INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for August 21, 2011: Have you ever gotten up early and simply watched the day unfold?

This week’s question from INTROSPECTION, The Board Game comes not from the game but from my patio as I watch this day unfold….so the answer to this question for me, is a definite, “YES!”   My home is in Whitney, Texas which is about 50 miles South and West of Ft. Worth.  I am up early this morning and while Jan sleeps, I thought that my morning encounter with the day would be my question of the week!  It is about 6:30 and the sun has not quite come up over the tree line.  I hear the crows in the distance making their morning calls for the day to begin.  It is a very still morning with not even a hint of wind.  There is a deer casually walking across the 10th tee box just North of my house….something spooked him though, because he has taken off running down the 10th fairway and then disapeared into the woods…Ok, I see…a groundskeeper in his golf  cart must have startled him.   Soon,  a lady walking her  two dogs appears  on the cart path just across the fairway from my house.  I see another groundskeeper mowing the 9th green as they prepare for the earliest of Sunday morning golfers who will be attempting to beat the heat of this day.  The usual array of insects and other assorted bugs make their appearance on the patio….do they know that I am watching them and that they had better not test their fate by getting too close to my lawn chair?  I glance over to the field next to my house and it looks so dry….about the color of wheat.  The sun continues  to pull itself up over the treeline as it begins to cast a morning shadow.  A swallow just made his appearance as he flew by my head….they seem to like my patio as a roosting place and are surprised to see me sitting here….they flew so close that they made my skin chill for a moment.  Are they not aware of my space or am I in there’s?    There are two early morning walkers making their way up the cart path toward the clubhouse.  A bird in the trees behind me starts to make that fussing noise….upset by some other bird I suspect.  The morning swallows continue to flutter about my head…guess they don’t know that I am writing about them!  Maybe they don’t see me?  I clapped my hands just to make sure but they continue to do their morning ritual in spite of my presence.  They are putting on quite a show this morning….I think that I am just annoying them because the morning is uaually theirs and their close proximity tells me that I am in the way of their normal morning flight.  The sun is coming up over the trees now.  A very slight breeze arrives with the sun.  It is so quiet…the air show continues though.  There was a noise coming from the golf cart barn….the carts are being unplugged and made ready for another day.  A dragonfly wizzes by….they fly so fast and can change directions so quickly.  I see the first cart of golfers pulling past the clubhouse going for the first tee box to see what the first golf shot of the day will look like?  Two competing birds are calling…one from the trees in the West and another from the East.  One bird swoops down to the 10th fairway….it is greener there where they have watered the course in the midst of  drought.  The hornets are also awake…..I heard one buzzing behind my head…..more silence mostly….except for the birds that occassionally break the quiet.  Another cart heads out towards the putting green where its occupants will  practice getting that little ball in the hole or so they hope….a preparation ritual for the game which is about to take place.  Two more golf carts roll out….activity is definately picking up in the rather cool morning as compared to the heat which will greet them shortly.  So, it is just another day….it has awakeded and there is little need for more detail….all creatures both large and small have started their day.   Iwill therefore just take a moment  to be grateful….oops…a little finch just flew in to say good morning….he was so close and unafraid but also ready to fly quickly away….he just came by to inquire I suppose….to be seen…to notice one another…to briefly experience, then move on about his day.  So close but to be quickly distant.  As I was saying, before Mr. Finch came by, I am grateful for these short moments of  tranquility with no more purpose in mind other than to be inspired by them.

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for August 14th, 2011: Does Anxiety Come to Visit you Often?

This week’s question from INTROSPECTION, The Board Game is #110 from the Psychology Section of questions.  If I was asked this question while playing the game, I would have to answer, “Yes.”  If you guessed correctly, move your game piece forward by the role of the dice!  Anxiety is a funny bird.  It can be debilitating or just an annoyance.  Fortunately for me, it more an annoyance.  I was thinking today of all the things that made me feel anxious this week.  First, I had my annual “stress test” with my cardiologist which turned out to be next year.  It was sort of a shame because I had been training all week on my exercise bike!  My second round of anxiety for the week was at work where it has been slow due to this very bad economy.  That brings up another anxiety but I am sure that anxiety is running much higher in other places, say Greece for example.  That reminds me, I really don’t like the Chinese owning a lot of our national debt…that makes me anxious.  Anyway, back to my original story, the third time that I was anxious this week was when my son called and I think that he wants to come visit pretty soon.  Normally, this would not be a problem but the last time he came for an overnight stay, he acted rather immaturely a couple of times and that made Jan angry and me, well…more disappointed.  Soooo….I had to find out where she is at before I can call him back.  That makes me anxious.  The next time I felt anxious this week was when I was reading over some of the questions while preparing this week’s blog.  One of the questions that I pondered was, “Have you done anything special for your wife or partner this week?”  I thought about it and really, I had not done anything out of the ordinary that was special.  I did the usual things like getting her morning coffee, picking up dinner during the week, putting away her clean clothes, normal household chores and the like but nothing really special.  I was feeling a little anxious in this regard so I scheduled her a massage on Saturday.  Ok…feeling better about things…anxiety gone…or was it?  We were having dinner with some relatively new friends on Saturday night…some social anxiety shows up but it is quickly dispursed once we get into the evening until the drive home from the resturant.  Our new friends take us for a tour of the Whitney Dam and surrounding areas…no big deal…go with the flow even when he got a little out of his lane while pointing things out!  Anxiety is a strange phenomena.  It is a precursory feeling that we get before we make a decision or that uneasiness that sometimes comes after a decision has been made.  It is a form of internal stress that persists until it is resolved or made better or worse with a decision…a technique of survival I suppose.  What happens when anxiety becomes overwhelming?  I often say to myself that I am turning the situation or problem over to a Higher Power….but am I really?  Do I just need a break from the problem….a respite of some kind until I can make a decision?  Or, am I waiting for direction from that Power?  I really do not know which it is but I am inclined to believe that there is some message to yourself that waits to be unopened by you when you are ready to listen.

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question for the Week of August 7th, 2011: Is Death like the Tree that Falls in the Forest but No One is There to Hear?

This week’s question from INTROSPECTION, The Board Game does not come from the game itself but from the death of an old friend of mine from the first grade.  I thought of the tree in the forest only because my friend died in June of this year and I learned of his passing only this week.  I found my friend Craig on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and tried to get in touch with him with no answer.  I tried again on Facebook and received a reply this week from his ex-wife explaining that Craig had died from cancer.  A myriad of thoughts came to my mind after I heard the sad news.  My first thought was about the tree in the forest that falls but no one is around to hear it fall.  That would be me.  I have not heard from Craig for over 40 years and each of us lived our lives oblivious to the other.  We were in the first grade together at Jefferson Davis in Dallas in 1956 and  I was touched by him through his joy of life and a smile that was unforgettable.  You know, there are always those special individuals that have so much charisma that you are drawn to them….Craig was one of those people.  I personalized his death and was angry with myself for not being able to get in touch with him earlier in his life.  It was personalized in the sense that we were about the same age and that his passing, very much reminded me of my own vulnerability and mortality.  I  thought of the breadth of life that each of us have lived unbeknownst to the other.  I just wanted to say hello and to recall some childhood memories that we sharred.  I was too late and was not able to say even goodbye.  I also thought that even though I was not in the forest to watch the tree grow and fail, Craig had many friends and family that did.  His death was not like the tree in the forest because I and others became very much aware of it.  But what of others that we do not know that pass only to the awareness of those close?  Our awareness only goes just so far past those personal boundaries….it is difficult to connect the dots beyond those boundaries.  I am glad that I tried and was able to share with his family some of those memories.  I guess that was my way of saying goodbye, not only to Craig but to part of me.  I had an immediate urge to find and contact other friends from that earlier time to learn of their journey.  It seems that connecting to the past provides some meaning for the present and for the future.  Is that not a daily task to find meaning in one’s life….to share your journey with others, to loosen some of those boundaries up a bit while you still can?  There is always time to go back to your own private world….or is there?

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for July 31, 2011: Have you been “In Love” more than Five Times in your Life?

