Thursday, December 31, 2015



A new year is upon us. All across the world, people are considering ways to improve their lives ... quit this, start that ... slow down, speed up ... buy this, sell that ... fall in love, fall out of love. Oh, it's a miracle we survive at all.

So many changes. So many of you in a hurry to get somewhere, or worse, damned determined not to get anywhere. Hey, who knows? Maybe, you're already there.

Yes, another year stumbles in the side door with the cat. You've probably done your worst for the year, probably done your best. Now, you get to start over. Woo-hoo ...

Who can say what the new year will bring? It's sort of a mystery, isn't it? Sort of like you're on the cusp of something that you can't completely fathom. Sort of like poking your nose into the unknown, a little like Pandora, when she decided she might have just a wee peek inside her box, and BLAM! ... all the world's evils came shooting out of there like someone had thrown a lit cigar butt into a case of Roman candles.

Maybe that's why we celebrate New Year's with a fireworks spectacular. Must be some kind of distant memory.

Oh dear. Time, time, time. Whose idea was it to measure time? And what makes New Year's such a grand celebration? I mean a ball drops in Times Square and people go ga-ga, and for a second or two, it's a good trick.

After all, you wake up New Year's Day full of shit and vinegar, and you promise yourself that this and that is about to change, that maybe you'll stop hiding from life and finally "get it on," be a better somebody, take the bull by the horns and finally ... finally be the person you always dreamt of being. No more insecurities. No more feelings of inadequacy.

So what happens? After an hour or so, your head aches, your back hurts, you keep getting voicemail when you call that special someone you kissed at midnight at the New Year's party, and suddenly you start to whip up a whole new batch of insecurities and inadequacies, ones that have a startling resemblance to the ones that you thought you'd just dumped.

The old memories return, the old habits refuse to find the road out of town, and the physical twitches, tucks, cracks, crinkles, and droops keep peeking back at you in the bathroom mirror. Quite honestly, the new you looks far too much like the old you. You slip back into the familiar, the comfortable hiding place where you at least feel safe from harm, without realising that you're really just hiding from yourself, which may be the greatest harm of all.

No matter what anyone says, celebrating a New Year is not like pushing the reset button. You don't suddenly jump back 10, 20, or 30 years in age, and you don't get any do-overs. Do you honestly think that you'll wake to some great change tomorrow morning? Same house, same family, same friends, same dog that craps on the hallway carpet. Same old, same old.

What a New Year does do is try to show you that time waits for no one. As one minute slips by, another begins, as one hour, one day, one month, one year ends, another begins. No stops along the way, no pause button to push. Tick, tick, tick ... time moves forward relentlessly, and it doesn't give a damn if you're filling the minutes, hours, days, months and years with love, life and happiness or if you're simply a spectator watching the parade as it passes by.

I think New Year's offers you a chance, as momentary as that chance may be, to discover something about yourself. That something is almost too vague and too mysterious to explain. The best that I can do is to suggest that this moment, this very moment as you read this, is now gone forever. In the same way, every next moment, every next breath, every next wish, every next hope and dream slips into the past as soon as you experience it. But wait! Just as suddenly as these pass, another moment appears, another breath leaves you, your wishes, your hopes and your dreams renew themselves over and over again. Like the second hand on the clock in the hall, nothing stops.

All you have to do is grab hold of every moment that passes, feel the joy or the pain that each moment brings, and let yourself move forward, always forward to the next moment. Be present. Be aware. Accept what is, and use every experience, no matter how good or bad, no matter how fulfilling or disappointing, to guide you. Be as resolute as a leaf of grass, and adapt to the changing winds that buffet you this way or that.

It's always a new minute, hour, day, month, year. Learn from such a simple fact the simple truth that, with every passing moment, you will always be a new you.

Happy New Year ... Happy New You!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Very Merry Christmas

To You & Yours ...

A Very Merry Christmas



Monday, December 07, 2015

The Spirit Of Christmas ...

The Spirit Of Christmas ...

Is it the tinsel?
Is it the candy canes?
Is it the whole Santa Claus thing, with the elves, the sled, and the flying reindeer, one with an unrelenting, blinking red nose?

Is it the glitzy wrapping paper?
Is it the absurdly decorated bush in the corner, with its twinkling lights, and its little manger effect at its base?
Is it the Christmas cake, the Christmas cookies, the Christmas ham?

Is it the eggnog?
Is it those cranberry-nut-poinsettia-sprig-of-pine wreaths on every door you pass?
Is it the snowman dressed in a scarf and an old top hat on the neighbour's front yard?

Is it the Christmas stockings hung with great care?
Is it the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker Suite?
Is it having to watch It's A Wonderful Life for the 37th time?

Is it the Christmas carols?
Is it the Salvation Army kettle attended by someone dinging a little bell?
Is it the gingerbread house decorated with M&M's stuck permanently in that ridiculously impervious icing?

Is it the Christmas cards?
Is it the jolly jingles?
Is it the star of wonder?

Is it the scented candles?
Is it the mistletoe?
Is it that no-room-at-the-inn birth of Jesus scenario?

Is it the giving?
Is it the getting?
Is it watching the hopeful hands of children ripping and shredding through hours of carefully wrapped presents?

Is it the endless flash of some nit-wit's camera?
Is it the reminder of someone missing?
Is it the snuggly clump-clump of floppy new slippers?

Is it any of these?
Is it all of these?
Or is it that something in your heart that you will never ever find under a thousand thousand thousand Christmas trees?


Monday, November 30, 2015

If Not For You

If Not For You ...

So I guess I've written a few words over the years, strung a few sentences together, made some sense some days, and probably no sense other days.

Sometimes, I think the world is like a song. Sometimes, I hear the music of life as a love song, and other times, it's more like a slow jazz number with a sad saxophone playing through a smoky room. Sometimes it's full of the kind of energy that makes me want to dance, and other times, I drift into some melancholy tune and find myself unable to move.

Variety, right? Spice of life and all that.

I learned a long time ago, that you can't be a writer and expect to live on an even plane. A writer lives on the edge of the sharp blade of emotion. A writer doesn't get to feel just his or her emotions but seems to feel some kind of chaotic rush of emotions from all over, feelings, both familiar and foreign, battering down the doors of sanity. I can't sit in a restaurant, a coffee shop, or even on a bus without wondering what the lady across the way is thinking and feeling. I can't see a couple in the corner of the room without wondering if they are in the first throes of love or finalising the affair with punctuated anger.

See? It's never a one-person show. It gets crowded in this brain of mine.

And, yes, you are always in my mind, swirling the magic cauldron of imagination to see what kind of broth I'll come up with on any particular day. I know, maybe we've never met, but there is always a you in writing, a someone for whom a piece is written. I guess that's the hardest thing to understand. I can't say that I always know who that "you" is, but he or she is always there, always driving the imagery one way or another, be it funny or sad, magic or tragic.

So, I wanted to write to tell you that you are important. You're a part of this process, this undoing of the knots that tie up words and thoughts as they spill out upon the page. I wanted to let you know that whatever I write, it's never for me and always for you. I know that I don't always catch your ear with the simple sounds of my writing. I know that, some days, you're distracted by more important things, and maybe you read without really reading. That's OK. Everything in life has a backdrop, and if I'm your backdrop for even just a few moments, then that's good enough for me.

Funny, thinking how we share a world for a brief time now and then. I just want you to know how much I appreciate you. Without you, there would only be a blank page, an empty notebook, a blank screen. So, yeah, thanks and all that. You've made my world better.

So, so much better ...

Over the next month, I'll be busy with some personal matters, not the least of which is Christmas with five grandchildren. I can't say I'll be here every day, at least not until the New Year rings in, but I'll be around, so look for me from time to time.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

Black Friday

Ohhhh ... it's Black Friday.

For those of you who do not know any better, Black Friday is not a special holiday for black folks. Black Friday is a national shopping event. In America, stores reduce their prices on a wide variety of items to send shoppers into a kind of mania, a buying frenzy of the worst kind.

I suspect more flat screen televisions and video game controllers are sold on Black Friday than on any other day of the year.

And why not?

I mean, the day after Thanksgiving, a day when Americans express their gratitude for what they have, they go out and fight for more. Why? Because people believe that more is better especially if someone tells them that the more they're getting is cheap.

Now, my mother didn't raise no jackass, and to be honest, I can't believe that we're so ... oh, wait a sec ... I have a phone call ...

"Uh huh ..."

"Uh huh ..."

"How much?"

"Get out ... really???"

"OK ... but I'm writing a blog ..."

"OK ..."

"Yeah, yeah, bye ..."

So ... ummm ... well ...

I guess ... uh ...




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