Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

22 July, 2014

INTERESTING SKIT ILLUSTRATES THE ROLE OF PARENTING

I have great respect for Rev. Bob Johnston, a retired United Church minister who is extremely active in the community of Saugeen Shores.  A marvelous speaker and writer with an ability to deliver down-to-earth messages, Rev. Bob has an interesting perspective on parenting that should be passed on to all young couples today.

When leading parenting seminars, Rev. Bob Johnston's favorite moments centre around the topic of  "discipline". To introduce the subject, the teaching tool he relies on is a skit which begins by imagining the delightful image of three newborn, woolly lambs wobbling on shaky legs as they take their first tentative steps. Three parents volunteer to become those little creatures and huddle together in the centre of the room. The group then chooses a "hungry old lion” from their midst to lurk near the lambs.
Bob then invites the remaining parents to discuss among themselves what their lambs will require to avoid being eaten by that prowling carnivore. The answer comes quickly and inevitably involves building a fence. At that point, he "volunteers" several parents to create that fence by surrounding the lambs with their arms outstretched, linking one fence post to another and closing the circle.

This skit represents, though allegory, his philosophy underlying child discipline. "The little lambs, our children and grandchildren, need to be kept safe from the dangers of that big world outside the crib," he explains. Electrical outlets, the hot stove, those speeding cars on the street, steep stairs, deep water or the rare but scary threat of some stranger, can each bring harm to an unsuspecting child and these are represented by that 'lurking lion'."

The "fences" are parental rules designed to protect the child who, at an early age, lacks his or her own sense of danger. Bob further explains: "I use the example of the toddler living next to a busy road. A loving Mom or Dad will build a wire mesh or wooden fence to keep their little one away from the enticing lure of the street. The youngster will likely cry and complain loudly about their lack of freedom. The wise parent never succumbs to those tears by dismantling the fence."

He continues: "Fast forward a decade or so. The parents are now setting a reasonable curfew, insisting on supervision of on-line digital activity, monitoring homework and choice of friends. The teen may loudly complain about a perceived 'lack of freedom'.  The parent holds firm!" 

Back to his skit for a moment. The little lambs will gradually require more room to graze and roam. The fence must be gradually expanded to allow that growth to take place. Similarly, a wise parent gradually increases a child's freedom as he or she demonstrates an ability to make self-chosen wise choices.


Unlike those lambs, the growing child should be gradually involved in defining and modifying those rules. As adult employees, we always feel better about company policy if we are consulted before decisions are made and implemented.

Remember those fence posts standing with arms raised? It gets tiring after a while. At that point in the skit, Bob asks the participants how each is feeling. When each complains about fatigue, he suggests they drop their arms. The reply is always ... "We can't because the lion will get the lambs!"

Being a parent, caregiver or grandparent is hard work. Making and maintaining rules can be the hardest part of the job. We don't give in to a child's premature and unwise demands for "more freedom".  The goal is not to be momentarily popular with that little one, but to be protective even when it results in unpopularity.

"That toddler stuck behind the fence will, 10 years down the road, thank Mom and Dad for their protection," Pastor Bob emphasizes. "When teens become adults with kids of their own, they will similarly thank those parents who cared enough to set reasonable limits during those turbulent adolescent years."

As always, a wonderfully creative illustration from a man who knows whereof he speaks.  I always enjoy him.

15 July, 2014

ROSANNE IS CAUTIOUS ABOUT ME OUTGROWING MY HAT SIZE

Chapter on "Rosanneisms" from my book Wrights Lane...Come On In!
It's been a while since I added to my list of "Rosanneisms", but that does not mean that my wife has stopped coming up with them.

Earlier today for instance Rosanne gave me a personal compliment.  I won't go into detail, but she ended her unexpected revelation by offering: "I don't say that very often because I don't want you to get a fat head." To which I added with typical tongue-in-cheek: "I know...If there is anything worse than a big head it's a fat head!"

"You've got that right!" was her earnest reply.

"The Word" According to Rosanne (continued)


03 July, 2014

I'M A PRETENDER WITH AN AVOIDANT PERSONALITY DISORDER

Pretender: "Giving the appearance of feeling or possessing an emotion or quality; to simulate."

Avoidant personality disorder: "Long-standing feelings of inadequacy, extremely sensitive to what others think."

I do a lot of thinking, frequently at my own peril. I guess I am a bit masochistic in that regard.

In a fit of personal assessment and soul-searching in recent days, I have been thinking about how much of a pretender I have been most of my life. As an impressionable youngster growing up in the 1940`s, I fantasized about being a cowboy, an army hero, a great athlete and a Hollywood movie star...Nothing really unnatural or wrong about that, only problem is -- I never stopped pretending to be things that I was not.

The older I got, the more I began to emulate certain characteristics and personae that I thought others expected of me. The end result being that I imposed undue pressure on myself, trying to be and pretending to be things that I was not. I will not elaborate on the ways in which I evolved into a living, breathing contradiction of my true self, but believe me when I say that there have been many, the spectrum running through professional endeavors, intellect, writing, sports activities, personal relationships and religious beliefs. Perhaps in most cases I was compensating for shortcomings and mere adequacy, always striving for favourable reception and ultimate impact.

Suffice to say, I have not always been as idealistically committed and adept as I may have appeared on the surface. A Mr. Perfect on one hand, but a suppressed doubting Thomas on the other.

In retrospect I have passed myself off as being, and representing, many things that were quite unnatural for me and I have had to work very hard at keeping up a false pretence in most cases. When I could no longer cope with the pretend situations that I had created for myself, I would not be beyond abruptly walking away from them (call it "quitting" if you want) and in the process many times leaving others scratching their heads in wonderment over what had prompted my impulsive actions. As one who struggles with an avoidant personality disorder, I more often than not blamed everything and everybody but myself for what had transpired. Sadly, in the process, I damaged relationships and forever tarnished people's impressions of me.

It has taken almost 77 years to come to grips with my self-damaging personality traits and I am just now starting to learn to stop worrying about what other people think, or expect, of me. The reality that I no longer have to pretend to be what I am not, has relieved me of a great weight. Almost too little too late, my task now is to be true only to myself and to capture the genuine happiness and personal acceptance that has eluded me for so long.

In many respects, it is almost like starting all over again and discovering who and what I really am. At this point, I am still not sure...It will be a personal day-to-day process, peeling off the many layers of pretence and not subjecting myself to situations that I may eventually be compelled to escape from...Subsequent discovery should be fun and self-fulfilling.

I have come to understand that there is a fine and dangerous line between imaging and pretending, if you know what I mean. There is an equally narrow divide between believing and pretending to believe and we must have the wisdom to know the difference, particularly when dealing with people and matters of the soul.

A fellow by the name of Andre Malraux once said: “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” I believe that to be true.

So sorry folks, but it turns out that I am what I am. No more pretending otherwise. There is also a very good possibility that I am not what you expected me to be. Perhaps this self admission comes as a disappointment and you have the option of accepting it or rejecting it. Either way, I will not allow myself to worry about it. Gone are the days when I sought to win 'em all! Gone also are the times when I had something to hide!

Hopefully and more importantly, I will be more comfortable with the simple, less compromised, what-you- see-is-what-you-get ME that is emerging. After all, I am stuck with that guy for the duration -- for better or worse...Warts and wrinkles notwithstanding.

I am now at a stage in life where with each passing day I accept the fact that I have become a little less capable, and a lot more forgetful.  Unlike in the past, I am not losing sleep over any of that either. While I do not advocate it, in a way I'm kind of glad that pretending got me this far.  Ultimately, I fooled only myself.

To repeat: I am what I am...And it is what it is!

01 July, 2014

IN SOUTHAMPTON THE CANADIAN FLAG FLIES HIGH...VERY HIGH


Anyone who has visited Southampton during summer months will have marveled at the towering Canadian flag on the Shores of Lake Huron at the foot of High Street.
As with any change, the establishing and raising of a gigantic Canada flag was a contentious issue in Southampton on the Lake Huron coast in the 1970's.  While many thought it a "hair-brained scheme" there were others who thought it a perfect way to celebrate Southampton's 135th anniversary, with a 135 ft. flag pole to mark each year of the town, topped by a giant 25 x 50 ft. flag weighing in excess of 50 pounds.

While the original flag was raised by a manual crank, today it is electrically operated.  The project was conceived of by residents Ron and Thead Seaman, Ted Quenell and Frank Eagleson in 1992 and was entirely funded through private and corporate donations.  The size and cost of the project, which was the largest undertaking on Lake Huron at the time, was doubted by many but the four men persisted and insisted that it could be done without government funding and wanted it to be a source of pride for the community celebrating its 135th anniversary.
A granite marker at the foot of the flag bears the name, "Friends of the Flag" and is an ongoing tribute to those who have and continue to donate to the upkeep of the flag and the surrounding grounds.  Many names have been engraved in memoriam and others are local organizations that contributed to the special Southampton icon.  The base, excavation and most of the engineering were all donated.  "It was incredible," says Ron Seaman.  "The entire community came together to get the project completed in time for Canada Day."

