Month: July 2015

I Got This

Sometimes, when we believe we have everything under control, we realize we don’t. When we were very young, my sisters and I took baths at the same time. (One bathroom for seven people required some scheduling of the tub.) The tub was one on legs, with a nice slope on one end. As water drained out, and I was still in the tub, it seemed like a good idea to use it as a water slide. It went well, until I slipped the wrong way off the back of the tub. There was a small ceramic gas heater on the floor.

For about one second, my wet skin told me I was fine, and was saved by the heater from hitting the floor. After that second, though, things changed. I felt the heat, screamed, and so did my sisters. With all the screaming, our dad rushed in and pulled me off.

My next memory is one of embarrassment. The other six members of our family, including my young teenage brothers (I’m positive one had an amused look and was smiling slightly) watching my mother tending to my red bottom.

Thus, my belief I was in control change immediately, and suddenly knew I was in a bad spot. We all have experienced such times. I don’t believe I ever used the tub for a water slide again. My steaming bottom seared into my memory, and I learned from it. A trustworthy person will admit when things are not right, make it so, and learn whatever lesson comes.

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Early

What happens as each day progresses? Various events and demands tend to take our time and keep us busy. There is little time to reflect on those things and most important.

Some of our daily activities are valuable to us and others; others are essential to our well-being; still others are worth nothing. The latter tend to steal our time and our energy.

Is it possible to skip the thieves, and dedicate ourselves to the permanent things? I believe it is, if we have the presence of mind not to be absent-mindedly obsessed with the daily activites of others (social media).

The way to do this is to start at the beginning of the day, before anything else begins. If we begin before most people, they won’t interfere with our initial time that can set the tone for our day. Sometimes I do this better than others. Developing the early habit will be well worth getting out of bed.

Words?

Sometimes we just have to act. Words are great, but can be like tools that break in our hands. Obviously, I don’t dislike words. Without them, you would have no idea what I’m thinking, and you might be doing something more valuable. Yet, here we are, using words again.

I really admire those who do less talking and more doing. My tractor speaks much better than I can. You can actually see what the driveway looks like after it and the box blade do their magic. The words on the instructions and the blue color of the tractor mean little compared to the results it can bring.

Please don’t feel obligated to fill the air with words. Just let things be. We can do little to change the world, but we do much to be with someone who needs our physical presence. This is from the guy who only got into trouble at school by talking too much and at the wrong time. I wish I could try that again. Maybe I’d be better at it this time.

Looking Ahead

There is something about the past that either gives us fond memories or haunts us with regrets and thinking what might have been. While it doesn’t make much sense to allow the latter, emotionally we do so too often.

What do we learn from bad experiences or bad things we have done? We learn about ourselves. We learn we are not always at our best and we are capable of allowing a dark side of us to surface. This is never comfortable or enjoyable. But we can use them to our advantage by knowing where we are weak, and apply strong boundaries to these areas.

The better thing to do is enjoy the moment we are in, and look forward to what’s next. Changes will occur, and we will adjust to them either well or not well. Either way, it’s our decision, and we will live with it. I choose to see what tomorrow holds, and remember who hold tomorrow.

Dogs Are the New People

Things are changing. As my son’s basset hound interrupted me writing this, it reminded me way back when pets were pets. Not that they were a less loved or cared for, but we didn’t bury them in cemeteries, allow them to rule our lives, or give them things we never dreamed of giving our children.

As I was trying to empathize with this trend, and put together in my mind why things have developed this way, I came up with a theory. People have turned to pets because other people have become animals. What’s more, the animals people have become are not of the pet variety, but of the wild variety. They are driven not by reason or thoughts, but by instinct. If it feels like they should do something, they do it, regardless of any consequences.

Pets are usually predictable, and we enjoy having them around. But the wild kind are not predictable (at least in our world) and must be treated so. Why do people continue to feed wild bears after being warned they are wild bears? In the wild, they go get food; in your car they do the same. They only thing they have learned is that those moving machines have dumb two-legged animals who have food. They don’t care if someone gets hurt, as long as they get what they want right now.

Have we seen people act this way? We have seen it too many times.The problem is, they roam our streets and neighborhoods. I suppose we need to come up with a new term for the people who are acting like wild dogs. I suggest ferel people. They are not totally wild, but are not fit to be in civilized company.  We’ll see if the term catches on.

Life Changes

Recently at a reunion I saw a man I had seen all my growing up years. He was simply a fixture in our town, not really a bad guy, but not really a good friend either. He simply was.  Last year, I noticed something different about him. He asked about me, my family, my brothers and sisters, and my health. He had never done that before. He did the same thing this year. This is much different than I had ever seen or expected of him.

