C.M. HalsteadC.M. Halstead

By C.M. Halstead

Grow As The World Shrinks

Can’t we all just get along? No seriously, can’t we? I mean, the clique phrase from the hippies of the 1960’s does have some value to it.
Is this version of survival of the fittest that we have been living under the guise of actually an outdated piece of evolution? How about the fear-based belief system the movie ‘The Croods’ does a great job providing us an example of showing this to us? The father figure’s fear based, survival driven, lifestyle almost ended the family. If it weren’t for a newer more adaptable type of thought system, they would’ve perished. When do we know when it is time to adapt a new way of being, a new way of thinking?
The world is smaller than it was 50 years ago, 100 years ago, an infinitely smaller than 200 years ago. (If you are into The Tripper Series, you may notice this background theme) In this shrinking of the world, due to the increase in technology, it is possible to share resources and information instantly. It also makes it unnecessary for the world sharing of resources. Sure, those in North America still have to trade for bananas if they want them. But due to technological advances we no longer “need” to go to the middle east for oil, although we still chose to do so!
We have other types of technology that can do the job of the one created 100 years ago, yet we still choose to use this outdated combustion engine due to a fear of change, and a failure to adapt. This inability to grow and change is the leading cause of failure in many of the words elite organizations, including Kodak, the City of Detroit, and any recruit in Marine Corps basic training. Kodak was so engrained in film that they lost the race when the rest of the world switched to digital technology for their day-to-day camera use, Detroit’s auto industry grew into a monster that became so influential they refused to change with the changing world and did themselves in, and any recruit in MCRD who does not adapt their thinking to a do all, take all, mission-first attitude will not grow to be a Marine.
So what is it as a species that prevents us from moving on, and continue living in past belief systems? Is the obesity of America due to the great depression, where food was so scarce that you “must eat everything on your plate because you don’t know where more food will come from”?
I think one of the few smartest adaptions us humans have had in the last 50 years or so was the “Cold War” as it is known in the USA. The USA and Russia had the thought, “Hey we can blow all of you up, and you can blow all of us up, so let us just do our own things and mostly leave each other alone.” This “Cold War” was one of the best uses of technology to date! Instead of killing off thousands of each other in a costly war, we threatened each other a lot and killed off a few spies here and there. Can you imagine if the two “super powers” went at it with all their money, resources, and human lives?
If you look at human history and either side of any conflict, you will see that humans have been killing each other off for survival and competition reasons for as long as we have existed. We have exploited each other and killed each other to survive.
Well, I think instead of just surviving, it is time for us to excel. How about you? Are you ready to step forward from an old way of thinking and into a new one?
Perhaps if we were to work together to build a sustainable country and maybe even world, we could slowly unlearn or adapt our minds to their basic forms, slowly turn the earliest adaptations of our brains (the part some call the reptilian brain) from fight/flight/freeze to excel/grow/adapt.
What? OMG? Did he say that! How dare he… if you are thinking this, which thought process are you using?
Are you ready to work together to build a sustainable country that utilizes all of its internal resources to grow your nation or do you believe you need something that only can be found elsewhere?
Are you prepared to use solar power in the southwest, and hydropower in the Northwest. Instead of having one way of producing energy, have the ones that are sustainable in each area being the primary producers! We are headed that way in some areas. Solar and wind farms are cropping up in the more progressive areas of the U.S.
In other areas of the U.S., they are actually outlawing progressive and sustainable technology! What part of the reptilian brain is active here? Why are they afraid to adapt to a new way of being and thinking and instead forcing others to live a destructive lifestyle. . .how does this make logical sense?
So lets pull this in a little closer to home, from a country level, to a personal level.
How do I as an individual switch my thought processes from survival mode (fight/flight/freeze) to a mode that will allow me to excel? How do I build a sustainable lifestyle for me on my level? Proper diet and exercise instead of sugar and couch? Hanging out with people that build me up instead of tear me down? Do what I love for a living, instead of what I do for money? All three are great examples of things that are self-destructive instead of self-sustaining. It is wired in our old brain to sabotage ourselves for some crazy reason. Just about every human I have ever met (including the one writing this) has some form of self-destructive behavior. It is up to me, the individual to look at myself with no-filter in order to step through this destructive behavior. Although first, I must step through the self-destructive part of denial. The part that keeps me down and doesn’t not allow me to adapt, overcome and excel. That which I truly and utterly deserve.
So it appears that I must first learn to get along with myself before I can learn to get along with others. A great question to ask yourself and others is: What is hurting in you that makes you need to hurt me? A question to be said to anyone who is exhibiting behavior to cause you harm, a thief, a bully, the person in the mirror. Ask the question, you will be surprised at the reaction, especially with the one you look at in the mirror.

