The Lives We Live as Leaves

still-standing

I have told this story many times, but I’m “feeling it” today.

 
One of my greatest life lessons came from a man named Mike Sullivan with whom I worked when I lived in Rhode Island. We worked for a boss that always expected you to cover his ass and make sure his work day would go smoothly. But that boss would always hang me and Mike out to dry and force us to fend for ourselves. The two of us often talked about how good a working relationship we had while in that environment.

One day, Mike said to me, “All we ever have is each other.” I asked him if he meant the two of us, looking out for each other while dealing with our shithead boss, or if he meant something larger, something greater–a bond connecting person to person on this mixed-up world.

He said, “Both.”

Those words will always resonate with me, and I hope to help them resonate with others I encounter, especially in times like the ones we face. The state of the one world we have, socially, politically, environmentally, and so on, is growing more and more precarious every day. We need to wise up, we need to care, and to support, and to love more. We need to build, to truly create lasting and meaningful connections with ourselves, our fellow beings, and our only source of life.  We must, before it’s too late.  Everything is connected.  We are all connected.

“All we ever have is each other.”

 

The Tree

The Tree of Life links everything,
And all the souls its branches spring,
Connected by such fibrous thread,
Swell by what each limb’s been fed.

The Tree of Life, it branches wide,
Connections growing at each side,
And when one sees the common boughs,
It’s limitless what growth allows.

The Tree of Life has many leaves;
Sometimes one falls, and someone grieves,
And though there will be growth again,
A gloom remains within the glen.

So many fruits sprout on this tree,
And some fulfill prosperity,
While others come to waste and rot,
And their branch ends in pitted knot.

So each bloom needs to see the ties
That bond each bud and to realize
That all we’ll have is other leaves
As every Life branch interweaves.

And as my own now ages on,
The truths that I have come upon
Have made me praise the leaves I see
Have helped me grow my own life’s tree.

© Jordan Alan Fox

 

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Our Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”

6275825-a-pile-of-reference-books-isolated-against-a-white-backgroundI have a friend who said to me, “Words are powerful things.”  It was quite some time ago, but I believe I was saying something hurtful at the time.  And, as a writer (one of my few true skills), I had the ability to make my words really sting.

I’ve heard that there are studies in which the power of words was tested by saying “I love you” and “I hate you” to dishes of freezing water to see if there was any effect.  Reportedly, the ‘loved’ samples made beautiful crystalline formations, and the ‘hated’ samples made very fractured-looking structures.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I DO know what words can do to a person.

It’s rather hypocritical of me to be hurtful with my words, since I can still remember the things that were said to me as a child by my peers.  And let’s not talk about adolescence.  It’s because of that lingering pain that I have felt the need to amp up my words into a full-blown arsenal when I feel slighted.  It’s the desire to one-up the other and dish out more than you’ve received.

Words are indeed powerful things, and just as I’ve seen the hurt I can cause and have been caused, I’ve seen what KIND words can do and what my own have done for others.  I’ve had someone very important to me tell me how I always seem to say the right thing, the best, most perfect thing to help them stay grounded in that moment and maintain perspective.  You know what?  I like the feeling it gives me to have THAT effect on someone better than the scarring one.

I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog that I’m in a couple writers’ groups.  We ALL have this power, and ALL have this responsibility.  Even if you’re not a writer, the pain that words can cause can still last.  I’m sure the people that hurt me from childhood and on weren’t exactly Shakespearean in their verbal skill.  So may we all bear in mind the power of words, and pause before we do some damage to someone, because oftentimes that damage lasts far longer than it took to even speak.

Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”   

  

Someone once said to me, “Words are powerful things”.

They can be used to help, or to hurt, an array that each one brings.

I’ve used my words in scathing ways, cutting deeply as I could;

I’ve also used them to let one know their pain is understood.

     I hope that when my time is up, what’s left when mine are heard

     Is something benevolent and sincere or else be deemed absurd.

     May others feel the light of love that’s hopefully interred

     Every time, from here on out, within my every word.

I have a gift to use my words in all the ways I do;

I’ve often been praised for all the shapes that I can mold them to.

But I must revere that power that I know they each contain,

Remember all the times they’re used, intent to cause one pain.

     May each sentence that I share leave no darkness that’s inferred,

     And if I fail in that regard, leave the recipient undeterred.

     Unless productive, taking flight like a paradisiacal bird,

     May no harm and only help be born by every word.

