Sixty Years On

Now available in July, two new novels: Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel. Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. Release date was yesterday, July 14, 2017. Blurb and information can be found on my website (found at the bottom of this page).

The Harsh Lands is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or in the EPub format (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1) and Desperate to Survive: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1) are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition. Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback (ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6) Kindle (ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3) and Epub (978-1-946179-05-0).

* * *

I picked this title from the title of a song by Elton John that he sang back in the seventies. I have to admit that I always liked it. Still in many ways what it reflects is a view of when one reaches those older years. And in my case I definitely qualify. If any of you out there haven’t heard the song here’s the link to one of the versions from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcafVVUxqk

In a sense what one takes away from this song will be as a result of who and where you are personally. For me it has to do with the title referring to sixty years plus, which is where I am, since I’ll turn sixty eight this year. Others may think about the fact that it seems that every generation have their wars to fight, others who want to see guns disappear will see a possible future where they don’t exist. And still others might focus on the religious aspect, and because of this none of us would agree what this song is about – and that’s what keeps life interesting.

What I am writing here will be through my eyes as I’ve viewed events, and marked time. And if we truly think about it for all of us it is this way. What is being witnessed throughout our lives will always be colored by who we are, what our experiences have been, our heredity, the influences that are around us, and where we are in our own timeline. Nothing we see is what it truly is. It cannot be any other way since we view all things from our inner selves, and our personal senses.

For example, in my case I’m partially colorblind. That means that certain colors do not exist for me and when you remove those colors what I see instead is the color that would be created if that missing color didn’t exist. To explain what I mean, here is what would happen. If you remove red from purple the color you would end up with is blue. And we can say the same thing with brown. Since red is the most common colorblind color then if we remove red from brown we get green. So this would mean that to any of us with that particular color blindness trait those other colors wouldn’t exist, i.e. brown and purple.

By the way, back when you were a kid, and for me that’s a long time ago, did you ever try to mix all the colors with your crayons or colored pencils to get white? Logically you’d think it would work since sunlight is white and we were shown and told that it is created from all the colors.  And by using a prism they prove it. Yet when we mix those colors on a sheet of paper we end up with black – one of those mysteries of life I guess.

Memory or memories can be tricky things. It has been shown that what we remember isn’t necessarily what really happened. Time and distance has changed those memories into something different, yet we believe what we see in our minds is correct. There have been a number of experiments done over the years that prove that memories can be implanted and have no basis in reality. So when I look back on my memories I find that with some there are warm nostalgic feelings that can lead me to smile, while others I’d sooner forget. Are they accurate, I believe so, but there’s no way for me to prove them to be so. If we think about this too hard it can leave us on shaky ground with nothing firm to stand upon. It comes down to do we trust or not trust our personal memories. Personally I’d rather trust them until they are proven to be wrong.

So what’s your earliest memory? Mine, and I’d guess I had to be around three at the time, has to do with a family outing to an observatory, standing on the steps leading up to the entrance. That’s it, nothing about going inside, or about the trip to and from, or any other aspect. There must have been something about that one location that created this permanent memory.

Other memories? Well, there’s the one where we went out to look at property when I was six. We turned a corner and everything to the west fell away and suddenly it was like I could see forever. As a boy scout taking that ninety mile hike we did as a troop, graduating from high school, (fifty years ago) the night I left home on the way to a war zone as a soldier, wild fires, where eventually one did destroy our homes, marrying the woman I love, who brought two daughters into my life and our family, being there for the birth of our sons, and now after all these years going to their weddings. As you can see most of these memories are ordinary and as such could belong to anyone. Yet, each and every one makes me who I am, as the ones you have make you who you are.

Local and beyond memories? The Kennedy assassination when I was in high school, the space race and landing on the moon, an airliner crash that almost hit an elementary school, and further back and personal, a military fighter crashing on the property and almost hitting our home, 9-11-2001, and the resulting wars that we still face today, terrorism and the many tragic losses from these extremists, and I guess I can throw in the mine rescue. In this mix I can add the resignation of a president and vice-president, and the first time we had a president who came to office unelected. And all of these form the backdrop of my and our lives influencing how we see and view our world.

The common factor in all of this is time. And for all of us time is the limiting factor. We are only given so much of it before we die. And it’s surprising how fast that time approaches. It seems like yesterday when I graduated from school and while I was in school it seemed like it was forever. Now fifty years later I’m returning from that reunion celebrating a half century since graduating. Yeah this means I’ve been out of school much longer than I was in, and that time between has more than flown – leaving me to wonder what happened

It is here at this time in one’s life that they realize that much of their lives are over, and whatever dreams and goals one had are no longer obtainable. It is sobering when one realizes that all the chances are pretty much used up, and are part of your past. Still I can say that once I retired that it allowed me one more chance at one of those life goals, and here it is right before you. I always had a desire to write, and in truth I never knew if I could be successful or not. I guess, in the end, I can say yes. When I seriously began to write, (after retiring) I set goals, whether I’d ever reach them I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know if I could write a book or novel and finish it. Yet, in the end, I did reach those goals, surpassed them, reset those goals and will reach and possibly surpass those new ones.

