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Books From The Firehose

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” ~George R.R. Martin

I read many, many books. I constantly have two our three going each colored with highlighted phrases that capture my attention and require more than one reading. I read so many books, I fear many are lost in deep memory or never set anchor in memory so they drifted into the ocean of forgetfulness shortly after passing over the words.

I like to believe the thoughts I ingest sit at the ready to become useful. I hope there are many concepts, numerous phrases sitting close to the surface for recall as the situation dictates. But, I really don’t know.

Do I read too much? Do I read to quickly? Should I slow down, masticate each and every word, suck all possible interpretations out of a book?

I am conflicted because I want to experience the thousands of lives. There is much rich literature in the world, deep oceans filled with knowledge which would stoke the fires of my ever increasing desire to learn.

I wish I could plug into the Matrix and absorb the collective knowledge of humanity in a few seconds of stimulating inrush. But that fiction is a future reality. So, I will keep on plugging away and reading book by book until I am no longer able to read.

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I Pledge Allegiance…

“My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by our nations history, or limited in spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the every end of space and time.” ~Edward Abbey

I was searching through some quotes from my favorite author of all time when I came upon this one that, once read, I could not free my thinking from. In the Trumpster era this quote rises to a level of extreme poignance. We are living in an era of increasing US isolationism. Pledging allegiance to humanity instead of my country rubs the cultural grain the wrong way leaving cuts and abrasions on the American psyche, wounds which will fester and make rabid the devotees of Trumpster.

I find my writing drifting more and more toward one of global inclusion. It seems to be drifting in swifter currents following the onerous election igniting the flames of American xenophobia. The xenophobia is oozing from those wounds and spews vile epithets rooted in unholy hatred.

Was I influenced by these words I first read a few decades ago or did I connect with them because my soul is kindred? I will never know. I do know the quote touches a part of me that is raw, a part needing to expression.

I don’t hate the xenophobes. I feel sorry for those with xenophobic tendencies. Their narrow perspectives close off much of what is amazing about this world of cultures we inhabit. To cut off most of the human population with whom we share the planet is narrow minded in the best of cases. At it’s worst, it closes one off from the colors in the crayon box so they can only see in black and white…not even shades of gray.

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Finding Words

“It seems as if the right words can only come out of the perfect space you love.” ~Ellen Meloy

I generally find the right words, my right words, are either about a space I love, about a favorite destination, a topic about which I have passion. Or, they come from being physically present at a place dear to my heart such as at a buzzing local coffee shop, frequently when sitting beneath an umbrella at a busy city intersection in the cool of the morning, in the red desert.

My words flow with ease when I am thinking about my beloved Southeast Utah, they spring from my pen when I am physically present in the shadows of the red rock formations.It is almost as if the words are writing themselves.  My writing blocks are melted away by the sun, laid exposed on the unforgiving red rock allowing me to see myself with ultimate clarity, with naked clarity. I feel free to explore my internal depths discovering and releasing deep personal knowledge. It is then I begin to understand who I am.

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Boxed with Pretty Bows

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” ~Andre Lorde

I do not accept the premise in the quote that we have an inability to recognize differences. Rather, we are hyper diligent at identifying differences, have cultivated an outright refusal to look beyond differences cursing our hearts so we are unable to see the other human as an entity worth knowing, a person worthy of acceptance, an individual possessing intrinsic value.

If we took the time to accept differences, learned to appreciate the beauty diversity bestows upon the human race then celebrating our differences would become a daily event. Embracing dissimilarities and acceptance others would become the norm. This is not an easy task. I sometimes need to work hard to see beauty in every individual.

There are times when my first reaction is to judge, to group, to dissect, and separate into an predefined category. When I am aware this is happening, and it happen more than I am comfortable admitting, I quickly shift my thinking with the phrase, “Thank God for diversity.” These few words help me check my thoughts and view the other as a unique person with a fascinating story. I become eager to learn instead of classifying.

Unfortunately, many prefer to quickly classify someone to save them from the difficult work of thinking, from the heart intensive activity of getting to know the individual. Classification means we can quickly order, categorize and squeeze a person into a box whether they fit or not, without bothering to see the person behind the difference, to explore their inherent uniqueness.

