on Guns

In my youth I hunted regularly – not for sport, but for meat which we either ate or sold. For me any desire to kill another living creature ended after the war. But that is just me and other people are not subject to my feelings or beliefs. Generally, that is okay.


It ceases to be okay when the feelings and beliefs of those other people lead to the injury, death, and suffering of innocents. Which leads me to the topic of guns in the USA, or more particularly, of the use of assault rifles in the commission of mass murders.

Why are weapons designed for the sole purpose of killing other humans for sale in this country? The answer seems to hinge on the second amendment of the US Constitution, which reads, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Are any of the people who have committed these horrific crimes members of a “well regulated militia”? I don’t think so, so why do they have weapons that only well regulated militias should possess? The US does have well regulated militias, they’re called the Army, Navy, and Air Force, along with their various branches.

I’m not denying you the right to own and use hunting guns or target rifles. But if you want to bear a gun designed for killing other people then join one of these well regulated militias. Assuming they’ll have you… And if they won’t have you because you’re unfit to possess such a lethal weapon due to a criminal nature or mental deficiency then tough luck – you absolutely should not be able to get your grubby little hands on one as a civilian. Period.

The time of the civilian population rising up to overthrow a tyrannical government by force of arms is long passed. So has the right for civilians to own weapons designed to kill other civilians.

So how do we overthrow a government or any nature, let alone a tyrannical one? We use something called “the vote.” We don’t need to go into the streets or the hallways of schools or universities bearing deadly assault weapons with the intent to murder unarmed innocents. All we need to do is use “the vote”.  It is long past time we voted to eject officials who are more interested in obeying the dictates of special interest groups like the NRA than they ever will be in doing what the people who elected them want.

Vote.  There is more power in that single right than there ever will be in any weapon designed to kill people, so use it already.

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on Demons and Angels

A tenet of my personal philosophy is balance in all things.  Throughout our lives we struggle to vanquish our demons, yet I’ve recently concluded we should do no such thing – for it is our demons that drive us and our angels that hold us back.  Perhaps this poem will evoke the essence of my feelings.

~ Demons and Angels ~
It is our demons who spur us on
and our angels who put on the brakes.
It is our demons who press us to risk
and our angels who whisper warning.
It is our demons who force us to rise
and our angels who calm us to rest.
It is our demons who scream for excess
and our angels who soothe us to caution.
It is our demons who tell us we can
and our angels who say we should not.
Without our demons to press us onward
our dreams soon race out of reach.
Without our demons present and active
our angels don’t soothe us,
they’re silent
Without the raging of my demons
I fear my angels won’t show me the way.
I’ve somehow escaped my demons,
is that life I feel slipping away?

Please don’t misunderstand the meaning of this post – it has nothing to with good and evil or even with right and wrong.  It is about the forces that drive us and those that encourage us to accept the status quo.  I have chosen to equate the driving forces in our psyche to demons because they aren’t gentle, they don’t ask us nicely – they goad and prod us mercilessly and are never satisfied no matter how hard we try or how much we accomplish.  I’ve equated the forces that hold us back to angels because they praise our efforts while quietly encouraging us to accept our lot without conflict – this is a theme I’m certain you are all too familiar with in all major organized religions.

Be wary of your wishes, Fate might be listening.

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a Dream, a Reality

Dreams often feel like a frightening reality, but the most frightening reality feels like a dream.

My eyes open. Don’t know where I am. It is cool. The lights are dim. I’m on a narrow bed with the back raised into almost a sitting position. But I’m not sitting, I’m lying down. Pipes all over. All over the bed, all over me. I’m facing the door, it’s made of glass, a double-wide door made of glass. The glass door is open, but nobody enters. They just walk past, without glancing in. Men and women, walking past, oblivious to me. I watch. Time passes. How to count the time? A green dot plots a graph I don’t understand. Rhythmic pulses of green leaving fading lines that disappear, then come again. I need to pee. I try to stand up. I cannot. Pipes in my way. Clear plastic pipes. One plastic pipe ends in my arm. I trace it with my eyes. It hurts to move my head. A bag, suspended from a silver pole. Drip… drip… drip. Two ways to keep the time. Pulses of green, or clear drops dripping into a pipe that feeds my arm. More pipes, these lead to my legs. Legs strapped in socks that have no feet. A gargantuan struggle. I overcome. Now I’m sitting up. Pounding pain in my skull. Three ways to keep the time. Clear drops that drip. A bouncing green dot that fades, then comes again. A drummer in my head. I reach toward my calves. Not enough strength to tug the pipes free. Pain, arching through my brain. Eyes squeeze shut. I don’t give up. Time counted three ways passes. Another fruitless tug. Coarse tearing rip. I force my eyes open. Not socks. A Velcro seam. It opens slowly. Uncovered leg is bare. A man walks past. He doesn’t see me. A few hundred drips of pounding green agony. Both my legs are bare. I swing them off the bed. As if on cue, a woman walks in. “What are you doing?” No threat in her tone. Just a question. What am I doing? “I need to pee.” Reassuring tone, “You don’t need to get up for that.” I struggle to make sense of that, but cannot. “I can see the bathroom. I need to go there.” I nod toward the bathroom door. My skull tries to explode. “Do you know where you are?” Where am I? Can’t shake my head. I meet her eyes. Gentle, reassuring eyes. “No.” She nods, as if no is the right answer. Is this place a secret? “Do you know your name?” I look down. Who am I? I must have a name. Doesn’t everyone have a name? I don’t have a name. “No.” She nods again. So, another right answer. A nameless man, in a secret place he doesn’t know. Urgency. “I have to pee.” I manage to stand. Why are my legs so weak? A single, jarring step. The pipe ending in my arm tugs taut. Got to pee. Irritation. My free hand reaches for the pipe. Tug. Rip it out! Got to pee! The woman calls for help. Reaches for my arm, holds it tight against another tug. “I’ve got to pee!” A man and another woman rush in. The man is much stronger than me. “He doesn’t know his name, or where he is.” The man’s face softens, “Calm down, bud. You’re in a hospital and your name is Charles.” A pause to let this sink in. It doesn’t. I know what a hospital is, but I don’t know Charles. He points at one of the pipes. “That’s a catheter. You don’t need to go to the bathroom to pee, you just pee. It won’t make a mess.” I know what a catheter is. I had one before. My first memory of me. I know what a catheter is. I had one before.

