Fitness

If you have not been exposed to books, classes, videos, commercials, and websites that teach you how to be physically fit, then you have been living on another planet.  And, unless you are one of those skinny buff bodies that spend fanatical hours at the gym, you, along with 99% of the population, probably have some issues with your body.  Ha, me too. Don’t you love it when they advertise exercise equipment with people who have zero body fat, a six pack and well chiseled muscles across every inch of their body?

Well, with all those resources available I won’t waste your time talking about physical fitness. You can have a perfect body but still be a total train wreck of a person. We need to explore what it means to develop and enjoy fitness in the rest of your being. Yes, there is physical fitness, taking care of this bio-machine that we live in, but there is intellectual, emotional, relational, financial, creative, and spiritual fitness. All six are linked together and have to be in balance for you to enjoy a beautiful life.

One of the best ways to understand fitness it so contrast it with the word “disabilities.”  A person with physical disability has lost the ability to function at full capacity.  If we explore what it means to be disabled in the other categories of our being mentioned above it will help us discover what it means to be whole, vibrant, capable, healthy person. 

Intellectual Fitness has nothing to do with knowing a bunch of stuff, of being smart. I have known people who are really smart; highly educated, well read, articulate, and deep thinkers which is certainly impressive, but discovered they were not very wise. Without wisdom we will suffer from an intellectual disability. Wisdom is the well balanced, strategic, appropriate, and timely application of what we have learned from our education and experience. Wisdom is not knowing. It is accomplishing the right goals by the right means at the right time for the right reasons. Intellectual disability is the opposite of all of those steps.

Emotional Fitness makes life fun and beautiful. It allows us to feel and express the full range of emotions without causing damage to ourselves, our relationships, or those around us.  Emotional fitness allows us to experience and accept the emotional expressions of others without taking them personally, or trying to judge or fix them. Some emotions are like a peaceful river flowing gently through a pristine woods.  Some are like hand grenades that explode at the turn of events. Others are like a party in your heart and others like the inescapable weight of darkness. To be truly human, we must learn to own them all. When emotions become words they can build up or tear down. This is where wisdom and balance are crucial.  Emotions are something you have, not something you are. If emotions are something you have, like clothes or tools, then you can choose when and how to use them, how to express them with words and/or actions. Be angry but don’t turn your words into bullets. Love deeply without the fear of vulnerability. Foster the enjoyable ones as you learn to express the difficult ones in non-destructive ways. Emotional disability happens when you lose control, when they control you.

Relational Fitness means that we can choose to love some, like some, tolerate some and even dislike others. It also means that others will love, like, tolerate or dislike us. This becomes possible when we learn to love ourselves, like ourselves and even tolerate those parts of ourselves which are not so beautiful. Relational fitness means we see ourselves as both independent and interdependent individuals who are confident in our own skin while risking the vulnerability of allowing someone else to know and love us. Humans are unique beings among all the living things on this planet and the universe. Each of us is a miracle to be respected and treated with kindness and compassion, even if we don’t like that person or group very much. We are all from the same race, human, brothers and sisters all coming from the same ancient ancestors, sharing this speck of dust floating in space. Any kind of prejudice is nothing more than a judgmental ego trip and is destructive to our own being and society. There is nothing healthy, balanced or wise about hate. Hate and prejudice are examples of relational disability.

Financial Fitness. There is a MONEY link in Life Lessons which speaks directly to this issue.  I will just add this, I used to tell my students that I wanted them to become very wealthy billionaires so they could give it all away. Then and only then would they be truly happy. Uncontrolled opulent self-indulgence is a very sad and selfish disability.

Creative Fitness: Every book, movie, scientific experiment, government, invention, and relationship begins with the subconscious question: “what if…?” We humans have an insatiable compulsion to create new stuff. Take flight or example. From the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk to a helicopter on Mars in 120 years is truly breathtaking. The opposite of creativity is stagnation, a disability and it is boring and will suck the life out of us. A good synonym for creativity is “rebirth,” searching for our own personal renaissance as we search for the answers to our own “what if…” question.  What if I dressed differently, did my hair and make up differently, spent my week ends exploring new hobbies or friendships, what if I painted a room a different color, rearranged the furniture, what if, what if, what if? Do something good for yourself.  Stop being a couch potato watching the same TV shows. Recreate yourself. It’s risky, maybe dangerous, but almost always thrilling and filled with serendipity.

