Tuesday Twitter was abuzz with the first Winter Solstice Full Lunar Eclipse in 372 years. It was the first time this even came on my radar. That night, about 2 am, I woke up the whole family and marched them outside to watch the event. People were tweeting about it. As we watched the Earth’s shadow move across the face of the moon, it began to dawn on me that this was the Real New Year, that today (then Tuesday) was the last day of the year, and tomorrow (now Wednesday) the first day of a New Year. I decided it was time to do a little goal review.
These issues of the Lunar, Solar, Gregorian calendars, the dates and timing of Christmas and New Years (1 Jan), are all very interesting, but subjects for several other posts.
My friend describes very well how goals change over time and how one needs to allow intuitive responses to grow and evolve on their own, outside of the constraints of a pre-thought out goals list. Often these lists are produced in a single session, and artificially represent what we think we should want to accomplish. Nevertheless, I have found the process useful. As an aside, I would emphasize that it is the process (contemplation, reflection) much more so than the product (the list) that holds the value.
Each year I review my list from the previous year. I page through my journal, and I check off the things I accomplished, the things I forewent, the things I still need to work on. The most interesting items are the goals I set and accomplished, but never added to my list (@ChristineMillan could appreciate that one).
Throughout the year I meet with good friends and we discuss our goals, provide advice, and some accountability. Many of these notes make it into my journal and become more immediate, intermediate goals. Some are just action steps. Some are brand new goals.
The whole process is very organic for me. I have no real system. Many of the items in my list I never really see again until the end of the year (today). It is always a delicious surprise to see items I accomplished, but forgot I had even listed. I also enjoy seeing items listed, that I discarded, and decided for whatever reason, weren’t goals I actually wanted to accomplish.
As the title says, Random Thoughts.
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Originally Published on Proudland Blog:
Thich Nhat Hanh describes turning emotional garbage into compost, and using it as we tend to our spiritual gardens. In his book, Taming the Tiger Within we should not try to throw away or discard our anger, but rather sooth it, transform it into a positive emotion. Much as we take grass clippings, leaves, and banana peels and put them in the compost pile, instead of the land fill.
In the compost pile we take garbage, tend to it, transform it, and use it to feed a beautiful garden. In the land fill, we take garbage, put it out of sight out of mind, but it never goes away. It becomes a problem to be dealt with later on down the road. Organic matter which would become nutrients in a compost pile, when buried deep within a landfill, never decompose. They just take up space. Similarly, we can take our anger and darker emotions, and transform them into something beautiful. Or, we can ignore them and allow them to fester. We can feed and indulge them. Either way they never go away. They persist to become something worse. They persist to make us miserable.
We could take the analogy even further, with a karmic perspective. The planet will eventually recycle all the waste and toxins we release into the environment. Over the course of millions of years, plate tectonics, erosion, and cataclysmic events will recycle and reconstitute everything, bringing it all back full circle. Similarly, even the most mismanaged miserable lives, the most abusive and violent people, the most sinful and self-destructive souls will get the chance to come back and do this over and over an over again, even if for thousands of years, until they get it right.
With anger and hate we have the same choices we have with garbage and trash. On one hand, we can transform waste, recycle it, transform it into something beautiful. On the other, we can bury them, ignore them, or indulge them until they grow and accumulate to create more misery.
Eventually, maybe millions of years, both the polluted earth, and the polluted soul will be cleansed and purified. The question is, then: What do you want right now? Right now do you want a toxic, polluted planet? Right now, do you want violent and war-torn societies? Right now, do you want a life of suffering? Or, would you rather something different, NOW. You will get it eventually. But do you want it NOW?
A.J., Proudland Landscape, LLC © 2007-2010
Related Post: Do Anything Important Today?
If the Constitution Were Written Today . . .
My first time out for the ATC Cross Country 5k. Another race in my goal this year of racing once per month. I will miss technically miss that goal, but will hit it in spirit. More specifically these races in November, December, and January are about staying motivated and on track–I’ve found that scheduling and running in events throughout the holiday season is a great way to stay motivated during this tough time of year.
This is my first time out for the ATC Cross Country 5k. It was a good race. It’s a tough course, and the smaller ATC races always bring out good competitors. The temperature was brisk, but the wind merciful. Recent rains had drained off sufficiently pretty well in most areas.
Location: Milton High School, Alpharetta, Georgia
Gun time: 9 am
Course: 1000 m loop, then 2 x 2000 m loops for 5k total.
