Travis Triplett walked his mutt of a dog four times every day, from his small cottage home tucked back in an early 20th century neighborhood to a nearby park, and dutifully picked up the piles of shit she left behind along the way. He didn’t mind it at all. After five years of this routine, he honestly didn’t even notice that he was doing it anymore as he walked along beside her all while kids and women stopped to admire his black Labrador mutt named Katey.
Katey had shown up one day after a viscous storm had blown through and sat on his door step looking wet, pathetic and hungry and so Travis gave her some scraps of ham that he was going to have to throw away soon anyway. The next morning she wasn’t there. He didn’t even notice her absence until that evening when he arrived home and found her by the front door wagging her tail and greeting him warmly. As he approached to enter his house, after collecting his office papers from his rather plain gray yet sensible hybrid car, he scruffed up the top of her head and said, “I don’t have any food for you today, dog,” he told the yet unnamed pooch. She just turned her head sideways and kept wagging her tail. Travis stood up and measured this situation with a similar head tilt. “Well, I do need to run to the store. Maybe I’ll get you something while I’m there.”
This went on for a few weeks until finally, as cold weather approached, he did the responsible thing and took the dog to be spayed, tagged and groomed. The vet had informed him that she had already been spayed and he spent the saved money on a rather stylish and slick bright green rhinestone studded collar. He decided to name the dog Katey for no particular reason, except perhaps her rich black fur color reminded him of his aunt Caty’s hair.
Katey was a funny breed of dog. She barked at odd things and often at new things in her environment. If Travis brought home a box from work, Katey might come around the corner, hunker down and bark menacingly at the intruder. Other times, you could put something new in a room and she never acknowledged it’s existence at all.
Five years of time had passed and Katey had never wavered as being less than a rambunctious dog. She frolicked and played with kids, other dogs and any playful teens at the park that was always busy no matter the time of year or the weather.
On one day, in the late afternoon, as a storm rolled in and the sky turned green with gusts of wind threatening to take down branches, Travis and Katey rushed to get their walk in before a deluge occurred or alerts and sirens start going off interrupting their normal schedule. During storms was about the only time that people avoided the park except for him and Katey. This day was no exception.
Thunder rolled in the distance and Katey dropped her head and ears as well as tucked her tail between her legs looking back at Travis to make sure he was still with her. A moment after Katey dropped her business in the grass, Travis turned out a doggie bag to pick it up and was ready to dispose of it in a nearby trash bin, when a thunderclap and bolt of lightning struck nearby causing both of them to jump. Katey turned back to the cottage and as Travis began to turn, he saw a wall of wind picking up leaves and debris right towards the two of them. Behind it was a wall of water pouring down and obscuring everything behind it in sight.
They both began to run, but within a moment, the wind caught him causing him to lose balance, spin around and knock him to the ground where he hit his head against the concrete so hard he felt dazed and unsure of what happened. The next moment, as he lay on his back looking towards the sky, buckets of water poured over him causing him to choke and have to sit up. It was so strong that it stung his skin. He sat there not quite sure where he was, water pouring across him, as lightning criss-crossed the sky above him causing such thunderous roars that he was unsure if there was a tornado coming or not.
Suddenly, it stopped.
Travis sat for a moment staring at the ground between his crossed legs where he sat and noticed something red dripping down from his head onto the ground. He reached up carefully and felt a painful and tender spot on his head. He pulled his hand back and found it covered in blood.
After a long while, he finally attempted to stand and noticed he still had Katey’s leash and that she had snapped her rhinestone covered green collar loose. She was no where to be seen. He decided she must have run back home. Slowly he woozily made his way back home as well.
Upon arrival, the first thing he noticed was that his car was no longer in the driveway. “Where the hell is my car?” he said confused. Some relief came, however, when he noticed Katey who sat on his door step looking wet, pathetic and, strangely a little bit hungry. Normally she spotted him a mile away, but this time she stared longingly towards the driveway.
As Travis started to cross the road, he saw his car pulling up into the driveway. “What the hell? Who took my car?”
It was then that Travis watched as a man stepped out of the car. A man that not only looked exactly like Travis, it was Travis.
Travis sat down hard and reached up to touch his still bleeding scalp and watched himself enter the house leaving Katey outside. She had tried to enter the house, a fact Travis now remembered he had quickly closed the door to keep her out five years ago. He looked down at the leash he still held and tried to figure out what was happening. He heard his front door open and watched himself toss some scraps of ham out to Katey who, once again, happily devoured them.
“How is this possible?” he thought as he slowly faded away leaving only a dog leash, collar and a bag of dog shit.
