Tag Archives: essay

“Dirty Money” ~ essay ~ by Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer

“Dirty Money” ~ essay ~ by Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer

Think of all the things you’ve done to “make money”.  That, in itself, is a ridiculous concept.  We don’t “make money”, the government does.  We, you and I, earn money.

I started earning money as a girl – granted an allowance for accomplishing certain chores.  Chores done, allowance paid.  No chores done, no allowance.  Some chores completed, partial payment.

Simple.

Time passed.

At 19 I landed my first “adult” job as a clerk-typist at a social service in Providence, Rhode Island.  Paid weekly.  Still living at home with my parents in Warwick, RI.  Within a few months I fledged myself.  Time to go out on my own.  One room apartment on the East Side, shared bath, no parking.  Independent. Earning money. Paying my own bills.

Time passed.

Many changes.

Some time later I began to see and understand better about what money, as a thing, did to folks.  The earning of it, who had more of it, who had less of it and how those two conditions stratified and segregated people from and against each other.  Judgements.  “Better than” because one had more money.  “Less than” because of having not so much money.

This is nothing to say about how the getting of that money perverted folks – what one did to get more, as if the flash and bling and apparent “power” that all that money was had made a person, somehow, superior or more influential, ultimately.

I still earn money and appreciate what it allows me to do – support a household, buy food, purchase something beautiful, share it to support a charitable cause or initiative.  There are times, however, when I think about the earlier tradition of barter – I have something you want, you have something I want, we determine a fair value, make the deal and each of us walks away satisfied and happy.  Simple.  Neverthemore, in most Westernized societies, barter has faded and it’s the dollar that rules.

Next time you think about money, think about what it really is – a coin or a decorated piece of paper – and, what it takes to earn it, how the having or not having it creates false and devastating divisions between us (as people and as nations); and, what’s the true value and human cost of “earning money”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(c) 6/8/ 2017

written by:  Jessan Dunn Otis|Writer

A new spin on K.I.S.S. ~ essay

A new spin on K.I.S.S. ~ essay

Sitting in my science class in junior high school, my desk was at the back of the room, situated to look down one of those long hall ways.

Someone was out of class and shouted out, “You’re stupid!” to someone I couldn’t see. That echoed ’round that long, empty hallway and smacked me right in my gut.  What an ugly word to shout at someone.

Years later someone shared K.I.S.S. with me and there was that ugly word again.  Despicable.

I’d have none of that.

From that time forward I changed that last “S” to “Sweetie”.  So much better.

Words have power.  They can heal or they hurt.

Mind what flows through your lips.  You are responsible for what you speak and what you don’t speak.

K(eep) I(t) S(imple) S(weetie).

