Essay: Shit Happens

  1. My mother said, “What did I ever do to deserve this?”
  2. My wife looked at my adult son and said, “Everything happens for a reason.”
  3. The minister looked into the eyes of the congregation and said, “There is no such thing as a coincidence.”

I forget the exact contexts and situations.

To my mom I would say, “You did nothing to deserve cancer; no one does.” While there may be reasons someone gets cancer, it is not punishment for being not good enough or for being bad. However, it is no joke that a lot of people think like this because of religion.

To my wife I say that most things have a cause and effect. Many things happen due to natural causes, environments, and special situations. Some things are random and have disastrous outcomes. Shit happens.

When someone is fired from (or not selected for) a job, and they later get a much better job, that is good fortune probably assisted by the fact that the person is well qualified for both jobs and it is fortunate that they snagged the better one. The opposite also happens. While such a comforting phrase may bring minor, temporary solace; it is not true that everything happens for a (supernatural) reason. A spiritual being causing a temporary problem to bring about a happier or sadder outcome fails any common-sense test.

To the minister I say that coincidence may not mean exactly what you think it means. According to one (MW) dictionary it relates to coinciding of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have a connection. Better words might be random, arbitrary, pointless, haphazard, or desultory.

Whether one believes in a god or not, and regardless of the influence of any god, those words exist because things and happenings can be random, pointless, and desultory.

I recall reading a poem in Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones: Spiritual Answers to Psychological Questions by the late Father Benedict Groeschel. The poem of unknown authorship is titled “The Weaving.” The last of three, eight-line stanzas goes,

At last, when life is ended,
With Him I shall abide,
Then I may view the pattern
Upon the upper side;
Then I shall know the reason
Why pain with joy entwined,
Was woven in the fabric
Of life that God designed.

While the poem is beautiful and weaving as a metaphor for a life designed by a god is useful, it also points to the unknown reason for the suffering in life. It implies that we will find no reason until after death, and then only if we are in heaven with the deity who will, presumably, make it all clear. In other words, it makes no sense.

I prefer this outlook from the song “The Sad Café” by the Eagles.

***
Now I look at the years gone by,
And wonder at the powers that be.
I don’t know why fortune smiles on some
And lets the rest go free
***

Shit happens. It’s not our fault. Blame it on whatever imaginary entity you choose. That may be the only reason you ever find.

© Bill Reynolds 1/10/2019

Look both ways for the reasons in life, but don’t accept not knowing—wonder.
Mind the gaps, they are real, but may be overcome with knowledge.

Poetry – City Boy on the Farm

That Summer on the Farm

It was hard work, that summer
filled me with memories
and lessons about life,
living close to nature, those feelings,
a life lived as few city boys knew.

The smell of manure spread on the fields
the milk cow faces up-close to touch
the unlimited number of stars in the sky
first seen by me at fourteen.
Few city boys knew or saw.

The noises of the day, the life,
the tractors, lifting bales of hay
with a hook. The smells, our sweat;
and the taste of fresh raw from-the-cow, milk
and garden peas right out of the pod.
Things learnt, few city boys knew about.

The quiet of an amazingly still cool night,
the sleep of a man who is still just a boy,
the sun in the morning when the cock crows
the waking of nature and all that is life.
Amazing stuff, few city boys know.

The smoke from the fires
the good feeling of hard work finished,
the wait for tomorrow’s harvest and
the craziness of good friends.
Things this city boy soon knew.

The past not forgotten,
the touches, the pain, the
cries and the laughs all
implanted like extra brains in
my heart and my head, parts of me.
Few city boys will ever know.

And there it will stay
till one lucky day — it happens,
I’ll be back on the farm when
I’m finally a boy again, in an old man’s body.
What every city boy knows is true.

©Bill Reynolds

Look both ways in the farmer’s fields.
A man is forever a boy, so mind the gap.

Song Lyric Sunday – Boys

Helen’s theme for today is boys. I prowled through many songs about boys and by The Beach Boys and other groups with boys in the name. But I kept coming back to a song with boy in the lyrics; a song I really like: The Boxer, sung by Simon & Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon. I love the music, the story, and the lyrics. This song makes me yearn for something, but I don’t know what.

The hook lines for the prompt are in the first (‘I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told...’) and second (‘...I’m no more than a boy in the company of strangers…’) stanzas.

I selected the video because the lyrics are there and images get you through a lot of La la li, and Li la li, in the refrains. Great, great song.

 

Look both ways when runnin’ scared and laying low. Mind the gaps on 7th Avenue.

 

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

Paradoxical Love Poem

Disclosure: all is well with me. My life is fine. This is not about me, at least not now. I did not write the poem. Its attraction for me is that it abuts the paradoxical nature of love, as I see it. This post is not about anyone I know but relates to the yin and yang of human romance. I don’t know if the poem is intended to be about anyone. Although, it’s inevitable that some of us will see our own shadow somewhere in the poem. And this: I have experienced shingles even after having been inoculated against the infection, and I plan to take the new shots soon. A poem that compares love to that has my attention.

