Why You Should Give a Damn

“You can present the material, but you can’t make me care.”
― Bill Watterson

Some say the world will end with not with a bang but a whimper. I say ours may end with the dull and empty thud of indifference.

A blatant apathy lies thick like a hazy cloud over our populist culture. It’s cool not to care. Johnny doesn’t give a damn and the indifferent world doesn’t bat an eyelash.

 

observer tv baby

From the time we are children, society teaches us not to care too much or at least pretend we don’t. To act in such a manner is a  sign of childish insecurity, it’s not only foolhardy but too trusting and stupid. We are encouraged to develop a sense of skepticism and mistrust especially when it comes to people we don’t know.

The world is a scary place. I could write a thesis on how frightening it is. I think we shut off a little of ourselves bit by bit as the inevitable blows of life hit us. By the time we are grown adults we have lost so much of that beautiful trust, that loving nature and natural compassion children feel and openly express.  We are taught to see differences in each other and these differences are not good. This polarizes us.

no one is born racist people together

 

I think people tend to wrap themselves in a protective cloak of apathy. It’s not only easier not to care, it also hurts a lot less. When we care we are vulnerable. It makes perfect sense to want to close off a wee bit and tone down those emotions.

Distractions come easy and going along with the stampeding crowd is understandable given the alternatives.  It’s better to conform.  In many ways it’s essential if we want to live in a civilized society.

It is easier just to go along. Right?

Traumatized and shellshocked children in the village of Aitaroun. Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez.
Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez.

This world is sick and we all know it. My eyes glaze over when I watch the nightly news which I admittingly cannot watch much anymore. I see pics of starving children and burning forests and war. Our brains can only take in so much information. Our hearts can only take so much pain. We become desensitized, it’s a survival mechanism. I think that’s why on a collective whole we seemingly don’t care, or we care more about stupid meaningless distractions. I think we’ve reached a saturation point. It’s all too much and if I don’t notice maybe it doesn’t exist and I won’t have to do anything about it.

 

apathy i dont care
“The world doesn’t end in revolt and revolution…it ends in apathy.” ― Nick Shamhart

 

Why should I care? Why should you? Why should anyone?  We know life is not fair. It’s a hard lesson that still stings. We are savvy enough to realize that fairy tales typically don’t come true and that life is not only not fair it’s a bitch too.

I can see how people especially the ones who get the short stick may get a little angry with the world and society in general.  I can see how easy it could be not to care for someone who doesn’t care about you. I can see how one could get caught up in inevitable feelings of futility; why should we care about a world that doesn’t care about us?  I ask again why should I care?   I know that I am but one small voice in a sea of millions so I better shout it out:

I care because someone has to care, dammit!!

If there is to be any meaning in my insignificant scant-of-a-minute life it’s this: that I made a difference however small on the side of good and that I  took whatever sad, nasty or indifferent thing that came my way and turned it into something wonderful, however small.  I cannot  expect anything more or less. I want to leave this world a little better than how I found it.

I want to live in a world where people care about one another and I want my children…I want all the children and their children to grow up in such a world. There is too much ugliness, too much to tolerate. I suppose the way I cope with it is by not only ranting about it, but living up to the ideals I’m ranting about.

Kindness begets kindness and if more people gave a damn more people would give a damn. We all could use a little more kindness  And so there it is:  My spiel for the day. You can only do what you can do….

 

~NLM

 

 “The earth was overwhelmed with beauty and indifferent to it, and I went with a heart ready to crack for its unbearable loveliness.” ― Josephine Winslow Johnson

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Like a Rock

tranquil mountain strong

When I think of strength I think of my Dad. He wasn’t the bodybuilder or lumberjack type. He was a man with little education who came from another country and started a small business. He always provided for his family, he was there and he never wavered, even after he and my mom broke up when I was 11, even after my brother, sister and I had grown and moved out. He was the steady rock of our family. He never complained, he carried a mirthful attitude with him wherever he went. He had a smile and a kind word for everyone despite living with decades of chronic pain. I am ashamed to admit I never really noticed this until after he was gone…funny how that works…funny how my image of what it is to be strong changes as time goes by…

Big muscles don’t always equate with strength, there is also another kind of strong. The inner strong. A person’s will, resolve, resilience; that which endures and continues.  It is a quiet and powerful. It’s sublimely subtle, not flashy at all. It declares itself not. It just is.   It’s what enables us to hang on one second more, hold out hope one more time and this very thing can save us when all else fails. It is born of necessity and it grows in jagged stages marred by pain and shaped by experience.

 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.” ~Ernest Hemingway
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”
~Ernest Hemingway

We grow stronger by allowing ourselves to be weak, to fail, to fall. We gain strength by getting up again and again…and again. Our eventual redemption is not only made of this, it depends on it. It is at the bottom of that dark abyss of hopelessness that we can find that very hope that can sustain us. Those who have been thrust into this abyss know full well there is a light in the dark; it is wondrous and strong, it is beautiful, it is divine and it is in each and every one of us.

We are stronger than we believe. We need to believe this. We need to be honest with ourselves and listen to our hearts–therein lies strength; it is in the almighty power of love.

Strength does not lie in oppressing others, or by putting them down. The illusion of superiority does not make anyone stronger or better or more deserving than anyone else. Good fortune and adversity alike mold us into what we are today. The “protection” of privilege cannot purchase anything of any true value. This must be earned by our experiences and our reactions to circumstance.  

To show compassion and kindness is strength. It is the strong that are big enough to see beyond themselves to the greater picture that includes us all.   It is by giving away that we gain. It is by being the steady rock for others to hold on to we can find the strength to hold on ourselves.   I am learning this slowly, like a rock.

