A Preview to Mortality

It has been just a little over a week since I was numbed by the unexpected news.  One of my business acquaintances had passed away after a brief illness.  The news came across my email, courtesy of one of his colleagues.  Attached was a copy of the obituary and the email contained a brief advisory.

I leaned back in my office chair and closed my eyes for a moment.  We had exchanged perhaps a dozen emails in the past month.  We had spoken jokingly on the phone no more than a handful of times.  A few weeks ago he had been visiting in our corporate conference room; full of life and enthusiastically discussing how our two companies could partner for success.

A strange sensation of deep sorrow overcame me.  I had hardly gotten to know this person, and yet the news of his death was taking a sorrowful grip over my mind, body, and soul.  Taking a deep breath, I opened my eyes and returned to the email.  The obituary spoke of the many things he had done for the community and how close he was to his family and friends.  Then I read a sentence that is still etched in my mind.  He had passed away at the age of fifty-eight; a mere three years older than me!  That was entirely too young to be meeting your maker!

I am in tune with the world around me and would like to believe that “any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved with mankind.”  But considering that this person was no more than an acquaintance, the level of sadness overwhelming me did not make sense in the least.  Was it because he had been so vibrant and full of life when he sat across the conference room table from me?  Was it the fact that we were so close in age?  Was it the knowledge that any one of us can pass on at any time?

Sitting on the couch, fingers flying across the keyboard; the reason for my mourning has become evident.  I am not saddened by his mortality so much as I am saddened by my own.  It will never cease to amaze me just how my writing always has a therapeutic effect on me.  It appears that my words are my own best therapist.  As long as I have quoted John Donne once in this essay, a second quote seems appropriate.  “Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  Right now the peal of that bell is deafening to both my ears and my spirit.

My now deceased acquaintance left behind an unintended gift for me.  He managed to open my eyes, my mind, and my soul to the importance of our time on this earth.  He reminded me that we are charged with an awe-filled responsibility; to live every moment of our lives to the fullest, to share of ourselves with others, and to live a life well-lived!

I have not written a blog for entirely too long.  I purposely refused to go to my site before writing this post.  To be honest, I was afraid that I would be demotivated to write tonight if I consciously knew how long it has last been since I blogged.  It may seem ridiculous, but I almost feel guilt over my literary leave of absence.  Come to think of it, I have not worked out in over a year too!  Too many of the joys in my life have slipped through my fingers!

There are activities in my life that bring me sheer joy.  Sitting in front of a blank screen, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, wrestling to craft words that will express my feelings; it is an exhilarating sense of creativity waiting to be unleashed!  The thought of my simple words and thoughts touching another human being, inspiring them to greater things; it gives me a true sense of accomplishment and fulfillment at the very deepest levels.

Working out on my Bow Flex, feeling my muscles straining against unrelenting resistance; it is a feeling that I have been hooked on since my mid-teens.  Bodybuilding has been my asylum over the years; a place for introspection, a source of self-actualization, an escape from the harsh realities of the world, and ultimately my safe place.  I have managed to return to writing tonight; I sense it is time to return to my workouts tomorrow night.

I still feel a twinge of sorrow over the earthly departure of my business acquaintance.  I feel badly for his family and colleagues; understanding their sense of loss.  Yet I am quickly feeling joy as a result of this event.  I will miss him, but he left me a precious gift.  He shared a preview of mortality with me; which I have been able to share with all of you.  For that, he will have my eternal gratitude.

Posted in Blessings, Human Experience, Humanity, Inspirational, Motivational, Self Actualization, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Living Off of Scraps

As is the custom on weekends; my faithful hound Xena and I go for a long walk in the park.  Given the leisurely pace of the day, we always manage to top off our brisk exercise session with a car ride.  I enjoy having the chance to cool off and clear my head for the day.  Xena, in turn, enjoys nothing more than hanging her head out the open window and letting the wind blow her ears back.

Today was a special day for Xena, in that we came across a small herd of deer in the neighborhood.  I slowed the car down to assure none of the does was going to bolt across the street.  This gave Xena an opportunity to sniff wildly out the window and take in the majesty of the deer.  It did not take long for Xena to begin baying at her wildlife friends.  There is never anything aggressive about Xena’s howls and yelps.  I am convinced that she is inviting her fellow animal kingdom friends to play with her.

