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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Worms

Sorrow is to the soul what the worm is to wood.
~ Turkish Proverb
- - - - -

I tend to do things ahead of time - if they are things I don't want to do.  I like to get them out of the way.  I like to not have to worry about them.  I like to get them done so I can do fun things I enjoy doing without the other things lingering over my head.

I know it is often said that the early bird gets the worm.  That's not why I do things early, though.  I am rather indifferent to worms.  However, I don't think it's just the early bird that gets the worm.  In fact, when I was walking across campus in the rain after my class the other night, I can assure you that some latenight birds could have gotten a LOT of worms, too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dirt

Gold's father is dirt, yet it regards itself as noble.
~ Yiddish Proverb
- - - - -

It is amazing how quickly time passes.  The earth keeps spinning.  Children grow up, adults grow old.  There is no stopping it, I don't think.  

I think it is about the 25th anniversary of "Field of Dreams."  I have been to the field and seen the house and ground and the dirt diamond.  I got a hit there - a double, I think - off an 8 year old pitcher.  

So "Field of Dreams" is 25.  I am more than 25.  I suppose that means that I am older than dirt.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Accidents

On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.
~ Epictetus
- - - - -

If you fall off your bike, just get back on and keep going.  

Of course if, during the fall, your bike is broken, then you have to drag it home and fix it and get right back on and keep going.  Of course by then you're probably tired and it might be dark out, so maybe you should just take a nap.

Maybe you could take a nap instead of biking to begin with so you don't fall off.

Of course, you could roll out of bed.  In which case, why are you so clumsy at everything you do?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Happiness




Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn't calculate his happiness.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- - - - -

This quote is incredibly accurate.  We focus on the negative.  We are drawn to tragedy and disaster and sadness.  That is what runs our news.  Out entertainment.  That is messed up.

And we definitely do this to ourselves.  List what is wrong.  What remains undone.  Focus on the gaps instead of the accomplishments.  

Is it because we are negative beings?  Is it because we thrive on stress and pressure and unhappiness?  Do we love the tragedies of life more than the victories?

No.  I think it's just because we don't have time to count all our joy and our happiness and our fortunate circumstances.  

That said, we probably ought to count what is good more often.  And if it's too difficult to count on your own, get a child to help.  They are better at that than we are.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Play


You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
~ Plato
- - - - -

I have probably used the above quote before.  I really like it.  I agree with it.  I have seen it in action.  

This afternoon I was in the back yard doing a few things I heard a herd of kids next door playing.  They were playing tag.  When one girl caught one of the boys he screamed, "I want my lawyer!"  Then another kid stepped in and said, "Okay people.  Break it up.  Break it up."

(pause)

Then I wasn't really sure what they were playing.  Or what their lived experiences were.  Maybe the game had nothing to do with their real lives, but don't we often use play as a mirror for the lives we have lived?  

Isn't that where the game of Life came from?  From experiences getting degrees and having relationships and buying insurance?  Or the game of Trouble or Sorry where we learn about the repercussions of our choices?  Or Gnip Gnop where we explore the experiences of dyslexic ping pong players?  Or Clue where we seek to solve the murder mysteries from our pasts.  Or Checkers where we learn that the way to get to be the leader and have power is to jump people and eliminate them?

(pause)

Wait.  I think maybe some of the messages from our games are problematic.  Maybe "I want to call my lawyer" isn't any more troubling than "Ring Around the Rosey" which celebrated the bubonic plague or Monopoly which celebrates greed.

Thankfully we still have our sports to celebrate human excellence and clean competition.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Practice

I have just three things to teach: patience, simplicity, compassion.  These three are your greatest treasures.
~ Lao Tzu
- - - - -

What is interesting is that if you practice patience, simplicity and compassion, you will be more happy.  I think.  

I originally wrote, "if you HAVE patience, simplicity and compassion," but then changed it.  Because it is not about the possessing, but the practicing.  It is about engaging not owning.

I love dogs.  Well, big dogs more than small ones.  They may not always practice patience, but they certainly are role models of simplicity and compassion.  They want to play and rest and be near the people about whom they care.  And when those people are sad or hurting, they want to be present and they (seem to) sense that their people are sad or hurting.

We can't all be perfect, but to practice 2/3s of the things which can make us better is better than practicing none and wanting things that don't matter.  And practice, in my opinion, doesn't make perfection of action.  Practice may, however, may perfect practice.


