at a Reader’s Request

As an author one of the smartest things one can do is listen to our readers, yet as an artist listening to our audience might well be the very worst mistake we can make.

Life is full of these little conundrums. Indeed, this entire blog and even this particular post are examples of such.

One of my readers once requested I post further pictures of our dog, Bacon.  Like pretty much everyone I know, I really enjoying doing things for other people.

But as an artist whose medium is words and whose canvas is the page, I only ever really do things for myself.  Perhaps a defining attribute of art is that it must be selfish?  Not only to its creator, the artist, but also to its appreciator. After all, if art doesn’t speak directly with us, in the most intimate of conversations, should it really be considered art?

At risk of sounding foolish let me tell you my writing does precisely that. When I read something I wrote however long ago, it is as though those words were written by a stranger I’ve never met, yet who somehow knows exactly how to press my emotional buttons. It is a terrible, wonderful, and exhilarating feeling to be dragged headlong into an emotional abyss. Yes, I created those words, but to my heart they are always fresh and new. Literally always.  I’ve edited Beltamar’s War well over twenty times now, and it invariably reduces me to tears. Yes, I’m a hard hearted old man who would never dream of crying in public, but when I think nobody can see?  That might be another story, for another time.

And thus back to Lydia’s request.  Bacon, our latest pound hound, also touches my heart every time she meets me at the door. I think this year will be her tenth birthday, yet she never fails to give me an enthusiastic greeting when I arrive home.  She is always genuinely happy to see me. Always.  She is also incredibly camera shy. Which makes getting an even halfway decent picture of her very difficult.  My daughter Julia has managed this feat a couple of times.

I seldom do, but here is one such picture.

Bacon is no Spring Chicken.In order to take this I called Bacon over to me and was chatting to her as I turned my phone on, set it into camera mode, chose a square image, then ever so slowly slid it up to allow its forward facing camera to focus on her.  As soon as she noticed my phone her ears lowered and her eyes asked, “Why are you doing this to me…?”

Look into Bacon’s eyes, where I think you’ll see her question lingers for posterity.

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immaterial

~ immaterial… ~
~
Reach out and touch me,
with other than your words,
you can’t
for I am not there.
Though my heart is real,
my spirit is not made of matter,
my spirit
is immaterial.
Material things do not matter
to me,
at least as much as they matter
to many.
I
am immaterial.
~

Time never stops, and it never changes.

Time is like a stream we flow through.

Is all we really are ripples in time’s flow?

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The Followers of Fate

Once we have experienced fate the only way to think it doesn’t exist is to close our mind to its reality.

I won’t do that. However I also won’t try and come up with some nonsensical set of almost believable half-truths in order to comfort myself by attempting to explain something that is quite literally outside human understanding. I know fate is real because I have experienced it multiple times. That I don’t recognize it during my mundane day-to-day existence does not mean I have suddenly become the master of my own destiny and able to manipulate the threads of time and fate during those times.

Am I saying we don’t have free will? If I believe fate exists, how can I also believe free-will exists?

That is the quandary, isn’t it? That is the reason people spend enormous effort coming up with ludicrously complicated scenarios whose ultimate purpose is to grant us peace of mind by illustrating how we obviously have free will.

What do I think? I think the semblance of free will is not free will at all.

Yesterday I tweeted this:-


“The essential problem is that if there is fate,
there is no free will.
We can’t choose when it is fate,
and when it is not.”

Someone later asked me, “Why not? Does fate have such a strong hold over us?” I’ll answer that in a straightforward fashion. Which, if you’ve read much of my work, you’ll realize is most uncharacteristic. Yes, I think the grip of fate is so tight not even the gods can escape it.

Comfort. We humans have a desperate need to believe we can change our fate. But ultimately we cannot. As I said in an earlier blog post… “Perhaps the root thing about the fate, or its lack, is this… Even if the Fates are not, then what will happen, still will.”

