Thursday, February 28, 2013


I learned that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back, and that the essence of life is to go forward. Life is really a one way street. -Writer Agatha Christie

Did you ever see the movie called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons”? It starred Brad Pitt as a man who was born old and who got younger the longer he lived. I won’t tell you how it ends but I will tell you that growing younger as everyone around you grows older is not as great as it sounds. In real life there is also a curious thing that happens. As we grow older and our body’s age, we often grow younger in spirit. Have you ever been around a really old person who has a twinkle in their eye, a smile on their face, and laughter in their heart? I hope to grow into such a person. They aren’t childish in an immature way. They are childlike in a positive way with their zest for life, their sense of wonder, and they’re openness to the never ending awesomeness of life. While such people may be dealing with the pain and discomfort of an aging body, their spirit is indomitable. They are a joy to be around. Life may be a one way street in the sense that we cannot remain youthful in body or in our thinking. Of course, there are those who do remain immature their entire life and that is sad. The one way street of life should lead us forward to a point where we have been transformed into the best version of ourselves. The transformational process of life, whether it be a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly or a young person growing into a really great old person, is really the whole point of life and certainly the point of the spiritual side of our lives. If going forward and transforming is not the point of life, what are we here for? My hair and beard are turning white. My wife recently told me that I am starting to look like Moses after he saw God on the mountaintop. If you saw the “Ten Commandments” movie with Charlton Heston, you might know what I am talking about. Moses was aglow. By the time I leave this world I want to be glowing too. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The beatings will continue until morale improves.
-a post on my employer's social media site.

When I first read this quote it made me chuckle to myself. Then I realized that some people believe or have experienced this as an actual approach to bad morale. What is bad morale? Many times over the years I have had people come to me and say “Morale is really down”. I tend to take such statements with a grain of salt. Morale is in the eye of the beholder. In every department that I have ever been in there have been people who think everything is wonderful and others who think everything is terrible. Usually this is the result of different expectations that people have of the workplace. In general, I have come to the conclusion that many people expect way too much from the workplace. If work was always fun, it would be called play. Good or bad morale boils down to attitude, cooperation, how well people work together, and how they are treated. I strive to start off every day with a positive attitude. Admittedly there are days where my positive attitude takes quite a beating. Assuming I can maintain a positive attitude most of the time I strive to be cooperative with my leaders, my peers, and my team. I don’t always agree with them, I compromise when necessary, and I try not to have unrealistic expectations of them. We are all people trying to do the best we can and some days are better than other days. How well we work together has a lot to do with how much we respect one another. It’s a balancing act. Leaders must have integrity and respect for those who follow them. Those who follow should strive to trust their leaders and cooperate with their direction. Whether one is a leader or a follower, there must be trust, openness, and transparency. When these things exist, morale is good. When attitudes on both sides are negative, when cooperation is replaced by competition or resistance, when leaders don’t lead and followers don’t follow, morale is bad. As cliqued as it sounds, we are all in this together. It is only by working together in positive and life giving ways that we can accomplish our goals, be reasonably happy, and go home at the end of the day with a sense of pride for a job well done and no sense of dread about returning the next day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Feeling Adrift

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.
-Musician George Harrison

Many of us have times in our life when we feel adrift. I am having one of those times in my life right now. I recently told my book editors that sometimes I struggle with topics to write about because I seem to be having fewer experiences in my life that feed my writing. I also don’t read as much as I used to and books have always fueled my mind. One month from today I will be 62 years old. This time of my life certainly feels transitional. Things I used to care about I no longer care about and this void has not yet been filled with anything new. The desire to publish a book gives me some purpose but on a typical day I feel like I am only going through the motions. Too much of my life is simply routine. Many people around me, who are mostly young people, can still measure many parts of their lives in single digits, i.e., their years with the company, their marriages, the age of their children, etc. Most of my life is measured by decades. Many of us fear change. We hate when we don’t see it coming or it is undesirable when it arrives. Yet, in times of transition, one sometimes longs for positive and self chosen change. Perhaps what feels like drift is really no more than some roads coming to an end and new roads have not yet revealed themselves. Unfortunately there is no GPS for life. Whatever road one is on, you must find your own way to the end of it. Sometimes life is like driving along a poorly marked road at night in heavy fog. A GPS would be great so you know where you are, where you are going, how long it will take to get there, and when you should turn left or right. Life, however, is not that simple or easy. Whatever road you are on make sure you have plenty of gas and that you don’t drive into a ditch.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Be Who You Are

Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who would love the person you are.
-from the “Hippie Peace Freaks” page on Facebook

When most people are young they will do whatever it takes to be accepted as part of a group. Being accepted is very important to young people. They do not want to be left out. Most people grow out of this mentality but some maintain it their entire life. I did this when I was young. I wanted to have friends and to be popular. I didn’t want to spend any Friday nights being alone. I now realize that I am not really a group guy. It is no longer important for me to be accepted by most other people. Yes, I like to have friendships and to know people with whom I have something in common but a desire for popularity and acceptance is no longer a driving force in my life. Some people think I am weird. Some people think I am different. In some cases this is a compliment and in other cases people probably look at me and shake their head. Like Popeye the sailor man, “I am who I am and that’s all that I am”. Since I really have no other choice but to be who I am, I am happy doing so. With me what you see is what you get. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I try to be an authentic person. I have noticed that people who like me REALLY like me and people who don’t, just don’t. It is not mandatory to be weird but I encourage you to be real. Be who you are unless you’re a jerk. In that case a little self- improvement may be in order. Assuming you’re not a jerk, don’t be someone else’s version of who they think you should be. If you don’t know who you are, maybe it’s time for a voyage of self-discovery. You don’t need the people who won’t accept the real you. You may experience a few bumps and scrapes along the way but “to thy own self be true” as the character Polonius says in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The world is full of fake people, posers, and charlatans. Be real even if you aren’t perfect. Being real doesn’t demand perfection. We are all works in progress. .

Friday, February 22, 2013

What Is It That You Really Want?

Nothing except possibly love and death are of importance, and even the importance of death is somewhat ephemeral, as no one has yet faxed back a reliable report.
-Naturalist /Writer Gerald Durrell

I recently received an email from a friend telling me about a Zen retreat he had made. When he arrived at the retreat the Zen Master asked the participants what they wanted. He did not ask what they expected. He asked what they wanted. He asked a second time, “What is it you really want”? He wasn’t referring just to the retreat. He was also asking it in the context of their total lives. Looking at your own life and dreams, what is it that you really want? What is really important to you? I think all of us want love in our life. We want someone to love and we also want someone to love us. If you don’t have love in your life everything else loses much of its meaning. The common understanding of success is not a universal desire. Most of us cannot even agree on what success is. Is success based on the size of your paycheck or the happiness and contentment of your life? If the answer is the latter, there are many very successful people with simple lives, minimal possessions, and average paychecks. As most of us live our lives we get hung up on incidentals that aren’t really important in the great scheme of life. I’ve spent much of my work life dealing with people who are upset about something. I’ve talked a lot of people off the ledge. What are really grains of sand and bumps in the road are often seen as boulders and craters. Sometimes we need to stop, breathe, and put things in perspective. There’s not a hidden agenda behind every circumstance in life. More often than not, life is just life. Things happen. A lot of the time they are good things even if we don’t recognize them as such. Occasionally bad things happen. They are not always fair or deserved and usually they are not part of a conspiracy that life is perpetrating against us. Take some time to reflect on what has real value and importance in your life and focus on that. Everyone has problems and heartache. We all have disappointments and things that annoy us. Most of it we need to let go. Our energy needs to be spent on what we value and consider truly important.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Perception Versus Reality

