Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

31 March, 2009

PAPPY IS QUEEN OF THE STAIRCASE

Not to worry! Pappy's head is not stuck between the banister rails. In fact she likes it there. She squeezes her head into the unusual position on purpose and can get out of it on her own.
..
My daughter Cindy speculates that Pappy, a six-year-old Japanese Chin "with attitude", likes to position herself at the top of the staircase with her head pushed through the rails because it gives her a sense of superiority and security all at the same time. The vantage point is also ideal for her to keep an eye on two other dogs in the household and five family members.
.
A small dog has to do what a small dog has to do to maintain status.
.
The cute, prize-winning photo was taken by my grandson Ryan.
.
No security for me in getting stuck
..
The Pappy story reminds me of an experience I had when, as a five or six-year-old, I got my knee stuck in railing on a front porch.
.
I had been playing with a friend, Hughie Carr, on his grandmother's porch in Dresden, a block from Wrights Lane. Somehow or other, I got my knee hopelessly stuck between two posts in the railing. Try as I may, I could not pull myself out of the predicament. Hughie's grandmother tried her best to free me, but to no avail. Neighbors were summoned and their best efforts failed as well.
.
Finally, in desperation, Mrs. Carr called the fire department. My knee was beginning to swell and turn blue. I tried in vain to hold back tears.
.
Fire Chief Rufus Law arrived on the scene with his vehicle siren blaring. Hastily sizing up the situation, he announced: "There's nothing else for it. We'll have to cut one of the posts."
.
"No, don't cut Gramma's porch!" screamed Hughie..."Cut his leg off instead!"
.
That was not particularly something I wanted to hear. I broke into agonizing sobs.
..
Someone in the crowd that had gathered mercifully suggested applying Vaseline to my knee and a jar of petroleum jelly appeared out of nowhere. After a liberal application of the slippery jell, Chief Law carefully eased my knee free from between the posts. Free at last. Thank God I was free at last!
..
I hobbled home, happy that my leg was still in place.
.
Hughie was happy too. They did not have to cut his Gramma's porch.

29 March, 2009

THE TWO LARRY BALKWILLS


Rising star makes dad very proud
Take a close look at the accompanying photo. What do you see?
.
I'll tell you what I see!
.
I see a five-letter word, PRIDE, written all over it. The kind of pride that shows in a person's face, in this case the strong smiling countenance of a middle aged man holding back an ocean of emotions. With an arm around the broad shoulders of the towering young athlete wearing a baseball jersey emblazoned with brilliant red C-A-N-A-D-A lettering, tears well in his eyes as he tightens his hold with an extra tug of affection.
..
Quite simply, this is the kind of pride that only a father can have for a son who is on the brink of making a major breakthrough in the world of sports. Fathers, justifiably, tend to live vicariously at times like that.
.
"There was no prouder moment than seeing him on the field wearing our country's name across his chest. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. It doesn't get any better than that," says Larry S. Balkwill of Chatham in recalling his reaction to seeing his 17-year-old son, Larry Jr., at the fall instructional camp for Canada's National Junior Baseball Team at Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in November.
.
Larry Jr., who has made a habit of collecting every baseball award in sight since peewee, was named by Baseball Canada to its national junior roster after a standout season in 2008 with Ontario OBA "AAA" champion Windsor Midget Selects and the Ontario junior team that won baseball's Canada Cup. A catcher who consistantly hits in the high .300s with power and a slugging percentage above 500, Larry was named Player of the Year by the Ontario Baseball Association and capped his season by being the first to win two Windsor and Essex Sports Person of the Year Awards in the same year -- Male Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Baseball Player. All this before his 18th birthday.
.
Showing class and humility, the budding star credits his family and coaches for helping him get to where he is today. After completing Grade 12 this year at Ursuline College in Chatham, he will be attending NCAA Division 1 Siena College in Loudenville, N.Y. The Siena Saints baseball team, under the direction of legendary coach Tony Rossi, compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. With the Windsor Selects last year Larry was a teammate of the Cook twins of Dresden (Justin and Matt) who also picked up American college scholarships after stellar performances of their own in tournaments, league play and playoffs over the course of the past couple of seasons.
.
How wonderful it is to see talented young Canadians like Larry and the Cook twins being given opportunities to develop athletically and, ultimately, as solid citizens destined to be our future. Thank God for parents like Larry and Sheila Balkwill who invest themselves in that future on behalf of all of us.
.
Just because Larry will be off to college in the fall does not mean that the Balkwills will have more time to themselves or will be putting fewer miles on the family car. Fourteen-year-old daughter Katie and 11-year-old son Matthew will more than pick up any slack.
.
Salute to Sheila: "Behind every successful athlete and his proud father is a mother who does their laundry, picks up after them, feeds them...and loves them!"

