What’s On My Menu? Annie Needs You…

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Image courtesy of Pixhere.com

I’m not about to write of food
Or remembrance of repasts

My blog is clogging up right now
And I need your help real fast.

I used to have a sub-menu
That offered all my oeuvre

But a WP Engineer warned
Its growth was a SNAFUer.

S/he led me to the solution
That’s inspired this short chat

To see if what works for WP
Isn’t a bothersome gnat.

I’ve passed my one-hundredth post,
To me, that’s really cookin’

Computerwise, it’s not too bad
A widget* helps those lookin’

So to the right of the full texts
Linked titles are there to see.

I like to keep them all in view
And many seem to agree.

My stats tell me that lots of folks
Read posts going quite far back

But on your phone to reach that list,
You must scroll, scroll, scroll—alack!

Our Happy WP Engineers
Have told me what to do:

You must change your design, they say–
Or else we just can’t help you.

But I like the look I have now
I really hope to keep it.

So I turn to you, dear readers
It’s time you interceded.

Must I choose between my fond wish
You see all posts, come what may—

And my perhaps stronger hope this
Menu won’t drive you away?

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

______________________

Ok—enough with the rhyme. I know I should be archiving older posts, but if I do,  I’m not at all sure that as many people would read them. 

Often after five or six older posts have each received a single view, the next day I’m pleased to welcome a new subscriber. The ease of perusing those lists is clearly helpful in exploring my work.

And I realize that most of you are probably reading my most recent one or two posts as they appear, so this may not be an issue for you at all. I would still welcome your observations.

Is a tradeoff necessary? Please let me know your thoughts about my current setup and any possible ideas for helping me accomplish my dual goals. 

If scrolling through all those posts on your phone to get to the linked titles is a drag, please tell me. All suggestions are welcome, as long as you’re kind.

*Explanatory note for my email subscribers: “In WordPress, widgets are blocks of content that you can add to your site’s sidebars, footers, and other areas…” 

If you’re viewing this on your computer, the sidebar widget facilitates the index. But since on the side of the phone there’s no room for it, the linked list appears at the very bottom of those now many posts.

Annie

Continue reading “What’s On My Menu? Annie Needs You…”

My Fraught Relationship With The Man-In-The-Box

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Jack in box vector image Courtesy of freesvg.org

I reallyreallyreally do not like inanimate objects talking to me. I avoid Siri, preferring to do my own research than to hear her voice—or to have her record my every Internet search (though I hold no illusions about privacy anymore…). I am not tempted to invite Alexa into my home to find that old Sinatra record for me, thank you very much. 

And back in the day when we actually got into cars and drove places, I always resented the high-pitched voice of that GPS woman, who on occasion directed us to dead-end streets and once recommended that we exit sharply to the right when we were in the middle of a bridge.

I’m not accusing her of malicious intent, but her satellite-guided bumbling was not a confidence-builder. I am perfectly capable of bumbling on my own.

Why then, do I invite the man-in-the-box into my life practically every day? It’s because he’s integral to The Device, which shall go nameless so that I’m not guilty of unintended promotion—or worse. 

Let me sidepedal a bit here and note that I am very receptive to integrative medicine, which brings together the best from East and West. My daily meditation, linking me to the Buddhism of 2500 years ago, has been a great help.

I do try to stick with practices that are evidence-based, and to maintain a healthy skepticism about things that sound extreme to me—Eastern or Western.

When several people whose opinions I respect raved about a physician who practices integrative medicine, I made an appointment.

I wanted to see whether she would offer me new, preferably non-pharmacologic approaches for handling my chronic conditions: specifically migraines that I know have an anxiety component, and mild hypertension.

Well, some of what she suggested made no sense to me. But she recommended The Device, which she felt might help alleviate these issues. And it turned out that she was right.

It wasn’t inexpensive—costing several hundred dollars—but it involved deep breathing, so I felt it was sufficiently safe and akin to the meditation that’s a valued part of my life.