This week’s question is #131 from the “Partners, Relationships and Marriage” section of INTROSPECTION, The Board Game.  If I were playing the game and you asked me this question, I hope you quessed “YES!”  You would be right!  I have been, “in love” more than five times in my life.  Now without getting into a debate about love and what love is or is not, I can say that I have had that very special feeling that came over me when I was looking for a life partner.  The first time that I can remember this “feeling” was when I was in high school and fell for Patricia Sutton Shaw who was in the Kimball High School Drill Team.  The only problem was that she never knew it and I never told her.  The next time I had that feeling was in the Air Force working at the Carswell AFB dental clinic and fell for Vickie Hester, a very vivacious girl from North Carolina.  She was crazy about another guy though and we were still too young to know much about life or love at that point. The next time was in graduate school where I met a beautiful girl from Ft. Worth who was going through the same degree program that I was.  We sorta were, “in love” but really just helped each other get through school.  The next time that I had that “feeling” was when I was 33 years old and got married for the first time.  Our marriage of five years was swept  away by too many financial and trust issues, so it went away. I had ”that feeling” again when I was about age 41 and met a school teacher from Lousiana who was working in Ft. Worth.  We got to the point of engagement before I decided that it was not going to work out.  She was obsessed with getting her daughter back from her previous husband and I think just wanted help and support in that endeavaor.  So long!  The next time I was “in love”  was in my second marriage at age 43.  She was a very beautiful girl from Ft. Worth also but we had absolutely nothing in common….more of an infatuation really.  She worked for the Ft. Worth Police Department which is a very close-knit group which I never became a member.  My next love and marriage was at age 49 which was a much better decision.  We had a great deal in common but the passion and touch went away after seven years.  I needed more.  Finally at age 56, I met a girl from Lewisville who had everything and more that I was looking for.  Jan is smart, pretty, full of life and loves to touch and be touched, the very important part of my life that had been missing.  Soooo, to make a very long story short, I have definitely have had “that feeling” many times in my life, often getting myself into trouble because of it!  What is it about love that made me search for it over and over again?  I remember when I was a young boy and how it felt to be held and loved.  I think that the safety and security of that feeling, once known, becomes a force to be rediscovered in mature love.  How very sweet it is to be held, loved and accepted by another person.  Are there any other desires in life that are stronger or more significant?  Maybe so,  but for me, this blissful state of being makes all other things possible.

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for July 24th, 2011: Have you ever been the Victim of a Terrorist Attack?

This week’s question from INTROSPECTION, The Board Game comes not from the game itself but from events of this week in Oslo, Norway.  If I were playing the game, I would have to say, “NO.”  While it is true that I have not been personally a victim of terrorism, I am beginning to wonder how these despicable acts of violence against innocent people just going about their everyday lives, affects all of us?  Because violence in the world is pretty common, have I become immune to the harsh reality that these kinds of acts of violence leave behind?  I decided to look a little closer at these men, the type of man, that creates such devastation.  Anders Behring Brelvik is a 32 year old Norwegian who grew up in an affluent west-end of Oslo, the son of a civil economist and a nurse.  They were divorced when he was 1 year old.  Timothy McVeigh was a 33 years old when he was put to death, his parents were divorced when he was 10 years old.  Brelvik had joined the Norwegian Army and McVeigh, the US Army.  Both used the deadly combination of fertilizer and fuel to blow up federal buildings.  Both had ties to or sympathy for militant groups that saw government as their enemy.  Both killed innocent people they did not know to make political statements.  While my initial reaction to terrorism in Norway was disbelief and disgust, I started to wonder if I too had become a victim?   While Oslo is somewhat far away from Texas, Oklahoma City is not.  The deaths in Norway, many of which were young people, brought back some of the visual memories of  those injured and dying children being carried out of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  I know that I am angry but no longer surprised by this kind of self-aggrandizing, violent lashing out.  So, while I have never had such a nightmare occur in my life, in a way, I have.  I am affected by it.  I sense the devastation.  I empathize and hurt with them.  I am so sorry that this has happened to you, again. When will we ever learn, When will we ever learn?

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for July 17th, 2011: Do you often get Angry with your Spouse or Partner?

