Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions

Dear and loyal Reader,

I'm glad you're back!  As 2012 nears to a close, I've been thinking about good times and bad, reflecting on the goings-on of this year, and plotting/scheming/planning ways to make 2013 great.  What I have not been doing is making New Year's Resolutions.  Those are for suckas.

Let me explain.

Several years ago, I realized that New Year's Resolutions didn't work for me.  I realized that if there was something in my life that needed to be changed, waiting until the first of the year to change it wasn't doing anyone any good.  Especially me!  However, what I failed to do in the past was set goals-- we'll come back to that later.  So, having realized that I was no sucka, I stopped making resolutions at the start of every year.  I started along a laissez-faire path of living my dream life, doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, setting my own destiny on my own terms...

No, that's not what happened at all.  You see, I'm a mercurial person.  A friend once described my personality as "random chaos" (which I always enjoyed as a recursive double-definition).  I have a tendency to want to try everything, but I don't want to put in the effort to get "good at" anything.  The things that I am naturally good at tend to be the things furthest from my reach at a given moment--when I was in the Navy, I didn't have take many opportunities to sing.  I bought a French horn that I rarely played.  I was like a dog distracted by squirrels; anything shiny or interesting that came my way, I went after it.  I traded a washing machine for a banjo and I still don't know a single chord.  I made some collages when I was at sea, but I didn't keep any of them, and I only showed a couple of people.  I didn't write much...  So, I spent money on every passing fancy/interest/hobby that came my way, and to what end?  Nothing to show for it.

The lesson here is that while mercurial Melephants make mighty mates, we are also generally ghastly goal-setters.  Got it?

You see, the great thing about my observation years ago was that I realized that we can be agents of change whenever we want to be!  There are all kinds of wonderful quotes about change.  Here are two of my favorites:  Andy Warhol said "they always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself" and Gandhi encouraged us to "be the change you wish to see in the world".  The not-so-great thing about my observation was that I lacked the discipline and self-awareness necessary to realize that being an agent of change in my own life life is a wonderful thing-- if properly structured.  I didn't set goals.  Not solid, measurable ones, anyway.  In fact, I only started setting measurable goals for myself about five days ago.  Yikes!  I mean, look at the opening post on this blog!  At the end of that first post, here is what I said:

"So, Reader, what should you expect?  Crappy grammar, the occasional clever cut of jib, alliterative allusions, a bunch of mystic-speak, and an all-around good time.  I don't have a posting schedule.  I don't have a theme.  I just have a passion for sharing, and helping people not feel alone.  Helping people find their own Blue Bird of Happiness."

I don't have a posting schedule...  So what I basically said was "I am doing this because I feel like it right now, and I may not ever feel like it again.  I have put a bunch of words on the internet, and now I will tell my friends I am a writer.  I am awesome.  I think I'll go get stupid drunk and cry about how no one will ever read a book if I write one".

Goal setting is an important thing, but it doesn't have to be a difficult thing.  Goals don't have to be elaborate, they just have to be measurable enough for you to compare the actual result to the desired result and determine success or failure, and structured/detailed enough to guide you to the outcome.  If you're truly happy with what you've got, then your goal can be to just keep doing what you're doing!  Me though, I'm not happy with what I've got-- 2012 was a pretty rough year that could have been a lot easier if I had been better prepared.

2013 should be an interesting year for me.  I have tapped into a long-dormant motivation, and feel well-equipped to achieve the goals I've set.  Among my 2013 goals are to read 52 books in 52 weeks (I'll be keeping you up to date on my progress), and to post regularly to this blog.  I'll be updating on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I'd also like to see Melephant's Musings reach 10 followers by the end of the year, so I've made it easier to sign up for updates-- note the handy Subscribe To section under the archive!

Posting more often and begging for followers isn't some desperate cry for attention.  In the same quote (where I made fun of myself for) stating I wouldn't have a posting schedule I also said that I have a passion for sharing, and helping people not feel alone.  How the hell can I convince someone they're not alone if I abandon them for weeks (months) at a time?

Please feel free to leave a comment-- let me know what you dig.  Let me know what you don't dig.  Let me know one of your goals!  But keep those Resolutions to yourself.  Suckas.

Until Next!



