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.

Still Alive!

Just want to let you all know that I am still active, alive, and working to bringing you more ramblings, commentaries, murmurings, and a host of other things including a new short story.
The short will be a mix of humor and fiction, yet still holding true to the theme of it all…..Common Sense!
I appreciate your patience and, most of all, willingness to read the smatterings of sense I am trying to make common!

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.

What do you first cast?

Probably more of a hot-bed discussion than most subjects as we approach the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on these United States is free speech.  That First Amendment of the Constitution states simply:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Abridging simply means to curtail or hinder. Nothing more. You have the legal right given to you as a U.S. citizen to speak your mind, say your peace, and voice your opinion!  Look around you and that is probably the majority of what is on television and radio. The internet is abuzz with free speech partakers.  No matter the topic, no matter the event, no matter the person…..everything will generate opinions and those opinions can be expressed freely and without fear of persecution from our government.

With the many positives of this freedom, there are also many negatives.  History shows us that words can be hurtful, degrading, and extremely destructive.  Words, like the bullet fired from a gun, cannot be recalled. Once that free speech is launched to its audience, it is out there.  In this day and age of modern technology, our speech can be launched around the world to an ever-increasing audience in a matter of seconds.  Social networks, news outlets, blogs, and email are utilized by so many and gives users the capability to voice thoughts to whoever wants to listen.  The part many tend to forget is that your words are out there and it is now permanent record. The Greek sage Publius said “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence”.

I opened this blog with the fact that free speech can be a touchy area.  In light of the upcoming 10 year anniversary of 9/11, we not only look back to that day’s events and how it affected us, but also to revisit the stories and opinions regarding the tragedy.  Over the last 10 years, free speech has been a key element.  From the positive stories of heroes to the criticism of government.  Everyone has voiced themselves in one way or another.  But, are we building up or tearing down this country with our free speech?

One particular aspect of this all has been blame. People are always looking for the scapegoat to point the finger at and ease our minds.  Usually when tragedy takes place, the leader is the first to be accused.  Whether it is a city, a state, or a country, the leader of that demographic is first to be on the guilty list.  What amazes me the most is that people have such a creative energy and drive as to bend and twist the obvious and the facts into such a way as to make it look like the leader, themselves, are soley alone in the evil deed!  Really?  Are we so desperate to attach a name to the disaster that we go beyond reason?

Let’s face some facts, shall we?  When a natural disaster, such as Katrina, hits a city that is built in a low-lying ‘bowl’ next to a large body of water, what do you think is going to happen? You can build all the dikes and levies you want, but the water is gonna come in! Duh! When the earth shakes and cracks structures like nuclear power plants and the radiation leaks, is it really some sitting politicians fault for that?  Common Sense, help me out here!

Settle down, folks. There’s an old saying that says stuff happens (edited).  If you leave your windows or doors unlocked and some thug comes in and steals from you….then there’s a place for blame. Blame on you for leaving things unsecured and blame on them for being scum! But, truthfully, just as stuff happens, so does scum happen.  Crimes occur even when we have ourselves in our most vigilant state.  Internet users still get hacked even with some of the best security afforded.  People still get robbed in broad daylight,even with our caution on high alert, and 9/11 still happened….even with some of the signs and symptoms that existed. Sometimes, there really is only so much that can be done.

Hindsight is always 20/20. We can always look back and declare that we should have seen that coming, and many still do to this day. Every journalist, politician, analyst, specialist, and average citizen have all utilized their free speech with opinion and blame.  But let me say right here, right now, that there isn’t any one person to blame. We cannot blame a president. We cannot blame a mayor. We cannot blame an agency. We simply have to stop with the blame game all together. Free speech your opinions all you want, but before you grab hold of your first amendment right and shake a finger or two somewhere, try plugging in that key, missing element called common sense!  Take a look at reality and reason!

Remember back when your mother (or somebody’s mother) used to say “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  I really hope so, because I don’t think I can make it any more obvious! We are a county of innocent until proven guilty and I’m pretty sure that we don’t need to play judge, jury, and hangman during times of unrest.  Amazing how people really have this propensity to be the first to cast stones, blame others, and accuse anyone.  Well, blame on all of you who do that!

