Walking Around

Just a reminder for all my fellow work-a-holics – 

Never underestimate the extraordinary body/mind/soul healing power of a long walk past neighbors’ gardens with a child and a dog on a sunny, almost-spring day.

29872507_10156292104901350_7008949384314147669_o

 

A Sack Full of Feathers (Jewish Proverb)

17634861_10155186469636350_7762532364515614698_n
A man had an argument with a Rabbi and started spreading false rumors about him. This went on until he no longer felt angry and started feeling guilty. He went to the Rabbi feeling ashamed and said, “I’m sorry for the things I said about you. What can I do to make it up to you?”
The Rabbi said, “Go and collect as many feathers as you can.”
Though a strange request, the man was happy to do it to make amends and feel less guilty. He came back with a sack filled with thousands of feathers he had emptied out of pillows.
The man asked the Rabbi if that was all he could do.
The Rabbi replied, “No. Now empty the sack.”
Again confused, the man did so. It was a windy day so the feathers quickly flew all over the city. When the sack was empty, the man again asked if there was anything else he could do.
The Rabbi answered, “Yes. Go and collect all the feathers and put them back in the sack, and make sure you get every last one.”

Moral of the story –
A harsh word, whether true or not, can be apologized for, but it can never be taken back, and the damage to the person’s character and reputation can never be completely undone.

Who Are You Surrounded By?

EmilysQuotes.Com-funny-people-Intelligence-William-Gibson

It’s not uncaring strangers we need to look out for, it’s family and friends, the ones who are supposed to love and support us to the bitter end. They’re the ones who will kill your dream. And almost always, they’re also the ones who have never dared to do anything great, the ones who have adhered slavishly to the safest path, never taken any risks, never made the sacrifices or had the discipline it takes to be a great artist or do anything extraordinary.

They will try to project their own reality onto you – sometimes in the subtlest of ways – saying things like “I just don’t want you to be let down” or “do you have a back-up plan in case this doesn’t work out” – because deep down inside, even when your success might benefit them, they really don’t want you to succeed. They don’t want to have to look up to you someday.

But it’s not always comfort junkies you have to look out for. Sometimes it’s people who appear to be successful in terms of material accomplishment but their egomania and type-A competitiveness overrides their sense of decency so much that their success just doesn’t feel complete to them unless they’re also making everyone else less successful. Sort of like chopping everyone’s head off so they can feel taller. Of course, if you dare to question such a person about an insulting comment, they’ll react with the standard, “You’re just too sensitive.” (The #1 mantra of the insensitive.) 

I know. It’s a hard pill to swallow. But sometimes your worst enemies aren’t enemies at all. They’re the people you live with. The people who tell you they love you. Assholes aren’t just people that flip you off from a passing car. Sometimes they’re sitting in your passenger seat, secretly hoping you’ll fail so they can feel better about the chances they weren’t courageous enough to take.

So what can you do? Once you have discovered a friend or family member who is determined to keep you down, the only solution is to eliminate them from your life. If you can’t do that, never – and I mean never – share your goals and dreams with them again. You should keep that stuff to yourself as a general rule anyway. What’s the point of talking about what you’re going to do? It steals the energy you’ll need to do it and gives some comfort zone junkie a chance to discourage you.

Some people don’t deserve to join you on your journey. It would be wasted on them anyway. If you are attempting extraordinarily difficult things that 99% of humanity is too addicted to security to attempt, explaining yourself to them will be like explaining the cosmos to a flea. 

Fortunately, the opposite is also true, though rarely. If you have a friend or family member who is confident and secure enough to wholeheartedly wish you well, who encourages you and strengthens waining courage, who praises the slightest improvement and reminds you of the greatness within you even when you feel like you’re forgetting it, take the time you were going to spend with the dream-stealers and give it all to him/her. That person is a treasure in this world. 

What is it with dogs and mailmen?

unnamed

I was working in the garden recently and had left the front gate open for a minute when the mailman came walking up out of my sight. My overly friendly German shepherd mix Charlie charged out to say hello, barking his head off, and I heard what I thought was a little girl screaming.

I went out looking for the child but there was only our fifty-ish year old mailman standing there, a very macho-looking fellow with a goatee and Indiana Jones style sun hat. Charlie had accessed his primal scream.

In a forced and overly deep voice (to compensate for the girlish squeal he had just emitted, which probably shocked even him), he said, “You need to control that dog.” I apologized but he just grunted and walked away angry, embarrassed that my dog had unveiled his inner Wendy.

 

Reluctant Poet (on writer’s block)

 

barton_fink-typewriter

The following is one of the first poems I ever wrote, back in those voice-finding days when I still believed in writer’s block. A bit melodramatic but accurate, which is more than I can say about many of my poems from back then. 

I had a conversation with an interesting fellow recently who said he was plagued by writer’s block and asked me what the cure was. I told him his belief in it was making it real. The world is full of interesting things to write about. All one needs to do is watch the news, talk to a neighbor, look out the window, sit in on a courtroom, read a newspaper (if you can find one), read a well-written book, or file through the thousands of memories each one of us has. With all this to draw from, how can anyone ever run out of stories?

This poem, when I wrote it, was about writer’s block, but what it was about more specifically was writing the things we know we must. The hard stuff most people spend their lives avoiding and burying. This is why authors and artists of any kind are celebrated, and should be – because they give freedom to the multitudes trapped within themselves, without the desire, ability, or perhaps the courage to excavate these emotions in themselves. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “In every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts.”

