Thursday, February 1, 2024

Accidental wisdom seeps in

Patience is the companion of wisdom. A wise person sees the big picture and recognizes that they are not God or the most important person in the world.

Kindness is wisdom. Wise people are also humble.

True wisdom comes from sifting through all the noise and finding simplicity at its core.

I've discovered that it's not effective to actively pursue wisdom. Rather, wisdom seeps in over time. Wisdom is more of a feeling than a thought.

At least that's what I'm feeling nowadays, in which I've had a pretty good stretch in life, realizing the phrase "accidental wisdom" probably is redundant. Perhaps wisdom only can be accidental.

While I've been accused of being a bit too woo-woo and partially agree with that, I've been a bit more relaxed of late and have reprioritized my activities and what's important to me. Quality time with my beautiful wife and daughters tops the list of my daily goals. And then, bike rides and walking around El Dorado Park's Nature Center or other worthwhile landscapes, whenever possible, have been my focus.

C'est la vie. Why concern myself with trivial things when I can be looking at the ocean, trees, lakes or turtles?

I had much different feelings for most of my life. Not only did I eschew nature, but I reveled in the glory of manmade constructions, such as The Rock (AKA New York City).

After getting a master's in journalism in The City and working in newspapers for 12 years in New York and L.A., I was an inevitable newshound for most of my life. While I stay abreast of the world's happenings just once daily on the AP News app and German's DW (Deutsche Welle), I think another source of the main sense of calm, and wisdom, I've been experiencing comes from my distinct lack of social media, TV news and scrolling.

So as we head into a presidential election in which I honestly believe is an embarrassing media-gross process and event for Americans, I simply refuse to follow it. Nope. Disregard. Dismiss. Not taking the click bait. I've got an actual life to lead here. I got trees to see.

I don't have any regrets having that 12-year career in newspaper journalism during a time when newspapers existed. I still vehemently argue that we need quality journalism as a part of our nation's checks and balances. Unfortunately, that journalistic ideal is a pipe dream, but it would be nice not to have the Washington Post owned by Amazon and The New York Times telling me the time length each article takes to read on its app.

Henry David Thoreau once said, "If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter — we never need to read of another."

So, yeah, I think Biden/Trump, again, is just the icing on the cake that shows the news cycle we witness in the United States is not only ridiculous, but toxic. It just feels so good to give myself permission to dismiss it and not get hung up on the painful news of the day.

It took me a while getting here, but I guess it's accidental wisdom. Like rings around trees, my wisdom has been sneaking up on me and helping me enjoy my days more and not wasting them on the dreadful news of steamboats blowing up.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Quick nunchi in Costco

If you can't beat 'em, join Costco.

After eschewing Costco for most of my life because it symbolized lame overconsumption in my mind, I finally succumbed and joined.

"Wait, you never had a membership," the clerk said as I signed up.

"No, never."


Do I look like a Costco member? What does that even look like? Why didn't he believe me?

I liken myself to an artiste of sorts, kind of like Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, downtown New York, East Village or Lower East Side. Why would I be in freaking Costco?

Is there some sort of spiritual connection happening in Costco as we revel in oversized pot pies, 3-pound bags of tortilla strips and 15 packs of coconut water? Is God speaking to us?

Eh, I'm not so sure that exists because it seems so mindless. Do we even notice each other as we grab our 40 packs of spring water and 10 packs of Kleenex? Are we supposed to notice each other? How do I blend in among these big-ass pumpkin pies and chocolate cakes?

In stark contrast to my foray into Costco, I just read a small book called The Power of Nunchi: The Korean Secret to Happiness and Success by Euny Hong. Nunchi has no true translation in English, but it's perhaps best described as "reading the room" or seeking first to understand or, for me, finding power in not speaking.

I suppose I take a lot of American culture for granted, such as self-promotion and the myth of individualism. On the other hand, I don't know if I can accept Costco. On some level, that big ole warehouse just ain't right!

Do we really need all of this stuff? Isn't it a bummer that so much of our culture is disposable? Do you think I will use three cans of Reddi-wip, or is that two and a half cans too much?

While rolling my supersized shopping cart in Costco, my mind drifts to the nunchi book and how nunchi differs from empathy. While I take it as a given that one should strive for empathy, Hong questions that.

Empathy puts the focus on one's self other than the actual person. We try to "put ourselves in their shoes." But shouldn't we really just listen, soak in what the person is saying and allow them to be seen and heard?

I've often chastised myself for overtalking. I am just so hilarious and insightful that it's best that I talk over as many people as possible so I can be beheld in all of my glory. ... Uh, not the best look.

So as I push my oversized shopping cart, I get out of my head and notice what I see. People appear jostling for space and time. Many do not, or cannot, consider the others around them. This is consumption. This is California. This is Costco.

I do not have any answers, but I'm developing questions. Are we just members of the consumption class? If it's disposable, does it have any worth?

Why do I rush so much? Why I am happiest when my mind is blank? Why must you get a three-pack of guacamole when I just want one?