Archives For About Life

Things I have learned through my sixty odd years of life..

2014-12-04_10-28-12The above title seems very American in its character. We Americans, me included, just don’t like others telling us what to do or especially what to think. To some extent we are all rebel rousers in that regard. Some take this to an extreme by there “don’t confuse me with the facts”. We just don’t like being told what to do.

Prohibitionist tried to mandate what we do. We let a small handful of extremists convince us that drinking beer and such was the root cause of all our problems. If only we kept people from drinking we could shut down our jails and send our policemen home as all crime was related to alcohol.

Many religions try to tell us how to live and I believe that is the primary cause for the continuing decline of religion in this country. Some insist that we are all just miserable sinners who can’t do anything right. That alone raises the ire of so many of us. America is the land of opportunity and to be told we are incapable of doing anything right just grates on us.

The similarity between Prohibition and our current drug laws is striking. We incarcerate more of our citizens than any other nation and many if not most of those imprisonments are drug related. What was once legal in now considered a crime. Coke was named such because it once had a small dosage of cocaine in it to make us happier.  Ironically we as a nation, especially the more conservative ones among us, want to tell you how your are to live.

Is it really necessary to lock someone up for years at a time for doing something that primarily affects only them? If someone wants to get high on this drug or that is that reason enough to deny them their freedom? I know this is a radical stand but it seems to at least be partially playing out in our current discussions of the legalization of marijuana. How much money could we save if we legalized all drugs? If you want to destroy your life that should be your option.

Now let me step back a little on this issue. I am not advocating eliminating all responsibility of the consequences of drug use. If you steal to get your drugs you will be prosecuted. If you harm others directly or indirectly you will be prosecuted. This is kind of like the gun issue although I suspect most people advocating guns have the opposite view on this issue. You have a right to a gun even if it means that your young son ends up killing himself with it. You have a right to abuse your body if you want to.

Who is the government to tell me how to live my life?

I need to end this post with a personal declaration. I have never tried any currently illegal drug myself. I did smoke cigarettes for thirty years and hope that the past 25 years without them have cancelled their health effects. I have a beer now and then but do so responsibly.

Contemplating Life….

December 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-12-11_11-44-07The coming season is a very important one for my Asian friends. Many travel great distances to be with family. Many also take this season as a time to contemplate their life and its purpose. They ask searching questions of themselves to be sure they are living their life as they want to instead of just letting it happen. Many change jobs and occupations during this season.

I kind of wish I had  learned that lesson from them. I kind of wish I done likewise during my years on this earth. Instead I, like many Americans, just seem to let life happen to me instead of doing more to direct it as I intended. Too many of us treat life as something that happens at special times and not as an overall journey.  At some point it is too late to realize that life is a journey and not a destination. But, in reality it is never too late.

I can look back on my life and see where there were opportunities to have a more targeted existence. I could have chosen different paths that would probably have resulted in a much more satisfying life than I accomplished by just letting it happen.

It is never to late to learn new things and that is what I am doing now. I am treating this holiday season as a season of contemplation. As a season to question what I am doing and what I want to do in the coming year.  I intuitively know that some of the things I have been doing for a long time should come to an end and be replaced by other things. Instead of just letting things happen I am making an effort to direct my remaining years with a greater purpose.

But one of the things I know I will be doing is writing. That is an addiction I can never totally appease nor do I want to. I will continue to contemplate life via written words both personally and corporate. I know I am no great public speaker so I take writing as my way of maybe effecting change in things.  I am following a long list of my heroes who have done likewise. Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the most avid writer in my hero list. He left a huge legacy of written text. He was never much of an orator, in fact he like me didn’t get much pleasure from that communication mode. Teddy Roosevelt was another obsessive writer. He kept journals throughout his life starting at the age of nine.

Some of the changes I am contemplating are driven by health issues. My body, as most people my age, is wearing out. I am now living some of the consequences of abusing it in earlier life. I need to recognize that fact and deal with it in a rational manner instead of trying to deny it.

Another reason for changes is that I can certainly see the end of the tunnel so to speak and my bucket list is still somewhat full. So, I have to ask myself an age-old question. “if not now, when??”

Being Still ….

December 8, 2014 — 3 Comments

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Human mind works in a funny way, its basic nature is that of rebellion and the more you try to tame it, the more it gets out of control. Try keeping it fixed at a particular spot for a few minutes and you will understand the point am trying to make here at an experiential level. There are so many times wherein i have just wanted to be quiet, silent in all 3: physical, vocal and mental levels. By being quiet, I don’t mean draining my mind of all thoughts, for that stage is way high up in one’s spiritual journey. I simply mean being equanimous towards the thoughts/emotions that cross my mind, simply being a observer and not reacting. However, this seemingly simple thing of being still is so tough to get in action….