(This article was written in January 2015. See Author’s note at the end for a new additional perspective)
In 2016, Star Trek and I will hit the half-century mark. That’s right, 50 years young. Whether it was because my parents watched it, or I just was amazed by the show as a kid, I have been a long time fan. Or dare I say, a Trekkie?
But since 1994, the year marking the end of Star Trek: The Next Generations and the film Star Trek: Generations, I have noticed one simple thing that has killed the franchise for me: Hope.
When I watched the Original Series with Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura (and all the other cast members of their three year run), I saw a mix of all the races of Earth PLUS a complete alien all working together to explore, solve problems and so much more. My main message I carry with me today is that we are all more alike than different.
Klingons were the evil Mongols and dark skinned…different than the rest. They craved war and battle and glory. The crew came in peace. While the episodes with the Klingons didn’t always have everyone seeing eye-to-eye, there was often a truce, or some understanding. The Romulans, unseen for a century at the time of the episode Balance of Terror, ended up being just like Spock. The crew battles their own biases and fears of being infiltrated, much as it was believed that Russians had infiltrated the United States with sleeper cells. In the end, we find that the Romulans are fierce and dogmatically loyal and end up following orders to the death.
I could go on and on about how much this goofy show inspired me to find peace, try new things, and… of course try to be suave and get lots of women like Captain James T. Kirk did.
The Darkness Descends
From the spin off series of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and all the movies – ESPECIALLY THE REBOOT – focuses on war, darkness and a dark future. Oh sure, the very last scene of each movie is upbeat – “Hey, we made it out alive and all together. Let’s go see what else we can discover.”
You mean, “Let’s see who else is going to try to kill us in the galaxy?”
I won’t go into too much detail, and I’m always up for interesting twists on a classic, but I got a bit irritated with the whole Wrath of Khan…errr…Star Trek into Darkness… sequel… twist… geez… a remake of a sequel based on an episode. And here is where I will flat out show how the new reboot abandons the entire theme of Star Trek.
Fans know the episode. The Enterprise finds a derelict ship and discovers it is a lost ship housing genetic super humans from Earth’s past in suspended animation. They escaped Earth as the planet turned against them. They were the worst of the worst. And their leader was Khan Nooian Singh, the worst of them all, and played wonderfully by Ricardo Montalban.
Khan, being the bad guy, takes over and then orders Kirk’s death and is on his way to kill them all. Of course, Kirk gains control and retakes the ship after a fierce battle in engineering with Kahn. Or at least Montalban’s and Shatner’s obvious stunt double fight.
In the end, does Kirk drop the final blow killing Khan? Does he push him out an airlock? Does he put him back into suspended animation?
NO! He drops Khan and all his people on an uninhabited world to conquer on their own.
Star Trek the Wrath of Khan
Now, I loved this movie more than just about all of the movies except Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. And there is nothing like the finally where Kirk beats yet another ‘no win scenario.’ But in the end of the film, does Kirk blast Khan out of the sky into space dust? NO! He offers to beam him and survivors to the Enterprise.
Cut to the first reboot film where Kirk and Spock face Nero and say, “We’re ready to beam you over and lend assistance.” When Nero says he’d rather die a thousand deaths, Kirk says, “So be it.” AND BLOWS THEM UP AND KILLS THEM.
And cutting to the horrid Into Darkness movie… I just have to shake my head. I… don’t… care… about… Sherlock, err… Khan… now a bleached out, blue-eyed sociopath who is (let me break out the tissue) just protecting his ‘family.’ Don’t get me started on the super blood. Now, Kirk does work with him for a bit and then immediately stuns him into submission. And the end of the film? After the ‘amazing’ twist that Kirk and Spock trade places compared to the end of the original movie? With a logical Vulcan going absolute ape sh*t crazy beating Khan to death? And after that? They put him back into suspended animation.
We end the movies with a dark vision of the Federation. Kirk standing up in the wreckage, talking about ‘there will always people who wish us harm,’ a funeral, the tones of the uniforms are all dull gray, deep shadows, and empty Enterprise before finally showing a little light at the end before relaunching once again on the ‘Five Year Mission.’
Bring Back the Hope!
That was NOT a reference to Star Wars, by the way.
I want to see adventures, explorations, new life forms, battles that lead to understanding, and… yes… more Orion Slave Women.* Star Trek: Enterprise gave a really interesting twist to THAT whole race in space. I actually liked parts of Enterprise, but they too took on a super dark militarized version of Star Trek… and it was supposed to take place before the original series.
Anyway, this was more of a rant. I’m just ready for some uplifting adventures. Adventures where the villain isn’t so evil that he/she can’t seek redemption and understanding, they aren’t killed at the end of the movie, and, hopefully, they can appear again later.
