on Religious Persecution

Religious Persecution is alive and well.

Where?

Why virtually anywhere you care to name, including this great bastion of democracy that took the brave steps of entrenching protections against religious persecution into its constitution, namely the USA.

The thing most people don’t consider about religious persecution is that it is the religious who are doing the persecuting as much as it is the religious who are being persecuted. Sure, they often persecute believers of religions who dare differ from theirs, but they also persecute people who dare to abandon theirs, to switch to religions other than theirs, and even those people who have never ascribed to any religion at all.

The religious are the persecutors.

That is an undeniable fact.

The religious are the persecutors. Though they may sometimes be the persecuted, they are always the persecutors.

Yes, there are radical atheists who vocally proclaim their lack of religious belief. However I have yet to see a bunch of atheists inciting others to mass murder. Not now, in our present time, or ever in the annals of history. Not even in the history of the USSR, which promulgated some of the toughest reforms against organized religions.

Do you think I’m referring to the current persecution of Christians by Islamics?

Think again.

Think back in history and recount the crimes against humanity committed by Christians. What a sordid series of atrocities virtually without end. How many hundreds of millions has Christianity murdered and tortured during its course? How many thousands of precious and unique cultures has Christianity not only destroyed, but utterly obliterated from written history?

What Christianity has done to humanity must surely count as some of the worst examples of religious persecution.

And now think back into the present and recount the crimes against humanity currently being committed by Islamics. I am certain you don’t need my guidance to find the appalling evidence of Islam’s excess.

What Islam is doing and has done to humanity must surely count as some of the worst examples of religious persecution.

Yet religion remains at the root of countless other less obnoxious persecutions against individual freedom and liberty. In the USA same-sex marriage has just been declared constitutional. What has the holdup been in allowing loving couples to love each other openly and with the full and equal protection of the law? That holdup would be religion.

Does religious persecution still exist? Undeniably. However its perpetrators remain the same as they have since our most ancient of histories – other religions.

Lest you think I exaggerate try standing up in public view anywhere in the USA, where Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion are constitutional guarantees, and say “I am no longer a Christian.” I wonder who will persecute you for such a pronouncement?

I don’t really wonder at all…  Do you?

{PS. So what do I believe?  Am I religious, or am I not? I don’t know the answer to that with any certainty, however I do know I don’t subscribe to belief in any singular all-powerful deity.  But if you’re interested in what I believe you may find some of the answers here.}

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Suns and their Sets

~ Suns Rise to Set ~
~
Upon the planets of a thousand suns
do a thousand sunsets
die
then with a thousand dawns
are they resurrected
again
their faces reform upon their
worlds and within every watching
eye
may I my every sunset
my you,
let go
for at my every dawn
my you,
will I behold
again
and as I my body down
upon my sleeping bed do
lie
may your moon forever
be the moon that in my dreams
I see
and thus
my you
do I
never need relinquish
again…
~

Luna in all her glory - by Julia

Luna in all her glory – by Julia

A post, for every lover of Art in all its myriad forms.

I hope you enjoy my poem, and my favorite youngest child’s magnificent, and incredibly difficult to accomplish, capture of our beloved moon.

Julia is a very special young lady. She is a true artist, filled and motivated by compassion and love. Several of her poems appear sprinkled throughout my blog, search through some of the Poetry and you’ll find her words. I don’t doubt they will touch your heart.

Julia is special for another reason. She is also the principle Heroine in my work, Malmaxa. I say principle, for within that work are many Heroines and even a Hero, or two.

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on Realistic Writing Goals

I have never been a goal oriented sort of guy. My motivations have always been the journey rather than the destination. But sometimes perhaps we have to set realistic goals or we spend so much time enjoying the journey that we never get to its end. I’ve often tried to set targets in my writing, but ultimately I never do. Why? Because my writing is the journey, which makes completion of the work the destination.

Am I saying I’ll never finish Malmaxa? Not at all. Indeed I already know the entire tale, in all its beauty and all its pain. I am intimately familiar with ever twist and turn in every character’s path. In my writing I am the unseen, yet ever present and ultimately unavoidable Hand of Fate. It is me who sits at the loom and threads in the colored thread that each character’s story is. It is me who makes the yarn from which their threads are formed. It is me who already sees the finished tapestry. And it is me who feels compelled to make the work as true to that elusive image as I possibly can.

