Birds in the parking lot freak me out. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home the other day. I was in a rush because I needed to file an insurance claim on my car, pick up a birthday present for my mom, plus it was 100 degrees outside and I only wanted to go home. I’m trying to decide which item to check off on my list first when I see this big-eyed bird staring at me. Correction. Big-eyed-opportunistic-looking bird. He’s watching and waiting.
One lone bird and my thoughts are, why are you here? Of all of the places to be, this is not where I’d pick. There’s a park just 50 feet across the street, but this bird is in the middle of the stinking pavement with chaos and honking cars. Alone. Then I realize, we are similar creatures.
People rarely move far from their birthplace. So before I go judging the bird’s choices, maybe I should take a closer look at my own. Still, this bird looks creepy.
My favorite characters are usually the odd ones. Just a bit off beat. They’re likely not the girl to be invited to the party, but not because they’re hated, or ugly, more likely because they were wandering in the forest, gathering mushrooms or rare moth larvae. Let me introduce you to Auri, from Patrick Rothfuss’s series – The Kingkiller Chronicles and Luna Lovegood, from J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter series.
Auri was a young genius whose spark burned too brightly to function in what most of us call reality. Instead, she created her own reality in the tunnels under the university. Her days are spent making order of the abandoned areas in that hidden world. Her one friend is a current student, Kvothe.
Auri hopped down from the chimney and skipped over to where I stood, her hair streaming behind her. “Hello Kvothe.” She took a half-step back. “You reek.”
I smiled my best smile of the day. “Hello Auri,” I said. “You smell like a pretty young girl.”
“I do,” she agreed happily.
She stepped sideways a little, then forward again, moving lightly on the balls of her bare feet. “What did you bring me?” she asked.
“What did you bring me?” I countered.
She grinned. “I have an apple that thinks it is a pear,” she said, holding it up. “And a bun that thinks it is a cat. And a lettuce that thinks it is a lettuce.”
“It’s a clever lettuce then.”
“Hardly,” she said with a delicate snort. “Why would anything clever think it was a lettuce?”
“Even if it is a lettuce?” I asked.
“Especially then,” she said. “Bad enough to be a lettuce. How awful to think you are a lettuce too.” She shook her head sadly, her hair following the motion as if she were underwater.
Luna Lovegood – Harry Potter series
At first, you dismiss Luna, especially when she’s talking about mysterious things that go bump in the night that steal shoes. But, she also knows things that no one else seems to know. Besides, just listening to her talk is enchanting enough for me, whether she speaks by book or by movie.
The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down. – From Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head. He jumped out from under it. “Good thinking,” said Luna very seriously. “It’s often infested with nargles.”
Harry Potter: [sees that Luna is barefoot] Aren’t your feet cold?
A baby is born into a family and immediately there are expectations. There are rules imposed upon him. Only he has no idea. If he’s born in the United States, he’ll likely be in a hospital and there’ll be immunizations and tests. Since he’s a boy, we’ll wrap him in blue. And if he is born in a religious environment he might be circumcised. These are rules and processes that we rarely think about but will follow religiously.
When we’re born we inherit a set of rules. They’re your parents’ rules, but they are also your culture’s rules. Your friends and associates. The church and local bar. The store, the coffee shop, the park, and even the mall have policies and rules. The unfortunate part is that no one thinks about them. They aren’t always written and if you walked up to someone they’d probably deny having rules. We don’t see the rules, the rules sometimes change, and no one talks about them. What kind of crazy game are we playing?
Can you imagine a playing a game and you’re not told the rules. They throw you a ball and you don’t know if you can kick it or toss it or run with it. Which direction? Then they yell when you are wrong? We are sometimes left guessing. Madness. That’s our world. Here are a few examples:
I was watching the new Cosmos series with Neil de Grasse Tyson, when a new car advertisement comes on. It hits me suddenly and I have the urge, no, NEED to research Subaru. Why? Some subliminal reaction? I have a good car. I picked this particular car and don’t have a desire for a new one, but yet I still had the new car craving. Because if I had a new Subaru Outback I’d have adventure. I’d be young and trendy. I could explore and travel and I’d be happy! Subliminal messages are like a virus to me. Just like the latest diet craze, any new fact or interest I get tends to take me chasing rabbit trails.