Though you may think this is a poorly written story full of partial thoughts framed in badly written fragmentary sentences, it is not. It is an episode I remember while still in the ICU, written exactly as I remember it. A solid week of memory gone, apart from this dream like recollection.  When we’ve lost everything even pain becomes precious.

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on GrandParenting

Though I believe it should not be, grandparenting is very different to parenting.  As virtually any grandparent will tell you, being a grandparent is far better than being a parent.  Which is not to say being a parent isn’t a wonderful experience – it is.  However being a grandparent should mean you’ve raised your own child well enough that they are now themselves a parent.  There are few rewards greater than that.

However this post isn’t about how fortunate we are to be grandparents, it’s about how different grandparenting is when compared to parenting.

By the time we’ve become grandparents we’ve gained knowledge that is virtually impossible to gain any other way than through personal experience.

We’ve learnt patience, and we’ve learnt that pressure doesn’t pave the way to good behavior.  We’ve learnt it is better to walk with them than it is to push them from behind.  We’ve learnt that life is a difficult path best trod in the company of those we love most, and we’ve learnt our children and grandchildren count high in that number.

We’ve learnt that the most important rules we can teach our young aren’t about possessions, they’re rules related to relationships.  We’ve learnt enough to gently teach them the importance of compassion, understanding, and tolerance.  We’ve learnt enough to know that offering love is the surest way to receive it.

We’ve learnt the appropriate response to mistakes is not an angry word spoken in chastisement, it is a kind word spoken in love.  We’ve learnt that something broken can be repaired or replaced, but that a broken heart is much harder to mend.

We’ve learnt that a hug is not only a wonderful gift, it is also a wonderful reward.

Perhaps most importantly of all we’ve re-learnt something young children have yet to forget…  We’ve re-learnt that unconditional love, which we hold in our hearts, is a better reward than anything we hold in our hands.  {Except perhaps the hands of the ones we love…}

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Memories, of clean water

Recently, I believe as a result of my surgery, I lost my appetite.  My hunger for food is pretty much non-existent, while my appetite for liquids knows no bounds.  Literally.

The other day, while walking Bacon after a rainstorm, I looked at the water flowing in the cement troughs down the side of the road.  It looked so delicious it was actually tempting to kneel and drink it.  Of course I didn’t.  No, not of course, I don’t think there is really any “of course” about it.  I managed to prevent myself from doing so.  Yes, “managed” is a better choice of word.  Perhaps seeing the rivulet reminded me of the tiny little streams in Rhodesia, particularly in the Eastern Highlands, from which I often drank as growing lad.  Such delicious water, untouched by man, filled with minerals absorbed from the rocks over which it flows.  The memory of the taste of crystal clear, clean water…

A memory of what I had, yet have no more.

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on Torture

I’m sure every civilized, thinking person will agree that torture is the domain of barbarians.

Yes, torture absolutely should not be allowed.  Unfortunately it is, and the number of people here in the USA who condone it is nothing short of astounding.

The US Constitution, the supreme law of this land, prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment.  Period.  It doesn’t say “don’t do it unless it’s expedient”, its eight amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”  How is it possible to misinterpret such a categorical statement?

Yet people come out with unmitigated nonsense like, “They do it to us so we should be able to do it to them.”  When did two wrongs start making a right?

I’ve also heard multiple Americans say, “If we have to torture someone to stop an act of terrorism, I’m okay with that.”  This sounds almost logical, as do the most seductive of lies.  Unfortunately history has abundantly proven that tortured people do not tell the truth, they tell whatever it is they think their torturer wants to hear.  Are we actually naive enough to think some captured jihadist pawn knows the precise details of an impending act of terrorism?  Perhaps it’s time we stopped watching so many action movies and TV shows with no basis in reality?  Perhaps it’s time we stopped believing the hype and started learning from history?

There’s so much we could learn from history, but it’s such a difficult lesson…

Doing what’s right is never as easy as doing what’s expedient – but right is right forever, expedient is only temporarily convenient.

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What’s the deal of?

Included in this post is an unscripted recording I made of my Granddaughters, Eden and Ariadne, when they were staying with us recently.  The recording was caught with my phone, so please excuse the variable quality and the low volume.

Very young children, Ariadne is three, have an amazing way of expressing themselves and learning language.  For reasons known only to her, Ariadne decided that instead of asking “Why?”, she’d ask, “What’s the deal of?”  When young children ask questions, I think it is our duty to answer them as comprehensively and truthfully as possible.  You’ll also hear the voice of Eden and Ariadne’s Great Grandmother, who was also staying with us but has since returned to Africa – I miss you, Mom.

The best thing about good answers is how they lead to better questions.

I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I do.

In case you’re interested, the principle character in Malmaxa is a form of Eden drawn from the ether before she was born.  In many ways the resemblance is uncanny.

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a Piece

What do you do they asked me

“Collect pieces”

What do you mean they say

“Moments, things, memories, secret places”

Why they ask

“Because I had swallowed myself whole… I let myself rot in darkness, I let the flowers wither when I should have been in the spring of my life. I had given up, content with being bones, letting my ribs cage in my soul, become a vase for dead flowers.
So I collect what I can, smiles, flowers, museum trips, babies laughter, friends, strangers, bits of jewelry, all that I fancy. Because part of me knows that the rot will never go away… I missed the spring of my life while hiding away.
Now it is the summer, I let the sun bleach the cage but keep the wilted flowers, I will need then for when I can finally bury all that Ive been through.”


The above is a powerful, troubling piece written by my youngest daughter, Julia.  I believe the picture we have of ourself is not the picture others see. If you want to talk, I want to listen.

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on Bottled Water

This post is by my daughter, Julia, who graduated High School yesterday. Julia belongs to the generation who will next inherit this planet, so sorely damaged by ours. Please read her words and reconsider how cavalier you are about buying bottled water.

Water Water Everywhere, But What’s the Price to Drink?

Bottled water, something almost every single person on the planet has come in contact with one time or another in their life. Bottled water has become a staple of convenience in the lives of Americans, it is easy to just pay a few dollars for a bottle of water, that is one of the reasons we do it. However, there is a price to convenience, and no, the price I am speaking of is not just two dollars. The price is the quality of air we breathe, the quality of life for not only human beings but animals as well, and the enormous overall economic cost of disposable plastic water bottles. Convenience comes at a price we most often do not think about.

