Enigma Of The Soul

How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’

Mirriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:

1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe

So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions there in the dictionary if you want more.

‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.

You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…wtiters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’ I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives. I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul.’ These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation.’ Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.

So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’

Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he’s lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.

‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we can’t pinpoint, can’t know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Mirriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more. There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.

‘Soul.’

“How Dare That Inconvenience!”

I’m currently working on a new book and stopped long enough to check in with twitter…Twitter had the audacity to be ‘down.’ Like, down for over an hour — and, still down! How dare that inconvenience!

Serves a point in our lives today, does it not? We live in a digital world in which some folks thrive and know everything there is to know about the internet, while others of us just sort of get along. We are so accustomed now to running our lives with laptops, URL’s, RSS Feeds, Streams, et al. When we share bandwidth with others in our community and someone is streaming movies, kids are active on their game boards, and parents are doing their digital thing, the electronic gadgets can slow down dramatically. Then, we get irritable, yell at the wife, kids, friends, and curse all those who are eating up all our bandwidth.

Time for the generational questions! What have we become? Where are we going in this mad digital world? An old anachronistic simpleton like me gets lost in this world at times and spends a lot of valuable time trying to figure it all out…at least, the time is valuable when one is my age. So we hoot and holler until the electronic gadgetry comes back to a sane and sensible environment for work, like twitter tweeting and facebook messaging and goodreads solicitations and book recommendations, etc. Then, at the end of the day when I turn off my computer, sip on my one and only tequila on the rocks, and look out at the Sea of Cortez, I see the folly of it all…well, I sort of see the folly of it all — with the help of the Sea and tequila sipping.

Whatever the generation, we must live in it, accept its technological advances, and move on with our lives. Then, the succeeding generations can claim us ‘nuts’ for leaving them with such a mess to clean up.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is it all part of a bigger picture? Am I just singing to the choir? Of course, I am, and in pretty good voice, I’d say.

For now, though, how dare that inconvenience!

Tragedy In Milliseconds

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Tragedy in Millisconds

A titillated audience sits and watches the beginning scenes of a media-hyped movie when a dark camoflaged figure appears at a theater exit door and begins a live gun-shooting scene of horror that will leave twelve people dead and sixty-plus others wounded and fighting for life. In those milliseconds one warped mind has changed the direction and shapes of so many lives and families. Those with close connections to the victims and those of us around the world can only sit in astonished apathy and ponder the cruelty of fate. We sit helpless and hopeless and we know that there is absolutely nothing we can do about this mindless atrocity.

We know that occasionally life presents us with these kinds of perverted acts of violence…they have come since the dawn of time. No amount of pondering can give us answers that will remotely satisfy our minds. A young and promising mind has tripped over itself to produce a monster who will now join the arcade of other historical ogres of terror. What else can we say or do but to explore so many psychological avenues of the mind? What else can we do but watch the media frenzy and listen over and over to the gruesome details of the slaughter? Then, somewhere in time, we will for the most part forget this monster of the movie house, like we have for the most part forgotten the Columbine school tragedy, the Gabriel Giffords shooting and massacre of innocents in Tucson, the Richard Speck monster in Chicago who brutalized and murdered eight student nurses, the University of Texas sniper, the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, on and on the list can go.

What else can we do but store away in our subconscious this terrible act along with all the other horrible acts in our history? There is nothing else we can do because to dwell too long on the mad meaningless acts of man can only dislodge some important part of our own humanity.

In the end, we are left to feel the sorrow of families who have lost their loved ones. We are left with the humble hope that those families will be able to continue their lives with the knowledge that tragedy’s reason lies beyond the scope of humankind’s understanding.

Billy Ray Chitwood

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Sunday On The Sea Of Cortez

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Sunday on the Sea of Cortez

The day is starting with patches of blue in a cloudy sky. Soon the clouds will be gone and a full canopy of soft blue will replace them. There will be ski jets on the deep green sea along with banana boats, motor boats, multi-colored sails. Hawkers of serapes, jewelry, and other trinkets will be strolling the long beach through throngs of people under palapas or umbrellas, walking along water’s edge, or sunbathing. The pools of the many resorts along the beach will be busy with laughing children, and condo/villa homeowners will be walking their dogs and getting their daily exercise.

One thing that is near constant at this lovely latitude is that the sun is constant like the sea. There is humidity, not as bad as farther south toward the more tropical Matzatlan and Puerto Vallarta, but there is also a prevailing breeze that keeps the palms swaying and the conditions pleasant. The views are spectacular: the old port juts out into the sea, adding more to the curving shoreline; the new Malecon at the old port has restaurants and shops along its palmed walkways and its rocky section along the coastline.

