short, sweet, and to-the-point — by Keith Elder

Archive for the tag “joy”

Modes and Mortals

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks.  Reason?  I’m working on a new CD project and my brain has been in a different room—literally and figuratively.  I write in one room and record in another.  Can’t be two places at once—physically, mentally or emotionally.  And that’s not a bad thing.

The recording process involves lots of numbers, meters, mixes and cables—and countless decisions, great and small.  Even the playing and singing are different in record mode.  It has to be just so, because once mastered and replicated, it is what it is.  The artist mode can generally be summed up in a phrase, “going with the flow.”

One day I asked acclaimed Alabama artist, Sarah Towery Carlisle, how she approached a new painting.  Wizened by experience and years, she said that her way was to sit down in front of the blank canvas with pallet and brushes–and  just begin painting.  Over time, she would paint and watch as the subject emerged.

Call them “modes”…capacities…rooms in our house of life.  We all have many. Role-wise, we are friend, spouse, parent, employee, teammate, student, etc.  Capacity-wise, we are thinker, feeler, judge, responder, reactor, talker, listener, etc.   I’m sure you could create your own lists.

Sometimes I feel guilty or inadequate because I can’t be all things to all people all the time.  Welcome to mortality. We have only so many minutes.  We can only be in one place at a time.  We can only listen—really listen—to one person at a time… read one book at a time… etc.

I love the words of Achilles (Brad Pitt) to Briseis, in the epic movie “Troy”.

“I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

Friend, do what you are doing now.  Do it the best you can. Enjoy the ride.  Tomorrow, if you are lucky, you will be in another mode and get to do something else.

Keith   2/04/2012


Something to Celebrate

So, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl last night.  Must have been destiny because they already had purple and gold loaded into the confetti cannons.  Fans were dancing in their seats.  Team owners and coaches and enormous, tatooed football players were hugging and crying and planning trips to Disney World. Electricians were just glad the lights didn’t go out…again.  Definitely something to celebrate.

I saw a facebook post amid the flurry of Super Bowl posts.  “The tumor was benign—Praise the Lord!”   Sort of put things into perspective.

“Juxtaposition” (one of my few two-dollar words), means to place two things side by side—usually, two very different things.  It makes both stand out   “Super Bowl victory” vs. “benign tumor.” Hmmm.

(My other two-dollar word would be “disingenuous”—but I could never use it without being disingenuous.)

Joe got home from Afghanistan. The new medication really helps with Dad’s arthritis.  It’s a girl after three boys!  It’s a boy after three girls!  The house was destroyed by the storm, but no one was hurt.  After two years without work, he finally got a great new job with benefits.

Something to celebrate.

“I finally got a cut with a major artist,” the new songwriter said proud-humbly.  I heard one established writer deadpan, “I’ve had several cuts—and a few nasty gashes.”  (Songwriters will particularly get this—when someone records your song…badly. Arghh!)

“’What day is it?’ asked Pooh.

‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet.

‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.”

Dr. Robert Schuller used to open his Crystal Cathedral telecasts exuberantly with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 

Something to celebrate–this day.  Another day to kiss your spouse and hug your kids!  Another day to walk or read or create something with your own two hands! Another day to call your Mom or Dad…or enjoy a cup of your favorite coffee…or sit on the deck and feel the ocean breeze.   Been struggling?  For you (pardon the cliche, but it’s true), this is the first day of the rest of your life.

Something to celebrate!

So, what’s yours?

Keith   2/04/2012

“Life’s too short to spend it ________.”

“City slicker”/mid-life crisis guy, Mitch (Billy Crystal) had to figure out his “one thing”.  (Remember leathery, real cowboy, Curly, giving Mets-cap-Mitchie life advice?…holding up that one index finger?)  Mitch was unhappy.  Unhappy at work, at home, at his kid’s school career day, wherever. The whole cattle drive adventure with his buddies was just one more attempt to jumpstart his heart.  But riding and roping weren’t going to do it.  Before Mitch would find his happy face again, he would have to figure out his one thing—that is, what was most important to him.

There are various ways to approach eating this elephant—some positive (What do you want to be when you grow up?) and some negative (What are you NOT good at?).

The go-to scripture reading at many weddings is First Corinthians 13—a.k.a., the love chapter (Imagine Barry White saying, in his deep mellow tones, “the Luv Chapter”—very cool.)  The Apostle Paul, was back-and-forth with the negative-positive approaches, as he tried to help people grasp the concept. After a couple of positives, “Love is patient and kind,” he launches into the negatives, “…love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude…” etc.  Of course, he gets back to the positives, but knowing what love is not is helpful.

This little blurb is one of those negative-on-the-way-to-positive exercises.  Of course, it’s shared in the name of helping you find–or, perhaps, just helping you fine-tune your happy face.  It’s fill-in-the-blank.

Life’s too short to spend it ______________.

Of course, I have a few thoughts.  Life’s too short to spend it mad  (I know, “Dogs are mad; people are angry.”)  Life’s too short to spend it pretending.  Life’s too short to spend it with a pain that can be repaired (not talking about spouses, here—just the bum knee, the lack of education, etc.). Life’s too short to spend it watching TV.  Life’s too short to spend it trying to eat, drink, or entertain your way to happiness.

Your turn now—and you may have several as well.

Life’s too short to spend it ______________.

So, why do we? 

Keith Elder  1/30/12

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