Short Story Long

I hate this saying: At the end of the day...

Sorry people. There are many end of the days, and then something miraculous happens. A new one comes along. It's the nature of our world.

urbandictionary.com defines 'At the end of the day': A saying mostly used by people trying to prove points without having any other intelligent way of expressing it.

In other words, idiots.

But it does emphasize a conclusion of sorts. What do we want at the end of what we are looking for? What we looked for. DUH! But wait!

Oh no...I forgot the milk

Oh no...I forgot the milk

There's a popular folktale about a businessman who meets a fisherman in a small village. The fisherman catches only what he needs for the moment, taking no more time than needed to fish. The businessman asks the fisherman why he doesn't spend the time catching more? The fisherman shrugs and says that he sleeps late, wakes to play with his children, then talks to his wife, makes love to her, takes a nap if he feels like it (typical man), then spends the evening with his pals.

What a waste of time, the businessman balks. Reaching into the depths of his education, the businessman lays out a plan of action: spend more time catching fish to buy a boat to catch more fish to buy a fleet of boats to catch even more fish. Instead of selling to the middleman, open your own cannery so you can have control over the product, processing, and distribution. The fisherman would have to leave his small village and move into the big city so he can open offices to manage his burgeoning empire. The lowly fisherman would have more money than he could ever spend.

The fisherman asks how long this would take? 

A mere decade or two.

Then what?

The businessman scoffs and states: you can then sleep late, wake to play with your children, then talk to your wife, make love to her, take a nap if you feel like it, then spend the evening with your pals.

Long story short, live in the moment.

Crouching tiger looking for hidden dragon

Crouching tiger looking for hidden dragon

Why do people tell a hella long story, then summarize by saying "Long story short"? Too late, bud!

There is another lesson, of course, as these folktales tend to have a lot of depth. Rudyard Kipling had given an address at McGill University in Montreal in 1907. He warned the students against an over-concern for money, or position, or glory: Some day you will meet a man who cares for none of these things. Then you will know how poor you are.

In Kipling's other writings, he said it was all right to have dreams, goals, aspirations, but to be careful that they don't rule you.

This coming from a yet-to-be published author, me. Sorta like single people saying that it's important to know how to have fun while being alone. Isn't that how you go blind?

Double D

Supa Large
Supa Large

About a month ago, a long time coworker had left the company, and it sparked the idea of happiness. Not that I was happy he left, nor did I really care. His initials were D. D. At first, I wanted to call him Dee Squared, but as the name sounded, it was two square. It matched up well, though, because he was Asian and very good at math. So, there was depth in the name. However, many people have called my humor dry, so I guess I need to spit more when I joke, and here his name Double D was born.

"Hey, Double D," I called out. My fellow coworkers turned around and started giggling. As you can see, my professionalism at the office is top notch.

At first, he didn't respond, then stated he didn't like being called Double D, but I persisted. Then it caught on as others started to use his monicker. And, like a knee jerk reaction, he started to respond as if he was born with the name.

My then girlfriend and I took him skiing many years ago, he was hitting on her because he didn't know I was dating her. Well, he hit on her because he liked her, but he wouldn't have if he knew. I think. Afterward, we went to dinner at a steakhouse, nothing better than meat after a hard day of snowboarding in the warm California sun.

The conversation swerved to happiness and the cause of happiness. He was unhappy. He didn't own a house. According to him, he should have at his age. He didn't have a wife, a nice car, high enough income, the list rolled on and on. I told him none of that stuff would cause happiness. You either are, or you decide not to be.

Before I found writing, I went on a soul searching venture. I knew I wanted to do something creative, so I tried everything. I drew, painted, wrote poetry and stories, taught martial arts, acted for several years, worked on opening my own school, but nothing made me happy. Then I came up with the brilliant idea to write the one story that has been tugging at me for over twenty years. And bam! My soulmate, or who I thought was my soulmate, and I ended it.

Doubo Happeeness
Doubo Happeeness

Gawd...it was soul-wrenching painful. I cried for nearly a year. Well, not constantly. But it provided the muse I needed to put into words, plot, and emotional state to write Nightfall. You see, my main character, Talon, loses a child, and the only thing I could come close to was the intense body-numbing pain of a broken relationship. Still no happiness in the sense of finally finding and writing the story that had haunted me.

What the hell?

Was I fulfilled? Yes. Was I purposeful? Fuck yeah. And those haunting voices slowly subsided, in a good way. I was on destiny's road. But was I happy? Not really.

Then it smacked me in the face. Hard! Like a punch that you don't see cause you're not lookin'. Happiness was a choice! Sort of.

I'd been on the spiritual path of enlightenment for some time, trying to decipher the cryptic language of oneness, all for one, one for all, the source, the higher intelligence, inner intelligence, inner wisdom, living in the moment, the present, the Buddhaness, the perseverance of the Hesus story.

