I remember the country store. We still have a few country stores in the world but not many. There was one gas pump (Petrol for my international friends), a variety of canned goods, perishables such as fresh vegetables and hardware. There was no vending machine. Instead a large chest near the counter kept eight ounce glass bottles of soft drinks on one side and beer on the other side. In the back of the store you could find a small selection of sporting goods. All of fishing tackle, shotgun shells and 22 caliber rifle rounds were common as was traps for fur trappers. But the most sought after resource to be found in the country store was the counter itself. Not a counter that’s crammed to brim with cheap impulse buys but a spacious wooden counter that worn down from being well used. It’s stained with coffee and soft drinks and scratched from hardware or change being tossed down at checkout. A properly equipped counter in a country store comes with a smiling face and plenty of conversation. In the days before Facebook we made a public post by mentioning something to clerk ( Who was usually the owner/operator). The clerk would then leak the news to the next customer during his checkout. ( yup, back then gossip was done without any social media). There was a bit of an art to being a clerk in the country store. Just the right amount of conversation and gossip would keep the customer in the building long enough to encourage a subsequent purchase but not so much that they felt trapped. The clerk knew everyone in the community and what gossip to keep to himself. ( A built-in spam filter!) Well, most of the time anyway.
Today mostly what you find is the convenience store. The best way to tell the difference between a country store and a convenience store is the atmosphere. A country store is welcoming and inviting where a convenience store is focused on bulk processing of sales. The later type is usually clean and neat with no coffee stained counters and very little in the way of a relationship with the customers. Just pay and get out. With the onset of automation the friendly clerk will be replaced by computer and a scanner.
My friend Sophia and I was commenting about how something made by human hands was more valuable than something stamped out by a machine. As we move forward into the brave new world of robots and app purchases consider the value of the people who are out there building their business based on a relationship with the community rather than just bulk processing of sales. ( And do stop by Sophia’s blog. She covers a broad range of things from an intelligent and interesting angle in the UK. )
Friends gather on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris West Virginia. They’ve come to enjoy the warm sun and the cool waters. Playfully they leap into the air for the occasional game of tag and to float on the warm air as it rises and carries them to the tops of the trees. Their lives are completely devoid of aggression and malcontent. They soar on the slightest breeze because they have no burdens to hold them down.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that good will leads to a happier place in life. It is a promise made to us by God. We all have good days and bad days. There’s days when I can get triggered by the slightest little thing and before I can stop myself I’ve said or done something that I regret for weeks. And, you know what? It takes twice as much expression of good will to free me from that regret. I might feel like I was winning a debate or putting someone else in their place but the truth is that those actions become a burden almost immediately. So, if you want to know the real secret of joy and freedom it’s benevolence.
The 4th of July is American Independence Day. It’s not just a celebration of history. It’s a celebration of the right to self governance. The right to make wrong choices and be responsible for the outcome. Our government is not the giver of rights. They are human rights that exists because people exist. Our “leaders” are our servants not our superiors. (In theory anyway.) Of course once politcs becomes involved things get muddled. Our nation was born in debate and has continued to be in debate ever since. The idea was that our government is the result of a contract between the citizens and as such has no power or authority of its own. But I digress and it’s not my intention to debate political stuff on my blog.
So, it’s time to get to point. Independence Day. We’re often guilty of the idea that it’s only about independence from mother Europe (and by extension the other places where our ancestors originated) but that’s an age old error. The most important thing the independence of the individual. I blog a lot about peaceful moments and personal growth. That’s only possible through personal independence. Personal independence is right and like all rights comes with personal responsibility. Again leaving politics aside , we often find ourselves in times of personal desperation. For some of us it’s social anxiety, for some of us it’s financial crisis and yet for some it’s something else. There’s as many reasons for “personal oppression” as there are individuals on earth. For many of us, we have forged our own chains. They’re made from self doubt and poorly made choices. Let me share something with you. You hold the keys to your own chains. The moment you decide to remove them is your first taste of freedom. It isn’t going to be easy. You’ll be at war with yourself and it will definitely take more than one battle to be completely free. But, if you’re committed to personal independence then it’s a fight worth fighting. I haven’t completely freed myself yet. But every day I gain ground. Every picture I take, every thought I share with you and every dream I have is another volley in my war for personal independence. I know that you can have this too as long as you don’t give up. Whatever chains that are binding you to today let me encourage you to begin to grind them away. Don’t give up. Keep up with it and soon they will be broken. As I celebrate American Independence Day today let me also wish you a happy Personal independence Day! I’m looking forward to seeing your fireworks soon.
