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.
Well. Today’s topic is planning, and I could have planned this better. Instead of writing on my comparatively supersonic touch keyboard on my Mac, I’m typing today on my wobbly-because-there’s-a-pop socket-on-the-back iPhone, typing each letter index-finger jab by jab or fighting with the interpretations of my finger coursing across the keyboard screen and then having to correct many of the guesses. I’m not sure if either is better.
The very crazy thing is that I had today gotten so many chores/ tasks/ duties/ projects done. Today, especially this morning and afternoon, flowed perfectly. I got things done and felt good about it. I put off writing today’s thoughts because I wanted to be able to say that I got so much done because of good planning. Then, an hour ago, the internet in my home went down. I mean universally down. No resetting is curing it.
So I am left, because I waited to write, without my usual and easier way to do it. It’s peck or drag over the screen and that is all there is to it.
Two vivid examples of the goodness/ smartness of planning presented themselves to me this late afternoon. I texted a friend, confirming when I am picking up her and her husband at the end of the week to take them to the airport for an earliest morning flight. She was glad I confirmed; I’m glad to have the times in my datebook. This little bit of planning, working from brief interchanges and texts for a couple of weeks ago, brings all three of us peace and ease. It is a no-brainer to clarify and confirm. So many times I’ve seen it not done, the inconvenience, unsuredness, sometimes missed opportunities that result. Sometimes, I’ve been the culprit. I hope to remember this simple practice and always employ it. Usually I do. But why not always?
The second example has to do with what we’ve already covered. Oops. I would have been smarter to have written this hours ago, when the internet was working. Obviously. It is among the most important things I’m doing today and here I saved until almost the last. Just to be able to crow about how wonderful a planner and executor I am. Hoisted by my own petard. I have perhaps forty years left to live max; I want to get better at these simple things. So I can also get better at the complex.
You may have noticed that today is day50. The halfway mark on this experimental writing project. I’m going to say it’s going well though I haven’t actual evidence of how this book, MOMENT a hundred days in a row, reads. I’ll know after day100 and I’ve read it. Hoping for the best. That it’s been useful, even at times also amusing, to you.
From my perspective as the writer, it’s been a success. The discipline of daily writing (the discipline of anything good done regularly) has been/ is a focusing agent, a pillar to my day, holding it and me up. I do so wonder what I’ve said. I think I recall some of it.
I started considering, in the moment, the shake I thought/ felt the book would be good to take way back at about day24. Up until that point, and through until about day58, I wrote each day with the idea that the day presented. You know, in the moment, with a few exceptions. Only the three days beginning with rudder and in the middle course jump to my mind as examples just now. My attempt (success?) was to be ”in the moment”; many of the topics were in fact ideas I’d thought about in years past as well as present. Even though I wrote in the now, I was often drawing upon the past.
People talk about living now as if it’s completely possible; I find it only relatively so. What happens now, what is now, is always dependent, the fruit of, the growing root of, the past. Nobody sprung up from nothing. No ideas exist unaided by thoughts from the past. I know, I know: breathe in, breathe out while sitting cross-legged on the floor, forearms on upper legs, palms up. Be here and now. I tell you, I am here and now; and I’m also living from, learning on, indebted to the past and those who have lived it.
I am not, do not mean to, mock those of the now perspective or those who can sit, comfortably, cross-legged while sitting on the floor. They have, are having, their experience. I’m sure I have things to learn from it and them. But, nearly six decades in, I’m pretty sure it’s not a method, an understanding, in my toolbox. The past is always with us; and so is the present. The present of the present.
I’ve been saving that one for a long time. Years now, wondering when and where to write it. It’s corny; and could not possibly be original, though I do not consciously recall reading or hearing it elsewhere. But then I don’t consciously remember, as far as I know, a great many things. Ask me. The specifics of yesterday.
The present is a present, any eye-rolling by any of you aside. To be alive; know you’re alive; to feel and have breath come in and out, these are remarkable experiences. They are gifts. Life is a gift. What to do with it?
I laid the groundwork two days ago, I think it was, for today and what’s coming up for the next fifty. I decided a week or so ago that day50 would be special. It has turned out so. Special because it is a pivot point in MOMENT from a past/ now (ideas thought of before writing began combined with what I thought about them in the present, on the day I write shout them); to today’s discussion of the present (in both senses of the word); to the announcing and beginning of days51-100, which will be about now and the future.
Special because of how the day today has turned out, me jabbing now the screen with my right middle finger while my left hand cups my iPhone and rests heavily on my desktop. I’m not staying up until midnight for the crossover into day51 and the future. I have my day job tomorrow. In the time zone where most Americans (I want to call us USAers) live, the Eastern Time Zone we call it in USA, it is now past midnight. I’ll claim that as moving into the future with the book’s second half.
What will this pivot mean to you? Possibly not much. I’ll still be writing as I have and in subjects that may seem or be disconnected from one another as far as you see. (They are all connected in the least because they are being written about by me. You have the same power on your life. Everything that occurs in it is connected at the minimum because you are thinking/ experiencing/ living it.)
What you may feel/ see/ catch into is a shift towards things to be. It may be subtle; I’m hoping and planning it will be there.
During the first fifty days, ideas about which I wanted to write sprung themselves on me like attacking kittens, intermittently. I wrote the thoughts, sometimes the line of thinking, on scraps. Put them in a pile. Two days ago, I write out/ planned the daily topics for the next fifty days. The ideas came from the past and the then-now; starting tomorrow, those ideas/ thoughts will be intermingled with the now and the future. Fingers crossed.
Of course I’ll have stories from the past in there too. But there’ll be a drift, a pull, a lean from the what-has-been, is, to the what-is, could-be.
That’s the contract I signed with myself in invisible ink on invisible paper anyway. We’ll see.
For me it means I get to plan. To look ahead to the days’ topics and consider ahead of time what I might write.
I have set aside, not a spoiler but an enticer, the last ten days, days90-100 (that makes eleven days) for the subject of time. Time, humankind’s invention, fascinates me. I hope to speak ably about it.
The title of the book is MOMENT, after all, anyway.
Tuckered but pleased that not all of my right hand fingers ache, I bid you I’ll see you tomorrow. (Or I won’t. Your choice.)
09-02-23 10:00PDST on the dot
The internet is still down (unusual) but I have a day, a chapter to write. Fortunately, I have cellular, thank goodness, or else it would by hand then typed in afterwards. That I have cellular saves me from that option as I can imagine myself so tempted to alter what as written first. About everything csn stand improvement, I tend to find, if I contemplate it long enough. Stand from my perspective. Be clearer and/ or more powerful. Like these last few sentences. Could stand some cleaning up.
The middle right finger has ably and easily stepped in for the resting index. Theoretically, I have three more finger options on that hand but using a thumb or pinkie seems problematic. The fourth finger? Possibly. Let’s work with the third and hope the internet comes back on tonight.
No In-N-Out, in case you’re wondering. I have so far stood fast against the siren call of ”fries in the red.” My record and greater plan has not been as strong as that victory-so-far might lead one to believe: Del Taco and Donut King, ahem, were graced with my presence two days ago. Not one small fry but two; not two chocolate raised donuts but those and a double-chocolate baked. One step forward, two steps back? It looks and sounds really bad as I write it, is not perhaps the better good. Got to/ it would be wise to/ how can I improve my post-day job (even after a great day at the day job) mood/ attitude so that I eat afterwards not only for the short term but also the long? This is a question not yet adequately resolved.
As is the one regarding physical therapy (PT). PT is a recognized good for me; it once saved my knees from hobbled, painful walking, and my left shoulder from a wincing pain, and has done, recently, wonders for my lower back. My back doesn’t hurt any longer. All I have to do is be aware of/ choose good posture, sitting and standing; get up and not sit too long. I did do full PT back exercises yesterday; but have been skipping days to see how my missing them plays out. Now, as it has been for five (?) years, time to transition into actual muscle-building exercise. I’ve been threatening to do that for a long time. Now for follow-through.
Can I rely on myself to do that? To eat more healthily more of the time. To properly exercise for muscle strength and size, not just PT to get to normal operation with no pain. That is a pertinent question. Germane.
My parents growing up were huge on self-reliance. When I was growing up, under their care and rooves. They both came from modest backgrounds, worked long and hard, were self-motivated to make a good life with ample, healthy food, quality health care, good private education (not because it was private so much as the better there available) for their kids. They preached self-reliance to us, demonstrated it to us, often.
Being able to depend on oneself is a remarkable skill/ power. It breeds self-confidence, is being confident. Builds a backbone. Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean you have to, they would often assert. They were right; and it isn’t always easy.
So why should life always be easy? Continuous ease leads to flab and an underutilized mind. Not the best things. A life only and always easy means accommodating the power players in the room always. It means only following, paying homage and heed to, the status quo. There are good things about the quo, usually or often; it is far from always the better path, however. Usually the quo serves the interest of the most powerful, the strongest, the most. The powers that be. That’s great—if what’s happening in the actual is good, too. I myself find many areas ripe for improvement when I look around the USA and what it does in other countries. Just saying. No just about it.
On one of the six podcast series LukeyoutheU offers, the one titled the consciousness shift my cohost, Lisa, talks at times about radical person responsibility. About that, with her on that, I heartedly and firmly agree: we are, in large part, responsible for our own lives. We may have been dealt an unfair hand; we may have physical, mental, social, financial impairments; we may have had it rough and/ or are having it rough now, but we are still responsible for ourselves.
If you’re reading and understanding this, are able to, you are responsible. For yourself.
When you stop blaming others, stop blaming your parents, society, your social scene, God, fate, luck, then you begin to have power. Power to do something about it. About your situation. About you.
I’m not saying there aren’t injustices, there are; and we would all be better for their reduction if not removal.
But what are you going to do? I mean by that: what are you going to do/ doing to improve your life, dear reader, your life right now? Big, small, or medium?
In a conversation with someone dear to me yesterday I said aloud and concurrently realized the truth and power of my statement: you are your own stumbling block. I can, have sometimes the tendency to, get in my own way. To not better help myself to get/ receive what I want. Nothing stands in the way of what I want except me.
This last statement is bold. May be too strong, too universal, for even me, and I’m the one writing it. But it sure is something to consider. There is something to consider about it.
The question of what I want, it’s usefulness, it’s goodness: those are questions indeed.
My parents, now both dead, would, I think, agree with Lisa’s idea of taking radical personal responsibility. They would likely think of it in terms of being self-reliant. They would likely not appreciate or agree with the word radical, in any form however. I think I can say they were not radical in anything, at least nor much.
Which brings me to the point at which I say that I don’t think self-reliance or radical personal responsibility are the end, the one and only understanding, meaning, pulse, opportunity of life. I think there is indeed, are, much more. More to life, more fullness available. And that more fullness would be better.
I can’t ask them; I can’t speak for them, really, or Lisa. I can speak for me and do when I say that I think self-reliance and radical personal responsibility are, or at least can be, stages/ building blocks/ support structures for our individually and collectively adding to life.
It is not for me alone that I take on self-reliance but also for thee. To help others on their paths, in their swim and float down the rivers of life. I have the opportunity, the gift, of contributing to others in the ways/ methods I can. Most I leave unspoken of because to say them would unnecessarily puff me up but possibly, probably, lead to my doing less. Some things just aren’t good talked about. Many.
But make no bones about it: I take on self-reliance and radical personal responsibility in largest part for me. Because I believe I am good in, add good to, the world. Am worthy by my existence to participate in Life. I hope you feel the same about you.
What does this mean practically? Lots of things. I leave that for you to puzzle out for you. Your puzzling, deciding, acting, doing is your gift to you and us all.
It’s been good, this hard-wired-internet-WiFi-down thing, this morning. Had my Mac’s internet been working, I would have been tempted/ probably would have spent much of this morning’s time getting a website design issue fixed instead of writing this for nearly the whole of the available time. Funny how that worked. Perhaps not funny at all but an undergirding of human existence/ experience.
I’ve got a few minutes to get a few extra things done.
Any word ending with -dom and I think kingdom: a country, a principality, ruled by a sovereign often dictatorial and unfair. Not a kingdom I want to be in. But bored I sometimes am, bored being on the border of boredom. Bored is, in my way of thinking about it, on the outskirts of boredom. Boredom is sometimes a place I find myself. If I am conscious that I am bored, I can usually work myself out of the state of boredom.
My stepmother can tell the tale much better than I but the essence is this: in the midst of doing a tiresome, repeating task one summer mid last century, the task dull and tedious but necessary, some of the others with her complained of boredom. She decided not to be bored; instead, she occupied her mind with things of interest while still working and completing the hours-long task.
Believe me, her retelling is much fresher.
The lesson she learned, the meaning she extracted from and applied to her experience was that if you’re bored it’s your own doing. You’re own to get out of.
Massaging the verb of bored into the country noun of boredom, the two having a wavering border, if you’re bored it is your job to get out of being bored before you get stuck in the state/ country of boredom. It is wise advice. Wise especially when applied to others; less exciting when it’s your turn to get unbored.
You don’t have to, of course. You can stay in a state of boredom for hours, weeks, possibly years. I tend not to hang around with bored people so I don’t know how long one could be bored. Be in, as normal and usual place, boredom. Maybe decades? For a lifetime?
Here’s what I do when I find myself bored. Not often, these days, now that I have projects galore and have thrown myself into my day job when I’m there, body and mind. Still, sometimes. With my back exercises, for example. I have done them for many months, less and less regularly; my back is not in pain and rarely aches, I get up from sitting and stretch frequently. When I do them, on days I do not have my day job, I think with an internal sigh that here goes forty-five minutes of nothing.
It’s not nothing, of course; probably because I do the exercises my back is not hurting me. For which I’m thankful. Still. It is a bore. A probably necessary bore.
Turning on music has helped. It’s not that I sing along with it (that’s for when I’m in the car); or pay attention to it much at all; it’s just that it’s there. I’m not alone as I do my boring exercises.
Telling myself they are for my good also helps. Sometimes.
Strangely enough, oddly enough, when I turn into them, as it were, that also sometimes helps. That is, get ready for this language legerdemain, though I suppose its not rally slight of mouth when I point it out to you. That is, when I bore into them. When I pay close attention to the exercises, how I am performing them, which muscles are feeling them. When I drill into the drills. Paying close attention to them while I’m doing them helps, sometimes, to alleviate the boredom. I leave that state.
I also count when I perform them. I remember being amazed when my first gym trainer, a weightlifting coach (the amount lifted being minimal), could count while performing the exercises himself. He had a counter going on while he also thought about other things. It took me a couple of months (embarrassingly) but I also learned how to do the same thing. I get my mental counter going; and I think about other things. Sometimes about what I’m going to write for that day’s MOMENT. Sure, I lose my place occasionally; when I do, I start from where I know I left off. Which means I do more of the exercises. Which serves me writing for losing my count. Which is also not a bad thing, to exercise more (usually).
