Tag Archives: philosphy

On a Frosty Morning

Frosty Morn

Yes, there was frost on the ground in the Dallas suburbs today.  A bit of fog too.  And I mean that both literally and figuratively, in a very Robert Frost-ian sort of way.  The air was clean and cold and crisp for a change.  I could see, hear, breathe, and think well for a change in this gawd-awful city of death and decay.  It was poetically, virtually, and monumentally a moment of clarity… such clarity that only three adjectives could possibly be enough to provide the complex understanding of my Robert Frost moment.

My typical apology for living, and for writing this, and for making you read it comes in the second paragraph today.  You have to forgive me for being so much of an English teacher.  Do you know who Robert Frost is?  Frost is a great american poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry four times in the 20th Century.  Does that really tell you who Frost is?  Of course not.  Only this does;

The Road Not Taken

a poem by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,,
And that has made all the difference.

Yes, like Robert Frost, I took the road less traveled by in life.  Having a gift for creative writing, drawing cartoons, and generally being seriously silly and obtuse (and claiming that meant I was funny), I chose to not  be a novelist and cartoonist when I was young.  I chose to be a school teacher.  Of course, if you pin me down and ask me, requiring me to answer before you let me up, and threatening to spit on my nose if I don’t answer, I will tell you that God really decided I needed to be a teacher.  After all, I developed arthritis that effected how often and how long I could spend drawing.  I had the usual novelist’s problem of a keen awareness of how to write, and no real life experiences to write about.  But even though it was a holy mission from God, it was my own decision to become a teacher.

And look what I got from it.20150216_152544  This is a picture of Freddy.  I started this picture in 1986, drawing the portrait from a photo and from real life.  Freddy was a vato loco from Cotulla.  He is the sort of kid that teachers dread.  He is the kind that if you let him sit in the back of the room, he will shoot spit-wads into the girls’ hair… but if you put him up front, he is constantly putting on a show, a stand-up-sit-down-again comedy routine for the entire classroom.  And I had the honor of being his favorite teacher both in his seventh and eighth grade years.  He made me laugh almost as much as he was laughing at me.  He claimed he was a Mexican even though he was born in the U.S. and has always lived in the U.S. and if he goes to Mexico, they won’t understand his Texican version of Spanish without an interpreter.  (Now, you probably already know that I never use real names of people I write about in order to protect the innocent… or in Freddy’s case the only-mildly-guilty.  But I haven’t actually revealed his name in this post.  Alfredo Giovanni is such a common name in Texas that you will never be able to find him through research.  And Alfredo Giovanni is a name I made up anyway.)  By the time I actually put the color on this picture, Freddy will no longer look even remotely like this.  He’s in his late forties and Hispanic.  He probably weighs at least ten times what his tiny self did back in 1986.  But I was honored to know him and teach him, even though I have more than a few gray hairs on my head that he specifically caused.

And that brings me to my final movement in this classical opus.  Here is the difference I have made by choosing the path I chose.  Now that poor health has forced me to retire from teaching, and I have a limited time left to me to pick up the novelist/cartoonist thing again, I have done so with passion and insight that I would not otherwise have had.  I have crafted a novel in The Magical Miss Morgan based entirely on my experiences as a classroom teacher.  It is the best thing I have ever written in my life.  And one of the main characters, the rapscallion leader of the Pirates’ Club, Timothy Kellogg… is Freddy in fictional form.556836_458567807502181_392894593_n  Oh, it is true that the character is the son of a high school English teacher in my story, and he does have a lot in common with my own oldest son… but he is actually Freddy.  The things he does and says (translated from Texican into Iowegian) and thinks and feels, are all Freddy.  And how do I know what Freddy thinks and feels?  Come on!  I was Freddy’s favorite teacher.  There is no way I would still be alive and sane unless I could read minds.

Two roads diverge on a frosty morning pathway in the park… One over the bridge into an entirely different life that I didn’t choose… and one that leads straight on into the new dawn… whatever the consequences of following it.

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Wisdom from the Outsider

There is so much left to be said before my time runs out.  Wisdom, whether hard won or acquired entirely through wit, bears a certain responsibility in the possession of it.  We are duty-bound as wizards, the masters of wisdom, to pass it on.mrFuture

Now, you certainly have every right to protest that I am not wise and I have no wisdom.  You are certainly right to point out that I am a doddering old fool that sits around the house all day in the midst of his poor-health-enforced retirement doing little beyond writing silly stories and drawing pictures of mostly naked cartoon girls.  I get that.  But the beginning of wisdom is the realization of how big everything is and how little I really know about anything.

Take for instance the question of where we came from and what our purpose is?  (And the question of why I put a question mark on that when it really wasn’t a question.)

