Posted by: walkerswalkabout | August 26, 2016

The Village Bully

Yes, we need to send Washington a message. But do we need to tap the village bully to deliver the message?

Didn’t Washington already send Washington a message? Didn’t George set the tone? —that a man on horseback would not consent to be king, let alone seek to be king?

I stop barely short of disbelief at the way large portions of America, my beloved country, have embraced a bully. Are we not trying to root the bullying instinct/practice out of our schools and playgrounds? Then why should we even consider aiding a bully in laying down roots in Washington?

I will tell you who to vote for. Here is the answer to that great mystery: vote for someone who is “good and wise and honest”. Surely there must be a good and wise and honest woman or man left in America!

To those who have endorsed a bully, I say: Bully for you. But not for me. And no respect for any politician who has joined that camp.

Some have repented of having endorsed the bully. To all who have been seduced by that error and since rejected that regrettable path I say: Kudos. Repentance is good. Bravo. Spread the word. Continue to sound the “alarum” bell.

In this land, of all lands, we are free to choose our future. Let us choose a better path.

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | May 17, 2015

The Positive Uses of Pain

I have come to believe that everyone I meet is fighting some sort of battle. All suffer and strive. All seek relief. Sooner or later, all will conquer all.

I am no exception. The past five years, relentlessly, has brought exquisite suffering. Chief among them—job troubles, making a living but things not quite working out to expectations. Relationship troubles, nothing horrible, just less than enjoyable. Death of loved ones. New aches appear some mornings, that apparently will be with me for the rest of my life.

Various species of suffering, like grinning Gargoyles, perched often above either shoulder, as I ran, stumbled and trudged along the challenging corridors of my life.

I wondered if I might have planned better— and stayed on top or avoided.

The Gargoyles are steadily losing their power and crumbling to dust, as I continue to push forward. I began my baby steps into the winner’s circle around the middle of December a year ago, after I responded with angry but well-focused energy to a stinging get-up-off-your-butt reproof from a friend.

Eight things the Gargoyles taught me about the positive uses of pain:

  1. As we endure, we learn how much strength we really possess (always more than we think as we learn how to fight the good fight).
  2. We become humble and teachable because of our afflictions — our hearts take on spaciousness.
  3. We become stronger — as it says on the back of one of my biking T-shirts, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”.
  4. Our suffering may serve as a healing experience for others (for example, numerous family relationships have been healed through the suffering of one family member).
  5. We have a chance to learn firsthand what others may need in the same or similar circumstances — thus we acquire empathy and compassion.
  6. We learn that if we are sincerely trying to do good, pain is not eternal. As promised, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” Psalm 30:5. After the Garden of Gethsemane, if we endure well, comes always the Garden of Gratitude.
  7. Our afflictions provide opportunities for others to do things for us. They stretch and grow through service, as much as we stretch and grow by being served.
  8. We learn ENORMOUS enjoyment of the good through having experienced the bad—some call this the Law of Opposition in all Things—a driver of the Great Plan of Happiness.

Surely other positive uses of pain are available. Currently that degree of understanding is apparently above my pay grade.

I do not advocate a mindset of suffering, nor do I wish it on anyone. I do advocate making all we can of what life puts in our path.

Got suffering?

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | March 14, 2015

Ripe Fruit

This happened just a few clock rotations ago, on February 19th, a birthday of many candles. Always before, almost always, I had taken this day of days off and pondered through past year and coming year and what was and could and should be.

This practice became less and less the last half-decade, as I descended into the fog of a loved-one’s sickness and death and the hot-kiln of consternation about next steps.

Eventually, I fought through the fog, found and married a unique and fun woman, and stooped down and built up a new dream from the cast off sticks of the old dream, with Jo Anne adding her zest, her tigress music and her boundless encouragement.

Nonetheless, even with the superhero theme bedecking my work-office door, this 2015 birthday, after a long day of teaching and wrestling with questions of knowledge gained, used and misused, found me not in a place of deep serenity and beauty, but seated in front of a faintly glowing computer screen, in my office at the University, concocting a worksheet for students to deepen their knowledge of Williamson’s Transaction Cost Economics theory (i.e., how the just-right, or just-wrong, transaction [agreement] can gain you or lose you your shirt!).

