The title of this week’s post can be interpreted in many ways. Such as the reflections of the sky and mountains on a calm day when looking at a lake or pond when the water is like glass, giving us fantastic mirror like views that makes us want to take pictures so we can remember both the beauty and the serenity of that moment forever. There is something very peaceful and comfortable in finding such a scene on a summer day when one accidentally comes upon such a sight. We find, in many homes, people hanging such pictures on their walls, so that maybe in those times of chaos, they could look upon those images and bring back memories of the feelings they had when they may have made such a discovery themselves, relaxing and pausing, if it is only a moment.

Then there are the reflections that we see everyday. The one in that mirror as we prepare for our day, and each time we take a trip to that restroom during the work day, we see ourselves again and again, as we pass by those mirrors. Plus not only do we see ourselves, but any others who may be within sight of those mirrors. They also allow us to see our surroundings without looking directly at them. Think of the increase in accidents if we did not have those rear view mirrors on our automobiles – it is one of those things that we take for granted. The problem with mirrors, especially when we are using them in the morning is that they do not lie. They only reflect what is in front of them. So it is we, through our views and thoughts about ourselves, that the image we see is either positive, negative, or something in-between. This can be followed by the reflections we see in windows as we window-shop, or are walking down a city street. Giving us views of both what the store is offering and what is happening on the street.

We can then look at reflections as a twofold condition when we reflect back on our own past. And why this is twofold is simple – we can be in a nostalgic mood wanting to remember the fun times, the good times, and not dwell on the bad, or we could be serious trying to reflect upon where we as an individual need to improve. Such times as this usually comes up just before that annual review at your job, where you and your immediate supervisor get together and determine your performance in the past year – knowing that you need to come up with facts to support why you deserve that raise, or why some point that is brought up isn’t accurate. The first, is what we do when we have some down time, or a song, or feeling happens to strike us in such a way that it takes us back to that moment when we first heard or felt it. Like what was happening at the moment when a favorite song came on the radio, or maybe when you found your life mate, or you held your first-born in your arms for the first time. Still it could have been one of those summer days when you were out of elementary school for the summer, lying down in a meadow after playing for a while, looking up into the sky and watching clouds drift across that sky, while a soft warm breeze caressed you.

It is this last, more than the rest, that I’m looking to at this time of year. With this year ending, and a new one beginning we all have a tendency to look back, to reflect on the changes that have taken place, whether these changes were good or bad. We look nostalgically on personal happy events that have taken place, and maybe even feel a tear forming because of some personal tragedy. We may even reflect on how the world has fared, or even the nation where you live. There’s a very good chance that you will look at yourself, and those many personal relationships, and wonder if we had done enough. Had we supported our mates enough, were those personal relationships, both friendships, and work buddies, still strong, or had we been responsible for some rift that had developed? But since these are all past events we truly have no way of going back and changing them. Yet, we vow that with the new year we will try.

Still, at this time of year, and because of who we are as individuals, we all do look back, we all reminisce, we all wonder if we had done something differently would it have made a difference, and we all vow to correct those mistakes or at least not repeat them, to do something for ourselves, for our health, for our family and friends. But, in the end, will we, or will it continue as is? Since life is very busy and full, and each day is filled with those little challenges, some major, other trivial, it is easy to get lost in all of this, to lose our humanity, our individuality. Yet, if we can remain true to who we are, in the end, it is all that we can ask of ourselves. So, as we all do this time of year, look back, reflect, reminisce, make those new year resolutions that we probably won’t keep, and live your life as fully as you can. Because, there will be a time when you are no longer young, no longer strong, and your health will be fragile. At this time in your life you want to be able to reminisce, to reflect on your life and know that there will be no serious regrets.  May the year 2013 be a good one for all out there. Thank you to all that follow this blog and the many who visit from time to time.

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 8:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Darkness Incomplete

It is that time  for another short fictional story. I’m attempting, at this time, to post a short fictional story once a month. I’m not always successful in this endeavor, still this is more than I have posted in the past. In this story, and in life, we must remember that many times what we have planned and expect, do not necessarily come out as we think or hope in the end.

