Miscelaneous Musings

There is no escape from hot or cold, pain or pleasure, life or death.
This section is full of the many little gems (and maybe a few non-gems) that just didn't fit into the other categories as I put all the pieces in piles. That doesn't mean that some or many do not belong in one or more of the other groups. It just means, I didn't see it the other day as I chopped a really large document into several smaller ones. So enjoy a mixture and expect to swing wildly from topic to topic as you move from paragraph to paragraph.

We chain our genius to the norm. Afraid to free it to go beyond safe limits, we stop at blind horizons and blind corners. We must allow it to go where it will go. Let it go over that horizon and around that corner.

Who among us would not do many things differently if s/he had the chance. We don't have that chance. So why "regret"? Rather, take account, take note, and move forward making the next decision better because you have reviewed and learned from the one you would have done differently.

If you don't fail now and then (or even more often than that), you are not trying. We are human and consequently we do fail. Perfection is not an option. But right behind it you have to say that if you are trying, you will succeed now and then. The odds are in your favor if you keep trying.

Life is sometimes like skiing down a steep hill--you have to look well ahead of where you are and you can only make minor changes to your path over the snow in the short run. But over the length of the run, you can direct yourself to the far side of the mountain. (Corollary: One step at a time.) (Corollary two: You cannot directly cross a fast moving stream fighting your way against the current, but using your rudder as a paddle, you can cross it with ease using that same opposing current to push you.)

Travel is often more about yourself than the place you are visiting. You enter a totally alien environment where you have to perform your day-to-day activities of eating, drinking, talking, eliminating, reacting to your surroundings, and sleeping. You put yourself in a situation where you have to make significant decisions about these activities much more often than you do in your normal life. You are challenging yourself to remake yourself daily in an alien environment. You are renewed and exhilarated when you succeed. You are challenged and exhilarated when you fail. You push yourself to new limits. And in the middle of all this you learn about yourself and another culture, another land, another sea, another mountain range. In the end you have put on a new set of eyes and look at the word in a new way. You experience life on a knife edge even when you are "doing nothing" sitting on top of a newly found hill, on a beach, or in a bar. If you do not like this challenge, rather if you cannot accept this challenge, stay home because you'll only make life miserable for yourself and those in the environment you are visiting--you will be the Ugly American demanding that everything in your new place is like it is at home.

Leaders do just that--they lead. They do not push. They draw others to do or to go down a road that the community (or some portion of it) believes is a good road to travel. Good leaders must show those they are leading that the goal is worth the effort. Some poor fellows who refuse to be lead and refuse to lead, live a life of grousing at their circumstances popping their heads up now and then to make a bunch of noise and then retreating into their shell for protection and continuing their grousing. They only know how to react and push. The leader must rather draw others in a new direction.

Without a plan and its goals and timetables, nothing can or will happen. Sounds so fundamental, yet it is so often not done. If you want to do something, you have to formulate concrete, step-by-step movements to make it happen in a given, reasonable amount of time. If you do not know the path, how can you move? Clear out the undergrowth and make clear the path and it is a lot easier to walk down it.

I have so many projects of interest. I allow the most interesting at the time to float into the light of attention. I have to remember that once in a while, I have to take one or more of them and go all the way to completion, as I did with Ethiopia: Travels of a Youth this summer. One finished three or four times a year would be wonderful. In essence I must have a plan with its goals and time tables and execute them.

For those curious, and I your writer am one, I have no less that the following projects and ideas floating around in front on me in this early December, 2002: write 1970 Africa trip; write Sicily travel narrative; for all these travel places write travel narratives; make a useful coin data base program; write a spiritual Hours book; write a rough draft on my report for when I return to the Creator; spend an extended time on a retreat (or pilgrimage); revisit earlier writing on flying; write a few how-tos on some of the things I have done; translate a useful scholarly book; take a very long walk (the Camino de Santiago de Compostela will do); write that Opus Vitae; rewrite that spiritual autobiography; write some self-help how-tos; write about my "board of overseers"; make some serious money on eBay; write on setting priorities; and there must be more; and in the end write some more, just write about life and what it is and has been. Maybe someone will be able to get something good out of some of the words.

