A Celebration of Life

At the beginning of February we joined family and friends in the celebration of life for one who has passed away. It is during such celebrations that one learns, from the many who knew them, who and what this person represented to each individually, and how many lives she touched. (And one thing that became clear is that she really loved people.) For us as we go through our lives this is something we really don’t think much about. Here I mean the influences we may have left on individuals be it positive or negative. And here in such a setting we begin to see just who the one who passed away was and the many she did touch. If we think about it we play many roles during our lives. First off it is as a child having to deal with our parents and siblings – let alone that bully down the street. Then from that time on these roles grow to cover the many different aspects that is us. And many times at such ceremonies we learn about a different side or aspect of the one who has moved on that we were never aware of, and can be surprised by what is revealed. It is important to remember that for most of us those influences we leave behind are generally unknown to us, and sometimes these influences are seen from afar leaving us with no idea that we’ve left this legacy behind.

I believe that a little background is necessary, especially from one who came into this family from the outside. In other words I married into this family, as my wife married into mine. Still with her family, whenever family gatherings were held it would be at her brother’s home. And his wife Pam would be gracious, always smiling as the hoards would descend upon her home and chaos would reign supreme. So it became a tradition, and they had a pool, so the children loved to go there since they could swim to their heart’s content. Pam would interact with all of us, with that infectious smile of hers, and she always seemed to have a good word for any and all who would invade her home – in a good way of course. So we would always have fond memories of our time spent there.

What is it that makes a person this way? In many ways to find the answer is beyond me. If we had more like this woman, then there would be less strife, less commotion, less ill feelings, probably less demands, and maybe in the end a better world because of it. She, like the untold millions, will never be remembered beyond her family and friends, leaves a legacy that will be hard to follow or to live up to. No she’s not an angel or is she a perfect individual. Still what she had would give any of us a lofty goal to attain.

While this isn’t true of all men, most of us want to protect our women, and strive to do so. If we honestly think about it, because of the demands of the modern world, this protection is more of an illusion than fact. Because it requires both individuals in a relationship to work, it means a good portion of any day we are separated from our mates and then they are beyond that protection we want to provide. Still as the years pass by us, much too fast to be honest, we reach a point in our lives that we know that one of us will pass on before the other.

And if anything, the statistics show that it is the fact that women generally outlive men. So we, as men, try to make sure that if we are the first to pass on we leave our spouses in such a way that they won’t have to depend on others to make it through the day-to-day routine, and much of what is required will be taken care of and provided. And because her husband Dan, my brother-in-law, had almost died from the very same cancer years earlier, he felt – no, he knew he’d pass before she did. Only to learn, after doing everything necessary to make her time alone after he passed on, easy, it was not to be. It was discovered that she had a GBM, and it was already stage four. And two months later it took her life.

What can one say? What can one do? When all you have planned for, with the reality that you face knowing that it is you who will leave first only to learn you are completely wrong. Now it is he who is sitting in that lonely home after more than half a century of being together. How does one reconcile such a loss? At least for Dan, he has a loving family, and a rather large group of friends, who will continue to check in on him and assist him in his needs. And at times his home will be filled with the joy and laughter of his grandchildren – a blessing in itself. Yet on the other side of all of this will be the times when he will be alone, which are the toughest of all.

You see, when he learned of his cancer, none of his sons were married and if things held true he would not live to see any of his future grandchildren. And then within ten months all three were married, and as is the norm each added to the extended family, and he was able to enjoy those grandchildren. He was given the gift of seeing the future of his family, and the daughters-in-laws who joined his loving family. Since the cancer he has usually means that within two months he would succumb to the disease, in truth it is a miracle he’s still with us. In fact during the time of discovering the GBM he “flat-lined”. Yet here he is over six years later. Yes, all of us know that in the end it will take him for it is the nature of a GBM. It can only be suppressed and will return to finish what it started. There is no cure.

This leads one to think about the home they were living in as a loving couple and a family for all those wonderful years together. Any of us can relate to the fact that when we enter into someone’s home we can immediately sense the influences of the ones living there. Some homes invite you in making you immediately comfortable, and others leave you with the impression that the sooner one can leave the better. Theirs definitely is the former.

In the past I wrote a post dealing with a home, and how it goes through stages until sometime in its future it is replaced with something else. I looked at this from the point of view that when someone lives in that home it becomes a personal representation of them. And when you come to visit their history is there for you to see. And you know the warmth, the friendliness, and the love that is there. And I can say it is definitely here in their home. Still, sometime in the near future it will become empty as his time comes to an end as all of ours will someday.

Then, as family descends upon that home, with so many good and happy memories, slowly, as it is emptied of those keepsakes from the past, it will transform from a home to just a house, becoming vacant with nothing to remind any of all that has happened within its walls. Nothing to talk to any of the love, and joy that was there. No history of the past. At this point it becomes a blank slate waiting for a new family, and new memories to created. We all know it as the circle of life.

So what can really be said here other than the fact that we will see this happening right here in their loving home. When we are in the present, and we all live in the present, even with our ability to remember our past and attempt to see our future, this is something that is furthest from our minds. We love the time together as a loving couple, as a family and with friends. And at those special times we let the future become what it may. And then suddenly that future is the reality we are facing, and you see your loved one pass on ahead of you. And in most cases it is much too soon. Yet, in the end, all of us are only given so much time here. And the lesson we should take away from all of this is the fact that the most precious commodity we have, and we seem to do a great job of wasting it, is time. From what little I knew of her, Pam, like the rest of us, probably did waste a lot of time, but in the end before her time ended, she saw her children grow into responsible loving adults, and she absolutely loved her extended family and the growing family filling her home with the laughter of her grandchildren. And from her interaction, with that infectious smile, she held every one of these young lives in her loving arms. What will those same grandchildren’s memories of her be, well only they can say. Still from the images left for the future generations I’m sure it will be fond loving memories of their grandmother.