I think everyone has had that feeling that they just don’t fit in at some point. In fact I’d say it’s multiple points for most of us. The temptation is to forsake one’s individuality for sake of the crowd. But isn’t that lying? It’s one thing to be polite and respectful towards other opinions but it another thing altogether to fein total agreement. What’s more is that when the truth eventually comes out the others in the group will feel betrayed. A true friendship can handle some individualism and if it can’t then it was never a true friendship in the first place. It was only mimicry.
Being your own person is often difficult. There’s going to be conflict and in today’s world a large portion of population is under the misunderstanding that disagreement and hate are the same thing. They most certainly are not. God could have created a world of clones where everyone is exactly alike. Everyone would have the same opinions, the same ideas and the same looks. How boring would that be? There would also be no fresh ideas, no variety and no excitement. I’m starting to meander here so I’m just going to get to point. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Sure there’s going to be people who don’t accept you because they can’t handle anyone who doesn’t mirror them but do you really want to burden yourself with such a shallow person? Just be yourself.
I have a fondness for the Corvus family. Today the crow and raven are associated with darkness and death but I want to share a different perspective.
The Leni Lenape tell the story of the Rainbow Crow. I have not been told the story from any tribal elders etc. In fact, I only learned the legend with the invention of the internet. So with no further ado here is story as I understand it…
The sun seem to sleep a lot over the past few years. The days were dim and short and the night was long, cold and dark. As the chieftain walked through the village the sadness of his people rested on his spirit like a heavy stone. He had tried everything. All of wisdom of his grandfathers, all of the prayers in his lodge and long lonely nights in forest seeking a vision that would tell him what to do. He couldn’t even sit at the council for the crying of the hungry children. He paused for a moment beneath a large spruce tree and began to sob. Then, he heard a rustling is the branches above. It was his friend the crow of many colors that had come to check on him. The crow was magnificent with feathers that shimmered with every hue in the rainbow. He loved the people and he loved the chieftain. The crow tried his best to cheer up his friend by singing in his most beautiful voice. It had always worked in past. The chieftain would smile and forget his troubles for little while. But tonight’s sadness the worst it had ever been. Moving down to a lower branch the crow opened his mouth and once more that beautiful melodic voice came out. “I have never not been able to make you smile my friend. What troubles your soul and how can I be a friend for you?” The chieftain took a breath and began to unload his burdens. He told the rainbow crow of the hungry children and the sickness of the old ones. “If the cold does not end soon my people will fade away forever. ” spoke the chieftain.
The rainbow crow knew in his heart what must be done. He would undertake a journey to the council of the creator and plead on behalf of the people. The journey was long and dangerous. The rainbow crow flew nonstop for many days and nights. When he found the creator he begged for him to end the winter and save the people he loved. The creator agreed and as a token gesture he gave a burning branch to the crow and instructed him to give fire to the people so that they could be warm again. The rainbow crow took the fire in his beak and made the long trip back to the chieftain and his people. He found the chieftain still sulking under the large tree. As he landed, the rainbow crow laid the fire at the chieftain’s feet. In his excitement at finding a way to save the people he tried to speak but the smoke from the fire had destroyed the crow’s beautiful voice and his magnificent feathers were singed black forever.
The chieftain was able to save the people he served as a result of rainbow crow and his sacrifice. So, always after the people would leave food out for the crow and he was always welcomed in the village.