Shane and Tyler

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I walked down the hillside field, its slight slope gently amplifying winds and making it easier to get kites aloft. Everybody uses the park. The city built ballfields and a playground on the other side of the parking lot and a big gazebo in the middle of the field. A friend caught one of my kites’ lines in the gazebo’s roof once and it took some good flying to get it free.

I could hear the cheers and catcalls from people in the ballfields – must have been some exciting games going on – and laughter and chatter from families on the playground. People must have parked on the far side of the ballfields because this parking lot was practically empty.

An empty parking lot is one of the things I look for, a good sign, it means the field will be open, plenty of room to run out my lines and fly a kite or two between the gazebo and the street. A good wind rustled the trees high up, their tops dusting the sky, and I had already chosen my SkyDancer as the kite to fly. I walked down the field carrying it, its tails, lines and two ground pegs in my hands.

A man and boy had a little area set up on my right, between the gazebo and the parking lot. Not a problem, still plenty of room. A t-ball stand stood beside them, a whiffle ball rested on top, a broad, plastic yellow bat and several more balls lay on the ground next to it. The boy, a toddler based on his size, slightly awkward movements and shrieks of joy, threw the balls back and forth to no one. He’d throw one, go get it and throw it back to where he started then repeat the process over and over again.

The man knelt on the ground, his eyes focused and his hands busy. It looked like he was rigging up a single line delta. I thought that a small, single-line delta would be more work than it would be worth but said nothing. I had the day off and wanted some time to myself.

Child's Delta Kite

They got their delta up. Then down. Then not quite up, then definitely down. Then down and down and still down.

But the man wouldn’t give up. He’d get the kite up and he’d hold the line with the boy and let the boy take the line and the kite would come down and he’d go to work sending it back up.

And on one attempt, the boy called out, “I love you, Daddy!” and the man called back, “I love you, too, Son!”.

I’d just finished driving my ground pegs into the earth and had walked out my lines, my SkyDancer still in its pack along with its tails, and something told me to offer them my Big Sled. The Big Sled is actually a fairly small kite. I got it long ago. A local kite store was going out of business, I got there their last day, there wasn’t much left and I refused to go home empty handed. It’s more a kid’s kite than something an adult would fly, but I have close to one-hundred kites, kites for all levels of skill, all sizes of flyers, all types of wind and I love all kites. One more would round out the bunch so got it I did.

I went back to my car and got out the Big Sled.

The father was kneeling again, the delta in front of him as he adjusted the harness. I walked towards him and said, “Sir, excuse me, sir?”

He looked up.

I unfurled the kite. “This’ll be much easier to fly. It’ll catch the wind better and ride high on top of the wind.”

BigSled Kite

He was hesitant. “That looks like a professional kite.”

I laughed. “I’d never call myself a professional.”

He offered me his hand and said, “I’m Shane.” He had broad, flat palms. Thick fingers, calloused. A welcoming grip. A practical smile, open and evaluating at the same time. More laugh lines than frowns and deep brown eyes that took in all of you without leaving your face. He stood wide and solid with hair the color of his eyes and ruffling in the wind where it stuck out from under his green baseball cap. I took him to be a skilled laborer, someone both comfortable with himself and with tools in his hands, someone to whom making was automatic, without thought. He didn’t smell of resins or wires. Doors and walls, I decided. Not cars, there was no grease or grime under his nails or etched in his palms and a whiff of wood welcomed me as he moved. Not tanned, so a finish carpenter, someone who works inside, not someone who frames and builds houses.

“That’s Tyler. Say hello, Tyler.”

Tyler, a cherub as only little boy toddlers can be cherubs, called out “Hello!” Thin but healthy, both well and goodly fed, with clear eyes and a trust because he’s a little boy and everyone should love him, because that’s all he’s known is love of family and friends and, it seemed, a mirror that would grow into his father’s easy good looks. He stood beside us comfortably, neither anxious nor wary, following his father’s focus on my hands, watching me stringing the line, his eyes full of joy and his father’s smile echoed on his toddler’s face.

I attached the line and handed Shane the line hoop. “It’s going to have a little pull, so hold the line with Tyler. Let him get a feel for how much pull it’ll have so he can brace himself for it.”

The father looked me in the eye, confused.

“Enjoy yourself. Have a good time.”

