Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Spiritual Journey...What Is Real And What Is Imaginary?

Here's another reading from the Tao.

Writings about the Tao are purposefully obscure.

Why? Because the writers cherish Tao.
The path is difficult to ensure worthiness.
The lazy look elsewhere,
The persevering find riches.

Today's commentary states, "The writers of the Tao only want knowledge of the Tao to go to those who will appreciate it. They do not want to pollute Tao by exposing it to the mildly curious. The secrets of life are already written repeatedly in all the holy books. They are only secrets because we do not take the time to truly read".

Many people, including me, are always searching for something but they often don't know what it is that they are searching for. Some type of inner voice is always calling them to what one friend calls "the distant shore". We may feel there's a void within us that is a kind of "inner ocean". We don't know what's on the other side but still we have a longing to go there. Our lives are restless and we may be nomadic in the sense that we are always on a journey even if our physical geography rarely changes. I think there are many people like this.

My musical hero, Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, once said something to the effect that he was intrigued by the statistics that stated there were many mentally ill people walking around in public who seemed reasonably happy and content. This makes me think about all the people living their lives who could care less about spiritual journeys, inner landscapes, finding themselves, self improvement, or whether or not there is a God. Many happy and fulfilled people could care less about these things. They feel that nothing is lacking in their lives from the absence of "meaning" found in what others call the "spiritual journey". It makes me wonder sometimes if the "spiritual journey" is real or imaginary or if the "path that is difficult to ensure worthiness" is a path at all. What is real and what is imaginary? Honestly, I don't know. Is there an inner voice that calls me forward or is this "voice" a figment of my own imagination? It is impossible to know what is real and true in matters of the Spirit. Spiritual people are often very troubled and unspiritual people can be very happy. Some live in faith, some in doubt, and others seem to live in a kind of blissful ignorance that I sometime envy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What A Beautiful Day!

Last night it got cool enough to turn off the A/C and sleep with the windows open. I was sleeping deeply until about 3:00 AM when my eyes shot open and I was instantly wide awake. The next three hours, until my alarm went off at 6:15 AM, were spent tossing and turning, falling in and out of dreams. Now my work day is over and I am sitting here with a very cool breeze blowing in my window. Today was a beautiful autumn day. The morning started off cool and the day didn't get much warmer. The noon sky was dark blue with only whispers of clouds drifting in the heavens. If you were in the shade it was cool even in the middle of the day. The sun was bright and warm but not hot. I went outside for a few moments around noon and I soon found myself lost in it all. If I had been in a comfortable spot, without afternoon obligations, I could have remained there for hours. Now, as the sun sets, and the day begins to wind down, the beauty continues and I am refreshed by the cool breezes. In spite of this refreshment, I would quickly fall asleep if I sat in my comfortable chair, with the blanket my friend Wendy brought me from Mexico, and the cool breeze conjoling me into an altered state of consciousness. It is with great joy that I welcome autumn, cool days, open windows, sleep inducing breezes, and a kalaidoscope of colors as the leaves begin their death dance before letting go and continuing the cycle of life.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Weekend Of Doing Nothing In Particular

This has been the kind of weekend I was needing. I passed on a retreat at the monastery. Most would think a weekend at the monastery would be a great way to get away from it all. However, it would have been a group retreat. In other words I would have been getting away from the "all" of my normal life to the "all" of a group retreat. The kind of retreat that I really need is a private retreat where no one recognizes me, I am truly alone, and, for all intent and purposes, invisible. Instead, I have spent most of the weekend in my home with my wife and son. All three of us are introverts so we are happy to be alone together. I have only ventured out for evening meals in nearby restaurants. Much of the weekend I have been "on the bus" with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. A young friend at work loaned me a copy of Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test". According to my friend it is his "all time favorite book" after Jack Kerouac's "On The Road". It is certainly an entertaining book and brings back memories of my own psychedelic adventures in the late 60's. I was no Merry Prankster but I was no saint either. Tomorrow morning I will return to my other extreme which is quiet reflections from Thomas Merton's "A Vow of Conversation". Those familiar with Merton and monastic life will see the irony in this title since most people think the monks take a vow of silence. They don't. They just choose silence.