In The About Me Tab:

 I hope that i can raise myself to such a level of purity and integrity so as to have the courage to stand up for my principles as and when required. Most of my thoughts/principles/ideas are still getting shaped and my writing would demonstrate just that. Also, as of now, I feel stifled by even the mere thought of binding myself down with one ideology and thus, i keep jumping from one to another, keeping points i connect to and ignoring the rest.

SOURCE: Being Still – Learning’s from a tree | Just A Crazy Dreamer.

I think I have found a new kindred spirit on the Internet. His name is NAKUL ARORA and he is a young man in India trying to live out his calling. I browsed through several of his posts today and he has much the same questions about life as I do. He is now on my Feedly list for a daily read. I love the picture above from his blog header. I imagine that he is the one in the center of the picture. In his youth he quit the life path that was expected of him in order to follow his dreams. I wish I had done the same. One of the first things to draw my attention to the picture is the diversity of teeth among this young group. It is refreshing to see that physical beauty, some might say sameness,  does not drive all the countries in the world.

He claims to be “a die-hard patriot and appalled by the state of things in my country, I wanted to do something…”

I will be following this young man and probably re-blogging some of his words. The words above about simply being quiet spurred all kinds of thoughts in me. It is similar to the concept of “centering down” common among my Quaker friends.  My mind, I’m sure like his is in constant thought about things of the world. Just being quiet and observing instead of judging is a hard thing for me to accomplish.  I do it on occasion but frequently just can’t manage to do that. With this young man’s words and thoughts I hope to accomplish this more often.  I hope he spurs me into thinking about things in a different way.  We all need to be shaken from our complacency once in a while.

 

Triune God….

December 7, 2014 — 4 Comments

2014-12-04_11-12-50Those of us who are Christians have been taught about a triune God also called the Trinity. Over the years I have come to form my own visions about just what that means. I am going to share them with you here. But, before I do I am not trying to convince you that I am right or you are wrong about your spiritual beliefs. Some of us choose different paths to our heavenly links.

The Trinity is supposed to be made up of three different entities: God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. I first learned about this concept in a Catholic primary school via Jesuit nuns and priests. In telling young kids about this it was necessary to keep it as simple as possible. To try to teach the concept more fully would be like trying to teach first century citizens about DNA. They were not ready to understand that twenty-first century finding.

Lets get into the nature of a triune God at least as I have come to understand it today.

God the Father – … the essence of the universe and anything beyond that…

God the Son –  … the physical manifestation of God so that we could more easily relate to him and to learn what he wanted to teach the first century citizens….

God the Holy Spirit – … the spiritual presence of God constantly in our thoughts and minds…

To me these words pretty well sum up the three person concept of God but I am going to stretch this some so as to probably make some of my Christian friends uncomfortable.

My brother-in-law sees God in nature but not so much in person and that is fine with me. I think all of us except for the most stubborn avowed atheists among us can see a divine presence in the order of nature. It is just too structured to be otherwise.  God, whatever form he is, created the world and his physical laws continue to maintain it. That being is God the Father

Was Jesus Christ the only being in human form used by God to teach us lessons in life. I personally doubt that he was. There have likely been several others but maybe not with the significance of Jesus. The “Son of God” was a commonly used phrase in Jesus’ times to indicate prophets and such. Even Roman rulers used that term to identify themselves.  I personally think of Jesus as the Son of God but can understand others who might think others also fit that title.

God the Holy Spirit is what is in each of us that innately tells us what is right and wrong. It is that presence that keeps us from doing things we know we should not do. The Holy Spirit is an important part of our souls. Does God continue to communicate with us via the Holy Spirit? I believe he does just as much today as he did two thousand years ago. It is just that we now manage to tune out those messages. Some religious institutions even go to the point of questioning whether our personal spiritual messages come from God or the devil. Some say that the Holy Spirit stopped giving us lessons when the last original apostle died.

I do believe in a triune God who is present in nature, in lessons taught, and within our personal beings. Past theologians have tried to make it mysterious but to me the concept of a triune God is really not that hard to understand…

No Raises Anymore….

December 5, 2014

Loyalty Concept.When’s the last time you heard of a millennial friend or relative getting a raise or a promotion in their current job, excluding a new degree or new job? Almost never, right? Employers rarely give raises anymore, outside perhaps a standard cost-of-living adjustment. If we want a new opportunity, we’re told we need a new degree or certification. Most often, we have to switch jobs.Job hopping is often the only way for us to move ahead. I know friends who are waiting a backlog of managers or supervisors who (might) retire in 5-10 years. The choice is clear: wait out a long retirement or force their hand by getting a different job.

