Dinosaur Flatulence

Topics like the above in esteemed scientific journals fascinate me. Mind you, I didn’t make this topic up.

Do they show that scientists also have a sense of humor? Or, are they really just weird?

Brachiosaurus Dinosaur

Oops! I didn't do that!

In this case, I wasn’t sure, since the topic of flatulence is, well, pretty much out there. So Mr. Curiosity – that’s me – decided to investigate.

In the May 8, 2012 edition of Current Biology (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/), principal investigator David M. Wilkinson, along with Euan G. Nisbet and Graeme D. Ruxton, all researchers from prestigious universities in England, posed the following question:

Could methane produced by sauropod dinosaurs have helped drive Mesozoic climate warmth?                            (source: Current Biology, V. 22, No. 9, pp R292-3)

Now, this is an interesting question on several levels. We’ll get to that, but first, some of the facts from their groundbreaking study:

  1. Sauropods were the big, long-necked dinos that ate a lot of plant life, both high in the trees, and low on the ground. They were eating machines.
  2. These folks were around in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Mesozoic era. About 135 million years!
  3. Approximately 11-15 of these creatures would be found in any square kilometer of land space, or about 30-40 of these big boys per square mile.
  4. Each animal outgassed about 2700 liters of methane daily. Yes, that’s a lot of flatulence. Per animal, per day.
  5. The amount of gas that they emitted is as much as 24 times the average daily emittance of modern-day ruminants, such as cows. That does not take into account vegans.

The long and the short of this study: researchers found that sauropods probably affected global warming during their tenure on earth. And, if you want to measure the length of time of the three aforementioned ages, they were around a long, long time.

What are the take-aways from this environmental (I’m serious here) study?

  • Living creatures other than running-dog industrialists and capitalists have affected climate change.
  • The Earth, also known as Gaea, the Titan earth-mother, seemed to adjust to the annoyance of creatures on her turf heating things up. Gaea did not burn up, blow up, or become a dead planet.
  • At some point Big Mamma got tired of the whole thing, killed off the offending bunch of smelly dinos, and then repopulated her fields and hills with new creatures. And started all over again.
  • Before this final act happened, the herbivores all got really, really big.

I guess we can all infer from this that my mother is right. She often says to me these days: “The end is near, Ronny, the end is near!”

My guess is that Mom is correct. Here are some confirming signs that I will be looking for:

  • New Hampshire’s beautiful mountain-fed lakes are finally warm enough for me to step into without screaming for the first 30 seconds each time that I do.
  • Large chunks of North Pole ice are floating in New York harbor.
  • My vegan friends are all growing to enormous size.

Watch out: global warming is upon us. The end is near!

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Ronald Sieber is a commercial writer and author who muses about Life as we know it and writes a blog while on the road. He will be talking a summer hiatus from this blog as he writes guest posts for others. Contact him at www.RonaldSieber.com if you want more results from your written commercial copy.

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Men: Shallow Or Not?

I was sharing a bottle of wine with two friends recently. They were girl-talking about men.

Man at Work

Men. Easier Fed Than Understood.

When a guy is included in such a discussion, it shows a level of trust and respect not often granted by the fairer sex. So when they directed their next comment to me, I was honored.

“You men are so shallow,” one of them stated flat-out. “When you go online to look for a woman, the first thing you check out is appearance.”

“That’s right,” affirmed the other. “Men always look at appearance first. Even at parties and meet-ups. Later on they might think about whether the woman has brains, or a personality, or whatever. Might.”

I didn’t understand their point, so I sat up and assumed a look of deep interest.

Girl One then said, “I mean, a man could be ugly, but once you get to know him, you can look beyond that and still love him for his other qualities.”

I quickly turned left to check my reflection in the wine store window. Was she talking about me? No, I hadn’t changed – not ugly yet. She must’ve been talking about someone else.  I looked again just to be sure.

So I said, “I don’t get your point. Do you mean to tell me that women don’t respond to a good-looking man?”

G-1 said, “Of course they do. But not the same way. They look for other factors, like how men talk, what they say, how they treat you. These are what’s important to a woman. And if they’re not terribly good-looking, that’s only secondary to the other stuff.”

