Tag Archives: perception

Paper clips

Today is overcast and cold. We had a snow storm yesterday and there is a significant amount of snow on the ground. I live in a downtown area so it isn’t a pretty, white, pristine snow, it’s the ‘cars just drove over me and spewed exhaust that made me brown’ snow. The last few weeks have been… unsettling. It’s cold but not really cold, it’s not exactly sunny or cloudy, it just seems to be in between everything.  meh.  It’s January and it’s not acting like it. It has made me… unsettled. So, I thought that I would write a post for today that was uplifting and inspiring and… I got nothin’. Plan B: I wondered what the most innocuous thing was that I could write about and I came up with the paper clip. Yep. The ubiquitous and yet rarely noticed device that has been used for hundreds of years to clip paper together. The paper clip.

According to Wikipedia:

The most common type of wire paper clip still in use, the Gem paper clip, was never patented, but it was most likely in production in Britain in the early 1870s by “The Gem Manufacturing Company”,

Nowadays the shape has changed in some. Gotten bigger, gotten smaller. Sometimes they are made of plastic. But I would bet that for the most part there are trillions of small bent wire clips in every office. Years ago, we talked about going paperless in our society but I don’t believe that’s actually a possibility and therefore we will always need to be able to clip paper together. Because we like control. And then I started to wonder about how much like life is that lowly little paper clip.

In order to become useful, little pieces of wire are bent into shapes that function. Aren’t we? We are born into a world knowing nothing and we are shaped by our education and later by our experiences into people that are functional and can contribute to society. Just like that paper clip. There are also those who are perhaps overworked and therefore become useless. Have you ever unbent a paper clip? Of course, then it is great for sticking in teeny tiny holes in our computers to make things reset. So, not all bad. How many times have you taken a handful of paper clips and clipped them together to make a chain or a strange creature. It’s amazing what we can do when we’re bored.

My Bucket List

This is a blast from my past. It was originally written in June 2014 but I think it is still as pertinent today as it was almost 10 years ago.

‘The Bucket List’ was a movie that came out in 2007 with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  It tells the story of two terminally ill men who take a road trip to fulfill their final wishes:  their Bucket List.

It has become quite popular for people to create their own bucket list.  It is a list of things they want to accomplish before they kicked the bucket.  My list, my bucket, is a little different.

In my bucket I’m holding tight to the memories, the emotions, the ideas that made my life as rich as it has been.  When I approach St. Peter at the gates of eternity (hopefully many years from now) I want my bucket to be overflowing with love, with smiles, with humour and yes with remembered tears of sadness that I have journeyed with throughout my life.

I don’t want to complete things and then strike them off the list to move on.  I want the pictures in my mind to be retained until my last breath.  I want to be able to recall my first kiss.  Okay maybe not the first kiss as we were young and stupid.  But I definitely got much better.  I want to remember what it felt like when my father picked me up as a sleeping child to take me to my room.  I want to remember what it felt like when I got my first praise for a short story I had written.  To know that my words could touch another was intoxicating.

I want to remember puppy dog kisses and a kitten’s purr.  I once watched a cow giving birth and many years later I watched the same process with our family dog.  Five incredibly beautiful puppies took their first breath while I watched!  It was exhilarating.  I have watched whales playing a few feet from my boat.  I have caught fish and seen bears in the wild.  I have been to other countries and have experienced a warm welcome.  I have driven through mind numbing storms and joked about it afterwards.  I have been deep in caves hoping that my guide knew the way out.  I have done so much in my life and all of those experiences are in my bucket.  I’m not done yet so I think I’d better get a bigger bucket!

 

 

 

 

Poo Soup   

I am sure I misheard,

The words that you said.

You asked if I’d rather,

Consider you dead?

 

I know that’s not right,

But it’s now in my head.

Such silly old me,

You asked about bread!

 

There’s soup on the menu,

I like that, I do.

What’s on today?

You say that it’s poo?

 

Creamed, you continue,

It’s special you see.

I know this is wrong,

But, with a chaser of pee?

 

This restaurant is new,

With a speciality palate.

