I am a normal bloke with variations in my situation and my physical body which make me in some ways less usual. I won’t go so far as to say un-normal but maybe I am. My guess is that this description might also be one you could give about yourself.
A number of things happened yesterday, some which seemed like I had no control over and others which it seemed like I had a lot of control over. It was, outwardly and inwardly just a day. It was Bastille Day, the day of French independence. I do not know much about how the French celebrate/ honor/ remember their independence day; I guess it’s a lot like those of use from the USA celebrate ours: a holiday for many, higher wages for those who work, picnics, family, fireworks. Maybe some overeating and overdrinking. I could easily check a search engine and find out. I am a tiny bit embarrassed I do not know. Fifty-eight years on the planet and I never thought much about it. I’ve known and remembered that it was Bastille Day since I was about fourteen. I was told about it in French class, a class taught by a woman from Belgium whose daughter was and is a friend of mine. I felt special in knowing about it. But have never, it seems, cared to know much about it. Interesting. Rather than doing five minutes of “research” now, however, I have something to do first. To write you.
I say I am writing to you because if you are reading this, I am writing to you. To you; and, I hope, for you. That is, I hope you get useful and good things from reading this journal. A journal which I intend to write for one hundred days. Not exactly climbing Mount Everest or putting on five putting on five pounds of muscle or making fifty grand. Something more modest. A daily journal where I start out where I am. Where I set out on where I want to go.
One hundred days is less than a third of a year. I have passed through entire blocks of a hundred days in which I could tell you about nothing specific that happened in them. I mean, I could guess, or try to find out from old calendars, paper or electronic. But to come up with what happened during a hundred days say a decade or year or twenty-three years ago: that would be tough. I find I do not remember periods. I do remember moments. I may not be able to tell you exact time, day, or place, but I can remember moments. If I think about a moment, I am often led to also think about others. You might call it daydreaming. You might be right. For me, remembering a moment, like when a friend of mine more than a handful of years ago now, while I was in the front passenger seat of her car, told me life was moments, that was the joy and hope she got from it, what could be experienced/ was experienced in a moment, was how she understood life to be. Was the best, the most, one could expect from life. The sun was shining, we were riding on an undulating road, really nice California suburbia on our left, protected wildland and a singular mountain on our right.
I have thought about her thought, about that moment, more than a few times, more that a few moments, in my life. It was/ is (I do not know if she still holds it) a life-philosphy, a life-understanding please do not think otherwise. It was a way of looking on life that she had come to. One she had observed, decided on, told herself, believed. The life she then lived. A life recognizing/ believing that there would be special moments in her and to enjoy, experience, live for those moments when they came; realizing, as she explained in the car that day, that they would undoubtedly pass.
I myself believe periods of greater joy, of hours, days, maybe even weeks or months are possible. I recall (dimly) experiencing such times. Maybe I think I recall them, want to recall them, and remember them so. No, I think they did happen. I hope they occurred. I want them to occur. I want hours, days, weeks, and months of undergirding joy.
Anyway, back to the moment.
Yesterday, the day of Jake independence from others and circumstance domineering my life not yet realized, was not a horrible day. It certainly had good in it. But it was not a great day. Not my best one. At my day job, where I work in customer service, I had two difficult customers who would not play by the rules because the rules, the company policies, did not suit them. Clearly both were used to getting their way. Both stayed nearly an hour pressing, pressing, pressing their cases. To me, to managers, to other managers higher up or more suited to what they want. The first one left without getting what she wanted. The second, in the end, got her way. Said she thought she might as well ask. She did much, much more than ask. She pressed and pressed, “nicely,” and with a smile, never raised her voice. But she kept pressing to talk to someone else until she got it. I am not going to judge and it is not my place to judge my managers’ decisions. I just didn’t like the whole back and forth. All the time it took in my life for those decisions to be made. Made by the customers to keep pressing; made by the mangers to in the last case to fold. Moments. It took a lot of moments in my life to work through, to go through, those discussions. I know I was being paid. I was not paid enough. My managers might/ probably disagree; certainly the company as a whole does, or else they would pay me more. My point, my thought, though is not there. It is in that a whole bunch of time was spent doing things I would rather not. The time spent was not, is not ever, the company’s time. It is always my time. My life, my moments. The company rents or leases my services and presence; they do not own me or my time.
Moments. Life is made up of moments in the sense of a collection of time. A collection of experiences. My friend is right on in that sense. My goal is not to have golden moments happen on an infrequent or only occasional basis but on a regular and habitual basis. I do not want life being the infrequent crumb droppings of a begrudging God; I want life being, specifically my life being, one in while I inhabit more of the moments of my life doing things more enjoyable or more lasting or more ultimately beneficial and sometimes being all three.
I’m on page three on my computer already of writing and it’s 5:53am. I don’t have work at my day job today (no offense to it but hurrah!) and could in theory keep writing. All day, really, if I want to. Except for grocery shopping and other errands and morning exercises for my lower back, eating, etc. Instead, I am going to put boundaries and limits, my own policies and rules, about the writing I am doing in this daily journal.
Here’s the plan:
-I’m allowing myself contractions. It’s a casual-but-I-hope meaningful piece of work I am writing. Not a text book.
-I write every day for a hundred days. One day’s writing (on this project) almost done.
-I will try to limit myself to one or two pages on successive days.
-Over the next few days, I’ll define specific goals for me to accomplish over the time period. If you don’t aim for something, you’re sure to hit it.
-I will not allow myself but the very lightest of editing. I have a habit of wanting things to be “perfect” (as if there is ever anything stably perfect in the long run). As if I were writing for the ages. Ha! As if. When you get down to it, I am, of course, writing for me. I mean, I am writing for you, the you who I hope reads this; and I am at the same time, and perhaps more fully, writing for me. It may turn out I am the only one to read this. If so, that is enough. I am enough.
-My plan is to write once; then, after the hundred days, come back and read the book once, correcting only necessary and glaring errors in grammar. Not all ideas (many ideas?) will be fleshed-out. Some of the days/ passages may be rough. I’m leaving them that way. The writing will reflect the day.
That’s about it except for the more to come. I hope you have a good day.
07-15-23 6:13amPDST. I’m out.
I often find the second time of doing something, the second day, the harder. Day one had excitement and newness about it; Day 2 asks the questions am I really going to do/ go through this? and will anyone care?
I care. I awoke at 4am so I would have time to write before my day job. (I keep saying day job because I also have another job, other work: that of LukeyoutheU. Also, the job and work of living.) Fortunately, I also have a shift that starts later on this particular, at 8am rather than 7. For those of you quick at math, that has given me an entire extra hour. I’m in that hour now.
Goals. I am reluctant to accept those imposed upon me by others, unless I agree with them; I like and sometimes even enjoy the ones I give myself. I have found, over the decades, from the intermittent attention I’ve given to such things, that my greatest successes have usually come from not telling anyone my goals. From telling them, sometimes, to others but only after the fact. If I announce them publicly, even when I am the one who set them, I feel that they are what I am being told to do rather than what I want to do. I want to do what I want to do. It is my life after all. I really do not want to be the plaything of others.
Goals. Concrete is good because the wiggle room is little. I can be a wiggler. I do not particularly want to be a wiggler but I have been one. Sometimes. Working on reducing my wiggling to the absolutely necessary rather than the merely convenient.
Goals. If you don’t aim at something you’re sure to hit it.
-to write every day for the next ninety-eight on this project, moment.
-to not eat at In-n-Out for at least the next 100 days.
In-n-Out is a California staple. It is a beloved burger and fry shot. The people working there are always helpful and nice; customers can see into the kitchen and all the people bustling around on their behalf; the restaurants are always clean; the stores are all arranged essentially (exactly?) the same, so that no matter where an In-n-Out is, you know how it looks and is arranged on the inside.
Besides that: the burgers are good. The options are few (they really pretty much just sell burgers, fries, shakes, and sodas); if you are in the know, you can order fries in the red or to have your burger cooked animal style.
I love treating myself to a number 2.
a cheeseburger, tomato, sauce (I ask for no onion)
a soda (a fountain soda that you fix)
It’s simple, reliably tasty, and always the same. Comfort food maximus.
Therein lies the problem. At least for me. I go there not for my health but for my comfort. It was two days ago that I last went. I had originally planned on going straight home after my day job. But my day job had pockets of unusual (and unnecessary, in my opinion) stress. I responded decently but not brilliantly during them. I again thought how I was not paid enough. Driving down the freeway, on my way home, I talked myself into stopping by the old In-n-Out. If I went a way home that took a little longer, was a little out of my usual way, I would go pass on. Only, as you guess, I did not pass by it this time. I went in.
There is nothing wrong with a burger and fries. Unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian or for any other reason thing eating cow meat is wrong. Then it is wrong to have one. Because you think so. A burger and fries, that combination of savory and salty tastes wonderful.
I find the memory of the taste is better than the actual taste itself but that’s something to talk about another time.
A burger, fries, and a soda are not so good for me, not for me personally, however. They are not catastrophic. But they do not aid me in where I tell myself I want to go.
On this day, as I have for the past two times I’ve stopped by and eaten at this In-n-Out in the past two (!) weeks, I also ordered a chocolate shake. Yes, a shake in addition to the soda.
“You’ll be wanting the shake instead of the coke－” the polite and efficient cashier asked me when I made my order. I had my chance but I did not take it.
“No, I’ll have the shake and the soda.” Who was I showing off to? Why did I want to show off? How in the world was this showing off, that I could supposedly handle all the added sugar?
Who was this kid to tell me I couldn’t have both, pay for both, consume both, the chocolate shake and the soda?
I act like a knucklehead sometimes. This was one of those occasions.
Nothing wrong with a shake, nothing wrong with a soda. In many, most (?) cases. But my eating them was working against the goals I had.
I note that I dutifully drank all the shake and all a soda and another half a soda as well. Not only that, but I ate not only the original fry order but went back and got another.
“Fries in the red, please.”
They are quick in delivering fries-only orders. I just waited at the counter after ordering.
So: not only did I have
-the protein of which is fatty with the bad kind of fat, saturated fat
-the bun of which is highly processed (tasty, but processed) add carbs but not fiber
-a Coke for the first found, half a Dr. Pepper for the second; nothing but flavored sugar. I might as well be pouring white sugar down my throat
-not one serving, but two; potatoes, being high in oxalates, are no so good for me as I have had an oxalate kidney stone before, and do not want another
a chocolate shake
-they are small and not very chocolatey but still I suffered through it, sucking it through the straw until it make that gurgling noise which says no more; the shakes at Coldstone Creamery (I happen to know) are much more chocolatey and in my book better); more sugar down the throat
The food was tasty. It was reasonably priced. I had the money. No one was waiting for me at home. I had the time. Had had a bit of a bad day at work. Felt I deserved it. Was happy not to fix my own meal for a change.
But eating it was satisfying the immediate goal of feeling good and the additional one of treating myself. Stopping at In-n-Out, doubling down on my added sugar intake with both 1.5 sodas and a shake, increasing my risk of a future kidney stone, having a high-calorie but not super nutritious meal, were not working towards my long term goals but against them.
Feeling good for the moment but taking away from feeling better, living more healthily and happily, in the future.
That’s why I have to stop eating at In-n-Out. I can’t seem to help myself, moderate my behavior, once I’m in there. I could have gotten the burger protein style (no bun), milk instead of a soda, no shake, one fries. Instead, I doubled down. If I was going to In-n-Out, and I did, I was going to go whole hog. And I did. Oink oink.
-more muscle, less fat
-limited, low, maybe no added sugar. I tiptoed into pre-diabetes in the last half year and do not want to go further. In fact, I want to pull back. My stopping at In-n-Out did not help.
It can be easy for me to make decisions in my better moments. It is easy. It’s when I’m not feeling good that I break down.
-do what I can to put myself into situations where I feel good
-learn and better manage the times (and there will inevitably be times) when I do not feel so good.
You would think that at fifty-eight I would have this under control by now. You would be wrong.
Still I have hope for today, and tomorrow.
No In-n-Out for the next ninety-eight days. Let’s see where that takes me. Us.
I’m off to my day job.
Today, as the title above so cleverly describes, is haircut day. It is, for me, in this period of time, a long-awaited day. I have been wanting to get one for three weeks but today is the first day the stars aligned
There are certain factors I feel the need to assemble for me to get my haircut: a haircutter I trust to do a good job (stylist is too grand a word in this case); their availability; a good price; close location; first-appointment availability; no other day job or personal commitments at time. Today, for the first time in three weeks, everything is a go.
From the time Covid19 first hit, I grew my hair. I would let it grow as long as shoulder-length before I’d get it trimmed. It was an experiment with a different look. I received a number of comments over those months/ years, some of them complimentary. I liked saving money and time by not needing to go and get my haircut; I liked having the different experience of having long hair. Feeling it on my neck, running my hand through it.
I also found out the work that long hair takes. I’d thoroughly clean it about once a week; the shower drain became nearly blocked, the strands refusing to allow the water to pass. It took a lot longer than short hair to dry. As far as styling there was not much to be done. Long hair was hot and bothersome in the summer. But, by far, the thing that bugged me the most about long hair was that I would find it everywhere. Long, sometimes curled worms of it would be seemingly everywhere. I am someone who likes things neat. It was my bound duty to pick up every hair whenever I saw it. I felt like everywhere I turned more hair. Somewhere I heard we lose about a hundred hairs a day and I believe it. I shudder to think of the ones I did not see, that could potentially clog my vacuum.
Of course, at least of course for me, if the hair had produced the desired effect (hoards of compliments) or affect (building in me boundless inner self confidence), I might have kept it. The thing was: long hair did not look good on me. I wanted it to make me different, brave, strong, sexy. Instead, the best I got was the first, different. And different I can be, am, without it.
On the phone with a friend from LA one day, I sent him a pic of my new style. He said he thought long hair aged me. I looked at the photo. I agreed. Within a week (when the stars aligned) I got it chopped off. Back to short hair for me.
It was a sobering and paradoxically light-hearted decision. Sobering because I realized I would likely never have long hair again ever in my life; sobering because I had long wanted before to try it and now had, only to find it no good for me. Other guys can carry it off. Not me. Light-hearted because, whew, I would no longer need to pick up the squirrelly worms all day long. And also resolved. I now knew I had only versions of short hair for my future. Sometimes fewer choices is a good thing.
You may be wondering how, since I don’t want long hair, I stood having hair grow past its cutting time. It’s a little secret called scissors. I found if I just cut the hair from over my ears, I felt okay with its growing. I cleared the area twice in the past two weeks.
There is a bigger thought, a greater layer to this thinking: why bother with how I look, with how my hair is cut and (again, probably too grand a word) styled? No one at my day work would say a thing pretty much whatever I did or did not do with it. (An advantage of not having a high-paying job.) I bother because how I look can and does affect how other people treat me. I would rather be treated well than poorly. If/ when I look as good as I reasonably can, people respond to me in more friendly and accommodating ways than when I dress sloppily.
This may not, for whatever reason, be your experience. It has been mine. Maybe it has been mine for long enough, often enough, at least I perceived it as such enough times, that it has become what I believe. What I unconsciously accept and act on as truth.
Maybe I perceive that people respond to me better when I take care of my physical appearance, ascribe to expected social norms, and that that perception is the difference not their actions and attitudes themselves.
I do not know. I don’t know know know. Where does my perception end, the results of my actions end?
Climinging out of the rabbit hole: short hair works for me. Today I am getting it cut.
Also on today’s agenda: not going to In-n-Out. Also, writing and editing the LukeyoutheU website. Time to get that done, or at least ready more.
Peace out. Not sure exactly what that means.
The haircut was a brilliant success. I had called the day before to confirm the hair- cutter-I-wanted’s schedule; the shop does not take appointments but rather has a cue online so I arrived before it opened; was the first in line; got it and out with a cut I like. I am appreciative of the work my stylist does and in her kind manner in doing so.
Once home, a shower and double-hair wash to clear out all the excess hair. Once I’d started on my beauty (good luck to me) routine, I kept doing, and cut off other excess hair including in my ears. This may be too much info. My point in writing it that once I’m on a theme, there are many times I continue it. Getting haircut→ taking care of my overall appearance.
Likewise, my 100 day abstention from In-n-Out (96 days to go) has also, thus far, led to other not-great-for-me abstentions: I passed by a too-familiar Del Taco and Donut King en route to the hair cuttery. Did not go in them or order from them. Or, even, look at them. No In-n-Out→ also not going to other fast foods. (For yesterday, at least.)
I’m not saying I’m every day going to look my best; I’m not saying that I’m never going to a fast food restaurant ever again in my life. I am saying that getting my hair cut and deciding, committing, to not going to In-n-Out tend, for me, to have spillover positive effects. If I commit to too much, I have noticed I frequently fail, and sometimes fail big. If I commit to the specific, a specific, it tends to help me across like categories.
It’s a directional thing, this life, a process; not so much a one-and-done.
Processes, like the earth spinning, the cycle of oxygen creation and use on it, are a continual, continuous, necessary, truer picture of life than the idea that any thought, action, thing, idea, is wholly separate and independent from another. Everything is connected. If that is too much for you to take in, which it usually is for me, just realized the connections/ interconnections that you can.
For me, getting a haircut is about taking care of myself physically; doing the best that I can with the physical body and other resources I have got; showing the world that I care about myself and, by extension, them, as they are the ones that get to/ have to look at me when I’m in their sight.
The better (I think) I look, the better I feel; the better I feel, the better I think other people treat, take care of, respect me. Do they take better care of me because I look (in my own eyes) better or because I am emanating a better, more positive vibe?
I don’t know. It doesn’t, in the end, matter. Both? When I look good, I feel good, I am treated, forgive the English, good.
That’s been my observation and practice over these nearly sixty years. You will have your own.
I also yesterday, after my daily writing, haircut, self-care, home maintenance, paying bills, decided, on a lark, to catch a movie. A showing starting twenty minutes after I looked meant I had time to get there, buy popcorn, and be seated during the previews, before the movie itself began. I like buying my ticket online and just before the movie starts: that way, I can see how crowded the theater is. If it’s too crowded, I will not then go. I have too often sat near others either speaking during the movie about the action occurring (no way!, watch out, you’ve got to be kidding me!), commentary that I do not want to hear as I am experiencing the movie, commentary which pulls from my own experience into theirs; or eating so noisily, or sloppily, as to be off-putting. No thank you.
Many people go to the movies with others; I very much prefer to go to the movies alone. I do, contrarily, appreciate it when there are others in the same theater as I am. I like the general oohs and aahs that occur with an audience present, the felling of being-in-this-together. I just do not want anyone with five seats or two rows.
The movie that I saw yesterday was an action flick, part of an ongoing, decades-long series, that I had been wanting to see. It did not disappoint. Lots of action but more importantly a decent, solid (as solid as such imaginary things can be) plot.
I think about movies, I enjoy movies, I enjoy thinking about movies and will get to that, including some whys, possibly tomorrow. Let’s see what the today and tonight bring first. I will say this, a thought new to me: we talk about film, cinema, motion pictures as movies because movies are made up of many images passing in some orderly fashion one after another to tell a story. The emphasis is on their, on the movies, that they are that which is moving. But is it not also we who do the moving also? To get to the viewing space, to focus our eyes and ears on the images and sounds before us. It is the viewer who is synchronizing ourselves with the movie in front of us that allows us to receive the movie. Movies move and so do we.
Of course, we’re all moving, continuously, even if we’re sitting still. We’re moving even though it does not feel like we are: we are on a spinning globe and move with it. We’re also moving internally, our lungs pulling in and pushing out air, our hearts pushing around a racetrack blood, our minds considering whatever they are, even if it is nothing, because even nothing is a thing.
I’m glad you’re on this adventure. I hope you are too.
Yesterday I suggested that it was not only a movie that was appearing to move but also we viewers who were moving also, synching to the movie. I wonder if that’s not the same that we do to anything/ anyone we resonate with. Synch to it; become a part of it; give-and-take with it/ them.
Wayback among my earlier lives (back when I was in my earliest twenties) I worked as a Christian youth worker with prep school kids in Manhattan. That was a long time ago. One of the things my coworker would talk about is low-content shared experience: she was talking about the time she and a student would see a movie together. The movie gave them a story in common that neither had (seemingly) direct involvement with but could then talk about. It was like neutral territory.
I would now consider movies not low-content but pop-culturally influencing content. Movies always have within them a story, perhaps a few. A story, stories, always carry within them a point, points of view. Implicitly. They cannot but. In the movie theater, typically in comfortable seats, often with high salt and/ or high sugar foods, surrounded by the sounds of others engaged in their lives and situations, talking about them, showing them to you in larger proportion, bigger size, than you’d normally see, up there on the big screen, filling a disproportionate portion of your eyes’ view; you have willinging and typically excitedly placed yourself open and wanting to take in what is dished out. No wonder movies are for many, most?, engrossing experiences.
A story is played out, pushed forward, willing suspense of disbelief is made, money has been handed over to feel and see what someone else, the writer, producer, director, actor, each of the other support people, thinks.
The viewer has thrown themself into a position where they are open. Where they want to be taken away from who they usually tell themselves they are to imagine, inhabit, become an observer, or participant, in someone else’s story. Experiencing the participation with someones’ elses minds.
I love movies. Not all of them, of course; perhaps not even many or most of them. But those that are well thought-out/ designed/ crafted, that have a point of view intriguing to me or at least novel to me, wow. They expand the experience of my life.
Right now, this past decade or so, I have been, even more than before, drawn to science fiction and science fantasy. I appreciate them because, in showing me the strange and alien, the non-usually physically experienced in my everyday world, they get me past my hands-on experience to ideas. Ideas and themes of what-could-be.
And is that not where we always are? I think we tend to think that what is is permanent, lasting, solid, true, real. But was is permanent, lasting, true, real is the change, the motion, that we personally, socially, communally, physically, whole-worldly are always going through. We are always moving, traveling, from the what is to the what could be which becomes the what is and serves a lifting-off place for the next could be.
Now I get ready for and go to my day job. And what could be
07-20-23 5:16am PDST
I face one as I write you today: I want to get in my back exercises before I go to my day job, and there are other personal duties to perform before as well. I could push off the exercises until I get home from that work; but what good what that do. The benefit of the exercises is to put my body into great working order for the day. I have also committed to writing daily. There are other projects, namely LyU and expanding (starting) my muscle-building exercise routine, that I want to do after I’m back from my day work. I will do them all. Today’s writing will be brief. I’m facing deadlines, as you have surmised, ones of my own making; and I have other ones due at the job.
I had not known definition two until reading it just now but I had thought about the formation of the word deadlines. I presumed it came from dead and line. A figurative or physical line past which one would die. I did not imagine it came from such a literal place. In my life, I have experienced a life where deadlines are frequently moving targets; they change if need or opportunity arise. A “true” deadline, I had thought, did not really exist—a line if crossed where one would be dead. I sit corrected. An escaping prisoner who was liable to be shot could become a dead easily enough.
I set myself deadlines frequently. Often, I do not meet them. I do not tell you this with pride. I imagine myself the king of my domain, the master of my ship, the controller of my destiny, that my word is law, at the very least, to me. I am often shown by result that I am wrong. Life, in the form of weather, other people, my mood, new information, being tired, often intercedes. It would not always (often?) have been good, I later realize, for that particular deadline to have been met.