Sometimes I complain because my life seems too busy. I know many people, especially younger people who are still raising their children or trying to go to school, or both, would probably laugh at me for feeling this way. Is my life really too busy? I doubt it. What might seem like a busy life is probably just a full life. My wife and I work full time, we are involved in the lives of our children even though they are adults, and weekends with my granddaughter seem to roll around quickly. Admittedly, my wife is frantic at the moment trying to prepare for my youngest son’s ordination. It’s a little bit like having a daughter and putting on a wedding. Although we’re both excited, we will also be breathing a sigh of relief when it is over. The point I want to make, however, is that the way our life feels is not always the way it is. Most people’s reality is based on perception and perception is not always reality. My personal perception is that my life is too busy. The reality is that my life is actually very simple. I wake up and come to work five days a week. Most work nights I go home, have a simple dinner, change into my evening attire, and I sit in my chair undisturbed. I read the daily newspaper, check my personal emails or maybe Facebook, listen to my favorite music, and often take a nap. At some point I watch a little television or maybe a movie, and then I go to bed. If this is “busy” many people would love to be so busy. Weekends with my granddaughter can seem full but weekends without her are usually wide open with nothing that demands my attention. Mindfulness helps me see reality. When I take the time and make the effort to really be present to the moment I can see life as it really is and not as I perceive it.

Life's Little Annoyances

Today I will live in the moment unless the moment is unpleasant. In that case I will eat a cookie.
-Zen saying

Life is full of little challenges and annoyances. Here are a few of mine. Last week my wife prepared what would have been a tasty dinner cooked in a crock pot. Unfortunately she forgot to turn it on so we came home to a cold crock pot full of raw chicken. My alarm clock makes random decisions about whether or not it will wake my wife and I up on workdays. Fortunately I automatically wake up every two hours with or without a clock. My automatic coffee pot begins brewing my morning coffee at 6:10 AM every workday so it’s ready when I come downstairs. Sometimes, with no warning, it turns itself off and I don’t always realize it till the creamer I am stirring into my coffee does nothing but turn into lumps. My wife’s personal body temperature has nothing in common with the real temperature. She lives in an endless summer. No adjustment of the thermostat in the house or the car is to her satisfaction. Sometimes on the drive to work she will roll down her window to “get some air”. Keep in mind that it is still winter. Going to bed at my house is like camping out. The bedroom window is open, the ceiling fan is on high, and my wife also has a small personal fan on her nightstand that is on all night. At the same time I have my electric blanket on because I’m freezing. If anyone is looking for gift ideas for me, a hat and gloves that I can sleep in would be good. After 38 years of marriage my wife and I still disagree on the proper way to load a dishwasher. Yesterday I forgot to check the settings on my toaster so I ended up with a slice of warm bread. The butter barely melted. It took me three attempts to listen to the Who’s “Quadrophenia” CD because the first two times I fell asleep after just a couple of songs. More often than not it rains when I go to the grocery store and I have to load up the car in the pouring rain. None of these things could be considered a crisis. I categorize them as inconveniences but let’s be honest. These are the kinds of things that occasionally make you want to scream. Usually I don’t scream because screaming hurts my throat. I’m sure each of you could come up with your own little list of things that make you crazy or that annoy you. Maybe I am on your list.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You Can't Please Everyone

I cannot give you the formula for success but I can give you the formula for failure which is try to please everyone.
-Editor Herbert Bayard Swope