SOURCE: Millennials: Don’t Quit; Take a Break & Recommit – Red Letter Christians.

The main topic of this article was not about raises but about pastors and churches. But the comment above from a millennial got my attention. Job hopping did occur in my world but it was usually the exception rather than the rule for at least the first two-thirds of my career. To hear that today’s crop of workers deem it a necessity in order to get a raise kind of shocked me.

I know the statistics bear out the fact that people don’t get raises anymore. The middle class of which most of us relish to be in has been shrinking since the Reagan years of trickle down mentality. When employees became liabilities to be shed instead of assets to be pampered, raises basically disappeared. They say that the average person will change jobs every seven years now.

Of course there will still be those entrepreneurs who will manage to find just that right thing to bring to market at just the right time. More power to them but we must realize that they make up a very thin slice of today’s workforce. We hear the mantra that small business is the backbone of our nation but small businesses employ much less than half the nation’s workforce.  The vast majority, as in the past, are in jobs with major corporations and those corporations have deemed it unnecessary to give their workers a slice of their ever increasing profits.

Some consider it a chicken/egg thing but living through this corporate change it isn’t to me.  The logic goes something like this.  Corporations don’t give raises to their employees because the employees are not loyal to those who pay their salaries. My peak earning years were in the 1970s through the 1980s and I saw a definite change in corporate mentality over that period of time. For the first half of my work life I was a proud employee of AT&T. I, and most of my co-workers were very loyal to the company. We all had a pretty strong healthcare plan and received a slice of the profits we generated. In years when the corporation made lower profits we willingly got smaller raises.  We were loyal to our company.

Then came 1980 where very conservative Republican started his presidency by firing all members of a national union and it continued to get worse from there. Employee loyalty evaporated over that decade due to a basic change in corporate mentality and that change continues to today. Is it possible to get back any level of the trust lost during those decades? Probably not….. and that is  truly sad…..

If Grace Is True…..

November 30, 2014

2014-11-30_07-48-26I didn’t consider this for many years. I actually thought my experiences rare. I was one of the chosen. I was special. Now I know the truth. God whispers his love in every ear. He isn’t interested in declaring his love to a select few. He doesn’t limit his presence to Vatican City, to the halls of seminaries, to the offices of preachers, or to church altars. God doesn’t restrict his communication to the Bible. He doesn’t confine his presence to any single denomination or religion. God speaks to all people, even when they’re not inclined to listen.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James “If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person”. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

These and many other words like them from Philip Gulley speak to my heart. I too have come to stubbornly recognized their truth.  God speaks to all people and no one group is his “favorite”. Like Mr. Gulley I was brought up to believe that all those other religions and even those versions of Christianity different from mine were all going to hell as we were the only ones who got it right. We were the chosen few that God selected to be with him for an eternity. All those others would leave this earth to an eternity of suffering and anguish.

It was kind of nice to think that at least we had it made and that our eternity was assured. But what about my good friend down the street who went to a different church than me? What about another friend who didn’t go to church at all! Would they suffer like nothing I could imagine? Why is God lacking mercy for them? These types of questions tormented me even as a youth.

Later in life I belonged to a Christian denomination that believed in a 100% literal Bible. To them God had absolutely nothing more to say about his relation to us. It was all in the Bible and nothing else could be added.  They seemed to be stifling God by saying that he does not speak to us today. That reminds me of the question a young child said in a recent post here. “Why does Jesus want us to talk to him when he says nothing in return?  The biblical inerrancy part troubled me even more. I read words in that document that seemed to say the opposite of what I was told was the absolute truth. When I started publicly voicing my questions I was figuratively shown the door. The clerical leader did not want me to poison his congregation with my heresy.

I have matured greatly as a believer in God since those years. I  see a God who loves us all and wants all of us to be with him. I finally see that no one has a lock on God and what he is…… We all have in wrong in one degree or another. No one can really know the unfathonable heart of God.  We are human, how can it be otherwise?

Shame On Us…….

November 28, 2014

2014-11-27_09-00-20“Now someone else has to choose between working and spending time with their family,” Fisher said. Kmart has said that it asks for volunteers to work on the holiday, but other workers, like Kekoa Wailehua from Hawaii, said that they have been explicitly told they cannot request off on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. The petition has almost 10,000 supporters.

SOURCE:  Why the poor can’t catch a break on Thanksgiving – The Week.

