Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I was watching a movie the other night. I would not call it a particularly good movie, in fact, I won’t even bother to mention the title because it is not really the point of these thoughts. However, there was a line in the film that got me thinking. I know, you’re probably wondering, “OK, what’s he thinking about now?” But here’s the deal. One of the characters was saying that he had heard from several Hospice workers he knew that, when on their deathbed, the two questions the dying seemed to ask themselves were, 1) “Have I ever loved anybody?” And 2) “Has anybody ever loved me?”
Interesting questions.

Interesting because they are the kind of questions that, I think, we would seem to take for granted. “Of course I’ve loved somebody, and of course somebody has loved me.” Seems like a no-brainer, the kinds of questions one could answer without really even having to think about it. But are they really?

If love is so prevalent, and so common in an individual, why is it that one of the two deathbed questions just happens to be “Have I ever loved anybody?”

To even address such a question, I suppose, one might think they have to first define the concept of Love. And that begs the question, “Should Love be defined according to accepted religious and historical definitions?, should it be defined by a predetermined standard of actions?, according to a personal and intimate feeling?, or even according to what I want Love to mean?” Should Love even be defined at all? Now granted, on one’s deathbed one is not necessarily going to analyze the meaning of love. In fact, I think that in such a unique situation one would know intuitively, instinctively even, the answer to such questions. The ‘meaning’ of Love would probably not even be a consideration. The ‘reality’ of Love, however, would be. But the idea of Love should be a personal consideration for the rest of us; those with time left on earth, and I believe it should be a consideration long before we ever reach those final moments of our lives.

So, is Love an intellectual concept? Is it an action? Is Love a feeling? Is it an elusive, and esoteric phenomena? You might think it is, more likely than not, all of that and more. I personally believe that Love is the embodiment of the Divine, which cannot be defined by us, but rather, must be defined, internally, for us.
But that’s just me.

“I love you” is thrown around these days like ecstasy at a late-night rave, like confetti on New Years Eve, like dust in a warm desert wind. But saying it does not necessarily enable it. Those words, spoken, are generally based on a feeling, a momentary, transitory feeling, and they do tend to, in my opinion, cheapen the very concept of love. In fact, friends, and family members even, will lie to you with one breath, and then say “I love you” with the next. It happens every day. “Love you brother” is a common social closure among friends; but without the commitment of the “I” at the beginning of the statement it is able to avoid being a dishonest proclamation while masquerading as honesty. Good friends and family members will use the “Love You” evasion as well. But sometimes, I acknowledge, the intention will be compromised out of fear, rather than for lack of sentiment.
Sad, but true.

“Love” is a very loaded concept, and a very uncertain proposition for most people. It is also an attribute we wish to identify with, whether we know what it really is, or not.
I think that is why people use the term so indiscriminately, and so carelessly.

Most people are afraid of what they don’t understand.
I think that most people are afraid of Love.

“Have I ever loved anybody? Has anybody ever loved me?”
That is something one cannot know about another,
something one can only ask themselves.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Only For Today

Snow covers the ground today like hope clothes the faith of pilgrims. Icicles hang low from eaves left frozen overnight. My warm breath rises in the morning chill like prayer seeking the mind of God, or His ear, to be more exact. Trees droop heavy with the weight of change, the sky having quietly dumped its own burden when it became too much for its weakening arms to hold. Some of that load now left clinging to Pine branches high above the ground, wishing, like the sky, for a little relief of their own.

Gray skies threaten more of the miraculous, like the promise of adversity intended to challenge the resolve of men, like a rude intruder sent to awaken us from an inebriate slumber, or a bad neighbor hell-bent to test the depth of our humanity.

Footprints on the ground, a virgin shroud left undisturbed as of yet, but for those tracks expecting to be followed by some other creature on the next step up the food chain. I would follow them myself if I were lost and hungry. But I am not lost,
nor am I hungry.

It is a morning unlike any other, just as every one of us is truly different. And just as each day that arrives brings hope for the next, each breath we take is given as a prelude to the next, but without the promise, however, that another one will follow. We are here, in this place, in this time, only for today.

Only for now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Such Unimaginable Happenstance

Pray for the people of Haiti, particularly for the children who lost their parents,
and the parents who lost their children.

