Tag Archives: cheating at solitaire

Last rounds of the year …

I had a good boxing workout this morning at Gleason’s Gym, aided by the fact that I had a decent sleep for a change.  My work out was my favorite, four rounds of shadow boxing, four on the focus pads with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore, four rounds of the double-end bag, and finally four rounds on the speed bag.

There was something comforting about being back to “normal.” Yes, I tried to keep to my “wear a mask at all times” mantra, even in a gym where everyone is vaccinated, but it was still pretty hot and humid, and eventually took it off in the midst of my rounds with Len because it was getting too hard to breathe.

If that is the worst I ever have to deal with — all I can say is wow, what a great life.

And really, as I am at the start of the rounds of examination I will go through over the next ten days starting with tonight’s first night of the Jewish New Year’s process and ending up with breaking the Yom Kippur fast, the workout I had today was just a light flurry of facing up to moments of truth.

Because that’s really what it is all about anyway.

Avoiding the easy path of cheating at solitaire.

You know … pulling from the deck when you’ve already lost … as if no one will notice!  Kind of like that. And it’s the same thing in the ring. You can throw the jab with authority and energy, mindful of your stance, of how you move forward, of how you hold your opposite hand to protect your head. Or not. One gets you to the truth of your capabilities and of what you need to do to improve, and the other cheats it.  Doesn’t get you forward at all. Says, I’m pulling from the deck.

We all do it … all the time, whether knowingly or not. The trick is pushing forward anyway. Owning up. Facing those demons of crap you pull, mostly on yourself, but to others as well, and understanding what the motivations were, how you got there in the first place, and what you can do to make it better. To manage the process of moving forward with your life.

Jewish New Year, Tashlich, or the throwing off of sins symbolically by tossing pieces of bread. Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn, 1909, Photo Credit: The Bowery Boys

I do have it in mind that in Jewish tradition, this next ten days is a process of unburdening and in so doing, sealing our collective fates for the next year. Will you live? Will you not? Will it go easy or hard?

I’m not certain that I buy into all of that, but I do believe that our actions foretell our futures. That cheating at solitaire doesn’t mean we have “won” our games, only that in so doing, we have denied ourselves the satisfaction of the real wins when they finally come, whether that is throwing a jab worthy of it’s name or facing up to the myriad of truths that life throws at us and coming through it a more enlivened human being.

I wish everyone sweetness, peace, and an easy passage to the enlightenment that living in truth can offer.

Happy New Year – Shanah Tovah!

What does it all mean?

What does it all mean?

I guess you could say I’m in a mode.

My personal world is rife with complexities and when I look around me to the world at large I feel roiled by the political landscape, our deeply troubled future as citizens of a rapidly changing environment on a planetary scale, not to mention, the myriad of problems associated with poverty, sexism, racism—and in fact all of the –isms.

Yet I am still here as we all are.

Here and facing choices as simple as what to wear to work or how to fit in the gym time—to the bigger questions we tackle related to the health and well-being of our families, our neighbors, and those extensions of ourselves that we count as having the same importance of those near and dear to us.

Perhaps I am thoughtful because on the Jewish calendar of my heritage it is the eve of another New Year.

This one, 5780, feels big.

Perhaps it’s because it ends on a round number – or perhaps it’s because this year is particularly big in my own cycle of new years having turned 65 this past June.

So yes, it’s loaded.

Loaded with my personal turmoil as I contemplate what my future looks like and the meaning of getting older—while tinged with that ever hopeful patina of faith that the future will bring about a better world no matter the challenges.

The sages of Jewish lore deemed the period of the New Year as a time to set the past aside to move forward to what is fated for the coming year. The High Holidays are thus an interregnum of sorts: a liminal world of becoming bounded by the foibles of one’s life on the one hand and a future state of more perfected beingness on the other.

That perfecting process, that transition to being one’s best self can take many forms. It can be as simple as casting aside one’s sins in the water as so many crumbs of bread—or the challenges one encounters on a deeper dive into one’s psyche where in a determined fashion, one truly examines one’s crimes and misdemeanors and devises a plan of action to face the meaning of those truths in order to move forward.

Both are easier said than done as we are all very, very good at cheating at solitaire. And it is that instinct to cheat. To not work through the necessary stages that is the most hurtful of all to ourselves.

In my late 30s I went through a time of deep spiritual crisis.

In those years I could not fathom what it meant to be.

In my search for meaning I clung to many things as a symbiote: my job, my relationships, my feelings of despair, even my own suicidal ideations as some sort of badge of singularity in the world.

I was able to work through that period of my life with a mixture of luck, a very deeply buried survival instinct, excellent psychotherapy, and an awareness that all the cheating, all the time I’d spent burying my demons were what was causing my crisis in the first place.

As I dive into the liminality of another New Year process, I carry with me a remembrance of that period in my life. And while it is distant and remote to the person I became afterwards, I know that in shedding that skin, it still remains a part of who I am. The difference is that in facing the truth, no matter how raw and awful it is, one has the chance for redemption and a forward momentum into the next part of one’s life.

So even though I have my doubts for the future, the work itself is one’s purpose, what I like to call the daily something. And while getting it right is a moment to moment thing, playing out one’s hand without cheating makes it all worth while in the end, even if it seems you never can “win” the game.

 

Living each day.

Living each day.

Whether it is the dangers of the ring, such as the one that has seen Ishika Lay on her long road to recovery from second-impact syndrome, or something closer to home, such as the sudden illness of a relative or friend, living each day to its fullest is an important mantra:  even when that means walking away from the things we love to do.

That means not only pursuing your dreams, but knowing when to sit out because the risks are too great.

Have a headache after sparring that won’t go away?  Go and get it checked out and follow the mantra:  when in doubt, sit it out.

I know we all tend to ignore the long-term effects of our actions or even cast a “blind eye” to their very existence, but headaches and the like are also symptoms of acute problems that can be dealt with much more readily early on.  Sometimes it is only a matter of facing down the demons that seem to haunt us when we contemplate the “why” question that prevents us from taking the next step — say to a doctor’s office.  Not to do so, however, is to play a dangerous game of roulette with one’s own health and well-being.  It is also an example of breaking a cardinal rule that can best be translated as cheating at solitaire.

Here’s another one: Do you have indigestion every time you eat a slice of pizza?  Or in the absence of that, cough after every pasta or pizza meal?  Has it seemed to escalate at night lately, even when you don’t eat pizza? Go and get that checked! And P.S. … stop eating pizza and pasta till you know what’s going on.  At the very least you might have GERD (Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease), but it also might mean (depending on your age), that you are starting to see changes to the actual make-up of your esophagus (Barrett’s Esophagus) which can lead to “no joke” complications.

I bring this all up because so many of us “live” with things that we think are nothing that end up being a big something in a hurry when we least expect it.  When that happens the effects are often horrendous, both to the individual undergoing treatment and to family and friends who suffer along with each bump in the road.

Athletes presumably have a great sense of their bodies – certainly of the cause and effects of too little sleep, poor eating habits and so on; however, that doesn’t always translate into evaluating the relative risks of injuries or of even recognizing that the twinge in a shoulder is really a rotator cuff injury about to blow.

That’s when we all have to take some responsibility not only for our own health and well-being, but for what we see going on around us by taking to heart the “if you see something, say something” mantra.  Sure, you might be accused of putting your nose into someone’s business, but you well might recognize something that your sparring partner just doesn’t see.

Part of living each day certainly translates into living it with gusto, but we also need to be cognizant of all the aspects of our day, even the things we’d rather ignore.  The problem is the things we ignore have a way of slamming us in the face whether we acknowledge them or not, and for my money, it’s better to face an issue head on than wait for the unexpected surprise.