26 March, 2009

PASSION A DRIVING FORCE IN LIFE


Passion: An emotion applied to a very strong feeling or desire. Intense, compelling, enthusiastic. The Passion Flower (right) was named by Spanish explorers who thought it resembled three nails and a crown of thorns, reminding them of the "Passion of Christ".
.
Rosanne and I were talking earlier today about the importance of passion in life. We concluded with the generalization that nothing is achieved without a degree of passion and that working on things that matter to us personally is the key.
.
When we do things autonomously, purely for the challenge or because of deep passion for a particular undertaking or cause, we can achieve happiness, not only for ourselves but others as well. Passion is all about allowing yourself to get lost in something important to you -- a dream, a goal, even a person with whom you have a close attachment.
.
Passion, I believe, is of utmost importance when we reach midlife. This is a period when we finally have the opportunity to shed the burden of having to live up to the expectations of others -- parents, a spouse, children, employers. In mid life we truly need passion that will energize and motivate us and provide us with a guiding force around which to organize the balance of our lives.
.
Some of us may have carry-over beliefs, concepts and ideas that are keeping us from realizing the passion in our life that we deserve and we need to take a close look at that possibility. A process of elimination may be necessary. Ultimately, identifying our midlife passion(s) will help us make the crucial decisions we all face. What will we do with our new-found leisure time? What were the day dreams of our youth? What have we always wanted to do but were afraid to try? What are the things that matter most in our lives?
-- our children,
-- our grandchildren,
-- our spouse,
-- our work,
-- our special interests,
-- our religion.
.
Somewhere in this mix we should be able to identify passions with potential to transcend mere personal pleasure, something that benefits others, makes the world a better place. Something that we can pursue with a whole heart and experience a resultant robustness unknown to our youth. My friend Bob Wilmott and his Ethiopian prison ministry comes immediately to mind as a classic example, although we don't all have to travel across the globe to realize our passion. Bruce Huff is another who pursues his old-timers hockey and slow pitch softball with enthusiasm and a fire in his belly that is almost unbelievable.
..
Personally, Wrights Lane has become a passion beyond my fondest expectations. I get totally lost in it...and I do it for my readers too. And something else: I just realized that the above list of potential passions is, in reality, my personal list of passions. I am a lucky guy! My life's cup overflows with passion.
.
What fuels a fire within you, dear reader? If you can answer that question, then you have identified a bonafide passion. I pray that you will work the daylights out of it -- and be lucky like me, Bob and Bruce.

22 March, 2009

HOME! SWEET HOME!


Cover of sheet music for the 1914 publication of "Home Sweet Home", composed by Henry Bishop, lyrics by John Howard Payne.
---------------------------------------
Think about this for a minute.
.
Where do you look forward to going after a hard day's work? When you are not feeling well, where do you want to be most? After a trip or a long vacation, what looks good to you? What is your shelter on a stormy day? When you think about parents and childhood, what immediately comes to mind? Where do you retreat to find rest from the toils and annoyances of life? In all the world, where do you feel the most comfortable? If you are lucky, where does your sweetheart live? .

