Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Here is a daily thought I received on my telephone this morning.
Make a list of things that excite you. What kind of person would you be if you could sustain this level of excitement more often? What steps can you take to become more like that person.

I must admit that I am a person that doesn’t get excited easily. I am cynical by nature, more reserved than I care to admit, and my true emotions rarely show. As a leader one of my weaknesses is an inability to be a cheerleader type of person. There are certainly people and things that give me joy. My granddaughter and music come to mind. However, I don’t think joy and excitement are the same thing. I think what excites me is when I can be who I really am and do what I do best. Occasionally this happens but not often enough.  Many people find it difficult to be who they are because they don’t know who they are. I have a fairly good idea of who I am because I’ve had a long life to figure it out. Many people also don’t know what they do best because they haven’t found their gift yet. Excitement is a difficult emotion for me. When I actually feel excitement it is almost uncomfortable. I suppose the strongest emotion I feel is passion. Passion, however, can be a double edged sword. On the positive side I can feel passion for something I truly believe in but on the negative side my passion is occasionally repressed anger that has found its way to the surface of my feelings. Today I will try to meditate on things that excite me and ways that I can nurture this feeling within myself. I want to live a life where my experiences, thoughts, and actions excite me. Excitement, like joy, is a wonderful feeling. I strive to avoid negative feelings and most of the time I am positive but I rarely feel excited about anything. What about you?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Michael, Start Your Engine!

Written upon my arrival at work today....

This past weekend I did nothing. OK, I did do a couple loads of laundry on Sunday afternoon but that was my greatest accomplishment. Most of Friday I was under the weather and that carried over into Saturday. I woke up hacking and coughing and very lethargic. I spent most of Saturday on my couch or in my Lazy Boy asleep or staring out the window.  Although weekends are a time we should be able to do nothing and be guilt free about it, I often feel guilty when I spend my weekends staring out the window. Sometimes, however, one must overcome the guilt and listen to the body and give it what it needs. I feel pretty good this morning but it would be a stretch to say that I am enthusiastic for a new work week. Hopefully, that will change and I my mental state will soon be where it needs to be on a Monday morning.  I think I will avoid listening to the blues on my iPod. Maybe I will start off with some happy music like “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett. The danger of that is that I might start thinking about how much I would like to also start off my day with a margarita. Maybe I should start slowly by sending out these thoughts, pour my third cup of coffee, read my morning emails, and check my calendar. After I do that maybe I will take a few laps around the office to get my blood pumping. I’m sure that within a few hours I will be my normal self going about my normal chores. Let’s hope so….

Friday, April 26, 2013

Life's Journeys

A co-workers retirement reminds me that life is a journey. During our lifetime we walk down many different roads. We start in one place and end up in another place. When one road ends, another one begins. As Tom Hanks declared in the movie Forrest Gump, “I’ve worn lots of shoes”. In all of the journeys down all of the roads we have traveled in our lives we’ve all worn lots of shoes. I have an old pair of sneakers with tie dyed shoe strings that are completely worn out but I have kept them because they have taken me to many rock and roll concerts in my life. The shoes, and the journeys on which I wore them, have many memories for me. I hope my wife doesn’t pitch them when I am not looking. Often when we are walking down one of life’s roads we have no idea where it will end or where it will intersect another road. We don’t always know where we are and it is only by looking in our rear view mirror that we know where we’ve been. If we know where we are going we have a better idea about what kind of shoes to wear. I once visited France. Our hosts took a bunch of us on a bus trip to a local shrine in a forest. After we all got off the bus, the bus left us. Most of us didn’t realize that part of the experience was to hike back to where we began. The hike back was through the forest. It was beautiful but there were hills to climb, creeks to cross, and occasional mud. Some of the ladies and a few of the men were not prepared for such a hike. I wasn’t wearing my rock and roll shoes but I did have on some shoes appropriate for a hike in the forest. As you walk down the roads of your life, including the occasional side trip through a forest, be sure you have on the right kind of shoes.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Comfort Zones

