If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

When I’m down and feeling sorry for myself, “If” is one of the poems I return to for inspiration. Here are YouTube links to great readings of this poem, the first  by Holly Musgrove, the second by Sir Michael Caine-

Insert video link  to Holly Musgrove 

Insert video link to Sir Michael Caine

Life is a gift and a responsibility. Let’s make the most of it!

Tio Stib

 

Hell’s Canyon

but the map says it’s here!
icicle creek
this is supposed to be icicle creek

I stared
at the cascading tumble of roasting rocks

what made you think icicles could exist in Hell’s Canyon?

but the map says…

maps say a lot of things
doesn’t mean you should trust them

no argument
after nine parched miles
10,000 anguished steps
past three dry gulches
the advertised water had not appeared
although, in fairness to the map
rattlesnake creek had partially lived up to it’s name

even weighted by a fifty pound pack
adrenalin had defied gravity
launching my ten foot leap
over the awakened, angry rattler

guess I should have filled more than one water bottle this morning

you think?
what’s the next creek called?

a drop of sweat splattered on the map

surprise

perfect

tio stib, 2016, from a thirsty memory

You might also enjoy : The Crossing, The Campfire

Two Rivers

ahead
the canyon wall plunged
fell from the sea of sky
the river
dancing from shadow to sunlight
promising a new world
vanished

the rapid exploded

bouncing
white water splashes
rainbow mist
giggles
screams

the raft was spit
into beyond

and she was there
clear, quiet, confident
two rivers
two lifetimes
flowing
swirling
joining
at last

together

a shared smile
two travelers
now one

tio stib, 2016

You might also enjoy  Life Is Like a Broken Egg, Veiled Vision

Blind Blessings

No, when I first lost my sight, I didn’t consider my new condition to be a blessing. Rather, I fell into a deep depression, which I only escaped with the aid of loving family and friends. I needed help and was quite fortunate to eventually connect with the resources that enabled me to become functional again and resume my writing path.

If I may offer some advice, should you find yourself suddenly without sight or visually impaired, ask for help. If you get suicidal, call a suicide hotline. Losing one’s sight is tragic and traumatic, and if you find yourself or someone you care for in this situation, quickly reach out for assistance.

Ironically, I could not have picked a better time to go blind. We are in the midst of the “Golden Age” of assistive technology. One month after I was introduced to computer screen readers, I was communicating with email, researching on the internet, and writing again. Given the dark times I’d ben through, this assistive technology transformation was a miracle.

In the United States, there are many wonderful programs assisting the blind and visually impaired. Here are a few that have helped me-

Blind Services, California Department of Social Services. This program provided evaluation and training, including how to use assistive computer technologies. I think most states have similar programs. They even paid for my new computer and sent a blind guy to my home to train me in how to use it.

http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG83.htm

Lions’ Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This program teaches basic skills required for blind and visually impaired persons to function in daily life.

http://www.lbcenter.org/

Lighthouse for the Blind, San Francisco. This is another great resource that provides access and training for assistive technologies. Similar programs are offered in many other cities.

http://lighthouse-sf.org/about/contact-us/

Here’s my plug for Apple.

A screen reader application provides a voice that reads what is on a computer or cell phone screen. Although Windows computers offer various screen reader applications, Apple provides VoiceOver, its screen reader application, as a basic part of its operating system. This is great because whatever Apple device I buy includes VoiceOver, no need to add any other screen reader. An extra bonus, is that Apple has Siri, a voice activated program that allows me, for instance, to create and send an email with voice commands. My fingers never have to type a thing.

No,VoiceOver is not a perfect system, but it works well most of the time. To their credit, Apple keeps improving VoiceOver and voice activated functionality. With VoiceOver you can pick language and even voice character types, from staid English Alex to almost sexy Swedish Sonya.

http://www.apple.com/accessibility/osx/voiceover/

One more thing, something that has turned out to be a real blessing for the writer I’m working to be. The U.S. National Library Service has a program called B.A.R.D., which means Blind and Audio Reader Download. This is a fantastic and free new application for smart phones. With this app I can download thousands of audio books in the NLS system. This has become my secret writer’s sanctuary, a place I can go and listen to the great writing works. Currently, I’m listening my way through the Pulitzer Prize winning books of the last 100 years.

