Daily Guide — June 2006



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 1 The Principle of Beauty


It is the temperate use of beauty which we must aim at, and a certain candour of observation, looking at all things, neither that we may condemn if we can, nor that we may luxuriously abandon ourselves to sensation, but that we may draw from contemplation something of the inner light of life.

   — Benson, Joyous Gard

Southern Snow

I’ll never forget the record-breaking 14″ snowfall that we had here in Augusta, GA back in February of 1973. For those of us living in the Deep-South, any snowfall is a big surprise. But 14 inches! Wow, that’s just unheard of.

I was eleven-years-old when my father came to school to pick up me and my sister. Because of the snowstorm, classes were suspended that day. Never before had we seen snow fall so hard and for so long. The conditions were perfect for ground accumulation. It was cold and dry, and the snow piled up quickly, leaving a pristine white blanket across the ground. The sharp edges of the world were replaced by curves and contours that then only hinted at things hidden below. There was an unusual quiet and stillness about the world – a cocoon-like presence that was comfortable, almost natural. I remember walking through the snow and marveling at how the world had changed.

Day 1 Guide

Do you still find things in life that surprise and delight your spirit? Maybe it’s a new friendship, a book, or a song. Search for things to awaken the slumbering mind. Try to see the world in a different light.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Days 2-4 Life


Wanting to elevate the flow of city traffic above its railroad, Atlanta, Georgia engineers in the 1920s constructed viaducts upon which downtown streets could be built. With streets then overhead, the resulting tunnels came to be known as Underground Atlanta, the city beneath the city. Today, Underground Atlanta is a tourist attraction and home to many local shops, eateries and nightclubs.

I remember visiting the underground city during what was then the tail-end of the “hippie” era (the late 1960s). Along with Peachtree Street, it was one of Atlanta’s most popular hangouts for the city’s “beat generation.” I was amazed at what I saw: street vendors selling incense and flowers, glass blowers, guitarists and hand-drummers playing for money, followers of Hare Krishna passing out booklets explaining their beliefs. The oddities that I saw made quite an impression on me, and I will never forget coming to know the strange side of life that flourished beneath the streets of Atlanta.

My general nature is to be tentative and afraid of the unconventional. I find myself struggling to keep the “color of life” pouring in through the windows of my soul. I’m constantly sifting through and thinking about my experiences in order to stay near the portals that might open up into new worlds of thought and ideas. These are the portals of creativity that keep my spirit alive.

Days 2-4 Guide

Constantly question the bounds of your own thought. Self-imposed restrictions can often times stop you from expanding your mind into areas that are important for creativity and optimal experience. Never discount the power of God’s hand in your life.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 5 Ideas


The prettiest Christmas tree is sometimes – though rarely — the first one that you look at when you go shopping for one. Most of the time, it takes hours of looking and measuring and thinking about the size and shape to narrow down the choices.

It was our Christmas tradition to visit a local store called Fat Man’s to find the perfect tree. And sure, it was fun to hunt through their big assortment of pines for the ideal find. But after an hour or so of looking, I was usually ready to just buy one and get home.

There was one particular Christmas when that special tree at Fat Man’s just stood there patiently waiting for us. It was full and tall, and the trunk was level straight. I didn’t see a thing wrong with it. It was perfect. And on top of that, it was the first one that we looked at.

“Wow, it was just too easy to find this one. Something had to be wrong with it,” we thought. So we looked some more, measured and re-measured, and then finally bought the tree and hauled it back home.

In the back of my mind on the way home I just knew that a flaw in the tree would appear after we put it in the stand. So I tried not to get too excited. But when finally we stood it up in the living room, it was just like we had originally thought: perfect, just perfect.

Day 5 Guide

Sometimes the best ideas are the first ones to pop in your head. Don’t throw away a good idea just because it came to you so easily. Consider it a gift. You deserve one every now and then, don’t you?

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 6 Poetry



A realtor friend called not long ago and told me that a house was coming on the market that she thought we’d really like. And even though my wife and I weren’t interested in moving, we thought it’d be fun to take a look at it anyway. So we planned to meet the realtor at the house within the next few days. In the meantime, I drove by the house just to see what it looked like from the street. It was a beautiful two-story brick house with a handsome front entrance. I were eager to look inside.

A few days later we met our realtor at the house, and she opened the front door to the space within. The large foyer in front adjoined the living and dinging rooms. A master bedroom was connected by a pretty tiled porch, and the den overlooked a courtyard paved with old brick.

