Tag Archives: challenges

Searching

 

We are all searching for something. From the moment we are born when we are looking for warmth and sustenance, we are searching. Sometimes we are simply searching for our keys, directions to a new hot location or sometimes a lost memory. That is what moves us forward. Could it be that the simple act of searching is the true meaning of life?

In the animal world, creatures spend their lives in the pursuit of food and shelter. That allows them to live. They procreate and their progeny starts the cycle again.  In the plant world it is exactly the same. They are constantly searching for food and a way to protect themselves from becoming food. They procreate and the cycle begins again.

The cycle of the human species is a little more complicated than that. Being sentient adds a whole new layer to the concept of searching. Yes, we start out only looking for sustenance and warmth but as we become aware we start to want. We want the shiny baubles; we want toys and we want to understand. As we grow and gain knowledge we want more.  We need to experience the world we inhabit. We want companionship and focus. We look for jobs to give us a sense of purpose. Or simply jobs that provide us with the means to acquire food and shelter.

We join groups of like-minded people so our search becomes communal.  We try religion, book clubs and social media.   Humans are creatures that crave companionship, mostly. There are those who do their searching internally and are always looking for ways to improve who they are as individuals and by extension the world around them. Perhaps we should all be doing that. But most people are simply looking for the next best thing, best book, best meal, most interesting movie. Our tastes are more simplistic than the philosophers. And that is not a bad thing.

Some say that it is the journey that is important not the destination. And that is true to some extent. But if only the journey was important then you lose the incentive of the destination. Once your objective has been reached, it is at that point you start searching for a new one, a new target, a new goal. And the search begins anew. That is the excitement, the wonder of living.

What are you searching for?

Odd

What a silly little word. It almost catches in the back of your throat. Odd. One vowel, two consonants. And yet it is a word that has so many uses, some good, some bad. It is one’s perception that dictates how this word is understood.  Odd, strange, abnormal, unusual, peculiar, funny, idiosyncratic, individual… It is a very long list.

There were an odd number of pieces. The weather is odd these days. That person speaks with an odd accent.  I have been feeling odd lately. I had an odd dream last night. The word has so many meanings and each of those meanings can have different connotations. I’m feeling odd. That could be a bad thing as: I don’t feel well at all or it could be a great thing as: I’m feeling on top of the world and that’s so unusual!

I like things that are a little off the norm.  A little unusual. When I was a child, I used to look up into the sky at night and paint a picture of what my mind saw.  Years later I learned about astronomy and the collection of stars that formed an image. I learned about the stories behind the stars and I was fascinated. So many people look up at the stars and see just stars. Those who study astronomy see something different.

I think those with open minds see so much more. They don’t see odd; they see unusual and fascinating. They see possibilities and opportunities. Labels are restrictive and limiting.  If we judge based on labels, we may miss the underlying truth of the individual.  Labels have a place in identifying but they are only a tool. Used properly ‘odd’ can be fascinating and incredible.

The world is full of creatures and plants that are considered oddities. They don’t fit the norm. Take a look at the platypus. I think it’s quite an adorable looking creature but it is odd.  It is a mammal that has a beak like a duck, a body like an otter, webbed feet, lays eggs and the males have ankle spurs that are venomous. Then there are plants that eat meat. It only seems fair since plants have been eaten by animals from the beginning.  Pitcher plants regularly eat insects but they have been known to digest the occasional rat or shew.  Does anybody remember Day of the Triffids!? Human eating plants take over the world. Yum. Now that was odd and not in a good way.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. One person’s odd is another person’s inspiration. Being odd it’s simply being yourself, an individual. I have been called odd and I liked it. It means I’m not like everybody else and that makes me special. Just like you.

 

 

 

I Love Reality TV 

A Blast From My Past                  Originally posted in April 2017.

Now don’t judge, let me explain. I love Reality TV; you know, what is ‘Real’ not some half-baked version of reality. Seriously some of this “Reality” TV is not my reality!

Now don’t get me wrong. I know how wildly popular these shows are. I personally do not enjoy watching people backstab, scream at each other and generally act like jerks for entertainment. It’s just not my thing. The ‘reality’ programs I do enjoy are the cooking shows. I have never cooked at that level but I’m fascinated by the people that do. Some of them are average people off the street. I find them interesting and supportive of each other. Yes, there are the occasional jerks, but I do try to ignore them and usually they’re booted off the show relatively early.

