Tag Archives: challenges

Inspiration

  (for my friends who need a little snow)

I am often asked where I get my ideas for my quips, poems and posts. In all honesty I often get them from you. I read what others write and they inspire me. I am stimulated by people, by circumstances, by life itself. I actually got the idea for one of my favourite posts from the spine of a book in a doctor’s office. I don’t remember what it said or what it was about but the three or four words tripped my curiosity. And then I wrote about the “alligator”.  It was a child referring to the elevator we had just ridden up.  I overheard a conversation about two people who had literally just passed by me on the street and it sounded like they were discussing a murder! They weren’t. But it gave me an idea for another post.

We are constantly bombarded by information. Radios, televisions, our phones, the media. All around us is a cacophony of voices that we almost don’t hear.  Constant input. But within all that noise there are gems of humour, of inspiration. Our brains are like sponges soaking up moisture that we can’t hear or feel or see. It just seeps in.  I find it difficult to turn off and some days I really want to.

At any one time I have at least three or four writing exercises going on in my brain. Stories are percolating. I’ve got one story started about the retirement plan of an old man.  He wants to commit a crime to keep himself in a nice cushy prison for his retirement.  It sounds like fun but I haven’t written it yet. Or there’s one about a multi generational ghost story told from the perspective of a five-year-old. I’m intrigued!  I have two paragraphs written.  And then there’s a story about a woman who receives a phone call and it’s a wrong number but she can’t get the caller to understand that. There’s definitely a story there… What about if she calls… Oh… This could show up next week. Stay tuned!

Do you see? Inspiration is everywhere. We just have to open our hearts and minds to hear it. Sometimes it shouts and sometimes it’s a gentle whisper on the wind. If we would just pay a little closer attention . . .

My Ark

Several years ago, there was a psychological project in one of my psych classes. It asked us to decide who you would want to share a lifeboat with. I actually don’t remember my response at the time but I’m sure it included family and friends. Nowadays I would need a bigger boat. Hence My Ark. And then I started to think a little more. I’m still gonna need a bigger boat.

So how about I change it up just a little bit more. Instead of a boat, let’s choose a world. And what kinds of people would I want to populate that world? Now the question is getting really interesting.

Of course, they’ll always be my family and friends included wherever I am. But who else? And how exactly do I classify a friend? People I care about but are not necessarily friends, I would still want them included. There are people I don’t know and are definitely not classified as friends but still I think there’s a place for them. So, let’s try to categorize this a little bit.

The world will always need its Dreamers. People to inspire us and make us look to the stars. They provide us with incentive. And then of course we will need the Scientists to help us create the perfect world. And scientists are only as good as the Workers that are able to make their ideas come to life. We will also need Engineers and Mathematicians. And Teachers to teach us the mathematics. And I think we actually need Politicians. I know it’s heresy to say that but think about it. We need people who can direct where the need is greatest. Perhaps we can come up with a different name.

We will need people who know how to make things grow and people to make us laugh. We need Doctors and Architects, Botanists and Artists, Writers, Singers, Entertainers. We need people who can play sports and those who can cook.  Every facet of life requires a different skill which requires a different person. We are all interconnected. We all need each other.

It would be easy to say let’s keep criminals off our world but how is that possible? Murderers are not born they are created. How? People commit crimes for a reason. If we take away the reason, we take away the need for the crime. Simplistic? Yes. That is why we need the Dreamers.

Of course, no world of mine would be possible without its animals. We need animals for companionship, for assistance, for food and for clothing. Remember the Bible story of Noah? I wonder what he felt like when he welcomed the mosquitoes on board his Ark? Mosquitoes are a horrible menace to us here and yet they provide a valuable service. They are food for birds, spiders and reptiles. They help to pollinate. It might actually have been a different world and perhaps not a successful one, without them.  There’s a lesson there.

We can’t pick and choose who we want to share our world with because we all have a part to play. All Of Us. This planet, this earth, this world is Our Ark. In order to make it work we all have to come together as one species: The Human Race.

 

 

 

The Domino Effect   

I wrote this back in January 2014.  I hope you don’t mind. I just couldn’t come up with a new post this week.  I hope I will be forgiven . . .

