The Hole in the Field

We didn’t mean any harm. Seriously. We were just kids.

I think I was about 10 years old when we first moved to Stockton, California, and our first house was right on the edge of town in an area being developed. Directly across the street was a large empty field, a perfect place for us neighborhood kids to play. With this huge field of dirt, all we needed was a shovel. I provided the shovel, and we took turns digging. We all wanted to see just how big a hole we could make.

The project took weeks. At first we called it “The Hole,” as in, “Let’s meet at The Hole after school.” “Mom, we’re going to go play out at The Hole.” “I did more work on The Hole than you did!”

The Hole became quite large, and then someone came up with the coolest idea. With all the construction going on in the neighborhood there was plenty of wood around (scrap and otherwise) so day by day we were able to start covering The Hole with a roof. As the roof was built, dirt was piled on top of it so that it couldn’t be seen. It was at this point it stopped being The Hole and became “The Fort.”

With The Fort in place amid all the weeds and tall grass, it was the best place on Earth to play Army. We armed ourselves with cap guns, squirt guns, plastic battle axes and swords, and the filled that field with wars, insurrections, rebellions and general free-for-all mêlées. The Fort was a nexus for our little battles until summer, when a rival gang of kids, older and meaner, took it from us. Our interest in it waned, as we’d discovered new places to play (a creek with a railroad bridge, God help us) and so we finally gave up on The Fort.

We let the bullies have it.

Then I remember the day we spotted a Caterpillar tractor out in that field, lumbering and squeaking through the tall grass. I stood on my front lawn with my friends, watching in fascination as the tractor pulled its plow back and forth across the field, edging closer to The Fort with each pass. Then there was this magic moment when the entire tractor suddenly disappeared from our view. From across the field came a terrific Wham!.

Little did we realize that we’d created the perfect tractor trap.

The tractor driver came up out of that hole hopping mad, and we ran. Later someone came door to door, inquiring about whose kids had dug a big hole in the field. My mom kept her mouth shut, no doubt fearing a lawsuit. Later it came out that the bullies who’d taken it away from us got blamed, and were in big trouble.

Ah, karma.

It took a huge semi-truck looking rig to pull that tractor out of The Hole. We stood on my front lawn watching that, too. Come next summer, they’d started building more houses there and soon the field was a block of brand new triplexes. It didn’t take five years for the whole area to deteriorate into a low-rent slum.

Frankly, I liked it better as a field.

Ca11igraphy

She has the most beautifully rounded font
I have ever beheld
And I caress every curve
Of her W
With my eager gaze
Her M and her Y
Give me a capital I
Even her E and her 3
Really do it for me
She has the most beautifully rounded font
It is my favourite.

 

Reusing Disposable Things

Reusable Spork

According to a New York Times article, about 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally each year, and only about 10 percent of it is recycled. The rest of it is simply thrown away, and an estimated seven million tons ends up floating around in the ocean — every year.

One simple change in mindset can reduce that by quite a bit.

You know that clean, shiny plastic spork you might use to eat lunch? What would happen if you washed it off and saved it for another reuse? Just once. Or that plastic cup (or paper, for that matter) that we drink out of once and then toss … rinse it out and use it just one more time?

Imagine if everyone did that. Use a perfectly good disposable item twice, instead of just once.

Just once.

Imagine how much of a dent that would take out of those tons of plastic going into the environment. In a perfect world that would cut the plastic use in half, but of course that’s not the case, as there are many plastic items — such as in packaging — that can only be used once. But still, a significant portion of plastic use is … well, knives and forks. Plastic cups. A plate. Things that are perfectly reusable.

What if you reused them just once? Or maybe more than once?

Now, I know the next step is to wonder about substituting actual reusable items instead of disposable ones, but let’s not get carried away. We’ve got a 300 million ton plastic ship going full throttle here — there’s no way you’re going to stop it on a dime. But big changes can come from small, tiny changes. Easy changes.

