Why Geese Fly in a V-formation:

“Gramps, why do geese fly in a V?”

The pair were sitting together on a shoreline bench when they’d heard the loud honking behind them. Now, a flock of geese, in a telltale V formation, flew over their heads.

“That’s a very good question, Max,” the old man responded.

There was a pause as the older man and his grandson watched a sky filled with honking, flapping V’s sweep by.

“First, geese are cooperative creatures. By flying in a “V” form, they greatly reduce their collective air resistance and so increase their flight range.

Man and boy continued to stare upward as more and more formations of geese rushed past.

Gramps continued, “The goose at the head of the V is not necessarily the leader of the flock. Geese take turns leading. As one bird tires, it drops to the back of the formation and another takes its place. Flying in a V-form increases visibility as each bird can see what’s happening in front of them. Now that’s teamwork.”

The boy considered this information, then asked, “But why do they honk so much?”

Gramps smiled, “When flying, geese honk to provide recognition to each other helping them maintain speed and stay in formation.

There was silence as the last of the migrating geese faded into the clouds.

The boy sighed, “All those geese getting along, flying in formation, getting where they need to go, nothing like the traffic jams Dad complains about driving to and from work. Why don’t people cooperate like the geese do?”

The old man put an arm over the boy’s shoulder and hugged him, “another very good question.”


Moral: In Nature, the truth is plain to see.


tio stib

You might also enjoy: Do It Anyway; The Blindside Parables 22 - Life is Like a Broken Egg



The Blindside Parables 26 – A Drop of Rain

there it is
perched on the end of your nose
one single, small drop of rain

not much to talk about,  you might think
but consider this

consider the word “sextillion”

I had to look it up

a sextillion is
one thousand million million million million million millions

or simply put

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

that’s a one with a lot of zeroes after it
may I assume we agree that a sextillion is a heck of a big number?

okay, what does sextillion have to do with a drop of water?

that drop of water on your beak contains more than a sextillion water molecules

really, more than 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of H2O

Super Wow! All that sitting on your proboscis

Wandering further into the weeds, consider this-

where do you think all those sextillion water molecules came from?

given that the earth is covered with over 71% water, it’s quite possible that that little water spot on your snout has H2O molecules from every ocean on the planet, and from trees in arctic tundras, leaves in Amazon jungles, and even a few from the lush, green grass of your local golf course. 

water is constantly doing its thing, evaporating and turning into vapor, floating around the earth in clouds, falling out of the sky as rain, sleet, and snow.

Water does a lot of moving around. True, there are places water seldom visits, like the Sahara, and there seem to be more and more such waterless lands lately. But, still, those sextillion molecules in front of your face represent a large amount of your planet.

If this is not jaw dropping enough, remember that the human body is, itself, 60% water and every day, all the time, our bodies are losing water vapor, water molecules to the atmosphere.

So that drop of rain on your muzzle, besides containing traveling molecules from all around Planet Earth, also contains H2O molecules that evaporated from the 8 billion or so human beings breathing right now.

that’s a helluva lot of humanity on your hooter

Best to stop here, you might be reconsidering that walk in the rain


Moral: Some things are best seen from a distance.


tio stib

You might also enjoy: Rain, Rain, Come Aain; The Blindside Parables 24 - Almost Heaven

The Music of Tears

I remember it like yesterday.

Packed into the high school gym, staring with hundreds of other students at the symphony orchestra sitting silent in the center of the floor.

A special assembly, an introduction to classical music by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

The principal stepped to the microphone. We hushed. He paused, let his eyes wander over the young faces whose minds were mostly somewhere else.

He spoke, “yesterday, we lost a beloved friend and teacher.”

He briefly described how an older English teacher, a fixture at the school for generations, had suddenly passed away.

We bowed our heads for a moment of prayer. Then the principal introduced the conductor.

Milton Katims, a renowned musician and a wise, compassionate man, dedicated the opening piece to the memory of our lost teacher. He raised his baton and the tribute began.

There was a strange quiet in the gym. Strange because a thousand high school kids were speechless. 

Samuel barber’s “Adagio for Strings” starts softly, with violins, violas, Cellos, and basses blending delicate harmonies around a simple theme.

I looked around. All eyes were riveted on the musicians birthing the beautiful sounds.

Sounds that crescendoed, louder and louder,  to a final climax of heavenly ecstasy. Then,

silence.

I remember it like yesterday.

Stunned.

Crying.

Blissed by the music of tears.


tio stib


You might enjoy this video.


The Blindside Parables 25 – Father, Son, and Lonely Ghost

Admittedly, Sam Black had made a few miscalculations over the years. The most recent was his failure to check the lay of the land before burgling a well anointed home. Fondling a diamond necklace, he heard voices below. His hasty exit through a bedroom window did not anticipate the three storey  drop from the hillside home. His neck had not handled the fall well and his next vision was St. Peter reading off Sam’s impressive list of failings.