Believe you can do something and you can. Believe you cannot and you never will.

People, like ants and cockroaches, show up sooner or later wherever you go, no matter how remote or out of the way place you think you have gone. Remember, you are one of that race and you got there.

Live in the now--see now--live now--enjoy now--there is nothing else. Plan for the next now, but don't push it too hard. Now is all we have.

"I have no time to ...." Balarny, you have time to do what you must--just don't waste it. We have everything we need. Use it. Vita brevis. Carpe diem. (Life is short. Seize the day.)

Last spring and for many springs before, there was a great evergreen tree, beautifully formed and a hundred feet high, standing on the corner of Chicago and East Sandwich roads. I always wanted to photograph it from many angles. One day they cut it down (why is irrelevant). I never photographed it. I never will be able to now. Don't put off what you want to do or you may never be able to do it.

Life is too exciting to numb yourself with drugs or alcohol [though a little nip now and then isn't so bad]. Why did it take so long to realize this? Maybe it is just that it takes a life, a lifetime, to come to open your eyes to the absolute uniqueness of every day and then to stand wide eyed in the face of each one ready for its plate, its onslaught, its pleasures, its pains. Take on life head to head by the horns and run with it; jump into the depths of the river and ride with the current making tiny moves here and there to direct the flow to your advantage as you bounce over rocky rapids knowing that somewhere downstream calm waters offer rest once again. I do not need artificial excitement--there is quite enough of the real thing.

Are many individuals born like the seeds of the maple tree, most born only to be trampled over and sacrificed to the journey of a few? We worship at the altar of individualism in our modern world of democracy. Perhaps the emphasis is too far that way....but woe to s/he who takes this too literally and tries to suppress the sovereignty of the individual. This argument may have been successfully used by many autocrats, monarchs, and oligarchs in the past so it must be used very cautiously and precisely today.

Do not eat, drink, or smoke when you are angry or tired. And while you are at it do not argue or make major decisions when you are angry or tired. And surely do not bully yourself or let anyone else bully you into any of these activities when you are angry or tired.

Choose to do an activity. Choose not to do another activity. Make it your choice. Never do something because "I have to" or "I should." You may choose to do one of the latter anyway, but make sure it is your choice and not someone else's or that nebulous "society's" choice.

As I began to write my book on Sicily I observed that, being a traveler, I record not only what I see, but also my perceptions of the relationships between the land and people and between them and me. So though I headed to Sicily as an observer and reporter, I could not be a reporter only, because my presence changes relationships, because now there are relationships to me in addition to the relationships that existed on their own before. The participation fundamentally changes those being observed. In fact, I end up observing myself as much as the others because I can only report on my own reactions to and perceptions of what I see, feel, smell, hear, taste, and intuit.

Sitting in a busy park, I watch hundreds walk past. They look at me on the bench. But I see no one, no one sees me. I know no one, no one knows me. I am alone, and with hundreds. But I can observe unencumbered the hundreds I am not with. And they surely see me, the stranger. And I can concentrate on individuals too. But little communication beyond that of eye and jester happens as I know no one and no one knows me. Left alone to be alone and together. I am anonymous and yet in a crowd. I can think and create. Sitting in a bar, walking, and driving all produce similar results for me.

A park, a bar stool, a restaurant booth, a coffee house table, all are wonderfully anonymous forums to sit in and to meditate and write. They work as well as a chapel or a hilltop. I sit near others and yet no one knows me, no one interrupts me though many move about. Consciousnesses brush by each other but do not connect. In these places I am free to fly the kite of my thoughts without having to pull its line in momentarily to attend to other lines of thought [pun intended].

Living deeply and freely is releasing everything and everyone deeply and freely.

