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

29 October, 2011

THE PERILS OF OPENING A NEW TOOTH BRUSH

Rosanne stuggling unsuccessfully to take a new tooth brush out of its packaging:


"Why do they make these things so difficult to open?  What are seniors supposed to do if they don't have a husband, or anything?

28 October, 2011

Famous Failures Movie

Sometimes in life when you think about what you should be accomplishing and what you could have achieved, it can really fill you with a sense of pain and shame. We all come up against obstacles to achieving our goals...but when you hear success stories of people who overcame numerous setbacks before finally achieving success and fame, it somehow gives us hope about ourselves.  There is something gratifying in hearing about, and sharing, the success of others.

A few posts ago I talked about Arielle Ford, a woman I had come to admire.  This link will introduce to readers of Wrights Lane a wonderfully inspiring video program Arielle has just launched and hopes to share with as many people as possible.  It doesn't cost a cent.  To view just click your cursor on the title "Famous Failures Movie", above.

27 October, 2011

GOD VERSUS US, WHO IS ABANDONING WHO?

In the almost four years that I have been publishing stories and musings on Wrights Lane, I have intentionally avoided imposing my religious beliefs, as limited as they may be, on readers.  I have preferred, instead, to pass along ecumenical food for thought from time to time that I trust might be of relative interest.  I hope that the following will be accepted in that light.


I began to take more than a passing interest in the late Charles Templeton (1915-2001) about 40 years ago and that interest peaked in 1977 when I received an advanced review copy of  "Act of God", published by McClelland and Stewart Limited of Toronto, when I was managing editor of the Brampton Daily Times.  At the time, Jack McClelland predicted a bestseller and suggested that my advanced copy would eventually have value as a collectors' item.  To this day, the novel  "Act of God" by Charles Templeton remains one of the most interesting and imaginative books that I have ever read.  I'm taking Jack at his word and giving the review edition special care.


For me personally, Templeton was likewise, the most interesting Canadian cartoonist, evangelist, agnostic, politician, newspaper editor, inventor, broadcaster and author (no kidding) in my experience -- and definitely the most complicated and contradictory.  Truly gifted in everything he turned his mind to, Templeton was a well-known evangelical church leader who turned his back on God while still in the ministry.  He became an agnostic who took opportunity to publicly attack Christianity through his many connections in the press and broadcast industries.


Sadly, he had just finished writing his last book entitled "Farewell to God" when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. In "Farewell to God", he made the claim:  "I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their manifestations. deleterious  to individuals and to society."


Soon after release of the controversial book, old friend Billy Graham, aware of his illness, called Templeton in an attempt to persuade him to re-read the New Testament Gospel before he could no longer seriously consider his eternal destiny.  Templeton, of course, refused, saying he had been there and done that.


This all begs the question in my mind:  As Templeton abandoned God publicly and privately, did God abandon him?


Unless I am wrong, I do not know that God holds a hammer over any one's head.  If you insist on turning your back on Christian roots and beliefs, He will most certainly let you go and leave you to yourself to sink or swim in life.  As Anne Graham Lotz suggests, "the most frightening form of judgment is not necessarily fire falling from heaven or the earth opening up to swallow you, but God removing himself from your life."


One of the most solemn thoughts about our current condition in North America is the seemingly unsolvable problems of race, immorality, drugs, and our insistence on separation of church and state to the extreme.  Are these social issues, combined with increasing environmental problems, a direct result of a concerted effort to remove the name of God from our public life?  Is God giving us the freedom to destroy ourselves?


When we ignore God in our private lives, does He likewise ignore us?


I'm just saying...

26 October, 2011

May every soul that touches mine,
Be it the slightest contact,
Get therefore some good:
Some little grace; one kindly thought;
One aspiration yet unfelt;
One bit of courage
For the darkening sky;
One gleam of faith
To brave the thickening ills of life;
One glimpse of brighter skies
Beyond the gathering mists
To make this life worthwhile...

...I am not perfect dear friend,
Forgive me if I have failed!

23 October, 2011

GOOD OLD HARVEY HELPED EASE THE PAIN OF A VERY COSTLY MISTAKE BY ME THE NOVICE

I think often about people who left a favorablle impression on me as a young lad struggling to make his way in the world.  I have written about two or three of them in past Wrights Lane posts.  Their kindness and caring has served me well and will never be forgotten.  I honor their memory.


