Thursday, November 10, 2016

Amendment to Reconciliation

Relationships of any kind seem to be topics of much interest everywhere. From youth groups to water cooler gossip to Trump's accolades. A facet of relationships that I'd like to address today is:

The Apology

I'm sure you've read various articles, or books, or what not about what an apology should look like and what it doesn't. But if you haven't, here is an example:

You bump into another person at Taco Bell, and they spill their tray of a burrito and fries and utensils.

1) Uses words like, "I'm sorry," "I apologize" - people don't like to use these terms for whatever personal reasons, but without them, it's really not an apology, it's more of a sweeping under the rug. (for example, some people will say, "excuse me" but never use the words, "I'm sorry."

2) It takes responsibility : I hit you. (have you have someone apologize to you for your action?)

3) Is specific to the action of the one apologizing, whether it's an outward expression (I'm sorry I bumped you), or an an attitude or sentiment (I'm sorry I misjudged you ...)

4) It expresses remorse, not merely for the situation (I'm sorry you dropped your tray, that is commiseration, not the same thing as an apology), but for the contribution to it by the one apologizing. (I'm sorry I bumped into you, I wasn't looking.).

5) It does not seek self-justification or make excuses (that is the prerogative of the one offended). Here is an example of justification: I'm sorry I bumped into you, but I'm just a klutz all the time.

6) It does not place the blame on others (I'm sorry I bumped into you, but if you had watched your step .... it's really the equivalent of : I'm sorry I raped you, but you were dressed that way).

7) It is considerate of the other person: I'm sorry I bumped into, are you hurt?

8) It seeks assistance. Instead of sitting from the sideline watching the other person:   I'm sorry I bumped into you. Let me help pick up that mess

9) It seeks equivalent reparation (not excessive):  Let me buy you another burrito and fries. OR Let me get you some utensils (if the burrito is still viable).

10) It reiterates sincerity: Ok, there are more utensils, I'm really sorry for disrupting your dinner (or some similar sentiment).

That's just a quick summary off the top of my head and it can stand to be elaborated on.

So now you know. But here's the kicker ... not everyone does, and they might not have been brought up as gentile or well-mannered as you. Or they might not have subscribed to this blog (how could that be?!) Or a variety of various reasons, they did not  or could not do all 9 items listed.  But now that you're aware of it, you can't (unfortunately) force other people to be aware of it. You just have to give an example of it to others.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Letters, words, sentences, processes, ideas.

They are really just analogies to ideas. Something as simply as A, B, C, D. We learn their order by a simple song, if only to know who they are and what they kind of do. But then we add order.

We take I, L, P, S and arrange them to make words. SLIP, LIPS, LISP. Words that represent objects. Or actions. But then it gets better. We take a collection of words, and add some order, and we get sentences. Declarations of what is happening, what we plan to do, things we like or thoughts we have. But often this is where it stops. But for more added fun we really should go one.

We can take these declarations (or some cases imperatives or interrogations), and arrange them. In order. And place them beside each other, and we get processes. Like making soup or fixing a bench. Or processes of thought. How we reason through things in our mind.  How we think.

And then we take these declarations of how things are: The room is painted white.

We add other ordered letters in ordered sentences, and add more sentences, and then we arrive at a process for something we want to do, or fix, or wish for :

The room is white.
We can drive to Home Depot.
We should look for some orange paint, with brushes.
They will ask us to pay some money.
We can paint the walls orange.

But not just every days ideas. We can have grand ideas. Of things we long for, of the way we wish things would be. Or ideas that change the minds of others, or declare a general consensus (i.e. we will all take our shoes off in the house). Or legislation.

Yet, what it takes is a mere consensus: the agreement to use the 26 letters we learned to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". An agreement has to be made on the most fundamental of level (letters) and the order by which they are arranged. If we want to speak coherently with one another, we agreed to use these letters and use them in the order we both agree on, and to share those ideas in the syntax we agree on. Without this agreement we end up sounding like Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid, who speaks like Yoda, from  Russia.

But if we do agree on those three things, then we can share, not only duties, but ideas and emotions. By this sharing we can have an intimacy that we would not have known without:

I like you. I have an idea that I want your opinion on.

To be sure, this agreement is not necessary in order to share want to eat or what we want to do for the afternoon (try preparing a meal with a friend without vocal or written or signed words, it can be done). But it is with words that the mind and the heart are not only connected but solidified. It is with words that a bridge of the thoughts and feelings are shared, and if agreed upon, unity is built. And strengthened.

Words are the connecting bridge of ideas, and our actions are the outward manifestations of those ideas. It is impossible to act without an idea to give it volition. (If actions do occur without it, they are called seizures or involuntary tremors).

With this idea in mind, we can see by analogy, how things like creativity and innovation grows, and how the spirituality increases, in particular, the Christian walk. But we'll leave that for a future post.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Reads like a novel

I enjoy and gravitate to well written stories of modern day issues.  With a title that references those who have sought to produce gold out of common tin, Irwin walks the reader through the current financial situation we find ourselves in today as a national and consequently world economy that is intricately intertwined. While explaining enough finance to help the reader understand, I am only a third of the way through and it reads with the gripping excitement of a suspense novel but with the complexity that can only come from real life.

