Tag Archives: challenges

Pulchritude

How can a word that means beauty, come out sounding like spit? No, really, it does. Or how about the sound a cat makes just before he lands a hairball on your brand-new living room rug? It is not a pretty word. It has a beautiful meaning but the word itself is unattractive.  And yet the word ugly actually looks kind of cute. All those curly bits. Confused yet? Read on…

I love words for their meaning but they also have other attributes. They can visually form patterns that are pleasing to the eye or perhaps discordant. I know most people don’t look at words that way but I do. I do not like the word yellow and yet I love the colour, some shades.  Why you wonder? I have no idea. I know what I like the look of, exactly the same way I know what I like the taste of. I don’t like beets. It’s as simple as that. Using beets to dye something can be incredible. They have the most extraordinary colour but I don’t like the taste of them.

There are several forms of poetry that are restrictive. Allowing only a certain number of syllables per line which actually forms an image. A shape that is pleasing to the eye. Was it intentional? Possibly, I don’t know.  What I do know is that some poetry forms are not as pleasing to look at. Again, is it intentional? Probably not. How many people do you know that are so twisted that they look at the image of the word on a page as well as its meaning? I don’t imagine there are too many of us.

When I write poetry or prose, I am always aware of how it looks on the page. Are there too many paragraphs? Are there too few?  I find different fonts are more comfortable, more pleasing to the eye. I think aesthetics is a big part of our understanding simply because if we find something pleasant to look at, we are more likely to invest more time reading the words. If I’m reading a book that is uncomfortable, I will put it aside. If the words are that compelling, I might go back but I might not.

Another thing I am constantly aware of is cadence. Perhaps more so in poetry because it does have a singsong quality to it, in my opinion. But it is also there in prose.  Long sentences tend to promote comfort unless they are too long in which case they are irritating. Short sentences are like short burst of energy. The words, the meanings are sharp and cutting. Using words that are over long and verbose is like having two types of gravy for the same meal:  unnecessary. If used properly words have such incredible power. They have the capacity to love, to hate, to cajole and to succour. Please use them responsibly.

 

Kindly Clutter

 

Last weekend I had an unusual occurrence. I stopped thinking. Now that sounds a little odd but my mind is constantly in motion. It’s a little creepy when I say it out loud but it simply means I am always aware of thoughts. Good thoughts. I work out short stories in my head or posts for my blog or poems.  A lot of my quips come out of my gentle musings. I watch TV or read  to distract me but I’m rarely able to do one thing at a time. And then last weekend it all stopped.

You know how people are always saying in order to truly relax you must rid your mind of all thought. I can’t do that. I’m like a hamster on a wheel going around and around and around. It’s been like this my entire life so to me it’s just like white noise. My mind is always cogitating in the background and for the most part I don’t pay attention. I explained to a friend that one has a brain, a mind and body. We are our own trinity.  Think of it as your brain is the hardware, your mind is the software and your body is the packaging that keeps everything from falling apart. I told you my mind works in strange ways. So, when it stopped, I was . . . bereft.

Do you remember the expression:  “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”? It’s from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Of course, I modified it for my circumstances . . . Clutter, clutter everywhere and not a thought to think. My mind is full of clutter, as is my home. I have always admired the concept of minimalism but I could never live that way. I need my clutter. It enlightens me, it inspires me, it consoles me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For almost two days I wandered around my apartment trying to distract myself. Fortunately, my weeks-worth of posting was already set. It’s like walking through a visual world and not being able to see. One of my senses was gone. It was not gone for long. But it did leave me unsettled. I have now gotten a post out of it so it wasn’t all bad.

I greatly admire people who have lost an ability and have been able to function beautifully with what they have left. Then again maybe I do understand. I lost my legs 20 years ago or rather I lost the use of them. I’ve been in a wheelchair for two decades and my life really hasn’t changed significantly. Yes, I have to modify how things are done and there are things that do defeat me but I can usually find a work-around. It helps to be tenacious and occasionally cranky. The Ancient Mariner may have been becalmed on a salty sea with nothing to drink but I have people and words to go to for thoughtful nourishment.

 

Planting a Seed

This is a blast from my past. It was originally posted in May 2017.

