Walking, losing weight and taking photos of life in Virginia.

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Central Virginia Trailblazers / One Year Anniversary

Let me plunge into a wandering post. It is time. I’ve not been posting much because there has been so much activity in these warm days of May and June. But let’s try to catch up. First, there was the problem with hiking those extra miles and dragging oneself to the finish line. We did some boulder climbing on Old Rag Mountain a week ago and I really didn’t think I would be able to get OFF the mountain after reaching the top. But it’s all about hydration. That seems to be the problem. Someone recommending drinking extra water for several days before the hike. And then you should always read the directions regarding the number of Nunn tablets to put in your water! I was only using 50 percent of the recommended amount. Why? Because, as I have said before, I am an idiot.

But, unless you make at least one mistake PER day, you are not really trying. And so, because I’m an unrepentant and incurable optimist, we will try again. So what else is happening? Well, I am actually enjoying my hiking companions more and more these days. My heart is opening up to these folks who are trying to have adventures in the wild while they are working jobs, raising children and dealing with all the garbage our government is sending their way. Last weekend was my one year anniversary in the Central Virginia Trailblazer group and around this time I realized that I really cared about these smelly guys and girls.

We hike in all kinds of weather. Sometimes it’s very hot and we are soaked with our own sweat. Sometimes we bleed. One of our own was bitten by a tick and came down with Lyme’s Disease. We pray for his complete recovery. Soon! But there are beautiful moments as well and beautiful people too. Some of the women make me feel thirty years younger when they smile or laugh. But then I watch the young men with their strength and good looks take them away. And I remind myself that I have been there and done these things. Perhaps I should watch the sun as it sets while the clouds glow. And take a photo.

I recently took one photo on a kayaking trip that pretty much sums up my love for these adventures and the people who make them possible. Here it is. . .
a kayaker at caledon state park

 

I’m not sure I can express the subtle emotions that accompanied this evening on the Potomac River. It was about the peaceful breezes and beauty around us. There was one cloud on the horizon and it worked in perfect concert with the setting sun. I felt that if life brought me to this point there must be some benevolent power behind it. Riding home, alone in my car with Cousin Brucey and the 60’s on 6, the GPS lady telling me what to do and the cruise control on 55 I tried to sort it all out. And, only because I’ve been down so many roads was I able to make sense of it. It’s all about the setting sun and moments in time. Don’t grasp at things. And I remembered a quote I often read as a young man. It bothered me then. I couldn’t accept it.

Now I can accept it.
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the wingèd life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

~William Blake

Walking, Losing Weight And Going Up The Mountain

This post is aimed at those of you who would like to be a little healthier, feel better, lose weight and enjoy life more. Here is a simple idea about how to do these things. But, first of all please let me just say that I don’t feel comfortable in the role of a cheerleader. I like to blend into the background for the most part. And it’s true that for most of sixty years I avoided doing anything like what I’m suggesting here. I was this person not long ago . . .

 
 
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Not a comfortable place to be . . .

So here’s the deal. A suggestion. Try walking five or six days a week. I know you are busy but let’s just say you start walking for 30 minutes and you walk a mile. The distance is not really important. But it is very important to do it on a regular basis and establish a habit. I cannot express how important it is to make this a regular occurrence. When your mind says “I can’t do this today” you must shut it down. Buy a techie rain jacket and go out when the weather is not good. Use fleece layers in the winter underneath it. The trick is to make this an automatic behavior, like brushing your teeth or going to the refrigerator when you are hungry. Because the good news is that you will be able to go to the refrigerator and feel good about it. You will still lose weight and be healthier.

Because . . . a strange thing happens when you are out there walking that little mile, using up just 30 minutes and listening to your favorite music. You will inevitably want to walk more. You will challenge yourself to rev it up once you start to see results. You will feel like testing your abilities. Sooner or later, you will be running in local races or hiking nearby hills or mountains.

That’s just the way it is . . .

Here I am testing a bit of food from a bush or something. Our guide on this Trailblazer event was sharing with us the medicinal uses of some common plants at a local state park. It’s pretty good, actually. See the techie jacket? It was raining on this day. Did I care? Not much. Wearing a jacket like this one is a lot like wearing nothing at all. They breathe. They shelter from the cold wind. A good jacket is your friend.

 

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Here we are on a local hike downtown. I would suggest looking for a local Meetup group once you have established a routine. Not all your walks have to be solitary (not that this matters). I must admit that I was enjoying this moment.  There’s my favorite beer truck.  And I can drink some beer at this watering hole without gaining weight or overdoing it.  I’m such an idiot.  Betsy has been very supportive and I love her dearly because she trusts me to have a good time but not get myself into trouble. Trouble, you say? What trouble? Here’s a photo I took at The Museum of Fine Arts In Richmond.

 

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This kind of trouble.