Annie Leonard is an environmental activist who studied at Barnard and Cornell and was recently named executive director of Greenpeace, Greenpeace is a non-government operated environmental organization. Leonard takes a moment to write about the effects of bottled water on the world in many aspects the analysis The Story of Bottled Water: A Footnoted and Annotated Script. She speaks on the economic and environmental effect plastic bottle production has on the world. Leonard states “Bottled water costs about 2,000 times more than tap water” (Leonard 201). Which is further supported by the foot note on the consumer advocacy group approximating a gallon of tap water costing $0.002 per gallon where bottled water costs from $0.89 to $8.25 per gallon (qtd. In Leonard 204). That is a staggering amount of money in a comparative view to what is almost free, 0.002 is a fraction of a penny! Why would someone ever pay so much for water? With the single exception of the inability to gain access to clean and safe drinking water. Leonard also takes a moment to talk about the environment, she said “ Eighty percent end up in landfills, where they will sit for thousands of years, or in incinerators where they will be burned, releasing toxic pollution”(Leonard 201). You know the best part of waking up, breathing in toxic fumes, said no one ever.

Leonard argues that people have already done massive amounts of damage to the Earth, and we add to that damage one plastic bottle at a time. It is a largely known fact. When a person takes a plastic bottle of water, drinks all the water in it in a matter of minutes and as we all see very often just tosses it aside, where does it go? Well in an article by Richard J. Dolesh, called The Problem with Bottled Water, which highlights on the alternative to bottled water, drinking fountains. Dolesh takes a moment to speak about the environmental problem stating “ Discarded disposable water bottles are the unwelcome byproduct of bottled water, and our parks, streets and rivers become the recipient” (Dolesh 36). Meaning that a large number of disposable water bottles end up on the ground and in the river. Rivers lead to the ocean, and the ocean is seventy percent of the earth’s surface and holds an approximate ninety one percent of Earth’s water and a staggering ninety seven percent of the earth’s species. So John Doe tosses aside his plastic water bottle, it finds its way to a river, which will eventually make its way back to the ocean, and this bottle becomes broken into microscopic pieces of plastic. So what is the problem with that? Well sea creatures -and birds- will often eat these pieces of plastic which will cut into their viscera, and kill them or eventually become so heavy in their stomachs, because plastic is non-digestive, that they can no longer eat and digest their natural food and die.

Before we leave the topic of the ocean, let me just say that it is not just a few pieces of plastic. Most people nowadays have heard of the GPGP (Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Which is often thought of as a giant island of floating garbage! But that would be much easier to clean up and sadly is not true. In the article Sounds Like Garbage by Joshua Ottum, an scientific article on the GPGP Ottum states that the GPGP is “Microscopic debris is spread throughout a large area of the ocean, making it impossible to view” (Ottum 52). As mentioned above micro plastic, which is almost impossible to clean up because it is spread over a large area, and this ‘Patch’ is so large, approximately twice the size of Texas, because the world adding to it, daily, hourly to be honest. How are we to ever be able to clean it up if we continue to add to the problem? First we need to stop adding to the problem. When faced with the choice choose a reusable water bottle, they can be bought almost anywhere and when thought about are more economically sound than paying continually or a new bottle each day. More than half a billion bottles are purchased each week in the US alone (Leonard 201). When the math is done that would mean each person in the US alone buys at least two disposable bottles a week, now obviously there are people who buy more than that and people who do not buy them at all but for the sake of this example that is what we are going with. So with each person switching to a reusable bottle that knocks off two more from the number of disposable bottles being purchased each week which does not seem like much but that would be saving one hundred and four bottles a year, per person. Which adds up extremely quickly. Another option is the use of public drinking fountains, they are safe, clean and efficient. Most all public places have them, these places being, stores, schools, libraries, and even some parks. These tools are widely available and best of all free to use.

Leonard writes on the disposal of PET water bottles but not on the effect it has on something we all need, oxygen. According to Leonard, Eighty percent of plastic ends up in landfills which is backed by the Container recycling institute in saying some ninety percent of PET bottles end up in the landfill. A lot of things that are thrown into landfills end up being burned in a giant incinerator, so less landmass has to be taken up. In a multiple authored study by Kale, Deshmukh, Dudhare, Patil it is stated that “Plastic causes pollution and global warming not only because of increase in the problem of waste disposal and land filling but also release CO2 and dioxins due to burning. The burning of waste plastic material produces toxic gases posing health hazard by causing lung diseases and cancer after inhalation” (Kale et al. 953).  People often do not think about what happens to trash after we throw it away, Oh it just magically disappears right? Well no with plastic waste it either sits for a thousand years- a generally known approximation- or is burned up releasing toxic fumes that as read above are linked to lung cancer when inhaled. Hate to break this news, but we are all inhaling it some of us are just a bit farther away than others.  Lung cancer is currently the leading cancer and amounts to a large twenty seven percent of cancer related deaths. That can be equated to much more than just cigarettes.

Leonard briefly writes on an alternative to disposable PET water bottles.  Richard J. Dolesh author of the article The problem with Bottled Water which talks about an alternative to disposable plastic bottles, states “Proponents of using public and municipal drinking water instead of bottled water note that the cost of producing safe, clean, public drinking water is far, far cheaper than bottled water, in many cases hundreds, if not thousands of times cheaper.” (Dolesh 36). In the beginning of this essay I talk about the research done by Annie Leonard who took the information from the consumer advocacy group approximating a gallon of tap water costing $0.002 per gallon where bottled water costs from $0.89 to $8.25 per gallon. Which backed up by Richard J. Dolesh shows to be true, 0.002 is far less expensive than 0.89. So just from that we can see the price of water production, for disposable plastic bottles is a lot more expensive than the production of tap water. And do we know who is paying for that highly increased price, well that’s right we are. Let’s talk about personal economics, say John Doe pays the price of two dollars per water bottle, and buys a bottle of water three days a week, he is paying six dollars a week for water. In and of itself that does not sound like very much, but there are fifty two weeks in a year. So when Mr. Doe spends three hundred and twelve dollars a year on bottled water, wouldn’t it be great to have an extra three hundred and twelve dollars each year, to pay back on a home or car, or buy that nice new outfit. There is no person in the world that would say “You know what, no I don’t want more money.”

Another perfectly safe option that Leonard did not mention in her essay that would save the same amount of money each year is public drinking fountains which is the highlight of Dolesh’s article The problem with Bottled Water when he stated “Proponents of using public and municipal drinking water instead of bottled water note that the cost of producing safe, clean, public drinking water is far, far cheaper than bottled water, in many cases hundreds, if not thousands of times cheaper.” (Dolesh 36). What this means is that public drinking fountains, and municipal drinking water (Tap water) are far more cost effective than and just as safe as PET water bottles. To drink from a public drinking fountain is completely free, and completely safe.