An example is me getting done what needed to be done personally earlier (considering the schedule of the day ahead, looking at emails, ablutions, weighing myself and recording it and associated stats) and knowing I wanted to get in my back exercises, make my breaks’ meal and snacks, apply sun screen, get dressed, after writing. If I had decided to storm ahead with my deadline to get writing by such and such a time (4:40am) I would have missed
In conclusion (because time is drawing short, not because my argument is shot proof) deadlines I find very useful when they are. Sometimes being shot does not mean one is necessarily caused to die. What we do and the way we do them makes differences not only in our experience but in the results. There will be a dead line at the end, one in which the “shot” does kill us memento mori. Isn’t it cool to work towards something, and sometimes under pressure? Pressure sometimes produces diamonds.
After the most modest of efforts today, I find myself in an even worse time crunch this morning. Yesterday, I cut down my back exercises down to their bare minimum. I performed one set of each for the lowest recommended period of time, and the fifteen seconds I did each were fast seconds, if you know what I mean.
And I had a pretty good day. In other words, it all worked out fine.
Still, I dislike being in a rush for fear that it necessitates doing something or everything poorly. The resolution I have come to on this is that sometimes it does. Sometimes external pressure, be it time or another (social, economic, political, etc) has coerced me into freaking out and performing less well than I know I might, being, feeling less well; and sometimes it brings me, assists me to getting to a place, to acting and doing what I intend well. Sometimes the pressure has brought brings diamonds. But not always.
Internal pressure, the pressure that I apply to myself, some would probably argue is the only actual pressure. I am not convinced. Internal, self-applied force, need, urgency, importance is often a factor, that I grant you. But it comes down in my mind to this: external, internal, though they can and often, even usefully are, identified as separate are both part of the same. An expression of life. One pushes more strongly, makes itself most know to or even the focus of one’s consciousness; but the other is still existent, and lurking, being, working in the often-maybe-usually stronger part of the whole that we are, our unconsciousness.
There is always external and internal pressure; there is alway pressure; there are always things going on inside and outside of us that have effects on us. Ships, houseboats on the river, the sea, of life. Held up by the pressure of the structure on the water as long as there are no holes. I guess the lesson in that analogy is to remain whole.
Sometimes one course of action, sometimes another is the better way to go. I do not now the full ramifications of my thoughts and actions; all I can work with (and it is no small amount) is what I think I know. What I think at the time is the better course. The smarter and more loving action, decision to make and carry out. As I move forward, or at least continue to move, that becomes the past, and I look for the better in it.
I wonder if this will make any sense once I read the hundred days over and lightly edit. If, then, it will make any sense to anyone but me. I do not know. What I do know is that I go forward, trying, doing my best as I can in the moment.
I have enough time to do my back exercises for longer, probably better, today.
I’m starting late today because I allowed myself to sleep in. As it turned out, my body awoke before my normal wake-up time; I was, fortunately, able to go to sleep again, eventually waking up forty-five minutes after my usual hello, baby, it’s daylight time. So I started the day later, which pushed back my usual morning routine. Without a deadline in front of me, I did each of my back exercises (there are fifteen, thirteen prescribed by the physical therapist, two more I added) for longer and more of them. I feel good. Better than when I do the short version of them? Not sure. But still good. My routine includes a bunch more things than the back exercises but they take up, in their longer form, the most of the the time.
Here comes TMI (too much information): today I chose to wear my The Flash underwear. I want to get a whole heck of a lot of things done. I realize I can move in possibly no way as quickly as he can; I can evidence the core of his power, however. I can do what needs to be done fully/ well in each of the steps of my day. He goes supersonic and pushes aside bullets so they don’t hit people; I can make sure the emails and texts that need to be and I want to return are done in a timely manner. That could mean today. It could mean another. If the latter, I put it on my calendar.
Time, on the whole, I try to pay attention to. I do not like to be late. Being late without a warranted cause and habitually I consider unnecessary and rude. It is, to me, an opportunity missed. When people set a time to meet and do something, it allows both parties, individually, to consciously and unconsciously prepare, be ready, for the coming together. It allows both all the time between the making of the appointment, and the keeping of it, to: gather, consciously and unconsciously, information, facts, and experience; for both parties to be ready for the blessed event. The event of two people, two minds, two histories and experiences, two beings to further their relationship and expand their knowledge. And/ or their fun.
I have friends, dear friends among them, who do not think or live this way. They believe the best time to be together is when it happens. When it feels good to them individually, the time on the clock not important. I think they are missing out, that they are not taking advantage of humankind’s greatest inventions (time, specifically the measurement, standardization of our marking of it), that they are serving their own purposes and feelings not so much the other person’s. They, likely, consider me rigid and, possibly, old fashioned. They might argue that they want to be their best, their most when we meet and the only measure they have of them is their feelings or circumstance at the time. I think I understand their perspective. I happen to disagree.
Arranging a time to meet with them is a bit of a crapshoot (a back-alley game of chance). Sometimes, both of us are in good moods whenever it happens, glad to be hanging out together. If the other person, in deference to my desires, works hard to meet at the agreed time, sometimes meeting it, other times not, it is clear, they sometimes make it clear, they have worked hard to try to please me. It is obvious that appointment keeping is, on their part, an effort. If the other person operates as they usually do, as the whim/ situation/ circumstance/ their feelings/ their spirit directs them regardless of the minutes or hours on the clock, I am usually put out. Bugged. I arrange my day around the time schedule/ appointments I have made; I organize and work towards those times together. I look forward to them. When someone shows up late, at any old time, I feel put out. My time, I have been dishonored. So I think.
The practical result of these variances of beliefs/ understandings about time is that I love them still (and, seemingly, they me); we do not get together as often as we might. Doing so requires both parties to work against their belief about how the better life works. I applaud and encourage them to do what they believe best, of course. They are seeking to live life fully as they understand it. So am, do, I. It just means that we are not often in the same worlds.
It’s kind of sad, meaning, I feel sad about the situation. But in the economy of life, perhaps it is the better thing. Better for them and better for me. Better for them because they are doing, living, as they think/ feel best, and experiencing the fruits that come from that. Better for me because I sometimes place too many of my expectations on people, something I do not have the right, authority, or ability to do. Better for me because it allows me to remain in friendship with them; to enjoy being with them when our stars align; to work on my life, on LukeyoutheU. I experience the fruits of my beliefs.
I did not expect today’s writing to go as it has.
The anniversary of my father’s birthday was yesterday. We would have been 89 but his time passed some years ago. His time physically on this earth passed but memories of him remain and invigorate.
One such memory is his joy in paying bills. He loved paying bills. He would literally rub his hands together in his excitement of it. He figured it this way: he had received or would soon receive the goods and services which he was about to pay for. He was the one who decided to purchase them in the first place (except for taxes, which he was for some reason not a big fan of. Strange, in my thinking, because of all the good taxes did for him. I am not being sarcastic).
He delighted in paying bills because he had the money to pay them. He and my mother, and, later, he and my stepmother, made sufficient money to pay their bills and a bit more besides. They worked hard and long in the business they had begun, maintained, and grew; and reaped solid rewards. They treated their employees fairly and respectfully; the people who worked for them did at least as well and in some ways better than those performing the same duties in like businesses.
Much more a practical than philosophical man, I never talked with my dad about his role, the role he had created, in the social and economic world in which he lived. Talking about things theoretically was just not his thing.
He also delighted in paying bills, I theorize, because he liked being part of a system that worked. One that, at least, worked from his perspective. You receive this, you pay that.
I appreciate very much his attitude. I also enjoy paying bills though I have not yet reached his almost glee. I hope to. I write only one or two checks a month but check my various balances at least, I’d say, once daily if not two or three times. I do find satisfaction in having credit card balances of zero when I can get them to that. I do enjoy have some bucks in the bank.
I do not know if he would think of things in the way I’m about to describe them or not. He might or might not agree with my ideas. Regardless, I think about buying for goods and services as a fortunate action I am able to do. I am glad for the work that has gone into thinking of, designing, financing, material resource procuring, manufacturing, transporting, presenting, selling a t-shirt that I like. A lot goes into a t-shirt. Many of the products that you and I buy have had tens of people working on them, involved in getting that product to you. It is great to benefit from their work and expertise. If I like the final product enough to buy it, I should certainly pay for it.
Money is like blood, the channels goods and services go through like veins: for their best operation there needs to be flow. The willingness and work that is necessary like the beating of a heart. I receive blood not to keep it forever, not to hoard it away, but to give and pay back and pay forward. To help sustain the human system which helps me is so many, many ways.
As before mentioned, my dad did not particularly enjoy paying taxes. He did pay his taxes, let me make it clear, fully and faithfully but not joyfully as he paid his other bills. I was often struck by this incongruity. A sizable portion of my dad’s customers received, in one form or another, financial assistance from the government. Which then allowed those customers the funds to buy the services and goods my father sold. The financial assistance they received came from the taxes he paid. Taxes, including the taxes of many others, helped support my dad’s business. His income. Without the financial assistance his customers received, my dad would not have done as nearly as well. We are all part of a system. That system certainly can be improved, needs to be improved, is not perfect; that system includes not only government but businesses large, small, and gigantic; not everyone has the same ability but all (I think) should have a decent if modest life regardless of their ability. That means those who gain the most from the system, those with the most, should pay by far the most in percentage and actual amounts in taxes. That’s how I make sense of things. That makes sense to me.
In the biggest picture: we all take (breath, food, the accumulated knowledge and work of the generations before us). It is smart for all of us to give. And be happy to do so. To be happily willing to pay because we have received far more, receive this day, today, more, than we could ever have earned ourselves alone, or repay.
I’m off, after expedited back exercises, to my day job.
My schedule today allowed me some flexibility and I took advantage of it. I have already worked a couple hours on the LukeyoutheU website this morning, opting to follow my enthusiasm. Not that I’m unenthused by this project.
I’m back! is true but not the subject of this morning’s writing. Instead, the subject is my back, that is, the rear surface of my body from my shoulders to my hips and, in particular, the spine, muscles, and ligaments therein. My earlier writing, really the sitting I did while writing, has brought back a too-frequent ailment: an aching lower back. Even now, after just this last sentence, I had to stand up and stretch. Boy that felt good. But only temporarily so.
To alleviate the pain, to ameliorate the situation, I went to physical therapy. The helpful therapist gave me twice daily exercises to complete. I do them once a day. Or, should I say, I do them nearly every day; and have not gotten to them yet today. The longer in the day I wait to do them, the less likely I am to do at all. On a logarithmic scale. At say noon, chances are even that I will not do them. By three or four, forget it. I decide I’ll do them the following day.
There’s a line in Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi that goes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and that for sure is my case regarding prolonged sitting and my back. I would at time spend two, three, more hours sitting in one stretch (but without a stretch haha) without getting up. Often I was working on the LyU website or LyU writing; sometimes I was surfing the net or playing other games. An hour, two, more would pass like <insert here the snapping of my fingers>.
No longer. An hour in I feel it. An uncomfortable ache usually accompanied by an onset of weariness. I have to get up. To stand up and tall. Eight months, six months ago it became unbearable. Pretty much acute. I could move but only stiffly; it hurt much of the time no matter what actions I took or didn’t. I got the referral from a doctor to join the world of PT. The therapist gave me exercises. My back felt better. I was careful in what I did, lifted. I went back to check in and got additional exercises. What I had done daily before and new ones. My back felt better still. Feels good, usually, has no pain. Except when I don’t do my exercises. Except when I sit for too long (twenty-five minutes?) without standing up. Stretching. Today, I have done neither my exercises nor enough standing up and moving. My back is letting me know it.
Without a fully working back you are in tough shape, or, at least, I am in tough shape. So many things I want to do I cannot. Sit for a long time, for one. Carry heavy objects, for another. Fell young and independent, for a third.
Physical Therapy has made all the difference. I now usually feel no aching, no pain. Only when I do not take care of my back. It is letting itself be known/ remembered/ cared for by me.
The thing is I want to work on the website, I want to sit at the keyboard and write. Maybe I should get a standing desk? Now I’m under the clock. On a deadline.
About this situation, about these developments, about this frequently-part-of-getting-older I want to complain. I want to moan. I have been tempted to give up my dreams, goals, calling.
But I’m too smart for that. I have been in similar situations before in my not-brief life, situations where a body part had failed, broken, made itself known, worked on them, and come back full, better. Come back either to such a full recovery that I consciously think of the issue no more; or made the lifestyle changes necessary to mitigate or remove the issue. Examples: infections between my big and second toe, left foot; knees strained/ sprained from over-lifting weights; childhood degenerative hip bone disease; crooked teeth. You get the picture.
I expect adjusting to my lower pain sensitivity will continue the need for specific exercises and habits. Maybe for the rest of my life.
Here is why and how that is good. Here is why and how I am going to make my lower back situation good.
I do not need/ want to be always at my desk typing. I’m not a slow typist though I certainly could use increased speed. But I would, in the past, spend hours and hours writing, typing, editing, retyping, typing again. I am not going to live forever. If I am fortunate, I have forty more years. I’ve heard from two people in their eighties that they wished they were again in their sixties (because of their slower and current-possibly-life-lasting physical conditions). That gives me maybe twenty-five more active years. All this as long as I do not contract a debilitating disease or have an accident. That nothing else befalls me which would truncate my life. I want/ need to, am going to write; typing, not dictating, not hand-writing, not video-creating is the most efficient/ better way for me to write; I need to sit (maybe stand) to do it.
The solution: type less. That probably does not mean my writing production will go down. In fact, I need and want to write-by-way-of-typing more! I have many books I want to write. So the amount of creative, first-though writing will increase. The area where I can reduce my typing, need to reduce my typing, is in editing. I will not be able to go over and over and over again each piece or most pieces or maybe any piece. I’ll have to, will, become a bit more succinct, and certainly clearer, about what I intend to write before writing it. And become a better typist. Fewer errors. Which means paying more attention. Learning tighter skills.
I think I can do these things, take these actions. I think I can, which is the lifting-off place for I can, which is the rocket which when launched becomes I am, which as done takes me to places wanted and new.
Oh this is not a flawless practice. There will be accidents and explosions, days when writing will not be done. There will probably be Apollo 1 and Challenger disasters. But I will be back here and writing, regardless. The will becomes the way. I will be until I am not, and at that time I won’t be doing anything else either.
SO my lower back pain is good. It’s causing me to move forward, to not dilly-dally, to improve my craft and skill. To write better from the get-go. To become more efficient. To be more bold and brave as my editing often dilutes the strengths of my originals.
That’s making lemonade out of lemons. (Which requires a ton of sugar, by the way, something not so great for long term health in its added forms.)
But there is another level, another factor, another desire which my lower back pain is pushing, pulling me towards: getting back to exercising. Not only getting back to exercising but learning to exercise better than I have ever before. That’s where I’m headed.
As someone approaching sixty (!), it may be/ is unusual for someone to think about building more muscles, about becoming more healthy. But that’s where I am. What I am doing. Having now usually set aside time daily for back exercises, I am introducing other muscle and flexibility exercises. Learning them from reputable guides.
My back, which at first set me back, has now become a springboard to not only let me get back, but to step quickly, to pull me forward. It the two specific areas of my life that I have most wanted to advance in: my writing and my health. I’m not regularly making desserts (a nod to sugary lemonade); I’m daily eating more nutritious meals.
To be clear, I don’t expect to be “perfect” in this or any endeavor. There will be days when I won’t. Yesterday, yikes! If you saw what I ate…
But that was one afternoon. The trend is still going forward.
One more thing about backs: when I think abstractly of a back, of a spine, I associate it with having a strong back, being strong. I also associate it with standing tall, having confidence. My lower back situation has helped me to be more conscious of my back. To slouch less; to stand more upright; to pull my stomach in.
Also, to stand up for myself. Whatever I writer is not going to be perfect. Parts might, if I’m lucky, get close. But, overall, someone, perhaps many, are going to find faults. I’m going to see in rereading how I would write things this way now. Better. Regardless of others, or my future and past self, though, my lower back is helping to remind me to do what I can when I can. And to know that is good. Maybe not as theoretically good as I can. But good enough. Good enough so I can go on writing and thinking more; adding, I hope and intend, more good.
You guessed it: I’m off to do my back exercises.
It was with a sense of wonder and a giggle of joy that an old friend of mine, way back in our college days, would pick out the lint from my belly button. Inexplicably, it would gather; intermittently she’d ask about it and want to pick it out. It was, they were, the gathered lint and her delight in picking them out, funny things. I imagined that my innie belly button, behaving like a sea anemone, gathered the fibers from my shirts and clump them together for some purpose? For the fun of it? I am still not sure that I understand why/ how. My belly hairs tentacles?
Possibly/ probably because I trim I no longer have hairs in my button. We, also, live far away from one another. We see each other only rarely. Maybe the lint will have returned when we again in person meet.
Last week, the earphone jack on my iPhone stopped working. It had become progressively temperamental in the months before; I had had to twist the jack to establish contact for phone conversations and music listening. It had gotten to the point where I first confirmed I could hear through the wired earbuds music before I phoned. I assumed if I could hear so could the person on the other end of the line. That was not always the case. Sometimes I could hear them but they could not hear me. I was reminded of bad phone connections, people saying loudly can you hear me? as depicted in old movies. It was a bother to me and to those with whom I spoke. I will say that they were gracious about it.
Last week, as I said before, the jack stopped working. I use my iPhone for many, many more purpores than only making phone calls, phone calls are but a small percentage, but if the phone aspect of it did not work than the whole iPhone was essentially worthless to me. It would be time to buy another. The phone I have now, a 6Splus, is the third I have had of the same model. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it; but, more than that, I like it. I am used to it. I want a button on the bottom in the middle to push. I do not want facial ID. I own it whole. It and its predecessors have been my faithful companions for seven years. I have spent more time during those years interacting with it than any other piece of machinery or furniture except my bed. I am often asleep when I’m on my bed. I hope not the same when on my iPhone. Though scrolling records might prove otherwise. I have interacted with it perhaps, and this is a bit scary to think of, more than with all the people I have interacted during the same period of time. If that ain’t a revelation.
I was resigned but ready to get a new iPhone if necessary. Had looked at the current models. Knew that my current phone would soon not be able to accept software updates. Did not look forward to the effort in deciding on a new one, expense, changeover, learning new habits of swiping, getting air buds or jerry-rigging a wired earbuds workaround. But that’s life. Sometimes, you gotta roll with it. Work it around in your mind until you find a way to see the change as in your favor.
Then, on a facetime with my family, using said 6Splus iPhone, wired earbuds after I confirmed I could hear and be heard, my brother suggested what I, honestly, had thought of earlier that day: maybe it's lint. Maybe lint has gotten in there, just as lint had about a year ago made its way into the power cord plugin. Same situation there: unreliable connection making me confirm the battery was being recharged and replugging it in, sometimes again and again, until it was. Same concerns with getting a new iPhone as with potential ear jack failure.
It was lint that time; and it was lint, again, this. The repair guys got it cleaned out in a few minutes. Neither, for the power or the ear buds jacks, charged me.
What’s this got to do with life? Well, at the least, it’s a part of it. Life has lots and lots of little things, some medium, and a variable number of large in it. That’s my experience, anyway. Lint is a small thing but in the right and wrong place its placement and existence can make a big difference. The lint in my belly button allowed a playful and somewhat intimate connection with my friend; the lint in my iPhone blocked the clarity of communication I want with my friends and family. Lint. Debris brought about from the usual, normal, barely-thought-about practice of wearing clothes. Little tiny pieces, wear, that break off and collect. Then causes problems when it's collected enough. Like food scraps down a kitchen drain pipe.
07-25-23 7:19amPDST according to my phone
Not checking into a hotel, or a restaurant…well, perhaps the latter. How is my decision/ declaration regarding In-n-Out going? Have I eaten there in the past eleven days, have I succumbed?
I am happy to report that no, I have not. I have once in that time been tempted. Last Friday, Fridays being days I have perhaps often eaten at a certain In-n-Out that could be, depending on how I went, on my way home from my day job, I was tempted. I thought about it, briefly, as I drove down the freeway towards home. I decided to get off an earlier exit and remove the temptation. It worked. I have barely thought about In-n-Out since.
Lest you think my victory complete and easy, alas, it has not been so. I have not eaten at an In-n-Out in the past week and a half. I have eaten, and not tiny portions, at a Taco Bell; had peanut M&Ms, Doritos, and Kettle Brand chips on my last break Sunday; yesterday had a package of Sour Patch Kids and a medium unbuttered (but still oil-cooked) popcorn at an 8:50am matinee, a Del Taco meal #1 (two tacos with the crimmings, small fries, medium Coke, followed by a large chocolate shake from Cold Stone Creamery. The Del Taco and Cold Stone definitely taking me out of my way as I made those detours on my way home.
So I have not entirely been an angel when it comes to healthy eating. The other days, I did fine; lost some weight; according to my scale, dropped my metabolic age by a year on Tuesday morning. Before my Tuesday morning and early afternoon pig out.
Why am I concerned, so concerned, about me diet? Because my youth, when I could and did eat just about anything that I wanted, without (at least then) much obvious effects, is over. Because I have had an oxalate kidney stone (the most common type of kidney stone, of which there are four varieties) and do not want another. The pain of passing it is seared into my memory but perhaps not so powerfully as to get me to adjust my eating all the time time. What I eat makes a difference. Fries are to be avoided; they are relatively high in oxalates. You know what is extremely high in oxalates? Spinach. I used to eat it by the handful, straight out of the bag. Thinking I was doing myself Popeye good. Instead, I was forming that stone.
My other main dietary concern, besides general weight gain, is added sugar. The Coke was good and the chocolate shake was super tasty in going down but introduced a lot of sugar. Too much. I tiptoed into prediabetes by .1% during my last annual exam. It’s not where I want to stay. It’s not something I want to increase. I’ve known and know those with diabetes. It’s no laughing or easy matter.
Nonetheless, I ate it all, yesterday between 9am and 1pm, simultaneously relishing the tastes, and my impudence (so there, doctors, nurses, health, I’m going to do what I damn well please) and being aware I was, in the intermediate and long runs, doing myself no favors. Possibly doing myself great harm.
One meal, one day of bad, sugar-filled, high saturated fat, high bad carbs, high sodium food is not likely to kill me. It may not have a lasting detrimental effect. (It did add almost a pound and take away a metabolic year.) But it’s not a practice that is likely to get me where I want. I want to get down to a certain body fat and then add muscle; I want to live happy and healthy, cognitively fully able and aware, get ready for this one, until I am a hundred. Sixty is soon here; seventy and eighty not far behind. I have to act now and be lucky to get to what I want. No one is going to do it for me. (Nor should they.) My job, my opportunity, my chance is to alter my environment to reduce and remove temptation. I’ve tried often, so very often, to “muscle my way” through the temptors but they have often gotten their ways with me. A better plan is to avoid them and to employ my time with other and better rewarding activities.
I also hope that by writing these specifics and plans here I will further encourage myself to act in my better interest. Nothing like public accountability. Maybe it will work if used along with my other tools.
My health, I am told by my doctor, is decent, perhaps even good, and here comes the kicker, for my age. I do not want to be “healthy” according to my age. When measured against others my age. I see so many of those my age not looking great. Not in good health. My doctor sees sick people all day almost every day. I had better be in “good” health compared to those he sees, his reference group. A reference group of, forgive me for saying it, self-indulgent people. I do not want to be in okay health for my age. I want to be in good health for someone in his forties. Someone who is thirty.