I went back to the SkyDancer and lines, strung it up and, as is my habit, talked to the kite and the wind. I was rewarded with some great flying and LineSong – the wind pulls the kite causing the lines to tighten then the wind vibrates the string like a bow crossing a violin and you can hear the lines sing.

It’s the wind letting you know it’s having fun, too, me thinks.

SkyDancer

I flew for about an hour, maybe a little less. Every now and again I’d hear Shane and Tyler laugh from the other side of the gazebo. I’d glance every so often and see the Big Sled high in the sky, swooping and swirling as the winds whirled it about.

I told the SkyDancer and Wind, “One more flight, girl. Come on down when you’re ready and we can pack up and go home.”

We had one more glorious flight. Some people had gathered so I had the SkyDancer live up to its name and perform a little ballet. The wind, as promised, grew tired, which was fine because I was, too. I brought the SkyDancer down and began untacking the lines.

Shane and Tyler came up to me. Shane had the kite against his chest, the line hoop and line in hand. “Thank you, Joseph. That was great. Tyler and I really appreciate your letting us fly your kite.”

I said, “Did you have a good time, Tyler? Did you have fun?”

“Yes!”

I said, “Keep the kite. It’s a gift,” looking at Tyler.

Shane said, “We can’t do that,” shaking his head.

“You and Tyler gave me a gift when I walked onto this field.”

“We did?”

“Tyler called out ‘I love you, Dad,’ and you called back, ‘I love you, too, Son.’ That’s a gift. Please. Take the kite as my thank you for that gift.”

Shane slowly shook his head, not quite believing. “Are you sure?”

I stood. “Yes, and here’s the catch.”

He pulled his head back a bit.

“Whenever you and Tyler don’t want to fly kites any more, or when you think it’s time, you pass it on to the next father and son, you give it to them as a gift because they gave something to you as a gift.”

Shane nodded slowly. “Okay. We can do that.”

“Pass it on. Pay it forward. That’s how it works.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much for this gift.”

“Thank you. Have a good day. Have a good life.”

They walked away and stopped. Tyler started running towards me and Shane called him back. They huddled for a moment then both came up to me. “Tyler has something for you.”

Tyler ran up to me and gave me a big hug. “Thank you for the kite, Joseph!”

I put my arms around him, held his precious little body next to mine. “Oh, thank you, Tyler. You’re the man, Tyler, you’re the man!”

You never tell me you love me

One of the most frustrating arguments to watch goes something like this:

“You never tell me you love me.”

“Of course I love you. Everybody knows I love you. I talk about you all the time.”

“But you never tell me that you love me.”

That middle line, the “Of course I love you. …”? That’ll be spoken by a male. It won’t matter if this is a gay or straight relationship because males, as a group, aren’t good at verbal communications.

And when those verbal communications are about feelings and emotions, ie, about making one’s self vulnerable?

Oy!

What’s fascinating about this is that the male’s last sentence, “I talk about you all the time.”, is probably quite true. Men, as a group, will share information with other male or mixed gender peer groups gladly.

Note the use of “groups” in the above.

That’s the kicker; Men will talk up their partners in peer groups gladly, loudly, proudly and unequivocally. But one-on-one, in an intimate verbal moment? Not so much.

The disconnect here is that people like to hear that they’re special, that they’re loved, that someone special feels for them as they feel for that someone special.

Fortunately there are ways to reconnect. Does your significant other male lack verbal skills? Ask them to write you a love note. Nothing elaborate, just something for you to keep and hold to yourself. Most men are happy to do so (although sometimes trust can be an issue. Promise not to share it with anybody). Their prose may be a little rough, a little awkward, and remember, it’s a start.

Give them time. They’ll be bringing you flowers, taking you out to dinner, the movies, and generally courting you all over again soon enough.


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You smell so good to me (Matings Bonus)

Continuing with the thread introduced yesterday in You Smell Funny, we discovered some more research about how humans non-consciously use their olfactory sense (sense of smell) for mating purposes (like dating, finding the one you love, finding the one you’ll love once versus forever, finding the “me love you good Charlie, me make you happy long time”, all that kind of stuff) and thought to share it because we know you’re all out there just dying to know…

Guys and gals, are you in the courting/flirting/tension release stage of a relationship? You may tell yourself you’re looking for someone long time and if, in your heart of hearts, you know you’re only looking for someone short term, go to the ones who are heavily perfumed/masked/scented. They won’t disappoint.