It never fails; the deer take notice of my vociferous canine for a moment.  Then they return to their idle grazing in some neighbor’s front yard.  Xena settles down, I pull away from the curb, and the deer give Xena one last parting stare.  We have repeated the scenario enough times that you would thing dog and deer would both become bored with the script.  But it never ceases to amaze me just how much happier Xena is the rest of the day!

As I began to drive back towards the house; my mind drifted back to the collection of deer we had just visited.  I tried to envision what life would be like if I had to subsist off scraps left behind by others.  What would my day be like if the majority of time was spent grazing?  Stopping at a red traffic light, I glanced at one of the buildings on the corner.  The sign overhead proudly proclaimed that this was my headquarters for all scrap booking needs!  It appeared that the word “scrap” was going to have a major presence in my life this day.

I have always wondered just what the fascination is when it comes to scrap booking.  Sitting around on a lazy afternoon, cutting up photos and applying sticker to a blank page of cardstock are not my idea of fun.  Just how many pieces of colored construction paper can you turn into cute shapes without losing interest?  Still, given the number of stores in town that cater to scrap bookers; there must be something to the pastime, besides giving spinsters something to occupy their time!

Having a need to derive the deeper meaning out of everything that crosses my path in life; I zeroed in on the entire concept of scrap booking.  What would possess an otherwise vitality-filled human being to sit at the kitchen table and mindlessly paste doo-dads into a photo album?  Then it struck me!  I needed to look beyond the mechanics of this odd hobby and delve into the motivation driving the participants.

“What is the purpose of scrap booking?” I asked myself as Xena snored at my feet.  Obviously there is a need to preserve memories.  The objects that represent the past are then embellished with stickers, glitter, bright papers, and annotations handwritten in the margins.  Great care is taken to assure that every page is just perfect.  “Is the memory being polished for the sake of the person creating the scrap book, or is it for sharing in the best possible light?”  I sighed deeply when it became apparent that the answer to my question was a simple “both!”

I hate to admit it, but scrap booking began to look a little less like a waste of perfectly good time.  Perhaps this was a purpose-driven pastime after all.  I imagined that the spinsters I had previously mocked in my mind were actually all sitting around a table together.  They were sharing their individual memories, weaving a beautiful tapestry that depicts a collective human experience.  Along the way, a legacy was being preserved for generations to come.

Decades from now, “How many family members would sit around the room, cherishing the loving handiwork created by their ancestor?”  We all have familial relics that are passed down from generation to generation.  It might be a bible or a piece of jewelry or a needlepoint sampler; but it becomes a connection to another place and time in the past.  These trinkets give us a sense of identity and help us gain a feeling of belonging to something bigger.  The bequeathed objects ground us, define us, and make us feel just a little bit less isolated in a world that can be all too cold.  Why should a scrap book be excluded from this pedigree of family treasures?

We all fall victim to little episodes in life that transform who we are and how we see the world.  As for me, please pass the green lace and the tub of paste.  It appears I have a lifetime of memories to preserve and share with the world!

Posted in Blessings, dogs, Human Experience, Humanity, Humor, Inspirational, Motivational, Nostalgia, Pets, Self Actualization, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Life Defined by Dishpan Hands

This evening found me at the kitchen sink, hand washing a frying pan that has been used to prepare a simple yet satisfying dinner.  I have never cared for putting frying pans in the dishwasher; feeling that they hasten the untimely demise of the Teflon coating.  Come to think of it, I have never really been that fond of dishwashers in general.

At the risk of sounding like a Palmolive commercial right out of the 1960’s, there is a certain satisfaction that comes out of washing dishes by hand.  Yes, one would leap to the conclusion that I have checked in my rugged masculinity in favor of a scrub sponge!  At this juncture, I will enthusiastically point out that Navy Seals hand wash their mess kits right before rushing into harm’s way!

My mother has pictures of me at two years of age, perched precariously on a kitchen chair, joyfully washing dishes at the sink.  Much like the annual school class pictures; there are pictures of me at the sink pretty much every year of my life, from toddler to late teen.  It is like I came of age with a pot scrubber firmly clasped in my wrinkled hands.