We have freedom within this country to utilize the most powerful weapons around the world: Words! Crimes will be addressed, and scum will be held accountable, but the rest could really use some good words of encouragement. Folks really need to hear some harmonies of language that warms. Even a little bit of free speech as simple as “I love you”, “you’re awesome”, and “have a wonderful day my friend” can be so powerful! You don’t have to be a walking Hallmark card, but can certainly appreciate how great some positive free speech feels when directed to you from the heart.

Words are powerful, let’s use that power in a positive way! The late, great musician, Jimi Hendrix, once said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Simple.   That’s free speech.

I Will Choose……

Many of you have so far tolerated much of my rants and ravings throughout these blogs.  The initial intention was to complain about the demise of common sense. To this point, I have tried, to some degree or another, comply with that task by pointing out the obvious. Often times, we as a society will let change seep into our norm, even though a level of disagreement or, perhaps better fitting a definition, disillusionment, might exist.  We can stand at the doorway and declare that this doesn’t make sense, but in the end, rational thinking be damned and foolhardiness reigns.

Upon closer examination to the root causes of this type of disruption allowed, I set aside the outside world around me and looked within myself.  Where have I allowed common sense to lie dormant in my past and how has it shaped where and who I am today? I’ve been privy to some self-reflection that mapped out many options in life I either didn’t know existed then or decided that future planning wasn’t needed at the moment.  I am not ashamed to be a finger-pointer at myself.  Shortcomings and failures in life are open and often times advertised in plain view for others to see.

It is no secret that many events growing up were a mystery to me then, becoming clear with understanding later on. The term ‘hind site is 20/20’ was truly fitting of my life-learning.

So what is the reasons for lack of understanding?  How are we missing out on seemingly simple concepts?  When a person is educated that they are to stop at a red light, then go on green, it then becomes a daily choice to adhere to that instruction.  We stop at the red lights because we learned.  We saw the consequences of choosing not to listen.  I am not yet convinced that this type of training is fulfilled in  other key elements of life-teaching.   We may still include that instruction in driver’s education classes, but what about beyond driving? What about the obvious do’s and don’ts?

Back in my younger days, seatbelts were not mandatory.  You could get in the car and ignore the lapbelts.  Often times, they were that nuisance that you tucked into the seat so as not to have to sit on the metal buckle.  That was the case when I was a passenger in a speeding vehicle that left the road and went headlong into a telephone pole. The vehicle went airborne and so did I…into the windshield.  Had the lapbelt been over instead of under me, results would have been much different.  New views? Yes! Wear the seatbelt from now on in any vehicle!  Lesson learned? Yes!  I know that the education class did say to wear seat belts when driving.  I remember because it was on the checklist of things to do before taking the driving portion of the test.  But what happened between the test and the telephone pole? Free will.

We are a free society with free will to choose freely our paths, whether that choice is as simple as wearing a seatbelt or as big as having a baby.  We choose.  The part that lacks these days is the thinking process before the choice is made! There isn’t even a spark that fires in the brain prior to some of the choices people make.  Did you really think over the consequences before taking that meth?  Did you think of possible life-changing outcomes that can happen after unprotected sex?  Is that text message you are trying to read while driving so important that consequences are irrelevant?  Are you aware of the consequences, not if, but when you are caught in that illegal activity?

Let’s just say that the “Pre-Thinking” phase of some brains have a type of short-circuit these days. As in my example above, my brain didn’t even come close to firing a pre-thought as to whether I should put the seatbelt on.  How nice it would have been for that pre-thought to show me a few images of wrecked cars, bodies launched through windshields and maybe an ambulance or two, just for added dramatic effect!  Perhaps I would have taken that extra second or two needed to prepare for a possible negative event (which did occur).  Whether our pre-thinking is from deep impacting instruction or deep impacting events, pre-thinking can and does happen.  Depending on just how impacted it is will determine just how influential over our free will choice it will be.

