Friday, April 08, 2011

Ramblings In My Mind Volume I

I've posted twenty five volumes of "Random Thoughts". It's time for a new title so I'm slightly changing the name of a classic blues song called "Rambling on my Mind". Until I come up with something better these weekly thoughts will be called "Ramblings in my Mind".

Last weekend was a busy weekend so I did not have much time for reading or reflection. For the third weekend in a row I had some electricians show up at my home at 8:00 AM on Saturday. The good news is that they are now done and I have enough electrical outlets and recessed lighting for the 21st century. While I was home with the electricians my wife went shopping and came home with a carload of pillows. What's the deal with women and pillows? When things finally quieted down my granddaughter showed up to spend the night while her Dad went four wheeling in Eastern Kentucky. On Sunday everyone was at my house for a cookout and "official" celebration of the birthdays of my wife and me. After everyone was fed and they went home or back to school, I sat down, took a breath, and began the mental preparation for another Monday and work week. Life is a continuous cycle of work, family, chores, and other activities. This cycle is the wheel of life. I don't always like where the wheel is going but I am happy it is still turning.

Earlier this week, on my way to the parking garage during an afternoon spring rain, I experienced the difference between "water resistant" and "water proof". Apparently I choose poorly and was wearing a water resistant jacket. It didn't matter too much because I walked between most of the raindrops. It's a Zen thing.

Much of this past Monday afternoon I could hear thunder despite the volume of rock and roll on my ipod. There was also occasional lightening and heavy rain. It looked and sounded much worst than it was, at least in the downtown area. Much of life is like that. There are occasional rumblings that sometimes throw us into a panic. We might have some flashes of light or insight in rare moments, and sometimes life just gets us wet. The rumblings of life and the occasional rain remind us to appreciate peaceful and sunny days when life is good even if it is a little boring sometimes. Boredom is underrated. Boredom may not be exciting but it also means that nothing bad is happening. The older I get the more appreciation I have for ordinary and boring days when life is just quietly rolling along. Ordinary is great but I also like a little excitement once in a while or when there are holidays and celebrations. Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and special holy days are held together by all the ordinary days of our lives. My recent birthday was great but I would hate to have that much attention or excitement everyday. Most of our lives are ordinary days when we sometimes grudgingly get out of our beds to go about the business of daily life. Enjoy these ordinary days because they are the ones we are given in greatest volume.

Once I made the mistake of wearing my headphones into the men's room at work so I did not hear the cleaning lady when she entered. I'm not sure who was more embarrassed. Now I either take them completely off or at the very least I slip one side off so I can hear something besides music. When you only listen to one side of your headphones you miss a lot of the sound and some of the instruments. This is a good analogy for what it's like to go through life half asleep and unaware. Life is in stereo. In order to hear all of it's notes and instruments you have to be awake and paying attention. When you are in a daze, or you're spiritually asleep, you miss a lot. Speaking of being awake, did you notice today's sunrise? It was spectacular.

One of my younger co-workers recently told me that I was "younger" than many of his friends that were his age. Age is a state of mind. The famous baseball player Satchel Paige once said, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was"? I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see a young person freaking out because they are turning 30. In many ways I am getting younger the older I get. If you are blessed with a long life I believe you go full circle. You begin life as a child and in your old age you return to the simplicity and innocence of a child. Many elderly people regain a childlike sense of wonder. In our youth and young adulthood we acquire many things that we strive to let go of when we get older. The first half of life is about addition and the second half of life is about subtraction. If you would like to learn more about this view of life, check out "The Spirituality of Subtraction" by Richard Rohr.

The living person that I admire most in this world and who I would most like to be like is the Dalai Lama. He deeply cares about the human race and he embodies kindness, compassion, and wisdom. He is a true role model for me. I am currently reading a book of his titled "My Spiritual Journey". It's a fascinating book about the journey of his life. I read it every morning before I come to work while I am drinking my first cup of coffee. I would love to have lunch with him. I believe we could have some great conversation. My granddaughter shares a birthday with the Dalai Lama. That must have some cosmic significance. Who do you admire in life? Who are your role models? What kind of person would you most like to be? Too often our role models are rock stars, sports figures, entertainers, or other celebrity types who have little character or moral consciousness. They mostly represent self centered narcissism. Here's a short list of famous people that I admire in addition to the Dalai Lama.

•Martin Luther King, Jr.
•Nelson Mandela
•Mahatma Gandhi
•Mother Teresa
•Dorothy Day
•Thomas Merton
•Jimmy Carter
•Barack Obama

I just realized that more than half of these people are dead. Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela are elderly. Only Barack Obama could be considered young. This fact highlights part of the problem with our world today. Who are the great people of today? Who are the statesmen, the saints, and the world leaders who are the role models of today? Who is there to admire? Charlie Sheen? Are you kidding me?

Yesterday I was a little bored and restless plus I developed a sudden and acute case of spring fever while at work. It did not help that another employee in my office reportedly won $200,000,000 in the lottery. I didn't really envy their good luck. I just wanted to go home and sit in my back yard. Wealth and riches can be measured by more things than money. I have often heard, and it's been my experience, that money alone will not make you happy. However, I have also heard that it will make misery easier to bear. More money and more stuff involves more responsibility and often more worry. I have more money and more stuff now than I have ever had in my life. My standard of living is much better than my parents had. I am not rich but I feel a long way from poor. However, I do not apologize for any of it because my wife and I have been getting out of bed everyday and going to work for nearly 40 years. We have been blessed but we have also earned most of what we have. I think it's always better to earn your money and to work for the things you acquire. You really do appreciate it more than if it's just thrown in your lap. However, if I ever win $200,000,000 I am keeping it until I figure out how best to give most of it away. I subscribe to the pay it forward mentality. If life is good to you, share the wealth.

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