It turns out that one aspect of our evolutionary heritage is to emit scents that let potential mates know our fecundity (“The state of being fertile; capable of producing offspring”).

And here’s the interesting way this has gotten disabused in most modern societies; We now lather and immerse ourselves in baths, oils, perfumes and such to mask the very scent that would tell the world, “Hey there hiya how you doin, I’m a’ waitin’ and ready!”

But wait, it gets better.

Those individuals who so obviously lather and immerse themselves? Consciously or not (we’re betting on not) are trying to signal potential mates’ olfactory senses that they would be a good long term catch when studies show they’re not good long term catches at all. Quite the contrary. At least on average.

But what about those folks who don’t put a lot of effort into masking their natural fragrances?

It turns out that on average the men and women who don’t lather and immerse themselves, who are subtle in their use of perfumes and colognes and such, are the ones who are consciously or not (again, we’re betting on not) signalling that they are genuinely good keepers, worth the effort and will be fruitful (in more ways than one) long term investments.

Canis Major (A Tale Told 'Round Celestial Campfires), by Joseph carrabisIf any of you have read Canis Major in either its Kindle or Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires form, you may remember that it was Sherry’s subtle use of perfume that drew Iggie to her.

And, in the end, he was quite the catch.

So, ladies and gents, are you looking for someone to be with you throughout the years regardless of what life brings you?

Sniff out someone who uses fabricated scents at their minimum, to hint and suggest.

Are you looking for someone for an hour to a week or month at most?

paintbrush
They won’t be subtle. They’ll have applied their favorite scent with a housepainter’s brush.


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Want to kick the habit? Play Some Music (Matings Part 5)

[[…continuing what was started in I Love the Way You Say That (Matings Part 1), Sex on the Beach (Matings Part 2), Sing Me a Little Song (Matings Part 3) and Sing Me to Sleep That I Might Learn Thee Loves Me (Matings Part 4)]]

If you’ve following my last few posts you know I’ve been studying how sounds affect people. This is known as psychophysics and more directly, psycho-acoustics. It’s fascinating stuff.

For example, did you know that the parts of the brain that respond to music are involved in the response mechanisms to addictive substances and behaviors?

The evidence comes from various brain-scanning technologies (PET, fMRI, etc) and targeted drug therapies.

And it gets a little better, too. Not only abuse drugs, but it seems these neuronal circuits also are involved in our enjoyment of food and sex.

Food, sex and music.

Reminds me of Yasgur’s Farm.

Seriously, there’s a reason responses to food, sex, abuse drugs and music all occur in similar brain areas.

Imagine yourself as an amoeba in the primordial slime a few billion years ago. There were only two things you really wanted to do; eat and replicate. In fact, there wasn’t much about your primitive biology that was geared to doing anything else. Not only your primitive biology but the primitive biologies of every other living organism that was going to survive, eating and replicating were extremely important, and because they were you and your kind survived.

A few million years go by. Your multi-cellular. You might even be swimming in some ocean and getting ready to traipse across some land. There’s really only two reasons you’d want to do that. First, there might be food. Second, there might be someone cute.

Food and sex still rule.

Many million more years go by. Many, many. You’re walking around on the land now and you might still be swimming. You might be flying or gliding. In all cases, your mobility is a function of your need to eat — find food — and reproduce — find yourself a cutie. These two functions have taken on such importance to both your and your species’ survival that your brain has started to do things to get your attention when you eat or mate. It started to develop some reward circuitry and about the only time it fires is when you’re doing things that directly insure both your and your species’ survival.

Food and sex again. Only now we’re getting rewarded in new ways for our efforts.

Lots more millions of years go by. You’ve done well. There are so many of your species now that in order to reproduce you have to demonstrate that you’re better than your peers. How might you do that? Evolution comes up with a way. Originally your flopping around or flapping your wings or clapping your flippers happened by accident but it still made potential mates look your way rather than at your peers. Given eons those accidental sounds became intentional mating calls, tweets, splashes and flaps.

Then we started adding rhythms so that potential mates would be able to pick our grunts and groans out of the crowd.

Then we started howling and calling. That’s how music was born.

And the ones of us who made the best music got the most reward.