It was a quiet cold evening, with the promise of rain or snow in the breeze, as the old man quietly made his way down the street. The homes along this street were run down, and need of paint a very long time ago. All the windows that faced the street were boarded up so no light escaped. It was late, past the mandatory curfew really, but he remained in the shadows and moved with a stealth that defied his age. How long had this been in effect? He wondered. While his memory wasn’t nearly as good as it once was he couldn’t remember when it hadn’t existed. Heck he couldn’t even recall the event that had led this government to place martial law over all the citizens. Well, whatever it had been it turned out to be the excuse that the government needed to make it permanent. Slowly, over time, their freedoms had disappeared until it was like they were in prison – too many spies, too many willing to turn in someone else to get the pressure off of them. The secret police were relentless in the pursuit of imagined or real crimes, and there was no protection for the common citizen. They had no rights, no guarantees of a fair trial, or a trial at all. No way to confront their accusers or false witnesses. Just what had happened?

This had been a place where individual freedoms abounded, but now there were none. It used to be the Land of the Free – what a joke now. What the state wanted, the state got, and there was no higher authority to appeal – so one tried to stay out of the eyes of the state.  Once the state became aware of you, then, likely or not, you would disappear, never to be heard from again. So why was he chancing this tonight? It made no sense really. He was in his 80’s and could walk, but to run would be a joke and be all but impossible. So he quietly shuffled, continuing to remain in the shadows, and move cautiously from shadow to shadow. These existing shadows caused by the lack of street lights as only 1 in 3 seemed to function, and of those that did, the light produced was dim. Oh yes the ones who were in control had night vision goggles, the police dogs, and the many patrols. But after a while the patterns came to one, and if one was very careful, one could move from one place to another and not be seen, not be caught. As he passed a dingy street lamp he glanced at his watch and knew that he needed to be inside in the next few minutes as the next patrol was due. So he headed around the dilapidated abandoned house, avoiding the wet grass and weeds, then through the broken door that led to the basement and entered just enough to remain out of sight – hidden.

He heard the vehicle approach and stop, he could see the spotlight light up the unkept yard between the houses. It lingered for a moment; he could hear the police vehicle idle for a few moments. He held his breath as he wondered if he had left some evidence of his passing. He slowly let out his breath and continued to breathe with shallow slow breaths. Finally the light moved on and then he heard the car pull away. He knew that he needed to continue his wait because there would be a foot patrol on the heels of the mounted one. Still, as cold as it was, he suspected that they would move as quickly as possible and head back to the warmth of the station. Tonight the cloud cover was hanging low touching the tops of the lamp posts, producing a light fog that further obscured the light, and there was a very fine, light mist falling, furthering the shadows even more. Yes, he was cold, but it wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last. He couldn’t remember the last time that the room that he lived in was warm. Again, what had happened? If he remembered right, and who knew if he did, as he found his mind playing tricks on him all the time, after all age could do that to one, it had been rare that his home had been cold. There had been enough firewood, enough electricity, and enough gas to keep one warm. But as the time slipped from the past to now, these things became rare, except, of course, for the ones in charge. One could look with envy when passing their homes, or places that they worked. It was quite obvious that they had what all used to have.

Taking a deep breath, now that the foot patrol had passed, and as he had thought, rather quickly because of the freezing weather, he returned to the shadows and continued down the street. Soon he would leave the streets and head through the wooded area and the destination for this night. Who’d thought that I’d be doing this kind of thing, he thought, because if he was caught he knew that death wouldn’t be far behind, because the state looked upon what he was doing as treason. Never in a thousand years, he thought. But here he was, and before him lay the darker shadows marking the beginnings of the wooded area. It would be another fifteen minutes before he reached his destination. And if any observed his destination it would make no sense, none at all. Because where he was going there appeared to be nothing – no buildings, no campgrounds, nothing but the heavy dark woods. Yet, these others would be wrong. He knew that soon his time on this earth would be at an end. After all it was the way of things. You were born, you lived your life, and then you died. It was important what you did with that time between birth and death. Yet how many thought so in what they faced now? He really didn’t know, and if the truth be told, he really didn’t care. After all, each was responsible for their own way.