One other tool I have that I sometimes, though less frequently, use: I took some Italian a few decades ago and remember bits. Including basic numbers. So I can in Italian say DO-dici (DOUGH-dee-chee) once I get to twelve. Which is what it means.
In other words, I do about everything I can to not be bored. To leave boredom behind.
On occasion, however, I cannot find my way out. It’s like I’m in a thick fog, a fog not bracingly cold or hot-sticky sweet, just one in which I can’t see much and don’t have the energy to leave. I’m in boredom.
Sleep is sometimes the way. I simply go to sleep. When I awake, I’m usually not bored.
Is depression like boredom? I do not know, cannot say.
A good think about being in boredom is the incidental rest it gives me. It is possible for me to run my engines hot, to get so very excited and enthused about life that it’s good for me, mentally and physically, to have a down time. Not a down down time, not depressed; but inactive, awake but not hyper engaged.
I don’t, in general, like being bored. I’d say who does? But then there are some many people who seem content or at least unwilling to try to get out of being bored. Of surviving in boredom.
I don’t know what drives other folks. I can sometimes make guesses. Sometimes, I can’t even do that.
I decided and strove from my teen years, some decades more successfully than others, to be interested (in other people, things, ideas) and interesting (by doing unusual things, thinking in unusual ways). Still do, with modest success, today. What I know is that in some cases, perhaps most, boredom is a state of mind. A state of being which does not want to/ refuses to find interest wherever one is in life. A state, a country, that it’s not the better to live in.
I’m going to cut down on the number of times I do my back exercises per week and the number of reps; I’m going to see if I can’t/ won’t/ don’t start doing other exercises instead and in addition. Boredom can be, perhaps often is, a signal from you to you to do something new. Visit boredom as you must, sometimes even for its good; but get the heck out when you can. So much more to life than missing its majesties.
I love doing things fast. Really fast, if I can help it. The problem with doing things all the time fast is that quality sometimes/ often suffers. Errors are more frequently made.
At least, that has been my experience. I can get so excited about what I’m working on—like I was this morning, configuring, designing, arranging the podcast episode pages for scm, tcs, and lpo. My mind was aswirl with activity as I chose placement, style, color, of the episode lengths. Then did it for those three series. Checked out how the episodes pages looked on mobile. Went back to the website editor and made some changes. Tried other options out.
This likely sounds not that exciting to you. For me, seeing my ideas in action, playing with style, deciding what should go there and putting it out for the WHOLE WORLD to see; that is exciting. Thrilling.
I was going fast and I wanted to keep going fast. Observations, investigations, trials, decisions, executions. It was all rolling, flying, at supersonic speed. (So it felt.)
Then, one part, one section done, a natural pausing point. Time to have breakfast; I worked right through it. Normally, I ate an hour earlier. Grabbed the chocolate protein drink out of the refrigerator door; shook it vigorously, as always, to make sure calcium did not stick against the carton walls (I am so informed); untwisted the cap, set it down to choose a banana from the bunch. The banana most ripe, banana-yellow-recently-green with no spots. Pulled it open by its handy pull tab, the fibers reluctantly giving way, took a bite off the top. Grabbed my chocolate protein drink and shook it vigorously
You see the problem.
Chocolate protein drink splattered across the tables, floor, brown, worn, leather, overstuffed lounge chair, and onto the legs of my khaki shorts. It was a spray of chocolate blood. Bullets of goo splashing over a two-seventy degree range. Only behind me was clear but there I did not look. Instead, I asked myself if chocolate stained clothing while knowing that it did/ does.
I laughed. This is what I got for going too fast. For not completing one thing before going onto another; or, more accurately put, not being consciously aware that the drink had already been shook. Shaken. I like the sound of shook better. I do believe shaken is usual/ proper.
I used the bullets idea not because it was expressly accurate but because of the thought that often comes to my mind, has for the year or more since I first saw the movie on DVD. The movie: Shooter. A little bit of spoiling I might do but, come on, the movie’s been out since 2007. If you’re going to watch it, go, and come back. I go forward.
There’s a scene at 1:14:40-52, having to do with bad coffee announced good that I find hilarious. Okay, I used to find hilarious; it remains highly amusing. Michael Peña is a genius or at least a fine actor. Always enjoy what he brings to the screen.
But the scene in question, the one going with the topic fast, is one in which the character played by Mark Wahlberg (who did a fine job, especially in explaining what was involved in making a long-distance shot) is teaching Peña how to shoot at a small distance (1:23:05). Peña screws up; Wahlberg tells him: slow is smooth smooth is fast.
I can’t tell you how often I have considered that advice/ direction/ observation/ aphorism/ nugget. Slow is smooth because it is controlled, deliberate, conscious. Smooth is fast because if whatever you’re doing (and I hope for none of us is it shooting people, unless the options left are none), it is faster to do it right, fully, correctly, effectively the first time then to have to go back. A shooter may not have another chance. But even if there is another chance, it’s still quicker to do it right the first time.
And if you’re sure it’s done right the first time, you don’t have to go back and check. You already know. Many is the time when I second-guessed myself and checked again what I had done; on not a few occasions I have found an error. If I had just slowed down a bit the first time.
Here is where it gets trippy and transformative to me, however. In what I am about to suggest. Using transitive properties in math (and I guess also logic?), if a=b and b=c then a=c. If slow=smooth and smooth=fast, you get where I am going with this. slow=fast. Wow! And you can see, can’t you, how in this case, that is the case. If one slowly, smoothly completes a task then that is or can be the fastest way to do it. Rather than first rushing, making an error, checking and finding that error, they doing the task again.
Let’s get this away from killing people. I had a coworker a few lifetimes ago who was in charge of filling out forms with customers’ names. These forms would be used by we workers to track the item and get it to the customer; the customer would also see the form. We were selling expensive things so everything, including the order and delivery slips, had to be just so. My coworker’s handwriting was not beautiful except in one regard: it was highly legible. What he wrote you could read, anyone could read. Even someone who didn’t understand English letters could read what he wrote. (I’m overstating the case here.)
I asked him one day how he had such clean handwriting. His answer: “I write slowly.” That was his magic and magic it was. He had learned to take the time necessary. Not more time than was necessary, there was no dilly-dallying about it. But the time necessary. He wrote slow but it was fast. Fast because no one ever had a question what he wrote or which customer a product belonged to. Slow was fast. Slow is fast.
You may not like the movie, by the way. It is rated R, allegedly has plot holes, critics were not impressed. There’s lots of shooting and killing, most of it with little gore and limited consequence. We do not meet families of the slain except one fiancée. A mildly disturbing torture sequence. Geopolitics that may or may not suit you. But there’s also action, a car chase, helicopters, explosions, stunning and varied scenery, a decent job by Whalberg and that coffee scene and more by Peña.
I’ve seen it at least twelve times. I don’t need to again soon but I liked it.
I like it all the more because it gave me slow=fast. A mind-bending truth. An oxymoron and enigma. I want to say it's translogical.
The chocolate protein drink affixed itself lickety-split to all the surfaces I mentioned. A few minutes later and removing it required actual scrubbing. Makes me a little concerned about what I’m drinking every morning. Not enough to stop.
So says all-knowing Google. Is Google all-knowing? I bet there are some things it doesn’t know. Like what you’re thinking this instant. It does know a good deal, though.
Does all-knowing equal almighty? I don’t think they are the same. It’s not a slow=fast situation, at least by my reckoning. You can know about a lot of things but that does not mean you necessarily have the power to change or maintain them.
Back to variations. A change within certain limits: in other words, a change within socially acceptable limits. It’s gotten to the point where men wearing earrings is not unusual but nose rings still seem, at least to me, a bit odd. What do you do when you have to blow your nose? Not to be indecent or revealing, but what does one do when one has to pick one’s nose? Or maybe I’m alone in that.
Deviation feels like a definite no-no; variation can feel like it's on the way there. A variation seems a touch undesirable but still within acceptable limits.
Who decides what the certain limits, the acceptable limits? Probably, in areas where money and prices are concerned, those with the most of it. Probably influencing the population, at least here in the USA, through the media that is mostly owned by them.
Variations are required in lift, I do believe, because nothing stays the same. Let me repeat that: nothing stays the same. It may look the same, we might say about something she never changes or you haven’t changed but, you know, they have. I recall my father, in response to what was to him an outlandish idea, one that would have required a change in how he conducted his business, saying, I’m fifty years old. I don’t recall if he said the next part or I postulated it as an explanation of the first but I heard I’m not going to change. The funny thing is, the natural and usual thing is, the thing is he had to, we all do, he did. He may not have agreed that he did, but he did in outlook and physically. Don’t we all? All the time?
I’m fifty years old, he said, which did end the discussion. Fifty, now that it is in my rearview mirror by more than a year or two, seems/ is not that old and decided at all.
But hey, we all get to live in and respond to the events/ facts, who we are in life, in the way we want/ choose to. And do.
That second definition a different or distinct form or version of something gets a smile out of me. Did you catch it? Not my smile but the punctuation. The period is outside the quotation mark rather than tucked inside of it. Tucked in, inside the quotation mark, which is the American (ahem, USAer), standard way. Is Google globalizing us? Ha. I wonder if we aren’t doing that to ourselves. I don’t think globalization is necessarily bad but it does seem to put business above governments when put into practice. That is a concern. What a country, countries place profit above the primary goal of the health and happiness of its population.
I digress. Google uses Oxford Languages, “the home of language data,” for its definitions. Maybe I should write “the home of language data”, in homage/ deference. Those English people, as in people from the U.K. Still trying to boss us around like in the colonial days. I’m pretty sure the USA is the bossy one these days.
I haven’t a conscious clue what my mind or whatever force was working within me chose the word variations for me to write about. Usually, almost always, a word picked for these hundred days is one I have some idea, some feeling about. Variations is, haha, a variation from this norm. Perhaps the idea was, my unconscious wanted me to go on, a trip.
Is your best work produced under pressure? Common wisdom, at least as far as I’ve commonly heard, says no. That the results produced are best come to after considerable rational thought. I get that thinking. It makes sense. Sense in a logical sense. Life is logic but life is much more than only logic. There is information, useful information, that one can receive, I believe, from illogical sources. From your unconscious; from your physical surroundings; from others; perhaps even, and here it gets extra wild, from the ether. That is to say, from parts unknown, unmeasurable (at least not measurable as of now).
Believe that last bit, or earlier bits, at your own reward.
I have often been of the “hasty thought produces bad decisions” school; and sometimes of the “get all possible evidence before a decision is made” school. Both schools of thought are rational, make logical sense, are useful, good, correct. But, you guessed it, I think there’s more or at least other.
I’m not saying that speedy decisions are always the best (so hard to measure sometimes which are the best decisions, isn’t it, as once a decision is made, then the situation and the way the situation is addressed is changed). I am suggesting that you may want to try them in your repertoire. Probably on lesser decisions, at least at first.
Once, close to the middle of the latter three-fifths of last century, my 11th grade, I had a term paper due. I think I’ve written about already in MOMENT; not exactly sure. That term paper, for English, played a big part in my grade for that second semester; that semester’s grade likely, possibly, was important in college admissions. At least, this is what I thought at the time: pressure. I was under pressure, at least from myself, to do well.
The thing was that the book I was writing about, George Meredith’s The Amazing Marriage, was long, and not always a gripper. I was interested more intellectually than emotionally with it. (Better to be both.) Also, I was an habitual procrastinator.
Perhaps the procrastination was me waiting until I had all the possible information I could before I committed my thinking to paper?
I will readily admit that thoughts poured out in a rush, that papers written with deadlines looming, that all safety checks at a nuclear plant should be rigorously and systematically and carefully followed. But we’re not taking about handling nuclear devices here; or administering medicine does; or counting money. We are talking about the expression and reception of ideas. Certainly, I think it often true, that papers, books (ahem) written under pressure are often less smooth, not as clear, may be off-putting to some.
Some of those will object to form: this is how we do it, say it, always have (rarely true), is the only way people will listen. They are correct. Some people will not read anything unless its form is completely to their liking, regardless of the worthiness of the message(therein). They won’t read unstandard stuff. They likely have not gotten to day55 of MOMENT, at least not by the long way.
Some of those will object to difficulty: these are people who are not interested in a bracing wrestling with ideas but rather want a delicious and probably sugar-riddled meal. If they have to chew, I mean have to chew because there are vegetables not cooked with their lives out of them, they don’t want it. They don’t want to do the work. They want to be told by the writer what the answers are rather than work them out for themselves with the writer. That’s their choice and they can live that way. Maybe most people do.
I am not an anarchist or advocating for the destruction of words, letters, sentences, or meanings. Perhaps obviously, I depend on structure and use it standardly often. Am now. But I do think a bit of rawness, roughness, unsettledness in writing is not a bad thing. Can sometimes be good.
Yesterday I had to laugh. I completed writing “day54 variations” and looked ahead to today’s topic. Yes, I was under pressure of time as well as not knowing what to say about variations when I started. Not sure I did a great job of it once I got going. But I do think, believe, that what I wrote will bring up and out your thinking. If/ when you get past its casual form, and read and think about the ideas presented, presented under pressure, I still think find it useful you will. May. Might. I don’t know because I have not reread it. I am sure something is there, something is there in it. Possibly for you.
I was thinking also about pressure steam engines. It is the pressure of the steam which pushes the piston which transforms, according to Wikipedia, “by a connecting rod and crank, into rotational force for work.” Railroads helped open up the west, to the chagrin and loss and often death of its inhabitants, alas (we should have learned to share and cohabitate. I said should, not necessarily that we could have. Good thing we’re smarter today).
Pressure can and does drive us forward. I see it in my day job all the time. It’s not always comfortable (hardly ever is), not always easy (ditto), and requires work. But, dadgummit, it often works. Things get done; better methods are found. I complain about it, sometimes. But it does.
Some people, many people, like peace, and I do too. What they sometimes mean with that word is also lack of pressure. They want to go and do only at their own pace. They have that right, of course. I think there’s goodness in having challenges and working through them, too. Including under pressure. But that’s me.
The big benefit of pressure is what it can and sometimes produces; the always, do I want to say always?, big additional benefit is relief. When the pressure has released. Done its work. Then you can breathe.
Kind of sounds like exercise in general and muscle building in particular.
The problem I find often is that concentrating on something seems to pull opportunities for that thing around. Today’s word is trust, and yesterday evening I was given an opportunity for it. That’s putting it the nice way and that’s the way I’m going to keep thinking about it. A significant factor in my life, one that I considered resolved, is now again back in play. I really hope it goes one way. It is out of my hands, however, at least directly what happens.
