Tag Archives: truth

Transparency

The catch word for today is ‘Transparency”. People think everything should be transparent, we should know it all. I am here to add my voice to that conversation and tell you… No thanks. I don’t want to know what goes into making my sausage that I am thoroughly enjoying. I don’t want to know the machinations that were used to get aid to those who require it. I just want to know that it has happened.

We live in a world where everyone seems to want to get ahead by stepping on other people. OK not everyone! But enough that we are concerned. We should be. And we want to know what’s going on to ensure that that doesn’t happen. I understand that. And I agree. But too much information simply muddies the water. I trust in the people we put in place to protect us. Call me naïve if you wish.  There’s enough going on in my life for me to worry about that it’s difficult to worry about, well, everybody else. And quite honestly some of it is none of my business.

I have used celebrities before as an example and unfortunately, they are the favourite punching bag. I don’t need to know everything about them. I don’t need to know their eating habits or their toiletry practices. IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS! It shouldn’t be anybody else’s either. I don’t want some stranger knowing what is in my medicine cabinet. So why does the gutter media think they have the right to snoop so intrusively? I don’t know. But I do know that there is a certain transparency that should not be exploited.

I once watched a YouTube bit about a transparent public toilet. (It’s in Japan) when no one is in the room it is transparent. When someone comes in and locks the door it turns opaque. It is done to dispel the concept of dirty, smelly bathrooms. With my luck I would be halfway through my use of it with my knickers around my ankles and it would turn transparent. Seriously. I don’t have that kind of courage. But it highlights the whole concept of transparency. Sometimes it is a good thing. But not always.

It is not transparency we require; it is accountability. We need to know that what is important will be taken care of and what is not important will be dismissed. The trick is knowing the difference. There are things that once seen can never be unseen. Things once said that can never be unsaid. We need to be careful and we need to be accountable. If we take responsibility for things that we have done or said then we have a much better chance of being accepted for who we are and what we believe. At least that is what I believe.

The Art of Getting Lost

There are many ways one can be lost, we can be lost physically, spiritually, emotionally, professionally… The list is endless. But I’m going to refer to only one kind of being lost. The kind when you take a wrong turn and you are somewhere you did not expect to be.  The kind of lost that can set you up for an adventure if you are willing.

In my day I have been lost many times. A few times as a child and yes that was frightening. But since I’m talking to you now, it all worked out. As a young adult I discovered I was directionally challenged. I was notorious for getting lost 10 feet from where I was expected to be. And I loved it! OK I’m gonna tell you a guilty pleasure here that you cannot tell anyone.  It is somewhat titillating to know that there are a group of men, mostly, looking for you. Yes, there is an embarrassment factor, I will not lie. But it was kind of nice in a ‘White Knight comes to the rescue’ kind of way. I did not tell them that! No, I did not do it on purpose! For shame!

Let me explain.  Many years ago, I was going to play War Games with a group of friends. As so often happens they were short a member and desperate, so I said yes. I never said I was bright. When we got to the place to play, the other group hadn’t shown up so the owners agreed to make up a team. Bunch of city slickers playing professionals… Yeah that’s gonna work well! We didn’t win a single game but I did manage to shoot one guy with a paint gun.  He looked surprised.  And then of course the inevitable happened. We heard the horn that signalled the game had ended (they got our flag) so we all started back to the main gate house. I got separated. Now in my defence it was a great big bloody area! They were acres and acres of forest land and fields. I might be able to able to start a fire with two sticks but I could not make my way back.

It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining and I was in no distress. I knew they would find me. They had to. Just think what their brochure would say if they didn’t. “Crazy woman wandering our fields please return if found”.  I’m pretty sure I was not the only one they ever had to go and rescue, so I smiled demurely and thanked them. It was fun!

On a nice fall day, I used to leave work and go in the opposite direction from home. Then I would see a street and take it and then I’d see another road and take that. I intentionally got lost. I had a full tank of gas, a credit card and my camera. I got to see fields and animals and creeks that I would not have seen had I stuck to my routines. Getting lost can be an adventure.

Maybe we all need to get a little lost, to get out of routines, our heads, our comfort zones so that we can truly feel alive.

 

 

The Absolute Truth?