There is a cost to everything, even convenience, that price can include air, and wildlife as well as our oceans and our lives. All of the issues above we face, endangerment of wildlife, pollution, economics, and many more, can be fixed. Part one is to stop adding to the problem, say no to disposable bottles. The less people willing to pay for them, the less they will be produced. Saying no to disposable bottles is as simple as buying a reusable one, they cost from five to fifteen dollars, have no expiration date and are made of 100% recyclable material. Step two is doing your very best to not throw away disposable plastic bottles but to recycle them. Most every plastic bottle that is used is made of PET sometimes known as PETE plastic, full name polyethylene terephthalate. PET is the most recyclable plastic out there, and plastic as the most non recycled recyclable material out there. So throw that bottle in the blue bin, or if the county you reside in does not have blue bins take them down to your local fire station they have recycling bins there. Step three, if you see a bottle on the ground pick it up, they weigh maybe an ounce, and if they’re not picked up, they will most likely make their way to the ocean to become the microscopic debris that are so difficult to clean and are killing so many animals. And the final step, spread the word, tell friends and family about what is going on and what they can do to help, every person who decides to say no to disposable plastic is saving the planet we call home. So ask yourselves, is it really worth ignoring, is it really worth not doing these simple things just so you can have two more seconds in your day? Is the price one you are really willing to pay?

Work Cited

Dolesh, Richard J. “The Problem With Bottled Water.” Parks & Recreation 49.5 (2014): 36-38. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

Kale, Swapnil K., et al. “Microbial Degradation Of Plastic: A Review.” Journal Of Biochemical Technology 6.2 (2015): 952-961. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

Leonard, Annie. “The Story of Bottled Water.” 2010. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of  Nonfiction. Ed. Melissa A. Goldwaite et al. 14th ed. New York: Norton, 2016. 200-212. Print.

OTTUM, JOSHUA. “Sounds Like Garbage: Paddling Through An Imaginary Island Of Trash    Toward A New Sonic Ecology.” Social Alternatives 33.1 (2014): 52-59. Academic Search   Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.





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Out of the Mouths of Babes

Our three year old granddaughter, Ariadne, is a gem and a consistent user of amazingly appropriate expressions.  In this she shows a remarkable resemblance to her mother, my oldest daughter, Tamryn.

The latest tale of Ariadne is of her desperately wanting a beanbag cat with oversized eyes.

Ariadne saw it while in a fabric store with her mom and fell in love with it.  After a few days she finally talked her mom into acquiring it.  They arrive at the store, only to find the beanbag cat is now accompanied by a beanbag dragon.

After examining both, Ariadne changes her mind and chooses the beanbag dragon.  They take it home, where Ariadne diligently proceeds to take off all its price stickers and attached labels.  After all, aren’t Dragons priceless creatures that don’t deserve to be labeled?

The next day Ariadne tells her mom, “I’ve changed my mind, I really want the cat.”
Tamryn responds, “No, you chose the dragon.”
Ariadne, “But the cat will be lonely without us.”
Tamryn, “Too bad.  You picked the dragon, so now you have to stick with it.”
Ariadne, “I want the cat as well!”
Tamryn, “Not going to happen!  You’re not getting the cat.”
Ariadne, “Oh, but I think I will…”

On another occasion, when her mom denied her something she wanted, Ariadne issued the ominous warning, “You’re going to regret this…”  Remember, Ariadne is barely three years old 🙂

I’m sure there are morals to this story but I’m too tired to find them, so instead I’ll leave you with some trivia…
When in dire financial straits one of the last things parents stop buying is toys for their children.
If you want to learn more about Tamryn, you can find her in Malmaxa.  She is both an extraordinary person in my life, and an extraordinary character in my alternate world.
To find the origins of the name Ariadne, you might refer to this google search.  No, Ariadne doesn’t yet appear in Malmaxa, but she does hold an extraordinarily special place in my heart.

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The little joys in Life

There is little that gives me more joy than watching the actions of baby animals. It is both mentally fascinating and emotionally rewarding – a combination that is pretty hard to beat.

Back in the early 1960’s we lived in a tiny little town called Melsetter in Southern Rhodesia.  We had to be mostly self-sufficient so every year we’d get day old chicks, which we’d raise for meat or eggs.  Anyway one year my dad decided to change things up a little and got day old ducklings instead.  He brought them home, safe and secure in a large box lined with straw, laid the box on the kitchen counter-top, gathered us kids around, opened the box and asked, “What are these?”

My younger sister Sarah, who must have been about four years old at the time, looked into the box with wide eyes.  Somehow she knew they weren’t day old chickens, but they sure looked like them!  So she said “Chockens!”  My dad didn’t correct her 🙂.

On the lawn in the front yard we had a wire mesh enclosure that we’d always used for the chickens.  In fact, for reasons I’ve never understood, we called it the chicken-run. The ducklings were placed in this and were perfectly happy, after all if it was good enough for chickens surely it was good enough for chockens?

The chockens may have been content, but my dad wasn’t.  As he explained things, ducks were water creatures, and as such they needed a pond in which to swim.  So we marked an extension of the chicken-run on the ground, dug a decent sized pond, sealed it with cement, filled it with water, and let it sit to ensure it didn’t leak.  This effort took days, during which the chockens watched with interest, their little bodies pressed up against the fence so they could gain a better view.  The last thing we did was extend the chicken mesh fence to include the pond, leaving the separating fence still intact.

The big day came.  We herded the ducklings… no, I should make an effort to get this right – we herded the chockens up to the far end of the chicken-run then my dad pulled out the separating mesh wall, thereby converting the smallish chicken-run into a spacious chocken-run, complete with built-in pond.  We all stood back and waited for the ducklings to make the much anticipated dash for the pond.

It didn’t happen, they just stayed in the area to which they had been herded.  After a while my mom decided to get things moving and shooed them toward the pond.

And that is when something really interesting happened…

When the ducklings got to the line where the fence had been they all stopped dead, little bodies pressed up against the now imaginary fence.  They were quite unable to cross it, no matter how many times we tried to urge them past it.  Eventually we resolved the problem of the invisible fence by carrying them over it and plopping them into the water, where their instincts took over and their webbed feet kicked into action.  I’m pretty sure they thoroughly enjoyed their first ever swim.