 

Listen, guys and girls. We are all evolving physically, mentally and spiritually as we go along the road. That’s why we are here. When I walk along those mountain paths I enjoy looking out over the crevasses at the huge expanses of trees and clouds. Nature is beautiful. But you have to respect its power as well and not play around the cliffs. Whenever I start to think “Oh, you are doing great!” I inevitably end up on my knees. Usually it’s when I try to climb a 2500 foot mountain trail with a thirty pound pack in the snow. But, it could be something else. So, as I was saying earlier, focus on the basic goal. Walk every day. Take a day off when you are sure you won’t use it to slide back. I had one cold this past winter. It lasted for three days. I walked when I had a cold. I walk when I’m feeling depressed. Inevitably things seem not so bad after the walk. When I absolutely don’t want to walk I go back to a baseline effort. And that is not the couch. It’s four or five miles, no running, just wandering about feeling sorry for myself. But it could be that simple mile in thirty minutes for you.

 

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Like I said I feel a little uncomfortable writing this post. I always wonder about people who do this for a living. But maybe it will help someone. And now it’s time to go walk and stop worrying about how I may “come off” to readers. I’m a work in progress, or, a piece of work, according to my wife. Bless her. Marriage is like a base camp in the shadow of the mountain. You always want to have one where you can relax and be yourself.

Thanks to my Trailblazer friends for some of these photos!

My Run For Vice President In 2016 / Jump On Board Now!

 

I’m thinking about running for VP in 2016. Why not, you may ask, run for President, since you are obviously living in fantasy land. One’s as good as the other and most folks, in your situation, would run for the Big Prize. Well, the answer to that question is very simple. I don’t want to do any work. I’m already retired and have some things to do every day. Adding to the list would be stressful. But (!) an occasional trip to DC and a ride, once in awhile, on Air Force One (the VP does get to do this, right?) would be fine. I could make a speech every so often at least as cogent as the present occupier of the office. And I wouldn’t be causing any scenes, touching folks, and spreading germs. So that could be a plus.

Here’s how we are going to do it (because I’m counting on YOUR support). First, we need an issue and I’ve actually been writing about one here, on this blog, recently. The debt crisis. How do we solve it. Well, I’ve found two interesting articles. The first is by Thomas Sowell writing for Townhall.com entitled Fiscal Cliff Notes: Part II. 

And the second is by Stephen Herrington writing for Huffingtonpost.com entitled Conservative Myth Busting: Lowering Taxes Raises Government Revenue .

They are diametrically apposed in their ideas about solving the debt crisis and taxes. Today that issue is identified as the Fiscal Cliff although this term will probably be a distant or non-existent memory by the time you read this. What WE need to do is discover who is right! Because economics should be more like science, dammit! They don’t send up the space shuttle each time based on this kind of information!

Once we have the answer to our problem, we need to make sure, EVERYONE knows what-the-hell it is! Because I’m tired, and so are you (probably) of hearing about this every day. We can proceed, in other words, and make sure the word gets out. We do have, unfortunately, once small problem.

It’s called Global Warming. It has come to my attention that there are folks out there who do not feel our fiscal situation and 16 trillion dollars of debt is the primary issue facing our country. They feel the the level of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are more important! And one party is not paying enough attention to the fact we may drown (as a nation) while trying to figure out our fiscal mess. In fact, many of them feel it would be helpful if our economy collapses! This would cause many of us to be unable to drive our cars and cut down on smog. Among other things.  We need science once again!  And not the creepy made-up stuff!

So, as you can probably see (if you are still paying attention) these two issues are interrelated! And we need to sort them out before we can come up with solution (duh!). Once we have done this we can press forward. We can let the world know what needs to be done. There are many other issues, of course. And I, as a VP candidate in 2016 will have no position on any of them. Let the states sort them out. Let the Supreme Court have a stab at it. And I’m sure the military can stand up for themselves.

If we can solve the debt issue and make sure we don’t all get waterlogged in the process we will have done our part! And I, as your presumptive candidate for the second highest office in the land will be more than ready to take a few victory laps.

Next time, we will need to discuss who will be President and put our policies in place. She (or he) must be trustworthy, of course. So it shouldn’t be difficult getting down to the short list. And since we will probably have 50 million supporters by this time next year, I feel confident we will be able to find someone.

So, it’s time to go to work on these two articles. I’m looking forward to your comments. And, if they are really impressive, who knows? There may be a cabinet appointment in it for you!

 

 

Voicemail Accident Hilarious / Laughter IS The Best Medicine!

This Youtube video is just a laugh riot. The guy is leaving a phone message as he witnesses several old ladies in action. And he has a great laugh.

Alright, maybe it’s not real. I’m not sure. He could be staging the whole thing. But he still has a great laugh. What do you think?

 
 

Robert Thurman / Buddhist Thought / The Path To Greater Realization

Robert Thurman is a funny guy and very smart, too.  He’s on my Ipod talking at great length about the Tibetan Book Of The Dead.  Here’s a joke he tells that he finds hilarious.  “Why does it take so many sperm to impregnate the egg?”

“None of them will ask for directions.”  Pretty good.  Probably an old joke but I don’t remember ever hearing it.  Certainly my Dad didn’t mention it in The Talk we had many years ago.  Although I wish he had and hope my son reads this and will, someday, pass it on to my grandson.  An icebreaker.  Be cool, Dad.

