Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, How I see the World..., Life

Happy New Year_2020!

Happy New Year!

    Good Morning and Good Day to thee all!!  A bit late, perhaps for some tastes, for such greetings (either in the day or year… take your pick or both), but I offer the first [title] (usually) until the end of April, and the latter all day long, wherever I am!  Besides, I’ve been more than a bit lax in my posting, so such Greetings are overdue anyhow!  😛

    I’ve had many reasons and occasions as of late, to be an observer of the world around me.  And a Beautiful, tragic, big bit of Life, is there, out there, to be observed!  I am Blessed, that I have within the last 2 years, and for nearly 7 years before, been incarcerated!  Not that there is anything of Good report in the fact of being imprisoned, but in some of the consequences thereof (and not including the Blessing(s) daily of remaining alive in a highly volatile environment)!

Case-in-point, I appreciate with delight the sound of birds, and the song of the wind through the leaves of the trees!  And though I was a nature Lover before my incarceration began, having been deprived of so much as touching a tree (and for about half the time even seeing a tree was not possible), my appreciation for Nature is now a thousand-fold what it was, and I am no longer as comfortable away from Nature (“in the city”) as I was, either!  It’s amazing the ways in one can be “broken”… and startling allthemore that we continue to go to such lengths with such glee, and a sense of pride that “justice” is being done!

It is astonishing to me, that we are so quick to judge, and so slow to understand.  One would think of most “devout” religious/spiritual folk as being predisposed to the latter over the former… one would think!  But reality paints a far different picture.  Where is the understanding of not only religious organizations, but business and government conglomerates as well, when the inmate/convict is released back into a society that says it’ll give you a second chance, but the reality is so much lip service as to make recidivism appealing to the weakest and most powerless among us!  Why fight the system, when you can ‘do what you want’ on the “outside” ‘til you get busted, then be given a (albeit for me most undesirable) routine/program to -again- do (or not) what you want, minus the “dangers and pitfalls” of trying to be a part of a system/society that not only rejects you, but profits from your/our poverty and recidivism!  The entire system, benefits financially from our incarceration!!  It/They depend upon it!!!

    As it is the dawn of a new year, and as we near the blooms of Spring, it is time to reflect upon what it’s taken to get us here… what we truly hold dear and/or give importance… and decide what path we are going to take.  As winter’s frost and dormancy give way to Spring’s fresh starts, and the awakening of that which has slumbered and survived through a cold, long winter, and all that has transpired in the dark times, comes to light as the days grow longer!

Rivers forged anew, Trees fell/survived, all of Nature begins with a shift towards Life, and away from death!

    Where are we going?  With all the amazing advancements we’ve seen in technology, we’ve not ever been further behind in our ability(ies) to relate one to another!  Why is that?  Any therapist/group worth their salt, is going to tell you the value of effective communication (rooted in effective listening)!  And how utterly necessary it is to any sustainable relationship!  So why have we fallen so short?  Why, and how are we failing each other so miserably???  We are capable of sooo much more, if on no other level than empathy!  There is absolutely no reason why we couldn’t divert every one of our scientific/technological endeavors, immediately, from Life threatening/endangering to Life promoting pursuits!  Overnight!!  No jobs lost, in fact, there would be a great enough demand for all positions, to employ every able-bodied man, woman, and child on Earth!  …If we were serious about it.  If we really wanted to end suffering on Earth.  If we were serious about changing the direction we were going, and not repeating the mistakes of the past… but we’re not.  We’re consuming resources and destroying/covering up our only habitat faster than She can recover!!

    If you haven’t noticed, our Mother (that Earth we live upon) is screaming at us to STOP doing what has already caused irrevocable damages to our climate and ecosystems!  If we wait any longer to act, we may not survive!  And our connection to our Mother plays a direct part in our own Happiness, Health, and Well-being!  We can have NONE of those without Her!  We have/share a symbiotic relationship with every Lifeform upon this planet! When It/She/They are Healthy, so are we!!  When It/She/They are barely hanging on to Life, so are we!!  She provides the ONLY source of sustenance any Life form on Earth has!!!  If we destroy Her, and continue to allow her to be raped for her wares, there will soon be nothing left for anyone/thing!  And it is NOT because there isn’t enough now, it’s because we waste 2/3 of it all!!!!

    I’ve plenty to say about the pitfalls of social media and technology, but little that hasn’t already been voiced by those “more professional” than myself.  It is appalling to me that we, as a society, have allowed ourselves to be led to a place where it’s okay that we know longer teach our children the skill of writing!  And communication/language is quickly deteriorating into a small collection of acronyms and emoji’s.

    At a time when it is so very important that we communicate, and understand one another, there is little surprise to me that the adversary has so effectively crippled the very means by which we do so.

    Make no mistake, there are no works of man that have not been infiltrated by dark forces!  What are the end results of what we produce?  Greed?  Domination?  Waste?  Destruction?  Death?  If any or all of these receive a “yes”, you may “unwittingly” be working for the wrong side.  Here’s a simple test:  Does what(ever) you do promote, or discourage, Life?  I’m not talking profit margins, or net depreciation vs. total value of output.  Does your work, and/or do your efforts, promote the furtherance of all Life on Earth, or the deterrence of [all] Life on Earth?

    You see, whether you choose to Believe it or not, we do have, and are a part of a symbiotic relationship with all the rest of the Life and resources upon this planet!  When we act selfishly, we are acting to the detriment of the Life around us.  When we act for the benefit of the Life around us, it is then able to act for our benefit!

    We are but a miniscule part of a much bigger cog, but our intellect -should- afford(s) us the opportunity to help and encourage on astronomically grande scales, the Life around us!  And we have in our (humanity’s) possession, the starts of several hundred, if not thousand such technologies available now!!  …But instead, we’re using them for destruction.  Or not using them at all.  Wasting not only the God/dess given talent(s), but the Life(ives) it could be saving and/or making better!  Example:  Look up research DARPA and the FDA have done on a fruit from the Philippine’s called Sour Sop.  A fruit 1000’s of times more effective at killing cancer than chemotherapy, but because they are unable to synthesize, and thereby profit from it, nothing has been done with it!  In fact, they’d rather we not know about it at all, but, you know, that little thing called the Constitution (what’s left of it) and Truth in Reporting, they couldn’t not publish the research.  Instead, they just won’t talk about it, and don’t make it any easier to locate!

