Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Life of Privilege

I did not grow up with wealth. Dad was a farmer. We always had enough to get by, even if things sometimes got a bit tight. Yet growing up, I lived a life of privilege.

My first job was far from lucrative, but it was a job, and my first job enabled me to live a life of privilege.

I received no scholarships of stipends but got my degree by the sweat of my own and my wife's brow. Even in the darkest of student poverty, we lived lives of privilege.

I went into the Army in time of war. I became a field artilleryman and a helicopter pilot.  I served in combat with great and courageous men. To this day, I count it all a privilege.

Out of the Army, I was blessed with a job that fit my talents. After more than 30 years, I count working a privilege.

Together, my wife and I have raised four children into reasonably responsible adults. It was a privilege to see them develop their own interests and personalities.  Each one is different. All are special.

When I was a youth, it was a burden to work in the fields, barns, and gardens. The work was strenuous, hot, dusty, dirty, and often boring.  Today, I count the ability to do such work a great privilege and even volunteer to do it.

The difference lies not only in growing older, but in changing the words used to describe an event.  No longer do I think "Oh, NO! I have to go to work." Instead I think "Oh, WOW! I get to go to work!" or at least I try to.

By changing the words I use to think and speak of the same activity, I change my attitude toward that activity.  Work is transformed from a dreaded compulsion -- something I have to do -- to a privilege -- something in which I can take pleasure and really want to do. One change only, but it's all that's needed to transform a life of drudgery to a life of privilege.

So, what's on your agenda for today?

Will you approach it with the "Oh, NO!" of drudgery or the "Oh, WOW!" of privilege?

The choice is yours.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

What to do today...

When one of my nieces recently posted the words "What to do today... hmm?" on Facebook, it made me think.

What to do today...

My suggestions are listed below:
  • Take a walk. Take a brisk walk or take a leisurely walk, but take a walk. As you walk, notice -- really notice -- the things around you. Everything you see is unique to the time, place, and position of your eyes.  No one else will ever see it as you do.
  • Breathe -- really breathe. Take the air deep into your lungs. Sample it as you would taste a fine wine. Identify the subtle hints of place and time. The smell of the air changes with the seasons, days, and hours.  Each breath is unique when you breathe it. Breathe, and savor.
  • Dance in a sunbeam, in the rain, or in the snow. Dance to music only you can hear. Dance because something inside you says to. Dance because it's your dance and your time to dance. And dance like nobody is watching. 
  • Sing. Sing a song. Sing opera in the shower. Sing rock and roll, sing country, sing moldy oldies, but sing. Sing silly songs at the bus stop. Sing an old song. Sing a new song known only to you. Hum under your breath. Sing because there is music inside you that must be let out.
  • Eat an apple. Enjoy the crunch, the release of juice and tart sweetness. Taste the apple. Try to describe the taste. Do you detect a hint of citrus or burnt sugar? Each apple is different. What makes this particular apple uniquely enjoyable?
  • Make something. Make a peanut butter sandwich, make a gourmet meal, make a paper airplane or stand in front of a mirror and make a face -- not that face -- another face! And giggle. But make something.  
  • Look around you. Find one thing out of place and return it to its rightful position. Bask in the new order you have created or the old order you have restored. Decide too it again or not.
  • Write something. Write that long overdue thank you note. Write a letter to a friend. Write a journal entry or a blog post. Write a memoir or start your autobiography. Better yet, write a check to your favorite charity, put it in an envelope and mail it without including a return address. Just do it.
  • Read something. Pick up a random novel and dive in. Become friends with the characters. Let the story carry you along. It's not a story. It's an adventure, and you get to participate.
  • Go somewhere. Go to a park by the river. Go to a concert or play. Go to cafe and savor a leisurely cup of coffee and a single pastry. Go for a ride and see the country, but go and enjoy going. 
  • Sit and observe. Sit on a park bench. Sit on a chair. Sit on the ground. Sit in your car in a parking lot like a detective on stake out. Watch a river flow or a fish jump. Watch a fishwife berate her husband, or two lovers hold hands. Watch children playing and enter the world of their joy. People watching is one of the greatest pastimes known to man, but you have to sit and watch.
  • Live. Be present in the moment. Be aware of others and the teeming life around you. And be glad. 
What to do today? 

There are endless possibilities. Do great and wonderful things. Do small and insignificant things. Do things both great and small. But do.

Today is a gift. What you do is mostly yours to choose. All I can offer are suggestions

Now, what will you do today?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ring In the New!

The old has passed away!
Behold, the new has come!

Happy New Year! The old year is gone. The new year is here! 

Like the puppy in the picture above, I find myself bounding forward with eager anticipation. The gate is open! New adventures, new experiences, and new opportunities await. For this day at least, all things are possible and the world is my oyster. The future belongs to me.

Even those things I've experienced before -- the change of seasons, the expectation of planting, sore muscles of cultivating, the reward of harvest, even the taste of home grown tomatoes -- will be different. Old friends will become even dearer. New friends will become precious.

New decisions will be made or thrust upon us. Either way, we will make the most of them and go from there. My hope is that when I look back on the last day of this new year, I shall to do so certain in the knowledge that be it opportunity or obstacle, I experienced it to the absolute fullest.

Reality may set in tomorrow, or next month, or never.  Today, I'm a puppy and someone left the gate open.  There's a whole bright new world out there. New air to breathe! New things to see! New friends to make, and, being a puppy, new smells to smell! 

Life is wonderful. Let's get started!

How will you spend this first day of the new year? 

What new things will you enjoy in 2013?