2012 Independence Day

Freedom isn’t free and I will not regard it as if it cost others nothing. Thank you to all who have established and secured our freedoms, and to those who continue to, both present and future.

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”,

should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.

4 USC Sec. 4 01/03/2012 (112-90)

TITLE 4 – FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES 

CHAPTER 1 – THE FLAG

Sec. 4. Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery

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Progression of RE

{Start}

REvisit Vision

–> REinforce “Why”

—-> RE-ignite Passion

——> RE-align Priorities

——–> RE-calibrate Decisions

———-> RE-charge Effectiveness

————> RE-capture “Enjoy the journey”

[REcommended start point: Bonfire Health – Total Life Conditioning]

{REpeat}

Men of Art, Visual and Verbal

Last night I introduced two friends, one man whose art speaks through shape, color and form, and another whose art speaks through word, rhythm, and meter.  The venue: RAW Art Works, 37 Central Square, Lynn MA.  The informal introduction, months in the making, lasted just an hour.

Jason Cruz, a man I first met and trained with at North Shore CrossFit, has guided local youth for 15 years at RAW to expression and release through art and creativity, letting their creations tell their stories, many unrefined, emotionally charged, and otherwise unheard (or worse, expressed through violence or other objectionable means).  Enzo Surin, a published poet, author, literacy advocate, and Pushcart Prize nominee is a friend of many years whose art and its impact on young people continue to grow in scope and recognition.  Both men, with great heart for the youth of their local communities, use their unique talents to influence, challenge and encourage young people to become more than what typical society says they must become because of their social, economic and domestic conditions.

The three young men who were also there working on their current project pieces were courteous hosts and presented good handshakes and solid introductions to myself and Enzo.  As Jason said, “they could be anywhere” and yet they chose to be at RAW last night.  I withhold their names here, not because I do not remember them or because they are without significance, for that is certainly not the case, but to provide a trust that was not necessarily requested yet that is certainly deserved.  These young men, who have much more to deal with than I had at their age, shared a glimpse into their worlds, their thoughts, their stories with Enzo and me, and were very attentive and respectful as we were able to casually share a few of our own experiences from our younger days.  I certainly hope to see these young men again in future visits.

In the one hour that we were onsite at RAW, we engaged in conversation on athletics, writing, coaches, potential, current pieces on and their meaning; and shared curiosity, openness, encouragement, challenge, visual art, and even some impromptu poetry.  Enzo and I were able to make a solid impact on the three young men through our stories that they showed genuine appreciation for at the end of our time together.  Before we parted ways, all of us described the evening with phrases that included “awesome”, “creative-minded”, “inspiration”, “future”,  and “destiny” and rated our day as ending at a net-positive; one of the young men even acknowledging that though his evening had begun at a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, during our visit, it turned into an 8.

I had waited all day (not to mention the months in planning) to introduce Enzo to Jason and meet the RAW crew.  At the end of the night, I was certainly not disappointed.  That was what it was all about.  That was the reason we were there.  Those three young men were the reason Enzo, Jason, and my schedules finally lined up last night, let alone the many other lives that will be touched and forever changed by these men and their collaboration in the future.

Neither Jason nor Enzo, separated by less than a mile in the center of their city, had any real knowledge of the other’s passion and work until last night.  The impact of that meeting cannot be estimated, it can only be observed in days ahead.  From what we saw and all felt of the meeting, the future will be much brighter for many of the urban youth of Lynn MA because of the efforts of these two artists and their unique and complementary delivery styles.

Thank you Jason and Enzo for setting aside the time for our introduction.  I look forward to what future collaboration amongst us will produce and the exponentially greater positive impact it will have on the young people of Lynn and the surrounding areas.

More to come.  That, I’m certain of.

For more information on Jason Cruz and RAW Art Works, visit http://rawart.org [Click on the “Giving to RAW” link in the middle of the top menu for an online donation form.]

