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the pursuit of happiness can lead to unhappiness.

August 1, 2017

The reason so many people are unhappy is because they are pursuing happiness.

This might seem like a terribly cynical statement. But consider this..

That majority of the time that humans have been on this earth, they have not concerned themselves with pursuing happiness. No. They were too busy pursuing SURVIVAL.

Such is still true for so many humans living on this planet today.

The trouble with pursuing happiness is it can lead to a neurotic state in which one continually and obsessively asks, “Am I happy enough?” “Those people look happier than I am. Maybe I should buy that luxury car, or take that drug, or seek fame, or..”

And the more unhappy they become.

I’m not saying happiness is bad. But maybe, instead of always pursuing it, let it sneak up on you, while you are doing something productive and good with your life.

Also, simple contentment and gratitude for what you have should not be discounted. Contentment and gratitude are very important, and do not lead to the rat race of frantically pursuing happiness.

Something else to consider: we Americans are taught that pain is an option. We feel that in no circumstance should we have to endure pain.

But pain is inevitable. It just is. The first Noble Truth of Buddhism? In life there is suffering. I’m not Buddhist, but I feel this is worth mentioning.

We are all in pain some of the time. It can be extremely difficult to not frantically seek to get rid of pain. Yes.. if you have a headache, take some medicine. Yes, seek medical attention if need be. But don’t expect to always be free of pain.

This can be an especially hard truth for those of us who live with chronic pain, whether it be mental or physical. Or both.

Sometimes, the best we can do is, instead of trying to relieve the pain, just sit with it, and be patient. It’s hard. I know. This is something I struggle with, which is why I am writing about it.

I think, once one accepts pain, and learns to be patient and sit with it, one will find peace.

And maybe someday happiness will come along.

If it does, be grateful, but don’t cling to it, and don’t be too surprised when it is gone again. And lastly, don’t chase it once it has disappeared.

Live your life. Be content, be grateful. Happiness in some form will come back again. But don’t worry, and don’t be afraid to wave goodbye to it when it leaves.

good to relax..

June 22, 2017

4:23 pm. Just finished breakfast. Been house and pet sitting for my brother and his family, who are still vacationing and visiting relatives in CA. They are now somewhere up near Pincecrest in the Sierras.

I am sitting on a tall chair at the bar in their kitchen. Breakfast in the afternoon is pleasant. I like to stay up late and sleep in. Last night, I watered the plants and lawn at 3:30 am. It was beautiful outside. Cool late night temperature, with a breeze, and the neighborhood was very quiet. I like being awake during peaceful late night hours.

Breakfast: scrambled eggs courtesy of the backyard chickens, and leftovers: spuds and the last of the macaroni salad from Albertson’s, a McDonald’s double hamburger from last night.. good to buy an extra, and a can of Sockeye Powerhouse Porter. (Sockeye, name of a type of salmon,  is also the name of one of the larger Boise brewers). I don’t ever drink straight out of the can though. The beer needs to breathe, so I pour it in a glass, or in this case, a coffee mug.. time to run the dishwasher.

Toby, a rotund feline, and Chase, a Golden Doodle, who is not at all golden in color, but who instead is black, are sleeping peacefully. It’s nice to have friendly animals for company.

I am listening to my mellow instrumentals playlist. Earlier, I heard one of my most favorite relaxing pieces of music, “Egrets” by Montreaux:

At the moment, Jake Shimabukuro has just finished a track called “Wish On My Star.”

I saw this guy in concert at the Egyptian Theater in Boise a couple months ago.. Awesome! Now, I am listening to “The Water is Wide,” a classic Celtic tune, being performed by Jonathan Johnston.

 

Moving on to a piece of music called “Child’s Play,” by a group called Another Fine Day. Not a bad name.

And now, “The Immigrant,” performed by Joanie Madden, from her album, “Song of the Irish Whistle.”

The Irish whistle, also called tin whistle and penny whistle, is the only instrument I can play at all decently.. sort of. It has a lovely sound.

It is good to relax. You should try it sometime.

biographies..

June 5, 2017

I originally posted this essay on facebook..

Am I the only person who uses facebook to write blog posts? Probably not, but this is a rare thing to do, I think. Most people who are on facebook give each post they see a second or two of their attention, and maybe click like or leave a brief comment. Or post a meme, or write something very short.

Not me though, I don’t just do that, I write essays from time to time, and copy these to my blog, which you can find at wandering-spirit.com.

(I have much more essays, reviews and etc. on my blog than what I’ve posted here on facebook).

