Sunday, December 13, 2009

self discipline & success


Luckily I had my camera with me walking to a meeting across campus on one of the coldest days a couple years ago. His nose and ears were as red as his shorts. I gave him a hat to warm his ears (in post processing, not for real, silly). He gets me thinking about self discipline, something I'm sure I could have developed if I'd had the willpower, ha. I have it in me in small spoonfuls. You know, one month on the treadmill, one month off.

Most of the super disciplined people I've met made me feel bad about myself. Well I guess they didn't make me feel bad, I just felt bad. I felt like they saw me as a slacker, and I didn't feel confident in slackerhood. You're a better person if you paint the peeling porch, take out the trash rather than let it overflow for two days, never eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, finish reading that book after several months, and visit all your blog friends regularly. (Oh, but some people think sitting on your computer visiting blog friends is slacking.)

Not to be a braggadocio, but I was voted Most Likely to Succeed in my high school graduating class. I know it sounds impressive. But actually, it's embarrassing, considering my high school career and my rather normal life now, and if you knew me then you might wonder about it like I do. I was an average B student, after four of my siblings before me were either valedictorian or salutatorian. Maybe if I'd actually studied I might have done all right, I mean high school isn't that hard. I was not involved in any student organizations, though I was a terrible class treasurer sophomore year who didn't do a single thing if I recall. It was risky electing me to that job, as you'll see below.

My co-recipient of the Most Likely to Succeed award was Frank Fitzgerald. Here we are in the yearbook photo. Someone thought it would be cute to photograph us sneaking money out of the cafeteria's cash register. See what I mean about risky?

Now Frank was a worthy recipient and a high achiever who didn't make me feel bad. A straight A student, he went on to be elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Oh, I found him in wiki on his grandfather's page - his namesake Frank D. Fitzgerald who was Michigan's governor from 1935-36. Guess what, while he was Governor the state budget was balanced!

In our small town, Frank and I lived a few blocks apart, on presidential streets - I lived first on Harrison, then Lincoln, and Frank lived in a big red brick house on Jefferson (across the street from Loring!). Like Thomas Jefferson, Frank was a redhead. If he hadn't died suddenly at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY, on a business trip December 9, 2004, maybe Frank would have gone on to run for governor some day, following his grandfather's path. I heard an owl thrum the morning I read about his sudden death in the paper, leaving his wife Ruth and two kids. I think he was saying good-bye. Before our spree as criminal partners robbing the till, we started out as lil chefs side by side in kindergarten making applesauce and butter at Holbrook Elementary and went through every grade together until graduation.

I was never ambitious like Frank. No career goals. I was, and am, a starer out of windows. Why was I voted Most Likely to Succeed alongside the class valedictorian and future public servant? Was it because I was a non-rebellious PK (preacher's kid)?

I'm still an average person in the echelon of success, but I have a supremely comfortable, healthy and happy life.

Of course the question is, what is success and how is it measured?

Vincent van Gogh, also a PK, was a miserable failure in relationships with women and in various careers before he decided to create beauty. Famously, he sold just one painting to someone other than his dear brother Théo, who supported him. When I stood and turned slowly in the middle of the van Gogh gallery in the Orsay, surveying the bright palette and overwhelmed with blue, I wept. I bet no one voted him Most Likely to Succeed.

I think when you join discipline with passion, the world benefits - though when you're passionate the discipline doesn't really come hard. But self-control for its own sake, about the "shoulds" someone somewhere has written in the sky, just makes me feel like a slacker, 'cause I will always stare out of windows, whether or not the trash needs emptying or the book I've been reading for a year still has 88 pages to go.



Susan said...

Ruthie, I believe you have fulfilled your title of "Most Likely to Succeed" much better than I fulfilled my valedictorian status. If staring out windows makes you the writer that you are, then I say bring on more windows!

I felt very sad reading about Frank's sudden death. Even though he accomplished so much in his life, I wager that he had a lot more in him to give.

I think I should do more staring out of windows instead of staring at the computer screen. ;)

CottageGirl said...

