Myths and Rumors

Welcome to Christmas 2018. If are reading this on Christmas day then you’ve already opened your presents, and the chaotic day has slowed to a comfortable pace. And maybe you thought it was time to go see what is out there on the web, and maybe a story or two to bring a smile to your face. Later in the day a Christmas dinner but for now that’s the future. Now is your time, a few minutes to yourself to enjoy family, the day, and a bit of nostalgia as you remember past Christmases.

As I’ve done, since this blog has existed, I’ve posted, on Christmas day, a short story which is about this time of year. And this year is no different. I actually begin to write these stories at least three months in advance of Christmas day. After all, it takes time, and work of course, to get the story created, and then just right to present. As the title to this post suggests, this is the name of this year’s story. As I stated with Sunday’s post I will give nothing away other than what little I stated in that same post. That way it is fresh and unknown with no expectations. So for your reading pleasure and for Christmas 2018, is Myths and Rumors:

I cannot say what started me on this, well for lack of a better word, quest, (But if I want to be entirely honest that isn’t necessarily true). I’m one who studies and teaches history. Not one who goes on useless and worthless searches. And I really considered this to be one of those. Still, as I sat here by my campfire, under the canopy of the night sky with the stars shining down, and by looking back to where this began I believe that it went something like this: I guess it might have been that night at the local watering hole and being under the influence of that fermented drink that they serve there, I believe again that it was then it most likely happened.

My friends and I were in a deep discussion about many of the myths and rumors of what the past held. One of the main myths stated that there had been an event somewhere before written history that spoke of a disaster of some kind that was to have been on an apocalyptic scale. Personally I’ve never seen any evidence of such. Still such things have a tendency to come up when that fermented drink is being consumed. It leads to passionate discussions, arguments, and, in my case, commitments.

Oh there were other such rumors or myths talking about large cities, the ability to fly, and to cover great distances on land in some type of conveyance that kept one comfortable. Then there was the one dealing with what our distant – very distant – ancestors celebrated every season around the time of the winter solstice. It represented a time of giving and had a name. Well to be honest most myths and rumors do have names attached. Otherwise nobody would know what you’re talking about. Well this myth’s name is Christmas, whatever “a Christmas” is.

My friends would say, “Johnathon Cane you know that there’s always a kernel of truth in those things. You’ve said so yourself, not only here, but when you teach.”

Well, this isn’t something I can deny since it is the truth. But back onto the subject at hand and that myth about this Christmas. It is said that this celebration was so big that there even was a town named Christmas. Well, actually these myths and rumors said that there was more than one. Every time I’d hear those comments I’d end up laughing. “Really?” I’d ask. “Next thing you’ll tell me is you have some wonderful lowlands for sale for a really good price.”

Somewhere along the line a challenge was put forth. I guess it must have been even though I didn’t necessarily remember. The next day I found myself dealing with one huge headache that hurt worse every time I moved. As far as what we had discussed and talked about the previous night, well, once again, it was well beyond my memory. It wasn’t until those same friends, (and I use that term loosely), over the next many days, asked when I would begin my trek to prove that this town of Christmas didn’t even qualify as myth.

I would reply, simply stating that whatever we discussed over the table at our favorite watering hole was to be left there . . . Even though these same myths and rumors had placed one of those towns north and east of us. I stated, “After all, we wouldn’t – couldn’t to be honest – solve the world’s problems, or really know what happened deep in the past before anything was written.” And, to be honest, any conclusions we came to were influenced by what we were drinking anyway.

So, why was I out here then? Why was I out in this wilderness, where only the wild beasts roamed, searching for a myth that most likely was just that and completely unprovable. Well, if I knew the answer I probably wouldn’t be here. Our time’s tracked with sundials and moon cycles, and I had left at the end of winter figuring to return a no later than the end of fall before winter began to turn things white and it being much too cold to be outside.

Judging from the conditions I was now heading into the beginning of summer which meant that over one third of my time on this search was gone and other than getting a nice tan and seeing a lot of country I had nothing to show for it. Heck, I hadn’t even found any sign that anyone had ever lived out here, let alone had traveled in this wilderness. It seemed that even trails were few and far between. In fact in some of the areas the forest grew so thick that one had to find ways around.

If nothing else the experience I continued to gain showed how diverse and beautiful this land was. Someday it might be filled with people, but that someday was many generations down the road of time. And as I sat by my warming and cooking fire before night truly settled in, these thoughts would continue to haunt me . . . Everything that I just talked about and showed you. And I’d continue to consider myself a fool for agreeing to this.

That is until one night after heading inland towards the east and following a somewhat shaky trail which ran through mountains that appeared to be of solid rock. Well, not quite solid since those alpine trees grew there. Still I could see that these mountains were young by their very jagged and rugged nature. There was a river close by that soothed one with the quiet sounds it produced. Since I would normally set up camp just as dusk was approaching, which I had, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

In a sense it had been an introspective day as I looked inward. Of course since I was in the wilderness I had to remain alert to the dangers inherent to such places. I’d more or less been close to this river for some time and it helped provide the food I needed to survive. And before it became dark I had cooked my meal of fish over the open fire. I must admit that it would have been nice to have someone here with me, but alas I was alone.

In retrospect I realize that it was probably stupid but there was little I could do about it. To have someone to assist and to cover one’s back would be the obvious reason. But there are others such as companionship during the trek, as well around the campfires. And then there probably would be the most important. If I actually did find something out here then they would be able to confirm it. And yes, I did find something.

Night had settled in when suddenly ahead and in the distance the sky lit up. With the mountains around me and the trees of course, it was impossible to determine where the light originated. It appeared to be actually somewhere in the forest coming up from the ground. I thought, impossible. This must be my imagination . . . Probably the moon rising or something like that. Yet I realized that we were at the time of the new moon, which meant no moon.

Trying to judge the distance I knew there would be no way for me to make an attempt to move forward in the dark and locate the source of this light. It would have to wait until the light of day. As I stared at this distant light it seemed to draw me, beckoning for me to come and see. It was like the Siren’s call. As I watched that light I realized it was much brighter than even our village put out. It sent chills through me. What possibly existed that might do this? I had no idea and no answers

And the night and surrounding forest remained quiet and peaceful . . .

I found that I slept well and was up before the sunrise. I searched, with my eyes, in the direction that I saw that fantastic light but it had disappeared. So after eating a hearty breakfast I packed and continued down the trail to whatever destiny awaited me.

It approached midday when I finally turned a corner on this almost nonexistent trail when things suddenly changed. No there was no gradual subtle shift from where I was to what I saw before me. It was instant. The trail initially widened and the surface of that same trail shifted from dirt to a hard broken grey-black surface, and then widened significantly. In fact we probably could have placed two carts side-by-side and still had room. It caused me to pause.

“So Johnathon”, I said to no one since as far as I knew I was the only one here, “what’s this all about?” I stood there wondering what this surface was made of but had no answers. One thing for sure it made the hiking so much easier. With the sun directly overhead there was little shadow to reveal much of what lay ahead, so with this easier path I picked up the pace. Soon I’d need to find a place to camp for the night.

Suddenly, and in the distance, I saw what had to be ruins of what I or we of our time would call a village. And this widened path or trail went right down and between those ruins. It left me wondering why and what such a place would be doing here literally in the middle of this virgin forest. Yet from the size it obviously had been thriving when people were here. It only deepened the mystery. I had taken off my pack to rest my shoulders so I picked it up from the ground and put it back on and quietly continued on into this strange and lost place.

It appeared that many of these, well for lack of a better word, shelters had been more than ground level. As if the ones who lived here had learned how to build upwards adding other spaces on top of the ones that were built upon the ground. It was a unique concept. I know that there were suggestions from my time that said such were possible and that it would simply require that the first level be built heavier to support the weight of the second level. But as far as I knew no one had tried.

