career day

Acceptable Failures

NOTE: Yes, I’m publishing this article a day late, but my schedule yesterday was bogged down, and I’d rather ensure quality then rush through the process. For what it’s worth, I apologize for my tardiness.

Sometimes Life Doesn’t Listen

 

No matter how hard you try, if your goals just aren’t meant to be you’ll end up doing nothing but treading metaphorical water. It’s amazing, really, how fate always seems to know which direction to point you in, how it leads you back to the track you’re supposed to be on. Whether you believe it’s destiny or just the power of your own will doesn’t matter; there’s still some sort of guiding force that helps you along.

In my experience, the best thing to do when you encounter one of the stubborn elements of Life is to just let it ride. To roll with the punches for a bit and see where it takes you. I’m not saying you should drift forever, but sometimes you just need to let it pull you along for a bit. Eventually, though, we must all face the ugly truth: just because you have a lot of passion for a profession doesn’t mean you have the attitude or aptitude to be successful in it. I love art, but the only things I can paint are child-like abstract wiggles. It’s when you find yourself trapped in a job you’re not meant for that failure becomes positive.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, here’s the Daily Prompt that inspired this article:

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Futures Past

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?

 

One After Another, My Dreams Fell Like Dominoes

 

Because of the fact that just about anything in the world can draw my interest (I’m not kidding here) I went through a lot of different career plans throughout my childhood. After a while,  my focus would change for one reason or another, and eventually the practicality of such a profession would dissolve. I’d revisit those old goals occasionally, sometimes reviving them enough to work on them again, but it never went smoothly.

If I had succeeded in just one of the many jobs I’d yearned for when I was young I would be ‘sitting pretty’ right now. I’d be making large amounts of money (not only because I’d be good at those jobs, but also because they almost always pay well), have a bunch of fancy possessions, and would be able to afford buying a house and starting a family. Yes, I would have financial security, but the ‘other hand’ isn’t as pretty as this one. Every one of the fields I was enthusiastic about had at least one major stress factor involved. I might have made a lot of money in those jobs, but I’d be constantly working and have very little flexibility in my schedule. And what’s the point of having a family when you can’t spend any time with them?

It took me a while, but I finally figured out what I was meant to do. I’ve had a lot of false starts, too. I’ve attended (and failed) college twice (my grades had nothing to do with it, though), I’ve had a lot of entry-level jobs just stalemate on me, and even when I absolutely loved my position something still bottomed out somehow. It was frustrating, having so many professional issues and no idea what to do about it. But when I finally returned to the one job that holds me like a magnet, writing (of any kind), technology and the internet had given me more avenues for profit and success than the slim pickings that used to be available.

At this point, even though I can barely survive financially, I’m happy with the work I do, and I’m glad I didn’t end up stuck in something I hated. Sometimes it takes a lot of backtracking, even starting over, to find the right path, and I’m so relived to finally be where I’m supposed to be. From what I’ve seen, it takes a long time, and a lot of trial and error, for most people to figure out what they really want to do with their lives. That’s why I think it’s unfair when a parent or teacher puts so much pressure on the kids they care for, expecting them to have it all figured out before they’ve graduated high school. How can someone know, without a doubt, what they want to do for the rest of their life when they aren’t even old enough to drink yet?

career day

“Career Day” (http://tythecooldude06.deviantart.com/art/Career-Day-49394575) by tythecooldude06 (http://tythecooldude06.deviantart.com/) in its unaltered form. Used under a Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/legalcode)

 

I Get to Eat My Cake Every Day

 

The three most notable careers I was interested in was neurological surgery, law (starting as prosecutor, then working my way to judge), and massage therapy. I’m still a little bummed about missing out on two of them, but the upside to ending up where I am professionally is that I actually can “have my cake, and eat it, too”. I may never cut open someone’s brain, but I’ve picked up enough about medical science (and can learn even more on my own) to at least write about it. I’m not an expert, of course, but I can create articles geared for the public about every field I ever aspired to join.

All things considered, I ended up in the perfect career for me. It’s always been hard for me to completely focus on a single topic or interest, so being able to write about anything I want suits me well. The only regret I have is that it took me so long to get here.

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A Combination of Flaws

NOTE: Just to be clear, most of the retaliations I talk about below are things I wouldn’t actually do. I daydream of extravagant, semi-violent reactions all the time, but I rarely commit them in reality. I’m not an arsonist, and unlike most people, I typically think everything through and consider the effect something might have on those around me before I proceed. So I’d appreciate your understanding in this. Thank you.

I’m A Human Contradiction

I couldn’t resist responding to today’s Daily Prompt. Restraining myself publicly has become a huge part of my personality, to the detriment of my mental health, but it goes beyond that. I have a lot of anger, and I direct it indiscriminately, but even though I understand how unhealthy it is to bottle up emotions it seems I do that all the time, at least when strangers are involved. Anyway, before I get any further into this, here’s the topic of the day:

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Break the Silence When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.

 

Calm on the Outside, Seething on the Inside

I run into people who get on my nerves every single day, and, to be honest, it doesn’t take much to set me off in the first place. All it takes is some sort of rude, thoughtless, or stupid action (or a combination of the three) to make me start losing my mind. The Bi-Polar in me begs to be set loose, itching to at least verbally tear the offender a new one, if not escalate the confrontation to physical blows. Sometimes I don’t even want to say a single word to them, I just want to jump up and down on them (literally). If you could see into my mind when these thoughts start rolling the ferocity and graphic nature of them would probably make them cringe. This is why some say living with BPD is like being stuck in a horror movie. There’s a few things that hold me back from acting on my sinister urges, but the biggest one is the Social Anxiety Disorder I’ve had since childhood. Anyone with a strong case of BPD can tell you that losing control is all-too-easy when we’re provoked, and it usually leads to screaming at the very least, but my shyness and inability to establish meaningful conversations with strangers just won’t let me make an ass of myself. Instead, I usually end up bowing my head and walking away, but sometimes I do get to flash them an evil stink-eye stare to let the offenders know that their poor behavior didn’t go unnoticed. That’s it. In extremely rare cases (maybe every 10 years or so) I get pushed far enough to override my reticence, but it takes so much to get me to that point that most would feel my ‘victim’ had it coming anyway. You have no idea how badly I want to at least call some of these idiots out, especially when they’re blatantly rude, like not helping an elderly woman on the bus by freeing a seat for her, or when some moron actually tries to hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk (it’s happened to me several times). But unless they do something physical to me (like hitting me with a car or pushing me to the ground), are being the biggest jerk possible, or I’ve become at least a little familiar with them (I’ve seen them around because they live down the street or something) it’s not gonna happen. I think part of it also falls back to what my mother taught me as a child about manners, as well. Anyway, that’s enough explanation, I think.

Letters to Strangers

What I’m going to do here is craft imaginary letters to people who commit deplorable acts.  I’m only going to create two of them, but if the vengeful feel isn’t your cup of tea, and you want to read something a little more sentimental then hang with me for a bit. The first letter is centered around frustration and anger, but the second taps into something deeper, something that has caused myself and my family a lot of sorrow for over a year now.

