Dan’s Wednesday Quotes of the Week – #66

Fear is faith pointed in the wrong direction. What happens when we point our consciousness in the direction of our fears? We live in fear. Fear is the thief that robs us of the present moment.

Some of the worst things that I ever experienced never happened.

This idea, which has many versions and is sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, is my favorite because it strikes a chord of truth within my being. I wasted much time in my life living in fear of what might happen.

To counter this tendency, I put a note on my computer to remind myself to look at life differently. The note says,

“Best-Case Scenario!”

I invite you to join me in affirming the best outcomes and to live from that perspective instead of the worst-case scenarios.

Rev Bill Englehart, Unity of Tucson

Labyrinth at the Unity of Tucson

Dan, A Season of Light, A Season of Darkness – KGUA #72

To welcome in the New Year on January 3, 2022 KGUA Radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.  Chas. Dickens

A Season of Light, A Season of Darkness

Hey, I got my health at 74, that definitely makes it a season of light.

On the other hand, Covid uncertainty and vaccination hostility darken my mood.

Happy and healthy grandchildren, Owen, Max, Brooks, Charlotte, and Reese, add life-affirming light to my days.

The need to debate and dominate over listening and conversation casts a shadow on the landscape.

Friends from Santa Barbara to Kittery Point shine their light for me.

Opportunity to freewrite weekly for KGUA Radio Writers gives meaning to my mornings, an outlet for me to tell my story.

Friendship over brewskis after pickleball and ping pong makes me a happy boy.

Satisfying relationships our own children –  with Molly and Tip over wine, opening presents with Robyn, and morning coffee and biscuits with Will and Laurel.

Light shines when I “let go” of my need to control the uncontrollable.  For example, currently there has been much uncertainty for the past week about our JetBlue flight to California today.  Travel delays might happen due to weather (8-12″ of snow in Boston yesterday) or Covid issues, ours or the flight crew.  I am working with the belief that when the time is right (not when we are scheduled), we will get to California.  (See below for further explanation.)

As you can see, I have much light in my life.  Privilege plays its role, attitude steers the ship, and relationships shine their light on me day in and day out.

Words –  223

The Daily Word (Unity) from December 30, 2021 articulates beautifully about what I am trying to say about “letting go.”

trying to control events can feel exhausting.

…I accept circumstances as they are.

…I still work toward desired outcomes, but now my energy is cooperative, not combative.  I release my need for specific outcomes, instead desiring the highest and best for all involved. 

I find ease in accepting what is and surrendering to what could be.

Sure, developing such a belief is not walk in the park. It continues to take lots of practice. 

Let Ryan Holliday citing Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher, in the Daily Stoic for January 1st, have the last word. Remember that the Stoics of Roman times valued discipline, justice, courage, and wisdom. They were not a sad, impassionate and resigned.

The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t.

If we can focus on making clear what parts of our days are within our control and what parts are not, we will be happier.

Dan and His Holiday Song for 2021 – KGUA #70

For the December 13, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to freewrite to this prompt: What is your special holiday time song?

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Some think Gandhi said, Be The Change You Wish To See in the World.  In that same vein in 1955, Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller wrote the song Let There Be Peace on Earth.  And that, my friends, is my holiday song for 2021. 

There is much to the title of this song, but it is the second line that packs the punch.  Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me!   Whoa!  It’s up to me to act, not just hope good things happen. 

Hannah and I heard Let There Be Peace on Earth on a Vince Gill Christmas Album.  Click here to listen to his golden voice singing these golden words with a cameo by his daughter Jenny.  Below is the version we sing at Unity of Santa Barbara.

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth
A peace that was meant to be

With God as Creator
Family all are we
In love we walk with each other
In perfect harmony.

Peace has begun with me
And this is the moment now.

With ev’ry step I take
Let this be my solemn vow

To take each moment and live
Each moment in peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.

Words –  221

Enjoy Gladys Knight’s cover of Let There Be Peace on Earth.

Dan and the Serendipity of his Broken-down Mower

I am not mechanical to put it generously.  I usually just give up when anything mechanical/technology doesn’t work immediately.  Our new once-working, now not-working printer is a case in point.  But today it’s about our lawnmower.

Last year, we had our mower service at the local Eliot Small Engine Repair for $144.88.  With a short grass cutting season in 2020, I used the mower maybe seven, eight times.  As recommended, I ran the mower to remove all the gas from the engine and then stored it in our shed for the winter.

Gassed up for the first cutting of the spring, our mower works just fine cutting the grass in our backyard this May.  You see we only cut a portion of your yard since we have a meadow of daisies and black-eyed Susans by our driveway that I don’t mowing until August when the flowers go to seed.

Just before Memorial Day, I start up the mower again, make a couple of passes on the backyard, and then it chugs a couple of times and stops stone cold.  Today, I wait, pull the starter cord again and again, and nothing.

As you might imagine, I am at a loss what to do.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I know that since today we are playing pickleball with our friend Fran, a mechanical wizard, I can bring the mower to him for a look-see.

