The human ability to explore the world, educate one's self, stretch one's perception and boundaries of security and comfort should be embraced as well as the emerging visceral feelings and emotions stemming from such experiences.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Enchante

Joyous tears and tingly titillation
Boisterous pulse and pounding palpitation
Alluring smiles showing sweet surrender
Though heart protects from playful pretenders
Giving way to worlds of wishful wanting
No word to dread, nor derelict, daunting
Illumination lit of love not lust
Feelings masked and moored now never a must
A fascination free and unfettered
A growing bond beautifully bettered

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Reality of Equality

The truth of it is not every person who votes sees the world in the same way. Each of us, constituting the less than 30% of citizens who took the time to vote, completes their ballots based on perceptions they have of candidates, propositions, bond measures, "questions", etc. that have been developed through a multitude of experience, facts, opinions, lies, truths, made up statistics, and media bias.

It is a wonder how we even fit into our voting booths with everything we bring with us. I don't know what most of us mean when we say we made "informed decisions" at the polls because I struggle sorting through the campaign messages funded to an extent by special interest groups, Super PACs, and rich people with agendas.

Despite working through all of the messages muddled by the reworkings of various campaign management gurus and biased media outlets, there are ideas and programs we vote on that boil down to morality, and seem should need little funding to garner support.

The state of Maryland voted on marriage equality yesterday, and I am proud to say that it passed. From what I can glean from Facebook posts, media, and friends was that it was a very controversial and close vote. I haven't seen the demographics supporting the vote, but I would hedge bets that the opposition came mostly from older voters and those who are devoutly religious, and the support came from a youthful, more progressive surge of voters. Obviously not every voter fits nicely and neatly into one of these categories, but I'm going out on a limb here...

The issue of marriage equality has been hotly debated in many states for awhile now, and I understand why. Passing these laws allowing complete equality necessitates a drastic change in what has been accepted as normal and appropriate in the lives of many throughout our country's history.

Many years ago, when racial minorities were fighting to be granted the same rights as the white majority, the opposition created arguments founded in religion in order to maintain the oppression of a particular group of people. It doesn't amaze me that there is opposition to gay marriage, but that the arguments against it follow the arguments against desegregation and equal rights almost verbatim perplexes me.

Here is the video from Springfield, Missouri pastor, Phil Snider highlighting this truth. Make sure to watch the entire video:


This is a preacher who recognizes and acknowledges the fault in the current arguments against gay rights. Despite what you believe the scripture to say or how you believe your God views gay people, you cannot deny the fact that they are people and, as citizens of this country, deserve equal rights. And if you are a "believer," it should be easy to accept that it is not for you to judge others, but only for God. Treat everyone as your savior would, and embrace them for who they are without limiting them in their pursuits of love and happiness. If faith has always been enough for you in your understanding of the world, do not change now. Rest assured your God will correct and balance whatever wrongs we mortals have perpetuated in our time on Earth.

In the effort of gays to be recognized as equals under law, the open and opinionated leaders of the community have stepped forward to peacefully seek change, but it is those who remain closeted for whom I fear the most. I have known people who fit into this category and experience severe depression, anxiety, and stress because they are scared of the persecution and judgements handed down by peers, colleagues, friends, and family. Many of these people fall into a life clouded with self-hatred because they cannot change who they are, and they realize they are far from being accepted in their churches, homes, and communities.

Equality of rights is a step towards changing public opinion. Is there still racism in our country? Of course, but have the violent acts of racism and discrimination fallen from the mainstream culture? Yes, as will the negative perceptions of gay people once legislation begins to support them as equals.

Many people of minority races gave their lives for the rights gay people are seeking. The violent images of the reactions to various civil rights protests still stain our nations history. It does not have to be this way. Let's pave the way for acceptance, and let's build on it a nation where our first move as citizens is toward improving the quality of life for each other rather than preserving exclusivity for those of us born into the most beneficial demographic.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One Unique, Unforgettable Trip

It is commonly said, "Dog is man's best friend." That always made sense to me on a very basic level when examining the relationship a dog seems to build around their owner. The owner feeds and cares for a dog in a way none other does. The dog is dependent on the owner for a number of things therefor making a positive connection a more than viable result of the relationship. Through the provision of the dog's basic needs the owner is rewarded with an unwavering loyalty and what can easily be labeled as a "best friend."

