Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rocks

I really like rocks.
They’re one of my favorite things.
They might even be my very favorite thing on earth.
It’s hard to explain why that is, it’s difficult for me to understand even. Something about them having been here for a long time, I think.
You don’t ever find a new rock. I don’t even know if there’s any such thing as a new rock. It seems like there’s new everything else, but rocks are always old.

New things don’t excite me that much anyway, but rocks do.
Rocks were not planned, designed, made, manufactured, or crafted.
They’ve just kind of always been here, in one form or another.
Some of them fell out of the sky, and some of them shot up out of the earth. Some of them even formed themselves right where they lay, out of minerals, stardust, and other such properties; but none of them were ever created by some clever marketer. They were not patented, and they are not advertised on late-night television. I like that about them too.

You look up ‘rock’ in the dictionary and it just says stuff about music and describes swaying back and forth in a chair, and stuff like that.

There are hard rocks, I think everybody knows that. There’s even a Hard Rock Café. But there are soft rocks as well. I’ll bet not nearly as many people know that. ‘Soft rock’ is kind of a contradiction of terms, but it is not a contradiction to a rock.

I used to bring a rock home whenever I went on a hike, or to a lake or river, to remind me of the beautiful place I’d been. Kind of like how some people buy a snow globe in every city, or country, they visit. Or some other kind of kitsch. But I eventually realized that I could never remember which rock was gathered from which place. And I never thought to date and label the rocks with a sharpie, so I stopped gathering them for that purpose. Besides, writing on a rock tends to invalidate its very character. Oh, I still gather them, but I no longer worry about where they came from.

I collect rocks on, and from around, my property, in the mountains, by the side of roads, and near rugged creeks and rivers. I know some environmentalists would have a fit over that, but the way I look at it is that those rocks were somewhere else before they were where I found them. And they’ll be somewhere else again. I’m a part of the natural cycle, and the natural re-cycle of nature, and nature tends to move things around a bit. I don’t steal from nature, I just relocate bits and pieces of it. You could say I do some landscaping, some design work, if you will.

On my own property I’ve found some giant boulders in the forest and dragged them with truck and chain up to the house because I like to look at them there. Some weigh hundreds, and even thousands of pounds. I like to walk out into my yard and see a two-ton rock that I moved by myself. It gives me great satisfaction, and it adds a pleasurable ambience to the area around the house.

I like to pick up rocks, all sizes of rock, really. I like to move them from here to there. I always have. I like to pick them up off the ground and put them into the truck, and I like to pull them out of the truck and put them back on the ground in a different place. I like the way rocks feel, and I like how they make me feel when I interact with them. I like to hold them, I like to throw them, sit on them, lean up against them, and even roll them down hills. I like to pry rocks loose from the earth. I like to climb rocks, and I like to build a campfire up against a big granite rock wall at night in the wilderness. Don’t ask me why. I couldn’t really tell you. It’s just that rocks tend to make everything right with my world.
It’s an ancient presence.

I also like to make things out of rocks. Fire pits, yard borders, sculptures, garden areas. I’ve always wanted to build a rock house by a river, and planned to collect all the rocks from the river as I built it. I probably won’t be doing that now because I’m getting pretty old, but I want to.
I’m sure I’ll always want to.

With the arrival of the Christmas season I often find myself thinking about the Rock of Ages. I even catch myself singing the old song sometimes.

Rock on.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Brass Ring

Whenever I have something to say about the younger generations I know that I can immediately be labeled as an old guy who either doesn’t know anything about the younger generations, or who might know something about them but doesn’t really get it.

Well, one of the reasons I embrace the moniker of The Old Coyote is to just get that out of the way right up front. Not only am I old, but I’m also getting older every day. If that disqualifies me from valid observation of life, so be it. I happen to know, however, that I know a little more about life than those coming up behind me, as they will know a little more than those coming up behind them.
But if you really believe that age should disqualify my observation, you must then also disqualify my experience. And in that case you should disqualify your own as well, and not bother reading anything else I have to say.

And here is what I have to say today.
“The brass ring cannot be attained.”

No matter how many times one goes around the carousel of life, no matter how many different animals one may ride, no matter how many reinventions of one’s self, a person cannot, as a life goal, seek the brass ring and hope to find happiness, fulfillment, contentment, honor, dignity, or love.

It is never to be found on the carousel. It is anathema to the very concept. The carousel holds two illusions. The first is that if you grab the brass ring you’ll be happy. And the second is that if you missed the ring on the last pass, you’ll get it the next time around.
The ring is a promise, but it is a promise broken, invalidated if you will, even before it’s given. The wise among us know that intuitively, and the fortunate among us have been taught, and embrace, the truth of its lie.

Life is not a party, as many in today’s world seek for it to be. Life is a serious endeavor, punctuated with degrees of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. Those whose primary motivation in life is to party, to have wealth, stuff, recognition, prestige, celebrity, position, or power, will wake up to an empty life, a life bereft of everything that matters. The sad part about it is that they will not realize its full emptiness until later in life. It is the modern day equivalent of ‘keeping up with the Joneses', and it plays itself out today just as it always has.

As many young people find themselves always ‘needing’ the newest ‘this’, the latest ‘that’, the next ‘must have’, they also find themselves needing another drink, another toke, another hook-up, another party to satisfy the emptiness, to be OK with themselves. Every person of substance knows that those things, those endeavors, and those behaviors, don’t satisfy, but rather, just numb the senses, subjugate the pain, and prolong the inevitable.

I do not write these things to judge, or to condemn, young people. I was young once. But I am not here to be their friend either. I am here to show the way. I express what I know because I care deeply about them, as individuals, and as collective generations. I care about their long-term wellbeing, much more so than with their temporal gratification. I want them to wake up down the road and be satisfied that they have made wise, and responsible choices, that their actions, when young, will serve to enhance their overall lives, rather than to inhibit them.

True value in life is in a commitment to what you have, and to what is within reasonable reach of your means, rather than in a compulsive drive to acquire whatever you can get. It is true of relationships with people, as well as lifestyle. Value is in embracing love, and family, finding deeply satisfying work, and an appreciation of the divine, the God around whom all life actually revolves. Honor, respect, dignity, fulfillment, contentment, and, hopefully, even happiness, will follow. Happiness is not guaranteed to anybody, but seeking the brass ring only ensures that it will never be attained.

Do not believe the happiness images that celebrities, rock stars, socialites, and their publicists, attach to their lives. They have the wealth, the mansions, the adulation, beautiful people on their arms, sex at their command, enormous fame and notoriety; and they are, for the most part, pretty lonely, ambiguous, and unhappy people.

The party only lasts until closing time, and then the lights just dim again. They always do. They always will. Unconscious people tend to repeat the same familiar patterns, thinking there is satisfaction to be found. Don’t be unconscious, and don’t be fool enough to just repeat your own futile patterns.
Be smart, and be true to truth.

Our time on earth is short, and much too valuable to live with a shallow and cavalier ambition. Life is the greatest treasure one can be given, and it has already been given in abundance to each of us. It could never have been acquired on our own. It is not a brass ring. It just does not work that way. Take seriously what you do with the gift of your life.

The brass ring is slippery, and all but impossible to hold.
Believe me, it is not even worth the ride.


If you know somebody chasing the brass ring, and you want to help, please forward this to them.

And have a meaningful holiday this year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Walked Into The Past

I walked on the beach this morning, the same beach I walked on when I was a teen-ager. It all felt familiar, like nothing had really changed. And, in fact, nothing had changed.

Now, forty-five years later, the tide still ebbed and flowed. The waves still rolled towards shore and tumbled into whitewater like they always have. Seaweed floated on the surface of the sea, some of it standing vertical, not too far offshore. Pelicans patrolled an emerging sky just outside my reach, or within it had I just had arms a little longer, and dolphins lazed about playfully in the glassy calm ocean like children frolicking on grass.

People looked the same as well; mothers with babies, the surfers, the beachcombers, fishermen, and the beach patrol. The moms and dads, they were there, with two kids, racing the water to deeper sand in a futile attempt to keep their feet from getting wet. Everything was as it had been, and how it will be in the foreseeable future.

I walked the length of the pier, as I used to do, bought a corn dog at the bait and tackle shop, about a quarter mile out to sea, then sat and watched young lovers stealing time from their hurried, and harried, lives, time they finally found to set aside just for themselves.

Clouds drifted by overhead, slowly, reflecting the pace of the people on the pier.
I drifted in and out of reminiscence, present at times, conscious, and at others just barely touching the fringes of life in the now.

I walked into the past this morning. It all felt familiar, like nothing had really changed. And, in fact, nothing had changed, except myself.
And the cost of a corn dog.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sometimes I See Pictures

The park was covered with glass, and the children’s playground was dangerous. Tiny feet, bare in the summer warmth of days, hobbled like old men, flesh torn with fresh and numerous wounds, the jugular heel drained of its own purpose. Tender feet bouncing from here to there on sand bleeding from within, clumping like the bitter winds of winter.

And the land mines scattered about, the banned mines still ready to detonate between the toes of those innocents, between the souls of their feet and the soles of their shoes, those children from homes just down the road, who came to play with friends, without concern for the grownups, or the growing machinations and power grabs of ominous men who insinuate themselves into wonderland, the wicked men who separate these kids from their own dreams.

Sharp knives, waiting by the dribbling creek, lying in wait, really, glinting in the noonday sun, with every sinister purpose, camouflaged well behind twisted smiles of feigned propriety, content in their intent to slash the sky, to rip the soul asunder, and from under the feet of the innocent.
The illusion of decency in a world gone mad.

