people

365 Challenge: Day 151 – Vocal

Posted on Updated on

Vocal: expressing opinions or feelings freely or loudly

ocal.png

Yesterday was quite a day, leaving me little time to draft the 365 Daily Challenge post for today. Though I previously preferred drafting the posts early each morning, after consuming at least two cups of coffee, I’ve now become more comfortable writing them late afternoon in preparation for release the upcoming day. Yesterday I was not able to accomplish my goal. I had a prolific writing day for Father Figure, pushing me to a few extreme moments of hair-pulling crazies and watery eyes that refused to listen. Suddenly, fear permeated throughout my weakened body, when I looked up to see it was 4:30 pm. I’ve not written the post. I’ve not read anyone else’s blog. I’ve ignored social media. And I had to leave my apartment by 5:45 for pre-scheduled plans. I had 75 minutes to accomplish everything, which was no small feat. Curious how I did? Oh… you’re not gonna like the answer.

First, I changed into gym clothes. I can’t go to the gym without those, now can I? OK, task one complete. Then Ryder looked at me with the “I need to go outside” expression. Fine… handled that. Distracted by trying to start the draft of this post. Couldn’t focus. Picked out my clothes for the event. Ugh, @#@$@$ it’s hot out. I have to wear pants and a shirt. I don’t like shirts. I hate pants even more. “Why must I be punished by wearing clothes?” I ask myself. Someone answered me via text, reminding me they were a necessary evil so that I am not locked up in prison for streaking the neighborhood. So, I looked at the clock… needless to say, 30 minutes had passed before I was actually able to leave for the gym (given the tantrum I threw over pants in my closet choosing the lightest possible fabric and loosest-fitting yet smallest shirt possible), but that wasn’t enough time. So nothing got done. Just a lot of back and forth trying to juggle way too many balls in the air, lacking clear priorities. Definite new number one task for later today: Prioritize everything you need to do.

So… shower, change, head off to dinner. It’s #@$#@$@# hot in the city in August. I was a sweaty mess by the time I arrived in midtown, across from Times Square, at the restaurant we all agreed to have dinner at. Ah, tourists… have you ever wondered what goes through people’s minds when they look down at their phones, stare up at digital signs, point at everything that means nothing because they can and they’re there, but it’s something they could do anywhere, yet in NYC, it seems cool, and you’ll never see it again, but in truth… it’s just another human in a weird costume having a good day because that’s what you do when you live in NYC so that you can get the attention of tourists and hopefully make a few bucks? (I haven’t done that – @#$@@##@$).

Five people standing too far apart yet too close together to pass by them, their arms linked across the entire sidewalk with a full crowd in front of stores containing people entering and exiting, no one paying attention. Are people just truly not aware of their surroundings? I gave a few looks of death, as I’m pretty good at mastering that in-between look of ‘I will shoot daggers at you in the hopes I’m letting you know that you are completely screwing up my timing and if you don’t get out of my way way…’ until they realize it and I can then dial it down to a ‘Oh, thanks so much for letting me pass by, have a wonderful day,’ unless they don’t get it and then I elevate said look to ‘You’ve got 3 seconds to get your #$@$# out of my path and use your #$#@$#@ brain to realize that you are so rude and unaware of the traffic problems you are causing right now so move the #$#@$#@$@ away right now.’

At that point, one of two things generally happens: (1) they move or (2) I move. Because I’m the kinda guy who may think all those things, yet I also know tourists make or break a town, and while NYC is in no shortage, I don’t want to impede someone else’s happiness the way they’ve chosen to momentarily impede mine. Ah… arrive at dinner. I was the third of five of us — even two minutes early! The bartender asks me what I want to drink. I search the menu about ready to pick a lovely cocktail to tone down my little mental tantrum when someone give me that look, surreptitiously and silently reminding me: ‘You committed to not drinking for 21 days until the beach weekend, right?’ #$#@$#@$#@ (Yes, I’m doing a lot of that today). On a different note, seltzer has such amazing qualities, between the flavors and the bubbles, it’s just…

Dinner was great. We rushed out at 7:30 and made it to the the theatre. As we turn the corner, one friend says “These people are just standing everywhere blocking my path. Get the @#$#$# out of the way. Oh, I hope that’s not the line to Hello, Dolly.”

  • Point 1: I wasn’t the only person thinking that! Someone else relieved my shift and handled the tantrum business.
  • Point 2: It was the line to get tickets which we had to pick up at Will Call. I counted about half way down it as we walked to the door. 289 people wrapped around the block.
  • Point 3: I was going to Hello Dolly with Bette Midler!
  • Point 4: W somehow got a nice, friendly security guard to let us go thru the side entrance and we suddenly were at our row within 5 minutes. The others had drinks. I did not. #@$@#$@#
  • Point 5: Please do not be angry with us… Bette called and needed us in our seats. Couldn’t help it.

