Friday Thoughts: The Journey

It is once more that time of year. The part of the year where social media feeds are filled with one of three things: engagement announcements, baby announcements, university enrollment announcements.

And of course, each post has likes, hearts, and comments posting love and best wishes. We join in and comment.

Some of us see the news with a great smile. Others may see these announcements as painful reminders. We’re not where we want to be or with who we want to be.

But that’s okay.

We just need a little patience. In May 2016 I graduated from college. I had hopes that I would have a job after a month. Half a year later and I may have my one love in my life. A year after that I would be making a sizable dent in my school debt. That was my hope.

A year later I was still jobless, no love interest, and had not even started on paying back my loans.

It was only in April that I finally landed a job. Life is still not going the way I would like it to go but that is okay. But I remember something a Baby Boomer told me: Everyone has to pay their dues.

What does that mean?

It means each and everyone else has to go through a trial. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we applied for, we have paths we must travel. Whether we are the reporter stuck with boring stories or the medical student going through residency. The art student working as a graphic designer or the writer being denied. We must bear our burden and walk this path.

Tolkien did not sit down one day and write a generation-spanning novel. Einstien did not solve the mysteries of the math world overnight. We may see it as an instant success but it is not.

True greatness comes not from glory but from hard work.

As much as I wish that I could just skip the pain and reach the perfect happy place, this trial of fire can be beneficial.

We gain a better appreciation for our job, empathy for what others are going through, and perspective on our own circumstances.

And as tempting as it is to take a short cut it is not worth it. You will always be found out. No matter how long it takes, the truth will come out. The longer it takes to find out, the greater the fall will be.

So be patient. Be diligent. Learn what you can at each stage.

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 8

The teens turn towards Mike. He takes a step backward and leans against the wall. Anthony turns towards him with his hand balled into a fist.

“What were you doing?”

“This was such a major backfire of a plan.” He groans.

“What gave you the idea to draw it?”

Mike shrugs, “Just found it in an old book.”

“What old book?”

“I don’t know. My great grandfather or someone had it. My whole family keeps them.”

“What do you mean you drew this? Today?”

“Yes.” His eyes widen, “Do you think that it has something to do with what is going on?”

“Yes.” Anthony lets out a deep sigh, “This symbol is an arcane symbol. One that causes inanimate objects to rise again.”

“Only one way to find out.” Anthony begins thumbing through another book.

“What are you doing?”

“Reading. We need to find out exactly what is going on. These journals date back for decades about what is happening to this house. It is time to find it. Maybe they’ll have something that will help us undo whatever is going on.”

“Do you really think so?”

“Only one way to find out.”

“Wait.” Jacob stops the teens from going to the desk, “Are we not going to talk about the fact that the house just kicked us out here?”

“What is there to talk about?” Mike replies, “Not exactly something we are familiar with. I mean, when was the last time a house just came apart and kicked you out?”

The teens turn towards Anthony.

“What?”

“You said you had… dealt with this kind of thing before.”

“No.” He says slowly. The other boys stare at him, “Alright. All I know is the house got weird. Then just before done there were screaming. Afterward, they found the kids dead.”

The last word hits them as if someone punched them.

“Dead?” Val murmurs, “You didn’t say that they died.”

“Not something that I am fond of remembering.”

“Fine.” The boys begin to dig through the books.

A scream fills the air. The teens look towards the house. Mike tries to open the door but it refuses to open. The others drop their books.

“We need to find a way out. Now.” Val growls as he looks for a weapon.

The shack shakes and the walls begin to close in. The teens backpedal from the walls. The walls stop closing just before the desk.

“On second thought,” Jacob mutters, “let’s take a closer look at these books.”

“What? We’re just going to stay here?” Mike says as he kicks the walls.

“What do you suggest we do!?” Val snaps back, “The freakin house just moved us around. We can’t get out. We are being forced to do this.”

“Fine.” He marches over to the desk and grabs a book, “Let’s look here. Oh. I watched a house. It did weird stuff. Don’t know why. Oh, look another book. Another house. More weird stuff. Someone died. Someone was changed. More of the same. The house. Weird stuff. No one knows what is going on.” He throws the book on the desk, “None of this is going to help us! Now there are two girls who need saving!”