For some unknown reason this morning I woke up thinking about a gentleman by the name of Harvey Galloway from my days in the mens' clothing business in the late 1950s. It is easy to remember the cigar-smoking Harvey who was rather gruff on the outside, but a pussy cat on the inside.  He was a natty dresser and a haberdasher of the old school.  He had a knack of beating all of us to 90 per cent of the customers coming through the front door, which accounted for the fact that he would collect commission cheques most months and why the rest of us rarely did. 


It took a while, but Harvey and I developed a genuine liking for each other.  He the 70-year-old mentor and me the 20-year-old novice just starting to get his feet wet in the business. We had some pretty amazing chats, the like of which you would have with a father or favorite uncle.  Harvey and his dear wife never did have children and I think that in some small way I filled a void.


Three of us, Harvey, me and Danny Clibborn, worked regularly on the floor of the Jack Fraser Store in St. Thomas.  Harvey was responsible for the clothing department (suits, sports jackets and overcoats), Danny the work goods section (jeans, overalls, work shirts) and boys wear, while I was in charge of furnishings (dress, shirts, sports shirts, ties, socks, underwear, windbreaker jackets, hats and caps).  We were permitted to sell in all sections of the store, providing the person in charge of the particular department was otherwise occupied.


I took special training in the art of tailoring and was awarded second call in the "clothing" department which is where I found myself one day serving a very short, portly customer who was interested in a made-to-measure suit.  Having selected a cloth sample to his liking, I proceeded to take very careful measurements of his 40-inch chest, 42-inch waist and very short 26-inch leg inseam.  Special care was given his choice of styles for both the coat (wing lapel, two-button doubled breasted) and trousers (no pleats, set side pockets, no cuffs).  The gentleman explained that he generally wore out pants quicker than jackets and that he would like to order two extra pairs of matching trousers to go with his suit.


After the gentleman and his wife left the store, I diligently doubled-checked his made-to-measure order form and duly sent it off to Shiffer-Hillman Tailors in Toronto.


The suit arrived in the customary three weeks time and my customer anxiously came in to try it on.  On exiting the fitting room I was momentarily elated to hear him say that "everything fits just fine -- but I have a problem with the pockets on the pants".  My heart sank to my shoes as a "full top" pocket was revealed and not the "set side" pocket style that I thought I had ticked off on the order form. 


But, sure enough, there it was in black and white on the order form...I had checked off the wrong box.   
Set side pocket

Full slant pocket


Traditionally, the front pocket opening on a pair of dress trousers is a straight up-and-down slit, usually with no or very minimal hemming. This is to reduce its visual impact, hiding the fact that there is a pocket there at all as much as possible. Slanted pockets, particularly with a distinctive hem, are more casual but still appropriate on most trouser *(see accompanying illustrations).  You will almost never see the scooped style of jeans pockets on dress pants, outside of the occasional pair of corduroys or similar dress-casual wear.


Understandably disappointed, the customer said he did not think that he could adjust to the full top pocket, and I had to agree.  Because it was my inadvertent error, I offered to order three more sets of trousers with the correct pocket style and the gentleman agreed.  I then had the unsavory task of explaining to store manager Gordon Fox what had transpired.


Gordon approved the second order but said that I would have to pay for it out of my own pocket.  A $60.00 charge (more than one week's wages) was subsequently added to my staff account and the odd-sized trousers were placed in stock in the hope of selling them to another over-sized midget, if there ever was another.  I suppose I could have kept the trousers myself and worn them in place of peddal-pusher shorts in the summer but I was only a 34-inch waist back then, so that was out of the question. 


Shortly after the pocket debacle, I was called in to head office in Toronto for another 20-month training period.  After that I worked in the Chatham branch store for the better part of a year before being transferred back to St. Thomas again, almost three years later. 


One of the first things I did when arriving back in the St. Thomas store was to rather reluctantly check the pants rack to see if those jinxed three pairs of trousers were still there after all that time, and sure enough they were with the same $29.95 price tags intact.  A costly and ugly reminder of a stupid mistake that I never made again.


Some time later, on a busy Saturday in the store, I overheard Harvey talking to a familiar figure partially hidden behind a coat rack.  It was my old suit customer of three years prior and Harvey was explaining that the man's rejected trousers were still in stock and that he didn't think that it was fair that I had to pay for the replacement order.  "They will fit you perfectly and if nothing else they will make good work trousers for you," Harvey convincingly suggested.  "Tell you what, I think that we would gladly take $30.00 for all three pairs and we'll be doing everybody a favor."  The man said that he had no idea that I would be required to pay for the mistake and readily agreed to the "buy of the century" giving me a sheepish smile and a knowing thumbs up from across the store.  I'll guarantee that's one suit where his coat did not outlast the trousers (all six pairs).


I noticed that Harvey did not ring in the sale and we both went about serving other customers.  At closing time a few hours later that evening, Harvey pushed three $10.00 bills into my shirt pocket.  "Here, this belongs to you young fella.  I always felt bad that you had to pay.  It was not right.  Hope this makes up for some of it."  I thanked my old friend profusely.  I couldn't say much because of a lump in my throat.


After the passing of his wife, Harvey retired but continued to work part-time in the store a few hours a week and spent the last year of his life in a St. Thomas nursing home.  The last time were were together, I was several years removed from the clothing business and he was a guest in my home where my late wife Anne treated him (us) to his favorite roast beef dinner and lemon meringue pie.


It's been a long time, but in reflective moods I still miss old Harvey who went out of his way to ease the discomfort of a costly mistake by a "young fella" who never forgot his kindness.


I still get a lump in my throat too.


22 October, 2011

DEAL WITH THE TRUTH, DON'T POSTPONE IT

Sometimes we feel we simply cannot bear to know the truth about a certain situation in our life.  We fear a matter so much, we ultimately decide that the best way to protect ourselves from it, is to ignore it.  If we keep acting as if everything is fine, the hope is that perhaps somehow, magically, the issue will work itself out satisfactorily.

If we are lucky, we may never get to the moment where we have to confront an uncomfortable reality, right?.  There is just one problem with such an attitude, however.  It forces us to go blindly through life and leaves us vulnerable.  So bravely take the bull by the horns, my friends.  Tackle the issue head on -- the sooner the better.  You need fear nothing, save fear itself, and even that will vanish once you take charge of the truth.

How well I know this to be true!

21 October, 2011

I HAD "THE SECRET" AND DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT

This from the library of my father Kenneth Wright, 1899-1952:  "In Tune With The Infinite" was written by Ralph Waldo Trine and published in 1897.  It is interesting to see in this publication, remarkable similarities to the much-hyped, multi-million dollar program The Secret which was introduced more than 100 years later.  The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name and released in DVD format.  I paid quite a bit of money for the DVD several years ago, little knowing at the time that I had "The Secret" for free in the form of a dust-covered, musty old 222-page book that was within an arm's reach in my study.

"Secret" be damned, there is nothing new under the sun! See what you think from this Preface by Trine, written in typical 1800s style, as just a sample of his thesis.  Wonder where Byrne got her inspiration?


Ralph Waldo Trine (1866-1958) was a philosopher, mystic, teacher and author of many books, and was one of the early mentors of the New Thought Movement.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"There is a golden thread that runs through every religion in the world.  There is a golden thread that runs through the lives and the teachings of all the prophets, seers, sages, and saviors in the world's history, through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power.  All that they have ever done or attained to has been done in full accordance with law.  What one has done, all may do.

"This same golden thread must enter into the lives of all who today, in this busy work-a-day world of ours, would exchange impotence for power, weakness and suffering for abounding health and strength, pain and unrest for perfect peace, poverty of whatever nature for fullness and plenty.

"Each is building his own world.  We both build from within and we *attract from without.  Thought is the force with which we build, for thoughts are forces.  Like builds like and like attracts like.  In the degree that thought is spiritualized does it become more subtle and powerful in its workings.  The spiritualizing is in accordance with law and is within the power of all.

"Everything is first worked out in the unseen before it is manifested in the seen, in the ideal before it is realized in the real, in the spiritual before it shows forth in the material.  The realm of the seen is the realm of effect.  The nature of effect is always determined and conditioned by the nature of its cause.

"To point out the great facts in connection with, and the great laws underlying the workings of the interior, spiritual thought forces, to point them out so simply and so clearly that even a child can understand, is the author's aim.  To point them out so simply and so clearly that all can grasp them, that all can take them and infuse them into every-day life, so as to mould it in all its details in accordance with what they would have it, is his purpose.  That life can be thus moulded by them is not a matter of mere speculation or theory with him, but a matter of positive knowledge.

"There is a Divine sequence running throughout the universe.  Within and above and below the human will incessantly works the Divine will.  To come into harmony with it and thereby with all the higher laws and forces, to come then into league and to work in conjunction with them, in order that they can work in league and in conjunction with us, is to come into the chain of this wonderful sequence.  This is the secret of all success.  This is to come into possession of unknown riches, into the realization of undreamed-of powers."