This may be an impossible dream. It is an impossible dream if I flat out accept it as impossible. There are situations in my past where the unlikely, the unlikely and good, did occur in my life. In every time I can think of, I was an active participant in making my life better; and my better-for-me actions usually started with the thought that I could be better, get better. No matter what others said, or “normal” people did or lived or experienced. I am not so much concerned about average or other people's experiences as I am concerned about mine. Can’t try or do much about theirs; I can affect mine. What am I doing to improve my life, the lives of those around me, and in particular those I love, what I am doing to improve my society, life, the world, dare even I add, the future? Not much. Usually, I am not doing much. I am doing some, though. I am thinking, acting, considering, deciding, committing, executing. Executing as in killing a bad habit and other bad habits, executing as in carrying out what I have set myself to carry out.
LukeyoutheU is my principal way. Also, haha, my principled way.
Look at the time! I’ve got to dash. Speed, back exercise super fast, and my day job ahead.
I do not like the word routine. I have seen the value of routines; I have somewhat elaborate ones for myself, particularly the one I use in the morning where this has to follow that in order for me to get done all that I want to get done (being aware of and deciding my day’s commitments and goals, things I want to get done today, people I want to talk with, morning ablutions, skin care process, looking at good as I can, measurements of physical progress like weighing myself and recording the stats including estimated metabolic age, writing moment daily, preparing lunch, doing my back exercises, more skin care and hair routine, driving to my day job, leaving in a specific window for the lightest and best traffic, arriving early so I can take my time once there to arrive on time with a settled and looking, feeling composed. That’s the shorter version.) Then there are the routines I employ at work to get my various tasks there done. And the checkins with those with whom I work.
I do not like the word routine because it makes me think of normal, usual, dull. All things I do not want to experience all the time and think of as what my life is about it. First do this, then do that. Boring. I have tried to train my unconscious to rake care of my boring tasks so I can think of things while my body is performing them. Try as I might, however, my unconscious typically forgets things. Today, it forgot to get up when the alarms actually sounded. I fell back asleep at 4:00am not waking until 5am. That squishes everything in my morning routine and forces me to skip some of it. No back exercises for me today, at least not this morning. The chances that I’ll do them later, when I get back from my job: I give myself about 3%.
The thing about routines, however, is that they work. For them to work well, I have to design and monitor and tweak them, and I do. Multiple steps that in most cases are the best to occur in a certain order. Undress and weigh myself immediately after getting back from the bathroom, putting the night clothes back in their drawer while then removing todays undergarments, including unrolling the socks, placing them on top of today’s pants out ready to go. It’s all far too tedious to mention. Thank you and I’m sorry for example’s sake that you had to read it. These are the facts of life, as far as I understand it, and necessary.
Routines carried out well get things done. Get things done that I want to get done. Like writing moment. Right now I am looking at the clock. My time is running short, I’m concerned about getting everything done, done well, getting a little anxious about it all and meanwhile another minute has passed. All because I did not get up when the alarm bells rungeth.
Two things essential to get out before I go:
Routines, that is, the building of one thing after another, one thing at a time and well, are, I believe, the best way to optimize and optimalize one’e experience. Optimize, it seems to me, at least these days, is usually used to mean to make the most money; and that’s what I want to do, who is kidding who. I want to write books which people, many people, find useful and good; and, in the process, make money to support a good life for me. I want to have enough money to live safely and healthily, to have a home of my own, money in the bank in case of emergencies. I want to have money I can freely give to others that I see are in need as I feel so inclined. I want to invest in myself and in others and in causes and people I think are helping humanity forward. To pretend I do not want to make money from my writing efforts would be less than fully true. Money is like language. You need both to operate well in this modern world.
Optimalization is a word I made up to describe what I also want to do: to encourage others, to encourage myself, to act not only for money or even primarily for money but for optimal life. Optimal for me and for others and for others who will future be. I want to optimize and optimalize.
The other thing essential is that the word routine is a heavy one for me, and not heavy in a good way. It drags me down. I know I need routines. I know they are the best steps I can take to get me to where I want to go. How can I help myself to take them?
How about using the amazing power we have of reframing, of renaming. Instead of routines I am going to do multiphasic processes. Go mutliphasic. Get it? Multi-phases actions (rountines) that I take to get me where I want to go. If I think of them that way, in makes them sciencey or, really, science fictiony. Like shooting phasers. That’s a way I can get behind the idea.
A coworker at my day job is leaving in two weeks, a boss of mine let slip, and, I have to say, I am crying no tears. The person is pleasant enough, when they want to be, and participates/ works enough, when they want to. But there is a lot of behind-the-scenes standing around that I have seen from them; a good deal of not using their brain which is remarkably able in the areas of their lives that they want to be.
(I have got to say that though I am used to using he/ she pronouns; was educated to use them at my various school; trained to use them through familiarity with their use by my society; have found they quite useful to use; and still will, probably, in many circumstances use them as the better option; the option/ newfound societal/ young people’s way of using the plurals they and them instead of the more descriptive if gender-fixed and binary he and she does come into good use at times. One such time as now. By not identifying the coworker’s in question presumed and, in their case, decided gender, they are given more anonymity. I feel more free to talk of the situation; the use of gender-neutral pronouns lets/ causes you to assign my coworker a gender, or not. Did you think of a like-example in your life, that person likely of a binary gender, or did you assign a gender, saying that those of a gender always or more often operate in this way?
The way I am talking about is habitually half-commitment. Habitually only working/ doing/ being when others are watching/ measuring them. You.
You may consider that I am overstating the case and I might be. Nonetheless, please consider it: that if we are going to do something, act on behalf of ourselves (which we always are, even if we try to duck the responsibility) and on the behalf of others, it makes sense, to me at least, that we use all of our abilities. Abilites of decision, action, productive activity, at least while we are being paid for our service. As a general rule. There may be at times, possibly frequent times, extenuating circumstances. But as a general rule: work with what you’ve got to the best of what you’ve got. Because others want it and you’ll be more likely to receive their praise and rewards, yes; but, mostly, because you only live once. I only live once.
It makes sense to me that we each, I try to, live fully. As fully as I can because I only get so many days, weeks, months, years, decades in this life. Why not experience them, gain from them, use them to the full?
I did not get to my physical therapy (back exercises) yesterday in the morning because I did not wake up early enough (make the time), in the evening because I did not feel like it (have the mental toughness to get off ass, as it were, do them). I did feel stiffer during the day and at the end of it. This morning, at the least, I have time to do some of them. Tomorrow, I will make time to do them all.
Yesterday was a most excellent usual day. In other words, I would like to have experiences like yesterday usually. My work at my day job went very well and I was appreciated for it. Rather than crashing, and taking a nap (don’t get me wrong: I love naps and think they are mighty useful and needed at times), rather than rolling into, allowing myself to be taken away by, a favorite TV show or movie, I kept rolling. I had wanted to rearrange some furniture in my room in the hopes that a new piece of exercise equipment could be accommodated. I succeeded.
That’s the thing about yesterday: it wasn’t a monumental day, particularly a milestone day. It was a good, solid, brick-by-brick, steel-girder-by-steel-girder building day. I worked, as it were, both exteriorly (for my day job) and interiorly (for me). But both are part of the same.
Let me explain.
The same that both are part of are my day job and my other work. The day job is where I am working primarily for other people; my other work, which is the rest of my life, is where I am working primarily for myself. The operative word here is primarily. Even when I am primarily working for an organization I do not control, such as the case of my day job, I am also working for me. The experiences I have, and make, the skills I learn and employ, also improve me. Train me. Build me. Help me by giving me additional form in my life. Necessitate me working well with others, being attuned to where they are emotionally, what they are doing physically. I am working for the shareholders of the company I work for as well as my bosses. I am also, at the same time, working for me. I am maintaining or building (or allowing to become weaker) my skills, my enthusiasm, my being.
The other work I have is the work I decide to do when I am not actively working for others. That work, for me, certainly includes LukeyoutheU (which I love, most days, and which I soldier on, others); it includes tasks I want to get done to keep, maintain, and improve my personal situation. Sometimes, watching a movie is my best move. Sometimes, it is all I can do. Better than alternative actions/ inactions.
At my day job, yesterday I worked on my normal duties and then some. The some was the organization of the front desk. I had for the few shifts prior, amongst my other duies, been reorganizing what goes where, arranged by function. I grouped supplies with tasks. Yesterday morning I was ready to check in with my bosses to see if they approved my arrangement. They did. They thanked me and voiced their appreciation a few times. It felt great. I love feeling great. I’ll take feeling great in pretty much any circumstance, including, certainly, my day job. Good job!
Yesterday afternoon, after that work was complete, I picked up at my mailbox a piece of equipment meant to strengthen my legs. The equipment itself is small but requires a counterbalancing weight/ structure. Most people, possibly just about everyone else uses a door. For a couple of reasons, I don't want to do that. Instead I am using a large piece of furniture. To make the furniture work, I had to move a shelf out of the way. Which meant, of course, moving everything on the shelf. I suppose I could have just moved it over. But moving the shelf to make way for room using the equipment which depends on the weight of the furniture opened up design and space-rearranging possibilities. Four hours later I was done.
I have got to say I am happy with the result. The change increased the visual space in the room, reminded me of everything on the shelf, and the table that had to be moved as a result; let me clean, rearrange, decide, and even throw out a couple of expired items. It looks like I want it to look. It, the newly arranged space, serves the roles I want it to serve.
Clearly these activities, preparing for exercise, the moving, the room re-arranging, have to do with me and my personal experience in life. What is often, in my experience, what often seems to be forgotten, is that outside of one’s day job is affected by the rest of your life. Feeling better outside of a job can often help you feel at least okay on the job. My exercising more will help my mood and performance at work. My home re-arranging and my work re-arranging both benefit from the mental models of wise use that I create and use in doing them.
What I am trying to say is that it’s all one life. I have one life; you have one life. We live them wherever we are, whatever we are doing. What you do in one part (say, at your day job) has an effect on the other (when you are not at your day job); and vice versa.
What I experienced, what I helped to create/ created yesterday was a wave. A wave (to stretch the analogy) which I then rode. I rode and worked it and kept it going at my day job; and continued riding it, working it, and keeping it going at home. It made for a great day. I felt like I had accomplished a lot. I did.
I realize that not every day can be a summoning and riding day. Not every day is good for a surf. But more can be. At least, I can more. I think it likely, dear reader, that you can, too. Creating the wave, riding the wave, takes active participation. Active awareness and work. And can and often does arrive to joy. The joy of life, of adding to it, and to the universe.
I rode the day before yesterday’s wave through the first part of yesterday. Then, as the waves we see do, if crashed. Things flowed great then they did not, not as much. I was indecisive about what I should do: complete my back exercises or follow the plan as I had previously laid it out, and go to the grocery store soon after it opened at eight. The problem with doing my back exercises fully was that they would take half an hour more; the problem with going later to the store was that more people would be there later and I like to get in and out.
Add a wrinkle: I ordered a few items to be picked up from another store, this one offering free drive up delivery (I drive up, they deliver). An order takes two hours to process; I did not order it early enough to assure that it would be ready once I finished grocery shopping. I decided to risk that it would be ready; which gave me the rationale I needed (the excuse) to do the rest of my back exercises later. As it turned out (as I let happen), I did not do them later. The chance I give myself of doing my back exercise after noon is about three percent.
Driving to the grocery store I like, in the store’s parking lot, to avoid as many speed bumps as possible. I was able to drive across the mostly empty lot. My decision to go early paid off, I thought. I was in and out of the store quickly. Bought the last bag they had of something I especially wanted. Back in the car, I checked my phone and saw my order was ready at the other store. Score!
I had earlier that morning decided to get my car washed and planned on doing it the next day, which would be today, after I finished my day job. That way the car would dry on my highway drive home. Yesterday, though, after the grocery store, I changed my mind. I went to a car wash that could be on the route between the grocery and the general goods store if I went a mile or out of my way. I like to get things done; I wanted to ride the wave. So I got my car wash. On the way into its parking lot, people were holding up signs and waving. I was set on my now second car wash plan. I paid them no attention.
Driving out of the wash, my car now scrubbed, clean, and wet, I saw more signs and people. The owner’s profit in doing the wash was spit in half that day with the organization represented by the sign holders and wavers. I am usually a big fan of charity benefits. Not this time. This organization needs no more money and should not, in my opinion, be funded as much as it already is. It would be better for all, I think, if it received less money. And here I had added my support to it.
I should have read the signs. A topic for another day.
The order pickup at the general goods store went without a hitch. I decided, even with my not-yet (and, as it turned out, never) completed day’s back exercises; even with my showing support for an organization I do not want to show support, that I was still riding the wave. I could do no wrong.
Two minor car issues had been bugging me for weeks: a tiny touch-up needed and promised by a body shop, and visit to my car’s dealership in hopes of getting a falling-down driver sun visor fixed. The visor stays up when folded closed but will not stay up when in use, folded open: it hangs down halfway. I have to bend down my head, literally, to see the colors of traffic lights. I like to get things done and thought: today’s the day. I had had trouble with both shops in making appointments. With more planning and patience on my part, I could have. I decided instead to try my luck and just show up. Neither shop is particularly close to my house or on the way to anywhere else I usually go; still, I went. It was Saturday morning and I thought they might be busy; but, hey, I was still on the wave: maybe they had such good operations they could accommodate me.
I decided not to risk how long the repairs might take so I went home and put away my groceries which included refrigerated and frozen items. Good move!
I could then, of course, just stayed at home. Doing something useful, such as, I don’t know, my back exercises. Working on LukeyoutheU. Even, if I had wanted, I could have relaxed, watched something streaming or on DVD. (No day job that day.)
But no. I was determined to ride the wave. What a charmed life I lead! Everything goes my way, all the time. (Everything does go my way, it does go your way, in the very biggest picture, but that’s another topic for another day.) I thought how marvelous is, how marvelous when, I go waltzing to the auto body and dealership and they magically, quickly, efficiently, take my car in and do the work I want.
But no. Neither could.
I wasn’t thinking; I was chasing the emotion of the wave. Wanting it, the high, to continue. Wanting it to last and last.
The first did not have the personnel; the dealership did not have the personnel or facilities as the customers with appointments had first priority. And there were a lot of them. The place was packed. What was I thinking? Why was I screwing around with the system they have in place? If I had worked with their system I could have worked, it would have worked, with mine. I’d have been home doing things useful. Things rewarding. Instead, I set myself up for denial. Wasted the gas. Flushed away the time.
I drove home. Or, should I say, I drove towards home.
Along the way, I thought about what I might eat. I’d had a protein drink and some berries, that or the drink with a banana my usual breakfast; now it was time for lunch. I was a bit hungry. I had food at home. Perfectly good food. Food I’d chosen that was tasty and wise (nutricious). But I thought of the fast foods I pass along the way. I don’t know if there was even one I’d go to that was truly, without detour, along the way. I knew I could not go to an In-n-Out. I had promised, promised to myself, promised on paper (well, computer screen), had written down that I would not go for a hundred days. The nearest one was quite out of the way, anyway. But you know what is near my house. Not on the way but only a mile away. Taco Bell!
And damned if I didn’t drive right by my house, if I wasn’t fifty feet from my home, with its food waiting including the bag I’d been lucky enough to buy. I drove past it, knowing what I was doing, saying my myself I wanted time someplace else but home, someplace outside (outside but in my car, mind you, eating while parked in a parking lot). Yup, I drove to Taco Bell. Not only had two chalupas and a hard taco but a large soda too.
Watched kids advertising one of the only other organizations I also do not want to support standing holding signs (but not waving) on the sidewalk while I ate. Prompting their fundraising car wash, a different one. If that don’t beat all.
I crashed from wave. I would have been smart to bounce.
or better yet, fly. The thought came to yesterday, at the very end of my writing: instead of just bouncing after the crash of a wave (and I’m pretty sure all waves eventually crash, or dissipated, cannot be ridden/ don’t have the power to be ridden forever), why not fly? Why take an analogy, a certain mental picture comparing our mental lives with the physical world, and keep it earth-bound? Is my mind earth-bound? It may be, according to the measurements of some, or many; it may have to be as I have never left the earth’s atmosphere. But even flying is working with air and winds and gravity, all earth things.
Rather than go way out there in my thoughts, let me return. Instead of just thinking about bouncing, which is already a physically unlikely scenario after riding a wave, typically one would stop or crash, why stop at a bounce? A bounce is me bouncing back from the end of the wave, of riding that wave I rode two days ago. Reacting to being crashed into the “solid ground.” The ground of not feeling as jubilant, not at happy, not as flowing with the universe. The auto body shop didn’t have the people to do the touch up I needed that morning; the auto dealership could not fit me in. I felt a bit deflated. I am not, I was shone once again, the king of the world, able to do what I want, when I want, that the water would part for me because I chose to walk through them. That realization, or, much better put, my choice of that understanding of my situation, I allowed it to cause me to be bummed. I had a crash; thought and talked yesterday about wanting a bounce.
As you know, I playing into that crash, thinking it bad that that was how I felt. I sought to pacify, coddle, chemically and psychologically uplift myself. I wanted a bounce. I wanted to feel better through eating immediately-gratifying-but-not-nutritional-or-weight-reducing food. That action worked; but only for a short while, while I still chewed. Then the feeling left. I felt deflated. Like a deflated balloon. No such bounce there. It went away entirely probably about when the effect of the soda’s caffeine petered out.
Ridiculously attentive readers may have noticed I addressed the chemical portion of my feelings but not the psychological. There was a play of “haha, brain, world, God, I am going to do what I want to do. I am going to drive right by my house and not stop; I am going to go to Taco Bell and have what I want and you’re not going to stop me. Haha. I am going to get away with this.
The thrill of defiance, of sticking it to the forces that “would keep me down,” was an undercurrent of my play, I can’t deny. And I did feel triumphant, and powerful, for a short time. But the feeling passed. Was of my past.
How am I going to bounce back from this? I thought. Like I always have. Which was, well, to bounce. To turn from what I had been doing, forgiving myself for doing it, and trying to find that wave to ride again.
What if, this had not occurred to me before, what if, I realized yesterday, that instead of trying to bounce, instead of trying to bounce back, have that mental picture, mental concept in my mind, what if I instead changed the framework. It was I who made the pictures of riding a wave, of bouncing after it crashed, two mental pictures themselves, in the first place.
That’s when I said: instead of bouncing after the wave (the wave and the image of a wave I like very much, find descriptive of how I felt), why not fly?
It is a dream, in a way, this life thing. More than a dream, yes. But also a dream. In a dream, in my dreams, anyway, I can sometimes alter an image to more reflect what I want. Change the course of the story. So after the wave crashed instead of bouncing I could choose to fly. That is, I could choose to ride the wave until the wave came near to its end; then take off, float above the situation, levitate, see the situation, appreciate that I was on the wave, and decide to look for another. By floating to it. Or doing something else.
I hope this makes sense when I read it again. When you read it. One way or another, it shows how I was thinking/ how i think.
Bouncing is reacting habitually to the action and gravity of being crashed, of being thrown ashore. Flying is changing the framework, working with the feeling before it gets to the crash. Bouncing is letting things happen, allowing emotions alone to control my life experience. Flying allows the feelings to be experienced and have their time, almost the whole of the time that the wave lasts, and then taking off, looking from above, with the perspective of distance from the emotions to decide to fly (do) something else. Bouncing is reaction to the physical situation and have my course decided for a while by the bounce. Flying is changing the process from emotion→reaction to emotion→deciding→acting.
I had a chance yesterday to try out this new mental paradigm. (New to me, anyway. New to the world, to human experience? Those things I do not know.) I was, unusually for me especially since the era of Covid, at a mall. I was there deciding if I was going to make a long-considered purchased. I had wanted to buy this thing for months. Actually, a couple of years. It was not, in the scheme of life, a large purchase but it was more than the cost of a meal at a nice restaurant. It possibly committed me to future expenses as well.
All signs were good for me to maybe take the leap. (Another mental picture. Not going there now.) I had gotten most of my questions answered about the product. I had been actively ruminating on the idea of buying it, playing through all the known ramifications, for a week. The benefits seemed to more than outweigh the costs. I found a parking spot in a jam-packed parking lot, under cover, easily enough. The salesperson had his eyes on me immediately when I walked into his space and offered his assistance. I felt good emotionally and rationally about the whole thing. I asked more questions and most of them were answered. Enough of them. I tried a sample of the product. All good. I was on a wave. Love that feeling, that knowing. What to live that feeling, that knowing. I committed. I bought the product. The salesperson seemed happy too.
So far, so good. Loving the wave. Let’s ride!
As I was in the mall already, I thought about what I had enjoyably done there before and what I might want to do then. Ah, the food court! There is a vendor I’ve liked, food I don’t often eat, in the court. As I walk there, I’m thinking: boy, this is going to taste good. It’s not going to cost much money. I rarely eat this. I wonder how many calories it has. It’s tasty, that’s for sure. Yum. Is it nutritious? Do I really want to eat it? Do I need to eat it?
All the time, I’m walking towards the court. I was on the first floor; it’s a big mall. I thought the court was over this way. I knew it was on the second floor. Which escalator to take? I walked one way and doubled back; I took a corridor to my right, thought, oh, right, it’s over here. Found a way up. Got to the court. Packed, I tell you, packed with people on this Sunday night. Got to a hundred feet of my favorite vendor’s stand. Decided, nah, I don’t need to eat here. Walked away. Threaded my way through the crowds out the mall and to my car. Driving its one-way lane, I was directed to the covered parking lot’s extremity. Plenty of open parking spots here. Drove out, and home.
Where I made myself a delicious mac and cheese with boldly spicy tuna. No crash. Flight.
I’m writing these without reading what I wrote the day before. This decision is either brilliant, or foolish, or somewhere in between. Likely it’s the latter. Some days, increasingly more ofr my days, are full of activity, consideration, waiting, doing, using. So much so that I can lose the bead of the day before’s entry. We were talking about riding the wave, thinking not to crash but to bounce when that wave came to its end; if we can imagine a bounce, why not fly?
There is an aphorism, a perhaps hackneyed-but-still-useful saying, that goes free as a bird. The implied desire of the sayer is to be free, without obligation to earthly (read: mundane) activities. The idea is to be above it all, to not have worries, to be able to go where one wants when one wants. To fly like a bird, singing your little birdsong, be carefree, doing whatever the mood strikes you.
There’s a problem with the analogy. From a human’s perspective, paying attention only to the life of the bird that the viewer sees it, the outside viewer imagines that the bird’s life is free because it can fly. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to leave everything behind and jump up into the sky and fly? In other words, wouldn’t my life, my life as a human, be better if it were different and without responsibilities?
Let’s consider not how we wish things to be but as the whole of what they are. That bird is not free. That bird is scrapping around the best that it can to find food and survive.
Almost all the birds I have ever seen, especially the littler ones, appear always on the move, with their eyes searching for food. They go from here to there, hopping on the ground (not so easily able to walk), without hands, to bend down and peck at, bite at, food. Little bits of food. They don’t have hands to carry their food. They either eat the food, then and there, or take it back to their nest to feed others.
If I’ve got any of this wrong, please, ornithologists, tell me. LukeyoutheU.com/comment
They need to eat frequently/ all the time because living and flying take a good deal of energy. They have no convenience stores to buy their food from. (Do any convenience stores anywhere sell bird food? Maybe those by public duck ponds?). No containers to store food in, no shelves to place cardboard boxes and cans of it. No refrigerators or freezers for long term storage.