 

~NLM

 

we can do it strong

 

“Be strong. Live honorably and with dignity. When you don’t think you can, hold on.” ~James Frey

 


 


Gallery of The Strong

 

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

 

Salt March led by Gandhi, India, 1930
Salt March led by Gandhi, India, 1930

 

"Migrant Mother" is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children.
“Migrant Mother” is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children.

 

Londoners shelter in a tube station during the Blitz.
Londoners shelter in a tube station during the Blitz.

 

Mother Teresa in her hospital. 1971. Credit Getty Images
Mother Teresa in her hospital. 1971. Credit Getty Images

 

 

My Dad, brother and sister and me on my 2nd birthday. :)
My Dad, brother and sister and me on my 2nd birthday.

Related Articles

 

9 acts of individual defiance that changed the world (One.org)

When Being Strong Is Weak (Goodmenproject.com)

Malala Yousafzai – Facts (Nobelprize.org)

Civilians on the frontline (Theguardian.com)

Brave – Sara Bareilles (Youtube)

Paul Simon – Loves Me Like a Rock 

 

Seeds of Love

Every action or non-action we take have repercussions that run like ripples in a still pool, constantly moving and changing. Out of randomness comes a chaotic sort of order we call life.

Life is a journey with twists and turns, offshoots, detours and about-faces.  We skip merrily, or unmerrily, planting seeds along the way.

Some seeds get blown away and never come to fruition, others find the right landing spot and with a little luck, care and attention erupt out of the ground bursting into life, red, ripe and beautiful like a shiny apple.

Most of the time we don’t know where they go. A small kindness is a seed that can travel far, farther than we realize. I’ve learned to appreciate the small and the seemingly insignificant.

Seeds are like that; small and seemingly insignificant. We all know that looks are deceiving and that a seed however tiny can pack a wallop. The potential of one tiny seed is incalculable.

apple-with-leaf

 

 “We can count how many seeds are in the  apple, but not how many apples are in the  seed.”

   ~Ken Kesey

 

We are always planting seeds whilst we know it or not. I like to think that every action I take however small and seemingly insignificant most likely has repercussions: good, bad or somewhere in between. The results of some of our actions are immediate, other results take longer, others longer still. Seldom does life work on our timetable, nature works on it’s own and we are a part of that greater whole.

flower nature determination dandelion crack

We are a part of the web of life. We take part in the dance of the seasons; springing forth with a rush of light and energy. We burst up through into the living world, bright, trusting and full of potential thrust into the wilderness of existence, a life with gardens and tigers and people and trees and owls…so much beauty and wonder…

…and indifference, greed, Monsanto and war…

box dark war explosion trinity-shot-nuclear-test-explosion-july-16-1945-us-government-photo-in-the-public-domain_thumb

The world is our garden, the garden of our making. We grow here and there is no other place for us. We must take care to plant the right kind of seeds.

maxresdefault girl children kid love

If we plant seeds of love and compassion and altruism and trust, if we plant a respect for all life and the environment, if we plant peace and understanding and tolerance with care and watering, luck and a lot of hard work, we could grow a beautiful garden with enough wonderfulness to sustain us all.

Of course this is all so easy to say….so lovey-dovey and some may say unrealistic. Yes, I know the world is an ugly place but it is also a place of beauty. It’s up to us to cull out the badness and plant the goodness. If not us, who? And if not now when?

Any farmer will tell you the best time to plant is yesterday. Get those seeds in the ground and pray for sunny days…the more seeds we plant the better.

~NLM

Flower petals spelling LOVE

“I will be generous with my love today. I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go. I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”
~Steve Maraboli

 

 

 

Related Articles

Eric Clapton - Let It Grow (2011 Remaster)
Johnny Appleseed Song (Youtube)

SEEDBOMBS (How to)  (Guerrillagardening.org)
List of edible seeds (Wikipedia)
Star seed (Wikipedia)
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault,The doomsday vault: the seeds that could save a post-apocalyptic world (theguardian.com)
The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”

Connected

 

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

~Walt Whitman

 

The sky is a deep cerulean and it is inviting. It is a spectacle decked out with puffy white clouds like cotton. The sun is warm and kisses my toes, inviting a stretch and a yawn. I am sprawled out on the grass, it is soft and cool and I feel at home here among the green.

The birds sing like mad and I can’t help but smile. I close my eyes and feel the sun’s warmth on them. I imagine being a feather on the wing of an eagle soaring ever higher in the sky. I feel the rush of air go through me, the power of the bird and the exhilaration of flight.   I feel a part of the bird and the sky and the sun beaming down…

 

…and I do feel a part of this greater whole. I can’t help it, especially out here, outside under the trees among the flowers and the weeds and the bees and the worms and the neighborhood owl that surprises me every time it hoots. I feel the grass under me…it’s alive and so is the soil that nourishes it, teeming with lifeforms from the obvious to the microscopic. We are all made of star-stuff. The grass, the trees my cat and me.

 

When I look at the night sky and gaze upon the lovely moon I cannot help but feel a kinship with its solitary light.  I imagine others gaze upon the very same moon with the very same thoughts. The stars twinkle and universe expands and time goes on and as I sit here in reflection I am awestruck by my existence and how really small I really am; like a speck…a drop of water in a vast ocean.

I know I’m not alone in this feeling and that comforts me. I also know that much of this feeling can be backed up with science and that is intrigues me.

