Lent 2018

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved desserts. And not in moderation, either. Give me a choice of several delicious treats at a dessert buffet and I’ll have plenty of each. Take a second pass? Certainly! Load me up! Why? Heck if I know.

My other eating habits are a little more sane, somewhat, maybe. Even so, I’m reasonably fit for the shape I’m in.

So it was a bit of a surprise when I felt a strong guidance to give up desserts for Lent. I’m not Catholic, and I’ve never observed Lent or even given it much thought. But there we were, middle of February, 40 days until Easter. Blessed mystical number! And there are some other big and exciting changes coming up in our lives. The pull was there, no doubt about it, and so I went with it.

No dessert. 40 days. And for good measure I committed to cutting out salty snacks and salt from the shaker. Oh, yeah, and milk. In for 40 pennies, in for 40 pounds.

40 days later:

It appears that I’ve miscalculated: Easter is still a few days away. What happened? It turns out that there are more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. * Who knew? Well, maybe the millions of people who are steeped in the tradition and take it seriously! Ok, I learned something there, and not just about how the days are counted.

The food thing was no sacrifice at all. I was a little surprised to see that I didn’t miss desserts or table salt. For one thing, there’s a lot of salt and sugar hiding in our food anyway. That’s even if you’re going for the healthy stuff. Apparently, much more vigilance, or should I say mindfulness is called for. Another thing learned.

The results overall? I lost a couple of pounds. Felt lighter and stronger in general. I also caught myself, just once or twice mind you, feeling a bit virtuous about the whole thing. Which is pretty much the opposite of virtuous, isn’t it? It’s a little bit like being proud of being humble.

Lent is a deep, deep practice, and I’m starting to get an inkling that the food is the least of it. I’ll be looking forward to Lent 2019. Happy Easter!

*From Wikipedia:

One calculation has been that the season of Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. This calculation makes Lent last 46 days, if the 6 Sundays are included, but only 40, if they are excluded, because there is no obligation to fast on the six Sundays in Lent.

(c) 2018 Mike Davis

The Pig and the Brownies


I hit a pig with my car.





At least I think it was a pig. It darted out in front of the car as Paula and I, along with our son Andrew, drove west, at dusk, on a country road in south Florida. There are a lot of feral hogs in that area.

I felt really terrible about hitting the critter, and if I were really honest I’d have to admit that I also felt a little bad about the damage it did to my beloved Scion xB. There were pieces of bumper hanging on by a thread and some bits rubbing against a tire. Two hours from home. We squared it away the best we could and limped very slowly back to Orlando.

The next morning I took the car to Tuffy Auto in Apopka FL. We had recently started going to them for oil changes and so forth and had a good relationship going. They’re friendly and honest, and they know their stuff.

The counter man at the time was a garrulous fellow named Greg. Very knowledgeable about cars, and very good at sharing his knowledge. More than you wanted sometimes, so we had that in common. We got along great.

“Hey Greg, can you have a look at this? The underside of the car is kinda torn up.”

“Naw, we’re not a body shop. You need to go to a body shop.”

“Screw that. I know you guys. I trust you guys. Just go have a look.”

A little more high level back and forth like that, and his curiosity got the better of him. Pretty soon the car was up on the lift and Greg, along with one of the crew, was scratching his chin and considering.

You could see the wheels turning as they started improvising a fix. It involved wire, solder, a couple of bolts, and if I’m not mistaken, some peanut butter and a little wd40. Well of course there was wd40! Did you think we were going to get through this story without it?

“Ok, you’re all set.” Well, actually he said a lot more, but I’m cutting to the chase here. You’re welcome.

“Greg, thanks, that’s awesome! What do I owe you?”

“No charge, go ahead on.”


“Well, hey, l told you we’re not a body shop. There’s nothing in the price book about soldering and peanut butter. It’s cool.”

So I went home with the good news. Paula said, “I know! I’ll make them some brownies.” So she did and we took them over there. Party time at Tuffy! Ever since, for several years now, she’s made brownies for the crew at Tuffy pretty much every time we’ve been there. There are guys working there now who don’t even know the story, but they expect to be fed brownies when we show up for a new battery or an oil change. You know, like alligators.

Greg has since moved on, bless you brother. Ron B, Mark, Brandon and Tyler along with their bay crew continue to run the best shop you could hope for. We’ve since bought a couple of cars through Ron, Mr. Go-To-The-Auction.

The Scion? It ran for 320k, improvised fix intact. And to this day I feel sorry about hitting that pig.

The See Saw

Can you ride both sides of a see saw at the same time?

You live your life in a particular mode for years at a time. You have a career, friends, patterns and tracks in your life. Some of it is frustrating, some of it is rewarding. It’s your life. The see saw is on the ground on one side.

What happens if you start glimpsing another way of being?

There’s nothing at all wrong with the first pattern. But you’re seeing things differently now and the see saw is inexorably moving, albeit slowly. One side is coming up as the other side goes down.

One day you realize that the see saw has touched the ground on the new side.

Playing Meditation Music

I have two CDs of meditation music, and play live for guided meditations and prayers all the time. If you’re accompanying someone who is speaking a prayer or meditation, the sound source and the approach are both important.

Basically, you want a sustaining element and a few color elements that you can bring in and out. A simple synth pad is a good start. Layer it with a very light electric piano and you’re off and running. Other instruments can work too! I just tend to go with keyboard for this type of thing.

Then you just listen. When the leader is speaking, you hold. In the spaces, you move. If you sense a new theme or direction coming, you can anticipate it, maybe change keys or pick up the pace a bit. If it’s someone you connect with energetically, you can definitely create a dramatic arc that means something. You can also slow down a busy speaker, or subtly encourage someone to get it over with, already! But don’t tell anyone I said so.

Also, most leaders will say that they don’t want hear a recognizable melody because it pulls the ear away. This is not the place to sprinkle in quotes from the jazz repertoire.

FWIW, that’s my approach, but some people do it differently and get on just fine. My CDs are more active and have definite themes and melodies, so that’s a little different from doing it live, but even so, I’ve sold lots of them to people who use them for meditation and yoga at home. One couple told that they use them for . . . well, never mind.

Three Ideas for America

… is this still about ‘Raising It Up?’ 🙂 In my opinion, yes. Comments welcome!

1. Have all the congressional district maps drawn by an independent, non-partisan panel. Or let the parties take turns. Or is there another way that will work better?

2. Repeal Citizens United. It’s difficult for people in Congress to to work toward consensus and get things done if they’re always fearing primary challenges from their extreme right or left flanks. It’s easy for people in Congress to put the interests of their biggest donors ahead of the rest of us. That’s a distortion. Do we want to go as far as public financing of campaigns? I don’t know enough about that one, but I’d like to learn more.

3. When people speak of ‘the Left’ and ‘the Right’ as if they were two big monoliths (duolith?) I always rebel a bit. Is it really a good idea for us to voluntarily lock ourselves into boxes like that? And is it really voluntary? Let’s let go of this Blue Team vs Red Team bullshit, even though the Blue Team is actually better. Whoa, whoa, whoa, relax! I’m sorta kidding. Seriously, all it does is freeze our various prejudices into place. By all means, I should promote and work for what I think is right, and I have some clear opinions about that. That is as it should be, because I care about our country and our future. But I can also acknowledge that people who have a different point of view also care about this country. A little listening can only help.

4. Bonus thought: demonizing people who disagree with you is not an effective persuasion technique. Better to promote the ideas you wish to see, or better yet, be them.