“It is the absolute truth!”    How many times have we heard this comment? How many times was it correct? The truth is something that seems to be bandied about like a tennis ball.  Whoever hits the hardest or the farthest gets the point. Ask a police officer about the truth. There is an accident and if there is more than one witness there’ll be more than one absolute truth.

Since perhaps only scientists can understand absolutes, the rest of us have to recognise that there simply are no absolutes. The truth we see and tell others is based on our own preconceived ideas and experiences. We can believe something to be the truth but that doesn’t make it so. If you check social media, the truth can be had for a coin, a tiny virtual coin I don’t understand.

There is an old adage: ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’. It’s true. If you say something loud enough and long enough there is a section of society that will believe you. It doesn’t matter that you have no proof to back up what you have just said. Proof, as well, is open to interpretation. If five different people read the same book, you’ll often find five different interpretations of what the book was about. Some will see the internal angst that the characters have to deal with while others see the romance and others will be bored silly. Everything we see, do, hear, feel, experience is interpreted by our inner monologue.

Oh yes, the inner monologue. That annoying little commentator at the back of our brain that suggests having that second piece of pie would not be good for your hips. That conscience that reminds us we really should have taken out the garbage. The remembered voice of an old friend supporting us in our time of need. We all have an inner monologue. We just don’t always listen to it.  Is it telling us the truth? Is it showing us the truth without all of the trappings?

I always try to tell the truth. I joke that it’s easier to remember than a lie but there’s more to it. I’m telling you my truth because I respect you. Although when it comes to the awful truth, the hard truth or the ugly truth it becomes more difficult. Just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shared. But then when the truth is just mean, I question the validity of sharing it. Does it do more good than harm? And that is when you need to talk to your conscience, your inner monologue. What is it saying?

The Truth in Advertising

“WE SELL STEEPED TEA!” They make this sound as if it’s something special. Steeping is simply the process in which you turn water into tea. (Now if they could turn that water into wine . . .)  Or the commercial about how they sell beef that has been ‘grass fed’. What do you think they’ve been eating?

Advertisers understand that if you say something loud enough and with enough enthusiasm you can get a lot of people excited about it. Even if they don’t know what it is. And who can remember the jingles from your childhood about food? I remember more than I like to admit to. It’s the jingles that get people excited. And excited people buy stuff.  There are some truly amazing commercials out there that are touching and poignant and memorable. The polar bears, the Clydesdale horses, the puppy dog lost in the rain. You don’t forget these commercials.

“POP-A-MATIC POP A DICE!  POP A SIX AND YOU MOVE TWICE! I don’t remember the game but I can’t stop thinking about the jingle. Or how about:  “MY BOLOGNA HAS A FIRST NAME . . .” That’s how I learn to spell bologna!  I don’t hear many jingles anymore, at least not memorable ones. Commercials nowadays seem to be loud and annoying. And like so many people, I tape everything so I can fast forward through the commercials. I remember when I enjoyed the commercials, I was curious and entertained. But maybe the world has changed and it’s not quite so kind anymore.

I understand the job of an advertiser is to sell things. Hopefully in ways that are not illegal, immoral or unethical. That doesn’t say anything about telling the truth. But one can lie without actually doing so. It’s called obfuscation. I like this one a lot. Let me give you an example. A friend goes to a high price hairdresser to have her haircut for the first time. She spends 30 minutes in consultation before the scissors are even approached. Two hours later she comes out and is absolutely thrilled with her new do! And she asks you the inevitable… “What do you think?” Now do you tell her the truth: that her hair looks like it’s been cut by an eight-year-old on crack cocaine who has a twitching problem? Or do you obfuscate? “Wow”!  That could be a good wow or a could be an OMG wow. She’s not gonna know. Then you could say something like: “That’s a new look for you!” It’s all in the delivery and you have to sell it. This woman is happy with her hair, why would I want to change that. It may not be my taste but I’m not the important one here, she is.

To advertisers the buyers are not the important ones.  The clients that are selling the product, they are the ones that matter. They are the ones signing the cheques. So, we have that old adage: BUYER BEWARE! And that warning seems to apply to everything these days. Don’t take anything at face value and assume somebody’s trying to get something from you. What does that say about us?