It seems there’s very little for the children to look forward to these days.
Sometimes I just see pictures and have to write them down.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Beacon In The Night

The wind is blowing like a freight train howling down the mountain.
The trees are bent like personalities of the deranged.
The sound and the fury encompass all but the quiet space beneath my blanket.
The ferocity akin to the hatred the wicked hold in cold hearts for the righteous.
Limbs torn from trees like arms from their sockets.
Pebbles blazing trails across the sky like a million tiny meteorites on acid.
Patio furniture upended like the best laid plans of the shrinking middle class.
Spanish tiles clinging precariously to the roof as if desperately afraid to fall.
Windows rattling like the bones of young soldiers preparing for battle.
Lights extinguishing themselves as the power goes down.
Moon rising over the bedlam like a beacon in the night.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh My God!

“Oh my God!” is by far the most used, and obviously overused, exclamation ever spoken in the history of our planet, or at least in the U.S.
How do I know this? Because it is spoken by almost everybody, of every age, and in almost any given situation. You say it, I say it, we all say it, although you may not even realize it about yourself.

What’s interesting to me is that the expression is used by Atheists who profess there to be no God. It is proclaimed by agnostics as well, which ought to, at the very least, suitably answer their own dilemma for them.

With God on the lips of almost everybody alive, I can only presume that God must also be on the minds of those same people, whether consciously or unconsciously. I think it’s safe to say that we do not usually speak of what we do not first think of.

I do not find it at all ironic that the exclamation has been building to a crescendo at about the same rate that the world has been going mad; socially, economically, politically, spiritually, and even geographically with the bizarre weather upheavals.

I went to Catholic school as a child, first through ninth grade. Today I do not practice, nor do I espouse, any religion. Those of you who know me, or who have read my writings over time, understand that about me. For the most part I do not remember Catholic school fondly, but, fortunately, there are some good things left over from the education that I appreciate, and that will always remain with me. One example is the prayer with which I first became aware of the expression, ‘Oh My God’.

As I still remember it after all these years:

“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of thy just punishments, but most of all because they have offended Thee, my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
Amen.”

Life changing, to be sure.
Feel free to use it if you’d like.
Nobody even needs to know.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Veteran

-You wore a uniform for me while I complained about my job.

-You saluted your commander while I argued with my boss.

-You marched in line for me while I got high at the festivals and clubs.

-You learned to be a warrior so I wouldn’t have to fight.

-You embraced a grueling boot camp while I enjoyed the beaches.

-You froze at night on the battlefield while I soaked myself in a nice warm tub.

-You ate MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) in the field while I barbecued chicken in my own back yard.

-You stood in front of me while bullets were flying.

-You put yourself at risk while I cowered behind my ideology.

-You bled on the ground for me while I spilled red wine on the dining room floor.

-You watched your friends get killed while I watched movies about them getting killed.

-You were afraid for me while I hid my own fear behind intellectual arrogance.

-You were scared in battle while I was just scared of being alone.

-You were psychologically scarred by war while I was scarred by self-indulgence.

-You were wounded for me while I was only wounded in love.

-You wrote letters to the loved-ones of your fallen friends while I wrote Christmas cards to family.

-You sacrificed your future for me while I sacrificed nothing in return.

-You left your family so I could be with mine.

-You died for me and I have never shed a tear.


I will not forget you now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Death

Since my fathers passing I’ve been thinking about death, more so than usual.
What it is, and why it might exist.
Many personal feelings have been percolating within me,
some of which I may choose to share with you in the future.
In the meantime, here are some of my more general thoughts on death,
in no particular order of significance.

Death is the ultimate pain medication.
Death is the best way of getting away from it all.
Death is a man’s way of scouting out the hereafter for everybody else.
Death is a way of finally moving past the inevitable.
Death is a cancellation of the reality show.
Death is a way of circumventing the high cost of health insurance.
Death is what finally puts everything in the past.
Death is the elimination of anticipation.
Death is the end of everybody’s expectations.
Death is winter after the fall.
Death is a pretty good indicator of having been alive.
Death is a certain eventuality.
Death is the end of things to come.
Death is proof that no person is more important than anybody else.
Death is the ultimate reward.
Death is separation from uncertainty.
Death is a reboot.
Death is the cold embrace of a total stranger.
Death is the warm embrace of love.
Death is an as-of-yet unknown equation.
Death is the sum of our fears.
Death is the brass ring finally in hand.
Death is staying down for the count.
Death is freedom from anxiety.
Death is never having to justify one’s self again.
Death ‘is just another word for nothing left to do’.
Death is a means to an end.
Death is an end with meaning.
Death is the last word in the big disagreement.
Death is our birthright.
Death is our first conscious impression.
Death is our last unconscious act.
Death is our final expression.
Death is our first authentic glimpse of life.
Death is the last chip left in the bag.
Death is a test of our spiritual equilibrium.
Death is the end of the pretending.
Death is a return to innocence.
Death is the elimination of disorientation.
Death is escape from procrastination.
Death is the sum total of all things left unsaid.
Death is where the rubber leaves the road.
Death is where the trail meets the great unknown.
Death is where the wilderness ends.
Death is potential left untapped.
Death is life exhausted.
Death is a promise kept.
Death is separation from the herd.
Death is the culmination of one’s aspirations.
Death is truth in advertising.
Death is the redistribution of life.
Death is everybody’s right, but few people’s wish.
Death is the ultimate happenstance.
Death is a matter of fact.
Death is the loss of everything but regret.
Death is a final apology, or a last denial.
Death is a tired mans last request.
Death is an ageing soul’s relief.
Death is redemption from the judgment of life.
Death is a frightful proposition.
Death is a beautiful thing.
Death is the sudden disappearance of someone we love.
Death is the illumination of their impact on our life.
Death is the opportunity for a good do-over.
Death is a new opportunity.
Death is going it alone.
Death is life personified.
Death is a good rest in peace.
Death is a resurrection of the will to live.
Death is natures way of making room in the world for someone else.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In A Couple Of Hours

In a couple of hours my family and I will be discontinuing the life support system that is currently keeping my father alive.

He is eighty-six years old, and has been in ICU in a worsening physical condition without hope of recovery.
I’ve been actively wondering what in life has prepared me for participation
in such a monumental decision, or for the expected emotional aftermath of its finality.

And I arrive at the conclusion that, in fact, my father has prepared me for it.
I don’t yet know how, or even if, any such preparation was deliberate on his part,
or just a byproduct of his general influence on my life.

I only know that I derive great strength from my father. Not necessarily because of his own strengths, or even his weaknesses, not necessarily from his triumphs, or his failures, but from the idea that he has survived until now.

Life has thrown a lot of junk at my father, as it has done to many of us, but his being here this far down the road, requiring my participation in his passing, my permission to leave, if you will, has somehow enabled me to survive as well.

My father never complained about the past years he’s spent being physically compromised. He focused, rather, on being as little of a burden on my mother as possible.

I walked alone to get coffee early this morning. Thinking of my father, I fingered his watch, newly strapped on my left wrist, my face wet with tears too long held for him, and I felt the overwhelming privilege of being able to relieve him of his burden in just a couple of short hours from now.

My father will be free.
And he will be with my older brother, Mike.
I know he’s missed my brother.

I’ll survive as long as I can for my sons,
knowing they will one day be prepared to relieve me
of my own burden.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What He Said About Hate

I heard songwriter John McCrea, of the band ‘Cake’, being interviewed recently. I’d heard of the band before, but was not really familiar with their music, and had never known the songwriter. Anyway, it’s not John’s name, or even the band, that’s relevant here, but what he had to say about hate in the interview.

Referring to his songs, and his writing, the host said to him, “There seems to be a lot of fun, a lot of playfulness in your songs.” To which John responded, “No, not really. It’s actually hate masquerading as playfulness.”

He went on to say something to the effect of, “With all the enmity and divisiveness in the world today, with all the acidity and toxicity, I don’t want to add to it by repeated overt expressions of anger.” “That”, he suggested, “wouldn’t do anybody any good.” He also said that he’s got to be able to express his rage, and chooses to express it playfully. In other words, he uses a lot of sarcasm, humor, and bizarre and unusual images in his songwriting, rather than directly attacking the object of his scorn.

Personally, I think Mr. McCrea was stretching his own truth a little bit by saying that his songs contain a lot of hate masquerading as playfulness. I think it’s more powerlessness, and frustration, than hate, that he’s expressing. He just did not strike me as a hateful guy. Quite the contrary, really, he impressed me as a thoughtful and intelligent man.

But on the subject of hate, he said that, “Hate begins with a wide arc, and over time the arc shrinks down on its way back to oneself.” He implied we might start out hating some figurehead, like the president, but then go on to hate the ideological politicians who support him, and even the constituents who put him in power. From there we might hate the celebrities that share the same ideology. Well, the arc keeps shrinking, getting more personal, and closer to home, until we hate our boss, the acquaintances with whom we might have a disagreement, our uncle, brother, and ultimately ourselves. He reiterated how hate begins a long way from home, but as it works its way back-around to us it, invariably, gives birth to self-hate, self-loathing if you will. Self-loathing will then choke the individual like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its hapless victim.

Well, from what I heard from him I liked Mr. McCrea, more as a person, though, than as a songwriter. But, I’ve got to say I disagree with his assessment of the origins of hate. It all sounded good when he was saying it, and, I must admit, it made me sit up and think, but I believe he really has got the whole damn thing backwards. I don’t fault him for that, however, because it seems to me to be emblematic of having grown up in a very conflicted culture.

