It is good to ask questions. The great discoveries of human kind have always started with a question. Often a speaker will use a rhetorical question to get his or her audience focus on the topic. Teachers will use questions to not only test pupils' knowledge, but to stimulate their self learning.
I started this entry with a question; where am I? I know where I am physically. I am in my bedroom in my house in West Jordan, Utah. There are a few more states of being than physical. Where am I intellectually, emotionally and spiritually? How is my relationship with my wife, my children and grandchildren, coworkers, friends, and neighbors? Where am I in life?
I don't have the answers to all of these questions, but each one deserves addressing.
When I served a mission for my church, we were asked to hold a weekly 'Companionship Inventory'. This was time set apart to discuss goals and progress, problems and differences, questions and concerns. Any good marriage need to have these type of discussions often to strengthen and grow the relationship.
What I think I need in my life is weekly 'personal inventory' to see where I am and where I need to be headed.
I will let you know some of things I learn as I take an inventory of me.
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- Current Location:US, Utah, West Jordan, Salt Lake, W 6785 S, 1437
I feel a bit hurt tonight. A love one is making a very big mistake because of his pride. I have been supportive of this loved one, but am sick of the hurt he causes my family. I told him tonight that I cannot support his prideful and poor decisions. I am through being a enabler.
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- Current Location:US, Utah, West Jordan, Salt Lake, W 6785 S, 1445
I am angry this morning. I am a state worker. Three years ago the governor decided that the executive branch should work a 4 day work week to save on costs. It was a real adjustment to go from 8 hour work days to 10 hour work days, but we got used to it. We made changes in our lives to accommodate it.
Now our dear legislature, in its infinite wisdom, decided that state government needs to go back to a five day work week. This will affect my life adversely in ways I can't explain. I will be losing something very dear to me.
The legislature passed a bill in their regular session mandating a return to the 5 day/ 8 hour work week. The governor vetoed it on the grounds that the public was used to the four day work week and the legislature didn't fund the change. The legislature held a special session and overrode that veto and two others. I can't help thinking that this had more to do with showing who's boss than the good of the state.
I get the feeling that many people feel like state employees are the highest form of state welfare. We have been classified as lazy, unproductive, and uncaring. One time I had an early morning assignment at a distant location. I was allowed to check out a state car in order to get the job done. A neighbor noticed the car and told me that state employees should not have state cars. How did that make me feel? Like I, and my job, was worthless to him.
There are slackers in state government, like there are everywhere, but most state employees are hard working, dedicated people. If you know a government worker, please thank them for the work they do. Appreciation always pays back big dividends.
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- Current Location:US, Utah, West Jordan, Salt Lake, W 6785 S, 1455
- Current Mood: angry
It has been a long time since I blogged, but I write almost every day in my journal. It is funny that I dread doing it, but once I get started the ideas just flows.
Why blog? I don't know. Maybe someday I will write something that will mean something to some one. Hopefully that will make this world a better place to live.
- Current Mood: contemplative
Thoughts During The Morning Commute
Douglas M. Brown
Through the bus's window,
The universe I see,
Just a small slice,
Of my reality.
Through the rain and traffic,
My chariot races on,
To my destination,
Hiding in the dawn.
My silent life is ticking.
A draining from my soul.
I sense a desperate lacking.
What's missing from the whole?
My debts and obligations,
Keep the tiger caged.
Its muscles have gone flabby.
Its eyes show its age.
I'll release the sad old tiger.
I'll set the creature free.
For I'm its only master,
The keeper of the key.
January 4, 2007
Snow, Tigers, and Ray Bradbury
Douglas M. Brown
It is snowing outside. I just read what Ray Bradbury wrote on his Eightieth birthday.
“The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve.”
I wish I felt that joy by writing everyday. Ideas come, but they are always halted by my doubts. I told my self I should write in my journal, but I feel an urgent need to write now about now. Journals are about the past.
So what does this essay have to do with Ray Bradbury and snow? These are the thoughts I am thinking right now.
This morning was a late one for me. It was dark and full of misty rain. I just filled a pocket-size binder with fresh paper and felt it was time to fill the pages with words. Instead being worried about being late for work, I wrote. Slowly, during the bus ride, the words came. I wrote a poem about what I saw and what I felt. I felt a serious lacking in my life; my life essence ebbing away. I compared my soul, my will, to a caged tiger, growing old and flabby. The poem concluded with the realization that I held the key to the cage.
I am letting the tiger out by writing. I am letting him roam and stretch and climb. The tiger is a beautiful and mysterious creature, best seen roaming in its natural environment.
Every morning, Ray Bradbury runs with his tiger. It’s time I run with mine.
Now I turn to snow.
Most people have an opinion about snow. Some, mostly adults, think of snow as a problem and an annoyance. It is cold, has to be shoveled, pushed, or thrown out of the way. Snow is a pain to drive in and would be better if it fell some place else.
