I followed this Blogger’s work for years and now I am following her awesome new Blog –
“So, Here’s The Deal.”
So, here’s the deal… The subject of risk came up in our house the other night. It was stuck within a discussion on vulnerability. (Boy, is that a fraught with fear topic!) As with most weighty topics, it planted like a seed in my brain and has been running around ever since. What are we willing to risk in our lives? What will we do to avoid that risk? Or any risk? What are the “sure things” that populate our days and our brains? And what are the imagined absolutes we’re inclined to place in jeopardy? (Bonus points if you can list the “sure things” in your life.)
If you play the stock market, you take certain financial risks. Hopefully, you go into that with your eyes wide open, having done a little research, and never put more into a purchase than you can afford to completely lose. Over the course of our lives, we have seen some stocks go wildly up that green line and others tank to the point they no longer exist. Such is the name of the game. You have to know exactly what you are willing to risk.
I suppose the same can be said for playing the lottery and going to the casino. We’ve done both. I once won $40 playing the lottery and I admit to occasionally purchasing a PowerBall ticket when the pot is over $100M. We laugh about the $2 we spend as being a risk against our retirement funds. We really aren’t taking much risk on a lottery ticket. Not much at a casino either. We view casinos as “entertainment” and amazing opportunities for “people watching”. The amount we are willing to blow at the casino is strictly an entertainment fee, usually something along the lines of $20 / day. (Of course, we haven’t been to the casino in quite a while, so we might up it to $25, adjusting for inflation.)
Over the course of my parenting life, I’ve taken risks in what to concentrate on and what to let go when raising a child with autism. Looking back over the last 35 years, I think most of those risks have paid off. A few have not, including table manners, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Over the course of my life, I’ve taken risks on clothing and shoe purchases. Some have paid off big time. Some have been huge mistakes that became paint rags and chew toys. Then again, I rarely make risk vs. reward decisions in that department.
Over the course of that same life, I’ve taken those more daring risks when it comes to interpersonal relationships. These may be the most intense risks we can take. Risk, when it comes to relationships, are often weighed based on our experiences and history. We build a metric over time against which we measure almost everything.
Hormones can kick in and blow that whole risk vs reward thing. Your brain is stuck in that reward mode and risk seems impossible to grasp. Of course, if it all blows up in your face, the results go into that experience and history box. Good luck using that information if it all kicks in again.
But sometimes, a person comes along – whether a potential friend or partner – and your risk vs reward meter starts ticking, measuring the possibilities. (That meter is not infallible, but it sure is handy and you should keep it in working order.) And then, you have to decide – leap or not. If you’re of a certain age, failure is certainly an option. If you’re a kid, failure isn’t in your vocabulary.
That risk-o-meter is an interesting gadget running around in your brain somewhere. It leans toward failure and a determination that risk just isn’t worth the potential pain, but somewhere, I hope, in the back of your mind is a little voice that’s whispering, “You might not fall, ya know. You might grab the brass ring and soar!”
It’s a good voice and maybe we should listen to it. (Can’t hurt to pack a parachute either.)
May you fly on wings of eagles!
It wasn’t the Cowardly Lion who said that and we are certainly not in anyone’s Oz. In fact, it seems that we are stuck in an opposite place – “Bitter Reality Land.”
The strange reality of the last month and more has created a new world. I’m not saying that it is one that I enjoy or even understand completely. It is…different – Different in a number of ways that are unfamiliar in my experience and I feel sure is unfamiliar in our collective experience as a nation. It is all rather upsetting. Stores that I like are closed. Restaurants are reduced to drive through lanes and forget it if you need a haircut. And then there are the masks.
“Who was that Masked Man?”
The doors at my bank are locked and you can enter by appointment only. Inside everyone is wearing a mask, including the person who handles mortgages and the like. That masked man is known as The Loan Arranger.
