Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Bridge to a new Stanza

6.8 Km, 34:42.28, Sunny 2°C, Light wind

This morning the PBGs confided that my online journal writing is just a bridge to carry me to a new path. They have been hinting this for weeks.

We came to this conclusion by reflecting on where I've been so far with Them. I've run many miles with Them now and They have lead me down many new paths. I am starting Boy's Group for the second year and it has a very different feel to it. It is still exciting, but it doesn't seem to be as risky as it was last year. I will have to work harder to make it fresh again.

The point is, new things and the associated reason for doing them turn into old things. If you continue doing them for a long time, often the reasons you started doing them fall away and are replaced by new reasons. More often than not, the old reasons are replaced simply by a mindless habit.

It takes hard work to keep your workout fresh!

Monday, September 29, 2003

Boy´s Group.

Non Run Day

Today was my first Church Boy's Group. My lack of planning meant that most of the church didn't know that today was the first day. Sigh. There were 4 boys (counting my own son). They are keen though.

We played foot ball, and invented a new game that involved lots of running around, up and down the stairs of the church. I think this new game is just a little too dangerous.

Speaking of dangerous, I proposed building a go-cart to the boys. I told them they would have to be on their best behavior and that we would need a few more boys to make a go of it. I think they were excited about the project. I only hope to PBGs I can pull this off.

I think with the help of other men in the congregation, I will have sufficient help to build this little project. The more men and boys I can bring into it, the better. Get those dads involved with their sons, or other people's sons. Kids just don't get enough quality time with their male role models. Men just don't make enough time to be with their young boys.

I hope I can make some men see that it is important to do things with kids. I hope I can fill some of those empty holes in my boys' hearts with excitement and feelings of accomplishment.

Most of all I hope I don't make a fool of myself. Oh, maybe that is just Servant Two tripping me up again.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

A Matter of Focus

6.8 Km, 34:00.2, Sunny 6°C, light wind

There are two main facets of my life to this point.

  1. I don't want to be predictable and I strive to be different from the run of the mill person, and
  2. my best yardstick for my achievement is what other people think of me.
These two servants help me stagger my way through lift.

Servant One helps me to be spontaneous, creative, unique, flexible and humorous. But the bumbling fool gets in the way of my sticking to a schedule, planning things out carefully, being repeatable and being consistent. Servant Two helps me be a very be conscientious, sensitive to other peoples feelings, responsive, loving and giving. In short, Two helps me care. Two trips me up too, though. He keeps me from seeing my own value, makes me second guess my own accomplishments, has me feeling insufficient and makes me long to 'prove myself' all the time.

These two servants are part of the central core of me. They influence everything I do and think. They never leave my side. Their positive aspects add light to my life and their negative aspects have a detrimental effect on my sense of well being.

The catch is that I can't let these servants go without losing the better half of me. I can't dismiss the self reproving and retain the hard worker. I would have to let go of the spontaneity along with the erratic planning style.

Do you have servants that are the root of both good things and bad things in your life?

What are they?

Come on, take a chance and tell me about it.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

... And the Thought That Didn´t

6.8 Km, 34:17.3, Partly Cloudy 6°C, 10 km wind

I have been meaning to write about something that was first related to me by the PBGs a couple of weeks ago. That particular weekend was swamped with other messages and feelings, so this minor Idea was forgotten for a while.

I was complaining to the PBGs that they weren't very good at telling stories. "Life," I said, "is very random and it is hard to find the meaning in a lot of what happens to us on a daily basis." You would think that They, being masters of randomness and coincidence and all, would be somewhat apologetic about this "weakness" in their dominion over the world.

But no. In Their usual dismissive, yet completely serious manner, They said:

"It is you Humans who like to tell stories."

(Actually it may have been "... you, Human, who likes to tell stories." Either one applies, but they are quite different and I am not sure which one is better)

That (those?) statement(s) seem very clear to me, but perhaps I should elaborate a bit for the sake of the reader.

We like to tell ourselves and others stories. We expect life to follow the script. We look for the happily ever after endings.

God, on the other hand, deals with "what is". God doesn't live in Hollywood. God's Plan wasn't commissioned in Hollywood either. Life doesn't start with a problem, move through a climax and end in resolution in 2 1/2 hours. Sure there is some "character development" in Life, but sometimes that seems accidental.