I believe that hate, on a broader scale, actually begins with self-hate, self-loathing, rather than just culminating in it. Oh it ends up there as well, but I think our actions and behaviors, even from a relatively early age, if left unaccounted for, unresolved, un-atoned for, unchanged, build up within us to produce self-hatred. As vulnerable human beings, I think it begins choking the breath from us from the very beginning of our conscious accountability. The age, however, of that consciousness, and accountability, comes at a different time in every individual life. The important thing is that it has, most certainly, been choking us for a long time, and if left unacknowledged, it will end up reducing us to pathetic irrelevance.

Hate makes the jump from self to the far reaches of our field of vision, and experience, to those we know of, but whom we don’t actually really know. We kind of practice our hate out there where it’s safe. Those people are really just irrelevant substitutes for the people who really bother us, the ones we know, and who know us, the best.
Eventually, like John McCrea said, it all works its way back to the origin of the hate, which, again, is one’s self. It’s just that, unlike John, like I’ve already said, I believe it begins there as well.

On a related note: “You’re a hater” gets thrown around today like rocks at the windows of a vacant house on a deserted street. And to make matters worse, those rocks get thrown by adults with the same emotional acumen as the kids bent on emulating them. Pointing the hate finger is just the modern-day, but classic, denial of one’s own self-hatred. Any fool can see that about these accusers who are bereft of both common sense, and the ability for self-analysis.
I’m not fooled by the accusations these people make.
I hope you won’t be either.

I write sometimes about politicians, celebrities, psychic thugs, pseudo spiritual gurus, and narcissistic cultural leaders who believe, somehow, that they’re all that. And I write about them in often unflattering terms. But, as those of you who know me understand, I do not hate them. I could not hate them, they’re much too transparent to hate. I hate the impact, and the influence, that they, without conscience, or personal consequence, far too often visit upon our culture, on the people who I care very much about; particularly the young, the naive and the impressionable.

But I do hate narcissism in all of its guises, and disguises. I hate dishonesty, and I hate greed. I do not hate the people who embody those qualities, I pity them, and I wish personal redemption for each of them.

Oh, and what about myself?
Well, in case you’re wondering, “No, I do not hate myself.”
I take account of, atone for, and change behaviors of mine that conflict with love.

Generally speaking, I love, and I am loved.
There is no room in love for self-hatred.
Love will not allow it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chaz, Dancing With The Starz

I want to say that I don’t know Chaz Bono, and I’ve never really watched Dancing With The Starz.

Now, like many people, I’ve seen a few minutes of the show here and there while channel surfing, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than two or three minutes of it at one sitting. I’m just really not interested in celebrities, other than for the influence, or impact, they might have on our culture. If I’m going to watch dancing I’d honestly rather watch people that I know nothing about. I find them to be far more interesting than the cultivated images of celebrities who are constantly being force-fed to us like fruitcake during the holiday season.

Chaz Bono, however, is different. She’s not really a celebrity, she’s an enigma.

I know she’ll be a contestant on Dancing With The Starz because I’ve inadvertently kept up on the guest list for the show. I’ve never intended to, but it’s almost impossible not to, short of never watching television, or turning on a computer.

Having said that, I want to offer my impression of Chaz being recruited as a dancer. As you probably know, Chaz is the daughter of the famous hippy pop duo, Sonny and Cher, and she’s recently undergone gender reassignment surgery (sex change) in order to begin identifying as a man, rather than as a woman.

In any event, there is always an agenda connected to the producer’s choices of who will be invited to dance on the show. And, although that agenda might look political, and many people believe that it is, I’m here to say that it is not. It is always financial. Every guest decision is based solely on the probability of getting ratings, on how many viewers a ‘celebrity’ is likely to bring to the show, on how much money can be made from their appearance. In the case of Chaz Bono, sHe has been heavy in the media recently for her transformation, so there’s a lot of curiosity about her. Why not invite her, why not exploit her new condition; why not make some money off of, what has been, her personal tragedy.

I’ve been reading some opinion pieces, along with some reader responses to the whole controversy. Needless to say, there is some pretty heated expression about her addition to the cast, and that, ultimately, is what has drawn my interest. The different perspectives, the different points of view, the different ideologies connected to the approval, or disapproval of her inclusion.

As you can imagine, people’s opinions run the gamut from considering Chaz to be disgraceful, a failed human being, to her being a champion of individuality, and her inclusion being a brave and compassionate gesture by the producers of DWTS on behalf of the transgender ‘community’. I might add that I have yet to read a comment about the exploitive nature of the producer’s decision.

Anyway, the problem I have with the whole situation is that it is bound to be clothed in a celebration of Chaz’s courageous re-emergence, her self-discovery, if you will, even though she was chosen for ratings, and only for ratings. I don’t know if she can dance or not, and I don’t think it really matters. People will watch in record numbers just to see how a woman dances as a man.

Maybe for Chaz it is a courageous re-emergence. Maybe the whole gender reassignment surgery is a bold statement of re-emergence, a separation from her lifelong problems (her parents), the problems that have clung to her like leaches since early childhood. But it is not a celebration of self-discovery by any means. Chaz has not discovered self, she has just created a new persona, an identity she can hide behind to protect her from her lingering pain.

Life cannot have been easy for Chaz. With just the little I know of her life, it is a life that few of us would have survived intact. It is a life we would neither have asked for, or willingly embraced. But it was imposed upon her, and she had to live with it. If you think differently, go to Wikipedia and read about the phenomena that was Sonny and Cher. Then read about the troubled life of Chaz Bono. The bio’s don’t necessarily make her life out to be troubled, but it certainly doesn’t take a genius to be able to read between the lines.

For God’s sake, her parents named their baby girl ‘Chastity’. What did they think was going to happen to that precious little girl?
In the big picture, Chaz is not so much an icon of individuality, as she is an example of a child exploited, of a life gone tragically wrong, and of a confused and wounded woman ultimately doing the best she can to feel better about herself.

What saddens me is that Chastity never got the chance to have a grounded and well-balanced life. Her parents never gave her that. She had to become Chaz in hopes of finding happiness.
And now it will all play itself out before our curious eyes on Dancing With The Starz. The network, to be sure, will make a boatload of money from her pain.

So I’m just saying, everybody, especially those of you who wish to condemn her for her choices, “Give Chaz Bono some empathy, the kind you might like for yourself if you were in her shoes. And give her long-troubled soul a break.

She’s still Chastity beneath it all.
And I hope that someday she will end up
truly dancing with the stars.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Feeling Thoughtful

Feeling vs. thinking in today’s world.
I’m feeling thoughtful today, so I thought I’d give you my thoughts on both.

I know that the thoughts I am about to write constitute a convoluted, thorny, and entangled topic, but, oh well.
Notice I said the ‘thoughts’ I am about to write, rather than the ‘feelings’ I am about to express.

First let me say, “A significant percentage of any population is psychologically damaged in some way or another.”
That’s right.

I don’t have any numbers in front of me because they’d be impossible to quantify, but there are an inordinate number of people who’s thinking is unduly influenced by the damage they have incurred in their lives; damage that can go all the way back to childhood, or which could have occurred much more recently.
By ‘unduly influenced’ I mean inhibited, restricted, stunted, compromised, and subjugated to one’s own feelings. That’s right, subjugated to one’s feelings.
What we are subject to we are dominated by, whether we are able to see it for ourselves or not. Unless the damage is acknowledged, and dealt with responsibly, it will continue to enable our feelings and repress our ability to reason.

The restricted development of one’s intellectual capacity enables the further cultivation of, and reliance upon, feelings above everything else. How one feels becomes the primary motivation in one’s life, determining relationships, social constructs, careers, spiritual paths, and even one’s politics.

Damage to one’s soul, or psyche almost always affects one’s emotional well being, invariably stunting the intellectual growth of the individual. When the emotional quotient of a person rises to a level of dominance over thoughtfulness the person can very easily become stuck in his, or her, pain (feelings). It can lead them on a lasting search for ways to feel better, to feel good, and often ends up with the individual embracing an extremely skewed relationship with reality. It becomes an ‘us’ (the wounded) vs. ‘them’ (the dominant) world. The individual will see things in black and white (good vs. bad, the privileged vs. the disadvantaged, the sensitive vs. the uncaring. Everyone in jail is innocent, rich people are evil, poor people are righteous, minorities are special). These convoluted feelings solidify themselves as enlightened thinking, and ultimately become the adopted politics of the wounded.

Feelings are good to have. They are what keep us from becoming cardboard cutouts of actual human beings. But the ability to think for ourselves, and to reason, is what allows us to navigate our way into, and through, beneficial situations; and away from, or out of, circumstances, belief systems, and ideologies, that would set us back or do us harm.

Many people are locked into the feeling that what they do feel is the most accurate indicator of how things actually are. But that application of feelings invariably trumps logic and reason for the individual much like suicide trumps the continuation of life. Being locked into one’s feelings is the life equivalent of being stuck in the mud. Eventually one has to think and reason their way out of the swamp. Feelings will only keep a person stuck there (It’s not fair that I’m stuck in the mud).

The cause of psychic damage, which ultimately provokes people to embrace their feelings over a more general thoughtfulness, is as varied as the kind of weeds you’d find growing in an old vacant lot. It can include such circumstances as an abusive, or domineering, parent, divorce, an immoral, or exploitive teacher or caregiver, and drug or alcohol abuse. It can take shape in someone who has been the recipient of violence, unforeseen tragedy, lack of control over circumstances, religious indoctrination, poverty, and, yes, even privilege. The change-over from thinking to feeling most naturally occurs in, or around, adolescence, as young people experience rejection, isolation, alienation etc., but it can find its way into the DNA of just about anybody, at any age, who ultimately chooses to regard their feelings as more important than someone else’s capacity for reason.

