Thanksgiving 2017

Did you survive? You know what I mean, family, cooking, a day off of work for most, and shopping for those of you brave or crazy enough.

I had a nice thanksgiving, started with running a 5K. We worried that it was going to rain but weather held out and it was a wonderful run with just a light sprinkle in the middle of the run. I don’t know that I think that running before Thanksgiving makes me feel like I can totally indulge but it certainly makes me feel better at the end of the day regardless of how much I eat.

Thankful for Moms

I think that a lot of people will set around the table and talk about all the things that they are thankful for but one thing that seems to be a little bit remiss in my mind is thinking all the moms out there and grandmothers as well. These are the unsung heroes of Thanksgiving. Without moms and grandmothers who is cooking all of these savory dishes that remind you of home.

I was not home this year for Thanksgiving. But my mom particularly puts out a wonderful array of dishes that everyone knows is her signature of the holiday. So for me not being home I totally missed out on some of the best eats that I know of.

However I did get to go to a family’s home that I was invited to, and I really was treated to some great food and got to watch another family and see their traditions during this holiday.

for the most part Thanksgiving is a great nondenominational holiday that everybody here in America can celebrate regardless of your background and just consider the idea of being thankful for one day for something and for that I think it is a really great American holiday.

Certainly people can make things religious or political but at the end of the day we are very lucky if we have a roof over our head and warm food in our stomach and people that we can call family. Not everybody is so lucky not even here in this country as much as we would like to believe. I think that’s the reason why we still want to bring people up help people out and always strive to do the right thing to help everybody.

I know that not every day will be a day of Thanksgiving and it is too bad that we have to go another 365 days until people come together in the same way again. There are plenty of other holidays both religious and secular but none quite as inclusive has Thanksgiving. Hopefully this is the kind spirit that we can push forward throughout the year, and work together for positive change in this world.

But mostly we should be thankful for our family and our moms and our grandmothers who help us to remember why all of this is so important.

Meaning of Life part II

So I said that there is no “real meaning of life”. And this is the struggle that people have had since the beginning of time.

Religion seems to solve the problem very nicely by letting us know, there is a creator and we are his creations with responsibilities that he has placed upon us.

Simple, straightforward, and we don’t need more to know to have fulfillment. But for some of us we do. What if we move that feeling of creation inside our own being, and take some responsibility for life? These external and internal forces seem to clash but the spark of creation exists inside all of us, doesn’t it. The most amazing thing we have is emotions and the ability to Love.

I think that without the complexity of our ability to Love it would be easy to write the purpose of life off as us being a random set of particles and atoms that have formed and are at a place in the universe for a limited time and in a blink of an eye we will be gone.

But we have Love. What else has this special bond, special emotion? People will die for love, they will do so much and some people may never receive it. We are not tools just to make money, or build things. We procreate. We form friendships and love interests and have bonds.

Our problems in this world seem small when you think that the singular purpose is to love. And anything but is the antithesis of it. War, hate, destruction, and fear are all what keeps us focused on the road to love and righteousness.

I don’t think people can really survive without love. And that’s why I think it is the meaning of life. Sure you need food and water, but the emotional aspect of love is what makes a person whole. Without it, we are hollow shells. Because love matters, people matter.

To live in a world without love is really not living at all.

Meaning of Life

Last night I sent out 3 tweets that could only be described as WTF?!

I discovered the meaning of life. There is no meaning to it. We are pretty insignificant really. People won’t care when you die, really.

Then

So if a person cares about you at all when you are alive, you are really lucky. There are some people in this world that no one cares about.

And finally

I guess this realization makes me no longer fear dying, or what I leave behind.

So in the context of things happening on this planet I really do wonder if we have lost touch with any meaning of life. We talk about God as some sort of force running the universe and yet it isn’t just bad things happening to good people, it’s that good people have stopped caring.

How is it possible that someone care shoot not one person but 27 people or 600 people and there is not even a thought about how can we prevent this from happening in the future?

I ran a half marathon this weekend and the charity was 2nd harvest food bank. They told all the runners in what was an emotional video, 1 in 6 Americans go without food every day.

We have many crisis here in America and the world. We have more resources, more information and the ability to affect change for the better in this world and we don’t.

The meaning of life

I wish I could tell you what it was, because I feel like it has no meaning. Maybe you have heard or read the quote,

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

-Edmund Burke

Jonah, probably the anti profit of the Bible, said to God,

Therefore now, O the Lord, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Jonah was pissed that God allowed Evil to continue because they repented, but maybe the real rub is this, Jonah knew that they would return once again to their evil ways, and this moment of repentance was only to hold off the final decree.

Maybe Jonah was mellow dramatic in asking God to allow him to die, because God doesn’t take his life, but tries to teach him a lesson.

