Golf: My 2020 Golf Season

I haven’t written about my own game this season, as there hasn’t been that much to write about, and I thought one blog about the whole season, would do the job. Despite the pandemic, and a very slow start, I was able to play over 100 rounds, for the 6th straight season. I did not come close to my record, of 150 rounds in one year, but getting over the 100 mark, is still nice, and as of right now I stand at 105 rounds. I had 52 rounds over 80, with two 90’s thrown in, and 53 rounds under 80, with the best, not that long ago, a 72 at Ponderosa. I have had a late season surge of good play, but more on that later. My handicap, with the updates happening every round, and only 8 rounds being counted, jump around more than usual, from a low of 4.5, to a high of 6.3, before ending the year at 4.9. Here is how the parts of my game performed in 2020. I drove the ball really well again, and it was by far, the best part of my game. I always find this a little strange, because in my younger years, it was probably, the worst part of my game. I have no explanation, other than this game is goofy. The irons were the most inconsistent part of my game. Some days, I would hit them great, and be very accurate, and other days, I would be all over the place. My short game was mediocre all year, with the chip yips and my sand play being the worst. The chip yips would come and go, and they had a major effect on my score. My putting was average all year, but I did have one day, that I will discuss later. No spectacular shots this year and overall the year was pretty bland. I am still not having any swing thoughts when I play, and I may have found why swing thoughts stop working, but more on that, on a future blog. There were 3 highlights of the year.

The first highlight was Covid related. I live in Western Pennsylvania, and we are close to the West Virginia border. Pennsylvania golf courses were closed for the month of April, due to Covid. However, Highland Springs is right on the Pennsylvania border with 12 holes in West Virginia, and 6 in Pennsylvania, with the clubhouse being in West Virginia. This golf course was open in April, and we managed to play 4 rounds, during the month. Needless to say, the golf course was packed, 7 days a week. The 5 hour plus round was the normal. I changed the name of the course to, Bubba Gump Golf Course, because just like Forrest Gump, who had the only shrimping boat to survive the hurricane, this golf course was the only game in town. When the weather was half way decent, there were easily, between 50 and 70 rounds played per day. The second highlight was the best 9 hole putting stretch I have ever had, and just like a lot of things in golf, it came out of the blue. We had to play the 9 hole course at South Park, because of work being done, on the front nine of the 18 hole course. I hadn’t played this nine, in about 2 years. The round started off innocently enough, when I knocked a 9 iron within about 15 feet, and 2 putted for par. On the second hole I chunked a wedge, indifferent chip to 20 feet, made it. Third hole 7 iron off to right of green, chipped up to 10 feet, made it. Fourth hole, hit a limb on my second shot, pitched up 15 feet, made it. The next two holes, I had a tap after putting from the fringe, and made a 3 footer, after a short chip from the rough. The next hole a par 5 I butchered, but made a 10 footer, for par. On number 8, I chipped up to 3 foot, made it. The ninth hole a long par 4, I made a 20 footer for par. For the 9 holes, I had 10 putts, with 5 of the putts, being 10 feet or longer. Now, I have had 9’s, when I had 10 putts, but a chip in was involved. We could not play more than nine holes that day, but it was my best putting for nine holes, by far. The final highlight of the year, was my good play, as the year wound down. My last 8 rounds of the year were 72, 76,74, 81, 81, 76,78, and 76. This finish I will blog more about, in the near future. The two 81’s were in some tough windy conditions. Even though there is some potential for a few more rounds, the 2020 golf season is basically over. The game is still mystifying to me, but at least I feel I have made some progress, as the year wound down. More on that later, see you on the links.