And that brings me to what got me started on this.
There have been many fan made ‘episodes’ and films. Due to Paramount ownership, they cannot sell the productions or make money, but so far, they’ve been given leeway. Some of those films, like Star Trek of Gods and Heroes was another dark spin as were some other ones I’ve seen.
But today, I discovered a group who has gone back and meticulously recreated the sets, lighting, sounds and even has James Doohan’s (Scotty) son playing Scotty. I’ve only watched part of one of three they’ve created, and after I got used to the fact that the actors are all different, I really like it.
But the bonus is that there are characters from the original series that pop up, Star Trek actors like Martina Sirtis from TNG, and a guest appearance by Jamie Bamber of BSG!
(Author’s Note 2017: Star Trek Continues has seven great episodes available with even more guest stars.
I’m hoping the show ends with an upbeat message. We need to return to the original Rodenberry message of hope. And, yes, I know they were campy, sexist, and probably racist, but they were ahead of their time when they first came out.
Here’s to a bright future, and to being realistic of where we are and hoping for the best. And let’s see if we can all beat a ‘no win scenario’ together.
* Author’s Note: January 2017
It’s been two years since I wrote this article. With the announcement of a new Star Trek: Discovery television show, Paramount/CBS changed their stand on allowing fan fiction and set up guidelines. Some groups have gone to court over the changes. In the end, intellectual property is owned by someone. An entity or person can allow it, or not. But the vision of the future that Star Trek offered to me, was always one where we all got over our differences and became a race of exploration, collaboration, and more.
Orion Slave Women.
Half kidding around, and half not kidding around. As a white kid in the 70s watching Star Trek reruns, I didn’t understand slavery. Much like the “Slave Leia” phenomena (a movement to call her “Hutt Slayer Leia” is on the rise), I never really thought about the reality of actual slavery or even what sex was, at the time. As mentioned above, Star Trek Enterprise put a different spin on the Orions and who was actually the slave. Star Trek Continues brought the reality of sex slaves, human trafficking, and the psychological toll it really has on those sold and trapped in slavery. Wrap a story around an issue with characters we love who struggle with issues just as we do and then have them take a stand? That, my friends, is Star Trek.
Star Trek Beyond.
And one last note, besides the utterly ridiculous method of destroying the drones (no human or alien was harmed in this mass destruction of beings), and a slight rehashing of the plot to Star Trek Insurrection, I liked the movie. And the motorcycle stunts! Just like classic Kirk who…oh wait. That never happened in Star Trek TOS.
As part of my ‘beginning of the year’ reflection and goals, I really wanted to get back to my core strengths and passions. It’s pretty easy to pinpoint, actually. I love creating. And this isn’t in just one area.
- Designs for print and web
We’re ALL creative in one way or another. Some of us can write epics of adventure and the next person can create poetry from computer code. We all have the ability to creatively find solutions. Many people don’t believe they have an ounce of creativity within them, but they are wrong. Creativity comes when you have experience in an area and can come up with solutions. From making clothes and meals to fixing cars and building bridges. “I just used a pattern I found.” Uh…yeah…but you can use a sewing machine and I can’t. “Oh, but anyone can learn.” Yeah…but they don’t. YOU did.
I have a tendency of citing sources in my writing to let you know I’ve done my research before spouting information like in the paragraph above, but that is one thing I’m letting go of this year. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. If you find different research disputing my information, that’s fine too. Why is that okay? Because we create our lives and our realities every day.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is About Creating Yourself.
~ George Bernard Shaw
How Do You Live a Creative Life?
The trick to this is that you already do. You may not be a published author, have a gallery opening, sell your music or crafts, but you are being creative and, thus, a creative life.
Don’t make the connection of creativity and money. Let this notion go and you will be infinitely happier. This is not to say that you can’t make money. Any creative person can. In the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she helps you break the notion and belief of the ‘Starving Artist’ syndrome.
And if you really want to learn more about how a creative life looks, check out Twyla Tharps, A Creative Life. I did a review on her book a while back you can check out. But the idea she has is how you let the creative ideas out and how you get them done. So many of us have unfinished work, but what might surprise you is that that work may be ‘done.’
A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.
~ Paul Gardner
I should probably take this lesson to heart more often myself.
But back to Tharps idea on getting your ideas out. In the review I did, I mention another book called Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality. It’s angled more towards the Graphic Design field, but it gives great strategy and steps to plotting out and accomplishing your creative ideas. What does this have to do with Tharps “A Creative Life?” I read Making Ideas Happen after Tharps book and discovered her strategy for getting ideas out was exactly what the researchers discovered in Graphic Design. Keep in mind that these are tried and true pattern that successful creatives follow whether for their own enjoyment or for commercial careers.