There was that “ugly” comment again. I guess I had it all wrong, being shallow and all. Below our patio table, a brand-new Porsche purred by in search of a parking space.

G-2 noticed my flickering attention. “You are so shallow,” she said to me. “All you ever think about are fast cars and pretty women.”

I wasn’t going to ruin the taste of a good wine with a bitter argument that had no real end, so I smiled and winked, which of course completely pissed the two of them off. After all, they were both pretty.

******************************

Men are confusing to women. Consider how the world of marketing portrays men:

  • For summer 2012, Ball Park™ posed their Angus Franks and their Hot Dog Buns with the caption: Men. Easier Fed Than Understood.
  • Dr. Pepper™ has a new drink that it recently rolled out which targets the gruntier sex. Dr. Pepper 10® has so ticked off some folks that they have produced YouTube commentaries to trumpet their discontent.  I mean, like, check this example out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjcas79lqRQ.

Are men truly shallow and unthinking?  Let’s unpack that often-made assertion a bit.

Whenever I go to an automotive event (my passion, among other things previously mentioned), I can usually spot more MDs, PhDs, start-up entrepreneurs, and social activists in the groups of men wandering among the cars than I see on the campus of my dear alma mater.

These guys spend all week saving lives, researching solutions, starting businesses, trumpeting causes. So, when the weekend rolls around, they blow off steam kicking tires and lying about how fast their cars go. And the funds raised at these events almost always goes to some local charity. I mean: how shallow is all of that?

What’s a man got to do to beat down this stereotype? In this era of monumental Much Ado About Nothing, men are constantly challenged to choose a hero to look up to: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or Iron Man.

Me? I’d rather be one of the Avengers, any day of the week. Flame On! Which, of course, only adds to the confusion and misunderstanding associated with the study of men.

But wait – here’s another example to further muddy the waters. The original story was reported in The Hartford Courant on May 2, 2012 by reporter Amanda Falcone.

A 13 year-old West Hartford boy noticed a mistake made on a 6th century map that was displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He dutifully reported it, and after some checking by noted scholars, the museum is making changes in their display to correct the mistake that was made in their map.

So, the reporter then asked this brilliant young man what he wanted to do for a career when he grew up – museum curator, historian, what?

The boy responded: “I want to move to Greenwich and open a modern exotic car shop.”

Now, is that shallow, or what?

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Serendipity

I study words, but even I found this one a bit strange. Serendipity’s an odd, mysterious

Camel Crossing - Serendipity!

Camel Crossing - Seredipity!

word. And it’s also more.

Don’t get me wrong; we all need some mystery in our lives. A little strange every now and then is like ginger in our tea, spice of a different flavor.

My Random House Dictionary states that serendipity is “an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.” So there you have it: mystery & strange & desirable all wrapped up in one long word. Fancy that!

The term’s origins go back as far as 420 A.D, a noun coined from a Persian fairy tale. But I’m getting ahead of myself – more on that later.

*****************************

Last weekend began as many of mine do. Like most everyone else, I worked long and hard at my job all week so that I could do something relaxing on my Saturday off. And here I was, driving around on a remodeled home tour with my friend, Lisa.

Mind you, I wasn’t feeling particularly serendipitous this day. But, as I stepped out of my car, I noticed that a black SUV that had followed me down the hill and driven past me slowly had turned around and was now slowing down again as it approached.

It stopped opposite me, and the window lowered to reveal a smiling face.

“Say,” said the smiling face, “Did you buy that Boxster at So-And-So Performance?” And before I knew it, I met the guy who had to sell his beloved car three years before because he had been transferred to Calgary, up in Canada. I had bought it, and now it was one of my favorite rides. And so we became fast friends talking about our mutual admiration for this buggy.

He remarked that I had evidently taken good care of it, and he mentioned that he lived just up the street, and before you could say “remodeled kitchen” he was back with a box load of spare parts for the car that he graciously handed over to me, gratis. Lisa supplied the word for this chance encounter.

“Now, is that serendipity, or what?” she remarked, shaking her head and smiling.

So a few minutes later Lisa and I were standing in this remodeled home, getting the full 50-cent tour, admiring the work and listening to the remodeler’s presentation.

