5 Reasons Why Tolkien Makes for Troublesome Bedtime Reading

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“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

I said my next post would be about bacon. And it was. But it’s not finished yet, so it’s sitting around in “private” status, still being tweaked and fussed about. Fear not, it will appear, eventually.

Some of you will agree that Tolkien is almost as good as bacon, though, won’t you?  I gave you a nice inspirational quote from none other than Gandalf, didn’t I? Well, if not, humor me and read on.

The reason I’m writing about Tolkien (and not bacon) is that I happened upon a really good post about blogging. If you blog, you’ve probably read several of these types of posts: tips for being a better blogger, ways to “monetize” your blog (i.e., put ads in it), etc.  Most of these are earnest and undoubtedly correct.  But until now, none of them particularly inspired me.

Whenever I happen to mention that I have a blog, (which happens incredibly infrequently because I’m super-crappy at promoting my blog) people sometimes give me similar kinds of tips. This is especially true if they are  themselves bloggers. One of the most common “tips” has to do with the title or headline of your blog posts.  You’re supposed to use catchy/trendy phrases or name people/things/events that will come up readily in search engines. You’re supposed to keep them short. You’re supposed to make lists or use provocative-sounding phrases. All of these things will grab readers’ attention. Apparently internet-scanners have the attention span of a fruit fly, and we. must. capture. this!

Until now, I pretty much threw that advice out the window.  Other than the recurring “How to be Happy:” theme or the “Why…” titles, I generally title my posts willy-nilly.  I’m not trying to make a living with this – it’s honestly just for fun at this point.  I didn’t want to look like I was Selling Out To The Man.   But hats off to People I Want to Punch in the Throat  for making me laugh frequently in her blog.  I’m willing to try something new, so I did come up with a Top-Five-type list. Whether this particular topic lends itself to a top-five-type list remains to be seen. You be the judge.

We also need a teeny tiny bit of backstory here. I don’t want to just launch into a list; it seems ill-mannered.  The Curious One really likes being read to at night, and I really like reading to him. We tackled The Hobbit some time ago, and he wanted to move on to the rest of my impressive 1980’s boxed set (see fuzzy picture below):

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When I was a kid, I got through the first two books and fizzled out somewhere in the first third of The Return of the King.  There’s a dog-eared page as a permanent remnant of my failure as a reader of Tolkien.  But that all changed when we started the bedtime reading schtick.  Now, I will be certain to finish the whole set (unless The Curious One fizzles as well).

So, this is a really great thing. Completely win/win. It’s a series of moments filled with things that are important to me: being with my kid, having alone time and being really “there” in that time, reading, etc.  However, this particular selection of bedtime reading material is not without its challenges.

Caveat:  Please, please, Tolkien-lovers and afficionados, don’t flame! I love Tolkien too! That’s why I tackled the boxed set! This is a happiness blog, for cryin’ out  loud. We have no haters here. I think Tolkien is a genius, and I want my kid to know his work, and I could only hope to write 1/1,000,000th as well, ever.  Having said that, one must choose bedtime reading carefully.

Now, without further ado:

FIVE REASONS WHY TOLKIEN MAKES FOR TROUBLESOME BEDTIME READING:

1) Unless you are British, you sound sort of stupid reading it.  Or at least I doI keep lapsing into my horrific Brit accent, because saying things like “ere long” and “we shall make merry” and “O! Lo beyond the hills” just doesn’t work with my flat Midwestern accent. (“What accent?!” I hear my fellow Michiganders declaim.) However, my listener does not appreciate my Gong-Show-quality abilities, and protests. So, I’m stuck listening to myself sounding pretty foolish. But hey, it’s for the children!

2) J.R.R. is constantly describing directions, weather –particularly mists–, and foliage. Most of these phrases are descriptive and lovely. You can really see the scene as you read (e.g., “The mist was flowing past him in shreds and tatters .  .  .  faint stars were appearing overhead amid the strands of hurrying cloud and fog. The wind began to hiss over the grass.” (p. 193 of my copy of Fellowship).  That’s not even one of the best ones; it’s just an example I could find quickly.  This is amazing stuff.  But some of it leaves me bewildered, and it’s late. Did I mention it’s bedtime? Sometimes I get through a particularly lengthy passage and The Curious One says fuzzily, “Mwhah-huh?  Uh, what were you saying? I fell asleep.”  No, I’m NOT reading all THAT again. But don’t worry, we’ll wax poetic about the leaves or the directions (or the  mist, or the sunlight, or the drops of dew) again soon enough.

