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Sunday, December 30, 2012

You REALLY Sucked!

Close It Out, and Crack Open a New One!

Good Evening, Peeps!

Sorry I was not around last week, but that only entitles my adoring public to a double portion for the Big '13!  And that ain't bad!

I already blogged about new beginnings, that's a subject we're all familiar with.  It's for sure that I've got some new beginnings going on for the Big '13.  But before that becomes official, it's also a good idea to trash all the not-so-happy material we collected in the past 12 months.

Yesterday in NYC, some organization put together a "Good Riddance Day."  Everything that people wanted to be rid of at the end of the year was shredded, compacted, or otherwise destroyed, along with notes of things that we all aspire to be rid of!

I know I've got a boatload of things I'm anxious to be rid of that accumulated in 2012, and I recommend all y'all do likewise.  So before I commence the purge cycle, let's review:

(1)  Memories of people who did not make my life happier.

(2)  Thoughts of people who seem to irritate me, and the reactionary thoughts that somehow keep the irritation on the repeat cycle long after the irritating source has been removed.  Of course, a long term removal of said irritants would be ideal, but you and I usually don't have a secret "eject" button to make that happen (with a few exceptions).

(3)  Any records that are older than 5 years -- that's why we have shredders!

(4)  Anything expired -- this may require the intervention of the Food Police, the Coupon Police, or the Out Of Date Magazine Task Force, but someone's gotta handle that job for real!!!!!!!!!!

(5)  Anything that takes up space for no good reason.

(6)  Any relationship that is not based on respect, trust, and understanding, and is instead based on guilt, fear, or obligation.

(7)  Stress triggered by something I have no control over and cannot fix at that moment.

(8)  Resentment of anyone who offers constructive and respectful criticism, doubt and fear engendered by negative criticism, and the understanding to differentiate between them both.

(9)  Grudges against anyone who wronged me this year.

(10)  Desperate need for approval by others, even when their approval is completely unnecessary.

(11)  Stagnant annoyance and irritation at people who act like jerks and a$$#oles.  As I've said before, merely hating them doesn't bring down G-D's wrath on them, they'll eventually bring that on themselves.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive.  In fact, I encourage all my Pillarites to comment and add their own s--t list!  Even for me, writing it down is the first and most decisive step towards getting rid of all this clutter and waste product that can only hold us back.

And of course, the two biggest things I'd like to close out, trash, and forget about for 2012:

(A)  Hurricane Sandy -- a natural disaster that left people homeless and unsheltered, ripped my beloved Long Island apart, and created yet another reason for people to gripe, complain, moan, and whine about how ineffectual government agencies are and always will be.

(B)  The Cancellation of the NYC Marathon -- after all the self-righteous posturing and soap-box commentary about how runners were selfish for not wanting the marathon to be canceled, and the shameless political pressure that caused it to be canceled, I'd like to put that nonsense far behind me.  And with the NYC RUNS marathon in February, and a visit to the upstate Frontier this May, that's exactly what your friendly neighborhood blogger intends to do.

So that's it.  Take a hike, 2012!  Get lost, disappear, vamanos!  And take that stupid Mayan BS with you too!

Now to make the Big '13 The Year of the Pillars!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There's Nothing Wrong With Admitting Your Mistakes!

Extra post, all.

There's an element in our culture that says that nobody should screw up.  Only problem is, all of us do.  All of us, no matter who we are.

There's also an element in our culture that demands that people who screw up admit their mistakes, apologize, and try to make good on it.  Only problem is, when we do that, there's another element in our culture that demands that we suffer consequences.

So which is it?  If the errant party is not lying, not being selfish, not pointing fingers, and not making excuses, why the hostility?  Don't we all want people to accept accountability for the 1-5% of the time that they're not on the ball?  And if it really is only 1-5% of the time that they screw up, don't we owe them enough respect to withhold any desires to flay the skin from their bodies?  Don't they deserve a little "that's OK" if it can be easily corrected?  And if they're ready, willing, and able to make it right, shouldn't they be given the chance to do so?

Don't get me wrong, most of us do screw up only 1-5% of the time, if we're smart, conscientious, and honestly care about the things we do.  But if the percentage is higher than that, somebody's got some real problems to work through.

However, if the vast majority of the time, we know what we're doing, what's the harm in indulging a small amount of human error?  I'm not talking about felonies or negligence causing injuries, mind you, I'm talking about just every day stuff.  Maybe it's annoying that someone else didn't get it right, but if you're feeling angry enough to start an argument, don't aim it that person's way.  Chances are, they already know they screwed up, and they don't need some abusive comment or threat to make it worse.

