Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so"

Now's the time during which all of my social media friends start posting about their year. A lot are already summing it up as a horrid one as a result of celebrity deaths. Some just had crappy years; others, not bad one. I haven't heard any really good reflections on the year.

For some reason, summing up a year has never worked for me. I am not saying it is bad or wrong to do so -- just that it has never been something I am inclined to do. And thinking about evaluating my year sort of makes me feel a little squirmy, if I'm being honest.

I think of bad events as bad events, but isolated ones. A year is an artificial construct of the human need to organize its existence. Maybe this is all just another manifestation of my often-visited concept of the real versus the unreal; the idea that there is so much that we see as hard reality that is just plain phony. A "year" is just bookends on the shelf. We just happen to place it between 365-day cycles. It could have been anything in terms of parameters... What's real is the death of a loved one; what's fake is that he died on a "Tuesday." It seems really -- at the lest -- unhelpful to call a whole 365-day cycle "bad" because within the same span in which one's car was "totaled."

Contrary to what I said above, maybe it is bad. It's really a kind of pessimism to label a year as bad because it contained a few -- or even a lot of -- bad events. Yeah...see? I was trying to be nice, but I think it is bad.

I think my other "problem" might be that I have always naturally done what a lot of people seem to have a hard time with. I really seem to "live in the moment." (Sometimes, this can be a problem...but that is another post.) For me, though, benchmarks have never really meant much. New Year's Eve means nothing to me. Graduations have always been something to get over with. I knew, sitting on the football field of Eastern High School in 1986, that I would be no different of a person the next day than I was before... There really is -- cliche, though it may be -- only now.

David Bowie, Gene Wilder, the all-of-a-sudden-beloved Alan Rickman and, now, George Michael were not killed by 2016 -- they just happened to die within the artificial frame created by humans.

So, no, it wasn't a bad year. Not to me. I'm sorry we lost those people -- especially Gene Wilder. But I just can't make it work out to a post about how mad I am at 2016. It's like blaming the shoe box for the shoes' fit.

As I looked up who died in 2016 for this piece, I saw an article for The Mirror: "Why have so many celebrities died in 2016?" Are people really reading stuff like that for "answers"?

Each of the people we lost is bigger than a calendar with inked borders, so let's not reduce them to some superstitious cause. We might as well go back to blaming fairies for stuff.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pleasant Medicines

What we all need to do is find pleasant medicines. This is a little north of the whole idea of a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. The things that are good for us can be pleasant.

People have found this, but very few talk about it. Devoted runners, for instance, almost always love running. Some athletes are forced to run for their sports, but runners do it out of love for the process.

But I hate running.

I also hate lifting weights. And most other forms of physical exertion. So, not pleasant medicines.

I was inspired to write this as I finished my last sip of cold green tea a few moments ago. I brew it each week and I drink it throughout my work day. Since I started this, my weight loss per week (something I have been working hard on) has doubled. The health benefits of green tea are almost universally supported by research. And I like it. Pleasant medicine.

I have also been practicing yoga. It is making me stronger and more flexible. I could get stronger and more flexible in a million unpleasant ways, but yoga actually feels good when I am doing it. I look forward to it each day. I have never looked forward to any form of exercise. WhemI was an athlete, it was just something that came with the territory, as it were. I did it because I was forced to.

Can't we all find pleasant things to do that make us more healthy? I sure can't be easy, because it took me forty-nine years to latch on to a mere two "pleasant medicines." But I intend to look for more ways to do things that are good for me that I actually enjoy.

Everyone talks about healthful living as if it is a burden. It really does not have to be. But, as I find with most things, you need to be philosophical about it to be happy and consistent.