Dirty Rotten Chaos!

Into each life, a little chaos must fall….and hard!  All around you at this very moment is change and disorder. You might feel that there is balance and harmony going on in your life, but let me be the first to burst your bubble…it’s not!  You have your good days, you have your bad days, and in between those days is chaos at work.  That creature of disruption moving about, tipping the carts, changing the lights, casting its confusions.  Chaos.  What is this beast and why does it seem to be getting bigger, stronger, faster in the world around us and, for many, within us?  Let’s define:

Chaos:

  • Complete disorder and confusion.
  • Behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.

I love those definitions!  They sum up the animal at work.  I often picture a mythical faery-like being with an evil grin, fluttering about, doing its will on unsuspecting people and things.  Many religions have given chaos a persona of some demonic entity that works in the spiritual realms to ruin their prey. Loki was the Norse god of mischief constantly working to thwart mankind, as well as the gods themselves. Lucifer of the bible,  the great deceiver, who started the entire downfall of mankind by creating confusion on the first humans that lived in bliss.  Many different cultures label some single source for all the problems of the world.  What it boils down to is the events of chaos.  Altering changes that disrupt our plans, processes, procedures, policies, and presence!  From the simple distraction to the fall of empires, chaos has, and always will, be the thorn in our sides!

What can we do about this? Is there any way to fool-proof our dealings in life so as not to be ruined by chaos?  I think not.  Back in 1785, Robert Burns characterized this chaos in his great poem, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough”, by writing “But little Mouse, you are not alone, in proving foresight may be vain. The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!”

So, the best laid plans…askew! Whether by divine intervention or just natural chaos, we can plan until the cows come home, but somehow, someway, chaos will often rear its ugly head!  Does it happen all the time? Of course not! It finds pleasure in allowing us some of the promised joy, lulling us into a false sense of security…then, BANG! Knocks us down some notches! We get up, dust ourselves off, curse the very fact chaos exists, and try again. Oh, our humanity of persistence!

That is the one thing about chaos…though ever changing, it is the only constant that we share.  At points throughout our lives, we have felt the hand of chaos on our schemes, even when they have been well planned.  So, if this is a constant during our walk through the time given, then why is there such an impact of frustration, anger, and even defeat?  We should know by now that at some point in our design on how we think life should go, that chaos will inevitably intervene and have its way with us.  I would say this is the predictability of the unpredictable!  In a future writing I will address one reason that it impacts us so harshly and why we react the way we do. (It’s called narcissism.  A sometimes over inflated view of self-importance.  Another time, though.)

So, in the present, we see this swarm fluttering all around our everyday, buzzing with the possible of changing our directions.  It happens, and for some folks it happens more often than others.  There is no pre-disposition to the ailment of chaos. It isn’t a contagion that we get by standing too close to someone afflicted (though people may argue that the fallout of one’s chaotic attack can be adverse enough to create a sense of chaos in their own life)!  No matter what it is construed as, chaos exists, it affects, and it strikes anyone, anywhere, at any time!

The strength that chaos can have is given only by the reactions we have to it.  The turkey slides off the serving tray onto the ground right before it’s time to eat. Chaos ensues!  We can either crumble to the ground in utter defeat, allowing the tears of shattered dreams to wash all our intentions away, or, we can realize that our plan to serve may be altered, but the fact that our family and friends are there to share with us is so much bigger.  Chaos might trip, but it can never replace.  You may have lost something or someone, but chaos can never remove the memories and moments that mean so much more.  We are supposed to give thanks during thanksgiving, no matter what chaos has done in the past or even the present. It’s when we lose sight of the precious, the true reality of what we have, that’s when chaos has truly won. 

Don’t let the knowledge of impending chaos be the ruin in your heart.  Our time is measured, and there are so many more important things to be thankful for.

Un-Social Media

Breaking News!  Social media is destroying humanity!  Okay, perhaps it isn’t breaking news. And maybe it hasn’t destroyed it completely. But, the extent of my statement really depends on clarifying some definitions of news, destroy, or social.  Let us take a look at those definitions and see what we end up with!

News reporting agencies can be funny entities. They are often the very heralds of doom and gloom, and yet thoroughly pride themselves as being the “first” to bring it to you. How thoughtful.  Yet in this day and age of information demand, we clamor at every source we can to stay informed and aware. As many of you know, I am one such junkie. I often find myself confused when I bring a news item to a conversation and no one is aware of the story.  Really?  I thought everyone was in-the-know about the feral cat problem in Hindustan!  (I jest…somewhat…)

But our sources of information are missing out on a really big story. That there seems to be a lack of awareness of the degradation of human interaction around us. “Social” has been morphing from how we interacted with one another into a cold, barren way. It is caving in to the world of electronics.  The explosion of social media websites is nothing new. From the advents of My Space to the highly popular Facebook and Twitter, there is certainly no shortage of internet places to “socialize”.  Major companies like Google and Yahoo have also thrown their hats into the ring with versions.  The goal: get you to use their system so that they can make money from advertisers.  Simple as that. This is corporate America looking for a means to get money.  But, at what cost?

