Sunday, May 3, 2015

everyday wonder

Generally not a sky watcher, though making an exception tonight.

Over lunch yesterday a friend and I were discussing how some things in life are just flat out complicated, like calculus, taxes and figure skate scoring.

Much of our existence though falls into the 'simple, not easy' category.

Birth, parenting, love.  Goodbyes, diets, exercise.

Tonight's sky made me think there exists a third category.  Simple, complicated and wondrous. How else could I describe a big bang, producing more stars than imaginable, more light than can ever be seen, more synchronization than calculable, beginnings and endings in perfect harmony...and supporting all life along the way.

(C) 2015 Christopher's Views 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Looking ahead…and all around

The only deviation in my diet the past couple of days has been about how much butter I spread on my toast at each replicated meal…the Gatorade and tea remain unchangeable.

Perhaps I picked up a bug at the petting zoo, in the overly tepid hotel swimming pool, or from the Porta Potty (glad I uploaded the gross snow pic instead?) at the base of the tubing park visited last weekend with fav bud.
Of course…there is always the random chance of shaking the wrong hand.

And so, as I dream of jelly, and I attempt to erase memories of ‘sloppy’ the pig and a pool full of people that probably used the unkempt johns just before making their grand splash, I challenge myself to delete reminders of the winter hardships as well.
The shovel remains in my CR-V, but my back is feeling better.  The pot holes still multiply, but I’ve only had one flat tire.  I have enough shoe polish and stain lifter left to keep the corrosive rock salt at bay.

I moved from hating scarves to making one my friend. 
I learned how to bond with my son under 5 layers of clothing.

Then forced indoors, I gleefully smoked the fav 12 year old at an arcade racing game and was equally delighted when he handily brought me down playing chess on the rebound.
Yes, the winter was daunting.  Too long.  Too difficult.  Too cold.  Too windy.  Too immobilizing.

As March approaches, I will be hoping for a speedy transition of seasons.  And I know I won’t be alone in wishing for early cherry blossoms.

Before whispering into any night skies though, I need to make sure that I don’t delete the reminder about how challenges at our doorstep can sometimes beat a path to beauty in our own backyards.

© 2015 Christopher’s Views
And as Leonard Nimoy would add, “live long and prosper”.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

the calendar’s hullabaloo

Sunday, January 4th 2015, and firmly positioned on the testing grounds for New Year’s resolutions.  This morning’s rain and fog in New York convinced me to head to the treadmills at the gym instead of the hills at the park.  I was a bit surprised that the attendance there was sparse.  Usually it is difficult to get both a locker and my first choice of apparatus in January with all the newly inspired members revving up their regimens and commitments.

But today I got my customary locker and had pick of the best machines.  The faces around me were all regular’s…like a typical weekend morning.

I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.  For the good, I am not a fan of big crowds.  For the bad, maybe it means a lot of folks are at the pharmacy getting flu medicines filled. 

It’s not my thing to make a New Year’s resolution, but I do like the typical vows that I hear.  Promises to eat healthy, exercise, lose weight, quit smoking, join a book club, join a writing group, write a play, write a book, learn to dance, learn to swim, take up yoga, run a marathon, pray, meditate, go back to school, change careers, ask for a raise, clear out clutter, pay off debt, reduce stress, work on anger, slow down, start dating, skydive and take a vacation.
I’m sure there are some people who make New Year’s resolutions and successfully see them through to fulfillment.  They are probably the people who possess strong will power.
But most of the time when I hear people tell me of their success stories for changes in their lives it does not involve the calendar and most commonly involves the power of positive thinking, putting faith in God, or 'letting go and letting God', visualizing the future or writing down goals.
Resolutions aside, I try to move about my life as best I can with positive thoughts and faith.  Where faith is concerned I do not have an unwavering faith that God will always bring forth what I desire or that I will avoid pain and suffering.  It is more along the lines that I have faith I will be able to find comfort and happiness wherever I wind up. 
Mainly though, the New Year reminds me of the tricky parallel between life and time.  And that while there is often plenty of time for us to achieve our aspirations in life, time can likewise move us by in the click of a finger. 
I have a friend who recites mantras to me almost daily.  One of her favorites is ‘stay in your lane’.  She repeatedly texts and says the phrase as if honking and gesturing at me from behind.  For me, it is a reminder not to get sidetracked by others anger, regret, jealousy, judgment, hate or other malice.
Staying in my lane doesn’t mean I cannot stop, pause or even change directions. 
It just means that the path I choose ought to be plied with happiness, love, friendship and opportunity.

Otherwise, I am just on a bumpy ride with no idea when time is up. 

© 2015 Christopher’s Views

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Just breathing

Among the most difficult of all of life’s tasks, is to be in a relationship and yet to feel all alone.

After three decades together, my wife and I separated a couple of months ago, having fallen into that lonely place.

Battling through all the turmoil of emotions, lifestyle changes and financial considerations I have been managing day to day living okay. 

