On scars

Scars. We all have them; at least I think we all do. They can be cool, interesting. They can also be horrifying. The scars do not necessarily define us, but they can help explain us. They are like a roadmap, an index of our experiences, good and bad. They are remembrances of times when we were brave or foolish, daring or careless. Of things we have done, or had done to us. Sometimes we learn from them. Sometimes we use them to teach others. And sometimes we do neither. Some wear their scars as a badge of honor, of what they have endured or accomplished. Some hide their scars in shame, finding the memory of their pain as sharp as the moment it occurred. And sometimes, sometimes the scars fade as does the memory, but somewhere deep inside us they are still there. For better or worse, they remain a part of us. 

Perspective: Know Your Audience

I was at the chiropractor yesterday and in the waiting room the sound system started playing Stand By Me. Catchy tune. It also brings other things to mind. So, I turn to the receptionist and ask, “You know that kid from Stand By Me…?” I didn’t even get the full question out before she responded. “I don’t know, is that an old movie?” Old movie? It doesn’t seem like that old of a movie to me. But I suppose by many standards it is. It came out in 1986, which is getting close to 3 decades away. So I try again. “You know… Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman.” Her eyes light up a bit. “Wil Wheaton, I know that name.. let me think.” A bit of a pause. “He’s the guy from the Big Bang Theory!”

“Yes. Yes he is…” I suppose there is an entire modern audience that only knows Wil for his evil alter ego. “He’s the nemesis!” she adds helpfully. But she didn’t fully grasp the Why behind it. Perhaps she’s a bit younger. Perhaps sci-fi and ST:TNG were not part of her formative years. But even before that show that eventually gave inspiration for Wil to play his darker side, he had other great roles.

Stand By Me, is probably one of the best known, but I fondly remember some of his smaller roles. There was a TV movie, “The Defiant Ones” where a young Wil protects his land and his Ma from a pair of escaped convicts looking for a hideout and a place to break their shackles. I discovered last year he was one of the voices in Secret of Nimh (as was Shannen Doherty) along with many veteran actors. He apparently was Louis’ Friend in The Last Star Fighter (I’d have to see it again). And as I relayed this story to a co-worker I was reminded, “He was in Toy Soldiers, right?” “Yeah, I think he was.” “He was the kid that got killed, right?” “Yes, yes I suppose he was.”

But childhood roles aside, the man has kept active in his chosen career. Skimming through the IMDB, I’ll admit I haven’t seen many of the projects he’s been on (he was on the reboot of Love Boat??) but a lot of them sound interesting (okay, maybe not the Love Boat one). He’s also a very active writer. I still reflect back from time to time on his article in VTU magazine, The Beige Tax. He’s been an active blogger since before blogging was really a thing (WilWheaton.net), and honestly, he’s one of the few people I follow on twitter because, well, he’s fairly entertaining and occasionally insightful. Heck I read more of my Twitter feed than my Facebook feed these days.

All this is to say, Wil is much more than “The guy from Big Bang Theory”, but he is that as well, I suppose. Sometimes I’m just surprised about other people’s perspectives. Of course, ask me something about sports and I’ll probably stare blankly back at you as well. =P

W.C.

On the Train (travels in Sept 2012)

Met a friendly couple from England at breakfast this morning.  They’re traveling up the coast to Seattle.  They’re from south of London somewhere, maybe Crawley.  I didn’t catch the name but that is one that shows on the map, so it will suffice for now.  Traveling by train can be quite interesting.  Actually, any traveling can be interesting if you let it, but traveling by train allows one the time to sit back and take in the scenery and people around you.  Air travel is more for those in a hurry to get to their destination.  They wait in lines, complain about delays, and cram themselves into a tube to be hurdled through the sky on a wing and a prayer.  It can be efficient, but isn’t what I’d consider pleasant.  A long drive in a car offers more freedom, being the captain of your own destination, but for one who travels alone it can be exhausting.  Mile after mile can drag on no matter how good the music you select is.

No, the train, if you have the time to travel and the flexibility to follow their schedule, is a relaxing way to travel.  Maybe not for sleeping, if you’re as tall as I am, but overall relaxing.  As I was saying, there are interesting people to meet on trains.  Walking out to breakfast I spotted someone in a light grey suit and matching grey suede top hat.  Not your typical fashion these days.  Not what I would think one would want through the wee hours of the night trying to catch some shuteye.  Most of the occupants were dressed similar to me, sweats and a sweatshirt.  I changed before breakfast.  Better to feel refreshed.

We didn’t talk that much at breakfast.  Our silence was interrupted from the far end of the dining car by a man shouting “Coffee! Coffee!” at the waitress, as if the world would end without it, or at least that his morning couldn’t begin.  She reassured him he was not forgotten, but I realize that not everyone appreciates an easy laid back breakfast.  Other than that, breakfast was uneventful.

Afterwards, heading back to my seat, I passed Top Hat again.  Up and moving, probably towards food.  As we passed I glanced back, taking in the ensemble.  I was a bit surprised, really.  With the top hat, and vest (or was it a coat), I was not expecting it to be complimented with a pair of ass-less chaps.  Even still, as I type this, I find my head shaking in wonder.

Interesting stories I’m sure, and as I said, interesting people on trains.

Dreaming Again:

I was waiting upstairs, looking for something. I walked from room to room, glancing in and moving on. I stopped at the room at the top of the stairs. There in the bed, covers pulled up neatly to its neck the body waited. It had been dead for some time. It was shriveled up like a raisin. A dry husk. If it had wrappings I would call it a mummy, but it didn’t. I stood there, leaning on the door frame, wondering. Would this one rise up as well, or was it too far gone? Too removed from the life that once moved those limbs? I think its time had long passed.

