One Voice

… because one voice, armed with the truth, can help begin to heal the world.

A long summer without much reason to write

Sometimes it seems like every time I turn around, a month slips away.

I was horrified to see that it had been more than a month since the last time I wrote anything here, but I’ll be honest. Sometimes I feel like a lot of the stuff I write has no effect at all, at least beyond the people who know me and love me.

Maddie in action.

And even with them, I feel like I’m off there in space somewhere and not connecting with them.

Earlier this month, Pauline finished her two-year tour in Surabaya, Indonesia, and came through Georgia on a the second leg of a six-part vacation that will end in mid-August with the beginning of a three-year tour in Kingston, Jamaica. We had a wonderful week with our grandchildren. Maddie is nearly 4 years old now, and little Lex is coming up on 9 months.

We had only seen him before at an age of about 5 weeks, so this summer was really the first time his personality is starting to emerge.

As you can see from the picture, taken only a couple of hours after they flew in from Spain (and boy, were their arms tired), Maddie had all sorts of exuberance and energy. Jet lag really is much easier when you travel west.

It wasn’t an easy week. My lovely Nicole has been struggling with her health for several months, and having a week when we were going somewhere almost every day was stressful to say the least.

Lex is almost crawling.

They’re gone now, first to New Mexico and then to Seattle. They’ll spend a few days in Southern California before returning to Washington, D.C., for a few days of work-related things for Pauline.

Then it’s on to Jamaica.

It’s pretty amazing when you realize how little most Americans ever see of the world — my best friend Mickey has never been outside North America — to think that my grandson won’t be a year old until November and he has already completely circumnavigated the globe.

One thing he has seen plenty of is hot weather. Surabaya is pretty close to the Equator, and Georgia feels like it is a lot closer than it really is. We had one day in the last month when the temperature in Atlanta hit 106 — an all-time high.

Maybe it’s the hot weather that has been getting me down, or maybe it’s the fact that we are in an election year at a time when America just seems to have gone completely insane. Enough said about that for now. I make enough disparaging remarks about Mitt Romney on Facebook to get them out of my system, at least for the present.

What do I want?

I want my children and grandchildren to be happy and healthy, and more than anything I want Nicole happy and healthy again. It has been a long time.

If I could have those things, I would feel blessed.

I might even start writing more often.

 

 

posted by Mike in Family,Georgia,Happiness,Health,love and have No Comments

Maybe we could accomplish more in other bodies

I’m afraid I am becoming schizophrenic.

Not seriously. I’m probably the same old neurotic I’ve always been, but when it comes to writing for this site, I find myself torn in two different directions. On the one hand, I really don’t want to write about politics. I honestly believe that politically, we have reached a point of no return in this country and that it is essentially all downhill from here. I don’t think anything I do or say can stop that.

We have had so much mediocre leadership in this country the last 30 years that we no longer expect anything better. People run for president who should be laughed at, but they are somehow taken seriously. And no one gets anything done because as soon as one party takes control, the other party digs in to block them until the next election.

There isn’t anything I can do to stop that. In nearly two years writing for this Website, I have received maybe 15-20 comments that didn’t come from someone who was related to me. Of course, I have received nearly 2,800 comments I marked as spam and deleted, because all they were about were linking to something someone was trying to sell. It’s just one reason the Internet is at best a mixed blessing.

I’m sure I reach more people by linking to this site from Facebook than anything else, but I don’t know if anything I have written about politics has changed anyone’s opinion. And believe me, writing about politics does not appeal to my own personal better angels. It only makes me angry … or sometimes sad. Angry that things are so messed up and I can’t change them, sad because maybe if I had had the ability and the drive to write like this 40 years ago, I could have accomplished something.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what my purpose was — or is — and whether I have accomplished anything of any real merit in this world. I suppose guys like me think thoughts like this when they know the end of the road is going to be in sight soon. It isn’t that I can see the end of the road from here at age 61, but there are times I think I can see a place from where I will be able to see the end of the road. If that makes any sense at all.

In the last few days, I have been reading a wonderful book — W. Bruce Cameron’s “A Dog’s Purpose.”

This book has made me laugh a few times, but it has brought tears to my eyes more often than that. But the fascinating thought that dog’s live many lives, that their souls survive from one body to the next, fills me with wonder. I always thought that one of Dan Jenkins’ best lines in his many funny books was that God’s biggest mistake in creating the world was that dogs live such short lives.

I don’t know what comes after this for me, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be reborn as an infant yet still carry the memories of this life with me. Not that I think that would be a good thing. So much of my life has been governed by fear, insecurity and guilt that I will not miss not being Michael Rappaport when the time comes.

In fact, I don’t think I would mind being a dog. Living and gaining happiness from making someone else happy — and being simple enough for that to be enough — doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.

I haven’t been a bad person.

I might have been a better dog.

posted by Mike in Family,Happiness,love and have No Comments

Want to be happy? Just get off the interstate

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life …

This exit for Happy

… you just have to get off the interstate.

I played golf in Utopia this summer, relaxed for a few minutes in Eden and drove right through Happy on the way to Tucumcari, N.M.

If you know the geography, or maybe if you just saw the fairly obscure movie, you probably realize that I’m talking about towns in Texas, none of them really big enough to qualify as cities. Indeed, in Utopia I actually saw a cow walking — do cows walk? — down the main drag.

What surprised me the most about Texas, what surprised me the most about Georgia when my wife and I visited there twice this spring to buy the house to which we’ll retire in another four weeks, is that both places really seemed to give the lie to an old expression I had always believed.

“People are pretty much the same all over.”

The thing is, they’re not.

I’m convinced that for the most part, people who don’t live in the “great cities” are, well, they’re nicer. They might have a bit of a complex about how they’re viewed by the so-called “important” people, but in general they’re nicer to their neighbors and more tolerant of differences than you might expect.

I grew up in one of the great cities in the world — the suburbs of Washington, D.C. — and I have spent the last 20 years living in another of the world’s premier cities. I never imagined that I would come to love rural Texas as much as I did, or that I would find myself so totally thrilled with living in the Georgia countryside.

I guess Happy — or happiness — is wherever you find it.

You just have to keep your eyes open.

posted by Mike in American Dream,Georgia,Happiness,retirement,Texas and have No Comments

You can’t grab happiness, only share it

“… to dance beneath the diamond sky with one arm waving free.”
– BOB DYLAN

I was walking on a hiking trail in Lost Maples State Natural Area here in South Texas when I tweaked my knee and decided to sit down for a while.

The atmosphere was incredible, and the sky was so clear I could see the half moon in the western sky at 10 a.m. I sat on a rock, pulled out my little notebook and started jotting down thoughts about happiness.

Get past "me," put other people first

One thing I realized almost instantly is that unless you allow it, there isn’t anyone in the world who can prevent you from being happy. But along those same lines, the most useless piece of advice you can give anyone is to “try and be happy.”

The more any of us “try to be happy,” the more elusive happiness becomes. If I “try to be happy,” I eat too much, I indulge my senses or I spend money to buy things.

Any of those actions might give me a temporary high, but those highs are nearly always followed by lows.

On the other hand, if I set out to make the people around me happy, I usually don’t feed them, stimulate their senses or spend money on them. I praise them, I help them accomplish things or I do something thoughtful for them.

Read more…

posted by Mike in Happiness,love and have No Comments
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