He kicks and pushes against the wall but it refuses to budge.

“Uh. Anthony. What are you doing?”

Mike notices that the shorter teen is flipping through book after book. He thumbs through the pages but doesn’t seem to stop.”

“What are you doing?” Val asks.

“Mike said another house.”

“What?”

“Where is the book you were reading when you said that?”

“I don’t know. One of the green ones.”

He switches through the journals. He stabs down with his finger suddenly.

“That’s it!”

“What’s it?”

“This isn’t the only house.”

“What?”

“The house. I always assume it was just this house that was being supernatural. It isn’t. See! This house is in Maine.” He switches to a different book, “This house is in Kentucky.”

“Okay. so different houses are acting strangely.”

“Right.”

“What does that prove?”

Anthony deflates slightly, “I don’t know. Maybe part of the bigger puzzle?”

“WHAT PUZZLE?”

“I DON’T KNOW!”

“Easy.” Val says as he steps between them, “Okay. So years back the house, this house, was acting weird. Police couldn’t get in and kids died. Right?”

“Right.”

Mike looks at Anthony, “So you said that this symbol was painted at the house?” He turns towards Mike, “And you said that you painted it today?”

“Right. Your point?”

“Oh!” Jacob says, “I see! You’re saying since the house hasn’t acted up since then. Now. Tonight, the house has come to life. And this symbol might be part of the reason?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Mike looks at the pile of journals, “That means we need to see if the symbol shows up anywhere else. Especially in houses that are acting up.”

“Let’s get to it.”

The boys divide up the journals and thumb through the books. The minutes pass slowly. Jacob sets his book down.

“What are we doing? The girls could be in trouble right now. We need to go get them.”

“Maybe.” Anthony looks up, “But I’m pretty sure the house wants us to look in these journals.”

“Right. Fine. So we need to find it.”

“Yes but what if the symbol isn’t what… The house wants us to find.”

“Then it won’t release us.”

“Great.”

“The quicker we find the information the quicker we find out if this is what the house wants and the quicker we can get out. And to help the girls.”

“Fine.”

X

Dani slides to a stop. She grabs her arm and feels a wet stickiness to it. She glances down and winces at the three deep gashes in her flesh. Looking around, she doesn’t see anything or anyone. There is only an empty hall.

After a few tense moments, she slowly stands up.

Nothing seems out of place. Nothing attacks her. She glances back at the room but the door has closed behind her.

Carefully, she picks her way through the house. It creaks and groans. Every few moments the house trembles. But nothing attacks her. She comes to the stairs. She hesitates, remembering what happened before.

A sharp whistle fills the air.

She spins around and faces behind her. The hallway seems to twist and turn. Orange light seems to flicker. It slowly moves through the air. It stretches and shifts as they move through the air. The very air seems to become to grow cold. Her skin shivers and bumps appear along the length of her skin.

Without warning, the orange light leaps across the distance.

The girl turns and races down the stairs. Her heart beats fast and a screeching sound fills the air behind her. The sound lends her speed and she flies down the stairs. She hits the ground with a jolt. Pain races up her knees and hit her knees. To her surprise, the air feels warmer.

The teen looks up and she sees that the wall has bent and blocked off the stairs. Horribly screeching fills the air but it is muffled.

Slightly confused, she retreats from the newly made wall.

She turns to go right but the door slams shut. The floor shifts and moves her down the hall. The girl braces herself and wonders where she is going. The floor comes to an abrupt stop back in the kitchen. The cabinets have been ripped apart and the food she and her sister had brought is strewn everywhere. Deep claw marks have been carved into the old wood.

Dani shivers at the wanton destruction.

The wall bends and opens. Chloe stumbles out of the opening and falls to her knees. Dani drops to her knees next to her sister. She is cold and shaking.

“Dani?”

“I’m here. I’m here. What happened?”

