A Child of the World

via Daily Prompt: Passport 

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Travel gives perspective.  I don’t mean the all inclusive trip to Cancun or Cruise to the Bahamas in a floating hotel kind of travel.  Those are fun and a nice, comfortable way to see the world. Maybe somewhere in between backpacking across Europe for your Senior Summer and moving to another country.  I call it adventure traveling.  You get on  plane with a language phrase book, a map and couple of spots that look interesting in mind.

This floating ball of mud is full of wonder.  There are sights that will fill your soul everywhere, if you bother to look.  The next life changing event probably doesn’t include fruity drinks with little umbrellas on a beach.  If you want to change your life, travel to Central America, with a suitcase full of sandals and coloring books.  Take a train to no where.  Stop early in the afternoon and go to the local store to buy some sweets.  Maybe a soccer ball.  When you walk through the village, start passing out your goodies.

For the rest of you life you will take that trip in your head again.  Touched by the poverty that couldn’t stop the smiles.  Laughing with children who don’t speak you language as you kick a ball down a dirt street.  You will remember the taste of the stew from the community kitchen better than the finest meal.  That little book in your back pocket isn’t really your passport.  It’s your birth certificate.

Potions of Life

via Daily Prompt: Elixir                                                 

bar                               coffee

Many would think that with an Irish surname, I would think of alcohol as the Elixir of Life.  It’s more like the Elixir of Like, enough can even transform into the Elixir of Love.  Check out any bar around closing time.  Alcohol is truly transformational in it’s powers.  It is the elixir of bad dancing at weddings and poor decisions on many occasions, often leading to weddings.

There is only one true Elixir of Life, one potion that restores vitality.  We faithful pause daily to receive its blessings, the distilled essence of joy.  The devout show proper respect by preparing and consuming in unadulterated forms.  Other sect have grown up, arguing that it is better to spread the word by any means.  Temples sprout like fast food franchises around the world.  Pause in your day to be thankful for Coffee, The True Elixir of Life.

Not “My color”

via Daily Prompt: Purple

blackeye

If you look in my closet, it’s mostly dark colors.  There are lots of blacks, browns, greens and for variation shades of gray.  I get wild and wear blue some days.  I guess earth tone is an accurate description.  Funny thing is, I wear purple a lot.

I tend to favor the paisley and bull’s eye patterns.  They can stand out really well if you accent them with yellow and green.  It’s eye catching in an otherwise bland wardrobe.  The trick is to wear it as a highlight.  Too much and it takes away from the overall effect and throw people off.  It looks a little creepy.  Makes others uncomfortable.

It’s also neat if you have a good story to explain why you’re wearing the splash of color.  “I walked into a door.” is boring and lacks (excuse me), punch.  Instead, try, “I got caught between a Pilates class and a troop selling Girl Scout cookies”.  And, finally shake it off with a manly laugh.  Next week we will talk about “The Art of Scars”.  Until then, Man Up!

Ordinary? No such thing

via Daily Prompt: Ordinary

vanilla

I’m a biker.  Two wheels, a motor, usually loud pipes and a rock and roll IPOD.  It helps me keep perspective on life.  You see mine is out of control in almost every way.  No nine to five job, no “Leave it to Beaver” home and family, crazy women abound and crazier friends.  But, nothing ordinary.

Ordinary would mean that I’ve become accustomed to the extraordinary.  The beautiful and amazing can no longer grasp my attention.  The small pleasures in life aren’t as pleasing.  Ask a resident of Flint, Michigan how ordinary a clean glass of water is.  Ask the homeless how ordinary it is to sleep in a warm safe place.

Nope.  Ordinary is as rare as common sense, which makes it extraordinary. Like vanilla ice cream.  If you take the time to think about it, it’s not ordinary.

Like Gold

via Daily Prompt: Acceptance

It seems precious, beautiful, desirable. But, what is it good for?  Does it enhance our lives?  What intrinsic value does it posses?  It’s rare but relatively useless for serious work.  It’s an adornment, a sparkly bauble.

To a social animal, acceptance is a little more important in the long run.  A strong person doesn’t need acceptance of others, but if they want to continue, to pass on their DNA to the next generation, there needs to be a little acceptance.  It can be lonely living on the outside, striving only for yourself.  Many hands make light work, comfort, security.

Yeah, maybe acceptance is like gold, a useless, soft, pretty thing.  But, people still want it and value it for more than it’s utility.  It adds value to our lives.