  • Life is messy and we hate it for that. We want life to be neat and tidy
  • Like a Sit-Com, we want life to have a purpose, message, interesting characters and be over in an hour, tops.
  • We demand that the bad guys get punished
  • We expect the Hero to get the Girl
  • in a really good story, we want to see growth in the principle characters.
In Real life, however, the good guy often dies. Sometimes even prematurely, for no good reason (as far as we can tell, anyway). Often what should happen, doesn't. The resolution refuses to come. The Happy Ending dreamed of remains a heart-felt wish.

(whew, how depressing! Keep reading, it gets less heavy from here)

So my point of view is that it is important for us story tellers (i.e. you and me) to get out there and make the stories come true. Because *WE* have the sense that the stories outcomes are important, *WE* have to be the authors of the actions that *MAKE* those stories come true. The PBGs assist, but *WE* are the story tellers.

Perhaps that isn't as "very clear", as even I thought it was. Who is telling the story? Us? The PBGs? I guess I will have to wait until I read the last chapter.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Stay Strong

Non-running day, Partly Cloudy, 8°C, 8 km wind

A 'friend' from New Zealand brought me a new phrase today. "Kia Kaha", which means "Stand Strong" or "Stay Strong" in the Maori language te reo Maori.

I like the encouragement part of this saying. If I can help you be strong and you can help me be strong we will be strong together. That is a tenant worthy of the PBGs or any faith worth its salt! P.S. Mo will especially like the first 'kia kaha' link

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The Thought That Got Away

8.81 Km, 47:44.5, Clear & cold 1°C, 17 km wind

I had something I was going to write here, but I just couldn't figure out how to express it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Bus Friend

I like Frazz. It is a lot like Calvin and Hobbs, but is much gentler. It is also about a runner, like me, which is also good.

I met one of my bus friends on the bus today and introduced her to my son. She is a teacher's aid in one of the elementary schools in Edmonton. She is also slightly retarded. A special person though. She is always bright and cheery. She talks a lot and asks a tonne of questions. She was quizzing my son on his French vocabulary. A definite PPBG if I ever saw one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Promiscuous Faith

6.8 Km, 33:25.5, Light Snow 4°C, 11 km wind

Skunked. Not a single can or bottle. No signs from the PBGs at all.

I think the Guys have noticed that I have been looking around. I have been trying on different faiths to see how they feel. How do I like the fit of Deism? What is this Gnosticism I've heard about at the water cooler? Am I closer to Secular Humanism or Religious Humanism? I called up my old flame, Agnosticism, just to confirm that I am firmly out of her tent now.

And what about her seductive sister Atheism. Naw, she was never really my type, although she certainly appeals to my logical mind.

There are lots of girls in the spiritual meat market. Take a look at this list for starters. Here are some that I have heard about, but haven't dated yet:

  • Bah'i
  • Buddhism
  • Confucianism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Jainism
  • Native American
  • Noahidism
  • Pagan
  • Pantheism
  • Shintoism
  • Taoism
  • Unitarian Universalism
  • Zoroastrianism

Really, Guys, I am just sowing my wild oats here. I need to play the field before I make any ever-lasting commitments. Surely you understand that? Don't tell me you are jealous gods! That's a mark against you, in my books.

Okay, you caught me. For the sake of a good story I told a little fib. When I said that I was skunked, that wasn't completely true. At the end of my run I did get a bottle.

Not completely abandoned. Still there listening to me, just reserving Their judgment. As beings far more mature than I, They know that I need a little wiggle room. They provide me with breathing space. They are not in any hurry what-so-ever.

"Besides," They flippantly add, "All roads lead inexorably to us, so take your pick."

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Recommissioning Sunday

6.8 Km, 34:00.2, Overcast 1 °C, 5 km wind

Continued from yesterday

... Then I got to thinking about how I "control" the PBGs. My thoughts are in the drivers seat. It is my agenda that is on the table. They make comments about, and additions to my monologue, but it is me who is the script writer.

Am I so vain as to think that I am "writing" myself a better part in God's play?

Actually, no. In truth, I don't delude myself that way. Deep down I know who is in charge. I realize that I have influence on what happens around me, but that I have a very tenuous control. It would take very little for my 'house of cards' world that I have built up around me to come toppling down.

The fact that I have any influence at all in this crazy mixed up world is the true blessing. That is why it is so important that I use the gifts God has given me to enhance the world around me. I cannot change the overall map of the Plan, but I still have the free will to mark my own trail on it.