The answer to all those questions, of course, is "HOME" with its oh-so-familiar cracks, creaks, dents and characteristics known only by you. Home is warm! Home is safe! Personally, home is my sanctuary in every aspect of my life. It is my favorite place!
.
Oh sure, I enjoy travelling and visiting new places but I do less and less of it as the years pass. In truth, I have everything I need at home. The lure of other places pales in comparison to my desire to be home. I am sure it is that way for most readers of Wrights Lane.
.
The word home touches every fibre of the soul and strikes every chord of the human heart. Nothing but death can break its spell. What tender associations are linked with home? What pleasing images and deep emotions it awakens. It calls up the fondest memories of life and opens in our nature the purest, deepest, richest gush of consecrated thought and feeling.
.
So many expressions have been coined around home.
.
-Home sweet home.
-Home is where the heart is.
-Home is where you hang your hat.
-It takes a lot of livin' to make a house a home.
-There's no place like home.
.
Essays, poems and songs have been written about home, the most popular being the 150-year-old song "Home! Sweet Home!"
.
"Mid pleasures and palaces though we roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
.
Sung like a hymn but originally a secular song, Home! Sweet Home! is a story about somebody going away from home, roaming around, falling on hard times, and then going back home to get a soothing caress from mother and a fond smile from father.
.
None of us were yet around at the time, but history records that some 20,000 people gathered in old Castle Garden, New York, to hear Jennie Lind sing, as no other songstress ever had, the sublime compositions of Beethoven, Handel and other music masters. In the middle of her performance it seems that the Swedish Nightingale had a flash of nostalgia. She began to think of her home and paused briefly before pouring forth, with deep emotion, "Home! Sweet Home!"
.
The audience could not stand it. An uproar of applause stopped the music. Tears gushed from those thousands like rain.
.
Beethoven and Handel were forgotten. After a long pause Jennie resumed the song, her voice seemingly coming from heaven, almost angelic. It was one of those special moments and it was the word home that bound, as with a spell, 20,000 souls that day.
.
When we look at the simplicity and brevity of "Home! Sweet Home!" we are moved to ask, what is the charm that lies concealed in this classic song? The answer is easy. Next to religion, the deepest and most endurable sentiment in the human soul is that of our feelings for home. Every heart vibrates to this theme.
.
Home has an influence which is stronger than death. It is law to our hearts, and binds us with a spell which neither time nor change can break.
..
For me, it is an inspiring hope that, when we separate from this earth, there is an eternal home awaiting us on the other side. Sweet home! Beautiful home! Glorious home! Peaceful home! Home with each other! Everlasting home!.

Through the grace of God, we will always have a place called home.

20 March, 2009

THE IMPORTANCE OF A LIFE GAME PLAN

I feel compelled to take one more kick at the can before leaving the subject of coaching and youth. I have written and talked extensively on the subject, at the risk of my words falling on deaf ears, but I take one more stab at it here because my life is currently crossed with a number of young people on the cusp of adulthood. We may never walk this way again.

There are two paths in life and it is crucial for the young man or woman, emerging from the relative comfort of their carefree teens, to consider these two ways soberly and earnestly before moving on. If they choose a path that truth and reason tell them will lead to honor, success and happiness, they have chosen wisely. The other path is too well known to need description.

It is a sad awakening when, after a lapse of 20 years, we find ourselves amid ruined hopes -- to sit down with folded hands and say, "So far I have failed. Life really sucks! Is this what I can expect for the rest of my life?" Trust me, I have been there, so naive that I actually thought that my dreams and fantasies alone were enough to carry me through. Only trouble was, I washed out as a student and I had no life game plan beyond baseball at which I was a has-been at 19-years-of-age. In the absence of a plan for my life, I really had to scramble to catch up. Sometimes I think that I am still playing catch up.


The first thing that I had to learn is that life is what you make it. If it is mean and cruel, it is because we make it so. The mystery of our being, the necessity of action, the relation of cause and effect, the dependence of one thing upon another, the mutual influence and affinity of all things, assure us that life is for a purpose and it can be quite fulfilling and wonderful.

Almost too late, I came to realize that at the outset of a career we must form the solemn purpose to make the most and the best of the powers -- the strengths, the talents, the skills -- that we were born with and to turn, to the best possible account, every outward advantage within reach. We are wise, also, to have a contingency or backup plan, should unforeseen circumstances develop in our life.

The purpose of which I speak should carry with it the assent of reason, the approval of conscience and the sober judgement of intellect. It should also embody within itself whatever is vehement in desire, inspiring in hope, thrilling in enthusiasm and intense in desperate resolve. Such a plan of life saves us from many a damaging contest or challenges that offer unhealthy temptations. It will regulate the way we approach our education, sports and recreational activities. For those just starting out in adulthood, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that by studying, training and laboring under the inspiration of such a purpose, there is every possibility of soaring out of sight of those who barely allow themselves to be carried along by the momentum of the machinery to which they are attached.

Many pass through life without even a consciousness of where they are, what they are, and what they are doing. They gaze on whatever lies directly before them in fond amusement lost. In effect, they never grow up!

I like the wisdom of the great football coach Vince Lombardi who said: "The quality of a man's (or woman's) life is in direct proportion to his (her) commitment to excellence, regardless of his (her) chosen field of endeavor."