According to Seaman, the flag began as a 'peoples' project to be completed and maintained through private contributions and fundraising.  Today, the project continues to be maintained entirely through private donations, including the surrounding landscape that was completed by the Friends of the Flag.  There are approximately 20 'flag captains' who watch the marine weather forecast carefully on a weekly rotational basis and, if the winds reach 20 naughts, the weekly 'captain' in charge will lower the giant flag as quickly as possible.

"Like anything else," says Seaman, "the project requires funding to be maintained. Each flag must be replaced, if not annually at least every second year because of weather deterioration, and each flag costs $1,800. We are hoping that people who take pride in the iconic Southampton attraction will step forward, as those in the past have, to help the Friends of the Flag in keeping the tradition alive."

(With thanks to the Saugeen Times)

28 June, 2014

SPEND EVERYTHING IN YOUR DEPOSIT ACCOUNT, LIVE IT UP!

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest: Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400.00 in your private account for your use. However, this prize has rules, just as any game has certain rules. The first set of rules would be:

*Everything that you did not spend during each day would be taken away from you.

*You may not transfer money into some other account.

*Only you may spend it.

Here are the second set of rules:

*The bank can end the game without warning. At any time it can say, Its over, the game is over!

*It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do? You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right? You would probably jump out of bed before the sun came up just to get your “spending” going!

In reality we actually do have an “account” that gets an automatic deposit every day – but it’s not in dollars … it’s in TIME! Each and every day we get 86,400 seconds and we get to spend our time pretty much however we’d like.

Use this simple concept to help you enhance your life – get up each morning with gusto and make your moments count!

--Acknowledgements to Mary Writer,  Inspiration By God Newsletter.

07 June, 2014

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, DO IT AGAIN -- ONLY DIFFERENTLY

OVERHEARD:  A bicycle-riding, bearded young man (presumably a father) dressed in cutoff jeans and baseball cap, commenting to three youngsters also on bikes:  "Just because you fall doesn't mean that you quit doing it...Just get up and do it again, only try doing it differently this time!"

"Great advice!" I yelled at him as they passed by our house.

"That's right," he replied, glancing back at me, rather surprised that I had acknowledged him.  

"There's a good dad," I thought to myself as the bikers made their way up the street.

Sometimes it's the small things that make my day.

18 May, 2014

DREAMS ABOUT BASEBALL NOT NECESSARILY A HIT WITH ME

I read the other day that to dream you are playing baseball denotes your need to establish goals and to achieve them, and that it is time to stop goofing around and to set your sights for the long term. I was further amused to learn that, according to one dream expert, the game of baseball also has sexual innuendos, where the masculine aspects are depicted by the bat and the feminine aspects depicted in the form of the ball or the ballpark.

I found it equally revealing that to dream you are on a baseball field indicates that you need to pay attention to opportunities that are coming your way.

Now, I ask you, at 76 years of age, what "opportunities" could possibly be coming my way? As for the sexual innuendos...All I can think of are words from the unforgettable Meat Loaf song "Paradise by the Dashboard's Light" from the 1977 album "Bat Out of Hell."   It is a duet between Meat Loaf (his real name was Marvin Lee Aday) and singer Ellen Foley that chronicles a young couple as they debate whether or not to “go all the way tonight”.
Meat Loaf performing with Ellen Foley.

The raucous, fever-pitched song is also notable for an extended sequence in which then-New York Yankees play-by-play announcer Phil Rizzuto ostensibly narrates a baseball game. This play-by-play over a car radio serves as a metaphor for the young lovers going “around the bases”. Here is Rizzuto's description of the play on the field.

"Ok, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker
going here, two down, nobody on, no score,
bottom of the ninth, there's the wind-up and
there it is, a line shot up the middle, look
at him go. This boy can really fly!
He's rounding first and really turning it on
now, he's not letting up at all, he's gonna
try for second; the ball is bobbled out in center,
and here comes the throw, and what a throw!
He's gonna slide in head first, here he comes, he's out!
No, wait, safe--safe at second base, this kid really
makes things happen out there.
Batter steps up to the plate, here's the pitch--
he's going, and what a jump he's got, he's trying
for third, here's the throw, it's in the dirt--
safe at third! Holy cow, stolen base!
He's taking a pretty big lead out there, almost
daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher
glances over, winds up, and it's bunted, bunted
down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on!
Here he comes, squeeze play, it's gonna be close,
here's the throw, there's the play at the plate,
holy cow, I think he's gonna make it!"

As the play-by-play concludes, Ellen asks Meat Loaf:  "Do you love me, really really love me?  I got to know right now before we go any further, do you love me, will you love me forever? Will you make me your wife?  What's it gonna be boy?..."  And Meat, now in a complete frenzy, replies "Let me sleep on it Babe. Babe I'll give you an answer in the morning."

Apart from reading between the lines, the rest is left up to the imagination of the listener. Any way you look at it though, it is a pretty sexy song that involves the game of baseball and I've always loved it.

Now, "why in the world would an article on baseball dreams catch your interest in the first place," you might well ask?

Well you see, I have several recurring dreams about playing baseball. That in itself is not too surprising because I spent the first third of my life deeply involved in the game of baseball both as a player at an advanced level and later as a manager and coach. Without exaggeration, the game was my life. I just cannot fathom why I dream about it all these years later, however.

In the dreams that  have been repeated literally hundreds of times over the past 40 years, I am an aging over-the-hill wannabe on a baseball field. In one dream scenario I find myself in the outfield when the ball is hit in my direction. It is a fly ball that I would have normally caught with ease, but in this instance my legs weigh a hundred pounds each and I am running in slow motion -- very slow motion.  When I finally do catch up to the ball that has come to rest on the grass, I cannot throw it back to the infield because my arm is stiff beyond belief and I cannot lift it beyond my shoulder...I end up tossing it awkwardly underhand to the nearest player.

In the other dream, I struggle frantically to put on my uniform before a baseball game but, once again, each piece goes on in slow motion. Try as I may, I just cannot hurry.  I'm still not completely dressed as the game begins and it seems like I am never going to make it onto the playing field.  As the game progresses, my baseball glove suddenly disappears and then I get lost trying to make my way out of the dressing room.  I never quite make it and enviously watch the final inning from the stands, feeling very removed from the game in which I was once so actively involved.

So what are these dreams trying to tell me?  No question that I am too old to engage in the game of baseball...That I can no longer make plays on the diamond...That I would have trouble getting to first base even if I did hit the ball.  I came to grips with the reality of being an over-the-hill athlete many years ago. If I were to have a goal now or a "dream", it would be to hit a home run and to dash around the bases one more time. Now, that would be real gratification.

But what about the sexual innuendos and the "opportunities"  I should be looking for?  Surely none of this applies to my current advanced stage of life, as one dream expert would have me believe.

Or does it?  Know what?...I'm not really sure. Now you've got me thinking!

Is there a parallel between baseball and sex in one's life?  Is one synonymous with the other?  Or can you have one without the other?  I'm not even going to explore that possibility in this post.  The truth would be just too painful.  Some things have to remain sacred in a man's life.

Like Meat Loaf, I'm going to sleep on it...!

10 May, 2014

ON THE EVE OF MOTHER'S DAY...I REMEMBER GRACE

Mother's Day pictures worth a thousand words:  "Happy as usual to have picture taken!  May 1942."  Written by my mother on the back of the photo to the left.
It was traditional for my mother and I to have a photo taken together on Mother's Day.  For reasons that I cannot really remember, I was never happy about it.  Looking back on those photos, I do not think that she was overly thrilled either...Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I had to be forced to pose with my mother and we ended up having an argument about it before my dad was able to snap the picture.

It was like that with Grace Wright and her only child.  We rarely saw eye to eye.  Things did not improve much between the two of us after my father passed away when I was 14 years of age.  I left home for good before my 18th birthday, but in my mother's eyes I remained tied to her apron strings.

My mother (I always called her Grace, which may tell you something) loved me beyond words...There were just times when she had a strange way of showing it.  I never quite met up to her expectations and she did not hesitate to remind me of that fact. "Other sons do not treat their mothers the way you do me...Jim Ruttle and Danny Burns do not act that way towards their mother...You are an ungrateful son...Why can't you be like other sons?  What did I do to ever deserve a son like you?...Some day you will be sorry...You are driving me to distraction...Some day you'll find my body floating up the Sydenham River (suicide) and it will be all your fault."  Always about her! Words that remain ingrained in my heart and soul.