It’s those reward circuits that drugs of abuse fire. The same ones that got us standing up on our hind legs and reading these words rather than dying off millenia ago.

Knowing their origins, it’s not odd at all that food, sex, abuse drugs and music go together, is it?

So if you really want to kick the habit, learn to play some music. Food, sex and drugs are sometimes recognized as addictional vectors in our society. Not so with music. Not yet.


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Intention, Part 2 – Living with Intention


This post is a follow up to Intention.

I’ve been living with intention for four years now.

Correct that: I have been living with conscious intention for four years now.

Or correct that: I have consciously been living…

I have been consciously living…

The above are not edits, these are attempts to use language to describe what I do not yet have language for. Each sentence has a slightly different meaning, each slightly different meaning fails to reveal the whole that I mean.

Living with Intention is challenging. The challenge is both frustrating — when I allow it to be — and rewarding — when I allow it to be. Living with Intention is the razor’s edge Maugham wrote about, me thinks.

Part of living with intention means slowing myself down to the point that the universe stops moving around me. Or maybe moving so quickly that I move with the universe, hence remain fixed in it. Phrased differently, Living with Intention means recognizing that you are a verb and can only become a noun through effort.

I pay more attention to what I eat. I pay more attention to my eating. I take time to savor whatever goes in my mouth (and whatever comes out). I find that paying attention to the tastes allows me to taste more of them, to become aware of subtleties that I didn’t know were there yet obviously were, waiting for me to experience them.

As my awareness expands, my calmness grows. I find myself more restful while being readier (for anything) than I’ve ever been before (that I remember, anyway).

I discover selves I no longer need or can comfortably use. I thank them for their efforts and invite them to rest.

I’m now 61 years old, I was taught these things in my teens and early twenties and I’m just beginning to understand that it was Living with Intention that my teachers were talking about.

I practice guitar differently now than I did…even months ago. Once the recognition of intention is made, it grows and encompasses everything. At least for me. Practicing (anything) was a chore at some times, an obligation. “I have to practice x minutes/hours each day.”

For whom? That’s the question Living with Intention causes me to ask now.

I focus more on the individual movements of my fingers. The movements become natural, fluid, far faster, more elegant than they were in the past. I laugh at my mistakes (that alone takes practice). Recognizing that they’re simply mistakes comes from living with intent.

I recognize that I’ve lost my focus when things frustrate me. I remind myself, slow down. Relax. Learn what the frustration comes from. Deal with that, not with this. This is the agent that reveals. Thank it, go on, continue.

Relationships take both less and more work. I question my motives for interacting with people, both as individuals and as groups. I don’t question their motives, only my own. In questioning my own motives, in understanding my own goals, I realize and understand theirs more clearly, more cleanly, more obviously, more quickly and easily than I did before.

I question more because questioning more leads to more understanding. And questioning. my own. What is my goal with them? What is my desired outcome? Do I want to be friends? Am I capable of friendship? Is that person capable of reciprocating in a way that I’ll be satisfied with the exchange? Did they fail or did I set them up for failure by creating an expectation they couldn’t meet? What shall I do if I recognize that this relationship will never be what I want it to be? And then recognize it’s easier to end that relationship than continue being dissatisfied with the interactions.

Because I’m paying attention more, because I’m doing things consciously and that means more and more of what I do becomes non-conscious.

But part of Living with Intention involves becoming more aware of what I do non-consciously, discovering which of my behaviors are in conflict with my desires and why and what I can do to resolve those conflicts.

I exercise differently. I’m more aware of my movements, of my limits, my goals shift, my reasons for exercising become more self-directed than other-directed.

And I learn to be increasingly honest with myself. Even when self-honesty, the necessary sister of self-realization, hurts.

Learning to be a noun means learning to be a gerund because there are times when the energy around you is different from (unequal to?) your own and you must match it before you can work with it. Intentionally.

Writing this, I recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I focus my intention on what is obvious to me because the obvious is easiest to recognize, but “the obvious” means “the surface” that I haven’t integrated into myself such that it exists and is unknown, unrecognized.

It is the unknown, the unrecognized, that truly requires my focus, my intention, because the unknown and unrecognized that are parts of who I am are the most blessingful and dangerous to both myself and others, hence I must work to understand them and their purpose to both myself and others if I and others are to grow from them.


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