36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 106: Raindrops and ripples


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 106 — Raindrops and ripples
16-November-1971 (Tue.)


Was eating dinner at the mensa, when an American student whispered to his friend while eyeing me, “That man has the same glasses I do.” I surprised him when I said, “Yes, they’re common in the States.” Moral—never whisper in front of strangers.

Later in his conversation, I find out he was a student and said “Yes, and we’re all on student budgets.” Sure. Later he said to his friend, “Yes, we’re going to the Bahamas for Christmas, after skiing [somewhere]. I thought, “That’s a student budget. An American student budget.”


1971—Student budgets. I learn that my student budget in Austria is not the same as other American students’ budgets. Did it bother me? Perhaps a little. If you’re a student and you run into other students who seem to have more money than you, just ignore them. Enjoy yourself on whatever your budget happens to be. There will always be people with more money than you. After all, money can’t buy happiness. Well, yes it can, but that’s another story.

1971 was uneventful. 2007 was a whole other story.

2007—Life event 2. My last blog posting was over a week ago. I am now only able to type just a little. It took me two days to type today’s blog. There is a reason for this. On the night of the 15th, I had an encounter with my dog Beemer. It was my fault. I ended up in the emergency room and then a bit of a hospital stay. Good news—there is no permanent damage and I will be fine. That is a big relief since I rely on the computer for my living (don’t we all), and since I want to continue to play keyboards and write my music. I was very lucky.

[Thanks to my emergency room doctors and my excellent hand surgeon, Dr. Maser, whose expertise is allowing my hand to heal quickly and without issues, and to the many wonderful nurses and medical assistants at St. Claire’s—Linda, Leslie, Nimfa and many more whose names I did not write down. Thanks.]

By the way, we love Beemer to no end and will see if we can correct his behavior. Beemer is a good dog.

Feeling overwhelmed. In the hospital, I started to feel overwhelmed about the many separate events that happened over the last two weeks or so. In life, things happen. That’s life. Most of the time we’re ok and we handle our many daily tasks very well. At other times, we struggle. The problem is that each event affects many things in our lives and there are always multiple events going on. In the hospital, I came up with a new and personal way to look at life. Think metaphor. Raindrops.

Raindrops. A short while ago I mentioned a life event having to do with my job. Think of that life event as a raindrop hitting a pond. It creates a splash when it hits the pond, announcing to you that something happened. A while ago, it was a job event. My new life event is another raindrop hitting the smooth surface of the pond, making its splash. Actually, our lives are filled with many raindrops hitting the pond all the time; some small, some big. If the raindrop is important enough, we call it a life event. Life events can be good (birth of a baby, marriage, acceptance to college, buying a house, landing a great job), or they can be stressful (accidents, health-related issues, financial stress, losing a house).

Ripples. A life event is not a single, isolated event that happens and quickly disappears. It affects many other aspects of our lives. For example, an accident can affect work, spouse, kids, family, physical health, finances, stress, mental health, and so on. After the initial splash of the raindrop, ripples form, moving outward from the initial point of origin. As the ripples move out, they touch other raindrops. The ripples are the metaphor for how life events can affect many aspects of our lives.

Special raindrops. While each life event could be thought of as having a financial ripple, a family ripple, health ripple, and so on, I prefer to consider these as special raindrops in our lives. Thus, we have a financial raindrop, a spouse raindrop, a finances raindrop, and so on. These important raindrops are always on the pond because they are always part of our lives. My recent life event raindrop hit the pond and its ripples went out and touched the raindrops of my spouse, my family, my dog, my finances, my work, my health, and even my fish—when your hands are bandaged, you can’t even open up the fish food can to feed them.

Too many raindrops. If, all of a sudden, too many raindrops hit at once, then you begin to feel overwhelmed. Here are the life and mini events that happened to me over the last 10 days or so: (Remember, I am posting this blog in the future.)

• work, potential relocation. (life event)
• winter and other car repairs, $1,600. (mini event)
• important family car repairs. $225. (mini event)
• dog incident. Don’t worry, I’m ok. (life event)
• family car accident. Snowing, not our fault. Everything is ok. (life event)

Humility and perspective. These were my and my family’s raindrops that fell all too close to each other and led to my feeling of being overwhelmed. Time for a bit of perspective and humility—often a good thing. Compared to many, many other people’s troubles, their life events, and the many problems and issues in today’s world, my personal events are nothing. Absolutely nothing. They do not compare to anything serious at all. Although I still have to pay my bills, I am very lucky—I did not lose my job, my car repairs are just money issues, and both the dog incident and car accident did not result in long-term serious injury. They do not compare to the world’s issues of conditions in poor areas of the world, hunger, malnutrition, disease, poverty, health, and war. A little humility and perspective is a good thing.

Gerry’s advice. I have a great friend, Gerry, who has always reminded me of the importance of perspective and of health. Ultimately, the most important thing in our lives is our health, not money or other small problems. Gerry has spent much of his life helping troubled teenagers and is an amazing person.

Ripples fade. Here is the good news. Over time, the ripples of each raindrop fades. Things will work out. Time heals.

Handling life. Try not to worry. Move forward, one step at a time. Tackle your issues one at a time. Take each day, one day at a time; don’t worry about the future. Do your best. Seek help, if needed. Hopefully, things will generally work out. Time heals.

If true tragedy strikes, it is certainly more difficult to handle. Hopefully, there will be help for you. Time will heal.

Writing helps. My thinking and writing about these events has helped me to put things in perspective and to lessen my feelings of being overwhelmed. I still have to pay the bills (money issues are often the cause of most stress), but our #1 priority—health—will be fine down the road.

Raindrops of the world. To extend the metaphor, think of yourself as a single raindrop falling onto a pond. Everyone else you know, family and friends, are also single raindrops falling on the pond, each with their own life events that ripple out and touch you and others. Raindrops within raindrops. Finally, take a telescopic view scaling upward into space—moving from person, to house, to street, to neighborhood, to city, to state, to regions, to countries, to continents, to the world. We’re all connected. Our raindrops are connected, their ripples affecting all of us. We’re a world community. Our raindrops are falling on the pond of humanity. In these troubled times, let’s hope that the pond becomes a better place for all peoples.


- - - -