     

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sally

People are always complaining that life's not fair, but that simply isn't true.  Life is extraordinarily fair.  It's just not centered on you.
~ Lynn Marie Sager
- - - - -

We forget that we are all tangential to the central focus of life.  Things happen to us.  We encounter obstacles or setbacks.  We don't get what we want or what we expect.  But what we want or expect may not be aligned with the ultimate focus of the world.  The center of the universe may have a different priority.  It's not about us.

It's all about Sally.

I learned that a long time ago.  There are two pieces to this philosophy, as I understand it.

1. It's all about Sally.
2. Suck it up.

All questions and dissatisfactions we experience can be answered by  one of these two pieces.  A few examples...

* You want to wait to make a decision, but Sally needs a decision today.  Item 1.
* You can't find your wallet.  Item 2.
* You don't understand why the world seems to be against you.  Item 2.
* Your phone rings during a meeting with the Chief of Police.  It's Sally.  Item 1.
* Your phone rings during a meeting with Sally.  It's the Chief of Police.  Item 1.
* Your phone rings during a presentation Sally is doing.  Item 1.
* Your phone is broken.  Item 2.

So, basically, if you think that the world doesn't care about you, remember #1 then do #2.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poke

You may poke a man's fire after you have known him for seven years.
~ English Proverb
- - - - -

 A while back I was on Facebook - well, I was on it recently, too, but that isn't the point of this post.  Anyway, I was on Facebook and I saw that it was Brad's birthday.  I just about wrote him a birthday haiku - which is what I do on Facebook when I see it's someone's birthday and I have a moment to write a haiku for him or her.

Well, then I realized that he wasn't showing up in the birthday part, but in the poke part.  It wasn't his birthday.  TODAY is his birthday.  So I'm writing this to post on his birthday - which is about 10 months from now.  

This proves that I am a thoughtful friend.  And forward-thinking.  And easily confused by Facebook technology.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love

Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes.  Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.
~ Rumi
- - - - -

We can find love in lots of places.  Love of quiet.  Love of place.  Love of person.  Love of the moment.  We can find things that remind us of love and reignite love.  We just have to look.  We have to pay attention.

In the end, it isn't the thing we see that reminds us, but we remind ourselves.  We need to open our eyes, yes, but we need to open our hearts and minds even more.

Not literally.  That would not be helpful.  And it would be very messy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

See

In order to see birds, it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
~ Robert Lynd
- - - - -

When birds look at large bodies of water, do they see and think what we see and think?  If you say, "Their brains are too small to truly comprehend the vastness of what is before them," is that any different than the rest of us?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bunny

When the rabbit has escaped, comes advice.
~ Proverb
- - - - -

How come it isn't the Easter Rabbit instead of the Easter Bunny?  Isn't a bunny usually a young rabbit?  I don't think adults should be sending their young out to do all that Easter basket delivering.  It seems inappropriate to me.

Similarly, if rabbits were known to be healers, I don't think it would be appropriate to send the babies out to help injured people.  Though it would make them first aid kits.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Camera

There are no bad photographs.  That's just how your face looks sometimes.
~ Abraham Lincoln
- - - - -

I'm glad that I'm not a celebrity.  I'm way too introverted for that.  To not be able to go out and watch people and listen and even just be in public spaces in alone sorts of ways...  that would be displeasing to me.  I like doing those things.  Sometimes watching and listening - invisible in the crowd - is where I get some of my best ideas and hear some of the most interesting conversations.

And people are always "out to get" celebrities in photos.  Sadly, it seems the more unflattering the photo the more anxious photographers are to get the photo.  It doesn't amaze me that they get so many "bad" photos of people.  It amazes me that there aren't more of them.  Sometimes when I'm watching TV and I pause it to answer the phone or go do something, the expression I capture on the screen is terribly unflattering.  

Ultimately, the fact that we are excited to consume negative stories and photos and "stuff" about others says much more about us than it does about them.  You are what you consume, yes?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Classics

A classic is a book that has never finished what it has to say.
~ Italo Calvino
- - - - -

I think it is very important to read to children.  In addition to the shared time between the reader and the child, I think that is where we begin to plant seeds for their imaginations.  They make up the images and the actions and the doings in their heads.  They create worlds based on the words of others.  They create their own words and ideas and know that there is value in doing that.  

Seeing with your mind is an important skill to develop.

