KingMidget's Ramblings

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Unfinished Business

I have written several times over the last couple of months about my decision to take a dive back into Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  The most recent post is here.

I’m just writing now to report that I have entered the seventh and final book of the series and let me just tell you this now.  I am absolutely hating life.  100 pages in and I’m convinced it’s the worst book I’ve ever read.  I want desperately to burn it and move on to the stack of books on my nightstand and the stack of books on my Kindle.  But I’ve come this far.

I’m headed to Vancouver for a much needed vacation this week.  The book will come with me.  I either return with the damn thing finished or I don’t return.  I’ll post one more time about the frickin’ thing and then I’m back to my blogging break.

Which by the way has not spread as much as I’d like.  I’m not blogging.  I’ve slowed down a bit in reading your blogs.  But I’m still monitoring FB all too regularly — and for what, 99% of it is just meaningless stupidity.  I’m working on it, though.  That’s next.

And meanwhile, I made progress on a story and am figuring things out.

Beginning

Another blogger recommended a couple of daily “meditation” books.  They both purport to provide you with 365 thoughts — do the math, that’s one per each day of the year!

I got one of the books today, the other will arrive next week.  So, thought #1 is this…

1                     Beginning

This is the moment of embarking. All auspicious signs are in place.

In the beginning all things are hopeful. We prepare ourselves to start anew. Though we may be intent on the magnificent journey ahead, all things are contained in this first moment: our optimism, our faith, our resolution, our innocence.

In order to start, we must make a decision. This decision is a commitment to daily self-cultivation. We must make a strong connection to our inner selves. Outside matters are superfluous. Alone and naked, we negotiate all of life’s travails. Therefore, we alone must make something of ourselves, transforming ourselves into the instruments for experiencing the deepest spiritual essence of life.

Once we make our decisions, all things will come to us. Auspicious signs are not a superstition, but a confirmation. They are a response. It is said that if one chooses to pray to a rock with enough devotion, even that rock will come alive. In the same way, once we choose to commit ourselves to spiritual practice, even the mountains and valleys will reverberate to the sound of our purpose.

— 365 Tao: Daily Meditations; Ming-Dao Deng

I spare you all of the whys and the wherefores. Regular readers will know that there are many things I’ve struggled with in the five years I’ve been blogging. Just a couple of the whys and the wherefores — it is a distraction from other things, it hasn’t quite turned into what I had hoped it would be. And there are these other things I claim to want to do. Like writing and painting and running and experiencing the world. But every evening and for far too many hours on the weekend, I surf the internet. I read your blogs. I ponder if there is something for me to blog about.

And then I do it all over again.

So, I’ve made a decision. I’m taking a bit of a hiatus. Yes, I’ve said this before, but this time I think it’s for real. I don’t know how long it will be because what really matters is if I make a change in the dynamic of my life and regain some balance and re-engage in a real way with those other things. The things that seem so much harder when lurking on the internet is so much easier and takes such little energy.

It’s not just my blog that I’m going to take a hiatus from. It’s most forms of social media. It’s time to reclaim my life from this thing called the internet and social media and taking the easy way out with my free time.

I’m going to embark. The auspicious signs are in place. Many people who know me in my day-to-day existence believe I’m a pessimist. I am called, somewhat jokingly but still, the Angel of Darkness at work. Others have referred to me as an Eeyore. The truth is, however, that I am an eternal optimist. I began every day with a hope and a belief that something good will come of the day.

And so I am hopeful that … well, I’m going to pray to a rock and see what happens.

See you around. I will be back at that time when I am ready, when I have changed the dynamic. If you want to continue the dialogue we have had between your blog and mine, I would love to hear from you via email because, yes, I can’t completely escape technology and I believe in the power of conversation. Shoot me an email at mpaxson55@gmail.com. Let’s talk.

 

A Worst Song Contest

I’ve posted a lot of Songs For the Day around here over the five years I’ve been hanging out on this blog. But today, as the title suggests, it’s time for something a little different. As I drove home from work today, I went through the pre-programmed stations. I have satellite radio and a car that lets me program either 25 or 30 stations. So, there’s a lot of them.

When I got to the station that features 80s music, I heard a song that prompted this idea. I’ll get to that song in a minute.

What are the criteria for this contest?  I think they are the following:

  1. The song had to be popular in its time.
  2. The song had to be wrong then.
  3. And still wrong now.

So, here’s my nominee. This song was released in January 1985. Both the song and the record it was on went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts. I hated it then. I still hate it now. It has absolutely no redeeming quality or value to it.

What song is your nominee?

One Person’s Extremist is Another’s Moderate

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the political divide that exists in America today. It is a topic I have thought about a lot over the years. It is a thing that keeps getting worse. It is a thing that I see every single day because I read a couple of liberal blogs and a couple of conservative blogs every single day. What I see are two sides of the same coin of clueless, mind-numbing hypocrisy and closed-mindedness.

The latest evidence of this … An op-ed from Leonard Pitts. I don’t necessarily disagree with Pitts’ primary thesis which is that the Republican Party has achieved maximum meltdown. The thing is that it really started when Bill Clinton was elected President. The accusations that the Clintons participated in drug smuggling, killed Vince Foster and Ron Brown among others, and so many other ridiculous conspiracies. All of which still make regular appearances in the right-wing blogosphere. The meltdown continued with the Swift Boaters and other similar conspiracies that failed the basic test of reality and honesty.

Obama’s election sent the Republican Party even deeper into what appears to be a brain freeze like the kind you get when you eat something cold too fast. And Trump’s election has only accelerated the thing.

Do any of you remember this?

