thejessence

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. – Aristotle


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Silent Symphony and Magic

Have you ever sat in silence and just listened to the noise? The ticking of the clock, the deep breath of a puppy fast asleep, the wind as it winds through rows of houses, the creeks and pops of a shifting structure, the blood pumping through your ears, all creating the symphony that literally is the sound of silence.

I doubt many of us experience silence any more between our smartphone addiction and the constant compulsion to be entertained.

For almost a year now, I’ve been preoccupied with the ‘Outlander’ book series by Diana Gabaldon, which mostly takes place in the 1700s and leaves me endlessly wondering how I would function in a time outside of my own.

The necessity of entertainment is replaced with the essential function of living. Binge watching Netflix is replaced with making sure there is food for dinner. Everyone has a job to do, and time is not to be wasted.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about churning butter, boiling water to wash the clothes I’ve been wearing for the last week or even spending 30 minutes trying to light a fire.

I do have to be concerned with not eating or wearing the same thing two days in a row, and keeping up with everyone else’s daily “struggles” on social media. #FirstWorldProbs

Even my dogs’ purpose would shift from serving as household enjoyment to hunting and aiding in the home’s survival. However, it’s difficult for me to picture two miniature dachshunds doing anything except squeaking a fuzzy toy and snuggling on a pile of blankets.

It’s almost terrifying to imagine a world of silence without the technology and bustling lifestyle we’re used to today. How does one survive without contacts to correct your vision, a microwave to heat up a bite to eat or a television to sustain a level of noise to mute the silence?

I wouldn’t know the first thing about baking bread from scratch, butchering a chicken, gathering edible plants or building a fire without a match or lighter.

I can tell you how to turn on the XBox with voice commands, flicking the light switch to the ‘on’ direction, which button to press on the microwave based upon the food you want to eat and how to update your status on Facebook. I can’t tell you how any of this stuff actually works.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” -Arthur C. Clarke

 


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With A Suitcase and One Foot On the Train

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Outside of my hotel window, looking out on the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Photo by: Jessica McBride

I sat on the carpet surrounded in darkness in my hotel room in New Orleans, in front of my floor to ceiling window, listening to House of the Rising Sun and eating peanut butter M&Ms.

Luckily I had come back with something other than the putrid pee smell of Bourbon Street and peddlers selling their various wares.

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My fried fish po’ boy, chicken and sausage gumbo and tabasco infused mayo. Photo by: Jessica McBride

I guess there’s a reason gambling men went to New Orleans. The first moments into the French Quarter made me want to run back to the shelter of my hotel and not venture out until it was time to fly home.

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Nothing more French than a fleur. Photo by: Jessica McBride

But, the street performances were beautiful, and my French connection to the city was enough to take hold. OK, and the beignets.

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By the way, Cafe Du Monde is open 24 hours. Photo by: Jessica McBride

In the picturesque ideal of southern charm and big city vices, I also visited the World War II museum. Highly recommended by the way. Spend the extra money and see the 4D presentation of the war narrated by Tom Hanks. After 30 minutes, you’ll come out head high, chest out, bleeding red, white, and blue with tears running down your face and a new perspective of the stars and stripes.

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Photo by: Jessica McBride

As in all my other travels, there is too much to see and so little time. I think that’s a good thing. It’s a draw to a place where the experience pulls you back for the long lasting memories.

Once you catch the travel bug there’s no cure for the syndrome other than a regular dose of adventure, sight-seeing, and voyages. It’s also extremely contagious, just ask a few of us sufferers.

Seeing how others live and view the world and life gives you an appreciation and understanding that is indescribable. It also makes you value and miss the home that you have built with those you love. I think that’s the most potent component of seeing the world.

Sometimes we need a reminder to appreciate the ranch dressing and Dr. Pepper back home.

