Category Archives: writing

The Imaginary Sniper


What do you see when your fingers are propped above the keyboard in the

anticipation of writing a post or story?  Anyone could logically say there is a blank space or page.  And while this is true, there are many of us who tend to imagine the onset of disaster if a mistake is made.  Maybe you type a letter or word that just doesn’t seem right.  Maybe you end up writing a whole sentence that doesn’t fit.  It’s called an error.  You can fix this.

Writing a grammatically incorrect sentence is far different from hitting someone in the nose.  Revising what you typed is a temporary setback or even a way to learn more about writing.  It is not a crime.  An error in typing is not going to bring on imminent danger.  I can tell you this all day long, but a lot of us will still think, feel and imagine an imaginary sniper ready to shoot us upon the first stroke of the key.  Why else would you sit there and think about what to say?  What is with the hesitation?

Writing is simple.  I’m not saying talent comes easy.  But the task of putting words on paper or the screen is an elementary function which most of us have.  Using your fingers to make words is something that human beings can do in any state of mind.  The ability to create a fluid, coherent message with words will only come with practice.  But the fingertips have to touch the keys.

To understand my claim about the imaginary sniper, try writing a story on a general subject as soon as the blank page appears.  Or get a notebook out and apply the pen or pencil immediately.  Don’t stop for corrections.  Just continue writing.  Pay attention to how your body reacts.

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Catalyst


Sometimes we have to get our foot in the door on the matter of developing healthy relationships.  The most basic functions for human beings are scary and awkward.  Take conversation between people from two different age groups.

One person is seven or eight years old and the other is forty.  Maybe both of them live in the same household, but because of age they are worlds apart.  In terms of development, this is true.  A forty-year-old person experiences life physically much different from someone who is thirty years younger.  Kids usually don’t have the same aches and pains.

There is also a significant gap in the context of cultural preferences such as music and other forms of entertainment.  And what is a big deal to the youngster in second or third grade is most likely old news to the adult.

Conversation between the two is mostly restricted to happenstance and brief.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  Normal development includes a gradual shift in priorities and the person’s relative connection to their current age group.  To live in the present and take advantage of growth, each child, teen or adult is getting in tune with acquired abilities.  Even though children don’t have to pay bills, they do have to learn how to tie shoes and ride bikes.  We all have to pay attention to keep up with relevant information.

I will argue there are benefits in crossing the generational line in terms of sustained conversation.  One of them is trust.  I will explain.

At some point in a child’s life, he is going to face a choice between keeping a secret that is eating him up or disclosing it and getting help from a wise adult.  Which action do you think he will pick if there hasn’t been some way to talk on common ground with an adult so far?  In general, I see very defensive kids who cross their arms and frown quietly towards the expectation of what might happen with such freedom of speech.

On the other side of this, the adult usually has more faith in the child who demonstrates more of a vocabulary than “whatever” or “yeah”.

Another benefit of being able to hold a discussion with someone of a different generation is the widening of perspectives.  Each age group holds a limited view of how the world operates for other people and the ways in which things can be done.  Isn’t the knowledge of one hundred different angles to go at a challenge better than only one?  Remember the exercise that some of us new parents had to go through for the first baby in the home?  You crawl around on your hand and knees to see what the house and possible hazards look like for a child of six or seven  months.  Adults have grown used to walking around with their eyes seeing everything from an average of five and a half to six feet above the floor.

The physical way we see the world closely matches the context of interacting with others.  If I’m six, I will talk mostly of six-year-old related things.  I’m not going to talk about how much higher the water bill was this month.

But if I watch a movie with grandpa and I’m encouraged to speak at length about five or six different scenes with him afterwards, then I stand more of a chance understanding how to talk an adult.  There’s nothing scary about conversation after all.

 

Thumper’s Family Rules


Thumper’s nose tickles with a long brush of fur and the smooth side of a hind foot claw.  He wakes up and looks just long enough to see his son Quip hopping on through the cave door.  Then he hears “Stupid Marci!”