(*The Law of Attraction, as highly touted in The Secret.)
Truth be known, I was far more impressed with Trine's In Tune With the Infinite than I was with Byrne's extensively marketed and highly commercial The Secret.  I may quote Trine more extensively in future posts, but I leave you with this:


"Within each one lies the cause of whatever comes to him.  Each has it in his own hands to determine what comes.  Everything in the visible, material world has its origin in the unseen, the spiritual, the thought world.  This is the world of cause, the former is the world of effect.  The nature of the effect is always in accordance with the nature of cause. What one lives in his invisible thought world, he is continually actualizing in his visible, material world.  If he would have any conditions different in the latter he must make necessary changes in the former..." 

19 October, 2011

LET'S NOT LET THE WORLD COLLAPSE AROUND US WITHOUT A UNIFIED STAND FOR CHANGE

As I approach my 500th post on Wrights Lane, I have to admit to a degree of reservation.  For several days I have been weighing the pros and cons of this one in particular, with increasingly heavy emotion.  I do not know where I am going to start nor how I am going to end, and that is not good for someone sitting down to commit words to text.

Realistically, God willing, my life span has another 10-12 years left in it and I feel rather limited in what I can accomplish in that period.  In spite of honorable intentions, I question any meaningful impact that I have had on the world, so why should any of that all of a sudden change in the days ahead?  I feel somewhat helpless and personally incapable in a world that is on the verge of collapsing around us.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone in what I am feeling.  That is why I am tackling this post in the hope that if I am ever to be taken seriously, if my writing ever stands for anything, may this be the time.

I need not elaborate on the immanent collapse of our economy, taking with it governments and countries. There is the very real threat of a new world order taking over our lives.  We find ourselves in the position of  scrambling for ways to patch damage done to our environment, in many cases too little too late.  We look to governments with poor track records, vying for public favor, yet incapable of providing adequate solutions.

In fact, what we need in our world is not more government, but more freedom. If we had freedom, integrity and personal responsibility, we would not be facing the global collapse that has already begun. But alas, the human race is an infant species and it must learn some lessons the hard way, it seems.

The problems are complex beyond our understanding, and it is not only unlikely that there is a single solution but there may be no solutions at all -- if by “solution” we mean a way to continue human existence on the planet at its current level. We need experiments on every front that will help us imagine new ways of being, and sufficient will to carry out the tasks.
We humans have been given a privileged place in a world that is beautiful beyond description, and we are destroying it and destroying each other. Many of us cope with that by building temporary psychological damns and dikes to hold back our concern. But the emotion comes so powerfully from so many different directions that life feels like a process of constantly patching and moving and rebuilding those damns and dikes. Some of this is intensely personal.  The only way to cope effectively is to use some of the energy we have left in collective efforts to try to build something positive.
There is a lot of individual variation in the human species, which means there will be lots of different reactions as the reality of our predicament sets in. I worry that in a society like North America, where so many have lived for so long with abundance and a sense of entitlement, people will not be able to face up to the dramatic changes that are inevitable. That could lead people to accept greater levels of hierarchy and authority if political leaders promise to protect that affluence. In that case, people’s inability to deal with the emotions that arise out of awareness of collapse could usher in an era of even more unjust distribution of wealth and resources in an even more violent world.
The only way to combat that is to talk openly about what we see coming and work to create conditions that allow us to rely on the best of our nature, not the worst.  The eternal life that we are now living will be well lived if we take good care of each little period of time as it presents itself day after day. If we fail in doing this, we fail in everything.

I honestly feel that we need to be more aware of the need for righteousness in our world today.  When we fully realize this truth we see that it makes but little difference what particular form of religion one holds to, but it does make a tremendous difference how true we are to vital principals.  In the degree that we love self less and love truth more, in the degree that we care less about converting people to our particular way of thinking, all the more will we care to aid them in coming into full realization of truth through channels best adapted to them.

A mass, unified unfolding of souls and disregard for differences is our best chance of fortifying against the threat of collapse in our world today.  We need to put form aside, tear down the fences and reel in prejudices that keep us from coming into the realization of universal truth.  Time and attention must be given to bringing people into a knowledge of their true selves and an understanding of relations with others and of oneness with the Infinite.

No form of government, no corporation, no special interest group, no one world leader, will ever solve all the problems facing us today.  But right thinking people, speaking out and acting in concert, can be a powerful force in bringing about change that is so desperately needed.

Yes, we have our work cut out for us all right.  A lot of soul-searching is required and many changes must be made.  Sacrifice of certain expectations is inevitable. We are all in this together regardless of race, religion, politics or sexual persuasion.  Each one of us has a role to play in our destiny and it is up to us individually to reach out and grasp it before it is too late.

So there you have it.  A start and an ending...And in between idealistic words that some of us may be more capable of accepting and acting on than others.  If nothing else, I hope that at least I've got you thinking. Everything begins with a thought, right!?

