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BREAKING NEWS for MEN: 8 Tricks to Look Like George Clooney Beyond Middle Age…

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WELCOME to my

DIY Handsomeness Course

Last week I mentioned that I stopped aging at 19, but that was only partly true.

The rest of the story is below…

Full disclosure: I stopped MATURING at age 19… ie. my mental maturity got stuck in the mud like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth (this happens to men a lot). Bad news.

The physical side of me – my face and body – felt left out by the process, so in nasty retribution they went into a hyper-speed zone after I chronologically traversed the teenager divide into adulthood (this also happens to men a lot). More bad news.

Having the V-shaped physique that marks a virile, stud-muffin man can be a problem if the apex of the V begins at your neck and hits full wide-open stride at your waist. Yes, this too is bad news.

So here I am now, stuck with a juvenile mentality and looking for a physical reversal and rejuvenation, sort of a Benjamin Buttoning of my outward appearance.

For sure it’s an ego trip, a full-fledged vanity expedition, probably resulting from the unintended ingestion of too many late-night infomercials.

It’s akin to when I was a kid, when I believed the comic book ads, the cunning tripe that tried to sell me the magic scope that would allow me to see through women’s clothing… creepy stuff that flared a pre-hormonal boy’s wistful dreams. Boob city for only $1.00 + $ .25 S+H?

Sucker born every minute, right PT Barnum?

This week I’ve been doing a little extra GOOGLE research into male anti-aging solutions that will offer me more Sean Connery and less Mystical Connery.

Here are a few things I’ve been reading about and will sift to determine which I should try so that my face and body match my juvenile mentality.

*The Small Print Disclaimer*: Please don’t try ANY of these “solutions”- no one wants to look like me!

  1. NECK TAPE – my turkey neck syndrome is solved with this clear medical-grade tape that is placed on the back of the neck. The instructions are simple: Grab your neck skin at the nape, pull it back, tape it in place, and then cover the evidence with your hair. The result is a fairly slim and firm-looking neck. Maybe I can make this a part of my daily “manly” routine in addition to SSS (S*&t, Shower & Shave). Unintended positive side effect: ripping off the tape at the end of the day gets rid of the unwanted hair on the back of my neck… DOUBLE SCORE!
  2. URINE DRINK – Brit Harry Matadeen, 32, leaves his urine for up to a month, before drinking a glass every day and massaging it into his skin every morning. The health coach says the ‘free and powerful medicine that can cure all manner of diseases’ has made him healthier and smarter than ever before – and claims he now gets mistaken for a man in his 20’s thanks to its anti-aging qualities. I’m only sad knowing that I poured thousand of litres of urine down the sink in my career as a lab technologist. I could have had the skin of 6 month-old baby with early knowledge of this miracle drink! Forget those “green smoothies”, yellow has the power.
  3. BIRD POOP FACE MASK – Nightingale droppings have been used in facials since ancient Japanese times. The guano from the nightingale has a high concentration of urea and guanine. Because birds excrete a fecal and urine waste from a single opening, called the cloaca, the fecal-urine combination gives the droppings a high concentration of urea. Urea is sometimes found in cosmetics because it locks moisture into the skin. The guanine may produce shimmery, iridescent effects on the skin. It’s speculated that because of the short intestine of the nightingale, the droppings have protein, a fat-degrading enzyme, and a whitening enzyme that acts on fat and scurf to whiten skin and even out blemishes. Holy Shit… Sign me up!
  4. PONYTAIL or COMB-OVER?– OK, what dude doesn’t look great with a youthful ponytail, or better yet, a comb-over? I won’t even go into detail here because we all know that a semi-balding fella always looks more lusty and fertile with one of these age-defying trendy do’s.
  5. VIAGRA CREAM – Sagging jowls and eyelids got you down? Forget BOTOX. Forget the ED use of this solid wonder product. Viagra enhancement cream liberally smeared on the face daily will stiffen and engorge the skin with huge blood flow to bring a man’s face to attention in no time. Sure, it’s an off-label use, but I’ve heard it’s on the White House list of effective COVID treatments too. What could go wrong? Visit a doctor if your face goes stiff for more than 4 hours.
  6. WEAR A “BRO” – This is a no-brainer friends. No one wants to look at a cute older couple walking along the ocean boardwalk on a warm evening and try to determine if the man or woman has saggier hooters. If your 100 pushup per day routine just isn’t firming up those masculine pecs, then it’s time to try out the 2020 WonderBro. No separation, just lift. Keep the female eyes on your (Viagra’d) face and not your chest, boys.
  7. FULL BODY WAXING – Steve Carell had the right idea in The 40 Year-Old Virgin *cue the screams*. In today’s world, any body hair below the neck is too much body hair. Believe me, I know. Immersion in a warm, syrupy wax tank followed by a full body rip is the ultimate solution to the question “why haven’t I cried lately“?
  8. JAW CHISEL SURGERY – ever watched hip replacement surgery? It’s a joy to see the Home Depot saws and hammers and chisels emerge from Operating Room drawers after the patient is comatose. Those same miracle tools can be put to good use on your chin by all the Dr. Michelangelo’s out there. There’s no way that Clooney and Connery came by those chiselled chins naturally. The DAVID statue and Mount Rushmore had less work done than either of those two.