Like rinsing out that cup and using it again before you throw it away. Or — be daring! — use it three times. Four!

It’s easy, and I urge you to start doing it today, and please urge your friends and colleges to do it too. Just make that simple, easy change.

Just reuse it once. Maybe twice. Something so small, it’s not that big a deal, but cumulatively it could be a huge big deal.

Sources: Raising Awareness of Plastic Waste (NY Times); U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

Trip Without Destination

She calls out his name
The brown sedan keeps driving
There shines no brake lights

She sits, cold concrete
Does not want to move or talk
He is gone for good

Motor sounds, smell of exhaust
Many shoes crunching endless paths
A bus pulls up, stops

She looks, driver smiles
Doors open and then breathes warm air
Standing, life goes on

Leaden feet carry her
Up three steps, walk down the aisle
Bus seat is grimy

Long hours pass the day
Trip without destination
She stares out window

Familiar streets now
She gets off the bus, walking
Shock, his car is home

Running to the door
He meets her in the doorway
The love is still there

Eternal Summer Dream

Creatures of shadow, light and dark,
Weighing nearly nothing
Drifting like wind-borne mist
Past the fitted stone and ancient archways
The long grass under the tangled branches.

When the afternoon sun beats down
With the pressure of a dry August heat
They rest in a quiet summer dream
Of past years and childhood games
Of restless yearnings and the touch of someone fond
A time spent long ago.

When the sun drifts down, finally
They stir in the evening twilight
And wander aimlessly, sleepwalking
Dimly aware of who they were
And what they are now.

When footsteps quietly come
To them it drums like thunder
All still, they watch
As a young couple wanders
Arm in arm through the courtyard
Hardly more than children

There’s a hush as they pause and kiss
There’s a rush of life and joy
Then as the two walk aimlessly along, they follow,
They follow along, just follow, watching,
Watching, the night itself watching,
Just watching

As the sun brightens the sky
And as the lovers sleep
They pause to wistfully touch the life
So fresh and so warm
Then drift past the cold archways
And etched stone
To the place they lie dreaming
Just dreaming, holding onto what they’d touched
Until the sunlight melts it away.

Transformative Loops

I have found the key to happiness.

It’s not an original idea. You’ll find forms of it throughout various cultures, religions, philosophies and the sciences.

The more experience I gain in this lifetime, the more I notice everything moves in cycles. I started studying these cycles, and found the most interesting and useful ones sustain themselves. Here I’ve attempted to strip the most relevant two down to their simplest form. I call them the Positive Loop, and the Negative Loop.

The goal in life is to get into as many of the Positive Loops as you can, and away from the Negative ones. To do this you must first become aware of the various loop cycles you’re in, identify the negative ones, and make conscious effort against habits you’ve formed to break out of them.

I call this a Transformative Loop, one that actually breaks a Negative Loop and creates a Positive Loop in its place.

Once again, these are very simplified, much like representing an entire automobile engine by showing a single piston. By doing this, it makes it easier to see the solution. And, yes, the solution is simple, though identifying it may not be.

Now if this were a self-help book, I would spend 20 pages convincing you to read the book, three pages of introducing the idea, and the next 140 pages convincing you the idea works through endless sets of examples. My friends, I’m not going to put you through that. I want to share this with you because it can make your life better. By making your life better, it makes the lives of others close to you better, and so on.

If you already get the picture, you can stop reading right now. Go find examples of Positive and Negative loops in your life. Write them down. Study them. Figure out where you can break the Negative loops and turn them Positive.

Seriously, that is your mission. I want you to do this. It’s good for you, your friends, your family, and even for me. For everyone.

Writers on Writing

I’ve begin posting a series of videos on my MojoWriter.com website, featuring authors talking about writing (among other things). I’ll be posting a new video at least every other day for the next few weeks. For instance, here’s Kurt Vonnegut:

To see more, head over to MojoWriter.com.