Friday Thoughts: Simple Things

It’s the simple things that matter.

That is what many people say with smiling faces and perfect lives. And a lot of times I glare at them and say, “That’s easy for you to say. You have everything.”

But it is true.

Lately, on my commute home traffic has been snarled. A side road often gets me around the bottleneck. But I don’t take it to avoid traffic or because it is faster. I take it because it is one of the most beautiful scenic routes I have found. It is a winding dirt road with old trees lining either side. Their branches reach up and over, forming a tunnel of branches. Breaks in the trees allow light to pass through, providing a warm setting. With the right amount of cars kicking up dust, it becomes fog-like.

It is a beautiful drive and I love it.

And it is little more than a detour on a narrow farm road.

But it is a simple thing that makes me happy. In this world of negatives and depressing news, finding small things that makes one happy is rare indeed.

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Friday Thoughts: Time

What a strange little thing. At the most basic level it is a term that represents the units used in measuring the passage of time. Whether it is seconds or centuries, it is measuring the passing of moments. Concrete concepts based on how the earth moves around the sun. But then you get into different, abstract ideas. Eons. Ages. Moments. All of them are familiar to us yet at the same time our concepts of them are slightly different.

But in a more practical sense, time is the march of days.

When I was younger, time seemed to last forever. Summer never ended and I would never grow up.

Now I am older, time seems to move in spurts. Some moments fly past, days ending almost as quickly as it began. Other days it crawls along like a dying slug. Maybe it is the side effect of being older now. Or I am just more aware of time.

Of course there are people who say “manage your time better and you’ll have more of it”. Which is true. Yet I find myself having to choose between things. To read or to watch television. Play a game or begin learning a new language. Spend time with family versus spending time to write.

Is this what life really about?

Choosing what to invest your time in? Exercise? Sleep? Relationships? Time is a commodity that everyone has and everyone has an equal amount. How we spend it helps determine where we end up in life. There are things that we can’t control in life: our starting point in society or the actions others take against us. But we can control how we react. Sometimes that means spending more time in tutoring or starting working early to get an edge in education. For others it means spending time in the hospital to deal with an illness. Or spending time after college at home to save on money. Life isn’t fair, no one starts at the same point, and things change.

But we can invest the time we are given however we want.

Friday Thoughts: What to Believe?

Christian? Atheist? Buddhist? Cat-lover? Llama hater?

What do you believe?

The world is beautiful? The end is coming? Elvis is still alive?

This question has been asked over the ages for different reasons and different intents. What god do you serve? What religion do you follow? Which king do you support? Who do you fight for, the peasants or the nobles?

But in more recent times the questions have been more “Do you believe there is police brutality?” or “Do you think the flag represents oppression?”

What if you don’t know what to believe?

If you don’t there is a wide range of “experts” on the web that will tell you the truth. And if you disagree then you become a bigot, moron, or “you’re what’s wrong with the world”. And in some cases, you can be called all three at once.

So.

What do you believe?

What do you believe?

There is a lot going on that I don’t fully grasp or have time to devote to the research it would require in order to find the answer. Because at this point, there is too many opinions and graphs being promoted that conflict with one another. All of which serves to stir up emotions without offering a solution. For me, thinking emotionally is fine and all but I often find myself easily manipulated when I think emotionally.

Because it sounds good.

Because it feels right.

Because that’s what everyone believes and if I don’t then I am a bigot or racist or blinde or an idiot or whatever the catchphrase is this week.

But that is the problem. It is based on feelings. Emotions that can change by the hour or even by the minute. Getting lead by the heart and the heart alone can get you into serious trouble. That is how people fall for the wrong person or stay in dangerous relationships. Because they are only listening to their emotions.

Logic, as hard and cold as it can be, serve as a balance to the knee-jerk as heartstrings are pulled by the news and opinions.

Of course, going completely ice-cold logic is an easy way to become ruthless and harmful to your fellow member of mankind. That is how you get people who worry only about the bottom dollar or the final product.

A prime example when logic and emotions are out of synch is the Japanese Internment of World War II.

Innocent men, women, and children were collected and shuttled off to the middle of no-where after Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States, causing our entry into World War II.

Why? Because the government feared a fifth column rising. For those who do not know, fifth columns refers to local population rising up and aiding a foreign power. A real possibility since Germany almost successfully raised a fifth column of their own. Was the jailing of citizens right? No. Was it a logical response to a real possibility? Yes. How was it able to pass? People were afraid and angry.

Revolutionists are also great examples of getting people to think emotionally. By getting the masses to react out of anger or fear you can get the Bolsheviks into power and establish the Soviet Union. Or the French Revolution where the streets ran with blood and heads. Why? Because of a few anger people were able to tell the population what to be anger and hurt about. To get them to stop thinking.

On the other hand, emotions can be great motivators. Hundreds of citizens got into their private boats and sailed to the French coast to pick up the surviving soldiers at Dunkirk. No one asked them. They weren’t equipped. They just went because it was the right thing to do. the English air power did what they could to protect them and they focused on getting troops out.