I know that I am not alone when I say that I do not like wearing a mask. I find them uncomfortable and they make my glasses fog up. The Where and When I am supposed to wear such a mask is revealed daily by a variety of contradictory “experts” who can’t seem to agree on anything. They don’t exactly inspire confidence and confidence is what people need right now. I do…and I’m people too. I can prove it. I watched all of Game of Thrones.
Things have changed while we are living, and in some cases dying, with this virus business. But change is a nonstop thing and, in time – long or short – we will start to rebuild our daily lives. Like any reconstruction project the target of the restoration will be different than what it was before no matter how hard we try to make it an exact copy.
As we restore our personal lives we will make changes big and small intentional and accidental. My question is how do you think your life will be different – post virus? Will it be better or worse? How do you want it to be different? This is something I think that we, each of us, have to start thinking about now! Think about it now when, like it or not, most of us have plenty of idle time on our hands. I know how I’m going to approach this.
How I intend to plan my life, however long or short that may be, is to carry around a small notebook and a pen so I can jot down my own personal thunderbolts of wisdom. I know that I want there to be changes. There will be changes in the things that I do and there will be changes in how I respond to other things as they affect me. There will probably be some big changes, but most will be so small that I will be the only person who will notice them. I’m cool with that. After all, in the larger scheme of the universe, I am nobody else’s business. I have no desire to control anyone else and I certainly don’t want to be someone else’s android.
I R2 D-etermined to allow that to happen.
I’m going to start planning my new Chez Krafty today. I will not be caught in a New Life without have a set of detailed blueprints. This brush with a planetary scare has made me realize that I have spent most of my life just drifting. I have drifted from one career to another, from one hometown to another, from one relationship to another, and from one set of standards to another. But from now on I will be controlling the tides. Many, if not most of the things and people in my life will remain – but there are going to be changes. If there aren’t any changes it would prove that I just haven’t been paying attention – and trust me –
We are in that awkward transitional time of the year. It’s not really Winter any longer, even though there are mornings when we awaken to find snow on the ground. It is not really Springtime either. There may be a robin or two scouting for worms in the yard, but their red breasts are still shivering in the cold.
This is that spot on the calendar where we don’t know how to dress. Should I put on the old college sweats that have always kept me warm or should I try on that new short sleeve shirt I was given at Christmas?
These are the days when we don’t know which way to turn. What should we do to be comfortable? What makes sense? Don’t ask me.
I find this time of year to be transitional in more ways than just the weather. It is really the start of the time when we make life decisions. It is our Intellectual Springtime as well. Do we make that move to a new job, a new home, a new life? Or do we drag out the old and the comfortable for one more year? Do we try something new or do we postpone everything? For how many years can we mimic the weather patterns of being neither this nor that and being unsatisfied with both? Eventually we either have to make those choices and move on, or we must retreat into our closet and move to the rear where we keep the clothes we can’t bring ourselves to throw out.
The weather outside my window right now is at 51 degrees with a cold wind and showers threatening. Inside it is me in an old sweatshirt wondering what I should do about a dozen different things. Not all of those questions are life altering. Some are, but most are as simple as “What should I have for breakfast?” Coming up with “French Toast” is not as earth shaking a decision as choosing to change careers, become a Parent, or to “Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Out” as many of us considered in the 1960s. Facing the simple questions is easy, but there are some that are soul wrenching.
Whether or not the Weather pleases us is really a temporary situation. No matter what it is like right now outside of my window I won’t have to wait long before it changes. On this planet Winter does give way to Spring and then on to Summer, Autumn, and then back to Winter again. We can choose which season we like the best but we can’t speed up its arrival or slow down its demise. We have to deal with what is in front of us now.
Our Life is different from our place in the flow of the Weather as it transitions through the year. We can be happy with our life or not, but if we are unhappy we can also do a great deal about it. We have Choices. We can choose wisely and enhance our life bringing us joy or we can choose poorly and send our life careening through the years like an out of control car. Often we can’t recognize the wisdom or the errors of our choices until time passes and there is no going back. Life rarely gives us a “Mulligan.” All we can do is think, learn, pray, and do our best when we come to those crossroads.