3) Odd names make my child giggle uncontrollably, thereby shaking bed and interrupting my “flow”. I’ll admit it: sometimes I get into the Zone while reading to The Curious One. I start reading really well, like those people who do the books on tape. I have different inflections for different people’s dialogue,. I’m pacing dramatically. And then…I have to read “Oin, Gloin, Ori, Dori, and Nori” or ” Fatty Lumpkin” or “O! Ho, Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!” and he loses it.  He’s giggling and bouncing around and wiping his eyes. I’m trying to focus on the tiny font and faded pages, and my really excellent elocution, and completely losing my mojo in the process. Sigh. Thanks, J. R. R. (Secretly, though, I love watching my kid crack up, and I know it’s a special moment that shall someday not happen, etc., etc.  So maybe this isn’t so troublesome, after all.)

4) Some truly creepy characters are inexplicably glossed over. Warning: potential spoiler alert, if you’ve not read Fellowship.  Here’s an example: Barrow-wights? Frodo & co. stumble around in the Barrows (though they were expressly told NOT to, might I add) and then somehow wake up in white robes, covered in gold, half-zombified. What the–? And some haunted, eerie personage called a “barrow-wight” has apparently put them there. Okay, this is getting good. It’s not just directions and hilltops and flora and the River Withywindle. This is ACTION! But pretty much all we get to hear about (at this juncture, anyhow) is some kind of screeching and a clawlike hand scrabbling about.  Really?! I have about 30-45  unanswered questions here. But, for now, at least, they’re rescued (by none other than our good pal Tom Bombadil) and they’re frolicking naked (yep) and eating (of course) in a meadow.  Hmmph.  Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes less is more. I’m not looking for Saw, here. But just give me a little more on this scary guy!

5) Too many songs.  Yeah, yeah. Don’t start flaming, here.  I know you love the dwarf-songs of yore as much as the rest of ’em.  I’m just saying, remember I have no British accent, and no music is provided. So if I start reading the songs, I’m pretty much just chanting along.  Songs are meant to be sung, not read. Sometimes the songs repeat stanzas/verses/whatever, as songs are wont to do. The Curious One holds no truck with this. “Skip the songs!” quoth he. So, unless it’s really short, or seems like it’s important to the story (like when Bilbo and/or Frodo mysteriously break into song/poetry and then are perplexed about why they’ve done so), I do as he asks.  Which takes away a good chunk of the beginning of The Hobbit, anyhow.

And there you have it. If you can get past these challenges, you too can delve into Middle Earth and all the adventures therein.  The Curious One and I are still game, and we’ll see if we ever hear from those pesky barrow-wights again…

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Why I’m Not Posting About Tragedies

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably noticed there’s a lot of what could politely be termed “bad stuff” going on right now in the world. And of course, like everyone else, I’m thinking about it.  So it would seem a bit trite or inappropriate to post the draft I’ve been working on (but you’ll get it eventually) just now.

Still, I’m not planning to post about all the horrible things going on in the world, present post excluded, because there are plenty of people writing and talking and tweeting and posting about these things already. Like you need me chiming in.  Honestly, who cares what I think about it? I pretty much think what you think, no doubt.

Horrific and appalling things are happening all the time. I know this. Despite the fact that I try to keep my news ingestion to a minimum, I am well aware of this sad fact. And it’s not as if I don’t care about all these things. On the contrary. Would I have created a blog all about happiness and all sorts of ways to find it, if I felt the world was just swell as is? No. No, I would not.

It’s not about ignorance or denial. It’s simply that this blog has a particular purpose.  And that purpose and hope is to shine a little light, maybe a tiny one, but a light nonetheless. Maybe something meaningful, maybe something just to make you smile.  There are other places you can find out about all the news, good and bad. And other ways to show your support for people who are hurting, or to band together to try to fix things that need fixing. Those are all worthy goals, they’re just not the goal here.