I’m all for businesses making money.  After all, this is the land of opportunity!  Where I have a problem is when socializing is stripped down to impersonal typed words and picture postings.  Where human interaction is via electricity and not face to face.  Where emotions are conveyed by ‘smileys’.  The word social is generically defined as companionships or relations, in community versus isolated.  People are, by nature, social creatures and have the need to engage with others.  Social is key to society…groups of people together.  In the past, people would socialize with one another by gathering together.  These would be the times for friends and families to talk, share, help, care, love, support, and belong.  Sadly, that type of socializing is being replaced.  Actually, it is being destroyed.  I don’t think I need to define destroy.

It would seem that people today find solace in checking their cell phones or computers for their social fix.  Online you can post comments and pictures, share your feelings, give a virtual hug or pat on the back, date, and even break up.  Yes, that all happens on there.  Many of the things that used to be done “in person” are now “impersonal”.  People have had entire relationships online. If that doesn’t make you sad, then you may want to go see someone “in person” to get some help.  I say that bluntly with hopes of a wake up call!  Socializing is an imperative part of being human, and having human interaction is a necessary part of our mental and emotional well-being.  Give thought to the punishment of ‘solitary confinement’…separation of humans from humans.  It’s a punishment, not a reward.  Sociologists and medical experts know that the key to our sanity is the need for human contact.

It can be safely said that social media is destroying humanity.  Humans have social needs and, quite frankly, social media does not fulfill that need.  We may think that we are socializing, but it should not be the replacement to actual face-to-face socializing.  Sitting in your room with the computer is not giving you human contact.  If anything, it is numbing the human right out of you!  I would love to see the withdrawals people would have if they didn’t have their internet social medias to check every 10 seconds.  They might actually have to learn some face-to-face skills!

I understand that friends and family separated by distance use these formats as a means to stay in contact.  No issues here with that.  It’s when it becomes your everything, your lifeline to the outside world that is standing right next to you.  When people can gather in a room with one another and hardly speak to each other because they are busy “socializing” online.   I am always amazed, but rarely shocked anymore, when I see groups of people in the store walking down the aisles with their faces in their phones and no interaction with those whom they are with.  I feel sad by this, but this is evidence of the destruction of socializing.

Try something here…a new social media.  I call it talking.  This type of media requires two people, in the same location, each equipped with a mouth and ears.  This social media requires no electricity, data plan, or computer.  You simply speak what you would normally type and the other person hears what you said!  Then, the person that listened to you will probably say something back, which you would use your ears to hear it!  Crazy, I know, but when you repeat that process, possibly adding more people together….oh, the socializing that can happen!!!  Don’t call me a pioneer…I checked my history and found out that it was all the rave long ago!

Let Freedom Ring

This writing comes to you with a heavy heart.  A deep sadness that runs the course of my veins and has me filled with waning hope in some people.  Today is a holiday, a day marked on the calendar since 1919 to be held in reverence, reflection, and salute.  I share with you Veteran’s Day.

This day each year on November 11th is where we remember.  Remember the men and women who served this great country with bravery and honor, defending against the storms of evil that desire to creep into our borders and usurp our great way of life.  Remember the men and women of the armed services!

As you know, I love history.  We learn from history so that we can have common sense!  So, why today?  How did this day start? My message today is not so much about where this holiday came from, but it helps to know where it all began.  As the end of World War 1 neared, various peace accords were being brokered between the countries involved in that large-scale war with Germany and her allies.  Though differing truce dates ran from September of 1918 all the way through to the Treaty of Versailles on June 28th of 1919, we would officially note the 11th hour of November 11th, 1918 as our countries armistice day.  It officially became a national holiday the following year and was to be commemorated each year on that date.

In 1954, President Eisenhower wanted to assure that the dedicated veterans of World War II, those who came home and those who never did, were remembered as well and officially changed Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day, a day to remember all military personnel who gave the greatest sacrifice for our country.

Fast forward to today.  The date has never changed, the holiday is still marked as Veteran’s Day.  What has changed is the people.  The people who mark this day as a ‘day off’ from work, or a shopping sale date, or a day that passes like any other day in the calendar.  Quite honestly, this particular year is only getting a bigger notation because the date and time will be a rare, once every hundred years, palindromic occurence.  So, novelty wins out on patriotism.  It’s sad when so many stupid things win out over patriotism in this country.

The (thankfully) former Governor of Minnesota, Jessie Ventura recently went on a tirade in front of the news media declaring that, even though he is a former Navy Seal, he is giving up his love of this country that he served.  He has bellowed that he will not stand in due respect during the National Anthem.  He will not salute our flag.  He is even adamant about locking-in his citizenship with Mexico (since he lives there now, half of the year…).  All this whining and fussing because he was violated.  This self-proclaimed rough and ready ex-Seal was violated by a TSA agent who patted him down during a trip to the airport.  Really?  Sadly, yes…that’s his big reason for hating America now.