And for those of us who do have the misfortune of having a 1-5% day, nobody should feel so threatened that they can't admit a screw-up.  If it didn't cost anyone money, and didn't result in death or injury, there's nothing wrong at all with admitting that you did it.  We're taught to forgive and apologize from such early ages, who keeps sending us these mixed messages?

Bottom line, we're all human.  Don't use it as a crutch to not avoid making mistakes, but let it be a reminder that none of us is perfect all of the time.  If you make a mistake, don't listen to those who would rub it in your face.  And if someone else has made a mistake that impacts you, if it can be remedied, save your steam for something else.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Video For Both Posts

Sharing Our Thoughts - An Extra Post

The answers to many of our problems are not immediately made clear.  Sometimes they involve painstaking research of authoritative sources.  Other times, they involve deep soul-searching, which is far more difficult.  And yes, sometimes, they're out here in the blogosphere, and they involve answers both from within and without.

Tonight, I was about to post something, as a follow-up to the post about the Connecticut shooting, that would have been full of righteous anger, pain-driven fury, and unresolved grudges.  However, a faithful reader of mine, who will go nameless, reminded me of one of my earlier posts, namely "Who's In Control" from January 29, 2012, where I talked about how to maintain control over the thought process and not be consumed by stress, fear, anger, hate, etc.  She can be credited not only with (a) reminding me that once my words are out there, people do read them; and (b) completely altering what I was about to post.  So you see, the answer was already within me (I wrote it and apparently needed to re-read it), and was also external (she reminded me about it)!

(see also, "Don't Hulk Out," from November 20, 2011)

What can I say . . .  even though I present myself as an amateur guru/philosopher/anti-bullying crusader/self-help authority, I'm still flesh and blood.  I still get angry sometimes, and if something gets under my skin deep enough, I need to proceed carefully with a metaphorical tweezers to remove it.  It appears that my friend just provided them, helped me remove this splinter of negativity, and even cleanse the wound to prevent infection . . . and she did it by saying "Look, David, I found your tweezers!"

Hey, even Richard Carlson has been reminded to not "sweat the small stuff" by his children many a time!

This friend of mind has also been blogging quite a bit about her own life experiences, and they appear to be a fascinating read.  She's chosen to do it anonymously, which I respect, but she's also granted permission to me to post a link to it.  Check the blogroll down below, and you'll see it.

So that's my second of two posts for this Sunday night.  Have a good week, all!

No Answers

Good Evening, Friends and Neighbors.

Once again, we are confronted with a horrible tragedy, a thousand questions, and absolutely no rhyme or reason for its occurrence.  This one is worse than earlier tragedies because the victims were children under the age  of 10.

It's completely unnatural.  It makes no sense.  And the killer committed suicide when it was over, preventing the world from ever knowing the real answers.

Every parent in America felt their whole world stop when this story broke.  How could they not?  Our children are expected to outlive us, not to have their lives tragically cut short by someone who didn't take his meds.

Gun control?  Maybe.  We do have a Second Amendment, but there has to be a way to make sure that those rights can only be exercised by people who know how to handle firearms safely, and not by criminals or the mentally ill?

The mentally ill?  If they can't be trusted to take their medication when needed, they need to be restrained.

Schools?  Apparently we now need Columbine-style security at all levels of education, sad but true.

However, with all due respect to the memory of the 26 children and adults who died Friday, and their families, we will learn from this and move on, somewhat more jaded and cynical, but wiser.  If we have to take even more steps to protect children, to the extent we might smother them, and to restrain the mentally ill, to the point that we suffocate them, and pass even more anti-gun laws, none of which will prevent murders like this from happening, then it's a price we'll have to pay.  It's a senseless world we live in, and the response may ultimately prove equally senseless, and somewhat depressing.

There's just gotta be a better way . . . .

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Beginnings For The Season

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Good Evening, Peeps!

Yes, as we all know as good environmentalists, it's good to recycle.  However, as annoyed as I get with the notion of gift-giving etiquette, I admit that recycling is always better than re-gifting.

That being said, I'd like to borrow something from last year's post about Chanukah and Christmas (with a few small edits) and build on it:

The celebration of these two holidays have given rise to a certain degree of awkwardness that many have attempted to remedy by simply merging both holidays into a generic December/winter-solstice celebration to make sure nobody gets "offended" or left out, or made to feel disloyal in some way.  I can still remember songs being replaced from an elementary school's holiday concert for just that reason.  The terms used to describe an office party likewise become homogenized and genericized to avoid ruffling feathers.