The beloved neurologist who treats me for migraines thought it was a good idea, as it’s a form of biofeedback, which is an evidence-based method to alleviate migraines.

A description: An elastic belt holding a sensor is attached to a computerish small box, as is a pair of earbuds. I snap the belt around my torso and insert the earbuds. Then I listen to the instructions that the little man-in-the-box provides. Note: I am substituting The Device for its brand name. 

Here’s how a session begins:

“Lean back and relax and listen to the music as The Device detects your individual breathing patterns,” he tells me.

If I perform that difficult task to his satisfaction for several seconds/minutes, he says, “The Device has detected your individual breathing patterns. Now breathe according to the guiding tones.” I hear sounds—bom, bom—and I match my breath to the tones. 

Sometimes, as in this morning, he immediately tells me I’ve reached the “therapeutic breathing rate,” which means I’m really cookin’. More often, seconds/minutes pass as he goads me with that familiar refrain: “Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out” before I reach that coveted goal.

Once there, I continue breathing in and out in sequence with the tones for another 14 “therapeutic” minutes (not sure why it’s that time length, but it always is) until he says, “The Device is turning off. Bye for now.” Let me tell you, I’m never sorry to part with him at that point.

And then I get to see how well I’ve performed by clicking on the box’s levers. Here’s where I realize my slight touch of OCD kicks in. I’m back in school, and I really want to do well. 

In fact, I usually do. The range deemed acceptable for the initial breathing rate is between 6 and 30 breaths per minute—the lower the better. I’ve never gone above 7.2; this morning’s readout was 5.2, which I guess means I had a pretty restful night’s sleep. 

The recommended final breathing range is 5-10 breaths per minute, and I’m nearly always below that—usually 4.8-4.9. Occasionally, I’ve gotten to 4.3, which is nearly Yogi territory, I think. More about that shortly. 

The Device also reports my synchronization rate (how well I synchronize my breathing with the tones) and my breath detection rate (how well the sensor can recognize my in-and-out breaths).

I’m usually right where I should be with those as well. Except if I cough or sneeze. Or hiccup. Then all bets are off.

But I’ve learned one especially bitter lesson. If my initial inhalations are too long while the sensor is assessing my pattern, once the tones begin, I wind up struggling to match them. And the man-in-the-box knows it. He chides me: “Don’t hold your breath!” 

Try breathing in for longer than you possibly can—and continue for 14 minutes—and you’ll see what it’s like. (Actually, just take my word for it; it’s not something a sensible person would do.) 

The lesson I learned: When using The Device, never-ever breathe in for long, lest the sensor monster constantly remind me of my failure.

In such instances, my synchronization rate would ensure a “needs additional work” message on my school report card.

He (my electronic tormenter) has also on more than one occasion said: “Try to breathe more evenly.” I make an effort not to take offense that he’s dissatisfied with my performance.

And he is oh-so picky about that sensor. “Tighten the sensor,”  he’ll command. Or  “loosen the sensor.”  Even “reposition the sensor.” His standards are high. I scramble to do his bidding. 

I used to strap on The Device just before bedtime, but I found all kinds of reasons not to go through the process then. So it’s now the first thing I do upon awakening—after taking a long drink of water to prepare my dry mouth for the routine.

Sometimes I wonder, as you may well, why I subject myself to this regimen-with-verbal-abuse on a daily basis. Of course, I always have the option of shutting the darn thing off.

But, while The Device hasn’t totally replaced medication, it really has done what the doctor said it might: migraine frequency diminished, blood pressure low-normal, anxiety lessened.

So I’m locked in to this challenge. Plus, in these pandem-icky days, I figure it’s not so bad to give my lungs a bit of a regular workout.

And then I meditate and express lovingkindness for all the nasty thoughts I’ve had about the bossy little man-in-the-box.