Thoughts

As much as I believe in God, I don’t think “He” is involved or cares to be in earthly affairs. It’s like the movie “Oh God!” George Burns plays God, and lays it all out in a final court room scene, where he is placed on trial. Ultimately he reminds us, we all have to get along and take care of what we have. https://youtu.be/nxmaYsZjnXoSometimes the universe comes down to just one person. And if anything or anyone matters, then that may be enough of a distraction to give our life meaning. At least for us to spend our days and direct our energy.

But I used to fear death, because of God, and now, I realize more than ever, it’s just the next phase. Something not to fear or wish for, but something that we all will experience. It’s permanent, walking from one place to the next, into a realm lost for forever. Maybe there is something. But I don’t hope or think anything about it. It just is.

Life has what meaning you give to it. And in the end, it probably won’t matter.

(Post ed… but you can make it matter).

When you take a knee

Hey America! You have the right to protest your government by burning the flag or taking a knee! And I support your right to do it. But I also am going to tell you why you shouldn’t.

When Colin Kaepernack decided to “Take a Knee” or even sit out the National Anthem, he did it to bring attention to a problem. #MissionAccomplished. He didn’t solve the problem, but he got people to acknowledge and talk about it.

At this point, there is no point. Now what is happening is that it is continuing the division of Americans. If you want people to listen to the problems of this world, you have to unite together to fix it.

I promise you, it will take patriots and patriotism to right the wrongs of society. Making the people who love the flag and America believe you don’t share their love for country doesn’t help the cause.

The “Take a knee” movement simply has no potential end. Sad to say, there will always be injustices in this world to fight. And you can always blame America for not doing enough.

Yes Black Americans aren’t treated fairly, but we have other problems in this country as well. Women not treated equally, homelessness, 1 in 6 people go hungry in this country everyday. People don’t have access to medical care and are living below the poverty line. Cities like Flint Michigan still don’t have safe drinking water.

I could go on, but to make the world a better place it will take everyone. We need to come together. Protest, but protest in a way that doesn’t make 50% of Americans basically say Fuck You! You’ve shut down the half the people who are important to solving the problem. If they didn’t matter, the problem would already be solved.

You have the attention of the world, time to stand up and honor America. Then take the time to build the bridges and fix the problems.

Remember the words of President John F Kennedy,

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

You want what you can’t have… but what if you get what you want? #relationships 

Today, I’m confused now more than ever. And I read what I wrote below and left in draft mode, and now i’m back at it, thinking about a lot of things. I’m thinking about motivations, and interactions, inducements and why. The truths of people’s observations of nearly 100 years ago, are still true today. We are as likened to our animal instincts as we are the greater human being that we believe we aspire to be. Pavlov, Skinner, Maslow, and Marston seem to key in on human behavior factors that all converge in an order. Maslow understood the why. Pavlov saw that process, Skinner focused on the sticks and carrots, and Marston saw the subtleties as things related to men and women. Marston suggests without realizing it, that it is much easier to induce someone who is low on the Maslow scale than it is on the upper end of the scale. Depending on where you fit in. But we are all conditioned within the scope our our relationships and realities, and we work hard to avoid negative reinforcement.

Still digesting a lot of material, there is a connection and when I find it, I will let you know.

Written in June 2017….

I remember my friend telling me, you have to be an asshole to women.  In fact the more of an asshole you are, the more they desire you.

He said, you know your problem, you are a nice guy.

It’s true, I consider myself unfortunately a nice guy. I think it is because I am wrapped up in believing that we narrative of what women want is someone who will treat them with respect and as an equal, and love them.

Oh how untrue that is, at least for many. I have a female friend who is single and dating. We were talking about how she would break up and make up with the same guy. And the more he pulled away, the stronger her attraction to keep the relationship alive became.

You want what you can’t have.

Just like my friend who said I was a nice guy; he would treat the woman I knew very bad, call her names, and publicly shame her. The more he did that, the more she would come around to bother him. She just wouldn’t leave her alone.  He said clearly, he had no desire to be with her, and it was true. And the more he would push away the more she would bother him.

I have had my share of crushes or loves or whatever you want to call them. And it is interesting to me that I can build these wonderful friendships but they don’t seem to go anywhere. And I wonder if it’s because I’m too available. It’s like I’m easy.

What is the carrot that these guys dangle in front of a woman that keeps them just interested enough to stay engaged, and yet not quick to dismiss these shenanigans?

I’m not saying that all of these is true for everyone but I can clearly see that as we search for people, sometimes it is the unobtainable that is the most desirable.

But what if you get what you want?