PS:  Because someone will read this and point out that on a 5-string banjo G is an open chord, I feel the need to point out that I beat you to it.  I lied before; know one chord on the banjo.  It's a start!  And yes, I have gotten stupid drunk and cried and said no one will ever read a book if I write one.  Gonna write one anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

1000 miles. Or 100 books.

It's Christmas, Reader.

I'm not much for organized religion these days, but I do acknowledge Christmas. Though, I'm a cynic, and I tend to refer to it as giftmas. Really I don't do much more than put up a tree & exchange presents, eat too much fattening food, and stay in jammies all day. That is exactly how I spent this day, only add two activities: discovering I have a follower for this blog (thank you for your support, pixiekhatt), and embarking upon my journey to read through the bibliography Matheson included in What dreams May Come.  

I both started and completed my first book in the bibliography today; Reincarnation: Five Keys to Past Lives, by J. H. Brennan.  Within the 94 pages that make up this book, Brennan briefly describes several techniques that one can use to discover who they may have been in a past life.  These techniques include use of a Ouija board, hypnosis, astral travel, and deep meditation.  My overall impression is that the book presents a good trailer of things to come.  This was the teaser-- the real work comes later.  I did notice several things in this book that were directly mentioned in Matheson's work, as well as similar themes and ideas to other books I've read (Zen Physics, Conversations With God, and to a lesser degree, Awareness).  

I found the content interesting, informative even, but though I may be interested in astral travel/awareness, I don't think discovering my "past lives" would teach me much, since I remain skeptical of being able to piece together histories in this fashion.  However, if I ever change my mind, this book offers a good jumping off point!  

So why read roughly 100 books on the afterlife and reincarnation if I'm a skeptic?  Because I hope by the end of this journey, my entire worldview is blown.  I hope to rebuild my reality several times over, each time stronger.  Like scar tissue.  

Not much to say in this one, Reader.  Similar to Brennan's book, this presents a good trailer of things to come.  This was the teaser-- the real work comes later.

Until next!



By the way, credit where it's due.  A dear friend introduced me to the three books I mentioned earlier: Zen Physics written by David Darling, Conversations With God as transcribed by Neale Donald Walsch, and Awareness by Anthony de Mello.  These books have helped me get through trying times, changed the way I view the world, and forever altered how I think of myself (which is to say, though I ackowledge that this is my version of the Universe, I no longer think it revolves around me!).  It's a process.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Crayons

Reader, you're still here?  Good.

This is a question that many people have seen: If you were a crayon, what color would you be and why?  I've tossed this question around with friends in the past.  I've probably thought about it much more than I should have.  I do that, though.  Part of my charm.

So, what color crayon would you be?  Would you be brown, because you like chocolate cake?  Or perhaps you'd be burnt umber, because you like the name and no one knows what umber is when they're five years old.  Or green, for when you look at it you remember walking through dandelion-filled meadows with gentle breezes blowing.  There are many colors and many reasons for choosing them.  Your choice is yours!

Here's mine.

I would be the white crayon.

What the fu.. what!?  The white crayon?  What on earth for?  Well...  again, I've thought of this for a long time.  So first, a story.  That's what you come here for, after all.

Last night I had an experience that I've had many times before; I was ignored.  Some background and context--  Last night I attended a concert of choral music.  I'm a (mostly) self-taught singer, an amateur.  I sing for love of music, but hold no illusions about my talent and skill.  There are some videos on the interwebs of me singing-- feel free to check them out and criticize my pitch, intonation, and vowel-shapes.  I know what I sound like.  After the show, there was a small reception-- drinks, snacks, conversation.  I made a small circuit of the room, speaking to people I knew, meeting people I didn't.  Now, in the choral world of this area where I live there are "household names" and people recognized for their craft, and I (believe it, Reader) am not one of those names.  I'm okay with that!  What I'm not okay with is speaking to one of the persons known for what they do, and having someone else walk up and interrupt me.  Mid-sentence.  It's a situation that happens to me a lot.  it happens at work, it happened in school.  It's been happening my whole fucking life.  Me in mid-sentence, and someone else walking up and talking over me.  And my listener shifting their attention to the newcomer.  Dismissed, like a child.  Maybe it's because I'm uninteresting, or short (63 whole inches tall!), or I talk too much.  Whatever the reasons, I hate it when it happens.  You'd think after a few decades on this good earth I'd be over it, but I'm not that strong.  I nearly cried last night over this.

Good story, Melephant.  What's the point?  Be patient.

