Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Capricious Creativity

Two summers ago I was drawing and painting almost every day. Last summer I was not in the mood but missed art. I have tried to get back into it on a number of occasions. It didn't work. I have felt a connection between my art and writing. When I can draw or paint, writing seems to come more easily. I tried to force myself to draw, and of course that didn't work either. A few days ago, the urge to draw suddenly returned and I am getting back in the habit, making me feel better and also contributing to my writing ease. Like many other things in life, this remains a mystery to me. I guess it is just up to me to accept the vagaries of my mind and its inclinations.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Where Did All the Time Go

I remember taking a walk with my Uncle Bob when I was thirteen. I was telling him of the get-togethers I attended as a young child and how I missed those times. He told me that time passes and so do everyone's priorities. It was time to move on and enjoy a different part of my life. I was reassured but somewhat saddened. Now many years later, I still think back to all that has happened over the years and all the times I miss now. I specifically thought of the years when I had a sailboat and the days I spent sailing on Lake Ontario. They are fond memories but it is a little nostalgic to realize they are in the past now. But maybe it is these memories which keep us going and encourage us to add new memories.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Foray Into Politics

I don't usually write about politics. I find the whole field confusing and subject to endless debates which usually don't produce anything conclusive or widely agreed upon. I have been thinking about this "surge" idea, trying to make sense of it. So far I haven't. I did think this morning about a quote I saw on a plaque coming off the elevator of a chemical dependency treatment program. It read "If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got." My recollection is that this statement was originally developed to apply to business. I have since found that it applies to chemical dependency as well as many other areas of life. I think it also applies to surges. Adding more troops to do the same things that have been shown to be disastrous does not accomplish much except adding to the pile of body bags. It seems very much like the increasing troop levels during the Vietnam war which never seemed to accomplish anything positive. I do agree with President Bush that if anyone has a better idea, it should be voiced. Unfortunately I don't have one, but I hope someone does or that those elected to lead our country can get together and think of one.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Slow Motion

Last week I felt like my mind was operating in slow motion. Fortunately it recovered. This week I am wrestling with a cold and my body feels like it is now in slow motion. While not actually plodding through molasses, it sure feels like it. Maybe it takes weeks like this to appreciate my body and mind and how well they usually work in tandem so I can accomplish what I want to. I apologize to my body and mind for taking them both for granted. I know I don't operate on automatic pilot, but when things go smoothly, it seems to be an occupational hazard of living to ignore what is going on behind the scenes. The drama of our lives is not a simple one and consists of much more than is obvious, even to ourselves.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cooperation or Confrontation

I was reading this morning about the likely presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. The column was by a conservative writer. I was surprised to see enthusiasm on his part for anything smacking of the Democratic Party. After his initial enthusiasm, he went on to list some of his positions which were diametrically opposed to those of conservative Republicans. He wondered how Obama could compromise on these issues. I have been thinking for quite a while that this country needs a person who would listen to others and find ways for us all to cooperate. No one of this nature appeared on the horizen until Mr. Obama came onto the scene. I don't know how he will be able to meld opposite positions and get us to work together. But he is the first politician who has expressed any interest in doing so in recent years. It gives me hope that it will be possible for us as a country to work together again for a change.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gaining Momentum for the New Year

I enjoyed the Christmas season very much. In the process I slacked off from my usual work schedule. Now that winter is actually here, I am ready to get back into the groove. Unfortunately it's not so easy. I have found that writing is more of a struggle these days. I don't think I have writer's block. I am able to write but just not with the facility and ease I had before. Maybe my writing habit has slipped and I need to work to get back into it. I had a dreaded thought earlier this day that I might have written all I have to say. Hopefully that is not the case. I have very much enjoyed writing over the past few years and would hate to have to find something else to do.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Walking in Another's Shoes

The title of this post is a phrase used to suggest a way to get to know how someone else thinks in order to understand his or her life. I have thought of it in another way. Sometimes you find yourself stuck every time you find yourself in a particular situation. You might have trouble figuring out what to do no matter how hard you think about it. You could ask for help, but you might not know who to ask or might be to embarrassed. Here's another idea. Think of someone you know who has faced the same situation and handled it well. Pretend you are that person the next time the situation faces you and act as that person would. If you are not sure what he or she did, try to observe him or her the next time it happens. You don't always have to understand what you are doing before you do it. By acting as the other person would, it might all might start making sense to you in the process.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Obese Children

I read this morning about a grant to address the problem of childhood obesity. I got to thinking what it takes to address a difficult problem. Like most such issues, there is no simple solution or it would have been tried already. The environment, our cultural history, our current customs, advertising, limited exercise and our way of life in general are all contributors as well as other factors I could not think of readily. Like many issues, money alone will not solve this one. It will take a critical look at how we live and what we can do differently.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Following in the Footsteps of Those Who Went Before