Annie

Another Trip to the Lighter Side…and a Message of Hope

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I guess I’m making a large leap in assuming that a) you haven’t seen this photo before; and b) you’ve had the Zoom online experience that so many of us have been introduced to in this time of social distancing.

At any rate, this image makes me laugh, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too. Even if you haven’t “Zoomed,” with so many of us worldwide living in isolation, I can tell from various posts that there have been some pretty weird changes in our daily routines. For example: It’s 5 pm. Is it really necessary for me to exchange my pajamas for sweat pants and a T-shirt?

I send good wishes to you all, and hope things are as pleasant as possible as we make our way through the specter of the pandemic during this time of Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi, Vishu, the Bengali and Tamil New Years, the Buddhist Theravada New Year, and Spring.

(I just learned that one of the traditions of Theravada is to build sand castles, with the belief that the waves’ washing away the effort symbolizes the removing of one’s mistakes and enables personal renewal. It’s a reminder of our impermanence, which by coincidence was my theme when I wrote this poem quite recently.)

All these occasions call forth the hope for better days ahead–something that whether or not we follow a religion is sorely needed these days. I am especially thinking of those among us who are in pain, mentally and/or physically, or have suffered a loss.

Though we’re separated, we know what we must do to speed the process that will enable us to emerge from this pandemic and be together once again. To that extent, we do have a measure of control, even if it seems that events have overtaken us.

And then, I fervently hope, we can begin the important efforts to work together–locally, nationally, internationally–to make this a more just world, where we care for one another, ensure that extra attention and resources are provided to those who have been hardest hit,  and at last give Mother Nature her due.

Annie

Living Through a Pandemic: The Lighter Side

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The photo disproving the adage that duct tape is the answer to every need.

 

 

Please don’t get me wrong: I am appalled, shocked, infuriated, and beyond sadness at what’s become of our country and world.

But I also know that laughter is the best medicine, and even smiling has been shown to have a positive effect on our immune systems. As we all need our immune systems to be as strong as possible now, I thought I’d tell you some fun things—a few real, others of undetermined origins that have found their way to my inbox. (I hope you haven’t seen them already!)

Earlier this week, my husband and I, both in the vulnerable population due to our being past 60, set out for our every-day-it’s-not-raining walk. Our next-door neighbors, a lovely couple with two sons, ages 3 and 5, rode past us, each on a separate bike. 

The dad, bringing up the rear, offered to add our grocery list to his when he went to the supermarket on Saturday. We gratefully agreed. Then the three-year-old, up front on his little bike, offered his own assistance: “And if you have any monsters in your house, call me!” 

Imagine our good fortune having a monster-destroyer just steps from our home. We’d no idea. “Gee, I said to them, “you’re a full-service operation!”

We do go to the supermarket ourselves during the newly enacted “happy hour” (my term, not theirs) for seniors and other vulnerables: 6:00 to 7:30 am. Actually, my husband goes, as my body clock isn’t at all happy at that hour. 

I arise a little later and quickly begin my responsibilities, preparing the kitchen for THE DECONTAMINATION: the washing and spraying and otherwise new bloodless rituals to slay the invisible foe that may be (but probably isn’t) lurking in our groceries. 

Are we being super-cautious with our decontamination? Not according to Michigan Family Physician Jeffrey VanWingen, in this demonstration video.

Yes, according to Dave Price, an ICU physician at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York, whose soothing video says just wash your hands well after throwing away the bags. (His entire lengthy talk about protecting your family from the disease, though it has some technical glitches, is well worth watching–except that he keeps talking about Purell, which most of us can’t get.)

For the time being, we’ll err on the side of caution–even if our broccoli sometimes tastes a little soapy.

My husband describes his forays in the sparsely populated supermarket: he’ll start down the aisle, see someone about to enter from the other end, and reverse his direction. Simultaneously, the other person does the same. Result: the aisle remains empty in prime shopping time.

