Do You Feel Guilty for Taking a Shower?

Showering-businessFor millions of years, while the earth was cooling and life was developing, there were no people on the planet. Over thousands of years life forms were created and developed. People started walking on the face of the earth. Stinky, smelly people.

For thousands of years, people have dipped in lakes, rivers and streams to get clean. Those bodies and gatherings of water have not always been that clean. Oh, sure, I remember watching videos in grade school of scientists telling how the boundary waters in northern Minnesota had water so clean you could just dip a cup in and drink it, and, sadly, now those days are gone.

Anyhow, my point is, not until the last century of the human race have we had the opportunity to take daily showers with clean hot water. And, still, to this day the majority of the population of the world does not have access to clean hot water.

Yet that doesn’t seem to stop Americans from going through the daily routine of taking a shower. If you’re somebody who takes a shower every day, you probably never even think twice about this, and that’s fine.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you not only take a daily shower, but if something were to interrupt your routine, you’d get pretty upset. I’d be willing to bet that taking a daily shower is not only a ritual for you, I’d be willing to bet you feel entitled to it.

Let’s take it a step further, I’d be willing to bet that, not only do you feel entitled to it, I’ll bet you even feel obligated to take a shower every day. Think about it. You show up at the office without having taken a shower that morning, and you’re probably going to get a few “looks” from your co-workers. If it’s a persistent “problem”, your boss might even pull you aside and have a conversation with you about hygiene in the workplace.

So, we don’t think twice about it. We just do it, and we wouldn’t even think about going through a day without our hot shower…most of us…in America. You’d be crazy not to.

So, that leaves the question, “Do you feel guilty about it?” I mean, think of it. Taking a shower with clean fresh hot water every day is quite a privilege. You’re using up natural resources. Clean water is scarce in most parts of the world. You’re probably using up precious fossil fuels to heat said water. I mean, what makes you so special?

Well, it really has nothing to do with you. The reason you can take a shower every day is not because you’re an especially privileged person, but because of the abundance of fresh clean water in your area, and the relatively low cost to heat that water.

In fact, it’s healthier for all of us if you take that daily hot shower. Believe me, if all those folks in 3rd world nations who bathe in contaminated rivers had the opportunity to take a daily shower in clean hot water, they would take advantage of it. They’d be crazy not to.

What’s my point in all of this? Well, just as surely as you would not feel guilty about taking a shower everyday because of the abundance that surrounds you and the health benefits to yourself and everyone around you, why would you feel guilty about taking advantage of any of the abundance that surrounds you?

For example, if you live in an economy that is booming, and that has large “pipes” with lots and lots of money flowing through it, why would you feel guilty for getting involved with it and letting your share shower down upon you? It’s not your fault that developing nations don’t have the same economic status that your nation does. (I like the term “developing” more than “3rd world”, because it implies that growth is actually happening)

Let me ask you this. If you stopped taking a shower everyday, do you think that would actually be of any benefit to those that do not have access to those same resources? Would you feel better about yourself because now you’re “one of them”? Maybe then you could start being judgmental of all those who take showers every day. You could be better than them, because you don’t waste all those precious resources on yourself like they all do.

Well, good luck with that. Let me know how that works out for you.

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Get What You Want

Tis the holiday season, and, as such, tis the season to get what you want, right? I mean, that’s what all the retail marketers are hoping for, that, if you didn’t get what you really wanted for Christmas this year, “then come on over to our after holiday sale and get it!” 

I have to admit that, when I hear that statement, it makes me cringe a bit. There’s something that just seems incredibly self-centered and greedy about having a mind set that says, “I’m going to go after what I want.” 

What’s more, it seems almost blasphemous to think of having the attitude that I’m going to demand it from God. 

We look at the young man in the story of the prodigal son who demanded his inheritance from his father prematurely. We think what a fool he was. 

Here’s an interesting thought, though. What if what you really want is world peace, or for your ailing mother to get well, or your neighbors to stop fighting and get along with each other, or for your co-worker to become a Christian?

