Day 304 of the Calendar Year

Keeping track of time! The concept of tracking time brings forth images of tracking some wild beast in the woods. Deer, moose, bear, cougars, tigers all leave very distinctive tracks. Time also leaves distinctive tracts. Time leaves physical as well as emotional tracks on all of us. Not to mention the tracks time leaves on the environment. Emotional tracks are evident in the greater cautiousness and fears we have as we age. From experience, once burned, we no longer want to get so close to the flame. Indeed, many of us will not even go near the fire again. Divorce, rejection, death, pain all leave emotional scars. For some of us they may never quite heal. Physical tracks show up as lines, creases, joint aches, hair thinning, broken bones and disease. I often joke that physically I am aging more like cheese then a fine wine. I am getting squishier and somewhat moldy around the edges.

Perhaps you see the ideas of tracking time through a different lens. Maybe you think of the need to track your minutes and seconds each day, a twist on tracking your dollars and cents. Certainly, if you watch your time carefully, you will have more of it. Mark down your time spent each day in an Excel spreadsheet and carefully log your corresponding activities. This last task seems somewhat obsessive to me and I am often accused of being a Type A personality. I once worked at a job where I was required to mark my work in fifteen minute intervals each day and log what I was doing during each interval. After I left this company, I decided I would never work for anyone again where I had to justify myself at this level of detail. It was simply an exercise in obsessive control and domination.

Type A personalities are supposed to be more compulsive and more aggressive than Type B personalities. I wonder if type A personalities are more prone to track their time? Are Type B personalities more prone to go with the flow? Do Type B people live more moment to moment? Are you a Type A or Type B personality? Do you go with the flow or do you track your time? Regarding the physical and emotional tracks that time leaves, how have you fared? What emotional tracks has time left in your life? What physical tracks do you see time making for you?

Day 303 of the Calendar Year

Times Square! It is one of the most famous places in the world. Maybe even the center of the universe. If you have ever stood at Times Square and watched the electronic lights flashing, the huge illuminated advertisements, the people from all the countries in the world passing on the streets, the vendors selling glamour and luxury, you will know you are at the center of Capitalism for the universe. Other places have their special qualities, but there is something about Times Square that fits directly in with our modern materialistic lifestyle.

The history of Times Square and how it got its name is as follows: “In the early 1900s The New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs moved the paper’s operations to a new tower, now called One Times Square, on 42nd Street in the middle of the area known as Longacre Square. Ochs persuaded Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. to build a subway station there and rename it Times Square” (Wikipedia). While it owes its name to the NY Times newspaper, indirectly, it has its own history and links to the time. Each year, millions of people mark the passing of the year in Times Square by watching the illuminated ball drop from the tower. The countdown and dropping of the ball is noted all over the world as each country and state celebrate their own New Year festivities. Hundreds of thousands of people will assemble in Times Square to stand shoulder to shoulder with others just to watch this ball drop and yell “Happy New Year.” It is an event to attend and it only happens once each year. Have you ever been to Times Square? Have you ever thought of going there on New Year’s Eve? Why do you think so many people flock to Times Square on New Years Eve? What images does Times Square bring to your mind?

Day 302 of the Calendar Year

The phrase “hard times” reminds us of those days when things really were tough. They might have been when we had no money, no place to live, no one who cared about us, or when we faced all of the problems of the world alone. Studs Terkel interviewed hundreds of people for his book “Hard Times”, which told the story of the Great Depression through the words of the people who actually lived it. Many people still remember the Great Depression when unemployment rates soared to thirty percent and higher. It affected people not only in the US but in many other countries as well.

Ironically and tragically, some people today still live no better than many did in the Great Depression. The world is full of areas where poverty and unemployment are rife and where “hard times” are the norm. When we think of the hard times in our life, we appreciate more where we are now and what we have now. This is a good thing. However, how often do we think of the hard times in the lives of others? What does the phrase “hard times” mean to people who live where there is no medical care or where starvation and disease still kill thousands?

It is fashionable today to believe that: “They just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. If only they had our work ethic or were more like us, they could have what we have. They could live the good life.” This logic assumes that all things in the world are equal and that all circumstances are equal. It does not take much research or knowledge to realize that this is not true. People do not always bring their hard times on by ignorance or sloth. We cannot always control the world and events around us. Remember the quote by Rudyard Kipling “There but for the grace of God go I.” Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew, Chapter 5-7). He did not say “blessed are the hard-hearted, or blessed are those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, or blessed are those who have the most.” Funny, how many of us can forget the help we needed or wanted when hard times were upon us. Can you find some way to share your good fortune today with others? What can you do today to take some hard times away from someone else? Be grateful for what you have today and see if you can share some of your good feelings and benefits with others.

Day 301 of the Calendar Year

A three ring circus! The phase usually means something that is wild, crazy, chaotic, and unpredictable. In a three ring circus, you have multiple acts and performances going on at the same time. Today we often hear talk about multi-tasking, but circuses have been multi-tasking long before the word was even in use. Have you ever thought about the planning and coordination that must go into a circus? You can have clowns, acrobats, lion tamers, horses, dogs and jugglers all performing at the same time. Not an easy production to manage! When we think about the fast paced life that many of us live, it cannot compare to a circus.

