Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Parents

One week from today my parents will be married for 59 years. They were married on June 18th, 1949. Approximately one year later I was conceived. Nine months after that, in the spring of 1951 I was born and their whole world changed. I found myself thinking about this yesterday as I waited in my car for my wife to finish her work day. We often think about our birthdays but most people never think about the time of their conception or what was happening in their parent's life. My mother is now 78 years old and my father is 83. When they got married my mother was approximately 19 years old and my father was 24. I wonder what their first year of marriage was like? They had a year together before I was born. Was it a good year? Were they happy? How did their life change when I came on the scene? Where did we live? What job did my father have? There wasn't much to do in 1951 or so it seems now. What did they do for fun? Where did they go when they needed to get out of the house? What did they think of me? Was I a good baby? Did I cry a lot? How many sleepless nights did they have? Did everyone say, "He sure looks like his father"! I certainly do now and more and more I realize how much I am my father's son. These are the kind of questions children should probably ask their parents while they are still alive. I wonder if my children ever wonder what kind of life my wife and I had before they came into the world?

One of my friends once made a comment to me saying, "I hope the popularity of your daily thoughts doesn't play to your ego". What would we do without our egos constantly challenging us? It is difficult to have no ego. Most spirituality, regardless of the tradition, has teachings about the ego. Buddhists strive for nothingness and an empty mind while Christians strive to die to self in order to put God and others first. Just think of the term "selflessness". It is an easy word to understand. It simply means less of the self. How many of us put ourselves last.....willingly....on a daily basis? The average person is good and does not want to hurt others but they still often put themselves first. We have a tendency towards selfishness. We like ourselves and we often like the glorification of ourselves. We love praise and adulation. I enjoy compliments and I have received more personal compliments since writing these daily thoughts than ever before in my life. It's nice to receive them but one must be careful not to believe all the hype about oneself. I think in the world of celebrities many have met their downfall by believing their own press releases. Some people have been very impressed with the things I say and the way I write. They send me emails telling me so. There is always the temptation to believe that maybe I really am wise and as great as some believe. This temptation is usually squashed when I go home every night. My joke about this is that a prophet is never accepted in his own country...or home. At home I am just Dad or Pa Paw. I'm the guy who can be annoying and who occasionally does what my family calls "flailing". I am the guy getting yelled at by my wife for playing music too loud or for picking movies that everyone else thinks are boring. We should not have big egos about anything. If you have a talent for anything, it is a gift to you for others. You are not necessarily a great person because you have a great gift. Some of the most artistic people in the world are jerks. I believe we all have gifts even if we are not aware of them yet. We are all here for a reason. Sooner or later our gift and our reason for being will be clear to us. I am not a person of many gifts but I do think I have a gift for writing. This gift, however, has only surfaced in recent years. I like having this gift and it pleases me that others enjoy it. When I sometimes write things that impress others I wonder where it came from. My fingers move on my keyboard and thoughts fall out of my head. Most of these thoughts I did not realize were in there. I suppose that my talent for writing, like the gifts of so many other people, have been lying dormant waiting for the right time to reveal themselves. Does the earth have an ego because it produces a flower? No more than we should for producing anything that is good. Be open to the Spirit within you and let your gifts break through the soil of your being and produce joy for others.

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