Be Bright and Be Bold

It’s tough to be a flower in her garden. For years we’ve had little rain, and yet the human walks past, muttering, oh right I meant to water you. Too bad I’m running late. Fortunately, Darwin was right and those of us who survive are remarkable specimens.

I am the only poppy of my kind:

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I won’t get much time in the sun so I make the most of it:
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I’m proud to be a native flower. Some of us thrive in the company of kindred spirits:
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But even those of us who must solo reach tall, however grey the day:
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Be bright and be bold, my friends!

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Vivid.)


An Eavesdropper’s Guide to Compassion

Acquire more compassion. That is one of my top personal goals: to appreciate what another person is going through without the weight of pity or guilt. Or discomfort. Or disdain. I’d like to think I’m making progress but mostly I’m just aware of all the other reactions that sully the compassion. I want compassion unencumbered by other emotions. But perhaps single, pure reactions are not the way humans respond.

The other morning outside Starbuck’s, a youngish man was talking to himself. There is something distinctive about self-talk, you hear it and you know he’s not talking to a person or into a device. He walked rapidly without purpose, ricocheting from spot to spot. He had shoes cradled in his arms, but only socks on his feet. When he entered Starbucks, most everybody acted like he wasn’t there, but stiffened and you knew they knew. Fresh back from a week in Manhattan, I was skilled at ignoring him. He stood behind me in line for a while, muttering and rapping. He came up with some spectacular rhymes, and sounded surprised when his words fell into place. He was impossibly high, on what I dunno. I couldn’t tell whether he was having a good trip.

After he left, a woman in line had a mom moment and expressed concern about his heading toward traffic. I looked out at him and for the first time saw somebody’s son. Suddenly I felt like a crumb for not reaching out to him, maybe getting him to sit down for a spell. Without provocation, he sprinted up the street and away. The woman kept talking about him to all the workers and now it seemed like there was gossip in her caring, which disappointed me. The workers told her that cops had earlier been out to chat with him. I had happened into one short piece of a recurring cycle.

The other night on the subway I sat next to a pair who must have been friends, maybe mid-20s in age. The guy said to the gal, “Have you seen Brian lately? I really don’t like him anymore, he has turned into such a loser. All he wants to do is sit around at home.” (GIrl murmurs unconvinced noises.) “Shelly saw him in New York. He flew out there for an interview with a director about a big part.” (Tone of voice conveys jealousy and frustration – apparently Brian blew the opportunity.) “Shelly thought the same thing. He’s acting like a loser. You know his dad tried to kill himself last year.” (Not clear whether this is offered as an attempt to understand, or further proof of what a loser Brian is.)

By now I hate this guy and wish Brian had better friends. Later I bring myself around to thinking about the life experiences that shaped this guy and prevent him from perceiving that Brian’s behavior could reflect emotional devastation. I remember my 20s as a time of cavalier disregard for so many others. Maybe he’ll grow out of it. I’m pretty sure that I finally have, although disdain still comes way too easily to me.

Wisdom From An Unexpected Corner

I’m moving like a pinball – behind as always getting ready for a week out of town – and thinking about chickens without heads. The last thing I need or intend today is an 11-minute video by some shock-talk comedian.

Cut to: Sue finishes second viewing of the clip and thinks, I need to share this.

Inspiration always trumps packing.

P.S. The clip thinks it is 18 mins long but it is not.

Infinity at the Dude Ranch

370px-InfinityThis is the symbol for infinity, a concept that gives me a headache and makes me feel privileged to be part of the universe. Even at its most routine and mundane, daily life takes place in this astonishing place that must go on forever, else there would be an outer edge with nothing beyond it. (Ow. Headache.) Infinity doesn’t induce headaches in mathematicians, though. Math, for all its rigor and precision, very comfortably accommodates infinity. There are infinities everywhere in math.  An infinite collection of numbers exist between 0 and 1, for example. Also, you can do a calculation and get a result that goes to infinity but you can still know the quantity well enough to engineer a bridge based on that calculation.

370px-InfinityWhen I look at the symbol for infinity I think, what goes around comes around.  I think of the mobius strip. I dwell on karma. So many westerners including me wield the concept of karma as revenge.  You’ll get what you deserve. Lately I’ve been attempting to exercise my very under-used sense of compassion. From this effort I realize that karma, viewed from the perspective of compassion, takes on a very different meaning. We are all in this together. You must face your karma just as I must face mine.

370px-InfinityThis symbol also suggests the Lazy 8 Dude Ranch. When I was a kid my parents took me on a Dude Ranch vacation. So mortifying. I couldn’t control my damn horse. It kept taking me back to the barn. (I never got the horse appreciation thing.) Recalling this, I speculate that perhaps memory loss increases with age because our brains become cluttered with pointless recollections like my dude ranch horse.  And of course, with TV theme songs from the ’60s.

This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.

Do Grown-Ups Get Bored?

Childhood was long ago but I clearly remember the pain and horror of boredom. Nothing to do, no one to play with, can’t go outside, and so forth.

I can’t remember the last time I was bored (except at certain work meetings or airports). Have I learned to embrace the moment and appreciate every day? Or have I dropped my expectations?

I no longer remember boredom but surely I must get bored. Tedious conversations and situations abound. I mean I drive in southern California, people. I must get bored but the boredom is no longer memorable.

Or maybe there’s a guilt component. I can’t be bored, I have too much to do.

Or maybe I remember childhood boredom because it was such a novelty. Maybe nowadays it is my status quo.

Maybe the boredom at work meetings is a key to understanding.  Maybe what underlies boredom are issues of choice and control. Surely I still stream boring movies, start boring books. But – ha and aha – nowadays I don’t have to finish them. And if the opening act is no good I can always go play with my phone  in the lobby.

I don’t seem to be coming to closure on this. How about for you? Are you more bored or less bored than you were 10 years ago? Than you were as a kid?

Albert Camus, Your Listing Agent

A recent bulk mailing from a local realtor provided a gorgeous picture of a stream bank in autumn and a lovely quote, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” The quote is by … Albert Camus.

I’m not in the real estate market but the placard leaves me with many questions.

Who is this realtor? Did he just grab a nature quote at random or was he a philosophy major who now needs to make a living?

What would the famous existentialist think of this? Is he doing a grave roll? Or would he see no difference between a quote to sell real estate and a book to sell course units at a university?

Let me know if you have any answers.