I want to say something profound and memorable.  I wanted my first full post of 2014 to be something people spoke about to each other for days and weeks.  And then I realized I had it all wrong.  It’s not about the words I use.  It’s not about how I feel about what I write.  It’s about reaching out from the isolation of my home to the world. We are not alone.  We never have been.

I’m a big believer in the importance of chance.  You meet a stranger on the street and you smile in an abstract, bored sort of way.  The person you smile at doesn’t realize you are bored and his spirits are lifted just a tiny bit and when he gets home to his wife, he’s kinder.  His wife spends a little longer getting dressed that night because she’s starting to believe she’s beautiful because her husband was kind.  She speaks gently to her child that night and he goes to sleep feeling loved.  The next day he goes to school and does exceptionally well on a test because he feels good about himself.  His teacher is thrilled that her problem student has done well and she feels better about herself thinking she’s the reason.  She goes home that night . . . All of this happened because one woman smiled at a stranger.  It’s a domino effect.

We live on this little blue world made of dirt and water and people.  There are a lot of us.  There are wars and hunger, violence and apathy.  Every day we deal with our own perceived inadequacies, our own diseases.  But there’s one thing we must never forget: somewhere, someone is in much worse shape than we are.  Somewhere, someone is watching their life blood seep through a gaping wound, alone and frightened.  Somewhere, someone is watching as a loved one slowly succumbs to a painful and deadly disease.  A woman is raped and beaten, killed.  A man is shot dead by a stranger for his empty wallet.  A woman feels the hands of a lover on her throat tightening. Children are shot by children, men and women are tortured, planes crash, people are dying of hunger, disease and greed.

You have a choice.  I have a choice.  We can give in, be victims and wallow in our own self-pity.  Or we can take what quality of life we have, embrace it, relish it, enhance it if we can, and live.  Reach out to the stranger next to you and smile.  We are all in this together

 

Teach Your Children Well

It is a line within a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young that popped into my head the other day.  The title is ‘Teach Your Children’ and it was out in the seventies. It was good advice then and it’s good advice now.  Actually, if we don’t do it right, we are dooming ourselves, our species.

We screwed up. Racism, poverty, intolerance.  These are fixable issues.  They truly are.  So why are people still dying?    It is happening because of greed, apathy and intolerance.  Learned attributes.    So, what do we do?  We teach our children to love, how to show compassion. We teach them the truth:  we are ALL important.  Each and every one of us.  That is a truth too many try to hide with their hatred.

Many years ago, two different groups of children were introduced to each other. They spent a week or so, in each other’s company.  They only learned the other’s names, no backgrounds.  Eventually it was discovered that one group was from Northern Ireland, the other from England.  They didn’t know that they were supposed to hate each other.  They truly did become friends. I couldn’t find the experiment on-line so maybe I dreamed it but I do not believe so. I read it many, many years ago and it stuck with me.  Hate is taught to our children.  And we teach it.

Okay, okay not all of us are so narrow minded that we instil our biases in our young but it happens far too much. If we can change that, we can make an enormous leap towards global acceptance.   It is probably pretty close to impossible to change the attitude of many of the adults. That may simply be because they have lived so long with their hatred, some don’t know to survive without it.  That doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Old dogs can be taught new tricks.

With everything that has been going on in the last few weeks it is no surprise we have reached a boiling point.  The pandemic has lit the match on an already volatile society.  We are cooped up and tensions are high.  But the problems are not new ones, just old ones we refused to face.

If we want a future, a viable future, we must change. It must start with the children.  Teach your children well.

 

 

Teach Your Children

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

 

Par-ty!!

I’m going to have a party,

All by myself alone.

Would you like to join me?

From within your zone?

 

There’ll be party favours,

And drinks to sink a ship.

Dancing umm, I think that’s fine,

Unless of course I trip!

 

Music sure, there has to be,

Loud and with a beat.

And if I get too hungry,

Perhaps a little treat.

 

I know that it’s unusual,

To do this at a distance.

I wanted something different,

A path of least resistance.

 

Something has to change I think,

The world is so bizarre.

So, grab your hat and party shoes

And be a breakout star!

Amplexus

I have always found that the best way to get someone’s attention is to make them curious. “What IS that noise?” “What do you mean by that?”  “She did what with whom?”

