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In times like these a level head is needed now more than ever. And yet we have the opposite running countries. If you were to survey citizens across the world what it is they want in life, it would be food, education, health care, shelter and a fighting chance for the next generation or two to have the same things. And yet is it really human nature to make it so complicated that we have to struggle to maintain an even adequate standard of living? Why is it acceptable for the few who have amassed both money and power to continue to make more and more money so the rest have access to less and less? Is greed and power so much of an aphrodisiac that people lose sight of their humanity? I have news for you – we will die.

Death limits what we can take with us and makes things equal in the end. This begs the question how can one enjoy in a lifetime that amount of money totaling in the billions? And why is this acceptable? I remember the day when making millions was quite an accomplishment. Billions would take multiple lifetimes to spend. It’s not like that amount of money can stave off the inevitable. It will happen no matter what, and leaving a legacy at what cost? What makes this unacceptable is that there is a cost to be paid when individuals become this wealthy. Someone somewhere down the line that you and I will never see pays the price. Actually many are paying the price, whether it is in the form of low wages, child labor, unfair labor conditions or all of the above. Nobody is immune to paying the price when someone makes that much money – nobody!

What makes matters worse is that average folk think if that person can be rich so can I. People get sucked into the myth of, “I can be if I just say it is so and do it.” Truth be told it – it isn’t true. The unfortunate consequence is it becomes a dog eat dog world at the cost of humanity. A free for all where we step over one another and get what little pieces are left at whatever cost. And if you cannot hit it big, then the least you can do is put on airs by literally adorning yourself with the accouterments of the rich by buying name brands that proudly send a message of wealth or upward heading mobility – a facade. While at the same time amassing mountains of debt. Actually, if you think about it you are most likely simultaneously creating debt for yourself and paying the wealthy more and more. While you both will be leaving a legacy, the rich in an obvious way you will be leaving a negative legacy. And that is required to be paid off because thanks to the rich you have been paying have influenced politicians to enact laws that make you have to repay any debt accrued on a credit card or unpaid loan you may have taken out before you up and died.

Initially they will memorialize you and talk up a good game at the funeral. Funerals bring that out in people. When the food stops coming and the friends who were there for your family move on with their lives, your wife, husband or significant other are stuck with not only the memories of photos during poignant times in your life, but also with what starts out to be monthly credit card and loan bills. The legacy continues with unpaid bills accruing interest while they continue to grieve having lost sight of life. This is normal, but not to the bill collectors who begin to call weekly. Calls are answered to explain the extenuating circumstances. At first they lend a sympathetic ear. It is a false empathy meant as a form of manipulation as they connect to the grief. Really they are taking notes so that each time they call they wear them down. Over time the goal is to get them to pay so that they too can get their commission for a job well done. You see they are in debt just like your mourning family members. But they will never say anything because they pay their bills on time, they tell themselves each time they make a phone call.

No savings left and the calls are daily now. When will they start knocking on the door? Soon they repossess the car, then the furniture. I didn’t know my deceased rented the furniture. Makes sense in hindsight it looks too nice. The car, no not the car! Once that is gone there’s very little left except the house. Bankruptcy is the last option – A word that connotes disgrace and shame. Thing is they can no longer get out of it that easy. Thanks to your friendly neighborhood politician who come knocking on doors during the election season to get votes has voted not in their best interest. He sided with the rich who own the companies that make the most off of your still grieving family members. Declaring bankruptcy is not an option because the rich want what’s theirs – more money. The only way out is to follow in the footsteps of what you have started this in the first place. It’s killing them one way or another.

In the end how do you want to be remembered? By building a mountain of debt? Or living within your means?


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IF I like this word. A simple two-letter word used in a myriad of ways. I think it has a deeper more poignant meaning than the other two-letter word IT for example. It is kind of a lazy word to use. People substitute it instead of explaining something in details. IF like my friend said the other day is an active word. It, the word IF that is, can be used in mathematical equations, one of my least favorite school subjects by the way. That still does not prevent it from being used in equations. For example, if 5 is added to three what is the answer, of course 8. Now that is a very simple example and the word can be used in much more complicated math problems, but the problem is the moment I start to get into those types of problems I break out in a sweat and my breathing becomes shallow – the beginnings of a panic attack. So I will leave it here with one simple math example.

