What is your preferred mode of travel? I was a youngster when introduced to Shanks’s Pony. “How are we going to get there?” I had asked. “Shanks’s Pony” was the dry reply that totally escaped the scope of an innocent six-year-old who, nevertheless, quickly discovered that this was the cheapest and easiest means of transport. Ever since then, Shanks’s Pony has served me well. Of necessity, I often use car, bus, train and, occasionally, plane, but Shanks’s Pony offers me the most leisurely ride. This slow mode of transport is helpful when orienting to a new place of abode, whether shifting house or visiting an unfamiliar area. There is something about claiming the way one is treading to make it one’s own, even if it’s experiencing being there. The shanks still get a good workout after almost seven decades and still remain a favourite mode of travel.
I resort to pedantry in order to avoid or stall a direct answer to this albeit common question, which I, along with many, must have mulled over many a time. I note the direct USA reference and how I am not sure now which countries use the short scale (10 to the power of 9 ie 1,000,000,000) or the long scale (10 to the power of 12 ie 1,000,000,000,000). It makes quite a big difference, thus discombobulating thoughts on how such a large sum might be distributed.
I would find it such a headache that, whether short or long, I would employ some trusted administrator to set the moolah up as a philanthropic trust for health and education where most needed.
Success is the state or condition of meeting a defined range of expectations. It may be viewed as the opposite of failure. The criteria for success depend on context and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system. Wikipedia
That gets the definition out of the way! Now let’s reflect on it.
“Meeting Expectations” often disappoints. “Cultivating expectancy” on the other hand raises a plethora of possibilities.
“Opposite of Failure” – well, in my humble opinion, failures have led me to experience greater understanding, a more comprehensive capacity for compassion, and a more profound place of contentment.
And it is thus that context and belief system cast their relativity. One person’s success can be another one’s perception of failure – and vice versa.
I have been known as a bibliophile. As a child “bookworm” might have been my middle name. When I retired I culled my library, disposing of hundreds of books. I also kept hundreds and am culling again – only to make room for more.
Reading has changed my life, but no book in particular – not even the sacred texts that might be expected of me as a pastor! After all, the materials which make books are merely paper and ink.
Behind each book, however, is an author with whom one can enter conversations – agreeing, arguing, wondering, questing conversations. This is what changes – even transforms us.
I am glad for the thousands with whom I have dialogued over the years and who continue to challenge me in transformative ways.
“Don’t brag about your ancestors; give your descendants something to be proud of.”
This was the sage advice on the back of a tram ticket when I began some tentative digging around in our family story. Genealogy was expensive and laborious back then, considered a bit of an oddity, an eccentricity. To build a paper trail that confirmed and authenticated our extended family narrative was beyond the resources of this impoverished theology student of the 1970s. A different cry now following the advent of ancestry.com and the rise of enthusiastic research by other family members who have even submitted DNA for testing to affirm ancient roots.
How far back can we go? Links to a well-known personage in our line take us back to Northumbria and the Domesday Book, which apparently records our earliest-known progenitor, Rodney the Rude (nothing to do with a certain contemporary and bawdy stand-up with a similar monicker!)
So there we have it – a line that includes, bishops, bankers, silk merchants, inventors, lord mayors, politicians and industrialists stands on the shoulders of Rodney the Rude!
Joy is a habit to be cultivated, in spite of its foreboding nature. I recently explored this phenomenon of reluctance to embrace joy and its fleeting nature due to the defence mechanism we employ to soften disappointment when it passes. It is also an aspect of yesterday’s reflection on “lost treasure” – the capacity to attend fully to the present moment in an awareness of an interconnected and purposeful universe.
So what Ode to Joy might I offer on this hot and sleepy summer’s day (the local indigenous season of Birak) in the outer suburbs of Perth, Western Australia?
Six senses of joy in this moment The caress of the desk fan cooling my skin The aftertaste of breakfast blueberries on my cereal The waft of Vicks clearing my sinuses The sight of an orderly mess on my desk, promising engagement with today’s projects The peaceful sound of silence from a nearby highway The instinct that “All is well, and all shall be well.”