Do it more. Do it often.

At a wedding gig in Kentucky.

(Ah, Kentucky, how I write about thee)

Along comes the drummer while I’m screwing around, tinkering on other people’s music gear. That’s what you do when you can’t drink, eat or do anything remotely basic. You go tinker-tinker on other people’s gear.

I’ll admit I was deep in the Ima-goin-impress-everahbodeh-lissenin.

So dude drummer says, “You really piss me off.”

I laugh. It’s an honest laugh because I’m sober.

“You can do this stuff,” he says. I like this guy. He’s really dialed to one setting: no bullshit. He likes hugs. Really likes hugs.

I say, “What do you mean?”

He’s Paul McCartney to my Stevie, sidling up next to me on a $2k synth. Me tinkering some more. Tinker. Tinker.

He tells me I can do this stuff. What stuff?

“You can play music.”

My answer is like the Japanese word: Soh.

He goes, “Well if you can do it, why aren’t the hell you doing it all the time?”

I had no answer and I still don’t. It’s not a cathartic moment in time or a sense of revelation, but — damn– it’s a kick in the balls. Because I don’t normally sing, play and all that. Normally, I’m doing anything but that.

You go years wading along and getting by, and then someone comes along and gives you a bitch-slap of reality with: Why aren’t you doing what you love?

Seriously.

Why aren’t you?

What’s holding you back?

It’s like that part of Good Will Hunting where Chuckie tells Will he’ll kill him if he sees him around in the next fifty years sluggin’ rocks at a construction site. It’s an insult.

Others perceive of you in a way, probably negatively. Your talents, your traits are laid out to them whether they tell you or not, and it affects them. They gauge you and try to understand your level of success based on your talents. Normally, kill all that and ignore what they think.

All you can do is all you can do, but I’m glad this guy took the time to give me not only a boost of confidence, but a nod in the right direction to say, “Hey, don’t stop what you’re doing. Keep doing it. Do it more. Do it often. Because you’re good at it. It’s what you’re meant to do.”

You, too! Don’t stop what you’re doing. Keep doing it. Do it more. Do it often. And if you see somebody out there who’s not doing what they should be doing, tell them — like this drummer guy. Oh, and give that person hugs. Lots of hugs.

Clay Baby

CLAY BABY


By: Jack Lee Taylor


She set her tiny baby down on the kitchen table. Her baby still had no face, so she gently pushed in two slits into its clay, purple head with her fingernail until she saw the vestige of a smile. She added two more curved slits above the smile for eyes that appeared shut tight, full of glee.


She moved her baby onto a spot on the table where fading sunlight shone so she could study her work. It didn’t exactly look like a baby; its shape was amorphous, a purple ghost-like thing perched above two crude flattened slabs of clay as a kind of pedestal. Her creation certainly wasn’t anything comparable to the remarkable clay creatures her husband made in his studio down in the basement.


But it’s cute, she thought. And it’s my first work. My first child.


She picked up her baby from the table and then headed down the hallway until she came to a door splotched ornately with intricate designs made of clay. Above the door was a bulbous light bulb protruding out like a threatening fist. Seeing that it did not glow angry red, she opened the door and descended down creaking, boarded steps, cradling her baby in her arms. Her husband’s cursing grew louder with each step down into the cold, dusty basement.

“I did not call for you,” her husband said, not turning from his latest work to look at her. He hunched over a menagerie of several clay animals set across a large flat board full of realistic jungle terrain. Were it not for the pair of spotlights set upon the small animals, they would all blend with the countless clay things scattered around the concrete-bricked room, all of these creatures made from her husband’s previous claymation films.

“I have something to show you,” she said, stepping closer behind him. She held out her baby, cupping it in her hands. Her husband raised a finger, his back to her.

“I’m busy,” he said. “You know this.” She frowned, pulling her baby toward her.

“The light was not on,” she said.


Her husband ignored her. Instead, he stood up and headed over to a camcorder perched on a tripod next to a blazing spotlight. He pushed a button on the camcorder and then crossed his arms, eyeing his miniature stage, his white hair and glasses gleaming next to the spotlight.


