On Sitting Still

My father could not sit still.  He was always busy doing something.  He was at a loss when his work, Gray Tools, gently forced him to retire.  He had worked there for over 48 years.  He had trouble filling in his days.

My grandfather could sit still.  Dad said that his father would spend his entire three-week vacation sitting on the front porch.

“Pop,” said my father, “you’re on holidays.  Why don’t you go somewhere instead of sitting on the front porch all the time?”

“Son,” said my grandfather, “each day I have to get up early and go to work.  In the winter, I am the first one making footprints in the snow.  Now I don’t have to go to work.  Now I don’t have to go anywhere.  I am happy to sit here all day.”

My father could not understand.

I take after my grandfather.  I can sit still.  I am not afraid of silence, and I have no problem filling my days.

I don’t know what my grandfather thought when he was sitting on the porch.  When I am sitting still, I explore the world of ideas by thinking, reading and writing—more thinking than reading and writing and, often, lots of thinking about reading and writing.

I haven’t gotten bored so far.  I can play with myself.  I enjoy playing with myself.  (Get your minds out of the gutter!)  I don’t need anything outside of me to keep me occupied.  Take away the book and the writing materials and I can still sit alone in a room and stare off into space.

To others, it seems that I am doing nothing.  Far from it.  I am exploring worlds beyond worlds beyond worlds because imagination is limitless.  There is never enough time when I crawl inside my head.

 

 

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In Flitters Feld

When I was in public school, every Remembrance Day (November 11), we had to recite John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields.  In Gade 2, when I was 7 years old, the teacher told us to draw a picture of Flanders Fields.  My spelling was atrowshus back then.  I titled my picture In Flanders Fields, but to everyone else it read In Flitters Feld.  (I did not realize that field was plural.)

The teacher never mentioned my creative spelling, but it gave my parents a big laugh when I brought the picture home.  Every Remembrance Day, even as an adult, they would remind me how I had misspelled In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Finding Dimes

My mother was born on Christmas.  Her birthday was part of Christmas celebrations.  Instead of a birthday cake, my grandmother would make a Christmas pudding.  She would light the pudding, and my mother would try to blow the pudding out.  My grandmother hid a dime in the pudding, and my mother would always find the dime.  Every Christmas, right up to when she died, Ma would always find the dime.

After she died on November 9, 2002, my sisters and brother reported finding dimes.  They took it as a sign from Ma.  My niece reported that a dime flew off a shelf in the baby’s room.  No one knew how the dime got on the shelf in the first place.

I never found any dimes until about a year ago. One morning I said out loud, “Ma, how come I never find any dimes?”  That day I found a dime near a bus stop!  And occasionally I have found dimes since—especially when I am troubled about something.  Finding a dime stops me from feeling troubled because it’s my mother telling me that things will be okay.

This morning I said out loud, “Ma, you died 15 years ago today.  How about me finding a dime?”

As I was walking towards the washroom at College Park, there was a U.S. twenty-dollar bill on the floor.  Twenty dollars U.S.!  “Hey Ma,” I thought, “you outdid yourself!”

But the bill looked funny.  I took it to a bank, and it was counterfeit.

“Nice try, Ma.  Luv ya!”

 

A Confederacy Against Me

When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.

     – Jonathan Swift

Even though I am not a genius, there still is a confederacy against me.  People and public transit are always plotting against me.  People form long lines in front of me in grocery stores, at bank machines and washrooms.  They also crowd Toronto’s public transit so I rarely get a seat while traveling.   And Toronto’s public transit always delays me wherever I go.

It’s all about me.  It’s always all about me.  People and Toronto’s public transit have nothing better to do than to make my life miserable.

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’m self-centered and paranoid.   But being so doesn’t make me a bad person.

Know Thyself

“Know thyself.”  Wise words from Socrates.

After many years of self-reflection and countless consultations with teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, neurologists and religious leaders, I have reached a conclusion:  I am not a genius.

Sexual Harassment, Or Business As Usual?

 

I feel left out.  I was never groped by Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman or King Kong.  (Allegations against King Kong have not gone public, but he has a reputation for grabbing bananas and coconuts.)

