Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Perceptions

My Reality

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Each day when I describe details of my experiences it is a function of a basic tenet of writing: write what you know. One thing I know about is the perceptions I have of the activities of my days. Yesterday, I turned my back on the NCAA Women’s national championship game when it became obvious to me that Iowa would not beat LSU and I went out to tend to the horses.

A glance at the reading from our outdoor thermometer surprised me with the number 51. Looking for a second source, I opened a weather app to see what it offered for a current temperature. The reading from Red Wing, MN –twenty miles to our south– was 57°F! I did not expect this level of warming yesterday. The new snow remaining on the ground from the blizzard Friday night was quickly being transformed into water. Our drainage ditches were flowing like rivers.

I have no idea how this fits into the entanglement of the quantum mechanics of our physical world, but I do know that this quick melt significantly increased the level of mud in the paddocks. At the same time, I cannot describe how I occasionally get a sense of someone in Nepal practicing an endless recitation of the mantra “om mani padme hum” as I breathe our air and take meandering steps half a planet away.

The horses were giving me the impression of being spectacularly patient about the slow melt we’ve been having this spring while they were also slipping into behaviors of being annoyingly impatient about getting served pans of feed after I showed up. The impatience is easily soothed by the arrival of their food and the quartet of munching sounds conveys a new meditative peacefulness that I gladly absorb.

It is April and there is a reason to think we might be gardening soon. Does this image look like our garden is eager to get going?:

I’m trying to absorb some of the horses’ patience about the uneven transition from the snow season to our growing season.




Written by johnwhays

April 3, 2023 at 6:00 am

Unknown Connections

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There is so much music that I feel connected to, a lifetime’s worth, really. More to the point, the songwriters and performing artists. They have shared their creative visions and I have absorbed their renditions, on repeating rotations for years and often decades. Some of the people whose work has resonated for me draw me to want to know more about them.

I am an unabashed fan.

Their music is the most listened to in my library. They become connected to me in the unique way of celebrity, in that they have no idea who I am, but to me, it is as if we have become friends.

Upon fantasizing about how things would go if we suddenly found ourselves hanging out together with no agenda or time constraints, I wonder, would the artists of my liking honestly show any sense of connection with me?

My cat seems to like me in a way that hints at a connection. She also will just as quickly demonstrate total disdain. I guess, in reality, that combination of feelings is mutual.

That creative artist who penned lyrics that trip my trigger of perspectives, curiosities, emotions, longings, or visions of the world probably also chews food with their mouth open or has some other odd characteristic that would sour my attraction.

I could get all stalker-like and make my fanaticism known to them to find out for sure, but it makes much more sense to me that I leave the connection unknown, other than my anonymous contribution to their financial success by buying what they are selling and listening to the product of their genius.

The secret to connecting with an artist, in my opinion, is by not knowing anything about them when you meet. If a connection clicks, it isn’t a result of the preconceived perception one would have in mind. I have been curious to know how celebrities feel about meeting people who have no idea about their fame.

I would guess for really famous people, it would be refreshing.

In this scenario, I hope I wouldn’t end up dissing the person like the way my cat disses me.



Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2021 at 7:00 am


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Words on Images




Written by johnwhays

October 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Wandering Ponders

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There are times when putting on music that inspires my personal tastes, music which soars to the greatest depths of my vibrational energy and reaches the core of my being, brings on a rush like a drug.

I love that.

I have come to understand the belief that we make our own luck. Both good and bad. I also believe there are powers beyond our knowing that seek to cheer us on and want the best for us. I believe this more than I think there are powers that work against us.

There are enough circumstances, and our own shortsightedness, to balance that scale against our ultimate success.

I am dismayed over a sensation about the human race too often falling victim to the selfish greed and power worship of our nature. Despite the incredible number of people striving to do good for others, seeking true justice, full equality, better futures, a greater understanding of complex thought exercises that could lead to problem-solving advances, it too often appears as productive as pissing into the wind.

Even if one were to hold the key to fixing some current calamity, it would run smack dab into a wall of resistance and litigation to squash the solution in its infancy.

We have met the enemy. It is us.

By Ruth Bader Ginsberg achieving all that she did, we know what is possible. She didn’t do so invisibly. Obviously, she climbed to new heights on the shoulders of impressive women who came before her. It stands to reason to expect there are others currently striving to build on her legacy.

They are toiling this very minute. May they waste nary a second to launch together in pairs, in study groups, by the dozens, hundreds even, rising up to be heard, to grab positions of power, to lead in ways that would make The Notorious RBG vibrate with glee.

Something is tragically wrong when the police in a democracy get permission to barge into a home in the middle of the night without warning, triggering a defensive response that allows them to use deadly force with abandon and when citizens protest our objections, the perpetrators are held at fault only for the bullets that went astray of the innocent resident in her bed.

