Are you feeling low energy, out of sorts, dull, going nowhere? It happens.
Taking a Kundalini class, swimming in the ocean, or baking cookies for your neighbors can fix you right up. But in Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth,” a simpler way is also available suggests the watchdog Tock to the boy Milo, for whom everything is a bore.
“’What are you doing here?’ growled the watchdog.
‘Just killing time,’ replied Milo apologetically. ‘You see —
‘KILLING TIME!’ roared the dog—so furiously that his alarm went off. ‘It’s bad enough wasting time without killing it.’ And he shuddered at the thought. ‘Why are you in the Doldrums anyway—don’t you have anywhere to go?’
‘I was on my way to Dictionopolis when I got stuck here,’ explained Milo. ‘Can you help me?’
‘Help you! You must help yourself,’ the dog replied, carefully winding himself with his left hind leg.
‘I suppose you know why you got stuck.
‘I guess I just wasn’t thinking,’ said Milo.
‘’PRECISELY,’ shouted the dog as his alarm went off again. ‘Now you know what you must do.’
‘I’m afraid I don’t,’ admitted Milo, feeling quite stupid.
‘Well,’ continued the watchdog impatiently, ‘since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking.’ And with that he hopped into the car.
‘Do you mind it I get in? I love automobile rides.’
Milo began to think as hard as he could (which was very difficult, since he wasn’t used to it). He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly. He thought of yesterday’s lunch and tomorrow’s dinner. He thought of words that began with J and numbers that end in 3. And, as he thought, the wheels began to turn.
‘We’re moving, we’re moving,’ he shouted happily.
‘Keep thinking,’ scolded the watchdog.
The little car started to go faster and faster as Milo’s brain whirled with activity, and down the road they went. In a few moments they were out of the Doldrums and back on the main highway. All the colors had returned to their original brightness, and as they raced along the road Milo continued to think of all sorts of things; of the many detours and wrong turns that were so easy to take, of how fine it was to be moving along, and, most of all, of how much could be accomplished with just a little thought. And the dog, his nose in the wind, just sat back, watchfully ticking.” (p. 30-31).
Get thinking; you too will soon be out of the doldrums.
P.S. This “children’s” book is filled with other good suggestions. And reading is another great way to get out of the doldrums.
“Memory is the sense of loss, and loss pulls us after it. God Himself was pulled after us into the vortex we made when we fell, or so the story goes. And while He was on earth He mended families. He gave Lazarus back to his mother, and to the centurion he gave his daughter again. He even restored the severed ear of the soldier who came to arrest Him—a fact that allows us to hope the resurrection will reflect a considerable attention to detail. Yet this was no more than tinkering. Being man He felt the pull of death, and being God He must have wondered more than we do what it would be like. He is known to have walked upon water, but He was not born to drown.
And when He did die it was sad—such a young man, so full of promise, and His mother wept and His friends could not believe the loss, and the story spread everywhere and the mourning would not be comforted, until He was so sharply lacked and so powerfully remembered that his friends felt Him beside them as they walked along the road, and saw someone cooking fish on the shore and knew it to be Him, and sat down to supper with Him, all wounded as He was. There is so little to remember of anyone—an anecdote, a conversation at table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stoke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long” –
From Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, p. 194-195.
At a Salt Lake City museum in March, we saw a moving exhibit. Lynn Blodgett, the photographer, explains,
“I offer Finding Grace in the hope that we can develop the desire and courage to see beyond the myths that all homeless people are lazy, addicted or crazy. Perhaps we can begin to see people in need and acknowledge our own darkest fears. I believe that if we look into these eyes, we will recognize our mothers, brothers, and daughters, and we will discover talented musicians, bricklayers, stockbrokers, business women and poets.”
These photos are only part of Lynn Blodgett’s fantastic and insightful exhibition.
What can we do in our own communities to shelter those in need?
Barry’s favorite quotations from Tuesdays with Morrie:
“The way you get meaning in your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
“A teacher affects eternity; he [she] can never tell where his [her] influence stops.”
Aloha, Barry (and Renée)
“God is setting us a big challenge, a really big challenge — how we are living so close to difference with such powers of destruction, but He is really giving us very little choice.
You know, to quote that great line from W.H. Auden, ‘We must love one another or die.’ And that is where we are, I think, at the beginning of the 21st Century, and since we really can love one another, I have a great deal of hope,” says Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
In the Krista Tippett interview The Dignity of Difference, Sacks says, “The faithful can and must cultivate their own deepest truth while finding God in the face of the stranger and the religious other.”