And I think it's good to expose kids to classic ideas and classic tales.  Our literature carries our culture and our social lens and our thinking about a variety of topics.  Common points of reference.  Common understanding.  Common ground.

It also gives us things against which to push.  Things don't always need to be as things have always been.

I think you can pull different lessons from the tales we have told and retold ourselves.  There are morals and lessons from all of the books above - from Shakespeare and the Brontes and Carroll and, well I'm ashamed to admit it, but I forget who wrote the classic of the canon, "Zoo Babies," but you get my point.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Carnivorous

If God did not intend us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?
~ John Cleese
- - - - -

I wonder what people in olden times would have said if their kids said that they weren't going to eat meat.  Like if Laura Ingalls said, "Pa..."  Wait.  No.  It would have more likely been Mary who said it.  What if Mary had said, "Pa, I'm not going to eat meat anymore."  I don't think Pa would have taken too kindly to that.

I'm not sure it would have even occurred to people in little houses on the prairie to not eat meat.  Unless, of course, they couldn't find any meat.  Like during the dust bowl.  But even then they would have preferred meat and eaten it when they had the chance.

Let's go back even further.  I don't think that it's a coincidence that "carnivorous" and "Tyrannosaurus" rhyme, do you?  That has to mean something.  And, yes, "Stegosaurus" and "herbivorous" also rhyme.  Again, not a coincidence.  And which would you rather be in a fight?  A Tyrannosaurus who could eat a stegosaurus because he was a carnivore or a stegosaurus who could just trash the Tyrannosaurus' lawn because he was a herbivore?

That's what I thought.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stories

'Thou shalt not' might reach the head, but it takes 'Once upon a time' to reach the heart.
~ Phillip Pullman
- - - - -

I think that imagination is a combination of head and heart.  There has to be a touch of reality in contrast to the creative.  It makes it more bold.  Impossible stories don't stay with us as much as ones with a touch of possibility.  Right?  I mean, I think that's right.

I wonder what is scarier - the stories we tell ourselves or the stories we don't.

I think I know.

The stories we tell ourselves about UFOs when it is dark out and we are driving alone in the countryside.  Those are the scarier stories.  

Fortunately, almost always, our minds get erased of those stories.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Library

It was good to walk into a library again; it smelled like home.
~ Elizabeth Kostova
- - - - -

My writing group has been meeting in the library the past few weeks.  I don't go to our campus library often enough.  There have been lots of other people there, though, so that's good.  It's good to be with books.  And words.  And ideas.  And more books.

But not so good to be with bookies.  I think they can be a bad influence sometimes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nest


Clay is molded to form a cup, but it is on its non-being that the utility of the cup depends.  Doors and windows are cut out to make a room, but it is on it's non-being that the utility of the room depends.  Therefore, turn being into advantage, and turn non-being into utility.
~ Lao Tzu
- - - - - 

I have a friend who refers to her bed as her nest.  At least I assume that is what she is referring to.  I suppose it is possible that she has constructed an ACTUAL nest.  If that is the case, I picture it like Big Bird's nest on Sesame Street.  But, no, I think it is her bed.  Regardless, I like the image.  It is a place of safety and quiet - away from the world, but part of the world.  

I do think you need to be careful if you order breakfast in bed if you sleep in a nest, though.  Momma birds aren't known for their culinary expertise or housekeeping, though the service is good.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mine

Whatever is well said by another, is mine.
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca
- - - - -

I'm going to be leaving ISU soon.  It is my institution.  It is my place.  I love it.  I have so much admiration and respect for the people with whom I work and from whom I have had a chance to learn in the past 12 or so years.  I wouldn't have guessed I would be here so long when I just came for a "practice interview."  I love Iowa State University.  I am truly proud to be a Cyclone.

And I don't feel selfish that I am calling ISU mine.  It is.  I certainly share it and find connection and community with others who are here or have been here in some form or fashion.  But it is also uniquely mine because I have had my own lived experience here.  And no one else can have that.  Despite common ground.

I like that we each have our own pieces of the world.  Every place we have been is uniquely ours based on our experience in that place.  We own it and carry it with us and re-experience it when we return.  And we all run out and yell, "Get out of my yard!" when others try to encroach on our places. Well, most of us don't yell that in a literal sense.  Most of us yell it in nonsense.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sunset

Sunset on the water ought to be a quiet and easy time, but I guess some people can't stand a little silence.
~ Carl Hiaasen
- - - - -

I love silence.  And sunsets.  And water.