To be free like a bird is to be free to frequently/ constantly searching for your next bite of food.
About the idea that being able to fly necessarily makes one free, free as a bird, you may be forgetting that flight takes energy, time, and effort. It is not free. It is work. It may be joyful and sometimes possibly exhilarating work but it is still work.
The act of flying is not for free. The birds have to have first dared to fly, survived their first attempts, then practiced. When they’re flying about, I’m talking mostly about the little ones here, they are liable to be another, bigger bird’s food. Even bigger birds will attack and kill other, bigger birds for the meal.
There are other considerations. The birds have to be in decent shape to fly; gravity still plays a role; wind currents, storms, gusts of wind can come up. The bird is free to fly when the flying can be done. Birds are not free to fly all the times they want to.
I guess what I’m getting to: there ain’t nothing that’s free. Things that seem freeing and easy to us, like flying around like a bird, come at a cost. Instead of lamenting and complaining about it, that there is always a cost, be glad you have what you need to pay.
Yesterday, I had two major chores I wanted to get done: to get a small part replaced and a noise checked out on my car at an auto dealership; and to get some blood drawn for checkup medical tests. I had an appointment for the first and was given a suggested time for the second. Yesterday was a free day for me, a day when I “could have done anything.” I’m smarter than living only for the day, though; and want to be prepared for, and if possible prevent, future issues by dealing with them when they are small and their courses relatively easy to change. I was free but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I’m smarter than the average bird. I was/ am free to invest/ plan/ prepare/ organize/ accomplish. Each and all of those activities cost me. They cost me time, energy, resources. Boy did they cost me time. I was three and a half hours at the dealership; two and a half hours waiting for the tests. I used some of the time while waiting wisely; other hours I frittered away. I was “free” but there is always a cost. In these cases, costs I felt worth paying.
I do not want to be free as a bird. A bird’s life sucks. It probably has times of exhilaration in flight but even that probably gets old since they do it all the time. A bird’s life is short; its opportunities, limited. I’m going to guess that it cannot imagine being anything but a bird. We humans can imagine being a bird. I’d like to fly and I can: on an airplane, and in my mind.
The driver’s side sun visor was replaced so that now it doesn’t fall half-down when used, blocking my view of traffic lights; the noise turned out to be caused by zero lube (!) in a part in the passenger side back brake. Sure glad I got those two safety issues solved. The results of the blood test were universally good except one; that high reading may be due to my being dehydrated at the time. Thanks for asking.
My job is to work towards the good use of my life. The good use of my life for my sake, for the sake of others in my immediate sphere, for the sake of the world as a whole including most of its other species. You may how I zoomed out from the tiny (my life is big for me, but tiny in scale to the world, infinitesimal in scale to the universe) to the quite big (including not only people but also most other species on the planet). We’re all a part of the small, medium, large, gigantic, colossal, gargantuan, immense universe, whether we consciously (or unconsciously) recognize the fact of not. We are a part of life, and Life, to at least some degree, while we are alive.
The word job usually has to do with making money; the Google dictionary defines it as “a paid position of regular employment.” Paid refers to money, in its usual sense. But I wonder, stretching its meaning (breaking its meaning?), if we couldn’t realize that we are always in the process of getting paid. The sun throws out tremendous heat; and holds our planet at a distance from it to which we have over the millennia grown accustomed (can use). Air is available for us to breathe and usually don’t think much about. In whatever condition your body is in, you have a body. More than a few things had to line up for that to happen.
Go with me on this. The idea I’m trying to get to is that we are receivers, are paid, all the time in life. We’ve been paid, are being paid. It’s not like we could live without being paid, in this meaning of the word.
In so much of life, people, many people, maybe people including you, want to reduce life to only money. Money is good, useful, helpful, necessary for a lubricated and well-functioning society and certainly for a global one. But money is not life, not the whole of it, anyway. The idea that your job, what you have before you to do and be in order to participate in our social life, can be boiled down, is boiled down, to be just about making and spending money is a reduced idea. It is a reduction of who we are and who we can be.
When I am talking about my job, specifically my day job, I am not meaning to imply that I am considering it disparagingly. My day job, at the general goods store, is one that I usually enjoy. One that gives structure to many of my days and my weeks; gives me something to tell people when they ask what I do; offers me the chance to work with others towards shared goals; challenges me, at times more than I want, but is still for my good; allows me to actively participate in aiding other people in the living of their good lives; and, yes, pays me in money too so that I can buy things and services to support my life. My job is about the money but so much more than only the money.
Don’t get me wrong: I mutter under my breath about the ridiculousness of this or that person, this or that customer, coworker, about the numbskullness of this or that policy. Not every day or hour is a delight.
But on the whole, I like it. My day job allows me to use and expand my skills. It helps me to value the time I have away from it more. It keeps me plugged into society. Challenges and motivates me to think more and differently, at times; and to listen to but not always serve only my emotions. And the day job I have adds, I do believe, to the good of life. It’s not perfect; what the company does and we are required to do is not perfect, could, in my estimation, be made better if not perfect. But it is good enough. Good enough and then some.
So when I write about my day job I mean it as a descriptive term of the job I have during most of my days. That job is part of the larger job I have, that I also complain about, occasionally, the job of living life. The job of living a life with purpose.
The joy of working towards making good use of my life. The big job of making good use of my life.
My internet connection inexplicably went down for about twenty minutes in there. Started my back exercises. When I saw it came back up, I went back to writing. Now I’m going to finish them.
I hawked up a small pile of goo yesterday night. Clear phlegm is better news that colored phlegm, I suppose, and my apologies for bringing this image to your mind. I do so to involve you in the feeling that next came: had the infection returned?
A few months ago, I was in the emergency department. I am not in the habit of running to the hospital but do when I feel the need. I had earlier that morning nearly passed out at my day job, felt sick in my stomach, (here comes another image) and vomited. A flush of symptoms that took me beyond my own control.
The long and the short of it is that the doctor thought I had had bad food. Rest, internus replenishment, and I felt entirely better. One of the many tests that were administered was an x-ray. Okay, an x-ray is not probably strickly a test, it is the taking of electromagnetic waves, a form of radiation. It sure felt like a test to me, though. I test I wanted to pass.
Still sticking with the short story concept, the x-ray reveled a node in my lung which, months later a CT scan showed to be, likely, not cancerous. Just something, an old infection or something, that had been in my lung.
The CT scan did reveal, however, another something that the doctors were not sure about. I wrote doctors plural because a panel of them looked at it. They determined it likely to be an indolent infection. My primary doc prescribed a course of anti-biotics; I faithfully took them. The next CT scan found the issue almost completely resolved.
Almost. I am to take another x-ray this month and another CT scan in four months.
Then I hawked a loogie last night. Has the infection returned? Or is it simply a mild allergy? Something else?
My fears, in the past, have, sometimes, run away from me. Gotten the best of me. One time, now decades ago, I had such internal discordance, was so frightened, that my anxiety created the symptoms of a heart attack. That was another emergency department visit. After a series of tests, observation for a couple of hours, being the subject of an interns-in-training visit (why is a man so young having a heart attack?), and, later, a visit to a neurologist, it was determined that the cause was anxiety. A threat though so real to me that it produced fear. (I had a close relative who had multiple sclerosis and I imagined the same for me.)
That scare caused me to follow the prescription the neurologist gave me: meditation (or was it yoga?) and exercise. You may have surmised I did not pursue the first. The second, exercise, weight-lifting, I did. I felt better just knowing it was in my mind; I felt better yet in the doing of something about it.
That’s an advantage and disadvantage of being older: experience.
That scare long ago was, in the end, good for me. It was good that I actively exercised. It showed me, again, for eighty-third time though I seem to often forget it, the incredible, invasive, pervasive power of the mind.
This scare which flared last night, the loogie production, reminded me it was good I went to the hospital emergency department for my nearly passing out/ stomach bug. Because I went then, the x-ray was taken; because the x-ray was taken, a CT was taken; because the CT was taken, what is likely an infection which caused me no outward pain or gave outward evidence except excess phlegm creation (which, I later recalled, I had indeed had), the indolent devil was discovered; because of the CT likely results, I took medication; because of the medication, the situation was all but resolved (shown by CT number 2).
Now, a couple of months later, a loogie.
I’ll go in and get the x-ray. No need to run down the hallway screaming in fear. It might be a passing allergic symptom. It might be the infection has returned or another appeared. I AM DOING WHAT I CAN REASONABLY DO ABOUT IT.
Deciding and doing help alleviate the fear. A few deep breaths.
I used to associate being strong solely with physical strength. The amount of weight someone, I, could lift. Being strong can/ does refer to how much one can lift and how much one can carry and for how long. But there are other ways of being strong that are as important. That add to the opportunity of life.
Being strong is completing your commitments. Your commitments to other people and your commitments to yourself. I find the latter the more difficult.
Being strong is going to your day job even when you don’t feel like it. I could climb back into bed right now, call in sick, spend the day sleeping and watching movies and videos. I could find some reason to skip writing today because I don’t feel like it. Which I don’t.
Being strong is being there, listening and talking with friends, relatives, family not because it's always easy or always a joy but because you love them. Even when you don’t feel you do.
Being strong is pressing forward. Pressing forward is not always the thing to do; when it is not, then not pressing forward can be strong.
I don’t think we can always be strong. At least, I can’t. But I can, I am, being strong more often. I did all my back exercises this morning and some.
Being strong is also being flexible. Flexible when it is the better action to take.
It takes strength to live, to be alive. It takes more strength to be actively alive, to be an engaged participant in your own life. Add to that the strength it takes to, as they are wanting and you are able, to assist others.
I don’t think we can always be strong. Times of rest and times of receiving, receiving the aid and care of others, are required too. Primarily, though, it's good to build strength, to be strong. Good for you and good for others. It’s the exercise of all kinds of muscles, not only just the kinds to show off on your shoulders. We have the opportunity in this life to not only be, which is itself a big theme and crucial, but also to do. To be strong in thought and action.
That’s what I’ve got for today.
My mother was right, those many years ago: I am a morning person. I wake up most mornings happy for the day ahead and appreciative of being alive. I won’t say I bound out of bed, or jump up when the alarm first announces wake up baby, daylight. But nearly so.
Eight in the morning classes, five days a week, were a bit much, however, for my first semester in college. In those days, I stayed awake late. So did my room and hallmates. The second semester, I arranged later starts.
Courage comes to me more easily in the mornings. I awake ready to do and add. Conquering the world I’ve long given up. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to anymore. I do want to live and fully.
My courage is high in the mornings. I can handle the hard tasks I might have ahead.
My midafternoon, though, my energy, enthusiasm, I’m going to say it, power, fades. Duties which were nothing in the a.m. become intractable in the p. A nap sometimes helps.
Courage is doing something frightening to the doer. I don’t live a frightening life; and I rarely put myself in physical danger and certainly not if I can help it. In my past, I did plenty of things which I would not today. Was I being courageous or foolhardy? Probably one or the other or both. Depending.
I think courage extends beyond only physical danger. That it takes many faces.
The thing about courage, like patience, is that it is often most evident, perhaps most useful, when its opposite appears. Having fear opens up the door for courage. Being frustrated swings open wide the window for patience.
Societally, it takes courage to stick out in a crowd. To act differently from your peers. To wear clothes not of the norm. To go to or a job you can’t get out of because you must.
Fear, of course, can be useful and good, depending on the situation. I think it's pretty smart to be afraid of black widows and wild tigers. Smart to be afraid of disease, infection, illness. Smarter still to be courageous in avoiding or tackling them, as the case may be.
Am I a courageous person? I have had courage in difficult times, sometimes times that lasted a long time. But that’s having courage when it was called for, demanded. I am decidedly not fearless. I do not place myself where I will be scared.
No horror movies for me. Life has enough worries. No need to add more.
I made a courageous decision today. This morning. A decision which I followed with all my brain power and attention, and action after and in the middle of that. It was the decision and action now thirteen hours ago which has caused me to be writing so late (for me) tonight. It was a roll of the dice and the dice have not yet landed; it was a risk, is a risk, one I wish I did not have to take, but do.
I’m glad I did. I took it. I am glad I went forward not knowing the result, a result I still do not know, a result I will probably not know for months.
Sometimes you gotta be proud of yourself even when no one will ever hear about your courage; or would think what you are doing is courageous at all. I know it is, though. I know because I know me; because I trust myself.
Have the courage you need when the time is right for you to have it. Be willing to face the fears that are good to face.
That’s my thought, anyway. You get to/ will have your own.
It all started so easily, those three weeks ago. I’d think of what I was thinking, I’d sit, I’d write. Now it’s getting serious. I hope moment doesn’t ever get too serious but at this point I do not know where it will go. At this point, I’m scared. Have I written anything of value? Have I conveyed ideas worth the attention of others? Am I ever going to become a writer as my full time gig? Do I have the talent, the perseverance, the chutzpah, the courage, the contacts, the ideas, the right, the ability?
And then to inflict these concerns, these self-referential concerns on you, dear reader. I don’t know if I’d want to read it from someone else. These worries, this angst. What’s the good of it?
I remember when, at a day job, I was working in the cash office. When you get down to it, it’s a simple job. Money comes in, you count it, you write down the amounts. You get ready the money you need for the next day, you prepare it. It would be truer said that the concept is simple, and there are simple steps to it. But there are so many simple steps, many of them, probably most of them, required to be done in a certain sequence. Each thing you do an eight year-old could also do. The thing of it is that there are so very many steps. Concentration is required. Concentration in the midst of physically moving stacks of bills and rolls of coin. Concentration, a sharpish mind, for more than an hour. Those things, and the ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Probably eight year-olds can do the arithmetic.
I remember getting to the part where I entered the amount for yesterday’s coin. This was rolls of coins not needed for replenishing the cash registers. I ran my own double check. I first counted how much was present before me in rolls of coin and came to a figure; then I counted the empty spots in the coin trays to get another figure. That second figure I subtracted from how much I knew (it was the same amount each day) had been available to the registers in the first place. The resulting third figure should then equal the first. It was a double check I performed to make sure I was entering the correct coin amount in the records.
This one day I could not get the first and third figures to agree. They should have been the same. I counted and recounted, figured and refigured, four times I think it was, but the numbers did not match. Looking at the clock, I knew I had to keep going. I also did not want to get the number wrong. That number I entered in a computer; the computer would then tell me if I was right. If I was wrong, it would ask me to do the whole count again (the counting of bills was also involved) but not how I was wrong. I could have had an error in rolls of coins or bills, the error could be small or great. I was not privy to how much I should have; I could only put in what I did have.
I grew frustrated because the task was so simple. Frustrated because I had performed it successfully literally hundreds of times before. Frustrated that it was taking me so long. Frustrated because I did not want to appear like an idiot, be an idiot. It was a simple figure to get to. But, I could not, for some reason, on that day correctly count. Or add, or subtract, or wherever the problem lies.
Finally, I decided that I had to stand on what I had before me. I counted the rolls of coins again, for the fifth (eighth?) time. I did not try to make the first figure match the third or even find the second figure to do the checking. I just counted what was there and entered that number.
The program accepted my figures and without delay moved to the next step. I had the right numbers! No shame today. The audit was correct.
I have no idea what I was doing, why I couldn’t get the numbers to work. All I could do was stand firm where I stood. With what I knew knew knew, what I could count.
I am concerned that this story is not as clear as it could be. Were I to go over it again now, I feel certain I would change, adjust, amend words, phrases, paragraphs. My sincere apologies if the story is incomprehensible. I promised at the beginning of this experiment, this book, that I would only lightly edit. I am sticking with that promise. When the whole thing is done, seventy-eight days from now, I’ll go back and confirm spelling and horrific wrongs. If there are simple problems, ways I coulda woulda shoulda done things differently, those I am going to let be. I am not writing pastry here. This is fruit.
In my third year of college, I recall an exceedingly frustrating and demoralizing night in the computer lab. It was a small room, everything painted white and dirtied by time and scuff marks. I think there were perhaps four machines total in the space. They were yard-wide, noisy monstrosities. A project of some sort was soon (that day?) due and I was having a hard time of it. The language was COBAL, one still used in business settings; I could not get my head around it. I fancy myself not entirely dull; I had in the previous computer course using BASIC gotten an “A.” But I could not make sense of how COBAL thought. It thought not like I did. I could not stretch my thinking to agree with its. I worked on the assignment the whole of the night and into the morning. Finally, the sun up, the dew evaporated from the green grass outside (how I wanted to be outside, out of that dreaded room, let me be in the sun!), I left. I left the project incomplete. I could do no more. I was spent.
I walked to the apartment I shared with a man who had a girlfriend and was hardly ever there. I feel like it was a Sunday. In any event, I do not recall seeing anyone on the .6 mile walk. Maybe some cars driving by. Vividly, quite vividly, I remember standing in front of the two-story brick house to which our apartment had been added on the back. It had a small rectangular lawn. I imagined myself, even while I looked at the house and stood on the street edge of the lawn, lying down, achingly. Forlornly. Like Christina in Christina’s World, a painting by Andrew Wyeth which we unaccountably had a print of hanging on the living room wall in my childhood home. Lost, distraught, a failure, separated from my home, from safety, fallen down. No others in sight. All alone.
I got a “D” in the class. Went on, in the next semester or maybe the one after that, to make high honors for the semester. Was elected to a position of some prominence, did not go into computer programming. Life went on. I had failed that morning and in that class, in my way of thinking, but I kept going. I did what I could, the best that I could, at that time.
Just as I am doing writing this. You’re not reading this real time but afterwards, of course. But I am writing this as the thoughts, ideas, images come across by brain as quickly and accurately (thank God for autocorrect) as my fingers will let me. The point I think is to take doubt as an option. Do what you can. Do not let it sink you. You are more than your failures and more than your successes. You are part and parcel of life. Live it fully, well, for the good of you, others, the greater world, all.
I am a believer in many things; included amongst them are experiments. I experiment all the time, trying this, trying that. I like living life. Living it fully, the best that I am able. That may/ probably means something different for you than it does for me. I endeavor to participate. To be engaged with the world; live as peaceably as I can but not at all costs (some people and things are important to fight for); enjoy and in-joy my life when I can; bring aid to others as I am so led.
I experiment often. Moreso in my most recent years, my college years, early adult years, early gay years, early free fly years, and my most recent years than other years. Many years in there, my wings clipped, bruised, worn, or otherwise not working correctly, not so much. So far and for so good, my wings have returned/ repaired themselves.
This book, writing once and, essentially, letting the first draft be final, is an experiment. As I have disallowed myself the rereading of it until after day100, and I am publishing it daily, it is quite a risk. Will it be good, any good, a flat failure. Blah blah blah. Worries I tire of having so I am doing to work, to allow myself not to have them anymore.
Science is a great place of experiments. Possibly what you first thought of. If something materially and reliably happens when something else is done, observably and repeatedly, that’s an indication of a connection, potentially a cause. Science has, on the whole, significantly improved the human experience. People live longer and often with more options and ease. Not always more happily. Science has brought about travel, sufficient food, indoor plumbing, the fighting of previously deadly diseases. Like any power, any human creation (language, money, time, the wheel, etc.), science can be used for great good; and for heaps, if allowed, if caused, of lesser though sometimes big evil.
I carry out all kinds of time experiments on myself. Can I get a task I do at my day job done more quickly? In how much time? How few back exercises do I need to do to keep my back feeling good, and why would I want to skimp? Can I substitute other exercises, muscle-building ones, instead? If I interact more with the person at my day job that I do not particularly like will we get along better? Will I like them more? If I brush my teeth earlier will that stop me from eating late at night?
These are small experiments in the course of the world. Picayune, even. But they are big and important to me. They interest me in their execution and answers. Both executing them and answering them give me delight. Even, increasingly, the ones that give me an answer I thought I did not want. I work on it; I feel, let myself feel as I d. But I try not to react to the information my emotion provides me alone. I try to synthesize the info it rather eagerly offers with other info from my brain and gut. I try to synthesize quickly, get better at it. I think I am. Sometimes I do.
My dad was great at getting places quickly. He knew the back routes, the alleys, the timing of the lights. His day job, his business, took him back and forth across the city of Baltimore and counties every day he worked, which was nearly all of them. There is some debate within the family if his ways were always the speediest; one race with my stepmother found them, though they started from the same place at the same time, in the same place at the same time. She went the more usual route and had a number of stoplights; he the turn-down-this-side-street, then this alley, route.
His experiments to get places more efficiently, faster, may not have always resulted in his getting there faster. The routes he took, however, kept him in motion; when he was in motion, he felt like he was getting things done; when he kept moving physically it helped to support his wave emotionally. Dare I say energetically. I do not think we talked about it this directly when he was alive.
One thing I am getting better at doing, I hope I am, is letting experiments go. Firstly: sometimes they take the time they are going to take. I may want them done, want them one-and-done, but that is not going to happen. Let it go, Knight. That’s what I tell myself. Lastly: some things I just can’t figure out. I don’t have the time, or energy, or skills, or patience, or strength to keep trying. Some experiments I have need to trust the skills and knowledge of others. Other experiments may be, for the foreseeable, beyond humankind.
If this book fails, I will probably be bummed. For a while. Then I’ll figure out what I can learn from it (a couple of days later). Then, over time, I’ll begin to imagine/ see/ find/ discover/ decide that the failure was good. Good for me, good in general. I find some feeling or rational or both reasons why. I’ll be like Tony Stark (SPOILER ALERT) at the end of Endgame: Why am I tripping? Whatever is meant to be will be. (Loose paraphrase.) What I can do in this life is what I can do. And I’m doing it.
Perhaps two years ago my right index finger became, it seemed to me all of a sudden, swollen and hurt. It only hurt when I used it. Which was much of the day, at my day job; and often at night, when I typed out LukeyoutheU. My day job often puts me in front of a computer screen, entering information; and ripping open cardboard boxes which I would often do with my bare hands to save time. Working on the LukeyoutheU website required a ton of typing and scrolling. The only way it didn’t hurt, my right finger, was if I did not use it.
Fortunately, my day job assigned me other duties for a week to give it to rest. I started using a box opener. On an especially unresponsive computer screen I used the eraser on an eraser-tipped pen. For my LyU work, I was judicious in the amount of typing I did and how hard I pressed the keys. Those soft-key keyboards suddenly made sense. As far as scrolling, I gave that duty to my left hand. It was willing but not too good at it. It probably was more of a brain issue, my brain not used to the different fingers needed to make the commands. I, we, my fingers, my right finger, soldiered on.
I’m guessing it’s probably arthritis but I am surely not hurrying to find the news.
After removing my abuse of it; using the tools available to me; stopping my roughhousing my digits, it’s gotten much better. Now it’s hardly swollen at all. It still complains when I contract it.
When something happens in one part of my life, I have a tendency, at the same, time to consider any other connections. Even if those connections would be considered spurious, poppycock, woo-woo, indefensible, unrealistic, impossible to others. I thought about what a right index finger also does. I came to an easy answer: it also points. And when I say points I mean to imply that, at least for me, pointing right index fingers are used, at least have been used by me, to point out things that are wrong. How quick I have been at times to judge another without knowing the facts. How quick I have been at times to judge another with, it seems, the relevant facts but not knowing the whole situation or history. How quick I have been at time to judge another when I know the facts and the situation and I’m sure I’m right. Because I’m always right, of course. Never been wrong.
Not this minute, anyway.