I even started watching a program, well a game show actually, where they are forging weapons. Seriously! But the passion they show for creating something beautiful and deadly it’s fascinating to me. The other kind of reality I enjoy watching are actually called documentaries. Now that is as real as it gets. I watched a program on the letters Queen Victoria wrote during her more than six decades of reign in England. It was a little bit history, a little romance and a lot of a strong woman. That’s a reality I can get behind.

I’m not sure I understand why some of these “programs” are designated as reality when they’re really just live-action game shows. A group of people are put in a box and live together. I have never watched the program so I’m probably not qualified to judge but to be honest I could never get past the ads for them. It simply looks like a group of people who want to see who can be the meanest or the most obnoxious to gain a questionable prize. I probably don’t understand the concept.

I did watch for a while the game show where people are deserted on an island but when it deteriorated into ‘how badly people can treat each other’, I lost interest. It was fascinating to watch the culture of the island as it was often interwoven into the contest. But that too became unwatchable.

When was the last time you saw something absolutely new on TV?  Everything seems to be a remake of a program from decades ago, even the movies. And then when something interesting does pop up it shows up on other channels with different actors but a similar premise. Have we grown so stale, so jaded that we can’t handle innovation? I find it amusing when I’m watching a show and enjoying it only to recognize something I saw in my childhood in the new program. I guess each new generation has to experience what we did decades ago in the entertainment field. Perhaps if we didn’t continue to live so long, we wouldn’t be noticing all the rehashes.

Still, I watch what’s on TV, some I enjoy some I don’t. And I think I’ll keep watching the reality TV that I enjoy. Parfait anyone?

 

My Airport Antics

I was reading a friend’s blog the other day (tidalscribe.com) and she was regaling her readers with her airport experiences. It made me think of the times I’ve had, well, issues in an airport. My biggest and most traumatic experience was when my father’s plane crashed in 1978. He survived.

Then I guess the one that stands out most was the time I thought I was going to be arrested for transporting drugs. It was August 1978, I was a Boy Scout at the time (they would go coed at a certain age) and we were travelling to Alberta for a National Moot. Think Jamboree. Groups were travelling from all over Canada and I think a few from the States and we are going to meet in Pincher Creek, Alberta for three days. My group thought we would go a little early and camp in the Rocky Mountains and then make our way down to Pincher Creek.

It was a great idea. We had to travel in uniform for insurance purposes so think of seven or eight 17-year-olds in Boy Scout uniforms descending on an airport. We stood out. For years my mother had been supplying us with hot chocolate that she would make herself because it was great when you’re camping. You only had to add water. This was over 40 years ago and I don’t believe they made hot chocolate that you could just make with water.  To make things easier, she put the powder in plastic baggies. There were probably about 20 double bags and then she put them in a flight bag.  None of us thought of the optics. As we were going through Customs it suddenly became very apparent why the Customs agents were taking an inordinate amount of time investigating that flight bag. I moved back in line a few paces. I wasn’t carrying the flight back.  It all worked out when somebody stuck their finger in the bag and tasted the hot chocolate.  They realized it was not cocaine and we were allowed to board the plane. I never did that again.

Then there is the time, many years later, I was travelling to Washington DC for a wedding with my mother. My father had declined the invitation. It was for people we didn’t know but their relatives were cousins that my mother had not seen in 60 years. They were coming from Belfast, Northern Ireland and I was anxious to meet them as well.

When my father’s plane had crashed, it was in a DC9.  I called the Airport to inquire as to what kind of plane we would be using and I was informed it was a 727. When my father dropped my mother and I at the airport and we collected our tickets, my father’s face looked odd. I didn’t question him at the time. We got on the plane and got comfortable and I reached out to read the little brochure in the seat pocket. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the plane I was sitting in was a DC9, the kind my father had crashed in.

We made it to Washington in one piece but I was a wreck. First place I went was the bar! We had a lovely three days and I met some incredible people. It was on the flight back that things got even funnier. We were not sitting in a DC9, we were in the promised 727. When we were packing for the weekend, I had asked my mother to pick up a book for me to read on the plane. Obviously, I was in no shape to read the book on the first flight but now I was relaxed and I reached for the promised book. It was called No Highway by Nevil Shute about a plane with a fatal flaw that’s going to crash and nobody knows about it. Thank you mother.