Your curiosity is peaked isn’t it? The name of this post is actually the Latin word for hug. It is such a little word but it has huge implications. It implies love, affection, concern. It forces a connection between individuals or even groups. It is physical. And right now, we are living in a world that is telling us to be less physical. And the one thing I’m hearing over and over again is that people miss getting hugged.  That’s hugged not mugged! Although, some hugging can feel like a mugging. But I digress.

There is a movie I really enjoy called ‘Love, Actually’. There’s a scene, I think it’s at the beginning of the movie as well as at the end, where you see large groups of people walking up to individuals, to love ones and hugging them. I miss a hug. I miss shaking hands. I miss getting a kiss on the cheek. And I will continue to miss all of this if it means that I am protecting the people I love.

We’ve entered into a new reality where we are learning to show our affection, our caring, without physical touch. It may not be quite as satisfying but we can make it count. We have to. I love my family but I have not been in their physical presence for some time. And I’m okay with that. I love them enough to stay away. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I’m absolutely miserable about it! But I’m a tough old sod and I would rather do the right thing for the right reason.

Let’s be serious. Most of us are not aching all that much. I have food, shelter, entertainment. I am not suffering. My mental faculties are being amused and challenged. Quite honestly, I’m simply inconvenienced. And it seems to me that the people that are mostly inconvenienced are the ones that are complaining the loudest. What about the people on the front lines that are quite literally putting their lives in danger to protect us, care for us? What about the people with loved ones in the hospital that they can’t get to? There are horror stories all over the world but I’m not one of them.

So, I’m going to let my hair grow a little longer. I’m not going to go to the dentist or the mall or the cinema. I’m going to keep away from friends and family. And I’m going to stop complaining about it. I am inconvenienced, nothing more.

 

A Walk

I’m taking my butterfly for a walk

He likes to drink each day.

Nectar is his beverage

A sip and he’s on his way!

 

I’m taking my bumblebee for a walk

He likes to drink you see,

Floral syrup is his brew

He gets it all for free!

 

I’m taking my Robin for a walk

He flies from tree to tree.

It’s hard for me to keep abreast

When Robin’s on a spree!

 

I love to walk with all my friends

They have so much to say.

If only I could understand

Then maybe they would stay!

A Moment of Introspection

Late this morning I was on my balcony feeling a little sorry for myself.  There was no real need. I’m healthy, I am safe and I have all my needs met, except for one. I enjoy spending time on my own. I can write when I’m alone. I can paint when I’m alone. I can watch TV or read. At my fingertips I have the entire world on the Internet. But there’s one thing I cannot have:  people. I miss people. I missed seeing them on the street and in the shops. But not seeing them is a small price to pay for keeping us healthy. It’s the least I can do.

As I was looking out over my balcony, I was aware that I was alone. There was no one in sight. This is a busy intersection and there are usually a lot of people and cars and noise. But today I could hear clearly the birds chirping away in, what I can only assume is, a song of joy. They are not competing with the fumes generated by cars or the cacophony of voices that accompanies any large group of people. The air is clear and the faint breeze is sweet.

At a distance I can hear a car. But it is not close. There are no planes in the air or trains in the background.  A Security car has just stopped outside my bank. I can see him. He’s all alone. He only stays for a moment and then leaves. A solitary car pulls up into the empty parking lot and I can see through its windows that there are two passengers.  I watch as she don’s gloves before she enters the empty bank. There’s a bank machine there. Within moments they too were gone. I can see birds flying free and unencumbered. This is a moment of introspection.

People are worried and rightly so. The last pandemic of this magnitude was in 1918. It lasted from January 1918 to December 1920. Infected 500 million people, about one quarter of the world’s population at the time. 102 years ago. Have we learned enough to combat this one? Over 1 million people in the world have been infected so far. Out of 7 billion!

Church bells are ringing in support of those on the front lines. I see videos and hear stories of people coming out onto their balconies or at the end of their driveways and singing. They’re making noise. They are rejoicing in being alive. They are refusing to give up or to give in. We will survive this. Our planet will have time to heal and we will have time to take stock.  What really is important in our lives, in our world? Maybe now we’ll learn the truth.

We are not isolating ourselves; we are distancing ourselves. It is a huge difference. And that is what will keep us together. I hope it will bring us closer as individuals and as a species. Be well.