Laughter has the power to breach barriers.
Laughter has the power to breach barriers.
Simple word. Easy to say. Maybe not so easy to do. Oh wait! What does it actually mean? Well, it means: things that are similar as in the same kind of music, the same kind of people. It also means to be nice, to be considerate or helpful. That is the tough one.
Kindness is not a fashion statement from a bygone era, it is not an archaic anachronism that has no place in modern society. It is the means by which we will survive and flourish. “Survival of the fittest!” was the battle cry from Darwin but he wasn’t the first to broach it. As a bare concept it has merit. Stronger organisms preclude extinction. Except that is only the first step.
Few species survive alone. Some do but even they must come together to procreate. If you look around at the rest, they are in groups. It is easier to find food, to raise young and for protection. In order to survive as a species, there needs to be cooperation.
Kindness is a human concept we often attribute to the animal kingdom. Watch the tenderness elephants show to each other. Along with the fierceness when the group is threatened. Watch adult lions play with their cubs. We could learn a lot from observing that animal kingdom. But we see ourselves as the apex predator, the boss. We are not. Individually we could be taken out by many creatures. (and occasionally are!) It is only our technology that gives us the upper hand. And we don’t play fair.
We kill from a distance with powerful weapons or slowly by eroding habitat and poisoning the air and water. We really don’t play fair. One-on-one, we would lose. The animal kingdom has adapted itself for survival in the world. We have adapted the world to suit us.
How we live in that world is how we will flourish. Be kind. We are all in this together. There are those who believe in the survival of the fittest and they will die alone, as the fittest. But it takes a village to raise a child, to have a life. If all you want is the trophy, then take it. We need to get back to living.
The path to a better world starts with you and the person next to you.
Thinking is good, doing is better, creating is the best!
Politicians spout views
From the top of the stage
Their thoughts for the future
They want to engage.
Teachers have knowledge
They need to impart
The children are learning
Their places to start.
Parents should guide us
From the day we are born
That job never finishes
But often we’re torn.
But if we live with Faith
Then the answer is clear
God guides my path
It Is He I hold dear.
Who is in charge?
Was the question I asked
And the answer was given
And so I’ll hold fast.
The Lord is my shepherd
And the world is so large
But He’ll keep me safe
Because He is in charge.
A smile is contagious. Pass it on.
There once was a girl named Amiss,
Who’s goal in her life was to kiss.
With men she would meet,
Their faces she’d greet,
And nary a one did dismiss!
The boys from around got to know,
From Amiss they’d get quite a show.
They’d come from afar,
To see the new star,
Only to find she’s a miss!
Now time as you know won’t be harried.
But the message of course will be carried.
From the men she did meet,
There was one she did keep,
And now the miss is a married!
The surface of the river was still, almost glass like. Looking deep you could see the current running swiftly down stream. Hungry birds circled overhead, looking for a meal. A small fish leapt above the safety of the river narrowly missing becoming lunch. For a moment the world was quiet.
And then chaos. . . .
“John! Help! I can’t . . .” For only a few seconds a woman’s head broke the surface before she was dragged back down into the darkness. The unforgiving depths do not like to give back.
“Oh, my God! I’m coming! Please God don’t let her drown! Anna!”
Mere seconds behind the struggling woman was a man in a canoe. The terror on his face spoke volumes. More time went by as he searched for any sign of this woman that had enchanted his heart, his soul. He had to find her!
“Anna! Anna!” He shouted loudly.
“ Please God, save her.” He whispered to the universe. “Please!”
Two gentle souls had found each other in an out-of-way park and without meaning to, had fallen in love. John could not believe they would be separated so soon after finding each other. He felt the tears at the back of his eyes welling. His shoulders ached from the desperate paddling, his eyes searching for his heart.
“Please, plea . . . Anna!”
He spied her flowing red hair glistening in the morning light. The only movement was with the water’s drift trying to tug it free from a branch.
Another foot and he could see a shoulder. It was deathly pale.
“Please . . .”
When the canoe was within reach John jumped out next to the body of his beloved. Immediately he felt the water dragging at his clothes, determined to pull him down. The canoe, caught by another branch, floated nearby. John’s hands trembled, unsure, desperate to know.
“Anna…” He barely breathed . . .
As he turned her body over an eyelid flickered. She was alive!
With that almost imperceptible movement John reacted. His training took over his actions. He checked her pulse: strong. Breathing: shallow but steady. Pupils: reactive. Small contusion on forehead. She was safe to move. She needed to be warm and monitored. He needed to check for other possible injuries.
