Retro Tuesday 1-24-2023

 BY ATHLING2001

The Little Prince On Essential Matters

“Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.”

It seems to me knowing about butterflies, games, and the sound of somebody’s voice are much more important than knowing a weight, an age or even money.  Money doesn’t make friends, at least not the kind of friends I’d want. Frankly, I hate figures, whither it is a math problem or figuring out my checkbook.  Thank goodness for on-line banking so I no longer have to struggle monthly with the hell of balancing; I do much better checking my account daily and keeping the balance in my head.  That way, my math output is limited and that brings me happiness.

I am proud to say I never questioned my sons about their friend’s parents – unless it was to clarify in my mind I was thinking of the right persons. I never asked about weight or height.  I decided once another boy was not the appropriate friend and, covertly, gave my son’s regrets to his birthday party.  Realistically, my son was 7 or 8 and this boy cursed in ever sentence.  Not something I wanted my child around.

I don’t, however, remember asking about those essential matters.  What does essential mean?  According to the dictionary:

: extremely important and necessary

: very basic

We all know this.  The words isn’t unusual or vague.  But looking at the definition in black and white it struck me that essential matters are extremely important and yet very basic.  Food, clothes, shelter. A purposeful life and the ability to find happiness inside. Our health.  Family. Friends. Love. Peace.

It all boils down to balance.  Is my life balanced? Can I somehow find the fine line between my life, my work and my son’s still living at home.  Am I content in my work? Do I care about butterflies and voices and games?

Yes, yes, I believe I do.

Retro Tuesday 1-3-2023

 BY ATHLING2001

Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.

When I first read the quote above, I had no clue what it meant. I couldn’t form the words into any semblance of understanding. Then it hit me and I understood with every fiber of my being.  Like a bodyguard protecting a client, we hide our sadness behind anger.   Anger is our shield to protect us from exposing our emotions to the world.

So much of the world lives on the edge between sadness and happiness.  The cars and houses and huge TVs don’t bring the happiness expected.  Instead, sadness settles deep inside, a loss we might not even understand.  Because we won’t – or aren’t able – to admit the sadness at the center of our supposed ‘search for happiness,’ we pretend the sadness isn’t there.  We get angry at the people, events, and politicians, (add your own favorites) we ‘think’ are keeping us from the happiness we deserve.

The truth is, we aren’t entitled to ‘happiness’ just because we exist. Every one of us is responsible for tearing down our own shield of anger and confronting the reality of life. Is all the anger in the world just hiding sadness over lives failing to fulfill our own expected potential?

I lash out when I’m sad, trying to avoid some issues in my life.  I don’t like feeling out of control. The funny thing is, I know I’m hiding but I can’t help myself.  It’s easier to blame the world than to admit to the sadness settled inside me. It takes me a few hours, or days, to talk myself around to admit the sadness hiding behind my armor.

If I am sad over a bill, with no clue where to find the money to pay,  I get angry. If only I had a better paying job; didn’t have to support my (adult) kids; if my mortgage company hadn’t screwed over some perceived slight.  You get the picture.

We all struggle with these feelings every day. It’s the ostrich head in the sand syndrome.  If I don’t acknowledge the problem, it just might go away. I might win the lottery (if I played) or I might find a fortune in my attic (fat chance). Or I might just wind my way around to acknowledging my anger and dealing with the problem head-on.  It doesn’t matter if I come up with an acceptable solution – such as where to get the money – I’ve confronted the issue.  That alone gave me the peace needed to calmly and logically deal with the problem.

What if we could strip away the anger of the world, and banish every shred guarding the sadness of an entire planet? What would be left for every man, woman, and child?  Sadness. And then what if we acknowledged the sadness, every one of us on the entire planet. What if nobody felt out of control?

What would our planet look like then?

