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My Versace Belt

I’ve worn the same belt for over 20 years. In October 2019, I finally decided that the wear on it was enough and it was time to consider buying a new belt.

This was no easy decision as I am fascinated with time and highly value items that are sentimental, things that are part of my past. Before I get to the story of my belt, here are some of the things I wear and why I wear them.

I still have one of my watches from high school that I wore for business. That was recently replaced by my late father-in-law’s watch . The fact that his watch is much nicer doesn’t mean anything to me, it is that the sentimental value of it is greater than a watch I wore in high school. Memories of him are more important than faded memories of high school so my high school watch gets put back on the shelf.

The watch for daily wear is a G-Shock given to me by my then girlfriend, now wife back in 2002. I didn’t wear watches because my mobile phone had a clock and could do so much more. Wearing a watch became pointless to me as a cell phone became a mainstay of my pocket, so I just put the watch in a drawer for 16 years until I considered wearing a watch again in 2018. Everyone was wearing Apple watches, fitness trackers and so I gave watches another thought. I would have bought a Samsung Gear until I realized I really don’t need more pings, notifications, alerts in my life . But then I rediscovered my G-Shock watch. That watch had been with me for 16 years and now had heavy sentimental value. It was part of my past so I put it on and have been wearing it ever since.

A few other items were bought new but were popular in the past. These are my Oakley sunglasses, Air Jordan and Reebok Pump shoes and a jean jacket. I don’t wear these all at the same time otherwise I’d look like I was straight out of the late ’80s early ’90s. I don’t have my original jean jacket or shoes anymore but I do have my original Oakleys. They aren’t in great shape so I had to get new ones of those as well.

All the items above hold sentimental value for me so I even wrote posts about them:
1. The G-Shock watch
2. My Oakley sunglasses
3. Shoes of the 90s.

Now, lets finally get to my belt. I bought my Versace belt in Besançon, France in the year 2000. I had never owned a luxury fashion item before and stepping into the small, intimate shop somewhere in a modest French town left a deep impression in both my mind and subconscious. I still remember the 30 something owner reaching out to shake my hand and then gently admonishing me as I reached out with my black leather gloves still on. He told me in French how rude it would be to shake hands keeping my gloves on. I quickly removed them, let out a slightly embarrassed smile and apologized. This seemed to do the trick and I was back in his good graces. I had expected the owner of a high end fashion shop in France to be rude and perhaps think I was not worthy to set foot in his shop. With this gentleman it was the exact opposite and I dare say he liked me. It could have been I was one of the few Americans, if not the only one who spoke passable French or it could have been he was gay and found me attractive? Either way I appreciated the hospitable feeling instead of being looked down upon which is what I had expected.

That is the portion I remember from my waking consciousness but I also say it affected my subconsciousness because just in the past year I had a dream of being in a small, intimate, high-end clothier. It was the kind of shop you’d find in London that had been in the family for generations. It was all solid oak and hand crafted textiles stuffed into a claustrophobic, street level space no bigger than a large family living room. Although the arrangement of the suits seemed suffocating, the feeling of being crowded gave way to an intoxication of sophistication and refinement that has been lost in our modern times. They sold mainly suits with brands that are not familiar to the mainstream but that any 1% ultra rich person would immediately recognize. This dream came to me shortly after deciding to stop wearing my beloved Versace belt. Therefore, there is no doubt it was my subconscious releasing a long fermenting mixture of my experience and feelings of a small shop in France from a vault which had accumulated 20 years of dust.

It is interesting to reflect on why some experiences are locked up into extremely powerful memories and some are not regardless of how strongly they affect our lives. The subconscious has its own way of deciding that isn’t really apparent to our conscious mind. All I did was buy a belt but that memory, although 20 years old and seemingly unimportant, remains powerful and even causes me to have dreams. I can’t even think of a similarly strong memory for the past 10 years! In fact, the past 10 years have been pretty much a blur and if it weren’t for this blog I don’t think I would remember too much of it even though the moments are of great importance since they involve my kids. I remember buying a belt more than I do what happened at my kid’s birthdays, or other important milestones. I remember them because I took pictures and video. I did not take pictures or video of buying a belt yet I remember vividly.

There is also another memory I have of France where I bought a product that I keep to this day. It is my Bvlgari Blue cologne and my mind has also stored this experience in its own locker. My sister had come to Paris to visit me and it was bought at a high end department store. It was winter with Christmas lights up on the trees on the Champs Élysées, a nip in the air and a slight dusting of snow on the ground. I had on a Versace jacket, a scarf which I had bought from an elderly gentleman on the Champs-Élysées and the same gloves I was scolded for wearing when I bought my belt. The smell of the cologne department overwhelmed me with intoxicating luxury. The environment compelled me to buy something; a festive Christmas joy was in the air on a cold December and here I was in Paris, with my sister and able to speak French as I showed her around and we visited the shops and restaurants. I wanted to capture that moment, to bottle it up and keep forever on the shelf of life experience. That experience ended up being stored in bottle of the luxurious, soapy scent of Bvlgari Blue cologne.

I’ve long lost that original bottle but it caught my eye a few years ago and once I sprayed the sample the memory of being in Paris with my sister came rushing back to me. That was the cologne I needed and that I currently wear for work.

I speak of these experiences being 20 years old but just saying the number really doesn’t evoke the weight of two decades that it should. Perhaps some examples would help?

Twenty years ago you could walk right up to the gate of an airline and say goodbye or greet friends as they entered or exited the aircraft, there was no security. Back then nobody you knew had cell phones. The internet was AOL and you had to use a PC that was physically plugged into the wall. E-mail was exciting and you were extremely happy to receive anything at all, even junk e-mail.

As for me personally, I was a college student. I did not have a wife and kids. The future was a vast expanse of endless possibilities depending on the choices I was making at the time. I ended up going to Japan, Vietnam and then the Bay but I could just as easily have ended up living in London, France, Spain, or Korea, Mexico, almost anywhere depending on the choices I made then. At 42 years old the vast expanse of future possibilities, which encompassed thousands of paths are now narrowed by some 95%. Those paths open to me at 20 years old are now lost due to age, family, career, responsibility. An example could be as life as a mold of clay. At 20 years old and making good decisions you can mold your life into whatever you want it to be. At 42 that mold has hardened into your own creation. It can no longer be completely reshaped but perhaps added to in some parts and trimmed in others. Although at this age I hear more stories of divorce and the like which is akin to just smashing the mold on the ground although the pieces still remain.