Does the name Thurman ring any bells with you?  Well, it should!  Can any of us forget the bathtub scene with Uma (his daughter) or Kill Bill (not Bob).  Robert married the Swedish Beauty,  Nena von Schlebrugge, years ago.  Nena used to be married to Timothy Leary.  I shared this information with my wife today since Uma’s Dad is my new best friend during my walks (Audible.com  Liberation Upon Hearing In The Between.  Robert Thurman).  She may have rolled her eyes.  I need to see better but at the moment bright lights are causing me some difficulty because I’m giving up the pain medication I am prescribed for RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome).  Pain medications do help but they have very annoying side effects.  They amplify pain and other bodily miseries (itching, for example  and I have patches of eczema that are very distracting).  I could with some justification float around on a cloud all day but I choose to avoid this false reality and the increasing dosages necessary to avoid the “coming down”.

Besides, I’m in good shape now and don’t mind these daily wrestling matches with the body and it’s charming surprises.  But when your eyebrows cause you pain you have a serious problem.  Just saying.

Back to Robert Thurman.  He brings a poetic imagination to the table and builds visions that inspire, for instance.  New York City.  A large apartment building on a weekend evening.  How many people inside are “getting it on”?  Unborn souls are swirling around and being attracted to certain couples engaged in the tangle.  Each is identifying with a certain man or woman and “dive in” to the aforementioned struggle, not asking directions, but becoming an unborn child (male or female depending on  their focus), if they manage to reach the front of the line.  Sometimes it’s a tie (twins)!  His riff on the Oedipal connections at this moment are intriguing.  Lust will find a way, it seems, and we see why souls are drawn back into this world.  I’ve wondering for awhile why anyone would come back to this place.  Reincarnation always seemed a forced procedure but after listening to his description of romance on the East River I can sort of see why it happens.

While I walk the miles.  I’m not a Buddhist but much of what he says makes sense to me.  I was raised a Methodist in the sheltering arms of my parents and my most memorable experience there was “a first kiss” in the choir loft on an evening before we were discovered by the choir director (not a happy man).  It was a group meeting so the recriminations afterwards were diluted due to our sheer numbers.  Ah, church youth groups in the late 50’s and early 60’s were such fun.

Later I was a Baptist after an ill-fated decision to marry (Yours, Mine, Ours) in the Brady Bunch tradition.  I hope it was good in some ways for the kids because it was the Trip To Hell for me.  I stuck it out for 14 years but as you can probably tell I’m not the traditional kind of guy and the finest memories I have of this period were the communal meals with home fried chicken.  Jesus is real and I kept that in mind as I went down the road with someone who was interested only in support of one kind or another.  And still is, today.

The love of my (spiritual) life is Paramahansa Yogananda who arose in the Hindu tradition.  Robert says some interesting things about how the Hindu and Buddhist religions had a parting of the ways in India.  He notes that there are fierce Hindu deities who resemble  Buddhist deities and so forth.  Did you know that if you encounter one of these terrifying-looking forms (you can often find renditions of them in local museums like our own Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, by the way)  you should embrace them!  Don’t be afraid!  They are your protection in the unconscious mind where the great horrors of mankind (Hitler, for example!) reside.  So my guru, Paramahansa Yogandanda, has been with me since I discovered his autobiography on a book table, while in college.  I don’t associate him with kissing or fried chicken.  He has gotten me this far and through all of that.

And so my path continues as I walk every day and try to (gradually) improve.  The inner light calls me although I will admit, at this moment, the gross light of day is difficult.  I understand that life is fierce and lustful, at times, and it will lead you astray.  But I’m also confident that we can find our way.  I’m most grateful to have found a loving and supportive partner, my wife, Elizabeth, who is a gift from God and someone who enables me to reach beyond our mechanical world with it’s failing traditions.  “Betsy” is known to many as a source of strength and love.  I will call her Elizabeth, here, because it is a majestic name and were we to see her as she really is, we would see a spirit of such stature we would be in awe of the light she casts about this frightful (at times) place.

And to sum up, regarding Robert Thurman.  Once, long ago, he was apparently trying to jack up his car when the stupid thing snapped and shattered his face, causing him to lose an eye.  At that time he seemingly was a traditional guy, but after this happened, he gave up his marriage and traveled abroad, becoming the first American Buddhist monk of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  He studied with the 14th Dalai Lama who became a close friend, and then returned to the U.S. in 1967 where he met his German-Swedish model and gave up his vows to pursue the life of the ordinary man.

Thus, we have Uma, her siblings and so many other things including some great lectures that one can enjoy while walking and trying to do better.  Yesterday, after I gave up the prescription pain medication and walked, I was lying in bed listening to the following music and doing some breathing exercises.  Suddenly, I was filled with a blissful light and energy that made it clear this was the right path.  This is the way.  Thank you for listening.  Have a perfect day.

 
 

 

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