Staying in the day…that is the hard part.  I am not a person who likes to sit around.  I prefer to move around.  I work through most of my most pressing issues by going for a long run.  I am thoughtful, but I do not like to obsess.  I like to think up all the sides of a problem, decide on the best course of action…and then act…move on in essence.

As I am finding out, this long stretch of holiday season and merriment poses a barrier for anyone trying to work past such difficulties.

Add to that, my birthday was a few days ago. 

I thought (thoughtfully) that maybe dinner and a movie would move me on in the right direction. 

But, with that prospect not on the horizon, I spent yesterday realizing that only time will move me on in the right direction and no matter how fast I run I cannot outrun the present and into the future.

It took me all day, all night and until this morning to understand that.

I started off, of course, by moving.  This time in my car.  Driving aimlessly, as if sitting in front of a TV, but yet on the road.

At the end of my drive, I ended up in a dangerous place…a casino.  I played poker for about an hour.  Luckily for me, numbers unfold pretty rapidly in my head.  So even though I was still mostly aimless, I backed away from the table down only ten dollars when I accepted that this is a losing proposition all around. 

Clearer in my head, but without any real clarity, I drove home.  And at midnight, feeling too tired to think of waking early for my long Sunday morning run I was somehow compelled to search online for something quieter.

I came across yoga.  I had never once before stepped inside a yoga studio in my whole life.  The website I looked at mentioned slowing down our bodies to find a better place.  Thinking that maybe an opposite notion would be worth a try, I set my alarm to make it to the 8am session. 

I will say this gently….when I run…I make every noise known to man as I try to grunt and push my way through from pain to gain.

Yoga is not conducive to that method by a long stretch…or lunge…as I have come to know. 

For an hour and a half I followed along with an instructor and class and didn’t hear myself even breathe.  But I could feel my breath in all parts of my body.

I had slowed down enough for that to happen.  Slowed down to feel better, rather than ran to feel better.

Certainly, I will still run…but I will go back for more yoga as well.  Perhaps improving my balance.

And though I may still want to leap frog into another year and another place overnight, wiping the slate of loneliness clean, I have another tool to use…slow down today and look forward to tomorrow.

© 2014 Christopher’s Views

Monday, September 1, 2014

silence of the chairs

Points of reference over dates are my indicators.  Sample sized sunscreen becomes more appealing at checkout.

Worn down to acceptance, the flip flops are removed from the wiffle ball locker.  An end to sports camp pick-ups appears in sight.

Peace needs to be made with bananas again and so the affair with blueberries and peaches fizzles out.

Polo shirts are intermittently donned when confronted by a draw full of faded tees.

TV’s allure overtakes citronella candles on the patio. And baseball is eclipsed by football.

Grilled chicken becomes tasteless and a temporary inability to ingest iced tea ensues.

The running trail to the schoolyard is rediscovered and the road to the beach seems distant.

Writing in the basement may top reading by sunset and pouring over a schedule may keep a wine glass empty.

Unraveling the hose seems like a chore.

And the stage is set when four X’d out tennis balls have crossed my path on the workbench.

© 2014 Christopher’s Views

Monday, May 26, 2014

summer reading*

Given that a passion for writing is often linked with a zeal for reading I need to put up an asterisk.  I am not an avid reader of books and never have been. 
That’s not to say that when I do read, however, that I don’t read with passion.   

But for a long time, and for no specific reason other than time management, most of the books I’ve read have come off the shelves designated for sports or comedy. And nearly all the rest of my reading has revolved around essays and self help.
This past Christmas, I received a New York Times Bestseller as a gift.  No sports, no comedy and well…everything that’s good is self help I suppose…right? 

So there it was before me: ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed.  An inspiring memoir unfolded amid a solo long distance hike up the Pacific Crest Trail.  Ironically put in my lap by my fully citified daughter.   
Following the pattern that change often happens so slowly over time that it can’t be discerned, the sports and humor genres were safe in their thrones.  Weeks went by and I didn’t even crack the cover. 

Then on one of those bitter and snowy nights of this thankfully elapsed winter I picked up WILD and found a warm and quiet spot in my basement seated at the end of my futon and nearby a portable heater.  I read the first five chapters and was completely engaged in the style and substance of her writing.
Unfortunately none of the other snowstorms helped me with my time management and WILD sat tranquil on top of a nesting table at the other end of the futon, dog-eared at page seventy five until this weekend.

No mini vacation was in the plans for this Memorial Day.  And I was annoyed with myself that I didn’t go back to finish a book that I didn’t want to put down in the first place.
Once I finally picked it up again, resting it was difficult.  In between washing my car, playing wiffle ball with fav bud and a trip to the Bronx Zoo I obsessively read through the remaining 240 pages of this transformative human adventure. 