    Why then, when we could/should be making Life better for all, are we instead doing all we can do to kill each other and the planet we all live on???  What sense does that make?  We’re smarter than that!!!  …Right????

    Though I know the Truth is “yes”, I really wonder about us sometimes.  How could the joke of a man we have as “leader”, ever become elected?  Well, Truth is, he wasn’t!  But, that truth has been known from the start, and nothing’s been done about it…  We couldn’t even get the criminal impeached!!  We are the laughing-stock of the globe, people!  Wake up!!  Or the chances of doing so may quickly disappear…

Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, How I see the World..., Life

Displaced Intentions

  We are living in an age of technology.  We are also living in an age of information.  We are inundated by them.  And they are growing and multiplying together at staggering rates.  And we are more disconnected from Life, and each other, than we’ve ever been.

  In the 1995 film Powder, Albert Einstein is attributed with the phrase, “It’s become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.”  Whether he said it or not (and personally, I think it likely he did), it is becoming more and more true every day.

  How is it we can download terabytes of information on to a drive the size of my thumb, but struggle ceaselessly to express, honestly and clearly, how we feel to “Loved Ones”??  We’re not only losing touch with our fellow human beings, but with our Mother Earth, who sustains us continually, despite the atrocities we’re committing to/upon her!  And our Heavenly Father, who Inspires us to greatness in every moment, regardless of the impurity of  our minds?

  We are losing touch with all that is important, and filling our Lives, and the space(s) we live in with things that matter not at all to our survival!  In fact, nearly ALL that we are presently about, is destructive to our well being, and a detriment to the survival of our children, and if we are not quick to change, the very existence of humanity.

  Have we become so narrowly focused on the acquisition of “stuff” that we cannot see the damage we are doing?  Have we been so far removed from our emotions that we are numb to the pain and suffering our inaction is causing at alarming rates?  And not just to ourselves, but to BILLIONS of our sisters, mothers, daughters, brothers, fathers, and sons?

  what Good is there in tracking the “time” we spend working, when we fail to treasure the moments we share with each other (physically, not digitally)?

  Our moral compass has been shattered.  Our values misaligned.  We are losing more quickly than we are gaining, our sense of right and wrong, and the very basic desire to see things done rightly!

  What happened?  I’m not yet that old, and not yet too old to remember, when -Deity- came first, then of the Earth Family(ies), then Friends, then all else!  Swear and curse words were not heard on television, and vile/crude jokes weren’t the standard for “comedic discourse”.

  We are losing track of what matters most.  Love!  And from it, Life!  And in losing them, we’re losing every bit of happiness we used to sing about, in Praise and in delight.  In the war against apathy/evil, we are not just losing, we’re giving up!  How can this be??

  Life is so precious, so fragile, so fleeting, and we’re wasting it!  Constantly looking for “new and improved” ways in which to take it, to make others miserable through it.  How many trillions in currency are we spending on saving our planet?  On saving the human race?  We’re spending that much on its destruction!

  How many people have you complained to today, about some aspect of your existence?  How many people have you hugged, and told them you Love them?  Have you hugged a tree today, in gratitude for the air you breathe, because of it?  Or the shade it offers?  Or the fruit?  When’s the last time you smiled and greeted a stranger passing you by, just because?

  There isn’t much any of us need during these short lived mortal experiences.  Love, Sustenance, shelter.  That’s it.  And there’s PLENTY of each,  for each and every one of us, if we are but willing to share!

  We cannot, we will not survive, if we don’t do it together!  As yet another old saying goes, “Together we stand!  Divided we fall!”  We’re all in this together.  If we do not learn from the mistakes of the past, we will continue to repeat them!  Only this time, we’ll be eliminating our future as well!

Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, Life

Dietary Choices…. How I started Choosing The Right!

  Good Morning!  And Good day to thee all!  A new post, for a new beginning.  The beginning of the future.  Of the more open, transparent me.  Of the me I’ve always been, yet continue to try to be better at…

  One of the first things I did (have done), in my efforts to become a Life-conscious Human-being, was ceasing to eat chocolate that was not, IS not, fair-trade.  Some 20 plus years ago, in a land far, far away, in the middle of a Life lived long ago, with someone no longer present therein, I discovered (and, to be fair and honest, it was my ex- who brought this knowledge to my attention), that 90% of the worlds chocolate was produced by, and the direct resultant product of slavery, and/or slave labor!

  Processed on the Ivory Coast, everything from milk chocolate to coco-butter (used in many things, including the making of “white chocolate”).  The other 10%, known as fair-trade, is the only kind of chocolate I now eat, and the only kind I’ve eaten since that day so long ago!

  The real tragedy is, is that in all the years I’ve known of it, talked of it/about it, I can count on one hand (with fingers left over) the number of people who have joined me in my crusade to combat this wrong, including those whom I’ve told that one might expect to have more interest in changing this ongoing wrong than others!!  {I speak of those whose skin is darker than my own, and only bring it up as a writer, providing a detail that cannot be gleaned without a reference…  This fact is NOT something that matters to me particularly, but for context.  Not because there is any more relevance to one human-being versus another… at least there shouldn’t be!!!}  The fact that so few have shown they care, in over 20 years of relating this information, has been an eye opener, if not disheartening, heartbreaking, and a cause of many tears having been shed, as I consider the wretched state of us all!  We are near ripe for destruction, save we repent!

  But this is not new information.  It is ages old, prophesied of and about many times, recorded time and again, by prophets both revered and hunted!  When profit margins are worth more to us than the people(s) whose labor, blood, sweat and tears it is gained from, we are ready for destruction.  When, for the sake of “ease”, Good people do NOTHING, despite knowing of injustice(s) being done, inhumane practices, direct slavery even, then is when the adversary gains his victory!  There is probably not much I could tell you of our wrong doing(s) that you are not already aware of, and yet it continues.  Because the “Good” people do nothing, and the adversary becomes stronger.