Doing his Lion king impression.
What I did not fully grasp until recently was how an owner can develop a dependence on his dog. The level of this dependence can be effectively managed to a degree by how much of his life in which an owner wishes to include his barking bro. For example, an owner who keeps his dog outside will naturally separate the related emotions and feelings derived from human relationships from those he relates to his relationship with a canine who he interacts with on a limited basis. Another owner who treats his dog in a way more closely aligned with the humans for whom he cares through means of snuggling, "conversating," socializing, and other seemingly quirky activities, will most likely blur the delineation between the different types of relationships.
He was quite popular at the parks.

I am not necessarily going to take a stance on how a dog should be raised, and what type of relationship should be groomed in the process because there are evident factors in each case that will determine how an individual chooses to interact with their pet. The differences with which people approach such a matter could be debated ad nauseam without resolution, and to me it is a rather moot point holding very little worth in debate in the first place. That is until something happens to your four legged friend.

When we take on a pet we are knowingly entering into a very limited relationship on a number of levels. A pet may "listen" to you, but he will never completely understand you, and there is very little chance they will respond intelligibly. Also, we know that no matter what kind of relationship we foster with a pet it will only last for a limited period of time as they only live for so long. It is in this dynamic that a relationship with a pet is so unique from the very first time you lay eyes on a potential four-legged companion.

Maybe we do not dwell on a pet's life expectancy when we engage in the selection process, but on some level we weigh the excitement of a new addition to the family and the memories to be created with the inevitable truth that we will have to say goodbye at some point.

No relationship in this life is guaranteed, but because of the known limitations of the time you will have with a pet, the responsibility you embrace from the day you take a particular fuzzball home goes far beyond food, walks, and baths. You understand that, barring an unfortunate turn of events, you will outlive your pet, but during the time you have you will nurture and provide in whole for your pet. Despite this, in the pit of our being we know the joy procured through the many days to come, as fleeting as they may prove to be, will far outweigh the pain actualized in their passing.

My experience was one I would have trouble fully capturing in words in a blog. My first dog, Trip, was, like most dogs, a loyal companion. What distinguished Trip from the other canines I have encountered was his unique ability to calm your soul with a unabashed joy and excitement, draw you in with his expressive eyes, and steal your heart within moments of meeting him. Since his passing, a number of people have reminded me of the fear of or distaste in dogs they once harbored. They had somewhat different stories, but they were all connected by the bond they made with Trip.


Trip had it all. He was a rugged explorer, a goofy klutz, a superior snuggler, and a loyal buddy. People have recently mentioned how lucky he was to have had me as an owner, but I can't help but look at it the other way around. It wasn't about what I was able to do for him. It was about what he did for me on a daily basis. This may sound melodramatic, but their are specific points in my life when I could not have imagined where I would have been without him. I am not the same person I would have been had I not had that dog in my life, and it is definitely all for the better.

A unique relationship indeed, from start to finish. One I may enter into once again down the road. For now, though, I will bathe in the warmth of the glow gleaned from a seemingly endless store of memories of the adventures I had with Trip.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Want You to Take Over Control...

As summer draws to a conclusion once again I am faced with a familiar scene. Sun-bleached hair and and tanned brown skin still smell of salt and ocean air as I step onto Madison High School's campus.

Two dueling sides of my psyche clash in order to attain complete control of mind and body. The heart, both pumping life's blood throughout my body toward the extremities and making emotional and passionate appeals to my conscious thought, embraces and thrives on freethought, adventure, and desire, but maybe most importantly love. A love that connects all of us, yes, but more so in that it gives us comfort in our purposes in life.

It is the American way to earn a structured position of employment in order to provide for yourself and those directly connected to you. It is also the American way to push through such a life gridded and laid out by the constructs of the 9-5 work day. Many of us spend time and energy silencing the noise fighting for voice in your stream of consciousness. The noise that if paid any attention, would drive us to do something crazy, something drastic, something that does not fit in our neatly created world.

