Winter 2009 Issue One
A magazine dedicated to
Hope, Inspiration, & Change from a Simple Phrase
s ’ r ito
e t o N
This is the introductory issue of Two Words. Therefore, it seems appropriate to explain, at least somewhat, what is Two Words. The concept is simple; each issue is dedicated to a two-word phrase, which will be the sole muse for the writers, who will use it as the launching point to each write 500-700 words. Their styles will vary, as will the implementation. It is a unique, wholly creative endeavor with one main intention: To instill within the reader (that’s you) feelings of hope, inspiration, and an acceptance of change. (This two-word theme is also used in the subject headers, titles, and in general throughout the publication.)
Why Now? People ask, “With fewer folks reading, an economy on the abyss, and the print media evaporating, why would you choose this particular time to start an independent magazine?” I’d love to wow you with a brilliant, thought-provoking reply. Alas, the honest answer is, “I don’t know.” It just seemed, like, well, the right time. Too often, I have delayed pursuing goals, saying, “There will always be time,” or “It’s a stupid idea; it won’t work.” For some unknown reason, I decided that would not be my path this time.
I must admit I was encouraged by the 2008 presidential election. Change and hope appear to be the words of the
next decade. People desperately want to look forward again, and seem willing to chip in to do what they can to make that happen. If I can lend a hand within my small quadrant of the globe, making a positive contribution — who knows — it just might spread. After all, even tsunamis begin as ripples. And in the end, no matter where this path on which we find ourselves leads, it sure can’t hurt to uplift a few others along the way, can it?
Words Matter I am blessed that I come from a family of writers; maybe it was in the blood. However it came to be, three of the writers in this premier issue are family. My heart overflows with joy to have them as the backbone of my project; because they are indeed — at least with regards to me — part of what “we are.” Beyond that, Brian Millet has grown up with my sons and I consider him my extended family. I also put out the word to find other writers and was pleased, not only with the interest, but the caliber of writers who responded. I tried to choose those who most understood the mission of Two Words and am honored to include my dear friend, Faydra Rector, as well as two writers I met through LinkedIn: Hollee J. Chadwick, Joseph Langen Ph.D. I wish I could have included more authors but utilizing a three-point font to fit everything in seemed problematic. I — as well as you — might not necessarily agree with every point of view, but in a world that seems to point fingers more often than extend hands, remember that “We Are” diverse. Embracing that diversity will only strengthen us. It is my utmost wish that these words and images make your day a little better, fill you with hope, and remind you that “we are” a wonderful species. I am honored by that fact that you choose the premier issue of Two Words. Your feedback is welcomed.
cott “Q” Marcus, publisher, editor, and founder of Two Words magazine is a professional speaker, coach, and syndicated columnist. As a “Recovering Perfectionist,” he uses a unique approach to help people transform their thoughts and beliefs to get more than they ever knew they could. He is the author of several books (available at www.CompletelyInspired.com) and he blogs regularly at www.LongDistanceMarketing.com as well as www.ForeverFightingFat.com. Although he started speaking after losing 70 pounds over a decade ago, he will not watch what you eat if you do not watch what he eats. However, he just might speak to your group in exchange for enough chocolate or french fries. He can be reached for writing, speaking, or coaching at:
firstname.lastname@example.org • 707.442.6243 • www.TwoWordsMagazine.com
A magazine dedicated to Hope, Inspiration, and Change from a simple phrase
t age 17, Hollee J. Chadwick was hired as a staff writer for Gibson Greeting Cards in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since that time, she has been a humor columnist, advertising copywriter, proofreader, reporter, and newspaper editor. Chadwick now works from her home office in southern Ohio as a freelance fiction and nonfiction editor, copy editor, ghostwriter, and copywriter. She can be reached at www.holleedazeink.net or email@example.com.
Her article is on page 10.
r. Joseph Langen is a retired psychologist now writing full time. He has published four books, the latest being Navigating Life: Commonsense Reflections for the Voyage. Others include Commonsense Wisdom for Everyday Life, Young Man of the Cloth, and The Pastor’s Inferno. He also writes a regular newspaper column and maintains a writing blog, Conversations with Calliope, at www.commonsense-wisdom.blogspot.com. Visit www.commonsense-wisdom.com for more, including sample chapters, and to receive his free newsletter.