Retro Thursday 12-29-2022

“MEN HAVE NO MO…

“Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

So said the fox.  The Little Prince did tame the fox and thus they were connected.  “…If you tame me, we shall need one another. To me, you will be unique. And I shall be unique to you…. My life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Others send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music,” said the fox. 
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince  

We have accomplished so much in this world – cars and planes and computers.  Skype.  Cell Phones.  Instant Messaging.  Each of these inventions have succeeded in shrinking our world into smaller and smaller and smaller bits – including the ‘spaces’ between us, our houses, our lives, our countries.  Yet the chasms that exist in this world yarn wider than ever before.  We’re too busy playing computer games, surfing Facebook,  Ebay or any other site that has drawn us in, ensnared us, that many of us have lost the sense of the world beyond it’s lit screen.  Is being ‘tamed’ by the internet really a connection?  How does this life make us unique to one another? 

Instead of sitting on a hill with family or friends to watch a sunset, we look at a picture somebody posted on Facebook.  By ourselves.  Want new shoes?  Buy them online and avoid the crowds and hassle and the personal interaction with the sales people. Order groceries online?  You don’t have to even speak to anybody.  Want to see a movie?  No need to go to the theater.  Just order it online and watch it in the privacy of your own home.  Want a vacation?  Forget the rush of the sea or the cool of the mountains.  Plan a staycation instead and spend your time surfing, each member of the family cut off in their own space.

At what cost have we grown into this new world?  What small pleasures are hidden in the darkest shadows which we never now see and what is lost when our interactions scroll endless through pixels and numbers and cables across thousands of miles that make us feel so close when we’re really not.  No one, especially me, is insisting that the days before these inventions were the absolute ‘good old days,’ but perhaps we have lost something that shouldn’t have been allowed to vanish.

Said the Little Prince to the snake:

“No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

My wish is that someday we can all be ‘unique in all the world’ to each other.

Retro Tuesday 12-20-2022

Response Reena’s Exploration Challenge Week 43 7-3-2018

Reena’s Exploration Challenge

 I am keeping it simple this week with a picture prompt.

Mary Shelley - Literary Witches

Image Credit: Mary Shelley


The prospect of death didn’t frighten him. He knew his family would grieve, but he’d be dead so he wouldn’t know or, by that time, care. Dead was dead. Period. None of that idiotic coming back as a bug if you hadn’t lived your life right; thought what was meant by ‘right’ was a question in itself. No angels blowing the trumpets with Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, pointing either up or down.

How could he? There was no heaven and no hell. No monster wreaking havoc upon a fellow for the rest of eternity.

Dead. Was. Dead. Period.

His mother was dead. His father. Aunts and uncles, maybe some nieces or nephews. Come to think of it, there wouldn’t be anyone to grieve him anyway.

Good. He despised moaning and wailing, but even more so, quiet tears. Tombstones. Flowers.

Lord, deliver him from flowers on his grave. Stinking, wilting, browning, ugly flowers.

Lord, just give him oblivion.

That wasn’t so much to ask, was it?

Death came quickly at the end, though it had taken years of pain and suffering to reach that end. Laying in his hospital bed, frail and broken and done. There was nothing else he wanted besides death. He just closed his eyes one day and was gone.

Did he reach the Pearly Gates? Did he turn into a bug? Was he roasting for eternity or living on a fluffy cloud somewhere in an invisible realm? No one knows and no one will ever know. Death is like that, personal for each and every one of us, a creeping blackness closing slowly in from the first in-drawn breath.

If you see him after, you might ask, but you might not. Probably won’t. There are a thousand miles of darkness in death. How likely you’d find one soul in a million.

But, it doesn’t matter. Maybe he was right. Maybe there is nothing. Maybe….

It doesn’t matter. Just close your eyes and sleep.

Everything will be over in the morning.

Retro Tuesday 12-13-2022

 BY ATHLING2001

Question of the Day 9-20-2018

Please feel free to answer these questions on your blog or in the responses. If you leave me a link to your post, I will re-post it on my blog. You can also feel free to forward these questions to anybody who might be interested. Thank you to those who have already shared their thoughts.