Meditation: Deserve

Deserve is a word that we hear many times, during the course of a day. The word deserve means to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have. Most of the times the word is used when somebody receives an award, and comments are made, whether he deserved the award, or not. When it comes time for the Oscars, there are movies that people feel deserve or did not deserve a nomination. The word is not always used in positive situations. Sometimes when bad things happen to people, someone might comment they deserved it. We all have had this experience when watching a movie, the villain, or vile person, gets his just due, in the end of the movie. We are all satisfied with that ending, because he deserved it. When a person commits a crime, they deserve to go to jail. This is not the way we are supposed to feel when something bad, or serious happens to another person, but it is still pretty harmless. In fact, it is often fun to debate who deserves what. On the smaller stage of life, we see people have opinions on whether or not someone deserved a promotion, or the new job they are pursuing. People will comment on another person’s new relationship, if it seems to be going well, as something they deserve. As long as a person applies deserve to another person or thing, then this process can be, for the most part, not a major problem, in one’s own psyche. It’s when deserve starts to be a way they describe their own life, that problems can arise.

It’s when you start thinking, that you deserve a better job, a new promotion, a better relationship, or just a better way of life in general, that can have a negative impact on your life. This thinking can spiral into a worse situation if you start perceiving that you deserve any of the bad things, that may be happening. We all feel there are times when we can do better, in dealing with other people, and ourselves, but this does not mean, that we are a bad person and deserve the results, when things go wrong. When you look up synonyms for the word deserve, you will find entitled. When people say they are entitled, this can bring quite a negative response. Maybe the word deserve should have more of a negative connotation. Is there anything that is good or bad, that we actually deserve. Just because you work hard, and do all the right things, is not going to guarantee success, or a monetary reward. Luck is always going to be a factor in life. Do we all deserve to be lucky? I think the answer lies at the end of movie The Unforgiven. The sheriff is about to get his head blown off by Clint Eastwood and says that he does not deserve to die like this. Eastwood’s characters reply is “Deserves got nothing to do with it”. That statement can be applied to every action and result in life, deserve has nothing to do with it. We need to get into that mode when dealing with deserve. It is just an opinion and it needs to be vanquished, from our own lives, if we want to have contentment. The reason for doing anything is for our own self satisfaction and peace. To do this, we need to remove deserve from the middle of our minds.

Meditation: Beliefs

Everyone has beliefs. My favorite saying about beliefs, is you do not want to have too many strong beliefs, because they will limit your thinking. Beliefs, defined in the dictionary states that it is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. It can be further defined as something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction, like my belief that the Rays would upset the Dodgers. Then there are religious convictions, which are the hardest beliefs to prove or disprove. Reincarnation is a belief that is widespread, that is believed by anywhere from 40 to 50% of the world population. This belief can not be proved or disproved. Then there are Nihilist, who believe in nothing. Nihilism  is a philosophy, or family of views within philosophy, expressing some form of negation towards life or towards fundamental concepts such as knowledge, existence, and the meaning of life. Different nihilist positions hold variously that human values are baseless, that life is meaningless, that knowledge is impossible, or that some set of entities does not exist. Some beliefs are easier to disprove than others. If someone believes that the sun is not going to come up tomorrow, or the world is going to end on a certain date in the near future, time will take care of disproving that belief. Time disproved my belief in the Rays. These beliefs are pretty harmless but some can be serious. We, as a people, seem to have to believe in something. It just makes us feel better. It is the basis of organized religion. Religion, no matter which one, has a set of beliefs, that in most cases are impossible to prove or disprove. Back in the early years of mankind, these religious beliefs caused many wars, which led to much suffering for mankind. Even to this day beliefs can stir up strong emotions and lead to violence between many groups of people. The world has progressed enough to realized that there are many kinds of beliefs and we should be able to respect these beliefs, and live in some kind of harmony. Or has it? Is having beliefs a good thing? Is believing in nothing really a belief and should we all be like this.