His article is on page 14.
indy Marcus is a screenwriter with a host of credits: Disney’s Lion King 2, Enchanted Christmas, the independent Jack and the Beanstalk, and several other films. Years of success in the Hollywood trenches convinced her it was “time to give back” so she started a national theater program for teens called Showdown. Several shows have now been published with prominent publishing companies (Pioneer, Dramatic, and Samuel French). Her first book, Playdate, published by Meriweather, will be released in Spring, 2009. Cindy can be reached at www.ShowdownStageco.com. Her article is on page 6.
randon Marcus is a writer located in southern California. A student of Bradbury, Sterling and King, he has submersed himself in literature since a young age, from sprawling novels to a large variety of graphic novels. Aside from writing, he is a film maker, critic and pop culture enthusiast. You can read his take on the worst of pop culture at www.BadMusicVideosBlog.com. His article is on page 4.
fter growing up in northern California, Daniel Marcus moved to Hollywood to pursue his dream of filmmaking. He has acted in — and co-produced — several short features. He loves movies of all kinds, writing, and cooking. He cooks a mean mac and cheese. He can be reached at DanielScottMarcus@hotmail.com.
His article is on page 2.
rian Millett is a writer, raconteur, youth development professional, filmmaker, avid traveler, and pizza enthusiast. He has spent the majority of his professional career working with at-risk youth for various government and non-profit organizations. He is currently working for the City of Eureka and is writing his first novel. Find out more about Brian, as well his internet radio show, Raconteur Revival at www.CreativeRebel.net. His article is on page 8.
aydra Rector, M.A. is a mental health administrator, author, speaker, educator, and life coach who lives in Red Bluff, California. She believes that through accepting accountability for our own lives and circumstances, anyone can achieve anything that they desire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at her blog at www.FaydraAndCompany.blogspot.com. Her article is on page 10.
Magazine concept, editing, and layout by Scott “Q” Marcus • Magazine design by Six Rivers Graphic Design Photo on “Twenty Five” by Scott “Q” Marcus. Photos on “Forever Blessed” by Joseph Langen. All others: iStockPhoto, Fotolia, iClipart
am twenty five years old. I was born in Northern California, but presently find myself in the southern end.
I work at a corporate coffee shop. My favorite color is blue and my favorite food is Italian. I go to movies frequently, almost religiously. I would visit the river over the beach and I prefer the Beatles over Elvis. I could go on and on about my likes and dislikes, my annoyances and pleasures. But when I think about who I am, I come to pause.
My friends and family come in all different shapes and sizes. We are black, white, yellow, red and any color in the spectrum of the rainbow. Some of us are straight, some are gay. I’m the product of a middle class family. My roommate comes from upper class roots. And I have other friends who survived off of food stamps. These are the people that I converse with every day. These are the people who share similar problems. The people who I spend the holidays with. The people I share my successes with and the people who hold me up when I fail.
Is it who I was? The child growing up on Bacchetti Drive playing with his squatty, little basset hound? Is it my present self? The man paying monthly bills and rent; who seems to find himself worrying more and more about the economy. Or is it who I want to be? The man with the family who makes his living off of writing and cooking. The older I get the more prevalent this question becomes.
We talk about how our adult lives are being shaped. Our greatest commonality is the difficulty of burgeoning adulthood. How the freedoms of growing older cause us to take on more responsibility. Relationships aren’t just about fun, but the hope of creating something lifelong. Work isn’t about buying a cool toy to play with, but maintaining a balanced life. When did this happen?