In a way this could mean I have already finished the journey and all that remains is for me to document it. That is not untrue. However my role as author of Malmaxa might well be compared to that of a Roman building a road.

Bear with me for a few moments while I flesh out this analogy.

Today, road building is a trivial affair. A machine scrapes a shallow trough through the earth. Another machines packs down the ground. Another machine dumps a load of gravel into the bed the first machines have formed. Another machine packs it down again. Another machine comes along and either pours concrete or tarmac onto the gravel bed. Leave it to set for a day, and it’s done.

The focus of road building today is to turn out miles of road, fast. It is not to build roads that last.

Roman roads are nothing like modern ones. They were literally built by hand. And they were built to last. Two thousand years, and we still have Roman roads. Compare their longevity to modern roads…

Malmaxa is my Roman road. I am not building it fast, I am building it to last. Every sentence is hand crafted, then smoothed and polished till it fits as perfectly between the preceding and following sentences as a Roman flagstone fits between its neighbors. This task cannot be done fast.  It just cannot.

A Roman road stands up to the test of time. It can be traversed for centuries.  If you walk it barefoot every time you do it will tell your feet a different tale. Likewise with Malmaxa. Read it once, and you’ll see one tale. Read it again, and you’ll see another. Yet you’ll still be treading the same road, with the same flagstones beneath your feet.

Enjoy the journey more than you anticipate its end…

The thing I most like about the reviews Malmaxa has garnered is how often they mention this is a work that warrants re-reading. As the craftsman engaged in building it that makes me very proud, and very thankful.  That my readers are willing to give up their time to compose their thoughts on my work touches me deeply.

Allow me to apologize for the delay in re-releasing “The Pilgrimage”. Though that road is set, its flagstones were not as flush as the craftsman in me demands.  I am once more tamping them into place using a tool which I am only able to wield infrequently, namely the spare time left after my working day is done.

And for all of you unique people out there who long to share their story, let me share this thought with you:-

Write your story your way for you, then publish it, or not. The healing is more in the writing than it is in the reading.

{Should you be tempted to sample Beltamar’s War, the first book in the Malmaxa series, you may do so for free, right here, right now, right in your browser. I hope you see between the sentences and are tempted to support me by purchasing a copy, and possibly even reviewing it.  Thank you ~ Charles.}

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on the Young

There is something special in the tentative, vulnerable smiles of very young girls.

I wonder what happens to them that they lose that precious innocence?  Perhaps it is when they pass beyond adolescence into young adulthood and begin to realize boys are easy prey to their wiles.  When this happens, some mistakenly think all men are their eager subjects. Yes, I think that may be the point at which they eschew innocence in favor of manipulation.

Sadly what they give up, they never regain.

I have always been willing to share smiles with the young, but since I matured I find myself less willing to appear friendly toward teenage and older girls. This is partly because in modern society friendliness can be misconstrued, however it is also because I have a strong dislike of being manipulated.

Saddest of all, to me, is this undeniable truth – the very young are able to easily twist us about their smallest finger.  This magical power, which all babies possess, exists right up until they realize they possess it, at which time it mysteriously ceases to be.

Is that the way of all magic? That it loses power with realization of its effect?

The rain is tears shed by the sky, until we understand precipitation.

The moon lights the heavens on the darkest of nights, until we realize it barely reflects the sun.

The ocean fights a perpetual battle with the shore, until we reduce its majestic armies to the tide.

Resist the urge to shut your eyes to the everyday magic that surrounds us, for eyes so closed never reopen to its wonders.

 

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on Fate’s Odds

Followers of my blog may realize I am a believer in Fate. Every passing year has increased this belief to the point I now find it hard to understand how anyone could not realize Fate is the rider that pulls our reins.

Is who we are right now the result of an enormous number of chance occurrences, each of which is itself the result of the same?

Mathematically, those odds are not good. And those bad odds get exponentially worse with each iteration we follow the chain of chance backwards. Soon the odds of anything happening become so remote they become infinitely unrealistic.

To clarify what I mean let me provide you with a chain of events, specifically leading to my writing this blog post today. You may be the judge of their likelihood.