Spiritual Fitness: I will offer a bit of transparency here; I am a person of faith. I pray, read and study the Holy books and strive to live my life exemplary of a believer. Notice, I did not say I was religious or what my specific beliefs are.  Spiritual fitness is the acceptance that there is more to life than these 70 or 80 years we spend on this planet.  We are going to be dead a whole lot longer than we are going to be alive, and to reject any sense of life after death is to endorse a myopic and naturalistic worldview. It is a blindness, a spiritual disability. There is no scientific evidence which disproves there is life after death. No philosophical polemics can arrive at that conclusion. We are spiritual beings, we have bodies. It needs to be repeated, we are spiritual beings, we have bodies. Every religion (though I dislike using the word) reveals this reality and hope of a spiritual forever after our few moments on this earth are over. Faith heals, guides, inspires, and challenges us to seek goodness, truth and beauty. Spiritual fitness requires that we humble ourselves and seek the divine, the eternal One who gives life to us all.

Education and Career

I taught school for 30 years from Kindergarten to adults, in public school to Prep Academies.  I attended schools for 24 years earning two Master’s degrees. So, without apology I can honestly say, “been there, done that, bought the tee shirt.” Here is some Moore Stuff I learned about education.

School is about developing skills. That training could range from several weeks learning to become a good waiter to extensive higher education to become a teacher, a neurosurgeon, or a fighter jet pilot. Every school at every level is a vocational school.  Education is important and the more you have the more professional doors will open for you.  But higher education does not guarantee success, wealth or happiness. Schools are about getting a job and any company will pay you to sell the hours of your life for a wage or salary. From $10/hr. to $20 million a year, they will pay you for what they think you are worth.

Someone once said that a good education is not measured by the classes you took or what you learned, it is measured by what you remember and can apply to your daily life. I earned a degree in Music Education which did not teach me how to be a good musician or teacher. I didn’t become a decent musician or teacher until I left college and got a job teaching music. Schooling is like giving a person a garage full of tools, some blueprints, and their blessing that you can go out into the world and know how to build a house.  You learn how to build a house by building a house and using the right tools.

A job is like getting a gig, it pays some bills, is temporary with not much job security. You may love it and develop some loyalty but (as my father-in-law once told me) “you can marry a company, but a company will never marry you.” Even with a lot of hard-earned letters after your name you are still expendable. Find a way to own your career rather than it owning you.

A career is a vocation you build over a life time. You take what you have learned, continually expand on it and become an expert, a master of your profession. You keep reading, researching, networking, exploring, working harder than everyone else, become skilled in new technologies to always increase the value of your skills and experience. The best, most relevant education you will ever receive is what you teach yourself.

Finally, the most valuable education you will ever receive is knowing how to fail.  Yes, that is right, failure is a blessing not a curse. Of course it’s embarrassing and disappointing and it hurts and might even cost a lot of money. So what. Think of failure as tuition.  It is training to identify weakness in your skill set, to examine and revise procedures, to find and use new and better tools of your trade. Read the stories of highly successful people and you will discover most of them went through and learned from frequent and devastating failures. You only really fail if you quit.

Visualize what you where you want to go > put together a plan > identify the obstacles > get the training and experience you need > work your butt off > fail a bunch of times > keep working > become and expert > enjoy your success.

Dating and Romance

Romance and Dating

Internet dating has expanded our possibilities but most of the time we date by proximity, someone from school, work, church, friends or friends of friends. If you think of dating as just “hooking up” then these comments are not for you.  This is about finding and building a deep and rich romance which leads to a forever relationship, where you can grow old together, spoil the grandkids, and have a 50th wedding anniversary.

The Need

We are hardwired to love and be loved.  We want and need to find and enjoy intimacy with another person.  It gives us a sense of security, identity, acceptance, happiness and self-worth. For that romance and intimacy to grow and be successful we need to develop that list you just read (security, identity, etc.) in yourself first as an independent individual.  There is huge difference between the “need” for intimacy and being “needy.” If you are not reasonably secure in yourself, independently happy, and truly love yourself first, you will end up sacrificing your own identity and soul to anyone who says they love you, usually someone who will try to control you. You will fail at loving someone else if you have not learned to love yourself.

When the Time is Right

How many times will your heart be broken, or you will break someone else’s heart?  You will cry and think your life is over, or maybe feel relieved you have ended a bad relationship.  It happens and either way it is stressful and painful. Sometimes love just fades away. High school and college romances often fade after graduation as lives move into college or careers as new “proximities” present new opportunities. It takes time to find that person among those ever-changing proximities and we humans are pretty impulsive and quick to latch onto someone who looks great, has a great body, and makes you laugh.  It is like buying a book because it has cute or funny cover. It takes time to open that cover, read the pages and discover the real story within.  Bottom line? Slow down. Love yourself enough to walk away if you are not thriving in the relationship.