I was deep into the evening. Cold Arctic air seeping into our Central Missouri campus like an ice age of swamp gas. Snug in my scholar’s cocoon. The phone rang. Gary my friend had greetings and questions for me.

“Hey, Lorin, Happy Birthday— how is your birthday? I assume you are out to dinner somewhere with your lovely wife, celebrating your special day. . . What, you are in your office working on worksheets for your students!!??

HEY, LORIN, THAT’S NOT EVEN A NEAR MISS!!

You need to drop that stuff and get out and celebrate, man!”

When I am lucky, I have a friend who helps me see the other, funner side of life, like ripe fruit over my head. Counter to my frequent fixation on the dirt-encrusted bread crumbs at my feet.

I dropped my pen and made a phone call—“Hey, Jo Anne, how would you like to take me out to dinner for my birthday?”

We dressed up for the cold and went out for a hot dog (me) and a veggie burger (she). A very fancy Chicago-style hot dog. And deep fried dill pickles on the side. Then we watched an episode of the first season of LOST.

Look! Reach up. RIPE FRUIT.

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | September 15, 2014

Dogs…Again

Dogs are man’s best friend. I want to become the person my dog thinks I am. Working like a dog (myth). It’s a dog’s life. Let sleeping dogs lie. All dogs go to heaven. Yep, dogs have been around for awhile.

Once they were wolves. They hung around the fire. Our ancestors threw them a few bones. They stayed.

Then they moved into our houses. Some have had their smarts bred out of them. They are as dumb and decorative as ornamental silk flowers. Some are very smart. Like our dogs.

They came with my new wife/life, and love, Jo Anne. They have a proud heritage. Aussie shepherds. Miniature. Their barks are not miniature. They love interaction and entertainment. They crave attention. They are cunning, wise and innocent, all at the same time. When I walk to the refrigerator, they buzz around my feet like furry moths at a flame. Then they return to lollygagging in the laundry room. Or sneaking my chocolate when I am not looking. Not like the dogs I had as a youth.

Those were working dogs. In my own private Idaho, they were as essential as a garden hose or a shotgun or a deer rifle or a fishing rod or a tractor or a stick of dynamite. They earned their keep. They worked for a living. They pointed out where the edible feathered creatures were hiding. They chased down said birds when they dropped from the sky, felled by buckshot. They brought the birds back to the shooter, for a quick transfer to the frying pan. They kept away the wild elephants and giant feral hogs and R.O.U.S.’s. They guarded the children. And they were low maintenance. They ate the odd scrap left over from dinner, and they slept outside year round.

To be fair, our current dogs do howl at the moon and at the coyotes that live just over the hill from our Missouri country home. Thus do they keep the varmints and the moon at bay and away.

I was without dogs for several years, after Tess and Hannah died. Did not want to bury another dog. Dogs should live to their owners’ lifespan. And be buried with them, so they can frolic together first thing on the other side.

So now I have dogs.

When I need company, they are there. When I need attention, they are there. When I need a wet tongue mopping up spilled ice cream, they are there.

The dog Blue loves me. Especially when I have food.

The dog Fanny adores me. Unconditionally. All the time. Not bad.

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | February 4, 2014

Solemn Jokes

In my opinion, there are many solemn jokes in the universe. Youth being wasted on the young is one.

Marriage is another (putting marriages in the hands of newlyweds!). First, take two immature or less mature people of different familial and often regional cultures. Not to mention that male and female created He them (out on a limb here!) different. Throw them together into an intimate, forever-committed relationship. Bind them together by law. Throw sex and children and education and vocation and pregnancy and in-laws and mortgages and car payments and sickness into the mix.

