Archive for November, 2010

Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.
— John Lennon


Last night at the hospital I visited with a woman who retired from her career in education two years ago.
For whole decades, she told me, she dreamed of retirement with her husband–of her golden years in which she and her hard-working mate could travel and finally (she emphasized the word “finally”) enjoy life and have some fun.


Her husband died, about a year before the long-awaited retirement, of a sudden, massive stroke. She stuck out her final year in the work place, however, and retired with new plans to travel on her own around the U.S. and also France and Spain and all the wonderful places in the world.

But within mere weeks of retirement she suffered the disabling effects of a rather rare kind of disease. She could still travel if she wanted to, she noted, but has determined that it wouldn’t be worth the hassle and anyway, she fears spending very much time away from her doctors.

I’ve heard this story many times. It comes with variations, but the essence of the story is always the same. Someone works like a mule, often working second jobs or enterprises on the side so that some day they can relax and enjoy life.

This sort of parallels with the previous posting at this blog about our conceits and deceits and our tendency to believe that if we live a certain lifestyle and believe in God and try to live by the Golden Rule our every dream will come true. And never mind that Jesus said the rain falls on the evil and the righteous alike.

Another way of saying that is, that the one thing you can count on in life, other than death, is that life ain’t fair. We all know it’s not fair, we all say that all the time, but we tend to believe it’s always going to be mostly fair to me. Or that it should be fair to me. It’s like Hell. Many people believe there’s a literal place called Hell where bad people will burn forever and ever and ever (what a loving God THAT would be), but no one thinks he or she is so bad that he or she going to be the one go to Hell and burn forever and ever and ever. That kind of Hell would make God a monster, but few people think they are so bad that they’d have to worry about such a Hell anyway.

Life really is unfair, and dreams really do die hard. The dreams of retirement. The dreams women have of a Prince Charming and men have of finding a woman who looks like Charlize Theron and cooks and cleans like Beaver Cleaver’s mom. The dreams of finally getting that plum job or promotion that will finally bring in enough coinage, as if we can ever make enough coinage to satisfy us and give us peace.

Few things sadden me more than stories I hear from people who have spent their entire lives fantasizing about the many and various things they thought would finally fulfill them and make them happy. They dreamed of how wonderful life would finally be when they reached retirement, or when they found the dream lover and spouse, or when they finally had eye-popping paychecks coming in.

Having quoted from a John Lennon song at the top of this posting, another song lyric comes to mind from Don Henley: “We’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales.”

If you’re not living for today–if you’re not living in the present moment, you’ve already died and gone to Hell. You may not realize it until your dream retirement “finally” arrives only to blow up, or until your dream lover turns out not to look eternally like Charlize Theron or not to be so pampering as she was in the courtship and honeymoon, or until you lose your magnificent job and the big paychecks aren’t there but the big mortgage payment on the McMansion is.

None of this is to suggest that we shouldn’t plan and dream our dreams and work toward fulfilling those, but dreams don’t come with lifetime warranties or money-back guarantees.

Breath deep, and thank God for the breathe God breathed into you at this moment, because God and life itself are in every breathe and every moment of the here and the now.

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“Wrinkled women lifting their faces, chasing their youth.
Fat men sucking in bellies.
Poor folks putting on airs.
Sinners acting like saints.
All of us keeping pace with our companions, stepping lively in this dance of deceit.

From “Home to Harmony: A Harmony Novel), by Philip Gulley*

Maybe conceit is just another word for deceit, and we’re all conceited people, some of us more than others.

Yours truly the Jitterbugger wayyyy more than others, so you can charge me guilty of conceit and deceit under what my prosecutor friends refer to as “the plenty guilty rule of law.” I’m OK with my wrinkles (most men are) but do suck in my belly a lot (I’ve been known to actually do that; intentionally stand up straighter and suck it up!).