Still, time is piling up, burying me under that weight, telling me that soon those creative juices will probably dry up. So next year as I work on two new novels,  they may be my last. Still I’m happy with the results of my writing. In the end I’ll have written twelve novels, plus one of short stories that I’ve presented over the years on this blog. And when I do look back on my life I see many twists and turns, dead ends, failures, and a few successes now and then. Still overall I have my health – more or less – and a loving family. I believe in God and would love to see a peaceful world. Still, I’m realistic enough to know that this will probably never happen. It still doesn’t mean that I hope to be wrong. We are still a world of tribes and have that tribe mentality. And until that changes nothing ever will.

In conclusion, all I can say is to keep reaching. Keep yourself active mentally and physically. Set those goals, and reach for them. If you don’t make them, at least you tried, and in a sense that’s the bottom line isn’t it. It has been said many many times, it’s the journey, the road you travel. Even though that road will have many unexpected turns, dead ends, and branches that will completely change your life and direction, you only fail when you give up. And unlike the games we play we cannot go back and start a level again. In life we get one chance, and it matters not whether you have the experience to make an educated decision, we must decide and then live by where that decision sends us.Whether my novels become more than a hobby only time will tell. Still I’m happy to have traveled down those many roads, and I love following my fictitious characters through their lives, and must admit that I’ve enjoyed their life stories and journeys as they unfolded. And if I want to admit to it I think I would like to meet many of them personally. Of course this is impossible since they’ve never lived except in my mind and on the pages of those books – still, they are real to me. Remember –

Don’t be afraid to reach high and to seek the impossible. Who knows, you may be the one who makes the impossible possible. God Bless! Have a great week, and learn from all the mistakes we all have a tendency to make. It is only then that we grow. (http://www.fdbrant.com)

 

Advertisements

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!

Published in: on March 25, 2017 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

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  
Tags: , , ,

Fiction Verses Reality

As I was editing one of my future posts, which deals with part of a fictional story, I realized that for a story to work that it must mirror reality. And what I’m referring to here is what our experience tells us about how it all works – cause and effect, if – then, and the such. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Stranger than fiction”; meaning that something in real life was beyond the imagination of the many writers out there and whatever the incident one would never have expected it to happen in real life, in the real world.

As I thought about this I realized, (not that I haven’t talked about this before in past posts) that whatever the fictional world the writer creates, it is the actors or characters who must be consistent in what and who they are. The worlds may be of fantasy, of a future utopia, apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or so many other fictional creations that don’t include the physical or real world as we know it. Again these worlds are simply the places in time and have a physical reality that the fictional people live out their fictional lives. And while it may be fantastical to us, for the ones living in these worlds it is the normal day-to-day stuff. And if we strip away the fancy dressing, the fictional worlds and societies, what do we find but ordinary people living their lives and trying to survive. Of course most of the boring stuff has been stripped away with only the situation that has been brought forth presenting us with the conflict that drives the story.

The people – especially the protagonists and antagonists must mirror reality. And here I mean they must mirror us, the ones who live in this physical realm. They must reflect, act, and react like living breathing human beings whether their form is like us or completely strange. I think one of the most difficult parts of being a writer of fiction is when one creates creatures that have never existed, be it in horror, science fiction, fantasy, or any of the many other genres where we have this freedom, is to make them appear real thinking beings, reacting as they should within the limits of their form. From our imaginations we must create a history, the conditions that drive these fictional cultures to become advanced enough to rise above the animals, build societies, and then act and interact with us, as readers, on a level where we can empathize with them and what we are reading. And all of it must be seamless and natural revealing this history and culture through the actions and reactions of these fictional creatures, worlds, and environments.

Yet, even here when this is done, deep down, and while the writer keeps it consistent within this world of aliens, we can still see us. All of us are prisoners of our culture. Unless you have spent time in another, then it is easy to overlook the fact that others, because of their culture, look at a situation or the world differently. In fact the language you speak has determined the way you even think. When one learns a foreign language it forces one to begin to think in that language. And I’ve been told that once you no longer have to translate that foreign language into your own, at that moment, you have made it your own. And it has been said the more languages you can speak the smarter you become. And it seems to be so. Still it could be because the ones who have done this have a higher intelligence and it becomes obvious when they speak, or maybe it really does. So by learning that language you really are expanding yourself beyond your culture, and the way you have always viewed the world.

