July 13, 2004 - Tuesday
Itís 9 AM and 83 degrees. Inside the
temperature is 78, rising fast and the outlook for an active day is looking
slim. Outside, the heat is a deterrent to doing anything useful but itís the
bugs that tip the scale in favor of staying inside. At this time of year
theyíre maddening. I feel like a wimp.
Iím sitting at my desk in front of the south
window watching birds play in the converted satellite dish/bird bath. We
have an air conditioner but to save energy, I resist turning it on. I can
usually hold out till mid afternoon when I give in and give up. I think
about the millions in Zambia dying from starvation, huddled under sheet
tarps for shade, so used to the flies that they donít even bother to brush
them away. I feel guilty.
Grace, my mother-in-law, called to talk about
getting old and living alone. She doesnít like it and doesn't recommend it.
Guys are programmed to be rescuers but in this case thereís nothing I can
do. Iím such a poor conversationalist that I barely feel competent at giving
her what she really needs; good company. I yammer away with clichťís about
being old and I feel useless.
I think a lot about being content and Iím
currently reading "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama and Howard
Cutler. Over the past year Iíve been reading a lot about Buddhist philosophy
and I have to admit that I think theyíre on to something. Iím intrigued by
the idea of mindfulness and taking the middle road. The cultivation of
happiness without the usual trimmings that Westerners find so important.
This idea came to mind when Grace spoke of
her mother who was an Iowa farm girl. She was disusing a conversation she
had with her mother about how much better things would be if they had more
money. A bit of a clichť but her mother commented that if you didnít have
the ability to be happy when things are rough, it would be pretty much the
same if you were wealthy. She was talking about the type of person who can
feel comfortable and happy under most circumstances. The type of optimistic
personality with a healthy outlook on life and predisposed toward
For myself, I think that body chemistry,
habit and learned behavior have a lot to do with it. It means searching a
road that isnít based on wealth, status or possessions. For most Americans,
religion is the avenue taken but as an atheist, I gravitate to Zen Buddhist
philosophy. For me it seems a rational and detached approach. To each his
Smoky & I spend a lot of time here