Friday, June 27, 2014

Travel Anxiety

Today is the first day of my first vacation this year. It will be a short vacation, three and a half days long. I am supposed to be going out of town for two of those days. Something I’ve been looking forward too for quite some time. Yet, there is a large part of me that just wants to stay home and sleep. To not go anywhere. Just rest and try and let my life catch up with me.
            I know that if I don’t go, I will regret not going, yet I know if I do go, I will most likely end up missing my home, my porch and my family. Yes, I’m going on this journey alone. Just me and my bike and eventually a hotel room to rest my weary bones. Hopefully the place has a pool or a hot tub I can soak in.
            I’m still trying to figure out why I’m going. Sure I have planned this for almost a year now, and I know it is something that I’ve wanted to do, but now the day has come and I’m getting cold feet. Is it because I’m worried about traffic? No. Worried something may go wrong? Not really.
            You see, this trip is to a convention. A convention where I know some people and don’t know others. A place where one ends up talking to all sorts of folks and form friendships through similar interests. So why wouldn’t I go? I mean, here are people that like the same thing I like and yet I’m still hesitant about going, what seems to be the problem?
            I guess it comes down to my social awkwardness. I don’t seem to do too well in situations where you have to meet lots of people. True, I’m pretty comfortable in a one on one situation but when you introduce folks that I have no clue of as to who they are? Well, I just shut up and sit in the corner and observe. I’ve stated that fact before.
            In my youth, I had no issue of going out and greeting folks, traveling and looking for adventure, but here I am, approaching if not in middle age and all I want is comfort, peace and quiet. I want my routine. Unlike the life of a youngster who is always looking towards the horizon I just want to enjoy a slower pace of life. That is unless I’m on my Harley. Then, all bets are off.
            Now I know I will take this trip and I know I will have a good time. Okay, I hope I will have a good time. But for right now, I just want to sit at home, prop my feet up, watch mindless television and fall asleep. I don’t want to pack my stuff, I don’t want to leave my life behind even for a few short days. But I will and I am.
            I hope to have a good time. I hope my old friends are doing well and that the folks I will meet will enrich my life somehow. Then again, maybe I will just hole up in my room, turn on my computer and stalk the fine friends and family of facebook.


            Have a great weekend and wish me luck.

Friday, June 20, 2014

American Dissention?



Cogito ergo Sum. But what does it really mean? Sure we know from the Latin translation it means “I think therefore I am” and that Veni Vedi Vidci means “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
            While in boot camp for the United States Navy my company had a motto. It was “Seek, Engage, Destroy.” This was in the mid-1980’s, Reagan was our Commander in Chief, we were all in our teens and nothing could stop us. We were the greatest, the best trained and the most arrogant of all soldiers, sailors and marines ever to be trained by the United States. We were the answer to the hippy loving, peace seeking, let sleeping dogs lie myopic view of the world.
            But we didn’t really know what we were doing, did we? We followed orders without question and did our best to make sure our duties were performed to the best of our abilities. Was this a mistake? Was this blind following by men and women who didn’t understand the world politics? Maybe. But, now, looking back, did we do the right thing? I don’t know. I wish I did.
            Sure, we partied, we showed tactical support, we had a force that no one could deny and we didn’t care what others thought about us and our antics. We, the 1980’s soldiers and sailors had no clue as to what we were doing. How could we? We were raised to follow orders, do our job and ignore all the naysayers that were around us. Are we to blame? Maybe. But then again, we were doing what we were taught. Just like the modern day terrorists and the Nazi war criminals. Although our motives were not so distorted nor were they as Machiavellian as our enemies. Or so I hope.
            In the 1960’s there were musicians and poets who stood up against the injustice in the world. We, barely semen in our fathers bodies could not even begin to understand what was going on. However, we are now in the mid-life stage of our lives and we have no excuse to why we sit back and watch elected officials send brave men and women halfway across the globe in the name of democracy.
            Democracy… LOL… what a crock of shit.
            What is it? What is the definition of the word that countless people have died for? I can’t begin to fathom it. All I know is that we were founded as a republic but somewhere along our two hundred and fifty years of existence it has gotten bastardized into something that truly means nothing.
            From everything I’ve ever read in history all historians have advised staying out of the Middle East, it will always be volatile and unattainable. So why are we there? Weapons of mass destruction? A falsehood. Democracy? A blatant lie. Support for revolutionaries? Look at Cuba. No, we are there for one simple reason. A reason one of our Presidents warned us about… that reason is the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). For you see, for any entity to truly survive, all they need to do is justify their existence, which the MIC has done. They’ve done it at the cost of our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. Our nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
            I applaud any family that has lost a family member in the cause and believe of our way of life. To not do so would be as sacrilegious as cursing the constitution and the bible in my eyes. My question is, did they really need to lose their loved ones? I wish I had the answer. I’m not smart enough nor do I have all the information available as the people who place others in the line of fire.
            However, I do know this, what is going on right now is an unwinnable war, a situation where none of our warriors have a winnable situation. There is no exit plan. I wish there were. But, our current and past administrations have not felt that getting away from a no win situation is worth the lives of the patriots blood that is spilled on a daily basis.
            Don’t get me wrong, I believe in our country and I believe that a democratic government is better and an Aristocracy or even a Dictatorship type of rule. We do have a good system. Even as broken as it is.
            The graft, the backdoor deals, the lies and the inconsistent behavior of our elected officials are truly our own yoke to hold. And it seems to me, no one is questioning the behavior of the people who pass there selves off as our constituents.
            Where are the voices of today? The Dylans? The Who? The Hendrix? The Jopins? The Smothers Brothers? Are they absent? Are they watching semi-reality television? Have they become so inebriated by over the counter pharmaceuticals that they can’t even form a cohesive sentence?
            It’s upsetting. Not in a judeo-christian way but more in he way of “whats best for our youth and future.”
            I’m at a loss. I want some dissention. What the hell happened to the dissention in America? Our fore-fathers stood up against a four percent tax on tea. TEA for fucks sake. Unless you live in the South, tea means nothing to you. Today, however, there is more than a ten percent tax on coffee. COFFEE. The crap over ninety percent of Americans drink each morning from some global coffee monger who started off in a rainy city in the state of Washington. You pay more for a cup of bean juice in two days than you would pay for a pound of ground beans in a grocery store on any given week. This makes very little sense to me.

