Creatives

Upon witnessing the thousand upon thousand upon thousand of marvelous, brilliant, and novel flowers and plants during Jenni’s morning constitutional; it is hard to argue that there isn’t something profound influencing our world. This something has a broad canvas and phenomenal palette upon which to design and express.

I call these something’s Creatives. Not the adjective creative, but the organic, the essential, and the vital spark igniting intelligence and the miraculous diversity called Life.

For example:

 

The Dead’s Etiquette: Returning To Sender

Self-designed stamp for the return of mail to sender.
Self-designed stamp for the return of mail to sender.

Emily Post let me down. Abby offered a half smile. The Post Office just stared at me.

My question was always the same: “At what point can I stop stamping to return my deceased brother’s mail?

Just last week he received a stack of mail three inches high! Perhaps they’re thinking of him as Deadbeat rather than Dead.

He died four months ago at which time I rented a P.O. Box in my neighborhood and had his mail forwarded to it. I designed the “return deceased” stamp. And each step was more painful than the last. With each envelope I was reminded that at some point in my recent past my brother for 58 years disappeared. Poof! Extracted like a tooth, and like an extracted tooth a hole remained reminding me that something had occupied that hole, something I took for granted as permanent.

I still cry when I’m reminded that he’ll never return as though he was exploring the far reaches of dense jungle. And with each damned envelope which I mannerly stamp “Addressee Deceased,” I ache with longing which tumbles to tears then swells to a contemptible bitterness toward companies which mechanically spit out statements completely void of sympathy or understanding or humanity.

I think it’s time to treat their mail like my best friend brother was treated: simply disappear.

There’s Cold and then there’s Cold!

THERE’S COLD . . .

001-pondsCold cream, the cold shoulder, cold as ice, having a cold, Cold War, stone-cold dead, cold sores, knocked-out cold, cold (sexual disinterest), cold feet, cold turkey, cold water man (a Scot that doesn’t drink alcohol), cold cuts, cold storage, catch a cold, “…has a cold…” (politician, diplomat, or executive is fired), cold air, quit cold (die suddenly), cold fish, cold snap, cold as a cucumber, “blood runs cold” (profound apathy for others), cold blood, cold storage, cold cereal, cold sweat, cold front, cold comfort, “cold hands, warm heart” (lovey-dovey idiom), “cold, hard cash” (nothing’ but greenbacks003-coldone (US currency printed in green on one side starting in 1862; aka “Legal Tender”)), “feed a cold and starve a fever” (axiom first used in 1574 as a remedy for fever), “a cold one” (euphemism describing an ice-cold beer), “… she’s a cold one (or, cold tart)”, (disparaging expression used by a refuted suitor when describing a woman disinterested in his unmannerly advances), “cold as a witches bosom [sic]” (vague expression of “cold” in varying contexts), cold, hard facts (1. Empirical Data generally used in the sciences for unquestionable facts; 2. My mother’s off-handed remark whenever I 004-coldduck1was dumped by a girl (implying “. . . silly boy, you’ll never get a girl so face the facts . . .”)), cold case (police investigation which remains unsolvable after exhausting every lead), cold plate (recipes served cold), cold duck (originally invented in Detroit in 1937 and was based on a German legend. The recipe calls for one part Mosel wine, one part Rhine wine with one part of Champagne,002-coldshwr2 seasoned with lemons and balm mint.), knocked cold, leave out in the cold, out cold (unconscious, intoxicated, sound asleep), stop cold, take a cold shower (an often futile attempt to quell the hormones associated with lust). 

AND THEN THERE’S COLD . . .

004-below01“Cold enough for you?” I kept an eye on my thermometer all yesterday. The temperature remained steady at -13º F which coincidently is the precise temperature of ice cream. I’ve lived in the Northern Hemisphere all my life, so I’m very familiar with the winter season: days are shorter, sun remains low on the horizon, a cloudy and snowy day is likely to be warmer than a clear day (clouds capture heat and the sun’s too low on the horizon to radiate warmth added by clear skies which allows ground heat to rise upwards), all dogs love snow, we all wish for a “White Christmas.”

006-lifebelow0“If you don’t cover your ears and nose they’ll be the first to freeze, next will be your fingers and your toes,” At -13º F frostbite can begin immediately to susceptible parts of the body such as: tip or whole nose, ear lobes, fingers, and toes.  Common warning signs include: progressing numbness and a loss of sensitivity to touch. The affected area will also tingle or feel as if it is burning. As the condition worsens, the pain begins to fade or eventually disappear. Frostnip (which I experienced only yesterday on my right hand)) is a superficial freezing of the outer layer of the skin which turns white as blood circulation decreases, then stings, and becomes quite painful. Frostnip can occur during vigorous outdoor activity and you may not be aware of it until you stop exercising. 

001-sledding2“Come in from the cold!” was a chorus sung ritually during winter by my aunt that babysat for us. She knew what was coming when I refused to wear the childish, insulated, and nylon snow pants. So she kept vigil at the window which overlooked the school yard for that first warning sign of a child wearing cotton pants and sliding and falling into drifts of snow. I never noticed that my wet pants quickly yielded to the cold. Suddenly my bottom half was encased in ice which would stick to my legs. Every step home felt like pen knives were being poked into my legs, my bottom, and my feet. When I stepped into the house and started to undress my aunt hurried to stop me, then quickly placed me right in front of the heat register and turned up the heat. Then she handed me a cup of hot cocoa saying, “Drink that cocoa slowly because as those pants begin to melt, so will you. And honey, you ain’t felt anything that hurts like that!” Then over her shoulder as she walked away, “And tomorrow those snow pants won’t look so childish!”