Memories rushing through my head tonight; I pondered what it was about washing dishes that was so important in my life.  I can rule out an aversion to dishwashing machines, given that I was in my early teens before my parents purchased one.  My parents asked that we contribute to the household in the form of chores, but dishwashing was never mandated.  I am not Mysophobic (possessing a pathological fear of contamination and germs), so the benefits of antibacterial liquid dish soap fall short with me!

As I rinsed the frying pan, a familiar feeling overcame me.  Suddenly I was filled with a warm sense of accomplishment.  There had been a task at hand, I had gladly undertaken it with pure enthusiasm, I successfully saw the project through to completion, and now I could relax on the couch.  It amazed me that such a simple act could bring so much satisfaction to me.

Washing dishes has always allowed my mind to drift with no limits.  Often times a mundane act of repetition makes us lose our focus.  Automated actions, replicated over years, do not require much in the way of mental acuity.  As the hands labor, the mind is liberated!  I have reminisced about wondrous events from the past, properly trimmed in nostalgia; all the very while rinsing out drinking glasses.  I have mentally visited faraway lands and met exotic peoples; my journeys rooted in scrubbing dried and heavily caked tomato sauce out of a pan.

Each of us has a human need to contribute and be valued by those around us.  Washing dishes is not one of the more glamorous domestic duties.  It is rare to see several relatives arguing over who is going to wash the Thanksgiving dishes!  Immersing your hands into water filled with grease and food refuse is not something terribly appealing.  The individual who volunteers to do the dishes is in fact throwing themselves on a hand grenade, sacrificing themselves for the common good of all around them!

Watching the used dish water spinning down the drain in a tight vortex; the significance of what had just happened become a pleasant realization.  Hand washing the dishes is truly a microcosm of the totality of our lives!  We are driven by need for a sense of accomplishment.  We take shelter in the comfort of warm past memories, using them as a foundation for our hopes and aspirations.  We are at our best when we take a break from the doldrums of the everyday world and dare to dream!  To know that we are valued by friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers is elixir for the soul.  All of this transpires each time we stand at the kitchen sink, staring down at a pile of dishes in the soapy water!

Washing dishes at the sink has never been work to me; rather, it has been a joy!  It took me fifty-three years to finally arrive at the reasons I enjoy the scrubbing and rinsing so very much!  Unbeknownst to me, I have been living my life to the fullest, all the very while situated in a common kitchen.  I consider myself fortunate to have experienced this transformative journey with a Brillo pad in hand.  I may not have known why the quest made me feel good, but I undertook it anyway!  I actually look forward to next time I have to hand wash a dish or a pot.

We all have dirty dishes in our lives, waiting for us to clean them.  I will gladly wash, if you will rinse!

Posted in Blessings, Human Experience, Humanity, Humor, Inspirational, Motivational, Nostalgia, Self Actualization, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Because You Are

As a writer, I count on outside experiences, chance encounters, and unusual events to draw inspiration for my works.  Whether it is a blog, an essay, or even a book; my imagination always plays second fiddle to the real world around me.  I am blessed in that I have unusual powers of observation.  Granted, I am no Sherlock Holmes; but it is rare when something escapes my attention.

Once an event or encounter has made an impression upon me; the neurons fire up, the muse whispers in my ear, imagination runs rampant across the blank canvas, and before I know it the work is complete.  I do indeed lead a blessed life and I express my gratitude through the keyboard.

When I post a blog or publish a book; the very thought that I might touch the life of an individual I have never even met is perhaps the sweetest of all rewards.  Sure, a five-book, multimillion dollar publishing deal would not hurt my feelings; but it is the knowledge of a long distance human connection that keeps bringing me back to the art of the written word!

We are all the totality of our collective experience.  Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even strangers all have a hand in shaping who we are.  That wonderful fact holds true for me as well.  I am fortunate to have a large circle of personal relationships that support me in every way.  Add to that the 3,700+ people who are connected to me via Linked In, and I am surrounded by a wealth of human experience.  It is truly a rare day when I do not reach out to, or am contacted by, at least a dozen of my online connections.

