Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Swimming with Mom

Treasured memories, pulled up and pondered, furrow my melancholy brow and wet my face with salty, sunny-morning tears. Priest Lake, Idaho, Grandma, Grandpa, summer days on the sand, sliding through the water, Mom swimming the cool lake's clearness in her rubbery white bathing cap an iridescent blue dragon-fly hitch-hiking on her head as she grins, reaching her tanned, toned arms forward in perfect free-style strokes, while I swim confidently right beside her.

Memories of ten-year old me at the lake with my dear mother ache my heart today.

I miss her most in the summer, particularly when I am swimming.

Yet, my heart shines in joy - through the ache - at my ebullient memories.

I hope there is swimming in Heaven. I want to swim beside my mom again.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Long Live the Printed Page!

"Recent scientific studies have shown that holding a book and reading it creates a richer experience for the brain than reading something that is online. So, in addition to reading, we should read printed, physical books. For in addition to writing being the greatest invention in human history, the book may be the greatest device ever invented."      ~~~Byron Tully
A certain satisfaction puffed this bibliophile's mind when I learned that the sales of e-books are declining while the sales of physical books are increasing.

Trinity College in Dublin - a magical place 
At last, science is proving what those of us who know the value of holding a real book in one's hand have known all along: devices do not come close to the experience of reading a paper book. The smell of the ink and pages and their feel under our fingers, the subconscious measuring of how much we've read and how much of the book remains simply by measuring the thickness of pages under left and right hands, the scraping, swooshing sound of the pages turning and the covers of a hardback thumping closed are pleasant, interactive sensations. The sight of our books on our shelves comforts us with the assurance that our old and new friends are always near, ready to help us escape or learn, to inspire or remind. These things matter, they make life better.

Aside from my obvious sentimentality, I have pragmatic reasons for preferring a printed book over an e-book. Science is proclaiming that it can be hard to absorb an e-book. The chronology of a story can be less fixed in the reader's mind, especially younger readers.  More is remembered about a text's timeline if it is read in print as opposed to on a device.

Studying is more efficient with the printed book as bookmarking, highlighting, and flipping forward and backward are easier, thus saving time and helping the reader's mind stay focused on content.

Also, e-books tire one's eyes and brain as they require a higher cognitive workload due to the dual-task of reading while using a computer.

And finally, most of us have either experienced or read about the fact that looking at a computer screen before bed contributes not only to disrupted sleep patterns but to increased tiredness the following day.

Granted, there is room in this world for both types of books. However, let's make it perfectly clear, the e-book has not dethroned the printed book.

Long live the printed book!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Death, Where is Your Sting?

He was in His early thirties.

Just a kid, by today's standards.

Yet, Jesus lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death, and most importantly, awakened to eternal life.

I imagine Jesus stirring to consciousness there on that cold slab. Remember, He was a young man, a human being like the rest of us. Have you ever awakened from a nightmare only to react like Ebenezer Scrooge, rejoicing to be alive? Jesus must have been rejoicing, too. His sacrifice was accepted by God! He conquered death! He knew full well what, in His obedience, He had done not only for Himself, but for those who believe in Him, those who are drawn to the Goodness of God.

The Prince of Peace sat up, and unwound the grave clothes from His body. Then, Jesus folded the small facial cloth and set it on the slab. An interesting note about that action, the folding of the facial cloth, is that in Hebrew custom, when a master was finished with his meal, he'd leave his napkin wadded up on his plate to signal his servant that he was finished eating and would be leaving the table. If the master left a folded napkin at his place, it meant he would return, so please, servant, leave his plate and silverware on the table. Was Jesus, in folding that piece of cloth, leaving a signal that He'd be returning for us? Perhaps. At last, the Messiah walked out of the dark tomb of a rich man into the fresh air of Jerusalem.

Think of it. Just think of His experience.

Death could not keep Him. He rose victorious over it. He is alive today.