So the question that remains is are we, or are we not, deeply impacting in our instruction of today’s kids?  What is missing in either their formal education or the social education (i.e. family, neighborhood, church, friends)?  How can the youth continue on with a path of destruction when they supposedly have been taught otherwise. What about the youth that have personally experienced tragedy, yet continue to choose that affliction as a way of life?  I am of a firm belief that much of the destruction to pre-thinking has come from the role-models that kids tend to glorify.  When your ‘hero’ is adamant that a seatbelt should be worn, you will more-often-than-not follow that example faster than having a pre-thought of possible consequences.  When that ‘idol’ in your life tells you it’s ok to act this way or that, you stop your pre-thinking as to the consequences of that action and just “jump in with both feet”.  The sad part is that the tendency is to nevermind that the hero’s lifestyle is delinquent or criminal.  Ignore that the role-model initiates violence. Push aside the fact that this individual or group advocates self-destruction.

I can post many examples of these things that are cast to the forefront of people’s thinking, allowed to destroy the self-preserving pre-thought process.  Everything from cults to gangsters,  religion to music and videos.  The Hitlers’ of today inciting violence, the music rappers who degrade civility and humanity, the ministers of hate who attack everything that is not ‘like them’.  All of these things purpose negativity, violence, and create a destruction of self.  Desecrate others, take drugs, no restrictions, violence is the answer…it’s what permeates their very existence.  The part that should horrify people, but sadly doesn’t, is that it’s all around.  Everywhere you turn, society is slowly allowing the seeping ooze of degenerates to come in. Folks that once stood on common sense are now glorifying these groups and people who have somehow masked societies minds into thinking that they are really ok.  Deceptive.  What was once looked upon as scourge is now given awards.  The more these idols are put up on pedestals, the less we have our pre-thought protections telling us that there are, and will be, consequences to our actions.  The idols that we follow so mindlessly will not be the ones paying for our lack of thinking.  Just because Joe or Jane sends text messages while driving and hasn’t had an accident doesn’t mean that you won’t. Just because religion X or rapper Y incites hate and violence doesn’t mean that it’s ok to do it!  Wake Up! Common Sense, People!

Remove the idols, learn, think.  Think it through.  Think for yourself!  Take that extra second or two and evaluate your actions. In the end, you are the only one that will be held accountable, but your actions can, and will,  affect many.  Will they be good or bad?

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?


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!


A Real Hero

Recent news came out of Long Beach, Washington regarding a young lad that was caught up in a near-death experience.  He was with a group of people enjoying some sun and fun at the beach.  The Pacific ocean changed into a wave of ferocity and rip tides were pulling the 12-year-old away from the safety of the shore and the into the depths of death.  Yet, in the midst of this parental nightmare, into the maelstrom comes a young 12-year-old girl named Nicole. She saw the danger, the situation, and with great risk to her own mortality, guided her small wake board toward the victim of the sea. 

The two ‘tweens clung to the board, hoping and waiting for rescue.  But, as nature would have it, a large wave struck the two and sent them back into the water.  Nicole managed to embrace the board, but young Dale was nowhere to be seen.  About this time though, rescuers had arrived and with incredible skill and training, found Dale and pulled his lifeless body out of the water.  Through miracle, fate, intervention, or a combination of all things good, he revived, survived, and lives to live again!   As for young Nicole, after a visit to her target of heroics in the hospital, moves onward in her life’s journey. 

Everyday, people put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of another. Our heroes are the firefighters, police, military, and others who stand face to face with the potential of death, stare it down, and pull others from the brink of darkness.  Those heroes are the heroes of heroes!   And now we have an example that age, wisdom, training, and raw courage don’t always have to be the pre-requisite of heroism.  This young lady was scared, unsure, and certainly untrained in the ways of water rescue….but she persevered.  She doesn’t have grand equipment or safety gear….but she went anyway.  What she had, what all heroes have is compassion.

If you Google the word hero under an image search you get a sad sense of what has become.  The images that sprout up are that of video games, cartoons, and imagination.  Pictures created by imagination.  Yet, the real definition of hero is of people created by the heart.  No computers or crayons. No comics or television. They are people. People with heart. People who do what so many will not……act.  Concern and caring for others is a compassion that moves mountains, changes the course of nature, and leads nations.