He felt it in his bones that this would be his last year anyway. But none could predict such things, unless, of course, one became the interest of the government, of the state. Then you could almost predict when your death would come. Nobody spoke of it, but all knew. Still he felt that his time of passing would be because of his age and not because of this government and its suppression of all that is right and good. So with these thoughts he disappeared into those woods, away from the patrols, away from this small town, alone, into the fog with the cold, mist, and darkness as his only companions. Yet if there had been light for someone to see they would be surprised, because he had a smile, a look of joy, the belied the facts, the conditions, the suppression that all of them lived under. So he continued his slow shuffling walk with a determination the defied his frail body, walking around a small copse of trees and disappeared from sight.

Ahead of him stood a small group that like he had arrived at this very spot one at a time. No one spoke as each acknowledged the other with a simple nod of the head. Then as a group they entered an abandoned, and completely forgotten mine, the entrance totally hidden, and partially collapsed. Down they went into the complete darkness and where the tunnels split they took the direction the held no promise of safety or of wealth –only the promise of a dead-end. When they turned the final corner the shaft opened up to a larger area, a room of sorts. Here candles were lit, here there were benches. In front stood a podium – the benches were filled with people – people who were looking expectantly at him as he headed to the front, towards that very podium. He returned their stares and smiled. Quietly he spoke, “Welcome all, for this is a very special night. One that is most important. Even though very few accept it we know the truth. And this government or any government cannot hide from it or cause it to disappear. For you see, we know that tonight, this special night is the night that we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. It is Christmas night, and a time to share that good news. So we will read of this from the Bible, have our fellowship, and then return to the world that Satan owns. God Bless you all.” And as he walked up to that podium his mind drifted back to those good times where each house had trees decorated for the season, and the happy children waiting with impatience for those gifts that would magically appear under those trees. Not knowing or understanding that these gifts were a representation of God’s Love. His Love for a fallen people and that this night was the celebration of God reaching out to man so that he could find his way home.

Published in: on December 22, 2012 at 8:11 am  Comments (5)  
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2nd Amendment Rights

The sad part of all of this becomes the fact that the families who are trying to cope with this situation are left high and dry as one side tries to eliminate freedoms and rights while the other side fight to maintain them. It has become a world where politics in one form or another overrides what is important and right.

As is always the case when weapons are involved in multiple deaths the screams for, “There ought to be a law and all guns are evil and nobody has the right to own one, and if we take all guns away then we will prevent this from ever happening again.” False, false, false, and more false. The minute a government gets guns out of the hands of the citizens is the moment that those citizens can kiss away any possibility of tolerance on the part of that government. At that very point in time the government controls your destiny. They will determine what the law of the land will be, whether you have any rights, or even whether you have the right to live. And remember it is that 2nd amendment which protects your 1st amendment rights. And most importantly, remember that any freedoms you give up will never be seen again. So be careful what you wish for.

If one was to place a gun on a counter and no one ever touched it, would someone die from this weapon? Of course not. So, it is not the gun that is responsible, but the individual behind that gun. After all, it is a tool, no different from that automobile you drive, and yet every time someone dies in an automobile accident or when it is used as a weapon you don’t see anybody up in arms screaming that cars should be outlawed. Then the ones who want to eliminate your rights would say, “But that’s different.” And again the obvious question would be, “how so?” After all, both killed, both took innocent lives, both can and are used as weapons, yet one is okay and the other isn’t? And when comparing the deaths caused by just these two, cars kill so many more, so where’s the outcry against automobiles, and for that matter, knives, rocks, forks, hammers, axes, or so many other items that have been used as weapons and have caused death. No, it specifically must be guns.