Building Bridges

To find a life partner you must learn to build bridges and they have to be built in the right order. 

Here they are:

Proximity > Conversation > Ideas > Interests > Personal Habits > Fun > Background > Values > Goals > Friendship > Safety > Trust > Physical Attraction > Exclusive Emotional Commitment > Expressing Affection > Discussing and Handling Conflicts > Developing Mutual Goals > Engagement > Marriage > Connecting Spiritually, Financially and Sexually. 

Guess which of these bridges couples try to build first. Yup, physical attraction, fun and sex. They are important but of that long list they are the least important, and they can change and fade over time. To find a life partner you have to find that person’s soul and when your soul and their soul are singing the same song, marry that person. Jumping in the sack to quickly is exciting and might even feel like love but it may rob you of the time needed to find the real essence of that person or to let them know you.  Take the time, build the bridges, create a forever.

Money

Introduction

How do you want to live when you at 60, 65, when you retire? There are many pieces to that answer but if we ignore the question of your retirement you will fall short of what you wanted it to be. Most people have to continue working, some by choice, many will need to work.  Here are some quick goals to consider.

Grow your money:

Every dollar we make at 20 can grow to $50 at 65.  Meet your basic needs and a few of your  wants but develop a long-term perspective, goals, strategies on your income, spending, debt,  donations, investments,  and saving.

Live on 80%:

(10% Savings/investment: 10% Tax deductible donations.)

 As your income increases, increase the percentage in saving/investment and donations

 Savings: (3% Short term: new car, remodel, vacation) (7% Long term: IRA, Stocks, Investments)   Short term: items with diminishing value and paid off in a few years, (cards, cars, vacations)

 Long term: items with increasing value: real estate, etc. (always research performance risk)

PYC: (preserve your capital)

 Set a baseline value for your assets. Only risk a set % of money above that baseline. (increased  value of investments above baseline) Find ways to minimize and pay your taxes. Insure your  assets.

Debt:

 Think of debt as a person who wants to steal your assets. Keep a card or two around for emergencies. Never borrow money you can’t pay back in a few months.  This excludes a mortgage or well researched home improvements. Never borrow against your baseline assets.   

Happy Money:

It is important to retire with the resources you want to live securely and         comfortably. Those who are genuinely happy are those who have developed a lifelong habit of  generous donations to help others. Selfishness makes us paranoid and stressed out about our money. When we are thankful for what we have we find that what we have is enough.

Life Lessons

The longer you live, the more stuff you learn.  Since every life is unique, we end up with our own collection of stuff.  You probably have learned different stuff and maybe better stuff than I have. Here is my assortment of stuff with no guarantee that it is right or relevant to your life.  Much of the stuff we learn later in life we wish we had learned in our 20s. My hope is that there are some snippets of wisdom here which will have some positive input in your life.  They are short so you will not find any long dissertations, just some quick in and out comments for you to ponder. 

Money

Marriage

Children

Fitness

Career

Education

Politics

Entertainment

Relationships

Marriage

I have been married for over 50 years. Somewhere in the middle of that journey I left for a year and a half. I came back. Everyone marries a stranger, someone we think we know well until we start sharing the same space, breathing the same air, eating the same meals.  Before long we ask ourselves, “who is this person?” Some have asked, “how did you stay married to the same person for a lifetime?” Here are my short answers to that question.

Love is never enough:

All that emotional and sexual energy which brought you together will change. In a long marriage it will always be there but will move backstage in this amazing marital drama. That energy will evolve into a spiritual glue; deep, subtle, often unspoken, less tangible. It will have to be nurtured to survive.

Forgiveness:

Surprise, surprise, your partner is far from perfect and is going to blow it sometimes, okay, maybe a lot.  Well so are you.  So you have a choice, you can do the blame game and carry that resentment around like a bunch of rocks, or you can set both of you free with the generous practice of forgiveness. Blame and resentment will grow like a cancer in your marriage, rob you of the joy you once had and create emotional insecurity in your children. Forgive the little things, forgive the big things and while you are at it, remember to forgive yourself.

