April 27, 2010
Brass Ring, ME Newsletter, Vol.3, Issue 17
I really loved the carousel at Playland in Rye, NY. I wanted to ride every single horse and every buggy being pulled by lions, elephants, or giraffes or whatever pretty bejeweled animal, however impractical it may have seemed.
I don’t recall how old I was when I first discovered the brass ring. Actually, I really didn’t discover it on my own. My Dad pointed out to me that I could get another ride for free if I succeeded in grabbing the sporadically offered incentive. Up until then, I’d just been enjoying the ride. Over and over and over.
From that moment on, I kept my eyes peeled and semi-extended my arm each time I passed that crooked hook, just in case.
Then it happened: the brass ring suddenly rolled to the tip, dangling.
I guess when you’re that young your world is pretty self-centered.
I saw the rider before me suddenly lean as far to his left as possible, extend a grasping hand, and miss. Automatically, I did the same. I missed, too.
I frantically turned in the pony saddle, looking around. I looked behind me, in front of me, and across the center of the whirling gallopers. I remember being surprised that I wasn’t alone on the ride. It was sort of a shock, really: to find that others had the same drive for the challenge as I did. Who told them about the brass ring anyway? I didn’t think that was fair at all, and I certainly wasn’t going to give up even if others had longer reach spans that I did. I wanted that ring!
After a few more brash tries, bravely placing all my weight on the right stirrup, barely holding on to the methodically shifting leather reins by my finger tips, I caught that brass ring. I held it out as I rode around to the finish, grinning and waving my prize for all to see. My dad was grinning as widely at the triumph as I was. When the music slowed and the rounder finally stopped, we walked back around to the Carousel entrance. I proudly showed the ring to the gate keeper, hopping up and down, impatient for my next turn.
I was momentarily stunned when the man in the striped vest plucked the shiny ring from my fingers. I hadn’t realized that was part of the deal. I didn’t want to give it up. My dad explained it to me: I could either keep the ring and go home, or give the ring back and take another ride. I wanted to do both! However, I reasoned with youthful myself concluding that taking another ride offered me the chance to grab another ring. I relinquished the otherwise useless and weighty memento, and rode again.
I’ve caught site of a few brass rings along my regular route lately.
Somewhere along the way, though, I’ve become afraid.
Suppose my plan isn’t detailed enough? Suppose my calculations aren’t accurate enough?
Suppose I reach too far and fall gracelessly from my comfortable seat?
Suppose I can easily reach the prize, but the hook doesn’t release the ring when I grab it?
Suppose I can’t let go fast enough to not get hurt?
Suppose I miss the rest of the ride because I took a risk that didn’t pay out?
Suppose the prize isn’t really what I’m after?
I mean, the brass ring isn’t really any good unless you’re planning on taking another ride, right?
In this issue: Brass, Brass Rings, Brass Ring Awards 24, Taking Responsibilty for your own success.
Now posted: New Orleans, October 2009, Breathing Easier & Harder.
April 20, 2010
Cloverleafs, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 16
At first I thought I was happily heading for another new phase of my life. But the more I think about it, the more I am sure that I don't like that idea. I'd rather view this latest upheaval as a continuation of my life's adventure.
Why? Because looking back on it all it has taken me to get here, the highway has remained.
Exits, entrances, construction, pot holes, and even clear-sailing, radio-blaring days are all part of our highways.
No matter how many ramps we navigate to temporary scenic routes, we always end up exactly where we need to be.
Yeah, those detours make the trip longer, and sometimes harder than necessary, but the beauty found during pauses are what fuels renewal.
It's hard to determine where you are with the landscape always flying by.
With construction season come inevitable temporary delays. Sometimes sitting still is the only way we can focus on where we're really at. Sometimes those are the moments where we find ourselves more than ready to throw open windows for fresher air and clearer views. Opening up also means intentionally or unintentionally being more open to GOD's rerouting routine.
So, I've found myself stuck on one of those ideas that has been growing on me for quite a while. I don't care for being forced to make a decision, but even I eventually recognize a strong leaning towards the strong leading I've been feeling.
Not every exit is a cloverleaf, but neither are they as rare as they used to be. I've been riding my own personal cloverleaf ramp around in stiffly interconnected circles under the guise of constant movement; but in reality, not getting anywhere, at all. I'm not opposed to having the same life continuing circumstances, just ready to move a little further down the path and try coming at it from another direction.
My time with Jeff has been a most amazing scenic route, and a life changing experience.
No amount of past, present or future roads will lead me away from the now experienced heart I developed while driving through difficult interchanges.
It's made me who I am, and has been my most defining detour ever.
There's always been a soundtrack to my life: many favorite songs that are always appropriate like "Life is a Highway," and lyrics reminding me, "I thought I walked a twisted trail 'til I saw where it lead me to." Or lead me back to, in my case.
