Archive for the ‘Living well’ Category
Talking to a student a few weeks ago about The Catcher in the Rye segued into the movie Finding Forrester, which reminded me of the clip of this song used near the end of the film, which led me to look it up on YouTube, which is how I found this wonderful video:
I just finished doing last Sunday’s syndicated New York Times puzzle. I’m pretty proud, because it’s only the 2nd Sunday puzzle I’ve ever finished without having to cheat and Google a single answer.
I’ve done dozens of these now, and it still surprises me how stumped I can get by simple answers, just because of tricky clues.
In this one, 14 across was “Where roots grow.” I immediately got it into my head that it was about plants. Five letter answer…SOILS?
It wasn’t until I had a P in the final spot that I realized: it wasn’t about plants, it was about hair. SCALP.
A good crossword puzzle shows us how we make assumptions, and it challenges us to constantly re-evaluate them. This is a mental skill sorely lacking in our day and age.
Each of these was taken around a quarter after 6 A.M. This is what I see on my drive to work.
The point is made in an Atlantic article:
Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment — which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting. The amount of time people report feeling good or bad correlates with happiness but not at all with meaning.
“Most runners run not because they want to live longer but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life, and for me, for writing as well.”
–Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (ch. 4)
I don’t drink much soda in the summer, and every time I get over being used to it, I notice a big change in my taste buds: vegetables taste better.
I think sugar must dull the sensitivity of our tongues, and I just looked up some medical info that confirms it. What a world of variety we close ourselves off to when we bludgeon our palate with manufactured sweetness!
I write this in the hopes that it will help me stay off sugar, and keep enjoying the juices of nature, like the tomato from my garden that I had this morning, which after two months without overindulgence in sugar, tasted better than most candy ever could.
Something that often helps keep me on the right track is reminding myself that I’m living on borrowed time, that for all I know, I could have died any number of times and that I owe my ongoing existence to God. This keeps me from being too lazy or too selfish, and I think helps me stay pretty grateful for life.
For example, two summers ago I was at Lake Powell in Utah. I thought it might be fun to swim across the channel where our boat was docked. For some reason, I didn’t tell anyone I was going out, and I didn’t put on a life vest.
About ten minutes into the swim, I realized I might get a cramp or kick some debris in the water or otherwise lose the ability to swim. It was a pretty tense twenty more minutes until I made it to the other side. (I’m not a strong swimmer, and apparently I’m not very bright.)
I guess something could have happened and I could have died, but that’s just one instance I know about. Who knows how many times we’ve escaped a doom we’re not even aware of?
So any more time we get after those things–any time we have at all, really–can’t be squandered. It’s precious, and we owe it to ourselves and to God to make something of it.
But this view also takes away fear. If we’re living on borrowed time, then we have nothing to lose: every minute is just an extra bonus minute we’ve been gifted with. So there’s no reason to hold back in service or sacrifice or any worthy goal, because our days are gloriously extended by a loving Father who lets us exercise our will to make the most of them:
I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
From the Robert Fagles translation:
Mine is a rugged land but good for raising sons–
and I myself, I know no sweeter sight on earth
than a man’s own native country. (Book 9, lines 30-32)
On Appreciating Life:
[Spirit of Achilles speaking in Hades]
“No winning words about death to me, shining Odysseus!
By god, I’d rather slave on earth for another man–
some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive–
than rule down here over all the breathless dead.” (Book 11, lines 555-558)
On Sharing Memories:
We two will keep to the shelter here, eat and drink
and take some joy in each other’s heartbreaking sorrows,
sharing each other’s memories. Over the years, you know,
a man finds solace even in old sorrows, true, a man
who’s weathered many blows and wandered many miles. (Book 15, lines 447-451)
On Eating and Sleeping:
With the roasting done, the meal set out, they ate well
and no one’s hunger lacked a proper share of supper.
When they’d put aside desire for food and drink,
they remembered bed and took the gift of sleep. (Book 16, lines 530-534)
The tagline for this blog has always been, “The rebel of the 21st century will be old fashioned.” I could add that the true rebel of this century might just be old.
I don’t want to write a screed about our society’s wretched worship of youth, but I will say this:
I love being 35. Our media worships being a teenager, but that’s all just for marketing and easy profit. I hated being a teenager. I work with teenagers, and most of them seem to hate it, too. It’s a painful, constricted time.
Being 25 was ten times better than being 15, and being 35 is ten times better than that. I can’t wait to be 45, and I have no doubt that being 55 will blow my mind. I can’t be the only person who feels this way.
I wrote on this subject a few weeks ago, but just today I came across this quote below. It perfectly illustrates my own take on the other quote I used in that other post. This is exactly what I have in mind:
I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.
–Linda Bentley Johnson, in the 1997 BYU Women’s Conference, about what kind of summing up she wanted her life to have.
(hat tip: Real Intent)
From the Robert Fagles translation
“And may the good gods give you all your heart desires:
husband, and house, and lasting harmony too.
No finer, greater gift in the world than that…
when man and woman posses their home, two minds,
two hearts that work as one. Despair to their enemies,
a joy to all their friends. Their own best claim to glory.”
Book 6, lines 198-203
“It’s fit and proper for you to know your sports.
What greater glory attends a man, while he’s alive,
than what he wins with his racing feet and striving hands?”
Book 8, lines 169-171
I’ve often seen this quote used as an inspiring motivator:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming … WOW! What a ride!”
Most people would probably interpret that as, “Do a lot of what you want and have as much fun as possible.” Not me.
I like the sentiment, but I like it because I hope to see myself ending like that as a result of achieving goals, serving others, and leaving a positive mark on the world: stuff that requires sacrifice and consistent hard work.
It reminds me of this quote from Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.”