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Friday, March 4, 2022

Break

 

Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.
– Dalai Lama


Take a break

I remind you this morning that as terrible as things appear to be, it's important to not let this feeling of pervasive doom overwhelm you.

Yes, yes, I know. It feels like the end of the world out there a lot lately. 

It does. 

And no, it's not that easy to remain optimistic or shake this sense of depression. I never said it was. 

But you need to do it anyway. 

Not just for yourself. 

Not just for those you care about. 

But for all of civilization. For the future. 

I interact with something on the order of half a million people every day, and I'm increasingly seeing a rising sense of dread. I feel like I'm drowning in it some days. 

And why not? Dread, doom, gloom, horror, terror, pessimism, these are the things that sell. That's what make you the money. 

Rage, that's what gets you clicks and likes and that -- that terrible popularity -- is the real currency of our modern world. 

Hate sells, that's where the profits are -- and the prophets

Trepidation, fear, anxiety, those are what put asses in seats. That's why religion and politics are so popular. Be afraid. That's the message of both, be afraid, be afraid, fear God, fear the the Commies, fear the Socialists, fear the fascists, fear immigrants and gay people and trans kids and vaccines and don't forget to put your money in the plate. 

Folks, the world is always going to hell. 

Always. 

Every damn day. 

It's always something, war, plague, disaster, angry gods, burning nuclear power plants, fire and poison toads falling from the sky, Nickelback. Something. 

Social media makes it worse because we tend to see the things we want to see, doom-scrolling it's called, and we select for it. We go looking for the things that make us afraid, that make us feel this sense of doom and dread and fear. 

This isn't new, of course. Religion has done it for millennia. Look at the Christian Bible. That second part, the whole second half of the book, it's about hope, right? About being a better person and making the world a better place. But you drive around my little Southern Town, and every alleged Christian church has a sign out front and it's all doom and dread and fear and Hell. The sign never says "Do upon to others as you would have them do unto you." It's never "feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick." It's never any of the kind, optimistic words their prophet allegedly said. No, it's always fear and wrath and the threats of a small and miserable god. Inside, it's the same, fire and brimstone and damnation and what kind of moral and loving god has to threaten his followers with eternal torture?

But without that fear, no one shows up. 

There's no profit in kindness and optimism. 

It's the same with politics. Any politician who pushes a message of hope and optimism, fuck that guy. We want anger and rage and ... well, yeah, just look around. I post a thread about Nazis, something that took me ten minutes to whip out, I get ten thousand likes and retweets and shares. But I post a picture of nature, a bee in flight for example, an image that is the culmination of literally years of effort and experience and skill, the pinnacle of the state of the art, I get five comments and one of them is something about how it reminds the commenter of Donald Trump. 

I'm not complaining, I'm simply pointing out that when we moan about how everything is terrible, it's often because we are deliberately ignoring the things that aren't

I see this every day. Americans drive $70,000 trucks, smoke $200 worth of cigarettes each month, consume more calories in day than half the world gets in a week, watch 900 channels of cable TV, and bitch endlessly about how terrible they have it -- how they're just like the Jews being herded into the gas chambers, how they're oppressed worse than the slaves, how their privileged lives are just the worse thing ever. And they feel this way because the man in the pulpit, the man on the TV, the man they voted for tells them how they are victims, how they're being oppressed, how terrible they have it every damn day. 

You know, it's easy to think everything is terrible and getting more terrible when you spend all day looking at terrible things. 

There are a lot of loud shitty people in the world, and the Information Age gives them all a platform to shout their rotten halitosis in your face all day. 

Look, I'm not saying you should dismiss what's happening in the world. Not at all. 

I'm not saying you should ignore all those terrible things, the hate, the injustice, the misery. 

But take the time to look for the good things too. For your own sake. 

Block the haters, fight only on your terms, and take a break when you need it.

Here's a picture of a bee. 


I'm taking the Mini and my wife and going to drive the beach road. 

See you tomorrow. 

123 comments:

  1. Stop and smell some roses along the way.

    EMH

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    1. If you're lucky that rose will have some bees on it.

