Reading and writing are crucial to maintaining a healthy brain. Even a feeble brain can be sustained by both or even one activity. But higher thought surely requires it, and being emotionally level and able to cope with living as a human among other humans at this time on planet Earth should make it an everyday exercise.
I read and write a lot. Consume, process, sort away, rearrange, connect different lines of thought to another and spit out in some comprehensible linear way, and the goal is always to regurgitate it in an easier to comprehend and more thoughtful if not colorful way. The latter being more to do with liking the language than clear robotic communication and having somewhat the nature of an artist within.
Creativity is fun. It helps keep whoever reads it engaged as well, hopefully, to keep reading to absorb the final thought and consume it the way just outlaid. Sometimes on different, artistic, abstract levels for the more astute at playing with mentally, if discovered. If not, the material should still be enough to stand on its own two feet, or whichever meter is prescribed by the author, iambic pentameter or otherwise.
I used to write wherever. But lately, I’ve been trying to keep it narrowed down to this website, for, if nothing else, my daughter to one day read and try to get a glimpse of how her old man thought and what he was about. I’m journaling in a sense.
There naturally, hopefully, should be a lot of material at hand, as my feeble brain rarely shuts off entirely. She’ll remember what she can, but now at age three, probably not much from these early years, unfortunately. I can’t remember much now before age five, which is just as well from what I’ve been told. I wish I could remember more of my late mother, but what I do remember and what photos I have are all positive and serve well enough I suppose. My daughter will have copious media at hand – more than ever considered possible when I was her age – to pore through whenever she has a few free years by the time I’m all done with it. Which is hopefully later than sooner. We never know when our time is up, so I’m trying to get it all preserved now, lest it is washed away by the sands of time as my childhood has largely been. I can still rehash hat I remember of it here or there, but the hard artifacts become increasingly rare. Especially as much as I have had to move around over my life. Each move removes part of what I was before, I’ve discovered, and lately, in very, very large parts to which there seems to be a life not even my own.
So in that spirit, I write down a lot of seemingly incoherent thoughts, opinions, perspectives, memories or whatever I think may be of some value to someone one day. No promise has ever been made, of course, My audience has never been set really, except for a few times when I have been made by a court of law to remove my thoughts, to spare a person once intimate with me her ample specific embarrassments and misdeeds she chooses to live her life to constantly hide. But they will emerge, as they always do, usually in the most inopportune moments, for the ones most carefully shielded to be presented to. Karma, in most ways. As I often explain, words can’t cover up our actions, and our actions are what create perceptions in the long run. The truth always wins, even if it takes a long time in human years to emerge. Judgments take care of themselves, and they aren’t for us as mortals to dictate. As painted on many sidewalk preachers’ sandwich boards and loonies’ van sides. Crazy doesn’t always mean wrong.
Writing is a cathartic exercise, which soothes the soul, as much as playing an instrument or painting a picture does. And the more competent one becomes at each endeavor, the more fulfilling it becomes. And not that painting or playing an instrument isn’t a form of communication on an artistic level, like poetry and well-written verse is, written words are vital to communicating feeling, thought, desire, regret, goals, or anything else we have passed through our grey matter, and the competency with which we’re able is equally as important. It’s why babies cry. It’s why the illiterate burst into outrage. It’s why criminals defeat themselves. Not being able to communicate our thoughts coherently leads to emotional havoc. Having a vocabulary and being able to use it effortlessly leads to a viscous ability to explain ourselves. And that eases frustration. I make no small effort to communicate to my daughter on her level and bring her up to a more mature communication level because it affords her the ability to communicate her thoughts, need and wants without a temper tantrum. I don’t use baby talk. I speak to her as I speak to an adult. She’s smart enough to know what I mean, and when doesn’t understand, she’s smart enough to ask me to reword and explain a term I use or phrase that is confusing. And we move on. It works incredibly well. I never have to discipline my daughter, because she doesn’t act out in emotional turmoil, spurned on by the frustration of not being able to communicate to me what she needs or wants, and what I, in turn, communicate to her. And I explain to her that fact, of what is going on when we do that, which she understands. She knows being fussy isn’t going to get her what she wants. Communication will. Many adults never figure this out their whole angry, problematic, negative lives.
So, aside from being a cathartic resource for my child to reference, a tool to hone my communication skills, and a fun, fulfilling endeavor, it also helps pay the bills. Not everyone can communicate well, as I’ve just covered to some degree. People have a hard time putting a price on effective, persuasive communication, but ask anyone in business or law, and they’ll tell you it’s one of the most, if not the most valuable skill to have. Ironically, it’s the most underpaid and underutilized because it’s so abstract and hard to nail down in a measurable way like mathematics or statistics or programming. Input is easily converted to output with stable metrics, but not always so with communication. It’s too dynamic, which is why it’s so powerful.