By chance my father meets my mother while his family is on a international vacation. They see something in each other. The vacation ends, but before it does they exchange addresses. They correspond {by snail mail}. The bond between them strengthens. Chance results in my father’s father relocating to The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.  Chance dictates this is the country in which my mother was born and raised.  My parents become engaged and marry.  They conceive three boys, then me, then my twin sisters and finally my youngest brother.

Nothing particularly unusual.

Really?  Let us consider the math.  The average human ejaculate contains about one hundred and eighty million sperm.  Statistically, there was a one is 180m chance of my conception. Let us call that number the HumanBase, for the base chance of existence of any human is at least that number.

However I am not a stand alone person, nobody is.  Who I am is a combination of two things. Specifically my genetics and my circumstances. In this you are no different than me. So, considering only my immediate family, which is a ludicrously simplified way to consider this, who I am may be mathematically described by this equation:-

Charles = (180m x 180m x 180m x 180m x 180m x 180m x 180m x 180m)

or

Charles = (Mom x Dad x Piet x Chris x Jan x Libby x Sarah x Nick)

Simplistically speaking, I am who I am because of my parents, modified by my brothers and sisters, who are each the result of a similar equation.

More realistically, I am who I am because of my parents, modified by my interactions with every other human with whom I have come into contact, each of who may be fundamentally described as a HumanBase modified by a similar number of interactions.

How many atoms are there in the universe, I wonder?  I wonder how many times that number would fit into the odds against either you, or me?

Mathematically speaking the odds against any one of us being who, when, and where we are at precisely this instant are infinitely great.  Yet we are, and we are not alone.

What greater evidence of Fate do you require?

 

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Dwelling in the Details

There is an expression which states, “The devil is in the detail.”  In any country chronically obsessed with the letter of the law, this expression is extraordinarily true.  Indeed, perhaps the expression should be updated to reflect current times.  Maybe to something along the lines of, “The Devil dwells in legalese.

Mistruth undeniably finds a much easier abode in complexity than it does in simplicity.  However, the deliberate framing of complicated duplicity into law is not the focus of this post.  My focus today is the importance of our perception of the tiniest details.

How important are these little details?  In the past I’ve written on how a butterfly’s breath changes the world.  To me, and I believe to every living creature, details are that important.

I am constantly delighted to find evidence things other than devils dwells in the the tiniest details.  Sadly these miniscule elements often go unnoticed.  Below are two photographs I took using my cellular device {I refuse to call it a smartphone as it completely lacks any intelligence.}  I must stress that these photographs are completely unedited.  They exist precisely as taken, at my device’s full resolution.

Since they are images of things I find mysteriously and inexplicably beautiful, namely flowers, it strikes me as fitting they should contain undeniable evidence of love.  After all, aren’t beauty and love cohorts in the same emotional domain?

Examine them and see what you find.  But be warned, you may need to hone your eyes…

a dying flowerEven as flowers begin to curl and die, their beauty remains.
Even their blemishes are symbols of beauty.
No, those speckles are not photographic artifacts.

focal pointsBeauty and natural color so vibrant and spectacular my camera literally cannot capture it.

If you’re viewing this page with a cellular device you may not have the ability to click on the images to see them at full resolution.
Too bad…

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Wisdom’s Path

Difficulties, are these the names of the stones the pave the path to understanding?

Difficulty, these are the large stones with smooth surfaces over which our feet flow, or upon which we stub our toe.

Pain, these are the jagged little stones we never notice, until they cut our feet.

Anguish, these are the invisible stones over which we trip, and never think we’ll find the strength to rise.

Misery, these are the stones of salt with which the wounds of pain, we bathe.

It should be no surprise that Understanding is a destination very few attain. Yet it is only beyond Understanding that we will find Tolerance, and only far past Tolerance that we might hope to eventually find Wisdom.

Shoes? I think they cannot be worn on any of these paths, all of which are ultimately one.

Where do the feet of your spirit guide you?  To smooth paths on which you will experience few of life’s discomforts, yet upon which you will find little sustenance for your soul?  Or to the path of difficulty, where you might?

I would like to think mine guide me toward Understanding, but I know my feet are soft.