Maybe you break someone down and they finally decide, you are right, you are the person that I should be in a romantic relationship with? That clearly describes my first marriage (and probably my only one). It’s a horrible feeling. You will have to work at figuring out ways to keep that person.

Relationships shouldn’t be that much work.

I say this because if you have a solid foundation of mutual respect, then you come together to solve problems, rather than fighting over minutiae.

It all goes back to my initial thoughts. Be a nice guy and do the right thing for the right reasons. And love is always the right reasons for doing things.

The heart wants what the heart wants.

I wish I could tell you why people fall in love. Is it like beauty and the beast? You meet someone and think they are boorish? Or not your type or whatever… Then you realize they are more special than your first impression and you gasp, fall in love?  And we know that love takes all sorts of directions and there different types, but I am talking about the romantic love.

So vicious to get to have the desire of one’s heart, and then become disillusioned after you obtain it. Isn’t that the rub? We have an illusion of our desire. And reality can sting.

So powerful of feeling when two people experience NRE (New Relationship Energy)

People you love

So I’m sitting here in Starbucks, and thought I would write about people you love.

I find it intriguing how your brain processes people. How memories are important to understanding desires.

Being single at 48 makes me think, how do you go through this courtship process. You say, if I knew at 18 or 21 what I know today. But I know it today, and it does me no good. And maybe because I’m still much of the same person I have always been. Stuck between being good and bad.

So I meet someone and now it’s a world of life commitment as soon as you swipe right. I’m scared, and while I want to jump in and close my eyes, I pull myself back.

But then when I think of people from my past, I see myself more mentally prepared to go the extra mile, and maybe it’s because I know their narrative. The longer you know people, maybe it’s like to kill a mockingbird.

You never really know a person until you walk around in their moccasins.

I don’t know anything really. I just am rambling along.

I do know that for myself, I am lucky to have met wonderful women who have made me better by just knowing them. Crushes aren’t the end of who you are, they are a reminder of how powerful love can be. And that you have the capacity to love with all of your heart.

Some people might say, cut that shit off, let go! And I think that Love isn’t about that. You can let them go here, but never in your heart. It’s ok to experience those emotions as long as they don’t consume you and prevent you from moving on to finding Love elsewhere. And it’s out there. Trust me, I know it is. There are 6 billion people in the world. People get married many times over.

Love is out there, sometimes you just think about the loves of the past in a romantic way, and that’s the beauty of the past.

Love and Death

Ok, so the title is weird, but hear me out, the thoughts of the last week and culminating up through yesterday had me thinking a lot about that very subject.

You see, my brother’s ex-wife passed away yesterday. She was 45 years old and died of liver failure. While some of the health issues surrounding her death are probably going to be a mystery, the fact that she was addicted to alcohol was not.

She leaves behind family, a son and others.

So it got me thinking about a few things. We have been focused on Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and other tragedies and now here is one that is sort of affecting my family.

Imagine 45 years old and dying unexpectedly. Really, dying at any age can be tragic. Who mourns for you. When you’re dead I guess you don’t care. Mourners get a chance to focus on the people they want to remember. They get a chance to deal with their loss.

So this had me thinking about Yom Kippur which just passed last week. And we talk about being inscribed into the book of life. We know that people die everyday. And I would like to believe that God does not write people in some magical book and say, it’s your time to go, and the method is also predetermined by how you have lived your life.

Good people die. There is a great book, why bad things happen to good people that explains a lot. And sometimes you just have to accept death as part of life. No one knows how many breathes they will take, or how many heart beats they will have.

So I wonder, because life is so precious and I am focused on the future, which is good, but am I ignoring the now?

Who will remember me when I’m gone? Who will burn a candle in my honor, or place a stone on my grave? Does it matter?

I could get into the crazy esoteric aspects of the soul, but what it really is about is being loved and loving others.

Once a year, during Yom Kippur, they have a service called Yiskor, where they remember the dead. They remember loved ones. Family, friends, martyrs. Every Synagogue has Yahrzeit lights that are lit to recall the dead. You hope that people will be around to remember you, even if it means just turning the bulb on a light and saying your name at a service.

I will remember my loved ones. Because I know our days are numbered. And if I live longer than my friends, I will remember and light those candles and leave that stone.

Guns, safety, and Freedom

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Benjamin Franklin

What liberty is he talking about? Some thoughts that might take you down a rabbit hole are found here.

But is having 2nd amendment rights to guns something that provides liberty or safety in our world today?

The answer is startling that we say the solution to the shooting in Las Vegas is more surveillance and more police.

What is liberty? To not fear he intrusiveness of the government in our daily lives? Or the ability to purchase any weapon of opportunity?

The 2017 reality is that the government can respond, but it can’t keep us safe from crazy people.