And speaking of football, the NFL/NFF in the States has created a most commendable program as part of its youth development initiative. "Power 4W" consists of four important elements: Wishpower, Wantpower, Waypower and Willpower, all of which warrant closer scrutiny.

The first step, Wishpower, requires you to think about what you would like your life to be like in five or 10 years from now. Would you like to be in college, or if you are already would you like to be a doctor, business executive, actor or professional athlete? Would you like to have a family? This vision of the future must be your ideal, not what you would settle for. Don't be afraid to dream!

Having thought about the future, you need then to set the proper goals that will get you there. This is the step called Wantpower. Goals are very important because they keep you motivated, give you direction, and give you a sense of pride and accomplishment once you achieve them.

Once you have set your goals, it is important to design a strategy or game plan in order to achieve them. In the Waypower stage it is helpful to complete a goal ladder which will allow you to climb toward you ultimate goal one step at a time and also make progress visible.

Of course, setting goals is much easier than actually achieving them. As I said previously, obstacles with potential to impede your progress, can arise at any time. If you are prepared with an effective defense and have the Willpower to overcome roadblocks, you will be on the way to an ideal future.

When problems arise, as they most assuredly will, take a deep breath, go for a walk, clear your mind so that you can put the situation in perspective. This will then allow you to think of all the choices that you have; which choices will lead you to the right decision and which options will lead to the wrong decision. Finally, respond to the situation with the decision that will get you one step closer to your goal -- an ideal future for you and the special significant others who will come into your life.

Good luck!

18 March, 2009

A BOY WHO MADE A BIG CATCH


I am introducing a new blog site today, "A Boy Who Made A Big Catch".
.LAD
This is a story about a 14-year-old lad that I took under my wing as a minor baseball bantam coach quite a few years ago. Gary, by his own admission, was "not very good" at baseball but he gave his coach a gift that I will never forget. It is my favorite baseball story. Hope you enjoy it too!

15 March, 2009

YOUNG BILL HAS COME A LONG WAY

Mr. Fastball personified
Bill was a robust 12-year-old, just a little on the heavy side and big for his age. He lived with his parents across the street from us on nondescript old-town Weldon Avenue in St. Thomas. He loved baseball. So did I. It was only natural that we became chums in spite of our 15-year age differential.

..
.Photo: Bill's boys celebrate a Canadian Championship victory.
..
Bill was always there, appearing out of nowhere the minute I came out of the front door or drove in the driveway. His baseball glove would generally be close at hand. I never had to ask, "Do you want to toss a few?" It was a foregone conclusion.
..
I was a year removed from playing in the Senior Intercounty Baseball League and was coaching the St. Thomas Tom Cats in the Junior I-C at the time. I was also sports editor at the St. Thomas Times-Journal, so I was an easy and convenient mark for a kid like Bill. An attentive listener, he was a sponge for my sports trivia.
..
He had a quick analytical mind for his age and at times you could almost hear the wheels turning. He was starting to show promise as a peewee pitcher in the St. Thomas Minor Baseball Association, but in playing catch with me he would often mix a softball underhand delivery with his baseball overhand pitches -- a precursor of things to come.
..
It did not take long for me to invite Bill to become bat boy for the Junior Tom Cats and he readily accepted, even joining me on road trips. I looked for ways to highlight his name in minor baseball writeups and even took a photo of him for insertion in the newspaper when the occasion called for it. For some reason, I just felt that he needed the encouragement.
..
As unbelievable as it seems, the foregoing took place in the mid 1960s. Now, turn the clock ahead some 40 years.
..
Bill Horne is one of the most successful and celebrated fastball pitchers and team managers in Canada.
..
As a teenager "the kid across the street" turned exclusively to fastball and quickly became a top pitcher in Ontario senior men's competition. He also swung a potent bat, winning the Memorial League batting championship one season. In all, his playing career encompassed an amazing four decades. But it is as a coach and manager that Bill is truly leaving his mark on fastball in Canada.
..
He officially moved to coaching in the St. Thomas and District City League in 1985 and his teams promptly carried off five league championships. Since then he has coached at the junior, intermediate and senior levels of fastball in Ontario. Between 1997 and '99, Bill's Fingal Juniors twice won the Ontario Amateur Softball Association Eliminations and advanced to the Canadian Junior Championships three times, winning gold in 1998. Advancing to senior competition in 1999, Bill took his Fingal team all the way to the Canadian Senior Championships and a bronze medal finish.
..
He coached the Waterloo Twins for the next three years, placing second in the Canadian Senior Men's Championship in 2000 and 2003, winning Senior Eliminations in 2002. In 2004 Bill took the Union Storm (St. Thomas district) to the Ontario Senior Elimination Championship and another berth in the Canadian Senior Men's Championship tournament.
..
The highlight of his coaching career came in 2005 when he put together the St. Thomas Evergreen Centennials from scratch and won the Canadian senior men's championship on home grounds. The team repeated as Canadian champs the following year in Prince George, B.C. Last year the Centennials came away from the championship tourney in Saskatoon with a third-place bronze medal finish.
.
He has also coached at five world championship tournaments and has had four Top Ten finishes. Add that to his two gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the Canadians and you have an impressive, unequalled record. He was inducted into the OASA Coaches Honor Roll after his Canadian championship season in 2005.
.
Constructively critical and controversial at times, Bill is well respected in the fastball community. "His players love to play for him as indicated by those from across the province who return to play for him each year," commented one supporter. "He just does a remarkable job of putting successful teams together."
.
Life has not been all a bed of Roses for Bill and his wife Donna. He dedicated the 2005 Canadian Championship to his 19-year-old daughter Katie who was suffering from aggressive brain cancer. Katie was well enough to work as a volunteer in the tournament and she was at her father's side when he accepted the gold medal symbolic of Canadian fastball supremacy. She passed away several months later after a year-long struggle with the insatiable disease.
.
With a piece of his heart missing, Bill has not relinquished interest in the game he loves. Ever the promoter and organizer and in the role of tournament chairman and general manager, Bill has again been instrumental in bringing the Canadian Men's Championship back to St. Thomas this summer, August 30 to September 6. He previously led a large group of St. Thomas volunteers in 1999 and 2005 in obtaining the rights to host the tournament.
.
Icing on the cake would be another gold medal for Bill and his Centennials on home ground this summer. Don't discount it!
.
.
Hey Bill, your old chum is dammed proud of you! You no longer need the encouragement, but I'm doing this one last writeup for you anyway!
.
Give me a call some time and we'll toss a few.
.

