Should family come first?

Today is Thanksgiving day.  Thanksgiving is a time of family, both for enjoying the company of your family, and for reflecting on its importance in your life.  It makes me ponder the apparently obvious question of whether family should come first?

For me family always has. My children hold an importance in my life I think they will only begin to comprehend when they have children of their own in their lives.

So, yes. Family comes first.

However that is only a partial bit of a greater truth. Another partial bit of truth is how we place the ones we love ahead of ourselves. And yet another bit of strictly personal truth {When is truth ever not personal?} is how I am biased against “first”, which is what this post is really about. Now be warned  I’m going to explore this matter at some length, so feel free to stop reading as soon as you get bored.

The initial thoughts that pop into my mind are that first requires there be a last. First turns things into a competition, and love should never be a competition. Not for children, who should never need to compete for their parents love. Not for parents, who should never love one child more than another. And not for people in love, who should never think their love is greater than that of those who love them.

Sadly, we often fail in all these instances.

Time for an admission – I really don’t like competition. Sure, when I was growing up competition was everywhere. I competed to gain an entry place into the High School I attended. I competed with every other student in my grade level for placement in the top class. I competed in sports, both team, and individual. The day scholars competed against the boarders. My school competed against others, both academically and in sports. I constantly competed against my own siblings, then we’d team together and compete against the neighbors. When I entered military service, I competed against other conscripts for officer selection training. In the School of Infantry we were split into teams that competed against each other. We also competed against the members of our own team, in order to remain in officer training. After our basic training we competed for the military units we wanted to serve in. Some competed for secure headquarters postings, and some competed to gain an active duty posting in the field of combat. I fell into the latter category.

And then shit hit the fan.

We started competing for our lives.

I am still alive.

So why do I not feel like a winner for surviving?  During the war I felt like I was, and yet my side lost.  To my first-hand knowledge, the Rhodesian Military never lost a battle, yet the insurgents won the war.  The victors write history, and the losers are soon forgotten. Years later might have been when I finally realized that in war the soldiers who do the fighting are never winners, regardless of the side on which they fight. The aftermath of war is not victorious soldiers and vanquished, faceless foes, it is victims, some of whom were once soldiers, who were once people.

Are there no winners in war?

Yes, there are winners in war.  They are the unscrupulous politicians.  They are the financiers who profit from other peoples’ deaths.  They are the manipulators calling the shots, while cowering behind the scenes. They are those who never lift a weapon in combat, yet speak loudest of Defense, Justice, and Liberty.  The winners in war are the liars and the thieves.

Mortal combat is the final competition.  Don’t mistakenly believe that combat is the ultimate competition, for ultimate has connotations of good, and there has never been, nor ever will there ever be, a good war.  Not ever, and nor ever.  Strong words?  Yes, but obviously not strong enough, since wars still ravage a humanity foolish enough to be easily manipulated by those who profit from death and misery.

Perhaps this post gives clues as to why I am so biased against “first”, even in the case of family.  You see, for me,  first connotates competition.

Competition…

Competition should for be for the joy of competing, not for mere survival.

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Does it really matter?

Everything matters.

Everything.

And often the little things we barely notice matter far more that the big.

When I was about 19 years old I broke the second and third metatarsals in my left foot. It took over six months for my foot to fully heal. It still aches sometimes. There is no comparison between the pain of an aching foot and that of an aching heart, however there is no doubt that they are both pain.

Did you know that taking pain medication has been shown to ease emotional pain? {Don’t misinterpret my saying that as an endorsement of taking pain medication to soothe a broken heart, it absolutely is not.}

I gleaned that fascinating tidbit of information from “Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior“, by Professor Mark Leary Ph.D. of Duke University. If you’re the least interested in psychology and the mysterious forces that make us do the seemingly inexplicable things we do you should take the time to listen to this course. It is simply outstanding.

While we can say we’ll forget yesterday, is that a wise thing to do? I think we might be better served by remembering how fragile emotions are, and how when we inadvertently hurt the ones we love, we invariably hurt ourselves as well. Perhaps that is the proof of what so many say, yet which I find so difficult to accept.  Namely, that we must care for ourself if we are to care for others too.

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Eden

This post is prompted in part by someone I follow on Twitter:-


In his review of my work, David mentions how he think Malmaxa is partly autobiographical. He is not far from the truth.  Perhaps this post will serve to illustrate what I mean by that.