And while you’re at it, give some thought to the misdirected importance we give the privileged in our own county. Tell me that, in Gods eyes, there is not a broken, wounded, misplaced, or suffering child in Haiti that is not equally, or more, important than the spoiled royalty we serve with our money and adoration. Tell me that Michael Jackson’s life, or Anna Nicole Smith’s, or Farrah Faucet’s, for that matter, was of greater importance than was the baby of a poverty stricken mother whose shantytown shack has fallen down in shambles around her, her child lost to the rubble of such unimaginable happenstance.

Tell me that Pat Robertson, suggesting that the people of Haiti are cursed, implying that this tragedy was the judgment of God, is not blinded by his own reflection, and his own self-righteousness. Tell me that his life is more important than the innocent’s lost in Haiti. And I’ll tell you that I wouldn’t trade the life of one poor Haitian child for a thousand Pat Robertson’s, or a hundred Donald Trump’s, or a herd of other obnoxious celebrities with their tarnished brass treasures, their throbbing silver tongues, and their fancy gold dancing shoes.

Along with your prayers for the people of Haiti,
you might also want to send a check.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dirty Little Secret

I don’t normally write about my business dealings, or personal health issues, except maybe to illuminate a particular behavior, or to demonstrate some aspect or another of human nature. But I feel rather compelled to let you in on a situation I encountered yesterday in the course of attending to an illness I’ve been struggling with for the past two weeks. I’ve been laying low with a bronchial infection, which began as a mild cold, progressed to a persistent cough, and ultimately, became the bronchial infection that I ended up seeking treatment for. It’s a serious, but not life threatening condition, unless left untreated, in which case it could develop into pneumonia. I should have obtained a prescription of antibiotics earlier, but like many men do, I put it off until it became very apparent that I better do something about it. I’ve had this condition before, a couple of times over the years. Consequently I knew that I just needed the antibiotics to kill the infection and I’d be fine.

Like many, I belong to an HMO. I have a regular doctor within the company, and the corporation has computer records of all conditions and treatment I’ve received from them over the past many years. I emailed my doctor describing my symptoms, and asked her to write a prescription I could swing by and pick up. In response, she said she wanted me to come in for a visit. Although I knew what I had, and knew what I needed for treatment, she still insisted on scheduling an appointment. I guess she doesn’t want to put herself in jeopardy. OK, understandable. However, this particular HMO prides itself on the millions of dollars it spends on advertising suggesting that people take responsibility for their own health, in partnership with their doctor.

So, I’m paying my monthly premium to belong to the HMO, and now I’m charged a fee to visit the doctor, and when she sends me down to get chest Xrays (even though I knew I didn’t need them), they charge me another fee. I don’t really like that, but I guess I’m OK with it, sort of. However, when I go downstairs to the in-house pharmacy to pick up the medications the doctor ordered for me they want to charge me $120.00 for them. I said, “Excuse me.” The clerk said again, “That’ll be $120.00.” I kind of choked and responded, “Sorry, but I can’t afford that. I think that’s kind of outrageous.” And this is the remarkable part, and the reason for writing this blog. He says to me “OH, WELL, ACTUALLY I DON’T NEED TO CHARGE YOU THAT MUCH.” And then he says, “Let me go make a phone call. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” I’m left thinking, “You don’t need to charge me that much, but you were going to?” I’m beside myself. The pharmacy was full, about 150 people waiting for their prescriptions, so I went out and waited in the hallway. The clerk shuffled around some shelves for about five minutes, obviously just killing time. He didn’t know it, but I was watching him through the glass. He never did make a phone call, but then he called me back to the window and said, “OK, I got it all taken care of, that’ll be $72.00 now.” Just so you, my readers, understand what I’m saying here, they were going to charge me $50 more than they supposedly needed to. Dirty little secret. Of course my mind raced back over the years trying to get a sense of how often I’ve been charged more than I needed to be. Then I say to the clerk, “How much for just the antibiotic?” He says “$11.00,” and I said, “OK, I’ll just take those.”

I had to jump through a lot of hoops yesterday just to get the antibiotics I had initially asked for. It left me wondering, again, about the disingenuous practices of all these HMO’s. And if they were going to knock $50 off of the stated price of those medications, can you even begin to imagine what their profit margin must be? It’s got to be, not only obscene, but unconscionable as well. Reason in it’s self to be skeptical of all the drugs the industry is pushing on us, and doing their best to keep us dependent on.

Give me a break!

Question everything.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Parking Meters

I’ve been thinking about Parking Meters.
Don’t ask me why. I just think about what presents itself.