Equally strong in my memory are the razor straps, brooms, yard sticks and fly swatters all amply applied without aim to any part of my body that happened to be exposed.  Funny, I do not recall her ever using her bare hand.  I no doubt did things to prompt those reactions, but I do not remember what.  I am sure that there were times when I disappointed her and did not quite measure up.  I was just a boy naturally growing up to be a man the only way I knew how and it was not always the way that met with my mother's approval or her preconceived notion of how things should be.

In later years, when I would visit her, it always seemed that we would have a major disagreement just as I was leaving.  To this day I can hear her sobbing and crying hysterically in the house as I pulled out of the driveway.  I always struggled with the urge to go back (a bear for punishment), but I resisted the impulse because I knew it was her way of victimizing me.  In the end she would win, however, because I always felt guilty about it for days. "Next time things will be better," I always thought -- but they never were.  "Next time I'm going to hug her right off the bat, and give her the recognition she craves," I promised myself -- but I never could.

On several occasions I confided in my mother, telling her that I was having difficulty dealing with some aspects of my boyhood and my relationship with her. On both occasions her reply was the same: "I don't understand it...You came from a very loving family."  My mother would never take ownership, or say I'm sorry.-- for anything.  She was just too strong-willed for that.

In my experience Grace had a split personality.  She was kind, loving, fun, life-of-the party, Christian on one hand and aggressive, hurtful, emotional, self-possessed, off the deep end, and melodramatic on the other. As I grew older I came to understand that we were very much alike in many respects and that may have been at the root of many of our problems.  Time and again, when I react to situations in certain ways, I cannot help but feel that it is my mother coming out in me.  In later life I sought medical help for my bipolar-like symptoms.  Sadly, that kind of assistance was not available in my mother's day, although I do not think that she would have ever submitted to treatment.  She was just too proud.  It was the world that was wrong, not her.

I apologize to my readers for not being more sentimental on this the 76th Mother's Day of my life.  But it is what it is...I do not celebrate two dates on the calendar -- New Year's  Day and Mother's Day, both of which are rather sad occasions for me, filled with regrets for life left behind and laments over the fact that I cannot do a damn thing to change any of it.

Grace Wright would be very disappointed in her son for having written this.  She would deny it!

What would make this any different?

27 April, 2014

WHY SOME MARRIAGES STAND THE TEST OF TIME AND OTHERS DO NOT

I have marvelled lately over the miracle of birth and how one generation begets another.  I am particularly moved by photographs of friends and acquaintances of yesteryear that appear on Facebook profiles -- photos of healthy and smiling children and grandchildren, all bearing strong family resemblances.

Many of my friends, for crying out loud, I remember from when they were the current age of their grandchildren and I cannot help but be amazed at how quickly time flies and how lives unfold.  I cannot help but wonder too, why some couples stay committed over the long haul while others fail to make it past a few years. Many of my old chums are still going strong after 50 and 60 years of marriage. On the other hand, there are those who have been married two and three times.  Then again, some of us have lost partners through death and have been fortunate enough to find special love a second time.  Life is just like that!
Heart of the matter

My hat is off to couples who bond sufficiently to spend lifetimes together and leave legacies for their families. In truth, in many respects, lasting marriages are a gift to all who behold them.

I cannot help but think that in the early going, many young people with raging hormones forget that finding the right person in life is just the beginning of the journey, not the destination. In order to move from casual dating to a committed, loving relationship, there is a need to nurture that new connection. It's a process that requires time, effort, and a genuine interest in the other person as a whole. It also requires an openness to compromise and to change.

All relationships change over time. You change and your partner changes, and so do needs and expectations. What you want from a relationship at the beginning may very well be different from what you and your partner want from that same relationship a few months or years down the road. That is why I have so much admiration for couples who discover the secret to a lasting relationship.

Now here is where I may get a bit personal and controversial. There are only two reason why people enter romantic relationships in the first place (unless they come from a culture where marriages are arranged). Every relationship that was ever started can be traced back to sex or love as a point of origin. Humans are mammals, and just like other mammals we have a biological need to reproduce that cannot be suppressed or repressed. This forces us to want sex. For some people this want turns into an over-riding need, depending on other psychological and physical factors.

Oh, sure, I have lusted and wanted to love my partner so much that it hurt; but I learned very quickly as a young man that in order to receive love I must give love -- a committed, sensitive and caring kind of love that knows no bounds and makes no exceptions. The ability to forgive and to forget also went a long way -- still does. I knew myself well enough to understand that I was not physically or emotionally capable of having sex just for the sake of having sex, but that was just me...I know that is not the way with many people.  "Is that a curse or a blessing?" you may well ask...I guess it all depends on how you look at the question.

Love is correlated. Love is one of those words that are hard to explain. One person will describe it one way, one person will describe it another, but no matter the definition I find that one element always remains -- everyone incorporates "companionship" into their description of love. No matter what the loneliest person in the world tells you, they do not want to be alone. Sometimes maybe, but not all the time, and certainly not forever.

I think that we all can attest to the fact that we are first attracted to the physical attributes of a potential life partner, then secondly and ideally we look for a natural blending of likes, dislikes, personality and character attributes.  When love blooms under those conditions and it is fresh, it feels very much like the ultimate; but when the novelty of being in love wears off, the relationship starts to go downhill.  I heard someone recently liken it to having a new toy as a kid...Eventually there is a tendency to get tired of playing with that toy. Maybe Freud was on to something...It seems like our adult life is always leading us in retrospect back to childhood and I wonder if that toy metaphor correlates into longer relationships.  For example, do children who stick with one toy for a longer period of time end up in adult relationships longer?  Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

I always felt an attachment to my toys, many of which I have kept to this day.  I could never part with them. Maybe it has been the same in my relationships.  Something within me always wants to hold on. Personally and honestly, whenever I felt the novelty of love wearing off for various reasons, and there are those times in every marital relationship, I reflected on what brought the two of us together in the first place and how reciprocal my partner had been, not to mention the ultimate blessing of the fruit of our loins.

Then too, Mother Nature, eventually plays a role in all of our lives.  She creeps up on us gradually and annoyingly (I will not elaborate, but I'm sure you know what I mean).  Age-forced abstinence is when the real test of a marriage comes into play.  Believe it or not kids, there are substitutes for the sex you may think is so important to you at your present stage of life. Take it from me, as one who has found it necessary to become a primary caregiver for a totally dependant and ailing spouse, not once but twice in combined marriages that total more than 50 years. I have often said that if you think that lightening does not strike twice, then think again.

I live with the understanding that God giveth and He taketh away.  I do not necessarily miss what we once had in our relationship because other things have come along to fill the void -- things like compassion, a new closeness and understanding of the real needs of life coupled with satisfaction in expressing mutual appreciation for favors large and small.  I derive particular gratification from giving to someone who has given so much to me. There is reward in a particular glance, a touch of the hand, and a smile that speaks volumes.

Sometimes we simply need a jolt of reality in our relationships. Could we really live without our partners in our lives?  Could we accept the fact that, all things being equal, there are always those waiting in the wings who would gladly give what we have forgotten, or are withholding, from our relationships? It was always sobering for me to think about another man giving my wife what I once gave her, only maybe even a little better. I do not know how some people move on with that thought hanging over them.

There's an old saying to the effect that "relationships end the same way they begin." So, according to this theory, if you and your mate started off hot and heavy and quickly turned your "magnetism" into a relationship, then it will end the same way. Hot, heavy, and quick. It seems like too many people turn sexual flings and desperation for love into instant relationships before giving their feelings a chance to blossom. When you go that route you are skipping the beginning, starting in the middle and sabotaging the end. It's like coming into a movie after it has been running for an hour. Even if you end up liking the movie you still have to see it again to fill in the parts that you missed.

So after having expressed all of that, I guess what I am really trying to say is that love -- true love built on a strong respectful foundation -- is the tie that binds.  Satisfaction in knowing that, as a couple, you have survived the ups and downs of life and that you have done your utmost in nurturing a lasting relationship that has produced children and grandchildren of which you are extremely proud. Yes, even going so far as posting family photos on those aforementioned Facebook profiles for all to see and to admire.

Trust me folks of my generation, we have all been watched and we are all being replicated. Just pray that it is in a good and productive way that is indicative of the fact that we have done some things right.

As I have said numerous times before on Wright Lane, that's just me talking though...Talk is cheap!

17 April, 2014

MY METHOD OF FIGHTING BULLIES NOT RECOMMENDED, BUT EFFECTIVE

Recent studies have shown that babies are actually born with a mean streak, confirming a long-standing personal belief about bullying being an in-bred compulsion to "hurt" others with differences and to have fun doing it. A startling revelation to be sure, but in truth, bullying is an age-old social disorder, or disease, that festers and passes from generation to generation.

I have come to the conclusion that parents have to be aware of this fact-of-life phenomenon and be prepared to teach the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.") from the word go. Society in general has never effectively dealt with bullying, in spite of much research on the subject.