 

leonid_pasternak_-_the_passion_of_creation-1

Reluctant Poet

Words bound
through darkened corridors of my mind
like coy lovers daring me to catch them.
But I do not follow.
The darkness frightens me.
I do not follow.
I am safe in the light.
Safe from the worlds
they might open to me.
I accept myself, a fool,
until frustration with this half-life
erodes the empty shell of comfort,
forcing me to venture out,
to gape into the horrible blackness
I created
and groping, search
for what I really am
beneath the tortured, questioning facade
of awareness.

 

“Begin to write in the dumb, awkward way an animal cries out in pain, and there you will find your intelligence, your words, your voice.” (Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg)

Smash writer’s block by writing one line. It will lead to another, and another, and another, naturally following each other. Every book and poem you’ve read and every movie you’ve seen were written that way – one line at a time.

So when someone tells me they’re plagued by writer’s block, I assume that a) they’re being artsy and playing writer, b) they’re looking for excuses not to write instead of reasons to write, and c) they’re not paying close enough attention to the great, big, wide, throbbing world, to humanity, which is always bursting with stories. The hard part is choosing which ones you will devote large portions of your life to. I tell those plagued by writer’s block to stop thinking about it and it will evaporate like the fantasy it is.

Who Can You Trust? Humor poem (sort of)

090516-think-for-yourself-far-side

Who can you count on?
Who can you trust?
From the day you are born
till you return to dust?

Coca-Cola doesn’t care if your teeth fall out.
Phillip Morris doesn’t care if you cough up a lung.
OPEC doesn’t care if the earth is a wasteland.
Skoal doesn’t care if you spit out your tongue.

Casinos don’t care if you blow your life savings.
Wendy’s doesn’t care if you have a heart attack.
Developers don’t care about nature or wildlife.
Big Auto doesn’t care if we all cough and hack.

So who’s watching out for you and your family?
Who’ll care for you and for them if you won’t?
Here’s a clue that might help you figure it out –
If they’re making any money from you, they don’t.

You might say your parents would die for you
They certainly love you so I’m sure that is true
but they can’t watch you every waking moment
and they sure as heck can’t live your life for you.

You might say your friends are the best in the world
and I’m sure that they’re all very warm and sincere
but if you could see ten or twenty years down the road,
you might be surprised to see who’s gone and who’s here.

You might say your dog loves you without condition
and he’d faithfully walk beside you through hell
but if Mussolini or Hitler stopped by for a visit,
chances are he’d love both those bums just as well.

“Well,” you say, “Surely God watches out for me.
You’re not going to slam HIM, too, for Pete’s sake?!”
But drive your car toward the highest cliff you can find
and see if He helps you step on the brake.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that God loves us
and He’ll welcome us home when life is through
but for someone who’s bent on self-destruction,
there’s not a whole lot that even He can do.

Okay, so who’s really watching out for you?
Here are a few more not-too-subtle hints.
It’s not the police. They’re just too damn busy.
And it’s not politicans or world governments.

It’s not the Great Pumpkin or the Easter Bunny.
It’s not Woodsy the Owl or Smokey the Bear.
It’s not the Tooth Fairy or good ol’ Saint Nick.
(I hate to break it to you but Santa ain’t there.)

Well, I’ve narrowed it down pretty well
and given a lot of darn good clues.
If this was a game show or a board game,
there’s no way on earth you could lose.

But a game it is definitely not, my friend.
In fact, it should be chiseled in stone.
The only one you can count on 24/7
is you, just you, yourself, alone.

  • Mark Rickerby

Unknown

images-1

images-2

quote-newspapers-should-be-read-for-the-study-of-facts-they-should-not-be-allowed-to-kill-mahatma-gandhi-129-2-0259

Talky Tina (humor poem for Twilight Zone fans)

twilight-zone-talky-tina-doll-replica-4

When I was a kid, I was constantly terrified.
My imagination was a bad neighborhood.
I read scary comics like Tales From The Crypt
And watched horror films more than I should.

The first Sunday morning of every month,
I could be found at the local drug store
Looking for the latest issue of Monster
And other mags filled with blood, guts and gore.

On Saturday night, my buddies and I
Would stay up late and watch B-horror flicks
Presented by Vampirella or Seymour
And get our horrification fix.

One would think I was a pretty tough little guy
From all these “inappropriate” movies and rags
But I was actually the world’s youngest insomniac.
I had suitcases under my eyes, not just bags.

But the thing that scared me the most, by far,
Didn’t haunt houses or howl, creep or crawl.
Frankenstein and Dracula were big sissies
Compared to typical, everyday DOLLS.

During sleepovers at my best friend’s house
All the dolls in his little sister’s room
Made me not just run back home to mommy,
I’d run straight back up into the womb.

I couldn’t stand their cold, lifeless grins;
Their painted-on, glassy-eyed stares.
They attempted to murder me night after night
In tortured, tormented nightmares.

Then Rod Serling had to throw in his two cents
And make my night-time fear level climb
When he introduced me to a one Talky Tina –
The freakin’ scariest doll of all time!

giphy

Every night after that, I’d perform a routine
To make sure I was completely alone.
I’d check in the closet and under the bed
With fear that made me quake to the bone.

As I lay in my bed, hiding under the sheets,
A sweaty, petrified, nervous wreck,
I’d hear Tina say, “I’m going to kill you”
And feel her little hands grabbing my neck.

Of course, that was a long, long time ago.
Now I’m all grown up, brave and strong.
Talky Tina never comes to call anymore
And my slumber is peaceful and long.

But sometimes even now, when the moon is full
And the wind makes shadows dance on the wall,
I imagine I see a small figure run by.
I imagine I hear Tina call.

I pull in my dangling hands and feet,
Yank the covers up over my head
And I’m that goofy kid all over again
Lying scared and alone in my bed.

giphy-1