Musings on Following Sheep

Livestock farm, herd of sheepDreams of writing something dark and
Deep slip out of consciousness when
All that comes to mind are sheep.
The visit to the farm,
Sheep paintings on the wall.
Sheep everywhere. Sheep, sheep, sheep.

Ah, but we do a disservice to the sheep
Who distract us by being woolly and cute and
Sometimes bring us sleep.
They don’t talk about their past.
They don’t talk about it at all.
A forgotten piece of the capitalistic puzzle
When they displaced the yeoman from their fields,
Sending them unprepared into a world
That didn’t know what to do with them.
The curds and whey and wool of social upheaval,
Never have so many followers changed the world so
Unwittingly.

Who will be the sheep of tomorrow?  Baaa!
Who will lead where they follow? Baaa!
Curds and whey and bleu sheep cheese
Will take me to the dark and deep
And I’ll change the world while I sleep.

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Be Happy: Stop Feeding the Furnaces of Industry

FurnaceMore, more, more.

Ah, the superimposing of contentment onto possessions. There’s a social disease for you.

It’s like an insatiability. A vicious (and perhaps viscous) unfulfilling loop where we mindlessly feed our hard earned rewards back into the furnaces of industry.

The best part of this is that we’ve been conditioned to believe that this connection is useful, is necessary. It’s not true.  We’ve been manipulated.

We really just need to say no, to fight the conditioning that leads to false and shallow rewards. We need to step away from the furnace.

But how? Easy to say. Hard to do. It is after all a conditioned response, perhaps an addiction, and certainly a habit.

Let’s look at it like a habit. How do we break free for the conditioning of retail therapy?

The first step is to be ready to do some self-examination. To be honest about your motivations. To try and avoid rationalizations.

This will be hard. But the trick is to handle it one choice at a time, one interaction at a time. Don’t make it bigger than it needs to be.

Every time you go to buy something (let’s exclude consumable for now) have some questions you can ask yourself. A small checklist. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy anything ever, but that you can and should question the conditioning.

Here’s some possible questions:

  • Why do I need to buy this?
    • Is it because I am bored?
    • Is it because I am unhappy right now?
  • What is the purpose?
    • Am I replacing something old or broken?
    • Will I sell, give away or discard the old one?
  • Is this a new need or desire?
    • If it takes time, what activity in your life will it replace?
    • What is likelihood you will actually persist in using it?
      • This is where you have to be honest with yourself

Congratulation. Maybe you talked yourself out of buying something.

But, since this is a habit and you perform it for a reward, you still need the reward you were looking for if you don’t buy it. We all need rewards. We just need to get them from healthier and more sustainable efforts.

The reward, or need to feel good, can come from lots of sources. Try some of these.

  • Exercise and get in the sun
  • Volunteer and do charity work
  • Spend time with loved one
  • Get a massage

But at the end of the day the key is to be self-aware and make one choice at a time.

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Begging Vachel Lindsay’s Pardon

boom1Begging Vachel Lindsay’s Pardon

It’s not my fault, Vachel Lindsay.
I only came to read your words
And find inspiration.

I tried to find you in my house
But all the books in boxes
Are hidden from my eyes
Waiting for the paint to dry.

I would fulfill my mission.
I would find your verse.
I would toss kindling on my muse.
I would, I would, I would.

I found you on the Internet
(Though that is nothing to you).

The voice began without warning.
I lifted my head up, looked around.
A voice called out from the ether.
I calmed myself and listened.

Articulated and controlled,
Words perfectly spread,
Your words,
Marching step, step, step
Into my ears.

I listened for rhythm.
No.
For Inflection
No.
For dynamic.
No, no, no.

Words spoken cannot be unspoken.
Words heard cannot be unheard.

Beautiful words, your words,
Processed into perfect pointless diction.

Beautiful words, your words,
Rendered lifeless by a PC world.

And then a desecrated silence.
Boom, boom, boom.

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Having Faith in Your Choices: The Options Paradox

road1a“I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost

Not bad words to live by I suppose, but I get the idea somehow that this leads us to believe there is some one choice that will make all the difference.

Life is a lot of choices and in fact maybe life is just a continuous series of choices. Granted, I’m not saying they’re all significant, though certainly a pattern of similar small choices can began to have as much impact as big choices.

You see, sometimes in life you want more choices and sometimes you want less.

Too many choices and you are paralyzed. Too few choices and you feel trapped. The trick is knowing when to limit your choices and when to expand them.