Backtracking a bit I wanted to mention that although I remember my belt (since I wore it everyday) and my cologne, I had completely forgotten about my Versace jacket until I wrote the paragraph about being in Paris above. I was entirely prepared to say I’ve only owned two luxury fashion items in my life but it is in fact three. As I thought about buying the cologne, I strove to remember details about being in Paris so I could write a better paragraph. I tried to remember what coat I was wearing and my mind took me to a picture with my sister in front of the Louvre. It is thanks to that picture I can remember what coat I was wearing and then remembering it was Versace with a neon green interior! That coat has long been lost both physically and to my memories. I now wonder if perhaps I still have it tucked away somewhere although I can slightly recall it being old, faded and perhaps a zipper broken. Or perhaps these are false memories and I lost it in a bar after drinking too much in Spain? I have no idea, but now I’m intrigued as to what happened to that jacket. I think the chances of remembering are slim and finding it even slimmer but now I want to try.

As I mentioned I was completely prepared to say I have only owned two luxury items but in remember the Versace jacket I remember my Dad also bought me a luxury jacket I found on sale in Beverly Hills while we were there for the Rose Bowl in 1998. That one I know I unfortunately forgot in a bar or taxi. Here in America if you lose something there is a 90% chance you will not get it back. This isn’t Japan. Everyone out for themselves here, it is the American way.

OK, aside from the two jackets I lost, the two luxury items were the belt that I bought and a Prada key ring given to me by my wife. Like many women everywhere, but especially in Asia, she really liked luxury products when she was in her college and just after graduation years so had a few things Prada. Anyway, I’ve never cared much about luxury items except for my belt but my keys were wearing a hole in my suit pants and so she had this old Prada key ring she never used and gave it to me back in 2007. I still use it to this day as old, worn and faded as it is, the important thing is not that it is Prada but that my wife gave it to me in 2007. As long as it serves its purpose I’ll use it and when it doesn’t serve its purpose it will go in my treasure box along with my belt and other precious items from my past.

As I said, I don’t care about luxury items. I feel that people who feel the need to flash their expensive brands for everyone to see are making a silly attempt to establish a social order to everyone they meet. They are in effect asking everyone to show them deference because through their clothes show they have money and having money means being more important than those that do not have money. I think that these brands give them a sort of empty confidence and by trying to elevate themselves also make them look down on others. I went to the Versace store in San Francisco once as my Vietnamese buddy really liked to shop there. I remember seeing a fat, old, white guy decked out in Versace complete with the sweater draped over his shoulders and black sunglasses, just standing there in the middle of the store in self-important glory. I could literally feel him looking down on everyone thanks to all the Versace he was wearing.

I learned long ago that true confidence comes from the inside not the outside. Confidence drawn from clothing, the type of car driven and so on crumbles very quickly against even the slightest opposition. The reason is those people expect to be treated extra well because they believe they are better than those they interact with and their clothing should clearly communicate that. So when they face the slightest challenge or criticism most will completely crumble. This is in contrast to one who has true confidence that comes from within. Any criticism or challenge to those with true confidence has the same effect as throwing a pebble at a suit of armor.

As for me my confidence came in waves. In high school it was thanks to wresting. In college and through my 20s and 30s it was being able to speak foreign languages and my world travels. At 42 confidence comes from a life of good choices, being able to provide for my family, having a career I really like and from my experience of speaking with people on a daily basis and being able to relate to almost anyone. Yes, I do still draw confidence from being worldly, speaking languages and yes, even karate but that is because these are things others respect, not necessarily because I’m overly proud of the achievements.

One of the best benefits of having confidence is it allows you to be kind to people even when they are not kind to you. Everyone is trying to make it through this life and I’ve been very fortunate to have the confidence I do. So when I can spread a little cheer simply by calling people by their name, or making small jokes which makes them laugh we are both made happier.

I’ve gone off on a tangent. This post is about my belt and my belt is being retired. Over the years I’ve had the buckle replaced with a cheap one as the original broke and I’ve had it polished a few times by a cobbler. Yes, shoe cobblers still exist and they know how to work with belts as well. But given the wear to the inside where the holes are located I think it is time to move on. Thank you belt for 20 years of holding up my pants and shorts. You have earned your place in the treasure chest.

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Oculus VR, Experiences, Mindsets and Gratefulness

It is 5:45 AM on December 27th, 2018.  I woke up at 3:00 AM and so just decided to get up.

I’ve been playing with my Oculus Go that I gifted myself for Christmas and it is fabulous.  It is the same as my Samsung Gear VR but that used my Samsung S6 and always had to cool down after only 10 minutes of use.  So it is wonderful to actually be able to dive deep into the universe of VR and spent about two hours in it this morning.

The first thing I did was dive right back into my Meditation VR.  I chose a guided meditation focusing on Gratefulness.  I was floating above a rippling ocean next to a beach and was reminded to be grateful for not just the opportunities I have but to be a part of this beautiful universe.  I really needed a good guided meditation because my mind has been in overdrive recently and needed to slow down.

The next meditation I was in the Borealis Basin overlooking a frozen lake surrounded by pine trees covered in snow.  I chose Zen for the guide as it is my favorite:  I needed to remember just to be, to just be present.  It reminded me that my awareness is like a clear blue sky that has always been there and the clouds like thoughts which come passing through.  Our minds are always rushing on to the next thing, and it is this mindset that can set the pace for life.  Instead, it is better to slow down, be present in the moment, to take time to just be aware of your existence, your surroundings and your own consciousness.  Your mind is what determines what your reality will be and shapes the environment not only from a perspective standpoint but also physically depending on the choices that the mind selects.

And so after I had stopped just to exist for a while whilst floating over a frozen terrain I thought I should teleport around the world a bit.

Using VR made me think that perhaps this is what a mind would be able to do when freed from the body.  Call it a spirit, another dimension, the afterlife, Heaven, or whatever provided our consciousness is eternal, I imagined it would be able to do what I was doing in VR.  That is to say it could reflect on itself as I was doing in meditation but also just be wherever it decided to be.

