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F-Bomb Me …

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People are funny, aren’t they?

Of course I don’t mean YOU … I mean the “other” people … the ones who aren’t us!

Dr. Seuss knew that and made an incredible living making up strange and unusual and funny characters that kids and adults love to laugh at.

Bartholomew Cubbins, Lorax, Sam-I-Am, Cat in the Hat, the Grinch…

Sometimes when I’m around others, I imagine what Dr. Seuss would do and say to describe them… it’s way better than the old nerve-busting adage of pretending that you see people in their underwear.

Mind you, Dr. Seuss could see them in their underwear too and then just carry on from there.

Hey! I just realized that Dr. Seuss doesn’t even put underwear on any of his characters.

Dr Seuss characters

Dr. Seuss would have material for 5 new books if he popped into the gyms I go to.

Not kids’ books. Nope. Adults’ books. Very adult.

I visit the changerooms of 3 different local gyms each week. One is for spin class and boot camp class, another for weight training, one more for swimming. OK, four different gyms … one more for yoga class …

In the changeroom, I’ll encounter other guys preparing to hit the gym and sweat, or returning to shower away the buckets of sweat they’ve just earned.

It’s a manly sort of place with mixed uggg-mmmm scents of armpit BO and Axe body washes, and soggy socks, and Gillette shaving creams. Kind of like a high school gym class rehash.

Work-a-day clothes are shed and shoved into oblong grey metal lockers. Stretchy nylon and lycra and cotton are layered over the muscles and love handles and multi-toned tattoos. Some bodies are tanned, fully-muscled and toned. Other bodies are big and floppy and sallow.

This testosterone set – needing a dose of sweat and muscle-pumping energy – then heads to the weight room, or the CrossFit box, or the spin class.

An hour later, we all return, one by one, soppy, sweat-soaked, and groaning.

Sweaty dude

Then it begins.

Chatter. Conversation. Boy talk.

Often it’s simply a pair of us engaged in conversation as we peel away the salty-wet togs … routine discussions of weather and impending workouts … pleasant words exchanged in polite, amiable tones.

Then one-by-one, others enter the room … and … as the numbers increase the tone of the conversation quickly changes.

Testosterone and machismo levels rise measurably and the group becomes more pack-like, wolves gathering for a meat feast. There is a new dynamic at play.

It becomes more manly and blue-collar. Soon the room is more BLUE with words than it is blue collar.

Whether we’re discussing cars, or sports or work issues… the F-Bomb becomes a required interjection at a minimum of once per sentence.

Often more.

I start to see how the pack feeds off each other as normally calm, straight-laced guys morph into something else and it becomes apparent how gang-bang rape scenarios might unfortunately play out. The inhibitions and control sensors go haywire.

I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t participate. I watch and listen.

It’s almost like the Need More Cowbell sketch from SNL with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken… someone must be saying… “FellasI need more F- bombs”!!

more-cowbell

F-BOMBS are the main item on the conversation slate. Subject matter doesn’t matter. F-Bomb interjection is what is important now.

But. I’m not a good guy for F-Bombs. For me, the word FUCK is a little something that I pull out rarely and in a more romantic, teasing sense than what I’m hearing here in the changeroom. But that’s just me.

F-Bombs sound forced and girly coming from my mouth.

They don’t just roll off my tongue as if I were saying “Hi, how are You?” like they do with these guys. They sound more like, “So, I was having my nails done the other day…”. Yup, girly.

If I said them in this setting, I’m pretty sure the other dudes would pull their towels tightly around their naughty bits and turn around as if Mrs. O’Grady, the stern, ancient French teacher just walked in on them.

F-Bombs are laced with power. Power.

F-Bombs have their place. Place… and time.

And I think the fellas in the changeroom are losing out on something by overusing their weapon.

They might be well advised to holster their F-bomb usage and keep it in their arsenal for full impact. These are weapons that should be used carefully and smartly.

Carpet F-bombing loses its strength and meaning when the listener turns off their hearing and goes underground until the heat is off.