*My next post: "No Talent Kid Saved the Day"

14 March, 2009

WE REAP WHAT WE SOW IN LIFE

My thesis: Love is positive, stronger and always conquers hatred. On the other hand, if you meet hatred with hatred, you simply intensify it.

How earth-shattering and profound can that be? "Not very," you say? But how often we forget! I know that I have had lapses of memory when it came to that age-old truth.

One of the sages that I seem to be in the habit of quoting in recent posts, has said: "Always meet petulance with gentleness and perverseness with kindness. A gentle hand can lead even an elephant by a hair. Reply to thine enemy with gentleness. Opposition to peace is sin."

How often have we heard the expression, "Never mind, I'll get even with him." But the question remains, will you? And how would you do it? Well, you could do it in one of two ways.

1) You could deal with him as he deals, or apparently deals, with you. Pay him, as we say, in his own coin. In so doing, however, you would get even with the individual by sinking to their level with the result that more often than not the two of you would end up suffering.

Or, 2) you could show yourself to be the larger by demonstrating love in place of hatred, kindness instead of ill-treatment, and in so doing "get even" by raising the other party to the higher level. The upside to this choice of action, of course, is the fact that you can never help another person without actually helping yourself at the same time. Here the old adage: "You reap what you sow!" certainly holds true.

Then there is an often forgotten bonus. The person that we forgive, or help, may just turn around and return the compliment for someone else, thereby contributing to a care-encumbered society. Funny how it works, isn't it?

Suffice to say, we need more gentleness, sympathy and compassion in our common human life today. Just a little something to think about this weekend as we welcome some early signs of spring and all the potential for renewal that comes with it.