I know that there are many opinions regarding that TSA process, and quite honestly, I am not going to go there right now.  I have personal issues with people getting onto airplanes and either blowing them up or flying them into buildings, so I will just shut my mouth regarding that matter.  What I will say is simply this:  if you love this country, then show it!  If you don’t love this country and would rather see it over-run by crazed lunatics who blow up their own people, kill their own children, violate and treat people as animals, restrict freedom to choose, and force their beliefs on to you….well then, get the hell out!

I don’t know about you, but my heart is heavy with sadness that the people of this country have forgotten.  They’ve forgotten how we got here, why we got here, and how we stay here!  Is it so tough to ask for even one day out of 365 each year to stop and really count your blessings?  I’m not talking blessings as in turkey and stuffing, I’m talking about blessed that we have freedom to choose, that our country (though mismanaged at times) is still the greatest country in the world to live in and raise a family!  We can’t even get folks to really put aside the novelties that seem to get attached to a day of remembrance like today and reflect on who we are to this great land.

I’ll just close with this:  Whether you served in the military, whether you supported someone in the military, or whether you just have great respect for the protection of our way of life that our armed forces have given, and continue to give, to each of us….remember to stand for the flag, salute our troops, and always, ALWAYS remember how we got this freedom in America today.  A lot of sacrifices were made so that we can be free.  And if you and Jesse don’t like it, me and some of my true patriot friends would be more than happy to help you out the door.  You want to live here because of the freedom, then thank a Veteran.

This message is brought to you today by a Veteran, because of Veterans.  God Bless these United States and all who have served and still serve!

A Dad’s Letter To His Children

There is so much that I could and should say.  The “how-to” train of thought doesn’t necessarily run in one direction when it comes to being a Dad.  I have stood on the outside and I have stood on the inside, and I have found that no matter where you stand, the position of being a Dad is fill with millions of mixed messages.  Do this, do that, say this, don’t say that, be firm, be gentle, hold tight, let go, be strong…..cry.  But, now that your young years have flown by, I look back…with my own mixed views…to the times I did good and the times that I let you all down.

It seems that no matter how a person views the role of being a Dad, there will always be personal self-reflection that points out the times when things could have been done differently.  I can’t say whether or not I have more than other Dads.  I think that I do, but I guess it really comes down to perspective.  From the time that you were born, the thoughts of “what do I do” seemed to be a daily occurrence.  Sadly, I never got a definitive answer.  Mixed messages came from everywhere.  It was from a barrage of ideas, thoughts, and world-views that I would sort through and try to mix in my own gut feeling to come up with a “proper” fatherly direction.  Sadly, I have to admit, consistency was never there for each of you and probably added to the chaos in your lives.

You each had strong personalities that brought color and variety to life.  Trying to cater to the ever-changing tides of interest was, to say the least, a challenge!  We tried the sports, we tried the music.  We tried for academics and we tried for talents.  So many areas to expose you to, was there some that were missed?  I believe there was.   But Dad’s are supposed to know.  To have the answers ready when the questions come.  To be able to guide and direct you to the correct paths that each of you should follow in your journey to being adults.  I was never really sure myself…you each have so many gifts! 

Dad’s are also supposed to be able to adapt to any situation.  Be strong during times of fear and uncertainty.  Be bold in knowing what is and what isn’t when it comes to life’s challenges.  Be a foundation that is always unshaken during life’s storms.  Be the  encouragement to all of your ambitions in life.  The 20/20 hindsight is clear in understanding that you didn’t always get that Dad.  The times when I should have been were probably the times when I was slow in sorting through the “what is a Dad supposed to do” messages.  Believe me when I tell you that my heart was always the Dad you needed, but the mind was slow in giving you that person right away.  Missed moments.

Now that you are all above the High School line of measurement, life for each of you will hit on all sides.  The ups and downs will come and you may be in a position where you need to rely on lessons from your youth.  I hope that those are the lessons that were filled with consistency and solid truths.  You see, in the Dad manual (that doesn’t exist), there are too many variables that make knowing absolutes impossible.  And since this Dad was filled with so many differing “answers”, I never did get a chance to figure out which way was the right way.  If only I had more time, more resources, or…better yet…more involvement.

There is one constant from all the mixed messages out there on how to be a Dad. It is simply to be there. Be involved. Be a presence in your children’s lives.  That “how-to” was lost in all the chaos of my mind.  Years later, it had finally come through the fog, but regrettably in the closing hours of your childhood.  The phrase “missed the boat” rings louder with each passing day. 

I can’t pretend to know what each of think when you look back on your years growing up, but on those moments when you wonder to yourself, ‘where was Dad”,  please know that I was there, trying to get the answers you needed…it just took longer than I had hoped for.  My wish is for your understanding. 

With love,

Dad