The great guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Young Nicole doesn’t have a love of power.  In fact, I’m sure that she felt quite powerless against the surf that day. But, she had a power of love for her fellow human that fought against all odds.  Now, she didn’t ‘rescue’ young Dale that day, but the rescuers that did commented that she bought him time for them to do what they are trained to do, thus saving his life with her act of selflessness. 

We face adversity everyday on so many levels. Some are more prevalent than others. Many times, people around us…some we know, others we don’t…will step in to lend a helping hand. There is occasion when that helping hand is the hand of compassion facing the greatest adversity….death.  Connected to that particular hand is a real hero. Let’s recognize that.  Common sense says heroes are real people in everyday life that have a heart of compassion.

Where have all the funnys gone…..

It is said that laughter is the best medicine.  I can’t recall a time when I have been sitting in a funk or just plain depressed and could still manage a good laugh after watching or listening to some classic comedy.  I’m not talking about the latest brand of comedic actors and shows on television (though there are a few good ones on).  I’m talking about the shows that many youth of today would turn off as being “old” or “out of date”.  Today is marking the 100th birthday of a great comedienne, Lucille Ball.  Though she passed at a young 77, her work and talents are still with us today.  She revolutionized so much of what we see on television that many of those new comedies still use her innovations, such as filming before a live studio audience!

Decades later, you still laugh. You still whip the tears from your eyes watching the episode with Lucy at the candy factory conveyor belt.  Your stomach still aches after the half-hour hoot!

I was fortunate to be able to introduce my children when they were young to some great classic comedy.  When all the rage was Power Rangers and super-cheesy sitcoms, I broke through the color barriers and sold them on some black and white funnies.  Sure, at first there was some resistance.  “This is stupid, it’s not even in color”.  “This is so old, it can’t be funny”.  “Looks BORING!” (insert eyes rolling here).  Enter I Love Lucy.  Enter Abbott and Costello. Enter Laurel and Hardy.

SOLD! To the children in the front row!

Proud moments.  I generally justified those moments as ‘cultural education’ for the kids’ benefit, but will confess that I enjoyed every minute of every episode or movie just as much.  There is something about the nostalgia that seems to take us away for a brief moment to a simpler time.  There wasn’t any super computers with super smartphones that were a part of the punch-line.  Modern conveniences were plots to science fiction.  People had their differences, but also had respect.

We are in a very complex, demanding time of life.  We are constantly bombarded with demands and pressures.  Issues such as depression and anxiety are common-place.  Not that there wasn’t these problems back in the days of simpler times, but it was nowhere near the magnitude that it is today.  It seems that as technology increases to make our lives easier, it has also created greater stressors.

Now, social media has taken over and what it really has created is a world of drones.  Where the social media has taken us all is online and on our smartphones and pulled us away from the ‘real world’.  No longer interacting with each other face to face, everything has been dwindled onto our phones and computers….virtual versus real.

I started this article with the line that laughter is the best medicine. It’s true.  As humanity evolves itself into a state of robots taking commands from the social networks, I can’t help but think of the evil creatures of the t.v. show Star Trek: the Next Generation.  The race is called the Borg.  Essentially are assimilated beings from all over the universe, many looking remarkably human. The ‘assimilation’ is where the human emotions and independent thought are stripped away and every member is now a part of the ‘collective’. Everyone does what everyone else does. No independence, just plugged into the big computer and follow the commands.

This is where we are heading.  The modern technology is plugging us into it and stripping away our humanity.  With that, comes the emotional dysfunction, the mental breakdowns, and the withdraw from real society and family.  Maybe a passionate plea from the world of common sense is in order: Please unplug for a while, take the time away from the stressors, and laugh!  If your head is spinning and filled with chaos….laugh!  If you are flooded with sadness and despair, take some time to laugh!  If you are feeling alone and cold, laugh!  If you unplug from the collective, interact with real humanity, watch a little I Love Lucy….you might get your senses back!

Common sense!

Two steps forward, three steps back.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.   Well, I’m sorry to say this but, either way you end up with a very sour face!