  What can we do to change this?  DO SOMETHING!!  STOP eating chocolate that isn’t fair trade!  STOP ignoring the homeless!  STOP enabling slave/sex traders by ignoring their existence!  STOP being complacent in the face of tyranny!  STOP letting other people choose leaders for you by not voting!!  Exercise your God-given, constitutionally protected rights, while you still can, while you still have them!  Repent ye ends of the earth, lest destruction swiftly comes upon us all!

Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, Life

Too Much, or, Not Enough?

  Good day to thee all!  Yet more time has passed, much more than desired for a blogger, since last I posted.  I’ve been suffering a bit from “writer’s block” if you will.  So I will do my best to make up for it with quality, as quantity does not seem to be forthcoming!  LOL

  My Birthday was not that long ago, and as I am wont to do on my Birthday, I spent the day evaluating my present, comparing it with the past (only for the sake of -hopefully- measuring growth), and plotting a course for the future!  This blog of course, having a part therein.

  And my current “trap”, or “time-suck” if you will, has been digital in nature, the many venues by which we “connect” with our fellow humans these days, as “personal”, face-to-face relationships are on the decline!

  And thus my question, is it a case of  “Too much…” digital input, ease in access, accessibility to the ‘fake’, and therefore free of real obligation or commitment?  Or is it “Not enough…” time, Positive feed back, ‘real people’, allowing for a desire for something “digital”, knowing it is more than likely not original, not real, not personal, not committal in any manner?

  One could add any number of adjective/verb combinations to the above list or lists, but the results wouldn’t vary much.  We’ve gotten so far away from personal, real, in-Life interactions, that it’s simply too easy, too desirable, too alluring, too safe to bother with the time-tested, time-proven, time-based, long lasting relationships of yesteryore!  It’s time for the new, the fake, the ever changeable, ever replaceable, short-term, non-committal, non-proven, non-existent relationships of the future!  Today it’s all about the be as fake (or as real) as you want, never mind the risk (’cause there’s so little chance of it mattering), it’ll all be over in the morning so you can try it all again with someone new at light speed whoever you want to pretend to be reality!

  Have we really come so far in our technology?  Have we really digressed so much from our humanity?  How ironic that a character in a movie (played by Jeff Goldblum) quoted so prophetically more than 20 years ago (in the film Powder), “It’s become appallingly clear, that our technology has surpassed our humanity!”  Guess what?  It was said originally by Albert Einstein, nearly (if not more than) 100 years ago!!!  What’s it say about us, that this has not only NOT improved, but gotten worse, and become more true since then!?!?

  Heaven help us if AI ever does decide to wipe out the virus that is humanity, in an attempt to save ourselves from ourselves!  We’ve already put most of our Lives into a digital box to “escape” the harsh reality(ies) of the “real world”, would we even notice if some AI decided we’d wasted enough of this planet away, and started systematically removing us from our USB charged ports??  I wonder…

  We, the human race, face a plethora of Life-threatening issues!  From Global Warming/Climate Change, to Genocide en mass, to the decay of moral values and Family ties, to our very ability to relate/communicate one-with-another without a digital interface!  Technology is a great tool, and has many Positive possible applications for the betterment of our species.The problem is, we’ve become not only dependent upon it, we’ve begun replacing RL with it!  THIS MUST STOP!!

  If it doesn’t, there’s little chance that we as a human organism upon the planet Terra, will see even the devastation our own practices of waste, pollution, and stripping of our natural resources will cause!  And something akin to the Matrix will “shelter” us all from the Real World we’ve enabled!

Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, Life

My Crazy Life… Or the Last Decade Thereof [Part IV]

Herein lies the long awaited final chapter.  I must apologize, for I don’t know that the congruity I had hoped for exists.  If not, please let me know where and why not, and I’ll correct as I’m able.  I’ve been away from my writing too long, and it’s looonnng past time that I get back to it.  Life is funny that way.  It’ll get in the way of whatever it is you want to do, if you let it.  And we usually do, then try to blame some outside source for the distraction.  The fault is my own.  I have failed to budget my time appropriately, and the one thing I want to/like to do most, is the thing that suffered.  No one ever says they want to fail, yet we let Life’s distractions dictate to us our actions, instead of the other way around.  This is what I’ve done.  But I know I am to blame.  It’s all too easy to do.  And “ease” is the gold-standard these days.  If it’s “hard“, we want little or nothing to do with it.  Well, guess what?  Nothing of the best things in Life are easy, if they were, they wouldn’t be the best!  They’d be (as so much is today) mediocre.

I am no fan of mediocrity.  It doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t think “…It’ll do!”  We are all meant to shine, and why wouldn’t we want to shine as brightly as we are able, for as long as we’re able??  I do!  And that’s how I choose to Live my Life!  When I blunder, it is by no small degree!  Contrariwise, I hope to begin adding to that very long list of failures, some absolutely amazing successes!  One day, one hour, one minute, one second, one moment at a time, that is just what I’ll endeavor to do!

Ready?  Grab a comfy spot, it’s not short!  LOL  Here it is…

The incarceration experience itself, was -again- as close as I ever want to come to a “living hell”.  I was more “out of my element” than I’ve ever been in my Life.  And I’m used to being the odd man out!

I was more alone than I’ve ever been, with but a handful of people (over the course of the entire imprisonment) that I would and/or want to socialize with.  I had nothing in common with 95% of the other “inmates” (…inmates is one of two distinctions made “in there”;  “Inmates” are those (now the majority) who took a plea bargain at some point, avoiding trial.  Mostly the youngsters, void of any sense of responsibility or ownership for/of their action(s).  A “convict” was one who had gone to trial and been convicted),the older generations,  -generally- taking ownership of their action(s), and took care of their own business.  Convicts tend(ed) to be more responsible, less meddling, more mindful of and considerate of others and other’s spaces.  So, though I remained friendly, I did not socialize much, if at all.  Had it not been for the previously mentioned programs, I would have completely isolated myself, and at times, I did.  The only exception to the commonality, was of course, our mutual incarceration.

