Thumbing It

thumb-typingI am sitting here in Extremely Short Burst Activity Land (ESBAL) jabbing both thumbs continuously at my little iPhone, shooting out this message to you. I excel in short burst activities because they are easy–you have a sense of accomplishment and you can exercise your thumbs.

One of the first business seminars I ever attended taught me that your life can be eaten up by short burst activities. You think you are accomplishing all manner of great things and you are actually doing little more than sending emojis to your pet. Your overall goals are obfuscated in the mad but happily satisfying dust cloud of activity you are in.Their advice, in 1976, was to take the long view. Set achievable goals and then break down big activities into enough do-able short burst activities so that there is a mind behind your project, not just adrenaline. I don’t think they had any idea just how trapped in ESBAL we would be in 2017.

Yet, my jabs are the way I feel this morning–erratically anxious about the world and my place in it–and happy to translate that into punctuated thumb jabs. I used to be old school and wrote in a journal book with a pen, no less, and often had a hard time reading what I wrote because I always wrote on the bus and let’s be honest, our infrastructure isn’t what it used to be. Now I can read what I write as long as I can understand spellcheck speak. For instance I just jabbed out, “Now I van ride when I eriyf.”

Isn’t spellcheck wonderful? Do they even call it spellcheck any more? Or have they renamed it something catchier like Icorrect or ffydj fudge?

Do you think my thoughts would flow better if I just took out my old pen and let this blog roar out from its tip; stretch my whole arm and wrist and really write, instead of hunching my shoulders and using the tiny brain I have at the tips of my thumbs?

Let’s try. I’m putting my phone away. I’m taking out my pen. I’m writing. (Later retyped because this blog site doesn’t accept cursive.)

I’m writing! I’m actually writing with a pen! I’m still on the bus! I’m still writing! And this is pretty hurky jerky. On the other hand it at least is one long connected thing; not put together from my typewriter head, or a thumb jab, letter by letter.  With this handwriting, my letters and words literally flow together. The ink feels a bit magical like this wise liquid which someone has engineered to come out of the tip of this pen. And I have to say that the feeling of its flowing while I manipulate it is pleasurable.

I think I am less adamant in ink, need less acknowledgement, because the pleasure of the page permanently accepting this change in its chemistry, wrought by me, is acknowledgement all by itself.  Also there is permanence. This hard copy page has been changed forever. I even feel less short bursty. I look out the window. The river is beautiful. The ice is breaking up and there’s a blue greenness at the base of each ice flow that has not yet risen to its crusty white top. With a pen I have time to notice these things. Somehow, I notice less when my thumbs are leading the way.

Jeez. I’m going to have to re-type all of this from my sometimes illegible journal page.

We’ve crossed the bridge, we’re two minutes from the train now. Better put the journal and pen back in my backpack for the ride. But what a nice respite. Dreamy. In the flow.

Almost there, but my phone beckons. My thumbs itch.

I long to be tapping. As if my thumbs were in charge.

Damn it to hell! Let’s face it, we’re all thumbs.

lsiheno9fnei. hardisordifronchicex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Day and other Words that Turn

noisemakers

Happy New Year.

Well, maybe this year, we should work on something more realistic. How about, Happy New Day?

Not that I don’t expect you to have a great year. It’s just ‘Happy New Year’ is biting off a whole lot more than anyone can reasonably chew at one time. As Jonathan Larsen reminded us, there are 525,600 minutes in a year. There are going to be good minutes and bad minutes. Let’s face it. That’s life. If you get all Pollyanna and try to take on the whole year at once by pasting the word ‘happy’ on it, you are 1) being unrealistic, 2) will be disappointed, and 3) need to keep smoking that stuff for the next 364 straight days to actualize, and frankly I wouldn’t advise it.

Then there’s this problem that by saying, feeling, resolving, and determining Happy New Year on January 1 that you feel you must be happy for a whole year or that the year will naturally be filled with constant joy. And that resolve lasts until the first obstacle approaches which is usually 9am on Jan. 1, when you have to get out of bed because you promised your mother you’d walk the dog since she’s away and if he doesn’t get walked by 9 he has a habit of peeing on the clean laundry in the laundry basket.

