Second blog -- answers to an ocean of prompts
"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
his is my supplementary blog in which I will post entries written for prompts.
|Prompt: What is your favorite thing about social media?
My favorite thing is that I get news from friends and family since they post in that media. It used to take too much time and effort to stay in touch with everyone. Now I know what my friends are doing even if they live in faraway parts of the world. It used to take so much time, effort, and money to stay in touch with even 1/100th of those people through the phone and snail mail. Not anymore! Social media may have its drawbacks, but for me, its positives make up for that.
Second to that, social media is another portal for us for self-expression.
Prompt: Einstein said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
Can you think of a few things about people that show stupidity? What about the universe’s stupidity?
Oh, sure! To begin with, we are all stupid with something, partly due to our lack of information on that thing.
Second, in a foreign environment, we all act like a stupid person, again due to the lack of information, behavioral mistakes, or adaptation.
Then, we always underestimate the stupidities and their damage. And, through our stupid behavior, we incur losses to ourselves or to other people.
As to the universe, I don’t know enough about it, but what gets me is the destruction clause it has built into its essence. Such as, everything eventually is destroyed or self-destructs.
Also, why do we have to eat, hurt, or damage other beings just to stay alive?
Chances are my questions, too, point to my very own infinite stupidity.
|Prompt: “Ego never accepts the truth.” Buddha
How useful are our egos if they can’t accept the truth? What do you think?
I would say, it depends on what kind of an ego that is.
But before we attack the ego, let’s see what its definitions are: dictionary meaning, “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance; in psychoanalysis, “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” ; in philosophy, “a conscious thinking subject.”
According to Freud's model of the psyche, which consists of the id, ego, and superego, the id is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego.
These definitions point to the fact that one can support a healthy ego and accept the truth, as well. At the same time, it can be developed in such a way that it becomes the breeding ground for hate, fear, and delusion.
When the ego cannot accept what is true, it is useless and it belongs to arrogant, condescending, and self-absorbed people. Such people can be self-centered and self-absorbed to the detriment of others. Sometimes, a group of such people can be group-centered, which means they’d trample on the truth for the sake of the group or the goals and belief systems of the group. Such groups cause disruption and chaos.
Yet, there is such a thing as being a genuine human being and seeing and accepting oneself as such. This kind of a person understands the world through fair eyes and fair assessment of situations. In such a case, if the ego helps a person to understand the world he is in, it is a good thing, and I think this kind of an ego is an asset as it shows a healthy self-respect and emotional and cognitive maturation.
Without an ego, no person would work on their own inner development.
A healthy ego is essential in good leaders so they can act with courage for everyone’s welfare. After all, in our makeup, we are all granted with a sense of self. Why not use it to the best advantage of the entire human race!
|Prompt: Your losses in life
Especially in the beginning years of my life and a few decades after, I had a lot of losses. Some of those might not be considered losses by most people, but they were losses to me, but I have dealt with them, immediately or eventually. So, rather than digging them up, I am going to talk about losses in general.
A loss can be an expected one, such as what a fatal illness brings at its end, or it can be a traumatic one such as a sudden accident, a sudden end of a career or relationship, or the shocking result of a powerful outside event such as an earthquake or a storm.
When faced with a loss, the best thing to do is to share the pain instead of burying it within oneself, which I am guilty of doing to this day. Thinking about it, I believe this is because there exists intense pain at the core of a loss. This is why we try to avoid it. We run away from it. Then, some of us run away not only our own grieving but also from other people’s griefs as they remind us of our own losses. For example, to this day, I hate funerals in any shape, form, or belief system.
If dulling the pain for any physical illness is the aim of the medical profession, then why not try to do the same with an emotional disturbance, one might ask. The answer is simple. Dulling the pain of a loss doesn’t make the grief go away. It only covers it up. Moreover, everything inside will be tamped down and hidden under an emotional rug, which means small things may trigger a much bigger effect and reaction when stepped on. Even in medicine, after dulling the pain, doctors perform surgeries and cures on their patients to get rid of the disease.
That is why we have to do the work of grieving. We need to let it run its course, and we need to find outlets for it to express itself. All arts are very good for that as are some other things depending on the person.