We sometimes push the box onto a dark shelf beneath us forcing the eyes to look down upon them from a superior position. We sometimes wrap the box with pretty bows and elevate it on a pedestal then develop envy because we see them as better than us. The few we perceive are like us, we place on shelving of equal height and call them friend. They are us, a being safe to embrace. We fail to recognize their thinking and beliefs may be more in line with those in one of the boxes we detest.

Sadly, some people have a need to hate so they can feel good about themselves. They refuse to look past any differences viewing deviation from their norm as odd, or in more severe cases, wrong, possibly wicked, or inherently evil, subhuman.

I like to think of all humanity on the same level, not better, not worse, just different. This helps me view everyone as brothers and sisters. This helps me love my fellow humans even when my first reaction may be fear. This leads to my ability to celebrate the amazing diversity of humanity.

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Dream Flavors

“Let me have some good dreams for once.” ~Bill Pots

Dreams come in two flavors. Dreams emanating from deep in our subconscious when we are in lost in slumber. Dreams when we are wide awake imagining possible futures. During the former our eyes are locked shut. In the latter they are wide open, frequently unfocused as our consciousness paints. I find the more compelling to be those our mind creates when we are wide awake.

Sleeping dreams are often forgotten save for fleeting images still imprinted on eyelids quickly washed away as eyelids flutter open. These do not reflect our future save for those who interpret dreams as mystical portents…but only if you offer coin to have them interpreted.

Waking dreams, on the other hand, are in our reality to make happen if we are willing to work, perhaps suffer, to bring them to fruition. Realities within our grasp. They become anchors in the future pulling us forward into our envisioned destiny. Without hard work they are little more than fantasies, not much more significant than sleeping dreams, and a whole lot more frustrating because they are unrequited loves remembered.

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Screaming in Darkness

Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk to you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left it’s seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in may brain
Still remains
Within the sounds of silence.

~Simon & Garfunkel

Another wealthy celebrity dead of his own hands. Not an accident but a choice to end his own life. He took his life less than two months after a close friend, also a wealthy musician, committed suicide. Further proof that wealth does not guarantee happiness.

I don’t understand.

Did anyone close to them not hear the agony in their silence? Did they not see the suffering? Was the pain so masked by a smile others could not see through to the hurting child within? Were they surrounded by leaches, by parasites pretending to be friends but were really feeding them bullshit so they could continually suckle at the green tit of wealth?

I want to understand.

Self death asks more questions of the living than it ever answers. I guess they felt their only option was to spend eternity in the silence of their graves. I wonder if the final act answered their questions or they are still screaming in darkness.

I hope I never understand.

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“Locked and Loaded”

Justice may have won, but cruelty, death, and inhuman violence have also won.” ~Bao Ninh, The Sorrow of War

My country is flirting with yet another war, another escalation of disagreement to the point that the fat and old send the fit and brave to die.

Yet again is it the cowards in high office, the cowards that hid in the relative safety of the National Guard instead of actual combat, the cowards that avoided the draft by hiding behind college deferments, the cowards spewing hate in propaganda machines, the cowards that never served in the military, those now to fat and to old to serve in the military who are the most vocal about sending our brave youth to die in another country. The cowards scream for war because they have no skin in the game. It is not them our theirs that will dodge flying bullets. It’s the unconnected, the poor who will shoulder the burden not the wealthy bastard-cowards in high office and their profiteering cronies.

The cowards shit righteous indignation. They shit the story that our way of life is at risk and we are honor bound to preserve the greatest country to ever exist. They shit this propaganda as they did during the Vietnam conflict. We lost in Vietnam yet our way of life did not implode. Our way of life did not die unlike the countless soldiers on both sides of the conflict whose lives were cut short. Fact is, we are wealthier than ever. (Not as wealthy as those profiteering of the war machine.) Fact is, Viet Nam has become prosperous under Communist rule.

The only lasting answer to the question of conflict is for the leaders to talk as peers, converse as equals seeking mutually agreeable solutions. The real courage is engaging in the difficult work of reconciliation. The real courage is to look into ourselves and understand our contribution to the issues creating the chasm in relationship. The real courage is fixing ourselves first then asking the other sides to modify their behavior.

It is the courageous man who can say, “I am sorry.” It is the courageous woman who is the first to extend an olive branch of peace. It is the courageous leader that seeks to understand before seeking to be understood. It is the courageous leader who strives for the understanding that can lead to reconciliation.

Sadly, most nations are led by cowards so war won’t be going away anytime soon.

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