Touch

Look at your hand (hopefully, you have one).

Flex it. Curl your fingers inward and touch your palm with your fingertips. Open it. Spread your fingers and let your hand expand flat in the air in front of you.

Touch forefinger to thumb.

Turn your hand palm down and make a fist. Look at the mess of knuckles bulging from your skin.

Now clasp hands together and squeeze slightly. Let go and just stare at a hand until you feel the perplexity of the limb in front of you.

You are looking at a part of your body. You are looking at an extension of yourself consisting of near-infinite amounts of particles put together and fired by the will of your mind.

You don’t see the bone and sinew underneath the sheath of skin, but know that there is a miracle to your machinery. It’s a reality you take for granted now but once was fascinated by with infant eyes.

The hand exists for you.

Use it to touch others that you love.

Feel their existence.

And know how strange and wonderful this ability is

to touch until you cannot touch anymore.

For one day the use of your touch will be gone forever…

Touch while you can.

JLT

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The Pause Button

Just before sleep hits, there’s a space of time.

It might be in the few seconds the proverbial head hits the pillow. Maybe it’s longer, a few minutes, hours, or all damn night till right before the alarm goes off.

Your body goes through its ‘shutting-down-now’ process.

Like the No Cars Go song says: Between the click of the light and the start of the dream.

Just before letting go of consciousness, there’s opportunity.

Revisit good/bad memories.

Seethe over all enemies and plot to destroy the world.

Mentally create a grocery list.

And dammit why won’t that barking dog shut the hell up!

 

Sometimes in this moment I’m guilty of making up stories or writing tunes in my head, all of which will have been forgotten by morning light. Some of those stories/songs got pretty interesting, until I realized I was bastardizing the TV shows I watched earlier that night.

And now it’s 2am? Geez!

But there is a point of clarity right before that shift to sleep. I often wonder if it’s the same feeling just before drifting off into death (the non-head trauma kind of death). You get a moment to reflect. To visit your mind and see the nice and ugly things stuck there.

Perhaps that why a lot of people meditate (I should, and probably would be happier for it). It’s going to that small bridge between wake/sleep and taking control.

Fill it with peace. Fill it with happiness. Fill it with clips of the Three Stooges.

In the end, I guess it’s just about pausing and being in the present. That whole live-like-you-are-dying dogma seems to mostly work if you are aware you are actually dying. Unfathomable to some, and maybe unfortunate to those who fathom. But ‘being in the present’ is a slogan easier to chew.

If that’s the case, then why wait till the pause before sleep. Visit the mind right now. In the present.

And remember that you’re still alive.

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Solitary Laughter

That laugh-out-loud-when-you’re-alone-moment.

It’s one of the hidden gifts of life. When you can be alone and for whatever strange stirring in the brain, you laugh out loud. And not in spite of yourself. Who all wants to spite themselves anyway for laughing? That’s just stupid.

Anyway, if you’ve never experienced the unexpected laugh fairy visit while alone, then you should order a lighter version of yourself. Step down as CEO. Quit working at the DMV. Whatever you can do to open the laugh gates once in a while. Certainly if your brain is capable of processing at least one thought a second, by the law of randomness even an old dirty joke long years forgotten will resurface to your short-term memory sooner or later.

The mystery of a true, good-hearted laugh is that it can’t be forced. It comes out like a sneeze, a knee-jerk ejecta. You let it out in a stifled huff or a full series of bellowed guffaws (best done inside your car while sitting in traffic). We watch comedies, pay comedians and, unless you have coulraphobia, hire clowns to manufacture the laugh for us because we can’t seem to do it on a whim.

Except we can. Laughter is infectious. We can surround ourselves with others that like to laugh. If you’ve ever been accused of laughing too much, avoid the accuser at all costs. Because laughter is a rarity, a biological commodity that runs out if we don’t tap into its reserve. Laughter has helped the beaten, the weary, and the sick. To die laughing wouldn’t be a bad way to go. (I could float up in the air laughing like old Mr. Dawes Sr. from Mary Poppins, rising up to the ceiling laughing my head off until my heart seized).

But social laughter aside, it’s the laughter in solitude that is the real magic. To be able to just be alone and laugh. I’m not talking about the crazy, mustache-twisting insane type of alone-laughter. I mean when you’re just sitting there by yourself and you suddenly remember that time when Larry tried to slip a silent fart at the last meeting and failed. Or while you’re alone in the bathroom brushing your teeth, you recall that one time a passing stranger tried to give you the sexy smile just before he walked into a wall. It’s okay if you just sprayed toothpaste all over the  mirror from laughing just now.

Sometimes the laugh trigger is strange. It was funnier reminiscing in private the idea of Steve Martin juggling cats instead of actually watching him do it. The other day I snickered loudly to myself after arbitrarily recalling Orlando Jones talking about fearing spiders on the football field, a line from a movie that as a whole really wasn’t that funny.

Whatever the laugh trigger is, enjoy it. It is your rare gift to yourself. The world is mad, but not mad with laughter. In this time of ours, more than ever, we need a good laugh. The equation to fix all of our problems may never be solved, but be assured laughter is in there somewhere in the solution.

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

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