Peruse my Musings
The following are my thoughts put to paper over the past years. They are the result of being touched on the shoulder by my muse. They are for you to peruse and enjoy. The muse is a capricious soul but I promise that as she reappears, I will be adding to this storied journal.
Paris - 100% Moments - Above the Line - Another Year - From the Heart - In a Fog - The Road House - The Tree - We Are Americans
it is to be Human.
It is love
It is war
It is pious
It is sinful
It is conformity
It is Avant Guard
It is self-indulged
It is the Guardian of the World
It is a place out of time.
To visit is to mar It’s finish
To become a part of Paris is to experience the luster of being Human
Paris, June 2004
The quiet sun was suspended above the mangroves. The intercoastal flats became suddenly quiet in that time before sunset when the world and the water stand still. Everywhere you looked it was red-gold; the water, the shore, the canoe. Everything came together in that magic time and place. A perfect cast, a perfect redfish.
We all have known times in our lives when we have experienced 100% moments. When our undivided attention backed by our past collective knowledge melds into our best productive self. I have witnessed this in my life while skiing, reading, fishing, and performing on the musical stage. 100% moments.
You will notice that my examples of these moments were in the traditional play areas. How can we create work-play 100% moments in our practices? I suggest that by becoming 100% focused in each and every aspect of our daily practices we can achieve 100% moments. This requires mental muscle. With the constant intrusion of outside concerns in our lives a concerted effort is imperative. I have found, however, that when a commitment, either consciously or unconsciously, to focus 100% is made, the results are immediate and your dental life is under control.
The difficult question is how often are we experiencing these moments in our dental practices? Are we completely involved with that new patient that has so much to tell us?
That final impression? treatment planning? and the post-treatment experience?
The practice of fine dentistry is difficult. The technique and people skills can be learned. The true difficulty is in the day to day implementation.
100% moments can optimize specific areas of your practice i.e. your new patient experience, preparations, and impressions. In addition, a commitment to these moments also has far reaching effects: improved staff relations, patient satisfaction and a general feeling of well being for you and those around you. And isn’t that really what it’s all about!
Please schedule some time (using 100% concentration) to reassess you daily activities. Are you being the best that you can be at every opportunity: with your family, your spiritual life, your play, your work?
The miraculous part of change is that most of the challenge is becoming aware of its need. Once you have found that awareness and give of yourself 100%, your moments will be 100% precious.
Brian R. Beirl
March 22, 1999
back to top
Above the Line
I am perched at the bow, suspended in space, enveloped by the ashen sky, the clear, green water and the timeless, mangrove shoreline of the perpetual Everglades. Alone in my thoughts, flycasting methodically, making corrections to improve my chances of success. But I am not alone, my friends and mentors are behind me, encouraging, offering their experience to enhance my own.
Is our quest for better dentistry so different than this tiny boat of supportive, like-minded people on the water? We know that each small step of preparation relies on the former to insure the best possible outcome. Is our study of this beautiful and ever-changing environment so different than our interaction with our patients?
We are the anglers of Red Sky. Like the mariner’s prophetic sunset, our optimism is based on knowledge. The ability to apply what we know and what can be. Our environment may change but we are buoyed by the care of preparation and the guides that have shown us the way.
Our work connects us but the play of the fish binds us. A common bond, a love and appreciation of the beauty of nature, a growing knowledge and a trust in one another.
Traveling through time and distance in search of gamefish, each other and ourselves.
We are the anglers of Red Sky.
back to top
The tired old man stirred from his winter’s sleep as the ice glanced off the small solitary window with a hissing sound that took turns with the moaning of the crystalline, arctic wind. Why now? Why tonight? , he thought. He had worked hard in his tiny wilderness cabin. It seemed like the task was harder with less appreciation every year. The sky had been clear and everything had been made ready when he had retired to his down and fur covered cot. Now the wind had turned and he knew the night would now be longer because of it.
“I should have let this go long ago”, he muttered to himself as he curled his body into an irregular sphere beneath the covers. But this was not a time for sleeping. He would need all his spiritual strength this night. He thought of all the others that would enjoy an expectant sleep as he rose and padded across the smooth cold floor.