Yet here before me was proof that it had been tried somewhere deep in the past and was successful and a common practice. So maybe there was truth to many of those myths and we were simply relearning and rediscovering ideas and practices that we had once known and was common knowledge. These thoughts caused me to pause and really look around. Unfortunately this lost village wasn’t close to anything, anybody, or any of the locations where there were a lot of people.

Not being an artist, and not having much to either draw or write upon I’d had to do the best I could with what I had. Unless . . . unless what? Unless somewhere in these ruins I’d be able to find something to use, some scraps of something that’d allow me to do a better job of recording all that was around me. I had the time so there was no need to hurry this. This meant I might do a thorough job of searching these ruins and maybe find out what happened here. Still this dead village couldn’t have been the source of that light I saw in the night. So should I go further to see if I might find that source, or would it behoove me to simply stop here and do a bit of research?

Again that stopped me. In a sense it had been that bright light in the night that had brought me here. And here might be the greater treasure as far as knowledge. That bright light was more a draw bringing forth a strong curiosity and in the end might actually be that Siren’s call drawing one onward never to find the source. Like chasing those images of water in the desert that always retreat.

So I decided to stay here. After all, if I wanted to continue on and search for that source I would most likely have some additional time to do that. So looking at these shelters from the deep past I headed towards one of the closest that was on my left. There happened to be a bench on the outside and so I sat there, carefully since I didn’t know if it would support me or not. And once I was satisfied with its strength I, once again, removed my pack and set it next to me, relaxing and just enjoying the peace, the quiet, the slight breezes that cooled the after zenith air.

The sun felt wonderful. In fact I suspect that I ended up napping as I awoke suddenly and realized half the after zenith had passed and the sun was well on its way to going behind those mountains that I had just passed through. It was time to find somewhere to spend the night. And that meant that I wouldn’t really begin my exploration of this hidden gem until the morrow. One thing for sure, I wouldn’t lack for wood for my campfire.

At first I thought that I’d stay right here in the middle of these ruins, but thought better of it. Who knew what might actually live in these long abandoned and collapsed shelters. So I retraced my steps back outside of this place lost to time and memory. Just outside there seemed to be an open area with nothing around. Simply the natural grasses with the trees off in the distance, leaving it to appear to be a safe place to camp – at least I thought so at the beginning.

So with practiced ease I set up my camp, and since I had a little more time before dusk settled in, I loaded up with wood so I might have a fire all night if I so desired. Looking off in the distance I saw something I could use to sit on, fetched it and faced it in the direction of this unknown village from the deep past.

Being a scholar it piqued my interest and curiosity wanting to know the history of this place, why it was here, and were there other such places close by. Of course there was no way to know, and to be honest I really didn’t have the time. I felt that once I was done exploring this one that I’d head back home letting my friends know that there were places where people had once lived. But I believed that this one I had found was just that, a place where people had lived, and nothing more.

After eating my evening meal, I smiled, as thoughts of what I’d say, briefly entered my mind. I mean, in the end, even if nothing was truly answered I’d gained experience and seen a lot of beautiful country. That alone made this trek worthwhile. I just wish I could have talked another into coming with me. So looking towards where the trees began, with my back to the ruins, as the light faded, and with the end of dusk these same trees disappeared into the darkness, I looked up at the fantastic display of stars in the sky. I have to admit that I never tired of the night sky.

I felt something, heard what sounded like a whoosh, and was struck by a strong wind that briefly swept over the meadow where I was camped. I watched as my fire leaned sharply towards those trees hidden in the darkness and flared higher before settling back down. What’s that, I thought. Turning back towards the source of the wind chills ran up and down my spine and I thought I’d gone crazy. “This is impossible,” I said out loud. I stood there staring. It was as if I grew roots and was unable to move.

These ruins that I had been in earlier this day were no longer ruins. It now was a live and thriving village or town, (as I learned later) lighting up the surrounding night in bright unnatural light. Looking to my right towards that trail I had followed to get here, well, it was no longer a trail. In fact it had become wide and covered in some substance that made it smooth instead of the broken surface that I’d hiked earlier this day. On that trail were strange wheeled . . . well, I don’t know what one would call them. I’d never seen the like.

I stared at these moving things, which had lights of their own that allowed them to see ahead. And the speed at which they moved was shocking. Even the fastest of steeds couldn’t move this fast. And as they approached the town they slowed. This directed my eyes to the village itself and I saw that there were many of these same things, again for lack of a better word, not moving, and seemed to be corralled in areas that were marked with white lines. I wondered if these things were alive, and those lines kept them there.

Then I saw one of the moving things pull into such an open marked area, stop, the lights and noise it was making ended and suddenly people got out of this thing, smiling laughing and conversing. I was seeing many of the myths coming true right before my eyes. It was then I began to hear music drifting with the night breeze, and as my eyes followed the light created by one of those, I guess I would call them mechanical moving things, I saw the sign at the entrance to this place, and it said: WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS TOWN.

I looked up into the sky and saw that same light I had on the previous night and was in awe of the power to produce such brightness. In fact it turned night into day. I found that suddenly I was being drawn towards this town, this place out of time. I wondered, if I did enter, would I be able to leave. I mean I’m from my time, and I saw this place in my time and only dust moved along and through those silent ruins. Not this vibrant and living place. If I entered would I be pulled into their world never to return to mine?

Yet the colors in the light produced, well I’ve never seen the like. I found that unconsciously, like that moth to flame, I had started moving in the direction to the entrance of this, this unbelievable place. As got closer I noticed that the people were dressed strangely. I don’t know how to describe it only that even they wore bright colors that matched the colors of those shining lights. I noticed that many of those same lights seemed to randomly blink off and then light again like the twinkling of the very stars above. How was this accomplished? What magic allowed such brilliance?

I found that I had actually approached to the very edge of this town and then like a shy child stood in the shadows drinking in all the sights, the music, and the very crush of humanity. I have never seen, until this very moment, so many people. Even if we had brought together the many surrounding villages close to where I live, for whatever the reason might be, it still wouldn’t be enough. These observations left me standing there in shock and awe.

It was then that the night breeze brought to me the smells of food cooking, and other such delights. This left me even more confused as I tried to understand how any of this was possible. I know that earlier this day I looked upon this dead “Christmas Town” with questions in my mind asking who had lived here, and why this was so far from anywhere. Yet, if I wasn’t dreaming, this place seemed to have none of the problems that I had associated it with earlier this day – no, none at all.

It was then that I noticed a booth that sat beside the trail those mechanical things moved on. And it was lit just as brightly as each of the shelters. It reminded me of the booths we used during our gathers where we would buy and sell, barter, and contract for services we couldn’t provide for ourselves. It was then that I realized that the one that was in that booth was looking at me. It was kind of a shock. I mean, up until that moment, I really didn’t know if what I was seeing was touchable, or that the ones who seemed to be in that world would see and be able to become part of my world.

With a smile and hand signals he beckoned me to come out of the shadows and come join him there at this particular booth. To say I was uneasy would be an understatement. I still worried about the fact – for which I had no proof either way – that I’d be able to enter this place and then return to my camp later. So with reluctance I slowly approached the booth and came out into the light. If this one was bothered by how I was dressed or where I’d come from there was no sign. In fact he continued to smile simply waiting.

As I did, come into the light that is, I stared at these shelters. They were beautiful, with the white fronts, large glass – yeah real glass – windows. And the amount of wood used to contrast that white made them the more enticing. Still that worry nagged me. This might be a trap. And if it is then I had already fallen under its spell, and was slowly being drawn in.

As I approached the booth I heard the one behind speak. He had a strange accent and some of the words were unfamiliar, yet I understood him perfectly. It was as if we were communicating on a different level, leaving the verbal as a simple support to be sure each understood the other. He said, “Howdy stranger, I’m Terry, and we’ve been expecting you.”