            Fiscally, this makes a lot of sense. Offer something to people who are too lazy to push a button for themselves at an elevated price and then try to sell them some sort of liberal music so they still feel as if they are fighting against the powers that be. Genius. However, you won’t find me there. Nope. Even the thought upsets my stomach just like the overpriced, overcaffinated coffee and pleasant surroundings make my innards roil.
            I ache, no, I yearn for a singer, a songwriter who will stand up against the current powers that be. The politicians, the businessmen, the corporations and the advertisements that beg for our hard earned dollars. I want dissention. I want questions. I want people to stand up against the status quo and say “I’m smarter than this. I want truth. I want honesty. I want to be treated like the intellectual that I am.
            I know I won’t get it. How could I? Who in our age would want to give up their comforts just to make a point on their principals?
            What are our principal’s? Good question. I wish I had the answers. I wish I could take one of my almost middle aged, bony looking fingers and point to a culprit. But I can’t. Because we are all to blame. Our scarred, scraggly, chubby appendages only end up pointing to ourselves. We are to blame. We are our own worst enemies. We have to be, we keep putting professional politicians in places where they don’t belong.
            Jefferson, Adams, Washington and more never felt there should be someone who would make a career of serving in a public office. Are term limits the answer? Is the outlaw of outside constituents the answer? Or, should we just scrap the entire system and do what Jefferson suggested… which is rewrite the constitution every generation… aka twenty years?

            I don’t know, I wish I did. I just know I’m pretty disillusioned by what the hell has been going on in the states for over twenty years. Where are our hero’s? Where are the visionaries of our generation? Where are the people who will make a difference? I don’t know but I suspect they have gotten caught up in the convoluted world of “Reality Television” and have no inkling as to how to get out of that rabbit hole.


Have a great week. And if you can, perform some sort of public dissention. Even it it means just giving a Law Enforcement Officer a hug and a kiss.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mid Life Faith Crisis


