So I'm having a significant birthday - the last one I will celebrate out loud - and I realize I'm rounding the corner, coming into the back stretch on the oval. It's where winners are made and losers limp to the finish line. In life this is the mental part of the game where you choose to finish well or give up. I'd say this looks to be the hardest part of life but I wouldn't have said that until I got here. Most of my life I've heard people say they can't wait to get here, that they have worked all their lives and they can't wait to....well, that's just it. Can't wait to what?
Suddenly there are choices again. Career, family, homes, have driven us, freeing us from making decisions. Life has been set out before us and we simply stepped into the days, years, decades and then family moves out, careers end, homes are emptied or downsized. So what lies in the backstretch? All our training and experience must stand for something - the wisdom we've gained must be passed along. Right? But we live in a youth driven, obsessed with new, society. Old is out. (Which is exactly why I'm not celebrating my birthday anymore. I don't wish to be defined by my age.)
My first mental adjustment is to realize this race is a relay in which we pass the baton to someone else who will continue the race. What we pass along and who we pass it to becomes important.
My second mental adjustment is to realize I am three in one; body, soul and spirit. The book of Ecclesiastes of the Bible says, dust goes back to dust and the spirit goes back to God who gave it. That takes care of my body and my spirit so that leaves the soul.
The soul is the expression of who we are and in that lies the baton. Whatever other decisions will be made in the back stretch, finishing well depends on how we pass the baton of our life expression. In my back stretch I plan to stay connected to God's Spirit in order to pass along His good traits, in the unique way that he made me, and in the circumstances I find myself. Those good traits are listed in the book of Galatians of the Bible - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Those things are produced in us as we look not only to please ourselves in life but to please God. Those things I want to pass along as my baton because they keep this world from being out of control. Those things we are all capable of and make us winners because they promote peace.
An afternoon trip to Barnes and Nobel brought a little hope back to me as I browsed a table of past bestsellers marked $6.98. Realizing the retailer had to mark these $26.99 hardbacks at such a low price to "move them" was somehow comforting. Most of these bestsellers, authored by serial writers, were paid an advance by a publisher and/or a royalty for the sales. Even 7% of $26.99 times a million books is $189,000.00! The humiliation of having them on the sale table would be easier to swallow at that price.
Wondering how to achieve that kind of success I strolled the aisles, picking up only the ones that appealed to me by cover design with two exceptions, recommendations by friends. Can you imagine how many books are on the shelves at B & N? Too many to look through, that's for sure. So how many do you think I picked up? About twenty in one hour's time, giving each book short of three minutes to capture me (and my money).
New fiction, old fiction, Christian living, self-help, sociology, culture, psychology, travel, cooking, all begging for attention. I'll bet if I looked on bookshelves in homes I would find many of the same kinds of books, proving the theory of one of the books I perused stating we all live from our unconscious. Meaning we tend to make the same kinds of choices we have made in the past because making different decisions forces us to engage our brains and actually think. Habit, or staying the box is comforting, even if it is boring.
With my purchase of two books for $13.84 (including tax) I stayed in my box and also stepped out of it. The United States Constitution and Other American Documents, a steal at $6.98 is for my reference library, and the other a novel, Fadeaway Girl, is about a curious and witty twelve year old girl trying to solve three old crimes. The writing style of Martha Grimes along with dialogue and setting captured me. Maybe it's a throwback to the days of reading Nancy Drew but somehow it seemed like something new.
Speaking of something new, try New Money for an Old America. If this sounds like a commercial, it is. I'll bet it's different than most anything you've read.
I've mentioned New Money for an Old America is about a group of ladies who win the largest lottery and how they spend their money, but I haven't talked about the supernatural events that give them guidance. Jimmy McDowell, a six foot tall, barrel chested, red-faced, hairy Irishman with a temperament, quite the opposite of his intimidating physique is referred to as my Angel-Man.
Read more: Swimming with an Angel
My son and his new wife recently returned from a trip to Italy bringing with them five bottles of wine because "you just can't get wine like this in the states". AND, I must admit, after sharing a bottle with them, I agree. Not only was I struck with the smooth, slightly bubbly texture, and violet underhues, but also by the name "Blah, Blah." I wondered about the naming of it and settled on believing it was because of the amount of lively conversation that must have transpired while trying to come up with just the right name.
Walking on the treadmill, watching CNN and FOX news channels this morning (because I am seeking balance) I heard blah, blah, blah. Now, don't get me wrong, I want to hear opposing opinions because it prods me to think for myself and to know how I feel about things. In doing so I challenge my own opinion because others may have convincing reasons for believing things which I haven't considered.
Are there a perfect solutions for the social and economic troubles those news channels report on? I think not. Our founding fathers could NEVER have envisioned the America we have now. I don't believe they had a crystal ball nor do I believe anyone ever has had. But what we do have is history and hope. We have what has already transpired as a guide for making future decisions AND we have hope that things will turn out good in the end.
AND if you're lucky you have good friends, good wine and good blah, blah, blah!!
Who, besides me, thinks we are experiencing a revolution in our society?
Due to technology we are in touch with places, information and cultures we may have never known in our lifetime. Now that we have full access to the world it's like Pandora's Box has been opened. Today's explanation of that analogy is; we perform what may seem like a small and innocuous action but it turns out to have severe and far reaching consequences.
Everything we are exposed to requires a choice. What will we choose to include in our lives? And by what standards will we choose? It requires thought, not just action.
According to Greek mythology, one thing did not escape from Pandora's box. It was the spirit of hope. Hope causes us to not be overwhelmed.
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