Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - So Long, Farewell

As the final hours of 2008 tick away, I decided to write one last post this year. It's been a crazy year to be sure and I am keenly aware that for some folks it has been utterly terrible. I guess I am more blessed than most because personally it's been pretty good. I really don't have a whole lot that I could complain about.

I mean sure, I've had little afflictions and some disappointments here and there but 2008 has been a decent year for me. I lost my girls which was pretty terrible, but not completely unanticipated and, while I definitely miss them, I don't really feel overwhelmed by grief. And like most people I know I suffered some dramatic losses in the stock market but I don't really feel freaked out about that either. In fact in some ways, I'm quite pleased with how well my portfolio has held up. There's still a couple of stocks I'm right side up on. My little friends ruined my computer and I had to buy a new one when I would have rather used that money for something else and I lost a couple of files that were important to me and some pictures that weren't backed up. The pictures I really regret... The only other thing that I'm thinking didn't go my way is that I had to take on some debt to replace the roof on my house. I hate owing money! But with the weather we've had so far this winter, I am very happy to know that the roof is safe and sound.

On the upside, I have a job that I think is secure. And I work with some of the nicest people on the planet. I have friends who I love and who love me. My faith is strong. I continue to learn and explore new ideas. I'm healthier now than when the year began. My house is inching closer to being done and I have conquered a bunch of my clutter. I had a date for the first time in years and I not only lived to tell about it... but it was pretty fun!

So like most years, 2008 had some wonderful and some not so great. And isn't that something to be thankful about in and of itself? For about as long as I can remember I've heard people say they are thankful for whatever their troubles were and I never understood that. Why in the world would you be glad that unpleasant things happened to you? I think I started to grasp what they meant this year. I'd always kind of got the concept that you have to experience the dark to really know what light is... that the universe is made up of opposing forces. But I don't think I've ever seen my life challenges as good before. I don't think that I'd ever considered what purpose they serve in making me grow and become a better person by working to overcome them. Or that maybe they are uniquely suited to me. I do what other people say they would stagger and crumble under and I see them accomplish things that would be my undoing. A thought I've begun to consider is that these challenges are unique to each person. A kind of test designed by a loving Heavenly Father to help each of us develop the particular strengths we most need. And if that's the case, then I am even more blessed than I had realized before!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Golden Rule

I'm assigned to give the thought during our weekly devotional at work in a couple of weeks and I've decided to talk about the Golden Rule as found in Matthew 7:12.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.

Several years ago I remember reading a magazine article that talked about it as a code of conduct that is common to nearly all major world religions. That makes me think that our ability to get along and treat each other well must be a fundamental truth... one that Heavenly Father considers vitally important to our growth and development during the time we are here on the Earth. While I can't locate a copy of that specific article, I've reconstructed as best I can remember the quotes from the sacred writings of many churches via the magic of websearch.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them. Matthew 7:12 KJV

Bahai Faith:
Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee… Baha’u’llah

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Udana-Varga 5:18

Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. Mencius VII

This is the sum of duty: do not do unto others what would cause pain if done unto you. Mahabharata 5:1517

None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself. Number 13 of Imam

What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary. Talmud, Shabbat 31a

The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful. Tao Teh Ching, ch. 49

An harm it none, do what thou wilt. The Wiccan Rede

That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

Ancient Egyptian:
Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do. The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, translated by RB Parkinson. The original text dates to 1970-1640 BC and may be the earliest version ever written.

As I was thinking about these quotes, I was reminded of the time I was in the hospital with the badly screwed up thyroid meds. I quit breathing in ICU that first night. And while the whole experience is quite surreal, I remember the internal struggle between that part of me that wanted to stay and the part that kept saying 'it's too hard, I can't.' And I was aware of that last breath and of my spirit slipping out of my body. No... there was no white light, no welcoming committee of dead relatives and friends to greet me, no Jesus to pat me on the back and tell me my important and unique mission earth wasn't complete yet. I do remember being very much at peace and on the edge of a grand adventure - there was nothing fearful about it, just nothing spectacular either. And that's not the part of the experience that takes me back to ponder the lesson to be found in it.

What I find fascinating is the struggle between staying and going. My thoughts were about the people in my life and how they would be affected. Would they be okay? Would they figure out what I was doing with some project and be able to pick it up and finish? Did they know how much I loved them and cared about them? Every thought was consumed with people and my relationship with them. There was no care or consideration of what I did for a living, a bank balance or any possessions.

Kind of affirms that idea of a fundemental truth being we need to treat each other well, huh?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Back Up and Running

After a long (at least it felt long!) hiatus, I'm back up and running and typing my first blog entry on my new computer. What happened to the 'old' computer, you ask? Well... that can summed up in the names of my two young friends, Jon and Bryan. Little boys and expensive electronics are a deadly mix. Anyway it was deadly for the electronics!

Anyway, I got another notebook. An HP Pavilion dv4t-1000 Entertainment PC. I'm not sure I think it's the greatest, but it was cheap and I think it will fill my needs. After all I'm not a highly technical user. Right now my biggest complaint is the sound is kind of tinny like the very old $15 clock radio that wakes me up every morning.

Thanksgiving came and went and found me kind of boohooing my situation in life. It wasn't a very good holiday this year. Kind of sad and lonely. Besides I lost both of my girls that week. Lizzie went on to cat heaven on Tuesday and Mittens went right behind her on Friday. And since I feel myself getting all emotional, I don't think I'm quite ready to write about them or that experience quite yet. At least not beyond saying that we're going to try living life without a litter box.

For the last week the house has felt even more big and empty and lonely and in need of a family. But that's probably me... I'm only now starting to feel like I'm back on a level spot emotionally. Then again, it is a BIG house for just me.