So, I’m sitting in my seat, and it’s about five rows back, so amazing… and… well, now that I think about it, this post has already gotten quite along. And the word of the day is vocal. I can’t remember if I meant vocal as in not sharing the thoughts in my head, or vocal as in screaming about them to anyone who will listen. And if I keep them in my head, does that mean I am not vocal? Or was the point to talk about the vocals at Hello, Dolly. Unfortunately, we’ve run out of time today with this post, as my priorities dictate it’s time to move on to writing the next Father Figure chapter. I’ll be back again tomorrow where it might be time to dish about the show last night. Dolly will have to wait 24 hours.

YES, YES I AM

 

Love,

#$@$#@$%@# JERK @#$@@#$@# RUDE  #$@@$#@$@# (AKA Insensitive Me)

 

Aside: While all this was true, I hope you know I’m just being humorous today… and I promise to talk about the Broadway show in tomorrow’s post… I just have to be vocal about that!

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Linda @ Maine Paper Pusher. Linda and I met online about two months ago through another fun blogger, and I feel like everyone already knows this wonderful woman, so why would I need to include her in my Recommended Bloggers… right? But on the off chance you don’t know her, you should be clicking the link above to peruse her site and then click the follow button on hers. Start with the post from earlier this week where she tells us how she is like a porcupine. Yes, a porcupine. So on point! Linda is always an extremely funny poster and comment writer — I never know what to expect but it always provides an undeniably interesting and funny perspective that will make you tilt your head and say “what is she talking about… oh, wait… that’s totally true!” We’ve had some good banter going back and forth, all starting when I tagged her on an award or some other post. It was a doozy of a tag that would cause her hours to decide on what content, so she let me have it — in a totally hysterical way. It was the start of a great online friendship which makes me smile each day. I read all her posts and try to keep up with the wit, though I usually fail miserably. If you’d like to learn more about her but not from me (maybe you don’t even like me!), check out what is on the site’s About Me (AKA Life is Good in Cornville) section:
    • “I wear many hats: dog mom, silly auntie, baffling wife.  I’ve been “retired” for 3 years following a diagnosis of epilepsy that continues to stump the docs.  Mostly, I just hang out in our old farmhouse in Cornville, Maine.   Our house is in the country so I get to watch deer and wild turkeys in my back yard.  Bald eagles fly overhead and the view from my living room is a horse pasture.  Life is good in Cornville, Maine. On the inside, the house is a circus.  I have two Great Danes, two cats, a collection of fish, and my ever-suffering husband Bill.  Yup, life is good in Cornville.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Advertisements

365 Challenge: Day 137 – Character

Posted on Updated on

Character: (a) the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, or (b) a person in a novel, play, or movie

character

Characters are on my mind today. In many different ways. The characters on my screen at some point changed to a whole bunch of symbols. I didn’t do anything to cause it. They just up and converted themselves. I gave the laptop screen my best sideways glance, calmly explaining that I was not taught how to read hieroglyphics. I casually mentioned if this was a message from the Writing Gods to consider a different language or story, my response would be to remind them I could close this file and start an entirely new novel, one in which they did not exist. I stepped away to pour a glass of seltzer, hoping it was just a momentary glitch. When I returned, all was back to normal. Apparently, when I speak, computers jump. I also realized I had been leaning on the touchscreen monitor when trying to adjust its angle, somehow temporarily changing the font to “MT Extra.” Word of Caution: Unless you are Robert Langdon, I wouldn’t suggest doing this to yourself.

That’s fine. I can take a practical joke. On to the writing. Have you ever argued with one of your characters? (if you’re a writer, that is… because if you’re not, I suspect you don’t have characters… but I wouldn’t know for sure as that’s what I have all the time… these characters in my head who like to start fights with me). Today was all about nicknames. I have a thing for them. I’ve been given nicknames all my life. It gets to the point where everyone now calls me something different and I just have to learn to deal with it. So I think it’s OK to have nicknames. But not everyone else does. For instance… my main character suddenly has three different nicknames. It could confuse people. Or make it easier to know who’s talking without any dialogue tags. Eh, I won’t bore you non-writers. It should be sufficient to say, we are all different characters, depending on who we happen to be socializing with at the time. And having a nickname that is different from friend to friend seems like a logical thing to me. I don’t care what my character thinks about this decision. I write. They listen. If there’s a problem, call Thursday Next to help. {Aside: She’s a literary character who fixes problems with book plots and characters in a murder mystery series by Jasper Fforde.}

Some people bring out the sultry side in me. Yes, there is one. I usually project a vanilla and plain personality, so as not to cause an uproar on the blog, but there’s more to me than just the blogger you all know. I actually can be flirtatious, seductive, sexy, alluring… fill in whatever word works for you. But then again, my characters also need these qualities, so I often need to blur the line between them and me. I’ve currently got two people on a train who suddenly get jostled together, and I need to describe the intimacy growing between them. Where do I start? Experience. But as I’m writing it, I think… wait, now that’s something I would do. Would “x” do that? Hmm… Wait, would I really do that? Fifteen minute reflection on how I’d behave on a train in public under those conditions. Anyways, I find a way to write the scene, return to edit it, then put it down for a few hours. When I re-read it, something kept telling me it was the wrong two characters for that scene… that’s fine, I’m amenable to change. I can cut/paste to a future chapter and write something for the two on the train who won’t leave me alone. Characters. Can’t live with them and can’t live without them, huh?

We all have friends like that. People who are characters, pushing and pulling us in many directions until we just don’t know what to make of them. That’s how I feel about describing myself sometimes. I’m different depending on who I’m with. I feed off the energy between us and find a way to make what exists in our little world at that moment something special. I have a friend who is absolutely hilarious when it comes to all the efforts he will go to when trying to get out of a new relationship. I’m talking after two or three dates, nothing serious. Rather than tell someone he is no longer interested, he ends it a few different ways. He will just stop responding to any texts or calls. He tells them he’s moving to North Carolina. He tells them he is entering the priesthood. But none of them are jokes. He makes it seem like it’s all serious. He’s also the same friend who leaves parties, bars or dinners without saying goodbye. He is there talking one second, says he needs to use the bathroom or is going to talk to someone else, then he sneaks out. While these are two things he does that could showcase a negative quality, he’s so amusing and fun, you always just look the other way. He makes it a fun experience, and for that, I’d call him a character.

Character can also be that moral stance you take or image you project… usually said by someone wiser… “You’ve got a lot of character.” {Aside: Yeah, I know, tell me about it. Too many to handle.} But what makes up that sense of having good character. Honor? Humility? Down-to-earth? Strong? Honest? Old-Soul? I’ve got a few of those under my belt, but I wouldn’t really consider myself as someone with strong character. Not in a negative way, but I think the word describes someone who’s had a harder life, somebody closer to the Earth… gets his/her hands dirty every day, builds things, teaches moral lessons. Not sure that’s me. I’m more the partially funny / partially nutty one who tries to find hidden meanings in things while stirring up a little bit of fun trouble.

So where am I ending up here… a few questions I’m pondering as I pick up new books, shuffle some people around and draft my own chapters:

  • Will you describe your definition of a strong character in a book?
  • What qualities make up an individual with solid character?
  • How many different characters (unique people) do you have in your life?
  • Who’s your all-time favorite character in either a book, show, movie, cartoon, etc.?
  • Have you ever tried to read hieroglyphics (AKA, this rather peculiar post)?

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Avonna @ Avonna Loves Genres. As today’s post is all about characters, the connection is Avonna’s love of literature, books, genres and characters. We met five months ago on Goodreads, where we connect on tons of books with each other all the time. We have similar reading interests, as well as some differences, too. But her site is full of so many different reviews — always very detailed and analytical. I’ve picked up a few new books from her and hope I’ve shared a few good ones with her. If you love books, and you read different genres, and like reading reviews, then this is a good site for you. If you don’t believe me, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “I am an avid reader, reviewer and genre book lover! This site is for reviews, discussions and articles on genre books. We are all lovers of great stories, but like all readers, we have differing tastes and opinions even on the same book. That is what makes reading and reviewing interesting. I would love for you to comment on the various books reviewed and feature blogs. I will not publish a book review I would rate less than 3 stars. I hope everyone enjoys my site and reviews!”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Of Mice and Men

Posted on Updated on

Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to Of Mice and Men, a novel written in 1937 by John Steinbeck. What a heartbreaking book… many students in American high schools read this one around 9th or 10th grade, and it provokes such sensitive topics to be discussed. A quick summary: Lenny and George are drifters looking for work. Lenny is a little slow and has a few disabilities that weren’t addressed when he was younger, likely due to time time period (early 20th century) when they had ability to ignore these types of illnesses. Unfortunately, it has disastrous consequences for him and for George. Men can be cruel. So can be women. Lenny tends to hold on to things a little too tightly when he’s scared. He’s lost a few pets and things he loved, as a result. One day, a woman pushes him a little too far, more than he’s capable of understanding, and he reacts in fear. George must find a way to cover it up, and his only recourse is to take his own disastrous actions. No spoilers here, but you probably get the drift already. No matter if you know the end, you still need to read the story to see how people treat one another because they are different or they aren’t perceptive enough to understand their own consequences.

