Wednesday, June 28, 2023

What Is Yours To See?

There are parts of Mindfulness for Beginners, authored by Jon Kabat-Zinn, to which keep returning. I really dig the question "What is yours to see?" Kabat-Zinn writes: "This is a great question to ponder, to make your own, to let live inside your bones and your pores, and to guide your life." It could be an act of service, it could be a vocation. It could be small, it could be big. He writes: "Maybe you can't see what is somebody else's to see. But maybe, just maybe, you can see what is yours to see" (p. 75). 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


In Mindfulness for Beginners, one of the terms that stands out is selfing, defined by author Jon Kabat-Zinn as "the tendency to put ourselves at the absolute center of the universe" (p. 40). This reminds me of Charles Derber’s The Pursuit of Attention. Throughout the book, Derber talks about the cultural tendency to be self-oriented. I wrote about Derber's book at Everyday Sociology Blog a few years ago: "Tired and anxious, we become preoccupied with our own problems. Our capitalist system and individualistic culture cultivates a survivalist mentality." 

Back to Mindfulness for Beginners...Kabat-Zinn suggests we catch ourselves when we are self-oriented and self-preoccupied, and notes "...we don't have to automatically and with no awareness fall into the habits of self-identification, self-centeredness, and selfing. What is more, if we are open to looking at ourselves afresh, we can readily see that these thought-habits actually distort reality, create illusions and delusions, and ultimately imprison us" (p. 42). 

Monday, June 26, 2023

This Is It

I like the section on non-striving in Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn (pp. 127-129):

Non-striving "sounds really subversive, even un-American. We are proverbial go-getters, megadoers. We could re-name our species 'human doers.' As a culture, we are really into doing, making progress, and always needing to get somewhere."

"Non-striving is related to the timeless quality of the present moment we call now...It involves realizing that you are already here. There's no place to go, because the agenda is simply to be awake...What happens now is what matters."

"Even the tiniest bit of reminding ourselves that "this is it," that we are alive now, that we are already here, can make a huge difference. For in fact, as we have seen, the future that we desire to get to--it is already here. This is it!"

"This moment is as good as any other. In fact, it's perfect. Perfectly what it is. And this includes everything that you might think of as its imperfections."

Sunday, June 25, 2023

What Does it Mean to Children to See Adults Act This Way?

I was fully in the moment at yesterday's baseball game. I sat on my bucket keeping score, watching the game attentively. Opposing coaches were unhappy with the umpire. More than once they complained about calls. Finally one of them truly lost their temper. I teach a Social Interaction course. It's captivating to me to watch an umpire interact with frustrated and angry coaches. The umpire has power, yet in youth baseball the umpire is often a young man. In this case, it's a high schooler interacting with grown men. It's hard for a young man to not be intimidated in the moment. He held firm, held his own, and tossed the umpires. I was impressed by how the young man handled the situation. With regard to the coaches, my question sounds judgmental, but it's not meant to be. It's honestly an honest question: What does it mean to baseball playing children to see adults act this way? I am not always 100% calm and composed. Like anyone, I'm subject to losing my patience and losing my cool. I've unraveled in public before. It's important to check our temperature, to check ourselves, and to consider what it means to the children among us when our cool leaves us. 

Monday, June 12, 2023

The Rollercoaster Ride

Yesterday's baseball game was tied up in the last inning. Our team batted in the bottom of the last inning. Runner on second base. Kid hits a weak ground ball. Runner on second should immediately run to third base in the situation. He doesn't. He hesitates. Fielder throws to first base to get the out. Runner now runs to third base, drawing a throw. It's an errant throw. Because of the error, the runner is able to easily score. Ballgame over. You take the win however you get it. Baseball will drive you mad. Textbook baserunning in the situation would've drawn no throw, because the runner would've advanced to third base when the ball was on the ground. But because of his hesitation--technically a mistake--he unintentionally provokes a hurried throw that sails past the third baseman. It wasn't by design, but it worked in our favor. 

During warmups, our team looked crisp. We had a smooth, clean warmup, and felt good about our pre-game preparation. We observed the other team having a warmup that looked sloppy. They didn't look dialed in. I wondered to myself if there is such a thing about the science of warmups. Over the years I haven't noticed a completely clear connection between warmup quality and game outcome. In this instance, a good warmup and less than quality warmup put the teams at a tie game heading into the last inning of the game. And a bad throw concludes the game.

As with a lot of contests, there are dozens if not hundreds of factors involved. It's a rollercoaster, and sometimes you just have to enjoy the ride. 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Air Quality Index

Living in Buffalo, we're accustomed to long winters, and worrying about hazardous road conditions due to ice and snow. Now, suddenly, we pay attention to air quality index. The weekday routine for my 12-year-old is to come home from school and immediately ask if he can go to his friend's house. On Tuesday we said no because of the air quality. He reacted as if he was being punished. Telling him we were trying to preserve his safety probably sounded like bullshit. Or maybe it felt too much like being told to stay home during Covid quarantine in 2020. Last night, his baseball game was cancelled due to the air quality, and he handled it well, surprisingly. Today's air quality index, by number, is better than yesterday, but it feels much worse to me in terms of discomfort to throat and eyes. The meteorologists say it will improve here by tomorrow. It's weird to be stuck inside on what would otherwise be a pleasant June day. 

The stores are all open and the entertainment is streaming. I recommend the first season of Somebody Somewhere. 

Update: having just completed episode 4 of season 2, I also recommend the second season of Somebody Somewhere. The vodka drinking then bike riding scene is one of my favorite scenes in the series so far.