Less than truth told to avoid conflict or disapproval usually results only in the downfall of the speaker because in the end that truth comes out anyway. By denying the truth you avoid tantrum or complaints but you also lie to yourself and avoid challenging that lie. Speaking the truth gives life to tantrum, but tantrum is itself simply avoidance of truth.

You take risks at work, on the road--then take them with yourself, with your life. Why is it easy to take risks on one aspect of your life and so hard in others?

How safe, how tranquil, how simple life would be without love--how boring!

Living a role is not living life fully.

When compassion looks for emotion under it, feel it and change how you respond.

Workoholism is as much an addiction as alcoholism and drug addiction.

The labyrinth's lines, like society's rules, are only suggestions of a path to follow. We can walk outside the box there too as long as someone has not built walls--but you can climb walls too.

"Introibo ad altari Dei, qui laetifivat iuventutem meum." "I go up to the altar of God, who is the joy of my youth." The words at the beginning of the Catholic Mass. The words that I try to remember to speak every day as I walk before the God deep within ready to begin another day.

I often find that by the time I make a statement, put words on paper or speak them before another, that statement is already stale. I am always moving, never standing in the same spot. Maybe I return, but I never stay long.

Drama comes from dilemma. --Keven Costner.

Emotional awareness frees from compulsions. -Zukov (Heart of the Soul)

When you have a pain, go to it, experience it.

Aim to give a response, not a reaction.

The authentic life is the passionate life, the soulful life.

Law is only the dark shadow of justice. It only begins to point out the outside edges of justice.

To have less and less in order to be more and more. Rather to desire less and less. Rather to be unconcerned whether you have less and less or more and more.

Fear of what is beyond death makes us long to stay here. The known daemon is more bearable than the unknown.

Facts of life: There is no cure for (or escape from) hot or cold, pain or pleasure, life or death.

We are not solid like the ground. Rather, like a cloud, ever changing, we constantly experience new reality, every moment unique, unknown, completely fresh.

I believe the risks I take are justified by the sheer love of the life I lead. -Lindbergh

As I have progressed through life, I have noticed that as people get older they talk more and more about their pains and ills, probably for good reason. My intention is to not spend my old age talking about my ills or those of others for that matter. Rather I intend to talk about most any other topic of the horrors or wonders of the world. My aches and pains are not important--they are just some of the frills that come with the territory of life. Talk about joys if you will, but leave ills to be lost in the background of your joys.

What is the communication I wait for at the mailbox, at the email box, at the world as I wait so expectantly and curiously?

One of the reasons the church and the western world have stringent laws on sex is because it has to do with procreation. It is economic. We cannot have unattached economic pawns (kids) running around on their own. Western society does not take care of generic kids. Many Eastern societies do. The excuse that it is a profound thing, this procreation, is an equal fallacy--everything we do is procreation--we are continually creating a new world--even destruction creates a new world by removing something already existing to make new relationships. Many cultures say go with whatever brings you ecstasy--but our uptight culture is too afraid to surrender to that ecstasy that is sex for fear of losing control--the real God of Western society--control.

If I am doing something safe, something someone else has already done, Why do it? Do something new.

As we walk the road in our late 50's and beyond, we often are not sure how to run our world. So how can we expect younger ones to always do it correctly rather than in a useful way. The social institutions offer convenient molds to use to build the society, molds that, when bad, make most everything they touch bad and, when good, make what they touch good. But they, no less than the choices of individuals, are a set of group choice rules, whether a few weeks, a few years, or a few centuries old; whether they are those of a club, a family, a city, a state, a church, a society, or mankind as a whole. All are guesses useful to a whole that formulated them. Dynamic codes (rules, if you will) promote change (development) of societies; static codes promote stagnation and prevent change.

If I do not do what is best for me, how can anyone depend on me to do what is best for them? It is often much easier and more comfortable not to act. It is so warm and cozy in your neat cubbyhole. But never fear to do what you know is best, what you suspect is best, for you. In doing that you do what is best for all. But remember also perfection is not an option.