So, let me see if I have this right. In the City, the taxpayers pay for the construction of the streets, their maintenance and repair. They pay for the installation and maintenance of the parking meters. They pay the salaries of the parking police who are employed to catch them parked with expired meters. They pay to park there, then they pay the expired meter fines (taxes) that can range up to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the location and time of day.
The merchants pay taxes to the City for the privilege of doing business in the neighborhoods while the City discourages the citizens from doing business by installing parking meters to try and catch them staying too long in the store, or visiting other stores in the area.

Parking meters have always been an annoyance to people in the City, because of their inconvenience, but also because they are, essentially, nothing more than mechanical toll takers with permanent stainless steel smiles. Rather than an outstretched hand to collect your payment, they employ a convenient slot to gobble your coins or an electronic reader to collect your credit information. Now, the parking meters are not in existence so much for the quarters, or the debits, as they are for the fines that are generated by an individual’s oversight, forgetfulness, or unwillingness to return to feed them time and again. It’s in the City’s interest for the meter to run out on you. The City thrives on those fines. They would much rather hit you up for large fines than collect a routine handful of quarters.
This reality is proven out by the fact that if you get caught being a good Samaritan, feeding somebody else’s meter, the parking enforcer will still ticket the car parked in that space even though the extortion money (parking fee) has already been paid.

It’s not about the quarters. It’s never about the quarters.
It’s really about the fines. Works for them quite nicely.

Civil thievery at its finest.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Hole We've Been Digging For Ourselves

The hole we’ve been digging for ourselves is the hole we’ll eventually bury ourselves in.
Our society has gradually become so dismissive of the dishonest, inappropriate and reckless actions of one another that we find ourselves slowly burying ourselves alive in our own behaviors. If it seems to you that things have gotten too far out of control, it’s only because things have gotten too far out of control. By ‘out of control’, I’m not speaking of being independent of the control of others; I’m referring to the alarming loss of self-control so evident in the lives, manners, and actions of so many, including our supposed leaders and ‘role models’. The younger generation is mimicking the behavior of the older generation who in turn are mimicking the behavior of the younger generation. And no one is willing to take responsibility for their own influence. I think its time that adults (and I mean anyone over the age of 20) begin to take a hard look at the world they’re creating for the rest of those coming up behind them. It’s time for everybody to just grow the f*#k up.

We’ve reached a point in our denial that we no longer even entertain the idea that violence in our culture is influenced by the pervasive reach of violent movies, music videos and video games. Or at least we won’t admit it. Like good ‘progressives’ we blame the violence on poverty, and on ‘social injustice’, rather than on the actual greed driven purveyors of the violence, or our own insatiable appetite for it. We will not even accept that the alarming sexuality being exhibited by children is influenced by the pornography being circulated in commercials, movies, videos and Internet porn sites. In fact, we seem to love that children are indulging our voyeuristic instincts, and entertaining us sexually, both in public, and in the privacy of our homes. We want to dismiss the sexualizing of young people as their own ‘self-discovery’. Rock stars, celebrities, commercial advertisers, and other ethical sellouts continue to celebrate drugs and alcohol as if they were some kind of path to enlightenment. They care nothing about the repercussions of such influential actions. They say “I’m not a role model”. And in fact, they shouldn’t be role models, but people, and young people in particular, do copy their style and behavior. And everybody knows that, including, and especially, those claiming to not be role models. Too many compromised people are hiding behind art and celebrity these days, rather than confronting their own personal failures honestly, and with dignity. There is too much money to be made climbing the celebrity social ladder of success on the backs of the weak and disconnected. Take another toke, crack another brew, another swig of Jack, another pharmaceutical. Just relax, and don’t you worry. “Every little things gonna be alright.”
They dismiss their own pathetic example with the cliché that “Everybody makes their own decisions”. Or even worse, “I am not my brothers keeper”.
I’ve got news for you. We ARE our brother’s keeper. And unless we re-embrace that spiritual, and universal, sensibility, we will all go down together.

What we engage in, we perpetuate. What we allow, we encourage. What we permit, we promote. And what we condone, we own.

