Tag Archives: perception

An Art Form

 

A Pinecone and a Leaf,

Lay all in a row,

I think they were shivering,

And waiting for snow.

 

The days now grow colder,

And the sun, not so hot.

It seems winter is here,

And that’s what we got.

 

I know I should be thankful,

To experience four seasons.

But the truth of the matter,

Defies all of my reasons.

 

I want warm but not hot,

With the gentlest of breezes.

Sunshine each day,

Well that truly pleases.

 

I want rain after dark,

To water the flowers.

Not hurricane like,

But sweet calming showers.

 

I know what I’m asking,

Can never be done.

But dreaming’s an art form,

And it’s my kind of fun!

 

A Pinecone and a Leaf,

Lay next to each other.

They started this poem,

And maybe another…

 

 

The accompanying photograph was provided by Dan over at nofacilities.com. He and Maddie are most generous with the fruits of their walks. Thanks Dan!

Smile

The world is in chaos,

And my mind is a blank.

I tried to be witty,

But I think that it stank!

 

The world is not laughing,

Cuz nothing is funny.

But I have a plan,

To make it a little bit sunny.

 

I’ve said it before,

And I’ll say it again.

A smile brightens a room,

It’s a simple refrain.

 

Even hidden by masks,

And so far apart.

A nod or a wave,

Is a good place to start.

 

Then respect and some kindness,

Could be tossed in the mix.

Perhaps it will catch on,

And be part of the fix.

 

We must come together,

To be part of the cure.

I know we can do it,

This I am sure!

 

It’s not always easy,

Impossible some times.

But we can’t stop now,

When everything rhymes!

 

Etiquette

Such a lovely old-world word.  It isn’t used often.  It makes me think of high tea with fine China and little tiny sandwiches. It makes me think of gentlemen and ladies and well-behaved children. Has that time really gone? Do we now turn our noses up at the idea of etiquette? Perhaps.

Many people look back in horror at the perceived injustices of times long past. Men and women had pre-ordained roles that society dictated. Individuals were expected to act in a particular way, only do jobs that were deemed fit for that particular sex. It had nothing to do with ability and more with perception of what a man or a woman should do. We have evolved. But have we?

In the third millennium BC, the Ancient Egyptian vizier  Ptahhotep (2375–2350 BC), wrote a book extolling civil virtues, such as truthfulness, self-control, and kindness towards other people, and that the pursuit of justice should be foremost.

Confucius  (551–479 BC) was the Chinese intellectual and philosopher whose works emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, the pursuit of justice in personal dealings, and sincerity in all personal relations.

In the mid-18th century, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, first used the word etiquette to mean “the conventional rules of personal behaviour in polite society.”

Even more recently, the rise of the Internet has necessitated the adaptation of existing rules of conduct to create Netiquette, which governs the drafting of e-mail, rules for participating in an online forum, and so on. And yet how often do we hear about trolls and scams and malicious viruses?

In society, there are either good manners or  bad manners to indicate to a person whether or not his or her behaviour is acceptable to the cultural group.  And yet our world is made up of many different cultures who have different manners and customs. Do we dismiss another’s actions because we don’t do it that way?  I was offended once by a man who burped after a particularly lovely meal. His wife saw the horror on my face and explained that in their culture that was a sign of respect to the cook. I had never heard that. I was in the wrong. And yet that is exactly what we all do. We judge based on our customs and manners. In a world of 7 billion people with hundreds of cultures and thousands of different customs it’s hard to know what is polite and what is not.

In my research what I found was surprising:   each generation was extolling the virtues of kindness, morality, respect and justice. These are concepts that should be universal and should dictate our behaviour. In fact, it does through laws that have been created. And yet these concepts shouldn’t have to be enforced, they should be the way we live. Some people do but far too many do not. Simple respect should be the norm, should be.