The patterns of life…the sameness..the variety all beautiful, all beckoning another look…

 

For me it goes beyond The Fibonacci sequence and all that math I can barely understand.  It is more than pattern recognition and the appreciation of beauty and even the seeking of truth…

It’s a feeling, a real physical feeling and it’s emotional for me.  Perhaps it is because I am sensitive, perhaps it is because I am empathic, perhaps everyone feels this way…perhaps…

I can only speak for myself but it makes me more compassionate.  I see it as a gift although it hurts inside sometimes…but mostly it is the most wonderful feeling; this feeling of “connectedness”.

It allows me to imagine like I do and write what I do. It moves through me like music and this causes me to dance! The more I feel it, the more I yearn to seek it out. The more I seek it out, the more it finds me.

butterfly_blue_little_

~NLM

 

Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

 

gif spider

 

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Pink Floyd. Grantchester Meadows (Youtube)
Do trees communicate? (Youtube)
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15 Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature

∞

The Making of MAGIC

 

 

There’s much to be said for the way we look at things. Our vision is tempered by what we expect to see. Look for ugliness and you’ll find it, the same goes for beauty for both can be found in everything. It is the way we look at things which control what we see and how we see it.

We create our own reality. I know how that sounds; like some metaphysical mumbo~jumbo that seems profound and  wise but an idea that some of us may find difficult to grasp, myself included. Real life is the reality we live with every day. It can be cold and hard and can smack one right in the face.

If I had control of all reality…seriously…I would eradicate war, hunger and poverty, mean people and bad hair days too..all that stuff. Most of us would but that does not make it so. We can see the state of the world.  Who wants that? It’s so overwhelming and beyond anyone’s power and control but we can control some things.

And that is where the magic comes in…

 

Zenith_by_MescalineBanana art psych
“Zenith” By MescalineBanana

Yes…back on the magic. I realize you are sophisticated and have a certain sense of the world that is pretty much on target. I like to think of myself as an open-minded sort who is tempered with a fair amount of skepticism. I want to believe in Santa Claus and in unicorns and elves and giant talking trees. Do I really, truly believe? Perhaps not, but am I certain? Can I be 100%certain of anything?

 

unicorn random

 Any 

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Any minute now my knight in shining armor will pop up riding a unicorn and whisk me away from my life of drudgery.

😀

Not likely…but I do contend there is magic. This I know for sure.

Magic exists! I know for I have seen it. It is all around us.

gratitude-zen-life-coaching hands magic

“It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.”
Charles de Lint

 ♥

 LOVE is magic…so is gratitude.

Attitude is everything: We choose how we feel; happiness is a choice and so is dissatisfaction. Pretty much we are as happy as we make up our minds to be.  I have found this to be true after much trial and error.  There was a point in my life a few years back when I very much needed this to be true…

..and so on blind faith born of desperation I believed. I willed myself to believe and I didn’t stop despite all my wishes not coming true.  I learned that my happiness cannot be based on outside forces. I had to stop reacting to life and start acting. My challenges gave me an insight I wouldn’t have had before; an appreciation for perseverance. A willingness to go the extra mile without a promise of reward, the strength to carry on despite it all….and through all this I believed.

 

gold sunset ocean sea light glitter

 

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and MAGIC in it.
W. H. Murray

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I am learning that the most direct way we create our own reality is by our own actions.  Action powers everything we do, everything we create, we are responsible for the kind of world we live in–all of us.

We can have a world where magic exists, we just need to create it.

 

art psych girl bubbles universe

I found happiness in gratitude and in taking pleasure in tiny things. Oh what a joy this has given me! It is a gift granted to me by circumstance.

 

 hands and moon

 

We can embrace these wonderfully human and magical traits like love and compassion, generosity, altruism and understanding. We can reach out to each other in friendship, our minds and hearts open. We need to stop paying attention to what we are told to think and believe and learn to trust in our own hearts and our own souls again.

These are natural inclinations.  Bring these into your life and miracles happen…

Magic happens…and it’s contagious.

Have a magical day!

 ♥

Nancy

 

 

web-of-lifeA-550 fantasy art

“When you’re touched by magic, nothing’s ever quite the same again. What really makes me sad is all those people who never have the chance to know that touch. They’re too busy, or they just don’t hold with make-believe, so they shut the door without really knowing it was there to be opened in the first place.”
Charles de Lint

 

 

Magical Related Articles

You Create Your Own Reality: Here’s How

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – The Wizard of Oz by Judy Garland

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole

 

Balloon flights in Turkey optimism sunrise happy sky

Dig it

 

 

The day smells fresh and new. It is sunny and warm for mid February and I have already stripped off my coat and sweater and I’m down to my Captain America T-Shirt.  The wind is brisk and invigorating. It drowns out the sound of all else.  I am working in the garden for the first time this year; turning the dirt over in what was and will be again  my vegetable patch.

This is got to be one of my most favorite activities; digging in the dirt out in the sun on a lovely day such as this. I am grinning like an idiot. I can’t help it.

 

Odin-cat-garden-quote-digging-iris

 

This feels so right. so symbolic. If I could create my own start of the new year it would be right now; the time that I first turn the dirt over. It is so hopeful; this whole thing. As I dig my mind drifts along so peacefully, so merrily. My thoughts wander to and fro, from this to that in a steady stream of thoughts that lead to a big quiet pool of lucid nothingness. I float there, mindlessly…mindfully.  I feel connected to everything and all seems right with the world.  I feel more myself than I have all winter. I have missed this I think, more than I first realized.

It has been an unusual winter. It’s been one of major growth for me. I am still working at my “seasonal”retail job. They have yet to kick me out. Who knows? I may stay awhile. Never before have I been so confident in myself.  I am a happy, confident, positive, bright and beaming person and it has taken my whole life to get this way.  I feel blessed to have a family that loves me and a roof over my head and a garden to work in.