 To the Morons Who Drive By My House Going 70 MPH

My house sits on the corner of a residential street (which I’ve called Garben Road in other posts) and a wide, busy numbered street that handles tons of traffic every day. For the most part, living on this corner provides a good balance of being in the suburbs while also having access to the businesses you find in more commercial areas. There are a few problems with the area, not the least of which is the gang activity, but one recurring issue really steams my clams: speeding. The speed limit on the large numbered street is never more than 45 MPH, but there’s a long, straight stretch of road for about 1/4 of a mile after the last light, and people love to race down that stretch. By the time they get near my house they’re usually going at least 65 MPH, and I’ve seen some of them exceed 75 MPH. This road is nothing like a highway, and the situation is beyond dangerous for the numerous kids and pets that live in this neighborhood, so it really gets under my skin when I see these careless idiots behaving in such a way. This letter is for them.
 

If you think no one notices your reckless behavior, and that you’ll never see any consequences for it, you’re dead wrong. I spend a lot of time outside every day and I’m watching you. I understand the urge, and I know how thrilling it can be to fly along in a car like that, but this isn’t the place for that! Do you have any idea what kind of havoc your actions could cause? Or do you just not care that you could end up killing someone? Every time I see one of you blast by I have to fight against the desire to scoop up a handful of rocks and chuck them into your windows. A wake-up call like that is exactly what you need, but I just can’t risk innocent people getting hurt in the process (which is highly possible since you’d probably lose control of your car and crash into one of the many houses around here). But I’ll tell you now, I’m done with standing idly by while you endanger the lives of dozens of children, pedestrians, and pets. The police may fail in catching people like you around here, but I won’t. You obviously need a lesson in safety, and I’m not afraid to give it to you. So, if speeders like you don’t stop this nonsense here’s some of the actions I’m willing to take:

  • I will take a lawn chair, my laptop, and a camera, and I’ll set up shop on the side of the road every day (as an author, I stay home all day, so I have the time for it). Along with posting cautionary signs up the road (which will warn you of not only the dangers of your actions, but also of the fact that I’m taking a stand), I’ll sit there documenting every car that passes. If I catch anyone excessively speeding I’ll take note of your license plate number, call the police, and hand over all the evidence to them so they can track you down (which will also include a video of your infraction).
  • Despite the possibility of getting into legal trouble myself, I am prepared to escalate this if my first technique fails. In that case, I’ll be creating picket signs that display my complaints and will protest on the side of the road. Any time I hear a speeder approaching (I can hear you guys a mile away, figuratively) I’ll walk out into the middle of the street and block you. And I swear, if you hit me I will slam you with a law suit that will strip the very pants off you. If it comes to this, I’ll also begin scouting for others in the area who are fed up with inconsiderate drivers so that we can create a human chain that blocks the entire street. It may sound stupid on my part, but if it makes this crap stop it’s worth it (and, just to be clear, I won’t mess with responsible drivers unless I absolutely have to).
  • My final line of defense applies more to the weekend drunk drivers that blast through here after several hours of partying at the local bars. I really don’t want to resort to this method, but I will if I have to. It only works at night, but I’ve done it before, and it has a pretty strong effect on drivers. If I keep seeing poor decisions rolling down the road I’ll simply light the road on fire. By pouring a flammable liquid (like rubbing alcohol) in a line across the road, I can wait for the right moment to ignite it and have it burning in just a few seconds. It will also continue to burn for a decent amount of time, and will be controlled enough to not set anything else on fire. Everyone, especially motorcyclists (which can be even worse than speeders in cars here), tends to think twice before driving across a line of fire.

I’m tired of seeing such selfish disregard day after day, so please stop being so stupid. Thank you.

To the Careless Woman Who Killed Barry

Barry is the person my next letter, which will be published at a later time, will be addressed to. He was my future father-in-law, but my relationship with him had transcended the typical interactions most people have with their in-laws. He passed away about a year and a half ago, and the circumstances of his death were upsetting, to say the least. I’ll present the precise details soon, but there were two responsible parties for his early passing: incompetent doctors and a selfish woman with a cold. This letter is what I would say to that woman if I could ever track her down.
 

We’ve never met, but I already dislike you. You took someone from me, from my family, and I don’t know if I can ever forgive you for that. Do you recall how you were a passenger on a flight to Los Angeles during the holiday season of 2012? You had caught some sort of virus that had spread like wildfire, one that was particularly nasty and tenacious. But rather than doing the right thing and staying home, you pushed on and exposed who knows how many people to your illness just for the sake of fulfilling your Christmas obligations to your friends and family. I can understand that situation, I know you’d have lost the money you’d paid for the ticket, but was it really worth causing a good person to die? Was it worth taking someone from us several decades before he should have passed on?

There were several precautions you could have taken to protect others, but you didn’t even try them. Barry’s widow was with him, and she remembers everything you did. She remembers you constantly coughing through the entire flight, and she remembers you never attempting to cover your mouth. You were sitting less than a yard from Barry! What did you expect would happen? That the crap you were spewing into the air would just float in the other direction? He tried everything possible to stave off the infection of your nastiness, but you were pumping out the pathogen at such an alarming rate it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d been on the other side of the plane from you. His wife also recalls your poor hygiene, how you’d wipe your nose with your bare hand, then touched everything around you. Do you even want to know what happened to him, or are you so apathetic and cold that you just don’t care?

A few days after the flight, Barry started showing signs of the cold he’d caught from you. It wasn’t hard for him to figure out where he’d come into contact with it, either. He was visiting his family for Christmas because his father was about to pass away, and he had to do this all while fighting the horrid symptoms of your little gift. He thought it was just like any other cold, and that he’d get over it soon, but by the time he and his wife made it to Portland to spend some time with my fiancé and I it was obvious that he was in bad shape. You see, he had asthma, and usually it didn’t affect him, but somehow that particular cold activated it, complicating his body’s response to the invasion. He was so sick when he got here that he could barely function. I’d known him a decade and I’d never seen him so ill before. He was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, so him catching something was shocking to begin with, even for his wife.

He spent a few days here, and we tried to convince him to go to a hospital, but he refused. He said he wanted to wait until they got home so he could see his regular doctor, but we all knew there was more to it than that. I think, deep down, he knew he was in peril. He knew his life was about to end, and he didn’t want his wife to be so far from home while he was laid up in the hospital. So he soldiered on for her sake, displaying his devotion and affection for her just like he did any other day. He was selfless and giving like that, especially when his wife was involved. He suffered for days, rarely leaving their hotel room and barely eating. By the time they got home he had to be taken to the emergency room because he couldn’t breathe.

He spent several days in the dinky little hospital near their home, which worried me since they lacked the proper equipment and doctors to treat him thoroughly. With every day his condition worsened, and by the time the idiots at the hospital finally figured out that they should air-lift him to a better facility it was too late. Less than an hour after the helicopter landed he stopped breathing, and they couldn’t resuscitate him anymore (it wasn’t the first time they’d had to bring him back). He’d ended up in a drug-induced coma and a ventilator a few days before the trip, so he didn’t have to feel the pain for a short while, but he shouldn’t have died.

If you had only covered your damn mouth we might still have him with us today. Because of you, Barry ended up dying before his own father. You have no idea how much pain you’ve caused my family, and you have no idea how badly I wish I could somehow give you a taste of what we had to go through. You better hope I never meet you in person.

Boundless Sarcasm – Pharming, Animal Dumping, and Stereotyping

Free at Last (Sort of)

 

Honestly, no one is every truly free, but my stint of jury duty is over and I finally have the time needed to pick up the pace here. And I have a lot of catching up to do. I know it’s a big ‘no no’ to post more than two articles in one day, but I’m just bursting with built up ideas, so today I’m gonna go against my nature and break the rules a little. I plan to finish up the series that started from the last Daily Prompt I participated in, but before I do that I’d like to go ahead and pound out the new one posted this morning.