The Pendulum:

Sometimes marriage is a lush well-watered beautiful, fruitful  garden, sometimes it is a barren desert. Both are temporary.  Many couples split during those barren times. They give up, stop trying, stop searching.  I did but I came back. How to survive the desert? It’s the “better/ worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health, until death do us part” commitments made at the altar.  There it is, the big C word, commitment.  Your marriage, your family has more value than having your feelings met. Never stuff your feelings but sometimes we need to shelve them for a time and work on that relationship you were so excited about at the beginning.

Egos:

 Here are the toughest four words to describe a good marriage. You won’t like them. Ready?

 IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!!  What if, think about it, what if your partner’s needs are more important than your own and yours more important than theirs? Here is the conflict, the only way you can effectively love and support your  partner and children is to take care of yourself, to be confident, physically, and emotionally strong. To love them for a lifetime you must learn to love yourself.  I used to tell kids in my classroom, “get yourself together then give yourself away.” Those four words have to be believed and practiced by both.

Money:

 Not much to say here except that conflicts about money have blown up many good marriages.    Look at the Money link, create and agree on a plan together. Find common ground on your priorities and know that both of you will blow it once in a while.  Okay, maybe twice in a while.        

Conflict:

What if, by some weird fluke of nature, you were no longer able to speak cruel, angry, blaming, or critical words to or about your partner.  The only words left for you to use were encouraging, affectionate, and kind words.  You could still honestly express your deepest feelings, deal with and even strongly disagree on events and issues, but the conflicts would be resolved much like getting your car repaired, or seeing a  doctor. They are events you just have to work through without it becoming personal.  Words will build or break a marriage.  Never use them as bullets, use them as blessings. Words can be dangerous, choose them well.

Compromise:

If marriage is not about you then you won’t get your way all the time.  Issues can sometimes become a subtle quest for power or a preservation of ego.  Respect your partner’s abilities and interests as you develop your own.  Your partner will mature and change over the years. So will you. Work on finding the ever-changing middle ground between you. Compromise is about sacrifice, never about winning as argument. Negotiate until both of you lose a little and gain a little.      

Sex:

Whoo, hoo, fun times in the sack. There are the first two or three years, then there is the rest of your life.  As partners change so will sex. Talk about it. Remember, their needs and desires are more important than your own. Never ever use it as a bribe or abstinence as a threat.  Experiment, laugh, and always accept your partner’s body for what it is, not some artificial ideal.  If you cheat it could destroy your partner, your children, your career, your safety, your financial security and your own soul. No excuses, don’t cheat.

Habits and Peeves:

We all have behaviors, good and bad, healthy or not, even gross or not, and we have done them for such a long time we do without thinking. When you get married those habits become very visible to your partner, for better or worse.  Their good habits might inspire you to examine your own. Their bad habits might gross you out. Talk about them. Speak the truth in love. Encourage each other to become the best versions of yourselves.

Children:

You will never know what love is until you hold that first child in your arms and look at that innocent face.  Their life, physically, emotionally, morally, intellectually, creatively, and spiritually is in  your hands. They will become a reflection of you by default as they watch and listen to you.  And they will become the person you pro-actively teach, guide, challenge and discipline. They can become a successful, well-balanced adult in spite of you or because of you.  They will make you proud, or they will embarrass you.  It is completely up to you.

Religion:

There is the religion thing: church, synagogue, mosque thing, and then there is true spirituality. They are not the same.  Religion is about the “doing,” go to services, contributing time and resources to your chosen group.  Spirituality is about a personal and private relationship with God. If you and your partner come from different backgrounds but choose to practice a religion you will need to have the “compromise/negotiate” conversations. Most religions will teach you and your children about good values: decency, respect, tolerance, generosity, self-control,  and many more. If you are going to include religion in your marriage and family, find a place where both of you can grow spiritually.

Careers:

Of course the money is important, but those hours spent working take away from time with your partner and your children. That is not a bad thing. We all have a need to do something in life outside of marriage and family that we can call our own, where we can make a contribution to society and provide for the needs of our family, something that gives us a sense of purpose. This is where setting priorities is critical. It is pretty simple, family first, then work. Work is very necessary for the wellbeing of your family, but too much work will erode the very relationships which are most important.  It is a balance where negotiation, compromise and sacrifice are always present.

Philosophy: The Art of Logical Language

            Philosophy has given us a valuable tool.  It allows us to communicate with each other in ways we can understand.  We might call philosophy the “Art of logical language.”  Every sentence we read, speak or write must make sense. Our words must use the proper lexical, grammatical and logical guidelines for us to express our ideas and feelings. We may have strong opinions on what is being expressed but without the logic of the words we will consider it gibberish.