And so, I opened up my new app Wander which is exactly what VISIO Places used to be.  VISIO Places is no longer supported by Oculus and for a moment there I was really bummed until I found Wander.  What it is is Google Maps and Street view put together so it is easily navigable but in a virtual reality environment.

I opened up my map and the first thing I did was open up collections and found I could visit a few real haunted houses in America.  So I stood outside these houses and read what had occurred there.  It was a bit surreal to just be right there as though I was actually standing in front of those places.

Next I saw a collection for Nigeria and having never been to the country myself took a look.  As could be expected it is very third world and I immediately felt a little sympathy for all those scammers which Nigeria has a reputation for.  If I had been born in that country and scamming was my only source of possible income then that is what I would do.  It is easy to hold the moral high ground when you actually have a high ground in terms of money.  That is to say, it is easy to look down on people when from an advantageous position isn’t it?

Then, it was time to go back to my past and that of course meant Toledo, Spain.  I came right up to the front door of La Fundación José Ortega y Gasset.  I couldn’t believe that Google Street View went right up to the front door!  As I hovered there as a VR spirit so many memories came flooding back to me.  I remembered the smell of the lobby, the feeling of stepping into the school.  I remembered how I’d greet people and how a normal day of class and study would unfold.  Without VR allowing me to actually stand in front of that entrance way a lot of these memories would not and maybe never have resurfaced.  Yes, I remember the good times but the ordinary, mundane memories which really give a colorful backdrop to those golden nuggets are what really make up the experience.  For a metaphor to really describe what I’m getting at lets use a boat on the ocean.  Yes, the highlights might be spotting a shark, or an island, or whale but it is the wind in your face, the smell of the sea, the rocking of the boat and the sun on your face which really make the experience. I easily remember going out with some girls, partying with friends, overlooking the city on a warm summer night and visiting the cathedral but it was the actual study as well as just being in an entirely new environment which really defines my experience there.

After I had spent time simply remembering in front of the school entrance I had to trace my usual route from the school through the side streets to La Plaza Zocodover.  This also brought back a lot of memories such as the smell of fish in La Calle de Pescado, the desire for “American food” which was satiated by McDonalds (unfortunately) and getting completely lost in that labyrinth of a city from time to time.

I tried to find my homestay residence and although I’ve found it previously (with the help of the address) I couldn’t do so just using a map.  Instead I found Hotel Beatriz and for some reason this name sticks out in my mind.  I think it might be where my parents and sister stayed when they came to visit.  I’ll have to do some research into my personal archive as well as just ask my parents to see if that is the one.  I’m pretty sure it is and so VR helps me again to remember my past.

I really enjoy and would consider it a hobby of mine to dig into my past and remember as much as I can everything about it.  It helps that I have a ‘treasure chest’ of memories that I’ve added to my entire life, saving the important stuff and can pull from.  I also use this very blog to remember as I have kept a journal since we got our first computer when I was in the 7th or 8th grade.

One final thought before I go.  I feel as though I’m one of the very few people who can actually remember the past as it actually was.  I have this journal and my ‘treasure chest’ to aid me and these are invaluable to help me remember not just the nuggets, individual events, experiences and whatnot, but the entire backdrop as well.  For a brief moment I can slip into the mindset at that time, not just my current mindset pulling a memory like a book from the shelf.  Instead my mindset morphs just for a moment to how it was at that particular time.  This is not easy to do and occurs only in flickers, but with the help of the stimulation that virtual reality provides, I can hold those flickers longer.

Now, using this ability to remember how things actually were I am then able to more full realize what an amazing time we live in today!  Now, lets imagine me telling the following things to the 1988 version of me versus anyone here in San Francisco today:

  1. We have video on our telephones!
  2. I can play video games on a huge TV with real life graphics and with anyone around the world!
  3. I can join a virtual world just like they do in The Lawnmower Man!
  4. We have all of human knowledge available in a handheld device!

Now look around and see how many of these things inspire awe in anyone today.  In fact, these innovations might get nothing more than a shrug from most in 2018 where anyone in the 1980s would be astounded.  This is where meditation and just being grateful as well as appreciating my very existence comes into play and the physical world takes on much less importance.  It doesn’t matter how much progress we make, or the incredible feats we accomplish if we do not have the right mindset.  I’m afraid that all this technology, data and information is too much too soon for our minds which have taken millennia to evolve.

Perhaps our minds were more serene when we had rotary dial telephones and no answering machine.  That was when we didn’t need to “be on” all the time.  I think that would be much more peaceful than having a cell phone which every service and application in the world is trying to get your attention.

To really drive home my point, imagine telling someone in 1980 that they could have their name physically on Mars.  I bet the entire nation would sign up.  Yet having this same opportunity in 2015 only nets NASA a few hundred thousand takers.

Amazing isn’t it?  All of reality is determined by our mindset.  There could be a time when we are all able to fly, have just had a picnic in some very remote wilderness that humankind had never touched, then fly on up to our floating city and the same type of people who don’t appreciate the opportunities we have now wouldn’t appreciate opportunities in the future either.

I will appreciate the experiences I have today, have had in the past and will have in the future.

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Memories My Best Posts Ohio

Growing up in Golfview Woods – My Memoir

They say that old houses have memories and a distinct atmosphere created by the various inhabitants and what has occurred inside its walls over the decades.  Time passes, children grow and families move away; yet each one leaves something behind which add to the character of the house.  It could be something material such as a treasure hidden away in an air vent, or perhaps marks on the wall that measure a child’s height.  I also believe that the actions, words spoken and feelings that took place inside the house also add a certain energy that although cannot be seen, still linger in some way even after many years have passed.

I like to think it is the same with entire neighborhoods.  People often say “if these walls could talk,” referring to all that a wall must have seen over the years.  Therefore, I do not believe I’m alone in thinking that certain places have memories and perhaps everything that has taken place is recorded in some sort of universal mind.

I grew up in a place called Golfview Woods which is a subdivision and having only two ways in and thus two ways out, resembles a labyrinth.  If you didn’t know the neighborhood there was a very good chance you’d get lost and have to ask for directions in order to get out.