And this is where good fortune smiles for the first time.  Fran is great.  He gets right to it, taking off the engine cover, blowing out all the dust, cleaning the air filter, and diagnosing that I likely have a dirty carburetor.  Now I know what I’m dealing with.

Even so, our backyard with foot high grass still needs a mowing badly.  With no mower, I text our neighbor Laurie to see if I can borrow theirs.  Soon, her hubby Shawn cleans up their mower, fills it with gas, and brings their self-propelling motor over.  Good fortune numero dos. 

After mowing our backyard, I am still left with a mower that won’t work.  I call Eliot Small Engine to learn that if I can take out the carburetor (yeah right, like that’s going to happen!), they can clean it for me.  If not, I’ll have to put my mower in the queue which means it’ll be six weeks before they can get to it.

Not wanting to wait that long, into our laptop, I type in “lawn mower repair.”  I find that Spectrum Small Engine Repair is just up the road in Wells.  I call, they say they can look at it, and it’ll take maybe a week, maybe less.  Good fortune #3. 

Told that I’ll see mowers in the front yard, I arrive with mowers strewn everywhere on this residential third acre lot.  I park, eventually find Nick, who couldn’t be more agreeable and accommodating. 

I have my third delightful human interaction, none of which I would have had without my beautiful broken-down mower.

Dan Learns of Antidotes to Fear and Worry

It’s not a deep dive to say these are challenging times.  Climate crises (not merely climate change).  The current president.  School shootings.  Polarization that eviscerates our nation.  White supremacy.  Poverty.

Antidote curiosity 3

Do these challenges have a way of overwhelming us to the point where spiral into worry and fear?

Justine Willis Toms speaks to me along these lines.  Curiosity is the antidote for fear.  Optimism is the antidote for worry.  Curiosity can support our understanding of our fears.  Optimism is its own reward.

Speaking of fear and worry, Hannah has a powerful question to put things in perspective.  When a certain mindset, habit, or behavior pattern distresses a friend of hers, she might respond, How is that (e.g. fear or worry) working for you?

Antidote optomism

I close with my guy of the heart – the Dalai Lama.

When someone asked him, Why are you so happy all the time, even while there’s genocide going on?  The Dalai Lama’s answer was simple: because it makes him feel better.  He said he doesn’t know how it’s going to turn out, so each day he’s just going to do what is right and good to do.

Hello Dalai, my kind of guy.

 

(Inspired by “Deep Dialogue” by Mallory Herrmann in the Unity Magazine (May/June 2019)

Dan and Hannah See the Face of God on Easter

Dan, are you and Hannah home?  And if so, could I stop by and have a few minutes?

That’s unusual.  We can go weeks without dealing with our neighbor who wrote this text.  Wondering if anything is wrong, I respond, We are in Pennsylvania.  Be home manana.  Once home, we don’t hear from him and I pretty much forget about it.

Then, on Easter morning I get the exact same text.  Though Hannah and I are just heading for a mid-day walk at the Ogunquit (Maine) beach, I text back, Now is a good time.

Our neighbor is the classic good guy.  When we needed a hide-a-bed sofa removed from an upstairs room, he and his son come right over and moved it for us.  He always greets us warmly when Hannah and I walk the neighborhood.  He is a devout Christian who truly lives his faith.

Rainbow our driveway

Waiting on our driveway, we see him approach.  He says, How are you?  I mention that we are just back from seeing our grandson in New York.  He smiles, and then breaks down in tears.  Whoa!

Hannah and I both step forward and give him a group hug; he cries and doesn’t say anything.  Hannah wonders if someone died.  I wonder is he getting a divorce.  Does a child or grandchild have cancer?

Composing himself, he says, I think you know how much my faith means to me.  I try to be a good neighbor.  It’s been on my heart that I’ve wanted to say this to you.  We continue to hug and listen and wonder.   He pauses, head down, composing himself.

He looks up and continues with a smile, I think you know we come from different political perspectives.  I should say so.

Rainbow flag

So, is this about the rainbow flag we have flying on the busy road in front of our house.  Does he want us to take it down?  My mind races further thinking that that’s going to be a problem.  Our rainbow flag is a symbol of our support for our LGBT sisters and brothers, who are our friends and yes, in our family.

Composing himself again, he says, You two were there when I needed you last fall. I want you to know how much that meant to me.  While he was recovering, we brought soup and biscuits to his family; sat with him as we listened to his story of how it all happened.  While he was recuperating, we gave him bread.

We continue to hug, and then he relaxes and seems at peace.  I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me.  We smile at each other as he says, You know, I’m there if you need me.  As he always has.

And then as soon as he came, he’s gone – walking back down our driveway.

I look to Hannah and say to her, we’ve just seen the face of God.  This is what Rev Rich Knight meant when he said, When you see acts of kindness and acts of love, (similar to what our neighbor just delivered to us), you see the face of God.

So glad we were home when God walked down our driveway this Easter morning.