In experiments conducted by University of British Columbia psychology professor Kiley Hamlin, babies aged nine to 14 months were found to take pleasure in the bullying of individuals they saw as different from themselves. The study, in a terrifying preview of the social minefield, offered the infants a choice between a snack of graham crackers or green beans. The children were then shown a video of two puppets. In the video, one puppet favoured the same snack as the child while the other puppet made a food faux pas by choosing the snack the child had passed on.

The children, when asked which of the puppets was their favourite, selected the puppet with similar tastes. The experiment takes a slightly sinister turn when the children are shown videos of the puppets bullying each other. Not only did the children not mind when their favourite puppet picked on the puppet who chose differently from them, they also showed favouritism to new puppets who bullied the puppet that liked different snacks from the infant.

Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, ages and sexes and as a youngster I had to deal with all of them.

Even though people who bully cause a great deal of pain for others, in truth, more often than not they need help too. Many one-time bullies simply grow out of their mean-spiritedness, but there are still others who, if they do not learn how to change their behaviours, usually end up in trouble with the law. By age 24, 60 percent of people who were childhood bullies have at least one criminal conviction. People who continue to bully have many other problems as adults with histories of alcoholism, antisocial personality disorders and need for mental health services.

My experience has been that some people who bully may not even understand how wrong their behaviour is and how it makes their victims feel. When they get a taste of their own medicine, they surprisingly feel seriously wronged and this is not the first time that I have written on the subject.

I agree that the best defense against people who bully is to LIKE YOURSELF, be CONFIDENT IN YOURSELF, and DO NOT LOOK LIKE A VICTIM. You should never try to beat bullies at their own game. You cannot bully someone who bullies into not being a bully. Sometimes, that is. I do not advocate my method of dealing with childhood bullies, but in the end it was effective. I just had to suck it up for a few years and bide my time.

I was first introduced to bullying when I was around seven years of age and I endured scrapes, bruises, ripped clothing, intimidation and sheer fright for a good four years. There were times when even an older sister of two of my bullies even got in on the act. On my way to and from school, I would walk blocks out of my way and hide behind trees and houses in order to avoid my tormentors. When confrontations were unavoidable, my heart would pound out of my chest and I would be overcome with a nauseous chill. I learned to run fast, very fast.

My bullies were three to six years older than me, members of about three families who usually ran in a group. They were relentless and I hated the sight of them. They, on the other hand, seemed to delight in the sight of me -- a hapless and helpless smaller kid who quaked in their presence, and they knew it.

Time and mother nature, however, were great equalizers in my case. I put on a growing spurt and learned how to spat in the school yard. Self-defense lessons from my dad also eventually served me in good stead. One day when I was about 11, I was accosted by one of my bullies in the local post office. He was alone and as he reached out to push me in the chest, I saw my long-awaited opening and planted my fist squarely between his eyes, as my dad had coached me to do. "Get that first punch in Dick...And make it a good one!"

Stunned, bleeding from his nose and stooping to pick up shattered glasses that I had not noticed him wearing, he cried in retreat: "What did you do that for? You'll have to pay for these glasses. My parents just bought them!"  I nodded in tentative agreement because I felt bad about the glasses.

When I got home that afternoon, I half proudly announced to my mother that I had punched Bill ------- and that we'd probably have to pay for his broken glasses. "Are you kidding?" my indignant mother responded. "After all that he and his brothers have done to you and the clothing that they have ruined? Not a chance."  Billy boy, by the way, never mentioned the glasses again...And neither did I.

A day or two later when I was walking home from school with a friend, one of the older bullies approached me saying: "You think you're tough Wright, hitting a guy with glasses on? Take me on for size!" Without hesitation I found myself tackling the guy, knocking him off his feet. My friend Jackie was quick to join the fray and together we pummelled the somewhat rotund loud-mouth into submission on the downtown sidewalk as his peers watched in stunned amazement.

Word spread quickly about my new-found tendancy to fight back. I was never again bothered by a bully. Oddly enough, in due course, I became friends with most of the bullies who I sensed always looked at me with wary eyes. I even reached the point of feeling sorry for several of them in later years because fate had not dealt all that kindly with them.

All those guys are dead now, God rest their souls...And I'm still alive almost 70 years later to talk about that rather unpleasant period in my childhood. A period that unfortunately is a rite of passage for so many youngsters, even to this day.

I still hate bullies and bullying and wish that I could punch everyone of them right between the eyes on behalf of helpless and hapless victims everywhere. That's just me talking though, but I know my dad would agree, even if others wouldn't.

05 April, 2014

TEACHER'S WISDOM, PAINTERS TRUST, RESULTED IN A MASTERPIECE

The ancient Greek artist Timanthes' masterpiece was this painting
of the "Sacrifice of Iphigenia." Timanthes painted around 400 B.C.
Iphigenia is a daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Greek
mythology, whom Agamemnon (covering his face) is commanded
to kill as a sacrifice to allow his ships to sail to Troy.
Over 2,000 years ago a young Greek artist named Timanthes studied under a respected tutor. After several years the teacher’s efforts seemed to have paid off. Timanthes painted an exquisite work of art, about which he was very proud.

Unfortunately, Timanthes became so enraptured with the painting that he spent days gazing at it. One morning when he arrived to admire his work, he was shocked to find it completely blotted over with fresh paint.

Angry, Timanthes ran to his teacher. The wise old man admitted it was he who had destroyed the lovely painting.

“I did it for your own good," the man said. "That painting was retarding your progress. Start again and see if you can do better."

Stunned, confused but willing to trust, Timanthes took his teacher’s advice. He next produced the "Sacrifice of Iphigenia," which is regarded as one of the finest paintings of all of antiquity.

31 March, 2014

REFLECTING ON THE AGE OF AQUARIUS

We all have those moments where we feel something is amiss but we don’t know exactly what it is. We just know in our heart. The universe reads these feelings as intuitive “impulses”.

Intuition is the undiscovered frontier in human psychosis and development. It has been discovered that people have amazing skills in reading numbers, statistics, or understanding “patterns” of intelligence in altered states of awareness. So, welcome the Aquarian Age! This is when astrologers tell us that we reach epic levels of achievement by learning to be positive and work together to come up with acceptable solutions and equal playing fields.

Life comes in all forms, and we are being compelled to respect it even if we do not understand it. That fact alone is enough metaphysically for us to try to understand rather than destroy. Nature is evolving and this is altering what we see and perceive as “real”. We know some things spiritually but in the past we kept these notions to ourselves out of fear. Not any more...Today’s new generation is more aware than ever of who and what they are spiritually, even though they may not make an outward display of it religiously.

However there is still a need for tradition, decency, and loving kindness to one another. Manners never become obsolete and all life forms respond to love. So we can use and put more of that into what we do on a daily basis. It builds inner peace levels and restores depleted positive energy stores, again metaphysically.

We have to realize what is “natural” for us and what is “naturally” beneficial, too. This can be in the things we do, people we associate and socialize with, and places we go. Just like you wear a certain brand of clothing, shoe, or apparel to “fit” or match your personality, we are doing this metaphysically to fit us naturally. Nature restores order in our life by bringing us back to our point of origin. On a spiritual basis, we have to remember where “self” starts as a soul. Just like you eat well to keep physically fit, we read healthy and positive material for the mind to stay metaphysically fit for whatever life throws in our direction.

Remember too, that passions stir us up as we get ready to act on feelings and emotions. So be clear in your thinking and what direction is best to get you where you wish to be from this point in time forward. This happens when you “center”, meditate, pray or focus on whatever ideal you wish to achieve. It’s all about saying what you mean, and meaning what you say. The universe is listening and reacting to us kinetically as we evolve spiritually and actualize mentally and physically.

29 March, 2014

I'M LEARNING TO EVOLVE BEYOND MY SELF-PRESERVATIOANAL EGO

Lately I have been reading and hearing a lot about how ego is our self perception of who we are and it has taken me 76 years to realize that mine has been known to work against me.  In all fairness, however, my ego has been trying to help me in a self-provisional sort of way.  It resists change and forces me to make judgements.  My ego is comfortable with me the way I am.

The little voice that tells me that I am not good enough or that a certain task is beyond my capabilities, is in reality trying to shield me from disappointment.  In the same way, an even smaller, still, voice is trying to guide me to achieve greater things in my life and to strive for a better self.   The only trouble is that the stronger, yet fictitious, voice of self generally wins out because it is just plain comfortable with me the way I am.

The goal then is not to try to completely get rid of my ego, but to recognize it isn’t me at all. Ego, positive and negative, is the accumulation of a lifetimes’ worth of experiences, emotions, baggage, trauma, issues, hopes and inspirations.  And whatever comes to us from God, or the universe, gets filtered through the lenses of our ego before we can comprehend it.

