Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Heroes— Faux or Fearless

Courage is not the towering oak 
that sees storms come and go;
It is the fragile blossom 
that opens in the snow.
Alice Mackenzie Swaim

Not only the news, but also all fiction (save some literary strains) focuses on active heroism. Rescue someone from a fire, face a serial killer, stand up to a bully and punch ‘em back, and a story worth the readers’ time is also deemed worth telling.

Thus, we lose the heroes of everyday that are all around us. Those who carry on while others give them nary a glance, those who continue to think independently in times and places where pressure to conform is overwhelming. As they remain authentic, they do not convert this independence to a ruckus riot.

And most of all, those who retain their creativity and humanity while humbly considering others’ feedback, but not breaking under the weight of negation.

So many of the people in my life are heroes. I salute them. Maybe we should write more stories about them. The quiet blossoms in the snow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Placebo as the Real Deal


Noun: placebo; plural noun: placebos
1.     A harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect.
"His Aunt Beatrice had been kept alive on sympathy and placebos for thirty years"
2.     A substance that has no therapeutic effect, used as a control in testing new drugs.
3.     A measure designed merely to calm or please someone.
 {{From the Latin meaning "I shall please"}

I have a friend who is a retired physician. She insists that most doctors don’t know much most of the time. But she also says that appearing to be in the know and having a Ms./Mr. Fix-it demeanor is half of the treatment right there.

This didn’t make me happy to hear. We pay a lot of good money for what might be a fifty percent pretend.

In an article in the New York Times Magazine (November 10, 2018) the question as to whether placebo is part of the cure seems to be settled. The power of the mind was scientifically vindicated, sending the western scientific method into uncharted territory.

Seems to me this pertains to the rest of our endeavors. It tells me that if I think I can, I am already halfway there. In certain instances, I am all the way there.

So marching on, and encouraging ‘y’all to believe. Not in fairies, but in the power of the tales they tell.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Greeting a NEW YEAR

To the purely rational mind, January first is just another day. This year it is a Tuesday. Another Tuesday.

But the change of a digit on the year-counter has an almost magical effect on the parts of us that are not purely rational.

A new year, and a parade of new hopes and dreams.

Some take stock in the year that just ended, achievements and regrets. I find myself doing that on the Jewish New Year, (Rosh Hashanah) as the ten days that follow it are meant to be days of reflection culminating in atonement. The secular New Year (Gregorian counter) is a time for renewed oomph and hope. No resolutions, just a vow to march on with stars in my eyes.

On January first, the verses of Thomas Hardy’s (1840-1928) Song of Hope are singing in my ears:

O sweet To-morrow! - 
After to-day 
There will away 
This sense of sorrow. 
Then let us borrow 
Hope, for a gleaming 
Soon will be streaming, 
Dimmed by no gray - 
No gray! 

While the winds wing us 
Sighs from The Gone, 
Nearer to dawn 
Minute-beats bring us; 
When there will sing us 
Larks of a glory 
Waiting our story 
Further anon - 

Doff the black token, 
Don the red shoon, 
Right and retune 
Viol-strings broken; 
Null the words spoken 
In speeches of rueing, 
The night cloud is hueing, 
To-morrow shines soon - 
Shines soon!

Happy New Year!