Lessons from a Child

child handing flower to adult

She was dressed in pink sweatpants with the word, “sweet” emblazoned on her diaper-clad bottom.

On her feet were brown clogs. Atop her head was a wool, knitted, patchwork cap of pink, yellow, and red, giving her a pastel “Rastafarian” look. However, instead of dreadlocks wrapped within, a waterfall of blonde, bouncy, curls framed her wide-open blue eyes and light complexion.

In her chubby, small, right hand, she carried what used to be a cookie; now, however, all that remained was a half eaten, saliva-covered, dollop of doughy goo with a smattering of pink frosting encrusting the edges. “Cookie” in hand, she bounded as if on springs from one corner of the bakery to the other, her grandfather always in eye shot, as she pointed to each of the items on the bottom shelf of the bakery’s glass case, looking to him for the correct word.

“Cookie,” he said, as she pointed to a green, sprinkle covered cut-out of a dinosaur.

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This is Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

My car is getting on in years.

broken-down-carIts skin has faded splotches of color; it has a strange assortment of creaks and grunts; and it doesn’t have the get up and go it had. (Ironically, it’s an allegory for me.) I’d like to purchase a shiny new one, but despite all the improvement in auto technology, they have still not come up with a way to remove car payments. Should they do so, I’d be so johnny-on-the-spot at the dealership, you’d think I drove a Bentley Continental GT Speed with 616 horsepower to get there.

Putting aside such fantasies, and since I drive to many of my engagements, and am leery of using my auto, I rent. I don’t need anything fancy; if it has cruise control, I’m good to go.

Upon arriving to pick up my car for this trip, the attendant informed me that I received a free upgrade.

“Would you like the luxury car or the sporty car?”

With 12 hours of driving ahead of me over the next two days, a luxury car would be nice. However, the increased cost in gasoline — as well as my inner teen — veered me to a tricked-out, metallic-charcoal-grey 2014 Mustang. Said inner teen was revving higher than the tachometer as I pulled off the lot.

As mentioned, my only real requirement is cruise control.

It saves wear and tear on my lower body, and by setting it for the speed limit, saves wear and tear on my wallet. This way, I don’t have to worry about speeding tickets, which I have not had in about 25 years. (You know where this story is going, don’t you?)

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Placing the Control Within

Some time ago, I postulated that the locus of control for our lives is internal.

That might sound high fallutin’ and all, but it’s pretty simple; my take was that as long as we put control over what happens to us “out there” rather than squarely within, nothing will ever change. We will remain where we are in our development.

I state that without judgment, just pointing out a fact.

Delicious lasagne

For example, it may be true that Aunt Margaret is pushing the deep-dish lasagna she made “just for you” like a pasta addict enabler. Equally true is she gets offended when you turn it down, and saying “no” to her home cooking causes a family rift. It might also be accurate that your husband is unsupportive when he sits next to you munching obliviously away on your favorite flavor of potato chips, while you’re stuck in a funk with celery sticks and carrots. Yes, you’ve told him a thousand times that you’d like him to not do that, and yes, you’re right, he doesn’t seem to care.

However… (don’t you just hate that word sometimes?) the decision about whether or not to succumb to temptation or pressure – as difficult as it might be – still lies within; nowhere else. In effect, it lives within. As long as we say things like, “She made me…” or “I had no choice…” or “It was too hard…” we are committing to stay put.

I’ve seen Aunt Margaret when she’s ticked off and I don’t blame anyone for avoiding a Hatfield-McCoy blow out. But, whether we’re trying to lose weight, increase our income, or just plain be happier; as long as we allow others to determine our actions, they’re controlling us. It’s understandable that sometimes the “social price” we have to pay to follow our path doesn’t justify the return. Again, I’m not placing value; been there, done that; I’m just analyzing.

So what prompted this rehash of a previous topic?

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Shaking Up My Thoughts

After the day’s folderol has wound down, it’s time to relax.

Lay on the couch please

Planted habitually on the left side of the couch, my wife places on herself an animal-print blanket she sewed, and the then places on said animal-print blanket three animals: two cats and a dog. I sit on the other side of the sofa and we watch TV, check out a movie, read, or – gasp! – possibly even talk to each other.

If you’re looking for wild parties, we’re not the go-to place. I’m not sure we ever were, but for a fact, I know we’re not now. We’re not exciting – and that’s the way we like it.

Recently, our pattern was most literally shaken up when the ground began trembling.

If you live in earthquake country, you know what comes next. If you don’t, there’s a mental and emotional checklist one goes through at the first inkling of a temblor.

1)    Look for others nearby and check their reactions to decide if you’re just dizzy or disoriented, or to get validation that the movement beneath your feet is actually happening.

2)    Determine if a large vehicle is rumbling down your street vibrating the entire neighborhood.

3)    Check to see if hanging objects are swinging.

4)    If indeed you are neither inebriated nor are tanks or eighteen-wheelers patrolling your street, and your favorite dangling knick-knack is making like a pendulum; then commence praying that this now verified earthquake will not be the “Big One.”

5)    Feel fear rise up in your throat. Decide if you’re heading for safety. Wait for quake to pass. Realize how powerless you are in the grasp of Mother Nature.

Steps one through four pass blindingly fast.

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Getting Over Myself

Night sky with star tracks

In eons past, when Greek society was the pinnacle of what we were, noble thinkers such as Aristolte and Ptloemy studied the velvet curtain with pinprick lights that encompassed the night sky.

They, among others, deduced that the Earth was the center point of a vast, miraculous arrangement, whereby every star twinkling at night; the shiny, silent, silvery moon; even Apollo, fiery, blazing god of the sun; all orbited on a vast globe about the our planet. Referred to as geocentric theory of the solar system, it held true until the early modern age.

In the 1500s, contrary to contemporary opinion, Nicolaus Copernicus postulated the planets, including Mother Earth, actually cycled about the sun instead of the other way around. This heliocentric explanation of the solar system became the standard bearer of science until the late 1900s; when, at that point, the baby-boomers reached full power, upturning all convention thought.

“What about me?” became our catch phrase; and civilization adjusted. Attitudes shifted, mores changed, and eventually we discovered that everything revolves around us, giving birth to the current, Egocentric, theory of the solar system.

My prodigious portion of the population has pounded a passageway through history, pummeling posterity and reshaping the social order.  In the fifties and sixties, pop culture adjusted to our demands. In the seventies, so did education, followed by the workforce. We are accustomed to getting what we want, when we want, and how we want it. It has been the norm. It is what is.

It is also no more.

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