Teaching an Old Dog, New Tricks

It has been almost two months since we lost our home in the fire that burned up our town, and our lives as we knew them. As odd as this might seem, even through 45 days of nightmares (I was slow to evacuate and saw the fire a little too close) and great sorrow for things that were lost and awareness that the future we had planned for will not be, I have experienced a deep sense of awakening, a sense of the beauty that lies in human nature, and a sense of belonging, not to just one place, but to all spaces and places.

This little living space we call home, for now, this trailer is so well designed, with so many interesting lines and corners and intersections, if I just really look at it, it seems like a universe in itself. Outside, I can sit in a chair with a blanket around me and watch Orion the Hunter rise from the easter horizon and eventually command the center of the sky. And, while watching this, I think to myself, “They say the universe continues to expand!” Comprehending that is beyond my intellectual abilities. However, from my heart, I can begin to understand what that means.

I continue to meditate daily, for a a few minutes and then I use the space that provides to quietly sit with God. I have even started viewing Jesus Christ in a different way-far from what I was taught as a child growing up.

I joined a health club and now can ride a stationery bike, at level 3, for 10 miles. A long time ago and many pounds ago, I used to ride in those 100 mile organized rides. I am thinking of buying a new bike to replace the burnt one, but not to ride for accomplishment – just to ride with joy. Plus, it really helps strengthen my damaged knees. Today I looked at a tennis racquet. The game of tennis is such a fascinating physical and mental game. Perhaps by spring I can go out and hit again. I used to hit thousands of balls to my daughters as they learned the game-and with fatherly pride I say, they became quite skilled at tennis.

I watched with great love as my son  and his wonderful wife demonstrated a great generosity of spirit in supporting all of us through the transition from home owners to homeless. I also saw, where thick bushes used to be, but now just burned ground, the place in front of our house where he and his friends had tossed some empty and quite potent alcohol bottles. My wife and I laughed. It feels good to acknowledge the failures of parenting when up against the teen spirit, for we too have tossed some bottles into bushes in our days. I am so thankful we all made it through that period in our lives. The man my son has grown to be is the greatest present a son can give his father.

Last year, my resolution included reading 20 books. This year, I only care about the enjoyment of reading – no more ‘accomplishment’ for me…. in anything or any way. I went fishing on the first day of the new year and I could care less if I caught a fish or not; it was just about being on the river under cold but beautiful skies.

Finally I have understood the need to be gentle with myself, since the fire. It is the first step in learning to be gentle with others. Speaking of others, so many readers of my blog have offered such heartwarming support. I never considered that possibility when I started blogging. Thank you.

It is so tempting and easy to say of a difficult person, in our lives, that “They will never change.” I have come to understand that that is not our call. Just love them, as difficult as that can be, and love is a powerful instrument of change. I know the love that I have experienced has changed me. Love can even teach an old dog, new tricks.

Big hugs for 2019.

January 1, 2019 on the Sacramento River, looking up at the. clouds and Mount Lassen in the background.