If it sounds like I’m being mysterious it’s because I am. It’s a big-deal situation for me, one that has helped wake my up multiple times last night. I can’t, physically, do much about it. It’s out of my hands, but it remains in my mind. My response (trying not to react, so far successful in that) is to survey my life. See areas and people in which I can be trustworthy. More trustworthy.
One such area is coming up in an hour’s time.
Friends of mine, wisely weeks ago, asked me to drive them to the airport. The morning has arrived. I am diving them for a 5am flight. To be somewhere, dressed, at 5am is early even for me. It was part out of concern for getting there, being there, on time that I awoke so many times last night. In anticipation.
Also, there is that big issue which came out last night. It will probably play out over the next week. It could pass without much fuss. It could mean a big, and from this morning’s vantage point, change in my life.
Today’s word is trust and I'm seeing times for me to trust and to be trustworthy it seems everywhere. When you pay attention to something it becomes bigger, like when you pick up an object and pull it close: it literally fills more of your visual range and though has not likely changed in size takes up more space, more of one of your prime sensory mechanisms to the outside-you world. (I argue that we’re all in one Being, think of it as one organism, but I let that idea bubble up where it may.)
I trust, my smart move, is to trust that things will go well in this situation that greatly affects me but that I can do nothing greatly about. I am removing myself from it as best I can though highly dependent on its outcome. Not home I like, want to live; how life happens, life presents, and I’m going to say for my good, whether I always like it or not.
I am going to literally (there’s that word again) not be physically present while the deal, the situation goes down. I am going to productively and agreeable spend my time elsewhere.
Time. I’m looking at the clock and I soon must leave to be on time for my airport friends.
I also feel that it would be smart/ good/ wise of me to complete today’s writing within the perhaps fifteen minutes I have. Here goes.
Today’s word is trust; yesterday’s was pressure; the day before’s was variations. You see where I’m going with this. Variations from my life of felt/ believed stability (waking up time, but mostly this big issue): bringing pressure (both in my writing time this morning, but mostly with the temptation, which I will do my best to hold at bay instead thinking/ acting towards trust, toward things I have committed to and believe best to do): bringing opportunities, let’s say it, the requirement of trust.
Did I set myself up for this?
The problem with patience is that you only have it, really have it, when it’s required. I don’t frequently want to be patient. When I think about it, times it is required seem to/ do appear.
I’m in that boat today with trust. I generally live in pretty high standards of trust. I trust most other people, situations, machines to perform as expected, God/ Source/ Universe, Life, myself, most of the time. Sometimes, less so. Now I have the chance to trust.
Does what I am thinking affect my world? You may say balderdash. I am a temporary collection of cells held together for just a short period of time for who can dare to ask or know why. You can believe and think that way; and, if you do, allow me to suggest that will be your experience. That is how you, your life, will be for you; the lens through which you live it. That’s okay. It’s as you wish, Princess Bride style (sort of).
I look at it that what we think at the very least colors/ decides/ influences how we see the world; and that it might change it. I paraphrase from Deathly Hallows: Part 2:
Is this all happening just in my mind, Professor
Of course it’s happening in your mind, Harry. That doesn’t make it any less real.
This way of thinking makes one powerful. It gives the idea if not always, depending on your view, the reality of control.
It does not make one, make me, omniscient or omnipotent. I am a player in my life, a decider; but there is much that is out of my control. If I think about it, most is out of my control. But I am not/ cannot be responsible for all. I am responsible for what I can be. I am.
I trust that it will all work out obviously well. Do what I can to make it that way; trust that I am doing what I can while doing it; trust That Which Is, Life, for the rest.
Off to pickup my friends for the airport.
The synonyms for the word sufficient surprised me. I fully expected enough and adequate but plenty of, ample, abundant surprised me. I am not always a fan of the medium ground (usually, I am not); but I do think living in sufficiency is a good place to be. Forgive my presumption (or do not), but I think it’s not so good to have not enough; and it's not so good to have too much.
Where is the middle; is it like tapioca pudding in the middle, all a mush; it may sound to some that I am pushing communism which I am not. Communism has, in many and important areas, failed. So has, ahem, capitalism. I would say people needlessly dying for lack of food or healthcare or home, plastic in every ocean, people who pay no taxes by legal financial chicanery or pay so little just so they can hoard more, more, more is also a failed system. That leaves socialism, of the big three, the third-party as it were. I am also not greatly convinced of it though, I will admit, for reasons I cannot so clearly define. It feels to me, if I may be blunt, that it lacks umph. Doesn’t have the verve that life offers. Say what you will about the first two, and I do and have, they have verve.
What seems to work the better, I won’t say the best, is some combination of the three, at least until a better new or old fourth scheme comes along. For, have no doubt, each of the three are a story, a belief system, whether supported by brutal force, bribery, or mildness.
It is quite possible that I have pissed off many with these words, all the more because my defense of my position is mostly in trying by a few words to discount the usual three.
Funny how there are different camps and people tend to clump around them. Those who don’t live on the outside but usually depend on one of the three.
I have done something which I did not realize until I had done it. I’ve taken pretty much opposite stands, both with fervor, in the last few days. In fast, I talked about the good of going slow because that’s steady and therefore fast; in pressure I spoke, albeit obliquely, of the virtues of speed and motion. When I wrote down these last fifty days, their titles, I occasionally stepped in and consciously grouped some together (the final ten on variations of time and its measurement, being the most obvious example). Mostly, however, I put down words taken from the scraps of paper I had written them on, the pile collected during the first fifty. In other words, the order of the days, their titles/ subjects, was in large part unconsciously created as much as I could do so; and my conscious sometimes stepped in.
In other words, a mixed bag.
I wonder if many or most countries are not like the USA: with mixes of government strong-arming, government care; business avarice, and business allowing, supporting, the daily function of life; voting and consensus decisions for the good of the group also playing a role. Some countries undoubtedly more heavily announced in one type of form (story) than the others, but all in all three by measure some.
Do we, do I, does our society, do our people, do you, does the other group, do others have sufficiency? Do we have enough, an adequate amount, plenty of, ample, abundant amounts?
You may be surprised at my answer. I suggest we do have a sufficient amount. Perhaps hardly ever, for any, what they, she, he, it, would consider what they want; but enough, some ample. I say that because we here now reading this are alive and have the minds to understand words, phrases, ideas. Having a sufficient amount is good. Having enough and perhaps a bit more.
That’s the story as individuals. For you, me, probably pretty much everyone reading this page.
It is a self-selected group, however. We have the resources to choose to read this, whatever they may be, however grand or modest they may be. There are plenty who do not. Who do not have a home, food, care, safety. They do not have what I would consider sufficiency. What do you think?
If we look at the biggest picture, it seems to me, that society benefits most when voices are heard and respected; and work is done and done well; and rest is had and enjoyed. When we have those who have too much or too little, we rob ourselves of the fuller opportunity of our species. We listen too much to those with great riches and bow to them as if they alone were gods; we listen and act too little for those with physically little and so do not let, do not support their star from shining. We all lose. Even those who think, or most think, have won.
We are on this sparkling gem of a rock together. We, with 8.7 millions is it, of species. Species which are in are our care. That’s the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being the apex species just now. We can do a lot of things, a lot of good things; and are choosing, actively and passively, to not do a ton of them.
These realizations are not reason for despair. They are reason coming through. The reasons people say things can’t be different, better for all, boil down to one: what by many/ most/ nearly all? is an unwillingness to actively change for the better. To live in sufficiency rather than want, rather than superfluousness. We have been unwilling to change but too damn adaptable as others, usually through stories, change us and our actions so that they may have more, more, more. More.
Don’t gripe. Don’t complain. Do. Do eat your food and not throw it away. Do clean out your closets and give away clothes you do not need. Do consider how much plastic you use, if you are throwing away perfectly sufficient plastic grocery bags. Do pick up garbage tossed on the sidewalk.
Also do choose, carefully, joyfully, the stories you listen to. The stories you repeat. Do enjoy breathing all the while you can. Do shine in the way(s) you can. Do live.
P.S. I made it fine to pick up my friends and drive them to the airport.
Stephen King is against them. That’s what I typically think of when I think about talking about adverbs. You will notice that I used the adverb typically, an adverb, in that last sentence. Typically means usually, in most cases. That is what I usually think about when I think about adverbs. It is not what I think about them always, as the two-word phrase I think might imply.
He so wrote in his book about writing titled, perhaps not surprisingly, On Writing. I read it maybe three (?) decades ago, in one of my many attempts to get to do it full time, for a living and a life. So don’t trust me for a book report. I do remember his animosity towards the words which to a verb add. I can work around to understanding why, in his case: he writes fiction and wants it be/ seem real. He uses adverbs only sparingly because he is bringing through his words the implausible, the unlikely, the impossible, the invisible (?) into what the reader would consider the real. I’m doing a bit of the opposite. I am trying to suggest that the real is very real; and also, at the same time, imaginary. That is to say, we are using our minds and imagining it as well. In-imaging it. Bringing it into our perception and forming it, holding the idea of it, in our minds.
I tend to use adverbs frequently. They modify adjectives and other adverbs but I mostly think of them modifying verbs. Telling the reader, you, me, how something is done not just that it is done.
He walked to the store.
He angrily walked to the store. He walked to the store slowly. He petulantly walked to the story. He happily walked to the store. He wasn’t just happy, he was skipping right along.
Petulantly? He rudely walked to the store? How does one do that? Zipper undone, junk in sight; middle finger waving; yelling at people for no reason and especially loudly while sauntering to the corner store? Not sure how/ why my unconscious came up with petulantly.
I am only a partial grammarian; that is to say I qualify only in the case of the writing of this page and only because I’m writing about grammar not studying it. But I do not study or write about it on any regular basis so a grammarian I am not really.
I do know that I frequently apply, and do appreciate, even love, adverbs.
The way in which something is done can be, I think, sometimes, more important in ways than even the thing that is being done.
Take me getting about of bed this morning. Most mornings, I practically leap awake and am happy for the day ahead. I know some consider that obnoxious. I consider how I usually am. There are other mornings, mornings with obvious or ominous dread, in which I only reluctantly get out of bed. There are also mornings like today where I just didn’t want to. Just let me sleep a little longer, I told my alarm clocks, one of which I turned off the first noise and the other kept pushing snooze. My delay in getting up pushed back the times I did everything I do in the mornings and it’s a few items. Some of them, most of them, I cannot not do lest my whole day is screwed up.
On all three mornings, I did the same thing: I got out of bed (eventually). My action, the verb, was the same. The first time happily, the second reluctantly, the third haphazardly. All three manners, attitudes, of doing the something, getting out of bed, had a direct impact on/ shaped what came next. If I get out of bed happily, I am usually awake, bright of mind; get my ablutions and other morning chores done easily and expeditiously; and I’m off to a good start to a good day.
When I get out of bed reluctantly, I have already cast a pallor over the day. I’ve already started with at least minor dread and bring that energy into how I experience the first hours of the morning. I look for problems, things that are not working or “should not” be; and, helped by the fact of my looking, I find them. Which assists me in feeling justified in feeling bad, reluctant, in the first place. A self-reinforcing day of doom.
It usually isn’t that bad and I can often shake the reluctancy once I get going. But you get the picture.
I am not saying that every day can begin with happily getting out of bed. But I do think it’s good and useful to try to start the day well. To try to start it with some optimism.
This morning, I delayed getting out of bed, postponed the official start of my day. Here I am, staring down a clock, with a deadline (relieved that it is quite unlikely I will be shot if I miss it, if I cross it). Now I have a choice between completing this day’s writing for MOMENT, and my final get-ready morning tasks, either hastily or hurriedly. You’ll see, if you look them up, that these words are considered synonyms of about the same meaning. For me, I make a fine distinction. Hastily implies, to me, sloppily, haphazardly, which I hope not to be or do. Hurriedly means, for me, quickly but not necessarily badly. Rather, speedily. That’s just in my own little head. I hope to be doing the latter. Thinking of my race this morning as one of hurry rather than haste helps me to be a bit calmer in the midst of racing along.
Adverbs express attitude; attitude makes a difference; I and likely you have a good deal of control over our attitudes towards things/ actions/ people. That’s what I want to say and, boom, now I have.
A not so pleasant word, grabbing. Don’t know how or why my unconscious came up with it; yet there is was and here it is.
I can see that at times I am a grabbing monster. Sometimes when I feel or know that things of mine are going to be taken away, I grab them back, worried. Worried that there will not be more or other to replace them. When, in nearly every circumstance, there is. Sometimes, dare I say often, the replacement is an upgrade from what I originally had. If not an upgrade, if I search myself, I find out that it is something that I wanted more.
Better to receive than to grab; better to take, when it's appropriate to do so. There is certainly a time to take a chance, take a risk, take control. Take control of oneself, often; of others, at times, depending on one’s ability and the controlled’s agreement or position (as in a workplace). One could grab a chance, I suppose, but that seems rather desperate.
That may be the hub of the matter: desperation. Grabbing at something speaks of desperation. That you have to have that thing or else.
Today I happened to go to the movies, taking a chance that the movie would interest me even though I had heard nothing about it. I had seen the first; this was the third of the same series. It’s a new movie and I don’t want to give away any spoilers. The Equalizer 3 stars Denzel Washington who does a great job having us believe that a) he can kill about anyone he wants to starting from about any situation he finds or puts himself; b) he does kill those he believes he should; c) he is physically able to do the killing even though we seen not a lot of proof that he can; he has impeccable timing. Timing that would make James Bond, certainly Roger Moore as James Bond, jealous. Possibly the other James Bonds too.
Once you get past that, and I found it easy to do as I go into movies with willing suspension of disbelief because, well, they are movies (pieces of imagination). (Not to decry imagination but rather I praise it, it can show the impossible for the service of ideas). But I know the power of a compelling story. The one in this movie is, I think, a decent story. Violence and gore that serve rather than make the plot. It may not be for you; if not, I get it. Most musicals are not for me. Sweeney Todd, the play, had plenty of gory innuendos, and stared Angela Lansbury, and I didn’t like it much. To be clear, I don’t seek out gore or excessive violence; but I can work with them as plot points.
Anyway, I liked the movie. Not to give away the plot but the person I rooted for won and the person I did not like. At all. Lost.
There is a character in there who is grabbing monster all the time. He grabs and grabs, takes, steals, murders, terrorizes, demeans, bullies, but mostly grabs. It is not an appealing character trait.
The continuing compulsion to grab everything one can from anyone one can in any way one can is sickening. The person going the always-grab is a person of little compassion, little strength, crying out to be known, if I may say sick. Clearly the idea of sufficiency has not been learned or taken to heart. Billionaires and others overly rich who pay little or no taxes through legal and financial chicanery are constantly grabbling, in my book. What they do may be legal, they may have legally paid off the necessary politicians and political parties, but that does not make their actions right. That does not mean they are not grabbing, grabbing, grabbing. Because they are. Hiding assets in foreign lands to avoid paying for the society which they benefit from and depended on for their money in the first place. Gabbing of the first degree.
