Category Archives: self-help

Goodbyes 10/22/16

 

When I was four

They took off Bozo

For the funeral of JFK.

I remember a small boy

Saying goodbye to his father,

A salute, by his mother’s side.

 

When I was six,

I was left with my mother’s friend

As my parents attended the funeral

Of a small boy killed by a handgun.

Francis took me to the beach

And from a distance, I saw myself

Playing alone in the sparkling water.

 

Robert and Martin

Left me a few years later.

My mother crying softly

While watching the news.

The good die young

But so the bad,

Death doesn’t care

He welcomes all.

 

My best friend Solomon

Moved away

No reason was given

That a child could understand.

But watching Batman was no longer fun,

And Major Matt Mason

Was forgotten on the bookshelf.

 

In high school, my best friend

Was killed by a hit and run

On a lonely country road,

All by himself,

Lying on the cold asphalt,

Staring up at a beautiful night’s sky.

I rode to the funeral with his girlfriend,

My secret crush.

She rested her troubled head on my shoulder

But we never really talked again.

Two losses from one death.

I reminded her of him too much

To be around.

 

Death is always here,

Waiting to appear at some inconvenient time.

Faith is only a way to make life bearable,

A lie we force ourselves to believe

So we can get out of bed.

 

As I grew up

People left me in other ways.

Broken relationships and broken hearts

Scattered along life’s bumpy road.

Holding on to another

In a desperate effort to feel safe

To feel love

To feel forever.

 

The results are the same

Sitting alone hoping my broken heart will mend,

So that one day, I’ll find my happily ever after

One day my princess will come.

 

Then suddenly I just stopped,

Believing in forever.

No sudden deaths,

No abrupt departures,

Only the truth of life

That we are mortal

And there is only now.

 

So find someone to love

And accept that nothing is forever.

But moments can be filled with love, and hope, and joy,

As well as separation’s sorrow.

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Why Winter?

Many people look at the word winter and think of darkness, isolation, loneliness, death, despair.

Shakespeare, in Richard III used it in a different way.  “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York.”  What does he mean?  The time of unhappiness is almost at its end.

That points to hope.  Soon it will be spring and the earth will renew itself once again.  We are still in the dark times but the light at the end of the tunnel is clear.

And we are in dark times.  There is no doubt about that.  We have accomplished many things but there are many more things to accomplish.  We can say that about our world and we can say that about ourselves.  Winter is a sign of hope when all you feel darkness.

A.F. is also significant.  If you search for A.F. Winter on the internet, you are bombarded by a major retailer’s winter collection.  You are overwhelmed with commercialism, materialism, and greed. The truths that I write are lost in the rush for the newest fashion trends.  But if you look closer, and dig deeper, you might find something meaningful.  But that is really up to you.

Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem –

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

So the name signifies hope on your own individual road, although the path might be obscured right now.  So walk with me a while with the realization that one day, you will have to say goodbye find your own way.

Finally if you put the A.F. after winter, it means I’m winter to the extreme.


Holidays

There are many ways of celebrating this holiday season

New Year’s ball dropping, campfire making s’mores, Christmas caroling

All of them are better with family and friends

Sometime we take for granted the gifts we have

And I’m not talking about the ones under the tree

But what of those people who have no family, no friends to share this spirit of joy with?

 

Our soldiers on foreign lands

The elderly in nursing homes

The homeless on the street

What does the holidays mean to them?

Standing outside in the cold looking at the logs burning in the fireplace

What can we do too bring love into another’s heart?

 

So before that meal

Before that football game

Before opening your gifts

 

Give thanks

Because there is little difference between you and them

Think

About those in need,

Do something

For others who are hurting or in pain.

 

 

 


Strange Coincidence

Today on the news, there was a story about a baby that was found abandoned in a church’s nativity scene.

The exact same thing happened in a book that I finished writing last year.

I was sending it out to publishers.

I was going to self-publish it January 1, 2016 if I had no interest.

But after finding out about this real life event, I hit the publish button.

A Walk in the Valley is now available for sale.

