"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment." - Henry David Thoreau
Having wished you a Merry Christmas in my last two blogs, I was preparing to wish you a Happy New Year. Then I started thinking about the years, decades, centuries and all of humanity's measurements of time even down to our divisions of months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds and nanoseconds. We believe all these measurements of time are so important to all of us. But are they? Really?
As humans, we are constantly regretting the past or waxing nostalgic about the "good ole' days". Alternatively, we are anticipating, fearing or preparing for we know not what in our futures. We spend so much of our time in the past and future that we neglect to enjoy the people and the things with us in the here and the now. We think the New Year will bring us a new start, a time for renewal, a time for resolutions to make us better people - all in the future, in the New Year, but the New Year never comes, just like tomorrow never comes. We have only here and now to do good things, to love and be loved, to make peace, to forgive and to be forgiven.
So, yes, I wish you a very Happy New Year filled with all the people and the things you love. I wish you joy each day. But most of all, I wish you a very Happy "Here and Now", and peace for eternity. For what is eternity? It is the here and the now.
Click on the image above to be totally immersed by the here and the now, the eternity of our universe as captured by the Hubble telescope. If you have more time I invite you to click on the box entitled Music of the Cosmos for another awesome experience.
Gerald M. Sliva
Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness - great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy. - Jim Rohn
This year you get two Christmas blogs for the price of one. I had just published my Christmas greeting and blog when my buddy Moe sent me an email about a little boy who was at the Mall waiting in a long line to see Santa. He asked, "Where is the line to see Jesus?" In a feeble attempt at humour, I told Moe that we are all in that line, but we are not necessarily eager for the meeting. After saying that I started thinking about the fact that some people know that they will not live to see Christmas.
Not to be too melancholy, but there are many people who experience real hardship, stress, illness, and even death. These trials are painful at any time of the year, but they can be especially amplified when they occur near Christmas. So, here I wish to focus on and pay tribute to some people who volunteer their time, energy and love to try to help those who are in terrible pain and some who are near death. Yep! We don't like to talk about it, or even think about it. But we are in a line-up, and when we get near the front of the line there are people who help. They are the volunteers at hospices and palliative care units. These are special people who visit and help comfort those in special circumstances.
When it starts getting icy and slippery on the roads and sidewalks, I try to get a little exercise by mall-walking. Each year, in that mall, just prior to Christmas, Winnipeg hospice volunteers set up a Christmas tree and accept donations. Donors hang cards on the tree in memory of loved ones. When I approached them to leave a donation and fill out a card, I told them that my sister, Barbara does volunteer work at a Palliative Care unit in Saskatoon. Thanking them for their very difficult volunteer work, I then asked if I could take their photo to use in this blog.
Do you believe in angels? They come in the form of very caring people who perform very difficult loving volunteer services.
Click on the photo to hear a Christmas song. Then please join me in wishing a very merry, pain-free and peaceful Christmas to all who suffer and to their care givers.
Gerald M. Sliva
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. - Calvin Coolidge
Happy Hanukkah to all followers of the Jewish faith. O.K. Before we get our shirt in a knot it is no secret that Jesus did not celebrate Christmas. He was a devout Jew who preached in the Synagogue, and celebrated the Passover and Hanukkah.
I don't celebrate Hanukkah, and wouldn't have even known it was Hanukkah if I hadn't been listening to the radio on Sunday, December 6 while I was preparing to write the first draft of my Christmas greeting and blog. The program host mentioned that December 6 was the beginning of the eight days of Hanukkah this year. This started me thinking about celebrations in general. When someone is celebrating a birthday, and we hear about it, we wish them a Happy Birthday. When someone is celebrating an anniversary, we wish them a Happy Anniversary. We might hardly know them. It's not our celebration, but if we hear about their celebration we wish them well.
So, I wish all followers of the Jewish faith a Happy Hanukkah. If I hear of people of any other religion celebrating a feast that promotes peace and good will, I am all for it and wish them the best.
Just as it takes nothing away from me to recognize the celebrations of others, I hope others can see that it takes nothing from them to wish me a "Merry Christmas" - the state of mind of peace, goodwill and mercy. For me, the celebration began on Sunday, December 6. That afternoon our daughter-in-law, son and granddaughter had invited us to attend the Prairie Christmas Celebration, a presentation of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The music, songs and stories were an awesome celebration of the beginning of the Christmas season. I invite you to join me in the Christmas state of mind by clicking on the Nativity scene and I invite all who desire "peace on earth and goodwill toward man" to be part of a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous, Peaceful New Year.
Gerald M. Sliva
“Songs and smells will bring you back to a moment in time more than anything else. It's amazing how much can be conjured with a few notes of a song or a solitary whiff of a room. A song you didn't even pay attention to at the time, a place that you didn't even know had a particular smell.” -- Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed
In Barking From the Front Porch I mention the warm thoughts and pleasant memories of the smell of garlic emanating from my grandmother's farm home. To this day, the smell of garlic evokes feelings of friendship, family and welcoming in my mind. Other odours, fragrances and sounds of the past bring back vivid memories.
There was the smell of the beer parlour in Kuroki Hotel. Although I was too young to legally darken its doors during business hours, I remember the strong ammonia smell of urine, spilled stale beer and ashtrays overflowing with crushed butts. My early recollections of that beer parlour were of a large, busy, smoke-filled room, generally with an abundance of laughter.
Those odours from our childhood certainly bring back memories of times gone by. The images and nostalgic recollections are vivid, but are they accurate? The smells of garlic, urine, overflowing ashtrays and stale beer created memories that will not be easily erased - nor do I wish them obliterated. But in reviewing some old photographs, I have reason to doubt the authenticity of some of those recollections. The stories I relate in my book are true, but they may have been manipulated by youthful perspective. When we are in our toddler and preteen years our view is somewhat skewed. To little people, the world seems larger. So it was with the Kuroki Hotel and its beer parlour. I remember the beer parlour as being quite massive, but this photo taken in about 1950 shows quite a tiny place - a room about twelve feet in width. Either my memory has faded or someone photo-shopped the image it to make it look smaller.
The same could be true of most of our memories. The sounds and the fragrances from the past bring back amazing recollections, but they may not always be historically accurate. We remember what we want, in the way we want - at least that's what I tell my wife when we differ in our reminiscences. I remember them correctly! Then we have another debate.
Gerald M. Sliva
Still Barking! Blog of