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Wildflower Blue

~ Blue ~
~
Blue,
the color of woe,
of tears
that have no place to go.
Blue,
the color of mood,
not joyful but low.
Blue,
the color of hearts
so sad they glimmer
not glow.
Blue,
the color of ocean and sea
endlessly pulled hither
and fro.
Blue,
the color of our moon
maker of tides
relentless though
slow.
Blue,
the color of the depths
below.
Blue,
the color of sky,
the regal dome over earth
so high.
Blue,
the color of space
between.
Blue,
the color of souls
unseen.
~

and another poem, of a flower, an image of which follows.

~ Wildflower Blue ~
~
Wildflower blue
upon the plain
patiently awaiting
the coming rain.
Wildflower blue,
so patient and true,
what has the wind
done to you?
Burst your pods wide
your seeds to set free
wildflower blue
So patient
So true
~

Wildflower Blue

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On Happiness

Many believe they are happy. Many believe they are not.

What is happiness? An illusive, impossible dream?

Would we be happy if we had a little more? Would we be unhappy if we had a little less?

If you’re wondering whether you are truly happy, then here is an exercise to help you decide.

Imagine time travel is real, however there is one inescapable catch. When you travel back you forget everything that has already happened, including that you have traveled back and are reliving something that has already occurred. Everything that previously occurred will recur, precisely as it did before.

Nothing changes.  Not a breath, not a moment. Every instant you relive is repeated. Nothing changes.

If you know this and would do it all again, without the slightest change, then you have known happiness.

Happiness realized: Is the truest measure of happiness, that we would go back in time to relive it precisely as we already have?

Where does happiness dwell? In the past, in the moment, or in the future? Happiness Realized, is the past. Momentary Happiness, is now. Unrealized Happiness, is the future.

Should we trade Unrealized Happiness for happiness that is real?

What is happiness that is real? It is the happiness we have now, soon to become a memory.  You may be tempted to trade your current moments for possible moments that may never come. That decision is entirely yours and yes,  there are times when the payoff is huge.  For example investing time in your friendships, or increasing your exercise to reduce your weight. However there are many times when there is no payoff at all and all you ever get is the possibility of future happiness.  Experience may teach you to tell the difference.  Personally speaking, I’m not willing to do something that makes me miserable yet promises to reward me at some indeterminate time in the future.  But you’re not me, are you?

Perhaps the following mantra might touch you…

Live the future such that you’d gladly relive it once it becomes the past.

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Tamryn

The names that touch our Souls.

Some think I named our oldest daughter.  Some think I made up her unique name, for until she bore it I knew of no other who did.  I did neither of those things.

Tamryn.

While still a teenager I had a dream in which I learnt my first child would be a girl, and that her name was Tamryn.  Not that her name would be Tamryn.  That her name already was Tamryn.  This happened about eight years before I met my then future wife, the same wonderful woman to whom I have now been married for so close to twenty-nine years it doesn’t count.

Early in our courtship, during opening negotiations, I said this to Suzanne, “Oh, by the way, our first child will be a girl and her name will be Tamryn.” {What are proposals of marriage if not negotiations of crucial importance to our long-term happiness and well-being?}  My statement was an assertion of fact, not a negotiable element in our relationship. To my surprise Suzanne accepted, with the proviso she would have the right to name our second born.  {She did, and Dannielle has rejected attempts to correct the spelling of her given name ever since, but that is an amusing story for another day :)}.

When Suzanne fell pregnant with Tamryn her gynecologist asked us if we wanted to know the baby’s gender.  Not only do I think such predeterminations are a cop-out, but I already knew both Tamryn’s gender and her name, so I said, “No.”

For all of you with unborn children, I encourage you to be concerned with your child’s health more than you are with its gender.  Suzanne and I never accepted the often repeated offers of revealed gender for any of our four children, nor did we ever want for gender appropriate clothes or toys.  And yes, there is indeed a fundamental difference between the things little girls and boys like. However, you either know that already or you’ll find out, assuming you are fortunate enough to someday look into the eyes of your own newborn. Believe me when I say that moment is one which will forever change you, and one you will never want to forget.

Our firstborn was wide awake and alert at delivery.  Tamryn’s inquisitive eyes proclaimed the answer to a riddle she had clearly pondered whilst in the womb, “So this is life!”