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A canon, a Scot, a Catholic church, in a historic French city that only a beautiful American sunset can bring together. Photo by: Jessica McBride

 

 


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Power of the Pen

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I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people.
-Joseph Pulitzer http://www.brainyquote.com

I’m a fan of the Toby McGuire Spider-Man movies. If you ever needed a reason to question my movie choices, you have found your ammo.

Film aside, I have a different point to make. Fairly early in the first movie Uncle Ben tells Peter that with great power comes great responsibility.

The duties of a journalist can be summed up with this statement. As a writer I have the power to influence your opinion. Not only does my writing intrigue you with the title and headline, but it gives you an angle from which to view someone or an issue.

Journalism gives you an informational background from which you form your opinion. In essence, I have the power to tell you what to think.

“I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequaled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people.” -Joseph Pulitzer
ww.brainyquote.com

I must be responsible with this power. I must make decisions not on the basis of my own beliefs, but on the information my reader needs to know. It seems like you would just sit down and write, but it takes effort and a conscious decision on what information is extraneous and what will move the audience to understanding.

Some journalists do just write, and that’s ok. The greater good that comes from journalism is achieved when writers are allowed to share the information they’ve experienced with their readers.

Charlie Hebdo may draw cartoons, and you may or may not agree with them. But to censor outlets such as this will prove to be a great disservice to the industry and readers.

Je Suis Charlie.


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Plague of Terror

It has come to the point that saying Ebola in a clinic is equivalent to shouting bomb on a plane.

Let me preface my opinion by saying that Ebola is a medical emergency that we need to research, treat and wipe off the map. We need to take the threat seriously.

However, living your life in a state of paranoia because of the illness is ludicrous. Yes, it’s scary; but there’s nothing you can do about it other than stay away from Africa.

Americans should be more worried about flu, measles, tuberculosis and HIV.

There are individuals calling for the cessation of flights from Africa. That seems like the solution until you realize that most people flying out of the infected areas are hopping to Europe or another location prior to landing in the U.S.

There are individuals calling for extreme screenings at airports. A test for Ebola isn’t instantaneous. Without barging on someone’s privacy, screening for fever and asking simple questions is about the limit.

I admit that it is scary that Ebola has entered the U.S., and I know that officials have failed in areas. But the only way to truly fight the disease is to let health experts figure out what is going on, learn from their mistakes and do what they need to do to prevent it from getting out of hand. A few may end up with the disease; that’s to be expected.

I watch the news in the morning and receive news alerts throughout the day about somebody was on a cruise with someone who might have been in the vicinity of someone who has/had Ebola. Really? The media is blowing the entire issue out of proportion and the readers are relishing it. It’s almost like a bad horror movie. I almost hope the zombies are next.

My number one annoyance is that people do not read the entire news article or do not research the full issue before they start belligerently posting their terrorizing social media updates about how they just know it’s going to spread and we’re all doomed. Maybe it will. I’m not saying it’s not possible; I’m saying that as far as the experts know it shouldn’t get out of control in the U.S. Your fear is more contagious and is the epidemic we need to cure first.

Your fear is justified. It’s a scary situation. However, know the facts and understand what is truly going on. The majority of people are misinformed and as a few politicians and columnists have already stated, the fear mongers are running rampant.

If you don’t know the whole story, don’t discuss it like you’re a professional on the front line. If you know pieces of what’s going on, try to fit them together to see the whole picture.


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There’s a Reason They Call It Happily Ever After

Recently, I celebrated two years of being married to my best friend. It’s hard for me to believe it’s already been that long, but they say time flies as you get older.

We’ve watched friends date and break up. We’ve watched friends who we didn’t think were meant for each other develop a relationship. We’ve watched friends that we thought were made for forever fade faster than jeans.

My father always said that love was a choice. He said that it wasn’t a fuzzy feeling that you act on, but a constant choice to love a person for forever.

I recently read the ‘Divergent’ series, and one of the characters decides that a loving relationship is the decision to forgive and keep forgiving that person.

I have to say, these beliefs explain my view better than I ever could.