I’m Retro

retro

With all the labels going around today, I thought I’d get ahead of the game and select my own.  The ones being thrown at me are not only wrong, but pretty stupid.  Socialists calling me a Nazi, hate groups calling me racist because I don’t support their cause and pretty much anyone that calls me narrow minded because I disagree with them.  They try to define me.  Seriously, how can an opinion be wrong?  Like most people, I don’t fit into your nice, neat, narrow categories.

I deny the collective, Orwellian Truth Speak.  I deny responsibility for anyone or everyone’s happiness.  I can’t even make myself happy most days, it’s insane to expect me to appease anyone else.  I don’t accept responsibility for other peoples children.  They’re not mine, I didn’t make them and don’t want them.  No, I am not worried about the parents responsibilities in caring for their progeny.  Hazing is not a criminal act, it is a right of passage, a memorable step in someones life.  No, hazing should not be taken to the point on injury or death and when it does, the culprits should be punished.

The right to choose anything private is just that, PRIVATE!  Abortion is only a sin if it goes against your religion and then only for you.  No one else has a right to demand control over so private a choice.  Who you have sex with, marry, want to change into is up to you.  If a gay couple decides to marry and adopt a child from a young woman who knows she can’t provide for the baby, is it really my concern?  Does anyone really think that a couple who struggled so hard to determine who they are is going to force a life choice on a child?

I apologize for the rant. Stupid pisses me off.

Before I joined the Army, the only positive role model I had was my great grandfather.  He lived his beliefs.  He was also a product of his times.  Turn of the century America was still racially biased, women were supposed to be subservient to the men in their lives. (Of course, try to tell Ol’ Mam’mie that and she’d whip your butt.)  He worked for everything he ever had.  Refused to take or ask for hand-outs.  Grandpa would go hungry to make sure everyone else ate.  He also didn’t approve of everyone, their opinions, new trends, or politicians. The last was probably hardest for him. He also treated every person he met with respect, regardless of their wealth, station, race or political opinion.

So, I’m going with retro.  An updated version of Grandpa.  I wasn’t raised to treat people different because of race, religion, education, or social standing.  Everyone starts with respect.  It’s up to you to lose it.  I will continue to judge people by what they do.  I will meet my obligations as I see them, not those assigned to me by others.  I don’t care about your religion, sexual preference, marital status, or race.  The Constitution and laws of the nation don’t promise equality, just equal opportunity.

I’m going to skip the Members Only jacket.  Leathers and motorcycles iare more my style.

Almost to the Top

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I never admitted to myself that I have a “Bucket List”.  I just thought of it as a bunch of stuff I’d like to do if I ever had the chance.  You know cool stuff, scuba diving in Hawaii; snorkeling in the Bahamas; sky diving just about anywhere.  I’ve been in denial of my impending demise for 50 years.  You can’t have a bucket list if you don’t expect to kick the bucket.  Right?  OK, over my denial now.  I have a bucket list and it grows every year, things I want to do or experience.

There is this need inside, to be filled with wonder at the world.  Holding a new born child and letting your heart open to all the joy and pain that will come from loving them.  Seeing the sun rise over oceans and mountains, to see it burst from a molten sky in the desert.  Watch that same sun set, winking away the last moments of the day and surrendering to the night.  I have been so far out in the desert that the earth seemed closer to the stars, and the millions of stars that we never see became clear.  Go rafting and see the clear green water of an underground river joining the brown-gray of the river you’re on.  The water is so cold that they won’t blend together for a while.

I checked another one off my list this year.  A trip to Japan to walk up Mount Fuji.  You can’t see the mountain for the hills.  Fuji-San is so massive, you can’t see it when you’re standing on it.  If you look up, you may see a few hundred meters then it either fades from sight or gets hidden by fog.  As you climb you will pass through cloud layers that block everything else from view.  When you come around a spur, the clouds are gone and the valley opens up below you, so far away that your brain doesn’t understand size and distance.  You can only make this climb in the summer unless you have special gear and training. In the middle of August, it was cold close to the top.

I only made it close to the summit.  Our group had to turn around One hundred-Twenty meter from the top.  A Tsunami was passing by out at sea and the winds were dangerous, added to the rain and trail it was a little to much.  Squeaking along in plastic rain pants, the cold, thin air and slashing rain in the early morning before the sun rise was exhausting.  Our group lost half it’s number to fatigue or altitude sickness just over half way.  Bullet climbers, trying to race up Fuji would be laying on the side of the trail, gasping with cans of oxygen laying empty beside them.  I repeated the hated mantras of my training: “Slow and steady”, “One step, one breath”, “You don’t have to get there first, just get there”.  I was the oldest in the group, except for one of the trail guides, who insisted on smoking at every stop (bastard).