Oh, and the funny look on my father’s face? He had noticed my seat number, it was the same seat he was sitting in when his plane crashed. Who says life is boring?

Ah, Airline antics . . . .

 

 

Wild Life

A Polar bear was napping,

Upon a sea of ice.

I wonder if he was dreaming?

Of lunch to be precise.

 

I saw a hedgehog running,

He was in such a rush.

Perhaps he had a meeting,

With his latest crush.

 

A fox was sitting in the dark,

Her eyes so very bright,

I wonder what she was thinking,

And were her kits alright?

 

Butterflies are everywhere,

Flitting amongst the trees.

I wonder if they are happy,

As they surf a morning breeze.

 

Animals are all around us,

They live where we can’t see.

But every now and then they show,

Their lives to you and me.

 

Birds are high up in the sky,

Squirrels atop the trees.

Rabbits run within the grass,

And don’t forget the bees!

 

Can we know what they are thinking,

As we share our world with them?

Can we even guess their needs,

Or do we just condemn?

 

We share our world with others,

So different from who we are.

But kindness should be a way of life,

Then love would not be far.

 

 

 

A Broken Pencil

I broke a pencil the other day,

It hit the paper hard.

It seems I had a thought to mind,

That we must be on guard.

 

I guess it started as a rant,

And seemed to grow from there.

Never one to hold my thoughts,

I also need to share.

 

Fear and hatred all about,

A culture of despair.

Is this the way we want to live?

Or must we now beware?

 

The pencil hit the point with rage,

My fury was too strong.

And the moment I had done it,

I knew that I was wrong.

 

Shame was all I really felt

There was another way.

Hate cannot be met with hate,

It’s love we must convey.

 

This is the time to heal our wounds.

A time when we should bond.

All it takes is willingness,

And we could move beyond.

 

I know that we can make amends,

And all can live as one.

Beam a smile at a stranger,

And lo, you have begun.

Offensive Miners

Warning!  This rant may include words that are not to everyone’s taste. Please exercise your discretion.

They seem to be everywhere! And they are doing their mining under the cloak of anonymity because of the Internet. Perhaps I should explain. There is, I hope, a small group of individuals who take a perverse delight in trolling through my idyllic childhood looking for something that offends them in the 21st-century. I am not amused.

If something from my childhood offends someone 50 or 60 years later, I’m sorry about that. I’m sure if I went digging in your childhood, I could find something that offended me, if I was actually looking for it.  If a character is depicted in a less than flattering manner then perhaps the character can be changed to accommodate sensibilities decades after the fact. But here’s something I don’t understand: it was a different time. It was a lifetime ago. You do not know the mindset of the author and don’t pretend that you do. You can infer and make innuendos all you like but you weren’t there.  And to vilify a beloved author who got millions of children reading is just wrong.

Christmas carols have been torn apart and demonized. Beloved nonhuman characters have been crucified with innuendo. Where does it stop? I believe in freedom of speech but that freedom comes with responsibilities. If you feel strongly about something, then stand up, speak up and be identified.  Own your concerns. If you believe something needs to be corrected then correct it. Don’t spend your time spewing hatred on Social Media. That is not responsible.

When I hear about a new offence that has been perpetrated decades ago, I envision the anonymous speaker as someone sitting in his underwear, or her underwear, in Mama’s basement eating fast food and spending their days trolling. It is not a pretty sight.

Stop imitating a kumquat and join the human race. There are plenty of things in our history to be offended by and some of it goes back a lot further than 50 or 60 years. But you only seem to be concentrating on the recent past. Why? Was your childhood so damaged, so perverted that you are incapable of finding joy? So, you wish to bring everyone else down to your level of misery? If that is the case, then I don’t hate you.  I pity you.

There are plenty of things today that offend me: racism, bullying, ageism, inequality… The list is endless. Why don’t you get your facts straight and speak up about what is happening today to the people next-door, to the people around the corner and across the world. Wouldn’t your time be best spent in this decade?

 

Rant concluded. Thank you for your attention.

Failure is the only option.

Failure. To fail. To not succeed. To not accomplish a task. To not complete your objective. It has seriously negative connotations and yet it is simply one part of the learning curve.