I never said that the decision or choice is easy. Every relationship has its problems, and it’s always about how you get through them together. Randy and I have faced easy and tough decisions; and we’ll face even tougher ones as time goes on, but one thing I can say is that we decide them together and we know that we are both better for that.

I think when you take a step back and acknowledge that love and relationships are constant decisions, it makes understanding relationships easier. I feel our relationship has always been easy. We don’t have to force ourselves into a mold or fight and argue on a daily basis. We just… well, live. It’s like breathing.

I’m sure other couples have their own advice; maybe it’s even better than mine.  But at the end of the day, if you are happy and constantly in love with the person that you come home to every day; then you must be doing something right.


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The Fall and the Rise

I remember.  But then again it’s fuzzy.

My sophomore year of high school I had band first period.  There was a TV in the band hall, but it rarely worked.  We were practicing our marching music.  Actually, I’m not real sure why we were in the band hall at all.  Usually we were out at the practice field.

The day began just as any other day, but about 15 minutes before class ended the TV came on; and from there, I would watch TV for the rest of the day.

It was mostly confusing about what exactly was going on, but I gathered something bad in New York.

I arrived in French class just in time to watch the first tower fall.  I would watch the second fall in the same class.  No one really talked.  I think everyone was just trying to comprehend what was going on, and wonder if our little border town would suffer the same fate.

Class by class, we did nothing.  We talked, we watched the TV.  No instruction was given.  Sometimes teachers would chime in making statements like, “the world will never be the same,” or “your life will forever be effected.”  I didn’t realize what exactly that meant at the time.

Kids cried.  Most were just quiet.  The border was shutdown.  The air force base was shut down.  Kids that lived in Mexico or on base frantically tried to call their parents to figure out how they were going to get home.

For those of us that were old enough, we remember exactly where we were and exactly what we did.  I wonder if the effect was anything similar for generations before during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

I can’t imagine being in either place on Sept. 11 or Dec. 7.

Years later we still remember.  We watch video clips and are immediately taken back to that very day.

On that day, we realized we were all human.  We realized that could happen to any of us.  We realized we weren’t invincible.  We realized some would lose their lives.  We realized that some of those might be close to us.  We realized that families would suffer.  We connected as a group in those moments and bound together unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

 


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Gooooooooaaaaaaaaalllllllllll!

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you know anything about the United States, you know that we love our sports.  In fact, our professional athletes make so much money it’s ridiculous.

Our athletes dominate at sporting events, whether it is basketball, swimming or the Olympics. Our athletes are so impressive, other countries find themselves trying to dominate the sports we could care less about, like curling.

Used to the fútbol craze was that of another country, but this year’s U.S. soccer team and the World Cup in Brazil is slowly making its way into the hearts of Americans.

I played a little soccer growing up.  It was actually one of the few sports I played that I actually enjoyed.  I wasn’t tall enough for basketball.  I didn’t have enough hand-eye coordination for softball.  But years of ballet made me good on my feet.

After I quit playing soccer, I was licensed to referee.  Reffing wasn’t my cup of tea.  I didn’t care for the rowdy parents.  But playing soccer and knowing the rules helped when I had to cheer at games in high school.

Growing up on the border, soccer was so very popular.  At the end of practice we would play World Cup and scrimmage our way to the championship.

It’s interesting to me that a majority of Americans do not know the first thing about the world’s most popular sport.

The sport still struggles with popularity, and though the U.S. teams have been mediocre, Americans seem to not be interested in the game itself, but just winning.

Soccer isn’t a fast-paced sport, and that may be why it fails to meet the eye of the entertainment demanding American.  Though, when the World Cup appears on TV, every American cheers their team on even though the only thing they know about the sport is screaming the word “goal” like a lunatic.

Maybe this time will be the time.  Maybe soccer will stick in the minds of Americans when there’s not a global competition.  Maybe it’ll quickly fall away like it has time after time in the “dead season.”

Maybe it’s not the sports that Americans actually enjoy.  Maybe it is the speed of the player, the glamour of the score and the thrill of the win.