The first thing that beliefs lead to is rules. Now, that is not always a bad thing. Rules and laws help society function and keeps things in some sense of order. However some of these rules lead to infringement of one’s personal space. It goes back to trying to legislate morality. What one does in their home, should not be determined by someone else’s beliefs. I guess you could say I have stated one of my beliefs. The law of the land is basically made my the government and, is made by a body of people to help regulate society. Laws can change. Beliefs can change, but this is less likely. We are always talking and discussing how a person seems to grow and evolve. If fact, it seems to be one of the big problems of most relationships. One person seems to grow and evolve and the other person does not. How much do beliefs have to do with this? When do beliefs form? Certainly your parents will have some influence on your beliefs. That influence could cause you to have the same or different beliefs as them. One of my beliefs is that meditation is the key to life. My parents never even thought of meditation in their entire lives. How should we live with our beliefs? I think we should examine them on a regular basis, at least once a month. Check to see if your beliefs are working for you. Are you having any doubts? They could be holding you back in certain situations. It doesn’t hurt to take that inward look when it comes to what you believe in and how you respond to the world around you. It won’t hurt to become a Nihilist for about 30 minutes, and work back from there to reevaluate. Beliefs can be very helpful in making your life whole and rewarding but only if you can look at them with an open mind.

Meditation: All or Nothing

There seems to be a lot of all or nothing thinking out there now a days. In fact this kind of thinking seems to be related to anxiety and depression. It’s also given the name of negative thinking pattern. It is also termed splitting which is defined as the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism.[1] The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground). On the internet there are lots of websites, ready to help with the problem. This type of thinking is associated with the use of the words never, always, no one, every one, ruined and anymore. Most of the examples given are for the big things in life, relationships, the workplace and self-worth. This thinking can lead to certain types of behavior or emotions. When things do not go our way we have a tendency to use extreme wording as a way to react to the situation. Relationships going bad, missed opportunities on the job, and just a feeling that everything is going wrong. This is when the word never and always come to the forefront. I will never be able to have a good relationship, or I will always be passed over for a promotion. This kind of thinking can lead to some severe mental problems. I want to discuss this type of thinking in the more mundane things in life and see if this can help the problem on the bigger scale.

I knew a women who had 5 aquariums in her house plus she had what she called a hospital tank for when any of the fish became ill. She had the tanks for 4 or 5 years. She was really into her fish and really seemed to enjoy the whole process. Then one day I came to her place for a visit and the tanks were gone. I thought maybe she had had some kind of accident with the tanks and a lot of fish had died. She said that she just got tired of all the work. This made me think, but not say, why don’t you just have one tank, instead of not doing it at all. I can understand her reasoning, but cutting down to one tank would cut the work load by 80%. She opted to quit altogether. Another all or nothing decision. I have seen other people quit other endeavors, that at one time they seem to enjoy. I quit playing golf back in the mid 90’s, but I knew I was coming back to it some day. Does this all or nothing mentality about activities, carry over into the more important decisions and happenings in life. Do we quit these activities because of depression and/or anxiety? Why do we not see the option of moderation or the middle ground? Could the I want it all syndrome, be at the heart of the problem. Is it the people that seem to achieve, the I want it all goals, be part of the issue. There are many stories out there of people that have achieved fulfillment it seems at every level. When these stories are told, they seemingly, are meant to inspire people, to try and achieve the same success on all levels. However, these stories may wind up making people even more depressed and anxious, because they do not have the capabilities of achieving success on all levels. Let’s face it, we all can’t be Tiger Woods in golf. So what is a person to do.

The solution is in moderation and acceptance. Moderation to me, is one of the keys to living life to the best of your abilities. You can apply moderation to every aspect of your life. Even things that may be good for you, such as exercise, rest, and time for yourself, should be done in a moderate way. Trying to keep yourself in balance can be challenging but it is well worth it, as you move through this crazy thing called life. Acceptance is just as important. Accepting the fact that you are doing the best that you can, under your circumstances. This does not mean that you can not try and do better. Between moderation and acceptance you will realize that things are changing all the time, some for the good, and others for the bad. There are many options out in the world not just leave or stay, do or don’t do, and can or can’t. Many small steps can be made to make one’s life better. There are enough hours in the day. There is always the next day. Try and apply moderation and acceptance on the smaller things in life, like your everyday activities and hobbies. Then, if you are successful in achieving this balance in the routine things, then you may be able to apply the principles to the big things in life. Be thankful for what you have and where you have a chance to go. If you can’t have it all, half of it is better than nothing. Twenty five per cent of it is better than nothing. In fact anything is better than nothing. The grays in life is where it’s at. Stay close to the middle and you will always feel better about what is coming next.

