Tag Archives: choices

Identity

What is it that makes me, well, me? What is it that makes you, you? We all have a built-in identity based on how we look, how we speak, how we act. I am a Canadian. I was born in Canada X number of years ago. You really didn’t think I was gonna tell you my age? Silly you! But as such, I am perceived by others to have certain… traits. It is expected that I will be polite. Always saying “I am sorry” and “eh” are common phrases that are attributed to a Canadians.  They are attributed because they are often said. (Most of us try to get away from the “eh” because it is, well, irritating.) Assuming we are polite is not a bad quality to have.

Canada is the second largest country geographically and yet our population puts us at the 40th. Big country, few people. I think that goes a long way into determining our character. We have a great sense of humour and love to laugh at ourselves. We have more lakes than in the rest of the world combined and we make a great friend. We are loyal and tenacious. But we’re not perfect. We will be the first to admit that. I like being Canadian. I like the fact that the rest of the world likes me because I am Canadian. But I am sure there are those out there who do not. And I’m OK with that.

But there is so much more to one’s character then where you were born. We develop as we evolve as people. I was lucky to have had an idyllic childhood, a carefree youth and, so far, a useful adulthood. I have had adventures and friendships, sorrows and ecstasies. All of these have helped form my character. And it is still forming. With luck, it will be until the day I die. And I have no plans for that anytime soon! I’m just sayin . . .

Perhaps the most important component to one’s character is time. Time allows us to grow, to experience to become the person we are meant to be. It is sad when some are not given the time to become more. With time we can learn, we can touch, taste, hear, see, hypothesize. What we do with those experiences that we have gained over time is what will define our character.

And the final piece to the jigsaw puzzle that is us is, us. We choose. We can choose to let the good and the bad define us or we can make that choice ourselves. That perhaps is the strongest aspect of our identity.

Give Me Strength

 

Lord give me strength,

Don’t leave me alone!

I’m waiting for signs,

I’m right by the phone!

 

I think I am good,

I do as I’m told.

That bit with the baker,

Just means I’m not old.

 

I know what you think,

I should not have said.

But seriously Lord,

I just wanted bread!

 

Not one of the 10,

Have I seriously broken.

But in moments of stress,

Number three have I spoken.

 

One is intact and 5 is a given,

I try number 4 each Sunday I do!

But sleep is the devil,

If only you knew.

 

My Lord is my Saviour,

He waits by my side.

When shopping for shoes,

I swear He does hide!

 

Each morning and night,

I kneel down in prayer.

I say all the words,

You taught me to share.

 

But now is the time,

Dear Lord that I ask.

Forgiveness in truth,

For a despicable task.

 

My last nerve did he break,

And I killed without thought.

That mosquito is dead,

Your words I forgot.

 

Stop laughing Dear Lord,

There’s a mess on my floor!

Your mask it is slipping

And I think that you swore!

 

 

“Asleep at the Wheel”

 

Hector heaved a very big sigh and squirmed a little.  Well, he had asked for it.  He had wanted to go to this conference and now he understood why there hadn’t been much opposition. Three days in close proximity to 200 people who only wanted to talk about their product, their complaints, their . . .   He had thought that these things were to exchange ideas and commiserate with individuals who had been through the same obstacles, the same hurdles that he had.  Instead, it was just a long weekend to bitch, drink too much, eat too much and complain about everything.

Well, it was over, over and done with.  It would definitely be the last time Hector Alonso Salvatan ever volunteered for that kind of duty.  He had heard that conferences were fun, informative.  Of course, he had heard that from colleagues who were mysteriously unable to attend this particular conference.

He smiled.  It had been a learning experience and now he was safely ensconced in his car and headed home.  Home to Maria, Emily and the little name-sake, the heir apparent: Hector junior.  Hector senior smiled.  He was proud of his little family.  His little angel of 6 going on 26.  She was so caught up in fashion it was creepy.  What on earth could be fashionable about being 6 years old?

Hmmmm. Comfortable, that’s what I am, thought Hector, comfortable. So very comfortable.  He smiled again and slowly his comfort eased his eyelids closer and closer together, until only a small slit remained to tell his weary body how to drive.

