Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Resolution Will Not Be Televised

Maybe Mick and Keith were saying the same thing as the Wizard of Oz:
"Pay NO ATTENTION to That Man Behind the Curtain!"

Time once again when our thoughts turn to New Year's Resolutions. Something I never put much stock in as an adolescent, but eventually I recognized many things I wanted to improve upon. I gave it a try and admittedly had little or no success. When the next year rolled around, there they were again. I notice standing in line impatiently behind them are more issues that have cropped up, requiring attention. Hmmm...take a number?

I try to convince myself "this year will be different." I try to analyze the reasons for past failures and how to avoid them. Aiming too high. Diluting my resolve on too many targets. Giving up because it was easier than putting out effort. Letting a slip here or there provide an excuse to bail.

But I think there are two reasons that most resolutions fail: First - there's nothing all that magical about New Year's Day. After all, it is a day like every other in most respects, and not everyone's New Year begins on January 1 anyway. Success can only be measured by the day at hand, so why not start today? Second - all too often we fool ourselves into thinking we can go it alone. How conveniently irrational! A built-in lack of accountability too! Too arrogant, momentarily confident or proud to ask for help when more often than not, it would gladly be given. Chances of success increase dramatically.


When I was young I couldn't reach the first branch of the big oak tree at the end of our driveway. But I'd ask a friend for a "boost".  Once the first branch was grasped I could climb as high as the others would hold me - to a place where the sun filtered through the canopy and the tree swayed gently in the breeze. I looked out over the cornfields from a place where there was no need for resolutions. A perch I couldn't have reached without the help of friend. Why was is it so much easier to ask then?

This year my goal is to pay it forward each day and seek nothing in return - "untelevised."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Real Santa

(For a change I created today's artwork rather than plagiarize)
Merry Christmas.

Recently The Mind of Wallett provided a thorough treatise on many of our Christmas traditions, culminating with an expose of The Fat Man himself. Not the one in the bathtub. Santa himself. Visit This, That, 'N' T'other for more.

But this posting is not in reference to the Santa of legend. It's about the Real Santa. More along the lines of the one you might have caught kissing Mommy, or maybe even Bad Santa. It depends.

For as I thought about it, Who sees me when I'm sleeping? Who knows when I'm awake? Who knows if I've been bad or good?

That's right, it's me! I can bring presents or coal. I make a lot of lists.

And I don't just mean I create the lists, I mean I find myself on the lists I create - both Naughty and Nice. However, unlike the best thing you can put in your golf bag to lower your score (eraser), it's not so easy to get off the Naughty list once you're on it. Because you know.

Santa's lists are of course a form of Inventory. By seeing yourself on the Naughty list, you can find acceptance. The eraser may not work, but the ink can fade in time, with effort. By seeing yourself on both lists, you will find humility. Look at all the other people you put on the list. By asking "what part did I play in that?" you may learn forgiveness. Santa doesn't hold grudges. Anymore.

In closing, let's recap a few other cool things about Santa: Santa speaks every language. He remembers every child's name. And when he speaks to you, he speaks to the innocent child within all of us. He knows your happiest memory, and your saddest moment.

Santa takes you back to a place and time when the world was simple.
Where you were as unspoiled as new fallen snow.
A place where you can begin anew.
Santa's not just me. He's you too.
So go out and exclaim, ere you drive through the night -
"Happy Christmas to all - and to all a good night."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The World Beyond

The following is offered as temporary relief to the sugary-sweet seasonal postings.

The World Beyond was another one of those bizarre B&W TV shows that would appear in my 1960's dining room, on Friday nights at 8 PM if I recall. Kind of like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits in genre, but typically the episodes were creepier, and I was hesitant to watch right before bed. Creepier still, I can find no images or references for you on the internet, but trust me, it's out there.

This was to be the segue into today's topic but for seeming lack of evidence, we will try the angle that actually got me here. Ahem. I just finished The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan courtesy of my friend Manish. Built upon greek mythology rather than 'wizarding', in this particular edition, Percy and friends take in a visit to The Underworld and live to tell about it.


Scene from Ingrid Bergman's The Seventh Seal
(Is Alex Von Sydow offering Death "Rock"? Is the chessboard set up sideways?)

Without giving too much away, Percy's visit to Hades reveals a huge but bland, dismal section for the rank-and-file, a smaller eternal torturing section, and a smaller still resort area for heroes.  And as he debates his condition, Hades starts to complain about his commute, the hired help and the number of new subdivisions he's had to open recently. Who would have thought?

The scene put me back in the time-traveling phone booth with Bill and Ted. To recap: In their Bogus Journey, the duo is confronted by Death. Bill explains to Ted who they've encountered, and Ted greets him with a classic line I'm sure we all hope to use someday - "How's it hanging, Death?" In a parody of The Seventh Seal, Death offers them freedom if they can beat him in a game to be named later. After Death explains that no one has EVER beaten him, Bill and Ted give Death a Melvin and escape temporarily.

Death is not amused. Eventually Bill and Ted agree to the contest, with surprising results. After defeating Death in the board game Battleship, Death demands to play best 2-out-of-3. Bill and Ted proceed to beat Death in Clue, Electronic Football, and Twister to earn their escape and the services of Death for the rest of their Journey.

As I don't seem to have the snap to actually embed the video, I send you to YouTube to see these most excellent clips of Bill and Ted's Bogus Adventure. You might find yourself better equipped to deal with Death after watching these.
Back already? What is the relevance you ask? Aha. Note that neither Percy, Bill nor Ted have to cheat Death. But should Death ever ask you to "Get down and give me infinity" you may find the need to cut some corners.

Fortunately we have a lot of practice by cheating Death every day. And not just by getting up and taking fluids. I'm convinced for example that most of the meetings I attend are a form of cheating Death. Time stops and life itself seems to extend to eternity. You probably have similar experiences. Embrace them. Otherwise Death is winning.


William Sandler as The Grim Reaper. Not so grim after all.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Turning Straw Into Gold


Growing up with Charlie Brown's Christmas, I could always relate to the sad little tree Charlie Brown fell in love with. At my house, we would typically go into the woods, but occasionally voyage to an actual tree farm. My Dad would proceed to pick out the sorriest, most pathetic tree he could find - because it showed the most promise and was the cheapest - then he'd scrounge around for any free greens, rope or wire he could find left behind.