By C.M. Halstead

Honor them through fun

There was a time I would get mad about people having fun on Memorial weekend. I resented the fact that they were out having fun! I mean it is the holiday to remember those that have died so that others may live. Why are they out having fun instead of standing in cemeteries crying? Don’t they know?

I think they don’t know, yet they do at the same time.

Let me explain my perspective. The worst thing I can do is stop living because others have died. Especially if others have died with the belief that they did it to protect my way of life. How dishonorable would it be if I “passed away” along with them?

Choosing to die along with those that have, does not serve either of us.

When I was a little boy of single digits in age, I saw the worse thing imaginable.

Travel: At the time I was not aware of how significant two road trips were to my life. The two road trips I am referring to are a move from Plattsburg NY to Anchorage Ak. A great distance. And a return trip four and half years later, Anchorage, AK to Palmyra, NY.

My entire family was contained in a giant dark blue station wagon. The kind that now looks like a land yacht or alien space vehicle. The only part of that entire journey I remember was waking up one day in the middle of a snow field; my mom had lost control of the giant station wagon due to the snowy road conditions and we ended up about 30 yards into a field full of several feet of snow. The vehicles being what they were back then (solid tank like entities), the only damage was to the exhaust system of the station wagon.

I remember my sister and I waiting in a running motorhome while the adults got the station wagon back on the road. In those days, especially in the great white north (snow, not the color of people you snots) many people would stop and help each other out! For some reason, my older brother was in another vehicle for warmth. I hope he was more successful that we were because I remember how frozen my feet felt!

The thing my sister most remembers about that incident is how I got car sick later from the exhaust fumes coming into the vehicle and puked on a sleeping bag. I bet you to this day, if the identical sleeping bags we traveled with were laid out in front of us, she would know which one I had thrown up on. Uncanny ability to identify she has.

Four and a half years later, we made the return journey from Alaska back across Canada to the lower 48, this time in a different station wagon, driven by a different dad.

You see while stationed in Alaska our family experienced what many families experience, tragedy. Lucky me, I got to watch it.

I know you may be thinking that something happened to my biological father, but that is not true. While my older brother and I were out riding near identical bicycles one day, my brother was hit by a contractor looking for a house number. The image of the bicycle and my brother rolling around the rear truck tire is an image I will never forget. It is also one of the oldest memories I have. The trauma having blocked just about ever memory before that.

The death of my seven and a half-year-old brother, my elder by a year and a half, affected me deeply. My parents too, in fact, it is what ended their marriage. I can only image what the loss of a son will do to someone, and I hope I never have to find out.

The death of my older brother, my protector, playmate, and co-conspirator is something  I did experience. I will also never forget how just minutes before I had negotiated with him to switch bikes with me. You see, our bikes, although near identical, were not. His had a cool BMX type seat, and mine was a cheesier banana seat. That was the only difference between the two.

I coveted his so much that I talked him out of it that day, and was smiling with joy and victory when I watched him ride in front of me, per usual, but riding my bike.

The next few memories are contained in a few images. I already told you the first traumatic image. The second is a still picture in my mind of me bursting into the bathroom after running home, and seeing mom and my sister playing with hair curlers, one of her running down the street in a bathrobe and curlers, and finally an image of the driver of the truck sitting on the curb bent over so far his hands were on his back…and that is it.

For a long time,  I died.

Some time ago, some 30 years after the incident, I finally came back to life.

Now, at 44, I am living the life I always wanted. I am doing my brother’s memory justice by living the life that feels congruent to me. The life of a creative, the entrepreneur, the life of someone who has freed themselves from the deaths of the past and is honoring the memories of those that have died by living my life to its fullest. Survivor’s guilt is a mother fucker.

