Archives For Personal Reflections

philosophical thoughts about life

An Audience of One….

April 8, 2015

2015-03-25_16-49-25Those of us who blog have many tools at our disposal to see just how many people are reading what we write. Those statistics are always lurking on the edges of the page we use to generate our daily posts. They seem to be whispering “look at me”. How can we not do push the buttons?

There are also hundreds of books out there telling you what you need to do to increase your post visits. They tell you to blog about niches where others don’t and you will be toward the top of the search engine listing in that category. They tell you how to add tags and such to increase your site’s chances of being found. I admit that I do pay some, probably too much,  attention to these things. After all we all want to know that someone is taking the time to read what we write. For those so inclined there is a lot of emphasis about getting your post counts up so you can make more money via advertisements on your site.

It all comes down to why we blog.

Do we do it for money?

Do we do it for fame?

Do we do it to get a point across?

Do we do it for fun?

Do we do it for ourselves?

I believe I do blog to a degree for the last three reasons.  I want to convince as many as possible that looking at things from different angles will allow us to make better choices.  For that reason I do become somewhat discouraged when some posts that I think is awesome in that regard gets less views than one I simply jotted down in a minute. Sometimes I just fall in love with my own words a little too much.

But I also blog just because I like to play around with “words”. Saying things just the “right” way is a challenge to me and I enjoy when I think I get it just right. So in that regard I do it for myself and post count shouldn’t matter…

2015-03-25_16-21-53I admit that I do get discouraged when only a few visit my page on a given day. That is especially true when I see some of the blogs I visit have many times more viewers than I do.

But then I look at all this from a different angle. Thomas Jefferson was perhaps our most prolific founding father. His library was the foundation for our current library in congress. He spent his post-presidency years reading, studying, and writing. I have several books on my bookshelf behind me and on my Kindle reader to attest to the fact that he wrote thousands of letters and personal journals that were never read by more than a handful of people during his life.  Was he discouraged that more people did not read what he wrote? I don’t think so.  He wrote because he had to, it was just part of his nature.  I like to think I do the same thing so I have to get over my sometimes obsession with post views and to appreciate the fact that, unlike Jefferson, I always have more than an audience of one…

2015-03-20_19-39-57In the 17th century, the French philosopher René Descartes came up with the “explanation for it all”: I think, therefore I am. Descartes is considered the Father of Modern Day philosophy but being a relative novice in this area I kind of put that label on Plato or Socrates. Philosophy is something that I have always been peripherally interested in but never delved much into.  I have to put that on my bucket list I guess. I bet very few people have it there. 🙂  But this is not the real topic of this post. It is more about the phrase than the inventor.

Two things that I have always gushed with in my life is dreaming and thinking. I never seem to be capable of just shutting down my brain in those two areas. During my ten-year study of things theological I became fascinated with the Quaker religion. They just seem to have it for the most right among all the religious sects I studied. A big part of their church services is “centering down”. That is sitting quietly opening your mind to private messages from God. This proved to be very difficult for me but I do on occasion accomplish it. But for the most part I can’t quit thinking about things of life.

I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who would get all their news of the world from one cable media source and to take all the propraganda  by that channel as truth. It boggles my mind that there are millions of such people in the U.S. They don’t look for alternatives to what they are told. They simply don’t think that thinking for themselves is of any value I guess. By the same token I can’t imagine going through life without dreaming of other possibilities. To be dreaming that things can be better than they are now or have been in the past is simply something I am constantly doing.

So, I very much align with my own personal definition of “I think, therefore I am”.  I don’t know if I am really weird about this or just one of the few who will admit that I am constantly thinking and dreaming.  If I weren’t doing that I would question if I am really living? A  big part of the thinking and dreaming show up on this blog and I hope some at least get a little insight into life from my words. I always try to be respectful of everyone I come across and I hope that shows up here also. But a big part of my thinking is how we can improve the human condition of man. I have no illusions of grandeur. I don’t expect to be able to do more than very minutely nudge anyone from their set of beliefs but I hope I at least get some to think outside of the boxes they have built around themselves.  Maybe I think about too much stuff that really doesn’t matter to many but that is who I am.

