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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Letting Go of an Anger That’s Consumed Me

405175_346201918794220_1807893270_nThis is a tale of heartache, anger, release, and personal growth for me….

“Yeah, fine, I killed the dogs. I hung them. I slammed them. I killed all of them. I lost fucking millions, all over some fucking dogs.” ~ Michael Vick (from the article that inspired this post, and here is the link: http://dogtime.com/trending/28239-michael-vick-deserve-forgiveness-nfl-fans-draw-line?utm_source=DogTime+Newsletter&utm_campaign=ba04f5aa7a-CatTime_Newsletter_289_9_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_60528d8c03-ba04f5aa7a-155110501)

This is why I have such a hard time with the topic of Vick and the NFL, even refusing to watch for two years. It’s why I have such a hard time forgiving the franchises that signed him and forgiving the fans that root for him and his teams despite his deeds. Just seeing that Eagles logo (which is everywhere since I’m in the Philadelphia area) would ignite my temper.  The worst for me was seeing people who claimed they were huge dog lovers but continued to support the team, even putting Eagles-themed merchandise such as collars and doggie tees on their pets.

I’m trying, though, really working to move past the anger and disgust and disbelief I have over the millions he’s been paid since, the status he’s been allowed to re-obtain, and the indifference of the owners and majority of fans. It’s been difficult to comprehend that six points on a billboard sponsored by Coors Light matter more to the majority of sports fans in this area than what’s right. It may always be a struggle for me, but I’m trying.

I can’t see ever forgiving Vick, though, for he has never shown himself to be remorseful for his actions. I may never forgive those that gave him the millions, either.

But I know that holding the anger I have had toward the fans isn’t hurting them one bit, I’ve just been hurting myself. I will still refuse to support the Eagles, and will not support the Steelers, the team I turned to when the Eagles signed Vick and for whom he now plays.

I am now pulling for the success of a third team, one that regularly faces the Eagles, because I value morality over entertainment, period. I know that I am not alone in this, but I also know that I am not able to make those not of my inclinations see it my way, either. If anyone is to ever come to share my values at all, they must come to that realization in their own time.

So in the meantime, I will work on letting that anger go.

It’s important to note that a story of the NFL paying for injury research performed on animals factored into my decision to no longer watch. This increased the volume of fire generated by my anger. I have to get over the rage from this as well, hoping that change can be made to stop this from happening.  There is a petition for exactly that at the end of this post. One thing that has come to my mind recently is that I haven’t refused to take medicines for my health despite knowing they were tested on animals in most cases.  Again, I can can only work and hope others join me to stop this.

So in light of this, I watched football last night, my first game in years, rooting for the Giants, a team that has no known sexual or domestic assailants, child abusers, murderers, or horrific torturers of man’s best friend. Some have said that I “caved” or that I “couldn’t back up my convictions.”

But I know that’s not the case. I know what’s in my heart, and I know how deeply and strongly my convictions run. I know that this is me trying to move past an anger, an obsession even, that has only hurt myself and not the objects of my disdain. It’s therapeutic for me to attempt this. I tried watching a game last year, but once I saw that Eagles logo on the field and the fans in the stands, I had to turn the game off. The rage and disgust started brewing instantly. I don’t know if I’ll ever hold the same love of the game, have the same emotional investment in it that I used to. But I need to write a new page, for my own sake. I have to make peace with the things I cannot change, because I’ve damaged the innermost parts of me by setting emotional fires everywhere I could. My compromise is that I will not purchase anything which feeds the revenue stream of the league.  If I choose to replace a hat or t-shirt, etc., I will buy something used or something older off of ebay, which is actually a conscientious thing to do anyway. It’s a form of recycling.

As for Vick himself, I can only hope I’m wrong about his apparent lack of humanity, humility, and compassion. And as for those teams by whom he’s been employed since and the fans in question, they don’t want or need my love, nor do they care about my beliefs and principals. I’m going to have to learn to be fine with that.

The petition to stop the animal injury testing:

https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5019

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Awesome anti-dogfighting video (don’t worry, it’s not graphic):

https://video-lga1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hvideo-xap1/v/l/t42.1790-2/1482680_328559340615420_420959628_n.mp4?efg=eyJxZSI6InZpZGVvX3ByZWZlcnJlZF90YWdzXzIwMTUwMTIxLDIwMTUwMTAxIiwicmxyIjo0ODksInJsYSI6NTEyfQ%3D%3D&rl=489&vabr=272&oh=5295079a670e4042c6612420c2afbda6&oe=55F85588

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Where you can purchase the “Pits Over Points” shirt shown above:

http://www.etsy.com/transaction/1058186024?campaign_label=transaction_buyer_notification&utm_source=Steelhouse&utm_campaign=Display_DynamicRTG_General2_300x250&utm_medium=display&utm_content=&email_sent=1441235192&euid=unIIMLRjPPRkp-EgVaO_Bg15cbsG&eaid=29921430779&x_eaid=60544d6130

Geek Chic

IMG_1903I guess you’d say I was a late bloomer; I hung onto my childhood vices of reading comics, watching and reading science fiction films, programs, and books, and playing role-playing games well through high school and into my 20s.  In fact, I’m not a great artist, but I’m above average, and I credit comic books for teaching me most of what I know about drawing and anatomy.  But this was something you didn’t divulge back then in the ’80s and ’90s….unless you wanted to be even more publicly ostracized than you likely already were and make those teenage years of being an artistic geek rather than a football player even more of a living Hell.

