A parenthesis about living a meaningful life.

“What you’re doing is as useful as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic!”

And yet, there we were, commenting on social media— extolling the virtues of living meaningful lives while binge-watching a carefully orchestrated stream of reality television!

Nonetheless, let’s say one of us decided that action was the very element that would lead to a meaningful life.
He decided he would scale a heinous-looking mountain each day to take food to a small group of poor people living at the top.
Of course, all the scrapes and scratches associated with extreme climbing would assist his elevation towards achieving “meaning!”
Self-flagellation might be frowned upon unless it’s for a good cause!

In such a manner the pursuit of meaning is mindfully engaged.
One treacherous foothold at a time.
It needs to be a tough and deliberate process!
Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the mountain had left without notifying anyone, therefore potentially rendering all hopes of deriving meaning from the mission potentially null and void?
But could there have been meaning in the climb itself?

Of course, it could’ve ended on a sour note as well, what if the people at the top were there, and rejected the food that was offered to them within a thinly veiled cocoon of validation?
Are there truly so many factors that bind the pursuit of meaning into a fragile thread?

Our dejected and disillusioned friend headed home and stopped at a toll-booth to pay that which the King was owed.
And without overthinking his position of importance within the universe he smiled at the lady who handed him his change in coins.
He was rewarded with a smile in return.
Without knowing it, his random act of kindness helped elevate someone else’s bad day into something that ended on a bearable note, infused with a civilized gesture.
But the intrepid rock climber would never know that.
Meaning isn’t always a handout, sometimes it’s merely a reflection, long after the sun has disappeared over the horizon.

Turn right for Rodney’s bridge of despair. Turn left to go home.

A few years ago I hit rock bottom with regards to my career.
I was stuck in a dead-end job with a sadist for a boss.
On top of all that the systems we worked on were so dodgy that they required constant maintenance.

I was miserable each day.
On weekends we pulled constant overtime shifts to do standby.
The pay was good!
If ever someone tells you that money covers a multitude of sins, I can testify it doesn’t!
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The Dictator and the DJ. Thoughts about power!

My childhood synonym for “power” was “Superman.”
The red tights and cape didn’t really inspire me as much as the ability to lift a mountain with
one hand while holding Lois Lane with the other.
At least Superman wasn’t only a muscle-bound knucklehead.
Many of the stories pertinently emphasized his superior alien logic.

I often think that society teaches us that power lies within the ability to generate explosive force.
Movies and stories about powerful beings feature lots of action and pyrotechnics.
That is definitely one interpretation of “power.”
Power can be subtle.
Occasionally we tend to forget that power only becomes apparent after centuries.
The river can carve up a mountain although it takes centuries for a valley to form.
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Dragged By Angels.

She told me I needed to be rescued.
When I couldn’t be lifted up, or carried,
I would be dragged.

I held on as long as I could,
and managed to save an angel.

Dragged By Angels

I doodled this in 2018, it still feels relevant.
Not all who drag us down are demons, not all who gift us with wings are angels.

When we eclipse the Sun!

The Moon can’t really eclipse the sun.
It’s all an illusion.

Our imagination often paints these two celestial bodies as enemies.
Suppose they were to cross swords?
That insignificant arid ball of dust would be eradicated by the god Helios within seconds.
But the Moon is still close enough to Earth and far enough from the Sun.
It can escape the fiery wrath for now.
However, when the conditions are right, that little sphere creates the illusion
that it hid the mighty Sun for a short while.

When confronted by the vastness of the Universe we occasionally feel powerless to effect any kind of change.
The complexities of the world make us numb.
The way we perceive our environment can make us feel powerless.
The deluge of disturbing images, hateful words and seemingly inhuman actions we observe each day burn us.

We can’t ever convince the Sun to behave differently.
But what happens whenever we avert our gaze away from the blinding brightness?
We might notice someone standing close to us.
Someone in need of shelter or assistance…
There where we DO possess the power to eclipse the sun!

You won’t be happy today!

Happiness isn’t your “default” setting and I’m sure you know it.
It isn’t mine either.
In fact, “happiness” is a fabrication, a fake word designed to motivate people to take expensive holidays to utopian holiday destinations.
“Happiness awaits you the minute you set foot on golden beaches and dance to the pulsating rhythms of the greatest adventure you’ll ever experience!”
Sure, it might be true but that adventure will shake your pocket!
Financial woes after the holiday will kick you right back to where you were before the trip!

Happiness is the motivator that you always prop up in the fudged-up recesses of your subconscious to justify most purchases.
Just wait, when you get that Mustang you’ll be happy!

Reality is harsh mistress though… One that constantly strives to kill your illusion of happiness!
While you were on that beach you stumbled and dropped your cocktails on an unsuspecting sunbather.
You didn’t see any of the sexy people they paraded around in the seductive advert.
The kids were bored because they didn’t have their tablets with them and you were still worrying about a missed call from the office!

Before you decide to wallow in despair just consider the age-old concept of “awareness” for a minute!
You can actually make that fake word called “happiness” work for you.
Despite the embarrassment with the drinks, nobody got hurt.
The chat you had with the victim was quite pleasant.
His perspectives about the island made you notice things you would never have seen otherwise.
You relaxed, you laughed, you took notice of the balmy island breeze and the texture of the fine sand underfoot.
If you combine those elements into more comprehensible languages you can stitch them together and you’re
actually experiencing “happiness.”

What was your morning like today?
Cold, too hot, stressful?
But you had a nice coffee, didn’t you? You enjoyed it.
I really hope you did!
Life’s too short to have bad coffee!
Your office chair was quite comfortable.
It’s not something you really think about!
There’s enough money in your bank account for buying a pie at lunchtime.
Ok, before it sounds like I only pursue “happiness” through eating I’ll stop there.
But you do get the gist of the above.
Make a pastiche of the positive words in your day… “Enjoyed, content, satisfied, comfortable, fine, looking forward to something!”
When strung together in context those words push you towards the elusive idea of happiness.

Ever so often I get the idea that we’ve taught ourselves to think that the negative cancels the positive.
That’s far from the truth.
They actually exist in an eternal symbiosis.
But just like the way you rephrased “happiness” you might consider rephrasing the “bad” as well.
Spilling your drink wasn’t “bad.”
It was unfortunate… An accident, a mishap!
The word “Bad” is abstract.
“Mishap” sounds manageable.

And when you start using proper sentences it all clicks into place… “If you hadn’t cooled off someone with a ludicrously expensive drink you might not have experienced one of your more memorable holiday moments!”

Would you want to know whether we’re alone in the Universe?

Once, when I drove too fast on an abandoned dirt road I lost control of my vehicle.
There was no damage, but I nearly demolished an anthill.
Would they have been able to fathom the alien presence that almost destroyed their world?

If we’re not alone in the Universe then perhaps we don’t have the means to detect alien life forms?
They might very well reside in a dimension that exists “next to” ours, but we can’t reach them.
On the other hand, perhaps they’ve seen the anthill and just couldn’t be bothered to stop and investigate something so insignificant.
If they had enough juice and tech to reach us they would’ve, I’m sure of that.
When you possess the means to buy an airline ticket to an exotic destination I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t go there at least once?

Our Hollywood-induced perceptions would like us to believe we’re the target of every alien race out there.
I can’t even begin to think how many times I’ve seen New York or other parts of America destroyed on the big screen.
Right, so we have some resources?
But then again, would a guy advanced enough to travel zillions of light years wage war on us to get to some resources in order to refuel?
Naturally his tech would be compatible with everything we have to offer!
It’s all conjecture though, and therefore quite irrelevant outside the sphere of entertainment.

Nonetheless, I do harbour a personal fantasy about visitors from outer space…
They land somewhere on the outskirts of a big city, their sleek craft is cloaked and they infiltrate our civilization.
Pretty soon they discover a few delights such as chocolate and coffee.
Some of them mate with the local girls and somewhere down the line a few inexplicably strange births will trend on Twitter.
But ultimately they leave, and on the Galactic Map of nice-to-visit spots, they will pin a note saying, “Not too bad. Nice scenery. No intelligent life. On the brink of extinction. Viable life-sustaining environment for another few decades.”
And then they fire up their quantum-whazza-awesome-drive and leave the anthill.
Once out of the atmosphere they will pop some Metallica, AC/DC or Led Zeppelin into the makeshift USB drive.
I do hope they take a broad sample of our art and culture!
May they also take as many animals as possible and relocate them on worlds without humanoid species.

The vain, cruel, quarrelsome and narcissistic human race might not be worth saving according to our hypothetical visitors.
But it would be a pity if our poetry, music and other works of art that reflected our fleeting moments of humanity should go to waste!

The value of receiving a good insult!

I love receiving a good insult.
A well-constructed insult is indicative of a creative spirit.

Trite regurgitated generalizations and pre-packaged little bags of vitriol
aren’t to be dismissed as useless information either!
Receiving unimaginative insults can truly speed up the process of getting to know someone.
Condescending tones, forced sarcasm, and overbearing obnoxiousness
almost makes it too easy to pigeonhole those I needn’t waste energy on.

If you still feel the need to decimate me then challenge me as a new red wine would.
Interrogate my perception of reality with smoky undertones and smooth delivery.
When the sour aftertaste hits it’s going to be a surprise at least.
For the opportunity to be enriched by a learning experience I would
tolerate the intricate micro cuts and bruises and perhaps even view you as an
acquired taste.
I will always give a sophisticated red wine at least one more shot!