Is this a fatalistic outlook? To answer that question, consider the word used to describe the outlook. Fatalistic. What does “fatal” mean? It means to die. What is the inescapable fate of every living thing? It is to die. That fate is inescapable. That is fate, and therefore fate is inescapable.

Should we simply throw up our hands and say, “If nothing I do matters, I should do nothing.” If that is your fate, you will, and there is nothing I or anyone else can do that can change it.

However doing nothing is not the fate of humanity, or indeed of any life. You see everything we do matters. Life matters, and life demands not only to be sustained but also propagated. Our most inconsequential seeming action has effects that ripple across our entire world. Simply because we don’t perceive those effects does not render them void.

Fate exists, but fate is far more complex than just us. In order to begin grasping what this mysterious thing we know and call “fate” might be, we have to stop limiting our thoughts to ourself.

Fate is infinitely more complex than merely affecting me.

How much is “infinitely”? Well, take the fates of a butterfly and a human who live on opposite sides of the world. Surely the two are so remote as to render the impact of the fate of either on the other negligible? Perhaps to our limited human minds that seems valid. But we are not the Universe, are we? We are merely its creatures. The truth is that everything matters, regardless of whether we think it matters or not.

Simply because we are unaware does not render any action inconsequential.

The result of every action impacts every other action. The conductor of the symphony we call life, is Fate.

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise?

That question explains Fate as succinctly as any other thought I’ve had. We think we matter, but in the grand scheme of things we don’t. The tree’s fall is fated, as is the impact of its fall on the entire earth. That humanity remains unaware does not negate fate.

~
Ripples and flows,
from whence they come,
we don’t know,
and to whence they wend?
Why, to their ultimate end…
~

Fate. We can’t fight it, even if we think we can.

I have more to say on Fate. Much more.  If your fate is modified by mine you may want to subscribe to this blog.  Is that a choice? If it is, I suspect the Fates have already determined its answer.

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On Pre-Destiny

change
it does a soul good…

Bless is a word I am extremely reluctant to use.

If we look on good fortune as blessings, we must also look on ill fortune as curses. Either of those is an implicit acceptance of pre-destiny. Either of those is also an implicit acceptance of benign and malign superior entities which are capable of manipulating our fate.

There are no words I know which are capable of encapsulating my thoughts on this topic.  But even knowing I will surely fail, I’ll try anyway.

Good fortune indicates luck.  What is luck, save favorable fate?  What is fate but an acceptance of strictures beyond our control?  If we can neither control nor influence our own destiny, what then?

Is all that remains to quietly accept the vagaries of fate?

How can we timidly accept that something outside our understanding has predetermined our every thought and deed?

If there is predetermination then it must be absolute.  It cannot be partial, for if predetermination is only partial then predetermination does not exist at all.

If we accept absolute predetermination, then since all actions are predetermined we must also accept that absolutely nothing we do matters.

If we accept nothing we do matters, then we must ultimately accept that we are nothing.

Nothing… means we must accept that we are not even stardust.

Formed from the dust of dead stars, we are.

I can’t accept that.

I am merely human, and therefore incapable of understanding that which is outside human understanding.

Now that, I can accept.

{P.S.  Two blog posts in a single day!!!???  This happens extremely rarely, so don’t let it dissuade you from subscribing to my blog. The subscribe button it in the top right column…}

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Pauper to Prince

So many stories follow the path of someone’s transition from rags to riches, or from pauper magically transformed into a prince.

To me the truth is that every girl is already a princess and should be treated like one, and every boy has the potential to behave with the decorum princes should, yet seldom do.

And then there is my other side, in which I realize how terribly flawed the very concept of royalty is.  The concept of royalty has entrenched expectations and acceptance of privilege so deeply into societal fabric that we are easily misled into the belief that it is universal human nature.  It is not.

Why are tales in which the heroes and heroines transit from poverty into material riches so popular?  Why are there so few tales in which the spiritually impoverished, yet materially wealthy transition into the spiritually enriched? Perhaps because an absolute requirement of spiritual enlightenment is to relinquish all material wealth?

