Dirty Rotten Chaos!

Into each life, a little chaos must fall….and hard!  All around you at this very moment is change and disorder. You might feel that there is balance and harmony going on in your life, but let me be the first to burst your bubble…it’s not!  You have your good days, you have your bad days, and in between those days is chaos at work.  That creature of disruption moving about, tipping the carts, changing the lights, casting its confusions.  Chaos.  What is this beast and why does it seem to be getting bigger, stronger, faster in the world around us and, for many, within us?  Let’s define:

Chaos:

  • Complete disorder and confusion.
  • Behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.

I love those definitions!  They sum up the animal at work.  I often picture a mythical faery-like being with an evil grin, fluttering about, doing its will on unsuspecting people and things.  Many religions have given chaos a persona of some demonic entity that works in the spiritual realms to ruin their prey. Loki was the Norse god of mischief constantly working to thwart mankind, as well as the gods themselves. Lucifer of the bible,  the great deceiver, who started the entire downfall of mankind by creating confusion on the first humans that lived in bliss.  Many different cultures label some single source for all the problems of the world.  What it boils down to is the events of chaos.  Altering changes that disrupt our plans, processes, procedures, policies, and presence!  From the simple distraction to the fall of empires, chaos has, and always will, be the thorn in our sides!

What can we do about this? Is there any way to fool-proof our dealings in life so as not to be ruined by chaos?  I think not.  Back in 1785, Robert Burns characterized this chaos in his great poem, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough”, by writing “But little Mouse, you are not alone, in proving foresight may be vain. The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!”

So, the best laid plans…askew! Whether by divine intervention or just natural chaos, we can plan until the cows come home, but somehow, someway, chaos will often rear its ugly head!  Does it happen all the time? Of course not! It finds pleasure in allowing us some of the promised joy, lulling us into a false sense of security…then, BANG! Knocks us down some notches! We get up, dust ourselves off, curse the very fact chaos exists, and try again. Oh, our humanity of persistence!

That is the one thing about chaos…though ever changing, it is the only constant that we share.  At points throughout our lives, we have felt the hand of chaos on our schemes, even when they have been well planned.  So, if this is a constant during our walk through the time given, then why is there such an impact of frustration, anger, and even defeat?  We should know by now that at some point in our design on how we think life should go, that chaos will inevitably intervene and have its way with us.  I would say this is the predictability of the unpredictable!  In a future writing I will address one reason that it impacts us so harshly and why we react the way we do. (It’s called narcissism.  A sometimes over inflated view of self-importance.  Another time, though.)

So, in the present, we see this swarm fluttering all around our everyday, buzzing with the possible of changing our directions.  It happens, and for some folks it happens more often than others.  There is no pre-disposition to the ailment of chaos. It isn’t a contagion that we get by standing too close to someone afflicted (though people may argue that the fallout of one’s chaotic attack can be adverse enough to create a sense of chaos in their own life)!  No matter what it is construed as, chaos exists, it affects, and it strikes anyone, anywhere, at any time!

The strength that chaos can have is given only by the reactions we have to it.  The turkey slides off the serving tray onto the ground right before it’s time to eat. Chaos ensues!  We can either crumble to the ground in utter defeat, allowing the tears of shattered dreams to wash all our intentions away, or, we can realize that our plan to serve may be altered, but the fact that our family and friends are there to share with us is so much bigger.  Chaos might trip, but it can never replace.  You may have lost something or someone, but chaos can never remove the memories and moments that mean so much more.  We are supposed to give thanks during thanksgiving, no matter what chaos has done in the past or even the present. It’s when we lose sight of the precious, the true reality of what we have, that’s when chaos has truly won. 

Don’t let the knowledge of impending chaos be the ruin in your heart.  Our time is measured, and there are so many more important things to be thankful for.

Un-Social Media

Breaking News!  Social media is destroying humanity!  Okay, perhaps it isn’t breaking news. And maybe it hasn’t destroyed it completely. But, the extent of my statement really depends on clarifying some definitions of news, destroy, or social.  Let us take a look at those definitions and see what we end up with!

News reporting agencies can be funny entities. They are often the very heralds of doom and gloom, and yet thoroughly pride themselves as being the “first” to bring it to you. How thoughtful.  Yet in this day and age of information demand, we clamor at every source we can to stay informed and aware. As many of you know, I am one such junkie. I often find myself confused when I bring a news item to a conversation and no one is aware of the story.  Really?  I thought everyone was in-the-know about the feral cat problem in Hindustan!  (I jest…somewhat…)

But our sources of information are missing out on a really big story. That there seems to be a lack of awareness of the degradation of human interaction around us. “Social” has been morphing from how we interacted with one another into a cold, barren way. It is caving in to the world of electronics.  The explosion of social media websites is nothing new. From the advents of My Space to the highly popular Facebook and Twitter, there is certainly no shortage of internet places to “socialize”.  Major companies like Google and Yahoo have also thrown their hats into the ring with versions.  The goal: get you to use their system so that they can make money from advertisers.  Simple as that. This is corporate America looking for a means to get money.  But, at what cost?

I’m all for businesses making money.  After all, this is the land of opportunity!  Where I have a problem is when socializing is stripped down to impersonal typed words and picture postings.  Where human interaction is via electricity and not face to face.  Where emotions are conveyed by ‘smileys’.  The word social is generically defined as companionships or relations, in community versus isolated.  People are, by nature, social creatures and have the need to engage with others.  Social is key to society…groups of people together.  In the past, people would socialize with one another by gathering together.  These would be the times for friends and families to talk, share, help, care, love, support, and belong.  Sadly, that type of socializing is being replaced.  Actually, it is being destroyed.  I don’t think I need to define destroy.