Now if such a statement did anything it did the obvious, sending chills up and down my spine and making the hairs stand up on my arms. “You’ve been expecting me?” I asked.

Here he smiled once again and said, “Yes . . . and no.” Then he shrugged. “What I mean is that we knew that a stranger in clothing different from the times would arrive. You see it was written a long time ago that such would be the case. I suspect there’s even a name – your name – attached. But, to be honest, it has been awhile since I’ve read it, and there’s been much that has happened since I last read it. Still all who live here know of it.” He canted his head to the side with that slight smile that showed curiosity before continuing.

“Now I know that you might consider this a trap of some sort. If what we have written is accurate then you are from our future, and we deep in your past . . . Meaning that if either I, or you move to the other’s position then we might never be able to return to our own time, remaining forever out of time, living in a place that we would probably never understand. Yet the truth is even stranger than that. Believe it or not this only happens – this shift in time – once a year. I know that a few days before the town arrives, wherever and whenever in time it will, that a bright light will light up the night sky – sort of a beacon to bring the chosen one here.

“Now I don’t know if you measure time the way we do but I’m sure that you do measure time. It might be by the seasons, or the cycles of the moon, or in many other ways.” Terry pointed over to the sign that stated, Christmas Town. “You see even this only exists for the last part of the year and as we approach the day of Christmas, then and only then does this shift in time happen. Call it magic, call it whatever you want or like, yet it happens. Whatever led to this is unknown, (there are thoughts on this), but whatever it is it does happen and we seem to arrive for a short period of time, somewhere in time, revealing our town to whoever happens to be here. And this time, stranger, it is you.

“It is always one person, and what is written always has one change. That change being the name of the person this is revealed to.” Here he laughed. “I guess it’s another reason not to remember the name that is written since it seems to magically change. Anyway Christmas has much myth attached to it. You will have a chance to experience much of what it is about during your night here. Still, and here I must warn you, once you find yourself back in your camp, nothing of this place will be with you . . . well, maybe something, but what will remain will be something only you will see and know.”

He now leaned on the counter that was part of the booth and asked, “So stranger, are you ready to come in and experience what your distant ancestors enjoyed? The joy, the celebration, the peace, the food – yes how can I forget about the food – and the gift giving that is all part of the celebration.”

What can I say? I mean what could I say; he had answered all my questions even though I hadn’t asked them. I felt a need to cross that line, to see what this town had to show me. So I answered, “Sure.” I had to admit that those twinkling bright lights were drawing me in and I wanted, honestly wanted, to see all of what was here before me. And I hoped that this Terry hadn’t lied and that when I awoke the following day that I’d be in my camp.

Terry smiled once again and signaled for a girl, who had to be somewhere between ten and twelve, and at the same time he handed me something that was on a chain. “She is Samantha, and she will be your guide throughout your time here. For you see this time is actually more for the children than adults, and this you will wear around your neck so all can see and know who you are. It allows everything you do here tonight to be at no cost to you.” Once again he laughed. “After all, you do not have what we use to purchase stuff anyway.” He then signaled for the two of us to get together, bowed, and pointed in the direction of the town saying with meaning, “Merry Christmas.”

Samantha smiled and said, “Welcome Mr. Cane.”

I know that he had stated that they knew who would arrive but I had thought this to be impossible. Yet without hesitation she had stated it. I looked at her with questions in my eyes and she looked down somewhat shyly before looking back into my eyes. I think that she knew what I was thinking and questioning. But did I dare ask since I had already been told? She reached up and took my hand and asked, “Shall we go? Our time here is limited and before you know it this will be only a memory with nothing to prove otherwise.”

She sounded old for her age. I wouldn’t have expected such a statement from one so young. And maybe that was exactly why she had been chosen. Anyway I nodded and she led me into this town. How can I describe what I saw and experienced? We went into most of the – as she called them buildings and stores – shelters that were here. I found that they were decorated just as brightly inside as out. And by being with this young girl and the medallion I wore around my neck I was able to sample much of the foods, and was given many small trinkets.

Each time we’d return to the street, and this was what she called it, not the trail as I would have known it, I’d stare at those wonderful strings of colorful twinkling lights that seemed to be around anything that that was above the ground – even the trees. And it seemed that the trees got special attention with brightly colored balls made of glass reflecting the very light that made it appear that the very stars from the night sky and been plucked and placed here for our pleasure.

The music, what can I say, it was surrounding us and she said that this was special music for this time of the year – again this was their way of measuring time. I was shown that book and there written within was a description of this night moving out of the flow of time and when I read my name written there, it literally took my breath away. How is such possible? I mean I had never been here, so how is it possible? No! Inside I thought, it cannot be, so I must be dreaming.

I learned that this came about because of a dying child sometime in their past and when this day arrived and the child has passed on to wherever we go after death something magical happened and this day became a day out of time moving for those hours during this special day to whenever it was deemed this Christmas Town would go. Who knows, it may have been the child’s dying wish. It was to be a gift for all time, and for the ones visiting it from the outside in their time nothing would be out of the ordinary. They’d arrive enjoy their visit here and return to their homes none the wiser to this other event, this unbelievable visit involving me, which was happening at the same time.

I saw excitement growing within this child and finally as the hours drew near to midnight she grabbed my hand and with some impatience pulled me back out to the street. Looking down at her I saw a big happy smile. She looked up and said, “It is time for the arrival of Santa Claus. Many consider him a myth but we know better.”

“So who is this Santa Claus?”

She smiled again at such ignorance. “He brings gifts and small treasures and leaves them under the decorated trees in the homes for the children. This is why this time of year is considered special for us.” Here she laughed, “After all, for a little longer I still am a child and it is a very special time for us as well as everyone.”

So we stood on what she called a sidewalk and waited as most of the people who were here. And speaking of people again I have never seen so many in one place or so many waiting for something that had this crowd almost breathless. Not knowing all I could do was wait. Then in the distance I saw a strange sight. Down that street came what could only be called a sled, something she called a sleigh, being pulled by what she named as reindeer – eight to be exact. In that sleigh was a man who had a white beard and was dressed in red. As the sleigh came closer it was obvious he wasn’t a small person.

Everyone cheered as he came abreast of them and there seemed to be smaller individuals with him that were tossing, out to the crowd, what appeared to be sweets of some kind. As this thing pulled even to the two of us the sleigh stopped and this Santa Claus looked directly at me. At that moment silence dominated this town. He smiled at me saying, “Welcome Johnathon Cane!” I was too shocked to respond, and after a nervous moment I bowed to him and he smiled and returned the gesture.

At that moment a cheer went out and the sleigh moved on down the street and in the distance turned a corner and was out of sight. At this moment Samantha grabbed my hand and began pulling me in the direction that this Santa Claus had gone. “Come on, we must go to where he will stop. While his time here will be short, since it is Christmas Eve, he will still stop long enough to give many here gifts.”

So with some reluctance I let her lead me. Shortly we were in an area that had to be the middle of this town. There was a huge tree in the center decorated just as extravagantly as the smaller ones I saw throughout this town. And I saw most of the people standing in a large circle which opened up when we approached. There was a breathless silence, one that spoke of anticipation . . . Of what I didn’t know.

Suddenly I realized that all eyes were on the two of us including this Santa Claus. He was sitting in a large chair and with that smile of his he motioned for me to come forward. I looked down at Samantha and together we approached him. There seemed to be such a peacefulness attached to him. He cocked his head sideways for a moment as if in thought. Then he said, “Johnathon Cane, you’ve been given a gift. Not one that can be placed in your pocket, or placed for display in your shelter, but one of the mind. You are a teacher and one who studies the past.

