Happy Trails

It has often been said that the journey of a lifetime begins with a single step.  So much truth lies in that statement. The vast potential of the future in front of us is filled with such uncertainty.  So many valleys and mountains stand before us. So many pitfalls and snares.  So many signs and maps to follow.  But which way?

After we begin with that first, seemingly simplistic step, we begin our movement in a direction. Where that leads to, one never really knows, because on the way there will be many diversions and re-directs, that our first direction may not be the final destination.  We can plot and plan to get from point A to point B…even going so far as to making a map of each and every step along the way, but guess what? Life happens!  When that does we go into contingency planning, looking for alternate routes.  Sometimes we steer away from the event and get back on path, other times we find ourselves heading for a new destination.

What about those that don’t have a scheduled itinerary?  The sojourners that drift from one sunset to another, looking at the path only long enough to settle for a different way to go?  Sometimes, there are the travellers who started with one map plotted out but found themselves changing plans mid-stream and going in a different direction. Perhaps the change was intentional, or perhaps was by incidence that drove them down a different road. Either way, start at A, heading for B, changed to a new course and going for C (or maybe D or E or whatever…).

Point is, sometimes you have to decide a new course. For some folks, such as myself, just making a decision is in-and-of-itself a journey!  Thus, even that “first step” to begin is a monumental task!  But, a decision must be made! Taking that step, then the next, and so on, gets us rolling down the path. For many, there are paths that have all sorts of signs that try to direct our momentum:  “Go this way, it is the best”; “You will find what you’re looking for, this way”; “Here is the right path”.  Many times, these paths are not necessarily the best or the right ones. They may not be in line with your initial plans.  Finding yourself on some of these “false” trails will only delay your journey.  They have also been attributed to destroying your venture all together.  It is with this scenario that we find ourselves researching the side roads of life just for the sheer necessity of survival!

All this generality of travels, journeys, life-paths, can fit into the smallest of situations or can cover your birth-to-death span of existence.  The heartache of all this is the deceitful signs and maps that are created by people.  You’ve seen them before, filled with all sorts of good ideas and thoughts, acting as if they have THE only answer to everything.  “We’re right and everyone else is wrong”.  “Our way is genuine and true”.  “We have the only correct map in life”.  Really?

I would have to say that with the billions of people on this planet, the billions of ideas, the billions of opinions, the billions of ‘experts’….you would think that all of life would have been solved by now!  But, guess what? It isn’t! Your political views are not necessarily the right ones! Your religious views could be and probably are wrong! I have yet to see someones’ philosophy and psychology be 100 percent guaranteed absolutely accurate!  Do you wonder why there is so much conflict, violence, and frustration in the world? Everyone thinks they are right, everyone else is wrong, and if you don’t like my being right, then there’s gonna be some friction!

Really? C’mon people….it’s time to stop and smell the reality here!  The only absolute in this universe that we are travelling in is change.  Change is the once constant that has not stopped.  Politics change and evolve.  Religions change and evolve (yes, even the big 3!).  Social ideology is in a constant flux.  So, why all the violence? Why the constant conflict? Why are you pushing your agenda, ways, thoughts, ideology down my throat and telling me you’re right and everyone else is wrong?  More people have died violently because of religious conflict than any other reason. Why? Is it because group A thinks that they are right and everyone else is wrong?  Political turmoil has destroyed governments because everyone has to take an extreme side and not move an inch. Why? Is it because this party has all the answers and the other side doesn’t?  Again……Really?

Despite the natural universe having to adapt to this constant human destruction caused by in-fighting,  nature all around us seems to manage to coexist just fine. Interesting!  Everything outside of humanity has operated on a cooperation level that we seem to often miss.  The beauty of our universe, from outer space to the smallest of mass all resonating their signature energy, chiming in harmony with the rest of nature.  The raindrops that’s fall into a pond, causing ripples of waves outward, which in turn moves a shoreline, watering the soil that’s feeding the trees which produce the life-giving gas oxygen. All in harmony.

We are part of this nature, whether we follow a religious creed, adhere to philosophical teachings, or just wanting to drift in our journey whichever way the wind blows us.  As part of this journey, we do need to watch for the bad signs, avoid the wrong paths, and most of all, avoid the damaging things along the way.  There is nothing that says that you cannot hold certain ideas and beliefs close to your heart. But when it engulfs you to the point of destructive friction, maybe it is time to re-evaluate things. Everyone’s view is that their way is a peaceful way.  Their way is a helpful way.  History seems to show differently.  Please stop along the roadway you are on and give yourself some one-on-one time with nature around you.  Stop and listen.  What purpose could those paths have if all they cause is dissension in the world around us?

Tranquility

Common Sense says that peace within creates peace throughout.  We all know that this voyage we are on could use a lot less stress!

Peace on your journey!