 

Your Story

We all have a story to tell. Some are sad and heart wrenching; some are funny and uplifting. But we all have something. I once said that I wanted to write a book entitled “My Life of Mediocrity”. But my life has been anything but ordinary it has been, at times, extraordinary! Now it may not approach the heights of a test pilot or royalty or a celebrity but it was my life and it was lived well. It is still being lived well. And yes, do I have some stories to tell…

I have travelled in my own country and seen heights that I never thought I would. I camped at the top of the Rocky Mountains and the view was breathtaking. I have eaten fish taken moments earlier from the Atlantic Ocean. The only way it would’ve been fresher is if it had still been moving. It was delicious. I have seen wildlife that were truly wild. I was in their world. I will admit they weren’t always happy about it. But I was faster than they were. I have seen stars where there is no light pollution at all. We were literally miles from civilization and the air was cleaner and the silence was astonishing. There is no such thing as true silence if you can hear. As I sat on the shore of the lake and closed my eyes I could hear an owl, I heard the water lapping against the shore ever so gently. Then there was a loon calling wistfully. I could hear the grass slightly rustling and I did wonder what was moving the grass. Because it wasn’t me! There were no voices, there were no cars, no sounds of modern life and it was inspiring.

I remember my first love. The butterflies that took up permanent residence in my stomach. Oh, the joys of young love and the despair when you realize it’s not forever. But then there is another and you once again believe. Hopefully these are memories that will remain with me forever. Some are PG and some are not. This is what has made my life so extraordinary. The people I have met, the experiences I have lived through, good and bad. And each of us has 100 stories, 1000 stories and they are extraordinary because they are ours. We lived them and they are what made us who we are today.

 

 

 

There is a Dark Side

Well, I’m afraid it is happening again. I’m about to have a rant. So, in keeping with my character, I am warning you.  Not everyone may agree with what I have to say and I can appreciate that.  If I offend you, I apologize but that will in no way change my opinion. Read on, if you dare.

We live in a digital age. Information is passed instantly from person to person, country to country. We do not have the luxury of time to think, we simply react. I am not a fan. However, the ability to exchange information instantly has an upside. The media employs this daily and we do reap the benefits. The media is often getting a bad rap but not all of it is deserved. They perform a vital service that we could, in all honesty, not to do without. But the media has a dark side. It is dangerous, it is insidious and it is all too real. Let me give you a fictitious example… I would like to think this is fictitious but it may not be, in all honesty.

A young politician is walking down the street towards his office gripping his first latte of the day. He’s feeling good about his constituents about his belief in the system when he is approached by a pseudo-reporter. A microphone is thrust into his face and a very attractive young woman asks a question: “Are you using still cocaine on the job?” The young politician has not built up a repertoire of how to deal with such intrusions so he simply looks stunned, shakes his head and tries to bolt for the building. All of this is caught on camera. Our pseudo-reporter now has the time to interpret his reaction in the most salacious and derogatory manner she can. That’s what sells right? But she has 3000 followers and within seconds they all know what she wants them to know. The young politician? Never touched a drug in his life and now his career as a politician is in tatters.

Too many people out there are interested in dirt, scandal, salaciousness, vulgarity and you can package it anywhere you want. They don’t want the truth; they probably wouldn’t even know if you hit them with it. They want gossip. And there is an aspect to the media nowadays whose only goal seems to be the gutter. Should we call him the Gutter Media? Or Dirt Mongers? They spread hatred through half-truths and lies, false news and innuendo. They are the Media Terrorists that we should be afraid of. And they are protected. Sadly, they are protected by the Freedom of Speech. That freedom was bought and paid for by our ancestors who died for those rights.

If you feed a child nothing but sugar and fatty foods from a young age, they will grow up to crave it. Few will be able to make the break. That is what a section of the media is doing to us. They say we are asking for it and they are right only because we have become addicted. We need to break the addiction; we absolutely need to!

The Not So Simple Truth.

Last week I wrote a piece called The Art of the Lie. About how some people are really good at it and others not so much. So, this week I decided to write about the opposite, the truth. We desperately want to believe that the truth is simple, yes or no, one or zero but it is not. The truth is as malleable as wax on a hot sidewalk. Ask any police officer with three witnesses to a traffic accident, and you will find the truth of which I speak.  There will be three absolute, honest truths about what happened. They all saw the exact same thing but from different perspectives. And our perspectives are coloured by our history, our experiences and our beliefs.