Yesterday seemed much longer than it actually was. It was a very full day with meetings, 1 x 1’s, and conference calls. To make it even worse, I was slightly under the weather with an emerging cold or routine sinus issues. I can never tell the difference between a cold or allergies. Some of my activities were of a technical nature and I am really out of my comfort zone when the conversation gets too technical. Occasionally I discover that I know more than I think I know but I am often nervous that I’m in over my head and will not have an answer to a question directed to me. By the end of the day my eyes were glazed over and I was completely brain dead. The good news is that most work days for me are not this busy or this technical. Most work days I am able to use my strengths and do what I do best. It is certainly more enjoyable to use one’s strengths than be operating from your weaknesses. Even though I don’t like it, I suppose it is good to occasionally be uncomfortable. It’s challenging and part of life is to be tested from time to time by having to do something when you are not at your best. I survived yesterday and now I am back at work to hopefully meet whatever challenges or tests that today brings. My morning began well at home when I received the following message from a total stranger. I found it affirming and encouraging.

I recently discovered your blog while in search of some Taoist philosophy. I’ve enjoyed perusing your posts. Nice style and interesting topics”.

Even though I sometimes feel like I don’t know what I am doing at work, at least I know I can write.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Modern Work

Why do so many working people in our society find so little satisfaction in their daily work? Sometimes when I look at the faces of people leaving my building at the end of the day or strangers driving home during the evening commute, they look absolutely exhausted and dazed. Other times when I am riding up and down the elevators in my office building I listen to people complaining about their jobs. Many people in our society work in the same type of corporate, information driven environment that I work in. Almost everyone I know does "something with a computer". Some days it is easy to feel like the focus of your job is to read and write emails. We live in an information driven, electronic age. Most of us spend a great deal of time gathering and sharing data. I think that is part of the problem. Perhaps satisfaction goes down as sensory overload goes up. The work we do is mostly intangible. Unlike past generations, most of us cannot drive down the road, look at a bridge or building, and say, "I helped build that!” When you work with information, you have no lasting monuments to what you have accomplished. Instead of bridges, buildings, or works of art, we create spreadsheets and databases. It’s impossible to take a picture of these things and hang them on the wall. Our accomplishments and successes are fleeting. The flow of data and information never stops. Today's success of managing data is a moment in time. That success and moment are short lived. I really don't know the answer to the problem of finding satisfaction in doing this type of modern work. I try to remind myself that the information and numbers represent real people but that doesn't always work. The most satisfaction I find in the workplace comes from the people around me. I try to build relationships. If I can have a positive influence on another person, it is satisfying. Relationships involve something that is much more tangible than data and numbers. Looking at numbers and other data reminds me of a famous Zen saying. "The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon". The data and numbers are not what we serve although they are important.  They are a finger pointing at the moon. In most cases the "moon" is people and they are what it's all about.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Death Of Richie Havens

Last evening, while doing the weekly grocery shopping with my wife, I received a notice on my phone telling me that Richie Havens had passed away. I’m sure some of you have never heard of Richie Havens. He was a folk singer and a black artist in the mostly white world of hippie rock and roll in the late 60’s. In fact, he was one of the few black performers at Woodstock. The other two of note were Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix. Richie was always respected but became hugely popular because he was the opening act at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969 and he also appeared in the movie documentary about the festival. Like most events of that kind in the late 60’s, the promoters didn’t have their act totally together. It was late on a Friday afternoon and there was no one to perform. Since Richie was an acoustic performer all he needed was some microphones. The promoters begged him to play even though his bass player was stuck in traffic out on the highway. Richie gave in and proceeded to wow the crowd with his performance. It took me a number of years to finally see Richie Havens perform. He played at a local festival in the pouring rain. He did his best but felt badly that we in the crowd had to endure the rain. His roadies gave away free CD’s and I managed to get two of them. I tried to have a Richie Havens memorial at home last night but some of his music is so peaceful I fell asleep. I will try again today after I send this thought out to the world. Here is a Haiku for Richie written by Wavy Gravy, another counter-cultural hero of Woodstock.