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  2. Thanks, Jim. In the words of the ancient after-shave commercial: "Thanks. I needed that." I suspect a whole lot of people do as well.

    Take care and have a wonderful day on the beach road. You're a treasure, sir.

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  3. Thank you for the reminder and the wonderful pictures of bees. They really do make the day brighter.

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    1. Thank god it wasn't something about 'murder hornets'! :-)

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  4. Such a great piece. Thanks, Jim. We all need the reminder once in a while.

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  5. Thank you for that much needed kick in the butt. Tomorrow the sun is going to be shining and warming the Earth here in NW Ohio...the re-birth after a cold, dark, winter. Perhaps we shall see the same in humanity...once the cold, dark winter has passed.

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  6. I'm sorry I don't say more about the bee pictures. I've been particularly fond of your water droplet series (and have been dreaming about having one of those over my someday-fireplace), but the photographs are part of what I really love about your work. Thank you for your art.

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  7. I love your bee photo. Exquisite.
    And your essay is an excellent reminder. I'm old, post WWII. I know how good middleclass Americans have had it. I'm thankful every day.

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  8. I have often noticed that your literally amazing photography doesn't get as much "action" as your political musings, and I always think to myself how sad that is and how hypocritical it is of us, your followers.
    Both your musings and photographs are gifts to us. I just want you to know that I appreciate them all.
    Thank you from a faithful follower. And Illegitimi Non Carborundum.

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  9. Thank you for the picture and the post. It was a long week and your words and art helped make this Friday a little brighter. Off to take your advice. Cheers.

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  10. Good piece Jim. Staying positive is about the best thing we can do, for each other and ourselves. Thanks for the reminder.

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  11. For the record, i check out all pictures, i will start acknowledging that 🙂

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  12. Thank you for that. I swear, I was feeling so down today and your article made me pause and smile.

    Thanks, I needed that. Love the Bee.

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  13. Can't think of anything to say other than thank you.

    Really needed to read this today. I should probably read it every day, as soon as I get out of bed.

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  14. Thanks Jim. You offer the calming words that my bad heart needs. The world has had one trauma after another. I've seen some really idiotic "solutions" to this new aggression. All of them lead us to a worldwide conflict.

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  15. Thank you for this post (and for the lovely photograph)...I needed them today. You are one talented craftsman in both domains.

    The "Ain't it Awful!" club is a sinister group - easy to join and harder to leave than a cult. It is a shame that something that had the potential to lift humans up (the store of knowledge that is the internet writ large) has devolved into a dealer for dopamine addicts.

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  16. How to get this message out to, and into the consciousness of, those who need the most?

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  17. Thank you for this.

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  18. Thank you. Ugly truth and beauty at the same time.

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  19. Enjoy the beach, enjoy your wife, and thank you for reminding me that optimism & hope are not filthy words. The bee is quite lovely,thank you.

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  20. Like your pictures, takes my mind off life's problems. I'm, of course, outraged by Putin, but for the last two years Linda has had major recurring health problems, and every fucking time we think there's a light at the end of the tunnel, it turns into a goddamned train. We are trying to get her well enough so that we can move to the Yuma AZ area to get her to a low elevation to ease her lungs and get her off O2 24/7 but every time something else pops up. I can think of what a smart MF I was to spend 30 years in the military, but I mostly blundered along doing my job, never thinking about the future and how much I'm now grateful for Medicare/Tricare for keeping her alive. Keep the pictures of bugs coming, too bad you catch so much BS for pictures of dogs. Stan.

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  21. I thought I was being childish for avoiding the news, but there's only so much I can take. Thank you, Jim. You always find a perspective that shows the depth of your humanity. The sun is out and I think I will take the dog out for a walk.

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  22. Spot on. The voice of reason and wisdom.

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  23. Thank you for all your posts. Know that you are appreciated for being a light in the putrid fog of this world.

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  24. Thank you for all your posts. Know that you are appreciated for being a light in the putrid fog of this world.

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  25. Thank you for this reminder.

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  26. Have a great weekend, love to the wife and dogs.