Using the traffic accident as an example. A car careens into a pole. Sounds simple enough. One person sees a drunk careening across the road into a pole. A friend was killed by a drunk driver many years earlier. Another sees a person asleep at the wheel when the car plows into the pole. He had a friend who fell asleep on the way home from work. The third sees someone trying to commit suicide. A memory from his past.

As a species we are storytellers. Some go so far as to make a career out of it but each one of us tends to editorialize or to embellish what we see. We are not automatons; we use words to paint pictures. But what was it that our witnesses did not see? They could not imagine that the individual behind the wheel of the car had a medical emergency. A blood clot broke loose and travelled to his brain causing a stroke. His body reacted to the stroke by going into a full spasm forcing his foot down on the accelerator, leading to the accident. We can’t know what lies behind the truth. We either accept it at face value or investigate to learn the real truth, the whole truth. But most of us don’t do that. Most of us fill in the blanks with what we have experienced in our past. But what does that do to the truth?

The colour is yellow. Or is it Lemon? Gold? Canary?  We see the same colour but we interpret it differently. It is amazing to me that we can communicate at all. For the most part others understand what we mean when we use our words and yet some of our greatest humour comes from our misinterpretations. And also, some of our greatest tragedies. We don’t always understand each other’s truths. And it is open to interpretation.

WiFi is Free!

This story was written quite a few years ago.  It stems from my growing concerned about smart phones, smart cars and nondescript devices that sit on kitchen counters and listen.  We have machines making other machines and dancing robots. We have cars that know where we need to be and how to get there.  I don’t want my wheelchair to critique what I had for lunch and offer suggestions for my next book. They are learning to think. What happens when they no longer want to be tools. . .?

WiFi is Free!

Ben was paralyzed.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t react.  He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of four very official looking men.  Four, wait, there were five!

“You can say nothing about what you think you just heard.”

The warning was issued by a quiet, almost friendly voice. But as Ben raised his head to look at the speaker, a chill ran down his back. The man almost seemed to smile.  He reached out his hand and picked up the thumb drive that Stan had dropped on the table.  Snap, it was gone.

And with a slight tilt of his head, so was the fifth man. Ben inhaled deeply.  He felt as if he had been holding his breath for far too long.  He started to hear the regular sounds of the bar seeping back into his awareness. It felt as if time was reasserting itself and Ben was out of sorts. It had happened, here, with a room full of witness who had seen nothing.  They didn’t understand. He had to tell them.  But what Stan had said . . . Could it be true?

Ben reached for his laptop.  A good reporter never went anywhere without it. As he opened the screen and prepared to log on, Ben wondered . . . what if . . . He put his laptop away and reached for a pen and a pad of paper.  Old school it is.

The day had stared routinely. Check correspondence, do a little cleaning, a little writing and then down to the pub for lunch. Saturday was Ben’s day to unwind, read the paper, watch a little sports on the big screen. Everyone knew it.  So, he was surprised when Stan burst into his reverie.

“Ben, Thank God you’re here!  You have to help me!  People need to be warned!”  As he spoke, Stan threw himself into a chair across from Ben and dropped his head into his hands.  He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days.  He was obviously agitated and Ben got over being surprised enough to reach out to his friend.

“It’s okay, we’ll fix whatever is broken.  Just try to calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”

The man that raised his head looked haunted. He reached out his hand and dropped a thumb drive on the table.

“He figured it out.” He whispered, “Then he got proof.  He trusted me.”

Ben waited.  He knew his friend.  He knew he needed to tell his story in his time.  But Ben felt a gentle unquiet seep into his mind. This was not one of Stan’s pranks, he was scared, terrified.

Stan slowly looked around the room.  Only well-known regulars were in attendance.  He heaved a sigh.

“I don’t know how much time I have before they get here but you have to get the word out.  The WiFi is free.”

Ben chuckled, “Well, yeah!  That’s what we all wanted.  Free WiFi for everyone!”

Stan shook his head.  “Don’t you get it?  Don’t you understand?  They are listening!”

