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What I Did Last Summer: Enjoy the Ride! #tcot

December 5, 2013 Leave a comment

A video documentary set to the music of Five For Fighting song Slice (please buy from Amazon or iTunes). Highlights along the way are: Gunnison River, CO. Glacier National Park, MT. Grand Tetons, WY. Grand Tetons, WY. Arches National Park UT. And, fireworks on the 4th of July.

Beyond Mood

Happiness is an achievement. I think you should act happy even if you’re not. When I was a kid, the household could be in a holy terror sometimes; my brother, sister and me running around like wild animals. We’d bite, scratch, yell and beat. Then someone would start crying. My mom would come into the room to stop the madness. She’d come in yelling commands and making threats she was prepared to back up. Sometimes before mom could gain control, the phone ringing would rescue us. The ring was a double-edged sword for it also got us to shut up as we followed mom’s example. No answering machine in those days so she’d always pick it up. My mom – with a switch in hand, eyes bulging with anger and us cowering as we pondered our fate when she hung up – would answer the phone. The phone was not grabbed in a fit, but lifted as if a feather from the receiver. A magical transformation would take place. She was suddenly channeling the voice of an angel, “Hello.” Her eyes bright and cheerful, her voice pleasant as if all was well. We’d still be cowering in a state of temporary grace.

There’s a lot people out there telling you, you should be – what they would term – ‘authentic.’ ‘Authentic,’ to this group, means your feelings and your behavior must match. In essence, they feel my mother shouldn’t have changed her mood. If you don’t feel it, it’s inconsistent with reality and your being hypocritical by denying your feelings. You end up trying to make yourself feel good all the time. There are myriad ways to feel good (‘authentic’) and down that path self-deception is assured.

You achieve consistent happiness by acting honorably regardless of how it might feel at first. Even if it diminishes your so-called ‘self-esteem’ act honorably. The deed shapes the heart. The heart doesn’t shape the deed.

My mother was teaching me. It was her way. She didn’t ponder the lesson ahead of time. It probably never occurred to her what I was learning. It was just the way she was. She taught me, without realizing it, not to dump on innocent by-standers with my crappy mood. Be polite. Don’t kick the innocent dog because your boss made you mad. Don’t go breaking innocent hearts because someone broke yours.

We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights and one of these is the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, we misunderstand how to gain it, like so many other things in our past, happiness has been revised to mean, “If it feels good do it.” Being ‘authentic’ often transfers your inside turmoil or craving into or upon someone’s life. It’s unjust revenge on innocence tastes good but it’s not nourishing.

Do you think we modern folk have put the shell of happiness over the peanut of impulse?

I’m Going Back to College

March 27, 2013 1 comment
I’m going back to college. I signed up for a creative writing class called “Blueprinting Your Novel”. Of course, I have read a pile of books about writing. I’ve read and studied so many I think I could teach a class on how to write a book, or better, how to tell a story.
Why am I doing this? I’m looking forward to a time of learning and exchanging ideas with people like me. We are so rare; people actually writing books and not just talking or wishing. Also, and I know this may sound silly to a lot of people, I’m looking to gain some credentials, something to add to my resume and not just, “I’ve blogged a lot,” or “I wrote a short story for a college class once,” or “I’ve written about 2 million words and backspaced a million times,” or “I’ve read Larry Brooks’ book Story Engineering.”
It is my hope to get several of these under my belt. I hope, at some point, to be able to take one of David Farland‘s courses. I just missed one here locally. And, I’m a reader of his Daily Kick in the Pants, something I recommend for all writers.
EDIT: The class was canceled. Now I have no class.