K.I.S.S.

~~~~~

 

Leaders and the Strategy of Distraction – essay

There are a lot of things that can distract us these days. Should “leaders” fall into that grouping?

More than a few “leaders” employ the strategy of distraction, tossing out red herrings willy-nilly and expecting the populace to follow.

I’m not falling for it.  Listening with a long memory of “leaders” who have come before, the art of the strategy of distraction is one that is particularly dishonest, disingenuous and demeaning.

When asked a direct question, give a direct answer.  Simple enough.

We certainly live in interesting times.  Leaders need to lead forthrightly, without talking down to the populace nor intentionally and/or unintentionally employing their particular spin on the strategy of distraction.

Simple enough.

The Day After Thanksgiving 2015 – essay

blessings

The Day After Thanksgiving 2015 – essay

Today is Friday, November 27, 2015 – the day after Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was a quiet, thank-filled, beautiful day.

As usual, I was up early – before sunrise.  Quiet time.  Focus.  Reflect.

Bright sun.  Dry, crisp Rhode Island air.  Telephone conversations with family and friends.  E-mails to others.  Thanksgiving Day parade playing in the background.

Later in the morning – preparations of favorite dishes to contribute to the shared dinner in the afternoon. Mashed potatoes, with fresh-chopped garlic, fresh rosemary, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper.  Baby peas and pearl onions in a light cream sauce.  My mother’s recipe for pineapple upsidedown cake, with extra maraschino cherries as part of the decoration, begun, and, then, baked in a black, cast iron fry pan – as that’s the best way.  The perfume of fruits, fixings and fresh herbs blending into an aromatic, Thanksgiving day memory.

After we (Al, Gus-The Wonder Dog and I) arrived at my younger son’s home, the first whiff of turkey, with homemade cornbread stuffing, wafted down the stairs. Added to our feast was: Al’s homemade mashed carrots and turnips, with sweet butter, and; Ces’ turkey, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and brussel sprouts.  What a feast!  All washed down with a glass or two of dark amber Duchesse de Bourgogne.

What was required next was to temporarily step away from that table, with a few remnants of the fixings left on the plates.  One must leave room for the two desserts.

Stepping into the late afternoon air was a welcome respite, all three dogs (Gus, Betty and Lucy) bouncing around, still looking for a bit of extra food and (always) for our attentions.

By then, the day had turned unseasonably mild, with a damp sweetness beginning to come in.  No jackets required.  Sun lowering a bit more in the West.  That certain slant of light.  Three of us talked on the terrace of food and incidental things, attempting to wiggle out a bit more space.

After a sufficient respite, the desserts were laid out – the aforementioned pineapple upsidedown cake (served with Brooklyn Creamery Company’s Extra Thick, Single Cream) and a pumpkin pie, with pecan and praline crumble, decorated with rich, yellow whipped cream edging, courtesy of Pastiche; and, some rugelach, just for good measure.

I cannot recall that last time I was as full as I was yesterday.  One more bite and it would have spoiled everything.

Another retreat to the terrace, sunset by now.  Lights of the city coming up.  The trio of red, flashing warning lights at the top of the three stacks at the electric company flickering like erratic fireflies through the branches of the de-leafed, skeletal trees.  The low whir of other folks coming or going, crossing the I-Way, East to West to East.

More incidental conversations, each happily fed and full, enjoying the evening’s air and city silence.

The divided leftovers are still covered and untouched.  I’m just beginning to feel hungry, again.

A singularly memorable Thanksgiving Day 2015.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As a way of continuing to celebrate a Day of Thanks; and, to return many favors and blessings received, please accept The Thanksgiving Reader, created by Seth Godin and others.  This is a free download; and, can be generously shared, individually and/or globally.  Thank you, as always, Seth.

 

 

 

 

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” ~ Rumi #quote – essay

"Respond to every call that excites your spirit." ~ Rumi #quote

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” ~ Rumi #quote

The turn of a page and a new month arrives.  For those of us who live in certain territories, we’ve either “gained” or lost an hour in our day (how is that, truly, possible?).

Leaves turn golden, brilliant red, shades of vermillion and, then, drop resolutely to the damp earth.  Nature taking itself back into Nature – circles within circles.

As someone I know, often, says – “These are the days of the long shadows.”  Sunsets are more intense, as if to linger just a moment or two longer.  There’s a typical New England chill in the air that signals migrations, harvests, a kind of gathering together that, most likely, harkens back to archaic, atavistic times.

Today is, also, All Saints Day, a celebration of all saints, known and unknown – preceded by Halloween and followed by Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos).  These, too, are ancient, atavistic, deeply-held, socio-religious ceremonies.

All of this speaks to me in a language of smoldering embers, after the heat and brilliance of Summer. There’s a kind of “dampening down” at this time of year here.  Perhaps that’s why Rumi’s quote holds a certain meaning.  If it’s true that there’s beauty in everything, even this “dying down” and celebrating saints and Spirits is mysterious and exciting.  This is a kind of “call” that ignites me.

As I move through each day, there’s a singular sweetness because of the drying hydrangeas outside my window, the pungent leaf mold from the cut back urban garden, picking the last of the tomatoes, hearing the migrating calls of flocks of geese heading south, remembering other places, other people.

I hear Rumi’s call to respond to that which excites me, transcending apparent barriers of time and space.

What excites your Spirit?

Breaking silence: we have work to do – essay

“Today, like every other day, we wake up empty/and frightened….” ~ Rumi

There are days when the world is too much with us – when the news reports are about the terrifying things we continue to do to each other, when an unexpected telephone call too early in the morning changes everything and there’s nothing you can do about it but pray (for a long time) and to show them you love them, when where you were once able to see beauty in that certain slant of light or find solace in the quietude of that sunset or the ocean; or, the enduring love of that person who gently tries to prod you back to your better self falls on your deaf heart.  A long-loved friend dies – you were better than sisters to each other. The drowning of another friend’s 3 year old son strikes another shattering blow.  Like a slug being hit by salt, you curl up, tight.

You know you’re in trouble; but, can’t find your way back.

Slowly, by constancy, grace, force of will and that invisible Love, a small chink finds its way in.  Belly laughs return. Someone you’ve reached out to after your long silence interrupts your conversation, prays for you, and your heart lifts a little – amen.

No one said this life would be easy; and, sometimes it’s not. But, it’s worth it – every time.

Gratitude.

~ Jessan

“…Everything/has to do with loving and not loving/This night will pass./Then we have work to do.” ~ Rumi

Thank You ~ many languages

Thank You ~ many languages