001-girlwithdog1 “It’ll be a cold day in hell!” before I cross the street to schmooze. The other night I saw a leggy woman walking an equally leggy dog wearing a unitard (the long-legged dog was wearing it not the leggy walker, who’d resemble an Olympic swimmer languidly strolling down a snowy sidewalk on a blustery eve). I and my dog crossed the street beneath the guise of doggy introductions. After they’d had their bouts of butt-ery I finally asked the woman, “what on earth is your dog wearing?” Her Tsk, followed by the 180 degree hair toss followed by a voluminous, lung-filling sigh told me that our humorous repartee was chilly when her answer was dipped in the patronizing tone fondue, “Why, it’s a Unitard, of course; cold dogs are a reality. They’re all wearing them in Lincoln Park. But I suppose way up here in . . . in Roger’s Park . . . “ to which I interjected, “Lady, are you lost? This is Edgewater where, believe it or not, our dogs wear fur coats in winter and in summer we relish our hot dogs!”

Life: It’s All Yours.

  This post, its contents, and its author are not nor pretending to be healthcare professionals giving advice or suggesting treatment for health issues. 
For help with your health you must see a healthcare professional.

If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’re alive like I am, but you didn’t have a motive like I had, to reflect on what does it mean to be alive while the Life of my brother simply floated away like a freed balloon.  Synonyms for alive include methodical references like: aware, cooperative, and sensible. On the other hand, synonyms for Life imply inventive and daring like: animated, vital, and dynamic.

living1I’m definitely alive but am I Living? Living Life now? Living an animated, capricious, passionate, dynamic, vital, and creative Life? Living Life as though I was purposeful rather than predestinedOr has Life as an adventure, those outwardly foolish, expressive, devil-may-care, and goofy ideas of my arrogant youth been bagged and hung in the back of a closet like an unstylish overcoat? I remember exactly when I lost my nerve and consequently my verve. It was when I had to shelve my life as a creative, curious, and lyrical writer in order to be initiated into a wholly alien and inconsistent corporate culture by getting a job, being supervised or managed, have a steady income, and be a responsible adult. I compromised my true self to evolve into one in herds of others that bought into the idea that business is better than a mind full of zany ideas

The week immediately following my brother’s five minutes of death then resurrected by modern medicine, he spent it straddling the threshold between now and ever after. Rick’s life had become a slippery slope with one treatment jeopardizing another, inconceivable mobility issues, and, like a politician caught taking bribes, his dignity was retired by committee, his independence was incarcerated as he was assigned a room on a floor presently occupied by end-stage, incoherent residents. Considering what he’d already forfeited, I knew that my brother Rick, was going to finish what he’d started seven suffering days earlier: his non-negotiable intention to die, right there, there in a generic hospital bed surrounded by generic strangers. It was, after all, his free will that determined he did not want to live a compromised life.  It was then, in the presence of his own conviction that he would end his miracle of life.

Later that afternoon and well into the night I took a long, hard look at my Life, my unconsciousness of it, what I promised the world at birth, and finally, have I kept those promises? Below you’ll find a list based solely on recalling Rick’s life, his courage and his conviction, and finally my own mortality.  I was surprised (to say the least):

  1. Life is a Miracle:  It doesn’t matter to which, if any, spiritual leadership you follow, the simple fact that you, you, not somebody else, but you, faults and all occupy one tiny spot in a universe few can even imagine.
  2. Life knows its job:  Life knows the human genome and like Mr. Potato Head puts us together in a fascinating display of accuracy and symmetry.  None of my Mr. Potato Heads ever resembled each other.
  3. Boldness and Bravery aren’t the same. Boldness is something you do for your self in order to get noticed. Bravery is something you do for others disregarding your own safety. Men and women that are brave get noticed. Not because they were bold, but their actions were brave.
  4.  Join clubs, gangs, or any organization whose sole purpose is benevolence. They’ve been drawn together in order to help others rather than themselves.
  5. Fail as often as you can. Failing implies you tried something new. Failure is knowledge.living6
  6. Success is fleeting and assigned by others.
  7. Keep secrets secret. Secrets are like boomerangs, they always return to sender.
  8. Be unpopular; popular people spend a lot of time being popular. Unpopular people spend more time on their passions.
  9. All Olympian’s, film stars, and scientists who have won, starred in, or discovered a cure forfeited something very precious to dedicate themselves to their sport, their art, or their experiments.
  10. Whatever you’re undertaking, always have a “Plan B.”
  11. If you’re doing, going, or trying anything new, be sure you know a way out before it becomes dangerous.
  12. Be generous. Sure, with money; but with yourself. Everyone is inspirational. Tell your story to others. Truthfulness is inspirational.
  13. Never compromise your character. It’s who you are. Without it you’re nobody.
  14. living5Fear stops everyone at one time or another. But fear can be conquered: Simply dig in your pocket for your determination.
  15. Never quit. Never. Friends, family, strangers will all chide or mock your idea. Expect it. Ignore it. Mockery confirms they’ve heard or seen it. Which is always better than silence.