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Game of Groans

Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not – your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.

 

A Little History

 

Before I get started I’d like to point out that I’m frequently sarcastic, as well as a pessimist, so I have a lot of grievances with the world. There’s so many things I could write about on this topic that I could actually create a series that lasted months (and I might, at that). That’s why I’ve chosen to use three actions that anger me, rather than one. Now, those of you that have read some of my previous posts know that when I expand beyond a single point it tends to backfire on me, causing  the discussion to stretch into way too many installments rather than the single article it should be, but I’m working on training myself against that habit, and today is my first attempt in controlling myself. Wish me luck!

 

Awesomeness!

 

Alright, first I’ll detail the ‘cons’ for each topic:

Pharming

Pharming is a euphemism used by teens in reference to abusing prescription drugs in an attempt to get high, and usually the practice involves drinking alcohol or combining more than one drug. ‘Pharming Parties‘ are secretive gatherings of teens where each attendee brings pills they’ve either stolen from family and/or friends, purchased from dealers, or obtained from doctors after skillfully faking symptoms. In some cases, they trade with each other directly, but there have been occasions where a large salad bowl or container will be placed in the middle of the room so that everyone can deposit their contributions into it. The dangerous larder is then mixed thoroughly so that everyone can randomly select a few pills to take, usually having no clue exactly what they’ve grabbed or what kind of interactions they might experience.

Some claim that the media coverage on this issue have blown the threat out of proportion, saying that these parties aren’t the epidemic some might think they are, but, regardless of their frequency, they are still extremely perilous, and they still take place from time to time. However, there is an upside to all of this:

  • If you’re a geek, nerd, or outcast attending Pharming Parties could boost you up the social ladder, especially if you’re amusing when you’re high. It’s a great way to make real friends.
  • If you have ADD or ADHD chances are you’ll end up grabbing some Ritalin or Adderall, which are frequently used at the parties, and are the best medications for Attention Deficit. So you’ll actually be doing yourself some good.
  • Most of the people who show up know more about the pills they have than the doctors that prescribe them, and if something bad happens you can be sure that they’ll know how to save your life. They’ve spent hours studying the medical field online, after all. You can always partake in confidence.
  • If the cops show up you’ll be so high that you won’t care at all when they handcuff you, toss you into the uncomfortable back seat of their cruiser, and take you to jail. Popping pills is totally worth destroying your future, and since you’re under 18 the judge and prosecuting attorney will probably go easy on you, especially if you blame peer pressure.
  • If you do die at least you won’t have to worry about turning in your math homework on Monday.
  • Pills are harmless, and using them is a lot safer than taking street drugs, like heroine and meth.

Animal Dumping

The term ‘Animal Dumping’ is pretty self-explanatory, but it can take many forms. Some people end up in a dire situation where they have no choice but move to a new home that doesn’t allow pets, so they leave them behind at their previous residence. Others don’t consider the responsibility when adopting pets, find out their in way over their head, and release them some place far from home so they can’t find their way home. An unplanned pregnancy can put a lot of strain on a family, and most turn to abandoning the babies as soon as they’re done weaning. Everyone has their own reasons for doing this, but a lot of the time it comes down to avoiding the perceived shame and embarrassment associated with turning the animals over to shelter staff. Some are so desperate to end ‘the problem’ quietly that they even gather the kittens, puppies, whatever, into a sack and throw them out the window of their car as they drive down the road. Dumping a pet is unnecessary and cruel, but there are major advantages to both humans and animals when they are let loose to fend for themselves:

  • Finding a new owner for your pets can take months. Throwing your pet outside only takes moments.
  • Studies show that cats who have owners are more likely to be obese and develop other diseases as a result of the imbalance between exercise and readily available food, which humans cause through pampering and protection. Living ‘in the wild’ ensures that they don’t eat too much, and the high amounts of energy required to catch their own sustenance keeps them in shape and at the proper weight.
  • When a cat or dog lives past the age that they’d normally die around if they were feral they usually end up in a lot of pain from diseases like arthritis, organ failure, and dental decay. The constant danger they face on their own ensures that they’re unlikely to live long enough to suffer. It’s more humane, if you really think about it.

Stereotyping

Being stereotyped or discriminated against simply because of your personal attributes is one of the worst experiences a person could have, and it’s certainly unacceptable behavior in some cases, but it has its uses and it’s not as evil as some make it seem.

  • Let’s face it: most stereotypes have been proven to be true most of the time. If you’re in a bad neighborhood and you see someone dressed like a gang member chances are they are one. They probably have a gun, too, or at the least a can of spray paint. If you see a bunch of cars parked on someone’s lawn they probably drink a lot, and there’s a good chance they live on welfare or have a very low-paying job. If someone says they’re Mormon they probably have 10 kids at home. If you see a teen dressed in nothing but black clothes, with their hair all spiked up and crazy, their face covered in piercings and weird makeup, they’re probably suicidal and hate everyone.
  • Using stereotypes to judge people at first glance is a major time-saver. Before they say a single word you’ll already know if they’re the kind of person you want to associate with. This cuts down on the wasteful conversations you’d have to go through just to get to know someone. Why bother when the clothes they’re wearing say everything already. Am I right?
  • Stereotyping allows law officials to pick out potential criminals and trouble makers from crowds efficiently. It assists them in protecting good, law-abiding citizens and makes paying taxes more tolerable since you know they’re doing everything possible to actually earn the money we pay them. So when you see a cop ‘harassing’ someone because of preconceived notions you should thank him, not shun him.

 

In Reality

 

If I do turn this into a series of articles this will be the time when I reveal any relevant facts against my fake arguments, as well as how I really feel about what I’ve previously said. I’m not going to do this today because this post is already too long. But if you plan on leaving a comment please, please, please keep in mind that everything I’ve said is the exact opposite of my own views (well, except the opening paragraphs for each topic). While a few of the facts I’ve stated are true that doesn’t mean I actually support the actions those points are defending. I just wanted to make that perfectly clear.

 

Thank you for stopping by!

A Ghostly Family Reunion

NOTE: This post is a continuation of a previous fiction article I wrote in response to a Daily Prompt. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to read the opening of the story here. Thanks!
 

Dinner With The Dead – Part Two

 

As promised, here’s the second part of my response to today’s Daily Prompt.

 

A Ghostly Family Reunion

 

An unidentifiable sensation on my face demanded attention, effectively drawing me back to the present. The damp daubing on my forehead felt almost like a tongue swiping my skin. The ludicrous mental image that raised was enough to grant my mind some control over my body once again. As I fought to open my eyes my mind forced my mouth to function.

“Wha… hapen?” I slurred, my tongue still lethargic. My sight cleared enough to find Daniella hovering above me, a small towel in her hand. It was then that I finally realized I was laying on my back, the underside of my dining table before me. A sharp pain suddenly flared to life in my head as Daniella gently brushed the cloth along a tender spot at my temple, causing me to hiss in reaction.

With a sigh, Daniella detailed the incident. “You fainted. It’s a pretty common reaction, really. I take great precautions so no one gets hurt, which is why we always perform summonings while sitting down, but usually my clients slump forward, so the table saves them. Unfortunately, you fell sideways, which also made it impossible for me to catch you in time. You also hit your head on the edge of the table on your way down. It’s pretty bad, so I think I should take you to the hospital.”