It would seem that people today find solace in checking their cell phones or computers for their social fix.  Online you can post comments and pictures, share your feelings, give a virtual hug or pat on the back, date, and even break up.  Yes, that all happens on there.  Many of the things that used to be done “in person” are now “impersonal”.  People have had entire relationships online. If that doesn’t make you sad, then you may want to go see someone “in person” to get some help.  I say that bluntly with hopes of a wake up call!  Socializing is an imperative part of being human, and having human interaction is a necessary part of our mental and emotional well-being.  Give thought to the punishment of ‘solitary confinement’…separation of humans from humans.  It’s a punishment, not a reward.  Sociologists and medical experts know that the key to our sanity is the need for human contact.

It can be safely said that social media is destroying humanity.  Humans have social needs and, quite frankly, social media does not fulfill that need.  We may think that we are socializing, but it should not be the replacement to actual face-to-face socializing.  Sitting in your room with the computer is not giving you human contact.  If anything, it is numbing the human right out of you!  I would love to see the withdrawals people would have if they didn’t have their internet social medias to check every 10 seconds.  They might actually have to learn some face-to-face skills!

I understand that friends and family separated by distance use these formats as a means to stay in contact.  No issues here with that.  It’s when it becomes your everything, your lifeline to the outside world that is standing right next to you.  When people can gather in a room with one another and hardly speak to each other because they are busy “socializing” online.   I am always amazed, but rarely shocked anymore, when I see groups of people in the store walking down the aisles with their faces in their phones and no interaction with those whom they are with.  I feel sad by this, but this is evidence of the destruction of socializing.

Try something here…a new social media.  I call it talking.  This type of media requires two people, in the same location, each equipped with a mouth and ears.  This social media requires no electricity, data plan, or computer.  You simply speak what you would normally type and the other person hears what you said!  Then, the person that listened to you will probably say something back, which you would use your ears to hear it!  Crazy, I know, but when you repeat that process, possibly adding more people together….oh, the socializing that can happen!!!  Don’t call me a pioneer…I checked my history and found out that it was all the rave long ago!

Let Freedom Ring

This writing comes to you with a heavy heart.  A deep sadness that runs the course of my veins and has me filled with waning hope in some people.  Today is a holiday, a day marked on the calendar since 1919 to be held in reverence, reflection, and salute.  I share with you Veteran’s Day.

This day each year on November 11th is where we remember.  Remember the men and women who served this great country with bravery and honor, defending against the storms of evil that desire to creep into our borders and usurp our great way of life.  Remember the men and women of the armed services!

As you know, I love history.  We learn from history so that we can have common sense!  So, why today?  How did this day start? My message today is not so much about where this holiday came from, but it helps to know where it all began.  As the end of World War 1 neared, various peace accords were being brokered between the countries involved in that large-scale war with Germany and her allies.  Though differing truce dates ran from September of 1918 all the way through to the Treaty of Versailles on June 28th of 1919, we would officially note the 11th hour of November 11th, 1918 as our countries armistice day.  It officially became a national holiday the following year and was to be commemorated each year on that date.

In 1954, President Eisenhower wanted to assure that the dedicated veterans of World War II, those who came home and those who never did, were remembered as well and officially changed Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day, a day to remember all military personnel who gave the greatest sacrifice for our country.

Fast forward to today.  The date has never changed, the holiday is still marked as Veteran’s Day.  What has changed is the people.  The people who mark this day as a ‘day off’ from work, or a shopping sale date, or a day that passes like any other day in the calendar.  Quite honestly, this particular year is only getting a bigger notation because the date and time will be a rare, once every hundred years, palindromic occurence.  So, novelty wins out on patriotism.  It’s sad when so many stupid things win out over patriotism in this country.

The (thankfully) former Governor of Minnesota, Jessie Ventura recently went on a tirade in front of the news media declaring that, even though he is a former Navy Seal, he is giving up his love of this country that he served.  He has bellowed that he will not stand in due respect during the National Anthem.  He will not salute our flag.  He is even adamant about locking-in his citizenship with Mexico (since he lives there now, half of the year…).  All this whining and fussing because he was violated.  This self-proclaimed rough and ready ex-Seal was violated by a TSA agent who patted him down during a trip to the airport.  Really?  Sadly, yes…that’s his big reason for hating America now.

I know that there are many opinions regarding that TSA process, and quite honestly, I am not going to go there right now.  I have personal issues with people getting onto airplanes and either blowing them up or flying them into buildings, so I will just shut my mouth regarding that matter.  What I will say is simply this:  if you love this country, then show it!  If you don’t love this country and would rather see it over-run by crazed lunatics who blow up their own people, kill their own children, violate and treat people as animals, restrict freedom to choose, and force their beliefs on to you….well then, get the hell out!

I don’t know about you, but my heart is heavy with sadness that the people of this country have forgotten.  They’ve forgotten how we got here, why we got here, and how we stay here!  Is it so tough to ask for even one day out of 365 each year to stop and really count your blessings?  I’m not talking blessings as in turkey and stuffing, I’m talking about blessed that we have freedom to choose, that our country (though mismanaged at times) is still the greatest country in the world to live in and raise a family!  We can’t even get folks to really put aside the novelties that seem to get attached to a day of remembrance like today and reflect on who we are to this great land.