Cannon

A Real Hero

Recent news came out of Long Beach, Washington regarding a young lad that was caught up in a near-death experience.  He was with a group of people enjoying some sun and fun at the beach.  The Pacific ocean changed into a wave of ferocity and rip tides were pulling the 12-year-old away from the safety of the shore and the into the depths of death.  Yet, in the midst of this parental nightmare, into the maelstrom comes a young 12-year-old girl named Nicole. She saw the danger, the situation, and with great risk to her own mortality, guided her small wake board toward the victim of the sea. 

The two ‘tweens clung to the board, hoping and waiting for rescue.  But, as nature would have it, a large wave struck the two and sent them back into the water.  Nicole managed to embrace the board, but young Dale was nowhere to be seen.  About this time though, rescuers had arrived and with incredible skill and training, found Dale and pulled his lifeless body out of the water.  Through miracle, fate, intervention, or a combination of all things good, he revived, survived, and lives to live again!   As for young Nicole, after a visit to her target of heroics in the hospital, moves onward in her life’s journey. 

Everyday, people put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of another. Our heroes are the firefighters, police, military, and others who stand face to face with the potential of death, stare it down, and pull others from the brink of darkness.  Those heroes are the heroes of heroes!   And now we have an example that age, wisdom, training, and raw courage don’t always have to be the pre-requisite of heroism.  This young lady was scared, unsure, and certainly untrained in the ways of water rescue….but she persevered.  She doesn’t have grand equipment or safety gear….but she went anyway.  What she had, what all heroes have is compassion.

If you Google the word hero under an image search you get a sad sense of what has become.  The images that sprout up are that of video games, cartoons, and imagination.  Pictures created by imagination.  Yet, the real definition of hero is of people created by the heart.  No computers or crayons. No comics or television. They are people. People with heart. People who do what so many will not……act.  Concern and caring for others is a compassion that moves mountains, changes the course of nature, and leads nations.

The great guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  Young Nicole doesn’t have a love of power.  In fact, I’m sure that she felt quite powerless against the surf that day. But, she had a power of love for her fellow human that fought against all odds.  Now, she didn’t ‘rescue’ young Dale that day, but the rescuers that did commented that she bought him time for them to do what they are trained to do, thus saving his life with her act of selflessness. 

We face adversity everyday on so many levels. Some are more prevalent than others. Many times, people around us…some we know, others we don’t…will step in to lend a helping hand. There is occasion when that helping hand is the hand of compassion facing the greatest adversity….death.  Connected to that particular hand is a real hero. Let’s recognize that.  Common sense says heroes are real people in everyday life that have a heart of compassion.

Where have all the funnys gone…..

It is said that laughter is the best medicine.  I can’t recall a time when I have been sitting in a funk or just plain depressed and could still manage a good laugh after watching or listening to some classic comedy.  I’m not talking about the latest brand of comedic actors and shows on television (though there are a few good ones on).  I’m talking about the shows that many youth of today would turn off as being “old” or “out of date”.  Today is marking the 100th birthday of a great comedienne, Lucille Ball.  Though she passed at a young 77, her work and talents are still with us today.  She revolutionized so much of what we see on television that many of those new comedies still use her innovations, such as filming before a live studio audience!

Decades later, you still laugh. You still whip the tears from your eyes watching the episode with Lucy at the candy factory conveyor belt.  Your stomach still aches after the half-hour hoot!

I was fortunate to be able to introduce my children when they were young to some great classic comedy.  When all the rage was Power Rangers and super-cheesy sitcoms, I broke through the color barriers and sold them on some black and white funnies.  Sure, at first there was some resistance.  “This is stupid, it’s not even in color”.  “This is so old, it can’t be funny”.  “Looks BORING!” (insert eyes rolling here).  Enter I Love Lucy.  Enter Abbott and Costello. Enter Laurel and Hardy.

SOLD! To the children in the front row!

Proud moments.  I generally justified those moments as ‘cultural education’ for the kids’ benefit, but will confess that I enjoyed every minute of every episode or movie just as much.  There is something about the nostalgia that seems to take us away for a brief moment to a simpler time.  There wasn’t any super computers with super smartphones that were a part of the punch-line.  Modern conveniences were plots to science fiction.  People had their differences, but also had respect.

We are in a very complex, demanding time of life.  We are constantly bombarded with demands and pressures.  Issues such as depression and anxiety are common-place.  Not that there wasn’t these problems back in the days of simpler times, but it was nowhere near the magnitude that it is today.  It seems that as technology increases to make our lives easier, it has also created greater stressors.

Now, social media has taken over and what it really has created is a world of drones.  Where the social media has taken us all is online and on our smartphones and pulled us away from the ‘real world’.  No longer interacting with each other face to face, everything has been dwindled onto our phones and computers….virtual versus real.

I started this article with the line that laughter is the best medicine. It’s true.  As humanity evolves itself into a state of robots taking commands from the social networks, I can’t help but think of the evil creatures of the t.v. show Star Trek: the Next Generation.  The race is called the Borg.  Essentially are assimilated beings from all over the universe, many looking remarkably human. The ‘assimilation’ is where the human emotions and independent thought are stripped away and every member is now a part of the ‘collective’. Everyone does what everyone else does. No independence, just plugged into the big computer and follow the commands.