As I looked at the kids, twenty years younger or more, I realized I had something they didn’t.  Endurance.  Not the physical strength of my youth that would have driven me faster.  Not the stamina that would have allowed me to make the trek with little or no rest.  The endurance of a lifetime of trying and succeeding and failing and trying again.  Pushing myself to the limit only to find the limit was in my head and I could do more.

I think that’s what a Bucket List is, a list of life time challenges that we throw ourselves at to see if we can still succeed.  Sitting here, I have decided that I need to go back to Japan and try the climb again.  I can’t beat Fuji-San, but I can see what he sees from the top.

A World of Competition

I was thinking of one of the more famous questions of our time; “Can’t we all just get along?”

hitlary

Rodney King’s question from 1992 and thinking of the riots of then and today resonate with this question.  As in 1992, the point of the riots and protests doesn’t seem to be social justice as much as childish rage and retribution for perceived slights.  Race bating in the media and giving credence to false claims of institutional racism, false, being statements that are not sustained by statistical proofs, provoke riotous responses.  Criminal activity is excused away as justifiable outrage and allowed by politicians with confusing agendas.

Among the many things that confuse me in this argument is the belief that, somehow, everyone is supposed to be able to compete and succeed.  I admit that society and government are unnatural.  There is nothing fundamental in the right to survive.  The space ship Earth is not a gentle, nurturing,  cooperative womb for all to thrive and grow.  Even plants seek to destroy other plants by depriving them of  light, water and nutrients.  The mighty oak poisons the ground around it to prevent being crowded by competition.    In destroying their competitors, killing them and recycling their dead bodies, they improve their own chance for survival.  The weak do not survive.

We have a new type of weed in our society.  Well, not new, just something we have ignored long enough that it has become a threat to our survival.  It chokes individualism out with intolerance, while screaming that we must accept others views without judgement.  The same voices tell me that I am responsible for the ignorance and racism of today and hundreds of years ago.  I am ordered to ignore facts that are inconvenient, not allowed to refute lies with proof.  I am being choked and pushed.  Reasonable discourse is almost impossible because conversations leap to ludicrous in an instant.

Dinner conversation.

“I wonder how long it’s going to take Trump to violate the Constitution?” 
“Well, he won’t be the first.  It’s pretty much guaranteed in one way or another. Since Lincoln tossed it out the window, the Constitution is just a suggestion.  Look at Obama Care.”
“Oh, my god!  Really?!  I suppose you think we should go back to owning slaves and letting women die because they can’t get mammograms.”  Notice the sharp left turn there at the end. 

Yes, even defending ourselves is now a form of oppression and racism.  How dare you shoot someone breaking into your home?  Did you know that they were there to hurt you?  Maybe all they wanted to do was burglarize your home.  Stealing is the only way for some people to make money.  He didn’t have to die just because he was robbing a store.  It reminds me of weeds in the garden.  Choking out the good and productive plants, stealing from the useful.  They need to be pulled, destroyed.  The stifling liberalism of those who are “tolerant and open minded” try desperately to choke out different ideas or opinions.  Even becoming more aggressive as days pass and the world ignores them.

These arguments remind me of another socialist party.  They were also interested in the greater good of the people, providing for those who couldn’t provide for themselves.  Who use violence to intimidate and silence anyone who disagreed with them.  It was all for the greater good, unless you were different, had different ethics, standards, morality, religion.

hitler

By the way; Nazism means National Socialism.  Remember that when you decide which side of the argument should be wearing swastikas.

 

Micro-Aggression

Apparently, I am capable of offending people with words.  Not intentional offense or insulting phrases or titles, just words.  Not even words taken in context but simply as the listener wishes to interpret them.  When I arrive at work with less caffeine than the recommended daily dose, and grumble, “morning” to a coworker.  I am a rude person who doesn’t know how to talk to people.  Hours later, I sit in the supervisor’s  office for an intervention.   “Let me get this straight. I tried to be social, I wasn’t nice enough?”

“That’s the wrong way to look at this.  It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that effects others.”

“So, I should just ignore them?  I was trying to be polite, but that doesn’t matter?”

“Micro-aggression can create a hostile work environment.  If it is not addressed, we could be sued.  They can file an EEO complaint.  Look, just try to be nicer.”