My first 7 months were spent in “the hole”, a predicament, I was told (by the Sergeant in charge only after the fact) that was inflicted upon me because they (the C.O.’s) were concerned about my “mental state”…  Mind you, they had no cause  to have this concern, but this was the excuse proffered.  This was how my incarceration was to begin, and truth be told, it was more damaging to my “mental state” than being sent straight to the “GP” (General Population) would have been.  But I did not make an issue of this fact, because I wanted as little to do with the “governing body” as possible!  A truth I learned while in the military:  The fewer [of those in charge] who know your name after you’re gone, the better off you were!  And in fact, the similarities between prison life and the military are staggering {Sorry military, but it’s true!}.  But again I digress….

Being in “the hole”, you are completely isolated from all human physical contact, and most interaction(s) therewith!  You get (at Yolo County Jail, others may do things slightly differently… such as give you not an hour a day, but 7 hours divided among two or three instead, for the “time out” you’re given is mandated, not how they give it to you) one hour per day, to shave/shower, make a phone call, and spend time in/on the yard (an octagon shape it took me 43 steps to walk completely around)!

Obviously, you usually didn’t get it all done in your time, so you scheduled your time per day.  One day shower and make a phone call, next day walk and phone call (if you had someone available, and willing to take a collect call at whatever your time out was).  At Yolo County Jail, those times rotated throughout the week, and weren’t the same twice in a month.  This too was a tactic, employed to keep you off balance, unrested, “penalized” for whatever offense “they” perceived as a “just” reason for putting/keeping you in the hole.

Truly and completely out of my element, I turned to the one and only escape I had available to me;  Books!  Throughout my incarceration, I read in excess of 370 books, of varying genres and styles.  Scriptures, poetry, autobiographies, self-help, fiction, narrative non-fiction, biographies, sci-fi/fantasy (one of my favorite), tech manuals, I even read -and studied- college text books, with and without the accompanying course(s)!

Until I arrived at San Quentin, and actually spent a greater portion of my time “programming” (anything that is considered/conducive of self-improvement is called this), it’s just about all I did.  From the time I got up, ‘til the moment I went to bed (which was at random times of the day/evening depending on my dictated schedule), I had my nose in a book, and my brain far far away!

It may be the only thing that kept me from losing it!  I’ve always enjoyed reading, and being given such an immense amount of “time” in which to do so, I did!  LOL

It hid me from, and/or gave me an excuse to pretend I was hidden from, all the evils that went on around me.  And there were many.  violence was a common occurrence,  often one inmate against another.  Rarely, someone tweaking hard enough would brave acting out against a C.O., and that never went well for them!

Drugs of course, and plenty of them.  Food bought either through a quarterly package, or from the “canteen” was a favorite currency.  And cell phones aplenty!

We’ll discuss the sources another time, when I’m a little more at liberty to say…  By and large though, prison is a great place to go if you’re looking to hone your skills in criminality, or, more likely, learn/hear from another inmate the way they did it, or should have done it.  Then when you get out you have something new to try!!  Well, sort of.  It is rarely spoken (ironically), but it is the very act(s) that landed them there that they talk about most.  So, if it didn’t work for them, why do you think it would work for you??  Hmmm…

But logic is all but lost on the majority of the incarcerated (and too many of those in charge).  The entire system is rigged against them, often for little more cause than having been born/raised in an impoverished state, and has become so effective at keeping them there, that many of them are convinced that there is either no way out, or no better way!!  Seriously!!

The average education level in prison is 5th grade!!  That’s an average, which means that everyone with a 6th grade education or greater (about 1% of the prison population has a 12th grade or higher level of education), are actually raising the average to that level!!  The problem is systemic!  The entire system from the bottom up, and top down needs fixing, and public opinion right along with it!

Once more I digress, but it actually adds some context for you.  I have had a “13+” level of education for… more than half my life at this point.  So “relating” to the “General Population” was, for me, difficult to the extreme.  Ethically and Morally, as well as “educationally”.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means saying that all or even a majority of the uneducated are morally bankrupt, or “bad”, but what I am saying is that lack of education is one of the most serious problems in the United States, and it’s only getting worse, and the repercussions more numerous.  Poverty is the next most serious problem here in the U.S., and it too is only getting worse, and the -negative- repercussions more numerous.

Therein lies the heart of the problem.  The (majority of the…) wealthy don’t care.  The prison industrial complex is one of the biggest cash cows on the market, and everyone at the top is getting the biggest piece(s) of that shepherd’s pie!

Again with my digression(s)…

The horrors I witnessed are things that the “average” law abiding citizen only sees on t.v., and each one drove me a little deeper into my shell.  Had to!  No “sane” person can take such an abundance of illegality and violence, and not crack, one way or the other.  And by-and-large, the majority succumb.  Even some of the most God-fearing, religious, spiritual people I knew “in there”, had either participated in and/or supported it at some point or another.

Scripture(s) and books, primarily, were my salvation.  Scripture reading helped to deepen a Faith that had already been given a mega-boost during my Journey, and “regular” reading kept my mind busy on all things non-religion related.  Although, I could argue that religion is related to all things, I won’t… not here anyway.

My Faith, above all else, was my saving grace.  While I was in County Jail, and then at reception (D.V.I., Tracy), I had no source other than my own studies (possible by the fervent efforts of the -then- Bishop of the Davis 1st Ward [Thank you again, Travis!  All that you did meant, and means the world to me!!]), and this was invaluable to me!  I spent much of my time reading, rereading, pondering, and Praying about what I’d read.  I came to know the Book of Mormon better than ever before, and it Inspired me to continue to push through, regardless of what happened.

Once I got to Avenal, I was able to (re)establish services there, but for the duration of my time there (a little more than 5 months), I was the only attendee (I had met a couple of members on “my” yard, but they were usually busy doing other things… like working out).  This was fine by me, as I was able to get “alone” time I hadn’t had in more than 2 years, and study the scriptures in relative peace and quiet!