To hear the complete interview, go to http://onbeing.org/program/dignity-difference/188
You may want to read Rabbi Sacks’ new book, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence.
In Love & Aloha,
On our recent trip home to the Midwest, we learned about an early ancestor–a controversial one: Mary (Bliss) Parsons, who went to court twice under suspicion of being a witch – and survived. Cousin Elaine shared what she had learned from Lin, our Wisconsin cousin who has studied much about our genealogy. Mary (Bliss) Parsons is our eighth great-grandmother.
Born in Gloucestershire, England, in 1628, Mary emigrated from England to Hartford with her family and later married Joseph Parsons. Mary and Joseph settled near Springfield and later Northampton, Massachusetts. The couple had 11 healthy children (who mainly flourished). The family joined the church and experienced financial success. Among other ventures, they opened the first tavern in Northampton. Probably as a result of her good fortune, Mary Bliss Parson was suspected of being a witch.
Because neighbor Sarah Bridgman had spread rumors most particularly insinuating that Mary was a witch, in 1656, Joseph Parsons took Sarah to court. Joseph charged Sarah Bridgman with slander on behalf of his wife. Mary Parsons had her name cleared in court, but the suspicions remained. Eighteen years later, Mary Parsons was charged in court with being a witch.
According to Wikipedia, Mary Bliss Parson’s Witchcraft trial began in 1674, decades before the infamous Salem Witch Trials. “She was one of many persecuted in the decades before, illustrative of the mindset common in accusals of witchcraft that targeted the richer members of society rather than the poorer outcasts. . . What sparked the accusations in 1674 was the sudden death of neighbor Sarah Bridgman’s daughter, Mary Bartlett. Mary Parsons’ body was searched for “witch marks” [skin lesions]. In 1675. . . [Mary (Bliss) Parsons] was sent to Boston for the trial but found innocent of witchcraft. . .
According to a blog on “John Bliss – Miner Descent” – “Local tradition has remembered Mary as being ‘possessed of great beauty and talents, but…not very amiable…exclusive in the choice of her associates, and…of haughty manners’” [She also had 11 children in a time before washing machines or electric stoves–and so had no time for idle chatter].
The site also says the following photo although often identified as Mary Bliss Parsons – is NOT her:
Even though Mary Parsons was found not guilty, rumors did not die down, and Mary and Joseph Parsons eventually moved back to Springfield in 1679-80.
According to Mass Movements:
“Although Mary Parsons occupied a far more secure social position than almost all of the other women charged with witchcraft in early New England — after all, she was the wife of one of the richest, most respected men in western Massachusetts — her experience fit the norm in other ways. Middle-aged women were the most likely to be accused of witchcraft. The issues of jealousy, personal animosity, and family feuds that were so evident in her case would fuel the Salem Witch hysteria of 1692 as well.
The horror that began in Salem Village (present day Danvers) and spread to almost every town in Essex county saw women, children, and men, including the former minister of Salem Village, hauled before magistrates. At one point some 170 accused witches were being held in jails in Ipswich, Salem, Boston, and Cambridge. Between June and September of 1692, authorities hanged 19 people and pressed one to death; four more died in prison, awaiting trial. In 1693 the madness ended [after the wife of a judge was accused of being a witch. No longer was spectral evidence allowed in court — that an accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to the witness in a dream at the time the accused person’s physical body was at another location]. There would be no more convictions and executions for witchcraft in New England, although it would be another century before the belief in witches lost its hold on the people of the region.
A Delusion of Satan, by Frances Hill (Da Capo Press, 1997).
Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England, by John Putman Demos (Oxford University Press, 1982).
“The Goody Parsons Witchcraft Case: A Journey to Seventeenth-Century Northampton.”
Mary Parsons lived for thirty years after her husband died in 1683. She continued to amass fortune and endured rumors of Witchcraft for the rest of her life. In 1712, Mary (Bliss) Parsons died at the age of 84.
Our family story is that Mary Parsons was one of the few women charged with witchcraft who was allowed to defend herself in court. Her arguments were believed, and she was acquitted of the charge.
Another version, however, is that her husband paid to have her acquitted.