The brain can be found at the center of this struggle to silence the noise in weighing options, calculating, predicting and influencing your actions. Constricting freedoms through restrictive interpretations of what is necessary in order to exist and prosper in life, the brain works in order to support you in your drive to achieve a persona, in the safest way possible, that will be perceived by the masses as successful.

Once this successful persona is developed , the brain becomes hyper-aware of conceivable threats and further separates the decision making process from the heart. The heart, driven by its passion, seems to hold no connection to any calculated processes. The brain, knowing what is best for continued success and prosperity, may allow the heart to make minor contributions, but mostly it maintains its stance as "knowing best."

Now, a life fueled by an uninhibited heart may be one of reckless abandon ultimately ending in a fireworks display the most gaudy of US Independence celebrations would envy, but to what extent do we allow our brains to drive us through our world and the decisions to be made. What balance between the two warring factions would both nurture a love and passion for what you do and how it is accomplished and also provide enough calculated maneuvers to ensure basic needs are met?

What do we call this balance? Calculated risk? What is to be made of a meshing of two seemingly opposite forces? Are we doomed to pick one of three lives? Are we driven by pure passion and act directly from the heart with little to know thought as to the consequences? Are we to sit and weigh and measure every little decision and determine the safest and most beneficial path to take culminating in drab life with little room for emotional expression? Or, in the face of frustration and stress, are we destined to search for a harmonious balance between the two that may not even exist?

The leaders of this world have made a choice for themselves. Many have picked different avenues and made each one of them work, but at what expense? These questions are nothing new, and the answers are determined by an individual's level of comfort in his or her decisions, but, in a not so veiled attempt to stick up for the heart, I would ask one question: in a world filled with the unpredictability that ours is accustomed to, how calculated can you possibly be in making almost any decision?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rim 2 Rim 2 Rim - Part II

It has been over 2 years since my last double crossing of the Grand Canyon. The first attempt resulted in a time just under the 24 hr mark. I remember being thrilled with this accomplishment and satisfied with our efforts, but as time tends to erode the landscape of our memories so too does it allow the roots of ever growing questions to take hold in the conscious working their way toward the very change in perspective leading to the unthinkable.

How could we have approached the hike differently? Did it really hurt that much? How could I have managed my diabetes more efficiently? Could we have cut out or at least shortened our breaks? How did the season help or hurt us in our pursuit? Many other questions regarding our hike have filtered through my brain over the course of the last couple years, but there was none more vexing, none more compelling than, "Could we have done it faster?"

Each time I asked myself this seemingly simple question I had one and only one response... YES!

This summer, despite the warnings and suggestions to pick almost any other time to attempt this, we will be making another attempt at the crossing, but this time with the goal of going sub 20.

The plan is to arrive at the canyon on July 29th and begin at 2pm the following day. The timing is crucial as temps at the base of the canyon can climb into the 100s during midday. It will be a warm trek, so attention to hydration will be imperative.

The team will consist of two health challenged individuals battling our own distinct and separate obstacles. I feel confident in my approach in taking into consideration what I learned on the North Rim last time and making sure that I test more often.

The only missing piece at this point is the conditioning aspect. I have recently made the push to rededicate myself to training, so as we approach our departure, I am certain I will be in a much more appropriate state of mind and body.

The question I received from friends and family most the last time I embarked on this adventure was a resounding "WHY?" The answer can be complicated, but the easy route is blaming it on who I am, and who I have been for awhile.

Dating back to at least the elementary school I have thrived in situations where I have been doubted or told I could not succeed. I feed off the challenge. I think Moliere said it simply enough, "The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe there is anyone out there doubting me necessarily, but I love the feeling generated from pushing myself up, over or through an obstacle to experience tangible limits. For me, there doesn't need to be a person doubting me anymore. Since I have been living with Type I Diabetes for a little over 5 years, I constantly feel I have this stigma to overcome. Everyday I focus on what I can do despite having the disease while never paying mind to any conceived resulting constraints.