Meditation: News

The definition of news is, newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events. I first started meditating in 1993, and at the same time, I stopped reading newspapers, and watching newscasts. It was one of the best things I ever did. Any big events, I heard about from friends and neighbors, but not listening to newscasts, made my life much less stressful, and more relaxing. Then came the pandemic of 2020, and to keep up with something so historic, I started watching some news shows, the Today Show and Sunday Morning on CBS. I also started reading more news stories on Apple News. Thirty years later, when it comes to news reporting, I see nothing has changed. It is a sad commentary, that the sole purpose of the news media, whether it be print or broadcast, is to create fear in the minds of their readers and listeners. They equate this with keeping people well informed. Do we really need to know ,that killer bees are invading the country, that social security benefits could be gone by the mid 2030’s, and more bad weather is on the way? The pandemic has fueled this type of reporting even more. They continue to report on ways that the environment can kill you, from the air we breathe to the food we eat. They report on stories that have very little affect on our daily lives, but show the worst sides of people. They very seldom follow the rule of reporting noteworthy information about important events.

Can there be any purpose in trying to keep a population frozen in fear? Is it to keep people distracted by this constant barrage of fear inducing stories, so they will be incapable of moving on with their lives, and improving their respective position in life. I think the stories speak for themselves. We had to shelter in place because of the Covid 19 outbreak, but the media have been trying to keep people indoors for 75 years. Just today on my default browser there were stories of all the celebrities that died of Covid, China responding to a U.S. move restricting their diplomats, and how opening colleges is not working. Almost everyday there is a story about nuclear weapons. There is nothing an individual can do to stop a foreign power from making nuclear weapons, so why tell us about it. The 1950’s is a perfect example. The media frenzy over nuclear weapons had people building bomb shelters. Things have not changed over the last 60 years. Threatening weather makes the headlines all the time, like the entire country is under some kind of environmental attack. Obviously, this type of news reporting sells, or it would not be happening. Unfortunately, there are many people who like to see and hear about suffering, and tragedy, and the news media has no problem, in showing all the death and destruction. It is time for me to go back to not watching the news. Maybe, occasionally, getting a Covid update, to see if this thing is ever going to end anytime soon. Meditating is a way to relieve this stress of the news reporting, but the best way to avoid all the bad effects of watching the news, is to stop watching. It is never going to make your life better. It is time to forget about the big world, because the big world will take care of itself, it always has. It is time to take care of your world. Meditate, breath, relax, and ignore the news. While the pandemic continues, check some stats, about once a week. Be aware of what the disease is doing in your area, and any area, that you may be visiting. But forget about killer bees, and unknown forces, that are going to destroy your food supply, and render yourself helpless. Relax, and enjoy your little microscopic space in the world, because everything can be just fine there, if you follow your inward self.

Golf: The Dilemma

The dilemma in golf is very simple. We are trying to hit a target with a ball, without looking at the target. We are using a method of hitting this target, that seems to be very complicated, especially for longer or full shots, which in turn, makes hitting the target, very difficult. This makes golf totally unique. There are sports, that have some similarities with golf, which I am going to discuss, but none of them have all the elements, that golf requires to achieve the desired goal. This process, of trying to hit the target, in golf has a tendency to make the mind go in all kinds of directions. This causes both mental and physical confusion. The biggest thing golf does, is that it makes the participant try to do things, that they are not capable of doing. Nobody would ever drive the Indy 500, if they have never driven in a car race before. This might sound like an exaggeration but golfers try shots that only the best golfers in the world should attempt. They do this, probably multiple times a round. Before we get to what we might be able to do about this, let us look at sports, that come close to the golf dilemma.

