The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Philosophy Page 2 of 4

Seeking purpose

Do you have purpose in your life?

I am not asking this from a religious point of view, though I am also not ruling that out as a possible answer.  Nor am I playing on that old Steve Martin joke, asking you about your “Special Purpose” and what you use it for.

When you look at what you do throughout the day and what you are trying to accomplish, is it for a special reason or are you just making it through the day?

I am not trying to put you on the spot, or anything… I am just curious about how many people that might read this, have a life goal that they are working towards.  Whether this is a spiritual, emotional, financial or other… what are you working towards?

Personally, I am working toward a couple goals.  First is to make myself more spiritually aware… not really to be more religious or anything like that, but to “understand” more in life.  Secondly I am teaching myself carpentry… so that when I retire, hopefully at or around 55 years old, the wife and I will be able to retire to Oregon… hopefully somewhere along the coast, and I can start a little business doing some wood working and carpentry.  Anything but computers for the rest of my life.

So… tell me your story, goals or desires… I am interested in hearing them.



No promises… no guaranties…

When I was growing up, I was never led to believe that anything would just be handed to me.  I never had any suspicion that I was “OWED” anything other than the support and love of my family.

As I grew, I learned that while my family was there for me, I was no longer “entitled” to anything that I did not work for.  Unlike when I was younger, I now had to start working for things.  Any allowance that I received was based on what I did to help around the house.  If I chose not to help around the house, doing things like washing dishes, cleaning up, doing laundry, running errands, then I simply did not get any money.  Just like a real job.  Cleaning my own room never counted, as it was one of those things that I was supposed to keep clean on my own.

When I got my first job, mowing lawns for a couple friends of the family, my Mother began charging me a “rent” of sorts.  It only worked out to be about 20% of what I made mowing, but it was enough for me to learn that when I earn a paycheck, it is not all mine.  The same held true when I started my first REAL job, working for a company called GEMCO.  I had, at this point, learned that I needed to keep aside a portion of my pay for rent.  Granted… I did not enjoy it, but I learned long before I went out on my own that I needed to do this.

This philosophy that my mother instilled in me translated very well into my adult life.  I had no misunderstandings when I first went into the workforce, I knew that I had to work for my pay.  I expected no special favors or handouts.  If someone gave me a second chance on something I failed at, it was because they wanted to, not because they owed it to me.  If I was promoted, it was because I had worked for it.

So… Why is it that today, more and more, I see people that think that they are owed something simply by showing up or by being alive?  There seems to be this attitude that no matter what they have or have not done, they expect to make top dollar and not have to work that hard to do it.

When I watch people on TV, or hear people of the radio, that say things like “The government owes this to me.” or when I hear people say that they are upset because their welfare ran out and the government owes that to them, I am truly perplexed.

It amazes me that people have somehow grown to this opinion that anyone owes them something, when they have, in many cases, done nothing to work for it.  Yes, an employer owes you a paycheck and a safe place to work if you are working for them and doing your job well.  If you are not doing your job well, then they would owe you a warning or two, and then, if you do not clean up your act, they would owe you a pink slip and an escort out the door.  It return, you owe your boss a good day’s work with some decent level of productivity.  That is it, nothing else.  If you lose your job through no control of your own, the state owes you a certain period of unemployment, you pay into that, so that also, within reason, is owed to you.

I do not deny that things are different now than they were twenty or more years ago.  People rarely find a job that they will spend the rest of their lives with, as was once the case.  But the point is that when you go to work for a person or company, while you are there, you should still give the best you can.  For that and ONLY that, you are owed a paycheck and whatever other benefits you are provided.

If you recieve public assistance (Welfare, WIC, etc…), then do not… EVER… think that you are “owed” that.  Yes, there may be a very valid reason you are on public assistance, and it may or may not be entirely your fault for having to use it.  But if you are able bodied or so much so that you can still work, and are not making a concerted effort to get off of assistance, then you are owed nothing.