So when these strange creatures are created, in a sense, it is like moving to a new country where one must learn to think, act, and interact like the locals. Still, and overall, while we are not logical creatures, since we deal with emotion, inexact thought, and biology, and because of this it is a wonder that we have any consistency at all. We all face fear, hate, jealousy, love, dislike, pain, heat and cold, and so many other things. All of this leads to a complicated creature. And if we really think about it we see much of the same reactions from our animals. So for us on this planet it appears to be something that is consistent among all of us.

When considering this, how, with so many complicated parts being involved, can we be consistent? It has been stated that it’s because of the combination of heredity and environment. Heredity determines the tendencies we are born with, and environment, or the way we are raised, will be the way we will act and react to those tendencies. With this understanding we now can begin to create our fictional characters, and why they, in the end, will be no more than mirror images or reflections of us.

In the beginning when a character is created, (at least in my case) much of what he or she is, is an unknown. For example in my novel, A Taste of History Past, book 3 in the Survival Series, I saw Kal standing in the afternoon in the middle of either fields or meadows trying to come to some decision about what was bothering him. Now if we think about it, this is consistent with any of us. Not necessarily the location, but going somewhere quiet and trying to solve some important issue that requires a quiet place so we can concentrate fully on the problem or issue. So this character shows a trait we are quite familiar with. Obviously, in this case since it is the 3rd book in the series the world he lives has existed and did not need to be created. Yet, this isn’t entirely true this time. Only the world is the same.

He exists a long time in the future from where book 2, Desperate to Survive ends. So in truth this required bringing the people of this world forward in time, including any advances, changes in culture, and their history through their myths and legends. Still when one looks at the story overall, and the players within this story, we can find parallels to our world, our time, and if we want to, look back to any time of our own world history. These fictional stories and the players within them are no different from any at any moment in time, in any culture that exists, have existed, or will exist on this world. No, the story or this novel I’ve used for an example, may not reflect any real event, but instead it reflects the tendencies that make us, us.

It is this consistency that draws us in, that allows us to anticipate what may be happening in the future of that fictional story, and to feel comfortable with the actors. We can see ourselves in them, and as a result feel empathy towards them. Making us want to cheer them on, to warn them when we, as the readers, can see things that are unknown to them. And maybe at times we can see some of our faults as we follow the antagonists, and hope that in the end they might be redeemed. Realizing that most of the time they don’t want to be redeemed and enjoy their power over others, (Does this sound familiar?) and their abilities to fool the regular folk. Psychopaths, and sociopaths immediately come to mind. For whatever the reason, their flaws are so severe that they enjoy being who they are, and what they can do against society and the individual.

And if one thing is consistent in any novel out there is this parallel world between reality and fiction. They go hand-in-hand to create these fictional worlds that we want to return to often. We want to see us in those stories. We want to watch the people in those stories grow, become more than they were at the beginning. We want to see them triumph in the end. And maybe this is the one true difference. In our own lives we have no guarantees that once our lives are over that we’ve accomplished our goals, or triumphed over our adversaries. Still in the end, and as it has been said too many times, it is the journey, what we learn and gain as time moves by us much too fast that will become our legacy. And it may be for some forgotten act that will mark who we were and how we will be remembered.

It is those failures that we learn from the most. But, a failure only remains a failure if we don’t continue to try. And every time we overcome those failures we gain. What we gain is up to us. And while those novels are static, meaning that every time you pick it up to read it again, the story remains the same with our hero or heroes winning in the end, our lives are not that way. So, in a sense, these protagonists can be someone we look up to. Someone who can give us the confidence that maybe in our own lives we can overcome those personal obstacles, learn from our mistakes, and reach our goals. Our lives only become static once we are no more. It is only then that there is no present, our past is written, and our futures are no more.

In conclusion, once again, as we read the words on the page, watching them disappear into the images within our minds, we can live, for a short time, the lives of these fictional people. People who only live within the pages of these novels. And have only become alive because of the imagination of a writer and you the reader. Yet, it is his or her observation of the real world that allows these fictional characters to live, and for us to love and hate them. And it is these fictional worlds where we see us thusly bridging the gap between the worlds of fiction and our world of reality. And many times when we have finished those novels we take a moment to reflect what was there, leaving us at times thinking about what was said, and other times leaving us with a sense of wonder. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

A Personal Tragedy

Before beginning this week’s post I’d like the mention that the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, has been released to Amazon Scout. Here readers have a chance to read an excerpt and rate the story. If enough are positive then Amazon will publish it under their own label. Here is the link, if any are interested please check it out. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/QINQQURWHJS3

With this title, A Personal Tragedy, one would think that it refers to something that happened to me personally, but this tragedy was something I witnessed which took place over a period of time. At the time of the incident and what followed I worked in a small rural community. In these places people have a tendency to know each other, and if you are one who works in one of the businesses one has a chance to meet everyone. It isn’t unusual to find unlocked doors, and people always willing to help others in the community. In a sense my book “The Woman in the Snow” reflects this kind of committment that is common in these communities.

