Friday, March 28, 2014

What, Me Worry?

The times of our lives bring us laughter, joy, regret, and worry.  It is unfortunate that the joy and laughter way to often are overshadowed by regret and worry.  This too, is a part of or lives.  The old saying, you've made your bed, now you must lie in it, dovetails well with the old world concept of orlog and wyrd; we are our words and deeds.  But obsessing over what might come down on your head in the future only serves to rob you of needed sleep and peace of mind.  The ancient Havamal says this:  
Verse 23 - The witless man / is awake all night, 
                  Thinking of many things; 
                 Care-worn, he is / when the morning comes, 
                 And his woe is just as it was (italics mine). * 

You may be able to change a thing or two that will mitigate your circumstances.  But do it in the morning, after a good night's sleep.  The problem will still be there when you awake.  A clear head can work wonders.  

* The Havamal, from The Poetic Edda, Henry Adams Bellows translation, 1936.

                                             Copyright @2014 Terry Unger 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What's Your Worth?

John is a good man.  He has a nice house that his wife has made into a home for John and their two children.  He has an above average job that more than pays the bills and puts food on the table.  The casual observer would believe that John is a happy guy; he is not.  Unfortunately, he listens and takes to heart other people's opinions.  These people have no real stake in John's life nor he in theirs.  As becomes the fate of many, John, within the deep of his mind, elevated these people to being greater in life than he.  Sadly, John's sense of self-worth is in the toilet.  He, and he alone gave them power over his self-esteem, his feeling of worth and value.  Fortunately, that power can be easily broken.  The Havamal, ancient wisdom from the northern lands states that:  

Verse 22 - A paltry man / and poor of mind, *
                 At all things ever mocks (italics mine);
                 For never he knows / what he ought to know,
                That he is not free from faults (italics mine).  

Nobody is perfect.  And, many of us are or have been "John" at one point in our lives.  When we step back and take a hard look at these "friends," we find them living in glass houses supported by toothpicks; don't take these people seriously - they will suck the life force right out of you.  And know that they love to feast on your distress.  From time to time, all of us need to take stock of what we already have and what we are capable of doing.  The Havamal says:  

Verse 68 - Fire for men / is the fairest gift, * 
                 And power to see the sun;
                 Health as well / if a man may have it, 
                And a life not stained with sin.  

Verse 69 - All wretched is no man / though never so sick; *
                 Some from their sons have joy,
                 Some win it from kinsmen / and some from their wealth,
                And some from worthy works.  

Verse 70 - It is better to  live / than lie a corpse, *
                 The live man catches the cow; 
                 I saw flames rise / for the rich man's pyre,
                And before his door he lay dead.  

We all have self-worth and sometimes simple reflection helps us find it.  Other times, reading some of the verses from The Havamal can be a big help.  Do not let the blood sucking nay- sayers steal your worth.  Since they are probably not paying your bills, tell them, to bugger off.   

* The Havamal, from The Poetic Edda, Henry Adams Bellows translation, 1936

                                         Copyright @2014 Terry Unger


Monday, March 24, 2014

A Time To Plant

Spring is officially here.  It's time to brush off the last vestiges of winter and enjoy the warm sun on our faces.  If you are a gardener, it's time to prep your soil and clean up your tools.  Isn't gardening like achieving a goal?  You need to plan out your garden and then work your plan to harvest it's bounty (the goal).  It is a bit odd how many folks attempt to reach a goal without a ghost of a plan.  The Havamal, a book of wisdom from pre-Christian Europe, speaks to us on this subject and a multitude of others.  Let's take a look:  

Verse 116 -  I rede thee Loddfafnir / and hear thou my rede, *
                    Profit thou hast if thou hearest, 
                    Great thy gain if thou learnest; 
                    If o'er mountains or gulfs / thou fain wouldst go, 
                    Look well to thy food for the way.  

Verse 60 -   Of seasoned shingles / and strips of bark, *
                   For the thatch let one know his need, 
                   And how much of wood / he must have for a month, 
                   Or in half a year he will use.  

Do not be confused or blown away by the seemingly quaint references about food and wood.  When these verses were first spoken and later written, men had to plan to have enough food and firewood to make it through a winter.  Failure to plan resulted in death by either freezing, starvation, or both.  In those days, the goal was to survive winter and greet spring.  Your goal may not be as serious, but it still requires planning.  Once you have a plan, you must put it in motion by working your plan.  Yes, work.  A wiggle of the nose or chanting a verse or two is not a substitute for work (if anything, it is the absence thereof).  Without working your plan, your goal is nothing more than a wish.  Again, The Havamal:  

Verse 58 - He must early go forth / who fain the blood *
                 Or the goods of another would get; 
                 The wolf that lies idle / shall win little meat, 
                Or the sleeping man success (italics mine). 

Verse 59 - He must early go forth / whose workers are few, *
                 Himself his work to seek; 
                 Much remains undone / for the morning sleeper, 
                For the swift is wealth half won (italics mine).  

The instruction from the Havamal is that work gets the job done; you snooze, you lose.  Again, do not let the quaintness of the text fool you.  If you want to reach your goal(s), you must plan and then work your plan.   

* The Havamal, from The Poetic Edda, Henry Adams Bellows translation, copyright, 1936

                                              Copyright @2014 Terry Unger

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Who's the Boss?