A noise drew my attention away and I turned towards the the stairs. In the main room a zombie shuffled by. I came down the stairs slowly, passing behind it and turning to check the kitchen. Empty. I passed the zombie again, sliding past it as we crossed through the doorway. Another shuffled in the corner of the front room.

Over to the left, sitting at a writing table in the den, K.D. looked up at me. “As long as you don’t startle them, they won’t attack.” he said.

I nodded, saying nothing. It seemed somehow normal having the undead wandering the house. I opened the front door. The porch looked out over a very tidy suburban America. I looked like some place you might see in Back to the Future, or Leave It to Beaver. It was modern, but too clean. Too much how Hollywood might envision a neighborhood. Almost like the Truman Show. I walked out the path to the street. No one was around. It was quiet. At the far end of the very straight street I saw them. A pair of runners, bounding forward. Those won’t be as peaceful as the ones in the house. Those mean to attack. I moved with some urgency, back inside, closing the door behind me. We didn’t really have anything to bar it with, so I settled on locking the deadbolt. I knew it should be enough. The wandering one was back down the hall, towards the kitchen. The other in the corner didn’t move. K.D. looked up at me again and said, “Just don’t startle them.”

As absurd as it sounds, I felt pretty sure we were going to be okay.

Introspection: Thoughts on Time

Time to reboot back to what is important & clear away the distractions.  Clean out the clutter & silence the noise.  Wipe the slate clean… and any other clichéd metaphor.

Somewhere along the way we lost sight, not only of our goal but of the path itself.  Dreams.  Plans.  “Maybe Someday”s.  All wandered aside.  Not really pushed, or willfully abandoned, just neglected.  Collecting dust, fading away until they were eventually forgotten.  That happens sometimes, with things, dreams, even people.  Until one day you blink and ask… “Whatever happened to _____?”  It’s a mystery, sometimes… …other time you’ve just grown beyond it.

Life has a certain hustle & bustle to it.  A current, or tide, that sweeps along.  It is easier to just let it flow and hope you end up where you want to be, but real progress requires effort.  A struggle.  It can seem easy for some, for others as you watch them passing by, but it is still work.  To better one’s life, one’s self, or the world around them requires effort.

It is the times that I stopped swimming, when I let the current whisk me along, those are the times that I felt like I was moving, but it was an illusion.  The eddies & pools of life seem to switch back on each other, and when you don’t make an effort to push ahead, you can find yourself back where you started…

… if not further behind.

So… what is important?

?

Art, creation… ideas.

Stability, finances… money.

Health, friendship… love.

 

So much of it, time.  Time.  The only real and finite resource we have.  Money seems tangible, but it is only an idea.  An agreed upon value and even that fluctuates.  We are all led to believe we need so much money.  So much of the things it can buy.  But we can’t buy time.  Not really, not yet.  We can only spend it.  We each have our own personal, finite limit of time.  But here’s the kicker, we don’t know just how much time that is.  We have guesses, estimations based on our health, family history & lifestyle.  Even the areas we choose to live & work, all of those surely factor in to that unknown duration that is ‘our time’, but no one knows for sure.

So what are you doing with your limited time?  Spending it on something you find important?  Or to have value?  You’re the judge of that, ultimately.  Even relaxation and downtime have value.

But consider this…

When you get to the end of you time…

 

What matters most to you?

Detached in the woods (mostly fiction).

My first memory of seeing a dead body was at a funeral.  I’m unsure of my age at the time, perhaps four or five, but I remember how I felt.  Detached, mainly, as if the events happening around me had no significance in my life.  I suppose they really didn’t.

It was the funeral of a great aunt, or a great-great aunt.  I remember sitting in the church, one that was not familiar to me.  There was no one talking, not that I recall.  I am sure the organ was playing.  One by one, or sometimes in small groups, the adults would walk to the front, pause at the casket, and eventually take their seats.  There was a small line.  I remember my mother asking if I wanted to go forward as well.  I nodded yes, more out of curiosity I expect.  I didn’t really know this aunt.  Even today, I only have the faintest images of her life before she died.  We walked forward, and there she was, appearing as if asleep.  That’s how I saw her.  That’s how I knew her.  Nothing had really changed to me.  I felt detached from the whole situation.  I’ve avoided funerals ever since.

I had a similar feeling that day I was walking in the woods.  I had come into a clearing, and there it was ahead of me.  A body.  Not one I knew.  Not one I was familiar with.  And I felt disconnected.  Oh, intellectually, I thought I should be horrified.  Every cultural norm from literature to cinema told me that such a discovery should illicit a big reaction, but I had none.  Upon closer inspection, the scene became more disturbing.  The body was missing most of its head.  It was otherwise intact.  Nearby, strewn on the ground, were another set of limbs.  No body to be found.  At least two had died here, and I could only imagine how.  Or, to be more honest, I tried not to imagine how.  Perhaps it was shock.  Perhaps it was the minds defense, but I felt only disconnected from the entire situation.  I touched nothing.  I moved on.  And a short time later found myself back at the clearing, as if to confirm it was not some waking dream.  I can’t even call it a nightmare.  That would be dishonest.  It was just an event.  An event that I had no connection to in my life, except that I happened to stumble across it and witness the aftermath.  And that was how I left it.

Random thoughts and alliteration

Into the watching waves the wind wistfully wanders.

Foam frequently froths forward, following friendly flights of fancy.

Sand screams sounds of scorn and sincerity savors silence.

Peace, pleasure and pompous propensity propagates profundity.