In this we cannot forget the adding of three women to the family, which had to be a nice addition for Pam since she had been surrounded by four males making her the minority. So to finally balance it out had to be wonderful for her. To have other women who became family must have filled her heart with joy. And for her the transition seemed effortless. Still, from what I can determine even towards the end you could see the love she had for her family.

And in the end we, in our time, will follow a similar path leaving memories of us with our family and friends. I guess the obvious question here is this: What will those memories of any of us be when it is our time? It is said that we die twice. The first time is our physical passing, and the second is when all who knew and loved us have joined us. At that point there is no one to remember or to know who we were. May it be for Pam, and Dan – when his time comes – that this second one will be a long time in the future. They truly deserve these loving memories. God Bless!

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Published in: on March 25, 2017 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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If You’ve Done it, There’s a Code

This week I take a break from A Time of Isolation, and do a post that is kind of fun , unless, of course, one of these codes applies to you personally. I’m sure every country in the world that have medical facilities have their own sets of codes that must be used for patients – shortcuts to keep diagnoses organized. This one, of course, is a set of International Diagnosis Codes (ICD-10 to be exact).  Part of the problem with any of these code systems is they change, and most of the time when the changes takes place there isn’t a general announcement stating anything about the changes, the announcements go out late, or the information never reaches the ones responsible for submitting the paperwork. Still for the ones who deal with these codes and if the codes they are using have been changed, then any paperwork submitted under the old codes will be rejected, and at that point the claims must be resubmitted with the corrected or new code.

Most of the time, as a layman, one would think these codes would cover all the known diseases, and probably the common accidents that brings one into the emergency room, hospital, or the doctor’s office. Yet the list presented here, which is way short of all that there is, will show you how far these codes actually go. And as the title says: If you’ve done it, there is an ICD-10 code for it. Again, what is here is used internationally. Still I suspect there’d be a similar code set used, even if it’s not this one, no matter where you live and it might be fun looking them up:

Y93.D            Activities involved arts and handcrafts

Z99.89          Depending on enabling machines and devices, not elsewhere classified

W55.41XD   Bitten by a pig, initial encounter (Lucky here, since pigs or hogs will eat you.)

W61.62XD   Struck by a duck, subsequent encounter (Retaliation by ducks against duck hunters?)

W55.29XA   Other contact with a cow, subsequent encounter (Obviously from this there must be multiple ways a cow can make contact, other than by phone.)

V00.01XD   Pedestrian on foot injured in collision with roller skater, subsequent encounter (So whose not paying attention?)

Z63.1            Problems in relationship with in-laws (I suspect this can cover a multitude of situations or sins.)

V91.07XD   Burn due to water skis on fire, subsequent encounter (Really? I’d personally not expect this, especially since one normally skis on water or snow. After all fire and water don’t mix very well.)

W22.02XD  Walked into a lamppost, subsequent encounter (I suspect this one is on the rise with the use of smart phones.)

V95.43XS   Spacecraft collision injuring occupant, sequela (A traffic jam in space, or is it something else? Anyway who’d have thought?)

V97.33XD   Sucked into a jet engine, subsequent encounter (This really does make it seem that the victim doesn’t have an elevator that goes to the top floor.)

As you can see from this very short list it covers a multitude of situations that one would never consider, or maybe with some of the codes there is proof of the stupidity of man. I suspect there are many bazaar injuries that could be added to this sample list, and some I’m sure could make us laugh. Still if it has happened to someone there is a code for it. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Published in: on July 23, 2016 at 7:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Christmas Wish for 2015

Last year for the first time I linked a video for this important time of year. This year and since this is Christmas Eve, I’ll be doing the same. On Saturday I’ll be having my regular weekly post with this year’s Christmas short story plus links back to last year’s story and my wish for the 2014 Christmas season, with that link to a video, of course. This year throughout the month of December, on my Saturday posts, I have been linking back to my past short Christmas stories starting with 2011 the year I began this blog.

I recently heard this song by Casting Crowns and thought it appropriate. Peace on Earth is a wish most of us pray for but have never seen. May your Christmas be a time of friends and family, and a remembrance for the true reason for the season. God Bless, and enjoy.

 

Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Memorial Day 2015

In a sense this qualifies as an extra post since most of my posts are posted on Saturday. Still in the recent past my wife found a couple of high school year books from the era of WWII. With the way the world has changed since that time I felt it important that we look back. A time when Americans were involved in the fighting and what it meant to that generation. Written below are statements printed inside of those books from, Flathead High. In the 1941 edition, and understand that this statement is before we entered the war, we have this stated:

“We Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America . . .”

Thus  in our school assemblies we begin our salute to the flag.

As we do this we remember that the birth of our nation was the most glorious that the ages have known: We see our government in a key position in world affairs during the horror of this day’s world war: We pray that our homes and schools may train us for a wise, courageous part in our nation’s future.

And in the 1942 year book from the same high school the principle’s message states:

If General MacAuthur were writing this message to you, students, he would express a truth that he felt most appropriate and vital for this critical hour. Recently he said to us Americans. “No man is fit to live until he is ready to die for something greater than life.” And he is backing up those words with deeds of heroism. Our boys in service are giving up everything to defend and preserve those things we cherish more than life. Where do we stand? Are we with them, one in purpose, one in mind and heart? Let us, in this graduation session, pledge our boys over there to stand by them through it all, to share in the struggle as well as the Victory. We cannot be true Americans unless we do, we cannot deserve freedom unless we live and die for it. Titus Kurtichanov.

