Thursday, August 31, 2017
Everybody's Somebody in Someone Else's Story
I was 18, and I was spending the Summer working on a construction crew for Soule Construction Company in Pensacola, Florida, as an apprentice carpenter.
One job was widening a bridge over the Escambia River, near Century, Florida.
Talk about getting old.
That bridge, and several other things I helped build, overpasses on Interstate I-110, going into downtown Pensacola, for example, have since been torn down and replaced.
Anyway, they insisted I wear this ugly metal helmet, and, as a rebellious teenager, I took it off at every opportunity.
On this particular day, my job as apprentice was to crawl up under the bridge, and, lying on a beam about 30 feet above the river, set some framing in place so that concrete could be poured later to cap a pier.
As I was under the roadbed of the bridge, there was a huge "pavement breaker" tearing up the concrete above me.
Suddenly, a huge chunk of concrete, about the size of a soccer ball, broke loose and hit me in the head.
Actually, it hit my helmet and left a pretty big dent in it, but, I was okay.
I kept that helmet for nearly 50 years after that.
So many times, so many ways, my story, could have ended. So many stories have ended before they should have.
Sometimes even doing everything right doesn't save the hero.
Everybody around you is the hero of somebody's story, even if it's just their own.
Enjoy them, their story, and their place in YOUR story.
They might not be here tomorrow.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Let's See About Seeing
I have a family member who is legally blind. She only has peripheral vision and can hold a can of food close to her eyes in a certain spot and tell what's in it, but she cannot see another shopper in front of her.
She fears losing her sight completely, and not being able to see the faces of her children.
We take our sense of sight seriously. We buy special things to see stuff better.
My eyes are getting worse as I age. I have bifocals, reading glasses, even a magnifying glass, because I want to see stuff, and see it well. I even have a pair of binoculars in the glove box of my truck for looking out at the world, or getting close and personal with the Moon.
I want to see.
I'm prepared to see.
I make efforts to see.
I bet you do too.
We want to know what stuff looks like, inside and out. We even have mirrors so that we can see how we look, and, no matter how much we say we don't, we want to see ourselves, and loved ones, in pictures.
Sometimes being able to see depends on how hard you're trying to see. We make efforts to see.
Sometimes, trying real hard helps us see things better. Looking long, looking hard, looking deep...at beautiful, impressive things.
People are beautiful and impressive.
Maybe we should look harder at them. and in the mirror, too.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
It's Not Always Somebody Else's Problem
Then, you get up, and, WHAM! There's life and the world staring you in the face, daring you to do something.
Yeah, life's mean like that.
We figure we're going in some direction, or, maybe just wandering around, looking at stuff and having a pleasant time, and WHAM! Life hits us in the face with something.
Could be good.
Could be bad.
Could be, if we're lucky, somebody else's problem.
But, maybe, sometimes, somebody else's problem is still our problem. Depends on how far we take this "family of man" idea.
I take it pretty far.
Somebody in Dubai or Antarctica gets a problem, I worry about them.
Maybe that's why we read news. Maybe it's NOT because we're just nosey and want to know other people's business and mishaps. Maybe it's because we care.
I'm gonna go with nosey.
But, you know what?
I believe that caring is something you can learn. You walk around worrying about yourself all the time. Why not spare some of that for your neighbor?
No conclusions here.
Haven't had my coffee yet, but some poor soul won't get any coffee today.
I'm NOT sad, just concerned...musing in the morning about stuff.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Why I Have A Harpoon Head In My Bedroom
Maybe the harpoon head.
If we dig around some more, we'll find belaying pins, marlinspikes, some pieces of fancy knotting, and books on knots.
Things my father owned.
He had a love for fishing, sailing ships, old things related to the sea, and, his hobby was knotting.
Hence all the knotted things he made; a dog leash, a whistle lanyard...now, the whip I can't explain, but, he DID make it. He used to go to an old ship chandler's business in a musty old building down on South Palafox Street in Pensacola.
Often I went with him.
Old guy running it could have been the model for Dickens' "Ebenezer Scrooge", to my young mind.