And I realized, happiness is born with us, innate. You see it with babies, that joy, that connection they have with their parents. You see happiness when kids play, pretending, not yet tarnished by the limitations of adulthood. You see this with geniuses, who don't let others' limiting thoughts hinder them. Happiness, after all, is not a choice, but part of our being. We are born with the ability to think and feel, just as we are born to be happy, and lather it with sadness. We choose to be sad, otherwise we are just happy, content.

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Double D had bought a nice car and had moved out of the room he rented and into his new home in the suburbs. He had found a job with more pay, maybe a better title. But he wasn't happy. I know this, even though I hadn't spoken to him since that dinner because in the years since he's bought his home, none of his friends have ever seen it. They know what city it's in and were promised an invite to a house warming party that never came. What was going on? He was afraid of being judged. For what, I do not know. But maybe somehow he thought that he wasn't enough, the car wasn't impressive, or that his house was in some way representative of who he was (too small?). In essence, I assume, his happiness was linked to others' perceptions of him. If that is the case, then he will never be happy. Even if people revere him, he knows, as we all do, that opinions can change with a drop of a hat.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't be unhappy, because life has its ups and downs, but that happiness is our natural state. If you think about it, it takes a lot of work and effort to be unhappy. That's why meditation is often the solution to this. To quiet your mind is to quiet the crap that stresses us out.

Forever and Ever and Ever...

I was watching part one of the season finale of The Bachelorette. Wait. What? No. I didn’t choose to watch this. Common! Psh. My sister was watching it and I was like, yeah, I’m just gonna get something to drink and relax and since I was enjoying my drink I was like, yeah, I’ll just relax and hang and spend time with my sis and was like, whoa, The Bachelorette is on. Yeah.

Now watch as I break these apart

Now watch as I break these apart

Anyways, the bachelorette had mentioned that she wanted to make the right choice from the last three men because she wanted her marriage to last forever. Nothing wrong with that. I think that’s what we all want at some level. But…I feel that we focus so much on the forever, wanting it to never end, needing that security that that person will be there forever, to never leave for any one else that we miss out on what’s truly important.

This potion will make him love me forever

This potion will make him love me forever

As writers, we know one thing for sure. We toil away in some dark corner of a cafe for literally thousands of hours, thinking, rethinking, agonizing over every single word, words that the average reader will nonchalantly read over, and we wonder, in those moments when we take a break, whether anyone outside of our circle of friends and family will read this incredible story. Hell, none of my family has read my books. So why write?

In life, there’s no guarantee. Even in death, we don’t know if we are truly dead. Do we have a soul? Where does it go once our bodies end? And even if we don’t have a soul, and death is the end of our existence, does that really matter? Regardless, to focus on death, like focusing on the forever, is a waste of time. When we hone in on something that is in the future, be it tomorrow or many years down the road, we miss out in the moment.

You built a time machine out of a Delorean?

You built a time machine out of a Delorean?

What? Psh! That’s it? The MOMENT. Don’t tell me. Live in the present. What other choice do I fucking have? You see a fucking time machine here, buddy?

Living in the moment has been a tenet for many, if not all, artists. It’s the only place where we create. It’s the only place where truth comes from. Even if we use our past as inspiration, we’re bringing it to the current moment to use in our creation. And there’s nothing in the future that we can bring back because it hasn’t happened, yet. So to focus about the future is like that proverbial over filling the teacup. Empty it and live. We’re all gonna die, we can’t stop it, so why worry about it? Same thing with marriage and relationships. They’re all gonna end either by choice or death do we part. So why not just enjoy the moment?

Nothing else in the world has taught me about living the moment, enjoying the process, more than writing. Because such a small number of writers ever make it, and even less make it big, to think about the possible “wasted” time I’ve spent working on my books is useless. The pure fun of telling these stories is exhilarating. The excitement of plotting, seeing the story write itself, develop, and watch the characters growing, or not, is an experience I can only imagine to be like watching children grow. And I guess that’s why so many writers refer to their works of art as their babies. In many ways, it takes a life of its own.

In life, living in the moment is important because that’s all we really have. The past is gone. The future has yet to arrive. And in the moment, we choose whether to be happy or not by how we perceive things. So why not just be happy?

Karate Heah

Mr. Miyagi points to his head. "Karate heah." He taps his heart. "Karate heah." He grabs his belt. "Karate nevah heah." photo

I was reading an article in one of those karate or kung fu magazines. It was written by a practitioner. He was discussing how spirituality was missing from MMA, specifically targetting UFC fighters. That all fighters wanted was to be champions, to have fame, fortune, and busty ladies swarming around them.

