Thursday, November 27, 2008
Families, Friends and Gratitude
Excerpts from Jon Carroll's column in The San Francisco Chronicle say it better than anything else I have come across.
But still we have to get through the day. And, I am convinced, the route through the day is gratitude. Because there is always something to be grateful for, and that something is not in the chasm, it floats above the chasm, denies the importance of the chasm.
You choose: sunsets, apples, bedrooms in the morning, Bruce Springsteen, a child's second birthday, the smile on the face of a passing stranger, rivers, mountaintops, cathedrals, Shakespeare, Tina Fey, the curve of a thigh, the curve of a road, the nation of Switzerland, Carl Hiaasen, grass, orange, Bola Sete, jumbo shrimp, Pascal's theorem, Ockham's razor, clean restrooms, potable water, penguins, French kissing or peanuts.
Can you feel the floor beneath your feet get sturdier? Can you see the holes being patched? For a moment, the bounty of the world overwhelmed you, and you were grateful to be alive at this moment. See? Antidote.
So today, if we are at all lucky, we will gather with family and/or friends and eat food and talk of shared alliances and shared memories. Many Thanksgivings are family gatherings, and family gatherings are often fraught. My suggestion is: Embrace the fraught. You'd miss the fraught if it weren't there.
Besides, there's always the moment of escaping the fraught, going outside for a smoke or down to the store for more whipped cream or out for a walk with someone you love. You can't have the escape without the prison. Be grateful for both.
What I'm going to try to do this year is slow down. What I'm going to try to do this year is pay attention. Usually I run around. Lots of people make me frantic - we always have lots of people at our Thanksgivings - and there are always a thousand tasks. The point of the holiday is not the tasks, even though it seems that way sometimes.
I'm going to think about how each of the people at the table came into my life, and what I remember about that moment, and how we decided to become friends instead of just people who met each other once a long time ago. And I'm going to remember the kindness that each person has shown me, and I'm also going to remember my kindnesses, because I'm grateful for the times I behaved well.
And because not all the people I'm grateful for will be in the room today, I'm going to think about them and send them good thoughts across the miles. I don't believe in the transmission of thoughts, but I believe in trying. It's like a flashy vehicle for mindfulness, and mindfulness is hard when the talk is loud and the carbohydrates are disappearing at alarming rates.
And as I walk across the floor from one room to another, I'm going to notice how solid the floor feels beneath my feet today. I know how fragile it is, but it doesn't matter. Today, right now, this Thanksgiving, it feels like the oldest rock in the world, and I stand on it and rejoice.
Maybe at the end of the evening, when the dirty dishes are piled high in the sink and the air is heavy with rich smells, take a moment to thank someone for something.
Friday, November 21, 2008
A Walk in Foothill Park and Green Olives from the West Bank
Palestinian farmers from the West Bank village of Gith claimed on Monday that Jews from the settlement of Havat Gilad had cut down at least 20 of their olive trees.
The Palestinians have yet to file an official complaint, but Judea and Samaria District Police officials said they would look into the matter.
"We can only approach our olive groves in coordination with police and IDF forces," 64-year-old Nasser Sachan told Ynet. "Today I arrived at the groves and couldn't believe my own eyes. The trees, some of them 40 and 50 years old, had been chopped down."
Before leaving the store I added a pack of Bulgarian feta cheese to my purchases.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Purses Remain Closed in this Season of Giving
“Every gun that's made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms...is spending the genius of its scientists, the sweat of its laborers,”
--Dwight David Eisenhower, America's 34th President (1953-61)
The Auto Industry and its Tunnel Vision
From what is known, the case is not strong enough to justify giving the auto makers money. Politicians, however, are doing their usual thing.....supporting financial aid not because it is the right thing to do but purely based on expediency.
Also, what the financial sector is doing with the bailout money must not be overlooked. It is showing every sign of continuing the merry old way.
Fall Colors in the Neighborhood
The pictures below were taken during a bicycle ride through the neighborhood.
Tournament Drive, San Mateo, CA
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
President Elect Barack Obama
"........ and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth.
--Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863
"Rock Around the Clock"
Dance, sing, shout from the roof tops, and whistle.
- Defeated: John McCain -- an once-principled man who paid the price for surrendering to hypocritical bigots of his party. And Sarah Palin -- favorite of sanctimonious flag wavers; the lipsticked pit bull who appealed to the rabid fringe.
- Among Republican members of Congress, one who lost was Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina. She ran a particularly nasty campaign and received a comeuppance from voters.
Four years ago, after re-election of G.W. Bush, it felt as though Democrats would never be able to regain lost ground. But they have. They were helped by Bush and Cheney. Failure of the Bush administration's mean, deceitful, arrogant actions and policies, which completely disregarded beliefs and aspirations of all but conservative, right-wing Americans, made the voters lash back and reject the Republican Party's candidates. From foreign policy to the economy and domestic environmental protection, the Bushies had become like rampaging bulls. Now, it is time for them to pack their bags. Good riddance.
Democrats have reason to feel good and celebrate. However, members of Congress must not forget that we, the people, elected them. They must work for the common good. In their giddiness, if they sell themselves to special interest groups and begin to act like their predecessors then their time in the sun will be short-lived.