Easter Eggs

There are these little pieces of code or images or popup surprises that sometimes lurk in the nether regions of a computer program or DVD or computer game. If you are not aware of them, or do not know to look for them, you may never see them. The programmers that put them there know they are there and they are happy just knowing that, whether you ever find them or not. It’s like an inside joke for geeks. Sometimes the benevolent geeks leave little direct or indirect clues to help you get at these surprises, and what fun that is when you get there! Sometimes you are on your own and may never find them. You still enjoy the game, but not the secret.

These little hidden jewels are called Easter eggs.

Now, you may be celebrating the Easter holiday today or you may not be. That’s your thing, not mine. Easter, the religious holiday, is about atonement, redemption, dying to the old and arising again to start anew. A religious reset button for the game of life, if you will allow me to extend the metaphor.

Children all over have been furiously hunting for Easter eggs, getting baskets full of pink plastic straw and chocolate bunnies wrapped in golden foil and jelly beans galore. It’s a serious religious holiday, more impactful than Christmas if you are a believer, as commercial as Halloween if you are not.

What I want you to think about are those hidden Easter eggs. Not in the grass behind the shed. Not in the computer game that came in the colorful DVD package.

The Easter eggs that are hidden in our daily lives.

I got home about one AM this morning after a long telepsychiatry shift. As I walked into the downstairs bedroom and deposited my stuff and got ready for sleep, I could see that my wife had left a little card on the bed where I usually shed my clothes. It was a little German card, with bunnies wearing golden crowns and Happy Easter Holidays in German on the front. A sweet note graced the inside.

I (and one of the nurses who works with me) got another unexpected card at work the other day from the sister of a long time patient whom we had helped to secure and maintain her United States citizenship. It was sweet, heartfelt and expressed the kind of thanks that does not have to be documented formally but that warms your heart and makes you feel good pretty much forever after you get it. We had done only a little for her, but she was so grateful to us.

I got a phone call the other day, right out of the blue, with good news that was as unexpected as it was wonderful.

Easter eggs.

They are hidden everywhere. No, you don’t have to look for them or even see them at all. Your life can be rich and rewarding without them. You can live your life, be happy and be quite comfortable never having seen one.

But that day that one of those little surprises pops into your life, unexpected, refreshing, wonderful, can be one of the best days you’ve ever had, maybe one of many best days if you become more attuned to the hidden mysteries that surround you.

I hope you enjoy your Easter holiday if you celebrate. Even if you don’t, I hope that as spring settles in and stays with us that you will pay attention, look for the clues that the Programmer puts in your path, and that every once in a while an Easter egg will provide you with that true, unbridled joy that makes this life worth living.

 

The Dash

Okay, so news flash.

We will all die.

Some sooner; some later.

This is always brought home to me when someone famous or notorious or personally connected to me or my family passes on.

But wait! This is not a sad post.

What do we do in the meantime? What do we do “with the dash”, the time allotted to us between the birthday and the date of death that will one day be inscribed on a headstone or crypt plaque or other signage for each and every one of us.

  1. Embrace every single day. Get up in the morning ready to live. Physically grab the twenty four hours ahead of you. Look at them as a palette of new paints, a dictionary full of words not yet used, a long list of notes that only need organization to make a symphony.
  2. Do something fun. Life is hard, it’s messy, it’s tricky, but there is a lot of joy out there. So many of us have lost the capacity to go after it, find it, search for it, feel it. Paint a picture. Ride a bike. Eat an ice cream cone.
  3. Simplify. Cut out the unnecessary, the trivial, the time wasters and the attention grabbers. Put the phone down and kiss your sweetheart like you mean it. Talk, Learn. Relate. Experience. Do one thing at a time.
  4. Make a difference in someone else’s life. Give money. Bake a cake. Give your time. Listen. No, you cannot change the whole world, but you can damn sure change the life of the person sitting right there in front of you, begging for your undivided attention.
  5. Stop worrying! Go back to sentence number two of this blog post. Things will happen when they happen. Some of them will be bad. The truth? You can’t make a single thing happen by worrying about it. It’s wasted effort, it’s wasted energy, and it’s just not productive. Clear your heart and your head for Number 1-4 above.