So there is this argument; Hitler took the guns away from the people. Don’t believe it. In fact he relaxed much of the gun laws in Germany. Hitler and guns – Salon.com

Why can’t we have a conversation about responsible gun ownership? I understand wanting to own a gun for self protection, but where is the need for the weapons that the shooter in Las Vegas to be made available to anyone?

If we aren’t looking to curb gun violence, we just may be asking for extreme government surveillance as the tax to keep our guns, and that’s not a tax I’m willing to pay.

Flag or Idol Worship?

Sometimes I wonder what branch of the military holds the flag to more reverence? Having served in the Navy, I tend to believe the level of traditions there may have a long history of Flag and Colors ceremonies.

My indoctrination to Flag worship was in kindergarten. I remember we had to stand up every morning at 8am, put our right hand over our hearts and say the pledge. Not that we really understood what it meant or why, but it was something that brought us together.

I remember looking at a full length mirror in Mrs Schultz class, and next to the mirror was a photo of Then President Ford. It had a caption that said “Our President”. I don’t know if we spend much time these days trying to instill pride and patriotism into our posterities? And I don’t believe that pride in one’s country is a bad thing to have at all.

But let’s go down a path of conversation for just a moment. The problem with the pledge, is the idea that we pledge to the flag and the flag is first and foremost. Not only that, people won’t say the pledge unless there is a flag in the room, and then, they must turn and face the flag. Excuse me, but I think we are out of control with this level of protocol.

This reminds me of the Story of Abraham and the idols. Maybe you’ve heard it. Abraham is at his father’s idol store where he sells all sorts of great idols, big ones, little ones, etc. His father says, I have to go please mind the store while I’m gone. Abraham already rationalized that there was nothing to these idols, they were just stone statues. He began to destroy all of the idols, except a little one that he placed in the center of the store. When is father came back, he was angry, what did you do to the idols, he demanded to know.

Abraham replied, while you were gone the big idols made fun of the small idol and the small idol smited all the large idols. And from that point Abraham was on the run.

The point is, people know these things aren’t real, and yet they still put their minds to focus on them.

But there is another story I want to tell, and it comes from the Movie, the Frisco Kid, staring Gene Wilder (Avram) and Harrison Ford (Tommy).

Gene Wilder plays a Rabbi traveling from Europe to San Fransisco. On his way he is befriended by a Robber turned friend, played by Ford.

There is a scene where Wilder seemingly makes a choice between saving his friend and saving the Torah. Later this conversation transpired:

Avram: I told you that I can’t be a rabbi.

Tommy: [Tommy hurls a piece of bread at him] Don’t you tell me that. Just don’t say that again. Not after what I’ve been through to get your goddamn ass here alive. If you hadn’t have shot that man, then we’d both be dead. Do you understand that, you ignorant asshole? You do understand that? He was gonna kill you and then he was gonna kill me, am I right? When you shot that son of a bitch, that was not a sin. Then what the hell are we talking about?

Avram: When those men were shooting at you, I ran to save the Torah.

Tommy: So? I understand that. You’re a man of God. I understand that.

Avram: I wasn’t thinking about God. I didn’t do it because of God. I don’t know one thing about God. I was thinking about a book. I cared more for a book than I did for my best friend. I don’t know if you can understand that. I don’t want to insult you. But do you understand what I mean? I chose a piece of paper instead of you!

When we start worshipping things, important as they may seem, over loving our fellow man, we lose every time.

Religions all put people above things and idolatry. Yet this flag obsession is love of country. And it has turned neighbors against neighbor. It has become a golden calf of a new generation instead of the symbol of hope and freedom. Let’s restore it’s true meaning and give it the dignity that it should get without making it something it is not.

Let’s talk Rights

Everyone is up in arms over the Bend the knee and NFL controversy. And while I am a supporter of the players, I do believe that employers have certain fundamental rights as well.

When you work for a company, they expect that you will behave in a certain way. When you wear their uniform or represent them, you represent their brand.

NFL players ultimately have to show their allegiance to the NFL. If the rules say you can’t put a sticker on your helmet, or whatever they have that doesn’t violate labor law, you have to comply. Failure to do so may result in consequences for your actions.

The NFL has taken a position that they respect the rights of players, and will allow them to use that time to make a quiet protest. There are lots of arguments for and against the league making the stand, from a boycott from players or fans.

Ultimately, companies make decisions based on dollars. If the fans abandon the NFL, maybe the league will change the rules. If this was a one time protest, maybe nothing will happen.

But my point is that we have these rights. You have the right to be offended. And people have the right to protest. You can debate the forum. But the NFL has granted the forum, so the debate is over.

You now can choose the consequences. You can choose not to watch or you can agree with the players,

Something must be really important for a person to potentially throw away a career over a belief. Think about it for a moment.