Friday, December 03, 2010

Random Thoughts Volume IX

Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today.
-Mark Twain

There is an order to the universe that I find very comforting. I can depend on the rising and the setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons. On the other hand, I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "The only thing you can depend on is death and taxes". However, within the framework of the truly dependable, and the many things we can predict with reasonable accuracy, there are many, many things that we do not see coming. Sometimes they are good things and sometimes they are bad things. Sometimes they are neither and they are just things that happen. One time I found a $50 bill lying on the sidewalk. Another time I was knocked unconscious in a car accident that I never saw coming. Occasionally I have been "surprised by joy" with no warning or reason. Buddha says that all things are impermanent. The downside of that is that all good things will come to an end eventually. The upside of that is that bad things do not last forever either. Each day is full of new possibilities. Yes, I know that sounds like a cliche but it is true. As an aging hippie I am a believer in good vibes and karma. I believe that sooner or later you will get what you deserve. If you put out good vibes, good things will come your way eventually. If you are constantly negative or hostile, I believe you will eventually experience negativity and hostility. All things are possible but much of what happens to us we bring to ourselves. What do you want to happen today?

My wife recently bought a book titled "The Elf on the Shelf". It is a children's Christmas book and it comes with a small toy elf. The real elves are all working overtime at the North Pole in preparation for Christmas. The point of the story is that the elf on the shelf was sent by Santa to see if a child is being naughty or nice. The book explains that a child may talk to the elf but can never touch it or the elf will lose it's magic. In addition, the elf will listen to the child but never speak to the child. The fun part for the parents....or moving the elf around the room when the child or grandchild is not around. My wife and I have been doing this and it's making my granddaughter crazy with excitement and wonder. Remember, she already thinks my house is magic. This past weekend we took the elf over to her house when we took her home. When she wasn't looking we put the elf on a shelf in her kitchen. When she saw the elf in her own house she really freaked. It's a wonderful thing to see the joy and excitement on a child's face during this time of year.

Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.
-Ralph Charell

Speaking from my own experience, it seems that when we are young it is very important to feel part of a group. No one wants to be an outsider and we all want to be accepted by those we consider important. As I have gotten older this has become less important to me. The older I get the more independent, and even rebellious, I get. I don't need acceptance from everyone and I am happy to walk my own path. I've never been a control freak and I hate when others try to control me. One of the gifts of aging is that most people acquire a renewed desire to live their own life rather than have it controlled by others. I am not advocating being anti-social. I like people and generally they like me. Friendships and relationships with other people are important to me. What I am saying, and what I think the author of today's quote is saying, is that the goal of your life is to become self-actualized as a person. If you are growing, you are becoming who you are meant to be, and when you are all you can be, you have become self-actualized. This is the highest level of Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" in our psychological growth. It is a life long journey.

In old age nothing is better than a warm fire.
-Native American Saying

I think my age is catching up with me because this quote makes more and more sense to me all the time. When I was young I used to stay out half the night, running the streets, and howling at the moon. The older I get the more I just want to be at home. It is my favorite place to be. Home should be our refuge from the world and all it's demands. If we are fortunate our homes are also havens of peace where we can collect our thoughts and center our minds. I am a very introverted person and I realize more and more that my father's solitary nature is part of who I am. I also lived part of my youth in a monastery where solitude was part of the training. In spite of my solitary nature I am not a real hermit. I have been married for 36 years. My wife, however, is also an introvert. I think we are still married because we have a nice balance of personal solitary time and time together so we don't drive one another crazy, at least not too much. Once my oldest son, during a time in his life when he was out half the night...or all night...and running wild in the streets, challenged my wife and I because we were no longer "out there". He told us we were living boring lives. We responded, "We were out there but now we prefer to be 'in here' (home). Plus, we don't want to be 'out there' because you're 'out there' and we don't want to run into you"! Whether you are introverted or extroverted, sooner or later you will appreciate the "warm fire" that is home.

I'm thinking more and more about less and less.
-Robert Hunter (lyricist for the Grateful Dead)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael. Thanks for the post for today. Admittedly, there are days when the bad vibes just seem to come without hesitation, and the good ones seem to come less and less- that is on both the sending and receiving end. It seems as if today was the perfect day for this thought, as it is a reminder for me to always consider how I respond to others, especially when there is hostility or negativity around me, whether it's coming from me or someone else. In light of that, as a young person, I'm learning more with each day how easy it is to allow that negativity to manifest in the worst of ways and create such a negative vibe it seems almost impossible to shake. The past few years for me have been a tremendous experience, teaching me patience, discipline, punishment (when the negative vibes come from me and return right back), and how to treat others better, even when it isn't always recieved well. I don't know if I'm doing a great job, but I'm trying each day. And yes, each day brings with it new possibilities, something that should give anyone hope- I know it does for me. Each day to me seems as an opportunity to be a blessing to someone else you didn't know, reconcile any wrongs with others, do something extraordinary, and love those in your life endlessly. Well, at least, that's what I'm thinking. And, Chloe has grown up so much! I'm sure she does think your home is magical.