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Ship of (Writer’s) Foolishness

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Show me a man or a woman alone and I’ll show you a saint. Give me two and they’ll fall in love. Give me three and they’ll invent the charming thing we call ‘society’. Give me four and they’ll build a pyramid. Give me five and they’ll make one an outcast. Give me six and they’ll reinvent prejudice. Give me seven and in seven years they’ll reinvent warfare. Man may have been made in the image of God, but human society was made in the image of His opposite number, and is always trying to get back home.”

Stephen King – The Stand

Stephen King writing

… a paragraph like the one above, written by a mere mortal, a flesh and blood human like you or me.

A few words pounded out in a starry universe of millions upon millions of words, and yet… the purity and fluidity pours like some rare nectar that you want to sip slowly, langourously roll around your tongue, and savour.

When I’m in a reading cloud, I meander and stumble across a sentence in a book or an article somewhere that pierces me like an unexpected arrow. Some books fill the skies with arrows. And I sense a miracle of humanity.

This month marks 5 years since I began tapping out these weekly missives on a flock/pack/den/murder… of topics and ideas and even silliness.

268 blog posts and counting.

Writing 1,000 word weekly posts to an audience that measures in the low 100’s seems penny-ante paltry in comparison to the Twitter folks, or Stephen King author-types, or the writers of New York Times columns where consumers number easily in the millions… Katy Perry counts 100,000,000 Twitter followers all by herself.

I’m simply a pimple on a speck of dust, a Man on the Fringe. My writings may seem an act of foolishness or stubbornness. Maybe.

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But the hugeness of the audience size isn’t the point, at least in my case.

Size doesn’t always matter. One can swim equally well in this ocean regardless of whether the water depth is 1 metre or 400 metres. Minnow or whale, doesn’t matter.

I can conjure up many reasons for personal expression, whether visual art, music performance or composition, blog writing, foreplay.

Money.

Sure, this could be one because I truly enjoy the benefits of $$. But not in this case. I’m a liberal capitalist at heart but I don’t write for financial gain. I know… stupid, right?

Ego.

Like becoming the Master of my Domain, this could stroke my pleasure seeking id, but after 5 years surely my ego desires would be exhausted by now. Maybe not, perhaps I’ll gaze lovingly at myself in the mirror and think on that one a bit more.

Beauty.

New York Times bestselling author Professor (Sir) Ken Robinson says: “The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak; when you’re present in the current moment; when you’re resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing; when you are fully alive.

Yes. Whether writing or playing music on my guitar, this is the spiritual equivalent of a personal rainbow. A bouquet of deliciously scented flowers blooms when my inner muse lavishes an unexpected burst of transcendental words upon me that I could never have written alone. The arts confer a beauty that makes life’s worries and dangers worthwhile.

Habit.

Yes. Writing each week is a part of my habits and discipline, a train of energy that keeps my wheels on the track. Having you here to check in and occasionally consume my output is the carrot that entices me forward. I feed from your momentum, your expectation to make this happen, to hit PUBLISH every Sunday morning come rain or shine.

Habit matters. It irritates the hell out of me when I train for a running event for many months ahead of time, building my legs to a point where a couple of hours of non-stop use is possible, then discovering after a week of undisciplined, sloven laziness that my muscles have lost their tonal acuity. WTF!

Writing, like going to the gym, is the sweaty exercise of working a muscle consistently to prevent its rapid atrophy with disuse. Habit and discipline keep our muscles toned and healthy.

BONUS: Strong muscles, both physical and mental, are hot and sexy.

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Meaning and Purpose.

Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “the main search of mankind is not happiness or pleasure but meaning. “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose,”

Yes. Purpose. In my previous work-world life in the medical lab I always felt a sense of purpose in helping those dealing with illness or disease.

These days, in my visits to cut and chop onions, carrots, and my fingers at the soup kitchen, I derive a greater inner benefit than those on the other side of the soup counter because of the little comfort I help provide.

Writing gifts me some purpose too… but even more important is the deep dive into meaning.

Writing is the best way I’ve ever discovered to recognize my own thoughts on the world and its meaning to me. My brain isn’t expansive enough to figure it all out. Never will be. But my ability to know myself has increased exponentially through blog writing.

Words and Writing are a miracle of humanity.

Writing is solitary but the sharing of words is universal.

There is a well of sacred knowledge and thought inside each of us, its nose pressed against the screen door, waiting to be released.

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I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.

