Kissed My Comfort Zone Goodbye

comfort zone2Over time my comfort zone has become something of a trap; safe and comfortable, but stifling to my growth and realization of my dreams. My ‘rut’ is a sweet pill similar to “Soma” that Aldous Huxley described in “Brave New World”: … a quite impenetrable wall between the actual universe and… mind…

A little rhyme Huxley included about “Soma” is:
Hug me till you drug me, honey;
Kiss me till I’m in a coma;
Hug me, honey, snuggly bunny;
Love’s as good as Soma.

Psychologists have long told us that “man tends toward pleasure and the path of least resistance”. There is some deep down desire to get benefits without any more work or discomfort than absolutely necessary. Given a choice between something that is neutral and something that gives pleasure, humans most often choose the latter.  Today I throw off another layer of the old to embrace the new that comes with a fresh year tomorrow. 2 0 1 3 is going to be a remarkable year!

I used to have a comfort zone
Where I knew I couldn’t fail.
Same four walls and busy work,
Were really more like jail.

I longed to do the things
I’d never done before,
But I stayed inside my comfort
Zone and paced the same old floor.

I claimed to be so busy with
The things inside my zone,
But deep down inside I longed
For something special of my own,

I took a step with new strength
I’d never felt before.
I kissed my comfort zone good-bye
And closed and locked the door.
Taken from “I Used to Have a Comfort Zone” – Author Unknown

Just because a tendency is “normal” does not mean I must succumb to it. However, it takes a conscious leap of faith to move past my comfort zone. I am ready to make it and grateful that 2013 will be the year where I take big steps to break free and embrace my dreams.

It does not take a new day
To make a brand new start,
It only takes a deep desire
To try with all our heart.
So never give up in despair
And think that you are through,
For there’s always a tomorrow
And the hope of starting new.
From “Another Chance” by Helen Steiner Rice

One Step at a Time

rear-view-mirrorIn a backwards look it is relatively easy to see how my life moved from one point to another even thought back then forward momentum seemed to be straight into fog. Everything ahead was obscured and I gave little thought to what I was doing or how my actions were shaping my future life. In a way I was like the fish who did not know he lived in water, except my pond was a lake of dysfunctional behavior.

I was dripping in pain, loneliness and self-induced delusion when I wrote “Alone”. It’s interesting that a man wrote it but the feelings are those of a child begging to be loved echoing within.

I am alone now,
No one to talk to but myself.
All others have gone,
or else forsaken me long ago.
I look inward,
But only a hallow do I find,
Love inside,
But no one who wants it.
Why am I never good enough,
Why don’t I get loved more?
Why do those who say they care
Hurt me so much?
I cry alone…..

Over twenty years ago “Mistakes” was an partial and incomplete list of the mistakes I believed I had made to date.

I choose the wrong parents or else they choose me.
I grew up wanting love and getting little.
I give too much in my desire to be wanted and loved.
I married the wrong person.
I should have stayed single till much older.
I am too troubled to have a relationship with most people.
I am too good at my work and capable at little else.
I choose the wrong career.
I live in the wrong place.
I have driven away the love of my life.
I am sick because I did not take care of myself.
I managed money badly and had a car repossessed when young.
I was deceitful with women.
I have long loved someone outside marriage.
I have lied to have time with the one I love.
I have denied relations to my marriage partner because I love another.
I have stayed married.
I have a job I am good at but don’t like much.
I like more money than is healthy.
I am weak and need others for strength.
I need the one I love too much.
I express my love too openly to the one I love.
I should be stronger and more silent with love.
I stole a camera when I was 17.
I have not made a difference in this life.
I have been too self-centered.
I have expected too much of others.
I have been too selfish.
I have hurt others In business and messed up lives.
I failed the one I love.
I destroyed what the love of my life once felt for me.
I feel sorry for myself too much.
… Mistakes…
only a few of thousands…
oh, to have time to do it over again and right the wrongs…

These days I find myself wishing I had journaled or kept better notes of my thoughts and feelings of my 20s and 30s. However, am grateful for the random files I have found in the last few days that I wrote back in the early to mid 90’s. Seeing flashes of my old self mirrored through time illustrates how well recovery can work. “It works if you work it” is the saying often spoken at the end of 12 step meetings. As flimsy as that might initially sound to many, it’s true beyond what an uninvolved person can grasp. One step at a time, one day at a time: it works.

