This Moment


I am sitting at my computer. Rain is falling outside and the air is hot enough to grow orchids. My air conditioner is a remedy for the outside oven air and my roof sees to it that I am dry. I am surrounded by beautiful music thanks to a combination of technological magic and God given talent bestowed on the musicians. I am content - this moment.


Is my life perfect? No.

Will it ever be perfect? No.

Is my future certain? No.

Do these things sometimes bother me? Yes.


Still, in this moment, I am content. 

Our present is a chain of moments.

I could lament the good moments will not last.

I can have hope and faith the bad moments will not last.

I can ignore this moment and worry about past moments.

I can fear approaching moments.

It is a choice I make. . . each moment.


Do you remember “The Incredible Hulk” television series? It aired on CBS from 1978 to 1982. One episode contained the parable below and it has stayed with me all these years:


A Parable 

Buddha told a parable in a sutra: 

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above.

Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. The vine sustained him. 

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it



Often when I talk to people about the power of their choice, they defend their anxiety. “I can’t help it - my troubles are real. . .


I suppose they are real, but only for a moment.


Of course, life requires balance. We must prepare for the future. We may need to correct past wrongs, and we must learn the discipline of knowing when to be completely present in this moment.


What if you were in a theater and you wondered if you locked your car. You could leave the theater to check the car. You could fret throughout the show and instead of enjoyment you would experience stress, or you could be in the moment.


It will only feel good for a little while. It will only hurt for a little while. We are here and then we are gone. Live your life in such a way you will have no regrets. You can run out of money, but you cannot run out of expressing love. It only takes a moment.


The River

Think of all the people you have known in your life. From the earliest memories of childhood to your now. How many of those people do you still know and interact with? My guess is not many. Yet in some ways they are still with you.

Time and circumstance move us on and down that river we call life. Few travel with us the entire journey. Yet many leave impressions, which affect our course. Those with whom we have traveled teach us things. They show us different ways to view life, people, and God. They are tributaries to us and we serve as tributary to them. Together we make up the larger river of humanity. We are all going somewhere. We are all flowing to the delta that is life’s end.

What a ride it is. Throughout our lives we will know waters both treacherous and placid. We will experience the thrill of the rapids and the boredom of the doldrums. Upon the water we will see the reflection of breath taking sunrises and sunsets. On the river bank we will see changing landscapes and images we will treasure and store among our most special memories. The lucky ones will realize that all of this is a gift. Whether the sailing is smooth or the seas are rough - it is all a precious gift.

From the headwaters of this river we begin and at every confluence we blend with it. Those with whom we have traveled have melted into us and nourished our souls just as the nutrients we ingest become our bodies. We are a product of many. Our thoughts, our words, our actions are an assimilation of many thoughts and words and actions.

The wise will understand then that those with whom we travel will some day be a part of us and we them. Choose how you influence your fellow travelers wisely. Spread love, kindness, respect, good cheer, and honor instead of hatred, anger, and strife. Recognize the good in others and be patient with their shortcomings.

Someday our voyage will end. One cannot travel upstream to redo the past. So while you are able, choose the right stars to guide you. Travel with boldness and give your fellow sojourners your best. Take the best from them and pass it on.


Are you lemmings? Break the chain

OK kiddies, gather around. Your Uncle John wants to tell you a story:

A long long time ago, before the Internet was invented by Al Gore, people used to communicate by writing things on paper, putting that paper in an envelope, giving it to a letter carrier, who would deliver the paper to the intended recipient. We called them letters. It usually took the mail man anywhere from 2 to 3,746 days to deliver the letter, but we were used to slow in those days.

There were all kinds of letters. For instance, love letters which carried the sentiments of the heart from one person to another. Love letters were a necessity in "long distance" relationships. Soldiers at the front wrote to their sweethearts back home. Whatever the reason for the separation, love letters filled the bill. I wrote a few of them myself. Why, in my day, my love missives were quite the thing. I even sent some of them, ha. Letters were sent to congratulate people about the new job, the birth of a baby, and anything else deserving of a kuddo. Families kept in touch through the mail. A long distance telephone call was too expensive. That was only used to tell someone about a death or some other equally earth shattering news that could not wait for the US Mail.