Whether we live through the Weather of our life enjoying our days, or we grumble and complain about everything is really our Ultimate Choice.
In this world there are Happy People who always seem to have a genuine smile on their face and then there are Unhappy People. Those are the ones who may also have a smile for the world to see, but are never content no matter what their station in life. They could be fabulously wealthy and famous, but they never have “enough.’ These are the people for whom the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
While the Weather outside my window is not to my liking I know that better days are coming and that is what keeps me going. I know for a fact that there will be warmer days when my body will not be so rebellious. The sun will shine and it will put a pleasing glow on my face. All I have to do is be patient and wait for it to arrive. Complaining won’t make it come any sooner. It will get here Whether the Weather today is warm or not.
OK, WE HAVE CHRISTMAS OUT OF THE WAY. The eggnog has been thankfully disposed of until next year. Christmas carols are over until Thanksgiving – except on the Hallmark Channel. New Year’s Day kind of takes care of itself with football, aspirin and drawn shades. I guess our next societal obligation is the making of New Year’s Resolutions. I suggest doing that before going out on New Year’s Eve. Doing it after that carries the danger of it being a product of desperation, shame, and physical pain.
“How do you think you will die?”
Unless you make your living as the ever so attractive target in a Las Vegas knife throwing act the answer to that question is strictly speculative.
I don’t know.
There are seven billion people on Earth and there are likely to be seven billion different answers.
Each of those years has had things worth remembering – and things that have merited forgetting. I’m sure that holds true for everyone. It’s part of the ongoing flow of life.
This past year has been much like many of my recent years. It held joys and sorrows, hopes fulfilled and hopes filled with disappointment. Dreams and nightmares, laughs and tears.
Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”
I WAS SCANNING THROUGH THE PAGES OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL the other day. That’s not something I do all that often. If I want financial information anything in The Journal is at least a week old. That would be like wondering if your tub is overflowing, but waiting a week to check on it. By that time your ceiling may be collapsed and the parakeet drowned in its cage.
What I did see that tickled my interest was an article about how the future was going to be different than today. Really? I didn’t know that Carnak The Magnificent worked for The Journal.
Obviously the article was written by someone right out of college who has been living in a Reality Bubble until last week.
Of course the future will be different than today. Otherwise Time would be one long Today. I suppose that it would eliminate the need for things like the TV Guide and the expiration date on my milk carton.
As yesterday moves into today so will today trickle into tomorrow. Things change as New Ideas coalesce in fertile brains. Technology will continue to make “The way it has always been done” into a memory, and I will throw away that leftover Mac & Cheese that has suddenly turned blue.
When Daimler had coffee with Benz, and Ford and the Duryea brothers made their first automobiles the Buggy Whip makers of the world got nervous. They could see the future
staring them in the face. The Future did them in and someday, maybe tomorrow, it will be the same for the car makers of today. Some bright and curious person will come up with a way to make, “Beam me up, Scotty,” a reality. “And while you’re at it, bring the dog in too.”
It will happen. Of that there is no doubt. It may not be “Beaming.” It might be something simpler, like faster cars unusable by drunks, teen drivers, or pizza delivery guys.
Personally, I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m hoping that it is different that today. Today? Been there, done that. Tomorrow offers an unlimited range of opportunities, amazement, and giggles.
I guess that some people might be afraid of tomorrow, any tomorrow. Well, I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but there is no way you can avoid it without permanent repercussions and probably ruining your clothes
It is vital that the Future be different from Today. Without that difference there would be no progress of any kind. Of course, the Future being different doesn’t mean that it will always be an improvement over Today. We hope it will be better, but History has shown that there are no guarantees. You win some, you lose some, and some – you break even. For every “I Love Lucy” there is a “My Mother the Car,” lurking in the shadows.