I think, therefore I am…..

My Alter Ego

April 1, 2015

AlterEgoThis post is kind of like an April Fools joke on myself.

I think all of us have to one degree or another an alter ego.  That is a second self who is distinctively different from who we presently are day-to-day. Many of my personal journal posts are to my alter ego “Joe”.  He is my younger much more timid and less sure self. It took me many years to move out of that mode and to a degree I am still sometimes stuck there.

Before I go any further lets look at the “official” definition of alter ego.

Alter ego

An alter ego is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person’s normal or original personality. A person who has an alter ego is said to lead a double life. Cicero was the first to coin the term as part of his philosophical construct in 1st century Rome, but he described it as “a second self, a trusted friend”.

Joe grew up in a single parent household with a stoic father. Mirrors were not his favorite thing. He thought he had a weak chin and just didn’t like looking at himself. He would never look into a mirror and imagine who he might become. He was for the most part never encouraged to do anything. He was never shown much affection and therefore was very reluctant to show any himself. Joe was one of those guys who always slipped into the background of life too shy to admit that he had an opinion on things let alone actually tell anyone what he might be thinking.  Joe was always a dreamer but never had much ambition. He was always doubtful that he was as good as most of those around him. Joe never had a mentor who might have been able to drag him outside of himself. Even though he was the first in his extended family to go to college he, like his father, never had much faith in himself.

If you haven’t guessed by now the J in RJ is for Joe and yes he is my alter ego. It took years for RJ to final come to the surface and leave Joe behind in the shadows. In some ways many of my posts are to Joe as to try to encourage him understand that he is a contributor to the world around him. He is unique and matters in life.  I feel deeply for all those young kids around today who might be stuck in the “Joe” mode. I wish I could be there for each  and every one of them.

Future-1This post finishes up my multi-part “insights” series about where and how I go from here.  My overall goal is to do what is necessary to live a happy, wild, and free retirement. Some of my commitments are personal in nature so I won’t be sharing them here. But I will give you the others. It was a very enlightening time for me. I finally managed to “listen to myself” and gain some new sometimes surprising insights:

  • I vow to be more tolerant of other’s beliefs but that does not mean I will let others run roughshod over me. I believe that we are all praying to the same God. It is simply that humanity has managed to invent so many versions of God to meet our own expectations. I heard a quote the other day that sums this concept up. It goes “And on the third day man created God...” God is God and it is not up to me to decide what he believes, how he judges, or even what he does or maybe even more importantly doesn’t do. It is also not up to me to determine who he will “save” but I personally do believe that in the end we will all be reconciled with him. Finally It is up to me to listen for the things she gives me for living my live as she wants me to.
  •  I vow to try harder to do what my blog header says and to not take myself or life for that matter too seriously. Life, especially mine, is too short to worry about things that I can’t possibly change. It is also too short to fear what others might do.
  • I vow to live more truly to my purpose in life. It is what drives me as a person. It is who God intends for me to be. But I also learned that as the saying goes all work, toward purpose or not, and no play makes RJ a dull boy so I vow spend time to just have some fun for fun’s sake.
  • I vow to do more to live my life with zest.  I vow to ask myself each day what will make me happy and then to accomplish that wish on some level. I will also strive to do some creative activity every day.
  • I vow to never again just sit back and wait for fate to happen to me.  Fate is what I make of life. It is not a static thing to come over me. For the most part I make my own fate.
  • I vow to work harder to see the unnoticed things in life and to celebrate them within myself and with others. 
  • I vow to celebrate my eccentricity and to embrace creativity wherever I discover it. 
  •  I vow to not put off things that will make my happy and fulfilled until tomorrow. I don’t have enough tomorrows left for that kind of indecision.
  • I vow to my own self to be true….