The clay animals all sprung simultaneously to life: a lion chasing a gazelle, an elephant herd tromping through the ground, exotic birds flying through the air, giraffes grazing in the distance and many more animals in their own activities. It all looked so random, unorganized. And that’s what made it all look so real.

“Bah,” her husband grumbled. His animals stopped moving, his birds plopping back onto the board.

“That was wonderful,” she said.

“No,” he said. “They are clumsy.” He removed his glasses and pushed a palm into his eyes. He let out an exhausted sigh and said, “I am getting too weak. Too old for this.”

“No dear,” she said, coming closer to him and placing a hand on his shoulder. “You mustn’t say that. You are an amazing man! A brilliant artist!”

He scowled at her, putting his glasses back on. He pointed an accusing finger at her and said, “You would know this. All that I’ve done for you. You know this well!”

He paused, calming himself. “What are you holding?” he asked with annoyance.


She showed her baby to her husband, bringing the purple child just under the spotlights so he could see her first work.

“What is that?”

“It’s our baby.”

Her husband chortled and then laughed hard, his chest heaving.

“That?” he said in between laughs. “You made that?”

She stepped back, confused. She waited for his laughter to die and then said, “I know I could never be as good as you. But… it’s my first work. Our first baby. Would you make our baby move like you do the animals?”

Her husband frowned, shaking his head. “No. Don’t you realize how hard it is to control?” he said.

“Yes,” she said. They stared at each other in silence for a moment, and then her husband turned back to his work.


She moved away back toward the stairs and looked down at her baby’s face. Its smile was still there. I am forbidden to use, she thought. But maybe this one time…


She pulled at the familiar vibration from her husband, the stirring power she could always feel linking him to her. She pushed the vibrations from within her down into her child. The smiling divot on her baby’s mouth began to move.

“Mom-ma,” her baby said. The room began to shake, clay figures falling from shelves.

“NO!” her husband cried. “Stop using!”

“I…” she began and then felt the vibration grow stronger — uncontrollable. She couldn’t stop this. Her husband screamed, staggering toward her, his palms to the sides of his head. “YOU MUST STOP!”

Her baby began to lose its shape. NO! MY BABY!


Something suddenly shifted inside of her and then she felt herself… what? Shrink? He’s taking it away from me!

“I warned you,” her husband said, panting. “You must never use my power.”

Her arms drew into her body, her torso expanding and ripping the buttons from her dress.

“I should never have created you,” he said. “You… you use up too much of the energy.”

She tried to reach out to her husband, but her arms were now just nubs of clay. Her head tucked down into her neck; her legs puddled boneless to the ground.


Darkness formed around her vision, but she spotted her baby, malformed and still on the ground next to her. With a last pull from her husband’s energy, she reached out with a snaking piece of her and bonded with her baby, reeling her child toward her. Into her.


For the moment just before she was unmade, she felt a sense of joy and wonder.


She was a mother.


A mother with child.

THE END

© Jack Lee Taylor 2015

claybaby

Auto-Tune for Writers!

I have found the secret on how to write the perfect novel.
 
It is a plug-in I’m beta-testing called Auto-Write that you stick into your favorite writing software. Simple install. Cyberphobe-proof. Pretty cool!

aw1
Once installed, check the bottom status line of your writing software to make sure Auto-Write is activated.

aw2
You then choose the type of writing you intend to do: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, freestyle and so on. From there, you open a blank page and start writing. If you can’t think of anything to write, you simply stare at the blank page for 30 seconds. The wait time is adjustable in the options menu of the plug-in and I’ve found you can set ‘stare-mode’ to as much as 999 hours. This feature is especially helpful for those with mind-numbing writer’s block. After the stare-mode cycle has ended, a series of random opening sentences will then fill the screen. I’ve tried this feature out once and got:


The weasel limped on the grass.


Gordon gave the nurse his loose stool sample.


Hayden found the male strippers tied and gagged in the back of the sperm bank.


Thought-provoking opening hooks, indeed.


If the muse is already there for you, and you’re deep in the throes of heated composition, Auto-Write has a feature to set the threshold of when to kick in once your writing turns sour.


For example, here’s a shoddy couple of sentences done by yours truly.