In many ways we humans are just like those little duckings, or those little chockens if you prefer 🙂.  How?  We become so used to the boundaries of our existence that we are quite unable to realize they are self-imposed, artificial, and that we can step over them any time we want.  The next time you reach the walls of your chocken-run I encourage you to simply open your mind and fly over them – I think you’ll love the pond you find when you do.

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on What Matters Most

The thing that matters most in life is love…

However here in the first world we are taught that the things that matter most in life are things.  That is so untrue and so shallow, it distresses me to even think about it.  However I do, and thus this post.

If you have nobody, then no matter what you possess you have nothing of true value.  Don’t believe me?

What good is a massive house on a huge estate if it is empty?  How joyful is that expensive new car if there is no one to share it with or to see your delight at how it drives?  Would you choose to own the entire world if it was devoid of all life, save yourself?

Without someone to love, possessions are worse than nothing.  Still think you love certain things?  When did a thing love you back?  Living creatures, pets and people, are not things, yet they are the things that matter most.  They are that which loves us back.

Perhaps the reason that seeing our our grown children occasionally reverting to being children touches us so deeply is because revealing their inner child allows them to be vulnerable again.  What surer sign of love is there than to open your heart and say, “Here, this is the real me.”

Think hard, then tell me… if you don’t give love, should you expect love in return?

Love matters… it matters when we have it, and it matters even more when we lack it.

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Lest We Forget, ICU.

This post covers the surgery to debulk the tumor infringing on my Pituitary gland and the first week thereafter, which I spent in the Intensive Care Unit at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  If you haven’t read the first installment of this post I recommend you do so before proceeding.

Tuesday, February the 7th, the day of my surgery arrived.  My wife, Suzanne, and I woke up early and set off for the hospital.  During the drive she asked if I was worried about any aspect of the surgery.  After a moment’s stoic, manly silence I gathered my courage and admitted that the prospect of memory loss concerned me.  {Why are we men so stupid and stubborn we think it is better to hide our fears from our loved ones?}  She reassured me it was unlikely and carried on driving.

I sat silently and tried to relax while my mind played havoc with my emotions.  Yes, I am one of the stupid, stubborn men I just mentioned.  The reality is that a fear of memory loss more than concerned me, it terrified me.  Why?  Because over thirty years previously I suffered a Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis that saw me hospitalized for three months.  I recovered remarkably well and returned to normal… except for one thing.  It took me a long time to realize, but virtually all my childhood memories were simply no longer there.  It was like I jumped straight from age five to age sixteen.  Occasionally a memory would surface, but most of my childhood memories were lost.  Extrapolating that time to the present left me fearful of what I might lose this time around.  What if I didn’t recognize my children, or my wife, or my friends, or what I’d done and who I was?  Instead of conveying these fears to Suzanne I kept silent and pretended I was fine.  Yes, I am a stupid, stubborn man.

We arrived at the hospital around 5:30am.  Suzanne dropped me at the main entrance, allegedly to save me the walk from the parking garage but I’m sure it was so she could have a cigarette to help calm her own nerves.  Major surgery tends to make people nervous, with good reason.  I walked in, identified myself at the desk I’d been told to, and was escorted upstairs into the secured surgical area, where I was instructed to change into that unflattering hospital garb we know and love.  After doing so I sent a text message to Suzanne explaining where I was and how to get to me.

And that is where everything went blank.  Lest we forget… more days of my life, forgotten.

Please note that most of the remainder of this post are not my recollections, they are pieced together from what my wife and children have told me about those days, how they felt, and what they did during them.  In the eloquent words of my favorite youngest daughter, Julia, “I was so worried I bombed out in a psych exam.

Bear with me as I relate a particularly difficult week of my life, mostly from how my family told me it went.

Dannielle, my favorite middle daughter, joined my wife to sit and wait for surgery to complete.  They comforted each other as the estimated two-hour surgery dragged on to three hours.  They watched as names on the In-Surgery roster went up, then came down as their surgeries were completed.  My name didn’t move.  Four hours passed with no word, then five.  I imagine my wife comforted Dannielle, who is quite sensitive, however this is just what I imagine… the truth is likely to be that they comforted each other equally.

Over five hours after I went into surgery, it was finally over.  Dr. Brett came out and explained complications had unavoidably extended the procedure.  The tumor was pressing on the frontal lobes of my brain, my hypothalamus, my pituitary gland, and my optic nerves.  Apart from the direct impact of the tumor itself, the surgeons had been unable to place a lumbar drain – this resulted in spinal fluid escaping through the wound into my nasal cavity by which the endoscope had been inserted and operated.  Post-surgery they sent me to the Intensive Care Unit, where staff would keep a close watch on my condition.  Hope was expressed that the wound would heal and seal itself.  At time hope pays dividends, at others it does not.

Wednesday, the day after surgery I was exhibiting signs of Diabetes Insipidus and dumped alarming amounts of fluid via a catheter.  {I suspect urinary catheters are normal practice after this type of surgery as they allow the patient to rest and hospital staff to measure and watch for DI.}  Suzanne and Dannielle came to visit me and stayed most of the day.  They were given a huge, clear plastic one liter capacity hospital mug, which I still have, and were told to encourage me to drink, which I refused to do.  In the words of my wife “The day was an emotional roller-coaster as we saw bits of you, then saw you crash.”  I was acting like a child, clamping my mouth shut and refusing food and drink.

To get me to drink at least some fluids Dannielle took to sucking up a straw full of water, which she’d leak into the corner of my mouth and I’d then swallow.  My wife told me this after I left hospital, Dannielle confirmed it when I asked her.  Dannielle said she’d managed to get me to drink about half the mug of water.

At the end of the day Suzanne and Dannielle left to attend to the duties of life that wait for nobody, the ill included.  The nursing staff thought my copious urine production was a result of my drinking too much.  Dannielle had managed to feed me about 500ml of water, but they thought I’d drunk several liters so they cut off my Intravenous fluids.  The lack of hydration caused my sodium levels to drop and brought on Sinus Tachycardia.  As if this wasn’t enough for the ICU staff to worry about, the spinal fluid that had continued to leak into my sinus cavities started pouring from my nose.

Thursday, Suzanne and Dannielle arrived early to visit again.  Suzanne, who had been my nurse when I was in hospital for the Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis {every cloud does have a silver lining}, discussed overnight events with the staff.  They immediately placed back me on IV Fluids once they realized I wasn’t actually drinking.

To address to the continued leaking of spinal fluid they sent me to Interventional Radiology to have a spinal drain installed.  Thursday passed with me out cold.

