Karl's Keyboard #17
Dare We Make Any New Year’s Resolutions?
I used to be devoted to New Year’s resolutions. Sometime when I was middle-aged, I became devoted to this ritual, and every year I would churn out a list. Oops—I almost called it a “new” list—but every year the same subjects made the list. I would lose weight, redouble my efforts to complete whatever novel I was working on, keep up my exercise programs for the entire year, etc., etc., etc. I seemed oblivious to this pathetic repetition. Every year would be a new one, and I would treat it as a new entity.
I am not certain when I gave this up. Maybe around age 70. Luckily for me, I did not keep a resolution log. Each year’s list was buried deep within whatever notebook was active at the time, so these competing lists never met face-face shootout. I avoided the anguish and humiliation.
Why did I stop? I do not know exactly why. Maybe it had something to do with mortality. I had had my three score and ten. I still worried about the issues that haunted my lists, but I made no more new ones. And now, on the occasion of my first New Year as a blogger, I revisit the topic.
Some things I would not bother with. I would not make a resolution to escape the novel coronavirus. I do intend to be careful, but the world is full of people who resolved to be careful, and yet found themselves infected. I do intend to be vaccinated. But that is a one- or two-step occasion, not something that requires close attention throughout the year.
I ought to resolve to give up being obsessed with Donald John Trump. I hope I can learn to scoff cheerfully at his newest pronouncements. May Trumpism be finished. I do have to admit I will be happy to see state and local prosecutors bringing him to justice.
I intend to continue maintaining this blog, but does that warrant a resolution? I am occasionally haunted by the shadowy Miss Otis (regular readers will recognize her name as a sobriquet for Mild Cognitive Impairment, a diagnosis I have been living with for more than two years). I still fancy that I can think and write—both creatively and critically—and I intend to continue at least through 2021. Is that a resolution? It seems on the weak side, as this aspect of my life could just slip away. I do hope to develop a better-defined relationship with Miss Otis. Dialogues with Miss Otis. Do you think that has sufficient cachet? Let’s leave this idea on the back burner for now.
Marking the Winter Solstice
I am not exactly fond of the winter solstice, but it has made its impression on me for several decades. I am happy today to be able to post an epistle by my brother, John Scarborough telling about the solstice celebration based on original research by his wife, Margaret, which is now a 40-year-old tradition, temporarily placed on hold by the pandemic.
My wife and I were able to take part for several years, although eventually its scale grew too big for us. When John and Margaret moved to Ashland, OR they found an opportunity to recreate it on a smaller scale. I mark the solstice in my own quiet way. I begin contemplating it six weeks in advance—before Thanksgiving—and continue a fortnight past Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, when the sun is steadily rising above the horizon.
Zillion is Huge, but it Ain’t No Number
One of my posts featured today toys with the idea of bringing incomprehensively large numbers into the world of meditation. Naturally, I took time to find out exactly how much a zillion is. Zillion is just a concept, meaning a huge amount. Depending on the subject, it might be applied to a class of objects numbering in a few thousands. I must resolve to stop living in dread of zillion, and thinking of it more as a chum of The Three Stooges.
Ending the Year with a Correction
An early version of Robert Anderson’ piece on the Columbia River said that Jacob Astor “…sold his company to British competitors who had established Fort Vancouver a hundred miles upriver.”Andy sniffed out this error: Fort Vancouver was not established until years later. He sent a correction: The Columbia River holdings were quickly sold to a Canadian competitor – just in time to avoid military occupation.”Unfortunately, as the blogger struggled to cut and paste, he mistakenly included the earlier version in the post. Let the record be clear: Fort Vancouver was established long after Astor sold his holdings to the British.
Featured in this Keyboard
Calling all Sentient Beings. Sending loving-kindness and compassion out to every being in the Cosmos is a lot more difficult than it looks, as the blogger discovers.
Needed: A Staging Ground in the West. If we want to live by Eastern spiritual traditions, we have a bit of revamping ahead of us.
Frequent contributors: John Scarborough and Mimi Simmons
Celebrating Solstice: Community and a Connection to the Ancients: John relates a story of how his wife Margaret planted the seeds to create a communal celebration of the winter solstice.
A Culture—and Season—for Honesty. Mimi tells how her daughter was raised knowing the truth about Santa—and still keeps the spirit of Christmas.
The Big Huzzah
Here’s something you probably haven’t thought about this week: How to entertain a Zen koan. My meditation adviser told me to approach a problematic affirmation as if it were a Koan. Here is what I found: How to Practice Zen Koans - Lion's Roar
Til next time …
2020 was a troubling year; bring some meditative focus to envisioning a brighter outlook to 2021.