Any Man's Death Diminishes Me…

Any Man's Death Diminishes Me…

“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
~ John Donne

Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 70th birthday. And while I can celebrate the 10th of October, I still have a tendency to grieve a bit. Today would have been my grandmother’s 114 birthday (if my math is correct). I celebrate and grieve as well.

On top of these milestones, one of my close friend’s step-father passed away, bringing all these dates and events into the forefront of my mind and heart.

John Donne’s quote has always struck a chord with me and every time I hear of someone’s passing, be it close or far, I do take a moment and try to reflect on what they meant to others and how they were perceived by others.

Did They Have Passion?

I heard a quote that the ancient Greeks asked when a person passed away that I found interesting, and that was “Did they have passion?” While this quote was said in the movie, Serendipity, I did research and found that it was generally true. “Did they have passion” for something in their life. It didn’t matter what. But it was important they didn’t squander their lives.

People die every day. It’s part of our existence. And, generally, it’s only as we grow older we notice it more often. While one movie villain says, “Time is a fire in which we all burn,” the hero responds, “Time is a friend who travels with us on our journey in life.” I believe our journey shapes our views and beliefs on death.

The Prophet: on Death

When my mother passed away in 1997, and I’m sure I’ve written this elsewhere, I read a passage from one of her favorite books titled The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. The passage was the prophet speaking to the masses about “Death.” It was chosen because of the last line which had special meaning for my mother. It seems growing up that a teacher had once told her she didn’t have talent in a certain area and shouldn’t try. You’ll see what that talent was by reading the last line.

Today, I took some time and recreated my “Illumination” digital painting and added the last few paragraphs from the passage. I’ll also post the entire passage below.

So, live each day as if it’s your last. Focus on making each day filled with more of the things you’re passionate about. And remember tell those around you how much you really love them.


(Click for larger version)

The Prophet: On Death

You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he
stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Once Upon a Time, there was _____.

Once Upon a Time, there was _____.

Stumbled across this little gem. Apparently, one of the story artists at Pixar, Emma Coats, tweeted a whole series of ‘story basics’ that she learned on how to create appealing stories from her senior colleagues. This article is a little old from May 2011 and is from http://www.pixartouchbook.com.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

As I really begin my journey into writing, I found this very inspiring. And since I have loved everything that Pixar has done, this is just fuel for the fire.

Of Gods, Temples, Shopping, and Football

Of Gods, Temples, Shopping, and Football

Why is it that so many archaeological discoveries are automatically attributed to be temples and places of worship? Gobekli Tepe, a HUGE area of buildings, predates Stonehenge by 6000 years (messing up general historic timelines for human development) and they say it’s a temple??

Will archaeologists of the future uncover our shopping malls and believe it to be plazas dedicated to the worship of individual gods? The god Nike, Apple, Kohls, Target, Dillards, and Tropical Smoothie…the god of brain freezes? It’s obvious that our shopping malls deal with the ‘divine.’ Just look at the temple of Victoria! Here we see angels!

Will our modern day stadiums be viewed as places of weekly worships where we would re-enact ancient battles every week, display the holy pigskins, speak in tongues, and each participant would wear the holy ornaments of the animal gods that the battle participants adorned? So pervasive is this religion of fuutball, that the youth are indoctrinated at a very young age at mini-religious fields in communities, schools, and colleges.

Maybe Göbekli Tepe wasn’t a temple. Maybe it was a series of training pods for some activity we’ve long forgotten.

Just my opinion.

______________

Other sources:
Gobekli Tepe 

The Awakening: Part III

The Awakening: Part III

The Awakening: Part III

Continued from Part II | If you missed it, Part I

Jake awoke slowly to find himself in a hospital room.

He felt drained. He tried to lift his arms, which were mere skeletons of what they once were just moments ago when he collapsed on the floor of his living room amongst scattered photos. Glancing around, he saw a photograph on a table of himself and his ex-wife. He thought that rather odd. There were also knick-knacks that seemed familiar but weren’t. There were some photos of his sisters that he recognized, but his sisters looked different than the last time he had seen them a few short weeks ago. They also had kids in the pictures who he didn’t recognize.

On the wall was a kid’s drawing obviously of a dog and the name “Shaggy” scrawled on it.

How long had he been here? Jake wondered. What had happened?

The door to his room opened, and a tall brunette with bright blue eyes walked in and gave him a huge smile. He recognized her, somehow, right away.

“Well, welcome back, Mr. Peterson. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Sarah,” she said, checking his chart and switching the fluid bag that was attached to the IV. She hovered around him checking his sheets and then moving his arms and legs. Jake knew it was her job, but he didn’t like her hovering around him and handling him so much. It felt intrusive.