For information on and booking for Enzo Surin’s work, visit http://www.enzosurin.com

Irreplaceable Treasures

[Originally written for and performed by invitation at Lynn: City Unplugged coffeehouse and open mic night, Friday Nov 19 2010]

 

A trophy

The handiwork of an artisan

A journey across the world

A prominent display

 

Rocked and toppled

A frame-by-frame descent

From pedestal to floor

A desperate, reaching hand narrowly misses

 

!!!POP!!!

The familiar sound of hollow impact and fragmentation

 

A heart reels in anguish

The onset of despair

No tears

No cry…

No breath

 

Silence…

An empty gaze…

 

Wishing…

Wishing for the hands of time to reverse

Just five seconds –

A few ticks backward to recover what was changed in an instant

In one careless moment

 

Hope

Desperate hope

Hope of repair

Hope of recovery

Hope of a day it will again be seen as it once was –

As it was before that moment

 

Hope of repair is not lost

But there lies a knowing…

Under the wrench of the heart

Below the hammer of the fist in the palm

Beneath the repetitive drill of what should have been

 

The unforgiving notion that though repair will be made

Restoration is out of reach

A treasure is forever altered

On the altar of carelessness and disregard

 

A friend

A fellow

Kin or stranger

Human

A life

Not unlike my own

 

Lives on display

Fashioned by a Master Creator

On its journey through the world

Prominent in its own right

 

An instant of disregard

A thoughtless word

A careless motion

A cold bump, stray sneer, or unchecked action

 

Devalued

Unacknowledged

The life rocks and topples

 

Falling…

Falling from its confidence

Tumbling away from its esteem

Down…down…down…

No sound, no cry, no whistle or rumble until…

 

!!!POP!!!

The bitterness of depression

The angst of defeat

The despair of unlov-ed-ness

Shreds of a life once whole

Torn by the barbs of modern lifestyle

 

Fragments of the life

Sharp-edged and raw

Strewn now across its own history

Looking toward a future through shards of present pain

 

Hope?  Where is hope?

Yes, hope exists

Hope of repair?  Yes

Hope of renewed appearance?  Yes

Hope of another tomorrow?  Yes

 

Yes, hope

But today that life is forever altered

Restoration to what it once was, only a dream now

Experience and pain has stained its fibers…

Forever

 

The spectacles through which it views its journey

Indelibly tinted by anguish

Its steps, more tentative than when its journey began

Restoration?  No – that life is forever altered…

 

One life

One moment

A nucleus of society

I stand

Surrounded by watchers

Learners

Those who mimic and repeat –

Emulate…

Follow

 

Their eyes see my actions

Their ears hear my words

Their skin feels my touch

Their souls share my experience

 

Will my words rock them?

Will my deeds topple them?

Will my lifestyle send them falling…

Frame-by-frame…

Down, down, down…

Until…

 

!!!POP!!!

They lie fragmented and broken

Strewn across the face of humanity

In pain, disease, and confusion

Tainted by my selfish ways?

 

No…it must not happen that way

No!  I cannot bear the thought

No!  I will not lead them to a life of brokenness and doubt

Where their only hope is for repair

To appear happy, strong, and whole as they once did yet having scars of sorrow beneath their countenance

 

They are not tokens

They are more than items placed on a shelf for all to see

They are irreplaceable

Not reproducible

They are flesh,…mind,…and heart

Valued far above currency, land, or fame

 

They are friends

They are fellows

They are kin and strangers

They are human

They are you

 

You are lives

Not unlike my own

Lives on display

Fashioned by a Master Creator

On your journeys through the world

Prominent in your own right

To be polished

Protected – Irreplaceable…Treasures

 

Today I Choose

If I were sun, I would light their day

If I were fire, I would warm them in cold

If I were rain, I would water their thirsty mouths

If I were air, I would fill their depleted lungs

If I were food, I would fuel their hungry bodies

I am none of these

Yet I am one unique person

Who must I be today to meet the need only I can?

What must I become to fill the void I alone can fill?

How much must I grow to move them toward their design?

I can only be me

But the me I choose

Need not remain as I am

I grow each day

Become better than I was

And by doing so

I move myself and others forward

To greater life and a greater world altogether

Today I choose

To live a better life

To improve others

By first improving myself.