Happy trails to you,
until we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It’s the way you ride
the trail that counts,
Here’s a happy one for you.
From the song “Happy Trails” by Dale Evans

True Hope Is Made of This

2570539380102335886S425x425Q85Writing yesterday about a great love of long ago and mentioning losing her was the beginning of my demise into dysfunction has turned out to be an interesting piece of serendipity. The spiral that began back then is illustrated by what I was writing in the early to mid 90s. Purely by chance while looking for an old file, I came across these last night


Why do I love those incapable of loving me as much in return?
Why do those who profess love to me hurt me so easily?
Why do those I love have to say “I’m sorry” so much?
Why can’t they just do different instead?

Why do I care if I live,
Since I care the most if I do.
I yearn for someone to make me live,
and want to be,
and give me a future to believe in.
Life without hope,
Without possibility,
Is such nothing.

Then, WHY am I?


Is there a woman who can love me as much as I love her?
Is there a woman who can believe in me as I do her?
Is there a woman who can support me as much as I do her?
Is there a woman who can help me as much as I do her.

Where is the woman who could hold me when I need to be held?
Where is the woman who can make my trouble go away?
Where is the woman that can give me strength?
Where is the woman who won’t doubt me?

Where is the woman who can love without demand
and know I would give all if she did?
Where is the woman?
Are you her?

Reading these was a pleasant wake up call to how far I have come, how much more peace is in my soul and how much better I understand love between a man and a woman. I no longer look for value and esteem outside myself as I once did. What a miracle! Gratitude washes over me as I write. I am highly thankful!

Though our hearts are not together,
Sweet fondness dreams of this:
I long to hear her laughter,
I long for just a kiss.
Though her eyes are elsewhere shining,
And warm embraces do I miss,
Yet passion’s song is mellow still,
For true hope is made of this.
“Absence” by Danny Rowden

Deep-Burning and Unquenchable

GriderEngagement005Many events of my life, both good and bad, have faded over time. There are exceptions such as the emotions of a particular time twenty-five years ago that have remained vividly alive. Emotionally it felt like being stretched and pulled apart between two horses. I’ve carried the self-inflicted wound, inside and unseen, long enough. Telling buried secrets stop them from poisoning the soul, so here goes…

My Father left my Mother, Brother and I shortly after my 7th birthday for another woman who was pregnant with his child. The devastation and bewilderment caused me to make a little boy promise to myself: someday if I had children I would never leave them like my Father left me.

Fast forward to 1987; I’m 35, have been married twelve years and have a beautiful young son who is five years old. A restless feeling about the marriage won’t leave me alone and slowly is getting worse. The birth of my boy soothed that away for a time, but by his fifth year feeling I wanted more had returned. The Mother of my son is a caring and good person who I learned a lot about the love of family from. I will always be grateful to her and her parents who accepted me openly and gave me a sense of belonging never experienced before. There was a problem though, I was no longer “in love” with her by the mid 80s when she unexpectedly became pregnant.

The first amends necessary is to B., my first wife. I should have been a man, stood strong and expressed my feelings. The high road would have been to do what was necessary to save the marriage or move on. But I didn’t. Until a few years ago I always put the reason for my weakness and lack of action on my childhood promise to never desert a child of mine. I know even today that was a good portion of my motivation then (or lack of it), but nowhere near the complete explanation.

In my desire not to hurt anyone, I have done nothing far too often. Saying goodbye to a lover has always been very, very difficult for me. Crippled by inaction I accomplished the opposite of my intentions repeatedly in romantic love relationships. I left a path of hurt and pain, not the least of which was to me.

There is no further explanation needed to explain I was ripe to fall in love with another woman in 1987. I met her on a business trip and she was so many things women I had been romantically involved with before were not. Including the woman I was married to, my tendency had been to gravitate to dependent women. K. was instead a breath-taking beauty who was strong, self-sufficient and successful. She had no need for a caretaker but now in her late 20s was ready to make a commitment and settle down. We fell head over heals in love, but did not find a happy ending.