Mere moments after she was born, Tamryn looked deep into my heart.  I will never forget the intelligence I saw within her sparking eyes.  I knew she meant, “life on the outside”, and I also knew she was already an old soul. Indeed, I think it may have been that I knew Tamryn long before either her conception or her birth.

Could Tamryn have been any other than who she is?  I don’t believe she could.  Just as I don’t believe any of us can be other than who we are.  Yes, many choose to reveal a false face to the world, however I think in their heart they are unhappy and that their soul is deeply discontented with their deception. Is truth finally revealed not a wonderful relief?  I think that the source of that relief may well be our soul.

Your given name may not be who you feel you are.  If, on some profound level, you are not content with your name then you can change it.  Perhaps you even should.

But your Soul?

Your soul is you.  Since you cannot change your soul and it is with you for your forever, do the wise thing… treat it as best you can.  Treat your soul with honesty, for if you don’t you surely cheat yourself.  Listen closely to its seemingly indistinct murmurs, for its words are crystal clear… you need only care enough to hear.

If you’re interested in old souls encapsulated in the bodies of the young then my work, Malmaxa, might interest you.  Who knows, you may even encounter the Soul I knew long before our Tamryn was conceived.

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Deeds -versus- Words

A virtual friend, Camille Sanzone, emailed me today. I have taken the liberty of quoting her email in order to set the stage for my response. I am sure she won’t mind, however if you’d like to find out why I am sure of this please listen to her online radio show Tie a Knot and Hang On! Help has Arrived! It airs every Wednesday at 1p.m. Eastern Time.

Camille’s email:
I just saw a poster on LinkedIn that says:

Actions always prove why words mean nothing.

Made me think of you, naturally, and your fondness for words.
How would you respond to that?
Camille

My {slightly edited} response:

I would like to respond by saying the statement is unadulterated bull@#$%. Of course I wouldn’t use those words in a public forum…

Sadly, I see this type of idiotic pseudo wisdom touted often. I generally ignore it.

Action undertaken without thought is accurately described as thoughtless, however it could be equally accurately described as wordless. You see words are the means by which thoughts are conveyed. Thoughts precede words, and words precede any thoughtful deeds. Whether those deeds are malign or benign doesn’t matter one iota – words have preceded the actions we otherwise know as deeds.

If I was to tweet about it I might say:-

Words are the embodiment of thoughts, deeds are the embodiment of words, thus any deed undertaken without words is utterly mindless.

Let me finish by pointing out something inescapable about these allegedly powerful deeds which prove words mean nothing… they can only be described with words.

Thus without words it is in fact deeds that ultimately mean nothing.

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Wealth’s Poverty

~ Wealth’s Poverty ~
~
We lie atop the sacrificial slab,
and with our quill,
our heart we stab,
blood words upon our skin we scribe.
Our hope?
That others those blood wrought words
will read,
and from spiritual poverty
be freed.
~
The goal of every word
we write?
To free another from
our plight.
Our truths we see, we say,
and for our truths
we’ll fight,
and from darkness,
the willing
we will
drag
to light.
~
In the shadows do the wicked dwell,
from whence the poor,
with false hopes cast as arrows,
they fell.
With mistruth they bind the masses,
spreading hopes of salvation,
which they buy,
then tell.
Lottery promises of escape from poverty,
they sell.
Hopes, of freedom from this
mortal hell.
~
A piece of soul-scribed skin,
from our flesh they flay,
a map they intend to use,
to help them find their forgotten way.
~
We won’t beg, or plead for the wealthy
to stay.
You see,
our stolen words do the rich mislead,
for though salvation’s map is true,
the needle-eyed gate is one
which rich thieves will never
pass through.
~
Peaks of luxury do the wealthy climb,
while down below their workers wade in slime.
With no excess sufficient to their unsated greed,
they’ve let this world slide and slip to seed.
Loud do they their lying anthem proclaim,
“There will always be the needy!
So let them toil and bleed
while upon their labors,
we,
the wealthy,
feed.”
~
And yet unshuttered eyes easily do see,
the rich have finally gone insane…
Their mad intent?
To keep this broken world,
the same.
~
For their obscene wealth,
the rich feel no shame,
and on the burdened shoulders of the poor,
heap they all blame.
~
Unwanted garments from their shoulders slough,
gourmet delights uneaten,
left to rot,
till from their banquet tables,
once good food falls with a putrid
plop,
sustenance they’ve let turn into
slop,
while from hunger
they let the poverty stricken
drop.
~
When will we,
the victims of wealth’s poverty,
from our indentured slavery
turn, not flee?
~
I fear
not soon
enough…
~

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On dé·jà vu

dé·jà vu
pronunciation: dāZHä ˈvo͞o
noun: déjà vu
a feeling of having previously experienced the present situation.

dé·jà vu, also known as “Further thoughts on Fate.

