Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random Thoughts Volume XXIV

Spring is here. The daffodils are in full bloom along the interstate highway. The yellow flowers of the forsythia bushes are all over town. Trees and bushes are full of green buds and the dogwoods are blooming. However, at this moment the temperature is in the 30's and my furnace is working to warm my house. Welcome to spring in Kentucky.

Did you see the super moon last Saturday night? My granddaughter and I went outside and stood in the middle of the street gazing up into the sky. The moon looked huge in it's fullness and it was very bright. The entire neighborhood was bathed in it's glow.

I rode up the elevator earlier this week with three women who were all trashing men. I guess they didn't notice me standing in the elevator. It confirms my suspicions. I really am invisible.

My wife informs me that Chloe tried to pee standing up while she was at our house last weekend. It didn't work out very well. You may remember that I recently told her that girls can do anything that boys can do. Her response was that "We can't pee standing up".

"Never waste time doing anything when you could be sleeping".

Last Sunday the commentator Ben Stein used this quote on a discourse about American's chronic lack of sleep. Some of you may remember Ben Stein as the teacher in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" which is one of my favorite movies. Like most people I am sleep deprived. On workdays I stay up too late and I am forced to get up too early. Most nights I take a nap even though I don't really want to do so. I would rather be awake so I can enjoy my evening. When I do awaken from my nap I am usually in the Twilight Zone for an hour or so. Sometimes at work I am afraid to blink because I am fearful my eyes will not re-open. The only way I can usually stay awake is to keep moving. Mr Stein says the root cause of most of our problems is a lack of sleep. I believe him. When I am tired my mind is dull, my body is barely functioning, my mood can be grouchy, and I am not a productive human being. The solution seems simple. Just go to bed earlier. However, we live in a 24 hour, non stop culture. I remember in my childhood that the television stations actually went off the air every night. There was a time when no stores were open on Sundays. Most people lived their lives based on the rising and the setting of the sun. Those days are gone and we are poorer for it.

It's been a while since I talked about Zen, contemplation, and wonder. My simple definition of Zen is being where you are and doing what you are doing. This is very challenging when you are somewhere you don't want to be, doing something you don't want to do and it can be a challenging when you are somewhere you want to be, doing something you love. Most of us have "monkey minds" where our thoughts bounce around all over the place and we are rarely in the moment. Contemplation is an experience of oneness and clarity. You may feel one with God, or the universe, and for just a moment everything makes sense and you have some clarity about life. I had an experience of wonder last night. I was grilling some dinner on my back porch. While the food was cooking I sat in a chair, looked at my Buddha statue, and listened to my wind chimes. I love them because they have deep tones that sound like temple bells. While I was sitting in my chair, motionless, one of the squirrels that lives in my backyard walked right up to my chair. I could have leaned down and petted him. I looked at him and he looked a me. I wondered if he recognized that I am the person that puts food out for him and all the birds? I've never had a squirrel come that close to me. The moment was really a combination of Zen presence, contemplative union, and childlike wonder. Then the squirrel ran away and I took dinner into the house.

One of my favorite rock bands is a group called "Yes". They have a CD and a song called "Open Your Eyes". This title could be a mantra for life. Yesterday my writing came up in a conversation with some co-workers. I admitted that I sometimes struggle wondering what to write about. I often repeat myself with topics but when I do I try to think of new and fresh ways to say things. There is nothing new under the sun whether it be fashion, music, or ideas. I doubt if anything I have ever written was truly an original thought. However, as I go through my life I try to open my eyes so that I see things in new ways. In many ways life doesn't change all that much while in other ways it changes a great deal. What usually changes and what should change is our perspective. On Saturday I will be 60 years young. I can assure you that I see life with a different perspective now than I did when I was 20 years old. I can also assure you that within every older person is a young person wondering what the hell happened. I'm in a little disbelief that I will be 60. In my mind I am still 25. Of course, if I said this to my wife she would look at me and say "Open Your Eyes" and look in the mirror. My granddaughter once asked me how old she would be on her next birthday. After I told her she asked me how old I would be on my next birthday. When I told her "60" she looked at me like she couldn't quite comprehend that number. Then she said, "Does that mean you will get a walker like the "Old Paw Paw"? I admit that I am moving a little slower these days but I'm not quite at the walker stage of life.

I was really caught off guard in my office today. I came to work and found my cubicle decorated with birthday stuff. This alone was a surprise. Later in the morning I attended what turned out to be a fake meeting with my boss. While he distracted me, my office staff, as well as all my work at home staff, gathered in a conference room to prepare a birthday lunch that was quite extraordinary. As an introvert I really don't like to be the center of attention. After being the center of attention all morning and during lunch, I thought it was all over and I could relax the rest of the day. Then I really got caught off guard. I attended what I thought was a department meeting. That, too, turned out to be for me. I was presented with a large sheet cake and then a couple of hundred people sang "Happy Birthday" to me. One of my friends on another floor could hear them. On top of all the attention and food I also received some very nice cards and gifts. I was truly humbled, grateful, and embarrassed. It all made my day and raised my blood sugar.

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