I’m trying to grasp,

So, the onion’s a shallot?

 

I long for the day,

When food was a breeze.

A coffee was simple,

And sweets were a tease.

 

Now latte’s are half-fat,

And waste’s on the menu.

I don’t understand,

That food’s now a venue!

 

I’ll just drink my tea,

And snack on a chip.

Maybe I’m asleep,

And this is a trip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People Don’t Change!

I recently heard this statement while I was watching TV and it was said so vehemently that I had to chuckle. Of course we change! I am not the person I was when I was six years old nor I am the person I was when I was 36 years old. Hell, I’m not the same person I was yesterday. People evolve. Hopefully. There are a few Cro-Magnons amongst us. But I digress.

I’ve always believed that people change depending on their situation. There is work mode, friend mode and lover mode. And probably several in between. But we are constantly changing. Education, experience and trauma are just a few of the ways that we can change as people. When my life was changed by an incurable disease, I had to find a way to accept it. I had to change to accommodate all the paraphernalia that went with it. It is that adaptation that has allowed me to continue to be a viable person. Did I change? If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here. Change is inevitable and it should also be welcomed.

However, not all change is for the better. But that must also be embraced. We must find a way to live with the negativity or redirect it. These are easy words to say but so difficult to do. When my life was altered, it did not happen overnight. I was able to foresee what could happen. Of course, I did not believe it. They say to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I was. Mostly. I eventually allowed myself to become who I was meant to be under those circumstances. And I like who I became.

As a child I was afraid of everything, convinced I was an idiot. (The jury is still out on that.) I was also insatiably curious and trusting to a fault. I’m sometimes surprised that I made it to puberty. In my teens I developed ways to deal with my insecurities. I joined the drama department and became someone else when I needed to. Invaluable skills. In my 30s and 40s I perfected those skills and I became comfortable in my skin. But that shy child was always lurking in the background. As I have continued to age, I have discovered a person that I really like. She’s smart, she’s funny and she is fiercely loyal. I like her, I respect her and I enjoy her company. It took me a long time to accept who I am but I got there in the end. That wouldn’t have happened without a great deal of change.

 

 

Once More into the Breach Dear Friends…

Once again we are at the beginning. We have 364 days ahead of us. What to do? What to do? I’ve always liked new. A new year, a new car, a new idea. There is something titillating and anticipatory about it. A new romance can cause flutters in your stomach and pulsating behind your heart. A new job can be stimulating and terrifying in equal measures and that is exciting. New is thrilling. It can also be distressing. We don’t know what the future holds but we do have a hand in forming it. If we are so inclined.

I wanted my first post of the new year to be uplifting and inspiring and yet those two words only happen if we can get past the apathy. Yes, apathy. I think it is one of the greatest dangers that faces the world today. We have become apathetic. It’s not happening to us, so why should we be concerned? If it’s happening to someone else, it’s happening to us. Why don’t people see that?

At the beginning of every new year I make the same declaration. This will be a good year. And I say it confident that it will be. Sometimes it just takes a little extra looking to find the good but it is there. We still have a little blue planet to inhabit because of good people and generations past that have stood the test of time. People today are working to correct the so very many problems that exist. They don’t make the best news stories because, well, people like to look at train wrecks. And we could become that but I am a believer in the strength of community and togetherness. I believe we will survive. It might not always be pretty but then few things start out pretty. However, they can become beautiful, if we allow it.

The last few years have been difficult on so many levels. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Over 6 million people have died. We might have 8 billion people in the world but 6 million is a lot. And it’s still with us. The pandemic, Covid is still active. It is still killing people. Not in the same numbers that it was but it is not gone. And yet people are acting like it is. Yes, we have vaccines now but there are still those people who are vulnerable through no fault of their own. I am one of them. So, I am still embracing my hermit mode. I don’t feel that I’m suffering. But in my way, I am. I am a social person by nature. I love people. I miss hugs. But I know that one day we will all look back and be proud that we survived. Relatively intact.