“Well, Sam,” Pete had concluded, “to your credit, you never stole handbags from old ladies, but there’s no pretending you’ve been Robin Hood either. We’re going to need more time to evaluate your case.”

Meaning: Hang out in purgatory. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

And so Sam found himself in a nether world where time did not exist, the land of permanent, stagnant status quo. Needless to say, this did not suit a man of action. He considered his options. Perhaps he could do something that would raise his stock with the higher powers.

Flash: he could stop brother Red from luring nephew Benny into the long line of family ne’er-do-wells.

Which was exactly what Red was doing at that moment. For the court allotted father/son weekend, Sam was sharing the facts of life with eager eyed, twelve year old Benny. They were standing amidst the throng of travelers in Grand Central Station on a New York hot summer day. 

“Benny, my son, what we’re doing here is rebalancing a system of economic inequality, a system that favors the rich over the poor. We’re simply moving assets from one man’s pocket into a more deserving one.”

This was Red’s introduction to the fine art of pickpocketing. And the pair stood in the middle of pickpocketer paradise, a teeming train station on a steaming afternoon. No overcoats and excess garments to fumble with.

Red picked their first mark, handed Benny a map of New York, and pointed him at a couple wearing Hawaiian shirts with bags slung over their shoulders. There was a noticeable bulge in the man’s rear pants pocket.

Benny approached with a concerned look and map in hand, “Excuse me, I’m lost. Can you help me find Central Park?”

The couple, who were also studying a map, turned to look at him. Another lost traveler, of course they could help.

But before that could happen, a roundish man, indifferently dressed, seemed to trip and fall on his face at their feet.

The trio of the lost stared down. Red, who normally double tied his shoe laces, couldn’t believe his luck. Somehow, both shoes had untied laces and he’d tripped over them as he made his move on the wallet.

The map readers turned away and Benny was directed to the park in question.

Score: Good Guys 1, Bad Guy 0. Sam was beginning to enjoy this.

The next mark was an older lady wearing an outlandish feathered hat. Bedecked with sparkling jewelry, she had a very expensive Italian purse under her arm.

Benny made the same approach. The woman, not used to being confronted by street rabble, condescended  to listen to Benny’s story. She had just begun to provide directions when a frenzied yipping erupted at their feet. The lady’s heretofore silent companion had taken an instant dislike to the man who was reaching for his mistress’s purse. Benny and hat lady watched as the small terrier launched itself at Red’s trouser leg and clamped its teeth on his ankle.

Now it was Red who was yipping.

“Tiger! Tiger! Bad boy! Stop that!” instructions which the four legged protector finally acceded too, letting go his death grip, and standing back a safe distance to growl.

“I’m so very sorry, sir, I don’t know what got into tiger. He’s never done that before.”

Bending down to rub the damaged ankle, Red looked up and just smiled, “Think nothing of it, madam. These things happen.” With that, he tipped his hat and disappeared into the crowd.

Score: Good Guys 2, Bad Guy 0. yes, Sam smiled, who knew purgatory could be such fun.

Father and son regrouped, Red wondering, where did that dog come from? Okay, the next mark needs to be a sure thing.

By the guidebook he was studying, the older man with the full grey beard leaning on a cane, was another traveler. He, too, had a familiar bulge in his rear pants pocket. 

Overweight and out of shape, Red noted, this was going to be easy.

Once more, Benny approached with a lost look and map in hand. The man, who Benny thought must be somebody’s grandfather, smiled down at him. 

“Guten tag,” said the man.

What was this, Benny thought, the guy doesn’t even speak English.

Then the man’s smile broadened, “Just funning you, boy, I speak English, but my German is much better.”

Benny held out his map to ask directions but before a word left his mouth, the man, with unbelievable speed and dexterity whipped his cane around and thrust it into Red’s belly, sending the surprised larcenist stumbling backwards, landing with an ungainly splat on his butt.

The old man pointed the cane at Red and said in a cool, steady voice, “let that be a lesson to you. After thirty years in the Berlin police force, I know a few things about pickpockets.”

The retired cop turned back to Benny, “My name is Fritz. I’ve come to see your wonderful city. Would you like to share a drink with me, perhaps we can explore together, I’ve heard Central Park is a special place.”

Benny and his newly found grandfather walked off together.

Red struggled to get up, dusted himself off, and looked up at the heavens. 

What did I do to deserve this day?

If only he knew.