Used judiciously, F-bombs make people snap to attention and know that something important is happening. Something needs to be listened to. Something critical is about to happen.

Years ago, when my Mom – who never ever swore –  said, “Hell’s Bells” after hearing that my sister’s finance had been married previously, you could have heard a pin drop 100 metres away. The world just caught its breath and went silent. Her outburst was that powerful.

So, I’m holding onto my stockpile of F-Bombs. As I pull on my underwear and socks I’ll keep listening in the changeroom.

I’ll still smile at the boys when the words turn blue. But I’m not going to join in.

I know that Dr. Seuss wouldn’t approve of such language. Or would he………

Seuss F-Bombs

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Achievement and The 7 foot Tall Dude

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Little Compton Fair_01

I arrived at the start line of a 10k running race the other day and there was this dude in hot orange fluorescent neon shoes. He was 7 feet tall if he was an inch.

We were all gathered there at the start line – about 200 eager runners hopping nervously in the early morning chill, a bit of dew still clinging to the grass blades under our feet, all revved up and ready to go, waiting for the crack of the starter pistol or siren.

Then this oddity-of-height dude begins jumping up and down, probably to keep warm, but it looks like he’s on a trampoline or something because he floats way above the heads of the crowd.

You know just looking at him that as long as he can stay upright on those fleshy stilts sticking out beneath his shorts that he’ll cross the finish line in about 10 lopes of his supernaturally long legs, miles ahead of anyone else.

And sure enough, he did.

I used to enter running races with this imaginary vision of myself crossing the finish line, arms raised in glorious triumph … crowds of well-wishers cheering the winner … yup … ME.

Of course this is a totally imagination-based scenario because I’ve broken the tape of a race at the head of the pack … not once … nope … not even remotely close … not even when I was in my prime 20’s and ’30’s.

And I never will, but that’s OK, because I live my days like a scattergun.

Scattergun smoke

I call it my “ADHD” which probably offends those with true medically-diagnosed cases of the disorder. But, for me, it loosely describes my everyday approach to life.

My ADHD is what allows me to enjoy and feel passion for all of the things I love to do. It’s unrestrictive… it’s like the passing wind, rustling freely through a wheat field with lots of wide open space to reach towards the horizon miles off in the distance.

I like to achieve.

But my life isn’t based only on success in one area that I practice … I pursue a lot of interests each day in a lot of different regions … sports and physical activity, investing, reading, building, writing, cooking, gardening. And that’s where I find my comfort zone… my zen.

Maybe it’s a neurosis or a psychosis or a vicious brain tumour that makes it happen, I don’t know.

I’m driven, maybe even haunted, by reaching for the carrot that taunts and teases me in front of my nose.

If I can’t make my nose bleed with excitement each day with a feeling of “I made this”, or “great forward momentum“, I end my day feeling blah and uninspired, maybe the way you feel when you can’t summon your daily bowel movement routine.

Achievement is my mental “Ex-Lax“. I produce, I achieve, I feel light and unburdened.

mental_exlax

Not every day produces something – a blog post, a new song, a gate on the chicken coop run, a chicken parmigiana to die for – I’m proud of … many times I do get achievement “constipation”.

But I know enough that if I plug away day in and day out, leaving worrisome thoughts behind … a day arrives where the stars align and something otherworldly materializes and this is enough to keep me motivated to get up the following day and keep trying.

Maybe this is one of the reasons aging gives us confidence and understanding. We learn about our capabilities and believe in ourselves – we finally believe in our own powers that once locked us in doubter’s prison in our earlier years.

I know what I need is there inside, I just need to be patient, get in behind and push a little, and allow it to surface.

A smile will come to me as I realize that once again I’ve produced something. I’ve achieved, therefore I am …

In 1880, Leo Tolstoy, after he wrote “War and Peace“, published a book that took him 30 years to write called “The Kingdom of God is Within You“.

This book focused not on a supernatural heaven that waits us later but on the choices we can make today that can make us happy and inspired. My “ADHD” is a choice that I’ve embraced and makes me feel happy and inspired.