Humanity inspires me, not unlike John Donne in Mediation XVII.  I am indeed a part of the main, and any man’s death diminishes me!  Observing the human condition, interacting with people constantly, and anticipating how my words will touch other souls; people in general  form the foundation for all of my literary endeavors!

People are often surprised at my view towards humanity, which I share freely.  It does not matter to me who you were.  I could care less what you might have been.  It is of little consequence who you may be some day.  Now for the real surprise, it even counts for naught who you are today.  What does matter to me is simply that you are!

“That you are” merits a definition from this humble scribe.  You are a being grounded in the light of beauty.  I see it in your eyes, I hear it in your voice, and I sense it in your touch.  You have been blessed with countless gifts, and I bear witness to your benevolence and kindness daily.  You hold infinite potential to better our world.  I gaze in wonder at the selfless and loving acts that you share with us every single day!

I am by no means a middle-aged male Pollyanna!   Fooling myself is not a habit I have just recently acquired.  I am all too aware of just how ugly, cruel, and sadistic we can be as a species.  I have shed a tear and uttered a curse under my breath upon learning of our inhumanity to one another!  But that is not who we are; rather, that is how we choose to act.  There is a difference, dear reader!

Oftentimes, I ask myself why I feel compelled to write.  It is a bittersweet curse; struggling with those times when inspiration is elusive and delighting when an essay simply writes itself.  I must confess that there are times when my very own words surprise me!  The reason fades away when I inevitably arrive at the conclusion that is simply a matter of joy!  There is no better motivator than that sense of completeness and connection that overwhelms the mind, body, and spirit when joy consumes you!

Do I write because of who you were?  Do I write because of who you are?  Do I write because of who you will be someday?  I write simply because you are!  For a brief sliver in time, you and I will connect in a precious shared moment.  It is something nobody else can claim.  It is event that will last throughout eternity.  We will share the beauty of the human experience.  For that, I will always be grateful.

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The Old, Faded Blue Mailbox

As my regular readers know all too well by now; every morning begins with a brisk walk in the pleasant company of Xena, my Catahoula-Plott Hound mix.  During the weekdays, the excursion is abbreviated; much to Xena’s disdain, I still work for a living.  That means rushing back home, showering, tossing on business attire, packing a lunch, and making my daily one-way 60-mile commute.  Regardless of my canine soul-sister’s strong feelings; it keeps her well stocked in kibble and treats!

On the weekends, we are able to get a later start on our trot and the duration of our journey is always longer and at a more leisurely pace.  There is a nearby park, of massive size, where Saturday and Sunday mornings are spent in pursuit of doggie treasures buried under the grass.  I try not to think of all the things that my four-legged vacuum cleaner has consumed over the years.  Most of the time I can pull her away before she ingests Lord-knows-what; but then again, she has the quickest mouth in Colorado!

Last weekend we were enjoying unusually warm autumn weather for our part of the country.  The sun was palely shining down upon us and there was a cool breeze coming in from the northwest.  It was one of those days where a well-worn sweatshirt was in order as the uniform of the day.  Xena scampered across the crisp red leaves littering the walking path, as crisp crunching sound coming out from under her massive paws; and I reminisced of days when I threw myself at piles of leaves with wild abandon.

My loyal hound was sniffing away at a patch of weeds in an undeveloped lot.  She seemed to be catching up on the latest messages left behind by her fellow dogs.  I snickered as the thought of her receiving “pee-mail” from all of the other canines that had passed through this otherwise empty field.  As Xena went about her business, including leaving behind her own responses to messages; an object appearing in the corner of my eye caught my attention.

Standing off in the distance, the only landmark in an otherwise flavorless setting was a mail box.  The area that my geriatric puppy and I had been exploring was a business park.  At best, a third of the campus had actually been developed.  That meant there were large empty parcels of land intermixed among a number of small professional buildings.  It seemed unlikely that the mailbox saw much in the way of use from the tenants in the development.

