Monday, November 16, 2009

Against the Gale

Bertrand Russell said, "In the part of this universe that we know there is great injustice, and often the good suffer, and often the wicked prosper, and one hardly knows which of those is the more annoying." Having the courage to stand up and take action against this grand annoyance is the hallmark of those who have a deep sense of self, and who treasure authenticity and integrity.

Discovery of self is a mantra one of those "tools of power" so often at the center of self-improvement schemes. Yet, I believe we spend a large part of our lives hiding from ourselves, because we cannot or will not face the truth of the evils which live in the shadows around us. It is a perfect storm of suffering which threatens to inundate us all, a tsunami crashing upon us from the ocean of tears we, ourselves, created. Perhaps, in standing against that storm, we can discover who we are and what we are. Perhaps, by standing on the shoals near the dark shore, we can face down the terrible storm and find the beauty of the world.

Dr. Seuss saw the truth of the matter: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."


Against the Gale

The beauty of the world is testament,
That suffering cannot be at the core.
Yet although evil is not heaven-sent,
Mankind hides in its shadows all the more:
Seeking to deny the truth in caring,
And hiding from compassion in their souls,
Focusing on self, and never daring
To face the tear-filled ocean from its shoals;
These victims of impatience and ennui,
Will seek out those who stand and face the storm
Who understand the challenges they see,
And seek to deviate far from the norm!
Although their feet may rest on shifting sand,
Against the gale they have courage to stand.

Mick McKellar
November 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Voices in the Noise

Tinnitus is the most constant of companions. Though I can ignore it when louder noises penetrate the shimmering curtain of white noise, the hissing—reminiscent of static on old amplifiers and tube radio sets—is always there to fill any void left by those moments of complete and utter silence I dreaded as child. Now they seem a treasure beyond reach, a shadowed memory of the times before noise.

My family tires of televisions and radios set to high volume, so that I can separate the dialog from the music score on movies and television shows, or pick out the lyrics on a favorite song. Mostly, I miss singing reliably, for the notes playing in my head are usually not the ones I am supposed to deliver. It can be confusing.

Sometimes, as I try to sleep, I think I can hear distant voices in the hissing veil of sound, like radio stations just out of reach. They might be there, but I am not certain. Like watching the snow on the television when the cable goes out, ghost images and spectral sounds are created in the overloaded senses by a imaginative mind. I wonder if I could dream about silence?


Voices in the Noise

The scale of the problem's beyond belief;
The hissing and ringing are far too great.
The realm of dreams is my only relief,
In the true redoubt of unconscious state.
Awake, I embrace life's deafening roar;
Grieving for quiet, so long departed
That I doubt I would know it any more—
For silence left town when this stuff started.
Though sopranos may soar, up to the sky,
With altos swift following, on the trail,
And tenors are wailing, wondering why
The basses have dropped off the bottom scale;
I can no longer join in the singing:
I have to answer—my ear is ringing!

Mick McKellar
November 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Things Never Change

Foot-sore Fox and Ribald Rabbit are back. My old friends materialized out the dust of forgotten roads and the seldom traveled pathways in my mind. I have not visited with them since 2005, perhaps because I have not needed their council and their peculiar points of view...until now.

Although careworn and ragged, the pair seemed in good spirits and came bearing the gifts of friendship, knowledge, wisdom, and most importantly, donuts. The years and the layers of dust melted away with the flavors of the dark, rich, and bitter coffee and the sweet glazed goodness of fresh donuts. It may have been the breakfast of champions, but it was the bitter-sweet reunion of old souls on their journey.


Some Things Never Change

The Foot-sore Fox had been hanging around,
And watching me work in my living room;
Just as long as he did not make a sound,
My anger would not encompass his doom.

When he and the Ribald Rabbit came back,
To haunt my house and my breakfast table,
I decided to cut them both some slack,
And help them out, as long as I'm able.

Still, at morning coffee, twas strange to see,
Midst hustle and bustle at start of day,
The small, friendly faces, grinning at me
In their down-home, frazzled, uncertain way...

They'd been on the road, their clothes still dusty;
The Rabbit's old dark sunglasses were smudged,
And the Fox's walking stick was rusty --
So, the pair had seen better days, I'd judged.

For sake of friendship and memories shared,
I welcomed the travelers to my home;
And they seemed surprised that I had still cared,
Because of dark places they'd had to roam.

This morning, they seemed energetic, spry,
Casting conspiratorial glances
At each other, making me wondered why,
And so I asked them, taking my chances.

Incredibly each one started to grin,
Laughing, giggling, and smirking brightly;
Fox reached for a bag that he had brought in,
And brought out a box, which he gave to me.

I thanked them, and said, at the very least,
To survive had taken a lot of guts.
I made coffee, and then we had a feast.
But the two of them ate the most donuts...

Mick McKellar
November 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I'd Love To...

I remember looking out the back door, early on a summer's morning, when the sun's daybreak fire gleamed and sparkled from millions of dew drops on the grass. The desire to run barefoot through that shimmering sea of light tore at my heart, as I was forbidden to dance in the diamond light and soak my clothes or get my feet wet in the chilly dawn. The rules were clear and enforced. An adventure walking in cold rain led to pneumonia and a hospital stay. I learned.

There are so many things that, in my heart, I would love to do, to experience, to drink in. Yet, there is this small voice in the back of my mind, which warns me about letting go, about releasing preconceived notions about the world which exist to filter and buffer and protect. Nurture suppressing nature, I hesitate, and a moment is lost forever. Oh, I know there are a thousand urges and desires to fulfill, and a million wonders to experience — most of which are illegal, immoral, or fattening. Although my good sense and training restrains me from just letting go
the fact remainsI'd love to...


I'd Love To...

I'd love to play on the lawn,

But the grass is wet from morning dew:

Bright nervous tears shed at dawn,

By angels crying for me and you.

I'd love to stand in the rain,

But mother said I will catch a cold:

From teardrops falling in pain

The sky depressed about growing old.

I'd love to jump in the snow,

But my boots will fill up with the stuff:

Memories frozen, to sow

Cloud-borne secrets grown heavy enough.

I'd love to walk with the wind,

But it's fingers will push me along:

Barristers sent, to rescind

Whispers voiced by its quicksilver song.

I'd love to lie in the sun,

But its hot touch will redden my skin:

Rivers of light swiftly run,

Softly warming where eddies sink in.

I'd love to shuffle through leaves,

But the wind will just blow them around:

Summer departs, Autumn grieves,

And their thick blanket covers the sound.

I'd love to listen to stars,

But the darkness calls to my spirit:

Music of the heavens jars

Loose the souls of all those who hear it.

I'd love to simply let go,

But I must surrender completely:

Allow my nature to show,

But my nurture simply won't let me.

Mick McKellar

November 2009

In Praise of Curmudgeons

Well, someone has to speak up for us old curmudgeons. Were it not for the groaning and growling, the moaning and howling of noisy old curmudgeons, who would bother to consider that anything at all was wrong? Someone must step up to mention that the latest teen heart throb seems to have the IQ of a turnip. Someone has to point out that the latest fashions are designed for skeletons and stick people. Someone has to tell everyone that the cup is half empty because there is a hole in the bottom.

I have been called a curmudgeon by some folks. Maybe.

Webster defines a curmudgeon as: a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man. Other definitions include:

  • An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions
  • A surly or miserly person
  • A crusty, irascible, cantankerous, old person full of stubborn ideas
Yeah, that's me -- although I prefer the adjectives sensitive, candid, and truthful. I guess it's all a matter of perceptions.


In Praise of Curmudgeons

I live in a world that may limit me,

Whether by custom, by fear, or by law,

If I don't try to be curmudgeonly -

Push others till their tempers are raw.

Although celebrity suffers a fool,

As long as charisma can pave the way

To the far, shallow end of the gene pool -

That swimmer has but a short time to stay.

For eventually that world will swell,

Past the darkling veil of hyperbole,

To touch the place where old curmudgeons dwell -

Who love beauty and creativity;

Who exhibit the wondrous quality,

Blending candor with great integrity.

Mick McKellar

November 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Story of JOB

It is perhaps the most common story in our country now. For me, it was the loss of a companion who traveled with me more than 41 years. We met when I was but 15 years old, and we traveled together with but two interruptions: a one-month forced separation in 2004 and a brutally sudden separation in January 2009, enforced by economic woes and geographic challenges.

Since then, I have contacted and visited with many friends and acquaintances who tell me that, although they have searched, they cannot help me find my friend JOB. I am now attempting to meet and work with new friends, so that I can help them with their needs and they can help me get along without my old friend JOB. Still, I search for him, at least three times each week...


The Story of JOB

Twas mystical times in the distant past,
In the dark, shadowed winter of my life,
When my old friend, JOB breathed his very last
Breath, and his loss pierced like a hunting knife.
More than mere friends, we were compatriots,
Inseparable during waking hours;
Sharing so much time, folks thought I was nuts,
And soon, I would be pushing up flowers.

But dear old friends soon came to my rescue,
And they helped make my old friend disappear.
They showed me the door, and what I should do,
So the door didn't hit me in the rear!
Yet, within a month, I missed my old friend,
For he made me feel both strong and alive;
And I grieved that our friendship had to end,
For without his support, I could not thrive.

I vowed to search and to find him again,
But he is elusive, so hard to find
That my other friends grow embarrassed when,
My questing words bring his absence to mind.
They know that I miss him, it's in their eyes -
A deep shadow in the dark of the moon;
And I hear it so clearly in their sighs:
They all hope that I find JOB very soon!

Mick McKellar
November 2009