“So here before you is a taste of that very past. When you wake tomorrow you will still be near the ruins of this place, and you will wonder if you simply dreamed this.” He laughed, “Well, who am I to say it isn’t a dream? After all isn’t a dream simply another reality? When we are in a dream does it not seem real? And only upon waking do we know the difference.

“From what you’ve learned, studied, and yes even taught nothing would have shown you this. It is just for you.” He then had Samantha and me of course stand on either side of him and suddenly I was blinded by flashes of light. At that moment Samantha led me away leaving me unsettled by what this one had passed on and said to me. I knew I’d have to think long and hard about this night.

As we left I saw others lining up to see Santa Claus. And with most of the crowds here to see him the rest of Christmas Town seemed somewhat subdued and quiet. It was then I heard a bell ringing and I subconsciously counted the tones until I reached eleven and as the twelfth struck I was no longer in the town but back in my camp with the sun beginning to rise.

I thought, wow what a dream. I now looked toward those ruins with different eyes, and later that day when I explored them I was able to locate every place I had visited in that dream – if indeed it was a dream. It was then on the last day before I began my trek home that I found, in an inside pocket, a scrap of stiff paper. When I pulled it out wondering where this had come from I stopped. “No, no, this is impossible. What I saw and experienced had to be a dream!” Yet in my hand was proof that maybe it wasn’t and had been real. What was on that stiff paper was a small image with me, the man in red, and Samantha staring out. Both of them were waving and smiling with me standing there trying to understand.

I sat down in shock, thinking that this can’t be real. I turned it over and there on the back were these simple words:

Merry Christmas – Santa

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Thanksgiving an Annual Celebration

One of the lessons I learned when I was in the army and ended up in a foreign country that the holidays and celebrations were not the same. This might be obvious, but for one who is nineteen, at the time it is something one  wouldn’t think about. I know that Thanksgiving is one such celebration. I know that it is celebrated here in the US, and as well in Canada. Even though the two countries do not celebrate at the same time.

For us the tradition goes back to before this country became the nation of today. How much of what originally happened still remains fact or became myth is an unknown. Still it is a time to give thanks for what has happened in the year preceding the holiday, which is observed on the fourth Thursday of November. Being after the time of harvesting of the crops and to be thankful for the bountiful harvest. Many times one of the decorations is the horn of plenty.

Still it is a time of family, and a time of friends. Obviously it is also a celebration of food. Where the table is overloaded with choices, and the deserts fantastic. It isn’t unusual to be in a food coma once the meal is finished. With winter just around the corner, the warmth of companionship, home, and with friends and family around us makes it something special.

For us who have grown up around this celebration we have memories of being at the kids’ table and looking over longingly at the adult table wondering if we would ever get the chance to graduate to that table. And when it did finally happen we would look back at the ones still at this other table and know that they would be envious of our promotion. Still we would find that it truly was fun being at that other table, but wouldn’t dare admit it to anyone but ourselves.

Of course what we didn’t or don’t realize, when we are children, is the fact that there’s that separation, those at least two tables because there’s no room at the adult table to add us. Most homes aren’t built with the space for all to sit all around a long table, and it’s normally much too cold to go outside. Besides, if we want to be honest, being around a table with our cousins is fun. Unless their families are close it’s one of the few times during the year that we get to interact with them. And these encounters do have a tendency to strengthen family ties.

Of course there are other traditions that come out of these gatherings. For example there’s college football on the TV most of the day for the sports fans. And for others movies or just getting together to be brought up to date on what’s been happening. For others they forgo the whole tradition and head out for the recreation the outdoors can provide. Such things as skiing, or heading to the desert and riding the sand dunes, or whatever happens to be their passion. By adding Friday to their time off they have a four day weekend.

However one celebrates it is these holidays and traditions that tie us together as a people, nation, and country. It is the time of year that we look forward to, (at least here in the US). And for each of us out here in the world we have our own traditions and holidays that make us, well, us. So for all of you out there who is reading this post, may your time and traditions be one of joy and nostalgia as they tie us to our past, to our future, and to our families. Because, in the end, family is the most important of all.

Next month, on Christmas Day, I’ll be posting my annual Christmas short story. God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on November 22, 2018 at 6:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Last Quarter, and Discussing Short Stories Too

Well, here we are entering the last quarter of 2018. It really seems like a short time ago 2017 ended and we had just entered 2018. Yet, here we are. For me days, weeks, months, and yes even years move along much too fast. I believe this may be the result of living for sixty nine years. When we are young, and here I’m referring to when we are five or six – about the time when we can remember some of our past – time seems to drag, and the years seem to be really long.

I believe that’s because of the ratio of the number of days to the number of years we’ve been around. Comparing that to now it seems that my days heading into the past go on forever. Even though that’s not true. Those days are as finite as I am. Those days (25,185, at the time I write this) do say that I’ve lived most of my time given to me. Fortunately I do come from a long lived family so my chances are good that I should live into my nineties. In fact my mother is ninety-three and still sharp as a tack as they say.

Still we are winding down this year and soon it will be placed in the books as all the years before this one. And being that it is this time of year it means that I’ve begun to work on this year’s Christmas short story. I’ve found in the last couple of years that coming up with one hasn’t been easy. In fact until recently I didn’t have a clue as to what I’d write about. Fortunately something did come along and I’m well into the first draft. And no, I haven’t finished the story as of yet., but will soon. Truthfully I have to, as it will need to be revised and edited a number of times before it will actually become more than words on the page and be ready for prime time. And yes it will be different from the others I presented over time here on this blog, and in the book of short stories, Words in the Wind.

For any who are still with me, you now know that I’ve dropped my posts down to once a month instead of weekly. Still a number of you are recent followers and there is a lot of material in the archives. This blog came into existence in 2011, and while that seems like yesterday  to me, it’s quite a few years ago. And as both this blog and I age the frequency of posts will reflect that fact. This year I had thought of possibly writing another Halloween short story, but unless some inspiration strikes me, most likely it will not happen. Here in the USA it the time, at the end of October, for Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving on the third Thursday in the month of November, and we end the year with Christmas. Then suddenly one week later we begin another year.

For me it’s hard to believe that we are down to the last three months of the year with fall here and winter coming on strong. And in the area where I live that means lots of gray, cold days and nights with lots of rain. Cabin fever would be something easy to catch when it’s just too miserable to go outside. In fact, as I write this, it’s raining now. Still it’s a time for writing, and I still have two novels to complete. I’m happy where I am as I surpassed my original goal of eight novels, and then reached my next goal of ten with the recent release of “Words in the Wind, a book of short stories”.

We are entering the time of year where family becomes more important, as well as our friends. Nostalgia is also strong as our own memories flow back to our own past and of growing up. Enjoy the romanticism of these memories for we all have a tendency to remember the good times, and leave those bad times behind knowing that, many times, we do learn from them. God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

 

Just Some Random Thoughts About Music

I guess in a way I can claim to be a writer since I’ll be releasing my tenth novel in September. And on that subject I have a tentative release date of September eleventh of this year. Still I know many wonder where the inspiration comes from, and I guess for each of us the answer would be different. And while this particular post isn’t necessarily about any particular subject I really do have a direction I’m heading.

Music has always been popular since whenever it was invented. Even the most primitive tribes perform music. So it must be a part of what makes us human. For any of us what we enjoy and what we remember from the past again will be different. Yet all of us have one aspect that shows the power of music. Still I’d say there are other things that can trigger this as well, but I believe that music would qualify as producing the strongest associations. Yes a certain smell, or a particular day with the way the air feels, or even seeing a particular scene can do much the same.

And I suspect that remembering this as a writer would be a great way of presenting a way to look back to a character’s past since it is so powerful here in the real world. I watched the movie, with my wife, I Can Only Imagine, and found that later I was playing the song in my head when it pushed me into a different direction when another song from my past which was similar replaced it. And I have to admit that I’ve always loved this other song. The Song Remembers When, came out in the late nineties and shows, through the lyrics, this power that music has.