So guys, you should be feeling pretty pumped and well-equipped now to send your face and body into reverse gear.

You’re gonna love being a teenager again (except for the acne)!

Tech Time Machine… You’re On A Rocket…

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Marty McFly… let’s hop into your DMC DeLorean time machine and juice up the flux capacitor.

OK, set the time back by 30 years to 1990 (if this takes you into prenatal times, please please tell me what that looks like, I want to know the answer to that as much as I’d like to see into my post-life times).

I’m thinking about time travel right now for a reason.

Looking back with today’s eyes, 1990 was a “foreign country” for us all.

Thirty years ago this week, I stood in chilly Okanagan Lake waters at 7 am on a Sunday morning with nearly 1,000 others clad in wetsuits.

Supportive family members and friends came from near and far to give me a cheering boost for an event I had trained so hard for in the year leading up to this day.

My heart was pounding in my throat, both in exhilaration and terror (the good news is that in the lake, you can pee your pants and no one knows better other than the swimmer directly behind you. Sorry… TMI?)

We participants were all ready to dive in at the sound of a booming cannon – the cannon that starts the Ironman Canada triathlon race, a 3.8k swim, followed by a 180k bike, finishing with a 42.2k run. Great way to spend a relaxing Sunday.

But today, I’m not only thinking about the gruelling race, but also about the huge changes to our world in these oh-so-short 30 years.

Here are a few other things that cross my mind.

It’s about our world and technology.

I’m thinking about how many folks pulled out their cellphones and snapped photos of their friends and loved ones jumping into the water that August 1990 morning. How many photos got posted online for the world to see within seconds…

Here, let me answer that for you… pull out my calculator… hmmmm, 960 participants multiplied by an average of 4 or 5 relatives and friends watching from behind the barriers…

… and the answer is???? ZERO. None.

Huh? Why not Larry?

Well, a myriad of stuff has changed for you and me in 30 years… call a taxi… right! Wait until next Tuesday to watch your favourite TV show… hardly! Meet your life partner-to-be at a bar… *cue laughter*….

A few more examples…

1990. No smartphones… a few cellphones (owned by 4% of North Americans in 1990) sure, but pretty much no such thing as a smartphone with a camera embedded. The first early versions were still 12 years in the future.

These days, when I enter even the tiniest running or other athletic race (in non-COVID times)… camera phones are everywhere, all the time.

In 1990, there were no smartphones, no text messages… no Tesla’s or other electric cars… no BlueTooth, no Facebook, no YouTube.

In 1990 you paid your utility bills at the bank or by snail mail with a personal cheque.

Watch a movie in 1990? Just run by your local VHS rental store or Blockbuster and make sure your neighbours aren’t there when you sneak into the “ADULT” section in the back.

In 1990, you answered your landline phone (usually corded) because it was someone you knew calling (although no call display told you who), no telemarketers or scams.

In 1990, when you wanted to find a street address or your way through a strange city, you hauled out something called a map and found the location with your fingertips, not your GOOGLE.

In 1990, people read books. I mean books made of paper and glue and hard and soft covers that had pages you turned and needed a flashlight to read under the covers. No eReaders, no Kindles (first released in 2007), no Kobo’s. Bookstores were popular “social media” gathering spots in 1990.