My first memory of the neighborhood was the sign that greeted us to our future neighborhood, it was dark wood with yellow lettering that simply said ‘Golfview Woods.’  We then visited the model house at 3962 Cypress Creek in 1986.  We were greeted by a middle aged guy with brown hair and mustache who wore a brown suit and a big smile.  I remember the smell of that house, it was that of new carpet and fresh paint.  There were other families there walking through the rooms, getting excited about possibly building a new house, in a new neighborhood!  Golfview Woods was only half developed at that time and our house would be in the middle of the neighborhood at Bigby Hollow Ct.  I remember seeing so many houses being built, the smell of wood and mud, and scrap piles in front of each new house from which we would later pilfer to make skateboard and bike ramps.

My parents decided to buy and I remember being so excited to visit our house when it was under construction.  It was ok to walk in when it when only the framing, floors and roof had been built.  I walked up to my room and looking in the bathroom found a female construction worker sitting in the empty bathtub eating her lunch.  I thought that was very odd.

Moving day was a momentous occasion.  We were leaving the only home I had ever known for not only a new house, but a new life!  Golfview Woods was a neighborhood where many of my classmates already lived and I was equally as excited to get out and go play with them as I was to have a new room.  I honestly don’t remember much about moving day, but I do remember setting out to try to find my friends.  My sister and I got on our bikes and set out into the absolute maze of streets.  The first person I tried to find was Jason C and by some great stroke of luck we ended up very near his house when I asked directions of a kid just a few years younger.

“Do you know Jason C?”
“Yes” he replied.
“Do you know where his house is?”
“Yes, just turn left there and it is the one with the big rock out front.”

I couldn’t believe that in a neighborhood as big as this I actually ended up finding where my friends house was.  Unfortunately I do not remember going up to his door or what happened later on that day.

It was great living in a neighborhood with many classmates.  Back in Grandview there weren’t many kids to play with that lived within walking distance.  Grandview was also your old style neighborhood situated on a grid with businesses close by or even next to housing.  It wasn’t exactly dangerous, but not exactly safe either for young kids to walk around by themselves.  Golfview Woods however, was an isolated neighborhood with only housing and the traffic was of people going to and returning from their homes.  It was middle class but a middle class comprised of people that could afford newer, if not completely new homes so crime that is usually associated with poverty was nonexistent.

Therefore, I was allowed to hop on my bike and just take off pretty much whenever I wanted.  There was a lot to explore and one of the most fascinating places was dirt biking trails that lay just beyond the undeveloped plots, over a creek, through the woods and next to train tracks.  It took a lot of courage to go there for a kid of ten because there was an element of danger.  It was secluded and the only adults that ventured back there were transients -bums as we called them – who walked the train tracks.  There was a story of a kidnapping spread by some of my friends which got its facts entirely from their imaginations but I thought was real.  There was the supposed finger that lay cut off from a hand which one could see in the creek near the train tunnel.

My classmates Jason C and Tony C introduced me to those biking trails.  They had the coolest bikes which were black and white with white rim covers while mine was an ordinary Huffy.  The bike trails had enormous jumps and even a curved path on the side of the hill which it seemed you’d almost have to be parallel to the ground at one point to successfully navigate.  I remember I did it but had built up so much speed that when I tried to turn and go up the hill I fell off my bike, into the bushes and into a groundhog hole, then my bike fell on me and the handlebar hit me in the head. There I was, in a bush, in a hole, with a bike on top of me.

I don’t remember being scared of the jumps as much as I was running into an adult.  Seeing an adult back there made your heart stop because we were sure they were going to kidnap us.  I’ve never peddled so fast in my life as I did escaping from a bum who got too close.

Returning to that severed finger in the creek, I only remember hearing of it and trying to see it but when I peered into the creek saw nothing that resembled a finger.  Supposedly it was cut off from a sleeping bum by a passing train who carelessly had one finger over the tracks during a very deep sleep.  That sounds improbable to me now that I’m an adult to be honest.  I did send a friend – Michael M – back to take a look while I waited on my bike.  The next thing I knew he was running back with an absolutely terrified look on his face.  He told me he had seen a naked bum bathing in the creek.  Knowing that bums were known kidnappers and the construction workers all around us were also sketchy we high tailed it back to the developed part of the neighborhood.

Once fear of kidnappers had subsided it was a lot of fun to venture back into the lower, undeveloped part of Golfview Woods and go into the houses that were still under construction.  We weren’t supposed to go into those places and so again, there was an element of danger, but the lure of exploring and the thrill of walking through an incomplete house were too much to resist.  Sometimes the house would be almost complete and the door would be unlocked.  We never damaged anything and were usually too scared to linger for long but we wanted to see what it looked like and compare it with our own homes.

waterfalls-12

The furthest we ever explored would be beyond the undeveloped area, past the train tracks, next to a farm, past another set of train tracks and then finally our destination which was a waterfall.  The creek emptied into a rock quarry and so it most likely wasn’t a natural waterfall but was exciting just the same.  We even went swimming once or twice in the pool it created and before it was polluted.  We did have to keep a watch out for “the truck” which was a quarry worker who would try to catch us.  We would have a lookout and if we saw the truck then we would scramble back up the hill, into the woods and keep running until we were sure we were safe.  Therefore, swimming was rather dangerous because we wouldn’t have much time to put our clothes back on if the truck started to come our way.  Just like the imaginary kid kidnapped from the biking trails, if the guy in the truck caught you, you’d most likely never be heard from again.

That wasn’t the only danger however because there were actual leaches in the creek and you sure didn’t want to have one of those attach to you.  Furthermore, you had to be sure not to cut through the farm because the farmer actually shot his shotgun at one of my friends and it came so close it felled a nearby tree branch.  That’s how my friend told the story anyway and I believed it.  And as usual you had to watch out for the kidnapper bums, we saw one once or twice and I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared or tired while running away, especially after one of my friends yelled “RUN!”  When they said that you ran as fast as you could and didn’t look back.  We were, in our childhood minds, running for our very lives because who knows what would happen if one of these transients caught us.

Another place were the adjacent Raymond Memorial and Wilson Road Golf Courses that are adjacent to Golfview Woods and next to each other.  We would sneak out there in broad daylight with the destination being a small woods right in the middle of the course.  We’d have to cut through somebody’s yard, and walk on the boundary of the neighborhood and course until we had a short, direct shot to the woods of about 150 yards.  This time the danger was the ranger who would chase you in his golf cart.  We also had to watch out for flying golf balls because you surely do not want to get hit with one of those.