I will stand behind my declaration: 2023 will be a good year! So dear friends, once more into the breach…

 

Ginger Snaps

I would like to share something a little different today. These are not my quotes. Someone I met here on my blog has been commenting for a while now and I think she happens to be brilliant. Unfortunately, she does not have a blog of her own. It’s a shame because I think she’s wonderful! My opinion. These are her actual words on some of my posts. Please enjoy.

 

Ginger Snaps       (another instalment)

 

From 04 September 2022 on.

Let’s virtually join hands and feel each other’s strength and determination and allow it to power us forward.

Some journeys end with us right back where we started! Very often that’s a good thing.

We have a worse pandemic of “closed minds” than we do of Covid…all over the world.

People with closed minds are the same people with open mouths…they can’t stop talking.

If something is perfect there would be no need to brag…it would be evident to all on its own merits.

Sometimes what we never envisioned turns out to be the best thing ever!

A cracked frame is like a wrinkled face…every crack, every wrinkle, tells an amazing story about us.

If we would just open our eyes to the wonders around us, we would see too.

Cracks, chinks, flaws, wrinkles are all proof of a life lived, and hopefully well lived. They are our beauty marks for all to see.

Nine times out of ten, life is only as hard as we make it!

Instead of fearing what we don’t know, we would be wise to research all we can learn about it. Poof! Fear gone!

Our imaginations need unencumbered space to work their magic! Instructions just muck it all up because they’re somebody else’s instructions and have no place in OUR imagination!

Sometimes a bit of foolishness saves the day and lightens someone’s heavy heart.

Life is too short to not live it as fully as we can.

We humans are great at mucking things up but not at leaving things alone.

 

The Christmas Gift

Jeremy was bereft. His feet were cold and he felt the sniffles coming on. And yet here he was on the evening of December 24 standing in a freezing parking lot looking at dying trees.  Why? Because his family insisted. He desperately wanted to tell the world to piss off and just go and get drunk in some dive bar.

He hadn’t always been like this. He used to love Christmas. But 11 months and 13 days ago everything changed. The woman who completed him, who made him laugh and more importantly who laughed at his jokes, died. Mattie loved Christmas.  She loved life. She loved him. Until some two bit gangsta’ wanna-be thought it would be fun to drag race on a snow-covered icy street. They said she died instantly. But he didn’t. Jeremy wanted to die or to kill, but instead he lived. He felt the tiny box in his pocket. He had planned to ask her that night. That’s why she was out. They were going to meet.

It had been a horrible few months but everyone seemed to have moved on. Except for Jeremy. Here he was standing in the cold with instructions to buy a lovely full tree for Christmas.  He shook his head, was about to turn around and leave when he heard an odd sound.

He looked around the parking lot but he didn’t see anyone. The sound was low, almost frantic. It was a scratching noise with a hiccup and a sigh. It intrigued him. He wanted to know what was making that sound. Jeremy took a step forward and the sound changed. It was a whine now and a huffing noise. It didn’t sound human and yet it didn’t sound animal either.

A back-firing car startled him.  He felt silly. It was probably just the wind stirring up some garbage. Jeremy shrugged his shoulders; he knew he needed to get on with his life. He could never forget her but maybe he should put her where she needed to be:  deep in his heart where she could be protected, her memory safe.  He would start by taking an active roll in this evening’s activities.

In that moment something else happened.  Jeremy seemed to swim up from the abyss of grief he had been living in for almost a year.  His eyes truly opened. He almost smiled. He was looking for a tree. Now there were tall ones and fat ones and ones that looked a little sad. But he couldn’t seem to find one that he thought needed a home with his family. And then something fell on his foot. It wasn’t very heavy, it was very small and it coughed.

Jeremy peered down at his feet trying to see what this thing was.  There wasn’t a great deal of light but he was pretty sure that he saw it move. Without thinking he reached down and scooped up the small ball of something.

The next thing that happened was unexpected. But perhaps given the day, appropriate.  With the small black bundle at eye level Jeremy poked it. It poked back! And then it opened its mouth and emitted a rather large meow. It was a kitten. It was a small, black, cold, abandoned kitten. It curled itself into a ball and started to purr. Jeremy smiled for the first time in almost a year. He tucked the sleeping bundle into his pocket and bought the tree it had been hiding under.

