The Challenge in Forecasting the Weather and A Friend’s Healing

This morning’s forecast says rain all day. Yesterday was sunny with the high near 70 degrees Fahrenheit; a very pleasant surprise for a very challenging day.  Our friend survived his open heart surgery; only a double versus the quadruple bypass surgery the heart surgeon said could be possible.  What began at 8:30am was completed by 12:30 pm and the awakened patient’s nodding recognition at 8:30pm.  Many good signs in one 12-hour period.

But today is another day, and if the weather is a predictor, this day will not be as bright and shiny.  Today, the forecasted temperatures will be in the low 60s and wet, not bad for this early Spring period.  Accordingly, a rainy day is a predictable Spring occurrence just like the slow but sure rehabilitation required from major surgery.

We are told that our friend is likely to experience the following progression:

  • 7 days in the hospital before release;
  • Release to either home, or maybe a few days in a convalescent facility to transition with the aid of close medical assistance; and then
  • Two to three months of slow healing before full strength returns

If there are no complications, no unwanted infections, and he is diligent in his aftercare compliance, our friend will be able to transition from gentle walking to full movement by July 4th, Independence Day; to celebrate our country’s independence, his independence and renewed independence for the family and friends caring for him.

However, like weather forecasting, there are a few challenges to keep in mind.  Climate change has “broken” the jet stream leading to unpredictable temperature and precipitation patterns. Bad weather can stall over geographies not normally expecting it.  There can even be harsh weather, like more hurricanes and tornadoes, bringing high winds and flash flooding, and wreaking more havoc along the way.

In our friend’s case, he may feel ready to do more than recommended and his energy could lead to excessive effort in his desire to rehab faster than he should.  He may try to do too much work around his home, try to prove he is back to normal far before he’s ready.  There might be antibodies that attack his recovering wounds.  There might be outside work demands he normally stresses over, having even more of an impact this year.

As part of a large group of caregivers, each of us must be careful not to expect too much too soon from him.  We need to encourage a slow and safe recovery regardless of how much we would like a faster rebound for his and our own release. We must look at Independence Day as the “earliest” possible celebration date and be prepared for a Labor Day back-up plan if any forecasting surprises occur.

May we be calm, be patient, and be compassionate with our friend and ourselves.  Less stress and more understanding will help all of us find the joy in each present moment to come. 

Would I Ask My Grandfather How To Blog?

Grandpa was a quiet man.  He performed a variety of jobs: truckdriver, real estate agent, refrigeration technician and car wash manager along the way. I trusted and admired him and appreciated his life right up until his death in 1985.  Born in 1911, he lived for 74 years and saw a lot of technology change over that lifespan. 

Grandpa was not a Luddite; he appreciated technology improvement and the quality of life benefits it brought.  I remember his clear advice to purchase the best possible item because it would provide greater satisfaction and longer use, making its’ cost less over time.

Grandpa embraced the new, but not just because it was new.  He was discerning on what he acquired because he never had a lot of discretionary income.  That said, when he searched for something new, he did it thoughtfully, carefully and then decided with conviction and didn’t look back.

Grandpa died before the general availability of the internet which didn’t occur in the U.S. until the early 1990s. He was certainly not around to see the explosion of social media or the popularity of blogs.  So, would I ask my grandfather how to blog?

Hmmmm…..

There are more than a few people who base their life and important decisions on spiritual texts and practices well over 1,000 years old.  In fact, there are people who dedicate their lives to the study of antiquity; especially art and philosophy, to better understand our species progress and to project our future based on the behaviors and values that persist over time.

Going even further back in history, it’s thought that we homo-sapiens developed language almost immediately, (see When Did Ancient Humans Start to Speak? – The Atlantic) and the oldest evidence of the written word is over 5,000 years ago which was used by Sumerian scribes in 3200 B.C to document business transactions in ancient Iraq. (The World’s Oldest Writing – Archaeology Magazine).

Would I ask my grandfather how to blog?  Our very history as a species suggests we have learned and cognitively developed over millenniums based on our ability to communicate.  So, YES, I would ask my grandfather how to write and communicate more effectively.