Health clubs love January 1 and 2, and sometimes the Happy New Year effect lasts until January 3 or 4.  All these people come streaming in to join and pay the annual fee, and the clubs smile and welcome them, knowing that they won’t see 99 per cent of them again, until next January. Happy New Year.

Or you could have the opposite problem. I have a friend whose mother damns the past and by extension, the future. This morning she’ll write her new message to put on her refrigerator as a reminder, “2016, worst year ever” and take down the old one, “2015, worst year ever.”

Someone said to me last night, “I hope this new year is better,” as if a unit of time were responsible for him having a good or bad year. The only person, place or thing responsible for whether you have a good or bad year is you. If something you think is bad happens to you on the first day of 2017, and you turn around and blame the year (and then by extension somehow curse the other 364 days of your beautiful life that is trying to blossom every day), then you’ve just lost a year!

And when that bad thing happens, because let’s face it, things you deem as bad will happen, then the opportunity for challenge and redemption from that bad thing is also being tarnished. “Oh shit, it’s just a bad year all around,” you might say.

Words matter. So when you fling them around, thinking they’re not important, don’t act surprised when the chickens come home to roost.  Words are the reality you are committing to, whether you know they are lies at the time, or not. They change reality. Look at fake news.

So here’s another one: The Pursuit of Happiness

No wonder we’re so miserable! 241 years later Americans are running around like chickens with their heads cut off pursuing happiness. You can see it in the arrogant way we chase the dollar.

Thomas Jefferson was a smart guy. Why didn’t he use his own inner wisdom to make the Declaration of Independence read: “…life and the liberty to find the happiness within”? Then all this ridiculous, ambitious, American “pursuing” would be nullified and we would do what we must – look within for our answers; for that is the only place where our real happiness lies. Imagine a government that was actually created to protect the unalienable rights of helping human beings find the happiness within? Yikes! That would be a different animal from the one we have entirely.

And while we’re talking animals, let’s talk about this one from those early Bible superstars Adam and Eve: “…dominion over the animals.” Here’s another instance where one word in the wrong place has had disastrous effects.

Over? Really? What arrogance! No wonder the planet is in such a mess. This change in the bible story that occurred by those in charge of putting the Bible together in 200 AD was a kind of Dick Cheney sort of thing. (Remember the Clear Skies Act of 2003 which actually loosened controls for pollution?) It was there, it was easy. It was fun to play with words. Animals are stupid and had no vote. So why not make the story that God said we had “dominion over”, instead of the way it originally read “dominion with” the animals.

‘With’! Like share the planet with them for christ sake! Like it’s not all for you. What were you thinking? You have to share! There’s a Native American reservation in Montana where great money, effort and expense have been summoned to build bridges over the highways for heavily travelled animal trails. Like that!

Think about the words we live with. Think about the words we take for granted. Then don’t always take them for granted. 2017 just might be a good year to examine everything. And I mean everything!

Share. Think. Live tougher. Respect. Repeat.

Happy New Day!

 

Here you stand

vitruvian-manHere you stand. In the middle of a working universe. You are a sentient, conscious, flag-waving human being and you have certain rights, tendencies and beliefs.

This universe is exclusively yours because you had the audacity to wake up in it. As much as you can experience is yours. Though other people’s universes can be similar to yours, enough so you can compare prices of wide screen TVs at a cocktail party, they are not yours.

No one can argue with your perception, your beliefs, your judgements or understandings; because they are yours and you are the one who woke up here.

Do you know what anyone else is really thinking or experiencing? No you do not. Not really. Do you think cheese makes a mouse happy? You will never know. You are not a mouse.

You could be a lone wolf type human, living in the wilderness, shunning all human contact, but since one of your human tendencies is to need the love and protection of other humans, no matter how far out you go, you will always desire, or expect, or go on Facebook to prove to other humans, that you and your universe exist and that this is your set of beliefs and guiding principals and these are what you stand for–John Doe, major human–attention must be paid.