We had some trees that may not even have been in the evergreen family. Once home the mad scientist would go to work. We would mount the tree in this stand forged at the time of King Arthur, and weigh it down with these lead blanket logs - the kind of thing my Dad always had an abundance of. We would stand back, staring at the bare trunk, anxiously waiting for the bit brace to be brandished (for those of you not familiar with this surgical instrument, I provide an image similar to the $3 one I bought at a Hamfest with my Dad and later refurbished.) But I digress.


The stray greens would be screened for just the right ones to fill the bare spots. The trunk would be bored, branches inserted and hung precariously with wire, and Voila! The perfect tree. Then after decorating, we put full-length mirrors against the wall, to "double" the resplendent tree lights, each one being the size of your fist. Rumplestilzchen had struck again.

The point is that Christmas, the tree, and life itself, is what you make of it.
So if you find your tree bare, be glad you have a tree. If it needs work, man up and get your bit brace. Step back and review your work. See what your friends and family think, and pay attention - for random moments occur without notice, as discussed previously.


Enjoy the holiday season.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Days are Just Packed


Thanks to my Sister-in-Law Valerie (who has one of the youngest hearts I know) I have copy of the Calvin & Hobbes compilation that shares the title of this post. I truly love this pair of characters and was saddened when they stopped appearing on my Sunday Morning comic page. But so it is with all things, yet further testament to the notion of enjoying life while you are in it.

Speaking of which there is a veritable highlight reel swirling around every day, and the last few days have just been,,,well, packed. To start with, both of my college student children (Max and Stefani) returned home for the holiday on Wednesday afternoon. We played Sporcl together and were later joined by Kelsey, Cullen and Houser for the traditional festivities:

We opened with a 5k run benefitting the Loudoun County Abused Womens Shelter. We all got to wear pink gloves courtesy of my wife the ringleader.  Max won; Cullen's chip didn't register his awesome time; I managed to improve despite several bouts of walking; Miss B zoned on the ipod until the finish line came; Stefani gritted her teeth through the pain of an ankle brace; Kelsey did the same despite bone chips in her dislocated knee and Houser flashing us at the finish line - all captured by the family photographer, cheering section and ringleader.

After the race we savored the resplendent Cougar Gold cheese, sent across the country from the University of Washington. I also learned that Santa is always the last float of the Thanksgiving Day parade, thus signifying the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

We tossed the Pigskin. We enjoyed an excellent meal with more family and friends. We played Catch Phrase. We walked off the meal only so we could tamp more in.

Friday brought the trip to Randytown - 2 cars full of Christmas music, elf hats and reindeer antlers. Actually it was Lovettsville for tree hunting, nature walk, and photo-ops with lifesize cartoon characters. Although we followed the tradition of missing a turn, we were rewarded with an eagle sighting.

In the evening my movie buddy Stefani and I took in Harry Potter. Upon return home, more friends had arrived. A music video had been published and it was time for more games. I settled in to a book and some apple pie, having passed down a game that was "a symbol of a misspent youth" as my father used to say.

So we all have so much to be thankful for. The days are just packed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quality vs. Quantity


My good friend Sam gave me a book for my birthday called "One Month to Live". Funny. Actually the book poses an interesting challenge - 30 days to a regret-free life. The basic premise is that if you had one month to live, what would you do differently? Noting that the quantity of life we have is finite - but because we either don't want to acknowledge our mortality or perhaps because it may not be "in your grille" so to speak, we typically squander the time we have. We fail to look critically at ourselves and at the infrequent investments we make in the quality of our lives.

For example. I usually go out on the weekend for a fairly long bike ride. The distance covered often becomes the measure of the adventure, or how fast I covered it in. I soak up as much outdoors as I can - trees, streams and wildlife. It only figures the more miles traveled the more of that I can absorb, right? This weekend I decided to invest in ride quality - a much shorter ride, basically free-spinning and coasting as much as possible. Untimed. I decided I had time to explore off-pavement on a trail through a field with pine trees that wound down to Goose Creek and back again. When the ride was over, I took inventory.

The ride was good - I enjoyed it more than my usual ride. And I will accept the challenge. It may not be the brand new key to happiness, but I only have one pair of brand new roller skates. Thanks, Sam.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Early Exploration



Once upon a time children looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons for the entire week. Kind of like training for the real world. There were many odd shows that attempted to capture the attention of the meek, only to penetrate their unsuspecting subconscious minds with commercials, no doubt.

But most of the shows actually carried a social message of some type as well, in the form of a morality tale, parable or homile and I dare say we would be better off watching them than Grand Theft Auto but only time will tell. Rocky and Bullwinkle had a great format, featuring segments within the show like Fractured Fairly Tales or Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Via the Wayback Machine, Sherman would be tutored in Mr. Peabody's tongue-in-cheek improbable history.

In a similar format was King Leonardo and his Short Subjects. One of my favorite segments was Tooter Turtle, featuring Mr. Wizard the Lizard. Tooter would venture into the scene and tell Mr. Wizard of a place or someone he'd rather be and Mr. Wizard would oblige him by casting a spell and putting him there. The adventure always got Tooter into trouble, and he had to call out "Help me Mr Wizard!" at which time the famous incantation would be cast thus: "Drizzle, Drazzle, Druzzle, Drome, time for this one to come home!" And Tooter would be pulled back miraculously through the Cosmic Infidibulum in the nick of time. And upon his return, Mr. Wizard would give Tooter the same advice -


"Be what you is and not what you is not.
Folks that is what they is, is the happiest lot".

Most often one needs to explore to discover what one is. The Cosmic Infidibulum can be daunting and seems uncharted only to the untrained eye. Be fearless.
 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

One Moment Please


There are special moments in life that stand out among all others. Somehow etched deeply in the psyche, forever like they were only the moment before. Often one can look back and say - "that moment changed my life". Wouldn't it suck if you missed one because of Operator Error? If you weren't paying attention? Because you were not living in the moment? The moment is still there, but you cheated yourself - because when you know it's one of those moments while it's happening - for that instant - wow. You are aligned with the Cosmic Infidibulum.