Sometimes we act as if we need to learn everything by ourselves. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that we are not the first people who walked the earth. We tend to do things the hard way. Maybe it is from our sense of pride. But there are very few new problems in life. Technology might change, but people tend to act as they always did even if they have some new tools. We learn about history to see what others have made of mankind and read novels to get a better understanding of the human condition from a fantasy point of view. Most of us have ancestors, living relatives and friends who can teach us ways to understand our lives if we take the time to listen to them. We are never alone in life even at times when we feel out on a limb with no support. The psychiatrist Jung wrote about the collective unconscious. We can be in touch with the learning of others through our relationships, reading and yes even the internet.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ready, Fire, Aim

At one time I thought that only people with ADHD were impulsive. I have since discovered that world leaders can act the same way. Acting without a clear goal or strategy has embroiled us in the Iraq debacle with little sense of how to extricate ourselves from a mess we have created by trying to mold a country and its people into our own image despite their inclinations. While the Iraqis certainly did not like being ruled by a tyrant, they most certainly do not like having become a center of violence, often turned against each other. We do not seem to be used to taking our time to find reasonable approaches. We wish immediate solutions which often end up causing further problems. I wish there were an easy solution, but one does not seem evident yet.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Wonders of Technology

I have been struggling lately to produce a DVD from film I took with my digital camera. Wrestling not only with all the various terms but the intricacies of digital formats and mechanics is enough to try my patience. Sometimes it is a challenge, but often it is drudgery. I end up spending more time figuring out what to do than I do in actually accomplishing anything. I suppose the technological challenge keeps my brain sharp. But sometimes I would rather spend my time just being creative- drawing, painting or writing with an actual pen. I don't usually think of myself as a Luddite, but sometimes I wonder about the advantages of the digital age. They make what we do faster and easier to disseminate but also seem to eviscerate the creativity, thought and emotion that goes into our work. E-mail is an example of quick, direct and cheap communication but omits the physical style, nuance and inflection of the written or spoken word. I have wondered whether there might be a way to restore these embellishments to digital communication.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Guerrilla Living

I just received a copy of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. The book is about how writers can market their work without huge resources by concentrating on the little things that can make them successful. It occured to me that the same is true of life. I remember thinking "If I only had..." It is easy to identify things which can be used for excuses not to accomplish our goals. We can sit and wait until our wish comes true and not feel we are wasting our time. After all, how could we accomplish anything until... I am learning that If I want to get anywhere, I have to get moving with the resources I have, network with people who can help me and learn what works for others in my situation. See you at the finish line!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A New Day Every Five Minutes

I was talking recently with a friend about his mother who has Alzhiemers. He told me that for her it is like having a new day every five minutes. Everything which took place before then had been lost from her mind. I got to thinking what it would like to have no lasting memory of recent events. I think there are good and bad aspects, not that anyone has a choice. We would not have the cherished memories we might have had otherwise but then would not realize we were missing them. Anything we did not like would soon be gone from our awareness, making it hard for us to harbor resentments. I guess everything in life has its pros and cons.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Am I a Senior Yet?

I have been wondering lately if I am a senior citizen yet. AARP thinks I have been since I was fifty. That was a little unsettling although I have benefitted from some of their insurance programs. More recently I have been in somewhat of a quandry about senior discounts. Some start at age 55, some at 60, some at 62 and some at 65. I bought some tickets not too long ago which had a senior discount available. I asked what constituted a senior. The clerk scratched her head and asked, "Do you feel like a senior?" I did at the moment and walked away with my discounted ticket. I am sixty-four today and starting my last year in senior limbo. At my next birthday I will be an official senior by all accounts. I haven't decided yet how I feel about that.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Look for Your Silver Sword

Sometimes the most spectacular events in nature occur where least expected. I remember making my way to the top of Haleakula Crater in Maui and unexpectedly came across the Silver Sword plant which grows only in remote locations such as at the top of dormant volcanoes. In general, being at the top of the crater was like standing on the moon, or at least what I imagine that experience to be. There in the midst of the desolate but still breathtaking expanse grew isolated examples of the Silver Sword plant which is quite rare and endangered. I think life is like this too. Even when everything around us appears desolate, there is something worth admiring and enjoying if we take the time and effort to look for it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Further Thoughts on Natural Law

An anonymous reader shared his perception of natural law as "the laws of nature and the universe without the intervention of man and his interpretation." I think this is a good way to put it. An example would be the law of gravity or ocean tides. They work whether we think they should or want them to. They are just there. Maybe I was confused by people arguing about what the natural law means in their interpretation and presuming to speak for God. We don't need to decide whether there are such things as gravity or tides. They are pretty obvious. How God means us to act seems to me to be a matter of interpretation and should probably be called something other than natural law.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hitting the Ground Running

I was just beginning to enjoy a little holiday relaxation when I realized the new year was underway and it was already January 3. I always feel some urgency to get on with my activities when I get back to normal, whatever that is for me in any given year. I think it dawned on me this morning when I found myself back in the gym with everyone else who had been taking it easy. I have learned some things about mementum in the past year. I found that exercise as well as writing are easier when I make them a habit. I don't have to wrestle with myself each day to do something I am used to doing. I also realized the truth of the old Latin adage, "Mens sana in corpore sanu (a sound mind in a sound body.)