Flash forward 15 years, and I was driving past the comic shop I used to frequent, and, out of a sense of nostalgia, I picked up some comics to read while on vacation. The next thing I knew, I was back to reading them regularly.

The difference is that now the universe has turned on its ear, and geek culture is about as mainstream as anything can possibly get.  There are gym rats working out in Captain America t-shirts, adult-sized hoodies that look like superhero costumes, sci/fi and superhero movies are the hugest box office hits, and people don’t think twice about any of it.  Target, Old Navy, and various stores at the mall sell Star Wars and comic book t-shirts, hats, and accessories.  Somehow, inexplicably, even the British cult television show Dr. Who has made a major surge into American popular culture and acceptability.   Would a show like Big Bang Theory have had such popularity and such an impact on merchandizing 20 years ago?  Would Game of Thrones be the best thing on T.V., viewed, discussed, and anticipated by so many?  I can’t honesty see either as having happened, but somehow escapist fantasy has taken over.  It’s so weird to see the things for which I worried about getting beaten up becoming ‘the new black’, to see Geek Chic become the norm.

But I want to be clear that I’m not too bitter about this development.  I think it’s wonderful to be able to wear an Iron Man t-shirt, or say that I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, without being looked at as an immature man-child.  It’s relieving to see things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life finally becoming something everyone loves.  There are folks that like to play at being some rebel, liking a band when hardly anyone knows them, but resenting that band once they achieve a measure of success.  I think that’s a pretty pathetic mindset, and I won’t have that attitude about the Realm of All Things Nerdy opening its portals to the masses.  I instead choose to rejoice in the fact that my childhood and teenage loves got their due.  I even got back into the role-playing games 2 years ago, and hardly anyone bats an eye when we meet in the food court at Wegman’s to play.

I suppose that it’s all because Star Wars as a franchise has thrilled so many despite the terrible ‘prequels’.  Or maybe it was that, as later generations picked up on the Star Wars franchise, they also had their imaginations piqued by Harry Potter, the fantastically written and portrayed series (I consider it the Star Wars for their time).  Maybe it’s just the fact that so many of the superhero movies are so entertaining.  Perhaps it’s because of a major confluence of all these things, and more.

I’m not sure how it happened; I’m just glad it did, that things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life are finally getting their due and being enjoyed by so many.  I love that NERD is the word, and that GEEK is chic.  You know what?  Maybe this means that I was actually an early bloomer after all….

I’m envious of the quality of writing in this article. It’s a few years old, but I just came across it. In light of all the fuss over alleged death threats against vick and the subsequent cancellation of his book signing tour (as if he wrote the damned thing–he can barely conjure a credible sentence), I think all of the facts presented here are as staggering a testimonial to truth and decency as I’ve seen with the exception of the book “The Lost Dogs” by Jim Gorant. In response to his tour cancellation, vick asked why animal activists still feel the need to bash him after all these years. This article answers it perfectly, and then some.

Chris Durant's World

Michael Vick was Wrongly Convicted!

Since this past Monday and more specifically for the majority of the Philadelphia Eagles sensational season, I have heard so many people touting Michael Vick. Oh yeah, “Michael Vick has really turned it around, “ etc.

And now, Barrack Obama, the President of the United States, the de facto leader of the Free World, thought it would be a good idea to chirp in and toss a little praise his way as well by taking the time to make a phone call (while on vacation in Hawaii) to the owner of the Eagles and commend him for giving Vick a 2nd chance.

REALLY!?!?

(Here’s your class act role model Mr. President)

I think anyone who thinks that Michael Vick has paid his debt and is a reformed individual needs to take a little walk down memory lane and remind themselves just what this so-called man…

View original post 1,872 more words

“Turn Up Light and Sound”

I saw the band Rush on Friday, October 12th.  Rush is a band I’ve loved since 1989, and they’ve been a musical and lyrical inspiration since then.  In fact, I credit them with expanding my own lyrical skill in the first place.    MusicallyRush has always been a creator of challenging and interesting material, and have influenced and inspired uncountable amounts of musicians over their 38-year recording career.  Geddy Lee is still my all-time favorite bass player, Neil Peart is one of the most widely recognized monarchs of the drum kit as well as of lyrics, and Alex Lifeson is an unbelievable guitar player, capable of very emotional and technical solos, and able to play an incredible array of styles.

A picture on my wall of Geddy Lee. It was taken by the band’s late longtime photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan.

