Monday, March 5, 2018

Robert the Robot

In my last post, I commented about experiences with people following on my Year of Silence. I found them doing and saying the same things as they were many months, even years past. As if they were singing the same old song.

On further reflection, I have to admit that I have found Robert “singing” the same old song. I have told myself repeatedly, “You didn’t learn your lesson.”

Not long ago, I had made a vow to “Argue no more forever,” and find that I have in a few months broken it at least three times, depending on ...

Still, I will persist at trying to learn my lessons and some day be fully able to sing a new song.

Another reflection upon myself and others brings me to this point: I firmly believe that over the course of this lifetime - and also as the result of others - we create our own robots. They are our very selves. Our bodies, our actions, our feelings, and our thoughts have been programmed according to our past behaviors and involvements. We have been the programmers. Sometimes with the input of others - like family, friends, teachers, media, etc.

We act like computers and robots during much of our existence. We run on automatic far too often. At least, Robert the Robot does. 

Stimulus applied. Response sent out. 

Deprogramming and reprogramming are difficult tasks. It is hard to change the patterns we have set. Not impossible, but quite difficult.

I have been teaching myself to play the piano for over thirty years. A slow learner there, to be sure. But, I have found that very slowly, my practice has programmed into my body and being the ability to produce music. Sometimes quite sonorously.

The same sort of process, I believe, is involved in reprogramming our actions, feelings and thoughts. "Slow but sure wins the race."

Robert may be a Robot. But one day, he will be and express himself more clearly, cordially, and correctly. For his own good and for the betterment of all. I wish you the same in your days and lifetimes ahead.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Old Dogs, New Tricks, and Lots of Cats

Years ago, I had the good fortune to act for nearly a year as interim pastor for two Congregational churches north of my hometown of Mitchell, SD. During that period, my companion was a dog named Henry on loan from my younger brother. Henry had gotten in trouble with the dogcatcher in Mitchell and I bailed the two out by bringing Henry to Letcher.

The dog and I became good friends and were seen regularly navigating in and around the small town. Inevitably, I decided that Henry needed to learn a few things my brother had never taken the time to teach the aging fellow. He was nearing 13 at the time. So, I the perennial teacher set to work on a regular basis to give Henry some lessons. At the same time, he taught me a few. 

Although it was not an easy task, my canine friend succeeded in learning to shake, crawl, and roll over with inducements of food and treats. His triumphs inclined me to consider a special sermon and bring Henry to church one Sunday and demonstrate that "Old dogs can learn new tricks."

For various reasons, the sermon never eventuated. But, I can definitely confirm that old dogs can learn. My Year of Silence reminded me of that experience. At the same time, it showed me that learning can be a chore at any age. But, I believe, we ought to be learning until our very last embodied days. Waste not, want not. There should be plenty of time to rest and recuperate on the other side.

Since taking up speaking again, a number of things have come to my attention of which I will now mention two. Firstly, when I have a conversation, I watch myself talking too much. Which will hopefully push me all the more to attend my words. Secondly, I have decided that people are saying the same things as they were a year or two or three ago. I admit I have done some of that myself.

That has suggested to me that we may be too often involved with old stories and "old tricks." One fellow I visited with in the grocery store is still dealing with a problem from 2 1/2 years past. He claims to be trying to find homes for the cats which belonged to his woman friend and neighbor. He is having little success, it seems. He now has around 60 cats. Surely, there were not that many when she died.

I think we should be dealing with new problems and opportunities, new tricks and new possibilities. As much as possible. Though we age, we do have some choices and options. Why not spend our time growing into the new instead of worrying about the old?

A later blog will continue in this vein in coming weeks. Hopefully sharing new ideas. 

Happy New Year.