I realize that some days, it’s hard to find the happiness, even a stinkin’ smidge of it. But as Mr. Rogers said, even in the midst of tragedy there are heroes. There is decency, there is kindness, there is courage and there is goodness.  All over the place, in big and small doses. Sometimes we need a little reminder of this, so we can keep on doing what we’re put on this earth to do. No one is perfect, but you’d be surprised at the number of heroes out there, if you look around.

If we allow our knowledge of all the horrible things going on at any given time to undermine us, paralyze us, depress us, and/or make us feel hopeless, the bad guys win.  We can’t have that. Not for long, anyway. George Takei said it better than I ever could, in his blog post about the tragedy at Boston Marathon; maybe you will like it too. You can find it here.

Me, I’m keeping on. I’m cooking dinner for the offspring and doing laundry and kissing them on the head at random intervals (which makes them laugh and/or look at me like I’m a mouth-breeding frog).  I’m finishing this post and helping the Curious One train our geriatric cat (more on that later). In short, I’m doing the mom thing. Because that’s what I’m here to do. It’s my most important job, ever.

And when it’s time, the next post will be ready. And I’m pretty sure it will involve bacon.

How to be Happy: Laugh ‘Til You Snort

“Crappy Parenting Law #7:  The very first time a child dons new clothes, they will be stained forever.” – Amber Dusick, Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures

Another quickie, between loads of laundry.

We’ve been on vacation, which maybe will be worth blogging about in the future. Fun, bewilderment, sore feet, more fun, gettin’ snippy at times (as required on any vacation of more than 2 days), and a little more fun.  But for now, exhaustion. And pre-treating stains, and all that jazz.

One of the many many fun bits of our vacation was the opportunity to read this book, which is from one of my favorite bloggers, Amber Dusick. Her Parenting, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures blog makes me laugh on even the dreariest of days. Imagine a whole book of snippets, 214 pages of laughs and not a few snorts.

I tried really hard not to let my fellow plane-goers know I was laughing until I cried. There were a few times I had to cover a picture with my hand, because just looking at it made me start afresh.   Laughing until you cry is one of life’s greatest feelings, which is why I now recommend Amber and her blog and book, for your reading pleasure.

Even if you’re not a parent, you probably know one. And you were definitely a kid, right? Might be something in there to make you snort, or at least chuckle.

 

parenting book cover

How to be Happy: Don’t Eat The Poison!

poison apple“Taking things personally makes you prey for predators. They can hook your attention with one little opinon, and feed you whatever poison they want. Refuse to eat poison!” don Miguel Ruiz

I’ve been trying to finish this post for weeks. And I’ll warn you, it’s lengthy. That’s what happens when I wait 6 weeks or so to post…

But maybe it’s good that it’s taken so long, because several events have occurred that reminded me of this topic, which gave me more examples and more insight. Things happened to me, or to those close to me, that led us to feel various unpleasant ways, from furious to grumbly to hurt to vaguely discontented and annoyed.  But each time, once we stop to think about the problem, the root of it is (or at least a large part) that we’re taking things personally.

Remember the Four Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz)? Just in case, here they are again:

1) Be impeccable with your word.

2) Don’t take anything personally.

3) Don’t make assumptions.

4) Always do your best.

Now, being me, I like to try to reword things to the positive when I can, so sometimes rather than using the don’ts, I say : It’s not personal, or Make no assumptions, or something like that. Semantics, reallly.

The issue is this: when we care about other people, we will get hurt. That’s just a fact of life. Sometimes people are going to let us down. They’re not going to do what we want. They’re going to say mean or hurtful or thoughtless things. They’re going to do things that hurt us emotionally. Sometimes that will even be on purpose, because they are hurting and they want someone else to pay for it.

Pain is part of the deal we make when we choose to care, and that’s okay. Sounds weird, maybe. But (here’s a little more ACT for you) suppose I gave you a choice:

Option A: you have all your feelings and care deeply about other people. This means you get all the good feelings, and it also means that sometimes, you’ll be in a lot of pain because someone you love or care about is hurting, or is doing things you don’t want them to do. Sometimes you’ll even be upset about things happening to people you don’t even know.