I have pages and pages of writing I never publish here or anywhere for that matter. I and most everyone else I presume consider it mostly blather. Sometimes I come back and edit what I wrote because I made a grammatical mistake or I have something that will add value to the original. But usually, once I write something I don’t revisit it unless someone makes a reference to it, which occasionally happens.
I used to write at Medium(and I have what I post here auto-sent over to musgrove.blog, which is hosted by Medium for me for free, along with a few other domains. They used to do that but don’t any longer. Except for people who pay for it and the few that are grandfathered in like me.) for no real reason other than the ease and hipness of it. Which are no real reasons. But here I own my words and control the content. That’s not true anywhere else on the web. I’ve been censored on Medium before because the editors didn’t agree with my thought if you can believe that. It’s true. Someone actually read it (a robot probably flagged it, to be more accurate) and then some lefties in San Francisco said I was over the line and zapped my content from the world. Same with a judge zapping my content and censoring it. Freedom of speech isn’t exactly what people in America think it is. As long as you don’t shine light onto people with personal shortcomings to hide, then feel free to write away. So writing to keep others honest shouldn’t be a goal, mind you. But I do write to keep myself honest and accountable, so there’s that as well. Write down your goals and plans, and what you know you should do, and you’re more likely to do them. Talk is cheap. Writing is more expensive because it often leads to action. The reason the pen is mightier than the sword is that it incites people to use a sword. Most people only talk about swords but write what your plans are to do with a sword and then see what happens.
Also “sword” is “words” misspelled.
Life Lesson Five
Take The High Road. You’ll thank yourself later.
People will eventually and more and more often, find themselves in situations where emotions and stakes are high and you’re in a position to do two things. Continue to engage with your adversary as they try to drag you down the low road into the gutter, or walk upwards and way from them politely and with humility and as much grace as you can muster. It’s harder than it should be sometimes, but in the end, it’s always worth it. There is nothing to gain by going low, and a lot to lose, which will be difficult to regain in time. Often it’s respect, peace of mind, and dignity which takes time and effort to build. Not to mention respect and dignity are traits that are relative to the people you choose to associate with or aspire to.
That said, taking the high road is more for personal betterment than something that should be done to impress or even require an audience. It has to do with integrity, which is how you carry yourself and make decisions when no one is around, and you know you are choosing the right path versus the wrong one. Always take the right path, and you’ll have nothing to regret or worry about. There should be reasonable and justifiable reasons for choosing the right path of course, should anyone ever ask. No one should, but if you can’t defend the reason for making the choice made with solid, prudent, sound, intelligent, honest, truth-based responses, then you may want to sleep on it some more or give it some more time before responding or deciding. As you get older, your gut will be able to tell you what’s right a lot of the time, but your gut should always have reasons you can write down to support it.
Life Lesson One
Police are good.
I’m starting things off in no particular order, but this first being a lesson I found myself teaching Cecelia the other day when playing Legos.
We have no lack of legos and Lego people around here, and we enact play situations by building buildings, restaurants, hospitals, playgrounds, or whatever is needed in our Lego village to create a world for our 100+ actors and they can live out their imaginary lives, directed and put into play by my daughter Cecelia.
We have a bucket full of Lego people of all sorts of professions and walks of life, some being obvious as to what gender and role they are, and others not so much. But we do have a policeman. And he was called upon the other day for help.
This made me pause and ask Cecelia what do Policemen do? Her answer, as I suspected, and pass no judgment on, was a typical one, but an incorrect one, and one that should be learned now. I’ve asked some adults related to her the same question and gotten the same ignorant answer. So I wanted to make sure she was provided the correct information so she could approach police correctly and without doubt as to what their purpose is.
Her answer was: “To put people in jail.” which is wrong on every level. Our society today has no small number of adults who believe the same thing. Of course, it firstly depends on whose side of the law you’re on. But even then, that’s a technically incorrect answer.
Judges and the judicial system decide who and for how long people are incarcerated. Not police. And that’s only part of their jobs. This is all supposed to be taught in school and from parents, but the ball has been dropped hard and by many people for a long time on this area, as well as a lot of very serious others that used to exist. That’s why I’m writing this now for my child.
But police exist, in America at least, to help, serve and protect our citizens, and it should be pointed out, usually not asking for a fair amount in exchange a lot of the time, depending on the precinct.
I have friends who were, and still are, police. We have a lot of them in America, and need them. And when you have so many individuals in such a huge group that has to be managed so wildly in scale and scope and style across this land, you are going to have some pop up that aren’t there for the right reasons, some that do their jobs better than others, and some that do it all for reasons all their own. It’s usually a thankless job, and depending who is in the White House, it can even make your job overly deadly and reviled, which isn’t the best perspective to have on people that are just that: people, who stake their lives on protecting strangers from harm day in and day our for no or little thanks or pay or respect in some circumstances.