He got his tree. He didn’t haggle the price, he just paid it and chuckled. He was taking home more than a tree.  He had found the Spirit of Christmas hiding in the small body of a kitten under a tree.

 

 

The True Spirit

Mary was angry. Here it was two days before Christmas, she was in a town she didn’t know, a new job she didn’t like, she had no friends and no family close by, and some dirty bum had his hand out looking for money.  And on top of all that, he had the unmitigated gall to be smiling as if he was happy.

Mary wasn’t smiling.  In fact, she was absolutely miserable.  Christmas was just another day on the calendar, it had no real meaning.  People went into stores and spent a ridiculous amount of money on gifts for other people that the other people really didn’t want.  Christmas wasn’t even for the children. It was just another way to teach them about how money makes the world go ‘round.  If you had money, it was a good life.  If you did not then you starved and were miserable, and you should look like you were miserable.

Mary approached the man that she called a bum.  She was frustrated, she was angry, and she needed this person to explain to her how he could be so damn happy! Maybe he was on drugs or maybe he was crazy, but Mary didn’t think so.  Of course, she did drop a twenty-dollar bill into his tin can before she posed her question.

“Are you alright? You are sitting here on a cold sidewalk asking for money.  All around you is obscene wealth.  How can you sit there and smile when you have nothing and so many people around you are spending money like it is water and on frivolous things? You look like you need food and these people are buying toys for people who really don’t want them.  How can you sit there and smile? I’ve seen you everyday for the last week and you smile everyday, you wish people a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or Happy Kwanza and I don’t understand how you can actually be happy.”

At this point Mary was almost in tears.  She felt so alone and so unloved that she felt jealous of this destitute individual.  She wanted to shake him to make him see what an awful place the world was but she didn’t. What she did do was pause for a breath and what she saw then took that breath away.

Just a moment before she had been looking at a dirty bum and now, he had taken on a dignity that belied her original perception.  He sat up straighter and his smile became wider.  Even his eyes seemed to twinkle with a secret knowledge. There was a beauty to his face that she had not noticed before. His voice, when he spoke, was strong and melodic.  The words he spoke were the truth.

“But I have everything.  Someone gave me a coat to keep me warm.  He gave me the gift of warmth. People stop and give me their spare change, a cup of coffee, or a sandwich. A small child gave me a penny.  A penny to a small child is like a million dollars to a billionaire. A beautiful woman gave me her scarf to warm my neck.  An old man gave me a warm pair of gloves.  All I have to offer them in return is my smile and my best wishes.  Some people are embarrassed and hurry on but others take it in the spirit in which it is given. Some people give of themselves, and that is what makes me the wealthiest of people.”

Mary thought about what this person had just said to her.  It was starting to make sense.  The importance of the season was not the gift; it was not the thought of the gift. That was all meaningless.  What was important was the giving of one’s self willingly.

The next day Mary went into work.  She felt a little lighter, a little happier.  She looked around her with a new perspective: people were giving of them selves; the gifts they were giving were simply an extension of their spirit.  Sometimes the gifts were expensive, sometimes the gifts cost only pennies and sometimes it was only a word and a hug.  But these people were giving, Mary saw that now.  And Mary started giving as well.

It was Christmas Eve now and Mary wanted to share with the homeless man what she had learned.  She stopped at the bank and took out one hundred dollars.  She placed the money in an envelope and tucked that into the pocket of her coat.  With a smile on her face, she went looking for the homeless man.

But he wasn’t there. Mary walked up and down the street looking for him.  She asked shop keepers if they had seen him but everyone was too busy and said they didn’t remember.  So, Mary continued on her walk home.  She was sad now that she couldn’t share with the man who had taught her so much.  She wondered where he had gone and what he was doing for Christmas.

Just two blocks before Mary reached her apartment building was a small church.  Mary had seen the structure before but had never ventured in.  Today her feet took her over the threshold and into the church.  She sat quietly in one of the back pews and looked up into the beautiful stained-glass windows.  She felt at peace.  As her eyes wandered over the beautiful paintings, a figure seemed to stand out:   it was of man who was seated on the ground and his hand was outstretched as if beckoning.  Her eyes widened in recognition and then she shook her head, it was not possible.

