Beware the glowing box

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Beware the glowing box that mesmerizes you and seizes your attention. You wake with a clear mind and focused purpose, and it scatters your thoughts to the wind.

Set your mind on the day’s tasks before you activate the electronics, and don’t let the bells, beeps and whistles drag you off-course once you hit the “on” switch.

. . . But then, of course, it’s too late. You already hit the “on” switch, and you’re reading this. Quick! The “on” switch is also the “off” switch. Go on: All this will be here waiting when you return.

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If you can keep going, keep going

if you can keep going

Last night was one of those football games people will remember for years. Losing 20-0 at one point, the Green Bay Packers rallied around injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers to beat the Chicago Bears 24-23. It was one of those defining moments that adds to The Legend of Aaron Rodgers, with a host of lead-by-examples – as Churchill is said to have said, “Never, never, never give up.” If you can keep going, keep going.

It seemed Rodgers’ return, even limping, inspired the rest of the team. “If he can come back and play, I can block better so he’s not hit again. I can catch that ball. I can keep the Bears from making that first down.” The team that played the second half was more energized and more focused on winning every moment than the team that played the first half.

If you can keep going, keep going. Rodgers did say the doctors told him he would not make the injury worse by playing on it, so there is that cautionary caveat – but if you can keep going, keep going. Play the game as hard as you can until the final whistle, and you just may overcome every hurdle. If by chance you do fall short, at least you know you gave it all you had. In this case, all they had was just enough.

Resolve to stop wasting energy

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It’s become my theme of the week, I guess …

“When a nation expects the worst from its people and institutions and its experts focus exclusively on faults, hope dies …

“Fault-finding expends so much negative energy that nothing is left over for positive action. It takes courage and strength to solve the genuine problems that afflict every society. Sure, there will always be things that need fixing. But the question is, Do you want to spend your time and energy tearing things down or building them up?”

— from the “Optimism” chapter in Hope from My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life by Rich DeVos, 2000.

Earlier in the same chapter is this gem that echoes my posts of the last few days, as well: “If you expect good things to happen, they usually do.”

Inevitably making comments like this leads to responses over who started it and how everyone else is doing it. I hear Mom’s words echoing through the ages: “Maybe he started it, but you can finish it,” and of course, “If everyone else jumped over a cliff, would you jump, too?”

Calm and the certainty of coming sorrow

calm and coming sorrow

In a quiet place, in a quiet moment, the scene opens on a guy sitting in a chair reading and, in between lines, reflecting on his life to date. Something is amiss in his soul, and yet his soul is calm as can be.

He frets at the thought that his noble old dog is showing signs of age, but he accepts he has no power to do anything except love her day by day.

That seems to be what feels amiss – the peace in his heart in the face of coming sorrow.

On the other hand, there’s no point in railing against an unfair but inevitable reality – not when there are still toys to gnaw and fields to wander.

Morning in the garden of good and evil

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Where do they all come from, these bug-eyed monsters, these giant ants in the New Mexico desert who fly to Los Angeles to live in the storm sewers? What brought to existence the man who pieced together body parts and lighted a spark of life into the remains? Why tell the story of doomed lovers on a ship destined to sink? What made the story of the man whisked to Mars leap into Edgar Rice Burroughs’ mind and out his fingers?

How do we see things that never were and cannot be? What allows us to see a better world – or a worse world? We conjure spirits and realities out of thin air. It would be best if we use this power wisely, and for good, not evil. Continue reading →

24 quotes about fear and freedom

24 quotes about fear

That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent. — Chinese proverb

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. — H. P. Lovecraft

The brave man is not he who feels no fear, For that were stupid and irrational; But he, whose noble soul its fears subdues, And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from. — Joanna Baillie Continue reading →

Almost won’t do

almost won't do

Resolved and resolute, she stood at the dawn of the new day, but felt herself begin to hesitate.

“No,” she insisted. “This day is going to be different. This day I’ll do what I said. I’ll do what I planned. I’ll do everything I can to make life better for everyone I meet.”

And she strode forward.

By day’s end, she had done almost everything she said. She had done almost everything she planned. She had done almost everything she could to make this life better for everyone she met.

But it didn’t feel like enough. Because, well, it wasn’t.

There was that one thing left unsaid. There were those two things left undone. There were those three people for whom she didn’t do quite everything she could to make this life better. All things she could have done but didn’t.

As the sun set, she felt disappointed in herself, even though on balance she had do a great deal for so many people that day – but not for those others.

The unsaid, the undone, and the unserved don’t know that much other stuff that was accomplished; they only know that they were not.

This is not to overburden the reader; it is to burden him or her only enough.

No, you can’t do everything – but you should do everything you can.