I am not widely traveled. There is much of the United States I have not seen and I've only been abroad once when I went to France. However, most of my life I have been a traveler and a seeker. It's just that most of my journey has been internal. Some dream of outer space. I have explored my inner space. In my youth it involved the hippie life and experimenting with drugs. Most of my life, however, it has been more of a spiritual journey. In some ways I cannot define what this means. The word spiritual has come to mean many things to many people. My own awareness has become less dependent on religion but does not reject it. My attempts to be awake and aware are primarily my efforts to live in the moment through mindfulness and to live in wonder through contemplation. I know for some this may all sound like a lot of BS. However, through my life experiences, the personality these experiences have created, and the influences that have touched and formed me, I have attained a certain ability to live in the moment and to be present to the "hidden wholeness" that is part of all life. In the Tom Wolfe book I am reading this weekend Ken Kesey says, "Be in your own movie". Each of us is on a personal journey whether we recognize this fact or not. Each of us is in our own movie whether we are aware of it or not. We cannot be in one another's movies. I cannot see through your eyes. My movie is my journey and I must live it as it unfolds to me. Movies come in many types. Some are dramas, others are comedies. A few are grand adventures, while some are total fantasies. I do not think we get to choose our movies completely although we may interject a plot twist here and there. Whatever your personal movie is, the important thing is to be in it and not watch it from a distance.

A friend of mine went to San Francisco this past week. I told her to visit Haight-Asbury and think of me. She did exactly that and even took a picture for me! The famous intersection is shown above.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Your Perfect Teacher

Here's a article from that is worth your time.

Your Perfect Teacher

Many of us long to find a spiritual teacher or guru. We may feel unsure of how to practice our spirituality without one, or we may long for someone who has attained a higher level of insight to lead the way for us. Some of us have been looking for years to no avail and feel frustrated and even lost. The good news is that the greatest teacher you could ever want is always with you—that is your life.

The people and situations we encounter every day have much to teach us when we are open to receiving their wisdom. Often we don’t recognize our teachers because they may not look or act like our idea of a guru, yet they may embody great wisdom. In addition, some people teach us by showing us what we don’t want to do. All the situations in our lives, from the insignificant to the major, conspire to teach us exactly what we need to be learning at any given time. Patience, compassion, perseverance, honesty, letting go—all these are covered in the classroom of the teacher that is your life.

We can help ourselves to remember this perfect teacher each day with a few simple words. Each morning we might find a moment to say, "I acknowledge and honor the teacher that is my life. May I be wise enough to recognize the teachers and lessons that I encounter today, and may I be open to receiving their wisdom." We might also take some time each day to consider what our lives are trying to teach us at this time. A difficult phase in your relationship with your child may be teaching you to let go. The homeless person you see every day may be showing you the boundaries of your compassion and generosity. A spate of lost items may be asking you to be more present to physical reality. Trust your intuition on the nature of the lesson at hand, work at your own pace, and ask as many questions as you want. Your life has all the answers.

Great Poems For Autumn

I recently discovered these poems and I think they are wonderful. I love the imagery of the authors.

Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come - six, a dozen - to sleep
inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.
-Mary Oliver

Then summer fades and passes and October comes. We'll smell smoke then, and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a sense of sadness and departure.
Thomas Wolfe

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finding Your Style

I love today's reading from the Tao.

An old man sits on a granite step.
He plucks a treasured guitar.
The strings throb with feeling;
He needs no audience to open his heart.
A boy enthusiastically wants to learn his style.
"Style"? asks the man slowly. "My style is made of the long road of life, of heartbreak and joy, of people loved, and loneliness. It is made of war and its atrocities. It is made of a baby born, of burying parents and friends. My scale is the seven stars of the dipper, the hollow of my guitar is the space between heaven and earth. How can I show you my style? You have your own young life".

The commentary for today's reading says "Everyone has their own style in life. The old have perspective. The young has vigor. We can learn from each other but we cannot have what the other generations possess. We are each shaped by our generations and to transcend the limitations of our time is a rare occurrence indeed".