Time has a way of creating rearward facing clarity. The late 80’s were when the spiral into my dysfunctions began in earnest. I became far too good at deception (although years later I learned not nearly as good as I thought at the time), but I sure did deceive myself and hurt a lot of people in the process.

Absolutely and without doubt I loved K. and to this day believe she loved me. In the early months she and I shared it was my sincere intention to get a divorce so we could be together. For a year and a half we shared long weekends every month or so and even managed to pull off a week-long vacation once that contained some of the most beautiful moments I’ve known. K. and I were well matched from intellect to emotion to politics and food. For a time there was no doubt in either of us that we’d be together the rest of our lives.

Ultimately I did not have the courage to do what was necessary. I never could find the strength to ask my first wife for a divorce. About a year and a half into our relationship K. did the right thing, ended our relationship and moved on with her life. We stayed in touch casually once in a while for another ten years until I began a serious relationship that became my second marriage. A good bit of the mementos of K. and I went up in smoke from my fireplace then. The most treasured keepsakes I sent to her with a note saying I could not longer have contact with her which she honored.

I have written all this to cast four admissions into the world on K.’s behalf: 1) The love I expressed to her was true and real 2) There is a part of my heart that will always belong to her 3) I will always be grateful she loved me,  and,  4) I have carried profound regret for hurting you hidden inside me now for 25 years. I am so very, very sorry. I am grateful for the relief admitting the truth just brought me.

Love is like a friendship caught on fire.
In the beginning a flame, very pretty,
often hot and fierce,
but still only light and flickering.
As love grows older,
our hearts mature
and our love becomes as coals,
deep-burning and unquenchable.
Bruce Lee

A Precious Privilege

michael-yamashita-landscape-travel (1)

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder

is a quote by G.K. Chesterton I have personal proof of.

Gratefulness has a power to attract what I need and hope for; people from the past I lost but wanted to make contact with; money I needed arrived unexpectedly. With a grateful mind I sleep better; I am more productive; ALL my relationships are improved; life tastes better; I have more to look forward to. On and on to the point of near ad nauseam, beyond a doubt this has been proven to me in the last two years of writing here about gratitude every day.

Researchers in the field of gratitude, Psychologists Robert Emmons at the University of California at Davis, and Michael McCullough, at the University of Miami, have learned what I know without research: gratitude is really good for you.

In an experimental comparison Emmons and McCullough found people who take the time to keep a gratitude journal on a regular basis exercised more often, reported fewer physical issues, generally felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who kept track of hassles or neutral life events. Another benefit found was participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to make progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based).

Other Research has turned up physiological benefits of gratitude. It has been found when we think about someone or something we really appreciate and experience the feeling that goes with the thought, the parasympathetic – calming-branch of the autonomic nervous system – is triggered. This pattern when repeated brings a protective effect to the heart. The electromagnetic heart patterns of volunteers tested become more coherent and ordered when they activated feelings of appreciation.

There is evidence that when we practice bringing attention to what we appreciate in our lives, more positive emotions emerge. In a sort of positive pyramid effect, the more I pause to appreciate and show caring and compassion, the more order and coherence I experience internally.

Thank goodness research on gratitude has now challenged the idea of a “set point” for happiness. It was previously accepted that just as our body has a set point for weight, each person probably had a genetically determined level of happiness. Once upon a time I bought into that and believed since I suffered from moderate depression at times, I was doomed to have a set point of lowered happiness. Research on gratitude now suggests that people can move their set point upward to some degree, enough to have a measurable effect on both their outlook and their health. This works. My altered for the better state of mind is proof.

Emmons and McCullough said the following to their research subjects:
Cultivate a sense of gratitude’’ means that you make an effort to think about the many things in your life, both large and small, that you have to be grateful about. These might include particular supportive relationships, sacrifices or contributions that others have made for you, facts about your life such as your advantages and opportunities, or even gratitude for life itself, and the world that we live in. In all of these cases you are identifying previously unappreciated aspects of your life, for which you can be thankful.

Over a hundred and fifty years ago Ralph Waldo Emerson knew this when he wrote, the invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.

A metaphor for my experience of focusing on gratitude is comparing it to exercise and physically work out. If I had spent an hour or more EVERY day for over a year and a half working out and getting exercise, I would be in the best physical condition of my life. The level of happiness I have and the belief I have in the future good that will come to me are at “body-builder” levels. Gratitude is the magic “supplement” that has made it so.