I admitted early on that I can be, at least have been, at times, in my life, a grabbing monster. I’m not particularly proud of my actions. A few in college come immediately to mind; some more through the decades, especially coming out when I was afraid, have also occurred. Forget the also occurred phrasing: I did them. I grabbed at what I thought I must have when, had I trusted others, life, but mostly myself, I would have been smart to not try and take or take.
Crazily enough, or not crazy at all, trying to understand, comprehend, explain, control the wholeness of life or even nine-tenths of it is grabbing to. I do not know how life all holds together. Why this happens and not that; why things happen at all, and life continues.
I am a big proponent of life, and the idea of Life, a life that’s better, more, than simply existing and surviving. I believe in happiness and joy; and have found through sometimes tough times that they are sometimes seemingly not to be found. But life continues and I want to be a part, an active, giving, receiving part of life for as long as I am able. Often, I want to be an inactive, receiving part. Sometimes, I am. Mostly, though, I want to be and am active.
I also believe that human beings are the children of God, or god, if that better suits your sensibilities; or of life; or happy-for-us accidents of chemistry and biology, is that is your cup of belief. We have powers. We use them. Do we use them always or often wisely?
I say all this, and have the awareness that I have now started three paragraphs in a row with the pronoun I, a sign if not of a megalomaniac at least of someone tiresome. Or language inept. I say all of this because of a thought which occurred to me during the movie today. Killing had happened, more was to come; vigilante justice made a necessary evil and victor, made into good. Also, there was some honesty being said, too.
The thought: yes, I am for life. For Life. Life is the point. The point of religions (most of them), of our going to work. Joy is available and, well, a joy to have. Life is the point of life. That Life does not necessarily need to include humans in its equation. Life, biological, other, in the what we consider the inanimate, expresses in ways we cannot think of, will continue. Will be. After the last of our species are no longer. Life will continue. Life Is.
Aren’t we lucky to be in it?
To be a part of it today? To get the experience of living?
I believe we, as humans, we, as individuals, family groups, friends, tribes, cities, people, clans, varying skin tones from pink to midnight brown, sexes and types, can live Life better. If we play our cards right, we might as a species be around for a very long time. The full hand has not been dealt, there are still cards we are going to receive. If it were up to us, we’d probably be grabbing at spades and diamonds, and clubs. Spades to dig the earth, to grab the minerals and oil, the diamonds and other stones we’ve deemed precious. Clubs we’d use to knock those in the head with whom we do not agree and those we want to control. To feel better, feel justified, in how we see/ think life is. What we need are more hearts. We’ve got a couple but they are low numbered. We need a Jack, Queen, and King. While we’re there, why not want/ work for/ wish for an Ace?
It’s with the awareness and response to connection that love is, the heart symbolizes, that we can win this opulent game. No matter if others play it for spade. Spades, shovels, with which we dig our own graves.
What do you think of when you think of the word light? Go ahead. Take a few seconds to think about it.
What did you come up with?
Light can refer to the physical illumination of something or someone; the light from a lamppost, for instance. Lamppost, streetlights, whatever you want to call them, perform a remarkable service: they extend one day into a long string of them, until such time as their bulbs (LEDs these days, I’d guess) and those of all the streetlights around them go out. Essentially, they make, through the use of artificial light, the days continue endlessly, at least in the sense that we can then use our normal vision to see what is going on.
Light from the sun, it is obvious to any who have been out in it, everybody, also provides heat/ energy. Energy is tomorrow’s topic so I’ll leave that aspect of light for then.
Light can also mean, in a physical sense, not heavy. Objects light enough to carry, as an example. Of course one can have a light pickup truck, for instance, which is not light enough for any single human to carry. They are light by comparison to heavy-duty pickup trucks.
Light also can mean, in a psychological sense, not heavy. Easy topics, discussions, things to talk about; light-hearted chats, about things amusing or of not great consequence. Talk about death, war, illness, politics, is not generally light-hearted.
Some also talk about children of the light. Yes, there is a video game by that name but I have before heard the phrase used in a specifically religious setting, where the phrase referred to ardent followers of Jesus Christ. The idea I’ve gotten from the latter is that those who are children of the light seek virtue and godliness. Which I equate as goodness, at least what is goodness from the perspective of those using the phrase.
Light is often, in my experience, related to/ referencing something or someone good. It’s opposite, in this sense, is dark and darkness. There are those comfortable in the dark, even pitch black dark. Some sleep with light-blocking curtains; some are comfortable enough in the dark to go exploring in caves (likely using flashlights, etc., but still otherwise in pitch black). I am not one of them. Maybe it was growing up as a kid with a suburban streetlight thirty feet from my window, its light always shining in after the sun had gone down; maybe it’s from years in New York, San Francisco, other cities and suburbs. I like light, some light, around. Stars are nice to look at and I’ve seen more than a few on a couple of nights away from cities but their light is not strong enough for me. I like light. Even when I’m sleeping.
There can, of course, at times, be too much light. The blinding light of coming out of movie theater, of waking up early in the morning before the sun and turning on a bed light, the truly blasting, blinding light that can happen in the desert and if you have an eye infection. That’s too much light. Too much of a good thing can be (always is? Now that’s a question) a bad thing.
What has all of this got to do with anything?
Whether natural or human-made; whether full on so that all can be seen around you; or overhead lights off and only table lamps on; a torch or flashlight’s light to poke a hole in the darkness, light makes apparent, feeds, our eyes with physical information. What’s here; we decide what’s important by what we concentrate on. This is true for sighted people, of course, not those who are not sighted at all. Their experience of the world must be very different than for the rest of us. I cannot speak to it.
I can say that human-added light changed the day, the time humans could be out, could work, are out, do work. It took us, expanded us, made us more. It’s so commonplace, for probably most of us, to turn on lights, turn them off, control, to sometimes a great extent, what we can see, where we can go, how long we can be active. Where we can focus our attention. The increased options, well, that increased our options. You could say it further splintered us, as humans, as peoples, made us less homogeneous. Caused us not to be on the same/ similar schedules, more different from one another.
I’d say it allowed us to explore and add to the rich variety of human experience. Let some be active night people rather than restless, stuck-in-bed ones. As we expand in our perspectives and experiences, so do our breath of understandings. So does our, as a species, sometimes as individuals, comprehension or at least potential appreciation of God/ Source/ Universe, of Life.
This morning I woke up with energy. Energy flowed through me, my mind, my body, enthusiasm abounded. I have already done a number of things including sprucing up the LyU website.
Why are some days, many days like this and others, like yesterday, flat? Or worse, days not only when I did not want to get out of bed but did not get out of bed.
But first: energy in the big picture. Spoiler alert: it comes from the sun. Without the sun throwing us light and heat, we’d have no chance. Our physical world would be bereft of what we consider life. I wouldn’t be around to write this page and you would not be around to read it.
So let’s start from there: life, any life, all life, we, are dependent on that which (the sun) is outside of us. We are the constant, continuous receivers of a gift. A long-standing and stable gift.
From there, and other happy coincidences/ miracles, over a not short period of time, we have come into being and have our lives. Me now typing, you now reading.
Energy was not our creation; we had nothing to do with it; we do not own or control in any way its ultimate source. Now the question is what do we do with it.
If seems to me that, mostly, we fashion it to suit our needs. And wants. And that is often, perhaps usually, a good thing. Good because we exist; good because we are aware that we exist; good because, mostly, we do good with that which we receive; good because of the opportunities that come with our fashioning.
Streetlamps I go on and on about. Adding to, extending the day. Brought about through resources fashioned by human ingenuity. Travel and the transportation of goods, made possible by resources fashioned by human ingenuity and, I hope for our sake and the sakes of those coming after us, from energy directly captured from the sun. The power of human decisions which are amplified, multiplied, gigantified by the use of energy.
We require energy, and, I think, the second law of thermodynamics be damned, can and do add energy to the world. At least as we experience it.
No, I’m not going to try to defend, explain that. At least not now. Except to say that I can be operating in a calorie deficit and have more energy now than when I am in a calorie surplus. There’s probably a way to explain the situation away, from a scientific view; but, from an experiential, this is how I live and feel way, it seems that my personal energy is not directly tied (though it can be influenced by) how much physical, measurable energy I have coming in to me. I am alive and full of energy now, as opposed to much less so this time yesterday, and especially the day before that, not greatly dependent of the food I ate and the sleep I got.
It is complex and complicated but simple still: when my mind has energy, when my thoughts are ones of connection and appreciation, even sometimes aspiration, I have more energy.
Don’t get me wrong: sleep and food are essential. I hope/ plan to have good, healthy amounts of both today. But what I most crave and aim for is energy. Energy to participate in this life, in my life, in life, with gusto and direction.
And it all, way back when as far as the evolution of humankind, somewhere around eight and one-third minutes ago as far as the suns rays leaving the orb and arriving on earth, starts with the sun. Which itself started about four billion years ago.
Here’s the thing and the practical takeaway, my suggestion to you: when you have energy, feel, know that you are alive, rejoice. And direct that energy towards what you believe/ know/ feel is good.
The Great and Honorable, or Sir, I think I would like to have in front of my name and I get a charge whenever someone calls me boss. It is quite unlikely (as it the other titles aren’t) that I will ever have Judge, Doctor, Senator, or Congressman announcing who I am, as my “level” in society’s ranking announcing me; I am a-okay with that. President? As in President of these United States? That’s a hard pass. Don’t want it, couldn’t do it, isn’t me. Good thing that’s never going to happen put in smiley face here.
When I get Mr. Knight, which happens much more when I’m back East than here in California, I think ok. I can handle that.
Titles titles titles. What others call us, how society defines us and at what level of society. They set up expectations, like Chief Justice, that are infrequently met. They often socially define the person, Sir Elton John, as an established, esteemed, or at least financially successful cultural figure. Even if the person has been sometimes a rascal.
The Earl of Grantham. They are all made up, of course. But then so is everything else that we think about the world. Oh, sure, things may and do exist without us individually or specially (as in species-ly); but what they mean, how we think and refer, use, avoid, name them is made up. We humans did it. Probably not you individually (but maybe). Nonetheless, some person along the way decided this was to be called that and it stuck. Because others agreed with it, succumbed to it, were cowed into it.
It is made up, titles are made up. But, to repurpose a quote of Dumbledore’s, that doesn’t make them any less real.
Titles of persons (convict, felon, arsonist, crazy, dumb-ass) also condemn.
Titles help to categorize folks, for good and bad. They frame, are attempts to frame, often unconsciously frame how we “should” respond to that person/ their authority. Are they effective? I would say, in general, yes. Probably, no duh, more in traditional, hierarchical societies than those less so. Captains of finance telling a visitor to call them not Mr. but by their first name is disarmingly effective. I did and it somehow gave them more power. Caesar.
I will admit this: whenever I am titled friend I consider my past history with that person. Have they been one, steadfast and true? Friend, and brother, are titles I say and mean with special honor.
I was young when I bought a house, in my late twenties. I always get an interior chuckle when I hear bought in this context. I did not buy a house: it belonged to the bank. I committed to a mortgage while getting use of the building. At that point, a title was given me but not a clear title. My title, the title of the house, had a lien. They could, the bank, and would, the bank, lean on me, financially and legally, had I not continued to pay their mortgage.
Titles have to do with private property. The saying of, and usefully so (rightfully is not always in every circumstance clear), this is my spot, here I have control and stand. Always within limits. That’s the asterisked part. The fine writing on the bottom of the page. Really, it’s all a long term loan, the lien of life, age, years, societies, times against it. We are passers-through and our duration, seemingly long at time when we’re in it, deadly short at the end.
Happening upon, creating, the title for a book is a major milestone in the book’s development. In its start. At least, for me. Deciding What You Want, Things I Learned from My Parents, The Reductionists, titles of books that are and I intend to be. They give a name for the collection of words and ideas to follow. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by the way, is a smashing book. I do not therein recall a lot of praying, in fact. Still, the book is excellent.
With the decision of a title, the naming of a book, the book has set its course and all it needs is to get there. To be worthy of and fulfill the title. It’s easy and it’s hard, I find, like life. But at least it has a name. A stake to its being. A shortcut by which it can be referred to. An idea, ideas, crystallized or at the least collected. There is a lien against it, a lien against an august social title, too: that of the readers, the givers/ agreers. Of course. The title fits, is real, only if they who hold the lien agree.
Rules. You gotta love them, hate them, despise them, use them, play them, abide by them, disregard them, weigh them but we all, and I am saying all, use them. They are social requirements and scientific requirements of life. We have, having been born of/ to other humans, living with humans, currently reading a book written by a human (me), are connected to other humans in some way, shape, or form and thereby, because of that, abide by, use, employ some rules.
As much as I sometimes step out of the usual writing of English grammar I also mostly, usually, depend upon it in writing this, and in operating in the world. Please, you look at you.
As much as I think I’d like to fly at a moment’s notice, as the desire struck me, as many superheroes do, gravity, except when I’m flying in an airplane, keeps me on or within a few feet of the ground.
Rules, understanding of the better ways of living life, physically and socially prescribed, are.
It’s not quite a rule, maybe, but it surely is close to a rule in my life that I keep my smart phone charged. Like as not, I’ve found, if I don’t I run out of power on it towards the end of the day. And, as a rule, I like to be able to use/ check in with my phone.
I expect today to be a companion essay with the one tomorrow titled exceptions. But I won’t know that until tomorrow and I’m not (of course, of the course of this book MOMENT) looking back over what was written today to use that as a gauge of what to write tomorrow.
I went to summer camp for a couple of weeks to a month or more every summer for eight (really nine, another story) on Martha’s Vineyard, as a camper, volunteer leader, paid staff. Let me tell you there were rules there. Not onerous ones but ones that allowed us to function as a mini-society. You get up, wash, eat, read, meet, work, volunteer, eat, recreate, relax, eat, meet, sleep at certain times of the day. Everyone does. Those are the rules; thank goodness for them; mayhem would likely ensue otherwise.
I have also been fortunate, honored really, to stay over at people’s homes. Mostly for a night or two, sometimes for a few days, other times a week or more, still a few others for six months and once for two years. Homes in Warwick, Phoenixville, Sconset, Nantucket, Austin, Toledo, Grosse Pointe, Alexandria, Los Gatos, Carson City, Los Angeles, SF, Palm Springs, Newbury Park, Lakeland, Rome, Zurich, Wohlen, Patmos, NYC, Bernardsville, Genoa, Milton, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Lincoln, Sydney, St. Louis, Scottsdale, Laguna Niguel, Berkeley, Philadelphia, Trenton, Wrightsville Beach, Mill Valley come to mind immediately and there have been others. I am thankful for having stayed at all of them and mean no slight but not writing all down here. Let me tell you, spoken but usually not, they all had rules. Rules by which those homes, families, individuals, organizations, social groups operated. And thank goodness.