Rob’s face was punched by the bad man. Then, he was carried over the bad man’s shoulder.


Ahem. Luckily, Auto-Write detected the crappy, passive writing and auto-corrected. It even adds helpful comments:


The bad man <<Really? You’re calling the antagonist a bad man?>> punched Rob hard and fast, breaking the bridge of his nose. He then picked Rob up with ease and hoisted his limp body over a shoulder. <<We’re moving this to the mid-point of the draft…>>


An improvement. Not 100% perfect, but much more palatable. Notice it automatically moves your paragraphs into a novel structure Auto-Write sees fit.


There’s even a setting to change your writing voice and style to a number of presets that mimic famous authors. I have yet to try this out, though. Auto-Write kept rejecting my choices everytime I tried to make a selection. It seems Auto-Write must have some sort of user-unworthiness detector. This is probably a bug that needs to be addressed, and I’ll be contacting the developers to fix this.

aw3
Of course, the plug-in app has yet to be released to the public and is still in the beta testing stage of development. I expect once in the public domain, however, the world will soon be filled with pitch-perfect novels. Much like the music industry, we will see the talent of young-writers-to-come become a mighty force that will take over the world of the written word.

(many apologies to the real Autowrite project)

I Am Losing It

Losing it.

That phrase use to make me think of an old Tom Cruise movie, or that song by the band Rush.


At a recent musical performance for a private party, my voice gave out during the last set. It ran wild and went nowhere. The next morning I sounded like someone who chain-smoked chimney-sized cigarettes even though I don’t smoke. It took about a week before my voice finally came back and it made me realize something. I am losing it.


It’s my fault, really. I never had any real training and had developed my voice more from instinct with a touch of ignorance. But when you go years developing a skill, you tend to have a grasp of when to stretch the wings or pull them back.


Here’s the mistake. You take it all for granted because in your youth, you didn’t understand or care that there were several components at work–physically, mentally and spiritually–when you used your mad skills. You just went out there and did it raw. You caught that football. You tore through that math proof with your mind. You made that masterpiece meal without looking at a recipe.


Then years go by and you drop the football (even if it’s under-inflated). You need that calculator to help with your kid’s homework. And last night’s dinner you made was: meh.


You get rusty and reckless with your skills and they start dwindling to mediocrity. You look in that mirror and instead of seeing that fist-pumping fellow that tells you to ‘bring it!’, you just stare at someone who looks a little lost in life.


Be grateful if this hasn’t happened to you yet, but there may come a day where your utility belt of skills will feel a little lighter.


There’s no life-hack here to fix this. If you see your skills going away due to years of neglect and age, you have to either give up and hand it over to someone else, probably younger than you, or you have to brush up and bring the magic back.


Even Mr. Miyagi was still out there on that stump doing his crane kicks.


Practice. Relearn if you have to, but don’t ever take a skill for granted. Cherish it and be thankful for it. If the physical component to your skill starts to fade, you will still be rewarded with the mental and spiritual side of it, and that’s when you can mentor and teach others.


In that way, you never really do lose it.

crane 1

Cover Your Mouth!

Cover your mouth when you cough!

I say this over and over to my young one. She brings home the school bug every time – oh, those nasty, retched first-graders!


The bug hits and spread housedemic anyway. Little bro gets it. So does mom and dad. The dog laughs at us as we blow our noses.


Suddenly, I’m wary of everything. Wash your hands. Don’t sit on public toilets. For goodness sakes, bring a pair of socks when you go shoe-shopping. Did that person just take a pack of underwear to try on in the fitting room? Wear gloves at all times! Breathing masks!


Pretty soon, you’re walking around with hand sanitizer and Lysol, zapping doorknobs. This is the same person who played with dried gum under desks in middle school.


According to recent scientific studies, we carry more bacteria in our bodies from skin to gut compared to the number of cells that are pure, bona fide human. No wonder losing weight is so tough. The bacteria run around like remoras on sharks, partying inside of us like it’s 9999. Some of them we don’t mind. They help us out, so we take them along for the ride. Other of those critters inside us would make a lab tech run and pull out the Hazmat suit.