Whoa! Shit! Okay, okay! I’m okay! Damn!  With a jolt Hector roused himself from the stupor that had threatened to careen his weary body into the ditch.  That was not good, that was really stupid.  Okay, how would that have looked? Christ! Salesman of the Year Falls Asleep At The Wheel.  Great headline.  Sleeping on the job.  Okay that is not going to happen again.

When his heart rate returned to a more reasonable rhythm, Hector tried to rationalize what had just happened.  He knew he shouldn’t have tried to drive home tonight.  It was past midnight and he had not had much sleep in the last three nights.  First, he had worried about his presentation at the conference and then there was just too much noise to actually sleep. He wanted to go home.  Sheesh thought Hector, I sound like a child.

With the return of calmness also came the return of complacency.  Once again, the comfortable car seat and the hypnotic thrump, thrump, thrump of the tires on the road worked their magic.  His eyelids became heavier, and heavier, his chin slowly arched towards his chest and his breathing became evenly spaced and quiet.  This time differed from the first in the distance the car was able to travel in a straight line.  The road didn’t curve for several hundred yards and as a result Hector’s car gave no outward sign that anything was wrong, at least not for several seconds.

**********************

When he awoke Hector was confused.  It was dark; his headlights didn’t seem to be working.  He was also uncomfortable, he felt like he was sitting on an angle and he was wet.  Why was he sitting in the water on an angle? He couldn’t remember, he couldn’t think.  His world was closing in on him and his mind desperately wanted to panic.

Hector squeezed his hands together forcing his fingernails into the palms of his hands and began to recite Santa’s reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, . . . . Prancer, damn it . . . ,Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Bashful and Sneezy.  With that he started to chuckle. An almost hysterical laughter threatened to erupt, but he forced it back down.  “I will NOT PANIC . . . I will NOT panic . . . I WILL not panic. . . I will not panic.  As he said the words out loud Hector began to regain his composure.

As his mind cleared, he started to understand with horrific clarity just what had happened.  He had fallen asleep at the wheel of his car and as a result he had driven off the road.  It was a secondary road and not well traveled. He had believed that it would take at least an hour off his six-hour drive home.  Now it looked as if that decision was going to cost him a whole lot more than an hour.

He needed to take stock of the situation.  He didn’t know how long he had been unconscious but the darkness was becoming a little less intense.  He could almost make out shapes.  It appeared that his car was covered with shrubbery, small trees perhaps that had broken off as he plunged down an embankment?

Once again Hector paused and tried to understand what was happening. He was alive, that was important.  He didn’t appear to be too badly injured, that was equally important. His body did ache in unusual places but that was to be expected in a car crash.  The car . . . it did seem to be in one piece, but Hector now discovered that he couldn’t swivel around to see out the back window.  In fact, his body didn’t seem to want to do anything he asked of it. His arms worked, a little, and there was no pain.  Actually, there was little feeling, at all.

Just beneath the surface of this otherwise intelligent man bubbled feelings and emotions that threatened to overcome him. He knew that panic killed more people than actual injuries did, he would not be one of those statistics.  He would not.  Maria, he would concentrate on her face, and Emily and Little Hector.  He wanted to see them graduate and get married and . . . .  Hector gave his head a shake.  Think positively and you will get out of this situation.  You always do.

**************************

With a jolt our hero realized that he had been asleep, again.  His eyes felt gritty and there was a nasty taste in his mouth. He tried to wipe the sleep from his eyes and only succeeded in slapping his nose.  Confused Hector looked down.  The light was filtering into the car and he could now make out more images and understand what he was seeing. He was wet.  Now he understood why and why he felt little pain.  Just about where Hector thought his pelvic bone resided there was a tree branch sticking out, or maybe it was an actual tree.  It had leaves and rough bark.  He could even see a few ants furiously traipsing back and forth.  He idly wondered why he did not itch and then smiled.  Little Hector would think this was so cool.

In the sporadic light he could also make out a pool of water that seemed to cover most of the front seats and the floor. With growing horror Hector realized that while it was indeed wet it was not water, it was blood.  Just at that moment the demons that lurk deep inside every one of us broke loose of their bonds and overwhelmed this mild-mannered salesman. If any person had been nearby, they would have been terrified to hear the blood curdling screams that seemed to split the air. Birds took to the sky in panicked flocks,  and deer quickly left to seek other feeding grounds.  Hector was alone, truly alone.