Considering that every thought we have is processed through our ego, it’s my job to weigh each of them and decide whether or not I want to accept it.   It’s like those cartoons where you have the ‘good’ angel and the ‘bad’ angel…except the one you listen to most does the most talking.

Because much of what I do involves the spiritual realm, I have been studying the key to evolving beyond ego and it has opened up a whole new insight for me.  I think that we all have a calling to participate in the evolution of our world but many of us feel stalled in our spiritual growth.  Most of us are convinced that we want to change in all the right ways, if only we had the right conditions.  But our circumstances never quite line up properly, or so our ego would have us believe.


Why is it this way?  Why don't we jump at opportunities to evolve to a higher level of being when they present themselves.


Many of us feel stalled in our spiritual goals.  When we are stressed we revert back to past patterns.  Most of us want things in our lives to change for the better but we do not want to let go of the things we have become accustomed to, our comfort zones -- the old beliefs, routines and habits our ego tells us to cling to.

The change that changes everything, according to Craig Hamilton, lies in the discovery and activation of a usually dormant part of the psyche that he calls “The Evolutionary Self.”


Despite aspirations to “be the change you want to see in the world,” you may find yourself struggling with the same habituated patterns that have plagued human beings since time immemorial.
  • For instance, you might spend an hour a day on the meditation cushion, but still find yourself reacting unconsciously in your relationships. 
  • You might speak about the importance of  “loving thy neighbor” and yet find yourself falling into momentary “road rage” when someone cuts you off in traffic. 
  • You may have even experienced what it’s like to be temporarily elevated beyond the confines of the separate ego, only to find yourself falling back into it again and again. 
The Evolutionary Self is not the timeless, changeless “Ground of Being” spoken of in the great traditions, nor is it the conventional ego self that spirituality aims to transcend. It is the creative force of the universe alive within us, the human face of the Impulse of Evolution itself.

The creative power that gave birth to the cosmos, and that has been the driving force of evolution for the last 13.7 billion years, is not separate from us. In fact, it is the deepest part of who we are. And, if we can learn how to align with it, we will discover the keys to a life beyond our highest imaginings, according to Keith Hamilton.

I'll let you know more about this fascinating subject after I have explored more about how to awaken the revolutionary self and how to keep it front and centre in my life with a post-awakening cultivation and integration of an evolving world.  The key will be getting real with that ego that wants to protect me...and hold me back from evolving.

24 February, 2014

A BAGPIPER WHO WAS LOST WITH GOOD INTENTIONS


A bagpiper was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. The deceased had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in a remote location in the country. 

The bagpiper was not familiar with the area, and got lost. Being a typical man, he didn’t ask for directions. He finally arrived an hour late, and saw the funeral director was already gone, and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left, and they were eating lunch.

The bagpiper felt bad and apologized to the men for being so late. He then went to the side of the grave and looked down and saw that the vault lid was already in place. Not knowing what else to do, the bagpiper started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. He played out his heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. He played like he never played before for this homeless man. As he played his last song, Amazing Grace, the workers all began to weep.

When the bagpiper finished, he packed up his bagpipes and started for his car with his head hung low and heart full of emotion.

As he opened his car door, he heard one of the workers say, “Sweet Mother, I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for over twenty years.”

Note from Dick: Variations of this item have been posted numerous times on the Internet, but I thought that it would be fun to re-post it on Wright's Lane...It reminded me of the time when, along with my late wife, we inadvertently arrived an hour early for the church wedding of a friend. While not recognizing any of the sullen faces in congregation, we remained completely innocent of our mistake until the church doors swung open and a casket was wheeled in. Sheepishly and as quiet as possible, we took our leave from the funeral service.

23 February, 2014

COLD HARD FACTS OF LATE FEBRUARY

Late Saturday, February 22, afternoon sun glistens off the ice between Southampton and Chantry Island on Lake Huron. Another deep freeze is predicted over night.

20 February, 2014

INTRODUCING A NEW BLOG SITE

EVERY SO OFTEN I CREATE A NEW BLOG OR BLOG SITE THAT PAYS TRIBUTE TO SOMEONE THAT HAS MADE AN IMPRESSION ON ME OVER THE YEARS. TODAY I'M INTRODUCING A NEW SITE ON THE LIFE OF THE LATE JACK FRASER SR., A YOUNG IRISH FARMER WHO CAME TO CANADA AND PROMPTLY CREATED A MEN'S CLOTHING RETAIL EMPIRE. STORES ACROSS CANADA CARRY HIS NAME TO THIS DAY. THIS IS A FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT ABOUT A MAN'S VISION AND HIS DEDICATION TO QUALITY AND FRIENDLY CUSTOMER SERVICE. TO VIEW THIS NEW SITE CLICK HTTP://JACKFRASERSR.BLOGSPOT.CA/

JACK FRASER SR.: 1891-1960

17 February, 2014

THE REALITY OF BOYHOOD DREAMS THAT WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE

A discussion that I was involved in the other day prompted me to realize just how much war and the military was ingrained in the lives of those of us who grew up in the 1940s. There was never an era like it in Canadian history and there will never be another one like it in the future.

World War II was the defining experience of our lives. It bred a sense of patriotism and an intense consciousness of being a member of a distinct generation, set apart from those that came before or since. For most children, the war years were a time of anxiety. For many, this was a period of family separation. For some, it was a time of profound personal loss. For everyone it was a period of restraint and sacrifice. Fun was found in simple things like parlour games and visits with family and friends.
Me in 1943 and again in 1954.

War affected the way we played and impacted our imaginations. It had a powerful effect on the rhymes of childhood, the books, comics and newspapers we read, the movies we watched, the music we heard and the food we ate or didn't eat. Current events at school were focused almost entirely on news from the European front and the local boys who were serving overseas. When we sang God Save the Queen every morning before class and at the opening of all public gatherings, it had special meaning. We planted victory gardens and belonged to the Junior Red Cross. We collected care package items for soldiers and for needy families in war-torn European countries.

Many children had to grow up quickly during wartime. Some teenagers were required to leave school early to take jobs. While fathers fought in the war many younger children had to fend for themselves while their mothers worked to keep food on the table.

Most resources in the 1940s went to the war effort. Frugality and rationing were a fact of life for all Canadian families and people were resourceful out of necessity. Churches were the glue that held communities together and were the focal points of most social activity. People sought togetherness, faith and hope in a better day to come.

Neighbours and relatives who were conscripted into the armed services and fought overseas at the time were idolized by youngsters like me. Soldiers and baseball players were my role models and they continued to be well into adulthood.

For veterans returning from the devastation they had witnessed during World War II to the jubilation and normalcy that awaited them at home after peace was declared in May of 1945, the world must have felt like their oyster. Soldiers came back to heroes' welcomes and ticker-tape parades. What might not have been top-of-mind for those veterans was the job market that awaited them. Much like today's military personnel who leave behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, World War II vets returned home to financial uncertainty. That economic anxiety was the result of not-so-distant memories of the Great Depression. In the '40s, as is the case today, the issue of military personnel returning from service created challenges for employers, policymakers and the soldiers themselves.

Much to the credit of many employers and at the urging of government, priority consideration was given to returning war veterans in the mid and late 1940s. I mention this fact because it hit very close to home for my family in a rather unfortunate way.

My father Ken was born in 1899, too young as it turned out, to qualify for military service in World War 1 (June 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918) and too old to serve in World War 11 (September, 1939 to May, 1945).  While still a teenager and an apprenticing barber, he formed a rag-tag army reserve unit in his hometown of Dresden, ON.  With a few items of equipment gleaned from the Kent Regiment in Chatham, he and 10 other friends (all born in 1899) took part in drills and malitia-type training. When peace was declared a year later, the unit disbanded.

Fast-forward to 1947 or '48 when the first-ever Liquor Control Board (LCBO) store was established in Dresden and interviews were being held for the position of store manager. The job had certain appeal for my father who was about 47-years-of-age by then with 30 years of barbering under his belt. The going rate for a man's haircut in those days was 45 cents (50 cents for a shave) and in a good week Ken would bring home a paltry $20.00, so it was understandable that the $45.00 a week LCBO salary would be a factor in his applying for the job.

We collectively (my dad, my mother and me) kept our fingers crossed when it was learned that the list of applicants had been narrowed down to two people -- my dad and one other chap, a WW11 vet. Guess who got the job?  While devastated, my folks understood rationale in the hiring decision but there was a noticeable deflation of spirit in my father that he took to his grave some five years later. He was truely locked in to a line of endeavour that provided borderline subsistence for his family.  He felt he had let us down...The pain was palpable.

Meantime, interest in both baseball and the military escalated into my high school days.  When I should have been applying myself academically, my mind was on things baseball and army. I became Commanding Officer of the Lambton Kent District High School Cadet Corps and my math teacher Frank Brown, a retired Army captain, took me aside and said that if I could improve my grades to an acceptable level he would recommend me for officer training at Royal Rhodes Military College.