Before you come down on me for my opinion on this, you need to know that I am no stranger to public assistance.  When my mother and I first moved to Bakersfield back in 1974, she had no job and the little that she was getting for child support for me was not enough to pay the rent let alone pay for a full month’s food for us.  So she applied for and got both food stamps and welfare.  But she was going out on a regular basis and looking for work, and after a couple smaller jobs and the birth of my brother, she eventually, ironically enough, started working for the Department of Health and Human Services… the “Welfare Department”.  So she used the system the way it was supposed to be used, to get back up on her feet again.

It was partially because of growing up with a history of welfare that I have always chose not to use any public assistance.  There was only even one period in my life that I used my Unemployment Benefits.  Even though that IS something that we pay into, I am still hesitant to use it.

I understand that there is nothing wrong with getting something for free from time to time or having something gifted to you.  But I do not expect it.  Likewise people should not expect that anything is going to be given to them.  No one should think that they are entitled to that which they did not earn through hard work.  Anything you get through the course of your life should be earned otherwise there is no incentive to apply effort to do better.

If you are a person who sees yourself as a “giver”, then understand that you are a noble person… I will not say that you are doing wrong by committing the act of giving, but I will say that you should make sure that you are giving to the right people and for the right reason.  Do not give to those that do not need it and do not give for the sake of making yourself look good to those around you.  Give to the ones that are really needing it and give because it feels right in your heart.

If you are a “Taker”… one of those people that feels that simply by being born and living in the United States, you are owed something with no effort or desire to work for it on your own and there is no correctable physical or mental reason why you cannot be out there earning a paycheck, then you should be ashamed of yourself.  You are a good part of what is wrong with the United States and, more than likely, part of the reason we ended up with Mr. Obama as a president.




Discovering God

I have never particularly cared for the term “I found God”;  It always seemed, among other things, so cliche.  There are also times that people use it as if they are looking for a way to try and convince others that they have, through some divine or mythical process, transcended the evil that they had done in their lives by attaining a higher understanding of God.

I will never tell you that I have “Found God”.  I will say, however, that over the years and as I have grown older, I have become more spiritually aware than I once was.  I have started to understand that the more I think I know about “Life, the Universe and Everything”, the more I see that some things are not easily answered by science, even though it plays a strong role as a tool to discovering much of the unknown.

I do not believe, as many do, that our lives are directed by God.  I think that we are all given a set of tools to work with and what we choose to do with them makes us who we are.  Some of us choose to do good and others to do evil, then again there are some just ride that center line with no real leaning towards one side or the other, choosing to live the life complacent.  But every one of us has the very same capacity for good or evil as every other one of us, it is all a matter of choice.

Regardless of how we are brought up or the social class we are brought up in to, those decisions are ours.  We each have to decide what we do with and where we take our lives and yes… some of us do have more challenges set before us than others, but those only help make us stronger and more prepared for what life might deal us in the future if we choose to approach them head on and succeed.

I do think that our lives are sometimes “nudged” in a direction by God.  I say this because there was a time when I seriously thought about becoming a Rabbi.  After studying the requirements and learning was entailed, I decided that it was too much responsibility for me and chose not to take this path.  This has been a decision I have grown to regret and I feel, looking at the person that I have become, that I would have been a very good Rabbi.  In this case, I feel, in a manner of speaking, I was approached with a job offer from God, and chose to turn it down.

I also look at the people in my life who have been the most influential and I discover that many of them have been members of the Clergy…  Rabbi Stanley Robin… Rabbi Stephen Peskind… Rabbi Rosenberg CDR USN …  plus various Priests, Pastors and Deacons that I have known and spoken with over the years.  These are all people that have positively influenced me on my various paths in life.

Does everything that I have said above mean that I have found God?  No… I do not think that anyone “Finds God”.  I think that it is more a case that you need to understand what you need in your life and for what answers you are looking.  I guess you could say it is like “Looking for love.”  Everyone has it to give, you just need to learn how to accept it and return it… God, in whatever way, shape or form you perceive him or her to be, is no different.  We all have some feelings about God… we all go through periods of doubt, rebellion and contemplation.  Some choose to follow a spiritual path and become Clergy.  Others decide to sit on the sidelines and just watch and wait; then again others defiantly deny that there is any such thing as a higher power.  For some, though, at some point, through your learning, understanding and living, God, or your understanding of him, will find you.