I’ll just close with this:  Whether you served in the military, whether you supported someone in the military, or whether you just have great respect for the protection of our way of life that our armed forces have given, and continue to give, to each of us….remember to stand for the flag, salute our troops, and always, ALWAYS remember how we got this freedom in America today.  A lot of sacrifices were made so that we can be free.  And if you and Jesse don’t like it, me and some of my true patriot friends would be more than happy to help you out the door.  You want to live here because of the freedom, then thank a Veteran.

This message is brought to you today by a Veteran, because of Veterans.  God Bless these United States and all who have served and still serve!

A Dad’s Letter To His Children

There is so much that I could and should say.  The “how-to” train of thought doesn’t necessarily run in one direction when it comes to being a Dad.  I have stood on the outside and I have stood on the inside, and I have found that no matter where you stand, the position of being a Dad is fill with millions of mixed messages.  Do this, do that, say this, don’t say that, be firm, be gentle, hold tight, let go, be strong…..cry.  But, now that your young years have flown by, I look back…with my own mixed views…to the times I did good and the times that I let you all down.

It seems that no matter how a person views the role of being a Dad, there will always be personal self-reflection that points out the times when things could have been done differently.  I can’t say whether or not I have more than other Dads.  I think that I do, but I guess it really comes down to perspective.  From the time that you were born, the thoughts of “what do I do” seemed to be a daily occurrence.  Sadly, I never got a definitive answer.  Mixed messages came from everywhere.  It was from a barrage of ideas, thoughts, and world-views that I would sort through and try to mix in my own gut feeling to come up with a “proper” fatherly direction.  Sadly, I have to admit, consistency was never there for each of you and probably added to the chaos in your lives.

You each had strong personalities that brought color and variety to life.  Trying to cater to the ever-changing tides of interest was, to say the least, a challenge!  We tried the sports, we tried the music.  We tried for academics and we tried for talents.  So many areas to expose you to, was there some that were missed?  I believe there was.   But Dad’s are supposed to know.  To have the answers ready when the questions come.  To be able to guide and direct you to the correct paths that each of you should follow in your journey to being adults.  I was never really sure myself…you each have so many gifts! 

Dad’s are also supposed to be able to adapt to any situation.  Be strong during times of fear and uncertainty.  Be bold in knowing what is and what isn’t when it comes to life’s challenges.  Be a foundation that is always unshaken during life’s storms.  Be the  encouragement to all of your ambitions in life.  The 20/20 hindsight is clear in understanding that you didn’t always get that Dad.  The times when I should have been were probably the times when I was slow in sorting through the “what is a Dad supposed to do” messages.  Believe me when I tell you that my heart was always the Dad you needed, but the mind was slow in giving you that person right away.  Missed moments.

Now that you are all above the High School line of measurement, life for each of you will hit on all sides.  The ups and downs will come and you may be in a position where you need to rely on lessons from your youth.  I hope that those are the lessons that were filled with consistency and solid truths.  You see, in the Dad manual (that doesn’t exist), there are too many variables that make knowing absolutes impossible.  And since this Dad was filled with so many differing “answers”, I never did get a chance to figure out which way was the right way.  If only I had more time, more resources, or…better yet…more involvement.

There is one constant from all the mixed messages out there on how to be a Dad. It is simply to be there. Be involved. Be a presence in your children’s lives.  That “how-to” was lost in all the chaos of my mind.  Years later, it had finally come through the fog, but regrettably in the closing hours of your childhood.  The phrase “missed the boat” rings louder with each passing day. 

I can’t pretend to know what each of think when you look back on your years growing up, but on those moments when you wonder to yourself, ‘where was Dad”,  please know that I was there, trying to get the answers you needed…it just took longer than I had hoped for.  My wish is for your understanding. 

With love,

Dad

….and so we fight.

The plague had thus afflicted many with a stench of vile filth.

And the world keeps spinning.  Round and round it goes. The stars still shine their light from billions of miles away and the sun still warms this planet.  In nature, the order of events still moves on without regard to the chaos that humanity continues to bestow upon civilization.  Therein is the effect of man on all that surrounds him.  Kind of makes you want to throw up, some days!

I had the opportunity the other day to sit outside and listen.  My mind filtered out as much as it could related to humans.  I pushed out the sounds of cars and airplanes.  Ignored the drone of lawnmowers and chain saws.  Blanked out the chatter of children and their parents throughout the neighborhood.  What I really did was to focus all my attention on the nature.  As much as I could, that is.  It was a tranquil moment! The visions of trees and the vastness of the blue skies.  The feel of grass and soil below me.  It was wonderful, and it all seemed…normal. 

What I discovered was that there sure was a lot of nothing.  Nothing, in the sense of peace and quiet.  I found that, though nature was all around me, there was a sense of craving that was occurring, a craving to be in that ‘world’.  As much as mankind has injected his will and way throughout planet Earth, the other inhabitants were still alive and well and doing just fine!  I was really enjoying their company for the moment.  It was a mini-vacation from the ‘plague’.  The ‘plague’ is a sickness that has been spreading like a wildfire throughout humankind.  It has been discovered that it destroys the brain by tearing out the common sensory lobe and then starts to dissolve the emotional cortex.  All that remains is an uncaring, no-conscience, zombie-like thing that seeks to inflict misery on whoever and whatever is around.