Brrrr... the picture of that boy running without hardly any clothes makes me want to drink some more chai tea!

I think, my dear Ruth, that if you asked old schoolmates of yours if they thought that you were successful, the vast majority would shout, "YES!"

What makes a person successful? I used to think that the golfer who's been stealing the headlines lately was one big success story.

As I get older, my measure of success is happiness. Rich, poor, famous or not. Are you happy? If sitting staring out the window makes you happy, then continue on! If staying in your PJ's all Sunday long makes you happy then go for it! Life is too short for regrets!

Happy Sunday, Ruth, from this midwestern girl in her PJ's!

ellen abbott said...

Really, what is success? Becoming a public servant? Getting rich? Standing on your own? Being happy? Loving and being loved?

The world needs dreamers too (she says as she stares out the window).

Don said...

aahh success. what would we do without Ruth successfully filling a niche in our lives. I know she fills a huge one in mine...and very successfully.

Keep staring out the windows. Hey, maybe we'll get around to washing them this year!

Kat said...

Success to me is living the life you love. I am doing just that, even though it may involve staring out the kitchen window watching the birds.

Gayle Carline said...

I'm not certain if we're able to judge our own successes as well as we can look on others' lives and judge theirs. My dad's relatives think he's a success because he's never had his house or his car repossessed. I doubt if my dad considers himself such a success - he battles depression and alcoholism (via the "white-knuckle drunk" non-treatment program).

I don't of myself in terms of success. I've got a wonderful family, I'm doing something I love (writing) and I've got animals around me, including my childhood dream of having a horse. The family sometimes drives me crazy, the writing business requires tough skin, and I can't figure out why the cat throws up on the carpet instead of the tile. But I'm content, which is a better yardstick for me than success.


shicat said...

Hey,don't beat yourself up,(this is what people tell me too, as I run through my list of flaws).We can turn this lemon into lemonade,and start the first ever starers club. We could meet quarterly and of course you could be the treasurer. Our meeting would consist of window shopping then findind a high in the sky window to stare out of. No need to take notes, or talk for that matter, we could just stare,inspiration would follow, I'm sure. You are more fortunate then me you can stare out the window on to your property.

I have 3 books started and one painting,discipline? Maybe today I'll get motivated.Who knows maybe even take a run in a bikini,not that will cause stares

Barry said...

I was the victim of a meme in Highschool (not that I knew what a meme was in those days): if I was intelligent, I wouldn't have to work at getting good grades. And the converse, if I had to work to get grades, it meant I wasn't intelligent.

So I didn't do the work and didn't get good grades and didn't think of myself as intelligent.

It took University to turn me around. Fortunately.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your dedication to detail is evident in everything you present...
I admire it so ...

I had a friend in Grade 7 who was the most intelligent person I had ever met ... and he was funny too... He was accidentally hung while swinging on ropes in the haymow of his family's horse barn.. I will never forget that tragedy... The thoughts of what the world missed out on by his young demise has stayed with me forever...

♥ Kathy said...

Beautifully written ♥ I'm a little of both..a slacker but only when all my work is done :)

Vagabonde said...

This is a post to think about. What is success? I believe it is a very personal feeling. It is something that can be defined by you – you cannot let others decide it for you, because everyone has a different opinion. I think it depends on your outlook – some may think to be a millionaire is to be successful, others to have a loving family life. I feel that to be happy with your circumstances and to make others happy is pretty close to a successful life. Looking outside the window, at nature, at the birds, at flowers, trees and the sky “recharge notre âme” maybe in English could be translated as recharge our soul? Then when you are feeling fully charged and optimistic you can tackle what is important and let go of the rest – to have time to look outside your window. I could look at your picture of snow and weeds for a long time.

Renee said...

I love this post Ruth.

You are beautiful.

I am sorry to hear that your school chum died. I bet the owl was him.

I think looking out windows would be a nice thing to do for lots of the day. Otherwise we might be Martha's who never rest but make pie after pie all day long.

Love Renee xoxoxo

NJ said...