Even more surprising was that the concept we classify as etiquette exists in the animal world as well. There is a hierarchy in an assembly of animals that is viciously enforced. In a group each animal has its role to play: there are the protectors and the food gatherers, baby sitters and leaders. For example, In Meerkat families, only the matriarch is allowed to have young. If another female does, she is violently evicted from the troop. Even the solitary animals understand instinctually when they have to come together to procreate.

Human beings have lost many of our instincts that the animal world still uses to function. As a result, we have to put things down in writing or make laws to guide the way we live our lives. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

All I can continue to do is what my mother told me. And of course mothers are never wrong.

 

The Last Christmas Gift

Elsie looked around the room. There was carnage everywhere. A tornado passing through would have left less damage. Bodies were strewn throughout the mayhem. She chuckled. Just another Christmas morning with children.

One of the bodies stirred. A little fist came up from beneath the wrapping paper it had been curled up under. A pile of boxes sneezed. Another child was stirring. Elsie thought perhaps there were a few more to come. But she knew the fresh smell of coffee would probably wake all the adults up. Sure enough, the love of her life wandered into the room, his hands wrapped around a hot steamy mug. With no hesitation he handed it to Elsie and returned from whence he came to get another.

A few more adults showed up with coffee at hand and a tray of hot chocolate for the children. It was Christmas morning. It was after the frenzy of opening gifts. After breakfast. Everyone had been up so early for the main event that the naps became inevitable. The children slept curled around their newfound bounty while the adults found more comfortable settings. Elsie didn’t need a nap. She wanted to watch her charges. There is nothing more spiritual then the breath of sleeping children, safe and secure in their surroundings.

There was a different feeling in the room as everyone gathered once again. They all knew what was coming. Except for one. Malcolm was new to the group, to the family. He was still getting used to the Western dynamic. He had been born into soul crushing poverty in another country. His family had been killed in a local war that no one understood.  He was alone. But he had been found by people who cared and so began his journey to this moment.

“Malcolm,” send Elsie, “There is one more Christmas gift for the family. That includes you. But you don’t know the history so I’m going to tell you how this all started.”

Malcolm set up straighter, he was interested to know how things worked here and he was curious about his new family. So, he listened very carefully.

Elsie continued: “When my Great, Great, Great Grandfather came to this country he was very poor. But his parents believed they could find a better life, a better future in the New World. They risked everything. The first few years were hard but they were a hard-working family. That first Christmas looked like it was going to be pretty bleak. There was barely enough money for food let alone presents. But there was a wise patriarch and he refused to be sad. He said the goose had wandered across the street and died. His beloved wife said nothing as she picked the buck shot out of the breast of their Christmas goose.

They said grace and gave thanks for their bounty. The light was dim and the curtains were thin but they knew that others were worse off so they gave thanks. And that’s when my ancestor brought out the Last Christmas Gift.”

Elsie sat back in her chair and smiled.  She looked at the faces around her beaming with anticipation. She loved this part of Christmas.

“Ever since then we have honoured the tradition that was started so many years ago.”

As if by magic a small beautifully wrapped package appeared in her lap. There were many ooohs and aaaahs from her audience. And not just the children!

With studied patience Elsie peeled back the wrapping paper. And then with a flick of her wrist a small wooden carving appeared in the palm of her hand. It was a little drummer boy.

Elsie smiled. “Would anyone like to tell me what gift this is?”

Malcolm looked confused. He didn’t know the story of the Little Drummer Boy. And then something miraculous happened. A little tow-hair girl stood up and walked to Malcolm. She wrapped her little arms around him and said:

“His gift is to us all. He was a little drummer boy who had no presents to give the newborn King, Jesus Christ so he played his drum. He gave all he had in his heart and it was the most precious gift of all. That’s what we all need to do. And it will be precious.”

 

The end

 

 

 

 

Your Christmas Tree

What will you find,

Underneath your tree?

Will there be presents,

For you and for me?

 

Will there be games,

Or a train set for you?

Did you speak to Santa.

So he knows what to do?

 

I wished and I prayed,

That Joy would be there.

Nestled beneath,

The world would be fair.