This pas de undo conjures up less a ballet than a scene from an old Western when both gunslingers at the OK Corral retreat simultaneously. Any suggestions for aisle etiquette arising from the new phenomenon will be most welcome.

When I hear horror stories about couples on the edge of divorce after just a few weeks (and the divorce rate has definitely soared in Wuhan, China), I realize how lucky we are. Our house isn’t large, but it’s big enough so that we can each have privacy. Thus, we haven’t been at each other’s throats, and we find enough absurdities in our situation to laugh a good deal. 

Except, that is, for the Bagel Dispute. It occurred because we are both aware that the stash of bagels from our beloved bagel store is rapidly dwindling—and alas! The store was an early casualty of the self-quarantine. We saw the owner, whom we’ve known for years, interviewed on the news, when he lamented that he just couldn’t keep going for long. 

Our last visit was three weeks ago, immediately after that interview. My husband quickly went in for a dozen bagels—buy six, get one free—which afforded us 14 bagels. 

He said the owner looked appropriately depressed. When my husband tried to cheer him up, acknowledging his 15 sad minutes of TV fame by requesting his autograph, the poor man glumly said, “You’re gonna have to pay me for it.” He and his bagels will be missed.

Back to our dispute. We cut the bagels in half and froze them in two large plastic bags. They’re big, so we usually have one-half at a time. Yesterday, after I had eaten a half, I thought there was one full bagel and one-half left in the bag I’d extracted it from. We took stock. There were two whole bagels in the other bag. “We have six halves,” quoth he. “No; we have seven,” insisted I. 

But the evidence-based fact, verified by the observation portion of the scientific method to which we firmly adhere, was that he was right, which made me, de facto, wrong. The big fat bagel half remaining in the bag sure looked like a full bagel, but it was not.

End of dispute. Cue more laughter. If this is how bad things get, and we’re lucky and careful, we’ll make it through. Of course, the bagels still aren’t completely gone…and bigger tests lie ahead.

At least we have enough toilet paper for the nonce—though we thought we should shore up a bit and found that was impossible. Who would have thought that toilet paper would be the gold bullion of this pandemic? 

Or that it would become the source of so many jokes. If you’re on FaceBook, you’ve surely seen the toilet paper roll in place, with each little square bearing a letter: M, T, W, T, F, S, S. Or perhaps you’ve seen the one that opens this post.

The astonishing news, according to an Op-Ed in The New York Times, is that we’ve had this toilet paper thing all wrong: toilet paper is BAD for us! Or so says writer Kate Murphy:

“…toilet paper is an antiquated technology that infectious disease and colorectal specialists say is neither efficient nor hygienic.” 

I’ve included the link so you can decide for yourselves whether this is one less concern for you to fret about—as long as you have running water. A bit of history for perspective: according to Murphy, substances that preceded toilet paper included “leaves, seashells, fur pelts, and corn cobs.” Ah, the good old days!

One of the things about the good old days a month or so ago was that most kids went to school. My heart goes out to parents who have also become their children’s teachers. This bit of pathos appealed to me:

Home Schooling Day 3: They all graduated. #Done.

Here’s one for all who care about writing well:

Out of an abundance of caution, the MLA and the Chicago Manual of Style will be reinstituting the “two spaces between each sentence.”

And the inevitable comparison with “Man’s Best Friend”:

You thought dogs were hard to train? Look at all the humans that can’t sit and stay.

Dogs have been the stars of a number of humorous bits. Here’s one of my favorites.

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The other is Pluto, the talking dog, whom I gave the last word to in a previous post. I didn’t realize at the time how many of you had already seen her. That was her first appearance, but she continues to show up, making Pluto Service Announcements, or PSAs, such as Please stay indoors, and make sure that you look people in the eyeballs from a distance and wag your tail.