Later as we began the “D” Day Invasion, Franklin Roosevelt made this speech which was a prayer: “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by  Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph . . .”

A different era for sure, but where do we stand today? Do we have what it takes to give what the greatest generation gave? We lost a generation to war. And we are still seeing deaths caused by regional wars. We are a world of tribes with a tribe mentality leading to so many unnecessary deaths. It has been said that war is modern civilization’s way of population control, and it does seem to be that way. Still if one doesn’t stand up for what this country represents, then in the end we deserve what we get. Most nations do not fall from an enemy outside their gates (Even if it appears from the outside to be so.), but from enemies within. We in this great country are facing those enemies now. Let’s make sure that the sacrifices made by our ancestors, and our military personnel of today isn’t in vain. Are the incidents of 9-11 to become a simple footnote in history? Something to glance at and forget? Are all these deaths unimportant? We are the only ones who can answer these and other such questions, and we are the only ones who can keep this Nation free. And that leaves us with this question: How will future generations remember this time, our time, us?

As we look to this Memorial Day, let us look back to simpler times, and to a generation that became known as the greatest. How do we in our time measure up? Memorial Day is about remembering those sacrifices. Let us remember. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Just an Update

This is to let you know the surgery was successful, and I’m recovering at home. Lots of pain, but such is life. My guess is that it will be at least 1 to 2 weeks before I can return to my normal posts, at which time I will continue the short story “The Deeps”.

Have a great week (or two) with the anticipation of new posts just down the road. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on February 14, 2015 at 6:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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What is Absolute Shall Remain

Personal thoughts and Opinions:

I’ve thought about this for a while, and what the title states is true. What I mean is this; if indeed there is a God, and I believe personally there is, the laws, the rules that were laid down are unchangeable period. No matter how mankind tries to change them, influence them, or ignore them they are there and will remain long after mankind is gone. It doesn’t necessarily apply only to the infinite, but also to governments and the laws that those governments are supposed to honor, and everything in-between.

If we were to look at the Constitution of this country (USA), those to the left want to change it so that it reflects more of the way they think, the way they act, the way they want to rule. And right now since the left is controlling the government it is obvious the direction of the country. And they are completely ignoring the laws of the land (the Constitution). And they state it is this way; “Because the constitution is an obsolete document it doesn’t apply to us. If it were only a living document then we might actually follow it. Since it’s not why should we be bound by or to it?”

Of course they want it to become a living document since doing so allows them to interpret it in any fashion and any direction they want. To translate it and change it to more reflect how they see it. In other words make it over in their image because it is their right to make these changes, and who cares how it will affect the citizens, the laws, and what this nation should be, and why should I care what any other might think. Because, bottom line, it’s my way or the highway.

We see similar things in many of the religions of this world. The learned ones or leaders who supposedly speak from the knowledge, education, and understanding, apply the laws within their particular religion as they see fit. If it doesn’t happen to fit the situation – their situation, then the inconvenient truth is they change it so that it will fit their personal beliefs. Yet, if what God states and what is written is Absolute, how are they able to change what is written, and change it in such a way that the results lead to their personal interpretation, making it convenient for them to accomplish whatever is their agenda? In other words, by taking anything out of context they can make it say anything they want it and we see this happening much too much.

We are seeing people killed for supposedly doing things against what these sacred scripts state, while others who violate the very same laws or scripts are getting a free pass because what these others are doing happens to support those in charge and their agendas. Again if what is written is absolute, how can it apply to one and not another, allowing  man to change it anytime he pleases? In truth he can’t, but does that change the facts or the inconvenient truth that they are saying they have such a right, are more knowledgable, and are better than the One who created all of this? Of course nobody has this right, but this is what we are seeing throughout this world.

In the end it probably comes down to these two words – power and control.  The ones who are pursuing these two words are doing whatever they feel they must to gain what these two words represent. The inconvenient truth lies in the fact that too many will do whatever is necessary to be part of those two words. It doesn’t matter where they are in the hierarchy, it only matters that they find a way, including the compromise of all that is written, and/or what they personally believe to get to the point where it is their word, their demands, their views that all must bow down to.

Yet one of the axioms, which has been around for much longer than I’ve existed is, Total power, corrupts totally. No matter how it comes about, whether for good, or for personal gain the results are always the same. There are more examples of this in history, than there are examples of this type of rule, this type of leadership, producing benevolent results. You name it, kings, sultans, socialism, communism, and even to some extent democracy, because there are many within this system that find a way to manipulate it to their wants and needs, and all have been corrupted by the lure of power, the lure of control.

We find it existing in all religions of the world. Where the ones on top of the hierarchy find ways to influence the governments, or in many cases become the government, bringing total control over the people who are under them. Study any of the history about any of the major players and you will find greed, deceit, corruption, the grab for power, religious wars, and so much more. Of course all of this applies to all the governments in this world. After all we are corruptible, and given the chance – any chance at all and we will be corrupted.

In a sense you see this with the pecking order throughout the natural world, and even where much is shared, inside families. And if one really thinks about it, when the leadership is shared there is less chance of the law or axiom of total power doing its worst. We see it in the world of birds, in the wilds with animals where the fight to be the alpha male and female is a constant day-to-day struggle. So is it a surprise we see the same thing with us in the world of mankind? When the alpha position is being used properly all benefit. The real problem lies in the fact that the siren’s call, her lure of power and control is so strong that the ones who reach the pinnacle of leadership eventually believe they are better, know more, and overall, what is needed for all the people who lie beneath them to remain beneath them. Pride and ego go before the fall.

