Author, Novelist, Writer, & Public Speaker

Posts tagged “Nick Shamhart

Dance Puppets … Dance

August 23, 2014

I often wonder what I would turn into if I were really rich. I don’t mean wealthy, or simply comfortable. I mean Dick Cheney buying a new heart for himself in his seventies kind of rich. That kind of money. Those of us without that financial scope typically are that way for a reason. Maybe it’s luck, birthright, or plain stupidity. It happens. But some of us aren’t rich because we don’t like what we see when we look at the world’s super bourgeoisie. We see addicts. Junkies that can never get a strong enough hit, jonesing for a fix, and willing to anything to get it. We don’t want to be that kind of person.

But, personally, if I were…well, some of the things I’d do. Wow! I’d be nothing shy of a monster.

Napoleon is often quoted as saying, “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

Perhaps that was true for the bulk of human history. Lately with the ecumenical decline in faith, as one of those super rich, I’d have to turn to other means of keeping the paltry proletarians, the meager masses, and the worker drones from storming my palatial homes and such. I don’t want your filthy hands touching all my Stuff! Hmm, so fear of a hellish eternity just isn’t cutting it anymore…let’s see, what can I do to keep my coffers full and my fat ass alive? Hmm? Keep you puppets dancing to the tune I’m whistling.

Well, if the masses aren’t afraid of a god maybe they should be afraid of each other. Yeah, that could work. Fear will keep them in line. It always has as long as we don’t take away too many comforts. They have their fast food and TVs still. Oh, there’s an idea. Let’s use those. TVs, yeah that always gets their dander up. Offensive. Defensive. Violence. Outrage. Perfect!

Now how do I go about this? Hmm, well so many of them seem to want what I have. Money, money, money, money! Money! Even in small doses. I can toss it out like stale bread to ducks and they just gobble it up! Why don’t I pick a few who are desperate enough and stupid enough (I suppose that last part goes without saying) that I can pay them to stir up social unrest on the old boob tube, eh? Yeah, I like the sound of that! Wait…what should they stir up? Hmm. Oh duh! Race! Always go with color and creed. Set those masses against each other with their differences! So easy! So simple. Pull a string here. Pull another one there. Dance. Dance. Dance. So… Simple…

…Just one fool with one gun and I can keep them all distracted. It’s worked before. It will keep on working.

~Nick Shamhart


Illiteracy Leaves Little Basis for Comparison

August 8, 2014

I was recently asked to give my opinion on what I felt was psychologically right or wrong with the Fifty Shades of Grey books.

I had my doubts that my contribution would see the light of day because I did not take what I am sure was the anticipated, belligerent yes or no stance that is the hallmark of inexperience (and, sadly seems to be the mindset de jure). I wanted folks to have the chance to read it, so here goes.

“Art is of course subjective. Personally I shudder to label a Bodice Ripper as art, but some people consider Robert Mapplethorpe to be an artist. It’s a matter of personal choice – the externalization of the internal.
That said, to tear apart the Fifty Shades trilogy would be unfair. The phenomenon that the books stirred about had little to do with the quality of story telling, the prose, or the presentation. What happened was that the populace brought it upon themselves. Worldwide reading trends are quite sad. Entertainment on demand fired a bullet pointblank into the floundering corpse that was the publishing industry. The statistics for the USA are nothing shy of terrifying. 58% of Americans will not read a book after high school. One in ten thousand Americans is an avid reader, meaning they read more than one book a month.
What happened with the Fifty Shades books was a direct result of those numbers. When people don’t read they have little to use as a basis of comparison. So, instead of E.L. James’ books being swept into the growing heap of erotica, with the likes of Steele, Collins, and other ladies that have been working that trade for decades, people took notice. 
Social Media, and its fickle trends helped word spread about the books.
It was the same ecumenical ripple effect that Rowling’s Potter books had. They were fine for what they were, in that case fantasy for Fifty Shades erotica, but for true avid readers that could compare the books to a much broader and larger personal library they were nothing special. 
That’s why children like simple, brightly colored toys. They are stimulating, and the child has no previous experience to say whether the toy is good or bad. Most of the staunch supporters of the Fifty Shades book that I have met read very few books annually. Half a dozen at best, so if they have read less than a hundred books in their lifetime. Who is to say what they are basing their love of Fifty Shades against?”
~Nick Shamhart

Misunderstanding Patience

August 2, 2014

Our definition and concept of the word patience varies greatly.

1. the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, or anger.
2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.
3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.
In the West we take those ideas and pervert them to our constant need for more. Our delusion of something better, something more, something else, greener grass, bountiful pastures, promised lands – all fuel our fire of desire. We salve our need for greed with a virtue we so blithely dub patience.
We tell ourselves to be patient and we can have everything we want. Be patient and stay the course for great reward! Be patient and you shall have a better job, more money, a bigger house, a golden retirement, a slimmer waistline, a calmer demeanor, and more and more and more.  But, patience is not about acquisition. It’s not about waiting the clock out. Time isn’t our friend who’ll come sweeping in one day like Santa Claus to reward all us good boys and girls who were patient.
The cicada has always held a special place in my mind, when I think of patience. Like many people my wife thinks of heat and summer when she hears their chattering call. That’s how you know it’s hot in a movie, right? You hear the cicadas.
The cicada knows patience better than any human. Some of them remain as nymphs (immature cicadas), buried underground for as long as seventeen years,  and emerging for only a few weeks as matured adult cicadas. Think about it. Some of the cicadas you hear this summer may have been born before Princess Diana died!
Patience. It is not about waiting to get something. The waiting already is something!
Next time your hear a cicada don’t think of it as the sound of heat or summer. No, it is the sound of patience.
~Nick Shamhart

You’re Worth More Than a Million Kardashians

June 28,  2014

I often wonder why people obsess, fixate, and idolize celebrities. Most days it seems like people listen to what Opera has to say more so than their friends and family – people they love and are loved by in return. Anyone else find that odd? to value the opinion of someone you have never met, and will never meet, over the people who breathe the same air, drink the same water, and eat the same food as you?