The next few minutes became a blur. John was able to disentangle Anna and get her to shore. It may only have been a few feet but it felt like miles. He made sure she was safe and returned for the canoe. Those supplies could make the difference between living and dying.
When John and Anna made the decision to run away they left behind their lives as well as their cell phones. They were on their own now.
It took a little time but John was able to make a fire, make Anna comfortable and put water on to boil. He cleaned her wounds. They were minor and should pose no future problems. Her breathing was stronger but still she slept. John agonized over whether to leave her to find help or to stay. A little tea should help. While he busied himself with the mundane tasks of finding the tea and cups he was able to calm down. They would survive this. She would survive this.
His head was down, diligently measuring tea leaves into a strainer when he heard a sound. He quickly looked to Anna, still she slumbered. He raised his eyes to the forest a few meters away. His heart stopped. There, just beside a very full tree was the largest wolf he had ever seen. John had seen hundreds in his years in the Parks Services but never one this close and this . . .alive. He was afraid to breath! And then it moved.
Wolves have a reputation as true killers, vicious animals that maul the unwary for fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wolves are intelligent pack animals who care deeply for their young and avoid people as much as possible. And yet here was a magnificent specimen silently staring at . . .Anna? Normally an adversary keeps his eyes on an opponent but that didn’t seem to be the case here. Why? Before John had finished his thought the wolf took a step forward and then another. Then it did the strangest thing: it sat. With its head cocked to one side and its tongue hanging out it look just like a family pet.
John sat back on his heals. The movement didn’t disturb the wolf at all. It’s gaze never left Anna. It didn’t seem to be aggressive, more . . . supportive? Was John dreaming? After what seemed to be hours the wolf slowly returned to the forest. At that moment the water started boiling furiously. John was reminded of his duties and returned to them.
The hours did pass. John tried to stay awake to tend to the fire and to worry about the wolf but the inevitable did happen. The stress, fear and fatigue took hold and John slept.
He was dreaming. He felt cool water on his face, he was drowning! With a yell he force his way up, clawing for the surface!
With blinking eyes the man in question came awake. He was confused. He quickly looked to where Anna lay and she was gone!
“I’m right here John, I’m fine. Look someone’s dog has come for a visit.”
Someone’s dog? John came awake in a hurry with that comment. He looked towards the sound of his beloved’s voice and saw her with the huge wolf gently accepting her ministrations. She was petting him and tugging at his ears and he seemed to like it!
“Anna, Anna . . that’s a wolf! A wild animal! You have to get away from him!”
Anna didn’t move except to give her newfound friend a hug.
“I had such awful dreams and then I felt this warmth embrace me. I felt such love. Then I felt a wet tongue on my face and it was Samson. He sat by me while you slept. I think he was keeping an eye on us both.”
“You named a wild animal Samson?”
John started to laugh. It was so abrupt that both Anna and Samson were startled. Then they both joined in. Or, at least one did, the other gave the impression he was enjoying the process.
When the laughter died down the release was apparent. Then both John and Anna started to speak at the same time …
“I’m sorry!” “I’m sorry!”
“It was an accident. We’re both ok and we seemed to have gained a companion.”
Anna smiled at their new friend who promptly rolled on his back and presented his stomach for a rub.
John grinned at the two of them. A wild animal and a beautiful writer. What could be more incongruous and more appropriate? Perhaps Anna would write about a tame wolf named Samson in their new life. He would find an out-of-the-way park in which to work and Anna would write stories for children. All would be well. They had each other.
I’m not quite prepared for my weekly post so I thought I would share something from a few years ago. This started out as a single story but grew into three due to very strong opposition. Seniors can be quite scary when they want something! So I complied. This is the first of the three. I will post the second and third on Monday and Tuesday. I’ll be back to regular viewing on Wednesday.
Jonathan Edward Bellamy III. A name destined to sit in the Supreme Court after a spotless career as a criminal lawyer, or perhaps the head of a multi-national banking conglomerate with a profit margin in the tens of millions. Well perhaps Jonathan might have gone that route but not John. John was sitting in a ten-year-old truck wondering if his rent cheque was going to bounce, and that truck was sitting on a mountain pass that overlooked a pristine national park which that Supreme Court judge would kill to see. John figured he was the wealthier of the two.