Brian Wilson, the creative force behind the Beach Boys and such classic albums as "Pet Sounds" once wrote a song entitled "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times". All of us have probably thought at one time or another that we were born at the wrong time in history or we have daydreamed about living in a different time. We reminisce about the past and imagine that life was simpler and less complex. Perhaps we dream of a future when today's trials and tribulations are behind us and we can finally relax. I think I was born at exactly the right time for me to live. My life has been shaped by the history that has unfolded since that early spring day when I was born in 1951. My childhood was spent in a time of peace and prosperity. I came of age in the turbulent 60's when much of society was turned upside down and many cultural changes occurred. In each subsequent decade of my life I have continued to be shaped and molded by the events happening to me and around me. I am a man of my time. Like the old man in today's reading from the Tao, my "style" has been shaped so far by a journey of nearly 60 years of living in the eternal now. I have experienced heartbreak, love, pain, and joy. I have been lonely. My youth was full of the news of the Vietnam War. Today it is war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have watched my children being born and I have buried three parents. I have sat in wonder and contemplation under the stars, I have watched the sun rise and set, and I have met the challenges of daily living. I have lived in faith and I have experienced doubt. All of this has made me who I am and it has created that unique style that is me. I was made for these times. I am exactly where and when I should be. How about you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aging Hippie Shows Up At High School Reunion

Lots of pictures were taken at my recent 40th high school reunion. Some of them were professionally done but many were taken by fellow classmates. The picture above, with me in blazing tie dye, was taken by a classmate at the Friday night meet and greet held at a local Tumbleweed restaurant. It was a beautiful night and everyone present seemed to have a great time. In fact many people are still buzzing about how enjoyable the whole weekend was. There is already talk of another reunion in 2014. Gee, that sounds so far into the future but in reality it's only five years away. In 2014 the Class of 1969 will be 63 years old. I wonder if I will still own tie dyed shirts? My guess is yes! If you look closely at the large group photo, taken on the second night of the reunion activities, you will see me goofing off when I should have been looking in the direction of the camera. This picture was taken at a local country club where we had a very classy dinner and dance. I concur with my fellow classmates. The whole weekend was a blast, full of laughter and emotion. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a great group of people.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn Is Here

Today is the first day of a new autumn. This is my favorite season and I always look forward to its arrival. Even if I didn't have a calendar I would know that autumn is here. The days are darker and shorter. There is a yellowish tint to the leaves. In a few weeks these same leaves will transform themselves into a kaleidoscope of colors. Mornings are cool in the predawn hours. This morning as I walked to the end of my driveway for my morning newspaper I was awed by the beauty of the still dark sky and the myriad of stars twinkling beyond the clouds. I love the dawn. It is my favorite time of the day. It is so full of peace and promise. In the early morning the coming day is like an unopened gift.

Tomorrow's daily reading from the Tao is especially appropriate for the beginning of autumn.

The sun rose and set today in twelve hours.
We plucked golden pears from arching branches.
Climbing a thousand steps to a rustic temple,
we made our offering to the gods.
At nightfall, we sat in warm companionship.
A crescent moon joined our circle.
Dipping water from the silver braided stream,
We set it bubbling in an earthenware pot.
It's not easy to brew good tea,
Bit this teapot has a venerable history.
A scholar once pawned all his books for it.
Now it imparts the flavor of antiquity.

Autumn is a time to be appreciative for the bounty of life. Regardless of the year we've had so far, it is a time of beauty and gratitude. It doesn't matter if we are rich or poor. The gift of beauty that autumn brings is available to all. It may not be easy to brew good tea but it is easy to savor and enjoy the tea of life that it poured into our cups during this special time of year. So dust off your cups and rinse them clean. Hold them out, let them be filled, and enjoy the tea of a thousand autumns that have gone before us and that we continue after us. Enjoy the flavor of the eternal now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sitting With Chuang Tzu

Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.
-Chuang Tzu

This is one of my favorite quotes by the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu. It speaks of mindfulness and being present to whatever you are doing and experiencing. By being present and centered our mind is free of the regrets of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Happiness is found in the moment. Sometimes, when I find myself dwelling on the past, I create anxiety for myself by speculating what could have happened if I had turned left at a crossroads instead of turning right or vice versa. When I dwell too much on the future I am sometimes afraid when I realize that my future is shrinking by the day and that I have more of my life behind me than ahead of me. I am sometimes filled with relief that all things are impermanent and that many of today's challenges will someday pass. However, I am also filled with some fear because of the realization that I am also impermanent. It would seem that my best chances for happiness are to focus on the moment and what is happening to me now. In a sense, the moment is eternal. We should all strive to live in the eternal now, wringing all of the life out of it that we can. Admittedly, this can be challenging. Most of the weekend my granddaughter was with me. She is so full of life that I can barely keep pace with her. She is so in the moment. Her whole being is in the NOW. She could probably teach Chuang Tzu a thing or two. When she goes home with her parents I am usually a depleted and wasted Pa Paw. The intensity of living life like a five year old is almost too much for a fifty eight year old. The great enemy of my spiritual awareness is fatigue. Presence requires awareness and awareness requires wakefulness. My body, and occasionally my mind, struggles with wakefulness. However, I will continue to strive for the kind of alert and energetic wakefulness that comes so easily to my beautiful granddaughter who is now my teacher. The old man called Pa Paw is the student. With my granddaughter's help I will ask myself, in the words of another Chinese philosopher named Lin-chi, "What, at this moment, is lacking"? When I accept and believe that nothing is lacking in the moment, I can flow with whatever is happening and my mind can be free.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Effect We Have On Others

I was reading an article tonight reminding people of something that most never think about. In our daily lives we are constantly interacting with a variety of people. We do this within our families, our workplaces, our churches, our friendships, and with the world in general. We rarely think about the good and bad effects of all this interaction. Most of us may be surprised that we affect anyone at all. In previous writings I have shared the idea that within every human encounter is an exchange of energy. Depending on the quality of the exchange we can be filled with new, life giving energy or feel drained when a negative encounter takes life from us. On an average day I have most encounters with other people within my workplace. I work with lots of people who engage me in enjoyable ways. They make me laugh or make me think. If I am feeling down and unappreciated, they may surprise me with a reminder that I am not taken for granted. Sometimes I am lifted up by a simple smile or glance. Occasionally when passing another person I may give them the "high five". This simple form of touching can be life giving. Others times a private, more intimate conversation can give me a sense of value when I am able to lighten another person's load. I work with many young people, most of whom could be my children. They show me great respect. I'm not sure if they realize how their youth fills me with life. Being with them everyday keeps me young at heart. I can only hope that my "advanced age" but youthful heart and attitude has some kind of positive effect on them. I never feel like I do anything extraordinary but I try to do ordinary things well. I strive to practice the kindness and compassion that I believe in. As today's young people say, "I try to keep it real". I probably get more than I give but, hopefully, the effect I have on others is also life giving.

Quotes That Have Touched Me

As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality of calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.

- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

We cannot avoid missing the point of almost everything we do. But what of it? Life is not a matter of getting something out of everything. Life itself is imperfect. All created beings begin to die as soon as they begin to live, and no one expects any one of them to become absolutely perfect, still less to stay that way. Each individual thing is only a sketch of the specific perfection planned for its kind. Why should we ask for it to be anything more?
-Thomas Merton. No Man is an Island.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Joyful Weekend

I am at home enjoying a quiet and, hopefully, a restful day after a very busy but joyful weekend. It all began on Friday night when I attended the first of two events for my 40th high school reunion. It was a very informal event in a circus like tent outside a local restaurant located on the banks of the Ohio River. The weather was very pleasant and cooperative. Being a casual event I decided to link the present with the past of 40 years ago by wearing my best and brightest tie dyed shirt. As expected I received a few "I see you're still a hippie" comments. Of course, they were all in good fun. A few of my former classmates have remained my friends through the journey of the last 40 years. Most of them were present on Friday but I was also able to connect with friends I have not seen for many years. Typically, people were as I remembered them. We're all a lot older so people have mellowed and egos has subsided. Everyone was very friendly and most seemed genuinely happy to see one another.