This books helps people understand what happens when you lose control. It helps you figure out what you might need to do to protect someone. And it helps show who’s (wo)man enough to stand up for others or to sit back and watch bad things happen. It’s charged and full of emotion and fear. I struggled a little with some of the secondary characters and the setting, no my favorite. If it were set in a bit more modern times, I might have given this one a 5. But it’s absolutely worth reading whenever you have a chance to find a quiet corner and be ready for a bit of a cry and a flood of questions, answers and thoughts.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: The Zoo Story

Posted on Updated on

The Zoo Story
The Zoo Story by Edward Albee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to The Zoo Story, written in 1959 by Edward Albee. If you haven’t read this story, you’ve missed out on something intense and truly spellbinding. It’s a classic American play staged on Broadway (and other places), but so few have probably read it these days. The story is amazing and not what what anyone would expect from the title, of even in general. Two men sit on a bench in Central Park. Uppity business man taking a break from his day. A man approaches, appears a bit like a vagabond. He wants to talk. The business man wants to ignore him. The vagabond asks useless and painful questions. The business man wants to walk away, but the vagabond tickles him. A fight ensues. Something bad happens. One man runs away. The other reflects on what he’s learned.

What a commentary on society. Forget age, gender, race or class. It’s a story about how different personalities handle conflict or friendship. Do you get close or stay distant? Do you listen or talk? Do you ignore or immerse? And when something bad happens, what kind of character do you have? Do you stay or go? Do you deny or admit? All the choices we make in life. Wrapped up into a little old play so many of us haven’t actually read or seen.

So what are you waiting for? Sure, it’s not a suspense novel (which I love). It’s a not a page-turning thriller (which I love). But the dialog is on point. And it should be read. So go now.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 95 – Challenged

Posted on Updated on

Challenged: impaired or lacking a specific request

{Aside: That’s the worst definition I’ve found since looking words up for my post.)

chall.jpg

Ashley: “I’d rather just stay in bed today and reflect on where my life is. That cool?”

Dylan: “I’ve gotta shower and head to work. You should probably get up and do something, right?”

<<Ashley does a giant eye roll while Dylan slips off the bed and walks toward the bathroom. >>

Ashley: “I am doing something. Enjoying my life. What’s wrong with just watching TV, reading and blogging?”

Dylan: “Nothing. But is that what you want to do everyday?”

Ashley: “Maybe. Problem?”

Dylan: “Not at all. But how do YOU feel about it?”

<<Dylan turns on the shower while in the bathroom. Ashley turns over in the bed, face smooshed into the pillow. >>

Ashley: “Blah Blah Blah.”

Dylan: “What was that?”

<<Dylan steps out and looks at Ashley with a set of concerned eyes. Ashley’s head lifts from the pillow with a smirk. >>

Ashley: “I said it feels great.”

Dylan: “Well then why did you ask me if it was okay?”

Ashley: “Because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing anymore.”

Dylan: “You need some help. Maybe I should stay home today and get you out of here for a few hours.”

Ashley: “Um… no. I’m fine. You go to work. I’ll just lay here until I figure it all out.”

<<Approximately nine (9) hours later, Dylan arrives home. Ashley’s now on the couch. >>

Dylan: “I see you’ve made some progress today. How’s it feel?”

Ashley: “Didn’t we talk about our feelings already this morning?”

Dylan: “Yes. But since you’ve moved your ass off the bed and on to the couch, I thought maybe there’d been a change at some point today.”

Ashley: “Hilarious. Maybe you need to go back to work again.”

Dylan: “Ah, yes… I see your feelings haven’t really changed.”

<<Ashley throws a pillow at Dylan. Dylan catches it and smiles. >>

Ashley: “Nope. Still the same as when you left.”

Dylan: “There’s always tomorrow.”

Ashley: “You mean it’s still the same day?”

<<Ashley drops to couch, face smooshed into a different pillow. Dylan nods and walks away. >>

 

QUESTION ON YOUR MIND

Jay, have you lost your mind today? This is supposed to be the 365 Daily Challenge. What did I just read, and are you having a breakdown?