Many of you will remember the TV sitcom, Who's the Boss? from the 1980's starring Tony Danza and Judith Light.  Danza's character was a retired baseball player who became the housekeeper for Judith Light's character, a high powered Wall Street executive.  As I recall, both characters had strong personalities that gravitated to meet the other in the middle.  It would be peachy in real life if that would be the rule rather than the exception.  

In our modern world, people are driven to succeed at all costs; those who die with the most toys wins.  These costs include sacrificing one,s morals and ethics for the sake of a few dollars more and to be named "employee of the month."  Misleading the customer and screwing over one's peers, in this game, is par for the course.  Personal buttons are pushed:  wants, needs, and desires are played upon to make one feel that no action is wrong, you are just doing your job.  Or, advancing your "career."  As the paycheck increases, personal morals and ethics go out the window.  This begs at least one question.

In the course of general employment is it wrong for an employer to demand that an employee do things against his or her will, morals, and ethics?  The short answer is yes, but many folks fear the loss of the paycheck and thus are willing to turn a blind eye to what is right.  This is sad.  It is sad that people have to make that choice.  It is the world we live in, it is our times.  But what does some ancient, pre-Christian wisdom have to say about this?  Enter the Havamal.  

Verse 8 - Happy the one / who wins for himself *
               Favor and praises fair; 
               Less safe by far / is the wisdom found,
               That is hid in another's heart.  
(You did it yourself, not trusting in another)

Verse 9 - Happy the man / who has while he lives, *
               Wisdom and praise as well, 
               For evil counsel / a man full oft,
              Has from another's heart.   
(Trusting others to help you prosper is not wise)

We must stop this race, the keeping up with the Jones's race.  This race is not just impractical but it is a race that cannot be anyone.  Every man is important; every man has wealth and worth.  

Verse 36 - Better a house / though a hut it be, * 
                 A man is master at home; 
                 A pair of goats / and a patched up roof,
                 Are better far than begging.  

Verse 37 - Better a house / though a hut it be, *
                 A man is master at home; 
                 His heart is bleeding / who needs must beg, 
                When food he farm would have.  
 (When you have these things, you can improve on them with your own effort.  Begging takes on many forms, like surrendering your will and accepting the will of another)

There is nothing wrong with honest prosperity.  But, can prosperity be true when one's morals and ethics are sacrificed?  When friends and beliefs are tossed on the fire?  I think not.  A man of honor who is self-reliant will prosper.  A man who is master of his home, hearth, heart, and mind is already wealthy.  So, who is the boss?  Any man, as just stated.  Do not surrender these things to anyone.  If you do, you will live to regret it.  

* The Havamal (or Havamol), from the Poetic Edda, Henry Adams Bellows translation, 1936

                                            Copyright @2014 Terry Unger  


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Great Outdoors

The other day our neighbor dropped in for some pleasant conversation.  During the course of story swapping, he told me that he was taking his family camping.  It was high time, he said, to introduce his kids to nature, and not the nature found in one's back yard.  What can they experience, he stated, by spending a moment or two around trimmed shrubs that surrounded the family pool.  The man rented a campsite in one of our state's really great parks.  But as our conversation continued, he told me that his kid's greatest concern was not the fear of bears, snakes, wolves, or coyotes.  And, having to walk a short distance to the public facilities did not appear to phase them.  The problem?  The kids wanted to know if the campsite had WiFi for their smart phones.  Almost sheepishly, he asked me for advice.  I really do not like giving other people advice; truth has a way of burning a bridge.  

Humans need to reconnect with nature.  Even though we have manged to alienate it, nature still is a part of us.  We need to spend time in the woods, forests, and fields, take hikes along riverbeds and sit in front of a shimmering lake.  People need to feel the earth against their naked feet and splash water in their faces from a mountain waterfall.  And not just once in life, but as many times possible within a month.  

Do you feel the need to de-stress?  Really?  Then take your ass out of the house and away from anything electronic.  Find a tree, sit underneath and just breathe.  You will be surprised.  Play in the dirt:  garden, plant trees, and hold the earth in your hands and smell it.  Do you want to strengthen your kid's immune system?  Let them play and roll around in the earth's soil, let them get good and dirty.  It washes off.  

Making a connection today with nature is truly a spiritual quest.  But it did not used to be this way.  Materialism ran rampant and humanity was pulled into its vortex.  Like a Black Hole, materialism sucked the humanity out of us and our connection with nature was lost.  We were disconnected to what should be normal and natural for our species.  We forgot our roots, we forgot our sacred relationship with nature.  It was like a bag was put over our heads.  But, I think that we allowed it to happen.  Specifically, in regards to this subject, we allowed the addiction to technology to overcome us.  Technology is not necessarily the problem; the addiction to it is the problem.  We need to reconnect with our roots and with nature.  The thing is, Mother Nature can cure us of many of our ills and addictions, but only if we allow it to happen.   

It took a minute or two before I told my neighbor my thoughts.  I told him to build a fire, to let it get blue -hot.  At that moment, I said, take the smart phones not just from your kids but your wife's also and toss them into the fire.  Then add yours to the flames.  The guy looked at me like I just told him to burn down his house.  That's the problem when you give advice, even when it's solicited.  I sure as hell was not going to tell him to build a cell tower in a state park.  I smell a bridge, burning.   

                                                 Copyright @2014 Terry Unger


Unity of a Forgotten Kind

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