Who knows… we might all be wrong, but that is something that only time will tell.  For now, I would like to think that He is out there, holding back some of the cards, making sure that we are all playing the game fairly.  A dealer that has palmed part of the deck and is waiting for us to play our hands.

For those of you who are used to reading my work… no… I have not gone strange.  I have always wanted to write a piece like this, but have always worried about how it would be taken.  Most people that know me do not know how my spiritualism works.  I keep my beliefs close to me and am not quick to share them.  This is the first time I really have, so I hope that you appreciate what I had to say.  As always… I thank you for taking the time to read this.

The Lessons along the way…

When I was growing up, my mother had this thing she would like to tell me… something that she, in turn, heard from her Grandmother.

“Wish in one hand and piss in the other, see which gets full the fastest.”

I am sure that there are many variations on this saying, and I am sure that it predates even my Grandmother.  But there is an underlying truth to the statement that I think gets lost in the humor and maybe even in the “visual” that the comment provokes.

If we take into consideration all the education we get through our lives, all the people that teach us little things, and all the books that make up our total knowledge base; I do not think it would be as important to life itself and the things we learn by doing.

Thing that we pick up through the accidents we have, the accomplishments we make, the losses we endure through our lives… those are what truly shapes and educates us.

For example, we can read about death, watch it on TV, see it in the news and hear about it on the radio, but that first time a friend or loved one dies or is killed, then it takes on a whole new meaning and we learn right then and there exactly how short and fragile life truly is.  Then, the next time you read about it, heard about it or see it in a movie or on the news, it means something a little different.

The same holds true for the rest of life as well.  Love means more when you have experienced it versus when you read about it.  Cars are fun to drive and own, but the moment you need to repair one yourself, they suddenly have a new meaning to you.

As we grow older, we see other things like this happen.  Our minds start piecing this events together with “outside” understanding of them and that, in turn, livens or gives new meaning to the experiences.

Educations is great… I encourage everyone to go as far as they can with their school studies, but do not limit yourself to just that.  Challenge everything you learn.  If your professor tells you that water is hot, go out and challenge that.  If someone tells you that Quadratics are hard, try them yourself.

The point?  Learn not only through education, but through experience.  Learn to be a thinker, a ponderer, a daydreamer, but learn also to take those thoughts and apply them to the real world.  You never know what you might find out about the world and your self.

The art of being nice.

Being nice.

It’s not as hard as it sounds, really.  But if you watch people today, many of them would seem like either they do not remember how to, or chose not to be nice to others.

Where I see the best examples of this is in the retail arena.  Working retail is hard enough, I know, I spent the about twelve years in retail and had the pleasure of seeing almost every type of personality.  The good, the bad and the ugly, they are all people that crossed my path through the course of my retail career, thus giving me a point of view that not everyone has.

I try to be nice to most people, even those that are rude to me.  Granted, I do have my breaking point where when a person is continuously rude or hateful to me, I will crack and return the feelings.  The problem with that, when you reach that point, you have lost.  You are no longer controlling the situation and there is no way to truly recover the control.

More often than not, anymore, I will try and counter the situation with humor or irony.  Most of the time those are invaluable weapons to use against a person that is obviously in a bad or bitter mood, but unlike anger, it will sometimes cause the other person to see their own problem as being a little less important or, maybe, cause them to laugh at themselves.

I like to talk to people that are having a bad day, it is almost as though I see them as a challenge that needs to be won.  A good example of this is a time I was going through drive through at a local Burger King.  When I got to the window, the lady was in a very sour mood.  After I got my food and change, I decided to try something, so I sat there.  She came back to the window and asked if there was something else that I needed.  I said “I know you are having a bad day, so if I give you a smile, will you share it with others?”  She looked at me funny, then I told her a joke… “A horse walks into a bar and up to the counter.  The Bar Tender look at him and asked ‘What’s with the long face?'”

