You Only Get One Life

When I was  young, the manipulation of some of the adults around me caused me to decide that once they didn’t have control anymore I would make my choices, and I’d make them count. In that thought process somewhere came the knowledge that there is some finite number of choices in each life. As I began to make them, I realized that each choice narrowed the choices that followed it, for the most part, unless I wanted to start completely over. Once or twice I did. But for the most part, the choices were set in concrete. Life, unlike television, has very little channel changing.

So what? So, live. Start right off. The earlier you start, the more choices you get. Don’t wait for someone to come along with the answers. The only place you’ll find answers is the Bible, or your holy book of choice, but even there  you have to apply them to your life. Even people, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, etc. don’t have the answers for YOUR life. They may have advice, but you have the choice.

You  strike out and start a course. Find out what you’re good at, what you enjoy, who you were meant to come alongside, etc. If you head a direction that doesn’t fit, learn from it. Make a course correction. But, for cryin’ out loud, don’t just sit there. Or worse, let the winds blow you here and there, and never set a course at all.

Early on, you  make choices about the meaning of life. Why are you here? What are you here for? What’s your value? These are the ones that narrow your following choices. For example, if I believe there’s no god, I  and my world got here by chance, then I don’t need to obey much of anything. What’s the point? When I make a choice that crosses someone else’s choice, though, the law of the land will narrow my future choices.  On the other hand, if I believe there’s a god, how that affects my choices is going to have a lot to do with whether that God is involved in people’s lives, in fact loves us, or whether he spun things off and went off to do his own thing, or maybe doesn’t really care for us and gets a kick out of the times we go to war, hurt each other, or suffer in other ways.

For me, making my choices count meant to make the world better somehow. I tried the welfare department first. I found it doesn’t make the world better. It maintains the status quo. I tried public relations, helping people put their best foot forward. That was a step better than the welfare department, but just barely. When I came to teaching, which was one of those times I completely started over, I found a place to make the world better. At least on most days.

A choice that’s set in concrete is the one to become a parent. Once you’re pregnant, you’re going to deliver, unless you kill your kid. That choice changes life, don’t let anyone fool you. We all know there are parents, and there are parents. I’ve found that my  definition of love guides my parenting. If love is making sure my kids get everything I wanted but didn’t get, parenting looks one way. If love is grace tempered with truth and truth tempered with grace, then parenting looks completely different. If love is hovering over a child to prevent the natural falls of life and their consequences, parenting looks one way. If love is slowly opening one’s hand over the years, letting children learn from consequences, until they can fly on their own, and have been guided to consider their own choices, parenting is a whole different ballgame.

Jesus told a story about two guys building houses. One put his back into it. He dug down to bedrock and put a firm foundation under his house. The other wasn’t thinking about what might happen next, he chose to build his house in the sand where he stood. When storms came, the house on bedrock stood. The house in the sand was obliterated. His story is a picture of life. He was saying we should do our homework, especially about spiritual matters, like whether He is God. If He’s God, the bedrock, do I build my life on Him? That’s the most crucial choice we’ll ever make. And it’s best if we make it before the storms start.

Breathing

Now that I’m retired, I have more time to consider things.

For example, Bake and I went on a cruise up Elkhorn Slough, down by Moss Landing the other day. We saw a lot of sea lions and otters and shore birds, even an egg yolk jelly fish. But my big takeaway was something the captain told us. He said, ” People think of the tide as either in or out, but it doesn’t really work that way. It’s in constant motion, either rising or declining.”

I nudged Bake. “So the tide is like the earth breathing, right?”

“Exactly.”

Well , that is a thought to ponder all by itself. However, today is Monday. Yesterday was church, and I had slides. Busy, busy, busy. Love it! Worshipping with and serving God’s people.

Today, I’m not looking for anyone to hang around with. I like catching things up around our acre (Baker’s acre, get it?). The weekend kind of throws me off schedule. I groomed the dog, fed the chickens and cleaned their house, cleaned up the kitchen, got the house ready for the Roomba (do I love multi-tasking, oh yeah!) Two parenthetial statements in one paragraph is a bad idea. I do know that. Anyhow, in the midst it occurred to me that I don’t need to see any people today, well, except Bake, who doesn’t really count, being my other half. More breathing.

So I posted something to that effect on Facebook. Sure enough, other people feel the same way. Some even more than I do. I would be ok with seeing people tomorrow, some people could give it another day. Breathing – people, no people, people, no people.

Now, I realize that not everyone gets the luxury of breathing that way. Take parents, therapists, teachers for example. I am truly blessed to be retired. However, since I have had time to realize this, please feel free to steal it. If you are one of those folks who don’t usually get to choose solitude, when you do, go for it, take a deep breath.

Lifelong Learning

Have you noticed that there are some things you learn over and over again? Instantly, your mind went to how to work the technological marvel that is now television, or the personal computer, right? That’s not exactly what I had in mind. It’s not how many times your spouse tells you the same thing they said they told you before, either. (Though it’s possible they never told you at all, just sayin’.)  It’s more about principles of living. Please apply this to wherever you get your principles of living from. I get mine from the Bible. It knocks me out how I can read a passage I’ve read before, and realize I don’t remember ever reading this. Some people say this is because I’m in a different stage of life when I read it today than I was when I read it the last time. The idea being that I’m applying what I’m reading differently. Perhaps. Some say I’ve read so much in the in between time, that it just slipped my mind. I guess. What sort of knocks me out, though, is that often, when I come to something again, it simplifies the complication of my life. For example, I tend to get all weirded out about whether I’m a rule follower, the kind of person who does stuff to get God’s approval instead of doing stuff based on following what He tells us to do. Then I come to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Simple, if I’m loving, I’m good. It’s lifelong learning because I have to keep reminding myself. Could be worse, though, reminding myself to love is simple and grand.

I Wish to Ramble

Sometimes before I can write, I have to get the cobwebs out. That’s actually what I started this blog for. So here it is Saturday morning, a whole weekend before me. I’ve already gotten the dishes and a load of wash out of the way. The dog is fed and I took some stuff out to the composter, checked the weather – windy and cool. I’m looking around me at the horse picture above my desk and the sea otters on top of it. (Next book.) The sun is streaming in the window over new African violets one of my kids at school gave me for Valentine’s Day. A so much better gift than chocolates. I love this room. I used to be in a nearless sunless room to write, not good. This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I will also do my best not to waste the minutes. I believe the cobwebs are leaving, and I’ll see you later. Have a great weekend.