Friday, August 25, 2017

What Defines Who You Are?

What do you care about?  How do you spend your free time?  What defines or describes you as a person?  When you have no obligations tugging at you, what do you do?  If you ask my granddaughter what I like she will reply “books and music”.  There is no doubt that I love to spend much of my free time reading books and listening to music.  I am also a solitary person so I enjoy and need my time alone.  Throw in a good cup of coffee and I’m very content.  If you walked into my “Fortress of Solitude” you would see a lot of books, CD’s, movies, and probably a coffee cup on my table.  This might sound boring to some of you who are more action oriented types but I accept that I am probably a boring person to many people.  However, I am never boring to myself.  I am happy to be left alone and allowed to simply be.  I get it that many of you are the total opposite of me.  I’m OK with that.  You are who you are.  I suspect that there are a lot of people who simply don’t think much about who they are and maybe not much about what they value.  If you could have the rest of this day off, and you had no pressing demands or chores that simply had to be done, what would you do for the rest of the day?  I admit that along with the things I have already mentioned I might take a nap.  It’s what old men do.  How would you spend the time today?  Would you choose a quiet day at home, relaxing and doing something you enjoy?  Would you spend the day at the mall buying more stuff that you don’t need?  Would you go volunteer at your church?  Would you take a walk in the park or go work out?  Sometime today think about what you value and how you would spend your time if you truly owned your time and you had the freedom to decide how it was used.  What is it in your life that tells other people who you are?  I think people who know me well think of me as a spiritual hippie and a thinker, someone who is a free spirit and who really doesn’t care if he’s on the same page as other people.  I hope I am seen as someone who is a lover of music and intellectual pursuits and as someone who values a spirituality that explores a deeper vision of life beyond the common, ordinary, and mundane.  I could be wrong.  Many people might just see me as a weird person.  I can live with that. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

There Are Many Ways To See Life

Absorbed in this world, you’ve made it your burden.

Rise above this world.

There is another vision.



I am not someone who reads poetry every day but I do appreciate a good poem.  One of my favorite poets is Rumi.  Below is a link to more information about him.  I have written the occasional poem but I do not consider myself a poet.  However, I do see myself as someone who sees life with a poetic vision.  As I have said many times I tend to be a dreamer and a romantic.  My head is in the clouds although my feet are firmly on the ground.  As the Moody Blues once sang, it is “A Question of Balance”.  The toils and struggles of everyday life can get the best of us down.  If you get too absorbed in life’s struggles it can easily be a burden just to live.  Whether or not you are naturally inclined to be a dreamer or a romantic, sometimes you have to stop, step away, and rise above it all.  There is another vision.  For me to rise above the mundane and ordinary aspects of daily life I need to find beauty.  Sometimes it is right in front of you but if you aren’t looking for it you may not see it.  Thomas Merton, the famous monk and writer, was also a photographer.  A book was published of some of his photographs called “A Hidden Wholeness”.  It was mostly pictures of ordinary things around the monastery.  Merton, however, had an artistic vision so he was able to see the beauty in ordinary things and find the “Hidden Wholeness” within them.  People need to not only rise above this world but also to see beyond the obvious.  People need to deepen their vision of life.  I believe this is what Rumi is saying to us.



Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Like Every Minute Of The Day

This song was a not a big hit.  It is a rather obscure song on an album called The Who By Numbers.  However, I love the lyrics and the idea of liking every minute of the day.  We all have our preferences.  I am a morning person.  I struggle with the middle part of the day.  If I survive 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM, I also like the time of day when the sun begins to set, especially in the summer time when the day’s heat may have been oppressive.   