Score: Good guys 3, Bad guy 0


Moral, Not all angels have wings.


tio stib

You might also enjoy: A Season for Adventuring; The Blindside Parables 22 - Life is Like a Broken Egg

A Season for Adventuring

ghosting through the morning mist
as day slips from gray to gold
my stomach growls
the road replies
with a small cafe
cradling coffee
I watch him devouring a mountain
of syrup dripping hotcakes
he turns
we smile
 nod
fellow travelers
men of the frontier
last night
rocketing into starry oblivion
riding Cat Stevens’ peace train
saluting the shadows
of cacti sentinels marching in the moonlight
roadtripping
on the loose
free again
all those blue highways
all those maps
all those little country stores
all those stops  to buy a soda
asking directions
where the heck is Boggan’s Oasis?
all those steps into the unknown
into the magic of surprise moments
wild horses splashing through a sea of purple sage
golden eagles spiraling from heaven in their mating dance
“Jeez! That’s a helluva rattlesnake.”
sweating
cresting  the final ridge
running
diving
plunging into
sparkling turquoise water
erupting into rainbows and sunshine 
screaming with frigid delight
lost in steaming holy water
alone on a desert ocean
swaddled in eternity
sky slowly slipping
from gold
to pink
to gone
so many Shangri-Las
I will not travel these roads again
but they will haunt my heart when
 once again
Fall calls the vagabond
to a season for adventuring

tio stib

You might also enjoy: A Wilderness Pill; Breaking Trail


The Blindside Parables 22 – Life is Like a Broken Egg

Yesterday I dropped an egg. Actually, I didn’t drop it. Being blind, I surmised it rolled unseen off the counter. I heard a noise near the floor. In a microsecond, my brain flashed through the possible sources of such a noise. At the same instant, my brain reached another conclusion. The toes on my right foot were also sending signals to my sensory center. Something gooey was down there. 

A broken egg! 

As I groped about, cleaning the shattered shell and its slimy contents from between my toes, I pondered the symbolic relevance of this event.

Yes, I am easily drawn into metaphysical absurdities.

Perhaps, I wondered, my life is like a broken egg. Here I am, marching along unseen by most of the world and then, crash! I splat into eternity, possibly making a mess for someone else to clean up as I exit. 

That's one possibility. 

My mind drifted off in other directions. I remembered a structures class where we dropped eggs in specially designed containers from a third story balcony. The object, of course, was to preserve the integrity of the egg. The challenge was to do this with as little material as possible. It’s no problem to put an egg in a big box of bubble wrap and drop it unfazed onto the floor below. The trick is to drop the egg, mostly naked, with the same result.

 Similarly in life, I thought, there’d been times I’d insulated myself with such 
things as work and selfish interest so that the rest of the world couldn’t touch me, and I couldn’t touch the people who cared about me because I was too closed off from them. 
There have been naked opposite times when I was raw and open, times when I felt that life had run me over and left me for roadkill. Going bankrupt and watching friends die come to mind.

My lesson from these experiences: Sometimes it’s good to overprotect. Sometimes it’s good to hurt. The pain reminds me of happier times.

All this you may say, from simply having an egg hit the floor? Yes, and there’s more.

What if I’m like an egg? A hard, durable shell on the outside and a soft sticky mess inside. My outside, that part of me I show the world, is a lot like the shell of an egg. It’s quite resistant to general pressures, quite strong when grasped firmly. But, the shell has its weak points. It doesn’t do well with pressure applied to a single point.

Oh yes, I have my buttons. I hate cleaning up other people’s messes, such as wiping up their broken eggs. I have no tolerance for fools, which is why politics disgusts me. The egg shell is also brittle. It doesn’t do well when landing on sharp objects. I explode when subject to sharp noises, and am even more violent when subject to the sound of barking chihuahuas. 

Really, all this from a broken egg. 

My last thoughts on this surprisingly deep self-dialog.

How do you crack an egg? I use two hands. Even so, I often make a mess of this simple action, sometimes striking a nearby surface so hard that the shell cracks open and leaves a trail of egg goo from there to the frying pan. (This is a clue to what I usually do with eggs, hinting at my limited cooking repertoire). Sometimes, when my mind is somewhere else such as now, I fail to hit the egg hard enough, it doesn’t crack, waking me from my reverie to initiate another strike on the shell. This usually results in the previously mentioned egg goo trail. 

What does this say about my life? I tend to be overly cautious and conservative. Do I lack faith in my creative abilities to expand my egg cuisine? Maybe I’m just lazy.

One of my life goals is to learn how to crack an egg with one hand. I think this may take quite a few eggs. I’ve heard that gin fizzes are a good use for egg whites and an easy way to forget about life's deeper concerns. 

Time to get out the blender.


