Saturday, March 22, 2008

The choices we make

I'm writing this on a Saturday where I'm more or less puttering around the place. But it's also a beautiful day here in the Puget Sound, a rare early spring day with sunshine. And even with cirro-cumulus clouds, thin as they are, the sun shines through. And despite the cool temperatures, freezing this morning and barely near normal with the sun's warmth, it's good enough to open the windows wide and clear the stale air inside. In short, a great day to be somewhere, but home.

But home is where I am, today. I often take days off from life, especially now in retirement - I won't say officially that I also took an occasional mental health day from work for days I just didn't feel like being there. Now it's often a day a week, one-seventh of my life, just to be home and not go anywhere, to just be here in comfortable surroundings and do what the moment thinks, such as mentally wandering in a post on this blog.

And I get to not think, but just open the mind to whatever occurs.

And in this day when the temperature barely sneaks into the low 50's, mild compared to the rest of the northern tier of this country this day, where snow falls on everything and freezing temperatures chill the day and people. And melting snow the river valleys south floods land and scurries people from their homes, I like to feel cold. As I get older, I get more sensitive to the cold, but I seem to feel the need to feel cold to some degree.

When I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, I wanted so to feel cold I sometimes drove to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, to just stand on the edge of time and feel cold. Down to my bones, down into my bones where cold had replaced everything part of my body's warmth. And then I would drive home. I still do that occasionally, stand in the cold day to just feel cold until my body is cold. And then I go inside.

I am always struck with this need. I suffer from Raynauds syndrome. I've always had cold hands, even in warm weather. People always said the old saying, "Cold hand, warm heart." Well, it's partly true because it's the result of this syndrome. And it was triggered during some field work at Big Creek near Grisdale. I never recovered and moved into supervisory and later technical management within a year.

And now anything cold, even taking something out of the refrigerator and especially the freezer gives me problems, where my hands begin to get so cold the fingers begin to stiffen. Within a few minutes, if I held it, I wouldn't be able to have much movement. In the winter the skin on my fingers becomes so tight it splits open under and along the nail, at the knuckles and especially at the tips of the fingers.

And in the last few years it's snuck into my toes. I love walking barefoot, even in the winter around the house or even outdoors for quick chores like the taking out the trash. But now, while I still walk barefoot, the toes get cold and start turning white, and turn bright red when blood flow returns. The issues of getting old, nothing new but it's still new to me.

And I get to putter in the kitchen. I love a nice eye roast. It's one of the few meats I can eat anymore as a result of an overly sensitive digestive system. I describe it as it's not what I can't eat anymore but what I can, all of which can be written on one 4x6 postit note. Makes shopping easy, one would think?

But nay. I love food and I love wandering in a good grocery store, the smell and sight of all the foods. It makes me feel alive and there in the moment. And the thought it all, through the tremendous global ecomonic system of today, exists for me then and there. If only we in America can learn to appreciate what this means when most of the world doesn't even know and many can't grasp the scene.

Because poverty rules the world. Poverty of our own making. Poverty we can overcome if it weren't for politics and greed. Simple human traits. We can't overcome those with our goodness. I haven't figured out why, and likely never will, but accept the opportunity I have now to experience a grocery store. And don't get me started on drug stores. Or shopping centers. The state of the world we have and live in. It should be better, and we're both the problem and the solution.

And so my mind can wander around the mischievous thoughts that happen. Even wonder who left their newspaper. And did they leave any thoughts with it or take them with them.

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