In the end, I feel like I’m 7 feet tall at the start of the race and I know I’m a winner.

When I’m acting in a creative, productive way, even if I don’t cross the finish line first, or have a million blog followers, or make 25% annual investing returns like Warren Buffett, I’m enjoying the process and getting my little thrills in the little things that I can make happen.

And that’s all I ask, thank you very much …

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Childhood Pyromania and Idea Sex …

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fire fist

Why I’m not locked away in solitary confinement is beyond my understanding.

As a youngster, I loved fire.

Kumbaya Campfires, fireplace fires, smoky autumn piles of leaves and prunings, fireworks’ and firecrackers’ fires … sizzle fizzle… BANG!

Nothing made my pulse quicken more than to strike a match and set something … just about anything … aflame.

And if I didn’t have a match… well… a good little magnifying glass could substitute as an igniter. It was gloriously satisfying to see a little whisp of smoke rising from a scrap of paper where the magnifying glass had concentrated the mid-summer morning sun’s rays.

I cringed inside when a couple of friends thought it was cool to sizzle a live ant on the ground with the magnifying glass. The ant would try to run away from the pinpoint concentrated heat, but eventually it would succumb and an ugly, acidic smelling smoke arose from its flesh. The kindness of Buddhism hadn’t filtered into our little lives yet.

Those are the guys who are probably in solitary confinement these days.

On summer mornings, I could sit on the floor of my family garage – after Dad had driven our pale green Ford Meteor off to work – and make fire magic for a couple of hours easily.

The alcohol-based Aqua Velva cologne sent by my Aunt Lilian the previous Christmas was wonderful stuff for fueling flames … plus it smelled great at the same time. I think she sent it to me, her young nephew, to make me feel grown up. She would have had a cardiac arrest knowing the use I put it to.

Aqua velva

I’d pour a few fragrant drops of the blue-tinted cologne into a small jar lid sitting on the garage’s cement floor. Then I’d see how close a lit match needed to be before there was a small “woof” as the flame ignited a hot, almost transparent, blue-green flame that danced in the air over the jar lid.

It burned away for 5 or 10 seconds and I would hold small twigs or twisted wads of paper over it to see if they too would ignite. Those little round red rolls of “caps” for kid’s cap pistols were perfect to hold over the flame and listen to their sulphury loud “crack”.

It was fascinating, and now, looking back, maybe a tiny bit creepy at the same time.

That was then. My childhood pyromania has thankfully subsided.

I still enjoy the primal sense of a dancing flame in the firebox of my woodstove, but I save the cologne for splashing on my weathering grown-up face.

Now, as an adult, I’ve left that burning desire for real fire largely behind – the flames I long to see and feel now are those of creative spark.

Whether I’m crafting words in this blog post, or in creating music, I feel the same searing rushing blood in my temples that I experienced as a child pyro.

The heat produced now is a physics phenomenon of action-reaction.

creative spark

Occasionally, I write something as if someone else has occupied my body and is making up the words that flow from me – a magical mystery.

Or sometimes a melody materializes out of some ethereal spot that I’ve never been to or seen.

I know it’s all related to my active sub-conscious making connections and melding ideas – yup, IDEA SEX – in the brain’s underworld that is largely unknown and mysterious to us all.

But like Virginia’s Santa Claus (from New York’s Sun 1897 editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church ):

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. 

Idea sex exists and it works like Santa’s little unseen elves, creating and cutting and pasting until a new combination of artistic phenomenon arises to the surface and erupts.

The physics action/reaction I spoke of above is to think of a problem, a challenge or an idea that has me scratching my head seeking an answer or a coherent, interesting thought. Another analogy that might make sense to you is when you try to think of someone’s name whom you you’ve just bumped into after 10 years … it won’t come.

I set the challenge quest on a little floating boat, anchored in a safe harbour.

Then with a light shove off from its moorings, I set the craft adrift to go out on the ocean wherever it wishes.