This was from the White House Correspondent’s Dinner a few years back. Obama took no small pleasure in poking fun at Trump and watch the video for Trump’s reaction. I’m convinced that we are seeing the most successful act of petty revenge the world has ever seen. Trump ran to destroy the Obama legacy. You see it in his petty tweets attacking anybody who attacks him. He does not let any slight go. He holds a grudge and he seeks to destroy. You see it in all of the things he has done to take whatever action he can to reverse any and every success Obama achieved as President.

And the Republicans are ignoring all of his immaturity, damaging actions and words, and evidence of his incompetence to further their extremist objective of rolling this country backwards about 70 or 80 years.

So, yes Mr. Pitts, the Republican Party has descended into a realm of unimaginable extremism, but for a portion of this country, the Democrats aren’t far behind.

In your op-ed you state the following:

We are not, after all, divided because Americans pulled back from the center and retreated into extremism.

No, we are divided because one party did. And it wasn’t the Democrats.

I say this as a lifelong Democrat, a liberal, somewhat of a progressive. I say this as somebody who hasn’t voted for a Republican since the 1980s. Your center-based policies, isolated by your liberal ivory tower views, are viewed as extremist by millions of Americans. Having the federal government force states and local governments to allow transgender or gender-confused individuals to use the bathroom of their choice is an act of extremism. No matter how much you may believe that is a necessary policy. Providing a free public college education for all may just be viewed as an act of extremism by many Americans. No matter how much you may believe it is a wise idea.

The problem in America these days is that both sides have descended into their own echo chambers and are incapable of seeing their ideas and policies through the eyes of others. They are unwilling to consider that anybody but their chambermates have legitimate ideas. The right believes every liberal lies and hates America. The left believes the right is racist and prone to violence. Each side believes that the other is the extremist.

Mr. Pitts’ op-ed is a perfect example of the problem from the left. Look at all the horrible things the Republican Party is now engaged in! They are juvenile and unhinged and horrible!! Whew, it’s a good thing us Democrats are so reasonable and level-headed.

It’s really just kind of ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. Neither side is entirely right, but they both think they are. Neither side is entirely wrong, but they both think the other is.

Barry Goldwater once famously said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” He’s right, I think. What the right-wing and left-wing have become, however, are extremists in the battle for every little thing. The result is a frozen democracy incapable of moving forward as any common ground disappears in the endless war they fight with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Without Pain What Would I Be

My first memories as a kid deal with pain...” They aren’t the very first words of his post, but these words written early on in one of Mr. PinkLightSabre’s posts in his epic, 40 days and 40 nights of memoir writing, launched a memory of my own. (Before I go on, if you aren’t already a regular reader of PinkLightSabre’s blog, you should be. He has a way with words and memories and moments.)

My first memories as a kid also dealt with pain. I was four. I can’t think of anything that predates this. Possibly because the trauma of the thing was so great. In my memory, I woke up one night with such intense pain in my right knee that I could barely make it down the hallway. I don’t clearly remember if there was any pain before that night, although I have a hazy memory that my knee might have started bothering me earlier in the day.

I ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Decades later, I learned from my parents that the doctors initially thought I might have cancer and that they would have to amputate my leg. I knew nothing of that at the time. What it ended up being was a staph infection. I marvel at what this means about the state of the medical profession in 1972. From cancer and near amputation, to an infection needing massive antibiotics and almost 50 years later, I still have both legs.

Besides the pain and the days in the hospital, I remember the needle. The one that, in my memory, they stuck in my knee to drain the fluid once or twice a day. And that when they came in each time to do this I would scream my bloody head off. You see, this was no ordinary hypodermic. This was something else entirely. Something large enough that it left two scars behind. One on each side of my right kneecap that remain to this day.

My next memory is of starting kindergarten on my “crunches” shortly after I was released from the hospital.

My third memory is of going back to the hospital because of pain again. This time, somewhere in the next year or so, it was to have my tonsils removed. My stay was only for a couple of days then. I got a lot of jello and popsicles and that was wonderful. I walked out with a candy bar somebody gave me. I think it was an orderly named Charlie, but who knows at this point. I stuck the candy in my pocket regardless of my sister or mother warning me it would melt there.

Which it did.

It’s interesting what prompts our first memories and what they may say about who we are.

I have spent much of the rest of my life in various sorts of pains. Not debilitating pain that stops me from living my life. No, nagging pains that are just enough to hinder me a bit.

I developed tendonitis in my shoulder in my teen years and cannot throw a baseball for more than a few minutes without pain.

My knees have always been a weak spot — tweaking and twinging as I walk around. More so when I spent a lot of time playing tennis.

There is a problem somewhere around my C-4 or C-5 vertebrate. About a decade ago I had an X-Ray and the doc said there was nothing wrong with it. It was just that the gap in the vertebrate was a little narrower than normal and there was nothing to be done. Truth is, that may have been the actual cause of the tendonitis.

All I know is that it means I frequently feel stiffness in my neck. I have to be careful about trying to not get my neck out of whack — it’s one of the reasons I don’t golf anymore. Lugging a bag around for 18 holes, plus the twisting that occurs with each swing, just isn’t a good idea.

The neck thing also gets me at night. After I have been in one position for a few hours, that stiffness and the accompanying pain wakes me when I decide to turn over. It also prevents me from spending much time sleeping on my stomach.

When I took up running, more pain came along with it. I don’t have a run that doesn’t involve some sort of pain. Ever.

Years ago, I remember my mother doing her motherly thing and asking why I engaged in a certain physical activity — I no longer remember what it was — if it hurt me. She was afraid I would do some permanent damage to life and limb. My response was that if I let pain stop me from activity, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.

My first memory is of pain. I’ve had many memories of pain since. A day doesn’t go by without pain.

And that’s just the physical pain. Mental and emotional pain … that’s a whole other story.

What’s your first memory? I’d like to think we aren’t all locked into such first memories.

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