Much more recently, the Cajun Navy and regular Texans headed south to where Harvey had laid waste. No one said “I order you to do this” or demanded people hand over their time and resources. Nope, they just loaded their boats with supplies, plotted a course, and went. They did not show up as an extra pair of hands. They came prepared. Emotion rose up at the plight of the victims. Logic guided preparation and execution.

At the end, you have to rely on what you have seen and test what you are told. Check the sources, do a little research, and force that individual to prove to you that they are telling the truth.

Gray World

low clouds, fog hiding tops of skyscrapers

The wind howls down empty avenues
And rattles against empty windows
No sun to see
No blue sky to hold
Just the empty streets
Beneath the gray sky
The creak of metal
Of long abandoned cars
And the whistle of wind
Through broken glass

A light flickers on
A woman laughs while her dog barks
Children hurry to buses
And adults chug their coffee
Little by little, cars roar to life
And bikes click down the street
Voices fill the street
And people hurry to and fro

The heat of the cars and people
Burn back the heavy clouds
Drowning out the mournful wind
With laughter and talk
The gray clouds linger
But no longer the focus
As the people talk to one another
Sharing hopes, dreams, and life together

Friday Thoughts: Changing World

In the wake of the largest shooting that has occurred on American soil, I think about how much this world has changed in my lifetime alone.

I was born in the ’90’s. The world wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either.

Then 9-11 happened.

The entire world looked in awe and America knew fear. And rage. Did shootings occur? Yes. But those were individuals hunting specific people. School shootings were rare. But things have gotten dangerous. Individuals just wanting to kill people have become almost the norm.

Christine Grimme.
The homosexual bar shooting.
Sadie School Shooting.
Las Vegas.
Churches.
Movie theatres.

Growing up as a kid I remember the biggest problem I had was trying to find that one Lego piece that I needed. My mind struggled to comprehend growing up with gunfire for nightly noise instead of crickets. To fear where I walk not because of snakes but because of bombs. To worry about rain. Not chemical attacks. To sleep knowing that no leader was idiotic enough to launch a nuke at anyone. But now realizing that certain North Korean and terrorist organizations would not only be willing but also happy to pull that trigger.

Not only that but today if you make a comment or state an opinion, you will be attacked. Before it was just verbal attacks. Now, it is physical. Even asking someone to stop smoking in a non-smoking zone might result in being beaten nearly to death (the man beaten while using the Dallas rail system).

The mass media show story after story after story of mankind committing evil to each other and to innocent children. Online, social justice warriors wage war for their cause. Claiming to be tolerant and loving but all the while ripping into others with wild abandon. Attacking with hate-filled words and acting as if the other is wrong.

This is the world that I now live in.

With everything that is going on, it is easy to think it is all for naught. To think that it would be better to retreat from the world and hide in books or the cyber world.

But there is a flicker of light.

As a Christian, I know the score and I know how it will end. I also see the good in people. The Texans and New Orleanians rallying together to deal with Harvey. The people sending help to Florida and Puerto Rico. Not because they were ordered but because they want to. To see the people gathering together to get the injured at Las Vegas to safety.

And it is the kindness in the small actions by the common people.

Maybe the world is burning. Maybe not. But although the world is not as friendly as I would like, neither is it as terrible as the mass media.

If you look for the good, you won’t have to look very hard.

The Train

Beneath harsh light
Standing on formed stone
I wait
Hood pulled up
Bag held tight
The night grows long
And day is near
Yet the sky is gray
And the world is dark

Beneath flickering light
Standing on cracked stone
I wait
Busses creak to a stop
Others rumble off
Still I wait
By the rusty metal tracks
Alone
Without a friend or lover

Beneath white lights
Standing by worn stone
I wait
The rumble comes first
Shaking the ground
A shriek in the air
Heralds its coming
It rounds the corner
Screeching to a stop

Beneath soft lights
Sitting on hard seats
I wait
The city of my birth
Slowly fades away
Pulling my memories with
Like a bad dream
With one last whistle
I am finally free

A Lazy Day

A lazy day today
No work to do
No task undone
Just the sun
And boating for fun
Maybe a photo or two
I ready to go
Yet the cry of child
Ruins it all
No game to watch
Or fish to catch
Just a child with homework
A mother stressed
And a white cat that’s now blue

The day passes by
The questions make no sense
Wife struggling
The cat can’t be found
And now the bath tub is cracked
Blue paw prints trail the house
And the ceiling is leaking
Now we find the homework is missing

Day is slipping by
The plumbings fixed
The homework is found
But the cat is still missing
And now the kid is blue
The wife is crying
And smoke alarm is wailing

Night is falling
The cat’s been found
But the kid is gone
The alarms are going
And dinner is burning
Anger is building
But then I remember the verse
To set the example

A deep breath
A quick prayer
And back at it
The paint can is found
And the cat is showered
With only twenty-three scratches
The smoke is gone
So is dinner

Eight o’clock
And the house is quiet
The child reads
And the cat preens
Dinner round two is done
And the leaking stopped
I didn’t catch any fish
But I did solve homework
And had a blue cat

I look to my wife
And give her a big grin
Is this what your week is?
She laughs and shakes her head
No, sometimes it is crazy