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Blue Spider's Coffee House

Truth, Love, Beauty and all things Virtuous

Month

June 2014

You’ve Got to Quit Your Quittin’

drunk hobo

It Ain’t the Failures he may meet
That keeps a man from winnin’
It’s the discouragement complete
That blocks a new beginnin’;
You want to quit your habits bad,
And when the shadows flittin’
Make life seem worthless an’ sad
You want to quit your quittin’!

You want to quit a-layin’ down
An’ sayin’ hope is over,
Because the fields are bare an’ brown
Where once we lived in clover.
When jolted from the water cart
It’s painful to be hittin’
The earth; but make another start.
Cheer up and quit your quittin!

Although the game seems rather stiff
Don’t be a doleful doubter;
There’s always one more innin’ if
You’re not a down and outer.
But fortune’s pretty sure to flee
For folks content with sittin’
Around an’ sayin’ life’s N.G.
You’ve got to quit your quittin’

Unknown

The New Talking Points: I Know Something Good About You

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Wouldn’t this old world be better
If the folks, we meet would say-
“I know something good about you!”
And treat us that way?

Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy
If each handclasp, fond, and true,
Carried with it this assurance-
“I know something good about you!”

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If the good that’s in us all
Were the only thing about us
That folks bothered to recall?

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If we praised the good we see?
For there’s such a lot of goodness
In the worst of you and me!

Wouldn’t it be nice to practice
That fine way of thinking, too?
You know something good about me,
I know something good about you?

Louis C. Shimon

More than An One Act Play

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“To see the golden sun, the azure sky, the outstretched ocean; to walk upon the green earth, and be lord of a thousand creatures; to look down yawning precipices or over distant sunny vales; to see the world spread out under one’s feet on a map; to bring the stars near; to view the smallest insects through a microscope;…to witness the change of seasons, of spring, and autumn, of winter and summer; to feel hot and cold, pleasure and pain, beauty and deformity, right and wrong; to be sensible to the accidents of nature; to consider the mighty world of eye and ear; to listen to the stock-dove’s notes amid the forest deep; to journey over moor and mountain; to hear the midnight sainted choir; to visit lighted hall, or the cathedral’s gloom, or sit in crowded theatres and see life itself mocked; to study the works of art and refine the sense of beauty to agony;…to overlook the world as if time and nature poured their treasures at our feet–to be and to do all this and then in a moment to be nothing!”

-William Hazlitt

A Good Day Gone Bad: The Sierras, My Aching Back, and Painkillers

Gold Finch

It seemed like a good day when the day began. The weather was good and I felt ten years younger than I had felt for a while. After a long bike ride, I came home and suggested to my wife we kick the summer off with a small hike up at Grover’s Hot Springs. After the hike, unwilling to call it a day just quite yet, we proceeded to go up Ebbett’s pass following the road along the East Fork of the Carson River avoiding cyclist and motorcyclist alike as the road narrowed. We stopped at several lakes on the way up and hiked around a little bit.

We finally made it to Lake Alpine and had a late lunch. Because the temperatures were a little colder than we were dressed for, the staff let us eat our jalapeno poppers and drink our ginger ales by the fire inside the lodge and entertain ourselves with the whimsical collection of bear art on the wall interspersed with a John Wayne picture here and there. Enjoying our music and mesmerized by the surrounding beauty of the Sierra’s, we headed back and made it home around dinner time still feeling good about ourselves, so good that I decided I would go walk our dogs, even though, they are very difficult dogs to walk. We went further than I usually take them enjoying the light breeze as the day went from light to dusk. Meanwhile, my wife had gone out grocery shopping for dinner. When the dogs and I got back, I plopped myself into the easy chair and fiddled on the computer until my wife came home. As the door opened and she had her hands full with groceries, I offered to help. And, that is when it happened. I could not straighten up my back and any effort to do so seemed like I was going to break in half.

I had seen this many times on TV and had heard about backs locking up before, but never did I think this would happen to me, especially on a day like this when I had felt so good and there seemed to be no hint of the impending injury, even when I had rested myself in the easy chair. Bent in half, I made it to the couch and lied down thinking that would relax my back and make it possible for me to straighten out and be normal like other people with straight backs. After several failed attempts at straightening out, I foolishly decided to lie on the floor thinking a hard surface might help. But, being on the floor actually put me in a worse position I discovered because I could not even get to me knees without experiencing terrible pain. So I spent for the next two hours in the fetal position, watching reruns of High Chapparal and the Big Valley, intermittently attempting to get up without crying in front of me wife. All the time craving a quesadilla. Finally, out of a need to use the bathroom before going to bed, I propped myself up using a pair of walking poles while simultaneously shouting and whispering to myself.

A picture of the lake when it was still a good day
A picture of the lake when it was still a good day

Having not improved at all in the morning on Sunday and not knowing what was happening to me, my wife and I made our way to the emergency room. My wife was a saint the whole time showing me some rare sympathy. Allowing me to be a big baby for once, unlike she does when I have a man cold. Nevertheless, after three hours of mostly waiting and doing some x-rays, I was told I had just over done it and that I had some arthritis in my lower back and hips. More importantly though, they gave me some prescriptions for pain medication and told me to go see my doctor within the week. That was a rough week, because as it would happen to be I had scheduled a much needed appointment with my dentist for the removal of a wisdom tooth. For which, I also received more pain medication. The next day, I was able to get in with my doctor. Although, somewhat impatient and irritated that I had been squeezed into his already busy day, he too prescribed more pain medication. At this point, I gained some insight into how it is possible for people to get addicted to pain medication. It seems at the very least having a back injury opens doors to getting addicted.