Each spring we anticipate the joy of bringing life into our gardens.  We plan and choose and anxiously wait for the frost to leave the ground We knowingly plant our gardens and wait for the flowers to bloom forth bringing the beauty that we know exists just below the surface.  We are proud of our efforts and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps more on something that is often ephemeral. Hmmmm . . .

Wouldn’t it be nice to plant a seed that we could see bloom every day?   Actually, we can. We also plant other seeds every day but we probably aren’t aware of it.  A smile, a wave, a wink or a nod: simple gestures that can actually have lasting ramifications. We have no idea how many people we touch in a single day, a single hour and yet touch them we do. And that’s where the seeds take root.

Unfortunately, those seeds, those ideas, we plant aren’t always positive. Anger has a nasty way of leaving its mark long after the argument is done. Fear can last for generations, all from a single seed planted by people we don’t even know. Racism, bigotry, prejudice, the list is endless. We have the power within ourselves to make a difference. Within our hands, our hearts and our minds are the seeds that we can spread willingly and positively. We are in control, but do we know it?

Each one of us has a need to be nurtured, protected in order to properly thrive.  It is the height of hubris to think that others don’t have the same need.  There are more than 7 billion people on this earth and we all have something in common: Life.  We need to share it in order to blossom.

It’s a little heady to think that we have this power, this opportunity to improve ourselves and those around us.  When we catch the eye of the stranger do they see kindness and charity in our eyes or do they see fear and disdain. We can control that. We can control the narrative.

In 100 years you and I will probably be forgotten. In 50 years there might be a faint echo of us in those who are children now. In 25 years we should still be a part of the conversation, perhaps in passing. Tomorrow and the next day I want to be a continuing part of that narrative.  I want to plant seeds of compassion and empathy in those around me. In that way I can pay it forward and the see the beauty that sleeps just below the surface. How about you?

And

Such a little word. Three letters, one syllable. It is often overlooked, much maligned and often disregarded. But it has a mighty job. People often replace it with a comma and while that is fine, it doesn’t tell the whole story. A comma will relate words together but ‘and’ binds them. Husband and wife. Peanut butter and jam. Melodies and lyrics. War and peace. I could continue. There are things that belong together, the word ‘and’ ensures that they do.

As is so often true it is the little things that make the difference. ‘And’ is a word that doesn’t just bring things together it connects them. Rogers and Hammerstein were great individual artists but put them together and they made magic. Their music is timeless. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were brilliant performers but when they danced together, they were the quintessential couple.  Think of foods that are better because they have been combined. Peanut butter is great on a cracker but add jam and put it between two pieces of bread . . . you have a childhood favourite. And, I might add, a few adults…

As a species we need to associate with another in order to procreate, to evolve. We also need connections to enhance our quality of life. If we keep breathing, we can stay alive but in order to have an actual life we need relationships. That is why we have cities and towns, communities for protection and for sustainability. We are social creatures.  Very few are true isolationists. Some do prefer to live alone but there will always be a connection somewhere even if it is tenuous. In the animal world it is the same thing. Some do live a singular life but there is a need, a compulsion to come together to reproduce.

When we have healthy competition, we will strive for betterment. When we have mutual support, we can reach for the stars. It is only when we are together that we can achieve greatness. And if we are simply the audience to that greatness, we are still part of the whole picture. Even the lowliest of seeds has the potential to become a great oak with the right support.

The world needs to understand that we are better collectively. When the coronavirus first hit, the world came together to fight the devastation. We work stronger, more efficiently when we are a team, when we are us.

Do you know what else ‘and’ has done? It has brought together you and I. I think that’s pretty special.

I dreamt about underwear . . .

I originally wrote this in April 2017. Since I didn’t have a post ready for this Sunday, I thought I would regale you with an old one. It made me chuckle…

Say what? Now if I were wealthy, I would be considered eccentric, but no I’m just odd.  It is, however, the kind of odd that amuses me so I will continue with my . . . . oddities.

Articles of clothing are not my usual topic for dreamland but I’m presently in the market for a few new necessities of comfort. Now that is a topic I am most familiar with: comfort. You ladies understand and gentlemen . . . think of women’s intimates not just as pretty packages for really cool prizes but as a metaphor for a good society.  Now aren’t you glad you continued to read?