There is a reason for the wisdom of the world to have been written and to be followed. Most of these writings strive to balance us, to keep the corruption out. The problem lies in the fact that even at the beginning, whether the goals were as they should be, and the ones who have reached this point of leadership, have been reading and following this wisdom, eventually they reach a point where they feel that all of this history, all of what is written, all of the admonishments, are no longer valid, and as such none of this rubbish applies to them.

It is at this point that the restrictions in the texts, or the Constitution become problems. After all, it means they cannot accomplish what they’ve set out to do, and so it is time for a change, time to make these documents living, “So any or all of them can reflect my point of view, my agenda. Because, I can see so much more, so much better than all, and because of this I will conveniently ignore what I want, and apply it the way I feel is in the best interest of, well, me.”

And when these leaders reach this point it is the world that suffers, with death and destruction, pain, torture, loss of life, and so many other unspeakable acts. Yet, when all is said and done, and in the end, it is still true, no matter what has been done, or the attempts to place such documents as being unimportant, a waste of time, an irritant, a restriction, they will always be Absolute and shall remain long after the time of the corrupted leaders who will be forgotten at some point in time, and be long buried in their graves.

* * *

January has bit the dust, and the first month of the new year is ending. It is the time of the gathering of documents, a time leading to what is known here in this country as tax season. It forces us to look back on 2014 and in a sense financially shows us whether it’s been a good year or not so good. I can only hope that is was a good one, and this year will be a better one. Have a great week and see you back here on Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

 

 

Impressions

What is it that you remember? Here I am referring to events, things you’ve witnessed, minor or major, or something you may have observed that, in the end, has remained with you throughout your life, and may have influenced you and your life. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that you personally witnessed or were a part of. It could easily have been something you’ve read that was written in such a way that it caused you to pause, to think, to contemplate what was presented, and wonder if maybe this was based on something the author may have witnessed or experienced. Yet, because of how it affected you, has remained with you and maybe left its mark, its impression, since that time. Those images of the past, when in the present and the situation is right, comes to the forefront of your mind, taking you back, and maybe to that very moment in time, in the past, and realizing it did indeed leave an impression.

In the recent past I wrote the short story, “And it Came to Pass”, presenting the world of the homeless. Obviously not all, since each have their own story as to why they are where they are. Again any who follow this blog know that I’m in my mid 60’s, so I’ve seen my share of life. Yet, where did this story come from, and imagery that is there? Part of what a writer does is take a situation and in his or her mind’s eye see a story there that can be written. The story could be for entertainment, to present an idea, or reveal something that is being overlooked and needs attention, or for something as simple as teaching a lesson. Yet, for that story to come forth there has to have been an impression, an image within the mind, somewhere along the line, strong enough to evoke images, strong enough to evoke the desire to write what the writer sees .

I guess I can go back to when I was 17 to see a moment in time, an impression that may have had the influence to create the Christmas story for 2014. I was starting out in life and working in a cafe in the small community I grew up in. Once I turned 18 I had plans to become a wildland fire fighter, which I did. So this was my first job after graduating from high school, allowing me to earn a little money. I simply was the dishwasher, and helped around the cafe where needed – a minimum wage job that earned me a whopping $1.10 an hour. (Not that being a wildland firefighter earned me much more than this. After my first raise I earned a whopping $1.89 per hour.)

A slight deviation here: I guess like most writers some of my characters are based on real people or composites of different individuals I’ve known over the years. Still, as I’ve stated, most of the time the characters are the result of the world and environment they exist, and as far as I know they are not based on any living person. For example, the owner of the cafe in the book, The Woman in the Snow, is probably a composite of 2 different cafe owners in that small town I grew up in. While Kal and Jura from the book I’ve just released, “A Taste of History Past”, are creations from their world and based on no one that I’m aware of.

Back to that time in my life at the age of 17. One day a bum entered the cafe. There was a counter there like you see in some of the older cafes. He was dirty, in clothes that did not fit, and ordered coffee, which at the time cost ten cents a cup. (This was before the time of free refills.) It was obvious he was down on his luck, as the saying goes, and he had one of those metal band-aid cans where he kept his wealth – a few coins he found. It was his treasure, and probably with the clothes on his back, the only thing he owned. Eventually the owner ran him out of the cafe, and that was the last I ever saw of him. A moment frozen in time.

So, is this where Faron came from? In truth, I cannot say. But I can say that even to this day, and whether the images I see are accurate, or have been clouded and changed with time, I still see him sitting there at the counter drinking his coffee, and hoping someone would buy him a meal, or the owner would show some charity and provide one. Where he went, who he was, for me is an unknown. And I suspect that he has passed away a very long time ago.

In the end, and again I cannot say if it is true or not, the impressions he left behind has stayed with me all these years. And those years and the incident took place almost 50 years in the past, yet from my perspective it seems that it may have been so. The results being that the impressions and influences he placed upon me that day led to a fictional story, a fictional character, and maybe this unknown individual, a derelict of society, unknowingly has reached out over time to touch me, as a writer, and you as the reader as you see the images created in your mind. (for those who may not have read this short story and are interested, here is the link: https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/)

Many times it isn’t until years later, when something similar happens to you, whether it’s up close and personal, or seeing it from a distance, you realize how this first incident has left its influences, its impressions upon you. You know, when you look at this word “impression”, we can see it used in so many ways. The footprints left in the mud and sand, the writing, or handprints pressed into wet concrete, the blocks with images pressed into clay or other substances, or images, words, scenes, sounds, and so much more that can be impressed into our very beings, our very souls. In all cases these impressions remain until the very substances they were pressed into change or disappear. And we can say the same thing about you and I, as those influences, those impressions leave their mark upon the person who is you and I. As to what is happening around us is seen, acted within, and felt, all becoming the tapestry that is you and me.

