Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gratitude for Being Stretched

     I just came home from a two week visit to mountains in New Mexico and Colorado. About mid trip, I noticed that I was exhausted each evening, and that it was the good kind.  I was being stretched in the direction of how much beauty can I take in today?  How many good, rich, nourishing human connections can I take?  How much good stuff can I handle?
    There was a time in my life when I wondered how much more pain can I take, how much more can I suffer through?  That was a very different kind of stretching, and I learned from it.  I am grateful for the lessons learned. 
     I am thankful today that the stretching is in the direction of beauty, joy, and good human connection.  I really like being tired at the end of the day from that kind of stretching, and I am aware that I couldn't have gotten here by myself.  
     When I stood on the mountain and looked out at the vastness, I felt humbled, in the good way.  It took good connections from many very special people to help me to see that it is okay to enjoy my Life, that good communion is possible, that I don't have to do it all by myself.  I am thankful that I listened to the nudges, that quiet voice inside, that I was willing to follow directions, and was able to notice how big Life is.  
Standing in Chaco Canyon, I noticed that the structures the ancient ones created were aligned with vastness.  In that world, the human aligns the forms of his life with that which lies beyond the horizon.  In our world, we make the natural world align with our own ideas of our self.  I noticed that I find more peace in myself when I align with that which is beyond my horizon.
     When I was a teenager, it wasn't cool to be happy.  Happy people were suspect.  It was thought they must be stupid  not to see how bad things are.  I am very grateful that I am now so uncool I'm Happy!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


What is a pet? That's a pretty open question that could have a lot of answers. The obvious answer is the four-legged creature that shares a home with you. A dog or a cat. And that's a good answer. But it doesn't stop there.

My daughter has a pet. Other people would call it a rodent. I call it a mouse. And it actually is known as a gerbil. Well, it looks a lot like a mouse to me. Same face, same long tail (although it does have more hair than most mice I've seen). But wait, there is a difference: Most common mice come in one color... gray. This one is two-toned. Brown and white. No matter what it looks like, my daughter likes it, sometimes plays with it, and generally takes care of it.

OK, so if you can call this thing a pet, what can you do with it? Imagine taking it out for a walk. A leash around its neck, running frantically down the road to keep up with its mistress, neighborhood dogs barking as it scrabbles past. And if one of those dogs got out, her pet would valiantly stand between her and the attacking dog. Yeah, right.

So what do you do with a gerbil? You can put it into a large plastic ball and let it run around in the kitchen for exercise. That's a good idea, but you have to teach it how to move the ball. Soccer anyone?

What else? I had a dog once that liked to sleep on the bed. Sometimes she got in the way of my feet, but I never wanted to kick her off the bed. You can do that with a gerbil, too! As long as you don't roll over on it in the middle of the night. And what if it didn't want to sleep, but instead decided to wander around the house? You might look for it for a long time. I suppose if you didn't find it, you'd have to put out a mouse trap. Would it be attracted to cheese?

I guess by now you're getting the idea that I have difficulty getting used to the idea of having a mouse, er, gerbil, that is, for a pet. And believe it or not, I once had a guinea pig as a pet. I couldn't play with it either for the same reasons as one encounters trying to play with a gerbil.

But pets don't stop there. I have a friend that has parakeets. At least they do something. They tend to make noise. Most people would call it singing. And I guess you can do things with a parakeet. You can let it out of its cage to perch on your finger. Larger birds could perch on your shoulder and then try to eat your ear. The smaller ones just perch and, and, and, OK, I give up, what do they do when they perch. Other than the obvious, for which you need a tissue. Wait! I've got it! They fly! And you immediately have to check to make sure the windows and doors aren't open. And that the cat isn't in the house. Cats and birds get along well together. At least from the cat's point of view.

But at least each of these creatures are low cost to keep fed. To feed my dog costs about twenty dollars a month. A bird or a gerbil could probably get by on about one dollar a month. A cat is somewhere in the middle, particularly if you have birds that you let out of the cage now and then.