The wind had picked up to a steady gust and Xena was being lured by new scents blowing towards her always active nostrils.  She began to eagerly lead me in the direction of the postal container.  As my hound rummaged around in the weeds, I seized the opportunity for a closer inspection of the metal relic.  There were still collection times listed on a small placard on the front of the mail box; so it was still obviously in some kind of use.

As I took in additional detail, I realized that the four legs of the box were slightly twisted and heavily rusted.  It was a wonder that the container was still perched upon its concrete slab.  Then again, the stone foundation was cracked and beginning to wear away.  This postal relic had definitely seen its fair share heavy use over the years.  The paint was still intact, but had faded over the years from a deep navy hue to a pale powder blue.  The elements had certainly had their way with the mailbox.  On one side of the heavily weathered container I was able to make out the year of manufacture as 1968.  Knowing that the area I was standing in had been developed in the late 1980s; I concluded that this steel monolith was a transplant from a previous location!

As Xena tugged me in the direction of a small creek on the horizon; I kept looking back over my shoulder at the mailbox.  I wondered where its previous domicile had been.  More importantly, I guessed in futility as to where it had been situated earlier in its long life.  This inanimate civil servant had been answering the call of duty for 45 years.  If only the cold metal could utter words!  I longed to know its history, its stories, and the progression of time that it had borne witness to.

For a moment, I pictured a Currier and Ives setting.  The snow was gently falling, the streets were alive with holiday shoppers, and a heavily bundled little girl was clutching an envelope in her tiny mitten-covered hand.  It was a letter to Santa Claus, carefully written in her very best cursive, declaring the gifts that her heart desired this yuletide season!  Arriving at the mailbox that towered over her, she turned a sparkling eye towards her father.  He lovingly lifted her up to the deposit door on the mailbox and watched with joy as she dropped the letter into the cold dark space below.

What of the ambitious young businessman about to secure that big contract?  He walked up to that very same mailbox a few years later with a large manila envelope in hand.  Resting snugly inside was a contract for his latest customer.  As he dropped the parcel into the trusted mailbox, his mind raced.  He prayed that when the recipient opened the envelope they would accept his offer.  His commission on the deal would finally allow his growing family to leave their tiny downtown apartment!  He smiled as he pictured his two toddlers playing in a suburban lawn, his wife cooking dinner in a spacious kitchen, and his new dog dancing around his feet.

The mailbox had dwindled to a speck as my canine companion continued to lead me on her excursion.  In a final glance over my shoulder, I pictured the letters dropped off to faraway grandparents, servicemen stationed overseas, and even family on the other side of town.  There was a time when the handwritten letter served as our most effective way of communicating.

We would await the mail delivery, separate the junk mail from the bills, and hope there was a personal letter in the pile.  Many of us would study the postage stamp, itself a piece of art, take notice of the sender’s address, and gladly suffer a paper cut as we opened the envelope.  Then we would drop into an easy chair and take in the latest events in our loved one’s lives!

Today we live in an age of the email, text message, and social media.  We can all share news instantaneously with people we hardly know.  There are websites where a form can be filled out, to be read later by a virtual Santa.  We truly have advanced as a species; at least in technological prowess.  As I think of the old pale blue mailbox; I have to wonder if we have taken a step back in our humanity!

Posted in Blessings, dogs, Human Experience, Humor, Inspirational, Motivational, Nature, Nostalgia, Pets, Self Actualization, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well Worth the Wait

This afternoon proved to be one of those times that try a person’s soul.  My wife underwent her third surgery in the space of five weeks.  Now granted, this was a procedure that is performed thousands of time a day around the world.  But there is no such thing as “routine” when a loved one is going under the knife, as it were!

I have gotten to know the surgical waiting room at the hospital entirely too well.  As my wife checked in for her surgery, I stood firmly behind her; giving her the confident support that I knew she craved so badly from me.  Yes, I was the Rock of Gibraltar for all of those around me.  Inside, I was a bowl of quivering Jello; diced fruit pieces included!

My spouse was taken back to the pre-surgical prep area and I was asked to remain in the waiting room.  I knew that it would not be long until they called me back into the pre-op ward, so I buried myself in a travel magazine.  It suddenly struck me that I had never been to the Maldive Islands.  The allure of the tropical huts silhouetted against the setting sun out on the ocean was overwhelming.  Healthcare issues had been weighing on our marriage heavily of late; it was time to start planning the post-retirement bucket list of places for the two of us to visit together.