The first thing that comes to mind, is the tennis serve. The tennis player needs to hit the ball to a particular part of the tennis court. In the process, he winds up and has a backswing and a downswing and looks at the ball he is about to hit to a particular target. The big difference of course, is his target does not change, and is relatively close. The environment does not have a major impact on the process. I suppose wind could be a factor, but usually tennis is played in a rather enclosed arena. So repeating the exact same motion every single time, should result in the desired result. I know the expert puts different types of spin on the ball, but the motion of the body is basically the same. This is not true in golf. The body has to go through some subtle changes, as you progress through the clubs. Another sport that seems to have a lot of similarities to golf is baseball. From pitching to batting, comparisons are made to golf. Pitching, in particular, with the wind up being compared to a backswing and downswing scenario. The big difference, the pitcher is very capable of looking at the target while he is doing his motion. There have been some great pitchers over the years, while going through the pitching motion, will take their eyes off the target. Just before they release the ball, they will pick up the target with their eyes. The baseball swing is often compared with the golf swing. The player is intent on keeping his eye and head on the ball, as soon as it leaves the pitchers hand. Of course, the batter does not have to chase his foul ball, and does not have to control the ball any where near what a golfer has to do. Hockey players are looking at the net until they are just ready to shoot and then look quickly at the puck before firing away. There are more examples I could give, but no sport encompasses all the elements of trying to hit the target that golf does. Is there anything that can be done to make this problem easier to deal with.

We will start with the green, and one method that has been done. Players have tried looking at the hole, and not the ball, while making the putting stroke. The most successful player to this was Jorden Spieth. He seemed to do this, only on short putts, but seemed to make a lot of short putts. It makes you wonder, what made him stop, since now he seems to be having trouble with the short ones. I am surprised, that this has not caught on more, on tour. A method of ball striking, that has never taken off is the early head lift, that was done by Annika Sorenstam and David Duvall. These are two highly successful professional golfers, and each one, made the unique move of lifting their head toward the target, before they made contact with ball. In her book, she writes about this as being a simultaneous lift of the head as she strikes the ball. The pictures in the book of her swing, show this to be trues. When you would see her on TV, in the heat of the tournament, the head would be coming up before she actually struck the ball. She wrote in the book, that was a method to help free up her swing, and have a full release through the ball. I have to wonder though, if this was a way to pick up the target, just like the pitchers do, when they take their eyes off the target during their delivery. She never mentions this but it could have been a subconscious behavior. You wonder if the reverse is true. You certainly can not look at the target and make a golf swing. You know I would try such a thing and it is impossible. However, you could start your swing, while looking at the target, and then let it go back down to the ball as the club shaft was getting to about parallel to the ground. Yes! Another thing to try. I think there are two other things that stand in the way of hitting the target in golf. The first, which I have discussed before, is the swing thought. To put this as simply as possible, how can you be thinking of one thing when you are trying to do something else. You are trying to hit a target, and thinking of making a complete backswing, or whatever about you swing. Let that sink in awhile, and then forget about swing thoughts. The second is playing to a wrong target. How are you supposed to hit something, that you know deep down inside, your either incapable of hitting, or is just too risky to go at. This can range from going for tucked away pins, cutting doglegs, or going over a far distance hazard. This golf dilemma has been around since the game has been invented, and quite frankly, not much as been done, to make things easier, for those of us, who struggle along with this confounding game. Um, looking at the target while you start your swing. I will let you know, maybe.

Food: What It Can Teach Us.

Food, the way it is prepared, and eaten can teach us many things.  First it can teach us the differences in people, and how that is not a bad thing.  People can be divided into two groups, when it comes to food.  You are either a foodie, or a non-foodie. The difference is easy to define.  A foodie lives to eat, and a non-foodie eats to live. The easies way to find a foodie, is to turn to any show on the Food Network, or the Cooking Channel. These people love to cook, and consume food.  They like to find new places to eat food, and find new ways to prepare food. They are enthusiastic eaters, and when  they are eating will use  words like, heaven, oh my God, and so good.  The non-foodie will eat, and enjoy certain foods, but will not go to any great means, to find unusual ways to prepare, and eat food.  Even though, there is a distinct difference, between these 2 groups, they all seem to get along.  No one, seems to discriminate against one group, over the other, when it comes to jobs, civil rights, and opportunities. The foodies and non-foodies seem to be fine with each other, despite their distinct differences.