This is where we are heading.  The modern technology is plugging us into it and stripping away our humanity.  With that, comes the emotional dysfunction, the mental breakdowns, and the withdraw from real society and family.  Maybe a passionate plea from the world of common sense is in order: Please unplug for a while, take the time away from the stressors, and laugh!  If your head is spinning and filled with chaos….laugh!  If you are flooded with sadness and despair, take some time to laugh!  If you are feeling alone and cold, laugh!  If you unplug from the collective, interact with real humanity, watch a little I Love Lucy….you might get your senses back!

Common sense!

Two steps forward, three steps back.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.   Well, I’m sorry to say this but, either way you end up with a very sour face!

That’s the issue.  We all know that life can be hard, with its ups and downs and its round and rounds, but is there ever a break?  I can honestly say that in so many circumstances, our choices and decisions will often weigh in on the outcomes of our life.  You choose to rob a bank, the outcome will not be pleasant.   You chose to cheat the system, you can be sure that at some point you will be caught and will lose out on the frills.  You play with fire, you get burned.  Simple. I think they call that cause and effect.  But what about the other side of that?  The side that has the negative effects without the cause?  The old ‘two steps forward, three steps back’ syndrome.

Throughout this world are millions of folks who try hard, work hard, play well with others,  and just generally are law-abiding citizens who pay their share of taxes and try to make ends meet.   These are the folks who strive to put food on the table, help a neighbor when they can, and contribute positive to society.  There isn’t room to grumble when the people up the street get a new car and they cannot afford to even keep theirs running smooth.  When you don’t try to keep up with the Jones’ to get the new this and that. Our common folks settle for what they have because it’s all they have.  Just keeping their heads above water and all the other nifty one-liners and sayings to describe our average Joe’s and Jane’s.

What’s missing in the picture of the “average” citizen is the darker maladies that perform their evil within.  “Two steps forward, three steps back”.  You work hard, but it will never be enough. You try to do right, but it bites you in the rear.  You follow the laws but will still be the first to suffer under them.  Try, try, try as hard as you will, but peace will not be afforded to you. Calm will ever elude you.  Gains will be stripped away.   Let’s face it, a backward slide into poverty is your only path.  You don’t have what it takes!

Well, now that the cheery thoughts are swaying back and forth in time to the demise that awaits, ask why do we even bother?  Let’s face it…..our system is made to slowly take from the average good folk and give to the over-greedy wealthy who don’t, but do, need more and more.  Or, give it over to the illegals, the law-breakers, the cheaters, and the undeserving.  “Two steps forward, three steps back”.  Let’s take from the struggling and strip away the remaining good….all in the name of social programs! After all, they are created to give others what the hardworking citizens were striving for but will never reach!  You don’t have to work! You don’t have to pay! You don’t need to read, write, or even speak the language! All  you have to do is be a non-contributing member of our U.S. of A. and we will take from the worker and give to you!

But wait! there’s more! If you do nothing now, we will continue to up the offer!  Now you don’t even need to be a member! Just show up and we’ll give you food, housing, money, loans to start businesses, cars, and the added bonus of free post secondary education! That’s right! Everyone around you that is a positive, hard-working, contributing member of our society and have been constantly striving for just such things will envy you immensely!  You will get what they want and you don’t have to work for it!  So, when you see your new neighbor stranded on the side of road with a broken-down car…remember, you could have ended up like him.. working hard everyday and still can’t make it! “Two steps forward, three steps back”.

I would say right about here is where the comments of exaggeration are getting to be too much…but there isn’t any exaggeration. You and I, average citizens that struggle to make ends meet, work an honest days work, follow the laws, pay our share of taxes and give to society, are being passed up.  Local, State, and Federal governments are giving away everything, including the kitchen sink, to illegals and thieves.  And if they can’t get it, then they will send overseas to other undeserving types.  Even places like the Land of Lincoln, Illinois, is going to give free college educations to illegal immigrants.  Why send them back or punish them!  Your hard-earned taxes are spent not on you, but non-contributing people who are getting the free handouts.

My car finally gave up the ghost this morning on my way to work.  I can’t afford to get it fixed.  I was doing many things wrong.  I was going to my job, making mediocre pay.  I’ve paid my taxes and dues.  I don’t cheat and lie to gain social programs that I don’t qualify for.  I work and honest days work.  I follow the laws of these United States of America.  I even have several applications out for additional part-time work.  I don’t live with excess or luxuries.  I contribute to society.  I’m doing everything wrong to get ahead.

A great song plays at the beginning of the classic television show “All In The Family” called  “Those were the days” by Charles Stouse and Lee Adams.  It plays in my head and in my heart…..


 Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.

And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn’t need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.

I highlighted those two key lines on purpose. Common Sense says that everybody can pull their own weight. Worked fine before, why not now?  Oh, that’s right!  “Two steps forward, three steps back syndrome”.  Guess the times they are a-changin’.  It would seem that the negative effects to our hard work that we are experiencing has been created.  Created by our elected.

Check Please!