In 1990, did you drive through your local Starbucks for a Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino? Of course not. Starbucks had barely 100 stores in 1990, probably none in your area. Just Mary & Joe’s Cuppa Joe House (or Timmy’s for us Canucks) was on your corner in those prehistoric coffee days. Espresso drinks were something Europeans drank.

In 1990, a blog? Is that something stuck in your toilet?

In 1990, when you listened to recorded music, it was usually from a cassette tape, a big step up from 8-track tapes! Your choices were vinyl or cassette. CD or mp3? Huh??

In 1990, a restaurant meal or a plane trip usually involved breathing in someone else’s secondhand smoke. In my province of B.C., smoking was legally allowed in restaurants until 1996. Smoking on flights within Canada was first banned at the beginning of 1990.

Feel free to tell me some other things I’ve missed.

And finally, in 1990, when I crossed the Ironman finish line (below) as the evening sun set and my muscles cried, my kids were 5, 3 and 1 years old. It’s so long ago that I can barely picture them in my head. They were so cute.

Right McFly, bring me back to 2020.

Those little kids are older and smarter than me now. Yes, that’s right, they are older than me… I was 19 years old in 1990 and today I’m still… 19. (I turned off my time machine long ago. That’s new math for you.)

More importantly though, they were healthy then and they are healthy today.

I’m a lucky man to return to 2020 in my older DeLorean body.

OK Boomer…

THE VACANT CHAIR – The Song

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little voice

Do you feel a song coming on?

Good, because today is lyrics’ day… the muse has decided to take a staycation – the motivation and inspiration pushed gently along the track by a show on Apple TV that I accidentally stumbled upon called Little Voice.

The show is a bit saccharine (which, given my love of all things sugary, sounds about right) and loosely based on the early experiences of singer/songwriter Sarah Bareilles.

I’m probably drawn to the romantic sentimentality of the series in direct parallel to the main character’s description of her music as: very… earnest.

Earnest is one of the ways I think of myself when I write lyrics, and most likely, my blog posts as well.

I can’t impress upon you enough the number of times I’ve sat down to write a fun and light-as-icing-sugar blog posting…*laugh track rises* – the writing angels take flight and I type away like some mad creature for 20 or 30 minutes.

Then I exit my trance and stop to re-read my first 500 words…. and… WTH? Where’s the light touch, who stole away the fun in this?

man flipping wig

I reveal myself to myself despite myself. Yup, earnest. Let’s say Earnest Lite.

OK, enough navel gazing (kind of like last week’s post with all of its exposed navels and twigs and berries!).

The song I’m writing this week: THE VACANT CHAIR.

This time out, I return to the year 1935 and a letter composed by my grandmother Margaret (Maggie) to my Mom.

It’s written less than 2 weeks after my grandfather William’s “unexpected death” at the age of 63 in the wintry chill of January.

Although I never met either of my maternal grandparents, the obituary described my grandfather as having “a kindly disposition [that] gave him a wide circle of friends and neighbours.”

I’ve written the lyrics in the voice of my grandmother; not alone, but lonely in the short winter days living on a potato and pig farm in the tiny, rural, southern Ontario town of Hillsburgh.

The soft, rolling hills of Hillsburgh (named for an early family, not the topography) can make you cry with their beauty.

In putting music to this biographical piece, I foresee giving it a misty, deep-bass moody feel in an unusual guitar tuning like that used by Beck in his song, Heart is a Drum.

I hope you find something in this song, because I know we all have or will one day have the experience of sitting down at a dining table and feeling the ghostly presence… the melancholy emptiness of a lone unoccupied chair that was once brimming with life.

(After these lyrics I’ve attached a rough recording of a song I wrote a few years back called San Lorenzo’s Bells. While practising our Spanish in Sevilla, Spain, my wife and I sat in a small square sipping cafe au lait and people watching. I spotted a tiny encounter between an older couple who appeared to be strangers… but… I could also sense a tiny affectionate connection forming in the few seconds they spoke. It was a delicious fragment of humanity that wouldn’t let go of my head.)

