I love road-trips — the longer the better. My wife is like that too, although she's afflicted by a strange passion for winter — the colder and "wintrier," the better. I do not share that passion, and so we were gifted a Differentiation Opportunity: she would stay home in Wisconsin and I would road-trip it to the California Coast. For me, one of the advantages of a solo road-trip is that I get to call the shots, such as my preference for using the navigation system in my car. My wife? Give her a map made of paper, which I've heard they still make.
Breaking news about a broken government was getting me down. Time for a "news fast." Dr. Andrew Weil, a well known physician/author, suggests there are health benefits from taking periodic breaks when it comes to following the news. A news fast — maybe for a day, several days or even a week. According to Dr. Weil, we may experience an unhealthy level of anxiety, anger, worry, fear and frustration when we get hooked on keeping up with "breaking news." He suggests that prolonged tightness of the jaws, so to speak, can harm a person's health.
The word train-wreck could be fairly used to describe our current federal government budgeting process. It wasn't designed to be a train-wreck. The Budget Act of 1974 was intended to create an orderly structure for Congress to carry out its constitutional "power of the purse" responsibilities. But then we hit the 1980s and our country became infected with the mind-set of ideological certainty. We still carry that infection.
"I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up!"-- Mark Twain Here's to the human mind. Like Mark Twain, we all have prodigious amounts of it. That vast mind of ours gives us consciousness and thought, gifts we sometimes put to good use, and not so much at other times. Seed Garden Which brings me to one of my favorite spiritual images. It comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist. He suggests that the mind is like a garden, with all kinds of dormant seeds.
I'm still hovering over the words of retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page: shed light, not heat. For me, "light" comes with a smile — not a passive-aggressive one but one that radiates from the heart. It involves a big-picture outlook, fueled by open-mindedness, patience, understanding and compassion. And "heat?" I see it as puffed-up, tight-jawed, anger-based reactivity. When it comes to aspirations, shedding light must be a worthy one.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The idea was to honor Americans who have made significant contributions to our national interests — everything from world peace to various aspects of our culture. Recently the medal was awarded to Alan Page, a former football star and the first African-American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court. I have encountered Alan Page on two occasions. The first was during a marathon many years ago. By "encountered" I mean I saw him as I chugged along and he ran past me.
One of the keys to a democracy: law enforcement based on the rule of law and not on the wishes of those who hold the power. Whether it's the municipal police, county sheriff, a state's Department of Justice or the U.S. Department of Justice, law enforcement officials must remain neutral as they investigate crimes and uphold laws. Otherwise, we'd be living in either a dictatorship or some other version of an unstable country.
"I get those fleeting, beautiful moments of inner peace and stillness — and then the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day, I'm a human trying to make it through in this world."—Ellen Degeneres What do you most desire — way down deep inside? For me, that would be inner peace. "Inner peace" might come across like a worn-out hippy phrase, but I think we all know when we have it. And when we don't. For me, a metaphor for inner peace is the image of a boat on still water.
Ry Cooder came out with a new album recently. One of his songs has Jesus talking with the late singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie ("Jesus and Woody"). As they lament the rise of hatred, Jesus says to Woody: Well, I've been the Savior now for such a long time. And I've seen it all before. You good people better get together, Or you ain't got a chance anymore. (For purposes of this column, I define "good people" as those who prefer love over what someone has described as hatred's milder cousin, resentment).
Can something be both heartbreaking and ugly at the same time? We now know the answer is yes, as we witness the brutal confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh grind on. As I write this, that nomination is on a one week "pause" as the FBI looks into sexual assault allegations from Judge Kavanaugh's past.