You've made me think. I read somewhere recently that Success means making a difference. Think of all the celebreties in the world that are deemed to be successful. Do they have happiness? Do we think Tiger feels very happy these days. Although I only know you through the blog it seems to me that you are a content person. Possibly you feel a bit guilty for being content and not striving for more professional. I say just enjoy what most would say is a wonderful life!

The Bug said...

I come from a long line of underachievers on my dad's side of the family. All of them are brilliant, but although one uncle retired from the army & was pretty successful in business until he retired, the rest are content to be janitors & UPS truck drivers. I have similar inclinations - I don't have that drive for success. I just want to be content.

freefalling said...

It seems to be something we all think about, doesn't it?
Success and stuff.
Makes me wonder what it is that drives people who have loads of self-discipline?
Does it mean that those of us without it are hedonists?

Anonymous said...

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Montag said...

I know exactly what you're talking about, although I was never voted most likely to do anything in school.

There's a time for everything: Noah had grandkids and such when he started to build an ark.
When he started construction, his neighbors didn't act like Noah was Warren Buffett, everyone clamoring for a piece of the ark; they acted like he was a silly, old fool.

Well, he was the most important man in the world for a brief time...

Everything in time, kiddo.

Shattered said...

Oh, but success is such a subjective term... I really think that we are the only ones who can truly determine success within ourselves. A happy, healthy, and comfortable life? That sounds supremely successful.

P.S. I was voted most athletic and I have a desk job now... ;)

Relyn said...

I think when you join discipline with passion, the world benefits

I think you are exactly right. Passion without discipline often just makes a big mess. But, with discipline, miracles can happen.

ds said...

As you will be able to tell from the hour I'm writing this, I have no discipline (schedule--HAH!), or at least none that is recognizable as "discipline." But of "shoulds" there are plenty, which a very dear friend tried her best to get me to let go. Unsuccessfully.

Staring out of windows has fed your passion, which has given you discipline, which gives us wonderful, thoughtful things to read. Like this. Thank you.

And I do believe that owl was Frank...

Ginnie said...

I have often thought to myself, Ruth, that there would be very little for anyone to say at my funeral...and that's maybe how I think of success?! It almost makes me cry. BUT I also know that success is not always something we actually figure out about ourselves because, well, because we know ourselves too well. I remember when Bill was doing the SIMA tests years ago to discover what makes people tick, and the two main ingredients were "What do you enjoy doing?" and "What do you do well?" Both and. Maybe that's the measure of success? And if so, I'm guessing you've become quite successful at staring out of windows!

Shari Sunday said...

I had to think about your comments for a while. There is something about you that shines through on your blog. I suspect your classmates saw the same thing. I certainly wasted opportunities and made some bad decisions in my life. I realize now that I have come to admire people who show courage and optimism in the face of disappointment. Those same people are tolerant and generous to others. And they have integrity. That is how I want to judge myself as well.

julie king said...

i came here to see snow photos and you did not disappoint!

in high school i was voted most likely to write and publish a book. still working toward that one! i love the high school photo. what year was that? i graduated in 1971 and i'm guessing yours is around 1975 or so -- just by the hair, etc.

Loring Wirbel said...

Frank Fitzgerald (and Walt Malkewitz, in my graduating class) were very different from the typical uber-valedictorian high achievers you find today. They had a vision of the kind of work they wanted to do, the kind of world they wanted to inhabit. I'm afraid too many 4.4-grade-average, drive-yourself-until-you-drop kids in high school today, or forcing themselves through med or law school, have only a diffuse desire to achieve and excel, without asking themselves what they want to do this for (except a lot of money). Kind of like the teens who desire only fame, and don't distinguish between infamy for robbing a bank and fame for a story well written or a song well sung.

I don't think Frank would have been governor, because just before he died, he was expressing distaste for the entire political process, the way the Republican Party in Michigan had been hijacked by the fairy-tale-believing irrational screaming right. Frank was born for the world of his grandfather or father, not for the 21st century. But he might have written a dynamite book about his experiences if he had lived longer!