It was all very nice, but that night my wife and I discussed the house, and we both said the same thing: there was just something about it that didn’t feel right. While the rooms were all very nice and spacious, the house didn’t seem to “reach out” to us. The charm that we were looking for just wasn’t there.

Spaces

I love spaces – rooms and gardens, the canopy of shade under a large oak tree or a tree-covered street. I love the way that sunlight enters and then leaves a room. Our house faces north, which means that the morning sun first creeps into our bedroom but then in the late afternoon leaves her glow just outside our den’s window. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve enjoyed the twilight from my desk below that window.

Needless to day, we didn’t buy that house. But I think looking helped us to better understand why we feel comfortable in our own house despite an occasional struggle with some of its inconveniences.

Day 6 Guide

Think about the spaces and places that you most enjoy. These are your retreats and the places where you find vital new energy.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 7 Poetry and Life


Sometimes I have this dull angst that intrudes on my spirit and leaves me feeling unsettled and worried. He (the angst) is a burdensome sort that latches on at the slightest sign of weakness and then drains my energy. Do you ever feel like that?

I think that to some degree we all have mood swings. Even the most stable and consistent of people cannot be continuously upbeat and positive about the world. There are just so many things – large and small – to frustrate the hope that we so count on to feel good.

Day 7 Guide

There is comfort in knowing that our souls will one day be totally free, when worry is no longer.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 8 Art


The artist gives us the means to elude that common burden of angst that sometimes comes to rest on our shoulders. Artists create views of life that call us away from our self-absorption to the wider roads of pleasure and meaning. It is my belief that we all have the capacity to find the peace that we so cherish – the freedom from worry.

The devilment most common to this burden of angst is to force our attention away from the greater things and on to the more trivial annoyances in life. He (the burden) consumes our mental resources and robs us of our vision, our hope and our faith. But the depth of happiness within is much greater than this shallow burden with whom we wrestle.

Day 8 Guide

Arm yourself with the knowledge that freedom from burden is many times found in great art. Read from the book of Psalms, and listen to the songs of that wonderful peace.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Days 9-11 Art and Morality


The artist gives us glimpses of a life that we cannot yet fully possess. The thoughts that we considered to be enduring seem all at once to destabilize and quickly vanish. How do we begin to possess those feelings again? Where do we turn when the lights of joy have been extinguished?

In books and songs, in paintings, in drama and in poetry, the artist gives us pathways that might take us back to Joyous Gard. Even yet, we sometimes need to be shaken by life’s events — that they might arouse our attention and affirm our willingness to look for the way back to that greater joy. Art that favors the wayward spirit isn’t usually loud or boastful. It is sometimes hidden away and must, therefore, be sought.

Days 9-11 Guide

The churnings of life will throw you off balance. All of us have the need, therefore, to practice a return to the high road, the road to Joyous Gard. Surround yourself with the things that might turn your mind.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 12 Interpretation



…it is a plea for this; that those who have to endure the common lot of life, who cannot go where they would, whose leisure is but a fraction of the day, before the morning’s toil and after the task is done, whose temptation it is to put everything else away except food and sleep and work and anxiety, not liking life so but finding it so;-it is a plea that such as these should learn how experience, even under cramped conditions, may be finely and beautifully interpreted, and made rich by renewed intention. Because the secret lies hid in this, that we must observe life intently, grapple with it eagerly; and if we have a hundred lives before us, we can never conquer life till we have learned to ride above it, not welter helplessly below it. And the crampedand restricted life is all the grander for this, that it gives us a nobler chance of conquest than the free, liberal, wealthy, unrestrained life.

  — Benson, Joyous Gard

I, Artist

One thing that strikes me about the Benson’s ideas in the book Joyous Gard is his suggestion that poetry might not yet be the lyrical words themselves but rather a view of a life that we all possess. He tells us, for example, that common words can hardly describe the rather common feelings of romantic love. He tells us that in love, we are inclined — all of us — to reach for song or poetry in order to fully paint our joy, an indication that our feelings may exceed our own ability to describe them.

Whether we ever settle on words to adequately describe such a feeling of love, our witness of the grand feeling – according to Benson — is itself poetry. Poetry is not, therefore, that which meets the paper but rather the feelings that precede them. And in that light, we are all poets.

Day 12 Guide

You might live in cramped conditions. Maybe you think that in your life there is only time for work and sleep. But God created the universe by principles of beauty that we all have a right to seek and possess.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 13 Education


Not limited by thoughts of what can’t be, children have the awesome ability to envision a life without limits. Little minds possess huge imaginations, and it’s wise for us at home and in education to take special precaution against extinguishing that boundless fire. It can ignite greatness.