Others, mostly children, think snow is magic. How the sky turns from grey to white by swarms of magical snowflakes. If one watches the snow crystals dance and swirl on the air currents outside your window, you can see where the legends of fairies have come from; winged white pixies in their mid-winter celebration.
What is more magical than sliding down a hill covered with snow? Who cannot remember what it is like to climb to the top of a sledding hill, hearing the call of adventure? To lay down on your sled or saucer and push off, allowing gravity to pull you faster and faster? You fly with the birds and soar in the sky as you slide down that hill.
I looked out the window this morning. I chose to see the magic the children see. And my tiger is out of its cage.
Why don't I write more? That is a question that has plagued me since I wrote my first poem. I have reasons, but I have found that 'reasons' is a euphemism for 'excuses'.
Here are my top three rea..., I mean excuses for not writing more.
"I don't have time."
I do have busy life. I have a full time job. I am father of seven. Things do get in the way, but I am no busier than anyone else. I have to make the time to write. It is not going to fall in my lap.
"I don't know what to write about."
This reminds me of a story about a woman who told Dr. Louis Agassiz, distinguished naturalist, after one of his lectures in London that she “never had a chance.” The following story came from a talk given by Marion D. Hanks in 1970.
In response to her complaint, he replied: “Do you say, madam, you never had a chance? What do you do?”
“I am single and help my sister run a boardinghouse.”
“What do you do?” he asked.
“I skin potatoes and chop onions.”
He said, “Madam, where do you sit during these interesting but homely duties?”
“On the bottom step of the kitchen stairs.”
“Where do your feet rest?”
“On the glazed brick.”
“What is glazed brick?”
“I don’t know, sir.”
He said, “How long have you been sitting there?”
She said, “Fifteen years.”
“Madam, here is my personal card,” said Dr. Agassiz. “Would you kindly write me a letter concerning the nature of a glazed brick?”
She took him seriously. She went home and explored the dictionary and discovered that a brick was a piece of baked clay. That definition seemed too simple to send to Dr. Agassiz, so after the dishes were washed, she went to the library and in an encyclopedia read that a glazed brick is vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate. She didn’t know what that meant, but she was curious and found out. She took the word vitrified and read all she could find about it. Then she visited museums. She moved out of the basement of her life and into a new world on the wings of vitrified. And having started, she took the word hydrous, studied geology, and went back in her studies to the time when God started the world and laid the clay beds. One afternoon she went to a brickyard, where she found the history of more than 120 kinds of bricks and tiles, and why there have to be so many. Then she sat down and wrote thirty-six pages on the subject of glazed brick and tile.
Back came the letter from Dr. Agassiz: “Dear Madam, this is the best article I have ever seen on the subject. If you will kindly change the three words marked with asterisks, I will have it published and pay you for it.”
A short time later there came a letter that brought $250, and penciled on the bottom of this letter was this query: “What was under those bricks?” She had learned the value of time and answered with a single word: “Ants.” He wrote back and said, “Tell me about the ants.”
She began to study ants. She found there were between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred different kinds. There are ants so tiny you could put three head-to-head on a pin and have standing room left over for other ants; ants an inch long that march in solid armies half a mile wide, driving everything ahead of them; ants that are blind; ants that get wings on the afternoon of the day they die; ants that build anthills so tiny that you can cover one with a lady’s silver thimble; peasant ants that keep cows to milk, and then deliver the fresh milk to the apartment house of the aristocrat ants of the neighborhood.
After wide reading, much microscopic work, and deep study, the spinster sat down and wrote Dr. Agassiz 360 pages on the subject. He published the book and sent her the money, and she went to visit all the lands of her dreams on the proceeds of her work.
I think you get the picture. I can find ideas just by opening my eyes.
"I am not inspired."
Inspiration does not always come like a bolt of lightning. I usually have to sit down and just start scribbling. After I do this for a while, the juices start flowing and my hands have a hard time keeping up with my mind.
There are my excuses, now it is time for me to give the honest reason for not writing. It is fear; fear that what I write is not good enough. People will mock me for what I write, or worse, not care.
It is funny. When I am doing my best writing, I write things that please me. I am not caring what other people think. I am enjoying the process and the results. I go back and read stuff that I have written before and am always surprised that I wrote it. A part of me wants to deny I have anything to say or anything to write. I know that is wrong. We all have something to say and to write. We are the only ones who can do it.
- Current Mood: thoughtful
Is the way it makes us feel.
Only the dead have experience.
And very few live to tell.
The inky blackness comes before us all,
Giving pause, when it rears its head.
We want to shrug it off.
Pretend it does not shake us to the core.
Delaying the time when we must meet it
Face to face.
As you said my friend,
Poets sing of which they do not know.
But many know the awful taste of grief
Twain said, “the reason we grieve at death
Is that we are not the one involved.”
Our grief may be their rejoicing.
And death, just another step of life.