You can find the song on You Tube and the singer Tricia Yearwood who released and sang it. I believe that it does an excellent job of describing what an old familiar song can do when we hear it in the present. Suddenly we pause as the melody and lyrics take us back to that moment in time and in that instant we leave the present and almost relive that memory again.

At times it can be so powerful that we are literally there seeing it all again. And as the song ends and as we return to the present what we, many times, find is that it has left a profound effect upon us. And yes there are other things, as I stated above, that we come across in our lives that can do much the same thing. Personally I find that the power of music brings forth the most vivid imagery and the reliving of my past.

Still what can we say? It has been proven that our memories aren’t necessarily accurate. So is what we see in our mind’s eye, the feel, the sense, smell, imagery, or taste, is truly what happened, or has our minds rewritten that past so that what we remember is a more romantic or maybe safer version of the actual events? Who really knows? For there is no way for any of us to return to our past and be observers, to record what is there and to see what actually happened. So it then becomes the responsibility of our memories to answer those questions. And we already know that those answers won’t necessarily be correct.

So, next time one of those favorite songs from the past takes you on ride, time traveling to your own history, smile and appreciate what you feel and see, because we do have the rare ability to look back. And in my personal opinion that is special.

God Bless F. D. Brant (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 7:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Looks Like This is the End

Before we begin this post and for those into trivia, this title was part of a children’s TV series that debuted in the year of 1964, (and to age me, I was in high school). If you can come up with the answer – great. It ran for 3 years before going into syndication and running until 1973. And the complete statement is, “Looks like this is the end . . . of another episode of Underdog!”

As each life begins, it also must have an ending. None of us are gifted with any more years than we end up with. When we are in our youth such thoughts rarely cross our minds since that future is much too far away to contemplate. Yet, it arrives much too fast. And as we are into the day-to-day living, while it (time) may appear to drag, in truth when compared to your time here overall, it doesn’t. Before we realize it that end is not that far away, and most of one’s life is behind them. Suddenly plans, dreams, and such, have reached their totality, and there is not enough time left to reach and grab them. Suddenly you realize that the sun is setting on you and in a short time your end will be here.

This is true of the seasons, of life, of business, and even this universe and this planet. And it is definitely true of this blog, Words in the Wind. I started writing this in my early 60’s as a companion to my novels. A way for readers to get to know me, to get to know my works. It has been an eclectic work covering many different subjects. And while I attempted to stay away from politics, since there are plenty of blogs out there on that subject, there were times I could not. Eventually and in the near future, the short stories that I’ve posted here will be released as a compilation novel titled appropriately, “Words in the Wind”.

Whether, in the long run, this blog has been successful, I guess only time past this present post will tell. It is said that nothing dies on the internet, and what is written and posted here will be here until the internet no longer exists. It has also been stated that time is the great equalizer. If what is written, created, or added is timeless, then it will outlive the creator of that work. And because of where I am in life, it really won’t matter to me, since I will have passed from this world. To family who is still here maybe, but even that is an unknown.

To my many followers I have to say Thank You. Without you, there would be no reason to continue through these many years, these many posts. And, in the end, I can only hope that somewhere among these many posts is a gem or two that left you with a bit of wisdom, something to take home, something that allowed you to see something in a different light, maybe helped solve a problem, or some lessons on writing that helped. And the short stories that were posted, hopefully they entertained, and maybe made you think or brought smiles, because you could see yourself in some of those situations.

And to those new followers who have just found me, I will say that in truth this may not be the complete end to this. I’ve been working this blog over eight years with very little time off. My plan was to continue this until I finished all of my writing, and the self publishing that I’ve still to complete. There’s a great chance that I will be posting here in the future. So for me this is a hiatus, a break, a time to refresh the mind. Still there are close to four hundred posts here. And I have them broken down by either the months when they were posted or by subject. So this is a place to return to catch some of those past posts.

When I began my writing career, again in my late 50’s, I had an original goal of writing eight books. When I began that journey I didn’t know if that was a realistic goal or not, but I can say now that I did reach and surpass it, so it was, and is a realistic goal. If there are any aspiring writers out there all I can say is to try. After all you won’t know if you don’t. Life never goes as planned, so all of us must remain flexible, willing to change in a moment of time. Go with it, adjust, and enjoy life since it passes one by much too quick. And even though we tend to ignore it time is the most precious commodity we have. Once it’s gone it’s lost forever and we can never get it back.

Go with God, be blessed by His Grace, and again a big Thank You, as this is a temporary end, and I’ll be saying good bye for now, and good luck – F. D. Brant. (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on March 17, 2018 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Family Traditions

Other than blood and the fact that every family member must live, albeit imperfectly, with each other through the years of growing up, what is it that makes us wax nostalgically in the remembrances of our past within the family? One of the things, I would say, is family traditions. And some of these traditions are developed long after the children have gone their separate ways and to their own families.

It’s not that there aren’t any developed or observed during the time of growing up, because there are. Yet, because of the very fact that everything is up close and personal, and it is where you’ve always lived, one doesn’t necessarily consider how the family lives as different, or that something that we do is a tradition. It is only after the time where one is able to spend those nights at a friend’s home that we begin to realize that there are other ways of doing things, other ways of dealing with issues within a family, and different views and thoughts out there. And for the first time one is shown that the way that they have always did, observed, and thought about things are not necessarily the only way it can be done.

Our horizons are expanded, and from here they continue to expand. Out into the world we begin to explore beyond the narrowness that we always knew. It’s not that any of this early time is bad, in fact it is just the opposite. We all need a place where things are consistent, a place to test our position in the order of things, a place to begin to develop that confidence that allows us to tackle the world outside of home, a place that allows us to grow and become us. In other words, a place with boundaries, or borders that give us the limits that must be there for our personal growth. And, of course, during those early years of life, protection.

Yet, it isn’t the day-to-day things that we remember. It’s those family get-togethers, the holidays, the birthday parties, the trips to places we’ve never been. Even though we were bored to tears on those trips because there was very little to do while our parents drove to that special destination. The phrase, “Are we there yet?”, comes to mind immediately. And there has been many skits, cartoons, and such reflecting that very question and situation. And while the routes to these special places are the same for everyone, what transpires within those many vehicles while similar are unique to each family.

Even summer vacations can become a family tradition if they are performed each and every year until you are no longer a part of the immediate family. And many times we find that after becoming part of our own family that we have a tendency to carry on those same traditions that we were surrounded by in our youth. Again, is such a bad thing? No not at all. Many times one can look back and see that a particular tradition goes far back into the family history. Others were brought into the family from members who joined bringing their family traditions with them. And  when combining these traditions from the different families into a cohesive whole it makes them appear to have always been there.

In a sense this is what transpired with my family, and became a family tradition while originally not being such (At least on my side. I do not know if my siblings carry this one on or not.). And, in truth, what was brought in wasn’t part of my wife’s family traditions either. She saw something that triggered an idea. And that idea has become a tradition within this family. For you adults out there, can you remember when your parents turned 40? I know that 40 seemed to be quite old. Of course for me it was almost 25 years ago when I reached that milestone (Where did the time go?). I know that I was 16 at the time it happened to my parents.

With the help of my parents, who whole heartily joined in, thusly starting the tradition, they set out to create a surprise party celebrating reaching the ripe old age of 40. Only it wasn’t along the lines of “congratulations you made it”, but more towards the “over the hill”, direction. It consisted of black balloons, and everything aimed towards the grave. Including an open grave placed on the cake. They had buzzards all around and each member of the family had cardboard buzzard beaks that they wore as they read from a series of statements aimed at roasting the individual who happened to reach this milestone. Included in this was an album of funny and insulting birthday cards just to rub it in.