Yet, it is that very tool that allows them this right to yell at the top of their lungs that guns are the very problem and must be eliminated like a cancer. No single item, stated above, ever killed anyone until a fellow human picked it up and used it as a weapon. In countries where weapons are required, you do not find such things happening – why, because all are armed and all know how to use those weapons. So do you think in this present situation that if the ones at school were armed that this would have been as tragic, or that it would have even happened? The place of the highest violence, death, and crimes against individuals is a place where there are no guns, yet the deaths, murders and such continue at above the national rate. Where is this, you might ask – prisons of course.

In countries where guns were eliminated, violent crime went up dramatically. How could this be?  After all, the very evil gun had been eliminated and so, one logically would think, would crime – not. Yet, again, it is because the weapon is just a symptom, not the cure. To cure this problem you must go after the disease and that disease is us not our tools.

For the conspiracy theorists out there, it wouldn’t surprise me to find that this is a planned, concerted effort from the far left to eliminate guns. After all, the ones who are perpetuating these crimes could be equated to the suicide bombers, carrying out their mission, and doing it in such a way to give no evidence to the organization or organizations responsible. And that’s not saying that our government has their fingers in this pie, but remember that Bill Ayers, the leader of the Weathermen underground, domestic terrorists in the 70’s, openly stated that if he was in charge that they would have to kill 25 million Americans to bring the rest in line. He knew that until guns were out of the hands of the common citizen then his ideas, his plans for America could not happen. And he is one of Obama’s czars. And before you deny any of this, remember that this government has already been caught doing many major illegal operations, including the selling of guns to the Mexican drug cartels, so that they could attack the second amendment.

Bottom line – in this world violence rules. It has taken nations with weapons and military strength to quell it where it rises. But does that mean that it doesn’t exist? To be a pacifist requires someone else to carry that weapon. That weapon that protects the rights of those who yell with all of their emotion, strength and power from their lungs that guns are evil and only by eliminating them will we be safe. Take them away and see how safe you really are, see how long it is before you hide in your house because it is unsafe to even leave, let alone cross a street. Go ahead and turn your weapon in, and watch as the murderer, the thief, the rapist, and all criminals salivate at an unarmed citizenry; for you have now made it so much easier for them to carry out their violence, intimidation, and crimes. After all the police cannot be everywhere, and why should they care? After all the criminals, the corrupt are the ones who will be in control.

And the government? This government will laugh with joy, since they can now make this great country similar to the old USSR, to Europe, where socialism runs rampant, and who can argue, who can put up a fight – no one, no one at all. Think of North Korea, China, Vietnam, all with gun control, and millions murdered by their respective governments. And if that doesn’t make you think, think about all the countries in the world where the military takes over the government with a coupe. Again, one of the many things that keep this out of the minds of our military leaders is that darned second amendment. Remember that this isn’t a Pollyanna world. This is a world of tribes, of violence, of one against another. It was one of the reasons for that second amendment. And history has borne out the proof that they were right. To protect who we are, to keep our families safe, to keep our government and military in line, it means that there has to be a civilian militia willing to fight and protect, and that means we must continue to have the right to own guns without any restrictions.

An Encouraging Word

Before I get into this week’s post, I want to pass on to the readers of this blog that I’ve made some changes. Hopefully this makes it easier to navigate around and to see and read past blog posts. Plus, for any who are interested in following this weekly blog, there is now a button added for that purpose. Again, for any who are new to this blog, I generally post on Saturdays.

Recently one of our close friends with a teenage daughter  moved back into town. Her husband is in the military so moves are something that is common and they’ve dealt with over the years. They have 2 children with one that graduated from high school last school year, and their youngest a junior in high school. Their last duty station was down South and this is where their youngest entered high school, became very active in the marching band, which then took 1st place in the nationals, and of course developed some very strong friendships. And as we all know, at this time in a person’s life, peers are more important and critical than parents or family.

This move clear across the country cost her all of this. No more marching band, no more close friendships, and the friendships that she had originally developed here had moved on and were no longer interested in renewing. The band at her new school, as it is, barely qualifies in comparison to the one she left. Plus the teacher refuses to allow her to join the band at her level, instead requiring her to go to the freshman level, which really doesn’t make sense and hurts a young person’s fragile self-esteem. So her world that was once filled with activities, relationships, and trips to different places with band competitions suddenly disappeared. So as one should expect with such a vast change in direction, emotionally she crashed. Couldn’t sleep, withdrew into herself, began failing classes, and had even thought about taking her own life. The “poor little me” syndrome was in full swing, and when one hasn’t lived life very long it is easy to overlook the fact that it is you and only you that controls what will happen to you personally.

Yes, there are always outside influences that affect us, but it is we who must determine how we will allow these outside influences to mark us, to leave those hidden scars. And for most it is only after living life for a while and getting some experience under one’s belt, so to speak, that we begin to realize this and to take some proactive action. Of course, we are all bent in a certain direction because of heredity, environment, and experience. But no matter what our strengths or weaknesses, we still have to live with who we are, and if you cannot make the changes within yourself, nobody else can. Yes, others can point you in the direction, but it still comes down to you and the decisions you make that will determine the outcome. Yet, looking back at this stated situation, could you have seen it in yourself and made the changes when you were in your middle teens? After all, this is a time of change, major change truthfully. Moving from childhood to adulthood, with those major changes happening to your body, your mind, and your emotions.

It is here during this time that many decisions are made that can influence one for the rest of our lives. And it really is unfair since we have neither the experience, or many times the mental capacity, to make an honest and proper decision. It’s not called the time of raging hormones for nothing. You can see the results of these ill-advised decisions all around you. People who had a chance for a scholarship, moving onto college, with strong futures ahead of them, giving them up and becoming either just a high school graduate or even dropping out of school because they know so much better. Only to find that they were very wrong and now are stuck in low paying jobs that are dead ends, with no chance at advancement. Or that single mother who now lives in poverty because she has no way out. And all of this coming about because we’ve made decisions without the necessary experience to know and find the correct solutions or answers. So that old phrase, “Life sucks, and then you die”, has some truth to it.

Yet when one is in the midst of these troubles it is very difficult to see them, and see a way out, thusly another famous phrase – “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Which simply translated means that when one is embroiled in life’s problems that many times it’s very hard to see beyond the immediate, and see that there will be a time when this will be the past, leading to another of those phrases – “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” The importance out of all of this is to learn. If we don’t, then shame on us. Because that means that somewhere down the road of our lives we will continue to repeat that same mistakes over and over again. Again to bring up another of those illustrations: A person walked into a wood shop and saw someone hitting himself on the head with a hammer. When asked why, the person replied, “Because it feels so good when I stop.”

Now to come full circle with this and the title of this week’s post, sometimes even with the support of loved ones, the individual doesn’t see a way out and it requires that encouraging word, many times over, before it finally reaches fertile ground. And sometimes it requires knowing the person well enough to find that one thing that can spark their interest, draw their thoughts away from those dark depths, and to see that the world didn’t end when they were required to make such a change. Sometimes it means that one has to dangle that carrot to get them to find a way out. And here it was such. Slowly she’s making the move, and eventually should be able to move forward with her life as new friends are found, and the project that was given to her as a possibility may come to fruition, then we can hope that that critical moment is now in the past and she will move forward with her life, and really, in the end, this applies to all of us.

Published in: on December 8, 2012 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Post 100

At the one year anniversary of this blog, I posted about reaching that first milestone. At the creation of this blog, I, at first, couldn’t see how one could maintain a weekly blog and keep the posts fresh, and because of who each of us are, secondly, not repeat the subjects too often. Of course in this present world, an author is required to maintain a presence on the web. Generally, this presence is maintained through blogging, (and for some this becomes their web page), a web page, and the author should also have a presence on Facebook, and other social networks. Then they must be able to maintain all of these many sources, and continue to write one’s books and stories. At one time it was considered full-time just to write the stories, write the books. After all, the rest was handled by the publishers, the editors, and their advertising departments. So here I am, a writer, with this blog, reaching another milestone, post 100.

