Resistance Is Welcome

Alf has surprised me with daffodils and purple flowers popping up this summer. My garden has never looked so colorful even though we have the worst soil on the planet. The Sahara has more chances of sprouting flowers than my front and backyards. It’s hard clay, that when broken up with toil and sweat, smiles at you for a moment, and then calls out to the clods and they come scampering back to form an impenetrable layer of steel that refuses all welcome to things green. 

Sort of like the attitude people have when confronted with the truth. It can be about anything. Health, food, books, religion, even where to take a vacation. Nobody likes to be told about something they haven’t thought of themselves. There’s an immediate revulsion. Never mind that what you’re suggesting is really good stuff, and will help them. That doesn’t seem to be the point. It’s being told something they have to do that makes them bristle. So I ask why the TED Talks are so popular, or the online seminars for turning you into a celebrity for 10 minutes garner thousands of likes on social media? Maybe the clue lies in this: if you appeal to a person’s ego instead of his well-being you stand a better chance of being heard.

There’s a word for that – pride.

Calvin says, “Hey, I run away when I hear the word bath.” 

A New Friend

I met a woman I instantly fell in love with. Her name is Cordelia Spencer and she’s a retired family therapist of 30 years who now wants to spend her time writing mysteries.

She’s moved out of the Bay Area for Southern Oregon where she’s among her kind – writers, actors and impersonators.

“Having spent so many years listening to patients I feel I can become them,” she says with a chuckle.  “Oh the stories I can tell.”ashland trees

Her one companion who is allowed to distract her is Maurice, a 2-year old Cardigan Corgi who was bequeathed to her by a patient who died.  You will find Maurice with a wary eye constantly by her side. “At first I was angry at having to take him, but he’s become my best friend. I suspect he plotted his way into my heart.”

Cordelia and Maurice live in a condo overlooking a beautiful park filled with trees and a roaring creek. They have no furniture in the apartment except for a bed and a computer table for Cordelia’s laptop. Cordelia prefers it that way. She spent 30 years in a home with a husband and two children surrounded by clutter. Now she has the space she craves and likes it that way. Maurice, on the other hand is not so sure because he spent the first two years of his life on silk sheets and enjoyed a pampered life. Since being adopted he’s had to learn to be a dog.

So far Cordelia has been unable to write a word. Every time she opens her laptop her children call or a friend drops by. And they usually need help. And Cordelia can’t say no.

Calvin says,”I have to meet this Maurice character. Silk sheets? Are you kidding me?” beagle

 

 

 

 

Conversations on the Run #12

Everybody is hiding something – shame and fear are universal.  Topiary

The pug was so fat he looked like a caterpillar.

People want to improve their lives, but according to their own obsessions.

He has his own inner landscape that interests and amuses him.

Life is not your personal possession to do with as you please.

What is today will always be. Not so. You could die tomorrow.

Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.

You don’t have to believe everything you think.

Life creates a demand for wisdom.

Smearing paint on a canvas is an act of faith.

Don’t grow accustomed to the rubble around you.

Jesus is not a life coach.

Calvin says, “Here’s my quote – ‘Everyone should sniff the pee markings on the neighborhood trees to read the messages.'”  beagle

 

 

 

A Smart Swap

The Republican National Convention is over and now we’re hearing from the Dems.

Is there an empty chair in the house?

I have to admit that was a masterful stunt by Clint Eastwood. Without a teleprompter no less.

Did he memorize the script? Was there one?

He knew his message so well all he had to do was speak knowing he had a receptive audience. Even if the only thing he said was, “Make my day” he would have been received well.

Wait. He did do that.

To be fair he said a lot more than that, in a halting sort of way.

The trouble with these political rallies is that right now it’s all hoopla and applause, but in a year’s time disappointment will reign again. For Republicans and Democrats alike. That’s a guarantee.

There isn’t enough collective wisdom, money, or services to get the job done.

Government is no savior.

“We own this country,” Clint said. “Politicians are our employees and when somebody doesn’t do the job, it’s time to let him go.”

That’s a good point.

Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of term limits. In his view, it would “prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress…”

Are we ready to fire the whole lot? Senators, congressmen, governors, and mayors?

It used to be an honor to serve your country. You’d leave the farm for a period of time, go to Washington, do your duty as your state’s representative, and then come home and continue milking the cows.

A career politico was unheard of.

Nowadays that’s all we have. We’re saddled with the decent ones, the mediocre, and the messes.

Why do we keep voting them back in to office?

I say let’s send all the politicos home and replace them with the cows.

Calvin says, “The dairy lobbyists would love that! Finally their day in the hay.” 

The Street Crazies Aren’t Always People

My everyday morning commute to work is your typical jammed-packed-full-of-bodies-on-a-train experience. Nothing romantic or inspirational about it. I serves me well for characters in a story, for recording dialogue, and for picking up nuances of personality.

