What does that make me?
The dog or the master?
The envy and greed
Fill me up with green
Because of a void that
Sits so blank and unseen
He comes around
I go away
She comes around
I wish I could stay
He makes her cry
I come to help
I wish she’d be mine
Self inflicted pain is dealt
She can’t see her own reflection in the lake
She couldn’t make the water ripple if she was paid
Make silence loud
Since we seem to be in the age of bringing deep, real problems with our world to the surface, I’ve got a serious one.
Why are we still not talking about the lighter laundering phenomenon?
We pretend not to notice that our lighters are being moved to places without our awareness, and even disappearing from our homes, cars, bags, anything with pockets, etc. We dismiss it as our forgetfulness and carry on with our lives. Even now, I bet you are telling yourself it isn’t a real problem – that maybe we should take better care of our own lighters or maybe stop indulging in a habit that requires the use of lighters all together.
But, I ask you, how can so many people across the world have the same exact kind of problem without there being an underlying cause? I’ve talked with roommates, friends, neighbors, and strangers I’ve met on the street facing the same problem, and they are all in consensus: we just don’t know what is happening to our lighters when we are not using them.
I have considered the possibility that there is a person – perhaps a whole organization, even (the depth of this phenomenon is unknown to myself) – who systematically controls our lighters. They do this through various different methods, and most of the time we don’t realize it’s being done. We blame ourselves for our inadequacies and proceed to buy another lighter. And… repeat.
How long, though, do we keep up this charade and pretend like we don’t know what’s going on?
Most importantly, what do we do about it? Acknowledging the problem just isn’t enough.
The Dali Lama has said, “If a problem can be solved, there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, think of a solution.”
Having given this some thought, I realized my old model of thinking about a lighter-laundering bandit or organization is a burden on my ability to think of a solution for the problem. If I keep that up, I’m bound to turn this into a personal problem and get caught up trying to disseminate a person or organization instead of solving the problem. So, what is the real problem?
If there is such an entity, why is it taking the lighters or moving them around? Is it for amusement? Is there actually a shortage of lighters, with the reality of sale exceeding production? Maybe it’s a power game, and they are trying to see who can get the most lighters, and instead sneer at our inability to understand what is going on. Maybe; I don’t know. I can only guess, but that again leads me to form judgments and ushers in hate. It’s unpleasant, and is yet another roadblock to solving my lighter problem.
Then, I get to: well, what can I do… I, personally, do to solve my own lighter problem?
If I understand the patterns of my own lighter disappearance and movement, I can tell my friends, and, upon mutual agreement, we can discuss those patterns and compare. Imagine if everyone did the same thing. Maybe this wouldn’t solve the problem at first, but we would be able to understand the patterns better. I know if we put all of our heads together, we might come up with real solutions to being in control of our own lighters. It sounds simple, and it is, but people don’t want to think of it this way.
People are afraid. Most of them don’t even want to acknowledge that a lighter problem exists. Those who do don’t think they can do anything to solve the problem, or that the problem isn’t a concern. Instead, they fall back into the pattern and become miserable. Those who get out might try to control their own lighters through various ways but again don’t think the problem is serious enough to share their methods with other people. That’s where we fall apart. As I’ve said before, we all have this problem, or at least enough of us do, to make it noticeable. So, then, why aren’t we sharing our methods and discussing what we are doing to solve it? Those who do try are instead ridiculed for making an issue bigger than it actually is. Some stop. The ones who continue carry a seed of doubt because, seriously… “systematic patterns behind the disappearance of lighters”? Who wouldn’t think you are crazy? Fear: again, it cripples us down. In order to move on and find true, working solutions to the global laundering of lighters, we have to shed that fear. So what if you seem a little crazy? Maybe, in order to solve a problem of such grand scale, you have to deviate yourself from normative thinking. If you think the problem is real, and if you’ve read this far (as I sincerely hope you do), it shouldn’t matter. That’s where I am, I guess.
This is my urge to my friends and anyone else reading this to understand and solve our lighter-laundering crisis in a way that is not hateful or demeaning to anyone and with minimal frustration on all our parts. If we all have this problem and all want a solution, it makes sense to work together, learn from each other, and then implement those changes in our daily lives so we can enjoy the comforts of our lighters without worry. This also reduces the risk of anyone feeling like they are burdened by an unsolvable problem to what society thinks is, at best, “silly.”