THE VACANT CHAIR

by Larry Green

Its cold outside today Will
there’s sun and bitter chill
The barn is full with bins of hay
tiller stowed back by the sleigh
jack and jenny eat their fill,
and the ricks piled next to the mare
it would all feel oh so normal Will
except all I see is a vacant chair

I’ll get Lloyd to fix that darn fence
the one you swore you’d get onto
like the wobbly wooden chairs
where we read poems, recited the Lord’s Prayer
me screaming so loud when you pulled my hair
back in our schoolhouse where
I never dreamed I’d live these last few days
and all I see is your vacant chair

I suppose the pet names we shared
are set loose now in the dusty sky
til Will and Maggie share our rest in Huxley
our muddy boot marks washed away
I still stand at the door in each day’s dusk
and search the fields for you out there
It’s so hard to face the dark alone
when all I see is your vacant chair

BRIDGE:

Could I ever dream
my eyes tricked by shadows and whispers
you might be the home in my heart

I guess I don’t feel it yet
I write these letters to the kids
Thinking back on our Hillsburgh picnics
I climb into our icy bed and whisper low
sharing the day’s words with your pillow
It’s good to know your pains are gone now
but mine have just begun
And all I see is your vacant chair

Did I mention it’s cold outside today Will?

 

 

Checking Your NAVEL in COVID Times…

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navel gazing

I’m cycling… no, not on my bike, although I have been doing a fair bit of that lately too!

Nope, it’s my focus that’s cycling. Up, up, up … and then a little down…

Remember St. Patrick’s Day almost 5 months ago?

I do. And not only for the 6 glasses of green beer I quaffed (which truly I CAN’T remember).

On March 17, my wife and I were volunteering at our local Trout Creek Elementary School, popping dishes into the small kitchen’s dishwasher after the once weekly school lunch.

Hot dogs and fruit smoothies, it was an easy clean-up. Fun.

You wouldn’t want to see the mess made when the lunch menu had the angel-faced Kindergarten to Grade 5 kids getting mixed up with spaghetti and its mucky blood-red sauce and Parmesan cheese. Those are Freddie Kruger movie days.

On March 17, we could see dark, infectious clouds forming. Change – like virus particles – was in the air.

Things were beginning to grow more intense on the Coronavirus front and speculation was growing about what might happen after the upcoming 2 week Spring Break.

We were in the very early stages of not hugging or shaking hands with others. When we said goodbye to anyone, it was happening awkwardly at a distance with an embarrassed, somewhat bemused “what the hell are we doing?” look on our faces.

not shaking hands

The school Principal’s voice erupted over the loudspeakers, “We hope we’ll see you all in 2 weeks kids, but it could be longer. Stay safe.”

Nailed that one.

On March 17, face masks were something worn for sterility purposes by medical personnel in hospitals and by a few East Asians concerned about “germs” in general.

It felt like the door was opening to a Twilight Zone episode written years ago by Don McLean who penned the song “American Pie” and the iconic words, the day the music died.

  • I stopped washing school dishes on March 17, 2020.
  • I stopped actively investing on March 17.
  • I stopped chopping vegetables at the soup kitchen on March 17.
  • I stopped visiting the college to tutor a young man in nearby Penticton on March 17.
  • I stopped eating movie theatre popcorn on March 17.
  • I stopped eating in restaurants on March 17.
  • I stopped shipping wine from my little “retirement” job on March 17.
  • I stopped using my own reusable bags at the supermarket on March 17.
  • I stopped waiting for my Hamilton Tiger Cat football team to fire up training camp after March 17.
  • I stopped visiting and playing music at Open Mics on March 17.
  • I stopped babysitting my energetic grandson one day a week on March 17.
  • I stopped attending boot camp, yoga classes, and the swimming pool on March 17.

Noticing a trend? Does it sound exactly like your life except for the specifics?

Anything and everything tilted on March 17.

world tilted

The precise date might be slightly different in your world but otherwise… sameness. Everywhere in the world. India, Peru, Egypt, France, Australia… all the same.

Normal became… disinfectant flowing like flood waters… masks more widespread than at Halloween… line-ups outside of stores (those that were open)… health questionnaires and temperature checks… distancing “dots” on store floors. Dystopia days…

Yes, lots of things stopped on March 17th.

