Friday, April 28, 2017

Starbucks Observations

I'll be in the Big Apple next week. I always go in early for life's show.

One of the last times I was at a Starbucks coffee counter in New York City I watched the passersby out the window in front of me. I had some time to kill before a meeting. There was a bus stop there too, so I had a plethora of humanity from which to observe.

Here are some observations about people.

Obese
Very Fat
Fat
Plump
Chubby
Halt
Lame
Elderly
Young
Thin
Very thin
Well dressed
Nearly undressed
Overdressed
Earrings
Nose rings
Collar rings
Grubby
Texting
Talking
Laughing
Sad
On the phone
Delivering
Security on Segways
Biking
Traffic Cops
Parking ticket agents
Beggars
Homeless
Heavy coats
No coats
I-poders
Asian
Caucasian
Black
Muslim by dress
African by dress
Red hair
Yellow hair
Green hair
Purple hair
No hair
Short hair
Long hair
Short dresses
Long dresses
Slacks
Shorts
High boots
High heels
Clogs
Sneakers
Army boots
Babies sleeping
Babies crying
Toddlers clinging
Toddlers wandering
Smokers
Backpacks
Briefcases
Groceries


There was so much more than I can remember and all of these observations were within 25-minutes.

Ain’t life wonderful.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Good Grief!

Unbelievable!

Did you hear? Nordstroms, the high-end department store, is now selling mud covered Blue Genes for $425 a pair. The mud is fake, but the cost is real. They look like something out of the depression era that hadn’t been washed ever.



The Nordstrom ad says: “the jeans are "rugged, Americana workwear that shows you're not afraid to get down and dirty."

Criticism of Nordstrom’s is coming from everywhere. And it should.

$425 for a pair of fake mud genes? What have we become?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Borders

I got thinking about borders the other day. You know the borders between, yards, towns, states, and countries. My thought concentration was on the borders of countries. The United States has a very lengthy border between the US and Canada. We have another contentious border with Mexico.

I then moved my thinking into another realm. I chose Heaven. Why not! In my fantasy place, there were no borders, fences, walls, or checkpoints to pass from one place to the other.

It was an interesting dichotomy.

Then came the finite earthly questions in my wonderings. Why on this sentient and nourishing planet do we have borders? Why when all ancient disciplines teach and preach that there is enough for all and we still see intrusion as an attack on our safety and comfort. If, in spirit, we see the other as equal, then why in form are we so protective?

The answer is probably perceived in differences and in that acknowledgment comes protections. Protections are needed to accommodate fear; fear is the needed emotion to precipitate change and encourage the difficult task of letting go.

Letting Go of Fear always brings us to love.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Connections

I am often touting the efficacy of our interconnection not only to each other but also to nature herself.

For too long we modern humans have taken for granted, ignored and abused the very nature that feeds, cures and shelters us. We forget there is a symbiotic relationship between all life and we are all in service to each other.

The native peoples of the world see it differently. They acknowledge with thanks the life they take for food. They vocally appreciate the plants they take for medicine and sustenance, and they are careful not to take all so that the nature kingdoms and the phylum families can replenish what is harvested.

The modern mind has forgotten that appreciation is a viable communication link between species and kingdoms and that giving thanks connects all of us to the One Source of All That Is.

The Findhorn experiment surprised science years ago that a new age community working with nature divas and angelic spirits and compost could grow unusual plants, fruits, and vegetables in the inhospitable climate of Northern Scotland.

Findhorn’s secret, if you need to call it that, was to acknowledge a plant kingdom and diva caretaker existence, listen to their needs, and say, “thank you.”

I bring all this up to offer a consideration.

What if the occasional story of a Dolphin saving a human from a shark attack, or of pet dogs protecting a lost child in the woods with the warmth of their bodies, or of a food source appearing and sacrificing its life in time of great hunger; what if all these unusual happenings are nothing other than a way to get our attention to acknowledge our interconnection to all things?