The letter I want to talk about though is one that still exists in various forms. I am talking about the chain letter. A chain letter usually came from a stranger. This was always intriguing. In those days, junk mail had not been perfected so any piece of mail received was scrutinized. The chain letter promised remarkable things, good health, money, or just good luck. Examples were given:

Wilbur Fritz did not break the chain and he received a check in the mail 4 days later in the amount of $142.87.

To ensure the fates turn your way and smile, though, you have to send money to a list of people. If you break the chain, however, you might experience bad luck. An example of bad luck was also given.

Delbert Dicks broke the chain and a freight train derailed a week later and killed three of his milk cows.

Many people decided to keep the chain going. Why thumb your nose at fate, they would reason.

Well, I thought it was a load of crap. It is just a big pyramid scheme and you start at the bottom. No letter is going to bring about fortune or good luck and it sure as heck won't bring about misfortune or bad luck.

Now a days, I am on Facebook and I do not write that many letters. If I wrote my wife a love letter, she would take me to a psychiatrist to see if he could shrink my mind back into my bald head. I do not receive that many letters either, but interestingly enough, chain letters still exist.

These days, I get emails instead of letters. Sometimes I get an email telling me that Microsoft or some company is tracking this email and if I forward it to so many people, I will get a lot of money. BS. Other chain letters are wrapped in religious clothing. If you don't forward this email to 7 of your friends - I guess 7 is significant, being religious and all - then you will go to hell. If you do not forward it, you are ashamed of God. Other forms are aimed at patriotism. The letter tells a story about a soldier or displays photos of our military. The instructions are to forward the email or you are a comunist, or you do not love the troops, or you are an ingreat. Starving children, homeless kittens, and you name it seem to have chain letters zipping around Al Gore's Internet on their behalf.

I say break the chain. Facebook is full of signs and photos with the admonition - Like to prove you do not hate gays. Like to prove you care about animals. Like to prove your allegience for political party X. Phooey.

I can like what I want and I do not have to click S$%T to prove it. All of this stuff is someone's attempt to get likes and somehow become viral instead of just vile. If you are a contributor to Facebook or have a blog, like your Uncle John, do not shameless try to manipulate people to click like out of guilt. Just throw it out there. If it is any good, they will like it and share it. Otherwise, it will sit there like the other 99% of cyberspace.

So that's my rant. I hope you agree. 

I better get some likes and shares out of this or I will lapse into a deep depression. Don't worry about me though, just ckick like or share if you really want to, not because you don't want to hurt my feelings - as it surely will, but that's ok, do what you want.

Until the next time if there is a next time

John Strain


Are you alive or just living?

If you are reading this, you are alive. Your heart is beating, the nerve receptors in your brain are firing. Your eyes sense color and motion. Voices, music, and the ticking of a clock are discerned from tiny vibrations interpreted by your ears. You are breathing, you have a pulse - but are you alive?

Physiology is one definition of alive. Just like whispering is sound and candle light is  light. These things are continuums. From a whisper to a thunder clap. From a candle to the sun, sound and light take many forms. Being alive is no different. One's existence can be a boring, unsatisfying routine or something that challenges and beckens one to dream, to strive, and to risk - all for something better.

The things we take for granted today were miracles yesterday. The dreams we follow today will be tomorrow's miracles. Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers, and so many others followed their own path. They broke with convention. They paid no heed to the smart money betting against them. If you need inspiration from others, you will not advance beyond the dream stage. If you have a passion or a calling you will advance; driven by an internal fire. 

Life is short. The old man or woman wonders where the years have gone. Even a hundred years seem few when you are in your 90's. Time ticks on. Your routine repeats. One day disolves into the next. What accomplishments mark your time? How long ago were they? What are you pursuing today? What gets you up in the morning? What is your passion?

