Monday, November 24, 2014

Life Happens

Why can’t life be more organized? I make plans, try to account for things that could go wrong, build in contingencies and “fudge factors” for all the things that could happen that I didn’t know, and that I didn’t know I didn’t know, and yet at the end of the day/month/year/life it still turns out as Robert Burns wrote (supposedly after unintentionally ploughing up a nest of mice in his field):
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Loosely, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. The second part about getting pain when you’re hoping for joy may sound a bit pessimistic, but we don’t generally plan for – as in WANT to achieve – grief and pain, so when our plans are thwarted, where else would we be? Sometimes things work out the way we plan it, but, by and large, we are left scrambling to turn things around to where we think they should be.
Let’s face it, life isn’t an efficiency program. How often have you thought that it would run more smoothly if things worked differently? Life isn’t fair (how many times do we have to listen to that complaint?) – no matter how hard you try, you can’t force fairness, any more than you can change the weather.
Life is what it is – it’s not what you want it to be.
I believe life is a never-ending class in which tests are thrown at you (mostly unscheduled pop-tests), and our task is to make the best of the situation and learn from it. We’re supposed to GROW and EVOLVE.
How do we learn best? Total emersion works for languages. The Marines and other military organizations have their own forms of total emersion. That’s what LIFE is – most of the time, YOU REALLY DON’T GET TO TAKE A BREAK FROM LIVING (and what would that be called, exactly?)
Despite what you’ve heard, life isn’t the game where HE WHO HAS THE MOST TOYS WINS. The material goods are a sideshow; what happens inside of you by the end is what truly matters. It’s up to each of us to make the best of our days before we move on.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “Dead End Jobs”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Monday, November 17, 2014

What To Do With All This Holiday Convenience

Here we are entering the HOLIDAY SEASON.
No, strike that – it’s already here. I’ve gotten behind the times (not unusual) – the Holiday Season used to start with Thanksgiving, but it looks like it now starts right after Halloween, in the beginning of November. First Sunday night of the month, I was out driving with my wife, trying to figure why there was so much traffic on road. It looked like the CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS were already out in force.
Like I said, I haven’t been keeping up; fact is, I don’t intend to.
The Holidays have become a time to take advantage of the year end bargains as stores try to close out their books in the black. I haven’t participated in BLACK FRIDAY, nor have I ever tried out CYBER MONDAY. These events are an affliction to me – I have no desire to be rushing from store to store (even if it’s online) looking for stuff at a time when I want to sit back, relax and recharge, and reflect on the year.
Technology has changed our world. I remember when Thanksgiving was an all-day event, because it took that long just to cook everything. The family would SPEND TIME TOGETHER visiting and catching up. Even if you weren’t part of the kitchen crew, the pace slowed.
There are still people who opt for doing some real, time-intensive cooking, but now you can pretty much settle for an abbreviated version where everything’s out of the microwave in an hour.
With all that time saved, you would think we could spend more time relaxing, but without the enforcement of “you have to be in the kitchen first thing to prep the turkey and then put it in the oven and watch it for hours to make sure it and the rest of the fixings are ready,” we don’t tend to stay put. Instead, we look at the time ahead of us and think of everything we can do in those three hours. Or thirty minutes. Or thirty seconds.
Nowadays, there is almost no measure of time that is so small that we might as well just relax, because we can’t get anything done. Technology has removed the freedom that existed in the gaps between our activities, and given us the shackle of productivity.
I’m not talking about work, although that’s been impacted too. I worry about the generations who’ve been growing up with instant-on, always connected, who can’t stay in a conversation for a minute without cutting out to answer a text (I wonder: how much depth can your relationships develop in 140 character bursts? I know texts can be longer that, but it’s generally a short, rapid-fire conversation.) With all this enabled multitasking, can’t we just focus on one conversation anymore?
What have we gained? Convenience. We can do so many things so quickly now, we’ve forgotten how to wait.
What have we lost? Relaxation - the ability to stop and do nothing. Or more importantly, to take time with our thoughts, to get to know those around us, AND OURSELVES.
Technology should be making our lives better – augmenting them, not taking away.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication “Dead End Jobs”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Inspires You?