So if you don't want a dog, a cat, a gerbil, or a bird, what other choices do you have? How about a nice friendly, personable snake? I understand that you only need to feed them a mouse every one or two weeks. Or a gerbil if you get tired of having one. (No, I didn't mean that! Really!) But what do you do with a snake? Same problems as with a gerbil. Can't take them for a walk. They don't have a neck that's thick enough for a collar. If you took a snake for a walk down the road, you'd constantly be stopping to put the collar back on. Unless, of course, it was a python or an anaconda. Then you'd only have to worry whether or not your pet was hungry. Smaller ones would like to meet your neighbors' dogs. Larger ones might be interested in, well, you!

How about a nice, furry tarantula? I understand that they almost never bite their owners. And I suppose that you could pet them. But I'd always have the feeling that I was being watched. And the same problem with taking one for a walk down the road. And you might find that your neighbors want to step on it.

A lion or a tiger? I think they'd outgrow you pretty quickly. And if they ever got hungry... At least if you took it out for a walk, you won't have to worry about the neighborhood dogs. In fact, if you let it into the back yard for a run, you might not have any neighborhood dogs anymore.

So how many other choices are there? You could have an ant farm. Or a flea circus. Some people like to have a pot bellied pig. Or a cow. Or a horse. Or a chicken. Or a sheep. Hmmmm. All of a sudden, this is beginning to sound like a farm. Of course, the bigger they get, the more food they take, and the more mess they leave behind. And try to imagine taking some of these pets for a walk. In some cases, they would be taking you for a walk.

And there are probably restrictions in some places on the size and type of pet you can have. Not that that stops a lot of people.

I'm sure some of you have gotten somewhat upset over the way I have been characterizing your favorite pets. Don't worry, I'm not criticizing anyone for your kind of preferred pet. I'm a dog person. My daughter, for the moment, at least, is a gerbil person. I know someone who is a cat person. Another who is a parakeet person. And I respect your choices and defend your right to choose a different pet. And I'm sure anyone with an exotic pet would probably wonder about my choice of dog.

So far, at least, we still live in a country where we are allowed to make choices like that. Ask me again next year... that may have changed. I hope you enjoyed this little romp through pet-land. And I hope that I'm leaving you with...

Something to think about.

Note from the Editor

लास्ट (that is Hindi script. Pretty isn't it?)

Last Thursday, Don McCaig friend and colleague persistently hinted that this club needed an organizer. His request needled me sleepless.

Now, why would I volunteer for this, you may ask? Have you ever met someone that is OCD about organizing stuff? Like for example, when I go to the store and browse the shelves and see a mess, what do I do? Well, I'll tell you I cannot shop till that mess is fixed. I'll reorg the boxes, shop items, and whatever so I can "comfortably" make my decision. Ugh, like who wants a dented can of something? How do I know I got the best one from among the mess?

Well, I see organizations like this and I use web tools to help organize them and make them successful.

Also I cannot stand for someone to ask for something and not give it to them if I have it. Now, that doesn't work for money.

If you ask me for money, I might give you a buck. Which reminds me, years ago I wrote a column titled "Bucks for Beggars". I wonder how many bucks that job pays? Anyone know?

Well, anyways here I am creating a little blogspot for "The Write Job" clublet to organize themselves.

What I learned from visiting them last Thursday is that they are still very much in the development stage and have an initiator named Fletch and three possible organizers and me (a web publisher).

Organizing your meeting on the web serves several purposes:
  • Web exposure
  • Web blogging skills (you need it, may as well learn it)
  • Consolidates all current info in one place
  • Provides information to searchers wanting to hook up with you
  • Provides friends with similar interests
  • Advertises your Location, Meeting Times
  • Allows you to share your thoughts, writing skills, and comaraderie

I could go on, but I think you get the drift. Hope you enjoy "The Write Job" clublet. They looked like interesting, and friendly folk. So, I bet they will come up with a lot of juicy stories.