What made me really dwell about this were some of the events in recent weeks.  You see, I’m a news junkie.  I find myself searching for updates to the happenings that go on, not only local, but nationally and internationally.  A story breaks out here and I need to know.  Not just what the media filters to us, but the whole picture.  Don’t give me a nugget and tell me I’m content!  Facts, figures, pictures, summaries….I want to know it all!  Junkie! But recent reports of people pistol-whipping elderly women for their purses, thugs shooting at police indiscriminately, violent home invasion on a family with young children, and an elderly man shot by a thug as he walked into his own home, I’m finding that there is such a thing as ‘too much’.

With all of that coursing through my cranium, I’m finding there are some adverse physical and emotional effects from the worldly feed, as well.  I’ve heard the phrase before: information overload.  And it seems to be overloading with sadness, despondency, pain, suffering, violence, and destruction.  The sickest part is that you don’t have to go international or even national to be filled with this negativity.  It’s in your back yard.  It’s down the street.  It is permeating throughout what was once called civilization.  Uncivilization. The plague.

So what’s the solution? Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have one. Like a seeping cloud of vileness, this uncivilization is moving throughout the lands, decimating good things, tearing away the very fabric of decency that could, and should, be our humanity.  You and I could sit for days upon days and point the finger at this and that and never really hit the source because there isn’t just one source.  This is an evolution of allowances that have continued to bloom into the destruction of decent folk.  In the past, when people would do nothing but commit horrible acts upon others without remorse, we called them a scourge upon society.  But nowadays, there seems to be an acceptance to such violent behavior. Amazing how someone can commit such atrocities, but because we have to be concerned about their ‘feelings’, we have to go soft on them.  Thus, the plague is back on the streets in no time, doing what it does best: destroying.

Uncivilization.  It’s funny how we can look back at each generation in our little worlds and think that those before us were so “uncool”.  Our parents thought our manners and actions were barbaric.  Their parents thought they were out of control.  Their parent’s parent’s thought their kids were the end of civilization itself.  No one point to blame, because it’s been an evolution of degradation.  I believe the term used in the past has been ‘the decline of western civilization’.  But somewhere, somehow this has to come to a stop.  And I sure hope that it hits the brakes before our blue earth looks like some postapocalyptic scene from a science fiction movie.   

Demographics aside, it has become a global thing.  People groups aside, it has become a social stain.  Religious groups aside, it has become the bias.  Ethnicity aside, it has become separation.  It doesn’t matter who or what anymore, what matters is that it is.  It is a violation inherent in the system.  Can we tune out?  Are we allowed to turn our back on the seemingly senseless disregard for people and property?  No! We cannot!  Just because it is all around, we can still pick up the pieces and continue the good fight.  We may not impact the whole world, but we can impact our little world.  There is too much at stake here and anarchy running rampant is not an option.  We fight at the local levels.  We fight against the liars and cheats. We fight against evil that is now accepted. We fight against the all these things that are rotting our moral flesh.  We fight against the plague. We fight!

And so I listen all around and try to isolate the tranquility of nature.  I try to focus on serenity that will sooth a weary soul, worn out from the information overload.  I know that it is out there.  If, but for a moment in time, we can find some peace.  Because we cannot bury our head in the sand, we seek some solace from the uncivilization that surrounds.  Just a moment of refuge.  I know the plague is spreading.  I’ll be there in a minute…have to re-energize for the next round.

...and desolation remained, lest man stand to push back

The Ever-Mystical Sock Vortex

A deep part of humanity is the passion to know, to understand the how’s and why’s of the universe around us. Therein lays the problem. You see, this passion can oftentimes create more havoc than solution, and will, if the technically challenged are left unsupervised and with tools. 
My dear friend became a victim of an overzealous desire to solve one of life’s great mysteries, and perhaps a mystery that is best left unknown. The Ever-Mystical Sock Vortex!

His crusade began one Saturday morning with the simple task of getting dressed. The jeans and t-shirt combination were as usual. Socks and shoes would round out the basics and then off to the store for groceries.  The process halted at the sock drawer. One sock here, nothing matching there, missing partner somewhere. The investigation continued in the laundry hamper. 

Clothing pulled from the deep basket, piece by piece.  Piles grew as he continued the search.  “Why don’t any of the socks have a match?” He questioned under breath.  His wife called out from the kitchen with a what?

“Nothing”, he muttered. “I’m looking for a match to some of my socks”, he said as he raised his volume so she knew he was paying attention.  All the way down to the bottom of the basket, and nothing. How could this be? Where did the other half of all these socks go? Is this some sort of prank?

He walked out to the kitchen looking as a sleuth investigating a crime scene and looked at his wife quizzically.  “My socks”, he muttered. “Where is the other half of all my socks?”  She glanced up from here newspaper and shrugged both shoulders while trying to convey her best puzzled look.  “I dunno.”

The dryer. That must be it, he thought. That’s the place they say the socks disappear from.

He stepped through the kitchen and into the laundry room. A simple area with a washing machine, that dryer next to it, and various cleaning solutions lining a shelving unit next to the machines.  He opened the dryer door and glanced inside the drum. Reaching in, he felt around the tub hoping for a handful of socks to just magically to appear, ending his quest. Nothing. No socks within and nothing on the right or left of the outside. 

His mind became filled with cartoon images showing the intricacies of the dryer’s operations. Ok, he thought, the vent hose that comes out of the back of the machine goes to the hole in the wall and out of the house. Yes, that’s it! Outside! The dryer has pulled the socks through the drum, through the vent, and out of the house and into a pile in the backyard! That’s where they went!