I have, in fact, been less eager to judge others, less pointy-pointy, since I made that connection. Because I know that I want my right finger, I want all my fingers, all my body parts, to take me happily and healthily into and through old age. I know there is not a connection. Not a connection in the sense of repeatable, observable, measurable. But there is a connection in my mind. I don’t have to tell anyone about it. Haven’t said anything to anyone about it until here and now. They might think I’m crazy. But I suspect you, dear reader, would not be so quick to judge. So quick to point your finger.
There’s a scene in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows 2, the movie.
SKIP TO THE ASTERISK* TO AVOID. IT IS A MAJOR PLOT GIVEAWAY.]
In a scene near the end, Harry and Professor Dumbledore are walking in a white-painted, white fogged, cleaner version of King’s Cross Station (train station). Harry asks Dumbledore about the small, mangled, withered, slightly whimpering form, vaguely human, before them; where a train might take him; how he can possibly will the battle before him should he decide to return to life. They also talk of other plot lines from the series, typing up this and that.
Dumbledore further says that words “are our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” (1:35:00). With this I most heartily agree.
It is the last couple lines, however, that I want to particularly refer.
Harry, after asking another question, asks this: “Is this all real? Or is it just happening inside my head?”
To which Dumbledore replies, “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean that it’s not real?” (1:36:09)
*Other people, most people, you may not make any connection between the pointing of an injured, possibly arthritic finger and the making of unwarranted judgements of others; but you, most, others, do not need to. I make the connection; the connection works for me. It is a reminder for me to practice not assigning/ making people wrong as my usual response. The connection is real to me and that’s enough.
I do not want to do my back exercises this morning. I do not want to do them after I return from my day job later today. I just do not want to do them. They bore me, take up time, are unexciting. I do not want to find new ones because I do not necessarily trust myself or those on the videos to know what is good for me specifically but really because I just do not want to.
I did not get to my exercises yesterday. I did get to watching a couple, a few, old hour-long shows on a streaming service, though.
I do not feel great this morning because I did not get to sleep early enough last night. I stayed up to watch those shows. I am replaying the plot of one in my head right now. I do not feel great, possibly, because I did not do the exercises yesterday.
No one would ever know that I didn’t do my back exercises yesterday, or if I don’t do them today, if I didn’t tell them. Of course, I’d know. Even if I tried to not remember consciously or do not remember consciously I still will unconsciously. The info in there but not retrieval (my guess on how the brain and mind work).
Once upon a time, I worked in a company’s cash office. You will not be surprised to hear that my main job was to count cash. Counting coins and bills, there various denominations, is easy enough when there is not much of it. In most people’s wallets, even if the total amount in there is comparatively big, the number of bills is likely to be comparatively few. Ten? Fifteen? Coin, the difficulties of counting piles of coins may be more familiar to people. That can take a while; can border on the tedious though there is the excitement of finding out how much one has. Imagine not only counting the coins but then being responsible for their final numbers. If you entered that info into a machine, day after day, which kept tabs. Which you had to balance.
Well, my job in that cash office was easier than that. I did not have to deal with loose coins, only rolled ones. Still the number the machine kept, and the amount I counted, had to match when I did the audit. I was responsible to make sure they did. Of course, I could not fudge anything. I mean, I suppose I could have tried. But that’s not my style; and I would not have gotten away with it anyway. A non-option.
One day, a day on which I was timing how long it took me to complete the cash-counting process, was trying to get it done under an hour, I could not make my preliminary checks work. I had a system in which I would count the coin that was to be deposited from the previous day, how many rolls of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters there were; convert that into how much that was in dollars; and then do a double-check. The double-check was my counting of the amount of rolls in each denomination went out yesterday. That amount was constant, day after day. This system worked great. It meant that I could, with confidence, enter into the machine the correct sum of coin being returned.
On this day, however, I could not get the two figures to match. I just could not. I counted the rolls of coins that were present in front of me, again, three times, and I came to the same total. That was fine. But when I counted the missing rolls, the amount of which should have been equal to yesterday’s amount sent out minus those put into the registers on the floor. I could not get the right figure. I counted again and again, even wrote the denominations and numbers down twice. Somehow I was making a mistake somewhere. It was the easiest of things to do. My mind would not, for some reason, could not make sense of it. Four times, even, I tried. Still the numbers did not make sense. Did not equal out.
The clock was ticking. I had to move on.
I did not want to have an error. Especially on something so very, very simple. Something so rudimentary.
I made a decision: I was going to count one final time how many rolls of coins were right in front of me. Their denominations and totals. Then I would put in that number. Even though I could not make my double-check system on that day work.
I did: the audit was correct. It was, on that day, at that point in time, my mind that did not compute.
Normally, usually, my mind works great (as far as I can tell). I can find, add things without a problem; consider issues, situations, theorize, confirm, investigate without a blip. That day I decided to commit to what I knew to be true no matter whatever tricks my mind was playing. Whatever my mind, at least in that minute, could not compute.
I am doing my back exercises this morning. My mind, my emotions, are telling me I do not have to. To give myself “a break.” That I do not have the time, do not have the energy. That it won’t make any difference. That no one will know if I don’t do them, except you. I’ve felt my back get better over time, however. I remember how I used to not be able to sit for ten minutes at a time. I recall how stiffly I walked, the pain and irritation of picking up or carrying even little things. I’m going to be committed, to remain committed, to do them, or others better for me as I progress.
I have to stop writing now which works out in two ways. First, I’ve said what I wanted to. Nothing more of import on the subject immediately comes to mind. Second, I have only so much time left before I need to leave to go to my day job. I am committed to doing, to counting on the result, of what lies before me.
Oh boy do I like being prepared. I like having what I need, when I need/ want it; being able to reach out to a friend when I want to, having the relationship with that person that I want; having my lunches ready even up to ten days in a row.
A guy visiting me in San Francisco some years back asked me which superhero I wanted to be. He was of interest to me, romantically, and it was important for his sake and perhaps more so mine to get this right. I didn’t. He was surprised in not an affirming way.
“Phineas Fogg.” Of all the superheroes I then knew, all the usuals in popular culture like Batman, Superman, Aquaman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, the Wonder Twins, etc. (I was all DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera at the time, it seems; this was before I experienced the marvel of Marvel and the MCU), I chose Phineas. The Foggster.
Phineas Fogg is the principal character of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eight Days, fin case you are not familiar. First published, in its original French, in 1872, and then in English in 1873. As my dear friend who tried to teach me French in college would tell you, I read it in English. Once back in my teen years, I think; again sometime around twenty years ago. I got most of my information about it, though, from the 1972 cartoon of the same name, and the 1956 movie. Have not yet seen the 2004 version.
My takeaway about Phineas Fogg, mostly and firstly from the cartoon, was that he had the superpower of always having what he needed at the time he needed it. He needed a contraption to get himself out of mess; he had it or it appeared. He needed money to buy this or that; his money never ran out. In the original, he did in the end spend most of his money, I recall; in the cartoon, however, I remember thinking it inexhaustible.
Such were the limits and the strengths of my imagination those days, those days of this not-really-that-romantic a weekend. I could imagine having the money I needed and wanted at the time I needed and wanted them. In earlier days, as I kid, I could be/ wanted to be an elf, a detective ala the Hardy Boys books, a fighting man like G.I. Joe, a commander of a fleet of planes made by putting two Lego pieces perpendicular, the owner and driver of a Matchbox Rolls Royce, a rider of dragons like The Dragonriders of Pern, a visitor looking into the adventures of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, and Legolas from the books the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. By my late thirties my vision and dream was reduced to Phineas. And, believe me, Phineas was a stretch.
In practical, daily terms, being prepared means having gas in my car. I hate running out of it. I think I have once. I now regularly keep the tank half-filled or more. It means having those lunches ready so when I’m in a massive hurry, running late, like Dagwood Bumstead from the 1930s and 1940s Blondie movie series. I try to allow time to be on time, am rarely late for appointments/ commitments, by being a touch early, allowing extra time. Today though life got in the way; in this case, LyU and waking later than usual, got in the way. No back exercises this morning. Which likely means none today.
I have food in the fridge and cupboard; clothes for the events I go to today (my day job and hanging around at home, the days of five sets of Prada shoes, of multiple cumberbund and tie sets, of a dinner jacket and tuxes, possibly behind me; multiple black pens and four sets of reading glasses wherever I sit; my car maintenance up to snuff, car and health insurance paid. This is not to say I have everything set. I do not. Not set socially, financially, religiously, spiritually, physically, relationally, intelligently. But I do what I can do. Have prepared as well as I am currently able.
Which sounds like it's all or mostly in the past tense. Prepared. No, being prepared, preparation, I’ve found, is a continuing thing, continuous thought and action. A part, an option, of life.
Time for the day job.
The building at my day job is going through a major renovation, one that will in the end occupy the same amount of space but offer much more. I guess, I hope, I plan, like me.
The ATM machine is one of the thousand actions that needed to take place. As it happens, I was working that day when the machine was moved. There was a whole process in getting it moved. The day before, an armed guard came and took out all the money and unplugged it. That day, that day a lone man, using leverage and a lift, was somehow able to move it. Those things are heavy. I’d hate to have to move one. Don’t know that I could.
The ATM was headed for a new location in front of a four plug electrical outlet. As it happens, that outlet is also used by two other pieces of machinery; there are no other suitable outlets they could use. It occurred to me, while watching and marveling at the man’s ability to heft ATM, that someone from our company should be there watching. Should be there making sure it was placed in a good spot.
But I stood twenty feet away and did not say anything. Not to the mover, not to one of my bosses, not to any of the bosses and others in charge who kept walking by. It was, easily, a twenty minute process. I did not stand around watching him the whole time but did stop and look two. I kept thinking someone should be making sure the ATM is going where it should. I did not say anything, thinking surely they have this all planned out. Surely. And, besides, it’s not my job. Not my job to move it, not my job to alert anyone about possible issues. My superiors probably would have listened but I would have had to make a stink about it. Surely they have this all figured out.
Well, it turned out that they had not. A plan was made to temporarily address the need for plugs for the other machines by the person from our company who is in charge of the building; he did not, however, talk with the person who is actually in charge of that specific area, who is one of his bosses, before he carried out his plan. It was found, a few days later, to be workable but not to the liking of the boss.
The ATM was put in front of the outlet, allowing enough space for it be plugged in but too close for easy plugging and unplugging of the other machines for they would have to be many times daily plugged and unplugged. And the ATM was placed before the outlet’s cover had been screwed on. So now the outlet is not easy to get to and the outlet is uncovered, a potential fire hazard. Besides not looking good.
If someone had just been paying attention, someone in charge who could have instructed the moving guy where to put the ATM. There was a plan but it was inadequate. No one bothered to work through the repercussions of the machine’s placement.
I, very likely, could have helped the whole situation work out. Instead I decided not speak up when I might have. We have a delay and added expense and probably some frustration as a result. No one’s going to blame me. Still doesn’t mean that things could not have been better. The time and effort it takes to rectify the situation is talking away from time and effort that could have been more usefully used.
My point is not that plans are necessarily or often perfect when created. There are, in my experience, often contingencies which change results. Sometimes unchangeably. It makes sense to me to make plans; and also to pay attention when plans are executed to make sure they are executed the better ways they can. I could have said something at the time. Someone from my company could have paid attention.
I could have paid attention to the work I did on LyU last night and gone to sleep earlier. Like I planned. Instead, this morning I am sleepy. I can feel that I am not one hundred percent. My day, my commute, my day job are yet ahead. I do not feel that my writing this morning sparkles. I must leave now before I am late.
This morning, from the get-go, I was in the flow. I had a plan of what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it for optimal, more importantly, perhaps, an enjoyable ride. I followed the thought-out plan and adjusted mid-course to adapt to store opening hours. Today, this morning at least, was dedicated to getting my errands run before it got hot. Before there were crowds. While I could get across the grocery store’s parking lot with only two speed bumps.
I have found, from previous excursions on other Saturday mornings, that the parking lot except near the store is mostly empty. By taking a left turn immediately after the right needed to get on the lot, I can and do cut through an empty section and diagonally across the adjacent, larger one. Then a stop sign, which I stop for. Then two speed bumps, these unavoidable. Then a right turn at the last row; park. Today, there was one open spot in that row, on the right. I grabbed it. As it happened, the spot was next to the shopping-cart return stall; I got a shopping cart and rolled into the store.
I was in and out in under ten minutes. The selection of greens and meats were as I wanted them; I bought extra supplies of them and suntan lotion to stock up. While I went to wait for one register to be available another worker motioned me over and rang me up.
The remainder of my errands ran likewise: in an easy and productive flow. There were two possible points when it might have stopped. The bottle-recycling place was not quite open (I was running a touch early) with five others in line. I saw a man with a single trash bag of plastic bottles, a man not associated with a car. I asked him if we wanted mine. He said yes. Recycling done. I got to the mail delivery place seven minutes before they opened (still running early). I wrote the draft for an email to a friend while waiting, an email I had been wanting to complete. In the middle there, some shopping at a general goods store where I found a few things I didn’t know I wanted, all at a reasonable price..
My goodness but do I like being in the flow. I like getting done what I want to get done; I like being flexible and accommodating along the way. When I am in flow, which can and does happen at my day job, at home, with friends, when I am out and about, frequently, I feel part of the universe. Part of life. I am.
Being in the flow is where I’d like to be. But it is not where I have to be. I am not as the mad scientist in the movie Star Trek Generations. He has to get to, wants to live always in, the temporal wave of energy/ place of being that courses across the universe called the Nexus. He is willing to sacrifice everything, anyone, everyone to get there. Me, not so much. There is good being out of the flow, too. At the least, it gives me empathy for those not in their flow. It also very much helps me enjoy, not take for granite, the flow when it arrives. I know how lucky I am. How fortunate I am.
Here’s the thing about being in the flow that I think perhaps some people miss: when you are in it, you are not separate from it. You are part of it. You are not like a log floating down a rapid stream, an inactive part of the process. No. You’re like a swimmer in the stream, in the river, adding your participation to the stream. You could also be as on a craft, a raft, a dingy, a broken piece of wooden fence, a houseboat, a sailboat, a passenger craft, a ferry. You can be by yourself, with a few, or a crowd, all in the flow. Even on a craft, however, you’re working: the work of breathing, drinking, eating, being, paying attention to whichever degrees.
Being in the flow is not take, take, take. It is receive, receive, give, receive, receive, give, give, give, receive, receive from the give. For surely we receive far, far, far more than we can give. Every breath, every pump of the heart, synapse firing in the brain is a receive and guaranteed to none. When in the flow, while in the flow, there’s a sense you have, the sense of being, doing, working, living as it is good to do. Not only good for you but Good. Living Life, capital L.
Around midday, I sat down to write today’s MOMENT. It didn’t feel right. There was much to be done, for LyU, for my prepping for the week, cleaning and organizing. But it didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel in the flow to do any of it. Not just now. I had purchased a DVD in that general goods store that I decided to watch instead. I had some lunch; got the movie started; fell asleep.
When I woke, I figured it out to be an hour and a half later (it was quite a nap, almost a sleep) because of the length of the show. I had missed all but a few minutes of it. Did not/ do not need to watch it again given what I saw. The point is, when I awoke, I was back in the flow. That break was what I needed. Abraham of Abraham-Hicks used to talk about this: break the not-being-in-the-flow in the way you can, and get back to it if you can. I again add, I’m okay if I’m not in it. I’m not like a drug user who must have their fix.
But it sure is fun when it’s here. Wouldn’t mind most of my days, or parts thereof, in it. Not all of life, though, is up to me. I am, in the meantime and I’m training/ teaching myself to be, happy to receive. To receive, and give.
Given the hour at which I am writing this you might think I am because I had a dream last night I want to talk about. You would be correct.
Last night I had a peculiar dream that would not let me go. It is sort of a retail dream, a responsibility dream, a better-watch-out and take care dream. At least that’s how I am understanding it now.
The dream put me in charge of a large and possibly vast warehouse. I was in charge of guarding it, or of diligently dispensing its contents, of both. The walls were high, the entrance an open space. There wasn’t a door I could close: instead a gap. A gap about three yards (approx. three meters) wide. The construction inside utilitarian, thick metal shelving pieced together using nuts and bolts. For those of you familiar, it looked like the inside of a Costco but with higher shelves, an undetermined ceiling, and wider aisles. Aisles as wide as the gap in the exterior walls. I could not see the back wall but that does not mean there wasn’t one; perhaps I simply could not see it.
Outside, on the side I stood, it was dark, presumably night. There were other people around, I felt, but none so close that I could make out their faces or identify them as particular individuals. Nope, it was just me and the stuff in the storehouse that I was responsible for.
How do you think of your own dreams? Do you believe that they are to be taken seriously, not seriously, as inconsequential, as a quirk of being alive but asleep? I won’t say I take them seriously, as factual recountings of what has happened or what is to come, though some dreams are more real to me than others. I do see them as relevant. Relevant to my experience of life, not necessarily or especially or usually my material experience of life, but rather indicative of my general experiences or opportunities possibly understood symbolically. I think it highly unlikely that I am going to be in charge of guarding a gap in wall, all the things inside, at any time in my life.
Might I symbolically?
That is another question. Perhaps I already am. Maybe I am standing in front of, guarding but open, the things, the thoughts I have about life. They stacked up, arranged inside. My job is to what: let others come in and get them? Or dole them out?
Perhaps the gap where I am standing is the gap where I will always be. Or maybe its a temporary (just for this night?) posting. Who put me there? Why am I staying there?
It’s also possible that the storehouse I’m guarding or at least feel like I’m responsible for the contained good of is the temporary access, position, I have to the great human unconscious. Are there connections between and among humans of which we are not consciously aware, that may or may not be ever measurable or observable? Rupert Sheldrake, as I understand his thinking, seems to think so. Check out morphic resonance if you’re of a mind.
There’s a kicker, actually kickers, in fact, biters in the dream that I have not yet told you about: crocodiles, or are they alligators, are hiding in the warehouse. They race out from under or around the shelves often when someone goes in, I go in, to get something and carry it outside. I vaguely recall an alligator (one has a wider spout, not sure if that’s the crocodile or the alligator, or which of the species is the more dangerous if either) with its mighty jaws biting a man in half; or hearing about one doing so or thinking that it might. Regardless of what I actually saw, I was afraid of them. I did not want to be chased or bitten by one.
So here I was: possibly guarding a warehouse of goodies of some sort; no clear guidance about what I was supposed to do from above, others in command, or in my own head. I was responsible for I did not know what. Did not a door to close or actually guard. The people who were present were not present in a distinguishable form. When I went it, if I were to go into the warehouse, wild alligators might very well come from hiding and attack me. My physical body, my life was at risk; so was that of those for whom I felt responsibility, the people I imagined who wanted some of the goods inside.
What to do with dreams.
True enough in the waking world. What do I do with my dreams there? Pursue them to realize them, let them come to me, decide them fantasy and unrealizable.
What to do with dreams from the unconscious, from my unconscious, or from the beyond.
In this dream, I tried keeping safe by standing or sitting on rollable plastic carts. As I write this, I consider how precarious that safety was. Can alligators jump? Crocodiles? How high? I think both have strong forearms and vicious.
This particular dream, also, would not let me go. It had its jaws on me. I woke up eight(?) times, each time either being attacked by an alligator or having been caught by one or one being menacingly close by or possible. It was a dream I could not shake. Sometimes in a dream I am aware that I am in a dream and can change the dream. In this dream, I was often aware I was in the dream but could not change the dream.
Finally my clock let me go: it was late enough, I guessed I had enough sleep, that I could wake up.
Perhaps, and you may think it obvious, this dream is about my writing MOMENT. I feel like I have indeterminate things in the warehouse that I want or would the better be dispersed, that would/ could be good for others. There’s a gap in the wall; I cannot close the door; I have already published online days of thoughts not only unedited but thoughts unreviewed. What have I written? What have I revealed? I looked over the list of chapter/ day titles last night, caught that one is named wave, and yesterday’s is flow: did I say the same thing again in different analogies? Am I going to be proud or embarrassed when I read over the days after I have reached a hundred? Some combination? Will I have then allowed an alligator to catch me and rip me in two?
A dear friend of mine now dead said something to me years ago that he had been told by a friend of his he considered wise. The idea gave my friend some rest, some intrigue, and a way of understanding dreams. The friend’s friend said that all the characters in a dream are the dreamer. That whatever we dream, whoever we dream of, whatever the situation, it's all part of us.
It is hard to dispute that whatever their origin, or “meaning,” we are the messenger and receiver of our individual dreams. I also, myself, consider, think, that we are all connected, all the members of our species, and with animalkind in general, in more ways that we think. In more ways, ways beyond and including the material of sharing the same planet, than we might possibly know or be able individually or collectively to understand. Therefore, dreams have things to say to us. Meaning. That meaning may be only the meaning that we ourselves decide they have. But is there much more, is there anything, beyond the meaning we assign/ ascribe to anything?
We sat, maybe fourteen of us, around a rather beaten-up large conference table in a corner room of the library building. Fourteen boys and our teacher, Mr. Mitchell. Rarely have I been with someone so patient, and so kind. He put up with us because he did not feel he was putting up with us but rather because of the things he loved. I was privy to two: teaching and history. He also loved lacrosse, as far as I could tell, but I was not a jock, not a lacrosse insider. Mr. Mitchell taught us Modern European History. The word indulgences I first heard about from him.
That was in eleventh grade, I think, though it may have been tenth. Somewhere around forty-one years ago. It seems that during the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church would sell heaven. No, it wasn’t exactly like that: the church hierarchy sold chits that forgave sins for money. Chits called indulgences. Chits isn’t exactly the right word. The Church sold indulgences. The rich could pay their way to heaven. To forgiveness of sins.
This idea flies in the face of, is against, the Protestant idea that reconciliation with God, available to all, is free, comes at no cost to us but all the cost to Jesus. All we need do is believe.
Not getting further into theology here, that’s what I think of when I think of indulgences. At least fleetingly.
But then I come to the modern idea of indulgences. Luxury. Something not needed, not in a strict sense, but wanted. Something done or purchased for immediate or intermediate gratification. Like yesterday. Yesterday, when I came home from a perfectly fine and full day at my day job but had to “feel better,” had (I told myself) to console myself for the day I’d had. Instead of driving by, I drove in. Into the parking lot where I found a good parking spot because I’m getting used to that parking lot. Driving in it. At the full service supermarked I found what I wanted but was indeed an indulgence of a high degree: chocolate cookies. I don’t need them, have plenty of healthier food at home. I don’t need them, they slow and slightly reverse my trek to my ideal goal. I want to lose weight, build muscle, and dip below the prediabetes score I have back into “normal.”
Eating the cookies will not help me much, most likely not at all, at any of the three.
Eating cookies does make me feel good, or maybe eating them reminds me unconsciously of all the delicious cookies I’ve had before. I don’t need chocolate cookies for my teeth’s sake either. I also don’t need chocolate cookies and the sugar they contain in regards to reducing the risk of my having another kidney stone. (One was enough.)
Once I have one cookie, I have the habit of having another, more, until the bag or plastic tin is done. One indulgence leads to massive numbers of indulgences.
Yesterday, I decided to play it smart. I did not buy the giant chocolate chip cookies, eight in a pack; found against the idea of buying another option, the crunchy chocolate chip cookies, because of their price. Though a third of the weight of the big ones, they were two-thirds the price. No, playing it smart, haha, I bought a large chocolate chip brownie. My justification was that it was less expensive than cookies; I did not have to eat the whole thing at one sitting. You may be surprised to hear I did. Within an hour, it was gone. Not gone, really, instead in process. Inside of me. Causing, after the initial pleasure, possible damage in me.