Option B: I take away all your feelings. No pain, no anger, no frustration, no jealousy or loneliness. But here’s the kicker – nothing good either. No love, no affection or fondness, no passion or joy.  No enthusiasm or curiousity. Nothing really matters, because you don’t feel anything.

Of course this is a theoretical experiment – you can’t really remove ALL your feelings, even if you try to by numbing yourself with distractions or drinks or drugs or food or work.   So we may as well accept that feeling anything means feeling everything.  Because there’s no middle ground. There’s no “I’ll just feel the things I want to feel – the good stuff.” We know that.

Which do you choose? Most people, despite knowing that caring will sometimes lead to pain, choose option A. So we know that overall, we’re going to have some rough patches, because other people mean something to us.

But sometimes, we take on excess pain, which is then properly classified as suffering, when we care too much about what others think of us or what they do to us.  Don Miguel says that what others say and do is much more about them than it is about us.  Not that we have no effect on others, but taking your co-worker’s curt hello or a spouse’s distraction personally leads us into a spiral of self-doubt, hurt feelings, rumination, emotional discomfort, you name it! And if you could magically crawl inside their heads, you might be surprised to find that the movie in their head stars them, not you.

This can be comforting. When working with clients who have anxiety, therapists can remind them of this truism:  most people are much more concerned with themselves than they are with you – many times, no one will even notice if you are a little anxious.  (Or if they do, they will probably feel sympathetic toward you rather than mocking.)

It’s not a nasty thing to say about someone. It makes sense to put your own interests high on the priority list if you want to be mentally and physically able to be there for all the people you love, and to do all the things you are put on this Earth to do. It’s not selfish to care about yourself or what you want or need, unless you’re some kind of sociopath with no true feelings for others, in which case I’ll venture a guess you’re not reading this blog anyhow.

Anyhow, don Miguel calls it  “eating emotional poison” when we let other’s words or actions hurt us unnecessarily.  When other people use their words or actions to be insensitive or thoughtless or unkind, we can either choose to take that in and let it affect us, or…not. Easier said than done! It does get more automatic, the more you practice it. Realizing that we are each on our own path or journey, with our own struggles, challenges, and triumphs, means that no one is experiencing the world exactly as you are.  Each one of us is creating and watching the movie of our lives, starring us.

We can connect with each other very strongly, and know one another incredibly well, but if we really think about it, we never do understand someone else’s viewpoint 100%, even when we think we do. That’s making assumptions – another no-no.

But is that so bad? Do we need to fuse with one another to enjoy life together? Nah. Khalil Gibran said “Let there be space in your togetherness”.  We can travel alongside one another, enjoying the view in our unique ways, helping each other when we hit a rough patch – precisely BECAUSE we are different.  Someone else can see something you do not, and that can be just what you need, when your own viewpoint is limited and can’t see a way out.

So don’t eat the poison! We don’t have to let other people’s issues, which lead them to act in ways we don’t particularly care for, cloud and ruin our days.  We can care about the person without letting his or her behavior tell us how we need to feel about ourselves. This is not an “I don’t care what she says” kind of attitude – it’s a kinder, more loving sort of mild detachment.  I don’t ever want to stop feeling things for other people. What a joyless, crappy life that would be! But my feelings for others don’t have to mean that I allow myself to be jerked about by their whims and reactions like a marionette.

This doesn’t mean you should not take accountability for yourself and your actions. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Apologize and do your best not to repeat it. But a lot of times, when someone else has a negative reaction, we feel we’ve done something wrong when we haven’t. We perseverate and second-guess and fret and fuss.  We get angry or sad or whatever, and tell other people about this horrible thing someone did. (Anyone who will listen, typically!) We rally others to our side, gaining support and feeling justified in our indignation. But for what? That’s just more negativity. That’s giving  the power and control of our emotional barometer over to someone else. If we think about it like that, it’s pretty unappealing.

You can step back and look at the situation differently. Maybe it’s time to drop that struggle.To care without letting it consume you if the other person isn’t behaving how you think he or she should.

