The Humanity of Routine

People are creatures of habit. 


They form routines and function with relative comfort and efficiency within that. 


And for the most part, we can recognize our own patterns in life. 


Get up, brush our teeth, dress, daven (pray), go to work and so on. 


After a while, you can do it mostly in your sleep. 


We sort of become like automatons. 


Flip the switch and we go.


When routine and structure become so rigid that we can no longer improvise or innovate then we have a big problem in higher order functioning. 


But also when we break people’s structures and habits, we find that they can quickly lose their sh*t. 


People need to control their time and maintain their patterns of life. 


Therein lies a certain safety and comfort in that repetitive doing.


You know what you’re doing–you’ve done it before, so you can do it again.


If you strip a person of their control over their time and the structure of their behavior, they are truly naked and in much more than a physical sense.  (They articulated this in The Punisher, Season One, on Netflix)


All of a sudden they don’t know what to do or how to do it. 


Do they go crazy, breakdown, or tell you everything you want to know. 


Torture is not just physical, but also mental and emotional. 


It is not hard to take away something so simple and a person is no longer a full person anymore. 


People need solid coping as well as survival skills to deal with the unknown.


Finally, appreciate when everything is more or less under control, because that’s truly a blessing.  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Feeding Frenzy

A colleague told me something really great. 


Once a month she helps others in the office that are less fortunate. 


She told me that the cleaning people have various disabilities, and they are underappreciated for the difficult work they do. 


So once a month she treats them for breakfast!


As I got on the elevator with her, some of the cleaning people were calling to her in a frenzy asking when they were doing the next one. 


She told them the date, and they seemed so happy and valued. 


I thought to myself, WOW!–what an amazing gesture of compassion, kindness, and charity for others.  


It’s not necessarily the money itself, but rather making a habit out of doing something good for others. 


I imagined G-d looking down from Heaven at this lady and that she would never be hungry because she makes sure to feed breakfast and gratitude to others. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hammer and Nail

Often, we have a one size fits all orientation to life. 

“To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”


We try to solve fresh daily problems, yet everything we are going through is seen through our preset filters and mindsets. 


In many cases, we are simply and undeniably biased, mistakenly believing that what worked in the past or for particular challenges will always work in the future and for all our problems. 


We stereotype people and races and see them as either “the good guys” or “the bad guys”–but there’s no grey in there to further differentiate.  


Also, we work in a comfortable zone of blind routine thinking that we wish it’s all as simple as wash, rinse, and repeat.


But while some die-hard habits and lessons learned in life are very valuable and should be mentally recorded and referenced, seeing life through a single, or even a few handy-dandy, filters can prove disastrous when things or times change. 


For example, one big criticism of our dealing in Washington is that:

“Politicians, like generals, have a tendency to fight the last war.”


Instead, if we evaluate the nuances of each person and particular situation, we can work to get a more detailed evaluation, and potentially be able to fine-tune approaches for what needs to be done, and how, with each and every one, accordingly. 


Chucking a batman belt approach to just using whatever tools are immediately available, can facilitate a broader and more creative approach to problem-solving. 


Sure, to a certain degree, we are creatures of habit–and we intuitively rely on what’s worked in the past, and reject and shun what hasn’t–but past experiences do not necessarily foretell future successes. 


If we don’t stay agile and resilient, we can easily get blown away by the situation or the competition. 


There is always a new challenge to test us and someone coming up who may be better, faster, or stronger that wants to try and take us on or down. 


A shotgun approach, in lieu of a more precise surgical strike, can result in a lot of collateral damage and maybe even missing the mark altogether. 


Think, think, think. 


Focus on what needs to get done–apply lessons learned as applicable, but also look for new sources and methods to build a bigger and more versatile tool chest.


In the walking dead, a hammer to the head works fairly well on all Zombies, but sometimes there are too many zombies in the hoard or even more dangerous living people and situations to attend to. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to stevepb)

Victorian Penny Car

Victorian Penny Car Victorian Penny Car 2 Victorian Pennies
I took these photos in Classic Motors of Washington, D.C. 



This car is made of Victorian Pennies from the U.K. 



The pennies are special (1837-1901) with an intricate design of British Queen Victoria. 