Ironically, young people fall back on feelings just as they’ve begun to become more adept at deductive reasoning. Feelings charge in and take over like a bad disease. Adolescents have already learned that the world is a pretty scary place, that it is a major challenge to navigate, and that it requires some knowledge and experience to establish, embrace, strengthen, or maintain, one’s own position on any given matter.

But feelings, well, they require no proof, no tangible experience, no conclusive arguments, and no logic whatsoever. Feelings can be used as weapons to disarm an adversary, as barricades to hide behind, and as substitutes for actual wisdom in almost any situation. They can give the holder a sense of power and control. Feelings cannot be questioned, they cannot be challenged, and they cannot be denied. Logic cannot do battle against them, and reason cannot root itself in their shallow soil.

It is understandable for the young to become feelings oriented. And it is even understandable for them to get stuck there for a while. It is, however, disconcerting, when one grows into adulthood but still maintains a feelings-based orientation. By then it has become seriously inhibitive to the persons development. As it becomes more culturally acceptable to hang onto such an orientation, society eventually becomes as dysfunctional as the individual adolescent.
Just look around.

It is dangerous for one’s politics to emerge from such an immature foundation. It is dangerous, and it is lazy. It is certainly not logic and reason that prompts many of us to elect our representatives in Congress, and in the White House. It is feelings. The savvy political manipulator’s know that (Change we can believe in).
Unfortunately, thinking is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
As I’ve said, “Just look around”.

Feelings are not something to take pride in, to trumpet, to celebrate, to hold as conclusive, to wallow in, or to foist upon anybody else.
They are, however sadly, a very safe place for the stunted, for the compromised, and for the immature to reside until they can find their way out of such profound, and prolonged, subjugation.

For the mature adult, feelings are something to be managed with skill, and with every good intention.
They are never to be scattered like rice at a wedding.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The 19th of July

I was born on this day a very long time ago. But I’m not the only one. There were many born on this day that you may have heard of, and many more that you probably have not. I don’t remember much about being born, only that I was late, that I didn’t want to leave the womb, and that, ultimately, I was extracted. Well, I don’t really even remember that, it’s just what I’ve been told.

I do remember, however, what life’s been like since the day of my birth. Probably a lot like yours. Some ups and downs. Some joy and sorrow. Some laughter and some tears. Some thrills and some bitter disappointments. Throw in all the other cliché’s on the list and I’m certain you’ll recognize my life as your own. Maybe all that’s different is that you were born on a different day than I was. The rest could be quite interchangeable.

We’ve all faced challenges. We’ve passed some of them, and failed miserably at others. We’ve recovered from defeat, and risen up on our feet again only to be knocked back down. We’ve stood again on wobbly legs, and fallen over on our faces. Sometimes somebody has helped us up, and sometimes we’ve had to summon the strength, and the courage, on our own. In any event, as we all know by now, life happens to us while we’re living.

Each of us has turned left when we should’ve gone right, gone forward when we should’ve turned back, retreated when we should’ve advanced, looked down when we should’ve looked up, stood our ground when we should’ve been moving, or given up when we should’ve stood our ground.

Each of us has taken when we should’ve given, been angry when we should’ve been gracious, been jealous when we should’ve been glad. Every one of us has been vocal when we should’ve been quiet, and silent when we should’ve had something to say.

Every one of us would take back something we’ve done, or said, something that hurt somebody, or that we’ve been embarrassed or humiliated by. Each of us has been ashamed of our shortcomings, and proud of our accomplishments, even if we are the only one’s to know of them. We each share birth, and life, with only the day being different.

When I think about being born on the 19th of July, a very long time ago, I also realize that I have been born anew every day since then, given repeated opportunity for divine alignment, given fresh breath to breathe, given time to get things right.

Given more, even, than I would have ever asked for.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Buffalo

(An excerpt from my novel, "Wilderness").

We’d intended to have breakfast in bed, and spend a lazy morning lying around in the crisp morning air while San Francisco slowly woke up around us. We’d planned on enjoying the breaking of dawn together, and the swelling warmth of the sun as it rose over the rooftops of the neighborhoods off to the east. It had shaped up to be a brilliant beginning to a Saturday, and because the Richmond district is considerably elevated from the downtown area of San Francisco, from my rooftop we could see all the way across the Bay to the Berkeley Hills.

Since we already had a good start on the day, Marty and I decided to go see the buffalo over on the west end of Golden Gate Park, and then take a leisurely walk out to Ocean Beach, and the Lands End trails from there. We threw Wag in the Jeep, jumped in behind him, and hit the still quiet streets of San Francisco. Because hardly anybody else was even out of bed yet, we felt like bandits in the process of stealing the best part of everybody else’s day. We stopped in at Royal Grounds on Geary Blvd. at 17th for orange juice and bagels, then just a couple of minutes later pulled quietly off the road near the buffalo enclosure in the Park.

Marty had never been out there before, but it had been a regular destination for me for several years. I’d always go in the early morning, although every once in a while I’d stop by in the late evening. I’d usually ride my bike, or run, if I felt particularly energetic. It always helped me work out accumulated stress, and I really enjoyed the personal interaction with these magnificent creatures. There was never anyone else around. In all the time that I’d been visiting the buffalo I might have encountered other people fewer times than I could count on the proverbial fingers of one hand. It was the best-kept secret in all of San Francisco, and I felt good to share it with Marty.

She was breathless as we walked up to the pasture, and as the buffalo began calmly migrating over towards us she whispered to me that she hoped she doesn’t wet her pants. She was beside herself with awe, and a not-too-well-concealed excitement. I pointed Napoleon out to her. He was the smallest male, but had the biggest self-identity. Ego, if you will. In his mind he was Sasquatch, he was Moses on the Mountain, he was the Sun God, he was Geronimo, and Chief Joseph too.
I never knew his real name. Might even be Napoleon, for all I know.

Silent half-snorts of warm breath in the cool morning air made the scene more a surreal painting than a private gathering of man and beast. These were creatures that looked you in the eye when communicating with you, unlike many of the two-legged variety I encounter throughout the regular course of my usual day. There is an ancient wisdom actually visible, a soul behind the eyes that is unmistakable in these animals. There is also a sadness, and an expectation of understanding that few other creatures would have of you.

We extended our hands through the fence. A couple of them licked Marty’s fingers, and she said she wished she could hug them. She said they possess such incredible warmth, and such accessibility for being such magnificent animals, and that she really had no idea they were so enormous. We interacted physically with them as best we could, then became quiet, both of us, transfixed really, as we spent another half hour just looking, just speaking with them silently, as one would commune with oneself, or with an angel of God, on top of a very sacred mountain.

We left feeling different, as I always have after time in the company of the buffalo.
Marty said she understood why I’ve always come here.
She said she’d like to come back with me again, as soon as we possibly could.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Window

I like the way that in the morning, when the light’s just right, I can look through my window and see a deep reflection of what’s behind me. Oh, I can see what’s in front of me through the window as well; the outside, the forest, the meadow, the sky, the sunrise, but the window holds another dimension that allows me to see what’s behind me in the house. I see what’s in back of me, but I see it in front of me, if you can picture that. It’s deep in the foreground of the glass. It’s different than standing in front of a mirror. In the mirror, I see myself, and what’s behind me, but I cannot see what’s in front of me. The mirror is in the way. The window, however, offers a blending of the front and the back, the future and the past. The present even.

It’s a good perspective to have in our lives. If we see what’s ahead of us, and forget what’s behind us, we will probably make the same mistakes we made when passing through the first time around, but they’ll get worse with repetition. And, if we only see the past, but fail to see the future, we will never rise from the ashes of regret. I believe that’s called depression. A place where many people end up being stuck these days.

Our culture conditions us to be enamored of the image we find of ourselves in the mirror. And we cultivate that image incessantly, like a cat grooms his own coat. That’s called narcissism. But Narcissus, from Greek mythology, enamored of his own image in a reflection pool, could not tear himself away from that image. Much like we’ve become today, more concerned with how we appear, than with character, or with what we actually accomplish.

Personally, I prefer looking through a good window.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rapture Ideation

Just as I suspected, I was left behind.
And so was everybody else.

As Pastor Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio, had determined, and many more believed, the Rapture, as Christians call it, was supposed to have happened on Saturday, May 21st. That it did not happen comes as a big surprise to no one outside of that particular bubble. It is a bubble that has reached across the globe to encompass many hundreds of thousands of people, but it is a bubble nevertheless.

I am not going to make fun of Pastor Camping, as many have been doing, but I am going to put his feeble, and self-misguided faith into some context.

So, what causes a man to espouse a belief system that puts his own credibility so directly at risk? Well, mental illness comes to mind. But clothe mental illness in religious doctrine and it becomes legitimized in the minds of many, as we have seen over the past few weeks.

Suicidal ideation is a concept that also begs to be examined in the context of such a persons predetermined, and hoped for, exit from this earth. Because Pastor Camping can no longer make his own life work, that is, that he can no longer reconcile his feeble faith with the realities of real life, he prefers, instead, to make a grand exit, one that will solve all of those problems for him. And not only solve them, but ensure that he ends up being right as well. After all, being right is more important to some people than actually being well. The things the mind will do to justify one’s own psychosis.
I also suspect, in the Pastor’s case, that there is a pompous, and self-aggrandizing, need to lead, a need to be right in the eyes of many, rather than in just his own. When one, however, does not actually have any credible thoughts worth following, you can see why that person would appeal so strongly to those whose own faith is equally feeble.

The problem with the kind of suicidal ideation that Pastor Camping entertains is that he does not have the moral courage to actually carry it out himself. Instead, he spiritualizes it, trusting God to remove him from his own inadequacies, from his own failures, and from his own disappointing, probably guilt-ridden, life here on this earth.