September 11th is the only time in my life where I have seen this country come together. There was a week of perfect union. People treating others as equals, as brothers and sisters. But since then we had become a divided nation. A nation that fed off of fear. A nation where it was not okay to question the direction of the great nation. The freedom to be who you want to be had been taken away. We are all Americans, but we became a broken family. Seven years of division took their toll. This country has not been that “beacon of light on the hill” that we have always aspired to be. We have become the bully on the playground. America was not the United States anymore. This is what my adult life has been. This is the environment where my friends and I came of age. We came after the election of George W. Bush. We came after 9/11. Just because I disagree with what has happened or where we have gone, it does not mean that I am not completely thankful to have grown up now. We can
not appreciate life without the downs. Pleasures would seem so much less important without the sadness. Disappointments are necessary. They make us who we are. They make us learn. Our responsibility never seemed so clear. And then there was 2008. After all the pain and sadness of the past seven years, we finally stood up and said, “Enough!” We took on that responsibility that was being given to us. We realized that we are now adults and we have control of our destiny. This is not only our parents’ country anymore, it is our country. And soon enough it will be our childrens’ country. In 2008 we finally became those adults that we had always wanted to be. I am still twenty five years old. I still have many likes and dislikes. I still am my own individual. But when I think about who I am and who we are, the pause no longer remains. We are professionals, we are adults and we are leaders. We are no longer the generation of the future, we are the generation of now.
“ September 11th is the only time in my life where I have seen this country come together.”
Ideal Paradox BrandonMarcu
on’t get stumped easily. When asked to finish a task, I’m almost d always able to find a quick path to completion. I rarely need assistance when it comes to all things creative. That’s just the way I’ve always been. Reliable, independent and efficient. I cannot think of better attributes for a writer.
This granted magazine is based on a completel the most genuine, original concept, o honorable job on Earth to build an idea from two to a black man. That, I words, to bring believe, is a fantastic transformation. inspiration in We are a people that say all are created the simplest equal, yet still deny basic human rights to of ways. I was select minorities. That is a continuing t more than willing to write something. We open our pocketbooks to people But when asked countries. We bomb others witho what we are, my brain We hate the idea of worshippi stalled. We are, we are, feverishly purchase newsstan we are. The words filled my head for days. I racked We are a series of yes’s c my brain. I tried over and crossing our fingers. A over again. We are what, I We’re an evolving s wondered. What are we? Then we need to hurt o I came to a stunning conclusion. I would probab Maybe I don’t know what we are. built into all the genera That may seem like an easy way out but it’s the truth. After a mere 22 years on this planet, I have yet to formulate a solid opinion on the people I live with. I have a strong love and admiration for my friends and family and I’m generally happy with others in my community. However, if I’m asked to sum us up briefly I can’t. That’s because we are a list of things, many of them contradictory. We were a nation that abused and killed slaves, our democracy built on their backs. Yet, just months ago we
We are does the o
“ We are a series of yes’s coupled with no’s. We make promises while crossing our fingers. We are a contradictory people.”
ly sum up humans. While I think we should work on getting rid of some characteristics, there are many more we should be proud of.
Let me rephrase my original statement. I do know what we are. We are many things, good and bad. We are everything under the sun. We are better and worse than what’s possible. Through the bad time, we are always capable of some pretty amazing and stunning feats. And me? I’m happy with that.
e in foreign out protest or hesitation.
ing celebrities. We nd tabloids weekly.
coupled with no’s. We make promises while As I said, we are a contradictory people.
species, one that learns from previous mistakes. Like a child putting his hand on a lit stove, ourselves before we are able to progress and learn. There are a lot of stupid things we’ve done and bly have less faith in humanity if it weren’t for our desire to keep learning, keep trying. It’s a feeling that is humans, regardless of what country they are born in. We are always wanting to be bigger and better than ation before us. So I can take the bad because I know that good is almost always just around the corner.
e so many things and I think that’s for the best. A species that is easy to define is one that probably sn’t have a whole lot going on. Even the tiniest creatures on this planet are complex. Take a look at e ant. On the surface, an ant couldn’t get any simpler. But when you look at the way it works with others, the abilities an ant has, its desire to feed its colony, its strict routine and societal habits, that’s when you really see how complicated the little bug is. Humans are like that, complicated in so many ways and for so many reasons. Now if only we could lift things ten times our size. I’m glad that I can’t define humans in a simple term. For every term I come up with, ten more pop into my head. There aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to
By Choice Cindy Marcus
e are. We who? We us? We him? We them? We who?
Questions abound Answers desert. A thought. We me.
