…and they say I’m crazy!

Masked To Protect The Innocent!

Minnesota has a reputation of being the icebox of the nation. Winter brings about unique challenges for the inhabitants here: staying warm, surviving, staying warm, keeping healthy, and staying warm! Since a primary goal throughout winter is keeping ourselves warm, why would people purposefully shun that duty, expose bare skin to the natural elements and immerse themselves into a frozen lake?  Because it’s there!

Each year, Minnesotans gather at frozen lakes, cut holes in said frozen lakes, strip down to (almost) bare skin, and jump! What? It’s not some weird fad. No, this is Polar Plunging! I have to believe that  jumping into a frozen lake is not a new activity (probably been around since the beginning of….well, I guess the ice age!). Yet, what may have started as a rite of passage or some pseudo-holistic healing practice, has now turned into a money-maker.  Fortunately for justification sake, it’s making money for a great cause! The Minnesota Special Olympics!

Minnesota law enforcement agencies have sponsored this unique event at multiple lakes for the last 15 years in Minnesota and the popularity increases every year.  Last year was my first “jump”. I didn’t know what to expect, became apprehensive (rational?) right before they yelled jump, but came out the other side (of the water) like a victorious warrior! I was a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’! Frozen to the very core of my soul, but very much alive! I accomplished that short 10 second burst of extreme exposure and wanted more! Well, more has come again!

Welcome the 2012 Polar Plunge in Minnesota! The warrior within has surged! Well, the costume might be a bit misleading. Not very warrior-like. Did I tell you that many of the participants like to dress in costumes? No? Oh, they sure do! Groups of people will often dress alike or follow a theme, such as the folks that become Smurfs or the couple dressed like Batman and Robin. Too fun! Costume and all right into the frigid waters! Just for the record, the feetie-pajamas are not straight out of my dresser! (Though they are sure comfortable!)

Once in, you are surrounded by a sudden shock of chill.  The real fun begins when you break the water’s surface. The winter air pokes at you like a thousand needles in every direction. Under normal circumstances, this would cause distress….but not today. Today is warrior day! Today is the day I’ve overcome rational fears and ideas. People don’t jump in a lake in the middle of winter, especially with water-retaining adult footie pajamas on! Ah, but they do! When everyone else says you shouldn’t because it isn’t normal…you do it because…..

Because there are some people who face challenges everyday that are beyond what you and I can comprehend. Tasks that we take for granted are uphill battles for some. My 10 second uphill battle is just a blip on life’s radar compared to what our Olympians face each day.  The Special Olympics participants are going against the grain of society…doing amazing feats of strength, stamina, and skill that they were once told they could not do. And, thanks to their inspiration, truly wonderful people have stepped up to donate time and money to ensure that these Olympians can continue to show us how to overcome!

Sure, some have told me how crazy I am because I jumped in a frozen lake in the middle of winter.  It’s really the motivation behind the jump that makes it perfectly clear to me.  That jump is the most sane thing I’ve done all year. I’ve been fortunate to have helped some of the greatest inspiration the world should be watching! It really makes sense…Common Sense, to be more precise! Keep focused on success, not failure. More mountains (and frozen lakes) can be conquered with a warrior zeal within!

Plunge! Jammies and all....

Will The Real You Please Stand Up?

Who's Behind The Mask?

I am a doctor. I am a detective. I am an athlete. I am a scientist. I am a rock star. I am a comedian. I am all this and more.

I am a talentless whiner. I am a user of people. I am a deceiver of businesses. I am an attention junkie. I am all this and more.

After I turn off the television, I sit in isolation. Quiet surrounds me I’m left with my thoughts. The mind scrambles to register all that it witnessed.  Who am I? Can I heal? Do I solve? Am I famous? Do I need accolades? Where’s my mansion? Who am I?

Filled with inexplicable amounts of make-believe, we find ourselves not ourselves. The constant watcher of others, we soon lose identity and believe ourselves someone else. Reality is scripted and fiction is true-to-life. Separating ourself from the box becomes too painful and we elect to base life upon the results of edited production. The need to immerse our comings and goings on what someone else is takes over. Who am I?

Why is there such a fascination with living vicariously through others, whether fact or fiction? Have we become so dissolution with ourselves, our potential, that we abandon the future we can make all for the fantasy of another? We are so entrenched in emulating that ‘original’ is becoming archaic. Gene Roddenberry may have discovered our futures by the creation of an alien race called the Borg for the Star Trek franchises. They are a fictional race of cybernetic organisms that “assimilate” other beings into their “collective”. In other word, much like the content on our t.v.’s, they absorb people and make us a part of themselves.

We are not too far from that, actually. Lacking the flying spaceships and science fiction effects, we have this continual desire to “be like” this person or that. The old days of boys wanting to grow up and be like their hero’s such as the Lone Ranger and brave knights, or the little girls wanting to become princesses and movie stars, has evolved into obsessions that are suffered even by adults. We seek to replace our doldrums for excitement…our meanial for fame!  The power to be living in our skin, but as someone else.

