A Question of Authenticity

All my life,

a struggle has ensued,

when papering my walls with legal pad writings,

one after another after hours, after years,

until years later,

the wallpaper came down,

storage boxes collecting dust and shadows.

 

Someone said once,

who do you see,

what might you feel,

in a glance in the mirror

when the moment before,

you felt a single tear.

I wonder if we ever realize

when that day is near.

 

I glanced at the moon tonight,

it was profound in its full bounty,

the Hunter’s moon it is known,

to light our forests,

cause our hearts to gasp.

I wonder about this august,

seems to follow me,

on nights when

minds might

rather,

than

bay at the night sky,

feel a gasp in the wonder of

Nature.

 

I wonder about the moon and a clear night sky.

Ground Breaking Rules

When in childhood,

I once stood in the forest,

friends having descended the trail,

a night of surreal

exploration of the wood,

a morning fire,

a quiet reckoning.

 

Having forgotten a knife,

knowing it to be on a rock,

the rings of stone,

suddenly erupted

while coming upon,

the late night stories.

 

There is a blessing,

in the revisit,

perhaps a spiritual

guide,

a sense of

realizing Nature

needs such attention,

as my barely covered

feet stamped out

a reality of tragedy.

 

The reception of my friends,

a fatigue of waiting,

I recalled the story,

their laughter infectious,

imagining

if we had all been part of

an innocent scheme

to wipe out wood,

kept the lives of

eyes that met our silence

in the quiet of night.

 

We all do face our demons

in vivid flames of abandon.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

My Issue With Vaping

Recently, I presented a collaboration with colleagues on the dangers of vaping. Alongside we also explored rhetoric in advertising. An examples was a fifties picture of a pack of Viceroy cigarettes, with a dentist promoting the idea of using filters to protect our teeth and body. The premise was meant to identify safety in ingesting tobacco. We live in that time again of false representation, or we might easily acknowledge the practice has never gone away.

I remember as a child, or young teen, cigarette ads were banned from television commercials because somewhere along the line, someone with influence managed to convince the producers this method a dangerous precedent, especially given the impact on teenagers.

I was a heavy smoker from my late teens until around 15 years ago. There have been many gifts to my life that have occurred because of my decision to stop smoking. I can breathe again, without rasp, without a chronic cough, without the fear of blackening my lungs. I had a medical procedure nearly a decade ago. I had quit smoking a few years before hand, and so during the testing I feared they would find spots on my lungs. I was fortunate to live with the resiliency of our body’s capacity to recover their full health. Certainly not always the case. No spots, no memory of years of cigarette smoking.

So what does all of this have to do with vaping in today’s society? In my own personal life I feel fortunate to have quit smoking years before the trend began. Had I been a smoker I would have been one of the first to buy a vape device. I’m a trend junkie, and it would have been the right transition because it might have seemed and looked rather cool. I feel fortunate as I read the increasing evidence of its damaging impact on society, people, our teens.

I write about this today, because I came across a picture of this young woman laying in a hospital bed with tubes, diagnostics and oxygen at her nearby. The commentary to follow the photo is sad, supportive, hopeful and at times cruel. The idea of a person in a hospital clinging to their lives as being weak is reprehensible. The very nature of what we do not know about vaping and its unknown ingestion of chemicals just in simple terms scares the hell out of me.

So, two things pop into my mind about this picture. One, my immediate compassion for this young woman’s welfare. The very fact that even if the picture is photo-shopped or exaggerated, the truth is there are people in her position in hospitals across the country experiencing her condition as we speak. The evidence exists. This cannot be considered weak, it needs to be understood as dangerous and fact.

The other piece even more frightening is the practice of using pot, or THC to be hidden inside the wonder of a Juul. People laugh about it – they can walk anywhere and hit their Juul without being detected. The reality their body is impacted matters far more than a hidden treasure in the midst of a public audience.