Does that mean I can't stand people who can't stand a little silence? Not necessarily.  I might not understand them, but can't stand and can't understand are two different things.

One means you can't tolerate them.
The other means you can't comprehend them.

Those are different.  But not opposites.  

Why isn't there an "overstand?"  As in, "I can't overstand that guy."

Wait.  I guess there is.  It's a nautical term.  About overreaching.  And I saw it referenced on a Rastafarian blog.  About absorbing knowledge without being subordinate to that knowledge.  I think.

We should use it more.  Fully integrate it into our vocabulary.  Do you overstand what I'm saying?

And how come there is a night stand, but not a day stand?  I could go on and on...

And I often do. 

But not this time.

I'm done now.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dance

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of
Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
- - - - -

I like this photograph.  I think it is interesting and striking and it just turned out pretty well.  I also like how it conveys a sense of fragility and vulnerability - the drops could be gone in an instant.  Time is precious.  

And it's something that you have to take the time to notice.  Sometimes we are too busy to see the beautiful things.  And sometimes - most times even - the beautiful things aren't things.  Sometimes they are moments or emotions or kindnesses.

Or actions.  Like when you're working somewhere late at night and people are tired.  And they decide to have a "sit in your chair dance party" because they are too tired to get up and dance.  Or not tired enough that they want to deliriously flail about in front of one another.

We need to appreciate those moments.  We need to capture them in our minds eye.  Or on our cell phones.  And when the "sit in your chair dance party" participants realized you have captured their "sit in your chair dance party" should you ignore their threats and post said video online?

(pause)

No.  Instead, find a pretty picture of a leaf and talk about how great some of the moments in life can be.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guide

Any book is a self-help guide if you can take something from it.
~ Kevin Smith
- - - - -

Though I was exhausted, I tried to make conversation with the shuttle driver who took me to the airport.  I asked if he was from the area and how he liked living there.  He talked about his life a little bit.  He said he was very familiar with that part of the country, but had traveled other places, too.  He liked traveling and writing and barbecue.

He said, "I thought about writing a BBQ restaurant guide one time.  The problem is that the open and close so fast that it would be out of date right away."

I suggested that he could write a guide book for closed barbecue restaurants.  He laughed.  He said that was a good idea.

Then he talked about his travels and how he sometimes found places to stay on a web site.  I forget what it was called, but basically it was for people who just opened up their homes to overnight guests.  That was strange, I thought.  And risky.  

Actually, he was sort of a weird man.  But not in a creepy way.  In a short story way.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Home

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is a home.
~ Matsuo Basho
- - - - -

I'm going to be moving.  I'm excited about it right now.  I'm excited because it is going to happen, but for the moment I am still in a familiar place among people about whom I care a lot.  It's far enough away not to be scary or worrisome, though I do think about the move frequently.

The other day I was talking to Leslie about moving - about where I might live.  She gave the following advice:

Leslie:  Just don't move anywhere that you have to share a wall with someone else.

Me:  Why?

Leslie:  Because you hate that.

She is very wise.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stop

Go on till you come to the end; then stop.
~ Lewis Carroll
- - - - -

Some people don't realize they have come to the end.  Some people don't stop.  They wait too long.  They wait forever.  Actually they aren't waiting at all.  They are continuing.  Without stopping.  That is the mistake.

Stopping is when the answers come.  Stopping is when perspective happens.  Stopping is when you breathe and rest and think and exist.  

Some people wish they had stop signs, I bet.  Signs to tell them to stop doing things.  Warnings.  Messages right before their faces.  But just because you ignore a stop sign doesn't mean you haven't gone through a stop.  You've still broken the law.  And saying you didn't see it won't work if you get pulled over.  

We forget, I think, that sometimes stopping isn't forever.  Maybe even most times stopping isn't forever.  You stop.  You wait.  And when the time is right you go again.

And if you don't make the choice to stop when you should, then you will be stopped by something beyond your control.  

Am I suggesting you take a moment now?  And stop?  And think about what I've written here?

Yes.

But think about other things, too.  Like how you can thank me for encouraging you to stop.  Think about how precious I am to you.  Think about some grand gesture you could make to pay me back - in some way - for what I've given to you here.

(pause)

Take your time.  And when you get a good idea, then un-stop and do that nice thing for me.

And also, you're welcome.