As a guest, as a participant in the owner’s/ renter’s social and physical structures, I did my best to learn, pay attention to, abide by those rules. Of course. I wouldn’t give myself a hundred percent. Ninety-nine point eight, yes. By operating within their rules I got the benefit of sharing their experience. And having a roof over my head for that/ those night(s). And, usually, eating with them their particular foods. These visits/ stays would not have been possible, or at least would have been short-lived, had I not.
I like getting along with people; I get along with most people though not everyone. I don’t break rules unless there is a clear reason; or, sometimes, when I want to. I’ve tested a few, broken a few others that I regret. But, on the whole, I think, I keep them.
Rules are, in general, good. That’s what I come down to. Not always everywhere in every case but usually. I suppose I’ll talk more about that in tomorrow’s “exceptions". But here let me say rules=thumbs up.
So please don’t bring your anarchy to me. I’m not interested. Tearing down things for the sake of tearing down things makes little, no, sense to me. The things that are were created for reasons even if those reasons I do not endorse; yes, some things, some institutions would be better gone, have to go, some practices, rules unspoken destroyed, banished, better forgotten.
But tearing the whole thing down, wantonly destroying, trying to destroy all that is to replace it with what someone or someones or a group of people think what might be or have no idea what with seems stupid. Stupid because there is often obvious good to be found in most things/ institutions/ people; stupid because it can’t be done. Even if that which is is destroyed the conscious memory of it will remain in many and so it will still exist in effect; even when those who were alive who remember the past die, the unconscious ramifications of what was remain in the unconscious. The social unconscious. I say don’t rid ourselves of ancient texts but those interested look at, read, understand them through the context of what we’ve learned since and their own experience. ‘Cause life is always changing. It’s always in movement. Not done yet. Things, beliefs, ideas can be, always are interpreted and reinterpreted. Cannot but but be.
So: are rules guidelines? Yes. Social constructs which are, though made up and typically impermanent, real. They are part of our lives. Invisible structures, struts, which hold us as individuals and whole societies together.
I’m pro-rules. There are exceptions.
I read about presbyopia about a decade ago for I am not sure exactly what reason. I wanted to know more about the eye; how it worked, what it did, how the brain took what we consider is outside of us and we form mental images of how the world is structured. Very useful in avoiding tripping over ottomans. Yes, a The Dick Van Dyke Show opening-sequence reference.
At the time, my eyesight was spot on. I could read the tiniest of writing at any distance. It was a special superskill of mine, a superpower, at least I thought; my immediate biological family all wore glasses, some from a relatively young age. Not me. No glasses needed. The orb of my left eye may have been (was) put back into place after an auto accident at age seventeen but I could see like nobody’s business. Near and far. Just by opening my eyes.
I did not crow about this power, not much, except perhaps to myself. I don’t need glasses! I’m never going to have to wear them. Inward smile smile smile. Maybe outward too.
When I read about presbyopia I could see as good as an eagle. Not really, but I could see well. Those older, when looking at me reading, would say not infrequently what good eyes I had. I took internal delight.
The years rolled, the planet spun, I continued on in the aging process. My hair I kept but my sharp eyesight.
I’m going to guess it was about four years ago, still later than many, but inevitably it came, my close eyesight became blurry. It probably happened a couple of years before but it was only four years ago that I began to adjust/ change for it.
I remember one young whippersnapper, a coworker at my day job for three weeks, who insisted on calling my reading glasses, the glasses I kept in my pocket for reading emergencies, cheaters. Handsome, muscled, full hair, confident, not dependent on income from the job, thirty years my junior, affable, likable, full of himself, he smiled with glee when he said it. You have cheaters! the first time he saw them and cheaters whenever I’d take them out others. He was crowing. Out loud.
Irritating and vexing. That’s how I took it.
I had thought I would be an exception to needing reading glasses when I got older. Older I have gotten; need them I do. I can still read without them, as I am now typing to you. But the letters are furry, like they’re biological and been left out of the fridge too long. It’s gotten to where I have five pairs placed in the five places I need them the most, including the car. I don’t wear them driving but have the extra set in case I forgot to pocket my day job pair that morning.
Now they are one. I can, indeed, more easily see and read. What a wonder. It’s a small but pleasant improvement. But what does it tell me about life?
First thing it tells me is that I need to clean the inside of my car’s windows. Still haven’t tried hard enough, found, a way to clean them clear. The streaks, particularly evident on the rear window, aren’t much noticeable until direct sunlight shows them; but in direct sunlight is when I most need to see clearly through. Have to get onto that as I have for the time I’ve owned the car.
Second thing that my presbyopia condition/ situation/ reality/ inevitability tells me is that I am not an exception. Not an exception from the normal operating, aging of the body and its organs. I guess this means I’m going to die too.
I could wallow, I could complain, I could (as much as I could) ignore. Instead, I’ve got reading glasses in five spots so one is at the ready when I need to see small. And if I’m going to die one day, which seems pretty much assured, then I’d better use the resources I have, get more, to help me live as well as I can for the days I have left. I’d better because I intend to live.
Exceptions prove the rule is a phrase which has been a continuing conundrum to me. I agree with it, it feels right, but what exactly does it say or mean? Reading over on Wikipedia about it feels like a raging war. The way I can understand it is that as there are exceptions that means there is a rule, a general way of understanding how something, some process, thing, person operates. Only if there is variance then we care about the thing? I worked in a cash office once where the main question asked by a boss was if there was a variance in the cash on hand and the amount expected. That was the thing the bosses cared about. Not the normal operation of the duties of the office nearly so much than if something were off.
My English usage in today’s writing seems, to me now in the writing, but not the rereading because I of course haven’t done that yet, to be stretching the normal, usual usage of english. I’m slinging words and phrases out of me as they come out. Here’s hope and trust in action.
Wabi-sabi comes also to mind: the exception to perfection which in fact makes the thing more perfect. Pefecter, the miscreant in me says. He who wants to be the exception.
I am a rule-follower except when I am not. The times my disobedience have been flagrant have been few; that’s what I tell myself and, I hope, is also true. I do delight, at times, in bending the rules. Being the exception is certain cases. One is happening at my day job these days. Construction is going on which means there’s another entrance (guarded by a fellow coworker) by which I can get in in the morning. It’s not the usual or expected way I’d be let it but I haven’t been forbidden to enter that way either. So, with a twinkle in my eye, I go in by the “secret” way. I don’t have to be the exception, not always. But I sure like to be when I can. In my defense, if you think one needed, I would guess that most like to be with most and some like to be the exception.
The crazy thing is we are all part of the one. Our experiences are varied, sometimes delightfully, sometimes monstrously so. I think we’d be smart to build on the capital, the capital of knowledge, experience, systems, traditions if good, stocks of what we consider valuable, to make sure all have enough to be able to add. To add to the life that Is.
The most important thing, it seems to me after almost sixty years of experience, is to be a gracious receiver. Whether you wanted the gift or not; whether it’s practical or useless; whether it suits your lifestyle or not, who you want to be or see yourself as or not, receive the gifts you receive graciously. Otherwise, they might stop coming. Receiving them graciously allows you to honor the gift-giver. They might have gotten it “right,” by giving you want you wanted and in the way you wanted it, or not, either way they made the effort. No matter what the gift is/ was it is a gift to you. Communication and connection.
My parents, especially in my single and early double digits, were not fantastically well off. Don’t get me wrong: we never, ever, my sibling and I, wanted for anything. He always had good food, a safe and good place to live, their care, concern, love, effort. Very fortunate we were. Not everyone has that; everyone deserves it. We had plenty. They were well enough off. Neither of them had great Christmases or birthdays when they were kids (probably due to financial constraints) I gathered; they never talked about them. But it was clear they wanted us to know we were loved and continually reminded of that fact. And it was a fact. They did love us. They showed it consistently. On holidays, my mom would make a big deal of it, have all the decorations and loads of presents for both of us, things we wanted and things we needed (clothes) mixed in. On our birthdays, she would make sure the non-birthday sibling also got a present or two so as not to feel left out.
Towards my bratty teenage years (I was a brat, at times, no doubt), before and especially right after my parents’ divorce, my mom had a bit less money and my dad had not a great idea of what to buy us. Mom still did her best, pared down; dad tried and sometimes gave us too much, giving us a shopping spree instead of planned gifts. Fair enough: he just did not pay attention to some of the specifics of our lives, not like mom did, he had a growing business to run. On which the whole operation, mom included, depended.
I had frightfully clear what I liked and didn’t like. Did not exude graciousness. There are not so many things I’d change in my life were I given the opportunity but the way I received gifts, that I’d change. I’d stop being so damn ungrateful.
As mentioned, I received many presents, thinking, thoughtful, loving gifts as a child, most especially from my mom and dad. But there is one present above them all that I remember the most. It was the old-fasioned LP album Panorama by the new age/ power pop group The Cars. Released October 15, 1980, it was sold at that time in the only (maybe they were also sold by mail?) records were sold: through a record store. The image of my thin, diminutive grandmother, a grandmother not known for her outward displays of affection or even great kindness, going into a record story and buying it for me struck me. It melted me. I so appreciated it. Not only did I appreciate her effort, she who did not drive, lived alone, took the bus, worked at a movie theater; the money she spent; but the gift itself. I really wanted that album. But above all else: I appreciated that she got me exactly what I wanted. Not something that someone thought I wanted but what I exactly wanted. She must have previous directly or indirectly through my parents asked me; and then she got exactly what I wanted. Not without effort. With effort on her part.
Now that is a gift.
Regardless of the gift, however, I encourage you to graciously receive. Take it. (Unless it causes you or others harm.) You don’t have to keep it, not forever. But keep it for a while. It may grow on you. If you don’t like it, don’t want it, after a while, regift it, give it away, throw it away if need be. But get in the practice of graciously receiving.
I suggest/ advise you to get into that practice in all the aspects of your life. It is practice I do not have down perfectly, even at my age (and with decades to come), but it’s one I’m pretty good at. If I do say. Not perfect, now that I think of some items I received from work. Okay, I could get better.
The receiving extends to everything. You are not promised, not guaranteed, not owed your next breath. You’re not promised, guaranteed, owed the one you’re living on now. It is, all is, this experience of life is, even the unwanted parts, a gift.
I’m not saying seek out unwanted parts. I am saying receive even the unwanted ones as gifts. As you are able. It would be in your best interest to be able.
An example: a former boss of mine, a guy talented in many ways but also direct and sometimes harsh, sometimes an employer of sleight-of-hand, told me, face forward: get your teeth fixed and for god’s sake get rid of the hair growing from your forehead. Not these exact words but words to this effect. I felt accosted personally, was embarrassed (he said it within hearing of others), belittled, less than. It was rude and crude.
It was also a great gift. I didn’t realize or take it that way at the time, mind you, but learned these things later. He was right: for me to succeed as well as I was able in both the business and the dating world, I needed to adjust to social expectations. Whether that is fair, right, or just are other questions. In practical senses, he was correct: the better I could look by society standards the more often people would interact with and respect me. I sold high value, I mean high cost, unnecessarily high cost but beautiful items at the time; the better I looked the more, the more people in that atmosphere would trust me, the more I could sell. The better I looked, the more guys I could have dates and go out with. Life ain’t fair. That’s how it is, though. It’s good and great to make it fairer; and the better way to do that usually is to receive the gifts you have been given and use them well. Be gracious for the gift of the person in financial want in front of you and share your blessings. Be gracious to those whose looks don’t excite you and recognize them at people going their own way. If you have advice for them, make sure they want it first and then be tactful and kind in your giving of it.
We all receive. All. Every single one of us. All the time. Everywhere. None of it is guaranteed. We may have “earned” some of what we receive. Even that is still a gift: we have the ability to do whatever it was that earned it for us.
Every minute is a gift. Every experience has good in it, even if that experience is horrendous: the good there is seeing its horrendousness, never wanting it again, doing what we can so that it doesn’t for us and others. A simple example for me of the latter is the kidney stone I had some years ago: no thank you. I’ve been run into by another car driver at excessive speeds, had a childhood bone disease, braces, divorced parents, been called a fag in school, held up at purported gunpoint, stolen from while riding the bike being stolen by a small gang, been accused of a serious crime I did not commit and went all the way to trial about it, ostracized by people I depended upon and called friends, and had many, many, many wonderful things besides happen in my life, and other things besides. All are gifts.
I do not want in any way to say that everything that happens is good or just or necessary or inevitable. It is not, not as I understand things. There are people, many, many people, multitudes, who have faced far worse circumstances, unspeakable things, than I; there are in this very day. I am NOT in the nothing matters, do whatever you want group. Actions have consequences.
But, in my limited experience, in my little life, I have found, for me, that everything is a gift. It may not be apparent at the time. Or ever in my life. But whatever has happened has helped to make me me. You are a gift to this world. You could possibly be a bigger, better one. Me too.
And the gifts keep on coming. Like not being able to get into my bank account online, except after a lot of tryin’. Like waking up an hour before my alarm and not being able to get back to sleep. Like finding one of the irritants in my left eye, a single bottom eyelash growing long and proud in the inner corner.
With audacity I said that life is a gift and all the things in it; that experiences are good and I wanted an experience-filled life. Well, I got it. I got them. All kinds of chances to throw the whole concept, idea, out.
Only I won’t. Gifts are everywhere and in everything; not always is it apparent at the time of the incident/ event/ accident what it was/ they were; sometimes the gift is not for me, directly, except as to give to another; and there are vast numbers of gifts which I will never know about or know what to do with. That last part is where trust comes in. I am going to, do my best, to trust that what is is working out for good, for the best.
I certainly cannot say what’s the good in everything all the time, I don’t have that vision/ knowledge/ power. I can say that it makes as much, more, sense to think in this way rather than everything is random and unconnected to me and my participation in the world; or that everything is bad or mostly bad and life is a struggle to survive it. A challenge, perhaps often a challenge, that I grant you.
The delay in getting to my bank account reminds me to step up my game on my finances. Waking up an hour before my alarm rang gave me time to consider questions about the dream I had this morning, extra time after ablutions to consider a new opening page for LyU, time to straighten up the place so I can return to a calm place once I go away and return. The eyelash in an inconvenient place: eyes, eyes, eye issues keep coming up in my life, including the need/ want to clean the inside of my car’s windows. A reminder to look and see.
I don’t analyze everything in my life; goodness, no, that would take too long. Keep me too much focused on me. But sometimes, often, daily, I do. Life is a live-learn-live-learn proposition (you don’t have to if you don’t want to, often), among other is things. (All is things?)
I am working/ succeeding at receiving these three gifts this morning graciously. Decently graciously. Did not cuss about them.