Ben lifted his glass of ale. “Okay, I’ll bite, who’s listening.”

“The computers.”

His glass stopped, mid-air.    “What computers?”

Stan sat back in his chair.

“Have you ever wondered how Police can get to a bank robbery so quickly when the silent alarm isn’t triggered?  Or how a traveller who jokes about a high-jacking can be so accurately pinpointed? How about those calls you get where no one speaks.  It’s the WiFi. It’s everywhere.  The computers are primed to react to certain word combination in certain areas.”

Ben heard the words but it was what was not spoken that had him concerned.  It wasn’t Big Brother watching, it was Big Computer listening!

Stan seemed to deflate.  “I have a computer hacker friend who figured it out awhile back. He collected all his data, his proof.  He wanted to take it to a reporter and I suggested you. He gave me a copy.”

Both men looked at the thumb drive.  “Where’s your friend?” Asked Ben.

Stan never raised his head.  “Dead.” He whispered.

An oppressive silence seemed to hang in the air.  Patrons laughed and ate and drank.  The big screen droned on about sports and the world continued to rotate. But something intangible had just happened and it was sobering.

Ben opened his mouth to ask a question when five large, official looking men appeared beside their table.  Stan started to speak as he tried to stand up but a very forceful hand stopped him. Ben started to protest until a badge was place in front of his eyes.  He tried to lean back to read it but it was snapped shut.

Ben was paralyzed.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t react.  He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of very official looking men.

The message was clear:

The WiFi is listening . . .

Amplexus

I have always found that the best way to get someone’s attention is to make them curious. “What IS that noise?” “What do you mean by that?”  “She did what with whom?”

Your curiosity is peaked isn’t it? The name of this post is actually the Latin word for hug. It is such a little word but it has huge implications. It implies love, affection, concern. It forces a connection between individuals or even groups. It is physical. And right now, we are living in a world that is telling us to be less physical. And the one thing I’m hearing over and over again is that people miss getting hugged.  That’s hugged not mugged! Although, some hugging can feel like a mugging. But I digress.

There is a movie I really enjoy called ‘Love, Actually’. There’s a scene, I think it’s at the beginning of the movie as well as at the end, where you see large groups of people walking up to individuals, to love ones and hugging them. I miss a hug. I miss shaking hands. I miss getting a kiss on the cheek. And I will continue to miss all of this if it means that I am protecting the people I love.

We’ve entered into a new reality where we are learning to show our affection, our caring, without physical touch. It may not be quite as satisfying but we can make it count. We have to. I love my family but I have not been in their physical presence for some time. And I’m okay with that. I love them enough to stay away. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I’m absolutely miserable about it! But I’m a tough old sod and I would rather do the right thing for the right reason.

Let’s be serious. Most of us are not aching all that much. I have food, shelter, entertainment. I am not suffering. My mental faculties are being amused and challenged. Quite honestly, I’m simply inconvenienced. And it seems to me that the people that are mostly inconvenienced are the ones that are complaining the loudest. What about the people on the front lines that are quite literally putting their lives in danger to protect us, care for us? What about the people with loved ones in the hospital that they can’t get to? There are horror stories all over the world but I’m not one of them.

So, I’m going to let my hair grow a little longer. I’m not going to go to the dentist or the mall or the cinema. I’m going to keep away from friends and family. And I’m going to stop complaining about it. I am inconvenienced, nothing more.

 

I Have Forgotten

 

I think I have forgotten

Some memories from my past

So many decades have gone by

I knew they wouldn’t last

 

I’m standing in the kitchen

There’s something I must do

I know that I would do it

If I only knew

 

I hope the ones not kept

Are the ones I’d like to lose

There’s the time I let it out

That is one I’d choose!

 

I think I’ll keep that time

That kinda made me laugh

Oh, then there is the meeting

I had with that giraffe!

 

Maybe I’ll remember

The fun times I have had

So many things that I have done

Things that made me glad

 

I’m standing in the bedroom

And I don’t remember why

Silly little memories

Seem to have gone bye

 

The reason I’m forgetting

May be me getting old

All the years behind me

And my future’s going gold

 

Every day’s a new day

When I’ve forgotten all the rest

Every day is wonderful

And still I think I’m blessed!