Why write something lengthy here, or anywhere? Too many thoughts in my head.. far too many.. my brain overloads itself everyday. I don’t behave manically, but I have a VERY manic mind. Writing helps.

The other reason is that I’m putting off mowing the lawn.

Today’s topic: Biographies.

I’ve grown tired of fiction.. it’s almost all I’ve read most of my life, except for the reading I do online – usually random topics on Wikipedia, or reviews of products I’m interested in buying. (I write unpaid product reviews too, over 80 on Amazon thus far).

I’ve started to take an interest in biographies. My mom has been in to reading biographical works for many years. I always wondered.. why read about real people? Why read about real life? Why not read sci-fi and fantasy and a few classics and mysteries here and there? Escapism is good!

Well.. I think the appeal of biographies is that they are about real people and real life.. extraordinary people who have actually lived.

The only biography I’ve read all the way through thus far was one about George Lucas. I read it earlier this year. Lots of interesting information.. particularly interesting to me because Lucas and my dad were at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, CA at the same time, and cruised the same streets, although they never met. If you want to know what life was like for young people in Modesto in 1962, watch Lucas’s classic film, “American Graffiti.”

The biography I read was called “George Lucas: A Life” by Brian Jay Jones. Very long, lots of information, but perhaps the most poorly written book I’ve ever read and managed to finish. Usually, if a book is terribly written, like “The Da Vinci Code,” (the movie adaptation sucked too) or various novels by Dean Koontz, I stop reading it.

Jones also wrote a huge biography about Jim Henson. I was planning on reading that one, but after reading Jones’s disaster of a Lucas biography, I might try to find another book on Henson.

The first biography I attempted to read was one about crazed but brilliant sci-fi author, Philip K. Dick. You might not be familiar with his name, but you have probably seen or at least heard of the films “Bladerunner,” Total Recall,” and “Minority report,” and also may have seen or heard about the incredible Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle.” (No spoiler comments please, I haven’t yet finished watching season II). These are all (very loosely) based on Dick’s works.

I didn’t finish “Divine Invasions A Life of Philip K. Dick.” (I’m noticing the use of the phrase “a life” instead of “the life” in biography titles.. I guess this is a way for a biographical author to admit the biography is the author’s interpretation of his or her subject’s life). I found the book interesting, but for whatever reason, was not in the mood for it. I started that book back in the ’90’s. I’d already read 10 of Dicks novels.. in a row. Quite a way to scramble one’s brain!

Just about an hour ago, I started my second biography of the year. (I read the one on Lucas in March) It is about G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). He was an English journalist, mystery writer, and Christian philosopher/apologist (an apologist is not someone who goes around saying sorry for this or that. No, what an apologist does is use reason to defend religion. According to Wikipedia, it “is the religious discipline of defending or proving the truth of religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse.”

So why did I start reading about this guy?

Reason 1. We have several bookshelves in the various common rooms of our house. In the family room, where my dad watches TV and reads the Wall Street Journal, where my aunt has her little office space, where our parakeet lives, and where I play with Tucker, our dog, there are two book shelves. In one of them, near the bird cage, and near the part of the room I usually play with Tucker, there is a book shelf, and on the bottom level of the shelf is a book that has been catching my eye for years.

It is called “The Outline of Sanity: A Life of G.K. Chesterton,” by Alzina Stone Dale. I wasn’t planning on starting this book today. However, I couldn’t find the front page of the Idaho Statesman, our local paper, and decided that even if I did, I wouldn’t want to read it, because I’d already listened to the news on NPR while I was doing my daily stretches on my yoga mat.

I decided to read something else instead. Time to read the Chesterton book. Or is it? I recently checked out an art book (one of those huge coffee table books) featuring the works of Edward Hopper. I’ve got another art book, “The Art of Andrew Wyeth” ready to be picked up at the library, and two other books at the library I have placed holds on.. one about the modern grocery store and food industry, and one on how to learn things quickly.

Also, I want to read the Bible cover to cover, along with one or more biblical commentaries.

Yes, I have an extremely over-active and restless mind.. and not exactly the world’s best attention span.

But.. maybe I will just read the Chesterton book for now, and browse through the art books a bit. Perhaps the other books can wait.

Reason 2. Chesterton quotes and references show up here and there. For example, one of my favorite novels, “Good Omens,” which is a parody of the Christian version of the apocalypse, written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, is dedicated to Chesterton, “a man who knew what was going on.”

Also, there’s a rather inspiring documentary about spirituality, problems in the world, and gaining a better perspective on life, called “I Am.” It was made by the guy who wrote and directed various Jim Carey hits such as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “Bruce Almighty.” The title refers to something Chesterton wrote.