I’ve been working on two other somewhat unrelated essays on the paradox of love for a long time. For months, it has been slow going for several reasons. It’s not the writing. Getting a handle on some aspects of human nature has been a high bar for me. I may be a little reluctant to publish — not totally sure why. Furthermore, I am multi-interested, but when I try to multi-task, as we call it, I FUBAR, as we also call it.

Romance novels are big sellers, and maybe I’ll write one some day. For now, I want to write about the reality of why we are as we seem to be. Romance novels are works of fiction, but there is some reality-based reason we read them.

Why do we love when we know we shouldn’t? How can we love people who do not love back? Why does our greatest pleasure, love, hurt? Why continue loving when it hurts?

And what does sex have to do with it? Obviously, with some love it’s ruled out. In other cases, it is expected.

Then I saw this poem in The Sun magazine. Part of the paradox of love for me is the pain. The pleasure of romantic love defies description (doesn’t keep me from trying). But is it enough to endure the “love hurts” painful kind of situation? Do we love people and wish we didn’t? Conversely, are there people we don’t love, but wish we did?

I would say no, but I would be wrong. Love overpowers all forms of wisdom, logic, caution, safety, and potential for pain. We’d lie for love, we’d die for love. So many of us go into relationships having experienced the pain and suffering, and knowing what another relationship might bring. Some of us are in those painful relationships. That is what is so great about it.

When I read this poem, I thought she had nailed it. That poem reflects exactly what I am talking about when I try to put the paradox of love into an understandable and logical framework of words.

Due to copyright law, I cannot publish the poem here, but the magazine allows me to post a link to their web page.

Please click this link to the poem Loving You Burns Like the Shingles by Terri Kirby Erickson and read it for yourself at The Sun’s magazine website.

Note: The Sun allows you to view two articles per month without subscription. So, if you have already viewed two on their site, you may not be able to read the poem.

I’ve added a little youtube of the song, Love Hurts, by Nazareth. Sorry for the downer. We love to love, and love is not a downer.

 

Look both ways, to the past and toward the future.
But focus on the here and now. Mind gaps in everything.

Song Lyric Sunday – Last

Unfortunately, Helen has had a difficult week. But, bless her heart and soul, she managed to recover enough to give us today’s Song Lyric Sunday theme: Last. I glommed onto Mary Jane’s Last Dance written and sung by Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers).

The video is a bit weird in my opinion, but it’s all part of the game. Enjoy.

Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty)

She grew up in an Indiana town
Had a good lookin’ momma who never was around
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night

Well she moved down here at the age of eighteen
She blew the boys away, it was more than they’d seen
I was introduced and we both started groovin’
She said, “I dig you baby but I got to keep movin’…on, keep movin’ on”

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

Well I don’t know what I’ve been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I’m tired of screwing up, I’m tired of goin’ down
I’m tired of myself, I’m tired of this town
Oh my my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come ’cause I can’t stay long

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

There’s pigeons down in Market Square
She’s standin’ in her underwear
Lookin’ down from a hotel room
Nightfall will be comin’ soon
Oh my my, oh hell yes
You’ve got to put on that party dress
It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone
I hit the last number, I walked to the road

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

Songwriter: Tom Petty. Mary Jane’s Last Dance lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Look both ways, first and last.
Mind the gaps – consider the past.

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

 

Essay: When and What Day is it?

Writers are story tellers and researchers who dig up things after getting lost running down rabbit holes. Mix in some historian, astronomer, anthropologist, math stuff, superstition, and observation of nature and mankind, and we charge into where only rabbits need to go.

My rabbit hole excursion involved time and our (USA/European) calendar. I’ve written about this before – Christmas in August, for example. So, I did some lookin’ stuff up.

Our clock time is based on a 24-hour day, determined by one 360-degree axial rotation of the planet. Calendar time is determined by the full orbit of the earth around the sun which takes 365.256 days. The spinning and orbiting do not come out even, so we have that .256 of a day to deal with. Thus, leap year and February 29th. But there is also the problem of the .006. If you don’t compensate for that, over time, things get off. It has happened.

What gets off? Easter. We had to get a grip on Easter. The solution was a new calendar. Can you imagine?

Computing the exact date of Easter is called computus. Obtaining an accurate calendar was one time when science, or observed reality, served the needs of religion. The Church needed to fix this. So, they did. And with the help of more than one mad scientist.

No shit folks. They feckin’ lost Easta and had to hire a guy to find it!

From first being questioned in 325 AD at Nicaea, it took more than 1,200 years to fix – hundreds more to get the Greeks and Turks on board.

Most of the world now uses the Gregorian calendar named after Pope Gregory VIII. It eventually replaced the Julian calendar due to the timing error. That six thousandths of a day made a big mess. But even with all of that, since Eastern Orthodox and Protestants were suspicious of everything the Roman Catholic Church did, it took hundreds of years for the Gregorian calendar to be adopted. The Pope’s authority was limited.

To bring on the new calendar in 1582, and to get dates properly aligned, 4 October was followed by 15 October, thus jumping 11 days. For approximately 500 years the world had two calendars (really it was more) due to religious mistrust within Christianity.

