The miracle of this instant

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One hundred years from now – perhaps even five years or (heaven forbid) one year from now, this beautiful furry beast will be gone.

But she is alive and well now, and beautiful now, and so I stroke her fur and hug her and know that this unique and special life is passing through, now, in this instant.

And she can only be fully known and appreciated now.

Right. Now.

So I stop everything and hug her.

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Quiet speaks louder than words

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Sometimes it’s best to sit in quiet – not even listening, or waiting for God or the universe to speak, just sitting quietly.

And, more often than not, from the quiet comes an answer.

Not “the” answer. Just “an” answer.

Someone wise once said, when you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

When you do know where you’re going, you’ll discover that many roads lead that way.

Pick one and head for your destination.

When I tap my inner Bradbury

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I am not coy and make no apologies about the influence of Ray Bradbury on my writing. Obviously I am no Bradbury, but he is the kind of writer I aspire to be. His phrases sing, his joy and enthusiasm are infectious, and at his best he transports me to another place.

When I tap my inner Bradbury, I fly across fields – tramp through ravines and deep woods – jump on rickety old summer porches that creak underfoot but are somehow rock solid – I launch into space feeling the pressure of G-forces, or I watch with hands clenched tight to chain link as the rocket sparkles into the night with a roar – I land on a distant shore and plant the flag of Tomorrowland – I hear the whisper of the long dead (or recently dead) just beyond my range of hearing – I jam with words as my notes and the pen as my musical instrument, a symphony of syllables, a ballad old as life – a butterfly’s wings beat down a lighthouse thousands of miles and millions of years away.

Do I still know who you are today, after I go back in time and comb my hair the other way on a certain day? Does yesterday happen if I change the day before?

Turn around, turn around, turn around and it’s 60 years later, and who would ever guess this is what would have become of that child? Flash and it’s 50 years later, and the stories I was reading on paper are up on the big screen. Boom and it’s 40 years later, and the arrogant young man finally understands why he was alone for so long.

Thirty years gone and the colleagues have been scattered but still love those times and each other. Twenty years ago I was in this same place, not knowing how much better it would become after a few wrong steps. Ten years ago I knew I would do what I was doing forever, never guessing exactly when forever would arrive.

And now, here and now, sitting in a place called Crossroads, I stare into the blue sky and look around at the trees, and hear the traffic of cars and trucks not far away on their way to myriad destinations, and I feel a spark of fear over what may come next – but it turns into a grin.

Life – it’s life that comes next. Where there’s life there’s hope, Samwise Gamgee once said – a statement that has resonated and buoyed me through the years.

To see the world in three dimensions

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My eyes needed to be trained to work together, and so depth perception was a revelation to me when I discovered it almost five decades into this journey. My glasses are equipped to remind my eyes to cooperate, but sometimes I have to concentrate to open up the world.

One recent morning greeted by sunrise and a wonderful tapestry of clouds, I strained to try to figure out which clouds were closer to me and which further away, and slowly they opened from a two-dimensional painting to their three-dimensional reality, and the Maker’s artistry was revealed to me in all its glory.

Bonus: When I cast my eyes earthward again, I saw the land surrounding us in its fullness as well – the space across the fields with its flower beds (and the flowers themselves) and the trees in their proper spacing. Having worked to open up the skies, my eyes were fully cooperating and I saw the everyday sight even more clearly than normal.

My recalcitrant eyes might be seen as a disability or a disorder to some, but to overcome the problem and to see the world in a new and vibrant way is a gift of hard-to-describe enormity. The world is big and wide, I always knew – but deep, too. I perceive that now!

A bridge at Crossroads

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When you are sad – for there will come a time when you are sad – remember a time you were so happy you wished this moment would last forever – because it does last forever as long as you remember.

When you are afraid – for there will come a time when you are afraid – remember a time when you felt so safe and comfortable you knew nothing could shake your world.

When you are lost – for there will come a time when you are lost – remember a time when you found a place that you never thought you’d reach and surprised yourself that you had it in you.

We are crossing a bridge from here to there, and while the here and there are surely important, what matters most is the view from the bridge.

A writer of stories and encouraging words

I never took advantage of my bully pulpit as small-town newspaper editor to promote the books I have written over the last eight years or so. It didn’t seem fair to leverage that audience when others had to buy ads to do the same.

But now that some of that audience has followed me here, wondering “What happened to Warren? What will he do next?” it behooves me, as young Chris Carter does at the end of every X-Files episode, to declare, “I made this!”

I promise I won’t engage in blatant advertising every day. This website is mainly the place where I deposit fragments of thought and potential stories, and offer some encouragement against the rampaging tides of Dark Silly that threaten your calm every day.

When I sat down some time ago to create a personal mission statement, the words that emerged were short and simple: “I am a writer of stories and encouraging words.” And that is the mission I aim to fulfill every time I sit down at this keyboard. Continue reading A writer of stories and encouraging words

Bring on the next adventure

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When the news broke late last week that layoffs were imminent at the corporation that owns the venerable small-town paper where I worked for most of 14 years, I started to think about how logical it would be to lay me off. I suppose all of my co-workers had similar thoughts about themselves, but I just had a feeling.

I don’t take horoscopes seriously, but I do read mine because they often contain good advice. On Monday morning, I read it out loud to Red and we both laughed nervously:

“Changes at work are coming: This could be the luckiest turn of events that’s happened in months. To prepare yourself, bone up on your skills and make sure your client base is ample.”

If ever there was a moment when I went over to the dark side and embraced the idea that my fate is sealed by the position of stars light years away, that might have been that moment. Whether or not I “believed,” in any case, by golly, it was good advice.

And: A little after noon on Tuesday, I was given the word that I was part of the company’s latest round of cuts to contain costs.

It was a cordial conversation, and I was assured this was not a performance decision but an economic one yada yada yada, and they explained some nice going-away benefits, and off I went to let the folks who work with me know they were safe, and only I was leaving (at least in the newsroom; a trio of other, tremendous support people were also let go).

Now, my dear friends and colleagues have railed about how could the company do this, and I love them, but let’s note that the goal is to keep the doors open, and under this ownership the newspaper has endured for 12 long years since the previous owner decided he couldn’t make a go of it any longer. My fondest desire was always to grow the paper despite the odds, but in the absence of such growth, the alternative is to cut costs, and frankly I was the costliest cost in the room.

The paper survives to fight another day. My loyalty has always been to the 154 years of folks who toiled under the banner before me and with me, and not to the corporation that bought the brand, and perhaps that helped put me on the list. You know what? It doesn’t matter. The brand survives, and if anyone can save it from oblivion, it’s the incredible journalists and other people who still work in that building.

I am so proud to have been a part of that tradition and grateful for the high bar set by the people who walked those hallways before me. Anytime I started feeling my oats, all I had to do was remind myself, “Bluhm, you’re no Chan Harris,” or someone would come along to say it for me. I wouldn’t have tried as hard as I did without those noble ghosts chasing me.

Today is the first day of the next phase of my life, and oh, what an adventure it shall be.