Well, all those are noble things, aren’t they? Suddenly “getting what you really want” doesn’t sound so evil, does it?

I think what’s interesting is that, when we hear a statement like “get what you want”, we just assume that people will default to a place where what they really want are more material possessions for themselves. 

Well, even if that were the case, what’s wrong with that? 

We’re taught that if what you want is in accordance with the will of God, then it’s okay, but if it’s to spend what you get on your pleasures, then it’s not okay.

So, first we have to recognize that what we’ve just decided is that “getting what you want” is not necessarily inherently evil or wrong or bad. Evidently, it depends on what it is you want. So, it’s okay to get what you want…provided that it’s not for you, and that it’s not something you will enjoy

I don’t think that’s the case. Let’s go back to the prodigal son. He got what he wanted, didn’t he? What did he do with it? He spent it “foolishly” on wild living and pleasure. After it was all gone and there was a severe famine he began to feel need again. What happened next? He came to his senses. He learned a lesson. He realized that all this wild living and pleasure was not really satisfying him. (I actually wonder if he ever would’ve come to that conclusion if he didn’t run out of money.) 

He returned to his father having learned a very valuable lesson – a very valuable lesson that he would never have learned had he not “gotten what he wanted” in the first place. 

What’s interesting is that his older brother never asked for anything that he wanted. Maybe he thought it was too arrogant or self-centered or greedy to ask his father for something that he could spend on his pleasure. Where did that get him? Self-righteous, bitter and resentful and missing the point of his father’s generosity. 

Get what you want. If you find that what you wanted didn’t satisfy like you thought it would, learn a lesson from it and find out what it is you really want. The Father has plenty to go around; plenty of resources, and plenty of patience as you learn your lessons. I think life is a journey of finding out what it is we really want, and I think what the Father really wants is to give us what we really want because he wants us to be happy and fulfilled. 

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The Bike Ride from Hell

It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and it is a gorgeous 50 degree sunny day. I decided to go for what will probably be the last bike ride of the season. What a treat! I love bike riding!

There is much serenity on the bike path. However, one of the things that I find exceedingly annoying is when there are pedestrians in your lane, and more pedestrians approaching in the on-coming lane, and it’s obvious that you are all going to meet at the exact same time. What that means for the conscientious bike rider is that you have to break your stride, slow down, even come to a complete stop if you have to. This is especially bothersome if you’re really cruising after coming down a hill.

That’s exactly what happened to me today. Those old folks out enjoying the beautiful day…God love ‘em!

As I rode away, making sure I shifted my gears rather loudly to demonstrate my annoyance, the thought came back to me again…

There are no setbacks, only learning opportunities.

Now, come on! Seriously? How could that possibly be anything but a setback? Really. I mean, I seriously tried to think of how that could be a learning opportunity. I got nuthin’.

Later on, I encountered another biker, who, in my opinion, was doing something unsafe. My reaction was that I became so upset that I could think of nothing but kicking my leg out as he tried to pass me and knocking him over…only to turn around to come back and pummel him. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever been that upset on a bike ride before. I got off my bike and was seriously about to hit something. (Fortunately I took none of these actions!)

Other really annoying “setbacks” kept happening on my bike ride. Suddenly, this “really great day for a bike ride” was not turning out so wonderful.

Then, I was reminded of the fact that…

Nobody can make me mad. I only make myself angry.

I didn’t like hearing myself think that thought at first, I can tell you that.

I thought about something, though, that put things into perspective for me. It’s not as though people were thinking, “Oh, here comes that Steve Pederson guy. I can’t stand him. Let’s do something to really mess with him!” No. These were just people going about their day. They just happened to get in my way.

All of the things that annoyed me today were instances of me having a plan in my mind how I wanted things to go, and they didn’t go the way I wanted them to go, so I got angry.

See, I didn’t really have any setbacks. I learned something today. I learned that sometimes I need to make adjustments. The world doesn’t revolve around me and my agenda, and that’s okay.

The main thing is that I returned home safely to tell the world about my learning experience.