Rather than continue in this politically correct mishmash, I propose a different approach -- celebrate the underlying MESSAGES of both holidays, and how they coincide, and not contradict!  They BOTH stand for NEW BEGINNINGS, and declarations of SELF-IDENTITY!


Just look at them:  Chanukah celebrates a new beginning for Judaism by removing a corrupting influence, despite the fact that most of the Jews actually wanted the corrupting influence to continue.  Christmas celebrates a new beginning because a savior and redeemer was born, half human and half diety, just ready to start one of the most influential lives ever lived.  Until he met the end of his human life in his early 30's, he would face an onslaught of corrupting influences, and inspire those around him to resist them without even getting aggressive.

Now that I've found and isolated the common thread between both festivals, what exactly am I planning to do with it?  Glad you asked . . . .

I am not suggesting that any of you dispense with family traditions, of course.  But my proposal would be to merge Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year's into a two-week nonsectarian festival of New Beginnings.  Is it any accident that Chanukah and Christmas are both perched so perilously close to January 1st?  Let's make the timing work for us!

Let's go easy on the list of what you want to give/receive in terms of material gifts -- instead, make a list of new beginnings!  How will you cleanse the temple that is your life from the impurities that have been deposited there?  Will you restore it to the joy and peace you knew in childhood?  Will you remove negativity, obsessions, and old habits from your sanctuary and replace them with things worth venerating?

Or better yet, will this be a year to start a whole new life?  I mean from the ground up, from the beginning forward?  Can you get past everything that happened before that held you back and make this a Day One instead?

Not to toot my own horn, but I think we may have discovered the "true meaning" of the "holiday season" -- to start a new beginning!

So how about it -- are you ready to cleanse your temple, be re-birthed, or preferably both?  Why not?

Maybe it looks like too much of a chore to cleanse that temple.  Let it stay like that, I don't care, it doesn't bother me.  Really?  

Now imagine how clean, majestic, and snazzy jazzy that temple would look if it were cleansed -- wouldn't you rather have that?  A psyche free from frustration and self-defeating thoughts?  The ability to act more than react?  The understanding that solving problems is better than worrying about them, and that hating people doesn't change them?  Yeah, it's a pain and a half to have the temple set up that way, but how much happier would you be if it were?!!?!?!

And starting over?  Who's into that?  Haven't we already learned what we needed to in childhood? Can't we skip these lectures and just do what we've always done?  Aren't we just OK taking this path?

I'll say it politely:  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We get a chance to "start over," in huge ways and small ways, every day.  We don't really even have to wait for this time of year, as we could have done it in July if we were so inclined.  But since time of year is dedicated to the birth of a child who would change the entire world, it's only fitting to begin a new life within ourselves now.  

And yes, as those of you who personally know me are aware, this year I've been doing both of the above.  I won't discuss what this actually means, for several reasons, but I've been cleansing my temple and beginning a new life for this entire year.   Don't get me wrong, temples don't get cleansed overnight (despite what the ads may say), and re-birth is a little messy, which sometimes sets the cleansing process back a little.  But I think they are both necessary and interdependent processes.  If you're going to have a newly-refurnished temple, you've gotta have a newly-refurbished self to preside over it, of course.  In other words, your change must be complete, inside and out.

So, Friends and Neighbors, given what was written last year, and coupling it with my own experience this year, it's a good idea to make this winter holiday season one of starting a new beginning, regardless of what faith or stripe you represent.   By all means, continue with the customs you've always known and loved, but it's always good to share with those who do it a little differently.  Either way, let this December be a celebration of brand new traditions and originating new customs.

That's my piece.  For all my friends celebrating the second candle lighting, Happy Chanukah!

PS -- a good friend of mine who has studied the Bible extensively recently stumped me.  When I wished Happy Chanukah to everyone in the Tribe, he asked me, "Which one?"  

As a matter of clarification, Jews often affectionately refer to the Jewish community as a whole as "the Tribe" (sort of like Cleveland Indians fans) and to fellow Jews as M.O.T. -- Member Of the Tribe.  With the exception of those whose family names give obvious hints, it's very difficult for Jews to determine whether they originated from one of the twelve tribes of Isreal, although we could possibly narrow it down to Judah and Levi.  Accordingly, use of "the Tribe" does not designate ancestry from any particular biblical tribe. It's really just a cute little saying.  :)

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