That’s the issue.  We all know that life can be hard, with its ups and downs and its round and rounds, but is there ever a break?  I can honestly say that in so many circumstances, our choices and decisions will often weigh in on the outcomes of our life.  You choose to rob a bank, the outcome will not be pleasant.   You chose to cheat the system, you can be sure that at some point you will be caught and will lose out on the frills.  You play with fire, you get burned.  Simple. I think they call that cause and effect.  But what about the other side of that?  The side that has the negative effects without the cause?  The old ‘two steps forward, three steps back’ syndrome.

Throughout this world are millions of folks who try hard, work hard, play well with others,  and just generally are law-abiding citizens who pay their share of taxes and try to make ends meet.   These are the folks who strive to put food on the table, help a neighbor when they can, and contribute positive to society.  There isn’t room to grumble when the people up the street get a new car and they cannot afford to even keep theirs running smooth.  When you don’t try to keep up with the Jones’ to get the new this and that. Our common folks settle for what they have because it’s all they have.  Just keeping their heads above water and all the other nifty one-liners and sayings to describe our average Joe’s and Jane’s.

What’s missing in the picture of the “average” citizen is the darker maladies that perform their evil within.  “Two steps forward, three steps back”.  You work hard, but it will never be enough. You try to do right, but it bites you in the rear.  You follow the laws but will still be the first to suffer under them.  Try, try, try as hard as you will, but peace will not be afforded to you. Calm will ever elude you.  Gains will be stripped away.   Let’s face it, a backward slide into poverty is your only path.  You don’t have what it takes!

Well, now that the cheery thoughts are swaying back and forth in time to the demise that awaits, ask why do we even bother?  Let’s face it…..our system is made to slowly take from the average good folk and give to the over-greedy wealthy who don’t, but do, need more and more.  Or, give it over to the illegals, the law-breakers, the cheaters, and the undeserving.  “Two steps forward, three steps back”.  Let’s take from the struggling and strip away the remaining good….all in the name of social programs! After all, they are created to give others what the hardworking citizens were striving for but will never reach!  You don’t have to work! You don’t have to pay! You don’t need to read, write, or even speak the language! All  you have to do is be a non-contributing member of our U.S. of A. and we will take from the worker and give to you!

But wait! there’s more! If you do nothing now, we will continue to up the offer!  Now you don’t even need to be a member! Just show up and we’ll give you food, housing, money, loans to start businesses, cars, and the added bonus of free post secondary education! That’s right! Everyone around you that is a positive, hard-working, contributing member of our society and have been constantly striving for just such things will envy you immensely!  You will get what they want and you don’t have to work for it!  So, when you see your new neighbor stranded on the side of road with a broken-down car…remember, you could have ended up like him.. working hard everyday and still can’t make it! “Two steps forward, three steps back”.

I would say right about here is where the comments of exaggeration are getting to be too much…but there isn’t any exaggeration. You and I, average citizens that struggle to make ends meet, work an honest days work, follow the laws, pay our share of taxes and give to society, are being passed up.  Local, State, and Federal governments are giving away everything, including the kitchen sink, to illegals and thieves.  And if they can’t get it, then they will send overseas to other undeserving types.  Even places like the Land of Lincoln, Illinois, is going to give free college educations to illegal immigrants.  Why send them back or punish them!  Your hard-earned taxes are spent not on you, but non-contributing people who are getting the free handouts.

My car finally gave up the ghost this morning on my way to work.  I can’t afford to get it fixed.  I was doing many things wrong.  I was going to my job, making mediocre pay.  I’ve paid my taxes and dues.  I don’t cheat and lie to gain social programs that I don’t qualify for.  I work and honest days work.  I follow the laws of these United States of America.  I even have several applications out for additional part-time work.  I don’t live with excess or luxuries.  I contribute to society.  I’m doing everything wrong to get ahead.

A great song plays at the beginning of the classic television show “All In The Family” called  “Those were the days” by Charles Stouse and Lee Adams.  It plays in my head and in my heart…..

 Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.

And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.

I highlighted those two key lines on purpose. Common Sense says that everybody can pull their own weight. Worked fine before, why not now?  Oh, that’s right!  “Two steps forward, three steps back syndrome”.  Guess the times they are a-changin’.  It would seem that the negative effects to our hard work that we are experiencing has been created.  Created by our elected.

Check Please!