melting into the recliner
“Why do I need to grow up?” asked my nephew, in one of those rare moments when youth values age.
“Why do you ask?” I replied.
“Because adults are always telling me I need to grow up,” he answered earnestly.
Feeling his inquisitive eyes staring at me, I knew a simple answer would not suffice, especially since I’ve struggled with the same question for over fifty years.
I’ve tried to grow up, built boats and houses played architect,, took my shot at saving the world as a social worker, never quite made enough money as an entrepreneur, collected a surprising array of failed relationships but did manage to win a gold medal in speed diapering. I’ve learned I’m an inept ballroom dancer, that I like to eat good cooking but don’t have the patience to create it,that the wonders of Nature are an infinite source of inspiration, that death happens, and that the true riches of my life are the friends I’ve made and worked to keep along the way.
Although I treasure time with my family and friends, I’m quite introspective and often introverted. To borrow a line from Steve McQueen, “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.: I must admit that after all the other “adult” careers I’ve tried, writing seems to suit me best. Writing is also a better fit for a blind guy than being a fly fishing guide. I’m not good at it yet, but I believe that by working at telling stories with solutions, sharing ideas that build a better world, I’ll perhaps make a positive difference with the life I’m blessed to live.
Writing is also wonderful as it gives me an acceptable adult excuse not to grow up. What else could I do where I can hang out in my imagination all day and people will just nod almost approvingly, and mutter, “don’t mind him, he’s a writer.”
The voice snapped my attention back to the young boy waiting for the definitive answer to why he should grow up. There was a long pause.
“Growing up is not all it’s made out to be,” I finally replied, “I suggest you take as long as possible before getting seriously involved with adulthood.”
“I like it!” he said laughing and walked away.
My wife tells me I should be careful of what I say to children, they might believe me. She also pushes us to get out and enjoy life, to travel, go adventuring, and drink more wine with friends.
My wife is very smart and fun to live with, My kind of adult.
I’ve been in a funk since we’ve moved to southern Mexico some weeks ago, adapting to a new culture and climate, trying to get my mind to work in a new world of heat and humidity. In the midst of this, I’ve been wondering how to move my writing process forward and concluded that in order to increase my writing authenticity I needed to increase my human consciousness. I needed to find ways to stretch my mind to greater openness.
As I probed this question, I discovered a blog post from a writer and poet I admire, Christy Bharath, who lives in southern India. Although I always find his blog, “Verse Herder,” eloquent, witty, and sumptuously detailed, this particular post jarred me. It references a documentary film, “Earthlings,” which explores human exploitation of other species. It was the door I was seeking.
This is a deep and challenging documentary, one which will provoke hidden sensibilities if allowed. It’s difficult. It’s not fun. But, for those who are willing to push themselves beyond the borders of comfort, it affords an essential understanding of the true connection between all forms of life on Planet earth.
Check it out.
I also recommend Christy’s blog, “Verse Herder” for inspiring and thought provoking accounts of his experiences with Nature.
Here’s the link to his blog “Verse Herder” .
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
Carl’s Sagan’s “Cosmos” series had a profound influence on me and, although it was created
more than twenty years ago, its ideas and explorations are still resounding in my mind. It occurs
to me that a new generation of human beings may have missed this journey into the essence of
our being and so I offer it anew, courtesy of a link on YouTube.
Yes, We are made of starstuff!
Here’s the link to part One of the Cosmos Series:
Is He/She/It Right?
Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the cat food section at the grocery store unable to decide what type of cuisine to try next for your finicky feline? So many choices, how do I know what Percival will like?
No, I don’t relate to this particular anguish. Cats are as standoffish as I am in sharing personal space. However, I do relate to the confusion of too many choices. And sometimes these choices are actually important considerations for the fate of humanity, or at least whether or not you’ll keep smiling this week. Such critical questions as:=
Bobby seems like such a nice guy, should I let his mismatched socks keep me from dating him again?”
“Jeez, Sylvia is a total blast to hang out with. I wonder if the four cell phones she’s constantly answering would keep her from being in a committed relationship?”
“I wonder if Robbie really sleeps with his St. Bernard?”
Yes, these are the moments when you really need to have your head screwed on straight so that you don’t do something stupid, like offer to bring Robbie’s St. Bernard a steak the next time you visit.
How do I know the right choice:
Don’t worry, it’s really not that complicated. All you have to do is breathe.
Stop laughing. Better yet, stop thinking.
Take a deep breath. Inhale a full load of air. Stop. Hold it. Now, slowly exhale.
Again. Inhale. Hold. Exhale slowly.
Once more. Inhale. Hold. Exhale slowly and relax.
Were you able to do this? Could you stop in the middle of your frenetic, brain frazzled day to simply breathe consciously three times?
If you couldn’t do this simple exercise, you will find it hugely difficult to answer the “How do I know?” questions. Your mind is too muddled up with things to do, to cluttered to concentrate and focus. If you weren’t able to stop and take three conscious breaths, and having a full and meaningful life is important to you, we need to do more work together. Let me know and I’ll write another blog post to help with this process. For the rest of you, glad to hear you’re still breathing. Let’s continue.