As for slacker, dear Ruth, you are the antithesis of slack. Your quiet moments are the muse catching you. Slacking requires lots of dope and/or beer and a TV set. And there are plenty of people who measure their lives by the guilt they feel about not accomplishing something else in one given day. I leave you with the lyrics to Cheryl Wheeler's "Unworthy":

I'm unworthy, and no matter what I'm doing
I should certainly be doing something else
And it's selfish to be thinking I'm unworthy
All this me, me, me, me, self, self, self, self, self
If I'm talking on the phone I should be working on the lawn
Which looks disgraceful from the things I haven't done
If I'm working on the lawn I should be concentrating on
Those magazines inside, since I have not read one

I should learn how to meditate and sew and bake
And dance and paint and sail and make gazpacho
I should turn my attention to repairing
All those forty year old socks there in that bureau
I should let someone teach me to run Windows
And learn French that I can read and write and speak
I should get life in prison for how I treated my parents
From third grade until last week

I should spend more time playing with my dog
And much less money on this needless junk I buy
I should send correspondence back to everyone
Who's written, phoned or faxed since junior high
I should sit with a therapist until I understand
The way I felt back in my mom
I should quit smoking, drinking, eating, thinking
Sleeping, watching TV, writing stupid songs

I should be less impatient when the line just takes forever
'Cause the two cashiers are talking
I should see what it's like to get up really early rain or shine
And spend three hours walking
I should know CPR and deep massage and Braille
And sign language and how to change my oil
I should go where the situation's desperate
And build and paint and trudge and tote and toil

I should chant in impossible positions
Till my legs appear to not have any bones
I should rant at the cops and politicians
And the corporations, in indignant tones
I should save lots of money to leave Audubon
Plus all the rocks and animals and plants
I should brave possibilities for plotting plums of problems
Prob'ly blossomed, plausibly from
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah I'm unworthy

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bad penny said...

When I opted to be a stay at home mum a friend told me to get a part time job so I would be a good role model to my children - I answered completely straight " I know I am a good role model to my children "

I got a prize aged five for General Excellence. I think it was because I was good, quiet & had long golden hair which looked nice at the prize giving !

I was then frowned upon by another friend for not being ambitious career wise !

Oh well can't please all of the people all of the time !

Peter said...

I’m not convinced that an “average person” could write a post like this one! Don’t worry; you are certainly not “average”!
“Average” or not; I believe that the issue is to be yourself, as much as – reasonably – possible ; there may be some family and society restrictions / obligations! So, it’s not always so easy; we have all kinds of pressures on us, how we are supposed to be, to behave... Anyhow, I have a feeling that you have learnt to be Ruth and that people around you are happy with that! So...just keep on being Ruth and we will all be happy!!

Loring Wirbel said...

P.S. I used to have the 1974 yearbook and distinctly remember that picture of you and Frank. Now I'm left with nothing but a battered 1975, and dim memories of years before and since....

Annie said...

I love the photos, all of them! I was the school genious too... But I never turned out that successful after all - in their minds! But i'm pretty happy myself and that's what counts. I never wanted a career. I wanted a happy family and adorable kids. And I wanted to write - that's still something that bothers me. So it seems that you need to do something that feels important in your heart to feel content. It's the mission of life.

Babs-beetle said...

I think to succeed in life is to find your inner peace and radiate it into others lives. I think you do that beautifully through this blog and, I've no doubt, other ways. Gazing out of windows must be a necessity!

carl h. sr. said...

"Rather normal life" I don't THINK so Dear Ruthie!
I sure do like that blogging without obligation thing you have.
I like it a lot! I tried to put it on mysight,but I have zero skills for that kind of thing.Pooh!
Love you child of the earth,

Patricia said...

Hi Ruth,
Despite the cool customer in the opening photo, this is a warm posting full of love. One of my favorite theologians, Teilhard de Chardin said that the future is more beautiful than all the pasts. You are just getting started with your success story!

Nancy said...

Well it sounds like you are a great success to me. As always, a joy to come visit.

