What You Put In –
This morning I got up early to prepare for a presentation to a classroom that would be filled with teachers. It can be intimidating teaching those who teach as a profession. I prepared the coffee maker, got a shower, shaved, prepped my clothes and went back into the kitchen for a nice cup of joe. I poured the coffee slowly to avoid splashing and instead of dark brown delicious goodness, it was a hot cup of light brown water. Instantly I realized my mistake, I had forgotten to put coffee grounds in the filter. *Facepalm!* I put new water back in, made sure to also put in coffee grounds and waited. Finally, I actually had coffee in my coffee mug.
Later this morning I presented to the teachers and everything went well. They were engaged, asked questions and the eighty minutes of lecture time went by quickly which is usually a good sign. Afterward, I was packing up and a teacher asked if I could come back and present to another group of educators and parents. I told her absolutely.
The presentation I gave is powerful. I wrote it, then a media specialist added the slide format, and it was reviewed, refined and approved by our publicity department. A lot of teamwork and effort went into the presentation and it shows because it’s always engaging and informative. All the right things were put into it and all of the right things come out.
Now, if I could just remember to do this to my coffee and the rest of life…
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Last week, exiting a store, I was behind a woman whose arms were full of boxed soda cans. As she was walking she suddenly stopped and bent down to pick up a coin she had spotted on the pavement. The drinks shifted, she adjusted them in her arms and was able to grab the coin with her fingers while also holding her keys. I was impressed with her dexterity but also puzzled as to why she was putting that much effort into the shiny object?
I was reminded of the story of the wise man and the city dweller who had met on a bench. The city was full of hustle and bustle and the man asked the sage what he was doing? Quietly the wise man said; “At this moment I am listening to the sound of a cricket.” The city dweller tilted his head and asked; “With all these people, the traffic, the cacophony of the city, how do you hear a solitary, small, insect?” The wise man smiled and asked the city dweller for a coin. He gave him one and the wise one flipped it into the air and it came down and bounced on the sidewalk. Immediately, many who were walking stopped to look for the coin. “See?‘ said the teacher, ‘It’s what we’re listening for, focused on, that counts.”
Old News –
The last couple of weeks of February have been a rough time for me the last several years. There are painful, heart hurting memories which seem to resurface and dealing with these challenging emotions is difficult.
Today I cleaned up our yard after a round of storms and rain this last week. I threw them on a burn pile and set it afire. I also had some old fence pieces and newspapers to burn. The newspapers are from my wife. She is doing her best to understand and begin to use extreme couponing in an effort to save money. I made sure to take old piles of newspaper and watched as the flames began consuming them. I tried reading some of the headlines and articles before the fire reached them and then they were gone.
As the fire leaped into the air I thought about it being old news which was out of date and historical. I also reflected on the memories I’ve struggled with the last few weeks and tried to remind myself that healing and time can also consume the heartache of the past and that our history enlightens our present.
The Chase –
This morning, on my way to work, I rounded a curve and was met with two dogs. I could tell by the look of the younger one a chase was about to go down. The other, who looked much older, wasn’t so sure. As I passed the younger it took off running as fast as it could trying to match my speed. I’m not sure he’d know what to do if he caught me but he was giving it his best effort. The elder ran for a while and then gave up. He knew he wasn’t fast enough to catch his prize. I smiled at the younger dog and his stamina. He kept up for a long time and even after I turned a corner and accelerated he was still giving it a go. I never saw the older dog again.
It reminded me of life. When we’re young we chase after shiny things, fast things. Our attention is easily captured by whatever’s on the horizon. We put a lot of effort into obtaining things which never satisfy or give us the rush of the chase. As we get older we realize there’s only so much passion, energy and time to give to pursuing and, hopefully, we understand there are precious few things worth chasing after.
Wisdom teaches us to filter and to focus on that which satisfies and to leave the chasing of fast, shiny things to others.
Accepting Both –
This morning I was trying to explain to the dog that; “sniffing” was not the point of him being outside. Realizing, again, our Siberian Husky doesn’t speak English I felt something buzz my head. It sounded like a huge BumbleBee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumblebee), flinching I tried to spot the culprit and instead spotted a Hummingbird (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummingbird). It was fluttering from one plant to another looking for nectar. I was mesmerized by its quick, sporadic, movement and “invisible wings.” I know that a Hummingbird’s wings are not transparent they just flap them incredibly fast and they are amazing creatures to watch. I forgot about the dog and watched the bird until it landed on a branch and began watching me. I was still as possible but Trooper had finished, came running back, and frightened it flew away.
A few hours later I mowed, weeded, the yard and after I finished I sat down outside drinking water and trying to cool off. I enjoyed the shade and a nice stiff breeze. I watched as the wind blew limbs, petals, leaves and grass. I thought to myself; “This is the second time today I’ve watched the effects of something I can’t see; the wings of the Hummingbird and the wind.”
I reflected on the invisible forces which move in our lives, propelling us on our path. There are seasons when these unseen powers blow chaos, difficulties, and tragedies and like the leaves and grass we are helpless to stop it. Other times, like the Hummingbird, with great effort we can choose to move to the rhythm of goodness and light.
True wisdom is not knowing how to avoid the hard times but accepting both with grace and humility.
If humanity made a 2016 resolution to quit being rude and allow niceness and kindness to rule they must’ve changed their mind.
My first stop this morning was taking my push mower to get it serviced. The person behind the counter acted like I was asking him to fix it personally and came up with several excuses as why he couldn’t fulfill the extended warranty. Finally, he relented and I was worn out with the hassle. My next stop was to buy a kerosene heater and a cashier refused to answer a question I had about the product. I figured out the answer myself. My last stop was to buy kerosene and the line inside to prepay was long. When another cashier opened up a woman cut in front of me without any hesitation. “Oy!” I was thankful when I pulled into the driveway to be greeted by the smile of my beautiful bride.
Being kind, nice, peaceful, in a world seemingly intent on being anything but, can be difficult. In these trying times we must remind ourselves we do not base our emotions, words and actions on what others do but on who we desire to be.