She gave me a genuine laugh and thanked me.  This was the first time I tried something like that, and it worked.  I am not normally that outward, but I taught myself a lesson and I helped someones day get a little better.

To be fair, it is hard to be nice to people that are in a bad mood.  It is hard to be nice to people that are having a bad day or are in the funks.  I know this from personal experience.  That is why I think that the BEING nice part is an art.  You have to learn to be nice in situations that you normally would not be.

So… the next time you are out there, and someone has an attitude… try something new… try and make them laugh at themselves or at you.

Gone but…………

Not forgotten……………………..

When is the moment you realize that you will never forget those who have gone from your life. You can’t really pinpoint it or plan for it, it just happens. Whether it’s sitting watching a movie, seeing an old t.v. show, reading a book, a news clip, a blog. What brings those memories flooding back….. Is it something that happened recently, something you saw or heard, a moment replicated to almost the exact way it happened when you lost someone. And when you react, is your initial reaction, to what you just read or saw, to the story or a moment in your own past, or both, one coming right after the other. Which also begs the question, which memories are the most important ones, the milestones or major events, or the little ones, or funny ones, or frustrating ones, or ones you should have laughed at, at the time, but instead felt anger or frustration.

For me, it was something I hadn’t really prepared for, to understand you will have to see the movie Marley and Me. If there is book written I usually read the book before I go see the movie, in this case though, I didn’t, so other than seeing the previews and having read the cover of the book several years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. And I have to admit during the movie I was starting to become disappointed, as the movie seemed to shift more and more from the main character Marley, a rather rowdy, but lovable Labrador retriever. While not having read the book I am sure something was lost in translation to the big screen, from the lesson’s learned by the writer, as Marley and Me was a true story, not a fictional account. You can’t really blame the producers of the movie either, after all they need to appeal to wide audience, and based on the packed theatre on a Saturday with kids and parents and grandparents I would say they did what they needed to do. Some of you at this point maybe wondering what the point of this thing is, don’t worry I haven’t lost my mind completely yet, it is coming, but like some things you have to wait for it.

I don’t know if words can describe it adequately, but here goes……. As the movie progresses, it dawns on you that the movie is leading up to what some would consider an inevitable conclusion. Marley’s heart wrenching passing, as the family that loved him looks on helpless. Not wanting to be caught of guard, I could see what was happening and prepared myself, even though it did bring up thoughts of several of my own Marley’s passing. So when, it happened I was prepared for it and steeled myself for it, while at the same time, wanting to make what was happening easier for the family, knowing that besides the family on screen, this scene had played itself out in real life with Marley’s family. So, it was not that scene, that got me…..In the beginning of the movie something happens that for those of us looking on, is funny, but to those actually experiencing was I am sure frustrating. Without giving it away, they remind us of that incident at the end of the movie, while the family is saying goodbye to Marley, and that is what got me. It was an involuntary reaction and caught me completely of guard. One of those rare moments at least for me, when emotions come out, without being stopped or self managed. A grown man, sitting in the theatre with tears in his eyes, wondering why he was reacting this way, when moments before, the scene that should have had most people crying there eyes out, had not brought up anything other than memories of having been lucky to have known, my own Marley’s. Sandy(and no, not that one), Ming, Scotch and Smudge, Dudley, Irish, Jake and Saunchin. Each unique in their own way, each teaching you something, each touching you in ways you never imagined, each with their own personality, each so much a part of your life, and each leaving it way too soon, But leaving you better for having known and loved them. Each moment whether it’s a fond memory, a funny, although sometimes not at the moment occurrence, is important and can and will come back to you at unexpected times and in unexpected places……….

Making Friends…

As I grow older, I have started paying more attention to things that I used to take for granted… and that is making friends.

I have always been very critical of people… all people.  While some might say this is normal, I would go so far as to say my example would almost be to an unhealthy level.

