Not Cease from Exploration

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 - Time it was and what a time it was...

Thinking about 2014, as it will soon become something of the past.

Robin Williams...I get a tad bit sad every time I see a picture of Robin Williams.  Such a talented man, so seemingly full of life, someone who brought such joy to others.  His legacy will last for years to come.  If there is one lesson we can all take from his untimely passing though it's this:  it always looks good from the outside, but yet we never know what lies beneath.

The City of Scranton...is inching ever closer bankruptcy, and just about all that's left is the formal designation.  I've been saying this for years, and somehow I don't think it will be long before even the powers that be realize that:
  • There aren't enough assets to sell
  • They can't raise taxes high enough
  • It's not possible borrow oneself out of debt
This will not end well.  Ditto for the Scranton School District by the way.  It's not a good way to end a year, so here's to hoping that the bottom is truly hit in 2015 so that the upswing can begin in earnest.

Cha-cha-changes...With about two weeks left in 2013 I sold my home in Scranton and moved to a home in West Pittston that I purchased with my partner in life and crime.  I've learned a lot in 2014 about things like coal stoves, garbage stickers, the communal activity known as "taking your stuff the recycling center", the workings of small town government and how wonderful it is to have something of a fresh start.  This Christmas was the first, in my adult life, when I didn't actually end up going to someone else's house.

Working for a living...Work continues to roll on and on and on.  Lots of changes, some were good, and some of which were far more difficult to get past than others.  It's kind of sadly amazing in a lot of different ways in that we (as professionals) pride ourselves on our ability to deal dispassionately with what happens in our working lives, and yet the emotions that come with the connections we make at work will not be denied.   I'm all the more convinced that having a thick skin and the ability to chew one's pride (simply just swallowing it is not enough) are as essential as knowing how to use email these days when it comes to living the corporate life.

School...I went back to school, well one class at a time, starting in August.  Mind you I waited until I was nearly over with my second class before I would even admit that I was doing it.  Didn't want to generate bad juju you know.  Anyway, it's a lot of work and as a result it kind of forces me to look at how I spend my time and what I value.  I do have the feeling that, once it is all done, I'll really miss the experience, regardless of the amount of work that it entails.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) the "once it is done" part will not be happening for a very long time.

Dad...I can look at my three daughters with nothing but unbridled pride, and although one is now closer to home, another has moved away.  All three work hard though, all three are quick witted, and all three have good hearts.  If I can be known as anything in life, I'd like that to simply be "he was a good Dad".

Violence...Young black men getting shot or strangled, police getting assassinated, and fingers pointing in all directions.  We are all equally flawed, a point which I think many seem to forget.  As 2014 ends, I will not believe that all young black men are thugs, and I will not believe that all police are trigger happy fascists either.  Enough already with the institutionalized stereotyping!  Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt and deal with folks as individuals, not as members of one group or another.

Health (of the physical kind)...Hey, I turned 50 in 2014.  It's a good age to be actually.  I physically feel pretty good, and when I look at others in my similar age bracket I can point with some pride to the fact that I move well at the half century mark.  More importantly though, in 2014 I recommitted to taking better care of myself.  I owe it to some folks, but mostly I owe it to myself.  I know full well that the parts will start wearing out (they already have...), but unlike an automobile, the best form of prevention for our bodies is action, and I intend to be as active as I can  be for as long as I can be.

Politics...simply disgusted me in 2014.  Period.  The rampant cynicism that accompanies national political debates is nothing short of demoralizing.  No political party has a monopoly on the truth.  Both political parties are beholden to special (as in "not our") interests.  Both political parties rely on a silly, out of date dynamic that consists of demonizing others in order to appeal to an extremist "base".  If you want to tow a political line, then don't do it around me, as I will roundly and verbally trash you.  I don't care if your material comes from Limbaugh or Maddow, as it is all slanted crap.

Reading...I read a lot in 2014, but in some ways I didn't read nearly enough.  Now there is the daily and rabid consumption of the news via the written word, but that's simply business as usual for me.  Among other things, I read (most of) a history of the Popes, a terrific book on the relationship between the Papacy and the late dictator Mussolini, a right-wing Catholic tome about how the world needs to return to the Middle Ages (I kid you not...the mere concept was so outlandish that I just had to read the book), books on introversion, and a few more I am forgetting.  Going into 2015 I am finishing about the 10th book I've read on the topic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (a.k.a. The Mormons).  Yes, this is what I read for fun.

Gay Human Rights...I'm taking the words "gay rights" out of my vocabulary, as 2014 taught me that these are really "human rights".  Now if your religion believes that gays are going to Hell, well then that's the prerogative of your religion, but that prerogative ends at your church doors.  Period.  Oh, and if you want to benefit from doing business in the public square, then you have to serve all of the paying public, not just those who think just like you (of course bearing in mind that a business owner can enforce rules related to basic civility...think of the "you have to be wearing pants to come into my store" rule, which is sometimes NOT enforced at WallyWorld).  Put another way, it's not discrimination when you are told that you can't discriminate.

Health (of the mental kind)...There are things I need to work on, as 2014 had its challenges.  Now I'll note right off the bat that it's never the folks (like me) that admit their challenges that we all need to worry about, so I am safely in the clear in that regard.  I do wonder though why, at age 50, it's still so easy for me to get distracted, why it's so difficult to focus at times, why I have such a difficult time sleeping well and why there are times when I struggle to see what's right in the world around me.  These aren't "new" issues for me, but rather issues I have had to deal with all my adult life.  

Learning...There was a lot of learning going on in 2014.  In addition to the school and house stuff noted above, I'm also becoming proficient in Apple's OS, I learned how to replace a window, I got plenty of practice in the art of digging out bushes with a pick axe, I spent quite a bit of time learning about conservative Catholicism, and I got much better at photo editing.  Much, much more to come in 2015.

Faith...For someone who reads a ton about faith, religion and religious philosophy, I really don't practice much in the way of a formal creed, especially over the past year.  I do know what I believe in, well kinda-sorta, and maybe just as importantly, I know what I don't believe in.  Perhaps my lot in life is to aways be more of a seeker than a finder, at least as far as that concept applies to the Higher Power(s) in the universe.  As the saying goes, "Not all who wander are lost".

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