Strangely, this doesn’t freak me out as much so as to walk around wearing an aspirator.


The ‘V’ word is another worm altogether. It comes with scare tactics. Viruses are the reason many of us become germaphobes. Ebola, influenza, SARS, salmonella; I’ve yet to hear of a virus with a cute and cuddly name. Caution is best in those cases because, unfortunately, along with nasty bacteria, sickness and death may occur when exposed…

…but when did I truly get so germaphobic about it?


Ah. The Kids.


Being a parent really has put this one in a state of higher awareness. Otherwise, I’d be deep in Game of War hour upon hour. With higher awareness comes higher paranoia. I have to make sure to keep that in check. I try not to cry out ‘bloody murder’ when a play date’s parent neglects to mention until the last minute that her child has strep as she drops off her kid at my doorstep. Listen to those screeching tires as she peels away.


We should definitely teach our children the basics of sanitation, but let’s try to not go overboard with the germaphobic practices, unless you want raise a nest of overclean-compulsive kids. Now go spray that piano with Lysol.


We’ll go to Chuck E. Cheese after flu season. Shush up now and cover your mouth when you cough.

 

Be thankful if you have clean water to drink and wash with.  To help others without clean water visit: http://thewaterproject.org
Be thankful if you have clean water to drink and wash with.
To help others without clean water visit:
http://thewaterproject.org

 

Addicted to Old

 Stop living in the past!

I tell myself this a lot. What happens when we rehash the past?


Well, if one thinks for a moment while avoiding any obscene connotations from the title of this blog, one may hit upon bad memories, bungling mistakes and a checkered childhood laced with dysfunction.


There’s something strange here, though. My cell phone is bloated with old coin-op games of yore. Donkey Kong still beckons me. I have purchased digital versions of old books (okay, comic books) to view on the latest tablet. I still listen to music decades old, making endless playlists of these songs on so many different platforms (Rhapsody, Itunes, Amazon Music, etc.). I have missed out on so many movies these past few years, yet I still catch bits of the original Lucasfilm trilogy on the PS3 from time to time (someday to be ported over to PS4 and the like).


What is happening here?


Ella Winter told Thomas Wolfe he couldn’t go home again. I should follow suit, but the kid still lives and festers inside. And the best part is that I’m okay with that — because it makes me smile.


As I watch my children grow up, I hope to give them many good memories that make them yearn to relive their youth.


Press forward and make your new choices. Go kick some ass with the time you have left. If you’ve left the bad memories, bungling mistakes and checkered childhood behind, good for you! Forgive. Forget.


One thing though: in those moments where you still have a kid lurking inside (pregnancy doesn’t count), it’s okay to let him loose and play Space Invaders once in a while (geez, Space Invaders? Really? How old are you?).


Auld Lang Syne.

Stop Yelling at Me!

When do you raise your voice with angry words of protest?

I’ve heard voices raised at:

  • Fast food employees
  • Insolent children (at least in my house)
  • The double-parked car (there’s a personal Hell waiting for these people)
  • My dying laptop (sigh)

Take the first from the list. I’ll spare the rest, but I will share this one real account of everyday life.

Dusk settled in and people crammed into a fast food lobby for less-than-stellar sustenance. A previous customer, a tall and wide disgruntled man, loomed over the stainless steel counter, snarling over less-than-stellar customer service as his teenage daughter looked on, embarrassed.

The man pointed a thick finger at one of the employees behind the counter and marked her for missing an item on his order. His voice boomed across the whole length of the counter and all fell silent around him.

“It’s right there in front you!” he yelled, pointing at the missing quarter-pounder on the sandwich chute that belonged in the crumpled sack his cowering daughter held in silence. “It’s the one that’s probably cold as hell by now. Can’t you see it!”

The employee, her voice low, responded with apologies at first, but then her voice rose after he said, “You must be stupid.”

It would take more words and a skilled court stenographer to dictate the heated exchange that followed from that point on between the man and the employee. Upper fast food management came to the rescue, but they saw and conquered nothing. Even the refund was made in vain, appeasing nothing. The man left these parting words: “I’ll never come back here again. And if everyone is smart, you won’t let that bitch touch your food.”

The unhappy customer walked out before anyone could respond, his daughter in tow. As if by theatrical direction, all eyes then fell on his nemesis to see her reaction, but the fast food worker, her face hard as stone, merely shook her head and continued her work, muttering words under her breath that would best be left unheard.

I activated the holographic visual recorder implanted in my right eye to play back the scene. Okay, I don’t have one of those yet, but I did try to recollect what this unhappy guy was like before the debacle ensued. I had been a few customers back in line, and I remember he acted normal as anyone, resigned, grunting the start of his order in a mild tone and had even placed an affectionate hand on his daughter’s shoulder to get her attention while ordering. Who knew a forgotten burger would set the guy off?

People screw up.

I once backed into a stranger’s car early one morning. Happy Monday. The damage resulted in scuffs on car paint, thankfully, but damage nevertheless. Car damage, even the slightest, is more dangerous than forgetting your fries on your value meal, but the exchange between me and the other driver went pleasantly, almost jovial on both parties. Why is that? I can only recount that voices remained at normal levels.

We may never know what triggers bellowing like the unhappy blowhard that sought an audience so he could proclaim someone stupid for forgetting his cheeseburger. Perhaps you agree with him. You raise your voice when injustice has been served to you. To do anything less is a sign you are weak and unworthy of happiness. Then by all means, pursue your form of happiness. Fight. Scream. Yelling can be a craft with its own merit and there are plenty among us that filter life this way to achieve goals (bill collectors unite!).

We’ve all been wronged at some point in our lives, whether intentionally or not. When it happens again, I ask that you take a moment before inhaling your lungs full of air to break loud, sonorous verbal wind toward someone. Could it be handled another way? Is it really a life-and-death matter? Is it really worth verbal abuse? Is there really such thing as giving someone a piece of your mind? Will all this really matter on your deathbed? Is that heart-unfriendly burger or those few lost dollars really worth a coronary or a fisticuff? If so, raise thy voice. Otherwise, save those vocal cords for singing and spare the world one less act of negative energy.

“You can’t get your head around something if you’re yelling.” -Henry Rollins


“Words are wind.” -George R.R. Martin

imagesCAKTWZ11

It Takes This Long to Learn the Guitar


How long does it take to learn how to play the guitar?


The answer is: when you stop playing, you stop learning.


It’s been said that writers are born, not made.


So are athletes.


So are scientists.


So are cookie chefs.


Sounds like something most elitists would say, especially those crustacean cookie snobs.


Reading comes easy for my little girl, but she was not born to do a forward roll in gym class with ease. I am also guilty of many shortcomings, forward rolls included.


A neighbor of mine plays hockey professionally. After seeing a set of shiny golf clubs in his garage one day, I joked if his swing was as good as Happy Gilmore’s. His response was a modest nod, and I did well to hide my jealousy. Share the wealth, pal.


Advantage may come down to just physical biology.


Your muscles, your connective tissues, your joints, your bones, your brain and your heart may function far superior to mine. From this, you may be more adept than I am at climbing tall trees. In many of us, we are as unbalanced as we are sturdy. We may stand steady on one leg while teetering on the other. But it’s not just about functional strength.


It’s being awesome at choosing the right colors when decorating a room.


It’s being able to tell great stories.


It’s being able to sing like golden honey.


We call them gifts.


These are the innate abilities we have that make us unique. Sure you have prowess of balance because you have mastered all that fleshy matter around your ankles, but does that mean you are born to be a champion clog dancer?


Consider what follows as a letter to my children:


I’m left-handed and left-brained. So I had no business picking up the guitar, let alone learning it right-handed. It took several years just to get comfortable with it. Though I claim to be no master at it, it was something I was just determined to learn. Hours and days and weeks. Call it naive stubbornness, but I’d like to think of it as courageous persistence.


If you really want to learn something and be good or even great at it, you already have what it takes.

Persistence. Heart. Courage. Discipline.


It’s going to mean chunks of time out of life, but you will make progress if you really want it.


It has nothing to do with being born flat-footed, or having less speed and strength than those you admire. Some of those athletes on the field have to work three times as hard just to stay competent.


