Category Archives: Creativity

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

We’ve been at this humanity thing for thousands of years now and still haven’t figured it out. What ever happened to all those theories on evolution? Guess they don’t apply to the ‘getting along with others’ gene. All this time and still so much killing, fighting, and arguing. All these advancements in technology and education, yet none in human nature.

Our news is full of images of the war machine gobbling up more and more victims, one man’s greed causing the starvation of countless fellow men, riots and lives torn apart.

Then again, with 7 billion of us roaming around and weapons of mass destruction ready to finish us all off, it’s a wonder we’re all still here to not get along with each other.

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Detour

He has a plan. Of course. There’s always a plan. Never leave home without one. Never. His whole life, planned. How else can you be successful in life? You have to have goals. Without them, you end up nowhere. Fast. Not him. Not a chance.

Then there’s his sister, the ‘free spirit’. Free?? Really? She calls living  hand to mouth in a smelly apartment in Nothingsville, USA free? Please, who is she trying to kid. She blows in the wind, letting life carry her wherever it chooses. No control over her own destiny.

Control.

That’s really what it’s all about for him, isn’t it. His plans, his goals make him feel like he is the master of his own fate, the ruler of his own destiny.

Control. Hmmmm…. Landing on planet earth at this precise time, place, and circumstance a matter of his own control and choosing… Being able to think, feel, live, breathe- all acts of his own control…

And then there’s the matter of demise. Unpreventable.

Out
of
his
control
.

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Waiting

She put the cup to her lips expecting a wave of warm foamed milk infused with the satisfying bitter of dark Ecuadorian coffee. Nothing more than flat milk with cold coffee. How long had she been sitting there?

She took the i-phone out of her bag. Text message: R u coming? Send. Quick time check. Thirty-six minutes of waiting.

Maybe… what if… just once more…

She knew he’d never come.

I-phone notification: her message hadn’t gone through. The dull ache set in. The same ache she had felt every Friday since–

It was their weekly ritual to meet after work at the coffee shop to start their weekend together. The baristas admired them as ‘that lovely couple’. It was the same every Friday until–

She knew she couldn’t bend the laws of time and tragedy to undo what had happened. Still, she had to keep coming. Every Friday. To not do so would be to betray him and the start of their weekend together.

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The Inner Fire

Does everyone have it, or is it only a certain type of person? Is it part of being human, or just for those predisposed to it? That fire that blazes in the inmost being- does everyone experience it? Do some just squelch it to make life easier for themselves? It can be rather inconvenient at times, igniting severe discomfort. To fan it into full flame can be dangerous. It can blaze out of control. To ignore it can be ever so practical, allowing a smooth chameleon-like existence– be who you need to be to get what you want in any given circumstance. Know the rules, play the game, get what you want. What you will get is a life of ease and accomplishment.

For those who are all too keenly aware of that drive for something beyond comfort and niceties, life is not so easy. They will not yield, or bend, or conform. They check with their internal compass and blurt out any discrepancies between it and the outer world. Completely inadvisable. They point out the hollowness of changing winds, yes-men, and darkness masquerading as light. They upset the veneer of smoothness. And what do they get in exchange? Shunning and ridicule, marginalization and scoffing. The world turns its back on them. If only they could harness that which burns within them to fight for what truly matters in a way that the world would understand. Then they could reignite what the hollow have lost and teach them how to truly live.

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Forgotten

There lay the blog. Forgotten in cyberspace. Neglected by his only parent in this world. He drifts aimlessly, unloved, unheeded, lonely, abandoned.

Then out of nowhere, she appears again, to take him up once more, just like that, as if she’d never left. She expects him to let her in again, to give her the space to record her thoughts and let others peer in on her world- a vessel for her to ‘express herself’. How self-indulgent. What about his needs, his wants, his whims and wishes? She doesn’t care. Doesn’t even ask how he’s been this whole time, if he’s picked up more followers, if his stats are up. Doesn’t even bother to look.

And so, she takes her place again in front of the keyboard, letting her moods spill into the evening air. Silently, she thanks him for taking her back.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

East Meets West

“I simply must have these.” She had the same thought every time she walked into that store. Most who walked into the East Side Thrift Store did so out of necessity, some out of shame. They would rather have shopped at the high-end boutiques on the other side of town. But that side of town wasn’t their side of town.