Isn’t that life, though? The nonstop rolling of events, tedium, excitement, interest, boredom, activity, rest. If it’s not one thing it’s another I can hear my mother say as she often did. She meant it, possibly, as unending and tiring, this life thing; and it can be seen that way/ is. If you see it that way it is that way. A friend of mine died two weeks ago I found out two days ago. He was not young, had a medical condition, was winding down, now down for good. The last few months in particular he took it as easy as he could. Did and lived less and less. Kept himself alive but also sought out no new. Perhaps he gave himself the gift he wanted most, at the end: peace.
Peace at any cost is often too high a price to pay in my book. Sometimes the gift is seeing other people’s lives and deciding that you want to do some things differently. And one, and you, and I, at least, can try. Do not try, do. Thanks, Yoda.
I’m pro-gift and I’m pro-receiving as you may have read. There is everything to be said good about approaching life like an ongoing adventure. It certainly is a mystery, parts and most of it, to me.
But even that’s a gift: to want to know more, do more, better; to know and be okay with not knowing nearly all, do what I can, recognize the good that comes out.
What are you doing with your gifts, and the gifts you receive, today.
The biggest topic yet, I do think, perhaps. I am trying not with trepidation to address it but rather gusto, joy, and hope. Because, you see, I believe money to be a good thing.
It is a good thing to have, good to spend, good to keep, good to save, good to invest, good to use, good to employ. Not so good, sometimes evil indeed, to hoard. Where we draw that line is up to each society; here in the USA, currently, the sky is the limit. Hoard hoard hoard. Hoarding is rewarded and praised socially and encouraged nationally, commercially, media-ly, politically. When upper management commits a crime it’s a business expense. When individual people steal to eat, of necessity, or to make ends meet, it’s a crime. Punishable by prison and a bad rep. Upper management (read: CEO’s, stockholders, boards, VPs) often fail up. To hoard and steal more, all for the “good,” I won’t say good, but I will say benefit of the corporation. A corporation not many doing anything but the littlest of harm though some doing great; but the cumulative harm, the desire, lust after profits, the desire endless for more NO MATTER the external effects of populations, people, or the planet and all those other organism we cohabitate on it with it.
Hoarding is not attractive. Not necessary. Wasteful. It wastes the potential of millions who are relegated to empty, rudderless lives (or at least are demoralized to the point of feeling they they have no say, no purpose).
I’d be all for oligarchical or sovereign rule except for the results of it. Which we see every day. Which grows more pernicious as the hoarding gets amplified to the hoarding power of hoarding. NO MATTER the cost to others, the now, the future. I’d be for a good him, her, or they running things, endlessly, even, if we were heading in a direction sustainable and, more importantly, good. Instead: people begging at stop lights, pushing around stolen grocery carts packed with their belongings, kicked out of here here and here with no place to go; plastic in every d-g ocean, probably most if not about all waterways; big oil ramping up more production though they’ve known since the 1970s that doing so heats up the place and brings undesired weather; a population content to eat and medicate themselves into no activity at the expense of themselves, when they could otherwise contribute to the whole instead of largely take, dancing mentally in fantasies rather than using their imagination for honest, good, personal and public gain. Add the other things that you know just ain’t right.
I’ve met a few billionaires, all in passing except for one for lunch. All perfectly pleasant, even delightful. It’s the hoarding we don’t need. They don’t either. Not good for any. The super and overly rich are right up there too. Often great at a party; smiles, handclasps, the witty word. Who is cleaning the commodes in their six houses and what are those cleaners being paid? I am not interested in “what the market will bear,” “market value,” even “above going rates.” Their cleaning your toilets means you’re free to live and make your money. They deserve a more than what’s-necessary cut.
Let me say it again: money is good. The vast majority of what it is used for is good: it let’s people who would not interact interact. It pays mortgages, and food bills, schooling, and textbooks, vacations and for clothes. Electric bills.
Money is the blood flow of civilization. Without it, that society falters; can fail. Money is required in society. Of course, some are going to have more, some less. Could we have it so all have enough? Yes. Have we yet chosen that option? Not yet.
Money allows for a relatively universal measure of value. A sometimes accurate measure, according to the society in which it is used.
But money is a value. Not the value. There are others. Sometimes money takes a second, third, or forth seat in the ranking of importance. There are those who would reduce everything to their dollar value. They are reducers. Reducers of life. Of lives, including theirs. They can choose to live that way. They do not have the right to make all the rest of us live that way. Not everything of value can be measured in dollars. And, pretty much, everything has value in its time and place.
Money is the great belief system. It’s pretty much always present. Old Money often tries to hide their money but the money is still what they want and makes them go. New Money typically likes to show itself in flash and grand expenditures. How much of New Money morphs into Old? Probably not so much. But I do not know. I’m sure someone has found or made up some stats.
Money can and does cause pressure: on those without it, those barely with enough it, those trying to make more of it, those holding it, those wanting to keep and/ or expand it. Blood travels around our body under pressure, too. We don’t want blood traveling too quickly or too slowly or under too much pressure. Money the same. Right now, in the USA, possibly in much of the Western world, there are many extremities engorged. Fingers, toes, hands, organs with too much blood.
I personally have a bit of money; I would like some more. The question for me is always what is enough. Without hesitation, I say, possibly along with you, more than I have is enough. Will be enough. Will I stop myself when I know I’ve gotten there? We can’t depend on USA society giving any direction. As things go now, it’s more more more MORE. I’m in favor of more and more, as long as the actual cost is weighed and decided on.
I attended and graduated from a not no-name undergraduate business school. This was last century, and not at the cusp of the new, but I can’t imagine things have much changed in spirit. In fact, the spirit may be more exalted by those attending and the outside world now. The goals of investment, of studying, of marketing and finance, of management information systems, of management studies, of the school, all came down to one: stockholder value. Not shareholder value, the good of all those associated with an organization’s work; not public value, not what was good for society, or humankind; not worker value, not what was beneficial for those doing the actual hands-on work. Stockholder value. Making sure that those who had invested even for just that day (on the stockmarket) made more money. They already had the money to invest; but they wanted more; and if they didn’t get more money they left. They uninvested. They abandoned their promise of support because they saw greener grasses elsewhere. Those are the people we were all to work for, towards, if we were Lucky and Worked Hard, would ourselves also become, the stockholders. So that those who had enough would have more more more.
At some point it becomes hoarding. Too much.
Smiles and parties and get-togethers; talks of vacations, cars, homes; charity work fit in, occasionally, a tithe to keep the ball rolling and looking good. People caught in a continuing cycle of feeding, making the more more more and not getting out of it because they couldn’t see. Wouldn’t see. Didn’t want to see. Felt justified. Earned everything they had by their own two hands. It’s a game. But life is a game itself, so what not play the more more more game?
As you wish. But I think life and Life are more than that game. I believe Life is the opulent game. A game that includes money, money which is good in so many, many ways; like language, like history, math, infrastructure can be used in less good ways, for the sometimes bad/ evil, too.
Money we need. It’s the hoarding that we don’t.
Sometimes, maybe more often that I realize, things work out. Yesterday I want on a cleaning and—you guessed in—a bit of an organization binge. I set a time I wanted to get it done; without looking at a clock until I had finished, I got it all done in that time. I’m enjoying the fruits of that labor now. My desk is clear except for a inviting pile of notes which I’ll look at in the next couple of days. My place is arranged so that I know what is where; I even yesterday had my hair cut.
A little organization goes a long way. An experiential organization, that is, space organized not just in ways that you think “it should be,” but reflecting how things are, how you move, operate, think, is sublime. My home is in that situation now. Crazily enough I am working with my boss on the back room today, organizing it. Organizing it experientially, as I have a particular history and knowledge of how it works, and ideas on how it might work better.
What is organization but corralling one’s thoughts in order to put things in ways that make sense to the organizer and, one hopes and plans for, the others involved as well?
Organization takes work. Work to think about it, consider what’s good to be done, mentally; and work to physically put things according to those ideas and check to see that they help your flow where put. If they don’t, try some other arranging. Sometimes the clearly better, not heretofore considered idea comes after the first try. Things, visions, ideas open up.
The same is happening in my life in general. Plans, ideas, thoughts, put to paper, as it were, typed though my keyboard and out to the cloud, over the past eight years, are coming together and out. Not in ways that I always expected. Often not. And for the good, the useful and good, I do believe.
I’m getting to the point of satisfaction with the LukeyoutheU website; I’m there with the place I live; I’m getting closer in my physical being. Yup, as you might have expected, I breathe, sleep, and eat. Exercise, new exercises, are on their way.
I had, in the apartment I lived in for fifteen years in San Francisco, a small, turn-around balcony off my bedroom. It was large enough to turn around on but not much larger. Still, a balcony in San Francisco—mine looked at the back of the homes of others, some as close as twenty feet away, and from the second floor. The view not exactly sweeping. Think Hitchcock/ Stewart’s Rear Window but less space between buildings. And no murder. Still, the balcony provided light, the chance for a breath of fresh air, and room from a bamboo tree.
A small bamboo tree. I did my research to find just the right tree according to climate zone and the space the balcony provided. Bamboo trees come in a variety of sizes and temperaments, did you know. Some are solitary even when in a group, others take over wherever they are. Some grow tall; others, less so. There was one that I read about that doesn't grow above ground at all for its first four (or was it eight) years. Then it sprouts up. That’s what I’m feeling about LukeyoutheU. That’s what I’m feeling about me.
Organization involves two processes that I have begun to love: imagining and doing. I imagine how this bookcase would look over against that wall, what I would put in it, the items I’d arrange differently, add, subtract. I imagine how it would function in my daily life: would its new placement be useful and good? Then I move it. A few problems arise that I had not foreseen; I resolve or decide not to resolve them. Opportunities arise in arranging that I had also not foreseen, and I like the new placement better than I expected. True to life experience with a bookcase recently moved. Its new location opens up the whole room.
Organization has to do with, can be applied, to more than (as far as we’re concerned consider) static things; it has to do with how people are organized too. I suppose some would compare/ reduce some organizations to the ideas of herding cats or training dogs; possibly some unorganized organizations give off those vibes or are, indeed, at about that level of cooperation. But a well-organized organization, in my perspective, is one that sets its goals and works towards them continuously. Because people and situations and the times change. This is how we’ve always done this but let’s try this if we think it will improve things.
In the organization that I’m actively participating in, parts or much of it I’ll lead, the organization in terms of arranging things and the organization of the social group we call a business, has I think a good mix. A good mix of this-is-what-we-do and let’s-try-this-to-see-if-we-can’t-do-things-better.
Here’s the thing: our lives, homes, minds, ideas, are going to be organized in some way anyway. That organization might be haphazardly; it may be by the dictates of others where we, in essence, allow them to run over and control us. Those I do not recommend. The last and I believe better organization is to consider, think, imagine, then move, act, try, adjust, oneself. We don’t control, can’t control everything in our lives, would be foolish to think we can or try; but we can control some things. We can, sometimes, control, direct, our thoughts; oftentimes, our actions. Inject the sense we can into life. I think we and life then benefit more.
Demanding I am not so much in favor of. I write that, I say that, but I demanded of myself that I squeeze the writing of today into half an hour; typically it takes an hour. But today I had, just had to, this morning, before my day job, had to adjust the spacing of the LukeyoutheU and through LukeyoutheU pages. Perhaps you know how it is sometimes: you do not the logical thing (give MOMENT the hour it usually needs) but the thing that feels most important at the time (adjust the front and second page of your website just in case anyone is looking for it just at that time. Best foot forward).
It’s a decision that cannot be logically explained and possibly few would understand. It’s not, I think, an illogical decision but rather a translogic one. One that strikes at your core, your gut, more than your head or heart. It certainly is not a sentimental decision; I am not sentimentally, not even emotionally connected to either decision (to give MOMENT the full hour or to adjust the webpages, reducing MOMENT’s time this morning). It’s a knowing of how I operate (though not fully knowing) and suspecting (believing) that I am connected to other intelligences, knowings, Intelligence, Knowing, beyond and including me.
That is a lot to dump on you, especially without further explanation; but that’s what I’m going to do. The clock demands it. I have thirteen minutes, or a bit more if (when) I stretch it.
I am not in favor of being demanding towards others; I am certainly not in favor of things being demanded of me. I am, increasingly, and successfully, I might add, in favor of being more demanding of myself.
Here’s the unpack.
I don’t like demanding things of others. I admit that it’s not because I don’t like having other jump to and do whatever I say. I admit I like that. Perhaps, in the few times I have actually demanded and the other(s) have responded, I have liked it too much. It is a power trip. A hit of adrenaline. Raw. But it never lasts, has lasted. I don’t have the energy to keep it up; others don’t have the desire or energy to keep it going. I have found, that after a very short while, the feeling/ magic/ power of demanding dissipates. And leaves generally magnetic repulsion in its place. That person, those persons and I split from one another. Typically, it seems, forever.
The reason I don’t like demanding of others is: the success is short-lived and ill-fated; it takes too much uncontrollable physic/ emotional energy from me; it destroys or at least diminishes the relationship. It is not effective or useful in the long run.
Perhaps as strongly, if these two things could be measured, I do not like to demand of others because I want them to want to do things that I think are good for their own sake, not for mine. This might be me trying to be manipulative; it quite certainly may be me being presumptuous (that I know what is “good” for them).
Equally as strongly, if three ideas can all have the same weight, I recognize, and want to honor, people, individuals, as worthy and capable. Worthy of making their own decisions; capable of making their own decisions. We are together but we all make up/ add different flavors to the pie.
So, in my general life, in my day job, with those who support me emotionally and with their friendship, with those I work with online for LyU, I try very hard not to demand. I instead suggest.
I do a lot of suggesting. I suggest you talk with customers (about a given topic) this way I possibly say five times a day. I am a designated trainer and have years of experience under my belt, am generally acknowledged to do a great job, have been rated exceeds expectations at my day job for the past four years, etc. So I’m not just suggesting out of my behind. But I am suggesting. Not demanding.
Demanding feels like a place of weakness. Look at me, I’m a tough guy weakness. Bully weakness, I think it can be understood.
Except when I do it with myself. Believe me, I give myself a ton of breaks. I let myself off the hook all the time. Well, not all the time, but often.
I saw something on a short video about stoics that talked about them having this same idea: be demanding of oneself and gentle and patient with others. I feel leeway in demanding of myself because I know my limitations. If I am sleepy, too sleepy, I go to sleep. If I am too wrapped up into things, it’s time to watch a vid, a show, a movie. Eat. I eat when I’m ravenous; but not always when I’m a little hungry. Drinking water I do pretty much all the time.
There is, at times, in the right situation, things good about pressure. A time crunch. Good things, direct and honest things, can come out.
Funny how today’s force follows yesterday’s demanding. Don’t think I consciously planned it that way; unconsciously, it would seem rather certain that I did.