Ruth said...

Sister Susie Susie Susie, of the people I know, you are one of just a couple who knows life and living. As for being a gold friend, you are the valedictorian. Thank you.

I wish I'd known Frank in the second half of his life. From what Loring wrote, he must have been a very interesting adult.

In a way, staring into this screen is like staring out at the world, no?


Ruth said...

My dear CottageGirl, oh yes, I have been thinking about the golfer who squandered his phenomenal success. But who knows, maybe the best part of his life - the real life learning - is now ahead of him. How does a person face that kind of humiliation, especially self inflicted? What an amazing challenge. I predict a book deal a few years down the road. And won't that be a great success?

I really enjoyed reading your comment Sunday when I was still in my PJs. It made me so happy. You are a beautifully happy person, CottageGirl.

Ruth said...

Ellen, my artisan friend, you get to do what you love, and you do it well. I think you make a living at it too. I don't think there are many who have found that success.

I wonder too if success is accepting things as they are. I mean, keep trying to improve ourselves and the world, but not resisting the harder moments.

When a student leaves my office feeling better than when they came in, I feel successful!

Ruth said...

Donnie, what a nice thing to say. Relative to you, I'd say I fill a big niche all right, right here on the red leather chair. Would you please get me another cup of coffee? Oh, it's only 4 and you're not up yet. Ok, I'll get it myself . . .

Very funny about them windows, Mister. They did get washed in 2009 - we had a wedding, remember?

Ruth said...

Hi, Kat. My feelings about staring out windows shifted when I read about Thoreau spending half a day sitting on a chair staring out his front door. I became more accepting of it as an important practice.

SwedeHart said...

It must run in the family... staring out the window while chores wait to be completed. It drives Swede crazy. He's such a never get off schedule, disciplinarian, which I'm of course thankful for... most of the time:) We have been asking ourselves these questions... what am I doing with my life? As life becomes something to just sit back and enjoy, as the accomplishments don't seem as important as the time spent sipping tea, are we going to look back and regret not trying harder?

Ruth said...

Gayle, I enjoyed your comment. Ain't it the truth?

You are spot on about not being able to recognize our own success. I tell students this all the time, to ask their friends and family what they think they're good at. Sometimes we are so good at something - it comes so naturally - we don't see it as the extraordinary thing it is.

Ruth said...

Cathy, my woman! There is no end to the window gazing we could do. No taking notes! Wow.

Do you know that bird watchers are driven people? I have a friend who travels far and wide to get a glimpse of one after hearing about a sighting. I hope it isn't just to check it off her list. I don't think so, she's pretty cool.

Ruth said...

Barry, I never thought of it that way, that's brilliant.

Many first year college students I meet are not ready for it. I do think their years in university can help them get engaged with learning. Unfortunately some just get the degree and don't really get understanding, which is the most important kind of learning, I think.

Ruth said...

Oh Gwen. How does a parent live with that tragedy? How does a friend?

Thank you for your kind words that mean so much to me.

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy, hehe, thank you. I use the ruthie method: work a while, slack a while, then back to work, then back to slack. I like it.

dutchbaby said...

Ha ha. I subscribe to the interval-work ethic that you decribed to Kathy. Maybe it's the interval-slack ethic, depending upon your view of half-empty or half-full, with the slack method being half-full as in charging batteries :)

Ruth said...

Cher Vagabonde, recharging the soul. Yes. Maybe there are folks who frenetically run around and get things accomplished - and feel wonderfully fulfilled! Their son or daughter might think they have ignored them, and they don't think they are successful. I think we must all be successful at something. Even if it is being lazy. But to be a success in general is, I think, very much like what you wrote. Bravo.

Ruth said...

Renee, sweet Renee. Thank you.

We need to be like Mary, Martha's sister, to sit and listen, adore and take in the world's goodness. Thank you for sending that out, gloriously.

Ruth said...