Friday arrived, so did Suzanne and Dannielle.  They sat bedside as a reasonably normal day unfolded.  From their perspective I seemed to be myself again.  Throughout the day a constant stream of nurses and doctors visited to discuss and examine my spinal drain, which is apparently seldom used or seen nowadays. {Please note this as it will be revisited in the next post.}

Saturday came.  Per Suzanne, things were going reasonably well, however she had a premonition something was not right but shrugged it off and left for the night.   Strange how often those feelings we’re so eager to shrug off prove accurate…

Saturday night I completely lost my memory, didn’t know who or where I was, became hostile, and proceeded to rip out my IV, my catheter, and my spinal drain.  A psychology consult was requested, the doctor on duty diagnosed me with ICU Psychosis and administered Haldol.  Hospital security staff forcibly subdued me, after which I was sent down to Radiology to have a CAT scan for a suspected brain bleed.  Multiple CAT scans were performed, apparently the Radiologist thought he had found a bleed.  My Neurosurgeon did not agree.

On Sunday I was still subdued and suffering from total memory loss.  Blood tests showed my Cortisol levels were dangerously low, so I was given a massive dose of Cortisol.

An Instagram post by my daughter, Dannielle

By Monday I was returning to myself and starting to recognize my wife and daughter.  Or so I’ve been told, in my own memory that particular Monday simply doesn’t exist.

Tuesday, from the perspective of Suzanne and Dannielle, was a reasonably normal day in the ICU.

By the end of Wednesday I was actually aware once more and had been approved for transfer to a step-down ward, where I’d spend another week struggling to recover.

Memory Loss…

For those of you who’ve seen memory loss depicted on television serials, it isn’t like that at all.  You see, memory loss isn’t as precise as a surgeon’s scalpel – it doesn’t neatly excise specific bits.  Memory loss is administered with a heavy, blunt instrument that does collateral damage to adjoining events and time to the where and when it strikes.  Memory loss doesn’t just conk you on the head, then let you sit up in bed, bemused, but regal as ever while you talk politely to your admirers, and magically regain the memory you’ve lost through a series of black and white flashbacks.

Memory loss doesn’t work like that at all, at least it did not for me.

From the account above you’ll note that Saturday night, four days after my surgery, was the night I suffered from a total memory loss.  It socked me a real sucker-punch that stole everything from before I went into surgery until about a week afterward.  Those days aren’t gradually returning.  It is now three months later and they remain a blank, no matter how long and hard I struggle to recall them.  Apart from a couple of strange dream-like fragments totaling a few minutes of real time, those days are gone.  I don’t know why those fragments were spared, but I’m glad they were, you see they restore some faith in my own sanity.

Memory-wise, it is as if those missing days didn’t even happen.  Only they did.

And the worst was yet to come…

{P.S. I am particularly grateful to my wife Suzanne, and my daughters Tamryn and Dannielle for putting their normal lives on the back-burner to tend me, even though I didn’t know who they were or why they were there.  To my son Gareth, and my youngest daughter Julia, whom I believe my wife protected by keeping from my bedside – I lost you for days, but I am so glad to have you back.}

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Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget – Part One

In late January 2016 I was diagnosed with a very large pituitary tumor.  For those who don’t know what this is, it is a tumor inside the cranial cavity.  I hope you never need a brain surgeon, but if you suffer from one of these surprisingly common afflictions you’ll find you have no choice.  So, to protect yourself and your loved ones you need to know more about them – this series of posts might serve that purpose.  It details the events and circumstances that built up to and surrounded mine, please read on.

My past treatment at various doctor’s hand ensures a deeply defined suspicion of them.  Thanks to the encouragement of a close friend, I managed to overcome my resentment and found a wonderful personal physician, Dr. Shelley Blackburn, early in 2015.  I have no doubt she is the reason I still have my eyesight.

In 2015 the vision in my left eye began deteriorating.  I noticed it soon after it began because it started as a blurred spot directly on the focal point of my left eye.  I visited an optometrist for an examination and discussed it with her, but she couldn’t find any optical reason for it – my eyes seemed healthy.  She prescribed new glasses and asked if I’d like to visit an Ophthalmologist for a follow-up exam.  I asked if they’d be able to fix the problem, to which she replied “Probably not, but at least you’ll know what is wrong.” Since I was on a very high deductible insurance plan I decided not to spend a large chunk of my own money for no results.  Big mistake.

Over the remainder of 2015 I watched the blurry spot in my left eye expand until over seventy percent of its vision, from the left edge to well past the center, was severally compromised.  Foolishly, I shrugged it off as the likely result of a Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis suffered over thirty years previously.  {Yes, that incident was a major contributing factor to my distrust of doctors.}  How could I be so stupid?  Easy.  The Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis pinched the optic nerve of my left eye until I lost control over it and could no longer distend it to the left.  Some time afterwards I was prescribed spectacles because my left eye was significantly weaker that my right.  This blurry vision was simply another ramification of that old injury, right?  Wrong.

The way things appear at first glance is not necessarily the way they are…

In early January 2016 I noticed a blurry spot beginning to form in my right eye.  My old injury had not affected my right eye in any discernible way, so I realized I needed to act.  Since the optometrist had no idea regarding the cause of the vision loss in my left eye it became clear I needed to see an Ophthalmologist.  Ophthalmologists are specialists, in the USA to see one you must have a referral. I made an appointment with my GP.  Fortunately, my company’s insurance provider changed for 2016 and I had opted for a lower deductible insurance plan.  On the old high deductible plan I would probably have delayed, a hesitation that may well have resulted in me being clinically blind today.

During the visit with my GP I asked for a referral to an Ophthalmologist.  Fate stepped in.  It turned out Dr. Blackburn is blind in one eye.  I described my symptoms and she immediately set to work.  Here in the USA most specialists are booked up for months in advance.  Dr. Blackburn called in a personal favor and secured an appointment for me with an Ophthalmologist associate of hers for the next day.

The Ophthalmologist, Dr. Richard (*), proved to be extremely thorough.  Test after test showed no cause for my vision loss – both my eyes were healthy.  Eventually he called for a Visual Acuity test.  Bingo.  As soon as he read the results, which define clear borders for our peripheral vision, he explained what he’d found.  In his opinion I was displaying classic symptoms of a large pituitary tumor.  This type of tumor stretches both optic nerves and results in loss of peripheral vision.  I needed an MRI performed immediately.