Don’t be misled into thinking that I believe suicide is a courageous act. I don’t. I just think it’s more courageous than hoping God will do it for you.
I heard interviews with several May 21st, Rapture doctrine inductees who stood in their back yards waiting, hoping to be taken. I heard them express heartfelt grief, and disappointment, at being left, pained beyond words that they would have to remain here on this earth even a little while longer.
Says more about our world, than it does about their faith.
Don’t you think?

One could argue that the fact that these people believed so strongly in the May 21st Rapture, is evidence of their faith being unusually strong, rather than feeble. Yes, one could argue that perspective.
And one would be wrong about it as well.
I think these people have faith and hope confused with each other.
Faith is not the hope that all your problems will be solved, absolved, dissolved, or mitigated, in the swoop of a divine hand.
That is wishful thinking, at best.

Faith is something you have to find on your own.
And it will not require you to follow someone else’s lead.

By the way, the Pastor is now in seclusion, where I happen to believe he should remain since he was not supposed to be here today anyway.

My thoughts. I’m sure you have your own.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hey God, Stay Off The Pot

It snowed last night, and again this morning. It’s actually still snowing right now. It’s not supposed to snow here on May 15th. It’s supposed to be spring weather. We’re only at 3,300 feet elevation. It’s not like we’re at 7,000. But, the weather gods are not taking that much into account. They’re going to send snow wherever they feel like they want to see it. And when.

The weather has been wacky all over the United States this year, the world, even. At least that’s how it looks from watching the news. Tornadoes, hurricanes, unexpected ice, and snow storms, floods, wildfires, and various other natural calamitous events, temper tantrums really. Makes me wonder if the weather gods might have finally discovered crack cocaine, or methamphetamine. Which makes me think, ‘What if God was in the habit of ingesting mind altering substances, like so many of us humans are’? Can you imagine God on LSD, on ecstasy, on pot, or Chivas Regal? How in the world would he ever hold things together?

Maybe, because he’s God, he wouldn’t be subject to addiction. Maybe he’d just enjoy those drugs recreationally, a way for him to relax. God must have a major need for relaxation. When you think about it, what would he do to relax? Would he sit on the porch and listen to a baseball game, like I might do sometimes? Or take a walk in the woods, or watch an Airborne Toxic Event concert on TV? Maybe God would hang out at the beach for a day just to enjoy some of the beautiful women he’d made. Or go soul-surfing on a long board.

But, God on drugs could be kind of scary. Can you imagine what a mind as complex as His would be like behind some of the stuff we lose ourselves on?
Drug users are not normally the people you can most count on. Oh, they might be very nice, and they might be some pretty good people, but, everything else being equal, you’ll most always be able to count on a sober person ahead of a stoner. I didn’t design it that way, that’s just the way it turns out. So, imagine if God were getting stoned a lot. My faith in Him would gradually erode, as would my hope that things would be addressed by Him in a timely fashion, and in a reasonable manner. He might spend more time laughing, and less time looking after his responsibilities. It could be kind of cool to know that God was taking things a little less seriously, but in the long run, I want the guy that has my back to be a guy that I can trust will actually have my back.

So God, if you want me to be able to trust you for the weather, or to adequately take care of all of your children, you’re just gonna have to stay off the pot, no matter how much you might need to relax.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Please Don't Say That Anymore

* ‘GOING FORWARD’.
OK, we know you’re going forward, we’ve figured that out.
Everything is ‘going forward’. Except, of course, the past.
And the past is getting farther away.

* ‘IT IS WHAT IT IS’.
What it is to you is not necessarily what it is to me.
Yes, it may be ‘what it is’, but that is not all that it is.
There are usually many layers of what something is.
But, whatever it is, to reduce it to such a simplistic cliché is an insult
to the person with whom you happen to be speaking.
People are capable of determining for themselves ‘what it is’.

* ‘DON’T GO THERE’.
Well, unless there’s a ‘Keep Out’ sign,
I’m probably going to go there.
Unless someone has designated themselves to be a Private Reserve (Preserve),
I won’t bother avoiding the space.
Do you really want to fence other people out, or just fence yourself in?

* ‘AT THE END OF THE DAY’.
Next week is not the ‘end of the day’.
Next month is not the ‘end of the day’.
Next year is not the ‘end of the day’.
When you die is not the ‘end of the day’.
When you finish eating your lunch is not the ‘end of the day’.
THIS EVENING is ‘at the end of the day’.

* ‘NO PROBLEM, or ‘NOT A PROBLEM’.
Usually, only said if there’s a problem.

* ‘HE DIED DOING WHAT HE LOVED’.
Yeah, solo free-climbing Half-Dome in Yosemite, like an idiot.
Never mind that he left his Grandparents without a grandson,
his Parents without a son,
his wife without a husband, or an income,
two Kids without a father,
a Sister without a brother,
and a Niece without an uncle.
Never mind that it didn’t need to happen,
‘he died doing what he loved’.

* ‘YEAH, YEAH, YEAH’.
No, no, no. Don’t try to acknowledge what I’m saying before I’ve said it.
Don’t let your caffeine, and technology, induced impatience
rush me through my thought.
And don’t try to cut me off, pretending you know what I’m going to say.
You don’t know what I’m going to say until I finish saying it.
Now have a cup of decaf, and sit on the porch for a minute.

* ‘WHATEVER’.
The only thing I can say about that is,
‘Whatever’!

* ‘BEEN THERE, DONE THAT’.
Presupposes that my experience was shared by you,
even though it wasn’t.

* ‘BACK IN THE DAY’.
Exactly which day would you be referring to?

* ‘IT’S ALL GOOD’.
That’s just unmitigated bullshit,
most often used by pseudo intellectuals
trying to seduce college girls.
No, it’s not ‘all good’. Almost nothing is ‘all good’.

* ‘THRIVE’.
Gag me, Kaiser Permanente.
Have you all had about enough of that obnoxious woman in the Kaiser ads
talking to you like she’s your own personal enlightenment advisor,
and you’re some kind of idiot male in need of feminizing?
“Follow me,” she seems to suggest, first to the granola bar,
then to the yoga studio, and then to the spiritual spa.
Oh, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the cosmetic surgeon
where you can be made-over to look ‘as good as you feel’.
Summation of the ads: Fix yourself, be your own self-absorbed best friend,
but pay Kaiser for the privilege of inspiring you.
Thrive on this!

* ‘THANK YOU SOOO MUCH’.
Can we just go back to ‘Thank you’?
That seemed to work just fine for, oh, I don’t know,
maybe several thousand years!
Not everything requires a ‘soooo much’, y’know?.

Going forward it is what it is, so don’t go there.
At the end of the day it’s not a problem,
because he died doing what he loved.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, been there, done that, back in the day.
But, it’s all good, so thrive.
And thank you sooo much (with air kiss).


Just havin’ a little serious fun!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden Is My Brother

This is a repost of my January 3, 2009 entry. I rarely, if ever repost, but in light of the recent killing of Osama bin Laden,
and the celebrations following the announcement of the news, I thought it would be appropriate. I, too, am glad that he
has finally been held to accountability, but it disturbs me when I see Americans celebrating in the streets, chanting
"We're Number One", as if it were some kind of sporting event that we won. As I said, I'm glad to see Bin Laden taken down,
but I do not necessarily take any joy in his death, or in the deaths that will follow.
If you're going to read this repost, I would ask that you read it in its entirety.

Osama bin Laden is my brother.
I know, that’s a very weird thing to say, at least by most standards. But OK, now that I have your attention. . . . . . . .
what I have to say is not about most standards. It’s about a greater standard, a standard beyond what we readily, and commonly, acknowledge to be our responsibility to one another. Bin Laden is merely representative of a dynamic that is fueled by each of us, and that each of us is ultimately affected by. It is the domino theory, that every action is affected by an action preceding it; that every motion sets additional motion in play. It is a law of nature. If I turn on a fan in the room it stirs up the air around me, which unsettles the dust in the room, which aggravates my breathing, which gives me the sniffles, which leads to a cold, which I pass on to someone else from the shake of a hand or the knob of a door, and so on, and so on, and so on. An unremarkable example, and one you could argue the medical/scientific merits of, but I think you get the point. Every action produces a direct effect of that action.

Prior to 9/11 Osama bin Laden (and his friends) failed to take into account the fact that we are his brothers. I will say that again. “Prior to 9/11 Osama bin Laden (and his friends) failed to take into account the fact that we are his brothers.” Long before that we failed, you can be sure, to take into account the same about him. I’m not talking about our government, or our country, I’m talking about us as individuals. 9/11 did not just happen. I believe that disrespect is the most profound shaper of negative ideology in the world today. Disrespect for one another on a minor scale always translates somewhere down the line into disrespect for one another on a major scale. I am certainly not blaming the U.S for the attack on the World Trade Center, it was an horrendous and unconscionable act. I am merely using the event to illuminate a broader personal responsibility that each of us needs to embrace if we are ever going to achieve peace on this planet. We rant and rave about countries provoking one another, waging war with one another, hating one another and why can’t things be different, but on the other hand we continue to use, slight, abuse and disrespect one another, in a myriad of ways and circumstances. “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.” I’ve used the flow of water before to describe the cycle of wealth and poverty, and I use it here again because disrespect, like water, always flows downhill. It gathers in lakes and oceans, evaporates to form storm clouds overhead, then rains on us when the clouds can hold no more. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. Someone once said ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, the same way, over and over, and expecting a different result.’

