The Recovering Farmer

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stop The World

There is a song that is titled Stop The World And Let me Off. It’s a song that tells the story of broken love. The following has nothing to do with broken love. It is the title itself that came to mind this week, as it has often over the years. Let me tell you why.

We live in a time of increasing technology. From cell phones to email. From Skype to video conferencing. There is Facebook,Twitter, and Linkedin. I was watching a movie the other day and in this particular show a person was running around looking for a payphone. Not something that you see very often anymore because everyone has a cell phone. It did happen to me recently. I was on my way to Winnipeg and needed to make a phone call. I obviously grabbed my cell phone to make the call. I was out of luck. Because of a misunderstanding my cell phone had been disconnected. Okay, truth be told, the misunderstanding was really a matter of not having paid my bill. None the less, I was in a real jam. I was an hour from the nearest payphone. I panicked. I felt my anxiety building. I was going through withdrawal. I kept telling myself that it was okay. But, unfortunately, I had become dependent on being able to get connected whenever and wherever I wanted. I truly felt lost. When I finally found a payphone I had no idea how to use it. I no longer have a calling card number. I didn’t have the right change. In my quest to get reconnected, I ran into a friend I had not seen in twenty five years. He wanted to chat, I couldn’t concentrate. It was brutal. Long story short, I was able to get reconnected but blew an opportunity to visit with an old friend. I should have slowed down, taken a breath and appreciated the moment. Surely the world could have waited.

This week I, again, ran into a problem with my phone. Long story short all my contacts, appointments, and emails were erased from the phone. I was disconnected. My life felt out of control. I needed to respond to messages, emails and texts. I needed to set up more appointments. But I couldn’t. I was lost. I had no idea where to start. I am all too aware of other technology that already exists. And each day we are bombarded about new stuff coming down the line. The phone I bought last month is already out dated. The computer I bought a year ago is archaic. Where will it end? How can I keep up? What next? Stop the world and let me off.

With this available technology one must take time to reflect on the impact all this has on our wellbeing. Patricia Katz, a productivity and balance strategist, wrote in a blog recently about the negative impact social media can have on our mental and emotional state. ( She talked about falling into a trap of comparison. When I read that I had an ah ha moment. I often find myself comparing myself to others. Becoming judgemental of other’s opinions. And regardless of how content I am with my life I find myself becoming agitated and discontented. Seemingly never satisfied.

The challenge becomes to be able to pace ourselves in a fast paced world. Instead of spending hours on the internet, on cell phones or other types of social media, take the time to connect one on one. Take a minute to talk to the cashier at the grocery store, the person filling your gas tank. Someone you meet on the sidewalk. It can be truly inspiring when you take the time to chat with others. To stop dwelling on your own issues and to become curious about people around you. You will be pleasantly surprised at the positive impact this will have on your life. Make it a good one.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Some January Musings

Okay, actually some frivolous and vexatious thoughts and a question. I need help with the question. Read to the end and help me out.

The professional golf season started last week. Awesome. It was great to watch golf again. The season always starts in Hawaii. It looked beautiful. Wish I could have been there. It was great to see an “older” professional win. In fact, Steve Stricker was the second oldest winner of this season opening tourney. He is turning 45 this week. I took some pleasure in that, thinking that perhaps there is hope for me. I mean with my golf game. This week a Canadian is atop the leader board after the first day. From Weyburn, Saskatchewan none the less. Go Graham Delaet.

What’s up with the weather? Bizarre. Breaking all kinds of records. Will make the winter shorter. Good stuff. It was interesting to note that on January 5 the temperature at 7:30 in the morning was plus 1. It warmed up to plus 8 that day. I recall going for a round of golf late last fall, October 4th to be exact, when the temperature was minus 2 at 7:30 in the morning and it only warmed up to plus 7 during the day. It was a nicer day for golf in January. Go figure. I remember a similar January back in 1984. Then an older gentleman suggested to me that the last time this happened was in 1948. Well, I can’t remember that.

Speaking of nice weather. On Tuesday, January 10, I washed windows. On the outside. Bare hands. No problem. Two things strange about that. Number one, when is the last time you could wash windows in January? Oh right. 1948. I already forgot. The second strange thing about this is that I washed windows. That’s right. Me, myself and I. My wife suggested that I had never washed windows before. I suspect she was wondering what ailment had befallen me. So why now? It seems that a couple of birds had it in for us this year and crapped on a few of our windows. Reminds me of . . . Doesn’t matter. I washed the windows. Proof that there is always hope for change.

One of my friends on Facebook threw out a challenge that everyone should check out what the number one song was the week they were born. Interesting. My first thought was that I would not recognize the song as that is a few years ago. Later than 1948 but a lot earlier than when I started listening to secular music. (That, again, is a story best left for another day) So I googled it. Was surprised. I know the song well. “Heartaches By The Number”. Who would have thought it? Never knew that song was that old. It has been sung by different folks through the years. I imagine I could write a separate narrative on that song and how it relates to my life. I will abstain, for the time being. It might be too depressing.

On to my question. My son and I have been having a discussion. It has been interesting. The question is this. Do things happen for a reason or do we just have the ability to garner positives out of negative events in our lives? I have mentioned in previous blogs how many of my friends, colleagues, family members and clients are experiencing challenges in their lives. Health threats, jobs that did not materialize, a miscarriage, accidents and loss of loved ones. Perhaps that initiated the discussion. It seems that my son and I are in agreement on this point. Before I divulge my thoughts I would like to hear from you. Give it some thought and please let me know what you think. In the meantime here’s to longer days and warmer sunshine. Make it a good one.

Friday, January 13, 2012

An “Oh Crap” Moment

We spent New Year’s eve with some friends this year. Probably sounds normal to most of you. However it had been a few years since we actually did anything exciting to bring in the New Year. Usually we stay at home and find it difficult to stay awake till midnight. However, not this year. Like I said, we spent the evening with friends. Learned a new card game. Interesting, to say the least. A game with no winners. Only losers. The long and short of it is you play the game and when you are not able to lay down a card you throw all your cards on the table and say “oh crap”. I still maintain that I won the game. Needless to say I was reminded frequently that there are no winners, just losers. Doesn’t do much for self-esteem. But, I suppose, perhaps I did not win but I also did not lose. Ah ha.

Playing the game I was reminded of some moments in my life when I get that “oh crap” feeling. You know how you feel when you reflect on a conversation. When you think back to something you did. When you start telling a joke and realize half way through that you have ruined it before you even get to the punch line. I showed my kids the Woof Woof blog from a few weeks ago. My daughter informed me the riddle I asked did not make sense. Took a look and sure enough, I had written it wrong. Yeah, that’s what I am talking about. You cringe. You feel embarrassed. You hope no one noticed. You hope no one heard you. You feel sheepish. And all you can do is mutter “oh crap”.

Perhaps this happens to some more than others. It has been somewhat bizarre lately. I had a flashback to something that happened thirty plus years ago. It is almost like your life flashing in front of your eyes. You hear of people who have had accidents or close calls talk about time standing still. I could never relate to that till two years ago when I almost collided with a snow plow. It is intriguing, to say the least, how it seems like time is standing still. In that moment you have time to examine all options to avoid the inevitable. You think about family. You wonder what will be said. All of that in a matter of two or three seconds. A crystal clear image that never leaves your mind.

Back to my flash backs. I told a friend about these flashbacks that I was having. I was wondering whether I was losing my mind. It felt strange. Found out that others experience the same thing. Made me feel better. Normal. At least I think. Perhaps my friend is not normal either. But then again, what is normal? I have been told that normal is only a setting on a dryer. Certainly not anything that defines your life. Okay, I am going with what I got. Flashbacks be d***ed.

Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, wrote an interesting poem called The Guest House. He refers to “this being human is a guest house”. Interesting. Based on the poem I would suggest that my flashbacks could be referred to as a momentary awareness. Has a much nicer ring to it. The poem goes on to explain how this momentary awareness is an unexpected visitor. A visitor we should “welcome and entertain”. Whether it’s a “dark thought, shame, the malice”. Perhaps “a joy, a depression or meanness”. We should welcome them all as “each has been sent as a guide from beyond”. What a perspective. To embrace the thoughts and feelings we have. To use these thoughts and feelings as a guide. In some way make us better. Improve our lives. Make it a good one.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Woof Woof

So I am enjoying a peaceful ride into Brandon to spend the day at the office. I am enjoying some classic rock music, just kind of zoned out. Not even experiencing any road rage, yet. Key word being yet. The word “yet” reminds me of an old riddle. Little Johnny drove his bike across the bridge and yet he walked. How is that possible? Read on. I will provide an answer. I digress. Back to my peaceful ride. The announcer comes on and informs the listeners that they have discovered a new cure for baldness. That piqued my interest. Baldness has been part of my life for many years. Never gave it much thought. Never worried much about it. Certainly not like some other people I know. Always accepted it as a part of life. Certainly never considered a comb over. Seen some real doozies out there.

The concern I have had, over the years, has been the shape of my head. If you ever take the time to study, I use the term loosely, men’s heads, you will notice that the shape of the head dictates how acceptable baldness is. Many heads have a nice round, sculpted shape. I don’t enjoy that luxury. When I look at the top of my head I notice a distinct ridge running down the middle. Somewhat similar to ice when it heaves under pressure. Something has to give and so it creates ridges. That is my dilemma. A ridge. See, if it wasn’t for the ridge I would even contemplate getting a buzz cut. Even try shaving my head. But no, I am dealing with a ridge.

So back to the cure. The announcer suggested that dog hormones was the next cure. Really. Dog hormones. The thought is that because dogs grow thicker fur for the winter, dog hormones injected in men would increase the ability to grow hair. Think about this. Brings on a host of questions. Of course, I wonder what the side effects would be. Would I start chasing cars? Would I bark every time the door bell rings? Would I have an over whelming urge to drink from a toilet bowl? How about fire hydrants, tires, and anything else a dog likes to pee on? Not sure it is worth it. Woof.

The bigger question is, who actually did the research on this? Who paid for this research? It would seem to me that there would be more important places to spend research dollars. Then again, the way some people try to cover their baldness ???? Perhaps not.

Just about when my mind was overwhelmed with questions regarding dog hormones I pulled up behind a long line of traffic because someone decided that they were not going to drive the speed limit. Thank goodness I could get my thinking back to drivers on the road inconveniencing everyone around them. Got the adrenaline going. Found myself getting irritated. Was feeling normal again. Forgot about baldness. Was reminded of the advice from a co-worker. Breath. I need to breath. Get myself back to the present. Ahhh. Feel better already.

So, have you figured out the answer to the riddle? “Yet” was his dog. Don’t get it? Go back and read the riddle again. It will make sense, eventually. As for me, back to work. But believe me, I think the world is going to the dogs. Make it a good one.