A guy just walked by with torn up jeans. He wants to be a Hippy, I guess. But he has a way to go because he has another new, clean pair of jeans inside making him comfortable and whole! Show.

Today I feel like doing nothing--I am tired. And yet today I feel like doing everything. I feel alive.

Do unto others what they would have you do unto them--not as you would have them do unto you. They may not like what you would like. Know them before you do unto them. - Tom L.

My body parts have a vested interest in being healthy and working well. If they fail or become frail, the whole body slowly fails and all cease to exist in time. While all work together, the body survives.

If you truly love one, you must truly love all and that love must be the same for all. It must be freeing and non-possessive. It must see the wholeness and uniqueness of each. It cannot need the other because each is whole in his/her self and each has all s/he needs.

How curious a light.
Without it you see nothing.
With it you see what was already there.
So the "Light of the World," the Christ,
Only shows the world as it already is.
-Paraphrase and expansion of an early '70s observation.

Life is weird in its way. It insists on being everywhere. You cannot keep out grass or weeds or coons or spiders or flies. Look at the number of flowers and trees. Look at the number of seeds each individual produces just so a few offspring survive. Life flourishes. You can only deflect it to keep the particularly unwelcome forms out of your living environment.

Sometimes I sit with blanks in my output buffer and yet I know well intellectually and emotionally that I have a lot to contribute to the continuing creation of who, what, and where we are. Something will come soon.

Destruction is also creation, negative creation that creates an entity that is less than the current content or more chaotic than what was here before. It makes a different world.

My dad so wanted attention. Like the old man who just came into the restaurant and harassed a couple waitresses only to be mostly ignored. Both dad and this old man are bombastic and shallow and mostly ignored. Both often settle for talking to the young kids who are always so curious they'll talk to anyone, even boring old men. When and how do we become boring old men? When and how do we loose our curiosity to listen to "boring" old men? They rattle and prattle no less and no more than the rest of us.

Silver Springs park was a treasure chest that fall day. Trees glittered in the sunlight. A golden blanket covered the forest floor.

The co-dependent provides for the other what the other can, and probably should, provide for him/herself.

Unlike Jesus, who may not have known he was God (as we read the historical Jesus these days), unlike him, I know that I am (that we are) truly a son of God and that creation is carried on by me (by all of us) every day as it was by those who have gone before. Everyday is a new world.

What makes my blood tingle? goose bumps go down the back? tears come to my eyes? A great opera song sung well; a story with a point well told (several spots in Laurence of Arabia); a picture with a special story (some wide sand, wind, and mountain shots in Laurence of Arabia do it); the oneness of all as it flashed before me at a Monreale, Sicily Mass; the Santiago de Compostela walk; hearing Italian spoken; seeing the story of a hero winning in a movie; a sung midnight mass; all bring tears and an uneasy spine....Why?. What is happening? Is it the beginning of a religious experience? Does this point to my "bliss"? Is the object a symbol of my "bliss"? Think about it a while.

It's another Thursday. Thursdays come so often these days. Before I know it, another is on me, followed quickly by another weekend--and another Thursday. Life is short. You have only one pass (maybe) so live it well--make your opportunities where you can. Take the risks you must to make what you want out of it. Own. Plan. Commit. Activate. Complete. Perfection is not an option. Maybe it is time to stop writing and start doing.

"To be or not to be." That is not the question. To live or not to live. To move or not to move. To seek or not to seek. To love or not to love. To create or not to create. These are the questions.

From an Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) book, six steps on problem solving:

  1. Identify the problem in terms of needs, not solutions. Decide to solve it.
  2. Brainstorm many solutions.
  3. Determine the best solution(s).
  4. Implement the solution(s).
  5. Followup to review progress and adjust solutions.

The window where you came from.
Go to My 2002 Musings index.

Added links: Nov 2014
Copyright © 2002 Mike Metras, www.WorksAndWords.com