I believe that if we want to call Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi, or Jesus our brother, or the guy sitting next to us in church, we are also obligated to consider Osama bin Laden our brother, or the guy preaching hate on Air America, in the mosque, or with a bullhorn on a university campus. For all the perpetual George Bush haters out there who now want to embrace Barack Obama as their brother, they need to consider the Bush’s of the world in like manner. Can they do that? If not, their own disingenuousness will continue to subvert the very principals they supposedly stand for, and perpetuate, you can be sure, the horrendous divisiveness they create by their own behavior. Those on the ideologically opposite side of things need to do the same. I am not saying we need to agree with, or excuse behavior, but I am saying that love is the greatest moderator of behavior. Forgiveness is the greatest liberator from that behavior.
We are only as spiritually authentic as the measure of our love. Our love is measured in reverse proportion to our capacity for hate, and indifference falls squarely on the side of the negative.

We do not have the luxury to pick and choose who is a member of the human family, and who is not; who we would like to sit next to at the banquet, or stand behind in the food line. Unkindness comes dressed in superlatives far more often than it ever comes dressed in rags, but it comes, dressed in every pair of pants imaginable. If our exclusion of some, and inclusion of others, in our love is based on faith, ideology, political party, country, color, or social grouping, then we really amount to little more than a college fraternity rather than the supposedly enlightened and ever-evolving citizens of the world that we have all become so fond of claiming to be. Lets face it, the earth is a big house, but with more rooms than just the few that you and I happen to occupy. It holds an ever-increasing population of related individuals? If it is true that we are all Gods creatures (and I believe we are) then we must account for that reality, and not merely continue to pay lip service to it. For every major offense, or indiscretion, committed by someone, somewhere, in the world, a minor offense, or indiscretion, can be traced directly back to me. I am me, that is very clear; but you are me as well. Think about it.

Hate, disrespect, dishonor, and neglect spread like a virus to our faceless, unknown, and unimagined brothers and sisters right on down to the end of the line.

We have been commissioned to love our neighbor as our self.
If you say, ‘yeah, but my god doesn’t teach that’, then brother,
you just need to get yourself a better God.

Osama bin Laden is my brother.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mental Chronicles, 6

- Well, the Royal Wedding ‘Official Guest List’ is out, and I’m not on it. If anything would infuriate a guy, it’d be that. I can hardly believe the snub. What were they thinking?

OK, now, this column is a little political from here on, so you might want to skip it, rather than ruin the rest of your day.
I'll get back to writing about rivers and streams again, tomorrow.

- I’m getting a little tired of this whole ‘Obama Birth Certificate’ thing. Was he born in the U.S., or wasn’t he? Who cares, the fact is, he’s a fraud, no matter where he was born.
And, come to think of it, shouldn’t we be equally concerned that Donald Trump WAS born in the United States?

- Solution to Illegal Immigration. Oh, sorry, I mean ‘Undocumented Workers’. They say that if we deport the illegal immigrants we’ll have no one to pick our fruit and vegetables. “Americans,” they say, “just won’t do it.”

Well, I know some Americans we could put to work. Evict the Politicians from Congress, fire the Corporate Attorneys (thugs), Banking, and Wall Street thieves, and make them pick our fruit and vegetables in the fields. Then the Illegal Immigrants could take the jobs in Congress, and in the Corporations. It would all but ensure that there would be honest Politicians, and Businessmen. Not because the illegals are necessarily honest people (some are, some are not), but because, after getting used to the cushy life, the life of wealth, and privilege of a Politician, or a Corporate Fat Cat, they would not want to be fired, and have to go back to picking our fruit and vegetables in the fields.

- Personally, I don’t give a rat’s behind about Barry Bonds. I kind of wish he’d just go away. But his recent trial for Obstruction of Justice/Lying to a Grand Jury (steroids), leaves me confused.
Being brought to trial for lying to the Government? Why is it OK for the Government to lie to the people, continually, and without repercussion of any kind, but it’s never OK for the people to lie to the Government?
Can somebody shed some light on that for me? I think we ought to start treating them the same way they’ve been treating us.
Oh, wait, now that I think about it, who would even want to screw a politician?
Besides Rielle Hunter (John Edwards), that is.

- This is not a new train of thought, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
In our world, ‘Justice’ has been trivialized to the point where there are two forms of Justice. There is justice for the wealthy, and there is justice for the poor. ‘Justice for the Wealthy’ means that they are not subject to the same rules as the poor. And ‘Justice for the Poor’ means that they are not entitled to the same considerations as the wealthy.
Until we insist on ‘Poor Mans Justice’ for the privileged, they will continue to make the rules to suit themselves.

Now, heres’ an idea to chew on.
Saddam Hussein finally got Poor Mans Justice from the Iraqi people.
Do you think things might change if our Politicians, and Corporate crooks, had the same eventuality to look forward to?

- Laws in the following states prohibit an individual from catching rainwater for one’s own personal use. Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, and (of course) D.C.
You can’t catch rainwater in a barrel to drink, or even in a coffee can to water your plants. They consider it, or any such similar act to be ‘theft of water’, an infringement on the ‘water-rights’ of those companies that have contracted with the government to sell the water back to the people.
So, they even own the rain now.
Big surprise.
I wonder if you were lost in the desert, dying of thirst, if it’d be OK just to catch a raindrop or two on your tongue.
Or would they want to arrest you for that?

- I know, the ‘Mental Chronicles’ might lead some of you to believe that I have too much time on my hands. But I just want to say, “If you’re reading the ‘Mental Chronicles’, maybe it’s you who have too much time on your hands.”
(I hope we’re still friends).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Need Not Believe In Jesus

So, you’re probably expecting me to write about the Easter bunny, right? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but my comments are actually about suffering, death, and burial.

Many of you consider me to be a religious man, but, actually, nothing could be farther from the truth. I am a practical man, not by any religious measure, to be sure, but by almost any reasonable measure. Note, I said ‘reasonable’ measure. If your particular religion, or ideology, does not recognize my perspective as ‘reasonable’, that doesn’t necessarily make you right, but it doesn’t necessarily make me wrong either. Still, I must say, “I have confidence in my point of view.”

Some of you consider me to be irreverent because I do not necessarily subscribe to the tenants of a particular religion. But really, one can only offend the pseudo sacrosanct. That which is truly Holy is never offended by perspective. Holy is, in fact, able to absorb all that is unholy, or profane, with an assimilation that is seamless, and without reproach. So I ask you, is your belief system able to accommodate that?

Christian, or not, most of you know the story of Christ’s dilemma in the Garden, where he agonized over the prospect of a brutal future, facing systematic torture and eventual execution. Add to that the concept of Him carrying on his back the sin and iniquity of all mankind, and you can imagine his profound consternation. Consternation is much too moderate of a word, however. ‘Agony’ would be much more appropriate.

Speaking of Jesus’ torment in the Garden, the Bible says in Matthew 26:39, “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Now I don’t really care if you believe this account, or anything else the Bible has to say. That’s your business, and it’s really none of my business. And I don’t care if you’re of the Christian faith, the Muslim faith, the Hindu Faith, the Green Party faith, the FaceBook faith, any other faith, or no faith at all. The recounting of the life, and teachings, of Christ are worthy of examination. It’s interesting, however, that many people are afraid of Him. Many people will examine the teachings, and accounts, of almost anybody else on earth, except Christ. How many volume’s does that speak about a person?

Anyway, according to the Biblical accounting of Christ’s predicament in the Garden, He did not take an easy way out of his prescribed destiny. He offered God the option of changing His mind, but, as happens, God remained silent. Jesus did not opt out, cop out, finagle, or dance the fandango. He did not bargain, cry, whine, lie, run, or disappear. He had a choice, but he stayed to face the difficulty, and the certainty of death. He faced the problem head on. He stepped into the eventuality of further suffering, execution, and burial.

And so it is with us. If we want to get to the resurrection in our own lives, we’ve got to go through the preliminary stages first. We cannot opt out, cop out, finagle, or dance the fandango. We cannot bargain, cry, whine, lie, run, or disappear. I don’t care what it is, if a situation is in need of redemption, the suffering is already being played out. We may not call it that, but that is exactly what it is.

In any event, it all adds up to a separation from God. God does not separate Himself from us, but we do separate ourselves from Him. No matter what the situation, in order for change to manifest itself in one’s life, one must be willing to go through the suffering of separation from the old life, to die to it, and then to bury it like a bad disease. We must face the future with courage, with determination, and with the expectation of redemption.

One need not believe in Jesus to find this kind of change.
One only need believe that redemption is possible.
You see, according to the Gospel story, Christ’s death, and resurrection, were intended to enable the same in ourselves.

Regardless of what we might think about it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Used To Be Sensitive

I need to apologize for neglecting those of you who look to this space each day for your trusted connection with the Obvious. As I’ve stated, and as you know, I’m been working very hard trying to complete my Novel, ‘Wilderness’. I’m making good progress, and am enjoying the process, but I understand that my recent neglect of ‘Coyote Tracks’ has been leaving each of you bereft of your best reason to go on living. I kid. Did I really need to say that? Well, you never know, people can be pretty sensitive these days. And that brings me to the point of this discussion.

I grew up being very sensitive. I was sensitive to other people’s feelings, and I was sensitive about my own. Shoot, (can I even say that?). OK, ‘Shoot’, I was sensitive to religion, to ideology, and to politics. I was sensitive to race, to sexuality, and to cultural differences. In short, I was sensitive to all of the things a person is supposed to be sensitive about. I was sensitive to insensitivity, even.