Again I close as I have opened this piece, asking you this question; what influences, what impressions have stayed with you and maybe even changed your life, or your direction? For you I cannot answer, yet somewhere down the roads of time, a stranger touched a boy, leaving images in his mind that eventually took on a life of its own to become a short story, which has reached out and touched many others, leaving more impressions reaching far beyond those humble beginnings so many years in the past.

* * *

We are well into January and the year 2015. If you are one prone to new year resolutions, how’s it going? Maybe instead you should sit down and set some realistic goals with markers along the way, so once you reach these markers you will know you’re progressing towards those goals and your personal success. Have a great week and be here next Saturday for the next post. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on January 17, 2015 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Relationship 101 Part 2

Personal Opinion and Thoughts:

Now that we’ve looked at the relationship triangle (And if you haven’t read part 1 of this series, I suggest you go back to last week’s post and read it first. This can be found in the sidebar under January 2015.), it is important to realize that too many marriages are failing, and failing within the first 5 years. (Again everything that I’m stating is from my personal  observations, what I’ve read on the subject, and thoughts. I’m not a scientist or a researcher, so there is nothing that I have that can either prove or disprove what I am stating here.) It makes one wonder why they – the couple – would enter into this, for lack of a better word, contract, only to fail early on. So were their expectations too high? Did they do something wrong within that time period (The obvious answer would be yes, but that’s not necessarily the truth or the answer.)? Is there something we can attribute these failures to, and if so, is there a way to turn this around? Or were they lazy, or selfish, or were there other problems or unexpected situations or developments that led to the breakup?

All good questions, and ones that many are trying to answer all of the time. And if these breakups were just isolated incidents then we probably could chalk it up to statistics. But, unfortunately this isn’t the case, and there’s actually been a term associated to the phenomena. These marriages are called, of all things, Starter Marriages. Once one has thought about the first set of questions then we can begin to add all sorts of others to the mix as we reach further out to see if we are dealing with outside influences that could be the culprit. Is it popular culture, or Hollywood with their views of relationships, is it what is viewed over the whole entertainment industry – music, word, TV, theatres including stage and film, or maybe what is discussed around the old water cooler during breaks? Could it be influences from their personal lives? Truthfully, all and any of these could and can have negative influences. Yet, if the relationship is strong, and both partners are committed to maintaining the strength it would seem that the marriage should remain and be strong. Yet, we see the failures, the ruins, and the devastation that is left behind, including the children who are living in broken homes. (And who knows what damage this does to all who are involved in these breakups.)

Personally, I feel that it is what transpires before the commitment to marry that is the real culprit. And if we want to be honest the reason for these failures later on in the relationship is us and how we approach dating the opposite sex, how we are built, and how it influences the outcome, leading to marriage when it shouldn’t, and the resulting failures when it does. If we go back to the beginnings, so to speak, the couple had no say in who they were to marry. Most were arranged marriages and because of this there was no way out. The families wouldn’t allow it, nor would the religions of the day. The idea of romantic love was a foreign concept. Was it a good way? Probably not, but it was the only way for centuries. (Of course, in some cultures the idea of a single male and only one female, is a foreign concept even today.)

Eventually, as the modern world changed, the idea of marrying for love, which slowly became the way of things in the Western culture and world, became the predominant reason to marry. Even here, early on, divorce was a rare thing. And whether the marriage was good, or bad, or abusive, it was nearly impossible to leave. But as time moved into the middle and late 20th century it became easier to leave what was considered a bad marriage or relationship, with Reno, Nevada leading the way, where it became known as the divorce capital of the world. It wasn’t long after this the laws were eased in the rest of this country, leading to the high divorce rate we are seeing.

Dating changed with the way Hollywood presented relationships, as well as the world of Rock and Roll. The idea of jumping into bed with the opposite sex after a single date became the norm, and the idea of celibacy until after one married ended with it being swept under the covers and completely forgotten. Now it appears, many times, that the marriage proposal is, “You’re going to have a what!?” Even with the modern birth control that is available, none of it will always prevent pregnancy or is 100% safe. And with all such drugs that try to help or fool the body, there are side effects, and trade offs. These contraceptives allow we humans to engage in procreation with the resulting pleasure, reducing the chance of adding to the population of the world. This has resulted in the increase in cervical cancers, STD’s, and unwanted pregnancies.

As in all things, there are trade offs to any of this and one of these trade offs has to do with what this pleasurable act can do to us, other than the obvious. It has been shown that the pheromones, which are produced during the act, pulls us closer to our partner, and making us want to be around them, to remain close, and, of course repeat that act. (Part of the reason for this lies in the fact that nature wants this to continue so there will be a continuation of the species,) If we were to refer back to that triangle one of the sides is communication. And if this and the other side of the triangle – trust – hasn’t been created, then jumping into bed with that date is nothing more than a small part of the third side of the triangle – intimacy, or lust for lack of a better word. And as I stated, if any side of this triangle is broken or hasn’t been created, then it collapses. (And 2 sides are already missing or broken so the outcome is already known.)