This car is one of only 9 in the entire world. 



The sign in the back window says, “This vehicle is not for sale.”



It’s got to be some job to get all those old pennies on this car. 



I remember when we were kids my sister had this long green plastic container for collecting pennies.  



Pennies already back in those days were worthless, and it was just a hobby to throw them in and see how many we could collect. 



After some years, the thing was so heavy, I could use it for my exercise routine.



So why do we still make stupid pennies…for classic collector vehicles?  



Old habits die hard, and the government is a big bureaucratic ship that doesn’t turn on a penny or dime or whatever–I think that’s the real reason we still do so many nonsensical things. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

There You Are

Head
So my niece forwarded this over, and I thought it was really worth sharing…



It’s about how our lives are really a bunch of building blocks, and each thing we do contributes to the next step.



So we have to be careful all along the way to do the right thing–so we can achieve the results we want and can be proud of.



It goes like this:



“Watch you thoughts; they become words.



Watch you words; they become actions.



Watch you actions; they become habits.



Watch your habits, they become character.



Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”



Sometimes, we ask ourselves how we got to where we are today–almost as if we are surprised–but the reality is that most of the time, we are going through our lives inch by inch and step by step in an incremental and causal fashion. 



Yes sh*t happens–bad things (and good things), and they test and challenge us and take us to the next playing level.



But for the most part, we didn’t just arrive at this moment out of the blue, but rather given what G-d has given us, we mold ourselves brick by brick….until there we are. 😉



(Thank you to Chana Rivkah Herbsman and Minna Blumenthal)



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Addictions R Us

Addictions R Us

I was having an really interesting conversation with a friend–okay, and it got a little deep.

He said something fascinating to me–which is that everyone is addicted to something.

Think about it–some are addicted to the hard stuff…drugs, alcohol, smoking.

Others are addicted to sex, work, shopping, exercise, even religion.

In modern times, there are new addictions to technology, gaming, and social media.

My friend is smart and we discussed or alluded to a number of reasons for the addictive nature of all people.

1) Meaning – Many people have a tough time dealing with the seemingly meaningless, mortal nature of their lives. Without a strong purpose and meaning, we can sort of float through every day looking for some anchor, stability, or rhythm. Addictions, for better or worse, can provide that habit or repetition compulsion. While not very meaningful itself, these addictions help people forget–temporarily, during their high or while they are being kept busy–that they are perhaps lost amidst it all.

2) Pain – Everyone has pain–emotional, physical, mental–these cause stress on people and their ability to deal or cope can be stretched thin, and they turn to some sort of addiction as a “crutch” to help them get through the day. It reminds me of a very crude song that I overheard years ago, called “F*ck the pain away” (excuse the language here, please). Anyway, simply replace the first word, with “work, shop, drink, and so on and poof, you have opiates (i.e. pain relief) for the masses.

3) Fear – People are afraid–afraid of living, afraid of dying–and addictions take us away from having the time to stop, think, and have to deal with our fears. If every minute, I am running around doing a million things–then I don’t have the time to shut it all down and out, and deal with what’s really going on inside. In fact, some people credit the Holy Sabbath day, as being beneficial to us to just stopping all that daily stuff at least for one day a week!

We are all human, and there is no one who is immune to looking for meaning, avoiding pain, and dealing with their fears.

The question is do we just throw ourselves into something to keep going or do we take more of a Buddhist approach, accept that life is suffering and try to raise ourselves above it through healthy balance, contemplative meditation, compassion and thinking about others, doing good deeds, and so on.

Keeping busy is good too–but going through life in a drug or otherwise induced fugue is not–then we’ve lost ourselves, which is maybe the point for our crazy world where addictions abound and we are all too happy to dive right in. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Miles Cave)

Smoke ’em Peace Pipe

Smoke 'em Peace Pipe

This was a funny picture that I took on A1A in Fort Lauderdale.

Who climbed up there and put that in his mouth? (Not me!)

And that red cone in front makes it look like a real smoking emergency.

Also, the Indian looks sick from smoking that thing.

Maybe a good ad for people to kick the habit.

But where would you put the nicotine patch? 😉