Ski Weekends

We went skiing this last weekend.

That sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it? It sort of conjures an image of daring and sportiness, Apres ski, and so on.

When I say we, I really mean my partner and daughter went skiing. Off they went and down they came the ski slope again and again and again. Me, I either watched them shivering in the freezing cold breeze, or you would have found me skiing several times down the last 50 meters or so of the slope, cursing like a trooper, moving like a skewered Giraffe on drugs and sweating like a … well, pig actually.

You see, Skiing terrifies me.

It sounds good. I’m going skiing! The reality is that anything more than 15 degrees sloped downwards and I can’t. My legs, back and arms tense up so much that it actually looks as if I have muscles. I begin to sweat in total and utter fear. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to convince myself I can do it, I just know that I can’t.

Meanwhile, kids the age of 4 go whizzing past me laughing like crazy banshees as they go. It just makes it worse. It just makes me feel so ashamed and guilty that I didn’t see a skiing slope until the age of 43 and not again until I was 47. That I didn’t really try skiing until I was over 50. Had I learned at 4 like these Czech kids, I too would be whizzing by like EVERYONE else on the slope.

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I stagger back up the hill. The boots feel like vices around my ankles and I cannot walk in them. The skis actually seem to weigh a ton and have a life of their own. I reach my destination and dump the skis down. It takes me 5 minutes to get my feet in the bloody things and I nearly fall over, or rather do the slow splits several times trying. Eventually, I look right and left for whizzing kids and, spotting a gap, I push myself out. I criss cross the slope about 10 times doing 3 mph and do a snow plough stop 50m down slope.

I wave at my daughter, 7 years old, as she whizzes past me shouting “Daddy, Daddy, look….” She has now learned to stop properly somehow leaning into the skis and showering everyone around in shaved ice. It just makes me feel worse. I quit totally demoralized and after taking 20 minutes to remove the vice-like boots (which have resulted in swollen legs), I trudge off for my hot chocolate…… if I wasn’t driving I’d have a drink, God knows I need one.

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New Year Celebration?

Please forgive me for being a party pooper but I dislike New Year. I think I detest it because I simply don’t understand it. What are we celebrating?

I suppose we are pleased to be getting rid of one year and welcoming a new one with all its potential. But don’t we do exactly that every single day? What is so special about this particular day?

And if I am to celebrate the potential of a new year then why does it begin with a hangover? what a great start – a late night and too much alcohol – the new year is already ruined before it even began!

No, if it were down to me, I’d be going to bed at a normal hour and treating it like any other day in my life. Frankly, I would rather it were still 2014 when I wake up tomorrow anyway. Why would I celebrate getting older by another year? Hell, I am still trying to figure out why 2014 went by so fast…

In fact, life is speeding up. 2014 was so quick and I know 2015 will be even faster. Slow down please!

No, I am sorry, but this is one tradition I could live without.

Happy Holidays!

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Getting Older

I once thought that
I would last forever
Had no concerns at all
Burned the candles at both ends
And in the middle too
But there came a time when
I suddenly understood
Time, was moving quickly on
Everyone looks older
But not necessarily wiser
Certain songs are sung memories
Of times now long gone
Partying with people
Whose names I no longer remember
Yes indeed, life has moved on
Getting older
Getting bolder
With each passing day
Where there is a will
They say that there is a way
But the way my body feels
I’m sometimes not so sure
Quite frankly
The word manure
Or a derivation
Comes to mind
And you know
What I find
So bloody difficult
Is actually that
Aging is so damned
Unkind

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A Childlike Reality

Children often bring a smile to our lips. Their worldview unfettered by outside influence and devoid of any political pressure often provides us with laughter and sometimes remarkably powerful but simple insights into our complex world.

I have played more than my part in terms of aiding this phenomenom having fathered four children to date and each and everyone of them has taught me something valuable or brought a smile to my face in terms of what they did or said. All kids are different too right from the very beginning. Having watched my twin boys grow up I can say that… different from the very first second of life outside the womb. Obviously, it is my youngest child that now alone has this childlike ability to point out glitches in the matrix as my three sons are now all grown and have lost their childlike innocence.

Just the day before yesterday, as we drove to the store, I was moaning about the lack of sales for my books and explaining that I would really like to have one of my books (if not all) sell in the thousands or tens of thousands and not just the hundreds. Deni told me that I should write about something different like Lions or Tigers and if not that then about my life. I explained that my life really isn’t of much interest to other people and that I doubted that book would sell. Deni’s response – “it will if you put pictures of me in it!”

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This childlike confidence might not seem like very much but if you think about it, if thoughts have the power to create reality, then why do we not get what we want? The answer to that question is because no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we are thinking positively and believing completely, we also know that we are not. As adults, we have been told so many times that we can’t or we shouldn’t that it has become an inbuilt mechanism to ensure our failure and the failure of the becoming reality of our thoughts. I start out all positive and confident that my thoughts are of best selling books or a vacation in Mexico. I am sure that this will happen if I just keep picturing it, believing in it and seeing it. a couple of hours later though, it starts. “Don’t be bloody daft,” says that initial passing doubting thought. To be followed by internal bickering no doubt and ultimately failure. The child though has yet to be programed for failure. The child still knows how to believe without self-doubt. The child ought to be able to really create their own reality. It’s a shame Deni can’t help me create mine.