If we want to be honest, somewhere in our lifetime we will either be a part of a tragedy, be a witness to one, or know someone who had a tragic incident in their own lives. Many times these tragedies involve death bringing to us the truth that none of us get out of this world alive. I know as a child I thought it would be nice to know when one would die, after all it did seem like it was important. With as much life behind me as I’ve had (and it’s been said many times, time is precious) I now disagree. If we know when, we would never accomplish what we do in our lives with that final date staying in the forefront and dominating our thoughts.

Overall the community had a mix of people, with many living here being retired. Others commuted to work into the larger communities to the west, and a few actually worked the land. This meant we have farmers, ranchers, young families, older families, many singles, and retirees. Very similar to any community be it large or small. Mostly everybody got along. Still in such a setting there were issues, and many times such issues were large enough to polarize the community. Still overall it was no different than any of the small communities (or large ones) that exist in this country.

For a period of time we even had a small local newspaper, but eventually it disappeared and is no more. If one was driving the road that went through the main part of town, the town would be easy to miss. It had gates to many of the ranches, and if you were driving east the first building that would mark that you might be entering a rural community was the fire department – a simple volunteer unit. Then for a short time there would be nothing. The next one to show would be the Post Office followed by a combination restaurant and grocery store, and across from this would be a state fire station. Once past these you would be heading out of town and on to whatever your destination would be. In others words, if you blinked you’d miss it completely.

Yet, if you had turned off onto the one main road back into the community you would find a library, the local school and the many roads that led to where most lived. It was back in this area where the tragedy took place. For any of us who are from such areas there really is much that happens that is never heard about outside of the community. That doesn’t mean it has less of an impact or doesn’t influence those who are involved, because it does. It is no more or no less important for any who happen to live in the largest cities in this nation where such could be reported.

Part of the draw for those who are looking for more than cities provide is the freedom and openess of the lands. It, over all, is a harder lifestyle, and not all can live it. Many need to be surrounded by people to feel safe and secure while others feel less people the better. I have seen some who have moved into these rural communities from the cities and only after a few months run screaming back to the crowds, swearing they’d never return.

A young family lived back on one of the dirt roads and their son was out riding the family’s ATV, after receiving permission to do so. As most kids who have something powerful at their control he was going too fast down the dirt road he was traveling and ran into another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. It killed him and threw the family into turmoil, which is no surprise. After all it is said, and for good reason, “No parent should outlive their child”.

Statistics say that the loss of a child can lead to the breakup of the parents. And unfortunately it did in this case. I was friends with both of them and shared in their tragedy. They tried to keep it together but the “what if’s”, the blame game, and so many other factors that were never revealed eventually led to their breakup. In many ways in this world of failed marriages no one would look at another one and consider the whys. “Just move on”, would be stated. “After all there are many out there who would love to share your life.”

Maybe so, but if this tragedy ended here, then maybe we could say, after the healing, if such is possible, that they moved on and found others to replace their loss. Still in this situation such didn’t take place. As far as the woman she eventually left the community and nothing was ever heard from her again.

And before I continue I have to mention another similar tragedy that happened in the same community. In this case the child was an adult and actually had been in the Navy. Driving home one night he crashed his vehicle and died from the injuries. The mother had difficulty dealing with the tragedy, which is completely understandable. Eventually the area brought too many bad memories and she moved away only to continue to fight the demons she faced. Any of us who face similar situations may try and find such a solution. The major problem with this is the fact we cannot run away from us. It is we who carry the emotions, the history, the memories, and a change of location will not change what is part of us. Until we can learn to deal with ourselves we will not escape our situation or problems.

Back to the ones we are following: Eventually he moved away but his life turned self-destructive. From a promising future, to the loss of his son, to the break up of his marriage, it all left scars he couldn’t cope with. He changed jobs, became involved with a series of flings, and somewhere along his personal timeline couldn’t deal with what happened and took his own life. In a sense this enlarged the original tragedy.