All I've got left is this stuff...oh yeah, and memories. Memories of my dad, with a book on his lap, belaying pins and marlinspikes driving my mother crazy, as he tried to tie the knots in the books.
Musty, dusty old store.
Musty, dusty old memories. But, they've stood the test of time..
Dad died in 1981. Gone 36 years as I write this.
Miss him, but, still got the memories and the knots tying us together.
The harpoon head? Never knew why he bought the damn thing. Just liked it I guess.
That's how he was.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
The Dog Did Judo
I did, once.
I was driving on a country road, and one dog ran up behind a sitting dog, which did not seem to be aware of the other dog, and leaped. At the perfect moment, the sitting dog, spun and flipped the other dog through the air.
A canine sensei would have been proud of his pupil.
My son-in-law is trying judo...and regretting it, as I understand. Something about being thrown around like a rag doll, hitting the mats too hard, silly stuff like that.
Actually, he's at that point in life where he is finding out he's not a kid any more. The body does not respond, including healing, as fast as it used to.
Oh, I blame his instructor to some extent. A little more one-on-one and things might go better.
Things often go better with a little more one-on-one.
When someone does something to us, or for us, we tend to see it all in a "them" and "us" matrix. In judo, they try to get you to use the other's (Let's not say :opponent".) momentum against them, or to achieve your goal.
Of course, by the same token, I suppose you could use their momentum to assist them as well.
Takes about the same amount of energy, is less painful for everybody, and, can be implemented...one on one...at ANY time of life. Just thinking.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Nuns And Sex Education
I grew up reading, and attending Catholic schools, in Pensacola, Florida in a sexually repressed era.
I read from one end of the Pensacola Public Library to the other.
Read a few things that might have appalled my parents, and the nuns, had they known.
Well, maybe not.
For all their strict moral code, the nuns were pretty open about life and literature.
A nun once lifted up part of her habit and poked herself in her breast so that we would understand a line more fully in "The Highwayman". Another once told a class that a woman in lingerie was more attractive and sexually appealing than a naked woman.
Another got mad at a girl reading Macbeth because she was embarrassed to read Lady Macbeth's line, "Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums...", and, don't get me started on sex education with nuns!
Anyway, I did NOT start out to give a sex education class, and that's sort of the point.
From the nuns, I actually learned how to accept life, and sex, honestly, reviewing it openly, thinking and speaking frankly, and later, as a mature adult, about life, sex, death, love, in ways that may make some uncomfortable.
Part of that lesson was from nuns, part from life, and, part from all the mysteries, westerns, historical novels, and sci-fi stories I read so avidly and copiously.
I learned that there were different ways to look at things once you knew about them, but, that there were facts you had to face.
Friday, August 25, 2017
One Person's "Beautiful"
Now, I know, when it comes to art, music, even philosophy, etc., one person's beautiful is another person's blah. That shouldn't mean good or bad, right or wrong, just different.
I can't figure out who WOULDN'T love Clair de Lune, and there's people who can't figure out why I don't love heavy metal or grunge. I guess part of "beauty" in art, music, life, is that which can reach into us, touch us, make us feel that we are "new and improved", to steal from the advertising world.
Well, that is what Clair de Lune, or a Nocturne by Chopin can do for me. A note from a lover can do to anybody.
Interestingly, Bobby Bare's country western song, "Tequila Sheila", or Waylon Jennings', "Slow Moving Outlaw", can do it to me too, but, I wouldn't call either of them "beautiful".
Beauty. It's a tricky concept.
Each of us knows it when we see it, or encounter it, but we are never quite sure what it is. We will even fight over the MOST beautiful.
Example: Helen of Troy and the Trojan War.
I love beauty. I know beauty.
It would be beautiful to be able to offer you beauty. I just wish I knew what it was. What, Don? No conclusion?
Nope. Just some morning musings..
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Putting My Musings In Context
I tell a story I've heard, write about something from my own past, talk about what I was doing when the thought came to me, etc.
Then I rattle on, and, somewhere near the end, I try to get YOU to understand WHAT I was really thinking about, and WHY.