Avoid gauging your progress and abilities against the success and abilities of others. You should focus on yourself as your measure.


Find your reasons for why you want to learn something so it can become your gift. If it’s because you want to imitate your heroes, you should visualize yourself at your funeral and hope there are no quips about your lack of originality. Be brave and smart about it. Create a plan. Reward yourself for every small achievement.


When you fail (not ‘if’), move through it and continue as long as the desire is there in your heart.


Okay, I lied. This letter is really a letter to myself.


Thank you for writing this to me.

The Window of Thankfulness

It’s not the if, but the how and when.

Death ignores if.


It is only the how and when variables that are in Death’s programming language. Some of us, for our own reasons, have written our own code, manually overriding how and when, ending the program of life by our own hands.


For me, it would be nice to have an immortality call function and stick it in the middle of my source code and run it in an infinite do/while loop, but then I think of how wrinkly and dusty I’d look after two hundred billion cycles. So I’ll just leave the how and when variables alone, hopefully letting them running their subroutines for at least another fifty years.


In the final weeks before my father’s passing from cancer, someone gave me a pamphlet. It consisted of only a few pages, no pictures, and it had blue typeset curiously like those old pop quizzes I had in middle school.


The title of the tiny book began with “What to Expect,” although it did not end with When You’re Expecting. Instead, it informed me of what to expect in the last stages of life. Like a checklist, the few pages consisted of brief paragraphs explaining the different stages, starting with the withdrawal from the external world and ending with… well, you know.


A line from that small copy still resonates in that it stated each person’s death is unique. Some or none of the stages listed may apply to you. My dad, however, the practical man that he was, followed all the stages of this little book as if by instruction. He was a strong man. That last month with him was difficult.


The mini-book also described a stage near the end that I disbelieved when I first read it. It said that there would be a moment of clarity before the final stage of death. Lucidity. A burst of energy and communication. How could that be possible when this man in his deathbed hadn’t spoken for several days? Both his mind and body were shutting down.


Yet, it happened. Happy words came out quick. Awareness fully enjoyed. Prayers done with vigor.


Above all of that. He was thankful.


That window of thankfulness, fleeting like a quick rain on dust-dry land, was a prolonged spiritual moment. It is in that window of time where one gets the chance for final goodbyes, reflection, last words, prayers and thanks. This window depends on the how variable, though. Each person’s death, as the little book claimed, is unique. One may go to the next in a quick instant while another may enter it slowly. The window is only built for you if your how variable is coded for this way of dying.


It’s not the same concept as living like you are dying, which has its own merits (and somehow difficult for me to implement, since I’m still scared of heights). The window of thankfulness is more like rising above ocean water one last time to take in one final sweet breath and giving one farewell wave before plunging back in to look desperately for the big treasure (Heaven, Atlantis, forever sleep, whatever your treasure may be).


If I am ever fated to be coded for the window of thankfulness, I hope to be surrounded by my loved ones so happy words can come out quick, awareness can be fully enjoyed, praying can be done with vigor, and thankfulness is abound.


Whether or not the window of thankfulness waits for you, and you have no idea of what it will be like, we do have at least one given day specifically of thanks that is available for us to practice on.

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for. -- Author Unknown
There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
— Author Unknown

The Nice Wars

The world is near obliteration, devastated by unending war.

Many surviving humans are rounded up, penned together and placed in a central location near an enormous spacecraft the size of Texas; this is the last refuge for humanity. This bulky craft made of undiminishing material, with its infinite power and food supply, is capable of sustaining human life for the entire remaining population virtually forever. It has enough living space to handle 100:1 per person in case of overpopulation. Though it cannot travel faster than the speed of light, the craft is shielded, capable of withstanding impact of unknown space debris lesser its size.


At the base of the giant ship is the entranceway where people will funnel in to get aboard. Before anyone can enter, however, a choosing must be done. Only the nice people may enter the ship. The mean people will have to stay. After all, we don’t want to start another war while floating in space, do we?


It’s been said, by me admittedly, if we could take all the jerks of the world and put them all on an island away from us, the world would be a better place. Some would say that’s happening right now. It’s called: insert the most vile-inhabited place you know here.