This week’s question from INTROSPECTION, The Board Game is #21 from the “Partners, Relationships and Marriage” section of the Game!  I hope that you predicted my answer to be, “NO!”  I do not often get angry with my spouse but well, I do get angry at, shall we say, “situations.”  Last night for example, we were sitting on the porch enjoying the evening and a bowl of ice cream.  Jan says to me, why don’t we take the golf cart out for a spin before it gets too dark?  We jump in the cart that we purchased only last Christmas that was not new but seemed to be in good condition.  I have had a suspicion that the cart had issues when once this Spring,  it died for no apparent reason and Jan and the kids were pushing it home!  I had checked all the connections to the battery before and they seemed secure and we have not had a problem since but in the back of my mind, I am leary of an electrical issue.  Anyway, back to our story, we take the cart out and not far from the house, the cart dies.  This is after we had just waved at our neighbors only minutes before as we passed by.  Now, I am not so much bothered by problems that might come up, but I am more concerned that know one else knows that there is a problem!  Does any other male have this issue? It is like an ego thing. To me it was embarrassing to push the cart back to our house past the same neighbors that we had just waved at only moments before!   Well, by this time it is getting dark and when it gets dark in Whitney…it is dark!  I walk back to our house to get the car and a rope while Jan stays with the cart.  I walk a route home that will avoid the neighbors house and is a little bit longer but I at least will be able to handle the problem  by myself without help….again, another ego thing….man fixes problem, saves wife and cart without any other male helping!  I walk home, get the car and rope, return to the scene and tie the cart to a bracket on the car.  At first Jan drives the car while I stay in the cart.  She pulls off too quickly and the rope breaks.  Ok, lets try it again!  Now, remember, it is pitch dark by now and I am hearing these wolves and things in the night and there are mosquitoes hovering around the headlights of the car…not fun!  This time, I’ll drive the car!  I reattach the rope and drive the car very slowly and we are doing fine for a while, then the slack in the rope gets tangled in the weels of the golf cart ( that Jan was driving) and the cart comes to a screeching halt!  Have I told you yet that Jan told me two times that I should have charged the battery more before we took it out (when we have headlights on the cart that are just beaming away!)???  Have I told you yet that Jan says to me, “You brought a rope but not a knife?”  Anyway, I needed a knife to cut the entangled rope from the axle of the cart, so I drove back home to get a knife and returned to fix that issue.  We finally get the car and cart home by the circuitous route, carefully avoiding the neighbors sitting out in their lawn chairs.  Now, my question for me is, why is it so difficult for me to just simply ask for help?  I typically will not ask for help unless it is an emergency, even if it is expedient to ask.  Jan would not hesitate to ask for help even if she clearly knows everthing!  Ego had no problem driving the cart out of the driveway but Ego had a problem pushing the disabled cart home in front of others (with all their trucks and four-wheelers sitting outside!)  I was angry at the situation and even a little angry with Jan for telling me all the things that I should have done maybe better.  Situations.  Situations that occur show you how you react when things are not going as planned.  Situations show you a little insight into  the personality below that are often not seen while life goes smoothly.  Often, it is the bumps in the road that show you what is really there, covered up by pride and personality.  My answer has always been to foresee and avoid the bumps so that I do not have a, “situation.”  Not always possible even with small risks, like driving a golf cart with your sweetie into the night.

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for July 10, 2011: In your family of youth, was dinnertime a place for sharing the day’s events?

If I were playing INTROSPECTION, The Board Game, I would have to say, “No.”  I am sure that when we were very young children, the dinner table was a place for sharing what was going on in our lives but as we became teenagers this became less so.  The main reason for this was that in the early 1960′s my father went into the cafeteria business with two of his friends. The cafeteria was called “J’s” Cafeteria and the first one was located in Oak Cliff in Dallas near Hampton and West Jefferson streets. My father was one of the owners and therefore our family would drive to the cafeteria for dinner every night…for free!  This was great for my dad as he would get to check on the food and talk to the managers (one of the managers was Eddie Johnson who later took this cafeteria style to the fast food business which became Grandy’s restaurants).  For my mother, she loved the idea as she no longer had to cook as often!  This went on well into the latter 1960′s when I graduated from high school in 1968.  The real problem with this arrangement was the fact that we no longer sat down as a family during this very critical teenage period to discuss family events.  My mother, father and sister would sit at one table and me and my younger brother, Greg would find us a booth to sit at.  Most people would have considered us to be quite fortunate with this kind of evening meal arrangement and we were, but we did miss out on each other’s lives during these years.  The business was important to our family’s livelihood financially but it was not much help as we grew up and grew apart from each other. The cafeteria business flourished during the mid 1960′s with 5, “J’s” Cafeterias all over Dallas.  I, on the other hand, stumbled through my teens pretty much unchecked as my parents often were unaware what I was thinking or doing.  I was pretty unruly and unhappy and I thought that I was going to be sent away to some boot camp for troubled youth but I was not.  I was a difficult child to raise for my parents and I wish that I could have provided them more joy (it is often the most sensitive one of the family that acts out the most). Many years later, I do see how privileged our family was at the time but I do wish, even to this day, that our evenings were shared rather than having to go out for dinner every night.  Privilege without vision and dicipline can prove to be a costly endeavor.

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for July 3rd, 2011: Do you like your in-laws?