As Mary turned over in bed that night, she replayed in her head what she had learned and she smiled.  She had left the envelope with the money in the church; she knew it was the right thing to do. Never again would she forget just how valuable it is to interact with other people.  Giving of one’s self is as simple as smiling.  He had taught her that.

 

 

 

 

Santa Claus is Dead?

On Sundays I usually have a post about anything and everything. But this is December and it is a month that I treat a little differently. Each Sunday I will post a different Christmas story. My regular followers, those that have been with me for a few years, may recognize these tales.

I apologize if you remember them, I’ll work on that for next year. I’d like to wish everyone the blessing of this Holiday Season, however you celebrate.

This is a time of love, of peace and of understanding. May we all indulge too much.

‘Santa Claus is dead.’

When Sebastian Phillips finished writing that phrase on his bulletin board, he turned around to see what the reaction had been on his students. He was not disappointed.    Because this was a first-year philosophy course he expected them to be a little green when it came to abstract ideas.  After all they were just kids.  Truth be told, Professor N. Sebastian Phillips wasn’t all that much older than his students.

When he looked around the room Sebastian saw surprise, humour and perhaps disbelief, it was also very quiet.  Here he was, a college professor talking about a white haired, fat man in a red suit as if he were real.  Well, real and dead.

“When you signed up for this course, I am quite sure you were not expecting to talk about a symbol for a religious holiday that has come to mean the excesses of commercialism that are rampant in our society.”

Sebastian looked out at his students.  They seemed relieved; this was more like it.

“Santa Claus does exist.”

Now Sebastian heard a few giggles and was that a grunt?

“Professor, those two statements cannot both be correct. There either is a Santa Claus or there isn’t? I mean really! ”

Sebastian grinned, “Actually they can Adam. A thing can only be dead if it first existed. “

“Come on Professor there is no Santa Claus!  That is only a marketing gimmick to get parents to buy more for their kids. Commercialism at it’s best:  vulgar!” These words were spoken by a young woman with an earring in her nose and one in her belly button which flashed every time she turned around.

“Well Cindy, yes and no.”

At this point the room erupted in confusion. A great many of the students were arguing about the wisdom of using symbols, some about the evils of commercialism in general and the western world’s corruption of money in particular.  Sebastian noted which students seemed to think he was demented and which students were curious.  Curious minds are open minds.

Very quietly Professor Phillips spoke.  “Amanda did you believe in Santa Claus as a child?”

The room was suddenly quiet. Everyone turned and looked at Amanda, eager to learn her answer. The professor had chosen to ask the one person in the room who appeared normal.  She was conservatively dressed with no strange piercings throughout her body.  She also preferred to observe any heated discussions without actually joining in.

“Amanda . . .” her professor coached.

“Yes.” Was the quiet response.

“And how did you feel when you learned that the jolly man in a red suit was just a marketing ploy.”

The answer was a few minutes in coming and it was not the answer everyone was expecting.  “I still believe in Santa Claus and I do not believe he is dead professor.”

For the second time that morning there was complete silence in the room, a stunned silence.

And then there was pandemonium.  Only snippets of conversations could be heard.  “I always knew that woman was nuts!”  Geez I wish I had taken a mathematics course, that would of made sense.” “It is going to be a very long day.”  “Do you want to go to the pub afterwards I think I could use a drink?”  “I don’t know who is more insane: that Amanda chick or that Professor?”

Professor Phillips let the arguments roll about the room for several minutes. During this time Amanda just sat and looked at her hands as if she was too timid to become involved in a conversation she had helped to create.

“Okay everybody pipe down, you have had your little discussions and each one of them has some sort of validity.  Problem is you’re not listening.  Does Santa Claus exist?  Yes.  Does he exist as a fat, old man in a red suit?  Yes.  That guy in the red suit is on every corner in the Western world ringing a bell and selling products. Something can exist in more than one embodiment.  We see the jolly, old fella and we equate him with shopping at Christmas.  Do you know where the idea for Santa Claus came from?  Amanda might.  Because she alone seems to understand what Santa Claus represents, and who he is.  Let me tell you a little story.”