Monday, April 7, 2014

School




When you're a student, it still feels like something exciting might happen at any moment.  Life feels full of all this potential.  But when you get out of school, that potential just doesn't seem to be there.
~ Hillary Frank
- - - - -

I think we're always in schools.  Some of us are in family dynamics school.  Some of us are in how to cope with bullies at work school.  Some of us are in cross stitch school.  Some of us are in the school of hard knocks.  And the theme song for that school is, "It's a Hard Knock Life."  The math shows us that life is always school.

(hard knock) x (life) = (school) x (hard knock)

If you divide both sides by hard knock, then you get life = school, right?  Isn't that how math works?  If so, I have proved this.  If not, then I have proved it because I still am in the school of learning how math works.

So, nuh-uh, Hillary Frank.  If that is how life feels to you - like something exhilarating isn't about to happen at any moment - well, you're not doing it right.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Greetings

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.
~ William Shakespeare

- - - - -

Is it better to give a belated birthday note or a prelated one?  Prelated meaning you do it a day or two early?

It is better when it is right on time.  And my birthday is 2 months from today.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Water

I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, 
whether it is the waves or a waterfall.
~ Mike May
- - - - -

I love water.  The ocean.  Niagara Falls.  Creeks - even cricks.

Lots of people have written lots of things about the water.  I don't know if I have a ton to add to what has already been said.  I suppose that every time we see water ourselves we experience it in our own ways for the first time (or second or thousandth time).  We all have new eyes when we see something for the first time.  Even something seen before by lots of other people.

I like the motion and the secrecy and quiet and noise and the calm and the action and the strength of water.  Most any kind of water.

Well, actually, know what I don't love?  Stagnant water that has been sitting in an unused Super Soaker squirt gun for a few weeks or months.  I don't love that at all.  Especially when it is squirted on me.  I pretty much unlike that.

"Did that ever really happen to you?" you might ask.

Yes.  Yes, it did.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Quiet

All that is important comes in quietness and waiting.
~ Patrick Lindsay
- - - - -








(I feel like writing anything here would be contrary to the quote.)





(So I won't write anything more.)




(And what I did write, I wrote in parentheses so it is quieter.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Beauty

The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~ W. B. Yeats
- - - - -
 
I completely concur with this quote.  There is beauty and magic and wonder all around us.  We are too busy - often - with our phones and our work and our pettiness and the clankings in our heads and the burdens on our hearts to notice those things.  And things.  We are too obsessed with things themselves to notice the exquisite.
 
Beauty and magic and wonder.  Those are the BMWs we should obsess over.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fairytales

Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.
~ Hans Christian Andersen
- - - - -
I would not choose to be a character in a fairy tale.  The things that happen there are crazy.  Seriously.  Talking animals.  Lots of witches and suspense and injury and death.  I guess some of those things happen in real life, too, but you miss my point.
If I absolutely had to be a fairy tale character, I would like to be Scoldilocks.  I know she's an off-shoot character I just made up, but I think I'd be good at being her.  I could break into people's houses and criticize them.  It's a lot like what I already do except I have to wait for people to come to me before the scolding starts.  Well, I don't have to wait but I have been told - rather forcefully - to stop breaking into their houses, so I'm waiting for them to come to me just to be safe.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fool

April is the cruelest month, 
breeding lilacs out of the dead land,
mixing memory and desire,
stirring dull roots with spring rain.
~ T. S. Eliot
- - - - -

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool me three times, please don't hang around me anymore.

I love April Fool's Day.  It is my favorite holiday.  Well, maybe Thanksgiving is.  NOPE! TRICKED YOU!  It's April Fool's Day.  No.  Really it is Thanksgiving.

I would hate if they combined April Fool's Day and Thanksgiving in one holiday, though.  You wouldn't know whether to be thankful or just on your guard all the time.

Of course, maybe it is wise to be thankful and on your guard all the time.

I bet turkeys who survive Thanksgiving are like that.  Especially in November.

What am I saying?!  They don't have calendars!

I do think I saw a wild turkey over the weekend when I was driving.  I think I saw it twice.  It looked kind of scrawny, though.  Maybe it was a pheasant.  Or a Canadian goose.  It wasn't a goose.  I don't know what it was.

A turkey I think.

I also would hate if they combined April Fool's Day and Thanksgiving because that would cut out all the months in between.  And July 6th is my favorite holiday.

I just really like holidays, I think.

The way this post reads you'd think I was spending a little too much time with Wild Turkey.