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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Silent Night

All's quiet on the western front. 12 o'clock and all's well. Quiet as a mouse. Marley was dead. Oh, no, wait. Dead as a door nail. There, that's better. It's not even Christmas eve yet things are pretty slow. We are actually closed from 12:00a.m. until 8a.m. Christmas eve to Christmas morning. I get the night off. With no pay evidently. This kind of bums me out. I always look forward to being around in the wee hours for the people who need things on Christmas eve. People do come in to gas up for the trip to Grandmother's house, or to get that forgotten loaf of bread or gallon of milk. Of course the big seller tonight is scratch off lottery tickets. The dream of big money is always a good last minute stocking stuffer.

Wow! A guy who has become a regular over the last few weeks just came in to buy his vanilla mini Dutch. As I'm ringing him out he asks, "Hey, you smoke don't you"? "Sure", I say. I'm ready for him to ask if he can bum one. "Why don't you grab a pack. I'll buy 'em for you". I'm flabbergasted. "Really"? "Sure, why not"? I ask again and he assures me it is something he wants to do. "Enjoy your night" he says as he's making his way out the door. Huh. I guess he felt bad that I was working the over night so close to Christmas.

How do you end up reacting to Christmas? Is it a joyous, festive time where the birth if the infant reigns supreme? Perhaps it's one of the two times a year you make it to church. You end up praying that the walls don't fall in on you triggering the Apocolypse. Maybe you spend the season filled with anxiety over money and gifts and appearances. So many of us spend the last few months of the year in a blue funk. Depressed over life and death and things we just ultimately can't control. Maybe you find yourself alone. Trying hard to figure out what to do with yourself on this ultimate family holiday.

I was listening to a show on NPR the other day. It was all about dating, the barren landscape that can present, and a book called something like How to Win Her Love. There was no new earth shattering information as far as I could tell. If you want to meet someone you've just spotted at the bookstore just walk up, be polite and mannerly, and start a conversation. It reminded me of a Christmas present I got when I was younger. It was this Magic Wand. A piece of extruded plastic with a fancy plastic star on top. The directions for a spell on how to get a date with THAT girl were straight forward enough. Wave the wand over your phone while reciting something or other. Pick up the phone and call her. How absolutely funny. There were no garauntees with the wand or the spell. Basically it was find a way to work up the nerve and call her you dingleberry!

Anyway, one of the points that one of the guests was trying to make was what a waste of time it is being depressed over relationships. Be happy with yourself and love will come. One of the things he said was that really, it's our duty to be happy. We owe it to all the people we've known and all of the people we ever will know to always work on being as happy as we can. Our duty to be happy. I don't know. I agree in many ways, but I think the duty lies in being happy for yourself first. I don't mean selfish and rude. I guess being able to love yourself; being comfortable in your own skin. I don't think you can be truly happy or love someone else if you're not ok with yourself first. That's been my life long struggle anyway.

A friend of mine was arguing the point that it's impossible to be happy when everyone is out for themselves. (If I remember it correctly) I think he was looking at it from the dark side though. Use the force. Become happy within yourself and the external garbage doesn't matter so much. The more centered and grounded you are the less other outward problems will bother you. If you are centered and grounded everything else seems inconsequential.

I think.

All right. Enough's enough I guess.

Until next time. Peace.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Little is Enough

As hard as this might be to believe, or maybe it's the admitting of it; I was wrong a couple of months back. I talked for a bit about how custom slows down in the fall and dwindles to a stand still in the winter. We are steadily busy now. Turns out name recognition is a powerful thing. Huh, who woulda guessed? (That was rhetorical) Almost as soon as I start some mindless chore a car rolls in. It's not that I really mind the interuptions. I used to have a rhythm though. I could count on certain quiet times when I got things done. Now I feel rushed to squeeze in stuff between customers. I am thankful that the people who work the shift ahead of me always try and do a few things for me. Stocking cups, cleaning some machine or other. They might seem like small things reading them here. Small matter the most some times.

Well, I did it. I gave my two weeks notice here at the store. It was a no brainer in many respects. I find I am starting to fail at keeping such a schedule on little sleep. I've had such trouble lately waking up from naps. I would miss some overtime at my regular job because I had to leave to take a nap, or on Saturdays and Sundays I am just too tired to stay for more than a couple of hours. I would literally be falling asleep while trying to work. I'd hate to run a drill through my hand or rivet myself to some part I was working on while feeling so sleepy. I used to be ok with it all. It's getting harder and harder though. Maybe if I ever need to I could find something more towards second shift. Wouldn't lose so much sleep then.

Don't get me wrong, as glad as I'll be to feel like I'm getting back to a normal schedule I will miss some of it. Mostly the interaction. The human connection. Good and bad. The regulars who are actually happy to see me there. Small thing I know. Sometimes it's those small things that keep us going.

Well, it's that time of year again. Children dream of catching Santa in the act. Or Sinter Klass, Father Christmas, Pere Noel, Babbo Natale, Swiety Mikolaj, Ded Moroz. Many names in many places. It's all about giving though. No matter how much or how little one gets, it's still about trying to give.

It doesn't matter how much or how little we give either. I have recently read about Marc Gold. Did you happen to see the article entitled The Shoestring Philanthropist in last weekend's Parade magazine? He travels the world giving people a helping hand. His donations have never exceeded $500 yet he has touched countless lives. He bought antibiotics for a woman that saved her life. A sewing machine for another woman who started a business with it. Instead of wanting to grow bigger Gold encourages others start their own sharing. Many times he gives people who are interested in this kind of giving their first $100 donation.