Grabbing a pair of sandals on the way to the back door, he shuffled to the backyard. Finding the exit port for the dryer, he studied the ground around.  Nothing.  Nothing but leaves, grass, and dirt. He peered into the vent hole, squinting in deep study. “This is ridiculous!” He muttered.

Back inside, he knew what needed to be done. Grabbing his tool box, he understood that the best way to solve a mystery is to dismantle the cause of the mystery! Time to take the dryer apart!  This, of course was met with some stern warnings and skeptical verbiage from his wife!  She tried to explain the rational to him, but knew that this issue would not rest until he had satisfied his own quest.

“I’m gonna go to the store. You do whatever it is you think you have to do.” She stated with authority. “But, by the time I get back, this whole mess better be cleared up and that dryer in full functioning capacity!” And, with that, she passed through the front door, head shaking slowly side to side. 

He peered down at the magical box and grabbed the screwdriver.

Later in the afternoon, my dear friend’s wife arrived back at their house with an arm full of groceries and a sunken heart.  There, from laundry room and into the kitchen, lay the remnants of a once operational dryer.  The machine that worked great was now in pieces and strewn around the floor.   He glanced her way while holding a box with wires in his hand.  “Nothing,” was all he could muster.

Her face said enough, but her raging mind wasn’t done yet.  He looked down and with a defeated gasp said “I just don’t understand where the socks go.” 

Before she could let loose with both barrels of infuriation, the last semblance of calm allowed her to utter a piece of rational thinking.  “Did you ever stop to think that maybe the socks disappeared before they get to the dryer?”

With that, he looked at the washing machine with revelation in his eyes and reached for the screwdriver.

Time Stand Still

Yesterday was a good day. A short day-trip to a scenic and nostalgic little town was a refreshing and memory created.  Any time you have an opportunity to enjoy a of nature and eclectic people, you will often walk away with a new outlook on your own personal life.  The part that nature plays in self-reflection is, and has always been, quite understandable.  Historically proven, humans communing with nature will give a sense of beauty, peace, and an inward calm.  Standing next to a river with the trees rustling under the direction of the wind.  Sunlight glittering through the fall foliage, dancing off the moving waters. The gentle sounds of birds calling to one another. The autumn colors filling the visual senses with awe and wonderment.  Tranquility settles in and the callousness of the week begins to fade into a warming of rejuvenation.

Enter people.  This little town that I visited is not only a historic town nestled next to the river, but has become a mecca of antique shops, art studios, themed bars and restaurants, and unique shops.  Add to this the problem of ‘one way in, one way out’ through town, and you have the makings of absolute calamity.  Cars and motorcycles lined up as far as the eyes can see to the north and to the south.  Impatient drivers darting through freshly turned red lights in hopes of further advancing their position.  Pedestrians milling on sidewalks, blocking everything and everyone.  Now, let’s add to this congestion of people and vehicles with a festival!  Sure, it’s time for a celebration of the fall harvest, so let’s figure out a way to bring more people into an already cramped area!

I will admit, that I have always been a fan of people watching. I attend the Minnesota State Fair every year for two things: Pronto Pups and people!  Let’s face it, the displays are the same, the food is the same, the rides are the same, and the animals all seem the same to me. (Disclaimer: Yes, I know that they are different! Settle down)!  I go to that fair for my favorite food on a stick and to see the masses that gather.  You can learn a great deal about society and who we are by watching large groups of people who gather together at events such as this.  You have representatives from every race, creed, and status.  They all come with one mind, to have fun!

Now, on my trip there was a smaller, but just as significant gathering of people from all walks of life.  But on this particular day I wasn’t enlightened about some of life’s curiosities by the people around me.  It was from a visit to an antique store at the edge of town.  This particular store was different from many of the other stores simply because it was housed within an old building that had stood on that spot since the early settlers came in.  The multi-level building still contained the wood that framed the structure, formed the floors, and some of the stonework that created walls separating rooms.  An old building containing antiquities.  Fitting!

I have been in many antique stores before this visit, but on this day was when observation gave way to realization.  Wandering through the many aisles and nooks, glancing at the various knickknacks, furniture, clothing, oddities, and memorabilia,  things started to  scream at me in volumes.  “I remember that.”  “I had one of those.” “It seems like yesterday that I was using that very same thing.”

Really? The very objects that have been relegated to an antique store are the very things that I used, played with, and owned!  Is this some cosmic joke? Is there some message being sent to me from the universe? Are you trying to tell me something?  Now, hold on one minute here!  I’m NOT that old!  Someone get me a dictionary and the Universal Antiquities Law book…..I have some research to do!

First off, I had better make sure I understand the definition of the word:

1.  of or belonging to the past; not modern; outdated

2.  dating from a period long ago: antique furniture.