The Holy Chore

It’s driving me crazy, but like a functional alcoholic, I’m a functional nut. I wish! oh I wish I wish I wish time was something I could manage. God gave me slightly more than half a brain. And you, reader, can vouch for how stupid this world is. Even highly educated people these days are often full of flapdoodle. I’m only slightly smarter than average stupid, which often makes me look like a genius but it bugs me more than blesses me. Do you think it’s more painful to wander through the world stupid or smart? I’m just a little itsy bit better than average in most things…a Jack of all mediocrity and a master of reaching the wilted flower beyond the world’s craphill. I can kinda play guitar. I can fool around on a piano. I can carry a tune. I can throw a tight spiral. Flag football quarterback. I can kinda sorta sketch. I’m funny, sometimes on purpose. I’m refreshingly weird (in a pleasant way…I think). I can be witty. A good conversationalist. I know plaids don’t go with prints. I can say cool stuff once in a while at dinner with friends. I’m housebroke…I won’t go on the floor. I can do accents. Kids like me. Old people like me. I can get a bit unhinged sometimes doing personas I make up off the top of my head when a little group of old ladies is watching me perform. I’m thinking in my mind, no one will ever take me serious now! They say I’m crazy. But I have not one ounce of discipline to sustain writing. Zero! I’m either a blob of complacency or a burst of last-minute touchdowns. The only thing I can do consistently is show up on time to work. During the short breaks I read one of the 29 books I’ve started. This scatter brained life pisses me off! That’s why I had to get away from this blog and the internet for a while. I don’t have the discipline to achieve the holy chore of writing an epic book if I spend significant time here. I’m feeding the narcissism we are all cursed with.
I have always written. When I was kid, I wrote stupid lyrics and poems of teenage angst. I wanted to be in a rock and roll band and write lyrics like Neil Peartspeare (That’s RUSH for those poor ignorant young-uns)…something profound like “The Trees” in that last video I made. (A friend wants me to write some song lyrics for his daughter’s singing career. ) Then I wrote letters. Then I became a gut-spiller in my journals. And, then more poems…some pretty good ones. I wrote and write philosophical and theological entries in my journals and here. Why me? Well, where did Socrates go to college? Sometimes there’s a diamond but mostly drivel. I jostle between formal and slang here. It shows my moodiness. I’m black and white and multicolored and trans-dimensional. EMAIL came along in the ’90s. Everyone I sent. War and Peace. I could type something here and someone else could see it there? Amazing! He’s long-winded they’d say.
But guess what. Due to lack of paying attention in HS, my grammar was/is horrific. One merely has to read this blog to find mountains of evidence. It gives me fits. Discipline! Discipline! However, to the shock and awe of many, I did learn to type with all my fingers. I fold my arms and give a highly sophisticated

when I see the Neanderthal hunter-pecker desperate with his two fingers concentrating heavily ..shift, bink, bonk, curplunk, oopsy. So beneath me! I, who types with ten twitching at 35wpm about the universe!
Writing an epic fantasy fiction: something that requires discipline. Why did the muse strike me dumbfounded and say, “Here It’ll take more brains than you have, more talent than you have and more discipline …oh wait a second…you don’t have any discipline. Do you have any songs to be sung in my great halls? 35wpm? Get busy! Oh, by the way, have you met Goliath?”
Um…I have a sling shot…

With that echoing…
During my hiatus, I lit the candles at night. I didn’t shave much. I drank coffee and green tea. I got up early. I read huge chunks of the Bible. I watched an epic Russian made movie based in 1610. I walked. I jotted down notes. I pounded the keys. I tinkered and tinkered and then tweaked and tweaked what I’ve already written in Part II (I’ve left Part I alone but have some wrinkles to put in and others to smooth out) I had/have lots of problems with Part II of the book, good problems. A traffic jam of ideas. Now, I have them in a semblance of order like a buffet line. I have a track/outline to follow. But, it’s like following a road on a foggy night. The headlights are dim, Hans Zimmer is in my mp3 player and I’m checking the map. That’s one thing that describes writing my book. There’s a myriad of wisdom I’ve read about writing. I used to think it was like trudging up a hill or mountain and I’d be finished at the top. Nope. Not really. What I’m doing is more like crossing the Serengeti and Himalayas…on foot…with a flint rock…dried meat, and a spear. Checking now for sabre tooth wolf-lions and lurkadons. My characters are with me in this darkness, searching for the light just like you are: The oracle, the temple whore, the weapons master, the old sage (master of the creed), the lion killer etc. and so is every lily pad of the influence in my mind like the lily pads floating on the Mississippi. I cannot for the life of me tell which influence has the most control but that mystery is what writes the story. My job is to sell it. Not to make you adore it, but believe it. It’s all there floating on the dip and swell of the flow in my undisciplined bewildered mind. It’s the reason you roam the bookstore. It’s the reason you go to the movies. Escape and find truth.
Tis why I must stay away from here and get this Ring at least halfway to Mount Doom.