Pluto has become an Internet sensation. I was especially impressed during her Monday Funday episode, which yielded this astute canine observation:

A lot of the socialers have asked me for suggestions about how to spend their time during this period of hashtag home. It’s not a stellar declaration of the two-legged imaginations that you’re asking me about this…

But I echo Pluto when she says:  “We’ve got this. We’re all in this together. Be kind to one another.”

If you have any smile- or laugh-inducing stories/jokes of your own, please insert them in the Comments box. Consider it a public service.

Annie

Continue reading “Living Through a Pandemic: The Lighter Side”

Wherein My Personal Blogosphere Expands Via a Fun Exchange With a Super New Acquaintance

I’ve often said that I’m one happy blogger: I love to write and to research new topics; I’m grateful for your feedback; and—this was one aspect of blogging that I hadn’t anticipated but is becoming one of the most valuable—I feel personally enriched by meeting so many extraordinary, talented people from all over the world.

The most recent is Judy Dykstra-Brown, a poet, writer, artist, and lecturer who blogs at Life Lessons. She’s a prolific blogger, posting something—sometimes several things—every day. That energy alone boggles my once-or-at-most-twice-weekly blogger mind!

My virtual meeting with Judy occurred in a manner that frequently happens among bloggers. As about 30% of my subscribers aren’t bloggers, I hope you WP folks will bear with me while I explain this process—very briefly.

Judy clicked on “like” concerning a comment I’d made on someone else’s blog. That triggered a WP email informing me of her action and citing some of her posts that I might find of interest. Intrigued, I visited her site. 

It’s a treasure trove, as you can imagine from the versatility I note above. I immediately knew I wanted to see more, so I clicked on “follow” and became one of her more than 5000 subscribers.

I was drawn to a funny little poem she’d written, which—as is often the case—fueled my own creativity. I responded in verse, and Judy then began to follow me. She also graciously reblogged one of my posts, a poem I’d titled “Chaos in America…BUT…We Can End It!” 

(An aside: The poem was written as a near-acrostic, in which the first letter of each line, viewed vertically, clearly spelled out the title. However, that little attempt at cleverness required indenting parts of the longer lines—formatting that apparently became lost when I had system problems and my WP advisors told me I needed a new menu. I didn’t realize the impact of the change until I saw the post again, lines now awry, with Judy’s reblog. The fix involves html, which is not my native language…so it may not happen soon. If you choose to read the poem, please note the bolded first letters.) 

Anyway, we had such fun with our first meeting that I thought I’d share with you Judy’s poem, my verse response, and our subsequent exchange.

Judy’s poem:

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Image courtesy of flickr.com

Piscine Phobia

I don’t eat salmon, don’t eat flounder.
I prefer my protein rounder—
chicken, roasts or food like that.
Fish is too fishy and too flat.

Tuna mixed with soup and noodle
I despise kit and caboodle!
Nothing could persuade me that
I should eat food fit for a cat.

I won’t eat food grown in a swamp,
so crabs and clams I never chomp.
No protein caught by motor boat
will ever pass my teeth and throat.

When dinner parties serve up chowder
I’m likely to just take a powder.
I simply can’t take the suspense
of what fish lurks in soup so dense.

So if you want to plan a treat
that I will find the nerve to eat,
once again, I must repeat,
forget the lobster. Give me meat!

And my comment:

“Give me meat,” the woman pleads,
But I must turn aside:
A bloody steak, a fatty slab
Will make my gorge uprise.

“No mammals” is my credo;
I find it tough enough
To eat a little Nemo
From seas serene or rough.

I used to love my bacon,
But now a baby pig
Reminds me I’m more comfortable
Just chewing on a fig.

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Image courtesy of needpix.com.

Judy’s response:

Touche!!! Ha. It takes all kinds of us in this world, right?

And mine:

It does indeed. And if we could all accept and embrace our differences with good humor, what a lovely world it could be!

————————

When I asked Judy if she was OK with my printing the above on my blog, she said, “Of course, you are most welcome to…It was a fun interchange. I predict future ones as well.”