I closed my eyes for a moment, hoping it would not only help them focus, but also help me sort out the details floating throughout my muddled thoughts. Little bits of recent memory were easy to recall, but the whole picture eluded me. The babbling of several different voices finally penetrated my mind, delivering a jarring reminder of the strange task we’d performed just before I’d reacted so strongly. “No!” I exclaimed, denying the idea of getting professional treatment. I attempted to sit up, but my movements were too hasty, and a distressing dizziness assailed me. Resisting the combination of my disorientation and Daniella gently pushing me back to the floor was futile, so I conceded and settled back into a prone position. “You told me we could only keep them here for a few hours. I’ll see a doctor after we’re done here.”

Daniella considered my face for a moment, an expression of indecision that I’d never seen her wear before pulling her eyebrows together. She looked as though she might protest my foolish decision, but she knew better than anyone that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to repeat tonight’s event. Our success was practically a miracle to begin with. Grudgingly, she nodded her assent, and gently assisted me in getting back into my chair.

“Here,” Daniella said in a bland, commanding tone as she handed me the wet cloth she’d been using on my wound. “Keep that on you left temple, and be sure to moisten it every so often from that ice water.” She indicated a mixing bowl on the table in front of me, then took her seat.

The vocalizing that had droned on during my interaction with the floor abruptly ceased, and every person in the room, both dead and alive, granted me their full attention. It was disconcerting, to say the least. “So.” I said weakly, unsure of where to start in such a strange situation. Before I could begin to voice the dozens of questions swirling through my mind a man siting on the other side of the table seized control.

“Have you got anything decent to eat?” The man demanded, his thick Scottish accent in keeping with the kilt he wore and the bristling beard he wore, which happened to be a similar shade to my own hair. His voice, which was the type that carried well, reverberated as if the room couldn’t contain the cacophony as he continued. “I’m starving. I haven’t eaten in about 600 years, y’ know.”

I turned to Daniella, the question of whether the reanimated dead could digest food or not on my lips, but a snort of derision preempted me. “Bloody Scots! Always more concerned with trifles.” The male tone was rife with disdain, the inflection blatantly English. I turned my attention to the speaker, finding a young man who looked to be barely out of his teens. His accouterments suggested he’d lived sometime in the 16th century. The Scotsman glared at the Englishman in silence, the tension between them growing to uncomfortable heights. Everyone present could sense the waves of hostility circulating between the two men. A young woman I hadn’t noticed before, who was wearing an elaborate dress and had cowered in the corner, hunkered down into her protective stance even more. The fear on her face was painful to behold.

Before I could circumvent the imminent violence brewing around us I was interrupted yet again. I ground my teeth, my anger burning every part of me from my most hated of slights, as the altercation escalated. The Scotsman rose to his full height, his figure imposing, and drew a large sword for the scabbard on his back, pointing the tip directly at the Englishman’s eye. “I should do everyone a favor and take of your head here and now.”

My ‘bull shit cup’ finally ran over at that threat, causing me to leap onto the table, my balance still shaky. My ire pushed me beyond normal concerns, assisting me in climbing into position. Once I was looming above the antagonistic males I released my own brand of fury. “Enough!”

My bellow took everyone by surprise, causing the girl in the corner to whimper. I pushed away the guilt from frightening her and concentrated on appearing as imposing as impossible, which wasn’t an easy feat considering my size. I pinned the men back with my most aggressive of glares. “I didn’t ask you guys here so you could bicker, and we’re a tad short on time. A lot’s changed since you were alive, and your behavior is no longer acceptable. So I want to you sit down, shut up, and be civilized. Understood?!”

The Englishman gave me a bland stare before taking on a bored appearance, but the Scotsman was a little more stubborn, meeting my eye directly in a challenge of superiority. “And since when do women give commands?” His eyes narrowed, his posture hinting at how dangerous he could truly be. Unfortunately for him, I was made of sterner stuff than the generally submissive women he was used to.

I cranked up my ‘evil eye’ stare, then quickly scooped up the little bronze statue Daniella had brought for the ceremony. It depicted an attractive woman, but beyond that I had no clue what the figure symbolized. The meaning behind the hefty object had no bearing on my use for it, however, so I set my grip around the slimmest section of it and wielded it like a baton. The man’s shock at being openly contested by the opposite sex froze him in place, giving me plenty of time to pull back and swing my makeshift weapon at his head. The fact that he was already dead meant I didn’t have to worry about doing severe damage to his thick skull, so I happily packed a good deal of force behind the wallop, aiming for the very top of his head. The contact between metal and empty head caused a curious noise, part thud and part metallic ching. He swayed on his feet for a moment, taken aback from the attack, but he retained consciousness. Without another word, he complied with my demands for decency and took his seat.

“Now,” I said with authority and I tried to step down from the table with dignity. Once I was back in my seat I continued in a business-like manner. “I haven’t called all of you here just so we could hang out. I’d like to ask you some questions-”

“Who are you?” A new voice asked, which was smooth and deep. It belonged to an older man, one of the four Native Americans that sat clustered together. His eyes were bright with intelligence and curiosity.

“I’m sorry, that was rude of me.” I said, somehow not offended by him interrupting me. “My name is Anna and all of you are related to me in some way. You’re my family.”

I’ve never met you before,” another of the Native Americans stated in a suspicious tone. She was a rotund, substantial woman, and until that moment she’d spent every second granting glares to the light-skinned compliment of the gatherers, myself included. “I know all of my family.”

“Well, I can assure you that I am a member of your family,” I said slowly, my irritation at her stubborn behavior irrepressible. “You don’t know me because all of you have been dead for quite some time.” The woman grunted in response and turned her attention back to starring balefully at anyone who fit the classic description of the ‘white man’.

DEAD?! What do you mean, dead!? I can’t be dead!” A strident female voice, filled with hysteria, sprang out from the corner of the room. With a sigh of resignation, I turned toward the girl who had forced herself into the corner. I expected her to have the same frazzled expression as before, but the wild look in her eyes, like she was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, caused a stab of worry to run through my chest.

“It’s alright,” Daniella said, forestalling the appeal of help I was about to voice. She rose from her chair and began to slowly pace toward the girl in the corner, her hands held out in front of her body as if she were warding off an angry animal. As she walked past me she gave me a look that suggested that very bad things were about to happen, and that those horrid happenings would be entirely my fault. My apprehension grew by leaps and bounds. “It’s alright”

“No! IT’S NOT!” The girl suddenly screamed at the top of her lungs, just as Daniella had drawn near her. Before anyone could react to the overt hostility the girl was projecting through voice and body language she attacked, moving so fast that my eyes couldn’t follow her. Before I could comprehend just what had happened a blurry version of Daniella flew past me, not a single inch of her touching the floor. Now that I knew the truth behind people like Daniella I was aware that they couldn’t, in fact, fly, or float, or levitate, so I knew it wasn’t some parlor trick on the practitioner’s part. The speed of her passing generated a wind that caressed my face, causing tendrils of my hair to follow in her wake.

I watched in stunned silence as the strong, self-assured woman flew across the yards of open space and connected with the opposite wall, the force strong enough to knock her out entirely, her body slumping to the floor with an appearance that I devoutly hoped didn’t signal death. As one, the living complement, and a few of the ‘others’, in the room turned to regard the ghostly assailant. Silence reigned supreme once again. What had once been a pitiful looking girl, scared out of her own mind, now stood tall and large as an antagonist, a fierce expression a testament to her inner darkness. The girl slowly scanned the occupants of the room, finally settling her attention on one lone figure: me. Before I could react she was on me, her attack indefensible.