United, we stand!  Divided, we fall...And the world collapses along with us, sorry to say!  I can't put it any other way.

16 October, 2011

LEGEND: GOD THE "BAKER" OF MAN

I have been reading a book, Thunder Out Of China, which was included in my father's rather extensive library.  Published in 1946, authors Theodore White and Annalee Jacoby provided an eye-opening account of how China became a communist state.

In a well-researched chapter, "Campaign in the South Seas", White and Jacoby describe how the white man's arrogant military trampled roughshod over the dignity and culture of the dark-skinned peoples of Asia.  Stories in history tell us of how the Orient was looted of its wealth and how faith was thrust down the gullet of the heathen at the point of a bayonet.  For hundreds of years the bitterness and resentment in Asia had been gradually accumulating against the system and pressure was reaching the volcanic stage.  A not-too subtle movement to humiliate the white man within sight of his slaves, gained momentum with the hope of driving him out of Asia,

An interesting ancient Filipinos legend about how God made the world's first man, was of particular interest to me and just one of many revelations awaiting me in Thunder Out Of China.  As this particular legend has it, God fashioned a man tenderly until every detail was perfect and then put the image into an oven to bake.  He opened the oven too late, however, and the man was burned black.  This was, after all, the first man God had ever created.  Breathing life into the figure, He determined to try again.  God put the same material into the second man, shaped with the same care as before, and waited eagerly; but He grew impatient with waiting and opened the oven too soon revealing a man that was undone, a sickly and pasty white.

God was not satisfied with his second attempt and reproached Himself for another mistake.  So He made a third man, this time waiting patiently for just the right amount of time before removing the figure from the oven.  The third man was baked neither too much or too little.  He was a smooth golden brown colour, and God was satisfied.

This story could well have been of Malay, Burmese or Indonesian origin.  It could be told of China or Japan.  It could be the story of any brown or yellow-skinned people who had been made defensively aware of their colour by the coming of the white man.  The consciousness of colour that had been imposed by whites with stress on their superiority and dominance of the pale, and on the humble subjection of the dark, was the strongest weapon in Japan's arsenal in a tempestuous assault on the empires of the South Seas in the winter and spring of 1942, subsequent to entering the war against the British and Americans.

Indeed, an aspect of history that is interesting to contemplate.

Kind of explains too, why so many of us are half baked.
                                                                                                    

14 October, 2011

THE MANY USES OF THE WORD "FOOL"

I don't know what there is about the classic works of William Shakespeare that makes you remember parts of certain scenes almost verbatim.  Some of us work Shakespeare expressions into our conversations, even to this day.  One of my favorites from the Merchant of Venus is:  "Still more fool I shall appear, by the time I linger here..."

Truth be known, I think about that expression more often than I verbalize it.  "Still more fool..." comes to mind frequently when I am writing something and wondering how my words will be perceived by the reader..."Am I expressing myself effectively?"  "Am I taking too long to establish my point?"  "Is my thesis off base and ill-conceived?"  In short, "Will I make myself appear foolish by continuing with this subject?"

Some quotes from Shakespeare also leave me wondering about myself.  A good example is:  "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."  Makes you think, doesn't it?

The word "fool"  haunted me the other day and prompted me to think about how many expressions or old sayings there were in the English language that included the pejorative term.  Just off the top of my head I came up with a list of 20 expressions, some quotations, that we commonly work into our everyday conversations and I am sure that I only scratched the surface.  Consider these:

A fool and his money are soon parted.
   It takes a fool to argue.
A fool's errand.
   Fool's paradise.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
   Nobody's fool.
Don't suffer fools gladly.
   There's no fool like an old fool.
Don't act the fool.
   Could have fooled me.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
   You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you   
   cannot fool all of the people all the time.  --Abraham Lincoln
Fools look to tomorrow, wise men use tonight.
   Stop fooling around.
Once a fool always a fool.
   I'm a fool to care.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishess.

If fool-related expressions were not enough, I also found 34 words that incorporated the word "fool" as either a noun, a verb or an adjective.  I don't think that there is any other word that is that versitile.  Here are a few uses of the word, some more common today than others:  befool, befooled, befooling, befoolsfooled, fooleries, foolery, foolfish, foolfishes, foolhardier, foolhardiest, foolhardily, foolhardiness, foolhardinesses, foolhardy, fooling, foolish, foolisher, foolishest, foolishly, foolishness, foolishnesses, foolproof, fools, foolscap, foolscaps, outfool, outfooled, outfooling, outfools, tomfool, tomfooleries, tomfoolery, tomfools.