You need to first register with your state blind services agency to gain access to NLS and B.A.R.D.. Once you do, a whole new world is yours to explore.

https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS

Okay, by now you’ve realized that I found my way out of depression’s grip with a lot of help, and, yes, I’ve even found that blindness has been a blessing to me.

How?

First, losing my sight has forced me to be more humble. I can’t get through a day without asking for help. For a guy who was extremely self-reliant, this was a difficult change to make. However, I now recognize that there is a time to love and a time to let love in.

Perhaps my biggest blessing from blindness is that I’ve been forced to learn how to listen, to be acutely aware of the sounds around me and the feelings behind the words I hear. It has been said that the first rule of love is to listen. Blindness has given me a new path to love bigger.

And, I’m back to writing again. Here are some popular posts you might enjoy-

Gee, I Haven’t Been Suicidal for Months
Blind, But Now I Hear
Blind Man’s Bluff
Why I Like Being Blind

Again, if you or a someone close to you is dealing with the challenges of blindness or visual impairment, reach out for help. If I can be of any assistance, please contact me at tiostib@gmail.com.

There is Hope! Never give up!

Tio Stib Signature

Life Is Like A Broken Egg

Yesterday I dropped an egg. Actually, I didn’t drop it, I surmise it rolled unseen off the counter. I heard a noise near the floor. In a microsecond, my brain flashed through the possible causes of such a noise. At about the same time, 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 around cleaning the shattered shell from the floor and then its contents from my foot, I pondered the symbolic relevance of this event in my life.

Yes, I tend to get lost in my own world at times.

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. 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.

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 goals for the New Year 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.

Like how my life is like a broken egg.

Tio Stib Signature
First published in January, 2014, but since I haven’t mastered the one handed egg crack yet, I decided to publish this again to remind myself of goals I’ve yet to attain.

You might also enjoy : Truth, It’s Coming

Growing Up or Why I Became a Writer

“Why do I need to grow up?” asked my nephew, in one of those rare moments when youth values age.

“Why do you ask?” I replied.

“Because adults are always telling me I need to grow up,” he answered earnestly.

Feeling his inquisitive eyes staring at me, I knew a simple answer would not suffice, especially since I’ve struggled with the same question for over fifty years.

I’ve tried to grow up, built boats and houses played architect,, took my shot at saving the world as a social worker, never quite made enough money as an entrepreneur, collected a surprising array of failed relationships but did manage to win a gold medal in speed diapering. I’ve learned I’m an inept ballroom dancer, that I like to eat good cooking but don’t have the patience to create it,that the wonders of Nature are an infinite source of inspiration, that death happens, and that the true riches of my life are the friends I’ve made and worked to keep along the way.

Although I treasure time with my family and friends, I’m quite introspective and often introverted. To borrow a line from Steve McQueen, “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.: I must admit that after all the other “adult” careers I’ve tried, writing seems to suit me best. Writing is also a better fit for a blind guy than being a fly fishing guide. I’m not good at it yet, but I believe that by working at telling stories with solutions, sharing ideas that build a better world, I’ll perhaps make a positive difference with the life I’m blessed to live.

Writing is also wonderful as it gives me an acceptable adult excuse not to grow up. What else could I do where I can hang out in my imagination all day and people will just nod almost approvingly, and mutter, “don’t mind him, he’s a writer.”

“Tio!”

The voice snapped my attention back to the young boy waiting for the definitive answer to why he should grow up. There was a long pause.

“Growing up is not all it’s made out to be,” I finally replied, “I suggest you take as long as possible before getting seriously involved with adulthood.”

“I like it!” he said laughing and walked away.

My wife tells me I should be careful of what I say to children, they might believe me. She also pushes us to get out and enjoy life, to travel, go adventuring, and drink more wine with friends.

My wife is very smart and fun to live with, My kind of adult.

Be curious!

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy: Why I Write Poetry, The Story

Alone

alone
he eyes
the speechless mirror
begging
answers
to appear

eyes dripping
unseen tears
mind screaming
ancient fears
day dawns
absent hope
sliding down
depression’s slope

he groans
and pushes back
the past
then rises
off
his sorry
ass

 

tio stib, 2015

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