Reflection Day 2016

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Today is Reflection Day, and as we Americans do (in numbers to embarrassing to list), we take this day to reflect upon the past and make decisions that will impact our future, and the future of generations to come.

img-004It was morning time when I made my decision. I stepped out of my house and a crisp surge of air filled my lungs, snapping me to alertness. The sun shined brightly despite the temperature, sharing its abundance of vitamin D enriched optimism. I decided to drive around town and take in the day before I started my work.  I wanted to linger in a positive feeling that I had done my part to help provide a decent and promised-filled life complete with fairness, equality, and happiness for everyone.

During my drive, my mind wandered to philosophical thoughts, and some old adages (as opposed to new adages) entered the equation that I was forming inside my brain. The first adage was “knowledge is power.”

I smiled, agreeing with this notion.  I gave myself a mental pat on the back, knowing that Iimg-001 tried to use knowledge to make my decision today. It was a good and positive feeling that kept in line with my positive day.  Then, the second adage crept into my head, knocking me off kilter.

“Ignorance is bliss.”

What was I to do?  What did it mean?”  Did the two statements, when put together, harbor a foreboding message? My day began to unravel.

Did the sentences contain a warning for me? Did I have to choose between power and blissfulness? Surely the two could co-exist, couldn’t they? But it’s impossible to be both knowledgeable and ignorant – isn’t it?

Perhaps, not.

img-003I have completed school, and yet I have a burning passion to learn new things every day – and I do. I can get all the information I need to know from books, my computer, and the evening news. And I can close a book, disconnect from the internet, and turn off the evening news when they start telling me about the latest fender-bender in Sri Lanka, or the commercials warn me that I will contract 10 diseases in the next 2 years, so I better ask my doctor for another pill. I can learn whatever else I need to know by LIVING.

Do I want to bury my head in the sand simply to be happy?  No. That would be selfish, unfair to everyone I come across during the course of my life, and a waste of human potential. So what is the answer?

The answer is found in the task that we are all called upon to do: acquire the power of img-005knowledge but use it in a blissful way. Steer clear of the trappings of negativity, as they only provide a false, empty bliss. Use knowledge that is love-focused and bliss shall follow.

This is my thought on this Reflection Day 2016.  May all your knowledge be centered in love, and all your decisions be wise. And now I am off to seek more blissful knowledge.

The Creepy Guy in the Doctor’s Waiting Room

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I don’t usually pay attention to the people around me at the doctor’s office.  It makes me uncomfortable, and has even been known to spawn panic attacks.

I do not look at these people and I try equally hard not to listen to them. I do not want to hear how bad their liver is, how bad their finger is infected, or what organs might pop out of them at any moment. All I want to do is to hide in my cocoon until they call my name.  This is how I cope.

Another thing that helps me is taking something with me to do.  I either take a book to read or a pad and pen with which I can write.  And that is what I was doing when he showed up: the creepy guy in the waiting room.

I was deep in thought, half-way through writing a short story, when he burst through the door. Normally, I would only notice this out of the corner of my eye, except that he stomped his feet, shook the rain of his clothes, and said in a loud tone, “Whoa, it’s raining cats and dogs out there!”

My head rose from my work, turned his way, and then returned to the important business of ignoring people. Then he sat down directly across from me, barely 5 feet away. He settled into his chair with a “whoo, huh-umph,” and slid his legs toward me, his knee high khaki boots dangling in my field of vision.

He was distracting me.

His attention next turned to the television screen, a 40-inch flat panel which dangled precariously over a fake fireplace, designed to make patients feel warmer without actually spending any money on heat. Rachel Ray was busy cooking a mac and cheese dish, and apparently my waiting room buddy hadn’t eaten in weeks.

“Woo-wee! Man, that looks good!” he said loudly. “Mmmmm—mmmmmm. I gotta get me some.”

Again I looked up, glanced at the screen, and hid myself in my work after that. I was beginning to lose focus, and I could feel the butterflies starting to take wing in my stomach, as the guy launched into his routine.

I wasn’t sure if the man suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome or not, because he could not keep quiet, and I think that’s one of the symptoms of the disease. And this lively fellow, instead of saying words, uttered incoherent multisyllabic phrases approximately every 30 seconds.

“Arbledovoo,” he said.

I tried ignoring that.

“Foowowsingalla!” came next one, only louder.

Each elongated vowel sound made it increasingly harder to ignore him – plus, now I was trying to decipher his language as if I was Tom Hanks and his words offered the clues to avoiding Armageddon.

“Ballazallaploo!”

That was it.  My focus was completely shattered.  I stared him up and down, taking a good look at his appearance. My calmness was no more. I noticed him, a skinny man of around 75 years of age with a long Santa Claus beard, hunting cap, and camouflage clothes.

Okay, break over, I told myself.  But it was no use.  I would have to find another way to cope with the distractions, which continued as Rachel switched to making dessert.

Apparently, “Combat Santa” was ADHD, too. He could not sit still for five seconds. He loudly stomped his feet as if at a hoedown and fidgeted in his chair.