You thought I was going to go smutty and I segued into a societal discourse on the human condition.  Welcome to my twisted mind. As I see it a woman’s intimates provide a foundation on which to build a carapace within which one interacts with society.

What we show to each other is not necessarily who we are. Each article of clothing is combined to elicit a mood, a look, a means to complete a necessary task.  A night out at the pub – perhaps a thong.  A doctor’s appointment – full brief. Court case – flaming red hipsters.  It’s all about how it makes us feel.

As a society we hide our feelings and allow only what is acceptable to show on a daily basis. Love, hate, anger, envy . . . the list is exhaustive. In order for society to function properly, people need to conform to expected doctrine. But that doesn’t mean an individual has to completely suppress their personal individuality, but rather adapt to meet the circumstances of the moment.

I know this seems complicated and unnecessary but it all comes down to foundation. If a house is built with the proper foundation it can last for 100 years. If a society has a proper foundation on which to build, it will remain stable instead of fracturing at the first sign of trouble. Countries with a strong foundation can weather horrible troubles and still maintain its identity.

Perhaps now you understand why sleeping isn’t always a restful activity for me. But my dreams are never dull!

 

Percolating

When I was a child, my parents made coffee with a percolator. Water would bubble up and mix with coffee grounds.  In time the combination was ready to drink. I often think of my mind as a percolator. I see words, images or feel things and whatever that small minutia is, it percolates through the miasma that is my mind and low and behold a thought takes form. If I’m lucky that form will become an idea and continue to grow and to develop into something tangible. Sometimes it dies on the vine but the essence of what it was remains to call to me with something else further down the line. Welcome to my world.

With everything that is happening on this planet I think there’s a great deal of percolating going on. Things seem to bubble like a volcano and eventually they erupt. There’s such violence in the world and it always seems to happen in a split second and then I can’t help wondering if the reason, the source of the issue has been percolating below the surface until it explodes. And then we have violence and anger and pain.

Why can’t love, kindness and compassion be what is bubbling beneath the surface?  I know they are there. I know they exist. We see examples of it every single day and yet nobody wants to talk about it. It should be blaring from the headlines “GOOD PEOPLE CARE!”  We have so many mental health issues where people are suffering. Would they suffer any less if they knew how much people cared? I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I am quite naïve. I want to believe in the good, I do believe in the good. But some days it is really difficult.

More and more I am seeing that on social media people are recognizing what needs to be done and stepping up to the plate. People are sharing the goodness that happens around them. I know that it helps me. It tells me not to despair of the human condition. But there are days…

But today is not one of them. It is pouring rain outside; it is cold and gray. But there is sunshine in my world because of the blogs that give me such comfort. I would name them but I follow quite a few.  They make me laugh and they make me cry in all the best ways.  I guess today I just wanted to say thank you to all the wonderful people I read. I am so pleased I have met you. Be well, be safe, be happy. And I’ll see you tomorrow…

 

Image from Amazon.ca

Transparency

The catch word for today is ‘Transparency”. People think everything should be transparent, we should know it all. I am here to add my voice to that conversation and tell you… No thanks. I don’t want to know what goes into making my sausage that I am thoroughly enjoying. I don’t want to know the machinations that were used to get aid to those who require it. I just want to know that it has happened.

We live in a world where everyone seems to want to get ahead by stepping on other people. OK not everyone! But enough that we are concerned. We should be. And we want to know what’s going on to ensure that that doesn’t happen. I understand that. And I agree. But too much information simply muddies the water. I trust in the people we put in place to protect us. Call me naïve if you wish.  There’s enough going on in my life for me to worry about that it’s difficult to worry about, well, everybody else. And quite honestly some of it is none of my business.

I have used celebrities before as an example and unfortunately, they are the favourite punching bag. I don’t need to know everything about them. I don’t need to know their eating habits or their toiletry practices. IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS! It shouldn’t be anybody else’s either. I don’t want some stranger knowing what is in my medicine cabinet. So why does the gutter media think they have the right to snoop so intrusively? I don’t know. But I do know that there is a certain transparency that should not be exploited.