I'm ready to merge back onto the highway, push the pedal down and go where ever my life's adventure takes me next.
NOW: without reservations, without self-imposed speed limits, without worrying about spiritual toll booths, enjoying delays to the best of my ability, scanning the horizon for the next slow turn off, and looking forward to whatever it is I am supposed to see, where ever it is I am supposed to be.
In this issue: Highway Cloverleafs, Four Leaf Clover, GreenRide Stats, and Part 3 of Healthy Food You Thought Weren't.
Now posted: New Orleans, October 2009, As the Road Looms
April 12, 2010
Self Competition, ME Newletter, Vol. 3. Issue 15
I’m pretty big into self competition.
Pushing myself one step further gives me a nice “so there!” buzz.
Because of this I have been understandably afraid of facebook online games.
I knew I’d get sucked up into seeing how far I could go and how fast I could get there.
Still, after a particularly bad case of temporary post-holiday lonely, I followed a repeated and repeated suggestion from a dear friend.
Got a little thrill the first time I hit a level where I passed one of my neighbors in Country Life game.
Got a bigger thrill when I reached a point where I was allowed to gift my neighbors what they were asking for: things they needed to improve their farms, levels, and virtual cash flow.
At first I wanted a bigger farm. But then my anti-establishment territorialism waned.
Nope, I decided. I want to achieve the highest level possible with the smallest farm possible.
Yeah, I know that’s not right in line with the game. Yeah, I know that’s not normal.
But it is one heck of a self challenge. And it’s in keeping with recent my “less is more” life swing strategy.
And now that I can afford automation, well, I can shred old bills and check registers, or wax poetic, while feeding virtual cows, and making virtual cheese. Virtual multitasking is the way to go.
I do think I spend more time on the farm than necessary.
I do have to make a self-appointment to complete my virtual chores. I try to schedule those after the real chores.
Then I have to self-impose an absolute time deadline to log-off; usually followed by a real meal as an incentive to cut the power cord.
I have a list of other games I think I’d like to try.
Evony Age II sounds interesting, especially since the game claims “No more bullies. No need to farm.”
Once I master self-control while self-challenging, I’m thinking Mafia Wars sounds like a good way to invest in brainy exercises and keep my planning (plotting) skills sharp in between missions.
Who are you competing with?
And do you want to be my Country Life neighbor?
In this issue: Scholarship, Sponsorship, Healthy Foods You Thought weren't Part 3, and Who Are You Competing With?
Now Posted: New Orleans, October 2009, Scholarship
April 05, 2010
Taxation, ME Newsletter, Vol. 3, Issue 14
Holidays are always a tough call for me. Spend time with family and friends, or keep to my hermitage.
It’s a little reminiscent of the party dilemma I frequently suffered in college.
Most of the time I wasn’t really interested in crowding into a stinky, sticky-floored party to ogle a bunch of drunken fellas, while trying to determine if they might be good intellectual matches for me. However, most Thursday, Friday and Saturdays nights I would find myself standing in some fraternity or sorority or off-campus house basement doing just that. I was more afraid that if I didn’t go I would miss something, than I had common sense to tell me that so far I really hadn’t missed anything.
Now that I’ve matured into my widowhood, I am frequently faced with holiday taxation entrenchment. I love the root ideas of holidays: spending time together, eating comfort foods, establishing ties and traditions. But... they're also equally worthy of my dread.
I’ll try to explain: It’s not the going because I love a journey and the welcoming arival. It’s not the being there because I love my fam & friends. It’s the leaving that hits hard. Should be expected by now, but still ends up feeling like a sucker punch.
After the laughter, after the love, after the bonding, after memories are made, after stepping out of my very single, comfortable, self-efficient and self-sufficient routine – I repeatedly find my solo self heading back in the direction from which I came. The closer I get to my stagnant zone, the less appealing my safely padded turtle shell appears. The thing is - life really isn’t all that bad if I stay within the confines of my simple world. However, that can get pretty lonely, at times, too.
So the issue resurfaces at least once a month: Remain aloof and comfortable in my microcosmic bubble, or venture out knowing that sooner or later I’ll be traveling home alone to my big empty house, miles away.
I’ve tried both.
I’ve enjoyed both to an extent; suffered both to an extent.
Genesis 2:18 In the beginning, and from the beginning, a reflective covenant is established through GOD's creation of Adam - “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Yet, no matter which choice I make, the ending is just the same.
The question becomes whether to remain comfortably alone always, or to feel accutely alone sometimes.
I guess the best I can do for myself and for others is to evaluate each choice based on perceived merit and impending taxation - basing my participation on whether or not I can afford to or even want to pay the heavy tax for love and laughter now with painfully predictable taxation tears later.
In this issue: Intaxiction, TurboTax, Government Taxes, Cyber Tax Day, Imposition, Part 2 - Healthy Foods You Thought Weren't.
Now Posted: New Orleans, October 2009, First Reflection