So say it happens. Let’s keep the choosing simple and define the mean as anyone that threatens your world of nice, from the serial killer down to the soccer mom that cut you off during rush hour. They’re all carted away: criminals, thugs, mean bosses, petulant relatives, bratty children, annoying neighbors, feckless teenagers, faceless terrorists and any other enemies that threaten your peace. Not exactly something a nice person would do, and not exactly true world peace, but all the meanies are expunged from the land and sent to their private island.


Peace is achieved.


Temporarily.


Unrest occurs. Amidst the Isle of Mean a fortress is built and an armada of mean forces march back toward your home. Instead of trying to exile you to an island for nicetarians, the meanies just try to kill you off. You defend your borders with the lesser nicelings, but the approaching meanies breach your walls, leaving you no choice but to bomb the front line of meanies before they can farther invade the nice lands. Many meanies anticipate the strike and counter-attack in quick reaction.


When the bomb smoke clears and all is quiet, you search for your loved ones and find only young children wandering the desolation. You can’t tell the mean from the nice. The children all cry and weep together.


This is a great opportunity, however. You can now parent every child and teach each of them the nice ways of the world. Only, some of them don’t listen. Many of them can’t even understand your language. All of them are tired, sick and hungry. After days of hearing their aimless crying as you try to press your love and wisdom on to them, many children mock you, revealing their mean inclinations. Several former children of nice convert to meanness, hardened during the war.


The children begin to separate into groups on their own, becoming duplicitous tribes. You try to stop this, becoming the peace ambassador among them. They ignore you, many of them blaming you for their troubles. You try begging some of them to be nice. A few listen but are then chastised for their treason against their tribe. Soon, you are left with no choice but to force them all to be nice by your hand. The two nicer tribes join you reluctantly and you use their numbers to reeducate the remaining tribes on the values of being nice. They revolt and war ensues once again.


You soon take a step back and do nothing. You watch in the safety of your confine until the children have sorted it out on their own. Eventually, they do after many have died.


You step back out and greet the survivors. You are met with the weary that want nothing more to do with war. You invite them to help rebuild your world, but many of them are grown now and seek only freedom from the world of nice and mean. You let them go build their own lives. That would be the nice thing to do.


Playing a deity, even a nice one, doesn’t work when it comes to creating world peace. Sure, we’ll leave it to God to sort it out, but while here on earth let’s admit that life is filled with conflict; the degree of conflict spanning a near infinite arc starting from slight disagreement to total war. It’s a strange paradox. I can declare my love for world peace, but will clench my hands into fists against anyone that tries to harm my children. It’s an unspoken axiom that sounds virtuous and violent at the same time.


Strangely, we even argue on how best to obtain and maintain peace. George Carlin said: “fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” Malcolm X said: “sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the gun down.” Then there’s the one-button solution that might end war, but it includes the price of possibly ending all life on earth. We may never go that far, and we may disagree with the solutions we have in place now, but if we do nothing we should at least value those that have fought and are fighting in the name of peace and freedom, both those armed and unarmed.


World peace. Good will. These thoughts of yearning for everyone on earth to love one another makes one exhausted and weary. Because it’s so simple to stop war simply by choosing to. Yet we can’t stop the world in its track no more than we can settle every dispute in a single house.


We can mollify these frustrating thoughts on war in different ways, many of us leaning toward spirituality or apathy. War stories provide perspective, though I seldom enjoy opening up a book on war to see pictures of the dead. I think of my mother, a survivor of the Korean War. She would never share all of her recollections, but told a few stories from time to time. She was ten years old at the time the war began, living in the capital of South Korea. One of her stories was told in casual conversation about how dead bodies near a pond was helping the vegetation grow, providing food for the starving survivors. Other stories were only half-told, filled with hesitant pauses, about the loss of her father. None of her stories give complete perspective, but they are there to say this happened to her and that is all. We may coin it another way: shit happens.


Real war continues today. There might be some solace from quotes. Here are some I leave you with as we scratch our heads toward world peace.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” – Jimi Hendrix

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is the one word that brings peace.” – Buddha

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“War is over… if you want it.” – John Lennon

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds- Carl Sagan