But… March 17 was also the day something fired up again … my focus.

On March 17, I found my “navel” and it was good.

I had been so involved in floating downstream when I really needed to paddle upstream against the current.

Songwriting. For some years I had been internally lamenting that I just couldn’t make myself focus on the arduous, but ultimately rewarding task of songwriting. I wanted to, I longed to… but a million other little things interjected time after time.

Yes, I found my focus.

The modern cycle of busyness was slowed by the virus and almost came to a stop. Routines changed. Rush and diversion backed away like sheep from ravenous wolves.

My mind and and body settled and relaxed. It was almost like full-time yoga.

This new-found focus had me adjusting my blog posts so that I wrote song lyrics every 3rd week.

I zeroed in on lyrics and melodies and harmonies and guitar licks as if I was back in my old laboratory job. I concentrated for hours in the way I used to sit in dark rooms searching for tiny, fluorescent Chlamydia antigens under the microscope (and never broke my oath of confidentiality on any of you!)

The near-stoppage of time because of this nasty virus cloud gave me permission to concentrate deeply, to focus.

Things were clicking and the work was paying off. I started and completed maybe 6 or 7 songs over these past 5 months. A groove, a muse, nestled in and it didn’t feel as hard as it had for many years. It was exhilarating.

And then… gradually in the last month or so… I sensed a creeping slippage.

Former “normals” were filtering back….

  • My little job of shipping wine fired up once more as wine sippage continued enthusiastically in homes, then restarted in reduced-seat restaurants.
  • Lineups dissipated and I toted my reusable bags to the grocery store again and paid the tab across a plexiglass shield.
  • I sweated profusely to Boot Camp videos on YouTube.
  • I (with my wife’s tutelage and patience) looked after my little grandson weekly.
  • Although my physical attendance at the college for tutoring stopped, my student and I have continued uninterrupted with online learning sessions.

Bit-by-little-bit, despite this novel virus not taking a holiday, most of us, myself included, have begun to take tentative steps back to the world of “before”.

And now, I only hope I haven’t fallen off my new cycle.

Sure, we’re not the same people we were before March 17. We don’t measure our days in the same way.

We’ve adapted, lamented, adjusted, fumed … and maybe, just maybe…

… we’ve re-discovered some tiny store of focus for one or two of the things we’ve been waiting to delve into for so long…  those navel gazing wonders that pump up our spirits and enthusiasm.

………………………………..

PS As a sign of my diminished focus, I have a backlog of song lyrics that still need their musical component to make it to the finish line.

Therefore… no song lyrics this week as has been my practice lately. But, on the positive side of things, I have been working away on my guitar “Travis picking”. Travis picking (named for Merle Travis) involves picking an underlying bass line on the lower guitar strings while simultaneously carving out a melody part on the higher strings. Below is a sampling of a song I recently recorded called Foxglove, written by guitar guru Bruce Cockburn in the 1970’s. Hope you enjoy.

Twenty Years Ago Erstwhile…

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David Albert Green and Lila Margueretta Miller – my parents July 14, 1940

… we were all wide-eyed and baby-scented Millennials, growing accustomed to this once-in-a-lifetime new year that began with the number 2 – catching our collective breath knowing that we had magically survived Y2K pandemonium… but also…

… 20 years ago this month I coordinated, edited, and collated a family book for a reunion of my Mom and Dad’s children and grandchildren; a reunion that celebrated what would have been my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary, had they lived to see the day themselves.

I’ll tell you more about the book and why you might consider doing something similar yourself in a minute.

My oldest brother Robert and wife Lois organized the family’s gathering at Miette Hot Springs, about 60 k. northeast of Jasper in the majestic and rugged Rocky Mountains.

My 4 siblings, our kids, and I have spread out from our Ontario childhood home of Hamilton, east to Nova Scotia, and westward into Saskatchewan and beyond to Alberta and British Columbia. I guess we were ahead of our time; we practised social distancing on a family basis before it was COVID-fashionable. So prescient!

And so, on July 14, 2000, our Green/Miller family group huddled together and staged a mini-reenactment of the tiny wedding that had taken place – in the midst of World War II’s gathering intensity – in Greenfield Park (Quebec) United Church 60 years earlier with two witnesses only: my Mom’s brother Alvin and his wife Pearl.