And based on my previous post, The Thin Veil, I still have the opportunity to ask him.

I’m curious, would you ask your grandparents how to write and communicate more effectively? And, if so, why?

The Thin Veil

The physical world is real; especially when we stub our toe.  There is mass and when it interacts with other mass there is contact, sometimes described as “Ouch!”  Our everyday life reminds us this physical world is real.  And yet….there is the unseen that impacts us, energy that shapes our here and now.

The borderline between the seen and unseen is sometimes called the Thin Veil.  On a metaphysical level the veil is considered a barrier between the physical and spiritual realms. On a quantum physics level this “borderline” becomes a little more defined when we read about the multiple dimensions.

In our everyday existence we are familiar with the three dimensions of height, width and depth. The fourth dimension adds the factor of time and motion.  We can see this when a 3d object moves; it’s demonstrating the fourth dimension aka space/time. But what comes after the third dimension? There’s a Rod Sterling quote “There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition.” In a more down-to-earth explanation, some have used gravity as an example of a higher dimension (i.e., a fundamental natural force that is unseen yet impacts our three-dimensional universe.) See  The 5th Dimension | Science Trends

Scientists focus on what can be measured, even if it’s unseen to our human eye.  Somewhat similarly, theologians focus on “how things change.” Theologians also ask and attempt to answer big questions like: How the universe came into existence? and What happens to individuals before they are born and after they die? It is this intersection of physics and metaphysics that has always interested me.  For example, there are two Albert Einstein quotes that have inspired my wisdom search:

“For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” -Einstein, The Expanded Quotable Einstein. Calaprice, Alice, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). p. 75.

“I believe that I have cosmic religious feelings. I never could grasp how one could satisfy these feelings by praying to limited objects…. The whole of nature is life, and life, as I observe it, rejects a God resembling man. I like to experience the universe as one harmonious whole. Every cell has life. Matter, too, has life; it is energy solidified. Our bodies are like prisons, and I look forward to be free, but I don’t speculate on what will happen to me. I live here now, and my responsibility is in this world now…. I deal with natural laws. This is my work here on earth.” – Einstein, Einstein and the Poet. Hermanns, William (Branden Books, 2013) p.64.

I look forward to learning more about the Thin Veil and someday passing through it to visit with my ancestors and loved ones who have preceded me. What a wonderful reunion that will be. I’m curious, what have your experiences been with the Thin Veil?  How do you perceive the higher dimensions?

Midwinter Melancholy

Shakespeare reveled in midsummer

Enjoying his Athenian romp

While humbly we survive midwinter

With no circumstance or pomp

No funny or cunning storyline

  No hint of subterfuge

Just a lonely cold winter’s landscape

               Neither miniature or grandly huge

Missouri is a compromise

               Of pain and revelry

The past too painful to forget

               The future too bland to see

Such is life in February

               When we but hibernate

Perhaps in Spring our joy will return

               But now we simply wait;

Now we sit and wait.

TERPSICHORE

Is it Terpsicore or Terpsicurry?  “If that’s all there is my friends then let’s keep dancing” (song by Peggy Lee).

My first book of poetry, Tangoed Up in Blue, was about learning to dance at an Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio in Kentwood, Michigan.  My wife and I spent seven years learning, competing and generally enjoying dance in many forms.  We met many new people, visited dance studios and floors across many states and acquired a small wardrobe of dance costumes.  We considered it our “country club membership” and spent more than a few dollars each year enjoying the art.

Prior to lessons, I considered dance as something akin to doing jumping jacks or slow Frankenstein rotations that could only be performed in loud, dark environments after three drinks, at least.  Fortunately, with lessons, alcohol was not needed but didn’t hurt; especially, if you were being asked to dance by strangers in a crowded hall.  I remember one night at a dude ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming, being asked to do a Western Swing dance with someone half my age in an old barn used to introduce visitors to one another.  My wife and I were there with her family for a horse-riding family reunion and she encouraged me to accept the invitation.  Yes, dance is a fun way to make contact in a strange place with strangers.

