A simple smile might not change the world but it could start the process.
We are all in a room
Our heads bent in prayer
Giving our thanks
For the things that we share
God is our focus
His works and his word
Depths of His meaning
And all we have heard
We get strength from each other
In this place where we are
Every day, every way
We are travelling far
We wander His words
And learn all His teaching
The roads we are taking
Are because of His preaching
My Lord is my Shepard
I shall never lack
For His sake alone
I’ll never look back
There is a lovely story out of India about a Water Bearer who carried two large pots on a pole to get water everyday. One pot was beautiful and carried its water with pride. The other pot had a small crack in the side and was never able to deliver a full load. Years went by, finally the cracked pot spoke up and apologized for its inability to fulfill its duty.
The Water Bearer smiled and replied that it had indeed fulfilled its duty. All along the side where the water had leaked out each day, were beautiful, luscious flowers. The Water Bearer had noticed the leak and had planted seeds to take advantage. One small supposed ‘flaw’ and the land was beautiful, because of that crack in the pot.
I have taken a little license with the story but it is accurate. Of course Clay pots can’t talk but they are able to speak and to teach. We all have “flaws” or things about ourselves we considered to be less than optimal. But that is actually part of who we are. You don’t love someone in spite of their flaws, you love them because of their flaws. That is part of what makes them who they are!
Who is to say that they are flaws? Faults, errors, defects, mistakes, imperfections . . . the list is quite extensive. Who is it that decides that someone has a flaw or a defect? Society has a very narrow view of, well, everything. Not everyone fits nicely or easily into that narrow hole. I don’t and I’m proud of it!
That cracked pot was able to share without knowing. It was providing a service, a benefit, to those it knew nothing about. There are great accolades for people who intentionally try to benefit society and we need that. We need them. We also need people who by their very presence make the world a better place. And that’s something we can all do. By being a good person we can help to make our world brighter. By letting our cracks show and sharing of ourselves. We do make a difference every day. I would like to consider myself a cracked pot, how about you?
This has been a less than optimal week and none of the posts I had planned to write got written. So I am presenting you a post from my past.
This was originally written in October 2013. I hope you enjoy it.
Attitude? Yeh, I got Attitude!
According to the Free Dictionary on the Internet there are five definitions to attitude:
- A position of the body or manner of carrying oneself
- a) A state of mind or feeling; disposition
b). An arrogant or hostile state of mind or disposition
- The orientation of an aircraft’s axis relative to a reference line or plane
- The orientation of a spacecraft relative to its direction of motion
- A position similar to an arabesque in which a ballet dancer stands on one leg with the other raised either in front or in back and bent at the knee
For the sake of this post I am only concerned with definitions one and two. We all have attitude. It’s what allows us to make it through the day in one piece. Not all ‘attitude’ is negative and yet when we use that word we are usually referring to someone with bad attitude. Attitude is a word that describes a disposition. It is not a negative or positive, it just is.
Definitions three, four and five refer to attitude as a position in relation to the world around the main item. I would like to posit that one’s psychological attitude is directly related to one’s physical attitude. That actually makes sense if you think about.
The way we deal with the world is in part how we were raised, how others interact with us and how we feel on any given day. On a day when I feel miserable you can bet that my attitude is going to be bad. But on a day when everything is going well my attitude is going to be positive and cooperative.
We use attitude to describe behaviours that we may find distasteful. Is it an accurate way to describe people? Probably not, but we describe people based on our own background. We can use the physicality but that only gets you so far. We are so much more than what you see. People are multifaceted, like those Russian nesting dolls, there’s more under the next layer.
Here’s a subversive idea for you: people are all the same. We all started in the same place: the primordial sludge and we will all end up in the same place: dust in the wind. Everything else is cosmetic. Physically anyway. The real value is in the kind of person we are. Nice guy versus schmuck. Victim versus tyrant. And what is it that makes one person caring and open and another self centered and cruel? Who knows? What makes one person a savant and another an idiot? Luck of the draw? Why does one person get a disease and another go through life unscathed? You can spend your entire life asking questions that have no answer or you can change the equation. Concentrate on the little picture: you. The big picture is made up of a lot of little pictures. We need to focus on what we can accomplish, on how we live our lives. Do we care about others and try to contribute to the greater good or do we simply exist and only take? We do have it in our power to decide. True immortality is achieved through the memories of others.
The Rocket watched carefully. His target was near. Once again his skill and his daring would be their undoing. A young man who went by the moniker The Rocket was feeling a need: a need to take. He watched as a slightly older than middle-aged woman stopped to root in her purse for something. With a quick glance around him he darted out from his hiding place between the buildings. He stopped only for a smile, to tip his hat and to say “thank you” as he relieved the shocked individual of her purse.
As The Rocket darted away down the street he was laughing at his daring. It never failed to amuse him that it was so easy to swipe a purse in broad daylight. His feet had carried him a mere 10 feet before they betrayed him. Without time to understand what was happening to him The Rocket watched as the pavement rose up to meet his face. He dropped the purse he had just liberated in an attempt to protect himself. Just before he reached the ground, he heard a voice.
“Once you’ve finished your fall I would suggest you stay there.” An ominous voice instructed.
“What the . . . !”
“Watch your language young man. There are ladies present.”
The Rocket tried to sit up but realized that there were something sticking in the middle of his back keeping him down and it hurt. As a matter of fact most of him hurt. Someone had tripped him!
A moment went by as The Rocket collected his thoughts.
“That’s better Richard. You might want to get up off the pavement. It is a little undignified.” That voice again!
“That’s not my name!” As he stood up, the boy known as The Rocket looked at the man who seemed to be the cause of his most recent fiasco.