This week’s question from INTROSPECTION, The Board Game comes from the “Your Family” section of questions and if I were playing the game, I would definitely say, “Yes!”  All of Jan’s family came from British Gyana and they all had to work very hard to achieve success in their lives and to adjust to a new culture.  They have thrived in the U.S. mostly due to their intelligence and their perseverance.  For example, Richard,  who is 21 years old and his family, came to the  U.S.  10 months ago from Gyana. They were sponsored by his uncle who is a U.S. citizen who lives in California and works as a real estate appraiser in San Diego. In order to sponsor members of your family to “come over” from  another country, you must  be a U.S. citizen which takes 5 years of residency in the U.S. before you can even apply for your citizenship. Once citizenship has been achieved, you can apply to be a  sponsor  and you must show proof of your financial capacity to sponsor others.  Richard and his family had been unable to find work in San Diego, so they moved to the Dallas area.  Within months of arriving in Texas, Richard got a job pushing carts at Wal-Mart. He quickly moved up the food chain at Wal-Mart through his hard work and wit to become a supervisor.  Did I mention that he is also very kind, thoughtful, respectful of others and genuiely appreciative of any help or advice others may give to him?  Richard holds down a second job at LaMadeline Restaurant and some weeks he may put in 80 hours of work a week with only 4 hours of sleep!  A similar story could be told about my brother-in-law, Nand  who came to America at the age of 27 and is now a successful IT pro for Alcatel.  Jan’s sisters are all successful in their careers as a contractor for United Health Care and an international customs rep for Erickson.  Her brother-in-law, Narine is the City Planner for Highland Park, near Dallas.  Yes, I am truly blessed not only to find Jan, the love of my life but also to be accepted into their family,  all of whom I have great respect and admiration for.  To “like” my in-laws does them no justice.  I love them all, am proud of each and every one and America is so very lucky to have them.

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question Of The Week for June 26th, 2011: Have you ever wished that you lived in a different time or place?

If I were playing INTROSPECTION, The Board Game, I would have to say, “NO.”  Maybe at different times in my life I might have said yes but not today.  This week I traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the Origins Game Fair, where thousands of people gather every year for a week of fantasy. Many “gamers” if not most, would be considered to be by their own description, to be “Geeks” or “Nerds”….all very bright, fantasy seeking people who choose games to escape from their real world.  For example, some of the game names are: Munchkin Zombies, Nuclear War, Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, Legends of Arcanis, The World of Shattered Empires to name a few.  Themes of many of the games seem to be about Medieval times, monsters, treasures and combat.  Fantasy and escape are on the minds of most gamers who seek a few days of relief from their regular work world.  Some of the Medieval costumes are really something to behold….right down to their swords and armor! Some come dressed as Superman…others come as dragons, bumble-bees and town squires…all to release their “inner gamer” as one magazine calls it.  Inside of us is a sorcerer, warrior or rogue that seems to play out at events such as this. This is a place where fun and fantasy join forces.  For just a few hours, people have transformed themselves and live in another time and place.  It was an odd sight as I was leaving the fair last night at closing though.  Gamers were leaving down one corridor abnd delegates to the Ohio Democratic Convention all dressed nicely in suits and gowns were coming in on the other side (Secret Service and all!…Vice President, Joe Biden was in town for a speech.)  Talking about two different worlds…..Geeks and Suits together.  I guess everyone has their own game!

INTROSPECTION, The Board Game’s Question of the Week for June 19, 2011: Have you ever had “The Blues” for more than a week?

If I were playing Introspection, The Board Game…I would have to say, “Yes.”  Can’t seem to shake the “blues” which began about 10 days ago…maybe its an aging thing? There is no real reason for having the blues at this time….it is Father’s Day and Brendon, my son, came to visit.  We played golf yesterday…we grilled out and Jan made her usual great dinner but the high is just not there for me at this time.  There is no real reason for it that I can point to.  The only thing that comes to mind other than just getting older is possibly the game conference next week in Ohio.  I have a history of getting “down” while waiting for some large event to occur.  I do remember a downer when I was 28 years old.  I was finished with college and winding down the summer of 1978 before entering graduate school at the University of Houston. I was single then, doing odd jobs for the summer and just got on a downward mental spiral before the big event of finishing off school.  I stayed that way for several weeks as I recall.  Some nice man that I had mowed his yard during the summer came by my apartment because I didn’t show up that week to do his yard….all I remember was a time that I did not want to get out of my apartment or to talk to anyone….just down and for no apparent reason other than one door was closing and another door was about to open.  In the interim, I was just not myself and for some strange reason, I have that same feeling now. The joy is muted…a  feeling of apathy……it is a beautiful day….my son & Jan are here in their usual good humor but I am just…ho-hum. I am watching this beautiful day start to unfold yet, I am not celebrating the moment as I would normally do. I think that either I am preparing myself for next week to reveal itself or it is a biological malfunction. I will find out soon enough next week once I board that plane for Columbus.