Being born into a wealthy and prominent family brought with it a great many obligations that John had always balked at. People who knew he came from money were either anxious to be his new best friend or hated him for his presumed privileges. It had been hard trying to fit into that world. John didn’t like the phoney debutants or their mothers trying to make ‘good’ matches for them. He just didn’t belong to that world. He belonged here, where the air was fresh, the people were real and where one worried about rent cheques. When John walked away from the privileged life he also walked away from his wealth. That was fine with him. Money should be earned not inherited.
Today John was thinking about that rent cheque but he was also thinking about the tourists. Today was the first day of summer vacation and it had always been a trial in the park. High School kids brought booze, which was banned, and College kids brought drugs, which were worse. Parents brought small children and expected the Rangers and Park Attendants to be babysitters. Couples brought their pets and were indignant when they were turned away. They didn’t seem to understand that this was a Wild Lands Park with wild animals, animals that might mistake ‘Spot’ for lunch. It had happened. Not often fortunately. It really was amazing just how dumb some people could be.
It was almost time. The Park opened at 10 am and it was almost that now. John turned his ignition on and started for the main gates. It wasn’t all bad; there were a lot of good, decent people who genuinely wanted to learn about the bears, the deer, and the other inhabitants of the forest. They were the ones that made everything worthwhile.
As John approached the main gates, he could see the people waiting patiently for the gates to open. Not everyone was waiting patiently of course: he could see a couple of cars of what appeared to be college students. We had better flag that group. Maybe they will turn out to be biology students with a real love for the forest and it’s inhabitants, and maybe not. John heaved a quiet sigh; it could be a long summer.
He watched the cars entering the park. Movement near the lodge caught his eye. Red. Specifically: red hair, long silky, red hair. It belonged to a single woman who had booked a month at the lodge that was adjacent to the park. She was quite a looker Miss Anna Wilson. Now there was an interesting story. Young, attractive, women did not spend a month at an out of the way park alone. She didn’t seem to be meeting anyone and she wandered the forest trails quite often. Always alone. She used a cane and carried a laptop computer. Why? Jessica at the lodge said she was a very nice, quiet woman. She seemed sad some how. What was she running from? She had been here a week and John had spoken to her often, going out of his way to do so. She was intelligent, but not forthcoming about her past. Everyone was entitled to their privacy. Except John was curious.
* * * * * * * * *
It had been a very long week. There was the two-year-old who had burrowed underneath the showers rather successfully. That took a couple of hours and several staff members to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. Mom wanted to go home NOW. Then there was the diamond necklace that went missing. Why anyone would bring an expensive bauble to a park went beyond dumb. It was located in the husband’s jacket pocket. He was playing a trick on his wife. As for those college students, they really were here to study the local flora and fauna. Unfortunately, they were also studying the effects of some of their own personal flora, which was definitely illegal. They agreed to leave quietly, without the illegal plants. Another one for the burn pile.
John stood at the top of the trail and looked down. It was steep, an awkward climb even for him. There was no way a woman with a cane could manoeuvre down to the cove. It was one of John’s favourite spots. Here, alone, he could think without any interruptions from tourists. He scanned the small beach and started to turn away. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a shape that did not belong. It was a woman. A woman with red hair and she wasn’t moving. Her hair was splayed out behind her as if she had fallen backwards. John started to run. It took him a full minute to reach her but she didn’t move. He looked for signs of an injury and softly called her name once, twice, three times. She stirred; eyes sleepy. She stretched like a cat. John sat back on his heels and pulled out his cell phone.
“Central, this is John. The package has been located and verified. All is well. Out.”
Anna sat up, confused. “What are you doing here?”
“Looking for you.” John snapped. He was angry. This blasted woman had the unmitigated gall to make him fall in love with her, to disappear for a full day and then not even have the decency to be injured or, or, whatever. He had been worried sick and she was fine.
The object of his silent tirade was completely unaware of the effect she was having on him or the situation away from her little cove. For that is how she thought of this idyllic spot, as hers.
“John, did you know about this spot? It’s wonderful! It is quiet and serene. I have been able to write here so easily; it is almost as if . . .. John? What’s wrong?”
Anna had finally noticed the look on John’s face. The anger was apparent, and something more, concern?
“Anna you have been gone for almost 7 hours. Jessica is worried sick. Rangers have been out looking for you ever since you failed to show up at the lodge for lunch. And how the hell did you get down here anyway?” As he spoke John’s voice grew in volume until he was almost shouting and his teeth were clenched.