Esho funi means the non-duality of life. There is no separation between life and it’s environment. You are the life in this equation. Your environment is everything else you think is outside you — family, animals, villages, houses, Cheezits. But the surprise is that there is no separation. Those things that you think are outside you and happening to you, are what you actually have pulled into your universe. That’s why cause and effect is so important to consider. Make good causes have good effects in your universe, bad causes, bad effects.

The question is, what do you need to wake up happy each day at the center of your universe?

Encouragement plays a part, but if you are always looking outside yourself for answers then any number of crazy humans can influence what you mistakenly think is your wisdom; but, as it turns out, it’s really CNN’s, your mother’s, Bill Maher’s, your girlfriend’s, President Trump’s or  something you saw on the internet. Time to tune out,  unplug, turn off.

Confidence plays a part. The confidence to take action, to keep going when things look dire, so that eventually you become “naturally confident.” The more you face your problems honestly, the stronger the connection, the more confident you become, the more you understand where your answers are, you just have to face yourself to get to them.

Challenge plays a part. The nature of human existence on this planet is challenge. So now you know why your boss is so tough or why your mother was addicted to pain killers. They have to be. They are the circles of your karmic universe that only you can struggle against and win. You are at the center of the universal super weave, and the actions you take to change things, good or bad, are the bricks and foundations of the houses you create. They can be mansions or crack houses.

But I believe that the most useful answer is Faith. Faith is good. In fact it turns out that faith is a human necessity. Your hope, spirit, belief allow your universe the engine of faith. If you don’t believe or half believe, just in Church on Sundays, or just on Tuesdays when the girl from Ipanema goes walking by; if your belief is shoddy; holy, as in there are plenty of holes in it; filled with sarcasm one day and doubt the next and then sure, why not, a little bit of hope on Thursdays, but then you turn around and blame God or your mother for what is wrong in your universe and  no one can change the karmic dynamic of the universe you have been born to, only you can do that; then it’s not much of an engine and you might want to increase your horsepower.

So next time you roll out your long list of things to blame for your life, burn it instead. Your life, your environment comes from you. Period.

That’s where you stand: in the middle of a working universe. It’s working because you work there. It is extraordinary because you are extraordinary. Awaken to you. Embrace you. Seek your answers in the U. of you. Build faith. Take action.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s why I like to sit facing the emotional mirror of myself and chant. Together we are part of the infinite–my mesh net universe that I am at the center of. The more I chant, the stronger the connection, the more confident I become, the more I understand that all my answers are in me. I just have to chant to get to them.

This is a good feeling. Plus the knowledge that though I have the answers, I can’t possibly execute them without the other beings in my universe. I need them as much as they need me.

 

The Big Debate

American FlagCandidate One: Why not repeal the Law of Gravity? I mean, why is it that what goes up must come down? The Law of Gravity is a pernicious plot to ground America.

We’re Americans. We’re not down-to-earth any more, earth is dirty. Earth is for earthworms. Earth is for farmers who are so grounded they need suspenders to hold their pants up. Earth is for pussies and other lowly animals.  We’re better than that. We’re flying high on drugs and lies and video games. Or should be. The first day of my administration, I will start the process to repeal the Law of Gravity.

We were made in the image of God and you don’t see Him walking around, sitting on curbstones, vaping and spitting. No. He’s up in the clouds. He flying around — weightless and bodyless. Even His wisdom can’t weigh him down. That’s the way it should be for all Americans.

Peter Pan did it, Rudolph did it, we should ALL be able to do it. I say all gravity should be taken out of the Constitution entirely and given to Mexicans.

And to you scientists who claim that the law of gravity is not something a President can mess with. I say, open your minds. You’re scientists! We can build the greatest weightless machine known to man that would allow Americans to make money while floating.

America is about making your dreams a reality. Repealing the Law of Gravity is the best way to make America great again.

Candidate Two: I believe that all gun owners should be tested on their ability to do advanced calculus. If the trajectory of a bullet is such that it pierces another human’s skin, then the direction of your life is radically changed forever. No way around it. That’s calculus. But if you don’t know calculus then you’re going to think you can just kill ’em.

