Friday, May 29, 2009

Opinions and Change

Opinions. We all have them by the truckload on every subject imaginable. Just ask anyone you know what they think about something and they're more than happy to let you know in spades. Everyone from regular folks to famous people, politicians and even criminals have them.

The problem with opinions I'm starting to have is all of us have somehow lost the true meaning of what an opinion really is.

1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

So tells us the truth, I think. It does not say an opinion is some kind of superior truth written in stone on some magical tablet found in a sacred cave in the holy land. It clearly says an opinion is a belief or judgment a person has. A personal view or attitude.

I'm going to add one more definition to this. In my humble "opinion", opinions are nothing more than our attempt at bullshit, my own opinion notwithstanding included....None of us know what we're talking about in most instances at all. Our opinions are just an excuse to sound like we do. They also are the grease that keeps conversations from falling off a cliff. Our opinions and a dollar might get one a cup of coffee.

Especially now in these trying economic times everyone on both sides of our great divide in this country rattle off their bullshit opinions about causes and cures without the slightest inkling of the realities or complexities involved therein. All the Television newscasts and radio personalities get in on this insane game of course. They are just people with opinions but they somehow want us to believe they possess some kind of supreme truth. They especially are guilty of prostitution because they get paid the big bucks to put their bullshit out.

We, the gullible public walk around saying "Well, Rush said, Hanna said, Katy said, Brokaw said and spew the same crap as if it means anything at all. As if there is one iota of truth involved. Now the next logical step in my little opinion bullshit piece would have to be......What is truth? Are there such things as absolute truths? Truths that are always the same forever? I would have to suppose that the only people who lay claim to that would be all the various religions of the world and maybe some of the scientist who believe they know the absolute truth about some subjects.

So that leads me to the second thing in the subject line. That would be change. I propose that the only true, real and forever thing in life is change. If our president actually gets anything right during his term in office, it just might be his emphasis on change. I'm saying that everything we think of as truth is actually a forever changing landscape of opinions. What our forefathers thought was the truth is vastly different than what we think nowadays, to say the least.

Even in the religious realm our decedents from the very distant past believed they would appease the gods by throwing virgins into the mouth of a volcano. In fact it was a great honer to be such a chosen one. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the gods would shine their loving light on them for their sacrifices.

In the not so distant past, women and children were possessions of men and they could do onto them whatever they wished. Blacks and American Indians were savages to be killed on sight or turned into slaves for the white mans bidding. All of these truths were only just recently re-examed and found to be wrong.

Change happened, didn't it? We constantly change our minds about what's real and true. What was true and real in 1950 is vastly different than what's true and real today. I know we often times pine for the "good old days" but guess what? They are forever gone. Change comes whether you like it or not.

Just off the top of my feeble brain I can guarantee you that homosexual relationships, gay marriage, marijuana and all drugs for that matter will be legal sometime before you know it. Our prisons will be much smaller when we treat the whole drug thing as medical issues as they should be.

The youth of today look at us hassling those "issues" and just shake their collective heads and roll their eyes in wonder. They wonder why in the hell we are even talking about such trivial things in the first place in the light of such huge social, economic and political problems that we are facing. These changes and many, many more you can't even imagine right now will take place for sure as soon as all of us old codgers with our stuck in the past ideas are dead and gone.

Ok, I've freely given you a hearty helping of my bullshit (oops, I mean my opinions). Now if you add in a smidgen of your bullshit, we can make a fabulous bullshit stew. The next paragraph will tell you how.....

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Being in the Moment

Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them. — Alan Watts.

How often have you eaten a meal and not really tasted it, or completed a chore or drove to work without really thinking about it? Maybe even spent a whole day doing things and at the end of it can't even remember most of what you did. I used to watch some late night TV, until one morning I found I couldn't even remember what the show was about. I then made the decision that if I couldn't even remember it, the damn thing was meaningless in my life and a waste of my time.
Our days often pass us by while our minds are elsewhere.

Practicing being in the moment is one of the foundations of Zen Buddhism, of course, (actually all Buddhism, I believe), but it’s not necessarily meditation, per se — it’s more being aware of your actions and thoughts, and what your senses bring in, in your every day routine. No one actually lives in the moment all the time — I don’t think it’s possible. Some, with practice, can learn to live in the moment for longer than most of us, but there will always be times when you’re worried about the future or thinking about the past, and forget to be in the moment. Which brings up a truth that most people don't give much thought about. There really is no reality other than right this exact moment. Right now. The past is a done deal and is gone forever. The future is nothing more than a supposition. Something we assume will come along but there really is no guarantee it will even happen. You could get hit by a car in the next few moments and where would the "future" be then?