What poison have you been eating?

How to be Happy: Connect Your Passion, Stop Blaming, and Be the Change

Another quickie.  Last week Shane Claiborne came to our church as a guest pastor, and although I haven’t fully looked into his story yet, it seems as though he’s all about some pretty good stuff. Making the world a better place, and that sort of thing.

Shane said, “We have to connect our passion to the world’s pain.”  I don’t know if he borrowed that from someone else or if it’s his own creation, but I loved it. This is great!  We don’t all have to start homeless shelters, or rescue animals, or cure cancer, or be therapists, or figure out how to save the planet, or whatever. Just some of us have to.  Our obligation is to decide what we love to do and figure out where it fits into making the world a better place. Don’t feel bad if you’re not a fan of whatever charitable cause or good deed someone else is doing.  Pick your own way to contribute. And make it fun!

I liked Shane’s quote so much I immediately scrabbled around in my purse so I could write it down. And then at lunch later, I glanced at the headline on a newspaper someone was reading in the diner.  It said “Don’t blame others: Be the change you want.”  Yes!  I scrabbled that down too. The family is used to seeing me do this.

This is not a new quote, but it reminded me that so often we blame circumstances or other people for what’s “wrong” in our lives or in the world.  Yeah, other people do things we don’t like. Things go wrong.  (“Screws fall out. The world’s an imperfect place.” – for you Breakfast Club lovers).

Thirdly, I came across a topic today in a blog I follow that talked about how we need to be the kind of people we want to attract into our lives.  Rather than expounding on others’ shortcomings, though many they may be, we’d do best to spend our time improving ourselves. And one really great way to improve ourselves is to do kindnesses to others, and improve the world.

You’ve heard the story about the little boy and the starfish, right? Well, if not, here’s the condensed version:

Little boy is walking along beach tossing starfish back into the ocean. Apparently there are tons of them all strewn about. It’s taking him quite a while, and he’s really not making a dent.

Man comes up to him and says, “Why are you tossing them back in? There are so many! You can’t possibly make a difference.”

Little boy looks at him, tosses another starfish back in, and says, “I just made a difference to that one.”

Yep. He did.  Who can you make a difference for today? Do it!

A Quickie: The Barfing Cow

“Wasted is the day in which you have not laughed” – Nicholas deChamfort

Confession: I paraphrased here. The actual quote is “The most wasted day is that in which you have not laughed.”  Am I the only one who finds that a bit bulky?   So I used the bastardized version. Sorry, Nicholas.

Anyhow, as the title says, this is a Quickie. But I hope this helps you not waste your day by giving you a laugh, or at least a grin, or a lopsided smirk, maybe.

Most mornings, I give Tween Spirit cereal with this ceramic cow (see below) full of milk. I had one like it as a kid and thought it was cool. It’s convenient – keeps right amount of milk cold, etc. It’s kitschy. Hey, anything I can do to make mornings more palatable.

How did it escape me all these years that what we basically have here is a cow barfing milk all over your cereal?  Eeeewww.

The Curious One says, “They put the hole in the wrong place, Mom.”

As if dumping milk out of a ceramic teat is somehow preferable.  Well, I don’t know. Maybe it is.  But then the cow would have to be upside down, or there would have to be a plug….I’m overthinking it, clearly.

Well, there you have it. Hope you liked a little slice o’ life from our place. 🙂

cow pitcher

How to be Happy: Be AMAZING!

This didn’t happen to me; it happened to Better Half, but I liked the story so much I shamelessly stole it. Without even asking! So let’s hope he’s okay with that. Plus I probably am getting part of it wrong, but we’ll call that “artistic license”.

He was at Subway recently and doing the usual check-out thing and the cashier asks him how he’s doing.

He says, “I’m good. How are you?” (standard socially-acceptable reply)

Subway Guy replies, “I’m AMAZING!”

“Wow! I don’t know if I’m THAT good, but I’m fine.”

“WHY NOT? Did you get out of bed this morning?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, isn’t THAT amazing?”

(Can’t recall what Better Half said in reply, but probably agreed, smiled, took sandwich.)

He told me the story later. And you know what I said, don’t you?

