Breaking Of Charity

We become distracted from productive labors by our perceived opponents; we become focused on them and not on our larger calling to advance our nation; our debate becomes more about scoring points against an adversary and less about advancing our common cause. – Cory Booker

My thoughts today are not overtly political, but they are the result of political activity and how it is reported. As our political divide has widened, elements of opinion, rather than news, have flooded our airways and further divided a country already attempting to deal with the fault lines separating red and blue states, rural and urban communities, and varying levels of education. Continue reading “Breaking Of Charity”

Whiteout

“There’s an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem that’s been rumbling around inside me ever since I first read it, and part of it goes: ‘Blown from the dark hill hither to my door/ Three flakes, then four/ Arrive, then many more.’ You can count the first three flakes, and the fourth. Then language fails, and you have to settle in and try to survive the blizzard” ― John Green

I’m usually up with the birds. We generally share first light and while I fumble with the coffee pot they begin an insistent chirping that’s meant to wake the sun and coax it above the horizon. When the migratory birds return, these early mornings will be marked by raucous territorial squabbles, but for now, the few that have chosen to winter here are gentle souls who warble rather than squawk. At this time of year, dawn breaks an eerie shade of blue better Continue reading “Whiteout”

Barren? Desolate? Empty?

“As one looks across the barren stretches of the pack, it is sometimes difficult to realize what teeming life exists immediately beneath its surface.” – Robert Falcon Scott

Barren is a poor word to describe the boggy base and steep trail leading up Ireland’s Mt. Errigal. Not all appreciate the winter beauty of this harsh landscape, but the practiced eye can discern shape and form in the apparent sameness of this layered gray and snow streaked terrain. The silence is near perfect here and should the mists lift, the panorama will steal your breath away. There is beauty of a special sort to be found in places like this.

“The theory of emptiness…is the deep recognition that there is a fundamental disparity between the way we perceive the world, including our own existence in it, and the way things actually are.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

arctic-circle-norway-3 Continue reading “Barren? Desolate? Empty?”

Just Do It!

“Most of life’s actions are within our reach, but decisions take willpower.” ― Robert McKee

“There is nothing in the world so difficult as that task of making up one’s mind. Who is there that has not longed that the power and privilege of selection among alternatives should be taken away from him in some important crisis of his life, and that his conduct should be arranged for him, either this way or that, by some divine power if it were possible, – by some patriarchal power in the absence of divinity, – or by chance, even, if nothing better than chance could be found to do it?”― Anthony Trollope

Decisions, decisions, decisions…..We make them everyday. Some are easy, some are not, but they all demand our attention. Deciding what to have for breakfast is simple enough but the decision to move or accept a new job can be agonizing. For most of us, decisions can be made quickly once the options have been weighed and some thought has been given to the pros and cons of each of them. We fall into the “Just Do It” camp. That famous Nike slogan has stood the test of time for 30 years or so.

Continue reading “Just Do It!”

The F-Bomb

“I’m always interested in what is seen as obscene or profane or unfit.” – Jenny Zhang

Obscenity and profanity had no meaning as such among those people. They were emotional expressions of inarticulate people with small vocabularies.” – Betty Smith

As a young man, my husband loved to be outdoors. Nothing could stop him from climbing up, over or into things that sparked his curiosity or challenged him. One of his passions was spelunking, and for a couple of summers he’d spend weekends in caves, crawling through tunnels with the weight of the world just inches above his shoulders. While cave exploration was not a passion of mine, he was, so until nascent claustrophobia surfaced, I could be found crawling behind him, elbowing my way to caverns we had not yet seen. My father, insisting that it had taken men millions of years to emerge from the caves, couldn’t understand why anyone, much less his daughter, would want to return to them. He applauded progress and believed the survival of men, as well as sharks, depended on forward motion.

I recently read that 51% of Americans believe our culture and way of life have worsened since the 1950s. Continue reading “The F-Bomb”

Platitudes

“What is all wisdom save a collection of platitudes? Take fifty of our current proverbial sayings—they are so trite, so threadbare, that we can hardly bring our lips to utter them. None the less they embody the concentrated experience of the race, and the man who orders his life according to their teaching cannot go far wrong. How easy that seems! Has any one ever done so? Never. Has any man ever attained to inner harmony by pondering the experience of others? Not since the world began! He must pass through the fire.” – Norman Douglas

I’m of the opinion that portions of our lives, certainly our manners and language, have coarsened over the past half century. If current culture could be viewed through the eyes of our ancestors, particularly those who worked so hard at gentrification, I suspect they would find current society to be crude and manner-less. In an article that appeared in Time magazine, Nick Gillespie pointed out that it’s difficult to challenge the idea that America has become far cruder Continue reading “Platitudes”

Captain Who?

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell

Remember the sea shanty “Blow the man down?” Unfortunately, the two superheroes who ran into me yesterday missed the “pick him up” portion of the old ditty. The mall is crowded on Saturday, but on rainy days it becomes a de facto playground and the likes of the two Power Rangers who took me down aren’t an unusual sight. Fortunately, I was not hurt and able to right myself, but I was, to put it politely, miffed. Apparently, the actions of today’s superheroes are so mission specific that that the mess created in the wake of their pursuit of justice doesn’t count for much.

Those who are members of the Silent Generation will remember the days before television. Unless your parents were classics professors, there were few superheroes whose deeds could be followed. Superman and Batman appeared in the post-depression era of the late 1930’s. They were created as symbols of the power of men to overcome adversity, but their adventures had limited Continue reading “Captain Who?”

Stand By Me

“You cannot save everyone. Some people are going to destroy themselves no matter how much you try to help them.” — Bryant McGill

Sometimes the ties that bind – the shared beliefs or bonds that link us to one another – put us in moral or physical jeopardy. The severing of those ties, save for occasions of imminent danger, is usually the result of harrowing self-examination. That exam does little to assuage the guilt that comes when dealing with what others may see as a “betrayal” of family, friends or colleagues. The question, however, remains. Are those who sever ties with cause actually guilty of betrayal?

The answer to that is situational. It depends on what triggered the action and how the “betrayers” see the world and their place in it. I came to ask the question while reading an innocuous story about two sisters and how they survived the war in Nazi occupied France. The one, Continue reading “Stand By Me”

KonMari….ing

To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. Let them go, with gratitude. Not only you, but your things as well, will feel clear and refreshed when you are done tidying.” ― Marie Kondo

It’s not generally known that Eve had two daughters. Her favorite was compulsively neat while the other, Continue reading “KonMari….ing”

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