Anna smiled. She tried to hide her grin but failed miserably. Of course, this made John even angrier. She stopped listening to his lecture on the dangers of the Park and instead watched his face. It was a good face, clean-shaven with a slight nick under his jaw line. He was probably distracted this morning, thinking about the latest batch of tourists. He was always concerned that each individual reaps the most from their stay at the campgrounds. He wanted everyone to love the park as he did, just as she had come to do. Anna had come to the park to escape her life. She didn’t want to end her life she just didn’t want to live it any more. Yes, John had a good face, strong, his eyes were brown, a deep inviting brown. And his body, well…. Yes, he was definitely nice to look at and his voice, well he could read a phone book out loud and still enthral a crowd. At least a crowd of one. Anna stopped smiling. Was she falling in love with this paragon of manhood? She could not allow that. That was a dangerous trail she would never venture down again.
John noticed the change in Anna’s face. Had he been too hard on her? Dammit he worried about her!
“I.. . I’m sorry I worried you, I lost track of time.” Her eyes were downcast, her voice cracked slightly.
John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face. She wore no make-up; she didn’t need any. There was no artifice to her. Everything she felt showed on her face. Right now it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else. John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.
Anna looked up the path. “It wasn’t so hard coming down, really, just slow. But it was definitely worth the effort.”
John looked at this woman that he had come to care for. They were both lonely people looking to escape their lives. Perhaps they were both here on this spot for a reason.
Coach Adamson wondered if he was doing the right thing bringing these boys to this park for the weekend. They didn’t know what had happened here, on this spot, thirty-eight years ago. Actually no one really knew what happened. Two people were gone. What they had found all those years ago was an abandoned truck and a sweater that had belonged to a park visitor. His father’s little sister. Had two lonely people run away together or had an accident claimed their lives? Coach looked out at the river, now shrouded in darkness. He had been warned that the currents near the centre of the river could be deadly. Had they been thirty-eight years ago?
“Hey Coach, does that Ranger want us to put out the fire?”
The Coach turned back to the bonfire and his charges, “What Ranger?”
“The Ranger you were just talking to with that hot chick. Wow I guess there are perks to working in an out of the way Park like this! The boys laughed and turned back to their fire and their questionable jokes.
The Coach turned back to look at the water’s edge. He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s. He looked out into darkness, they were here . . . again.
That’s it, 17 seconds. Count them, go ahead: 1-1000, 2-1000, 3-1000, 4-1000, 5-1000 ………Done? All of them? Well now guess what, phfst, snap, whoosh. Those 17 seconds no longer exist except perhaps in your memory and even that will fade.
Now a length of time measured in seconds doesn’t seem all that noteworthy, at least not to those who have a potential life span well into 90 years. Mayflies only live for 24 hours so 17 seconds would be important. And it should be to you and me as well. Minds can be changed in 17 seconds, wars can be initiated in 17 seconds, a lingering kiss can . . . Well you get the picture. A lot can happen in 17 seconds.
It takes much less time for a life to pass on, for love to bloom (ok maybe in some cases it’s only lust but it is ‘a blooming!). We spend so much time organizing, planning and cajoling and yet sometimes it is the unexpected hiccups that are the most memorable.
I once had several guns pointed directly at me. It seemed to last for a lifetime as visions of my oh so young life flashed brightly across my mind’s eye. It probably only lasted for a few seconds but OH MY WORD!!!
It was a dark and stormy night . . . Ok, ok, yes, it was dark and cold. I was on my way to a night class in Anthropology. Mid-eighties, winter. I was minding my own business, head down, when out of the corner of my eye I see dozens of huge men with drawn guns racing towards me, directly towards me. Someone screamed “FREEZE” and I froze, solid. I don’t think I dared to breathe.
Now I am told that memory is a fragile thing, often tempered by television, movies, news articles, even suggestions from other people. Well, that may be true but I am here to tell you my truth. I wasn’t afraid. Honestly. I don’t think I had the time to consciously form a thought. I was frozen, remember. The officers (only 3 or 4) raced past me and into the building I was adjacent to. Fortunately, one of them came back to release me from my frozen state. I continued on to my class and only later discovered what had happened.
It seemed some unsavoury characters were hiding in plain sight on my University Campus. Pretty smart when you think about it. The police were smarter.
Many years later I joined a Police Department. Did that encounter unconsciously point me in that direction? 17 seconds can change your life.
And one thing can be counted on to be absolutely true: Those 17 seconds will never come again. So use them wisely.
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Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
Rants, humor, sarcasm, and a haiku-like substance? It's hard to know what's going to come out of our minds next.
Just lose yourself this little while, in poetry, books, art and smile! :)
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