She’s not far behind.  Her white and fluffy feet churn with incredible speed.  Wham!  Marci is knocked over from the side by Quip as he is running back into the cave.  She rolls three times and is soon back on all four, whipping around and chasing him through the tunnel back to the sleeping rooms.  This all takes place in a split-second.  Thumper barely gets to say their names when Roxie his wife hops in from the opposite tunnel entrance.  “Could you please help them straighten this out?”

“I don’t even know what’s going on.”  He tries to squeeze the sleepiness from his eyes with the back of a paw.

Roxie smiles with nose scrunched up and adjusts her cottontail to the seat beside him.  She wants to see Thumper’s reaction to the latest news about what the brother and sister have done.  “Okay.  Marci found a rock shaped like a carrot and painted it orange.”

“And he fell for that?”

“Let me finish” says Roxie with a punctual tone.  “And yes.  He did.  He bit into it and then out of anger threw it up against the wall.  It tore right through one of Marci’s collectables.  So now they are raging mad at each other.”

“When did this happen?” asks Thumper with his eyes rolled.  He isn’t surprised.

“About thirty minutes ago.  Neither one of them can catch each other.

“Yeah they both have wicked speed.  But..”

“But I didn’t wake you.  Because I know how you get about your naps.”

“Okay and now I have to get this stopped before anything else breaks.”

Young adult Thumper thumping his foot from Bambi

Young adult Thumper thumping his foot from Bambi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

sits for a minute longer and stares at the main room table.  During this, Marci whizzes by with Quips favorite stash of berries.  Her teenage energy sends a wake of air into the table so hard it almost topples over.

“Stop!”

Marci is already out of the cave once again.  Upon Thumper’s booming assertion, Quip attempts to stop but trips and flips end for end into the wall.  He bounces off and falls back into the table.

Roxie helps him back on his big powder-puff feet.  He dusts himself off and twitches his nose.  Marci’s nose and whiskers are seen by the corner of the door.  She’s called in to join them.

“Alright” Thumper says with a calm voice.  “Marci.  You are going to look straight at Quip and say ‘Wow Quip.  You really changed the look of my collectible.’

With some reluctance and kicking imaginary dirt with her feet, Marci says to her brother the exact same statement.  She maintains the direct look with slight smile.  This isn’t the first time such an exercise in the Huxtable household.

“Good going Marci” remarks their father.  “Quip.  Tell your sister ‘That was one heck of a paint job you did on the rock Marci.’

Quip has to make an extravagant show of it.  He does a clumsy twirl on one hind leg, stopping with a direct look to her and says “My Marci!  What a heck of a paint job you did on the rock!”

Thumper, Roxie and Marci each let out an exasperated giggle at this display.

Thumper raises his paws in triumph.  “And again we have the rule?”

And all four declare with cheer “Don’t go to bed angry!”

Self-Pity: Rise of Conversations


Self-pity starts with anger.  I write a story in the head about who is getting in the way of my efforts.  I come very close to being like a dog, whose feet are shocked from the floor of the cage.  My will saps with the expectation of getting more shocks, held captive within four walls of my making.   Negative thoughts bulldoze any voice of solution.  My anger takes an even bigger role in decisions and I float passively in the ooze of righteous indignation.

Who dares say that I can let go of the insane repetition of wasteful tasks and putter around in circles?  How dare you tell me what I can and cannot do?  And that face you put on while your mouth spews forth the proposal of a better idea.  Worse!  You say I should just walk away from it all!  Can you see my face?  And did you hear what I just said?  Do you see my teeth flashing while I put down your way of life?  Let’s repeat this again and again!  I can do this all night long while laying in the dark with the covers over my head.  I can come up with a million make-believe scenarios where I’m on the cross, bearing my wounds and saying “Just finish me”.

But screw it.  I’ll sit at the table with my laptop and type every single word.  A conversation in my head can be a story on the screen too.

Three Times My Last Words


It’s my turn now.  It’s my time.  Lights!  Camera!  Action!

The bright yellow, sticky paint envelops my pores as the pool rises and takes more surface.  Slowly, the suffocating embodiment of liquid color threatens to enter my nose.  I say “Bring them in!”

I cite every last crime before them.

“What are you talking about” they say, with confused expressions.

The paint bubbles with my efforts to push it back out with labored breaths and I realize the wasted effort spent frightened by my private thoughts.