After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally called back to join my wife.  The timing was impeccable; I had spent the past half hour on a whirlwind tour of the tropics, Scotland, Spain, and South Africa.  For a moment, I was sure my magazine skimming had led to jet lag; all from the discomfort of a waiting room chair!

It did not take long for the surgical team to finish its preparatory work.  We met with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, final questions were asked, and reassurances were made.  With that, my bride was whisked away down a stark corridor and through a pair of automatic doors.  Feeling my heart dropping and my stomach rumbling, I decided to run down to the cafeteria for some quick sustenance.

It was already late afternoon, so I managed to hit the cafeteria between the lunch and dinner services.  That left a narrow array of prepackaged food to choose from.  I grabbed a grilled chicken salad and a stale piece of pizza.  Taking my new-found gastronomical feast to-go; I hurried back to the waiting room and found a nicely uncomfortable couch to sit on.  Between bites of salad and pizza, my mind reeled.

I was trying to stave off any negative thoughts about what my darling was going through at the moment.  I began to casually observe the small crowd seated all around the cavernous waiting room.  People watching has always served me well as a distraction; all the way from airport gate areas to standing in line at the motor vehicle bureau.

The spectrum of people in the room spanned the gamut.  There were the elderly spouses sitting by themselves; veterans of having to sit and wait as their loved ones underwent a number of procedures.  Young families were gathered, children trying to sit and behave, as one of their loved ones experienced an unexpected surgical intervention.  Then there were the small groups of friends sitting quietly, lost in reflection on happier memories.

Emotion also ranged the entire experience of human sensitivity.  Some sat stoically, surely in quiet meditation with their higher power.  Others nervously thumbed through magazines, all in a vain attempt to anesthetize their feelings.  Occasionally, my eyes would lock in on a poor soul trying their best to hold back a flood of tears.  The remainder of the half-dozen or so people found themselves somewhere in between the mental and emotional states of their peers scattered across the room.

As one would expect, the moment an operation was completed, the surgeon would come out, locate the patient’s family and friends, and brief them on the outcome of the procedure.  The pleasant part of this ritual is that rarely will bad news be shared.  That is reserved for the “consult rooms” lining one wall of the waiting room periphery.  Mercifully, none of those rooms was utilized during my wait.

While we all waited, there was that rare moment when I was able to lock stares with another person.  We would share a temporary moment of common fear and insecurity; then somehow, no words spoken, we were able to gift each other a piece of reassurance.  Whenever a surgeon would come into the room, all of us would watch as they sat down next to the family or friends.  We sat on the edge of our uncomfortable seats anticipating the reaction of the group.  The moment that we spotted a smile or positive reaction; there was a sense of mass relief among all of us!

It then struck me that I was witnessing humanity at its finest.  All of us in that room had never expected to be there.  In fact, many of us were still cursing the fact that we had been condemned to this medical purgatory!  We all shared one common challenge; we had a loved one with a medical condition serious enough to require surgery.  And now, all of us sat in a salon together, each of us feeling the epitome of helplessness.

At the same time, adversity had forged kinship between us.  Knowing first-hand what each other was feeling; there was a sense of shared burden.  That in turn formed the foundation for us to support one another.  No words were spoken between us; instead simple smiles or looks of mutual empathy served the purpose.  We were holding one another without arms, we were wiping away each other’s tears with no hands, and we were buttressing one another with no words.  It was genuinely awe-inspiring to be sharing in this display of humanity at its finest!  Hours earlier, we had been strangers; now we were brothers and sisters, linked at the highest of spiritual levels.

I have wondered over the past 24 hours why we cannot extend this experience to every situation involving two or more people.  The answer still eludes me; and it may very well continue to do so for the rest of my life.  The only thing I do know with any certainty is that I long to be back in that waiting room.  Even if I never have to support my wife through another surgery; I would consider it a privilege to be back in that uncomfortable waiting room chair!