I was snubbed in this manner not once, nor twice, but thrice!  So I went to another room to check on cleanup.  I saw a friend who was busy, and said hi.  He asked me if I could make sure the food wasn't put away so he could eat when he was done putting stuff away.  I made him a plate, instead.  I saw someone's water bottle left behind, so I grabbed it and returned it to them.  I saw programs left behind, so I picked them up.  You know, little stuff.  Important stuff.

You see, I'm not the flashy colors in the crayon box, like neon pink or chartreuse.  I'm not the somber and stoic navy blue or royal purple.  I'm not even the reliable and familiar red, green, brown, black or orange.  I am the white crayon.  I'm the one that's mostly ignored, nice and sharp in the box, ready and willing and more than able to help bring creations to life, but unfortunately, my presence is oft-o'erlooked.  Like me, the white crayon has a special purpose.  Like the white crayon, my specialty is stepping in where others haven't noticed something needed done.  My time to shine is during the times when others don't know what to do, or don't want to do it.  Because you see, when you draw, you ordinarily draw on white paper, right?  So the white crayon doesn't do much for you...  The white crayon and I, we aren't stars.  Our talent is supporting others, making them shine.  Draw something on an egg with the white crayon before dyeing it, and watch a design come to life that couldn't have existed without the highly-specialized, unsung, mostly ignored white stick of wax.

We all have a purpose.  Mine is not an easy one to fulfill.  It's hard to be ignored, constantly, but in my heart of hearts I know, someday it will be my time to shine, albeit behind others.  Illuminating them.

I love you, Reader.  I appreciate you taking the time to read this.  And those videos I mentioned?  The links are here, somewhere.  Just read what I wrote and you'll get the hint you need.

Until Next!

I knew you'd get it!
I learned this song in two days!   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVeG3tNQHaU 
This one took longer than two days;  courtesy of Wyoming County Chorale  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUN0eH3xANE



Sunday, November 18, 2012

For in that sleep of death...


...what dreams may come...

What dreams indeed.  It's been a long time, Reader.  I told you to expect as much.  No posting schedules for this, hrm, writer.  We'll go with that title.

I've been trying to come up with ideas for this blog.  My original intent was to just have it be a collection of things that I find interesting, worth putting into the world.  Unfortunately, I'm gripped by crippling insecurity and self-doubt, and every time I sat down to write something, I wondered what people would think, and I convinced myself that "people" would hate it.  Avert your eyes, younglings, when I say Fuck That.

I have better ideas now, something I can do with this thing.  However, because of my mercurial nature, I don't think sharing my ideas is wise.  Better to just follow through with actions (meaning posts), and let you figure the ideas out for yourselves.  Yourself.  How many people read this thing anyway...?

So why the Shakespeare quote?  It contains a movie title.  

In a period of approximately ten days, I had three separate conversations about the movie What Dreams May Come.  The conversations weren't important to this story.  Hell, I barely remember two of them!  I'd seen the movie years ago, and I liked it.  I loved it.  It's a wonderful love story, one that explores the boundaries of life and death, Heaven & Hell, the concept of soul-mates, and the types of love ranging from familial to romantic to platonic.  I knew the movie was based on a book, but I’d never read it.  Well, gentle and patient Reader, I have read it now. 

The movie version of this story was great, but it wasn’t the same as the book.  The novel What Dreams May Come was written by Richard Matheson in 1978.  If his name sounds familiar it’s because he wrote I am Legend, countless short stories, and he writes for movies and television.  Back to Dreams though…  It.  Is.  Timeless.  Simply timeless.  And what’s more amazing is his claim that the only thing fictional about the story is the “characters and their relationships”.  He includes in his novel an extensive bibliography that he encourages his readers to read.  How extensive?  Seventy-one authors, some of them with more than one title on the list.  It’ll take me years, years, to finish reading this stuff.

Sigh.. I’m tired and getting distracted.  What makes this book so timeless is the simple way of conveying such a heavy, complex concept as “afterlife”.  It’s a beautiful portrayal of what happens after we die, but not just that either.  In the book you’ll find what love is.  You’ll find what emotions are.  You’ll find that thought is reality—thoughts are everything.  You’ll learn where inspiration comes from.  The ways the Universe (or your name for God) touches us.  I can’t say more, for fear of robbing you of the thrill of discovery, of the excitement of reading the book for yourself.  And if you’ve seen the movie and feel that suffices, please know that you’re wrong.  I can’t be nice about it.  Just read the book and have your mind be blown, albeit in the best of ways.