Don’t worry though, of all the things, I’ve been addicted to, painkillers is not one of them. Food and sports seem to be my main kryptonite. And after a week of being on different painkillers, I stopped taking them realizing that I’d much rather deal with the remaining pain than feel like I did when on painkillers. I’d much rather gain back whatever reasoning skill I have still remaining rather than walk around loopy on drugs. Being aware there is a level of pain I should be able and willing to endure to avoid becoming caught up in an age that is gluttonous for drugs. An age that has an insatiable appetite for lighting up and burning up “all things bright and beautiful”.

As William F. May once stated:

“Only in so far as a man remains fully sensitive, open, receptive, and, indeed, vulnerable to his environment does he reckon with it in its full diversity and splendor.”

And from what I’ve seen in my lifetime for myself and those close to me, drugs, not matter how much in fashion or medicinal they are advertised to be, over time have a way of closing people down and shutting down their sensibilities and their capacity to love anyone but themselves. Why anyone would encourage drug use on any level given its devastating consequences on people’s lives all around us is beyond my simple logic. It seems like fool’s gold. And I already have plenty of people pointing out that I have problems with caring anyways so why make it worse and become an absolute brute, be more selfish than I am inclined to be, and add even more drama to my loves one’s lives than I have already clumsily done.

Earth

Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise, and rudely great;
With too much knowledge for the skeptic side,
With too much weakness for the stoic’s pride,
He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest:
In doubt to deem himself a god or beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little or too much:
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world!

Alexander Pope, Excerpt from Essay on Man

It’s More than Me, It’s More than You: Finding Meaning to Our Own Narrative and the Family

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Each day it seems as we go about are daily, toilsome routines—dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, grabbing breakfast at the drive-thru, answering emails, texts, phone calls, sitting in business meetings, working out at the gym, walking the dog, watching TV, etc.—we can’t help ask when all the noise stops, in our secret hour, is that all there is?

Singularly pursuing money, pelf, career status, peer acceptance, smarts, fads, art, trends or the spirit of the age is exhausting and over time these pursuits are unfulfilling and not enough and in some sense rot and corrupt who we truly are, leaving us with a bark that has gone astray. As time passes, it doesn’t take long to realize that while the world turns pretty fast, it’s seems to be spinning nowhere when all our pursuits are solely designed to materially gratify our own pleasures and desires.

That is why we oftentimes search out for some purpose larger than ourselves that gives meaning purpose to our personal narratives. There must be some enduring truths out there that we can hang our hat on. The first place we look to find value and give meaning to our thoughts and actions is through our family relationships. It’s interesting to note how important families are in giving meaning and purpose to our lives in that most of us tolerate a large degree of dysfunction to maintain those relationships. I have witnessed first-hand the length parents, children and siblings are willing to go to forgive each other just so they can have a relationship with each other.

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Family is for many the first absolute truth we encounter in our lives, there is something enduring about our families, both the ones from which we came and the ones we create, that speaks to our spirits. There is something profound and faintly familiar about these relationships, something worth living for in these relationships. These are our strongest bonds. And it is not by accident, that strong families go a long way in eradicating many social ills and building strong societies. Similarly, rendering the family and those relationships meaningless and without boundary threaten to destroy and rot out the foundation of our communities, making many social problems seem intractable. Families and the bonds that are forged between it’s members pre-date governments and it is not governments that define families and it is the strength of families that determine the quality of our governments. But families are more than just building blocks for mighty world civilizations, maintaining and building these relationships give meaning to not only life, but also gives meaning to death, and hope for an afterlife where these relationships can continue.

There is a reason why the parting from our family members is painful. Joseph F. Smith once stated:

“We would not be human if we did not weep or mourn our losses. We do not like to part from each other. We are creatures of passion, of sympathy, of love….How truly painful, almost beyond comprehension, would it be if we could not ever experience those relationships again?”

We would not be tapping into something divine if we did hope or did not develop faith in the notion that we can continue these family relationships in the afterlife. This is one of the main reasons why the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in the earth’s history, chasing away once and for all the ghosts of despair and dismay. Because of the Resurrection there is light and hope for both the believer and non-believer in this mortal experience.

Without this Light permeating the universe, our mortal experience would be desperate and dark and we’d all be weighed down by a meaningless human condition and would be making a similar observation that Empedocles once made when he wrote: “And I wept and shrieked on beholding the unwonted land where are Murder and Wrath, and other species of Fates, and wasting diseases, and putrefaction and fluxes….”

When Pride Goes Wrong

“The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. … ‘What will men think of me?’ weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?’ ….

Some prideful people are not so concerned as to whether their wages meet their needs as they are that their wages are more than someone else’s. Their reward is being a cut above the rest.

When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgements.”-Ezra Taft Benson

Michael Sandel and a Just Society

Themis 3439

“A just society can’t be achieved simply by maximizing utility or by securing freedom of choice. To achieve a just society we have to reason together about the meaning of the good life, and to create a public culture hospitable to the disagreements that will inevitably rise….Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It also about the right way to value things.”

Life: The First Human Right

“Life: Without it all other rights are meaningless.”

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