I’ll never forget the first time I danced with a man.  It was my wife’s professional teacher and he wanted to see how I waltzed.  My wife was trying to explain how I couldn’t really lead that dance so her teacher wanted to experience my lead for himself.  Sure enough, I needed many more lessons 😊  Funny, how that works out.

They say, dance is good for physical fitness, mental clarity and emotional stability. “They” being dance instructors mostly.  But are there are more important reasons we dance?  Self-expression, body/mind alignment, releasing depression and endorphins?  Certainly physical touch alone can be healing so full body contact while swaying and gliding across a dance floor must be truly liberating.

If/when this COVID-19 pandemic subsides, I might consider taking lessons again. It’s been close to 15 years since my last lesson and there’d be a lot of rust to work off; but, as the Zimbabwe proverb goes: “if you can walk you can dance.” The opportunity to “shake a leg” would be a fun way to enjoy an evening or two; hopefully without a facemask and latex gloves, of course.

Would you like to dance?

(See Tangoed Up & Blue by Patrick J. Cole (goodreads.com))

The Third Eye

So tell me again about the third eye. Does “right view” come from higher consciousness or insight? Can anyone be a see-er, or seer, to understand more than what our optical nerves can detect? Does meditation, strengthen this mental skill, or does qigong enhance our visual abilities?

“Richard Rohr says the concept of the third eye is a metaphor for non-dualistic thinking, the way the mystics see.” Third eye – Wikipedia  Rohr says there are three levels of sight: sensory input, then reason or reflection, and ultimately, the mystical gaze which builds on the first two to arrive at insight.

Or is it more biological, such as the pineal gland that resides between the two hemispheres of the brain? Something that can sense light without needing the optical nerves in our physical eyes.  Like knowing where to go and how to navigate in deep darkness.

I don’t know much about auras, or chakras, or perceptions of invisible worlds, yet there have been times I’ve “seen” things that guide me in one direction over another.  Where does our “intuition” come from?  That ability to know something “in our gut” without needing to collect facts and reason them out. 

Or am I confusing the metaphysical with just plain common sense? My wife likes to tease me when I ponder something that’s so obvious for her.  She regularly quotes from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:  “You just keep thinkin’ Butch.  That’s what you’re good at.” I always forget to respond “I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals”. 🙂

P.S. Don’t look too closely or you will see the trifocals I’m wearing 🙂

What’s on my desk

I spend more and more time at my desk these days, doing everything from completing three different daily journals to working on this blog. Because of this, my workspace needs a little upkeep from time to time. For example, right now there are a dozen books within arm’s reach that would normally be on bookshelves four to five feet away. I’m accessing them all but for some reason having them close by seems necessary right now. Am I expecting wisdom by osmosis? Inspiration by proximity?

Before the week’s end I will tidy up to start the next week with a clean and organized desk again. How about you? What’s your desk or writing area look like?

Snow in Missouri

Our last winter in Michigan, the 2013/2014 season, resulted in 115 inches of snow accumulation, breaking the previous record that had stood for over one hundred and thirty-three years.  We had been thinking of moving South for some time and this extra snowfall provided added incentive.  We moved to Missouri in the Summer of 2014!

Our first winter in Missouri the total snowfall was a little over 4 inches and the most we’ve had in the five winters since was an annual accumulation of 6 inches.  Just enough to remember its beauty but not enough to last for very long. Total melting is rarely more than 72 hours.

With all the ice melting in the Arctic, scientists say the polar vortex is breaking.  Which I believe means the cold northern winds don’t flow like years passed.  Instead of a wide swath of freezing temperatures across Canada and the northern U.S. border states; now, like a split tongue, the northern U.S. border states are experiencing milder, less snowy, winters but the lower U.S. states are receiving snow and colder temperatures more than ever before. Michigan and Missouri winters are more similar now in both temperatures and snowfall.  One reason for moving South in 2014 no longer exists in the Winter of 2021.  Who knows, maybe we will move back to our home state someday?  We shall see.

