Friday, January 09, 2015

This Week's Thoughts

I suspect that most of you felt like my wife and me this past Monday.  You were on a bummer.  The holidays were over, it was Monday, and we’re back to our normal routine of working 5-6 days a week.  On top of this winter is making a strong comeback this week, it’s very cold and dark, and we have a long haul till Derby Day and the next holiday.  However, I also kind of like this time of year when life slows down, we can retreat into our homes or ourselves, and we can hibernate with a good book or favorite movie.  Winter can also be a time of rest.  This past weekend my wife and I took down all our Christmas decorations and packed them away one more time.  It is wonderful for my home to be back to normal.  When you take down your Christmas tree it is like you suddenly have twice the space.  However you feel this morning, this is also a good time of year to be extra kind.  The combination of the holidays being over and winter arriving can be challenging.  We are all in this together so let’s work together to make our transition back to reality a smooth one.  
In the busyness of the holidays I sometime forgot to breathe.  Life is back to its usual routines so I can now breathe again at a normal rate.  For better or worse I am a creature of habit and routine.  I try to be conscious in my routines but admittedly I sometimes do them on auto-pilot.  Paying attention to my breathing helps me to be conscious of my activities.  I look forward to the coming weeks of nothingness so I can slow down and once again remember to breathe.  Some of you are thinking, “What’s his deal with breathing”?  Well, our breath is our life.  When was the last time you actually noticed you were breathing?  My guess is that most of you only think about breathing when you can’t do it.  Think about the last time you had a cold or your allergies were bothering you.  I bet you thought, “I wish I could breathe”!  Not only is your breathing a sign that you are alive, it is also a metaphor for being spiritually awake and one with life.  Do not take breathing for granted.  Sometime today, when you have a quiet moment, stop what you are doing and simply be present to your breathing.  Breathe in through your nose and think, “I am one with all of life”.  Exhale through your mouth and think, “All of life is one with me”.  People have often asked me how to meditate.  This is a very simple way.  If you want to be more spiritual, simply change the words to something that is spiritually meaningful to you.  Paying attention to your breathing is also an excellent way to become calm if you are feeling a little frazzled and it can be a way to enhance your well-being.       
Security is mostly superstition.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
-Helen Keller
Keep in mind that the above quote is from a woman who was deaf, blind, and unable to speak.  When I think of that I must wonder what excuse the rest of us have for not living more daring lives.  I am not as adventurous as I would like to be.  It is not in my nature to be daring or a risk taker.  I am way too cautious in my life.  It is an ingrained part of my personality to take the path of least resistance.  After seeing the last installment of “The Hobbit” recently with my granddaughter, Chloe, I realized that I have many of the characteristics of a Hobbit.  I prefer to sit in my Hobbit house, next to a fire, with a good book, hot coffee, and all my other creature comforts.  Life in the Shire suits me fine.  Age may turn many of us into Hobbits.  If I do take risks it is most likely in my thinking instead of my actions.  If Gandalf and a band of Dwarfs showed up at my door urging me to join them on “An Unexpected Journey”, I would most likely be as resistant as Bilbo Baggins.  I have a co-worker with the same basic personality as me.  We sometimes lament certain parts of our personalities that make us who we are.  However, I try not to use who I am as an excuse for not being who I could be.  I probably do not challenge myself enough and I doubt that I am alone.  Although there is nothing wrong with being a Hobbit, it is not always a good thing to take the path of least resistance and to always avoid danger or risk.  A passionate life, whether it be a deeply intellectual life, or one with the daring of Dwarfs and Wizards on a great adventure to Middle Earth, cannot be lived in total safety and comfort.     
Train your will to concentrate on a limited objective.  When young, your spread your effort over too many things.  If your try fails, what does it matter?  All life is a failure in the end.  The thing is to get sport out of trying.
-Sir Francis Chichester (after sailing around the world at age 71)
I must admit that most of the dreams of my youth have never come to fruition.  Much of my life has seemed like an accident.  How did a 60’s hippie who once lived in a monastery end up at Humana?  This doesn’t mean that everything has turned out badly.  It just means that my life hasn’t exactly been a well-executed project plan.  Many lives are like mine in the sense that people often end up in places they never planned to go.  Did I want too many things when I was young and did I spread my efforts too thinly?  Perhaps.  Much of my life I didn’t know what I really wanted or what I might be good at doing.  I was the person at age fifty who wondered, “What do I want to be when I grow up”?  Are all the unfulfilled dreams failures?  I think not.  I’ve had some grand adventures along the journey of life and I think I will have more.  In many ways I believe I am on the brink of realizing my own true purpose and I feel I am on the verge of some kind of personal break through.  My fifties and now my sixties have been a time of great personal enlightenment.  Although I still get annoyed with some of my behavior, I am no longer a mystery to myself.  I know who I am and my reason for being is becoming clearer to me.  We don’t always get to be what we want to be but we usually end up being who we are meant to be.  I am not sure I will be sailing around the world when I am 71 years old like Sir Francis but I will leave my mark in some way.  None of us are here just to take up space.    

No comments: