How Do We Define value

Responding to Reena challenge #105. Write a piece using the phrase ” only if I knew it then”

Only if I knew it then.

I was never good at economics. I always went for people over monetary considerations. Where other people would see dollar signs I would see a person in need. I was content with food and shelter……and perhaps a few books. I married and found another kind of existence. My wife would assign a value to household goods that we were willing to sell on and I would debate and then give them away for free. How do we define value?

Some children of wealthy parents are expected to follow a certain path. It’s the child’s choice. Conform and follow the path or be a starving artist and suffer the consequences. The path of economic stability always wins out. How do we define value?

An ancient oil painting is valued at $100 million, a movie star’s mansion is valued at $50 million, a subway stop- about a ten minute walk-is valued at $2 billion, army and defense $ untold billions. Yet people are homeless, live in tent cities, have addiction problems etc. etc. etc. How do we define value?

I was reading Charles Bukowski ” The Post Office” an interesting book, definitely not great literature. He always felt that he needed to bring sex into a book for publication. You could tell in later life he regretted this, but at the time he felt this held great economic value and so he gave in to the economic gods. How do we define value?

We are all trying to survive the best way we can. People with dollar signs in their eyes seem to have the most material comforts. Others who see a different path struggle to survive. Who has the most value, the corporate elite, political elite, YouTube bloggers, movie stars, the 1%, the 99%, starving artists and the list goes on. How do we define value?

What do we consider a life well lived? Following our dream, family get togethers, material wealth, exploration of the soul, survival at all costs. How do we define value?

Only if I knew it then…….. I would still choose people over monetary considerations.

For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mathew 16:26-27

The Bluebird of Happiness

Responding to Reena Saxena’s Exploration Challenge #104. My selection “amidst the noise, smoking and loud talking.
For full prompt go to:

We all search for the blue bird of happiness as it flits further and further from our vision. We strive to capture this blue bird so that we may imprison it in a gilded cage for our entertainment. We like its sweet song. Except once imprisoned it refuses to sing and we are left lonely and isolated. If what makes us happy is alcohol, drug dependency, gossip and social media, perhaps we are the ones in the guilded cage imprisoned by our dependencies. It’s a cruel world where we cope with economic survival, family upheaval, bad lifestyle choices, political malaise and fragile bodies. These forces change us and tend to bury our true nature. We have to break free. Happiness cannot be captured and put in a cage but has to fly free so that we can observe it in sudden tranquil moments amidst the noise of life.

As Charles Bukowski so eloquently expressed in his poem Bluebird ” there is a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out.” We put on a fake persona for the world and do not truly understand our heart or if we do are too frightened to set it free. We should not let others dictate our actions. We must learn to express what is in our heart and set it free. It’s going to be a wonderful day when that happens.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A
My oh my what a wonderful day

O plenty of sunshine headed my way
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A

Mister blue bird on my shoulder………

Oscar winning song from Disney’s “Song of the South”
The Bluebird - Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

There’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s in there.
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the works?
you want to blow my books sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re in there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like that
with our secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do

Jenny’s Best Friend

“Never doubt the power of play time… that kind of time when there’s no purpose, no clock is ticking, and you’re exploring your potential without needing to know the outcome.”
Jeanne McElvaney

My 15 year old grandson comes to visit every Sunday. He stays for lunch and supper and leaves around 8:00 p.m. Last Sunday he was accompanied by his 14 year old sister who wanted a photo from us to include in her school project. The project was decorating a box that would contain ten of her favourite things. She wanted to include a photo of grandma and grandad in that box. So we all went upstairs to the “memory cupboard” to view photo albums and discovered some of their mothers, my daughters, school projects from over 30 years ago.

One particular project I had forgotten existed and had not looked at since the day my daughter brought it home from school those many years ago was entitled “Jenny’s Best Friend.” The following is a shortened version of that project.

On Jenny’s street there are lots of kids to play with.

Jenny’s favourite person to play with though is her dad.

They play hopscotch, cards, skipping rope, soccer and run around the block.

All of the kids on Jenny’s street like to play with her dad to. Every night when Jenny and her dad walk out the front door at least five kids are waiting. Every Sunday when Jenny and her parents arrive home from visiting grandma and grandad at least eight kids are waiting for the car. Even on Saturday mornings when Jenny and her dad ride their bikes to the park at least ten kids bring their bike too.

One day Jenny was very sad because she wanted her dad all to herself.

She stood on her head in the middle of the soccer game, but dad didn’t notice. She sang crazy songs, but dad didn’t notice. She steals all the rocks during hopscotch, but dad doesn’t notice. Finally Jenny walk up to her dad, sits on his feet and announces “I’m not moving till you play with just me.’

“Jenny” says her dad ” I love you very much and you are my very favourite person to play with, But we can’t exclude the other kids who want to play.”

Jenny thought about that and said “You’re right. I’m ready to play with everyone now.”

“Good idea” agrees Jenny’s dad.

So Jenny is happy to play with all the older kids and younger kids, the short kids and the tall kids. the boys and girls.

But best of all Jenny gets to play with her favourite person and best friend her dad.

About the author:
My name is Jennifer White. I was born in Toronto. I live with my mom, dad and younger brother. Running races with my dad is still one of my favourite pastimes.

Movements and Hot Air

Responding to Reena Saxena’s Exploration Challenge #103. A 6 minute video showing forward and backward motion of people and cars. For full context go to following:

“So where do you go? Back to the bottle And back to a tiny room somewhere. And wait. And wait, and wait. That’s all.”
Charles Bukowski

We all need something to inspire us; a holy book, a motivational speaker, a great painting, a work of art, poetry, friends, a muse or a prompt from a WordPress blogger. This weeks prompt from Reena focused on a six minute video around movement. People and cars moving forward and backward ending with hot air balloons ascending to the heavens.

Despite all the movement in the video, my first thoughts were, with everything constantly in motion, do we really understand the direction in which we are heading and what we see on the way. My mind fixated on beggars in the street, tent cities blooming like weeds in California and people with substance abuse problems. I pondered the insanely rich Hollywood stars who protest inane issues while ignoring the plight of thousands with substance abuse in their own backyard. Alas. I am just a lower middle class guy, retired from an accounting job, who has lived in the suburbs for most of his adult life. I could not get into the rhythm writing a piece about street people.

I watched the video again and “movements and hot air” sauntered into my brain. So here are my thoughts on “movements and hot air.”

About eight years ago in Westminster Woods, articles by the Westminster Woods Resident Association (WWRA) started to appear in the local community newspaper, condemning an application before council to rezone a housing site as a religious site. Westminster Woods is a community of around 10,000 people, living in detached houses, town houses and low rise condominiums incorporated as a condominium association. Residents pay an annual fee to maintain pathways and certain artistic architectural features that enhance the area. It’s run by a property management company that maintains high standards of by-law enforcement for the area and issues a quarterly newsletter to residents. Being a resident of Westminster Woods I had never heard of the WWRA and made enquiries about the status of this entity.

The local Sikh association had purchased a plot of land in Westminster Woods and made application to the City of Guelph to have this land rezoned to build a Gurdwara (Sikh house of worship). The WWRA was actively condemning this move in the local media claiming that a religious site should not be included in a residential area as the area would be overwhelmed with traffic and it would change the character of the neighbourhood from ethnic diverse to Sikh dominated. I wrote letters to the editor condemning the WWRA on its position and stating that the Gurdwara should be allowed. It being no different than Christian churches who have historically been part of a community. I eventually discovered that the WWRA was in fact just one person. He had adopted this persona to fight against the Gurdwara by trying to change councils mind on rezoning. I wrote to my local counselor explaining the situation and asked if there were by-laws in place to stop one person from usurping the identity of 10,000 residents. The WWRA had no board members, minutes of meetings, by-laws etc. etc. I was told there was no requirement needed.

Eventually good sense prevailed and the WWRA fiasco came to nothing. The Gurdwara was built and the ethnic diversity kept its proportionality. Soon afterwards I heard, third hand, that the WWRA was a front for a local developer who wanted to purchase the property for detached housing. So here we had a movement that was all hot air.

Some other movements with hot air come to mind. 1. The Brexit/Remain movement in Britain. My view is that if a country has a referendum on an issue and the will of the people is in favour 52% – 48% than the will of the people should be carried out by parliament. 2. The Trump and MAGA red hat haters and the multitudes of legal action against him. Trump is the duly elected president of the US. Wait till 2020 if you think you can do better.

Open debate and dialogue between different factions is important so that consensus can be reached. If a democratic decision is made by the people than that decision should be respected until the next opportunity arises to exercise that country’s democratic rights. In an increasing number of events democracy is now viewed as only being viable when I get the decision that I want. That’s a sure path to anarchy.

Follow the Leader

Responding to Reena Saxena’s Exploration Challenge #102. Write poetry or prose based upon the following statement: ” Public figures make us hate their enemies.

This is my fictional contribution to the above prompt..

It’s a noisy world. So much information screaming at me … fries my brain. Should I press the mute button? Retreat and dialogue with my inner self for a saner discourse. Except there is no discourse just confusion, boredom and lack of ideas. My thoughts refuse to percolate unless sparked by a superior being. I’m just a follower and I need a strong leader to show me the way forward.

I found him about twenty years ago. I was watching his biography on CNN. He was so certain in his speech. He knew what he wanted and went for it. Sure there was some scandal. But there’s always people trying to drag the strong down. Jealousy I guess for there failure to attain those dizzy heights. We’re all human and imperfect. You have to add the pros and the cons and weigh the scales. I felt a symbiotic relationship take seed. He was a leader I could follow.

I watched his every TV moment, read his books, got to know him intimately. He became my king and I his loyal subject. He had my allegiance. His friends were my friends and his enemies were my enemies. I embraced his ideas and defended them against all disbelievers. Every follower needs a leader.

He started holding rallies. I traveled across the country, attending them all. It was very Messianic. We were in rapture, shouting, clapping, praising. Show us the way to a better tomorrow, lead us out of poverty, protect us from the invading hordes, make us safe, give us our bread and circuses. He responded with reassuring words that he would lead us to the promised land, destroy the fake idols and restore our faith in a better future. We were with him one hundred per cent. He was our leader.

It was election time and my leader stepped forward. Of the two candidates mine told the truth and the other lies. I was on the side of truth. I despised the lies of the rival candidate. How could anyone in their right mind actually believe them. Righteousness wins over deception every time. Just tell the people the truth and they will vote for the truth. I came to hate the followers of the rival candidate who kept falling for his deceptive tactics. How could they not see through him. They were weak and cowardly. My leader would win.

He did win. He remained strong and held to the truth and I exulted with him. I felt no sympathy for the followers of the losing candidate, only disdain for their misguided loyalties. They felt the same and hated us with equal passion. It was no surprise when they tried to drag our strong leader down with innuendo, fake new and numerous law suits. But truth and justice was on our side. They failed. Long live our leader.

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

John 18:37-38