Everywhere you turn there is someone who has expectations of you. Even a robust attempt to please everyone will end up mostly in failure. I am not sure I have ever totally pleased anyone. I’ve tried to be a good son, good brother, good husband, good father, good employee, and good leader. The only thing I am confident I have done really well is being a grandfather. I also try to be a good writer since writing is the closest I have ever come to having a gift. At this point in my life I have an attitude that many may find difficult or unacceptable. My current attitude is that I am doing the best I can and if it’s not good enough for you, you can yada, yada, yada. I’m sure most of you can fill in the blanks. I believe most people, including myself, are generally doing the best they can to be all they should be. I don’t expect perfection in myself or others. The older I get, the more tolerant I am of human weakness. Life is difficult, those around us often expect a lot, and our ability to deliver can vary wildly on any given day. Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time”. These are wise words from a wise man. I try to put my best self out there as much as I can with the hope I will make a positive difference in the world. Sometimes my less than best self makes an appearance and I hope that he does no harm. My advice is to not worry about pleasing people. I encourage you to focus on doing good. If you do good things you will please more people than you annoy. Actually I think annoying some people is a good thing and I occasionally I take pleasure in doing that.

Spoiler Alert!

I was amazed to recently read that some people who went to see the movie “Lincoln” didn’t know he dies at the end of the movie.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Do No Harm

I am on the verge of finally finishing a book that I feel I began years ago. It is called Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is a book about mindfulness. This morning I read about the idea of doing no harm. If you don’t know what to do, at least do no harm. This is a good mantra for those who find it difficult to actually practice love, kindness, and compassion. It is similar to the Dalai Lama’s teaching that if you can’t love everyone, at least don’t hurt them. This particular Dalai Lama teaching is something I practice a lot in the work environment. However, I think the idea of doing no harm is a great default mantra when love, kindness, and compassion seem beyond our ability. I like to believe that myself and most other people are driven by idealistic motives. However, my experience is that being optimistic, positive, and caring takes a lot of energy. It is energy well spent but it does take a lot of effort to be a good person. Doing no harm may seem like a negative way to live but I think it can only have positive results. By doing no harm we keep ourselves from unleashing negative energy into the world. The laws of karma would say that by doing no harm, no harm will be done to us. In a perfect world we would all be driven and motivated by care for others and doing good things. In the real world it is challenging to always do these things. I still hope to practice love, kindness, and compassion as much as possible and whenever possible. However, I also know that some days it seems beyond my ability. When I am feeling less than charitable, I hope my backup plan of doing no harm kicks in and keeps me from saying or doing things I will regret later.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Granddaughter

Earlier this week one of the people who is helping me with my book said, “I want to meet the famous Chloe”. I assume she has found many references to my granddaughter while reading through all the things I have written. It is not unusual for me to encounter people in my office and be asked about Chloe and how she is doing. I have been writing about her since she was only a few weeks old. Chloe is now eight years old and quite the little lady. She is a wonderful blend of childlike wonder and innocence with a Zen like presence to the moment that only a child can have. Her birth and entry into my life was just what I needed. I have never really been what you might consider great with children. I found parenthood very difficult. Chloe and I, however, seemed to bond almost immediately. Maybe it’s because she is a girl and I never had a daughter. From the day she was born, and to this day, I still get excited every time I get to see her. Whatever age she is, I want her to stay that age forever. Compared to her early years she now seems so grown up. We have wonderful conversations whenever she comes to my house for a weekend. Her favorite thing to do with me is what she calls “playing the game”. I am a big fan of the rock band called the Grateful Dead. I have a doll of Jerry Garcia, their lead guitar player. When Chloe comes over she will bring me the doll and say, “You be Jerry, Paw Paw”. We then get on the floor directly in front of my fake wood burning stove. That’s her favorite place to sit because of the warmth it provides. In the same corner are all of the stuffed animals that she leaves at my house. We then “play the game” with Jerry and his animal friends. Chloe is like the director of a movie and I am an actor. It is very important that I stay in character. If I stop being Jerry and start being Paw Paw, she calls me out. My Jerry Garcia doll usually survives all of this but Paw Paw sometimes struggles to get up off the floor.  I'll be "playing the game" this weekend.  Pictured above is one of my favorite photos of Chloe and me.  Jerry is sitting in my lap.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stop Worrying So Much

Worry is the most natural and spontaneous of all human functions. It is time to acknowledge this, perhaps even learn to do it better.
-Pathologist Lewis Thomas