I guess that the writer for The Wall Street Journal has not yet experienced a sufficient number of tomorrows to notice that the future is always different. He seemed so surprised in his writing, as if no one had ever told him about it before. He’ll learn and I’ll find something else to read.
If the Future wasn’t different then every weekend would be just as unpleasant as Mondays and that is not acceptable.
Throwback Thursday from January 2016
WHAT KIND OF A QUESTION IS THAT TO ASK? Before I’ve had my coffee even? After all, what makes a person “religious?”
If there was to be a survey taken I couldn’t accurately predict the outcome. Yeah, well, maybe I could, but it wouldn’t really matter.
You see – God and I have this arrangement. Actually, it’s the same arrangement He’s made with all of us. All that God asks of me is that I give Him a respectful nod for who He is and what He has accomplished and that I try to get along with the guy who lives next door. I mean, is that too much to ask? I think not. It is simply worded without any “whereases,” “wherefores,” and “party of the first part” stuff to gum up the works. Neat. Clean. To the point. No trap doors. I think it all boils down to, “Don’t be a jackass.”
I do go to church on Sunday, although that is really just a one day a week expression of an everyday thing – but with music and lunch afterward.
Another thing that is part of my “Arrangement” is that I try not to make too many demands on God. After all, I am not the only person who has His personal number.
There have been times when I have said, “God, please let that guy score from third base. It is really important.” It is at times like that when I am reminded of the meaning of the word “Important.” It will be three days later when that guy on third base finally scores, when the score is already 17 – 0.
It is then that I look up and say quietly, “God, I don’t want to complain, but why couldn’t you have helped out three days ago when I asked?” And God says to me, “Three days ago? I was busy, and besides, your batter can’t hit a slider to save his life. Some things are beyond even Me.”
So much for that.
The world being what it is, I’m sure that there are some people out there who will complain that I refer to God as “Him” or “He.” Why do I do that? Because that is what I have done all my life and God has not told me to change it. Also, it is less cumbersome that saying, “He, She, It,” each time I refer to Him. See? There, I did it again. If you are offended, outraged, or miffed that I do that – all I can say is, “Is that the biggest fish frying in your pan? Get over it. If you want to call God, “She” or “It,” – go right ahead. It’s no big thing to me. Take your complaint upstairs.
If there are beings living on some other planet I’m sure that God has made His presence known in one form or another. He may have even helped that guy score from third on their world.
So, am I religious? I think so, sort of. There are a lot of people who would disagree, but that is their problem, not mine. Some of them I would not want living next door. I have my arrangement with God, and, so far, He seems to be OK with it too. I try to give Him that nod of appreciation and recognition, and I try to get along with my fellow humans. It’s not always easy. Can we agree on that?
All in all, I think my biggest challenge in keeping up my end of the Arrangement is this: “Don’t be a jackass.” God help me.
WHILE I DID MISS OUT ON SEEING THE NEW MARY POPPINS MOVIE while down in Texas recently I did manage to catch one of my all-time favorite films just the other night. Some people classify it as a “Chick Flick,” but I think that it is better thought of as a “Human Flick.”
“Shirley Valentine” was released in 1989 to less than raving reviews. Well, you can’t please everyone. The reviews may have been rather tepid, but Pauline Collins got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, along with a number of other awards. I guess that it was liked only by the people who saw it without any preconceived ideas.
Shirley (Played by Pauline Collins) is a British housewife mired in middle-age, and wondering where everything she hoped for has gone.
“I’ve led a very little life.”
— Shirley Valentine
Shirley feels that she has disappeared into a mind and soul numbing routine. Her husband is caught in
his own rut that has isolated them from each other. They share their house, but are living separate and unsatisfying lives.
Shirley’s life takes a remarkable twist when one of her “lady friends” wins a contest that offer a two week vacation trip to Greece and she asks Shirley to accompany her.