On November 1st Brittany Maynard ended her life. The 29-year old woman, afflicted with terminal brain cancer, had deliberately moved to Oregon to take advantage of their Death with Dignity Act. She spent weeks posting her thoughts and reasons, gained a large following, and then took her own life, pretty much on schedule.
I have to wonder - is this part of the slippery slope we entered when we stopped valuing life itself in favor of QUALITY of life? Once we’ve decided it’s okay to end one’s own life, how long will I take us to slide into having someone else decide it’s our time?
As these things seem to happen only too coincidentally, the story of Lauren Hill came to prominence as a counterpoint. Lauren is 19 and has an inoperable brain tumor. She loves basketball, and chose to pursue her dream on the court for Mount Saint Joseph University, making the most of the time she has left and inspiring others.
There you have two different approaches to handling a frightening brain cancer, but this posting isn’t just about the choices of the terminally ill. 
None of us exist in a bubble – we all have an impact on others. Even those of us who prefer not to be involved with our fellow man still set our own examples, whether we want to or not (much like the belly-aching sports stars who claim not to be role models, but are still modeling behaviors and standards.) Our fellow humans, especially our young, see what we do and emulate it.
If a positive attitude is supposed to help in the fight (against illness, or some other struggle), what does it do when you make a virtue out of giving up? Life – even without having to deal with a fatal illness – isn’t easy. The going is harder under any negative circumstances when what you see around you is a culture of surrender. How many of you think it’s a good idea to tell your friend to give up when they come to you and say “I’m having a hard time”? How does telling them to quit make things better?
Each of us has a responsibility to make the world a better, more positive place. No, it will never be perfect – there will always be pain and suffering. And NO, we can’t make life fair – unless we want to lower the experience equally for everyone. It can be wonderful to IMAGINE some bright UTOPIA where everything is perfect, but you can get lost in that dream and lose track of REALITY. We need to deal with life as it is, to find ways to inspire others and be inspired.
Me? I’m not inspired by stories about people giving up. The stories that stick with me and help drive me usually involve impossible odds and underdogs who see how the deck is stacked against them, but push forward anyway. Sometimes they beat the odds, but even when they don’t, they leave an example for others to strive for (and build on.)
You can’t win against the odds if you don’t finish the game. Never give up! Never surrender!
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest collection of short stories titled: “Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at:

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


You can only do so much with chicken, and yet there are a countless number (at least it seems like it) of fast food franchises specializing in it. How can you tell them apart? There must be something unique about each for so many of them to survive.
There is nothing new under the sun, and yet we have whole industries (music, entertainment, publishing) built around the idea that we can create something new, with millions of lifetimes spent trying to prove that point every day. Before the written word, the printing press, computers and other media, these things only existed in people’s memories, so creations could be lost and rediscovered. Nowadays nothing goes away (even if you wish it would.)
What distinguishes one story from another? Ultimately, the story must find its way into the reader’s heart. More properly READERS’ HEARTS. Writing is a one-to-many street. An author pours his lone heart out in a story, and hopes the story connects with readers, so they take it into their own.
How do you connect with an infinite number of hearts? You can’t target any individual reader if you want a broad appeal. You have to do the best you can getting into the single heart at the other end of this connection. As a writer, that means YOUR OWN HEART.
What makes you different? How do you stand out? (Don’t even try to tell me you don’t want to. Everyone wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged as an individual in some way. Sure, you may not want fame, but we all get to the end of our lives in this world and look back to see whether our being here made any difference at all – whether we were noticed. What we specifically place value on varies from person, but everyone wants to feel they accomplished something over a lifetime.)
What is your heart’s desire? To be remembered and missed by friends and family? To be immortalized by your own chicken recipe? To write a story that connects with readers, maybe even generations later? To make people laugh? Whatever it is you’re seeking, it’s not going to happen on its own, so get on out there and make your difference happen.
Just saying…
William Mangieri’s writing (including his latest ePublication, a collection of short stories titled: “Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND”) can be found in many places, such as:

Connect with him on Facebook at: