My Life – Above Ground

Holiday Daydreaming
November 28, 2008, 3:55 pm
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While stuffing my face yesterday, listening and watching my family around the table, the memories of spending past holidays far away from these same family members and friends – onboard the USS SEMMES and USS NICHOLAS in the late ’80s and early ’90s flooded my mind.  How I would daydream about my future life.

I distinctly remember one year during the Holiday season – I believe it was 1989.  Standing, or rather swaying back & forth – on the bow of the SEMMES, sea water spraying across my face and gazing into the dark water that is the North Atlantic, asking myself the self-examining question – where will I be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?  What will I be doing?  Where will I live?  How will I spend those future holidays?   

I’m sure you’ve done something like this too… daydream about what’s next.  What will be. 

In hindsight, I look back at all of the places I’ve been… all of the people that I’ve had the pleasure to spend the holidays with – the vast diversity of experiences:  from having a Cuban Thanksgiving in Panama, to having an authentic Italian Christmas in Santa Barbara, to being Santa Claus for over 100 kids at an orphanage in Los Angeles, to having my first Filipino Christmas in Eagle Rock, to deep-frying a Turkey in Long Beach, to having a Tennessee Thanksgiving in Wyoming, to having a family Thanksgiving vacation in Oklahoma… I never could have daydreamed any of that.  My reality has been better than my dreams.

It’s not so much about what’s next, rather, what has been… at least as it relates to the holidays.  I’ve truly lived a full life so far… for that, I’m grateful.


To Consume or not to consume, that is the question
November 19, 2008, 11:22 pm
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As I write this, I sit in a comfortable office chair, which I’m using only because the old one became tattered and old.  I’m looking at the screen of a laptop that was replaced a few months ago as a result of it only being newer than the last. I’m wearing clothes – all less than one year old, that have replaced, again, old and tattered ones. 

Consumers.  We can all carry that label.  Like rabid animals, we consume everything in front of us – only to throw away things once they’ve reached our own personal use lifecycle. 

I’m someone who considers himself a bit of a stodgy user of aging stuff… but I – like 99.99999% of Americans are the same.  We seemingly can’t help ourselves.  It’s like we’re addicted to stuff.  Newer.  Better. Brighter.  Longer-lasting.  [Insert clever marketing adjective here].

What type of personal and societal culture has this created though?  You can say that it’s the whole ‘keepin’ up with the Joneses’ disease, but I submit that it’s much deeper than that.  I believe underneath it all is a sense of entitlement. 

We may not say it out loud, but “I deserve” is something that many of us feel… deep down.  Think about it.  For example, what happens when the electricity goes out in your home?  When it happens, the first words out of most folks’ mouths are “Come on, when are they going to have this back on!  I need my electricity!  How can they do this to me?!”  We feel like we deserve it.  And this example is only a drop in a very large and deep bucket. 

While it has a great end result, the process of honestly defining ones needs versus ones wants is hard, huh?  Who wants to give up things for which they are accustomed to having?  I lump myself into this too – I think most of us have our needs and wants a bit skewed at the moment.  The current state of the economy is a vibrant depiction of this state of the being, if you will. 

Here’s another example – I helped my dad build a house when I was young.  Times were a bit tough… with building a new home, running a small business and trying to keep 3 kids and a wife fed, clothed, etc.  Well, if we bent one nail when building our home, we couldn’t just keep reaching for a new nail… we straightened the bent one out, and made it work.  This is what we need to do on a more grand scale.  Straightened the nail and make it work. 

In reality, we don’t need the newest, the brightest and certainly not the most expensive.  It might also be a nice exercise for us to do on a macro scale – to “straighten and reuse the nail.”  Make it a habit to consistently ask “do I really need this?”  It will not only make us happier, more contented people, but will also help our economy, our society and our environment become healthier and more sustainable.

Thank A Vet Today
November 11, 2008, 7:37 pm
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There’s not very many other things that unite men as much as facing evil head-on in war… today, I wanted to say a heart-felt, emotional and sincere thank you to all of those brothers who served before, with and after me.  I consider it one of the most significant pleasures of my life to have served with you in our nation’s military. 

Thank you for your service & brotherhood.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Gettin’ Ready for Turkey Day
November 10, 2008, 10:58 pm
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I know I say this every year – but again, I really can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving!  This year has flown by… seems like time speeds up as I get older, actually…

In preparation for the triptophan-laden day of feasting, thought I’d throw a few thoughts out there to help get my mind in the proper place to truly celebrate the day – shoot me your comments about it – I’d love to discuss with you…

– “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Cicero

– “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

– “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” – William James

– “Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” – Alfred Painter

– “To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action.” – Albert Schweitzer

– “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” G.B. Stern

… with that last quote in mind, may I please say thank you to all who have helped to shape my life.  Truly, I am grateful.