Because He lives, we have the choice to follow Him to another Age, which we call Heaven. It is there He prepares a place for us so that where He is, we may be also. He waits for us, his younger brothers and sisters. It is glorious, and so humbling.

To you, gentle reader, I wish an Easter Observation full of love, joy, meaning, refreshment, and the realization that Easter marks the most Important Event in World History. The resurrection of Jesus.

I hope He has your attention...and your love.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 23, 2018

SJW's and Social Media

A young man I know proudly considers himself a social justice warrior, also known by its acronym SJW. A socially awkward chin-on-chest mumbler who, in person, cannot string together a coherent sentence, hides behind his computer screen. He is one of the many who spends inordinate amounts of time on social media stabbing his harshly written opinion, coupled with links to obscure oddball websites, into the comment streams of anyone with whom he disagrees about social issues. Like a pit bull terrier with a hunk of raw meat, he never lets go, viciously hurling insults, coarse terms, and demeaning epithets. You know the type. You may even be the victim of a shocking, hurtful SJW diatribe.

Generally speaking, if an SJW realizes he cannot turn you, he or she immediately begins a campaign of humiliation, vilification, and isolation the aim of which is to utterly destroy credibility. He wants you to tremble at his words and back down. Then, he'll kick you again. Twice.

I've been giving this phenomenon some thought. Though I immediately discovered the uselessness of engaging an SJW - just don't! - still, the behavior mystifies me and, to be quite honest, brings out a personal reaction I'm not okay with. To become distractedly frustrated - or even angered - enough to wreck a day or two is not acceptable. Really not acceptable at all.

Rather than stoop to the uncivilized level of these misguided superhero wannabes by clashing with them on social media, might merely ignoring them be a perfect response? Imagine willingly allowing their hostile, condescending remarks to sit unanswered in comment streams? Who cares if these snarky scribes consider it a win? Simply walking away into the sunshine of our self-discipline and freedom clears the air of the effects of the SJW's vitriolic verbosity.

Yes, this is the advice of parents everywhere, "Ignore them and they'll stop," but sometimes, in some cases, it actually works. At the very least refusing to engage will save us unnecessary aggravation.

If revenge is a life well lived, and the best defense is a good offense, then, perhaps the most productive and efficient way to deal with the unpleasant SJW is to not become the anti-SJW. Instead of pandering to the irrationality by mimicking the pointless arguing, how about we simply reject the bait, walk away, model graciousness and poise?

During the 16th through early 20th centuries, Parisians (and others) hosted salons in their homes. A salon was a hand-picked gathering of people from various walks of life who held diverse world views and contrasting interests. These salons could be lively, but they were civil. The intellectual pushing and pulling of vigorous discussions on a number of topics created opportunities for people to grapple with new ideas and evaluate their own perspectives. Illumination occurred.

Compare the cultured salon approach with the blanket bombing method of communication wielded by the SJW. Where a salon offers permission to fervently disagree, then, cordially shake hands at leave taking, the overbearing, intolerance of the SJW method leaves a clenching restriction on free-thought and connection. It creates alienation. Courteous intellectual discussions nurture the mind, create bridges of understanding. Malicious, hastily scribbled venom turns an opponent into an enemy.  What good can possibly come from such behavior? Salons grow deep friendships, nurture community cohesion. SJW's rarely make disciples of those who challenge them. Instead, they foster division.

Here is a place where a small change in procedure can make a difference. Not only will courteously countering the social media boorishness of the SJW crowd be a blow to its anarchic mentality, but it will be a boon to the ideal of dignified living.

Like a detained child creeping to his bedroom door contritely asking Mommy if he can come out now, the young social justice warrior I previously mentioned has been known to, when a vitriolic comment of his is left alone smelling up a comment stream, meekly inquire if he has offended his target. He has even apologized.

Travel the high road. It's better.
An ounce of restraint is worth a pound of exasperation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Day of Rest, Meant for You

A man I admire suggested something that resonates with me.