And now you need to download the movie.
Every year there are countless movies made that are “Coming of Age” films about the difficult and awkward transition from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. There is a big market for those. Less frequently does one find a different kind of “Coming of Age “ film – one about the transition from our prime adult years into “Middle-Age” when we begin to look back on our lives. We look at where we have been and where we are now, and what do we have ahead of us. And what are we going to do about it?
While the basic story is light and entertaining with other characters adding to Shirley’s mountain of things to think about there is an undertone that hits home easily. Life is a serious business.
I don’t often recommend movies – mainly because I don’t think most of them warrant any kind of recommendation. “Shirley Valentine” is thirty years old now, but it doesn’t look it or feel it. It has a freshness that makes it as pertinent as today.
That’s it. Short. Sweet and to the point today. Go get a snack.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES!”
Today is that day when we really start the New Year. It is time to put away the Aspirin bottle and the Ice Pack. Get dressed in something other than your Snuggie and Hospital Footies. It’s time to get back to work – like it or not.
For me today is just a Wednesday. The only thing that could be considered “work” for me today is that I will have to take the trash down to the curb tonight. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about that. For just two people we sure do generate a lot of trash.
THERE IS ONLY ONE THING THAT I DON’T LIKE about this time of year: The Cold; The Snow; The Icy Roads; The Crowded stores; The Nonstop Ads on TV; The Crowds at the Airport; and The Cold again.
Not that I’m complaining mind you.
I stepped out of the back door this morning and was greeted by a blast of cold air and sixty-two million snowflakes coming by at a 90° angle. That was not in my plans for the day. I was all set for it to be 85° and sunny. The fact that it was Mid-December in Indiana notwithstanding.
5:15 A.M. Monday Morning.
Terminal B LaGuardia Airport. Not America’s finest example of its greatness or its Might. Dark. Dingy. Beyond Stale. Earning its status as the Worst Airport in the Country. Dead last in surveys. Sad, really.
Lines are backing up at Security, including TSA pre-check.
One hour and 5 minutes to boarding: Flight AA2632 to DFW.
I clear security.
And I walk.
What if. Just what if. Just one time. You call it in sick. A Sick Day. What’s that? You walk back out of the terminal, stroll up to the American Airlines ticket counter, pull out your credit card, pay full price for a ticket and…take off…to…anywhere else. Like take a day trip. By yourself. To anywhere else. Turn off your cellphone(s). And disappear, for one day. Off Grid. Just one time.
I approach my gate.
And here it comes.
To Do’s. Commitments. Responsibilities.
I walk up to the Gate attendant. “Good morning Mr. Kanigan. You are seated in an Exit row. Are you willing and able to assist in an Emergency?”
Exit. Now. Do it. This is your last chance.
I smile. “Yes. Yes I am.”
I walk down the jet bridge. And I note that the heaviness lifts. Peace.
I get comfortable in my seat, 24E Exit.
You Need This. Murakami’s ’emotional morphine.’
You just couldn’t have it any other way.
“All you really have, in the end, are your stories.”
– – Burt Reynolds on the TV drama “Burn Notice” 2010
We are born; we live our lives, and as we see the final curtain beginning to come down our material things become meaningless. Most of the people we have in our life become exasperating as they can’t understand where we are and where we are going.
What is left?
We have our memories and even those begin to fade away. What can we do? We take our memories and we speak them aloud or write them down. We tell our stories. We move them from the fragile causeways of our brain to a place outside ourselves.
AH, YOUNG LOVE, WELL, MAYBE CLOSER TO MIDDLEAGE LOVE. The two people had to be in their forties, maybe a bit more. But looking at their eyes and body language they could have been teenagers
If there is one thing St. Arbucks is good for, other than filling up that empty lot on the corner, and the odd cup of coffee, it is that it is a good spot for People Watching. And that’s what I did yesterday afternoon.
