A different kind of daytime television

If you’ve been saving for a bigger screen TV but haven’t quite managed it yet, this will make you feel better.

In May of 1948, General Electric (GE) advertised “the one and only kind of television you can enjoy in broad daylight.”

daylight-television1

Their ads promoted a television with a “super-big” screen─3 square feet—and they promised clear reception of all 13 American channels.

These days “daytime television” means soap operas, inane talk shows or re-runs of sit-coms. In 1948, daytime television meant a physical TV set with an image bright enough to see during daylight hours.

We take our big screens with clear colour pictures that we can see in any light for granted. Every once in a while it’s good to pause and acknowledge with gratitude the technology behind it all, and the people in our past who harnessed that technology to create something that has become so omnipresent in our lives.

Isn’t it a shame that all that marvelous technology gets used for such frivolous, and sometimes harmful, drivel? Don’t you wonder what the great minds of our television pioneers, John Baird, Kalman Tihanyi,  Leon Theremin and Philo Farnsworth would think about the potential of their technology being harnessed for such beauties as Sharknado, or Duck Dynasty, or 19 Kids and Counting, or—God help us all—Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?

I think they would throw their hands up in despair. I think that if they had known what was coming they would have drawn up legal contracts forbidding anyone with the name Kardashian from ever appearing on their screens.

I hope that they are—right now—plotting ways to come back to haunt the producers of Toddlers and Tiaras. 

As I write this, my words appear on a computer monitor with a screen larger than the one in the 1948 GE advertisement. Its picture is bright and clear and colourful. I take a moment for gratitude for this incredible technology and the pioneer minds of the people who invented it.

Tonight, I think I’ll go home and kiss my big-screen television in all its bright, clear glory.  And I won’t watch The Bachelorette. I respect the great minds of television pioneers far too much to do that.

Adult Eve

When I came downstairs this morning, I gave my son a hug and said, “This is this last morning I’ll get to give a child of mine a hug.” Tomorrow he turns 18, so my “children” will both be adults.

How the heck did that happen?

dock jump

The old saying, “The days go by like years, and the years go by like days” feels true to me today. Looking back, I remember some   re-e-e-a-a-l-l-y    lo-o-o-o-n-g   days of fevers or croup or endless building of Lego houses. Now, all those days stacked up one on top of another feel like a snap of the fingers. My youngest child was 20 inches long at birth, and he fit in the crook of my arm. Now he is 6′ 4″ and I fit under his arm.

On his Adult Eve, I celebrate the man that he is, even though I hold dear the baby, the toddler, the child, the teen he was.

He was the baby who would never accept a soother or a blanket for comfort; he wanted his mother or father. He was the toddler who climbed into our bed . . . every . . . single . . . night . . . for seven years. He was the child who skipped stones, who always drew an illustrated Christmas List, and who loved to play with BeyBlades and mini-hockey sticks.

ben-skipping-stones

He was the teen athlete who played every sport going, but especially baseball.

ben-learning

Bennett Smith RHP

On his Adult Eve, I know he feels himself all grown up and very independent. But I know better. In terms of numbers, he might be an adult, but he’ll always be a baby to me.

My son and I at a field named after one of my heroes.

My son and I at a field named after one of my heroes.

 

Gardening wisdom: How does your garden grow?

“Gardens, like lives, require choices. What will we let grow? What will we encourage? What needs cutting back because it’s growing too wildly and out of control? What’s crowding out what you really want in life?” —Rev. Sharon Moon

red-roseI listened to a reflection by Rev. Sharon Moon about spiritual wisdom gained in a garden.

It’s true, isn’t it? When we putter in our flower beds and dig in our dirt, we “plug in,” as she calls it, to a different energy level—a spirit channel, if you will.

At least some of us do. I enjoy my time in a garden and I do “plug in” to an infinite place, but I have many friends who regard gardening as a chore. But no matter whether a person loves or loathes a horticultural pursuit, the activities, complexities, the growth, the pruning and the death in gardens so closely mirrors our human existence that we can learn from them.

We learn to be ready for surprises: the flower you didn’t plant that suddenly appears or the tender sprouts you admire one day gone the next thanks to a hungry rabbit.

We learn that sometimes a plant needs to be moved to an area better suited to its needs.

We learn that when a long, cold winter buries treasures under snow, it is easy to forget the bounty we have.

We learn that weeds are inevitable, and that a garden left untended quickly becomes overgrown and filled up with “things that come in and just steal the energy from the life that you want to encourage.”