 

The morning was bright,

The tree stood up tall.

And just below its branches,

Was Peace for us all!

An Interesting Tale of an Ordinary Life

I have lived an absolutely incredibly fascinating life. And so have you. Of course, other people may not think so. They may not buy a book by an ordinary woman but then maybe they would.

I believe that each of us has a tale or two in our past that would amaze or perhaps horrify the general public.  But it was our life and we lived it as best we could. I am inordinately pleased that cell phones did not exist when I was a child. There’s a great deal of my childhood that, although I remember it fondly, I would not like to be reminded of in pictures. Bad hair days meant something completely different than it does today. We are so concerned with appearances that we often forget substance.

And while I was bullied a little bit when I was in my youth it is nothing compared to what children go through now. My bullies looked me in the eye when they were being mean. I had the option to go to my parents and name names. Then respective parents would get together and the bullying stopped.  Nowadays it is done anonymously with the protection of cyberspace and it hits much deeper. It hurts more profoundly. It causes significantly more damage. And the ramifications for being a bully? It’s rare that they’re caught. And that is a sad statement on our society.

I have always been a champion of Human Rights but what happens when those Human Rights interfere with the Individual’s Rights? Is enough, enough? I remember a saying about an old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. Well, we do and yes, it is a bit of a curse. I’ll bet in the next few years there are going to be a number of books written by supposedly famous people about the struggles they survived during The Year of the Pandemic. Obscene amounts of money will exchange hands so that we can read about other people. Probably not terribly interesting people. But they are famous so that makes them readable. They still put their pants on one leg at a time.

I think the most interesting people are the ones who aren’t famous. They’re the ones who go out and get the job done because it’s the right thing to do. The people who show compassion, ingenuity and selflessness simply because that’s the kind of person they are. They don’t go looking for accolades or monetary gain.  They simply keep their eyes open for the next person that would benefit from their assistance. Those are the interesting people.

I think everyone of us has something fascinating we can teach someone else. And I think every other person out there has something I need to know. And that is what makes life so very interesting.  Don’t you think?

I Will Not Forget

A misty morning on a field of war,

A single poppy grew.

The soldier closed his eyes at last,

For death had come too soon.

 

He lay in peace upon the ground,

His rifle by his side.

Never more to see the dawn,

Or sunsets with his love.

 

A gentle rain came soon enough,

To wash away his tears.

But not in time to spare his life,

Taken by the war.

 

Others stood in place for him,

Men and women both.

Many paid the final price,

Exacted by the war.

 

I have not known that horror,

As I live a life of peace.

But always will I remember,

Those who went to war.

 

Above my heart, a poppy,

I wear it proud and true.

Thank you for your service,

As I remember you.

 

Evolution?

The planet we inhabit was formed about 4. 5 billion years ago. Since then it has been evolving, growing, changing. It has only been able to support life for about 3.5 billion years.  We arrived about 200,000 years ago.  A little late to the party but we have made one hell of an impact!

And we as a species evolved. We no longer grunt to communicate because of course that’s rude. We tamed our world and beat it into submission. We harnessed the power of fire and air and water. But it was a long time getting to where we are now. And where are we going? We have caused so much damage on our journey but not all of it was our fault.

As a species we are greedy and we always want more. Perhaps we are still children in the greater scheme of things and like children we always want… But we are also curious and that curiosity leads us to go farther and farther from our home. We want to learn and that is perhaps our greatest asset. But like children we need to be cautionary. We need to learn to take small steps before those giant leaps. We have taken some big leaps and failed miserably but we learned from our failure. We are resilient and if we can temper our insatiable curiosity just a tiny bit then perhaps the future is not bleak.

As individuals we are also evolving. We have come through the Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthal to Homo sapiens. It was a long journey and there are a few who seem to be reverting back to an earlier stage. We tolerate them. But we are trying. We are trying to correct our mistakes, perhaps not as quickly as we should have, but we are trying. And perhaps that is all we can expect. Or maybe that is the mistake. Maybe we need to reach for the stars and expect to reach it.  Could that be the next step in our evolution?  What we are willing to do to reach it?  Are we willing to give up who we are for who we could become? Am I? Are you?