Candidate One: All dicks should be displayed. This law is so obvious, it’s a wonder it has never been introduced before. No more faux dick-raising contests. If you’re going to raise a ruckus and you can’t get it up, what kind of credibility does that give you? You’re all talk and no action. You’re barking up the wrong flag pole. Imagine what this will do to gun laws. Is anyone going to take your Uzi seriously when you have to display your real gun simultaneously? True dick-raising contests are about power, not sex. Anything sexually seductive will be thrown out in a court of law, because male prerogative is such, that if you can’t be seduced by power, what good are you?

Candidate Two: That will unmask the fakes and make either a woman or a male porn star president.

Candidate One: Women must wear gingham. Would you have it any other way? Whether it is the workplace, the white house, or a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser. This way they are less dangerous and more like your grandmother. Strippers and super models are, of course, exempt.

Candidate Two: There are less people who eat at Denny’s than there were in 2012. Pancake consumption has plummeted and this is nowhere more apparent than in the maple syrup states. As a result, my vow is to have compassion for others, because there are no others, just mirrors of your own humanity, and as such, they might be ME some day, and I like pancakes.

Candidate One – Final Statement: Mexicans, Muslims, Makeovers, Melania, Maseratis, money for you, money for me.

Candidate Two – Final Statement: I gladly accepted my party’s nomination and hope that it doesn’t go past my bedtime, because the key to my platform is sleep. And sleep begets clear-headedness, which of course begets faith. A famous man once said, the clearer you are in the head, the more you’ll understand your own heart, which is my heart, which is Gloria Steinem’s heart, which was Walt Whitman’s heart, and Mother Teresa’s heart and every hermit and every politician’s heart and don’t forget the people who cook your burgers at Wendy’s, and that’s the heart of the matter — the matter being 10 billion people. As Jerry Ross once said, “You gotta have heart.”

 

 

 

Negativity

balanced_rock

Beautiful photo? Or OMG run for your lives!

I live with negativity. My hunch is that you do too. It’s part of the human condition.

Now here’s the surprise. All that negativity?

It comes from me.

When my boss calls my work scattered, it is my response to his comment that creates the bad feeling in me, not the comment itself. Is he right? Am I going to get fired? Do you think he’s been talking to the baker I worked for when I was 16 who yelled at me for not keeping my mind on my work and dropping a tray of custard creams?

I label it negativity. I judge him as negative. I become depressed because his comment on my work pushes my buttons. I blame him for my paranoia about losing my job and leaving my family homeless. But, in reality, all those buttons are MINE.

My wife says, why don’t you EVER take out the trash. If she hadn’t said the word ‘EVER’ we’d be fine.

Is she actually saying I’ve never taken the trash out in our nearly 20 years of marriage? She exaggerates. She’s making a point. I get that. And if she has her way it will have its intended effect. I will get angry, yell something mean back at her, take the trash bag out and throw it against the refrigerator. Then I’ll feel bad, pick it up, wipe the smelly stains off the floor and take it out. See? That was my fault.

When I verbally attack the owner of a local bar for serving underaged drinkers and staying open ’til 4am so the police have to patrol and stop the fights of the drunks at all hours which is giving the town a bad name, he tells me politely but firmly that the town changed the parking rules to feed the meters until 11pm so no one goes to his bar anymore and he’s had to hire a chef to actually sell real food and change the dynamic of his establishment. I am left with this creepy feeling that my negativity got the best of me; that if I had just asked him how’s business, he would have told me the same thing without me throwing verbal punches.

Why do I need it so badly? What does all this negativity give me? Evidently I need to be right. The side of good is always my side, right? Whether I’ve thought two seconds about what I’m saying or not.

It’s surprising because when I look into the mirror in the morning, I’m pretty happy with my self, but sometimes when I look in other people’s eyes, and see the fear and trepidation and knee-jerk yesses on their lips, I’m a monster. Which is the real me?

That’s why I figured I needed a better mirror. One that shows that negativity so I can face it BEFORE I go out into the world.