I’m writer. I’m more? Aren’t I? I’m person. Too PC. I’m woman. Very caveman. Try again. I’m wife. That’s better. Passionate lover. Stalwart partner. Gibraltar’s rock. Uncertain caregiver. Trembling seeker. Needy friend. Laughing audience. Driven creator. There’s more. I think. Isn’t there? I’m mother. Determined warrior. Hopeful teacher. Affectionate comforter. Magic weaver. Errand runner. Meal maker. Tired parent. Midnight whisperer. Booboo healer. Huge hugger. We are. Much more. Aren’t we? A family. That’s so. See below.
Father Flip. Brilliant writer. Funny man. Private person. Moody soul. Quiet dreamer. Determined visionary. Cancer survivor. Reluctant quester. Wise teacher. Stubborn man. Open person. My north. Son Finn. Gifted student. Curious fellow. Adorable giggles. Cuddly darling. Honorable heart. Total goofball. Big geek. Computer whiz. Future artist. Young visionary. Beautiful boy. My heart. Mother me. Also woman. Turning fifty. Missing youth. Seeing wrinkles. Resenting gravity. New aches. And pains. Loving wisdom. Accepting irony. Accepting age? Wanting to. Fingers crossed. Toes too. Finding path. Writer me. Bestseller someday. I hope.
Puppy Waiter. Golden Retriever. Energy galore. Big goof. Willful beast. Furniture destroyer. Eating machine. The spawn. Huggable fuzzball. Happy boy. My baby. Cousin Jeff. Aunt Susan. Ancestors past. Many people. Describing’s hard. We’re neighbors. Generous cooks. Friendly wavers. Dog walkers. Concerned friends. Neighborhood watchers. Funny cliques. Book clubs. Protective parents. Laughing children. Growing friends. Community partners. Good schools. Safe streets. All ages. Shopping places. Many restaurants. Movie theaters. Tract houses. Pretty trees. Joyful memories. One dream. Brighter future. Growing country. Many races. Different religions. Struggling economy. Battling ideals. Homeless shelters. Rockefeller rich. Melting pot. One vision. Everyone’s free. Small world. Growing smaller. Blue seas. Clear skies. Jagged mountains. Pretty earth. We are? Growing beings. Always changing. Seeking answers. Wanting security. Manifesting dreams. Needing love. Giving hope.
“I’m mother. Determined warrior. Affectionate comforter. Magic weaver. Errand runner. Meal maker. Tired parent. Midnight whisperer. Boo boo healer.”
We are. The universe. And beyond? What’s there? Endless possibility. We are. A definition. And not.
We are… A thought. Any thought. Our choice.
Family Is Brian Millett
e are a family. Those are four words that can mean so many different things to so many different people. Some people think of family as the traditional mom/dad/brother/sister/ dog/two cat’s combo; but what about the children that are raised by their grandparents? Or the old lady who covers her walls with pictures of her Pomeranian? Does that count as family? What exactly makes a family a family? I suppose if I’m going to seek answers, I need to take a closer look at all of the people that I consider to be my family. First there is the family I grew up with: my mother, father, and sister. When I think of my sister and father, the first word that comes to my mind is strength. As a kid, there wasn’t a stronger person on the planet than Dad, but only now, as an adult, do I see how truly strong he was. You see, my dad was in construction, and the construction business has one simple rule; you go where the work is. So while my dad’s profession may have forced him to miss a 15th birthday here and a senior prom there, we never went without food on our table or a roof over our heads. Then there is my sister, who has grown from this awkward little girl running around the house in puffy dresses, to this beautiful strong young woman who doesn’t need her big brother to take care of her anymore; a fact that fills me with as much pride as it does sadness. It’s safe to say that we all got our strength from my mother. She was always a strong and independent woman, and my family reflected that. I can’t begin to describe the courage that it took for my mother to beat her first bout of cancer, or the strength that the rest us displayed after she lost her second one. Our strength has gotten us through the tough times and because of that we are an incredibly close family. Then there are my aunt and uncle, with whom I currently live. We share a fun and loving household. We keep each other company. We share our lives with each other. We cook for each other. We take care of one another when sick. We help each other out whenever needed, because we are a family that can depend on each other. There are also Jason, Brian and his brother Brad, the guys I grew up with. We came of age together. We experienced our first crushes and first heartbreaks together. A friendship that was built on a foundation
“My dad may have been forced to miss a birthday here and there, but we never went without food or a roof over our heads.”
