our inner most thoughts.  The fibers of our spinal column to our brain.  The brain itself has many cells or fibers (ie threads) that connect and interconnect and weave the pattern that is our physical and even spiritual realm.  How we and others weave together these threads dictates who and what we are.

Good work, tight weaving, done by hand, takes time.  We do not have machines to do this.  It can not be done with speed though many would try.  The rips and tears that occur must be mended with care and precision or the mend will not hold.  The fabric that makes up our lives counts on our ability to care about what we do and taking time to do it correctly.  Anything less is a disservice to our own selves and will leave you tattered and worn.

Take time to weave and mend with great care.  The better the stitching, the longer the fabric will last.  Both in the physical and in the mental and in the spiritual.

About the brain…  I’ve included this before I think but I felt it worth including again.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html