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every little bit helps… thoughts on making the world better, and what i’m doing about it.

February 11, 2010

If you try to avoid destructive actions, and work on positive actions and behaviors, even if you do a few good things each day – no matter how minor these actions seem, you have made the world better, and I salute you!

I am trying. Despite chronic pain of various kinds and other issues, I am trying.

I didn’t do a whole lot in the late morning – several days in a row dealing with lack of sleep – not so good, so cooked breakfast, read the paper, took a rather long bath.

In the afternoon, I went to guitar class. I have realized lately that showing up, sitting near the teacher as opposed to along the back wall, doing my homework, showing up on time, answering a question or two in class, trying to help the other students – this really blesses the teacher and some of the students, but the teacher especially. There are over 30 people in my beginning guitar class, and they make a ton of noise – most are under the age of 22, I am guessing, and not exactly mature – but rather a bunch of over-caffeinated ADD-addled teenagers who insist on noodling away on their instruments while the teacher lectures. The teacher is getting tougher on these students, but they are a hard group to control. Everyone of us who practices regularly and behaves well in class blesses the teacher and the other students, and this is good.

I had planned on tutoring my ESL student at the library in the evening, just like I usually do every Wed. and Fri, but he, poor guy, was rather sick, so left me a message saying he couldn’t make the appointment. I called back and left a message for him. Following up is important.

I came home, and was sent out to a nearby discount supermarket to get some groceries for my dad, who is in a bad way. I hate hate driving, even a short distance, and don’t like this discount supermarket either. I am very anxious around people at times in public places, especially people with a more rough edge look to them, but I went anyway and came back grr grr.. dammit sometimes I just have to accept my horrible moods and do what I need to do. Wrestling with these moods has often not been effective, so I just said screw this, I’ll go anyway.

Upon returning home, I got very busy. I have a lot of leisure time, and my serious goal is to put most of this time to good use! So..

Worked on guitar some more.I first bought a guitar in 1988, and have attempted playing off and on ever since, but with oceans of frustration and very very little success. It is now, at age 37, that I am finally learning the first few notes on the fretboard and where they are on the musical staff. I have progressed through the first exercises, which sounded terrible, but the two exercises I have been assigned for the week actually sound like music, and it is music I can read! Yay!

I practiced for awhile on these 2, and then worked on 2 songs by Nickel Creek (not assigned, I just really love some Nickel Creek songs). The two I am working on are “Out of the Woods,” and “Sweet Afton.” The basic version of the first tune is very easy, but “Sweet Afton is all tricky barre chords, and I strongly believe the chords I found online are not entirely accurate. “Sweet Afton” will take awhile to master, and I accept that.

Playing pleasant and good music certainly makes the world better. Pleasant and good vibrations and excellent beautiful songs. And, I will eventually be competent enough to play for other people and make them happy.

Let’s see.. I cleaned the cat box, yes, a bummer, but if I do it, my mom and dad don’t have to, so I do it.

Helped in the kitchen a little – always a good thing to do.. yes these things seem minor, but dad is in a serious depression and mom just had a lumpectomy some days ago, so I pitch in more than I have in the past.

Back in my room, where I spend the majority of my time : Only watched a bit over a half our of TV, and decided to play the low whistle instead of watching the rest of the show.  My tinnitus did not get any worse playing the whistle and I just played for a half an hour or so, and therefore no damage done to my ears (tinnitus has not been caused by playing instruments, even high-pitched ones like the Irish whistles, but the whistles can make the condition worse.)

After the whistle – a few minutes on my Morrocan bongos, then went on to Myspace karaoke, and sang for close to an hour – ’til I got a little hoarse. After that, sat on the floor against my bed and played the keyboard a little, working on “Jump” by Van Halen – one of the best songs of all time!! And fun to play, although tricky at times even though it is in the key of C major.

My hands were cramping up from having played guitar then whistle, so not much time spent on keyboard. I have a little primitive keyboard, by the way.. not the full number of keys, but the keys are full-size, and the instrument is not heavy so I can play it on my lap.

After that.. first time studying math in I don’t know how many months. I need to teach myself math – using books, software, maybe a DVD or 3. I know some basic algebra, but need to work up to a college level skill. My plan is to avoid the not-for-credit remedial math classes, in which I cannot learn anyway – too distracting, and eventually test into a college level class – thereby taking only one math class instead of 3. This will save money and maybe even save some time.. if I am diligent.

After math for about a half hour (half hour per day being enough to start out with) meditated for 15 minutes. I learned from the Zen priest I talked with last Thursday evening that Zen meditators keep their eyes open not closed, so that is what I did.

Pain! Neck, shoulder and back pain – tension concentrates when I am sitting on a cushion with no back support, and no distraction. And the mind goes wild! Buddhists call it the monkey mind. But, I did my 15 minutes which is plenty good to start with per day (or night). It is now officially Thursday, according to the calendar, and the Zen meeting is tonight. I wonder if the head priest will be there. I haven’t spent much time at all talking with her, but the priest I spoke with earlier said it would be a very good idea to work with her.

After meditating.. Many years ago, I found some software at a thrift store that looked interesting to me. An old Mac version of software that teaches katakana, hiragana, and kanji, the three Japanese writing systems. I have an older mac that is able to run the software, and after a decade of the disk sitting around in closets, I got it out, started it up, and tried to learn a few of the 3,000 + characters of the Japanese writing system. Even the beginning exercises were not easy! But I persevered for awhile until deciding enough was enough – it was just after 1 am by then.

And, lastly I read a little of the book “Zen Women,” and am now writing this blog.

One more good thing – I am really trying to limit my time online, and when online, I want to do more productive things. Facebook – I was fixated on that for a litle while, but thought, damn, this is stupid. I don’t need to know all the things these people are up to! I’ll check in maybe 3 times a week, and write far less posts on there and comment less.

My time online tonight has mostly been productive – singing with karaoke, and writing this blog.

Will all my days be this productive and beneficial? No, but many of them will be.

I am proud of myself.

I will read a little more of the zen book, and go to sleep happy.

I made the world better today.

Did you?

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