11 March, 2009

A NICE CHAT WITH AN OLD DRESDENITE


If you are not a former Dresdenite, you do not have to read this item. It is just another in a long list of pleasant surprises I have had since launching Wrights Lane and accompanying site Dresden: Father and Son Turn Back the Clock.
.. .
(Gary Fraser is shown in the small photo above with his grandson, Liam.)
.
I just got off the phone after a 20-minute conversation with Gary Fraser who lived in Dresden as a young lad, 1946 to 1955. He was calling from Southern California on his nickle. Gary's father Harry was a prominent businessman who operated a dry goods/drapery store business in downtown Dresden.
.
We have been exchanging email messages since late last year, but this was our first opportunity to chat over the phone. Our conversation was wide ranging and included an odd collection of names from the past such as Roy Stevenson, Christine and Brian Perry, the Cook family, Dave McCracken, Don Coke, Myrtle Brown, Sally King, Joe Harret, Eric Simpson, Bob Peters and Bruce Huff.
.
Gary even told me an amazing story about a horse he once owned by the name of "Doc" (named after veterinarian Dr. Boylen). It seems that as a young Walpole Island stallion, Doc was being loaded on a truck destined for the glue factory when he resisted capture and injured himself so severely that he had to be left behind. That's when Dr. Boylen came to his rescue and eventually nursed him back to health.
.
That was only the beginning of the Doc story, but I will not take it any further because Gary is very tempted to write his own story about it and it is his to tell like nobody else could.
.
Gary and Doc were popular regulars at area fall fairs and horse shows for quite a few years, before his interest turned to "girls and cars" (Gary, that is, not Doc). I well remember my friend Joe Carr and his "Blackie", followed not too long after by Gary and Doc, drawing appreciative applause from the crowded grandstands. If I remember correctly, both Joe and Gary rode bareback too.
.
Gary moved to Sarnia with his family and finished high school there in 1958. He subsequently lived in Sault Ste Marie, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. Along the way the Frasers had four children, two boys and two girls. He moved from Vancouver to Southern California in late 1995 where he met and married his beautiful bride, Sue. He continues to operate a successful concrete pump business in what he calls "semi retirement". The current recession has forced him to become more active in the daily operation of the business than he had planned.
..
As much as he has moved across the country in the past 50 years, Gary reserves a soft spot in his heart for Dresden. He has even attended several Lambton Kent District High School reunions and loves to talk old times. I look forward to more chats with him in the future. There's a whole bunch of other Dresden names that we didn't get to.

10 March, 2009

THANK GOD...AND FACEBOOK!

A WONDERFUL DISCOVERY: All my WRIGHTS LANE posts that were mysteriously lost a few weeks ago may be accessed from my Facebook page. Just look for the title note of the item that interests you, i.e. A Little Child Shall Lead Us, Kay Snelgrove/Intrepid Spy, Turning Grains of Sand Into Oysters (series), The Significance of Feathers, Giving Flight to Becky's Feathers. Click on "Facebook/Dick Wright", below to view/sign in.

Facebook | Dick Wright

Visit "My Facebook" to pick up on Wrights Lane posts you may have missed, Dec 1/08 to Feb. 28/09

09 March, 2009

LIVING IN THE PAST? FIND A BALANCE

...It helps make your future
..
I often wonder if in the twilight of my life I spend too much time living in the past, remembering with fondness days of yore. I admit to some concern about my penchant for nostalgia and it has forced me to do some serious thinking on the subject.
.
I understand that the present is only a fleeting moment, an instant that passes at once into the past. It then escapes our influence so utterly that it is beyond the reach of our wildest imagination. It is not unusual for one to behave as if the future is completely and irrevocably forfeited by what was done in the past. It does not necessarily apply to me, but this conviction is so deep in some people that they continue to live in the past while in the present and thus confirm their expectation, namely that the past is binding.
.
I think that I balance my reflective moods fairly well and healthfully. They are not affected in the least by regret or remorse. My reflection is always warm and happy, so I can take consulation in that. The insights of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais encourage me in this regard. In his foundational book The Potent Self, he explains that the present is the time in which we live, and what we do with our present selves is the most important thing for us. "The past is carried into the future through our present selves; what we do now is the key factor for our tomorrow. If we do nothing to change our emotional pattern of behavior, tomorrow will resemble yesterday in most details except the date. The past is history, the future is a guess -- the present makes them both what they are," he adds.
.
So I think I hear Feldenkrais advocating that we try not to forget the past, because that is impossible. Pleasant or unpleasant, the details are stamped in our body and mind. We can use those memories to make our present a vital basis for a fuller, more absorbingly interesting future.
.
Maturity itself is a process, and not a final state. It is a process to be celebrated, a natural evolution whereby past experiences are broken up into constituent parts and new patterns are formed out of them to fit current circumstances. Good memories of the past are to be nurtured and carried with us into our present. Bad memories should be rationalized and left in the past where they belong. As I concluded in a dissertation on stress and faith last week, the secret in all of this is to foster a happy balance in all aspects of our lives.
..
I will continue to savor my nostalgic wanderings down Wrights Lane, convinced that "I'm alright, Charlie!" Convinced too that nostalgia adds a fulfilling dimension to life.
.
Together we sentimentalists, wrapped in the comfort and warmth of fond memories, will be alright too! It's nice where we live...It took us a long time to get there!
-----------------------------------------
Thought for today: "In just two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday?"

