By Jim Hagarty
Thoughts on Living
Acid corrodes the vessel in which it is stored, more than the vessel into which it is poured – my Dad on resentment. He laid this on me many years ago during a discussion I was having with him. I have no idea now what information I had given him that prompted him to share this gem with me but my guess is I was harboring a gigantic grudge against someone and he was trying to steer me in a better direction. Today, thank God, I rarely hang on to anger at anyone else for very long. It’s not that I am trying hard not to resent anyone, it just seems to be happening naturally the older I get. Maybe it’s a time’s running out sort of thing, and there are better things to occupy my mind with. Whatever the reason, I am grateful to be mostly free of that monkey that got a free ride on my back for many, many years. Still, I do have lots of grumpy old man moments. I have found most resentments come from unrealistic expectations of others and that it is possible to resent myself – that is called remorse. That concludes today’s sermon. I shall now pass the basket for your freewill offering.
From a friend: A man full of fear is like an angry wolf, chasing all creatures great and small away from him if they venture too near. A man full of love is like a big shade tree on a hot summer’s day. Everyone crowds around him for shelter from the elements.
The Licking of Wounds
On the farm, a cat or dog would get hurt, sometimes badly, by getting into a vicious fight or being in the wrong place at the wrong time when some dangerous farm machine was bearing down on them. If they didn’t die outright, they would sometimes crawl away to some hiding place to get themselves out of the range of predators (thus protecting the pack), and to lick their wounds. There is an agency in the tongues of animals, probably humans too, that has healing powers. We use the term “licking our wounds” almost every day. I wonder how many people don’t know that it came from a real thing.
A person suffering depression often finds a place to hide away from everyone, including members of his own pack, to lick his wounds and try to heal. They are spiritual, mental, emotional wounds, but dangerous to the health of those who experience them. The people around someone who is depressed and gone into hiding are alarmed. We believe the solution is to end the isolation, get the depressed one out around people again and he will be alright. I used to think that too. Now I believe the isolation and withdrawal from the world is a necessary thing and trying to pull a person out of that self-imposed state prematurely is to interfere with the process of licking of the wounds. The wounds will heal. The person will re-emerge. The best we can do is look on non-judgmentally and with kindness and be there when the isolation ends. I have licked many a wound in my day. I have spent my share of time in hiding. I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by understanding people.
I remember once being very agitated after I had lost my job. Where was my next meal going to come from? A friend of mine calmed me down. He told me most people think the agent of their supply is the source of their supply. The agents of our supply change from time to time. The source never does. He called the source God; I like to think of it as the Universe. He asked me how many meals I had missed in my life. I had to admit I hadn’t missed many. If you could see me now, you would rightly guess I haven’t missed ANY. His words were a comfort to me. The agents of my supply have been in constant flux for over 65 years. I have had lean times but never gone without. Two weeks after I lost my job, I had a better one that paid much more. I am priveleged, you suggest. Maybe. But my cats and dog have never done a lick of work in their life and they are fatter than me. I am their agent, but the Universe has looked after them very well.
Cream Rising to the Top
Paul McCartney once said that a good song will always “out.” In the music business, the cream rises to the top. I think this is true in every business and in life generally. Build a better mousetrap and they will beat a path to your door. I have found this to be true with restaurants. People will find a good restaurant no matter where it is located or how much it does or doesn’t advertise. There are several in our area, completely off the beaten path, sitting next to a cornfield, hard to find with GPS, not located on any map – and their parking lots are full. Do what you do and do it well. We will find you.
And what of the songs that never “out.” McCartney himself has written dozens that are still waiting to “out.” Many never will. Well, then, below all that cream is the lesser creamy milk. It is still valuable. The chirps in the forest tally in the millions before the day is done. Some chirpers probably outdid the others. But it takes all the chirps to make a chorus. It would be boring to walk by the forest and hear only that most excellent chirper doing her thing all day long.
Don’t write a hit. Write a song. Bake a pie. Invent a mousetrap. Whether any of those things rise to the top, is not up to you. And this is where the “out” comes in. It is “out” of your hands.
The Genesis of Deception
Hiding a bad intention behind a good intention. It is a story as old as man. But the apparent truth of the statement – that we hide a bad intention from others behind a good intention – doesn’t tell the whole story. Most of the time, with most people, the deception is born in the deceiver’s own heart, long before he takes it out for a drive. In other words, the person that it is most necessary to deceive, first and foremost, is ourselves. Most of us can’t enter into a relationship with another human being knowing our intention for them is bad. So we first must convince ourselves that what we propose to do, we are doing with only good intentions, when we know deep down that what we are about to do is for only bad intentions. That is why the successful deceiver is so convincing; he has practised and perfected the deception on himself already. In fact, it is almost necessary to the success of the proposed bad act that the bad actor be convinced it is a good act. Most people can sense a blatantly bad act and actor. There’s just something about them. With these people, we are less likely to be taken in.
Despite all the talk in Western societies that people suffer from low self esteem, the truth might be somewhat different. Someone once wrote that we like to ascribe bad motives to the people we deal with and only the best of motives for ourselves. We almost always give ourselves the benefit of the doubt while often suspecting others of being less trustworthy. Far from suffering from doubt regarding our own self worth, we have too much confidence in our own goodness. Except in those occasional times of honest self-reflection, when the mask comes down and are sometimes horrified to find what we find.
I trimmed all our prennial flowers right down to ground level. I worried all winter long that I had been too brutal in my pruning. Would the lilies and iris and phlox even come back at all in the spring? They did come back and are more beautiful than they have ever been. It occurs to me it doesn’t hurt for humans to be cut down to size now and then too. Doesn’t hurt us at all.
By Jim Hagarty
Unrepentant Sayings Monger
I love quotes. They are Inspiration on the Fly. The Philosopher’s Shorthand. I rely on them in my life, hang on to them when the waters rise. They make me laugh, give me courage, make me think. I research them and enter them into binders. I have quotes on fear, love, procrastination and achievement, plus other categories. I would like to share a quote a day here with you.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. – Steve Jobs
How can you feel good about yourself if, when your day ends, you look back and realize you accomplished not even one thing during the day that is ending? Not one single thing in your environment changed or improved in spite of your walking around all day. – Jim Hagarty, paraphrasing things his friend Mike Maloney once said to him.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. – George Bernard Shaw
A change is as good as a rest. – Clem Van Winkle, Rip’s younger, more energetic, brother
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. – Buddha
Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins. – Charles Stanley
The only thing that never changes is that everything always changes. – Jim Hagarty