Hell...what man wouldn't want that?

It's obvious there's a huge misunderstanding of how spirituality should be practiced, or that MMA fighters don't practice it. And it was also obvious this practitioner didn't watch MMA, read the forums, interviews, and watch post fight conferences like I do.

It's one of my many vices.

The wise practitioner, the writer of this wise article, full of wisdom, full of research, and full of shit harped on the lack of inner peace. Through his wise words I knew this person never fought, or if he did, then he approached it without inner peace. As wise and full of wisdom as he ascertained.

I'm a huge MMA fan. Watched hundreds of hours of interviews. And one thing that all fighters strain to get is inner peace. One of the most popular UFC fighters is former light heavy weight champion Chuck "The Iceman" Lidell. His monicker indicates that his nerves are as cold as ice before, during and after a fight. Every fighter praises him for that. Because if a fighter gets too excited, they'll waste energy, suffer from an adrenalin dump, or are prone to mistakes. And mistakes in a game where there are literally dozens upon dozens of ways to lose isn't a good thing. Keeping your cool is essential. And the current dominant fighters of the UFC and Strikeforce exhibit this without a doubt.

I get more nervous watching them fight.

Back to this all wise practitioner. His practice of inner peace is through meditation. I'm surmising here. But it's pretty common. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's pretty easy to reach inner peace when you're peaceful.  It's kinda like going into a room full of yellow balloons to look for a yellow balloon.

Now, if we place a fighter punching this all wise practitioner in the face, how well would he be able to keep inner peace? Not well. But MMA fighters do this every day. And their ability to keep this inner peace allows them to adapt to the fight. It's very common to see one fighter losing the fight badly, and with a slight change of strategy he comes up with the win.

This can't be done if the fighter panics because he isn't present enough to analyze what's going on.

MMA fighters also practice 6-8 hours a day. They have to love the process and love the journey to continue to learn and challenge themselves. Another principle of spiritualitism.

All fighters want to be champions. But as they climb the ladder to contention, they remain present and focus on their current opponent. They study tapes, go over strategy, hire fighters who can mimic their opponents, and rarely think pass them. The principle of being present is at work here.

MMA fighters practice inner peace, but they do it in an environment that doesn't elicit it.  So who's more skilled at inner peace?  Someone who practices in a peaceful environment?  Or someone who practices in a violent one?

I wrote this because it struck me as a huge misunderstanding of MMA fighters.  To be misunderstood is a sore subject for my main character in my book.  He's continually misunderstood by the people he's sworn to protect, but he pushes on because it is what he does.  What hero gives up?

Free Coffee!

Continuing on with yesterday's post ofReading People,I remembered something today that made me laugh.  Several months ago, I was working in another office.  They have those vending machines that dispences hot cocoa, coffee, tea, etc. Periodically, the vendor will come to reload the machines and allow that particular coffee machine to give out free drinks.  All you have to do is press the clear plastic button, and, bam, free coffee or cocoa.  They can even choose between a large or small cup.  Keep in mind this happens often enough that once the worker bees hear about this a line forms.

Nothing funny so far, I know.

The one constant comment about the coffee?  "Yuck!"

Do the cubicle bees throw it out?  No.

What do they do?  That's right.  They drink it.

Do they come back for more?  Yeah.

What is it about free stuff that no matter how bad it may be people will line up for it?  It's the strangest behavior.

You see this in buffets.  People prepare themselves the whole day by not eating.  Once they get to the buffet they eat their fill.  They'll continue to eat, making sure they consume the price of admission.  Then are they done, yet?  Well...there's dessert.  You can't have dinner and not have dessert.

They'll load up on ice cream, cakes, cookies.  It's as if they've never seen anything like this before and hoard all the sweets.  By the time they lug their goods back, they're too full and leave most of the dessert.  And most buffet places have a policy of no doggy bags.

Why do people do this?

What's crazier is the buffet called Todai.  They serve Asian style seafood like sushi, lobster, different filleted fish, etc.  This one Chinese lady had an empty plate.  She rapped her fingers along the bottom edge, waiting.  Saliva lined her bottom lip.  Her eyes widened.  The chef appeared from the back and placed about half a dozen halved lobsters.

This lady had no shame.  As he placed them on the serving plate, she scooped them up.  I'm not a huge fan of lobster, but, damn, scand-o-lous.

What is it with people?

It's simple.  They don't live in the moment, busy scarfing everything they can get their hands on, not enjoying life right now.  They're constantly thinking there isn't enough, living in the future, letting the present fly by.  And it's no wonder when they're on their death beds, they think, "What happened?"

The hero of my story deals with this on a constant basis.  It's the one thing that saps his soul, making his job as peace keeper miserable.  He'll have to find a way to cope.