    I’ve been taking a break myself. It’s good for your mental health and physical health Thanks for the reminder.

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  27. Love that you put this up today, as yesterday I listened to a talk and conversation with Alexandria Cousteau (granddaughter of Jacques). Yes things are bad, but she talked hopefully about people farming seaweed and getting paid for carbon offsets, young people like Greta T. standing up for the environment and being heard, and amazing finds like bacteria in the ocean learning to consume plastic (nature abhors a vacuum, you know). She also recommended taking regular breaks from media. Good stuff!

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  28. Thank you for the reminder, Jim, and glad to hear you're taking your own advice, too. I've been going for a long walk every morning since just before the pandemic hit, watching for the small changes that mark the start of the new season. Here in the Godless Northeast, the snowdrops are blooming, the daffodils are cautiously poking their heads out of the ground, the andromedas are showing color, and the buds on the rhododendrons are swelling. Yesterday I saw three Great Blue Herons on a mission to reclaim the best nests in the local rookery. Spring returns, and there's not a damn thing we can do to stop it!
    Be well.

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  29. The most important message of the day, Thank you for reminding us. Enjoy the beach, the day, and everything around you. Peace.

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  30. Thanks Jim I hope you and the wife enjoy the drive.

    ANd thanks for all the cool photos. Although you were a military intelligence officer, those were not taken with a concealable spy camera.

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  31. (chuckled at Nickelback) - thank you Chief! Great words as always - very hard to keep the lamp lit in these days of darkness. Maybe one day humanity will find itself and turn away from the wrongs, but until that day we must keep moving forward, despite the darkness, despite the fear, but for the better of us all.

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  32. I am bookmarking this post to read as often as I can. Thank you.

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  33. You have nailed the reason social media has not seen me much of late. Re: church, one day I shared a sandwich luncheon with a renowned theologian while a young seminarian. I'll never forget his words. "Psychotherapy is not good for our parishioners because it frees them from needing us." That was the beginning of the end of my relationship to the church. He nailed it. He wanted us to become efficient slavemasters.

    Thank you for posting here, Jim. I don't see your posts on FB anymore. And thank you for the bee.

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  34. I've been trying to tell myself this for months now. Thank you for the push towards where I need to go.

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  35. Your marvellous photos are much appreciated, especially at the moment. Thank you!

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  36. Thank you for bringing us the bees, especially the bee napping in an azalea ❤️.

    I do usually try to see the wonder in a brilliant sunset, or hear the song birds gathering at my feeders.

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  37. Thank you, Jim.
    It helps to have someone remind us to smell the flowers.
    Just don’t inhale the bee, lol.

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  38. I really needed this. I feel like I'm on the verge of tears every single day. Thanks for this. And thanks for the bee photos, Jim.

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  39. Thanks! It's too easy to let the bad overwhelm the good, especially in these times.

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  40. I love that bee. I want to do him as a cross stitch.

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  41. Absolutely, Jim. I'm reminded of training in musical ensembles, where we were trained to stagger our breathing, rather than all taking in breath at the end of a phrase. The result was a continuous river of sound from the group as a whole. In the same way, each of us needs to take a break from the constant sorrow, outrage and the work it demands of us to fight for good. Step out from time to time -- others will cover for you, just as you'll step in for them when they need a break.

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  42. I LOVE the bee photo! Gorgeous!

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  43. This weekend will be a bit of a break for me from the news cycle. Camping, throwing Scouts off a 50' cliff on Saturday. (No, really...doing rock climbing and rappelling so I'll belay the Scouts as they rappel down the cliff.) Good mental reset from a crazy week.

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  44. The brilliant yellowdaffodils on the front bank are beginning to open. There is still all kinds of beauty in the world. I plan to drink it in at every opportunity.Thanks, Jim.

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  45. After previously swearing off social media for about a month, I've been oozing back into Twitter in the last week or so, primarily for news about what's happening in Ukraine. It's most definitely messing me up again, even though I'm only checking yours, Heather Cox Richardson's, and "Angry Staffer"s.
    Your words mirror what that little voice has been telling me again: time to back off once more.
    I will check in with you all a bit less compulsively in the next while. Hopefully I'll see anything urgent when I check Heather CR's blog and the Guardian as I blearily drink my morning coffee.
    Thanks for the reality check. :)

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  46. Too damn right! Just be sure that when you stop to smell the roses, you don't accidentally inhale a bee... 《grin, duck, and run》

    And why does everyone hate Nickelback?