Dr. Richard called Dr. Blackburn, she arranged the MRI, immediately.  At 8pm that night I went into hospital where I lay inside the Magnetic Resonance Imaging chamber for half an hour, listening to the loud clicking, banging, and crashing of extremely technical and precise machinery mapping out my brain and skull.  A word to the wise… if you ever need an MRI accept the option of loud music to both pass the time and deaden the noise.

The next morning Dr. Blackburn called me to confirm that I did indeed have a pituitary tumor.  A very large pituitary tumor.  How large?  Mine was 24 millimeters.  Imagine a one inch diameter marble sitting right inside your skull, pushing against the Frontal Lobes of your brain, distending and crushing your pituitary gland, and stretching both optic nerves.  That is essentially what I had – it turns out I never lost my marbles, the doctors found mine…  {Actually, I did lose my marbles, but that came later, when I was in hospital recovering from the surgery.  I’ll be writing about that in a later installment of this article.}

Again Dr. Blackburn jumped into action to secure an appointment with a Neurologist she knew.  Unfortunately Dr. Blackburn’s acquaintance was fully booked, however in turn she took the time to call a Neurosurgeon associate.  Once again, instead of having to wait months for an appointment with a specialist, I had one in a couple of days.  And what a wonderful person Dr. Brett (*) turned out to be.  Calm, measured, thoughtful, and willing to take as long as necessary to explain everything to our satisfaction.  Also, though significantly younger than me, Dr. Brett’s temperment strongly reminded me of my deceased oldest brother – these little things matter.

Dr. Brett explained that before a course of treatment could be determined we had to find out if the tumor was productive or non-productive and whether it was cancerous.  A productive tumor produces hormones that generally play havoc, a non-productive tumor doesn’t produce hormones, and a cancerous tumor is bad news of another ilk.  To determine the tumor’s type I had to see an Endocrinologist.

Yet another specialist, yet another potentially months long wait…

This time it was Dr. Brett who called in a favor by securing an appointment for me.  Oh, and in case you doubt this chain of remarkable good fortune, I personally overheard him calling and speaking with the Endocrinologist to explain the urgency of the situation and how much he’d appreciate her seeing me ASAP.  This was midway through a Friday afternoon.

The Endocrinologist, Dr. Michelle (*), agreed to see me early the following Tuesday afternoon, but warned I might have to wait as she was scheduling me during her lunch break. She also instructed Dr. Brett as to the specific bloodwork she would need to make a diagnosis.  She needed a lot of tests performed.  Dr. Brett had his assistant make an appointment for me with him the following Wednesday, then called the bloodwork department and sent me down to have the bloods for a copious number of tests drawn.

How fast was this happening?  So fast that when I arrived to have my blood drawn they hadn’t yet received the written orders.  I waited the short time necessary, then had multiple vials of blood drawn.  The phlebotomist told me I needed to come in first thing on Monday to have another draw made, to test my hormone levels after a night’s sleep.  That particular draw took a day to process, its results would be delivered to Dr. Michelle by noon on Tuesday.  She would see me in the early afternoon, so there was no time wasted.

Things were rapidly falling into place.  Everything was progressing incredibly smoothly, surely this was a good omen and an indication of things to come?  Unfortunately it was not.

Tuesday afternoon Dr. Michelle gave me the good news.  My tumor was both non-cancerous and non-producing.  My hormone levels were all within their normal ranges, and she now had a baseline of what we would have to aim for after treatment.  She also warned me of likely outcomes and what she would be looking for after the treatment performed by Dr. Brett.

Wednesday came.  I saw Dr. Brett, who went over the results he’d already received from Dr. Michelle to confirm her prognosis.  He explained that surgery to de-bulk the tumor was the best option, possibly followed by some chemotherapy or radiological treatments, should they prove necessary.  He went over how he performed the surgery, answered all our questions, and we scheduled surgery.  A quick skim through his appointment diary showed no openings for weeks, except for a single blank spot on Tuesday, 7th February, which happened to be the following week.  I made a joke about spoiling his golf outing to cover my relief at not having weeks to fret over the tumor growing in my skull.

I would be his first case of the day and would have to be checked in, ready for surgery preparation by 6am.  The method Dr. Brett uses for this surgery is a transsphenoidal pituitary resection.  This procedure involves using an Endoscope, inserted and operated via one of the nostrils to enter the cranium and de-bulk the tumor.  He explained that this type of surgery normally takes about two hours, along with an hour’s preparation and another hour post op to wind down.  Most patients are released after a one or two-day recovery period in hospital.

In my case this was not to be.

Due to complications, the surgery itself took five hours.  My recovery time in hospital wasn’t two days, it was a little over two weeks – the first six days of which were spent in the Intensive Care Unit, and of which I have only fragmentary recollection.

How do we prepare for a total memory loss?  Lest you think we cannot, we can – though not in ways that easily spring to mind.  Since I have firsthand experience of the phenomenon I’ll be addressing this in a following post of this article.  For now, let me assure you total memory loss is nothing like it is portrayed in the movies.  Nothing at all.

How is our damaged faith restored?  Through the efforts of those who care.  Everyone involved in my case cared.  From the many nurses who looked after me to the doctors who treated me, everyone involved made extraordinary efforts to ensure the best possible outcome for me – someone of whom they had no personal knowledge.  I am humbled and grateful to them all for tending me during this frightening ordeal, and believe me when I say it was frightening.

The end of part one.

I hesitate to refer to this post as “my story” as that indicates fiction, and this is not a fictional account.

Please accept my apologies for not completing this article in a single post.  I am unable to do so for several reasons.  First, I am still recovering and lack the mental and physical endurance to write it all in a single article.  Next, just the introduction is already over 1500 words, which is much longer than a blog post should be.  Next, it is not yet over, I am still recovering and have a long way to go till I am back to normal, if indeed I ever get there.

(*) Name obscured to protect individual privacy.

The article continues in Lest We Forget – ICU.

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on Busyness

True wisdom is ageless understanding.

My daughter Julia, @Chibichiree, wrote this essay for school.  She is seventeen.

If I Had a Nickel for Every Time I was Busy…

Tim Kreider’s, The “Busy” Trap, dwells upon his opinions on busyness.  He believes that busyness is an addiction, is a coping mechanism to help people not have to face what might just be there when they have nothing to do.  Kreider talks about two of his friends, two completely different circumstances.  One of his friends is too busy to notice that an invitation to spend time together is such.  His other friend has left behind a very busy world to one more relaxed and calming, only to find what she thought was her personality was a side effect of the stress of being busy.

I believe busyness drains us of who we are to give us false personalities and lives filled with self-obtained stress.   I agree wholeheartedly we as people, as a human race, tend to fill our life with a void of nothingness disguised as fulfillment.

I believe that to be busy fills life with a certain nothingness, a daily rush to do everything you possibly can, only to be rewarded with the stress that it gives back to you.  I do not think there is any value in stuffing the day with activities.

Kreider says, “Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half hour with classes and extracurricular activities” (381).  This is true.  There is a woman who lives in my neighborhood, I babysit her youngest child, she goes to dance, gymnastics, yoga, a math tutor, she eats dinner, has thirty minutes of reading time, and then it is bed time.  My family never did this, we never could have – we lived out of town.  My ‘extracurricular’ was running around the woods getting poison ivy and chasing after chickens until my mother called me in for dinner.  Now I would like to believe this is just as important as learning a new language, or perfecting your times table because I learned a lot while doing all of these things… how to differentiate between leaves and the importance of being gentle.  Do people not see the fundamental mistake they have made in giving children so much to do?  We have given them no time to find out who they are and no time to explore the world around them.  If a child never has time to just be, and by that I mean have no activities they must go to and no responsibilities, then how are they ever to learn to enjoy themselves, learn to just be?  In filling a child’s life with seven different things every day of the week we are teaching them that they must always have something to do, for if they do not have something, some activity or class to do, they are not doing anything of importance, so they are no longer important…

Human beings tend to feel the need to feel important.  To feel as if they are somehow doing something of great importance.  When the matter of the fact is that in two hundred, three hundred, four hundred years for now no one is going to know your name or that you worked three hours of overtime on Thursday.  There will be no shadow of a thought about ordinary people and their ordinary lives.  When someone is lying on their deathbed I sincerely doubt that they will be thinking, “Oh god I should have worked more.”  They will be thinking, “If only I could enjoy the sun one last time, kiss Mary goodbye, and have held my children a bit longer”(384).  Kreider said something similar to that.

I have always been like water.  I float along with the plan.  I can change without resistance.  If they need twenty minutes, I can sit in the sun and enjoy the breeze.  I feel no need to throw myself into a tizzy because my perfect to the second schedule has been thrown to space.  I have often thought on the subject of last thoughts, I have wondered what mine will be, what regrets I will have, what are the things I will truly miss at the end of it all…  Most likely the things that cannot be replaced, interaction with a certain human being, and their idiosyncrasies.  It seems to me that people have forgotten how to stop, take a moment, how to think about everything that is around them without thinking about what needs to be done.  If one cannot take a single moment to breath, to stop and look at the sky and realize its crisp blue beauty, does it still exist in their world, or has it simply disappeared, maybe it has become the forgotten background to an ever bleak and monotonous existence?   What is the point in being alive if one cannot enjoy the things that are around them every day, the spectacular display that seems to go unnoticed, washed out in a rainstorm of ‘productivity’?

Despite my opinions, busyness can also be an important escape from something a person needs to stop and face.  If I keep busy, that dark shadow cannot catch up to me, it cannot get me.  I know this all too well.  When I was younger I had something terrible happen to me and instead of facing it, instead of talking about it, I took up running.  Quite literally.  I would run and run trying to get away, I would run until I threw up.  Honestly I think that in that time, that is what I needed.  Busyness is okay sometimes – it is an escape, but a necessary one.  Victims of trauma and assault often take up a hobby – piano, reading, binge watching all of a television show just so they do not have to face the dark, so that they do not have to face what has happened to them.  I have been there, I have seen that side of the world, and I think it is an important argument, but eventually you will run out of places to run, shows to watch, books to read, and you will be alone, left to face what happened.

There will always be two sides to a single coin, always people on different sides of the fence.  If we flip over said fence there will be people who believe being busy is a good thing, and they are entitled to that opinion, just as I am entitled to my own.  One reason someone might say keeping your children busy is a great thing to do, is that it keeps them out of trouble.  There are countless youth groups dedicated just to keeping kids away from drugs, which must mean that plenty of people go to them, because how would they stay open if people did not?  I am positive plenty of people enjoy them as well.  Here is the argument in a whole: If a child has countless activities or clubs to go to, they will have no time to act out, they will have no time to experiment with drugs or commit crimes.  I can agree it is a good thing to keep the world’s youth safe from the dangers that hide around the corner.  But I can also argue that it is not a good thing to keep children and teenagers so busy they never know about the hard parts of life, because they will then be left with a blank mind that doesn’t know what to do when someone approaches them with these options they have never had to face.

Another argument for keeping busy with work and overtime and volunteering is that it builds character.  When a person works hard they are a hard worker.  Simple, right?  And since everyone loves a hard worker, employers are more likely to hire a hard worker who is well rounded and takes on just enough extra work and overtime, not too much because that will interfere with their busyness at work.  Everything is a well calculated move, life becomes like a well-oiled machine.  Everyone is a perfectly fitting cog when they are busy, and if they are not busy they are sure the machine will fall to pieces.  But that is not true.  As Kreider says about his friend who left her busy New York life for one the French countryside, “She still gets her work done, but it doesn’t consume her entire day and brain.” (382).  This woman does not let work fill her entire day and that is just fine, she still gets everything she needs done and also has time to spend with friends, she no longer lets the curse of busy cover her in a dark mist. And that well-oiled machine?  Well it looks to me like it did not fall apart.

No matter where people go in life there will always be pros and cons of being busy.  There will always be two sides of the fence, one seemingly greener than the other depending on the light in which you are looking at it.  I believe there is nothing more important than to be free to hold onto every moment of your life.  Every single second the clock ticks down another stroke, every grain of sand in that hourglass of our lifetimes.  We do not know how much time we have, how many grains of sand, I could live to be eighty years old, or just barely make it to my twenties.  So I am determined to spend my time doing what pleases me, take naps in the glow of the warm sun, walk slowly in the cool fall air, do whatever it takes to make me feel fulfilled.

I slept in the other day, something I almost never do.  Something engrained into my mind made me say to my mother, “Being lazy.”  To which she replied, “Relaxing is just as important as getting things done.”  I believe that busyness is an escape from yourself, it is a way of tiptoeing the tightrope over the abyss of self-awareness.  The only way people will ever be able to take the plunge, to let go and fall back into themselves, is to take a moment and realize it is okay to just be.

{P.S. You can find more of Julia here.}

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