For each of us time passes in the details of our lives.  We get out of bed; we go to work.  We have tasks that we perform each day, some personal and intimate, others dictated by the requests of another.  But the one thing we all have in common is that we do things.

Hector did nothing.  He slept, he cried, he ranted, he screamed and he thought. He thought about himself, his family, his co-workers and he talked.  He talked to himself and he talked to God.  He didn’t try to blame anyone else for his predicament, it was his fault alone, he knew that.  He wondered how he would be remembered. Would it be as the idiot that got himself killed or the unlucky man with the misfortune to die alone.  He didn’t want to be forgotten. That’s what he wanted out of this life: to be remembered.  If it had to end this way then he wanted someone to benefit from this lesson that he had learned too late.

The sun slowly succumbed to the growing darkness.  As the moon rose in its gentle arc the creatures of the night ventured forth to feed and to investigate the strange metal beast that had intruded into their world. Some were able to touch the beast and taste its hard, cold flesh only to be frightened away by the strange noises from within.  Over time the noises became weaker until the cold beast no longer spoke. And over time the creatures from the night and those who walk by day, no longer cared about the stranger.  They had their own lives to live and to die as time inexorably lumbered on.

***********

“Hey Hector, wake up man, you gonna let them get away with that!”

Slowly Hector once again struggled towards a conscious state and was startled by what he found there: he was in a chair in the lobby of the hotel and a rather drunk, dishevelled behemoth was excitedly spewing spittle in his face.

It was a dream!  He was alive!  He hadn’t left for home as planned. He laughed out loud and threatened to kiss the surprised behemoth. “I’m ALIVE.”   He didn’t stop to explain his actions as he bolted for his room and a phone.  He was going to call Maria and tell her how much he loved her and the kids and then he was going to get at least 8 hours sleep before he drove home on the very busy main roads.

****************

“A Boy Scout troupe today found the body of Edward Hayes, 54, who had been missing for 5 months.  The search for Mr. Hayes had been concentrated on the main roads it was believed he would have travelled between his home and a conference he had been attending.  Unfortunately, it now appears that Mr. Hayes had been travelling a little used secondary highway.  It is believed he fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the road into a deep ravine.  No foul play is suspected. Due to the steep embankment and the abundant underbrush the car was virtually invisible from the road.”

“In other news . . . .”

Weed Killer

The seeds have been planted,

They are starting to grow.

What will develop,

What will they bestow

 

Will the seeds become flowers,

That mean love and respect?

Or will they be weeds,

Their job to deflect?

 

Bigotry and avarice,

Can choke out a life.

If allowed to ferment,

There’ll be nothing but strife.

 

Hatred and ignorance,

Will kill kindness and joy.

We must be vigilant,

Our weapons deploy.

 

We have the tools,

To protect what is good.

All that it takes,

Is to defend as we should.

 

Knowledge protects,

And keeps us secure.

All that remains,

Is for us to endure.

 

 

This was inspired by a post by Frank at beachwalkreflections.wordpress.com.  Check him out, you won’t be disappointed.

In a Rush

Frank over at beachwalkreflections.wordpress.com has constantly been inspiring me, enticingly me, compelling me to think. I love it. A recent post of his did just that.  It is called Rush. In its simplest terms it’s about how we as a species always seem to be in a rush. Ain’t it the truth?

It made me think of a story that my mother used to tell me about how I was born. It seems I was in a hurry even then. My mother had been taken to the hospital by my father and the doctor on duty told them that it would be hours before I was born, I was a third child, so my father could continue onto his business event. My mother would be fine. Shortly after my father left, my mother’s doctor came in, took one look at my mother and basically said ‘this woman is about to have a child on the floor!’

We laughed about it. My mother always maintained that if the doctor had not been standing exactly where he was when I literally popped out, I would’ve been smashed against the far wall. And that laid the foundation for my personality. I’ve always been in a rush. I was in a hurry to grow tall enough so that my feet would touch the floor when I sat on a chair. I was in a hurry to grow up so that I could wear make-up, kiss boys, go to university, get a job… I was impatient. I always seemed to do my best work when I was under a time crunch, I loved deadlines. I would often wait until the last minute to do an essay or project because I loved that thrill of near panic. Diamonds are formed under pressure. Yep, I am an original.

