11 December 2005

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Filed under: Books

I read Breakfast at Tiffany’s last night. I’ve had the book for many years, it pops up from time to time in moves or other re-organizations, and every time I see it I mean to read it, but don’t. Last night I saw it again, on the little table by Pam’s office that is sort of her “staging area” for things either going into that room or going out of it. This time, I thought, I’m really going to read that, and I did.

I’m in sort of a “reading phase” right now. I felt that I was watching far too much television (I mean, really, how many times can I see the same 127 episodes of “King of the Hill” anyway?) and decided to discipline myself to read more and watch less. I’m about two weeks into it now, and I think it is going well. I read the afore mentioned B@T (more on that later) and am working my way through a book on Chinese History, The Good Earth and Alan Alda’s “never have your dog stuffed”.

(A side note to that, people frequently ask me how I can be reading three or four <or just more than one I guess> books at the same time. I have never understood this, as it isn’t like we’re in school anymore and have to finish this or that book by a certain time, and it isn’t like people only watch one television show until its conclusion before starting another. I never have understood that. Anyway…)

So, back to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The copy I have is in fantastic shape, a nice 1958 hardcover edition that looks to have never been read (certainly not in this house, as mentioned above), the spine was as tight as a drum. I don’t know how it came to be with us, Pam didn’t remember either, perhaps it was a thrift store purchase or it came from Pam’s mother or sister, where a lot of our “where did that come from” things seem to have originated.

It wasn’t very long, about 115 pages or so, and had no chapters, which is so odd by today’s standards that you take notice. It did have breaks, which I always appreciate as a reader, because it’s so hard when you come back to a book after putting it down for a bit picking up where you left off.

I must say, I really enjoyed it. It certainly got me to thinking about all the “Holly Golightlys” in my life, of which I’ve had a few, I’m sure we all have. It seems to me that every girl has a little of that in them, the yearning for the “free” life with lots of suitors and no responsibility.

The first person that came to mind was a girl from my teenage years, let’s call her Dorthy, lest she read this and get ticked off at me, although I haven’t heard from her in going on a decade now so that seems fairly unlikely. I had sort of two lifetimes with Dorthy, one in high school and one in my first year of college.

We’d met my sophmore year, when I moved to California from New York and hit it off because she had done the same thing some years before. I think it was my friend John that first introduced me to her, but I can’t say now as it’s nearly 20 years ago now and I can’t remember where I put my keys yesterday much less something like that, but how we met doesn’t really matter.

She was a “popular girl” of sorts, in spite of being in theatre, which of course in most places is the kiss of unpopularity in most schools, but not in her case. You see she was the Star. Every school has one of those, the girl (or guy I suppose but I have no experience with that) that is sort of the de facto star of every show before it is even realized what it is. I guess, looking back on it now, it’s a fish/pond thing, where you’re the biggest fish in that pond, so you always get the part, even though on the larger scale the pond isn’t that large (like I’m not sure that she got invited to all the “cool” parties, etc.).

So Dorthy was the IT girl, at least to me, and several other boys who shared that particular vocation in school. She always seemed to have a gaggle of guys fawning over her, getting her Cokes, asking her out, etc. and I was Fred. Always there, sometimes of interest to her, and sometimes, more often than not for my taste at the time, not of interest to her. We went back and forth this way for the rest of my high school years, her getting more and more popular and me, still the same in the wings and a ready and eager ear to listen to her various stories and problems stemming from the fact she was the IT girl.

I don’t know what she’s doing now, not posing for mask makers in Africa I’m fairly sure, but who knows? The last time I heard anything about her she was touring with traveling theater productions and doing local commercials in LA. I google her every now and then but get nothing, and don’t really know what I’d do if I did find her, much like Fred.

She was an interesting girl, to be sure, and absolutely my closest brush with Holly Golightly.

21 November 2005

The Two Categories of Life and Why Not to Worry

Filed under: Ponderings

One of my favorite people in the world is the Dali Lama. It is amazing to me that with all the hardship he has endured in his life, both himself personally, and his people the Tibetan nation, that he is able to keep such a good outlook on life and be so happy.

I remember reading something once that he said that has stuck with me throughout my life and which I try to practice every single day. That is the Two Categories of Life and why there is no reason to worry.

Everything in life falls into one of two categories:

1. You can do something about it, or;
2. You can’t do anything about it.

If you can do something about it, you should, and not worry about it.

If you can’t do anything about it, it is out of your control and you shouldn’t worry about it.

Just that simple.

This little formula has been a great help to me and I have applied it to every facet of my life.

In my personal life it has taught me not to worry about the past or the future. Just live my life for the right now. I’m not saying that you don’t need to take heed of your actions because you’re not concerned about the future. Rather, that you shouldn’t spend countless hours playing over what has happened in the past and wishing you could change it, or playing over what you think might happen and worrying about it.

In my professional life it has taught me to look at the task at hand, do it right now and move on. Not to spend time stressing about whether or not the project will work out or if my work will be acceptable. If I can do the work, then I will, and do the best that I can while doing it. If I cannot do the work, I say so, and help to find ways to get it done. This has garnered me a reputation at work of being a “get it done now” kind of guy. If I say I can do something and take on a task, everyone knows that it will get done.

What would happen if you applied this formula to your life? How would it change your day to day view of events in your life?

Try it.

For one day make a goal not to worry. Start on a day you have off from work, since less things happen to most of us on days we are not working, and make a pledge to yourself to run everything through this simple filter. Then, see how you feel at the end of the day.
I guarantee you’ll feel better.

Then, after you’ve completed one day of the simple filter thinking, expand it. Try it for two days, perhaps a whole weekend, or if you’re really feeling adventurous, a day at work.

As you do this more and more you will condition your brain to take in information differently. Rather than looking for trouble, you’ll start looking for solutions. Your mind will focus on how to resolve problems, as opposed to looking for new problems. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to do things that you thought before perhaps you couldn’t do. Things will be come easier, life will become easier and most importantly, you’ll be happier.

9 October 2005

A less selfish view

Filed under: General

In my younger years I was of the “everyone sucks but me” mentality. I thought everyone and everything was out to get me and it was my job in life to hack my way through all that to get what I wanted and the hell with anyone or anything that got in my way.

When I began to study Buddhism I learned that rather than everyone being out to get me and everyone sucking, they were in truth just trying to be happy themselves. Their actions, which at the time might be against my interests, were for the most part not particularly against me. I’m not saying that they were always not out to get me, because that might have been part of their plan for happiness, but for the most part it was just how I was looking at the situation that was causing my feelings.

Once I began to look at others as fellow happiness seekers like myself, it became easier to walk a mile in their shoes, and see their lives through their eyes, as opposed to my own self-filtered view of their lives and actions.

It made them, everyone really, human. Everyone was at their core, just like me, a human being who wants to be happy and loved. How could I hate that?

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to apply this in my day to day life. It has allowed me to take situations where someone is really pissing me off with their actions, which may be in direct competition to my actions and goals, and look at them from a less selfish view.

Why are they doing this?
What do they expect to gain?
How do they feel this will make them happy?

This view permits me to see things through their eyes, and perhaps see how I am standing in their way. Perhaps it is my actions that is causing them to “act against me” rather than them being a “total jerk.”

So the next time someone really gets your goat, step back, take a moment and meditate on why you think they are doing this? Look at them as a fragile human being looking for the same thing as you in this life, rather than as an antagonist who is standing in your way.

If nothing else it may soften the blow you’re experiencing by not getting your way. However,  it may allow you to make another person happy, and that is pretty cool.

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