Are vegetarians the only folks who know how to turn over a new leaf?

Are the rest of us capable only of turning over a new beef?

Don’t ask me where such thoughts come from–they just insist themselves into my writing, searching for space in which to thrive and insinuate.

Why am I pondering the prominence of beefs? I keep tamping down this prominence but it continues to raise its fluttering hand. It seems everybody has a beef these days, including you and me.

Griping and whining can be fun and tribally satisfying. But griping and whining also sucks all the time off the clock, eats up space, leaves us little room to ruminate, contemplate, meditate…little time to feel the awesome, surrounding presence of the Universe.

I was never a sportsman, never an athlete. But in my swirling imagination I am great with a baseball bat. When I’m feeling the better part of my DNA, I can take that bat and swing at the beefs and whines and self-deprecating illogical annoying stormtrooping negatives and CRACK! send them shattered into dust. Then, some kind of metaphorical leaf blower is employed to delegate that useless dust to the imaginary ethos in which they were birthed.

All this talk about whining and beefing is really another way of contemplating all those philosophical writings about whether a glass is half full or half empty. You know–are you a pessimist if you see the glass as half empty, are you an optimist if you view the glass as half full?

Unfortunately those whines and beefs rear their uglified heads and won’t allow you to feel good till you’ve found something negative to say.

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? DEPENDS ON WHETHER YOU ARE DRINKING OR POURING.

If you see water spots on a glass that’s half full, ARE YOU BEING PESSIMISTIC?


And so on.

Any good idea can be twisted into a bad one by the snarkies of society.

It’s up to you, it’s up to me, to take up our bats and knock those negatories into a ballpark far, far away

© 2016 A.D. by Jim Reed

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If you are reading this, you must be hanging in there despite the fact that you and I are survivors of yet another Election Day.

Yes, Grasshopper, people do live through times like these–perhaps with great caution, maybe with a dab of apprehension, but certainly with a healthy dose of goodwill and humor.

The world around us swirls with disjointed factoids and fictions, mythologies and truths. It is our job to bear it all, to make sure we take care of our loved ones and seek the good in each and every person, the good in all the peoples living on this small spheroid afloat in a directionless galaxy.

The all-consuming media clog our sensibilities with the good, the bad, the uglified, the uplifting. Awash with all this debris, we who have survived the election–all of us–must get on with making security and love and kindness our topmost priorities.

The uglified stuff must be stared down, confronted, humiliated, marginalized…the beautiful stuff must be accentuated, made prominent. The bestial must be attenuated.

Our fellow travelers are watching us, so we must set inspiring standards of behavior. If we fail to do this, what good are we?

It’s the only path that makes any sense.

As Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

Living a kindly life is difficult. Difficult is the only way anything good ever gets done.

Ray Bradbury said, “Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.”

If we wish to be fondly remembered by future generations, we must behave each moment at the top of our genetics.

We must build our wings whether descending or ascending

© 2016 A.D. by Jim Reed

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Bill, the guy from Up North, is visiting Alabama for the first time, and he is poking at his food as if it might be hiding a live squirrel.

We’re having an expense-account dinner, trying to entice him into moving down south by introducing him to our exotic food, our southern hospitality culture.

Bill is making a effort to slow down and sync up with our slow southern rhythms.

Finally, he reaches down into a serving of black-eyed peas, picks one up, examines it closely and says, “Is this a grit?”

At this moment, we realize this is not going to be easy, this baptism-by-food initiation.

Earlier, looking over the menu, Bill asks, “What is this OCK-ruh dish?” We know he’s never known the pleasures of okra. As James Dickey once said, “If God made anything better than okra, he held it back for himself.”

Just for the record, here’s how you eat black-eyed peas, assuming they have been carefully and correctly prepared:

First, you shake lots of salt on the peas, followed by ground pepper and maybe even some pepper sauce. Then, like all true Deep South connoisseurs, you shake a heap of catsup upon them.

Don’t laugh. Everybody in my family does this, and the result is delicious. Try it.

What we try to get across to Bill is the fact that it’s not the plain-and-simple southern food that tastes great, it’s the stuff you add to it in correct proportions.

For instance here’s how you eat grits, assuming they have been carefully and lovingly prepared:

Make sure they are piping hot. Salt and pepper them. Add a dollop or two of butter, some cheese, even a touch of garlic, then vigorously stir them. Prepare ye for a transformative experience.

Something not to do if you want to immerse yourself in true dining ecstasy:  Never, never eat grits plain, with no flavoring. They will taste like steamed particle board and you will never go near them again. Lots of visitors to the south have done this, and they are now lost souls, condemned forever to living on Ovaltine and non-iced, non-lemoned iced tea.

Ever gone to a Chicago diner and ordered iced tea? You’ll get that blank stare reserved only for aliens from far planets.

Down Here, there are things one does not do. We don’t put gravy on good steak. We will tolerate hash browns only if you have run out of grits. We know the difference between flavorless raw spinach leaves and hot, pork-flavored over-cooked tasty spinach.

And so on.

After all, what Bill needs to understand is that the South is a wonderful, friendly and warm place to live, but you must learn the rules about good food in order to truly enjoy yourself.

And the correct way to prepare barbecue is an entirely different story for a later time.

Does Bill “get it” and learn to relax around southern cuisine? Er, southern eating?

Don’t know. He disappears and is never heard from again.

Which means we get to divide up his servings

© 2016 A.D. by Jim Reed

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