Shame on us vapid consumers for allowing this to happen. Why do we insist on others having to be away from their families on perhaps the most family oriented holiday of the year? Why is it so important to get that latest gadget at a slightly lower price maybe 12 hours earlier if it mean others have to give up that special day in order to serve you? Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

What if the corporations that forced their employees to come in on Thanksgiving found that no one came to their store? This condition is kind of like the drug epidemic that grips our nation. If the consumers would just stay away the problem would disappear. I hope at least the retailers are paying overtime pay for that day, but given the times that is unlikely. Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

I know I am just an old coot but I still remember when the vast majority of businesses were closed on Sunday. Sunday was meant for a day to be with your family and for some to attend church. Over the years one business after another gave up that day to make a few more bucks.  Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

Maybe it is just time to chuck the idea of family time together. Lord knows there is little time left for many of us, especially those forced to work two minimum wage jobs, during any given week. Shame on us for allowing this to happen.

Capitalism is a great engine to prosperity as long as it is taken in reasonable doses. When we allow it to take over our lives, especially our family lives, it needs to be reigned in. Why are those on the lower end of the economic scale forced to be away from their families on the one rare day that is meant for family?  Shame on us for allowing this to happen…..

 

Modern Day Prophets…

November 23, 2014

“Why does Jesus want us to talk to him if he never talks back to us?”…

May we empower, listen, learn and be led by this tribe of prophets. Maybe, just maybe, they will show us once again what it looks like to tangibly love God and neighbor

SOURCE:  Girls: The Hope of the Future | Jon Huckins | Red Letter Christians.

The quote above came from a four-year old daughter of the author of the article. The article was mainly about the most recent announcement of a young Pakistani girl receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. Jon Huckins thinks maybe she is a modern-day prophet who just might drag the future church into more actions and less doctrine. He holds hope for that and so do I.

Kids just don’t seem to know what is an “appropriate” question to ask. Earnest curiosity has not yet been driven out of them.  They have not yet been drummed with a strict religious doctrine that says you must believe things without question. To say that Jesus never talks to us is heresy in most Christian bodies.  But I know that I too frequently ask the same question and so did Mother Teresa during her long life of servitude to others.

We all think we would like for Jesus to come to us directly and talk to us but do we really?

Some people in many different religious circles have very different definitions of what a prophet is. Some think that prophesy ended when King Constantine put together our biblical text or maybe even before Jesus. To say that anyone who has come around since then is a prophet is simple nonsense to them But as usual I kind of have a different take on that.

Lets look at a simple non-sectarian definition of prophet:

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If a prophet is “an authoritative person who divines the future” then there can certainly be prophets around us today. Even the second definition does not preclude that possibility. You could say that anyone who interprets the will of God is a prophet, even me!!

I kind of think that anyone who tries to show us a better way to God is worthy of the moniker of prophet and that certainly should include all of us.

WarningAre we depriving our children of the ability to take risks in the future. Many of the things I did as a child would never happen today. Things like walking five blocks to school without an adult. Or discovering the mushroom plant four blocks from our house. Yeah maybe I fell out of a tree I was climbing there and fell on an iron picket fence doing some pretty serious damage but… I explored the neighborhood at the young age of 10 years old. About the only rule was that I had to be home for supper.

Are we over protecting our kids today? Are we doing them actual harm by trying to protect them from the “big bad world”?

Are we as adults just too fearful of the world ourselves to allow our children to see it in a different way?  We now seem to be totally absorbed with the idea of child abductions but in reality they are actually less prevalent now than they were in the 1970s and even the 1950s when I was growing up.

There are benefits to taking risks by thinking outside the box. It is one of the things that in the past has made us uniquely American. We were risk takers.  Are we stifling the next generation of out-of-the-box dreamers with our fears?

uRV 16554-EditThat is what you do when you are not doing your grown-up things. They allow you to at least for a while forget about the world around you.

I don’t have a direct source for this quote but it was from the NYPD Blue TV episode where Bobby Simone was dying. It was about his pigeon coops he maintained on the roof of his building in NYC.

I admit that now that I have access to streaming video I am sometimes a binge TV watcher.  I think I watched the entire nine seasons of NYPD Blue in a little over two month’s time last winter.  Got to do something to pass away all those wintry days. :)  While I am watching I keep my trusty iPad handy to write down quotes that get me to thinking about deeper things and this is one of those quotes.

We all need “clearing your head periods of time” where we shut out the outside world especially those grown-up things. For the last few years it has been making a micro-RV out of my old 1992 Chevy pickup.  The interior is just about completed now so next year it will be on to decorating the outside of my uRV. I will spend the upcoming winter months doing computer mock-ups of it.

This project is kind of like the “boat in the basement” on the TV show NCIS. Jethro spent hours working on the boat but never actually used it. My wife is just not a camper type person so if I use my uRV it will likely be in a Walden Pond type mode, that is by myself. But that is not a bad thing. We all need our alone time even away from our spouses.

We all need things that take us out of the world around us don’t we…