Feb 022014
 

Seems like everyone has had “aha” moments; here’s one of mine.

“First” was a greyhound … and, I mean, what a dog! There wasn’t anything he couldn’t destroy: my dad’s rec room walls, clothing, shoes, and seat belts… if you left him alone in the car, even for a minute.

Before we were married, my wife and I were visiting relatives in Detroit and someone said there was this fabulous greyhound for sale. Cool! We decided to check it out.

“Why do you call him First?” I asked the owner.

“Well”, came the reply, “before he retired from the track, he was always the ‘leader of the pack’.” 

Scanning the couch, where First seemed unconscious, it was hard to believe, but the people seemed sincere and with ‘eyes wide shut’ we bought him.

Asleep again on the back seat during the drive home, I remember saying optimistically, “Maybe that’s how the great ones are… you know, relaxed until the time of a race.” Nope! First was just lethargic – all the time!

Until… one day we were at a large sprawling park during a lazy summer afternoon, when something caught his interest. I can still see him … stretched out in full flight … like the Greyhound bus logo. Covering the park in seconds, First was born to run and be happy.

And people, no matter what they do, also want happiness… but how?

“Once I rose above the noise and confusion/ Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion”Carry on My Wayward Son by Kansas

Scientifically, MRI studies – detecting chemical releases in the brain – have shown we’re naturally happy when even contemplating helping others.

Spiritually, the Dalai Lama says, “We should implement the teachings of compassion, tolerance and forgiveness in our life to be happy.”

And, I’ve found happiness begins by realizing that whatever good we’ve done, it’ll never measure up to what we’ve been given: life. So, it only seems right to count our blessings and use our talents to give something back. Yet, it’s disheartening to know I could be: more forgiving, loving, generous, and disciplined… less critical and self-absorbed.

“You gotta get it right, while you got the time/
You can’t close your, your mind!”
– Man in the Mirrorby Michael Jackson

Beauty & Grace

Surveys show we’re no happier today than 50 years ago – despite being twice as affluent. Why? Well, before the past year drifts too far away in our memory, what were your most satisfying moments? Maybe an outstanding community achievement, or perhaps some little thing you did to help someone. I like to see these experiences as snapshots in time – like that Greyhound image – catching us in full flight, being happy.

No time? Time guru Stephen Covey reminded us that we can say “no” to so many distractions, by having a sense of destination that says “yes” to things that matter most.

“You fill up my senses, come fill me again” – Annie’s Song by John Denver

Aha! We’re not perfect? Perfection’s not necessary for happy endings.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca Feb 2014

 

Jan 122014
 

Every year around this time, I once again take stock of my priorities for personal growth and, in general, my best take on how I can achieve them.

That might seem a bit wishy-washy … what with no timeline or any specific target dates … but that’s how I deal with it. Things have to inspire me.

“And the sign said: The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls”
Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel

So, my 2014 “strategic plan” includes a “blast from the past”: the timeless ‘Desiderata’.

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

(Talk less and listen more.)

“As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. ”

(That`s how you do it.)

“Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.”

(Yep!)

Creation

Creation

“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. ”

(Recently, my new book, ‘The Music In Me’, was published. At first, I wondered: Who am I to think that I can write a book? I asked this of an international best seller author who graciously replied. Her advice was that it`s pointless to compare your writing to others … to write with honesty and with as much skill as you have … adding that the more you do it, the better you get at it. I sent her a copy.)

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. ”

(“Without love, where would you be right now?” – Long Train Runnin’  by the Doobie Brothers)

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. ”

(Lighten up while you still can, don’t even try to understand – Take it Easy by the Eagles)

 “Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. ”

(“And I think to myself / what a wonderful world– by Louis Armstrong)

 

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca            Jan 2014

Dec 222013
 

“The Blog to be a Book!”

Last August, 2013, I wrote these words. Now, because of the help of many people, I can happily say:  “The Blog IS a Book!”

My hope was that, if you enjoyed the FredParry.ca blog, you would enjoy a book of the blog’s “greatest hits”.

So now, as then, I offer you these simple words – a celebration of life, really: by the living, for the living.

Best wishes … always,

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca                  Dec 2013

Fred G. Parry

Dec 202013
 

I read about a street person who, because his dog wasn’t welcome in soup kitchens or overnight shelters, would forgo eating and a secure night’s sleep. But, he was happy to do so. Happy?!