So they went from a loving family and in a short period of time back to only one with death taking two of them. Could any of this been prevented? I’m sure the two of them asked themselves that too many times to count when they learned of the death of their son. And I’m sure the blame game became prominent. Still the point we all must face is that our lives can change in an instant. And from that point on what we face and the direction of our lives is forever changed. Yes we can look back and wish and hope that things could be different but none of us can go back and change the past.

All of us are stuck with what we have in our present, and if it wasn’t the direction we had planned, or had set goals to reach, then we must adjust or like him give up and die. We are only given one chance, one life to live. And many times what we are given is difficult, and at times seems impossible. And while we may never face such a tragedy in our lives, that doesn’t mean we won’t face some type of hardship. All of us have setbacks, and all of us have unexpected events that change us forever. In the end it is what we do with these events that will define who we are. God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

Time Shared, Time Lost

Once again before I present this year’s Christmas story, and as I have done all month, I’m linking back to past stories. This one is from 2014. And I’ll be presenting two links. One for the story titled, And It Came To Pass, and the second a personal wish for this time of year, and of course this was for 2014. If this is the first time here and you are interested in reading the other Christmas stories you can find them in the sidebar on the right under December 2015. Each link is presented at the beginning of the post for that week: https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/and-it-came-to-pass/ , https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/a-christmas-wish/

In my short stories of Christmas I try to present different views, lives, and directions instead of the traditional “feel good” story. Because not all have what we have or will this season go as planned or desired. These stories are written to remind us that others may be in situations that do not allow them to appreciate or enjoy what this season represents. And many times because we have loving families and friends it is easy to overlook these other situations or worlds. And we forget how fragile our way of life is, and because of this have a tendency to take it for granted. When we do these things it can trivialize what we truly have and our personal blessings.

This year’s Christmas story is from the perspective of a five-year old. In a way it is funny for me to try to see the world from one so young. After all it was sixty-one years ago when I was five. Could I have used grandchildren for inspiration? No not really as the two we have are grown, and are adults. When they were young we had no contact with them since our daughter and her husband lived across the country from us. Yet, is this not part of writing? As a writer putting one’s self in the shoes of your characters and seeing the world from their perspective? So I guess the obvious question would be: What do you remember of that time in your own life, unless, of course you are five. And for your enjoyment is, Time Shared, Time lost:

A few months ago she had turned five. Five! Who’d have thought she’d be so big? Not her for sure. And while it had been a great birthday party with many of her friends, in the end, the day went too fast and he didn’t show up. Carie looked up at the big calendar. While she had learned to count, it was still hard to do. Still with mama’s help she knew that Christmas was only a few days away. And she could feel the excitement building inside. She really hoped she had been good enough to get those wonderful presents from Santa Claus. Yet, if she wanted to be honest with herself, things hadn’t been going well. And she knew that while she had tried to be good all the time, well, sometimes things just seemed to go wrong.

She had been four when all had changed. She remembered daddy all full of energy and getting ready to leave on one of his trips. She always missed him when he took those trips. Still with what they had they could talk over the computer, (such a big word) and she could see him like he was on TV, which helped keep the loneliness away. She could tell that mama didn’t like to see him go either, but it had been explained to her that this was part of his job. It was a job that took him away from them much too much. In a sense she hated that job. After all he needed to be here for her, and especially mama. She could see how much mama needed daddy even though much of what they talked about she didn’t understand. All they would say to her was “Someday you’ll understand”. Well, she’d really like to understand now. No, not those grownup things she’d overhear now and then, but “why”? Why wasn’t he here? Why things had changed and they were no longer living in that nice house with the really big yard. And why had most of the nice things gone away? And mostly why was mama sad most of the time?

She had to admit that she was too. She had tried to help, but being so young, (she’d heard that word a lot) she didn’t know what to do. So at times she’d crawl into mama’s lap and hold on tight. Many times she’d fall asleep because it was so comforting and nice there. And she had to admit she felt safe there too. Maybe mama felt safe too when they were together this way. Looking out the window she could see the snow beginning to fall. The house, part of a duplex she had been told – whatever that was, was cold. Not freezing, but one had to wear jackets in the house. Jackets in the house, really, she always thought they were for when she went outside. She had complained, but mama had explained they didn’t have the money to be able to keep it as warm as they would like. So blankets and heavy clothing became the rule. It made it difficult when one had to really go – so many layers that had to be removed. Still one learned not to wait too long, reducing those embarrassing accidents.

She sighed wishing for some hot chocolate with marshmallows, but it was something she rarely had now – again, that money thing. “Would you like to go out and play in the snow?”

Carie hadn’t realized that mama was standing behind her watching her look out the window. Yes it would be fun, but they had moved here only a short time ago and her friends were far away and she hadn’t made any new ones yet. She shook her head, while smiling. “No . . . no, I’m good.”