My eldest daughter, Tamryn, has blessed us with two granddaughters. Tamryn’s oldest bears the name Eden. The “real” Eden is now five years old.  Eden is also one of the principle heroines in Beltamar’s War.

Tamryn really does not like Walmart. For non-Americans, Walmart is a super-giant general store with what many, myself included, consider to be highly questionable ethics and practices, particularly in relation to their labor-force.

Eden knows her mom doesn’t like Walmart. Eden, is smart.

Eden’s gran often spoils Eden by buying her inexpensive little toys from, shall we say “highly questionable” sources?

{Scene set.}

Eden and her mother are having a discussion during which Eden becomes emotional.  Eden uses the opportunity to say how she knows Walmart is a bad place, and then goes on to plaintively admit, “Sometimes gran takes me to Walmart, and I don’t like it!”

Isn’t it fascinating how children so desperately desire to please their parents?  At the age of five Eden displays this tendency, and yet she also uses such emotional opportunities to manipulate her mother into permitting her to retain the little gifts showered upon her by her paternal grandmother.

Something I find truly astounding is that I conceived the Eden of Malmaxa years before the real Eden, on which the Malmaxian Eden is based and to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance, was born.

Circles and flows, where we come from, nobody knows…

The joy Eden brings us cannot be purchased at any price. Her mom has absolutely no idea how lucky she is to have such a wonderfully special child.

But then every child is very special. Every child is utterly unique. And every child deserves the chance to grow into who they will one day become. Even if who they will one day become, is someone they already were long before they were conceived.

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Artists’ Hands

The hand of of my youngest daughter, Julia. Her hand holds several pieces of origami art she created from sweet wrappers.  Julia’s hand partially covers my hand, which in its turn partially covers my first book, the cover of which is filled with artwork created by my hand, and which in its turn covers another form of art, the art form I personally hold most dear. Namely, ideas cast in those squiggly symbols we see as words.

Once Art begins, does it ever end?

Once Art begins, does it ever end?

So, in other words…

Art,
atop its artist’s hand,
atop its father’s hand,
atop the artwork of the
father’s hand…

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Racism.

You probably don’t realize it, but if you’re a normal person then you’re a victim of racism. Whether your skin is light, or dark, or anywhere in between doesn’t matter a bit, you’re already one of its victims.

So what is racism, anyway? In my opinion, racism is a manifestation of a particularly unpleasant, ugly trait – a trait called greed. Greed comes in many forms. There is greed for money, greed for power, greed for fame. If anything can be quantified, then there are greedy people who want it. Perhaps the essence of greed is how it invariably demands more than its fair share.

But if greed is only concerned with quantity, what does it have to do with race? The answer is simple. For anyone to get more than their share, others must get less.

This is the reason the greedy are interested in manipulating our perceptions of race. Who are the greedy? They aren’t the parents of normal people like you and me, they are those we never see, yet who subtlety influence our every thought. They are the purveyors of power. They are those who control the mass-media. They are those who decide which fashions we’ll follow, which music plays on the radio, which books we’ll read, which movies we’ll watch, which scandals outrage us and which we ignore, and ultimately it is the hidden purveyors of power that decide who we’ll blame.

You see racism isn’t really about race at all. Racism is about identifying suitable victims for society’s simmering anger.

Deep in our hearts we all know things are not as they should be. The evidence is everywhere, and although it is irrefutable, very few of us ever pay it heed. Why? Because the powers that be have distracted us from the truth with irrelevant lies. They have given us a victim to blame for the injustice in the world. They have pointed a finger at someone identifiably different and screamed, “It is their fault!

And we have listened.

Racism isn’t about race.

Racism is about having someone easy to identify, and easy to blame.

Racism is a lie that proclaims, “Things aren’t bad because of outrageous privilege for a miniscule minority, things are bad because ‘they’ want to take your job!” Racism, the lie, draws a breath and screams, “Things aren’t bad because 85 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire world, things are bad because ‘they’ are too lazy to work as hard as you!

Racism is nothing more than a distraction from the truth. The truth is that no variety of human is superior to any other. The truth is that no matter what color our skin, the blood that flows through our veins is red. The truth is that no human is any more human than any other. And the ultimate truth is that no human is ever any less.