When, if ever, is anger appropriate and when, if ever, is it wrong?

The dictionary defines anger as:

Anger, fury, indignation, rage imply deep and strong feelings aroused by injury, injustice,wrong.

Anger is the general term for a sudden violent displeasure: burst of anger.

Indignation implies deep and justified anger: indignation at cruelty or against corruption.

Rage is vehement anger: rage at being frustrated. 

Fury is rage so great that it resembles insanity: the fury of an outraged lover.

~https://www.dictionary.com/browse/anger

If a person doesn’t want a black boy going to school with a white girl and, when he does, feels angry….. is that appropriate? By whose belief system? Are we talking universal right or wrong, anger or not, or personal?

So, what if the black boy hits the white girl?

But then again….would anger be okay if the white girl hit him?

How about if your child, any race, any color, is targeted by a another student or a teacher?

Somebody rear ends your car?

Your boss writes you up for somebody else’s mistake?

Your boss writes you up for your own mistake, but you feel the write-up is unfair?

The mechanic said your car would be ready at 3:00. It is 6:00 and they haven’t even started?

Opening a letter, you give yourself a paper cut?

The toaster won’t pop back up and free your toast?

Your husband or boyfriend forgets your birthday?

The grocery store is out of milk.

Your computer locks up and loses the first half of your manuscript? Or play. Or artwork. World of Warcraft mission.

In every moment of our lives, things happen to trigger anger. It is not so much whether the anger is right or wrong. The question is how you respond to the situation. If you respond randomly to anything and everything with anger, you’ve got a problem. If you respond to nothing with anger, you still have a problem.

Somewhere in-between is a narrow line which we all struggle to walk.

Maybe the better question would be whether your anger enhances your life or traps you in a downward cycle of hate and hurt.

A friend forgets your lunch date? Appropriate? Maybe at the moment, but will it matter tomorrow? Oh, if he or she always forgets plans, then yes, anger away. But remember, you have no control over his or her actions, only over how you respond. Would it be better to just move on? She probably doesn’t even realized she forgot your plans, so who is your anger hurting?

Does it help you to get angry at the grocery clerk who doesn’t have the milk, the letter which gave you a paper cut? Your computer when it loses information?

Okay, anger in the case of the computer would be justified, but who is your anger going to hurt? The computer doesn’t care. And if you damage the computer in some way, who suffers?

If you live with anger than you live IN anger. All the time. Over everything and nothing. When you feel slighted or forgotten or misunderstood. Anger begets anger. Anger can  move mountains for good or evil. Anger can build or destroy, free or enslave, create or destroy.

The question, then, is how do you want to live with the anger in your life? As a creator or destroyer?

 “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” 

― Aristotle

Retro Tuesday 11-29-2022

 BY ATHLING2001

House of Fear

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“You can’t leave your fears behind,’ he’d said, “until first you live inside them. You have to live inside your house of fear.”― Steve Rasnic Tem, Deadfall Hotel

When typing the above quote (all right, cutting and pasting), the phrase ‘house of fear’ jumped out at me like a bolt of lightning. Living inside your House of Fear seemed a dangerous proposition. Who, after all, wants to live with their fears on a daily basis? And what, exactly, is my House of Fear?  What would lay within its walls? Would it be dark and spooky, like a haunted house, or stark and lifeless with six equal sides, a square of fear? Perhaps well lived-in. Perhaps not. I have, after all, had many years for fears to accumulate, drifting into the cracks and crevices of my life, lost beneath the furniture of my mind- a dusty chair, an unmade bed, a table upon which the book of my life rests.

So what do I fear? What ghosts linger there? I fear rejection, both personally and as a writer. What if I am not strong enough, bold enough, to record the lives of the ghosts whispering in my ear. Spiders – though I am much better now. Opening up to let others inside.  Never trusting again because one person decided it was okay to lie and treat me like I was nothing. Ending up like my mother, locked in a body that, inch by inch, took her life long before she died. My kids never learning how to be responsible adults. Hate and violence engulfing the world. What, then, am I not afraid of?

I am not afraid of dying though, as the saying goes, I don’t want to go today. I am not afraid of having less than nothing in my bank account. I’ve been there and you just have to let it go. I am not afraid of being alone. I know how strong I am, how much I crave being responsible for my own life. I do not fear petty, mean-spirited, people because I know their attitude is their problem and has nothing to do with me. Of course, I could list all the fears I’ve ever had in my life and all the fears I have overcome but we would be here forever. Life is learning to face your fears and becoming stronger for each battle. Do fears leave the house once they no longer linger in my subconscious? Yes and no. They turn invisible and, while mostly they slip away, a tiny misty form remains, ready to spring back to life at any unguarded moment. 

What is your House of Fear?

Retro Tuesday 11-29-2022

Living In The Moment

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“When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions – such as merit, such as past, present, and future – our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.”
― Peter Matthiessen

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is to live in the moment.  It’s easy to get ‘mired in the relative world,’ caught in the mundane day-to-day living and forget the paradise from which we were expelled as we grew from children to adults.  Children live in the Now, no divide between the real and fantasy.  After all, children are the ones who believe by simply stepping into a forest, they enter another world.  Children believe in ghosts and fairies and Santa Claus. They believe in the goodness of the world because they have never been taught the bad.  I am, of course, speaking generally here as I know there are many children who are never allowed this kind of childhood.  Even these children often live in fantasy, believing – hoping – that the one who abuses them loves them.

I understand the need for ‘words and ideas and abstractions’.  We need these to survive in today’s world, but as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes said, “I go to school, but I never learn what I want to know.”  Where do children learn love and kindness and compassion?  These traits are of the Now.  Nobody learns love or compassion or kindness in the past or the future.  And if they don’t learn these things as children, Now, where will they?

The world’s sadness comes from not living in the Now.  We expect children to grow and become responsible, to forget the magical world of childhood, instead learning geometry and history and government.  Important, yes, but why not art and theater and day-dreaming, too?  The past is gone, never to be retrieved.  The future will never come.  All we have is each moment to exist in all the glory of the world, to come to know not only our own souls, but the soul of the world.

I believe we are all connected, deep down in our souls.  We are one, you and I and the mountains and rocks and trees and animals.  Science has gone a long way to proving this.  After all, we are all made from the same building blocks of the universe: us, nature, chairs, tables, the food we eat.  Children instinctively understand this.  As adults, we have forgotten.  We spend hours immortalizing vacations, children’s games, birthdays, Christmas, in photos instead of moving the camera from our vision to see the beauty now, moment to moment as it unfold.  We run from our emotions, hiding them to avoid the pain, pretending our lives are full and happy and whole.

I know my life is not full and happy and whole when I am living in the past or the future. So how do we remember to take each moment as it comes?

Retro Tuesday 11-22-2022

 BY ATHLING2001

Hearts are breaking…

 

Yesterday, I came home from work to find my mother has been placed under Hospice Care.  She has suffered Parkinsons for many years, slowly moving further and further away into a world far beyond our reach. I have watched her turn inward, slowly losing the ability to walk, then stand, to move or feed herself.  She suffered hallucinations of trespassers living behind the shed; my Dad dating other women; imaginary people in the house.  And always that she wasn’t home.  Hallucinations, the doctors assured my father, caused by her medicines.

Day by day, she wasted away, thinner and more inward each time I visited. What was the point of ‘going home’ if it wasn’t really home?  No place could be home without my mother, even the house in which I’d lived until I married. Regardless of the fact she and I fought throughout my childhood and adolescence, me to break free and her to mold my life to her expectations, no place felt like home without her.

When I became an adult and learned to live with manic depression, and she learned to let go, we became friends.  She was my strongest supporter.  No matter when I called or what I called about, she listened.  Going through years of marriage and an inevitable divorce, she listened.  She never had harsh words, at least in front of me.  Now she is leaving slowly, bit by bit, day by day, a frozen statue of herself.

Nobody in the family bore any illusions Mom would ever get better.  You don’t get better from Parkinsons.  Betrayed by her body, she lives locked in a prison from which there is no escape.  At first, her mind remained, but that too has faded, gone just as her ability to speak, open her eyes, or stand.

My Father took care of her at home until he fell ill and ended up in the hospital.  I was charged with getting Mom into respite care, a horrible decision, but the only one available.  She couldn’t care for herself and, even if my sister or I could stay at the house until Dad was better, we were barely able to lift her out of the bed on her final day at home.  Days later, Dad came home from the hospital.  We all knew that she wouldn’t be going home with him.  Caring for her exhausted him to the bone, leaving him with no strength or ability to do so anymore.

On the hour journey from the house-that-was-no-longer-home to the Assisted-Living Faculty, she cried only once.  I had been afraid she would cry the entire time, but soon discovered her silence and the knowledge I alone was taking her to the place she had always feared, hurt even worse.  All during her illness, she feared being left and forgotten in a nursing home.  And here I was taking her there.

The first week or so at the faculty, she ate and responded normally.  When I visited, she cried.  The only words able to stop the tears was my promise to take her home as soon as Dad was strong again.  But I won’t.  She won’t ever go home again.  Her last ride will be in the back of a hearse as she goes back to the town that was her home for so many years, to the friends and family grieving her loss.

She stopped responding to anything this past week.  She’s stopped eating.  She’s given up.  I can feel it in her.  So many words have never  been said.  The last time she responded to me, I told her, I promised her, I would take her home when Dad was ready.  I told her that I loved her.  I told her that I missed her so much.  Her thin, frail, fingers clutched mine as I held her hand, almost as if she was telling me she understood.  Now if only I understood.

Retro Tuesday 11-15-2022

 BY ATHLING2001

How Do you Kill a Monster without Becoming One….

As the story told itself, it switched around some on the actual prompt, but that’s okay. I let it go where it wanted to go. Let the speaker use his own voice which is nothing like mine. And nothing like my normal writing. But it was fascinating to watch the words flow.

———-

It ain’t easy.  That much is for sure.  Been a long time since I killed anything but back in the day….. yeah…. back in the day…..

It came for me when I was 15.  Thought I was tough then, I did.  Big swagger as I walked down the street.   Tough words.  Angry words.  Ugly words.  Funny how when you’re young you think those things make you tough.  Don’t take me wrong.  I was a scrapper.  I’d been in any number of street fights.  All my life.  Thought that made me tough, too.  How little I knew.

It came on a Monday.  I was home.  Had to be.  My little sister was there.  Didn’t like to leave her alone at night.  Not if I could help it.  We had day-old hot dogs for dinner.  A dented can of baked beans.  Marshmellow fluff. 

Lived in a series of rooms. Used to be offices when the building was a warehouse. One central room with a hotplate, couple broke-back chairs. A table. A radio. Another room with two mattresses on the floor. A bathroom that worked. Barely. But enough for water to clean and cook. I’d installed locks on the doors. Kept us safe so far. Then again, I wasn’t asleep yet.

Been years now. Too many. Never did find my little sister. I looked for her sometimes. All the times. That face in the crowd. A voice across a street. A dream of before I’d become a monster. But now… now I am old. Haven’t killed in years.

Weren’t killing that’d made me a monster. No. Abandoning her did. Ran when the Government people finally tracked us down. Gonna take us into the system. Foster homes. Schools. The ‘right’ life. Couldn’t take that. And so I ran.

She screamed. Begged. Tears. Never did forget that. Never did forget the sound of tears. Sound rang in my ears the rest of my days. Still there now. But it’s gonna be gone soon.

Soon. Another breath. Two. Another tear. I’ll no longer be a monster.