 

To Be Continued (Again)

 

I know this is going to get annoying, but this story is becoming a lot of fun and I think one more installment will make it just the right length. So keep a look out for Dinner with the Dead Part 3! I’ll be sure to post a link here. Thanks!

Dinner With The Dead

I’m Back in the Saddle Again

 

I know it’s unlikely that everyone was biting their nails in anticipation of my next post, but it’s still no bueno for me to just disappear for extended periods of time. With several birthdays, Mother’s Day, and urgent obligations I had no choice but to abandon my digital refuge for a while, but I plan to rectify the situation and make up for lost time. I have so many things to write about, so I almost don’t know where to start. Luckily, today’s Daily Prompt is quite interesting (as was yesterday’s), so I think I’ll start there. Let’s take a look.

 

 Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Modern Families

If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?

 

This question delights me since I’ve always had a strong interest in my bloodlines (and that of others), and anyone who knows me is aware of my ability to seize any moment possible to discuss such matters. When most people first meet me and take notice of my strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin, short stature, and slim build they usually think one of two things: This girl is really Irish! and/or Is this girl an albino or something? (I’ve actually had people flat-out ask me that question). Those speculations amuse me to no end because my lineage is unexpectedly convoluted, so when I reveal the truth of the matter most people end up on the verge of shock. Some people even think I’m lying when I tell them ‘the whole story’ behind my family.

Because of my family’s link to a handful of different cultures, I’ve decided to approach today’s Daily Prompt with a broader method. Instead of meeting just one of my ancestors I’ll present one from each of the major ethnic groups, thus provided a sort of ghostly family reunion. I had thought to write this out as an article, but I think it would be more entertaining if I just use fiction to tell the tale. Keep in mind that the characters themselves will be entirely fictional (for sanity’s sake, since it would take forever for me to track down the records of my actual relatives), so don’t expect to find historical stories about these people. Alright, time for the fun part.

 

Dinner with the Dead

 

“Are you ready?” A delicate, smooth voice asked me. I directed my glance to the woman standing to my right, meeting her gaze steadily. I hadn’t known Daniella long, but the confidence and professionalism she projected had caused me to trust her rather quickly. A calm quirk of her lips did wonders with settling my nerves, bolstering my own certainty of success in the strange ritual we were about to perform. I gave her a short nod in response and silently moved with her to take our seats, she at the head of my dining table and myself directly to her left. The four other people, who were quietly conversing in a corner, followed our cue and took their places, their positions spread out around the substantial oak surface.

As Daniella assembled the tools she required for the task we were about to undertake I examined the appearances of the other so-called shamans, still skeptical of their prowess. They all looked entirely ordinary, one of the men even dressed like an investment banker, every element of his impressive business suit well made and stylish. Daniella herself looked like a typical suburban housewife, like she belonged in a mini-van full of kids bound for a soccer game. If it hadn’t been for the assurances of several of my trusted friends and family members I never would have considered handing over the thousands of dollars she required as a fee for her services. Daniella’s efficient completion of her preparations curtailed any further speculations I might have had, her voice demanding I heed my attention to her and nothing else.

“Have you the sacrifice, Anna?” Daniella asked me, referring to the object we’d discussed a week before. She’d explained that our ambitious goal required a good deal of power, saying that I’d have to prove my willingness to the Great Power by relinquishing an object that I deeply loved. It had been a tough decision for me, but I’d eventually found the perfect sacrifice. I retrieved the baby blanket I’d owned since the day I was born from under my chair and reluctantly handed it to her. She reverently caressed the soft fabric, her eyes expressing her empathy with my loss. She then placed my tattered childhood treasure on the table and examined her peers. “You all remember the steps I emailed you, right?”

The nods of affirmation from Daniella’s comrades held no hesitancy. Clearing her throat and closing her eyes, she drew in a deep breath and the others followed suit. I remembered from our previous conversations that their acts were meant to clear their minds, allowing them to gather their inner power. Their slightly odd behavior only lasted a short moment, and once they opened their eyes Daniella picked up my baby blanket and swiftly ripped a strip of fabric from it. She placed the strip to her right, laying it flat on the table’s wooden surface, then proceeded to tear another shred from my most beloved possession. Her face was filled with concentration, a testament to the incantation I knew she was reciting in her head. Once she placed the second piece of blanket to her left, in the empty space between us, she passed the remainder of the blanket to the woman who sat to her right.

The process continued with the rest of the spiritual practitioners, each one violating my memory-laden blanket to produce the two strips, each one arranging the fruits of their labor in the empty spaces along the table. When the last man was done with his part he situated the remaining portion of the abused blanket on the exact center of the table, thus bypassing my participation in the routine. I let out the breath I’d unwittingly held during the entire process.

“Alright, Anna,” Daniella broke the silence, addressing me directly. “I need you to focus as intently as possible on our goal for tonight. You can use any kind of meditation techniques you know, even close your eyes if you have to, but you must clear your mind of everything but our intent.”

“I understand,” I assured her gravely. She had explained numerous times just how important this step of the process was, so I mentally conjured the best methods I’d researched over the previous weeks and began to calm my thoughts.

Once Daniella was satisfied with my acquiescence she stretched her arm across the space between us and clasped my hand to hers. She repeated the process with the woman on her right and the others along the table’s edge completed the circle. Complete silence descended as we all did our part to accomplish the impossible. As time lapsed I began to lose heart, but my tenacity pushed me on. Just as a nasty headache was beginning to settle in the back of my head a hazy figured appeared, perched in the chair across from me. My sharp intake of breath caused Daniella’s eyes to snap in my direction, their strict message clear: Don’t stop!

I forced myself to continue, watching as the blurry form coalesced into the unmistakable shapes of a young woman. Before she fully formed several other indistinct images appeared around the table, each positioned in front of a corresponding shred of fabric. Once achievement was in sight everything seemed to happen quickly, the simultaneous appearance of our ethereal guests too fast to entirely follow. Before the full weight of my shock could settle in eight new bodies had joined us, looking as real as any other living human. Each one wore the clothing typical of the times they’d lived in, varying from roughly constructed bits of hide and leather to the elaborate dress expected of more ‘civilized’ cultures. When Daniella released my hand, folding her own in her lap, I couldn’t resist the urge to slowly reach out to the gruff-looking man on my left, my finger quivering as they made contact with solid, warm flesh. An excited giggle built in my chest, escaping my lips despite my attempt to retain my composure. But it wasn’t every day that one was able to meet their long-dead ancestors in the flesh, so to speak!

As my eyes traveled around the table, voraciously recording every detail of my kin to permanent memory, a strange sensation washed over me, faint but undeniable. I tried to shake the weakness away, but it only intensified. The pounding of my heart extending into my extremities, its reach growing until it resided in my head. A few deafening thumps later, a startling darkness overwhelmed my vision, the sensation unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I didn’t have long to ponder the curious ailment or its onset since a minuscule moment later I collapsed into nothing, awareness eluding me entirely.

