Monday, October 3, 2016

The Third Commandment

God is
Whoever or whatever you want God to be.
If you need God to be your father,
God is your father.
If you need God to be your mother,
God is your mother.
God is Mother Nature,
If you prefer.
God is,
if you prefer,
The collective conscious of all life.
God is,
If you prefer,
Not always in the same form.
Instead, God is
All things or anything or everything, or nothing,
If you need God that way.
If you need God to be
since the beginning, now and forever,
Then God does not exist.
God can be the power of positive thinking.
Or of negative thinking.
Whatever you want.
God does not want you to argue about who or what God is.
God is
Whoever or whatever you want God to be.

Today, I hear God's voice. Is it a fatherly voice?
Is it the sound of my father's voice when it was most loving?
Is it the sound of my own voice, when I am most kind?
Yes, I think it's both, and better. It has the voice of knowledge of infinite possibility.

Friday, September 16, 2016

"Dooring" a cyclist

Car drivers/riders, please check behind you before you open a car door. You could seriously hurt a cyclist.

Bicycle drivers, please don't move through the door zone. Even though the car user is violating a law when they open a door in front of you, it's a risk you do not need to take, for your safety or to comply with laws. The law does not compel a cyclist to stay so far right as to be in the door zone, and it's not a good idea in any case.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Friday, January 8, 2016

Physical condition

​A few months ago, I developed "frozen shoulder," which is pretty painful. I didn't know what it was, so it was also scary. I didn't know if I should exercise it or give it rest. I eventually went to a physiatrist, which was the best possible move. We don't know what caused the problem, but the theory I believe the most is that it came from disuse. I don't use my arms much, and I don't exercise. Well, I didn't until now. I went through a couple of months of physical therapy, and now I'm going to my followup visit with the doctor. The pain isn't totally gone but it's greatly reduced, and oddly enough, that's a pleasant sensation. My range of motion isn't totally back, but I can do almost anything. I can now lift my shirt up off me using the crossing-hands technique, which I prefer. It's still not easy, but I can do it.
Most of all, it gave me the kick I needed to start exercising at home. I never did it, and I've never belonged to a gym.
I'm going to ask the doctor to help me with other problems I've had so I can learn which stretching and strengthening exercises I should be doing. I have scoliosis and other problems with my back. On the one hand, it's bad that I waited this long to deal with these things. I'll be 55 years old in a couple of weeks. On the other hand, the sooner I treat them and make myself stronger and more flexible, the better it will be for the rest of my life.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Poverty -- a bittersweet moment

New York City is a place of contrasts. I think we see the contrasts of wealth more clearly here than in many other places.

I'm having a good day today, as I have a good job, plenty of nice clothes to wear, and plenty of good food to eat.

There is an increasing number of homeless people in the city. People are asking strangers for help. One such woman got on my subway car as I was headed for work this morning. She had a loud and clear voice. Perhaps she's a singer. She had a prepared speech where she said she's not homeless, she pays rent, and here are her keys, dangling from her waist. She needs help for food and has no food. Some people reached in their pockets and got out dollar bills for her. As it happened, I had packed a nice lunch for myself. I gave it to her, and she seemed quite touched that I gave her a full meal, and she thanked me very well and said I should have a blessed day.

I hope it helped, and I suspect it did. If so, I'm glad it helped. It's a small thing for me, and it might be a big thing for her.

But it's sad that things are like this, that people can't afford food for themselves, even when they are doing the best they can, working and living where they can. Perhaps this woman recently hit rock bottom and is lifting herself up, and if so, she deserved a helping hand. And perhaps she'll be doing better soon. I hope so.

It was a moving moment. I got a little teary-eyed, though I don't think anyone would have noticed. I didn't notice anyone looking at anyone else.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Inspiration from a boy

My friend found a note on her 16-year-old son's desk. It said, "Be better." It was signed by the son and addressed to himself.

What does "be better" mean? What does it mean to this clearly soulful boy? What does it mean for any of us?

It could be a harsh reprimandation for doing badly. I don't really know. This was my first thought. But that reveals too much about me that deprives me of further reflection. At Rosh Hashanah services on Monday, the rabbi, in his sermon, reflected not merely the need for righteous behavior, and we all can agree that we, individually and collectively, could stand to improve our behavior.

There is a point we too often forget, that we are worthy of life, love, and prosperity. (And by prosperity, I mean more than just money.) The rabbi mentioned this, though I don't remember how he worded it. Perhaps I can find the text of his sermon. On Friday, I attended the annual orientation to Manhattan College, where I work. I learned that the college's stated mission is to form full human beings, in intellect, body, and spirit. In one of the talks, the speaker described the life of John Baptiste de La Salle, a man who, in 17th century France, innovated teaching techniques and performed the novel practice of teaching poor, hungry children. He is named Patron Saint of Teachers. The speaker gave his view of what a saint is. It is not someone who only does everything perfectly throughout his or her life. It is someone who becomes the person he or she was meant to be, fully personifying his or her full potential.

And this, I believe, is a worthy goal. No one can be perfect, but aiming for perfection is worth the effort. I fail constantly. I need to realize that this fact will never change. What I aim to change is to act and feel more forgiving of myself. I need to be content and pleased with who I am and what I have accomplished so far. Only by doing this can I continue towards my potential. The first step, I think, is to remind myself that I am worthy of the space that I occupy. Prosperity is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. I owe it to myself and to others. We all should be prosperous enough that we can pass some of it on to others. Prosperity is the achievement of our potentials.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Confrontation and consciousness

I stepped out of my building with my dog in tow. In front of our coop building we have a new tree, where we constructed an iron fence around the new tree. The fence is there to keep dogs out. A woman was there, letting her dog in the fenced in area.

In a gentle tone of voice, I stated something I believe is obvious: "We put a fence around this tree because we don't want dogs in there."

Of course, the woman got defensive, and a common way to speak defensively is to avoid what someone has said directly. "I have a bag! It's not like I'm going to leave it there!"

If I had had my wits, I would have repeated my first sentence verbatim. Having a bag does nothing to mitigate the fact that we don't want dogs there, whether you pick up after your dog or not. I told her that it's the urine that is the real threat to the tree's health, which is true, but in a sense, it was also beside the point. We don't want dogs there, and that's really all there is to it, reasons or no reasons, good reasons or bad reasons. Why else would anyone put a fence in? Would anyone rightly think a fence is a reminder to dog owners that they should pick up after their dogs? No. A fence says unambiguously, "Stay out." It does not say, "Behave yourself when you enter (or allow your dog to enter)."

So what thought goes through the minds of dog owners when they allow their dogs inside tree-surrounding fences? Silly question, I know, because I'm using the words "thought" and "mind," as if they are actually involved.

I'm tempted to hang a sign on the fence that says, "The fence is here to keep dogs out. Please don't let your dog in." Is that likely to get people to engage their minds? Maybe not, but it will give some people a chuckle. Or at least, it will give one person a chuckle.