Tis my holy chore to make that escape and that truth worth your time.

I Was Born In a Small Town

March 18, 2013 2 comments

 

Before I was in the 2nd grade, I would ride my bike across town with out any fear whatsoever. I had a sandbox under a willow tree where I conducted ‘huge’ battles with little army men. I would build fortresses, rivers and bridges then tear it all down and build it up again the next day.

My next door neighbor had mini-bikes and we rode them all the time. We would do the Tarzan yell to locate one another during the day. When my friend wasn’t around I found endless things to occupy myself outside. I never got bored. The only time we went inside was to watch cartoons which, came on at noon for 30 minutes. Mom stayed home to raise us kids – most Moms did – and she would typically have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk ready in time for cartoons. Then, it was back out the door.

I was sun-brown, short-haired, and barefooted most of the time. The first bicycle I got, my dad found at a junkyard and fixed it. I never wore a safety helmet. I was scuffing my toes and elbows from the numerous daring rides all the time.

I moved about 30 miles away in the summer of before the 3rd grade to a smaller town. For a little kid it was another galaxy. I missed my friend. When I got lonely in the new place, I would stand on the storm cellar and do the Tarzan yell and listen for my friend to respond. I didn’t see him again until after our voices had changed and a whole other life had begun for me.

Sometimes I drive down that old street. As I descend the little hill I remember I could really build up a lot speed on my bike in this place. It was a little town back in the day. Now it’s surrounded by the growing Dallas / Forth Worth metroplex. The street seemed so huge back then. Now it seems very small. That ‘giant’ back yard looks like a chicken run. So many big things happened in such a little place. I had good solid childhood. I had a stable dad who kept a job. My mom stayed home with me, my brother, and sister. We went to Church every Sunday …like it or not.

Hipsters are Trendy

The most predictable people in the world are those desperate to be like no one else. They confuse separateness with originality. I was watching the hipsters gather at the coffee shop tonight. They were bringing their instruments and wearing vans, and t-shirts with ironic statements—I don’t think a one of them weighed over 180, thrift wear, tight pants, and tight jackets included sopping wet. One guy had a short hairstyle reminiscent of a sixties supermodel – you know… the silhouette of his head would look like a light bulb. Most of the hairstyles worn seemed to consider grooming too trendy.

I guess the whole idea of the hipster’s outfit and hair is to show solidarity with the homeless while paying $6.95 for a latte. It’s too mainstream to pay that much at Starbucks.

I’ve been haunting this downtown area for a while now. I’ve noticed a couple of retro looking SUV‘s. One has a Che Guevara bumper sticker; the other has a Darwin sticker—the one where the fish has legs. Wow, that is so avant-garde. Each of these hipster haulers has the assorted and very typical array of leftist bumper stickers—so original.

I pack up my laptop and I leave. As I walk out the door, I begin to connect the dots. There on the road are these two SUV’s with these skinny young men trying to haul pieces of their disassembled drum set into the coffee shop. I gazed at the stickers and gazed at the hipsters.

Predictable.

My Top Three Blog Entries

No Other Greatness

July 3, 2012 2 comments

This entry’s last line reminded me of the title of the book I’m working on. So, I thought I would, just for fun, throw in revision one of the visual concept, that is, the logo.

I’m getting older, which means I need to get over vanity and the insanity of impulses. I need to move from the blind side of sought and the wrong side of is to ought. I’m on a journey out of the naivete of youth into the youth of my old age. But wonder resides and spills from the cloven seasons of my heart, even as I laugh, life moves in for the kill.

What was the future is beyond my furrowed brow, but somehow, brightness shines in the valleys between far away thrills, bridging the distance of that old resistance in an instance, to other hidden fields. The wonders of pain and stain, of sunshine and gain are all in the palm of my gazing mind, reshaping, improving thoughts that were blind or unkind. With a thought quick as a glance, smooth as a changing stance, leaping on the tip of icebergs galore, foundations of floating depth explored.