 

To Be Continued

 

I know this is annoying for readers, but it’s far worse to publish an article that runs on and on in my opinion. This post was beginning to get quite unruly, so I’ve decided to split it into multiple parts. Don’t worry, the continuation will be posted shortly, so you won’t have to wait a week for the conclusion or anything like that. I’ll post the link here as soon as it’s published, which will include a rather strange conversation and a minor bludgeoning. See you there!

Reason to Believe: Part Two

This article is a continuation to a previous discussion for a Daily Prompt. While it isn’t required to read the first part I would appreciate it if you did. The first part can be found here.

 

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Reason to Believe

In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. What’s your reason to believe?

 

Verse by Verse

As I said before, I think the best way to present my answers is by going through each verse. Remember, these are just my own interpretations of these lyrics. The beauty of music is that everyone hears something different.

Verse One

Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog lyin’ by the highway in a ditch 
He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled pokin’ that dog with a stick 
Got his car door flung open he’s standin’ out on highway 31 
Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and run 
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me 
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe 

This verse demonstrates how some can have faith in the impossible being accomplished, or hoping for a miracle even when observing death. We know, without a doubt, that death is final, but there’s always that lurking anticipation that maybe a higher power could negate it. This verse makes me think of something in my life that isn’t entirely impossible, but the odds are stacked against me. I’ve dedicated a huge amount of time and energy to growing my career, so much so that I work seven days a week, and sometimes spend 16 hours of the day on my computer. My goals are high, eventually culminating in a company I’ve dreamed of establishing that will take a stand against the dirty business practices so many giant corporations have used to make an extra buck.

In my current situation it will take several more years of near-constant struggle to get there, and there’s no certainty that I’ll see a return on my efforts. I own nothing of value and can’t even get a micro-loan, so there’s a lot of factors against me. The same goes for my writing career. I’d love to someday attain the type of prestige authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have achieved, but the chances are slim. Every day I face failures and discouraging results as the ‘fruit of my labors’, but I still keep trying. However, it isn’t any sort of faith that urges me to open my laptop every morning, especially not in myself.

I’ve dealt with poverty since my earliest memories. I know that the only way I can dig myself out of this hole is to work, work, work, so that’s what I do. But it isn’t just myself that I want to help. Because of my direct experience with many of the darker aspects of life I’ve always wanted to help others to overcome their past. If my only concern was bettering my life I’m sure I’d never reach my goals, but thinking of the thousand, even millions, of people and animals that also yearn for a brighter future pushes me to carry on more than any enticement or daydream of glory every could.

Verse Two

Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true 
She said baby I’ll work for you everyday and bring my money home to you 
One day he up and left her and ever since that 
She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back 
Struck me kinda funny funny yea indeed how at the end of every hard earned day you can find some reason to believe 

This verse shows how love can be blind, how affection can hide the truth from you despite the clear evidence that you’ve been used and abandoned. I’ve been in a similar situation, but with a different ending. I feel in love with my third boyfriend very quickly, partly because I was young and naïve, but after a few months a mutual friend delivered some distressing news: another girl that he’d shown interest in for some time had moved back into town and he was trying to convince her to start a relationship with him. He didn’t even have enough respect for me to tell me to my face, and avoided me for the two weeks that this took place. All he told me was that he needed time to think and he’d let me know.

Over the time that we were apart I never got angry; I only fell into a depression at the thought of losing him. When he later returned to me he insinuated through a vague explanation that he’d chosen me over the other girl, but I soon found out from another source that that had been a lie. The reason he stayed with me was actually because the other girl had turned him down, telling him that she had no interest in him, but even after hearing that I still wanted to be with him.

With the assistance of a previous ex-boyfriend, I later realized that I deserved better than someone who could leave me so easily, so I ended the relationship, but at the time of our discourse my love-induced delusions about him made me willing to do anything to get him back. That’s what made me believe that he would choose me and be faithful once we resumed our relationship. I was wrong, of course, since he cheated on me after that, but perceived love can be very strong. My proof is the scar that runs down my arm, a result of my broken mind turning to pain in an attempt to distract itself from the emotional anguish I was going through.

 Verse Three

Take a baby to the river Kyle William they called him 
Wash the baby in the water take away little Kyle’s sin 
In a whitewash shotgun shack an old man passes away take the body to the graveyard and over him they pray Lord won’t you tell us, 
Tell us what does it mean 
At the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe 

I found this verse very interesting since, to me, it talks about people keeping their faith in their god even after said god has taken someone they love from them. It’s also a fantastic description of the cycle we must all follow and how people can continue living their lives even thought they realize death will come for them some day. I’ve actually struggled with this one a bit, but eventually the will of someone I cared about helped me soldier on.

The bond I had with my mother was so strong that even as a child I couldn’t imagine my life without her. Psychiatrists call it enmeshment and say it’s unhealthy (which I can understand now), but there were a lot of upsides to such a relationship. She was my best friend and greatest confidant. She happened to be a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with emphysema when she was in her 40’s. As she came into her 50’s the disease tore her apart, and smoking two packs a day certainly didn’t help. I knew her death was imminent, but I had no clue how I was going to live without her, so suicide became even more appealing than it already had been (see The Value of Stupidity). I couldn’t lie to her, so I never hid my intentions, and it was my blatant behavior that stopped me.

Any time I hurt my mom it destroyed me, even if it was an accident, so when she responded exactly as a loving mother would by telling me how much she didn’t want me to die with her it penetrated my fear of being without her. I’d always held her needs above my own, even to the point of stalling my career so I could care for her and spend time with her, so her resistance to my plan is what prevented me from following her the day she died. It was her belief in me, that I could function, even thrive, without her that kept me alive.

Verse Four

Congregation gathers down by the riverside 
Preacher stands with his bible, groom stands waitin’ for his bride 
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weepin’ willow tree 
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly 
Wonderin’ where can his baby be still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Ah, love. Once again, another clear example of how love makes you ignore what could emotionally crush you. Really, it’s more of a survival instinct than anything else. This verse is a little different, though, since there’s no suggestion that the groom has been hurt by his bride before. His devotion to her is so strong that he believes something bad would have happened before the chance that she got cold feet and ran. I’ve never been stranded at the altar (knock on wood), but I have experienced an unexpected break (who hasn’t?)

When I was 15 my family moved to a small town where everyone knew each other and shortly after I started dating my second boyfriend. He had a very bad reputation for breaking hearts and only staying with any one girl for a few weeks at most, but we’d clicked really well (or so I thought). We’d built a friendship beforehand and he’s still one of my friends to this day, so I know we get along well. Everything was progressing nicely and I was deliriously happy, but one day he wouldn’t say a single word to me. Before that he’d always seemed eager to see me, but later that day he broke up with me by handing me a note (why I always ended up with guys that didn’t respect me enough to deliver bad news in person I’ll never know).

Despite my thorough understanding of his distant, promiscuous habits (stories abounded about his exploits, and every one of them had the ring of truth to them) that note was the last thing I’d expected from him.

 

What do you see when you read these lyrics?

Lyrics found at AZLyrics.com.

I Don’t Have Beliefs, But I Do Have Ideas

Because this article became unruly by the time I finished it I’ve decided to break it into two parts. If you’re interested in reading my interpretation of the lyrics of Reason to Believe there will be a link to it at the bottom of this post.

My Brain Hurts!