As stated, it was all done in fun, and we all did have a great time. And with such a success for the first one (yes, I’m the oldest child in my family), the rest knew that it would continue. Now came a problem. How could one successfully pull such a surprise off, once again, when it was known that it would happen? And in many ways this problem made it fun. The game became not only the celebration of reaching 40, but the sneaky factor of successfully pulling it off so it would remain a surprise to the roastee.  And I have to admit that overall the family was successful.

These were so much fun that we decided to continue them in our own family. And on the weekend of the 23rd in August we pulled off the first. Our oldest daughter and her husband both turns 40 this year and we could honestly say, “gotcha”. And all of us enjoyed the day together. I do have to say that it was easier to pull off because of another family tradition. And that tradition is of family coming together once a year to celebrate all the birthdays – and this one does go back to my family. Here we celebrated, twice a year, combined birthdays instead of individual ones. And while I could honestly say we weren’t the largest family out there, we were large enough that these celebrations made more sense to us.

Now we have 4 years in which to surprise the next in line to reach 40. 4 Years of planning, and figuring out ways to make it a surprise. And, I have to admit, this is something that I’ve always been good at – figuring out ways to keep vital information away from the children. And what I mean by this isn’t the important or critical stuff, but the fun stuff. Like trips to Disneyland, or Knots Berry Farm when they were growing up. Most of the time, if we had such planned, I could do it in such a way that they wouldn’t figure out what was happening until we were pulling into those parking lots. Creating an atmosphere of surprise, anticipation, and fun, and giving the whole family fun time together as a family, and creating those special memories that we all cherish.

And I guess I can say that in a way, that even doing this became a family tradition. The game of trying to stay ahead of the children when we had planned a trip that was more for them than us. So I am left asking, what are yours, your family traditions? Have some died along the way, or are they going strong? Anyway that you look at them, they are part of what made you, well, you. And finally, Here’s to those family traditions, part of what binds us together, part of that joyful, and happy nostalgia when we look back.

* * *

The end of another week and here we are looking at Saturday, the first day of those very short weekends. I know personally that for many years I worked those weekends and envied my friends who had them off. So whether you must work, or have the weekend, I hope to see you back here next week. And as always have a good week and God Bless. (fdbrant.com)

 

A Personal History – Looking In

Have you ever walked into a home of a relative or friend who has recently passed away? As you work you way through their personal home you see it as it was the very last moment that they were still among the living. With it giving the appearance that the one who is no longer with us has stepped out for a moment and will be returning to continue on with his or her life. A moment frozen in time as the owner, going about their life, had expected it to continue. Only it will not be happening. And if we want to be honest, this is probably the way it will be for any and all of us.

What you see before you, in those humble surroundings, is that person’s personal history for all to see. Everything that was important to them; the “to do” list, the unfinished projects waiting patiently for the hand to come and complete them, their favorite chair still remaining vacant, and maybe their favorite window that they loved to stare out, is all there, all before you. It’s like those museum scenes where a room is set up to look like something from a past decade, to give one a feel for how it was. Fictional, overall, but still allowing one to see how it might have been. Yet here, the story is not fiction, because of what has transpired, what is seen here is all from the past – the recent past for sure, but it’s still the past – someone’s past. And because they will never return, it becomes static as that room in that museum.

If you were one who had visited often, carried on the many conversations, loved the individual who occupied these spaces, it can leave you with expectations of seeing them again. Heart says so, but the mind knows better. As you wander the rooms, different rooms within your own mind open and reveal things to you that happened here, leaving feelings that can warm your soul waxing of nostalgia. Yet, they do not return, cannot return, so what is observed is frozen in time, and soon all that this one held dear will disappear among the family members and friends, much heading to the thrift stores, and many small treasures from that person’s life heading for the dump. Because these treasures were only precious to them, and hold no value for any others. Yet, in your mind the stories of shared times exist with this one who is no longer here.

And as the house is disassembled, one room at a time, what made it special slowly disappears. And as all personal items are handled, searched through, and given to the ones that these items should go to, the home changes. And as this happens the space within that home becomes less personal, less important. Until at the end, after all has been removed the home simply becomes a house. One of the many that are empty, with no special personality, and for now with no loving care. Waiting, until someone new moves in and begins their own personal history, personal memories and stories, and personal touch. Changing forever what was.

In a sense, all of us are like those homes, those houses, with our personal history written within our minds, with the many hallways, many doors, and many rooms where we store our memories. Some not so nice, with others filling us with joy and happiness. They all lie there waiting to come to light when the moment is right, when something similar reminds us of those past events. Other than heredity it is what makes us, well us. It is those scars, experiences, hopes, failures, and yes successes that form us. And for many those years are written on their faces, as well as their bodies.

One of the things we do not consider, in our youth, is the abuse we put our bodies through. But when one reaches those senior years, if one is so lucky, then these abuses come back to haunt one with pain and stiffness that makes what once was simple and easy, very difficult indeed. In many cases we see the elderly confined to wheel chairs, giving up the mobility and freedom that walking gave them. And probably this is one of the sad facts of aging, or any point in your life really. In a sense it means that mentally that you’ve given up, allowed another frailty to win out taking us further from our true potential. Yet, we can only fight the good fight so long before one gives in.

In the game Bioshock Infinite, one of the protagonists  states that what she faced wasn’t the cause of giving up, or the loss of her freedom, or confidence that she would be rescued, or the pain she was facing – it was time. It wore her down until there was nothing left, nothing to fight with, nothing to look forward to. And while this is a fictional story what is stated here is quite true. In the end it is what our past, our history says about us that will determine when we finally give in, finally give up, allowing whatever it is to win.

In many of the fictional stories that we read (and I write) we are always pulling for the heroes in the stories, even though many times they are battered and beaten. And unless the story is a tragedy we like to see our protagonists win. Because in some ways we hope to take some of the positives, the lessons presented, away with us to apply in our own lives. After all, even though these stories are there to entertain, like the storytellers of old, there a lessons in life within those stories. Sometimes we apply them, and sometimes not. Still all of this becomes our personal history, our personal past. Another layer where those milestones pass unnoticed until we look back in surprise and realize all that we’ve given up.

Many times we would love to be able to go back and make changes, but we will never have that chance. We only get one go around, one chance to make our decisions and move on with our lives. In many ways it is unfair, and as it has been stated oh so many times, “Life is unfair”. Still as experience builds, and our personal history grows, our thoughts and views change – sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. Yet no matter how it goes, it, in the end, is our choice or choices that have put us where we are. Yes there are always outside influences that play on those decisions, but if we want to be honest it is still ours. So if we want to be true with ourselves then we must own each and every one of those decisions.

And when it is your time, the time when you don’t return, what will your home say about you? Will it reflect a loving person, or a hateful one? Will family and friends come willingly,  or will what you’ve left behind be ravaged by others who could care less? It all comes down to your personal history, and your personal legacy. And those decisions both in the past and in the present that are always being made by you. And no matter the unintended consequences, in the end, it is your choice that put you there. None of us are allowed to see beyond that time, but with the personal experience of loss, it is easy to see how it can be, when they gather to remember us.

* * *

August, the time where the traditional times of summer vacation ends, and many are preparing to return to school, to face a new set of instructors, to look for old school friends, to reflect on that nervousness that all face in that first week as we work to get back into the routine. And for the rest of us who are well beyond that time we can see it through the eyes of our children, and remember ourselves back in that time. And, of course, think about those summers off. Can’t leave out that hectic time of school shopping and expenses that are too high but necessary. With these thoughts have a great week, if that is possible, and see you all here next Saturday.