            Philosophy is an art much like that of a painter.  The painter looks at the world through their cultural and historical context and chooses brushes, colors, texture and form to create an image of their world as they see it.  It is a very intimate expression driven by highly developed skills and personal emotions.  We might consider a painting good or bad based on the skill used to create it but never call the painting wrong or right.  We would never say that Raphael’s paintings are right and Pollack’s wrong. They are inspired by the impressions of their contemporary setting.

            Philosophy is much like jazz.  The musician moves through the set chord progression and melody as they improvise to create a personal interpretation of the music.  Different musicians using the same music would interpret the music differently based on their skill level and feelings.

            Philosophers are like fashion designers; they try to explore how many ways they can hang the fabric of logic on this torso of human experience.

Philosophers look at the universe and use the disciplines of logic to ask enlightened questions about all aspects of human experience. They teach us how to think and properly express our ideas about the world.  They love asking “what if” and “how come” questions to challenge our default assumptions about reality.  Where science has its “…ologies,” philosophy has a long list of “…isms:” which congregate ideas and language which are similar that end up as volumes of highly articulate opinions based on the person’s background, education, experience and agenda. The result? We have a discipline which enables us to explore great questions  and the language to talk about them but absolutely no ability to arrive at answers that we might call “truth.”

In a perfect world logic would lead us to the truth. In a perfect world people would always know and speak the truth.  Truth would be a good thing because we could trust it.  It would be, uncomplicated, and devoid of agendas, hidden or double meanings and falsehoods. Scientists, mathematicians, politicians, artists, theologians and philosophers would all explore the human experience and end up on the same page, laughing and drinking beer at the local pub, celebrating the unity and beauty of the universe and the elegance of truth.  Truth would be a complex and harmonious, polytonal, polyrhythmic symphony of knowledge and experience that all could share.

When the words don’t line up or seem suspicious, we handle them with a bit of doubt or skepticism.  Is “I love you” always a true statement?  “I love you” has a totally different meaning coming from a mother as she gazes on the face of her newborn baby as compared to those same words spoken by a pedophile. “I promise you…” from a boy scout has a different energy than when spoken by a politician running for office.  We often dethrone most every statement from that noble category called truth with a healthy dose of skepticism.  Certainly, commercials, broadcast news, everything on the web and government officials all speak the truth, right? 

Our doubts force us to apply very stiff requirements to any statement that aspires to join that exclusive list.  Most common is the use of verifiability.  Statements which stand the test of investigation, duplication, or predictability are honored with that lofty adjective. The preponderance of evidence moves us to collectively declare a statement as true.  But sometimes, many times, reasonable and logical statements once adamantly affirmed to be true are discovered not to be true at all.  The evolution of scientific investigation ever increases our ability to verify and validate or disprove and reject once firmly held “truths.”  For hundreds of years men of great genius affirmed the Earth to be the center of the universe.  Forensic evidence has liberated or incarcerated those whose juries once pronounced them innocent or guilty based on “the truth” of solid evidence.

The conundrum…

Where does that leave us?  If the greatest, highly educated, well read and respected philosophical minds of the past and present cannot agree on the truth, how are we to arrive at statements that are true?

Possibly, truth at its best, is temporary, finding its meaning and significance in some moment of human experience, only to erode with the application of new insights.  Possibly truth is a cultural event, adding meaning and identity to those who choose to affirm it, but not applicable to those outside the clan.  Possibly, truth is like a menu of truths where we pick and choose those most palatable to our personal worldview.  Possibly, truth exists only in context, deriving its meaning from other statements which are assumed to be true, but having no objective sovereignty.  Possibly truth is the sum of our colloquial practices, allowing us to function in our social proximities, not appealing to the disciplines of logic. 

Basically, what we call truth has become those facts we chose to affirm which conveniently line up with our own personal reality, or possibly a reality we hope is true.  We have made truth subservient to our own agendas, a counterfeit justification for whatever we want to do or believe. We collect our comfortable collection of truths and affirm, “this is what I believe, or don’t believe,” and soon discover the disparity between what we believe and what we practice in our daily lives.

We see ourselves as rational, logical people declaring our logic to be that all objective process, that all seeing eye which allows us to penetrate the fog of experience to discover truth.  Logic empowers us to observe, evaluate and understand the phenomena of life, but what system of logic shall we use to evaluate systems of logic?  In our arrogance we appeal to the high court of logic to affirm that we are, in fact, reasonable people, yet we are humbled by the volumes of human history which reminds us that our glories are surpassed by the gore of our ignoble choices.  We fail at practicing what we believe to be true. We find that logic itself lies bloodied and dying at the feet of our impulsive and selfish desires.