I have to say, whoever wrote today’s Daily Prompt kind of stumped me for a bit. Of course, trying to figure out a viable answer to such a strong, open question when you haven’t even had coffee yet gets a little tedious, but I think I’ve got my answer figured out. I took a moment to look up the lyrics for the song mentioned in the question (I’m not a huge Springsteen fan, but my mom loved him), and noticed that he speaks of a few different aspects of life to believe in, so I figure I’ll give a quick example and answer for each verse. But before I do that (and before some people mistake me as an atheist) I’d like to explain the title I chose for today’s article.

Religion Means More Than Following a Set of Rules

If you’ve never seen the movie Dogma then I urge you to track down a copy somehow, but I have to warn you that some who are very serious may end up offended from this film. It was never meant to be an affront to organized religion, merely one man’s take on the behavior of certain religious practitioners. He demonstrates his own idea of Christianity as well. Every scene is rife with comedy, but important points and lessons lay beneath the typically light dialogue. Dogma is one of the best movies I have ever seen, but that doesn’t guarantee  that everyone else will love it, too. The scene from which I’ve derived my title involves a woman on a holy quest who’s asking a man named Rufus (portrayed by Chris Rock), who was once the 13th Apostle and, therefore, knew Jesus first hand, to explain what Jesus was really like. He has many interesting answers for her, but one was absolutely brilliant. Here’s the discussion:

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.

Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good?

Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…

Source: IMDB

There’s nothing wrong with having beliefs, but history has shown us how difficult it can be to adjust them. Everything is always changing around us; our way of life, our ideals about beauty, our views on morals and what constitutes a sin. It only makes sense that eventually those beliefs will have to adapt as well. They don’t need to be completely overhauled and rewritten from scratch, but small tweaks do need to be made. Here’s an example that George Takei posted on Facebook:

An interesting sermon comparing the similarity between divorce and homosexuality in the bible.

An interesting sermon comparing the similarity between divorce and homosexuality in the bible.

I could go on and on about this topic, but it seems I’ve digressed from the question at hand, so let’s move on.

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Reason to Believe

In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. What’s your reason to believe?

 

 Answer

 

I know this article doesn’t seem to make much sense as an answer to the Daily Prompt (I seem to be thinking like a ferret today), but I couldn’t make myself delete everything. When considering only the content of the question itself it’s very difficult for me to answer. I don’t even know exactly what beliefs they’re talking about. Do they mean religious beliefs? Faith in love? The surety that everything will work out even though the present is horrible? It’s because of this that I decided to break down the song by verse and write out my take on the song itself. So…

 

Be sure to read Reason to Believe: Part Two

Fearlessness – How Much is Too Much?

 
*NOTE: The fearlessness aspect of this article is actually derived from the Daily Prompt and not just an attempt to misdirect readers to another topic. This is based on a memory I had of a food challenge at a sushi restaurant that involved eating an entire roll that contained ghost chilies (the hottest pepper known to man). The cooks who prepared the rolls had to wear goggles because concocting it was dangerous, and most of the people who attempted to eat it ended up in the hospital, some in very bad shape. That’s what led me to pondering the boundaries of being bold, and it made me curious about where the line falls for other people.

 

Alright…

 

When I first read today’s Daily Prompt I was a little disappointed. The question was so simple and boring (sorry!) I thought I’d never come up with an article longer than 100 words. If I’d taken the straightforward approach this post would be drab, but after thinking on it a few minutes hours I think I’ve figured out how to answer this question in a fun way. What’s really nice is that the seemingly mundane Daily Prompt has now inspired a new series I’d like to start, known as How Much is Too Much. As you’ve probably guessed, this series will take a look at the extremes of certain actions in an attempt to understand what everyone feels in acceptable. Now, these articles will work best if a discussion actually ensues after it’s posted, so please feel free to drop a line with your perspective. Alright, enough chit-chat!

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Ring of Fire

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

 

 My Answer

 

Here’s my cut-and-dry response to today’s question:

I absolutely love spices, so much so that Mexican cuisine is my all-time favorite ethnic food (the real Mexican food, not the Americanized stuff like Taco Bell), but there is a limit to my tolerance of it.

Now, Let’s Have Some Fun

 

The only other information I could add to that answer is the fact that I used to take down super spicy food with no problems, but now I can’t because of a medication I have to take that makes my tongue sensitive. Now I have trouble with ‘mild’ curry, and I had to switch to the mild Pace from the medium I used to adore. Do I miss being able to enjoy heat? Of course! But it isn’t worth going off my medications for it.

One of my favorite principles involves balance. There’s always an ebb and flow to everything in life, but nature holds evidence that all the components work together so they can eventually obtain harmony. A perfect example is ecosystems; as soon as you remove a certain type of animal or plant everything else in that area goes haywire, causing complete mayhem for those that remain.

Fearlessness can be a very handy attribute, and those who posses it are usually admired, but there’s a limit where it becomes ridiculous. And, of course, the opposite of fearlessness (cowardice, timidity) is just as unappealing at times. Everyone has their own opinion and their own boundaries when it comes to such behavior, so if you have a spare moment feel free to leave a comment with your own views on this topic.

 

Fearlessness

 

Being fearless usually means you have the strength to accomplish feats that most people would shy away from, but this edge can be misused. I can empathize a bit with thrill seekers, and some people think I’m a little nuts because I want to sky dive and bungee jump, but there are risks that even I won’t take.

For me, the line between reasonable fun and behaving like an idiot isn’t immediately apparent. Some feel that anything involving dangerous heights is too much, but some acts that look like a suicide attempt are actually safer than most think. I always try to look at the whole picture, which is why I wouldn’t cliff dive for a million dollars, but I’d love to go sky diving. Here’s how I compare them:

Cliff Jumping

Though some don’t realize it, cliff jumping is quite dangerous, even at a lower height. The only way you can know exactly how deep the water is and what may lay underneath the surface is by using gear to dive and explore that entire area. I’ve heard countless stories about people jumping off cliffs with perfect form only to run head-first into submerged cars and other detritus, effectively killing themselves. Another issue involves your nerves, which will try to restrain you. If the urge is strong enough it will slow you just enough to throw off you jump, causing you to end up too close to the face of the cliff. If there happens to be an outcropping below you it’s almost certain you’re going to break bones when you collide with it. The third large risk of cliff jumping is hitting the water at a skewed angle. Unless you’re on a prestigious diving team the chances are decent that you’ll end up swiveling mid-air by accident. The impact with the surface of the water could be so intense that it throws you into shock, and at the least you’ll probably get the wind knocked out of you or end up with that horrible stinging sensation associated with bad belly flops.

Sky Diving

The key to being safe when sky diving is choosing an instructor that has a solid amount of experience and a good track record, which is fairly easy to do now that the internet has opened new avenues for finding reviews and information. An experienced instructor packs the parachutes with infinite precision, taking as much time as needed to ensure that no snags will happen. Most even pack them, take them back out, and pack them again, just to be sure the job was executed perfectly. Though you can jump on your own, most instructors, as well as state laws, require you to tandem jump with them at least once before you go solo. This allows you to enjoy the ride without the worries of forgetting which cord to pull and when. It also reduces the chances of ending up in a tree or perilous location when landing because the instructor performs all the steering required. Though problems can still happen despite these safety measures the chances of dying are slim. Discovery News had this to say on the matter:

According to the United States Parachuting Association, there are an estimated 3 million jumps per year, and the fatality count is only 21 (for 2010). That’s a 0.0007% chance of dying from a skydive, compared to a 0.0167% chance of dying in a car accident (based on driving 10,000 miles). In layman’s terms, you are about 24 times more likely to die in a car accident than in a skydiving one.