Just then, the brand new American-made refrigerator started to moan softly like a sick cat. The agent standing next to my friend remarked: “I have the same fridge, and sometimes it sounds like the cat inside it is dying.”

Lisa chuckled and said back: “I have the same fridge too, and when mine is not moaning, it’s clucking like a chicken.”

The agent burst out laughing at this because it obviously had happened to hers as well. Which completely ruined the presentation, because by now everyone was trading refrigerator stories and not looking at the superb granite counter, or the vaulted ceiling, or signing up to have their home redone.

But we all enjoyed this unexpected moment, even the flustered remodeler trying to present his work, and in the end we all exchanged stories and marveled how appliances can somehow connect complete strangers in new and surprising ways.

Now, is that serendipity, or what?

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The Three Princes of Serendip is a Persian tale of three brother princes who were exiled by their father, the king, so that they would learn the ways of the world from direct experience. Through several trials they become extremely clever; mystery and strange and desire all inhabit their stories.

Like when they were captured by a merchant, brought before the merchant’s king, and put on trial for the theft of his camel.

And one prince says: “You mean the gap-toothed camel carrying the pregnant woman?”

And another says: “That was blind in one eye?”

And the third said: “That carried a sack of honey on one side of its hump, and a sack of butter on the other side?”

And then all three said in unison: “We didn’t steal it. In fact, we didn’t even see it!”

At this point, not only were the merchant extremely suspicious, but also, the king who had imprisoned them.

But the magnanimous king motioned the executioner to hold back his scimitar of justice until the princes had a chance to make their point.

Which they soon did. As they put it:

  • The grasses were eaten on only one side of the trail the princes had walked on while traveling to the kingdom. Not even the good side of the trail. And there were clumps where grass had not even been pulled up.
  • There were flies on one side of the trail, swarming some yellow liquid. And ants on the other, carrying off some golden syrup.
  • A tiny human hand and foot print were also by the trail, right by the hoof print of a camel.

Just then a minister to the king rushed in, saying that there was a very pregnant woman at the gate seeking alms, traveling with a one-eyed camel laden with sacks.

The king immediately recognized their powers of deduction, dropped all charges, and appointed the three princes to be ministers of his cabinet.

Now, is that serendipity, or what?

Ronald Sieber is a commercial writer and author who muses about Life as we know it and writes a blog while on the road. Leave your reactions about the blog in the space provided if you like. Need help with your corporate communications? Contact him at rdsieber@gmail.com.

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Recession-Proof Ducks

Let’s face it: 2011 tanked for legions of folks in the U.S.A.

Ducks are Recession-Proof

Ducks ignore recessions. They work around them.

High unemployment abounded. Savings accounts were depleted. Economic stagnation dominated.

2011 dashed hopes for many. And according to the pundits, 2012 appears to be more of the same.

But how does recession look at ground level?

………………………………………………

I sit on a broken bench with a brick patio edging the pond. It’s a beautiful spring day in the South. A gentle breeze tickles the water’s surface.

Lovers stroll by, clasping hands and talking between smiles.

Swans skim along the surface in a vee-shaped line.

A duck gives instruction to her brace of ducklings. She quacks; they all peer at her. She dips her head under the water; they all dip their heads.  I remember the dipping bird toy perched on a glass by a window in my dorm from 1968.

The breeze sends joyful screaming from across the pond. Kids run, jump, play in a jungle gym while parents stand around, smiling, talking.

So much joy makes me wonder: is this a depressed economy?

To my left, high schoolers pose in their prom outfits with the pond as background. Low-cut dresses to promenade with and short, puffy skirts meant to dance. White tuxes and black tuxes and ties of every color and pattern.

For some young smiles, prom will be their most shining moment in high school. Regardless, proud parents and grandparents shoot photos of their kids.

The brilliant sky sports white puffy clouds. The bricked patio, the laughing playground, the pond with quacking ducks : this is ground level.

……………………………………………………………………….

Is this the look of a recession? Why does all of this seem so normal?

Because recession is a normal part of capitalism. It is a natural event in a cycle as regular as summer and winter.

In a culture that rewards novel ideas, hard work and innovation, a boom is an expected outcome from success.

And a recession follows to correct overblown growth.

