A good quote…or is it?

Recently I read the following quote, attributed to G.K. Chesterton. I thought it a very good one, worth sharing:

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”

The problem is that so far, I cannot verify that Chesterton ever in fact wrote it. This is driving the librarian in me crazy. If anyone knows the exact source — in which of Chesterton’s writings this statement is found — I’d be very grateful.

UPDATE: I’ve since determined pretty definitively that Chesterton never wrote this, or anything close to it. Thanks to an archivist friend, I found several sources, including this one, that debunk that notion.

Dogs are special gifts

Dogs are special gifts to us humans.

Take, for example, the dog shown in the featured photo for this post, a mini Australian Shepherd who happens to be deaf. She is one of three dogs in our household, and my favorite.

Although a family dog and one who loves everybody, she seems to enjoy my company, and I feel like I have a strong bond with her. She is about 18 months old, so she is mature in terms of growth, but still quite young.

Few things warm my heart as much as her excitement at seeing me after an absence, the way she greets me, and the way she often chooses to lay at my feet. Because of hearing loss, she is very visual as well as sensitive to touch. She has such a sweet nature, and isn’t one to make a lot of fuss, unlike our two other dogs.

Rather than handicapped, I view her as special, in the best sense of that word: a special gift.

YouTube bingeing

Like many others during this lockdown period, I’ve overdosed a bit on watching YouTube videos on nights and weekends. It turns out, though, that it’s not all a waste of time, of looking at mindless drivel. Some channels are quite interesting and educational. Others, like the seemingly endless number of Carol Burnett Show clips, are somewhat mindless but they most definitely are not drivel. Humor is really important and necessary, now more than ever, and few shows have ever been as consistently funny as that one.

My wife told me about Doing It Ourselves, a new channel on YouTube, and I have enjoyed each weekly installment. The channel documents a family’s experience with buying and fixing up a grand French chateau. The channel’s creator/narrator, named Michael, is amazingly gifted, and I particularly enjoy the fact that he has chosen an approach to telling his stories that is positive, interesting, and real, with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure from time to time. The amount of hard work put into the chateau and its environs is inspiring.

I also stumbled across a channel about a guy named Daniel who decided to chuck the rat race to build a sustainable life for himself in the rural West Country of Ireland. He bought a small property with a decrepit old cottage and some outbuildings a few years ago, and set about restoring everything. Mossy Bottom tells the story of his experiences so far, along with his faithful dog, Moss, and a growing menagerie of other animals. This series inspires, educates, and amuses in turn. I admire Daniel’s ethics as well as his vision for his life.

Then there are musicians who’ve decided to hold mini concerts from home since they cannot tour. These aren’t a big deal to me with the exception of a regular weekly series of performances by Mary Chapin Carpenter called Songs from Home. I like some of her music, true, but I especially enjoy what she has to say and how she says it, and above all else, her dog, a beautiful golden retriever named Angus. As Mary says at the end of each session: Stay strong, stay mighty.

These are only a few of the things I’ve been watching. Another good series is Dinner with the Gaffigans by the American comedian, Jim Gaffigan, who films his dinner table conversations with fellow comedian and wife, Jeannie, and their five kids in lockdown in New York City. There is a lot of dreck on YouTube, just as there is on social media and the Internet in general, but I hope these mentions show that there is also a lot of good stuff worth watching to expand the mind and lift your spirits.

So, what’s next?

After a low key debut a day ago for this latest blog effort, what’s next?

Many different thoughts are jumbled together in my head at the moment, and because of COVID-19, each day seems to blend into the next one without a whole lot of variation.

I’m thinking, for example, of how my living room window has become my TV, especially in the early morning as I sit in an armchair next to it, sipping my coffee and assessing the day ahead. We live on a hill with the living room on the steep side. This means that the view is over the rooftops of neighboring houses and showcases the many mature trees in our area, primarily large oak and pine trees. We are blessed (?) with many squirrels and raccoons, as well as a wide variety of birds, which are what I particularly like to watch. It all makes for interesting viewing, a mixture of drama and comedy and everything in between. The featured photo for this post was taken from that living room window on a recent gloomy and foggy day. The word ‘atmospheric’ comes to mind when looking at it.

Another thing on my mind at the moment is the amount of work I need to do to finish the class I’ve taught this Spring, and the constant weight of guilt I feel about how the class went. Even before COVID-19 hit, the semester seemed a mess. It was the first time teaching this particular class, however, and even in the best of circumstances, the first time is always extra challenging and difficult. Then, too, I don’t have much time to prepare for the next class I’ll be teaching over the summer, which starts in just a few short weeks.

Some days, difficult situations at work and at home get to be too much, so I decided to take Thursday and Friday as vacation. However, Thursday was spent trying to cope with a migraine, and Friday, I accomplished pretty much zero other than a long nap and creating this blog. The concept of productivity has also been on my mind a lot lately, and I’ve appreciated and learned from various articles in the news advising us to think differently about productivity during the time of the coronavirus. Actually, it seems to me that the coronavirus has nothing to do with it, or shouldn’t. By this I mean that the time is ripe for reimagining what accomplishments and productivity really mean, and whether they should have such an important place in our daily lives, regardless of living in a time of pandemic.

A final thought in closing is about the value and experience of counseling. I began counseling late last year with some trepidation, for the first time in my life. My reasons for seeking counseling are many and complex, but I think the most valuable aspect of it is in helping me to develop and strengthen good and healthy relational habits. Counseling is also helping me to come to terms with many long term and painful past experiences.

So, what’s next? My desire for what’s next is a more thoughtful and balanced perspective on life, and one that is also more redolent with peace, hope, and joy.

Welcome to a new blog

After a long absence and two previous blogs that I deliberately deleted out of existence (you won’t even find them on the Wayback Machine), here I go again. The About page explains my choice of blog name, so I won’t regurgitate that whole story here.

Writing is important, necessary, and sometimes, therapeutic. Doing it well is difficult and takes practice. For all of these reasons and more, it seems a good thing now to get some practice in via this latest blog. If I attract a readership, great, but that is not the only goal.

I think about a wide variety of topics, so don’t expect a consistent focus. But something I really hope to do here over time is to begin to flesh out stories of my family, of my growing up years. At this life stage, I frequently look back on my family history and realize there are many interesting stories to tell, and I want to somehow document them. Maybe someday my own children will read them and pass things along to their children. My childhood was very different from theirs, after all.

Other topics to come include questions about and experiences with faith and theology, exploring the natural world via photography, and reflections on librarianship and my extensive experience with teaching those who want to become librarians. The tone used will range from possibly profound to simply silly.