That is the frightening thing about the future: we don’t know what to expect. We can hope but we won’t know until after the fact and history records what happened. But we can work towards a better future if we work together. And as an unrepentant optimist I believe that our future will be wondrous. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but the distant future is what I believe in. Just as I believe in me and you.

A Dark and Lonely Road

One last little ‘creep’ until next year. I hope you enjoy it.

Anderson Bartholomew Mortenson was pissed!  He would deal with that ‘Bitch’ in his own way and in his own time! He slammed the door of his car and squealed out of the parking lot!  He didn’t care what direction.  He was one of the elite, one of the privileged people, he had money!  His wealth gave him certain privileges!  Privileges that did not include getting a tongue lashing from a servant!  Anderson shook his head, this was ridiculous.  He did not have to justify his presence to anyone.

That woman in the gallery might be the manager but she had no right, no bloody right to embarrass him in front of his friends or to call him a ne’er-do-well.  A ne’er-do-well! Bloody archaic expression and he was offended!  His family, his grandfather, sponsored that gallery and that entitled him to certain privileges.  How could that bloody woman not know that! How dare she ask him to leave!  The people there seemed to think his jokes were funny. They were a little off colour but still they laughed. So what was the big deal?  These affairs took themselves far too seriously.

When Anderson was strongly invited to leave the Art Gallery he did so alone; his friends decided to stay and enjoy the free champagne. Perhaps that is the reason he took the wrong road, or maybe it was his anger, or perhaps something else was at work.  Regardless, Anderson was lost.  He didn’t know this side of town well but he was sure that at any moment he would come across some buildings, a highway exit sign, something to denote civilization as opposed to this endless ribbon of nothing. The road seemed to be mocking him, laughing at him: he was lost, what a fool!

With a sigh Anderson took stock of his situation.  Okay, he thought, I’m lost.  Bit deal.  People get lost.  The fact that he was not in control was annoying but knew he could get out of this. He forced himself to relax and think. First, he needed to find out where he was and where this bloody road went. There were no signs, there were no buildings, there were no street lights, and it was dark. There was, however, a familiarity to the place.  He didn’t know where he was but there was a memory buried deep that knew this road. This was not a promising situation.

As if it was written in a script, a figure materialized out of the dark.  He slowed the car as the headlights brought into focus a man dressed completely in black. Maybe this person could direct him back to civilization.  Anderson pulled the car over and rolled down the passenger side window.

“Excuse me,” he started, “I’m afraid I’m lost can you direct me–“

Before he could finish his question, the stranger opened the car door and got in.

“I think young man that we are headed in the same direction.” The voice that emanated from this strange man was deep with an almost hypnotic quality and his eyes were painfully intense. It was the only part of his face that seemed to be in focus.

The car door slammed shut as if to punctuate the comment. Without thinking Anderson put the car in gear. As they moved slowly forward Anderson’s mind, equally slowly, became clearer.  With a mental shake of his head he turned to the stranger,

“As I started to say sir, can you direct me to a main thoroughfare?”

Anderson was quite pleased with his manner, all he wanted to do was to kick this sorry sot out the door and take off.  But he did not.  He restrained his impulse. His mother would be so proud.  As he spoke Anderson glanced at his passenger:  this strange man hadn’t moved since he sat down, his head was in shadow and facing straight ahead. His entire body was as if it were made of stone.  Not even a sign of breathing was apparent. His hands rested on his knees, relaxed and unmoving.

“I will take you to where you are headed, but you may not like the destination.”

It was a strange comment but Anderson ignored it and once again glanced at his travelling companion.

“My name’s Anderson, and you are?”