Well, maybe our lives feel like a circus at times, but most of us are probably not quite at their level of complexity, not to mention risk taking. Lion tamers, acrobats, trapeze artists are all risking their lives each time they get in a ring. For many people, circuses seem exotic and exciting. Kids once dreamed of leaving home and joining a circus. Many movies have been made about circus life and the romance and drama amidst the big top. Compare your life to a circus. Are you the ringmaster, a high wire artist, a clown or one of the support people that make the circus work behind the scenes? What part of the circus life do you live? Is your life filled with exciting drama, risk-taking, death defying stunts or mostly the daily chores of watering the elephants and camels? For some of us, life may be picking up the poop behind the horses. Real life is not always exciting and glamorous. What part of a circus would you add to your life if you could? What gets in the way? Have you ever thought of running away and joining a circus? What stopped you?

Day 300 of the Calendar Year

A Federal Holiday! What another one! I have a sister who works for the Social Security Administration. It seems as though every time I call her, they are having some kind of a holiday. I suppose government employees have to get some perks since they are generally lower paid than the private sector. Nevertheless, it is an endless source of fun to tease my sister about her many days off. We all like to get holidays, but the government seems to celebrate some dubious events. On the other hand, maybe the private sector should be more like the government and give us more special days off. Here are my suggestions for some extra holidays. We should all get our birthdays off, anniversaries off, voting day off and “Nice Days” off. (Nice Days off is when it is sunny and warmer than 85 degrees out. These holidays would only apply to those of us who live in Minnesota or really cold weather states. Those of you who live in California, Arizona or Florida, do not need extra weather days off. You should be grateful you do not get ice and snow storms.)

What other days do you think we should have off? Do you think we could get enough people together to start a referendum on new holidays? Do you think 40 or 45 holidays a year would be too much? What do you think about those who live in Europe and get more time off than those of us who live in the US? Do you think that’s fair? What about some “global” holidays? With all of this talk about globalization, do you think we should have some “global” holidays? Can you think of some days which could be global holidays? How about Earth Day or Peace Day or United Sports day?

Day 299 of the Calendar Year

Have you ever heard the term “Roman Holiday?” Do you know what it means? defines it as: “An event or occasion when pleasure is taken from the suffering of others. Etymology: so called because days of gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome were public holidays.” Does this definition surprise you? Did you think the phrase had a more benign meaning? Perhaps, you thought it meant something like having fun in Rome while on vacation. Well, in one sense, it does, but the “fun” came at the death and suffering of others. Do we still take Roman Holidays? Some people might say boxing, football and many contact sports are enjoyed more for their violent elements than for the athletic prowess they display. Nevertheless, while we might enjoy these sports, it does not mean that we enjoy the suffering of others.

We may in fact enjoy violence, but I draw the line at thinking that many of us really go to events to see people hurt or suffer. In fact, I have a hard time understanding how even the ancient Roman citizens could have been so callous and insensitive. Perhaps, we would have to live in that era to understand why a Roman holiday would have been fun. Today, I think there is a greater sensitivity and awareness of obvious cruelty. Even in contact sports, I see little evidence of a Roman holiday. Has the world really grown and become more caring or do I have my rose colored glasses on? Are we less likely to go on a Roman holiday? Do you want to see anyone hurt or get any pleasure from the suffering of others? Do you secretly hope to see a crash during a NASCAR race or do you want to see the acrobat fall during the high wire act at the circus? I will bet not. Why would you or anyone else want to see someone hurt?

Day 298 of the Calendar Year

What was the happiest day of your life? It is a lot more pleasurable to think about the happy times in our lives. However, finding the happiest of the happy may not be so easy. The bad times seem to be etched in our minds, but how quickly we forget the happy times! Taking a journey through my past to answer this question, my mind sorts through weddings, vacations, love affairs, graduations, diplomas, certificates, first kisses, jobs, sporting events and sundry other activities and accomplishments. Somewhat surprisingly, I cannot fasten upon any of these as the “happiest day of my life.” Why is this? Am I looking in the wrong places? What about those book contracts, those great pay increases, and those unexpected financial windfalls? None of these seem to do the trick either! What about those great people I have met in my life? Did they help me to have the happiest day of my life? I must answer no to both of these questions.

So where then is the happiest day of my life? Why is it so elusive? Have you thought of your happiest day yet? What made it your happiest day? Was it easy to remember? Did you find it had much competition? Or perhaps, you are like me, unable to think of the happiest day in your life? Maybe, the happiest day of our lives are still to come and we are just waiting for it? On the other hand, maybe yesterday was the happiest day of our lives and we just did not realize it. Are you happiest when you simply live one day at a time and are thankful for the day you live? I think that each day that I can appreciate the smell of fresh air, the joy of a loving spouse, a good job to go to and excellent health is surely the happiest day of my life.

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