Stephen King – Shawshank Redemption

Are You a Good HABIT… Or a Bad HABIT?

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Sweat3

I like to sweat.

I must ’cause I do it so often.

It’s a sweat habit.

I should have been born with a moisture trap built into my forehead to siphon off the saline river that flows into my eyes.

My boyhood friend Frank had really sweaty palms. I hated shaking hands with him. It was like dipping your hand into a chilled salt-brine bath, a swim in the Dead Sea.

I seem to encounter folks regularly who sweat without even trying. Life and breathing alone bring forth a pop of perspiration. I feel badly for those who don’t even have to try….

Sweat comes from different places, different times in life… hot weather, saunas, exercise, anxiety, anger, spicy foods, afternoon delight, medications, menopause, porn sites (hello – just making sure you’re awake!)...

Salty, smelly sweat is my friend almost every day of the week… a companion that I love to hate… a playmate that I miss terribly if I can’t share some time with… a kindred spirit that brings out the best in me even when I curse up a blue storm and don’t want to share time with him.

My sweat generally wells up while I’m biking or running, lifting weights, studying intensive Spanish, mixing and pouring fluffy blender drinks and Shirley Temples at a frantic pace… and even… it might seem strange to you, even when I’m swimming.

Yup, years back when I was feverishly training for an Ironman race, I’d step on the scale before I hit the pool lanes. After 100 laps or so of the pool, I’d step on the scale once more and my weight would be 3-4 pounds lighter. Underwater sweat. I don’t think it was because I peed in the pool…

I guess you’d call my sweat penchant a habit. A good habit.

Habits can be good or bad.

bad habits

A bad habit? I like to smoke 1 Cuban cigar each week.

I sit outside on my patio in the cool of the morning (usually after some form of sweat session) under the shade of the leafy grape vines on the arbour overhead … or sometimes in the early evening when the sun sinks low and the summer air breezes from the apple orchard next door begin to cool and lightly waft by.

I hold the flaming match to the tip of a QUINTERO or a GUANTANAMERA and enjoy the sweetly fragrant cumulus clouds of smoke rising and spreading in molten marshmallow fluff. It sends me on a satisfying cruise to the long, undulating dance that is the beautiful seawall, the Malecón of Havana, sweet Besame music floating in the Caribbean air.

That’s a bad habit.

We all have a bad habit or two. I uttered a four letter word once… ok, twice but that Douche Nozzle  f*&*ing deserved it.

I probably have a bunch of bad habits that you would be disgusted by, but the good habits are the ones where I try to focus my energies and enthusiasm.

………………….

 HABIT

An acquired mode of behaviour that has become

nearly or completely involuntary.

………………….

I remember years ago when my friend Denise was trying to quit smoking (successfully I might add), where the habit of smoking a cigarette with a cup of morning coffee or at the end of a meal was a killer. A nearly involuntary mode of behaviour.

So she placed a glass cup on the breakfast table half-filled with water.

Each cigarette she finished went into the cup and in time became a disgusting sight and revolting smell that sat staring back at her when she most wanted a morning “fix”.

Her smoker’s “habit” died soon afterwards and she’ll probably live ten years longer as a result.

cigarette butts in coffee

An exercise habit is a great boost to your health and quality of life.

Exercising with some vigour makes napping … and eating… more fun. Shouldn’t napping and eating be fun?

Good habits and bad habits shape our daily lives. Gretchen Rubin, in her book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, talks about the importance of habits: “Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat about 40 percent of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence, and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”

Writing a blog has become a habit, playing my guitar daily has become a habit, saving 10% or more of my paycheque each month through forced saving was a habit I had for many years, drinking morning lattes, brushing my teeth twice a day but forgetting to floss (this drives my dental hygienist daughter crazy), sweating at boot camp class … all habits. Good habits.

We’re all a constant work in progress.

Habits are a part of who I am, the stuff that motivates me… overall, my good habit concept is to get rid of anything in my life that doesn’t bring me an inner feeling of enthusiasm, a good habit where time passes in a flash and clocks no longer seem to exist.

My job is to root out those routine, mundane habits that serve no purpose, the ones that suck away the marrow juices that fuel my drive and enthusiasm.

It’s about coming to know yourself.

Once you do, you will know how to change, create, and stick to the habits you want in your life… good habits and maybe even an occasional bad habit.

Choose your habits, don’t let them choose you.

Unless you’re becoming a nun.

smoking nuns