Many thought that he lived with a companion but she had been gone now from time out of memory. His bones felt ancient as he fastened his heavy coat and pulled on his well worn boots. He felt the pangs of hunger but knew that there would be chances to eat along the way.
With a heavy sigh he grasped the leather strap of the door that had been the portal to so many journeys over the years. The heavy wooden door opened quickly as if beckoning him into the night.
His bright crinkled eyes slowly scanned the unbroken moonlit expanse of glistening white. His way was guided by the solitary light that cast a warm glow over the stable. As he trudged through the wave like drifts he felt his spirits rise. This is a special night for so many, and they would not let them down. For now, as he entered the humble building he was no longer alone. As if by magic, the crimson returned to his cherubic face. The animals were harnessed and pawing in expectation. The tall double doors at the far end of the building sprang open. In an instant, our ancient voyager with all his cargo soon could only be seen as a miniature silhouette dashing across the moon.
back to top
From the Heart
The long thin line was mostly silent except for the occasional muttered complaints. One could feel the common mind of this slumped procession as it focused its tired energy on the incredible inefficiency of only two postal clerks on duty at the end of the day. I felt my spirit absorbed by this aura as I placed myself at the end of the sundry parade.
Then I saw her. She was small and her left hand went up at a steep angle as she clutched the hand of her mother. I did not guess at this relationship, as there is an unmistakable connection between a mother and her own. In her right hand the young girl had her arm wrapped around a shoe box covered in brown grocery paper. There were numerous red construction paper hearts glued to every side of her treasured package. It was apparent that she had done this with little outside help. This was a child that was expected to do things on her own.
I found myself imagining the recipient of such a precious parcel. Was it an expectant grandma that will show it to all her bridge partners? Or a distant uncle that will be visiting in the summer. Oh how the mind wanders to the joys of childhood and the innocence of giving.
The line is moving now and I see the girl reach up to the counter and slide the box beneath the tired eyes of the clerk. The postal employee is now shaking her head slowly. Is there a problem with the way it is wrapped? Do they need additional postage? The mother stands taller and leans toward the worker with her head cocked toward her daughter. The clerk shifts her eyes from one to the other, stamps the package with a shrug and puts it off to the side. The mother and child pass before me. The girl marches past with a strut with an unmistakable air of mission accomplished. The parent slips by me with eyes welled with tears.
As I approach the counter, I pass the package resting on the cold stainless steel of the counter. I catch just part of the large, hand written address. The girl and the recipient share a last name. Then my gaze shifts to larger letters that were carefully printed by the young hand … Federal Penitentiary; Stark, Florida.
February 13, 2003
back to top
In a Fog
The comforting murmur of the smooth road was muted by the leaden fog. Any serenity offered by the evening was lost upon the man. His heavy eyes reflected the muted amber lights of the sophisticated vehicle. The supple leather enveloped him and presented a sense of shelter from the damp, inhospitable atmosphere of this unfamiliar part of his city.
He was low on fuel and cursed quietly that he had not been paying attention to what was right in front of him.
The lights of the station were magnified by the intensity of the fog. The horizon was filled with the red and yellow glow of the familiar sign. The man smiled crookedly as he noticed that the S was missing from the Shell sign. “How ironic...”my salvation”, he murmured as he pulled the heavy vehicle to the farthest pump.
The appearance of the laboring vehicle immediately caught his attention. It pulled slowly around the back of the station and came to a halt directly in front of the dumpster in the remote corner of the shrouded station lot. A short, hunched over, old woman pushed open the crumpled door with a staccato snap that was immediately numbed by the swirling mist.
“What was she up to? The usual, I suppose, rummaging thru rubbish in the world’s land of opportunity. Didn’t she realize she was in this state solely because of the choices she had made through out her life? Now her only choice is to sneak around and gather fodder for the flea markets.
It was time to move on and leave this bit of humanity behind. His curiosity getting the best of him, the man drew the car past the slouching woman out of sight from the rest of the world. His eyes followed her focus of attention. The abandoned kittens enveloped her swollen ankles as she carefully poured the milk into the bowl.