            Last year I bought my motorcycle. Something I’ve been yearning for almost my entire life. Yes, it was a dream come true and oddly enough it came to fruition at the age most men and some women experience what is known as a mid-life crisis. I know there were rumors to the fact that I was going through this sort of trial in my life. But I wasn’t. No, in fact I really don’t believe I will ever act in that manner. No matter how adamant some people are and the rumors they spread. Yes, I hear the rumors.
            The funny thing is, to me at least, is that a motorcycle is completely within my character. After all, I’ve been riding for most of my life, I started when I was eight. So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I purchased one. I mean, I have long hair, facial hair, I smoke cigars, I like rock and roll, and I speak my mind when asked. (all of these traits have gotten me into a pickle in one form or another over the span of my existence.)
            For me, when a person goes through a mid-life crisis they change a lot of things about themselves. What they wear, their hair, who they hang out with and purchase frivolities that don’t make too much sense to anyone. True, some would say owning a motorcycle is a frivolity but I assure you, it is a much needed part of my life. So aside from the machine that sits gleaming in my driveway, I don’t think I acted improperly. At least on the outside.
            On the inside, there are stirrings and thoughts that won’t go ignored.
            I like reading, I like watching documentaries and I love learning new things. So much so that my library in my house has overflowed into my office at work. (I hide books there, don’t tell anyone.) I’ve always liked to learn things and the subject doesn’t really matter to me too much. Of course, when I’m passionate about a topic, well, not much on this earth can stop me from absorbing all the information about whatever it is I want to know about.
            In school, back in the day when there was no internet, no mobile phones and definitely no cable television, I would spend hours in the public library and school library. So much so that most of the librarians wouldn’t even bother to have me check out a book. They shrugged and let me walk right out the door with them. They knew I’d be back and I’d return the tome or tomes I was absconding with. But when I really wanted a book, which was where all information came from back then, I’d try to save my money and purchase it. Or collect it by other means.
            My family, mainly my mother, I believe understood this about me and she singed me up for the National Geographic Book Club. Great club. Every month or two I’d get a new book about some exotic far off land, marine life, or various other topics. Hell they even did one on space. I still have those books sitting quietly in a box in my attic. I want to get them down and go through them one day and add them to the other Nat Geo Books I’ve collected over the years and am currently hoarding in my office. But one book, one tome, one hard covered dead tree spoke to me the most above all the others and it’s photographs drew me in so deep I dreamed about actually seeing the real artifacts they displayed.

            I’m sure you’re saying to yourself right now, “What is this book? Why was it so important and can I actually read it? The answers are simple. The book was titled “World Religions” and I believe you can still find a copy on the internet somewhere.
            As I stated the photographs of all the religious artifacts and places were amazing and the theologies as explained by the writers were not dumbed down. They were forthright and easy to read. Although, some of the reasoning behind the religions and how they started were a bit tough for my young mind to comprehend but I did my best. When I had questions, I went to the encyclopedias or dictionary. I figured out what I needed to and motored on.
            As I grew older I be-bopped around to various places and wherever I went I was subject to going to whatever faith based sanctuary the people who were housing me went to. I didn’t have an issue with going from say Catholic to Protestant to Methodist to Babtist or taking part in any of the creed based rituals. I went with the flow, tried to understand what was being done and kept my faith strong.
            Yes, I said faith. I am a believer. Which is where all this is headed.
            You see, while my lust for knowledge was and is not just faith based. I like science and math as well. All aspects of those two subjects. So much so that when I was a sophomore in High School I took an electronics class just to learn how electricity works. Fascinating subject. I highly recommend you delve into it. That’s where I learned about Tesla and Edison. Oh, and if you’re wondering, I’m a Tesla guy.
            In that same year my science class was learning about Einstein and what he did for the scientific community. While in History we were learning about the World Wars. I had a killer history teacher, even back then he considered both WWI and WWII to be almost the same war, with just a small break in-between the fighting. Heady times for my brain. Although my grades didn’t really show I was learning much, I was and I retained a lot of the knowledge as well and that has served me to this day.
            On television, between Kung-Fu theatre, Westerns and Horror movies I was watching all types of science programming. This of course was broadcast on the local PBS station. I was also a huge fan of the “In Search of…” series with Leonard Nimoy.
            All through those years of my life, the learning of our world, solar system, galaxy and universe never did I question my faith. Never once did the science part of my brain step into the faith part of my brain and vice-versa. I took things in stride and didn’t question them. The way I figured it, the Big Bang was the start of creation and it was just a term scientists used to coincide with the creationist story. After all, it fits.
            There was a void, God spoke, and everything was created. BOOM!
            Today however, my brain has been doing some crazy tangential thinking. It’s kind of a curse for me. For you see, if I don’t concentrate and keep my lizard like brain on the more crude and human side of life, it just wanders off into one of the many storage closets I have in my gray matter then it opens the door, pulls out a box and opens it up and decides to play with whatever it finds.
            Lately my mind has decided to use my knowledge of science and religion like a Punch and Judy doll. It keeps bashing them together and asking questions that humans have been asking since the dawn of our time. So I did what any modern man would do. I turned on my computer, went to Netflix and started watching endless hours on religious programing (Caution, it is painful at times) as well as endless hours of scientific programing. All of them supposedly un-biased documentaries. (Note: I don’t think they were all un-biased. In fact I had to turn some of them off because they were clearly an advertisement for whatever the program was about.)
            I did manage to watch a great program, hosted by Stephen Hawking which delved into the big bang and how it may have happened. Very interesting and extremely persuasive in its vagueness. The gist of the film came down to this, the universe was created before time and space. It appeared out of nothing by a quirk that deals with sub-atomic physics. Hawking stated that since there was no time before creation, God couldn’t have done the creating because God didn’t exist and doesn’t exist out of time. (That is a paraphrase, don’t quote me on it.)
            Now, for the most part, I agreed with him through the entire show. Until that last part. Now, I’m no genius, nor do I play one in real life. But, if God does exist and throughout the course of humanity we’ve been looking for him and can’t find him wouldn’t you say he either has a really good hiding place or… and this may be a stretch… couldn’t he/she exist out of time? Wouldn’t that be the best place to hide? I mean, if I controlled everything and didn’t want to be found, I would just zap into either a place of temporal stasis or out of the loop of time altogether and watch the fireworks through my porthole. I know, a bit na├»ve but it’s just a thought.
            You see, to me at least, I look around my yard, neighborhood, city, state, country, world, solar system, galaxy and universe and I see a lot of order that has been made out of chaos. A lot of things just make sense. Things work and balance out like an amazing machine. A machine that only a great Machinist or Creator could assemble. To think that it was ALL an accident of a stray sub-atomic particle deciding it wanted to perform it’s best impression of a pop-corn kernel is as preposterous to the faith community as a grand creator is to the science community.
            As for now, yes, I’m in a bit of a mid-life-faith-crisis. But that only means I’m more of a deist, like the great Thomas Jefferson and others than I am of a blind sheeple walking into whatever popular religion is being taunted today. I believe in God and Science. I believe there is a way both communities can live, thrive and survive together especially when both sides don’t have all the answers to all the questions. No matter how loud each side screams they do or don’t.