Moral: If you think too much making breakfast, you may find the yolk is on you.


tio stib

You might also enjoy: Where the Sidewalk ends; The Blindside Parables 17 - Superman



Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life 

Last night I dreamed I was paddling a canoe up a lake in the middle of the night. It was calm, I felt peaceful, yet there was one concern. The canoe was underwater. I was trying to paddle a submarine.

I’ve spent years listening to my dreams, paying attention to patterns, weighing the emotions of dreams with respect to my life at the moment. I believe larger forces speak to me in that unconscious world, forces that can guide me to awareness of deeper truths. This pushes me to wonder, why was I paddling a submarine?

I know there are many ways to interpret dreams, but ultimately, I tend to accept that my dreams are about me. Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I’m honest about how I feel in my dreams, they have given me clues to parts of me I needed to pay attention to.

Paddling a submarine. I feel this dream was about my need to live an authentic life. Paddling the canoe was me moving forward in life. My goal was to get to the end of the lake, to a state of inner peace, but I was struggling because I was keeping my emotions below the surface. If I would allow my feelings to express themselves above the water, I would have less resistance to life and my journey would be immensely easier.

I need to be genuine, original, true and trustworthy, and not be in fear of what the world may think of me in my many moments of  smallness.

Authenticity means to be honest, to be vulnerable, to take risks. Authenticity is built one day, one choice, at a time. It is a process of continually stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging the world from a place of worthiness vs. shame.

Authenticity is a daily journey into the wilderness of being fully alive.

What’s the greater risk I ask myself? Living life based on what other people think, or being vibrantly alive based on how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

This blog, “Travels with Tio, a blind writer’s path to happiness,” is my journey, my choice, to be all of me, fully alive. It is one way I will raise myself from paddling a submarine, to paddling a canoe, to perhaps even flying.

What does authenticity mean to you? How does it affect your life?

Please share your feelings on being the authentic “you”.

tio Stib

2013, 2017, 2018

Brene’ Brown recently gave a TED talk, “Listening to Shame,” in which she explores the challenges of authenticity. Brown believes authenticity is a process, a series of choices we make in our lives, choices made each day, in each moment, to be real…or not.

Here’s the link: http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/15/opinion/brown-authentic-self/index.html?hpt=op_bn2

 

Morning People

You’ve seen them or
if your eyes won’t open yet
you’ve heard them
buzzing into your life at 8 a.m.
babbling about how great it is to be working
anxious to charge into a new day

morning people

I groan
who started the myth that 3 hours sleep 
can propel you through a new day

it certainly wasn’t me

Lifting an aching head from my desk
I rub my eyes in disbelief when 
a morning person
complete with bright smile and jogging shoes
asks if I’d like to take a quick walk during break

I groan
head collapsing back onto desk

thank god, it’s Friday
I’ll have the weekend to recover

from morning peoplitis


tio stib

You might also enjoy: Life is Like a Broken Egg; Control Freaking

The Blindside Parables 21 – Adapt, Migrate, or Don’t Be Happy

Pete is sitting in front of the television, beer and chips in hand, watching the championship football game. He’s been looking forward to this all week.

She marches in, stands defiantly in front of the television and blurts, “The sun’s shining and you’ve promised to cut the grass for weeks. It’s time!”

Pete considers the options:

Adapt: He could negotiate, promise to cut the grass immediately after the game, never mind that it’s already 4 p.m., and darkness will engulf the yard at 6, not to mention this is a double header day. Or, he could offer to do the yard tomorrow, hoping she doesn’t remember that he’s already promised to take the family to the Wonderland Theme Park.

Yes, Pete could adapt by trying to negotiate. In this case his options are limited as this is the tactic he used the past two weeks in avoiding the task.

Next-

Migrate. He could arrange for his buddy, Harry, to call and then tell his wife he urgently needs help fixing a broken hot water heater, back as soon as possible. Of course, the hot water heater is fine, but now the guys can watch the games undisturbed in Harry’s man cave garage.

The downside of this option is that the two wives are also friends. They’ll talk, and Pete’s wife will realize she’s been scammed.

Pete’s options are now reduced to the final-

Don’t be happy.

Yes, it may come to this. After reviewing all Pete’s other options and their consequences, he may just have to get out and mow the damn yard or face the continued wrath of his wife.

But wait, perhaps there is another possibility-

Let’s reconsider “adapt.”

Man’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances has been the single most important means of his survival on planet Earth. What is another way Pete could adapt to this crisis?

He could call Billy, the teenage kid next door, and offer him twenty bucks to cut the yard, plus a free beer on the side. For an extra ten spot, he could probably get Billy to wash the wife’s car too.

Pete smiles and picks up his phone. “Honey, you’re absolutely right. I’m going to take care of this right now.”


Moral: In any perilous situation, man has three choices: adapt, migrate, or don’t be happy.


tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blindside Parables 18 - Timeman; If, by Rudyard Kipling