The real reason I wanted to bring the word IF to your attention is that for me it is related to life. In fact as I typed it I noticed they are the two letters in the middle of the word life. how cool is that? Much like a math problem except it is not an equation in that sense, rather in the sense that there is an IF equation in our lives, and each person has their individual equation for what I call a life of well-being. What does this possibly mean you might ask? Well I will answer that question for you in the form of an IF example that pertains to my life. If I make health, creativity, community and spirituality a priority in my life I can live a balanced life of well-being. Now on the surface the equation seems quite simple, but like many things it is more complicated than that. Let’s break each one down. If I want to live a life of balance and well-being and if I make health a priority then I need to eat healthy food, exercise daily and get a decent amount of sleep. Let’s go even further. If I want food to be part of the equation then I would eat less carbs, more natural foods such as veggies and cut out any form of processed foods and refined sugar. If I want exercise to be part of my equation, then I need to ride my bike, run and go to the gym or any other form of exercise. The IF to the equation of health is also sleep. And that is at least 6 hours or more of sleep. Then we add to the equation of spirituality, this part of the equation is very personal and can be in the form of organized religion, meditation or just a personal philosophy and relationship with the world. My equation consists of daily meditation and a few interesting readings related to Zen and other thought provoking books that continue to help me find balance. And the final equation to the IF word is community and friends. Recently I wrote about community and had a count on the number of communities that I am connected to and the total is 14. I will not list them here, but the point is that community is very important for many reasons besides just well-being. And of course nothing more need be said really about friends and how that fits in the equation.

Now I have laid out a a simple IF equation. The main word here is simple. It, there’s that word again, is really that straightforward. Seriously, it is not rocket science. And yet so many of us complicate it or put obstacles in the way. Our ego is a tough nut to crack and cracking it is the key to well-being. And that key is to not listen to it. Just do it! That is IF you want to.


Bodies strewn about writhing in pain, with blood splatter canvasing the ice like a Jackson Pollock painting, ladies and gentleman it’s broomball!

Once a week from Japan I Skype a family member in Minneapolis to say hi and see what’s up. The first topic of conversation is always the weather. Lately it has been about how much snow there is in Minnesota – a lot! After a recent call I started reminiscing about Minnesota winters and how much I miss them. Winter exists in Japan and I go skiing twice a year with family, we just have to get in a car, bus or train for a few hours to reach it. What I miss most is the easy access to winter sports such as cross country skiing, hockey and my favorite, broomball. Ask anyone who has never experienced life in a winter wonderland what broomball is and 100% will be clueless.

To the untrained eye broomball looks like a trailer trash form of hockey in which participants unable to afford to buy the necessary equipment like skates, hockey sticks and a puck opted for dumpster diving and came up with brooms, old winter boots and a volleyball. This is not the case. In fact broomball is a legitimate sport with teams, leagues and tournaments. There are commonalities with hockey such as six players to a side, an ice rink and goals. Other than that it’s a game all its own.

Made with rubber soles, the boots do not mix well with ice causing extreme slippage adding to the danger factor. The lethal combination of rubber soles and a lack of head protection increase the chance of a noggin cracking. The broom is the centerpiece of equipment and used to bash the volleyball. The object of the game is simple, put the ball into the opposing team’s goal. This is not an easy task due to the slick ice and the opposing team trying to slam you into the boards. Like passing a hockey puck, passing the ball to a teammate is next to an impossible task.

This game is about timing and team members overshooting their position sliding past an incoming pass is common. With skates you can stop on a dime thanks to the sharp edges. Boots offer no stopping power whatsoever. Besides timing, it comes down to speed, balance and an understanding of physics. I failed out of physics in college and ended up relying on my speed, which explains why I nearly always overshot my mark. Like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters, at the ready in my starting position at one end of the rink hoping this time physics and gravity work in my favor, my starter pistol is a teammate screaming at the top of his lungs “Unleash the fury!” At that moment I start my dash gathering speed as I go from one end of the rink to the other with an aspiration to remain on my feet for the duration before getting the pass. Receiving the pass just as I reach top speed, shooting and scoring was a rare occasion. Most of the time the ball would end up behind me and at bone breaking speed I would crash into the boards surrounding the rink injuring my shoulder and pride, or the next best thing run headlong into the opposing team knocking them down like a set of bowling pins. Whenever that happened spectators would yell out in unison STRIKE!

Hockey fans go to games to cheer on their favorite team, but we all know the real reason is to see fights. Fighting is the highlight. Hockey fights are barbaric and brutal in which tempers flare at the slightest infraction. Loyal broomball fans of course support their teams, but what really puts butts in the seats is the promise of seeing cracked skulls. To the tried and true, it doesn’t matter win or lose the rallying cry of both teams is the same – “Victory is ours only when enough blood is spilt!” Weary and woozy from a well fought battle and concussions, we enter our local watering hole to glorious applause knowing we did our best for our diehard fans and Jackson – leaving enough blood for his next masterpiece.