of tree forts and water balloon wars has developed into a brotherhood that is still an integral part of my life. I have dinner almost every Christmas Eve with Brian and Brad’s family. Just last year I took a trip up to see Jason’s first child. I introduced Brian to the woman that would eventually become his wife. The four of us have an amazing history that I know we will continue to build on because we are a loyal family. Finally, there are Ira, Adam, Cody, Joe and Daniel, who were my best friends in high school. Hand in hand, we all crossed the line into adulthood together. Over the years we’ve supported each other through career milestones, devastating losses, and all of the other things that comes with the territory of being a grown up. These days, geography separates most of us, but we remain in constant contact. Some I talk to once a day, while others are more on a weekly, or as time-permits basis; but we all remain a strong source of comfort in each other’s lives, because we are a supportive family. We are a family. Those are four words that mean so many different things to so many different people. I’ve come to realize that there is no standard definition for family. Family is whatever you want it to be, because when it comes right down to it, it’s not strength, dependability, loyalty or even support that makes up a family; it’s love. Love is what makes a family a family.
Every Woman Hollee J. Chadwick
e feminist movement has created gender-non-specific terms, h political correctness, sexual harassment lawsuits, hairline cracks in the glass ceiling, diversity, and equal opportunity — a mixed bag, certainly.
It has also created a subclass of women— an under-groundswell — who are fighting to retain their most important right — to be feminine. We are women who:
Do not need the Equal Rights Amendment to grant us equality with men. We are created the same as men — in the image of God, who is neither male nor female, therefore our inalienable rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — are already guaranteed to us by the Constitution and do not need Congress to validate our importance or existence.
Do not want to be treated with the same respect one man affords another. Ah, I can hear the collective “What the(s) …” now. Hear me out. We want to be treated with more respect. We don’t want to be subjected to “locker-room” talk. We want you to open doors for us and pull out our chair in a restaurant. We want you to take our arm or hold our hand in public — something we hope you are not doing with your guy pals. We want you to carry the heavy stuff, open stuck jar lids, and fix the car. This does not mean that we won’t pay for dinner, contribute to the family budget, or carry our weight in any endeavor — we will — or that we can’t carry the heavy stuff, open stuck jar lids, or fix the car — most of us can do that — but we would appreciate it greatly if a man would flex his brain and muscles and do that for us.
Are emotional beings. We want the world in general to recognize that women
listen, see, and act from the heart. Women are collectively and singularly unique that way. Some men have been gifted with the same ability, granted, but it is the woman who knows what her child’s cry means, what her best friend’s silence is saying, what her beloved’s various touches signify. A woman may not understand the words another man or woman speaks, but she will watch the person’s face, she will pay attention to the set of the shoulders, the placement of hands, the direction the eyes move, and will “read” the words in that manner. Do you remember trying to lie to your mother? How’d that work out for you? Yes, we have a sixth sense, that subtle perception of the unseen world. We do not do these things consciously, it is automatic — a sub-conscious act.
Are warriors of particular renown. We are Queen Esther of the Old Testament, who saved her people; Joan of Arc, who led the French Army against the English Invasion of Orleans; Golda Meir, the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics and Israel’s fourth prime minister; Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” of British politics, and the only woman to be elected prime minister of that empire; Catherine of Siena and Mother Theresa, who dedicated their lives to helping the poor and needy;
Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing; Rosa Parks, who refused to be relegated to the back of the bus; Frances Perkins, the first woman member of a presidential cabinet (Franklin Roosevelt’s), Shirley Chisholm, the first AfricanAmerican congresswoman; Mary Katherine Goddard, the editor of the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, the first newspapers that bravely and defiantly published the Declaration of Independence; Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first woman inducted into the American Institute of Architects; Wilma Rudolph, the greatest woman sprinter in history; Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics and Chemistry; Maria Montessori, who did phenomenal, groundbreaking work with mentally disabled children and adults; Sandra Day O’Connor, justice of the Supreme Court. We are every woman that works two jobs to support her family, sacrifices her own wants and needs and stays home to raise her children, protests war, supports the troops, ties a shoe, sews a flag, bakes a cake, drafts a proposal, stands proudly at attention, and kneels in prayer.
