This gives me hope for humanity


The Trauma of a tooth

My daughter’s first tooth was loose a month ago. It has loosened up to the point that it was barely in her mouth, held in place, barely, by a couple of connective tissues. More recently, her gums under the tooth became inflamed and we began to worry about the possibility of developing an infection.

This only reinforced the need for this tooth to exit her mouth. The dentist had said it needed to come out in the next 2-3 weeks; that was 3 weeks ago. I didn’t want to, nor did we have the extra cash hanging around to pay a dentist to remove a tooth that I could take out with my fingers. One would think that my daughter would trust and believe her daddy and mommy, that this would be painless and quick. But that expectation proved to be severely wrong. After days of trying to talk her into it, I finally just pulled down her lip and pulled the tooth forward with my finger. The tooth moved without any pain to just barely attached with one connective tissue, at which point our daughter finally grabbed it and plucked if from her mouth.

After all the trauma, she began dancing around the room saying “its out, its out! I never knew there could be so much trauma involved in one sliver of a tooth. My son was a difficult one with getting to the point he would let me take out teeth, but my daughter took this to an all new level. I can’t wait for the next tooth.

Change and values

I just watched a movie that I am sure many of you would call “cheesy” at best. The movie is Monte Walsh, starring Tom Selleck and Keith Carradine. I actually really liked it and appreciated its message. For Monte (Tom Selleck), his way of life is disappearing, being absorbed and catabolized by the “modern mechanism” of “progress,” and as he struggles to come to grips with this change, there is something of his story that connects with me at a deep level. It would be easy to say that such “progress” is the problem, except for the fact that I am writing these thoughts one of those bits of technology resulting from such progress. Not to mention that such technologies have saved lives and provided for some amazing improvements. On the flip side, such technology has also cost lives and just may be part of a deep running disconnect in our modern life. We’ve come to love gadgets and have, quite possibly lost some of our humanity in the process (at least our abilities in human interaction).

It would also be easy to state the problem as a loss of values in the process of progress. That happens, but such a simplistic perspective produce argumentation that are “straw men”: easy to set up, easy to knock down.  While straw men make us feel more secure, they don’t help us wrestle out change.   There have been many improvements in “new modern” ideas. In the last 150 years we’ve recognized that women and minorities have been devalued and that our humanity runs deeper than gender or ethnicity. One could only hope that we’ll continue that trajectory and stop devaluing people based on their sexual preference, but that is a different article on a different day. Change over the last 150 years has at the same time, devalued our humanity in much larger ways. We’ve lost the ability to have face to face conversations, we prefer “texting” and “social networks.” We’ve bought into the capitalistic idea that money makes it all better, that corporations are there to help us and that government is out to get our money (interesting…).

Yet there is something to the message of this movie. I am not sure that I can articulate clearly the message of Monte Walsh, not sure that I even clearly understand it but I know that I feel it deeply within myself. That it resonates with loss that it in some way tangible to me, yet I know that it is not just that simple. It is similar to the sense I get when I watch “Dances with Wolves.” There is a connection a real part of ourselves that has been lost, and new parts of ourselves that we’ve discovered and will discover. Maybe life has just become more complicated, maybe I miss a perceived simplicity and slower pace of life that I perceive existed in the past. The problem is that I am here and now. So I continue to embark upon the path of seeking to reconnect and yet to press forward.

New chapter in life

I am embarking upon a new chapter in my life. I am middle aged, and have left a career and vocation that I spent many years preparing for through a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and many years doing. Yesterday was my last day as a minister in the Lutheran church and Now I am preparing for a new career, hopefully in Respiratory Therapy. I am back in school; I love to learn! Taking A&P and some math (yuk!). I start work at a new job in a local hospital working as a CNA to bring in some income while I pursue academic excellence.

A&P is a monster (enormous) of a class, but I love it. Next semester: second half of A&P and Chemistry. This new chapter of course presents challenges to my family and myself, but without risk, and overcoming challenges, there is certainly no progress made. I should have done this years ago!

Nothing Like Fishing in the river

Today I started the day with a good dose of anxiety and frustration stemming from my unsuccessful job hunt. I was distracted, quiet and discouraged. I plopped my hook and worm in the Boise River and got an immediate bite. In just a couple of hours I felt much better and we had caught 4 fish to boot. So the old saying is true, fishing is better than working…at least for a couple of hours.

perfect book ends in the Tao Te Ching

I following two verses of the Tao Te Ching book end Lao Tzu’s wisdom and after reading the whole thing through, once again I am amazed at the coordinated wisdom of this book, especially so in these two verses. The First sets one firmly on the path, the ending verse summarizes the perspective of one who seeks to move with Tao. The two verses below are from the Red Pine Translation, which has become my favorite.

Verse 1

The way that becomes a way

is not the Immortal Way

the name that becomes a name

is not the Immortal Name

no-name is the maiden on Heaven and Earth

name is the mother of all things

thus in innocence we see the beginning

in passion we see the end

two different names

for one and the same

The one we call dark

The dark beyond dark

the door to all beginings

Verse 81

True words aren’t beautiful

beautiful words aren’t true

the good aren’t eloquent

the eloquent aren’t good

the wise aren’t learned

the learned aren’t wise

sages accumulate nothing

but the more they do for others

the greater their existence

the more they give to others

the greater their abundance

the Way of Heaven

is to help without harming

the Way of the Sage

is to act without struggling

For me, I hear that the Tao, that which underlies everything, is the source of all things yet is outside of our naming, of our definition, and is pervasive to all that is. So don’t seek to control or understand but move with the reality that is. Then the other verse summarizes in its last few lines reminds that things are as they present, and that the way of living by the Tao is help without harming and acting through harmony, not striving or struggling to make things a certain way, but move with things as they are. That’s wisdom!