I wonder if those who have never experienced Fate are simply too blind to notice it, too insensitive to feel its feather-light touch, or too scared to think again when dé·jà vu fills their mind with memories they at first think are not their own?

Am I making too much of nothing in an attempt to prove Fate exists?  Nope.  I don’t need to prove Fate exists.  Why?  Because I know there are billions who don’t believe fate exists and that nothing I say or do will sway their minds.  And then there are other souls who already know Fate does exist.  Likewise there is no need for me to prove anything to them.

There is no need for me to prove anything.  Yet I do have a need

My blog has never been about proofs, it has always been about feelings.  Which is what my need is.  The need to share my feelings in hope they stir feeling within others.  In this post the feelings I’m sharing are related to my thoughts on Fate, which I’ve blogged about at various times.  If you’re interested, here is a breadcrumb that might lead you to the trail that led me here.

Fate.

The topic of fate is so complicated it is very difficult to understand.  Please don’t mistake anything I’ve previously said to mean “Everything is set in stone, nothing can change anything, so just give up already!”  Not only have I never said or felt that, but I’m not saying it at all.  However I am having difficulty finding words to explain what my heart reveals.  Enormous difficulty.

If Fate is absolute, then nothing matters.  Right?  No, that is completely wrong.  It is precisely because fate is absolute, that everything matters.

If a good person sees an ill deed done, yet does nothing, then they aren’t good at all.  It is not fate that determines whether people are of good or bad nature, it is how people react to the circumstances of their fate that determines their nature.

If we don’t try, then we are the ones who lack, and we are the ones at fault.

Whether or not our attempts are fated to fail or to succeed does not matter one whit.  What matters is that we make the attempt to change destiny.  It is our struggle which most clearly defines us as worthy.

Worthy or unworthy of what?  Well, perhaps worthy of an escape from the inescapable clutches of the Fates.  Perhaps through access to heaven where we are no longer bound by the Fates, but also from where we can no longer interfere in the fates of those who remain bound.

Lots more thoughts to condense into words.  Lots.  So if you’re of the patient, thinking sort then come back and visit sometime and you may well find further semi-coherent thoughts on the nature of chaos.  I won’t promise when, since when is outside my hands.  But the attempt?  That is not.

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Rhododendron

~ Rhododendron ~
~
A picture of beauty pristine
Of divinity still hidden unseen
Of beauty yet to come
Of a mortal’s desire undone
Of time captured forever
Of moments denied and now never
Of petals basking in sunshine
Of beauty unseen, yet sublime.
~

snapshots, frozen in time

snapshots, frozen in time

I took this picture of a Rhododendron I will not see open in bloom minutes before I left on a trip. Perhaps it will still be in bloom when I return. Hope.

Pictures… they might be considered fragments of eternity captured. Though they don’t truly freeze time, in some ways they do. This flower will still bloom, even while its essence here remains set forever in the fabric of a virtual world.

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On Need

Our most fundamental needs are for water, food, and shelter.

Or are they?

What of air?  Is our most fundamental need, not air?

Air is the product of what? The component of air that is oxygen, {about 20%} is produced by trees, which also filter air by removing excess carbon.

So perhaps our most fundamental need is for trees?

No, I don’t think it is that either.  I think our most fundamental need is for beauty. Thankfully beauty abounds in virtually everything, and virtually everywhere. All we need do is seek it, and we find it.

Is the air not beautiful? When it is clean it is, but when it is dirty?  Well, the air is still beautiful, but the pollution we pump into it?  Not so much.  So I must ask you this, if pollution is not so beautiful, why do we produce so much?

Our most fundamental need is not air, water, food, shelter, or beauty.  Our most fundamental need is for everything.  You see…

Everything matters. Everything.
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