Accountability for each of us begins with a personal moment of enlightenment. We can be educated about a concept, a principal, a law of nature, or a behavior, but education is only the first step in the complex process of accountability. Education does not impact each recipient the same. As with any specific education, each of us will understand its importance, and its significance, in our own time, and on our own level. And we will understand it with a unique frame of reference as well, according to our own experience. With personal behavior, (unlike with the law, or unless it has been prohibited by a parent, a boss, or someone else in a position of authority over us) we are actually not responsible for it unless we know it to be detrimental to ourselves, or others, unless we understand the relationship between our behavior and its broader implication. How many times have we heard a teenager (anyone really) say, “I’m not hurting anyone but myself?” But once we do understand the dynamics of that relationship we become accountable, fully accountable. There are no more excuses.

Education can come from without, or it can come from within. The external world tries to educate us to the dangers of certain behaviors and indulgences, but the outer world, by its very nature, is easy to dismiss. After all, that world is very hypocritical. It tolerates, even encourages, certain behaviors from some people, but not from others.
The inner world, however, cannot be dismissed. Education rooted in the conscience of an individual can be ignored by that individual, and it can be deflected, but it cannot be denied. Once it’s there, it’s embedded. It is the moment of enlightenment. And, from that moment on, the recipient of that enlightenment becomes accountable for their actions. Fear of that accountability is one of the major reasons why so many people tend to keep their head thoroughly, and sufficiently, clouded with a myriad of intoxicants and other distractions. They may not want to listen to that particular internal voice, but it’s there. And it remains in place through every pathetic attempt to silence it.

To ultimately embrace conscience, however, is to pass from the over-extended, quivering, and seductive, grasp of adolescence into the strong and responsible arms of adulthood.
At whatever age it may finally occur.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Continuing New Years Revolutions: 2010

This is a personal inventory of the New Years Revolutions I made for 2009.
I’ve graded myself to see where I stand. To my way of thinking, there’s no reason to make new revolutions
as long as I can keep making excuses for not keeping
the ones that I’ve already made.

#1. Stop writing.
I’ve learned that whenever I write something I will undoubtedly offend someone. It is not possible to have an opinion in today’s world without crashing somebody’s PC party.
And reaching a conclusion about something is even more discouraged. Implies malice of forethought. I have to keep reminding myself, “don’t think, just be quiet and do my yoga”.

** Well, I didn’t do so well at this one since I’m still writing, I’m still thinking,
and I haven’t even started doing my yoga.
Grade: F

#2. Keep my opinions to myself.
After all, everybody has a right to they’re own confusion. . . .
I mean conclusion.

** I have to say “I’ve become a little less opinionated this year,
but you’d never know it because I’ve kept fewer of those opinions to myself.”
Grade: D-

#3. Listen to others.
It’s been said that “people don’t listen, they just wait to talk.”
OK, I’m listening, but the silence is deafening.

** I thought I’d been listening to others better this year,
but since I can’t remember anything anybody actually said,
maybe I wasn’t really listening after all.
Grade: D

#4. Trust our leaders.
Oh wait, I already tried that. Bad idea. Never mind.

** Well, I failed at the “Trust our Leaders” part,
But I did good on the “Never mind” part.
Grade: C-

#5. Trust myself.
But if I were the incumbent I’d vote myself out.

** If I knew who I was it would be easier for me to ‘Trust myself’,
but I don’t, so I decided to trust you to trust me instead.
Grade: C

#6. Allow people their own reality. Don’t expect them to share mine.
People are fond of saying “Perception is reality”, but actually, I think reality is reality.
We tailor our perception to make it fit our own pre-conceptions.
Damn, there I go again.

** Well, I allowed people to have their own perceptions, and consequently,
their own realities, but look at the world now.
I’ll never do that again.
Grade: C+

#7. Have a good look in the mirror.

** On second thought, if I were me, which I’m not, I wouldn’t advise that.
I had a good look in the mirror, and decided I just need a better mirror.
Grade: B-

#8. Stop trying to change the world.

Consider for a moment that the world might be perfectly content
drowning in violence, greed, hatred and deceit.
Just enjoy a good DVD and don’t worry about it.

** I have stopped trying to change the world.
Now I just try and remember to change my socks.
Grade: B

#9. Make more ice cubes.

With global warming breathing down our necks like a dragon, you can never store up too many ice cubes for the future. Get more freezers if you need to.

** I have ten acres covered in snow and ice.
if you were, as of yet, unable to make your own ice,
you’d be welcome to have some of mine.
Grade: B+

#10. Never take your own advice.

** Why would I even think of doing that?
Grade: A


I don’t think most people really want to make changes.
I think they just want to make resolutions.
I think that those who want to make changes just make them.
They don’t wait for New Years Eve.