As Sharon Moon points out, a garden teaches us that pruning is a good thing—cutting out the dead wood that no longer serves a purpose. A garden teaches us to give of ourselves—generous perennial dividing and sharing for the good of both the plant and the recipient. A garden teaches us that “a material that has been allowed to die transforms into new growth.”

What is happening in your garden these days? Are you bursting with new growth? Do you have weeds that need careful pulling? Have you had a shock or trauma that requires you to take some fallow time? Do you need some support and attention from “the Gardener”?

How does your garden grow?

_________

Listen to her reflection here:

Gardening God

http://www.trinityunitedottawa.ca/reflections/gardening-god/

The inevitable weed

The inevitable weed

 

 

Number 1 or number 2, or maybe 3 or 4

It was an “I need a writing prompt” kind of day.

9780552772549I told myself to walk into my office, go to the second shelf of my bookcase and choose the second book from the left, page 142. The prompt brought me to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson’s memoir of childhood.

On page 142 he writes about school experiences, specifically teachers’ monitoring of bathroom requests:

“They [teachers] insisted on knowing strange things, which I found bewildering. If you wanted to go to the restroom, they wanted to know whether you intended to do Number 1 or Number 2, a curiosity that didn’t strike me as entirely healthy. Besides, these were not terms used in our house. In our house, you either went toity or had a BM (for bowel movement), but mostly you just ‘went to the bathroom’ and made no public declaration with regard to intent. So I hadn’t the faintest idea, the first time I requested permission to go, what the teacher meant when she asked me if I was going to do number one or number two.

‘Well, I don’t know,’ I replied frankly and in a clear voice. ‘I need to do a big BM. It could be as much as a three or a four.’

I got sent to the cloakroom for that.”

This story reminded me of bathroom episodes from my own childhood school years. I remember one girl who requested permission to go to the bathroom but was denied. A short time later, a trickle of urine spilled over the rim of her red plastic chair and dribbled into a pool around her sneakers; an unfortunate incident certain to create a traumatic childhood memory. Another boy had an even more, shall we say, explosive incident while waiting for permission to do what nature calls us to do.

My own first day of school involved a bathroom incident. I was a shy child, and before I started school people wondered how I would fare away from home and my family. I didn’t start school until Grade 1—there was no kindergarten in my area at the time—so I was old enough to remember all the talk and the first day well. I remember telling myself that I was going to be just fine, thank you very much. I would show them all.

Only one problem. It was a different time and place. I had no pre-school or kindergarten, so when I started school, I didn’t know how to read. At an inevitable point in the long day, I had to go to the bathroom. I bravely asked permission and went and stood in the hall and looked at two doors. Did I mention that it was a different time and place? There were no pictures on the two doors. Signs placed there clearly read “Girls” and “Boys,” but I couldn’t read! 

I stood there for some time debating what to do. I really needed to go, but what if I walked into the wrong one? I would have been mortified. Eventually I decided to try to wait it out. I returned to my classroom and sat down.

Some time later, my need became overwhelming, and tears began to roll down my face. At that exact moment, someone my family knew well walked down the hall and peeked in the classroom window. Word spread to all who knew me that I cried on my first day of school.

For want of a picture of a little girl on a bathroom door, I cried on my first day of school.

How many of us have similar childhood school bathroom memories? I’m guessing, a huge number.

I want the record to show that, other than my unfortunate overfull bladder, I was fine on my first day of school, thank you very much.

 

 

 

The ground and the seed

I ponder the parable of the seed scattered on good or poor ground. (See below.)

Like any respectable parable, it can be interpreted a number of ways. Perhaps we are the “farmer.” If so, we need to choose carefully where we spread our “seed”—our ideas, our time, our friendships. Don’t share ideas with an audience that won’t appreciate them, don’t waste time on pointless endeavours, and don’t choose friends who choke out your potential. Or perhaps God (the universe, nature, Yahweh, Allah, whatever) is the “farmer” and we are the “seed.” If so, some of us have a tougher time of it—through no fault of our own—just because of the environment where we are born. Others—lucky sods—happen to land on roomy, fertile ground.

But I wonder. Why do we always put the onus on the ground?

The poor ground is just being what it was created to be. The footpath doesn’t sprout seed, but it makes the going easy for the feet that tread upon it.

Georgian Bay rock

Georgian Bay rock – Beautiful and perfect in its own way.