What if a disease is a way to get our attention?

What if? I’m just asking!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Trade Winds

I have been thinking about “trade winds.” They are the prevailing easterly winds that circle the Earth near the equator and have been responsible for ancient people to move from one continent to another.

There are other trade winds. Winds that are within. Winds with no force other than a gentle zephyr that encourages creativity by circling within our knowing and giving us the opportunity to move from one awareness to another.

The trade winds of the earth enabled humans to advance their desire to colonize, to expand, to experience and to embrace the innate physical creativity endemic to all incarnate souls.

The trade winds of the spirit are the inspirations from the Divine. These constantly circulating enthusiasms energize the mind to be the Source’s will through us as us. It is a matter of choice. There is nothing that we cannot accomplish. There is no course we cannot change.

We may not be able to alter the wind, but, as the old saying goes, we can adjust the sails, both the ones we can see and ones within.



Friday, April 21, 2017

Free Expression

Many years ago, in Salem, Oregon, there was a late night cable access television program where the host could be seen dancing nude and even defecating on camera. His actions, however offensive, were expressions of art and protected from censorship.

Within each of us is a vast potential for individualized creative expression. We all have a choice of how we manifest our expressions, our art.

Under the umbrella of art, comes a plethora of expressions: paintings, from oils to illustrations; music, both composition, and performance; literature, with its story and poetry; film and theater with its drama and comedy and form, from sculpture to carvings, but the most important expression of all is appreciation of things beautiful.

Perhaps there ought to be a litany of requirements that before anyone may use the public airwaves to express prurient, voyeuristic and lewd creations as art, they must first demonstrate knowledge and appreciation of the other arts that express the beauty and grace of humankind.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

It's not the way it used to be...

I had lunch with a new friend the other day. During our conversation and discussion, he said, have you noticed not being able to have a political discourse with friends and colleagues of the opposite persuasion?

My answer was, “yes, I have, both personally and professionally” Ever since the campaign and the election of Donald Trump, discussion leads to contention. Conversation leads to squabbles. Comments lead to controversy and communication ends in partisan contradiction.

I did say, that Congress is probably the catalyst for this since both political parties have been in contention for the last eight years and beyond and I think it has spread to the world.

When I first started covering Capitol Hill as a young reporter fifty years ago, I observed camaraderie between the political parties. Senators and Representatives could argue their point in a debate but would laugh and fraternize in the cloak room or at a bar afterward. I was privileged to have been invited to dinner at various representatives homes where both republican and democrats shared congressional stories with respect for each other’s position.

I’m not in DC anymore, but I’m told it’s not that way these days.

We need to get back to civility, to courtesy, and to common sense.

At the moment, every conflict nibbles at the fabric of our republic.

Every distortion, every fabrication, every innuendo from those in power removes a thread from the cloth of compromise, and soon the covering of democracy will be laid bare.

I fear for what might come next.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Arkansas' Executions

I’ve been thinking about all the executions scheduled in the state of Arkansas. Families and some lawyers say the deaths will give the victims families closure.

If the courts eventually allow the executions to take place, the families and friends of the killer's victims must once again face their sorrow and see if execution and the witness of it, will ease their pain.  I suspect there will always be an emptiness, a piece of their hearts they cannot mend and we should do what we can to comfort them.

It’s unlikely there will ever be a consensus on the efficacy of the death penalty. There is no way to satisfactorily compile statistics as to whether death is a deterrent to murder. The destiny of agreement may be a perennial debate.

Perhaps the question we should ask ourselves, after every execution, is not whether the person deserved to die, the law decides that, but how do we individually react to it.  In the vastness of attempted understanding, there are many valid emotions; tears, anger, fear, and even relief.

Vengeance, however, is one active emotion to which we must give prayerful thought before we choose to embrace it, for it is consuming and eternally unsatisfying.


Monday, April 17, 2017

A Holy Time

Passover and Easter are often intertwined as they are this year.

