Upham's Corner Online

Thoughts and Words of the Day

Posted: Nancy J Conrad

"I never saw a discontented tree - John Muir"
Yesterday and Tomorrow live right next door.
Try to live simply.
Make yourself necessary to someone - Volunteer.
We welcome you because we welcome everyone.

"I never saw a discontented tree - John Muir"

Wingless trees, unable to move, are rooted in place for a lifetime.  Be they short and scrubby, or stout with a heady crown or straight and narrow like a piercing arrow, they hold firm to their place on earth. 

John Muir said, "I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it."

If trees could talk, would they speak of travel?  Or would they speak about what they know - the world around them?  Or maybe each tree knows that it is rooted and grounded in something bigger.  Maybe, just maybe it travels in dreams.

We humans think of ourselves as "going somewhere."  Ambulation is a necessary part of existence - helping our brains to form in the earliest months of life.  Yet each one of us has been given one soul, one spirit - a unique purpose in life not unlike the place of trees. 

I stand my ground and know who I am, or do I?  Did I forget my place in life, my community and the world that surrounds me and substitute, instead, a world of travel in my dreams?

Or is it my dream to disrobe and discard the trappings of the life I have invented, standing tall like a tree in the forest and the fields? 

I feel the wind whipping my hair and the rain cleansing my body.  I feel the shoots of new life becoming seeds that burst and get carried away.  In the mouths of insects and animals and in the arms of the mighty wind, the seeds of my existence journey after me. 

I give thanks to where I stand.  I give thanks to my community.  I give thanks to the hope that rests eternal in the life around me. 

I am not a discontented tree.

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Yesterday and Tomorrow live right next door

The original expression from Al Lowe's Humor Site was this:

In just two days, Tomorrow will be Yesterday.

In this original version it is time that is the contrasting parameter.  All you have to do is look ahead two days and where you are right now will have become only a memory, if that.

Another way to think about the relationship between Yesterday and Tomorrow is to imagine three houses in a row.  Doesn't even matter if they look alike because it's so easy to get them mixed up.

Today is where we live, or so it says on the driver's license.  On our way home, the three houses are not clearly visible - no signs or addresses  distinguishing one from the other. Yet, we always manage to get "home."  One house is always inviting.  The stairs climb easily and the key fits.  "Yep, that's it.  I'm home." 

Going home to Today is fraught with responsibilities.  Living in the Now is not easy.  You have to drop the dependencies on people and relationships, drop the need for ego to rise above everyone else, disrobe from props and expectations, walk almost naked into a room of shining mirrors.  Well, that doesn't feel good.

Yesterday is comfortable and familiar - a really nice place to live.  We invite our friends over for conversation all the time.  Memories create an almost magnetic attraction to the past and that is where we go home - to Yesterday.

And Tomorrow?  Do we ever think about the other house next door, the one we keep meaning to visit, the one we plan to move into because we know it is better?  One day, when the angle of the sun was just right, "I know I saw a beautiful green lawn over there - luscious, verdant, not a weed in sight, soft like Kentucky Blue under my shoeless feet."

John Larkin is an obsessive artist who relates to the world through his art.  A stroke left him without much left brain, the part that keeps track of memories that dampen the "newness" of life.  After all, I don't need to feel alienated every time I walk out the door, or look in the fridge and see a carton of milk.  For John life is new every single day and every single thing in it (almost). 

Filing away the newness and being able to recall its memory to dampen the depth of sensory overload is automatic for most of us.  Yet it is through this very filtering that we become lulled into seeing life without its freshness, living at the address we call Yesterday. 

In the somewhat jarring and unexpected world of Today and Now lie the opportunities for fully expressing ourselves. Without expectations of others, we can be asked interesting questions:  "How could you ask that question?  You know I (all about me)..." which is the chain that binds me and thee.  Dropping the expectations, assumptions and opinions, the history of what went wrong and what we expect to happen again - that allows us to greet each other anew.

So when I go home tonight, I'm going to look up and take stock.  Did I really make it to the right house?  Have I dropped the swirling memories and emotions that cloud my ability to greet my home?  Yes, I know - I have already seen what's inside a thousand times.  Isn't it better to ignore the familiar and get on with life? 

It is in seeing the freshness of life that we water the seeds of hope, vitality and gratitude.  It doesn't take long to water the seeds  and then get on with life.  Open the door, open the eyes, take a deep breath and say: YES!

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Try to live simply.

We are born naked but our social structure, family goals and necessity draw "things" to us as if we were magnets.  Time passes and we move closer to the end of the journey.  By the time we bid adieu, we have forgotten to wean ourselves down to the bare necessities.  We leave behind sadness, tears, pretend joy, memories and lots and lots of stuff. 