Living in the moment is actually quite hard to do. People who try meditation find out in a hurry just how hard it is. You sit down and try to calm your mind and immediately find out our minds have a mind of it's own. Try it sometime and you'll see that our minds are like raving maniacs. Running around in circles. Blabbing incessantly about every little detail in our lives, non-stop. Mostly about things in our past or thinking about what will happen in the future.

Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing — the sensation of the air as it enters your nose or mouth and fills your lungs, and as it goes out again. If other thoughts come up, be aware of them, acknowledge them, let them go (but don’t try to force them away) and then return your focus to your breathing. It’s hard, isn’t it? Being in the moment isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Another method is the use of a word tool, like a mantra. A lot of folks use the OM sound, saying it each time they breath in and again when they breath out. There is no special significance of the word one uses, it's just something to hang onto like an anchor. So each time you catch that wild ass mind running around in a million directions, you can simply start concentrating on saying the word again.

Other examples of when we at least partially achieve that level of concentration would be in any activity where you are completely involved to the exclusion of all else. Sex comes to mind. Also almost anything you really enjoy like sports, playing music, singing, dancing, hobbies ect.

One last thought about all this "living in the moment" and "now" being the only real thing. For most everyone "right now" is actually perfect. Unless you're in some unfortunate circumstance, everything is pretty damn good right this moment. It's probably a very nice day, your stomach is full, you have a roof over your head and you have people who love and appreciate you. Now if we could only shut that monster in our head up, even for a little while.

Pretty damn nice moment huh?.......

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Friday, May 1, 2009

It's all her fault

A subject that has come up numerous times for years in the shop has been about who has the redecorating ideas in our households. Is it the men or the women that come up with all the great home improvement or landscaping ideas? Do the husbands or wives have all the creativity in those departments?

I can tell you right now that all the men reading this blog right now are slowly but surely developing that knowing and embarrassed little smile that comes with excepting the truth is about to be revealed. They all know the answer to those questions plain as day. Just today, I had a full house of customers and that subject came up. Down to the last man in there, the answer was their wives.

All the men in the shop including me had to admit that if it were just ourselves living in our homes, the house and yards would look exactly the same right now as they did when we moved in, no matter how many years ago that happened. Same paint on the walls, same furniture, same appliances, same patch of weeds outside.

When the front door started getting loose and falling off it's hinges, we would just tell everyone who came by to "just lean it back on, it'll be all right". When a window broke, we would just put clear plastic over it with duct tape and call it good. When the roof started leaking.......well, that's what tarps were made for right? When the dishes got too dirty to clean, that's what Goodwill is for right? Just buy some clean ones and off you go for more years.

So, here is how it goes according to all the men I talk to. It all starts with the women in our lives looking at something long and hard, with their hand on their chins saying something like: "mmmmmmmmmmm, you know what? We should fix, change, repair, remodel, move, redo, get a new one" or any number of words to that effect and come up with the beginnings of some outlandishly wild idea for a giant project in our lives. Soon as those words start pouring out of their mouths, our heads hang down, our chins hit our chests and inside of our minds we're saying "Oh shit!, here we go again, a whole shitpot full of money, time and labor".

We mostly then try for a few moments at least to change the subject, put it off to a later date, try to scale back the grand ideas she has or anything but agree that she might just possibly be right about it. After completely failing to change her mind about anything, which is the standard result of trying to change anything about a women's mind, we finally and reluctantly give in and start trying to plan on step one to make it happen.

Then the fun begins. It almost always starts with complete destruction of the existing thing being changed, with all the mess, dirt, grime and junk hidden for years under or around said object. In other words hard, sweating labor for weeks on end before we can even start with the real project she has envisioned. The whole thing always takes three times as long and costs three times as much as you thought it would.

Ok, we finally get the whole thing done and here's the part that's so very hard for the average man, including myself to admit. First of all, ALL of the original idea she had was just this side of genius. It probably needed to be done years ago and it looks gorgeous. It most likely added thousands of dollars to the value of our property. So here's the truth boys. EVERYTHING that's nice and functioning perfectly in our lives and homes, we owe exclusively to our wives or our better halves, more accurately.

So ever since the caveman days, us men went out pounding our chest, killing everything that moved, dragged the bloody meat back to the cave thinking we were the bosses and higher beings, when the truth is and was then that it was our women who actually made life great for everyone. So grunt and yell all you want. The only person your impressing is yourselves.

God, all of this is so hard for us men to admit, soooooooooooooo hard.

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