This morning, however, I met a character that made me laugh out loud.

His name is Buddy.

But Buddy is no ordinary personage.

He’s an English bulldog with panache.

I’ve seen Buddy before. He’s usually on the other side of the street with his owner, in an enclosed area between two buildings, barking at an orange ball the size of a watermelon. His owner is usually on his cell phone, so Buddy has to wait to get his attention. Hence the barking. Then his owner kicks the ball and Buddy waddles after it with more barking. His barking sounds more like snapping with a smoker’s voice. It echoes down the street and commands attention.

This morning I heard the snapping before I saw Buddy. This time he was on my side of the street. I rushed to catch up to him.

Buddy didn’t have his orange ball. Instead he was cruising down the street on a skateboard. 

That’s when I laughed out loud.

I caught up to him at the curb waiting for a car to clear the street. Buddy seems to know about streets and curbs and traffic because he was waiting patiently there. His skateboard had flipped over, exposing the four orange wheels. It seems orange is Buddy’s favorite color. He snapped and gnawed on one of the wheels.

“Flip it over,” his owner said.

Buddy barked with frenzy.

“Come on, Buddy, flip it over,” the man said.

Buddy opened his mouth, bit down on the wheel he was conversing with, and with a turn of his head, flipped the skateboard onto its right side. Then he nudged it with his nose, which in his case was his entire face, and pushed it across the street, which by now was empty of cars. Once on the next street, Buddy hopped on, peddled with his front right leg, gathered speed, then climbed on for the ride.

“How did you teach him to do this?” I asked the owner, a man as strong and street smart as Buddy.

“He taught himself. One day he got on it, and it’s been his thing ever since,” he said.

I looked up and Buddy had hopped off just in time before the skateboard crashed into a tree. It flipped over.

Apparently Buddy knows about trees, too.

“He’s getting good exercise,” I said.

“Yea, I’m hoping it will lengthen his life. His breed doesn’t live long, eight to ten years. Maybe with all the exercise he’ll live to be twelve,” the man said.

Then he added, as if talking more to himself than to me. “I don’t know what I’ll do without him. I like him better than people.”

Calvin says, “Buddy sounds deranged. Skateboarding? That’s like a beagle zip-lining with his nose. I’m also not happy sharing top billing with this creature.”

How To Do Your Real Work

Every so often I write about resistance. You know, the distractions we give in to that pull us away from our real work.

In my case, it’s writing. In yours it could be designing the next space vehicle.

Whatever your calling is, you’re familiar with the pull to distract.

Distractions allure you. Out of the blue you long to learn Latin. Or free-fall from an airplane. Or take tango lessons in Buenos Aires.

Maybe it’s not such a large vision that compels you to drop what you’re doing. Maybe it’s bull-riding lessons, finger painting, or singing with your canary.

Sometimes the distraction is even closer than that.

Facebook.

Twitter.

Pinterest.

Blogging. (Checking your analytics every hour)

Text messages.

Skype.

Video games.

I could go on, but you catch my drift.

The social media platforms are massive distractions! They will absorb you. Consume you. Smother you.

They  also:

Stall you.

Numb you.

Suck your energy.

They’re only a worthwhile investment when you’re building a posse of fans for your work.

Otherwise it’s death to your creativity!

Go on a diet.

Make a pledge to look at these platforms only after you’ve done your work.

Tell a friend to hold you accountable.

And then notice your productivity and creativity soar.

Calvin says, “Yep, when I get pulled off a scent, I end up in a ditch with thorns up my butt.”

 

 

 

 

How Your Smart Phone Is Biting You Back

According to experts in Europe, the smart phone might be to blame for sagging cheeks and droopy facial skin. More and more face problems are showing up in plastic surgeons’ offices.

The people are showing up, too, not just the face. And it’s not a pretty sight.

Apparently we’re bending over our computers and talking into our cell phones too much. This is causing our jaws to sag, our cheeks to flop, and our chins to recede like a wave in the ocean.

Plastic surgeons are all too happy to fix the problem. The new darlings of facial fixes are chin implants, tucked up cheeks, and straightened out jaws.

Sounds like an aerobics class on steroids.

So not only are we at risk for brain tumors because our phones are radiating our ears, but now we have facial creep.

Is there a solution?

How about rotary phones? They could be mini-devices in different colors to match our tablets.

We could invest in carrier pigeons and send notes to our friends and family by air. But that gets messy. You need rooftop cages and lots of seed. The clean-up is not pretty. And where do you go for birds with GPS brains who know your relatives?

We could, of course, revert back to writing letters. You know, the yellow pad with that instrument called a pen. Oh, but wait. We’d have to learn grammar and punctuation all over again. Thanks to texting and tweeting we can’t write a full sentence anymore.

Calvin says, “You brought it on yourselves. Technology has a dark side. Take a lesson from us beagles. We bay and sniff and snort. That communication never goes out of style.”