When I meet a person for the first time, I immediately begin dissecting them.  Their mannerisms, movements, tone of speech, eye movements, etc.  I listen to the stories they tell and, in my mind, begin challenging them for potential realism, validity and probability.  All this in a matter of the first few moments that I have met a person.

Hindsight is always more clear than the vision before you at the time something is happening.  Thus, as I look back, I see many situations where I killed potential friendships before they ever started.  This attitude that I have towards people that I am meeting for the first time was and is unfair to them and to myself.

This has brought me to the point of this post.  A lesson learned, so to say.

  • Accept people for who and what they are.  People are not always going to be what you want them to be, and sometimes the best friendships can be borne from diversity.
  • Listen to what people have to say and take it for what it is worth.  If you do not think that it is the truth, keep that to yourself.  Over time, the truth always comes to the surface.
  • Once a friendship starts, just like a plant or any other life, it requires feeding and nurturing.  You need to make it work.  Don’t assume that “I called John this week, it is his turn to call me.”  That does not always work.  Friendship is a two-way street and takes both parties.
  • Don’t let little things get in the way, and in the case of good friends, nothing is more important.  With few exceptions, all other considerations are secondary to friends.

Making good friends is, in my opinion, not too much different than relationships with your family.  My closest friends ARE part of my family.  In my life, the few friends I have, and they know who they are, are every bit as much a part of my family as my Mom, Sister, Brothers and Wife.  There is little difference to me here.

Some friends you make will not be as close as others.  You will learn to keep them, without letting them KNOW this, at various distances from you, emotionally.  This is not to be callous or mean, but because there are times when you can feel that a person is responsible enough to handle that level of closeness.

There are times, also, that you need to let them go from your life because they become vexacious to your soul and your family.  There is one case where I have done this and the reason was because the path he had chosen led to the loss of his family and drove his friends away.  Even though it was his own fault, it was one of the harder things I have done in my life.  Telling a person to not be a part of your life when you have known them since high school is difficult.

All this being said, my newest goal is to teach myself to be less critical of people.  To try and make more friends and be a better friend to others.  To stop trying to find a reason to NOT make a person a friend, as I tend to do with my mental dissection of those I meet.  I do not expect this to come to me overnight, but I do want it to happen.

I hope that you appreciated my sharing this with you.  I hope that you have something to add, as your comments are always welcome.

The ghosts that haunt us…

Not a day goes by when I do not think of my Father.

Unfortunately, he passed away in 1991. When he passed, there were a great deal of things that I never got to say to him and I am sure, there were things that he never had a chance to say to me.

I do not dwell on his death, I can honestly say that I only did that for about the first year, but the times I think about him now are more or less in passing. Idle thoughts that come to me. Things like; “Dad would have liked that”, or “It would have been neat if my dad could have met my Father-in-law.”

If I were to look at the things that bother me the most about his death, it is the fact that I never told him everything I needed to tell him. But I was young and I listened to those that told me that it would hurt him if I talked to him about these things. So I did not, not knowing the ghosts that it would create for me all these years.

I think that we all carry ghosts like this with us through our lives.  Things that we put off doing, forgot to do or never seemed to find the time for.  Then one day you realize that your chances are gone, there is no way to get them back.  These can be as simple as a conversation you should have had with someone or as large as not taking the time to sit down and have a heart to heart with your father… as was the case with me.

The biggest thing to remember with most of these ghosts is that they do not have to be.  We each have control over whether they exist or not by the decisions we make.  We chose to, or not to, act on things.  Sometimes it is because we do not want to hurt someone, or because we do not want to take a chance.  But we must.

Since my issue with my father, I have used that as a learning point in my life.  Since then I try to speak my mind when I can.  I always make sure I say what needs to be said when I have the chance.  If that which I need to say might hurt the feelings of the person I am telling it to, then I do so with the greatest care and compassion.

I offer this as my personal experience in life.  Life itself is so very short when you think about it and even with that, you are not guaranteed the entirety of your life, you never know what may happen that might take it from you or those you love, prematurely.

I will close with this.  It is a small part of a poem I have kept near me for more years than I can remember called the Desiderata:

“…As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant… they too have their story.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I like it in here…

I talk to myself.