Two days ago, I got some coffee at a convenience store, recently built on a previously vacant lot, and a memory popped into my head; a song from 1970, I believe, "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell.
There's a couple of lines in it that seemed to fit my thoughts:
"Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got til it's gone."
I had just almost lost something very precious to me, without even really knowing or understanding what I had, or, what I was about to lose.
Don't get me wrong, I really knew and appreciated what I had, only I had never actually believed that I "had" it...if that makes sense.
Well, that song popped into my head, because I had almost lost something very valuable, and, as I thought more deeply about it, "overthink" it, I guess (which CAN be good), I understood the truth of the thought. We DON'T always appreciate people, relationships, yes, even things, until they are gone, or about to go.
Anybody who's ever held a yard sale, knows that. How much more important is someone you care about than some old lamp you've had for years?
People, relationships, are even more important. Don't wait until they are gone to realize what it is you have right now.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
I Get All Kinds Of Ideas
In fact, yesterday I wrote a poem from scratch. Needs a little clean up, but, essentially done. A few minutes ago, I wrote a poem to a friend in about seven minutes because I wanted to give her a special "thank you" for something she had done for me.
At almost any time, I have between five and ten other poems in various stages of "construction".
Part of the problem being that I don't JUST construct these thins...put this word there, rhyme this, rhythm that. I am, a lot of the time, writing words that my brain, and heart, tell ME will tell the story that they see, thinking, experiencing.
I'm not bragging, because I have no idea how or why I can do this. Don't have a hell of a lot of control over it, either.
All of this is to say that not every idea immediately becomes a poem or comment.
Example: Thursday, mina stanovich gave me an idea for a comment. My idea was immediate and complete. Unfortunately, I was with my grandkids at an appointment, so, I made a quick note and thanked her. Have the note right here "Esoteric Diatribe People Online Asking What Words Mean".
Next day, The thought, and note, were still there, but Tinkerbell would have been proud of the fairy dust it became.
I'll get it together sooner or later, Mina. Hang in there.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Life Has It's Ups And Downs
Sometimes these ups and downs are the result of something that happens to us, sometimes, they are the result of something we do to ourselves.
Sometimes we do it to ourselves because we don't understand what is happening to us.
Sometimes I interpret something good as something bad, or vice versa.
Doesn't matter the source or reality, however, the "downs" feel bad, the "ups" feel good.
We can experience crashing depression, or the most wonderful exhilaration simply based on perception or reality.
These ups and downs can even happen within the space of a few hours, or, even a few moments. One second can be all it takes to change your mood from the worst part of the ride to the other.
It's fun to be "scared" on a carnival ride...not so much in life.
But, ups and downs are a fact of life.
Knowing this, you can have some defense against the ups and downs. Doesn't mean they'll feel better or worse, but, knowing an "up" is coming can help you get through the "down". Even simply knowing that a "down" will end, sooner or later, may help too.
That knowledge can also help you enjoy the "up" part even better.
Look around. Check out the view. Squeeze your ride partner's hand...assuming it's someone you want to be with, and, who wants to be with you. Don't want you getting slapped in the middle of all that fun.
Maybe THEY want to squeeze YOUR hand...even share a kiss!
Wouldn't that be an "up"?
Monday, August 21, 2017
Some Messages never Get Old
However, some "news" does get old. Sometimes we get caught up in the immediacy of the moment, and, feeling we've just received an important piece of news, post it, email it, tell friends at work about it.
Not always bad, as even old news can be instructive. But, old news, presented as new news can be confusing or just plain inflammatory.
It's even worse when it's fake news in the first place.
Odds are, if it's fake news it was put out originally intending to make somebody mad...either the "enemy" or the "followers". Sometimes it's published, or re-published, to substantiate, or add validity to, a point of view.
I often come across "news" that is two or three years old.
Fortunately, social media is getting better at monitoring and editing these things, and, many of the stories come from people who have just learned that somebody famous died...they just didn't notice it happened three years ago!