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  47. Including Nickleback in the "It's always something..." sentence gave me a good laugh. Thank you for that!

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  48. Your photos are amazing, and they do remind me to look for the beauty out there. Thank you for that. And while the complexity of the composition is fascinating, I have to admit, I also love the pictures of your doggos being silly. Because a good laugh goes a long way these days. Enjoy your drive. Salty sea air is the best.

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  49. Thank you for the reminder and your bee photos. I love your nature shots. Wishing you and your wife a lovely day.

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  50. Love the bees. Love a drive in a Mini on a beautiful day. Relax and enjoy!

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  51. Thanks for the bee...and the reminder to be mindful of what we consume. Have a great day at the beach!

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  52. Well said, Jim. I have to take time away from all the hatred, doom, gloom, and just plain vileness, in order to keep a modicum of sanity. There is beauty and good in the world, but we have to actively pursue it. Having animals to care for helps, as does getting out in nature. Do something you love with someone you love, and turn off the gadgets for awhile.

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  53. Beautiful sentiments. Thank you.

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  54. I'm too busy managing a crisis to chill. But I do feel where you're coming from. I'm gonna go watch Cyrano this weekend. Fuck the Batman, i don't need dark edgy grim right now.

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  55. I learned the lesson about detaching from the bad news during the first Gulf War, when I, living alone, sank into the news morass with the cable TV news constantly going and me sleeping on the couch in front of it. Now I leaven this stuff with other stuff. I’m also prone to pointing out that in a lot of respects things *have* gotten better. There’s a long way to go, sure, and the wreckers are going hard, and it can get exhausting, but look back. That’s a long distance we’ve come.

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  56. Mini? There's a post I'd read.

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  57. I love your bee pictures and the crazy dog pictures. Enjoy the beach road and I hope you took your camera. Maybe you'll get a good sunset to share.

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  58. Years ago I wanted to prove to my kids that most people are just fine and the world isn't full of terrible people. I pinned a dollar bill to my company car's radio antenna (told you it was a while back) and drove. My territory included Cleveland OH and Pittsburgh PA. I parked a lot on city streets, often in neighborhoods thought to be 'bad'. That bill lasted almost a year before somebody snatched it.
    Most people most of the time are great. I refuse to succumb to fear.

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  59. Most people most of the time are kind and helpful. I refuse to succumb to fear.

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  60. Mr. Wright, I am most grateful for your recent series of photos of bees in pink azaleas. They remind me that in some parts of the world azaleas and bees are in their glory and someday very soon, in my part of the world where it's currently trending warmer and sunnier by the day, there will be pink azaleas too. Keep 'em coming, please.

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  61. Thanks! I needed that! You say you're taking the Mini? Did you get rid of that butt-ugly Mustang?

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  62. Life is a bed of roses, just watch out for the pricks.

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  63. I’m so lucky to live in a place where I have such a pretty yard to admire. Working to make green things grow, and feeding the birds and hummies and watching their antics is great for what ails me. I’m furious that a soulless asshole with a grudge is destroying people and holding the world hostage, but the gorgeous art you post, and enjoying nature give me hope that’s we may all survive this yet. Thanks for sharing your incredible talent with us.

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  64. Thank you, Jim. You're right. And very much appreciated.

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  65. Wiser words may never have been written.

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  66. Nice bee. Must have been tough to get the picture in focus while it was in flight. Have a nice day at the beach.

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  67. "Nickelback" -- thank you for the first laugh in a week.

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  68. Your photographs grace many of my walls and bring me hours of peace. Now your words will ease my stress. You are a treasure.

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  69. Boy, did I ever need this one. Cheers! :-D

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  70. You are an awesome photographer, sir. You probably don't hear that often enough, but I love your photos as well as the explanations on how you got the shots and the difficulties involved. Thanks for everything you are and do.