3.  in the tradition, fashion, or style of an earlier period; old-fashioned; antiquated.
Well, that seems pretty generic to me.  After all, you buy a cell phone now days and within a few months it is ‘outdated’.  But, you won’t find your ‘old’ smart phone sitting on a shelf in the antique store.  I’ll check with my highly classified, you-will-never-find-it, enigma book: Universal Antiquities Law.   According to section 3, paragraph 2.5, sub-paragraph 15, it clearly states that ‘items cannot be displayed as antiques or historical pieces, until such a time as this author has determined, so as not to make said author feel aged or become worrisome with self-reflection…”, etc, etc, etc….  Seems pretty clear to me that this was not consulted prior to putting out some of the items.  I could go on about the very specific details listed in the Book, but I won’t bore you with all the legalisms.  Let’s just say that there has been a coordinated violation of my self-directed rights as a citizen!
Be this as it may, I know that there are many who are “more experienced” in years that myself.  I find myself in a mix of older and younger folks around me everyday.  It’s just when you get to that point in your life when realizations begin to settle in.  When you can sit in a bar and see people ordering a drink that look like they are barely 15, yet are legal to drink.  When newscasters come on the television and you wonder if they just left high school.  You find yourself bringing up a reference to a television show from years past and the people around you look puzzled because they weren’t born yet.  I’m sure that many of you have experienced these moments, and many others.  That is when you chuckle with them, but walk away thinking to yourself: where has the time gone?
If you want to take a trip down memory lane, you might find that it isn’t too far from you.  It might be something as simple as a visit to your local antique store.  But, before you do, prepare yourself for some reality.  Some may find the reality is harsh and startling, some might find it to be a pleasant experience.  Whatever your reality is when taking that trip into the past, just remember that your past has brought you to this present.  Times may have changed, but we were the forgers of that change. We took the rotary telephone and turned it into the cellular. We took the phonograph and turned it into the MP3. And, we fortunately discarded the leisure suits!
Time moves forward and events and items slip into the past.  Reflect, remember, and smile!  Someday soon, that smart phone in your pocket is going to stir memories in your grandchildren when they visit the antique store!

Where’s the peace?

Spend several days lying in a miserable state due to sinus congestion and pounding headaches and you will certainly have time to reflect on many things! Despite the intense misery that keeps itself at the forefront of your attention, there seems to be ample time for thoughts to travel around almost every avenue of life.  You can’t drown it out with television because that was turned off,  in part to sad daytime programming and partly because the drone of re-runs seem to cause the pain and suffering to increase. Sleep only amplifies the potential for deeper thinking. At that point, you have only to give up and give in. Reflection time!

So what are the random topics that whirl around the brain, much like the spinning wheel from a game show? Round and round and round it goes. Where it stops? Nobody knows!  And, since most of my thinking seems to border on the edge of “weird random”, I often roll my eyes at some of the strange things that crop up!  How does an electron microscope work? Maybe I should learn how to play a mandolin.  I wonder if I can draw cartoon characters?  Here’s another great idea for a novel!  What would be a great business to operate from home?  How do they create computer models for weather?  Why are there so many different religions? 

All topics, all the time! So, in keeping with the swelling of the brain due to a fever, I decide to tackle the simplest topic first.  The one that millions of learned researchers, scholars, educators, scientists, and arm-chair solutionists (myself included) have spent centuries trying to solve, resolve, and determine what is and what isn’t!  The topic that has divided more people than anything else. Why is there so many different religions? Simple!

Dare, you say, to address such a topic as this? To potentially offend or blaspheme someone’s sacred holdings?  No, don’t worry…..I’m not planning on upsetting the apple cart! That would be too easy to do! All you have to do for that is to simply turn on the television, open a paper or magazine, or just talk with someone at work or home.  It’s obvious to even the under-educated (or those who really could care less) that this is a very personal topic.  Just for the record, I have no issues with people’s belief system. You want to pray or worship an ant hill, go for it. You want to take a day off each week to burn candles and chant things to burnt toast, more power to you! That’s the beauty of America….you can! (And, many do!)

What I don’t get is the aspect that folks profess their “religion” as a peaceful one. I, for one, am a huge fan of peace!  Love one another, and all that stuff,  is great! So….where’s the peace? 

I’m not going to sit here and list out specific religions or faiths or whatever you want to call it.  That is not what this topic is about.  So, please stop clinching your teeth, lower your raised fist, and take a slow, deep breath!  There….better? Let’s continue….

Throughout the history of humanity, written or unwritten, we bipeds have had a hankering for looking to a higher power.  Whether evidence shows it or not, there has always been a draw to something greater than self.  Any culture, any region, any people…all have figured that there has to be something bigger, better, stronger, running the whole show. And if you look at any of the religions in the world today, you will note similar groundwork.  Something or someone is higher than we are and is either the goal or the direction for which we need to travel.  Simple enough.  Each “grouping”, as I shall call it, has created its own doctrine and methodology for which to unify the masses under.  The groups build upon this until they reach the pinnacle of formality.

Enter into the dawning of the new ages.  Formal, semi-formal, loosely based, fundamental, off-shoot, even radical, all seem to be labels added to the various names given to each grouping.  But deeper still is the inherent belief that one’s personal doctrines are of peace.  Let’s take a look at what peace really means. For simplicity sake, I will utilize the definitions that are fitting with what we are talking about.  Essentially, peace is harmony in personal relations; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; a state of tranquility or quiet.  Should be a calm and serene state to be in.  If you are a part of peace, you would think that those around you would not feel threatened or worried. You would think…..

Let’s be real.  We are human and humans tend to believe that their personal way is the best. It’s seems to be the natural inclination within. So, what do the humans do with that? They decide that the neighbors need to do what they do.  But, when the neighbors don’t want to be in that grouping….well, here it goes:  The party of the first part insists that the party of the second part take part in the party. The party of the second part declines and the party of the first part becomes upset and forces the party of the second part to comply. The party of the second part pushes back and thus begins the party where everyone ends up crying!