Similarly to not wanting to be demanding I also don’t want to force. I like being liked; but I certainly don’t want to force anyone to like me. As if forcing someone to act like they like you is in any way a wise way to proceed. But I digress.
Force is squeezing, pushing, causing something, someone, by sheer will and effort, into fitting into a certain model, mode. To be as one expects/ wants them to be rather than the full acceptance of who they are, what it is. The application of force is a rough thing. I won’t say it’s entirely unnecessary: there are times when it is required, is the better thing to do/ way to go. Sometimes necessary to stop others from doing harm, for example, to themselves or others. I wonder if when we are doing harm to ourselves we are not also, necessarily, doing harm to others? We are not representing life the most fully lived to them, which we all need reminders and examples of. We are also not stepping into our greater potential as a person for not only ourselves but also our species.
I’m sure there are circumstances when harming ourselves is of use, is good to do. Using it as a feint to get out of illegal confinement, for example. But I imagine those circumstances rare.
In short, force, not usually good. It has the effect of forcing a key into a lock, forcing a key to turn the lock: it’ll work, often, sometimes, but does not speak to the lock’s health, effectiveness, future usability; and might end up in the breaking of the key. Then a door has to come down.
The force, well, that’s a different thing. I remember walking out in mystery and wonder after seeing the first Star Wars in the movie theater in 1977. It must have been in Maryland where we then lived; I vaguely remember the presence of my father but that would have been highly unlikely as he often was working and also rarely went to the movies. The idea of being so strong and powerful of mind as to direct/ control others, their words and actions, as Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi did to the stormtrooper guard in Mos Eisley was enticing. Enchanting, literally, from the supposed controllers point of view.
The understanding I had of The Force grew and morphed over the movies and years. The Force is supposedly everywhere, the essence of life, the life force; and it is an eternal battle between the good and evil sides of it, on a precarious fulcrum it rests. This concept, understanding, belief system, way of looking at life, certainly makes for some good movies (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Rogue One, Solo, The Last Jedi, and especially the TV series Andor) and a whole lot of less good and even some stinker movies, too. There are two undercurrents of the thinking/ the belief in The Force that I find problematic. And not, in the end, super useful. Or good.
The first is the necessary, perhaps, devine unfolding of it all. It is your destiny, it is my destiny, runs throughout the series; things are and have to be and you’re going to help them be, like it or not, as they should be. People, Jedi, are going to be what they are and do what they do. It’s life, that’s how life is. Certain people are strong with The Force and on them great responsibility lies; they will do, do great things; which side of The Force they end up on is the side they end up on.
I’m sure I’ve both oversimplified and made complicated what The Force is. I’m presenting it in the ways I hold the concept/ idea together, having seen all the major movies including Rogue One twelve times in the theater. I get the feeling from them that what happens had to be because that’s what happened.
The second is edge on which all of life is balanced, between a life of what is considered good and what is considered evil. Things, people, situations are one way or the other, good or evil. Some may switch between good and evil, evil and good (elder Skywalked only after he was dead), but there’s a decided switch. There is an evil or good, not evil and good, good and evil, if you get my meaning. Perspective is assumed established, fixed, not the changer of understanding that I believe it is.
I myself don’t think things are fixed at all. Not a single bit of it. Even while we’re sitting still we’re on a fastly rotating planet, the planted held a good-for-us distance from the sun by the sun, our solar system part of a galaxy which itself is hurtling through the universe. Even while we’re sitting still our bodies, their insides are working, moving, changing, we’re breathing, blood is coursing. Smaller than that inside of us and outside of us atoms themselves are in motion and things smaller inside of them. No, not in the deeper, wider picture. In the deeper and wider knowing everything is changing all the time.
And changing in ways that we play a part in. Let’s face it, most of us are making cameos. We’re in the movie, in the background of life, support for the main action to show that things are going on and “real.” As we become named supporting actors, if we do, after we pay our dues as most supporting actors must do, unnamed roles after countless and sometimes soul-wrenching auditions, over years, then we begin to have a bigger play in the story that is told. That others, a few others, to start, know.
Don’t get me onto talking ‘bout stories. I am taking some days off including this day off from my day job, using some vacation pay, but I have other commitments, things I want to do today, besides talk about stories, write about stories. I want to live in a story. Do. In fact, I play the starring role. Do you star in your story?
Supporting actors then, some of them, cross over into stardom proper. Where there stories, at least the stories they portray on the screens, big and/ or little, are known. But do they live, or live through?
Do I live? Or live through? How about you?
That’s where the balance that The Force presents as an unending precipice on which life sits becomes a form of tedium for me because I find it inaccurate. Wrong.
Life is not on the edge. Life will always be until the universe itself plays out billions, trillions? of years from now, if it ever does.
Human beings may not be part of life long. We’re not helping ourselves with our duration at present. The life that we know and categorize as life on this planet may perish. Will, eventually, when the sun is done; may much earlier than that, a part of which we may play. Life will still go on.
It may not take a form which we consider life at present; won’t if we are the only planet in the universe with the forms we currently have on it. But life will continue. Because Life Is.
What part we play in that Life, if we actively, passively, or indiscriminately waddle through it, is up to us. I think we can, that our part, can, increasingly, move towards, be, what we consider good. What I consider good. That’s what I’m working for.
Destiny is not to be discovered, a road laid out for us to follow, plod, or race along. Unless you have decided it is, decided unconsciously or consciously or both it is. If you have, then your destiny is to follow the road you’ve been laid out.
I have decided my destiny is what I make it. Our destiny is in large measure though not totally ours to decide and make. Decide and make. Not only think about, conjure, imagine, envision, mentally create; but actively decide by actively thinking, planning, acting, doing it out.
Part of me is glad some of these thoughts/ explanations are convoluted, said strangely and perhaps in parts obscurely, because this is nexus, apex of life stuff. Stuff that to be known has to individually be considered.
May the Force be with you. It already Is.
Today is my birthday; I turned fifty-nine. But wait—if I turned one after a full year of being alive, that means that at fifty-nine I have completed fifty-nine rotations around the sun (not by my own efforts alone, of course, many others, the effects of gravity, the existence of the sun, a habitable planet also had their roles). That means that I am in my sixtieth year. Wow! Sixty!
Every birthday has been a milestone for me, a chance for ten minutes of reflection. The ones with zeroes, and ages eighteen and twenty-one especially. At eighteen, I was a month into my first year at college, able in Virginia to legally drink beer, was just starting to develop friendships; the day passed uneventfully except quick family hellos and I felt a bit forgotten. My mother recalled my feeling bummed on my eighteenth so she made a big todo on my twenty-first, coming down to college, alerting and planning with some of my friends for a surprise. She mistakenly hired a stripper, thinking it was simply someone to bring balloons; fortunately, the performer read the room and stayed fully clothed. She did sing a somewhat seductive and slightly uncomfortable Marilyn Monroe-inspired version of Happy Birthday with its vocal intonations. Mom and I never spoke of her again. I was the chair of the Guide Service that year; the executive board, in the meeting just before the surprise, had been so slow in doing everything so to delay until my mother’s and the performer’s arrival that I had become pissed at them. That feeling turned around with the surprise.
My thirtieth I determined to do things my way. I arranged for a dinner party at a popular, high-end gay bar and restaurant in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. I didn’t pay for meals; I arranged for the reservation and seating. The food was excellent, the company fantastic. We had, I think, I hope, all of us, a good time. The cost to the guests (I would call them my guests if I had paid) was higher than expected, though. I felt bad about it. Was not in the financial shape, at least did not feel I was though now I think I should have, to pay for the meal. I recall one young couple (honey, all of us, those of us in our late twenties up to those in their forties, were all young) being perturbed by the unexpected expense but polite and cordial. We three remain friends to this day. They have not mentioned the incident to me since.
For my fortieth I again arranged what I wanted, this time on a smaller and less expensive scale. I wanted a birthday dinner with my then-partner and a very dear friend (who was also my then-long-term flatmate, he and I living in total fifteen years together). I picked out a place in the Castro, told my partner when I wanted to eat and at which table (at least which section). Unfortunately, my message was not clearly delivered (by me) or received (by him). No reservations were made; we had to wait; where we were seated was not where I wanted to sit. I was miffed. It was the one thing I asked for; it was, I thought, a modest request for a birthday wish, especially for a milestone birthday; why could not that happen as I liked? Actually, I was pissed. Pissed in the USA sense of angry, not in the English sense of drunk. Rather than let my mood boil over and ruin the evening for all three of us, I got up, excusing myself, said I needed to take a walk. I figured out when I returned that they thought I wanted some personal time to reflect on being forty; I walked up and down Market Street with near literal smoke coming out of my ears. Dammit, dammit, dammit why can’t I get what I want. It was a good example, for me, a sign, I should say, of unsettledness within me. I could have more easily rolled with the experience; I could have arranged, if I were being so particular (and I was, though my partner and friend did not realize it), the exact table myself. I am in distant and decent terms with my ex; I am in more contact but only infrequently with that dear friend. Both still live in SF. My partner and his husband live over the hill from that restaurant, currently; my friend down the block. Neither has mentioned that evening to me since it.
I am lining up list of winners here, aren’t I.
My fiftieth I lived in SoCal, in nice digs with a family in Ventura County. I knew the family from a good friend from college, the mother. I helped with the preteens, a little with the house, though the housekeeper did the lion’s share and a good deal of the cooking, the lawn maintenance taken care of by two guys. Mostly, my friend was helping me, helping me get back my feet, back into who I am, after the tumultuous, fantastic, expansive, expanding, difficult, growing unusual decade I had had in Palm Springs, Myrtle Beach, Los Angeles, and San Francisco the ten years before. A godsend the time with that family was, one I shall be forever indebted to them for.
Back to my fiftieth. My friend arranged as gifts a massage by a man and dinner with her and her husband at a local eatery. Their consideration was thoughtful and appreciated. I spent the day itself bicycling around their suburban town.
My sixtieth is a year away. I wonder what I’ll do for that.
Growing up, my mother always made a big deal about birthdays. Every year there were many gifts and much hoopla. It was great. Thanks, Mom! After that, though, they have been, except for the times I made them differently, pretty mild affairs. I like getting older. Or, at least, it’s better than the alternative. Haha.
No, really, I do like getting older. Not because of the accumulation of years, the fewer to expect ahead; not because I am always, every year, wiser, though I hope that is the general trend. I have gathered a few physical things, blips, some of them major blips, along the years; about all have workarounds or I’ve otherwise accommodated/ grown used to them. I need my sleep more than ever and seem often to not get it. Not because I can rightfully say to the young ones at my day job, back in my day blah blah blah. Because I don’t. I don’t say, maybe very infrequently do I say, how things “used to be” (at least, how I remember them).
I like getting older not because of its cost (and everything, my dear reader/ friend, every thing, has a cost, the question is are you willing to pay that cost), but because of its benefits. Those benefits generally boil down to one: experiences. Because of the experiences I’ve had.
I’ve had a lot of them. I would not trade a one. Well, maybe a few. But most, nearly all, I am happy I’ve had. Including the difficult ones. I like having had (get that I’m saying this past tense, I do not particularly want difficult experiences, I am saying I am glad for the ones I have already had) difficult experiences. They show me, and others, that I can get through things. Have had things to get through. Connect me through experience to some/ many of the difficulties others have. I can relate, in most circumstances, because I’ve been there, or somewhere similar enough.
We idolize youth, here in the USA, and probably other places in the world. Youth is great. It’s great for its time and in its place. It is not life, not the whole of life. It is part of life.
Why some people listen to the supposed new views/ perspectives/ ideas about life of the young over those who have been through, made it through some things, been around, lived a while, I’m not sure. Maybe because they do not want to take responsibility for their age.
There is responsibility in being older. With it comes the opportunity to assist those younger as well as those in one’s age bracket and the older still.
I’ve been thinking for the past few days what I’m going to post on my Facebook page, maybe in other media. “59! I’ll be dead at 100. I better get going”
I learned just yesterday of the death of the mother of a dear friend of mine, and a good friend of mine died just a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think I attract death, I hope I attract life, but death seems to find its way into my experience sometimes. I am rather sure, with one hundred percent assuredness, that I will myself die at some time too.
Death is for the living, my now long-ago deceased mother used to say. I think she is right. Another dear friend, whose estate I handled, who died two years ago now left somewhat elaborate plans for when he died. I was able to carry out most if not all that were in my direct control; others, a bit less so. I remember a few years ago asking the specifics about what he wanted me to do in a certain situation; he started to explain but stopped.
I’m going to be dead. It doesn’t matter what you do. Do what you think best he said.
It is while we are alive that we can actively make decisions. That we physically carry out plans. Not when we are barely alive, on a respirator, incapacitated. We can possibly still live in our minds in those situations. But now, for most reading this, is the time we can think and do. Be active in life, Life, and our lives.
These things I think you already know. But are you doing anything active with that awareness? I sometimes forget to. I forget to sleep, work, rest, do, engage, be present, think, work, live. Instead, in those times, and I hope them few, complain, withdraw, sulk, berate, languish.
Funny how death came after age and my birthday. I swear it was not a conscious choice. Except for the last ten days, I did not/ have not given any or great thought to the order of days.
There’s a fun song titled “Birth, School, Work, Death,” by The Godfathers, that I have among the (currently) 458 songs I have on my phone. It is so funny: the four stages of life, as understood by some/ many. Be born, study, earn money, die. It’s no that it is untrue, those four stages are likely in just about everybody’s life, but to say those are the only things that happen is rather sad. I hope, make it so that, there’s more to your life than only that. I’ve fallen into thinking that way sometimes. Usually taking a nap, sleep, helps.
Death is decidedly the big sleep. Our conscious mind, quite likely, our physical body, undeniably, not in play anymore.
Death: to be avoided though sometimes it’s the better option, sometimes it befalls us when we do not expect it, it must and will happen to us all. Start out from that fact of life and it just might help you live your life more now. It is for the living. Can remind us/ me to live life now. Is up to us individually in how we ourselves respond to it.
I am a victor, you are a victor, we are all victors in life: we have had/ are having the experience of physical life. We are physically alive, at least currently; we are all consciously alive, all of us reading these words, at least currently.
You may say Big Deal.
I tell you, you should/ already know, it is a Big Deal.
A big deal universally in the sense that we haven’t yet established widely that there is life as we define it elsewhere that we’ve been to look.
A big deal specially (that’s species-ly) because those alive now make up only about 6.5% of the human species ever born. googled source (Our World in Data is, by the way, a fantastic source of the most verifiable statistics out there.)
A big deal communicationally because you can read English or translations of it; the fact that you can read and understand is amazing, don’t you realize?
A big deal individually because you are trying and succeeding in knowing more about who you are; the gifts and abilities and skills you have; where you are in place and history; the influence you have; the things, actions, thoughts you have; how much you have (it’s a lot) to give to the world.