After a much needed good night's sleep I got out of bed on Saturday and drove to the monastery. My drive was more cautious and mostly with my cruise control operating for fear of another speeding ticket. I am still feeling the sting of the $173 citation I received on my last trip. I was going to the monastery to connect with a few of the monks who would be joining me for a special mass and celebration lunch at the home of my good friend, Fr. Dennis. Dennis is a retired priest who is now living as a hermit. This is actually a recognized vocation within my church and Dennis was making his solemn profession. The Archbishop of Louisville was there to receive his vows formally and I was there as a friend and witness. Along with the Archbishop, monks, and me, there were a few other friends and local hermits.

Saturday night was the main event for my class reunion. It was a more formal and classy event at a local country club. Although many classmates did not attend it was still a full house. It was a touching and emotional evening. Most of us were just happy to be alive and to reconnect. On one wall were pictures of 32 classmates who have passed from this life. My class was a large class with approximately 475 people. 32 of them have died, approximately 20 or so are missing in action but the reunion team was able to track down everyone else. We were scattered all over the United States and Canada. The best part of the night for me was seeing one of my high school loves...pictured above...who I have not seen or communicated with in many, many years. She was just like I remember her. We spent much of the evening together talking about the past, our time together, and the lives we now have after 40 years. Seeing her was the highlight of my evening. We now have one another's emails so hopefully our renewed friendship will continue going forward. I love to reconnect with my past. When the evening was over I was very happy to receive a booklet that was a kind of updated yearbook with information about where everyone has been, what they have accomplished, and emails to stay connected. All in all, this reunion exceeded all my expectations and it was a joyful and emotional experience.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crossing The Threshold

Does anything feel better than crossing the threshold of your home after a day at work? It doesn't matter if the day was good or bad. It is extremely rare for me to have a truly bad day. Good or bad, work is work, and it is a good feeling to finish one's daily work and to begin the rest one has earned. I love it when I am finally home, changed into my evening clothes, and sitting in my favorite chair. I breathe a sigh of relief as I silently voice a prayer of thanksgiving for my employment, what was most likely a good day, and for a comfortable and safe home. Within my home I love my little Fortress of Solitude where I sit with my coffee, read my books, listen to my music, and occasionally communicate with friends and strangers through this blog, my emails, or on Facebook. A well deserved rest is one of life's little joys and it is the little joys and simple things for which I am most grateful..

One of the simple joys I continue to enjoy is my small dose of quiet time before leaving for work each day. During this time I savor my first taste of freshly brewed coffee and a slice of wisdom from whatever book I am reading. I've been struggling a little with reading. A couple of new books I was attempting just weren't turning me on. On top of this any reading is difficult for me in the evenings when fatigue often takes over my brain and body. Sometimes when I struggle with reading I will return to an old favorite that I can count on. One source of wisdom and joy is the books of Thomas Merton. There is one very nice collection containing selections of my personal favorites from Merton called "Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master". It's probably the first book I would recommend to someone as an introduction to Merton's writing and thought. Here's a sample of something I read yesterday morning. This particular quote is from "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander".

Gabriel Marcel says that the artist who labors to produce effects for which he is well known is unfaithful to himself. This may seem obvious enough when it is badly stated but how differently we act. We are all too ready to believe that the self we have created out of our more or less inauthentic efforts to be real in the eyes of others is a "real self". We even take it for our identity. Fidelity to such a non identity is of course infidelity to our real person which is hidden in mystery. Who will you find that has enough faith and self respect to attend to this mystery and to begin by accepting himself as unknown? God help the man who thinks he knows all about himself.