I remember that night in Kennedy's in Blacksburg like it was yesterday. Looking up two flights of stairs I saw her. She smiled at me and somehow I knew. The night was in its infancy. My head was clear and there was no need to rely on plastic cup courage. My confidence lied in that moment - I knew she was the girl for me. I strode, nay - swashbuckled - my way up the stairs.

She appeared surprised at my bold, easygoing attitude but readily explained -  she was smiling at the person behind me.

It is often said - When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This is the moment of learning. Be ready. Keep a clear head so you'll recognize it. That night, I knew it was one of those moments. We'll celebrate 28 years this May.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Near Field Effects

Growing up in rural Maryland the bicycle was my primary mode of transportation until I was fortunate enough to drive. Being anywhere from 2-15 miles from anywhere I wanted to be, this led to many, many miles on the road and the need to be home by dark. And I never wanted to be wherever I was.

In all of those hours I learned to appreciate the solitude and joy in cycling that I could never find in running. The rhythmic, hypnotic pedaling; the bearing down for a long uphill grind; the rewarding breeze of the downhill coast, and a thing I call Near Field Effects.

There is a place about 3 meters in front of my handlebars where the pavement's coarse aggregate is always discrete. Look closer, and the particles join the rush streaking under the wheel, no longer individual. Like the stars as Captain Kirk pushes the Enterprise to Warp Speed, or snowflakes on your windshield at night. When the going gets tough I zone on this spot. I am able to trick my mind that uphill is downhill. I stay down waiting for the breeze to come, and lose track of everything else.

There is another place, just past where the Near Field Effects are, that I prefer. Here I can observe the beauty in the world around me, and I can avoid small children and potholes. And I don't like looking back - that can be really bad for your health.

I spend less time focusing on the horizon - for the path is hidden and there is not enough detail - and the details I can see may well be different when I get there.

So as I move in this stream I find the best place to be is right on my seat, but to have my mind between the Near Field Effects and the horizon, in the present. Here I can gratefully observe the world around me, and think about all the mud that didn't get to sit up and look around.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn Glory


"Lord, how the day passes!  It is like a life, so quickly when we don't watch it, and so slowly if we do."-- John Steinbeck.

In the fall the air is crisp and the leaves reveal their fantastic hidden glory. As I run down the lane one tree above all others seems the most fabulous, only to be outdone the following day by its neighbor. I'd like to freeze each one in time, at its peak color but that's beyond my control. And perhaps that is why we love them more, for we know their beautiful display is temporary and must be appreciated in its own time.

The trees are not in competition, and the display is not for our benefit. They are simply part of the glorious world, and so are we. Live life with purpose and remember the timing of your display is not in your control.

***
I owe my awareness of the above quote to Rob Sagar, a gifted and admirable young man who was taken from us all too quickly. I dedicate this posting to Rob, his compassion, courage and achievements.

The watercolor is Autumn Lane by Ronald Pratt (and if you'd like to upgrade your reading experience, visit Kristine at Wait In The Van, who inspired me to participate in a Product of Silence.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dominoes of Revenge

"An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind." - Ghandi
 
So if you happened to read yesterday's entry, you might have asked yourself "What the hell would make somebody think that doing something so screwed up was acceptable?" At least that's what I said. What WOULD make somebody ride their minibike down a gravel road at dusk? Unbelievable.

But seriously, that's probably what HE said when he hit the log I left there. These things happen sometimes. And sometimes, we do stop and ask "What did I do to deserve this?"

Once when I was about 10 or 11 I went camping with a couple of friends. This is where I first learned about behavior like this. The lesson, as you will see, was indelible. After setting up camp we were starting to get bored. We decided to walk up to the store and get some candy. And there we were, walking back along that 50 mph dual-lane rural highway, chewing bubble gum with a bag full of fireballs and Bazooka Joe, against traffic. And then.

It was like it happened in slow motion. I see this guy's arm hanging out the window. He's releasing what turned out to be the inner core of a golf ball. You know, about an inch-and-a-half in diameter, hard and bouncy. Kind of like a superball. I kept my eye on the ball and took the short hop RIGHT IN THE NUTS. And let me tell you friends, at 50 mph, a one hop superball really leaves a mark.

And for the record, I was able to pull myself together long enough to get the log off the trail and avoided "paying it forward". That day. It might have taken over 30 years, but hey - that golf ball was reeeally moving!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anger Management


instant karma's gonna get you

Hit the link above to hear John Lennon tell it like it is.
 
I used to be full of instant karma. It would pop up in the usual places - traffic, the grocery line, or even the time I was trying to observe this owl at dusk along a gravel road. Along comes someone riding a minibike. The owl takes off, and the minibike obliviously goes down the trail. So what do I do? Go into the woods and find the biggest log I can drag, and put it in the middle of the trail. At dusk. Nice. Yup, there's nothing like the sound of an abruptly halted minibike in the distance.
 
Sadly this is but one example of many less-than-proud moments in my past. For most of this "Mayhem" there are no amends possible. So I try to keep a lid on it. 
 
Unfortunately the other day I really got pissed off for the first time in about 7 months. Even though I was able to laugh at myself after an hour it took me until the next day to really get over it. Take it from John Lennon - Instant karma will kill you. So next time, take a deep breath. Step back from the situation and see the world whole. Play the tape all the way to the end.
 
And Yoko! Put that stupid blindfold back where you found it for chrissake! What are you trying to do, show everyone you can knit blindfolded? And you kids! Get off the damn shed!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cupboard Inventory


Nature or Nurture? People are pretty complicated animals. It doesn't help much that we think that we're smarter than most of the others. Can we outwit our genetic makeup? Not likely. And then there's what we learn along the way. When ingrained at an early age for whatever reason, learned traits get stored in your cupboard just as indelibly and it gets hard to tell whether they're genetic.  For example, I've never liked spiders and I'm an arrogant asshole. I'd like to think I've got a chance at fixing at least one of those.  

I've also always had an ingrained fear of failure. That generally has worked for me in individual endeavors, and so I've always looked at it as a healthy thing. But I've learned the hard way it can drive you to unhealthy extremes when an outcome will ultimately be failure and not necessarily through any fault of your own. Someone once told me there are times you have to fail, or people learn to always expect more and more even when it's unreasonable to do so. Unfortunately when plagued with this particular malady, it's hard to know when those times are.