But y’know, it doesn’t stop there. It was never going to stop at the obvious. Now you’re expected to be sensitive to peoples psyche’s, even though a person’s psyche is invisible. It is obscure. It is unknowable. It is elusive, vague, indefinable, indescribable, and, anyway, it changes with the weather. The psyche is born of a person’s entire life experience. A person lives in different elements of the psyche at different times of their life, different days, even. It is the weakness in a person, at times, and it is the strength at other times. But we are required to protect it, always, in everyone, as if it were a three-month-premature infant in a Maternity ward. No wonder people are so weak.

There is nothing left that we are not required to be sensitive about. Besides the obvious, we are now, also, tasked to intuit what a persons psyche is, and then we are required to tip-toe, and tap-dance around it. We are required to assuage it, and to feed it pabulum for fear it could not digest solid food. It is a large part of what is weakening the lives, and resolve, of the American people.

It is not our commission in life to protect each other’s psyche’s. It is our commission in life to be honest about life. Honesty will mold the psyche naturally, to be well balanced, and of service to the person it is connected to. You don’t prepare a person for life by protecting him from the weather, from the truth, or from himself.

People will think whatever they want, about anything they want. And nobody can take that from us. But, when people begin insisting on what we are supposed to think, how we are supposed to think, and what we are supposed to be sensitive about, well, I begin to become very insensitive about that. C’mon, people. We can’t live that way. People will be as fragile as we require them to be. They will shrink to that level of expectation.

People are allowed to feel today, they are just not allowed to think . . . . . out loud, that is, or for themselves. Thinking for one’s self is the prelude to rebellion. Why are we so afraid of that? Thinking out loud is what gets us in trouble. Somehow, feelings are acceptable, even though they are the primary, and operative, domain of adolescents. Feelings are encouraged. Thinking is not.
And again, I say, “C’mon, people, we can’t live that way.

If somebody says something that you don’t agree with, it’s just somebody’s opinion!” Don’t be so frigging offended by somebody’s opinion. So what if somebody thinks make-up is dishonest (as I heard in a movie recently), and you wear make-up. That doesn’t mean the person thinks you’re a no good, dishonest, shallow bitch. It doesn’t mean the person is trying to hurt you. Stop looking to be hurt by everybody. It just means that the person thinks the idea of using make-up is dishonest. So what? He’s allowed to think that. You think differently. Does that make him a no-good, shallow, idiotic bastard? Does that mean that you must separate yourself from that person so you can feel morally superior to him. Let’s everybody get a grip. Everybody, really.

The things that people say are created by the lives and experiences those people have. Everybody has a different life, and experience. Everybody has a different way of looking at, and interpreting, the world. Why are we so afraid of, or threatened by, that?

Let’s stop pretending that someone else’s experience should bring them to the same conclusions in life that ours have brought us to.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wilderness Update

For those of you who have been following the development of
'Wilderness' on this webpage,
I'm sorry to say that I decided to remove it from the site
until completed.

The Novel has taken shape in a way that now
begs to be read in its entirety.
Posting new individual entries would diminish the impact,
and enjoyment of the Work.

I did not anticipate this happening,
but have realized that it is now
in the best interest of the story.

I expect to have the book completed
within about two months. Maybe one.
Please check back here for the final manuscript.

You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Scene From "The Last Cafe"

Some of the scenes in my novel, “Wilderness”, happen to take place in the “The Last Café”. I’ve been working hard on the novel again, and will post several more completed chapters in the next few days. Check back to see if they’ve been posted. In the meantime, here is a small excerpt from the new chapters.

Part of Chapter Nineteen:

The new artwork that had been sitting on the floor near the storeroom in the back is now hanging on the walls of the café for our enjoyment. I say enjoyment because the work truly is enjoyable. Abstract dogs and cats. Acrylics, it looks like. Not portraits, like artists usually do with animals, but dogs and cats in natural movement, in motion, some in conceptual poses, with personalities and emotion; bodies stretched, arched, and twisted in mid-stride, like if you were to pause a Nature Channel DVD, and then paint the screen.

The only thing that’s not natural is the colors. No gray’s or brown’s, no white’s, no beige, no yellow labs. But lots of offbeat colors on offbeat cats and curious dogs. Reminds me of some of the creatures I’d see with the good acid we used to do back in the 60’s before they started cutting it with Meth, and other sinister additives.

These creatures are truly dancing off the canvass, engaged in full-body celebrations of animal life. Celeste, an artist whose name I’d never heard, is also an artist I will look for in the future. You know how every once in a while you’ll find an artist you’d really like to meet? You may not even know why, just that you’d like to meet him/her? Well, I’d like to meet Celeste. I won’t be trying to meet her. I’m just saying. But I will ask Darla about her tomorrow. I’m very curious. Very curious.

Darla’s got about ten or twelve pieces of her work hanging around the cafe. I’m struck by the strength of their attitude, casting a frivolous demeanor across an, otherwise, somber afternoon. Wall to wall brilliance, lifting me like a kind of telepathic elevator, raising me up, it seems, out of my psychic delirium.

There’s a bemused bloodhound hanging near me on the wall, Cerulean-blue belly to the sky, draped unceremoniously across an old chase-lounge on the lawn, blending with it, into it, one back foot on the ground, and three flopping free like a monkey might lay on his back across a branch, or an otter on a rock. A Fuchsia kitten on the sparkling wet ground, pink, tinged with purple, rear end in the air, two front paws having caught the dog’s one earthbound foot as if it were a mouse he’d cornered by the fence. A second colorful kitten, poking fun, her scarlet nose burrowed deep inside that big overgrown puppy’s ear. The hound’s other ear is draped soft across his own eyes, protecting them from the blinding glare of a merciless afternoon sun. There’s an elated look on the old dogs face, a look that anyone might like to wear were it accompanied, also, by the pleasurable feeling that would have inspired it in the first place.

Darla’s put John Prine’s ‘Souvenirs’ album on, and Mr. Prine has been serenading the clientele this afternoon. Hearing him is like listening to grandpa sitting on a stump outside the barn, telling stories about when life was a little slower, and people were a little more important to one another than they are now.
His songs put life, and the struggle for equanimity, in a dramatic, but embraceable, perspective. “Fish and Whistle,” for example.

“Father forgive us for what we must do.
You forgive us, and we’ll forgive you.
We’ll forgive each other till we both turn blue,
then we’ll whistle and go fishing in heaven.”

They are also the best photographic collection of the human condition that a man could ever hope to find. Snapshots, all of them. “Far From Me” gives an intimate glimpse of many of those humans, concluding that there is remarkable beauty in even the most callously disregarded among us.

“And the sky is black and still now
up on the hill where the angels sing.
Ain’t it funny how an old broken bottle
looks just like a diamond ring.”
But it’s far, far, from me.

Jessie and Collette are both behind the counter today. That always makes me happy. The soul of John Prine permeates the café, casting a subtle, subdued, truth across the room. People put their pencils down to listen. They eat their cake, and sip their coffee quietly. There are no utensils clanging on plates. There is no mindless chatter. There is no scuffing and shuffling of feet, just the sound of Prine’s solitary voice, . . . . Don’t let your baby down . . . . . . . ”), and his conspicuous acoustic guitar. Simple songs, sometimes with bass, accordion, or piano, but not complicated by pretentious arrangements, or unnecessary instruments. Some people are whispering quietly, but even then, you can tell they’re whispering about the songs, or maybe how they used to wake up every morning lying next to somebody they loved. Until Marty entered my, otherwise, innocuous life, it’d been about a thousand years since I woke up with somebody like that. And John Prine reminds me. He sings,
“. . . . Down on the beach the sandman sleeps, and time don’t fly, it bounds and leaps. . . . . . .”

Brad and Angelina are here today as well. They’re usually pretty over-the- top demonstrative with each other, but a couple of songs ago “Far From Me” turned even them inward for the time being. Some people are looking up at the speakers hanging just below the ceiling in the corners of the room. It’s like people want to see the voice they’re hearing. I can totally understand that. And I can almost see his voice when I close my eyes, if you know what I mean.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Snow Falling On Life

A steady snowfall for the past several days.
The corporate power has been out, and we’ve been running on generator.
The steady hum of reassurance that all will not be dark, or cold, or left undone.
But life will take a back seat to living for now,
and living will pace itself according to how living use to be.

It’s been a time of sitting back, and settling in. A time of reflection, of catching up even; not on chores, or busy work, or obligation, but on rest and regeneration. Hours spent in reflection as nature plays itself out just beyond our window. Trees clothed heavy with blankets of fresh wet snow clinging like sweaters to the trunks, like sleeves to the limbs, but eventually letting go as branches reach their limit, unable to bear more weight. That accumulated snow, ultimately continuing on its downward path, falling once again, the rest of the way to the ground, piling up there like a mound of freshly raked leaves in early Autumn.

And like the cycle of life, new snow begins to accumulate like sweaters, just like the old snow did, just outside my window, on the trunks and branches of those very same trees.

Daily walks over trails carved with our own hands, unrecognizable now from even just a few days ago. Snow, knee-high where we step, snowflakes kissing our faces like silk confetti, tickling our lips like feathers, sticking to our winter hats like decoupage.
A shroud of wet fog settling soft around us, obscuring our vision like squinting in the wind, but, even then, enhancing the distinctive pleasure of the hike.

Oh yes, and our dog, Chica; the decathlete mutt, the canine deer with floppy ears, the Maserati on four legs; running, jumping, loping, prancing, dancing, flopping in the powder, playing chasing games with imaginary critters, or the real-life kind who left their lingering scent, knowing it was bound to drive her nutty, her busy nose burrowing through the snow like a young child’s face might plow its way through a bowl of vanilla pudding.

