The Smile That Redeemed The Human Race

This was a touching piece I read from the blog Malcolm’s Corner

Malcolm's Corner

Compassion

Many years ago, in a different lifetime, I was hurting emotionally because of the actions of someone I loved. The exact cause is irrelevant. My face clearly showed anguish. As I was driving along I stopped at some lights and another car containing two young women stopped, facing me in the other direction. One of them looked straight at me, saw the pain in my face and flashed me a sympathetic and understanding smile. She said something to her friend and they both looked at me with expressions that said: “It’s all right. Nothing can be that bad.” I smiled  weakly in return but felt better. The load had been lifted, not completely, but I was no longer being crushed.

It was one of those incidents that you never forget. What exactly had transpired between us? No words had been exchanged. I had never met those two angels of…

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How a Logical Mind Responds to Life’s Trials

potterFind some clay. Pound it. Twist it. Make it soft and pliable. Divide it. Roll it into a clay snake. Scrunch back into one mass. Roll it into a perfect sphere. Smash it. Stop and contemplate it. Mold it. Sculpt it. Form the sinuous curves of your desired shape. Make it aesthetically pleasing. Feel the clay etched into your skin, the little valleys and hills, and its surprising moistness. Observe the clay stuff that got under your finger-nails. Stop daydreaming. Return to your sculpture. Labor. Sweat over it. Try so hard to make it the way it’s supposed to be. Feel frustration. Re-mold part of it. Mess up. Re-mold that part again. Stop and realize that your creation is fundamentally flawed and that not even Michelangelo could save it. Debate and ponder. Look at the clock. Feel reluctance. Bring your fist down in the center. Roll it all up into a ball again. Feel the regret. Feel the sadness. Feel the emotions ebb. Start again. Shape it.  Form it. Make it beautiful. Relish the effort. Start to see something great coming out. Keep on working. Find results. Get excited. Start working harder. Make a mistake. Try to correct it. Make it worse. Dismiss for future fixing. Sculpt another part. Make another mistake. Make another. Pause. Debate  the pros and cons of the new project versus the old. Weigh the mental image of the previous sculpture in your mind. Compare and contrast. Feel anger at the conclusion that the previous sculpture was better, and that you have destroyed the better work. Almost cry. Resist. Push back the emotions. Destroy the work. Roll it into a ball again. Re-focus and re-concentrate. Make strategies to avoid previous mistakes. Start again, with less vigor. Make a mistake. Get mad. Roll it into a ball again. Start molding again. Make another mistake. Yield to fury. Smash it with energy. Stop. Take a step back. Meditate. Master your emotions. Wait for a few minutes to pass. Return to the clay. Start molding again, carefully. Be slow. Take care. Correct minor mistakes. Feel patience drain like your energy. Ignore and continue in a meticulous manner. Be strong and continue to mold. See good results. Resist excitement. Be methodical. Obtain level of work superior to anything previously. Congratulate yourself silently. Continue working. Continue molding. Don’t make a mistake. Weigh likeliness of achieving previous sentence. Think deeply. Come to new conclusion. Resolve to not make a mistake for as long as possible. Continue creation.

Waiting for the Eye of the Storm

storm

The amazing thing about time is that it’s never where you want it. When you are the midst of a bad day, or even less-than-average day, time acts like molasses in winter; it doesn’t move. But when you want to savor something, grasp onto those oh-so-precious moments, the ones that are composed on warm summer days and authored in personal conversations, or spent with special people or saved by dancing outside on rainy days…they are like sand in a sieve. They spin away, and those wonderful weeks waste rapidly, replaced by bitter realities. If this was the stock market, it would be measured in bear and bull cycles, and you could watch the graph fall in recessions, and worse, into depressions. I feel like Kronos, the titan of time, has a personal vendetta against me. He stretches and freezes me, and then drops me like a stone. And when that happens, I enter one of the storms.

These tempests in my life are very much like badly behaved dinner guests. They rage and storm and feast upon patience and endurance until there is no flesh left and then they gnaw on the bones and bits of fat and suck the marrow. Their table manners are rude, and they burp and don’t wipe their mouths after their done.  Often, they don’t leave tips, leaving the table a mess. When the gluttons are done, I peek out from beneath the tablecloth and begin to clean up the disaster.

The storm will blind me and toss me about like a poor child on his birthday with a bandanna for a blindfold and a bat for protection. I feel walls and furniture around me to get around, because I don’t really see. I turn lights on, but I might as well keep them off. Nothing is Seen, and that’s not a lot to look at. But the wonderful thing is that even typhoons aren’t blind. They have an eye. The hurricane will blink and suddenly I can see. I’m in the Eye. It’s calm, because I can see the torrents and waves around me, but me and my life-raft drift limply for a blissful moment until the storm chooses to close its eye again and I’m sucked back into the chaos. But even that moment where I can see perfectly makes the rest so more endurable.