In this case the triangle is never built and so there can be no true relationship. It’s all about the sex, the closeness it produces, and many times the unexpected children from the result. The couple goes into marriage with nothing built that will support the relationship, and once the day-to-day grind becomes overwhelming, and the sex gets old, there’s nothing to hold the relationship together – nothing at all. This type of relationship is two-dimensional, with no depth, and has nothing to sustain it. So it ends. Leaving too many women having to raise children on their own, and leading these same women into less than ideal lifestyles because of the burden of raising a child without the necessary finances and support. And the sad fact is there are too many men who do not take the responsibility for that child they helped create. They run and do it all over again. It is probably one of the many reasons that overall women consider men irresponsible, and immature. And it’s one of the factors that place these same women in poverty, with little chance of changing their condition. And with the lack of a father figure in the child’s life there is a greater chance of seeing the same happening in their lives once they have grown. Let’s be honest for a moment, if there isn’t both parents in a child’s life they have no way to learn, from observation most of the time, what a healthy relationship is or could be. And if the door to the home becomes a revolving door where, one after another, dates come in and leave, then their belief is, “this is the way it is and should be”, perpetuating the lifestyle in their own lives once they enter the adult world.

So how would I see the development of a relationship? First off – and I know it’s hard to separate the physical from the rest, after all we are physical creatures – we have to leave the sex out of the relationship. Leave it out until the other two sides of the relationship triangle are well-developed, and well established. Because, simply stated, when the sex starts the communication stops. And if it wasn’t there in the first place, it surely won’t be there after the physical starts. If you haven’t built the relationship, used the building blocks that are there, before you spend that first time in bed together, then the odds are you never will.

You end up building your whole relationship on what each can give each other in bed, and with the resulting pheromones doing their job, you believe that your relationship is strong, so strong in fact that the two of you can become a married couple and be happy. Well, good luck on that one. In a marriage you learn things about the other person that you probably wished you never knew. There’s a lot of stress, misunderstanding, and strife that exists behind those closed doors. And it is this way because we are different. Not only because one is male, and the other female, but because we come from different backgrounds, different ways of viewing the world, and many times different cultures.

Marriage, and the relationship within, is a world of compromise where egos are to be left at the door. It can be a place of incredible strength, love, and protection, or it can be just the opposite – a battleground that could be more vicious than a heavyweight fight, or cage fighting, which seems so popular now. And when you add children to the mix, the stress levels increase, as well as the need for time together, which is taken away because of those children. And I will say this only once: There isn’t and will never be a place within a relationship where physical and mental abuse is right or should be tolerated. If it is there run, and run away as fast and as far as you can and never return. This is anything but healthy.

So, develop those skills, develop the foundation in your relationship. And if, in the end, it doesn’t work because the two of you weren’t right for each other, then it can be ended before marriage, before children are in the picture. And by doing it this way eventually the right one will be there and the growing relationship, and the resulting marriage should remain for a life time. But there is one admonishment that must be stated here and it is this: For the relationship to last a lifetime one cannot become lazy and just let the days pass. A relationship requires work, compromise, and change. Each willing to compromise and work with the other to keep the relationship healthy and growing. You’ve heard said by many couples, “We thought the love we had at the beginning was great, but compared to where it is now, these so many years later, makes that beginning love seem more like puppy love, and the depth that it now is so much greater than we ever thought it could be.” Truthfully, isn’t this what we are all looking for in the end – a partner and friend to share our life journey with us.

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And there you have it, my personal views on relationships, the foundation from which strong relationships are based, and how it all should work. Whether it is an accurate view is unimportant. If this has gotten you to think about your personal relationships and see where they can be strengthened, then this 2-part post or series has done its job. Have a great week and I hope to see you here next Saturday – God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on January 10, 2015 at 6:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Relationship 101 Part 1

Personal Opinion and Thoughts:

I asked my wife if she had a suggestion for a post subject and she suggested that I write about relationships. In a way this brought a smile to me since I have always been a wallflower, an introvert, and one that has had very few relationships over the years that I’ve been here. Basically I’m a loner who has had no problem being that way. So it would appear that I would or should be the last person to write on this subject. To break briefly, I need to state that what is written below is based on the idea that there is at least a beginning relationship, where the two are interested in moving deeper, with the hope this fledgling relationship will blossom into something more. This is stated with the caveat that if lust is the only reason the two of you are together, then nothing written here will apply.

A little history here might be helpful. At one time (when I was still in my late teens, and maybe early twenties) I figured that I would purchase a house and find a spouse somewhere in my mid to late twenties, and go the way of most. But, alas, this was not to be the case at all. In fact by my mid-twenties I had no prospects, had rarely dated, and when I did, never more than once, and hadn’t earned enough, with my employment, to purchase a house. So from this information, again it would seem that I’m the last one to write on this subject.

When I was 32 I met my future wife and we began dating. At that time if you looked back you could have counted the times I had dated on one hand and still had fingers left. Leading up to this time I began to read about relationships and about the opposite sex. A couple of the books that come to mind is: Women, a Book for Men, and to confirm that the information would be as accurate as such a book could be, I read the other: Men, a Book for Women. When reading the one about men, I found, overall that it was pretty accurate, so I could assume (never a good thing to assume) that the other had to be close. It helped me understand much that I hadn’t a clue about before (as well as other books I read).

During the time of our early dating I learned that she had no personal self-confidence. I wondered why, and what was going on, and was it something from her past that had left her in this condition? As time went on I learned that she was an abused woman who had been abandoned by her abusing husband leaving her with 2 daughters from that marriage. This abuse was both physical and mental, and as she said to me, “If I wanted a slave I could have left things as they were.”

So, in a sense I became her psychologist as we talked the hours away, and slowly worked through her problems and issues to find the real person underneath. It was the first time I had ever encountered this situation and learned a lot, from our talks, leading me to understand much about it (spousal abuse). In the end she and I married and as she said, “She married her psychologist.” However or how much of this is true I don’t know, but we’ve had a strong relationship for 32 years now.