If you made it to the small woods then there was absolute treasure everywhere in the form of golf balls.  I had not yet learned to golf but these were absolute treasures just the same.  I remember a successful trip to that woods with Brendan B, Jason C and Tony C. where you’d have to call out the golf ball as soon as you saw it in order to rightfully claim it.  A day filled with such adventure, treasure and friends sure was fun.  As an adult I’ve traveled in many foreign countries and also had adventures but I don’t think they will ever compare to adventures had as a young kid, on a summer day with friends in Golfview Woods.

Another memory I have of the neighborhood being developed is when Bigby Hollow Street and Cypress Creek had not yet been connected.  At what would later be the juncture, there was a large sized depression that had filled with rain water and a large pile of stones in front of it.  We would climb up those rocks and throw small pebbles into the water.  One day a girl a year or two younger than I came up and told us not to throw any more rocks into the water because it was going to become a pond for the kids.  I didn’t believe her, kept throwing the stones and it made her mad.  As it turns out I was right, they never made a pond for the kids.

I find it funny nowadays when parents get frustrated with kids staring at screens and want them to just “go play outside.”  I was once a kid myself and I know full well that if adults knew half of the things kids do when told to “go play outside” they wouldn’t want them playing outside half as much!  And back in those days our activities were relatively, mostly, harmless.

Moving to a new neighborhood means I had to be bussed to school when I could easily walk when we lived in Grandview.  As our part of the neighborhood wasn’t fully developed yet the school bus stop was a two minute drive to the middle part of the neighborhood or a five minute walk, and we had to walk most days.  We would go out the door and then walk through our and neighbors backyards.  In the morning the grass was always wet with dew and you had to be careful not to drag your feet or your feet could get a little moist.

1986_world_series

If I remember correctly the stop was on Quail Hollow right about where Meadow Hills Court is.  It was right in front of the Harvey’s house.  Now I remember little to nothing about the Harvey family but I do remember betting the son Paul, who was a few years older than me, $5 that my team the New York Mets would beat his team the Red Sox in the World Series.  I won but Paul never paid and I’ve never forgotten. Using the inflation calculator Paul now owes me $10.98 and one day I will find him and collect.

It was a strange experience taking the bus to school for those first few weeks especially since our old house on Meadow Road was just a few blocks from the school.  Instead of just walking home you’d have to get on a big yellow bus for a forty minute drive back to the new house and new life.  I missed my old house and it felt odd to think that it wasn’t ours anymore and we could never set foot back inside of it.  That feeling still resides with me, buried deep in my subconscious that on arises on rare occasions in dreams.  In the dream the house is ours again but it is dark and nobody has gone inside for a very long time.  I’m glad it is our house but it is lonely inside and I feel as though it belongs to another time and I really shouldn’t be there.

In the early years around 1990 or so I got my first job delivering papers to a certain part of the neighborhood.  It wasn’t a big job like delivering the morning Dispatch, Suburban News Publications was delivered only on Wednesdays during the day.  I’d return home from school to see a huge stack of papers on the driveway which I’d have to bag and stick into a wagon.  There was no way I could actually carry all of those papers to be delivered over a few miles a few blocks away.  So I put them in my wagon, put on my headphones and was on my way.  I really didn’t like that job at all but I had to have a job and that was it.  The worst was when it rained, but luckily my Mom would sometimes offer to drive me.

One of the worst days of my childhood also involved these papers.  It was a dark, gloomy, rainy day and my mom picked me up from school.  She had the papers in the back of the station wagon and I was to bag them while we drove to the orthodontist.  I had my braces tightened there and then had to go deliver papers in the rain.

In the beginning the papers were free but later on the management decided they wanted us to go ‘collect.”  It cost $1 but the difficult part was that people didn’t have to pay if they didn’t want to.  That is a difficult thing to explain for a kid of twelve to about 300 houses.

“Hello Sir, you owe me a dollar for a paper you may or may not want but appears anyway on your driveway every Wednesday.  However, you do not have to pay the dollar and the paper will still appear on schedule, every Wednesday.”

I hated collecting but the only thing I really remember about it was how hard it was for some people to scrounge up a dollar.  One guy took about fifteen minutes as he went through his house looking for loose change.  I felt bad for the guy and wanted to let him know that he really wasn’t obligated to pay but I didn’t have the courage to interrupt as he had already spent more than a few minutes on trying to find a dollar for SNP publications.

Part II

Time moved on and I began to miss the old house less and less to the point where I never really thought about anymore.  I liked Golfview Woods better than Grandview because so many of my classmates lived there and it was very easy to just walk, bike or skate over to their house within the safety of a confined neighborhood.  The center of activity was Tall Timbers court because no fewer than seven or eight families that all attended my elementary school lived on that court.

Some of my best memories are on a warm summer night hanging right in the middle of it, playing basketball, skateboarding or just talking.  Some of the older kids in the neighborhood had built a skateboard ‘launch’ ramp that we stored in Tony’s garage.  That was my favorite activity and we must have gone off that thing hundreds of times trying to land our skateboards and stay on.  I remember the very first time I did land and it was due to the advice of Tony’s neighbor Mr. Hanley.  He told me that I just had to stay on it and not get nervous and abort.  So I followed his advice and couldn’t believe it when I landed it and stayed on for the first time.

When it got dark everyone would slowly drift back into their homes and I too had to return before it got too late.  The fastest way to return would be to cut through the yards, then skate down Quail Hollow and then Silverado.  The first yard or two belonged to people I knew on Tall Timbers but I still had to cross one or two more and ran the risk of getting yelled at so I had to hurry.  I’d make it to the street of Quail Hollow, get on my board and it was pretty much straight downhill the rest of the way.  There are very rare moments in life when an ordinary activity suddenly becomes magical and the joy of being alive wells up inside creating a memory that becomes an absolute jewel.  For me, one of these memories is skateboarding back home on a warm summer night when it is dark after playing most of the afternoon and evening in Tall Timbers Court.  There were no other sounds but the rumble of my wheels against the asphalt, everyone had gone indoors and so there was a sense of solitude and peace as the warm breeze blew across my face.