Discovery – An Additional Taste

After running a 4 part series on emergency preparedness, I felt it was time for a change of pace, and one of the reasons for the existence of this blog is, of course, my novels, and the promotion of my writing. So for this week I’m presenting the 2nd excerpt from book 2 of the Discovery series. If things remain on schedule (and good luck with that one) I hope to have it released by mid-year along with book 1 in this series.

Sometimes when you revisit a story parts come out sharp and clear that may have only been vague in your mind as you remember it. And, at times, it is these parts that begin to define that novel, and those important characters within the story. It is what makes them human, vulnerable, touchable – possibly someone that you would love to meet personally. As a writer I really cannot tell you from where my characters originate. Sometimes, and very rarely I have a real person in mind when I create a character. (As in the character Keenan from the Survival series.) But to be honest, many times it is the environment where my characters live that makes them who they become, and Lauma is a prime example. She is one of the 6 protagonists in this story, and I find that she would be an interesting person to meet. In many ways it is too bad that these fictitious characters are just that. Because, at times, it would be interesting to just sit down and listen to what they had to say, to begin to see their personal insights. Again this is an early draft and things could change. In this excerpt we start with a little background as she sees what is about to transpire, before we actually follow Lauma,who at this moment is alone at the shelter. She has lost her sires in the past and is now realizing another aspect of that loss that she had never considered until now. So for your reading enjoyment, the 2nd excerpt from Discovery:

Fauul would be leaving shortly to return to the township and take care of many things. He had also said that he would spend time with his immediate family there to inform them of the upcoming event. Fauul was sure that his mother would especially like to attend the ceremony even though it was not close to where his family lived. He had told her that he would try talking her out of it but knowing his mother he thought that would be next to impossible.

Most likely she would drag his father, sister, and brother down for the ceremony at the major gather – or not, he really couldn’t be sure. While his siblings were as grown as he, they still lived in the shelter with their sires. It helped all on the upkeep and expenses. Both of his siblings were still attending the higher learning center, and could only work part time. Of course their only excuse for being able to avoid the trip down to the remote village was attending the learning center. That would probably work for them but his father would not be so lucky. While Fauul was sure that his male sire would not mind, attending these functions as a guest, it was more to the females’ liking than the males. While the gatherings after the ceremony were great for all, the actual ceremony was most important only to those who were directly involved.

At least for her it would be easier, although it would have been wonderful to have her mother here at this important time in her life. She thought that her mother would have been proud of her choice. Again, she found that now, at this present time in her life, she was missing her more. It was during this critical time in a female’s life that the wisdom of the past generation was often passed on. There would be no one to ask those important questions. This almost brought her to tears. She had always known that the mother-daughter relationship could be a close and special one, and it was one she would never have.

The shelter shook from a gust of wind and she heard something pushed across the yard by the wind and then a crash. Distracted, she got up and peered out to see if anything had been damaged, but could see nothing other than the dust and swirls raised by the wind. Looking at the dust swirls she could remember, as a whelp, laughing and running through them, dreaming that they had the strength to lift her high in the air so she could look down from the sky as a flyer. In her mind’s eye she would feel free and turn around and see that her mother would be standing on the porch watching her and smiling.

Yeah, those carefree days of youth, of being a whelp, with what you thought were great responsibilities that, of course, you wanted nothing to do with and preferred the imagination and freedom to play those games. This brought a smile to her face as she recalled those events. It was a sad smile all the same since her sire would never be around. All these thoughts were starting to put her in a melancholy mood. She found herself being both happy and sad at the same time. She also felt herself being very nervous with the unknown future that was beginning to present itself.

Now she found herself starting to second guess herself, to question everything, and to wonder if it was right. It was at that moment she remembered her father saying, “You can ‘what if’ yourself to death and that doesn’t change anything. Worry most of the time leads to nothing but problems for the worrier. So once you have honestly weighed everything that you could, then trust in your answer or solution. If things change, then at that time ,make the adjustments.” He was right, but it’s hard not to worry. This was one of those decisions that would have a major influence on her for the rest of her life.

Life in many ways is not fair. When one is young and without experience, one, many times, is required to make decisions that will have a major impact on the rest of one’s life, be it positive or negative. Because of that lack of experience and many times no one to discuss it with, who has any more experience, the choice you make can be wrong. Yet, at the time of that decision it seems right. Then after turns have passed and one has gained the necessary experience one can then look back and see the error. Which, at this time, is much too late to be able to correct it, or change the path in the direction one really had a desire to go in the first place.

She thought that indeed she was in that situation now. She had weighed all and hoped her decision was right, but at the same time having little experience in life as of yet, she hoped she would not be blind sided by something that would have been obvious to someone who had much more experience in life. She had looked briefly to her friends from her youth, and while not being able to really talk with them about it, had observed what was happening in their lives.

From the outside they both appeared to be happy with their mates and what life was giving them now. Still outward appearances could be so deceiving. What was presented to the public could be so different from what actually happened behind closed doors. And on that note – right now she was happy that she had a half-day to herself. While normally they could take a down day now and then, most of the time they were unable to make it a complete one.

Again hearing the wind gusting and the shelter shaking, it continued to take her back. It seemed that the winds, from her perspective as a whelp, were exhilarating. Again she would see herself running and giggling in the shear joy of the moment. Such a different picture of herself than the one she now saw in the looking glass. She wondered what she herself would think from a whelp’s point of view looking at her now. Would she approve or just go off running and laughing? Really not appreciating the seriousness of the near future, and its implications.

Could she ever reconcile the two of them? Herself in her youth, before the accident, running and loving what life and her imagination allowed, and the grown female about to take a mate. The one who had known so much tragedy, and in many ways, while projecting a strong façade, knew that deep down she had many doubts and weaknesses. Many that she even tried to hide from herself.

On a whim she got up and went outside to the porch, while it was still mid-spring the winds held some heat. Now from here she again traveled back in time. Only this time she became her mother watching the daughter playing and laughing in the winds. Again that sad smile came to her, and then choked up with emotion from the images in her mind she ran back into the shelter to her sleeping area and cried once again. She knew, as she had back then, that nothing would ever be the same. “Oh mother, why can’t you be here now? Now, when I really need you, and your ways,” She whispered. But, in truth she already knew the answer. Still it did not comfort the hurt she felt in her heart.

Next week I begin a new 3 part series. As the subtitle of this blog states, the posts here will be on any subject, and will reflect anything from promotion of my novels, presenting short stories for your enjoyment, and other thoughts and ideas that happen to cross my mind. Have a great weekend all!

Nostalgia, A Human Condition

Nostalgia, this is a road that we all travel. What and how we remember isn’t important, since it’s mostly about those romantic memories that bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. And many times, it only takes a certain smell, a special sound, a piece of music, or a spoken word or phrase from our past to bring it immediately to our mind, and those hidden, but not forgotten memories arise, taking us back. We know, in truth, that even those good and happy memories have parts that aren’t so happy. Yet, is it not better to dwell on the good?  Yes, we’ve all done stupid things, and too many times have paid the price for doing them. Again, even here, we can usually find something good, something that came out of the incident that brings those smiles as we shake our heads because we now know better.

What brought this to mind, was something that my wife and I was watching, and afterwards we needed to have something done that would eliminate the repetition that it presented and thusly had become stuck in our minds. So I went to our music collection and began to play a few memorable songs. All of these I have converted to the MP3 format so that they are easily accessible and easily played. It was here, listening to these old songs (old by today’s generation), and with the music, memories began to flow. For me, all the way back to junior high school and the one and only school dance I attended. It was the first time I had ever danced, and of course the first time I did this with a girl. Too many years have passed since that time to even remember who the girl was, and I’m sure that if she were to think about it, it would be the same for her. After all, at this time in one’s life we are awkward, and self conscience of what we are trying to learn. And as luck would have it, it was a slow dance. Although one did not slow dance close together, as it is now, but more towards the waltz style with one hand on waist, and other hands together. Oh what was the song you ask? If I reveal that it gives away just how long in the past this was. Okay, the name of the song is Sleepwalk, an instrumental by Santo and Johnny, released in 1959.