The gripping pit in my stomach came as I recalled where I was, at least in the month, at the beginning of the downturn occurred in Aug of 2007 and because I have friends and family who have been affected by the "market correction" that hasn't shown light at the end of its dark tunnel.

As the story unfolds, unlike any work of fiction, the reader can find themselves within the pages of this book with an involvement that they had not realized before.

The book is enlightening to say the least.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cello Musings

Even as an inexperienced cellist, it seems like when making music on my cello, I am having a conversation with 4 friends of differing but agreeable personalities. The sanguine and gregarious A string, to the melancholy C string, with the thoughtful G string, and impish D string, all speaking in turn, as it were, around a table over a meal.

A friend and cellist whom I respect for his musicality, and thoughtful conversation, John Howe, described it as "an old friend" one time a while back when the topic came up of his current cello. At the time, I had no idea of the individuality of each, even at the lower price range. I suppose this should have been expected, since each is made from specific kinds of chosen wood. The organic nature of wood is such that even when shaped the same, there are individual differences in appearance, density, response that make each cello unique.

What has surprised me is the meditative nature of the endeavor. Playing, practicing, even tuning. It's almost as if a quiet discussion is being had between the wood and me. And the same way as if meeting an old friend over a relaxed Sunday brunch in a New England summer morning. Talk can flow and move over sundry topics of varying levels of depth and consequence. But more often than not, because of the friend, words are spoken that resonate within and find an expression without. The wood vibrates in response to the string, and a ringing is heard, unmistakable and without imitation. The relaxed but deliberate posture, the movement and motion of the whole organism, cello and human, these contribute to an experience unlike those described in other spiritual exercises.

Many of the movements are foreign, to be sure, but with familiar of anything comes a relaxed confidence with reduced effort. Bow pressure as well as fingers on the ebony fingerboard are coming with less struggle as well. Many hours still to go, but the enjoyment is palpable nonetheless. Not with any other instrument have I enjoyed the effort of learning like this. This may have more to do with the stage in life I am at or deliberate interaction with the instrument, but whatever the reason, it seems able to provide the excitement of immediate gratification as well as the satisfaction that it can only get better. I do not feel like I have to go through a breaking in session before the pleasure begins.

The final idea I want to address in this entry is one that I have considered important in my own life, but has surprised me to the extent in which it reaches. Satisfaction increases in my own mind when I can be of useful service. Music has proved to be more than a passing hobby or light amusement, but has provided a usefulness that I would never have foreseen when I first started piano lessons. Playing cello with some of kids at church not only builds rapport but confidence and enjoyment. Nursing homes and worship services enhanced. I had no idea I could be allowed to give to my community in this way. This has been quite a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Walla Walla Valley

Farm house in the Walla Walla Valley. Behind are the Blue Mountains.

Facing west to the setting sun, the Walla Walla Valley is comprised of farmland and more recently vineyards.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

... yet will I trust Him ...

The second remarkable thing one may notice when meeting Caitlin is her concern for others in the middle of her own affliction. Kind of Job-like. Yes, the one in the Bible. I say second because it was some time after I noticed her extremely well-shaped head and figure, with lines that were asking to be photographed, that I asked if she would be willing to sit for a photo shoot. It was then I had a chance to talk to her and in between shutter clicks, her trust in God and concern for others beyond her own condition, quickly eclipsed her comely appearance. Please drop by her blog where several snippets of her story she writes with more eloquence than I can do justice:

Caitlin was kind and gracious in response to my request, and easily pleasant to speak with. Her story she told in a manner that was matter-of-fact, almost as if she was talking about the weather outside on a walk to the mailbox. If you can imagine, her voice in melody is hauntingly wonderful, as any I have ever heard, yes, even those that I have paid large amounts of money for. If you ever get a chance, please sit down and talk with her. Listen to her speak of God and His care for her, her friends, and her life. Your spirits will be encouraged, and your situation will appear simple and little. And if the stars align and you ever get to hear her sing a cappella, you might want to remind yourself to breathe and pick your jaw up off the floor. And when you're done with the visit, you might wonder if you just walked by a south facing window in an otherwise dark tunnel; the light shining from it makes the rest of the tunnel a little easier to see.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunset at Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine


Acadia National Park is a remarkable place up in the Northern New England Region. I had the opportunity to bring my parent's there yesterday for Sabbath. They are visiting from Southern California, and drove more than 3200 miles. I was happy we had a good showing. My mom doesn't have the reputation for being a hiker by any stretch of the imagination, but decided it was fine walking around the rocks at the top of Cadillac Mountain. Arguably the highest, Eastern most point in the United States (those who argue say Puerto Rico is ... uh, ok.), it is rumored that if you sit at its peak and await the sunrise, you'll be the first American living in the U.S. to be kissed by the rays of the sun. I'd like to try it some time.

In the mean time, we took the driving tour (we only had a Sabbath afternoon), and my parent's learned the beauty of Vacationland, and "the way life should be." We couldn't watch the sunrise, but they were game enough to sit around during my intervalometric shenanigans (I used a stop-watch and released the shutter on my old 5D every 30 seconds, then put it together on my computer), while I captured the sunset. We closed the Sabbath, then off to home.