Two descendants have written books about Mary Bliss Parsons:
1) Kathy-Ann Becker has written SILENCING THE WOMEN: The Witch Trials of Mary Bliss Parsons – “the true story of what happened to a Puritan woman who was too beautiful, too rich, and too outspoken for her times” – The novel is historical fiction, a love story. [I’m thinking a life of having and caring for 11 children and her husband in the 1700s – and being accused throughout her life of being a witch – might not be that romantic, but I haven’t read the book. If you do read it, please let us know how you like it].
2) In The Strong Witch Society: The Diary of Mary Bliss Parsons, the author D.H. Parsons says Mary has channeled her story through him. This book is the first of three volumes. D.H. Parsons notes, “What is not so well known is that Mary was a member of a small but powerful group of witches, The Strong Witch Society. After her death in 1712, it became Mary’s purpose to somehow “awaken” in the mind and spirit of one of her future descendants in order to reinstitute The Strong Witch Society. The author is that grandchild. What unfolds on the pages of this book is a rollercoaster of supernatural events and ‘lessons’ designed with the express purpose of calling together the remaining Strong Witches in order to divert an impending world disaster. This book is about far more than just Witches. It introduces and covers many other subjects including Alien Contact, Inter-Dimensional Travel, the Natural Disasters our world is facing today, political crises, and etc. It offers Simple solutions on how to deal with all of those problems before it is too late”
Reviewers give it 4.6/5 stars. The author says it is a non-fiction book. I’ve read the first 40 pages in the first of three volumes. So far, I’ve not learned of any “Simple solutions” to any of our modern problems, but I have many pages to go. If you finish this set of books before I do, let us know what you think.
Whatever is true, Mary Bliss Parsons was a strong, resourceful woman, one who had 11 children and lived to be 84 back when there were no antibiotics, many women died during childbirth, and the average longevity rate in the early 1700s in the U.S. was 36 years old!
Perhaps Mary Bliss Parsons was a witch (a good witch). :)
What about you? Do you have any suspected witches or warlocks in your family history?
Happy Halloween. May all the spirits be good to you. Aloha, Renée
You saw us last in Reno, but after a few days of recreation, Barry and I continued driving west. The next stop was Berkeley to visit our friends Julia, David, and their sweet daughter Serene.
After breakfast together, Julia gathered a bunch of cuttings from her garden; she and I went to a Berkeley plant exchange.
Then we were off to Surrey, near Vancouver, British Columbia to visit our friends Anne & Jim and Mark & Norma.
Anne & Mark took Barry and me sightseeing (while Jim and Norma went to work).
We went first to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. Go to: http://moa.ubc.ca The museum has one of the finest collections of First Nations art in a spectacular building.
Then we wandered the Vancouver waterfront:
After our great dinner, we had more music.
Then, we were off to Kirkland, WA. near Seattle, to visit our friend Gail. The name “Kirkland” may seem familiar if you are a COSTCO shopper; COSTCO headquarters are there.
One of our first priorities was to turn our car over to Matson to ship it to Hawaii. After stowing our six months of travel stuff in her house, Gail led us to the correct place. We said “goodbye” to our great touring car – at least temporarily.
We got to stay with Gail for about a week. Of course, we went to Pike Place Market in Seattle.
We’re back with our son, friends, house projects, paddling . . .
We’re happy to be home. But we’ve started planning our next trip.
In 1972, I was in Afghanistan. I wasn’t anyone special – just another young American traveling overland from Europe on my way to India. I was in Afghanistan before the series of coups in the 1970s, before the Russian invasion, before the civil war, before the moderate Taliban took over and then the extremists, before the U.S. military led invasion with Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
I was there to see the giant Buddhas that had been carved during the 4th and 5th centuries into a mountain face.
I was there to see the deep, cold, huge Band-e-Amir lakes in the North of Afghanistan. Notice the land – mountainous, barren.
My French/Canadian friend and I were on our way to India and met an Italian guy who never stopped talking, two quiet Dutch guys, and their Great Dane; the guys were driving across Afghanistan and Pakistan to India; they invited us to come with them. We said yes because it was the cheapest way to go – and we were young and foolish.
We’d heard there were many bandits. In Afghanistan, we saw condoms (given out by aid workers) being used as balloons, weathered men with ammunition belts slung across their shoulders, and away from the towns, we saw children begging for matches – to light the wood fires for cooking and heat. We camped at night. We had NO trouble.
