Friday, December 10, 2010

Random Thoughts Volume X

You must be the change you want to see.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi was a nonviolent man who lead India to independence from British rule until he was killed by an assassin in 1947. He was the primary inspiration for Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement in America during the 1960's. It's our loss that we have few leaders like him today. The only one that comes to mind in recent times is Nelson Mandela. Gandhi was quite the revolutionary although he did it mostly on a spiritual level through his example and the gentle persuasion of his diplomacy. He is a real example for all of us. There is not a day of my life where I don't hear people complain about something. Occasionally I am the one doing the complaining. Gandhi urges us to be the change we want to see. If you don't like the way things are, if you think something is unjust or unfair, do something about it. If you think there is a problem, don't just whine about it. Suggest a solution. One person can make a difference. It may take some courage and persistence on your part. Even if you don't implement a change I think it's better to fail trying to do the right thing than to succeed at doing nothing but complaining.

A little while in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you.
-Rumi.

Rumi was a Persian poet who lived in the 13th century. He wrote beautiful poetry that was also filled with much wisdom. Have you been to the Mall lately? Do you like rush hour traffic? Have you ever gone to the grocery store when there's even a slight chance of snow falling? We live in an increasingly crowded world that moves at a very fast pace and it seems to do so 24 hours a day. Modern life is frantic and stressful and it can often feel like white water rafting. We are in our little boats and the river of life seems to just carry us along and we have no power to stop it. Rumi offers us a simple antidote. Make a little time in your day to be quiet and to be alone. If you have a personality like mine such time is mandatory for your mental health. Spending a little time each day in silence and solitude is the way I recharge my batteries after I deal with whatever life has asked of me that day. Everyone can benefit from such time and it can be a gift to yourself.

The journey is the destination.
-Zen saying

My youngest son makes fun of me because I have a tee shirt with this saying in the back. However, the joke is on him because the saying is true. In other thoughts I have talked about mindfulness and being in the moment. We often daydream about a past that wasn't as great as we imagine it was or we long for a future that may never be. We are so busy remembering the past or dreaming about the future that we miss everything in the middle. The middle is now and the journey is now. Our goal, our destination, is to be where we are now and to appreciate the moment. This doesn't mean we can't remember people or events in our past with fondness or that we can't have hopes and dreams that we hope to achieve someday. I think it means to enjoy the ride! I used to attend Grateful Dead concerts all the time. I can distinctly remember being at one and thinking, "Enjoy this moment. This won't last forever". Sure enough, a few years Jerry Garcia died and the Grateful Dead as I knew them ceased to exist. I dearly love my six year old granddaughter but sometimes she wears me out. I try to have the attitude "Enjoy this tea party, Paw Paw, because one day she will be all grown up and hanging out with Paw Paw won't be her top priority". Enjoy your life now because these are the good old days.

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, after delivering an unpopular message to my co-workers, I decided I needed some fresh air. I took a walk in Waterfront Park past the Christmas tree lot and along the river. The cold air was refreshing and the flowing of the river was calming. Christmas is a little over two weeks away. Work is demanding and the holiday schedules are crazy. It's a stressful time in the office. While I was out walking I thought about all of this. If your "hard times" are because you have to work a lot this holiday season, count your blessings. Remember that your sacrifices at work are benefiting your families. I saw on the news earlier this week that hundreds, maybe thousands, of people were applying for 1000 temporary jobs at Zappo's Shoe Company. These jobs will barely last two weeks and most of the people will be let go right after Christmas. The current unemployment average in this country still hovers around 10%. Most years during the holiday season I take time off because it's my favorite time of year. This year I am working more than I normally would. I made a conscious decision to not complain about it and to be grateful that I am working. Many people would love the opportunity that has been given to me and my co-workers. I know some of them are not happy and I understand. However, I have realized in my life that my happiness is in direct proportion to my gratefulness. Employment is something for which I am very grateful. I can take time off later when life and work is not so crazy.

It has been a beautiful morning. I don't normally start my workday in late morning but I did today. The change was pleasant because it gave me three solitary and wonderful hours at home. I got out of my bed at my usual time so I could enjoy the morning. The change in hours will seem a little less pleasant when it's 4:00 PM today and I realize I have to work three more hours.

Today is my mother's 81st birthday. I am her oldest child but five more children came after me. It is also the anniversary of the death of Thomas Merton. Merton was a Trappist monk and spiritual writer who has been a great influence on my thinking and living. In 2005 I was asked to give a talk at the Cathedral of the Assumption here in Louisville about the influence Merton has had on my life. It was a great honor for me.

I am looking forward to this weekend. My granddaughter will be around and it is the only weekend I will be off work for the rest of the month. It is also going to snow again so I look forward with giddiness to the thought of snowflakes filling the air and covering the ground.

1 comment:

KWriter said...

I love the reminders you've compiled into your thoughts today. There is much wisdom in a life that is able to transcend the past and use it to make a better today. I'm ashamed at how many weekday (workdays) that I skip over, in hopes to get to the weekend. I'm losing the now; I needed this reminder today. Expertly written - Thank You!

"The middle is now and the journey is now." (Fantastic!)