Saturday, August 12, 2017

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. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Generations

Along with psychology and personality types, I like to understand the different generations, specifically their views of life.  Recently I read an article about who tends to carry the burden of responsibility in the workplace.  The author believes the Gen X generation is now the driving force in the work place.  What defines the different generations?  It is basically defined by when you were born.  Here is a breakdown of the current generations.  I have seen variations on this but these are the most common delineations.
 
The Silent Generation-People born before 1945.
 
Baby Boomers-People born between 1946 and 1964.
 
Generation X-People born between 1965 and 1976.
 
Millennials-People born between 1977 and 1995.
 
Generation Z-People born between 1996 – 2010.  This would be my teenage granddaughter and her generation. 
 
I cannot dive deep into each generation.  Focusing on the article I read, here’s a few thoughts.  Millennials are the 20-40 Year olds.  Gen Xer’s are the 40-50 year olds  Baby Boomers are the 50-70 year olds.  Millennials are often seen as being a little clueless about the harsh realities of life.  Their parents may have told them they could do anything.  They are sometimes finding out they can’t despite what their parents told them.  Gen Xer’s are deep into adulthood.  Being an adult is hard.  They are raising families and building careers.  This is a very stressful time of life.  The Baby Boomers are coming to the end of their careers, their children are grown up, and they are faced with the reality that they are running out of time.  I am a Baby Boomer so I get it.  The gist of the article was that in the work place the Millennials are often perceived as clueless and the Baby Boomers are seen as over it and checked out so the Gen Xer’s must shoulder most of the responsibility.  Of course these are generalizations and don’t apply to every individual, but they are also somewhat true.  One final thought that I find interesting.  Most of my rock and roll heroes are not really Baby Boomers.  They are actually part of the “Silent Generation”.  Tell that to the Rolling Stones!  They are all in their 70’s now and still rocking and rolling all over the world.         

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Life Isn't Always As It Appears

I suffer from ‘Room B’ syndrome.  I always think other people are having a better time than me.  Social media has made this worse.  When comparing yourself to others, you rarely come out favorably”.
-Cherry Healey
 
I am a student of psychology, especially the study of personality types and specifically my own personality.  After many years I have come to realize that one of my flaws is envy.  I found this hard to accept at first because I tend to be a grateful person and I know I am blessed in many ways.  However, if I am completely honest I would have to admit that I am sometimes envious of others.  This gets tricky.  I am not envious of what I see in others.  I tend to be envious about what I imagine others have.  It is not their cars or houses or wealth that I envy.  It is the happiness and contentment I imagine they have that I wish I had for myself.  Let’s be honest.  All people have some kind of emptiness that they spend much of their life trying to fill.  It may take many years for an individual to know the cause of the emptiness they feel.  Although I was never homeless and I never went hungry, I realize now I was kind of poor compared to the way I live now.  It always seemed that other kids and other families had a better life.  In addition, my parents focused more on the physical needs of their children, i.e., food, a bed, clothes, and a roof, than on the emotional needs of their children.  I realize now this was a generational trait because my parent’s grew up during the Great Depression and World War II.  Additionally, as the oldest of six children, I quickly felt part of the background as younger siblings began to appear.  I don’t want to give the impression that I had a horrible childhood.  I never suffered, many other people had similar lives, and I also had many happy moments.  My point is that the needs of our adulthood are formed in our childhood.  When you feel like much is lacking, much is wanted.  I am not sure exactly why some tend to think everyone else has what they feel lacking.  When you feel envious of the life you imagine others have, remember that there is much about their lives of which you are unaware.  Many people are not as happy as they might look.  Many people’s relationships are not as perfect as they may appear.  That comfortable life may be the result of maxed out credit cards and multiple bank loans.  Every person, one way or another, is trying to fill a need and an emptiness.  On the positive side all of this can form us to be the good people that most of us are.  When you understand your own needs and pain, you can be more compassionate towards the needs and pain of others.