Richie Havens passed
Sing out freedom, free at last
Straight into the light

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chloe's First Communion

Yesterday my granddaughter and her classmates made their first communion. They all looked so serious. The girls wore white dresses with veils and the boys wore blue suits. The Gospel for Mass was the story of the Good Shepherd. During his homily the priest asked the children to describe what a shepherd was and to tell him what a shepherd looked like. Chloe raised her hand and pointed me out to the priest. He smiled and most of the church laughed. The children did all the readings and Chloe read a prayer in front of the whole church. It was a proud moment for parents, grandparents, and all in attendance. As I sat in the church I looked at Chloe and felt great love for her. I also looked at the priest and thought about my youngest son. Soon he will be the guy giving such talks and presiding at such events. After the mass my other son beamed with pride as he took pictures of Chloe and family members. I am attaching one of the pictures. Family life can be a struggle. Raising children is hard work. However, when we celebrate rites of passage, whether they be first communions, graduations, or marriages, it makes being a family a joyous occasion.

After eating some first communion cake at my son’s home, I got roped into helping him carry a king-sized mattress up a flight of stairs. I thought I was going to die. It was like pushing a whale that had no skeleton up the stairs. We did it and I had no heart attack so he owes me one. My pain probably won’t kick in until tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Family Celebrations

My granddaughter makes her First Communion this Sunday.  She has a white dress and veil for the occasion.  This rite of passage actually makes me a little sad.  Like most children she is growing up way too fast.  I still remember the day she was born like it was yesterday and this coming summer she will be nine years old.  In what will seem like the blink of an eye, she will be a teen-ager!  As my only grandchild, she has brought great joy into my life.  I especially appreciate having a granddaughter since my children are boys and I never had a daughter.  This event is the first of several significant events that will be happening in my family over the next six weeks.  In the month of May, my youngest son graduates from the seminary with his Master’s Degree and a few weeks later he will be ordained a priest and celebrate his first Mass.  My oldest son will turn 35 years old.  It is a wakeup call for me, and most likely for him as well, to realize that he is pushing 40.  In fact, just a few days ago my wife had lunch with my youngest son and said to him, “I don’t think you and your brother get it that Dad and I are getting old”.  Children don’t always realize that as they grow up their parents are growing older.  The week before my son is ordained I will be seeing the Dalai Lama in person.  After the First Communion, the graduation, the birthday, the ordination, the first Mass, and the parties for all of the above, my wife and I will be, in her words, “worn out and broke”.  It’s a good thing I will be receiving some enlightenment from the Dalai Lama!       

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Zen Of Laughter

Yesterday, about midday, I received an instant message from a friend and co-worker in another city. It read “I’d like to place an order for some Zen”. She went on to explain that she was coming un-hinged at work and wondered, “What would Michael do”? I didn’t tell her that I would probably go outside and scream. What I did was make her laugh. I told her that laughter is part of Zen. My co-workers and I often joke throughout the workday and make one another laugh. It never ceases to amaze me how good laughter is for you. It can certainly lighten the mood and re-energize you when the demands of the day make you feel frazzled. I don’t want to be in a workplace where everyone is serious all the time and there is never any laughter. One of my personal goals is to feel joyful about life. This is very challenging at times. Life is hard and there are always bad things happening that can depress you. The Zen of laughter can make life seem sweet and not so difficult. Whatever our differences are as people, we can be unified in our shared laughter. Psychological studies have shown that frequent laughter is good for us physically as well as for our overall well-being. Occasionally people ask me how I have managed to stay married for almost 39 years. I would say that laughter has been a major reason. The other reason is I can live better on two incomes. My wife and I are about 98% total opposites but we laugh a lot. Admittedly, a lot of our laughter is based on our mutual disrespect for people who take themselves too seriously, for all things pretentious, and for society’s absurdities. My advice for all you sourpusses and overly serious people out there is to chill out and laugh. Life is too short to walk around with a frown on your face all the time. Lighten up! No one ever died from laughter and light heartedness.  If I keel over in the middle of a good laugh it won't be a bad way to go.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When Do You Hit The Snooze Button?