So many brilliant people have expressed the dysfunction of allowing corporations to call the shots. It is obvious that excessive salaries for top executives combined with insufficient pay for most everyone beneath them is an untenable situation.

Seems too obvious to deny or defend. As does doing harm to the environment. As does killing others for religious or ideological reasons.

It was said, “Never again.”

I wish.

I love when the good side triumphs. I can’t wait until we all can read about women who have achieved twice what RBG did.

I hope none of them delay for one day their rightful claims to places in history.



Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2020 at 9:15 am

Coping Skills

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It’s getting hard to miss the memes questioning what the deal is with 2020 so far. There is one showing the frame for a couple of swings installed next to a brick wall. Yeah, it kinda feels like that. I guess with a global pandemic for a backdrop, any other situation which arises can feel like a slap in the face. The clear video of a white police officer slowly and arrogantly suffocating a black man was a serious gut punch with reverberations riling up centuries of prejudicial inequalities.

It’s getting hard to cope.

I am not surprised to have read somewhere of a trend toward moving from inner cities to the suburbs. I am truly grateful and totally aware of the precious benefit we enjoy in having acres of green space where we can stroll to breathe in the calming balm of all that nature offers.

There was a hint of a break in the cloud cover yesterday that teased of blue sky on the way but in classic 2020 fashion, it disappointed. The sunlight never broke through a gauze of dirty white that mysteriously found a way to hang around.

Our endurance is being tested. I see it as a challenge to how we frame our perceptions. There is no beginning or end when it comes to the span of time. There won’t be a single day which can be measured as the end of the coronavirus pandemic, just as there isn’t an identifiable moment when it began. Same thing for racial prejudice.

We are on a continuum. Life is a big, long ride. Figure out a way to cope for the long haul.

I suggest we mind our manners, take care of ourselves first before helping others, but by all means, seek to help others. Maybe release our urge to so vehemently control outcomes and discover a deeper awareness of what unconscious fears are actually coloring our perceptions.

Put a little extra effort into loving ourselves and in turn, nurturing greater love for others and the world we all share.

What a lovely way to cope with the challenges of life: coping by loving.

Group hug! [after the pandemic, I mean.]



Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2020 at 7:32 am

Pay Attention

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Attention to what? That’s a good question.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Your posture right now.
  • Who is suffering most among those you know and love.
  • The best return for your investment of time.
  • How long it has been since you voiced appreciation to someone deserving.
  • How you might help someone less deserving.
  • Your most common habitual “tick.”
  • When you sense yourself not acting in your own best interest.
  • How false information is being used for unethical advantage.
  • What it is you are actually afraid of.
  • How long it has been since you laughed and cried at the same time.
  • What you actually ate in one day that was not a healthy choice.
  • How swiftly days become weeks and weeks become months.
  • How much sleep you are getting.
  • Maintaining a healthy social distance from all others.
  • The expression on your face when not actively smiling.
  • How much of our unspoken thinking is inadvertently communicated.
  • When you find yourself unable to ask for what you need or want.
  • The power of love.



Written by johnwhays

May 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Living History

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With the onset of this current global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting financial repercussions underway, it is becoming obvious the incidents and impacts of these days will be noted in historical records for future reference. What is it like to live through national or global newsmaking events as they are happening?

I don’t really know.

And I’ve lived through plenty of them.

Life just seems to go on. People who don’t lose their lives or family members and friends find ways to adjust to temporary impacts on normal routines and employ a wide range of coping mechanisms to get on with doing whatever needs to be done. In the moments, it often doesn’t seem quite so historic on the personal level. It’s the collective impact of large segments of a population and the subsequent mass media accounting of details that tend to provide a bigger significance to things.

Even with that, being alive during historic circumstances never seems to feel as significant in the moment for me as I expect it should.

In my life, the impacts of newsworthy events haven’t been particularly acute. They are often shocking, such as the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster or the terrorist attacks against the United States in September of 2001, but none completely life-altering. Even for Cyndie, who was flying frequently in 2001, the change to her routine was short-lived with respect to the immediate grounding of flights for a time and then only minorly impacted after flights resumed.

I remember the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee by followers of the American Indian Movement and feeling like it was a significant event at the time, but it was really just a story on the news from where I lived.

As the 444 days of the Iran hostage crisis played out between 1979-1981, it felt awful to carry on with my activities as if nothing was amiss, but there really was no noticeable impact on my life beyond seeing a lot of yellow ribbons tied around trees in symbolic support of the hostages.

In 2008, there was what is now referred to as “the Great Recession” which just might end up comparing to the current financial “correction” in the markets. It’s possible we are about to experience the recession of 2020. Maybe it won’t be as “great.” I somehow plodded through the years surrounding the Great Recession with minor suffering. My net worth wasn’t so large that I had all that much value to lose and we were lucky enough to be in a position that our homeownership wasn’t threatened.