That’s what my Buddhist practice does for me. The absolute worst thing looks better and becomes much more well-considered from my side of the mirror when I have chanted in the morning. I have no idea how it works. I know how it doesn’t work though. It doesn’t work on a level of intellect, knowledge or consciousness that my rational brain can predict or understand. It pushes me out of the brain roads I tend to travel. I just know that if I don’t face myself each day this way, all the negative stars come out shooting. This practice is like the sun. When I do it daily, the sun comes out and the shooting stars disappear. When I don’t…watch out for me.

If you need a hedge against your own negativity as I do, make a practice of taking a faith action strong enough to remind you that the thing that’s really bugging you…is you.

 

Dealing with Bullies

fist11. Consider the source. Bullies are cowards with loud voices. They believe that the force of their personalities/ego can flatten all comers. This is more than a belief. It’s a kind of faith. As such, reasoning with a bully is not possible. Reason is not their forte. Power is.

So the first thing to do in dealing with a bully is to fart. That’s right. Create a noxious atmosphere of another kind and see how long they last. Tell them that smell is as noxious as they are. When they start with the sarcasm — “Whatsa matter Mr. Farty!” — start reciting the Declaration of Independence. This is a confusion tactic because it is a  document about the freedom of all people from tyranny. They may not get the joke, but it will be hard for them to get a word in edgewise, particularly if you are alternating with verses in high soprano of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Now, ask them do they love their country? Are they true Americans? Asking them questions while looking directly into their eyes is something that few people actually have the balls to do, because people are afraid of bullies. But it is surprising how often a direct question will stop a bully in their tracks.

2. The reason you are being bullied is that the bully thinks you are weak. When approached by your next bully, drop to the floor and do twenty push-ups, that’ll show em! Tell them you wear a black belt to yoga class and they shouldn’t mess with you. No matter what kind of booming voice they may have, say “I can’t hear you , speak up!” and when they speak again, say, “Is that a mosquito talking? I can’t actually make out the words.” Hide your skateboard in the bushes and tell them if they don’t shut up you’re going to run over them in your Mercedes GLE SUV. Tell them that stands for Good Little Efforts Sometimes Undercut Violence.

Show them you’re not afraid.  When they ask, are you a pussy?  Don’t look them in the eye and meow. Sing your best version of “I Shot the Sheriff”  and move on before they can respond.

The biggest skill a bully has is generating fear in his audience. And human nature is such that once they’ve planted the seed of fear, unless you have the spiritual/emotional tools to deal with it, it will grow and become a monster with acne and size 14 feet. The worst chapters in human history aren’t caused by bullies. They are the results of cowardly human reactions to bullies. Bullies can’t do it alone.

3. The key is to take action, even if it’s just to show them your pet rock. Make them sign a consent form. Ask them for their bullying license. Did they pass the bullying test? That’ll scare them. Tell them NY State standards are such that you have to have screwed 100 people out of their life savings to become a Class A Bully, and do they own any property that has been repossessed from poor Americans. Absent that, unless they have been indicted by a Grand Jury or gone to prison for bribery, they are no real bully.

Remember bullying equals fear. So the best question you can ask a bully is, what are you frightened of? Then ask yourself.

The Happiness Test

Are you happy? Do you know the twelve signs? Can you parry and thrust while beating to your own drummer, find the silver lining and cash it in to break the bank at Monte Carlo? Do you like baseball?

Now there is no doubt. Just take the happiness test and you’ll know. This simple test is all you need to take your happiness temperature. No more second-guessing, long expensive shrink sessions or psychotropic drugs. This is the real deal and I’m giving it to you for free in this stylish blog piece. You’ve stumbled onto gold my friend. Nothing you ever do will be as important as this test. Here it is. Sharpen your pencils and no cheating.

1)Are you happy?

a) Yes

b) No

c) Maybe

d)None of the above

Scoring
If you answered ‘Yes’, congratulations. You get 100 points. Unless you’re lying. Are you lying? Are you sure you know what happiness is? Perhaps more likely you are delusional, stumbled onto a bit of luck by winning a car on So You Think You Can Dance, have just dropped acid or other drug that emulates happiness, defensive because you actually aren’t very happy and you wish you were, so in the name of not stewing in your own sorrow you’ve decided to be brave, to take action against the pain, to start a chain reaction of good to counteract all the bad that comes flying at you like a shit storm out of hell every day. Good for you. I wouldn’t call that happiness exactly, but I’d definitely pick you to help dig the latrines.