“I… I was downstairs. In the basement.” Chloe looks up, “She… There were bodies downstairs. Animal parts. Bones. I don’t know… And something else.”

“Orange light?”

“You’ve seen it as well?”

Dani nods her head slowly, “It was chasing me.”

“Same here.” Chloe lifts her arm. A bloody gash adorns her arm now. Dani rips off part of her shirt and wraps it around her arm.

“I see it has been here as well.”

Dani glances at the kitchen.

“Are you hurt?”

“No.”

“What did you see?”

“I. I found paintings.” Dani struggles to speak, “Paintings of a shadow creature stalking the halls. Attacking or just watching. It was creepy. Some of the writings… he was scared.”

Chloe takes a ragged breath and stands up.

“So we have a house that is alive, bodies in the basement, and some energy creature and or a shadow is now wanting to kill us. Whose idea was it to go to this little party?”

“Yours.”

“Thanks, sis. Thanks. Can we get out of here?”

“I don’t know.” Dani looks around at the room. “I was kinda pushed this way.”

“Pushed?”

“The floor moved.”

“Same here but I was lifted out of the basement when I found the bodies.”

“Okay. So I am not going crazy. This house wants us to do something.”

“But what?”

A howling sound fills the air. The kitchen door shakes and rattles as something hammers to get in. The girls find themselves against the kitchen door without really knowing how they got there. Dani tries the doorknob but it refuses to open.

To Be Continued…

Friday Thoughts: Focus

While on my morning commute I walked past a Jeep with a license plate brace that said “Keep On Target”. My first thought was of Star Wars and the attack on the first Death Star. It made me smile as the movie started playing out in my head. However, my second thought was “you drive where you are looking at”.

Now this thought gave me a pause.

My mother and father have both told me this when I first began to drive. My driver’s ed teacher and instructor both told me the same thing. Wherever you look on the road, that is where you are going to drive.

This same logic can be applied to life. If you look towards success, that is where you are going to drive towards. The same with interests. If you like sports and you look at sports, that is where go to. Poetry, art, engineering, or chemistry. If you focus your attention there, your mind and body will head towards that direction.

By the same token, you can drive yourself towards some bad things. Hatred. Lust. Envy. Self-pity. If you keep “looking” at those kinds of things, that is where you will end up.

Recently I have been thinking about all the mistakes I have made and people I let down over my life. Of promises broken and disappointing choices. Of people I hurt. But where is my focus? In the past. And the only thing that happens when you drive towards the past is looping in a circle. You cannot go forward when you are driving in a circle.

Letting go of the past is not easy. Some of my memories still carry weight and power. The sting of regret or that pang of hurt is still fresh. I am slowly learning to let them go. To remember the lesson but not letting that moment hold me. In some cases you may have to forgive someone. Not necessarily telling them but letting go of that hurt. In some cases you may have to ask for forgiveness. No matter how awkward or painful that admission will be.

And in some cases, you will have to forgive yourself.

Driving forward is not forgetting your past. It is not avoiding the consequences of your past. It is not letting yourself stay in the past.

Friday Thoughts: Heroes

In recent years, Marvel has produced movies and series of humans and beings with great powers and abilities. DC has done its best to keep up. Some were born. Others were given a choice. And some were forced.

It is interesting to think that Marvel and DC are merely the latest in the long line of hero worship. From the ancients and their demigods and humans blessed with powers. Great epics are based around individuals who are cursed with abilities or granted them. But why do we have such an interest in the heroes? And why do some of us have an interest in the villains?

And I wondered, why humans have such an obsession with heroes?

Than I heard the song Something Just Like This. If you haven’t heard the song, it is basically a man saying that he doesn’t feel like a hero. His girlfriend turns to him and basically says that she isn’t looking for a superhero.

Now granted a love song does not explain the whole hero-love we have.

But it does touch on a hidden desire. We all want to be the hero. That person who doesn’t need anyone else. That rushes in with powers. That person who is more than average. Special.

I know I have at times wanted to be the hero.

Two things though that proves to me that we don’t need powers to be the hero.