Albert Einstein’s scientific breakthroughs began by his imagining what it would be like to ride on the end of a light-beam. And while unfitting of scientific positivism, this was the thought that started a revolution in the way that science would later describe time. Einstein’s theories altered the accepted views of space in three dimensions, adding yet a fourth – that of time itself.

Day 13 Guide

Be careful not to step on the dreams and ideas of others. Be careful not to listen to the inner voice of skepticism, which says it can’t be done. Begin with the idea that all things are possible.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 14 Knowledge


Civilisation does not consist in commercial prosperity, or even in a fine service of express trains. It resides in quick apprehension, lively interest, eager sympathy . . . at least I suspect so.

— Benson, Joyous Gard

What are your hopes and dreams? That was the first question that Ted, a financial planner, asked before he introduced his services to me. You know, I had to think about that for a while. He sort of caught me off guard. On the one hand, there seems to be so much that I want from life. But on the other, I really just want to enjoy the simple things. I’d like to meet more people and know their stories.

I enjoy interesting people. Ted himself had quite a story, even though I heard only a little of it. He’d been a submarine skipper in the Navy during the “Cold War” years. He told me about trailing Russian submarines in order to keep an eye on where they were heading and what they might be up to. He said that he and his crew would remain submerged for 60-70 days at a time.

I can’t imagine being submerged for so long, can you? No daylight for over two months. No fresh air. But Ted didn’t mind it at all. In fact, he must’ve really loved it. I think he probably enjoyed the challenge of following an enemy submarine without being detected. And as the boat’s skipper, he was constantly thinking and making decisions in order to ensure safe passage.

Life offers a great many challenges. And even though you might not realize it, you’re making decisions every day that somehow will affect your outcome and your points of destination. Sleeping late, for example — that’s a decision that you make. It might not really feel like a decision. But it is. You could choose not to sleep late, instead pushing yourself to get “up and at ’em.”

Hundreds – even thousands — of individual decisions will influence your outcomes in life. Reading, studying, meeting new friends, writing letters, working on a project – these are all things that you must first choose to do. They won’t happen unless you make them happen.

Ted began by asking, What are your hopes and dreams, Levi?” And I thought, “It really doesn’t matter what my hopes and dreams are unless I’m willing to make the decisions that will lead to their outcomes.”

Day 14 Guide

The decisions and commitments that you make should foster the things that you care most deeply about.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 15 Growth


Growth – we’re all interested in it, right? I mean, we – most of us — want to see ourselves growing personally and professionally all the time. We want to see our paychecks grow. We want our cities and our businesses to grow. We Americans just have this insatiable appetite for growth and expansion. You’ve heard it said before: “If you’re not moving forward, then you’re going backwards.” Well, just look around. Observe how we all scurry about, trying to make sure we get our piece of the pie.

Those of you, who at times grow weary of looking for a front-row seat, please save me a spot on the bench. I’m a bit tired myself. There’s a certain stillness and quiet that I love. I don’t want to lose my way to that time and space. I want to hold on to the presence of my memories and the healing value of a good laugh. I don’t want to lose the strength of a good handshake or the soft touch of, “I love you.”

Day 15 Guide

“Lord, grant me not the power of a strong wind, but the strength of an oak. Clothe me not in the resplendence of royalty but in the shower of a spring rain. Feed me not of the banquet table but by the words of friendship.”

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Days 16-18 Emotion



Within the Joyous Gard Cycle of Days, the subject of emotion begins the plunge into the “Inner Mind.” And it truly is within the intricate structures of the inner brain that the cellular processes produce emotion. Anatomical structures with odd names like hippocampus, hypothalamus and cerebellum regulate the release of hormones and other signaling proteins responsible for maintaining general health and a sense of well-being.

Scientists have at times argued the similarities of the brain and the modern-day computer, both of which rely on signals in order to function: the computer, electrical, and the brain, electro-chemical. They both (brain and computer) process information in a digital vs. an analog fashion, using discrete signals that are either present or not, on or off. In the brain, as on a computer chip, there are no faint or strong signals, just signals.

But how, you might ask, does cerebral digital-processing account for the full range of feelings which vary in intensity — the emotion of sadness, for example, which can range from being almost unbearable to just barely noticeable? To help understand, think of a compact disc (CD) player. Even though it operates by reading digital bits (information) burned on to a disc, the information itself can represent the full range of sounds and colors.