My perspective about him changed totally. I learned he had had a stroke prior to last year’s reunion, and apparently had another one since. He seemed to be functioning pretty well, but responses were slower and he still didn’t have full use of one arm. I know such things as strokes and heart problems changes a person’s emotions, but his “attention” to me was at the same time startling and pleasant. Is this who he really is, or was the other guy I knew the real man?

I have a feeling that life emergencies and challenges bring about an uncovering of what we always knew we were, but had hidden from others for various reasons. Suddenly, we are not in control of things as we like others to think, and it has an affect on us. But does it cause us to care? Maybe that is the blessing in such challenges. Maybe we need to find our real selves, and quit whatever façade we once created. I am consistently amazed at the difference between adolescence and adulthood, and the difference between adulthood and middle age. I suppose the important things become more prominent in our thinking, and maybe we realize we need all the friends we can get.

Why?

A human problem is that we will always have more questions than answers. The need to know has been a human need since creation. We always want to know why, and then more. It’s more than just curiosity; it’s the deep-seated, driving urge to find out. It is both a blessing and a curse. The drive has uncovered thousands of scientific discoveries, and provided cures for disease, etc.

On the other hand, if we don’t find the answers, we tend to create them. When there are gaps, we have the strong need to fill them in with something that makes sense to us, and that becomes the answer. We have done this when a crime has been committed, when a phrase is spoken, when one second of video is shown (without the rest), and when anything happens we cannot immediately explain.

This has become like a disease, and it needs to stop. What happened is what happened, regardless of what we think happened. With some patience, we can reserve judgment until some facts are developed. Still, there will be other times when we simply do not know the answers. So, we will always have more questions than answers. Can we be okay with that? I hope so, because we will never change that fact.

Trusted Relationships

One of the joys of this life is to reconnect with those we once trusted for everything we have and are and be reminded they are still who we knew them to be. We can still trust them.

One difference in people is that when hard times in life come, or various other influences, some become somone else. Perhaps we never knew them as we thought, but we know they are different. The ones we did know, though, give us the security and peace of mind that they will still hold our deepest secrets, our most valuable property, and our entire past and present as a trust to be guarded.

For the most part this all goes unsaid, and maybe that’s the best part. It doesn’t need to be said. It’s simply understood. I find myself looking into the face of that life-long friend and asking, “Is it still you”? I get that look that tells me they are still them. For a few moments, all is well. The “kids” we once were still exist, and even as adults with many miles behind us, we still know.

The Deep End

Does it seem like things are out of control? It could be because they are. Emotions rule many decisions on a national and state level. To be sure, most people are still thoughtful and take enough time to consider the facts before deciding to take down, move, dig up, censure, and act as if we just noticed it. We cannot relegate a civil war to something other than what it was. Those old history books just keep popping up. There aren’t enough fires to burn them all.

The Civil War happened. We didn’t live through it. Our forebears did. Hardly a family in this country remained untouched in a personal way, whether life, property, livelihood, or the general scars of a fight no one wanted. Erasing all the signs of a war is almost a guarantee it will happen again. Why is the holocaust museum valuable? So we won’t allow the same thing to happen to a group of people again.

Perhaps it has not occurred to those who demand things be changed immediately that they will hear objections in the same tone and intensity. If the demands are strong and loud, so will be the objections. The physics law applies: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. What we need is responses, not reactions. A few days is hardly time to respond. Being offended has become the national pastime, and the competition is fierce. Even normally level-headed people are caught up in it. From one day to the next, a flag or statue that has flown or stood for decades is suddenly a bad thing and must be removed. Oh, if the government red tape could vanish so quickly more often!

If we have not learned to think before acting, we will find ourselves forgetting that a battle flag was used in battle. I would think remembering that would be a good way to remind ourselves people died under that flag, and re-commit ourselves to avoiding such a conflict. Maybe we will.

Welcoming Challenges

It is comfortable for us make our way through every day with few, if any, challenges to our lives. That way our best laid plans are undisturbed and there are no bumps in the road we cannot handle.

Yet, we know from experience that challenges will come, and they won’t stop coming until we move on from this life. I never enjoy the challenges, which at times feel an awful lot like conflicts, but it’s the only time I really learn anything. I learn about me and what I believe as well as about others and what they believe. Though I would rather avoid such differences, it does give me a chance to verify once again whether I really believe what I think I do. Questioning is okay. Defending is worth doing.

The back-and-forth exchanges are always more productive if I can hear content rather than emotion and attitude. Then, I’m able to respond rather than react. I’ve done more of it lately than I have in a long time. It’s a good test, and a good exercise in weeding out what I lack in thinking and believing. I can also confirm once again those foundations on which I thought I stood.