Let’s Talk About NOTHING

There is so much going on in the world that my head is spinning. Talk, talk, talk.

I propose that we, at least for a while, talk about nothing.

How can we talk about nothing? Everything is a subject. Everyone has an opinion. Even when we are quiet our brains are still chattering away.

I had an aunt that never stopped talking. Even if you fell asleep listening to her. She was oblivious to the entire outside world. She was locked in her own head. She would phone me and I could set the receiver down and go have a cup of tea, read a book, do housework and come back and she’d still be yammering.

The world has become my aunt. Yakkety yak yak yak.

I want to talk about nothing.

It would be so good to just discuss a fine summer day, like the beauty of flowers, bees buzzing, clouds floating by without digressing into why’s and wherefores and why nots.

At the bus stop a young man noticed I was taking pictures of clouds and had to point out that those clouds were caused by pollution. When I said they were still beautiful, he got quite annoyed and started lecturing me.

Oh, please. Just talk about nothing.

When I see some creature or plant or scenery that I can’t name the genus, species or rock formation, please don’t tell me. There is beauty in the unknown. If I find out this bug is nasty, that plant is invasive or that scenery was caused by man made blasting, it ruins the whole thing. Sometimes, I just prefer mystery. It is not necessary to know everything. It is not important.

I remember reading about a man who saw the most magnificent birds soaring over the coastline and sea. Their outstretched wings angelic white in the sunlight. And when he found out they were seagulls and people were generally unimpressed with them, it ruined the entire experience for that fellow. I happen to like watching seagulls. They are so free.

So let’s talk about nothing and just appreciate what there is. At least, for a while.

I Think I’m Gonna Be Sad…*

When I was very young, my Mother took me to see Charlotte Whitton, much to the outspoken chagrin of my chauvinistic father. Charlotte was a feisty Canadian politician who left quite the impression on me, I must say. My Mother also made sure I knew about Judy LaMarsh, who my father passionately hated.

My Mother was determined that I grow up knowing I had power. There weren’t a lot of role models then.

I came of age during the emancipation of women, burning bras and fighting for our rights. Gloria Steinem was a prominent figure in those days. I witnessed sexual freedom, equal employment rights, abortion rights. Those were hard earned.

And today, in a flash. Gone.

Make no mistake. If abortion is banned in the United States, all women’s rights will fall like dominoes, worldwide. Already there are plans to make contraceptives and same sex marriage ILLEGAL. It is the intention of many men, and women, to create the Handmaiden’s tale in this century. Many revere what is happening to women in the Taliban right now. That can happen here, and fast.

Gloria Steinem was quoted (mistakenly) as saying: If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

Our society is going backwards in time in leaps and bounds, back to some very dark ages. The past is being viewed through some overly rose coloured glasses. There is not much about the 1950’s that is attractive to me, nor should it be for anyone, man or woman.

The only person who has the right to a woman’s life and body, is the woman. She has to make some pretty damn difficult reproductive decisions that men so easily avoid, consequences they can just walk away from. A woman does not make such decisions lightly. And if you think abortion is a quick fix, you know jack. If you think raising a child with zero help and resources, you know double jack.

Outlawing abortion won’t stop it. It’ll only cause many women to suffer and some to die. Outlawing sex sure as hell won’t stop it! Abstinence? Come on, get real. Banning contraceptives is beyond my comprehension. And why does that only apply to women? Why is this not a joint responsibility, since, hello, it takes two to tango.

As with so many things in this world, women have to make things right, and we have to fight like hell.

As we take giant steps backwards, I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah…*

* A Beatles song that is in no way related to the topic I discussed, but reflects how I feel.

The Saint

Influenced by the TV program The Saint – do-do-do-do-dah-do, I wrote a short story in grade school that the teacher, much to my horror, chose to read aloud to our class.

As she read, I shrivelled till near under my desk, mortified. The class fell into a death like silence until you could hear a pin drop.

It was a story about someone knocking on my bedroom window at night, which turned out to be a branch blowing in the wind. I know, I know, but hey, I was in grade school when I wrote this – a pre teen.

She was nearing the end of the story when the school bell rang and everyone, including the teacher (except me) jumped out of their skin! The teacher put her hand to her chest and gasped Oh my!

Fellow classmates zoomed out of that room, and the teacher apologized to me that she hadn’t finished the story.

That day is forever etched in memory.

Punk It

When I was 15 or so, I was invited to a rather unusual birthday party. It was an impromptu, spur of the moment invite from a fellow I barely knew. But I was curious, so me and a couple of friends checked it out.

We heard music blasting a block away on a chilly spring evening and approached the ‘birthday house’ with trepidation. It was music I had never heard before, loud, angry and screaming!