I feel like I’m standing on the precipice of something wonderful; a something not far beyond my grasp and if I just reach and stretch a little more, I’ll get there.

~Nancy

 

 “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott

 

tiny seedling plant

 

The Beatles – Dig A Pony

 

FEAR

 

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
― Frederick Buechner

 

Fear is insidious. It undulates and creeps around like a viper.  It whispers in our ears like the winds; howling and shaking and crying out. It demands our attention. It assumes control and commands there shall be no other gods before it.

Fear makes us think the unthinkable. It calls us to action at times and paralyzes us at others. It seizes all common sense and hijacks the imagination, forcing it to succumb to it’s will.  Fear is irrational. It claims to be all-knowing, all-seeing. It promises to share it’s insight for it insists it knows the future. It will take care of you. It will provide you with thoughts to think, things to do, and people to hate. It offers so much but leaves only emptiness in it’s wake.

Fear grows rampant in this crazy world. It’s no wonder since it has been used as a means of control since the very beginning.  Nothing motivates like fear and nothing can feed that mob mentality quite like it.

Throughout history there has never been a shortage of boogeymen. We have been taught to be afraid from the very beginning. Some of that fear has been benefical. Our early ancestors lived a life fraught with real life dangers, it paid off to be able to perceive threats and respond  quickly and efficiently. The physical effects of fear itself such as a quick dose of Adrenalin gives us quicker reflexes to be able to try to outrun that Saber-tooth Tiger or fight it off.

saber tooth tiger brave face the tiger

Not all fear is bad. Some of it is fun. We can get a vicarious thrill by watching scary movies. Haunted houses are popular at Halloween which is a major holiday in The United States. People go to amusements parks for that same thrill. Facing danger without truly facing it can be quite exhilarating. Science has proven our brains really don’t know the difference between a real and not so real threat. 

dracula pics-qDtU

There are forces in this world which feed off our fears. They distract us and manipulate our thinking. We don’t need them but they need us. It’s a new threat played out on TV, the internet, and in advertising and print media…everywhere. It is fed to us and it’s difficult to know who or what to believe. In times of doubt and uncertainty we tend to believe the authority figures we are trained to obey. Governments, the media, religion and even your 5th grade teacher and dear old mom have used the tactics of fear on us at one time or another. But we are all grown up now and ready to face the truth, whatever that may be, not what someone tells us it is.

Fear of disappointment
Fear of disappointment

  The only thing we have to fear….

Fear causes us to miss out on what is truly important to focus on the improbable. Most likely it will not be the object of our fears which will “get us” but something that hits from left field. If we have taken reasonable precautions in life there is nothing much more we can do to prevent that great unknown menace except for having a positive attitude.   There is no logical reason to worry. At this point any concern is counter-productive.

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That often quoted quote by FDR still rings true today maybe even more so.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear-Mongering

Fear can hurt you literally. Fear effects our physical and mental well-being. The most common physical reactions are a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, sharpened or redirected senses and dilation of the pupils. Muscles tighten up and are primed with oxygen, in preparation for a physical fight-or-flight response.

Most of what we fear in this modern age we cannot fight or run away from. Many of us live with a certain amount of chronic fear, real or imagined. This weakens our immune system and can cause heart damage and gastrointestinal problems. Fear impairs the formation of long-term memories and causes damage to parts of the brain. This can make the impact so much worse because we lose the ability to regulate fear by rational thought.  We are more susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions and our decision making processes are altered in negative ways.We are anxious, depressed, tired and old before our time.

 “Is it useful to feel fear, because it prepares you for nasty events, or is it useless, because nasty events will occur whether you are frightened or not?”

― Lemony Snicket

AK4253-006.jpg

Of course there are valid dangers in this world, much too many. It is within the realms of possibility, albeit a very slim possibility, I could walk out my front door and get hit by a meteorite. It is much more likely that I will proceed to my destination unharmed.  Most of our fears are the meteorite-type ones; dramatic dangers, hideous and terrible with the infinitesimal odds of ever happening. 

Credit: Jack Ohman
Credit: Jack Ohman

Most of us lead relatively uneventful lives and deaths. What are the chances of your typical average Josephine such as myself or you or anyone being killed in a terrorist attack, or from getting the “plague du jour”?  Not likely, but it seems the dramatics of the very possibility can supersede reason.

Being a person who has been afraid of most everything for most of my life I can testify to the needlessness of fear and how it can control you and keep you from living life to it’s fullest.  I can also say that it can be overcome. I know most have never been afraid to the extent of myself but I do know I can’t be the only one who has experienced this intense emotion. Any fear is valid because it feels that way to the one experiencing it and it’s difficult to step outside of an accustomed way of thinking. Face the dragon and the dragon will dissolve before your eyes. We are more powerful than we believe.

 Have a fearless day,

Nancy

dragon_slaying____by_pixelcharlie-d3in4jm

 

Warning!!

You are about to enter SBI’s Gallery of FEAR!

Enter at your own risk…

 

adam eve eden snake
Evil knowledge

 

el diablo devil vintage creepy
Scary Evil Dude. Boo!

 

1957---invasion-of-the-saucer-men movie fear vintage
Aliens!!

 

Cold-War-Ads-and-Propaganda-Main fear
Bad Communists

 

vintage fear invasion
Invasion!

 

Bad drugged out zombie people
Bad drugged out zombie people
Fear mongering: Probably the best-known example in American politics is the Daisy television commercial, a famous campaign television advertisement.
Fear mongering: Probably the best-known example in American politics is the Daisy television commercial, a famous campaign television advertisement.

 

islamophobia fear
Islamophobia

 

 References and related articles

 

Impact of Fear and Anxiety

Viral Outbreak – Fear – Chaos as Means of Control

The Bogeyman (Wikipedia)   Bogeyman-like beings are almost universal, common to the folklore of many countries.

How to Spot a Communist

“Daisy Girl” Rare 1964 Lyndon Johnson Political Ad -aired only once- 9/7/64 

Duck And Cover (1951) Bert The Turtle Civil Defense Film

Wisdom from Unlikely Places

I have found wisdom in unlikely places. In places some would say there is none to be found. In long dark hotel hallways at 3 am and brightly lit hospital corridors at seven fifteen. I have heard it come from the mouths of sweet innocent children and raving lunatic drunks…whispered by the howling wind, written in misspelled curse words scrawled on subway walls.

Wisdom can be hard-fought and long won over the ages. It can be found by standing on the shoulders of giants. It can be located in the deep dusty corners of one’s mind patiently awaiting attention. Wisdom can take flight into insight and explode into enlightenment. It can descend into fire and chaos and emerge like the Phoenix. Wisdom is golden. It is the light.

gold sunset ocean sea light glitter

 

Wisdom is like stained glass. Cracked and beautiful, letting the light shine through. Breaking into a million pieces…

 I carefully pick up the broken shards. Each one unique and beautiful in it’s own way. The truth is not always beautiful but the seeking of it is. I accept each begotten piece, judging them not but embracing them for what they are; glimpses of knowing and experiencing. Windows into the heart and the soul and oh yes. an open door to glorious understanding.

Credit: Copyright © Janet Hince and Heart To Harp, 2010 – 2014.

The truth does not question me, why do I question the truth? It remains in the eye of the beholder but I seek a more unblinking eye of logic and find none exists.  Whatever we are and whatever we do we cannot separate ourselves from our very human feelings and these feelings can cloud our vision and effect our reality, at times to our detriment. It’s easy to doubt the validity of a message due to the doubtfulness and dubiousness of it’s messenger but in all rationality can the truth cease to be the truth if comes from something or someone we dislike? Something bad or wrong or evil?

 

eye evil dark scare fear

 

Can we learn from wickedness? Can a exquisite flower spring up from frozen lifelessness? Can a seed of understanding be gleaned from a stark and abandoned field? Can adversity, fear and pain teach us anything? What about dark and horrible things? What can beauty learn from ugliness?

flower snow crocus purple

Some of the most beautiful people have suffered and they understand; knowing firsthand the power of love and compassion. Being in the position of having to rely on the kindness of strangers is apt to make one a kinder stranger…a kinder person…

Rose Meaning quote thorns

As so it goes. All we can do is gather our pieces of wisdom, saving some for a rainy day or to chew on later on some idle Tuesday. We can store them in forgotten boxes under the bed or we can bring them out and use them for the good and betterment of us all.

Stuff to ponder I suppose…

~Nancy

 

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Stephane Grappelli & Michel Petrucciani – Misty

The Weight Of Things

 

 

tree leaves autumn color

 

An elderly neighbor of mine passed away last autumn. I didn’t realize this until the following spring when I saw people pull up in front of her little green house on the corner to carry away her things. First it was the chair, then a couch and a tall lamp.  This came as a surprise as change tends to do. Abrupt and unexpected. She was old and frail and we’d seen less and less of her over the years.  Her son Lenny lived with her and tended to the maintenance of the house and yard. He was a shy and gentle soul who never let anyone get to know him except for the neighborhood cats, which he attracted in droves.

As neighbors go they were my favorites. I like shy and gentle people, the elderly and cats.  I was a bit pissed at myself for not knowing what had happened for almost 6 months.

MM suggested we go over and take a look at the obvious to us now, estate sale that was happening at the little green house on the corner.  I admit I was curious as I had never been inside. I wondered where her son was as I got on my shoes and we headed over.

 

 

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Half the neighborhood was there sprinkled among the other shoppers.   I was stricken at first at how cramped it was, full of people pawing through Angie’s things. I felt funny. I didn’t know her all that well but now I felt sort of protective of her stuff and her memory. I took a quick tour of the downstairs bedroom. I saw her hairbrushes and clothes for sale. It seemed all too intimate, all too strange and all too much.

 

Oh I had spoken to her several times over the years exchanging cards at Christmas and the like. I knew she had lived there for over 40 years and had raised a  family, watched most her children  move away and start lives of their own. I know her husband had died there. I know that she seemed somewhat hard and no nonsense. I know that my preconceived notions about her had allowed me to keep her at arms length like I do with most people.

 

But now it was so different, so final..

 

The rooms were tiny and jam packed with various things. It was overwhelming right away: there was so much. It was difficult to take it all in. The first thing I zeroed in on was a set of commemorative dishes priced at $650 dollars next to a tin of cocoa marked “new” and on sale for one dollar.  Along with old dishes and salt and pepper shakers shaped like Minnie and Mickey, there was a package of paper towels for sale and paper napkins.  Who buys this stuff? I wondered to myself and more importantly who sells this? I was tempted to open the refrigerator to see if there was some old milk for sale but decided against it.

 

old toys

 

MM beckoned me up the flight of steep creaky stairs that led to the upstairs bedrooms, all small and filled to the brim with stuff. Old holiday decorations and kids toys  neatly arranged in boxes. It was hard to believe they had hung on to these items for so long.

The atmosphere was oppressive, it was thick with oldness and stagnation.  I could  feel the 40 years of history there.  This was once a place of life and hopes and dreams and now only lost memories remained. It was as if the remains of a sweetness had stagnated and turned acrid; buried under the heaviness of the years.

It wasn’t long before I had to get out. Needless to say I didn’t buy anything, I wasn’t planning to.

 

want graffiti_geotagged_consumerism_442716_o

 

 

Time passes so quickly. It’s too easy to just go with the flow and let circumstance carry you along.  I am in the midst of that and I sensed my neighbor was too but only she had floated farther than I…and stayed too long, accumulated too many things with too many links to the past. So many that there was scant room for anything or anyone else.

So much stuff with so many memories attached to them. It’s easy to do; hang on to things. I too have that pack rat mentality. Sometimes you never know when you may need something.

 

More importantly, these cherished bits of happiness; intangible memories encased in tangible objects enable us to hold a piece of the past. It seems holding on to these things brings us closer to what we miss.  It’s a little silly when you think about the significance we give to objects, it’s not logical.  But who is logical?  Especially not when we love someone. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I truly understood how important mere objects can become.

 

I have limited myself  a few items, tokens of memory, attached to a person not so much as a time. A few items: a Buddha statue of my father’s and his namesake tree in the front yard.  A tiny doll my teenage daughter played with when she was younger, The blue striped blanket my son came home from the hospital with. I have kept the odd concert ticket, a tiny figurine from when I was 4. There isn’t much.

 

Birds-Flying-above-the-Sea-at-Sunrise__56028-1024x682

I’ve been ruminating on this experience all summer. It’s prompted me to re think the way I’m living my life.  How I hang on to needless things. The tangible and the not so tangible. Outdated stuff, old baggage, outgrown ideas and ways of thinking.  How possessions can possess the possessor and how little by little all this stuff we accumulate weigh us down… keeps us from flying.

 

 

Perhaps my neighbor missed her chance to fly, maybe her son being thrown out of the nest so late is in flight now.  At any rate we all must go someway, somehow.  I ponder this as I watch my neighbor’s tree come down foot by foot until it’s gone and I realize it’s been blocking what I see now is a great view of the mountains.

 

~Nancy

 

 

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

 

freedom shadow butterfly woman sunset

 

Related Articles

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In My Life / Jake Shimabukuro

 

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Selfie Me

“From where I’m sitting, I AM the centre of the Universe!”

― Sebastyne Young

 

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Andy Warhol was famous for saying that in the future we will all have our 15 minutes of fame. Well my friends the future is now and many people are already famous inside their own heads.

I am talking about that phenomena that’s sweeping the globe:

The Selfie.

selfie gif

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone, digital camera or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

I see more and more people doing this… MM calls it “selfing”.

And not just adorable little blondes with cutesy pink phones…people from all walks of life, actors, artists, men on the street, ladies of the evening, cats, babies and even presidents and leaders of people.

How did we get so obsessed with our own image?

The first selfies; born out of “necessity” for most of us.  Since the advent of social media and as more and more of us are becoming social online we need a profile pic.  It’s not something anyone really planned, it sort of just happened. We could blame Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook who thought of the world as one big yearbook with a sea of faces with which one could compare against each other and judge.  The selfie does predate Facebook and MySpace, where the term was first generally used.  Taking a photograph of oneself started with the invention of photography. It has only been lately that it has become an obsession for some, a joke to others. Whatever it is–it has become a part of our social landscape and our common global culture.

I am mysterious and sily
I am mysterious and silly and my table is messy.

Speaking for myself; I took my first one in the Autumn of 2012. I “needed” an updated Gravatar for this very same blog.  I was hesitant to ask anyone to take my picture because it sounded so weird and self-indulgent. ( Of course I am not one of those people.)  I snapped a few shots myself with my webcam, it was so easy. We are humans and social media is a place of social interaction between us.  Our faces convey so much to each other, so much emotion, feeling.  Many of our electronic communications are littered with emoticons.   Mere words cannot give the entire picture.

I am human
I am human

We have a need for each other.  A need to meet others to express thoughts and ideas. To be understood. To reach out and make that connection. To share ourselves with others.  Running the gambit of emotions; happiness to sadness and back again… from the amazing to the mundane.  We have a need to belong and to be looked upon favorably by our peers.   Selfies can be fun.  Some are very inventive and creative.  I don’t think they are necessarily a bad thing or a sign of the moral decay of our civilization and subsequent doom. I think they can be empowering for people and a way to boost self esteem.  There are  groups that embrace the idea of the selfie and encourage people to submit their own self portraits 365 days a year.  I have explored some of the submitted images. Some of it is quite artistic; there are talented photographers out there snapping pics of themselves every day.

Whoo-hoo!
Whoo-hoo!

The internet has put so much of our lives on display for one another. This puts the viewer of such display in the judges seat. It is tempting for anyone to judge given some of what we see and it’s easy to assume some find themselves on the short end of the comparison.  People’s opinions of each other unfortunately are swayed by appearance; the appearance of wealth, youth and good looks…the appearance of happiness….no one wants to look like a loser, or old or fat or bald or whatever.   Simply put, we care what other think about us and this very human truism is being played out on a grand scale throughout the digital world.

We call them selfies, we take them of ourselves but do they truly reflect our real selves?  I have seen quite a few of them and rarely are they realistic.

 

I Work out!