The Blue, Red, and Gray

Sung by The Who (One of my favorite rock bands)

Lyrics by Pete Townshend


Some people seem so obsessed with the morning
Get up early just to see the sun rise
Some people like it more when there's fire in the sky
Worship the sun when it's high
Some people go for those sultry evenings
Sipping cocktails in the blue, red and grey

But I like every minute of the day

I like every second, so long as you are on my mind
Every moment has its special charm
It's alright when you're around, rain or shine

I know a crowd who only live after midnight
Their faces always seem so pale
And then there's friends of mine who must have sunlight
They say a suntan never fails
I know a man who works the night shift
He's lucky to get a job and some pay

And I like every minute of the day

I dig every second
I can laugh in the snow and rain
I get a buzz from being cold and wet
The pleasure seems to balance out the pain

And so you see that I'm completely crazy
I even shun the south of France
The people on the hill, they say I'm lazy
But when they sleep, I sing and dance
Some people have to have the sultry evenings
Cocktails in the blue, red and grey

But I like every minute of the day

I like every minute of the day


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

We All Want Peace And Love

Today I bring you a little bit of history.  48 years ago, on August 15th, 1969,  late on a Friday afternoon, folk musician Richie Havens took the stage as the opening act for the now infamous Woodstock Music & Art Fair.  He was not scheduled to be the opening act.  The opening act was supposed to be a band called Sweetwater but they were stuck in traffic trying to get to the festival site, a farm in upstate New York owned by a man named Max Yasgur.  The logistics of the festival were in total disarray as many more people showed up than were expected.  By the end of the weekend it was estimated that 500,000 people were there at one point or another.  Richie Havens was asked to begin the festival because he and his fellow musicians needed nothing but some microphones to pick up their guitars, conga drum, and voices.  Woodstock was the peak of the so-called hippie dream that began a few years earlier with the “Summer of Love”.  By the end of 1969 it was all falling apart in large part because of the Charles Manson murders and the killing of a young man at a free Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway.  Many idealists and dreamers wondered where it all went wrong.  After all, this was the “Love Generation”.  I think most generations start off with high ideals and big dreams.  Although I did not make it to Woodstock I was one of those hippies.  If the truth be told I am still one of those hippies.  We are not dead yet and I am not alone.  I still have high ideals and dreams.  Unfortunately, my generation is running out of time.  I am disheartened by what I see on the nightly news.  There is so much hate in the world and none of us are immune to feeling it.  Anyone can hate.  It takes everything in me not to hate our current president.  What turns people into racists, Neo-Nazi’s,  and white nationalists while filling them with such hatred for anyone who is not the same as them?  I sometimes feel like I am too old and too tired to change the world but I also feel like I cannot just stand by and just observe it.  What can an average person do?  You can practice love, tolerance, and acceptance in the ordinary events of your daily life.  Change begins with individuals.  Look into your own heart first.  Do you believe in love?  Show it.  Do you believe in peace?  Then live in peace.  Do you believe we are all human beings that want nothing more than to raise our families, be happy, and live our lives?  People are not born bad.  Things like racism and intolerance are learned behaviors.  Check yourself and make sure you are not a teacher of these things.  Think about what you say and do.  You don’t have to be a hippie to want peace and love in your life or in the lives of others.          

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How I Pray Is Breathe.

This is not a hermitage, it is a house. ("Who was that hermitage I seen you with last night?") What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. Who said Zen? Wash out your mouth if you said Zen. If you see a meditation going by, shoot it. Who said "Love?" Love is in the movies. The spiritual life is something that people worry about when they are so busy with something else they think they ought to be spiritual. Spiritual life is guilt. Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that is to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it.  
-Thomas Merton from his essay Day of a Stranger.

This is a quote from one of my favorite Thomas Merton essays.  For those that do not know, Thomas Merton was a monk, priest, and prolific spiritual writer.  He is also the biggest reason I started writing my own thoughts.  I say that with all due respect for my granddaughter who has also been a major influence.  Merton lived at the Abbey of Gethsemani which is the same monastery where I lived as a young man although we were not there at the same time.  He spent the last few years of his life as a hermit living in the woods near the monastery.  I have spent a couple of weekends in this hermitage and they were profound experiences for me.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I believe I totally get the message in this quote.  I think the basic message here, and one I need to hear on a regular basis, is to stop trying so hard to be spiritual, deep, and profound.  Wear your pants, live your life, and feel the wind.  O yes, don’t forget to breathe.  All of life is spiritual so you don’t have to do spiritual things to make life sacred.  Life is sacred and spiritual all by itself.  Of course, spiritual practices and beliefs are fine too and they can enhance your experience of life. 