Outside Kabul, we saw few people. The land harsh: in some places, the “valley” between two mountain ranges was so narrow and rocky, it was only a dry riverbed. The crops of corn and wheat were planted on the steep sides of the mountains. I couldn’t understand how they could grow anything in that land. We were in the Hindu Kush part of the Himalayan Mountains. Near Kabul, toward the middle of the mountain range, the height extends from 4,500 to 6,000 meters (14,800 to 19,700 ft). The people were extremely poor – and struggling. That was 1972.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica,
“In April 1978 Afghanistan’s centrist government, headed by Pres. Mohammad Daud Khan, was overthrown by left-wing military officers led by Nur Mohammad Taraki. Power was thereafter shared by two Marxist-Leninist political groups, the People’s (Khalq) Party and the Banner (Parcham) Party—which had earlier emerged from a single organization, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan—and had reunited in an uneasy coalition shortly before the coup. The new government, which had little popular support, forged close ties with the Soviet Union, launched ruthless purges of all domestic opposition, and began extensive land and social reforms that were bitterly resented by the devoutly Muslim and largely anticommunist population. Insurgencies arose against the government among both tribal and urban groups, and all of these—known collectively as the mujahideen (Arabic mujāhidūn, “those who engage in jihad”)—were Islamic in orientation”
Where there had been almost no other people at Bamiyan or the lakes or wherever we were crossing Afghanistan, there came soldiers.
Inside Afghanistan, tribes and various groups have fought numerous military campaigns. The U.S. led forces are only the latest group.
Remind me again why the U.S. went into Afghanistan and Iraq.
U.S. military casualties according to The Washington Post: From 2001-2014, 6,840 U.S. service members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Of that numbered killed, 3,039 were 20-24 years old. What are we doing to our young people? Fifty-three of that number were 50-59 years old. What were they doing there? In Afghanistan, 2,354 have died; almost double that in Iraq. (http://apps.washingtonpost.com/national/fallen/dates/2014/
These numbers don’t count the military members who came home but are injured in body or spirit. It doesn’t count the suffering of their families. It doesn’t count all the civilian Afghani who struggle to keep themselves and their children alive. It doesn’t count the Afghani who are fighting to get their own country back. Those published figures on casualties are only part of the suffering.
According to Brown University, Watson Institute,
“The Costs of War reports document the direct and indirect toll that war takes on civilians and their livelihoods, including the lingering effects of war death and injury on survivors and their families.
Approximately 210,000 Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani civilians have died violent deaths as a direct result of the wars.
- War deaths from malnutrition, and a damaged health system and environment likely far outnumber deaths from combat [my emphases] .
Since money is a factor too, how much has the war in Afghanistan cost?
The newest U. S. Congressional Research Service says the war in Afghanistan has cost $685.6 billion; Iraq ended up costing $814.6 billion.
Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists
But this Time article, “The True Cost of the Afghanistan War May Surprise You,” by Mark Thompson, says these figures count only some of the cost. “A truer measure of the wars’ total costs pegs them at between $4 trillion and $6 trillion [my emphasis]. This fuller accounting includes “long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs,” Harvard economist Linda Bilmes calculated in 2013″ (Jan. 1, 2015).
Remember that our government said we had to go to war because of the “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.
And what is happening in Afghanistan now?
If you aren’t depressed enough by the injuries and deaths of our U.S. led military members, and the almost four times as may deaths of civilians – and the huge costs, here is something else you need to consider.
In the Jan. 1, 2015 edition of Rolling Stone magazine, writer Matthieu Aikins says, “After 13 years of war, we haven’t defeated the Taliban, but we have managed to create a nation ruled by drug lords” (p. 68). Perhaps if we could be leaving Afghanistan and its people (and Iraq too) with a hopeful future, losses could be justified.
Read this very troubling article:
Also, today here’s the latest news on Afghanistan: October 15, 2015 – “WASHINGTON — The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017, President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years.” From The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/16/world/asia/obama-troop-withdrawal-afghanistan.html?_r=0
When will we learn? War is not the answer – at least not the easy answer nor the sustainable answer.
Yes, many bad people are dead – and many more good ones too.
What will happen to those who fight there and then come home? What about those who now have to stay longer than planned in Afghanistan? What will now happen to Afghanistan and its people? Except for those getting rich on the military, do you really think that war is working?
Couldn’t we be trying something else?
Hopefully, young Western backpackers will again wander from Turkey, Iran, across Afghanistan, and through Pakistan into India as we were able to do. And people in all those countries will have a peaceful, positive future. It could happen, but we – our governments – have to do something else besides supporting wars.
Renée & Barry