THAT SUBWAY GUY IS AWESOME!

He’s happy he got up. No, scratch that. He finds the fact that he got up amazing. I don’t know about you, but that’s not usually the kind of thing I put in the category “amazing”…but maybe I should. I’ve posted something similar earlier, about gratitude and that just being alive is a gift. This guy definitely has that message. He doesn’t have to have his own jet, or win the lottery, or have a supermodel lady friend. (Maybe he has all those things, but still chooses to work at Subway. It could happen. But probably not.) He got up today and he’s thrilled about it.

The quote-pic I chose for today suggests that we can keep working hard to get more of what we want, or we can want what we have, which is “less” than continuing to get more. Nothing wrong with working toward goals, but the thing is, you have to be happy with where you are right now, as you continue to work toward those shiny, happy goals.

I think this Subway guy is on to that. He wants to get up in the morning, and everything else is gravy. Just getting up = fulfillment. I don’t know a darn thing about his particular life story or what he goes through on a daily basis, I wasn’t even there. But I do know that he spread his little bit of joy out into the world, for anyone who wanted some Subway that day. And now I’m sharing it with you.

Go on and have an AMAZING day. 🙂
two ways to get enough

How to be Happy: Just Do It!

time will pass anyway It’s right about this time of year that, if we made any resolutions at all (or as a wise friend of mine relabeled hers, simply “goals”), we’re maybe starting to flag a little. Or a lot. Let’s be honest, here. The gyms are starting to be a bit less packed, the fresh produce is rotting in the crisper…you get the idea. It’s the season of giving up! Or at least “letting-it-slip” time.

Side note – I wonder if anyone has done research to see if fast food companies have a slump in the first few weeks of the new year..and then a lovely little rebound? (mmm, fries.)

Anyhow, as you know, I made two resolutions.  They were simple but broad, and I’ve since modified them somewhat (which is FINE by the way; go ahead and tweak yours if it works for you).

NEW AND IMPROVED 2013 GOALS: (ta da!)

1) Be kinder than necessary

2) Follow through whenever possible – especially using the one-minute rule: If it takes less than a minute, do it NOW.  Thank you, Gretchen Rubin and Rita Emmett for both, individually, introducing me to that lil’ bit o’ wisdom. Sometimes I mutter it to myself as I dash around the house, doing whatever it is that should only take a minute or less. That’s weird, I know, but we’ve already established that I’m fine with that.

Today’s post is about that special time when we begin lose that motivation, when we start to question whether or not this ONE TIME only will it make any difference if we just loaf on the couch for another hour, or put off making the phone call to check in on someone, or push that one task to our list for another day.  A lot of our goals/resolutions/what-have-you are going to take time to really pay off, and it’s hard to wait! It’s way more fun to surf the Internet, or watch TV, or chat about nothing in particular. Instant gratification, baby.

And actually, the answer is, it doesn’t make much difference at all. You can put it off.

This time.  And maybe, the next time.

But here’s the rub: If we consistently give ourselves one more hour on the couch, or put off the call, etc., what then? We have goals that go nowhere. We have self-fulfilling prophecies that we work incredibly hard to fulfill without realizing it. Boo!

“It’s going to take too long” is a great excuse for not doing something. “It’ll be hard” is another. I’ve heard ’em all. I’ve used ’em all.  100% correct. Most things worth doing don’t come easily.  Which is not to say that the pursuit of our goals has to be a joyless, grim struggle. No way! Hard work can be FUN.

Yes, I just said that. Hard work can be fun. And even if it’s not “fun”, it can be fulfilling, if you remember why you’re doing it in the first place. And that’s sort of fun, too. Acceptance and Commitment therapy is big on this – values. That’s the “commitment” part in the model. We have to decide what’s worth doing in our life (values) and then decide the steps we need to take to move in that direction (goals) and then…..just do it.

Even if it takes time. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s scary. The time will pass anyway, and you can either look back and congratulate yourself on a job well done (or at least well in progress, or at least well started), or you can make excuses.  You don’t have to be perfect. Fall seven times, stand up eight – but keep standing up!

The time will pass anyway, of that we can be certain. Let’s make it time well spent!