Snow Falling On Life:
While enjoying the beauty of fresh snow, the stolen moments of pleasure and introspection, the privilege of living amid the grandeur of God’s design, I can’t help but to also think of those in Japan whose lives have been upended, whose days and nights are a continuing struggle against the cold, against the elements, and against the ravages of hunger, thirst, grief, fear, and heartbreak.

If you would, raise a hand to the heavens with me, and ask the Creator to shower our brothers and sisters in Japan with mercy, with grace, and with a miraculous means of recovery.
And contribute whatever you can, in whatever way you can, of yourself, and of your resources, for the raising up of those whose lives have fallen so tragically beneath the rubble of unexpected circumstance.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Get Kind Of Numb

I don’t know about you, but I get kind of numb to all the wars and natural devastation we have been experiencing across the globe over these past years. Just going back to the early 90’s there was Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and the American response to it, then the succeeding Gulf war (Iraq), not to mention Afghanistan. There have been, and are, wars all around the world, it seems. There has been the continuing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Somali Civil War, The Chechen conflict, Kosovo, the Croatian war of Independence, Bosnia. There has been the war in North-West Pakistan, the Shiite Insurgency in Yemen, the Darfur/Sudan, and Rwandan genocides, the Cambodia/Thailand border conflicts, and now the Egyptian, and Libyan uprisings.
And these are to name just a few. It seems as if much of the planet is continually on the brink of, if not already involved in, war.

There are the Al Qaeda attacks that have been going on all around the world (New York, London, Madrid, Germany, Yemen, and many others too numerous to mention.) The continuing drug cartel, and gang wars in Mexico and South America, and in the United States. The world has become a battleground.

And then to make matters worse, there are the natural disasters.
The recent devastation in Japan, the New Zealand quake, the 8.8 in Chile in 2010, the Myanmar cyclone, the Haiti earthquake, the Indonesia Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., flooding and landslides in India, China, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Romania, Poland, Portugal, and in many other countries of Europe.

There are countless millions of people who have been, and are, being killed by these Geo-Political conflicts and Natural Disasters, not even to mention the untold millions who are impacted by the fallout. We watch the ‘highlights’ on our televisions and computers. We feel bad for the nameless/faceless victims of the devastation. We measure our own humanity by our internal response to the horror. We measure our sensitivity by the same standard. We might pray for those affected, the families of the deceased. We might even send money. We might be depressed for a little while, and we might feel fortunate that it wasn’t us. But we quickly return to the comfort and safety of our daily routine. Work, Facebook, sports, Judge Judy, fast food, movies and shopping.

Now, I’m not judging, or condemning, you for how you deal with these kinds of tragedies. I’m smart enough to know that most people are compassionate and well meaning. I can only assume that to be the case with you as well. But I know that when I get numb to all of the misfortune in the world that there are many others who are affected by it in the same way. I’m not saying that it’s not a natural thing to kind of freeze up inside at such an inundation of mayhem and tragedy. I’m just saying that I don’t like it when I do. It goes against all that I’d like to be as a human being.

But I am also aware of my limitations, and that I cannot afford to personalize all of the suffering in the world. I cannot hold it all, and I know I’d not be able to find a place to put it if I were to take it on, consciously, or unintended even.

Recognizing this, I find myself grateful that I don’t need to embrace the misery. It would do the world not one bit of good to add even another person to that number. The best I can do is to hold sacred those who have survived, that they may eventually find healing from the pain. That they may make the most of what remains of their own lives.

Regarding my own personal impasse, and possibly yours, I guess ‘numb’ might not be such an inappropriate condition considering that it is, most assuredly, a protective, and temporary state of being.

Say a prayer for those left suffering.
And be thankful that you are not being counted among them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Authenticity

“One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are, and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.”
(Joan of Arc, 1412-1431)

Not my words, and not really even uncommon sentiment. Call it philosophy, or theology, if you will. I’ve expressed similar thoughts through the years, in various ways, but so have many people over the coarse of time, even before Joan of Arc, I’m sure.
But what is it about this concept?
Maybe these people know something.

There are three implications contained in Joan of Arc’s brief statement. 1.) The idea that we are free to live life as we believe, 2.) That there is truly someone, a person, that ‘you are’, and, 3.) To live without belief is an affront to the person that you are.
Perhaps the most important of the three is that there is a person that ‘you are’.
It is the acquiescence to this belief that the fullness of life depends.

There are, unfortunately, many people that we masquerade as, sometimes consciously, sometimes unaware. We put on different acts and faces as we move through different segments of our lives. We take on different behaviors to fit different social expectations, and different belief systems to please those who wield power or influence over us. Or to ingratiate ourselves with those we want to be like. But in moving so smoothly, and so effortlessly, through these various personas we actually become strangers to ourselves, losing touch with our very essence. We end up not really knowing who we are. We make initial compromises, and ultimately engage in the compromising, even, of our compromises.
It gets easy to lose one’s self.

But there is a ‘who’ that we are, an intrinsic ‘who’, a basic ‘who’. It is the person that we actually are, and it is the person we must protect from getting lost beneath the masquerade. That person is born with a purity of soul, since corroded, unfortunately, by profane imposition and clumsy choices. The initial clarity, and transparency, is spiritual in nature, it is embedded in our DNA, and is a direct connection to the source of who we are. It is who we were before we took on the complex, and complicated, baggage of life. That person still exists within us.

With the complexity of modern life, self-assessment is not a practice that too many people engage in these days, except maybe in the context of self-actualization workshops of some kind or another. And even then, the self-assessment is done in the framework of participation in, and measuring oneself against, that narrow modality with its accompanying agenda, rather than in the context of one’s intimacy with one’s own inner self, and one’s creator. But it is the validation, and self-validation, seekers who participate in such fruit salad endeavors. They are not the Joan of Arc’s.

Joan of Arc was martyred (murdered, really) because she lived her belief. She did not compromise who she was. She did not seek validation, or a happiness quotient to be OK with herself. She sought an honesty beyond even the apparent.
And she did not live a slow death, as some of us do. It’s true, she lived a short life, only nineteen years, but she died living honestly.

We are not asked to die for our authenticity.
We are only asked to live it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Books

Books.
We used to hold them, like a woman might grip a ticket to Maui, or a man a winning lottery pick. We used to take them with us in our backpacks, our pockets, and our purses. We used to look forward to a few stolen moments between their pages, or a lazy afternoon lost in a remarkable story somewhere between the front cover of the book and the back.

They used to be the first thing we’d be sure we had with us when packing for a trip, or the last thing we’d buy before boarding a train, or a plane at the airport. We used to relish a coast-to-coast flight for the downtime it afforded us to shut out everything else but a good read. Books were always a very personal thing, organic in nature, from the mind of a writer, from the wood of a tree; pages that would, ultimately, reflect our handling of them. Some of us were respectfully careful with them, and some of us would handle a book like a father might wrestle with his son. Don’t beat the kid up, but don’t baby him too much either. Books would take on the collective nature of their readers. Every reader would leave his own imprint. It was part of what the book became. When finished, some books still looked unread, and some as if they’d been devoured by ravenous hands, curious eyes, inquisitive minds, insatiable imaginations.

But you could always find a good story, a well-thought-out philosophy, an indulgent autobiography, a clever twist of a mystery. You could re-live history from the point of view of a lone voice in a lonely room, a weathered recluse whose cramped fingers felt compelled to pound out his meager thoughts on an old Royal typewriter.
Books were written, and fashioned in stages.
They were read sometimes in one sitting.

They have theses places called Libraries where they collect books to loan to people who like to read. Think about it; being able to select anything you want from thousands, or hundreds of thousands of titles, depending on the size of the particular library. I don’t know for sure, but whoever thought of the first library could be the single most important, and benevolent, person in the history of civilization. The wisdom, the knowledge, the motivation, the inspiration that has been imparted to so many millions of people through his vision is not only immeasurable, but incomprehensible as well. I’d go as far as to say that it was the library that gave birth to the Internet.

Moving through the world, I get feeling pretty sad when I see that the upcoming generation, the Facebook generation, if you will, never seems to have a book in their hands. I see them waiting in places, filling time (more appropriately, ‘killing time’) with Blackberries, and IPhones, and Laptops and IPads. I see them texting, and researching directions, watching streaming video, playing internet games, and keeping in constant touch with ‘friends’. I see them Googling topics germane to the moment, but germane only to the moment. I see them accessing information, constantly, but I never see them reading. I never see them with a book. There are no stolen moments between the pages, there is no getting lost in a remarkable story, or enlightened by a people’s early history. History, for this generation, is being reduced to the accounting of their on-line searches, and the number of hits on their social networking pages.
I would guess it safe to say that very few of this generation would even know where the library is in their own hometown. I don’t think these young people are reading books on line, I’m fairly confident that they are just accessing information. Information. Information. And more Information.

I’ve read some great books along the way. Books these kids are missing out on.

‘The Catcher In The Rye’, ‘The Little Prince’, Thoreau’s ‘Walden’, ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’, ‘The Bible’, ‘Animal Farm’, ‘Moby Dick’, ‘The Sun Also Rises’, ‘Cannery Row’, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, ‘Call Of The Wild’, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ ‘The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn’, ‘Don Quixote’, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, ‘Lord Of The Flies’, ‘Brave New World’, ‘A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man’, ‘Roots’, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Siddhartha’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’, ‘1984’

And these are only a few of the classics. Include some of the more remarkable contemporary novels and there are just way too many to mention.
I still read books as often as I can. A mouse in the hand, or a thumb scan across a smart phone just doesn’t quite get it for me.

“Books. We used to hold them, like a woman might grip a ticket to Maui, or a man a winning lottery pick.”

You can call me old if you want.
I’m just saying, I don’t ever see anybody sitting, enjoying a good book anymore.