Each morning I receive a daily thought on my telephone that is directed towards people with my personality type. Some days it affirms me and other days it challenges me. Here is an excerpt from today’s thought.

How do you postpone showing up more fully in your life? Where and how do you typically hit your snooze button? What conditions do you require to wake up”?

I must admit that my natural tendency is to be withdrawn, disengaged, and solitary. I am an off the chart introvert. One could say I was even trained to be this way during my time in the monastery. I admit that I find a day home alone to be bliss while group functions are often hell for me. I also have a tendency to zone out no matter where I am. When I am listening to a live concert on my iPod, I am at the concert in my mind. Having said all of this, what conditions do I require to wake up and show up in my life? In order to do this the situation or the task must interest me. If it’s a philosophical challenge, I need to believe in it. In most cases I also need to be challenged. If it’s too easy I am bored. If it’s too hard, and possibly beyond my abilities, I am stressed. For me to be fully engaged and present, I need to feel like my strengths are being utilized, I believe in what I am doing, I see its value, and I must feel a sense of accomplishment. If I am operating from weakness in a task that I find meaningless, and it has no apparent value to me, I am mentally and emotionally checked out and I am hitting the snooze button repeatedly.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Journey Of Remembering

I believe part of the spiritual journey is trying to remember everything we have forgotten. We are born perfect but begin to lose our true nature as we “mature”. In a manner of speaking the spiritual journey is a return to the self. As we grow older we sometimes feel like we learn new things. I don’t think it is a learning so much as it is a remembering. As we remember who and what we are, we re-discover our true self, the self that is often hidden by our personalities. As I have shared before, our different personalities are nothing more than defense mechanisms we have unconsciously created as our way to deal with the world around us and to get love. Since we have not all had the same experience of life, we do not all have the same personality. I know my own personality well. It has been studied and tested by me on a number of occasions. I am programmed by my life’s experience to act a certain way. Many of us even try to look a certain way. I was asked once if I had a beard so I look “wiser”. Of course I do! Seriously, the challenge of the spiritual journey, and the return to the self, often pushes us to act the opposite of the way we want to act or think we should act. On some levels we are all frauds and imposters. We maintain our illusions of ourselves because we are afraid of who we might really be. If we are born perfect, a return to our true self cannot be scary. The real fear should be living in an illusion. People sometimes ask me, “How can I have inner peace”? First of all inner peace is not the result of having no conflict or challenges in your life. Inner peace comes from being who you are, accepting who you are, and being OK with who you are. If you are doing these things you are on your way to being your true self and experiencing inner peace. Now if I can just remember to do this….


Mondays sure come around quickly. I always feel so good when Friday night rolls around. The weekend looms large but in the blink of an eye a new work week begins. I’m feeling a little sore this morning. I’m not sure if it’s because I sat around too much this weekend or its from getting all the patio furniture out yesterday. As soon as the day really kicks in I will stop noticing it. A new week brings a return to the rituals of the work day. I crawl out of bed, shower and get dressed, drink my coffee, eat my toast, and meditate before I leave home. Monday mornings are also my fill up the gas tank days. Soon enough I am on the highway and in the flow of morning rush hour. The work day itself also has it’s routines but all of them are subject to change depending on the needs of the day. When my work day is complete, I will head back home to the rituals of the work day evening. I will have some dinner. Most nights it is at home but depending on the kind of day my wife or I had, it may be in a restaurant on the way home. When I arrive home I will bathe again, change into my evening attire, retreat to my cave and chill. At some point I will post my daily blog, read the newspaper, check my emails, and sometimes I will take a nap. I am a world class napper. Napping is something that old people can do better than young people. These daily rituals and routines carry me through my week and get me to another weekend. Weekends have their own rituals but also have a lot more flexibility. Whether it’s a work day or a weekend, I try to enjoy every minute of the day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What I Wear Is Pants, What I Do Is Live, How I Pray Is Breathe

This is not a hermitage, it is a house. ("Who was that hermitage I seen you with last night?") What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. Who said Zen? Wash out your mouth if you said Zen. If you see a meditation going by, shoot it. Who said "Love?" Love is in the movies. The spiritual life is something that people worry about when they are so busy with something else they think they ought to be spiritual. Spiritual life is guilt. Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that is to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it.
-Thomas Merton from his essay Day of a Stranger.

This is a quote from one of my favorite Thomas Merton essays. For those that do not know, Thomas Merton was a monk, priest, and prolific spiritual writer. He is also the biggest reason I started writing my own thoughts. I say that with all due respect for my granddaughter who has also been a major influence. Merton lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani which is the same monastery where I lived as a young man although we were not there at the same time. He spent the last few years of his life as a hermit living in the woods near the monastery. I have spent a couple of weekends in this hermitage and they were profound experiences for me. I don’t know about the rest of you but I believe I totally get the message in this quote. I think the basic message here, and one I need to hear on a regular basis, is to stop trying so hard to be spiritual, deep, and profound. Wear your pants, live your life, and feel the wind. O yes, don’t forget to breathe. All of life is spiritual so you don’t have to do spiritual things to make life sacred. Life is sacred and spiritual all by itself. Of course, spiritual practices and beliefs are fine too and they can enhance your experience of life.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Have The Day You Are Going To Have

I have a friend named Christy who is helping with the editing of my book. Yesterday she was dropping her son Jack off at school and said to him, “Have a great day”! Her son replied, “That’s a lot of pressure, Mom. Why don’t you just say, ‘Have the day you’re going to have”. I believe my friend’s son is a Zen Master in the making. One definition of Zen could be to “have the day you’re going to have”. Whenever people ask me to explain Zen I say that it’s being where you are and doing what you’re doing. The heart of this definition is about being present to the moment and your experience of the moment. If you are present to the moment and the experience of the moment you will have the day you were meant to have. Young Jack is deeper than he probably realizes that he is. I think his mother probably senses this because I have been teaching her about Zen since we met and she has a more enlightened view of life now. I hope she doesn’t mind my evaluation of her progress. I have long believed that children can be our greatest teachers. I am much more enlightened because of my granddaughter. I think she is a Zen Master too. This view of life comes naturally to children. Unfortunately we often lose it as adults and then we must struggle to regain it. I struggle to be in the moment and to “have the day I am going to have” while such presence is effortless for my friend’s son and my granddaughter. We are born with much that we lose along the journey of life. When we realize this we must spend the rest of our lives trying to get it back.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Empty Mind

I am sitting here with an empty mind. Most days I drive to work with several ideas in my head about what my daily thoughts will be that day. Today I arrived here with no ideas and at this very moment I have no idea how this paragraph will end. I should be happy about my emptiness. Most unhappiness comes from our minds and the endless thoughts and fears that circulate within it. The goal of much meditation is to empty our minds and free us from our fears and worries. However, in this age of over stimulation and data overload, my empty mind scares me a little. I’m sure I should be thinking about something, like what I need to do when I finish this rambling. Emptiness might be as scary as overload. All of us want to reduce or eliminate stress in our lives, we want to be happy, and we want to avoid pain. At the same time we are often uneasy when we are too happy. We want to enjoy it but in the middle of it we fear it’s loss. Maybe the secret is to find some balance between emptiness and fullness. Along with an acceptable level of stress and thinking, we need to have an acceptable level of happiness and non-thinking. As soon as I hit the send button on these thoughts I am sure the needs of the day will kick it and the current emptiness of my mind will become full of the demands of the day. When all is empty and calm, enjoy the moment. Life is right behind it and the demands of living will knock on your door.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Spring Is Finally Here!

