These days, many of us feel more alert, affected, and hyper-sensitive within all aspects of life. I see the “for rent” signs posted everywhere, in the many empty storefronts, younger veterans begging on the roadsides, and the increasing homeless sleeping crawled into niches and corners. Aggressions have risen, moods flare more often, traffic seems reckless. I compare the news with the reality with the unmaintained, broken streets, rotten bridges, and neglected unfinished constructions. That personal economic change in our lifestyle is scary, and I am a part of it. Our bills are pretty much the same, the income barely enough.

My apartment building has four vacated spaces, but the rent is not going down; my landlord is counting on finding renters that will pay inflated ideas of “fair housing” and that the risk of losing a few months’ rent will pay off in the long run. It’s a risk… After years of living in this place, people move out. With their move away from the area, West Hollywood is changing, and new characters change the flair from what made it attractive to me in the first place. We have now homeless searching through our trash, not just for recyclable garbage…. They piss and defecate behind my car, sleep in the laundry room, steal, and even destroy property not chained to a metal post. All of it could anger me, but I am foremost concerned. I feel less pity for the landlord than I do for the baggers. What binds them in common is the resilience of accepting our reality; we need each other, and we need to help each other. This ego trip to survive with as much wealth as possible is an individual’s aim in dire times. The poor living repulses me in between the displayed wealth of our “throw-away” society. We live further apart.

Around the corner at my favorite breakfast place, I overheard a conversation this morning, which inspired me to write this next blog. The topic on the adjacent table was about selling sperm on e-bay. Both guys with a heavy foreign accent, apparently from different corners of this world, communicating in broken English. Let me be cynical – laugh with me. Here are two strangers bartering their sperm for cash on the internet, generating lots of dollars while helping populate the US with even more people. They discussed that there seems to be no other valuable source of income and guaranteed daily production! They pondered if it could be lucrative and that this “business idea” was tax-free? I’m thinking, that’s three crimes in one squirt! Possibly because of their accents, it appeared to be their debate concluded that their sperm would generate illegal babies.

I tried not to listen in on it.

Some religious and political extremists might have a say in this; seemingly, they believe life starts much earlier; against science wisdom when an embryonic cell is feasibly a human life. Even with my extended respect for all living, I can’t accept (yet) that a fetus is comparably equal to a life! If the church, or the Rush Limbaugh’s of society, could convince Congress to moderate male ejaculation and tax us for each “relief,” it would not be as “embraced” by the pro-life movement! Well, I don’t want the government to start charging, taxing, or moderating my curricular “moments of pleasure.” Women should not be taxed each time they “wastes” an egg (I’m sure a bible verse could support this theory), and I could further ponder how such ejaculatory policing could be implemented…

As long as we Americans quarrel, and debacle about conception, we seem to ignore the orphans, poor souls on the streets, and hungry families struggle to survive. How have we gotten into this mess? I think politics has been stagnant in this economic washdown. We should invest in education, wealth distribution, food sourcing, and maybe preserving this earth.  We destroy so quickly… we aim for success and dream about achieving this without effort.

The fastest way to reach success is doing it slowly!

Each of us could be more compassionate with others. It takes so little to make another smile, shine, and be happy. It takes a lot of trouble to diminish another. Gossip is fatal. Thinking is the resolution. Ask when you’re not sure… Void falling trap to a negative perspective since assumptions are the closest to lies. Pondering the most bizarre of ideas is creative and productive. I enjoyed their discussion; heck, I’d be rich if for every time I could have sold…. Okay, okay – I stop!

My point is; dire times spur creativity. It’s all good. History shows that imagination is heightened during periods just like the one affecting many souls in this world. What makes any crisis more foregone is the lack of unity. I happened to hug a second longer these days. One second more per hug; come-one! I hold a hand out invitingly and lay my other one atop when looking into sad eyes, unable to find a word of comfort. Not everything needs words!

I have my “go-to” phrase: “I’m proud you are my friend.”
Recognize a good side in others. It will reflect and make us strong and resilient. It unifies!

For myself, I smile and express joy: What a pretty flower, what a nice gesture, how wonderful of a day. I praise the fact I am. We need each other. Not until we accept the simple pleasures will change bring us the security we are accustomed to. It’s not about individual enrichment, being better, or being recognized as superior. Harmony comes to those who quickly acknowledge that we need to live in unity (with all the quirks that agitate us). Share more good thoughts. We all have something to share. Be nice. Simply that.

I went downstairs this morning and brought that dirty stranger my plastic bottles and asked him not to piss behind my car. He apologized and grinned. I would have hugged him, but he was a tad bit too grimy for me, although he had an amiable smile.

chef Raphael

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