I know people…one of them is my wife…who worry about everything. Such people are almost incapable of not worrying. It is in their nature to worry about everything, no matter how irrational it may be. I worry about nothing. I sometimes have concerns and on a rare occasion I do get stressed. My wife would say that I don’t worry because I am clueless about reality. She would probably say this about all men. Admittedly, there are probably times I should worry. I do sometimes make molehills out of mountains but I am an eternal optimist who always believes things will get better even when they don’t. What does worry accomplish? It seems like a terrible waste of energy to me and I don’t have any that I can spare. Such energy could be spent seeking a solution to whatever it is that you are worrying about. I think many people worry because they cannot differentiate between an inconvenience and a real crisis. I don’t know exactly why I do not worry. I believe it is because of my belief and experience that God and life has always taken care of me. One way or another I have almost always gotten what I need to live. When I haven’t gotten what I thought I needed, I probably didn’t really need it. As we all know, there are needs and there are wants. Sometimes what I need is not what I want and it might take me a little while to accept that. I wish people, especially chronic worriers, would take all the time and energy they waste on worrying and use it to just think deeply about their life. They might want to reflect on the question, “Why do I worry so much and how many, if any, of my fears have actually come true”? We all need to deal with the challenges that life gives each of us but we would also be doing ourselves a big favor if we could simply relax and live.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wonder And Awe

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
-Comedian Lucille Ball

Lots of words have been written about staying young. Some people say age is all about attitude. This idea has been humorously captured by the famous baseball player, Satchel Paige, in his quote “Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”. Some people also talk about being “young at heart”. I don’t think we should obsess about being young. As Bob Dylan once sang, “Those not busy being born are busy dying”. Sometimes our attempts to be young are little more than immature behavior. There’s nothing more pathetic than a man or woman my age trying to act like they are twenty. As we grow older we should trade our immaturity for wisdom. If there is a quality we should strive for, it is not youthfulness, it is being childlike by living our life with a sense of wonder. One of the pitfalls of aging is that we often become cynical and we can no longer be awed by anything. If I end up physically old, wise, and with a childlike sense of wonder and awe, I will be happy with myself. Never lose your openness to awe and wonder. Fight your cynicism. When nothing impresses you or causes you to be lost in the moment, you are already dead. Life is tough and it can sometimes feel boring. Every day there are the chores of life and the demands of making a living. Don’t let making a living, however, replace living your life with childlike wonder and awe. Be open to the extraordinary within the ordinary. Pay attention and be present when moments of wonder and awe reveal themselves to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Zen And Balance

Zen is doing what you are doing and being where you are. It sounds simple but in reality is quite challenging. Zen is also about balance. This is also very challenging. Keeping the different parts of our lives in balance is like spinning five or six plates on the end of long sticks all at the same time. Getting enough rest, doing enough but not too much work, being with others and being with self, being active and being still, enjoying life and being present to the sacred, knowing when to go and when to stop, when to speak and when to be silent, is a daily challenge. If your life feels out of balance, it probably is. Life moves fast. Sometimes you must slow down to keep it all from spinning out of control. You can't be present to the moment if you meeting yourself coming and going. Stop now, close your eyes and simply breathe for a moment. Refresh yourself. Do this throughout your day. Go home at the end of this work day (if you are not already there) and practice slowing down. Pay attention to your own breath and remember it is the source of your life. Be where you are....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Remembering My Dad

