Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Have You Ever Lost ...

Time once more for for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge. Today we will attempt the death defying feat of tackling prompts 2 and 4. To wit:
2.) “What did you once lose? Write about your search to find it again.” (inspired by
4.) Begin each line of your post with “have you ever”. (inspired by Vikki from Live. Laugh. Pull Your Hair Out)

#2 - I have lost many things over the course my life. Some have been trivial material things, some have been things that only come to mind in an odd moment, and some are of a more subjective nature (like my sanity?). Some have been people. Some have been abilities.

The most perplexing thing that I lose periodically is the ability to enjoy life as it happens. Like most scientists and engineers, I am sometimes obsessive about things going according to plan. When I am in that phase, it feels like I have lost the ability to enjoy life as it occurs in real time. I start planning everything and anxiously waiting for each and every event to happen. Even small deviations from the expected occurrence stream can suck the joy out of the whole sequence of events. Needless to say, it is not a good state to be in. Nor is it fun to hang out with me when I'm in the state.

It took me a long time to realize that the way out of that state of mind and back to enjoyment is to wear mental blinders. I have to consciously decide to experience each event without expectation and correlated observation. You might say it requires practicing Zen to achieve a zen-like state. I always thought that the explanation from the Wikipedia article on Zen captured the essence:
Zen emphasizes experiential prajñā in the attainment of enlightenment. As such, it de-emphasizes theoretical knowledge in favor of direct realization through meditation and Dharma practice.
So maybe happiness and enjoyment of life *is* Zen enlightenment. {*grin*}

#4 - Have you ever? I have.
Have you ever chopped alfalfa? With a 40 foot head on a Field Queen? While dragging a semi trailer behind?
Have you ever changed oil in heavy equipment, lying on the ground, in the field, at night, trying to get done before all the rattle snakes finish homing in on the heat of the cooling engine?
Have you ever set a new land wriggle and crawl record due to the above?
Have you ever been in a fatal automobile accident?
Have you ever won a science fair?
Have you ever gotten drunk? With your faculty advisor?
Have you ever had your work published?
Have you ever held elected office?
Have you ever lived in Colorado? New Hampshire? California? Illinois? New York?
Have you ever wondered what happened to your kindergarten classmates?
Have you ever had a hole in one on the golf course?
Have you ever broken a bone? More than one?
Have you ever had surgery? More than one?
Have you ever played college athletics?
Have you ever shot a shotgun? Pistol? Rifle?
Have you ever thought that you have written more than enough "have you"'s? 


  1. Oh you should totally read my posts on how I broke my right arm (that's 2 bones), not once, not twice but THREE times!

    Part 1 (

    Part 2 (

    Finale (

    Hahah... nice post you got here btw! :D

  2. found you though mama kat and great have you ever questions

  3. Oh oh oh, I have lived in CA...wait...I live there now! =)

    I've done a lot of your have you ever's!

  4. I've only ever lived in IL. But it's something right?

    This comment is not going to plan, time to abort.

    Over from Mama Kat's

  5. Over from Mama Kat's and I take it that the answers to all those for you are yes??? Good post.

    My SIL is a research scientist getting his PHD at Vandy. Awaiting publication....

  6. I've lived in CA and NY, and PA, SC, TN, MD, VA, KY and MO, as well.

    And the only Alfalfa I've observed is from the Little Rascals.

  7. nice job... and as a programmer and father, I know what you mean about losing the ability to enjoy life as it happens.

  8. Long time no...

    I LIKED the self-awareness, it really is a process to learn and step back. It gives one patience, but I don't see it as "blinders" because one really examines the world and feels for it more when grows objective and ... loose.

  9. typo - when "one" grows objective.

  10. ooh, fatal car accident?? have you written about it? I would love to read it.

  11. sorry, that last comment of mine sounded a bit morbid! But serious...

  12. I haven't done much.

    I do strive to be in the moment, but I'm not very good at it.

  13. I've only lived in CA!!

    I really enjoyed your answer to #2...
    I'm a major planner and scheduler, so if those to pieces of the puzzle don't come together, I tend to get frazzled and upset. Nevermind that the day/party/event might actually be better because I didn't plan it! I need to really learn to go with the flow :)

  14. I too tend to plan things down to the milisecond and miss the enjoyment of the moment. I'm working on that.

  15. I have only lived in CA and love it!

    Never broke a bone or had surgery

    I have shot a few guns in my life, shot-gun and pistols mostly.

    visiting from Mama Kat's!


You know you want to ... so just do it!!!

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