An indulgence is one thing; indulgences are, in my book, another. I think that a treat, like watching a mindless TV show (not taking into account that every story has its viewpoint, the more watching of a viewpoint, the more likely it is going to affect the viewer if not become the viewer’s viewpoint), a cookie or piece of brownie can be good. We live in a rich world; it’s good at times to enjoy its bounty. But indulgences, too much of even good things, probably how life is for the very rich, is not good. Too much for the person taking them, leaving too little behind for others.
Maybe the rich buying the indulgences from the Church would have the better given the money directly to the poor or not directly to the church. Maybe I need to drive straight and eat other things.
I write each of these day’s rivers because, obviously, I have a personal and particular interest in the subject/ idea I am writing about. This one is especially important and significant (not just important but reiterated with a synonym for emphasis) to me because, well, I do not often do it. Finish. I don’t finish often enough. The things I have started. I stop too. Soon. Before the period was in its place properly put.
Another one of my tactics of avoidance: digressions.
I get started on ideas and projects easily enough and often with plenty of energy. I just jump in. A new idea (new to me idea) pops into my head as if heaven sent. This idea, this one is going to explain it all. Put it all together. Makes sense of life, my life today and possibly forever.
They never quite work out that way. An idea, a project, gives me renewed enthusiasm and clear purpose. I am carried by thrill, the eruption of dopamine, I suppose, that accompanies it. I go strong through, for, an hour, a day, a week, weeks, months. Then the metaphorical second day arrives (be it the second hour, day, week, month, or year). Though those days I push. I tell myself: don’t doubt yourself, Knight, keep going. The idea reveal itself over the next periods of time and work to be insufficient in some way. It never, no theory, no system, no idea, no precept, ever, at least so far, explained everything. Been always and everywhere universally true.
Even as I write this, I worry that even this idea about ideas is imperfect, insufficient, incomplete.
And then I don’t finish. I won’t say I give up on the idea, or usually that it is “wrong.” I spend some time lost and dithering and frittering; then another idea, or a new slant on another one previously had, comes. Off to the races again. This idea/ concept/ plan grabs me and I am enthused again. Ah, the drug of enthusiasm.
Why don’t I finish?
Because I am concerned that what I have done so far is not good enough; because everything in the end is connected and how can I stop here when this thing could/ should also be mentioned; because I can do better; because no one is forcing me to; because I am only going to get one chance with people, one chance per person, I tell myself; because anyone could start anywhere in LukeyoutheU and be turned off by that experience when other experiences in LyU could be just what they want and are looking for; because I sometimes consider the same what I do, what I produce, with what I am, a writer, thinker, experimenter, hope-to-be expander; because I conflate what I am (the list you just read) with who I am. The what is the outward life of me; the who is the inner. Inseparable from others’ view of me, perhaps, but I look at it this way: the who causes/ allows/ drives the what.
In the end, at the finish line, haha, these are rationalizations and excuses. They may, one, some, or all, also be true. More important than their truth, though, is their effect. They result, when I listen to them, to my not always or often completing a project at hand. Maybe I’m scared to. You’re darn right I’m scared. What happens if I finish and it’s not well-received; what happens if I finish and put it out there, then go back and see something that I might have the better done; what happens if I don’t like the finished product, am happy enough with the parts but not the whole.
Being scared is not enough reason not to do, though. Not if what I’m doing, you’re doing, is the better thing at the time to do. You have decided and chosen to do it. Scared is an excuse but not a reason. You only have courage when it's needed. Otherwise
I have completed many things in my life. Often at the last minute, but I did finish them. My mother was none too happy to type my eleventh grade term paper, a big part of my English grade, in the wee hours of the morning as I handed her the paper page by page written just then. (These were the times of actual typewriters, no word processors.) I did get an A- on the paper, one of only four As in the whole grade. I did get the paper done.
There are other examples of course. My point is: I want to finish more often. Finish on time after having given my best effort. My best-that-I-could-at=the-time work. Then let it be. Not go back and adjust.
I’m taking this desire to finish, this compulsion in at least this case to complete, to write MOMENT today and for sixty-seven more.
Saying and proclaiming that you’re going to do something is fine and dandy; but did you follow through?
Those are things I tell and ask myself. I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, I put myself at a disadvantage, by not jotting down what I promised to you, the reader, along the way.
I made a pledge not to review what I had previously written for MOMENT and I have kept that promise. I promised not to change it, dress it up, edit it or correct it. I have not. There was one instance where, in cutting and pasting a daily update, my eye was drawn and I could not help myself from catching the word X-ray. I had forgotten I had written about the infection in my lung. I’m glad I caught X-ray because I figure some of you may want to know: I was, fortunately, happily, given the all-clear by the X-ray two days ago. I took the X-rays in the morning and by that afternoon heard back. I received an updated message, this one directly from my doctor, about my lung, early Tuesday morning. A thought of Uh-oh, something is ran through my head before I opened the email but I stopped it mid-sentence. You have no idea, Knight, what it says. Don’t freak.
My doctor had evidently that night reviewed the X-rays and the notes on them, ones I had that afternoon already received, and then commented on them. Saying the same thing: all clear. Whew. My maternal grandfather, mother, and father all had lung problems, the first two leading directly to their deaths. I’d like to have clear lungs. Turns out, who would have thought it, breathing is important. Something we do every day, all day, all the time, don’t even think about until there’s a stink or smoke in the air, is vital to living. To the enjoyment of life. While we’re alive, as individuals and as a species, on this spinning globe.
About In-n-Out, the chain of burger joints, those “California classics,” that I said I was not going to for these one hundred days: I have a technical win. To be forthcoming, however, I have not been so strong on the bigger point: regularly, usually, always eating healthily. Regularly, I’ve got, even usually; but always, well, that’s a no.
There have been a few times when an In-n-Out has laid on my route or on a route going to or from someplace that I could have easily taken. I have successfully changed my route or not pulled in its parking lot.
And it’s a big however.
However, I have gone to Del Taco at least three times, and each time had their #1 meal, two crunchy beef tacos, small fries, medium soda. How is that materially different than the #2 at In-n-Out, a cheeseburger, fries (In-n-Out has only one size, I’d say it’s a medium plus), and soda? Well, the material itself is different, haha. But admittedly not by much. Both meals are tasty in my mouth and going down; both are problematic when it comes to eating healthily.
Additionally, I have been to Donut King twice in this past month. Twice is about one time more than normal. The first time I ate not my usual two chocolate raised donuts but three. That’s a lot. Overkill. Don’t know who I was showing off for. The person behind the counter was not impressed. The second time I had two, and both times milk. The milk makes it all better, haha. One time 2%, the other whole. The shop does not offer no-fat.
As I am writing this, I’m feeling not exactly shame, and not exactly relief. I’m feeling like these are the facts and you deserve to know them. I, even more, would be smart to pay attention to them.
Five donuts, six tacos, three fries, whole milk once in the past month? You say. That's not so bad. Not done yet.
I discovered about six months ago this amazing place called Safeway. It is, for those not familiar, a full-service, we-got-about-every-kind-of-American-food-you-could-want, and usually in two or three or more varieties, supermarket. Also some ethnic food. The Safeway of which I speak is a mile from my home, and on my way home from the day job I’d say eighty-five percent of the time. I pass it on my way to my day job and I usually pass by it on my way back home from my day job. I had been to it once before the six months. That was a dash in and out to get distilled water for my nightly nasal rinse. Did you catch that? I went it to get water. What more noble, more innocent item to purchase could there be than water?
That trip, however, opened me up to the wonders of what they had. (I almost always buy my food from the general goods store of my day job or a small, largely health-oriented chain that’s mostly on the West Coast.) Food galore. An overabundance. Too much. Turned out they have a large bakery section. And in that section, chocolate chip cookies.
I don’t recall if it was on the water visit or another maybe a month after that that I bought my first box of chocolate chips. I’d like to think it was not on the water visit. One time, at least, I want to think of myself as strong.
Somewhere in there for maybe two months I did not return. Then I did. For wasabi. Wasabi to put on cold salmon that I intended (did and do) eat raw. Sushi style. What could be healthier than salamon and wasabi? After trying the restaurant-style variety (light green food dye, other additives) I now go for the more natural, duller green variety. Almost pond-scum colored. But spicy with a kick that tastes great with Salmon.
Also I bought chocolate chip cookies. I mean, I was there. Eating healthy fish. I could surely have a couple of cookies.
I bought not the largest but not the smallest package. Said I’d space them out. Did. But instead of the plan of spacing that out over days, I spaced eating them out over hours. Finished most of the entire clear, bakery-fresh package. Felt heavy in my stomach and a modest sugar rush through my veins. Threw out the rest of the package.
The long and the short of it (too late), is that I bought packages of monster big cookies twice and a more modest, ahem, chocolate chip brownie, three times last week. Spread the big cookies over two days, threw out the last of six in the package. Ate the sizable brownie in one night.
So the giving up of going to In-n-Out is technically working. But not so much, perhaps not going there, has opened up me going to places at least not as great for me.
I was conscious and fully aware while I was buying and eating this stuff, just to be clear. No one forced me. I did not force me. I let me.
That’s where I am. I think I mentioned a fourth update but I’m not sure and I don’t remember one and I’m about to be late to leave for my day job so I’m outta here.
Willingness is a state of being that I would like to always like to be in. Now that’s a lackluster sentence. It uses boring verbs and ends with a dead end preposition. Let me start again.
Willingness is officially defined by Google (the dictionary they use) in a way that’s less than what I think it is. “the quality or state of being prepared to do something; readiness” seems inadequate. As does this beginning, start number two.
Typically I have some idea of how I am going to start these days; early this morning and again this afternoon ideas on willingness were abundant. Now, however (Why did I start so late? Should I have watched episodes of Modern Family before writing? Maybe eating the mac and cheese and tuna did not need to followed by the salmon and protein drink?) close to nothing.
A friend from my early adulthood, let’s call him Carl, epitomizes willingness to me. If you needed help on a project or help moving something, he was there. He was ready with a smile when there were dishes to be done or tables to be cleaned and he’d happily do the work. He was just up and willing.
Willingness is the ability to stick with something. Being willing to see it though. It is being willing to take a risk, and taking it. It is being willing to do what you can even when it isn’t your best. It’s being willing to go to a job, day after day, that you just don’t like. Willingness is being willing to be ridiculed and laughed at. The willingness to be wrong. The willingness to admit that you were/ are wrong.
Willingness is also being willing to be right. It’s being willing to stand strong. It’s keeping up, honoring, a commitment even when, especially when, it’s inconvenient; or difficult.
Being willing sometimes means the possibility of landing flat on your face.
It’s being ready for anything. It is recognizing that your life, that life, mine, too, is more than flow, meaning, continuously feeling good, new discoveries, ease. Sometimes, I hope for you infrequently, it’s being willing for something to suck.
And it's being willing for what you consider tedious, boring, inconsequential to say to you what it will.
Last night, getting up to put away the breakfast tray and used dishes I had on it, from eating dinner while on my bed, I noticed near the foot of the bed a stain. A stain on the comforter. The comforter, one that I had purchased about half a year ago only after much deliberation; going to five stores in four different towns in its search; buying, deciding against, and returning another; grow to like more the longer I have it; is just the right shade of light grey, if a bit short at the end but that I can deal with. Now, or at least yesterday, it has a stain. A smirch. Can I keep nothing without denting it.
How the stain got there is a mystery. One thing is clear: I am the culprit. There is no other (for me to try) to blame. No one else has been in my room; I have no cat (in my experience messier animals than their reputation claims), no dog, no bird that got out of its cage. I was sure I made no mess. No blueberry got away. Nonetheless a stain.
It looked dark and perhaps oily. If oil (again, how?), that was likely bad news. Tough to get out. I know from experience; I have a stain on the comforter’s other side already. I guess I had not learned from that mistake to eat at the table. I did eat at the table for a few weeks. Wound up again eating on the bed. The comforts and freedoms and price and reality of living alone.
I did what I knew to do: poured cool water on the spot; used a smidge of dishwashing soap and rubbed; more cool water.
Did the stain go away? I don’t know yet. I hadn’t the heart to look first thing this morning and then decided to keep that news for the big reveal at the end of today’s writing.
It was a mistake. An error. I don’t like making them, I especially don’t like admitting them publicly, they happen (I cause them) more often than I even let myself know, somehow I keep it (my life) together. Somehow, I am considered (I think), I think of myself as largely competent. There are 183 things I do in a day that I get right (I have not actually counted); some things, not. I did, inadvertently, unremembered-at-the-time-ly, overrule a decision of my boss's yesterday. They weren’t there to defend themselves but I did not do it consciously. It had to do with the numeration of new equipment. But the numbering I went with made sense to me and the others I checked with given work unbeknownst to my boss subsequently done. Anyway. Not sure if that was an official mistake.
A weirder thing happened yesterday, too, one which likely has more impact that the stain on my comforter or the numbering of machines: I lost an hour. I am not kidding you. I awoke plenty early to get everything done including full physical therapy exercises; got everything done including full (full in reps but at the short range of sets) exercises, sat down to write yesterday’s piece and an hour was gone. Had gone missing. It was some minutes after six when it should have been, according to my careful planning and waking early, some minutes after five. How did the time disappear? How had I misplaced an hour? Was I so entranced with exercising and my thoughts that it simply passed by without me noticing?
Now there’s a reason for concern. If I can’t keep track of my hours…
Another mistake. Another missed take. A missed opportunity of not spilling, not overriding, not writing.
Because, by the time I caught the actual time, I think it was perhaps 6:15, I had to scurry to get the final ready things done and drive to my day job. I had no time to write. The willingness of yesterday night would have, likely, been much more coherent and interesting. I’m assuming yesterday’s was not interesting though I still hold out hope that it was informative. At the very least as a demonstration that I had the willingness to write daily even with nothing much cohesive or possibly engaging to say. I don’t know how yesterday reads because I haven’t reread it; the writing of it work like the proverbial pulling of teeth.
A mistake is a missed take. A missed opportunity that our conscious mind reminds us of. Our rational and probability-based-on-past-experiences brain tells us we have screwed up. I feel bad, a bit, about the probable stain, overriding, lack of sense of time/ not writing something better yesterday. That’s what my rational and emotional centers tell me. That I have done things bad.
My brother, also yesterday, asked me something along the lines of do I have any regrets. Do I regret decisions I made, actions I took in my past. I had an audience of four for my response: him, my stepmother, myself, and the universe. There were probably different levels of caring/ concern, myself having the most and the greater universe the least, about my answer. I didn’t think of my answer so much as it came up out of me: the path I took is the one I took and got me to where I am today. I did what I could, the best that I could?, when I made my decisions. I implied, I hope they inferred, that since I can’t do anything about my previous thoughts/ actions, there was no sense in worrying about them. Learning from them, maybe. That, learning from, would be good. Which I hope I have.
A paragraph involving religion follows: if you want to skip it, please do so.
This not forever laboring on the perceived mistakes of the past thing is, I think, a strong suit of Christianity. You mess up; there’s a mechanism, a personal and self-forgiveness; you go on. This understanding of Jesus’ time in physical form, this way of thinking, allows for a lighter life. A life of fewer recriminations. An observation.
The thing is: how do I know these were/ are mistakes? I judge them from my thoughts, experiences, feelings, ideas of what others may think. But I do not have the whole mind. I do not know the whole of life. What is a mistake can turn out to be a good thing. Not to get religious (again), but a blessing. That which is bad on the face of it can, in time, in time sometimes short, be understood a good, if not for the good.
I’m trying to think of an example. Half a second into the attempt one arises. This same brother and I were driving home late one night and a driver who turned out to be drunk came across the highway median strip, hitting us head on. The police estimated the driver was going between ninety and one hundred miles per hour; I was driving at least the speed limit of fifty-five, truth be told, likely a bit faster. The resulting accident caused my brother an overnight in the hospital, the other driver significant injuries, me being unconscious for a day or two and a rebuilt left sinus and cheek. In most people’s books, it was bad. It was bad to have the accident.
Mine, too. But even more it was good. I woke up from being unconscious more aware than ever that I was alive. Overjoyed, thankful to be so. Expressed, knew my connection with the Divine. Took a few months to recover and wasn’t handsome in the process but turned out okay in the end. Have some lasting effects, a few, to this day but it's okay. I often wonder if my accident didn’t help me to stand out in my college application, a bit, and help me get into UVa.
Don’t know. Do know what was/ is bad can also, at least sometimes, be good, a good, a better. I’m glad I was in that accident, that my brother was not seriously injured, that the other driver survived and was able to walk and live, that I didn’t die. That I got propelled into thinking about existential things. Which I still do probably some part of every day.
The importance of things, events, are the importance we give them. What we take away from our mistakes (maybe you make none?) is, in my experience frequently (always?) worth the making of them.
The world lies before us and is; also, we are making it up as we go along.
I’m going to check in with my boss today; I’m looking at the clock, doing the arithmetic, I have time for only abbreviated physical therapy exercises but they will do, maybe I need to not wake up earlier but get going earlier; I just checked and the thumb-sized dark stain has become an American football-sized and shaped water-mark.
Getting ready to write earlier this morning, I powered up my desktop as usual. Power on, plug in the correct ethernet cord, open phone, change wifi, put in pin. But when the screen came on on my Mac, a grey info bar was above the usual window. It had important information, I’m sure; but not information that was useful for me just then. I wanted the extraneous bar gone. Try what I might, click where I could and thought to do, I couldn’t get rid of it. I tried everything I could think of before the fail-safe: restart. I restarted the computer.
I don’t have to tell you what you already know but will anyway to make sure: it worked. The rebooted machine had not extra top grey bar. I could go on with my life.
A do-over. I got a do-over, which is not really doing over as if the first time didn’t happen but instead doing the whatever again.
I wonder how many times I’ve used that trick. Not just on the computer but in many areas of life.
Naps. Naps are, for me, a great way to reset. They reset my energy, my mood, the flow of the day. When I notice that I am run down, or unnecessarily frustrated; I am in a stinky mood; I do not want to do anything; a nap is often the ticket. I take a snooze and then wake-up-baby-daylight! It’s like I have a whole new day. A short day, but a day. I have new energy, ideas, hope. I’m ready to tackle what I need to, work on what I want to.
There’s a movie called Skyscraper with Dwayne Johnson, he also known as The Rock. [Spoiler Alert; skip to next paragraph to miss.] It’s an enjoyable, diversionary, action flick that has its resolution the turning off and on again of a fire-suppression system. After all the fighting, scheming, risk-taking, shooting, killing, betrayal, danger, intrigue, child-rescuing, that’s the move that saves the day. Power off, power on.
I had a hard reset in my life when, after accepting in my mid-twenties that I was gay, I moved from the East to the West Coast of the United States. I knew few and stayed with a friend of a friend; from there and then I built a new life.
Sometimes something as simple as turning my head can reset my mood. From something that causes pain to something that gives relief. If I just stop looking over there at that person/ thing that distresses me that I can do nothing about and instead look over there, where things are going well, people are doing well, I can feel better. Reset my emotions.
Watching a TV show that makes me laugh or a movie that makes me feel often gives me courage, and happiness.
The biggest reset power, however, comes in the mind. Goggle’s definition of reset: “set again or differently.” When we, when I, can reset a situation that others would probably find bad into something good, then we’ve come upon useful power. I’m getting older; I’m gaining birthdays, wisdom, and perspective. I no longer need to do this to please that person.
I no longer have to do what I thought I must and could not: be perfect. I cannot reliably please everyone, anyone, or myself. Once I realized/ realize that, once I reset from that intention/ goal, from other’s ideas for me or older versions of me for mine, I had/ have a new life. My life, me, may seem the same to those outside of me; it may take many of all of the same forms; but I have inside changed. Have life, energy, expression anew.
I would say my father was honest; I would also say he wasn’t entirely forthcoming. I could say the same about me. Were I to know you, know you well, I could probably say the same thing about you.
There are many stories, events, incidents in my life which will likely never be revealed to another. The connection of this idea to my father has to do with an unusual few minutes of a video call we (my family) had with him some few months before he died. I don’t remember quite how we got onto the subject. Our video calls, most of the interactions I had with my father over the course of my life, were light, almost jovial. I don’t know how he was around other people. But for me he almost always had a smile. He supported me deeply, even when sometimes he disagreed (politics, the economy, some of the decisions and choices I made in my life). He seemed, and was, open with me.
To a point. Thinking about it, I was quite the same with him. (Perhaps in general? Did I learn the way of being, acting, adopting it from him?) There are things we talked about, spoke easily, freely, flowingly. Others of which nary a word was said. And then under duress, at least emotionally. We, he and I, very rarely talked about my being gay. Don’t know if I ever said the word gay in his presence.
When I could not deny to myself my feelings towards men and not women, I believed at the time there was something wrong with me and that I could be “fixed.” Culturally, socially, being gay when I was growing up, was not acceptable. Not religiously, biblically-as-I-understood-it-was-being-told-it-at-the-time. It was verboten. But there I was, knowing since seven?, maybe younger?, that I was all into the guys and, though I had many girl friends, not into the gals.
My father was open, fun, jovial, easy to get along with, in the ways he could and wanted to be. Probably, if I were to look into a mirror, mirrors which I am not always enamored with these days because of the image shown back, if I were, I would see I am much the same.
Is that good or bad, how it is for him, for me, for others, for many or most? I don’t know. I just don’t have the insight to see people’s relevant past experiences and decisions. I can’t faithfully say I know all of mine. I am rather sure there are things, events, ideas, thoughts that I have which are not disclosed, which I have not disclosed, to me.
I am probably disclosing more than I know, more than I want to, in writing today and possibly every time I write. Well, so be it.
That video call, my dad and family listening, participating, from three different states (states geographic, in the USA, and states of mind, more than three), he said there were things he was not ever going to tell us. He told us he was not going to tell us with a dab of glee. Secrets he was going to keep. We had been talking about some secret, some undisclosure, that another family member was keeping.
I wonder if this isn’t true of everyone. So much I keep to myself is of likely the littlest interest to anyone. It’s of scant interest to me. Other, so called big secrets, things that I think I’d be embarrassed about where they publicly known—yeah, I have some of those. I probably have some more that I’ve shoved into my unconscious, that have been sucked into my unconscious, that my unconscious has pulled from my conscious to protect me. I don’t know and I’m okay with that. Good thing, because that’s how it is.
Besides, some mystery is a good thing. Keep things interesting. I don’t need to know, don’t want to know, anyone else’s every thought. Couldn’t handle the volume or content of the information. It’s not my business, anyway.
What is my business is developing and using my discernment. Is what I’m thinking useful and good? I’d like my thoughts to qualify in both but most may not. If my thought which cannot all be controlled are not all useful and good than I can at least try to have my actions be useful and good.
There, in that case, I think I have a bit more success. As I measure the standard and execution.
So what is to be disclosed or left undisclosed? What I, what you, think best, of course.
The wobbles hit me this morning and I should not be surprised. I am not.
Yesterday was a splendid day. I was engaged, involved, and actually excited at my day job. My coworkers were easy to get along with and wanting also to work like I was, productively. We had our small challenges and our rushes but not our most challenging customer. Which was good. I took command some of the time, a backseat at other of the times, did not push my opinions onto others as I have sometimes in the past tried to do. I appreciated where I was and who I was with, coworkers and customers both; I was appreciated verbally and in action. The coworkers I am supposed to train paid attention and responded in action appropriate.