Back to my cupboard. Wow, I see a lot of crap in there. Amidst the peanut butter, mac-n-cheese, and cereal I see expired sardines, fuzzy potatoes and of course, spiders. In other words - assets and liabilities. I know they're both in there, and I really want to get rid of those spiders. And if I can't see them, they certainly get pointed out for me now and then.

I don't mind when people ask "What's in your wallet?" necessarily, but I try not to look in other people's cupboards. It may be a lot easier, but it only distracts me from killin' my own spiders.

Oh. Yeah, I'm working on that other thing too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crime and Punishment


Over the past few years I have taken to restoring neglected bicycles so that they may once again lead a purposeful and useful existence. I have found that a little cleaning and tuning is all that is usually required for them to be reclaimed from the Isle of Misfit Toys, and I get great satisfaction in knowing someone is out rediscovering the joy of riding a bicycle.

In a recent adventure of finding a neighbor a bicycle, I offered to repair the Mom's flat tire. I awoke the next morning to find a bike parked in front of my garage. Assuming this was her bike (and the rear tire was flat) I proceeded to remove the wheel, pull the tube, inflate and submerge it to look for the offending puncture. But there was none! So - I checked the interior of the tire for thorns or the like and the rim for spoke projections. Nothing! So I put everything back as it was, inflated the tire, adjusted the brakes and test-rode it back to the neighbor's house. No one was home so I left the bike parked in front of her garage similar to how I found it at mine.

The next day Karin comes by and asks me where her bike is. Confirming that indeed it was her bike that I "fixed", she said she'd go home and check with her son - maybe he had taken it inside the garage. And then. Karin calls to inform me the bike has been stolen. The police are on their way. I feel terrible of course but she tries to put me at ease. After all, it was not my crime. I offer to come assist in filing the report as I can of course identify the bike quite accurately.

I pull down a spare bike from the ceiling and inflate the tires. I'll offer this bike to be used until hopefully we can find her bike. I swing around the curve and see the Sheriff's cruiser parked at the curb. I pull up into the driveway and...there's the bike! Wow! They must have found it overnight and were ready to return it to the rightful owner! 

Looking next door, I see Karin AT HER HOUSE talking to the officer. I call to her and point to the bike. Hey! Look! Here's your bike! The officer simply gets in his car and drives off with no further acknowledgment. Clearly he had met his match. The lunatic Dreyfus has nothing on me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Playing In Traffic



After playing on your side of the road for a while, I'm sorry to report that you may find your cubic foot of dirt to be...well, boring. You notice across the street the grass is much greener. However to get there you'll need to cross a very busy street and you are questionably prepared. Nonetheless you are either being called, shoved, or maybe simply following those before you.

Chances are you will look both left and right before stepping off but it matters little once in the maelstrom. I've had a few close calls. Near head-ons. Loss of control. Being towed from the side of a car at 36...37...38 MPH. What the hell was I thinking to let go at that point??? After more than a few head shots, my sense of direction returns. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it. I have to. I have a funny feeling there will be an old lady on the other side and I want to help her back across if I can.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Product of Silence



Fear
Mistrust
Resentment
Misunderstanding
Feigned Acceptance
Passive Aggressiveness

On the other hand, there is the CONE OF SILENCE. One of my favorite gags on Get Smart. When the Chief has something so ultra-secret to tell Max he cannot risk saying it in the open room. Enter the Cone of Silence. I think they tried it in the movie, but like so many of these campy, dated bits, they lose something in the translation or they're simply not funny the first time. But as a regular follower of Get Smart, once the gag was in place, you could wait for it, like waiting for Ziegfried to say, well anything. It comes to mind that such reminiscing (geezing) is probably like when my parents used to tell me how they would sit in front of the radio and wait for "classic" lines like "don't open the closet, McGee!" I guess you just had to be there.

While in Germany I was reading a comic strip at one of the sites I visited. It told of a tourist trying to buy postcards in some country that had no vowels in its name. Thinking it would help the merchant understand him better, he keeps raising his voice but saying the same thing (postcards!) over and over. No postcards for him. And typically, the Chief only got an aneurism from trying to use the Cone of Silence.

But in the "classic" movie Brother Orchid, Edward G. Robinson becomes revered for the quality of his garden and the money it brings to the monastery. Eventually he "comes clean" and tells his brothers he has been cheating them the entire time by paying others to do his work, and skimming the difference or some similar scam. He is truly guilt ridden and ashamed and his confession is difficult. After a few moments of silence as his confession is contemplated by the monks, he is simply accepted. Yet he cannot understand why. It is explained to him thus: 

"When one speaks from his heart, others must listen"

A Product of Silence, indeed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just So

I recall growing up in a time when there wasn't a lot to do at night. We had two black-and-white TVs. One console type (back in Grandma's room, which didn't get frequented too much because of reasons explained previously) and a portable one on a really cheesy metal stand with wheels. That way it could be wheeled to the screened porch, or the living room, where it usually was.

The day came when a color TV was purchased, and the old B&W was relinquished to the Dining Room where I was usually left to sit by myself and watch TV.  I Love Lucy and Gilligan's Island. Batman, Hogan's Heroes, Get Smart, and the Twilight Zone only came on once a week. No longer did I have to sit through my parent's shows for entertainment (News. COMBAT! More News. BONANZA. The Prisoner (WTF), or The Rifleman).

Easy to understand why I looked forward to Mom reading me a bedtime story. I think my favorite book was Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. In it were the most outlandish explanations for how things came to be as they are - like How the Elephant Got His Trunk, How the Rhinocerous Got his Skin and How The Leopard Got His Spots. It was a simpler time, in the high and far-off veldt, or on the banks of the great grey green greasy Limpopo River.

Imagine yourself in the midst of your own Just So Story. How did you come to be the way you are? Certainly not as important as where you are going, or how you will get there. For You are neither the Kangaroo nor is the World Yellow Dog Dingo (always chasing after you, always hungry, never getting nearer, never getting further, grinning like a coal scuttle - he had to!). But someday, Best Beloved, if you have enough time, there are no reruns on and if you have still not forgotten about the suspenders, I just may tell you of how The Rusk got his Thick Skull.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Choices We Make

One of my favorite characters in Seinfeld is George Costanza. Neurotic, insightful, a good foil and friend. Typically able to look at the issues of the day from his own perspective, and always able to put an unforeseen twist into the way you look at things.