I originally believed in the God of the Christians and in the promises of Jesus… everlasting life and an eternity of sitting on a cloud with a harp and…  Okay, it didn’t take me long to see the logical holes in that line of reasoning.  So much of that is fear of death and the need to believe that I am the center of all things, the most important person in existence.  The truth is I am only a tiny part of a nearly-infinitely-large universe.  And the universe is conscious… self aware.  How do I know this?  Because I am conscious and self-aware.  I am an infinitely tiny piece of the whole… but there are untold trillions of others just like me.   Mai LingAnd when I die… when this body ceases to function, as it already has a great deal of trouble doing, the parts that make up the individual creature and thought patterns I identify as me will be scattered to the far corners of everywhere to be gathered up once again and be something new.  All of mankind passes away.  Human beings and the planet Earth will one day be no more.  But that is not what matters.  There is so much more beyond the boundaries of what my limited eyesight can behold, and what my limited mind can comprehend.   I am made of star-stuff (just ask Neal DeGrasse Tyson or Carl Sagan), and I am a part of the universe as a whole.  I am in no hurry to die.  Life is worth fighting through the pain for… but I do not fear death.  Like birth, it is only a stop along the way in a journey that, as far as I can tell, never ends.

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When Comes the Dawn?

20150128_065842

We never seem to see it coming,

When the dark times are here,

Depression, black… is out of whack,

And everything looks drear…

And then a glimmer… maybe hope?

When will the sun appear?

But gray men in their dread gray suits,

Make the paperwork loom near…

And we must fill out in triplicate,

The forms you sign right here.

This dawn you want is pink and blue?

The proper form, my dear…

Sign it, scribe it, write in ink,

And make no mistake appear

And then you write and write and write…

To make the dawn shine clear.

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I guess the thing to do… sometimes… when everything is going against you, is to write a poem… or take a picture of the sunrise… maybe two.

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For the Birds

Redbirds

If you have looked carefully at my blog and tried to make sense of it, you have probably noticed that sense is hard to make.  It certainly makes no cents.  Though, I am told by my writer and publisher friends that a blog is critical to marketing books, I really and truly have not figured out how.  I am guessing here, but successful authors must do what they love in their blogs and hope that leads people to think seriously about buying a book with their name on it.  But will people ever want the frabjous daylight that makes them say “caloo calay!” from my burbling books filled with nonsense and purple paisley prose?

Maybe I need to clarify what I write about.  Hmm, how do I do that?  I end up with such a plethora of scattered categories… err cattered scattergories… err, no… right the first time, that no one can make a mental framework that accurately describes my work… including me.  But I have to try… even if it kills me… but if it wants to kill me, I already have six incurable diseases (maybe seven) and am a cancer survivor, so it will have to take a number and get in line.

The bird-word post I did yesterday is what I call humor.  It is pun-ish if not punny, but possibly pun-ishable.  I like word play and word pictures and rhymes and alliteration, all the stuff that my serious writer friends warn me against.  Mark Twain, whom I actually deeply respect, says “When considering the adjective, cut it out!”  But I find myself unable to do that.  I have to spread the adjectives on two or three layers thick like butter, jam, and peanut butter.  I never use one word for something when I can use seven.  So part of the style that is mine is excessively goopy phraseology.  I guess I write like I talk and, since it’s humor, I actively try to talk funny.

What else can I say is characteristic of what I do?  Well I was a teacher for three hundred and ten years (possibly divisible by ten).  That may have impacted the way I write and what I write about.  I am pigeon-holed in the Young Adult novel genre because I write mainly about school age, particularly junior-high-aged, kids… Their problems with corresponding creative solutions, and the kind of things that make them laugh (there’s a lot of pigeons in that hole!).  Education issues are important to me.  That is probably the key reason that the novel I am working on today, The Magical Miss Morgan, is about a classroom teacher.  I hope that doesn’t limit me to an entirely kid-audience, because adults have the book-buying money, and not every adult gives in to a kid whining about wanting to buy a book (because most kids don’t and there are adults who don’t have kids).  (Besides, says another aside, kids is really little goats who eat books before they read them).

Finally, I am a student of art.  I search for it, chew on it, digest it, rearrange it in my heart and guts, and spit it back out with colored pencils (Dang!  I must be a kid too, at least at heart).  In my blog I have written about and shared with you Norman Rockwell, Paul Detlafsen, Thomas Kinkade, Maxfield Parrish, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and Frederick Remington.  I know of a few more like George Herriman, Cliff Sterrit, and E.C, Segar that I am compelled to write about too.  Oh, and N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, and Milt Caniff.  Uh-oh, better stop before another list comes on.  So, in conclusion, this whole mess will never really be concluded and since it’s convoluted, it will get all mangled up and end up back where it began.  I have tried to make sense out of everything, but instead I’ve just made soup… or if I take out the broth… stew!

Blue birds

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The Fire Fighter (A Poem)

In the near past I have had a few occasions to face the choice of self-sacrifice or self-preservation.  As hard as that decision is, the more it becomes apparent you must face it, the more you must be ready to step between the people throwing punches, the more you must call the attention of an enraged attacker to yourself over their intended target, and the more you must ignore what it is you have to lose.  Thus, in this short poem, I imagine myself facing the flames of conflict.  I, after all, am Mickey too.

Image

 

The Fire Fighter

 

The man in the red hat…

Sometimes he stood there…

Looking at the fire…

Measuring the fire…

Then he picked up the hose,

And marched into the fire…

Knowing he would burn…

To save a home…

Save a building…

Save a life…

Because it was the right thing to do.

 

Now I am standing…

Looking into the fire…

Measuring the fire…

It is hot and horrid…

It will burn and kill…

And I have to pick up the hose,

And march into the fire…

Knowing I will burn…

To save the future…

To save hope…

To save a life…

Because it is the right thing to do…

And there is no other choice.

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