Happy New Year!

ny resolutions“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao-Tzu

Oh, it’s been too long…but I’m back! Another shortie, I’m afraid, but I have plenty o’ topics to discuss. All in good time.

A lot of people I know are NOT making New Year’s resolutions.  They say, “I’m not going to keep them anyway, so why bother?”

I think the reason most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions is (a) they bite off more than they can chew, which is rather easily fixable – (hint: take smaller bites) –  or (b) they don’t actually REALLY want to change that particular thingy anyhow.  They THINK they want to change, but they don’t. To really want to change, you have to want to do things differently. Scary concept. Maybe there’s also a (c) group who thinks they’re quite hot stuff as it is. But I’m guessing most of us are (a) or (b) or both…

So, this year, I made only two, and they’re pretty general/broad.

1) be kind

2) follow through as much as possible

These can apply to many areas of life, and I figured two was about all I could keep in my addled Holiday Brain.

Are you resolving this year? If so, to do what?

A Night with Deepak: Whose “Reality” is Real?

“You might think you’re a little odd. And you know what? You are!” – Reverend Jim Lee

Last week, I got a chance to go with one of my very favorite people to hear Dr. Deepak Chopra speak at a local church. The picture below is him in the gift shop there; and no, I did not take it. It’s from his website. The pictures I took from my seat were pathetic and fuzzy. You don’t want them.

I’m not in a Deepak cult or anything like that. I just really enjoy his outlook, and especially respect the way he has teamed up with super smart scientist guys to write books like Super Brain Power, which is all about blending science and spirituality.  It’s not fluff! There’s science in there.  Oh yeah, right up my alley. Sadly, I have not slurped the book down just yet, due to the fact that I have library books for book club and of course those are time-sensitive. But I’ll be reading Super Brain Power, no fear.

The evening starts off with the church’s choir rocking out, and some inspirational words from the Rev. (quoted above) to set us off.  And then, Deepak!  He spoke for an hour and then tirelessly scrawled “Love, Deepak” on countless copies of his book. I’m fearful he will develop carpal tunnel, but appreciated his doing that. I got too star-struck to say more than “Thank you” and shake his hand. While the pen was still in it. Smooth, I know.

Back to the talk. I know it has to be difficult to talk about the same thing night after night, but as we discussed after, when you love what you do and you believe in it, you can talk about it all day. It seems like he feels that way.   Anyhow, I won’t recount the entire talk, because that would be sort of plagiaristic and tiresome, but my favorite story he told had to do with the notion that what we perceive is not “reality” per se, but rather “a species-specific perceptual experience”.

Sounds odd, I know.  His story illustrated it well:  he said something to the effect of: Pretend I have a chameleon, a honeybee, a bat, and owl, and a giraffe next to me. How each will see me is very different. The owl will see me in infrared, the honeybee will see me with its insect eyes, and the chameleon’s eyes move independently and you can’t even imagine how that chameleon sees me.  Trust me, it got a big laugh when he said it. Plus his accent is so cool, you have to hear him say “chameleon”.  I don’t remember what he said about the giraffe, or what giraffe vision is like, but let’s say it’s sort of like ours, for the story’s sake.

His point was: Whose perception is real?  They all are.

I won’t go into the rest about unity consciousness and time before the Big Bang, and stuff like that, because frankly at one point I wrote in the Memo section of my iPhone (where I was jotting down little bits I liked) HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO SLEEP TONIGHT DEEPAK?!  (Side note: have you heard of “interrobangs”? That would have been useful there…)

I believe I’ve written before about how the way we interpret things, our perceptions, are often biased. But they’re our reality nonetheless. And so are the perceptions of others.  That’s hard to remember! We tend to think we are seeing things the “right” way, and will marshal support for our viewpoints and opinions.

How does this relate back to happiness? It’s easier to be happy when we relax and let go of struggles, and one thing we could possibly stop struggling with is “who is right?”  We’ve talked about whether or not we’d rather be right or happy. One more way to loosen up and focus on the point of our relationships, which ideally should be the mutual benefit of the parties involved.

Once I’ve read Super Brain Power, I may have a gem or two to share. Until then, enjoy!

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