I once watched a YouTube bit about a transparent public toilet. (It’s in Japan) when no one is in the room it is transparent. When someone comes in and locks the door it turns opaque. It is done to dispel the concept of dirty, smelly bathrooms. With my luck I would be halfway through my use of it with my knickers around my ankles and it would turn transparent. Seriously. I don’t have that kind of courage. But it highlights the whole concept of transparency. Sometimes it is a good thing. But not always.

It is not transparency we require; it is accountability. We need to know that what is important will be taken care of and what is not important will be dismissed. The trick is knowing the difference. There are things that once seen can never be unseen. Things once said that can never be unsaid. We need to be careful and we need to be accountable. If we take responsibility for things that we have done or said then we have a much better chance of being accepted for who we are and what we believe. At least that is what I believe.

After the End   

         It was over, the end.  It was the end of shopping malls and ice cream cones.  It was the end of School Prom Nights and High School football games.  It was the end of late-night television and microwave popcorn.  It was also the end of high-speed car chases and that singing purple dinosaur on children’s TV.  It was the end of TV.

         No one knows what happened.  No one knows how it started. Everyone knows when it ended and when a new beginning began.  It was last night and today.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Let’s hope it isn’t the last as well.

         My name is Ana Elizabeth Evans and I am . . . well I am here.  I know  what I was yesterday.  Yesterday I was a secretary, a good one.  Today . . . well today I am alive and I don’t think that is all that common. I don’t even know if I can explain what happened.  When I went to bed everything was fine.  This morning everything is not.  Something happened in the night that changed everything.  The world as we know it, ended.  There was a horrible explosion, the earth literally moved.  I thought it was an earthquake but I have never felt one before and I don’t live where they happen.  Power is out so I can’t check the news on the radio or the TV.  I haven’t seen anyone since I woke up.  The sky is a funny colour, sort of like putty, old cracked putty.  And there is a smell about, not offensive, just odd.  Like hand cream, sort of.  I can’t place it but it seems familiar.  And the quiet.  I have never heard such quiet.  There are no birds, no insects, no cars.  Creepy.  I have to wonder if perhaps it is not the world that has gone strange but maybe it’s me.  I have read stories where people are hit by cars and are in a coma and they actually live a whole life in their heads while their body rots in some hospital bed.  I’m not sure I like that thought.  Fiction.  Either way I am alone.  All alone.  I should be panicking, screaming, going crazy.  But I’m not.  I am calmly writing in my journal as if it’s just another day.  I am also hungry.  And there is nothing in my cupboard.

There used to be a variety store a couple of blocks down the street.  I wonder if it’s still there?  I wonder if they have anything to sell?  I wonder if I will need any money?

         Well, the store was there, the people were not.  I picked up a few things to eat and a paper, yesterdays.  Everything is so quiet.  And that sky, so odd.  There is no electricity so I can’t cook anything.  Cereal, that doesn’t have to be cooked.  No milk.  Bread and peanut butter.  Bread won’t last forever, so I had better eat it now.  I’ll feel better once I’ve eaten.

         I don’t feel a lot better.  I just don’t feel hungry. The paper didn’t enlighten me.  Just more of the same, politicians angry because  someone said something nasty, it was probably true, people stealing and killing and invading, and, and, and. . .  We live in a very nasty world.  Did live in a very nasty world.  I have to find other people.  There must be someone else around, I can’t be the only one left.

* * * * * * *

         Ok so I am not the greatest walker.  I doubt if I have walked two miles.  But this is, was, a very busy town, there should be people around.  There doesn’t seem to be any damage to the buildings.  An earthquake would damage buildings, wouldn’t it?  There should be some kind of sign to explain what has happened.  The stores aren’t locked.  At least the ones I’ve gone into.  I read once that there are bombs that will kill the people and leave all the buildings intact. What about bodies?  Why wasn’t I affected? I’m hungry again.  There is a deli just down here somewhere . . .

         Ok I’m not hungry anymore.  This really can’t continue, food is going to spoil and then I’ll get sick if I eat contaminated stuff.  I should pick up some non-perishables.  Of course, if no one is around and the stores are open . . .