Posted in Blessings, Healthcare, Human Experience, Inspirational, Motivational, Self Actualization, Self-Realization, Spirituality, Technology, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Really, Truly, Genuinely Feels Like

As I was getting ready to take my loyal Catahoula-Plotthound out for her evening constitutional; I was debating just how many layers of clothing to don.  Winter has descended upon Colorado Springs and the nights have become quite frosty.

My mind wandered as I selected a sweatshirt to be worn under a winter jacket.  So, if I went back into time to prevent the murder of a distant relative, and then that relative was in a fatal car accident with my father; would that mean that I would not be here?  If I did not go back in time; then my father would not die and I would be here.  So surely, I did not go back into time; or did I?  My head was hurting and the consequences of time travel and event tampering are the topic of another blog for yet another day!

Going down the steps, something possessed me into checking the weather on my smart phone.  With a few quick taps, I was informed that the temperature was 33 degrees and the “Feel-Like Temperature” was 22 degrees.  Definitely a reason to put coats on both my canine companion Xena and myself!

Seeing our breath clouding in front of us; Xena and I made quick work of our early morning walk.  My mind wandered the way it always does.  In the olden days, we paid attention to the temperature when it came to making plans.  Then some meteorologist decided that the wind played into the relative temperature we experienced.  Now, some rocket scientist decided that humidity had to also play into the relative temperature; therefore, the christening of “Feel-Like-Temperature!”

Wiping the frost off both my mustache, as well as Xena’s lady-dog mustache; I let her into the car and jumped into the front seat.  By the way, please ignore the last comment about Xena’s lady mustache; she can get a little touchy about it all!  Feeling the warmth of the heater wrapping its arms around me; my mind reeled anew.

Why stop at altering the thermometer-based temperature by just factoring in wind speed and humidity?  If we added in barometric pressure, then we could have a “Truly-Feels-Like-Temperature.”  Then we could really muck up the works by applying the ozone percentage at the moment.  Voila! We would not have a “Genuinely-Feels-Like-Temperature!”  Let’s not even think about latitude, elevation, and moon phase as factors to complicate temperature even further!

It would appear that we are not happy as a species unless we can find ways to make things more complex.  We also relish the need for more instantaneous information readily available at our fingertips.  Let’s look at the fine art of writing; a topic near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons!

We began by applying sharp instrument to stone.  That was then refined by parchment and quill.  Soon we had entire offices filled with secretaries hammering away at typewriters!  If that were not efficient enough; we quickly evolved to electric typewriters which soon yielded to word processors.  I was relatively certain that it would all end with the personal computer, but I now eat my words in the face of laptops, notebooks, pads, and smartphones!  Even if we went back to my comfort zone of paper; we evolved from daisy wheel to dot matrix to line printer to ink jet to laser jet printers!

Even the way that we share the “written” word has evolved; cowering to efficiency and timeliness!  Notes, hand carried by messengers, were replaced by letters and the mail system.  We decided that we needed additional speed so we brought in the fax machine and overnight couriers.  Ever seeking faster and better, we innovated email and the concept of an attachment.   I suspect it will not be long before I can telepathically send each of you my latest blog post too!

The way that we communicate, the tools we use, and the delivery vehicles; they have all been complicated to a point beyond reason.  I have to say that I miss handwriting a note and getting a paper cut on my tongue from licking an envelope.  I yearn for the day when I could go to the post office, buy a stamp, and drop my correspondence into a slot labeled “Out of Town Mail.”  Not to worry, the next sentence of this essay will not begin with “when I was your age!”

The complexity to be found in all aspects of our lives transcends reason.  We are not happy unless we can invoke additional precision, technology, efficiency, and speed to everything we do.  It is little wonder that we have spawned a generation that has no sense of patience. It should not surprise us that people camp out in line for the latest version of a smart phone!  If things are more complex; somehow, some way, they must be better!

There are a few of us left who enjoy running contrary to the rest of society.  Case in point; tomorrow I will take Xena for another walk.  I will not turn to my smartphone to give me the “Really-Truly-Genuinely-Feels-Like-Temperature.  My faithful hound and I will step out onto the deck.  We will decide if it is cold, cool, warm, or hot.  We will then dress accordingly.  It truly is that simple!

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