…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.

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

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!