Think of this:  Animals in the wild leave behind their droppings so that beetles, other insects and molds have food.  Nothing goes to waste. 

A man from the brown house with the very tall fence on Norfolk Ave was just ahead with his bicycle.  He was doing his best to stuff some factory made object into a comparatively tiny basket.  As we grew closer, he seemed to feel a need to explain himself.  In less than 60 seconds we knew where he lived, what he did with what he found and how he made money.  He told us how many vacuum cleaners and other motor driven objects are tossed because they are clogged or dirty or one tiny part needs replacing. 

Pass it on but don't create trash.  Whatever you do (close to impossible), try to recycle.  Make it a practice early in life.

Is it useful?  Is it beautiful?  Does it have current meaning?  Can you play with it?  If not, maybe give it away.

Clothing, books, periodicals, dishes and cooking ware, pots and pans, tires, old cans of paint, toys, furniture, car parts, tools.  When was the last time you used it? 

Enter a space (room) in your home with thanksgiving for life, only life, not things.  Imagine it is empty.  Now what would you put back? 

Pass it on with love.  Don't think of it as TRASH or you will put it there.  Know that someone else will be adopting it and caring for it.  If you can't give it away, sell it.  Have fun slimming down.  Remember the goal:  Live simply.

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Make yourself necessary to someone - Volunteer.

Giving of ourselves touches our soul - our spirit - our inner core where lie our deepest emotions - where tears, joy and humility intersect.

It's so easy to veg-out at the end of the day.  It's so easy to bathe deeply in the fragrance of overwork that makes us feel like we are on the road to success.  It's so easy to draw the blinds and lock the world out.

Oh, oh.  Another sales pitch:  "Why I should volunteer!"

Turn it around and think:  "How I can be healed."

Within each of us are emotional wounds that fester and gnaw and make some of us moody.  They never go away and they alter how we make our way through life.  Our wounds are nameless, faceless - "Something - something inside, but I don't know what."

Looking for the "dark shadows" within us doesn't work.  Emotional pain is like a straightjacket.  Can't move, can't think, can't function and after awhile we give up. 

But tapping into the reserve of our humanity, unleashing the life energy that can rise above emotional pain, that is what has the power to transform us.  Helping others is cleansing, nurturing and healing. 

Teaching a child or adult learner, painting a wall, loading a truck with food, reading a story, singing a song and entertaining others - you will come away sensing that you have made a difference in the world.  You have.  You have also made a difference in your own life.

How much time do you have? An hour, two, maybe more?  Do you like working alone or with others?  What do you like doing?  Cleaning, teaching, repairing, helping, driving, construction, writing, playing music? 

Think of this:  Close your eyes and reach out - extend your hand, your mind, your energy.  How did it feel?  Whose life did you touch?  Remember that by offering a helping hand, it is you who are being blessed.

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We welcome you because we welcome everyone.

It's not that you are important that I welcome you.  It's not that you are next in line that I welcome you.  I welcome you because I welcome everyone.  I look out towards the crowd and imagine there is joy and love in my heart for every person I see. 

No!  Not imagine.  I feel, truly feel welcoming.

This is a tough assignment.  The alcoholic panhandling on the street, or washing my car window without permission, making me feel guity for saying no, the car that just cut me off, the people that keep ignoring me no matter how hard I try to catch their attention. . .

How is it possible to welcome everyone when deep down inside, I don't feel that way?  I am angry, annoyed, hurt, in pain, jealous, desperate for attention.  What I easily forget is that in the big scheme of life, these problems do not really exist.  They are all made up. 

What really counts in life is purpose or spirit or relationship with our maker.  When I wake up to greet a new day, when I revisit my (spiritual) purpose on this earth, I can feel myself renewed, as if lifted far above "the maddening crowd." 

Emotional engagements are tricks and deceptions that keep us tied into petty squabbles that waste energy and deviate us from our true path.  Not that life is simple.  To the panhandler who insists on washing my car window when I don't want it, I fall easily into the anger trap.  Same with getting cut off or ignored.

Here's a different approach.  Break the ties that bind us into servitude.  Walk freely through life with love.

To the window washer who just washed my car window, I can choose to freely say "Thank you" and drive on.  To the person who cut me off, I can blow a kiss and realize that I was just "rescued" from a mishap that was going to occur had I not been cut off.  To the people who ignore me, I can realize that my path is intended elsewhere.

Free of the ropes of engagement, I am not bound to expectations that disappoint.  Instead I am filled with the joy of life. To everyone I say: "Stop by anytime.  I welcome you because I welcome everyone."

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