Tag Archives: perception

Subtext

 

Recently I was watching an old police drama. One character, that was being interviewed, was obfuscating and it dawned on me that it was all about the subtext. Of course, my little brain went wooooh!  My first thought was that kids today don’t understand subtext and then I realized:  that is how our youth speak to each other.  I am also not entirely sure they understand the art of communication. They can actually have complete conversations in 280 characters!  It used to be 140! And yet the average ‘text’ is usually only about 33 characters.  I can’t say ‘hello’ properly in less than 50.  And that is characters not words. When I was a youth, a text was a book, a sub was either a sandwich or a boat and characters were on the screen. Well, not really but those are the first things I think of.

Our language has evolved as our children have evolved. Today’s kids are in many ways much smarter than we ever were. But they are also dumber. Sorry that’s not fair.  But think about it:  how many have lost the ability to read cursive or tell time on an analog clock?  Good manners are no longer common place, good sense is lacking and good courtesy . . .

A proper conversation was fluid and accentuated with gestures and facial reactions, whole body movements. Dialogues today are via texts.  Heads down, eyes focused on a 4 x 6” screen.  And this is while they are sitting next to each other!  There is no sharing of emotions or reactions.  How can you experience the flavour, the intensity of a language if you are alone or unaware?  People who are blind or hearing-impaired use touch or movement to round out their talks.

Today’s conversationalists speak emoji. Teeny, tiny little figures that denote emotion. I think. I don’t really speak emoji. I know if I see a little yellow face with a smile that’s a good thing.  I have seen people use an entire string of these emoji creatures and they’re actually speaking a sentence. Impressive. But like so many languages, I can only speak a few words. But I can fake it really well!

I am afraid to look too far into the future. Will conversations become soundbites and emojis? Or will we regress to a time when people sat over a cup of tea and had long conversations with gestures and substance. I don’t want to spend an hour over lunch discussing some actor’s transcendental metamorphosis while he was grooming his dog. I like a real conversation about life, the world, the future . . .

For at least a little while we are going to have to be inventive in how we have our chats. But I truly hope we do not retreat to the little glass screen but we keep a dialogue going face-to-face even if it is at a distance. That to me is a conversation.

 

The Crocodile

 

A croc was basking

In a summer pond,

Waiting for lunch

To pass by.

 

His eye on the clouds

He suddenly thought,

‘My stomach is grumbling

for pie!’

 

A fish was not right,

An elephant neither,

So all he could do,

Was sigh.

 

Dreaming of a day

When pies could be real,

He continued to stare

At the sky.

 

Remember that croc

And follow your dreams,

All you must do

Is try.

 

Anticipation

 

What a lovely word. Just the way it rolls off your tongue. An- tici-pation.  When I was working, I loved Fridays in anticipation of the weekend. One can see a cheesecake and anticipate the way it is going to roll around your mouth slowly melting, the sweet, succulent goo sliding down your throat.  One can anticipate the touch of a lover or the ending of a good story. It makes me positively tingly when I am anticipating something exciting. And in many ways, everything is exciting. Until it isn’t.

There is another side to anticipation. There is the side that cripples you with fear when anticipating an activity you do not want to be a part of. When I was a young adult I was terrified of crowds. (To some extent I still am.) Ever a resourceful child, I develop strategies to deal with almost every situation. I did my research on popular topics of the day so if it ever came up in conversation I wouldn’t look like an idiot. I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing something stupid. And quite honestly, I have done both, more than once. I am nothing if not consistent.

Research is a strength of mine. And I put it to good use. I also developed phrases, witticisms that I could pull out at a moment’s notice. When people are amused, they are not noticing.  In University I studied Drama and English. It gave me a whole new set of skills that I could use in my subterfuge. And I was good. When I was performing, I would almost throw up before going on stage but once I got there, I could inhabit my alter ego and act with aplomb. I never felt that I was cheating other people, I was protecting myself. I was protecting that six-year-old child who would be dizzy with panic at having to face someone.

I am older now but that child is still buried deep within my psyche. I may appear to be confident and to some extent I think I am. But that fear will always lurk in the back of my mind. And I am not alone. There are others who deal with the same kind of issues:  crippling fears, lack of self-confidence, all-consuming nervousness. But while as a child I felt I was alone; I know now that I am not. And that in itself gives me confidence.

Like so many things we do, if we do it long enough it becomes a habit.  To this day I constantly have conversations in my head about situations that might arise so that I am prepared, just in case. I think we are all afraid of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. We all want to seem positive and clever to other people. Perhaps it can even be seen as an incentive to learn more about what’s going on in the world, to be prepared.  As a child my family all sat around the dinner table and talked. Most of the time I just listened but I also learned. The topics ranged from what happened that day in a 9 year old’s world to the politics of the time.  This continued throughout my life.

We all have a fantasy about being someone else, or being a better version of ourselves.  That is commendable. But that anticipation can be both exciting and terrifying. And that’s what makes it all fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking

What does an elephant think about,

As he stands inside a zoo?

What passes through his mind

As he’s looking back at you?

What does a pigeon think about,

As he soars above the crowds?

Perhaps it just a simple thing,

As he plays amongst the clouds.

A single ant is scurrying,

His job it must be done.

The others they depend on him,

The many and the one.

A crow is thinking, I can tell.

He cocks his head at me.

Is he looking at my lunch?

Does he think it’s free?

Two yellow fish are playing,

Deep beneath the sea.

I wonder what they’re thinking of,

Could it be of me?

A turtle swims beneath the waves,

A carefree life at best.

But then one day he wonders,

What about the rest?

Behind, beside and over there,

Are those we do not know.