The stranger remained silent.  Anderson wasn’t sure what to make of this guy. He had helped himself into the car; he had offered no information, not even his name.  How does one strike up a conversation with a man who seems to like being an enigma? Well this stranger had gotten into the car under false pretences.  Either he coughs up a way to get out of this situation or he’s getting dumped!  In his mind Anderson could be as tough and as authoritative as he wanted.  But when he again glanced at this strange man dressed in black, he felt like the child who had done wrong.  Anderson wondered what the great Cecil Mortenson would do in a situation like this one.  His grandfather was a successful businessman who had built himself up from very humble beginnings.  While Anderson admired that in his grandfather, it also intimidated him and made him want to rebel.  So, what would his grandfather do in a situation like this?

“I doubt very much your grandfather would ever be in this situation.”  The stranger had spoken again.

Anderson was startled; does this guy read minds?

“No son, but I do read faces. You are surprised that I would know about your family.  You would be very surprised at just how much I know about a great many things.  And I will see your Grandfather one day, soon.”  There was an ominous quality to his voice.

As he spoke the man continued to look straight ahead, his eyes only on the road disappearing into the distance. Now that the stranger had broken his silence Anderson thought he should direct another question:

“Are we headed back to town?  I don’t know this road at all.”

“Actually,” said the stranger, “I believe you need to spend a little more time on this road, or perhaps it needs to spend time with you.”

The words that the stranger spoke were bizarre and the feeling that they instilled in Anderson was one of desperation.  He was feeling more and more out of control.  He took his left hand off the steering wheel and placed it on his hip and without thinking he started to tap two fingers against his leg.  It was a nervous habit he had picked up as a child. Only one person had ever noticed it, other than his mother, and that was his friend Bob.  It was strange to think about Bob in a situation like this. It had been many years since he’d spoken to him but he had thought of Bob often and always fondly.  Bob had been Anderson’s roommate for the three years he had spent at University. He had never been impressed by Anderson’s wealth nor was he intimidated by it.  He really just didn’t care.  What he did care about was friendship. Bob believed Anderson was a better man than he really was.  How could he have let that friendship lapse?  And why did he think about him now of all times?

“I met a friend of yours the other day,” offered the stranger, “his name was Robert Delaney.  There was a car accident.  I believe you knew him as Bob.”

This time when Anderson looked over at the stranger, he thought he saw a small smile starting to curl up his lips. It also seemed to grow colder in the car and yet Anderson could not make his hand turn on the heat. He just sat there in the cold and in his growing fear. This man knew things he had no business knowing! What exactly did he know?

“You have done a great many things you should atone for, young man.”

That voice again.  Anderson felt paralyzed, but only in his body.  His mind raced frantically.  He was ashamed as he remembered the cutting comments he had made to perfect strangers, the complete disregard with which he treated those who offered him their services and he could not forget, nor could he excuse, his behaviour in the art gallery that had happened only an hour ago. The night should have been in celebration for a new and upcoming artist.  Instead he had turned it into a bad stand-up comedy routine. But that was who he was: the jokester, the bad comic.  Why should he have to atone for lousy manners?  And then the memory that was buried deep within his mind surfaced.  It was not a pleasant memory.

It seemed as if he had been driving for days.  He felt as though he had been locked inside a prison, unsure of his crime.  But he knew now, he was sure.  He had committed a terrible crime three years ago, on this road. How can you atone? They say that when you are about to die, your life flashes in front of your eyes.  That’s how Anderson felt.  He loved his grandfather and yet he had never told him that.  Quite the opposite, he went out of his way to antagonize the old man who had done so much for him.  He remembered his deceased mother and the dreams she had had for him.  He had not lived up to those dreams.  He remembered his father but not fondly. He simply thought of him as a sperm donor. He hated the fact that he was named after this man who took great delight in calling him ‘Junior’. To Anderson, being in his father’s presence was pure purgatory.  At least he had had the good sense to die many years ago. With any luck he was in hell.