Well, that's it.  I've fooled around with this subject long enough!  See if you can add to the lists.

O, incidentally, I only quoted half of the Shakespeare expression "Still more fool I shall appear, by the time I linger here..."  The other half is:  "...With one fools' head I came to woo, but I go away with two!"

13 October, 2011

LOSERS IN POLITICS AND LIFE HAVE MY SYMPATHY

After writing this post last night I was especially taken with my Your Stars horoscope in the newspaper this morning, Thursday, Oct. 13.  "Whatever you do, someone will criticize you for it.  Or, at the very least, they will question you about it.  If you are feeling sensitive and defensive, you may interpret their doubt as disapproval.  Then you may waste much precious time and energy, either worring unduly or preparing an unnecessarily strong defence.  What's really important today, is that you give your own intuition the trust that it deserves.  Your judgment is sound.  Your insight is astute.  Believe in yourself..."

Hmmmm.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I received a rather negative, anonymous response to my post on the defeat of Huron-Bruce Liberal candidate Carol Mitchell in last week's provincial election.  (See comment below, inappropriately attached to my offbeat "Thanks"giving sentiment.)

I have seen many elections come and go in my 74 years, a number of which I covered as a journalist.  I have not been beyond contributing to some election campaigns in my capacity as a publicist.  The elation of victory and the agony of defeat are never more prevalent than in campaign headquarters as emotions ebb and flow with each incoming pole result.  I am aware also, of how well (debatable) compensated politicians are and of the perceived perks of public office, but that was not the point in my piece on Carol Mitchell, and all other losers in elections past and present.

None of us, politicians included, anticipate losing.  Even though there is the realistic possibility of losing, we naturally undertake challenges in life with the expectation of emerging victorious.  Otherwise, why bother?  We celebrate victory and we mourn a loss of any kind, again that is only natural.  The sting of defeat is measured by the degree in which we have applied ourselves to a task or cause.  As with any walk of life, the harder we try the harder it is to fall.  In spite of skin that is thick out of necessity, politicians are capable of bleeding and are deserving of a little compassion when the life that they have known comes to a screeching halt at the polls.  No amount of transitional compensation ever completely makes up for the price that is paid emotionally, hense my comment:  "You couldn't pay me enough..."  That point alone should not be too difficult to appreciate.


I was merely writing from a human standpoint about the disappointment and anguish that comes with losing.  Carol Mitchell's upset last week simply gave me a peg on which to hang a long-held belief, albeit spontaneously expressed.   There is a lot of insensitivity and callousness in politics and I felt that I wanted to present a sensitive perspective on losing that is often overlooked in media reports and conversations in the coffee shop.  As I have written on many occasions, that is the nice thing about publishing your own web site -- you can freely express what is on your mind and in your heart and you can go on and on about it to your heart's content.

As a commentator of everyday life, I put myself in other peoples' shoes and give the benefit of doubt whenever possible.  I just happen to have a soft spot for losers.  I kind of know how it feels.

I write, for the most part, with gut-felt emotion and from experience.  If I feel something strong enough, I commit it to this site with as much emphasis as I am capable.  That's my style and that's what Wrights Lane is all about -- like it or not.

And my name is always attached to any comments I make in this and all other forums.


Perhaps some would say that I have "gone on" long enough!?

08 October, 2011

POLITICS: IT IS POSSIBLE TO WIN BY LOSING

I have always been of the opinion that politics, more often than not, is a thankless, nasty business.  Politicians are constantly open to criticism, not only from opposition party members but from their own constituents as well.  They are damned if they do and damned if they don't.  They can never do enough to meet the demanding expectations of a growing number of interest groups seeking funding from the seemingly bottomless public purse.

This was never more evident to me than this past Thursday evening in my riding of Huron Bruce.

The mood grew sombre as supporters and volunteers watched the voting numbers begin to trickle in at what was to have been MPP Carol Mitchell's election night celebration party in Clinton.  Mitchell, who has been in politics for 18 years, eight in provincial legislature, was defeated in a true upset by a fresh-faced Progressive Conservative candidate Lisa Thompson.

IN HAPPIER TIMES
MPP for Huron Bruce as well as serving as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in the McGuinty government, Mitchell travelled extensively throughout her riding as MPP and throughout the province as a Cabinet Minister.   I never met the woman and I did not vote for her this time around, but from my vantage point she was a diligent and conscientious representative of the people.  As both an MPP and cabinet minister she would have sacrificed much of her personal life in carrying out a very demanding mandate.  There had to be a toll on her in terms of stress and strain.  With her disappointing fate sealed Thursday night, a pale and grim-faced Mitchell gave a brief statement to the media in her campaign office and then with a dismissive good riddance sweep of the hand, asked them to leave before she spoke with her supporters and volunteers, many of whom were visibly shaken by the upset.

