Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shaped by Thought

File:Mr Pipo thoughts.svgThoughts do count. I'm not referring to gift-giving and, "It's the thought that counts," nor do I intend this as a reference to or criticism of those with obsessive-compulsive thoughts. 

Using "my" and "I" here will, I hope, show that I'm drawing upon my own well-documented experiences relating to how my thoughts can and do change my entire outlook, which in turn determines how my day unfolds. This is personal, this is what works for me. Try it. You may find you like it!

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. 
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
~Albert Einstein

A woman who always presented a happy face to the world, no matter what happened, a man who sported a glum look most of the time, created a daughter who grew to adulthood wondering at her mother's bright and jolly and not understanding the reasons for such dour expressions on the father's face. How should she present herself to the world? Which way to be? 

In all family photos taken of me from around ages seven to 15 there's a look of gloom on my face; hardly ever a trace of a smile. Why?

My parents were good providers of food and clothing, of a comfortable home and plenty of outdoor adventures. If asked, I'm sure I would have said I knew I my mother and father loved me. 

Mom's mantra was "Smile, you'll feel better!" My usual, non-verbal response was simply more glowering. I eventually perfected the art of acting happy and content around others. Inside I was confused, angry, afraid, wary, and unsure of myself. I was faking it for everyone else. Years later I realized that subterfuge had lasting and detrimental effects on me and on my loved ones.  

Move forward three decades. I'm 45 years old, life has taken some odd and

Monday, December 22, 2014

Surviving Stupidity - Part 2

Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity ~Brian RathboneRegent

Well, no, of course not, we didn't think we were being stupid, careless or thoughtless those many years ago when my partner and I, on our 36' 1968 cabin cruiser, crossed the Columbia River Bar (the most dangerous bar crossing in the world, aka "The Graveyard of the Pacific) and motored five miles or more out into the ocean, fishing for salmon.

We were aware and competent--secure in the ability of the purring, twin Chevy 350 engines to deliver us to the perfect fishing spots and, about four or five hours later, to motor us safely back across the bar, to our Ilwaco, Washington port.

Eight years in a row, six weeks every season, five to six days a week, out we went, back we came, our limit of fish on ice in the cooler, the remembered taste of fresh, BBQd salmon piquing our urge to hurry back to our moorage.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Forms of Zest

Bertrand Arthur William Russell [Third Earl Russell] (1872-1970) British philosopher, mathematician, social critic, writer, had this to say when ruminating on the benefits of finding interest in the smallest things, of unleashing our imagination, of being present in the world: 

"The forms of zest are innumerable. Sherlock Holmes, it may be remembered, picked up a hat which he happened to find lying in the street. After looking at it for a moment, he remarked that its owner had come down in the world as the result of drink and that his wife was no longer so fond of him as she used to be. 

Life could never be boring to a man to whom casual objects offered such a wealth of interest. Think of the different things that may be noticed in the course of a country walk. One man may be interested in the birds, another in the vegetation, another in the geology, another in the agriculture, and so on. 

Any one of these things is interesting if it interests you, and, other things

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Word-stalker & Words Talker

A new word is like a fresh seed sewn on the ground of the discussion.
~Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-British philosopher

In the Kingdom of Iceby Hampton Sides, is my most recently read book. In reading this book, I discovered seven words I'd never heard of before (most having to do with the Arctic tundra). 

Every book I've ever read has offered at least one new-to-me word. The magic of a Kindle (and maybe all electronic books) is the ability to find the definition by accessing the embedded dictionary. Even so, if the word is fascinating enough, I write it down, along with its definition. As soon as I get to my computer, I add it to my now-40 pages of words.

I most likely will never use the majority of these words. Yet, because they intrigued and fascinated me, I needed to become "friends" with them, to acquaint myself with them, to welcome them into that small part of my brain that finds joy in discovering something I had not previously known.

I like Wittgenstein's comment about using a new word in a discussion. Of course, it must be a well-chosen word because, as Andre Maurois states in An Art of Living, "To reason with poorly chosen words is like using a pair of scales with inaccurate weights." 

Julius Charles Hare, in Guesses at Truth: by Two Brothers wrote, "When you doubt between two words, choose the plainest, the commonest, the most idiomatic ... ." I haven't read this tome but know it was written in the mid-1800s, a time when even "the plainest, the commonest, the most idiomatic" words and phrases could be picturesque, flowing and full of zest. Much of the modern-day plain and common language is drab, coarse and sloppy.  

Obviously I could go on and on about words and how they fascinate me. However, to paraphrase Sophocles, the fewest words often have the ability to show much wisdom.  



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mistress of the House of Books

Seshat, ancient Egyptian Goddess of Writing and Wisdom, 
aka Mistress of the House of Books.

My "house of books" has shrunk over the years. It is now down to four six-foot long shelves, but those shelves are stuffed full of books of all sizes, colors, shapes and subject matter. I've had at least three-quarters of this collection of books for many years. They are "old friends" I turn to when there's nothing else drawing my reading attention. 

Of course, as much as I love these books--my hard copy books--I also have a Kindle and I admit that has taken my attention away from paper books. 

There is one type of reading, however, which will never be just right unless I'm holding the actual book in my hand. Poetry. Poems "speak" best when read from an actual book. 

When the book is open in my lap, I can read the poet's words, glance away from the page, contemplate, and then return my gaze to those lovely pairings. I can't imagine reading Stanley Kunitz' Next-to-Last Things, Intellectual Things or Passport to the War: A Selection of Poems on a Kindle. Nor would Mary Oliver's deep, natural-world, sensual poems "feel" just right if read on a digital device. 

One of my favorite books of poetry is dated 1939. My father brought the book into our home about 1950. The cover is faded blue and tattered, the poems inside are quaint and simple. It was discovered in a trash bin on one of Dad's forays into an old and dusty, fusty building. It's not the poetry that appeals to me as much as the memory of Dad rescuing it from the trash. 

Dad was an elevator repairman and the only one in the company who had the knowledge to work on the ancient elevators still chugging away in some of Portland's oldest office and apartment buildings. He often found some "treasure" to haul home. 

There were a few items he chose to drag home which Mom never allowed into the house (such as old chairs and dressers). "Found" books, maps and old magazines, however, would always find their way into the house and my brother and I devoured them. National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, Life and Collier's all came in at some time or other.

I wonder why it is that I enjoy looking at my shelves of books? Maybe because they truly are "old friends," as so perfectly said by Kevin DeYoung in his post about why he hopes real books never die: 

"Old books are like old friends. They love to be revisited. They stick around to give advice. They remind you of days gone by. Books, like friends, hang around. And they prefer not to be invisible."


Surviving Stupidity - Part 1

Wisdom is the reward for surviving our own stupidity

Certainly there have been times when my own stupidity, simple lack of awareness or disregard for propriety have put me in, if not dire, definitely uncomfortable, situations. I like to think I've learned from those missteps. Whether they allowed me to gain "wisdom" is debatable. 

What I have attained over these many, many decades of living is peacefulness and mindfulness; an ability to empathize; a need to understand others and their points of view. Maybe this is wisdom.