I think it is finally spring.  This really hit home on my drive home last night when I noticed the white blooms on the dogwood tress and the bright yellow flowers of the forsythia bushes.  I noticed the blooming daffodils weeks ago along the highway but at the time winter was still hanging on.  Another sure sign of spring for me is the birdsong I hear in the mornings as I struggle to get out of bed and begin my day.  Although I think all the seasons have their own beauty, spring is always a welcome sight after a long winter.  Sometimes in the waning days of winter I think I suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  The lack of sunlight affects my mood after a while.  When spring finally appears I feel a sense of renewal.  The colors of the new growth, especially flowers, makes me feel more alive and grateful.  I am also renewed by the continuous cycle of nature from the new birth of spring, the fullness of summer, the harvest of autumn, and the long sleep of winter.  The dependability of the change of seasons fills me with hope.  Today may actually feel a little like summer by the end of the day.  The forecast predicts temperatures in the low 80’s.  This will bring about another annual rite in my home.  I predict that when I get home today my wife will want to turn on the air conditioning.  I, of course, will be resistant because I like to have open windows as much as possible.  Plus, I am not in menopause.     

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Old Friends

This past Friday I got out of bed in the early morning in acticipation of a day off from work.  Such days fill me with joy.  I do not hate my job or where I work.  The joy comes from a love of personal freedom.  I dropped my wife off at her office and then proceeded up the ramp to Interstate 65 South.  The early morning rush hour in the downtown area is usually maddening and intense but this particular morning the traffic seemed light and I wondered where everyone was.  I love the feeling of getting farther and farther away from the city.  You can literally feel the stress and tension leaving your body.  Jamming to Indian music and anticipating the sunrise I quickly got into a pleasant groove and I headed for the home of my friend, Fr. Dennis.  Soon I was off the interstate and enjoying the rural highways, lost in my thoughts, and feeling good.  When I finally got to the road where the monastery is located and where Dennis lives, the sun was shining on the still frosted fields and hills.  It was quite lovely and the timing was perfect as the song "Here Comes The Sun" by the Beatles played in my car.  Soon after arriving at Dennis's home we went to a newly discovered bakery in Bardstown where I bought a cheese danish and raspberry filled donut.  I was full of guilt as I knew in my mind that such delicacies should never touch my lips.  The guilt was quickly overcome as I consumed them with fresh coffee.  Most of the day, including the time spent having lunch at a small Mom and Pop restaurant, was spent in engaging conversation about aging, shared memories, and the wonder of the journey of life.  I left in mid-afternoon to pick up my wife and go in search of a First Communion dress for my granddaughter.  The drive home from Dennis's is never as enjoyable as the drive there.  Driving away from Louisville one can feel the stresses and tension of life falling away.  Returning home and going from the slower pace of a small town to the hustle bustle of a fairly large city, one can feel the stress and tension of life coming back.  I am grateful I can experience these occasional slices of freedom where I can do whatever I want.  Someday, and that day is not too far off, everyday will be like this.  Friendships and days off are wonderful.  Cheese Danish and jelly filled donuts aren't too bad either.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Do It For The Joy

In whatever you so, don’t expect to get anything back, don’t expect recognition for your efforts, don’t expect your genius to be discovered or your love to be understood. Do it for the joy of doing it, or otherwise it is just another ego trip.

I read the above quote this morning and it really hit home. Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel unappreciated or taken for granted. I know that sometimes I wonder why I even make the effort to write these daily thoughts. I put a lot of thought and effort into them and I share them with many people in a variety of ways. Most days, however, I get no response or feedback of any kind from anyone. My ego wants everyone to tell me they’re great and that I’ve changed their life. On my best days, however, I try to think of my writings as seeds that I plant which I will most likely never see grow. Most of us are good people who try to do good things for others and who generally care about others. We give our best and do what we can and much of it goes unnoticed or seems unappreciated. Sooner or later we realize that we must do what we do simply because it gives us joy or because it is the right thing to do even if we never get any credit, recognition, or appreciation. Ego is a big thing in our lives. The desire to be loved and appreciated is equally huge. Hopefully, we do feel loved and appreciated most of the time whether it be from family, co-workers, friends, or strangers. Follow your bliss and all that gives you joy. As St. Augustine once said, way back in the 5th century, “Love and do what you will”. Do good works and even if there is no immediate gratification, I believe your goodness will come back to you.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Ant Farm Of Life