Days 16-18 Guide

Because so very little is actually known about the human brain, we don’t know how best to protect it. Adequate sleep and the freedom from drug or alcohol abuse are the two most oft mentioned prescriptions. But in my opinion, you’ll do well to keep it occupied also. Read books and keep your mind focused on something. Change up your thoughts, and push yourself to feel the range of emotions. Don’t spend your life chasing euphoria and hiding from sadness. To feel anything, it helps to have felt everything.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 19 Memory


Cinnamon, our family’s pet for six years, was an adorable mix of terrier and who knows what else. She was a small, black, slick-haired sweetheart who loved to curl up on the sofa, but who, despite her wooziness, would always greet you with a slight wag of her tail and a kiss – if you wanted one.

Cinnamon came to us as a special delivery in our mailbox. But it’s not what you think. She wasn’t a mail-order pet, but rather a puppy that deserved more love than she was getting, or at least that’s the story we heard. You see Cinnamon did quite literally come to us in our mailbox, but not by way of the U.S. Postal Service.

As I remember the story, two young girls, sisters I believe, felt that their neighbors weren’t paying enough attention to their new little pet. In their eyes, she (the dog) wasn’t getting the love she deserved. And so while the neighbors were on vacation, they essentially kidnapped the dog and sought to find it a better home.

Now this is where the story becomes sketchy. I’m not sure why these little girls decided to use the mailbox instead of maybe a cardboard box placed on the front door step. Nonetheless, it was to our home that they chose to deliver the unloved puppy. I think that we were probably the best choice because of the size of our mailbox. We had a big one, about the size of ten puppies.

I remember the day that my sister, as was her ritual after school, went to retrieve the mail, only to be startled by what she saw when she opened the box. At first she must’ve thought that she was seeing things. I mean, how could a dog be in the mailbox? But it was a surprise-turned-delight when we brought this little puppy without a collar into our home and essentially made her our own.

For several weeks, we enjoyed our little Cinnamon, until one day we got a call. The little girls who had rescued the dog from unloved circumstances had finally confessed their crime, and the family of the puppy was notified of its whereabouts. They called us in order to verify that we had her and to let us know that they were coming to pick her up.

It was heartbreaking, I remember, to give her up. In that short time since we’d retrieved her from our mailbox, Cinnamon had become our perfect little pet – well tempered and loving. And I think she loved us, too. But then Cinnamon was gone from our lives just as suddenly as she had appeared.

The next few weeks were peppered with thoughts of that sweet little dog. But we were getting back to life without a pet, when out of the blue we received yet another call from the family who owned her. They told us that since the time their dog had been presumed lost they had acquired a rabbit and that they now felt having two animals was more than they could manage. They asked if we would like to have little Cinnamon back. We couldn’t believe it. Yes, yes, we would love to take her back. And for the next six years, we gave that sweet little “special delivery,” Cinnamon, all the love she deserved. I’ll never forget that dog.

Day 19 Guide

Look back to a time or an instance when something unusual happened, something that you didn’t expect. Enjoy life’s surprises.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 20 Retrospect


What the hell was that all about?

— Marlin Brando’s comment when asked what he thought of as he looked back on his life and his acting career.

At times during my life I’ve felt as though I was being dragged along by forces outside of my control. The vagaries of business or the unusual intensity of relationships have left me feeling, well, like I was being drawn or pulled.

It’s only with the retrospective eye that I’m able to catch glimpses of these unusual segments. During those times when the guiding forces aren’t born of my own reason, my mind is unable to rise above and observe the circumstances of entangled power. I’m caught in a whirlwind – possibly of love, of anxiety or of interest – that has me thinking of and doing things that weren’t part of my plan.

It’s a grand aspect of life, isn’t it — that things sometimes don’t go as planned?  Imagine there being no surprises, no changes of heart, no transformations. What would life be like if your projections were always dead on accurate? What arousal could there possibly be in a romance that is planned?

Day 20 Guide

The best plan is to plan on being surprised. Push the envelope of surprise by throwing away the anxiety of involvement. Don’t fear your opinion. Support it. Don’t suppress your desire. Live it.

© 2006, Levi Hill



Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 21 Humor


Many years ago, I had the occasion to be interviewed for a spot on the evening news of our local television station. It was a weekly segment intended to make the public more aware of the various businesses operating in the community. A number of these had shown already, and when the call came in I figured that it must have been our company’s turn to be on camera. My father was actually supposed to be interviewed, but he had a conflict and asked that I take his place.