Anyway, as time moved on it got me to thinking about relationships and the fact that as we grow up we get our ideas from the main relationship that is around us, which is our parents. Most parents do not sit down and discuss what makes a relationship work or not work, and I suspect that in reality most don’t know. Either the relationship works, or it doesn’t is just about as far as it goes. I also know that knowledge is power. And what I mean by this is this: Until we have either the experience or knowledge about something it is easy to not understand what is happening around us. Leaving us unable to predict the obvious, and leaving us wondering what transpired when whatever it was we were trying to accomplish failed. And we find once we have the needed knowledge (or experience) we then can look back and see those obvious errors and mistakes.

So with this in mind I began to think about relationships and how they work. The problem with this is all relationships are complicated. There’s a lot that has to be factored in and understood. But, I thought, somewhere at the beginning of this there has to be something simple, something that is the foundation of all relationships, some point where it all builds from. And if any part of this foundation is broken, then whether it is immediate or happens later, the failure could be traced back to the breaking of this foundation. After all, a building will not remain standing once the foundation is compromised.

As I continued to think about it I considered the fire triangle as my example. The fire triangle consists of three sides (duh), each side labeled with fuel, oxygen, and heat. (Enough heat to cause ignition.) Break any side of this triangle and you no longer have fire. So could there be something similar that applies to relationships? Something that if broken would cause the relationship to collapse like the fire triangle? It was a good question, and when one watches a fire burn out of control it doesn’t appear that something so simple as that fire triangle is its foundation and that by breaking (or removing) one side would extinguish the same fire. Yet, when a fire is extinguished it is exactly what is happening. Remove the fuel and you have no fire, remove the air (oxygen) and you have no fire, remove the heat and you have no fire – just that simple.

I began to wonder if I could create a triangle that would be the foundation of relationships, and if any one side (like in the fire triangle) is removed would it be enough to lead to the failure of a relationship? Good question, and being the observer that I am I began to watch and think about this. There were things I continued to hear over and over again, and eventually I could see where these attributes were important, critically important to the health and longevity of a relationship, and leading me to the creation of my relationship triangle. This is what I consider the foundation of any and all relationships dealing with a male and female in marriage.

I’m sure that there are other ideas out there, but when I reveal this I want you to really think about it. And yes, like I stated at the beginning of this post, relationships are complicated. And part of the reason is because of the difference in the sexes, but it can also be attributed to the different environments that we all grew up in, the nature of emotions, the inexact nature of language, and even the way each and every one of us think. All of this and so much more factor into what becomes a strong and lifelong relationship.

When I reveal this, I’ll explain my reasoning behind this. And again, understand that this is the foundation, the place where everything inside of the relationship builds from, and when broken ends from, and like that fire triangle when together remains strong, but when broken will disappear and end. The three sides are: TRUST, COMMUNICATION, and INTIMACY. Break any side of this triangle and eventually the relationship ends – and it’s just that simple.

The first two almost immediately explains themselves, but it is easy to misinterpret that last one thinking only of the physical side. But you must remember that there’s so much more to intimacy than just sex. And again when you think about it, all three work in tandem to make that relationship remain alive and strong. Again, break any side of this triangle and the relationship will probably end. It may not be at that very moment when it happens, but unless changes are made it is over.

TRUST: This is probably the most critical of the three, and the most difficult to recover if broken. Again this side applies to everything inside a relationship, and I mean everything. It’s part of that comfort level that we feel, part of feeling safe, part of our belief in our partner, all of this is based on trust. And if broken, probably the most difficult to get back or recover.

COMMUNICATION: Ah yes, stop talking and listening (especially listening), and you’re done. This is something that must be done every day, and continued throughout your relationship. Become lazy, become one who doesn’t listen, or willing to discuss things, work out the issues and problems, then you’ve given up and as a result you no longer have a relationship. What you have are two people who have become strangers who happen to be in the same house, acting at being a couple, acting as if they are in a strong relationship, and that’s all. This must always be a two-way discussion with understanding on both sides, otherwise you are just going through the motions and this is as good as not communicating at all. (To be honest most of us have seen this type of relationship where it is only words passing between the couple and it ‘s obvious there’s no meaning to those words at all.)

INTIMACY: That knowing look across the room, that time spent on the couch close to each other and enjoying the moment, that time being physical, and yes especially that time afterwards where you talk or should be talking. All of this and so much more is the intimacy I’m speaking about here. It’s part of that comfort level, part of that anticipation because you know each other so well. It’s part of those times where you complete each other’s thoughts and sentences, all these things are a result of those years of intimacy of the closeness only a strong and healthy relationship can create. It affects the couple on all levels; spiritual, mental, and physical. (And if you don’t have it then maybe it’s time to go back and find out why.)

Understand that through the years each one of the three sides will hold different importance, different strengths, but break any of them, any of the three sides at all, and your relationship is in trouble. And in all cases recovering those broken sides can be almost impossible, and if recovered then broken a second time will most likely end the relationship. With no chance at all for understanding and forgiveness, it’s really over, and it is probably time to move on. (Remember this; if one moves on there is a greater chance of repeating the same mistakes in a second relationship, with it ending in failure also. We seem to follow what we’ve done in the past without analyzing the reasons for our past failures.)

It’s easy to dismiss this triangle as too easy. Since any of us who are either in a relationship, have left one, or is anticipating one, believe there has to be more to it. And yes there is. Yet when one views that newly completed building, the highrise, skyscraper, or home, one doesn’t necessarily consider the foundation as the most important part of the building. It is probably the most simple part yet, if done wrong what is built upon it will fail before its time. And as in the fire triangle and now this relationship triangle so much more can come of it, and at the same time simply breaking one of the sides ends it.