Racism is not new. Racism did not come into existence with the advent of Television, or Radio, or Newspapers, or with any form of mass-media. Racism is as ancient as history. It has existed for as long as humans have had power over other humans. It exists because those in power have always known that to divide is to conquer.

Racism has never been about black versus white. It has never been about pale-skinned Christians versus dark-skinned Islamics. Racism has always been about greed. It has always been a lie designed to distract the average person with an easily identifiable scapegoat on which to heap blame.

If the powerful manage to convince enough people that those who are different from them are somehow less, then it is a trivial matter to extend that pseudo-logic to assert that if they are less, then it is just that we should get more. Unfortunately it turns out that though they do indeed get less, we never get more – the ones who get more are invariably the ones in power who originally perpetrated the lie.

Since time immemorial, the powerful have manipulated the citizenry by dehumanizing the people to be subjugated. People just don’t care as much about those they think are substantially different from themselves. People will ignore horrific deeds, provided those deeds are committed against others who are seen as “different”.

Race is probably the easiest difference to identify.

But here’s the kicker. Racism has never really about the differences between “them” and “us”. It has always been about the greed of those in power. Dehumanize them, then either kill them, enslave them, or imprison them. Once one of those objectives is accomplished, the powerful are free to take whatever they want. After all, the dead don’t need land, the enslaved don’t need goods, and the property of the imprisoned is subject to confiscation.

What is the correlation between race and greed? Nothing, but if the victims have a different color skin then dehumanizing them in the eyes of society is a trivial matter. Divide by emphasizing differences, then exploit.

Were Native American tribes massacred because their skin is darker? Or did the colonialists covet their land?

Were the Salem Witch Hunts really about witches? Or were they about people stealing by confiscating?

Did the Nazis murder millions of Jews because of their dark hair and skin? Or did the most powerful Nazis covet the accumulated wealth of the Jewish sector?

Does Israel maltreat the Palestinian People because they are Islamic Arabs? Or because a downtrodden people must worry about survival before they think about why they cannot own land in their homeland?

Why was the United States of America so shamefully reluctant to end slavery? Because black people are only three-fifths of white people? Or because wealthy slave owners wanted to continue exploiting poor slaves?

Racism has always been about exploiting others. While superficially it might seem to be about color, the equally ugly reality is that it is always about greed.

Racism subtlety proclaims that since they are obviously less than us, it is fair that they should get less than us. Racism subtlety proclaims that since they are beneath us, it is fair that they should have the jobs that are beneath us. Racism is not subtle.

There are enormously obvious errors in such thinking…

  • There is only one earth, and we are all its children.
  • There is no us and them, there is only we.

Regardless of skin color, the blood of every human is red. Let us never forget that, and let us never shed blood to preserve false differences that we must be taught exist.

Have you ever had a chance to watch toddlers of different races playing together? I have, and it is a beautiful thing. Toddlers are blissfully unaware of their differences. To toddlers, race is no more a barrier to friendship than language or gender. When, and why, do we teach our children that the color or their skin, or the shape of their genitals, or the gods of their parents choosing matters more than unity? Why do we propagate the lie that racism is, and has always been? Why do we teach our children to be intolerant of differences that are easily visible to every adult eye, yet which toddlers do not see? Why do we teach our children that the content of a person’s character is less important than the color of their skin? Why do we lie to our own children by following the hidden agendas of the purveyors of power?

Look into your heart, if you’re a racist you’ll soon find signs. If you do, then the people who taught you to become one are probably your parents. But don’t stop there. Ask yourself who taught the people who taught you. Once you know where the lie began, it becomes easy to see where the lie will end. With you. Now. At this very moment. Please don’t teach your children the color of their skin matters an iota.

I once said, “Without diversity is doom.” That statement holds true for all of nature. Humanity is part of nature.

Racism is an abomination no different from slavery. It is time humanity raised a collective voice of outrage and abolished it.

{PS. If you’d like to visit a world stripped bare of the trivialities that make humanity act so poorly, of which race is but one, you can – simply click this link and start reading now. It won’t cost you a dime, but it will cost you your time.}

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Texting.

~ Don’t ~

Never walk and text.
Walk, and breathe.
Walk, and see.
Walk, and talk.
Walk, and listen.
Walk, and touch.
But walk and text?
It stops all
the above.

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Feelings.