Summer nights as a young kid are a time I think that most adults would like to experience again.  It is a time when one can truly be carefree and for me at least the calendar was wide open.  Our babysitters were Gail, Terra and Jeanna who all attended the same school but in the higher grades.  Some would play with us more than others and some would prefer to talk with their boyfriends on the phone or watch MTV.  I remember eavesdropping on one of Gail’s telephone conversations.  She was sitting in my Dad’s office and saw a picture of what appeared to be him with his arm on the shoulders of Ronald Raegan and a beer in the other hand.  Gail couldn’t believe what she was seeing and explained the picture to her boyfriend.  I thought this was hilarious because I knew full well that was just a life-sized cardboard cutout of the President.  I remember Gail making us macaroni and cheese and being impressed that someone other than a fully grown adult could cook.

Jeanna liked watching MTV, especially the Def Leopard video Pour Some Sugar On Me.  She would get extremely mad if I turned the volume down or the TV completely off during the song and she would chase me to grab the remote while I laughed.  She didn’t think it was very funny.

In the summer one of the main activities was playing basketball until it got dark.  I was lucky enough to have a basketball court in the back yard where I’d spend hours trying to be like Mike.  I also had some friends that went to Hillard and I’d meet up with them to play sometimes.  J.R. actually played on the Hillard basketball team which was a division one school and so he was really good.  Then there was *forgot name* who was a big bully.  He just pushed his way around the basketball court and often yelled at people.  He ended up going into the army.  Scott also had a basketball hoop and he lived just down the street from me.  In addition to basketball we’d also play football on his side lawn or poker games with this Dad.  I no longer know how to play poker but during one summer in the late ’80s I was a master at many poker games, all of which I’ve long forgotten.

Part III – Pranksters

It wasn’t only during the day that we had our fun.  In the summer many of us were allowed to stay out late, or even later if you spent the night at a friends house who had more lenient parents.  It was at night that we did get up to many shenanigans that were full of fun, excitement, fear and a certain energy only felt on warm summer nights when you’re a kid.

I mentioned the golf course and we would sometimes go out there.  You had to be careful because there was a night waterman who drove around on an electric golf cart that was absolutely silent.  You really didn’t want to get caught by him.  I personally was always very nervous to go out there at night and was merely an observer to what they were doing.  When you’re a kid, sometimes you have no choice but to follow the group or you could suddenly find yourself without any friends. They never vandalized but one did poop in the hole once which I’m sure gave morning golfers quite a surprise.  Another, less terrible activity was trying to catch frogs with a net in one of the two ponds by shining a flashlight in their eyes which stunned them.

Sometimes a few guys had firecrackers, usually black cats or sometimes even M80s.  They set those suckers off and it wasn’t long before a police helicopter would come and shine his light down on us.  When we saw that helicopter approach we would high tail it back into the neighborhood and watch from a friends porch as the spot light scoured the golf course.  My friends Mom knew it was there for us but she was a “cool” Mom, never ratted us out and knew that we hadn’t done anything terrible.  Running through a golf course at night from a police helicopter is a pretty intense feeling.  Now you know why I was pretty nervous when the other guys wanted to go out onto the golf course at night!

I’d say the worst nighttime activity that was ever done was something called ‘Golfview Golfing.’  This was something I really didn’t participate in because it could cause damage and you could get in huge trouble.  Golfview Golfing was teeing off right there in the neighborhood in the middle of the night.  Someone would hit the ball right off of someone’s lawn then you’d listen for the sound which could be the ball simply hitting the street or making a loud ‘bang’ as it hit a house.  If it hit a house everyone would quickly run back to the designated meeting point – again someone’s house on Tall Timbers Court.  What a shock that would have caused the inhabitants of the house to hear a loud bang in the middle of the night caused by a golf ball hitting your house.  I never participated in Golfview Golfing.

In regards to unsuspecting participant shenanigans, there were a few.  One was to take a universal remote – they had just been invented – sneak up to a neighbors window and start changing the channels as they watched TV in the living room.  There are only a few variations in the type of houses one could buy in Golfview Woods so we knew the layout of all of them.  This means we knew were the living rooms were and most people watched TV in the late evening.  It would be so hard to contain the laughter at seeing an unsuspecting neighbor become very frustrated when he couldn’t figure out why it TV channel kept suddenly changing.

Another, and one that is a staple of childhood is hitting cars with snowballs.  We knew the neighborhood so well that it was almost impossible to catch us as we’d zig zag through the houses and through backyards.  There was however an occasion when one of us got caught.  We had hit a car belonging to someone we called “The Ghetto Boy,” who we believed must have been in the army as he was really muscular and looked quite mean.  We hit his car and then took off to another location to continue the fun.  Well, he drove around looking for us and we didn’t realize it was him again until we’d hit his car.  Well he got out of that car as fast as lightning and chased us.  Unfortunately Tony didn’t think to run until it was too late and The Ghetto Boy tackled him, put him in his car and drove to Tony’s house.  It was dark and Brendan and I were hiding under a pine tree.  Once we saw the car leave we rendezvoused at another ‘safe house,’ and gave Tony a call a few hours later.  He was in trouble.

popple

In the summer we also had another trick we played on unsuspecting motorists.  I’ve forgotten the name but I’ll write it once it comes to me.  The idea was to take fishing line and tie it to some stuffed animal like a bright orange Popple.  You’d then place it on the opposite side of the street and when a car came you’d slowly drag it across the street causing the car to stop as they thought some exotic animal must be crossing the road.  Only once or twice did a driver get out and examine the animal, most simply waited for it to pass.  If the driver got out and took our Popple, the bravest among us would go and ask the driver for it back.

One of the most daring pranks occurred senior year when we were staying out all night.  The next day was trash day so everyone had put their trashcans on the curb.  Well, we decided around 1:00 AM that it would be a great prank to go put those trash cans in the middle of the street.  This meant that the first person who got up in the morning to go to work would have to either move the cans or zig zag their way out of the neighborhood.  We got pretty far and did more than a couple of streets before becoming tired.

golfview-sign

Finally, there is the most famous and legendary prank that lives on in the memories of the longtime residents of Golfview Woods.  The Golfview Woods sign in the front of the neighborhood used to be a black silhouette of a golfer in his backswing.  Well, someone that isn’t me but who I knew very well, we’ll call him Michael, attached to this silhouette a very large boner which was quite obvious but fit in so well with the color scheme and design that there was only a 50-50 chance people passing by would see it.  The amazing thing is that it lasted for about a month before someone took it off.

The amazing thing about this prank is that thousands of cars would be coming and going on a weekly basis passing by this sign and it lasted for so long!  I cannot imagine how much laughter as well as revulsion that prank caused, yet nobody bothered to stop and take it off for a very long while.