“If you change your mind let me know, okay?”

She had to admit it was tempting. It was always fun to go out and make snow angels, to catch snowflakes on one’s tongue, to try to build snowmen, but there had always been a warm house to go back to once one became cold. She was cold enough here inside. So she continued to look out and imagine how it would be. She heard her mother withdraw, and soon heard her doing something in the kitchen. The kitchen was something else that had gotten smaller as well as her bedroom and every room in this house. And there were times they could hear their neighbors through the walls. When she first heard them she was surprised, but now she was used to it. Part of the changes since daddy hadn’t come home, hadn’t come back to them.

She remembered the day when a stranger showed up at the door and could sense the dread from mama. Mama opened the door, and after a brief conversation with the stranger slowly closed the door, stood there with her head against it, and began to cry. She didn’t understand. What had the stranger done to do this to mama? She had gone up to her and grabbed her leg trying to get her attention, but it hadn’t worked. It was later she learned that the plane daddy had been flying had disappeared, and no one had been able to find it so far. If something wasn’t found soon, the searches would be called off. And nobody knew if he had survived the crash or not. So daddy was considered lost. She wondered how a grownup could be lost. It made no sense to her. Maybe it was like when they would be driving around and mama would tell daddy to ask for directions and daddy would say while smiling, “I’m okay, we’re not lost”.

That first Christmas after daddy “becoming lost” had been really really sad and hard for both of them. But another was approaching and while she hoped for some really nice things what she wanted was for mama not to be sad, and for daddy to come home to the two of them. She knew that both of them had prayed for that to happen last Christmas. Yet here they were alone with each other. Not that she wasn’t close to mama, it was, just that they seemed, well, not whole, not complete, (another of those big words that she thought she understood). Like part of them was missing or broken and couldn’t be fixed. She needed daddy, and she knew in her heart that mama did even more. So once again every night with her prayers she asked God to bring daddy home to them so they could be fixed, and be happy once again. Yet, for all of her prayers there had only been silence.

She wondered if it was her fault. Maybe she wasn’t asking right. Or maybe she had unknowingly done something wrong. She didn’t know, and she didn’t have any answers. So she continued to pray at night before climbing into bed hoping God, as busy as he must be, would hear her desperate prayers and answer them. It would be so nice, so wonderful to see him come back through their front door once again. She then worried, because they were no longer where they used to live that if daddy did come back he’d not know where they were. So she added that to her prayers that when God answered her prayers God would lead daddy back to them.

The days moved past faster than she expected and suddenly it was Christmas Eve. She and mama went to visit her grandparents, and while there she saw many of her aunts and uncles, with her cousins. She had to admit she didn’t know anything about family relationships, or how she was a part of this boisterous, (Even though she wasn’t sure if she really knew what that word meant.) group of people. Still the house was warm, the food great, and the games she and her cousins played made the time go fast. And yes before they left everyone had a gift to open. Most of the time, she had to admit, she was disappointed with what she got from her grandparents. It was always clothes or something similar. What she really wanted was a toy or something she could play with. At least she had fun with others around her age. Yeah there were older cousins, and she had to admit that many times they could be bossy and mean. Eventually it was time to go home. And even though she didn’t want to say or think it she was tired.

Somewhere during the drive home, as she stared out the windshield, (She couldn’t see over the front of the car so she was always looking up into the sky.) watching the falling snow, hearing the steady sound of the motor, and the warmth of the car, she fell asleep. She really hadn’t wanted to but it wasn’t the first time, and she doubted it would be the last. In the distance she felt the car stop, and the motor stopped, leaving only silence. Still half asleep she felt the cold air when mama opened the door and immediately closed it. She heard mama as she crunched through the snow, coming around to her side of the car, and felt herself being lifted by loving arms. Drowsily she smiled at the loving face looking down at her and put her arms around her. The next thing she remembered was mama undressing her and putting her in her night-clothes. She was asked if she needed to go to the bathroom. She shook her head, and felt herself being put into her bed. She was barely awake. Still she remembered the covers being drawn over her and once again smiled. Christmas was tomorrow, and that was all she remembered as she fell into a deep sleep. Yes she did remember mama saying, “Sweet dreams”, before leaving her room, and that was it.

Sometimes, close to morning, she’d have to get up and go to the bathroom. This was one of those times. Maybe she should have gone before bed. But she had been so comfortable, so tired, it just seemed like too much effort. So now she paid for it. More asleep than awake she took care of business and headed back to her room, and her warm bed. On the way she thought she heard voices from mama’s room, but knew that now and then mama watched TV, and figured it must be what she was hearing. Back in her room she glanced outside and it was still dark. She shrugged, climbed back into the warm bed, and was asleep almost instantly – whatever she heard forgotten. Morning, and Christmas wasn’t too far off, but for now sleep was more important. She burrowed deeper under those covers feeling the warmth and comfort. She smiled in her dreams and anticipation of what waited for her under the tree, even though it was a small one.