“In a coastal town called Patra, in what is now Turkey, in the year 260AD a child was born.  His name was Nicholas.  His parents were taken from him when he was a child and yet he still grew up with a generosity of spirit and a love of children. He was a rich young man who tried to use his money to give other people happiness.  He did ‘good’ in secret. Eventually he became known as St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and his generosity continued.”

“Over the centuries St. Nicholas has become beloved by many religions.  Our Western tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas originated with St. Nicholas.  His faith and his actions make remembering him more important even in our day and age. He is our Santa Claus and people need to remember him.  In essence it is his spirit of giving that is behind our traditions at Christmas.  The spirit of Santa Claus is alive and well.”

“A beautiful character is more powerful and more memorable to more people than any marketing ploy or religious dogma.  Santa Claus, even if he comes in the guise of a human being is still the loving spirit of the good Nicholas. Santa Claus does exist, and should continue to exist for as long as we remember what he stands for.”

There was total silence in the room.  Not a single student had a humorous quip, or disparaging remark to make.  In fact, when Sebastian looked around the room he saw only understanding and awe. Finally, these supposedly well-educated young adults had picked up on something that all children knew from a very young age: if you believe, it will endure.

“Class dismissed.”

Sebastian smiled to himself and started to gather up his books and notes. The class had gone well, better than he’d expected.  But the year was getting on and there are places he needed to be so he was going to have to tender his resignation and move on.  But at that point Sebastian realized that not every student had left the room. He looked up.

“Amanda, how can I help you?”

“Professor Phillips you haven’t been completely honest with us, have you?  I know that Santa Claus exists and not as the jolly, red suited man, but rather as St. Nicholas/St. Nick.  You see my family can trace its roots back to that same town in which St. Nicholas was born.  As a matter of fact, we’ve kept a very close watch throughout the years on the descendents of that family.  It has always been the responsibility of my family to ensure that yours is protected.  I’m surprised you didn’t know that.  What’s your first name Professor Phillips?”

“Yes, I thought perhaps you did know,” Sebastian’s grin was even more pronounced. You know I won’t be here next week.  I have a lot of preparing to do and Christmas is not far away. And yes, I am Nicholas/St. Nick. ”

 

The end

 

 

The Thought Police?

What do you think about when you’re alone? If no one is looking for an answer, what is the question?  What do you ponder? Is it just before you go to sleep at night that your mind is free to wander without restraint? Do you go with it?

I’m looking at a picture of someone I have never met, someone I do not know. And I wonder what he thinks about. I wonder what the people are thinking about that I pass on the street. Are they having a good day? Are they happy and thinking about a lover. Or are they fixated on an issue they do not seem to be able to rectify?

We cannot know what another is thinking about unless they tell us. And even then, chances are good they won’t be telling us everything. Why should they? They have a right to privacy. We have a right to have deep dark corners of our minds that we do not share with any one, unless of course our deep dark fantasies are too deep, too dark and too terrifying. That in itself opens up a whole can of worms.  Think thought police…  Be afraid, be very afraid.

If we were able to hear the thoughts of another, we would run screaming into the night. We would have no context. We don’t know why they’re thinking what they are thinking, we don’t know what circumstances triggered it. Because no two people go through an experience the same way, it stands to reason that what you think about, even if it’s on the same topic, will be wildly different. And that’s a good thing.

I believe that it is our differences that compel us to create, to invent, to evolve. Quite frankly if there were too many of me the world would be in huge trouble! Even twins are different. Knowing what someone else is thinking is never a good idea. Our thoughts are the one place where we should have total privacy, total immunity from the world. Now when they stop being thoughts and become actions then it’s far more important the rest of the world knows what’s going on. Or at least those around you. After all actions have consequences. Some good, some bad.

So, to all of those who want to know what I’m thinking . . . you don’t, you really, really don’t.