We were escorted into a basement crammed with colourful characters. There were a few mohawk hairdo’s, body piercings, neon dyed hair, and strange attire.

This was Punk.

The birthday was a high energy, loud celebration that was fury, not joy.

I wondered what everyone was so mad and unhappy about, especially at a birthday party. But I couldn’t find out, I couldn’t talk to anybody, the music was louder than a rocket launch.

The fellow who invited us pleaded with me to stay at least until the cake was served.

Suddenly, the music was silenced and people burst into the traditional Happy Birthday song. I was relieved to hear the familiar tune, and happy to see smiling faces. But it was only a fleeting reprieve. A candle less cake arrived, coated in a sickly green icing with cigarette butts stuck in it – among other things.

After a polite refusal of cake, my friends and I hightailed it out of there, convinced that once the music started back up, police sirens would not be far behind.

Fast forward to today. I read a book about the 1980’s punk scene (We’re Not Here to Entertain)and according to the author, boy, was my perception wrong. To tell the truth, I really didn’t have much of any kind of opinion, other than punk was weird, unquestionably hostile and more than a bit scary, based on that single episode in my life. I never gave it much thought after that.

My teenage world was the total opposite of punk. I didn’t understand their rage. But it appears that they were disaffected youth, just like my somewhat hippie upbringing – mad at our leaders, disappointed with our government, upset with events in the world, terrified by the nuclear war threat, sickened by environmental issues, unloved by parents and peers, and feeling powerless. Punk rockers screamed their hostility, while I quietly squirrelled it away. They rebelled and I surrendered.

I could never be like punk rockers, I never fully embraced hippie rebellion either, but I have a new respect for their ‘in your face’ resistance to an unfair and often corrupt system in which we must live, navigate and ultimately, survive.

A New Way of Thinking

Recently I completed an on-line course on Environmental Law, and once again, I am blown away. I am trying to pursue subjects that I had zero or little interest in for various reasons and I highly recommend you try also.

I had no understanding of the legal process and held uninformed opinions and prejudices about laws, lawyers, etc. I thought legalese was gobbley gook that only those who could endure years of study were able to understand. That part is true, it is gobbley gook and it does take years to fully grasp it, but for a good reason. Laws have to be very precise and have universal meaning, that is, to enable identical interpretation the world over and be effective. This is what good lawyers and policy makers do, they look for weak areas, to exploit or remedy. And good institutions work hard to ensure they can enforce what they are assigned to do, in this case, to legally protect the environment. Judges ensure that all players in the game are following the rules to the letter.

But there is so much more to law than mumbo jumbo. This was a fascinating course for two reasons. First, an understanding of how laws work, the institutions developed to uphold laws, what judges really do, and how all this is applied to real world cases. And it examined some shocking environmental issues and abuses. Interesting enough. But the second, and greater value from this course was developing a new way of thinking.

When I left the administrative secretarial work force and became a medical secretary, it was as if I left earth and landed on Pluto. Everything was entirely different. They spoke a strange language. Office procedures were entirely foreign. Oh sure, you still operated a computer, typed and answered phones, but this was a whole new and much higher level of being, doing and thinking. When you first work in the medical field, your head goes tilt-tilt-tilt.

And this is what this course did for me. It took me to a whole new way of thinking. I had to not only change gears, but change vehicles.

So if you really want to expand your present awareness, to learn how to understand, analyze and interpret the world around you, take a course, read a book, sign up for an experience.

It not only adds to your knowledge, but it’ll shake up your opinions and beliefs. It’ll expand your world view. When it comes to what you think you know about life, the universe and everything, you might just find you had it all wrong.

Author

Author

It is a long time ago now, but I remember this photograph well.

At the time this was taken, I was an avid photographer, to say the least. I took pictures of everything, and in return, people took many pictures of me, perhaps in revenge! I made photo albums, those horrid self stick pages, good grief! And I would add captions that proved to be, sometimes, unpopular.

The above, with that caption, set me up for mockery.

At the time I was stunned by the backlash, because I was in no way trying to be pretentious, at that age, I didn’t even know what that meant. I was just simply stating a fact. Sure, I had lots of creative interests that I wanted to pursue, but I was a writer first and foremost and I didn’t doubt myself at all. I never questioned it. It was an activity I did every single day. I wrote hundreds of stories. I thought everyone else knew who they were too and should just say so.

Yep. Pretty pretentious!

That was the day I started shrinking from who I am. Over time, my real self was nearly totally eroded by the well meaning and maybe not so well meaning direction of others. As a result, I was miserable most of my adult life. I never successfully integrated into any field of endeavour, failed at every employ and relationship I had, and was LOST.

If you can remember who you are, live it. It is not that it is never too late, but why spend any of your precious time and life trying to be something you are not. My adult life was just one big embarrassment because I was a jagged square peg trying to fit into round holes.