If you answered ‘No’, you have a problem, but at least you know what it is. You’re negative. You have no faith. Everyone has a heart of happiness, it’s just that some people have decided that happiness is unstylish, for losers, and too hard to maintain. So they claim to be not on speaking terms with their heart of happiness. They have decided that unhappiness and negativity serves them. Plus, they think they see everyone around them being negative and so due to the Facebook effect, they decide to ‘like’ negativity too. You get one point for your answer but 99 points because you need the results of this test to lead you towards positivity. So there you go, you did it, 100 points. 

If you answered ‘Maybe’, you’re open to the possibilities. You follow the one rule (create value) and you’re not afraid of the obstacles life throws at you. Congrats. You also understand the being human part of life. No one is a perfect happy machine every day. But it is the ability to win over our too human daily circumstances that makes us happy. Every day. Even the bad days. Even the days when you KNOW your fundamental darkness is playing tricks on you.

‘Maybe’ is a good place to start the day because it means that today, right now, we can build on ‘maybe’ and meet the universe on our terms to get what we want and turn today’s answer to ‘Yes’. Every day. (Except maybe the days you wake up having dreamt you had sex with Penelope Cruz. Those days pretty much take care of themselves.) Stick with ‘maybe’ and start to work. The harder you work, the more wonderful the world is.

Though ‘ yes’ is a great goal, ‘maybe ‘is a bit more in tune with the human condition, and ‘no’ is only useful as a deterrent.

Turn enough ‘noes’ to ‘maybes’ and ‘maybes’  to ‘yeses’, day after day, year after year and you’ll grow confidence in your ability to do that, and the more you do this the happier you’ll be because you have the confidence that you can meet life’s challenges, no matter what it throws you. Now you’ve passed the real happiness test.

My New Toys

dodge-ram-07

Truck

I love my monster. It has wheels half as tall as the Empire State Building. You need an elevator to get down from the cab. When you rev its engine, it sounds like a bull elephant smashing into a private jet on the runway just before it takes off. You know, that throaty, guttural groan whenever I so much as touch the accelerator? And when I do, it leaps forward like a stallion with its tail on fire leaping over the planet Mars. Awesome doesn’t describe it. Its sound system is okay. My only regret is that it hasn’t blown my ear drums out completely yet, but there’s still time.

Whenvever I’m in it, I feel so IMAX. Like big. Really, really big. Like Trump big. King of the road, y’know? Completely in charge and at the steering wheel. I can go wherever the hell I want, even off-road up the side of an active volcano’s smoking, oozing lava flow. Anyone who criticizes me for spending too much money, or being not fucking ecological enough, or being in people’s faces and taking up every centimeter of their rear view mirror (not to mention their side mirror, windshield, and rear windows), because encountering my big black behemoth is a little like getting swallowed by  a black hole (but a black hole that just happens to have Snoop Dog playing in its vacuum), is a piece of shit.

Best of all, whenever I drive it I am surrounded by little ninny toy cars and wussie pedestrians who look up to me like I am somebody. My wife says, those ARE toy cars and please watch out for our kids.

Tomorrow, if I can figure out how this new key thing works I’m thinking of taking it out of the driveway. Not that I’m not perfectly happy up here. I suppose I could buy the new Nas song on iTunes or check my Facebook page (but I’m a little tired of all my asshole friends posting photos of them and their big trucks– like really?–get a life!)

Dolls

I’ve just bought myself a Mr. Zombie Head doll and I can’t tell you how delighted I am. It has a big rubber head and a little body, but its right hand is normal sized and it holds up a little toy iPhone to its big head and peers into it. I love to put it into danger!

Sometimes I put him walking down the street and a truck runs him down because he’s texting and not only doesn’t look where he’s going, but doesn’t seem to care. Sometimes he gets so involved in a video game that his head melts in the sun. Sometimes he plays videos on his iPhone out loud because he lost his earbuds and the people around him on the quiet car in the train beat him with their briefcases and hang him by his heels from the luggage racks. But he really doesn’t care. He just wants to get a high score. Sometimes we go to the beach together, where he loses his iPhone in the sand and has to buy a new one which he does immediately at a shop on the boardwalk and upgrades to an iPhone 6 plus with an automatic upgrade to an iPhone 7 when they come in later in the year.