For every Absolute, there is an Exception.

Perhaps, because sales hold more material value than souls?

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On the rights of the Rich

Do the rights of the rich outweigh the rights of the poor?  I see variances on this theme often and they are invariably couched in terms that make them sound so logical they almost seem acceptable.  Almost.  However I ultimately find them unacceptable, regardless of how cleverly they’re phrased.

The rights of the rich should never outweigh the rights of the poor. Period.

I acknowledge we live in a world in which society has been stratified into various degrees of have and have not.  However I find this morally unacceptable, regardless of the form the social stratification takes.  To me it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about rich and poor, clergy and lay, royalty and peasant, chieftains and villagers, colonists and indigenous, conquerors and conquered, victors and vanquished, or even about highly sophisticated caste systems of ancient origin.

But there is something in all those cases which does matter to me.  Namely how certain people assume authority over others.

Assumptions of authority…

This is the 21st century.  How many more centuries is it going to take before people rise up and say “No!” to social inequity?  How far must the disparity in wealth become before the man in the street says, “Enough!” to the outrageous privilege assumed by the wealthy?

Have you ever considered the expression, “Outrageous Privilege“?  I have. It is the state in which a miniscule minority are treated with such outrageous privilege that it literally becomes an outrage.  What is a miniscule minority? It isn’t the 20% of the so widely touted and so often repeated 80/20 rule. I am a reasonable person, if I lived in a society where twenty out of every hundred people were wealthier than the other eighty I’d be willing to accept that, regardless of which category I fell into. However in regard to the disparity of wealth a miniscule minority means a tiny percent of a single percentage point.   A very very very tiny percent.

No matter how clever or eloquent the justifications for social inequity are, they remain nothing but justifications for something that is inherently wrong.

What kind of language am I referring to, and what prompted this post?

Statements like, “The poor will always be with us.”  Why?  Why is there a need for anyone to be poor?  Because they’re lazy and thus don’t deserve to be wealthy?  Before you subscribe to such virulent nonsense try living in a poor man’s shoes.  Not only are they a bad fit, they are extremely uncomfortable, and you will have to work harder that you have ever worked in order to barely survive.  The poor are not lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The poor are desperate.  The poor often work multiple minimum wage jobs in order to make ends meet.

Statements like, “Minimum wage is just a starting point.”  Hogwash.  Minimum wage is an ending point.  Once an adult starts working in a minimum wage position it becomes increasingly difficult to escape working for minimum wage. The receipt of every paycheck sees your situation worse.  Minimum wage paychecks are not a blessing, they are a curse.  An adult earning minimum wage cannot save enough for a buffer to tide them over for the time taken to find a better paying job. If they lose the minimum wage job they hold today, they had better get another by tomorrow or their circumstances will get even worse than they are.  Assuming there actually is something worse than living hand to mouth, day in and day out.  Sadly, there is…

Statements like, “The homeless are homeless by choice.” Where do you go when you have nowhere to go?  Where do you stay when you have nowhere to stay?  What do you eat when you have nothing to eat?  What mental hospital will treat the chronically mentally ill when all the mental hospitals that did so closed years ago?  Are any of those choices, by choice?

Statements like, “We should not strive to make the rich poor, but to make the poor rich.”  Did you entirely miss that mysterious subject known as “Mathematics” while attending school?  Statistically speaking it is impossible for everyone to be in the top one percent.  Statistically speaking if there are one hundred people, everyone cannot be materially richer than the other ninety-nine.  Simple math folks.  But apparently beyond the ability of many to grasp.

Statements like, “Be humble, work hard, and accept your lot in life.”  Why?  Why should the poor accept being poor?  Why do the rich deserve to be rich?  Why should people work hard if they can never aspire to improving their circumstances?  Why?

