The Stuff of Life

Spring is arriving in fits and starts.  We had more winter in March and more summer in April than I remember in a while.  Rain.  Lots of it, but none giving us danger as others are experiencing.  It replenishes the water table, so I'm not complaining.

There is much in the news these last two days. Everyday we read of regrettable acts and tragic consequences.  Sadly, it is the stuff of life.  A result of our DNA that is no less caustic now than in any other point in history.  We merely have more deadly tools in which to carry out misguided actions borne of irrational thought and unfettered anger.  Grist for the ever turning millstone of the news.

As I was driving to work, my thoughts turned to "Christmas Letters".  Long, and narrow margined to fit all that is possible to experience in a year on a single page, they communicate all that is good in their lives:  trips, grandchildren, promotions, new cars, new homes...the list is endless.

I've never written a Christmas letter--but understand that I do somewhat the same in this space--though my intent is not to espouse all that is good in my life, nor to is it to air my dirty laundry.  I do have occasional soapbox moments.  One must, afterall, keep the glutes in shape.

The only joyful news in tragic events is the heroic responses from ordinary people.  It is a reminder that the flex of that DNA muscle is quick and strong. It reacts reflexively to such events.  Would that we have a lower threshold to invoke such action.  It is after all the small acts everyday that add up to something big--kindness and exercise share that efficacy of results.

I often ask job applicants what they would want remembered of them when they die.  Some look at me as if I'm crazy to advance the premise that they will die.  That is a given.  But our crafting of our lives in the time between birth and death is uniquely ours to do.  Yes, I'm feeling reflective--not morose.  I have a spectrum of books that have fallen into my circle of intentional reading that are stirring latent feelings and thoughts.  Shipler's, The Working Poor:  Invisible in America.  Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save; K. Sri Dhammananda's Why Worry?; Swami Vivekananda's Bhakti Yoga, and from that my ordering all volumes of his work.  I suppose what I'm really grappling with is a larger, broader moral/ethical standard that transcends currently accepted standards. 

 If you want an 'overview' of Singer's The Life You Can Save, you can listen to him here.

So, I'm working on my epitaph--and processing things a bit differently than was is culturally accepted which means no one in my life would really understand this.  But ultimately, the only way to express this process is that I would like to raise an awareness that writing a Christmas letter filled with and centered on what has been accomplished, earned, enjoyed etc, but rather how did you sacrifice and who did you help--and with a real reflection on how more could be done.  And the test of having truly arrived is to not send the letter---as selfless acts cease to become selfless if we wish to garner praise for them.

We no more "deserve" the bounty of life than others "deserve" the parsimony of life.  I believe that is a fact and not an opinion, and accordingly I'm trying to do a little life recalibration to reflect that belief.


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