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Mort Mather's Philosophy

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LIFE'S LITTLE DISTRACTIONS

This argument is based on the premise that there is a God and that he (If we created God in our own image, then my God is going to be a "he". Oh, oh. Sorry. It's supposed to be the other way 'round. If God created us in his or her image, then he/her was a he when he created me.) …and that God gave me life, this life that I am living now. This life with all of its sensations: with sunsets; the smells of the changing seasons; the feel of silken skin; the adrenaline rush of a surprise; the sounds of birds, babbling brooks, ocean waves, an orchestra; the pain of an injury; love; companionship; sexual relations…all of it--every breath, every sight, every sound, every joy, every pain.

The Premise: There is a God who gave us life.

All that I have read about God indicates that God is much like us. Genesis 1:26, 27 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Male and female created he them." The Bible also shows God to be merciful, jealous, vengeful, loving, and capable of rage, in other words, displaying many of the same traits we have. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that God would have similar feelings about the way a gift is received and used.

What should we do with this life, this gift from God? Should we turn our back on the sunsets? Should we ignore the flowers scent? Should we deny ourselves the pleasures of sex or feel guilt at enjoying them? Would this be the best way to accept a gift, to turn our back on it?

If someone would have me turn my back on the gift of life as it was presented to me, and if I believed that the gift came from God; I would have to call that someone to task for trying to get me to turn away from this gift.

I know that it is fulfilling to give pleasure to others whether that be a smile, a kind word or an appropriate caress. I know that I am diminished if I cause another pain or discomfort. I have found that I can turn a "bad weather day" into a positive experience just by looking at the clouds as beautiful or enjoying the sound of rain on the roof or embracing the fog or feeling enfolded by it. To be depressed by conditions of life from the weather to physical or mental handicaps would seem to be to deny the gift or to question it.

Shouldn't we accept life, the gift, as it is presented whether that be in poverty in an overpopulated country or in wealth in a wealthy country, whether that be with a full compliment of well-functioning body parts or something less. Shouldn't we treat life similarly to the way a child treats the gift of his or her first bicycle--learning how to use it and then getting better and better until riding brings maximum pleasure and becomes almost second nature?

The distractions to life are many, perhaps more each year. If you found that your greatest pleasure was in sitting cross-legged under a tree and trying to make your mind go blank, hunger would be a distraction. I don't cast any dispersion on meditation as a great pleasure, by the way. It is one I have yet to experience and even if I become adept at meditation yet decide that it is not my greatest pleasure, that would not diminish my respect for others who may find it so. "To each their own" is often spoken derisively but it shouldn't be. We are each our own best guides as to what is best for us. The sunsets and other tactile pleasures I find so wonderful are only best for me. They may be superficial for someone else but they come from my understanding of what I was given, my life.

If someone told me that dancing was sinful and they showed me that some teaching or other made it so, I would take that piece of information on advisement. I find dancing to be pleasurable. I can see no way that it harms or diminishes another. And so I reject any information to the contrary. For me. I will not tell others that they have to dance or even that they should dance. I can only tell them that I enjoy it and that it seems to fit with my notion of God's gift of life to me.

What should my reaction be if someone tries to make it difficult or impossible to dance--if some religious order made dancing illegal? This is a really difficult question. If I become outraged at their audacity in trying to curtail the way I thank God for his gift to me, the outrage will diminish me. What they are doing is unfair and I hate unfairness but hate diminishes me. If I defy them, but defiance diminishes me and defiance will undoubtedly lead to confrontation and confrontation is definitely bad for me. I could dance in secret, not to defy them but because I wanted to dance. I would not feel that I was doing something illegal because dancing hurt no one and was just one of the ways that I have found to be fulfilling. Or I could opt to not dance which, for me, would not be a really big deal because, while it does give me pleasure, there are many other things that also give me pleasure and that could fill the gap if I even noticed a gap.

At one point I found myself worrying about my investments. I was spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to invest and how to be smart and how to protect my money and how to not feel stupid if I didn't get as much return on investment as the next fellow. Did that make me feel good? Not at all. Was I enjoying the things I was learning? Was it a good use of my time? Screw it, I said. My investments are where they are. The CDs are barely keeping ahead of inflation. The mutual funds may go to hell tomorrow. I have written them all off. If they bring me some money at some time when I need or want it, all well and good but I'm not going to be distracted from living my life over worrying about what money might do sometime in the future. For me it is a distraction. For others it may be the greatest joy they can imagine. Good for them, good for me.

Job one, it seems, is to look at your life and figure out why you are thankful for it and then to show your appreciation by using it to the max. Don't just take a bite out of the apple, eat it to the core savoring every bite and then plant the seeds and enjoy watching the tree grow. Once you have figured out what life is for, try not to be distracted from living it. If you believe God gave you a gift, don't be distracted by what some mere mortals might put before you like money, issues or beliefs. Believe what you will as long as it doesn't do damage to the gift as God gave it.


Mort Mather's Philosophy Essays

Mort is a husband and father. He authored a book, Gardening For Independence and was named Environmentalist of the Year by Down East Magazine in 1987. He is a consultant for organizations. His address is 802 Bald Hill Road, Wells, ME   04090.

Mort retains all rights to his columns. Anyone interested in using them can get the rights at a very reasonable rate.
Mortmather@cybertours.com

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