I will admit that I was a bit nervous on the morning of the interview. I wanted to make sure that our facility looked good on camera. And I was hoping that I wouldn’t bumble through the interview.

All went well. And the news segment was shown later in the week It was a good spot. Our facility looked rather impressive on camera, and thankfully, my interview passed the “don’t-make-a-fool-of-yourself” test.  I was rather proud of the segment and had several people around town tell me they were impressed by the interview.

I remember standing in the crowded teller line of our local downtown bank, feeling a bit taller than normal, basking, I imagine, in the glory of my recent television fame. I waived at my banker friend Jimmy, who was standing on the other side of the bank office, and he began making his way towards me. I was sure that he just wanted to tell me how much he enjoyed the recent interview.

He approached, and as I reached out to shake his hand, he leaned over to whisper these words in my ear: “Levi, that was a very good spot on television last week. But I just wanted you to know that right now you have a big hole in the seat of your pants. You might just want to be careful as you walk through the teller line.”

Quietly thanking him with a smile forced on to my red face of embarrassment, I broke out of line and slowly headed for the nearest exit, making sure along the way to protect my new acquired stardom. It was at that moment, I remember, that things suddenly got back to normal for me, and I knew that Hollywood wasn’t going to call.

Day 21 Guide

Sometimes we try to make ourselves out to be more than we really are. But our best suit of clothes is made up of our own personality. Try to be yourself.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 22 Visions


Dr. Temple Grandin sees things that others don’t. She claims to think like animals do, using images instead of language to process thought. Dr. Grandin is autistic, and her claims have been validated time and time again by her practical but non-intuitive insights and suggestions in the humane treatment of animals prior to slaughter. Her ideas have led to the construction of curved chutes that essentially guide advancing cattle in a stress-free manner.

She has written a number of books on her experience and her own understanding of how she thinks. She lectures and consults around the globe and has appeared on television shows such as CNN, Larry King, 20/20, and 48 Hours.

Here is a segment from her article, My Mind is a Web Browser: How People with Autistm Think:

I see the decision process

I see the decision-making process in my mind in a way most people do not. When I tried to explain this to a person who thinks in language, he just didn’t get it. How my decision-making works is most clearly seen in an emergency.

On a bright, sunny day, I was driving to the airport when an elk ran into the highway just ahead of my car. I had only three or four seconds to react. During those few seconds, I saw images of my choices. The first image was of a car rear ending me. This is what would have happened if I had made the instinctive panic response and slammed on the brakes. The second image was of an elk smashing through my windshield. This is what would have happened if I had swerved. The last image showed the elk passing by in front of my car. The last choice was the one I could make if I inhibited the panic response and braked just a little to slow the car. I mentally “clicked” on slowing down and avoided an accident. It was like clicking a computer mouse on the desired picture.

Day 22 Guide

Wow. We’re all different, aren’t we? Even sometimes in the way that we think. Be patient with people. Try to be understanding when someone doesn’t “see” things your way. What’s clear to you might be sketchy to someone else. There’s a lot we can learn from each other.

Dr. Grandin’s website: http://www.grandin.com/

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Days 23-25 Thought


Ideas change the world. They determine the courses of science, invention, philosophy and even religion. The mind is an incubator for those ideas, processing thought in hundreds of ways. We opine and ruminate. We cogitate, deduce, and synthesize. We recall, we remember, we reminisce. We calculate, consider, conclude and create.

Creativity begins with a thought, an idea. But then, in order to further refine and express that thought, we need a medium – the written word, poetry, painting, or speech, for example. The medium, in essence, speaks further to us and directs development and refinement in ways that the by itself mind may not be able.

We differ, I believe, in the way and to the extent that we are able to fully project thought in the mind. Some people, for example, have unusually strong mental clarity and are able to see fully-formed ideas. The composer Mozart heard the complete musical piece in his head, and the notation was simply a transcription of his thought. Other composers, however, might use the medium of the piano’s keyboard or the sound of their own voices to play the music back during composition, the medium being a necessary component of the creative act.

Days 23-25 Guide

Consider your own creative process. What things are necessary in order for you to develop a fully formed idea? The key here is to understand how you work. Read again yesterday’s post concerning Temple Grandin and her unusual description of how she, with autism, processes thought.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 26 Accessibility


What’s going on in your head? Right now, what are your thoughts? Are you motivated and full of desire? Or are you sluggish and looking for something good to hang on to?