In a classic episode, he decides that everything he's done in life to that point has got him to where he is. Not particularly insightful, but from there he decides to do the OPPOSITE of everything he would normally do and his life takes off in a series of unimaginable successes. Yet when we find ourselves in that situation, how often we cling to our comfortable, self-willed way of doing things.

Take for example the family football pool this week. Oh, I clearly saw the outcome of every game, boldly picked the winners and sat back waiting for the glorious accolades of my omniscience. Imagine my dismay when only 3 out of 15 turned out right. Ah, if only I would have done what George would have done. Or the opposite.Sometimes your own best intentions leave you not where you wanted to be, but always where you are.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Porta-God

I remember a most excellent sermon delivered by the late Reverend Jim Snow. Actually, all of his sermons were excellent but this one in particular stuck with me. It had to do with that feeling you get when you reach into your jeans and find a $5 bill. The gist of it was, that God is like that too. Found in unexpected places. I recall telling him on the way out that I knew exactly what he meant, that I had found him in me.

I always thought of God as being a big thing - after all, there's a lot of ground to cover. But recently I've been able to see God's work in all things, and to know that I carry him with me all the time. There is no token or chip or $5 bill, but he's there in my pocket nonetheless. I kind of like carrying God in my pocket. It's only fair since he's been doing it to me for a long time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Attention to Detail

Starting out, I wanted to try and get the big things right. I found the key to doing that was sweating a lot of small stuff. Before I knew it, big things were going pretty well. Tending to stick with what worked, more sweat was generated on small stuff and big things went on autopilot. Big mistake.

Sand castles are created from the organization of many small things, all part of the Whole, with a larger purpose in mind. You need a solid foundation and a vision, which can change during the course of construction. And once built, maintenance is required for it to "last". For all castles made of sand slip into the sea, but they are great fun while they last, built from small things but always a part of a much bigger thing - being at the beach.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Falling Down


New Pedals
Yesterday it was time to man up and install my clipless bike pedals. I'd been putting it off because I'd been told at first you always get your foot stuck when you need to get off, and fall right over. So of course, as advised, I practiced the night before while leaning against the wall. It seemed pretty easy.
And then.
As we stopped at a crossing, I anticipate the need to click out. Strangely, now I want to rotate my foot the other way. Then the right way. Then foot not coming out. Panic. Foot comes out, but leaning on opposite side and not moving. The result? I fell right over. At least I had the sense to roll and just take it on my back. Bridget said it was "gracefully done". I wasn't so sure.

It is said life isn't about falling down. It's about getting back up.  Don't be afraid to try new things or of falling down. And no matter how hard or how far you've fallen, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, rub some dirt on it, laugh at yourself and move on. Subsequent attempts to click out went without a hitch, and the ride is much better with clipless than without.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trash Talking

With the new NFL season ready to roll, the family pool is ready for 'adult free swim'. Unfortunately after week 1 (or maybe the first cannonball) the pool may be closed due to multiple Baby Ruth sightings. Each year contestants pit their prognosticating abilities against each other in a winner-take-all glory ride ending with a fabulous prize ceremony. Gene, why don't you tell the contestants what they'll be playing for?

Thaaat's right Bob, their name will be etched for all eternity in the "Because It's Football" trophy, the "Wide Left" pie tin and the "Bottom of the Barrel" likeness of... the bottom of a barrel. Unlike the Newlywed Game, prizes are NOT theirs to keep forever. They MUST be returned to the league office each season for recycling. Of course during their absence, they are coveted by their Owners who generally keep them proudly on display, to be envied by all. Some winners have been heard in their closets late at night, stroking their (treasure) while cooing "My Precious...". Yeah sure. you were polishing "your trophy".

And now a word from our sponsor. Did you ever stop to think what would happen if you never took out the trash? You keep generating it. It would build up until it would be like the Monk episode when the Sanitation Department went on strike in SF. Or worse, because it would be in your house. Life is like that too. Take out some trash today, and stop generating. Eventually, you'll have a clean house.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tattoo You

I spent a lot of time with my Mom growing up. She was pretty cool. She could do just about anything, had a subliminal way of teaching, and shared the joy of learning.

She taught me how to use a paintbrush with precision. As my brother and I were avid car model builders, this was a crucial skill since I was 3 years behind the learning curve. Mom would help me with the really tricky parts like putting custom trim stripes on the Batmobile and painting the Dynamic Duo in Green Hornet colors. Of course this was considered a Blasphemy at the time but later my vision has been discovered by action figure toymakers looking to pry additional nickels from children's pockets.

My Mom had skills. She was an exceptional seamstress, which was important if you were wearing recycled jeans, with an extended corduroy cuff to lengthen them and a tapered insert to make them bell bottoms. She made my brother and I the Errol Flynn dueling shirts out of some kind of satin. They were fitted, with a lapeled v-neck collar, flared sleeves with french cuffs. She made me a lined denim suit jacket with matching vest, and of course all kinds of ordinary things. All to help the tragically un-hip feel cool.

She was an artist in many ways. Patient and kind. She loved nature, a good joke, a job well done, a good book and later in life - golf. Like my Dad she tended to let us find our own way in life, which despite all example proved to be quite painful at times. I am fortunate to have known her, and even more so when I get glimpses of her traits that are indelibly etched on me. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Crossing the Streams

Life brings challenges. From standing up and walking to the last time you lie down. And as we capture each experience we define ourselves - the good, the bad and the ugly. We're typically not too worried about the good. Today's topic is how we deal with the bad and the ugly.

We have an innate ability to neatly store away all kinds of unsavory events, behaviors and shortcomings while we walk around like a Disney Character on Ice. How do we do that? Simply said, "when the light is green, the trap is clean." But store up too many and Lenny - when the grid shuts down, you're looking at a catastrophe of Biblical proportion.

If faced with life's problems that seem particularly difficult, it is not weakness to suggest crossing the streams. Ask for help. Sometimes one unlicensed nuclear particle accelerator is just not enough.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Opulence, I has It

This has got to be one of my favorite commercials of all time. I don't know what I like more, the opening line, (see title), "I jump in It" or the miniature giraffe. Nuff said.