Throughout his life people had tried to be kind to Anderson and he had belittled them and denigrated them. Bob believed the he was a better man than Anderson himself believed.  It was his shame.  And now because he was lost on a lonely road with a strange man sitting next to him, it was causing him to question his life and to remember.   Anderson squirmed in his seat; his eyes still focused on the road ahead just like the stranger. Did he deserve what he had? He felt as if he were on trial for his life! It wasn’t his fault; he had been drinking three years ago.  That young girl had no business being on a dark road at night.  It wasn’t his fault!

The road was the focus of their journey.  There was no lessening of the darkness.  The road itself never varied off the straight and narrow, there was no relief.  No other cars were in sight, there were no sounds of crickets or of people.  It was almost as if nothing existed outside the space that the car traveled each second.  There seemed to be nothing behind and nothing ahead, only dense forest on either side of the long and unforgiving road that they must travel.  Anderson was lost in thought: they say the road to hell is paved, where was this road taking them?

As Anderson was staring at his traveling companion his peripheral vision registered something.  It took his brain a split seconded to realize he was looking at a deer in the middle of the road, a big ten-point antlered buck.

Deer. Deer!  DEER! Anderson wrenched the wheel of the car to the right!  Adrenalin purged all thoughts of the stranger.  His concentration now was on the trees that were fast approaching. The deer was startled and moved into the forest. At least its life was saved.  Anderson reacted to the movement of the deer and quickly pulled the wheel to the left.  He had missed the trees on the right-hand side of the road by millimetres, but now he was looking at a ditch on the left side of the road.  Anderson stomped on the brakes and the car came to rest straddling both lanes.

With what seemed to be a focused determination a mist began to emanate from the tarmac. It drifted slowly over the car like a ghostly embrace. The silence was total. Anderson put his head down on the wheel and started to weep.

The depth of the sorrow that Anderson felt was out of proportion to the certain death he had just escaped.  He was thankful he was alive and he knew it was a near a thing but that wasn’t why he was crying.  He was crying for missed opportunities, for the cruelties he had inflicted on others, he was crying for a young girl and he was crying for his mother.  She had expected better of him and he had let her down.  But now he had a second chance to recognize his shortcomings and he knew that it was in his power to correct them.  He didn’t know if it was a cliché, but he felt himself a better man because of this epiphany

Anderson sat back in his seat. As he raised his head, he could see the dawn rising in the east and through the lessening of the shadows he saw a sign:

L_ ST CHANCE CAFÉ. His long drive was over. With a smile Anderson turned towards his passenger just as the stranger turned towards him.  In the early morning light he could see the full face of the dark man for the first time. Anderson stopped smiling.  It was a familiar face.

It is said that time is not the only way to make a young man old. A sour disposition, an angry character or overwhelming terror can cause men to be old and withered before their time. A man can age a lifetime in a second.  Purgatory is a place that all men fear and more than a few will face in their own time.

“Hello Junior.”

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

Anderson shook his head, he was confused, unsure of something. As his eyes started to focus, he became aware of his surroundings.  He was on a road, a dark road.  There were no lights and no buildings anywhere in sight.  He also noticed something else that terrified him.  He was sitting on a bicycle.  It was a young girl’s bicycle.  It was terrifyingly similar to one a young girl was on three years ago, a young girl that he drove down in a drunken stupor.  She had died, miserably. And now he was on that bicycle, on that road, on that night.  He could hear the wind in the trees and the faint murmur of a car approaching him. Anderson was going to die just like she did under the wheels of his car.

“Welcome to Hell son.”

 

-END-

Walk With Pride

 

 

They can’t really see me

They don’t know that I’m here.

Then why all the fuss

The hysterical fear?

 

This Halloween craze

Is really bizarre.

People pretending

To be what we are.

 

They wear their costumes

And go out for a lark.

Then I and my kind

Can wander the park.

 

I know you’re pretending

But I’m certainly not.

And once in a while

It ok to get caught.

 

I hide from your view

The rest of the year.

But today I’m quite close

Inhaling your fear.

 

Over your shoulder

Just by your side,

Are others like me

The dead walk with pride.