Upon my arrival at San Quentin however, I  had a community of people, fellow members, and outside volunteers, who truly enriched not only my study, but my Life, and they are a continuing and active part in my Life now (Thank you!  You know who you are!)

Reading “fun” books (not for school or religion) was my other go-to sanity saver, a good way for me to escape the world around me.  Many authors’ worlds consumed my attention, among them J.D. ROBB, Jim BUTCHER, Patrick ROTHFUSS, Brandon SANDERSON, LIU Cixin.  These author’s worlds transported me away from it all, and enabled me to be where I wanted to be… anywhere but there.

Despite it all, and by the Grace of God, the lions were kept at bay, and the only thing left of that time for me is the fading memory, the few Good people I want to keep in touch with, and the mental (social) issues that arose from (almost) 7 years of incarceration.

 

And now I’m on the outside.  My Life (and rightly so) will never be the same.  One cannot come from so long a stay in such an institution and remain the same, unless they have no desire to change.  And though I’d already had an appreciation for Life, for “liberty”, for ALL the beauty that surrounds us, it is exponentially more so now!  When forced to witness such ugliness, and having no other options for your time and attention, the yearning to make a difference, to show the world that a rose CAN grow amid a world of concrete, asphalt, and concertina wire!

I don’t know how well I’ve told this chapter of my Life.  I have plenty of room for improvement… as a writer I will always seek to improve.  To be more, to do more, to Live and to share that Living with more!  In some regards, the last ten years have been a blur.  In others, especially during that time of incarceration, it is/was the longest of my Life.  And I am Grateful. And humbled to the extreme.  That I sit now, on “the other side”, typing/writing this to you all, to say, I am here!  I am alive, and I Love all of my 7 + billion brothers and sisters, whether we see eye to eye or not!  And if not, let’s talk.  Let’s discover what it is about our differences that may cause conflict, and avoid that conflict, for our differences are what make us individuals.  And it is our individuality that unites us all, all seven billion of us, for it is what makes us human!  It is the single factor that does not change, but, that if appreciated, and not scorned, can help us all to grow in the midst of concrete, into the blossoming flowers we were all intended to be!  For we are more similar than not, we all have the same three basic needs; Love, Food, Shelter.  And in that order!  We all want Peace, and the freedom to live out our lives in harmony with our Loved ones, our kin, our Friends.

Adversity is but a teacher, and if we so choose to learn from it, instead of fighting against it, we can all appreciate the ease a little more when it comes.

Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, Life

Interruptions…

Hello world!  I know there’s been a long pause already in my multi-part Blog (“My Crazy Life…” Parts I, II, and III respectively, so far), and a huge gap in time since my last post (for which I apologize), but I’m a Wordsmith, and as such, I gotta get what’s in my head out, or it hurts!  LOL  The irony is that this too is variable, as with “My Crazy Life…”, which, remains a niggle in the back of my mind, but is not (yet) screaming for release.  It’s the screamers that you have to take care of right away, or everything else just gets jumbled, which can lead to a plethora of other issues.  In “Real Life” as well as in your (my) writing!  LOL

So here is what’s screaming at me now…  As “fate” would have it, it’s not completely unrelated to “My Crazy Life…”, so hang on to your gents, your ladies, your hats, it may get turbulent ahead…

It is astounding to me, that we (as a society) have developed (not just created, but developed, over several hundred years) a system that says publicly, openly, and often, its goal/priority is to correct, rehabilitate, “fix” even, those members of said society that act criminally, with full public support!  And yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only is that not their goal/priority, but in fact they do/practice just the opposite.  The entire system is set up to demoralize, humiliate, ostracize, and increase the number of recidivists for a maximum of profit.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in whole or in part before, but I say it now because of “the system’s” effect on me, one who doesn’t fit in to their neat little (or large) classification(s) of criminals they have.  Who, because of my “unique” situation/self/mentality, was able to take in what I saw, and instead of becoming yet another categorical example for them to neatly file under “This is why we must do what we do, and continue doing it!”, I now cringe at just how unjust it really is/has become!  I reel at the thought that, they, unbeknownst to me until now (“now” being relative to the time since my release), were able to so completely brain wash me I am struggling to reintegrate into the society I left being whole.

And it of course does not help that society itself has its own set of stigmata for “convicted felons”, regardless of whether or not you “rehabilitated” or not.  Once so labeled, nearly everything becomes more difficult!  Getting a job, a car and/or loan, a house/apartment… anything that has or requires in its path to acquisition a background check.

I am now damaged goods.  Not at all who or where I want to be in Life, with bigger obstacles in my way now than there were when I was simply homeless.

Please don’t mistake my stating of the situation as a sign of an ill-mood, or one of shame or regret.  It is not!  As I so often like to say/point out, I am, have been, and continue to be so very very Blessed!  The reality of my situation is not (for me) a detractor from my demeanor, but something I’ve observed (am observing) of the challenge(s) that I now face in attempting to again be the me I have so long wanted to become.

And these external influences in lieu of an inaccurate labeling is frustrating, to say the least.

Let me also make the detraction that, I stand in my own way as well.  Old habits (such as procrastination) linger on, and when the task ahead looms so daunting, it’s all too easy to want to put it off.

Enough with the digression.  I was being pissed at the system…  LOL

It’s bad enough being stuck in a “box” of a space physically, but even worse when it is discovered that box encompasses the mind!  And this is something “the powers that be” don’t even consider.  They do nothing but the minimum to care for the body, they certainly aren’t going to delve into the costly arena of ensuring ones mental health (so long as it’s not negatively impacting them or others…)!  It is but by the grace of God that I have maintained the faculties of mind I do have…  I shutter to think where I might be, mentally and physically were it otherwise.

But just being aware of the problem by no means fixes it.  I still must get up each day, deal with the situation I’ve been given, and attempt to make progress towards my goals.  Making the time to do it all is my biggest issue.  Routines I’d developed over the course of 36 years of Life have been all but completely removed from my psyche by (almost) 7 years of incarceration.  Now there is just a memory that I once had been able to task myself efficiently enough to survive in the “real world”, and compare it to my “now”, where it seems more of a challenge than it’s ever been.  Where before I could manage my distractions, now they impose themselves upon me as traffic signals!  Red lights when you’re trying to progress, green when you need a break!