It is often hard to embrace the centuries-old message of Easter and Passover when we are mired in seeming fear and worry from terrorists and terrorist’s threats. Today we are occupied with concern for our servicemen and women and their safety in so many fields of harm, and at home, we struggle just to meet the daily needs of our families in tough economic times.

Easter for Christians around the world is a time of renewal and rebirth, not only of one’s faith but also of the joy and peace that is supposed to come from the practice of that faith. Passover is a happy time with the four questions of one's faith.

In general, it seems to me that many who profess to practice their faith, no matter in what religion it is structured, more often they talk a good game, but come up short in honoring one’s God with tolerance, non-judgment, and unconditional love. Me included.

Opportunities of selfless and Samaritan acts of grace go by the wayside when quick judgments, dogmatic bickering, and historic ethnic hatreds rule our everyday actions.

There is good and truth in all faiths, all religions. It is man who creates the differences and the conflicts to worship the same God of many names.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday's of the past

Today is Good Friday. Here’s what I remember as a kid and a little beyond.

First of all, my Mother was a staunch Irish Catholic, and she ruled the house as far as religion was concerned.

We did all the things that a Catholic household must do to be compliant within the rules of the church.

Nine first Fridays.

Ten First Saturdays.

Church every Sunday.

Confession on Saturday.

Mass every day at lent.

Ashes on Ash Wednesday.

Holy days of obligation.

The litany goes on and on and even the Rosary every night as a family.

I was completely indoctrinated by the time I was a young adult.
Somewhere along the way, “revelation” entered into my perception and I rejected and altered some of the rituals for the awareness attained in spiritual meditation.

I realized that to be born in religion was wonderful, but to die in it is unfortunate. By that, I mean that the believer who never investigates the universal truths available to all seekers loses an awareness of great value; a knowing within the heart that there is something beyond the rules and regulations embedded in religious dogma. I found it to be in the truths of meditative poetry.

To some, what I write is heresy. I say I honor all beliefs and request that you honor mine. Not that you accept my thought as truth, but that you acknowledge there are all paths to God, not only the one dictated by a specific dogma of organized religion.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The gathering at Bretton Woods

I've posted this before, but it's worthy of another read.

New Hampshire is a gentle state. Unassuming, and bountifully peaceful. A leisurely ride along U.S. 302 through the White Mountain National Forest underlines that sense of peace and punctuates it with a tiny bit of history. It is called Bretton Woods. It was there in a rambling summer resort back in July of 1944 that 44-nations met to plan for the post-world War II economic recovery.

The Mount Washington Hotel where the conference took place is still a thriving resort today. It's wraparound veranda frames the magnificent Mount Washington and other peaks in the Presidential Range.

Financial leaders, back then, talked, and negotiated and discussed and simplified, a way to make international monetary policies fair and workable following the expense of World War Two. The conference lasted 20-days.

The Bretton Woods accord created a system of fixed exchange rates. The value of the Dollar was set a $35 per oz of gold. All other currencies were pegged to the dollar, and respective countries were obliged to maintain their currencies value.

The agreement maintained an economic stability for twenty years, but eventually a huge balance of payments deficits shook its foundation, and finally, in 1971 President Nixon ended it by cutting the link between the dollar and gold.

The arrangement was so successful, that years after its collapse many economists and politicians today long for a return to Bretton Woods.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Poor Sean


Poor Sean Spicer. Poor Sean, every time he opens his mouth he takes his foot out of it. He has the most unenviable job in the world. Think about it. Would you want it?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Shame on United Airlines

United Airlines ought to be ashamed of its treatment of paying passengers.

In many news programs in yesterday’s news, there was a video of a paying passengers being dragged off the plane to make room for a United crew member or members to get to another destination so United can continue staffing its flights.

Not one of the paying passengers were willing to give up their seat, so the airline chose at random people to leave. One guy was dragged along the aisle. Shame, shame, shame on United.

I for one will avoid flying United for the foreseeable future, maybe forever.