 

It took almost 200 years (1752) before England made the leap and adjusted from 2 September to the 14th. Historical rumor claims there were riots in London. The last European countries to officially adopt the ‘new’ calendar were Greece and Turkey in the 1920s.

I counted 34 different calendars in use world-wide this year (2018 or MMXVIII). I learned that horology is the name for the scientific study by horologists of time and the making of time pieces/clocks. I could not find an equivalent for calendar experts.

Time (Earth’s rotation on its axis) and calendar, (Earth’s orbit of the Sun) are closely tied, but the sources of measurement are literally astronomically different. We have time zones and an international date line, but we have no such logical place to start or stop measurement of a year.

Lunar phases come into play and there are lunar calendars. The Church had to deal with them, because of Easter. I know the moon is a big deal (especially when full), but I am writing a one-day blog, not a book. Back to my point.

When does each year begin? Whenever we say it does. Tradition and Greg’s calendar say we begin each year on January first. Why? Who says so? A long-dead Pope?

Another confusion issue with the Gregorian calendar is that it was adopted proleptic, meaning that dates prior to its 1582 inception were extrapolated back in time. For a long time, dual calendar dating was common. Born on 5 October 1254? Not so fast. All that work for a good, accurate calendar.

So, what day it is may depend not only on what religion you are, but also on what sect or denomination of the religion you are, what culture you belong to, and what calendar you are using.

I am thinking of the words in the song by Chicago, with a similar title, “Does anybody really know what time it is…” Do we care what day it is? Yes.

Currently, a new year begins when we are about a week into the northern hemisphere winter. Nothing really ends or begins after 1 January, just some ‘back to’ stuff like school or work, the grind, the salt mines. It’s depressing.

The new year should begin the day after Labor Day, in early September. It just makes more sense. The first Tuesday after the first Monday (Labor Day) would be when the year begins with a four-day weekend. Just move Auld Lang Syne and all the other new year’s traditions back a few months. Football would be just beginning instead of ending. Summer would be almost done, instead of the beginnings of winter.

Fall is already the holiday season. It’s when school begins and life changes. What mo’ betta’ way to bring in the New Year?

Get rid of Columbus Day (or whatever you call it, apparently, he was a dick anyway) and make Halloween a day-off – a real holiday. Pass a law that every normal person must costume up and wear a mask. Instead of trick-or-treating, kids must sing songs for money or candy. Make the day after Halloween even more spooky. Maybe graveyard parties? Bring back Decoration Day but make it Night. Cool!

Vet’s Day is good, but can we move Thanksgiving to something other than a Thursday? If we go with Friday, we can have Black Saturday, Purple Sunday (or Advent day one), and Cyber Monday, as is.

Pass a law that every kid with a birthday in December must have a party (and a good one) in June or July. Require gifts for the first 6 years. Align all the other holidays with Christmas and Yule and make the celebrations 12 days long. Light candles. Or move Christmas to August, as I’ve previously suggested. Think of it. All those f**king Christmas decorations gone by Labor Day (another law).

After New Year’s Day, add Saint Patrick’s Day as a day-off federal holiday and call it Green Day. Require everyone to wear green, drink beer, and eat corned beef and cabbage. Have a similar day for every other immigrant ethnic group there is. If an Indigenous People’s Day is needed. I suggest May first. Wait. What day was Custer’s Last Stand? Make it late June and make Juneteenth a holiday, too.

End the school year on or before June first. Make summer work vacations 20 days long. Require everyone to travel and to spend money with friends and family and to have fun for two weeks. The other six days are for trip prep and recovery. It would be an economic stimulus of the happy kind.

We determine how this goes. We, the people, make the decisions. Pass a law making it illegal for elected government officials not to do what we want. Add a law that jails them if they do not do the things they promised to do while campaigning. Include all presidents. Demand a new government agency to determine and ensure that everyone has life (health), liberty (freedom to choose), and happiness (even if they must go to the dentist sometimes).

But first, let’s fix the damn calendar. Remember, Labor Day is the last day of the year and the following day begins the new year, no matter the date. It would dress up one Tuesday of the year for someone and she’d get all sorts of Happy New Year wishes. A lot could change, until the following Tuesday.

Have a good time. Does anyone know what day or time it is? Does anyone really care?

Look both ways regardless of the days or what culture says.
It is only 2018 if we say it is,
and there have been calendar gaps for as long as
this mote of dust has hung on a sunbeam.

The most inclusive happy holiday song ever. A fun watch, if yer up to it.

Poetry: What Love is this Love?

 

And then she kissed him.

 

Have humans always loved?
Have we always loved as we now do?

Will there always be a forever love? And
is it true – as they say, love conquers all?

What is this love, which we feel but not see?
Or do we see love? How long do we love?

What is the paradox of such love?
Is it that we have only one word
for so many different loves and types of?

©Bill Reynolds

“…I would like to beg you … to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves … to live everything. Live the questions now … then, someday … you will gradually … live your way into the answer.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903, Letters to a Young Poet.

 

For all things and every day, but most especially in love, look both ways.
The gaps will always be there — in your mind.
Live into your answers.


I wish for you and yours a wonderful holiday season.