I’ve written about inspirational people. After reading Judy’s bio. on her blog and information about the books she’s written, I’ve concluded that she’s clearly one of them. 

So with regard to future fun interchanges, the pleasure will certainly be mine!

Annie

Is There Anything Funny About the Coronavirus Pandemic?

How about this?

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I understand this cartoon appeared on FaceBook. If anyone knows the originator, I would love to give him/her credit.

I dedicate this post to my late friend Peter, who said–under the worst possible circumstances for him–

“Remember to laugh!”

Annie

UPDATE: I’m pretty sure we’ve located the creator. Thanks to a tip from my ace researcher friend Fran Kaufman, who also sent me the cartoon, I journeyed from a Twitter thread to FaceBook, eventually finding a message from a woman named Susan Madsen stating the following:

“MY SISTER ALICE MADSEN drew this. It’s HER Original work!”

So thank you, Fran, and Brava, Alice Madsen! Your work brought a whimsical touch of humor to many people who sorely needed it.

 

A Substitute Rant–

The WordPress Happiness Engineers are cheery;
They respond as best they can.

But a SNAFU is making me weary;
What you’re reading is not what I’d planned…

The stats say Saturday, 11 AM
Is when most of you visit my site;

So I worked my little tail off, man oh man
And completed my post last night.

But the morning brought a fearsome view:
The text and images were gone–

First from computer they said adieu,
Then vanished from my phone.

The Happiness Engineers are on my case;
I should hear in the days ahead.

So please keep an eye out as they retrace
A post that I hope ain’t dead.

The title from the original piece
Is all that remains from it now.

A part of it applies to this ditty, at least:
Am I on a rant? And how!

Annie

PS: As the saying goes: “Watch this space!”…please.

 

The Drabble Liked My Dabbling!

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I am a fairly verbose writer who’s long been wedded to my nonfiction status and believed myself incapable of writing fiction.

But on just my second try, my bite-sized piece of fiction has been accepted by The Drabble, a blog featuring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of 100 words or fewer. That’s quite nice, so I’d like to tell you about it.

The story began a few months ago, when I’d been blogging for just about a year. Suddenly, a strange black ink blot sort of thing appeared in my email. Some of you may recognize it, as it inspired my first Drabble effort, titled “What Is…?,” published here on July 1.

That ink blot, which I find ominous, is The Drabble avatar. They’re kinda mysterious there, so I’m not sure who’s behind The Drabble. Whoever he/she/they are (I’ll go with “they”), they had “liked” two of my lengthy nonfiction pieces.

I looked them up, and I then learned from other sources about the fascinating literary history of the drabble (going back to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and including a foray by Monty Python, as I explained here, in the Note beneath “What Is…?”). So I decided to try. 

I sent “What Is…?” to The Drabble and, true to their word, they responded within a month. That one didn’t work for them, but they encouraged me to try again. 

This effort occurred just as I was becoming aware (in a “Duh!” moment) that I was surrounded by short fiction. Indeed, “flash fiction”—brief little stories—are all the rage in the blogosphere.

I’ve since also become acquainted with fictional “prompts” that offer writers the challenge of weaving tales around individual words, photos, or maxims, with story limits set at 25 words, 37 words, and the like.

I’ve never tried one, but people seem to enjoy composing them. Turns out there are oodles of writers conjuring lots and lots of teensy tales—many of them very good.

And here I must mention Tetiana and Tony, who blog together as “Unbolt Me” and surely take the virtual prize: they often write stories that are six words long. As I suggested to them in a comment, six-word stories seem to me like hijacked haiku and come dangerously close to being a blank page. Yet they do it–provocatively!

I now see that there are even prompts for six-worders,  and the prolific Fandango, who’s full of fun and ingenuity, frequently responds to those. There are undoubtedly many others dabbling diminutively whose talents I haven’t yet had the pleasure to discover.

But I digress. I published my second short fictional post on my blog in August and called it “The Limitation of Limits.” It is actually a satire on the genre.