I hear resonance of this when I think of the words by Jesus about entering heaven. He says that whoever wants to enter heaven must first convert and then become as little children. I would see heaven as the state that Humans should aspire to and conversion would be to understand this. To become as little children would restore our inner confidence and ability to believe.

To become childlike has a meaning to me that involves cutting away the baggage that has been placed upon me and being truly what I was meant to be. A similar analogy is the Fool and to be foolish. In essence being childlike and being foolish share some key characteristics in that our ego is as yet under developed and our outlook unfettered by the jaundiced views of life’s experience. To the point where, many years ago, one of my sons walked out of the bathroom and across the house past numerous assembled visitors with his trousers round his ankles to ask Dad “Can you wipe my bum please?”

A Barren Day and My Roots

Its one of those days when I am uninspired and don’t seem to have anything to say that I haven’t said before. No poetry, no bursts of irked energy for a good old rant and certainly no spiritually uplifting thoughts or feelings. These sorts of days happen. Perhaps its because I have done nothing but write anyway – white papers, Analyst briefing notes, articles, presentations etc. etc. I really do write for a living it seems – if you are interested in those professional writings take a look here).

So….

What then?

Just recently I have been feeling a bit homesick for Houston. I mean, Houston was home for 17-years and after being away almost 8-years, I do miss it from time to time. I miss the heat would you believe and I miss the general ambience – the buildings, restaurants, bars…. but not enough to go back and live there.

I left home when I was 18. I couldn’t wait. There was nothing wrong with home nor family. I adored my parents and have two lovely brothers. I miss the hell out of my Dad and can’t wait to see my Mum here in a few weeks time. But, I wanted to stand on my own two feet and sooner rather than later. So off I headed to Birmingham and Aston University and the to Leeds for a year and then Glasgow for two more until, with Ph.D. done, I started my career in Aberdeen. Three years in, I moved to Sunbury on Thames and two years later to Ottershaw in Surrey then on to Basingstoke, Hampshire. From there, I was off to Houston and then Dallas before returning to Hampshire only to head back to Houston again. And from Houston I went to Brno spending a couple of years in Prague along the way.

You see, I got itchy feet!

I haven’t put down roots. I like all the places I have lived but none of these places is HOME. I don’t know where home is to be honest.

They do say home is where the heart is but where is my heart? Its physically located in Brno – which is home for me at the moment – but it is rootless as I am. Perhaps this is why I see things differently sometimes. I owe and have no allegiances (save to Hull City AFC) and my passports are to me simply papers of convenience. I am not to be labelled by nationality. I am me and me is fine thank you.

But roots? I’m unsure that I will ever find my roots this side of Neverland. I still remember something from my childhood… memories of somewhere else. That somewhere felt real to me and this one just doesn’t. My roots are there wherever there is…

Perhaps my roots are to be found towards the second star to the right, and straight on till morning………

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The Check (or Cheque)

I went to my bank this lunchtime here in Brno in the Czech Republic with something I haven’t seen in quite a while – a paper cheque. Actually, it was a paper check as it originated in the good old US of A. I took it to the cashier and she took it and looked at it carefully. “What is it?” she asked. “A check,” said I, with a smile. I was asked to take my check and take a seat.

About five minutes later, one of the ladies from the back office came looking for the ‘American with the paper check’. I’m unsure as to which was more unusual – the American (naturalized) or the paper check!

We sat down at her desk and she pulled out a huge manual. Thumbing her way expertly through this massive tome she evidently found what it was she was looking for….that part of the system manual that told her how to deal with those archaic financial instruments – paper cheques. Within a few minutes, three ladies stood around the screen muttering to each other and trying to actually capture my check deposit in their system while yet a fourth held my check in the air and examined it suspiciously and closely all the while comparing it to photographs of various checks from various institutions. She and the other three then compared notes and with some satisfaction, were able to identify it to the system as a US Treasury check. After presenting passport and signing photocopies of said check and passport copy, navigating through multiple screens in their system, I was informed that my check would probably take around a month to show up in my account and that there would be a 500CZK fee ($25) for handling it. The ladies looked as if they had accomplished something and apologized to me for taking so much time…. “You see, we barely ever see paper checks here anymore…” one kindly explained to me.

 I left the bank feeling very old.

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The Stream of Life

Bobbing along the stream

Sometimes fighting

Other times alighting

For a longer look

Checking out scenery

But no real choices

Except to go with the flow

I go where I need to go

Can only slow

The inevitable

As I start at the beginning

I must end at the end

That’s the way it really is

Life is like a stream

Winding its lonely way

Always just passing through

Never sitting still

Ripples speak to movement

Movement is my destiny

One day, I will reach the Sea

And that, my friends

Will be the end of me.

 

River & Sunset