Food can show how unique you are.  We all have foods, that on the whole, are good for the general populous, that can just, not make us feel good.  Mine is tomato juice.  About 12 hours after drinking tomato juice I will get a splitting headache.  My daughter can not eat broccoli. Then, there is the more serious allergic reactions, that some people develop to certain foods.   It tells you, that you are a totally unique person, and that is not bad.  You want to cultivate that uniqueness, into something special. You never want to worry about being a little different, than the “regular people”.  You are that one special person, with your own hopes and dreams, that only you can accomplish.

Food can teach you compromise.   The best example of this is microwave popcorn.  The compromise is between unpopped  kernels, and burned popcorn.   You do not want too many unpopped kernels, but if you try too hard to pop all the kernels, then the popcorn will burn.  I once, had someone tell me, they liked burnt popcorn.  This person turned out to be an idiot. For those of  us, of at least average intelligence, the goal is to pop as many kernels, without that awful burnt smell, when the bag is opened.

Food can teach you when to be creative, and when to have discipline.   When you are cooking food, that is the time, to let the creative juices flow.  When baking, you better have the discipline to following the recipe exactly.  You might be creative in finding a unique way to bake cookies, pies, and cakes, but you  better remember exactly what you did, or the next time will be a disaster. In cooking, when I make sauces, dips, and rubs I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. When the sauce, dip, or rub, really turns out well, and someone wants to know what I put in it, not only do I not the amount, but many times, I don’t remember all the ingredients.  In my view, that is the fun of it, just wing it. I do not do this, when I bake chocolate chip cookies.

Food can teach us to plan.  Planning what you are going to cook and eat for the week is a great way to learn how to plan other activities.  Planning your meals for the week can help you eat healthier and help your budget.  Plan on some left overs, which you can prepare in different ways from the original meal. You can get into your creative mode again.

Food helps you to get to know yourself, by listening to your body, on how it responds to certain foods, and cuisines.  This goes beyond the more severe reactions, we discussed earlier. Start to pay attention to how you feel, after you eat.  You should feel better than when you started.  Things that can make you off, after you eat, maybe related to waiting too long to eat.  There may be a certain food, that you can tell is difficult for you to digest, or just doesn’t make you feel right.  By paying attention to such things, you can improve your abilities in any endeavor you are doing.  You may sleep better, and be more relaxed by eating foods, that only make you feel good.

Finally, food is a great way to try new things.  Not much of a negative can happen to you, by eating something you have never tried before.  Being more adventuresome in the food world, may spread to other aspects of your life.  Getting use to trying new cuisines, may make your life a little more fulfilled. Even though we need food to survive, food is there to give us so much more.  Try to eat more mindfully, and enjoy every bite, by appreciating what all that good food can really do, to make your life better.

Meditation: Monotony

I returned from San Diego on  March 16th after visiting with my daughter’s family. Of course, I have not seen my grandkids since that time. We Facetime, which is great, but certainly, it is not the same thing, as seeing them in person.  The definition of monotony is, lack of variety and interest; tedious repetition and routine. The sentence they used as an example was, “you can become resigned to the monotony of captivity”.  I am sure many people are feeling like captives, during this current pandemic.  We are heading into the sixth month of the Covid 19 crisis.  What is worse, is there seems to be no end in sight.  For whatever reason, people just do not seem to see the seriousness of the situation.  You can blame the President on all his misinformation that has come out of his press conferences, but don’t people have some sort of basic intelligence to see the gravity of situation, apparently not.  Let’s break down the bare facts of our captivity and see if there is anything we can do about it, but I would not be optimistic.