            Have a great week.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pain


            We all have it. Some buckle under to it. Some thrive on it. Of course that is just physical pain. There are treatments for that. Little white, yellow and beige pills prescribed by doctors or purchased over the counter are good for temporary relief.
            This is not the pain I’m talking about. The pain I’m referring to is of a more mental and emotional nature. A pain that can only be inflicted upon a person by someone they love. Heartache? Yes. That is one of the types of pain I’m talking about. So is disappointment. Disappointment in one’s self for not seeing the clues to what is going on in the dark recesses of another’s life. Anger. A big cause of pain that leads to regret.
            Theses emotional pains can manifest themselves into physical pains and you can treat that. Sort of. The pill(s) will numb your sore spots, call your stomach, and make you a mellower person. Yet deep down inside you are still hurt, broken and suffering. There is no pill for that. No quick fix. This is the kind of pain that breaks a person, stunts their growth as a human and prevents them from becoming the best they can be.
            True, sometimes we bring this upon ourselves through the decisions we make and sometimes, it is heaped upon us by the people in our life that make decisions that go against all they’ve been taught. How do you fix that? Better yet, how do you protect yourself from that? Well, being a hermit on a mountain would help. But that isn’t an answer now is it? After all, we are social creatures who live, thrive and survive by interacting with others in our community.
            Truth is, I don’t think there is an answer. You can’t steel yourself away from the ones you love and care about in an attempt to protect yourself from them or yourself. You have to roll with ebbs and tides of life and the maelstrom of shit that brews just off the coast of happiness and pleasantness and try and be prepared for whatever it is that comes your way.
            You need to hold close the ones you love regardless of the pain they have caused you. Forgive them for the mistakes they’ve made and move forward in life. You have to have hope that one day all the lessons you’ve tried to impart upon them will sink in and that they will understand what you meant.
            But Skip, you say, life is long and how are we supposed to know when the knowledge is actually codified and understood? Answer; you don’t. You can’t. It takes years for those kind of answers to come to fruition. I know from firsthand experience. I was the knucklehead causing strife, pain and anger growing up. I think I’ve learned from my mistakes and I hope that I’m not making too many of them with my responsibilities today. But I don’t know. I won’t know and I can’t know. Which is another sort of pain. I call it my flux state.
            I do believe that the tender side of human nature holds the answers to these questions. I have to believe they do. Simply because when the storms of life are raging our immediate reactions are to pull someone close and make contact with them. It’s true, at times other emotions get in the way, the anger and disappointment fill our bodies with a strength that is easily tapped into but if you do tap into them, you will only cause more destruction, pain and anger. It’s an evil and vile cycle. But if you reach out with tenderness, love and understanding even if you don’t feel it at the moment, you will soon enough.
            So I guess what I’m saying is, the answer to the non-physical pain we heap upon each other in our daily lives is Love. Plain and simple. Just Love.
            I don’t normally do this but it is needed here; a biblical quote.
            Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

            Have a great week.