Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Basics - Part 2: With Respect

With Respect




When I was growing up I was taught to respect three things: Authority, my elders, and myself. 
It was pretty simple. If an officer or teacher told me to do something I was to do it. If I was addressing someone older than me it was to be by "Mr" or "Ms/Mrs". If I was going to do or say something I was to first consider if it was the right thing to do based upon the situation and the participants.
Respecting these things was not presented as an option. It was not a pick and choose scenario. It was a written-in-stone edict that I was to follow at all costs. It was the brick and mortar upon which all my other lessons would be set. It was also a basic tenet of the world in which we lived. It may have been taught, and/or, enforced differently by all my friends parents, but it was taught nonetheless.
Of course, I questioned this way of doing things at the time. In my childish mind I felt that respecting these things always, and in every situation, was in direct opposition to being myself and being able to voice my own opinion. It also put a serious obstacle in the way of being able to get what I wanted, whenever I wanted it. As I grew older I questioned my parents. This was when they taught me that it was okay to question anything and everything as long as I did so with respect and positive intent. My father taught me that respect for these things did not have to mean I agreed with them. It only meant that they needed to be given the benefit of the doubt and, if need be, challenged with respect and tact.
Please do not misunderstand. I am not and old man grousing about the way we were. I'm not lamenting the missed opportunity to be called Mr by my neighbors children the way their parents were by me. I am just trying to call attention to the glaring lack of respect that we, as a nation, currently suffer from.
The concept of respect is foreign to us as a people now. We have forgotten the lesson we learned and, in so doing, failed to pass it on to our children. We run roughshod now in our never ending quest to get what we want, when we want it. Our actions and words are put forth as if nothing, and no one, else mattered. We do not consider the situation or the other people affected by it. We simply lash out on Facebook or twitter like petulant children demanding our desires.
Every problem we face as a county today is a direct result of this missing edict coupled with the ease of opinion sharing provided by social media. We form our ideas and opinions without respect, and then spread them to the masses. Once unleashed they are feasted upon, digested, and regurgitated ad infinitum. We do not respect authority. We do not respect our elders. We do not respect ourselves. 
The result is the creation of entire movements based upon, and geared towards, the individuals right to have their every desire sated regardless of how it affects anyone else. We want to do and say as we please with no repercussions. Anyone that gets in the way of that is fodder for the social media masses. Facts no longer matter because no one respects themselves, or others, enough to check them before hopping on the bandwagon.
I assure you there is a better way. Everything and everyone can, and should, be questioned. The questions, respectfully asked, allow us to move forward, and be better as a nation and a people. Lack of respect is a killer of that process. It fosters hatred and unleashes vitriol. It sends valid points to wither and die upon deaf ears. You see respect, as I recall, is a two way street. If I put forth an opinion without respect for the intended audience I cannot logically expect a respectful reply. No matter how valid my point disdain and disrespect are the only possible return.
Respectfully yours,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Basics - Part 1: The Whirlpool

The Whirlpool


The goal and intention of the posts that follow is to break down the basics that I learned as a child. I am passionate about current events unfolding throughout our country. I will not, however, mention them here. Most of the tenets I am about to espouse fly out the window when I speak of these events. There are plenty of people spouting their opinions, as if they were informed, already. Social media has changed the game folks. It has given each of us the power to put have our opinions out there for all to see. It has also stripped us of the filters made up by the basics I am about to discuss. The purpose of the posts is to remind them, and me, that sometimes it is better to think before you act. Sometimes restraint can form a more powerful opinion than rage.

We, as a country, are currently engulfed in a whirlpool of our own making. Daily, we swim with its tide—increasing its speed and ferocity—and rush towards its doom. Most of us have a vague sense that we are caught up in it. Some of us have turned, halfheartedly, in an attempt to slow it. Still fewer have even grabbed the side of the pool and attempted to get out. The ones that do are overpowered by the force of the thing. The current sweeps them away—their good intentions and screams of hopelessness all drowned by inertia and apathy

We, as a people, are sick and tired. The whirlpool has drained us of our humanity and hope. Not one of us is thinking with a clear head. Not one of us well enough to stop the tide.