I cannot begin to imagine how devastating it must be to have tangible evidence that there are at least ten thousand people out there in your constituency who do not like what you stand for.  Think of the damage that would do to one's confidence, pride and sense of self-worth.  Dreams and aspirations dashed in an election that drew less than 50 percent of eligible voters.

Mitchell was definitely the victim of the "we need a change" movement which seemed to prevail in Huron Bruce.  The public can be very fickle in that way.  She also ran afoul of a doctors lobby that was not satisfied with conditions in the emergency department at the hospital in Southampton, despite a $1 million infusion by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to help keep the ED functioning.  It did not help, too, that in her capacity as agriculture minister she choose to reinforce a commitment to the farm community by attending the International Plowing Match in Prescott instead of an all-candidates meeting in Saugeen Shores where the doctors were lined up to bombard her with questions.


She did not realize it on Thursday night, but once the hurt and disappointment wears off, she will no doubt be a lot better off out of politics where she can start living her life for herself for the first time in eight years.  No demands.  No expectations.  No more potential for criticism from a public that does not understand, or care, that she did her best under difficult circumstances to be all things to all people.

I hope that there are sufficient supporters close to Carol Mitchell who will support and console her over the course of her difficult and painful transition to private life.  She will need that.

Ego aside, you could not pay me enough to expose myself to the life of a politician today.  My hat is off to those who do.

Good luck to Lisa Thompson!  She'll need it

07 October, 2011

WE ALL HAVE STRENGTH WE NEVER KNEW

I've said it many times before and I'll say it again:  We all have strength that we did not know existed deep within us.  Without even knowing it, we find ourselves adapting to unexpected and unfortunate situations that life throws in our path.  We forget that we have this facility until circumstances put us under pressure.

Just when we are starting to think that we have no answers, we suddenly find ourselves taking in stride, and dealing with, seemingly impossible problems and challenges.  This hidden ability is really a blessing in disguise and should give us all reason for hope.

Little did I realize when I was in my 20's that I would encounter career setbacks, financial hardship, health issues, death of loved ones and be cast in a situation where I was required to become a primary caregiver for a critically ill spouse.  At 20-years-of-age, I would have said "no way that I could ever handle situations like that."  But I did, to the point that I now consider myself a seasoned veteran, still dealing with the unexpected in life armed with that strength that I never knew I had.

I think that most of us do our best in our advanced years, intuitively adapting in our own way to unpleasant life issues and unexpected circumstances with a certain resolve:  We may be getting older, but in spite of aches and pains, we are growing stronger in many respects -- and getting better.

When I wear out, I will be worn out!  I never thought of it that way, but in the end it will feel kind of good knowing that I had the God-given strength to make it that far.

06 October, 2011

TO SHOP OR NOT TO SHOP, THAT'S THE QUESTION

According to Susan Boon, Ph.D., a social psychologist at the University of Calgary, the secret to matrimonial harmony lies in coming to terms with differences rather than trying to solve the unsolvable. The solution, it would seem, is to embrace the tastes, opinions, preferences, and unique viewpoints that make each of us individuals, rather than trying to eliminate them.


The ancient Japanese art of Wabi Sabi that I am currently studying is all about giving the benefit of the doubt and becoming involved in your partner's special interests.  Sharing your partner’s passion isn’t always easy, however, especially if you have an innate  aversion to it. 



A Wabi Sabi heart is generous in the interpretation of events and with its time and investment in making the relationship number one, despite opposing viewpoints.  Shopping is a great example of how couples who have a lot in common can still become diametrically opposed.  This is definitely an area that presents a very real challenge for me personally.


Did you know that it has now been scientifically proven that men and women have radically different approaches to shopping?  While women tend to troll the malls for deals and delight, men often apply a more linear methodology to purchases...Go get it.  Get in and get out.  According to research conducted by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the reason lies in our evolutionary psychology, i.e. men hunt; women gather.

Thousands of years ago women had to develop a keen sense of discernment to differentiate the poisonous berries from the nonpoisonous ones. At the same time, men planned their attack first in an effort to conserve energy, then grabbed their prey with practiced dexterity.  These opposing strategies sustain the human race, but when it comes to consumer activity today, men and women often get entangled in a cross-fire of their own making.  I get absolutely worn out waiting for Rosanne to make a selection for something as simple as a greeting card.  Heaven help me when it comes to larger purchases -- things like clothing, shoes, jewellery and cosmetics.  I shutter to even think about it.  Like foraging the forest floor for nutrients, shopping is both a social and sensual experience for her, I am convinced. 