In fact , the Plan is the result of the sum total of all of Humanities reaction to what it is to be alive.

When stated that way, it is obvious that I have a say, but that I am not in control.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Whose God is it Anyway?

6 Km, 30:10.0, Sunny, 5°C, 7 km wind

Mo & I ran together again today; I am so proud of her (OK, so maybe I am hoping she will read this and I'll get brownie points). She has progressed to running 4 min. and walking 1 min. Yeah Mo! You can do it! (Neal says, "Time to move up to 5:1's")

While Mo was with me, she was trying to interpret what the PBGs were saying. "Whoa there!... isn't that my job? That isn't how I would interpret what was said at all...", I said.

I guess I don't want to lose control of my gods.

On reflection, however, it makes sense that they talk differently to her than they do to me. She has read my journal right from the very beginning and has seen the concept developing since I collected the first pop can. But she is on a Different Path and is engaged in an entirely different Conversation.

No wonder they speak differently to her.

More about controlling the PBGs tomorrow...

Thursday, September 11, 2003

A Dream for Hunter

8.81 Km, 44:09.1, Light showers 12°C, 10 km wind

I had another brief chat with Hunter today. He keeps showing up on his porch just as I go by. It is almost like he is waiting for me to come along.

Today he was concerned about a bad dream he had last night. He told me that in his dream, a drunk from across the street came and picked him up, hurting him. He described the man as having a black shirt with a red dragon on the front.

Interested, I asked him to draw me a picture of the man and to post it in his front window where I would see it the next time I went by. I told him I was interested in seeing what his black shirted man looked like.

So, Hunter is OOPBGB today. He has his sword drawn and will chase down his fears. He will draw a box around his evil dream and confine it to the 2D world of paper and crayon.

Go forth valiant young knight, be afraid no more!

Suggestion 6

Humor. It is a gift from the gods. Use it wisely.
Apparently, the sixth Suggestion is NOT about pushing the Plan as foretold by some lowly prophet. It has to do with breaking the ice with strangers. There is nothing as good as humor for breaking through someone's reserve; to catch them unawares. It is most successful when it is something undeniably true, positive in nature and just a tiny bit silly.

But wisdom is also required when using humor. One must use careful timing. One must be responsive to the mood of the target. One must be cautious about seeming to be laughing at the person instead of the much more desirable laughter with the person.

EDIT:Got any other ideas on how humor is a gift from the gods?

Drop me a note about it and I'll include it here

  • Mo: Posted 9.17.2003 11:47 AM - my special someone. Like fire, humor can warm the soul or burn the fingers and takes lots of practice. I follow that ancient clown, Jesus, who talked of being non-judgmental and kind but having goofy stories to make a point (anyone tried sewing with a camel stuck in their needle recently???).
  • MissFlibberty: Posted 9.18.2003 5:15 PM Some of the best humour can be found in normal, everyday events and occurrences - and all of our every day things are gifts from God! In finding humour in these everyday happenings we are recognizing God in all things- maybe helps stop us from taking them for granted.
  • Nobody else is brave enough to be listed here yet

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Hills Alive

4 hills, 7.2 Km, 35:06.4, Sunny 15 °C, 10 km wind

Today was my first day of hill training of the 'summer'. It was hard work. I was way over dressed. It is hard to think profound thoughts when you are pounding up and down a steep hill, sweating profusely and trying not to look totally winded to the other runners passing by. (Un)fortunately, there were no other people doing hills today.

I got a visitor to my journal over the weekend. First person to actually respond! I am so relieved. Now I can relax and just enter in stuff. I hope that if you are reading this, you will be moved to respond. I don't really care if you have something profound to say, just let me know you are alive and what you think about life and your path along the great Journey.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Time Heals All?

6.8 Km, 34:41.0, Scattered showers 11 °C, 15 km wind

I spent some time looking for journalizers closer to my own age. Their language was more mature and the content was less self centered than the teens I read yesterday (they seem to realize that other people have feelings). The older journalizers, however, were still struggling with loneliness and depression.

This certainly doesn't seem to be the outlet I was hoping it would be. I doubt I am going to get any "Community" from the journals I find on EasyJournal.