Pain points to change; pain is what allows a person to change, enabling the person to reach a new reality for that person’s functioning in life can be free from feeling that pain constantly.
|Prompt: Finish this line--- and create either a poem, story or blog entry. Two’s company three’s a crowd.
Two’s company three’s a crowd
Whoever said that is far out.
Is the baby to a couple superfluous?
This has to be an idea treasonous.
The fifth wheel, too, isn’t unnecessary
Left in the trunk, like a cast-out fairy
Except when the fourth wheel breaks down
Then the fifth wheel is king with a sparkly crown.
How we simplify numbers passes me by
Odds and evens we must treasure all and justify
Prompt: What are your summer plans?
None. I don’t make summer plans. Where I live, it is summer practically all the time, and I live life as it comes.
Prompt: "Well, I do find beauty in animals. I find beauty everywhere. I find beauty in my garden." Doris Day
Write anything you want about this.
Our world is incredibly beautiful. Forgetting our personal prejudices of what is beautiful and what is not, a simple observation of just about anything can dazzle our senses. This beauty we can see has nothing to do what we can do with it like using those dark green herbs in our cooking, as beauty is not limited to how we can use it. Neither is anything beautiful to the exclusion of everything else.
A frog is beautiful as is the rose and the river in all its forms and in any one season. The same is true of vast landscapes. Grand Canyon is just as beautiful as the jungle or the oceanside.
Just the perception of everything and anything, when we put our minds to it, sends us a pleasant emotional response. Maybe this is because of our relationship with the world; then, maybe beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I used to have an art teacher whose motto was, “See beauty, create beauty!” As Doris Day was creative and beautiful, too, no wonder beauty existed everywhere for her.
|Prompt: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream." C. S. Lewis Do you agree with this quote?
Do I agree with the quote? Only in some cases. Let’s take climbing Matterhorn. I couldn’t do it even when I was much younger, as in "Alps: Zermatt, Bern, Lugano, Castles" . Now, at the age of three-quarters of a century, I am not going to set that goal again.
Yet, I can set smaller goals, like cleaning a closet or two, which isn’t happening, either. Or let’s say writing a short story or a short poem or making that chicken casserole, which that third option I have to since I defrosted the thing.
I am also not too old to dream of flying, exploring the insides of large maze-like buildings, climbing a tall oak, as long as these dreams happen while I sleep at night.
But I am not going to try to get another vocation. I’ve had it with vocations. Avocations, maybe because learning is forever, isn’t it!
|Prompt: What is something you always take when you go on vacation?
My first reactionary answer is: My mind or what’s left of it.
Joking aside, it has to be one or all of these depending on where I am going and how long--after the bare necessities of underwear, clothes, and medication: cellphone, purse, laptop, e-reader.
If the vacation is two days or less, just the cellphone (I finally got a Samsung) will be enough. Longer than that, my laptop will be added. I used to carry an e-reader everywhere, but I can read on the Android, so my favorite e-reader has been relocated from my purse to the bedroom. The other e-readers reside in different rooms of the house.
Since I always have several pens, a tiny pad, and loose papers in my purse, I can satisfy my longing for old fashioned writing tools You have no idea how strong that longing hits when it does.
Fact is we used to travel an awful lot, but now, I’ve turned into a homebody, which my hubby isn’t very happy about, but I made it a take-it-or-leave-it thing, and he had to concede. Thus, even my thinking about this is probably obsolete, but I couldn’t help myself just like my longing for old-fashioned tools.
|Prompt: Write whatever sparks your writing with this opening line "As night became day, the conclusion was clear but were we ready for the answer?"
As night became day, the conclusion was clear, but were we ready for the answer? I had thought about this a lot while I watched the late night news, which wasn’t exactly a bunch of red roses but more like poison ivy.
We were now sitting in a circle meditating out in the forest surrounded by redwood trees. Although the trees’ deep shades kept us quite cool, the weather was unusually warm. It was a slow, graceful meditation that I liked, while I enjoyed my heels touching the earth and feeling as if I were of the earth, of vegetation somehow.
What was the only revolution that could possibly succeed to bring our calm state to the rest of the earth? The conclusion we each had arrived in our own personal and special ways was the same. Yet, the inhabitants of this planet were not ready for it, and that, we accepted with our hearts breaking.