I’ve witnessed social media cluster fucks beyond count over such asinine concepts as what a celebrity was wearing. Why should the world care? Is it smoke and mirrors for the travesties surrounding us? Is it escapism to lands of fairy tale princesses with ghetto booties like the Kardashians? Why? There’s plenty of booty to go around. What makes the Kardashians’ so obsession-worthy?

Celebrities are not your friends. They don’t care about you. They would not piss on you if you were on fire. Not a one of them would trade places with you…ever. Even though your life has value. It has substance and meaning. In fact, your life is better then theirs because you have people that love you for who you are, not who they think you are. If you’re completely alone with no friends or family you are still better off because you can go out and make new friends without the worry of do they like me for me, or my fame?

Remember that you have more value than any American Idol.

~Nick Shamhart


The Small Town Virus

June 20, 2014

Sadly I’ve been told that another man from the same small town where I was raised committed suicide.

What is it about that town? I will not name it, but with the age of Google at hand it would not be too difficult to track down. One of the greatest parts of my life is talking with people from all over the world. Many of whom are from small towns, but they all have that “Aw, shucks, yeah I’m from So&So” rueful, almost pleasantly reminiscent mentality. That is rarely the case with people from the same suburban geographic mileage as yours truly. Truth to tell, for many it is a small protected Xanadu where the outside world only intrudes through the television and summer tourists. But, for many others they believe it to be the very pits of Hades where their neighbors are the likes of  Brutus and Judas Iscariot.

To dig out the exact statistics, while I write this on a rainy afternoon, would be too morbid to bear. Off the top of my head I can think of almost a dozen suicides from different social strata and age groups over the years in that very same small town. That’s just names floating around in my head, mind you, imagine how many more there are.

The unifying trait is they all went through the same school system in the same small town. One boy even chose to end his life from my graduating class our Junior year.

So, what is it? Why? Those aren’t questions with ready answers.

It has always felt like a virus to me. A spiritual malady that is passed on from generation to generation. Those who were not born and raised there are immune, but to pass through the system is to be assured of exposure. Once contracted, they all feel it. Some only notice a mild cough or cold, yet others have daily migraines. Some flee, hoping that distance and time will lessen the severity of the reaction.  Others still? It tears them apart, slowly or rapidly, a few years or over decades, doesn’t matter. Once the virus is contracted there is no cure. Strength of character works for some, as does perspective. Friends help, family too, but sometimes the virus is too strong. We are only human. Sometimes no amount of love, compassion, and caring can counteract the damage done by the virus over the years. It’s insidious in nature. It rides the soul all through childhood and adolescence, crippling the spirit when it should be growing.

I see existence for the infinity that it is, so maybe, just maybe an inoculation is possible. It has to start on a community level, and it has to be allowed to mutate and grow as the virus fights to reassert itself. There is no way to stop the virus if the host refuses to fight it. The children need to build confidence and gain identity at an early age. Adults need to prove their humanity by opening their hearts and minds to others. They need to help each other find their strengths to combat their weaknesses … or else they will rot from within.

They need to be able to look back on the past with solace, not spleen, so when the day is darkest the light from yesterday can illuminate the possibility of tomorrow.

~Nick Shamhart


The World is Only as Intolerant as You

June 11, 2014

I read about a Toledo girl with Progeria that has been bullied and humiliated by her fellow students. I’ve been attempting to wrap my mind around how children can be so cruel. I will not delve into questions of nature or nurture. That argument has gone on so long that perhaps its flawed. It’s an age old question of humanity that at its core requires finger pointing. Which is it? Which is the problem? Nature or nurture? We want to know so we can hate it!

Wiser men than me have said it, but it bears repeating. We can’t stop hate with hate. Anger with anger. Fear with fear. You don’t empty a pool by adding more water.

Tolerance should not be a subject that children have to be taught. It should be a way of life.

I’m not blessed. I’m not cursed. My friends are my friends because I see them for their flaws and their talents. I have friends that are black, white, rich, poor, male, female, gay, straight, old, and young. Their walks of life vary from musicians to politicians, lawyers to criminals, WASPs to bikers, Christians to Atheists, fighters to cowards, TV personalities, authors, journalists, actors, artists, laborers, doctors, nurses, teachers, preachers, and more. I know the difference in the feel of a blind man’s handshake. I’ve carried a crippled man to his wheelchair. Hell! I’ve even been the man it that wheelchair.

They all have and they all have not. That’s what it means to be human. That realization keeps us from just being tailless monkeys.

I won’t preach. I won’t teach. If you haven’t learned to live with your haves by embracing others’ have nots, then nothing I can say will change that.

I’d only ask that you look to what you have before you hurt someone for what they do not.

~Nick Shamhart


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