When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege
it is to be alive, to breathe, to think,
to enjoy, to love; then make that day count!
From “Life, the Truth and Being Free: by Steve Maraboli

Not Just For Now, But For Always

somewhere-in-time montage“The man of my dreams has almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of man each woman dreams of, in the deepest and most secret reaches of her heart. I can almost see him now before me. What would I say to him if he were really here? Forgive me. I have never known this feeling. I have lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder, then, I failed to recognize you? You, who brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you”. Such would I say to him if he were really here.”

Those words are spoken by Jane Seymour in her character Elise McKenna in a movie that’s now thirty-two years old. As I typed those words my mind screamed, “It can’t have been that long. It just can’t be. Thirty years?!” Logic responds and ways “yes, time has flown by”.

Although not included in Richard Matheson’s book, Elise’s words in the “Somewhere In Time” movie are spoken as a famous actress on stage in 1912 to “the one” she has just fallen in love with (Richard Collier played by Christopher Reeve). Few more beautiful words to express love have ever been written.

“Somewhere In Time” has been described as overly sentimental by those who do not have the well-developed romantic nerve that runs through every fiber of my being. Many of my favorite movies are love stories which have received the same criticism. I simply don’t care and feel sorry for those who can’t know the same deep feelings. It’s a terrible loss they will never be aware of.

The 1980 movie has a deep and special meaning to me that connects me to someone I loved long ago. Clear in my memory is holding hands watching it with tears appearing for both of us more than once as we watched. The shared emotion brought us closer. It’s only a memory, but a dear one I cherish. Feeling so does not mean I wish to go back there and instead speaks of my reverence for time “she and I” shared long ago.

It is sad to me that many people have old, dear memories they hide away and never share. The politics of many relationships make talking about someone from the past difficult and inadvisable. Such behavior is why many people live together for years, yet don’t know know each other. Ego and insecurity are great curses on romance.

Until my memories were awakened I did not become aware that the fictional “anniversary” for the characters in “Somewhere in Time” was this past summer. In the story the special day Elise and Richard share was June 12, 1912. This past June marked one hundred years from that date.

In reading about the movie I was thrilled to learn it is being turned into a musical with a world premier on May 31, 2013 for a five-week run at Portland Center Stage, Portland, OR. My hope is it succeeds and goes national so I get to see it.

How grateful I am for that old movie and the past romance it brings back into fully dimensioned memory. Such feelings and words melt my heart: “There is so much to say. I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you.” WOW!

They wouldn’t understand,
and I don’t feel the need to explain,
simply because I know in my heart how real it was.
When I think of you, I can’t help smiling,
knowing that you’ve completed me somehow.
I love you, not just for now,
but for always, and I dream of the day
that you’ll take me in your arms again.
From “Dear John” by Nicholas Sparks

Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure…

MilitaryXmasReadily I admit I fought through watery eyes to get this retyped here. Though I did not serve in the military, I have known many good men and women who did. While the poem was written specifically by a Marine for Marines, I have placed it here as a tribute to all military men and women, past and present. I honor and thank you. By your efforts I am able to celebrate Christmas quietly and without fear.

“Merry Christmas, My Friend”
T’was the night Before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree,
No stockings by the mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen,
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read,
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted into sleep
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still
I noticed he shivered from the cold nights chill.
I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over and in a voice clean and pure,
said, “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and good night.

Although attributed to many and often amended, what I have included here is the original poem in its original form written by James M. Schmidt in 1986. In December 2002, he set the record straight about the poem’s origin when he wrote “The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th and I, Washington, DC, under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers, I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the Gym in BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine”.

Please share this blog with others in honor of our veterans and soldiers.

From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge,
to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq,
our soldiers have courageously answered when called,
gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor.
Solomon Ortiz

Peacefulness Within

Christmas-Presents-dIt’s Christmas Eve and I feel genuinely happy for the second year in a row. Little outside of me has changed. I still have my share of issues, troubles and things to sort out. However, what is inside me has grown to be mostly mellow and calm. There is a peacefulness within that allows me to be more fully present in the moment than ever before. And that is the gift I am most grateful for.