Rocky Point is coming of age. Tourism is much bigger this year. Viper Jet, an aerospace company (AeroMxII) is hiring hundreds of people for their ‘flight simulation’ and ‘global positioning systems’ (GPS) projects. It means growth for our sleepy fishing village, and it likely means that our international airport will bbegin sooner than later to add regular US flights…now, there are only charters. Looming in the near future is a home cruise port which will, when completed, add exponentially to Rocky Point’s growth. With Rocky Point’s proximity to Arizona (one hour’s drive to the border) and the US, it is time.

There will be some who will cling to the media hype that Mexico is not safe. For me, this town has been part of my history as I’ve been coming here since the seventies. It is safe, and the people are friendly, supportive, and welcome us to their desert/sea paradise. People with common sense will already know that our US cities have pockets of drugs and crime where most of us would not venture. Bad things happen everywhere, of course, but when using common sense, we can usually avoid problems. In point of fact, safety is never a concern for me here in Rocky Point.

Why do I write this post? Because I love this old port city of Rocky Point. There is a large contingent of ex-pats who live here full-time who will tell you the same thing. They love it here and they tire of the negative media blitzes that are directed toward this beautiful area.

The other reason I write this post is, for the most part I live and write here along this lovely coastline of the Sea of Cortez. It is here where my creative impulses are most active. It is here where I’ve been inspired to write some books. I’m still inspired and I’m still writing. The United States and Mexico are friends for the long term, and, in many ways, there is some catching up for Mexico to get up to speed with some of our technological advances. They are getting there, faster than many might realize.

If you have a nostalgic and romantic sense of old Mexico as I’ve always had, come on down. You won’t be ‘wasting away in Margaritaville’ unless that’s your desire.

Billy Ray Chitwood

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The Final Curtain1 by Billy Ray Chitwood

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“The Final Curtain1” 

        I’ve always been a Frank Sinatra guy and “My Way” has accompanied me on many romantic adventures. “My Way” has been one of those ‘etchings’ to enjoy with someone special at the end of a candlelight and wine dinner, a song that can be parsed and qualified in so many ways…guess that’s my best reason for the blog title.
        It isn’t so much that those lines in the song, “The Final Curtain,” need to conjure up morbid thoughts and ‘let’s all be sentimental’ thoughts. In fact,”The Final Curtain” can conjure up benign thoughts, those that lift the spirit and put an extra swagger in our strides.
        I’m pretty much a ‘romantic’ with some life dreams realized and some that still wish to be. Mostly, these days, my writing speaks to me in so many ways, telling me so many truths about myself. Through the characters pecked out on the laptop, in their actions, reactions, interactions, there are glimpses of me, mini-portraits never seen before. Some are scary. Some are strangely uplifting and gratifying. Some glimpses make me sad. Some make me happy. Some make me confident. Some make me doubt myself.
        There is this ‘thing’ that always keeps me rooted to some true genetic spot: we can be no more in life than what we are intended to be.
        So, what’s with all the gibberish about “The Final Curtain” and the writing and the glimpses? Truth is, I’m aging with a great deal of reluctance, going through the ‘pages’ past, present, and future, still searching for the elusive and the unattainable, trying very hard to make up for some wasted moments in this passage. I’m here in the ‘wings’ and the curtain has not closed and I’m wanting to know about you, how you differ so much from me, how we are so much alike, how we can somehow better know each other.
        One of my favorite poet/writers is an ex-priest named James Kavanaugh. Among all his work, he has written two beautiful books of poetry: “There Are Men Too Gentle To Walk Among Wolves” and “Will You Be My Friend?” There is so much of his verse with which I identify. His words speak to me with the most marvelous clarity. With my Appalachian bible-belt roots, there is little wonder.
        Sinatra and Kavanaugh are my two favorite ‘etchings’ with some Kahlil Gibran thrown in, each of them fodder for the romantic and soulful parts of me. There is of course nothing wrong with the different tastes in music. There are those who like the brassy groups, the rappers, and the new gents and ladies of song — most of my soul dances favor the ballads. We can’t all like the same music. And, yes, of course, age, time, and place carry our predictable favorites.
        Now, ‘will you be my friend?’ Are you a ‘romantic’ – dreamer – pragmatist – young adult – baby boomer – timid – out-going… How do you approach the page on which you are about to spill your guts — or, your character’s guts? How much of you do you leave on the written pages of your books? You tell me, and I’ll tell you.
        If this kind of soulful musing is not your thing, pass me by…’thirty-one flavors’ you know. If you do like to muse and don’t mind sharing, jump on in. I’ll be lurking around the ‘curtain’ to see if someone shows up on stage. There’s a lot of time before the final curtain.
Billy Ray Chitwood
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