Boom times and busts are cogs on a giant economic wheel. People benefit from the booms and get hurt during the busts. Sadly, those who benefit are not always those who later suffer loss.

We all remember the boom times. But, we always seem to forget the recessions until the next one is upon us.

And yet, Life seems to move along despite recessions.

Consider the ducks in the pond. The lovers strolling by. The kids going to prom and the proud parents taking their pictures.

Are they mixed up? Out of touch? Why aren’t they acting all mopey and sad? I mean, like, we’re in a recession!

The ducks and others are fine. What they have is what we need: they have perspective. They work around it.

Because there will be times when we shine, and our pockets are flush with cash.

And, there will be times when we are down on our luck, and the cupboard is nearly bare. Like mine is right now.

Dick Gregory grew up from poverty, but he turned his mother’s comment about that into a great essay on dignity. She said (and he wrote): “We ain’t poor, just broke.”

Broke doesn’t mean broken. Broke is kept in perspective when we realize that things’ll get better any day now. Broke is conquered by believing we can change our current condition.

And believing that we will succeed.

Broke is a great motivator to get working. I’m sitting on that very bench, but I’m working on my next great idea.

And you? Are you working on your next great idea?

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Parades, Beauty Queens, and Community

Everyone loves a parade.  What’s not to like about them?

Everyone Loves A Parade!

Everyone Loves A Parade!

Parades are street parties, cavalcades, jugglers and clowns, unity displays, all rolled together into one. Every costumed girl on a float is a debutante at her own ball, a beauty queen on display.

Parades are diverse. Parades are organized disorder. They represent.

Parades are boatloads of fun, as American as America can be.

I went to Wilmington, North Carolina to enjoy the annual Azalea Festival, which kicks off each April with a parade. And, soon enough, I had connected up with some new friends made possible by a shared interest in cars.

Hey! said one of them to me. You wanna be in the parade? We’re gonna be in the parade – come join us!

And so I carefully thought – for about a microsecond – about all the ramifications of a street party with a beauty queen in my convertible car, driving her while she waves to streetside throngs of admiring people.

Sure, I said. You bet!

I mean, like, it was doing public service by displaying public art, wasn’t it? I was spreading good cheer by smiling at strangers and waving back while they waved at me. I even took pictures of them taking pictures of me (or was it the car? Or maybe the beauty queen composed on the cowling?).

Parades, however, are not about individuals, but about an entire happening.

Harold Arlen, the famous composer of Over the Rainbow, scored the song made famous by its declaration: I Love a Parade. Few among us today can hum a piece of that tune, but heck! Everyone instantly responds to that title with a knowing smile. Parades are parties on steroids! You gotta love ‘em.

They are the sound of marching bands, with their horns and drums competing for attention.

They are soaring batons thrown high by strutting majorettes in glittery boots.

Varieties of floats adorn a parade: cartoon characters, fairy tale scenes, whatnot. Little kids scamper on them with their pets and squint at the crowd, while pretty girls in ballroom gownery smile and wave. Sponsors with stickers on their trucks grin and tow the float they spent all last night finishing up.

The colors and imagery of swirling costumes, exotic animals led by halter, clowns performing pranks, antique vehicles popping and hissing, honored military veterans marching in step, police and fire fighters rolling through with sirens blaring, energetic youth sport teams smiling, poking and pinching each other as they walk together in their first parade ever (ever!). Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and 4-H Club members and the whole American fabric on display for all to see. This is a parade!

Parades are all about diversity of people, and interests, and things. They are all about applied creativity and handicraft. They celebrate hard work and individualism and team effort and just getting ‘er done. And they are all about people enjoying their moment in the sun.

Parades are as American as America can be. They celebrate all that is good about our communities, our accomplishments, our past, and our future.

The audience, however, is just as important as the show. Without a community, there is no parade. And without a parade, there is no party.

Are you going to a parade this year?

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Honoring Our Past; Grounding Our Future

Many of us in the old car hobby think of ourselves as owners and enthusiasts, but we are really much more than that.

Mormon Meteor Duesenberg Speedster

photo © Copyright 2011 Ronald D. Sieber

We are custodians of national history. We are fenderside philosophers. We are culture warriors.