So please, friends, start with observing and tracking the changes of your own lighters. Record things, make charts, write a song about it, make a sculpture, or tattoo it on yourself, whatever works. Then, share your findings with people around you, discuss and understand their patterns, and compare results. You can do this on your free time. This isn’t something that will take up a whole lot of your life or distract you from living your life. But again, if it is a problem of concern to you, you shouldn’t mind doing the work to fix it. If you’ve come this far, you can keep going. How far you want to go into understanding this is up to you. The more research you do and people you interact with will determine how the reality of true patterns emerging. But, you have to be scientific about it. Measure, ponder, observe, and make changes. It is a continuous process and you have to do this while maintaining your life. It gets easier, sometime and even though you don’t know where your lighters are at all times, at least understanding why they move around and reasons for getting lost helps a little.
After this point though, it becomes frustrating again. Up until now, most of your thinking was in your head or with people you know. No one, other than your friends, family, colleagues, and other specific people understands this, and yet continues to suffer the consequences of losing/misplacing lighters and complains about it. This instead frustrates you due to the inability to understand why others just don’t understand.
Calm down. Progress is called progress because it takes time. If it has taken you this long to figure it out yourself, it might take you an entire lifetime to make people understand it. But that’s okay. If it were any other way, we might be going against the natural progression of the world. And we can’t change the ways of the universe for one little problem, no matter how many people are deprived of lighters. It’s sad, I know but it can’t be done. That’s it – end of story. So we do it the hard way. Or maybe, this is actually the easy way.
Only thing you can do at this point is just live by example. That’s what great leaders have all done. If you do what you need to do to keep track of your lighters, others will follow as they see a reason to believe. You don’t have to preach or scold them. You will be so good at keeping track of your lighters and your reasoning and understanding behind it will be so clear (that’s important), they’ll be inspired to do the same, and, before you know it, you’ve started a mini, silent but behavior-changing revolution. But, watch out for your ego. Just because you’ve helped a few friends change their thinking about their lighter problem doesn’t make you better than other people. It’s important that people imitate not because they love or fear you but because they understand your reasons. If they don’t understand it, explain. But, also remember that you don’t know the true reason yourself, you only think you know. Be kind if you truly want to change the world – sorry – I mean, help solve the global lighter crisis, because no one wants to listen to someone who has a big ego. How you help people can determine whether or not they even want your help.
And remember, there are always going to be people who keep better track of their lighters than you. You should learn from them, and if they are good teachers, you won’t have to fight the learning. It’ll be a part of understanding those patterns and you’ll come out with more information and a clearer picture.
It’s not a competition about who has the best way of keeping lighters but rather how we can end this crisis.
That’s about it. You guys get my drift. I know many of you are thinking I’m crazy for spending my time writing about a silly little problem that probably concern only me and my smoker friends. Maybe. But if you aren’t thinking that, you already know you are real special.
Feel free to share your own experiences looking for a lighter around the house and just not understanding why you can’t find one or maybe even perhaps why you have so many.
Love you all.
Some nights I can’t sleep;
I find myself lying awake in thought.
I see the glow of the street light,
the street light – [Read more...]
Full collapse –
every nerve in your body
holding back every tear.
It’s okay; you can let go now.
We’re kept intact,
but there’s still a fear
of what’s to come.
I heard you murmur
that you couldn’t remember us.
Reminding you with pictures
of your brothers and sisters,
so you can see where life has taken you.
It’s okay; you can let go now. [Read more...]
For Zora Neale Hurston – who preserved for all the world the speech, character, color, dignity, beauty, customs, folkways, and dreams of the radically autonomous black community of Eatonville, FL in which she grew up during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Eatonville is located 12 miles south of Sanford.
For Adrienne Rich – who knew that there’s no such thing as poetry without justice
We tell your story
We keep telling your story
We know what happened to you
The whole world knows what happened
Anyone who wants to know knows [Read more...]
You know what the worst part is? It’s when you prove them right – when they say you can’t do something, and you want to deny it, but you end up failing at it anyway. They know you failed; you know you failed, and everyone knows you failed. So how do you recover from that? [Read more...]
My grip loosens. It is released from my hand. Drifting as if a blimp in the sky. Meandering. Surveying the land. Searching for a home. Somewhere to rest its head in the arms of someone who is willing to care. People glance at it, but don’t pay it much attention. They are too busy holding on to their own, than to worry about this poor lost soul. One fish in an ocean sky where waves break into floating clouds. It is holding out. Desperate not to release its final breath. Alas, it does. Its body becomes flat and lifeless; falling from an endless dream with rivers of stars between. Plummeting. Finally, landing in a pile of things forgotten. I pick you up, then breathe life back into you.
- Pete Lechuga