When I was back this past year I went to take a picture of the sign as the neighborhood committee would soon be replacing it as it was very old and falling apart.  I actually met the owner of the very first house next to that sign and she remembers when the golfer had “three legs.”  She asked if I had done it and I answered truthfully that no, I hadn’t but I know who did.  I don’t know where Michael is these days, nor any of his siblings really.  His older brother was in my class and he’s completely off the grid, literally and internet-wise.

Part IV – Epilogue

As with all children and their childhoods, the days of roaming around the neighborhood came to an end when everyone started to get their driver’s licenses.  Suddenly we were no longer confined to the same familiar streets and had other, more exciting places to explore such as the dollar movies – Cinemark at Carriage Place up on Bethel Road.  Back in 1995 this used to be a hangout for young kids to cruise by, group up and just hang out.  There were strange, unfamiliar kids there from far away schools, lots of girls and sometimes even a few fights.  But the experience of the dollar movies is another post all together that I hope to write soon so will leave off here.

As soon as we had our driver’s licenses, the roaming around the neighborhood suddenly and abruptly ceased.

Now, twenty years later I like to pay a visit when I’m in Columbus, Ohio just to walk down its quaint streets and remember my childhood.  Long forgotten memories suddenly return and I feel as it is not only I who remembers the neighborhood but the neighborhood also remembers me.  I remember those warm summer nights out with friends and knowing there was no school the next day filled us all with absolute euphoria.  I remember being excited simply passing by some pretty girls house who I’d never have the courage to ask out.  Perhaps the most memories come flooding back at my most sacred place of all, Wilson Road Golf Course.  I’ll be the very first one on the course during a weekday, catch the sunrise and actually feel as though the past still exists, separated only by a very thin veil.

It is strange to think that the owners of of most of the houses in Golfview Woods are my age.  The owners I knew are now in their sixties and the majority have moved away.  Reading the neighborhood websites I also see that there are now more disturbing problems such as meth that has infested much of suburbia around the country and do to this there have been break ins.  Houses were never broken in to back in the 90s (there simply wasn’t a drug problem in Golfview) and I cannot recall seeing the police even once over ten years.  Now, I’ve seen a few bicycle patrols which seems very odd to me.  The neighborhood still looks and feels safe though.

Time marches on and Golfview Woods now has a new sign out front.  A new sign for a different neighborhood, with different owners creating new experiences.

Golfview Woods really was a great place to grow up.

 

 

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Books My Best Posts Quotes

Quotes – Letters To A Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke

I was introduced to this poet by my friend Nga earlier this year.  She asked if I had ever read Letters To a Young Poet after I had introduced her to The Tao of Pooh.  I had never heard of Rilke but kept him in my mind as someone whose works I should read.  I then saw him mentioned again in the book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (Page 40. “The Western poet Rainer Maria Rilke has said that our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure.” / Pg 320.  “As Rilke wrote, the protected hear that is ‘never exposed to loss, innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness; only the won-back heart can ever be satisfied:  free, through all it has given up, to rejoice in its mastery.'”) I then knew I should waste no more time and began to read his letters.  His very first letter seemed as though he was speaking directly to me as his advice about writing is something I’ve been doing for most of my life.  As far as I know I’m the only one who keeps a life journal in which I write down my thoughts freely.  I have a very acute sense of the passage of time and want to record my memories, and experiences; I want to live life as fully as possible.  Every experience, every memory is a jewel and this blog is my treasure vault, my greatest possession.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m simply a tourist, experiencing an interactive ride that moves along a predetermined path, yet sometimes, and with great effort can I change the course of the ride (or perhaps how I experience it) if I wish.  Perhaps another soul is beginning this same ride in an identical amusement park and living the same experiences I now call memories?

I get ahead of myself.  This post is to record quotes by Rilke, many of which give me confidence that what I do with this blog is not crazy, I’m not alone.  It is as though he is a kindred spirit; and although I am certainly no poet and have only read his letters very recently, I have written according to his advice for many years and had many of these same thoughts.

Letters to a Young Poet
By Rainer Maria Rilke

Letter One – February 17th, 1903

“Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsay able than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.”

“This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose.”

“So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty Describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember.”

“And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sound – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attention to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance.”

“Sir, I can’t give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to, the question of whether you must create.”

Letter Three – April 23rd, 1903

“In it there is nothing that does not seem to have been understood, held, lived, and known in memory’s wavering echo; no experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others.”

Letter Four – July 16th, 1903

“If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.”

For those who are near you are far away, you write, and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast. And if what is near you is far away, then your vastness is already among the stars and is very great; be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

Letter Six – December 23rd 1903

“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours – that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn’t understand a thing about what they were doing.

And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child’s wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.”

Letter Eight – August 12th, 1904

“We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it. This is in the end the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to face the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us. The fact that people have in this sense been cowardly has done infinite harm to life; the experiences that are called it apparitions, the whole so-called “spirit world,” death, all these Things that are so closely related to us, have through our daily defensiveness been so entirely pushed out of life that the senses with which we might have been able to grasp them have atrophied. To say nothing of God.”

“For it is not only indolence that causes human relationships to be repeated from case to case with such unspeakable monotony and boredom; it is timidity before any new, inconceivable experience, which we don’t think we can deal with. But only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.”

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Books My Best Posts

the Tao of Pooh

I just finished reading the Tao of Pooh and I enjoyed it very much.  I know nothing of Taoism but through the book the basic principles were easily explained.  Without acting like the ‘desiccated scholar’ and going point by point and referencing this and that I think I’d like to summarize the points I think I learned that most appeal to me.

the vinegar tasters
the vinegar tasters

I like the idea of just ‘being,’ to just appreciate the moment by seeing what is already in front of me.  In this ‘modern society’ my brain has been trained to race to accomplish this task then accomplish that like a ‘Bisy Backson.’ My mind tells me I need to turn on the TV, look at my smart phone or find some other type of distraction.  But if I just sit still and appreciate the moment I can hear the birds outside, I hear the bubbling of my fish tank and I can see the flowers in my garden swaying in the breeze.  It is in these moments of quiet that I’m at peace.  It is a very difficult thing to quiet the mind as thoughts calling me to go engage in some activity continually enter my mind and I physically have a hard time sitting still or meditating for more than five minutes.