Yesterday morning, soon after arriving at work, I was looking out the window. I was kind of lost in the moment because the sun was rising and it was a beautiful day. When I look out the window in my work area, I can see the river, the highways, and the bridges that link Kentucky and southern Indiana. In the early morning hours of a workday there are literally thousands of cars and trucks speeding up and down the road and across the bridges. At a slower pace are the barges pushing loads of coal or other products down the river. While I was observing all of this I couldn’t help but think how it all reminded me of an ant farm. There was so much activity and so many people coming and going. Sometimes I think of all these people and I wonder who they are and where they are going. I can imagine myself standing on one of the barges as it goes down the river or sitting on one of the benches in Waterfront park having my morning coffee. I know all of these people are really just like me. They are going about their daily business, mostly going to work, but some are just driving through on their way to some distant place, or for a lucky few, going on vacation. This picture outside my window, this ant farm of life, is a microcosm of the lives most people have every day. Life is full of movement and energy. We are all part of it. All of this activity is what keeps the world going. There is certainly a part of life that should be reserved for being and thinking and wondering. However, it is also important for life that we act, plan, and do things. We get out of our beds, thankful for another day, and we rise to the challenge of meeting its demands. When the day is done, and our work is complete, we go home to rest, quiet our minds, and be grateful for the blessings of the day.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Place You Can Only Visit Once

Time is like a place you can only visit once. I can look back on a day of my life or a period of time much like I might daydream about a great vacation I once had. Time, like a vacation or other experience, can rarely be duplicated. Nothing new is ever quite the same as something past. I know because I have tried to re-create wonderful experiences and they were never the same as the original experience. Of course, this can also be comforting when we have bad experiences. I’m sure all of us have had times where we think, “I hope I never have to go through that again”. Knowing this I always try to be in the moment and to either enjoy it or endure it. When life is good, and I’m having a pleasant experience, I often say to myself, “Enjoy this moment”. When life is a struggle, or I am going through sometime painful, I usually say to myself, “This too shall pass”. Time and life is like a river. Sometimes we just float along and enjoy the ride but occasionally the current is strong and it’s difficult to control.  It may even be a little scary.  The older I get the more I realize that time is a gift that should not be wasted. There is much in my rear view mirror. Most of it was pleasant but like many people, there were experiences I would not want to relive. The river of time is still flowing for me, and I look forward to where it may lead me, but rivers don’t flow backwards. Wherever you are in your time journey, enjoy the view and the ride.

The Familiar

After two weeks in the body shop, I got my car back last Friday. What first appeared to be a minor fender bender ended up costing approximately $2,500 to fix.  This is why I write a check to State Farm Insurance every month. During the two weeks that my car was in the shop I had a very nice, almost new, rental car. I was nervous the whole time I was driving this car worrying that someone would run into me or I would run into them. Sure enough, the last morning I drove the car to work, someone came within inches of merging into me out on the interstate. Before I could even react, they realized I was in their blind spot and they corrected their error. I immediately said a silent prayer. When I finally turned the car back in and I picked up my car, I was relieved. Getting back into my car I realized how much I like the familiar and the comfortable. Every time I drive a car other than my own everything is opposite. The controls and gas take are on different sides of the car. Instinctually I go for the side I am used to but quickly realize everything is different. Beyond cars, I must admit that I like familiar things in all of my life whether it be restaurants or routines. I am a creature of habit and routine. I like to know what to expect and most of the time I don’t like surprises. I suppose this sounds boring to some people but it’s the way I am wired. I take comfort in my routines and doing things the same way. In my defense, I can change and adapt when needed and sometimes I do it intentionally for my own good. The routine and the familiar, however, are part of how I try to live a simple life. I certainly do not seek out the complicated. You can call it a simple life or taking the path of least resistance. However, you name it, I like it. Driving my normal car this morning I quickly pulled up on the correct side of the gas pump. With the rental car I always had to check myself.