Regardless, wanting to get some answers, Jake opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. Only a crackle emerged. He looked perplexed as was obvious by the nurse’s concerned look.

“Just relax. The doctor will be with you in a moment,” she advised before leaving the room.

A few minutes later a big burley guy dressed as an orderly came into his room. He seemed familiar. The orderly looked startled as he walked in the room and made eye contact with him.

“Mr. Peterson! You’re awake!” He looked nervously around. “Has the doctor seen you yet?”

Jake shook his head slowly, trying not to talk.

“I’ll be right back!” he said excitedly. It was strange to see such a big guy act so animated and giddy.

A moment later the door opened and a woman, who must have been the doctor appeared. She commanded the room and had flame red hair pulled back tight. Jake’s heart raced a bit feeling a familiarity, but still too confused to understand why.

“Hi, Mr. Peterson. I’m Dr. Turner,” the doctor said checking over his chart. “Don’t try to talk. You’ve been through quite an ordeal.”

Jake was very confused. The name ‘Gwen’ popped into his mind and he tried to speak again to say her name. But nothing came out and no one seemed to notice.

The orderly and a few nurses stood in the doorway. All of them seemed familiar.

They were all looking in with interest and curiosity. That’s when Jake noticed the name badge on the janitor. It read, ‘Kenny.’

“Mr. Peterson, I have some difficult news for you to hear,” the doctor spoke. “You were in a car accident and have been in a coma for some time. Do you understand?”

Jake nodded slowly. It made sense. But when had he gotten into the car? Had he tried to leave his house when the bright lights practically paralyzed him with pain?

“How?” he mouthed.

“Your car started to swerve off the road towards a bridge support, but just as you regained control, you had a blowout and ended up hitting the support after all.”

Jake blinked slowly several times, trying to remember. “When?”

“Your sisters will be here soon with their kids and husbands. They’ll talk to you about all of this. But, as I?said before, you’ve been here for some time.”

Jake nodded slowly again. Then he mouthed, “How long?”

Dr. Turner glanced back towards the door, and the nurses and orderly shifted uncomfortably, closed the door and left them to have some privacy.

“Five years.”

 


 

A few months went by as Jake picked up the pieces of his shattered life. He was able to get back into shape with only a few slight disabilities: diminished hearing, loss of range of motion in his left arm and a slight limp, which the therapists said would heal with full mobility in a few more months.

His life in the coma was comprised of only vague wisps of memories now. But from time to time, things that his sisters, their kids, the hospital staff and others did would bring small flashes of the dream back to him.

His wife — that was still a bad part that he would have to deal with over time. She had stayed around for about a year, but then she felt she had to move on. She had turned over all rights to his sisters and left. Their marriage hadn’t been doing well before the accident and just staying was not something she could do for him. A letter had been left behind and was actually quite heartfelt and positive.

The accident — he still couldn’t remember the night clearly. Maybe he had been suicidal. Maybe he had just been careless. But one thing was obvious, that fate orchestrated different plans for him.

Gwen — one of the different plans was that after several months, he had become close to the doctor that had helped him when he needed it most. They had finally gone out on a date and found that they had many things in common. He shared what memories he could of the alternate life and how most of his memories were about cleaning, organizing, and throwing things away.

They both decided that while he was healing, his mind and psyche were sorting through all the things in his life that mattered most and put them in their proper perspective. Gwen wished she had time to do that on a regular basis.

ShaggyJake did have one holdover from his alternate life, Shaggy. It turns out that Shaggy was the name of one of his sister’s kid’s dog. It just so happened, that his sister’s family was moving and Shaggy needed a new home.

As he relaxed in his living room with Shaggy on his lap, he remembered back to when his family finally got to bring him home. He had entered to find a house clean and organized. They had come together to clean and gathered what was theirs, get rid of what they knew he never used, and grouped things for him to sort through when he got home.

Shaggy let out a contented sigh as Jake looked around his home at the pictures on the wall and old memorabilia on shelves from the past. He smiled and realized with some contentment of his own, that in his home and in his thoughts every memory had a place, and there was a place for every memory.

FIN


© 2005-2019 Eric Huber. The Awakening is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Ancient Canal Builders

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Placing a parent in a retirement home is one of the hardest things a child has to do in life. But, it’s much harder for Rebecca – and stranger.

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Sponsor Creativity

If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.

Even a cup of coffee for a few dollars, or $5 for a triple grande mocha would give me some 'juice' to create for me and others.

The Awakening: Part II

The Awakening: Part II

The Awakening: Part II

Continued from The Awakening: Part I

Two months passed. The date had been a failure, which allowed Jake’s shed cleaning project to continue along nicely. He figured he would need only two more weekends before all the clutter in his shed (and house) would be either gone completely or stored neatly. He had heard a saying once that “clutter is just postponed decisions.”

He had a lot of decisions to make still.

Saturday was ‘sorting through photos’ day. Gobs of them. From infancy to just the past month.

Once the photos were done, it would mostly be going through clothes, dishes and an assortment of items too big to box. Those would go quickly. He had inventoried them in his mind several times already. He just had to focus on his methods and never waiver.

But after just a couple of hours of just sorting the photos, he started developing a headache again. This one was a lot worse. Even after taking some pain medicine, the pain hadn’t subsided much. Against his better judgement, he decided to focus on the clothes and dishes and leave the photos.

By Sunday afternoon, all that was left was the photos.

The headaches had been getting worse. With only the photos left, and everything packed away, he was surprised at how much this one was killing him. He was so close to complete organization he couldn’t stop. Eight years of sorting through all the things he’d collected over the years were almost at an end.

He sat there, in the middle of his living room staring around the room and rubbing his temples. He was surrounded by photos in stacks sorted by time period, subject matter and photographer. All the photos and albums from his childhood, college, the wedding and up to a year before the divorce were in order and just needed to be boxed.

He stared at the photos of his ex-wife, thinking back to the time when things had gotten so bad in his marriage that he had thought of just ending it all by just driving head on into a bridge support on the way back from work one night.

Of course he was too scared of the physical pain that would result and instead spent the next three years in emotional pain. “Yeah, that was a much better decision,”?Jake shook his head which just increased the pain and made him dizzy.

But when it came to the divorce, he knew deep down that he had made the right decision. There were so many things he had done and experienced since then that he couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to miss them all.  He started to think about a trip he and Kenny took when a sharp pain pierced his head and sent sparks across his eyes. He reeled for a moment and after a few minutes the pain subsided.

“Whoa. That sucked,” he rubbed his temples as his vision cleared.

The dog stared at him from her comfy spot on the couch overlooking the mass collection of memories and sighed. “Well, might as well finish this up, right Shaggy?”

Jake reached for the first stack and had a searing flash of pain coupled with a bright white light that filled his vision. These weren’t mere sparks. And the flash of pain was like that from a dagger.

After a few minutes the lights and pain subsided, and he found himself lying flat on his back staring at the ceiling. Some of the photo stacks had been knocked over and scattered around.

“Okay, that really sucked, Shaggy.”?He glanced over, but Shaggy had left. He called her name, but she didn’t come. Jake wondered how long he had been lying on the floor and tried to check his cell phone, but it was completely dead.

“Swell,”?he thought, “Okay, only eight more stacks, and I’m done.”

Jake reached for the first stack that he had knocked over. As he flipped them over, he gasped when he saw they were blank. All of them. Just as he was trying to comprehend why the photos were now all blank, a wall of pain hit him full force making him reel with nausea and his heart start to race.

“What the hell?” he cried, his eyes winced in pain.

He was just recovering and was, stubbornly, reaching for another stack of photos as pain, light, and, now, a blaring static sound began washed over his sense. As the light dimmed, he saw that this next pile, too, held blank photos.

His body started to tingle, and his legs began to ache as the light and noise made focusing on the room around him more difficult. He scattered the remaining photos only to find every single one was blank.

Then he started coughing as if something was caught in his throat. He couldn’t breathe through his nose either. He felt nauseous. Was he dying?

Jake started for the house phone, but his legs didn’t carry him. He fell to the floor, writhing in agony.

The lights were everywhere, and the sounds were just as piercing as the light. They started to sound like voices and machines. Metal clanking. Wheels rolling.

What is happening to me?’ Jake thought as he, thankfully, lost consciousness.

To be continued in part iii….


© 2005-2019 Eric Huber. The Awakening is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Ancient Canal Builders

Ancient Canal Builders

Updated August 28, 2022 I had initially published this article in April of 2011 but discovered in 2022 that the site by John Jensen* was no longer available. It categorized many hidden canals and ports in North America, shifting our view from what we think we know...

read more
Atlantis and The Eye of the Sahara (Richat Structure)

Atlantis and The Eye of the Sahara (Richat Structure)

One of the tenants of my "First Earth" theory is that humans had risen in the ancient past vs. aliens 'seeding' our planet (and/or giving us the technology to advance). Some believe our history is much more vast than ever thought before. In other words, "WE are the...

read more
The Veil

The Veil

Placing a parent in a retirement home is one of the hardest things a child has to do in life. But, it’s much harder for Rebecca – and stranger.

read more

Sponsor Creativity

If you’ve enjoyed anything on my site, please feel free to donate what you can. In turn, I’ll continue to add content and encourage others to live a creative life! Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed your time. If you feel like reaching out, please do so. I'm easy to find.

Even a cup of coffee for a few dollars, or $5 for a triple grande mocha would give me some 'juice' to create for me and others.