Here is the info:

A Walk in the Valley

Authored by A. F. Winter

List Price: $12.99

6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm) Black & White on White paper 220 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1490902869 (CreateSpace-Assigned) ISBN-10: 1490902864 BISAC: Fiction / Action & Adventure

A Walk in the Valley is one man’s journey to self discovery. John B. has been living on the streets for several years after a personal tragedy destroyed his idyllic life. At first he believes that the visions he sees are hallucinations brought about by alcohol but he soon realizes they are spirits of the dead. They will not give him peace until he helps them. This novel is part horror, part detective, and part spiritual awakening.

CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/4347912


“The instant you speak about a thing you miss the mark.” Anonymous

Shut-up.  It is not necessary to talk as much as we do.  It is not necessary to explain your actions.  Why explain yourself?  It is almost as if the only way most of us can substantiate our lives is if we talk ourselves into existence.  Our actions truly speak louder than our words.  If someone doesn’t understand you through your behavior, he won’t understand you by your words.

 

This says something very important to us about our acting.  If we have to explain our character to someone before that person understands him, then we are not doing a good job.  Your character’s actions should speak for themselves.  If you are off track you should know it by your explanations.

 

I have also found that whenever I talk about a project in the midst of the project, it dissipates.  It is never as strong as if I had just presented the finished product.

 

Let me give you an example.  You tell someone a wonderful idea.  She will tell you all the reasons why it won’t, can’t, shouldn’t happen.  You start to doubt yourself and soon you believe that it probably wasn’t that great an idea to begin with.

 

I say all ideas are equally good but they can become brilliant when accomplished.

 

No one sees life like you do.  To give them an idea which has not been fully thought through is courting disaster.  It is much easier to criticize than to applaud and most people will take the easiest path.  Give the person a complete performance and then go on your way without explanations.  Let them decide by and for themselves if it was meaningful.


Finding the Truth

“If you cannot find the truth right where you are,

where else do you expect to find it?”  Dogen

 

A similar Zen expression goes “The only Zen you will find at the mountaintop is the Zen you bring there.” Zen and acting are both an exploration of self.  You do not have to look beyond the skin you inhabit to find everything you are looking for.  Understanding comes from within you and so you must be the subject of every character investigation.

 

Every character, no matter how different from yourself, is easy to find. Just hold a mirror up to yourself.

 

Imaging – Write down a character description for three very different characters.  Commit these descriptions to memory.  Stand in front of a mirror and stare into your own eyes.  Start to describe the first character.  Try to see in your own eyes the essence of that character.  Look only at your eyes.  Describe the character out loud in the first person, using phrases like, “I am an alcoholic.”  Try to see him in your eyes.  Keep repeating the description until you feel that person.  Say another description.  Widen your vision to include your whole face.  See that character in your face and then your body.  When you feel one with the first character, close your eyes and let that character go.  When you open your eyes again, see yourself.  If you feel up for it, move on to the second character and then the third.

 

After completing this exercise, you will see that any character can be created by looking within.  That is where you should begin every characterization.


The Plain Truth

“If you want to get the plain truth,

Be not concerned with right and wrong.

The conflict between right and wrong

Is the sickness of the mind.”  The Hsin-hsin Ming

 

Don’t make value judgments in relation to the characters you portray.  Every character is just a person.  Do not attach good and evil.  That way of thinking can only lead you astray in your characterizations.  Your character is just a person with a strong agenda and tries to pursue what he feels is right in the best way possible.  We have to try to understand the character.  We have to fall in love with the character.  But the love must be a clear headed love.  We must understand him for his strengths and weaknesses.  Once we understand him, we can attempt to step into his shoes.

 

I always use the example of having to portray George Washington.  Would you just try to imitate the famous painting “Crossing the Potomac?”  How could you? He was a real person like you or me and had many flaws.  George Washington was not always the father of our country.  He had a childhood that influenced him greatly.  He probably had disagreements about petty things with friends and relatives.  Unbelievably, he ate, drank, slept, went to the bathroom, and fornicated pretty much the same way we do those things.  To realistically portray him, we have to study the good and the bad and root him in ourselves.  Anything less would result in a caricature.

 

The point of this is, do not make value judgments.  Make an honest in-depth exploration of your character.  Good and evil change with each passing day.