I’ve only tipped a toe in the ocean that is Taoism through this beautiful book but I’ve found so many nuggets of great wisdom that I pulled out my highlighter and would like to write them down here for easy reference as I do not yet have the ability to immediately recall everything in every book that I’ve ever read as my mind is already forgetful at the ripe age of 38.

When you discard arrogance, complexity and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block:  Life is Fun.

I knew this; it occurred to me around the age of 34 when I’d been in the USA for a few years and finally time to think and reflect after traveling the world and all that I had experienced.  Living overseas and learning different languages gave me a certain amount of confidence and through this confidence I no longer needed to compare myself with others.  I had done something unique and for me that was worth more than material things that many in our society base their own self worth on – diamond rings – expensive cars anyone?  My young son also influence me by his excitement of the world and how he found bugs simply fascinating.  I too took a closer look at bugs and through this was able to rediscover how interesting my own backyard can be let alone the rest of the world!  Along with my newfound confidence and the amazing insights of my son I was free to fully enjoy what other ‘adults’ might find silly as they are mostly concerned with Very Serious Subjects for Very Serious People;  or sports, but sports can be serious to serious people.

Brain can be fooled.  Inner Nature, when relied on, cannot be fooled.  But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much.  Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others.

The idea of listening to your heart, or inner nature, or that little voice – whatever you want to call it – really appeals to me.  Our society is literally polluted with noise, propaganda, sales pitches, things that are trying to get you to think in a certain way.  As I mentioned above I find it hard to meditate or even sit still for more than a few moments as I’ve been trained to be a task-doer and have to process or ignore a complete barrage of noise every single day.  I have made it a priority to find quiet time everyday in which to empty my mind, think of nothing and try to actually listen to my inner nature; I want to give it a chance in between the shouting of my Brain that rudely interrupts with random thoughts.

Our Bisy Backson religions, sciences, and business ethics have tried their hardest to convince us that there is a Great Reward waiting for us somewhere, and that what we have to do is spend our lives working like lunatics to catch up with it.  Whether it’s up in the sky, behind the next molecule, or in the executive suite, it’s somehow always farther along than we are – just down the road, on the other side of the world, past the moon, beyond the stars….

There is never enough, we always must do more.  In our society we are trained to never be content with what we have, with who we are.  If I had to describe the USA in 2016 in one word I would say “more.”  Our entire system is based on spending more, acquiring more, doing more, progressing more.  To just sit down and appreciate who we are, what we have does not compute in this society.  And in the business world it is even worse.  Every boss everywhere could simply be replaced with a parrot who continually repeats “more.”  Best sales year ever?  “More.”  Highest profits ever recorded?  “More.”

The main problem however is in our own minds.  “The grasping mind,” always wants more, is never satisfied.  Happy is he who can sit down on a park bench, feel the breeze and say to himself, “I am content.”  Or better yet, “I am happy.”  This is very hard thing when you have the trifecta of society, work and religion all telling you “more, more, more.”

Looking back a few years, we see that the first Bisy Backsons in this part of the world, the Puritans, practically worked themselves to death in the fields without getting much of anything in return for their tremendous efforts.

“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said.
“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
Yes, but—–”
“Why ruin it?” he said.
“But you could be doing something Important,” I said.
“I am,” said Pooh.
“Oh? Doing what?”
“Listening,” he said.
“Listening to what?”
“To the birds.  And that squirrel over there.”
“What are they saying?” I asked
“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh
“But you know that already,” I said.
“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he replied.”

Anyway, from the Miserable Puritan came the Restless Pioneer, and from him, the Lonely Cowboy, always riding off into the sunset, looking for something just down the trail.  From this rootless, dissatisfied ancestry has come the Bisy Backson

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Backson thinks of progress in terms of fighting and overcoming.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  The fight against “____.” Insert just about anything in the blank and it has been used in American society the past forty years.  I’ve written a lot about this in my blog and in fact got so tired of all the fighting wrote a nice little rant just a little while ago:  Fight everything everywhere

Another reason this book really appeals to me is how it references Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  That became one of my favorite books these past couple of years and strengthened my belief that I was not crazy for wanting to appreciate the moment, to slow down and just be, even though society keeps screaming ‘more, more more.’  I like to walk in my garden, appreciate sunsets, work less.  I do not like to watch sports and shout at my TV giving instructions to players who cannot hear me.  I would much rather listen to the singing of the birds and feel dew on the grass than sit in a great stadium with everybody screaming for their player to put the ball where it needs to go more than the other team whose fans are screaming the same thing.

Henry David Thoreau put it this way, in Walden:

Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?  We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.  Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches to-day to save nine tomorrow.

What could we call that moment before we begin to eat the honey?  Some would call it anticipation, but we think it’s more than that.  We would call it awareness.

This occurred to me making Thanksgiving dinner; which takes all day to make but is eaten in the course of half an hour.  It occurred to me that I actually enjoy making the food in preparation and anticipation of a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner than actually sitting down and eating it!  Perhaps it could partly be due to the fact that we invite so many guests I end up having to sit at the kid’s table even though it is my house, my food and I cooked it!  But that isn’t it; the anticipation of something is often more exciting than actually receiving or doing the thing.

Do you want to be really happy?  You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.

That’s it!

An Empty sort of mind is valuable for finding pearls and tails and things because it can see what’s in front of it.  An Overstuffed mind is unable to.

To see the beauty of what is right in front of me:  the flowers, the trees, the sunsets, my friends and family are all right there, I just need to be able to see clearly.  In order to do that I must quiet Brain and get rid of the never-ending Thoughts telling me to do this, acquire that and see how beautiful life is for who I am and what I’ve already got.

But the adult is not the highest stage of development.  The end of the cycle is that of the independent, clear-minded, all-seeing Child.  That is the level known as wisdom.

I tried to explain this very thought to someone close to me many years ago; I did a terrible job and could not express the thought which is written perfectly above and thus was called crazy.  For me, the quote means that we should return to the awe and excitement children have with just about everything. Life, reality and why anything exists at all is a grand mystery that we should all be excited to be a part of.  We should want to ask infinite questions such as young children do and to pop out of bed running to go get the day started morning after morning.

Well, that is everything I had highlighted in the Tao of Pooh.  I think I’ll go take a walk in my garden.