06 March, 2009

THE PRINCIPLE OF UNIVERSAL RELIGION

All scriptures are "inspired"
.
There is a golden thread that runs through every religion in the world. There is also a common golden thread that runs through the lives and teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages and saviours in the history of the world and through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power. All that they have ever done or attained has been in full accordance with the devine law of the universe which has its basis in truth and love.
.
I may be open to criticism for what I am going to write here. "Schooled" theologians may even say my views are simplistic and if that is the case I am pleased because simplicity in religion has been a long sought-after goal of mine.
.
The "oneness" in religion is often ignored in an elite sort of way and it is to our peril.
.
Let us not be among the number so dwarfed, so limited, so bigoted as to think that the Infinite God has revealed Himself to one little handful of His children, in one little quarter of the globe, and at one particular period of time. Consider for a moment that at last count there were 19 major world religious groupings, subdivided into a total of about 10,000 distinct religions. Within Christianity alone, 34,000 separate faith structures have been identified. Lump in the other three major religious groups -- Hindus, Muslims and Jews -- and you have a tip-of-the iceberg feeling for the enormity of world religion.
.
Most religious groups teach that their own beliefs and practices are the only true ones, and that all other faith groups contain some degree of error. We must understand, however, that the sacred books, the inspired writings, all come from the same source -- a God speaking through the souls of those who have opened themselves to the inspired message they have received, or perceived. Some of the ancient scribes may have been more inspired than others, depending entirely on the relative degree of how open they were to the Devine voice.
.
The great fundamental principles of all religions differ only in the minor details according to the various degrees of understanding of different people. When we fully realize this truth, we will then see that it makes little difference what particular form of religion one holds to, but it does make a tremendous difference in how true one is to the vital principles of their chosen religion or faith. It makes a difference in how we love self less and love truth more, and in the degree to which we care less about converting people to our particular way of thinking, but all the more in how we aid them in coming into the full realization of the truth through the channels best suited to them.
.
-- "Whatever road I take joins the highway that leads to Thee," says the inspired writer in the Persian scriptures. "Broad is the carpet God has spread, and beautiful the colors he has given it."
.
-- "The pure man respects every form of faith. My doctrine makes no difference between high and low, rich or poor; like the sky, it has room for all, and like the water it washes all alike," says the Buddhist.
.
-- "The broad-minded see the truth in different religions; the narrow-minded see only the differences," says the Chinese philosopher.
.
-- The Hindu has said: "The narrow-minded ask, 'Is this man a stranger, or is he of our tribe?' But to those in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family...Alter flowers are of many species, but all worship is one."
.
-- "Heaven is a palace with many doors, and each may enter in his own way...Are we not all children of one Father?" says the Christian.
.
Religion is a complex human institution that we should at least try to address and understand in order to get a better handle on who we are as human beings. There are, of course, the numerous complicated creeds of the various religions arising from the interpretations of different people. The more open the soul, the less important these differences become in the mind of a contented, fulfilled, understanding person of faith.
.
To my mind, the moment we lose sight of the aforementioned we depart from the real, vital spirit of true religion and allow ourselves to be limited and bound by form. To the degree that we do this we build fences around ourselves which keep others away from us, and which also prevent our coming into the realization of universal truth. There is nothing worthy of the name of truth that is not universal. The "us and them" syndrome has potential to destroy the world, in fact it is destroying the very society in which we live today.
.
It was Tennyson who said: "I dreamed that stone by stone, I reared a sacred fane, a temple, neither pagoda, mosque, nor church; but loftier, simpler, always open-doored to every breath from heaven, and Truth and Peace and Love and Justice came and dwelt therein."
.
I was both surprised and pleased to recently read an article by Rev. Dr. Joseph McLelland, professor emeritus at McGill University and Presbyterian College, Montreal, where he posed the question: "Instead of assuming that Christianity is the centre (of a universal map of faiths), with other religions moving around it as errors, what if we see them all as moving around God, with their own varieties of faith and truth?" McLelland suggests further the need to listen to the witness of others, "shifting from the old imperialism of mission (which assumed that we speak and they listen), comparing Saviors for instance -- before expecting them to hear our part."
.
Religion in its true sense is the most joyous thing that the human soul can know, and when the real religion is realized, we will find that it will be an agent of peace, joy, happiness, and never an agent of gloomy, long-faced sadness.
.
Adequacy for life, adequacy for everyday living here and now, must be the test of all true religion. If it does not bear that test, then it is simply not a religion. Our churches and religious institutions fail if they do not provide an everyday, this-world opportunity for eternal life -- bringing people into a knowledge of their true selves and encouraging them to make the best of each moment of time as it presents itself day after day.
.
If we fail in doing this, we fail in everything.