Oh, and press these two hapless souls together, like two different genera of leaves set one on top of the other—clamp them between the pages of the heavy book of the most self-centered “me” culture in the history of the planet, and watch what happens as their lives press tightly together. Open the book from time to time to let in a little light and fresh air, but mostly keep them in the dark. That any marriage whatsoever survives is a great wonder. Half don’t. But half do!

And why do we keep trying it? Because we are wired that way. Instinctively, we know that marriage is the greatest potential source of joy in the universe. Sadly, it is also the greatest potential source of hostility. For marital joy prosperity, we must re-create the joy and defuse the hostility every day. No coasting or it coasts into the Great Slag Heap of boredom and piled-up offenses. Constant course correction called-for.

But collisions are inevitable. Marriage water-line puncturing icebergs are legion. To name three from the research: Criticism makes the antennae of our affection wilt. Defensiveness renders us incapable of improvement. Stonewalling (refusing to talk or to lovingly tell the awful truth to one’s companion) insulates us from everything but disrespect. It is a form of shunning. Antidote for all these? Tenderness. Patience. Attentiveness.

So maybe all this risk and potential pain explain why traditional marriage as an institution is under attack. Even in Utah. No matter. The best things have always attracted the harshest attacks. Not to fret. I have read to the end of the book, and marriage wins.

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | January 1, 2014

This Olde (Stone) House

My 1939 vintage stone house is “on the market”. I think I have lived here longer than in any other. But not much longer will I live here, I think. I wrote a one page piece to add to the Real Estate agent information, placed on the counter top of the kitchen for prospective buyers to peruse.

I notice some houses–not many– take on BEING. I hope yours has or will.

 

Dear Future Home Owner(s):

We hope you enjoy this beautiful, unique, stone home as much as we have.

Children’s laughter has rung through the passageways and up and down the stairs. There have also been soulful and positive life-changing conversations in this house. It has been a place of warmth and refuge for many.

Every Spring the lawn and the forest out back burst with the color of daffodils, green and lavender vinca, redbuds, iris and daisies. At certain times of year, you can hear the hoot owls calling to one another across the treetops. Hawks ply the skies above the property, as many as three at a time. All manner of visitors come to the birdfeeder, and a pair of bluebirds raised their young in one of the birdhouses out back.

When the sun shines in through the skylights in the lower room, the feeling is transformative. This we used as an artist’s studio, and also as a room for relaxation, renewal and conversation.

The master bedroom is a serene place that makes you feel like you are hiding in the treetops.

The balcony off the upstairs bedroom has been used for sunbathing, or just sitting and strumming a guitar. The other bedroom has been a jewelry-maker’s studio.

If you want life, light, character and warmth, you have found your oasis.

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | August 16, 2013

Telling stories

We all do this. We all delight in telling stories. Why do we do this? i say we do it to enlarge our memory—our memory of the good things in our life. To share wisdom. We do it to relive our fun and wonderful and great experiences. We do it to share. We do it to see and delight in the reactions of others. We do it to relive the fun experiences. But mostly we do it to enlarge our memory of the goodness that life has been offering us.

I still remember the time that my little brother Justin told the story of his first ski trip, with the terror and thrill of his dashes down the mountain. He went through all the motions, all the facial expressions, looking back and forth at the trees and rocks rushing by, looking bug-eyed at the trees and rocks rushing straight at him, feigning falling down, struggling back up to his feet, dashing down the slope again. This was retold latish at night in the living room near the hallway of my sister Charlotte’s house in Jerome, Idaho. I see him all over again when I retell this. We all became hysterical with laughter. First Justin, then all of us.

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PERPETUAL INVITATION

 

Take time to light a candle.

 

Real People. Real Time. Right Now. You!

 

Gee whiz! If only someone would do something about that!!

 

Here’s your chance.

The media has lately offered up a fairly steady diet of “doom news”. If we are not careful, this constant overdose of bad news can create emotional indigestion, and leave us wondering if anything is right or ever will be right with the world.

I am not saying we should stick our heads in the sand and pretend all is well. A lot of things need attention. But a balance to bad news is needed: challenges overcome, heartwarming acts of kindness, new insights, simple acts of honesty, humor, lessons learned, beauty.

