Tag Archives: perception

“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 . . . .”

Context

“I’m going to kill him!” “I will end her!” “I’m going to beat you to a pulp!”

Have you ever said these words? Or perhaps something similar but equally violent or aggressive? Truth of the matter is we all say things that we would never put into effect. Ask anyone who has ever offered to eat their hat if they would really do it. Just because somebody in a fit of anger spouts the words:  “I’m going to kill you!” does not mean they are going to actually end your life. And yet.

Context. It’s all about context. People often speak without truly thinking about what they are going to say. That could be 98% of the time. It is so easy to get provoked about something and then use words that perhaps were inappropriate at the time. I once overheard a conversation on the street, I wasn’t intentional listening but they were quite loud and they were talking about murder. Now I am by nature a curious soul so I followed. I wanted to hear more. I also wondered if I should put my cell phone on record, you know, evidence. Ha ha ha! Within a few steps I realized that they were talking about killing a plant. Or rather someone who was taking care of her plants killed them by overwatering them. It’s all about context. She was talking about flora and I’m thinking about dead bodies. Tells you where my mind goes.

I love it when I hear people say they are so hungry they could eat a whole cow! Do they know how big a cow is?  It’s just another example of how people don’t really mean what they say. In context, they’re just very, very hungry. OK. So much of our humour comes from comments made out of context or misspoken words and phrases. We are funny when we’re riled.  And good comedians know it.

Now, speaking without thinking isn’t always a bad thing. It’s amazing how much honesty is reflected in those impromptu moments. Definitely not a bad thing but not always a good thing either. Honesty is to be respected and used judiciously. When you hear a word that someone else speaks, your mind may conjure up a different context than what was meant. I once had a conversation with an acquaintance about canoeing. The topic immediately puts me in Algonquin Park in northern Ontario with beautiful clear skies, brilliant stars and peace. He thinks about regattas with hordes of people and food and booze. Two totally different situation. We did eventually come to a consensus and we laughed about it. Context. It isn’t always easy to know what it is.

Oops, my straitjacket is slipping…

A blast from my past.  First published in September 2017.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

When you look up at the stars at night do you feel homesick?  Okay, okay, bad joke.  Do you know once upon a time I laughed uproariously at that joke.  I ran around and told all my preteen friends.  Yes, it’s that old.  And so am I.

As we age our funny bone seems to migrate.  For some people it ends up around the gluteus maximus.  For others humour becomes more cerebral.  I don’t know the equation to what’s funny.  I don’t even know what makes me laugh until I am actually laughing.  When was the last time you laughed so hard there were tears running down your face?  Do you remember the knee slapping, rib-tickling, gut-wrenching guffaws you used to hear when a group of people got together to watch a comedy film?  I don’t, at least not recently.  The last time I had one of those all-encompassing, falling on the floor cackles was watching an old movie.

The movie was ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.  I don’t remember the movie.  I don’t even know if it was actually a comedy.  What I do remember is my boyfriend and I beating on the furniture.  We were laughing so hard we were crying.  I remember him falling on the floor and not able to catch his breath.  But I don’t remember the movie.  I remember that there was a series but it appeared to be about teenage angst (and vampire slaying) I wasn’t interested.  I had enough of that when I was a teenager! (The angst not the slaying!) Don’t get me wrong I enjoy comedy.  I’ve been known to crack a smile and even show teeth.  I just haven’t had a really good belly laugh in a very long time.

Laughter is a universal language.  It crosses borders and brings people together.  It can also alienate people and cause others to commit various forms of harm.  Of course, that in itself can be funny!  But I digress.  I don’t know of any culture that doesn’t have some form of laughter.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could laugh more and shoot less?  We spend so much of our time behaving according to the dictates of society that when we let loose it can be epic!  Find the time to laugh.  A really good guffaw exercises the whole body!

 

 

Rose Coloured Glasses

When we all started wearing masks there was an issue for people who wore glasses. They fogged up. Yes, it can be rectified but it takes a little thought and I was feeling lazy. My glasses are for distance so I don’t wear them all the time. I decided to invest in a pair of sunglasses that were non-prescription. I could wear them further down my nose so there was no fogging involved. I nipped into the pharmacy and bought an inexpensive pair. Well, I got more than I paid for.