When I get enough money, I’m going to buy a Mrs. Zombie Head doll, and I’m going to make them simulate phone sex by going to dinner at a nice restaurant and sitting opposite each other and not speaking once to each other, only to the waiter. But you’ll know they like each other, because when you actually pick Mr. Zombie Head’s face up from his iPhone (which is hard to do, you actually have to take a knife and cut his arm off to do it) you’ll see that the face you formerly couldn’t see, because it was drilling down from app to app, has a little smirk on it. When I ask him why this is, he’ll tell me it is not the simulated phone sex with Mrs. Zombie Head, it is because he has two more Facebook friends.

My Mr. Zombie Head doll is endless fun. Best of all, he’s only a toy.

Fardels Bear

This stuffed animal is a burden, pure and simple. You may think he is your cuddly little snuggle actualizer, but don’t be fooled, his real mission is to make you want to kill yourself.

He has a strange ability to gain weight as you carry him around from fardel party to fardel party. Worse, once you get to the party, you realize that everyone else’s bear is being fashionably bourne in the latest style, while yours is splayed, grasping your chest and neck with his claws, making you gasp for air as the blood trickles down to your navel.

If you just had the receipt you could return him and complain, but you don’t. Besides, they’ve discontinued them. Fardels Bears haven’t trended since 1602.

Let’s face it. You were given a fardels bear for a reason and you have to make the most of him. He is likely the bear of those ills you have and must be bourne; because once you fly to others you know not of, you are sidestepping your karma and not facing yourself directly in the mirror. This is your bear, stuffed with your can’ts, wants, won’ts and shouldn’ts. So get used to him. Your job in this lifetime is to figure out how to loosen his grip, fingernail by fingernail.

Once you’ve done that, fling him from the highest cliff and rest happy. You are much better visiting the undiscovered country alone.

Adventures of an Analog Human in a Digital World

no-internetI admit. I made a mistake. I should have waited until our IT guy could get the internet back up.

I was trying to get an okay on a photo from the head of Marketing. The rest of the office was playing table tennis, batting wads of paper back and forth over their desks with their MacAirs. But I have this annoying work ethic and the deadline was approaching, whether our email was down or not.

So, I printed out a copy and walked to the Marketing head’s office. I was stopped by her gatekeeper.

“What are you doing,” she asked as if her pet dog we’re being stolen by bad children.

“I’m going to see Samantha,” I said, and, knowing that to engage in a twenty somethings interface angst was a mistake, kept walking. She spluttered and tried to lift the phone receiver as a warning but I was too fast.

“Here,” I breathed to Samantha, “Can you approve this photo for me?”

She looked at me, a little taken aback as I shoved a grainy black and white printed on copy paper towards her. She seemed to be studying me. To be honest, we hadn’t actually laid eyes on each other since a fire drill in 2012. And on that day we had only caught each other’s glance from forty feet away. I likewise surprised myself by hungrily devouring my proximity to another human and noticed her lovely cheeks and an odd standing floor lamp that splashed light over her desk.

“Have you ever done this before,” she asked innocently, like Juliet on her wedding night.

“Not since 1979,” I admitted sheepishly, “since before e-mail was invented.” She had a shapely mole on her jawline.

“Don’t let them see us,” she said.

“Too late,” I moaned, “Annette already saw me and tried stop me. Quick, can you approve the photo,” I breathed heavily.

Unaccustomed to making decisions without staring at her computer screen, she panicked. “I can’t. I can’t. Let me look at it and get back to you.”

I wanted to say, ‘but you’re looking at it now! That’s why I printed it out and defied all internet office protocol to barge into your office just to see if there were any actual humans on the other ends of these emails. I gave it to you, so you could look at it with all your college education and tell me whether animals will be harmed or wars started if we use it!’ But I didn’t. Two wrongs don’t make a right, I remembered. Instead I whimpered “Okay,” thankful that she was old enough and sensible enough not to have called security on me or sprayed me with pepper spray.