March 8, 2004
back to top
The Road House
Anderson, South Carolina
The tired woman behind the reception desk at Motel Exit 126 disturbs her malaise and directs me to the place to eat in town. Across “the slab” behind the truck stop. A short drive confirms my suspicion; it is the only place.
It’s a Patrick Swayze kind of place where the parking lot is full of pick-ups with Calvin in the back window peeing on Fords or Chevys. I pull in with my Toyota SUV and wonder what bodily function Hobb’s partner would have in mind for me.
It’s the kind of bar that strangers are strange and the regulars let you know about it.
This is the school where the males go to study the two R’s… Racing and Redheads
Dale only means one thing here and it doesn’t have anything to do with Carnegie. The women all look like hairdressers and pay with singles from their tips.
I feel conspicuous in my solid black dress T-shirt and no hat. The women are intrigued, and the men smell authority from out of town.
This is a beer and wine bar. The red wine is screw top in the cooler and the white wine is pink. There are massive, steel, ice filled tubs behind the bar. The beer is long neck and not a glass is to be seen. The women, who don’t want to send a provocative signal, drink with straws. There aren’t too many that opt for the straws.
I test the waters and call for a Guinness. It arrives sans glass, a first for this Irishman. I ask for a glass and after some exploration, it arrives. It’s a metal, slightly bent, turquoise tumbler that last held Kool-Aid when I was playing sandlot ball. The surprisingly wholesome, coed looking, bar maid gives me a “we don’t get your kind here much” look. I give her a slight nod and a wink. She relaxes. I know she did her best. She might make it out.
The air is filled with Banshee- like feedback. The Karaoke is about to begin. The DJ in an almost indistinguishable monotone, says “ Testing one, two. He never makes it to three. Good enough, I guess. A cavalcade of lonely people pass the mike to one another. These are the people that lost the war and didn’t move to Atlanta. There is a sadness that pervades the smoky air and mingles with the still faces that listen to each song. “All their wars are merry and all their songs are sad” C K Chesterston.
The gravel crunches beneath my feet as I move from their place. I can leave. For them the music keeps playing and singers keep singing. As I reach the smooth pavement an EMS truck pulls in to gather one of its own.
back to top
“Daddy, the tree seems smaller this year”. My immediate reaction was to explain how she had grown and our artificial tree of fifteen Decembers had not changed. But as I looked back with a more critical eye, there seemed to have been a change. My training had me flying through several calculations as I factored in the tree’s location, tree stand and my posture. None could explain the change.
My mind drifted back to a time when I moved into my second decade, as my daughter had just done. Then the tree was always different. My Dad and I would scout out trees during deer season and drag it back in early December. I had heard at that time that city people actually had to pay for trees that were grown where we lived and brought to the cities on trucks. This was as foreign to me as that place Viet Nam, where my best friend’s big brother had gone.
There were rules then. The height of the tree was secondary to balance. There was symmetry then, an annual wave-like rhythm that ushered in the storms and beautiful serene evenings. There was change but with a reassurance that the tree would end the year and offer new beginnings.
The house is asleep. I am alone with my thoughts. Or am I?
The world has met with great change this year. Is the tree smaller or have we all grown? There’s a light out near the top, I can reach it and replace it. I want this tree to be as bright as it can be. A new beginning…
November 25, 2001
back to top
We Are Americans
We are Americans. We are both sides of the coin. We began in suppression that gave birth to liberty. Our liberation was frightening to some but not a terror. We kept our ties to the old continent as we fulfilled our own. We divided ourselves and became stronger. We are proud of our heritage but accept the heritage of others. We are slow to anger but strike with a swift sword. We are peaceful but not pacifists. We have been tested throughout our brief history and are loyal to our friends and relentless with those that would do us harm.
We are Americans. We are optimistic yet wary. We are individuals that come together in need. We are serious but do not take ourselves seriously. We are technocrats that love our land. We anguish over our politics but choose it over all others. We accept others that are not accepted by their own.
We are Americans.