“Your name is Richard Dunston. You are 14 years old and have been in and out of juvenile hall for two years. Your mother is so worried that she asked me to take you under my wing. So why don’t you sit down here and we can get to know each other a little better.”
The newly identified Richard stood staring at this old man with a cane and dog. He couldn’t think of anything to say. So he said nothing. He also wanted desperately to run away but he realized now who exactly was sitting on the park bench. This man probably had Richard’s future in his hands. So Richard, formerly known as The Rocket, sat down.
If anyone had bothered to look they would have seen an elderly gentleman of some distinction sitting quietly beside a young boy. At the feet of the gentleman was an obviously excited dog. It seemed as if everyone was waiting for something to happen.
Not a moment later the woman who had previously been relieved of her purse approach the park bench. She was smiling. She retrieved her purse from where it had fallen on the sidewalk and nodded her head at the two men.
“Good job done Superintendent, you were right. Shall I leave him in your hands?”
“Yes thank you Constable. I’ll call in my report later.”
“Good luck kid. You’ll need it.”
The now identified policewoman took her purse, straightened her back and walked purposefully away. Richard a.k.a. The Rocket stared at her retreating back with something akin to horror. He had been set up! By an old man and a girl! He would never live this down.
“How? How did you know?” He just kept repeating one word: how?
“Well son, do you know what a modus operandi is?” Richard just looked blank.
“I’ll take that as a no. I guess I should introduce myself.” So for the next few minutes Brett did just that. As Richard listened he felt more and more at a loss. His life was changing drastically.
Brett Bramwell Kirkland was a retired Police Superintendent. He had worked for 37 years with a near spotless record. The only complaint ever made against him simply reinforced his image of impartiality and of doing the right thing regardless of cost. Four years ago his wife of fifty two years had died. He kept in touch with his four children and their families but he lived alone except for Ten-four: a small West Highland Terrier. His name Ten-four, in police language means everything is fine. The dog was given to Brett by his grandson.
Nowadays Brett could be found walking his dog in this neighbourhood almost every day or lounging on this particular park bench. Which is how Richard’s mother knew where to go when she needed help.
Richard was on a path of destruction. He fought, he drank and he stole. He had been in trouble with the police and his next step would probably land him in a penitentiary. So Brett had been prevailed upon to help.
“You make a lousy criminal kid.” Brett spoke quietly. Richard balled his hands and looked as if he wanted to start a fight.
“I can keep you from jail and alive, but you have to do something for me.”
“I don’t gotta do nuthin you say!” Richard was definitely spoiling for a fight. He jumped up from the park bench and turned to face his accuser.
“Oh sit down. You give me a hard time, I call the cops, you go to jail. How long you go to jail will depend on what my mood is. So it is in your best interest to do as I say.” The quiet authority with which this man spoke caused the young criminal to re-think his situation.
Richard was starting to understand that he was stuck between a rock and hard place. So he sat down, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to listen.
First of all, you are going to return all the items still in your possession that belong to other people. Next, you are going to meet the principal of the high school and make arrangements to get back in school. Then you are going to write letters to all the people whose names I will give you, that you have stolen from. The police keep very good records. And finally, you’re going to get a job. That job is to be my assistant. Ten-four needs to be walked regularly and I’m sure I can think of a great many other activities to keep you out of trouble. I’ll pay you what you’re worth so you had better do a good job.
Poor Richard looked as if he were ready to cry. All the fight had gone out of him. He had met his match. He reached down to scratch the silly white dog’s head. Maybe things weren’t that bad. The old man had a cute dog.
“Hey mister, how’d you know I’d be here today?”
“Modus operandi. It is a Latin phrase that means method of operating. People do the same thing out of habit. It’s those habits that make criminals easy to catch. People do the same things the same way almost every time.”
Richard thought for a moment and then realized he’d just been taught a life lesson. People were predictable. It’s what made understanding them a possibility.
“So what’s your modus operandi?” Richard asked of the older man.
The retired superintendent smiled, “I catch thugs for breakfast.”
The two men sat beside each other on the park bench. Each set in their ways but ready to face the changes the world would force upon them. At their feet quietly sat a small white dog, he too was waiting for a change.
“How about a walk in the park?”
Hello! She said
Her smile intact
A beautiful place.
No one answered
They turned away
Hello! She said
A hopeful grin
Trying to stay
A single child
Stopped and looked
Shy and tentative
Hello. She said
Her smile had dimmed
Hello? He asked
Was anyone there
Hello! She laughed
All was well
A single light
Hello!! She shouted
The world to hear
A single voice
I have a problem. You might call it an ‘abundance of riches’. You see I have all these great ideas roaming around in my head angling to be at the front of my consciousness. As a result, it is chaos.
A few of those ideas? Natural disasters and just how unnatural they really are. We are in many ways culpable for the extreme weather we’ve been experiencing. We have been raping this planet for far too long and these are the ramifications. The concept of free will: just how ‘free’ is it and how much of the ‘will’ is ours? The concept of communication: even people that speak the same language have difficulty communicating.
So you see my difficulty? Too much at the same time. I’m trying to come up with a series of paintings for a show next year and while I have the basics down I am disheartened by all the incredible paintings I see by other people. I have to find a way to make them my own.
I am also having a wee bit of a teething problem with my program that types for me. It thinks it knows better. Perhaps I should publish an entire Post without correcting the errors it makes.
Because my mind is in such chaos I thought I would just publish a short story for you. In this time of upheaval I think we all need a good laugh. And this one still makes me chuckle. I hope you enjoy . . .
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 were 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 coming.