First, we are being held captive by a corona virus, plain and simple.  This is not the flu. The corona virus has been around for a long time, in different forms and is found in almost any animal. There is a corona virus unique to cats, that causes a disease, Feline Infectious Peritonitis.  Many characteristics of this disease are similar to Covid 19.  When cats acquire this virus, most cats have fairly mild symptoms of diarrhea, or no symptoms at all.  However,  5 to 10% of cats infected will  develop a disease, that attacks multiple  organ systems, and results in the cats dying.   They die, because their immune system over reacts to the virus, which causes an extreme inflammatory reaction, that destroys the organs. Does that sound a little familiar of what’s going on when people die of Covid 19?  Corona viruses have this ability to mutate into something much more serious, in any species. Google Feline Infectious Peritonitis if you want to learn more.   The whole point of this, is to emphasize the importance of trying to stop the current virus, not matter what the cost, so it does not have a chance to mutate into something even more serious. If  we are going to escape from this prison, we are going to need to step back and relock up, until the cases start to significantly drop.  Unfortunately we are not going to do that, at this point.  We are going to have to learn how to cope with monotony, because for now there does not seem to an end in sight.

How do we do this?  There is no secret here.  You will  have to emphasize all the things that make life work, except more so. Count your blessing, and appreciate every good thing in your life.  Especially appreciate your good health.   If health is an issue in your life, at this moment, then now is the time to start getting better.  Find joy in the little things in life.  Enjoying another persons companionship, good food, a nice walk, and a warm and sunny day are ways to make monotony tolerable.  Continue to look inside and dig deeper during meditation and times of quiet.  Realized that some day this will all come to an end.  It may not come as quickly as it should,  but it will end. Meanwhile continue to hunker down, pray that all your loved ones, and everybody can stay safe, until common sense prevails. Then, we will start to do the things that will free us from the confinements of the corona virus.

Meditation: Normal

Normal is a word, we have been hearing a lot of lately.  Can’t wait until things get back to normal.  What will the new normal look like?  Will we ever get back to normal?  Normal is defined as, conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. Most reporting in the media is optimistic, that we will return to some kind of normalcy.  The way things have gone lately, that seems hard to believe.  We seem to be in a never ending spiral of flattening the curve, with little reduction in the number of cases, on a day to day basis.  In fact, it is rather freaky, how each day, seems to be about the same, in each state, on the number of cases per day. In the 22 days of May, there have been 17 days, where the new cases have totaled between 20 and 26 thousand per day, in the United States.   Three days, there were over 26,000 cases, but two of those were the first two days of May.  There have been 2 days under 20,000 cases with last one being May 17th.  For 17 out of 20 days, the new cases have not varied by more than  2 to 3 thousand per day in the entire country. There are 18 states where the number of cases are decreasing but 4 of those states were some of the hardest hit, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.   There are 8 states that the cases are increasing.  People keep talking about a vaccine, but even the most optimistic estimates are at the first of the year, and that’s with no set backs.  How likely do you think that is, when trying to make a vaccine for a disease, that we don’t totally understand, yet. So what are the chances of seeing a normal life in 2020?

I would say slim and none.  That does not mean, that we will not be doing a little more than we are doing now, but for this year, this is what I think will not return. Fans in the stands.  Team sports, if they are played at all this year, will be in empty stadiums.  Restaurants will not even be close to normal, if they even  open at all.   Waiters with masks on, my appetite is disappearing as I type.   Youth sports  are done for this year.  Mall shopping will be at 20% volume.  Air travel will be lucky to be at 30% capacity, especially since they showed how irresponsible they have been, by packing planes and risking people’s lives.  Hotels and motels with be no better.  Travel in general, will be way down, for the entire year.  Jobs will be non existent, in the above areas.   Staying at home, and having a good time with known friends and family, will be the new normal.  Hopefully, there will be some live sports to watch on television.  In nice weather, there will be some outside dining to be enjoyed. But life as we have known it, is officially gone. Get use to it.  Make the best of it.  Wear a mask if you go into a place of business.  Maybe summer will help in defeating the virus. I think there is more of a chance of a treatment than a vaccine that may help get us back to our previous life.  There is only one thing certain at this point and that is the virus is ruling the country for the next 7 months.