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  71. I can not wait for the bees to come back to my deck so I can photograph them and put my face right close to their cute little fuzzy butts and watch them gather their pollen and fly to the next flower. I get such a kick out of that. Bees are precious and I am grateful for them everyday. But its cold and my deck is still covered in snow so I thank you Jim for the lovely bee photography.

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  72. I love the Bee pictures, and the birds and the flowers.

    I also appreciate the reminder that the world isn’t that crap - or more accurately it’s always this crap and, in fact, for most of history and for many more people, it’s a lot more crap.

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  73. Thank you for that reminder. And you do take amazing pictures!

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  74. There are some absolutely beautiful purple crocuses growing in a little patch in my front yard.
    They're growing where I planted a dozen of the little bulbs four years ago, next to a tree stump that the landlord had removed two years later. I searched for them before that happened, found only a couple, and stood sadly watching the tree guy's machine chewing up the ground for several feet past the stump in all directions to remove the larger roots that day.
    Yet today there are purple crohkies blooming amidst slender stripey green leaves in that spot in the yard.
    :)

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  75. Well said, I fully agree. There is still so much beauty in this world, and you can always ALWAYS spread kindness and joy wherever you go, it costs you nothing. Thanks Jim, for being one of my favorite people on the internet.

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  76. I'm in the middle of a week-long break from my FB. My mood has lifted every day. This helped even more. Commented have said all I wanted to say but I wanted to add my thanks. You educate and lift us. Thank you.

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  77. Actually, you know what you should do? Absolutely nothing different than what you do every day. The photos are simply amazing. The commentary, fiction, and essays razor sharp. Thank you.

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  78. First of all:

    "It's always something, war, plague, disaster, angry gods, burning nuclear power plants, fire and poison toads falling from the sky, Nickelback..."

    You forgot "forgetting that it's critically unwise to read a really snarky page and simultaneously take a big gulp of Cherry Pepsi, as you will invariably cause yourself a carbonated nasal lavage and an entire keyboard covered in soda residue."

    ::::wipes off keyboard, AGAIN::::

    Now, in regards to the main thesis of this piece and your bee pictures:

    How can anyone on earth maintain total pessimism when the planet is populated by objects colored THAT shade of pink??? That fuschia shade is what "everything is going to be just fine" would look like if it had a color.

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  79. Thanks! Most helpful. Dwelling on the gloom all the time is not healthy. I love my life, in spite of the R's.

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  80. Great bee, but I'm afraid it's the Nickelback comment that wins me over on this one. Two bonus points awarded!

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  81. Sitting here in significant pain tonight trying to codify my thoughts.
    Seems to me that the trouble with making a positive political promise is that if you fail to make good on it, your constituents will blame you.
    The advantage of sowing hate and fear against a scapegoat is that if you fail to get rid of the scapegoat, your constituents will blame the goat.

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  82. You are absolutely right and gosh, those pictures of the bees are wonderful! Thank you so very much!

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  83. Thanks for your writing, thanks for your thoughts, and thanks for your incredible photographs.
    If I didn't already support you on Patreon I'd start, just for the profits/prophets line. That line gives the bees a run for their money.

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  84. Excellent as always. Every time someone mentions driving a Mini, I get visions of Ziva David driving like she's in the Paris to Dakar rally. Have fun.

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  85. Damn. Great Bee. Seriously.

    I rarely put a macro lens on my camera anymore-it takes work and preparation and I tend toward lazy and indolent.

    I almost never see them first hand because I stay away from twitter and FB and the like because I just won't play. I certainly appreciate that you do, like the warrior you are. Lazy, indolent and selfish I should have said.

    Thanks for fighting the fight. It needs to be and you do it well.

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  86. I would be lost without your daily pics and missives. I don’t post much anymore. That may well be a mistake. Thank you for you.

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  87. Wonderful advice! Find your joy. Every day. Live in it. Spread that sh$t around. This is how we make the world a better place... Inside out...one person at a time...ourselves. BE well Jim ☺️

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  88. Thanks for all the photos . Especially like the water shots , and the ones of the dogs . I have to admit though , I wouldn't mind seeing some of your expertise directed at the Mini , since I'm a car guy . Enjoy your ride , and thanks for all you've given us .