Yet, this is Life, is it not?  We all face the difficulties of trying to make time to do all we’d like, while dealing with the reality(ies) that keep us from it/them.  Perhaps I’m just more painfully aware of the constraints than I once was, as, after having been incarcerated for so long, I value my time so much more than I had before.  So much of the “rat race” seems a waste to me now… but those things I’d rather fill my time with are also farther, and further, away.

But there you have it.  A rant, about not much in particular, or everything, I suppose, from a different perspective.  I still feel stuck, but I know there’s a way out.  My mind dump is nearly complete for this installation, so be prepared for the continuation of “my Crazy Life…”, where I know I’ll be talking a bit more about the “me” I’ve observed in lieu of post “lock up”.

Until next time I write/type…

Aloha!  Namaste!  As-Salàmu Àlaykum!

Posted in 1, Deep(er) Thoughts, How I see the World..., Life, Poetry

Good Morning!!

Well, somebody had to say it!  LOL  You can’t see me, you’re reading this!  So it is important that I describe to you all that is going on around me, that you may understand.

Life.  Life is going on, all around me!  And I want so much to be a part of it!  But you won’t let me.  You keep the door(s) locked.  I can’t get in {“What if I’m (he’s) a “criminal”??}  Well, the cat’s out of the bag.  I am.

By “societies” standards, and definition.  In truth, I’m not.  I try, every day to be the Best me I can be, every day.

By “Best”, I mean, non-violent, Peace Loving, Love wanting, me that I can be.  I don’t condone violence, of ANY SORT, but I continue to be subjected to it, literally and figuratively.

My Name is Elron!  What’s your name?  How are you??  Simple greetings, to be shared or ignored as you please.  I have only my words, all else has left me.!

And so I return.  Again and again!  Gladly, for YOU!  Will you have me?

If so, I’ve made the means and the ways for you to contact me when you Wish, available on as many “sharing” “medias” as I’m willing to tolerate.  To be honest, I grow tired of all the technology, the data, it’s all so superfluous!  What MATTERS, IS LIFE!!!!  And the Living of it.

And the people you know, that you invite into your space, matters.  What you do with them, how you do it, Why you do it!

If I’ve confused you, please start from the top, and read it again.  Everything else, is so much fluff!!

I could sit here typing to/at/for you all about what I’ve gone through in this Life, or others, but I do not wish to spend every waking moment typing, or reading, though I enjoy both!  And yet, how else do we share?  I’d rather be Living, alive, feeling, experiencing, all that Life has to offer.  For it doesn’t matter WHAT you do, just so long as you are harming none in doing so.  That includes YOURSELF!

The TRUTH is out there, in every language.  And if that’s what you’re lookin’ for, you’ve found It!  If not, look else where.  I’ll tire eventually of repeating it, but I’ll say it again, perhaps with more words, so you can more easily Understand.

I Love you ALL, that I’ll NEVER tire of saying, to you as an individual, or as a Group.  For THAT is what matters, nothing more, nothing less.  If You’d like to Hear more, feel free to ask (in “person”, in RL preferably), but I’ll respond digitally if you want [you can’t like it or Love it, it’s not “alive”!]!

Aloha!  Namaste!  As-Alámu Álaykum!

~Me~  {~Elron~}

Posted in Life

My Crazy Life… Or, the Last Decade Thereof [Part I]

person wearing blue jeans sitting on bench
Photo by Bas Masseus on Pexels.com

 

There is something to losing all your worldly possessions… it brings (or can bring) a level of humility unique, in that it causes an awareness of just how temporary material possessions are, and if you reflect on it a bit, Life, similarly.

My “ex” and I separated in September of 2008, and the only possession of “value” that I got was the car.  She kept the dog, the house (note: I didn’t say home), all but 8 books of our Library of 100s, and a few clothes I was able to swap/change/wash on the weekends, supervised (more or less).  Immediately following my departure from where she lived, two or our “mutual” Friends moved in with her, and the very night I left, there was another man sleeping in “my” bed.

I was vainly attempting to be a salesman, and failing miserably.  I was selling (what I believe to be, and with good reason) the best product in the world, and am Blessed that my Life didn’t depend upon it, or I’d not be here today.  My monetary status did depend on it however, and regardless of 12-16 hour days in the attempt thereof, I couldn’t sell “them” at all.  If memory serves, over the course of the next 7 months, I sold a total of eight, and the profit I gained from that was not enough to survive on.

Through the kindness and generosity of my Boss, the owner of the franchise, I was able to get gas money usually by being a driver for a crew, and a few odd-ends jobs.  I lived on a dollar a day diet, usually Taco Bell’s dollar menu.  Occasionally I’d splurge and get a “Blue” Mt. Dew on refill, but it was usually too late for that, the dining room was closed (…the other reason it was usually Taco Bell, they were the only ones in proximity to where I worked and the location of where I parked the car and slept, and still open).  Those long hours were 6 days a week sometimes, 7 days a week mostly, and despite my passion about/for the product, it wasn’t selling.  At least not for me.

To be fair, the economy had tanked, and at that time Illinois had the worst unemployment rate in the nation (this is a key note…), so it wasn’t just me, though it felt like it at times.  Bottom line, I’m no salesman.  LOL

So, towards the end of those first 7 months, I was having a conversation with my brother, and my living situation came up.  He, at the time, was still in the Air Force, stationed in Albuquerque, and I, if not sleeping in my car, was “living” (existing, really) out of it, staying on a temporary basis with various Friends.  To them (they know who they are), I again wish to express my gratitude!  If not for them, my situation would have/could have been much worse.  They tolerated my presence (in most cases) more than many would, and I consider every night of their grace a Blessing!