Bless his heart, I know that Frank was trying to motivate me to upgrade my marks, but my mind was already made up.  I had become disenchanted with school in general and knew I would not finish out the term. The lure of professional baseball was just too great and I left high school the next spring for a training camp in Cocoa, Florida. I was a far-too-young, wet-behind-the-ears 17 year old who would soon have his eyes opened to the cruel reality of professional sports and the odds against a Canadian kid making the grade in the great American pastime.

When the baseball career did not pan out and I found myself at a dead end in the men's retail clothing business,  I resurrected my interest in the army.  I thought about school chums who had already joined the armed services -- Carmen Harrett, Nelson Sommerset and Jim Simmons (Navy), Larry Gray and John Watson (Air Force) and Dave Meldrum and Larry Browning (Army). "If they could make it, then why not me?" I reasoned.  Still just 19 years of age, I walked into the army recruiting office at Wolseley Barracks in London and found myself sitting in front of the resident recruiting officer, a Major.  With a surprisingly fatherly demeanor and while another young fellow about my age was signing enlistment papers in an adjoining office, the Major generously interviewed me for a good hour.

In the end it was suggested that with my athletic ability and background in cadets, it would be advisable for me to return to school and to complete Grade 13 in order to qualify for officer training.  "Come back with your high school diploma and a career in the Canadian Army awaits you," were the Major's parting words. With no suggestion that I could still sign up if I wanted to, which I would have done, I left disappointed and rejected.

Instead of appreciating that the Major had taken time to offer advice that was in my best interest, I was engulfed with a feeling of inadequacy. I was not good enough to make it in baseball and now the army was out of reach for me too.  Two boyhood dreams dashed and for the time being no more dreaming left in me. While the circumstances were not quite the same, I felt very much like the late Ken Wright's son.

One thing I learned from those early experiences, however, was that there was a difference between having a dream and actually applying myself to it.

Now, 57 years later, and a former newspaper managing editor cum public relations director and lay minister in retirement, I still find myself wondering what if...and dreaming sometimes impossible dreams.

I soldier on with hope in my heart and an ever-so-slight glint in my eye!

14 February, 2014

BE POSITIVE AND UNCONDITIONAL ABOUT YOUR LOVE


Positive thinking merits positive results. Sure this is easy to say but much more complex to apply when we deal with the daily grind of adversity in all of its many faces and facets. An astrologer friend reminded me today that we are spirits having a human experience. When you think of life in this measure you gather a much more profound attitude about “living and making the best out of your life”.

It’s really about taking actions, which affirms this sentiment. When you love you make others feel and sense it and they are less likely to “test” you. Self-confidence begins with a healthy attitude towards the mental, emotional, spiritual, and metaphysical aspect of living.

Making each day count moment by moment is what is most important. When you focus your energy on positive outcomes and exhibit “hope”, you come through clean as a whistle. The Universe grants wishes – but doesn’t distinguish them as “positive” or “negative” so what we fear happens – think, Murphy’s Law. Keep thoughts in the positive by hoping more and trusting in the good to prevail.

No one can control your emotions unless you allow it...I constantly have to remind myself of this fact. This makes you responsible for your reaction to the actions of others. We create our own luck in this way by using our creative intelligence. Worrying blocks our blessings, whereas trusting and being receptive to the energies directing our inner most wishes of  “higher good” come through like rays of sunshine through a window.

Exhale and let go, and inhale -- allowing good to happen without your interaction. This is the magic of serendipity.

As in the attached Mutts cartoon which reminds me of my little dog Lucy, Love Unconditionally today and everyday. This is my message to friends on Valentine's Day 2014.

10 February, 2014

ALL KIDS NEED TO KNOW IS THAT YOU LOVE TO WATCH THEM PLAY

I stumbled across this great article by student leadership development expert Tim Elmore. In it he discusses research on what parents can say both before and after the any minor sports activity to encourage their kids, without making everything about performance (either positively or negatively). Elmore suggests:

Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make before their children perform are:

Have fun.

Play hard.

I love you.


...And after the activity:

Did you have fun?

I’m proud of you.

I love you.


It gets even better. Researchers Bruce Brown and Rob Miller asked college athletes what their parents said that made them feel great and brought them joy when they played sports. Want to know the six words they most want to hear their parents say?

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it. Nothing aggrandizing like “you’re an all-star,” and nothing discouraging like “here are a couple of things I noticed that you can work on.” Just “I love to watch you play.”

My kids are all grown up now, so are my grandchildren for that matter.  None of them were overly involved in sports activities, but I hope that somewhere along the line in the game of life they knew that I loved to watch them play.  There's great joy in watching kids have fun, no matter the activity or how old they are...And that joy continues for a lifetime!

31 January, 2014

WHAT KIND OF A "FRIEND" ARE YOU ON FACEBOOK?

In real life I am a pretty easy-going guy. I take my relationships seriously. It is my nature to insert myself into the lives of the people I come to care about. I am interested in everyone I meet, on line or otherwise, and genuinely want to feel an instant kinship. I am a tease from away back...It is my way of being personable and putting myself and others at ease, as misguided and misunderstood as that may be at times. I tend to relate to new acquaintances as though I have known them all my life and often make the mistaken assumption that I can communicate with them like I have known them all my life. I have a history of assuming that everyone understands the dichotomy that is me -- mistake No 1.

I am open to the opinions of others and hope that they respect mine. When I have something positive to contribute in life, or a perceived nugget of inspiration that particularly moves me, I want to share it with others for what it is worth. Possibly mistake No.2.

I love God, kids and dogs, but I digress.

The forgoing is all by means of expressing certain disillusionment over participation in social media networks such as Facebook and the special interest group sites that have stemmed from it. The art of true conversation is completely lost in many on line exchanges. Words and expressions common in face-to-face exchanges between friends, are easily misunderstood when viewed on a computer monitor screen by someone who really does not know you beyond the digital realm.  We are self-protecting, far too easily offended and quick to judge when our insular sensitivities are penetrated.

"We've become accustomed to a new way of being 'alone together'…We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party," wrote professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle in the New York Times.

Regretfully, Facebook is changing the human race. People think, speak and live in status updates. We have become short spurts of witty commentary. It's becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with a person, rather than just their online character. Generally, we are all becoming narcissists interested only in the number of "likes" we receive and complimentary comments to our timeline updates. Personally, I would rather hug my friends in person than "Poke" them. I prefer to laugh out loud than LOL. I am happier emailing someone directly or talking to them on the telephone instead of commenting on their timelines.

I actually withdrew from Facebook on two occasions due to frustration over verbal exchanges turned bitter and misunderstandings with certain "friends" that I had never met in person, nor would never have occasion to meet in my life time. All because I made the mistake of thinking that I was talking to a friend in the true sense of the word. The ultimate insult has been when, on several occasions, I have been "unfriended" by someone that I would not know if I bumped into them on the street.

I have found myself being stressed over some of my Facebook experiences and actually losing sleep because of it. It is a shame when a "social" network causes anti-social behaviour. In real life you simply do not lose friends with the all-too-easy click of a computer key. In real life, sensitivity is a two-way street. We value relationships, are conscious of the feelings of others and do not dismiss them over the slightest provocation.

Again, in real life I do not have a slew of friends. I have never been a conscious networker. Over the years friends have come into my life and then they have gone, the odd few hang on. I guess that you could call the hanger ons the ones who are my truest friends and I cherish them. Unlike so many, I do not actively solicit "friends" on Facebook but over the course of a seven-year period I have collected something in the neighbourhood of 140 friends (about average, according to Facebook statistics), some having requested my friendship while others I have selectively invited into my circle. In the past when I viewed people on Facebook with 500 or more friends, I felt kind of like an orphan but psychologists say that in reality you cannot have more than 150 friends and do justice to them.  So that makes me feel better.  I like to think that I am doing justice to my friends LOL.

Greek philosopher Aristotle said that there are three types of friends:

1) Friendship based on utility is friendship that is useful for each of the parties due to a special interest or involvement. There is nothing wrong with this kind of friendship, necessarily, as long as there is respect and mutuality, but it does not endure because the usefulness does not endure.

2) Friendship based on pleasure occurs when you enjoy the company of another person. Perhaps they are funny, interesting or enjoyable for some other reason. In such a relationship, when the pleasure ends, the friendship ends as well.

3) Friendship based on virtue is the highest form of friendship, according to Aristotle. Here, two people are morally virtuous individuals. Each loves what is good within them, and what is good in the other. In loving a friend one loves what is good for oneself, because these types of friends assist each other in living a virtuous life. They have a shared vision of a good and fulfilling human life, and help each other in their pursuit of such a life. Such a relationship requires time, familiarity, trust, mutual goodwill, and, of course, virtue. This kind of friendship is also pleasant and useful, but in the right way. So friendship based on virtue, "perfect friendship", as Aristotle calls it, encompasses the other two species, but in the right way. This kind of friendship endures, because goodness endures.

