Category Archives: Balance

Some Random Observations and Musings

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Having just returned from a trip out East, I reflect on things I find I very often reflect on when I am suddenly in the midst of a lot of people.    When one hails from central Wisconsin it is easy to forget that there are a lot of places with a lot of people.   Around here, one has to travel to get to a “big” city.   Within our state, the only real city that qualifies is Milwaukee, and spending time there isn’t nearly like spending it in other major cities.

Anyway, what my wife and I both found amazing is that when traveling to the East Coast, people are everywhere.  I don’t say this as a good or a bad ting – it’s just a different thing for us.

We flew into Boston, but we actually drove straight up to Bar Harbor, Maine.    Traffic the entire way, even in the rural areas, was constant.   A few times along the way, there were traffic delays.    We spent time in Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, Booth Bay, Portsmouth, NH and finally Boston.    In every spot, it was impressive to see the multitudes of folks out and about going about their business.

In the past, I’ve had to travel to NY for work, and I’ve visited Chicago a number of times as well.   I am always amazed by the sheer volume of humanity.    I know many see this as a problem – I see it as awesome.   I also view it with a bit of sadness.   I imagine what we could accomplish as a human race if we all worked together in accordance with God’s will and we all truly attempted to reach our full potential (whatever that all means in accordance with God’s will).

But in all these cases, I simply cannot help but consider the fact that every last person is seeing life through a different lens than I am.   Even those of us in the same community – even the same household – see things differently than the next person.   Two people viewing the same event at the same time are seeing it from a slightly different perspective and thinking something slightly different about the whole thing.   Add to that the simple fact that no two people, even married and in the same home, will be with each other at all times, it necessarily means that every person has an unique view of life from anyone else.   All these experiences help form who we are.   This is why different people gravitate to different causes from other people.   It’s why one person sees another person in a positive light while another may not.

This very thought always amazes me.   Sometimes I simply sit and watch a person walking from one place to another, and imagine what they are seeing from where they are.   I often wonder what they are thinking about as they are walking – an impossibility for me to know, but intriguing nonetheless.

Now, I admit that this exercise for me – something I have actually been contemplating for years – has a new wrinkle to it.   It is absolutely phenomenal how many people at any given time are walking around staring at a screen.   I am also guilty of that.   It’s really easy to default to pulling out the phone and checking messages, or putting on music, or whatever.    This is not in and of itself a terrible thing – many are checking in with friends and loved ones in a way that satisfies both parties.    OK, I get that.   I do it as well.    But I also wonder how many people ever take the time to just walk.  And think.    And wonder.  How many people are providing some peace and quiet to themselves and balancing out the noise of constant activity.   But that’s not a new issue – many have discussed this need.   But sometimes the best reminder for oneself is to view the rest of the world and realize how silly it all looks, and then understand that you are often engaging in that same silliness.


Random musing 1:   As a general rule, if a vehicle has more than 2 bumper stickers, it is most often a left-leaning and self-proclaimed socialist.    Most I saw on this trip have either the “Bernie” sticker or a “Coexist” sticker – or both.    A distant second scenario, but still a noticeable one, is a pro-life Catholic.   I’m not a bumper sticker guy, but I can appreciate the zeal for the cause.  But, good grief, I swear that some people slap every bumper sticker they can find, as if to think “Well, if the other 18 didn’t convince everyone, then surely THIS one will do it!”

Random musing 2: How can there be a million cars on the road around Boston, but it’s nearly impossible to find a freakin’ gas station?

Random musing 3:  If you need to smother one substance in another substance in order for it to be enjoyable to eat, then why am I paying $5/oz for it?    I had Lobster twice while in Maine, and it was OK.   I actually preferred it grilled to boiled.   But even with that, I didn’t really get the whole thing.   It doesn’t have a real strong taste either way, so it kind of just tastes like whatever you put on it.   Butter, steak juice, risotto, peanut butter…   A biscuit or a cracker is much less expensive.   I mean, I know it’s cool to crack open the shell of the poor thing that was just boiled to death, so there is that.   But other than the entire novelty of the whole thing, I think I’ll stick with the hunk of beef that tastes like something and weighs more.

 

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Life and the Catholic Balance

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Taking a bit of a break from the prophetic walk through the Catechism, I decided to post some thoughts on random musings in the wake of Memorial Day weekend.

Balancing Act

Balancing Act

This last Sunday evening my family invited another family over to our home. We walked a mile or so to a Pizza place, had our meal, and walked back for an after-dinner adult beverage and good conversation, all while enjoying the warmest Wisconsin weather we’ve had all year.

The family in question are relatively new to our area, and we have hit it off quite well. With eight children, our family alone keeps us busy enough that we do not socialize with other friends and families as much as we think we should, but every now and then we “make ourselves” do it, and are never sorry for the experience.

I have found that these new friends of ours see life in a similar fashion as my wife and I. This is not necessarily something I can say completely with many of our other good friends. So, despite our other friendships, there are certain opinions I keep to myself, or minimize in conversation.

Tim is an ER doc. I enjoy talking to him because he is an example of a doctor who truly feels that this is his calling, and it always has been. It isn’t about the money, nor is it about the prestige. His experiences also give him a unique perspective on certain things that I simply don’t have. But despite our different experiences, our conclusions are much the same.

And the conclusion has to do with balance. I’m not talking about the “work/life” balance that we always hear about. I’m talking about the balance that a Catholic needs to optimally operate and evangelize in this life of ours. It is about not making secular things evil that aren’t inherently evil, and not elevating religious practices and small “T” traditions to doctrinal and fundamentalist levels so as to lose site of what is important in the Mass and Liturgy, and our own Catholic lives.

As we discussed some things, Tim at one point took a pause and offered some nice words of wisdom. It was in the context of eating healthy and exercising and trying to stay healthy. He finally said, “You know, I’m a God-fearing man. And I go to work every day to see people who had no idea that morning that today would be the last day of their lives. And so many of them ate right, exercised every day, and were healthy people who didn’t know that the drunk driver would cross the center line and hit them head on.”

I wondered for a moment where he was going with it, but he continued. (I’m paraphrasing all this, despite the quotes…) “I try to eat healthy, I exercise… but if my blood pressure increases, I’m not going to poison myself with blood pressure medicine. If I have high cholesterol, I won’t take a pill. If I want a brownie, I’ll eat a brownie (as he reached for a brownie). I know I need to take care of myself, but I’m also of the belief that the good Lord is going to call me when it’s my time for Him to call me.”

It was interesting to hear a medical doctor call medicine “poison.” And for the record, I am not passing judgment on anyone who chooses the medicinal route for their health issues, I’m just passing on the conversation.

As we talked further, Tim was not talking about letting yourself go to hell in a handbasket and just letting the Holy Spirit take it from there. The Holy Spirit has too often been used as a cop-out for taking on difficult work or trying to do things in a better way. What he was talking about was proper balance and perspective. He’ll still exercise, because as long as he’s here he believes it’s his obligation to take care of himself. But the perspective is not egocentric. He’s not concerned about never suffering, or squeezing every last moment out of his life by doing everything right. No, he’s an ER doctor who owes it to God and his patients to be in good condition to carry on his work. He wants his kids to eat right as a responsible parent, but he still recognizes that some treats are enjoyable and don’t have to be entirely avoided.

It would do well for all of us to reflect on where we are a bit out of balance. Most of us are with respect to some thing or another.