Fortunately, The Drabble folks have a sense of humor because they informed me a few days ago that they’d accepted it for publication, and it would appear that very afternoon. 

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Again true to their word, it did appear. For one day “The Limitation of Limits” was the most prominent Drabble on their post.

Each day, a newly featured Drabble assumes that premium real estate. So if you check out my Drabble there, you now have to look under “Older Posts.” (It’s dated October 31, 2019.) And if you like it, please feel free to click Like—and comment if you so choose. Here’s the link.

The Drabble printed my original post verbatim, albeit with a different illustration from mine (above), and the descriptor I provided:

“After decades writing what others asked of me, I am thrilled to have the freedom to follow my curiosity wherever it takes me. Not incidentally, I’ve always wanted my words to change the world—preferably for the better!” – the writer

Thanks to all of you for your continuing support through thick prose, thin fiction—and a smattering of poetry. Who knows what’ll spring up here next? I certainly don’t, though I have some ideas and works in progress. Last week it was my confessions of beetlecide (concluding with my first haiku).

I try to stay true to my self-imposed mission–and hope you think I hit the mark more often than not: to encourage “Dialogue to Inform, Enlighten, and/or Amuse You and Me.” Stay tuned…

Annie

 

OMG! What Would Albert Schweitzer Have Said?

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This is not my victim.

Last night, I committed premeditated Murder One.

Specifically, it was beetlecide. Doing so was not my first preference. If a nearby window had been open, I would happily have deposited the little being where it belonged. That is my normal modus operandi.

Albert Schweitzer had an influence. Schweitzer, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life,” reportedly believed that

“The ethical person goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything that is living; he doesn’t tear leaves from trees or step on insects…”

But this particular insect was wending its way along the parameters of a plastic bag to the left of my bedroom bureau—where I keep an untidy, in fact helter-skelterly overflowing mountain of such stuff to recycle as liners in our wastebaskets.

The fact that it (the beetle) was in an area so close to my bed raised the stakes vis-a-vis its imminent fate. Bedbugs would have been terrible, but bed beetle was not, to my mind, much better.

So while the beetle clung to the edge of the plastic bag, I carried it into the bathroom, where I committed it to an untimely watery death. At least I think I did. But who knows?

Lacking an entomology background, I couldn’t do an adequate I.D. It might be (present tense) a water beetle, in which case it could be gleefully swirling in the toilet eddies, soon to reascend—and possibly head straight toward my bed. It might even, next time, be accompanied by some compadres. So many tiny legs, marching in unison…

Still, I felt hypocritical. Last week, my post quoted the great spiritual leader Ram Dass about loving those one protests against as much as one loves oneself. Perhaps the beetle was lovingly calling my attention to those dreadful plastic bags—showing me that they had no place in my home—even if reused:

“Remember the post you wrote about climate change recently, Annie? Do you realize what damage you’re doing with all that plastic?”

(Wise emissaries show up in odd forms sometimes, don’t you think?)

And what did I do? I did not return its love. I did not even think of its possible message until it was too late. Instead, I used that pernicious plastic bag to transport it to what at best was a locale it hadn’t chosen to visit at that time. 

Where was the lovingkindness that’s so central to my mindfulness experience? I take it very seriously. And yet, without a backward glance, I had flushed it down the toilet. (To my regret, the ambiguous “it” in the previous sentence is both literal and metaphorical.)

Perhaps Ram Dass will forgive me? But I don’t think Albert Schweitzer would. As to my Inner Critic, the voice in one’s head that we imperfect mindfulness meditators know we must accommodate and not fight against or dwell upon—well, let’s just say we’re negotiating.

Alas, I just looked up a photo of a water beetle. No resemblance. Hence, my act was irretrievable. So the least I can do is create a memorial.

Haiku for a Dead Beetle

Merely existing
Luminescence and strangeness
Undeserving end

Annie