Saturday, February 18, 2012

Things that Matter

Wisdom.  When God gave Solomon the choice of anything he wanted, Solomon asked God for wisdom, to better guide his people.  Thik about that--a man widely revered for his wisdom, wise enough to ask for wisdom when God gives him the brass ring.  Whether you believe in God or not, there's a great message here--that you are never as smart as you think you are, and that above all else, wisdom is the key to everything.  Not knowing the answer is not as important as knowing the questions to ask.  Seeing the depth of the problem is the only way to find a solution. 
Warm spring days matter.  The bleak days of the hasrshest winter eventually become spring, and those warm days with just a touch of chill in the wind remind us that we've lived through tough times, and made it through, but there will be tough days again.  We see life renewed, and we are reminded that life will end.  Also, warm spring days = bikini season is begining, and that's important.
Memories--we tend to remember the extreme good, and the extreme bad.  The good we remember even more fondly as time goes by, and the bad actually softens over time. 
Honest work.  I pity the person who has never toiled under the sun to raise a garden, or built something useful with their hands, or put in a hard day's work with a meaningful result.  There is something restorative to the soul in doing hard, honest work.
Faith.  Whether it's a judeo-christian god, the false prophet of the carpet-sniffing, or celebrants of the flying spaghetti monster, or even those who simply believe in themselves, faith is one of the most important things in our life.  I respect the muslim faith--not because it makes any sense, but because their faith drives them to pray five times a day.  A few minutes, several times a day, they clear their life of distractions and focus on one thing.  There's power in that.  Even if you took two minutes out from your day, five times a day, to contemplate your navel, how you could be happier, what you could do to improve your, or someone else's lot, and then applied action to that faith, you could move mountains.
Bubble Baths.  I don't take baths often.  I take bubble baths even less.  But I have taken them.  As a kid, bubble baths were a special, luxurious treat.  As an adult... well, they're kinda ghey for a man, unless he has company.  Unfortunately, they don't make bathtubs for two standard in most construction.  Total imersion in a warm bath is good for the body--completely relaxing, refreshing, and able to relieve stress in ways that rival the best masseuse.  Bubbles give you something to make mohawks with and cover up with when the kids invariably come in to harrass you.
Passion.  Whether you share a passion with someone, or are simply passionate about something, passion matters.  Passion gives us reason to live, it gives us meaning.  It is the olive in the salad--the thing that you muddle through the other parts of life to get to.  You have to find something (or someone) to be passionate about.  (Even if that means hiding in the bushes with binoculars.)
Puppies.  Cats are fun, but independent.  Puppies are totally dependent on you, they keep you to a schedule ("feed me or I'll lick your face until you wake up!  Take me out or clean the carpet!  Throw the ball!  Again!  Again!"  Like children, they depend on you for everything.  Unlike children, they generally listen and then do be thankful for what you give them.  Puppies force you out of bed, they force you to keep things picked up (the penalty being that anything on the floor is their chew toy) and they force you to exercise--either with them or chasing after them to leave the food on the counter alone.
Afternoon Naps.  Nothing is more sacred than the 20 minute-2 hour catnap in the afternoon.  Just closing your eyes for a minute, stretching out on the couch, putting your feet up on the desk, or crawling under the desk, is incredibly important for the soul.  Aside from making you more effective later in the day, it always gives me the feeling that I've gotten away with something.  Funny thing about the Army, being surrounded by type-A personalities, I am one of the few who willingly announce they are going to go take a nap.  There's no shame in it, but many of my peers (and superiors) have the mentality that they need to be 100% functional and working all day, every day, for 20 hours at a clip.  You can't make good decisions like that, and I think it's 1/3 of the reason Generals, who are usually in their early to mid fifties, tend to look like they are in their late seventies.  If we, as a military, just agreed to spend 30 minutes every afternoon, between 2:30 and 3:00, with our heads on our desks and our phones off the hook and computers closed, we'd get so much more done and make far fewer mistakes, and probably have fewer dumb ideas. 

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