 

 

RESPONSE

Nope, I still have the same half a brain I had during yesterday’s 365 Daily Challenge. Just wanted to spice it up a little. I didn’t want to bore everyone and thought a little format change might do us some good. A few explanations:

  1. Ashley and Dylan are not me and my partner.
  2. We did not have this conversation today. Honestly.
  3. Ashley and Dylan could be two men, two women, one of each or any combination.
  4. We’ve all had these same thoughts before. Seriously.
  5. What’s the first word you felt after reading that dialogue?

 

For me, after re-reading what I wrote, I thought: “Truth.”

Then I sat back and thought some more. And it came to me. I think that’s the dialogue going on inside my own head every morning when I wake up. I can see the two people bantering away, oblivious to the others rattling around in there who are tasked with keeping my body running. For example:

  • Miss Scarlet ensures the blood is circulating while I’m sitting on my ass.
  • Colonel Mustard is thinking about what to eat or cook. Important stuff.
  • Mrs. Peacock is literally making bird noises to keep Ryder (the dog) entertained.
  • Mrs. White is keeping my skin nice and pasty.
  • Professor Plum is researching how to escape. He can’t stand to be around the others.
  • Mr. Green is dealing with all that digestion and growth. Someone’s gotta work.

 

Lesson

I have a few too many ideas in my head about what I should be doing right now. And after 95 days of trying to figure it out, I’m not all that much further; however, I feel like this is something I want to keep doing… minus that on-going conversation in my head.

 

So now I’m revising my own word to be: “Challenged.”

And that’s why this is appropriate for today’s 365 Daily Post.

<<Go ahead and laugh. A little humor can help this situation! >>

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

365 Challenge: Day 89 – Humble

Posted on Updated on

Humble: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance

humility.jpg

In my apartment, there are 2. In my building, surely hundreds. On my block, thousands. In my neighborhood, perhaps one hundred thousand. In my city, a few million. In my state, probably twenty million. In my country, over three hundred million. On my continent, nearly six hundred million. And on my planet, there must be seven billion. People. I am 1 person. There will always be a reason to be humble.

The word humble has two parts to it, at least from my viewpoint. There is how you feel about yourself and how you feel about others. Both are separate and distinct, yet they are very connected in how you interpret this powerful characteristic. Let’s start with a focus on others.

  • People often say they feel humbled by witnessing another’s selfless actions
  • Seeing someone do or share something beautiful without any expectation in return is a humbling experience
  • Understanding the achievements of those with little demonstrates humility at its core

And when it comes to your own humility:

  • Recognition of the value you bring without overselling or highlighting it to others
  • Stepping aside for others when you feel they’re more deserving
  • Content with the simplicity of what life offers without a reliance on always reaching for more

Those are the things that come to mind when I think of my definition of someone who is humble. To me, a humble person doesn’t ever think about whether they have true humility. It’s a natural essence that materializes about them, not unlike an effervescence or glow from something that shines or bubbles. Innate. Inherent. Honest.

A quick trip through the land of InterWebs brings an article I found interesting. You can see it via the link, but I’ve listed just below the seven qualities that the humble exude.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/17/benefits-of-humility_n_5578881.html

  • Focus their energy on others
  • Conscientious
  • Moral compass guides decision-making
  • See happiness as a journey
  • Excel as leaders
  • Know good things lie ahead and are okay waiting for them
  • Have strong relationships

Rather than dissect each one to determine if I am humble, I’m going on instinct with this one. I am not nearly as humble a person as I should be. I certainly exhibit some of these qualities, a few to a lesser extent that the others; however, a humble (wo)man should not ask how to be more humble. It should just happen as though the inner guidepost deep within your body and mind takes you to the destination.

This is a journey I believe in. When I look around and see all that we’ve achieved, I am humbled to witness the strengths of others before me, beside me and in front of me. I included no GIFs in today’s post, as I want it to speak for itself. I am one (wo)man. I am grateful for those who show us how to be more humble. Thank you.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Utopia

