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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Why michael vick Proves There Is No God or Karma

Alrighty, how’s that for a title?  Provocative, I know.  But it’s how I feel.  I couldn’t think any lower of vick for his past.  In fact, you’ll notice I’ve taken a friend’s suggestion and disrespecting him by never capitalizing his name.

Yet with Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, and his team’s 3-1 start to the season, the fervor for this monster grows.  To have been reinstated into the NFL in the first place after electrocuting, beating, drowning and hanging innocent lives while also forcing them to fight to the death is unbelievable enough.  But how easily the Phickle Phans of Philthadelphia have been won over by his self-proclaimed “redemption” is simply maddening.  I have admittedly never been a person given to the ways of faith. But I’ve always wanted to be, believe it or not.  What little chance I could have had to move beyond the need for things to be scientifically tangible and incontrovertible, to believe in something greater, has been eradicated by the lack of Godly wraith or bad Karma to come vick’s way.

Sure, he spent 19 months in a minimum security prison for illegal gambling.  But he served ZERO jail time for animal cruelty and abuse.  The prosecutor in Virginia (from where vick hails and also where his dogfighting operation was) didn’t want to be the bad guy for going after the local sports hero.  If he had his way, vick would have served no jail time or at least less than the sentence given.  So the arguments I always hear of “he did his time” are extremely inaccurate.

Then Roger Goodell, the football league’s commissioner, could have set the standard by not allowing vick to return to the NFL.  Goodell entered his position as a man on a mission.  He fined and suspended people left and right, wanting to set the example of “zero tolerance” on behavior detrimental to the image of the league.  Yet, given the chance to ban vick forever and setting the bar where he claimed he wanted it, Goodell allowed vick’s return.

Now, I will admit some bias here, but my favorite team’s quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has had his own legal issues:  he was twice accused of sexual assault.  He was never found guilty on either charge.  I know it’s possible that he simply paid off the accusers as most believe.  But I also know that athletes and celebrities are targets for those seeking a payday.  I honestly don’t believe basketball’s Kobe Bryant raped the girl that accused him of such  in Colorado.  He did sleep with her, yes.  And he gave a woman the best paycheck of her life as a result.  So there is a 50% chance that Roethlisberger is innocent just as there’s a 50% chance he committed the crime.  But the only thing of which I KNOW he is guilty is being stupid enough to put himself in that position to be accused, especially after the first accusation.  I hope he didn’t do it, but I’ll never know one way or the other.  vick, on the other hand, is unquestionably guilty.

I bring this up because, after the second accusation, Goodell suspended Roethlisberger 4 games for being such an awful role model and potentially tarnishing the league’s image.  That same summer, vicky-boy threw a birthday party in which someone was shot.  vick didn’t do it, but the person who did was one of the crew with whom he hung out during his dogfighting days.  Goodell did nothing, though vick, already a controversial person, had shown an equally poor example of off-the-field decision making.  There is the possibility that Goodell didn’t want to look bad for having to punish the dirtbag he just pardoned.

Additionally, upon vick’s reinstatement and subsequent signing to the philadelphia eagles, his jersey was one of the top 2 in sales.  The fans didn’t care what he did.  His jersey to this day is still anywhere in the top 20 in sales.  I believe there are a great amount of his fans that love the fact that such a thug made good and went back to earn millions.  I will be fair here and mention that he doesn’t get to keep all of that money.  He has many debts to pay as part of his sentence.  He has even become richer, however, by many companies signing endorsement deals with him.  These include Nike, Musclepharm, and Subway.  He even has his own clothing line.  I and others I know have boycotted these companies, and have informed those companies as to why.

But here he is, making more than I ever will short of a lottery win, being adored by the masses (and not just in Killadelphia), and unfortunately succeeding on the field to such an extent that his inhumane and simply INHUMAN crimes are a distant memory to most.

So, if there is the God of which Judeo-Christian faith speaks, and/or there is a celestial force weighing Karma, why is this the case?  I don’t want to hear that the guilty are punished in the next life.  Why is he being so rewarded in this one?  And I’ll make the same argument for Roethlisberger if he is, in fact, guilty of sexual assault.  Why is he, too, rewarded if so?  

And why does all of this matter to me so much?  I often wonder if I’m wrong for fighting so hard against injustice, and for taking injustice so personally.  I’d definitely be a much happier person if I could let it go.  Should I just be one of the many uncaring citizens of the Philadelphia area, and only worry about the entertainment value of the game, and forget about the rest?  Should I just let sleeping dogs lie, and let dead dogs die?

As I said, I believe some buy into the sick following of vick BECAUSE of his past.  Dogfighting in this area has actually gone up 300% since his arrival.  Maybe they figure they’ll get off with 19 months, too, should they be caught.  Some truly believe that he is a transformed man, and that there is sincerity in his monotoned PSAs and court- and agent-ordered charity donations.  And many, like a girl with whom I work, simply can’t be bothered with thinking about him as more than a win or a loss for her team.  I tried explaining to her that I no longer support the eagles because they signed vick, and that I will never forgive him for his disgusting past.  She said, “I don’t know anything about that”, and walked away before she could be educated about “that”.  She knew, but didn’t want to deal with it.  It was literally an inconvenient truth.  I feel that this is the category in which most fans reside.

I find myself thinking that perhaps I should also ignore all of the truths and just deal with wins and losses and championship titles.  But then I think about a dog being tortured in the most agonizing ways.  I think of a man who admitted the pleasure he got watching them tear each other to pieces, and feeling the lives leave their bodies as he did away with those who lost fights or showed no aggression.

I also think more and more of just never watching a sport I love ever again, because it hurts my soul to watch injustices of the most heinous nature be rewarded in every possible way.