Is it important that we look back? Personally, I believe the answer to be yes. Whether we are doing it nostalgically, or for other reasons, it allows us to see where we’ve been, how we felt at that particular time, and be able to compare it to where we are presently. It helps ground us, and show us our personal history and what in our past may have influenced us and placed us where we presently are in life. It can give us a chance to see, in our mind, ones who are no longer with us, and may have left a lasting impression upon us. Sometimes this individual is someone who may not have known us personally, but because of the example that they left, it left an important memory for our lives.

We’ve all walked into homes, maybe our own, where there are knickknacks everywhere and each one of those items have their own story to tell. Sometimes it’s like entering a musty old museum with the smells of the home reflecting all that is present within. When one asks the owner of these items, one can see the smile that is on their face, and that distant stare as the remembrances, the nostalgia come to life in the mind of that individual. After a brief pause, after they’ve organized those memories, you hear how this became theirs, and the adventure that surrounds the item. It can change what one sees from just an ordinary everyday object to something that can be magical making it worth much more than its cost – but only to the one who has attached those special memories. In a sense when one enters such places within a home, you see that individual’s personal history before you, even though it is something that isn’t necessarily apparent.

We are all guilty of attaching affection to inanimate objects, and as our collections grow over time, we find that we’ve run out of room to store those important personal items. It is probably one of the reasons that storage facilities have arisen. Even the search and the understanding of the past is because of such objects being recovered by the archeologists. Without them, much would be unknown about the past, not that there isn’t much still to learn. It shows that nostalgia is a human condition that has always been there. Whether we go back to the time of when we were hunter-gatherers, to now, every individual had something they considered special, something that they kept, and many times was buried with them once they passed into death. These objects were so important that they were buried with them so that if there was an afterlife they would have it with them so that they could continue to enjoy its special properties.

Of course, one of the greatest items available to us for our nostalgic thoughts are those many, possibly thousands of photographs which can take us physically, as well as mentally, back to a certain moment in time. It is not unusual to see a whole afternoon disappear, as one peruses the photo albums, and riding the time machine that these images create in our minds. We see friends, long gone from our lives, family, vacations, images of ourselves in our younger years, and so much more. Each producing a memory that can be happy, warm, and fulfilling, or many that brings forth a sad memory, no more, or no less than the others in importance in our lives. After all it is both sides of this coin that makes us complete. And if photos and what they represent cannot bring us to that nostalgic mood, then, and most likely, there is nothing that can.

There is nothing wrong with nostalgia. It ties us to our past, our history, and while the memories and objects may not be important to any other, they are part of what defines us as human, as being more than those creature living out their lives, unknowing, and only existing in the now. It gives us warm memories, and emotions that help identify us as us. Makes us the individual that we are, and we will always be unique to our own. It is our personal history, it is who we are, and by attaching feelings to our memories it defines the very nature of mankind on an individual by individual basis. Providing the great tapestry that is us. Nostalgia whether what we remember is accurate or not, is unimportant, it is those memories, warm memories, that make us feel alive. After all, every day, every month, and every year that passes us by we have more personal history, and more reasons to look back, trying to understand the whys of life, and those nostalgic trips down memory lane allows us to do just that. And in the end, what more can any of us ask? May those nostalgic memories be good, may they define who you are, and remain happy throughout your life.

To look ahead – For April, I’m posting a 4 part, obviously 4 week post titled In an Emergency. Having lived through a disaster, as well as having read a few articles on the subject, I felt that I would give my take on preparedness, as an overview.

Loss and Sorrow

Life is such that we are never in the same place twice. Every day that passes presents us with new problems and new directions that we must go. As much as there is joy and happiness, we face almost as often loss and sorrow. It seems to be a part of the human condition. Many times with that loss and sorrow comes anger, deserved or not. After all, emotion is something that is quite hard to control let alone direct. It is something that we fight with all of our lives. And to be honest women have a more difficult time with it because of the hormone rollercoaster that they ride. Men are not immune, but in comparison appear to be muted, although it can and does run as deep and strong, even if not witnessed.

Life is such that we learn these lessons early and are reminded all of our days. From when you were a very young child and found your gold-fish floating in the fish bowl to that first lost of a family pet. And when you look back upon these incidents they can bring both a smile, a sad one of course, and a tear. At those young tender years it is something we do not understand, and even though our parents try to explain it, for many, what is given as an explanation doesn’t give them closure. Yet, these early incidents dealing with death and loss are the foreshadowing of things to come. After all the words , “When I was a child I did childish things, but once I had grown all of this was put behind me,” speak volumes of what we will face in life.

It still doesn’t make it easy when that loss strikes. Many times it arrives unexpected and always unwanted. If nothing else, it shows us our mortality, and this is something that most of us would prefer to leave until later, and just face life in the day-to-day grind. Here it is easy to push such thoughts far away and let the busy daily world keep our minds away from such morbid thoughts. Somewhere along the way one generally finds their life mate or soul mate. At least that is the goal for most of us anyway. And if we are lucky enough to have found that person then we feel fulfilled and willing to help our other in just about anything. We find that as time passes, and boy does it go by quickly, that we and our love for each other grow stronger and deeper.

It is during this time (for most of us anyway) that our parents begin to reach the end of their time on this world and hit us with our first really deep loss and sorrow. If the relationships between yourself and your parents have been strong then there is a sense of loss that takes quite a while to get beyond. Many times, after a parent’s death, we deal with our past at home nostalgically, remembering the romantic and good times that we had. It is a time again of family as they come together to mourn as well as celebrate the life of the one who has passed on. And for a while it is easy to fall into a minor depression as your thoughts continue to turn to that loved one that is gone. Fighting over regrets, of not saying what you needed to say while they were alive, and thinking, with some guilt, that maybe you should have spent more time with them.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, all of this is leading to the greatest loss that any of us will face, and that is the knowledge that the odds are high that one of you, you or your soul mate will pass on before the other. Leaving a devastation behind that makes all the past losses seem minor in comparison. For example, my mother was married to her husband (my father) just short of 65 years when he passed away. How do you reconcile something like that? I produced a video honoring his life, and to this day 3 years later she cannot watch it. The loss, the sorrow, the wound is still too fresh – too deep.

I know that any who face this, and most of us will, it is compounded by the fact that everywhere you look there are hints, signs, and items that tie you immediately back to your loss. It causes you to pause, to remember, to expect them (the ones who have died) to walk into that room any second, but it doesn’t and cannot happen. Still you hope that just one more time you can see them. Many times it is here that the photos and maybe a video or two will be viewed. Yet, many times when such is viewed, it immediately brings back the tears and the emotions dealing with that loss. Eventually like those wounds that heal, so does the sorrow as it diminishes with the passing of time. Leaving behind hidden scars that can surface at inopportune times, as we try to reach beyond that loss, feeling that there is something critically important missing within ourselves, and not really knowing how to replace that deep part of “you” that had been cut out. At these times phrases such as; life sucks and then you die, enter one’s mind.

Still, as the years move beyond that time and the memory dims, we move on. For it is the only way to heal, to become whole, to possibly open our hearts once again and reach out looking for another to fill that void, knowing that if one is so lucky to have it filled again that the same wounds may be opened once again in the future, but that is the chance all of us take, until we are the ones that precede the other and pass beyond this life. After all it is a door that each and every one of us must pass through in our time. Just as sorrow and loss are part of the human condition, and probably one that most of us would like to skip, but alas it is not to be. After all it is part of the tapestry of life, the dark and light threads that make us who we are. How we will react will be up to each and every one of us, and only you can decide that outcome.

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 8:16 am  Comments (1)  
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