Is it even possible to feel, let alone love, the same way toward two separate people? Both intuitively and logically, I don’t think it is. No two people are the same. Nor are any two relationships the same.  So believing we can feel the exact same way toward any two individuals really doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps part of the problem is how we humans are so intent on measuring things?

Why do we try and quantify our feelings?

Though they sometimes feel burdensome, do feelings actually have weight? Though we assign feelings depth, is depth a measure by which we should compare our feelings for any two people?

We know the ones we love.  However measurements begin to fail when we attempt to determine those we love the most, and even worse, those we love the least.

Perhaps the truth is that love truly is incomparable?

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Blind Dates.

With virtually everyone we meet, we follow a certain path. In this blog post, I’m going to consider that path, which too often leads us nowhere.

First, our eyes scan. That takes a fraction of a second, sometimes it happens so fast our eyes don’t even need to move, a single retinal image is all that’s required for the instinctive processes to run. Within the next instant, or perhaps within the same moment, we have already cataloged and made our first judgment.

Interesting / Not Interesting / Perhaps / Definitely / WOW! / Yuck! / etc. etc. etc…

{This is a major reason I believe there will never be “artificial intelligence”. Computers have an option of two possibilities, thinking beings have options unrestricted by numbers.}

Once we’ve made that initial multifaceted categorization, it is very difficult for us to change it. We seldom even consider approaching, further investigating, or paying real attention to anyone who falls beneath a certain perceptive level. Likewise, for those who pass sight’s first momentary muster, we’re unwilling to discard them even when they prove themselves to hold no qualities we value, besides their looks.

Personally speaking, I have always been very strongly attracted to short, dark haired women. I’ve spent many hours wondering why and never been able to come up with any satisfactory reason. My mother is taller than average and has pale hair.  So much for Freud! {Who I have always considered to be a complete fraud. :)} Since I can’t explain this powerful physical preference logically, I think it might be somehow encoded into my psyche. However, there are self-taught exceptions to my encoded preferences. I’m fairly certain if you examine yours closely you’ll find you have similar exceptions. Here is an example. In high school I developed an enormous crush on my English Literature Teacher, who did not fit into my mysterious encoding for “should be short and dark haired”. As a student I had no choice but to spend time listening closely to everything she said.  This gave me a chance to learn what an amazing person she was. Ever since then, if a woman has a resemblance to Miss Earl I find them attractive. They get an instant pass.

Read back and you’ll see a lot of things have been visually processed, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of how our choices are made.  Anyway, all of this visual determination and categorization happens long before we’ve said a single word. Long before.

How sad is that?

How many wonderful relationships never even get a chance to start because one or the other person has already made a start / stop determination before a single word has been shared? Before a single pheromone has been delivered? Before a single lip has curled, either up or down? Before we actually know anything about their character, values, religious beliefs, or individual preferences – which are probably just as limiting as our own?

Love at first sight truly exists.

I know that for an absolute, unquestionable fact because it happened to me with my wife Suzanne. The key concept up until this point, is “sight”. Marketers know this, as evidenced by their use of attractive people in commercial advertising. {I wonder how many physically ugly politicians have ever been democratically elected?  Conversely, I wonder how many pretty people with horribly flawed characters have?}

I’m guessing the first criteria on-line dating sites use to narrow choices to potential dates, is a picture. Before on-line dating, many people met via something called “blind-dates”. I set up and went on a few of those myself. I can tell you the first real question asked was always “What do they look like?” Sure, we try might try and couch ourselves as not so shallow by leading in with something else, but the real make or break question was always about looks.

Humans are visual beings. Think about it logically and you have to agree this is simply undeniable. Now let me ask you something. Where does that leave people who are without the benefit of sight? I imagine that with the first enormous hurdle removed, of an image permitting or preventing further interaction, blind people are far more open to diversity. However I don’t know that, I’m just imagining it.

Have people without the gift of sight been given other gifts? I think so. Perhaps not limiting their friendships based on something as illusory as sight is one such gift?

When next we meet someone, let us all try to be blind. Let us impose an image we love over their visual form, then listen and let them reveal who they truly are inside – we might well be surprised.

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Destiny

The world, and everything within it moves in cycles. Every cycle impacts every other. We’ve just forgotten that truth.

Makers of our own destinies? Walkers on the preset paths of destiny might be more true.

Does the path of destiny meander? Who knows, but where it leads, there do I surely go.

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Hope.