Hi NJ. You think I sound like I feel guilty now, you should have known me 20 years ago. I am almost guilt-free these days, and I don't feel a bit bad about my habits - until I start imagining how they compare to others. I didn't know where this topic would go when I started with the photo of the runner, certainly not to Frank and comparing myself with him. It is nice to think about these things, and to realize how much more content I am today than ever in my life.

Poor Tiger, I think he will be miserable, until he gets a book deal and starts the talk show circuit.

Bella Rum said...

"a starer out of windows"

That's my professional title.

You made such a wonderful connection there about passion and discipline joining. Without discipline, passion can run amuck or simply dissipate, but without passion, discipline can become boring and even mean spirited.

A wonderful post, Ruth.

dutchbaby said...

I wrote a message prior to the 10:58 one but I must have not done the word verification correctly.

How is success measured? Your blog feeds thousands with spiritual nourishment as you describe your authentic life. That is success!

Ruth said...

Dana, who needs the stress of those high powered jobs? Even Mary Oliver said that she has not taken jobs that would require her first and best energy. She saves that for her writing. And aren't we so lucky for that! No one can write as she does.

I would pick a brilliant underachiever any day over a stupid overachiever.

Ruth said...

I laughed, Letty, because I say that word in my head sometimes when I don't push myself harder.

But you know, I think the people who are driven enjoy that, take satisfaction in it.

I must say, I'm happy when we have people over, because suddenly the house can look pretty good in a short time.

Ruth said...

I like it Anonymous spammer non-person, I like it. You go. I bet my friend Loring knows about Infowars, that site.

Ruth said...

The problem, dear Montag, is that I am getting pretty lazy. But you know what, I'm also getting more titiz about other things like writing (that's Turkish for picky/particular).

Ruth said...

Shattered, yes, I know, I so know. Thank you, dear one.

Ruth said...

Hi, Relyn, I don't like to think too much about balance ahead of time, but when I know I need it, I get it. Sometimes I get out of balance.

Ruth said...

Oh DS, it's just so hard to get rid of voices from childhood when our brains are absorbing all the "truth" of things for life. So hard to undo.

You are so sweet.

Ruth said...

Boots, I don't know what you mean about the funeral, dear heart, but well if you really think that then you have a right to cry. But it ain't so, of course, and you are surrounded by love around the world more than anyone I know, such devoted loved ones in so many places.

What do you enjoy doing, and what do you do well? This is really I think how we should raise our children. To their bent.

Ruth said...

Shari, in Luke (7:47) Jesus said about the "sinful" woman: "Why I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." That's what your comment reminded me of. It's easy to be kind and good when you have had an easy life. I really appreciate what you said.

Ruth said...

Julie, it was 1974. Being voted most likely to write and publish a book would be good motivation, I think. So maybe you were an English major too after that?

Ruth said...

Loring my friend, thank you for telling me about Frank's later thoughts, which I did not know. And I sense that you are right about Frank being born in the wrong time. He always struck me as timeless, and supremely decent, of all the kids in Grand Ledge.

"Unworthy" is the song I wrote when I was hanging laundry on the balcony in Istanbul and the kids were clammering for something and all I could think was what else I should be doing. I am stunned by these lyrics for their mirror effect.

Ruth said...

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Ruth said...

Well bad penny, the women's liberation movement was so women could do what they want, the way men could (generally). I read recently a guy named Cunningham who wrote about studies that show women are unhappier than ever. I think it's because no matter how much freedom we have, or what we accomplish, we feel guilty about what we don't accomplish.

You are cute, I love your blog.

photowannabe said...

I think success is measured by your character and not what you have done or do.
I would say you have succeeded quite well.
Its always a pleasure to visit your blog and see the wonderful pictures and join you inside your head once in a while.

bad penny said...

Hi Ruth - thanks for your comment on my T on Tuesday ....I don't think I've ever been called CUTE before !!!! xxx

Ruth said...

With friends like you, Peter, I have come to feel much more confident in myself. Merci beaucoup. With good parents, relatives and friends - and sometimes with the opposite - a person can learn to be themselves.

Be safe going to Sweden, and enjoy a Merry Christmas, my friend.

Ruth said...

