Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gift of Giving and Giving Back

cyber monday firmly behind, the official season of consumption is upon us.  "what can I get you , what do you need?"   these questions seem to be awaiting me on everyone's lips.  I am humbled by those that care for me.  I am grateful to all of those that wish to make these rough times better.  Still, I believe they know, just as I do, no amount of stuff is going to fill the void I'm feeling in life. however, tis the season for giving gifts and having just had a birthday pass I understand the transformative power of a heart felt gift.  Thus, after a thoughtful bottle of wine, I've prepared to answer what you can give me this year.

it was the day before my birthday when the most significant present of years arrived in my life.  as a family we were in the process of moving my grandmother to a new home, so where she could receive better care.  the process turned up lots of great old memories, emotions and of course family history.  You never know what little trinket might make the difference and it all feels like junk when you realize it need to get organized and moved.  Yet, when that something special arrives in your hands you realize it is a blessing that this talisman had been saved,... for you.

"I thought you might like this," my father said handing me my grandfathers old dog-tags.  placing it in my head I suddenly moved to silence.  All I could muster was a quiet thank you.  My father returned to work while I found a still room in which I could cry.

I never met my grandfather.  War, having taken a toll on the men of his generation, he died before I was born.  Having been blessed with his name, I've felt his presence my entire life.  And knowing what he did, the hard work he did to bring his family to the United States in hopes of creating a better life, fighting as a guerrilla soldier during WWII and not only escaping the Batan Death March but saving another man's life in the process, I've always known my grandfather (my Lolo) as a hero.  A hero, who's strength runs through me if I'm wise enough to call on it.

Fitting then, when this birthday approached, I was feeling at my lowest, his dog-tag arrived in my hand. this coming March will be the 30th anniversary of the US defeat at Corregidor, the moment that my Lolo had his character tested.  It was the moment he choose a path away from death in favor of a difficult journey back to his family.  It surely was a journey of faith, hope and love.  A scary moment in life but an important moment in life where a man realize there is a reason to go on, something bigger than self.

As I brought the chain over my head to hang the dog-tag around my neck I was again moved by the energy of the moment.  It had become clear, I had to finish the March begun by my grandfather 30 years earlier.  My entire life I'd wanted to visit the land of my forefathers, the Philippines.  Timing however has never been right.  This time though, we'll make it right, because it feels like the right thing to do.  I hope you'll help me.

"what can you get me, what do I need?"  Cash, help me get passage to the Philippines.  I have a date to walk in another man's shoes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tea for Two, Two for Tea - Come, Get Lost w/ Me

"what's your favorite spot for tea, ...on a mountain", she asked. she had my attention now as my mind wandered through a dream. where would one take a wood nymph like this for tea, how deep a moment am I willing to share. ah tea, another divine beverage. perhaps less on merriment than wine but surely more full of thought...

my desire for tea always transports the mind to a friends shop. a wonderful spot to procure exceptional small farm tea. from there I travel to other great tea-houses I know, scatter about the city, hidden on hillsides, deep in the jungles of my childhood imagination. the places I know and the places of fantasy all share a quiet spirit to them. intimate, they are a place of intention and thought. cozy, like a fort, I picture just the two of us occupying the space but it is shared with memories left by other guests ...their drawings, scribbled notes, pillow, feathers, nature, it is a temple... a place to worship, alone, together, each other, the serenity.

a tea-house, on a mountain, the thought or perhaps fear of a conversation that has no end; wonderful.

lost now in a cup of tea I'm disoriented, is that the setting sun or is it rising in my minds-eye. what vision is this before me. Where shall I travel with this woman, the answer is sure to unfold.  in this moment what is clear, with her I must share some tea. delicious

Monday, November 14, 2011

Never, Never Gonna Give You Up

it sucks when you realize you are a writer.  ...a story teller, a bullshit artist, a dreamer longing to write but scared of having to share.  the day that you have to open up your heart and be accountable for what you love is a tough day, that was the day I realized I was a writer, it sucked.

whatever your story is, when you become a writer, you realize it's just that, a story.  The choice is to either tell it or get off it.  the only one holding you back is you.  yep, accountability is difficult to escape.  sure you can try to shift the blame to someone else, "re-write" the story.  I know because I try it all the time.  But we both realize it doesn't solve anything in the end.  the fact remains that I am a writer, I know it and I'm not happy when I try to fake it.

we tell ourselves we can't pursue our dreams because they don't make us money.
we tell ourselves we can't complete whats in our heart because I have to many other things to do first.
we tell ourselves it doesn't matter because nobody will care anyway.

Standing on the other side of this abbyss I'm here to tell you it is all true.  keep on whinning, I hear ya.  Every story you tell yourself is true as true can be.  And in the end so is the fact you are what you are.  me, I'm a writer.

I fought the fact that I need to write.  I even allow people to convience me that I'm something else, that I'm not a writer.  at times I'd pretend that writing is only a private thing that I do for me and need not share.  Limit my world, hide from the truth that makes me happy, sounds fair but it is no wonder that life decided to kick me in the teeth.  had she not, I may never have awoken to the truth.  I am a writer, therefore I write.

Agree with me or not, I don't care.  read me or not if you dare.  I write not for you anyway, only for she and I.  I have stories to tell, unsaid words needing out; in need to live again so I writer.  I do it because I am a writer.  ...even if it's just about a bottle of wine

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm Finishing My Coffee

 This affects all of us man.  so I pause, reflect and enjoying my coffee.  stress in my life can't compare to those we honor today.  sure this dude has had some ups and downs in life (strikes and gutters if you will) but never have I had to watch my buddies die face down in the muck of a war zone.  Sadly, many of our nations veterans have.  say what you will about the conflict in Iraq, the ongoing battles in Afghanistan, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, et all... the soldiers there were just doing what they were told so they could stay alive and eventually make it home.  One of those men was my dad.  (man am I thankful he made it home) 

So today, years removed from his service, he and I had some fun seeking out what freebies people were willing to give the old-man.  "thank you for your service" the common phrase of the day.  I however can't help but wonder what the world would be like had more people served to protect our basic freedoms.  Not with rifle in hand but with an open mind, an exstended hand and a smile.

Yes, bad people exist in the world, both abroad and at home.  Conflict occurs in every corner of the globe and parcel of the playground but violence, a hard heart, a closed mind never solves anything.  later, when I sitdown with my dad and other vets tonight to enjoy an applebees free dinner I'm sure we'll discuss, "what so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding"... meditating on that is the best way to honor our future veterans, it affects all of us, man

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Say It Aint So Joe

Fall, for many reason is the season of abundant joy.  Harvest, the many colors of the changing season, crisp air that hints towards winter and of course football, my favorite being college football (or at least it was).  It's a good thing that new wine vintages are released this time of year because I need a distraction...

College football is in shambles.  Money, power and the think that "winning is the only thing" has destroyed the once beautiful collegiate game.  It should be about the game, the glory and the atmosphere of a Saturday afternoon shared by a stadium of people.  tailgating with old friends, singing the fight song as the band plays on, the roar of a frenzied crowd, all things to celebrate.  Then of course the boys on the field giving their all, not for big money contracts but for a dream.  a dream to maybe make the next level sure, but for most it is the dream they share with the students, the alum and most times the state, the dream that we can be the best warriors in the land.  In its true form college football is about a love of sport.

slowly however that love has tarnished.  cheaters abound, so many school like Oregon, Ohio State, and much of the SEC are under investigation that nothing will likely be done.  We just except it as the dirt face of the new game.

many point to the desire to crown a champ as another example of futility.  the current BCS system is a mockery.  but the other options are just as lame.  truth is, a champ is not what people seek, it is a desire to create more revenue that matters to them.  the new mega conferences demonstrates that.

But then things like Penn State and Joe Paterno happen.  dirty little secrets, where rather than standing up for what is morally right, rather than being a voice for those without one, rather than protecting young vulnerable kids; a man of enormous power, reputation and prestige chose to only point out the evil but do nothing more to stop it.  Even as he knew it continued, he remained silent in public.  clearly Fear stopped him.  a fear of how this tragedy might would effect his team, his reputation, his friendship who knows but Papa Joe couldn't face his fear. In his personal failure young boys were hurt, sad.

we celebrate college players because they stand in the face of fear, sacrifice their bodies so all of us can have something to believe in on Saturdays in the fall.  I fear now that we have little left to believe in when it comes to college football.  money, power, winning; what does it all mean when we are stuck living in fear.