How to avoid scrambling your brain

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I’ve always aimed to be kind and gentle, but I’ve caught myself lately going full snark. It usually happens in the privacy of my home in response to something some political hack said on the morning news.

I believe there’s something about politics that seals off a portion of the brain. I’ve seen otherwise rational human beings say the silliest things when in the throes of political frenzy. Continue reading →

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TBT: The girl in my dream

Found in an archive – something I wrote 10 years agogirl in my dream

She writes songs. In fact, she had the No. 1 song in the world. The words and melody struck so many people so deeply they had to own it and play it again anytime they wanted.

She lives alone on the second floor of a two-story building. Maybe it was above a storefront, I couldn’t see the details outside. All I saw was a long hallway, windows along the one side and the sun coming in. But she didn’t look out the windows. She lives alone and never comes out. Continue reading →

Applying Sturgeon’s Law

pony dreamstime_s_17493455

“Ninety percent of everything is crap,” Theodore Sturgeon once famously said, or maybe he used a more colorful word.

One key, then, is to be prolific enough so that your 10 percent is a larger quantity. If you write 100 words, then only 10 words are gems, but if you write a million words, you might have a nice 100,000-word book in there.

Another key is to sift through all the crap and find your 10 percent. Or, to recall the old joke: Find the pony.

(This is 100 words – so which 10 words moved your mountains today?)

9 affirmations to make life better

9 affirmations

Thursday was Make Music Day. I missed it, although perhaps I did sense it in the air, because I did pull the guitar off the wall for the first time in ages and pick a couple of melodies for perhaps three minutes.

Every day ought to be Make Music Day. Heck, every day out to be Christmas, like the reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge keeping it in his heart all year. Every day ought to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Every day should be Bill of Rights Day.

Remembering what is good and right and gentle and kind ought to be a daily thing. Practice makes perfect, they say, after all. Continue reading →

Inside every old man …

sneakers

In those days his mind went anywhere his sneakers would take him, and the days were about butterflies and puppy dogs and firetrucks and park benches and the low crook of a tree and bottle caps and quarters discarded on the sidewalk and people passing on bicycles and clickety-clack shoes.

Nothing had changed except the sneakers, which had grown several sizes.

He still sent his mind on zigzag journeys around the universe, careening from star to star without pausing long enough to fully grasp the details or gain an understanding of the water pressure needed to put out a fire or where loose change comes from, anyway.

It’s your game

its your game

OK. No games this time.

Now, see? That’s your problem. Why “no games”?

Well … this is serious.

Is it, now? Or maybe the way to be serious about it is not to be serious at all. Play a game.

It’s not a game!

Well, maybe that’s the problem: Maybe you need to make it a game. Here are the rules, here’s the ball, over here is out of bounds, and there’s the net or the goal line or home. Get out there and play!

I think I see what you mean.

There is no “think.” You either see or you don’t.

Put me in, coach. I’m ready.

Oh, there’s no “coach,” either. You get to decide if you’re going to play today.

But if it’s a game, you need a coach to decide.

Not that decision – that one’s all yours. So – are you in? You gonna play.

But this is serious!

That’s one way to see it. Try another way.

Like, keep score? Set the time clock?

If you want. It’s your game. Just play. You’ll figure out how to cross the goal line, produce what you came here to produce, and do what you came to do.

And have fun?

That’s the whole point.

Daylight is promised every day

daylight is promised

For just a few weeks of the year in this corner of the world, you can get up as early as 5 (or even 4:15) a.m. to the promise of daylight whispering in the distance. Most of the day is just a dream this time of morning, a matter of faith rather than a clear reality. But know this, young buck: Daylight is promised. Daylight is promised every day.

Couldn’t you say just the opposite, as well? That no matter how long and how wonderful the day may be, darkness will overtake you in the end?

There’s the cycle defined, and the balance, and the first source of conflict among us, isn’t it? The pull between those who seek the daylight and those who seek the dark. You know what I notice? Most people choose to sleep through the dark and live their lives in the light.

But some also are comforted by the night. It’s quiet, and you can hear yourself think. Isn’t that why you wake before dawn breaks – to be wrapped in the waning moments of the dark?

The waning moments of the dark are the beginning of daylight. This is the time when all creatures – well, most of them, anyway – begin to stir and sing and look about and say, “Look and see! Taste and see! Life resumes! We are rested and recharged and ready to sing another day!” Life grows in daylight – sustenance is dependent on the light. Those who dwell in darkness are conquered by the light.

No. We need both darkness and light. You can’t dwell forever in light, either. You need the owl and the racoon and the other night dwellers to complete the circle of life.

It may seem that way. But we all instinctively seek the warmth of daylight. When evil is exposed, we speak of bringing it forward into the light where it can no longer hide in darkness. We are creatures of the light no matter how much we may be fascinated and curious and even attracted by the dark.

Too much light and heat, I grant you, can be harmful, even deadly. But darkness and cold bring a quicker death to the soul as well as the body. The promise of daylight sustains us through the night, which is the time when we pause to recharge and renew so we can thrive in the daylight – our natural home.

No matter how dark the path you walk, daylight will overtake you if you just hang on.