Statements like, “It has always been this way.”  So what!!??  If something is unjust, then I don’t give a single solitary damn how long it has, “always been this way“, I will fight to have it fixed.  Slavery existed for thousands of years.  Does the longevity of abhorrent behavior somehow render it tolerable?  Absolutely not.

And hundreds of other acceptably false statements we are constantly trained to ignore in the interests of the status-quo.  Those little lies so slight they aren’t worth the bother of refuting.  Those deliberate misdirections that take our attention elsewhere from the things that really matter.  Here is a heads-up.  The status-quo does not serve the interests of the poor, it serves the interests of the rich.

And now, finally, to the matter that prompted this post.  Examine the screenshot below and read through the dialog captured within it.  But before you do, please note this is not an attack on the person who tweeted the quote.  It isn’t even an attack on the quote itself, which holds a lot of truth.  After all, if we are not willing to contribute something, then what right do we have to expect anyone else to contribute?  None.  I think that was the frame of mind in which the tweet originated.  However, if I am anything I am contrary.  The nuance of words is exceptionally important to me.  That is what this post is really about.

Nuance.

It reflects on how thinking about words in a different way opens entirely different ways to understand what is being said.  There are other truths beneath all words, we only need to seek them to see.

the rights of the richSeem clear?  Now let me explain what I meant in my reply.  It seemed obvious to me, however what is obvious to the author is often obscure to another.

In order to be able to give, we must first have.” Literally the only thing I can afford to give are my words.  Although words are something I treasure, I have them in abundance and can thus afford to give them freely. I strive to do that, both here on my blog, and on Twitter.  But cash?  That filthy thing known as lucre? That thing most people think of when thinking of “giving”?  According to my income I am neatly positioned in the middle class.  However the truth is that I can barely afford to service my debt.  On paper, I own my own home.  If only paper were reality., for in reality I don’t.  The bank owns the home within which we live, and the bank will get the home if I am unable to pay the mortgage.  Who, precisely, is “the bank”?  I don’t know, but I do know that they are the ones who got and get to keep the homes when the real estate market crashes. What did the people who could not pay their mortgages get to keep?  A devastating dip in their credit-worthiness?  So, although I am allegedly middle class, the only material things I own are my debts and I’m pretty sure nobody, not even the poorest of the poor, wants me to give them those.

I walk past my own reflection every day.”  And what I see, when I can bear to look, is an apparently wealthy man who in reality is so poor he does not even own the dirt upon which his home is built.  Every day I pass myself and I know how poor I am.  What choice do I have, but to walk on past?  I wonder what you see when you pass your reflection?  Sadly, I think it is likely to be the very same thing I see.  A slave, who thinks they are free.

The best slaves, are those who think they’re free. #thought

And the last line of my reply read…

It never asks me to give.”  Perhaps my experience in life differs substantially from yours. Indeed there is no doubt in my mind it does, for we are each unique individuals ultimately created by the specific circumstances that have built up to and preceded this precise moment in time. No two lives are the same! Yet in all my life I have never met a single poor person who has asked me to give them anything.  Never.  Those in more dire circumstances than myself have asked me where they might find work they could do in exchange for shelter or food, but they’ve never asked me to “give”.  Indeed many poorer than me have offered to share their food and lodging, and sometimes I have accepted their generosity.  Are beggars poor?  I have met many of those and they invariably ask me to give, but I don’t think they are poor. I think they are just beggars.  Perhaps that is what the expression truly means, that beggars will always be with us.  I don’t doubt they will, for there are always lazy people, and lazy people are undeserving of sympathy.  However the poor do not seek your sympathy, they do not seek your wealth, they seek your understanding, they seek fair and equal opportunity.  Do you think they get any of those things?

Do you freely grant those minimal desires, or do you walk past your reflection and withhold them?

{P.S. Throughout my blog you will find proof of how much words matter to me.  Here and on @Twitter, I give them away for free.  Should you choose to purchase other words of mine you may do so by buying Malmaxa, a link for which appears in the top right column.