But when someone has a problem, or trouble comes calling, the first thing they do is call the police to help. And they respond, to manage the situation as they’ve been trained. They are there because they want to help, and have a job to do which is a job you can’t provide yourself, on your own. They show up when trouble is brewing, not to make trouble. And the people that see them as adversaries see them that way because they are on the wrong side of the law. Simple as that. Same as firefighters and doctors and nurses. They are around to help solve your problems when they become out of your control. That’s why we have police.
Andy Griffith was a Sherrif and is more like I perceive the police in general. The person I found myself in trouble with growing up all the time ended up becoming a Sherrif’s deputy. Police are humans, and they want to help. They aren’t infallible, just as I or you aren’t. And maybe out of the hundreds of thousands of officers that are out there, there are a few that aren’t the best people, just as in any large group of any people. But to consider them adversarial means you have been raised on the wrong side of the law. And if you have a problem with them, it usually means you did something wrong, otherwise they usually wouldn’t be there. But they do come around to help when called just as much as when they’re called to intervene. They have hard jobs to do, so the best thing to do is respect that, understand that and appreciate the fact they keep peace and try to keep you and me safe from harm.
Life Lesson Four
Do some mile-walking first
Similar to previous lessons but entirely different, is what to do when it comes time to judge people, and circumstances when making decisions.
No one should go around being judgemental, but there are times when it’s necessary in order to size up things and make choices. Usually, three options should be made: The best possible outcome, the most likely outcome, and the worst outcome. You want to be prepared for all three so that you’ll have options. You always want to have options, and the worst place to find yourself is painted into a corner. Preparation is key to this. It involves training your self to think differently sometimes, but it’s for the best. Such as attacking the hardest problems first, acting quickly so as not to lose out, and asking yourself “if not now, when?”
Everyone in this world is facing a crisis of some type. It might not be a crisis to you, but in scope and scale to them, it certainly is. Crises are relevant to the people who find themselves having to manage them, and what their experience and skill level is handling such problems. As you get older, you go through growing exercises that aren’t fun at all, but they make you stronger and better suited to make hard decisions. The right decisions. They mettle your steel in other words.
I’ve had to handle some hard-core situations, to me. And later I learn about someone else that has just had to handle even worse situations than I did, which helps keep things in perspective. Everyone is fighting some type of personal battle at all times, and you have to keep that in mind. That might be an addiction, going through a divorce, being indicted on criminal charges by people you once trusted and held closely, or whatever. What seems simple to one person might seem insurmountable to another. The case is different for every single person on Earth, and when you consider there are over 7 billion people on Earth right now, that’s a lot of worry and problems at once.
But until you’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes, you really don’t have the ability to judge them. People end up homeless for circumstances that may or may not be out of their control, but you have to consider that almost no one strives to wind up in that situation. However, it happens. That doesn’t make them a bad person, or a good person, or any type of person, other than one who may need a helping hand. Everyone needs help at some point in life, and to declare that you don’t can’t possibly be true. No one has survived any length of time on this planet without the help of another person at some point. And that doesn’t make anyone weaker or stronger than the other, it just means someone was thankfully around to help when needed. Asking for that help is something people have a hard time doing, but that might be another post. That tends to have to do with humility, pride, embarrassment, or other factors, but nothing so superficial should put a person in a place they could have avoided.
Humans are full of flaws. One big one is being able to even admit that. But once you accept the fact that no one is perfect and humility is a characteristic to be sought and respected, it makes life easier.
Life Lesson Three
Sleep on it.
This lesson has to do with standards, which you yourself set. Don’t let others set them for you or tell you what they should be. That said, set them higher than you believe you can achieve but are realistically attainable. That’s the trick. Only you will know where your horizon lies, and you have to gauge that yourself with accurate measuring tools, markers and milestones. This is where experience and help from experienced individuals such as parents can be useful. Learn from their mistakes and let them help with setting your sights on target.
When confronted with a decision that’s serious and has meaningful, long-lasting implications and consequences, if you can, give yourself some time to process it. Often your first thought is the right one, but better to be sure by evaluating the choices and the possible outcomes and consequences before making these types of decisions. These often involve others that aren’t even aware they’re in your radius of thought and have ripple effects that have to be contemplated thoroughly. We are in a time now where mind-mapping software can be helpful, to ensure all outcomes are taken into account and plan out what might happen in best most-likely- and worst case scenarios. Doing this arduous, rigorous, but necessary task will help remove regretful decisions later and eliminate hurting others that might not even be involved.
I used to do crossword puzzles a lot. The NYT in particular, which I recommend for building a nice vocabulary and learning some trivia and stretching your brain some, but overall the NYT should be regarded as mostly birdcage liner. One thing I found helpful to complete them was to walk away for a while and take a walk with a dog and get some fresh air and exercise. When I returned to the puzzle, I often found I could solve the remaining boxes with a refreshed perspective. That same is true with small and big problems that arise in life. Walk away for a while and regroup if possible.