Old Diary

Unworthy of that gift?

Life doesn’t care how you react to it.  It’s up to you to care.  And sometimes you get a chance for something wonderful and it’s wholly up to you do accept it or reject it.  But be aware that if you choose to reject you may never have another chance at the same opportunity.

“Life sometimes offers you a chance, he thought, but when you are too cowardly or too indecisive to seize it life takes the cards away; there is a moment for doing things and entering a possible happiness, and this moment lasts a few days, sometimes a few weeks or even a few months, but it happens once and one time only, and if you want to return to it later it’s quite simply impossible. There’s no more place for enthusiasm, belief, and faith, and there remains just gentle resignation, a sad and reciprocal pity, the useless but correct sensation that something could have happened, that you just simply showed yourself unworthy of this gift you had been offered.”

– Michel Houellebecq, The Map and the Territory

Philosophers can argue for decades about whether there is profound truth in the words of Michel Houellebecq, but I have to tell you that everyday living has proven and re-proven these words a hundred times over — both in my own life, and in the lives of friends.  For somethings there is a single moment, a fleeting chance to grab that gold ring, or whatever it is you are reaching for — and when that moment passes it never returns again.

The thing is that each and every decision we makes changes us forever.  There’s a phrase I heard years ago that comes back to my mind from time to time, “Habit strips sin of it’s enormity” — which is just saying that the first time you lie, or steal, your conscience tells you that you did something bad, but the second time your inner voice isn’t nearly as loud, and by the 15th time you do the same thing you may not even hear a whisper. Good choices make future good choices easier.  Bad choices make badder choices possible. But no matter your history of decisions you can’t replicate circumstances, and sometimes the circumstance is everything.

I’m not going to beat this dog till it’s dead.  If you can hear the words let them make a change in you.  If you hear nothing, that’s fine too. road-not-taken

Old Diary

A good morning is in order

For a moment let’s forget that today is Black Friday.

“It seems a good morning is in order,
so I’d like to order two.. one for me
and one for you, and make this the
best morning in the world.”

I know it’s not Thanksgiving Day. That was yesterday and we all ate more than we should and we may have had a wonderful time with our family, or we may have had a horrible time with our family, or we may have been completely alone. But that’s no reason not to have a really wonderful day.

So much of our how we feel during any given day is within our own power, that ordering up a good morning, and starting the day out as if it were going to be a good morning can be all it takes for that to happen.

Good-MorningIf people rub us the wrong way on any given day we don’t have to let that bother us.  Why let someone else determine how you feel?  Why give them free rent in your head?

I don’t know how you do on the day after holidays but I know more than a couple folks who find the “day after” to be really depressing.  But it doesn’t have to be.  And being aware of the fact that in the past you haven’t been the happiest on the day after can be just enough to make it a much better. day.


Old Diary

A Bloody Way to Give Thanks

On this day when people are gathered around dining tables all over the country talking about giving thanks, I am thinking about a way to do something real in the way of giving thanks. Donate-Blood-650x440

We all need blood.

I was a young whipper-snapper when a friend of my parents needed open heart surgery. This was a lot of years ago when blood for transfusions was a big deal on hospital bills and in those days people who needed blood, or who were anticipating surgery where they might need it would contact friends and family in the hopes that they would go to their local blood center and donate to the patient’s account.  It was a rather crude system that we scarcely remember now that the world has gotten bigger, medicine has gotten smarter and the technology surrounding blood collection is much more refined.

Long story short, I gave my first pint of blood … a long, long, time ago.  And I continue to give blood regularly.  I know there are a lot of folks who have given more than me, but I’m up over 80 pints and after a break while we were RV’ing, when I only gave a couple times, I went in a couple days ago to start up once again.

There are so many ways that blood is used nowadays and the manners of donation have changed too. My first pint of blood was just that, a simple bag, filled with 500 ml of blood, flowing into a bag attached to a weighted arm on the side of a gurney.blood collection bag  When the correct amount of blood had been drawn the bag weighed more than the weight on the other end and the tube was closed by a simple lever, stopping the donation. Typically, giving a pint of blood can take 15 minutes or so… or at least that’s how long it used to take me.

Then there are packed blood cells in which they hook you up to a really expensive machine and the machine knows how long — to the minute — it’s going to take to fill 2 bags with just the red blood cells — extracting your plasma and returning the plasma to your body via a separate line than the one used to remove it.  One needle, some fancy plumbing, and a whole lot of electronics and high-tech wizardry. Packed red cells take longer to donate, but here in WI they are harder to get donors for.  These donations are lengthier. You are essentially giving 2 pints worth of red blood cells, so the draw and return cycle is 30 minutes (give or take).

Lest we forget about the rest of the blood components, our blood center here also takes donations of blood platelets — part of that clear fluid that gets returned to the body when packed blood cells are taken.  Here, too, they hook you up to a really expensive machine and the machine does all the work.  What they want in these donations takes longer to harvest. The last time I did a platelets donation it took 2 1/2 hours — just sitting there with a needle in my arm while the machine drew blood, spun out the platelets, and returned the rest of the “good stuff” to my body. It’s a hefty investment of time.

Whole blood donors can re-donate every 8 weeks.  Packed Red Cell donors have to wait 16 week — the body takes longer to replace twice the amount of removed red blood cells.  Platelet donors can donate again in 3 weeks.  What is removed is easier for your body to replace and hence the shorter re-donation time.