© Jordan Alan Fox 

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You’ve Gotta Fight

NFLparody-bannerI must confess to being overly emotional of late.  My father has cancer, and it’s pretty bad.  He’s successfully beaten cancer before; in fact he had two types at once and beat both.  But this latest case is going to be very invasive and, I imagine, turbulent.

But there are other factors impacting my mood as well.  It’s football season, and of course that means seeing all the mike vick t-shirts and jerseys and eagles logos in general since I live in the killadelphia area.  Never an inspiration for positive thoughts where I’m concerned.

But the National Football League is now alleged by Peta to have spent $10 million on researching injuries by inflicting catastrophic damage upon dogs’ knees and driving pneumatic pistons into rats’ skulls and spines.  The animals that survive the testing are still euthanized (and who knows how humanely) because they’re messed up, and ‘no longer of service’.  When I put Peta’s petition to the NFL to stop this testing on my anti-vick Facebook page, someone gave the perfect response.  They said, “What do expect from an organization that welcomed vick back with open arms and open checkbooks?”

The NFL responded to Peta’s claim with a legalese-riddled reply that speaks of “board-approved methods” and “acceptable parameters”.

Bleacher Report, an online sports news medium, reached out to the NFL for comment and received a statement that:

“Grant recipients must follow existing industry ethical standards for medical research established by the scientific community. All grant requests have to be approved in advance by the institutional review board of the participating institution.  In addition, we require any proposal to have been submitted for approvals by the institution’s animal care and use committee prior to applying for funds.”

 

It is in NO way a denial.  To me, it essentially says, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.  Incidentally, dripping corrosive substances into rabbits’ eyes and attaching funnels to a bunch of Beagles’ heads through which cigarette smoke is blown until they get lung cancer are also “board-approved methods” that are “within acceptable parameters”.

So, in addition to the fear of losing my father (he’s 73, and there will be several major steps at which anything can happen during the removal surgery, reconstructive surgery, and radiation follow-up), I am  considering no longer watching football again.  I love this sport, and giving up watching it is seriously depressing.  Arguably, I should have done this when they first readmitted vicky into the league.  I’m tired of losing things I love because it’s the right thing to do.  But taking the stands that I do is more important to me than being a fan of something.

I’ve made so many changes, excised so many types of things from my daily life.  Giving up meat and dairy has made eating unenjoyable.  Again, I know it’s the right thing to do, but eating, once a fun thing, almost a celebration, is no longer so.  I put it off as long as I can sometimes because I dread it.  Additionally, all the vegetable-based things wreck my insides a lot of the time.  And then there are all of the cleaning products and hygienic products I’ve been getting rid of because Proctor and Gamble also tests on animals.  It’s a constant fight to do what’s right.

But giving up everything leads me back to my opening sentence of getting overly emotional about things.  I’m worked up over many things right now (including some other personal issues I haven’t mentioned here), but I’m wondering if it all matters in the end.  Animal testing and consumption is going to continue long after I’m gone.  Wars are still going to be fought over religious or political differences.  In fact there are wars going on within political bodies such as Congress just because one party doesn’t like the other and wants to block any potential progress because it’s on the other party’s agenda.  Innocent animals are still going to be beaten, burned, abandoned, and neglected, and judges and legislators still won’t consider these important enough to institute harsher penalties.  People will still rape, murder and steal from each other well after I’m dust and my name is remembered by none.  People are still going to contract awful disease, and even if we find cures, new maladies or strains are always popping up.

So I’m wondering what the point of constantly fighting for change is when the odds seem insurmountable.  Some would say that faith is what gets them through and that I need to have some of my own to escape this spiral.  But that’s not my way.  I’m too much of a scientific mind to cross over into the realm of spirituality.

But I can’t stop the fight.  I want to give up but can’t.  Maybe that means being unhappy and struggling through all the things I must give up.  There’s a saying that once you’ve seen the bad things, you can look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn’t know.  I DO know, and learn more all the time.  Can’t turn back now.

And as much as I doubt my father’s chances against all of the medical trauma to come, I have to fight to stay strong and positive for him, too.

 

Peta’s petition:

Tell the NFL to Stop Funding Sports-Injury Experiments on Animals secure.peta.orgThe National Football League Foundation is funding horrific and deadly sports injuryrelated experiments on animals. Ask them to stop!

 

For those that care to check out my anti-vick page:

Vick-timized: Giving Voice to the Voiceless OnesCommunity · 595 like this

 

(Photo used is from the Peta petition.)