Our Life Is Our Message

My father was a carpenter who became a Skilled Trades Supervisor for Detroit Edison, a major utility.  He retired early to golf, fish and construct wood picture frames for fun.  My first father-in-law was a Welding Foreman for a major office furniture manufacturer who turned down a promotion to Production Superintendent to ensure he had time for the fresh water fishing and the golf that he loved.  My second father-in-law was a Production and Inventory Control Manager who went on to become CEO of the same major office furniture manufacturer.  He retired and was recalled for a year before living another 25 years on the golf course and doing some occasional fishing.

So, what does this tell me; what can I learn from my “forefathers?” Is my work life blue to white collar and are my “golden years” to be spent enjoying fishing and golf?

My father told his four sons to retire earlier than he did at age 59 because retirement was the best time of life.  My father died at age 77 and had only one regret that I know of which was agreeing to elective heart surgery to replace a pacemaker.  He died one week after the surgery and told his sons at his hospital bedside what a mistake it was to agree to that final surgery.

My first father-in-law told me to get a couple of hobbies early in life to ensure I had a way to escape home life whenever I needed.  He advised specifically joining him in fishing and golf, which I did for many years.  He died at age 64 of medical complications from diabetes.

My second father-in-law advised world travel which was another hobby he had.  Otherwise, he didn’t say that much to me as he was very active in his own pursuits and demonstrated his values more than spoke of them.  He died at age 93 and unfortunately his last three years were using a walker and napping a lot.  He had beaten colon cancer, multiple melanomas (from so much fishing and golf?), and finally the debilitation brought on from a stroke.

I’m 66 now, mostly retired for two years, doing a bit of consulting for my former employer.  I gave up golf many years ago and rarely fish anymore.  I’m on medications for Type 2 diabetes and poor cholesterol counts.  I’ve had three surgeries for skin cancer and use a chemotherapy cream once a year to reduce the likelihood of future surgeries.  My full-time work life began as a spot welder and progressed to an HR Director before leaving to finish my career as a Human Capital Consultant for the last 20 years. So, a lot of similarities to my forefathers but some possible differences in my final life chapter.  I’m now focused on joining the Order of Interbeing as a Zen Christian practitioner and my goal this year is to publish a third book of poetry and a first book for children. Not sure how much longer I might live but want to live my “golden years” doing what I love.   How about you?

My Challenge With Equanimity

An Irish redhead by birth, I came by my “hothead” temper honestly.  The first child of two narcissists, it was hard to get noticed unless I screamed.  While I received some attention, I felt little comfort and found this strategy “not working for me.” I was instructed to count to ten, keep my feelings inside and hold my cards close to my chest. A poker face would serve me better, they said, than a red face to match my “carrot-top” head.

In my teens I discovered Norman Vincent Peale, and his positive thinking was a great mind game.  Always looking for the silver lining helped distract me from any inner pain. Yet some situations needed more than a rosy attitude or bright shiny outlook to tame. And somehow, “just forgive them”, wasn’t enough to keep me from going insane.

So, in my young adulthood I found the Tao and later the Buddha as well.  The focus on letting life flow and serenely smiling seemed like something worth trying; but still inside me the volcano would swell.  Until I exploded over something too trivial to really be bothered about. Redeeming my “stamp collection” was something too ugly to let out.

So what about this equanimity thing?  You know, caring less about good and bad; letting all just flow over me like rain on a duck’s back?  If I cared less about the good times could I train myself to care less about whatever irritation arose? Could I take refuge in impermanence, knowing nothing, including feelings, would last?

Could I calmly watch misery happening, or hear stupidity displayed with pride?  Accept injustice as simply a learning process that with enough patience and love would subside?  Could I look at the long game or long arc as Dr. King would say? Could I remain peaceful inside while I watched the other “inmates” play?

Existentialism brings some temporary comfort by accepting the purposelessness of life; but then I get jerked again by some stupid comment that cuts through my calm like a hot butter knife. And the Pure Land or heavenly afterlife may bring temporary peace when I look forward to the non-thinking of the dearly deceased.

But it’s here, right now, in this present moment when I experience this maddening day.  Can I remember my father telling me “believe half of what you see and none of what others say”? Can I just close my eyes and smile coyly; pleasantly dreaming serenely? Unfortunately, I still struggle with equanimity.

(Deep sigh…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….)