I became frightened. What if he started singing – or worse? What if he wanted to talk to me? Panic rose from my stomach and began infecting my brain.  Thoughts of switching my doctor’s appointment entered my brain.  After all, a fever of 104 wasn’t so bad, was it?  I could wait.

Just as I was about to make a bolt for the door, a lucky break came: Combat Santa was called upon by one of the nurses.  I was saved.  I didn’t have to go home after all.  I would live to see another day.

I relaxed back in my chair and loosened the vice grip my fingers had on its arms.  I told myself to calm down, and to try and make the best of the bad situation.  Sure, the guy broke my concentration and affected my relaxation technique.  But on the bright side, I could turn a lemon into lemonade – I could write an awesome blog entry out of this!

Twenty minutes later, I was my old relaxed self again, happy and confident that the day would be productive and that I had survived the ordeal. Then, the nurse swung the door open, called my name and said, “Combat Santa will see you now.”

Some days you just gotta smile – or else.

Green Lakes Monster

green-lakes-monsterI think I may have spotted the elusive Green Lakes Monster during my outing yesterday

The Beauty Above

the-beauty-aboveSometimes we are so focused on what is in front of us that we miss the beauty which is right above our heads.

Lakeshore Flora

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Nature’s Patterns

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Lakeshore

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Shoreline at Green Lakes State Park, New York

Autumn Symmetry

autumn-symmetryGreen Lakes State Park, New York

Autumn Reflection

autumn-reflectionGreen Lakes State Park, New York

I’m All Ears: The Joy of Being a Good Listener

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I’m All Ears: The Joy of Being a Good Listener

I haven’t blogged in a while, and I have been kicking myself about it. Sure, I write it on my to-do list every single week, right there at spot # 47 in big block letters it says “BLOG.” There it sits, in between #46, “go grocery shopping” and #48, “computer maintenance.” But every week, I only manage to get 46 things done at most, so I haven’t been blogging and my computer is a mess. And anything lower down on the list, well just forget about it.

Yes, now you know.  I have been neglecting you. And that’s pretty bad.  But what’s even worse is that I let it bother me, just like it was my responsibility to decipher the puzzle that is today’s world and report back to my loyal fans with tons and tons of tips and advice. I didn’t do that, so I started feeling like a bad person.

Until…

Yesterday it dawned on me that blogging is just like having a conversation, albeit mostly one-sided. I write and you read is our online way of saying I talk and you listen. So, in reality, all that means is that I haven’t talked in a while – and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.

There is an old saying (I believe we have old sayings because a lot of them are true) and it says something like: “If you don’t have anything good (or nice) to say, don’t say anything at all.” And since all my followers are geniuses, I am certain that you can already see where this is going.

Why should I blog if I don’t have anything to say? Why should I talk and talk (or write and write) without meaning or message?  I shouldn’t.

Another old saying tells me that “God gave us 2 ears and only 1 mouth so that we should listen twice as much as we speak.”  Of course I had it all wrong and thought we had 2 ears so we could enjoy music in stereo, then again what do I know?

I know this: a life without listening is a life without learning. It is a life without trying to improve one’s self.  And it is a life without empathy for others.  That is not a life that I want to live.

So, when you ask me why I have not blogged in a while, I can simply tell you that I have been busy listening, and that I am enjoying it very much!

SMILE!!!

Bogged Down in Beauty

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Sterling Nature Center, New York

Novel Idea

Book Cover

Well, it’s official: my latest book has been released.  This one is different that my last two in that it is fiction. I guess you could call it a novel, but I am not one for labels.  It’s a book.  It’s a story.  And hopefully, it’s enjoyable to read.

The name of the book is Chronicles of a Brainiac: Mark Dibble and the Magic Underpants, and it’s about a 13-year old middle school boy who has a problem with the school bully.  Mark excels in his classes, but that’s about all he is good at. He loves baseball, adores the Chicago Cubs and Ernie Banks (his all-time favorite player), but his lack of athletic prowess has him playing right field on his little league team (baseball lovers will know what that means).

One day, when being chased by the bully (Danny Lupo, a.k.a. “The Wolf”), he is reluctantly persuaded to hide in a local magic shop where he is dragged into the world of magic charms and spells. Skeptical that his newfound magic power will work, Mark…

…Well, I really can’t tell you that, now can I?  If you want to find out what happens, you will just have to read the book.

This book can be loosely labeled a comedy/adventure for lack of a better two-word combination. It is primarily humor with a message that doesn’t hit you over the head.  I am reluctant to put an age group label on the book, though I supposed you could say it would appeal to the “Harry Potter crowd,” as far as age goes.

It is appropriate for readers as young as 10 or so, but I have not “dumbed down” the vocabulary to appeal to a younger crowd.  I do not believe in dumbing things down.  If someone finds a words they do not recognize, they can always look it up and learn a new word.

Adults should be able to enjoy this book, too, especially if you are like me, and stopped growing up at age 13.

At the moment, it is not in a bookstore – yet. Those wishing to purchase a copy can either see me in person, or go to Amazon.com and buy one there. If I sell enough copies, I can afford those new shoes I was looking at in the store window – the ones with those fancy Velcro things on them.

A guy can dream.

Here is a link: CLICK HERE FOR FUN.