“Greater love has no one than this..."

“Greater love has no one than this…”

Think about that for a moment. Let the enormity of that wash over you. How many of us can endure the harshness of going hungry – let alone living on the street –  especially during cold, winter nights?

I don’t know about you, but for me, having to even go an extra long stretch – let’s say between breakfast and dinner – can give me a headache.  I mean, to our rational minds, it doesn’t make any sense. How does someone do it knowing there is no guarantee, or expectation, of having a next meal?

To understand what this means, read the words of holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl, who wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning,  “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Believing that there’s a reason or there’s something bigger than you to live for, means everything. Biblical Christian teaching, for example, explains it this way, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” To some, pet ownership means survival is possible.

I can see why veterinarian Michelle Lem, MSc, started her free mobile clinic to treat the pets of the homeless … estimated at 20% of the street people population. Her volunteer veterinarian team provide basic pet care services and how-to tips.

The Toronto Star interviewed a young street person who explains his strong feelings for his dog this way: “She’s the only thing I’ve got in this world, besides my life, and my life ain’t going anywhere. I’m there for her and she’s there for me.”

It’s not really about the pet; it’s about the love the dog brings… a street rarity sometimes meaning more than life itself. 

The more cynical among us would say it’s ridiculous. Putting the welfare of a dog above your own is like not having the sense to “come in out of the rain.” There seems no reason to suffer and sacrifice, like that, over a “dumb animal”.

Yet, if that’s true, then how does one explain the actions of someone at the opposite end of the cultural and social spectrum, like a veterinarian, who is out on the street… regardless?

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these sunken eyes and learn to see”             – Blackbird by The Beatles  

As a nurse, who spent her whole adult life helping the homeless, Order of Canada recipient, Anna Kaljas, once complained that we have places for homeless cats and dogs, but not enough places for homeless men and women.

What this means to me is that were missing a piece of the puzzle. Yes, let’s teach people to help themselves – a helping hand, not just a hand out – but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the offering or not offering … of love … says more about us than about them.

To whom much is given…

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca December 2013

Dec 142013
 

“There are places I remember all my life/ though some have changed” In My Life by John Lennon

John Lennon’s words filled my heart today as I gazed out the restaurant’s windows to see the hectic Christmas scene outside: cars racing about parking lots, people in hurried motion and trains going on through.

I was resigned to turn away from all this “sound and fury”, when I noticed some solitary maple trees – right in front of me. Void of their leaves now, they were impressive in their calm, unchanging nature … silent observers against the busy background.

For me the missing leaves are our memories lost.

What will be remembered of our lives years from now? I believe it will be the faces of people who really made a difference.

“And these memories lose their meaning/ When I think of love as something new”

This year, we are having Christmas at home – our farmhouse – where we’ve lived now for over 30 years. Most of our immediate family and a few close in-laws and friends are expected to make an appearance for Christmas and/or Christmas day dinner. We also plan to have a real Christmas tree (maybe), but I’m sure … real Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 

Why are we going all out this year? I think it’s about aging and time. I mean, of course, we older ones – with less certainly than before – can’t take relatively good health for granted, and our friends, our kids and their kids, will never be this age again. It marks a defining point. We can all stand together and marvel at the season and collectively be grateful for all the blessings we’ve been afforded. Happy faces.

I remember a story about a boy who wanted badly to hear the bells of Santa’s sleigh and how years later he can still hear them when others around him no longer can.

I thought to myself, has it really been that long since I heard those silver bells? I finally settled on the realization that if we can’t, it’s probably because (believe it or not) we get too old, too fast.

But, the real point is that no matter what our financial or family situation is this Christmas, we still have each other … a chance to share and give something of ourselves. Maybe the only way we will ever really hear those bells again, is by believing we can.   

As I finish this edition, I’m reminded, once again, of how simple life is and how incredibly complex I try to make it: worrying about things as if they mattered, when they don’t. It’s almost beyond belief – but then again, perhaps that’s what Christmas is all about

“Though I know I’ll never lose affection/ For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them/ In my life I love you more”

May we hear the joyous bells ring out for us this Christmas … as they’ve always done … as they always will.

Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca      Dec 2013