Monday, May 19, 2008

Tuesdays With Sorry

Dear Children:

This blog has been way too much fun. Even though some of our more waggish readers have dubbed the submissions “Poor Poppy’s Almanac”, it’s been fun. Now, as I’m confident that we’ll really get to 160lbs, it looks like the character (if not the content) of the diary will have to change. When I do get to the magic One Six Oh, I’ll be sure to crow loud and long. No one will miss that event if shameless self-promotion still works. It will be a great day if for no other reason than the decibel level of the personally blown horn.

Just so you know, the 170lbs weigh-in occurred last Tuesday. I always weigh the least on Tuesdays. Go figure. Saturday I weighed in at 170.5.

So, as we cast about for a compelling conceit for the blog, some themes come to mind. They all have the charm of being sufficiently self-absorbed to keep me on task, but lack a high-minded way of enlisting the wider world to a noble goal. After all, obesity is quite a toney subject these days and matches the drumbeat of every do-gooder in sight. Fat is bad. Lean is good. Health is splendid. Dissipation is flagrant. Discipline is laudable. Negligence is willful.

There is one thing we all share. Not everyone can scratch that common itch, but because we all have it, there may be a way of spinning some themes it suggests. That impulse is art.

Think about it. You have heard people say that they wished they could play the piano or draw from life. Hordes show up at concerts to sop up the talent of others. We buy CDs, movies and pictures. We read for the delight of it. Which of us hasn’t craved a talent or a unique ability. It truly is universal to create yet we sell ourselves short with the pretext that we were not blessed with a gift that is valued.

Therefore, if we accept the idea that a creation urge is universal, we are obliged to gratify that urge. We need not be concerned for whether the product is valued. Who cares if you have the urge to sing and the song you choose isn’t fashionable. You have done your job, a job for which God has fitted you. We make far too little of longings and far too much of praise.

I love houseplants and I love to plant them in unusual containers. Terrariums are a particular favorite. I love the feel of wood and the shapes it can take. So far, there has not been a path beaten to my door for the want of the objects that result, but the satisfaction in their creation has been uplifting.

Maybe I can share some of the stirrings of satisfaction with you. While there is no wish for you to replicate or admire my work, there might be a way for you to replicate the joy I feel as you are encouraged to create for yourself.

On the Ipod Saturday was The Jordonairs, a Gospel group. It features an anchoring bass by the name of J. D. Salman. He’s dead now, but I bet you’ve heard his voice. Elvis Presley on the most popular Gospel album of all time records him. Elvis used a back up group called The Stamps. And, as luck would have it, I met a classmate from nearly five decades ago who knew JD and sang on the same stage. I’m looking forward to learning more about the history of Gospel music from him.

Much Love,


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Within A Stone's Throw

Dear Children:

The previous post – the one called John Phillip Snooza – has generated a lot of comment outside the blog. Mostly people are exploring the difference between quality decision-making and the idea of virtue. Let me explain:

We don’t talk much about virtue these days. The expression of a virtue, say thrift, lends itself to belittling, silly logical extensions and cliché. We don’t talk about thrift because it’s easy to substitute the word cheap. We don’t talk about industry for fear of being thought a plugger. Chastity has become another word for prudish. Humility is short for wimpy. Only suckers are charitable. You get the idea.

What we have these days are core values. Each of us has a set of core values. My core values are just as genuine and justifiable as yours. Your core values, in turn, may be wildly different from each of your acquaintances. It’s bad form to question anyone’s right to his or her core values. That’s the difference between virtues and core values. Virtues are shared definable ideals and core values are individual and needn’t be expressed.

This is the point at which persons of an older certain age begin to sigh and those of a younger certain age shrug. I don’t care.

Decisions, the helpful kind and the destructive kind, issue from bedrock belief. You can be confident that a person who treats you shabbily is likely to treat others the same. Expressions of generosity are almost never a hit-or-miss proposition. Caution is hardly accidental. Intemperance is predictable.

Ask yourself: when it comes to things that count, what counts with you? We all have beliefs even if we don’t want them. We cannot hold beliefs secretly because decisions reflect beliefs clearly and consistently.

Oh, on the off chance you were wondering about people who appear inconsistent, don’t be fooled. Those are people who believe in moral plasticity. If you see one, make the sharpest turn possible and run for your life.

It’s also time to report on weight loss. This morning I weighed 170 lbs. That’s thirty pounds since the first week in February and the lightest I’ve been since Lent 1984. We may be within striking distance of the 160 lbs goal.

The next post will discuss what will happen should I ever get to One Sixty as well as other stuff I’ve been pursuing lately. See the picture clue.

Much Love,