For now, meditate and be appreciative for what you have.  Good health, and well being, and hope that the people closest to you, stay healthy.  Even with this new normal, life can be good.  There is joy, in just being outside, and breathing some clean air, and the air is a lot cleaner, since everybody has had to stay home. People will have to adapt, and find a new way to make a living, in many cases.  This pandemic has and will make life difficult for the next  12 to 24 months guaranteed. The great depression lasted 11 years and we have people now, that can not or will not shelter in place for 3 months, for the health and safety of the nation.  Normal now, will be sacrifice and suffering both economically and medically and there is nothing that can be done about it.  It’s time to buckle in and hang on, and hope that things don’t  get worse.  For now, the virus is the new normal but hopefully not super long.  Take a deep breath.

Meditation: Patience

Patience is defined, as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. There are three different situations, where patience has to be applied.  You need patience with yourself.  Sometimes, you will need to have patience with love ones, close acquaintances, and fellow workers.  Finally, you will need to have patience with the world and humanity.  Does having patience help your life?   There are three areas where you must have patience. Sometimes these situations can be related.   Delay can lead to trouble, which in turn leads to suffering.  At other times they can be separate entities.  If you do not handle these situations with patience, what are the alternatives.  Can a lack of patience in some instances be beneficial.  Let’s look at patience as it fits in with the relationships you have.

Having patience with love ones, and close acquaintances, while at the time may be difficult, it can be an end point in dealing with some perceived problem in your relationship. Patience comes into play when someone you know is doing something, or not doing something that you disagree with.  You may, or may not give them advice about the situation, and they may not take it, even if you do.  Patience is needed to allow them lead their lives the way they want to, despite what you think.  There may be situations that you think people are not doing their job, or doing things that you find annoying or irritating.  Patience is needed to deal with some of the more mundane things of day to day living. This is what I mean by saying that patience is the end point of the process. What’s the alternative to patience in these situations. There are many choices you can make in both situations.  Remember if you abandon patience, and decide to make some kind of change in the situation, whether it be with a loved one, close acquaintance, or at the workplace, you will be making a drastic change in your life. Like any change the consequences could be good or bad.

The second place patience has its place is with the world and humanity. Right now this pandemic is stretching people’s patient with their government. They are trying to get their life back to some type of normalcy, and get back to work, while maintaining their health and the safety.  Patience is needed when any big organization is having a negative impact on your life.  It may be waiting in line for a long time,  the delay of a flight, or a stay at home order.  In day to day dealings it may be where a company is not providing the service that you think they should. In all of these situations there are not a lot of options but there are some.  You could get out of line.  You could vow never to use that airline again.  You can defy the stay at home.  You could could take legal action against a company or individual that did not provide a service. All of those actions may or may not be a benefit in the long run and may cause you even more problems.  It is a major decision, when you decide that your patience has run out.

Finally there is patience with yourself.  This by far, is hardest one to deal with.  You can not leave yourself.  When you set goals or have day to day things you want to do and fail, patience is your number one friend, if you can apply it.  Any time you get angry or make a poor decision due to a lack of patience, in any of the above scenarios, do you have the ability to have patience with yourself, so you might be able to forgive yourself and move on from your transgressions.  The irony of all this, is your trying to have patience with yourself, for having a lack of patience.  It really boils down to living in the past.   You can not change your mistakes, no matter what the cause. You can only move on, and try to treat yourself kindly and hope that you will do better in the future.  Remember as you apply this technique to yourself, that it may be wise to apply this to other people you are losing patience with, or to the world around you.  Patience is considered a virtue and it is.  Patience can only take you so far, but it will take you farther than you think.