I was out and about taking care of some errands and I stopped in at the Chapel on 25th Street for a nice iced tea. I sat over in my usual corner, the better to watch the world.
Throwback Thursday from October 2015 – “What Am I Looking At?”
Let me preface this by saying that I have the utmost respect for and hold in high esteem the members of our Armed Forces, both present and past.
But this morning I witnessed something that just flat out bothered me.
I was finishing up my coffee down at St. Arbucks, chatting with a couple of the Usual Suspects when I noticed a tall fellow in Army garb crossing the parking lot. Trailing him by a few steps was a rather scruffy looking young man, arms dangling by his sides and his eyes cast downward.
I said out loud, “Here comes the Sergeant with a new recruit in tow.” I was joking, I didn’t even know if they were together, but – they were.
When they came through the door the Army guy led the younger man to a table near us, sat him down, and handed him a small bundle of papers and a pen.
“Here, fill these out. What are you drinking?”
I watched the young man look over the papers then take out a pair of glasses. When he put them on I could see that they were what we used to call, “Coke Bottle Glasses,” thick, heavy lenses in black frames.
The kid (Anybody under forty is a kid to me) worked diligently filling in the blanks. His tongue stuck out periodically to help with the tough parts.
After a couple of very long minutes The Recruiter came back to the table carrying one short cup of hot coffee and one huge Frappuccino topped with whipped cream. As he passed by our corner he glanced at us and smiled. His smile spoke volumes. It said –
“Yes, this just what you think it is and I know that you know.”
He set the whipped cream drink in front of the young man, still busy with the paperwork. Then The Recruiter sat back and began to text away on his phone, smiling all the while.
I turned to my Partner Suspect and said, “This sucks. Would you want to be in a foxhole with that kid? He can’t see worth a darn.”
When the new and unshaven Guardian of Freedom reached page three he paused. He lifted his head from the table and located the man sitting across the table from him.
“What does this mean?”
Not to let anything foul up his “Catch of the Day,” The Recruiter got up and, looking over the kid’s shoulder, took the pen and said, “Here, let me help you with that.”
Not surprisingly, the rest of the paperwork went quite quickly.
It took no more than two minutes for every blank to be filled in and every dotted line signed and dated before the two of them were heading out the door. The kid clutched his Frappuccino, but the small hot coffee sat where it was from the start. He had never touched it. It was strictly a prop.
I can’t see how this kid could ever pass the Army induction physical with eyesight like his. I doubt that he could read the big E on the top line of the eye chart.
I understand that the recruiters have quotas to fill, but really now – taking this kid into the Army isn’t doing anybody a favor – except Starbucks, if he keeps bringing his enlistees in to fill out the papers and slurp up the whipped cream.
Reblog from – https://fiercefabulousfunny.com/2018/08/24/george-carlin-8-23-18/
George Carlin’s wife died early in 2008 and George followed her, dying in July 2008. It is ironic George Carlin – comedian of the 70’s and 80’s – could write something so very eloquent and so very appropriate.
An observation by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.
Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.
Fiction Saturday – “A Conversation By The River” – Conclusion
“Some Monks pray while farming, some while cooking, or writing. I walk. I walk without a physical destination. Today I am here. I think I am here to talk with you.”
“And with the fish?”
“Yes – And with the fish. Walking is my way of praying. Each step is a prayer – a prayer for understanding and for thanks.”
I was getting confused with all of this.
“’Thanks? For what?” The Monk smiled at me and I relaxed.
“I give thanks for each step because I know that a time will come when I can no longer walk and the steps will have to be taken by someone else. Aren’t you thankful for something – your life? For your mother and father, for your home, your friends, and for this lovely spot by the river?”
“I guess so. I never thought about it before. Now that you put it all that way though I guess I do have a bunch of stuff to be thankful for.”
“Good. Now let’s be quiet so this fish and I can talk things out.”