I know parents want to shield their children from the evils that exist in the world. We all do.  It is a natural reaction. But I think children need to be exposed to a little more that is less than perfect. If they only experience rainbows and unicorns when they are young, they won’t be able to understand life when they are adults.  Failure is a part of life, a big part. It is one of the best educational tools we have. And if we don’t take advantage of it, the cost down the line can be catastrophic.

We love to regale others with our successes, our shining wins.  No one ever likes to talk about a loss, our mistakes, our failures. Somehow, we think it will make us seem less worthy. Whereas I believe the opposite is true. How you deal with your failures, strengthens your character and will provide you with a template for future situations.

An example:  I was 16 and all excited about getting my Driver’s License. The freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted was intoxicating. I failed my first driving test. I was devastated. I didn’t understand why I had failed but I had. I wallowed for a while in a ‘pity me’ haze. And then my parents pointed out to me that the first test was a trial run. I needed to study more, practice more and I would nail it on the next try. They were right. When I first took the test all I could see was what I would be free to do, I didn’t think at all about my responsibilities with that Driver’s License. There are laws, rules that I had to follow and to respect. I did the second time around. Failure was good for me.

When I was a youth, I belonged to The Girl Guides of Canada. It was a wonderful organization; it probably still is. I was taught how to put up a tent properly, how to appreciate the outdoors, how to work in a team. I was also taught how to make a fire without a match. The first 50 times I failed. I failed again and again and again. What I didn’t do was stop trying. And eventually I became one of the best at making fire using two sticks and a little sweat equity. It was such a moment of achievement for me because of my previous failures. I learned to never give up. It was a life lesson I never forgot.

The only way you will truly fail, is to never try.

 

 

The Nothing Poem

 

 

I have nothing to say,

No wisdom to impart.

My mind is a blank,

I have nowhere to start.

 

My pens are all dry,

And the pencils are broken.

My computer is napping,

I am really heartbroken!

 

This is not who I am,

With nothing to say.

I’ve always got something,

To speak every day!

 

Perhaps it’s my time,

To throw in the towel.

To live without words,

It all seems so foul.

 

Not bloody likely!

I’ll say this to you,

This was a blip,

I know I’ll pull through!

 

I’ll wrestle my demons,

And make them give way.

Cuz I ain’t done talking,

I’ll get back in the fray!

Thought Processes

Have you ever stopped and wondered why you think the way you do? I know that’s an odd question but where does your mind wander to when you’re not focussed on anything. I will be quite honest, I try very hard to keep my mind engaged because when it is allowed to stray, well, things can get interesting.

It was in one of those moments of mindless meanderings when I remembered the many times I’ve had to deal with unprofessional sales clerks. There was the one who could not get past the wheelchair or the one who was smacking her gum, twirling her hair and talking to a friend about a boy.  The fact that I wanted to buy something simply did not enter into her mind even though she was looking right at me. That was probably 20 years ago but I wonder what she’s doing now. Has she gone on to blow expectations and become a PhD chemistry professor? Call me mean but I think not.

Back in the good old days (a year ago) I used to love to listen as people walked by. You never got the entire conversation but it was fascinating to think where it could take you. Like the time I followed a couple after overhearing that he was “…killing them”. Oh, I was intrigued! It’s OK he was just killing his plants. But out of that brief conversation I came up with a story about some actual killing. Yes, there is an evil side to my character and every now and then I embrace it.

When I am standing in front of a dog with a cookie in my hand, I know exactly what he is thinking. The drool is a dead giveaway. But when I’m standing looking at complete strangers it’s impossible to have any idea of what’s going on in their mind. Are they wondering if they locked the door or turned off the porch light? Are they thinking about gifts for a dear friend? Or perhaps how they plan to kill that annoying next-door neighbour? There is just no way to know.

That is fascinating to me. I have, in the past, created stories on the spot to describe what I could see. It had no basis in fact, it was pure fantasy but it was fun to give these people a life and a future directly out of my addled brain.

I once gave a man a wife, a mistress and a sexy secretary all because he was standing waiting for the Train with a smile on his face. It was a nice face but it looked like he had a secret. Those are the best ones to play with. And the upside to this game is nothing is ever written down because I can’t remember them and no one is besmirched. This is what I do when my mind is allowed to ramble and my thought processes are given free rein.  Be afraid, be very afraid…