But all that is interesting, but isn’t the main thing keeping most of us from living our creative lives. And if you are reading this article, and aren’t doing the creative play you want, you probably have a few thoughts going on in your head: “I don’t have enough time/money/experience/stuff,” or “What if nobody likes what I do or they think I’m weird?”
To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
We’re all afraid of rejection. We’re all afraid of being wrong. I am. But I’m losing that fear.
Destroy the Old and Create Something Better
What’s that burning idea you’ve had for years and probably sketched, written, or tinkered with for years? You know exactly the one I’m talking about. And each time you see a piece of artwork, read a book, or see a movie that has some similar ideas you think, “Oh, no use in creating that now. They’ll just think I’m copying them.”
Here’s a fact: There is no way that you can create something exactly like someone else.
Oh sure, you can be really really close, especially if your entire goal is to copy it exactly, but it still won’t be exact. No one sees things the exact same way you do. No one has had the exact same experiences as you’ve had. No one looks exactly like you. No one has the same exact nervous system, neural connects, or DNA as you. NO ONE in nearly seven billion people on the planet.
When it comes to ideas, there is the possibility of similar ideas coming to people. Two movies about a meteor striking the earth in the same year. Two apps that do similar things. Two solutions to curing polio. But they will never be exactly the same.
So why do I say “Destroy the old?”
If it doesn’t serve you, if it isn’t moving you towards the life you want…blow it up! Painters reuse canvases. Materials from various types of projects can be reused or re-purposed. But the important thing is that you must remove what isn’t working and don’t think that one day in the far future, maybe, hopefully, it will work or be used. Here’s a hint, if you’ve had it for more than two years (and that’s being generous), you probably are NEVER going to use it. Sell it. Ditch it. Give it away. DESTROY IT! It’s holding energy that is keeping you from doing something else.
What’s Your First Step?
Here are some thoughts to get you going. You’ll have to adapt ideas depending on what area of creativity you want to explore.
- Artists: Get an index card or some stiff card stock and take 10-15 minutes. Find some object in your house (or some idea in your head and…)
- Sketch with a pencil (any…#2 or from your art pencils)
- Pick one color of acrylic or watercolor and paint
- Grab a marker or crayon and let your inner child draw
- Writers: Get ONE sheet of paper and pencil and set a timer for 10-15 minutes and try one of these.
- It’s the end of the year and I did these three creative things…
- If money, time, or experience wasn’t an issue and I wasn’t afraid of anything, I would…
- If I could destroy one thing/aspect/part in my life, it would be… and I would feel like…
- Cooks: This is a bit more time, but take 10-15 minutes to find a NEW recipe from another culture to create. Many folks fix meals for others and may have finicky eaters, so plan to cook for you and a friend or loved one who is willing to try. Set a date. Go buy the ingredients. Put on some music from that culture on Pandora or your favorite streaming music and make a night of it.
It’s your life. Create what you want. It takes practice. It may take some time. But you must work on it every day until the habit is strong and those around you will respect your time and efforts. Remember, NO ONE has to like it but you. And remember, you can be a painter, writer, chef, designer and NOT be paid to be one. Those are referred to as “Professionals” (and really just means they’ve been paid at least once. You can still be all or any of those things.
At the end of your life, won’t it be great to look back and think, “Man…that was fun.”
Hi, I’m Eric Huber with Blue Zoo Creative.
And you are…?
This is normally where I start when I’m out at a networking event or some happening where I’m meeting new people. From there, I love to learn about people, hear their stories and figure out who I can connect them with so they can further their dreams, goals and passions. Zig Ziglar once said, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
The extrovert in me loves social gatherings. I get amped up on the energy of ideas shared. And afterwards, I make mental notes of all the people I met, something important to them, and some story they shared. Now, I don’t always remember ever single detail, but I get a lot of them right.
Why do I do this?
Years ago while just getting started in my first business, I had joined a chamber of commerce and noticed that when the president came in, everyone lit up and he greeted them warmly by name, asked them something personal and often gave hugs or warm and hearty handshakes. It looked honest and sincere. People weren’t sucking up to him or being fake. He genuinely seemed to take interest in others. He became a mentor to me and he didn’t even know it.
The funny thing is that in no time at all, I really DID care about others and what they were doing. I couldn’t wait to pass along a referral, help them with a problem or otherwise find a resource for them. Soon, I was getting calls from all over as a ‘go to’ person for a variety of resources.