And Loring, I bet your 1975 is covered with some quite savory comments and signatures.

Ruth said...

Hi Annie, kiitos. I think we are forced to compromise and regroup our expectations. Sometimes that knocks me down and I don't keep striving. I am afraid I am averse to hard work with things I don't enjoy, even if I feel it's important. As for writing, thank goodness for a blog so I don't have to write a book; that would be too hard. Sorta sad I guess.

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear Babs. I wasn't looking for any kind of congratulations in this post, I guess you know that, but thank you.

When I get totally stressed out from my job, or some other pressure, I have to find creative space - FAST. I don't know how some people stay stressed for days, weeks, months or years!

Ruth said...

Carl, so nice to see you after so long! I hope all is well.

Maybe your son can help you with the BWO thing? If you click on the crow and go to the web site, you can right click on one of the images there and save it on your computer in My Pictures. Then you can load it like normal in a Blogger gadget for Pictures. You can include a URL link in that gadget too, which is what I did.

Thank you for your kind words, my friend.

Ruth said...

Patricia, I guess the current moment is always a new birth. It's just too easy to be stuck in past moments - bad or good.

I have heard about de Chardin, thank you for the reminder. I opened a site and having read ". . . who spent the bulk of his life trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, most specifically Christian theology with theories of evolution" I think I need to read his stuff. Maybe you have a recommendation for what to start with?

Ruth said...

Nancy, I'm trying to relax into the moment. Thank you, it's nice that you and others think I am a success. I was not looking for compliments though. I just want to be honest.

Ruth said...

Rachel!!! Wow, it's been such a long time! How are you and Swede? Yes, Uncle Don and I have our differences this way too, but we seem to get through it all right.

I suppose we might have some regrets if we don't do more, I dunno. If our standard is other than who we are, then I guess there will be disappointment looking back. I am trying to bring together the person I really am with the person I want to be. I've gotten more realistic in the last couple decades, and so now the gap isn't as wide. I don't say that with egoistic pride. I just mean that my expectations have changed.

Here's a big hug from me, Rachel. Hi to Swede and his dad and Zabrina and Wyatt!

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, yeah! We've been using that same analogy - recharging batteries. Car batteries recharge by running and going somewhere, but camera batteries just sit and charge. I like both models. Sometimes I go out and do something, and that recharges me. There is a saying: It is easier to do something than not to do something. I think that means you eliminate angst when you get something done. But I LOVE doing dishes, for instance, in between writing or visiting blogs. My attention span is short!

Ruth said...

Dear Bella, thanks. Sometimes I get tired of words, don't you? Other times I am in love with them.

I love how you write.

Ruth said...

Dutchbaby, hmm, I don't like word verification. Wish I could lose it, but I like spam even less. Too bad about your comment.

I don't know if this blog feeds thousands - wow - but I get so much out of it, especially in the comments and connection with friends around the world. It is such a treasure knowing you.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sue, it's nice when you visit too.

I think blogging has shown us how big our hearts can get. Sometimes it's overwhelming though. Then I have to go look out a window for a while.

Ruth said...

bad penny, you have a very appealing sense of humor that you convey very well in your blog. Finding a voice is important here, and yours is unique.

Jeanie said...

I so think you are "succeeded!" Loved this post, the look at your past and more! Although that runner scares me - lots tougher than I! Catching up -- slow but sure. If it wasn't for pre-posting, I wouldn't have a blog at all this month and am such a bad visitor...!

(I added verification, too, for the same reason...)

shoreacres said...

When you're passionate the discipline doesn't really come hard...

True, that. But discipline without passion is even more critical, albeit more difficult. It's more than self-control for its own sake or those shoulds that the world attempts to impose.

Discipline when passion has flown is putting one foot in front of the other on that snowy, unmarked path through a sear landscape, betting with every step that something around that bend will rouse passion again, flush an image or surprise a half-frozen memory into flight.

We just have to keep walking.

rauf said...

Objections Ruth !

success in what ?

oh this keyboard is a failure Ruth, stupid keyboard. Giving trouble. i have to get a new one.