"A shared mission to search out the perfect little black dress can be a totally fulfilling night out with a favorite girlfriend," says Arielle Ford in her book Wabi Sabi Love.  "Women enjoy roaming around until something catches their eye, whether they are searching for clothes, shoes, purses, or accessories (especially if they are at bargain prices)."

"One of the reasons women adore shopping is because it fully engages all of our senses. Running your hand across the fabrics from silk and satin to linen and leathers, observing the colors and patterns and styles of the latest fashions, smelling the newest fragrances and feeling fine leather shoes on your feet are delightful experiences most men never care about," she adds.


Okay Arielle, I'll buy all of that, but it is expecting a little too much for me to tag along behind my wife while she engages her senses in a shopping mall.  As for me I'll patiently wait for her while engaging senses of my own in a hardware store -- or maybe hunting for the nearest pub.



04 October, 2011

CALL ME (US) OLD FASHIONED


I believe in promoting Canadian music talent whenever possible but when a young group produces a song with meaningful lyrics that we can all relate to, it is more than deserving of special mention.  There is a song included in a recently released CD by the award-winning Canadian trio High Valley that more than fits into this category.

"Call Me Old Fashioned" is a song written by Jerry Salley and David Turnbull and sung by Canadian brothers Brad, Bryan and Curtis Rampel.  Here are the lyrics that have grabbed my attention.  (I couldn't have said it any better, or sung it any better for that matter.)


I believe in making my money the hard way - so I work for it
And every job I do I do with pride
I believe in keeping a promise that I make - you've got my word on it
When I shake your hand and look you in the eye
I believe in my country and putting your hand over your heart
And taking off your hat when that anthem starts


Call me old fashioned
Call me out of touch for having faith in the way it was
When mom and pop was the place we shopped & a check was good for cashing
Call me out of style that's who I am when a neighbor's down I reach out my hand
I just can't turn my head and walk right past 'em
(And open up a ladies door without her asking)
Call me old fashioned


I believe a man should have to ask permission - for a woman's hand
Before he gets down on one knee
I believe in passing down traditions - every chance you can
So children learn what family means
And sitting round the supper table every night at six o'clock
Talking 'bout your day with the TV off


Call me old fashioned,
Call me out of touch for having faith in the way it was
When a golden band on someone's hand meant love was everlasting
Call me out of style, that's who I am, I believe kids need a mom and a dad
(And) They're worth working out any problems that you're having
Call me old fashioned


Call me out of style - that's who I am - I still say "yes sir and thank you ma'am"
And wish kids still prayed in school before their classes
Sometimes I shake my head and ask myself what happened?
Call me old fashioned.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


High Valley introduced "Call Me Old Fashioned" during a concert at the Hamilton Place Studio Theatre in March of this year.  To listen to a tape of that performance click


http://youtu.be/Jrp9C4SzV3k

The quality of this tape is not the greatest, but you'll get a feeling for the song and the group.  The CD is much better.

03 October, 2011

TO BEND OR NOT TO BEND, THAT'S THE QUESTION

Nothing is ever achieved by a stubborn standoff of wills. 

In every relationship, friendship, agreement or involvement, there has to be some given and take.  Sometimes, it is necessary and appropriate for one person to bend just a little further than the other, at least for a while, in order to bring about a degree of resolve.

The questions the bender has to ask are: "How much do I want to maintain the relationship or connection?" and "How far should I bend?"  Bending is an act of conciliation and not always a sign of weakness.

Taking things too far, however, can be at the expense of principles.  There is a fine line between bending and standing ground.  Either way we must live with the consequences of our action.  Life always goes on, regardless! 

02 October, 2011

NOW THAT'S A LOT OF SQUASH

A record-setting pumpkin did not materialize at the 25th annual Pumpkinfest in Port Elgin on Saturday but a mammoth world record squash did.  Shown here weighing in at a remarkable 1,486.6 lbs. to set the new world mark, is the fruit of a summer's nurturing for Joel Jarvis of St. Thomas, ON.  In the photo below hundreds of spectators and growers filled the stands to view the weighing-in of entries from all over Ontario.  The winning pumpkin this year came from Quebec and tipped the scales at only(?) a little more 1,600 lbs.  The two-day festival was blessed with perfect fall weather and expected to attract well over 35,000 visitors.