I’m not what I pretended, less than I intended and far less than I apprehended. There is grander I cannot grasp, a pleasant and powerful undercurrent to life parallels its misery, sensed only with my meager knack to detect wonder, I stand astride two destinies still, one good, one nil.

I believe Truth is more ancient than light and rolls out through the ephemeral world like waves with such force I crouch to the deck on my squeaky little life ship. There is more air than I can ever breathe more sun than I can ever soak up or see.

Think of no other riches than those of the heart. Life takes its toll but strive for no other greatness than that of soul.

Do you ever feel like a Picasso?

June 27, 2012 5 comments

I mean seriously. Look at this thing. I don’t like Picasso’s art work for the most part. When I see a work of art I look for beauty. Something that makes me go “Ah yes …very nice”. Perhaps Picasso is accurate about aspects of life and reflects those well but he’s not cheerful. In this world full of cruel irony and lost sentimentalism, I frown when I look at this thing.

I wouldn’t have one of his paintings in my house. However, this is how I feel today; disjointed, out of place, broken and thrown back together as if the maker lost his plans and guessed where things might go.

The music is far from the instrument, my hands are small, eyes are lifeless. I can’t figure out what goes with what. I’m sitting in my own lap, licking my own tongue. Shadows with no maker. I feel this is how people see me too …at least for now. But, my hands tremble as I calmly assure them …this is not me …let me get myself together. I plead …please wait. I am impatient with me too …and justly so …and I’m growing that way with the world.

Is my vision disjointed? What corrections can you make? With one move the picture could focus or fall apart.  Because I’m disjointed my strength fails me. I’m three people or just one. Blocky, square, rounded and colorful but unmatched. My clothes are out of style. Victim of cubism and the cry of a collage life. I am pieces of discarding beginnings. Shadows look through me and reach around. I’m hooded and lonely like a leper. Am I here or there? My jaws out of joint and mute like the painting.

For God’s sake …please know that this is not me. From afar you’ve seen pieces and set them together with innocent misconceptions. To know me fully will help you arrange these snap shots, these flat squares of my life that hang on the walls of your heart. It is not me. I, the momentary broken Humpty Dumpty, as all the king’s men shake their mythical heads. Pray I can be put back together, at least partially and put back upon the wall. With a little help from my friends and the best that’s in me and the God I’ve doubted I shall reunite my broken hinges.

The older I get I realize nothing is wrong with being a healthily co-dependent (though I’m been doggedly independent) and that the high point over two promising hearts holding hands is a God on high who shines wisdom into their hearts. All else is vanity and if doubting becomes your master you end up like a Picasso.

Do you ever feel like a Picasso?

Part II: Noises in the Other Room

June 26, 2012 4 comments

I see my life, everyone’s life, as work in progress – I’m not finished yet! I’ve made terrible choices and few a good ones when dealing with these challenges mentioned yesterday about Jenny from Forrest Gump. Everyone does time for choices good and bad. Whether the debt is emotional or financial, in the physical or in the spiritual, it will be paid with sleepless nights, or a distracted mind etc. These ghosts haunt us until recognized and resolved. They will chase us out of windows into free-falls when we swear we were pushed but indeed seduced. At the price of peace self-deception reigns.

The wise do now what the fool does later. The issues of the Jenny types are a complete mystery to them. But, us the movie watchers, knew what the noise in the other room was. Instead of facing it, Jenny took a pill, ran away, drank a pint, and there are myriad reasons we ignore the obvious, too. I think we all have something knocking the other room.

I’m in a phase of life in which I realize this recognition and resolution must take place. Although I knew these things in theory when young, I ignored them to my ruin.

My days are full of things that crack the kettle. I’ve dropped my drumsticks too many times. I have stared at the stars as if they would move while I made music banging on a trashcan gilded with fool’s gold. With all these things in mind, I push forward, dragging my unfinished business in the court of the soul with me and I learn some new insight occasionally like a blind galaxy explorer finds a solar system. It’s those stars and worlds within the universe of your soul I wish to move, that is why I am drawn to write, not only blog entries but a heroic fantasy saga. Like me, it is a work in progress.

Perhaps you don’t even know what it is, but do you have something making noise in the other room of your soul that you are afraid to deal with?

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