Sometimes, the eye comes upon me in a flash and I bask in it’s sunlight. Sometimes, when it gets especially dark and my hands start to shake because I have nothing to hold onto, I go looking for the eye. To find it, I sometimes do funny things. Recently, I set myself in alone, and cranked up the music. I took a pen to paper, and doodled next to my mug of herbal tea. By the time I was done, the selected songs were all over and repeating, the paper and my hands were black with ink, and the mug was empty. And for a moment, just one moment, I was in the eye. I could see me.

The Sacred Duty of Education

teacher's desk

To learn is one of the most noble pursuits of man. To increase one’s knowledge is synonymous to increasing one’s self worth, as least in a secular mode of thought. Value determines relationships, careers, and happiness. Knowledge is a foundation for where one goes in life and will ultimately determine the person one becomes.  Where beauty and physical prowess fade and wither, an education, if oiled and kept in good repair, will last longer than any other human capacity.
So knowledge remains the most valuable stock in the market economy. It will always return, but not always in a pecuniary manner. I am thus obligated to be a giant sponge, and let scores of teachers swarm me, some who have degrees and work in schools, and others less formal. Some I call my mentors, others my friends and families, and many my flaws.
The ethereal manner of some of my teachers remind me of shades, and they dress in gauzy costumes and dance like leaves who haven’t been told it’s not autumn. They entrance me with beautiful colors and show me hidden alcoves where fish and denizens flash in pristine pools. Their innocent natures deceive me and I watch as their pretty faces stretch into wolfish fiends as their jaws begin to tear at my soul. They are my mistakes and flaws, and I fend them off limply with a flyswatter.
In the end, whether my teachers bring me joy or bring me pain, I must invite them into the forum of my thought’s, where receptors in my conscious carefully sift facts and truths into a receptacle for later use. I dare not dismiss any of them; the ones I despise teach me the hardest lessons. Besides, it is my sacred duty to listen.

A New Outlet

In a world like ours, an audience is one thing that is not lacking. A few simple keystrokes and the world knows your intimate thoughts. What an idea! In centuries and millennia past, the labor of publishing an idea was one of great toil, and lacked instantaneous results present in today’s age.

One of the earliest forms of publishing was practiced by Sumerians as they practiced one of the most early writings called cuneiform. Egyptians used pictograms we know today as hieroglyphs. Paper, revolutionary paper, was first widely created by ancient Chinese. Another great bound in publishing an idea was accomplished in the printing press and movable type, thank you very much Gutenberg. Even with all this, the distribution of anything valuable in the written word was costly, and only reached a small portion of the population. More was needed.

Transportation was one developing technology. In the ancient Americas, lack of a swift pack animal forced the innovation of a mail system by runners, called Chasquis, along their extensive road system. Romans established a more effective system with horses and new road-making technologies. Roads and horses were followed by Fulton’s commercialization of the steamboat and the iron horse. Before transcontinental trains the East and the West kept contact through the legendary Pony Express. Clipper ships then ships running on coal and other fuels began to dominate the ocean and made the world small. But not until the telegraph was distances once great made small, and the earliest idea of ‘instant messaging’ was put forth.

Collecting of published ideas to give scope to these were needed as well. That means libraries. There was the ill-fated Library of Alexandria, the gathering of knowledge during the Ottoman empire, the collecting of invaluable tomes in monasteries during Medieval times, and the establishment of the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress. This made information readily available to any seekers, and yet they weren’t so readily available until the dawn of the Information Age and the VAST data-bases that cyber-space offers.

And yet another step was needed. Literacy was needed to make a book anything more than fancy toilet paper. Literacy remained often to the privileged upper class and skilled class for centuries, and even then small amount of populations could read. More advanced alphabets and the increasing of reading material opened up more to the need to learn reading. But literacy would have to wait for liberal thinkers of each era to advocate widespread education. Steps backward were even taken, such as the fall of the Roman Empire, and the Catholic clergy hold upon Europe’s knowledge in the Medieval Ages. But as liberal governments were established and education reforms took place, the eyes of the world were opened.

All these evolutions and more had to take place before I could type this message, before you could access it, and before either of us could master this system of markings known as the English alphabet. It’s amazing, and it’s beautiful. It is a manifestation of the ultimate quest of freedom.

Yet I have one complaint. Such an universal ability to publish has made getting ideas out so easy, so popular, that the written world has become inundated with a payload of drivel. Writings that are crude and pointless and shallow have swamped us. These wastes flood and drown out truly worthy ideas in an ocean of words. It is an indication of the falling value of one’s opinion, and the diminished power of word.

This explains my new blog. I have chosen what I think is the most appropriate outlet for my written word, my thoughts, to express to the public word with the maximum ability to be spread without being sullied. I promise quality of work and quality of thought, something I consider refreshing and pure in today’s world. It is a great desire of mine to do this, and I hope that you, dear reader, may take the time.

So I begin