But they have thoughts and feelings,

Just like that silly crow.

What does a person think about,

When he looks upon another?

Race and colour notwithstanding,

Could he be my brother?

This crazy world that we call ours,

We’re only tenants here.

If we make nice and play together,

There is no one to fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 . . .

The Gentle Moments

 

The time we have upon this earth,

So fleeting is its nature.

But still we hurry through our lives,

And miss the gentle moments.

They say that we must stop and listen,

To the beating of our hearts.

But heed I say the sound you hear,

Is deeper than a beat.

A gentle moment exists in truth,

It waits for us to notice.

Do not ignore and just pass by,

A precious instant’s near.

So bow your head and listen close,

To more than just your heart.

The sound you hear and wonder at,

Is the depth of inner peace.

Blessings to the world as we celebrate

Canada Day!

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

 

On The Line

 

 

Pretty frilly underwear

For all the world to see

Is hanging on a laundry line

Very clean and free!

 

Now I will not say their mine,

For I must never tell a lie.

Lots of folks are doing it,

Let their knickers face the sky!

 

The wind will whisper up their shorts,

Sun on their tidy whites.

But the really favourite ones,

Are the frilly out of sights!

 

Come on gather round,

You know you really want to.

With social distancing all the rage,

Entertainment is askew!

 

Think of being on that line,

Clean and fresh and free.

Your hair is swaying in the wind,

Your joy for all to see!

 

The Bus Stop

It was a beautiful mid-summer’s day.  It was early enough that most people had not gotten into their cars to start the day.  But one lady was slowly approaching a local bus stop.  Marcella was starting her day the way she did most every day: walking to the bus.  And like every day before this one, she was complaining.

“I am getting too old for this nonsense.” She mumbled to herself.  “Every day I hurry to get to the bus stop just so I can wait.  The bus is always late.  Always!  And I know if I come late then that damn bus will come early!”

Marcella wasn’t a young woman but she didn’t consider herself old just yet.  Yes, she did have sore knees and her feet would swell if the day was hot, but she was not ready to be put out to pasture.  There would be time enough to be old.  For now, she just liked to take advantage of the fact that everyone else thought she was old.  She could complain all she wanted.  People were so polite and considerate.

As she approached her destination, she became suspicious.  Something had changed.  A new bench had been deposited beside the bus shelter.  Marcella was uncomfortable with change so she looked at this new piece of outdoor furniture with distrust.

“Now why would someone put a pretty new bench out here where it can get all wet?” She queried, “kids will be playing on it before you know it and it will get damaged.  Now why would they do something so silly?”

“So that you can be more comfortable while you wait for your bus, you silly old woman!”

Marcella was startled!  She let out a sharp cry and turned around.

“Land sakes!  Beatrice you scared five years off my life!  And you are late!”

Beatrice didn’t respond immediately.  She simply nodded at the first woman and then proceeded to make herself comfortable on the new bench. After a moment’s hesitation Marcella followed suit.  And then the conversation continued.

“I think it’s very nice of them to want us to be comfortable while we wait for their bus.” Beatrice always seemed to find the good in any situation. She was exactly the same age as Marcella but she looked 10 years younger.  People thought the two of them had a strange friendship.  One always saw the good and one always saw the bad.

“Well I think it’s a terrible waste of money.  They should spend that money on buses so that we aren’t always waiting!” True to form Marcella saw the bad. “And think of the trees that died so that our bums could be comfortable.  It is a terrible shame!”

“Oh, I bet this is a green bench.  No trees would have been killed. People are getting smart about that.”

“Beatrice you are going blind, this is not a green bench.  It’s brown. And an ugly brown too.”

“No, no I am not referring to the colour I’m talking about the bench itself.  Nowadays these things are made green.”

Marcella shifted in her seat and stared at her friend.  She knew that both of them were getting older and that sooner or later their mental capacities would begin to alter.  She hadn’t thought that Beatrice had gotten that old.  But now she looked at her very carefully.

“Beatrice what colour is the sky?”

“Well that’s a silly question, its blue.” She turned towards her friend. “Is this a trick question?”

“What colour is the road?”

“Now I know you’re up to something.  The road is grey, just like your hair.  And before you ask, the grass is green.  Now what’s up?”

“Last question.  What colour is the bench we’re sitting on?”

“Well, it’s brown.  What is going on?”

“Hah! You admit it!  This bench is brown!”

“Well of course it’s brown, woman.  Are you blind?”

“A minute ago, you said it was green.”

Beatrice looked at her friend dumbfounded for just a moment.  And then she burst out laughing.  Poor Marcella just looked on, confused.

“Marcella, when some one refers to an item as being green, they are talking about how it was made.  Green items are made by recycling other items.  They are not necessarily referring to the colour.”

The woman in question sat without moving for just a moment.  Then she turned away from her friend and sat up straight facing the road.  She was processing what she had just heard and trying to understand it.

“Are you telling me that this bench my bum is residing on could have been somebody’s deck?  How do you know where this wood has been?  And who has been doing what on it?  It could be filthy!” No sooner were the words out of her mouth then Marcella jumped up and turned around to face the offending bench.

“Oh, you silly old woman!  Sit down!  I don’t care what this bench was in a previous life, now it is comfortable and I can get a load off my feet.  That’s all I care about.”

Begrudgingly Marcella did as instructed, but gingerly.  As she was settling back down on the bench she started to think.

“Do you think there’s any way we could recycle a few people I know?  I can think of something useful I like to make them into:  how about two gorgeous 40-year-olds for one wrinkle 80-year-old?”

As both women started to laugh, they saw the bus.

 

the end

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.