At the beginning, I really had no idea what I would be posting other than that I had e-books out there, and hoped that people would be interested in the stories that I had written. But I knew that if I just talked about them, 3 e-books at this time, in the end, this would be a very boring blog, and in short order I would only be posting to myself with no one truly interested in another boring, albeit regular blog. Even coming up with the subtitle, “The miscellaneous remembrances, and writings of F. D. Brant a Self Published Writer”, left the field wide open as to what this blog would be about. And I guess in the end it pretty much summed up what it became. The blog became an eclectic collection of many different subjects and directions, with excerpts from the books I’ve published, ideas about writing, where my ideas came from, how to approach writing, my personal history, and even though I tried to avoid it, politics, and of course short stories intermingled within, with brief introductions identifying where I may have developed the ideas for those short stories.

At post 100, the blog is still evolving, changing, and as with any field the more ones practices, one hopes that they improve. I know that my writing has. And probably, as most who look back on their first published work, there is some cringing, knowing now that if one had written it in the present time that it would have been so much better. But at some point you must take that plunge, take that chance, and add your work to the millions that are out there. I enjoy writing short stories, as well as the novels that I have produced. My short stories range from around a 1000 to 6000 words, while the novels range up to 165,000 words. A vast difference between the two, that’s for sure. I guess for the short stories I can be short and sweet, hitting all the elements that draws one in, but a bit long-winded when I tell a full story, which at times, covers 2 books, instead of just a single incident which a short story generally relates.

Again when I began this blog I had no idea how long a post should be, and I guess there’s no definitive answer or number of words required. As there are blogs that only run a sentence to others that would run on for pages. For me I found that most of mine fall around 1000 words, and this works for me. So with this milestone, it gives me a chance to look back on something that at the beginning had a dark and unknown future, to now with 99 posts behind this one I’m presently posting. Again like any out there I don’t know the real direction of this blog because its future is still dark and unknown, but I can say that I will continue to work it as I continue to write. I will maintain my Facebook page, although I’m definitely not into social media, and will continue to have a separate web page. And if the truth is told, I find that I’m most active here on the blog, and attempt to at least update the others as time allows.

As far as the web page goes, I’m it. I’ve had to design, set it up, and keep it up. And that makes it not as nice or pretty as many others out there. But at least I can say I tried and what is there is honest. I’ve even given a page to my favorite authors and wherever possible provide links to their sites. I felt it is only right to acknowledge those who have influenced and entertained me personally. Again as I get better at doing web pages I will replace this one with a better one. And who knows, some day I may be able to afford a true web page designer, but like most of us, I’m not rich, and money is always an issue. So most of the work on all of these numerous sites fall to me personally. And this not a complaint, just the facts, and if I’m to be successful someday I must take that responsibility as I do for my books.

As far as my books, I am responsible for all. I write, edit, create the front cover, write the blurb, check the formating, before using a conversion company to convert them to the e-book format. In many ways this means that the stories may not get in front of the readers who would enjoy these stories, but one does what they must. And any who follow this blog know that I’m in my 60’s, so time is not my friend, and I don’t necessarily have those ten years to become noticed, to develop a following, to find those readers who would enjoy these works. So in some ways the pressure is on to get my works out there into the real world and to continue to write as long as I can be creative. Because I know that there will be a time in the near future where that creativity will be ending. I cannot say when that will be, but all of us are finite, and as such, so are our works. Yet, I enjoy creating that story be it short or long, and I enjoy the fictional worlds that come out of these writings. All can become very real to me, and if they can for the reader then as a writer I’ve done my job.

Again, thank all of you who follow this blog, and in my humble way I hope that you find this blog interesting and want to continue to follow, and that this may lead you to at least check out my writings. As an author, it truly all I can ask. F. D. Brant

Published in: on December 1, 2012 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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