Rules of War?

I heard Senator John McCain say during an interview, “It was a violation of the rules of war.” He was referring to the gas attack by Assad’s forces in Syria.

THE RULES OF WAR! What about rules of peace? You would think by this time in our technological and spiritual progression; humankind would have a different set of rules. Rules of peace.

What the Assad regime did was barbaric, cruel and a crime against humanity. He and those participating in this reprehensible act should and will be held accountable. I believe President Trump’s decision to bomb the offending airbase was a measurable response of global indignation. It was an emotional response, not a policy projection.

But back to my question. Why do we have rules of war? Why are we still a bellicose society? I can answer my question by the following startling statistic.

The United States is 240 years old. We have been at war, in some form or another for 219 of those years. To say it another way, since our founding, there has been only 21 calendar years of no war.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Don Rickles RIP

I knew Don Rickles. I was the butt of his wit when he was a guest on a newscast I was doing in back in 1968. I didn’t do his interview that was my colleague's segment, but he picked on me anyway. During breaks and after the program we talked. He asked about my career. I said I’d just been hired by a New York station and was looking forward to working in the Big Apple.

He said, Rolland, don’t do it. New York eats people up. He kept it up insulting me in the process. Finally, he smiles and says, “I had you going didn’t I. You’ll do fine kid.”

Years later, I reminded Don of that time long ago when I would see him at Friars Club roasts. Surprisingly he remembered, or at least, said he did. Then he added, “CBS is still paying you, right?”

Don Rickles lived a good life. He was a master of his craft, and we had the best of his 90-years. Making someone laugh is one of the best gifts you can ever give. Who can ever forget his many episodes on the Carson Show?

There is a new headliner in heaven. Standing room only.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Warning

Warning! Attention! You have heard those words before. It may have little effect on getting your attention, on getting the awareness into your mind so that you might extrapolate the affect of what is about to happen to seven generations hence.

The Senate of the United States is about to change its ancient rules so that a partisan group can bring a fellow member of the clan into a powerful position on the Supreme Court of the United States.

The nuclear option is wrong. Not because it will bring Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It is wrong because it changes the dynamic of the Senate forever. It enables any party in power to easily bring a like-minded judge into a life-time of power. It politicizes the Supreme Court. A sixty support vote plurality has worked fairly and effectively in the past. A simple fifty-one-vote approval will eventually diminish the quality of not-partisan wisdom and fairness of the court.

The sixty vote margin is a check and balance for the system. It ensures that the very best candidates are considered and confirmed or not. Change it, and you change the court and the constitution.

Change it, and you change America.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's time...

I have been a professional observer of the global condition for five plus decades. Granted it started locally and in time moved globally as I watched the passion of politics move from acceptable and reasonable compromise for the good of the whole into the incompetence of partisan oligarchy.

Now, well into my 5th decade of observation, I watch the antics of fallible beliefs dissolve into and infect the efficacy of our Republic. We are a nation of the promise of adherence to the rule of law. That is the Republic our founding fathers have given us!

The rule of law, both the written fallible ones of legislative degree, that change as generations pass, and the moral and ethical laws that stem from our connection to the Divine have been usurped by the monocular constriction of partisanship and blindness into the devastating effect on future generations.

The Democrats fillibuster of Judge Gorsuch, which will then induce the Republican majority to vote for the nuclear option of a simple majority for confirmation is ill thought out by minority leadership and will come back to haunt them should Mr. Trump have eight years in office. The adage is still true. "It is better to lose the battle than losing the war."

Now is not the time for tit for tat, it is not the time for a quid pro quo, it is not the time in the parlance of the street, "to get even."

It is a time to grow up and embrace the real problems our country and our world face together.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Less is More

We all get junk mail, both at home and now on the internet. Spamming is commonplace and most of us dump the unsolicited junk emails without reading them.

Something came across my electronic desk that made me pause and reflect about our bureaucracy and the excess governmental verbiage called gobbledygook. I don't know who wrote it. It was forwarded without attribution.