“It is the woman who knows what her child’s cry means, what her best friend’s silence is saying, what her beloved’s various touches signify.”
Life’s Orchestra FaydraRect or
w do you describe yourself? Do you answer to brother, sister, mom, o dad, employee, earth dweller? Who are you? Are you a baker, a sports enthusiast, an introvert or extrovert? There is no one word to describe who we are. We are the sum of our parts. We are a wonderful blend of dancing components harmonizing within our own universe. As a teacher, I brought symphony music into class and asked my students to close their eyes and envision the different instruments that stood out. They were able to see that throughout the composition, different instruments came to the forefront and played a magnificent part of the piece. The symphony was the joyous entanglement of the parts that each instrument played. Without each element, the piece would have been far less beautiful.
• Relational • Emotional • Physical • • Spiritual • Financial •
the orchestration of my life’s music. The beautiful blend of each piece of who I am is making a beautiful symphony. If I beat the drum of only one feature, or identify solely with but a solitaire facet, I create disharmony within my life. I become lost and depressed. It is in the recognition of the full range of life that makes challenges bearable and the course of life worthwhile. When I do not recognize that I am more than just one of the titles I wear, it undermines my esteem and puts me at risk. I am so many things and it is important to know that one facet of my life does not define me. If I do not recognize that I am a symphony of titles, It’s like having empty nest for my soul. When I identify myself only as a parent and my kids leave, I begin feel lost and no longer know my purpose. By recognizing the many titles that I hold, I see the loss as a flex in the symphony of my life. If I see myself only as married and my spouse dies, I may not recognize that I am actually so much more. By seeing my life as a symphony of titles, I recognize that on any given day, I am many, many things.
Yet, even within these divisions we are so much. Each and every day, these aspects of who we are play more loudly or softly, harmonizing with the others. One moment, I am dealing with the fullness of love, or loss; the next day, I am incorporating a new exercise regimen, putting the physical aspect of my life front and center. The harmony of managing these aspects is
As I reflect on who I am and inventory the many labels titles that I hold, I savor the simplicity of each role, marveling at the majesty that this totality creates. We are magnificent creatures who bring to this planet countless breathtaking gifts and talents. It is our duty to let those talents sing, so all share in the symphonic of life day to day.
We too are a symphonic masterpiece. Who we are is the beautiful blend of the many components of our lives. We are male and female; we are this, we are that. Without each aspect of who we are, we would be flat, and without vibrant character. When the instruments of our lives come together, we have a melodic flow in our lives. Most aspects of our lives fall into five main categories:
â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is in the recognition of the full range of life that makes challenges bearable and the course of life worthwhile.â&#x20AC;?
Forever Blessed Joseph G.
e’re familiar with “The Me Generation.” Once life was a communal voyage we shared together. Over the years, we came to see ourselves as more independent and less reliant on others. Our life became our individual journey. Others became competitors rather than companions. We forgot to wonder whether we needed each other. Viewing life as “I am” pushed aside a feeling of “We are.” In the winter of 1965, I removed my religious habit, placed it on the cot in my monastic cell, put on my new suit, and my best friend Gerry drove me to the airport. I returned to Rochester to begin a new life after nine years in the seminary and monastery cloister, where I expected to spend the rest of my life.