Let’s face it: the world is in tumult, barreling along with the new and improved at light-speed. Used to be just a few smart ones in the bunch on a much less-populated planet. They innovated and invented and somehow got their product to markets so that the rest of us could consume and enjoy and improve our lives with their can’t live without stuff.

Nowadays all that has changed.

Our planet now sports almost seven billion humans, strong and weak alike, all wanting a place in the sun and a moment of joy. And even though they are still just a small percentage of the total, many more inventors and innovators are out there. Duking it out in cyberspace, fighting for attention and recognition.

In a world of accelerating Everything, just how more new and improved can we get?

Which brings me back to my buddies at curbside.

All across America, in garages and under carports, thousands upon thousands of auto enthusiasts, men and women alike, tinker and toil with their trusted classic cars.

Some of these cars are like that convertible JoAnn took to the drive-in with her friends, where she met Rodney. Some of these cars first played that song which became a couple’s tune, still playing in their classic car after 40 years of marriage. Some of these cars were once Mom and Dad’s, now fixed up and all spiffy once again.

You see these cars on a sunny Saturday, rolling along in procession on a country road. You see these cars at a local drive-in, clustered in a corner, a crowd encircling them, admiring, asking questions. You see these cars at concours events, their owners in period costume, judges with clipboards and sport coats milling about, scrutinizing, blue ribbons and trophies and magnums of champagne chilling behind the awards table.

The people that own these cars labor long into the night to rebuild, restore, and maintain them. They do it out of passion: a love for their car, a love for what it represents. To them, this is fun. This is What It’s All About.

In a world of too much, too soon, too fast, these people and their work make us slow down and enjoy that which came before. In a world of perpetual amnesia, these old steeds challenge us to recall where we were in our lives when these particular models were rolling on our streets. In our use-and-toss world of callous indifference, these restored classics help us appreciate the power of recycling, rebuilding, renewing.

These old road warriors deserve to be honored, feted, and celebrated. Inventors created those engines, the tires, that seatbelt. Designers shaped that fender, the vinyl interior, the six-body trunk. Families sat in those things, went to the store, to church, and on family outings. A whole nation rolled through the twentieth century to now, driven by these.

So, the next time you are out and about, stop by and visit when you see a curbside group of classic cars and their owners. Whether it’s a concours at Saratoga Springs, New York, or a weekend cruise-in like the one in Tight Squeeze, Virginia, you are bound to get a fresh-air taste of cultural history. Far more enriching than any book or teacher in some dusty classroom.

Wander among the classic iron and soak up the history invested in these rolling art pieces. Ask their owners: “Where did you get this?” or “How long have you owned it?” or “Did you restore this beauty yourself?”  And the stories will pour out of their hearts and minds, as if they were just waiting for you to come up and ask them.

Enjoy the moment. Listen to their rich stories. Appreciate a piece of our cultural history. When we honor that which has passed, it reassures us about the uncertain times that lie ahead. In the world of cars, that future will indeed be exciting!

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Call to Duty

There we stood in the 33˚ rain, loading the Suburban with his mother’s life.

Call to Duty

Call to Duty

There’s an old saying: If you have a truck, you’ve got friends. Baby Huey, as I named my Suburban, supplies me with lots of friends. And so I was here in Cleveland, helping my buddy pack up his mother’s former apartment.

So we were loading Baby in the cold, lake-effect weather of Cleveland, not thinking about much beyond fitting as many boxes into this cave of a truck.

My friend’s mother had been declining with dementia; now she was a ward of the state, placed in a home, appointed a guardian ad litem because she had defiantly refused to ever sign over her care to her children. Who knows why? Now, the State would decide her fate.

John was there to close out her apartment and clean up the remainder. Baby and I were there to support our friend. We stood silent, in the gentle rain, apprising box sizes and fits. Unresolved grief hung in the air; we worked to forget.

We are men in our prime of life, and as such, we have to strike a balance.

On the one hand, we have children growing to be adults, feeling their independence, learning how to live on their own in careers, new houses, appliances and furniture. Budgets, work, vacations. And then, children of their own.

On the other hand, we have parents growing to be children, those who raised us, took care of us, encouraged us, until we could stand alone and be adults like them.  Now they are older, enfeebled, hobbled by disease and age. Our former strength, now becoming our wards.

It is an odd board of balance, one that is constantly shifting in weight. And then, our roles shift too.

At one point, we are the children, bawling, jumping on the board, seeking attention. At another, we are the adult, trying to smooth everything out and not upset either side. And finally we are at the other end, old, infirm, hanging on and perplexed.

Life: always a puzzle. Always something to do. And repeatedly, roles and responsibilities shift.

Many of the acts we perform in life are not those we chose to do. But we must perform them anyway, out of love, out of caring, from a center deep down within us that says: “This is who you are. This is what you do.”

The call may come from our family or friends in need of something.  Or our church needs us to assist in a project. Or our country asks us to serve.

It’s our call to duty. When it happens, we unthinkingly respond: “Yes. I will help. Here is my hand; count me in.”

So: what is your call to duty? Have you been called?

Ronald Sieber (that’s me!) is a commercial writer and author who muses about Life as we know it and writes a blog while on the road; leave comments on the blog – let me know your reactions. Contact me at www.RonaldSieber.com if you want more results from your written commercial copy.

 

 

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Facing Down Your Fear Of … (Put Your Fear Here)

Most people stereotype me as “fearless.”

Fear can rivet you. Fear can be conquered!

Fear can rivet you. Fear can be conquered!

They’ll say things like:

Oh, I really admire that you can just pack up and go anywhere at a moment’s notice!

Or:

Are you really taking salsa lessons? What a hard dance to learn!

Or:

I watched you stand up to that obnoxious man to get your point across. You did the right thing. I wish I could be like you!

Fear is a Special Barrier

We all face fears of some sort, and for many of us, Fear is a daily companion. Certainly for me as a writer.

I capitalize the word Fear because it is as real to me as my neighbors and friends. It stands in my path every day that I live and breathe.

It is a tall, dark, and scornful apparition. It is strong and virile. It laughs at me and puts me down. It pushes me and leaves bruises on my psyche.

I battle back because I have chosen to do so. Some days I win, and some days I lose. I am not fearless, but I have chosen the path of the warrior because I decided to be a survivor.

Steven Pressfield covers this topic and others in his book, The War Of Art. I read and re-read it whenever I feel myself losing focus, growing weak, letting my guard down. Which is more often than I like.

Fear Requires a Warrior Mentality

There is only one pathway out of this realm, and that is Death.

Higher Powers planned it that way, and we have no choice in this matter. How we live out our journey through Life is a choice that we have a say in, but not total control over.

But how we face our choices is in our control.

True: there are many outrageous events and misfortunes that befall each of us as we travel our path. Some have it better than others.

The warrior, like anyone else, must face these misfortunes. These and the Unknown are the source of our fears, the barriers to our moving forward in our lives.

The warrior is often no stronger nor wiser than others. The warrior is often of humble means and dwells in obscurity. The warrior is a survivor because he or she has a plan and skills by which to execute it.

The warrior overcomes his or her fear and journeys onward using these skills.

Overcoming Fear

Fear of something – anything – can cripple action and hobble your life. To battle and conquer fear, you must make it a real object. You must face it. Then, you imagine yourself on the other side of your fear. And then you push on through it.

It’s as hard as that. And, believe me – this can be hard! Below are some weapons to use in your battles with fear.

Curiosity

Curiosity never killed any cat that I knew. I use my curiosity often when I am on the fence about what to do or where to go. Some examples from my personal curiosities:

  • I wonder what it would be like to dance with that pretty girl over there?
  • How fast can my Boxster go?
  • Is hang-gliding really as much fun as it looks?

Once I recognize that my indecision is another form of fear, I use my curiosity as psychic fuel to push me through my fear barrier. And, by golly, it often works!

Conviction

A strongly held belief can propel you through the barrier of inaction and surprise even yourself with what you can accomplish. Here are some scenarios I’ve been a part of:

  • An inappropriately developed property threatens your neighborhood ambience. Your belief that this is wrong drives you to circulate a petition, present it to your city council, and call the local television station to give voice to your cause. You win the battle and the building work is halted.
  • You stand up to the doctors at the side of your comatose loved one and insist on the level of care she has requested in writing. You wave a copy of her living will and power of attorney in their faces; they acquiesce to her written wishes and back off.

Desperation

Desperate circumstances require a cool head, and from this a proper response will often result. There is no way to practice for this:

  • You are talking to your neighbor and she suddenly points to your house. You wheel around to see that the roof is on fire! You run to your hose and start wetting the roof down, mentally going through what you can save of your home’s contents. You shout to your neighbor to call the fire department.
  • You are hiking and fall into a ravine. After you regain consciousness, you check your body and find that you have broken your arm. It is getting dark. You unpack your survival kit and make preparations to wait out the oncoming night… 

Action

Fear is a very real and palpable force that inhabits a space in all of our lives. It is a real being for me, but I have worked out a way to battle it and occasionally win.

I face my fear.

I consider its resistance to me, and how I will get through or around it. I look at all angles and choose a strategy.

I act.

I never think about my action while I am doing it. Afterward is when I reflect on the success or failure of my action.

So: what is your fear? And how do you get past it? What special weapons did you use in your battle?

 


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Life’s a Beach…Or is It?

It was ten years before I realized why I hated going to the beach.

Life Is A Beach

Life Is A Beach

I couldn’t put my finger on it. The beach had always been a great place to go to relax. The beach was always a place of adventure. The beach was always a place to forget stuff.

Only I wasn’t forgetting one Big problem… a grief.

The Beach as Destination

Beaches are important destinations for a whole lot of us. We pick the one closest to us and call it “the beach.” Doesn’t matter what beach it actually is; we are on holiday, walkabout, or en vacance. The going there and the getting there are what’s important!

The first weekend after I got my license, I took my girl to Rhode Island for a day at the beach.

We played volleyball on the beach. We danced on the beach to “our song” and I gave her a going steady ring. I got my first speeding ticket at the beach. Despite the ticket, we still had a great time!

The Beach as Escape

Sometimes you have to leave yourself behind in order to see yourself in a newer, fresher light. Going to the beach always did that for me – it was my touchstone.

There was a period when I needed to leave the country for a host of reasons. Things had gotten crazy in our culture: the politics were hateful, the economy was in the tank, and people were getting restless and doing stupid, violent things.

I was curious about other places and how people lived elsewhere. I needed another perspective on how to live life and be happy and productive and sane and all the things I was brought up to be.

I wanted to do right, but I needed to escape and think things out a bit. My wife felt this too.  We both needed to escape for a while.

The beach always seemed like a good escape from everyday worries and cares. So we packed up our things and got jobs in a far-off island paradise surrounded by beaches.

We created careers and prospered. We sailed and dived, and climbed trees to harvest coconuts. We lived among strangers who would soon become friends.

We experienced life in another culture and learned a fresh perspective on ours. Escaping made all the difference: we found our spiritual centers, recharged our souls, and returned to the states better people. Escaping to an island of beaches had made this all possible.

The Beach as Pain

There was a time when I avoided the beach as if it were The Plague. Sure, I took my kids and watched them play with the gulls, the sand, and other children. And I took them to the rides and other attractions that parents take their kids to when at the beach.

And I packed picnic lunches and slathered sun protection on them and lifeguarded their forays into the water and drove them home while they slept. I was their dad.

I was alone. Their mom, my life companion, was dead. There was no time to reflect on this, only the vast wasteland of Time and what seemed like an eternity of pain and grief. I did the steadfast tin soldier act for my children’s sake.

I had become unplugged from my touchstone, the beach.

The Beach As Therapy

I needed time to heal, but no one in this eternal frozen moment knows that at that point.  One needs to pass through it and then look back to realize the power of unrelenting Time.

A special place helps catalyze the process. For me, that was the beach.

The beach became a source of painful memory, and then, a place of reflection. I gave it permission to heal me, and over time its waves cleansed my pain.

The Inner Beach

We cannot fully credit a place with our success any more than we can completely blame it for our failure. A location serves only as a catalyst for our inner spark to flame up and burn brightly.

For me as a child, the beach was my catalyst. All things wonderful happened at the beach. Mysteries existed at the beach. Tremendous energies were unleashed at the beach. I released my inner child because of the beach, and I grew from that.