He and many other great British thinkers of his day had been asked to write a response to the question, “What is wrong with the world?”

Instead of writing a lengthy essay, Chesterton simply wrote, “Dear sirs, I am.”

Reason 3. Chesterton was Catholic, and yes, I’m still interested in Catholicism, can’t help it. EWTN, the Catholic cable channel, even has a show in which an actor portrays and quotes the man.

The show is called “G.K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense.” It is based on the book of the same title, by Dale Ahlquist, which I’ve not read. I’ve only seen one episode so far, but would like to watch more. I don’t watch EWTN regularly, and don’t know if the show is still on the air.

I’ve just started “The Outline of Sanity: A Life of G.K. Chesterton.” I want to make an effort to finish the book, learn about this brilliant man, and not get too distracted by all these other books I want to read. I’ll let you know how the book is. I have somewhat high hopes. And also, I’m tired of passing by the family room bookshelf, and not reading this book.

“thunderstruck” like you’ve neither heard nor seen before.

May 27, 2017

RESIST!! … how?

May 25, 2017

Here is something I posted to facebook that I’ve been thinking quite a bit about lately.. figured what I wrote would be good to post here on my wordpress blog too.

I see a lot of anti-Trump posts that say “Resist!” The question is.. how? Posting a lot of anti-Trump stuff might make you feel better, but does it do any good other than that? I don’t post that stuff because I want to keep my page positive, and post good things that will improve people’s moods or expose them to unique music.. that sort of thing.

But, I am extremely concerned by what I see in the news, what I read in the paper, and by what my dad tells me.. he follows the news much more than I do.

Are marches effective, or just another way of blowing off steam? Something fun to do? I don’t know. I guess if it helps people to vent their frustration, then marching and protesting does some good, but I don’t know if it helps other than that.

Shouting down politicians at town halls.. not helpful. Speaking instead of shouting at town hall meetings is better.. like the nurse who stood up to Raul Labrador recently.. to which that horrible moron of a congressman replied, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.”

That’s like saying, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to air.”

What actually works? Writing our congress-persons? That probably won’t help here in Idaho. All of our people in Congress are Republicans. I doubt they’d take letters from concerned citizens seriously.. but writing them might just do some good anyway, if enough of us write. Maybe?

One good thing to do, if you have the time, is volunteer. I help out with an adult ESL class once a week, sometimes twice a week, if they need a substitute. Not all the students are refugees, but many are.

The teacher I assist told me yesterday that, since the election, more and more people are signing up to help. There aren’t enough spots in classes for all the people who want to be tutors to get involved. However, There are other agencies here in town that help refugees. Helping people in general is good!

If the astonishingly drastic and immensely cruel healthcare cuts go into effect, there will be a LOT more people needing help.. pretty much anyone who is not rich or upper middle class might need help. And that includes me.. and probably you as well.

Hopefully, more free or very low cost medical clinics will open up. Maybe people with healthcare experience will be able to volunteer a bit of their time to set up and staff these clinics.

I’m not sure what the rest of us can do to help. I can find some other volunteer opportunity, I guess. I can send emails to our senators and representatives too. But what else?

Even improving one’s attitude can make a difference. If I spend all my attention and emotional energy hating Trump, that doesn’t make me very effective. Better to make sure to take good care of health so I can help, and also put the focus on helping others somehow.

Even posting positive things here on facebook is a way of resisting evil. Sharing something funny or beautiful can really lift the spirits of your facebook friends.

I do want to resist Trump in other ways, but I’m not sure what effective ways there are for doing that.

If you’d like to find ways to volunteer, check out the website I’m including in this post. Wherever you are in America, I think Volunteer.org is a good site to check. I’m posting a link the the page for those of us living in Idaho. If you live in another state, just type in Volunteer.org, and once you get there, choose your state. Then use the search and sort features to find ways to help.

If you are a religious person, ask around to see if your church has any volunteer opportunities. Some churches do, (and all should) but many do not. If your church doesn’t, maybe talk to your pastor, priest, etc., and get something started. Or, ask your friends and family members if they know of any ways to get involved.

If you have even a bit of money you can spare, consider donating to Feeding America, or other reliable charities. Contributing locally is good too.. Boise Rescue Mission, Interfaith Sanctuary, or some other agency that helps poor people here in Boise. Even $5 a month helps.

Religious or not, you CAN make a difference.. if you want to.

