Contemplations from the Marianas Trench

Contemplations
from the Marianas Trench

The Contemplations Continue.....

























Paradigms


For those of you without a multimedia dictionary the word is para-dime, not para-dig-uhm. The word is my favorite, and not just because of its eccentric and obtuse spelling. Some time ago a friend explained the principle of paradigm shifting. It was a moment of satori - a sudden flash of recognition that this concept was something that occurred in my life. As Iíve been condescending enough to assume you canít pronounce the word Iíll go further and explain the term. Paradigm shifting is when your definition of normalcy is redefined.

The context of the original discussion of paradigm shifting was the martial arts. A friend and I were discussing occurrences in the martial arts world and it struck me that things I might have considered strange several years ago had become quite ordinary. The world of martial arts, like most fields (politics comes to mind), is certainly not without the bizarre, and I must hasten to add that my paradigmís never shifted to understanding some of the more bizarre behaviors. For instance, Mas Oyama, a very talented martial artist, whose paradigms shifted far beyond mine, used to demonstrate his power by knocking out bulls. (Bizarre might be the subject of another contemplation if I did not feel it had been far better done in many places on the web already.)

Martial artist or not, I believe paradigms shift in everyoneís life. Having children, no matter who you are, redefines normalcy. Sleep deprivation and bathroom fixations become routine in life. "Thatís not fair" takes on a whole new meaning which has nothing to do with opportunity or taxes.

Getting on-line and browsing the web also redefines normalcy. If you donít agree with me you havenít been on the web long enough. However, if you are reading this page you are well on your way to understanding.

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The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1996













Challenges


Challenge, to some, means climbing Mount Everest. To my brother, who is hearing impaired, it was biking around the world - at least that part of it which is not water. However, I lead a more mundane life than climbers and bikers and my life consists of simpler challenges.

There are several types of challenges in the Contemplator's life. Enjoyable challenges - no, not bungee jumping - the Contemplator is the cerebral sort, thank you, and though not sitting in a rocking chair yet, is not a thrill seeker or adrenaline junkee. The last thrill I sought brought about the birth of Inspiration Three. I'm more cautious now.

Then there are larger challenges I must face and do so with mixed feelings - looking for a job, purchasing a new home, and, speaking of my Inspirations - raising children... Things to look forward to with anticipation and then deal with swings from depression to elation that accompany reality.

And there are challenges I dislike and must face anyway (the Contemplator will not name these, invoking the Fifth Amendment here).

I don't suppose what specific challenges one faces in life is as important is as how one deals with them, however big or small they may be. And sometimes small challenges seem every bit as overwhelming as larger ones. I may never have faced a challenge like climbing Mount Everest, but on a cold rainy day after a late night on the Web, getting out of bed seems just as difficult.

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The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1996













On Being a Gourmet


No, this is not about cooking - cooking being one area of life skills that I fail miserably at (hence the heavy investment in MacDonalds -see What Really Destroyed Family Values?). This is about a far more important life skill - the art of enjoying life. Being a gourmet in life. I have it on good authority (an official one this time - aka Webster) that a gourmet is a connoisseur - which, for those who understand neither gourmet OR connoisseur - is a "critical judge".

Well, maybe this isn't exactly the word I am looking for, not being the critical type. Keeping with the french theme, perhaps the apt word is bon vivant.... I don't like Webster's definition of bon vivant ("a person having cultivated, refined and sociable tastes, especially in food and drink") - so we'll stick with the literal translation - "good liver" - no, not the organ, in spite of the cooking theme - but a person who lives well.

And I always thought a bon vivant was a drunk... (I suppose living well is open to individual interpretation....) That's not the my interpretation though. Overindulgence in anything carries a price, whether on a body or on relationships, sooner or later this catches up to you. One should savor life's pleasures. A glass of good wine can be far more pleasurable than a bottle of Boone's Farm. Well, maybe not at 18...

Sometimes there are more things in life to savor than others. Sometimes there seems a dearth of things to savor. When that's the case you have to find something to savor. One can always find simple things to savor - a long hot bath, good music - good music while you are taking a long hot bath.. a good cigar - while you are listening to music taking a long hot bath...

Then again, when there seems a dearth of things to savor there is the Contemplator's answer - the "great escape". The Contemplator has overindulged in savoring little things. Baths have become utilitarian; good music is hard to find; good cigar is an oxymoron. So the Contemplator is going to Bermuda. Some people might think this is an overindulgence - they're just jealous - unless they live in Bermuda.

No, this is not an overindulgence, it is a necessary regeneration. Maybe when I return I'll find new things to savor. Maybe I'll take up cooking...

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The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1996













All Good Things


A coworker said to me recently, "All good things come to those who wait..." Well, it's been a few weeks and I've waited long enough. I've decided to put this in my SP (Stupid Expressions) file - along with "Only the good die young." (Those who die young are good only because they didn't have a chance to be bad). However, before I decided to file this away I contemplated it for some time - as Contemplators are supposed to.

It doesn't say "good things" it says ALL good things. But neither does it say by whose definition. My definition of good things would include a fireplace and bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Thinking on a bigger scale it would also include a million dollars which would buy a very nice fireplace and lots of cabernet sauvignon. But maybe the good things are by Harry Healthy's definition and good things are jogging eight miles a day and eating all the right things. Oh my God - forget cabernet sauvignon - I'd have to give up MacDonald's!

At the time the expression came up we were, however, discussing careers rather than life's pleasures (and let me hasten to reassure my bosses, if they are reading this, that of course the two ARE related...) My immediate response to "all good things come to those who wait" was that that's fine to tell a 20 year old, but not very comforting to someone past 40. They have more time to spare than I do - let them wait while I move ahead. But ahead to where?

Which leads back to definitions of good things. Very often good things have happened to me that I didn't recognize at the time - heck I didn't even want at the time. I didn't want to go to work until the Inspirations were of an age to leave together unsupervised for more than ten minutes. I imagined that was in two or three years - now that I've left them in the situation it's clear I underestimated the age by a decade or so - except in a decade or so they'd be able to do REAL damage to one another, not just bruises and black eyes. In spite of sibling altercations work has turned out to be a very good thing - because I'm not there to hear the yelling and screaming that accompanies them. I'm happy in the adult world where people who beat up one another can be arrested so we tend to be more civil. The Inspirations are happier too because no one is interfering with the law of the jungle and arguments are settled much more quickly by force than by mediation.

The problem with the whole expression "all good things come to those who wait" is that waiting is a passive state. My good friend Merriam says so. Waiting is to "remain inactive in readiness or expectation." How is anything good going to happen to you if you are just sitting there waiting for it to happen? Well, ok, there are exceptions - Newton, for example. But I don't think he was sitting there waiting for an apple to fall on his head - he was probably waiting for his mistress - or hiding from his wife.

Some people imagine we control our own destinies and can make good things happen. My belief is that things happen and we we may as well find the good in them. So perhaps it's not that "all good things come to those who wait" but "all good things come to delusional people."

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The Contemplator (Lesley Nelson-Burns) 1996