Recently I have been seriously considering adding a “Donate” button to my blog.  I wonder if that would make me a beggar, or perhaps a trader who offers words you probably don’t want to hear in exchange for cash you probably can’t afford to give. I wonder.}

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On Twitter

When I logged in to Twitter today, I noticed a request to fill out a survey on what I think of their service.

I also took the time to write them what I thought. My comments appear below. Why am I blogging this? Well, Twitter has the potential to be a pretty wonderful place. It is rapidly losing that potential. Very rapidly. Maybe if enough people take the time to tell Twitter what they really think we can save the sinking ship Twitter is becoming. Maybe…

My survey comments appear below. Precisely as I submitted them.

Twitter has the potential to be a wonderful place for people to share the most essential thoughts and feelings they have. Unfortunately Twitter is not taking it responsibilities seriously. What are Twitter’s responsibilities? To protect its users from spam. Spam from those with nothing to say, but something to sell. Spam from those who continually say nothing to as many names as they can fit into a single tweet, in hope their “handle” is seen. Spam from accounts who say nothing at all, except in their biography which has links to sites that “sell” followers and questionable services. Spam from those who repeatedly say the exact same sales pitch to every “Handle” they see. Twitter’s responsibility is to realize its real users are real people, not “handles”. Unfortunately Twitter’s stream is becoming so polluted I am rapidly losing any desire to swim in it.

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On Alcohol

Dizzy, is what a single drink does to me.

I have no tolerance for alcohol, and I am perfectly fine with that. Indeed I find it rather amusing how so many people are so proud of their ability to hold their liquor. I don’t know what I can equate that to, except perhaps pride in their own stupidity. But then one of the many things alcohol does is damage virtually every organ in the body, including the brain, so I guess it makes some kind of sense.

I wonder why people find it difficult to understand me when I say “I don’t drink.” I’m not being coy, and I’m definitely not trying to use reverse psychology on them in the hope they will press alcohol on me. Which is how they seem to take that statement.  And no, I won’t make an exception to my principles in order to fit into some social circle.

To me, “I don’t drink”, seems like such a simple, unambiguous statement. But of course it isn’t.  Of course I drink! In fact I drink copious amounts.  Of coffee and tea mostly.  But Alcohol? No. Occasionally at Christmas I’ll have a very small glass of some liqueur, when my immediate family gather. Always on a full stomach, but even that doesn’t fully mitigate its effects, which I dislike.  I don’t like being dizzy, and I don’t like the blurring of my senses that inevitably accompanies the consumption of even a minute amount of alcohol.

Since I value tolerance, let me clarify what I mean by “no tolerance.”  I don’t mean no tolerance as in I think alcohol should be abolished.  I mean no tolerance as in it has an immediate effect on me.

Perhaps the bottom line in this is that I know my limit, and my limit is none.  Do you know yours?

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On Fate

A couple of days ago the question of fate came up, several times, from several different people.  Perhaps those interactions fated the writing of this post. Perhaps they did not.

What is Fate?  That question is not one that any thinking person should dismiss without due consideration. Why not?  Because Fate is far far more complex than just something we either think exists, or we simply dismiss.

If you don’t believe in fate, then you should.

If you do believe in Fate, then you shouldn’t.

Contrary statements?  Only when considered superficially. You see Fate truly is something so compelling it warrants our careful consideration. So, in hope of starting you along a path less tread, I have modified part of one conversation that occurred on twitter. The conversation began with a poem of a fateful nature by Nandita Das. My original Tweet, in reply to Nandita’s poem, appears below.

Fate… what is fate, if we have free will? what is free will, if our destiny is fated? Yet fate, just feels right.

Twitter forces the compaction of thoughts. Sometimes this compaction is good, in how it focuses the essence of a thought, but others it isn’t as it removes essential elements. My full thought appears below.

~ Fate… ~
What is fate, if we have free will?
What is free will, if our destiny is fated?
While Fate seems that it must be
Wrong,
Fate, once experienced,
just feels
Right.
~

And below is another poem on Fate, composed in another completely separate conversation that occurred about the same time.

~ Fate ~
Let us not tempt the Fates
by presuming to understand them.
If the fates have desires,
then to them we will succumb.
If the fates have goals,
then we are but their ball.
If the fates have wings,
then perhaps they’ll let us fly.
Yet if there is a question that
to the Fates we may not cry,
it is a single word,
one word
from which they’re warded.
It is the question,
Why?
~

Perhaps the root thing about the fate, or its lack, is this…

Even if the Fates are not, then what will happen, still will.

Something I find particularly fascinating about the Fates, is that even the Gods cannot escape their dictates, and if the Gods can’t then what hope have we?  We like to think we’re masters of our own destiny, so much so that we’re unwilling to think about the possibility we are not. That is why, especially if we don’t believe in fate, we should still consider it.  It is also the reason, if we do believe in Fate, that we should rethink it, even if only in hope of finding a path ahead we have not yet seen.

What do I believe about the Fates?  Well, there are a few clues within this post, and many more sprinkled throughout this blog. One of these clues is that within the question opening this paragraph I capitalized the word.  Could that be an example of Decorum, a concept used throughout Malmaxa?

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Words, Sweeter than Wine.

Words matter, they really do.

~ Words, Sweeter than wine ~
~
Little pecks upon the cheek.
Gentle lips that lead,
two loving mouths,
to meet.
Two tongues that twine,
and sometimes,
little sips of wine.
Tender kisses,
here and there,
tender kisses on their neck,
and hair.
Think of the many many things,
two loving mouths may share.
And, of course,
the most precious things
of all…
the little words,
that show we
care.
~

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On Things

The things that matter are the things that care.

And the only things that care, are things that are alive.

Does your car care if you crash it, or if you don’t wash it?

Does your bed cry if you sleep somewhere else?

Do your jeans beam with pride because you wear them so well?

Does gourmet food stay fresh and hopeful until someone with a taste for the finer things in life is ready to consume it?

Yes, things can make our bodies more comfortable, but they cannot make our lives better. Better things do not make better people.  Indeed “better” things too often make people worse, while misleading them into believing they are better.  We are not the sum of the things we possess, we are the sum of the lives we have touched.

Life is made better by lives we interact with. While those lives need not be human, they must at very least have lived.

Let me finish this blog post by asking you a question… If it cannot love you back, then why do you love it?

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On Misleading Questions

I have often said the only stupid questions are the questions we don’t ask. Does that mean all questions are worthy of answers? Our natural instinct is to assert, “Yes!”

However that isn’t true, is it?

There are definitely questions not worthy of answers.  Rhetorical questions not only do not require answers, but providing an answer often lessens the power of the question. Rhetorical questions are intended to invoke thought, not speech.

But this post isn’t about rhetorical questions, it is about actual questions that are not worthy of answers.  Specifically, it is about questions that mislead.

What is a misleading question?  A misleading question is deliberately framed in order to ensure the only valid answer is the one desired. A misleading question is one framed to compel an incomplete answer that points toward the goal of the person doing the asking.

We are asked misleading questions all the time, and we are trained to respond.  Indeed when we don’t respond in the way these irrelevant, and ultimately pointless, questions demand we often throw the conversation into complete disarray.  Personally, I dislike misleading questions almost as much as I abhor the statement of opinion as though it is fact.  This dislike ensures I go out of my way to cause disarray.

“How are you?” When asked in our day-to-day work life, this is a misleading question.  The person asking is not interested in our well-being, they don’t want to know, yet they expect us to obey social conventions by answering with some banality like, “I’m fine thanks, and you?”  The only “polite” way to answer this question is by asserting we are well.  If there is only one acceptable answer to the question, then the question is pointless and more than that, it is misleading.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?  Perhaps, however I’m growing tired of living in a world full of people who don’t care.  So I rebel.  When people ask me banal questions in which they very obviously have absolutely no interest in my answer, I assume they are sincere and that they actually care. I answer their question honestly, but in a fashion that requires them to stop and think about my answer.  I have a variety of responses to the “How are you” question, but I have two favorites.

If I am pleased to see the person, I answer “All the better for seeing you, and how are you?”  There is no mistruth in that answer. I am not burdening them with how I actually feel, I’m not embarking on an extended diatribe on how poorly I slept, or how appalling I find the state of our world. I’m indicating my pleasure at seeing them, while giving them a chance to tell me how they really feel.  It is surprising how often they respond by actually telling me.  It is also surprising how much they seem to enjoy having an opportunity to tell the truth.  A single good minute can indeed make for a better day.

And then there are the people I am not pleased to see.  It would be impolite to answer truthfully, indeed doing so might well be considered an unnecessary truth. Unfortunately, since it is considered rude to ignore the question I answer, truthfully, “I am alive, which as far as I know is better than being dead, but only time will tell.”  Most often they simply nod as though they actually heard my answer, then sashay into whatever it is they really want to talk about.  However, to those paying attention my answer shocks them out of their comfort zone and forces them to think of some appropriate way to respond.  This usually entails them frowning as they try and figure out if I have just insulted them, which I haven’t. Their frown is either followed by a quick shake of the head as they discard their suspicion, or a pursing of their lips as they consider whether being dead might actually be better than being in their company. They seldom tell me what they really think, but they don’t need to as I’ve already seen it all in their facial responses.  Finally, they start talking about what they really want to talk about.

What is the point of all this?  There is more than one point.  If you have no interest in how someone feels, then don’t ask them. If you don’t care, then don’t pretend you do.  When you ask banal questions, you’ll sometimes get honest answers.  Don’t pretend to be interested if you aren’t. In other words, if all you want to do is get down to business, then open the conversation with, “Let’s get down to business.”

And now, to the heart of misleading questions. The question of love.

Perhaps we should never ask the question, “Do you love me?”, for if there is ever a misleading question intended to extract the answer we desire, “Do you love me?” is that question. Even within an unsolicited proclamation of love lies an implicit plea for a response in kind.

So how do we show someone we love them, without framing our love in words that demand the response we desire?

The answer to the riddle dwells within the question. We show them our love and allow them the freedom to either see our demonstration of love, or to not notice it.

Yes, it is said that love is blind, but if the one we love is blind then will they ever see?

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On Cyber-Bullying

During a conversation with Camille Sanzone on the nature of absolutes and truth, which I believe seldom walk hand-in-hand, Camille raised the issue of Cyber-Bullying. That conversation inspired this post, you can listen to it at this link into iHeart Radio’s archives if you’d like a little background.

What is Cyber-Bullying? To me it is just another example of grossly bad and inappropriate behavior. Like “real” bullying, cyber bullies target someone and then relentlessly begin to attack them. Like “real” bullies, cyber bullies don’t back off until they are forced to. To me there is no difference between real bullies and cyber bullies. They both exhibit repulsive character traits, foremost of which is a completely unjustified and misguided feeling of superiority.

Nobody is superior to anybody else. Period.

Everyone gets only one life. That is a simple, irrefutable fact. Every life is as vital, unique, and as precious as every other. I believe that is another irrefutable and ultimately inescapable fact.

Tolerance is a variable, sometimes we should have a lot, and sometimes we should not.

Bullying, regardless of whether it occurs in virtual cyber-space or in our real life, is an example of something for which we should have no tolerance. None at all.

So what can we do about Cyber-Bullying?

A number of things, most of which involve modifying our own behaviors. Let us face it, change always begins within.

The internet is forever. What do I mean by that? I mean that regardless how transient you think something in virtual space is, it has been recorded somewhere. Quite possibly by the NSA. Don’t think the NSA are interested in literally everything you say, regardless of where you say it? Okay, then here is a picture-perfect {it literally has pictures} example of something bullies post and then delete in the misguided belief their abhorrent behavior will go unnoticed, and therefore unchecked.

Once we accept the internet never forgets, addressing cyber bullying becomes much easier. Why? Because we all want to do the right thing, and if our stand for justice and right is recorded forever… Well that is a powerful incentive to do right, isn’t it? Hopefully it is equally powerful in stopping cyber bullies from doing wrong. Unfortunately I don’t think so, as cyber bullies don’t think they are doing wrong, at least until someone shows them.

So show them!

Speak out against Cyber-Bullying. When you witness bullying don’t take the moral coward’s way out and ignore it. Speak out. Call the Bully out for being a bully. Stand up for the victim by putting the bully down.

In the past the expression “to put down” referred to what you’d have done to an animal. You’d take them to the Veterinarian, who would inject them with a powerful sedative that put them to sleep and then stopped their heart. Am I suggesting you kill cyber bullies? In virtual a way, I am. Once you have addressed their behavior, put an end to it by blocking them from ever interacting with you again.  In most social media networks with the click of a button they are dead to you, use that button and effectively kill all further interaction with them.

But what if you are the victim of a cyber-bully? That requires an altogether different tactic. Do not respond. Every time you respond to someone who attacks you online, you are advertising for them. Do you want their name to appear in brilliant overhead lights? No, you don’t. You might think you do, but in reality you want their behavior to stop, and shouting their name to the world encourages them to keep on behaving badly. So don’t reward them by responding. Don’t try and explain yourself, they don’t care. Don’t try and rally support to your defense, though it seldom works it does advertise their name.

Remember the adage “Even bad advertising is good advertising.”  Don’t advertise for bullies by interacting with them.

But I have to do something! Yes, you do, and yes, you can. You put them down. You report them to the social media network their behavior occurred on, and then you block them. Forever. And once that is done, you ignore them. Forever.

Don’t waste your time by spending it on your enemies, waste your time by spending it with your friends.

But what about forgiveness? Do you truly think they’ll change? Do you truly think they’ll care? Sadly, I don’t.

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On Stress

We live in a artificial world of our own manufacture which is chronically unsuited to our genetically programmed prerogatives.

In place of choices that give us an immediate return on our decisions, we are forced to make choices which only result in the promise of potential long term rewards.

What do I mean?

Natural: I am hungry, therefore I must find food or starve.
Manufactured: Working now will give me a paycheck in a week, with which I will be able to buy food for the following week.

This is extremely unnatural. Our nature demands we see an immediate reward for our efforts and when we cannot, we become stressed.

Why do you think so-called smartphones are so chronically addictive?  I think it is because they are one of the few things that give us an immediate return on investment.  We touch the screen, and something happens. We text someone, and they text us right back.

Smartphones give us instant feedback in a world we have rendered long-term.

Perhaps I should start using mine?  No, I don’t think so.  Why not?  Because I realize my need for happiness is far deeper than a touch-screen will ever be.

 

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What is a poem?

Poems are more about sensation and emotion than they are about rhythm and rhyme.

Poems says much more than the sum of their words.  They’re like a message in a bottle, thrown into a hostile sea, to be found and interpreted by someone whose attention we may only hold for the time taken to read our desperate plea. If we don’t grasp and hold their heart, how likely are they to set up a search and rescue operation on our behalf?

Perhaps the essence of a poem might be that it is a plea for understanding?

With that in mind, here are a couple of mine. Others are scattered throughout the blog, under the category, “Poetry“.

~ Carbon Copy ~
~
Were I to dust you down with soot,
then lay you on a sheet,
that is a sheet I’d surely,
forever,
keep.
~

~ A plea ~
~
With you,
I’d like to walk barefoot in the sand,
the only touch,
our hands.
I’d be tempted to run you into the sea,
and there,
upon one knee,
an eternal pledge,
I’d plea.
We’d let the waves be our witness,
the only tears shed,
the rain,
as a loving sky enfolds us,
our souls unite
to once more
become
one,
again.
~

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