In the monastery, time was set aside to socialize with other monks; but our superiors carefully monitored how close we got to each other. “Particular friendships” were suspect. No one ever explained why, but I thought it had to do with the dangers of becoming “too close and personal” with anyone else in our all male environment. Now, as the plane took off from LaGuardia Airport, I left behind all I knew. Older memories of family and relatives remained vague and out of focus, like the clouds in the sky. I had left behind everyone I knew to pursue a religious life, so their lives and mine had not crossed for years. I was just a passenger, a stranger among strangers. I felt a deep sense of aloneness I had not felt since the first day in the seminary when I left my childhood behind. I felt suspended in the airplane cocoon disconnected from the rest of the world. I was again a helpless baby. At that point, I could not have imagined all the wonderful people I would meet and how they have since enriched my life. In my first week back, my Aunt June and Uncle Tom packed me in the back of their Karmann Ghia with my cousin Kathy,
“ Learning to share one’s life with others is not always easy. But would shutting myself off from them make my life any better? I know better.”
for the drive back to their house in North Tonawanda. The next day I tried to enroll at the University of Buffalo. Missing the registration deadline for the spring semester by a few days left me with the strong prospect of heading for the Vietnam War in short order. And I thought I was alone before. That night at dinner, my Uncle Dick asked about school. Hearing my frustration, he told me he was a classmate of the Dean of Admissions at UB. The rest is history. That was just the start. I felt like I had just been reborn and was being raised by people who cared about me and helped me find my way back into the real world. I have never forgotten them. I am still blessed with old and new friends who help me find my way in life. Without them I would
be back on that plane, as lost as ever. What is the ultimate value of life, friendship and connection with others? Manny Fortes, A friend of mine once described spirituality as “awakening to the goodness and joy for which you were created.” His words unlocked for me the mystery of why I am on earth. I have also discovered that goodness and joy don’t exist until we share our lives with others. Learning to share one’s life with others is not always easy. People don’t always act the way I would like them to. But would shutting myself off from them make my life any better? I know better. Each day I treasure the friends who stand ready to help me whenever I need them.
Scott â&#x20AC;&#x153;Qâ&#x20AC;? Marcus
y wife and I: Saturday night, on the couch, snuggled in a blanket, fireplace dancing orange and warm. It is only the two of us; no one else; just us. We are alone, by ourselves, only she and I, just the way we like it.
We are connected to each other; bonded forever, tightly joined, by law, by spirit, by choice. We have years of history that expand with each tick of the clock. We have a full past and a blank future, constructed of moments like these. Tonight is one more instant, gone before we recognize its existence. As we acknowledge it, it slides into our past. It is a flash, a beginning and an end in one; it is a snapshot in time, just like the photographs of family lining our stairway. My sons live across the miles, but that does not diminish the unbreakable connection. They have other relationships; so do we; friends who sustain and cherish us. When an event occurs in my life and I share it with my sons, it flows along a path to others I have not met, in places I have not visited with people I do not know. I am there, connected to all their friends even without knowing who they might be. What I share with my sons might expand through their relationships and continue forever outward. We are all connected. Mary Ann hails from the east with siblings who span two decades in age. They might be lawyers or office workers. They
might work for large corporations or for themselves. They might live in large cities or minute burbs. Even though I have not met them all, they are my family and they each have a place in me that will remain until I am no more. Because they are important to my wife, they matter to me. We are together, a quilt of souls enveloping the planet. What affects them flows to me and to my sons and through their relationships. There is no barrier. We are tied together. It matters not whom we know. Some of my family exist only in memories or return in my dreams, yet always as influential as ever. No
â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are each the source of a ripple expanding forever outward.â&#x20AC;? longer in this plane, they are as real as am I and what they say in those moments has great affect, sometimes so much that I must talk to my wife or call my sons. It alters what I feel, the way I interact with others, and what I write, affecting what you feel. My history is now tied to yours. It has engendered a response, which you will carry forward, swaying others. We are linked. We are a tapestry of innumerable
intermingled blended histories interwoven by the immeasurable dreams and actions of each other, bound to untold more. Each spirit is the center of a web without beginning or end, spanning existence forward and backward, and intertwined with every other. Those we know and whomever they know hold sway over us. We carry a portion of their hopes and fears within, shaping how we interact with each other, who then adjust to those behaviors, and carry us forward. We are each the source of a ripple expanding forever outward. Every life is affected, some more than others, but none left behind. The path always returns home. What I do matters; it affects you. What you do affects them, and they affect me; even alone with my wife on a Saturday night, snuggled under a blanket, watching the flames in the fireplace; just the two of us. We are not alone. Not by a long shot.
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