Anyone who has great ideas on other ways to resist that you think are actually effective, please let me know.

Thank you.

http://www.volunteerunited.org/need/

labels, being yourself, and one unlucky night at a cafe..

May 22, 2017

Here’s another little, carefully crafted essay. (Seriously. I put a lot of work into these). This one is about labels, an unlucky night at a cafe many years ago, and appreciating our own weirdness.

The perils of the Urban Dictionary website.. I look up something innocuous, and on the right margin, all this horrible stuff. The term I looked up might offend some people, I don’t know.

“Chapstick Lesbian” – why did I look up this term? My favorite show is a rather creative and mostly politically incorrect sitcom called “Community.” One of the characters called another a “chapstick lesbian.” I hadn’t heard the term before, so I looked it up. Top hit with google was Urban Dictionary.

Want to know the definition? Ok.. “A lesbian who cares more about practicality than image. She really doesn’t gravitate to the traditional images of “butch” or “femme” — she does what she wants, and doesn’t really care how she’s seen.
‘I prefer Chapstick over lipstick because the former is actually useful. Chapstick Lesbian, baby.’ ” – Urban Dictionary.

(I won’t list any of the stuff in the right margin of the screen of Urban Dictionary. I’m still a bit traumatized).

Ellen’s TV persona was given as an example of a chapstick lesbian. Ok, fine with me. I like balance in various aspects of life.. Ellen strikes a nice balance between a masculine style and being very feminine. Most lesbians I’ve met, both here and back in CA, have tended to be like this. Rachel Maddow is also something of a chapstick lesbian, in my opinion.

I once met an intensely sexy, feminine lesbian, back in the ’90’s.. that was a VERY frustrating experience.. she was hotter than most of the straight women I’d met in years.

Instead of going for me, she headed straight for the also attractive bi-sexual woman I was sitting next to at the time. The bisexual woman would only date women, or men who were overly masculine cowboys. I had no shot with her either. And that too was frustrating. I liked her. Besides being attractive, she was unique and funny.

Although straight, I’m not very masculine, and definitely not a cowboy. It wasn’t the best night for me down at J Street Cafe (in Modesto).

Most of the gay men I’ve met have been somewhere in the middle too, not overly masculine nor overly feminine.

Was the character on the show in fact a “chapstick lesbian?” Probably, but that was left unknown. Which is fine. Not like we can always figure out people instantaneously anyway, right?

What labels could be applied to me? Creative, neurotic, friendly, eclectic, anti-social, odd? Sure, why not.

Wear your weirdness with pride. I don’t just mean wear weird clothes, although if you feel like it, why not. If you want to walk around town dressed like one of the characters from “Downton Abbey”.. which is something I’d do if I could afford custom-made clothes.. that’d actually be really cool.

I mean this metaphorically also. Ya know, enjoy your weirdness Maybe you horde vinyl albums of obscure prog and jazz fusion bands from the 1970’s.. if so, check out a band Phil Collins was in called Brand X. Or, perhaps you spend an inordinate amount of time juggling canned fruit. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, do your thing. (Try to be careful when juggling canned goods, please).

Don’t worry if not everyone likes you (and don’t get mad about this either.. I’m preaching to myself, folks, not just you).

Not everyone will agree with you, like you, or support you. They don’t have to. Who cares. You can’t have diversity without disagreement.

Be yourself. Enjoy being yourself. And, if you can manage, don’t forget to appreciate others for their weirdness too.

“just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in)”

May 15, 2017

Yes, that is a real song title! Awesome!

I used to listen to a strange radio program called Coast to Coast AM. It’s still on the air, and continues to feature such topics as UFO’s, remote viewing, conspiracy theories, ghosts, and other aspects of the paranormal. (My dad still goes to sleep while listening to this program. yeah, we are a weird family).

I first heard this song while listening to that radio show. Great tune.

The song was first recorded by Teddy Hill and the Southern Soul (no, I’d  never heard of that band either, just learned about them a few seconds ago when I looked up the song) but later became a hit for Kenny Rogers and The First Edition.

According to Wikipedia:  Though he has been most successful with country audiences, Rogers has charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.[3

Who’d a thought by watching this performance that Rogers would be so successful? This is quite a strange song, but then, the ’60’s were quite a strange time.. so I’ve heard.. I’m not old enough to have remembered the ’60’s. But then, people who are old enough say, “if you can remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there.”

I’m bettin’ the guys in this band probably developed some drug-induced memory troubles! I think you’ll be alright if you refrain from dropping acid or popping some ‘shrooms, and just listen to the song.. then again..