Suddenly she was awake and excitement filled her. She glanced out the window and could see the gray of dawn and knew it was Christmas morning. She threw off the covers and immediately regretted it as she shivered from the cold. At least the pajamas had footsies so her feet wouldn’t get cold. She grabbed her jacket, and quietly, since she figured mama had to be still asleep – what’s with that really – snuck out to the living room where the tree was. “After all”, she asked herself, “it’s Christmas and who can sleep on such an important morning?” She knew she could go look, and she would, of course, pick up the brightly wrapped gifts and see if she could guess what was inside, but knew she would have to wait until mama came out to join her. The waiting seemed like a lifetime as those gifts begged to be opened, begged to become hers.

She heard the coffee maker start and smelled the wonderful smell of fresh coffee being brewed. She had begged, at one time, to taste coffee, and like the vanilla flavoring which smelled so good, she learned that it didn’t taste anything like it smelled. This was something she’d never understand. How could it be that way? Didn’t the way something smelled mean that how it should taste? Anyway, this meant that shortly mama should be getting up and they could open these wonderful gifts together. She glanced out the front window as it became light enough to see outside, and could see that another layer of fresh snow had been added and there were no tracks in it making the world look new.

She turned in anticipation when she heard movement coming from mama’s room and went over to sit on the couch eager to get on to the next part of this wonderful morning. And to her unbelieving eyes, and such a wonderful gift and surprise, daddy walked out the bedroom with a huge smile. “Hello munchkin”. He held out his arms to her which she gladly ran to as she screamed, “Daddy”, hugging him so tight and almost afraid to let go, God does answer prayers, she thought as she watched mama come out next. Now they were a family once again. Now they were fixed. And as she put her head on daddy’s shoulder and as he carried her to the couch, she thought, It really is the bestest Christmas ever.

* * *

I truly hope your Christmas has been wonderful. It is important to remember the reason for the season and why gift giving is such a large part of what it is. Yes commercialism has taken control, as has the fictional stories, those traditional ones of Santa, and Rudolph. Still if the gift given to mankind over 2000 years ago hadn’t happened then what we celebrate now wouldn’t exist. Take time to look back, and to understand what this truly represents and means to each and every one of us personally – God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

A Few Thoughts

Before I get into this week’s commentary I’d like to say that here in the USA today is Halloween. So as dusk approaches children will be out in their costumes going door to door saying those words that really have no meaning to them, “Trick or treat!” They know that by saying such they get a treat. And for those first timers, the really young out on their first foray into this magical night it always brings a smile when the light goes on, and suddenly with those two small words, on this one night, they can get these small gifts or treats. Watch out for them as they sometimes do not pay attention and will dart out into the streets. Let’s keep it a time of joy and magic for our young, and not a time of tragedy. And now on to the commentary:

Very few? As we get close to wrapping up this series of short stories or episodes I felt I would like to add a comment from my point of view as the author. Of course for those who have followed the series to this point know, these episodes are actually part of a book. I’m still looking for a home for the story, and have queries out. I’ll also be looking at Amazon, and #PITMAD which will be open for one day on December 4 of this year.

While all my works, or books are fiction, they do reflect our world. In this latest, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown, I’d love to say that what we are reading is no more than fiction, and once we are finished and heading off into the real world that such doesn’t exist or happen. Unfortunately this is not the truth. We live in a world where violence is the way, and the wish for peace is great. Regional wars rage, warlords and their armies terrorize, rape, and murder, and we see much the same with the crime syndicates. Of course we can’t leave many governments, radicals, extremists, and terrorists out of this mix. It makes it appear that there is more of them, those prone to violence, than us.

Unfortunately when they destroy, many times, they create others looking for revenge, to get even for the atrocities committed against them, their families, and their homes. And in a sense who could really blame them? So it is no surprise to see Jay, and later Elsa wanting to bring heavy payback to the raiders who do this kind of thing. Tit for tat so to speak. Does such actions mean they are wrong? Does such actions mean they are right? For any of us on the outside it is easy to rationalize what we would want to do, or criticize those who face such tragedies when their actions are towards violence. And it seems it is more so (rationalization) for those who have suffered at the hands of others such as the ones stated above.