He (Walter, “Walt” for short) was at some point in the conversation Inspired to invite me to come stay with him (and at the time, his wife, and our Mom) rent free, and even offered to wire me some money for the trip.  I considered my options (few), and my situation (bleak, at best), and humbly accepted the offer.  A few days later, I made the 18 hour drive, stopping only once for a couple hours -literally- of rest.

And so marked a major turning point in my Life.  I was out of the state where my “ex” lived, freed from the pull of what had become (for me) a “black hole”.  I said adieu to the Friends I still had (and would like to think I still do have… I remain in touch with most of them), and drove off into the proverbial sunset.

Here is where my Life would take a drastic turn, and set me upon a path I continue today.  A journey of a thousand miles was but the first step…  The growth, primarily Spiritual in nature (but not solely) has been monumental, but costly.  And, if I’m honest about it, worth it.  In spite of the challenges, the losses, the Spiritual and mental growths have magnified exponentially!  I’ve always considered myself to be a “man” of Faith, but the Faith which I gained during that Journey made it seem as though I’d had none before!  So great were the Blessings during that 75 day trek, and the quantity and richness of the Blessings received have only increased since then!

And yes, I include the last 7 years (minus a couple months and change) of incarceration in that statement as well!  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Here is where (when) I walked from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Woodland, California.  Here is where I suffered the greatest lost I’ve ever known.  Before the walk actually began, a year before in fact, I had attempted (only briefly) the Journey of a thousand miles, and knew within hours my effort(s) at that time would be futile, and quite likely fatal.  I was ill prepared, and lacked the fortitude (mentally as well as physically, though it would be a few more months before I was aware of the mental “issues” from which I still suffered…) necessary to survive the journey, and the mental strength to fully “be me” in the desired/expected relationship(s).

I had a lot of baggage still, left over from the separation, shadows of me I didn’t yet know needed to be excised.  Bad habits and ideas that I knew didn’t belong in my repertoire, but hung around after 13 + years of not great marriage.  And thusly, upon my first “attempt” at my journey (for context, JUL2009), though I got there, it was not under the pretext it should have been (completing the Journey of a Thousand Miles), and though I had the three best months of my Life, it was just that… short lived, and it did not at all become what was (had been) intended to be.  After the miscarriage of our twins, what threads had bound us together seemed now to be frayed and withered away.

The following year, in the same month, I began the Journey in earnest!  It was, and remains to be a major highlight in my Life, one of the most significant events, and stories I have to tell!  At that moment in my Life, I had nearly nothing.  Most of what I considered “my” possessions, remained in Illinois.  The anticipated divorce was finalized 3 days after my Journey began (the “beginning” of the journey was 20JUL2010, I received notification of the finalized divorce 23JUL2010), and what I had in my 80 litre pack was the majority of what was now “legally” mine.  Many many pairs of socks, a small variety of shirts/cargo-shorts, 4 three-litre CamelBak®’s for my water supply, which (if rationed properly) would (and did) give me 4 days worth of water (the greatest distance between locations where I could refill them), about 60% of my food supply(ies) (Clif Bars®), a tent, a sleeping bag, and the will to succeed.

Though it began as a journey for Love, it ended up becoming a journey of Love!  I had just about given up on people, on Life (not in a suicidal manner), on relationships.  The drive to be, to remain a “man of my word” however pushed me forward, and over the course of those 75 days, Miraculously, if I had spoken with anyone, they were the kindest, most sincere people one could ever Hope/Pray to meet, and I met them randomly, spread across 3 states and 1200+ miles.

And so I changed.  I grew.  Spiritually above all else, mentally through experience, and now I found I had a more clear vision of Life, of Love, of who I was, and wanted to be.  Of where I saw my Life going, and I began to enjoy more fully the freedom my homelessness now presented.  My heart still ached.  It still does.  But it no longer consumed(s) me.  My loneliness is more a point of reference, rather than an all-consuming tragedy.  Life, when Lived, provides a myriad of countless, beautiful points of Light, from within, from without, under hill and over dale, it bursts from and through every point of reference!  Expression becomes difficult, if not impossible, for there is so much to be shared!  I was seeing it now, every day, around every corner, through amazing people, and amazing circumstances.  Materiality was fading away, and Spirituality and the Love of and for Life was growing immeasurably!