“Lieutenant, we’re supposed to be cops.  If they can’t take harsh language, they need to find another job.”  (Note:  This conversation was edited for language content and expletive, because I still needed more coffee.)

Seriously!  I sat through a four hour lecture on micro-aggression last week.  While we have riots going on, officers are being attacked, spit on, hit with bottles and generally abused and told NOT TO RESPOND.  I had a class on micro-aggression.  Here is the funny part, the passive aggressive response of sicking the boss on me for being impolite…is micro-aggression.  I learned that in the class.  When I pointed it out, it was explained that the other person didn’t feel strong enough to confront me personally and needed intervention.  That is what made it aggressive on my part.

Maybe what we need is a color code system to identify our level of susceptibility to harsh words.

microag

White – Please don’t look to hard, long or aggressively.

Pink – Sensitive in specific ares.  SEE ADDITIONAL color code list to determine unsafe areas.  Just assume that if you do not agree with every politically correct view and cause, you’re wrong.

Green – Generally resilient, occasionally touchy.  Just a normal person who is not trying to be offended by everything that they don’t agree with.  May snap back or take a swing.

Blue – Not offended by much.  Gallows humor and sick jokes are funny and will probably be repeated.  Will take limited abuse and not care.  If offended will retaliate with appropriate, limited force.  You probably deserved it.

Black – If you can offend this person, you are really trying.  If you manage to succeed, be prepared to be punched, kicked, stabbed, shot or monkey stomped. You deserved it.

I’m fairly sure my insensitive response is another example of my insensitivity.  I don’t care.  Next week, I’m going back to work with a bunch of people who wear blue shirts and black pants (see color codes).  We will attempt to protect a group of people who say they are open minded, but refuse to accept that others have the right to disagree with them, who will often attack anyone who disagrees with them, and then cry about the aggressive behavior of others.  WTF?

 

Raised by a Village

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not stray from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child.  That village is the one that trains and nurtures a young impressionable child in the way which he will grow. Every member of the village has a part to play.  The parents provide comfort, sustenance, affection, training in the first social interaction.  Simple lessons, like there are rules and most of them are for you own good.  Some rules are for the good of the family and maintaining harmony.  As interaction expands, aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors begin to influence development.  Ideas of standing in the community develop.  Playmates teach lessons about fairness and competition, team work in play, and peer pressure.  School is the first real expansion of social boundaries, people from other neighborhoods interact, expanding the village.  Education expands the mind at the same time, it opens doors and new avenues of growth.  Jobs and first employers  teach a new set of values and responsibility.  Things have a cost and you must earn wages and respect.  The Village grows, raising the child is an investment in the future.

village

The problem is that some of our children are being raised by a village of idiots.  Parents, who to often are children themselves fail to parent.  If the child is lucky, a grandparent, aunt or uncle will step in and provide some sense of guidance, but mostly it’s neglect.  Lacking a safe environment, the child is raised by the most elemental standard, survival of the fittest, strongest.  The pack mentality, establishes hierarchy and group acceptance is the same as survival.   The classroom becomes another cage, replacement for parenting, built in babysitters.  Of course the babysitter can’t teach or discipline, laws don’t allow that.  And, no one is allowed to fail, so they are never pushed to try.

Today, we can’t ignore the influence of mass and social media.  Adults influence youth to be like them, strong, profane, powerful, sexual.  Grown-up thoughts and actions that young minds and bodies are poorly equipped to deal with.  These same adults, deny their responsibility for the impact they have, claiming to only be telling the truth or blaming the parents for not taking a greater role.  Peers can instantly judge and ridicule on Facebook, Twitter, Snap-chat and similar sites.  So, we have a new word; Cyber-bullying.

Children are smart.  They learn their lessons well and quickly.  Those early lessons set the course of a life time.  It takes an extraordinary person to rise above their training.  To be more.  To break the mold.  We learn by imitation, mimicry and playing the parts of others.   After a certain point, the child becomes an adult and chooses the village they will live in.  The go where they are comfortable and know how to survive and prosper.

It hurts my heart to see so many living in broken villages, continuing in the same circle that created them.  It offends me to think that we are propping up these villages and allowing the same backwards lessons to be taught to the next generation.  It falls on deaf ears when someone tells me that it is my responsibility to raise the child instead of the parents.  Because the proverb is right, it takes a village to raise the child, but it begins in the home.

 

art by Barbara Keith Design