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A Short Distorted History of You and Me

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blood or beets

Fact or Faked? Urine or Grapefruit Juice? Blood or Beets?

A person’s history is a fuzzy mirror. Maybe it is us in the silvered glass, or maybe it’s someone else.

We think we’re looking into a clear window of understanding as though it’s a genuine window into our soul.

The trees are green-leafed and stately, the lake is crystalline blue and lazy wavy…

… or … maybe …

… is it a tall building with luminescent windows casting a reflection of the sky into our retinas?

Which is it? Fact or Fake?

When I look in the mirror, my face looks cracked, like when I walk on thin lake ice.

The creased and furrowed face of someone who’s lived through some history.

The Personal History Divide

Ask three friends about a shared event in their lives, and they all agree as they smile and recount … (hopefully) agree on the major points, but each tells a different storyline on the nuance and emotion and meaning.

It’s like a Rorschach test … every person comes away with a uniquely different story of the vision they observed so clearly, or so they believed.

rorschact test

What does your dirty mind see here??

We were visiting family last week in Vancouver, sitting in comfortable black leather chairs in the kitchen, sipping white vino, chatting about “old days”. 

The talk and interpretation of the shared experiences from years long gone was loosely the same but the fine points and the personal interpretation of the feelings resulting was starkly, shockingly divergent.

Were we really at the same occasion? How much is spun in webs unrecognizable to the other?

We all carry our own personal history baggage. The password is unique and unshared, unsharable.  

That’s history. History is a mix of fact and fake… ok, not fake, but personal interpretation.

It’s often crazy hard to distinguish fact from opinion and memory. 

So when I read or hear a story of an occurrence from 5,000 years ago, or 50 years ago, or 5 days ago, I find myself looking very carefully at the source and the biases (positive and negative) to the retelling. 

More often, I feel the urge, the need to double check facts from alternate sources just to be sure that I have a reasonably accurate portrayal of events. Of course, living in the Trump world has hugely added to my suspicion of “fact”.

Bottom line, my spidey-sense is not just an occasional visitor now as it once was, it’s become my full-time interpretation detector.  

We all know The Dash of Life – between our Birth and Death Date.

Unless we’re looking at a tombstone, we don’t usually notice or certainly not think about the little line between a person’s birth date and death date. … the gap, the in-between of those two dates that is life – the life of a single person.

Eventually, one day, the life of us.

The Dash of Life is all of our own personal history, all the little facts, all the delights, joys and sorrows, the cornucopia of history that walks the halls and corridors inside us for a desperately short lifetime of emotion and opinion and interpretation. 

Fact or Fake? Um… Yes …

Live your dash.jpg 

I SHOULD Write A Thousand Words Today…

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1,000 words

… but I won’t this time because I’m ultra-focussed.

Totally narcissistic. Self-indulgent. Hungry.

Each day I write out a To-Do List. You too?

And then I fail…

Each day I remind myself that focussing on 2 or 3 items is the life-blood to making real headway on the things that are extra important to me, my writing and music… the creative existence.

Each day I listen to a new song on YouTube or Apple Music, seeking a theme song of inspiration for the day… then silently ponder the beauty outside my window, urging calmness like a quiet meditation into my sense of focus. OOOoooooommmmmm…

Each day I begin with this short list of the critical, the important, the passion-filled.

And here’s where I fail. Again and again. No motivational gurus like Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy have come to my rescue.

Despite my best intentions I look down at my sheet of paper squished in the narrow space beneath my computer keyboard and the edge of my desk… and realize that my shortlist of 2 or 3 items has mystically and maniacally expanded to 8 … 10 … even 15 items.

Where is my focus?

Sigh.

I’m a refugee inside my own world… an outcast from the creativity urgings that seek updrafts of warm air.

I look around at people like Stephen King or Paul Simon or Carole King, JK Rowling or Brian Wilson or Joni Mitchell, and marvel at the focus and drive that brought them to a God-kissed magnificence. I drool and desire like a 13 year-old boy with unlimited access to porn!

I lust after their nucleus of theme and priority.

1,000

1,000

Numbers. My blog posts have talked a lot about the power of 10,000 hours in practice…. or even 1,000 hours in practice and preparation.

And each week I write down about 1,000 words in this blog that I’ve been playing with for more than 6 years now. 340 blog posts.

It’s been the chronicler of me – to me – that I share with you because I think we all contribute pieces of ourselves to a common existence and inner understanding. And when I write I magically discover pieces of me that I never knew existed.

I read others’ writing to add to my work of understanding life and history and my place in it.

I hope that sharing my words with you may occasionally give you a tiny nugget of insight into your own motivations and understanding of who you are. Maybe even an occasional smile. Maybe.

Priority

I’ve added some shiny new features to my world since I “retired” 4 years ago. Bartending, tutoring, soup kitchen, grandparenting are all part of the cutting edge in my days. Music has always been there too but – like my new grandson – is growing and expanding and filling me with enthusiasm and excitement that refuses to be contained.

So as part of my journey going forward, I’m looking to carve a small slice of additional time and focus that can be re-allocated to this continually new and hopefully improving me.

OK… I know I’m me.

I suspect the numbers of items on my daily To-Do List may still end up as long, but going forward, I’ll slide a small portion of the hours I spend each week writing these posts over and spend some more quality time on a revised list of priorities.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Maybe I SHOULD write a thousand words today. BUT, 500 will just have to do.

Instead, I hear a super sexy tune in my head that needs to be captured before it gets lost in a whiteout featherstorm of lost time.

featherstorm.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Muppets and No Country For Old Men

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statler and waldorf 2

Dear Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley:

We regret to inform you that The Muppets still have no openings to replace Statler and Waldorf in the balcony cheap seats. We would kindly recommend you return to your local Mayberry coffee shop and continue your enlightened pontifications of why women just don’t suck up to the good ole boys like they did in the ’50’s.

Sincerely, TROTTFCW (The Rest Of The Twenty-First Century World)

Did you know that the state of Vermont has never sent a woman to the U.S. House or Senate? … never ever in 242 years…

DANG! I really want to write light, fluffy pieces about music and books and movies and Halloween and all the great stuff that inhabits my world. I want to laugh and kibitz with you like we’re young children in the schoolyard of our dreams. Blue skies, shining on me… nothing but blue skies, do I see….

But the current affairs’ bus just keeps careening off the US Interstate Highway and I can’t look away.

I feel like a victim even though I play for the side of the victimizers. Yeah, I know that’s a bit like Melania saying SHE’S the MOST bullied person out there… BOO HOO!

melania bullied

What the hell am I talking about?

Baseball of life.

I have 3 strikes against me and there’s nothing I can do to change it (short of surgery and hormone therapy).

  1. I’m a Man.
  2. I’m White.
  3. I’m Old(er)!

AGAIN. BOO HOO!

I sort of belong to the same club as McConnell and Grassley and Trump and it scares the hell out of me. I have to fight back against my privilege.

You see, I watched some of the U.S. Senate hearings a month back where another white man – angry, juvenile’ish Brett Kavanaugh – sat in the hot seat and told me how much he and his buddy PJ enjoy(s)ed beer.

Add that to the sight of a murder of old, white codgers sneering angrily, contemptuously, at a woman who has a boatload more credibility than any of those interviewing her and…

It made me ill. I’m one of them…. and….

These relics aren’t learning and changing. They’ve dug themselves in and are hanging on by their richly manicured fingernails… and…

I felt a whole lot of disgust and animus.

I love the differences that delineate men from women, white from black, Christian from Muslim from Jew, old from young, gay from straight.

But different should never imply better or superior.

I’m a product of my culture and generation, as are you.

There is hardly anything in life that is not changing… rapidly.

Some changes we like, many others create fear and anxiety.

We all have to do our best to grow and change and wonder and debate those changes, morphing and putting ourselves in the shoes of the “other”. It’s called understanding.

Because I belong to that clique of “old, white men”, it is ever more important that I stay attuned and sensitive.

old white man.jpg

Almost daily, I have to assess and determine those areas of humankind that are basic and unchanging, and those that are elastic and variable.

I’m learning to change as the circumstances make sense.

Here are just a few of the things I recognize now and changes I’ve adapted to in my years.

  1. Sexuality and the nature of manhood/womanhood are less distinct than I ever realized or accepted. There is a flow in the world of sexual preference, gender fluidity and spectrum. Love is Love. Gay marriage, Interracial marriage, Sex outside of marriage. I accept various forms of sexuality and gender now that I could never have fathomed as a young boy and man.
  2. I can’t blindly use derogatory terms as I did in my youth. It’s embarrassing to think of the ignorant words I used to describe others: Nigger (we ate licorice nigger babies from the corner store); Jew (“too expensive, we’ll jew them down”); Newfie (Newfoundlander) jokes; Dumb Blonde jokes; Pollock (Polish) jokes; Paki (Pakistani/Indian) jokes; Wop (Italian) jokes… on and on it went without any thought of the hurt it might cause.
  3. Tattoos and piercings are not only for sailors and Hell’s Angels. Not a fan but I quietly accept.
  4. Circumcision isn’t a given. A penile toque is kinda cute (I hear!). Female circumcision is plain nutso.
  5. Women as leaders. The safety and security of our world would be stronger in the hands of women. Pollution measures would be more robust.
  6. Technology is the driving force behind everything we do. One small example? Elections have changed immensely with social media alone.
  7. Animals are deserving of life and kindness. I do not have dominion over all creatures.
  8. Bullying is just not acceptable. ‘nuff said.
  9. Mental health should be treated as seriously and openly as we treat physical health. Too many folks suffer needlessly because of our fears and stigmas.
  10. The things I do and consume, contribute to global warming and have a negative impact. The sad thing is as I age my methane production goes up, what’s a concerned boy to do?

The leaves on all the tall birch trees outside my house have turned yellow and most of the leaves have flittered like gossamer feathers to the earth. Yes, change is as perennial as the seasons.

The unearned privilege of being an old(er!) Canadian white guy weighs on me when I see the struggles of others who did nothing to deserve their plight.

I’m trying my hardest to avoid looking in the mirror and seeing McConnell or Grassley as my reflection.

I’m hoping that I’ll soon find my way back to writing light, fluffy posts that might make me smile like Kermit or Miss Piggy and not frown like Statler and Waldorf.

As for a woman finally being elected to the Senate for Vermont this year? Fat chance… there’s some old white guy named Bernie Sanders standing in the middle of the road.

frustrated woman.jpg