That is not to say that I missed my life as it whizzed by.  I savoured my adventures, my relationships, my life. I just did it in second gear. And then I was diagnosed with MS. Talk about an eye-opener. Not only was I forced to slow down, I was forced to stop. You know what happens in a car when you stomp on the brakes. Everything becomes topsy-turvy until it finally settles. That is exactly what happened to me. It took me several years to adjust to a slower speed and even to stopping. But I take the time to enjoy it now. I still love deadlines. I still love the thrill of getting something done just before it’s due. I love working on my blog the day before I’m expected to post something just because it’s exhilarating.

And while my body may have slowed down to a comfortable crawl, my mind is still working in overdrive. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

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.

 

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.

Please

Please is such,

A simple word,

When it said,

And when it’s heard.

 

It is so easy,

To be kind.

I swear to you,

No one will mind.

 

And if you plan,

To be that way,

Then just perhaps,

It’ll make your day.

 

Beam a smile,

Towards another,

And in return,

He’ll be your brother.

 

If it’s done,

With studied ease,

The world will change,

If we say please

Midnight Snack

On the way to the kitchen,

I felt a pang of despair.

The shopping wasn’t done,

The food wasn’t there!

 

The growling continued,

It was really quite loud.

I was worried the neighbours,

Would think it’s a crowd!

 

The fridge was near empty,

And the cupboards were too.

A box of dog biscuits,

Add an egg that was blue?

 

An emergency in the making,

Is this 2 AM tryst.

I really am hungry,

My dinner I missed!

 

My eyes are growing sleepy,

My hunger can wait.

I must put my head down,

For an hour or eight.

 

I’ll have dreams of some bacon,

Some eggs and some toast.

My mind will be satiated,

With eating engrossed.

 

Then in just a few hours,

I shall be replete.

My hunger assuaged,

The crisis complete.

 

 

The item above is a picture of Monkey Bread. It is a wonderful, sweet, delectable 2 AM snack. And I speak from experience.

Monkey Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/2cup granulated sugar
  • 1teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2cans (16.3 oz) refrigerated Biscuits (8 Count)
  • 1/2cup chopped walnuts, if desired
  • 1/2cup raisins, if desired
  • 1cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4cup butter or margarine, melted

Directions

Heat oven according to the biscuit package. Generously grease 1 pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large 1-gallon plastic food storage bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces. Sprinkle any remaining sugar over biscuits.

In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces. 

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Loosen edges of pan with metal spatula. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; replacing any biscuit pieces and caramel from pan. Pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

 

Perseverance

 

One of the most intriguing attributes of an interesting person, to me anyway, is perseverance. As a species if we had not had this background of grit we would still be in the dark ages. Tenacity, determination, steadfastness. These are all attributes of the people that move this world forward. It’s not about education, it’s not about finances or status, it’s about an unwillingness to make do with mediocrity.

I knew a man with a grade eight education who started his own business and became wildly successful. He had a beautiful family and a beautiful life all because he did not believe it when someone told him ”no”. I have also known people who have been given every opportunity in the world and still never made anything of themselves. When life is too easy there is no incentive to try harder. When life is hard it can be too easy to give in.

When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I was feeling rather sorry for myself. At the time I was using two canes to walk and it was extremely difficult. I spent most my day sitting in a chair looking at a black-and-white TV. (It wasn’t that long ago! It was just a cheap TV.) My mother, never one to mince words, came into my room and crossed her arms. She made a point of saying that I had two choices: I could sit back and be a victim of this horrible disease and wallow in my self-pity or I could get off my back side and make a life for myself through the limitations that I may encounter. Then she looked at her watched, tapped the glass and said you’ve got “15 minutes, go!” Well, I started to laugh and then I actually understood what she was saying:  we all have choices to make.

Life is not easy. We all face challenges, some severe and some minor. Sometimes we need to not be brave. Sometimes we need to wallow in self-pity and in misery. We need to cry and rant and get it out of our system. Just don’t stay in that wallow. I get depressed. I get miserable. But I don’t stay there. I put on a movie that I know is going to make me sob uncontrollably and then I clean myself up and move on. I’ve made the choice to have a life. I worked for 30 years at a great police department. I travelled; I took a cruise. I worked my life around my MS and I have no regrets.