This blog is just one thing I do to unravel the mystery of who I am. I have an image of myself, some of you have an image of who you think I am, and somewhere in the mix is who I really am. All I know for sure is that I am a simple man who loves crossing the threshold of his home each evening to enjoy the simple comforts of his favorite chair, a good book, delightful music, and maybe some fresh coffee. On top of all this, a nap is added gravy.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Holiday Weekend Blur

It seems like I was just lying in bed on Friday night with thoughts of a three day weekend eternity swirling in my head. Now I am sitting her on Monday night with thoughts of another work week looming on the horizon. When I got up this morning a light rain was ending. I anticipated a overcast day with periodic rain showers. Most of the day was actually sunny although another brief rain storm occurred just a little while ago. I can't complain about anything because this has been an enjoyable holiday. I got up early on Saturday and enjoyed my solitude and leisure for much of the day. Later in the day my wife and I drove to my son's home and picked up my granddaughter. She was excited to be coming over for a visit and I was excited to see her. Admittedly, I am sometimes exhausted by the end of her visits but I never tire of seeing her. We had promised her a visit to a store called "Build A Bear" and we kept our promise. Hey, what are grandparents for? On Sunday afternoon I got a few hours of additional solitude when my wife, Chloe, and her parents went shopping. The never ending project of updating my home decor continues with much excitement from everyone except me. It's not that I don't care. I do like a nice looking home but I am just not into decorating. My wife, son, and daughter in law have excellent tastes and the ability to turn an idea into reality. It's best for everyone if I just stay out of the way. My music room, of course, is off limits for redecorating. In that room it is still 1969. After a good meal at a favorite restaurant we all parted ways and headed to our individual homes.

Today is Monday, the Labor Day holiday, and a day off from working at the office. In spite of it being a holiday to rest from labor, I actually labored much of the day. I transported eight bags of clothes to the local Goodwill. It always feels good to get rid of stuff I no longer need but which may meet the needs of others. I also mostly accomplished a task I've been wanting to complete for a while. I cleaned up a room that is a kind of office for me. Over the years of my life I have collected many books and other memorabilia. Most of these items are very sentimental for me. After my dear mother in law passed away late last year I acquired a curio cabinet. Today I filled it with much of my stuff which created some space to reorganize my book collection. Although I am not quite finished, much progress was made and overall I feel good about what I accomplished today. Tomorrow I can go back to my job at the office and rest.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Quiet Days

It is a quiet and peaceful Saturday morning. I am feeling very good after a full night's sleep. Today is the first day of a three day weekend. Monday is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. As far as I am concerned the unofficial end of summer was August 31st. Regardless, anyway you cut it, summer is coming to an end. The days are noticeably shorter, the mornings cooler, and the green of summer is showing shades of brown. I actually don't think too much about endings and beginnings. It is always Now. I've been enjoying the day so far. Feeling rested I got up early and brewed some coffee. I am now on my third cup as I sit here typing with the new Levon Helm CD entitled "Electric Dirt" playing in the background. Those in the know remember that Levon Helm was a member of the classic music group called "The Band". My wife has left to go run an errand while I sit here waiting for the cable man. We are on our third technician trying to find and fix a problem with our cable service. Sometime after that is done my wife and I will go get our granddaughter. It's very likely we will end up at a McDonald's and a toy store before the day is over. Some people say, "You're spoiling that child"! You're darn right I am! She's my only grandchild and the chances for additional grandchildren are slim at best....unless her parents slip up. Since my other son is becoming a priest, my chances for additional grandchildren are already reduced 50%. Once she gets over here today, there will be a lot more activity and little rest for Pa Paw.

It's obvious to me, and probably to my faithful readers, that I am posting less on this blog. These days I find myself wondering how I kept up daily emails to hundreds of people for as long as I did. Before I settled on this blog as my way to share thoughts and stories, I sent out emails five days a week for nearly five years to almost 600 people. I did the math once and realized that was 3000 emails a week and 12,000 emails a month. What amazes me the most is that I was able to actually write fairly decent thoughts most of the time. At this time I sometimes struggle to have anything to share. My life is very quiet these days and most work nights I am weary and sometimes brain dead. My reading has almost ground to a halt. The lack of reading has created a lack of thought and reflection. Much of what I wrote in the past was a result of what I was reading. I'm sure this is a temporary malaise. I still love books and hopefully will resume some serious reading soon. Let's just say I am on an intellectual holiday right now and I am giving my brain a rest.