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There Are No Setbacks

A friend of mine once got me thinking when he told me that even if he loses at playing Texas Hold ‘Em, he still comes out ahead, because he treats every “loss” as a learning experience.

I decided to give that attitude a try. As I was out for a walk one day, the thought came to my mind…

There are no setbacks, only learning opportunities.

Of course, this is a very easy thought to have when you’re out for a stroll on a beautiful day and everything seems to be going your way. I wondered if I would still have that attitude when things started to get challenging.

It didn’t take too long to put this thought process to the test.

About a day later I decided that I just might have enough time before I needed to be at my teaching job to drive to a very remote part of town to pick up a piece of window hardware for our bathroom window. I really didn’t want to drive there, because I’d never been to that part of town before, it wasn’t near any expressways, and therefore I wasn’t sure how long it would take. Plus, it was in a bad neighborhood, it was in the completely opposite direction of where I needed to be, and, on top of it all, the check engine light in my car had been on for several days, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be driving in this rough part of town in the event that my car would break down.

Being the adventuresome spirit that I am, and with really no other option, I decided to give it a go. I called before I left to confirm the address and to make sure they had the part I was looking for. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way enough times already!

As I approached the address that I thought I was looking for, I noticed there was no such business at that address. I pulled over and called the store again. Thank God for recent phone numbers being stored in your cell phone!

When I called, the gal on the phone assured me that I had the right address. I just didn’t have the right city!

I had never even heard of the city she said she was in. She gave me some cross streets, and I realized that I had to go much further out of my way then I had realized. I didn’t know what to do. Should I still try to make it? Would I have time? I wish I had known this before I had left!!! I could’ve saved so much time, and I wouldn’t have had to come to this frightening part of town! What a SETBACK!

As I ventured hesitantly on, my thought returned to me…

There are no setbacks, only learning opportunities.

Then you start to argue with yourself: “How is this NOT a setback?” I have to admit, though, that just thinking this thought was helpful. It helped calm me down, which, in turn, made me drive a little safer and a little more patiently.

The lesson I learned; always know exactly where you’re going when you’re going some place you’ve never been before. Who knows how this lesson may save me in the future?

The great part of the story is that I got the part I needed, and, since the store was located next to an expressway, I was able to get to my teaching job in plenty of time.

See, I did come out ahead in the long run. Plus, I had quite an adventure besides.

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How a Metronome Works

Staying in the lines. Every now and then we stray, and that’s okay. As long as you get back on the path.

I am a music teacher. As such, it’s one of my duties to help my students develop a sense of timing. I haven’t met too many people that have an innate sense of rhythm. It has to be taught.

One of the tools that I encourage my students to use to develop their sense of timing is a metronome. A metronome is a device that keeps perfect time or a perfect beat. It sets the standard for a steady pulse. If somebody is off, you can bet it’s the student that has deviated and not the metronome.

As wonderful, perfect and helpful a little item this gadget is, though, you wouldn’t believe how resistent students are to using it. Most of them actually hate it. Week after week, despite my continual reminders to do so, students continue to neglect practicing with a metronome.

Well, I’ve got news for you. The metronome isn’t going away. Even if you get rid of the metronome, you cannot get rid of what a metronome represents – perfect timing.

One of the challenges to practicing with a metronome is that you have to listen very carefully to it. When you are playing your instrument, you are obviously making a sound. That sound is competing with the sound the metronome makes, and usually your instrument is louder. It takes serious focus.

Another challenge to focusing on the metronome is that students feel that what they are doing is more important, and therefore requires the greater attention, than this obnoxious little click maker.

I always tell my students, “You can have rhythm without harmony or melody, but not the other way around – unless, of course, you’re into chaos.”

If having rhythm is so important, essential, even elemental, why do students reject it so readily?

One thing I do is take advantage of the time we have together during our lesson time to work with a metronome. If they’re not going to do it at home, by golly, they’re going to do it when I’m with them!

So, we set it and motion, and here’s what’s key: I tell my students that, should they get ahead or fall behind, that’s okay. Just don’t stop. Get back on track. Don’t start over again from the beginning. Don’t give up. Figure out where you’re supposed to be and join in again.