So, I invite you to use the idea-starters below to share a story from your extraordinary life—simple or sublime. Go ahead, take 2 minutes and post it as a comment:

  • What made you smile today (or yesterday)?
  • What personal philosophy serves you well?
  • What activities have you enjoyed?
  • Who/what has inspired you?
  • What have you recently learned?

PERPETUAL (URGENT) INVITATION

 

You are invited.

 

To share good news from your daily life.

 

To counterbalance the negative news that is so prevalent.

 

Simply share something along these lines:

  • What made you smile today (or yesterday)?
  • What brought tears of appreciation?
  • What personal philosophy serves you well?
  • What activities have you enjoyed?
  • Who/what has inspired you?
  • What have you recently learned?
  • What advice would you pass on?

 

Note the recent examples below if you need more inspiration. Post your offering as a comment.

 

By: Austin on February 17, 2009
at 8:36 am

Mile 15.5 in Sunday’s marathon, a little boy (maybe 6 years old or so) and his dad rode up from behind me on one of those bikes towing an almost bike. The boy turns and looks behind him at the 1/2 mile string of runners he has left in the proverbial dust and offers up this gem “Dad, we must be really fast!”. If I had had the energy I would have laughed, instead i cracked a grin and gave him a thumbs up as they sped off into the distance. To a six year old life just IS.

By: Arthur on October 27, 2008
at 8:49 am

I work in the construction industry. I talk to frightened people every day who have to hear the bad news of foreclosures and decline in the residential market. Our commercial department couldn’t be busier, and despite fears that some of these projects have no tenants people remain optimistic that the seven years of famine started in 05′, and that over the next four years the slope will again rise to hide the horizon.

There are still people willing to risk resources in the face of difficult economic times to provide jobs and progress for their community.

I recently went in to my credit union and spoke to our contact there about a HELOC, and while he seemed anxious at first, began to open up about the financial markets. It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know or suspect… the good news? I pulled all my money out of Washington Mutual back in 04′ after inquiring about their lending practices. Should find out if everything went through today… I’m not worried.

Even though I’m what the industry would call an A+ borrower, it’ll still take my credit union two weeks to verify my credit, etc. There are still stable and responsible financial institutions out there.

Better news? My garage, converted into a stuffy workshop by the previous owner, has a fresh coat of paint, carpet, and a comfy 8′ couch. I started moving my stuff out to the “hideout” last night. I sat with my brother out there comfy as can be and talked about the best place to buy a mini-fridge among other thing until 2 am. Glorious!

There are still places of sanctuary and respite, even if you have to build your own. =}

 

 

It is urgent. Curse the darkness…or light a candle.

 

We are each free to choose.

 

Thanks. I have re-written the invitation. I hope you contribute. Feel free to pass the invitation along.

Regards.

LRW
PERPETUAL (URGENT) INVITATION

 

You are invited.

 

To share good news from your daily life.

 

To counterbalance the negative news that is so prevalent.

 

Simply share something along these lines:

  • What made you smile today (or yesterday)?
  • What brought tears of appreciation?
  • What personal philosophy serves you well?
  • What activities have you enjoyed?
  • Who/what has inspired you?
  • What have you recently learned?
  • What advice would you pass on?

 

Note the recent examples below if you need more inspiration. Post your offering as a comment at https://walkerswalkabout.wordpress.com

 

By: Austin on February 17, 2009
at 8:36 am

Mile 15.5 in Sunday’s marathon, a little boy (maybe 6 years old or so) and his dad rode up from behind me on one of those bikes towing an almost bike. The boy turns and looks behind him at the 1/2 mile string of runners he has left in the proverbial dust and offers up this gem “Dad, we must be really fast!”. If I had had the energy I would have laughed, instead i cracked a grin and gave him a thumbs up as they sped off into the distance. To a six year old life just IS.