Posted on Updated on

Utopia Review
Thomas More was the first to coin the word “utopia.” More was the son of a court judge, and a page to Archbishop Morton throughout his youth in London. He was profoundly affected not only by these two great gentlemen, but also by the philosophy of humanism that was spread by Erasmus during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe. As a result of More’s fanatical advocacy of socialism and communism, he was tried, and later executed on July 6th, 1535, at the age fifty-seven. Sir Thomas More is studied today as a leader of Renaissance literature in England because of his famous work Utopia, which was published in 1516. In his work, More creates an ideal society on an imaginary island in strange waters. The word “utopia” is best translated from the Greek as “a place that can never be” because a “utopia” is a perfect society; however, More was simply using this perfect society to satirize life in London during that time period. He was not proposing a solution to England’s ills.
Before Thomas More began writing his masterpiece, he was privileged to read several other works, which enabled him to write Utopia. Plato’s Republic, St. Augustine’s City of God, and the stories about Paradise and The Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis profoundly influenced More. He was also inspired by several Renaissance reports he received from the Portuguese-owned “New World.” All of these influences led More “to confront all the serious evils of his day, religious, social, and political, but he considered philosophically their remedy, and that in a manner far in advance of the period at which he wrote… Utopia has been interpreted to condone every kind of political theory directed to the transference of power and wealth to self-styled reformers” (Warrington xii). More wanted to reform the society that he lived in; however, it was next to impossible to reform a society that had already been set in its ways. According to Thomas I. White, “More’s Utopia has been aptly described as a work that can be read in an evening but may take a lifetime to understand. One reason for this is that the book is built on the intellectual equivalent of a geological fault. The simple landscape suggested by Utopia’s structure and conception belies subterranean forces that push and pull the book in different directions. The resulting tensions may not lead to earthquakes, but they certainly erupt in dramatically different interpretations of More’s little classic” (White 37). Thus, it is difficult to know what More’s intentions were in writing Utopia.
Per Chad Walsh, noted critic and interpreter of utopian societies, “a utopia is often an oblique satire on the writer’s own society, though it need not be. It can represent simply his attempt to conceive of a perfect society… More offered Utopia as a guide to the improvement of an England that badly needed it. He wished to show that poverty, crime, cruel punishments, and invidious distinctions between classes are not in the order of nature, but are man’s doing, and that man could equally create a just and happy social order” (Walsh 26). He was offering one or two suggestions, but at the same time, he was also satirizing the foolish thoughts of some philosophers and politicians of the day. Yet, critics to this day have continually debated whether More’s Utopia was a satire on the way in which London society operated, or whether it was what he truly felt London society should try to mirror. One can agree, despite whatever contradictions there are to those who claim More’s Utopia was a satire, that England definitely needed some guidance during this period. It seems that More’s Utopia was read as a solution, though it was only meant to be a satire that had some valuable ideas.
While an ideal society seems to be the best solution to England’s problems, one cannot help but ponder why men would dream utopian dreams. “Man is an animal with an imagination; he can conceive of things that do not yet exist, [and] may never exist. Man has the curious and awesome ability to transcend himself and nature… There is also the theory that man once lived in a utopia, but does no longer, and that he is always trying to return. The name of this first utopia was Eden” (Walsh 29). It does not seem that whether or not man already lived in a utopia, or is simply wishing to live in one now, is the central thesis of More’s satire. The important questions still remain: How is Utopia a satire on English society? Is More merely showing men what he believes is the best way to rid London of its problems? Richard Marius has the answer. “More could not have created an ideal society with so many flaws that affronted liberal imagination. More had truly intended to cast Utopia as a dystopia, not a good place but a bad place, one where rule of reason had obliterated the gentler human virtues” (Marius 11). Although there were several seemingly perfect solutions throughout the contents of Utopia, it was not a ten-step program for London society during the sixteenth century. “Utopia [is] viewed as a prototype of the obverse genre, the dystopia. The paradigm More created simply lent itself ideally to satire, because the distance between his imaginary society and the society in which he lived enabled him to contrast the two” (Fox 12). “It is not a blueprint but a touchstone against which we try various ideas about both our times and the books to see what then comes of it all” (Marius 12). More’s work was indeed a satire on the many men who continually dreamed of living in a utopian society. He saw where English society was in comparison to where other countries and civilizations were, and knew that he had to create a society that would give its people ideas, but not build the specifics of the said society for them. Therefore, Utopia was merely a suggestion of ideas (one or two, not as an entirety) that could be conceived as helpful, tolerable and ideal.
