Fate

I was thinking about the lyrics to this old song today. Almost 22 years later, they still convey my feelings about the world.

Fate

written by Shannon Noel (that would be me!), c 1998 Tiger Moon Publishing

I could close my eyes to the world outside

And believe that all is well

I could be like you, do what you do

Pretend the angel never fell.

I could smile and say “everything’s okay”

And not hear the silent screams

And believe that God will save them all

That evil’s just a dream

But I can’t take another day of false sincerity

And I won’t let my life depend on serendipity

So won’t you take my hand

Hold tight and we’ll make it to land

God helps those who help themselves

Our fate is in our own hands

So I won’t sit by while babies cry

For a safe and happy place

I can’t ignore it anymore

When virtue falls from grace

And I can’t take another day of false sincerity

And I won’t let my life depend on serendipity

So you won’t you take my hand

Hold tight and we’ll make it to land

God helps those who help themselves

Our fate is in our own hands

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If You Knew How Long You’d Live…

A man in his seventies once said to me, “If I’d known how long I was going to live, I would’ve taken better care of myself.” I’ve wondered about this many times since. Would he really have taken better care of himself? Would he have drunk less whiskey, quit smoking, resisted the sausages and the fries and the biscuits? Would he have gone on daily walks? Drank more water?

Would any of us?

If you knew you were going to live to be a hundred, would you start taking better care of yourself now? Exercise and watch what you put into your body? Avoid the cancer-feeding sugar and fat-producing carbs that permeate our diets? Cut back on booze, sustain from smoking, fill your lungs only with fresh air, give your heart the daily aerobic workout it craves so that when you’re ninety your body is still in good shape, disease-free and not overcome with old age?

And, on the other hand, if you knew you’d die young, say, before your thirtieth birthday, would you work your ass off to get to where you want to get in your life before you run out of time? Or would you care only about having as much fun as possible while you can? To hell with the consequences, to hell with the health risks, for you’re going to die soon anyway. Travel the world, run up debts you know you’ll never have to pay off, eat chocolate in Switzerland, drink fine wine in Italy, eat pastries at quaint little cafes in France.

I think it’s one of those questions you can’t really answer unless you have to. But maybe knowing when we’re going to die wouldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe we’d all create more, work harder, have more fun and take better care of ourselves, because there’s no rule saying we can’t do all of those things.

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“Beautiful You” Review

I hate that I am giving 2 stars to a Chuck Palahniuk book. I have read ten of his novels and several of his short stories. I’m even one of the backers on the upcoming movie adaption of “Lullaby” – that’s how much of a fan I am. I love his humor and his imagination. I love his fearlessness in writing what he wants to write and saying it the way he wants to say it, regardless of who he might offend. He is not for the faint of heart, and I generally feel you either love him or hate him. And I do love him. But I did not love this book. I might have loved it, had it been a short story or even a novella. It’s not that the idea of the book was bad. It was imaginative and funny and unique. It was bold and daring and shocking. All the qualities you look for in a Palahniuk book. But this 220-page book dragged on and on. I couldn’t wait to be done with it. It truly saddens me to say that, but the fact is, I wouldn’t have given this book the time needed to finish it at all if it were written by someone else. That’s how much I love Chuck.

I often judge a book by how many lines I’ve highlighted or copied into a notebook. These are the lines that are so well written I want to be able to quickly revisit them. Lines that make me think. Lines that are beautifully crafted and force you to go deeper into the larger meaning of the story. I got none of these lines in this book.

Like I said, I may have loved it if it hadn’t been dragged out so much, if it had been edited to a much shorter length. It might have carried some power then, if the shock value hadn’t gotten old less than half way through. As it is, this is not a book I would recommend, even to a Palahniuk fan like myself. Sorry, Chuck, but you really can do better.

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The One That I Want

When I was 8 yrs old, Dad took me and my sister to see Grease at the drive in. If I remember correctly, Star Wars was the second feature, and I fell asleep watching it. But Grease… wow! Grease was so cool! My mom had the record and she used to play this song over and over, dancing around the living room. I loved it. I loved the song and I loved seeing my mom dance.

When I was in my twenties, I bought the CD. It’s still cool.

The part where Olivia Newton-John’s character emerges after her friends gave her a makeover is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Vocally, as well as the acting. The whole thing is beautifully choreographed, and John Travolta and Olivia execute it perfectly. Every move, every look, every grin. Perfection.

I can never watch this clip and not feel good.

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Stephen King’s Brave Teens

If you haven’t seen Stephen King’s “It” (Chapters One and Two), you’re missing out. And if you’re one of those people who says they don’t want to watch a movie about a clown that kills children, well, you’re really missing out, because this story is not about a clown that kills children, not really. That’s at the forefront of the story, but the real story goes much deeper than that. This is a story about a group of misfit teenagers who ban together to form the Losers Club and find not only the courage to fight some really violent neighborhood bullies, but also to stand up for themselves against abusive parents, and, in the midst of all that, overcome their darkest fears. This is a coming of age story. This is a story about facing your fears, no matter how terrified you are. This is a story about real friendships and commitment and the power of love. This is a story about rising above all the turmoil that is Life and finding the strength you never knew you had.

I think about these teenagers, in the book and movie, and I wonder what would have happened if Pennywise had shown up in my home town when I was fourteen. Would my “Losers Club” (not that any of us were really losers, of course…) have had that kind of courage? I don’t think so. I can’t tell you for sure what would have happened, but I can assure you it would not have involved any of us going down into the sewer – for any reason – much less to fight a serial killer clown with millions of shark teeth and the ability to present itself to each of us in whatever form would scare us most.

And today’s teens? The media is always telling us we’re raising a generation of wimps. In 2017, Psychology Today published an article about that. The article blames parents for doing too much for their children, saying that Helicopter Parents create kids who aren’t learning how to become mentally strong adults. These children are growing into adults who are still dependent on their parents. In a national survey of 1,502 college students, 60% felt emotionally unprepared for life after high school, which in turn made them more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope. What would today’s teens do if Pennywise showed up and their classmates started disappearing? My guess is they’d run to mommy and daddy who would tell them they’re imagining things.

My generation wouldn’t have run to mommy and daddy… but we wouldn’t have armed ourselves with weapons and set out to kill the monster, either.

I wonder what teenagers Stephen King based the kids on in his novel. Maybe the kids he hung out with as a fourteen-year-old boy were just way braver than any of us.

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