To be continued…

Posted in Deep(er) Thoughts, How I see the World..., Life

A Room of One’s Own: Part II

Greetings world! Over the course of the last two days/nights, I have had the opportunity to enjoy a room of my own… kinda.
Once a month, the transitional house I am staying at allows us (its residents/clients) to take two nights out, in which we have total “freedom” from obligation, minus the expectant cup we must fill upon our return. A small (haha) price to pay for two nights out and about, and worth every moment!
My day(s) out began with me rushing around the “house” like a chicken with my head cut off, checking, re-checking, re-re-checking, and re-re-re-checking to make sure I had all I would want/need with me before I left. I then got on the bus, came to the motel where I’d be staying to check in (they were nice enough to let me check in early so I wouldn’t have to cart my “baggage” with me all over the place ’til later in the day!), and then getting back on the bus (same route, one hour later) to Sac.
There I met up with a wonderful young woman (whom we’ll call “J”) who my Friend Caleb had introduced me to about a week ago, to spend some time together in the city. She met me at the bus stop, and we walked back to her place of residence, where we spent the next hour deciding what we were going to do.
We started by going to one of J’s favorite thrift shops, where she gleefully showed me some of the more interesting pieces of glass-ware she so enjoys, when she got a call from a another Friend (whom we’ll call “C”) who was coming by to visit as well. So we walked back to her place, and met up with C.
From there, it didn’t take us long to decide to go to the river. It was getting hot, and it sounded like a “cool” place to go, and we even took J’s dog Buddy with us.
The three of us connected better and faster than a 5G network! It was amazing! To have so much in common philosophically is a rare, and tanfastic Blessing, one for which I am immensely Grateful! (Of course, Caleb and I have a very Spiritual connection as well, and so it didn’t surprise me that J and I found a similar connection, as Caleb is typically a great judge of character… he’s a natural at it!)
For me, the day was incredible! Such connections, and the ability/opportunity to do so is something I had been severely lacking during the 6 years, 9 months, and 11 days of my incarceration. A treasure for which no monetary amount could ever replace! In today’s fast pace world (as I am learning, and had suspected was becoming the case in my “absence”), we are so caught up in the digital stream that there seems to be less and less time for the quality of relationship building that can ONLY come from face-to-face interaction, being so readily replaced with the tweet, the “share”, the f-book update and like, ad nauseum.
And though I cannot say there wasn’t at least one moment when we all three had our devices out, they were limited, and we spent most of the time together sharing our thoughts/feelings on the minutiae of Life, and our reflections thereupon. It was truly wonderful!!
It is so refreshing, to meet young(er) minds, who though removed by a decade or so, have, hold, and share so many of the same values that are so uncommon in a society that is degradating the very core of relation(ship)s at every turn.
The day together came to a close with some card games back at J’s place, and then my time ran out, and I had to catch the last bus back to Davis and my hotel room.
“My” room. A room of one’s own. Sort of. Though I am in possession of it, it is not “mine”. I’m simply renting it for a couple of nights. But it is private, and quiet. I have not once so much as picked up the TV remote. It has remained off, its blaring advertisements locked safely behind a black screen that will not emit one nano-watt of energy while I reside herein (yes, I am saying light is energy…)! It has been very peaceful, and quite nice enjoying the sound of my own thoughts as opposed to the din of others constantly present. (No offense to those with whom I live/coexist, they are each of them good people!)
I did have a class I had to attend this morning, but the rest of the day has been mine. I even took a nap, something I haven’t done (in private) for a very long time. It has not yet ceased to amaze me, how such simple things can bring such delight! Given my experience(s) of the last “7 years” (it’s just easier to go with the upward “estimate”, for if I get specific, I’ll have to constantly say “the 2444 days in which I was incarcerated”… The estimation is just quicker), I’ve found such joy in so many “simplistic” things! Having/Making time to spend engaged with Friends, the color of the leaves on the tree as the morning sun shines through them,, the sound of “om” as it resonates in the back yard of the “house” as I chant it four times at the start of each new day.
I’m still working on re-developing those “common” habits of old… feeding myself, making time to read, scheduling my time… all things I once took for granted. And even during my incarceration, I did not imagine I would one day have trouble doing them again. Apparently, “7 years” of being told when to eat, sleep, when and what I could do and for how long, and only as long as a C.O. was present and/or nearby, was enough to break the ones I’d developed over a short 36 year lifespan.
Such pleasure(s) to be found in being able to touch/hug people, freely and openly, and of the opposite sex! LOL So many small details, that once made up the whole of me, left at a gate of stone, chain-link fences and concertina wire, and nobody told me I wouldn’t be getting them back as soon as I was released. Are they now still mine to have?? And what of the pieces I’ll never get back?
I used to be able to trace linearly the “me” that I was, to the me that I am… now there is this gap that has no connection point to either end. Though I remember where I was, and know where I am, and even how I got here, too many of those missing “pieces” bear unrecognizable shadows that, though they should have context, just don’t fit, and I don’t know how, or if, they will and can again.
In some regards, I understand (conceptually) that it is the mere passage of time, that elusive substance which none of us own, and are yet irrevocably bound to. It changes us, whether we like it or not, and in the process of reinventing ourselves some things must be relearned. But why, though I remember being able to do so before, are so many things almost foreign now? If I’d simply moved away, I’d still be in the habit of feeding myself. My routine(s) would still be second-nature, instead of a constant struggle.
To be fair, I suppose it is a good thing that I am learning again to be me. I am certainly more dedicated now than I ever thought possible to making every moment count, alone or in the company of others. I don’t believe one can ever value what time we are granted too much.
Before I saw myself as simply unique. Now I am distinctly different! A label has been given me that has no place in the TRUTH of who I am, and yet it is -already- causing judgment against me, a bane to the progress I have always sought, though perhaps not so fervently (I speak presently about “gainful” employment). More than once, construction and its relevant sub-categories of jobs have not only been suggested to me, but implied that that may be -for me- the only thing going! I have no issue with that(those) trade(s), and I do enjoy manual labor, but if it is not what I want to do, why should I have to do it? Because someone else gave me a label I don’t deserve?? What about the fact that I’m willing and wanting to work, to even simply wash dishes, makes me unqualified for the job because of the title “convicted felon”? That is not who I am, but the result of an single act that was done out of compassion, NOT malice. It does not define me, it is merely a subtext of the events that lead to the shaping of who I am.
It is a stone I must carry though, and one that gains more weight with each denial of employment I receive, for a label, not a definition.
Can I honestly say I am “free”, while I continue to be judged and oppressed by a system designed to keep me in thrall to it, so that it will continue to flourish? What sense does that make, and what part of such a system have the words “correction” and “rehabilitation”, if that is not TRULY their goal, nor the result thereof???
And here I sit… alone, in a “room of my own”, in many ways more free than I’ve been in years. And in many others, more imprisoned than I’ve ever been.

Posted in Poetry

Living Life

…The next few Poems I’ll be posting were written while I was on my Journey.  There weren’t many, but what I wrote, I feel begins to show my change in perspective, as Life for me evolved over the course of some 1200 miles, walked alone, with only momentary (albeit Blessed) instances where I came in to contact with the “real world”, and escaped from my head…  Even once I’d come to the more populated portion(s) of CA, the time spent by myself typically outweighed the precious moments spent with the Blessed few.  So here you go, for your reading pleasure:

 

Living Life

 

Such beauty in LIfe

and it’s all around!

So easily turned,

that frown upside down!

 

Treasuring the moment,

remembering the past,

so precious, too few,

memory alone, makes them last!

 

So little time,

and so much to do,

slow down a bit,

and enjoy the view!

 

We’re offered so many,

those, that, precious rare moment,

don’t let it slip away,

you’ll find only discontent!

 

Among people, or trees,

Love every little bit of Life!

Such joys can be known,

refusing to Live in strife!

 

©  11AUG2010                                               James Elron Mings