Back in the real world, I met an old church friend on the bus today. I hardly recognized her. She is divorced from her abusive husband and fighting for custody of her 3 children. I am not entirely sure that she would be a better single mother to these kids than the father and his new partner are.

The world is full of hurting and broken people. Sigh.

Journalizer - Someone who keeps a personal or financial journal. I looked it up on dictionary.com

Monday, September 08, 2003

Easy Community?

No run, Cloudy 13 °C

Still ruminating on the Conversation of the weekend. I have spent some time looking at other journals on EasyJournal.com. Most that I have found are written by young teens struggling with depression, school, boy/girl friend trouble, addiction and, most frequently, loneliness. It is really quite sad. A web log allows you to communicate with the entire world, but, realistically, very few people will read, consider and respond positively to your heart-felt musings.

I feel that I want to help them in some way, but I also feel that it is not my place to point out the 'error of their ways'. It would probably be pointless. "The do-gooders do more harm than good." I've sent out a couple of simple messages, but haven't received any messages myself.

Okay, Guys, I hear you whispering back there; "Don't push the Plan", That doesn't preclude me from worrying and feeling frustrated!

Saturday, September 06, 2003

On The Path (I think)

19 Km,1:50:08, Partly Cloudy, 13 ?C, calm

PBGs, please forgive your humble devotee. You spoke to me with such insistence this weekend, but I just couldn't decipher what your message meant.

I am sure that this material merits a Suggestion or at least a Supposition, but I just can't boil it down to one general phrase;maybe You could break it down a bit for your lowly servant?

I had a longer than usual run on this Saturday morning. Mo ran with me for the first 20 minutes and we discussed my worries about my new online journal. It seems to me that what it has to say is at odds with the other types of "Blogs" on the internet. Does my "conversation" have any merit? Will it be useful to the regular online readership? I told Mo I would take my concerns to the PBGs and see what they had to say.

As I said, Their comments were profound but also confounding. They warned about distraction. Or maybe it was the comment, "Sure, distract yourself for a bit, the true direction change will come after this little side trip". Perhaps I miss read the signs all-together.

Then there was the park bench with the bag half full of collected bottles and cans. I found it in the middle of a deserted park. My assumption is that it was collected by some poor homeless person. Why they left it behind (and some mens' clothing as well) is a mystery to me (and will probably stay that way too). On a whim, I added the bottles and cans I had already collected into the bag. I don't know if my action was participation in a mini miracle for a street person, annoyed an overworked city cleanup worker or whether my "contribution" will simply be tossed in the nearby garbage bin. Only the PBGs know for sure what part this act plays in the Plan.

Next, the PBGs, through various course corrections and distractions, brought me to a community playground that was under construction. The park was well off my chosen path and it was surprising that I had arrived there at all. It turned out that the community work crew was short 5 people and behind schedule. They wanted to get the site ready for pouring concrete that was coming in a couple of hours.

To make a long story short, I volunteered to help out and worked from 12:30 to 8:00! I am an Agent of the PBGs. Where they lead, I follow (... sometimes, eh Jack?)

After I had a quick shower, Mo & I went to the church movie night. The movie they showed was "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing". Wow! Does that movie ever dove-tail into my weekend conversation! It is a bout how interconnected our lives are and how small actions of one person can have dramatic effect on another person. Hello? Sound familiar? Agents of the PBGs unite!

BTW... I even did a search on the internet to read the reactions of other people to the movie. I found more interesting hits to the search string "Thirteen Conversations About the Same Thing". Sometimes a miss-quoted string gives you 'better' hits because it side-steps the corporate analysis and mainstream reviews. It also takes you to the dough-head pages of people who are too careless to quote it properly. Alas.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Be Consistent

8.8 Km,48:25.21, Hazy, 13 °C, 11 km wind

The message for today, while comforting, does not seem, to me, to be a Suggestion or Supposition.

The PBGs say "Count on Us to have the consistency of a sunrise and the Love of a Rose."

Our conversation was fixated on consistency & spontaneity/impulsiveness (my (?) fault, probably). The PBGs reminded me that it is not They that are inconsistent forces in the world. On the contrary! It is us, the hands of the PBGs, that are at the root of most inconsistent behavior. If we didn't have free will, we would be more like a rose and bloom at the appointed time and die with the chill winds of fall.

Instead, we long for things we can't reasonably expect to have, strive for things beyond our grasp, and toil endlessly for things we do not exactly need.