Maybe you like to hold your thoughts “close to your vest,” wanting at times to appear as if everything is okay when in fact, emotions are whirling within. It’s hard to fully hide behind a mask. Those who know you well are usually able to sense a change in your personality. You become aloof, guarded and inaccessible.

God created a universe that moves by His hand towards purposeful ends. And in order to fully realize its healing powers, you must first remove your mask and make yourself accessible. Hurting leads to healing, but only after the pain calls out. Sorrows that are hidden behind the expressionless mask of a sullen stoicism remain unanswered, leaving a spirit that’s wounded and lost.

My father tells the story of being in the car with my mother one day and of seeing a young girl sitting on a street-side bench near the red light where they were stopped. The girl was crying. Seeing that, my mother got out of the car and approached her. She sat by the girl on the bench and put her hand on her shoulder. She began to speak. Though my father couldn’t hear exactly what she said, I imagine it went something like this: “Honey, I’m so sorry that you’re feeling low. Sometimes I feel like that myself. Is there something I can do for you? Would you like me to just sit with you for a while?”

My mother’s heart called out to people in need. She could easily see through their masks. She was terribly sensitive and longed to help. She wanted only for people to be happy, just as a parent wants for his child.

Day 26 Guide

What masks do you wear? I believe that all close relationships begin when the masks are removed. But it’s hard for some people – maybe you — to show their true feelings. Maybe you’re ashamed or embarrassed. Or maybe you think that no one would like the “real you.” I sometimes wear the mask of silence, fearing regret for saying or doing the wrong thing. I think it’s natural for us to hide, but it’s also best if you understand exactly what you’re hiding from.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 27 Sympathy


My cat doesn’t really seem to give a damn about anything. My dog, on the other hand, wags her tail, turns circles and jumps up and down when she’s excited. My cat – well, she might occasionally show some excitement, like when there’s a rabbit running through the yard or a ball rolling around on the floor. My dog gets wet when it rains. My cat stays dry as a bone even in the hardest of rains. I don’t get it.

My dog is a senior citizen. My cat is still a kitten. But age doesn’t really seem to matter in the animal world. My cat doesn’t give her older dog/sister any more respect just because she’s older. I think respect among animals is probably based more on size and temperament.  We have two Great Danes moving in next door. I think my cat will probably have more respect for them than she has for her own little dog/sister. Great Danes are big, really big. I think I’ll have a lot of respect for them myself.

My cat sleeps anywhere and everywhere. My dog likes her bed. My dog likes cat food. I think that annoys my cat. I don’t blame her. My cat doesn’t run to me. She runs past me. My dog loves to sit in my lap. My cat sharpens her claws on my leg. Ouch!

I love my dog. I love my cat. I think they love me, too. We all get along pretty well, even though we’re all a lot different. If I were an animal, I think I’d be a dog. How do I know? Well, I went for a walk the other day and it started raining really, really hard. I got wet, wet as a dog.

Day 27 Guide

It’s great that we’re all different. Try to be understanding of the needs of others. Getting along is half the battle, the other half is figuring out how to help others get along.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide               
June 2006 ~ Day 28 Science


There is hope on the horizon for treating the degenerative brain diseases of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Scientists at the University of Florida in Gainesville have discovered that human brain cells, when implanted in the brains of laboratory mice, can divide and multiply. This seems to me a startling discovery in that brain cells, unlike other cells of the body, aren’t commonly known to renew themselves. But if the science proves out, then theoretically all of one’s brain cells could be replaced.

It is scientific fact that neurons (brain cells) do change over time. They store memories and the products of learning by sending out long tentacles called dendrites that grow just like tree limbs. (The word dendrite, in fact, comes from a Greek word meaning treelike). The huge complex of dendrites that grows within the human brain creates the communication network that scientists believe underlies all of our memories and powers of reasoning. And the presence of these dendrites with their many interconnections is one of defining characteristics of the brain.

I suppose that if newly grown cells are somehow ever injected into the human brain they will become part of the massive communications structure that stores memories and makes learning possible. But I wonder. Would the science ever be able to retrieve those memories seemingly lost to the ravages of Alzheimer’s? It all leaves some interesting questions, doesn’t it? Would the new cells be able to accommodate and store active memories before they’re finally lost to the disease? And could one’s base of knowledge be transferred and stored within this complex of new cells?

Day 28 Guide

The cell, I believe, will be the building block for the next intellectual revolution.

© 2006, Levi Hill

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