I only saw them once, in 1990 or ’91, and  I sat way up in the 3rd level.  As a result, I didn’t feel like I was even there.  I was also very young, had the attention span of a gnat, and wasn’t mentally able to take it all in.  I wanted to see them last year, on their  tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their signature album, Moving Pictures.  Veterinary bills kept me from being able to attend, and there was no way I was missing this one in support of their newest album.  It was absolutely amazing.

Detractors of the band have consistently pinpointed one reason for not liking Rush, and that’s Geddy’s voice. He’s known for singing in a very high register, and it was especially stratospheric in the earlier part of their career.  His voice can’t quite do the highs as much anymore, and it’s reflected on the last 2 albums in the lower range he chooses.  I’m curious as to how much that effects their decision when choosing which songs to perform.  One thing to consider when analyzing his performance is that he sings while playing some incredibly complex bass lines, as well as the synthesizer parts.  He’s practically a band unto himself.

The show definitely focused on the latter-half of their career, with the exception of classics that would be murderous of them not to include, such as their hugest commercial success, Tom Sawyer.  And Geddy’s voice held up better than I expected.

Rush, as a group, have a very jovial way about them, and this always translates onto their tours, despite the seriousness of their album content.  They always do slapstick films on the rear projection screen, have roadies run on stage in bizarre outfits, and have done things over the last few tours such as having washing machines on stage out of which roadies take t-shirts to throw into the audience and having a chicken rotisserie which roadies come out to baste while wearing chef’s hats and aprons.

While I was intent on taking the show in and not missing anything (who knows how many more tours there’ll be), some of the glow still disperses as daily life overtakes the memories.  Thanks to the magic of youtube, however, there’s an entire catalogue of performances recorded on cell phones (with surprising quality), including the show I saw in Philadelphia.  Getting to rekindle the magic is priceless.

As for the album they’re supporting on this tour:  Rush, in the past, has done numerous long songs (entire sides of albums, sometimes) with a story being told via the lyrics.  The latest offering, Clockwork Angels, is a full concept album, and it’s also surprisingly heavy musically.  One treat that they did this time was work with author Kevin J. Anderson to produce the story as a novel as well.  The novel helps to make more sense of the album since Anderson had 300 pages to work with as opposed to 12 songs.

In the book, Anderson (who has been friends with Peart for many years) drops lines from Rush songs and other references that long-time fans will understand throughout the text.  Inspired by this, as well as the experience of the concert, I wrote a poem which uses song titles in the same way.  I also chose a really obscure rhyme scheme.  Instead of using couplets or rhyming every other line , I waited 3 lines after the initial one to rhyme.  I did this to honor the 3 members of the band.

Turn Up Light and Sound (What a Rush) 10/14/12

A 22-year devotion,

To see these 3 on lighted stage

The aural assault, the lighting’s dance–

An evening charged with emotion!

And as these stars advance in age,

There may not be another chance,

So I ponied up what entry cost.

It didn’t matter, to make this night;

I’d work out paying bills somehow.

I couldn’t bear this opportunity lost,

To miss them in latest limelight

Circumstances I couldn’t allow.

Stage hands scrambled all about;

I sensed the countdown impending.

They made their final preparations

Before the band could come out

To amaze all who were attending,

And feeding all our anticipations.

Like a body electric, the stage came alight;

We watched the big screen animate.

You bet your life I had to be there,

Hear those mystic rhythms that night,

An evening to leave our mortal state

And revel in a show beyond compare.

And hours later, to have been exposed

To a musicianship, a stagecraft

Lovingly honed for 4+ decades,

To some of the greatest rock composed,

A spectacle upon which we can graft,

And a euphoria that meets the accolades.

Nothing lacked in their chemistry,

Other bands seen a far cry from this.

I wished for a time stand still, to perceive,

Savor, prolong the sweet miracle before me,

For vapor trails become of this bliss.

I pray the afterimage will never leave.

 

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

Rush – YYZ Live 10/1212 Philadelphia PA Wells Fargo Complete Killer Multicam HD Show 2012www.youtube.comAwesome show. as always with this amazing band.this is one camera angle out of 4 that will be an amazing mix. if intrested inthe complete show email me at ba…

“The Anarchist” Rush@Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia 10/12/12 Clockwork Angels Tourwww.youtube.comThe Anarchist, Rush, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA; October 12th, 2012; Clockwork Angels Tour

Rush – Tom Sawyer – Philadelphia 10/12/12www.youtube.comWells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA, October 12, 2012. Entire show filmed (stage shot), partial show (screen).

RUSH – “Headlong Flight” – Official Lyric Videowww.youtube.comThe official lyric video for “Headlong Flight” – the first single from the new album Clockwork Angels – available everywhere June 12th. Pre-order here: http:…

RUSH – “The Wreckers” Official Lyric Videowww.youtube.comThe official lyric video for “The Wreckers” – the new single from the album Clockwork Angels

Subdivisions – Rushwww.youtube.com”Subdivisions” is a Rush song often considered to be describing feelings of isolation, boredom, conformity, and sadness springing up from teenage life in the…

clockwork-angels-hardcover-book.html

Clockwork Angels