~ Hope ~
~
Hope, for happiness.
But of what?
The flesh?
Or of the vine,
that thee and me entwine.
~
Hope for mortal sin?
Or hope,
for the virtue
that also dwells within.
~
Hope for a touch,
and if such hope
should prove too much,
hope for a word to soothe,
to refute reality’s
cold cruel crush.
~
Hope for words,
neatly formed up in rows,
as pleas,
or simply hope
for words,
that please.
~
Hope, it is so many things,
Hope, for what?
For Happiness, of course.
Such a simple,
silly,
special thing…
~

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Relationship Testing.

My first really serious girlfriend, to whom I eventually became engaged only to eventually go our separate ways, once said something along the lines of, “We have to test our relationship.

My mind completely rebelled at the very idea. Why?  Because once you start testing, when do you stop?

Testing a relationship is a truly stupid thing to do.

It places a completely unnecessary strain on something that should never be strained.  Relationships don’t break because they are weak, they break because they are tested beyond their breaking point.  If they are weak relationships dissolve naturally without ever being subjected to a test.

Am I saying we should never say or do anything that places the slightest strain on a relationship?  Absolutely not, because in itself that would be a massive test of one side of the relationship – our side.  If you’re not free to be you, then you’re a slave, and if you’re a slave… well then you should strive to be free.

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Who writes?

The answer, is very, very few. In our time of instant gratification, instant messages, poor grammar, shortcuts to shortcuts, and attention spans measured in milliseconds very few take the time to actually write.

That my favorite youngest daughter, Julia, is one of those who do somewhat redeems my flagging faith in humanity. How has it come to be that we “don’t have the time” to do the things that matter, yet we have the time to focus our eyes downward onto a little device and completely believe the little alerts it constantly bombards us with are a measure of our worth?

Ting! {A text message!  Someone cares about me!}

Here is a heads-up. If they really cared they would visit you.  Failing visiting, they would call and talk to you.  Failing talking, they would write you.  Write, as in actually put pen to paper. Failing pen to paper, they would put fingers to keyboard and email you.  There is one thing all these things that people who really care about you have in common. Every one of them results in a conversation. A conversation… You know, where a couple of people actually talk to each other?

The following is not a conversation.

how r u
gud u
cool thx
gtg bi

Sure, texting can be used as a way to let someone know you might be thinking about them. Yes, texting can reinforce a relationship, provided it adds another dimension to an existing one. However, if texting is the basis  of your relationship, well you don’t have a relationship.

This is a draft copy of a Letter Julia spent hours writing to her Grandma, I deftly snagged it before it ended up in the waste paper bin. Notice her name at the bottom? She spent hours more teaching herself how to write cursive in order to make her signature look nicer.  {Cursive is a skill our schools now deem of insufficient importance to teach.}

Julia cares about her Gran, and here is the evidence.

Who Writes?The next time you think about texting a cryptic message to someone you really care about, think about what your partial line message says about your caring.  Think about this post. Then key in their number and call them. Or write them, even if they never know you do, you know you do.

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Pinpricks of light

I’ve been in a miserable mood lately. For various reasons. Editing on “The Pilgrimage” has ground to a halt as my editor recovers from illness. I’ve recently recovered from a nasty cold. {What a redundant statement – who ever heard of a pleasant cold?} My wife resigned from her work due to some co-worker who took it upon himself to make her life miserable, the direct result being that our children and I also felt miserable. However, my woes aren’t what this post is about.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to hit you up to buy my book with the old sympathy ploy.

In fact, I’m feeling a little better today.  Interestingly enough the thing that made me feel better was a radio commercial. {Though I think laughter is the best medicine, it wasn’t a humorous commercial. In fact, it was a very serious commercial about a very serious problem.}

The commercial began by describing how I could get a free diabetes test. The skeptic side of me immediately leapt into the fray in anticipation of the usual, “just give us your firstborn, your social security number, mailing address, email address, cell phone, and of course you credit card information to pay the so small it is barely worth mentioning shipping and handling fee.” However the usual caveat-emptor laden disclaimer murmured at high speed in a barely intelligible rush at the end of the commercial never happened. You see, the advertisement was for the American Diabetes Association, and the radio station ran it as a free public service.

I don’t need a diabetes test. Yes, I had type-2 diabetes, and yes, I was prescribed oral medication, but I eventually resolved my condition by modifying my diet. {Okay, so I might need a diabetes test, however that is a moot point!}

The real point of this post is this.