AgsinstTheStreamYou have two choices in life: You can disappear into the mainstream , or you can be true to yourself and swim against the current. One is a form of self-abandonment ; the other is an adventure into new worlds and dimensions. — from Life’s Secret Handbook…

If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up way too much space. — Unknown wise person

“It’s never too late,” concluded George Eliot, “to be what you might have been.” In this regard, retirement gives you the time and freedom to become more than you have ever been. In fact, it may be your last shot to become the type of person you have always wanted to become. Why not take advantage of it.

Yes, I am thoroughly enjoying retirement! The best part is observing my neighbors drive off to work in the morning knowing that their day will be filled with jerks, brainless and endless meetings, jerks, vendor lunches where you hold your breath just waiting for the sales pitch until you regurgitate your pasta, more jerks and the eventual company reorganization of the section that was just reorganized last month! — Bill Kalmar

Zelinski, Ernie  How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor (Kindle)

Lets finish up these “insight” reports with an absurd amount of clichés. 🙂

Do you want to be ordinary and live your life among millions of other vanilla flavored people or do you want to step out from the crowd? That is the question each of us has to ask  ourselves and hopefully we can answer that before it is too late to doing anything about it.

My father, God rest his soul, had a pretty low self-esteem and he passed that trait on to me, at least in my first trimester of life. I was a bashful kid who didn’t want to bring any attention to myself. I very gladly stayed very much in the middle the crowd. As I matured I discovered I had unique things to offer this world.  All of us have unique gifts, they are called God’s wishes for our lives that is if we ever manage to discover them. As I entered the last trimester I became determined to swim against the current. It is where I belonged all along but took me years to realize that fact.

Retirement gives me time and freedom to become more than I have ever been. There were many times in my life I chose to not rock the boat. Some of those times might have jeopardized my career and some may have lost me friends. Retirement frees many of us from those hindrances or at least it should. Freedom to become more than I have ever been makes life exciting and fruitful.

I love the last quote about watching our neighbors drive off to work. It gave me an LOL moment. We all dream of what we will do when we punch the time clock for the final time. Don’t sit back and waste the opportunities  that your retirement years provide you…. Do something… Do Anything….



<<<This is part of a continuing series of my year-end discernment period. Scroll down the center bottom footer to see the earlier posts list>>>


Regardless of how much you want to immerse yourself in your major purpose or your most passionate pursuit in life, you should still learn how to enjoy other leisure activities. In the event that you are semi-retired, it’s wise to avoid being overly goal-oriented or judging yourself totally on work-related and materialistic accomplishments. The quality of each and every one of your retirement days should be evaluated , at least in part, by how much you relaxed, laughed, and played while immersed in activities other than your part-time job

Consider each day you haven’t laughed, played, and celebrated your life to be a wasted day. You were given three special gifts when you were born: the gifts of life, love, and laughter. Learn to share these gifts with the rest of the world. And the rest of the world will play happily with you.

Zelinski, Ernie  How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor (Kindle)


These quote from Ernie seem to come directly from that “big book of cliches” found somewhere in the sky, but there is wisdom to each one of them. Fulfilling your purpose should never be a all-consuming thing in your retirement years. You also need to play, laugh, and just have fun. Sometime the two things intermingle. Sometimes we discover part of our purpose is to make others smile. Sometimes it is just being there for someone else when they are down.

Having fun is a goal worth our time in our senior years. Retirement books have hundreds, well probably thousands, of ways to find what makes you happy so I won’t go into that here but once you find something that makes you happy spend some time every day doing just that. For me two of the tbings that make me happy is to blog about life and to take photos of life.  I have always been a photo buff and I am honing those skills in my senior years.

I love trying to look at life both figurative and literally from a different angle and then showing others a different way to view things.  So, photography is one of the important things in my life that makes me happy.  As a Christmas present to myself I bought a new higher end digital camera to view life from a different angle.  I am also spending much of these cold winter months playing, some would say learning, several different photo apps to morph some of my creations that don’t quite look like my mind’s eye sees them. If you are interested in it see my new blog over at for how this plays out.

Don’t get too serious about life. It is also a time to laugh and try new things. At least that is what I am trying to do more of in this new year.


<<<This is part of a continuing series of my year-end discernment period. Scroll down the center bottom footer to see the earlier posts list>>>