Yes, even such love, the transcendental kind, needed some work, some readiness, some wishful thinking. And the denizens of our planet just needed time.
|Prompt: What things in life make you feel at peace?
I bet some people may feel at peace during some religious or spiritual exercises or events. In my case, I get excited and happy when I think about or even touch those subjects, and I see them as being rather personal, so I don't talk or write about them.
Truth is, this is a multi-faceted question for me. Some things may make me feel at peace at one time; then the same things may unnerve me at another time. This is especially true when I am watching nature. I love to watch the ocean with rippling waves. I also like to look at the greenery around me; yet, one day I saw an eagle kill a squirrel in the very same place, which unnerved me.
On the other hand, I feel quite at peace when I am writing. (maybe engrossed is the better word here).
Reading with no interruptions (especially while the kind of music I like is playing) also calms me down and gives me peace.
My most appreciated type of peace comes from when I have fulfilled my own expectation of myself, which is a rarity, and also when there is nothing upsetting or nothing too hard to do. Another rarity.
Then, I feel at peace from knowing my family is okay and my country is doing well. I would also feel at peace if there were no political fights, which I know is a losing wish. But I have recently decided to not vote for people or parties who pick up unnecessary fights. This decision also gives me peace.
|Prompt: “We turn memories into stories, and if we don’t, we lose them. If the stories are gone, then the people are gone too,” says Amy Harmon in What the Wind Knows
To what degree do you use your memories in your writing? If you use them, do you think of preserving them or do you use them because they fit your story or poem?
I don’t write to preserve my memories. If I wanted to do that, I’d write a memoir, which isn’t happening at any old time. I don’t have that kind of a courage.
On the other hand, the memories or rather the distortion of them jump up sometimes during the course of writing and they surprise me when I recognize them, especially when I give a fictional character a memory of an event that actually happened to me or one I witnessed. Also, some of the most surprising (and mostly forgotten) memories that bounce out of nowhere usually happen when I am writing poetry.
In addition, there are those events that make me think would work well in a piece of fiction. I jot those down, and if they are in the form of a letter or an object, then I keep them for future reference.
Grab some of the titles listed and use them in your blog entry to tell a story. Have fun!
The more the fool I am, the more the happy whistler you are, You Long Tall Sally, and I am in love again, standing on the corner on the street where you live, on Blueberry Hill, as I am the great pretender in my blue suede shoes.
Now, due to the wayward wind, I’m just walking in the rain, carrying sixteen tons of shame while you are wearing his band of gold, and I can imagine you telling him on the phone, “Tonight You Belong to Me” all because you're in your ivory tower with the green door on Blueberry Hill and you wonder about me, thinking, Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom! Why do fools fall in love?
It only hurts for a little while and maybe no, not much for the hound dog that I am, I’ll be home soon at the heartbreak hotel with a sweet old-fashioned girl, and I’ll tell her to love me tender. Then, que sera, sera.
|Prompt: "If everything was perfect, you would never learn and you would never grow."
Do you agree with this statement?
If everything were to be perfect, we wouldn’t have fiction or poetry, as those things and almost all of the arts depend on conflict and imperfection. Never mind our smugness itself, the absence of the arts alone would give life a bland taste and outlook. Following along the same type of reasoning, can we call a bland life perfect?
Which makes me think about perfection. Just what is perfect? According to Wiki, ( God knows from where they got their definition) “Perfection is a state, variously, of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence.”
This means where there is perfection, there is no room for change or improvement. That would be so boring, and the fact that it would be boring would make it imperfect. A catch-22 situation, isn’t it?
I think it is a better idea to accept that we live in a world that is perfect in its imperfections because it changes, improves, or deteriorates, and this makes us work with those imperfections to produce our fiction, poetry, and all arts, even when we complain of the difficulties those imperfection throw our way.
|Prompt: "Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrong."
What are your thoughts about this?
I think it’s Jane Eyre talking here and I totally agree. Well, if we let other people’s misbehavior or negativity upset us, it is our fault, not theirs.
