You’re always creating

Have you ever caught yourself thinking: “I’ve never done anything with my life. I’ve never made anything, or changed anyone, or done something with myself.” Well, I believe that’s false. I believe you and I have both created more things than we can possibly imagine.

Look at this picture. My two year old son drew it. While it may not be a Van Gogh, -in this universe- it’s a creation. He has made something out if nothing. The colors own the space where nothing was before; they weren’t put there of their own will. Every centimeter he carried that marker he was creating a new picture, it was changing and becoming something new, millisecond by millisecond. He made that and he created something. Because of the joy I’m sure that the creating brought him, he was creating happiness in the world. It was his own, sure, but it was new and previously untapped potential happiness. When I saw the picture, it brought me joy. He probably would’ve liked me to see it and to praise him for it, or he may not have thought that at all. Regardless of his intentions he had affected my life in a positive way.

If you ever catch yourself thinking “I’ve never made anything, or changed anyone, or done anything to matter.” Take a step back and think about all the imperceptible things we help happen. Think of the butterfly effect, but in a more tangible realistic way. Imagine how your actions, (though you may not have known at the time) helped better someone’s day, or even maybe save their life.

Just because you can’t see the thing you created doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because it isn’t affecting your life, doesn’t mean it isn’t positively affecting someone else’s.

I’m sure the same could be said for negative things and how imperceptible side-effects of those hurtful actions may not have harmed the actor, but did harm the person two doors down from them. We could talk about that, but this time, let’s focus on the good. Let’s enjoy the tangle of colorful joy that we let flow from our actions onto the paper of our lives, and from there onto the table under the paper that makes up the lives around us. Let’s dump out all the markers and get to work.

To Shelve the Book

To shelve a book: like the end of a chapter in your own story.

To give the guiding words of another a home, until it is asked again to tell its story or bestow its wisdom.

To add another layer to the horizontal linear palette of colors which make up the painting of a library.

To say: “Thank you friend; for the conversation, the companionship, the stories, and the memories.”

Sadness: because the abyss-like ink, and the fine fibered paper, and the whisper of flipping pages, and the symphony which they all combined to conduct shall be put to rest; at least until the next time.

The victory of completion: because you absorbed, and savored, and pondered every word of a long wondered about thought that an author put on a piece of paper; because you watched a story unfold; because you learned a deep truth about yourself or those around you.

The displacement of time’s footprint, when the bones of the book nudge aside collected layers of dust as you push ever so gently, the new tenant of this sliver of long unoccupied space into position.

To see it from across the room, and ache for it’s old companionship; clamoring to again fall into the depths of color, and shape, and weight, and word which compose it.

To wake up one day, and say: “Hello friend” as it resides again in your hand. It answers back with a crack of it’s spine: “Come in, have a cup of coffee. Let’s catch up, it has been too long.”

A Dusting of Nuclear Winter

A high of fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit and a low of thirty-one. Those were the average temperatures in Oklahoma City on February 16th, 2021. The average temperature was below normal from February 8th to February 16th and showed no signs of stopping. The high temperature had not reached above single digits in three days; as well as dipping into frigid negative temperatures at some points during the days and many times during the nights.

The temperatures had only been a portion of the unusual weather. On February 8th, residents began having to deal with a thin coating of ice on roads; this began to clear up by the 10th. On February 13th the beginnings of a record breaking snowstorm began to flutter from the sky; this continued into that divisive day of red things and loving feelings, becoming a sky cascade of coating, unsweet sugar by the middle of the afternoon. On the 15th, the quieting blanket of precipitation had come to an end; leaving much of the city in an involuntary stupor of immobility. The next day, people, as they do, began to venture out; some with apprehensive caution, others with misplaced confidence; it wasn’t hard to tell them apart. As the daylight took it’s leave that day, it was replaced by the appearance of a fresh and generous layering of that equally loved and equally hated substance from the sky. This snow would continue into the evening.

Utility workers watched surrounding maps of Oklahoma, and it’s neighbors, as in scattered pockets of neighborhoods and in broad swaths of towns, bulb filaments and heating elements were turned off without their owners permission.

From the eyes of migrating American Robins, spiraling patterns of people lined up outside of grocery stores; carrying the clawing hunger and hope of satiation of both them and their young.

Those lacking the shelter that should have been theirs by their very nature, were offered temporary walls of life-preserving protection by both those declared to care for them, as well as those neighbors that saw a need which demanded to be filled.

The luckiest ones tried to close their doors and windows just a little bit tighter. They wore layers upon layers in an attempt to stave off what winter managed to leak through the cracks of their homes.

All this but glimpses of life interrupted as the snow drifted through the air; and as the snow piled on the ground, and as the snow muted the routines and lives under it.

Of course, books were devoured as quickly as reserves of food. Expectedly, sleds were brought out and raced with joyous abandon. Predictably, ounce upon ounce of coffee was brewed and savored. And like a promise, collective wishes of normalcy permeated the air in between the floating flakes.

Unknown to the drinkers, the racers, the brewers, the wishers, the lucky ones, the unsheltered, the robins, the workers, the drivers, and all the others, this winter would continue to grow.

On February 19th, the storm would continue in its expansion. It would continue with intensifying frigidness; it would continue with accelerating magnitude; it would continue with escalating catastrophe. This winter would continue for one hundred and nineteen years as soot and ash replaced the dancing flakes of so many children’s dreams. This winter would continue unchecked; unaware, and unremorseful. This winter had no goal. This winter was the child of hate, the offspring of greed, and the fruit of selfishness.

To have the ability to return to another time and change a decision, or to influence a person, or persuade a government might be able to course correct this impending destiny, but it would be unnecessary if such a terrible destiny was born of a little imagination and too much snow.

The haphazard dam that was made up of humanity’s fear, wisdom, and restraint, had been constructed at the same pace that the river-flow of humanity’s evolving technologies had increased throughout the decades. Eventually, the miniscule cracks in the dam ruptured when time’s open and generous offer of rue and rectification had closed. Time had withdrawn it’s intervening hands, and destiny had inserted its own.

To deal with weather that is atypical and unusual for a region is one thing. It’s quite another thing to deal with it for so many consecutive days that you literally begin to feel as if your daily routines have been upended and the comfort of familiarity has been pulled out from under you.

Experiencing frigid temperatures and watching the snow falling for the second time in such a short period of days, in a place that rarely sees snow anyways, has been a little bit like a nightmare with too many displacement themes. It’s very easy to allow the feeling of being in another place to overwhelm you when the place you’re familiar with is just gone. It’s easy to let imagination step in and begin to wonder, what if this was the beginning of a nuclear winter?

Looking now, Canada can confidently say they have Oklahoma Beaten with temperatures getting down to -20. I’m not saying I think Oklahoma is colder; I’m saying it’s very strange to be in a place that should be sunny and in the mid thirties, to have 10+ inches of snow on the ground and wind-chills in the negative teens. It’s beginning not to feel like Christmas anymore, but to feel just a bit like an alien landscape, and this frozen astronaut is ready to go home.