So we sit day after day, seeking to be someone else, somewhere else. We look inward and want to change outward. We feel a lacking inside and reach for transformation, even if it is only a fantasy.  At the cost of being accusatory, I suggest we are all, to some degree or another, under this urge. We start out as ourselves, become disillusioned with who we are due to pressure to conform, and eventually all but abandon who we are.  Who we become depends on who we covet.

Not that being inspired by others’ achievements to become better is a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be a great thing!  Isn’t it said that imitation is the highest form of flattery?  Sure!  But what on television is there that is worth imitation?

May I direct the audience to reality t.v.? No, it’s ok…you can shake your head in disbelief. A very understandable reaction when you look at the characters on there through your Common Sense Glasses!  Come on folks! These people are out there! Be afraid, be very afraid! 

The fact that many are loose in the world without a good pair of Common Sense Glasses is scary! They cannot see the shallow and conceited manners of many on television. They are blinded to the arrogance of the actors, (…and yes, reality t.v. is nothing but actors).  But because of the flamboyant and over-the-top nature of the characters, some think that the make-believe is a better existence and want to do the same. 

With a good fitting of Common Sense, you start to see through the fake and fluff.  You understand that life isn’t an everyday party without consequences.  You see that accountability is on the individual, not the production staff. Directors and camera crews don’t alter your life by edits and filters…you are you, right to the very end!

If science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that you need to have your guard up at all times.  Aliens from far and near are trying to absorb you into their world, and unless you see them for who they really are, you will fall prey and lose self. Wear your Common Sense Glasses, see the world as it really is, and protect yourself from the lure of illusion. Stand on your own two feet and be who you are! You can still enjoy life, and I believe life will enjoy the real you!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

An Open Letter To Mr. Claus

Dear Santa,

It’s been over 30 years since my last confession and I have to confess that things have really gone askew!  I’m not even sure my toilet swirls in the correct direction when flushed.  The world has gone mad and I was hoping that you could get things fixed.  I know you’re a busy guy this time of year, with all the labelling and legal hurdles you have to clear before you can bring goodies on your sleigh, but, I just need to know if the old Santa is still there…the one that can put fear in children that they might be on the naughty list.  The Santa who can actually have children sit on his lap without the threat of lawsuit.  Where have you been all these years?  I mean, you are still Santa, right? The jolly ol’ elf that has an independent operation in the north pole? You haven’t become the “Elf formerly known as…”, or “And now, here’s Santa, sponsored by…”?  You didn’t get caught up in any Ponzi schemes, did you? I don’t know why I worry about these things. Just do.

Are you feeling severely limited these days with all the regulations, restrictions, taxations, and legal ramifications? A person of your position is probably scrutinized 24/7.  Labor watchdogs, potential whistle-blowers, children services and such.  No wonder you don’t have the power you once did!  It’s a serious shame!  Innocence is lost, but not solely to perversions.  It seems that it’s lost to the governmental controls, corporate greed, and the individual narcissism of people today.  With all that going on, sorry to say, you never really did have a chance to survive.  The world today is heading down the path of anti-Clausism.  No one, save but a few, have the desire to believe in miracles. The days of dreaming have been replaced by the days of medication.  Your role is being replaced by paranoia.  How sad is that!

I’ve done my own tally and the best I can discern is that your “nice” list has to be really, really short.  I firmly believe that all the idiots that refuse to go beyond 40 MPH down the freeway on-ramps until after they have a mile or two under their belts should not be on that list.  I think you would have to agree that most of our world-wide government leaders have probably slipped from one list to the other.  There is so many situations of violence, mayhem, and, just plain disorder throughout the world that one would have to imagine your trip time would be half from what it once was.  Too bad you can’t take some of these “naughty listers” out behind the reindeer barn and give them all a yule log upside their heads!

Enough of that, though.  I am worried for you.  It is certainly hard to keep your mental and physical health intact these days with all that is going on.  I remember that song with the kid singing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”.  I still sing that nowdays because I can’t afford the dental work.  Have you seen the out-of-pocket prices? Wow!  So, I sing….and sing….and wish upon a star, (or HMO, or bank loan).  Plus, it is really hard to keep one’s sanity together during these times.  I’ve found that the reindeer games really take a toll on folks these days, and all you end up with is the droppings! You must know that one first hand!  How do you cope?

Well, I suppose I should get on with my self-indulging list of ‘what I want’ for Christmas.  I am not going to ask for world peace, family love, food and shelter for the poor in the United States, bringing home the troops from overseas, justice for Caylee Anthony, our political parties to pull their heads out, jobs for the unemployed, corporate greed to subside, the end to selfishness, medical and dental care for everyone in the U.S., religions to calm down, crime to decrease, and several million other things.  I am not going to ask for any of that because I believe that you have already heard those requests from the folks on your “nice” list.

What I am going to ask for is you. The Santa Claus.  The one I knew as a kid.  The one that captured my excitement of Christmas and kept me dreaming of magic.  The Kris Kringle that created dreams inside each and every one of us.  The Jolly Ol’ Elf of yesteryear is what I ask.  I want to have that happy, carefree feeling within my heart, if but just for a moment. To experience the power you once radiated throughout the world that said ‘it’s ok to believe!’  If all the adults felt that, imagine what could really happen!  Common Sense says that the results would be wonderful!  The world needs you now, more than ever!

Sincerly,

The Cannon

 

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.