We may have a good reason to blame someone else for our being upset over his or her actions but it is us who decide how we feel about things that happen, including the behavior, words, or actions of that someone else. This is because such things cannot harm us, but our perception of them does.
Rarely there may be an exception to this rule, which is when someone works in a harmful way against us behind our backs and we are not aware of it because such actions may generate other actions and negative behavior in yet other people, as in the case of someone slandering or libeling us and making others believe the lie.
Still, we must decide not to get upset but work to clear ourselves because when we get upset, we may not be able to think straight to do anything properly.
A rule of thumb in protecting us from such people is when someone you know suddenly turns into a different person. A person who can change in a heartbeat has no values or morality. An example of this can be a person who is known as the pillar of a community but who is being found out to be a serial killer or someone who acts like some kind of a criminal when no one is looking.
Most of the time, people don’t turn into serial killers and such, but they may start badmouthing and manipulating people and causing chaos. They do it because they like the sense of power it gives them. We should know this and not let their behavior affect us.
In short, if we are living to better our lives and ourselves, we must refuse to be dragged back into the darkness of other people.
|Prompt: David Burns say, “The reason fantasy is an old but thriving literary genre is because fantasy stories speak to emotional truths.” Do you agree?
Well, that purple heart does not belong only to the fantasy genre because most fiction deals with emotional truths. What the fantasy genre has over the others is the abundance of metaphors, which the readers may or may not catch on to while reading a fantasy story. In other words, the fantasy genre offers emotional truths by cleverly hiding them. So, from where I stand, the quote is only partly correct.
Fact is, all fiction is a lie that tells or points to truths, which the readers feel intuitively. The purpose of this telling or pointing to emotional truths is to create empathy. Empathy is the key purpose of all great literature when the stories cause the readers to feel the grief, annoyance, joy, love, and hate that the characters feel.
In addition, great literature never shields the readers from evidence or facts by cloaking them with emotion (sappiness). This clashing of emotion with the fact (that is, the facts as we know and understand them) and how a character either accepts his wrong and changes or resists can reveal to a reader a core emotional experience beyond the particular situation in a story. This is what is meant by emotional truths.
Thus, within the boundaries of great literature, the fantasy genre is only one player on a crowded stage.
|Prompt: What does it mean to have the best of both worlds?
In its largest interpretation, this quote might mean being good on Earth and for Heaven. For other things, it might mean being privileged to enjoy two very different things, mostly at the same time.
For example, a mother can have a serious profession she works at full-time but she also enjoys her children at the same time. The reason may be that her boss or her responsibilities are good to manageable and she’s very successful at what she does, and her children at home are getting very good care by a grandmother or a wonderful nanny and she has a good time with them when she’s home.
Okay, so this is a rare and a highly imaginative situation, but it may be possible for some and just the idea of that possibility makes me feel happy.
|Prompt: Use these random words in your creation Saturday entry. acceptable, jobless, thin, petite, blushing, page, petunia, and delicious. Have fun!
In delicious expectation,
the blue petunia
of the nightshade family
not really acceptable,
but petite and inviting,
just a garniture,
lies blushing by the side of
the thin salad plate
at Le Petit Chateau’s webpage.
What a spectral preposition!
|Prompt: “If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.” ― Jack Kerouac
Taking the quote at face value and allowing momentarily what it claims to be the absolute truth, does this make “excess” an admirable thing? Let’s consider that.
As in everything, excesses, moderation, or indifference depend on the situation they are in. Take health and wealth for example. If followed with energy, health may improve and is good for a person’s wellbeing. Wealth is good, too. After all, who doesn’t want to be rich?
Yet, what if you go to excess with your health and wealth and deprive yourself of enjoying life? Is it worth it to spend so much energy that you are unable to experience a day of fun?
Some indifference could be beneficial in some things and moderation would help with most things, whereas excess and putting too much energy toward a single idea or goal can upend our destinies.
In short, I dare think such generalizations like that of the Kerouac quote are useless and petty, and if they are not exercised toward the right pursuit of our objectives, they only cast shadows on our lives, making them become no longer ours to do something about.
|Prompt: Write a poem about Spring and April.