On this day four years ago my father died. He took his last breath just as I was walking into his hospital room for what turned out to be my last visit. I still think of him frequently and I see him every morning when I look in the mirror. I am my father’s son. I look just like him, although he did not have a beard, and I have inherited much of his solitary nature and personality. Like many fathers and sons we did not always get along. Over the years, however, we both mellowed and looking back I think we were closest during the last year or two of his life when he suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases while residing in a nursing home. Even in those last days he had a wry smile and quiet sense of humor that some people think I also have. It is difficult to think of my father without also thinking of my sons. As they grow older and approach their middle age, how do they see me? Do they have a negative attitude towards me as I often did towards my father when I thought he had no clue and I knew everything? Although my father was an uneducated man, in the end he had a quiet dignity and he died a good death. I delivered the eulogy at his funeral and spoke words I never could have imagined in my rebellious youth. Most of us do not appreciate our parents. It is usually in their old age and our increased wisdom that we see them in a positive light. I look favorably on both my parents now even though I still don’t understand everything about them. In my own struggles as a human being I sometimes reflect on their struggles as they lived their lives and it gives me a more compassionate view of them.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Get On With It

I take a simple view of living. It is to keep your eyes open and get on with it”.
-Actor Laurence Olivier

Life is complicated enough without us making it more so. However, if you live one day at a time and live in the moment of each day as fully as you can, life is greatly simplified and it is much easier to “get on with it”. Living in the moment is only possible when our eyes are open and we are awake. Too many of us walk through our lives asleep. When our eyes are open and we are awake, we can be more mindful of the moments of our lives. If you pay attention to life in general, and your own life in particular, much will be revealed that you might otherwise miss. Pay attention to what goes on around you. Notice things. Take nothing for granted. See everything as a gift. Simple things are important. I came into work today all happy because it’s Friday and tomorrow I will be spending the day with my granddaughter. I hung up my coat and attempted to boot up my computer. Nothing happened. Since I am not exactly what you would call a technical guy, I had a co-worker look at it to see if the problem was simply user error on my part. For once in my life it wasn’t. The power source was out and I had to call a real computer guy to fix it. One little power source brought my morning to a complete halt. When the problem was fixed and the electricity flowed through my computer, I had a new appreciation for Thomas Edison and computer gifts. It was a simple problem with a simple solution but when it was fixed I felt a simple joy and much gratitude. Now I can get on with my life.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Our True Selves

We must try to discover the real person we are. From time to time something authentic shows through in moments when we are carried away by such joy that we forget who might be looking at us, when we are unself-conscious in moments of extreme pain, or when we have a deep sense of sadness of wonder. At these moments we see something of the true person that we are. But often after we have seen ourselves we turn away because we do not want to confront this person face to face. Nevertheless this is the only real person there is in us.
-Orthodox Bishop Anthony Bloom

Who are all of us…really? We show up in different parts of our lives in a variety of costumes acting out the role we play for that scene. All of us go through life wearing a variety of masks usually because we fear rejection from our fellow actors. I shared once that every time two people meet there are six people in the room. For each person there is the person they think they are, the person they really are, and the person the other person thinks they are. When the masks and the costumes are stripped away, who is the real person? We can spend much of our lives in the company of the same people and the mystery of who we are is never truly revealed. I have long believed that the person we are when we are alone is a good indicator of who we really are. When there are no roles to play, no games to play, and no expectations on how we should act, we are usually most comfortable being our true selves. The whole goal of life and our individual spiritual journeys is to find our true selves. Our true self is who we are in God. The Buddhists call this “finding the face you had before your parents were born”. The true self is the real self, the unmasked self, the pure essence of who we truly are. It is our original nature and the part of us that many believe is eternal.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Take A Leap Of Faith

When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. Either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.
-Physicist Edward Teller

