Friday, February 18, 2011

Random Thoughts Volume XIX

After many days of cold and snowy weather last weekend's sunny and spring like weather was a welcome change. The sunshine and relative warmth was invigorating. Much of last weekend was spent trying to outsmart the squirrels in my backyard. I recently bought a bird feeder and it's like a magnet for squirrels. Even when I put food out specifically for the squirrels they are intent on eating of all their food and then all of the bird's food. I now have the fattest squirrels in the neighborhood. However, they are also highly motivated. I watched from my kitchen window as one shimmied up the pole that holds the bird feeder. If you put a little hard hat on him he would have looked like a telephone man climbing up a telephone pole.

Yesterday, after a morning wandering through Excel spreadsheets, I decided I needed a walk outside. It was a beautiful day although there was still a chill in the air. While walking around I had a great idea for today's thought. Unfortunately I can no longer remember it. These senior moments are increasing at an alarming rate. When I am sitting in my backyard watching the squirrels run along the top of my fence I don't care about senior moments. Unfortunately here at work there are no squirrels except for the ones running around inside my head. During the work day my senior moments are often balanced with brain overload. The increase of senior moments is interesting to me because I think I am at the peak of my intellectual abilities at this time of my life. Although my mind seems to occasionally take a walk outside on it's own, when it is present with the rest of me it really works well! This is why my wife and I don't talk too much in the evenings. By the time we get home from work we are so brain dead that any remaining brain power is focused on maintaining life supports systems like breathing and keeping our hearts beating.

Most people know that my youngest son attends the seminary and is studying to be a priest. This is a little amusing to me because most of my childhood I wanted to be a priest too and I even attended the seminary for a few years in my youth. I never encouraged my son to do this, at least not with words. When he told me of his desire no one was more surprised than me with the possible exception of his mother. If he stays on track he will be ordained in about 2 1/2 years. He's currently working on his Master's Degree. One of his classes this semester is called "Homiletics". This is a Catholic term for "Learning how to preach". Yesterday he had to preach for the first time in front of his class. The previous evening he sent me a copy of his "sermon". I actually thought it was very good. It was well written and nicely done. You never know what your children will turn out to be. I used to take Nick to wrestling matches to see Hulk Hogan and other wrestling superstars. Then I took him to rock concerts to see bands like Metallica and Smashing Pumpkins. As a teenager he eventually dumped me so he could attend Marilyn Manson and Insane Clown Posse concerts with his friends. I am very happy he did that because I think both of these bands suck. Anyway, you can only do your best as a parent and hope everything turns out OK. You never know what God or life has in store for them. Actually you never know what God or life has in store for you. I wanted to be a priest my entire childhood and now I'm going to be the father of a priest.

I love books. Because of my love of books I am a little sad to hear that Border's Books, one of my favorite stores, has filed for bankruptcy. To make it even worse, they are closing the two stores that I regularly visit. The economy and the proliferation of such things as Amazon's electronic Kindle have been devastating to stores that sell real books. I am old fashioned when it comes to books. I like the look and the smell and the feel of a real book. My house of full of books. There's at least one on every table next to whatever chair I sit in. Right now I have a serious book that I read in the mornings before I come to work and a lighter, easier read for the evenings. Sometimes people ask me things like "How did you get to be so smart"? or "How did you learn to write so well"? The short answer is that I've read hundreds, maybe thousands of books in my lifetime. As one of my favorite musicians, Robert Fripp, once said, "Me and a book is a party. Me and a book and a cup of coffee is an orgy".

I wish I was home reading a book right now.....

How do we get the most out of life? Some people seem to live large and exciting lives and we often envy them. What about us regular folks? I'm talking about salt of the earth type people who get out of bed everyday, get their kids ready for school or the daycare, drop them off, go to work, and then come home to cook dinner and help with homework. I am also talking about people like me who have done all of the above and now find their life much quieter but a little emptier too. I know I sound like a broken record sometimes but I think the answer is relatively simple. The way to happiness is to recognize and enjoy the simple things in life and to always be grateful when something goes your way or something good comes your way. I think gratefulness is the key to happiness. Happiness is not always getting what you want or having everything go your way. I find myself often whispering the words "thank you". Who am I thanking? God, life, karma, and people. If I wake up in the night and realize I have four hours until my alarm goes off, I whisper "thank you" and go back to sleep. If I get a green light when I am in a hurry, or even when I am not, I whisper "thank you". If it snows, or it's sunny and 70 degrees, I whisper "thank you". If another person does something kind or thoughtful for me, I say "thank you". I am also grateful for all the bad stuff that doesn't happen to me. When I see pain and suffering in other people or on the evening news, I whisper "thank you" because it is not happening to me. When I do have pain or suffering I whisper "thank you" and am grateful it is not worse.

Father Matthew Kelty, a monk of Gethsemani, died today at age 95. He was a wonderful monk and inspiration to many. For many years he did poetry readings and talks after the monk's evening prayer called Compline. He touched many lives with his holiness.

1 comment:

steve t said...

Thanks, Mike, for your thoughts. Being grateful is truly the practice of loving. Last evening I was taken to dinner by my friend Shelly. We went to Palermos and had a lovely meal and tremendous conversations. And throughout the entire evening I was whispering "thank you."