In fact, “More’s own society was rigidly hierarchical and highly regulated, so Utopia may not have seemed as restrictive to him as it does to us. Thus, it is easy to understand why a writer would want to satirize a bad commonwealth” (Logan 8). In satirizing this commonwealth, More was simply presenting a society that was so perfect that it could not truly exist; however, people enjoy reading about ideal utopias because it gives them some kind of hope for the future. “It shows the best society not as a normative or prescriptive model but as actually achieved, as already in existence. Utopia is a description of the best (or, in anti-utopia, the worst) society not as an abstract ideal, and not simply as a satirical foil to the existing society in full operation in which we are invited vicariously to participate” (Kumar 25). “More published Utopia for the purpose of showing… the things that occasion mischief in commonwealths; having the English Constitution in view. The island of Utopia is, in fact, England. More designed [it] to show how England would look, and what shape her relations with abroad would assume, if she were communistically organized” (Kautsky 14). By participating in this communistic utopia, More is able to present a few suggestions, as well as ridiculous (meant to be taken as jocular, and nothing else) ideas, all the while discussing his semi-radical viewpoints on three major issues. The three specific aspects of utopian life that Sir Thomas More attacked in this satire were communism/socialism, religion and marriage/family.
More’s own socialistic outlook on society dates back to when he was arrested and executed for his beliefs. Richard Marius tells readers “ I believe that the answer to the questions in More’s own mind [about socialism] was not that we should create a communist society. But [he does] believe that part of the response that More intended was to make us at least ask the questions, for to question society is to see it, and we must see it before we can do anything to reform it” (Marius 5). Since their leader Utopus basically imposed communism upon the Utopians, one can assume that More was studying the idea that a communistic society is indeed the solution for London society. He was not suggesting this, but merely saying that the equality offered amongst a socialistic society would provide stability. More does include a section on how the Utopians change their houses every decade so that no one person gets accustomed to a higher standard than another; however, the houses are exactly identical according to the section on The Geography of Utopia. Marius later notes that “The communism of the utopia deserves another word to this generation that has seen this once mighty ideology crumble to dust in most places where it once seemed imperial, irresistible and eternal. I’ve [also] noted that the Utopians acted on the premise that to eliminate poverty, the entire economic and social order had to be radically rebuilt from the ground up. That was precisely the view of Karl Marx, but More and Marx came to radically different conclusions about what the social order would be if it were rebuilt” (Marius 8).
The idea of rebuilding the entire society from scratch comes along by way of Utopus, who senses that again, equality amongst the people can only be achieved when things are created from originality, not from existing lands. Unless man rebuilds everything he owns, there can be no sense of justice. Similar in the ideas of socialism and communism, man must work together to bring about the overwhelming outpouring of parity. Thus, More is not suggesting that communism is the only way to go – the “be-all, end-all” answer to the problems in London society; he is satirizing the idea that everything has to be destroyed (and rebuilt) in order to gain fairness and equality. London society was still heavily distinct amongst classes at the time. Marius writes that “to the middle-class people like ourselves, our messy and fragmented society looks good in comparison to Utopia. Here, More’s Augustinian conception of sinful humankind becomes burdensome to the soul, for in the Utopian commonwealth, individualism and privacy are threats to the state. I suspect that we see as clearly as anyone does in Utopia just why communism did not work. The weight of human depravity was simply too much to be balanced by eliminating private property” (Marius 5). A communistic society that contains laws saying that private property is not allowed in society will never last long. People have an inner need to own something, and More is pointing this out in Utopia; he laughs at those who want to take everything away from the people of English society. He basically tells the readers that if such a thing were to occur, they should beware of an outbreak of war.