Registration: $10; Free for ATC members.
Host: Atlanta Track Club
Weather: Cold with mild breeze. The air warmed a bit between first arrival and start time. Running shorts, Long sleeve base layer, T Shirt, Nike Frees. Could’ve stood some gloves.
Terrain: Hilly, wooded course with gravel, chips, pine straw, dirt, roots, short sections of paved crossing. Essentially a trail run. Significant, but short hills.
A nice break from the standard asphalt road course. Good course with challenging hills. The hills were fairly significant, but short.
Competition: As I mentioned, the field was pretty competitive, but not too embarrassing for a mid-packer. There were a couple of walkers. So a little be for every one.
General Impression: A good December race. A little close on the heels of any Thanksgiving Day races you may have done. I found I was probably a little over-trained.
Room for improvement: No real negatives. The D-tags were only used for finish times, but the start line was extremely wide and shallow, so probably not much difference between clock & chip start time.
The Obama administration, through the TSA, recently went live with full-body scanners (x-ray machines) and full-body pat downs. There has been much uproar regarding the invasiveness of these measures. There has also been so much discussion regarding the true effectiveness of our airport security measures. What has been lacking is any mainstream discussion of the real implications of this newest degradation of the Constitution & Bill of Rights.
There has been a steady degradation of the Bill of Rights by the federal government, and Presidential administrations virtually since they’re ratification. However, in the last 25 years and particularly since the World Trade Center Bombing, the acceleration has been extreme. This recent TSA full body scan procedure is another chink in that process.
When asked, many people state they are willing to give up some freedom for increased safety, and that this is in fact necessary. However, that assumes three things. First that we have much freedom to give up. Second, that there is any real security to be had. And, perhaps most importantly, that there is any end to the giving up of freedoms. When looking at the powers of the executive branch with executive orders, command of the military, and its unelected regulatory agencies, there is not really much freedom left in the United States. The fact that you may not feel violated, doesn’t mean you’re free.
All the security measures we’ve taken have not really increased our real security. Hijacker take over a plane with box cutters because passengers didn’t understand that they were doomed to die. Once passengers understand that hijackers are not going to land the plane, box cutters no longer are effective. Thus, the best measures against box cutters become, reinforced cock pit doors, and passenger education. Scanning each and every passenger each and every time for every possible implement is ridiculous and inherently doomed to failure. Thus, what does taking away my nail clippers accomplish? It doesn’t make anybody any safer. What it does do is encroach on my freedom.
Similarly with taking off shoes. While TSA is seizing my nail clippers, a guy tries to ignite a shoe bomb. So now each and every American must take off their shoes each and every time the go through a security gate. Any more shoe bombers? No. Does it mean we have now deterred shoe bombs? No. It only means that there was one guy with a shoe bomb, and now American citizens are subject to the demeaning and useless process of taking off their shoes over and over again.
What is the point, really? These are the types of techniques used in controlling prison populations. Subject and condition them to accept humiliating direction from their controllers. This most recent TSA screening measure is no different. The administration cannot possibly have any expectation that this will make us any safer. They can bet it will be another blow in the process of beating us into submission.
Bomb sniffing dogs are your best bomb detection method. This is how we clear mine fields, when the stakes are hard and real. Why don’t we employ the best detection method? Body scanners and mass pat downs are only effective against a narrow class of attacks. They are massively expensive. Why are we using the extremely expensive, less effective method?
There are so many vulnerabilities to terrorist attack, that the idea of the government restricting our freedom to protect us is an unending process. The question then becomes, What is the point?
Boiling a Frog. We’ve all heard of the boiling frog. The idea goes (I have not personally verified the scientific accuracy) that you can boil a frog to death, and have it not jump out of the pot, if you first set it in a pot of cold water. Then turn on the flame and increase the water temperature slowly, incrementally. The frog will adjust to each incremental increase, not noticing one degree difference at a time. However, when taken together the 212 individual degrees will not have been noticed, yet the frog is boiling just the same.
Another brick in the wall. The latest TSA measures are just another brick in the wall of the prison that the United States is becoming.
- “TSA S&M: All this airport groping doesn’t make anyone safer. But that may not be the point.” — http://nymag.com/news/politics/powergrid/69779/
- Slow boiled frog — http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp
- Majority agree on giving up rights for “safety” — http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=664_1263493736&c=1
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