Honor, What?

I suppose by this time in human history to be truly honorable is old fashioned. Perhaps it always was, but I don’t feel honor then compares to the lack of it in the 21st century.

To me the following describes honor.

Honor means doing the right thing even when you are alone.

Honor means respecting other people even when you disagree.

Honor means respecting the boundaries of relationships even when you don’t want to.

Honor means keeping promises even when it’s difficult to resist breaking them.

Honor means ignoring temptation even when it’s irresistible.

Honor means being there for those who need you even when it’s uncomfortable.

Honor means assisting those who need it even when they’re strangers.

Honor means helping an injured or trapped animal even when to do so is threatening.

Honor means never abandoning family members even though it is demanding.

Honor means never condemning others, not their opinions, even when they are diametrically opposed.

Honor means being the person you say you are even though at times it’s inconvenient.

Honor means not letting social media to dictate your life even when is desirable to allow it.

Honor means don’t steal or plagiarize even when to do so is profitable.

Oh, never mind. This is the 21st. century. Now life is about pleasure and greed. Honor be damned.

In the universe there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, in between there are doors.

William Blake

Shimmering Stillness

Summer always elicits a mixture of feelings. Anticipation being the most obvious. Add a dash of anxiety, sprinkled with joy and stilled with a slight undercurrent of sadness.

As a youth more questions than answers rode along as if somehow they might explain the turmoil of emotion. Life is quizzical at best. Filled with potholes and uplifting slopes. But always a shield of hesitation held out front as if that might divert trouble should it dare appear.

All I needed was a windmill, but I was unaware that fiction might actually step off pages and become part of me.

I would leave home after chores, which often took the morning and an hour or two of afternoon. Meet friends and enjoy the day. Or on occasion alone. Me listening to nature sounds. Me silencing the battering storm that life churned up in me head.

We built a log cabin the summer before with an ancient wood burning stove, enough bunk beds to sleep six. The roof was sealed with treated roofing paper, windows we scavenged from old houses on the verge of collapse. When completed we could seal the door and enjoy a rain storm.

Yet that summer my fifteenth, I found myself alone more than previous years. I could never quite understood why. So I went to the cabin and sat at the old time enamel top table with its rickety chair and ate lunch if early enough in the day.

The place smelled unused as it was. Like coming out of winter, sliding through spring was not enough to restore its former lived-in odors.

No I didn’t quite understand that time’ shimmering stillness summers past, was not the same that year. In fact that was the final year any of us used the cabin. Like having built it and used it for one year was the intended goal.

And the questions compounded into a crescendo of confusion.

Unbeknownst to me, that was the final summer of youth.

Theoretical and Theatrical

I feel fortunate. I live where trees are respected. Which also means wildlife is too. The rain that just thundered down like sheets of water is likewise a gift these days. Drought has ripped the water from the mouths of possibly a billion people worldwide. Horrible way to die.

As those of us who truly care, this will only worsen and we know there is nothing one person can do to alter humanity’s declining history.

The pendulum swung cutting deep and we humans may be the last to go, but maybe not. Mother Nature is not a kind mistress.

At times like what we currently live in when we move beyond theoretical we also move beyond theatrical.

The theoretical in this instance is why three nations are attempting to drive the world into nuclear annihilation?

We all know about Russia’s insanity with Ukraine. That is the first one.

Then there’s China. A nation of almost two billion that seems to believe they must regain control of land, islands, and seas once controlled by distant ancestors. As if no time passed other than for the end of life on earth. China too likes to saber rattle with nuclear weapons.

Lastly is Israel oozing its way to a war with Iran, bombing their research facilities, assassinating scientists on the streets of Iranian cities.

Perhaps the leaders of all three are theatrically dancing around a spinning black hole that devours some people’s souls and sanity. Turning them into hollow husks of humanity.

Unfortunately they ignore our biggest threat – Climate Change. Or have they decided a simpler way of fixing it? They might try bombing it back into into the stone ages.

No one man or woman should be allowed the power that the above three are abusing. At a cost to everyone.

Great Replacement – What?

Great replacements. That’s right there has been five of them. Yikes!

1 – Ordovician

2 – Devonian

3 – Permian

4 – Triassic-Jurassic

5 – Cretaceous

So yeah. It’s been messy to say the least. And smoke ‘em if you got them.