Are Facebook friends true friends? I guess it depends on what you mean by "friend". Clearly we can have friendships based on utility and pleasure via Facebook. But what about friendships based on virtue? I'm skeptical that we can, if Facebook is the only means by which we relate to another person. Given all that this highest form of friendship requires, it seems to me that some real (rather than merely virtual) contact is required. In this kind of friendship, the friends "do life" together, and this is tricky to accomplish via status updates.

I now feel comfortable with the friends that I do have on Facebook, however. I know what I can and cannot say to them (in some cases I have learned the hard way). I am still getting to know some of them, and they me...And there are a few who have come by way of utility and pleasure that I would actually like to meet in person some day and have a good old-fashioned conversation -- and really get to know them.

29 January, 2014

THAT EXPLAINS IT...WHAT A RELIEF TO KNOW IT'S THE HEAVY LOAD THAT MY BRAIN CARRIES, NOT AGE THAT'S PLAYING TRICKS WITH MY MEMORY

A new study from Germany has likened the memory abilities of older people to full hard drives: They don’t lose cognitive power over time; they just function slower because of an increasing amount of information.

"The human brain works slower in old age but only because we have stored more information over time," lead researcher Dr. Michael Ramscar said in a written statement.

The team of researchers from Tübingen University in Germany used computers to replicate different stages of an adult’s memory recall. The computer models were fed small amounts of information each day (much like young adults), but as the devices gathered more information, their performances mirrored those of older people, according to the study, which was published this month in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science.

"Forget about forgetting," study researcher Peter Hendrix told The Independent. "If I wanted to get the computer to look like an older adult, I had to keep all the words it learned in memory and let them compete for attention."

Researchers concluded the brains of senior citizens do not deteriorate over time due to aging, as traditionally thought to be the case, but they slow down because they hold more information.

They put their theory to the test by analyzing a previous linguistics test in which volunteers (young and old) were instructed to remember unrelated words like “necktie” and “cracker.” The results favored young people. The previous study suggested the reason older individuals struggled with the test was due to their declining memory; however, the folks at Tübingen University concluded that's actually not the case.

“The fact that older adults find nonsense pairs -- but not connected pairs -- harder to learn than young adults simply demonstrates older adults' much better understanding of language,” Harald Baayen, head of the Alexander von Humboldt Quantitative Linguistics research group where the study was carried out, said in a statement. “They have to make more of an effort to learn unrelated word pairs because, unlike the youngsters, they know a lot about which words don’t belong together.”

A separate poll conducted in 2013 showed that younger adults are actually more inclined to have lapses in memory than older people.

Glad to pass this information along,  Click the yellow links for more details.

23 January, 2014

IN THE BEGINNING, AS IN THE END, WE ARE ALL OF THE SAME RACE

Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? The age-old question of our origin has been baffling mankind for centuries. For most of our history, it was widely accepted that man had been created by an omnipresent, omnipotent, God or Gods. Most ancient texts such as the Bible, Torah and The Sumerian tablets seem to all contain similar stories of such beginnings. Almost all religions are based on this God/creation premise in some form or another. It wasn’t until the mid 1800’s when Charles Darwin introduced his Theory of Evolution that the creation theory was even questioned, and the battle between religion and science began.

Darwin’s Theory, while scientifically sound, still leaves many questions unanswered:

1. Why the vast appearance and chromosomal differences between cro-magnon and homosapiens?

2. How did modern man seemingly just “appear” out of nowhere, wearing clothing and organizing societies (intelligent)?

3. What is the “missing link”?

4. Which is the truth? Science, religion or a combination of both?

The Bible does not explicitly give us the origin of the different “races” or skin colors in humanity. In actuality, there is only one race—the human race. Within the human race is diversity in skin color and other physical characteristics. Some speculate that when God confused the languages at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), He also created racial diversity.

It is possible that God made genetic changes to humanity to better enable people to survive in different ecologies, such as the darker skin of Africans being better equipped genetically to survive the excessive heat in Africa, or the physical make up of the Eskimo more conducive to withstanding the extremes of the frozen north. According to this view, God confused the languages, causing humanity to segregate linguistically, and then created genetic racial differences based on where each racial group would eventually settle. While possible, there is no explicit biblical basis for this view. The races/skin colors of humanity are nowhere mentioned in connection with the tower of Babel.

(Some scholars believe that this marks the point in history where God divided the earth into separate continents. The biblical story of the Tower of Babel is believed by many to be the record of a real historical event that took place after the worldwide Flood, at a time when the earth’s population still lived together in one place.)

At the Tower of Babel, when the different languages came into existence, groups that spoke one language moved away with others of the same language. In doing so, the gene pool for a specific group shrank dramatically as the group no longer had the entire human population to mix with. Closer inbreeding took place, and in time certain features were emphasized in these different groups (all of which were present as a possibility in the genetic code). As further inbreeding occurred through the generations, the gene pool grew smaller and smaller, to the point that people of one language family all had the same or similar features.

Another explanation is that Adam and Eve possessed the genes to produce black, brown, and white offspring (and everything else in between). This would be similar to how a mixed-race couple sometimes has children that vary in color. 

Since God obviously desired humanity to be diverse in appearance, it makes sense that God would have given Adam and Eve the ability to produce children of different skin tones. Later, the only survivors of the Great Flood that preserved the Hebrew bloodline of Jesus Christ were Noah and his wife, Noah’s three sons and their wives—eight people in all (Genesis 7:13).

(The significance of Noah, according to Genesis, is that the population of the Earth was completely destroyed during The Flood because of the wickedness of the inhabitants, and Noah and his family were the sole eight survivors to continue and repopulate the human race. Thus the view of history in the Bible is that all humans on Earth are descended from Noah's family.)

Perhaps Noah’s daughters-in-law were of different races. It is also possible that Noah’s wife was of a different race than Noah. Maybe all eight of them were of mixed race, which would mean they possessed the genetics to produce children of different races.

As I say, it is all very mind-boggling.  Inquisitive minds will continue to seek answers to the origins of mankind while some of us will simply acquit ourselves to clinging to the faith of our fathers as a reason for our being. I have spent a lot of time and energy on this mysterious subject in the past and this is where I am content to leave it.

Whatever the explanation, the most important aspect of this question is that we are all the same race, all created by the same God, all created for the same purpose -- to glorify The Creator and to live as good a life as is humanly possible.  Amen?

17 January, 2014

AT LEAST I'M ON ROSANNE'S "LOVE LIST"...SO IS OUR DOG LUCY

My wife Rosanne "loves" everything, literally.  Countless times a day she "just loves" animals, babies, food, coffee, music, game shows and old movies -- you get the idea.

The other day as the television credits were rolling on a 1940 movie, "It's A Date", starring Winnipeg Sweetheart Deanna Durbin and Walter Pidgeon, she exclaimed with endearing emphasis "I just love Deanna Durbin...always have!"

"Is there anything you don't love?" I asked, hoping to get a rise out of her...And she did not disappoint.  "I've got a big heart and there's room to love a lot of things," she answered with conviction.   That was my opening.

With tongue-in-cheek, I asked: "Well, instead of loving dead actresses that you never met, why don't you show a little more of that love to someone a little closer to home (meaning me)?"

"I do," she said, "and you and Lucy (our dog) are at the top of the list!"

I was left with kind of a warm feeling, even though I shared top spot on the list with Lucy.  At my age, you take love when and where you can get it!


09 January, 2014

CHRISTIANITY TODAY: WE HAVE FAILED OUR YOUNGER GENERATIONS...BUT HOW MANY OF US REALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT THE FUTURE MAY HOLD?

I am tackling today a subject that has been on my mind for some time and for which I have no ready answers.  It has to do with the decline of religion in the 20th and 21st centuries and a growing nonchalant, take-it-or-leave-it attitude on the part of even those who profess to be "Christian", as arm's-length as that may be.

This has been driven home to me, especially when I have posted religious items on Wright Lane and subsequently on Facebook.  I get numerous comments and "Likes" on some of my less serious "puff" pieces, but virtually no feedback on more thought-provoking religious stories with bonafide messages, some of which take days to formulate and to compose.  It has been suggested by one authority, that people do not like to read, or comment on, subjects that they do not understand or do not have a personal interest in.  This may well be the case, I'm not sure.