         In some ways this is way too much fun.  I can shop without anyone nagging me or looking over my shoulder.  I don’t have to stand in line.  I don’t have to pay! The downside is I don’t have anyone I can tell about it either.  Funny, I don’t really remember other people.  I mean my boss, my co-workers, friends.  That’s silly.  Isn’t it?  My boss was Mr . . . Ms . . .  I must have a concussion.  That would explain a lot. I must have fallen out of bed when the earthquake, or whatever it was, happened and that’s why I can’t remember things.  Whew, good explanation.  Life is easier when it makes sense.  Or at least enough sense that I can understand it.  I wonder if I could change my apartment? If no one is around, who is going to complain? Definitely ground floor, no elevator.  I guess air conditioning is not going to be an option, or heat.  That could be a problem. The temperature is pretty comfortable.  Not too hot, not too cold. Weird, there isn’t even a breeze.  I feel very . . .safe? I wonder what happened?

* * * * * * *

         It has been a couple of days since I wrote in my journal.  I guess I should try and write everything down so I can attempt to understand what is happening to me.  I found a nice apartment on the ground floor and moved.  It’s near the harbour so I can look out on the water. No boats of course, or rather lots of boats, no one in them.  This place is strange, there are no pictures or clothes, no personal items at all.  It’s almost as if it was just sitting here waiting for me to come looking for it.  It’s exactly what I would have wished for; lots of windows, big kitchen, big bedroom.  There are no lights of course.  I guess nothing is going to work until someone figures out what happened and fixes it. I know I am not alone, there just isn’t anyone near me.

         I had a funny dream last night.  Not ha ha funny. but odd funny.  Someone was looking over me, perhaps trying to help? I was in a lot of pain and then the pain stopped, just stopped.  Dreams are supposed to mean something.  As if your subconscious is trying to sort things out.  If that is the case then maybe it was God looking down at me wanting to help.  The pain could be the confusion I feel at not being able to find anyone or explain what has happened.  The pain went away which could mean I will find someone to explain everything to me.  There is an easy answer to all of this.  I will find a library and get a book on dreams.  Books still exist outside of computers.  See, now if we relied solely on computers our world would cease to exist.  No electricity, no computers.  Score one for low tech.

         I found a supermarket and brought back lots of bottled water and crackers and stuff that won’t rot.  Naturally that means mostly junk food.  I will eat the fresh stuff as long as it lasts and then I’ll have to think of something else.  People survived quite well before refrigeration and microwaves.  I’ll look for a book on early settlers while I’m in the library.  I should start making a list of all of the stuff I need.  Eventually I’ll need blankets, but not yet.  I have to find a hardware store, a camping store – a propane stove, then I can have hot stuff.

         When you think about it, it’s not so bad.  I have food, not high class, but edible.  I have water, I have a roof over my head, I can walk around naked if I want to.  Okay maybe not naked.  I can read for as long as I want to, I don’t have to share the bathroom.  Interesting device still flushes, just uses lots of water.  I don’t really miss television, or subways, or morning rush hour, or . . . I miss people.

 * * * * * * *

         I am going to get myself into shape.  I have decided that I have to have something to do that does not involve pampering myself.  Pampering is only nice for a few days.  I am going to do this.  I will walk for two hours each day, I will do fifty sit-ups, I will . . . Who do I think I’m kidding?  I am lazy by nature.  The only walking I’m going to do is to the store and back.

         I wonder why I never tried to get my car to run.  Silly.  That concussion must have knocked too many marbles loose.  One doesn’t need electricity to run a car.  But you can’t gas one up at the pumps without electricity.  There are lots of cars around, I can siphon gas from them to put into mine.  I need to find a book that tells me how to siphon gas.  I am going to need a cart to carry all these books back to my apartment.  Maybe I’ll just read them there and make notes on what information I need.  So now I need some pens and some paper.  This list is getting long.

         People are funny.  When they are around you day in and day out all you want is to be left alone.  What is it they say ‘be careful what you wish for, you may get it’?  Well, I got it.  I am alone.  I have the necessities of life, but I have no life.  I am alive but I am not living.  It has been long enough now that I am sure there is no one else left.  I look out on this beautiful world and I am ashamed.  We take so much for granted.  We abuse what we have and then cry foul when it is taken from us.  Maybe we don’t deserve this paradise we were given.  Maybe our time here is over.