Clearly the man is able to make choices.  My father always said he worked to provide us with choice. To me this remains as one of the most altruistic and succint statements regarding work, family and purpose. Oddly enough it is an old german saying that "where there is choice, there is torment". An enlightened statement to be sure, but it was Edgar Guest who said:

"You are the person who has to decide. Whether you'll do it or toss it aside;
you are the person who makes up your mind. Whether you'll lead or will linger behind. Whether you'll try for the goal that's afar. Or just be contented to stay where you are."

Perhaps the saying should be:
"Mit der Wahl, kommt Qual. Ohne Verantwortung, mehr". 
Reduce your torment. Seek not the miniature giraffe.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

Think about how you see the world and yourself the next time you look in the mirror. Everything appears in perfect clarity. Yet there are probably lots of things in the world that seem totally bizarre to you - they might include things like war, poverty, or why the Kardashians merit their own TV show.

In a way the reflection of the world as you see it is like your special Fun House Mirror. There you are, perfectly normal in the middle of it, with the world as you see it pretty jacked up in places. Of course, in your mirror you are perfectly normal.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have moments of clarity, where the distortions of the Fun House Mirror are removed. That doesn't mean everything aligns with your particular viewpoint, but perhaps you are able to see things as they really are. Including yourself. But even when we are living with right mind, and with right purpose, distortions can creep back in.

Keep an open mind. Beware of distortions. And beer goggles.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pass the Dilithium

When Scotty offers the strained appeal "She's breaking up Captain!", it usually followed the urgent report "I'm giving her all she's got!"

In Blade Runner, the replicant Roy yearns to discover his pre-programmed termination date, and to see if it can be extended. He eventually corners his creator who tells him "The candle that burns twice as brightly burns half as long. And you Roy, have burned so very, very brightly." After informing him that the date cannot be altered or revealed, Roy crushes his skull in his hand. Nice.

When you're out of the blue, and into the black, the sage Neil Young opines: "It's better to burn out...than to fade away" (or to rust for that matter).

And even Weird Al Yankovic said "I'll have plenty of time to be laid back when I'm six feet underground."

Rust never sleeps, but I go to bed at 10 now. Usually. Hey hey, my, my.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Relativity

Why must every generation think their folks are square?
And no matter where their heads are they know minds ain't there?
Well I swore when I was small that I'd remember when
I knew what's wrong with them, but I was smaller then...

Well I know now that all I´ve learned my kid assumes
And all my deepest worries must be his cartoons
And still I´ll try to tell him all the things I´ve done
Relating to what he can do when he becomes a man
And still he´ll stick his fingers in the fan

Courtesy of John Sebastian, with minor liberties.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Bridge Too Far

Invest in your relationships. Reach out to a friend from days gone by - it's like no time has passed. But much has happened in between. Cultivate the relationships you have today - one day you will reach back, and you'll want it to be like no time has passed.

Across the gorge, distances more often grow with time. But like continental drift, you hardly notice until it's an ocean apart. And suddenly, there's not enough time to build the bridge. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swarm Ball vs. The Beautiful Game

In my brief tenure as youth soccer coach, I no doubt had the opportunity to observe the great players of the future. Second only to the many hours of quality time was the pleasure of watching their game grow with them. On the youngest team I ever coached was a player whose inseam was slightly less than the ball diameter. Hardly the time to teach the "Stanley Matthews".

Yet they all loved the game. At first all they knew was a phenomenon known as "Swarm Ball". Where the ball went, so went the team. The only real game changer was the "Breakaway", which at that age was more like hitting fly balls to yourself. As they got a little older, the often-practiced passes would appear. Whether by accident or fear, there were results. And in those players who paid attention, you could see the filament begin to glow.

And suddenly it would burn brightly. A few members would learn that to win, you needed to "create space". A novel concept when you think about it. Move without the ball, and away from the ball. Draw your opponent out. Dilute the defense. Exploit the space created by your teammates. And perhaps most importantly, trust your teammates to play their positions.

Life imitates soccer. Create your own space. But in doing so, you don't need to be alone in your space. You define it. And you need teammates.

And don't get me started about "The Tornado". Seen on the field of valor only twice that I recall. You saw it coming, kind of. You got anxious thinking "here it comes". And then it happened. A jockstrap left on the field a meter or so behind the broken player, and a breakaway leading to an in-tournament goal. The peasants rejoiced. And so did the "coach".

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Phantom

There were always certain super-heroes that were not actually that super, but they were peculiar enough to warrant their own comic despite their lack of typical qualifications. These were guys like Zorro or the Lone Ranger, Mandrake the Magician or even...The Phantom.


What made them peculiar? Well, they had sidekicks. Or a "posse". Maybe a cool car. They might have lived in a cool place like Skull Mountain or chose to run around in spandex (granted, kind of questionable). At least the Lone Ranger and The Phantom had enough sense not to have a cape, unlike Synchro.


Anyway, today's fable is not so much about these guys but about what they stood for, which is generally speaking, doing the right thing. And the Phantom Leaf Effect.

When you choose to work on your character defects, sometimes you might be lucky enough to leave some behind. How far behind you are they really? Like the Phantom Leaf, most of the structure is still probably there. But as bad as the defect might have been to you, in the kirlian lens it has beauty. For one never knows when a shared experience can help another person tortured by the same defect. So today I'll remain grateful for my experiences - the wheat and the chaff. I ask for the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heading North Double Feature

It is said that if you look at a cloud long enough, it will eventually look like... something. 
Recently the evening sky has been angry my friend. But given a dry vantage point I find myself able to appreciate the structure of the clouds, the turbulence in the atmosphere and the interaction of the sunset. Sometimes I'm caught in the storm, but I can still look for silver linings and rainbows. There is great majesty in nature. And if you look long enough you'll see the...clouds.


As I ride to the west beneath the power lines and between the hedges, I think of one of my favorite passages (from E.B. White's Stuart Little). Stuart is lovesick for the lost bird Margalo, and describes her to the Lineman in case he should run across her:
"She comes from fields once tall with wheat, from pastures deep in fern and thistle; she comes from vales of meadowsweet, and she loves to whistle."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What Me Worry

Back in the days when there was no internet, the world was in black and white. Contrary to popular belief, discouraging words were sometimes heard on the range. Frequently when one was trying to get homework done. And some of the most discouraging words were "go look it up". There's two expressions I grew up with.