She, however, shopped there by choice. A little tongue-in-cheek perhaps. Every Thursday, she arrived a few minutes after store opening. New stock was put out after closing on Wednesdays. Up and down the isles, hanger after hanger, she browsed, snagging whatever caught her fancy.

An hour or so later, she would go to the til and pay a very few dollars for a whole lot of clothing. Over the next couple of days, she would modify each piece- adding more glitz and glitter, more beads, more colours- then carefully display each in her West End Boutique for several hundred dollars to those people who would never dream to cross to that other side of town.

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Impractical

Are there some who walk among us who were meant for other worlds? Ones who just can’t understand why they have to follow the rules, make polite conversation, sit calmly by while injustices are committed- those who insist on not seeing the cup as half empty or half full, but instead question the need for a cup at all.

These beings have landed here by mistake. They have no place in the regular flow of hustle and bustle, of make a buck and be practical. They dream and question, explore and debate, generating not even so much as an ounce of practicality.

We pity them. They don’t have what it takes to get the girl, the right job, an esteemed position in society. Pour souls, lost amidst the skyscrapers and speedways.

Yet, what if it’s not they who are lost, but we? What if they have been given to us as gifts, glimpses of worlds we’ve forgotten, places in our own hearts long neglected. If only we would make room for them, give them a soapbox to stand on, and gather round, letting our logic and pragmatism melt into the pavement as our feet float gently off it.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Welcome

Predictable: November 1 the Christmas decorations come out. Feburary 15 Easter bunnies hit the shelves. March 1 green dye stands at attention with St. Paddy’s Day just around the corner. July 31 school supplies flood the aisles. September 1 ghosts and goblins come out of hiding, back again for the season.

Winter, spring, summer, fall. Again, and again, and again.

It’s Sebastian’s turn to start experiencing these cycles. Today, you see, is his birthday- his real birthday, not the annual commemoration of the event.

Welcome to the world, little boy.

Here’s my advice to you: as you travel down life’s road and get into the rhythm of the cycles, do your best to shake them up a little. Give the circle a few edges, cut it loose, turn it into a trapezoid. You’ll shape more fun into your life and introduce those around you to possibilities they’d never considered.

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The Classics

We’ve been watching the classics lately- I mean, the real classics, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Razor’s Edge. The more we watch, the more I feel the immensity of the gulf between the classics and modern-day films.

It starts with the length of time the camera stays on a single shot. A whole scene can be played out without the camera cutting to a different angle even once. The characters, dialogue, dramatic tension keep you riveted to the screen. These days, the constant readjustments your eyes have to make to the spastically changing camera angles are enough to throw anyone into an epileptic seizure- even if you don’t have epilepsy. But that’s what holds our attention, the movement, the explosions, the adrenalin. Without these elements, there would be no distractions to protect us from the lack of substance in what we’re watching.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my fluff. The latest superhero flicks are a great way to forget the world and take a ride into adventure. It’s just that there is a serious lack of movies with meaning, ones you can discuss for hours, ones that cause you to reflect on your own life, your own character, and perhaps even make a real life change.

When I look back at my time here on earth, I want to see moments where I did something meaningful, something that really mattered. I wished that more movie makers would want the same.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Spotless

A concealed black spot taints her otherwise charming personality. It’s the scar left from a few short years spent outside of the regular flow of society. How could something like that not leave its mark?

She does well, though, smiling, engaging in conversation, moving forward in her life. As long as no one probes too deeply, her new life remains intact. It’s the eye contact that lasts too long, or the question that reaches too far into the past that cause her to check the time, make an excuse, and find the nearest exit. Nausea, the heightened sensitivity to light and noise, and the crash of her heartbeat follow.

This is what fugitives must feel like, she thinks. And she knows that she indeed is one- a fugitive from her own mind.

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Striving

Is it better to simply be or to continually strive? Does choosing to enjoy what is, abandoning the reaching for bigger, stronger, faster mean you’re giving up, surrendering? Does always looking for the next moment, the ‘better’ moment, keep you alive and thriving?

Is it better to simply be or to continually strive?

The wise among us say that it’s a mix of both- the key is knowing when to just be and when to keep striving. Each comes with a price tag and a pay off. Our character is revealed by the choice we make.

Then there are those who, no matter which choice they make, always wonder if they have made the best one. And so, I would add to the advice of the wise ones, that the best choice is to make the conscious choice, rather than letting circumstances decide for you. 

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Melancholia

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.

No one wants to be around a downer, a Negative Nelly. People like happy people- it’s like they think it’s contagious.

Poor Alfred, not blessed with a pleasant demeanor nor a penchant for everyday happiness. He was, however, flawlessly consistent. His melancholic undertone held fast through each phase and occasion of his life.

“I’m actually happy being miserable,” he remarked once to his therapist, “If you want to be happy, don’t look to me to do that for you- make your own self happy.”

Like-minded people were not easy for him to find.

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Golden Moments

You know the feeling- that rush of adrenalin, that fire in your belly, that excitement that grips you when you’re doing what you were made to do- and loving it. Everything just clicks and you’re flying on a natural high.

Those moments are golden nuggets, small and self-contained, precious gems brightening acres of blandness.

Think back over the years and remember those moments in your life when you felt truly alive in this way. Write them down. Do you notice a pattern? Is there a common thread? Take a look at when those moments came and in what context. If you can identify that, think of ways to put yourself into situations that will increase your chances of living more of these golden moments.

Your list of golden moments can also encourage you and put into perspective the rest of your life, energizing you.

Go ahead, step away from the computer, grab a paper and pen, the old-fashioned way, and start making your list.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Overdramatized

Empty pale blue eyes, wisps of aging white framing his face. Deep lines cut around his eyes, crows-feet dancing at his temples. Gritting teeth hold back decades of repressed anger over a damaged childhood, a belittling wife, a berating boss.

He stews in the juices of his own hidden rage.

He has ruined it, really- his own life, I mean, poisoned his mind with thoughts of revenge, painted his world with jealousy, peppered his interactions with backhanded compliments.

His heart is black.

There is only one place which gives him release from his self-imposed prison.

When the stage lights go up and the crowd falls silent, he is transformed. From a depth he can no longer relate to, a life breaks forth and breathes into every fiber of his being, infusing it with a vibrancy he has long forgotten.

Heart-wrenching wails, joyous ecstasies, gut-level determination possess him as his body is rocked by the words filling his soul, running freely from his lips. A long-forgotten connection with the truth of each moment carries him into the hearts of the audience that grips onto the lifeline he throws out to them.

They live through him, holding out all their long-suppressed dreams and tear-stained hopes for him to capture.

Yet, when the lights go down and the crowd jumps to its feet, the cloud of night descends on him once more, and the audience’s hearts shrink back to deep within their bosoms. The connection is forgotten- until the next curtain call.

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The Get A Life Tree

Years ago I read a lovely book by Ernie Zelinski titled The Joy of Not Working. It challenges readers to have a proper perspective on the importance of paid employment and to suck the marrow out of life and living it.

One of the activities in the book is creating a Get a Life Tree. Readers draw out a ‘tree’ with branching ideas of leisure activities they have done in the past and ones they would like to try. Additional categories can be added like activities you can do by yourself, ones to do with others, free activities, ones for a short timeframe vs. ones to do at a future point in time, etc.

It’s a great exercise in creativity to brainstorm a host of fun, worthwhile things to do that challenge you and open you to new experiences.

The really fun part, though, is putting words into action- getting out there and doing what you’ve listed on your Tree.  

I love digging out my Tree, crossing off things I’ve done, selecting new ones to tackle, feeling the excitement of new adventures, and adding new ideas to the Tree.

There are always new adventures waiting on the horizon. Why not ‘get a life’ and go after them?

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Inanimate Object- a stream of consciousness

Lifeless, limply hanging, wishing for a breath of life

Dust- living creatures turned into inanimate objects
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes

Faded photos, worn out shoes
Pieces of saints sealed in gold bottles- venerated inanimate objects

Towering cathedrals, lingering incense, echoes of silence 

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