Love Was Born at Christmas

It has been a lot of years since I can remember having the spirit of Christmas alive and frolicking within as I do this year. It could easily be true I have never been this happy at this time of year.  The little boy who lives inside me is enjoying reports of Santa’s progress in my direction.  The grownup within is dazzled by the feeling inside that sparkles and shines brightly like the lights of the season.  My eyes see Christmas. My ears hear the music.  My mouth tastes the food.  My nose smells the trees.  My touch feels bows and wrapping paper.  My heart is soft and childlike, yet touched deeply in mature ways.  Santa is coming.  Christ-mas is near.   

Eva K. Logue
A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away;
While quite unselfish, it grows small.

Emily Matthews
From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another
The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.

Christina Rossetti
Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.

Phillips Brooks
The earth has grown old with its burden of care
But at Christmas it always is young,
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air,
When the song of angels is sung.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men!

Helen Lowrie Marshall
The merry family gatherings –
The old, the very young;
The strangely lovely way they
Harmonize in carols sung.
For Christmas is tradition time
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish,
And loves we used to know. 

Calvin Coolidge
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.
To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Augusta E. Rundel
Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.
It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.

If only for a day, the world will be just a little safer, a little more peaceful and life will arrive with a little more kindness.  Even the bad guys and criminals are not quite as busy on Christmas.  For every gift ever received I am grateful.  For every hardship and lack that taught to appreciate them I am even more thankful. Merry Christmas!

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys,
showing that no thing else in life need to be taken seriously,
and that Christmas Day in the company of children
is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive
Robert Lynd

No Money and No Home

11Being the fifth car back from the traffic light I could not see her once my car came to a stop. But as I was pulling up into my position to wait for red to become green on the traffic light the woman’s handmade sign was easy to read except the bottom portion her hands holding it obscured: “Homeless Family, needs money for gas…”

I feel for such people who have swallowed their pride to become beggars on a street corner, but have conflicting thoughts about how legitimate their need is and how they will use the money. After all I have read and heard, I am always suspicious.

In the past I have responded to a signs like “No Money, Need Food” by offering to take a beggar to a restaurant and buy them a meal, but I have never had any takers. They simply wanted money and nothing else. It’s estimated the average sign bearer working a busy intersection takes in $100 to $300 per day if they are dedicated. Pan-handling this way five weekdays out of ten and taking in $100 per day would net $13,000 tax-free per year. Working the same amount and getting $300 a day would equal three times that or $39,000. Treated like a real “job” where every other week was not taken “off” these amounts would double.

On-line there are numerous pages of panhandling hints like this:

1- Swallow your pride. You’re going to have to suck it up and be humble.
2- Remember what you’re offering. People give you money because it makes them feel good.
3- Clean up. Before you begin, make an effort to look presentable.
4- Make a sign. A simple sign tells your story—it’s advertising, plain and simple.
5- Find a suitable location. The more traffic you can get, the better.
6- Smile and greet people courteously. You’d be surprised how far a smile will go.
7- Ask for money directly and softly.
8- Remember the regulars. Remember people who give you money regularly.
9- Thank everybody. If someone gives you money, show your appreciation.
10- Offer a small token of thanks. Something cheap and easy, even a painted bottle cap will do.

Yesterday, just before the light changed, the woman holding the “Homeless Family…” sign came into view as she walked to an older SUV parked nearby and spoke to a child in the passenger front seat. The boy looked to be 10 or 12 and I could not help but wonder what he was learning from watching his Mother beg for money. Will the experience entice him to do the same thing and believe he can live without working? Or will it give him strength and determination to try and never be in the same situation.

Red became green and as I passed by the corner the woman was just arriving back at her corner position from talking to her son. The woman and boy remained in my thoughts on and off through out the day with me wondering what their real situation was and what sort of Christmas they might have. In my youth I was never homeless and hungry only because friends took me in for a few weeks while I got back on my feet. I am grateful to them to this day for their help and for what I was taught by having no money and no home.