Luck

In all the years I’ve been around, all the years I’ve struggled and been frustrated, I have come to the conclusion that luck is probably the most important ingredient in any success story.

Luck supersedes most everything else, because without it, all else you do is null and void.

You can work your ass off and never be recognized or rewarded. You can strive until hell freezes over and not be one iota closer to your goals. You can have limitless talent and go nowhere.

You can pray and say hail Mary’s, light candles and be a regular church and God devotee and your hopes and dreams may never materialize.

You can subscribe to all the courses, read all the books, make vision boards, meditate, buy lotto tickets, network, brown nose and smile till your face falls off and not be one single dot closer to your hopes and desires.

You can use lucky charms, have a Patron Saint medallion, rub your fingers smooth on rosary beads or in my case, have Jiminy Cricket sitting at my computer screen grinning, and all you have is more things to dust.

Why?

Because luck has not kissed you.

Some people do jack shit all their lives and because of luck, have everything.

Oh how I wish I could tell you otherwise!

But that is life.

Oh to be Ferris Bueller!

Yeah, I’m a bit bitter about this.

I can tell you truthfully, whenever something great has happened in my life, I marvel, because it came about in such incredible ways, that I really had not much to do with and can take no credit for. Needless to say, I haven’t had much of it, but the few notable examples cause me to be awed.

I believe things are this way to prevent us from taking credit for our success and being egotistical jackasses about it. And to just piss us off.

So what to do?

The only thing you can do is be happy. Oh groan, how trite! But I am telling you the truth. Do what makes you happy. Be yourself.

Hogshead

I watched the movie Across the Universe again last night. If you love Beatles music, and are somewhat nostalgic for the 1960’s, and remember the turbulent times, this is a movie to see. It is lavishly produced with startling imagery, and of course awesome music. Over the years I have revisited this movie many times, I do enjoy it, but there is one small detail that has irked me since day one.

Isn’t it funny how one stupid thing can bug you?

So I’m going to say it here, and maybe it’ll stop bugging me.

I love Mr. Kite and the interesting visual effects of this part of the movie, but in reference to the song lyrics ‘…lastly through a hogshead of real fire…’ the movie has an actual pigs head. No! A hogshead is a large barrel, not a pigs head!

It has annoyed me for years.

There. Got it out.

You Are NEVER Going to Feel Like It

Got something that needs to be done?

Something you want to do?

But you are waiting, waiting for the right moment. Or when you feel like it. Or for permission?

I tell you now. You are never going to feel like it. The only person who can give you permission is you. And the only right moment is now .

One afternoon while I waited to have an X-ray, two women sat across from me. They were an interesting contrast. One lady sat straight in the chair, looked to be about fifty. The other, her friend, slumped over her knees and was probably about thirty.

The slumped lady was confiding to her friend that she really wanted to go back to school and get a degree in psychology, and her friend was providing her with all the reasons why she couldn’t and shouldn’t.

I wanted to speak up but I didn’t. I went back to school after nearly ten years and got my degree in biology, so I wanted to tell her to go for it. And I have since regretted I didn’t go further and pursue more courses.

This woman wanted permission. Oh how I can relate to that! Most women are taught to seek approval before we act.

So if you want to do something. Do it. Because you are never ever going to feel like it. It’s never going to be the right time. Few are going to be on your side. You have to just shut up and do it.

Do You Want to Change?

For a good portion of my life I was the self-help Queen – I read every self-help book there was, took lots of courses, attended many seminars. All that motivational, improve yourself stuff only helped me marginally, and that is being generous. Mostly, it emptied my pocket and made others rich.

Do you want to change?

Here is how.

Get rid of all your self help books.

Go to ground zero. Accept yourself right now, as you are, warts and all. The books are wrong. Motivational speakers are wrong. There is nothing wrong with you that the following can’t fix.

Education: Instead of reading self help junk, read about subjects you don’t know anything about; history, aeronautics, architecture, psychology, mechanics, biology, the list is endless. Read biographies. Read all kinds of fiction. Watch documentaries. Check out your library – so much for free! Take courses on-line with EdX and Coursera (from Universities all over the world, for free!!) Fill your mind with all kinds of interesting stuff.

Experience: Get out there and try things. See things. Go to museums and art galleries. Visit different lands, experience unique cultures and talk to people. Go to university lectures and seminars. Go to concerts. Symphonies. Theatre.

Listen: When people talk, hear what they are saying. You will learn some unexpected things!

Be open: Say YES to life and enjoy all it has to offer. Keep an open mind. Be optimistic. Find the good in the bad. Let go of your opinions and judgements.

All of this will magically do a zillion times more than any self help book.