Ah, let’s try again.

I touch the flame to my last boat and walk on to the beach.  The surf licks up against my ankles and my body is electric.  This will be my last chance to apologize before leaving the earth.  May forgiveness be my legacy.

She shakes her head and smiles.  “You never even spoke to me.  What did you want to say?”

Fooled again.  The thoroughbreds crush me two by two before I get the chance.  Again.

For the third time, I set the stage for my window of opportunity and motivation to break the spell of fear.  The vines are cut.  My safety net will dissolve and hold no further chance of protection.  With all my strength I jump.  Christina’s hands accept me.

And she says “This is all you had to do.”

To smoulder or live life.


English: Jack and Jill by Dorothy M. Wheeler

English: Jack and Jill by Dorothy M. Wheeler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jack and Jill go up the hill to fetch a pail of water.  Jack falls down and breaks his crown.  Jill skips along to the other side of the hill and continues to take the pale to where it belongs.  She does think about Jack and hopes he will dust off and catch up with her.  Her wondering is interrupted by a colorful tune from the cellphone and she is soon on the way to drop off the bucket and head over to Sally’s house for lunch.  Maybe they would go out later.

Jack kicks around rocks for a while and by mistake attracts a cloud of angry bees.  Oops!  Apparently, in the middle of all his huffing, puffing and wild throwing he sent a rock flying into a hive.  Ten minutes and one hundred bees later, he’s lying on the ground and moaning.  The stings produce ugly bubbles with a red prickly center in each all over his face.

Jill is sitting at Sally’s house on the porch laughing it up over the stories of their other friends antics.  Jack’s name comes up as well.  Both of the girls plan a late night and drink their tea.  Doug pulls into the driveway in his hopped up four-wheel-drive work truck and jumps on to the porch; soon adding to the laughter about goofy friends.

Meanwhile Jack is running from a two-hundred-pound wolf.  He smacks himself hard against a tree, but manages to get a grip on the lowest limb and climb up to safety.  Laying in the upper part of the tree, he starts to wonder where Jill went to.  She told him earlier about the possibility that Sally might call.  He thinks about punching her in the shoulder later for leaving the hill.  His face is burning.  Both of them had the task of taking the water to dear old Miss June’s house.  She’s been sick lately and paid them the day before to fetch water.

Jack sees that the wolf stops waiting and trots off back into the woods.  Jack has to take the chance of getting out of there on his own.  He forgot to charge his phone last night.  Hell of a moment.  But he has to get out of the tree.  Jill, Sally and Doug aren’t there with him.  It’s either lay around and moan on the big branch or climb back down and run.  Then Jack will be able to help make his group of friends into a foursome during a night on the town.

The Trouble With Self-Affirming Statements


Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) leads brother Ral...

We are encouraged by many to produce inner-motivation towards our goals through the work of self-affirmation.  In recent years there has been the prominent referral to “I’m Okay and You’re Okay” kinds of statements.  Some of the self-help gurus make “positive inner discovery” a staple of their programs.  One thousand percent of this makes sense and is effective.

To say “I can” and then of course finish the statement is a very healthy and even courageous declaration.  It beats sitting crouched in a corner with your thumb in mouth, while rocking back and forth.  It sure as hell beats standing by and hiding your abilities while someone else takes off with the opportunity.  Do you agree?

What we’re missing here is the challenge to saying “I can” or “My strength is..” when much of life has been a focus on what a sibling or cousin or classmate can do better.  I will venture to say that the challenge has a lot to do with what communication many of us receive in these different environments.  Have you ever been told “Why can’t you be like..?”

In chapter five of “The Strong-Willed Child: Birth Through Adolescence” written by Dr. James Dobson (1978), there is the conclusion arrived at on how comparisons are made between siblings.  A child in the family or at school hears spoken messages by his adult leaders which stick in his or her mind.  An older brother or sister is praised for winning the trophies.  And at every turn, upon misbehavior of the failure to perform up to snuff, the other sibling is told “Why can’t you do..?”  And the competition ensues.  For this boy or girl, the focus becomes more about what the older sister or brother or classmate has, and less about what is yet to be discovered within.