Work on MOMENT the morning before went well. I am happy with what I wrote. This (perhaps the only time) I had to reread the day’s writing because my internet was down. I wrote the pages by hand, in cursive, in my yellow spiral notebook. I was tempted once, in typing it up last evening, to change one thing in it but abstained. You got it as I wrote it.
I like how MOMENT is progressing. Happy I started it.
On the way home, I thought first of having a donut that became two (chocolate raised) at Donut King; the Del Taco sitting kitty-corner must have sent out a siren call for me to visit. I did. The wait was long, the line was long. The workers were apologetic and kind. I got the #1: two hard-shell tacos, one fries, a Coke. Not exactly a high quality meal but a tasty one. Followed by those two donuts at Donut King. And a container of low-fat milk. I indulged as I do not often, necessarily weekly, sometimes monthly, do.
I guess I felt that I could do no wrong.
If I wasn’t high enough from a good day at work and a remarkably speedy commute, I was definitely higher still with the sugar, carbs, fats.
Home brought a fun call with my stepmother; the typing of yesterday’s MOMENT and feeling good about that; more MOMENT work, this time on the LukeyoutheU website. Yesterday, I wrote day37.
Sleep around 9:30pm.
So far, so great.
I woke up at two. Zing awake! There had been some dream with me endless riding a bicycle but I conscious remember no more. 2:00 on the alarm clock, when the alarm is set for 7:00, is too early. Too early to get up.
I did anyway. That was my first wobble: waking up so dastardly early. I know I need sleep, I seek sleep. I’m pretty sure after writing this I’m going asleep. I had ideas for MOMENT’s webpage organization. They gave me energy. I was, after trying, not going back to sleep. If I didn’t work on MOMENT just then, I might lose the train.
wobble 1 up too early
I worked on MOMENT stuff until around four-thirty. Then I turned to my regular schedule of morning in preparation for laundry. Yup, laundry day. I go to a laundromat so there is planning involved.
All during this time, from waking through until about now, wobble 2. I woke with (from?) a dull pain, more like an acute ache in my lower left side. Don’t recall any issues in that region before. Was by no means excruciating. No fever, bleeding, other syptoms. I could push into it and it hurt but not much more than before. Was this the result of gorging myself last night? From being so happy and full of my myself yesterday did I twist myself ungainly?
wobble 2 pain on left side front
I decided on Dr. Nature. It didn’t seem serious; I hoped/ expected it to pass. It’s almost gone now.
I also kicked my left lesser toes as I rounded a metal filing cabinet. The toes would have hurt more had I not decided to not think about them. Worked for a bee sting once, for me; worked again this morning. My toe pain subsided. No blood or outward signs of lasting trouble
wobble 3 banged left foot toes
I recognized at this point that I was wobbling or, at least, having wobbles. Things Unwanted That Could Ruin My Day. Worse yet, they possibly could slow or stop my momentum from yesterday. I wondered if the wobbles were some sort of karma for such a good day yesterday. Not every day can be a delight, I thought to myself, but not for long. Gosh darn it I want today to be good. I didn’t want to step into a day when I did not get more of what I wanted (MOMENT, laundry, tidying, resting, napping, watching movies and a show (shows and a movie? a show? a movie? Facebook Reels or Tiktok?), talking to my regular on the phone.
Mostly, I was concerned about MOMENT. I felt yesterday that I was for sure going to like the finished project. Extra mostly, I didn’t want to lose my purpose and perspective.
The solution? Follow my calendar. Do the morning routine I normally do. Rest in, work from, the structure already built.
To prep for said laundromat, I regularly/ always clean out the open cardboard boxes in my trunk to make room for the three modestly-sized clothes baskets I put in there instead. The boxes hold recyclable bottles (a lot of them); a small cooler for when I buy fruit or other groceries and want to stay out; recyclable cardboard; plastic thin orange beach towel holders in which I keep folded and reusable grocery bags. Gripping stuff, I know and aren’t you glad I told you about it. There is a reason.
Also in the trunk, in the back of the trunk, another this one small cardboard box with spray interior window cleaner I rarely use, a roll of paper towels; next to that, a closed black plastic box which holds other auto cleaners I don’t remember because I also rarely use them; a black plastic slotted bin tilled with other auto jetsam and a plastic shopping bag holding plastic tub of liquid laundry detergent. Aren’t I smart to carry it around with me, this detergent, in case there’s ever an emergency laundering needed. In point of fact, I leave the tub in there because it's convenient. Because also, in this and other certain ways, I have been lazy.
Well, no more. Not in regards to the laundry soap, anyway. The tub, its sides sucked in like an inhaling gaunt person, had broken. Burst in the heat? From my speed demon driving (not likely)? Liquid laundry soap in the bag, in the bottom of the small black container holding the tub, in the bottom of the larger black slotted but-not-slotted-on-the-bottom container I already told you about.
I don’t know if you’ve tried cleaning up liquid laundry detergent before. Not easy. Not possible? Depends on the surface affected.
Fortunately, the black plastic containers and the plastic bag held. They stopped any liquid from getting onto the carpet underneath. I did put the solution, from the outside of the plastic bag, on the carpet in the front of the trunk before I realized the breakage/ leak. It wasn’t that much; I didn’t much worry; I dabbed up what I could with a paper towel from the roll; called it a day. A job well enough done. After returning from the laundromat, I bagged all the involved items in two white trash bags and through them away. Time to, an opportunity to, upgrade the storage boxes in my trunk from cardboard to plastic. And get rid of whatever is in that closed plastic box.
To make it clear:
wobble 4 liquid laundry detergent free and running amok
There are three ways to handle wobbles, three ways I can think of. Imagine, decide, they are signs of doom, messages from the heavens that you are doing wrong, and allowing them to set your day downward, off its previous path (and watch a lot of TV shows and movies, in my case); you can ignore them, or try to ignore them, or succeed at ignoring them, consider them unrelated, independent events, and press on; or you can say, AHA! This is me getting worried about little things. Pennies on the train tracks that I fear can/ will derail the train. Okay, stones maybe even. But that train is going to keep on going. Wobbles and all. Keep on going where it is bound to go.
That’s where I am, anyway.
An additional word about laundromats. A good laundromat is a great find and the one I go to is amongst the best I have ever seen/ been to. From the time I left my place and loaded up the car (discovering the detergent mess) with my three baskets of laundry; to driving to the laundromat, arriving at opening; to using three four-loader washers at a cost of $5.25 each; drying my clothes and bed linens for no additional cost in the free-if-you-wash big tumble dryers; folding and packing all back into the three bins; returning home and putting it all away, making my bed; it took two and a quarter hours. 5:45am to 8:03. For three weeks worth of laundry. And today included one washer for the grey comforter. The comforter turned out fine. I have not seen that the water mark is still there, and only the slighted indication of another stain. I’ll inform you if I find any.
While the clothes were washing, I caught up on some email reading.
Not bad, eh? I’ve lived in other laundry-care situations. This one is definitely not bad.
I think of risk often. The risk of tangling with other countries; the risk of continuing and with increased abandon pumping CO2 in the air; the risk of plastics in our food system; the risk of letting one ideology alone rule assuming that any has life all figured out (no one does). The risks I think of more often are personal.
I’m going to get my haircut again today; the risk there is not great. I’ve got the driver over, only two and a half miles away on not congested streets; the air in the salon, hoping it to be contagion free or at least little. The stylist’s skill today in cutting and not stabbing me. It’s a low risk event.
A bigger risk by a magnitude of a hundred is the writing I’m doing for MOMENT. Is it any good, will anyone like it, will I like it, most importantly, blah, blah blah. A lot is riding on its success: potential exposure to my first audience beyond close friends. My career as a writer. My ego and sense of self.
In another way, a more significant way, a truer way, writing this is of little risk at all. People will either like it or not; some will, some won’t. Friends will hold with me, or go. I care but I can’t let their decisions rule my life. I write because I have to. It’s not that someone is putting a gun to my head; it’s not that I am putting a gun in my mouth. It is that I have, for spurts, written since I was fifteen, more so during school breaks and in college. A few hundreds of pages, many more than a few. Early in my years in San Francisco, I gave it another push, twice applying to Stanford’s graduate program, once prose, the second poetry (!) (I had no business doing that), twice no reply which meant no. That I have, twice, left jobs, years apart, lived off the retirement money earned, and ostensibly tried to write. To produce not much of anything. I don’t even remember what. It was supposed fiction at first, for the first couple of decades; then writing the uber practical, a guide book to retail, as if those retail-inclined were likely to read, after my mother died on some of the money she left me.
In my not-quite two years in Palm Springs, I wrote two books. Agonized over their editing and message in subsequent reads.
For the past twelve years I’ve been nurturing the ideas of LukeyoutheU and writing copy for that, starting the website in 2015.
That brings up pretty much up to now. I love dancing, danced often in my first years in SF, but I don’t have to dance. I have to write. If others read, all the better. Regardless, I have to write.
So, really, there is no risk. My duty, job, calling, opportunity, requirement, personal dharma, task, work, joy, responsibility, function, meaning, gift, curse, possibility is to write. What risk is there in doing what one must?
There are times in my life, most especially in my mind, where I have options. Loads of options. How do I decide?
An example is me sitting down to write today. Before me are five topics I could write about, want to write about, will likely all write about in the future for MOMENT. For the moment, however, I have to pick just one. And do so quickly. I’ve learned or at least noticed that in writing MOMENT daily, the days I feel best about, usually, as those I write in the morning. I have again put myself in a box by setting my alarm for one time, waking up earlier, turning off the alarm and returning to sleep, then waking up later. I haven’t much time to write this morning but this morning I am thinking I must. Which option to choose?
If a gun were put to my head is a drastic image and, thankfully, I have never been in a spot when a gun was physically put to my head. I was mugged once, at an ATM, and where I was able to talk down the mugger from I think it was $100 to $60 while he, purportedly with a gun in his coat pocket and pointing at my midsection, who was I to argue with the shape of the material, but there I was arguing, haggling with possibly my life and more likely injury. He took the $60 and left, I leaving in another direction and also hastily. A winter’s evening but not dead of night; I want to say nine or ten. I had the option to not try to bargain him down; it was surely a ridiculous risk to take, on the face of it and on reflection; it worked.
Did he actually have a gun? That I was not willing to risk. I took him at his word. Did I really quibble over forty dollars? Forty dollars, for most of my life, has not been a great deal of money. It was when I was a kid; it has been in certain stretches of my life, in certain time periods.
I had in this incident a number of options: to yell out to any possible passersby, say no, give him the full amount, offer more, hit him, kick him, run. I have to think my unconscious jumped in and informed me. I have to. Why? Because I had no time for (much) conscious thought. A gun, purportedly and possibly, was pointed at me, ready to be fired if I did not do what demanded. But I have to think my decision, my better option, came from my unconscious. Because it worked. Because of the evidence of what transpired.
Am I “right”? Who is to say?
I assume the guy was in desperate straits: why else hold me up in a public place (albeit that not many people, no one was immediately around)? In front of a camera? The ATM had to have had a camera. What were his options?
Maybe I unconsciously felt the need to give him some money just not a hundred dollars.
It could have all gone terribly wrong, of course. He could have indeed had a gun and shot me. The entire trajectory of my life could have been changed. It could have ended. Then what would you be reading now?
This excursion into a memory I rarely think about is not what I expected to be writing about. Time is ticking as I look at my clock, as what I have to do to get ready for my day job, drive to and do at my day job today, barges into my conscious awareness. Like people stepping into my vision that I see in the corner of my eye, people impatiently waiting for my attention to go to them.
Is a gun to my head? No. But the pressure is on. I am feeling it. Allowing myself to feel it?
That’s a lot of drama for the relatively simple task of sitting down, writing, getting up, getting ready, going to my day job.
I do what I can do. When I can do it. That is, really, mostly, usually what I do. I do the thing, take the action, think the thought that I think/ feel/ believe in my gut is the better. Does not thought always come before action? I would argue that it does not, not conscious thought, anyway. Sometimes, I think, we do, act before we consciously think. As I write this the more obvious it seems so.
My options are many: continue writing. Throw out my commitment to not review, not edit and tidy up this day’s piece later. Be late for my day job. Excessively speed and make up time in the commute. Call out sick today, which I have not done in a long, long time and certainly not with actually being sick. I could just stop. Skip over some of the steps, like putting lunch together, putting on sunscreen lotion, that I would usually take to prep the day. Quit my day job and just write all the time. As if I would quit; as if I could always write. Options. Which to choose? I could just stop.
Rollercoasters, as long as they are not too scary, I enjoy. Heights, as long as they are not too high, I find inspiring. Speed, as long as it is not too fast, I find exhilarating.
I do not need to jump out of an airplane, bungie dive, break any sound barriers. I’ve been in sailboats in full sail, as they, we, coursed through the water, the waves. I won’t say I admire rock climbers because what they do I think is crazy but I think I have an idea of what they are going after: the thrill of doing something difficult, something which takes concentration, physical and mental skill.
I thrill at new ideas. More precisely, the new ideas that are created in my mind when two ideas, two thoughts, are joined together. Disparate thoughts, sometimes. I imagine the eruption of synapses occurring in my mind, whether that is scientifically accurate or not. An orgasm, if you don’t mind the comparison to the sensual. We are not divorced from the physical, ever, including when we think we are playing “only” in our minds. The joining, the combining, the recombining, sequencing, resequencing of daily duties into a perfect and powerful song: yes, I am talking about that, too. The thrill of life, of being alive. Its/ their many parts and thrills.
This morning, after waking, snoozing, waking; checking my schedule, emails, and finances; after looking at the clock and seeing the time it was and that I had; after the morning’s ablutions, weighing in; after and in the midst of the business of (my) life, I had the rush of an idea. When I think or hear of the word rush in the past few years I usually associate it with the Rush the movie. The actor Chris Hemsworth in director Ron Howard’s film speeding his Formula 1 on the race course against competitors, specifically actor Daniel Brühl. A take on the story of the rivalry of James Hunt and Niki Lauda. I enjoyed vicariously their thrills, not needing at any time, or wanting at any time, to get into a race car. Or even see a race in person, or a full race on TV.
The rush, the thrill, I do need, and want, is finding sense, connections, in the experiences of life, particularly mine. Why? I’m compelled, yes, by forces greater than I, or at least that’s how I feel; but, even more, it's the only thing that makes sense: everything is connected because everything concurrently is. All these things, any thing, every thing, all things are connected within us. Not only humans but all living and inanimate matter.
It is an overwhelming thought if you let it be. Please don’t let it be. Let it be an empowering one. A thought which lets you know, at least lets me know, that I am small, insignificant, a small fraction of a particle of dust that will in this form at least pass in a nanosecond against the splendor and hugeness of the universe; and wanted. I am wanted because I at this spot of time, physically and mentally exist. I am aware of wanting and being wanting. It may all prove a dream (I think we and it all are more), but if only a dream still it is a dream we are having.
Now that is a thrill.
This one is straight from the Google page. Today, I’m writing about the various definitions and derivations of the word rudder, according to the Oxford Languages definitions as appearing on today’s page. I’m assuming the page would appear the same to anyone else checking into Google but that’s a big assumption because I don’t know. Will it remain the same tomorrow as it is today? That also I cannot be assured of. Regardless, I’m working with this page and these definitions.
I’m feeling under pressure today not because topics haven’t come to my mind to talk about but because none had, before looking at the word rudder, struck my fancy, seemed to offer the depth and direction I thought I might have wanted to go. If you’re confused, do worry, because so am I. I think, that is, I have hope, that this will all be settled out/ make sense at the end.
The constraints I am aware of, especially today, are time. Yes, I know the verb should be, would traditionally be is, but I feel the constraints of both wanting to/ having to complete writing in the next thirty-two minutes; and, also, knowing that even though I theoretically could, it makes no sense to delay writing today’s MOMENT until after I return from my day job. When I get back from my day job, I am in another mental space than when I have gotten up and started my day after sleeping. Morning is the much better time for me to think and write. So I’m constrained by time both in feeling I do not have much of it this morning and also that I do not have it this afternoon or night.
The topic options, the numbers of them, the possibilities of what to write about are, seemingly but probably not actually, endless. At least they felt that way to this morning. I’d have an idea, think about it, set started with a general plan for how to write about it but get two paragraphs in and say no. I was directionless. That is to say, I did not have a, wait of it, rudder.
And here we are: rudder.
I hope I can legally do this. Google, if you have a problem with me copying and pasting your definition after giving you complete credit and, in essence, supporting, advertising, your info, please let me know. I’ll pull it down.
A rudder I always have thought about as a wooden wide slat on a hinge off the back of red-paint peeling dinghy. I read that a dinghy is a recreation or racing boat but I picture more of a row boat. In any event, I feel a bit like a paint-peeling row boat that wants to be a sleek racing boat this morning. A small boat screaming for a rudder. Just tell me where to go, what to write, which direction to head in I told myself. So much to write about, you could write about, choose.
And we’re back to rudder, or, should I say rudderless. Sixteen minutes to go.
I love having a direction, having a goal, shooting for something, knowing which way I’m heading, something inspiring to do. This morning I had too many options, too many potential goals, not knowing where to steer.
Accepting the self-imposed time constraints gave me a direction. A rudder. If you can’t go particular, go broad, and vice versa.
So I’m talking about having a rudder. A rudder, a mechanism, a tool, by which a direction can be chosen. The self-accepted time constraints are mine for at least now.
What I had not known/ realized about rudder is that there is one also used on planes. “For controlling movement around the vertical axis,” I read. If I understand the idea correctly, it determines how high you are off the ground. So a boat rudder determines right or left, direction at sea (or any body of water); a plane rudder determines up or down, how close or far from the ground.
Both rudders, to be in play, to work at all, require the movement of the body being directed. The boat has to be moving for its rudder to steer (even if the moment is created by waves or the tides or wake of another boat); the airplane has to be in the air, thrusting or gliding. Going in a direction requires energy behind it.
Here’s where it gets more interesting. I clicked “More definitions” and found the word’s origin story (in diagrammatic form and briefly. It appears to have come from a West Germanic root, a combination of Old English, Dutch, German, and English influences. Those influences having to do with, related to, paddle, oar, and row.
The first two of that last group, paddle and oar, I get; both are flat or flattish pieces of wood or something else that can be used to steer the boat. The last, though, the verb row, however, is mighty interesting. To steer the boat, to give it direction, it has to be rowed. It has to be in motion. It has to have energy applied to it.
There is no direction without energy behind it.
The thought one step further: as the earth is continuously spinning and we on it, traveling miles and kilometers all the time, constantly, without our even being aware of it and, it seems to us, even possibly sometimes staying in “the same place,” we are always in motion. We are always have energy and motion operating on us.
Even if rudderless, we are still heading in a direction until we’re headed in another.
It makes sense to me to decide to steer.
Seven minutes late, I’ve got to get moving now.
Yesterday, I started with a title rudder and wrote from there; today I’m starting with an experience and am going to title from there. Isn’t life grand. I’m being sarcastic if you read it that way, earnest if you read it another. Different meanings depending on the meaning you take from it, which is to say give it.
Back to planet earth.
Yesterday was busy, busy, busy at my day job. Busy, but I hope more than that, productive. Our location is going through a half-year renovation. Every week, if not day, is an adjustment. Things that were always in one place are now in another; some of them, I’m convinced, not to be found again.
It’s progress and for the better, we tell ourselves. I think it’s mostly true. I have a friend who always finds equitability, by which I mean evenness, in everything. For them, every good thing is matched by a bad one, a bad for a good. It’s their perspective of life, a perspective which they find and make true. I don’t think things work that way, not usually; I think that things are typically either bad or good and often clearly, or mostly, so. That’s my perspective. There’s more to say in a later post.
Back to the day job yesterday. Busy, busy I tell you. Besides the normal daily activities of assisting customers and selling goods, which clipped along at a good pace, we had the challenge of making decisions and acting for the future to come. Some of our decisions were for the immediate future and how our bosses would respond; others were for how functions in the store would operate for months and possibly years; a couple for how it would be for fifteen years.
It’s that middle group that I want to talk about. About decisions we made, that I made with the permission of my bosses, that will affect the operation of our department for at least months to go. If I/ they choose wisely, for years.
The decisions to make had to do with a backroom. Tall shelves down thin aisles have recently been installed and now it's time to organize all the stuff we have to put in there, with more being thrown in besides. It was, yesterday, finally, all gathered: all the things, and there are many, that are tied directly with the operation of our department. Sorry I can’t get more specific but maybe that’s a saving grace, sparing you from unnecessary details. I’ve already asked you to stretch around unusual word combinations today. No need to push it.
Picture this: fifteen-feet shelves, a rolling ladder on rails that twists to the side as needed between them. Lots of stuff shoved on four-fifths (that’s 80%) of the shelves. The stuff is not greatly organized. It is my job to organize it in a way that is immediately understandable to those who put things on them and take things away. We have the chance to organize it in a way that not only speeds up the efficiency and ease of finding things for those who know their way around, have been working at the store for a while, but also for the newbies. Because, at our store, there are always newbies.
It’s a task, this organization, that I have long wanted to do. Ever since the renovation began. I love putting things into categories in ways that others can understand.
(I am plainer, more direct, at my day job than when I write here in MOMENT. I am assuming you are wanting and able to enjoy variety in syntax.)
Yesterday, I got to begin. I was informed that one whole section of shelves had to be cleared for the expanded use of the one next to it; it meant managing, rearranging, deciding, doing organization that will last for months, possible years, and quickly. I was able to get an hour of help from a competent and eager assistant. Thank goodness.
The problem was, and it is a big one, the problem was I did not know what to do. If we moved these boxes from here, where were we going to put them where? More significantly, would the structure, would the organization, make sense to others?
I said the problem is a big one on purpose, not by mistake. It is, for me at least, an ongoing problem. The problem of I don’t know what to do. I am faced, happily in the sense of options, ideas, thoughts, understandings, in the writing of MOMENT, in the choices of website design and content for LyU, the future writing of books for LyU, with shelves stacked high of stuff. How to organize it so it makes sense to others? So that it makes sense, I find its sense, to/ for me?
You can label the problem a challenge. I get the usefulness of moving the thinking from something that is an obstacle that you have to deal with to one that you get to deal with. Nonetheless the dealing must be done.
And, yesterday, that was not a theoretical, in-the-future challenge; this was a here-and-now problem. I had to get the section cleared, rearranged and organized so the stuff that had to be moved made sense. I didn’t want to move things again; I wouldn’t likely have the personpower or time to do more than one or two moves.
The rubber had hit the road. Do or die time. Shine in the completion of this task; or lose some of the luster that my previous and continuing work, through effort and skill, had produced.
I did not want to choke.
I was at a loss as to which step to take. What to move where.
Mentally, I could not figure it all out. If I moved this here, where would that go, how did that make sense, how would I explain. You get the picture.
I stumbled, in word and thought, for a few seconds; then decided, of course. Take the simplest and most obvious step. See where that takes us.
We had, first and most essential goal that day, to get that section cleared. We moved things over and to places near things like in use. We added wire shelves at the same levels as the section beside.
What I’m trying to say is that I did not have it all figured out. That I could not, mentally, figure it all out. Too many pieces. Too many parts. I thrill at long, exquisitely crafted sentences. Short, simple ones are also good. Needed. Wanted.