Our sullied and wounded intellects force us to revisit doubt, skepticism and cynicism as the only safe refuge for minds which excavate human experience searching for the bedrock of reality.  If truth is the elusive bastard of our desires and logic a whore to our passions, how can we ever speak the words, “This has meaning” or “This is real?”

Perhaps we expect too much when we proclaim something to be true.  We ask, “what is truth?” or “what is the truth?” and chew on our mental frustrations.  Do we indeed want things to be true or even truthful?  Possibly we don’t need truth at all.  Maybe what we seek is reliability, predictability, or functionality.  We sit on a chair without questioning the reliability of its engineering.  Our experience has given us enough occasions to trust the sight of a chair without the paralyzing doubt which would force us to stand, or at least examine the chair for flaws.  We fall in love and marry with only an even chance that it will last.  Yet we would scoff at the suggestion that half of the chairs we sit in would collapse beneath us.  Is the answer to the questions, “what is truth” and “what is the truth” best answered with an indifferent muse, “who cares?”  We find ourselves more practically asking, “what works for me, now?”  We make our choices on how to live our lives then work backwards to create truths to justify our choices. This is the ultimate expression of ego and narcissism, an epicurean application of the human will.  It is moral suicide.

Truth exists.  It is knowable and teachable.  But truth holds us accountable.  It makes our world smaller, less tolerant.  To believe something to be true we must make the commitment to reject its antithesis.  A firm belief can incapacitate free thinking. To believe in everything is equal to believing in nothing. The acceptance of truth fragments our understanding into qualitative, fearfully judgmental and (oh, this is so hard to admit) even subjective, irrational affirmations about reality.

Our response to this conundrum is to reject truth altogether.  It has become a nuisance, a pest, an infomercial.  Objective truth forces us to make commitments about reality, to declare that an experience is true and valid and reliable, even if we don’t like the implications.  Objective truth holds us accountable. All this is way too much responsibility and far too time consuming.  At last we surrender ourselves to the winds of our senses and live by that high and noble question, “can’t we all just get along?”

Science tells us the truth about many things because it uses a different language: math.  Science has the tools to measure everything it can perceive and those measurements, those discoveries we call true. As time passes those tools of measurement become more sophisticated allowing for ever new discoveries, like Galileo’s telescope to the Hubble. These tools have and are creating the amazing world we live in and the huge body of knowledge about the universe.

Science has it’s language, philosophy has it’s language, but what science and philosophy cannot do is teach us the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.  They cannot teach us about beauty, love, justice, generosity, compassion, empathy, music and art. Without those we are no longer human.

Our egos rebel against someone telling us that what we believe is not true, or the way we are living our lives is not healthy, or good, or moral, or decent.  We do not like being told what to believe and how to live, even if we secretly know they are right. 

A Solution?

At the risk of sounding like I’m suggesting what to believe and how to live, I offer this consideration.

From an ancient verse:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about these things”

And I would encourage us to energize this “thinking” by “doing.”

Good thoughts and prayers to all….

Merle

Tomorrow the Throne

by

M. Malcomb Moore

            “Close the door. Close the door and with it close the day behind thee.”

          “The door doth close, my Lady, and locks as well, but the day echoes with me like a bell of triumph. Servants lie sleeping in their rooms yet the morrow is waking even now within my anxious breast.”

          “Take thy gown, my Prince. Dress thyself for night. Lay beside me. Let my evening song bring peace to your crowded heart.  Let my fingers caress your brow till sleep carries you rested into the new morning light.”

          “Come, look below. The people gather. The night is aglow with a thousand torches to usher in the day. You bid me sleep when the kingdom is awake at my walls?”

          “Thy window is not a friend. It steals your eyes from one whose torch burns brightest. Thy Lady lies here aflame for her prince, only give the night to me and let thy servants have tomorrow to fill the air with your praise.”

          “Forgive me, dear Ann, my Lady.  There is no praise I desire save that of my queen.  My eyes are yours, do with them what you will.”

          “You honor me too quickly, sir. If you crown me queen this hour, then I will bow before my king and teach even the moon to give homage.”

            “Tomorrow I take the scepter and will stand as monarch of lands and seas. Coins will bear my name; Mothers will give their children the name given me by her Majesty. Yet, my Queen, my wife, my love, it is I who must bow before you.”