For those who are in a relationship at this moment, where does the health of it sit? Is your relationship triangle strong, or has one of the sides been fractured? And if so, are you willing to fix it? It is something only you and the other in the relationship can answer.

* * *

Next week we move on to part 2, and a continuation of this discussion on relationships. Remember all of us are guilty of failing to recognize failures within our personal relationships. We all have our own personal blinders, and because of this and our personal history we can miss the obvious. Have a great week, and may you return next week for the final post, for now, on relationships. God Bless! (fdbrant)

 

Published in: on January 3, 2015 at 8:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Darkness of the Soul

Many times it appears that ones who show artistic talent are battling a dark side that can overwhelm, and has led many to suicide. In the recent past Robin Williams is a prime example. And while I am sure that there has been much written about this, I have my own thoughts, since I write and create fiction, making me one of this extended family. I wonder if it is the darkness that brings out that creativity, or the looking deep inside that leads one to withdraw allowing the dark thoughts to overwhelm. Yet on the outside appearing to be normal, to continue to create, to show the world that all is well, when in fact it is not.

Another of these individuals who came to mind is Thomas Kinkade, the “Painter of Light”, as he was known. His paintings demonstrating a talent to always show light. Yet, it is now known that he lived in darkness, and eventually died in that darkness. Were these paintings his cry for help? Were they a way for him to overcome that seeming impenetrable darkness that lay deep inside of him? In truth none of us will ever know since these and other questions can never be answered – will never be answered.

I guess in many ways that for each and every one of these individuals the answers would be different, yet at the same time, similar. There are many out in this world that suffer from depression, who do not have the talents of the ones mentioned above. But does this make it any less tragic? Still, when we lose such as these many, because of the darkness within their souls, is there any less of an impact because they were unknown other than to their families and friends? I personally say no. If any cannot live a full life, live up to what they can accomplish, then we all lose. Both of the individuals named above have a body of work left behind. Yet, for the many unknown who have perished because of this darkness, because of their tortured souls, they too have left a legacy. It may be unknown, but that doesn’t make it less important.

If one hasn’t traveled to this darkness, then one can never understand. Probably one of the most profound statements ever made, and used so often that it has become common place, is, “Walk a mile in my shoes”. This can be so shallow that it will be ignored, or so deep that it can leave one breathless. Until one actually walks as another, one will never understand what an individual has lived or is living. I know personally that I have seen that darkness, but not to the level of the ones above. It can be a place where creativity lies, or a place where one cannot escape. In all cases it is a place not to dwell for very long. If you do, it can become a place to lose oneself to the point of never finding the way back out.

It is a dangerous walk teetering on the abyss, always close to jumping or falling in, trying to find that inspiration, that next creativity that lies there. It is a place where the subconscious is king, and the real world is far away – a fantasy for want of a better word. A place where one can touch God, or find the polar opposite in the devil. It is all there, and the creativity that lies there draws one back. But like anything, it can become addicting leading one to fall, leading one to go ever deeper into that darkness, looking for a personal truth or insight.

Yet, this is no more than a trap, a place that we are meant to only touch briefly. It is not a place to stay. For here lies only destruction for all of the inspiration that lies hidden here. Yet, like any trap, it can continue to draw one further in until there is no way out except the route so many take. There is power here, as is demonstrated in the paintings, the music, the arts, but there is that other side that can and does bring an end to those who dare enter this realm of darkness. Like a siren’s call it draws one ever deeper, until the door closes forever, and we who live outside of this world are shocked when we learn that the one we least expect takes their life. Leaving all of us with questions forever unanswered, wondering what drove them to this fate.

Then comes the thoughts, “if only, if only they reached out, let someone know. Maybe, just maybe, this tragedy could have been prevented.” But like so many things in life, it is only after the tragedy that we learn. In the news and in sports we are learning of the weaknesses of our sports heroes and like those artists they too have fallen for the darkness of the soul. For not only is it a place of inspiration, but a place where one can find strength to carry on, to become better. So for them it too is a trap, and one where others suffer because of them. Yet, for them also, the draw is too strong to ignore or to avoid. If only they could remain a little longer, then that success they are reaching for could be grabbed like that brass ring on the merry-go-round. And this applies to anything where we strive to reach the top where we must reach beyond ourselves to find those answers.

It’s not that the soul is a place of darkness, but it can be. It is all things and this darkness is only one aspect of the many. We’ve seen the good when people, pushed beyond their physical abilities, reach out and help in impossible circumstances and succeed beyond what one is capable of performing. The pushing of the human body and mind in times of emergencies that normally would be impossible. And when these unlikely heroes are asked how, they have no answers only that somehow they did.

Again, because of the power that lies here this place can draw one in, leaving them in awe as to what is here. And again, because of who we are, this place can become an addiction, forever drawing us back, until finding ourselves in this darkness that continues to become darker, leaving no known way out until the only way out seems to be death. And to the many who go this route it seems to bring relief. But for the rest of us it leaves only unanswered questions.

* * *

We, all of us, are islands upon ourselves. And no one can truly walk our path. So through the dimness of speech and thought we try to understand others – sometimes successful and other times not. So when these tragedies do happen it’s easy to ask why, and then go on with our own lives. Because if we want to be honest, what has happened is in the past and we cannot change it, and it becomes part of our personal history. Each and every day we add to our personal tapestry and even reading the different posts leaves its own personal thread in that tapestry which is you. Have a great week and may you be able to return next week to read what will be waiting patiently for you – God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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