For me, as an adult, the beach became my therapist. All things nagging, painful, potentially toxic washed away in its unrelenting waves. Even that one big, big hurt. But I first had to give it permission to enter and heal.

And one day I realized that the beach wasn’t the key; it was the feeling I got from being there. I didn’t have to be there anymore if I could just remember how I felt when I was.

I realized I had tapped into an eternal truth; I had discovered my inner beach, a place I could visit without having to travel. The words from an old song by the group Boston ran through my mind:

I close my eyes, and I slip away.

The Beach is my special place, my back to ground point. I arrive at the beach, walk on the sand, smell the salt air, and I am instantly renewed.

And, if I haven’t found the time to go there, I can just look at the beach picture hanging on my office wall. Even if only for a moment, I close my eyes, and I slip away…

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Celebrate Your Passion!

Amelia Winners 2012

Amelia Winners 2012

Check out this family in the photo. They had just won an award at the Amelia Island Concours, and they were driving to the judges stand to receive their trophy.

They piled onto their family project like it was a San Francisco trolley and celebrated their passion for restoring this classic car. What a team!

Passion Is Important

Life is a wonderful gift, and using it wisely requires lifelong focus. One thing that helps greatly is passion.

Everyone loves babies, whether they are baby lions, the puppy down the street, or
Cousin Suzy’s newest child, 10 months old and just started walking. Oh, and did she
just say “Daddy?”

A baby is filled with energy, curiosity, and a passion for life. Passion is a survival
mechanism for babies, but so too for adults.

Adults without passion, without something to invest their energy and interest in are
dead in the water. Passion is important: it’s what gets us through life, happy and
healthy. It puts a smile on our face, a wink in our eye, a swagger in our step.

Celebrating Passion

Some of the world’s greatest visual artists, such as Vincent Van Gogh, died broke.
They were obscure and under-funded. Contemporaries did not understand them,
nor did they respect their work. Several of these artists suffered from disease and
deprivation. But, did it stop them?

No. They were passionate about what they saw, and they painted or sculpted about
their vision. They were excited about what they did, and it was only a matter of time
before others would appreciate it too.

Sometimes the passion in their work got other people’s attention only after the
artist was dead and gone. Nevertheless, they were recognized for their art, admired
for their skill and dedication, sold into collections and displayed in museums.

We celebrate that passion when we visit their art, attend lectures on their work,
share our feelings with our friends about what we saw and felt. We visit the artist’s
home studio, buy tee shirts and coffee mugs with their art on them, hang posters of
their works in our homes. We can’t afford the original – but hey, we’re making our
homes prettier with their art. We’re celebrating their passion!

Passion Sells

Passion is a great people magnet because it is palpable. It’s all about emotion. Great
art just rivets you on the spot. You either get it or you don’t – it’s all about your
reaction to it.

Great music is passionate and full of emotion – you either love it because it plucks
your heart strings, or you switch channels to something else because it just doesn’t
get it for you.

Passionate people draw others into their world. Whether it’s the effusive
cheerleader who gets you to cheer for the home team. Or the juggler at the fair who
tells great jokes as he gets you to balance plates on poles, while the crowd laughs at
your feeble attempts. And you laugh too.

Passion sells like nothing else because it is canned energy. Great paintings brush in
their master’s passion. Great music inhabits special places in one’s heart. Passionate
writing grips readers’ minds and holds their attention like superglue.

Celebrating Is Important

Passion is the energy food for a long and healthy life. Passion is a life force that
enriches whomever it encounters. So why not share it?

Passion is social glue that binds us all in wonderment. When we celebrate
something we are passionate about, it draws other people in and energizes them
too. Celebrating our passions connects us to others. It’s a win-win; why not share it?

I’m passionate about classic cars and restoring them. Going to Amelia Island each
year makes me realize how many others share this passion with me. It’s like a red
thread that passes through all of us, binding us together. Each year that I go, I make
at least five new friends.

Watching those kids on the running board of their family car energized the heck out
of me and drew cheers and applause from thousands gathered at Amelia. We were
all celebrating their passion, and they were too.

So: what are you passionate about? And: have you celebrated it lately?

C’mon, now – don’t be shy! Energize us with your passion!

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