Category Archives: Writing

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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Cheap Entertainment

I suppose it was a bit rude if not downright disrespectful. But we couldn’t help it- there was no way we could deny ourselves such riotous belly laughs.

There we were, just faces in a crowd with so many others. There were groups of twos and threes, even a table of ten or so, everyone engrossed in their own conversations- except for us.

We strategically placed ourselves across the room from a couple of ladies having an intense conversation full of animated gestures and wild head shaking. We were in the mood for a movie, you see, without the will to part with the money, given the prices these days. We have both watched our share of foreign dubbed movies, appreciating the quality content. Today, we decided to create our own.

My friend took on the voice of the middle-aged hippie-looking lady, and I took on the wide-eyed scarf-lady. My friend began dubbing over the mouthed words of the hippy, “Oh my goodness, Chelsea, I so love your hair! I’ve always wanted dry, stringy hair but just haven’t been able to make that look happen for me.”

The scarf lady stared back intently at her conversation partner, soaking in every word. After a poignant pause, she spoke with these words of mine, “Anastasia, I don’t appreciate you putting yourself down like that. You have such beautiful vomit-orange highlights, and amazingly uneven lengths- your hair is a work of art. You need to appreciate yourself more.”

Hippy lady swung her arms in wide circles, “Oh, Chelsea, you’re the best friend anyone could ever have in the whole world! You are so good to me, I just can’t believe you’re my friend. I– I’m touched.”

And on these ladies went to speak- through the words we lent them without their knowledge- of boiled cabbage, undersized Speedos, and rainbow-painted VW vans. We were howling so loudly that we wondered if someone noticed. Maybe at another table others picked us out of the crowd and were inserting words into our mouths.

In this day and age with rising prices and a depressed economy, we need to get creative to find cheap entertainment. This method of do-it-yourself live dubbed ‘movies’ can be applied anywhere, anytime. All it takes is the ability to scout out suitable ‘actors’ and an imagination to improvise the ‘script’. Just bring along some munchies, and enjoy!

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Gift of Presence

I cannot take away your loss, or erase the things that happened. I haven’t got any answers for you, or words that will make it alrght.

But I will sit with you and listen as you cry your tears and recount the moments engraved in your heart. I will smile as you tell me of the happy times you shared and will hold your hand when as it shakes.

I will sit with you.

I will sit with you and hope that it is of some comfort to you. It is all I have to offer.  

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The Story of Your Life

If you had to write the story of your life in a mere 250 words, how would it read? Would it be a mystery, drama, romance, adventure? What would be the overarching theme? Who would be the supporting characters? From whose point of view would you write?

I wonder how clearly we see the story of our lives. Taking the time to think about it could make the difference in finding our “Happily ever after”.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

The Silent Days

Film shot in black and white. Silent. Women in overaccentuated eyeliner. Men in regal top hats. Flowing sequins gowns. Faces veiled in mystery. The world of elegance and simplicity, graced by curtsies and “how do you dos”.

I peek from behind the thick velvet curtain, waiting for the director to command “Action!”.

The stars mill about, maintaining their poise. They don’t know I’m here, trespassing their era, sneaking a sip from the fountain of yesteryear. It is better for me to be here with them, than for them to be in my day. There they have all been filed into back rooms of libraries and archived into film study collections, replaced by pyrotechnics and botox.

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