Back to the book preps: To put the book together for this reunion I decided to approach it in a two-pronged manner:

1. Gather the raw data of genealogy: birthdates, marriage dates and death dates. This satisfied my “science” mind, the 123’s of how we got to where we were in history. The internet was still relatively fresh to us all in 2000, but I was surprisingly able to gather lots and lots of family intelligence and figures. I unearthed a flock of names and relationships that were blind to me up until then. This was exciting!

Pedigree or ancestry chart template with portraits of men and women in round frames. Visualization of links between ancestors and descendants, family members. Modern colorful vector illustration.

2. As important though – in my thinking, more important – were the stories and details of daily life, the “artistic” or human side of all those names and dates. I wanted to see and read my family history through first hand accounts and stories. I longed to feel the life in my past.

I contacted all my living siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and newly-discovered relatives I found through my genealogy research. I asked (OK, begged) for stories and anecdotes from the past that gave personality to the basic facts.

It’s no huge secret that history is largely HISstory and HERstory viewed through our own unique and often biased eyes.

In generous spirit, I received lots of input. Yes!

I gathered together the written stories of those who were willing, and also collected those stories I could through letters and accounts that had been recorded by my relatives who were now passed. This was pure gold.

After my Mom’s Dad – my grandfather Will – died in the winter of 1935, my grandmother Maggie wrote to my Mom about her feelings of loneliness:

Mabel washed a big washing Monday with Clarence’s help and went home on Tuesday… Earl and Clarence are in the swamp and Lloyd is choring and in the house quite often. Still we can’t help but notice the vacant chair. It seems so quiet. But when we think of other people have to come through the same thing. We will have to do the best we know how.”

It’s a palpable reminder for me that all those names we sometimes glaze over in genealogy research were REAL people that breathed and pooped just like I do now (except that pooping part happened largely outdoors in outhouses). They had their own scent, their own voices. Personalities, sweet or irascible. Maybe even racist.

Another golden example: in his later years, my father wrote a mini-memoir to pass on to his kids and grandchildren. Writing your own life history is likely the best “advice” that my Dad ever unintentionally passed on to me.

Here’s a small sampling of what he wrote about the first time he and my Mom met, in 1937.

Recently, he had moved back to Ontario from Nova Scotia where he had been working for the Bank of Montreal for the Depression-era annual salary of  $938.61.

After a month or two of looking for work, I started in the office of Supertest Petroleum on Church Street [Toronto]. At first, I lived in the east end not far from Kew Beach as I thought how marvellous it would be to have a beach close by. I was soon to discover that Lake Ontario is mighty cold. I later decided to move to the west end of the city and joined a boarding house on Ostind Ave. I moved in one evening after work. As my landlady showed me to my room, I noticed a rather cute girl talking on the phone in the downstairs hall.  It turned out that she occupied the room next to mine and her name was Lila Miller. I was smitten and as she was unattached I made it my business to take up as much of her time as I could. Her mother, who was a widow, lived on a farm near Hillsburg with her youngest son Lloyd. There were five in the family, namely Alvin, Clarence, Mabel, Lloyd and Lila. Lila often went home on Sundays and the occasional weekend and I eventually got in on one of these trips home where Lila’s mother and Lloyd would look over Lila’s new boyfriend. They must have approved as I got to go again for the odd Sunday or weekend.”

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Since I pulled this information together in book form 20 years ago, I’ve lost a sister and a sister-in-law who were both at the 2000 family reunion. My eldest brother, the “smart” sibling of my family, sits in what appears an Alzheimer’s state of minimal registration of the world.

What I want to lay on you here today is… you, and your descendants will treasure any information and stories that you collect today about your grandparents, parents, siblings and yes, yourself.

Know that we are Kansas’s Dust in the Wind.

Our dust can blow in the free air and be lost like feathers in the morning breeze… that is a choice we can easily allow to happen, no action required…. or….

… we can catch some of that dust in a jar, like fireflies, and place a cap on it so that we and others, can enjoy its blanket of warmth over and over.

One hundred years from now, that dust will sit, undisturbed, unchanged and waiting to be “lived” again after you and I are dust ourselves.

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