The selfie is a way for many to become the self they have always wanted to be.  I googled “selfie fails” and found a plethora of examples of Photoshop gone wrong. Men and women with obviously unrealistic bodies and faces, freakishly thin waists, bulging chests and completely unlined faces.   The pull is strong to want to doctor ones photos. I myself I am guilty of erasing a line or two here and there.  Who doesn’t want to be younger; to look 25 again? Who doesn’t want the perfect body and the perfect life?  We see them all the time…these people with the perfect everything.

The perfection hype we buy into is sold to us by the media.  The Joneses we are struggling to keeping up with don’t even exist.

The perfect job, mate and kids, the perfect parties and friends. These people go on exciting and exotic vacations with all the other beautiful people living perfect lives. We know this because we see it in their selfies. The ones they are nice enough to share with us so we can “like” them and comment; tell them how wonderful they are and how young they really do look. All accompanied by smiley faces and hearts.

o-WOMAN-SELFIE-570
LOVE ME!!!

 

Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?

Andy Warhol
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And we like them every time they put up a new one, every week even if it’s every day. Some people change theirs constantly; living a life in front of the tiny screen. Every minor event documented and accompanied by the same needy almost pleading stare. Just like anything else selfies can be addictive and perhaps that in itself is a sign of trouble–a cry for help.

sexy- selfie  -fails-chocolate-sauce
Watch out ladies it’s “Hot” Chocolate!

I also saw some other types of selfies on my googling adventure into this odd and narcissistic world. There were the funny ones, the amazing ones, the clever and cute ones, the silly duck faces and the ones with the bizarre backgrounds. But there were some sad ones as well. I was stricken by the number of photos taken by women, apparently mothers in bathrooms and other places with big mirrors posing for suggestive selfies in front of their small children.

...help
…help

I am a bit naive but this shocked me. It came off as desperate, so sad and lonely. And then I began to look at all the selfies in a different  light. Maybe they are not  just a sign of our collective narcissism and self-obsession, maybe there is something deeper; an underlying anxiety of separation, a feeling we are losing ourselves, the dissolution of the family unit. We are spending longer hours in the office, on the road, increasingly we are spending more and more time apart from each other.

Like me!
Like me!

We need to be accepted and understood. We need to be connected and have others think well of us.  Unfortunately this need to be liked and accepted maybe envied or idolized has become an obsession for some.

And maybe…just maybe, if we can have the perfect selfie we can get a little piece of that perfect life too…

As with everything else; nothing is all black or white…

…points to ponder…

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 Have yourself a wonderful day!

Nancy

 

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 “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”

~Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jean Baker in 1946, photographed by Andre de Dienes.
Norma Jean Baker in 1946, photographed by Andre de Dienes.
Related articles and items of interest

 

365 Days The Challenge: Take one self portrait each day for a year.   (Fickr group)

 

The selfie  (wikipedia.org)

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THE SELFIE SYNDROME (feeldesain.com)

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 Scientists link selfies to narcissism, addiction and mental illness  (trueactivist.com)

SHY

 

shy girl

 

“My feelings are too loud for words and too shy for the world.”

― Dejan Stojanovic

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I have always been shy. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn’t to some degree or another. It’s not just that I don’t know what to say or how to say it, I am afraid to say anything at all.

It is embarrassing and what’s even more embarrassing is that it is so evident. You can’t hide shyness, it is tough to cover. The shy person may look like everyone else on the outside but on the inside he or she doesn’t feel the same.

 

 

me at age 6 001 eyes

I remember when I first started kindergarten at age 4. It was my first exposure to a large group of other kids and it was very odd and surreal to me. Everyone seemed so at ease with being themselves. They could move around gracefully whereas I was clumsy. They knew what to say, I never did. I couldn’t understand how they could know what to say.

This was so evident from the very first day. I didn’t understand. It was as if these other kids had been told how to act or if they just knew instinctively.

In my whole school “career”  I never spoke up.  I never raised my hand or even  asked a question, not once. I would willingly take a lower grade in order to get out of public speaking.

All I could do was to try to blend into the background as best as I could. Most of the time it worked. At other times, it did not.  From time to time some idiot would make it a point of drawing attention to me and my shyness by making stupid and sarcastic comments about it always within earshot of a crowd . This was horrible and it only drew me more inward.

 

 

 

 

 

As an adult shyness has held me back from life. I remember so many instances when I felt I needed to speak up, to say something but so many times I never did.  I just let fate and circumstance dictate the direction of my life and to be brutally honest; I haven’t gone far.

Shyness has held me back in life. It has been an albatross around my neck and I want this to stop.

I am better today but it has taken a long time to get where I am now and I still have a long way to go…

quote lonesome in a crowd marilyn monroe

 

 

 

Shyness is a prison. It holds its captive in a state of the perpetual outsider even with one’s own family.  A shy person rarely makes friends with another, it is the other who must make friends first. For two mutual sufferers of this affliction to meet and later become friends is a very rare and beautiful occurrence indeed.

woman sitting on rock sunset shadow contemplation

 

Often shyness is mistaken for indifference, aloofness and downright coldness. I know when it is happening and I can feel it. There  seems to be a wall or some sort of  invisible barrier between myself and everyone else. It’s as if it is written on my face,  this social awkwardness. I suppose that is why I am telling you this painful embarrassing stuff about me.  There is always that one in the crowd, the one that stands a bit a part from everyone else, the one who is always left out of the loop, the one thought unapproachable and unfriendly, may be a warm soul who would love to make a friend but just doesn’t know how.   Shyness is not a choice. I do not choose to be this way. It has stunted my growth and my life and as I scramble to make up for lost time at 44 and I feel the need to call attention to the plight of the shy person.