I always revert to something I learned early in my sales career during times of trouble—when things don't seem to be working out the way they should, the first thing you need to do is go back to basics. It is that thought that inspired this series of essays.


I—we—need to go back to basics. We need raise to ourselves up as a people and take a long, hard, look at the basics we have abandoned. It is in those basics that we find unity and fellowship, strength and security, love and respect. We have come so far as a county—made leaps and bounds with regards to equal rights for all men and women. No, we are not perfect—we were on the right path though. I beg of us all to turn and face this vicious tide that binds us. Leap from the pool and back onto the path. Do not let those past struggles be in vain. Do not watch our countries future—our children’s future—become tattered, torn, and sucked into the depths of that limitless pool. Shirk the narrow constrains of white and black, red and blue, right and wrong. Stop the madness, go back to the basics our parents taught us, and teach them to our children.

We, as a people, are strong and resilient. The whirlpool can be stopped. All of us can work together. All of us can stop the tide.

The Basics is a series and I will be posting every couple of days over the next two weeks so please stay tuned and leave your comments below.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Fall From Grace


The creative process is, at first, a fall from grace.

It begins with you on a mountaintop, somewhere in the wide world, standing firm, basking in the glory of your own assumptions, and the perception that has molded you since birth.

Then, from the corner of your eye you spot a butterfly—such as none you’ve ever seen before—flitting, playfully, over your shoulder and breaking for the valley below.

The winged creature’s beauty—and unpredictable flight of fancy—sets inestimable fires of thought ablaze within your stagnant mind.  The fires spread like the winds of a storm and, soon, your entire body is ablaze.  Your pulse quickens, and sweat runs like rivers of intent from every pore in your body.

The process has begun—the fall is imminent.

The fires blazing within you compel you to run.  You must catch the spark—if only for a fleeting moment—and determine the source of its beauty.  But it is flown away now, and barely visible as it falls wistfully into the abyss below.

Running is the only option.  There is no time for the subtleties of a casual stroll down the hill.  The impetus for this wild heat within is drawing a curtain of time and space in its wake and—even now—its vision begins to elude you.

Your legs are as pistons obeying the ceaseless desire of the engine up above.  They could not fulfill the speed requirements if they wanted to.  The terrain is uneven, rocky, and unexplored.  Your foot hits a dip and your entire mechanism is thrown off kilter.

You are flailing now—arms and legs akimbo— and the only control you possess is the will to follow that creature of idea.  The rest is all nonsense—grace, and control, and the like—for they would all compose the parameters that would allow this beauty to escape.

And so you let the momentum take you—come hell or high water—and leave your feet behind.

Not surprisingly, the body decides to stay with its friends, and you are now but a lost soul tumbling into eternity.

The motion is hapless—at first.  Head over heels you roll—losing all sense of self and situation to the sheer force of momentum.  Nothing makes sense because all things are possible, and probable.  It is exhilarating, and motivating, and terrifying, all at once.  You are eternity in motion and nothing—not even your over inflated ego—can stop it from moving forward.

You fall through the maelstrom of unlimited ideas and then—without warning—you catch a glimpse of the original thought—the butterfly—that has tempted you into chaos.  It is gone again—in a heartbeat—from your view askew, and yet purpose has returned to your vision for good.  Now—with every turn and twist of your soul—you try to see all other things as they relate to that one of which you are most intent.  Grass, and moss, and rocks cling to the sweating mass of your psyche as you fall; but only long enough for you to decide whether or not they belong within this story.

The tumble resolves itself into a roll as the pieces of the picture coagulate into something that loosely resembles confidence.  Every new fragment that sticks lends credence to the tale that must be told.

And determination wells up inside of you like the first breath of |God…

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hornet

I was power washing the house last week when I came upon a nest. It didn't look like there was anything in it, but I decided to spray it anyway. When I did, this huge hornet came scrambling out of the bottom, franticly crawled around the nest twice, and died exactly the way it is in these photographs.






Thursday, April 7, 2016