Again, as our population continues to grow on this small planet, and resources become less and less, eventually there will be fighting over what is available, and what is remaining. Since a region can only support so much, so goes a planet. And we are rapidly approaching a time when that limit will be reached. It’s not to say it will happen, as the trends appear to show a slowing of the growth.

This is one of the many reasons that writers like myself look to the far future, writing science fiction, reflecting one of the infinite futures that could lay ahead of us, which in the end may or may not become reality. In a past post I stated that the real problem we truly face isn’t the world around us, or the unknown obstacles that lie ahead, but we ourselves. We can always leave, change our location, explore space, find new worlds, but we will always be stuck with us.

Those tendencies of mankind, of cruelty, of selfishness, of hate and anger, or revenge seem prevalent. It’s not that we don’t have redeeming qualities because we do. Compassion, love, the helping of others, reaching out to strangers we’ve never met and giving all we can including our time, and many times our very lives are strong within us. It has always been a balancing act as to which side of us, as a species, will dominate. And for me I’ve always hoped it would be the side of good, of compassion, as stated here in this paragraph.

Yet, with the headlines, radio and TV, or the internet screaming terrorism, torture, murder and death, it is hard, at times, to realize that this other compassionate side exists. Still if we do not bring an end to our dark side then in the end it will not matter, because we will not be here. When we look to the universe, and its immense size, it becomes obvious there are others who have risen to intelligence on their worlds. And with the length of time that the universe has existed, again it becomes obvious that many have risen only to become extinct. We’ve seen large die offs, and extinctions here. So it is only natural to push what we’ve witnessed on our local planet, to the universe as a whole.

So as we follow Jay, Elsa, and yes even Ed, we can see our own world reflected through their eyes, through their reactions and actions. We can see the strengths and weaknesses that inhabit each and every one of us who exist now, have ever existed, and will exist in the future, until we are either no more, or have inhabited the stars. Spreading mankind’s seed to worlds throughout the milky way giving us a chance to become more than what we are presently.

Maybe to a time in the future where earth, our birth home will become no more than myth. And maybe this would be a good thing. I know from reading other sci-fi writers from the past that I’m not the only one who has looked to the far future and saw this possible outcome. Still as a writer we write our stories, and all such stories deal with the human condition. The worlds, the towns and cities, the countries, the wild lands are nothing more than the backdrops, the dressing, a simple place for these stories to be told as they have been for thousands of years.

So in a sense all of us who write fiction, who write novels, are taking from the many before us, making all of us plagiarist’s, since we are writing the same stories of adventure, love, loss, the fall of man, and his redemption from that fall. In other words our condition. And is this wrong? No. I say we need these stories to entertain, to inspire, and sometimes when the stories are dark, maybe grow. Grow beyond our infancy away from the mentality of villages – us against them. So here’s to the future – our future, and may it be great.

May there always be story tellers, weavers of myth and beauty, and yes even of our dark side. Otherwise we will end up with an old statement from our past when facing that unknown future: “There be monsters!”

* * *

Next week we begin the last of the episodes or short stories that constitute the book, Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. In comparison to the previous episodes it is rather short (only 4 parts). Part of the reason for this is because I plan on submitting the manuscript to a publisher instead of publishing it myself as an indie author. I presently have 4 books published as an indie, which are listed on my website. Even though this one is actually the 8th book I’ve written, for it to be considered by a publisher as a”debue or first” novel the word count must be kept down. It meant that I had to shorten the story somewhat and reduce my word count by roughly 30,000 words.

Does the story suffer because of this? No, it is complete as it stands. Still by doing this I’m taking a chance that it will work. There are many areas in this story that would have had fuller explanations, more depth, and more experience for our two main protagonists. Still I am happy with the outcome and direction the story took. And I even can be satisfied with the way it ends. In some ways it begs for a sequel, a second book. And believe it or not I have actually started one. Still it is sitting on the back-burner, so to speak, as I work on another titled, A World Apart, which is a little over half way written –  this being the first draft, of course. Once this one is complete and the editing done, I will probably move back to the sequel, presently titled, The Keeper of the Knowledge.

Still, in the end, time will tell, as I have 2 additional manuscripts started besides these two mentioned in the previous paragraph. They have titles of, And the Rains Came, and, Dreams. So if nothing else I have many stories and ideas to keep me busy for years to come. Still, as I have stated a number of times, I’m in my 60’s, and some day the creative well will dry up. At least I can say, even if it took retiring, I have been able to reach and accomplish one of my dreams or goals. And I have made my original goal of writing 8 novels, so what more could one ask, other than having readers enjoying the stories? Have a great week and see you here for the first part of the final episode titled, Reconciliation. 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  
Tags: , ,

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  
Tags: , , , , ,

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.

* * *

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  
Tags: , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: