I have come to several conclusions about life:
- Go with the flow
- Everything happens when it needs to
- Worrying does not fix anything
- Be content in whatever state you are in
- Happiness is not entirely derived from what you do or don’t do
- We miss out on what is important because we think something else is more important
- I’m ok with not always knowing what to do
- Be true to yourself
- Listen with your heart
The Christian states: The purpose that unknown has made certain things known to us is so that the unknown is somewhat known, though not completely. 1 Corinthians 13:12 states, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” There are many things about God that we do not ‘know’… Deuteronomy 29:29 states, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”
Commentary: The Christian accepts not knowing certain things due to an infinite mind. However within this, the infinite God has provided and made known some things. So, it is safe to proclaim having some knowledge amidst the vast sea of the unknown.
The Agnostic states: We all see from our one unique vantage point. We each describe what we cannot see. How do you judge what you can’t see? We each fill in the blanks to what we don’t know to suit our Egos. If we knew everything then man would not have come up with stories to explain the unknown. Not surprisingly, every religion has an explanation for the unknown.
Commentary: We evaluate the claims of religions based from our Western vantage point. We further evaluate these claims and reject, accept, or remain neutral based on our unique social cultural perspective. Are the claims of each religion examined objectively or subjectively? Are we free from bias in rejecting or accepting or being indifferent? How often does an unbiased examination of religious claims occur?
Discussion: What are the personal and societal implications of declaring to know the unknown? Is pure neutrality ever possible? Is it possible for some of us to pretend to be neutral while asking endless questions which we know the answers just to be a contrarian? Does this neutralize our conscience and adopt to our own ways of life and allow us to rebelliously adapt to our own ways of life?
Every religious and non-religious group seeks to be its own unique and independent beehive. All bees need a hive to call home. Hives come in different shapes and sizes. It does not matter what a hive may look like for they all serve the same purpose. When a bee leaves the hive to forage, it goes out to serve the world (pollinate) and at the same time bring home honey and pollen for the hive. The bee uses the position of the sun to navigate. It recognizes that it is home by landmarks and the unique pheromone that the queen bee emits. What would a bee do if it came home from foraging and discover that the colony has absconded? It would find another hive. No hive ever refuses a bee that enters with pollen or nectar. Only robbers are fought off.
Different types of beehives…
We had just helped my aunt milk the Jersey cow in the cobble stone corral behind the house. My aunt carried the large pail of warm milk back to the kitchen while I searched for chicken eggs in the grain storage room. The chickens had several nests in the room but preferred laying in the right back corner on top of the huge mound of milled grain that occupied the room. The mound was probably ten to twelve feet high. From the top of the mound you could touch several of the ceiling rafters. I never was brave enough to hand from one of them. With several eggs in my basket, I opened the pair of old wooden doors and made my way back to the kitchen by way of the courtyard. Before I made it back to the kitchen, I picked a pomegranate from the tree and decided to sit next to the talking parrot which had been here for several years. He had been brought from Veracruz and had an extensive repertoire of phrases including obscenities. As I was picking the pomegranate and shared with the parrot, I began to make observations about the courtyard in which I was sitting.
The north side of the rectangular courtyard was bordered by a fifteen foot high exposed adobe wall. The wall belonged to the adjoining house and along the entire length of this wall were plants and flowers in pots sitting on the stone floor and on metal stands. Along this same wall towards the front of the house, was a square room which contained the bathroom along with a shower and a sink. Before the bathroom had been built, the outhouse located in the corral was used during the day and the chamber pot at night. If you dared to look down into the belly of the outhouse, a pig may be seen walking about. As you were making an outhouse deposit, you could hear the pig approach below and snort in preparation for his meal. With the addition of a corn fired hot water boiler to the courtyard bathroom, the option to take a shower in more frequent intervals became available however the customary weekly Saturday bath in preparation for Sunday Mass was sufficient for anyone but for family members visiting who lived abroad.
On the south side of the courtyard were two rooms. Each room had a pair of wooden double doors which were opened by a large key. The smaller of the two rooms contained a dining room table with six chairs. A clear sheet of plastic protected the hand-woven table-cloth which graciously adorned the table. In the corner of the room stood a small white single door refrigerator which was used to store milk, meat, and butter. A single light bulb hung from the center of the ceiling and lit the room at night. Only special guests ate in this small dining room. Besides the Church Priest who was a friend of my oldest aunt, I can’t recall anyone else who ate there. To the right of the smaller room was the larger of the two rooms which was used a bedroom. There were two queen size beds along with a two chests of drawers and a foot pedal Singer sewing machine. Underneath each bed was a chamber pot. My grandfather and my two aunts slept in this room. To the rear of this room was a curtain. I was never allowed near the curtain however one day I managed to peek behind the curtain when everyone was in the front room. I was not surprised by what I found. Every night just before bed, everyone would gather in this bedroom and pray the Rosary. Both rooms were the same color as the kitchen.
On the east wall adjacent to the bathroom was the arched entryway into the zaguán, a long covered hallway that led to the massive front double doors of the house. The front doors were ten feet tall and were painted a lime green color. The locking mechanism had long ago stopped working so a metal bar inserted through both doors kept them locked. On one side of the zaguán was the bedroom used by my grandparents in the past but now served as a guest room. The other room was a large living room with a bedroom off to the side.
On the west wall near the bedroom was the entrance to the kitchen and on the opposite end the vestibule which led into the corral. In the corner of the small line colored kitchen stood the built-in wood fired cooking chimney. In the opposite corner stood a white four-burner propane gas stove. Most of the cooking was now done on the gas stove except for Christmas when a gigantic batch of tamales was cooked in a huge pot. Along the back wall of the kitchen were green painted cupboards with glass doors which stored fancy china and silverware. The fancy china and silverware were only used in the dining room when the Priest came to dine. Along the last wall of the kitchen was a small table with four chairs. The aroma of eggs, beans, and melted cheese enveloped me as I ate my pomegranate in the courtyard. I parted ways with the parrot and took my seat in the lime green kitchen waiting for my aunt to serve breakfast.
My Jeep was up for its annual vehicle state inspection so I had made arrangements with Roger, my mechanic, to drop it off before work and borrow one of his loaner vehicles. Last time I had borrowed a vehicle it was a plain red minivan with power sliding doors which I thought was pretty neat. As I pulled up into the repair garage on this rainy morning, I noticed that the red minivan which I had driven before was not in the parking lot. I went inside to the office and Roger was expecting me as I had made prior arrangements. Besides the state inspection, the Jeep also needed a few minor repairs. Roger saluted me with his all familiar “Brother-Man”, grabbed the keys for the green car and asked me to follow him to the parking lot. He opened the green door, sat in the driver’s seat, pumped the gas at least ten times, then turned the ignition key. The car did not start so he kept pumping the gas and it started smoothly. Not a cloud of smoke or the smell of unburned gas for a car this age. I wondered if I would have to do this every time. Before I was able to ask, Roger informed me that it had been a week since it had been driven thus it required this procedure however I should not have to do it. The gas light came on and Roger handed me a twenty-dollar bill and asked me to gas it up. Roger emphatically stated, “It’s all yours for the day, Brother-Man.”
I hoped into the driver’s seat, put on my seatbelt, adjusted the rearview and driver’s side mirror, shifted the column shifter to R, and the vehicle moved in reverse. I kept my foot gently on the brakes and realized that all it took was a gentle touch to activate them. I backed up several feet and stopped, then shifted the car to D. I pressed the gas pedal with my foot and nothing happened. The gas pedal was stiff and it needed more effort to move the car than my Jeep. I coasted onto Main Street and felt as if I was driving a land yacht. The instrument panel, decor, seats, trim, and paneling all looked familiar.
I drove a few hundred feet and there was my first stoplight. I pressed the brakes and the car slowed down. As I approached the car in front of me I pressed the brakes a bit more and the car dove forward as I got close to it. I was still figuring out the sensitivity of the brakes. I wondered if the shocks had ever been replaced. I was certain that was not the case due to the bouncy suspension. It was cold so I switched on the heat. The lever slid to the right to turn on the heat. As I slid it toward the heat setting, it was harder to push. The fan lever clicked as I moved it upwards to increase the speed. I began to feel the heat immediately. The light turned green and I pressed on the gas still trying to figure out how much to press to get the car to move the way I wanted it to. The car lurched forward and the rear wheels spun a bit. As I approached the gas station less than a mile from the stoplight, I turned on the left turn signal. The first gas pump I pulled up to was out-of-order. I circled around to the next pump and wondered on which side of the car the gas cap was on. I stopped and hoped it was on the left side. I got out and it was not there nor on the right side. It was behind the license plate. I went inside the gas station and paid for twenty-dollars worth of gas on pump number five.
I went back to the car, pushed the license plate downward, unscrewed the gas cap, put the gas pump nozzle in, and selected 87 octane. I took a quick picture of the car and all twenty dollars worth of gas was pumped. I looked at the pump and less than six gallons had been pumped. There must be something wrong with the pump. Why is the price of gas $3.55 a gallon?
Today I ventured into the hives of my apiary. It was a beautiful 60 degree clear sunny day in mid-winter. All of my hives had quite a bit of activity in front of the hives. As I ventured into the hives, I clearly noticed that in hives in which the colony did not survive, bees from other hives were robbing the honey. In these hives, the buzzing was much louder, the bees moved around nervously, and made a quick escape as soon they noticed that the hive had been opened. Do bees have morals and a conscience?
With daylight hours increasing and temperatures fluctuating, I have begun to notice changes in nature for the arrival of Spring. A few days ago I noticed the white blossoms on my neighbor’s pear tree. This week, I have begun to notice that the tops of certain trees are beginning to have a red hue to them. Then I saw that many of the maple trees in my area have just begun to bloom. As I thought about this, I realized that my beehive colonies must be overjoyed as they have been utilizing their stored resources since the end of October to survive Winter. Whenever the daylight temperature is above 50 degrees and it is not cloudy, the honey bees fly from their hives in search of pollen and nectar. They are now finding the red maple, which is among the earliest blooming sources of nectar and pollen for honey bees. With the availability of fresh pollen and nectar, the queen starts laying eggs. Late in the Spring, the colony becomes overcrowded and prepares to swarm which is how colonies naturally reproduce. As the colony prepares to swarm, the drone (male) population increases and several queen cells are created to produce a new queen. Just before the new queen emerges, the old queen departs with about half of the bees and half the honey to a new home elsewhere. They will have to establish a new hive (honeycomb). The remaining bees in the colony will continue their work as if nothing happened. The first virgin queen to emerge from her cell stings the remaining queen cells and kills any other queen she finds. Approximately six to eight days after she emerges, the virgin queen flies out to mate with drones. She mates with about fifteen to sixteen drones in a mating yard about two to three miles away about 150 to 200 feet in the air. The drones die after they mate. After she mates, she returns to the colony as the new queen, and starts to lay eggs two to three days after mating.
After a day at work, I enjoy taking Skaion my nine month old Great Pyrenees puppy for a walk. At a visit to the vet a couple of weeks, I discovered that he now weighs ninety pounds. I knew this was a large breed however I did not anticipate him getting this big this quick. I remember carrying him in my arms when I first selected him from a litter and brought him home at twelve weeks of age. At this point all really I know is that he is going to get bigger and bigger. I suspect he will be between 120 and 140 pounds when full-grown.
When I take him for a walk, I make sure that I have several doggie biscuits before I leave the house. Typically as I step outside and close the front door, Skaion is either sitting on the porch or appears from nowhere. If he is nowhere to be seen, he is usually within earshot from the porch and gently walks toward me when he is called. I snap my fingers and before I issue the “sit” command, he has already sat down on his own. I reward him with a treat and pet him. I place the leash on his collar and quickly he realizes that he will now be following my lead. So we venture on our two-mile walk on a quiet country road. Skaion enjoys being on the leash. Soon enough we encounter the neighbor’s dogs but they stay far from Skaion. They bark and the hair on their backs raises but Skaion shows no interested. Perhaps they are intimidated by his size. We continue on our walk and soon reach the one mile mark and I turn around. On the return trip, Skaion is more interested in peeing on every tree or pole that we come across. He becomes stubborn and I find myself having to put in much more effort to get him to follow my lead. About a quarter-mile from the house, I remove the leash and he notices instantly which causes him wander into the woods. I continue my walk and Skaion is exploring and falling further behind me. I reach a curve in the road and hide behind a large tree. I call Skaion and shortly he is at my side. As we arrive near the house, Skaion finds his favorite puddle and stops for a drink of water. Shortly thereafter we arrive at the house. I pet Skaion goodbye and enter the house. I treasure this time with Skaion. How does he perceive this time we spend together?
The past few weeks have provided me with ample opportunities to experience life beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone.The first experience occurred On December 31st as I spent the evening at a crammed emergency room with one of my children who had been diagnosed with pneumonia by the family doctor. Time in the waiting room flew by quickly as I was entertained by watching people come and go. It was not until I looked at my watch that I realized that we had spent a total of three hours before we were finally able to see a doctor. Once we saw a doctor, a diagnosis of bronchitis / borderline pneumonia was made and medication prescribed. We managed to make it home with time to spare and watch the ball drop from Times Square in New York City.
Crammed ER Waiting Room
The second experience occurred on December 2nd when I finally went to see a doctor about the nagging cough that I have had for several weeks. The doctor prescribed medication for bronchitis and sent me on my way. Saturday night my cough changed from “dry” to “wet” and I woke up on Sunday morning with no voice. I use my voice for a living. What would I do? I could not even utter a whisper. On Thursday January 10th I went in to have my voice checked and the doctor said I had walking pneumonia. I was given a different course of antibiotics. So for about seven days I had no voice. I communicated through gestures and writing in a notebook. My voice sort of reemerged on the seventh day. It is still not 100 percent but it is better than no voice. I am very careful to use my voice within its limits. My pneumonia has definitely cleared up.
The third experience occurred on Tuesday January 15th when I returned home from work to discover a partially flooded basement. This was due to the fact that we received a large amount of rain spread out over several days. The primary cause was the lack of rain gutters around the house. Ever since the roof was replaced this past summer, installing new rain gutters has been on my mind however I have procrastinated. As I dried off boxes, threw away things that I no longer needed, and vacuumed up water, I made it a point to call a handyman the next morning and get those gutters up as soon as possible.
The fourth experience began on Thursday January 17th. When I returned home from work, I discovered that my dog had what appeared to be a wound on the back of his neck. I examined it and it was in fact not a wound but inflammation of the skin with blood and pus oozing out. I had just taken the dog for a two-mile walk on Wednesday and none of this blood and pus were present. I took warm soapy water and washed the area as best as I could. The next morning we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground. School was closed so I spent the day at home and organized my closet. In the evening I gave the dog garlic and applied aloe vera to the hot spot hoping that would heal it. I woke up this morning and the area exuding with blood and pus on the back of the dog’s neck was expanding. It looked really bad. I hesitated and finally called up the vet’s office around 10 AM and explained what was going on. The receptionist told me to come on over and the vet would see him. I asked my oldest child to come with me.
We got the dog into the rear of the Jeep and headed off. As I drove, a rush of thoughts began to invade my mind. What if it is skin cancer? If it is cancer should I put the dog down? What if it is not skin cancer? How much is this vet visit going to cost? Maybe we should have never gotten this dog. Maybe I should give the dog away…I was definitely not at ease. My back and neck began to ache. As I continued to drive, I realized that my mind was reverting to an old tape loop of endless worry. How would I stop this old tape loop from succeeding and controlling me as in the past? We arrived at the vet’s office and near the front door was a sign that read “NO Credit or Debit Cards accepted”. I only had sixty dollars in my wallet. I decided to ignore this sign for the time being. The dog refused to enter the waiting area so we waited outside. After an hour or so, we were called inside. The dog refused to walk so I kept pulling and he sled into the examination room. The vet saw the dog and diagnosed him with moist dermatitis. I was relieved. The vet then shaved off hair in the affected area, gave him two injections, and prescribed a spray as well as antibiotics as the infection was internal. We left the room and the dog now decided to walk. I went up to the counter to pay and the total was $57 dollars. I then walked the dog over to a weighing scale and he weighed almost ninety pounds.
As we drove home, I began to ponder why was I having such a hard time accepting this particular situation with the dog? Why did I want to control its outcome? Why was I not open to all possibilities except for the one’s that I wanted? Why had that old tape loop surfaced and why was I having such a difficult time shutting it down? Why had I accepted the three other experiences mentioned above but had a difficult time with today’s experience with the dog? I have concluded that I am resisting life itself as it unfolds before me.