Tens of millions of Americans, particularly the poor, and specifically African-Americans, are afflicted by this treatable disease. They need all the help they can get, and there actually are non-profit organizations out there that not only can help them, but will. We live in a dark world. Non-profit organizations such as the American Diabetes Association are pinpricks of light that pierce the darkness. I encourage you to seek their aid if you might need it, and if you don’t… well. then please lend them your aid instead.

For your convenience, here is a link directly to the American Diabetes Association’s donations page.

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Nightmares.

Very early this morning I had a nightmare.

In this bizarre dream I was working on resolving a physical wiring mess that involved getting to a wiring closet in another building. To get to the other building we had to run down a deserted road and cross over a blind intersection. As we crossed the intersection a police car raced into view with its lights flashing. This invoked a fear we’d be ticketed for jay-walking. The police car stopped and two officers got out, inexplicably one officer was laboring to push the other in what looked like a four-wheeled cart. They ignored us, however as they went past I noticed that the officer in the cart had a badge that proclaimed him to be the Chief. As soon as they passed us, they vanished. Our next obstacle was to get into the wiring room, which was on the second floor of the building, a long flight of metal stairs lead up to the doorway, unfortunately the doorway had been concreted over.
At this, the person who was accompanying me, and who I didn’t know said he knew a way through the inside. Suddenly we were inside, however it was filled with booby-traps. To further complicate matters the floor was sprinkled with Nitrogen tri-iodide, a substance we used to manufacture as teenage children and deploy in our ongoing war with our neighbors, the Meshas. Sight of the Nitrogen tri-iodide sparked a memory of my brother Chris, who lost the top knuckle of his middle finger as a result of a mishap with a carefully made packet of the volatile substance, which we had encased in a worn out stocking to let dry.

In the way of dreams, Chris was suddenly and unquestioningly part of the team as the three of us negotiated our way through the traps.

In turn, seeing Chris appear in the dream sparked a memory of his death in real life. In the dream this manifested as him being entwined into a scene I recently saw from a snippet of a Breaking Bad episode in which the brother of some bad guy is executed. In the nightmare Chris was killed by one of the booby-traps shooting him through the head. I pressed on alone. Somehow the wiring problem seemed more important than Chris’s death, and the unknown person who had been accompanying me had vanished. He just wasn’t there anymore.

When I reached the actual problem it manifested as an intricate tangle of tiny electrical wires. I looked into the clump and immediately saw the problem, which was that the white-green and green wire pair had mysteriously come loose. I reached into the tangle, touched the wires and the entire tangle unraveled. This broke hundreds of connections between wires that should never have been connected, and for which I had no map to reconnect.

Seeing all those connections broken induced panic, which awoke me. I immediately reached over, pressed the button on my cell phone, and noted the time. It was 11 minutes past midnight.

Looking back on this horribly unpleasant dream I wonder if my subconscious is talking to me…

Is my running down a deserted road a reflection of the travel I too often must undertake for my job? Are the booby-traps and seemingly harmless, yet dangerously explosive Nitrogen tri-iodide patches blocking my path indications I am being set up to fail, or am setting myself up to fail? Am I being distracted into thinking that work, symbolized by the tangle of wires, is more important than those I love, symbolized by my brother Chris’ death within the dream?  Am I the bad guy for surviving the accident in which my brother died, symbolized by my realizing, while still experiencing the dream, that the bad guy’s brother was executed?

Is my subconscious warning me that what I achieve in my work-life is utterly pointless, as symbolized by the myriad connections at the end of an arduous path unraveling and all my efforts amounting to naught? Is it letting me know nothing I accomplish work-wise will ever make things better and will actually make things a lot worse for my family, symbolized by my brother’s death in the dream?

Is my nightmare reinforcing my unshakable understanding that time taken from the ones we love in order to work can never be replaced, and might indeed directly result in the death of our most valuable relationships?  Is this unshakable belief based on partly recollected dreams?  Are dreams worth basing our beliefs on?

Are dreams merely dreams?

Sometimes dreams hold pleasure, and sometimes they hold pain. Regardless of what emotions dreams unveil, they always bring insights into who we might one day be.

Dreams are very important to me. I believe we seldom pay them the close attention they deserve. What are dreams or their frightening siblings, nightmares? To me, they are the manifest language of my soul talking to my physical body. With that thought in mind, I’d like to share a related snippet of my work, Beltamar’s War with you. It appears below and encompasses a conversation between Zunesan and two of her daughters, Liaju, and Ryntam. In Malmaxa, a “cincture” is an all-encompassing investigation, which Liaju is in the process of completing as this conversation takes place.

The following text is from Chapter 13, Section V, it is titled “Reunions, and Cinctures”.

Daring to breathe again, Liaju slowly relaxed, only then realizing how rigid her body had been.
Pride evident in her voice, Zunesan said, “You treat the cincture with the care it warrants. Considering the nature of your dreams, this is especially pleasing.”
Ryntam sat straighter when she overheard her mother’s words. Overcome by curiosity, and unable to stay her tongue, she repeated them, “The nature of your dreams?”
Realizing Ryntam had no knowledge of Liaju’s dreams, which had begun in the early spring after Ryntam had left from the winter stay, Zunesan turned to face her oldest daughter, “Liaju is plagued by riddles and portends hidden within dreams. But this is not the time, we will speak of them later.”
With a quick nod, Ryntam looked back to her sister, eyes bright and intent as she considered this new knowledge.
Self-doubt had completely replaced Liaju’s earlier confidence. Voice unsure, she muttered, “I placed greater value on those dreams than they deserved. Sometimes dreams are merely dreams.”
Zunesan snorted dismissively, “Dreams are always dreams, child. Yet portends are seldom granted, and still more rarely are they clear or intelligible. Back to work. I don’t want to be here all night.”

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Forgiveness.

Some ancient wisdom strikes at the very root of truth. Which is probably why we consider it so wise. Take this modern English version of a line from a lengthy poem by Alexander Pope, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Succinct and simple at first glance. Now let us delve into the wisdom buried within.

First a little background. I was browsing the timeline of a simply complex man who walks alongside me on Twitter’s path. That path can be painful at times, studded as it is with uncut gems. @DaveGrigger posted a link to a post regarding forgiveness that you may choose to read.

My subsequent reading of the post referred to caused my own reflection on the nature of forgiveness.  I responded with my own version of the truth:

The only way we humans ever truly forgive, is when we forget.

Do I wish I could forgive? Of course, as forgiveness strikes me as a most worthy thing to do. Unfortunately, there is a caveat that renders forgiveness impossible for any human save a simpleton.

Outrageous!

No, simply the truth as I see it. You see, for forgiveness to be real requires that there be no exceptions to it. True forgiveness must be absolutely unconditional. We can’t partially forgive someone. We can’t conditionally forgive someone. We can’t forgive them, with reservations and exceptions. Thus the only way we can ever truly forgive someone who has wronged us, is to completely forget they did. That requires us to be a simpleton who is completely incapable of remembering. I don’t believe such simple humans exist.

Let me use an example to try and clarify my meaning along with my understanding of what I think Alexander Pope meant. I’m unlikely to succeed, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

Someone deliberately deceives us in order to win a contest.

We forgive them.

We enter another contest. They deceive us again, and win again.

If we are truly capable of forgiving, then there is no limit to the number of times they can repeat the wrong they do us. Do you know anyone who is capable of such forgiveness, other than a complete simpleton?

If we truly forgave them the first time they deceived us, then forgiving them again is easy. However that is not the nature of humans anywhere. Though we forgave them the first time, when they repeat their deceit we remember the first occurrence. Since we remember their treachery, we have not truly forgiven it. The most we have done is grant the wrongdoer leniency, while retaining the right to withdraw such leniency.

That is not forgiveness. Not at all.

Forgiveness is far beyond the realm of human behavior. So far beyond that it can only be in the behavior of the divine.

I’ll leave you with one last thought. Forgiving someone who has not wronged us really isn’t forgiveness at all, it is arrogance. It makes countless assumptions about whatever deed we deem worthy of forgiveness, it makes further assumptions about the person or people who were wronged, and it attempts to place us in judgment over the actions of others. What is that, save arrogance?

To forgive requires two things. First, that we are personally wronged. Second, that we completely forget.  I don’t wish either of those on anyone.

Now look back on the number of words in this post.  Compare them to the number of words in Alexander Pope’s poetic line, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.”  Honestly, I think Alexander Pope said all I have said and more, in barely a single line…

Ancient wisdom, indeed.

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