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  July 13, 2004

 

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July  13, 2004 - Tuesday

Contentment

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 satisfaction.

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 own.


Smoky & I spend a lot of time here

 

THEN

February 22, 1969

Well, Nixon's president now, never thought that would happen. He actually looks as uncomfortable in public as I feel.  I just started a new semester and things aren't going so well.  I find it especially hard to adjust due to my great fear of people.  I always have a feeling that they're looking at me.  I sit in class fidgeting and nervous.  I always try to sit furthest to the back to stay out of view.  I never participate in class discussions even when I know the answers.

This semester my English teacher wants everyone to present their views but I just can't come out of my shell.  Today she called on me and even when I came up with the right answer I stumbled over it, blushing and embarrassed.  Talking in front of a group of people scares the hell out of me.  I live in fear of being noticed but I know I can't make it through school without having to show myself.

Of course everyone has a little fear in speaking before a group but my fear is excessive. I've never seen another person as self conscious as myself.  It's really been bothering me lately but I don't know anyone who understands my problem.

I've been successful at cultivating pot plants from the seeds I got out of my last lid.  You put them in a wet rag then plant them in dirt when they sprout.  I have about 15 plants in small pots growing on the roof.  It's a lot of fun and I'm really not that interested in the harvest, it's just fun to grow them.  So far they're small enough to not be noticed but I think some other kids in the neighborhood are getting suspicious.

Had a real scare the other weekend when Ron and I were smoking dope in my room.  Mother and father were out at a party and we had the whole house reeking from the smoke.  The music was turned up loud and I barely heard the doorbell ring at about 8:30.  I opened the door and a cop was standing there with an envelope in his hand. I assumed that this was the end of life as I know it but instead, he handed me the envelope and said it was the tickets my mother ordered for the policeman's ball.  I was stoned out of my mind and I'm sure the pot smoke was billowing out the door but I took the envelope and said thanks.  From the expression on his face he knew exactly what was going on but just turned and walked away.  Ron and I spent the next half hour scrambling around hiding our dope and trying to air out the place.  We couldn't believe that he didn't come back with his friends to raid the place.  Guess they decided it would be bad for ticket sales. Har har.

Just the same we were scared shitless and I sometime feel like I'm living on borrowed time. Gotta be more careful!!!

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