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

Nov 132013
 

Just after the rebellious 50’s (think West Side Story) my mom’s image of the perfect woman was Hollywood’s Doris Day. Then the‘60s finally took hold and everything changed.

Propelled by principled opposition to outdated values, youth of the ’60s joined the countercultural fight for feminism, environmental awareness, civil rights and peace.

And many of us, during JFK’s term, bought into the vision of President Kennedy’s ‘Peace Corps’ – thinking we could change the world by promoting world peace and friendship: “ask not what your country can do for you…”

We were wrong: the “Cold War”, the Cuban Missile Crises, and JFK’s assassination … the end of “Camelot”.

Then the Beatles and the “British Invasion” happened … and the situation, although serious, didn’t seem hopeless any more.

We also embraced Dylan’s protest song ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’ and ‘If I Had a Hammer’ by Peter, Paul and Mary – who also sang John Lennon’s, ‘Give Peace a Chance’ at the historical “I Have a Dream” rally by Martin Luther King Jr.  

Like the ‘50’s, our parents didn’t like our rebellious attitude – as the ‘60s song by Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ seemed to capture: “Getting so much resistance from behind”. 

Later, during our careers, we rebelled at work too and felt like ‘crash test dummies’ for our efforts, but we wanted those same hard-fought-for societal changes incorporated into business.

We never wanted to be anyone’s problem – but when you’re young and feel your back is up against the wall, you find out what you’re made of… what you’ve always been made of.

We may have been idealistic … with no clue how to go about things … but, like West Side Story rebelliousness, we knew what we were against:  blind obedience.

 “Well some say life/ will beat you down
Break your heart/ steal your crown”
Learning To Fly by Tom Petty

 Suddenly, we grew up – the world changed and we got older. Many of our heroes burned out, died or just faded away. We were on our own.

“So I’ve started out/ for God knows where
I guess I’ll know/ when I get there”

To paraphrase Malcolm Muggeridge (host of the TV series A Third Testament), he said the existentialist philosopher Kierkegaard talked of those who stick their heads up, only to have them chopped off by life’s great scythe of leveling, saying: “… leap then … into the ever loving arms of God.” Some did.

Now, 50 years later, our kids are where we were – raising families and trying to live life responsibly.

A ‘Zoomer’ boomer message to today’s youth: cultivate inner peace.

photographer: reedy

photographer: reedy

You can only do what you can do.  So, after presenting yourself to the world – quoting from the greatest minds – still, just be you. A good friend once advised, “Keep tilting at ‘windmills’, especially your own!”

“I’m learning to fly/ but I ain’t got wings/                                                                               Coming down/ is the hardest thing”

Yet, I’ve been blessed. I found my love, ‘Maria’… but unlike West Side Story’s tragic outcome, I’ve lived “happily ever after.


Fred Parry

www.fredparry.ca                 Nov 2013