Have a great day!

Joy

I guess there are just times that you have to write about joy, you know?

It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States (yes, I have at least two other readers in foreign lands, count ’em, I do indeed, so they may not get all this turkey and cranberry stuff), and that means giving thanks for the people and the things in our lives that make us truly grateful. Now, I’m not one of the sentimental mushy types who will throw a bunch of fluff at you and see how many times I can make you cry. That’s not my style.

However, after this weekend of food, friends, family, football, and all other manner of things that go fffft as you say them, I simply must thank the Universe and God as I understand him for the abundant joy in my life. Sometimes, stubborn as I am, I don’t let myself see it and experience it fully, but that’s my problem to sort out, not yours.

In the meantime, I am very thankful for:

Food to eat, a warm bed to sleep in, and worthwhile work to do.

Family who love me no matter how many times I disappoint them. My grandkids have that special gift of lighting up like Christmas trees, smiling and running to me every time I come to their front door. That feeling is like no other in the world.

Old friends who are there even when I neglect them, give me honest advice and feedback when I ask for it, a listening ear when I need it, and the promise to help me re-engage with my own life at the pace I need to do so.

New friends who are as dear as old ones, who challenge me, call me on my BS, and love me unconditionally even after they know about some of my worst flaws.

The warm, comfortable glow of tradition, music, liturgy, and ceremony. Without these, our institutions would not stand the test of time, and we would be poorer for that fact.

Like many of you, I will have a short work week. I look forward to the holiday and being with my family. I look forward to slowing down, even for a few short hours.

I look forward to reconnecting with joy.

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A Pony Tail

I gunned the throttle, paddle-shifting my way off the two lane and onto the four lane that would take me to I-20 and then home. 

Not a hundred yards down the road, as I settled into sixth gear and the sweet hum of a new engine eager to cruise, I looked off to my left and saw a swirling cloud of brown dust, rising upwards in that haphazard way that is usually driven by man and machine rather than wind or storm. I hit sixty, set the cruise control, and waited to come over the little rise that obscured the architect of the dust devil. Then I saw her.

She was in her twenties if that, tanned and wearing jean shorts and a t-shirt, sunglasses against the early afternoon glare and a set of white earbuds trailing their thin cord down into her pocket. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail that could only be described as dancing. She sat astride a green John Deere lawn tractor that was jumping and bumping its way over a patch of what we in the Southland call a “yard”, but which is actually a wide patch of dry, red Georgia clay with little areas of green that pass for grass but are really ornamental weeds. Nothing unusual about cutting the grass on a tractor that could make a half-dozen passes on that size tract and call it done. Nothing at all. That was not what struck me.

She was singing at the top of her lungs. I mean singing, belting out some tune that made me wish I had a hundred-yard white cord running from a splitter that would let me in on what she was listening to. She yanked the wheel of the tractor this way and that, her head snapping at the end of her neck like white sheets on a clothesline on a windy spring day. I smiled, an involuntary reaction to such unbridled joy, seen visually for only a few seconds as I raced past her, but conjuring up pure emotion in my brain and in my heart. 

Maybe I was just primed for that little glimpse of happiness. Maybe I needed it, was looking for it, seeking it out on the side of the road. Maybe it just happened to be there, and nothing less.

I don’t know.

I do know this.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

If you know you only have a certain amount of time left here, make that the best time you’ve ever spent on earth.

When you get the chance to have an experience, have that experience as fully and wonderfully and intensely as you possibly can.

If you have to crank up the tractor and cut the yard in a cloud of swirling red Georgia clay on a fine spring Sunday afternoon, then put the earbuds in, fire up the music you love the best, and sing out loud with it as lustily as you can, swinging ponytail and all.

You never know, my friends, who might be driving down the highway and how much you will make them smile.

 

Have a good week.