Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Place of Silent, Intense Peace

Yesterday I went into a local Repartee Gallery to drop off a picture to get framed. The contrast was amazing: outside was a busy parking lot with talkative groups headed into the surrounding restaurants; inside was a refuge where art students were silently focused on their drawings. It startled me to find about 8 people in there, sitting in various positions around the room, so I stopped for a second at the threshold and some of them glanced up at me. Down to my left was someone sitting on the floor rather than in a chair; it was Nicole, my neighbor. We said "hi," and she pointed out her mother, another one of my long-time neighbors. They were all sitting quietly, each person doing a pencil drawing of a green pepper. The atmosphere was remarkable: it was a large room with fine art filling the walls, where a group of people all sat in silence, every one intensely focused on their creations.

It reminded me of a temple, one where every attendee was applying their full power of concentration, working independently but on much the same task. The word "reverent" even came to mind.

After respecfully breaking their silence and finishing my business, I walked out... but I paused outside the door, where there was a small fountain in the shape of a man cradling a huge fish in both hands and pouring water out its mouth. I savored that grand feeling of peace for another few seconds before continuing the rest of my chores.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Copycatting and Cross-Examining

This year I started saying goodbye to my kids in the morning with, "Do something great today!" It's a small thing in the morning: I'm encouaging them to actively create their reality rather than passively hope good things will happen. I'm avoiding phrases like, "Have a good day."

Well, the other day I drove Ella and Tolman to school. They opened the doors to get out of the car, and before I could say anything Ella chimed "Do something great today!"

Ella has now asked me more than once when I get home, "What did you do great today?"

Heart Attack!

Tonight someone doorbell ditched us; at first I thought it was Olivia coming home, but she never opened the door, so I checked and nobody was there. So then I thought it was young women (maybe with Olivia in the car) since they were out doing something together tonight... I saw a waiting car, and two kids finally ran over to it. So I went inside, turned off the porch lights, and then hurried outside and started running to catch the car. One person was still on the side of the road, and they then ran and jumped into the car and yelled, "He's coming! Go!" They took off, so I reached out and I almost touched the car as they sped away.

It was kind of funny to chase after them, but then I thought I may have spoiled their fun a bit. I went back inside and Lynnette asked, "Did they leave any hearts?" Duh. It's Valentine's this Sunday, so they would be doing a "heart attack," and sure enough there were some paper hearts taped to our door. Great. Lynnette made me feel extra bad: I may have scared the kids.

About 10 minutes later, I got a call from Andy, asking: was I mad at Ammon for doorbell ditching us? Ha! No way! I thought it was funny, and they got away from me just barely without me finding out who it was. He said they thought I was mad about it, and even Boone (their adult driver) thought I might have been upset, especially when I reached out to slap the car. I kept reiterating how I really thought it was funny and I thought they did a great job.

Great. I'm intimidating the neighborhood kids.

A bit later, someone came to the door and rang the bell; I went out thinking again it was Olivia but it was actually the boys who ditched us earlier. I am glad; it gave us all a chance to laugh about the whole thing.

It feels great that they'd value and trust us enough to give us a heart attack; it's doubly cool for them to come back later, just to check back in person and make sure everything's cool.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Life Lesson in Financial Responsibility

A coworker just told us that he is staying in a suite for a while. I was confused for a minute, curious why he was so happy about it... usually people only go to a hotel when something goes very wrong with their home! It turns out that he lives in a hotel; he has to live in one for a while longer until he pays off his last major debt, and then he'll finally have the credit for something more stable, like an apartment.

He told us how he's been trying to get things paid off for a long time. When he was first out of school, he was excited to get a credit card and used it freely; if he was on a date and the girl wanted something, it was easy to give it to her. No problem. But he mentioned that it's taken a long time to get rid of that debt. I thought about some people I know who have got themselves into debt early but haven't invested in an education or any long-term plans, so that debt becomes a burden for years.

So my friend at work is finally getting on top of his finances. And that is inspiring. It's awesome to see someone making plans and following through, making their lives that much better.