But, wait! There’s more! Now some of the members of the party of the first part decide that the party of the second part had some good ideas too, but the conflicts with the party of the first part’s thinking, so, they leave the party of the first part, take with them some from the party of the second part and now create a party of the third part!  Confused? You should be. By now, this process had multiplied so many times that all that remains is a million parties!  Add this to the fact that the groupings continue to divide (like those biology thingys that creep people out), and next thing you know it is spread out like a virus!  Of course, the bigger your party is, the more “soldiers” you have to help “assimilate” other parties into your own (or, just squash the smaller parties).

Either way you look at it, most of the party pushers are really nothing more than militants pushing their agendas and ideas onto others. Gangs, anyone?  Last I checked, this wasn’t “peace”. 

Now before anyone gets too high and mighty in the britches, understand that this covers the vast multitude of every religious order.  Take a hard look at history.  Historians have all understood and agree that the rise of any religious group has been fraught with violence and conquest.  And let’s make one thing perfectly clear here so that no one walks away thinking that they are exempt:  This Still Happens Today!  Yes, everywhere, everyone, in every way.  No exceptions.  So, again I ask…..where’s the peace?

As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m all for people looking to higher powers, dedicating themselves to a life of devotion, and even walking a path that may not be clearly understood to the majority, but don’t….please don’t tell me that “all is filled with peace and harmony”!  Every religion is scarred with the history of violence and it continues today.  Take a look outside your realm, understand your origins, and see what is happening in the world.  It amazes me that folks watch the nightly news, point and say “those people”, or “that group is…”!  Stop and smell the coffee! Those people and that group is no different from your people and your group!

I close with this simple line from a complicated individual in history: if your slate is clean, then you can throw stones.

Dream A Little Dream

Nothing sparks imagination more than not imagining.  We succumb to the visions of innermost wants and desires when they are most suppressed. It is called dreaming. It can happen day or night, asleep or awake, busy or idol. The theatre of the brain begins the film, playing to an audience of one, whether we chose to pay attention or not.  Thus is the cycle of our lives. Setting forth on our daily tasks, while we aspire for something greater.  Dream big, dream small….it really doesn’t matter.  We dream.

This is not intended to define failures and shortcomings. That we dream of things that might have been, could have been, should have been does not incriminate our present lot. The dreams that we see (or perhaps ignore) are simply roles playing out within our subconscious. This really takes on a deeper version of “when I grow up, I wanna be a…..”! Not everyone succeeds with the path of childhood plans, but that doesn’t mean failure.  If that was the case, there are billions of failed rock stars!

Our dreams can often be the release of inner genius. They may hold a secret solution that our conscious is blinded too. Dreams may show us different paths to take, or may simply be the seasoning sprinkled on our daily lives.  No matter how we see them, they are the subject of speculations, the analysis of experts, and the topic among friends. We share them, spare them, and, most of all, reflect on them.  It is the imagination engine that has so often pushed people to their finest hours.  The ingenuity prompted by a vision from within.  Yet, we also tend to push it aside, letting it falter back into our subconscious world.  It is with this that we associate failure within our lives.  That the solution to the problem was right there and we did not act upon it.  But, are we really failing?

Regrets can be a poison that dissolves the inner soul. I said that.  Those who live with the aspect of failed dreams, whether a one-time spark of genius or a passion that we have built on over the years and yet never acted upon it in the real world often swim in regret.  Yet, regrets will eat you from the inside out if we let them fester.  We all have regrets from one level or another. Regret missing a childs concert. Regret drinking and driving. Regret not investing in something. Regret a decision. We all have them.  It’s how much we reflect on it that will determine if that regret hampers us the rest of our lives.

In each life, I believe there is a dream. Something that we feel compelled toward. But, in the grand scheme of things, sometimes those dreams don’t or won’t be allowed to play out. Life happens around us and can sweep us away from our dreams as fast as raging tide can wash away the shore.  When that alters the dream, the “hindsight is 20/20” glasses are put on and we find ourselves evaluating. “If only I had….”, “I should have never…..”, “maybe I could have…..”.  Then the movie continues to play. The dream is still in theater. Audience of one, no waiting.

So, forced to be reminded of the dreams gone by, we reflect. Next we regret. Let’s add some bitterness and a dash of resentment. Perhaps a daily dose of self-deprecation. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow will never come. The erosion of our life storm is in full swing.  Bits and pieces of our selves disintegrate.  Such a picture. A picture of humanity swimming in a sea of failure. But, wait!  All this from self-determined shattered dreams? A complete demise of humanity from someone not fulfilling their rock star goals? I don’t think so.

Let’s be honest. As I said before, life happens and can sweep us away from chasing dreams. But not all dreams are meant to be chased. You might think that the stars are calling you into space, but that doesn’t clearly say you are supposed to be an astronaut. There is so many aspects of dreams  that we fail to recognize.  It may just be a short motivation for you in a decision.  There may be some deeper definitions that tie in to other things.  We all dream of being successful, but how are we defining that? Perhaps the dreams of space travel was really the motivation to be a writer?  H.G. Wells certainly didn’t have NASA around to fuel his dreams, yet his dreams inspired his works.  The dreams that might have been seen as unobtainable in the real world,  yet they succeeded in opening minds to other possibilities in the universe.

Dreams can spark imaginations to affect many things, yet not all dreams come true. That doesn’t mean that dreams unfulfilled are dreams failed.  And, when life happens to alter the course you may think you need to be on, you always have the ability to choose a different path.  Over the years, I have heard stories of people who have given up things they pursued successfully and altered their paths to their dreams. Many on the outside might think this to be a waste of effort, but to the dreamers, they found inner peace. Lawyers that quit their practice to become farmers. Big city brokers that leave their 6-figure-a-year jobs to work as tour guides.  This is the aspect of dreams still alive, regrets subdued, paths altered, happiness found.