Think about your life. What is the “metronome” in your life – that standard by which you live? Do you deviate from it’s perfect rhythm from time to time? If you do, what do you think the “band director” would most want you to do? Quit? Have everyone else stop and start over again? Cry about it?

I think the band director would want you to get back into the rhythm as quickly as possible.

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What do YOU think?

As I was walking this morning and meditating, quieting my mind and opening my mind to  guidance from my creator, I heard the Spirit ask me this question,

“What did you read today?”

The first thing I thought of was this verse in Psalm 119 about freedom:

“I will walk in freedom,
for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” – v. 45 (NLT)

Freedom. What a powerful word.

I began to realize how most of our cliches, proverbs and metaphors that have to with freedom associate freedom with flying.

Think about it. What’s something you’d really love to do? Something you dream about?

I’d love to be able to fly. I dream about flying. Oh, that I could be like a free bird and fly away; free as an eagle when she flies.

What’s the opposite of flying? Being weighed down.

Nobody wants to be weighed down. Whatever weighs you down keeps you from flying.

~~~~~~~~~~~Ω~~~~~~~~~~~

As I walked on I began to consider a question about what I am like at my core. I’ve been wrestling with this question: At my core, am I perfect, or am I sinful? As I walked on, I asked God, and then I listened. Then I heard the strangest thing. I heard God ask me,

“What do YOU think?”

At first I felt honored that God wanted to know what I thought. Some things went through my mind, but I didn’t answer right away. Then it occurred to me that the question was the answer!

What do I think? That’s where the answer lies. If I think I am perfect, then I will act accordingly. If I think I am rotten to the core, then I will act accordingly.

“As a man thinketh, so is he.”

What a privilege it is that God created each of us with our own brain, our own mind to think with.

What an incredible freedom it is to be able to think, and to think for yourself.

Fly On Free Bird!

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Be In The Moment

Today, as I was out riding my bike, I had several opportunities to “be in the moment”.

What I’ve been learning lately, from reading the book Tapping the Source, is that I have a choice – each and every moment – of what I want to focus on.

It is an absolutely beautiful fall day. The temperature is in the mid-70s. There’s a slight breeze. There is a wide array of colors being displayed by several different species of trees. It couldn’t be a better day to go for a bike ride in the forest preserve – aside from the fact that it rained all day yesterday, leaving the path slippery with lots of wet leaves.

I rode my bike for a little over 12 miles today. That took me about an hour to accomplish. An hour. For an hour I was surrounded by beauty.

But, that’s not all I encountered. Because of the beautiful day, there were a lot of other people out enjoying the free park trails as well. In general, there were people just…out.

For instance, there was one man walking along the path, who, as I was passing by him, looked at me with this look as though he was going to spit in my face. I guess some “walkers” don’t like us bike riders being on “their” path.

There were several instances where I had to stop my momentum and slow way down because of pedestrians in both lanes, moving in opposite directions, meeting at the exact same time I would be passing them.

Then, of course, we can’t forget the hot-shot in his fancy car coming out of the Starbucks drive-through, talking on his cell phone, not paying attention to his surroundings… Had I not stopped for him, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now, that’s for sure.

Yes, there were several moments along the way today where I literally wanted to bash some people’s heads in, break their necks, or just zap them into oblivion. I wanted to hang on to those angry feelings for a while and fantasize about getting my revenge.

But…that’s all they were…moments.

After each one of those moments had passed, I had the conscious awareness to realize that, hey, that moment is passed. It’s over. It’s gone. That’s not the moment I’m having right now. Remember, I said that my bike ride took about an hour. Roughly 60 minutes. Do you know how many moments there are in a minute? There’s a LOT! I had a LOT of moments. Only a handful were “bad” moments. Imagine, being surrounded by all that beauty and letting a few bad moments destroy the many other wonderful moments I decided to have.

While I may not be able to control all of the circumstances in each of my moments, I don’t have to dwell on those moments. Instead, I can choose to be in each new moment, leaving old moments behind, in the past.

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