Survivor’s guilt is a mother fucker; I’ve worked through it a few times now. Besides my brother’s death, I’ve moved on from the deaths of friends, fellow Marines, and strangers whose deaths I had the misfortune of witnessing. I have accepted the worst thing I can do is die along with all those people by living in guilt and shame. Not living is a disservice and is dishonoring to those that have passed. Think about it. If you have died and are checking in on an old friend, family member, military buddy, etc. Would you like to see them miserable, lost in a drug habit or deep in depression, or would you rather see them eating a second round of BBQ, playing catch with their son, and smiling?

Don’t wait to live. Live. Now.

I am surprised that this blog ended up being about my brother, not the military personnel I knew that died, or about veteran friends of mine that also deal with survivors guilt. (Or something along those lines.)

Regardless, here’s to an awesome Memorial Weekend full of BBQ’s, fun, and living.

It is worth repeating:

Don’t wait to live. Live. Now.

By C.M. Halstead

Why question abundance?

A while back, on a wintery weekend afternoon, a  desire for a jeep ride managed to bring me out of my nest and into Dirty Girl (aka the #jeep) for a country drive, in the blowing and still falling snow.

There is nothing like the contrast of red rocks and white snow, to entice me out of my warm nest and into the great outdoors. To be honest, I enjoy stormy weather days outside more than 80 and sunny days. There is nothing more boring weather-wise, than 80 and sunny. Whilst the ever changing views and elements of a blustery winter day, bring out the desire to hike or ride around in my Jeep, while smoking a cigar.

On this day the jeep (aka #dirtygirl) and the cigar win the competition.

As I did back then, I swung through a fast food restaurant to prepare sustenance for the drive. Pulling through the drive-thru, I notice they have a two for two dollar special on their name to fame, the big-mac. “Cool.” I think to myself, “I can get one at half price!”

“Pulling up to the depressing black drive-thru order box, I am greeted cheerfully, “Good afternoon, what can I make for you today?”

“I see you have a two for two dollar special on the big-mac.”

“Yes we do, would you like us to make you two big-macs today?”

“No, actually I only want one. Can I still get a deal?”

“No, if you order one, I will have to charge you full price, and that will be more than buying two for two.” the cheerful voice coming from the big plastic box says.

“For REALS? If I buy one, I have to pay full price! Can I pay for two and just take one?”

“No sir.” the not as cheery voice coming from the black box says, “You have to take both.”

 

Long pause by me, while I express the voices in my head, but keep them in my head.

 

“I guess, I’ll take two then.” I say out loud.

“Great. Thank you sir. Would you like anything else?”

“Yes,  a small diet coke and medium french fries please.”

Voice from the box, “Would you like a large drink, they are all the same price.”

“…sure why not.” conversation saving answer.

 

Pulling around, I think to myself, “There has got to be a reason; are they really that corporate, that they don’t allow their people to think? Or, perhaps it is an inventory thing. They need to sell product before it goes bad, and its cheaper to sell it at a loss, than to dispose of it or… “Here you go sir, enjoy. Thank you.” The voice now having a face, a twenty-something with dedication without knowledge as to why.

“Thank you; you too.” Pulling away, before turning out onto the road, again I ponder what I am going to do with the extra big-mac. I mean, I could probably eat two, but even I didn’t need to ingest that many calories while merely driving around sifting in the views.

Before I know it, the fries, one big-mac and most of the giant diet coke even, are gone. Easing my way through the forest and countryside, I admire the snow glazed wind, and the crisp February air, the crunch under my tires intermixing with the sounds of slush in the wettest spots. The sandstone takes on an illustrious orange hue when the shine shines bright, melting the snow recently attached to it. I come to another crunchy area as a motion is caught in my periphery to the right.

A coyote with legs minus one the usual amount, comes a trotting from my right, heading towards the road ahead of me. He scopes about the drifting snow, hoping for something, casting his trained eye across the horizon. Looking for food more than shelter, perhaps.

I think to myself, “How could I not..?”

Slipping Dirty Girl into neutral, I apply the brake and open her door. Grabbing the still warm, all beef patties, special sauce, extra cheese, lettuce, pickles, on a sesame seed bun while hopping out of the jeep, walking firmly, my head slightly down as to come across non-threatening, I walk out in front of dirty girl.

As I bend down, I open the box. Placing it on the glazed snow, I glance up at the coyote. The coyote has stopped moving and is staring at me, head still at scanning level.