A big deal biologically because you are the result of one of guesstimating 500 eggs your mother produced in the life and one of guesstimating 2 trillion with a “t” your father did. You not only were created, brought into being, started with the joining of egg and sperm but you also successfully emerged from the care of your mother into the greater world and became alive.
A big deal in the world’s eyes because you breathe and live. They, others, may pretend they don’t care, may not consciously care. But because you are alive you are a participant in the world. They would be smart to care.
Others may, no, they WILL try to control you. I do not mean guide you, there will be some or plenty who try that, myself in the latter included. Some or much of the advice and direction you received may be/ probably will be good and useful to/ for you. But there will be those who try to control you for their own end mostly, not mostly for yours or the good of others or the world as a whole.
The most powerful and effective means will likely be subtle. Through propaganda outright, through social conditioning, architecture, and laws. Through physical persuasion, force. Preying on habits, desires for connection, esteem, found in voracious attainment of money, sex, power, land, homes, cars, clothes, food, gold, jewels, art, authority, buildings, cities, destruction of others, forests, deserts, oceans.
All of this is going on. To at least some extent will go.
But you are still a victor. A victor because you have had experiences and those cannot be taken from you; because you have learned things and made choices that cannot be taken from you; because you have lived at all, no matter how wretched your existence has been/ is.
You have participated in life.
As you are reading this now, I suggest that you are participating now. You are.
It’s a strength of the physiology of at least Christianity among the religions that most Christians consider themselves to have victory in Christ. I think, I suggest, that the victory is in, has been, and never having not not been now that we are alive. Alive.
You are a victor. Me too, no matter how convoluted that last paragraph is. You are a victor in life; now live like the good and wise victor you can be. That’s what I suggest. You do as you will. Of course.
I woke up from a tedious dream that was basically telling me to take care of my s*** by which I mean stuf(f). I have much to do, many decisions to make; many decisions which I am living as a result of now, some of which were spot on—and others which I think I might have differently made. But living in that past, trying to change it, as many a sci-fi movie will tell you, causes ripple effects the outcomes of which I cannot be sure.
Decisions made and acted on were made and acted on. I made them with the information I had then and in good faith. In the belief there were the better ones to be made. Okay then. Since I do not know the ultimate end to anything I do or happens to me or that others do for me, I here again have the opportunity of trust. The human species, I, have gotten this far; there is hope that there will be further yet to go.
Okay. Some reason for peace.
In the meantime, I found myself with thoughts aplenty and unable to return to sleep. Hence I am writing now, earlier than ever before. I took off some days from my day job having not done so for quite a long time. It’s been great. Today’s the last day off. Since I am not on anyone else’s schedule today, I thought: get up, and write. Here we are.
Peace is, surprising to me, a noun. I like to live in peace, to be at peace but peace is not my highest goal, life is; and peace at any price is at least sometimes too high a price to pay.
When I think of nouns, I think of things. Physical, tangible things. Things like the desk on which my computer now sits, the chair in which I now sit, the printer I am looking at. Most nouns, these general nouns called common, have utility, are things that serve some readily identifiable purpose. The ones I come in contact with all day are mostly those crafted/ fashioned/ designed/ built by humankind. I don’t get out around what is called nature these days; glad to see trees and bushes but don’t feel inclined to be standing among or scrambling through them.
“Lucidity is a noun” says the Google Oxford languages definition but I’m not sure I’m meeting that definition in my writing today. Not yet.
Word is also a noun and I get that, because a word is a thing, one of the things, words, that I use all the time in my continuing creation of the story that I tell myself is this thing called life. My goodness it is early. Perhaps my brain, more accurately put my mind, has not come back from its sojourn in the dream realm.
Proper nouns, now those I get. Combinations of letters affixed to a specific physical or mental thing. Alex, Baltimore, The Declaration of Independence, an iPhone. Except for the quirky capitalization of the latter, all set out as specific and different by a capital letter at the start.
I try to remember people’s names and do, on the whole, a fair job of it. But sometimes I have trouble remembering one. For the past bit of time, I’ve been trying to recall the last name of a short-term boyfriend I had in San Francisco. I remember his first name, his occupation, the glasses he wore, his smile, me walking alone and bummed one cloudy, cool morning from his place in the Marina to mine in Pacific Flats (not the Heights, haha). The song Anticipation by Carly Simon going through my head. After he broke up with me.
I remember proper nouns associated with that experience. His last name; well, that escapes me.
The thing I like about common nouns in general is that they can be pointed to. Agreed upon with others. Proper nouns are specific and individual; not always agreed upon or shared.
Ideas are nouns, too. Harder to point to. Like why I, my unconscious, came up with the idea of talking about nouns in the first place. I do not have an idea why.
Perhaps it is the early hour; that I have not, my mind has not fully returned into my body. Maybe my mind is still dancing in the dream world. A part of the unspoken morphic resonance that Rupert Sheldrake talks about, perhaps?
My hope is that purpose, a purpose, for this writing today comes forward. Makes itself known. It may be that on reading this through in a month this day’s writing will make more logical sense.
It very well may not.
I am okay with that. In theory, I’d like each of the hundred days of writing to be a self-contained gem. In practice, probably some will appeal more to you and other readers, and to me, than others. The thing I am trying to do is not to present perfection; or full understandability; to be fully explainable. The thing I am trying to do, succeeding if you let me, is to encourage, to get you, to think. To understand that Life Is, and any story we tell about it is real in its own way, and always a story. We are beings on a planet at the edge of the universe. Any importance we give to ourselves is self-assigned. As it should be, and is. We are godlike, minor gods, creating as we go parts of the world and certainly our understanding of it. The world made up of things physical and mental and specific and Proper.
I’m pretty sure I was thinking about updating you, the reader, when the title for this day/ page came to my mind. Updating you on things I can recall that I talked about earlier. I will try to remember as many as I can. Please remember that I have not looked back nor am looking back now, rereading what I’ve written, to see what I’ve said and promised. These are remembrances from the noggin.
I have not been to In-n-Out during these seventy-five days (assuming I’m not going today, which I’m not). I haven’t missed it much. I did a bit the first week, as the thought of stopping by and having a burger, fries, and a Coke at their location on Madison Avenue in Sacramento before going home came to me. It was something I did with some regularity, once every week or two. Usually on a Thursday or Friday, near the end of the usual-people’s work week. But I just stopped going. Went home by different routes. Not going was not a big deal.
Am I a saint, disciplined like crazy, a resistor-of-temptation? Hardly. I may not have gone to In-n-Out these past seventy-five days but I likely made up for nutritionally (that is, had equally not-great-for-me food) by going to Del Taco. To Del Taco for their number 1, two loaded crispy-shelled tacos, a medium fry, and a Coke. The last couple of times I have substituted tap water for the Coke. There is that. But I have possibly gone to Del Taco one or two more times over that period of time than I would have In-n-Out. So, not much gain there.
There is a worse, a loss, in going to the Del Taco I usually do, too: it is kitty-corner to Donut King. The King I visited about half the times I did the Del. So that was definitely a loss, nutritionally. I like chocolate-glazed donuts. Typically have two; sometimes, three. I like eating them but even more I love the idea of eating them. They taste better in my mind and memory than they do in person.
So: I have accomplished the letter of the law and not got to an In-n-Out in two and a half months. I have not replaced that not-entirely-great-food-for-me with anything more healthy. In fact, I have put myself in greater, have fallen to greater temptation with the donuts. My weight the morning of day1: 158.0 pounds (71.7kg). This morning, day75: 154.0 pounds (69.9kg). My goal is 150 with 14% body fat. Currently I’m at 15.6%. Are the numbers going to work out.
One of the reasons I decided no In-n-Out for the hundred days is the company’s current fight to hide the ecological impact of their offerings. I understand why they are not fessing up, they don’t want people to know. But facts can help guide decisions and eaters need to know. Many or most won’t care, probably. But a portion (probably I) will. Money is made on the margins: any extra guest is less expensive than the one before, less expensive in terms of percentage of overhead, advertising, and may lead to more guests if they like the offerings. This is a general rule not always (but usually) applicable. If a small number stop going because they don’t like how much eating their burgers costs the environment, that could/ will dent their profits. My take on how scales of economy work.
Are my numbers going to work out. How the scales of economy work. Both of those get to my muscle-building enterprises. I have not worked out since we started on day1. There are reasons but most (all) are excuses. I imagine I may have lost some muscle mass: wait, I’ve been weighing myself daily on a smart scale. I can find out.
Well, yes. In this case I have imagined in a way that is backed up my measurement. According to the scale (from a reputable company, Renpho) I had 125.4 pounds of muscle mass on day1, July 15th, 2023; now I have 123.4. That is eye-popping news. Two pounds of muscle down! That will not stand. I want to be going up. Gulp. I had thought maybe half a pound, a pound, and that was bad.
Time to turn that around.
I’ve already started. Yesterday night, for the first time since before the pandemic (when I decided to no longer go to the gym), I did a little weight lifting. When I say little, I mean little: twelve pound dumbbells, chest press on a flat bench, twenty reps, three sets.
Still, it felt good. And I can add more, bit by bit, until it’s a regular part of my week. (I’m not going to go to three or four times a week for a while. I will add an exercise and workout every day with lighter weights until I get my form down. Three weeks?) It’s time. I have had success with similar schemes in the past. I was motivated last night; with two pounds (!) of muscle loss in the last two and a half months I am SUPER motivated.
Boy, it’s a good thing I checked. Thanks for giving me a reason.
That’s it for the check-ins for now. It’s soon time for me to do final prep for my day job before returning home for the video call and my life job. Which includes LukeyoutheU.
There’s a fun song on my playlist “Signs,” by the The Five Man Electric Band (1970). In it, a guy rails about a businessman requiring his hair to be cut to get a job, having to wear a necktie at a restaurant, no trespassing signs trying to stop him for walking on someone else’s property, and his feeling accepted by God no matter what he, the man, wears in church. Human announcements of what/ how they expect other humans to wear/ act while in the presence of the sign maker. It’s a fun and interesting riff on being controlled, societal norms, personal liberty and I don’t give a blank.
Those are, there are, in many/ most cases signs we can point to about how things are or “should” be. They are ones we use and enjoy the use of to give us direction about what we do and be. They are what I’d call external. Considered outside of us. Typically beyond our control. Calling Chicago “Chicago” is beyond the decision of any one of us; societally we have designated that geographic place to have that name. Put signs up all over the place, refer to it without question (that and the Windy City) by common and unconscious consent. Chicago is Chicago. No one questions it, not those of whom we deem by common decree sane.
That’s not what I’m talking about here.
I am talking about here, about to talk about here, signs that we have in our own individual lives. One thing, action, that could mean nothing, does mean nothing, to others but means something to us.
They do not have objective reality. They have subjective reality. The type of reality they have does not make them any less real. Less relatable, often/ usually. But real? Real is largely a function of what we tell ourselves is true. Is.
Before and to stop me from going too philosophical so I not only can’t explain what my unconscious it going on about not only to you or to me, an example. A friend wished me on Facebook happy birthday the other day; I replied to him thank you, and I always think of you when I think about things will get better soon or words like that, referring to the song. The song, if these lyrics don’t do it for you, is titled “Ooh Child,” by Five Stairsteps (1970). You may have heard the original version or any of the many remakes. It’s a favorite song of my friend’s, maybe his most favorite song. He replied back: here’s what I’m listening to right now. He sent me a link to a video. The video was a 1980s remake of the song.
Well ain’t that the universe or the like I responded. He have me an emoticon, if I recall correctly, one smiling and laughing, back.
There are signs all around us and some possibly often seen of the universe, of life, speaking to us. That’s what I think. The universe not being simply an unknown and wide and impossibly large entity, or divine being, or something out there, separate from us, something we can only observe; but also the universe being inside and of us, we being a part of it, we being it, in many ways, from our perspectives.
As a proud plug: here it is said differently on the LyU Facebook page today https://www.facebook.com/lukeyoutheU/
And also on Spoutible (an also worthwhile social network)
We are not apart from the universe, we are of it. We are not the whole of the universe, not by a long shot (no solipsism here), but we are also of it, it.
The signs we think we see we do. The signs we believe, we be and live, we do. What we do is of what we are. We decide, mostly unconsciously but consciously also.
Now here’s a small topic: health. Ha! Without health, without our individual health, you and I have about nothing. If we are in disrepair, if we are sick, mentally or physically; when we are in disrepair, when we are sick, mentally or physically, we don’t function as well as we can. Life is, often, stinky. Our view of the world, and life, and our future, can be diminished. Fear. Worry. Can and do creep in.
That’s my experience. You may be immune to such reactions. If you are, bully for you.
As for me, I do not like being ill. It’s why I still mask. Yes, I am that oddball you sometimes see in the grocery store or the oddball you are who wears a mask to reduce my exposure to an infection which could and certainly does for a sizable number (10, 15%) have long term, drastic, life-threatening, life shortening, quality of life shortening implications.
I’ve been sick before. I’ve has pneumonia, been in a cast on my legs for six months, crutches for nine, put into a mental hospital for a month, isolated myself for the year following, had braces twice, have scoliosis, damaged my knees so that I was hobbled and in pain when using them for four months, had feverish reactions to vaccines, the orb of my left eye moved back into place and that sinus rebuilt, had food poison, more. Point to a section of my body and I can point to something that’s happened there. I just do not like to be sick. Sticking out, being the only one wearing a mask at my day job, phhht. That’s nothing. It is inconvenient to carry it around, rotate the wearing of it and replace them monthly, not have my face be fully seen, shave for apparently no reason. But being well, increasing the chances I will longer and with more health: those are worth it to me.
Everything has a cost. What is the cost, is it worth it. Yes. In this case, and others, yes.
Every thing has a cost.
I suggest you consider, as you may already do, the cost of your decisions, short, medium, and long term for your physical and mental, no, let me reorder that, your mental and physical health. Of the two, both are important. Both are essential. But of the two, I wonder if the first, one’s mental state, is not the more important. The more essential.
If your mind is off; if you fight against the flow, do not accept the flow that life/ the universe offers you, then you’re fighting upstream. Upriver. Eventually, your strength will leave you. And you’ll be caught in the river and carried with it anyway. Better, smarter, I think, to go with the flow of life. Move yourself, swim away from things, objects in the way. Keep your head above water most of the time so you can breathe the air in and know that you are wholly dependent on our physical world.
If you swim with the flow, with life, you’ll see more. Have more fun. Live longer. Continue to use your muscles. Grow in experience instead of trying or getting out of the river to stop someplace along the way to try to have things remain as they always have been. Any resting riverside is destined to be at some point ended. Life changes, you change, your body, mind, the mind, are in motion. Forever changing. Knowing this, accepting it, embracing it, is part of being in the flow.