Don't you think you are quite successful Ruth ? Sweet little family, what more success you want ? Noworries in life, of course you have worries about the weather and the future of your country.

i think i am quite successful too Ruth, absolutely no money in my pocket, no savings, except for the camera books and music i own nothing, i can't say i own because all my friends claim ownership of my things. When somebody borrows my iPod i warn them not to touch the collection.

oh dicipline, oh deeah ! red underline here, wrong spelling, i am such a mess with dicipline, even the spelling is wrong and i am too lazy to copy your spelling Ruth. i am so allergic to diciplined people, health freaks, i jump when see them and run in the opposite direction.

Ann said...

did you give the poor boy some brandy to warm up?

Nathalie said...

Dear Ruth, reading you is means entering a world of such rich contents that it is frustrating just to leave a short comment. That top photo and what you did with it brought a huge smile on my face :-)))) but then your story as it developed brought in many more thoughts that would deserve to be explored further.

Then I moved on to your gorgeous photo of steps in the snow, and then your delicate photos of figs and pomegranate and my heart sinks before so much beauty. And then the story of your years in Istambul.... We'd need a solid evening by the fire to chat freely about all these things and the questions they raise and...
thank you Ruth for putting so much in this blog. What a gift to us.

Ruth said...

Ha Jeanie, I am succeeded. We've been family talking about succession of our family cottage - it's taking months to work it out. The word "succession" has taken on a whole new realm of meaning for me.

Well anyway you got me thinking about both words being from the same Latin root, succedere: to go (from) under, follow, prosper. So maybe originally to succeed just meant to keep going!

Ruth said...

I guess you mean stoicism, Linda. I'm not very disciplined that way. But I guess I do go to work every day, even though I don't much feel like it. And I keep answering email from students when I don't feel like it. Getting a paycheck is my reward.

Keeping up a house takes discipline. And there are rewards of living in a nice place.

Ok, I'm trying to think of things to be disciplined about when there isn't passion besides those. Maybe certain relationships.

Hmm, thinking thinking.

Ruth said...

Yes I agree rauf. Success for me is being content, not wanting more, being happy, loving and being loved by husband, children, in-laws, extended family and friends. I don't ask for anything else. I am successful.

When I started writing this I didn't know where it was going. Started out with discipline. Then got to thinking about success from discipline, like that chap running. That got me thinking about the silly high school award. Then I wondered if anyone from high school who voted for me would think I was successul, or rather, what did they expect then? I'm guessing most of them would think I'm successful because I'm happy. But maybe at age 17 or 18 they had something different in mind. I don't know.

Ruth said...

Ann, he actually looked at me with a kind of dirty look (maybe he was just focused on his run), and I just said as I walked by snapping his picture, "You asked for it" and I smiled.

Ruth said...

You are very sweet, Nathalie. Your words were such a joy and comfort when I read them today. I hope you will have a wonderful Christmas with your family. It must be just beautiful in Avignon this season, especially at night.

Thank you so much for coming by, I love seeing you.

SwedeHart said...

I don't think you realize how hilarious it sounded to hear you say you've gotten more serious in the last couple decades. If that's the case, I really hope there is such a thing as eternal life, because a couple decades probably isn't going to cut it for most of us!

Ruth said...

Rachel, not long enough?

shoreacres said...

Oh, my. Stoicism would have been the last thing I meant - stoicism isn't appealing to me at all, even in the abstract, and I don't think I have a Stoic bone in my body.

But I can't think just now of a different way to put it. I'll have to think, too! I do know that I think of discipline as a joyful thing, freeing beyond belief. It's like structure in writing. The better your structure, the more emotion, plot complexity, character development you can support. The more consistent my discipline, the more experience my life can support.

Or something like that...

Ruth said...

Linda, I do know what you mean about the freedom that structure creates, so true. Like in raising kids. And definitely like in writing. I have always enjoyed poetry writing assignments when they were formal. I could go nuts within the form, and it was very freeing. Thanks for helping me think of that as discipline.