I encourage you, today, while you are thinking about being thankful for something, why not consider donating blood — regularly.  Save someone’s life.  Or help to save it.

I’ll warn you, wherever you go for a donation they are going to ask you a lot of embarrassing questions.  Here, the preliminary questionnaire to be completed EACH and EVERY time you donate takes a good 15 minutes to read through and answer.  And they keep changing the questions as science advances to you actually have to pay attention to what you are answering. After that an employee will ask you more questions in person. But then there’s good reason for them to be careful.  There ARE blood-born illnesses, and some of the things floating around in your blood or mine might not be healthy for the recipient.  Keeping a safe blood supply for the population is not an easy job.

But, I encourage you to swallow your pride, ignore the affront to your dignity by being asked personal questions and do something wonderful for someone who won’t ever know your name, or see how cute you are, or handsome, they will not know how many or how few donations you have made, they won’t care if you are skinny or fat, young or old, they will just be thankful you were there to help save their life.


Old Diary

The School Store

Bazar Des Ecoles

One of the fun parts about photography is that you get a chance to see things and let them affect you. Let them affect you however they might.  Without predisposition.

Staying in the moment is the only way that you’ll ever find your own photographic style. And there’s a lesson there for anyone who wants to write as well.  Staying in the moment whilst writing is also the only way to discover your own style.  All the way’s you’ve been taught to write mean nothing if words don’t flow.  It’s as if you are following someone else’s formula on a pathway to discover something new.  That formula is never going to take you where no one has ever been before.

This little store, with it’s outdoor display and bikes parked along the curb happened to be less than a 5 minute walk from Notre Dame Cathedral.  A very non-descript little place, given over to life’s mundanity.  And yet there is something “everywhere” about it.  And on a sunny day in summer I wished I could have walked inside and just spent a year snooping among the shelves and aisles of a time long since past — which in that moment was staying in the moment because that little island of yesterday is smack dab in the middle of one of the most touristy cities in the world.  New and old, contemporary and ancient, wrapped in one.

Old Diary

It’s easier to tear down than to build up

It’s a cliché to say that it’s easier to tear something down than to build it up. Perhaps in 2019 with all the environmental rules and workplace safety regulations that might not be quite as true as it has been for centuries, but no one is around who will deny that in a little more than 2 years politicians have torn down 70 years of environmental improvements.  And how long it will take to reverse the damage done by both the administration and Congress for not standing up to the administration and doing it’s job — well, I’m not actually all the hopeful that they ever will.

Take a while and look up what these five acts did to make our air safer to breathe and our water safer to drink, oil less of a danger and wetlands to be recognized as an essential element for our safety and health.


Old Diary

No Story to Tell

How could you live and have no story to tell?

It is impossible.

What may be possible, however, it that we think we have no story to tell, we are bashful about exposing ourselves, or we think our story unworthy of telling.  And to all of the above I say, “Shame on you.”  How can you value yourself so little as to imagine that no one in the great wide world would enjoy what you have to say.conversation

It might be difficult to find the right audience.  Or, you might never actually learn who it is that enjoys your stories (most), but I can guarantee you that there are people who would find what you have to say interesting.  After all, there is nothing new under the sun; what I experience, others experience, and if it’s shared, it’s going to interest those with similar experiences.

But how could you live and have no story to tell?
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you’ve thought about blogging, why don’t you just do it?  Do it for yourself, not for others.  Do it for the experience of telling stories, whether or not anyone ever sees them.  If you are bashful, use your WordPress dashboard to make your blog private.

It’s easy enough to do.  Go to your admin page.  Along the left side you’ll find an expandable menu.  When you click on “settings” you’ll be given other options, general, writing, reading, etc..  Click on “Reading” and then you will find a topic called “Site Visibility” where you can select “I would like my site to be private, visible only to myself and users I choose.”change your site visibility

Of course I don’t think you should do that.  I think you should let your thoughts be known.  But if you don’t trust yourself, you aren’t sure, you’re timid, then give it a try on the sly.  Build up your courage privately until you think you’re ready.

Another cool tool is the fact that you can post entries privately even if your blog is public.  I’ll show you how to do it using the “Classic Editor.”  I’m sure the “Block Editor” has a way of doing it too, but I don’t use that tool.publish for admins and editors

On the right margin on a desktop version of the WordPress APP you’ll find a topic called “STATUS.”  Clicking there opens the dialogue and gives you a choice of when to schedule your post and how to schedule it:  Publicly, for Admins and Editors only, or Password Protected.  Depending on your way of thinking at the moment this is an easy way to post something you want to “say”  but that you don’t want to “say outloud” or “say publicly.”  I use this for all manner of posts that I’m unsure I want anyone else to see.  Sometimes I want to rant.  Sometimes I’m not sure if the post is well advised.  Other times it’s one of those bottom drawer letters / posts that you write in passionate haste and need time to decide if it’s publicly acceptable to utter such nonsense!

My whole point with this post is everyone has a story and if you’re bashful or self-conscious about sharing that story there are ways to:

  • get some practice privately
  • build up your courage
  • figure out the whole blog environment before you go public
  • hide in the shadows and hope no one knows your there.

Take a chance. I guarantee someone will find your words helpful.