Life is a gift. With every breath, and each second, every smile, each kind word, and every helping hand - all give meaning and satisfaction to our life.

What have you yet to do? What have you been meaning to do? Who do you love that you have not told? 

If you were to die this very night, what would you most miss? What would you regret not doing? What words have you kept to yourself. Do your friends and family know you? Would they know how you feel about them?

When are you going to take that vacation? When are you going to take that course, fix up the house, landscape the yard? When will you visit the nursing home or give money to the cause that you believe in?

You've been meaning to get a pet? You want to learn French? Take piano lessons? Write that novel?

Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

The hour glass has a limited amount of sand. Your body is breaking down. There is never enough money. Excuses are easy. Plans are easy. 

How do you want your obituary to read? 

Write your obiturary now, then work backward and make it true. This involves work and effort, but it pays off in peace and satisfaction. Just like Andy said to Red in the Shawshank Redemption - "You need to get busy living or get busy dying."

Here's to being alive and here's to really living.

Until the next time

John Strain


Covington Police Blotter: Old man and dog terrorize neighborhood

I listen to audio books when I walk Bear. Sometimes the book is so good, Bear gets extra walks just so I can listen. Last night about 10:00 PM was such an occasion. Bear does not mind. He is up for a walk any time of nhe night or day.

Out the door we went, Bear leading the way and me outfitted in my normal regalia. Instead of a crown, I wore my 2006 Boston Marathon cap - did I ever mention that I ran the Boston Marathon? I am sure I did. At any rate, instead of a sceptor I carried a small metal LED flashlight in one hand, Bear's leash in the other.

I could walk our course in my sleep and certainly at night with a flashlight. The walk was uneventful most of the way. It was the typical Louisiana summer night. Unique fauna making their familiar sounds. The frogs, crickets, and locusts seemed to compete for the "who can make the most noise" award in their own nocturnal Olympics.

The air is thick and envelops me. It is so warm I lose my sense of where my body stops and the atmosphere begins. I feel expanded and I blend into the tapestry of the night. My book plays on.

Rounding a corner, I pause as Bear finds something interesting to sniff. A car rolls up slowly and I do not notice it is a police cruiser until the door opens and an officer hails me. I had the typical, "What th. . ." reaction internally. The officer spoke, "Are you alright?" What an open ended question. I am smart enough to know, however,you do not attempt humor when an officer of the law asks you a question at night in the middle of a street. So I suppress the urge to give a wise ass response.  "Sure," I answered. The officer explained that someone reported an old man walking in a red shirt with no shoes on - "But you are wearing an orange shirt and are wearing shoes." All I could say was, "I don't know," and shrugged.

"I guess your neighbors were concerned about you." He said. I agreed, he wished me a good night and drove off.

When random events occur they take some time to soak in. I got to thinking, old man? no shoes? Something does not add up, but I switched my book back on and headed the last few blocks back home.

Two blocks later, I saw him. A little old man - straight out of central casting. He was walking on the side of the street slowly with a walker. He was wearing a red shirt and was in stocking feet. I spoke to him and he returned my greeting. I contemplated tackling him and holding him there until the police arrived, but it was just me and I was not sure I could take him. Mystery solved. I figured he chose this time of night for some exercise. It hs been oppressively hot here and anyone with brains would avoid exercising in it - especially an older gentlemen like this man was.

I saw a number of people on my walk. In about a mile and a half loop I probably saw 5 or 6 groups of people walking dogs or just walking. That is a lot for that little loop. Most days, I do not pass anyone.

So that is my adventure. Bear never acknowledged the policeman. He was engrossed in something in the grass. His nose was planted like it was a magnet to the earth. This post is intended as a public service announcement for the residents of Covington. If you choose to walk at night, be forewarned - there are characters out there, but be assurred - our men in blue are there too.

Until the next time

John Strain