Archive for the ‘Serenity’ Category

The question was tossed out on a forum and here’s how I answered, and what I hope I’ll do. (The two are not necessarily the same).

Walk the path of love until I either die or get killed. Pretty much the same as I’m trying to do now, only on a greatly reduced time scale.


Helping people down

Posted: 2011/09/26 in Serenity

I was having coffee with a friend this morning, and she was describing how frustrated and stressed people are. She works in a setting where she meets all kinds of people each and every day. “They have such high expectations.”

This sparked a thought. Frustration, stress, and anger result when our desires are thwarted and our expectations aren’t met. I drew this little diagram in my notebook.

Graph diagram of how striving for unrealistic expectations not only leads to frustration, it also leads to worse circumstances than if we lowered our expectations and learned contentment.

Expectations, Frustration, Contentment, and Two Possible Futures


My parents grew up during the Great Depression, my mother in a big industrial city and my father in a medium-size town. “Let me teach you an old Depression trick!” was how some of Pa’s stories started, and he would show us something like how you could get a little extra life out of flashlight batteries by sitting them in a warm spot on the back of the stove near the pilot light. He taught us how to repair cars ourselves (cars were simpler then).

I still remember my mother sitting in her rocking chair, darning socks. She didn’t talk about the Depression nearly as much as my dad. I think it was harder for her family in the city. When I was a kid she realized that she didn’t need to darn socks any more, but we still had “school clothes” and “play clothes,” and woe to us if we got the two mixed up! And we cleaned our plates, and my dad always bought cars used (none of this “pre-owned” malarkey; who are they trying to kid?) and drove a hard bargain, and bought furniture from the scratch-and-dent room in the back of the second best store in town.

“Do without as long as you can, and then buy the best you can afford.”

“Stuff always goes on sale.”

And my favorite, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

My parents were both big conservationists, even though my father was a Goldwater Republican and my mom was a Roosevelt Democrat. (That made for some interesting conversations, especially when you added my brother and Grandpa to the mix during the Sixties). I read “The Population Bomb” and “The Limits to Growth” when I was in high school, and remember thinking, “My parents had it tough at the beginning. I’m going to have it tough at the end.”

I was born in the United States of America in the mid-20th century.

I only remember one house, in an old suburb of a big city. I walked and biked to school, and in the summer my buddies and I roamed the neighborhood largely unsupervised, catching crawdads in the drainage ditch, playing various sports in the vacant lot, and flying (and wrecking) various kit-built and homemade model airplanes in the parking lot behind the Baptist church at one end of the street. There was a Methodist church at the other end; that was where we went until I was about 10 and my father decided that Sundays were better spent at the beach! It’s parking lot was smaller than the Baptists’ and had trees, making it unsuitable for our aeronautical adventures.

My parents loved me. Though my father was strict and had a temper, he also had a fantastic sense of humor (which some say I inherited) and went out of his way to create happy memories. If it was fun, inexpensive (free counts), and legal, we probably did it. We went on a family driving vacation every summer. We went fishing. We went to lots of baseball games. He took us to the stock car races and the wrestling matches. Many evenings at dinner were punctuated with all of us laughing so hard about something that had happened at work or at school that we couldn’t stop. My parents are still married. My mom was a gradually retiring nurse, loving but no nonsense.

My wife and I are in our third decade of marriage, the first for both of us. Her parents are still married too. We’re a genuinely happy couple. We like each others’ company more than just about anything else in the world. We each genuinely enjoy too-seldom times with our in-laws and other extended family. We’re both pretty healthy, and we have a wonderful adult daughter who’s moved away but calls a couple of times a week.

Even for an American, I’m the freak show. (more…)