For example, some young people graduating from high school or college have the world before them. They can choose anything they want (within reality) and yet they can’t choose. Too many choices. Even too many good choices. What if I pick the wrong one? What if to infinity. There’s no answer to that.

The same might be true for an adult who has been working the same job for too long and is looking to change.  But change to what? You’re an adult. You can do whatever you want. But you can’t choose.

This goes back to knowing when to expand your options and when to limit them. So for those struggling with making choices, I offer what we’ll call the Options Paradox: You have to limit your options in order to expand them.

This is the paradox where you have to have faith in yourself and the universe. No sugar coating this. The Option Paradox does not make choosing that one option easier. It’s still hard. It’s still stepping into the unknown. But obviously to break the gridlock, you have to choose one. Time to have some faith.  Faith that paradox is true. Faith in yourself, and faith in yourself is trusting you have the skills to make this work. And you do.

The key is that since you don’t know where you want to go (at least not consciously) it doesn’t matter where you start.  It’s the old adage I like to use when I travel by myself: If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t get lost. Now if you’re worried about what others will think, you can always quote Gandalf when they question your choices: All who wander are not lost.

So now you’ve committed to a path, a passion, a pursuit, a discipline. But the work has just begun. In order for the Option Paradox to play itself out you have to commit yourself to curiosity, to educating yourself about your new passion.   You have to do the homework. You have to dig in. Be active.

Because what you’re going to find is that this new discipline is much more nuanced, much more subtle, more fragmented than you thought. You’re going to know things you didn’t even know you didn’t know. Your general idea of your passion will explode like light through a prism. Each of those rainbow of colors emitting from the prism is a new path, a new choice, a new option. It’s how you begin to open up your options after that first limiting choice.

Now, you’ll make your next leap of faith and choose one of those. And maybe again and again, from path to path, from option to option. And sometimes those paths jump disciplines and you don’t even realize it. And soon you’re on a path that belongs to an option you eliminated in the first step. Whoa! How did that happen?

The Options Paradox, of course. How does it work? I have no idea, though I suppose perhaps on the belief that life is too complex to think we can pick a straight path and all we can do is choose the next best divergence that stretches in front of us.

So I leave you with this:

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Musings on Pepper Grinding

pepper2My Pepper Grinder is a piece of work.
I twist and I twist and I twist.
My hand grows weary and cramps
For a few sprinkles of black gold.

So I resort to salt.
Salt in large mouth jars
Where I reach my hand in and
Grab ample amounts to
Sprinkle liberally about. Gladly do the
Fleur de sel and flake salt
Rise to the occasion but while
Sel gris may be dark it cannot replace
The slivered goodness of black gold.

While I try to find optimism in
Knowing if I don’t replace my
Wretched pepper grinder
I will have a life-time supply
Of pepper corns, I also fear my
Blood pressure will suffer from
Frustration, over-exertion and
Sodium-laced veins.

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An Apology to the Bees

wild2An apology to the Bees for whom I planted the wild flowers,
The barrage of colors intended to seduce you into the yard,
Lure you with scents and promises of more,
A pollenic paradise beyond the floral gate.

Tomatoes and peppers and gourds.
Flowering feasts to frenzy upon and carry home.
And to return again and again to the never ending bloom.

You braved the life-giving rains and suckled on the wild flowers,
Waiting for the paradise to find its form.
You took shelter from the downpour, vowed to return anther day.
You returned and were patient for the sun
To come and supercharge the inevitable bloom.

Rain, rain go away, the garden soil is still wet today.
My roots are cold and damp and my leaves have caught
A cold and need to summer in the country.
My blooms are late and weak, of their produce we dare not speak.

Dear departed bees, I see you have left for
Greener blooms I cannot produce.
Don’t think that I’m a tease, nor intend to miss-please.
Please come again next year, my little pollen fiends.
The skies will be clear and the blooms will be dear.
I will save them all for you, my little honey bees.

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Musings on a Wooden Breakfast

biscuit2aNo food in the house today.
I stare at the wooden furniture
Biscuit sitting on the desk.
It doesn’t look all that inviting
But it looks better all the time.
Don’t worry. I won’t eat it.
It’s not that big anyway.
Would hardly be worth the effort
Even if I soaked it in the
Coffee from yesterday.
Maybe the German bakery is open.
They don’t sell biscuits though,
Nor scones or croissants.
Maybe a hard roll with
Raspberry jam would do.
I’m putting the furniture
Biscuit in the drawer now
So I stop thinking about it.
Don’t worry. I won’t eat it.

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