I liken April to a young carefree girl
with an angelic grace
eyes wide open
with sweetness and fragrance
of flowers and spices,
and in her itinerary,
a rippling creek,
vegetation, and rain
for in the stream of time
her silky green outfit
will take on
dazzling summer colors
in wavy red-hot patterns
and a mature scorching style
Such a downgrading gesture
to reinvent oneself!
Prompt: What was your most memorable piece of criticism, good or bad?
If the critique will help me or is done by a knowledgeable person, I appreciate it greatly whether it is good or bad, but when the critique becomes a criticism with bad intentions, then I see red.
Case in point: This was many years ago. Right here in Wdc, a member wanted to get back at me for a reason, in which she was in the wrong, and she re-registered as a gray case to give a one star to a horror story I had just written, and she said something like, “Why do you write such a scary story? Can’t you write something soft and sweet?”
It wasn't the one star that got me but her comment. I have no words for such an action.
|Prompt: Scientists have discovered there are humans (not aliens) living on another planet, but they have one major difference when compared to Earthlings. What's that difference, and what are their lives like?
On this planet, in the deep valleys of high mountains and happy creeks and rivers, lay the villages where people live.
I don’t know which force had thrown me in there, but I was surprised to find people with bodies like us. I still am as I look back and recall.
These people are exactly like us. Even their racial features are akin to those we have on earth. Their one difference is that they all speak the same language as the villages don’t belong to any one country. In fact, the entire planet is one country, in which people travel freely from one village to another in sophisticated air-vehicles.
Then, the biggest difference of this entire realm is that no living thing eats another living thing. Although the people's bodies work the same as ours, the air they breathe coagulates and turns into food in their mouths. The same goes for every living thing. The animals, too, feed on air, and there are no plants that eat other living things, and as such, no plant exists resembling the Venus’s Fly Trap on earth. This must be why those plants are smaller but brilliant in colors, colors we don't even know about here on earth.
This must also be why these people and all the other living things are so peaceful on that planet. Not that they see everything eye-to-eye, but they are accepting and tolerant of one another.
Thus, not only with nutrition but also with their social norms, nothing feeds on any other living thing.
Still, I like the taste of our food much better.
|Prompt: Sherwood Anderson said, "I think the whole glory of writing lies in the fact that it forces us out of ourselves and into the lives of others."
Do you agree with his assessment of writing? Let's take it one step further, as a writer we step into other lives (our characters) does writing help us be more tolerant in real life or less because we look at things differently than a non-writer.
Yes, there is that escape into other lives factor, but it is only one of the factors. I don’t know how I would look at things as a non-writer because I always wrote, one way or another, ever since I was eight.
As a writer, I look at writing as sharing or rather hugging the human inside the readers. Whether writing, especially mine, helps anyone to be more tolerant or not is not for me to say; however, through reading others’ writings, my own worldview, I hope, is becoming enhanced.
For example, I have been reading a lot on World War II and its survivors, but I am also reading about the Germans and the Japanese as soon as I find their memoirs or books that reflect their hardships during that terrible time. Whenever I do that, I search for the humanity in everyone. This, I hope, makes me feel empathy for all sides.
While writing or reading, it is a good idea, I think, to view the stories that deal with not only human but also, human and animal and human and nature. After all, this planet is the only one our species has.
Then, when we write, we are sometimes delightfully surprised to hear a voice, that certain voice of another inside us. It might be a character or something hidden in us popping up to the surface. I believe this is much more than imagination. It is a knowing we didn’t know we had.
|Prompt: "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it." Julia Child Write your views on this quote.
Oh well, I felt like I am listening to a high school commencement speech. I am surprised that Julia Child would come up with such a one-sided thought because aside from her cooking, she did so many different things in her life, some of them very important.
As much as the quote sounds quixotic and idealistic, it rarely works in real life because life is so much richer than one single interest to be passionate about.
Then there is that clashing of the words. “Interest” has the idea of some curiosity that is ephemeral and passing, while a passion has a lure that is consistent, all enclosing, and addicted. We may have several interests at any one time, but passion is that one thing you delve into and can’t/won’t get out of because you put your everything in it.
As for me, I like my tiny and varying interests. My passion, if I can call it that, is for literature and the arts, which hasn’t changed in my rather longish life.