In the back room of our house, made bizarre for a long time because my grandmother died in her sleep there, was a wall of books from floor to ceiling. It seemed one could always go back in there when bored, expecting to find something of exceptional value, lost in the sea of time and knowledge, only to be rediscovered. Or just start climbing the shelves.

Rarely would one be disappointed with anything except the weird way the book would smell. Books on nature, the sciences, how-to books on drawing, building or whatever, great and not-so-great literature (all of the Harvard Classics were there, saved from the Great Cleansing by my son), books in foreign languages, and of course the World Book. Yes, the mother of all encyclopedias. There was even another, more crusty encyclopedia and several ridiculously heavy dictionaries because you can't believe everything you read, and maybe because my father in particular seemed to stockpile just about everything.

Perhaps the most glorious discovery was a 1955ish paperback book called "Utterly Mad". Alone amidst the tattered tomes, it was unlike anything I had ever seen! An actual book full of parody and satire, with graphics nothing like all of the comics I read "religiously". It was read and re-read a hundred times. For the next 7 years the majority of my hard-earned cash went to my MAD magazine subscription and collection of as many of the publications I could afford. Perhaps a sleeping giant was awakened that day. I had discovered my calling. I am a smart-ass.

In general this provided me with a cheery outlook on life. I was even convinced for some time the only real purpose of an education was so one could "get" more jokes. But I recognized my audience early when I learned the more high-brow the joke, the more fallow the field it would land in. Unfortunately a lot of the more appreciated jokes seem to be at the expense of others, even when no harm is intended. One can easily lose sight of this while being a smart-ass, and feelings have undoubtedly been stepped on. As Jacob Marley said, "These are the Chains I Forged in Life".

So if I get the chance, I'll try to make amends. I can't very well escape being a smart-ass at this point, and I pretty much refuse to stop looking for the comic relief in life. But I'm trying to be more sensitive of other's feelings, make sure there are no judgments embedded in the jokes, and to remember there's a lot more to laugh at if I just look at myself more often.

Oh and there was one other glorious thing that happened in that room: my brother and I watched the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. In black and white, of course.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Three Hour Tour

Yesterday was charter fishing trip day. Although there were not too many fish biting the boat ride was good, the company great, and the diversity of creatures was exceptional. Flounders, Skates, Croakers, a small sand shark and a starfish were all brought aboard to delight the intrepid fishermen. We cast our lines behind the boat with great hope and a reasonable amount of patience. The weighted hooks dragged along the bottom structure and occasionally teased out a nibble or two. We would float and bob along with the waves and test the line to be sure we were still in the game.

We were adrift in the Sea of Time. A vast membrane without boundary, rippling with peaks and valleys yet continuous even when disturbed. Sometimes anchored, sometimes leaving a broad wake, but always moving even when one seems to be relatively stationary. Garbage and treasure are both afloat and below. One must navigate carefully to find safe harbor.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Karaoke Night

Hell-o? Is this thing turned on?
Fireworks on the beach rules.
Especially when they explode right over your head.
It's a good thing there is an ocean breeze so the ashes don't fall on you, as I have had the misfortune of experiencing.
Stefani's camera has a 'Fireworks Mode' that does a pretty good long-shutter speed and no flash exposure.
Pam likes taking pictures.
She has a pretty good 'Fireworks Mode' herself, as I learned when I mentioned that Stefani's camera had a special setting for fireworks, and she should just use her pictures.
Yes, the spark is still there.
That's why I can't do 2 shows a night any more folks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beast of Burden

Is time your Avenger?
Or a beast of burden?
I do know one thing...It waits for no one.
And it won't...wait for me.

And now, just for fun:
Look, there's a signpost up ahead...
Egad, it's another Bermashave commercial?
No wait...
Drink
More
Ovaltine?
What kind of a crummy secret decoder is this?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Time the Avenger

Recently I watched a couple of PBS shows - "Parallel Universes" and an episode of "Through the Wormhole". Afterward, I thought of time as a force we are all being exposed to. Driving in this morning, I listened to the Pretenders' song - Time the Avenger. I note that nothing really parlayzes the "tick, tick, tick",  that Chrissie may have some underlying issues and in the words of another sage prophet, "rust never sleeps". Treat yourself to a listen of this most excellent tune if you get the chance because it's got bounce, and in the meantime, enjoy the lyrics. (Copyright by EMI Music Publishing, written by Chrissie Hinde):

Nobody’s perfect
Not even a perfect stranger
But oh what a gal
She was such a perfect stranger
And you’re the best in your field
In your office with your girls
And desk and leather chair
Thought that time was on your side
But now it’s time the avenger

Nobody’s permanent
Everything’s on loan here
Even your wife and kids
Could be gone next year
And with what you have left
You’ll be forever under pressure
To support her
And a lover who looks strangely
Like time the avenger

Time, time hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city
Time, one more vodka and lime
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick, tick

Nobody’s perfect
Not even a perfect gent
When your property took the a train
I wonder where your manners went
You were standing in the station
In your briefcase
Was your aftershave and underwear
Can you hear the whistle blow?
Sounds like time the avenger

Time, time hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city
Time to kill another bottle of wine
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick, tick

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Adventures in Early Retirement

Friday was a day to celebrate early retirement. Thanks to Sousan who found the groupon to the Cameron Hills Golf Links in King George Virginia, my friend Bob and I were treated to unlimited golf subject only to the constraints of daylight and the scramble outing that clogged the course for a short period in the afternoon. Rising before dawn we ventured south for the opening tee time of 9:10.

It was Bob who first introduced me to this novel concept of early retirement. Most of us think of it as stopping regular work weeks before age 65, with the "goal" of seeing how much before then you can pull that off. But a couple of years ago Bob took the day off to meet me for a round of golf on my birthday and he explained it differently. That day, and every day you take off while still working was early retirement. It's hardly like you are robbing the future. You might even live longer as a result. You'll certainly be more sane.