I turn my head and walk away and let the challenge reside in the background, relaxing and trusting that my sub-conscious has sprung into action, searching and bobbing through my lifetime’s file of memories and experiences.

The magic sometimes takes 5 minutes … sometimes 5 hours … but usually an overnight passage is enough to bring the boat back to port and deliver the goods.

Toy Boat 3

It’s as amazing as it is mysterious and wonderful.

It’s comforting somehow to know that my enthusiastic desire for flames still exists after all these years, even in an altered form.

The metaphorical hot flames I create today are far less likely to send me into a locked cage than the real fiery ones of my youth.

And … in fact, the idea sex potential that lies inside us all produces a heat that can make us feel more powerful than we’ve ever felt …

…………………..

Before he goes into the water, a diver cannot know what he will bring back.” 
― Max Ernst

This Cool Word Will Improve Your Life …

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Caesura

I learned a new word this week and I love it already.

Yup, CAESURA.

See those two little slashes in the musical graphic above?

THAT is a Caesura and it means creating a momentary pause. It comes in different forms beyond music notation that have meaning in our lives.

A rioting cacophonous sound of bird calls draws me outdoors in early spring. A dark blue-toned Stellar Jay sits in the Ponderosa Pine madly squawking at me; a group of Mountain Chickadees are zooming this way and that around the yard pretending they’re Spitfire fighter planes.

Blossoms are erupting in bountiful numbers and the early morning air is scented and sweet … perhaps the daffodils, tulips, daphne and flowering almond have teamed together to make a rich perfumed blend to share with us early risers.

A few shiny sparkles of sharp-angled sunlight glint off dewy grass blades as I walk across the front lawn area.

When I wander aimlessly through my garden as I am wont to do on spring and summer early mornings, I love the concept of exercising Caesura – creating a momentary pause – as part of my spiritual side.

I take into my lungs a deep breath of clear morning air as if I were in a yoga class with instructor Marsha and absorb all that my senses can digest. Calm elation settles over me.

Some might say, “Carpe Diem” or “Seize the Day”. And I might respond, “Carpe Caesura” … “Seize the Pause”.

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Caesura plays a role in other areas of my life too.

In music, both in my teenage high-school band years and now when I play guitar and sing my own music I love the caesura … the pause … a moment in a tune when all stands still for a moment and we savour the silence and the power of the musical notes that have brought us to that point.

Years ago, John Denver sang a song (appropriately called Annie’s Song) about his then-wife Annie where he reaches a crescendo near the end:

You fill up my senses, like a night in the forest,
like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain,
like a storm in the desert, (….. caesura for a few seconds) … like a sleepy blue ocean.
You fill up my senses, come fill me again.

The caesura gives us just a second or two to feel the depth of his passion for her, making a delicious human moment of love stand still in time.

conductor pause

In my day-to-day interactions I’ve learned that the CAESURA is probably the most difficult, but most important part of interaction we have with those around us.

INTER-ACTION… the word tells me I must take action.

But, after all these years I know that my actions can have profound effects on not just me, but the other too.

If I take action too soon, too impulsively, and respond without taking a moment or day or week of caesura, I may, and often do, say something that doesn’t truly reflect my inner beliefs.

It’s a reflex, a gut reaction.

We’ve all had that sinking feeling of wishing we had said or done something differently if we hadn’t only responded so impulsively.

I don’t want my inter-actions coming from my gut alone, although times arise when our instinctive reaction is the one we end up choosing anyway.

I need time and thought and reflection to know what I really feel and think. I imagine this is why I enjoy writing blog posts; I can stand over my thoughts and view them from different angles before settling on the most appropriate.

In a 21st century world where the pace of living is faster than it has ever been, I want to live a life filled with the joys of caesura – creating a momentary pause … my morning garden walks, my musical pursuits, my personal interactions.

I like this new-to-me word Caesura, and I like what it means.

Caesura might take me a moment longer – which, for an impatient guy like me is challenging – but the pleasures, the rewards – are worth the wait.

morning garden walk