But of course these five have little, okay nothing to do with the 21st century version. See a group of people called the ultra-right has declared that the ultra-left you know them there liberals, are somehow mysteriously and perhaps secretly too, working overtime to replace whites folks with non-whites.

Now I admit I am baffled. How is this happening? Are them white liberals paying non-whites to have large families? Are liberals sneaking our southern neighbors across the Rio Grande? In what hundreds? Thousands? Millions even? Jeez.

Massive effort done in the middle of the night? Nope. Not according to the ultra-right. Them liberals are replacing Republican politicians to get it done. . .um no.

Maybe it’s their sneaking President Biden. Hummmm. Probably not.

I know, I got the answer. Liberals have sent missiles into the asteroid belt to divert a couple ultra-left stones to barrel into middle America. Okay probably not.

So what’s left?

Republicans in both houses of Congress can and we know will prevent legislation that would allow millions of Hispanics to invade across the American border. So where will they come from?

So truth time. The Great Replacement is an even greater hoax. Pass out the aluminum hats folks. There is a Greene walking the corridors. And she is not an environmentalist. She and her tin hat followers do not believe in climate change ‘cause to know we cannot trust them liberal scientists.

Or can we?

Temporal Mercy

Yesterday I discussed fractured mercy. Today temporal mercy, that which lasts but for a short time.

Like me driving along a narrow southern road, overhung with massive live oak tree branches forming a tunnel of summer green.

Where all too often my heart hung between. Rather like overripe fruit. Or perhaps just plain unwanted.

Didn’t truly bother me.

Inner self has a balance undetectable from the outside. And if blessedly left in peace then never ruffled by another’s pride.

Yet that isn’t always so. Especially in the time we all live. Where social media molds and manipulates. Like a digital entity controlled by none. Everything is right or wrong. Never in between. Never compromised. Never merciful. Hate and joy battle for supremacy.

The rare blessing is the fragile ability to ignore. This a temporal mercy. So much of 21st century life is such. Difficult to know, difficult to understand truth from reality. Or if either or both are false too.

Yet we all need something to cling to as time’s river drags us relentlessly into the unknowable future. Those of us temporarily young, may feel time is their ally. And perhaps so for a short time.

But the pains of living cares naught about a person’s age. Nor about one’s joy. After all we must live with others. Dancing an emotional shag of hope and faith. Temporal mercy dashed by the slicing tongues of online confrontation.

How do we do this? Why do we do this? Were those generations before us driven thusly? What was their outlets their means of embracing every tragedy worldwide? Every celebrity life in minute detail? Filling the holes within that today seems unable to be filled because it is all never ending, digitized life eating our souls, eroding emotional sanity, driving us to seek mercy for god’s sake.

We don’t though because it all moves at the speed of light. And the mercy we seek is at best temporal.

Fractured Mercy

Alone sitting on a large boulder in a shallow woods, I pressed my hand into a worn hollow where centuries ago Indian women ground corn. The stone stood on high ground giving them and me the ability to see the harbor where once Indian warriors rode birch bark canoes. They used them for fishing and for times when the need to defend tribal land became necessary.

Oh I know in the troubled time I live in Indians are no more. They’ve been replaced with Native Americans. Except technically they weren’t. They too traveled to the American continent across an ice age created land bridge from the eastern most part of the Eurasian continent.

Honestly there were no Native Americans. Unless you count the thousands of species of flora and fauna that were native.

I thought all this while I dripped water from a plastic bottle into the indentation were my fingers gently brushed the smooth stone surface. Yes plastic. Apparently we are stuck buying these still. I have metal but what I sought left me no time to return and get one. Time is after all a luxury.

So the mercy I sought through retreat into a once welcoming place slipped like oil from my grasp.

I’ve often felt myself fortunate. So many I once knew no longer walk this earth. One of those was a woman who would frequently discover me sitting in this same place seeking solace not mercy. She was kind and gentle. A warm smile a caring heart. But that was all many years past. She died in a car crash on a rainy night while driving home.

After a while I stopped checking on people I once knew. Some I loved. The number of those who died became a staggering heart rending fractured mercy.

I wonder now, the water bottle empty, if the Indian women who shared this boulder with me experienced the same loss. Time passing changes very little when you remove the trappings surrounding you.

Stripped of possessions, removal of what we call modernity, leaves us standing as all those before us. One human alone to face life, with or without its mercy. Of course, we can no longer walk into a forest where life abounds. We modern humans showed nature nothing but fractured mercy, at best. We cut down forests at a staggering rate of 25 acres per minute, 24/7.