Don't get me wrong, our free will is as much a blessing as a curse. We are the builders of a new world. The future is in our hands. We also have the ability to be the destroyers of the world.

I believe that is why the PBGs gave us free will. And also why it is imperative that all our actions be actions of heart-felt Love and thought-full reflection.

One more thought from the PBGs (I know, it has also been written down in some other popular Book):

"To thine own self be true"

Here is someone who seems to know the flip side of being consistent. Randomness, the internet and the PBGs brought me to his site. I sent a message of encouragement to him. I like to call it blog tag.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Back To School

11 Km, 56:48.6, Partly cloudy, 11 °C, 4 Km wind.

Yesterday was the first day of school for my kids. Since my son is in grade 7 this year, he was especially nervous about going back to school.

As it happens, Hunter, who is the boy I taught how to make a snowman last year (see Suggestion #2) stopped me this morning. He remembered me from last year and wanted to talk to me! We had a short chat about his first day at school. He was worried and confessed that had cried the night before.

I told him that my own son was going into grade 7 and that he needed a hug too. Hunter seemed very glad to hear that. Today, I chanced to see Hunter again and his first day was great. He was no longer concerned about school and seemed to think it was fun.

I keep telling the PBGs that I want some connection with the people I see on my running route (perhaps I have that wrong; maybe it is Them encouraging me to connect with them). Well it is starting to happen.

I am now a fixture. Someone to confide in.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003


On Official PBG Business

Here I hope to list people or tasks that qualify as being OOPBGB
  • MissFlibberty - kia kaha (Stay Strong in Maori) from New Zealand
  • Hunter - on a quest to slay the red dragon of fear
  • Ms. Grooms - English teacher who inspired Nicki P to be a writer.
  • Steve Conley - Marathon runner(?) and Cartoonist raising money for "medical care and other vital services for people with HIV/AIDS in the DC area".

People of the PBGs

Here is a list of people I have met that are definitely People of the PBGs.
  • Shirley - aka "the Slipper Lady" of the Lee Ridge Laundromat
  • The nice couple who collect bottles on their walk and give the proceeds "to the kids when they ask for some" (whatever that means)
  • Hunter - Grade 1 boy who struggles with his (ordinary) fears. I usually encounter him on his front porch
  • Janet Carter - Elementary Teacher's Aid and Bus Friend.
  • Divya - Shy "Bus Song" singer and pint size Bus Friend.

Other posts I have made that refer to this page

People who have visited the PBGs and dropped me a note about it

Monday, September 01, 2003

PBGs Summary

Summary of Suggestions and Suppositions to-date
Here is a quick summary of the "Inducements" ("commandments" is simply too strong a word for the PBGs). For a full explanation of what these inducements meant to me at the time I was given them, follow the links.
  • Suggestion 1: It's not about fee for service.
  • Suggestion 2: It's not about what you get (from the world), it's about what you add.
  • Suggestion 3: It may seem like you're being tested, but rest assured, the PBGs are not keeping score.
  • Suggestion 4 (1): The fact that you cannot perceive all of the PBGs' Plan does not preclude you from being a part of it. Right or wrong, your actions make the Plan unfold.
  • Suggestion 4 (2): The PBGs will help you reveal the part of the Plan inside your heart, but it is up to you to decide to act on it.
  • Suggestion 5: It is better by far to do something in Love, than it is to simply do something.
  • Suggestion 6: Humor. It is a gift from the gods. Use it wisely.
  • Suggestion 7: What's important is not what others think of you, but what you think is Right.
And Here are the Suppositions so far:
  • Supposition a): A small coincidence can have a large meaning and a large coincidence can have no meaning; it all depends on your frame of mind.
  • Supposition b): How things Seem and how they Are often differ. Which is more important depends on the observer.
  • Supposition c): Life is a Journey. Even the distractions laid in your path are part of the Journey. It may seem like the distractions pull you away from "The One True Path" but that is a lie. Your path is what you choose it to be.
  • Supposition d): It is just as productive to try to predict the plan as it is to try to push it.
You may have noticed that there are two Suggestions numbered 4. When I wrote them into my running journal, I didn't notice this error in numbering. When I discovered it later on, the numbering seemed appropriate because both Suggestions are essentially the same. So I have left it that way. The PBGs truly work in mysterious (and, I think, wonderful) ways.