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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The Ballad of The Furg….

I find it hard to keep up with my blog.  Most days I suppose I don’t have much to say.  The holiday season doesn’t help, as it adds so much pressure and longer work hours for me.

So, what’s new….I finally gave the dog a much-needed bath today, which is one chore off of the mountain I’d been neglecting.  It kept getting put back because of all the rain; what’s the purpose of washing her when she’s going to get muddy?

While washing the dog isn’t necessarily fun (especially since I know she hates it), watching the after-show party always is.  Most dogs aren’t nuts about the bath, but they always seem to get some turbo-boost of energy afterwards, running all around the home and crashing into things.  Furgii’s a smaller dog (12 lbs.), so it’s even more amusing I’d think, than with a bigger dog since she’s small and flies all around with incredible agility.  I also love the sound of her feet pattering all over the carpets and the constant dry-off shake which she does so vigorously her back legs come off the floor.  She provided a lot of laughs today, and it’s only 10:45, having gotten up about three hours ago.

My Furg is a rescue, and all future pets will be as well.  She’s my first or second pet depending on how you count.  My “first” dog was Chance, and I only had him five weeks.  He had an illness that was too severe for me to manage on my own.  His disease was undiagnosed at the time.  I had even written a song for him, “Taking a Chance”, in anticipation of getting him.  The song is about, after what happened to my stepson and my marriage, that maybe it was him saving me rather than the other way around.  He is an amazing dog, and we had bonded in pretty much three days.  It was an incredible experience, but it wasn’t to be.  It was and still is heartbreaking.  Hence I got Furgii.

Now, The Furg was muuuuch slower to open up and bond.  She was okay here, and okay being with me, but I didn’t realize how many levels there were to her trust and comfort until they opened up one by one.  Chance seemed to know in a day that I loved him and would never hurt him.  He knew I was his new owner, and loved back almost instantaneously.  She was so slow to do the same.

I’ve had her almost a year and a half now.  Her story is that a young woman in North Carolina was at work and saw Furgii wandering across the parking lot.  She had a collar, but no tag or microchip.  The woman and her husband posted around to attract her owner to no avail.  They contacted a rescue, but the rescue was so booked they offered to pay for the bills if the couple would foster her.  Six months later (June 26, 2010), I adopted her.  It was a month after I had to give up Chance.

They didn’t know her name, so she was “Girl” for a bit, then “Sweet Pea”, and then “Peanut”.  It was as Peanut that I adopted her.  I wasn’t crazy about the name, and she’d only had it six months, so I changed it to Furgii, after the singer, Fergie, my celebrity crush.  I apologize if this joke offends you, but it was a joke that gave her the name.  I was deciding what I would call her, and thought, “If I name her Fergie, then I could say that Fergie’s my bitch, and I’d be telling the truth.”  Well the joke might be in poor taste and not very good, but the name stuck, although I altered the spelling.  The new spelling was inspired by Finnish hockey players with names like “Niiniimaa” and “Niitimakii”.  It took at least six months for her to get that she’s “Furgii”, but she definitely does now.

I often wonder how she ended up wandering around North Carolina in January 2010.  Did she escape?  Did some piece of shit owner just turn her loose to fend for herself?  The first thought is heart-wrenching, and the second one is maddening.  She is my blessing now, that’s all I do know.

I eventually wrote a song for her, too.  It’s called “Piinuts”, after the name she came with, but given a spelling like her new name.  The gist of it is about having “searched for Chances, but ending up with Piinuts.  It all came down to Piinuts”.  I tried to have the music tell a story by having several movements which come full circle at the end back to the starting point.

She came with a thyroid problem (hypothyroidism), of which I was aware going in.  She takes a very cheap synthetic hormone to correct the problem, as people do for the same illness.  However, she also had two seizures in my first 11 days with her (day 3 and 11).  When I contacted the foster parents, they were unaware of this problem in her and were rather shocked.  As I said, they were not a part of the rescue itself, and I doubt they were ever duplicitous regarding her health.  They are a young couple, they both work, and they may simply never have seen any evidence of seizures.

The woman had offered that they had set off a Hartz flea bomb about a month before I’d adopted her.  Furgii had never seemed effected, but the couple’s own Jack Russell had thrown up for three days afterward.  I mentioned this to my vet, but he didn’t think it factored in.  She was diagnosed as epileptic.

Of course, after my stepson’s abuse, the dissolution of my marriage, the five weeks with Chance (I do believe THAT “rescue” party failed to disclose his problems), I thought at this point that God hated me.  Something about the seizures never sat right with me, though.  Could they be from the flea bomb, after all, combined with having gotten comfortable at the foster home for six months after being on the street for an unknown length of time?  Now she was uprooted again.  Plus the foster home has two people and two other dogs, whereas here it was just me (a stranger) and no other pets?

After a year on the phenobarbital, I decided I needed to know for sure:  Did she need this medicine?  Long term use can cause organ problems, and it increased her hunger and thirst to unbelievable levels.  She’d always sniff around on the carpet hoping for something to eat, and then she’d beg all day.  When no food was forthcoming, she’d drink her entire water bowl just to fill her stomach with something.  This of course led to some accidents, but I felt bad that her experience was governed by a manic insatiability.  It had to be horrible for her.

I slowly, slowly, slowly decreased her phenobarbital doses starting in May from a full pill twice per day to a full pill in the morning and a half at night.  In August, I made it half a pill each time.  Just before Halloween, I would give her a half in the morning, and sometimes none in the evening if I was going to be home to observe her.  Finally, I was on vacation from October 29 through November 6.  I had run out of her pills, so it seemed like the time to cut it out all together.  At no point in the weening process had I seen a seizure or witnessed evidence of it, such as having vomited or eliminated in the apartment.

It is now three and a half weeks off of it, and still no episodes.  Her appetite and behavior are back to normal.  It was a hard decision to make to take her off the medicine.  I can’t imagine what I would have felt like if I was wrong.  But, whether as a pet parent or the parent of a human child, these are decisions we have to make.  In fact, I’ve had to make those as a human parent, too.

So, there’s the Ballad of The Furg.  I started this post not knowing what to write about, blabbered about her bath, and ended with her life story (as I know it).

Hope you enjoyed learning about her as much as I enjoy having her be my pet!