There's a real sense of accomplishment in this approach. You've reached your "goal" earlier than you would have imagined. Even though just for one day, it's a state of mind you can carry with you every day. And after all, you've only got the day at hand. As for other accomplishments, the competition was better than the golf as a whole. Bob was able to show his mental toughness to sweep the tiebreaking final 9 holes (of 45), and he did manage to summon a shake & bake 95. There was but one birdie - a scarlet tanager.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Diamonds in the Rough

I remember an ancient Superman TV episode starring George Reeves where to appease the natives he (as Clark Kent) reached into the quicksand with a lump of coal in his hand and squeezed it until he plucked out a perfect, fist sized diamond. The peasants rejoiced, and Lois and Jimmy were spared the kettle. I knew this was remotely possible, because after all..."pressure makes diamonds".

Unless the diamond is cultured or lab-created, it will have naturally occurring flaws embedded within it knowns as occlusions. These are in effect shortcomings of the perfect diamond. Diamonds can't remove their flaws. If we look closely enough at ourselves, we can see many of our flaws and even do something about removing them. We'll never get them all, but we should have the courage to remove those we can.

In writing this post I couldn't recall if the right term was occlusion. Turns out inclusion often gets used interchangeably. I stumbled across a pretty cool blog that I'll share:

http://occludedsun.wordpress.com/

Oh, and in case you didn't know, George Reeves ended up painting the wall with his brains. Too much pressure I guess.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Windows on the World

In the movie "Repo Man" it was said that the more you drive, the less intelligent you are. This week I had to take a defensive driving course online for work. There were a lot of things worth thinking about in the course, but I thought I'd share some of the highlights:

"Drive for Five" Picture your car in the left lane of a 2-lane road. Cars are in front of your position and behind you in both lanes, and there is a car next to you in the other lane. These 5 drivers can have a major influence on you, and the way you drive affects them. Name the 5 people that matter most to you, and think of them as the drivers to 'personalize' it. I went with Wilma, Barney, Betty, Pebbles and Bam-Bam, mostly because I didn't want to leave anyone out. Mr. Slate was not named. Who are your five?

"There are no winners and losers in driving." Driving aggressively to 'get ahead in line', speeding, tailgating and letting people know you think they are "Number One" actually turns control over to someone else who you already thought was incompetent. It also turns out that your chances of dying in an accident double for every 10 mph over 55. That's 2x at 65 mph, 4x at 75 mph.

And finally, some classics from growing up on the annual drive to Rochester to see my grandparents. I think this lasted until I was 7 or 8. Courtesy of Bermashave:

"Don't stick your elbow out to far, or it will go home in another car"

"As you go through life brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye on the donut, and not on the hole."

The only winners are those that arrive at their destination safely. So, where do you want to go today? How about tomorrow?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Defining what IS is

Sometimes when I'm lucky, I have dreams where I can either fly or breathe underwater. I think I owe the latter to scuba lessons, but I'm not sure where the former comes from. There's nothing like soaring through the air or water, effortlessly looking over the landscape from a vantage point not usually your own. And the freedom.

These dreams can be very lucid. Enjoying the ride, I suddenly experience the desire to fly higher or faster, and just with that I lose the ability. I can't understand it. I guess a lot of dreams are that way when you wake up. So is life. It seems like a very coherent experience, a beautiful thing when experienced as a whole, but when examined closely there are all sorts of loose ends that don't tie it together.

And when you try to define what IS is, it's too late. It was. See what is. Don't spend too much time defining or you might find yourself unable to fly.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!!!!

Take the high road.
Do a good deed daily. Try it without the other person finding out.
Call 3 friends you haven't spoken to in a while.
Get outside of your head and connect with the god of your understanding.

Then, tear off your jersey (optional), run to the sideline, undulate wildly as you motion to the crowd like a cowboy slapping his horse with one hand while shooting his six-gun with the other.
Finish with 180-degrees worth of "water sprinkler".

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mary Mary and the smell of Victory

When I was growing up in the 60's there was a practice known as "tree-hugging". Typically used today as a derogatory term for a particular brand of radical environmentalists, few may realize that it was actually something people did to get in touch with nature. Oddly enough I remember my father of all people having quite a relationship with the huge oak tree in our front yard. He tried all the trees in the yard, but he connected best with that particular tree.

Perhaps this is where I subconsciously developed a notion that relationships were somewhat like living things such as plants or trees. I envisioned that important relationships could be symbolized by strong and healthy trees - disease, drought and storm resistant, capable of providing habitat for many small creatures. Over time, I expected to have a forest of sorts, with a high canopy of varied species, capable of providing shade but also allowing a filtered light to fall to the forest floor, where a richly foliated understory grew ferns, smaller flowering trees and wildflowers at the forest edge.

One should not be surprised that noxious weeds and other exotic invasives could infiltrate the forest if careful attention to detail and regular maintenance is not performed. This can be done by the Vine Vigilante through meticulous gardening or a generous but carefully applied dose of Round-Up. Even the most pleasant flowering shrubs and wildflowers need to be dead-headed once in a while to keep them healthy. But there is no need for napalm.

Today I will continue to do some weeding but also take the time to watch the boughs sway in the breeze, relishing the filtered light shining through the canopy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Smoky the Bear Plays Golf

I have a plaque that reads "in golf, as in life, it's the follow-through that makes the difference".

One thing about golf. Every time you address the ball you have to think the greatest shot of your life is going to happen. Every time. More often than not for me the resulting shot is far from it. A split-second loss of concentration, lack of 'commitment' to the shot, or simple operator error in the mechanics leaves you in the woods searching for a ball, dropping one next to the lake, or taking a few steps and trying again.

Another thing about Golf. It is "a game of recovery". Recognizing this makes it easier to keep your head in the game after a less-than perfect shot and lets you appreciate having the "opportunity" to recover. And of course, one must follow through.

Everyone has issues. Some are "burning issues" and others are "garden variety issues", but we all have them. Some you can do something about, others you can't, and some you can't even see. Today I'll pray for courage and wisdom, and remember Smoky's motto.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Building or Burning

Today I needed to get outside of my head, so I set out for a bit of a longer ride. The destination: the western end of the W&OD trail in Purcellville, about 21 miles one way. The weather complied, and I set off into the climbing hills. Somewhere around Leesburg, I recalled something a wise man once said - You spend all this time building your barn. Then you burn it down. Sometimes the gods burns it down for you. You rebuild it. That's what we do - it restores our sanity. As Jimi Hendrix once said, "And so castles made of sand, melt into the sea...eventually". Even still, I choose to build rather than burn.