The conceit of the times we live in–which my own “Baby Boom” generation started–is that if we eat reasonably well, exercise hard and intensely enough, challenge our minds and bodies enough with bold new tests of our wills, we’ll be golden. We’ll live a long, long healthy life and die in our sleep with a smile on our face.

Granted–we’ll have to believe in God and try to be good people, but if we just live by the golden rule we’ll be golden. Believing in whatever our vague notion of God might be and trying to be good people is the best insurance of all to spare us any discomfort in life, not to mention any pain, suffering or death.

Take a scripture here and take a scripture from there and yeah–you can cobble together that so-called “prosperity theology” and then you can make the woefully wrongheaded case that, if we just try to be good people God not only will deliver us from any pain or discomfort–God will actually reward us and enrich us with plenty cash left over for “Black Friday,” that day in which Americans, in all their conceit, run over each other in the effort to get great deals on great stuff like treadmills and wrinkle removers that will feed their conceits and deceits.

There are plenty of preachers and churches out there that are perfectly willing to exploit this conceit and deceit theology to the fullest. They build megachurches on our conceits and deceits. But then, they are only one pack among the wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. Politicians, the giant corporations (they who actually elect our politicians), advertisers–all the many and varied wolves out there don’t even have to attack us. We’re plenty williing in all our conceits and deceits to keep them fed down to our bones (or our last dollar), and they know it.

I’m thinking in my reflection times with God today about what my conceits and deceits are, and how I might get myself detached from those and get closer my God to thee. Sucking in my ever-inflatable belly has always been a strain and a drain on my energies and just ain’t working for me anyway.

*(Click here for another website of Philip Gulley, the fine and might fine writer and Quaker minister.)

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Actually that would be four cool black dudes: We got your Bill Withers singing with the great sax man Grover Washington Jr. on the fabulous love song “Just the Two of Us.”

Three songs I never, ever get tired of and doubt at this late date that I ever will.

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What’s amazing is that these Fox “News”* geniuses are singing the praises of something they read in The Washington Post.

Fox “News” people aren’t supposed to read The Washington Post and like it; they are supposed to read it and hate every word of it and bash it relentlessly as leftist trash.

Most peculiar, Mama Grizzly.

(Note to the many newcomers to this blawg that is saving the world with its wit, wisdom, provocations and stimulations while possibly (probably) alienating whole towns, nations, cities and states. We always put Fox “News” in quotation marks because Fox “News” is a news organ in name only.)

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I’m now into roughly Day Five of Bronchitis Hell, which has had me laid low and ailing as much from cabin fever as anything.

The Hydrocodone the doc prescribed (kids, don’t take this drug without a prescription) keeps the violent cough quieted down. It also keeps me woozy and too off balance to operate a coffee pot, much less a motor vehicle.

Woe is me. Now that I’ve read a stack of books till I’m cross-eyed I need some healing, balancing music to listen to and sexy dancers to look at.

Habib Koite and his world beat vibe is so mellow and healing–small wonder that Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne are among his biggest fans because Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne have taste in music almost as good as yer Jitterbugger.

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If you remember these commercials, remember to take your Geritol tonight.

(Gotta say in all seriousness, though— the first commercial vid of the doctors who love their Camel cigarettes feels a little creepy. Hard to believe smoking was considered a relaxing and tasty and downright healthy habit, isn’t it?

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What other people think of you is none of your business.

Paulo Coelho

That insight from Paulo Coelho is a good thought to think about all day and maybe into tonight too. It could be a liberating thought for a lot of people if they would but only let it sink in and let go of the disabling fears that keep them from finding their true callings, needs and desires in life.

To heck with what other people may think of you. Your only business is to be you.

Find what God put you here to do, be who God made you to be. And if someone doesn’t like it–if someone thinks harshly of you or less of you, or thinks you’re crazy or weird or whatever they may think of you for doing what you were put here to do and being who you are at your core being where that divine flame flares, that’s not your business anyway.

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