Douglas M. Brown
March 16, 2007
- Current Mood: contemplative
It was mid November, and Provo (Utah) had its first heavy frost. The last of the leaves had fallen to the ground. I was in my second year at BYU and was going through a powerful change in my life. I was in love.
Like every weekday, I was working my shift as a student grounds keeper in the southwest corner of campus. I had spent the summer fixing sprinklers and planting flowers. I spent the fall raking leaves. That day we were raking leaves in the “Love Garden.”
The campus is built on a hill overlooking Provo. On the south side of the hill is a small terrace where there are flower beds and bushes and a small concrete bench. Our supervisor referred to it as the Love Garden, because it is used by students as a place to steal a kiss.
I was raking up leaves from a bush when I noticed something odd. In the middle of this bare bush was a beautiful long stem yellow rose. It was odd because it was in the middle of a bush that was not a rose bush. I guessed a bird must have rested on this bush while it ate a rose hip and let the seed drop. The leaves of the fostering bush must have protected the rose from the frost. I thought it would be a lovely gift for JuVene. I snipped it off at the base and carefully put it in the truck.
JuVene was the reason I was in love.
During the summer I worked full time on the Grounds Crew. Back then, not a lot of students stayed in Provo for the summer. Those who stayed in apartments on our block became close friends. I developed a friendship with two co-eds who lived in the next apartment building. Just after the fall semester started, I was visiting them in their apartment. Then JuVene, their new roommate, walked in. She peeked in to the living room to see what was happening, and then scurried away into her bedroom. A few minutes later, she came back into the kitchen, did a few things, and peeked into the living room again.
She was nicely dressed and had a cute smile. I didn’t see her for long before she disappeared again into her bedroom. When she came out and peeked into the living room a third time, I spoke up. “You can come in if you want to, we don’t bite.” She accepted my invitation and came in.
It wasn’t love at first sight for either of us. JuVene thought I was cute, but she wasn’t interested because I was two years younger than she. I thought she was cute too, but there were many cute girls at BYU. I didn’t need to pick one yet.
Our lack of interest didn’t keep us from becoming friends.
JuVene was a music major and I studied communications. Many of our classes were in the same building. We would see each other often and just talk. It is a lot easier to talk when you are not trying to make an impression.
I took out JuVene once during our ‘friendship days’. I took her to see the movie Gandhi. JuVene wrote about our “date” in her journal. She went on and on about how great Gandhi was and how he used peaceful resistance to free India. She wrote about me too. “I went with Doug Brown. He is a nice boy.”
Never take a girl to see movie about someone who is more impressive than you are.
Our friendship continued, and neither one of us had a desire to make it more than that. Then tragedy struck. JuVene received the news that her 18-month-old nephew had drowned. By the time I found out about it, she had left Provo to go to the funeral. I didn’t see her until she returned a few days later.
When I saw her again I could see that she was hurting. I wanted to do something. I told her I would come by her apartment later to see her. The time came, and I went over. She greeted me at the front door, and we went into the living room and sat down. We talked for a while, but I didn’t feel like talking. I felt the only thing I could do was put my arm around her and just hold her. At that moment, everything changed.
I had a feeling of excitement, and yet felt a reassuring calmness. I belonged there, yet I felt like fighting it. My head and my heart began a battle right then about the future, and JuVene was at the very center of it.
I do remember how I felt – torn. I wanted to be with JuVene every minute, but didn’t know if that was love or infatuation. I had had a few girlfriends before that, but each time, something would come up and we would go our separate ways. I had rushed things before, and I didn’t want to do that again.
The next four weeks were the longest of my life. I saw JuVene everyday. I walked her to class. I walked her home. We went to concerts, plays, movies and dances. All this time a part of me was holding back, not sure if this relationship was right. That changed the day we walked back to our apartments from a church meeting.
JuVene was doing the talking. She told me about her doubts and fears, her wanting this to be right, but not knowing. She also talked about faith in God and Him providing answers. What she said struck a chord in my soul. I blurted out, “That is how I feel.” I knew then my heart was safe with her.
Still, I still had doubts when JuVene and I went to a special church meeting. The chapel was very crowded. I was in the hall waiting for JuVene to come so we could sit down together. When JuVene came around the corner she was dressed in white she looked like an angel. She was so beautiful she literally took my breath away.
We sat down and waited for the meeting to start. All of the doubts came screaming in one more time. It was then my heart gave the most sincere prayer of my life. “Heavenly Father, if you want me to married her; you are going to have to tell me.” By the time we left, I had my answer.
That was the day after I found the rose.
When I finished my shift that day I went to the truck to retrieve my rose. One of my coworkers saw it and said, “Boy, with a rose like that, you better come back engaged.” I laughed at him. Engagement was a long way off.
The next day I asked JuVene to marry me.
It was ten years later when I thought about that rose. Like our love, it was there, growing and blooming, but hidden from view. It wasn’t until a chilling frost revealed it; a rose from the snow.
Copyright 2009 Douglas M. Brown: All rights retained by the author.
- Current Mood: rejuvenated