The truth of the adage that "less is more" is proven in the following email.

The Pythagorean theorem is explained in 24 words.
Archimedes' Principle: 67 words
The 10 commandments: 179 words
The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
The US Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words. Even if it’s half that number, it’s still cabbage.


Need I say more?

Friday, March 31, 2017

I Knew Him Not

I Knew Him Not, Yet I did – A Sonnet
© 2017 Rolland G. Smith

He died today. Not well, did I know him.
But, yet I did, for all are connected.
Twas early morn’ he passed; a man named Jim.
His body ill; his spirit ejected,
And released with thanks. The eternal soul
Then rushed to light another place and space.
Death’s leaving is what hurts and takes its toll
On friends and family. They sadly retrace
his gifted life of simple wants and needs
By stories told with smiles and a tear.
I know a truth, that’s proved, that life proceeds
And no way do we ever disappear.
But more profound, as all say heart’s goodbye’s,
Is the truth that only the body dies.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Just Maybe!

As each new day dawns, I wonder where do we go from here? What happens next?

Even though we are in the second decade of a new century, we are still searching for a global sanity. There are still numerous regional wars infecting the planet as we struggle with the belief that security is having more and that collective fear requires violence.

There is always the hope we can overcome the litany of Pandora troubles that are part of our daily struggles, but let us not forget that hope without action is arrogance. We each have to work at finding the hidden harmony in overt chaos.

It's there; we can feel it when we give from empathy and not reward. We feel it when we resolve not to be discouraged, not to speak in anger, not to blame, and not to judge without the truth of looking within first.

Maybe this day, maybe tomorrow or the next day or the next unconditional love and appreciation will guide the hearts and wills of humankind.

Maybe!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Doing Nothing

What a day yesterday. I did nothing. I don’t have too many of those kinds of days, but when they present themselves, it is delightful. I passed on breakfast but had an early lunch of Chinese left-overs. I added more Soy and some hot sauce. It made it better.

It was rainy here, off and on all day. I watched a puddle get sprinkled with drops in a melodic cadence that blended with the Flight of the Bumblebee, an orchestral interlude written by Rimsky-Korsakov which I had playing on the stereo. The sputter and patter of the drops mimicked the beat of the composition. The rain pelted furiously for a few minutes then the rain rhythm would change into a Strauss waltz and then into a Texas two-step as the rain abated. What a glorious day.

I then tried to take my spiritual advisor for a walk. “McGee” doesn’t do rain, she doesn’t do snow, she doesn’t do heat. She waits, and looks, and waits some more. If it’s wet, white, or hot, she looks at me with the question of, “why are we doing this?”

I couldn’t answer her inquisitive look. All I can do is suggest, with a gentle nudge on the leash, that peeing outside is better that peeing inside.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Old Body - Young Spirit

I looked at one of my hands the other day. It was old. Protruding veins puffed like a fissure in a seismic fault. The skin was wrinkled in horizontal lines like the ripples in a wind blown dune.

Then I looked within and behold there was eternal youth. There was my spiritual being within my corporal body, and it was young. My aging body was just a vessel to hold what I am in material density and in the illusion of time.

Few young in the world understand the awareness of spiritual being. The young are still intoxicated with experimenting and experiencing life and playing with choice. Two glorious dichotomous gifts. Free floating youth and aging awareness.

Within the mind of all wrinkled, graying, aging bodies are visions of unfulfilled manifestations; discarded choices of what each hoped to be, but just below the surface of unfinished dreams are the currents of change and the desire to find and be the Truth.

When I look within, I find a clear passage to my soul and the smooth highway of understanding the being I am.

In some global societies, particularly in western cultures, we hide the grace of age and experience of living. Human power is in the awareness of our interconnection. Whether old, young, or in-between we are all ONE with the unconditional love of All That Is. In spirit, we are all valued the same. The task for each of us is to carry that equal value into mortal life.
 
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