Not the Same –
This past weekend Beth was sick and so I was left to my own devices for meals. This isn’t good. Friday night, I decided to warm up a few slices of pizza. I knew to coat the pan with non-stick spray and saw a bright yellow can on the counter. I picked it up and began spraying but immediately noticed it was foamy and didn’t smell like butter. By the time I realized I had the wrong can the fumes had got to me and I began coughing. I put down the can and stepped away to catch my breath. When I came back I looked at the bright yellow can and discovered it was oven cleaner. However, when I retrieved the non-stick spray from the cabinet it was in a bright yellow can as well. Beth would’ve noticed but I didn’t read the label, only looked at the color of the can and sprayed away. Though they looked similar they were not the same!
Wisdom teaches us that many things offer peace, awareness, mindfulness, and clarity. We grab whatever we see first and use it only to find our lives unchanged and perhaps negatively impacted. Wisdom can only be achieved through conscious, purposeful living. We must know what we are bringing into our lives and not just use what’s closest and easiest. A mindful life is possible but only if we are wise in our choices.
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This morning I set out early cutting and weed eating the grass. There was rain in the forecast and temperatures getting into the nineties. Used the riding mower without any trouble, push mowed around hard to reach areas and then retrieved the weed eater and noticed it needed extra string. On a shelf, in my workshop, is where I keep it and finding it I reached down to get it when something moved and jumped toward me. I had my sunglasses on and couldn’t see well but when it jumped I jumped! It landed on the ground and I realized it was a frog. I don’t know how he got up that high but he survived the fall and hopped away. “Whew!” as I exhaled and finished up the yard work without any further excitement.
As I carried the weed eater I thought about life and how the unexpected keeps us on our toes. Whether it’s something silly like a nimble reptile or more serious events which change our lives forever we never know what’s around life’s next corner. Being aware, adaptable, accepting are ways we can adjust to whatever surprise that jumps on life’s path.
This morning I went grocery shopping. As one who doesn’t care for shopping, it’s odd to find me roaming the aisles. However, Beth hasn’t been feeling well so it was my husbandly duty. On the list was eggs so I found them and as I was putting them in the cart I remembered to open the carton and check to make sure none were broken. There wasn’t any so I gently put it into the grocery cart and went to find the next item on my list.
When Beth and I were first married we went grocery shopping together one time and were buying eggs. I picked up a carton and placed it in the buggy without checking to see if any were cracked. A kind elderly man standing near us said; “You might want to check those eggs to make sure none are cracked or broken.” We did and there were several that were in bad shape. We thanked the man, retrieved another set of eggs, and from that day forward haven’t forgotten to check the eggs or think about the man who taught us this valuable lesson.
The encounter with the older gentleman might many years ago changed the way we did things. His advice helped us look beneath the surface and double-check what we were taking home. After finishing shopping today I wondered; “Have I done anything this week to change anyone’s life longterm, for the better?”
One of the images I like to use with the men I work with is an illustration about a sponge soaked in water.
If I were to go to a store, find the kitchen aisle, and buy a pack of sponges, I could take them home to use as I see fit. If I opened the packaging, took out one sponge and if my kitchen sink was clean I could fill it up with water, take the sponge which had never been used, ball it up in my hand, plunge it in the water, let it go and it would soak up clean water. If I then retrieved another sponge from the packaging, took it outside, found a mud puddle, balled up the sponge in my hand, plunged it in the murky water, let it go, it would soak up dirty water. The sponge isn’t the difference, it’s the water.
It’s similar to our lives. We are mostly products of where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. If our intentions are good and our hearts are pure most likely we will produce good results and our minds and spirits will be at peace. If, however, our hearts and intentions are selfish we will have no peace and wreak havoc on the lives of others.