By: Arthur on October 27, 2008
at 8:49 am

I work in the construction industry. I talk to frightened people every day who have to hear the bad news of foreclosures and decline in the residential market. Our commercial department couldn’t be busier, and despite fears that some of these projects have no tenants people remain optimistic that the seven years of famine started in 05′, and that over the next four years the slope will again rise to hide the horizon.

There are still people willing to risk resources in the face of difficult economic times to provide jobs and progress for their community.

I recently went in to my credit union and spoke to our contact there about a HELOC, and while he seemed anxious at first, began to open up about the financial markets. It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know or suspect… the good news? I pulled all my money out of Washington Mutual back in 04′ after inquiring about their lending practices. Should find out if everything went through today… I’m not worried.

Even though I’m what the industry would call an A+ borrower, it’ll still take my credit union two weeks to verify my credit, etc. There are still stable and responsible financial institutions out there.

Better news? My garage, converted into a stuffy workshop by the previous owner, has a fresh coat of paint, carpet, and a comfy 8′ couch. I started moving my stuff out to the “hideout” last night. I sat with my brother out there comfy as can be and talked about the best place to buy a mini-fridge among other thing until 2 am. Glorious!

There are still places of sanctuary and respite, even if you have to build your own. =}

 

 

It is urgent. Curse the darkness…or light a candle.

 

We are free to choose.

 

Posted by: walkerswalkabout | June 8, 2013

The Positive Uses of Pain

I apologize for the length of this post, and ask that you bear with the pain that brings and read to the end.

Near as I can tell mainly four types of pain define our existence here on the gnarly skin of the planet.

One is the pain of stress and worry. Father of panic attacks, death of dreams. Mother of catastrophizing.

Another is the pain of productive effort. I have dug postholes. It hurt. I have thinned beets. It hurt to be in the sun all day, shoulders ragged-sore and hands blistered red and white by midafternoon. Or the hurt of running laps around the asphalt track, again and again, preparing for the Friday race. Or the pain of enduring another’s pain. Maybe the hardest, but necessary if one is ever to risk love.

Another is the pain of refinement. Often this makes no sense except in retrospect. Often we add to it the pain of frustration, or the pain of railing against whatever we think is the origin. Or……in fits of excellence, we endure it well, patiently, focusing on other’s needs, not our own pain. Learning to endure in hope, not blame. Sometimes forced to focus small, hours or even minutes at a time. Like the 2 month span of time after our flood in Iowa when my wife and I would at night-time consciously write down 3 things positive that had happened that day (sometimes this took some pondering), and would pray mostly to be granted hope during the following day, so that we could keep putting one foot in front of the other. What didn’t kill us….

This pain, the pain of refinement, eventually brings joy if we endure to “the end”.

Then the best and most productive pain—when the pain of not changing exceeds the fear of doing the new. So we take the leap. As we endure, the crash if any most often brings the burn of phoenix fire.

In the late 80’s at a time of introspection during an MBA class, I decided I was becoming soft. I was no longer willing to put myself in fear’s way. My solution was to take up road biking. My first ride of 7 miles exhausted me. My first crash (not at speed) bruised me and mashed the banana in my hip pocket. Two subsequent crashes (at speed) broke one helmet into 3 pieces, dealing me a concussion, and later, a speed-crash split my helmet from back to top, twisted my bike, and planted a bruise as large as a dinner plate onto my hip. A deep bruise. As I lay alone, curtain drawn around me for privacy, in my stylish split-back hospital gown, with my entire pink backside hanging out, in the emergency room in Lynchburg, Virginia, I asked myself if I was getting too old for this (I was in my early 40’s). A profound feeling of peace came over me that convinced me of my wrong thinking, and I have ridden many thousands of enlivening miles since, including just a few days ago. With no more at-speed crashes.

I am sure other kinds of pain, yet outside my awareness, impinge upon other’s peace. I could learn from these others were I willing to explore this terrain.

And… as I am now once again feeling that I am becoming soft, too susceptible to fear, I will surely discover more of this territory.

Do the new.

What’s new for you?

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | May 27, 2013

Spontaneous Laughter

Similar to spontaneous combustion, but without the annoying side effects. No hot ash. Just new energy.