He suggested that I reclaim Sunday as the special day it was meant to be.

"How exactly?" I asked, curiosity piqued. "I already attend church on Sunday and make a family dinner for my loved ones."

"Unplug from technology," he answered. "Experience the moment, the important real-life moment that surrounds you."

I thought to myself, "Sunday as lived in my childhood. Sounds heavenly."

The following weekend I unplugged. My family wasn't quite ready to join me, but they sure supported my effort.

No television. No texting. No iPod. No email. No Facebook, no computer screen at all.

Instead, I rested. I looked out the window. I walked through the front door, down the street, and to the park. I sat on a park bench and watched people play tennis, and basketball, push their tots in swings. I greeted dog-walkers and children, even the occasional, bent-necked phone-staring adolescent. I watched the treetops sway gently in the breeze. For a long time I watched those treetops. Cares melted away. Just like that.

Just like that.

Back home a book beckoned. I opened its front cover and read. And read and read and read until a peaceful twenty-minute nap overtook me.

Awakening refreshed, I sought family members. We talked. We laughed. We played badminton and gardened. Then, we sat quietly together amidst our colorfully budding and blooming verdant backyard as our exuberance and sharings softly settled into our hearts and minds in that gentle evening. Preparing an easy supper together bonded us, the eating of it soothed our now receptive, relaxed souls. Sweet connection! Fuel for the week ahead.

Life is precious. People more so. It's difficult to meaningfully connect via technology. Lack of human in-the-flesh experiences with others takes its toll, making us hedgy, unnaturally introverted, anxious, suspicious, and often just plain wrong about situations and people. Misunderstandings abound, conclusions are jumped upon. It's a problem.

Please allow me to be the amen corner for my friend's advice. Unplug at least once a week, preferably on Sunday when the rest of the world tends to run a little slower. See if your experiences match mine: the meeting of life in its natural state, the infusion of fresh thoughts, restfulness, vibrant experiences, and the warmth of genuine human interaction.
"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." ~~ Jesus (Mark 2:27)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

 Best Society is not a fellowship of the wealthy, nor does it seek to exclude those who are not of exalted birth; but it is an association of gentlefolk, of which good form in speech, charm of manner, knowledge of the social amenities, and instinctive consideration for the feelings of others, are the credentials by which society the world over recognizes its chosen members. ~~ Emily Post

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Embrace Sacrifice

Visualize the moment.

How do I see myself there?

What thrills me?

What contents me?

What is important to me?

In that moment in time toward which I am daily progressing how do I look, feel, and think?

Have I made myself proud? Am I pleased with the way I spent my time each day from the moment I started working toward my dream until I reached that moment of destiny?

Now, what can I do today to ensure that moment is how I desire it to be?

What action can I take today?

What thoughts need I have?

What changes can I make?

What plan can I make for tomorrow - and the week after - to propel me to my goal?

My future begins this very moment.

In every happy moment, in every dream-come-true sacrifices were made along the path. It's the way of things, the balance of things. Nothing joyous comes without something difficult being involved. Every celebration requires time given up, money surrendered, sometimes sweat, and even disagreement. The joy of a child coming into the world requires labor pain. Dream travel requires money surrendered, plans made, time arranged, packing, paperwork, patience, and more.

Everything has a price.

To expect a dream to magically appear is wrong-headed. Dreams don't come about that way.

Somewhere something is sacrificed.

Sacrifice and deprivation are not always bad. In the case of making dreams come true they are essential. They are the means to the end. They are good. They are required. They are friendly.

Embrace sacrifice. Embrace deprivation.

They are the paths down which lies the stuff of imagination and delight.

~~ I wrote this out in late summer of 2017, after buying my plane ticket for Europe. It pleases me to know that the moment in my life for which I embraced sacrifice and deprivation played out even more beautifully and magically in reality than I even dreamed. This is very good advice, this post. ~~ Cherie