I know most of us do NOT want to propagate misinformation. We get these pieces of news on the Internet...often from someone we would normally trust...but, they got the "news" off the internet.
Paradoxically, the Internet is where the real information probably is...sometimes hidden, but usually there. Just takes a moment or two to verify before passing on.
Like most things in life today, we cannot solve all the problems, but, we can contribute a bit less to them.
Just some thoughts.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Doing Stupid Things
Sooner or later, we all do stupid things.
We do something without thinking, blurt out words we wish we could recall, think only of ourselves and not those who care about us. We often wind up hurting not only those who hear those words, but, ourselves as well.
Sadly, while we can learn from the past we cannot correct, or change it.
Any hurt done, pain inflicted, moves forward into the future. It takes time to erase the memory of that, and, I think, most of us know that.
What we don't know is how long it will take, or how completely the parties involved, ourselves, and anyone we hurt, will be able to "forgive and forget".
The old lesson states: Hurt me once shame on you, hurt me twice, shame on me.
That's why we stay away from hot stoves...we, or someone we know, got burned, and are, naturally just a little bit afraid of them... or wary, at least.
Most of us get over that lesson, and some move on to be great cooks. Still, we never forget that time we got burned, especially if someone who should have cared about us somehow let it happen.
So, I guess, when interacting with people, especially people you value and care about, take extra special care of them, and pay attention to your words and actions, so that they can NOT fear you in the future, and will be happy to be there with you...where you want them to be.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
It's Not Easy Being Me...Or You
Well, that's my complaint too. I'm not green, but, it's not easy being ME either.
Wait! Let's look at that a bit more closely and modify that a tad.
It's not easy being YOU, ME, or anybody, sometimes. There always seems to be somebody who assumes us to be somebody else...somebody other than who we are, or want to be.
Waxing nostalgic, it used to be a bit simpler, in some respects.
The people down the road, in the same town or village, or, in the same country, had many of the same beliefs. There might be a few personality bumps, but, that grouchy old guy two houses down had essentially the same belief system as you, and your happy mom and dad, extended family, and the mayor...and so on.
These days, there's more differences...politics, religion, personal philosophy and lifestyle...it seems easier to offend...and BE OFFENDED.
I bet when most of us DO happen to offend people, we probably didn't mean to do so.
That's one way we're still alike. Usually, if someone offends YOU, they probably didn't mean to, either.
You want them to forgive you for your mistakes and accidental offenses. Sounds fair to do the same for them. Even when we're trying to understand each other, we must realize that it took a long time for each of us to become who we are.
Someone else isn't going to figure it out in a day.
Friday, August 18, 2017
I have acquired, and forgotten, various job skills.
I have learned all kinds of terms for "stuff" from abstruse and confusing, to absolutely senseless.
One thing in common about ALL these terms is: If you say them to somebody who doesn't know what THAT term means, you might as well be speaking a foreign language.
THAT also means that, if you use one of those terms to someone who does not understand it, someone who may be ten times smarter than you OR ME, and they don't react properly...they are not necessarily dumb. If we understand their confusion and take the time to explain what we actually meant, THEN, neither are we.
“If you wish to converse with me,” said Voltaire, “define your terms.”
Two people cannot begin to understand each other, or even honestly agree or disagree, if they do NOT understand what the other is saying. Yet, so many times I have seen someone training, or arguing with, someone, gloat over their supposed superiority because they used terms the other did not understand, or was not familiar with.
Someone who intentionally uses unknown, specialized, or esoteric terms to make another seem ignorant, is an ideal example of ignorance.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Something for Nothing? Not Likely.
Double negative. I know. Writer's privilege.
Anyway, many people expect stuff to just happen...fall in their laps. They don't understand how "getting stuff" works.
To GET something, you usually have to DO something.
Even winning the lottery usually requires getting up out of the chair, going to the store, and buying a ticket...or talking someone else into doing it for you.
Step one: DO something.
Step two: do something that CAN GET you something.
I admit that includes robbing banks, or, selling drugs, but, even there, there's effort involved.
Step three; if you don't know how to do something that will get you something, learn how to do something that will.