The ones we called ancients stood a vastly better chance at survival then I would today if left to my own devices in the shallow wilderness that remains. Even though I am trained for such survival.

Honestly, we humans stand on the brink of our own extinction and we ignore it. We may be aware of its slow steady approach, but take the attitude that we won’t be alive when it happens so I’m getting everything I can now. Why? What will you do with it? It too is a burden.

Extinction shows no mercy.

Blood on My Hands

Blood on my hands. I look and see the unseeable. I feel and rest on the spear tip of misery.

Cause I shot the rifle.

My bullet fragmented between us and splintered life into death.

The breath of me breathing what you cannot. The eyes of mine seeing what you cannot. The fingers of mine slippery with warm liquid. I tried to regain, repair, restore. Life rendered into stillness.

Sound stopped. Motion stopped. Time shuddered. Blood on my hands dripping into a dwindling puddle between us.

The pieces of a moment before. The pieces of me, and of you like ashes of burnt paper fluttering on an unwanted breeze. Me grabbing them needing to reassemble life from a grief like a bottomless hole in me.

The memories vivid and jolting. The thoughts bundled around a single second’s decision drain me, drained you.

Will finally end me, ended you. And time stopped at that single moment. Never resuming. Dark and unforgiving. As it should be.

The Shovel

The shovel I owned showed it’s age. The tool was a two generation hand-me-down. The handle was like an upper case tee, the old gray wood worn in the center. The metal that held it atop the long shaft part was roughly rusted. The shaft of wood from handle to the digging blade also grey had a slight split along the wood grain in front. The edge of the metal digging end was worn almost enough to flatten it where it grudgingly penetrated the earth.

It was a short shovel but I’d used it several times before including once when I was about eight years old. Then it belonged to my grandmother and I recall it seemed less worn, less aged.

I carried the shovel over my shoulder and with my left hand carried a small wooden box I built to hold my cat’s remains and the last napkin ball she played with. She’d lived to become an ancient twenty, struggling with arthritic hips, a total loss of hearing. Add to that a cat’s disposition of its ‘my way or no way’ well I felt some relief when she passed.

She didn’t weigh nearly what she’d weighed a few years ago, but weight loss was yet another scourge of aging. Oh, I missed her within hours of her dying, but life sucks that way. I mean death being inevitable as if all of one’s life good, bad and everything else becomes condensed into a last gasping breath that trickles into the memories of the living. And there those memories slowly dissolve while life replaces them with new ones. That sucked too.

Rain had softened the earth. The row of assorted rose bushes I’d planted over the last few years looked, smelled beautiful, and inviting. I knew digging a hole wouldn’t cause much trouble and since I lived in the house where I was raised, inherited from the same grandmother who owned the shovel. Yup it came with the house. I walked to a small pet cemetery where we’d left our dearly departed pets in the past.

I selected the spot where if Miss Lizzy were alive she might sit and watch the birds nesting in spring. I painted a stone marker after a few days passed and place in the line of the others.

Setting the metal lined pinewood box down, I began digging. The dirt was easy to cut into but heavier than normal since it was rain wet.

At about a meter deep, I heard and felt the shovel hit something. The contact vibrated up the shaft while the bent over edge of the blade caused a line of pain across the bottom of my foot.

After dropping the shovel, I knelt and reached into the hole. My fingers brushed a dirt encrusted flat surface clearly not a tree root. I’d not worn work gloves so as I dug around it’s edges, dirt wedged beneath my fingernails. 

Finally after several minutes of work, I pulled hard when I had my hand beneath it and lifted out a blue plastic rectangular box not much longer than the length of my extended hand thumb nail to pinkie nail. There was a tightly sealed lid that had some type of metallic looking tape wrapping and covering the joint.

I sat, placed the box down and finished my original task. Once Miss Lizzy was at the bottom of the hole, I whispered my goodbye and a prayer I created while still a young boy. Filling the hole required a couple minutes. Then I took the mystery container, the shovel, and returned to my home.

Washing it was done at an outdoor faucet. Cleaned the box looked both new and very old. Hard to explain why, but it did. I went in and sat at the kitchen table studying the box, the tape enclosure and finally used my pocketknife to cut away the tape.

More to come

Common Sense part 1

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

Thomas Paine