It would be interesting to know how future scientists will explain what happened to Homo sapiens.  They won’t be able to use the meteor theory.  I hope people are remembered for the beauty that does exist, did exist.  The paintings, the sculptures.  If the buildings survive, then we as a people will survive in our literature, our galleries, and our homes.  Our stay here was over too quickly but maybe we didn’t mature as fast as our technology.  That was the mistake.  We became slaves to the very things we invented to make our lives easier.  But we were good.  I hope who ever occupies this world next will learn from our mistakes and remember us for what we were at the core.  As a people we were fallible but essentially good.

         I’m tired now.  I have written for too long, and thought too much. Yes, I will go to sleep now. Maybe the pain will go away again tonight.

* * * * * * *

         “The explosion that occurred last week in a downtown apartment building is believed to have been caused by a faulty furnace.  The final victim died this evening.  She was a secretary with Ellerton and Fitch, a prominent investment firm.  One of the partners, Mr. Robert Ellerton stated that Ms. Evans was the best secretary he had ever worked with and that she will be missed.  Ms. Evans died at 8:07.  In other news . . .”

         The nurse gently pulled a sheet over Ana Elizabeth’s head.  Perhaps now she was in a better place.

The End

On Fertile Ground

When I first heard the words Ground and Fertile together my mind went to flowers and produce, trees and foodstuffs.  Then I got it. We are the Ground, more specifically our minds. If as children we learn that it is acceptable, even necessary, to question then we will grow up to have open minds. An open mind is a fertile one.  And a fertile mind will allow ideas to germinate.

Progress happens through hard work yes but also through tenacity, perseverance and I believe a certain amount of luck.  Sometimes, plain dumb luck.  Let’s face it we have nearly destroyed ourselves many times. But we didn’t, fortunately. So, we continue to evolve.  We need forward thinkers, people who think outside the box. We need to face our fears, not to progress in spite of them but to use them. Our fears protect us and they inspire us.

We can’t all be movers and shakers. We can’t all be instruments of change. Or can we? Anyone who reads me regularly knows that I am a big believer in the Domino Effect. For those of you who are new to me, please allow me to explain. When you smile at someone on the street for no reason other than it is a beautiful day you may cause that person you meet to smile at another and then that person smiles at another and somewhere along the line someone who is feeling terribly down decides that life is worth living. Does this really happen?  I believe it could.

When I write these posts it is often because of things I have heard or seen that inspires me. It makes me want to ask questions, to understand something. Often it is other blogs I read or comment on that cause my mind to take perhaps another path. I am inspired by life. That sounds terribly simplistic but it really is that simple.

The people that enable our world to move forward or those that create are often inspired by things they may not even remember. Comments that were made when they were children can steer them towards a path they had not thought of before. Part of a casual conversation overheard on the street, or read briefly somewhere may trigger an idea.  We are constantly affected by those around us, by the sights and sounds of life. Sometimes we are aware of it and sometimes we are not but we are constantly being touched. And changed.

I would be very careful of what you say in public or what you write because it may be read by someone who then mentions it at a dinner party and then someone has the idea that . . .  Or perhaps the next great step forward in our evolution may simply have been stimulated by the ravings of a madman. Does it make you wonder?

One Red Door

Anya lay not sleeping,

She knew her time was near,

Silently she remembered ,

And shed a single tear.

 

It was very long ago,

When she had made a choice.

In a land so far away,

Before she had a voice.

 

Mys-tery was in the air,

The scent of flowers strong.

There was music everywhere,

A lilting gentle song.

 

She felt that she was beckoned,

Requested to be here.

So she stood before a door,

Trembling in her fear.

 

Within a moment that had passed,

And then she felt at peace.

Now she had a choice to make,

But would her life then cease?

 

“I did not have the courage,

To take the path I should.

And so I turned away that day,

And lived the life I could.”

 

Now the time had come again,

She knew what she should do.

All it took was just the will,

And she could walk right through.

 

Through the doors beyond the pale,

Are wonders from within.

If you have a willingness,

A new life can begin.

 

 

 

This door was painted by my dear friend JA from a photograph by ES.