He concludes by showing how much the Utopians are afraid of war. Exactly. They are so afraid of war that it is necessary to have such a militaristic society with communism at the helm in their society; however, it would not work in London society. According to Kenyon, “More argues [that] men could attain salvation only if temptation were first to be removed. Given this, it was evident to More that social institutions required radical emendation. Consequently, in Utopia, More is to be discovered proposing a series of alternative arrangements such as communism which, he hoped, might remove the temptation of sinfulness presented by existing institutions such as private property” (Kenyon 54). More thought that some of the socialistic views would work in English society, but he knew that London was not ready for an overhaul. He thus satirized what it would be like if England were communistic. There would not be a single freedom such as private property. Just as communism was a seriously discussed issue as one solution for a utopian society, so were the fundamental laws of religion.
“More posits in Utopia a set of social institutions designed to reduce temptation, limit available choices, and channel the will in a requisite direction. The question of whether by living under such constraining institutions individuals nevertheless exercise free will is not developed by More to the extent that it might be” (Kenyon 58). Thus free will , as in the free will to choose whatever religion you want to follow, is a prime target for satire in this work. At the time when More lived, there were many ongoing debates over Puritanism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. “The discussion of religion presented in Utopia generates a problem not least because we are informed that although they do not subscribe to full-fledged sixteenth-century Catholicism, the Utopians follow a religion that in terms both of its doctrines and its externals maintains several important prescriptive recommendations relevant to the salvation of Christians” (Kenyon 97). In Utopia, all can practice a religion of any form that they wish. They are required only to attend a church service, which operates in the same manner as a college campus mass does. All of those that attend can take from the service what they wish to since there is no one supreme denomination in the city of Utopia. After More’s struggles with a corrupt church, no wonder he would satirize his experience with religion. “Since Utopians live according to the law of nature, they are not Christian. Indeed they practice a form of religious tolerance – as they must is they are to be both reasonable and willing to accept Christianity when it is announced to them” (Marius 3). “The practices and externals of religious observation are apparently of less moment to utopian theology. Certainly, the formalities of medieval Catholicism are reflected in Utopian practices. On this facet of religious life More’s position is undoubtedly speculative. It is evident that at least a certain amount of revision would be necessary to accommodate some of these offices to the introduction of Christianity” (Kenyon 99). Therefore, it is obvious that Utopia could not be a solution to the problems in society; More himself had no idea how to solve the religious tensions and corruption that was ongoing in the churches in English society. It would be nice if everyone was tolerant of another’s religion, and no one fought to the death with others over which was the true religion; that is pointless though. There are no answers. More knew this, which is why he proposed a solution that was impossible. He was showing others the stupidity of such a belief that there could be one supreme god who created everything, thus he satirizes said beliefs. He had no choice but to present an idea or two, but again, he did not suggest that the Utopian’s religious ways were a solution. Either did he try to solve every one of the problems in London society concerning marriage and divorce.
“The apparent disparity between Utopian religious tolerance and the Lord Chancellor’s rigor has already been touched upon. But how do you account for such Utopian institutions as euthanasia and divorce, both forbidden by the Church for which More died. Or for tactics like subornation of treason, assassination of enemy rulers, and forcible annexation of foreign lands the natural resources of which, in Utopian judgment, have been insufficiently exploited” (Nelson 9)? To insure that people would not want to get divorced because they are no longer happy with the appearance of their spouse, More suggests that the bride and groom be allowed to see each other naked before the ceremony. Therefore, they will know what they are getting themselves into prior to marriage. If they re happy with what they see, the marriage will take place, and there is no case for dishonesty. However, if they did not see the other person naked prior to marriage, then a case could be made for dishonesty if that person were hideously scarred. There is no way that More could logically suggest the idea of seeing a prospective spouse naked before marriage when society at the time frowned on nudity. It was a disgrace to reveal even more than one’s face when in public. More would be condemned for life if he seriously thought he could get away with proposing nudity as a solution to unhappiness. Even today, nearly five hundred years later, nudity in public is still considered disgraceful. Society will almost never be ready for such a thing. More was simply laughing at the many ways in which people tried to avoid the problems of life when he proposed such an idea of nudity prior to marriage. If More had written a handbook, like The Prince, on how to behave and what society should look like, his solution would truly be that people should just deal with their problems in a dignified manner rather than propose such outlandish practices. There is no way to avoid such a problem in life. Life is not perfect. Life is not a utopia, as More would say.
However, the “average human behavior in Utopia is considerably higher than in the rest of the world. Yet even in Utopia, with its splendid education, More thinks it necessary to provide a system of criminal justice: human nature is such that no matter what nurture it receives, some fraction of individuals will always be criminals” (Logan 37). Man may have had an innate goodness in such a society according to More and Logan, but it was not absolute. There were still laws necessary to keep people in line. People needed to be protected legally from deception beforehand. One other interesting aspect of Utopian life that parallels real life is that “after The Fall [in Eden], man was exposed to the prospect of temptation and deadly sin. By contrast, More responds to this situation in Utopia by posting a strict moral code which… he also saw as the inherent inferiority of the female sex” (Kenyon 66). Women were still considered of a lower class in Utopian society. More would have elevated their status if he were truly proposing a new way of life. Instead, he keeps them “where they belong” according to people of the time. Therefore, More was again, not providing the concrete plans on “how to eliminate problems,” but laying the foundation in order to show people how to laugh at themselves when things go wrong. There will never be complete equality; More was trying to parody such a philosophy.
“In all [of] these ways, More showed himself, and his Utopia, to be the product of a new age. His Utopia has a rationalism and a realism that we associate typically with the classical revival of the Renaissance, and that are to be found equally in the architectural utopias of fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italy… Utopia is a fiction whereby the truth, as if smeared with honey, might a little more pleasantly slide into men’s minds” (Kumar 21). More cast his utopian society as one in which life was perfect and ideal, thus it had to be considered satirical since there is no such thing as perfection. By sugarcoating his views and ideas, he was able to create a utopian land that affected humankind more than he expected. He could show mankind how foolish their thoughts were on trying to perfect and correct everything that was wrong with society. A little error can sometimes keep things more in balance. If everything and everyone were perfect, what would man have to strive for? Why would they exist? More was simply presenting a satirical solution to society that he never meant to assume the role of the “be-all, end-all” problem-solver.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world.

View all my reviews