When was the last time you took a risk? When was the last time you took a leap of faith and jumped into the darkness? I must admit that I am not generally a risk taker. Temperamentally I am way too cautious. I don’t usually go where angels fear to tread and I tend to think before I do anything. This might be a safe way to live but it can also slow one’s progress and limit one’s opportunities. Sometimes it is fear that holds us back and other times it is a lack of confidence. Occasionally we all suffer from a fear of success. Yesterday I met with two people who are currently reading and selecting what they think are the best writing I’ve done. The three of us are working together to publish my first book. It has taken me years to get to this point despite much encouragement. I took a small risk asking my friends to help me. They are busy people with their own lives. What if they said no? Fortunately for me they both said yes. While we were talking yesterday one of them said, “You never know. This could be huge”. That almost scared me a little. What if I am actually a success? How will I handle that? Being successful has never been a problem for me because I have never really felt successful in my life. In some ways this effort to actually publish a book is a step into the darkness for me if for no other reason than I have never done it before and I don’t really know what I am doing. My fear is lessoned by the support and encouragement of people who believe in me. I am a little afraid that I might not be ordinary. I lived most of my life in the comfort zone of just being an ordinary person. What about you? Do you fear your own potential and greatness? Are you hiding behind a false humility that masks a potential gift? If so, step out of the darkness and take a leap of faith.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Stages Of Life

At eighty I believe I am a far more cheerful person than I was at twenty or thirty. I most definitely would not want to be a teenager again. Youth may be glorious but it is also painful to endure. Moreover, what is called youth is not youth; it is rather something like premature old age.
-Writer Henry Miller

I am not yet eighty but I am a long way from twenty or thirty. I don’t know if I am happier in my sixties than I was in my twenties or thirties. I have always found happiness elusive. Usually the best I can do is to feel reasonably content. I can say one thing with a fair amount of certainty. I would rather be sixty than twenty. Looking back there were too many parts of my life I found very difficult and I would not like to relive them. In my current age I feel a sense of relief that many of life’s challenges are behind me. Daily life is still challenging and I don’t know what lies ahead but in general I am more relaxed and more comfortable in my own skin. When one gets older you think more and more about less and less. You have a greater appreciation for life’s simple joys and it doesn’t take much to make you happy. You are past the stage where you want to build an empire and most would rather have less. A simple life has great appeal. Perhaps it is in this simplicity, when you spend more time letting go than gathering, that people find the greatest happiness. Occasionally I do wish I had my sixty year old life experience and wisdom in a twenty year old body. However, that might be a dangerous combination. You cannot experience old age without doing time as a young person. In all fairness, every stage of life has it’s joys and sorrows, it’s challenges and rewards, and it’s pros and cons. If you are lucky you will experience it all. Some of us have old souls when we are young while others are young at heart in bodies that are falling apart. Happiness and age are in the mind and in our attitudes. As I once said in a previous daily thought, “When we are young our bodies drag our minds around, when we are old our minds drag our bodies around”. Think about it. If you are young I advise you to live well now while you still have the energy.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Winter Day

I woke up this morning to below zero wind chills and a snow covered landscape.  It was only about an inch of snow but enough to change the appearance of my neighborhood.  It was a day off from work and my usual demands in the office and a day that I planned to spend with my good friend, Father Dennis.  The extreme cold and snowfall gave me some concern about driving on the somewhat lonely country roads that take me to Dennis's home but I decided to try my luck and hope for the best.  After dropping my wife off at her office I got on the interstate and headed south.  Despite the frigid temperatures the roads were remarkably dry and free of ice.  The morning sunrise had a beauty you can only experience in winter, at least until the sun was fully over the horizen and it seemed like a lazer beam aimed at my face.  I had already had to stop once and manually clean my windshield from salt residue.  Apparently there was ice covering the tiny holes on my windshield wipers that prevented the washing fluid from squirting out.  When the full force of the morning sun shone in my eyes I was completely blinded a couple of times until I changed direction away from the east.  I eventually made it to Dennis's house and we soon headed out to a local Mom and Pop restaurant for a hot breakfast of eggs, hash browns, country ham, and biscuits and gravy.  During our meal and throughout the day we had wonderful conversations about life, spirituality, and growing old.  In the afternoon, when we both were in need of a nap, I said my goodbyes and I headed home on on the slower but more scenic backroads.  Now we are heading into another cold night followed by another snowy day tomorrow.  I am looking forward to a day at home where I can sit in my room and look out my window at the falling snow.  Winter can be harsh but like all the seasons it also has it's beauty.