No matter where you are in life, there is a means to your goals.  No matter the course of life’s currents, our imaginations can take us where we need to be….even if it is later on in life.  Don’t let the regrets of dreams gone by become the poison within.  When we focus with clarity where we need to be, we can then start the journey with the first step. Be honest with yourself and understand that not all dreams are the clearest path, but they certainly can spark the imagination to motivate. We just have to let it happen without force, without fear, and most of all…without regret.

Happy Trails

It has often been said that the journey of a lifetime begins with a single step.  So much truth lies in that statement. The vast potential of the future in front of us is filled with such uncertainty.  So many valleys and mountains stand before us. So many pitfalls and snares.  So many signs and maps to follow.  But which way?

After we begin with that first, seemingly simplistic step, we begin our movement in a direction. Where that leads to, one never really knows, because on the way there will be many diversions and re-directs, that our first direction may not be the final destination.  We can plot and plan to get from point A to point B…even going so far as to making a map of each and every step along the way, but guess what? Life happens!  When that does we go into contingency planning, looking for alternate routes.  Sometimes we steer away from the event and get back on path, other times we find ourselves heading for a new destination.

What about those that don’t have a scheduled itinerary?  The sojourners that drift from one sunset to another, looking at the path only long enough to settle for a different way to go?  Sometimes, there are the travellers who started with one map plotted out but found themselves changing plans mid-stream and going in a different direction. Perhaps the change was intentional, or perhaps was by incidence that drove them down a different road. Either way, start at A, heading for B, changed to a new course and going for C (or maybe D or E or whatever…).

Point is, sometimes you have to decide a new course. For some folks, such as myself, just making a decision is in-and-of-itself a journey!  Thus, even that “first step” to begin is a monumental task!  But, a decision must be made! Taking that step, then the next, and so on, gets us rolling down the path. For many, there are paths that have all sorts of signs that try to direct our momentum:  “Go this way, it is the best”; “You will find what you’re looking for, this way”; “Here is the right path”.  Many times, these paths are not necessarily the best or the right ones. They may not be in line with your initial plans.  Finding yourself on some of these “false” trails will only delay your journey.  They have also been attributed to destroying your venture all together.  It is with this scenario that we find ourselves researching the side roads of life just for the sheer necessity of survival!

All this generality of travels, journeys, life-paths, can fit into the smallest of situations or can cover your birth-to-death span of existence.  The heartache of all this is the deceitful signs and maps that are created by people.  You’ve seen them before, filled with all sorts of good ideas and thoughts, acting as if they have THE only answer to everything.  “We’re right and everyone else is wrong”.  “Our way is genuine and true”.  “We have the only correct map in life”.  Really?

I would have to say that with the billions of people on this planet, the billions of ideas, the billions of opinions, the billions of ‘experts’….you would think that all of life would have been solved by now!  But, guess what? It isn’t! Your political views are not necessarily the right ones! Your religious views could be and probably are wrong! I have yet to see someones’ philosophy and psychology be 100 percent guaranteed absolutely accurate!  Do you wonder why there is so much conflict, violence, and frustration in the world? Everyone thinks they are right, everyone else is wrong, and if you don’t like my being right, then there’s gonna be some friction!

Really? C’mon people….it’s time to stop and smell the reality here!  The only absolute in this universe that we are travelling in is change.  Change is the once constant that has not stopped.  Politics change and evolve.  Religions change and evolve (yes, even the big 3!).  Social ideology is in a constant flux.  So, why all the violence? Why the constant conflict? Why are you pushing your agenda, ways, thoughts, ideology down my throat and telling me you’re right and everyone else is wrong?  More people have died violently because of religious conflict than any other reason. Why? Is it because group A thinks that they are right and everyone else is wrong?  Political turmoil has destroyed governments because everyone has to take an extreme side and not move an inch. Why? Is it because this party has all the answers and the other side doesn’t?  Again……Really?

Despite the natural universe having to adapt to this constant human destruction caused by in-fighting,  nature all around us seems to manage to coexist just fine. Interesting!  Everything outside of humanity has operated on a cooperation level that we seem to often miss.  The beauty of our universe, from outer space to the smallest of mass all resonating their signature energy, chiming in harmony with the rest of nature.  The raindrops that’s fall into a pond, causing ripples of waves outward, which in turn moves a shoreline, watering the soil that’s feeding the trees which produce the life-giving gas oxygen. All in harmony.

We are part of this nature, whether we follow a religious creed, adhere to philosophical teachings, or just wanting to drift in our journey whichever way the wind blows us.  As part of this journey, we do need to watch for the bad signs, avoid the wrong paths, and most of all, avoid the damaging things along the way.  There is nothing that says that you cannot hold certain ideas and beliefs close to your heart. But when it engulfs you to the point of destructive friction, maybe it is time to re-evaluate things. Everyone’s view is that their way is a peaceful way.  Their way is a helpful way.  History seems to show differently.  Please stop along the roadway you are on and give yourself some one-on-one time with nature around you.  Stop and listen.  What purpose could those paths have if all they cause is dissension in the world around us?

Tranquility

Common Sense says that peace within creates peace throughout.  We all know that this voyage we are on could use a lot less stress!

Peace on your journey!

Cannon