Again, I’m tired, and distracted, and now losing my nerve.  I don’t think I said what I set out to say, but I can’t let that stop me.  I’m posting this.  I have to post something, don’t I?

Until Next.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Apparently nothing is original anymore..

Hello, Reader,

It has come to my attention that there is another blog called Melephant's Musings.  Wasn't my intention to step on any toes..  elephantine or otherwise.  Really, the way it came to my attention was through my own curiosity of whether my blog would come up if I searched for it with my Google machine.  Turns out it does come up, and so does the other one.  At least so far, I'm not getting any hate mail or anything.

On to what this post is actually about.  Alphabet Stories!!!

Write a story, 26 words long, starting with a word that starts with A, then B, and so on.  It's effing rad and very difficult.  I'll start.  I expect any wayward readers to provide a response (even just an attempt) in the comments section!

(throat clearing noise)

Another bleak, cloudy day.  Every forecast, gloomy.  How is joy killed!  Lasting melancholy, no one providing quick release.  Sigh.  The ugly vistas whirl.  Xanax!  You're zen...

So, that ended up being kind of depressing, and more of a badly formed poem than a story..  But try it out!  It's very fun, and quite challenging.  Maybe next time I'll write alliterative allegories...

Until Next!



Sunday, May 6, 2012

First!

Hello, Reader!
I suppose I should start this thing out by telling you what to expect from this blog.  I should start that way, but I won't.  Instead, I'm going to tell a story.


I sometimes experience moments of peace where I feel completely connected to everything, at one with the Universe.  These moments are exciting, humbling, and things of true beauty.  I dig them.  Today, I had one of these moments as I was driving home.


The sun wasn't very high in the sky, and the new springtime growth on the trees was an electric green against a slate-blue sky.  The tree trunks were a little wet from rain, so they looked black.  The contrast of colors was breathtaking.  Despite the beauty around me, I was feeling pretty low.  It happens, eh?  As I was driving and taking in all of the sights, I was listening to the Scorpions' cover of Across The Universe.  I love the song, but I never paid any attention to the lyrics...  For some reason, today of all days, just when I needed it most, one line in the song caught my attention.  "Limitless undying love/ which shines around me like a million suns/ it calls me on and on across the universe".


Before I could react to the well-timed lyric, a blue bird flew across the road, right in front of me.  I only saw its back and wings, but like the other colors in the woods this morning, the hue was intense.  I hardly had time to consciously process what I had seen, or to try and identify what type of bird it was, when I had the idea (though it didn't feel like it came from me!) that I had just seen the Blue Bird of Happiness...


Usually in this type of situation, I cry.  I feel overwhelmed by the magic and majesty of the Universe, I feel humbled to be a part of it, and I let the tears flow.  No shame.  Today though, there were no tears.  Instead, I felt a calm responsibility, a calling.  A purpose.  I felt a quiet strength.. not the kind of strength needed to endure a hardship, nor the kind needed to lead people.  More like the kind of strength needed to know something, and be brave enough to communicate it...  The strength of the mystic, or the visionary.  Of the Dreamer.


My storytelling skills don't do the experience justice, but I think that moments like these happen to everyone, you just have to be willing to notice them, and open enough to recognize them for what they are.  The Universe speaks!  We just need to get out of our own way and listen.




So, Reader, what should you expect?  Crappy grammar, the occasional clever cut of jib, alliterative allusions, a bunch of mystic-speak, and an all-around good time.  I don't have a posting schedule.  I don't have a theme.  I just have a passion for sharing, and helping people not feel alone.  Helping people find their own Blue Bird of Happiness.


Until Next!






(By the way, The Scorpions are badass, and you should check them out.  Across the Universe was written by John Lennon of The Beatles.  It is an amazing song, and like many masterpieces, is said to have been given to him by some kind of force, rather than written by him.  Jai Guru indeed.  The Blue Bird of Happiness is a myth or a legend or a history with several meanings in several different cultures.  Like all the best stories, it means something different to everyone.  It's a symbol that's been used for many years, in many places.  My favorites are the movie K-PAX (watch it), and the book Illusions, by Richard Bach.  Though to be fair, the book only mentions it as a feather.  But still.)