          “But Prince, it is thy blood which claims the throne, mine but to serve. Thy valor has won the crown, mine, to be loved by my Prince.”

          “It was you, gentle warrior, who won my battles.  It was thy love, sweet Ann, which drew my sword against the Corillian Knights when my heart soon would falter.  It was thoughts of seeing thy face which brought courage against the attack of the Brads. My sword was sharpest, my arrows most true when driven not by hate for those who would destroy but by the love for one who sits upon the throne of my heart. You, dear Queen of Hearts, blessed above all ladies, have won this day and a thousand for our great land.”

          “Then, my Lord, I abdicate my heart to thee this night. Conquer me now in thy bed, O King, Explore my valleys, ascend my mountains, plunder my treasures. Make my flesh thy kingdom and pleasure, your Majesty, and I will serve thee as no other.”

          “You are my crown, fairest Lady, and I shall adorn myself with you, my jewel of jewels.  The day is closed behind us. Tomorrow is for dreamers. Let us ride the night together.”

About the Author

Dear Reader, thank you for wandering through the lives of the characters in these stories. I hope you found them interesting and entertaining. These stories are available on Amazon. Look for “Short Stories for Grown Ups: An Anthology for a Rainy Day”

About the author:

          I kept my cold hands wrapped around my mug of hot chocolate. “I want to write,” I told my friend Don as he ordered his own cup of something to ward off the winter’s day.

          “What?” he replied.

          “I said I want to write,” I repeated, liking the taste of those words on my lips.

          He offered just two words, like sperm impregnating the fertile egg of my dreams. “Do it,” he said.

          I have taken the classes, traveled to the workshops, and read the books on writing. To this day, no advice has been more powerful than those two words.

          Thank you, Don, wherever you are.

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          I was a preacher’s kid raised deep in the farm country of Illinois. I was a mediocre student who learned to play the trombone in high school. A BA in Music Ed. led me to teach music for nearly thirty years. But countless staff meetings, lesson plans, rehearsals, concerts, three daughters and an eventual slew of grandkids could not keep the stories from growing.  The characters, plots and words pestered me like a toddler calling, “mommy” a hundred times.

          You are probably reading these stories because you are a writer, or want to be, or maybe keep putting it off.

DO IT!

‘Nuff said.

Dinner for Three

 

by

M. Malcomb Moore

Part One: The Good Doctor

          “It’s not that I don’t want to go, it’s just, I don’t know, seeing her again…I’m not ready for this…Jones and Blandford keep saying, ‘go, go, you’ll be fine, it will be good for you. You are the guest of honor, you know.’ Good for me, bullshit, what do they know?”

          “So, here I am standing in front of my mirror, talking to my damn self, putting on the tux I hate to wear for an honors banquet I don’t want to attend, with people I don’t know, to receive an honor I don’t deserve, and, she’ll be there. Where did I put those studs, anyway?”

          “God, how long has it been, twelve, thirteen years maybe? I wonder what she looks like. If she has half the looks she did in med school, they’ll probably give her the award. Damn, she had great legs…and her…SNAP OUT OF IT, DON! This is crazy…I’m acting like some hormone overdosed college kid. I’ve got to get a grip. Okay, I’ll go, I’ll get the award, I’ll say thank you, I’ll come home, no big deal. Let’s see, wingtips or plain?”

          “They don’t understand. No one could have more excited when Hannah got her job in Seattle…hell, a position at Northwest is a golden ticket for surgeons. I used to send her flowers, throw parties for her, brag about her to all my buds. It was a simple plan, I would finish my residency, move to Seattle, set up my practice, marry her, have our two point three kids and sing the happily ever-after song. Hmm, at least that what she planned.”

          “Okay, clean handkerchief, wallet, hair looks good, fly zipped, tie straight, keys in hand, lights out, 9332 security set and I’m outta here…Here we go gorgeous…I hope Williams is there and sees me drive up in my Nine Eleven. I love to watch him covet.”

          “Good, the rain stopped. Hope the weekend traffic is over…I hate looking at all those people…maybe the radio will have a traffic report…I sure hope that Romero lady pulls through…that was a tough one…never been that deep into someone’s brain before…should get by with minimal paralysis. Mm, nice looking Vette…wow, nice looking fox at the wheel…hope she sees my plates…several more operations like that and I’ll get my name in the AMA Journal…that’s always a good reason to raise my fees.”