Almost always as I my mind was taken along this journey pulsating with fear, pain, grief, hunger, and loneliness I was feeling the faith, strength, happiness, contentment and love that Cheryl Strayed so perfectly sewed together.  Most enjoyable is that her forceful hike through the wilderness and her experiences on and off the trail avoid and go far beyond common catch phrases of change and inspiration and instead are hard, honest, simple and real recognitions.
I cannot imagine anyone reading this story while not rooting for Cheryl and amidst the heartache not also rooting for life well lived.

If you are searching for pages that are compelling, pivotal and moving while you place your toes in the sand this summer I would highly recommend picking up a copy of WILD, by Cheryl Strayed.
…And if any of you have summer reading recommendations…please don’t be shy.

© 2014 Christopher’s Views

Thursday, April 3, 2014

green, grey and approaching Earth Day

Plastic bags, bags, bags: they are everywhere.

Last Friday, on my way home from work, a rogue bag kite flew out from the wooded area along the Cross Island Pkwy and got caught in my front grille.  The bristling noise interrupted an attention grabbing-War of the Roses bit-on KTU. (sorry to those unfamiliar and from distant places)

Once untangled from the nose of my CRV the circulating winds may well have carried the fugitive bag toward Little Neck Bay and caused distress for a swan or an egret.

Weekend getaway frustration involves more than just dodging potholes.  I wondered if the event was triggered by the negligent disposal of another driver, or the untidy garbage collection of a nearby resident.

I grumbled above the radio, “Damn bags!”  Then I thought, “Damn dilemma”.

I tried to speculate if I could go Costco style on everything I purchase and lug each item, for all eternity, back home by transferring one or two at a time from cart to car and car to house. “Doubtful”, I muttered. “I’d snap, surely”, is the confirmed reply I issued to self.
Then my brain cramped a little more as I realized that I needed that flying bag kite back so I could clean the cat litter box later that night.  And my neighbor needs two to clean up after her dog.

I began thinking about Mayor de Blasio and the recently proposed NYC plan to subject plastic and paper bags to 10 cent penalties. 
As I approached the LIE merge, it dawned on me that I’ve also been missing out on the 5 cent per bag credit for packing with reusable’s that’s offered at my supermarket.

“Am I crazy?” I wondered aloud.  I really fell down on that one.  It’s better than coupons.  I can by a bushel of reusable bags, pack just a couple of items in each at checkout and walk away with about three bucks each time I shop.
But then between my ears I heard a voice say “maybe that’s the wrong spirit”.  We need to help the environment.  That’s the plan.  Yes, help the environment. 

Still driving along, and feeling fuzzy about the details, I had to put on hold any attempt at figuring out the dog poop with the bare hands quandary.  It’s just too complicated even with hands free technology.  But with a determination for openness I tried to presume that the research is done.  Right?  All this must have been carefully figured out to address the major culprit-those damn flimsy, omnipresent, flying high over ball fields and City and Town Halls everywhere-bag kites. 
Now with the sharp turn of my exit near I wanted to make a decision and so I declared “What the heck, I’ll try it, first thing in the morning I will go out and buy a bunch of those reusable bags”.

I guess there will be varieties and choices to make. 
Do I choose cotton, canvass or polypropylene bags?  Do I look for bags made in the USA?  Or maybe since I’m new to this I should just stick with the cheapest products.  Yes, that makes sense; browse the section made in China or elsewhere around the globe.  The bags smartly produced on much more raw material and energy.  The well traveled bags demanding enormous fossil fuel consumption on their trek back from Asia.  The colorful, stylish bags made without any trepidation of lead blends in the paints and dyes.

The bags that I will vow never to leave at home, or in the other car, or with my son at his Little League practice.  The magical bags that will avoid contamination by spills and bacteria and muck and mud and that will live on in the trunk of my car for perpetuity. 
The liberating reusable’s that I promise to monitor and cherish with honor and full disclosure.  The esteemed bags upon which I solemnly swear to not accept credit for when hauling home cardboard and hard plastic packaged vitamin supplements or thick plastic detergent bottles.  And conversely, I pledge to speak up when the gentlemen next to me buying pineapples in his kite bag at the express line is penalized.

Finally now, I reached home.  Radio off.  No more thinking or research.  Just action. 
But then, with keys in hand, as I tripped on my winter weary and organic lawn a different vision and vow came to mind.

An environmental vow that is void of vagueness.  A vow that has clarity and that doesn’t involve a lot of math, variables and time charts in order to pick the slightly lesser of two evils.
It goes like this. I will care about our aquifers and waterways.  I will care about our wildlife and cancer risks and will not use even one ounce of chemicals and pesticides between my picket fences as we move headlong into landscaping season.

It is a simple vow that requires no substitutes.  Grass already knows how to grow without chemicals.  It’s been happening for millions of years.
I closed the door behind me and thought, bags, bags, bags: we need to conserve and contain them. 

Water, water, water: we need to love and respect it. 
© 2014 Christopher’s Views