 

Conclusion

 

For me, taking risks are an important facet of life, but that doesn’t mean you need to be stupid about it. In short, anyone who blithely runs into a dangerous situation without thinking about the consequences is going too far. Of course, there are cases where you have no choice, like getting attacked by an animal, but breaking your ankles because you jumped off your roof and missed the pool is too far. I wish I had a clear answer for you, but in this instance I have to evaluate every situation before I can decide whether I think it’s acceptable or not. Now, for the important part of this article:

 

Where do you think ‘too far’ falls?

In the next “How Much is Too Much” article we’ll take a look at the opposite of fearlessness: cowardice.

 

Other Notable Answers to Today’s Prompt:

The Value of Stupidity

Good Morning!

 

If you poke around my blog a little you’ll probably deduce that it’s: a) fairly new, and b) a little sparse in terms of content. I’ve tried to work on this, but all I’ve ended up with so far is a bunch of posts in draft and not enough time to actually finish them. It’s all a result of me taking on a lot of work, which I won’t get into here since it’ll just end up sounding like I’m bragging or something. I’ve looked in all sorts of places for advice on blogging, and I’ve discovered both good and bad sources, but I found the most comprehensive instructions on The Daily Post (Figures!), which lead to me finding their Daily Prompts.

In an attempt to get some decent, worthwhile content written (and actually published) I’ve decided to take advantage of the Daily Prompts for a while, and I plan to respond at least twice a week. So, here we go.

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Pride and Joy

What’s your most prized possession?

 

My Answer

 

If I’d faced this question several years ago I would have had a hard time coming up with a single answer. I’ve always been the type of person that sees the advantages in pretty much anything (probably because both my parents were hoarders), so I never could choose a definite favorite among any particular category, let alone in general. Fortunately, one of the best characteristics of life is the adjustments we go through as we live it.

Given enough time, just about anything about our personalities can bend, shift, or even completely reverse, especially when life is experienced to its full extent. Our opinions become more refined, our tastes become widened or honed, our perspectives undergo major revisions. Even someone who’s determined to coast through life goes through such modifications. It’s inevitable, really. These transitions aren’t always positive, but sometimes it’s our faults that lead us to even greater revelations.

Sometimes, our most idiotic decisions and actions bring us to a pivotal moment that contains the most important of lessons. If I hadn’t endured the violent results of my own moronic choices I wouldn’t be able to answer this question clearly today, but before I get to that I should clarify a few things with a short note on my history.

 

More than Simple Angst

 

When I was 11 years old my mother moved in with her boyfriend, Duane. Over the next four years he tortured me and treated me like a slave, but he did contribute one good event in my life: he convinced my mother to send me to a counselor. I’d always had a temper that rivaled my father’s own volatile nature, but my mother had always believed it was just hereditary. It didn’t take long for the counselor to realize that I was too advanced for her to treat, and she referred us to a child psychiatrists that, over the years, almost became a second father to me. We found out just before I started to fully freak out that I’m Bi-Polar, and not even a year later the problems really started.

The cruelty I exhibited in my childhood (which involved a few fights that scared the pants off my mom) was nothing compared to the rage that roiled in me later, but instead of getting into more fights I ended up turning that negativity on myself. Eventually it became unbearable, and I got to the point where I attempted suicide frequently. At one point, I tried to take my life every day, as soon as I got home from school. Obviously I was unsuccessful, and my psychiatrist worked with me to dampen the desire to kill myself, but for years after that the urge remained, buried deep within me. I became resigned to the fact that I’d never get rid of my distaste for living, but I worked hard to repress it once I realized the effect my reckless behavior was having on those I loved. I buckled down and tried to ignore that darkness in me as best I could.

 

You Never Realize What You Have Until It’s Gone

 

Now that you know about my ingrained contempt for life you’ll be able to understand just how strong a change one mistake wrought in me. As the years went by every aspect of my life degraded until I finally ended up homeless. I’d sustained severe injuries to my back and one of my hips, forcing me into physical therapy. Being prescribed pain medication was necessary since exercising is impossible when faced with constant agony, but the level of addiction one experiences to those pills is unpredictable. I ended up in a vicious cycle, the consequences of not taking those pills a lot more complex for me than the usual worries of an addict (those who start using pain killers or heroine for recreation have plenty to worry about since going through withdrawals for opiates, aka becoming ‘dope sick’, is a horrid, disgusting, and lengthy process, but people like me are also plagued by immense amounts of extra pain on top of that from our injuries).

Everything kept escalating. When my tolerance grew beyond what the pills could offer I had no choice (at least, I thought I had no choice at that time) but to move on to illegal means for alleviating my pain and addiction. It didn’t take long for my life to crumble, putting me on the street and pushing me into acts I would have never performed had I been sober. It got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, but I had no insurance or resources for paying for an addiction program. So I tried the next best option (once again, my reasoning was a little strange then): replacing one drug for another.

I won’t reveal which drug I decided to use (no, it wasn’t pot), but it was a lot cheaper and did a fair job of covering up the detox symptoms that would have otherwise drove me insane. It was the type of drug that, when smoked, gave you an immediate jolting rush, but wound down quickly. Although that rush departed after a few minutes the amount of active chemicals in your blood stayed the same for hours, making it especially dangerous and deceptive. I’d figured out a way to gauge just how high I was by keeping track of how large my pupils were, which would sometimes grow so large they’d almost cover my irises entirely. I kept close watch on my eyes, was aware that my body couldn’t handle much more, but all it took was one hit too many to throw me over the edge.

Before I’d even released the smoke from my lungs I knew something was wrong. The rush that was normally quite enjoyable became overwhelming, making me feel like my body was the worst place in the world to be at that moment. I flailed about without thinking, almost as if my mind was attempting to escape the hell I’d turned myself into. A few moments later my heart sped up dramatically, feeling like it would burst from my chest, then suddenly slowed to a crawl that almost made me pass out. This process continued to worsen with every minute that passed as I was taken to a hospital by a friend, the extremes so strong that I couldn’t stop hyperventilating. Whenever my heartbeat slowed I had to force myself to breath, feeling like my lungs hard turned to stone, and my heart completely stopped three times during that trip, remaining still for the time it would take for three or four normal beats to pass, then springing back to life and immediately cranking up to the rapid tempo again.

I honestly can’t tell you what the scariest part of that experience was, but every time my heart stopped I could feel myself slipping away, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I was on the verge, the very precipice, of having a full-blown heart attack and dying, and I hadn’t even been alive 30 years yet.

 

My Most Prize Possession?

 

In the past most of my attempts at suicide had been thwarted by someone before I could do severe damage. Sometimes I’d down a handful of powerful prescription sleeping pills, but they’d make me unaware of my surroundings by the time I was in danger. I’d gotten myself into trouble before, but nothing compares to the one time I actually wasn’t trying to kill myself. My conclusion? Death is freaking scary!

It’s because of that one moment that my greatest possession is life itself. I now cherish what I used to take for granted every single day, and although that mistake is one I never wish to repeat I’m kind of glad it happened. If it hadn’t I wouldn’t have learned just how precious every breath is, or how meaningful the next minute from now can be. The combination of the panic I felt that night and the PTSD I suffer from (yet another ‘gift’ from Duane) won’t allow me to use any drugs now, so I had no choice but to get my life on track after that.

And that is why stupidity can be valuable.

 

Other Notable Answers to Today’s Prompt: