Once upon a time, there were kings who wore bold crowns and royal robes that draped their bodies, dragging behind them as they walked the halls of their castles. You knew them by their clothing. They commanded armies of men, hundreds or thousand strong, ready to go war, freely spilling their blood. Uniforms carefully delineated with certain colors and styles. Everyone in their place. Genghis Khan anyone?
Crowns, Hats, & Applause
We still have crowns, hats, and applause to show us where we stand in the line of royalty. Just look around and it’s usually not too difficult to tell. The difference now is you now decide if you care enough to listen. There’s a falseness to most applause. The cheer is meant to herd you in the direction that pleases someone else. It doesn’t take me to the top of the mountain that I’m trying to climb. So boo or cheer all you want. I’m not a rebel in black or cute little girl in pink either. Check out I’m Not Good. Just a person with a vision.
Life is a series of false horizons
“But Life in general is just a series of false horizons and you never really feel like you got it all under control…. specially when you’re in an uncertain entrepreneurial career…. you really just don’t know what’s next….”Ed Helms – Off Camera
Are you feeling lost in your life? Remember your purpose. Even if it’s just a small step, start going in that direction again. I once heard a writer say, he didn’t mind if he hadn’t made it to the big times yet, as long as each choice he made brought him in closer to his goal.
Almost everyone has a fish story and it’s usually not about the fish that got away. No, the tale they bemoan is the about the fish they caught or the one they stayed with and they probably should have thrown back. Relationships, jobs, towns they stayed at because they were familiar and they’ve always lived there. These are my thoughts today. Should we follow a whim? Take a chance? And what if it doesn’t work out? And like me, have you forgotten how to have fun?
In most towns, there’s a carnival our kids drag us to. We spend a ton of money to gorge on fried snickers, cotton candy, funnel cakes, popcorn, and we often end up carrying around a couple of half dead goldfish in a clear plastic bag. Junior won them. Way to go little tyke! So here we are in line at the superstore, the cashier’s ringing up your purchases. The tank, food, gravel, and water purifier are all yours for a grand total of $50.00. Charlie, fish number one might live through the first day. You’ve got a decision to make. Buy another fish to replace Charlie or let the whole episode die of natural causes?
Most of us, including me, are not good at taking off on a whim. Quick changes. If I have a hankering for ice cream in the middle of the night, I’ll usually ignore it and go back to sleep. But there are some people I know that would go to the extreme, beyond even the ice cream in the middle of the night. I know a person who if they felt the urge to go skiing, and if there were ski slopes available, would drive across country, just on the whim. They could ski just one day, and be good to go back to work when they came home. And here I can barely get myself out of the house to take out the garbage.
I’m really not talking about goldfish. Life is expensive. Someone once told me, having a car costs. One way or another you’re going to pay for having the luxury of driving. Whether you repair it if it’s used or if you buy it new and pay for its newness. Truthfully all of life is that way. That $50.00 will be spent somewhere, whether you spend it on the goldfish or on pizza. The choice is where do you want to spend it.
My question is, what is this costing me? Every day that I sit and not act on an urge and every time that I suppress a desire to play and I choose to work instead, what is this costing me? Sometimes when you’re just putting up with stuff, you’re only taking the easy way out. If something is continually chafing you in a situation, it’s a good sign that it’s time to change. It might be time to cut our losses and get out.
How much does it cost?
Thanks to Christi for the goldfish inspiration – if you’re reading, you know who you are!
Some phrases are forever linked in my mind. Some memories flash as bright as neon lights. Every single time someone makes the statement I’m not having a birthday, I think, I want to grab as many birthdays as I can. I just had another birthday and even though it was a big one I’m not depressed about it. I enjoyed the day talking with my family.
Several years back some friends I knew had a sudden tragedy. The week before the husband had seemed in good health. He’d celebrated his birthday with his wife and stepdaughter and even joked about not growing older. No more birthdays, he’d said. Of course it was all said in jest as he cut the cake and blew out the candles. We all say these things. We don’t mean to stop living. The next week after attending Sunday evening church services, this man and his family went home. He was hungry for a fried egg sandwich. While his wife got the pan and put it on the stove, the man stopped still, and he grabbed his chest. He said he didn’t feel so well. Before the ambulance got to the house, he was dead.