We’ve all heard about looking through rose-coloured glasses at the world. It means we see the good not the bad but it’s not necessarily considered a good thing.  The implication is that we’re living in a fantasy world. And yes, sometimes I am! Seriously, with the world we’re living in right now! But I digress. When I looked through my glasses the world wasn’t rose-colored, more sepia toned and it made me wonder…

People really do see what they want to see. We judge based on our history, how we have been treated and sometimes it’s not all good. When I see a group of young men laughing and walking down the street, I don’t automatically think they’re up to no good. In my world they’re just a bunch of kids out having a good time. Because I have never experienced any of the horrors that others have. That colours my thinking. And the way I look at the world.

I have been told that I wear rose-coloured glasses because I look for the positive. I may be aware of the negative but I don’t have to fixate on it. I will try to correct it if I can but I don’t spend my life worrying about it.  That is an action that has no value. Why would anybody want to focus on it?

We live in trying times. These are the moments that can make us or break us.  Ordinary heroes are standing next to each other performing extraordinary acts of kindness.  In the beginning of this pandemic, we pulled together, we sang from our balconies and we cared about each other. Now apathy has crept in and we are trying to return to a past that no longer exists. Covid is here to stay. So are we. How we manage to coexist remains to be seen. I’m counting on us. All of us.

A Hook

A simple little hook,

Hangs upon the wall.

There to do its duty,

So, the coats won’t fall.

 

Perhaps it not that simple,

The duty it performs.

Could it be more complicated,

Perhaps a few reforms?

 

What if it’s a symbol,

To show us what we need?

Be support to another,

Could that be our creed?

 

Look upon this simple hook,

As it looks back at you.

Have you done all that you could?

All that you should do?

 

Time upon the earth is short.

But we can leave a mark,

Walk with pride throughout your life,

And be another’s spark.

 

Are You a Reason?

I was sitting back in my chair the other day with my mind wandering. It should not be allowed out unsupervised but this day it was. I remembered a conversation I had had over lunch with a dear friend many years ago. We had been laughing about something that I do not recall and he slapped the table and said with a grin, “men need a place, women need a reason”. I burst out laughing, hysterically.

Now, if you understood what he meant then shame on you! Welcome to my world. If you didn’t understand then your mother raised you right. And you have so much to learn. It got me thinking about reason. Are you a reason? Are you a reason that someone smiles first thing in the morning? Are you the reason people want to come to work because they enjoy what they do and who they do it with? Or are you the reason someone is crying into their pillow at night? What’s the reason someone chooses a different career path?

We never truly know or understand what effect we have on other people but if we go out of our way to be kind and to be considerate, the impact we have on others will be positive. Should be positive. Some people don’t like positivity and will go out of their way to be negative. Perhaps then we should simply try harder. Don’t dismiss someone because you don’t agree with them or they don’t understand you. Find another way. Find other actions. Communicate. Hear their side, their opinion. Do you want them to listen to you? Then show them respect by listening to them.

There is so much in this world that we do not understand and we cannot control. Some of that is the natural world that hopefully will survive us but some of it is created by people. So many untenable situations are created because of a need or a greed.  What we can control is our reaction to it all. We need to remember that we are not alone on the little blue planet. Not only do we share this world with 8 billion other people, we also share it with 1 trillion other creatures. OK that is not a scientific number but it’s a big one.

When you go about your day try to think, try to reason. Try to be the reason for positivity around you.  All it takes is a little thought and a little will.

The Building’s Listening

This building has a story

Of ups and downs and love gone wrong

Of broken dreams and silly pranks

A childhood fondly lived.

But broken windows and sagging doors

Don’t hide another truth,

Illicit deeds and crimes concocted

Guns and knives and bloody wounds

Death has lingered here.

But now the future has a stake

Windows broken can be repaired

The doors and walls and ceilings too

And then the fun begins,

The floors and windows once again

Will hear the children laugh.

Pouring rains and winter storms

Are not welcome here.

Come inside and sit a spell

Our tale is still being written

This building’s taking notes.

 

Taking Up Space

I was fascinated recently watching a bug outside my window. It was furiously insistent on doing . . . something. I don’t know what kind of bug it was, it had wings and was far enough away that I couldn’t make out any details. Think of a really big ant with wings. And then it dawned on me that this tiny insignificant insect was part of the whole picture. It wasn’t insignificant, it had a role to play. As do I. As do you.

Since the beginning of sentient thought we have questioned our existence. Life is the ability to reproduce, to grow.  Existence is a fact or state of living. But of course, it is so much more than that. In its simplest form to live one must only breathe.  To have a life, that’s a tad more complicated. Plants and animals in all forms reproduce but humans have the capacity to enhance that life. Reproducing is biological, the ability to love is chemical, what to do with those two can be magical.