I laugh when I hear people in the entertainment industry express shock over sexual harassment.   They act outraged and want us to believe that they did not know that it was going on.  Sexual harassment is part of the entertainment industry, and always has been.  Victims are afraid to speak up because the perpetrators have the power to affect careers.

How could Harvey Weinstein get away with sexual harassment all these years?  He had power.  He was part of The Elite.

Methinks Ol’ Harvey did something that pissed off The Elite, and suddenly his protection was gone.  Now victims, who were afraid to speak up before, can speak up now.  Harvey is under the bus.

Sexual harassment is business as usual.  It should not be this way, but it is.  And The Elite will make sure that they can get away with it as long as they have power.

(A scandal involving King Kong will hit the news any day now.)

 

At Odds With My Bowels

WARNING:  THIS BLOG CONTAINS TOO MUCH INFORMATION

I wish I could have one huge you-know-what in the morning before my shower, and no more you-know-whats for the rest of the day.  But I am at odds with my bowels.  Often they don’t wish to go along with my timing.  Some of my you-know-what may come out before my shower, but not all of it.

“Come on out and join your friends!” I shout to my you-know-what.  “I know you’re in there.  I can feel you.”

“Yes, we’re in here,” says my you-know-what, “but we’re not ready to come out.”

“What do ya mean you’re not ready to come out?  I’m near a toilet.  It’s a perfect time to come out.”

“No,” says my you-know-what, “we’re not ready.  We’re still doing our makeup.”

And so I reluctantly stop trying to make my you-know-what come out.  I have my shower and carry on with my day.

Later in the day when I am at a bus stop or anywhere not near a washroom, my you-know-what announces, “Okay, we’re ready to come out now.”

“What?  No, you can’t come out!  I’m not near a toilet.”

And my you-know-what says, “That’s okay.  We don’t need a toilet to come out.”

Perspective

A young man hobbled down the subway steps ahead of me.  His lower right leg was in a cast and he was using crutches.  I could not pass him.

“I’m sorry,” he said for holding me up.

“That’s okay,” I said.  “I’m in no rush.  Besides, I have eternity because I believe in an afterlife.”

He laughed.

“I guess you don’t realize how much you use your legs until one of them is out of commission,” I said.

“True, but I just spent the last five months in a wheelchair,” he said.  “Five months!”  How wonderful it is to be able to get around with crutches.”

On Reading

I used to feel obligated to keep reading a book that was boring me.  I would feel guilty abandoning the book—especially if the book was a classic.  I no longer feel this way.

What changed my feelings?  The realization that I was not going to live forever.  Why waste time forcing myself to read a book when there are so many books to read?  Why make reading drudgery?

Listen to me dead writers of classics!  If a book does not grab me, then I have no problem abandoning it and not feel guilty.  So there!

“Did you abandon Moby Dick?”

Herman Melville!  What brings you here?

“I’m the President of Dead Writers of Classics.  I just got elected.  I replaced Charlie.”

Charlie?

“Charles Dickens.  So, did you abandon my Moby Dick?”

No, I didn’t.  I was surprised how much humor you put in it.  There were times when I laughed out loud.  But I confess to skipping the long passages you wrote about whaling.  They did not grab me.

“Sorry about the whaling passages.  It was an industry I thought would always be around.”

That’s okay.  Overall I enjoyed your book.

“That’s good.  Well, I guess I should get back to being dead.”

Okay, thanks for stopping by.

TTC Customer Service

I had to go to the Toronto Transit Commission’s Customer Service office, at 1900 Yonge Street, today.  An adjustment to my Presto card could only be made in person and not online.

When I finally got to the customer service office, after several transit delays, the lineup of people waiting to be served was longer than the list of complaints against President Trump.  To give you an idea of the time it took to get through the line, there was a monkey in line ahead of me.  By the time the monkey got to the service counter, he was a human being.

There were six(?) service windows, but only three customer service reps.  As I waited for my turn, the lineup kept getting longer and longer.  But they never increased the number of customer service reps.

When I finally got to a service window, I mentioned the long lineup and slow service time.

“I’m sorry,” said the customer service rep, “but we don’t have the staff.”

Oh well, why should the slow service in the TTC’s Customer Service department be any different than riding the TTC?