A philosophical interlude

I know there is nothing new here, Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun, so there is no reason to think this will be. I also know that all this has been said before, and better, by people throughout time. Still, as Zig Ziglar once said and I often quote,

“We do not have to be told, but we do need to be reminded.”

I was taking my walk this morning where we are currently staying, and on one part of the trail, I found myself less in the trees and nearer the lake. With the winds from the north-west, I could hear cars and trucks on Route 66 or I-35, I could not tell which.

It is interesting how quickly we get used to things. The quiet of our current spot had now become our normal so that I notice the distant sounds of cars and trucks where before when we were in our sticks and bricks house, these sounds were constants and therefore practically unheard. As I was thinking about this, I tried to put myself in the position of a goose or a duck, since these are plentiful around the lake where we are. A goose or a duck, I reasoned, would not notice the sound of the traffic at all. To the goose or duck, that is the way things are, and they may not remember differences in noise levels one spot to the next or distinguish the sound of traffic from the sound of the wind as it blew strongly through the surrounding trees and across the lake. From there I thought about a black Angus cow, standing in a field with no shade on a blazing summer day. I know cows value shade because when there is any about you will find every cow in the area huddled up beneath the shade tree in the middle of the summer day. But if there is no shade about, is the cow miserable? If there is some shade for the cow is it happy? I doubt it.

It came to me that animals probably do not worry about their situation because their situation just is. A cow with no shade doesn’t wish it had some, and a goose in a pond by the highway probably doesn’t long for the quiet lake situated in a meadow and miles from any human being. Animals have it better than we do in that they do not think something “ought” to be or “should” be. They do not “wish” their situation was different than it is.

We do wish our situation was different, however, and wish it continuously. We do this unconsciously, without even thinking about it. I was walking around the park and noticed how much louder it was where I was walking at the time than where we are set up in our RV. We humans are always making comparisons. A cow doesn’t know hot and cold. It will take advantage of what “is,” the shade, but I doubt it wishes for shade when there is none.

We do. Some people care about temperature so much they choose where they want to live to accommodate their preference. Others (like myself) just suffer through a good part of the year because it’s too hot or too cold. We cannot get along without our air conditioning or our central heat and so do not enjoy what is at the time.

A goose or a duck doesn’t know noisy versus quiet. We do. We make comparisons all the time about everything imaginable. Worse still, these comparisons always wind up as judgments, with something being “better” or “worse” than something else.

Here then is a source of a great deal of unhappiness and discontent. If we could just be and accept what is, without comparing our “is” to what “ought” or “should” or “wish,” I think we could achieve the contentedness that we mistakenly believe will come to us only by getting what we do not already have.

No matter what, there will always be more of what we do not have than what we do, but there will always be only one “is,” and that is enough.

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