Go to college?
Ever wonder how much a plumber or a good diesel mechanic gets paid? Better than some "college" jobs, that's for sure, and, there's nothing wrong with working with your hands, and taking money for it from people who can't or won't.
You can put a kid through college on a plumber's pay or drive a fine car or own a fine house.
Any idea how many fast food franchise owners started out flipping burgers?
Me neither, but, I've met a few, and, almost every fast food manager did...and, yes, I was a Taco Bell, and a Dairy Queen manager for a while.
Once you've completed step three, you're ready for step two.
That's how many millionaires became millionaires. Next one could be you.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Oh! The Horror Of It All
My father lost an eye when he was a boy. I grew up not thinking that there was anything was odd about seeing his empty eye socket.
He had a fake eye, a glass eye, of course, but, had to clean his eye socket with a special towel.
Ever see somebody clean their eye socket?
Once, when my aunt, my mother's sister, known for her "fainting spells" visited, my Dad dropped his eye, and yelled, as you do when you drop something.
My aunt ran into the room.
He turned to look at her, and, she fainted.
He also had a huge gash down his leg, a souvenir from another childhood injury. It opened up fro time to time. When this happened, it suppurated (leaked pus) and, occasionally, the bone was visible.
Oddly, I was not allowed to see horror movies, probably for fear they would mess up my head somehow.
The first "horror" movie I ever saw was "The Tingler" (Vincent Price 1959). I was a theater usher, at the Saenger Theater in Pensacola, and saw it dozens of times until I was sick of it. (I saw Liberty Valence get shot a lot too.)
I also saw the trick they used to scare theater audiences watching "The Tingler"...which you cannot duplicate watching it on TV...unless you sneak up behind them and pop a paper bag at an intense moment.
By the end of that experience, I had concluded that "horror" movies were: Silly. Stupid. Ridiculous. Funny. Dumb.
Maybe I missed something as a result, but, I've never really missed missing it.
Monday, August 07, 2017
I Like A Simple Life
I like a simple life.
I don't have a lot of rules in my life, at least not a lot of ones I actually try to live by. I do try to follow laws and customs of wherever I find myself.
Most of the rules I DO try to live by are pretty simple.
Don't hurt people.
Keep your word.
Honor your promises.
Respect the beliefs of others.
Simple stuff, with, yes, room for modification if reality requires. I respect the beliefs of others, but, I kind of hope they respect mine.
One of these is, "My house, my rules."
I won't get angry if you don't like the way I do things in my house, but, I will if you give me a hard time about it...in my house. You're free to say whatever you want...in your house. We're both free to either try to work it out, or go home.
If I offend, and you're not sure if I intended to, then that's proof I did NOT intend to offend, mislead, or hurt. If I do intend to offend, you will know because, it will probably be private, unless you make it public, and I will make sure you understand.
"Mislead" or "hurt"?
Yeah, those are probably accidental.
I try to be honest about who and what I am, and, if something pops up that bothers you, it just wasn't covered yet. I would have told you if you had asked.
Sunday, August 06, 2017
I Can Be Negative
I can be pretty negative.
In fact, I'm positive I can be negative.
Two good things. I also am positive that I can be pretty positive, and, I don't think that being negative is always...well...a negative.
We sometimes negative people are the ones who ask, "Why?", and "How?" and "Why not?"
Oh, sure constant negativity can be a downer, man, but, I just cannot feel that constant positivity can be constantly a positively uplifting thing either.
At least I'm pretty positive about that. Look at old Yin and Yang, the circle of life, my checking account. Things grow and prosper, but, sometimes because they are eating something else. If somebody wins, it's possible that somebody else lost...or, at least...didn't win...which is kind of like losing...if you're going to be negative about it.
Anyway, I guess what I'm positively trying to get at, is that we can't all have good stuff all the time....at least not in this segment of the space-time continuum we currently occupy.
That's a negative. Here's a positive: Maybe someday, if we keep working at it, we will get closer to that world, even if it's not in our lifetime.
Now, I'm not sure if that ended on a positive or negative note.