These are people who never, ever would have
imagined themselves being homeless. Ever!
If you really talk to a large cross-section of people,
you realize that they’re not that different
from us or our uncles or our aunts.
It’s like we know these people.
Linda Murphy

Passage of Time

Christmas-Gifts-Christmas-Globes-Fresh-New-Hd-Wallpaper EDIT--Every year people sharing exchanges about how quickly Christmas has arrived again is a common as leaves on the ground. And there’s plenty of talk about how fast another year has evaporated. At this point in my life, it feels kind of like a year has been shortened to last four months with a each one representing a full season. Twelve months ago in early December, 2011 I posted a piece about rapidly passing time. As I continue my “stay-cation’ and general laziness within the richness of time off, I share it again.

If I had a dollar for every time I have exchanged a thought recently with someone about how fast times passes there’d be at least an extra hundred bucks in my pocket!  The shared lamenting is often about how close Christmas already is or how fast it seems to have crept up on us.  Or there is consternation about the speed 2011 has evaporated with.  This morning the passage of time popped in my head as a good subject to do a free-form journey in words to aid me getting to a point just out of reach at this moment.

Clocks are a fascination of mine which led me to take apart my parents windup alarm clock with a screwdriver when I was four years old.  I literally wanted to see “what made it tick”.  While there was no visual explanation for me to find inside the clock about its “ticking”, I did get to marvel at all those little parts which would not go back together.  Even my parents had no luck reassembling it and little ole me got into big trouble for my curiosity.

Old clocks have been an interest for years and at one point I possessed twenty-one antique seven-day mechanical wall and mantle clocks.  Once upon a time on each Saturday approximately one hour was spent winding them all each week and setting the correct time.  In my home there was quite a symphony of bells at the top of every hour.  As the days went by each week the onslaught of chiming began about five minutes before the hour until about five past as the slow runners were late to ring and the clocks running fast rang early.  It was quite a chore when the daylight savings time change came each fall and all the clocks had to be set back an hour.  Mechanical clock hands can not be moved backwards so I had to move the hands forward and let the clock chime on every hour and half hour before getting back around to the correct time.

Our awareness of time is so acute today, but it was not always so.  In a favorite book “The Discoverers”, Daniel J. Boorstin points out mechanical clocks did not even exist until late in the 14th century and fairly accurate ones did not come along until a hundred years later.  The first people known to consistently measure time were the Egyptians who divided the day into two 12-hour time periods using a sort of sun-dial.  This method of dividing each day was picked up by other civilizations and became standardized in Latin:  “ante meridiem” (A.M.”before midday”) and “post meridiem” (P.M., “after midday”).  The Egyptians along with the Greeks and Chinese also developed water clocks which were followed by hourglasses.  Candle clocks were used in Japan, England and Iraq and something called a timestick was used in India, Tibet and parts of Europe.

For century’s most people were concerned with the passage of a day and but not about the passing of an hour and certainly not of something as small as a minute.  Beginning about five hundred years ago the first widely dispersed time pieces were town or church clocks which chimed one time on the hour.  Some of the earliest were in France and we get the word “clock” from the French word “cloche” which means bell.  For several hundred years a single chime noted the passing of an hour because almost every one was illiterate and could not count.  So our awareness of time (or is it obsession?) is a more modern affliction.

Being one of those with great curiosity who asks “why” a lot I began in childhood to drive adults crazy with inquisitiveness.  Clearly in memory is asking a 5th grade teacher why our number system was based on 10 and yet we use a system of 60 to tell time (60 seconds to a minute, etc).  She got frustrated I think because she did not know the answer and shooed me away, so I looked it up.  What I found was the practice is carried over from the ancient Sumerians who used a number system based around the number 60.  Even today some scientists and mathematicians will tell you a number system based on 60 is a more “logical” way to count and measure.

So now that I have bored you with a synopsized history lesson about time, it would be easy to ask “why”.  Essentially writing this piece was a sort of meditation on the passage of time.  The most important ‘ah-ha” has been conscious awareness of time actually seems to make it pass more quickly.  When I can lose myself in something, as I did in writing this, time becomes largely irrelevant.  At such moments I am only aware of what I doing.  So that is the take-away I will gratefully head into my day with.  The more engaged in life I am, the less awareness I have about the passing of time.  Less awareness equals a feeling of having more time.  And with that thought it is time to jump head first into my day.

Clocks slay time…
time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels;
only when the clock stops does time come to life.
William Faulkner