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  89. So very true. Thank you for putting it into words 💞

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  90. This post makes me feel full of gratitude: for you, your writings AND your gorgeous photography (BEE!!) . . . and indeed for the deep beauty that does thankfully persist in this world.

    Enjoy the break, your wife and the ride in the Mini - you deserve it.

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  91. Have fun! Told my brother to listen to some music and remember he was fortunate enough to live during the period of the greatest musicians ever. He smiled and did just that.

    Have to grab onto the fact that Germans are picking up refugees at the Berlin station and providing them with someplace to stay. That evil can knock us back, but never down. Have to hope that sanity will win out, if not there isn't much I can do about it, but I still won't accept it is inevitable.

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  92. I love your bee. It makes me smile. Much like my tripodal pit mix sleeping upside down with his head hanging off the seat of the recliner, when he can get the terriers to let him have it. *chuckle* I enjoy what you have to say.

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  93. I could handle most everything, but... *Nickleback?!?* That's hittin' below the belt, Jim.

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  94. Went for a hilly bikeride..Parmalee Rd was beautiful 🚲..Life can be good despite all the pretend misery...

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  95. Perspective is everything. My garden is being planted, my great-great-grandniece spends weekends here and I've learned about her favorite cartoon horse. The dog wants to walk and we walk all over the neighborhood. Life is what we make of it moment by moment. My FB feed is filled with flowers and owls and birds as well as commentary. I love your photos, have bought some and tell others about them far more often than I talk about your writing. Enjoy your day.

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  96. Thank you for this reminder .. I needed it today .. reading about Re-Thugs tweeting President Zelensky's location was a huge sucker punch that I was not expecting - I thought the adults in charge would NOT invite them to any meetings requiring silence .. I was wrong .. I will not make that mistake again.

    .. I love all of your photos .. they are magnificent and they are helping me focus on the fact the world is still spinning with me and Little Doggie meandering through our retirement believing that everything will turn out okay somehow. I am NOT in charge of that somehow - I am in charge of believing it exists and will happen for our benefit. IF I am wrong .. I will be surprised .. and will do my best to look at it as a minor setback & not the end of the world.

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  97. Thank you for this reminder.

    And while I admire your photography, I'm nowhere near good enough to post something worthwhile here visually, but here's a *song* about bumblebees that I always liked:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ewb8XCz-JjY

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  98. Literally every church in which I've spent significant time featured feeding the hungry and visiting the sick. Sorry your experience is different. But you're right; only a few were growing.

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  99. Outstanding... and I shared it. Thanks, Jim.

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  100. I keep going back to this, becasue I need it in the insanity that the world is devolving into. Thank you for this and the bee pictures.

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  101. If we don't stop & smell the roses, we'd go crazy.
    I love that song. Paul got me the Mac Davis 8-track when we were dating.
    Yeah. I'm THAT old.
    I loved your essay. I hope you're taking a vacay to see your family.

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  102. I have hesitated to comment because 11 years ago I suffered a serious stroke that left me practically mute in voice and writing. I was seriously eloquent and now I can barely write. I have had the good fortune to have traveled through all of the USA, usually on blue highways and have beauty in every nook and cranny possible. I admire the area that you live in in it's natural environment; its skies and water, insects, fish, mammals and plants. Your skill in evoking that beauty shows both disciplined effort, attention and good choice of tools. I recognize that my life is the better for those efforts. Your political commentary allows me to see in print many of the feelings I hold without needing to form those now difficult phrasings and I often pass your writing along to people I love and feel companion to. Thanks for your eloquence and frankness. That you are willing to allow a glimpse around the health issues you and your family have had shows courage nd humility. For selfish reasons (among others) I hope that you solder on through those issues and remain with us for many, many productive years. Thanks for being the upright person you are.

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  103. Thank you very much for all the pictures. I enjoy seeing them at least as much as reading your writing. Best wishes always.

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