We all take up space on this tiny blue ball floating in a vacuum.  What we do with that space is what defines us. We are alive but living is what we do with that life. Some people have made incredible contributions to the whole while others have been quietly in the background. And still others believe they have made no contribution at all and yet I disagree. That small insignificant bug is part of a chain.  A chain that binds us all together. That insect is as important in the long term as am I. But I’m sure for very different reasons. I like to think that my efforts are significant but perhaps only to me and to those around me.

I remember a news story many, many years ago about a town in, I think, Australia where a neighbourhood was overrun by very loud birds. People were irritated at being woken up too early by these annoying creatures. So, they set about to relocate or eradicate them. They did. And shortly thereafter there was an incredible influx of poisonous snakes. What they didn’t take into consideration was the fact that these annoying birds’ favourite snack was said poisonous snake.

It is the domino effect all over again. I’m not the one that has to make the miraculous discovery but if my words inspire someone who then inspires someone who then inspires someone . . . you get my drift. My comment, my smile at stranger might be one of the pieces of the chain. No person, no insect no comment is insignificant. We all take up the right amount of space at the right time.

What did I forget?

I know what I remember

It says so on this card

That really is quite easy

The other stuff is hard!

 

There is a moon round Jupiter

Or maybe that’s the sun

You see I can’t remember

I wonder what I’ve done!

 

Years ago I knew the truth

The reasons they put forth

Now the problem surely is

My thinking has gone north!

 

Silly me that phrase is wrong

It really should be south

I hear the stuff that’s spoken

All by word of mouth!

 

Now I wonder what I meant

What I had to say

It all is going sideways

It seems to every day!

 

The things that I remember

Are written on a card

It makes my life so easy

When others find it hard!

 

Was My Miniature Poodle Gay?

This is actually a blast from my past. It was originally posted in August 2017. He made me smile then and I hope he makes you smile now. Enquiring minds wanted to know…

I was five years old when Beau Brummel joined our merry family.  My parents had been promising my brother, sister and I that we could get a dog one day.  One Sunday afternoon we were out for a drive (I guess it was a way to stimulate curiosity in us young’uns.)  We stopped for lunch a few towns over from where we lived.  After eating, my siblings left the table only to return a few moments later with an announcement:  There was a kennel in town. (They had checked the phonebook.) (For those of you too young to remember payphones, they were in most restaurants and on the street for people to make phone calls without going home.  There were no cells phones or Internet in those days. It was the ‘60s Sigh.)

Busted!  My father had promised.  We came home with an 8 month old, pure bred, champion stock, black, miniature poodle. His front legs had been broken when he was a few days old and had healed incorrectly so his walk was always slightly off.  We never noticed.

Beau ruled. Well, at least us kids.  He played when he wanted to, he cuddled when he wanted to.  And he always looked like he knew better.

Because Beau was of champion stock, breeders wanted to use him as a stud.  My parents agreed. Evidently it didn’t go well.  He didn’t seem to know what to do. The first indication?

About few years later we added another dog to the mix.  A beautiful Chesapeake Bay Retriever, we called her Blue. She idolized Beau. On the last day of school before summer break, both dogs went missing.  Eventually they showed up again and the summer continued as planned until . . .our beautiful Blue was pregnant!

Our first thought was: Beau! You ole dog!  But no. We think he pimped her out to another retriever in the neighbourhood: Blacky, a black lab. The pups were stunning!  I watched them being born. Quite an experience for a child. Beau hovered like a worried godfather. Second indication?

A few days later my brother, Blue and her five puppies left for university.  Beau moped for twenty minutes and then started putting everything back to normal. But he did find a friend.

My best friend lived across the street.  Her father was a hunter and had hunting dogs.  Strictly off limits to curious children.  They also had a male cat.  Rusty was an outdoor cat whose job was to keep the mouse population in decline.  He was very good at his job. We lived just outside a small city surrounded by forests and fields. It was a great place to live.  Rusty was beautiful and affectionate. In those days your animals ran free so chances were good they would meet up.  They did. Beau and Rusty became friends. The two boys met up most days and Beau often invited Rusty into the house for snacks or even a nap.  Third indicator?

A few years later we moved to another province.  Beau never again had a special friend like Rusty. I wonder if they found each other across the Rainbow Bridge?