March 25, 2019
Life: What Are You Trying To Teach Me?
If nothing else, six weeks away from these pages has given me plenty of time for reflection. On what? Oh, things like the powers of materialism and competition to complicate my life. On the desperately sad state of our public community and concern for others. On the importance of savoring every moment I am still on this earth. On God and spirituality and religion. On the pure joy of a simple, sunny afternoon with a good book to energize me.
Feeling blessed, with love of family and friends, knowing there is a financial foundation that will sustain Betty and me, opportunities to find ways to make my corner of the world a little less hateful and hurtful to others, and a fresh appreciation for allowing a day to unfold without forcing it into a particular direction have all risen to the surface.
Reading is a very important part of my life; it feeds and stimulates me. During this month and a half I was looking for both entertainment and writings that would force me to think a little deeper about things that are important. With much more free time, rarely did I not have a book nearby. Examples? Thank you for asking:
*The Litigators - John Grisham (pure escapism from a master)
*Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman (interesting fantasy concept)
*The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah (couldn't put it down..a must read)
*Everything Belongs - Richard Rohr (He answers my questions)
*The Lost Girls of Paris - Pam Jenoff (well-written historical fiction)
*A Bigger Table - John Pavlovitz (the need for a different religious definition)
*Amusing Ourselves to Death - Neil Postman - (what have we become?)
*Reconciliation - Benazir Bhutto (written just before she was assassinated)
*The Ragged Edge of Night - Olivia Hawker (another historical fiction novel)
and, I re-read these:
Choosing Simplicity - Linda Pierce (reaffirmation)
Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritual Independent - Rami Shapiro (gave words to what I was questioning and feeling)
On the more physical side, Betty and I planted a vegetable garden, a first for us. Strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, carrots, watermelons and cantaloupe went into the soil in mid February. Hopefully, things will mature and be part of our salads by late April. If we are pleased with the results, the Phoenix climate will allow us to put in another batch this fall. I had a little more time for bike-riding and we both joined a new gym that is less than 5 minutes away; travel time is no longer an excuse.
Most importantly, it became obvious I was ready to experience of change of direction, a change in attitude. Time away from a routine, whether it is six weeks, 6 days, or even 6 hours, can clear away a lot of the mental clutter we all accumulate. What society says is important can be assessed with fresh eyes. Decisions on how to spend one's time become clearer. The carryover from a life of productivity and constantly moving up the ladder doesn't have to continue, if that is best for now.
To that end, I determined I am ready to take life easier. I found the time is past when I am really interested in constantly pushing for new hills to climb or setting ever more ambitious goals. I found I am happy with where my life has taken me and what I have accomplished. I am not at the "Watching the Wheels" stage that John Lennon sang about. But, I don't mind if my own journey proceeds at a slower pace than it did. I am hard-wired to keep learning. I want to "collect" new experiences, new ways of being me. But, I don't feel the need to rush.
Carlo Petrini, the originator of the Slow Food movement, said, "The art of living is learning how to give time to each and everything."
And, I am happy to be back writing!