With my friends, it was much the same. We all helped each other during times of adversity and celebrated success when it occurred. Although, at that time, I had a propensity for continual tardiness.
But there was a side no one saw. I kept hidden. And it is only recently that I realize that it is something I still do today and still have not ‘confessed’ to the world as I am doing now. In fact, this behavior I have is simply excused by others as ‘being busy.’
I noticed even my family would start off invitations as “I know you’re busy, but…” I even shifted my working habits so I could be busy all the time. But what was really happening is that I needed ‘down time.’
The Introvert in Me
On Tuesday mornings (as I write this), I am lucky enough to be the president of a local Business Networking International Chapter (ask me for an invite some time!). On these days, I am revved up for networking, meetings, phone calls, luncheons and whatever else comes up. My wife and I have great conversations and often go run around a bit in the evenings.
Wednesdays, however, are very different. I focus on work and tasks. I schedule only certain times of the day to make calls or even answer emails. I let calls go to voice mail and will often forward it to team members of my business if they can handle it. I take long walks. I zone out on TV Shows or Movies in the evening. I check out and go ‘inside.’ I’m embarrassed to say anything about it, so I often text, “I’m tied up for a while. I’ll give you a shout later.” Or I simply ask for specifics to email answers or have someone else handle it.
I really can’t handle talking to anyone those days.
Now, I’m not saying it is debilitating or anything. I can still schedule meetings, make calls and so forth, but I have noticed that I mentally and physically need some alone time. And if too many of these days go on and on, things start to get a bit touchy with my attitude. I have to pay attention to that and adjust accordingly.
At this point, in my confession, I have to decide if it’s something I’m going to change about myself, or if I’m going to simply go with the ebb and flow. In my line of business, where I have to handle sales, production and business aspects, it seems to be working out nicely. But did the business create my tendencies, or did my tendencies shape how I work?
I’m sure there’s a psychological condition that describes my introvert/extrovert duality, but I just don’t feel like searching for it or labeling it. After all, it doesn’t matter what it’s called, it’s simply enough to recognize it and leverage it for the best outcome in helping others get what they want.
What traits do you have that you’re able to leverage?
I’ve had a hard Holiday season this year for some strange reason, and I’m not entirely sure why.
While a few things aren’t where I’d like them to be, most things are pretty great. And the gratitude, faith, and love I have around me is pretty spectacular.
So why should I be experiencing a rash of bad dreams and a touch of melancholy?
I heard on NPR the other day, that while holidays are supposed to be about celebrating, we also often remember those who are gone – either from passing or simply passed from our lives. I think that may be a huge part of it.
While trimming the tree this year, I found myself having waves of sadness. At first it was the usual suspects: mom (who passed in ’97), friends I used to chat with, real vacation days playing video games or watching movies, even tons of cookies baking in the kitchen and milk cooling in the fridge. But upon reflecting some more, I’ve come to realize that it was more of losing the magic of the holidays.
At 47 years of age, as I hung the small parrot that was one of my mother’s first ornaments on her first Christmas trees as well as a small gold ornament of a drummer boy that was my first ornament, I was thrust through time remember all the years where I hung the same ornaments. All those years flooded back into my mind of a huge live pine tree with a root ball in a wash tub covered with a tree skirt atop a plywood train table. The small village that sprawled across the table with lights flickering inside each one, a small figuring of a skater on a mirrored ‘ice rink’ and a train circling it all. Tinsel reached out and shocked me with static electricity (after the lead tinsel was no longer used for obvious health concerns).
But most of all, it was the magic that my parents created for us each year.
And while I know that some of the ‘magic’ came at the cost of perpetuating the fibs that occur regarding the big jolly fellow, that they often went into debt and ran up credit cards to get presents, and probably didn’t get much for themselves some years, the sheer magic of waking up early, sneaking out to the living room, and seeing all the lights of the tree on with packages below the tree (or circling the train table) gave me enough memories for a lifetime of experiencing awe and wonder of Christmas.
While this is not a religious diatribe, it is an exploration of where can we experience that same awe and wonder as when we were children?
This what has me vacillating between happiness of all that I have and sadness of what I am trying to reclaim.
Some people believe it’s up to each of us to make great things happen in our lives, that we make our own miracles. Others wait or ask for something great to happen and ask for miracles. I swing back and forth between the two thoughts.
With only a few days until Christmas and only a day after Solstice, I think I’ll continue to revel in the present and still spend some time in the memories of the past, but I think it’s time to create the future that has the magic of both.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
All in one place for you to read, chapter by chapter.
© 2013 Eric Huber. Silicon(e)™ is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.