I hesitated. Thinking that maybe…one day…we might have a meeting, or perhaps run into each other on the way to the rest rooms. For now, it was over. This moment of human contact. I needed to protect myself.

I slowly backed out of her office while her gatekeeper watched an episode of Parks and Recreation, forgetting about the danger I presented. As I headed back to my office I heard the announcement over the loudspeaker system. The internet was back up. The children put down their toys and faced their screens again. Order was restored.

But my days were numbered. A week later I was called into the HR office and told that a company like this one couldn’t afford security breaches of this kind.  It was bad for morale. I was asked to clean out my desk and told that Bruce would accompany me down stairs to the front door. I would never enter an office in this company again. It turned out that between episodes, Annette had reported me.

I took my pathetic box of belongings as Sean eyed me like the dangerous sociopath I was, and together we greeted the late afternoon sun. Let me say this straight off, I’m not in any way attracted to hefty Irish goons with guns on their belts. But it seemed to me the ultimate sacrifice and hope for the human race, that before I walked off into the sunset I touch his arm, and look into his heart. So I did, and said thank you. And to Bruce’s credit he didn’t go for his gun, but smiled, turned on his heel and walked back into the darkness.

Training Time

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Not my train

No way I’m going to make it. The 8:36 would have to be sitting in the station for ten minutes which is not going to happen. I’m late getting into my car by at least ten minutes. I should go to the dry cleaners who have had the pants they hemmed for me since August. That would be a good use of my time. But somehow, I can’t believe I’m going to miss my train. So I reach the on ramp to the TZ Bridge and look! It’s empty! A chance, I say. A chance.

Half way down the ramp we turn a corner and…brake lights. OK. It’s a usual Monday. I can get through this. Are you kidding? Speed demoning and tailgating dangerously just to make a train? Why do I set myself up for this sort of thing? Slow down. Life’s too short.

What will I do if I don’t make the train? I’ll sit 20 minutes and write my thoughts. I’ll take the milk train that leaves late and then on top of that stops at every local stop and takes 20 minutes longer than any normal express train. I’ll live the life of a free man, unfettered by my inner Nazi.

I park the car. I won’t make the train, but I will hear it. That’s the worst. It will race by me to the station as I walk, stop and let people on, and then go on its merry way.

I could make it. I have 6 minutes. I could probably run a 6 minute mile if I had to. If someone was holding a gun to my shoes. But I have a kind of sore ankle, like shin splints, only it’s ankle splints from walking weird in a new pair of shoes last week. Damn, it takes me a long time to break new shoes in. I could hobble-run, my briefcase held like a football, dodging cars and pedestrians to breathlessly slobber on my train mates, wheezing and holding my sore ankle and crying Mama. It could happen. And if it did, I would make the train and not be late for work.

On the other hand, just change the context. Change it. You have the power, right now.

What’s that sound? Probably the train coming up from behind. No. No. I think it’s that house’s dryer vent.

A tweeting! Is that the train doors opening and closing? No, a truck is backing up.

I will not hurry. I will put one step in front of another. I dare not look up from my feet because they are plodding along trustingly, one foot in from of the other on asphalt. If I look up, I will want to run.

This is good. This is a rhythm of sanity. This is a freedom of sorts. Don’t look up. Time was given me at birth. It’s about how I spend it.

Prepare yourself. It will come from behind. It will sound like a train. Really, if it comes and I’m only a few yards away I will sprint up the steps and hurt my ankle. I know I will. That would be too much temptation.

Slow down further then. No chance of making it if you just slow down.

The whirring comes from behind. It might be my train. No, it’s not mine. No train is mine. It is a train. It is the 8:36am. It streams past me and stops. I can see it stop up ahead. I have no quickening in my step. My reasoning mind knows I am too far from it to even run and make it. Eyes back to the road. I will sit and write on the quiet platform. Is there a place to get tea nearby? There is no need to take this train. I’m as free as I want to be. And the rest of the day will likewise be free, easy and under my flow of control.

The doors tweet and shut. Off it goes. I have beaten the train.