I know for a fact that there are those who will say "What qualifies Dick Wright to speak/write on religious matters?  What does he know? I knew him when and he wasn't the brightest bulb on the tree...etc."  In other words, generally speaking, I am not necessarily always taken seriously or understood.  I liken it to when I was writing newspaper editorials for many years and I got the feeling that I was continually tossing handfuls of mothballs (thoughts, ideas, convictions) into the air and having them float aimlessly, never landing.  Feedback was generally in the form of an objection to something that I had written...So I am used to being ignored, but I keep exercising my compulsion in the hope that I can at least stimulated some thought and somehow, somewhere along the line, a few like-thinkers will be able to relate.

I have no reason to believe that what follows will be any better embraced but this too will be reality, as I see it.

Religion in Canada encompasses a wide range of groups and beliefs. The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms refers to "God", and the monarch carries the title of "Defender of the Faith". However, Canada has no official religion, and support for religious pluralism (Freedom of religion in Canada) is an important part of Canada's political culture. The 2011 Canadian census reported that 67 per cent of Canadians claim adherence to Christianity, followed by no religion at 24 per cent but rates of religious adherence have been steadily decreasing.

It has been recently suggested that with Christianity on decline, having once been central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life; Canada has come to enter a post-Christian period in secular state, with irreligion in Canada on the rise. The practice of religion is now generally considered a private matter throughout society and within the state. Additionally a majority of Canadians consider religion to be unimportant, but still believe in God.

I am a lay minister and teaching elder in a small community church with an aging congregation that will have extreme difficulty sustaining itself financially in the coming year. Ninety per cent of the members are over 70 years of age and ministers find themselves "preaching to the choir" and holding the status quo. There are no young people in my home church (with the exception of two grade school youngsters who are being exposed to a church environment by their grandparents). Sadly, and in all honesty, the life-expectancy of this church is in the three to five-year range, if that. It has been suggested that churches like this, and there are several dozen in the Presbytery that I serve, have not sufficiently changed in an ever-changing society...It is understood that increased emphasis must be placed on community viability and outreach missions both at home and abroad.  For many aging churches with limited human and financial resources, however, this is a tall order.

The Catch 22 in all of this is that in order to be viable in any community, churches need youthful involvement and that is just not happening. For that I blame my permissive generation and the situation is virtually irrevocable. I fear that we have lost several generations in the process and the jury is out as to where this is going to lead in the end.

It would seem that we have a generation of people who actually challenge the things that their elders took as gospel. In my formative years in the 1940s, religion was taught with no room for question. At best "the Lord moves in mysterious ways" was the only answer one could expect to some youthful questions and that was accepted by us. We have arrived at a point where young people question the "authority" of religion and may even see it as a man made creation to satisfy questions that we ourselves have difficulty answering. By and large, the "faith" aspect of religion is no longer accepted and comprehended by young people and that's where we elders have fallen short. We have not made religion relative in the lives of our younger generations.

We are told by number-crunchers that one-fifth of North Americans today are religiously unaffiliated — higher than at any time in recent history — and those younger than 30 especially seem to be drifting from organized religion. A third of of them say they do not belong to any religion...and this includes my own children and grandchildren -- a sad admission, on my part.

To understand this phenomenon, a round table of six young people was recently organized — three young women and three young men — all struggling with the role of faith and religion in their lives.  The following is the reality of rather naive and disturbing views that reflect an overall lack of understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

Miriam Nissly, 29, was raised Jewish and considers herself Jewish with an "agnostic bent." She loves going to synagogue

"I realize maybe there's a disconnect there — why are you doing it if you don't necessarily have a belief in God? But I think there's a cultural aspect, there's a spiritual aspect, I suppose. I find the practice of sitting and being quiet and being alone with your thoughts to be helpful, but I don't think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with."

Yusuf Ahmad, 33, raised Muslim, is now an atheist. His doubts set in as a child with sacred stories he just didn't believe

"Like the story of Abraham — his God tells him to sacrifice his son. Then he takes his son to sacrifice him, and he turns into a goat. I remember growing up, in like fifth [or] sixth grade I'd hear these stories and be like, 'That's crazy! Why would this guy do this? Just because he heard a voice in his head, he went to sacrifice his son and it turned into a goat?' There's no way that this happened. I wasn't buying it.

"Today if some guy told you that 'I need to sacrifice my son because God told me to do it,' he'd be locked up in a crazy institution."

Kyle Simpson, 27, raised Christian. He has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist that says "Salvation from the cross" in Latin

"It's a little troublesome now when people ask me. I tell them and they go, 'Oh, you're a Christian,' and I try to skirt the issue now. They go, 'What does that mean?' and it's like, "It's Latin for 'I made a mistake when I was 18.'

"When I first got the tattoo I remember thinking, 'Oh, this will be great because when I'm having troubles in my faith I will be able to look at it, and I can't run away from it.' And that is exactly what is happening.

"I don't [believe in God] but I really want to. That's the problem with questions like these is you don't have anything that clearly states, 'Yes, this is fact,' so I'm constantly struggling. But looking right at the facts — evolution and science — they're saying, no there is none. But what about love? What about the ideas of forgiveness? I like to believe they are true and they are meaningful.

"I think having a God would create a meaning for our lives, like we're working toward a purpose — and it's all worthwhile because at the end of the day we will maybe move on to another life where everything is beautiful. I love that idea."
Melissa Adelman, 30, raised Catholic

"Starting in middle school we got the lessons about why premarital sex was not OK, why active homosexuality was not OK, and growing up in American culture, kids automatically pushed back on those things, and so we had some of those conversations in school with our theology teachers. The thing for me — a large part of the reason I moved away from Catholicism was because without accepting a lot of these core beliefs, I just didn't think that I could still be part of that community.

"I remember a theology test in eighth grade where there was a question about homosexuality, and the right answer was that if you are homosexual, then that is not a sin because that's how God made you, but acting upon it would be a sin. That's what I put down as the answer, but I vividly remember thinking to myself that that was not the right answer."

Rigoberto Perez, 30, raised as Seventh-day Adventist

"It was a fairly important part of our lives. It was something we did every Saturday morning. We celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. It was pretty hard growing up in a lot of ways. We didn't have a lot of money, the household wasn't very stable a lot of the time, so when something bad would happen, say a prayer, go to church. When my mom got cancer the first time, it was something that was useful at the time for me as a coping mechanism.

"While I was younger, my father drank a lot. There was abuse in the home. My brother committed suicide in 2001. So at some point you start to say, 'Why does all this stuff happen to people?' And if I pray and nothing good happens, is that supposed to be I'm being tried? I find that almost kind of cruel in some ways. It's like burning ants with a magnifying glass. Eventually that gets just too hard to believe anymore."

Lizz Reeves, 23, raised by a Jewish mother and a Christian father. She lost a brother to cancer.

"I wanted so badly to believe in God and in heaven, and that's where my brother was going. I wanted to have some sort of purpose and meaning associated with his passing. And ultimately the more time I spent thinking about it, I realized the purpose and meaning of his life had nothing to do with heaven, but it had to do with how I could make choices in my life that give his life meaning. And that had a lot more weight with me than any kind of faith in anything else."

These very honest responses make my heart bleed and my soul cry.  Without exception there is a very real need for young people to believe in something and to find truth in life, but Christianity as presented to them (or as they perceive it) is not cutting it for them today.  They are not getting the right answers to their questions.  Neither are they being listened to and therein lies a big difference between the days of my youth and today.  Kids in the 21st century want to be heard, whereas I was taught to be seen and not heard.  Adults today can learn a lot if they are open to "listening" to their kids with understanding and sensitivity in a today perspective.

Then again, could it be that our young people are just too smart for their own good (or think they are)? Maybe so!   But that does not let my generation off the hook  In many respects we have failed in providing moral fibre by not passing on the "faith of our fathers"..And speaking for my parents in particular, they would be ashamed of me for letting that happen in my own life.

As stated earlier, society tends to reject Christianity or to relegate it to the private sphere: That is to say, a detachment from God as the origin and meaning of life, and therefore of experience.  It is as if God responded to "piety" and not to the demands of life. Therefore, unconsciously, we accept the role that society has decided to reserve for Christians, and that is to be the religious supplement, the soul for the fulfilment of one's own plans, instead of using our judgment and so sharing in the common aspiration of humanity for happiness.

The difficulties that young people have with Christianity today are a dramatic interrogative for the parents and spiritual leaders who may, or may not, have influenced them. Therefore we should ask ourselves, like T.S. Eliot in Choruses from the Rock, "Has the Church failed mankind, or has mankind failed the Church?"

I pray that it is not too late to turn things around for the up-and-coming generation.  Would that Dick Wright -- the "not-too-bright", often out-spoken, long-in-the-tooth sinner -- had the necessary answers.  

What we need in all of this is a Saviour to rescue us...Come to think of it -- He already has!  All we have to do is to continue following Him in the hope that enough Godliness has rubbed off on some young people today to enable them to follow the Christian path in keeping trust and love alive for generations to come.

God help society otherwise!