So if you see one of us out there trying to blend into the background wearing an insecure scowl offer up a warm smile or a simple “hello”. This sort of thing spreads. Insecurity and shyness are often go hand and hand. If you see something wonderful in someone, tell them, perhaps they will recognize it too and eventually in time it will be they that say hello to you!

 

We all have own strengths and weaknesses, no one is perfect. It takes time to get to know someone but it is well worth that time. Shy, not shy…whatever. It is healthy to want to reach out, some of us just need a little help on what may come naturally to others. No one wants to be left out entirely.   We are all human with human needs and wants including friends.   That’s all. 

 

 

vintage-friends beach fun madness

 

 Have an excellent day!

Nancy 

 

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“If you’re an introvert, you also know that the bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain. As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. Or at school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell” -that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and some humans are just the same.”
― Susan Cain

 

Related articles

 

Pink Floyd – Outside the Wall (With Lyrics) 
Social Anxiety Disorder & Social Phobia–Symptoms, Self-Help, and Treatment (helpguide.org)

Your mountain is waiting…

 

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!” 
~Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

 

 

There it is. It looms large over me blocking my path, blackening out the sun and staring me straight in the face. It is icy cold and hard as rock and its jagged peak lies someplace beyond the clouds where I cannot see.  It sits outside my door haunting me…taunting me..whispering  “I am the way, I am salvation. I am the path to be followed and through me lies freedom.”  I can’t ignore it. I have tried that.  I have made excuses, I have lied to myself…I have even denied it’s existence but it is there just as it’s always been.

It is that very thing I think I cannot do that I must do. The very thing that blocks me. It is my mountain and it is mine alone to climb. No matter what I do in life, no matter what other mountains I may climb it is this one and this one alone that is essential; for by scaling its peaks I conquer myself and that can be a very steep climb indeed.

We all have our mountains,  some people seem to immediately recognize them and with no apparent effort at all bound right over them.  Most find theirs in time and slowly ascend and through trial and error, a  little luck and determination make it over the hump and on their way without too many bruises.  And then there are others like myself who for whatever reason have yet to begin the climb.

I suppose I am writing this for you, for us…for we that linger near base camp…looking to the sky at that damned mountain. Make any excuse you want. I think it’s fear; fear of the unknown…fear of failure…fear of looking like an idiot…fear of being myself…fear of dreaming, of risking, of trying and failing…of wanting and not getting.  Fear of not being enough….or too much. I have been hiding so long from what I thought was the world but in fact I think I’ve been hiding all this time from me.

And that mountain is me. It is myself that I must conquer.  It is all my faults and mistakes….my vulnerabilities that I must own along with the rest and it is those sweet bits of goodness that make it all worthwhile.  Many many years from now when I am on my deathbed reflecting back on my life it will be atop that mountain, wind in my hair, sun on my face and I will look down on all that was and know I did my best. And that’s all any of us can do…Stuff to ponder…

 

  Have an excellent day my friends,

Nancy

quote zen Mount-Haleakala-Hawaii     

 

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” 
~Andy Rooney

 

Mountain Sounds

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Of Monsters And Men – Mountain Sound 

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Led Zeppelin – Misty Mountain Hop – Live Madison Square Garden

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BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAINS – Harry Mac McClintock – 1928

Life is Art

There is beauty in the mundane. It is real. It is alive and it is in your face, yet sometimes we miss it all together. It’s easy to overlook the small and the so called insignificant; those everyday things we see all the time. The big picture can be looking us right in the eye, obscuring our vision as to the seemingly unimportant details. And it is in those details; intrinsic little flourishes that sit undetected in the plain open. It is that we must endeavor to see which makes the best art. 

Optimistic Sunflower and Bee. Credit N.L McKinley
Optimistic Sunflower and Bee. Credit N.L McKinley

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This art that is life. It is all around us.

 

 

 

 

Free Spirit Sara By N.L Mckinley
Free Spirit Sara By N.L McKinley

 

 

Whatever we seek in our hearts our eyes will find. Generally the experiences we have in life live up to our expectations. Life is beautiful when we can see beauty in it. Each moment is a masterpiece unto itself. A wondrous snapshot framed by time passing from the all powerful now into into the fondness of  memory.

 

 

Sky Pictures by N.L McKinley
Sky Pictures by N.L McKinley

Art engages the senses. It interests, it entertains, it delights and at times makes us think. It teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. Art makes us feel.  Art is life and life is art. It is anywhere and everywhere one looks for it. I have seen it in a flower that dare sprout in a crack in the sidewalk  and in the way the shadows of the maple leaves dance across my bedroom wall.  Art is contained  in the laughter of a friend, the optimism of a child and the smile of a stranger.

Art  dwells in the caws of the crows on a Sunday morning in May. It is the way the light shines in through the front window and straight into my eyes in the morning and just how good a cup of black coffee smells and tastes.  It’s “Ventura Highway” blaring on my neighbors radio outside and  Mario the cat sitting in the windowsill taking it all in stride.

There he is!  Mario my famous cat in all his glory.
There he is! Mario my famous cat in all his glory.

 

 

Art is the perfect toasted cheese sandwich, a cold glass of milk with a shiny red apple. Art is saying “I Love You” for the one millionth time and meaning it all the more.

It is out there just waiting to be appreciated…to be felt…to be acknowledged and embraced…to be lived.

 

Nancy

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free spirit woman colorful paint
Credit: Public Domain

 

 “Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.”

~Oscar Wilde

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 Artistic Sounds ala YouTube

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Norah Jones – If I were a painter

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Starry Starry Night-Don Mclean
My Colorful Imagination. in Colored pencil by N.L McKinley
My Colorful Imagination. in Colored pencil by N.L McKinley