Sunday Funnies: July 31

Another installment from my dad’s humor cards.

The backstory: My dad was a Presbyterian pastor for 40 years. He kept a well curated stack of humor cards – little stories or observations that he typed onto 5×7 cards. Then he wrote in the margins when he used that particular item. His humor was often an easy way to settle in to something deeper – by laughing and thinking about the buried truth in these little nuggets, it paved the way to an open heart.

When we cleaned out his desk after he died 7 years ago, I was lucky enough to stumble on this stack. I pull it out regularly to have a little laugh with my dear Dad. Now when I post one of them, I write my note next to his and it feels like a continuation.

When Does Life Begin?

Three religious leaders were posed the question, “When does life begin?”

The Catholic priest said, “At conception.”

The Protestant pastor replied, “At birth.”

The Rabbi answered, “When the last kid goes to college and the dog dies.”

Beautiful Questions

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue…And the point is to live everything. Live the questions.” – Rainier Maria Rilke

I needed a break from the minutiae of data that I was dealing with at work yesterday so I took a few minutes to listen to Krista Tippet’s conversation with poet and philosopher David Whyte on the On Being podcast. The conversation turned to the human experience and how we face life. Referencing the poet, John O’Donohue, David Whyte posed the practice of asking beautiful questions:

John used to talk about how you shaped a more beautiful mind; that it’s an actual discipline, no matter what circumstances you’re in. The way I interpreted it was the discipline of asking beautiful questions and that a beautiful question shapes a beautiful mind. And so the ability to ask beautiful questions — often in very un-beautiful moments — is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered. And you don’t have to do anything about it, you just have to keep asking. And before you know it, you will find yourself actually shaping a different life, meeting different people, finding conversations that are leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.

David Whyte

This sent me on a search to find out more about John O’Donohue’s idea of a beautiful mind and found this passage in an excerpt from John’s unpublished work:

Your mind is your greatest treasure. We become so taken up with the world, with having and doing more and more, we come to ignore who we are and forget what we see the world with. The most powerful way to change your life is to change your mind.

When you beautify your mind, you beautify your world. You learn to see differently. In what seemed like dead situations, secret possibilities and invitations begin to open before you. In old suffering that held you long paralyzed, you find new keys. When your mind awakens, your life comes alive and the creative adventure of your soul takes off. Passion and compassion become your new companions.

John O’Donohue

Inspired by both of these Irish poets, I started trying to think of beautiful questions.

What is the softest touch I can apply in this situation? (to myself, to the Earth, to others)

What is there to see right here and now with compassionate curiosity?

And this one I heard from my 8-year-old next door neighbor as I was ferrying the girls home from school, “Why would we not?”

Indeed, why not?

In the interview with Krista Tippett summed up David’s musing on beautiful questions with “That’s what Rilke called ‘living the question.‘”

What beautiful questions come to your mind?

(featured photo from Pexels)

How to Become Your Own Best Friend

I like lists. They are neat and ordered and have the magic of being able to encapsulate something. So when Dr. Gerald Stein published this list of 30 ways to become your own best friend, I was captivated. His long and distinguished career as a psychologist and keen enthusiast of life shines through in this wonderful post.

Dr. Stein’s comments on my blogs always make me think and laugh – as does this list with items like #3 Mistakes are inevitable. Master them. Please take steps to skip over their repetition. And #13 Allow love and kindness to emanate from your being. Live with both intelligence and an open heart. Those different from you also find existence challenging.

Without further ado, here is Dr. Stein’s post How to Become Your Best friend

Dr. Gerald Stein

Who is the person closest to you?

You see him every day, talk to him and about him, sleep with him, clean him up, applaud his successes and analyze his defeats.This individual knows more about you than you will ever know.

Maybe it’s time to make yourself into your own best friend, given all that intimacy.

I’ve listed 30 suggestions to get you started.

  1. Be entertaining company on your own.Inspect your personality and how you view the world compared to others.Seek new ideas, and pass the unaccompanied time with enjoyment.Go places and do things beyond your usual comfort zone, including solo explorations.Perhaps concerts, movies, parks, museums, and tours.  Don’t sit alone in quiet desperation.
  2. Be kind to who you are.Your life emerged without a display case from which to choose the attributes you wanted.You began with raw and imperfect materials of external…

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The Joy of Repetition

Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.” – Suzanne Weyn

Recently I was talking to my 2-year-old about potty training. His reply was “I already went to a toilet.” And it’s true – he has gone in the toilet once.  About a month ago he got lucky when he wanted to try to potty before getting in the bath.

I tried to explain that there are many things we have to do repeatedly in life. So often I want to declare something to be “DONE!” only to have to repeat the task so I understand my son’s irritation about having to go potty again and again and again!

Talking with my mom about this, she flipped the question and asked, “How many things do we only do once in our lives?” Which I thought was a great way to illustrate that most things in life are done repeatedly. Even our mistakes take work not to repeat.

In addition to school and work, there’s also sleeping, eating, exercising, bathing, trimming our nails and hair, doing the laundry, cleaning. The other day I thought I’d swept the entire house of dirty laundry and gotten it all done – only to discover 2 hours later a small pile of dirty clothes stashed away by my 6-year-old.

But since the ultimate “DONE” is death, I try to celebrate that doing things repeatedly is a gift. A gift of the ongoing nature of life, a poetic reminder that life is a cycle, an opportunity to find a new song in the repetition.

And in my favorite example, breathing, my life has been measurably improved once I started noticing that every breath brings renewal and fresh air. Even in this task that is regulated by the autonomic nervous system and takes no real talent to do, can be improved when done with intention.

So, yes, my darling son. We have to do things over and over again. And if we are paying attention, we can even find some extra joy in these precious cycles of life.

(featured photo from Pexels)

Moral of the Story

Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” – Allen Ginsberg

My 6-year-old daughter told me a story she heard from her Parkour coach, Lewis.

Lewis and his brother were at a water park. On one slide, there was a man and his daughter in front of them. The man, who was really big, put his daughter on his lap and pushed off when it was his turn.

When it was Lewis’ turn, he found that the man had gotten stuck and he had to push him all the way down the slide. At the bottom the man said, “That was fun!”

My daughter then turned to me and said, “Do you know what the moral of the story is?” I waited with baited breath until she revealed, “When you go to a water park, you’ve got to have fun!”

Ha, ha, ha. Not the moral I was expecting. But we all get to have different takeaways on this thing called life!