The rocks of Georgian Bay near my cottage don’t welcome scattered seed—carrots would not sprout there, nor would lush lettuce leaves. But it has perfect nooks for evergreens and moss, and its granite craters pool water for birds to drink. It is not bad; it is beautiful and rugged, mineral-rich and solid. Best of all, it is not trying to be something it’s not, gripped with angst about why it can’t grow tomato plants like its cousin, the rich farmland.

sprouts

Sprouts in rich farmland – Beautiful and perfect in their own way.

And what about that loamy earth of a tilled field? How would moss manage there? The bright sunshine and the working of the soil would kill it. As judged by the moss, the rich, loamy soil of a southern Ontario tomato field would be “bad.”

Plants or soil aren’t really good or bad. They just have to match, that’s all—the right soil for the right plant.

People are like that too. Women of action sitting behind desks, or scholarly men digging ditches are like seeds scattered on the wrong ground.

They start to believe there’s something wrong with them. Their bosses air frustrations about their inadequacies. They believe they are deficient in some way. They tell themselves they need to change. All they need is the right ground.

Moss clings to the shady sides of rock, corn sprouts from the arable land: A plant for every kind of ground, and a ground for every kind of plant. All are beautiful in their own way.

They just have to match, that’s all.

_______________

Matthew 13:3-8

He [Jesus] told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

The spirituality of sports

Take a moment with me to pity sporting events. They get very little respect from those who spend their days contemplating spiritual matters. Meditation, journaling, dancing or yoga make the grade for spiritual enrichment, but not sports. The idea that a person might experience transcendence during a sporting activity? Well, that receives a dismissive sniff. All too often, sports get shunted aside as “fun-but-hardly-spiritual.”

Let’s consider:
Activity: A man walks in the woods and feels at one with the trees around him.
Perception: He experiences the “All is One” of spirit.

Activity: A baseball player gets “In the zone,” slows down the ball and goes 4 for 4 at the plate.
Perception: She is swinging a hot bat.

Activity: A meditator focuses on her breath and stays present.
Perception: She is practising mindfulness and living the power of now.

Activity: A hockey goalie stays in the moment and performs well under the intense pressure of Game 7 of a Stanley Cup final.
Perception: He is mentally strong.

Activity: A dancer experiences transcendence induced by the music rhythm.
Perception: She is at one with God.

Activity: A tennis player experiences transcendence induced by the movement rhythm.
Perception: He maintains his focus.

Too bad. Athletes might not use the words “spirit” or “God” when participating in their sports, but they share similar experiences, and they reap the same benefits of those who do. Sports teach us about the human condition, relieve stress and depression, and awaken us to the message of life.

According to Psychology Today, Everyday Health and The Huffington Post, these are the benefits of spirituality. I put a check mark beside them for sports too.

  • Provides clarity and cultivates awareness (√ Check)
  • Lifts mood and prevents depression (√ Check)
  • Creates steadiness and grounding (√ Check)
  • Helps you see the big picture of life (√ Check)
  • Puts you in touch with your inner self (√ Check)
  • Keeps you in the moment (√ Check)
  • Gives “the assurance of practice being there for you at all times” (√ Check)
  • Boosts health and well-being (√ Check)
  • Restores a sense of purpose and boosts self-esteem (√ Check)
  • Relieves stress (√ Check)
  • Connects people with others (√ Check)
  • Promotes self-actualization (√ Check)
  • Builds lasting memories (√ Check)
  • Encourages participants to let go of the ego (√ Check)

Sports give us heroes that transcend the game: Lou Gehrig. Sports advance social change: Jackie Robinson. Sports shine a spotlight on big societal problems: When the Baltimore Orioles played to an empty stadium, it was a siren warning. “Something is seriously wrong, and something needs to change.”

From pick-up hockey games on frozen backyard rinks to the Olympic podium, sports teach us about life.

We learn:

  • You can be an instant hero and fall flat in the same game.
  • There are rules, and with good reason.
  • You can be the very best at something, and still lose.
  • Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is a millimetre or a hundredth of a second.
  • You can’t win them all.
  • Some days things work, and some days they don’t.
  • Things don’t always balance out.
  • On any given day, anything can happen.
  • You can make mistakes and still come back.
  • You need patience and endurance.
  • It humbles you. You never stop learning.
  • You cry, you get frustrated, and you celebrate.
  • You play it one day at a time.
  • “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” —Yogi Berra

Here’s a timely quote from a well-known athlete: “I always felt that my greatest asset was not my physical ability; it was my mental ability.” —Bruce Jenner.

Social change in action.

“The five Ss of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit.” —Ken Doherty
The spirit of skiing

The spirit of skiing

 

 

 

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