This is spectacular to me. He is not trying to save the world. He isn't paralyzed worried about how much he can give away. He just goes out and does it. We can all do something. Mittens on a mitten tree perhaps? One toy for Toys for Tots? Your time volunteering tutoring students in reading or math? People often feel nervous donating to large charities for fear if where their money goes. Or the old story of giving the person begging on the street. How do you know what that person will your money on? Well you don't have to give on the spur of the moment. If you really want to give take the time to give to something you know in your heart is worthwhile. In these times there are plenty of local charities that really need your help.

Sometimes the small things mean the most. Sometimes a little is enough.

Don't forget, I'm pullin' for ya.

Until next time, Peace

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Changes

1a.m. Friday morning. It is cold. Cold with a capital C. Oh heck, make that a capital OLD too. I don't just mean it's December and cold. I like it on the cooler side. I wear shorts for a good part of November. Now? Now my breath freezes on my mustache as I empty the garbages. No grumbling tonight about pesky customers interrupting my chores. Tonight I welcome the chance to step inside and warm up a bit.

A guy was just in, cell phone in hand, buying cigarettes. He was evidently answering a text when he came in. As he's ordering his brand his phone alerts him that the next phase of life is awaiting his attention when he is ready. He's annoyed though. Annoyed that his pregnant wife, or girlfriend or somesuch, contacts him so much. Annoyed that so many people feel free to constantly intrude upon his time. Annoyed that while he illegally talks or texts while he drives he must be ready at a moments notice to hurl the offending phone down so he doesn't get in trouble. Annoyed I tell you! Annoyed, annoyed, annoyed.

I guess he didn't read the manual. It's hidden deep in the small print, but I'm pretty sure the manual explains that it's ok to put the phone down. I think there are even instructions on how to make the phone silent. Or even, gasp, turn it off. I mean if it's that annoying and you are rude and miserable to everyone else around you, do something about it.

Every one has something they'd like to change about themselves. Physically, spiritually, psychologically; I don't know, there are so many things people are dissatisfied with. Maybe the shape of your ears has always bothered you. Are you at peace with the Universe? Do you lack confidence? I have heard or read more than a few times lately that there is and always will be only one you. Simple yet so true. I don't think enough people think of life in this way. No one is born as special as you are. No one can possibly have the same effect on the world as you. We are all worthy of change. We are all worthy of bettering ourselves. You have to start with believing this. Don't let anyone or anything keep you from truly understanding this and making it an integral part of yourself. So many things in this life can keep a person feeling unworthy of good things for themselves. Don't fall into this trap. Remember every day, every hour if you have to that you are good and worthy of love, peace of mind, happiness; what ever it is you feel you are missing in your life.

Twenty one days. That's what people say. Three weeks to make or break a habit. As a friend of mine has said recently, why wait until the New Year to make a resolution. Why not make one now? Be different. You'll be well on your way come New Year's Eve.

Well, this post is late enough. See you in a bit. Peace.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Within You Without You

Well, tonight I am hacking and coughing. Oh yeah, and achy and sneezy. I am somewhere far off in a corner of my head. You know, ears plugged and ringing when you bend over. Dizzy in waves. Tomorrow is gonna be a long day. The trumpet's clarion call of me blowing my nose sounds oft and loud. Ok, more like a fog horn. I tend to blow my nose too hard. There's one guy at my regular job who teases me every time he happens to hear me blow. He'll look up surprised. He glances at his watch, shrugs his shoulders and makes to leave like it's break time. We laugh at this every time. I think we laugh only because he carries it out every time. Like a tradition. Something we will always share underneath everything else. It's a small way in which we are connected. For some reason I just find the idea of him doing that funny. I sit here alone giggling out loud to myself. Eh, maybe I'm feverish.

It's almost 1am Saturday morning now. It was definitely hell at work Friday. All I craved was to curl up and sleep. Perchance to dream of not feeling like crap.

Dualism. Dualism is a twofold division in several spiritual, religious, and philosophical doctrines. Dualism is also a philosophy of mind where the mind and body are considered irreducibly distinct. The soul can exist without a body. And for our zombie fans out there the body surely can exist without a soul. That brushes the topic so lightly. People from Zarathushtra to Aristotle to Plato to Descarte have wrestled with the concept.

It's simply staggering the forms dualism takes. It's all over the place. In religion, politics, physics, feminist theory. There's more, but I gotta get going here.

The title of the George Harrison song Within You Without You has always fascinated me. Life goes on within you on two levels. Both the workings of the mind and the body. Life goes on without you; what's outside of you and well, you know, with out you. Pottersville and all that.

For those who ever took the time to ponder who their favorite Beatle was; I'd have to say mine was George. He wasn't political and hard like John. He wasn't cutesie and fluff like Paul. Ringo was, well, Ringo. George was the quiet almost forgotten one it seems to me. He was the one always searching I think. He had a yearning for people to realize their own greater good for the betterment of the world. He certainly searched long and hard for his own peace of mind.

So while a lot of people I know mourn the loss of John Lennon and listen to his Marxist manifesto Imagine; ponder these lyrics of George's from Within You Without You, "When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind, Is waiting there- And the time will come when you see we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you."

It's the seeing beyond yourself that is so hard most of the time. To shake off whatever is holding you down at any given moment and truly know that the person sitting at the next work cubicle or across town at the lunch counter; the guy waiting for a train in New York, the Mom comforting her baby in Cairo; we are all connected. We are all one. We have basically the same hopes and fears. We feel the same emotions. It's within you and without you. We are tied together as surely as anything can be on this blue globe.

I'm pullin' for ya. Peace