05 March, 2009

ABOUT FAITH...AND A FEW OTHER THINGS

My face has taken on Water Buffalo proportions after four hours of dental surgery in Hanover on Wednesday. Not to worry, however, this too shall pass.
.
I was gingerly spooning Cream of Wheat between swollen lips this morning when a Page 2 story in the Toronto Star caught my attention, "Stressed out? Have a little faith!" My philosophy exactly. I had to read more.
.
According to the report, a team of Toronto researchers has found that strong religious convictions can lower stress and enhance the performance of basic tasks. They came to that conclusion after putting 28 students through tests measuring both their religious fervour and their stress at making mistakes on a test. The students came from a variety of backgrounds, including Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist.
.
Michael Inzlicht, a psychological professor and lead author of the study in Psychological Science, said that religious people have a belief system to help them make sense of the world, so they can better accept the occasional mistake. He calls anxiety a "double-edged sword". While it can be a good thing to feel less stress, anxiety also pushes us to correct our mistakes and remain productive.

.
The key, it would seem then, is to find the right balance. We can do that! We just need to have faith.
.
AND IN PASSING...
.
...Thanks folks: I really appreciate followers of Wrights Lane who passed on kind words of support this past weekend as I was struggling to deal with the mysterious loss of 5o of my most recent posts. Turns out that there is a weakness in the Google blogger system that has yet to be resolved. I am amazed at the number of others who have experienced exactly the same problem.
.
...Just couldn't hold this one back: It may not qualify as one of her famous "Malaprops", but Rosanne came up with a good one yesterday. I have a habit of teasing her, sometimes unmercifully...Yesterday was one of those occasions. I can't remember now exactly what I was teasing her about, but it must have been pretty annoying. "You, you..." she said, pausing as if searching for something descriptive enough..."You're nothing but a hyprocondriac gone bad!" she shouted in frustration. I admit, her response did make me feel a bit strange. Was I ill, or was I just imagining it?

.
...Today's headline: "Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake"

02 March, 2009

YOU CAN'T WIN IF YOU CAN'T READ


It's RRROLL UP THE RIM time again at Tim Hortons. So far Rosanne and I are 0 for 6, so we are due to break into the winner's circle any time now.
.
We were in Tim's the last time they ran the promotion and sitting at a table next to us were two young women. The one we knew to be marginally challenged and the other was obviously her case worker. They were having an animated conversation over coffees that they were just finishing. Reaching for her coat, the case worker pushed the two empty cups over to her friend saying, "You'd better check to see if we won anything."
.
"Oh, I get these all the time and I never win," she said in return as she rolled up the rim, first on one cup and then on the other. "Try again, try again (please play again)," she repeated with disgust. "See, I told you!"
.
As the case worker rose to her feet, she casually picked up one of the cups and checked the rim. "Hey, what do you mean? We won a free donut," she announced with surprise, as if not believing her eyes.
.
"How should I know?" came the response. "I can't read!"
.
The "word" according to Rosanne
..
It's been a while since we've heard from Rosanne, the queen of Malaprop, and her Rosanneisms.
.
--Last Monday she asked: "Are we going to have pancakes on Shroud Tuesday?" Meaning of course: "Are we going to have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?" Pretty close, you have to admit.
.
--My birthday was on Sunday and as the evening was winding down, Rosanne asked: "Are you going to give me a kiss in the postpartum of your birthday?" Depression after pregancy was not exactly how I would describe it, but try as I may I can't come up with a reasonable substitute for postpartum. "Late stage" or "afterglow" would work but neither comes close to postpartum. She got a kiss, anyway.
*FOLLOWUP NOTE: This morning Rosanne was back on the subject of my birthday, only this time it was the "post mortem" of my birthday that she was talking about. I said "Rosanne, if you're asking for another kiss, I want you to know that this is a dead issue!"