I backpedal my way back and sideways into Dirty Girl, closing the door gently I sit and watch the three legged coyote watch me.

Nothing else exists, the snow blows through without notice, the earth turns, but who notices, clouds are moving and life is continuing for all else, in that moment he looks at me. Then moves forward with purpose, his nose a detecting whatever scents it can pick up in the perpendicular wind.  The coyote reaches the wax coated, pliable, two millimeter thick box. The container flaps its top lid, attracting the coyote to the free meal inside.

His eyes move from the contents to watch me inside my metal shell; snatching the prize, he gulps twice and it is gone.

 

Perhaps I could have saved him some fries.

By C.M. Halstead

The Emotions of Symbols

There is lots of talk in the media and on Facebook about flags and other symbols. Symbols are a powerful thing, I admit I have a few I am passionate about. The tough part to accept by me is, why demean and devalue a use of a symbol or object because of ONE use of it?

The symbol at the top of this blog post is a symbol that has been utilized since the Neolithic period in human history. It can be found in 16 plus cultures. In 2015, the symbol is generally referred to by a word that actually means luck or prosperity in its sanskrit origins.

Indigenous American tribes like the Hopi, Navajo and many others utilize a form of the symbol. To the Hopi it represents the wandering Hopi Clan, to the Navajo it is a representative symbol for something used in healing rituals. The symbol has also been found in archeological excavations in the Ohio & Mississippi river valleys as well.

Hinduism and Buddhism have it as a sacred symbol also. In Buddhism it is a sacred symbol of eternity, and in Hinduism it is used in sacred rituals and as a good luck charm.

Yet, with almost every continent on the planet having a culture that believes the symbol is a good thing; we still focus on the one culture in history that used it as a symbol of power and hatred.

The other cultures did or still utilize the symbol as one for good, prosperity, protection…the list goes on. How many of you have learned about those cultures in publications or on TV?

Did the Germanic culture of that time period do horrific things? Absolutely! Hard to argue with if you have your blinders off, and if you are open to logic. Even the German education system teaches this. No denial there.

What is symbolic to me, is that we use these images and symbols as a way to continue living the trials of the past. Those that have been wronged, cry foul when the image reminds them of the past wronging, thus continuing the cycle and preventing those living now, from moving on from the wrongs of the past.

Living in the past is a form of victimhood. Perpetuating what has happened as apposed to moving on and living the life you desire. It is a crutch to use in order to blame others for where I am in my life. They did me wrong, it is your fault, you owe me. Or, they did my ancestors wrong, it is their fault. You owe me.

It would be like me suing the British government for acts of hatred and oppression they performed on my Scottish and Irish Ancestors. Blaming them for me not being able to. . .whatever it is I am telling myself I can’t do because of what they did!

Asking current generations to pay for acts of the past, is continuing the wrong. A great example: reverse discrimination or reverse racism.

The term reverse racism is a misnomer, if you go to dictionary.com (or other word look-ups), you will not find a definition for it. One must go to popular opinion sites to gain somewhat of a formal definition of the term, wikipedia for instance.   I would define it as making a future generation pay for the mistakes of their ancestors; I would hazard a guess (not really a guess) that all people, from all walks of life, regardless of race or creed, or place of origin, have ancestors that have been wronged and have caused wrong, either by their own culture or other cultures!

Life is not black and white at all, history is written as so, by the victor.

Symbolism is not black and white either, the same symbols mean different things to different people. Just ask anyone who runs a four way stop sign, because no one else is there at the same time as they are. To them it is a stop if another car is there, a slowdown if there is not another car at the intersection at the very same time.

Ok, that is a vent and yet, still an example.

Where was I?

Symbols can be projections for honor, pride and freedom or oppression, depending on the shoes you are standing in. What is important to me, is that we don’t forget that the good comes with the bad. One horrific cultures use of a symbol, does not mean the other uses don’t exist.

Why does the bad outweigh the good? Why is it only one version is allowed? If this is going to be true, lets focus on the blessing.

The good use of the symbol above, for there are 16 plus cultures that use it for good, and only one that used it for bad. Screw those sods, lets move on. Live in the present, heal the past and then. . .maybe we will allow ourselves to pursue dreams and be happy.

Not related you say! Stay tuned, more to come on that topic.

Grow As The World Shrinks
Honor them through fun
Why question abundance?
The Emotions of Symbols