Here’s how to answer the “How do I know?” question:
Stop what you are doing, get out of traffic to a quiet space. Take three deep breaths as described above. Inhale deeply, hold, exhale slowly. Repeat twice.
Now, as you find yourself in a relaxed state, imagine a blank white wall in front of you. Perfect. Now see your hand writing on the wall in bright red letters.
What do you see?
“Fish. Percy loves fish.”
Purrrfect. Now grab that can of Salacious Sardines and head triumphantly to the check stand.
What happens if the writing on the wall says something totally unrelated to the question you wanted to answer?
You’re smart. You have to be to be reading my blog. That’s right, perhaps there is a more important question that needs to be answered first. For instance, in the case of the lady wondering about the mismatched socks guy, who saw this message in her mind after this exercise:
“”Red Jaguars are so-o-o cool!”, referring to the fact that Bobby showed up for the last date driving his brand new bright red Jag, a little toy he’d picked up after he sold his trendy software company to Google for a trillion dollars.
Pay attention folks, something out there likes you.
Yours to count on,
A wise friend of mine often reminds me of what his grandaddy said when facing tough circumstances.
“Boy, in life you’ve only got three choices in any dire situation. It’s the basic law of Nature. When facing any threat of impending doom, you can either adapt, migrate, or go extinct. Period.”
Seems like a rather simplistic pronouncement, but as I’ve studied how these words measured up against my own unending perils, I think old granddad summed it up quite well, although I’d modify his thought thus:
“In any perilous situation, man has three choices: adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.”
How might this apply to man’s’ daily encounters with the arguably most dangerous of species, women? Consider the following example:
He is sitting in front of the television, beer and chips in hand, watching the championship football game. He’s been looking forward to this all week. She marches in, stands defiantly in front of the television and blurts, “The sun’s shining and you’ve promised to cut the grass for weeks. It’s time!”
Adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.
Consider the options:
Adapt: You could negotiate, promise to cut the grass immediately after the game, never mind that it’s already 4 p.m., and darkness will engulf the yard at 6, not to mention this is a double header day. Or, you could offer to do the yard tomorrow, hoping she doesn’t remember that you’ve already promised to take the family to the Wonderland Theme Park. Yes, you can adapt by trying to negotiate. In this case you’re options are limited as this is the tactic you used the past two weeks in avoiding the task. Next-
Migrate. You could arrange for your buddy Harry to call and then tell your wife he urgently needs your help in fixing his broken hot water heater, you’ll be back as soon as possible. Of course, Harry’s hot water heater is fine, but now you and he can watch the games in the safety of his garage undisturbed by domestic trivia. The downside of this is that Your wife and his wife are also friends and it’s more than likely that they will talk and your wife will soon discover that she’s been scammed, reducing your options to the final
Or don’t be happy. Yes, it may come to this. After reviewing all your other options and their consequences, you may just have to get out and mow the yard or face the continued wrath of your wife. But, wait, perhaps there are other possibilities. Let’s go back to adapt.
Man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has been the single most important means of his survival on planet Earth. What are other ways he can adapt to this crisis? He could call Billy, the teenage kid next door, and offer him $20 to cut the yard, plus a free beer on the side. For an extra $10 he could probably get Billy to wash the wife’s car too. Now, we’re talking bonus points in the Love Game, getting out of the hole and back on top of her graces, (see previous post on The Love Game). Yes, it’s always wise to consider all options for adapting to crisis situations.
Looking for more ideas for how to survive and win the Love Game? Check out my new book, Remedies for Reluctant Romantics, 100 Ways To Sweep Love Its Feet. It’s available on Amazon.
I’m in your corner.
Nelson Mandela, One of the great men of history, certainly the most influential man of my lifetime, passed away last week. Though I only knew him through newscasts and articles, I have always felt close to this endearing man. He felt like a grandfather to me, one whose wisdom I yearned for, whose courage and convictions inspired me.
Perhaps what struck me most about Nelson Mandela was his capacity for forgiveness. After nearly thirty years in prison, times when he was often abused and certainly discouraged, He returned to his lifelong quest for democracy in South Africa even stronger in his resolve to forgive past transgressions and forge a new government based on equality.
Such was the immensity of this man’s grace that he forgave all his former captors, past abusers, everyone who had wronged him.
He forgave them, opened his heart and invited all people to join in harmony to build a new South African democracy. And through his singular vision and commitment to grace and good, his mission was realized.
I remember those years, the early 1990’s, when South Africa was a seething mass of animosity ready to explode at any moment. I watched the newscasts of riots and violence. I thought a bloody civil war was inevitable. But Nelson Mandela did not, and ultimately his calm and reasoned approach led to South African democracy.
His leadership prevailed. Good and grace triumphed.
I shall do my best to remember Nelson Mandela and his inspiring example of the powers of love and forgiveness.
A link to a poem read by Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in the movie Invictus,