I notice it at odd times.

Last month when I was driving to a fund raising run/walk, 5K, on a beautiful, clear, cold April Spring day. Something about the beauty of the day, the solid feel of my car with the new struts, the immediate prospect of meeting up with 2 of my “kids”, and walking in a good cause, must have struck me. For no apparent reason, I began to laugh/chuckle/grin at the prospect of the new day before me.

I have noticed it most often at the beginning of solo backpacks. Something about being immersed in the creation, the sermons in the stones, as St. Bernard the saint observed. Once about 15 minutes into my backpack in Australia, at Wilson’s Promontory, it happened. The same for my solo Wyoming Wind River Range hikes. A laugh from the belly but kind of bubbly at the same time.

Children also inspire it. Very young children.

When it happens, I ask myself, why do I ever do anything but this?

When you laugh like this, you can trust yourself in that activity. Also other people give you their trust when you laugh like this.

Notice where the laughter is. It heals.

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Posted by: walkerswalkabout | April 13, 2013

Experience

Experience

They (the ubiquitous they) say that experience is the best teacher. Is there any other way to be taught? It is also the best bringer of wisdom…and joy.

I had two experiences in the last 24 hours. They taught me many things and brought me, yes, joy.

Money bought one of them for me; time bought me the other. We can buy things with our money, or we can buy experiences with our money (best use of money), or……we can buy things that enable a myriad of experiences.

The one that time bought:
Today I experienced something I had never before experienced—a bookstore with an escalator. A very small and narrow and cute escalator. It escalated me to the top section of the store, where children’s books and the latest titles for adults co-existed peacefully on the same floor.

I asked the nice woman at the desk about Nooks. She said, with deer in headlight eyes, she was the children’s books expert, and knew nothing about said contraption. That the Nook expert was on the first floor. His name was Jeff. Indeed he was—on the first floor, named Jeff, and a Nookish expert.

I need a Nook that does not panic and crack its screen at the first sighting of a GRIZZLY BEAR. It became unreadable the third day on the trail last summer in Glacier National Park, and I had to settle for being alone with my own thoughts in the dark night in the midst of brown bear country. I asked Jeff to prevent this occurrence. Jeff did not know for sure if he had such a resilient Nook, nor could we think of a way to test this particular resilience on the streets of Kansas City. I settled for believing that a hard case (for the Nook) might suffice. Of course, there is only one way to find out for sure.

I also noticed, as part of this same experience, that a distinctive calming influence comes over me when I am in a bookstore thumbing through the titles, reading snatches of thought. Just being with new ideas—what a peaceful joy it brings me. How empowered I feel with new world upon new world begging to be explored, standing at attention on shelf after shelf and calling out to me.

The experience that money bought:
The second experience I bought with money, or rather a kind person bought me for Christmas. A zero degree down sleeping bag. Good to zero Fahrenheit. Weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Amazingly light. Shiny black. Top tech gear. 900 fill goose down. Quantum Pertex shell. This is gear that can only be appreciated by those who have been out of doors and have frozen nigh to death when the temps dipped at night below the capacity of the bag they were in, enduring hour after hour of numbing cold, longing for day to dawn, with the cold turning the minutes to hours (thanks Gordon Lightfoot for the language), as I have.

I have a lot to say about sleeping bags and gear in general….but suffice to say I daresay I was the only person in our neighborhood sleeping out behind their house last night, (on the side of a cliff, really) during our freezing night. Testing the bag. Before deciding that I would trust it on multi-day backpacks (for the next 10 years, which is how long my last bag lasted). The new bag performed well. It was a damp night given a lot of rain recently. So my bag got quite wet on the outside and the damp became a frozen coating of ice by morning. But I was cozy warm as can be all night. Just my nose a little cold.

HEAVEN!

This bag will enable many experiences, and travel to many places in the next decade. It will likely be mentioned in my will, so the kids don’t fight over it.

Still deciding on the Nook. Paper is so dependable and bear-proof.

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