I would like to think that we all do from time to time, personally I think it is healthy to talk to yourself.

I am pretty sure that I talk to myself more than most people that I know, however, and there are times that I have pretty good conversations with myself. Some of my best ideas and thoughts come from these conversations.

I would wager that my level of “self conversation” goes a little to far sometimes. I mean if you are having a conversation with a person and reach a point were the conversation goes south, you can walk away from one another. There have been several times where my discussions with myself have not gone well and I reach a point where I cannot agree with me, so what do I do? I cannot walk away from myself… I have tried to not talk to myself for a while, but that always ends badly. I thought about taking myself out to dinner once to make up for the argument, but that is always uncomfortable when you get to the restaurant. Especially when both of you forget to bring money.

Seriously, though… Some of my best ideas have come from talking to an empty room with a tape recorder going. It gives you a way to hear your ideas through another point of view. I have even gone so far as to video tape my discussions with myself to, afterward, view the process from afar. It truly can be fascinating.

Now… I am sure that there are those of you who are now saying something along the lines of: “OK… The Samurai has lost it.” No… I would say not. I know exactly where it is, but I just occasionally have trouble getting to it. I never put it in the same place twice and I do not always recall exactly where it was that I left it the last time I had it. 😉

I use talking to myself much the same way that Einstein used his mental simulations, to figure something out. If I am writing, it often helps to say the lines aloud to see how they will actually sound when spoken. When I am thinking about something, there are times that speaking about it as if you were discussing it with a person helps the thought congeal.

Then there are actually times that I do like listening to myself talk about something I know well. It makes me feel good, I suppose. After all… when I do that, I do have a captive audience.

All in all… I like it in here… and so do the rest of us!

Bloggers, Experts and Opinions… Oh My.

As you visit my site, you may hear me talk about myself a bit. I am reaching that age where I can look back at things I have done in life and use them as an example of what to, or not to do. I can look at my decisions objectively and tell you when I have done something that was stupid or something that I am proud of. Unfortunately there are too few of the latter.

You will never hear me say that I am an expert in anything, though. When I hear people call me an expert at computers, I always remember what my mother told me years and years ago. “Never let a person call you an expert… you know what an expert is? A former drip under pressure.”

That has always stuck with me, and I have always lived up to it. I am not an expert. I consider myself well qualified at many things, computers, science, writing, etc… But I will always correct a person when they throw that “E” word at me.

This Blog that I run, the one you are reading right now, is written with the understanding that I might be wrong about things, maybe even a lot of things. I am NO expert. I enjoy writing, and that should be all that I need to be to run a blog, as long as I cause no harm to others in doing so and as has been demonstrated by many other Bloggers out there, writing skills and knowledge are secondary and many times not even a requirement. However I do try to write only about my opinions and things I know a little about or enjoy.

When a person professes them self to be an expert, I see it as a sign of self glorification. I have always taught myself to be proud of your accomplishments, but never so much so that you forget that you are never finished with where you are going in life. Everything you learn means that there is something else that needs to be learned next. If you ever do truly become what you might consider to be an expert at anything, then that is only transitory. If you do not keep studying and trying, you will fall behind the moment that you feel that you stop to bask in your expertise.  Above all, I try and practice humility.

This is not the take away from the fact that there are people out there that are the top in their fields and they may be considered experts by those around them and maybe even by themselves. But calling yourself, or allowing yourself to be called an expert sets a standard that you might not be able to continually achieve. In other words, once you have reached the top, there is nowhere to go but down.

For all you out there that might stumble upon my site and who are, yourself, an expert in any given field.  Please take nothing that I have said wrong.  But you yourself should understand that you are not done and one day, maybe not too far off, someone or something will come along and replace you, so again, remember, that your status is transitory.  We are, all of us, coming and going to and from someplace in life.  What matters most is the journey and what we accomplish and who we touch along the way.

You make yourself a better person not so much by where you go and what you learn, but by what you teach along the way.

Lets all remember that we are teachers.

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