I’m not saying that he caused his death. That’s superstition. People say silly things all of the time. I’m saying that the phrase “No more birthdays” is linked in my thoughts forever to fried egg sandwiches. Every time I cook an egg I remember to be grateful to be alive because on that night he didn’t get to enjoy kissing his stepdaughter goodnight. I remember. She looked lost and sad that night as I sat beside her. Birthdays are for the living, and I’ll take as many as I can get!
Birds in the parking lot freak me out. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home the other day. I was in a rush because I needed to file an insurance claim on my car, pick up a birthday present for my mom, plus it was 100 degrees outside and I only wanted to go home. I’m trying to decide which item to check off on my list first when I see this big-eyed bird staring at me. Correction. Big-eyed-opportunistic-looking bird. He’s watching and waiting.
One lone bird and my thoughts are, why are you here? Of all of the places to be, this is not where I’d pick. There’s a park just 50 feet across the street, but this bird is in the middle of the stinking pavement with chaos and honking cars. Alone. Then I realize, we are similar creatures.
People rarely move far from their birthplace. So before I go judging the bird’s choices, maybe I should take a closer look at my own. Still, this bird looks creepy.
There are a lot of gripe worthy, fist in the air episodes in life these days. And it doesn’t take much to strike a flame it seems. Show me the video of the eight-year-old sitting in the vice principal’s office, with the sheriff handcuffing him to the chair. Why? The child’s bad behavior. I’ll start the riot myself. I would have been that child, believe me, kicking and screaming also.
When it comes to injustices in this world, I’m not one who sits idly by to put up with them. That’s why it’s a relief to see the good, the beautiful, and the things that are going right. Take a look at these two inspirations. The first is a man who has changed the world. The other is a video just for you.
Truthfully, I don’t know where to start, so I’ll start with this quote from his website,
2014 Nobel Peace Kailash Satyarthi, as a grassroots activist, he has led the rescue of over 80000 child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation.
The work that this man does and those that he works with is some of the most amazing work I’ve ever seen. When I was reading of his work, I wondered when he stopped. When did he eat? I read through his interview and I could hear his passion and his zeal and I could feel that same feeling as I think of that child sitting in the chair in the vice principal’s office. Kailash Satyarthi started in a similar way. He saw one boy sitting and waiting for work and he wondered why this boy was not in school. Here’s the link to the Fareed Zakaria GPS audio interview. The following quote is from his interview in the Huffington Post. I’m in awe of the passion that flows through him.
By conferring the Nobel Prize on Malala and I, the Nobel Committee has recognised one of the most pressing yet neglected issues of our times. Millions of children still remain invisible, voiceless and unheard. During the last few weeks, their suffering has got unprecedented attention by the law makers, judiciary and civil society not only in India but worldwide.
Childhood protected and nurtured will yield superior global human capital, while wasted childhood will erode all prospects of a promising tomorrow. Our tomorrow will be as good or as bad as how and what we do about our children today!!! – Huffington Post
It’s a Janet thing. Or a more accurate title would be, it’s an experimental thing, but I just change it up quickly.
Success comes from trying and then trying again. Sometimes it seems you’re just banging your head against the wall, or spinning your wheels in the mud. I remember a time when I was about seven years old. My dad had an old red pickup truck that we drove on the farm. We had 100 acres of bottom land, and by bottom land I mean we lived right beside the river and parts of the land flooded when it rained. The mud seemed to suck your tires into the earth like an underground tornado. Hopeless.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. – Scott Adams
I learned from watching Dad that it’s better to change tactics. Don’t keep spinning your wheels in the mud hoping to get out of the mud. You’ll only dig deeper in. If you notice that something isn’t right, if the feel is off, do it different. So I did. If the dress is too tight or the shoes pinch my toes, I don’t stand around and whine about it, I change them. I’m not happy in tight shoes. And I wasn’t happy with my book cover or title, so I changed them.
Like many women, by the time I’m finished dressing for an event, I have a pile of clothing on my bed that didn’t get picked. I also have several titles for my book that didn’t get selected. And since nothing happened that first week–I bet you didn’t even notice–as a woman’s prerogative, I pressed the reset button. Sigh. I love the modern world.
This week we filled the sky with waving flags, but it isn’t until next week that my country celebrates its independence from British rule. This week had its own colors and controversies, as many have noticed.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it once again. As a child, I’d walk naively, without the knowledge of borders, not understanding the concept of North side and West side. It’s only as adults that we learn where we supposedly belong or don’t belong. I’d walk inside and outside with a large mirror in my arms, facing upwards so I could only see the ceiling. I liked the openness, the uncluttered feeling. There are moments that I still feel the wild child inside of me stir. She gets restless and wants to run and be free, hating the constraints of the 9 to 5, the should of the day-to-day life. Living in this society means coming to terms with the borders and the rules placed by civilization, but it doesn’t mean being completely tamed. We are never meant to be slaves.
I believe human conventions, pre-conceived notions, religion and the world’s cacophony do not stifle creativity, neither should they. Rather they serve as breaking ground manifestations of the limitless parlay of ideas floating the grand mass called ‘space.’- CLNgwe-Nwi A Multi-faceted Creative from her About me page
Life is untamable. Life is wild. Unpredictable. There are no permanent borders. No true boundaries. We try so hard to put up fences. To keep out the bad guys. To grasp on to what we love. But it’s not possible. Somewhere in there is righteous reasoning, but if we aren’t careful, we become like the zealots who kill everything good. We kill instead of healing. There’s a line that get’s crossed, and it has nothing to do with a flag or a country. It has no heritage involved. There are no lasting borders, only love and hate. No flag representing a heritage of shame should fly. Put it in a museum with the other items of shame. But let’s not wave our dirty laundry on the top of a flag pole for all the world to see. Please, America. Let’s have some modesty.
Should we discuss IQ? It seems to be a sensitive subject to some. A while back, during a casual chat on social media, I got into a discussion about intelligence. Bad move on my part. No cookies for me! A teacher mentioned that she noticed her lower IQ’d students sat quietly and didn’t run around crazily like the higher IQ students. Exit Janet from the scene.
Sitting still is not a quality that I either encourage or discourage. Sitting still is not the goal. It has its moments. To do it for me, yes. I learn and listen in silence. In stillness, I can go inside and find the truth I need. It gives the moment to think about what I want to do for the day, to plan, to daydream, to think even about where something went wrong in the past. Where did I get off track? What did I really want? Can I fix it? Should I fix it?
At some point, I have to end these Facebook debates because Facebook is not the place, and hijacking a friend’s post to make a point is just plain rude. I can grandstand and soapbox here, on my blog, all day long. And if it bores anyone they can move on. It’s fair that way.
I raise my glass to the restless ones. To those that can’t sit still. What keeps them going? Money? Guts? Audacity? What keeps you going? Here are a few of my favorites, but there are so many more inspiring people, restless people. Please leave yours in the comments. I’d love to hear who you think should be honored.
Quite honestly I’d love for someone to stroke my ego all day and listen to me spout my poetry or listen to me boast. If I was never booed or hissed or disagreed with, I might think I was the most brilliant orator in the world. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, Living With Brothers, if all the people in the audience were mothers, we would never come to the truth of ourselves. The real world teaches us that our breath stinks sometimes and that we have to speak up to be heard. We also learn that if we want something desperately enough then we might have to elbow our way to the front. No one in their right mind is going to pay you for something they can get free.
He doesn’t exist. It’s a beautiful story of love and charity, but the evidence of his existence isn’t there. THERE’S NO LAND ON THE NORTH POLE! No houses, no elves, no reindeer, no toy shops, nothing but air and water in the form of ice exists on the north pole.
Saint Nicholas was real a person, but his story grew into the legend of Santa Claus then morphed into a fantasy. It makes me wonder. Is this what happens to the others? As in legends of Robin Hood and Marco Polo? I grew up believing that Marco Polo was a living, breathing man, not just the threads of a story that had been told and retold until they came to be a full-blown legend. But that’s the magic of a story. And of how it can grow.
There is ancient belief that if you tell a belief well enough and say it often enough you can create a Tulpa out of your story, giving it life. It’s almost a truth isn’t it? Maybe not as in bringing a true Frosty the Snowman to life or bringing a Santa Claus to a land of toys, but we almost have created an industry ran from just that type of story telling.
My Dad’s Tale
I was at the folks back in January and they were telling about growing up. Dad was talking about his dad being afraid of taking a government loan to buy land when he could have owned his own property. And he told a story about a “Balking Horse.” His dad had just purchased two horses, Duke and Dan, with some money he’d borrowed, for pulling the wagon for gathering his corn. They were renting some property on Grand River along White Horn Cove in Wagoner County Oklahoma. Dan was the horse that would “balk” and wouldn’t move and dad’s dad would get so furious he’d almost kill it by beating him. They’d load the wagon with the corn, then start moving forward, then the horses would stop because Dan would refuse to move. Then all the corn would fall out and they’d have to reload it. It happened several times until finally I guess Grandpa gave up and they went to get another horse they had. I can almost feel the sweat and the heat. Those good ol’ days.
A story tells so much. After listening to my dad, I realized he had some of the same frustrations that every generation has with their parents. Some he stated aloud, but some he didn’t. He never talks much about his childhood, but one thing has always stood out to me, he believes in this story – his dad should have bought some land. His dad should have borrowed the money, worked for something, gave something to his boys and somehow built something even if it meant being in debt to the government for a while. How do I know this? It’s not just this story, it’s his life also. My dad went into debt and built something, then was frustrated when his sons weren’t interested. Isn’t that how it always goes?
What if we changed our culture? What if we no longer applauded great wealth at any cost? What if we applauded generosity, compassion, and forgiveness? Yes, it’s easy for me to say these things since I’m not wealthy, but I’m not alone in saying them.
Malcolm is targeting the systems we’ve built, the truths we hold so dear and the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we can produce some more heroes. – Seth Godin in review of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.
At the age of 14, Hugh Evans spent a night with cockroaches crawling all over him. That experience turned out to be life-changing for Evans, now 30. Far removed from his comfortable home in Australia, he traveled to the Philippines with an aid organization that set him up with a host family. Their home was in Smokey Mountain, a teeming slum in Manila. A boy in the family, Sonny Boy, was the same age as Evans. The disparity between their lives struck him hard. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/05/could-you-live-on-a-dollar-a-day/
In some circles we have improved. But there are enough sub-pockets in our culture that keep the generosity movement bogged down. We are a generous nation and so are people all over the world. You can see groups which care about cleaning up oil spills, those concerned about animal endangerment, and many are helping provide clean water for those in need. But we need to start at the bottom, at the base of society. Our desires. Our ambitions. Our vision of ourselves. There is a level of crud and corrosion that we must clean or we will all drown. We envy and want great wealth because we are afraid. I am afraid. If I don’t get that job, that bonus, that raise, that particular car, I’m afraid I will starve. I will perish. I will not exist anymore. I feel jealous, unloved and abandoned. Over an iPhone that I didn’t get. It’s ridiculous. My whole mindset needs rearranged. I live in a rich country. So rich that I have never missed a meal because of lack. Others around me live the same and yet we feel poor because we don’t have cable television. Or internet. Or whatever latest gadget that someone else has.
There’s an experiment going on all across the world now, or I should say it’s a conversation. It’s called by a variety of names, but in essence it’s living at the poverty level for days or months, voluntarily.
The next post in the continuing frugal gastronomy series features a pair of schoolteacher-writers who gave themselves the toughest of all restrictions: All their food had to cost no more than $1 per day per person. Amazingly, if they invited guests over to eat, the guests’ food had to be covered by the $1 allotment. You’d have to really like the guest, I suppose.
Once again, I’ll repeat: Eating on a budget is not a contest; it’s a conversation.
Help your local homeless shelter or food pantry. If you don’t know if one exists in your town call your town council or a YMCA.
Help to change attitudes one person at a time. Start small. Show them how changing one life makes a difference. Immigrants and the homeless aren’t nameless or faceless. They are people. They are you and me. They hurt. They dream. They cry. They smile.
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