Saturday, August 15, 2009

Coats Of Arms

In the Middle Ages, knights went into battle wearing suits of armor emblazoned with coats of arms - complex amalgams of history, tradition, and meaning. These not only represented which side they were fighting for, but symbolically stood for family, community, and identity.

Jump forward to the present. Certainly, gangs have adapted a modern day version with clothing, tattoos, and gestures, much in the same tradition as those knights. But, many of us now sport our own coats of arms - with baseball hats, T shirts, logo driven fashion accessories, paraphernalia and so forth. Instead of family, we now identify with sports figures and teams, corporate identities, manufacturers, foods we eat, and places we visit. How strange a transformation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


There is a theory in life that there are no coincidences. Maybe so - maybe not. But, in any case, there must be at least two elements for a coincidence to occur - the events that are in conjunction with one another and an awareness of those events. While the first part may seem obvious, the second implies a consciousness of those elements - the ability to remember and see things in context, and an understanding of the relationship of those events. So, while you may be talking about a song with a friend, if you then heard that song on the radio, you would have to draw a connection for a coincidence to have occurred. Myriads of coincidental events may occur without us observing the glue - making the connection, to make those instances coincidental.

Of somewhat different note are what I think of as 'near coincidences'. If you and I are shopping at the grocery store and bump into one another, that may be a coincidence. If you and I are at that same store, but keep moving ahead in lockstep - an aisle apart from one another and we don't meet, we have a near coincidence. It is interesting to think of the number of times that we miss the astonishment of a coincidence - that other person is just an aisle away, but we never bump into them. How many times are there near coincidences? Who knows, but they must happen many more times than we are aware.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Living Life

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."
- Sanskrit and Native American sayings

"Don't be afraid of death so much as an inadequate life."
- Bertholt Brecht

“My main aim is to be a good ancestor”
- Jonas Salk

"Life flows on within you and without you."
- George Harrison

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Land Museum

Last fall, I visited Broadmoor, a Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary in South Natick. I hadn't been there for several years, but since the late '60's, I had walked, hiked, cross country skied, and explored there on many occasions. Its diverse terrain, abundant wildlife, intimate setting, and proximity to home made it a favorite venue and I was a frequent guest.

My recent visit left me with a very different, almost haunting feeling. While Broadmoor felt mostly the same from within, something about it had changed. It was no longer just a home for the resident flora and fauna, rocks and streams; it was a sanctuary unto itself. It felt fragile, isolated, and alone. Instead of being a protected entity amidst contiguous surroundings, it had become an island, apart from its neighbors ... a sanctuary of a different sort. And, while not wholly encroached upon by high rise buildings and incipient development, it had changed from being part of the ebb and flow of its environs to become a tiny enclave, a private repository, a land museum.

Time passes, things change. What we once thought immutable, is no longer. Populations grow, land is developed, homes are built.

I wonder how Broadmoor will look and feel to future generations. Will they know that once there were no boundaries - no fences - no man made delineation of itself from the world around it? Or, will they experience the land as we today experience fossils in a natural history museum? I wonder.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sheep Miles

We've all got 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day, but what and how many things we do in a day often varies - hence the concept of 'sheep miles'.

A shepherd with a flock of 10 sheep moves all of them forward 10 miles in 1 day yielding 100 'sheep miles'. Another shepherd moves 100 sheep forward just 1 mile - 100 'sheep miles', as well.

At the end of the day, same number of 'sheep miles' - very different days.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Three Aphorisms

" silent the world, if only the best birds sang"

"...a fish in the water doesn't know that it's wet"

"...the best fertilizer is your own shadow"