Somewhere in my collection of family history, I have the original “Quarantine” sign that was attached to my father’s home when he was [I believe] 12-years-old and contracted polio. That seems like a significant event for my father and his family, yet I don’t recall him ever mentioning it. The amount of subsequent paralysis he experienced from that was virtually imperceptible. Without my mother having mentioned it and giving me the sign the family had saved from his door, I wouldn’t have known.

I don’t really know what it’s like to live through historic events, even though that’s what I’m doing right now.

Maybe it’s simply like living the life that I’m living.



Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2020 at 6:00 am

Ground Moves

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The snow melting continued with full momentum yesterday, exposing a lot more ground than the day before. We walked the property to survey the progress up close and witnessed more evidence of how much the ground moves this time of year.

The free-standing angel statue is once again a “lying-prone” angel. Poor thing takes a lot of abuse left on its own to deal with the elements. It’s not really alone in that predicament, though, as the peace pole beside it that is only anchored by an 8-inch stake will also tip over as soon as the frozen dirt around it melts enough to let the slightest breeze put pressure on any side.

Happens every year.

One thing that hasn’t happened until now is the arrival of an aggressive digging gopher within the confines of the labyrinth, but we can now add that to the ongoing saga of nuisances.

There were three or four additional locations of similar soil disruption messing up almost a quarter of the circuitous paths. I’m not looking forward to the struggle to redirect that beast’s attention elsewhere this summer.

When we reached the paddocks, I discovered it is very easy to see the distance two of the posts have been pushed up by the freezing and thawing of the ground. The telltale stain at the base is a clear gauge of how far they have come up in the last few days. There is an additional faded line that is a record of a previous, or possibly the original depth to which the posts were set.

We are just a week into March, so I am readying myself for a few more rounds of freezing and thawing cycles and probably one or a few snow accumulations before this kind of havoc changes to thunderstorms and tornado threats that will be grabbing our attention. It’s always something, you know.

Luckily, between all that calamity we will enjoy some glorious weather, too.

We’ve never been denied interludes of luxuriously blissful weather days, but have you ever noticed how the nice weather never ends up being as earth-shaking and attention-getting as the troublesome days?



Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

Not Level

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This isn’t the first year I’ve had the impression that the chicken coop is leaning away from level, but it’s now become more obvious than I am able to ignore. Every time I walk past it, I fight an urge to walk over and push it back to level, but I’m the one who buried those six posts 3-feet deep each. A little push on the side of the structure won’t do anything to press the far posts back down to where they started.

Part of me wants to think it’s just an optical illusion given the relative reference of the surrounding ground. The view from the other side doesn’t look all that bad.

If I’d bother to walk up to the shop to get the level there would be no questioning it, but the issue is an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” level concern and has yet to warrant the intentional hike in order to verify my instinct. Wouldn’t really make any difference, anyway. There is nothing I would do about it either way.

Actually, I don’t need the level. If you didn’t already spot it, go back and look at that first image. There is an easy reference line –two actually– revealing a straight verticle in the items hanging on the outside wall. Based on those lines being straight up and down, the horizontal boards are definitely not square to that.

The frost heave that occurs in the ground is in charge of the angle of this structure. The legs of the coop were not installed like footings for structures that must meet building codes.

Luckily, our hens don’t seem to give a cluck about it.



Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

Brain Freeze

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Yesterday was a very inviting glorious blue-sky sunny day for a walk. There were just two primary hazards to trekking our trails to walk the dog. The first was slippery footing on the packed and polished snow tracks we were precariously perambulating. [Sorry, couldn’t help myself.] The footing is really risky on the inclines, especially going downhill. The repeating cycles of melting and refreezing we have endured this winter have turned the oft traveled packed paths into uneven glass-like surfaces.

One alternative is to walk just off to the side of the glossy path, but that becomes its own adventure of struggling to soft-shoe your way on top of the occasionally stable crust, faltering frequently as a boot collapses 6-to-10 inches into the loose old snow below.

Once on the flat of our paths out of the woods, the second hazard became the greater of the two challenges. The old snowpack covering our land no longer holds much air. It’s like one giant iceberg that radiates cold that would make a walk-in freezer jealous. The face-freezing chill was made even more emphatic by the warm sunshine from above offering an opposing reference sensation. The relatively warm air was dramatically losing the battle for dominance.

With the slightest hint of a breeze moving that radiating cold-cold-cold from the massive surface surrounding us and pushing away the comparatively weaker not-as-cold air in the warm sunshine, we both noticed the increasing sensation of a brain freeze.

“Ice cream headache!” Cyndie exclaimed.

Yes, it was that kind of cold.

The thermometers were displaying the mid-to-upper 20s(F), but our brains were registering something much more Arctic.

Happy Leap Day, 2020!



Written by johnwhays

February 29, 2020 at 7:00 am