As we took the simple steps before us, a larger and grander plan emerged in my head. OF course! Then I knew. I told my able assistant, these go with that, those over there, and here’s why. They got it. I got it. The organization of the back room shelving made far more than the active hour’s work worth of progress. I know what I’m doing now.
It’s the combination of the mental and physical together that I’m talking about. I can’t and won’t only live in my head; I can’t and won’t live only in my body, the obviously physical. The head, the mental, is also physical. The actions I take are also mental. I often think of them as separate, the inside and the outside, that is behind my eyes and what I see with my eyes, the interior and the exterior, my perception and reality. But they’re all part of the same. Part of life. The life, the only life we have, the life we all, this very day, live.
Didn’t have a title until just now. Course.
08-26-23 8:31am PDST
I planned yesterday to today write about wabi-sabi and wasabi. Then I got to this morning and other options reared their baying heads. Each yelled for attention and all against the background noise of a ticking clock. A clock in my head and on my desk reminding me I was up against it.
Could a “wrong” choice be made. Yes. Certainly from the perspective of what I consider wrong: a topic I don’t address well, have a good story or two for, which, the biggest sin of all, doesn’t interest the reader. Doesn’t interest you. Because if I don’t have your interest, I’m sunk. The project is sunk. You could easily stop reading now
then you’d be gone and I’d have one fewer companion to walk, to swim down, this path, this river, with. There’d be one fewer person to recommend MOMENT and LyU to others. I’d be writing into a void.
Or would I. There is good, in a morphic resonance, an adding to the ether, a putting-it-out-there, perspective. I have the spooky belief that a thought conceived leads to words assembled becomes an idea and that ideas travel. Travel by mouth, print, image, radio wave, across satellites; and also in ways, at least at this point in time, not physically, measurably discernable. See morphic resonance and thank you Rupert Sheldrake.
I also do not know, do not comprehend, the fullness of the end game. The end game of me, of you, others, etc. I can make guesses and do all the time; operate on those guesses. But I do not know.
I made the choice to start this project. To write daily. Today, I did not. I did not want so much to write. I chose to start, though; and I choose to finish. I believe, at the end, that I will have chosen well.
My stepmother said something to me yesterday, something simple, known, unknown, profound: it all works together as you move forward. We were talking about a project I was working on at my day job. I wonder if that understanding, that framework for life, is not applicable to just about the whole of life. it all the whole of life, our lives, my life, yours, Life, the universe; works together it is already together, even the parts that seem like they’re opposed, because it all is happening right now and in every successive drop of time; as here’s the requirement, it's coming up, get ready, seemingly conditional but that’s only if only consciously considered; as you move forward. Forward, shorthand for what might be called desired progress, is a relative direction, state, perspective. Here’s the thing: in a physical sense, a material sense, we are on a lumpy ball, an oblate spheroid, that spins around on an axis. That is pulled by a mysterious thing we call gravity. That goes around the burning giant we call the sun. That itself, the sun, is puny compared to other like objects in the universe. That itself, the sun, is compelled, or leading us, though a galaxy which is only one galaxy among an estimated 200 billion in the observable universe.
And you thought you were important. Or, at least, I thought I was. Think I am. I am, as are you. Important to ourselves and to others in our sphere of influence.
What difference do my choices make? Not much if anything and everything but more likely somewhere in between.
What’s the practical application? Does everything have to have an immediately discernible, obvious practical use? No, but it is nice if it does. I think the practical application here is the one to decide to move forward in the direction of, doing the tasks and work for, what we think good.
We’re moving anyway. Even standing still, we’re being spun around, have measurable moved in universal position from where we were a split second ago though to our perception have not. We are moving externally. Internally, our hearts are pumping, lungs breathing, blood including nutrients flowing. Taking it deeper than that, electrons and protons buzzing around atomic nuclei. We are moving.
If we move in a way that we consider forward, if we move forward, then we are consciously joining in a process already unconsciously in motion. We are going forward, sometimes in ways that seem big to us (working on a project at a job, buying a home, getting married, conceiving a child, adopting a child, having kids, raising kids, contributing and planning for the future of them and society, etc.), that though may seemingly be forgettable to the universe, is indeed a part of the universe. We’re actively joining with life. We’re already, have no choice but to be, passively, unconsciously involved with life while we’re physically alive; why not make the choice and be actively involved? Consciously a part of?
So the choices we make are important. What is most important, I think, is to make a choice. Don’t throw an egg at me: even if that choice is not, at least at this time, to decide. Deciding not to decide is a conscious choice. Not deciding anything, well, that’s denying the possibility of who you are. And only theoretically, not actually, possible.
I’s choosing to jump now, and go to my day job. I could call in; I have the available sick days; have not called in for a long time. But it’s not my better move. Not good for me or my coworkers. Or the company. I move forward with the commitments made. Including to you, dear reader. Fifty-six days ahead.
The concept of wabi-sabi was introduced to me by a then-friend back in about 2012. He was/ is a designer and his house was/ is? super cool. Modern, intriguing, with pieces of beauty and a good use of space. And light. Lots of light. Kind of a given in Palm Springs, where somewhere around 350 days of the year the sun is shining. I mention it nonetheless.
He told me about it like this: wabi-sabi is a Japanese design esthetic which takes the perfect and adds a spot of imperfection to it. The imperfection, in fact, makes the view all the more interesting; and, paradoxically, more perfect.
The official definition, according to Google, is somewhat different but I appreciated then and I appreciate now what he was going for. He’s right; it’s often the so-called imperfection is a piece, in a style, in an outfit which that brings light, an awareness to, its perfection.
Since we’re talking about clothes, I want here to mention Coco Chanel. Revered for the restrained style of “controlled” opulence she promoted and sold and made a name for herself with, she reportedly had a famous habit. When about to leave her home, she would take one last look at herself in the mirror, and remove one thing. Perhaps she had put on two bracelets and a brooch. She would remove a bracelet, or the brooch. That’s an example I entirely made up but I think carries the point. In a way, I can see her being perfectly dressed; then removing one piece. Perhaps that space, that removal, opened up the viewer of her and her attire to unconsciously add it what she wore, thereby involving the viewer in Coco’s (or should I call her Mademoiselle Chanel) presence and making a further, unspoken participation in her life, a connection. It’s a psychological understanding, and sometimes used as a trick, that when a small favor is asked on someone that someone has a better connection with, more affinity to, the person doing the asking.
I did an unusual thing for me, unusual except for in the writing of MOMENT, by rereading the previous few sentences. I noticed I forgot a “to.” “...her attire to unconsciously add it to what she wore…” is what I meant. I wonder if you added it.
I think we are connected, respond and react to, far more things, people, in our external environment that we might care to know. I think many of the unscrupulous smart use this habit of perhaps most humans to have us do what they want, to accept their stories of life, so as to benefit them even if/ when it harms the doer, the molded.
Perfection, when I think it about in the abstract, as a concept, often turns for me to the specifically physical: the statue of David by Michalengelo on display (at least in the past) in Florence, Italy. I’ve had the fortune to see it twice in person, no less in awe the second time than the first. I’m not a statue guy; I’m usually drawn to paintings. But the statue of David, and the simpler Dubuffet sculptures oddly enough, they grab me.
David is astounding. Perfection. The first time I saw him I walked and stood, walked and stood, as if from the four points of the compass. This is a statue carved in Carrara marble yet he seemed almost alive. From each of the four angles he gave off (to me) a different vibe. I don’t have my notes before me but from memory, starting from looking at him straight in the face, circling clockwise around him, he appeared confident, haughty, strong, fearful as I walked around him.
Can you imagine the responsibility of chipping away on a big block of stone to produce such magnificence?
I wonder if Michelangelo considered at any time that he made a mistake somewhere. A mistake, an error, an imperfection that he was or was not able to cover up. Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa over a period of a number of years. He was painting in oils and could touch-up. Not to take anything away from the result. Two images, Michelangelo’s David and da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, seared into Western consciousness. Perfections even though not machine-made.
Wikipedia says, in the website Google presents first, both of these possibly for today only, before an algorithm or person or people change them, or the cloud goes down, is saying, today its saying, “In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.” It’s a different take than my then-friend told and inspired me by. I like his take better. I’m not much into passive acceptance though active acceptance I can go with.
The eyes of English teachers past are rolling with my blatant ending of sentences a preposition with.
No In-n-Out, by the way. I came close to going to one yesterday but instead took another route yesterday. That route took me to the Del Taco of three that I was thinking about. I ate not a small meal there. I’m not sure it was a victory except technically.
Wabi-sabi is not that far off from wasabi, in my uncultured mind. The first I’ve spoken of, the latter you may already know is a Japanese sort-of horseradish. The green paste used on sushi, when it's combined with a few other ingredients.
What is the single most important thing you have? I mean besides the essentials of being alive and having the ability to think. I’ve given it away in the title, perhaps. I’ve done some thinking about this and for me the single most important thing I have is my key. The key to my home. It’s not that there are many other things that I also want and need; it is that, without that key, I cannot get to the things I need and treasure most; without that key, I have not guaranteed place to rest, eat, stay.
I know, I know, won’t the landlord or a friend or someone else have the key I need? When I owned a house, because I lived near them, it was they who held my spare keys. Now that I live far away from them, it is a friend and my landlord.
I don’t want to have to go to them to get into my own home, however. I want to able to get in, stay, enjoy, sleep, watch videos, stream, DVDs, write, read, eat. Definitely eat. Those I can do only by having a key to get in.
Only, I wrote, but your mind also probably thought of two other ways I could get in. I could break and enter, smash a window or try to bust open the door. That would be unexciting. Well, it might be exciting but it certainly would not be good. The unnecessariness and waste of it; that then the window or door would need to be repaired, it would not be immediate, and I’d have to pay in money and time.
The other way I could get in would be to hire a locksmith. That’s preferable to breaking and entering; would cost money but money only. Well, that, and time. It would take some time. I might also be embarrassed. For who loses their key? The foolish, reckless, distracted, robbed, drunk. I do not want to be any.
Perhaps I take too many precautions. If I lived with another or others, I could depend upon them. But I live on my own, as many do, even those who cohabitate with others. Maybe we all do, in a way. The precaution I take is that every time I step out of my front door, I look at the key to the lock for that door in my hand. I physically make sure I see it. I have two copies I use, one in a leather key case and the other on a keychain; with either, I set it on my outstretched hand and see. See that it is present and accounted for. Whew. I’ll be able to get back in. I don’t think that every time, consciously, but I can assure you that’s what I’m feeling deep down within.
Car keys are great to have, too. Nice to be able to easily go.
Let’s go mental, that is to say, allegorical. If my home is like me, where I live and, mostly, be, then it’s important to have a key, the key, to get into it. Into me. The key to get into me is stories. Stories are the short, medium, and long tales, facts, situations I tell myself to not only keep me sane but also that give form to my world. To give understanding to my world, the world, both. Both part of the same.
I’m writing this in purposefully convoluted language so the reader, you, will have to think about what I am saying, won’t be able easily to swallow it whole. Reading day46 is going to require some work. Steps and leaps on the side of the reader. I do so because I believe the message key, and perhaps not all ready for it, if ever they will be.
It is the things said, and not said, and directly or obliquely said, that are made from the stories of our lives. It is us using our key, the key to us, a key which can stay the same for a while or a long time. Can also, sometimes does, often change. What is the key to you. That’s the question to ask. You possibly won’t show it to or share it with another. As you wish, as you think best. Sometimes, a family member, or a friend, has a copy and can let you in. Sometimes, a professional. Or a person in power above. I hate to say it, but, sometimes, rarely, one hopes never, breaking in is the only way.
My advice, counsel, admonition, plea, request, is that you take care with your key. I haven’t locked myself out in a long, long time.
Perhaps it was thinking of Michelangelo’s statue of David yesterday, maybe it was the remembrance also yesterday of a coworker’s response. Either way or another, I’m thinking about attitude. Attitudes that people have and ones that I want.
David, if felt to me, as I looked at him when I was in Florence, Italy, is remarkable for many things including his size, perfection, and handsomeness. But what astounded me was the varying attitudes I felt when I walked about him: confident when seen his face-forward, then fearful, strong, and haughty as I walked around. How did Michelangelo get four attitudes out of one stone statue?
I wonder if we all don’t have a multitude of attitudes within us. Settled feelings that we can and do go in certain situations. At work: resigned. At home: peaceful. At a famous place: excited. With a loved one: well, that certainly can vary.
The coworker’s response was to my question, “How ya feelin’?” It’s a question I ask the coworkers I’m chatty with on an almost daily basis. It’s something I care about about them, and it's a barometer for me. It measures the atmospheric pressure of the work environment around them. If someone is feeling obviously negative, I may ask them a follow up question, will listen if they want to tell me, empathize; and do my best to make sure it doesn't affect mine.
I have, in general, an optimistic attitude. It’s one I had since a kid; I do my best to maintain it. My childhood was pretty good, in fact, great; it had its tough spots (perthes, scoliosis, braces, identity issues, later on my parent’s divorce); what life does not. I decided early on that being optimistic was the better play, the better attitude, for me to have.
If it seems as if I’m suggesting/ saying that one’s attitude is a choice that’s because I am. I think one’s attitude is usually, often, if not always a choice. The attitude one/ you take plays a significant and sometimes determinative role in the quality of your life.
That’s what I’ve found for me, anyway. When I’ve been hopeful, often I find and see things to be hopeful about. When I’m angry (which I am, every once in a while), people tend to avoid me and I tend to make mistakes. Is it always easy to choose my attitude? No, but it’s usually possible. And worth the work.
The gold standard of attitudes is “can do.” I can learn about email marketing (even though the learning curve is steep). I can do my back exercises regularly (I am); I can do strength-training exercises frequently (here I could use some work). A good attitude is like having a car: you don’t have to have one but, in most places outside major cities in the USA, you’ll get places much faster and more reliably if you do.
Is it always possible to have a “good” (that is to say personally and socially useful) attitude? I haven’t been/ am not (yet?) able to. But, mostly, I do.
That coworker that I am now mentioning for the third time, and most germanely so, when asked “How ya feelin’?” said to me, the other day, “I don’t know yet. I’ll know after the day.” He was letting the physical condition of his life determine how he was currently and would feel. That’s entirely his right. I said nothing about it to him, not even with my eyes. But come on. Do really want to turn over how you feel to your circumstances?
I suppose many (most?) people do. They feel situation “appropriate.” If something is generally felt to suck as a population norm, they are going to feel sucky about it. They don’t have to, necessarily, but they do.
Sometimes, there are steps I have taken in my life to build a more likely better attitude. My day job is an example. I used to count down the hours until it was over, those hours feeling like they each had seventy minutes in them. My work was perfectly fine; in fact, three years in a row I’d received an “exceeds expectations” review. But my day job, working at it, was mostly a drag. I had the attitude that I wasn’t paid enough, that I wasn’t going to work too hard to reflect what I was worth.
The problem was, however, that the days still dragged. I found myself, I became a tiny bit bitter. Sure, I suppose I could have found a different job or gone to a new place or both. But I wanted more respect and more pay just at what I was doing. I earned it, them, both.
About ten months ago(?), I turned my thinking around. I changed my attitude. Instead of resignation and feeling put-upon most of the day, I decided hey, this is my life. I didn’t want to feel those things, true, depending upon one’s point of view, though they may have been. The truth, the facts, as I saw them, didn’t matter. I wanted to feel better. To enjoy my life more. To live more. To not be bummed out about going to my day job. To not think/ find/ consider my life to be wasted.
This is my life. I want to enjoy it. I have only one go-around. I was at a job and giving it what it required and then some. But what I gave, my participation, was not what I could give. I could do more and better; I wanted to do more and better. I considered that others may not appreciate me more. That it would be about impossible for me to make more given the company’s pay regulations. I didn’t want to move into management (been there, done that, a couple of times). I just knew I could do my job better.
I decided I wanted a better attitude. I wanted one for me. I have one life and I want to enjoy it, to participate in it to the utmost. Even during, especially including during, my hours at my day job.
So I threw myself into it. Into my day job for the fun of it. And it has become more fun. I decided, not one made me or even suggested it, to improve the speed of performing a certain process. The process usually took 1.5 hours; by speeding up the process, I could get it reliably to about 1.25 hours. I set a goal of 1 hour. It was interesting and, even, exciting for me to try to figure out how. I did; my flipping around the process, by melding activities. I got it down to an hour.
My boss loved it. I got more responsibility, I did more things. I liked work better. No longer am I dragging or counting the hours (most days). Now I get to do more of what I want to do, more of what I’m better at doing, and less or none of what I don’t. Because I am an obvious and consistent benefit to the company. I show up on time; when I show up, I show up. I am engaged and enthusiastic. I work, enjoy it, and it shows.
My pay has not increased and won’t. But life has increased. Now, I’m turning that can do attitude towards the rest of my life and me. I have work to do. I am also seeing payoffs.
Attitude matters. Have your usual one be one that serves your greater and the greater good.
There’s a great little book about organizing one’s life called Getting Things Done written by David Allen. Though I read it now, oh, maybe thirty years ago, two practices that it suggests I think about and employ often. The first is to complete a task when it comes to mind if that task takes two minutes or fewer; how satisfying and productive it is to complete necessary little things. The second has to do with perspective. Looking at things from various altitudes.
The idea is this: to consider a task as if from elevations of 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 feet. How important are they in the grand scheme of your life? Though I seem to recall that Allen was primarily concerned with how an individual, the reader, improves their organization and productivity, I also ask myself: how important is a task in the grand scheme of the world?
How important is it for me to eat those chips, mail that letter, make that call, write down that idea? The idea is not to do something only because that something seems at this minute to be calling out to be done. How is this or that task working towards your immediate but also your intermediate and long term goals?
Allen asks us to consider and think, not only react and do. To use our ability to weigh the information we have and make decisions about what we next do. The perspective of altitude, the imagining of looking down from above, can help in the decision process. What is important versus what is urgent? If something is urgently important then by all means do. A gash in your arm, gas for a tank almost empty, a hug for a friend standing near, a bill ready to be paid. Important long term goals are also important to do. Physical exercise, ahem; financial planning; organizing and keeping organized your living space.
The highest altitude I can recall experiencing, beyond being on an airplane, was in Klosters, Switzerland. Towering mountains were close by but I stayed with my friend in the valley. I wasn’t nearly high enough to have altitude sickness or any other physical effects. I have had effects on planes, popping of ears and mild nausea in rough weather. Not sure where I’m going with this if anywhere.
I guess the good part of seeing from an altitude, even if that “seeing” is done in one’s mind, is to have a map ahead of you. To see the landscape, get an idea where to go and what to avoid. Something hard to do it you’re only living in the minute. Something that can be difficult to do even sometimes if you do see ahead.
At some points, at least in my life, I find I have to go on, in trust. In trust that the direction I’m headed is true. In trust that what I’m doing is worthwhile, even when, sometimes, it seems a mess. Sometimes I feel like Frodo or Sam in the marshes outside Mordor. There’s life here, around, but is it always for me? Sometimes you don’t have the high view, a clear outlook. The only thing to do is, the better thing to do, is to keep pressing on.
I’ve learned through many times of doing it that writing down an idea, a thought, is best done when immediately, right when I have it. Such was the case for the beginning of this piece/ journal entry/ day’s daily writing. I did not carry out what I knew the better practice, the better piece of repeating what I know better, that of recording fleeting and useful thoughts. So here we are.
It seems I’ve confused repetition with routine. I was thinking about things that I repeated as things that I did routinely. Have I been misunderstanding and worse yet misusing these words the whole of my life? I find, with horror, on reflection, maybe.
Routine: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Repetition: the action of repeating something that has already been said or written.
(both definitions according to almighty Google)
Clearly not the same meaning. I can see how I conflated them, but nonetheless I did conflate.
Yikes. It recalls for me a vivid image from my younger years. I was in my early twenties at the time; at a retreat on Lake George, NY; was the master of ceremonies at a Christian camp for teenagers; had recently MCed for a morning meeting; had conflated tawdry with tardy. Those are not the same words and have quite different meanings. I was tawdry, in my announcing, I said aloud to everyone when I started things late. Everyone got the idea, what I was trying to say, no one said anything, except one person. She gently asked me if I had meant to say tardy instead of tawdry. Why yes, yes I had. Perhaps I was feeling tawdry? More likely a simple brain misfire. As I seemingly have had by routinely conflating the words routine and repetition in my mind and life.
The incident on Lake George did teach me to look up my words often. Which I usually do. But did not do regarding repetition until after I had already started in.
I see I have already talked about routine, way back on day13. I do not recall what I wrote about that day; and have not, of course, since the writing of it read it again yet, won’t until after day100 is complete. I’ll have to trust I said what was good to be said.
About repetition: what a mighty power it has. More than I as a younger person knew.
I was a volunteer leader than a paid leader for more than a handful of years in my latest teens and earliest twenties for that same organization. In my capacities, I did a lot of talking. The summer camps for this organization are on an island in eastern Massachusetts. I’m from the Mid-Atlantic, a city named Baltimore; it is not usually as esteemed as are the cities from which other students and leaders at the camp came: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Princeton, etc. I felt the need to stick up for Baltimore. For years, I referred to it as
Baltimore, jewel of the East,
balancing the North and the South,
and representing the best of both.
Because I said it often enough, over enough years, was liked (and liked those with whom I was), others would repeat the phrase once I started it even if they were not from Baltimore. Had ever even been there.
Is it true? Is Baltimore a jewel, a place of balance, does it represent the best, of anything? Debatable points, I grant you. But I like to think my constant repetition of this I-made-up slogan invited those who heard it, and especially those who repeated it, to smile. Perhaps think kindly towards Charm City (an official nickname of Baltimore, one I did not create). Especially if they had not been there.
Flash forward to 1991, not too long after the above. I rarely watched Saturday Night Life, I mean rarely. Perhaps ten times ever in my life? It was, however, for a long period of time, to get away from its influences. That is, at least, among the young people. Of which I was one at the time.
There was a sketch character (not to be confused/ conflated with a sketchy character) named Struart Smalley portrayed by Phil Hartman. He wore, from the repeat of the scenes I have seen, a cardigan sweater and a sweet, dour, vacant expression. In the sketches, he’d repeat somewhat trite affirmations such as I am worthy, I do good things, or I am a good person, each phrase individually, over and over. (At least, that’s the sort of ones I remember/ may be making up.) The idea is if said it would be/ would become true. The repetition was presented in SNL as foolish. An opportunity for high mockery. (Kevin Bacon, I read just now, was the host of the show with the first Smalley sketch.)
I am not so sure. I have found that what I say, especially what I think, tends to more often be seen, experienced, even become “true.” This may be because an idea, a person, an event is on my mind and my eyes look out for it, cause me to find it even if it “isn’t there.” That other don’t see it or agree. If they think I’m stretching it; or what I’m thinking or talking about coming to be is plain old impossible. They may be right. In a sense, though, it doesn’t matter if they are or not: it is my experience. My connection with the world and life, reality, my reality.
I’m not a fan of delusions. Don’t think of myself as delusional. Nor do I believe that just because I think something, or say something, that it instantaneously, or always, or ever, comes to be.
I do think saying or thinking something repeatedly does increase its possibility. It does, often, make what’s thought or said more likely even if only more slightly so. Repetition has the power of causing that which is repeated to have more substance.
So my thought and advice: be aware, careful, in what you think and say.