Ways to distract myself from spending money
The trick is to catch it at the first urge. There’s a short pause between seeing the shiny apple hanging from the tree and thinking of the sweet taste it will leave in my mouth. Also, thinking of it being there, taunting me. It won’t stay there forever. Shouldn’t let it go to waste. Ah heck, I might as well just eat it. STOP. Somewhere before my hand reaches for the prize, I have to catch my spiraling thinking. Faulty logic. Enticing images. That’s my magic moment. If I can learn to catch myself before I hit the BUY button I’ll be okay.
There are methods to distract yourself. When I’m exercising I use distraction to hold a pose just a little longer. I sometimes tell myself I’ll run to the next stop sign, then turn around. Mostly it works. It’s almost like working with a child.
You may have already heard of the study done with the marshmallows. I’m going to repeat it because it fits with my thoughts on spending money.
The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice (Oreo cookie, marshmallow, or pretzel stick) was placed on a table, by a chair. The children could eat the marshmallow, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow.
Mischel observed as some would “cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray, others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal”, while others would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left.
It’s a natural response to distract ourselves. You want to eat the cookie. The cookie is within reach, but you don’t. So from now on, if I can catch myself in that moment before I hit BUY, I will go clean the toilet!
After watching the season finale of Sons of Anarchy, season 6, I think I’ll hold on tightly to my uncertainty. My inability to make a decision seems like a blessing compared to crazy head long rush of taking things in my own hands.
A bit of living with life as it is, seems very wise. Let it be.
I will no longer curse my slowness to make a decision. My over-contemplation, my over-thinking, these may be some of the best character traits of my life. They’ve seen me through many tight spots, but more importantly, they’ve kept me walking a straight line.
So while others were ripping through life at a young age and taking life by the horns, I was watching and learning. I cautiously stepped forward until I knew what I wanted. Then went for it. Others can go on ahead of me if they want, make those rash decisions because as they say, any decision is better than none, but no thank you. That’s not for me.
There really needs to be a television series on bad dates. I’ve had some good ones and some bad ones. I’ve found that if I take a step back, it’s like viewing an old barn that even though it’s dilapidated and rotting, it looks quite romantic. Yeah, just don’t lean too much weight on the wall.
As I told a friend recently, I’ve found a couple of scam artists, a guy with a restraining order, and another guy who claimed to be funny. He wasn’t at all funny. But golly gee I have my mind back.
My first piece of advice would be, Don’t! Do you know where he’s been? So as the new year starts, I’m stepping back and reading other people’s stories.
None of that, however, stopped award-winning journalist and digital strategist Amy Webb from attempting online dating after a bad breakup. Determined to find a successful match, Webb decided to use data points to come up with a unique algorithm that she applied to dating websites.
I won’t spoil her punch line, but I think her dates were worse than mine. But she continued going for her dream, just smarter than before. I think the difference is, I really didn’t know what I wanted. I wasn’t looking for a husband. I just wanted to date. Without a goal in mind, your game continues on for as long as you want it to.
I was once asked, in a job interview, what type of tree I felt I was or how would I describe myself as a tree? I was caught off guard with that one. Maple, Pine, Oak or Willow came to mind. I’m not sure. If I remember correctly, I thought I was an Oak tree. I was thinking of a strong tree. But since I couldn’t think of very many types of trees under intense pressure, I gave Oak off the top of my head. And at that time it’s how I perceived myself.
I discussed this later with my brother, about trees and how people can be similar to nature. The willow blows with the wind, losing branches here and there. It bends and drops leaves.The oak doesn’t bend, it doesn’t bow. It’s leaves cling to the branches through fall, winter, and finally dropping them in the spring. It seemed to us that the Willow might have the right idea. The wind blows and the Willow’s limbs break. It bends and when the ice and snow weighs it down it just bends until it all melts off again.
When times get rough we find out how we handle life. Some think to ride out the rough storms they have to harden. Grip tighter with whitened knuckles. Shout and shake their fist at the wind. Defy the troubled times and become like the granite of the Rocky Mountains. That’s how we survive. I do believe there is a time for that method. I also believe it could have been the way best chosen for the past. The problem with hardening is it’s difficult to soften again when the war or storm is over. Soldiers must train and harden for war. Facing death and battle is not for the weak stomach. Most of us, myself included, probably couldn’t make it through basic training. Then there is the real war.
So for fun, I tried to think of all the different types of trees, because maybe I’m missing something. Coconut, maple, oak, pine, eucalyptus, cedar, fig, apple, pear, orange, etc (lots of fruit trees). I often laughingly say, I want to be a coconut tree because dropping coconuts on people all day might be fun.
So what type of tree are you and do you think it’s possible to stereotype a tree? Is that like racial profiling? I don’t wish to offend any trees.
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