So today, as I watch this phenomena in its still early stages, not even peaking with intrigue, I think of the young people whom are so easily drawn to the dangers of vaping. We know lung cancer is what it is, rather than directly connected with smoking or not. Imagine what will become common knowledge or memory for the lives of so many people caught up in the seemingly safe and potentially life threatening rave that is vaping.

Yes, as much damage as cigarettes did and do over the long term, vaping in any regard frightens me to no end. Those that have lost their livelihood, their health due to such an unidentified habit, my heart goes out to all and I only pray for their strength to overcome the medical consequence that may lay ahead of them.

We just don’t know.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

juulclaims.com

 

 

Once

There was this young man,

he didn’t understand,

lived his life

by some societal demand.

Each day,

from morning he began

to try to find answers

inside his own head.

 

The throbbing

always until night’s end,

wanting resolve,

wishing solution,

medicating blues

begging forgiveness

for strange ideals

he would never

readily realize.

 

Watching people

walk the same streets

always vigilant,

a constant

recognition,

perhaps a look in our eyes

that would tell

anyone nearby

we all feel

the same

anxiety

who, wanting

to know.

 

We live life

always

wishing redemption

once.

Once, In Sunlight

We did

in quiet observation,

attend of course

the eyes

windows that speak

well beyond the notice

of a fashion,

of a trend,

of an expectation.

 

Instead, just a glance

where both pain and joy

can reside,

can wait for the next opportunity

to speak aloud

in the framework

of sweet silence.

 

We are that coincidence

when two people

encounter one another

on a summer’s day,

in the heat,

the passionate embrace

of a spectacular

sunrise.

 

We look for the eyes

accentuate the why


© Thom Amundsen 2019

Ric Ocasek – Drive

Another rock and roll icon passed on today. His legacy with a certain genre of music caught my eye in the eighties. Most every song has purpose, in lyrics, in rhythm, the Cars were able to take us on a journey. There is one particular piece, has always stuck with me.

In ‘Drive’ the video I suppose makes it that much more powerful. I see a woman struggling with her own sanity, four walls around her protecting her own impulsivity, and the lyrics are haunting,

Who’s gonna hold you down,
When you shake?
Who’s gonna come around,
When you break?

I worked in mental health for a couple of decades, and in that time, I observed many struggling human beings in isolation. Our job, my job was to maintain their safety, to watch and make sure they didn’t try to harm themselves, but in that isolated space, they might find a calm, and return to the general population.

Some took hours, even overnight, some needed to be strapped to a gurney, rather than do damage to themselves. I always felt a certain compassion for their helpless nature in the throes of a psychosis. I watched tears, and I was in no position to offer them any professional solace, except one human being to another making sure they knew I was there to keep them safe.

So when I reflect on ‘Drive’ I realize the vulnerability of our lives, when we do become so lonely, there seems no solution. We make choices that we later regret, or haven’t a chance to regret. I think about an artist’s genius in what in their mind is just cutting another album, and part of the whole – sounds good in a mix, looks good in a visual, having really, sometimes, no idea the impact it might have on their audience.

I leave it to you to get through the ads, and watch the Cars speak to the frailty of the human condition, and yet plead for some common welfare to be found that will expand the possibilities of the human spirit.

 


© Thom Amundsen 2019

RIP – Ric Ocasek – The Cars

Our Spectacular Being

I can feel you,

crossing a path,

planting my feet in

the morning mud,

last night’s rainfall,

making apparent

the day ahead would

not carry the same weight

in a sunny afternoon.

 

I think about aging sometimes,

more than some would like,

I imagine those days,

suggesting,

if I could …

all over again.

 

I wonder what might happen,

would there be other

faults

to replace the ones

having beckoned

my mind for

a half century.

 

Would awareness allow me

to feel right in my dreams,

or how long might it be

that I come to terms,

with this new life,

no longer carrying

the reminder of the old.

 

I read a book today

about ‘letting go’

a scary reality

when there are those matters

we wish to hang onto

all of our lonely lives.

 

Yet, the takeaway

today,

was not that we could never

look back,

instead we might

find a way,

always

love the reality

of our time.


© Thom Amundsen 2019