The Monk and the fish might have been talking, but I didn’t hear anything. I stayed quiet because I know that you are supposed to be quiet while fishing and I didn’t want to scare the Monk’s fish.
It seemed to me like we were going to be there all day when the Monk broke the silence.
“That fish,” he said, “Makes a very good case for himself. Much better than me. Tonight I go hungry. My young friend I might as well be on my way.”
“You’re leaving? Where are you going to go?”
“Like I said earlier, I m going nowhere and everywhere as well, but I think I will start by going through your village. How far is it from here?
“The village is around that bend in the path and then an hour – less for you – you take bigger steps than me.” While I spoke he gathered together his things. He pulled his empty hook from the river, dried it and the twine on his red sash before carefully folding it and wrapping it around his body and over his shoulder. I wondered how many times he had done this before when a fish out talked him. When everything was in its place he stood up and bowed to me.
“It has been a pleasure to have spent this time with you and I wish you wisdom and happiness as you grow.”
He started across the grass toward the path. I hurried after him.
“Mr. Monk, can I walk with you awhile? My house is that way too, around the bend.”
“Of course, my friend. Let us both pray with each step we take.”
He was taller than me and I had to take more steps to keep up with him. He saw me trying to keep up and he slowed down to make it easier for me.
“What will you do when you get to the village?”
“I will beg. I am sure that some kind person will feed me and give me a place to sleep tonight. There is almost always someone in each village I visit. People are good.”
We walked on.
“This path goes on all the way to The Great Ocean they say. What will you do when you get to the end of the path?”
“I will turn around and walk back to the Monastery high up in the mountains. It is my home.”
“How long have you been walking?” He looked down at me.
“I began my prayer when I was no bigger than you. It is my entire life, my prayer.”
I was amazed. I could not imagine leaving everything behind and walking for such a long time. He was an old man compared to me – older than my father.
“I’m sorry that I ask you so many questions, but I’ve never really talked with a Monk before.”
“There is no need to apologize. How else can you learn? I ask questions all the time.”
We rounded the bend in the path and up ahead I could see where the path split. One part went on to the village. The other led to our farm.
“This looks like where we part ways. I go on to the village and you to your home. Again, I thank you for our time together.”
I had an idea. I had one more question.
“Do you have to go to the village tonight, a rule or something? I’m asking because my mother and father are kind people and I’m sure that they would be happy to give you something to eat and a warm and dry place to sleep. Would you come with me? I’m sure they won’t be upset.”
“Even your father who thinks we Monks are all wealthy?”
“Yes, I’m sure. He likes to go fishing too. You two could talk about that. But I don’t think he talks with the fish. He uses bits of bread as bait. Please come there with me.” The Monk paused. He looked at me and at the path into the village.
“Young man, every road that I walk splits, and I have often wondered where my life would be if I chose to take that other pathway. My prayer is in my step, not in the road beneath my feet. All roads go somewhere. This road,” he said, pointing off down the path, “It goes to your village and eventually to The Great Ocean. But this other path would take us to your farm and your family. The village and the ocean will be there tomorrow, but if I go that way today I will miss the gift of seeing your family. That chance is only mine for today, never to return.”
He sat down in the dust and looked at both paths.
“I need to think and pray. Give me a moment.”
I watched him close his eyes. He folded his legs like I had seen him do when he first came and sat by the riverbank. I said a prayer of my own that he would come with me.
After a couple of minutes the Monk opened his eyes. He smiled at me.
“My young friend, you prayed. I could feel it. It was a very good prayer. You prayed and I listened for the Wisdom to tell me what to do.”
“What did you hear?” I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.
I heard that you are an honest and truthful boy and that I am blessed by having this time with you today. Today is not done and there is more time to share.”
“Does that mean you’ll come back to my home with me?”
The Monk held out his hand to me.
“It does. Now help me up and let me get this dust off my robe. I don’t want your father to think that I am there to beg.”