What would you change?

America Outdoors

intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.When I answered a question on Sunday Stealing recently, it was quite broadly worded. “What one event from your lifetime would you change if you could, and why?” I answered about a certain politician getting elected.

Then Dan wrote:
Let me ask you this: What event from YOUR life would you change? (Perhaps that is too intrusive and wrenching.)

I replied: “Now that is a harder question. I guess I’ll have to think on it>”

To which Dan commented:
Yes. I imagined having to answer that question for myself. Very quickly, my mind started looking for distractions.

Is anything too intrusive? I suppose so. I’ve seen items posted on social media, and I think, “Why are they posting THAT? Who wants to see THAT?” And it turns out, sometimes millions of total strangers. This is why I’ll never be a TikTok influencer, and I’m good with that. So it’s not intrusive, exactly. It’s more a modicum of good taste.

That said, I am cognizant of trying not to intrude on other people’s privacy. At least once in this blog, I wrote something about another person, and they took great offense. I made great care not to identify them by any characteristics. But they thought what I reported they had said was so wrongheaded that they stopped speaking to me. I felt terrible about it and still do, though it was close to a decade ago.

Beyond that, I thought about everything I’ve said and did or didn’t say or do. Sure there are plenty of things I regret. But in many cases, changing it would have changed the whole course of my life. If I hadn’t done X, I wouldn’t have met Y.

I’m saying no.

The great outdoors

Friend Catbird, who I’ve known for decades, wants to know:

Have you been watching “America Outdoors?” It’s on PBS and is hosted by Baratunde Thurston. I heard an interview of him on NPR (I think—or maybe it was the PBS NewsHour) about his recent book and PBS series and was intrigued.

I’m liking it! It appeals to my sense of fairness (a concept that’s been pretty scarce in our culture since its inception.

I don’t know how you feel about being outdoors … or, for that matter, what “the outdoors” means to you

But you might also enjoy this series.

No, I had not heard of it. I have tons of recorded but unwatched programming. Thank goodness JEOPARDY is off for six weeks (except reruns). It does sound intriguing.

I’m not big on the outdoors. Lions, tigers, and bears. OK, no lions and tigers, but we have had some bears even in the city of Albany in 2022. Also, bugs, and either sunburn or frostbite, both of which I have experienced.

Ash Wednesday: What is hell to you?

I opined that the old guy was in his own hell, and Catbird agreed.

I don’t think a whole lot about hell. Well, not since I was growing up with the concept constantly slipped into every third sermon I heard.

One of the things that started my long withdrawal from church in my twenties had a hell of a lot to do with what some said happened after death.

Specifically, it was the notion that everyone who didn’t accept Jesus as their savior was going to some fiery pit in the next life. That would include someone in a remote village in Nepal or person on a tiny island in the Pacific. (This is why we “needed” so many missionaries.)

Still, I think there is a “hell.” My good friend Catbird is reading “The Da Vinci Code,” which I’ve never even started. The motivation was partly because the book is on the PBS “Great American Read” list.

But it was also because some old acquaintance of Catbird’s said it was the work of the devil, which made it more enticing. My friend emailed the acquaintance to ask what event or character had informed his opinion, figuring he had never actually read the story. He replied that Catbird was going to hell and that his words were a warning.

Catbird shared the opinion that both heaven and hell are what one chooses to make of one’s circumstances. A life-altering experience has deeply informed my friend that death is nothing to fear.

I opined that the old guy was in his own hell, and Catbird agreed. And from appearances, it seems “entirely self-inflicted… and possibly addictive.” Catbird heard on the radio about the door to hell being locked from the inside and thought that it applied especially well to him.

So what is hell to you? Is it a physical place after we leave this mortal coil? Is it something else? Does it not exist at all? Maybe you’re hedging your bet.

This Lenten discussion immediately brought to mind a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong: You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth, recorded by The Temptations and Undisputed Truth.

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