          “Oh, this looks nice…valet better not scratch my car. Okay, here we go. ‘Hi, hello, good to see you, John. How’s the wife?’ …as if I cared… ‘Dr. Benson, congratulations on that appointment.’ …’big hairy deal… ‘hi, Betty, Al, you guys look great.’ …gag… ‘fine, thanks, you?’ …who the hell cares.. ‘Is she? Didn’t know that. Maybe I’ll see her.’ …god forbid… ‘Hey, Brian, sorry about the Seahawks, maybe next year.’ …maybe when hell freezes over… ‘Jennifer said she would be, I think so’ …finally my seat. Whew, don’t see her…maybe she didn’t come.

          “Here we go, play with the food…don’t look for her…I wonder what she looks like…I heard she had a kid…ha, there goes the figure…hate being at the head table…it’s so conspicuous…can’t hide…look like I’m having fun, for god’s sake.”

          “Oh good, now we have the speeches…yes, yes, I know I’m wonderful…blah, blah, blah…it’s amazing how wonderful you become when you give two-and-half mil to this place…maybe by next year old man Marsh will kick off and they’ll make me Chief of Staff.”

          “Finally, my turn…where’s my notes? Wait, some announcement…oh yeah, a new head of surgery, I forgot…drum roll…and the winner is…WHAT? NO! NOT HANNAH!”

Part Two: The Proud Daughter

          “Mom looks so beautiful tonight…look at her sitting here at this fancy banquet in that gold sequined dress with that big I-made-it smile all over her face…I wonder why she asked to sit clear in the back…she should smile…she worked so hard…all that schooling and time at the hospital doing her job better than anyone else…even while she was pregnant with me…she’s one great mom, that’s for sure.”

          “Look at all these doctors…boy will they be surprised when they announce her as their new boss…Chief of Staff…wow, so cool…I think some of her old friends are here from Atlanta…she made a big deal about coming in late so they wouldn’t fuss over her…I guess she’s a little shy…they should fuss over her…she’s smarter than all of them.”

          “I didn’t realize panty hose and a bra would feel so crappy…and who ever invented high heels should be arrested…I look kinda grown up though…that’s cool…ninety dollars to do our hair…me and mom look beautiful.”

          “I wonder if my dad is here…she said he was a doctor…mm, look at him, he would make a nice dad…ugh, he’s too fat…he’s too short…too bald…too old…who need’s a dad anyway…I’m doing great without one.”

            “I wish I’d never found that letter…had to be from dad… ‘I’ll join in a few months…we’ll be together soon…can’t wait to see you,” …barf…that must have broken her heart…and signing it, “my all forever, Don.’ …he should have signed it, “nothing forever, the Jerk.” …if he is here I don’t know if I even want to meet him…okay, yes I do but it will be totally awkward.”

Part Three: Hannah, the Ex

          “Brianne, could you zip me up in back, please? Let’s get your makeup on. Ha, Brianne, you are one hot looking kiddo tonight, ya think? I wonder if there will be anyone good-looking boys there tonight, mmm?”

          “Mom, this is your night. I am just so proud of you.”

          “Thanks, dear, let’s head down and get a taxi.”

          “Okay, Hannah, you can do this…you deserve it, damnit…if I can run surgery in Atlanta I can sure do it here. (laughing) …I wonder how Don will react when he finds out Marsh is retiring and I will be Chief of Staff…I wonder what he looks like…I hope he still has his hair.”

          “Oh, this is a nice place…hope the food is good…I’m hungry…hope Brianne is feeling okay about maybe meeting Don…I tried to keep my comments civil…I think she looks a little like him.”

          “Let’s see, oh there he is…still has hair…and hasn’t changed much…maybe a little heavier…well, me too…so what…oh, here we go…they will brag about him for a while…mm, interesting…he’s done well for himself…no surprise…he is almost as smart as moi.”

          “Brianne, it’s time to go back stage. Come with me.”

          “Hannah, or sorry, Dr. Jackson, nice to see you again.  They’re almost done with speeches then, right before the award for Dr. Allen, they will announce you and give you a moment to speak to the group. We are so excited to have you with us.”

          “Thank you, Dr. Rashad. I am honored to be invited to serve as Chief.  Does Don know?”

          “No, he doesn’t. We know there is a history between you but didn’t want to add any potential drama to the event. I think he had his eyes on the Chief position.”

          “Thank you for that.  This is my daughter, Brianne.  Isn’t she beautiful?”

          “Very nice to meet you, Brianne. You must be very proud of your mother. Oh, it’s time.  Stay here until I announce you. Ready?”

          “Oh yes. I’ve been ready for thirteen years.”