Friday, August 11, 2017


Along with psychology and personality types, I like to understand the different generations, specifically their views of life.  Recently I read an article about who tends to carry the burden of responsibility in the workplace.  The author believes the Gen X generation is now the driving force in the work place.  What defines the different generations?  It is basically defined by when you were born.  Here is a breakdown of the current generations.  I have seen variations on this but these are the most common delineations.
The Silent Generation-People born before 1945.
Baby Boomers-People born between 1946 and 1964.
Generation X-People born between 1965 and 1976.
Millennials-People born between 1977 and 1995.
Generation Z-People born between 1996 – 2010.  This would be my teenage granddaughter and her generation. 
I cannot dive deep into each generation.  Focusing on the article I read, here’s a few thoughts.  Millennials are the 20-40 Year olds.  Gen Xer’s are the 40-50 year olds  Baby Boomers are the 50-70 year olds.  Millennials are often seen as being a little clueless about the harsh realities of life.  Their parents may have told them they could do anything.  They are sometimes finding out they can’t despite what their parents told them.  Gen Xer’s are deep into adulthood.  Being an adult is hard.  They are raising families and building careers.  This is a very stressful time of life.  The Baby Boomers are coming to the end of their careers, their children are grown up, and they are faced with the reality that they are running out of time.  I am a Baby Boomer so I get it.  The gist of the article was that in the work place the Millennials are often perceived as clueless and the Baby Boomers are seen as over it and checked out so the Gen Xer’s must shoulder most of the responsibility.  Of course these are generalizations and don’t apply to every individual, but they are also somewhat true.  One final thought that I find interesting.  Most of my rock and roll heroes are not really Baby Boomers.  They are actually part of the “Silent Generation”.  Tell that to the Rolling Stones!  They are all in their 70’s now and still rocking and rolling all over the world.         

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Life Isn't Always As It Appears

I suffer from ‘Room B’ syndrome.  I always think other people are having a better time than me.  Social media has made this worse.  When comparing yourself to others, you rarely come out favorably”.
-Cherry Healey
I am a student of psychology, especially the study of personality types and specifically my own personality.  After many years I have come to realize that one of my flaws is envy.  I found this hard to accept at first because I tend to be a grateful person and I know I am blessed in many ways.  However, if I am completely honest I would have to admit that I am sometimes envious of others.  This gets tricky.  I am not envious of what I see in others.  I tend to be envious about what I imagine others have.  It is not their cars or houses or wealth that I envy.  It is the happiness and contentment I imagine they have that I wish I had for myself.  Let’s be honest.  All people have some kind of emptiness that they spend much of their life trying to fill.  It may take many years for an individual to know the cause of the emptiness they feel.  Although I was never homeless and I never went hungry, I realize now I was kind of poor compared to the way I live now.  It always seemed that other kids and other families had a better life.  In addition, my parents focused more on the physical needs of their children, i.e., food, a bed, clothes, and a roof, than on the emotional needs of their children.  I realize now this was a generational trait because my parent’s grew up during the Great Depression and World War II.  Additionally, as the oldest of six children, I quickly felt part of the background as younger siblings began to appear.  I don’t want to give the impression that I had a horrible childhood.  I never suffered, many other people had similar lives, and I also had many happy moments.  My point is that the needs of our adulthood are formed in our childhood.  When you feel like much is lacking, much is wanted.  I am not sure exactly why some tend to think everyone else has what they feel lacking.  When you feel envious of the life you imagine others have, remember that there is much about their lives of which you are unaware.  Many people are not as happy as they might look.  Many people’s relationships are not as perfect as they may appear.  That comfortable life may be the result of maxed out credit cards and multiple bank loans.  Every person, one way or another, is trying to fill a need and an emptiness.  On the positive side all of this can form us to be the good people that most of us are.  When you understand your own needs and pain, you can be more compassionate towards the needs and pain of others.