One

First. By being alive, you are impacting people’s lives. Regardless whether you want to impact others or not. You will influence them. Your actions and choices influence the path of the person next to you. Not just at the dinner table or at work. But on the train. In the grocery store. At the next gas pump. Most of the time our presence will have a very little impact. The results of just being strangers. However, your reaction to someone. The way you talk to the other person. Or a kind act versus a cruel act. Each person you meet might be on the brink of breaking. Of falling apart. But your choice can give them a little more hope. A little kindness to bring them hope.

Two

We can’t move through life by yourself. No one can. We need at least one other person to help us get through the rough spots. For my closest friends and I, we share our burdens. Some days I help them. Other days they help me. Heroes are also who give of themselves. A few years ago, a bomb was detonated at the end of the Boston Marathon. As the chaos ensued and the injured began crying out, what did the participants do? Did they run? Did they say, “No. I don’t have the energy”? Some probably did. But others did not. They stayed and helped. Other heroes are people who choose to put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. The police. The firemen. The father defending his family. The mother working long hours to put her children through college.

So I will leave you with this:

Heroism comes not from one’s abilities but by their choices.

Why

Why?
Why is the question we often ask
Why?
Why is the sky blue
Why does the world turn
Why does the stars shine
And why does the grass grow
These things we ask
As children seeing the world

Why?
Why is the question we often ask
Why?
Why do we seek to impress others
Why do we compare ourselves
Why do we want another’s talent
And why do we fall in love
these things we ask
As adults going forward in this world

Why?
Why is the question we ask
In the dark of night
Or at the end of the day
Why move forward
Why try again
Why why why
Is it the life we live
Or is it the life we want
Why should we live ourselves
Why should we live for others

Why?

Friday Thoughts: Things I’ve Noticed

Like many of you, I enjoy going to see a movie in the theater. Or binge watch a show on a weekend, or weeknight. But I have noticed something that disturbs me greatly. From trailers showing a man acting as a terrorist is the hero. Or how rebellion is herald as good while authority is both mocked and taught to be distrusted and disrespected.

Sexual acts, be it shown or hinted at, has become a mainstay. That any relationship must either include sex or they are objectified in some manner. Either as a scantily clad individual or a mountain of muscle. That to be in love means you must share your body and your bed. I have not seen a movie where there was not some innuendo about sex. In addition, the fact that people can hop from one relationship to another, from one bed to another, and not have some sort consequence shown disturbs me. What of the emotional harm from having such intimate relationships for a shallow a reason as sex? Or the number of STDs that come from those relationships? What happened to stories where people had to get to know each other before such intimacy? Where did the depth of relationship go in today’s world?

Likewise, humor has changed since the days of the Thin Man or I Love Lucy. Where Bob Hope and his generation used wit and cleverness to bring humor, this generation seems to rely on innuendo and crude humor to bring laughter. The jokes of today also make light of such subjects as porn or adoption. Today’s humor also shows fathers and authority as jokes. Either as fools or things to rebel against. In other things, people themselves laugh at strange things. For example, in the recent movie Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Yondu kills a ship’s worth of people. Not defending himself or killing those who stand between him and freedom. No, he killed them because he wanted to. Because he could. And the people laughed at how he danced and smiled.

This brings me to my final point: blood.

Today’s shows and movies are violent things. Some more. Some less. Some for good reasons. Others, not so much. There are war movies where the battles of war need to be shown as gruesome. Other times though, it is sheer entertainment. Games and movies make light of these bloody battles. They walk among the bodies without comment. Or neglect to note the sheer loss of life. The series Transformers is a great example. Entire cities are laid to waste in the battles but no one mentions it. Even more disturbing is how today’s shows treat the “killers”.
Tweens Harry Potter, X-23, and Eleven all kill without much regret. Harry kills a teacher by touching him. X-23 kills quite a few, including decapping one fellow. And Eleven snaps the neck of several with her mind.

Granted each had a reason why they are murders but very little shown about how they kill others. Whether they show regret or remorse. Or even if they understand. Harry goes on with his education and his teachers are “yep, he killed a colleague his first year”.