That evening, I press my fingertips
to the screen in front of me
With his focus on a robin in the bushes just outside our open window, my roommate’s cat presses his weight into the screen. It pops out of its frame in the blink of an eye, sending the cat tumbling onto the mulch just a foot below. He is now closer to the bird he was intently watching than he ever imagined he could be. The robin, surprised by the cat’s presence, immediately flits away. The cat does not give chase. Instead, he sits, stunned, amazed to be face-to-face with the nature he so admires, until I race outside to retrieve him.
That evening, I press my fingertips to the screen in front of me, the one I am are using to videochat with you. I wish that I could fall through it just like the cat did, but I can’t. So texts and phone calls and FaceTime will have to do until I can be next to you again.
This poem was inspired by this week’s Penable Thursday Poetry Competition with the theme of friendship. (It was also inspired by a recent true, momentarily frightening story.) If you would like to enter the contest (and I highly suggest you do), you can find out more here.
My favorite color is gray, which isn’t a very interesting answer to the “What’s your favorite color?” question. As a more exciting answer, I usually tell people that my favorite is cyan, which is my second favorite.
I was nominated for this award by the gloriously groovy H. R Phoenix from Penable. Looking for inspiration, poetry contests, or just to hear a cool person’s thoughts on her life? Check out Penable!
Also, if you’d like to check out writing from Selina, the wonderful creator of this award, you can find her here!
Now, this post is going up Friday in lieu of the article that I would normally post. If you’re disappointed, don’t worry. I have a few articles that just need to be edited, so there will be one up next week. I know most of my followers prefer my poetry to my award posts and my articles, anyway. Don’t think that I don’t notice what types of posts get the most clicks! But blogging is fun, and I want to keep it fun, so I’ll be consistently inconsistent within reason.
Without further ado, now onto the award…
Place the ‘A blog with a little bit of everything award’ on the top of your post.
Thank the person who nominated you, and provide a link to their site.
Tell 4 facts about yourself.
Answer their 5 questions.
Nominate up to 5 more people, and provide a link to their site.
Ask them another 5 questions.
Comment on their posts to let them know that they got nominated for the ‘A blog with a little bit of everything award!’
Four Facts About Me
I love maps! They are the main decoration in my room. In spite of that, I’m still exceptionally bad at geography.
I am super proud of my knife skills. Give me an onion, and I can show you a bunch of different ways to chop it!
Up until just a few years ago, I thought that I didn’t even like poetry. Turns out, I just didn’t take the time to appreciate it. Now, I love reading and writing it.
I love watching stand up comedy. Julio Torres is a current favorite comedian of mine!
Selina’s (and Phoenix’s) Questions
What is your favourite flower? Lilies!
What is your favourite colour? My favorite color is gray, which isn’t a very interesting answer to the “What’s your favorite color?” question. As a more exciting answer, I usually tell people that my favorite is cyan, which is my second favorite.
When did you start blogging on WordPress? February of 2020. I had a Blogger blog for a few years beforehand, but I wasn’t very consistent with it, and I never found my niche there. I haven’t written anything on that blog in a long time.
What is your favourite book? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
What sports do you do? It’s not exactly a sport, but I love hiking. I also enjoy swimming, and I’d be down for a game of tennis, badminton, or volleyball if anyone asked.
People are constantly learning and growing and changing. I have faith that most of them are changing for the better.
I was nominated (a while ago, whoops) for the Awesome Blogger Award by the astonishingly talented Creative Envision. Thank you so much for the nomination! If any of you are interested in reading consistently beautiful poetry, check out their blog!
And I just realized that H.R Phoenix from Penable also nominated me for this award with the same questions. Her blog is an amazing place for aspiring writers to congregate and learn. Check her out, too.
-Thank the person who nominated you. -Tag the post with awesomebloggeraward. -Answer the questions you were asked. -Nominate at least 5 bloggers and inform them of their nomination. -Give them 10 new questions to answer.
Creative Envision’s Questions
What do you do that you are you so good at? I am great at cooking, especially without a recipe.
2. If you can pick your own name, what would it be? Joy! I kind of did get to pick my own name when I started this blog. Joy is actually my middle name, not the name that I go by irl.
3. If you could have a super power, what would it be? I think I could do a lot of good with super-strength, and it would be a great confidence-booster.
4. How do you see the world? A swath of gray areas. Nothing is all good and nothing is all bad. I work to focus more on the good.
5. What can make you defy a law? I will break a law if adhering to that law goes against my morals.
6. Do you believe in second chance, why? Yes, absolutely. I have made mistakes in the past and needed a second chance in order to rectify them. People are constantly learning and growing and changing. I have faith that most of them are changing for the better.
7. What is the wisest thing someone told you? “Collect experiences.”
8. Theoretically, if parallel universes exist and you meet another version of you from a different reality and you can ask only one question, what would it be? I would ask, “What are you waiting for?” and hopefully Other Me would know exactly what I meant.
9. Have no one when you’re sad or have no one to share your happiness? Having no one when I’m sad. I’d feel alone either way, so I might as well share my delight rather than my misery. And it’s hard to fully experience happiness when totally isolated.
10. Truth, what do you really want? Really. I want to minimize the loss of life during this crisis.
I really, really like these questions, so I would love to see your answers to them.
All of my followers are awesome bloggers, so I would like to nominate all of you! If you’re interested, just leave me a comment.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re using a colored pencil to draw when all of a sudden…SNAP! The tip breaks off leaving you with a useless shard and an imprecise, blunt drawing instrument. You decide to sharpen the pencil, but it’s not working. The wood is too soft or the lead is too fragile, and the tip keeps breaking off before you can taper it as much as you desire. Eventually, you give up because continuing to sharpen it is not granting you the results that you want. I mean, what is the point?
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. But now, on a more serious note…
Even though I write about creativity, compassion, and positivity, in real life, I am very much inclined to resign myself to futility. In fact, one could argue that the reason why I try to put such a positive, helpful spin on the articles that I write is to convince myself that altruism isn’t futile. I practice positive talk in my written words, hoping that I can incorporate more of it into my thoughts and the words I speak.
It’s hard sometimes.
It feels like the more you learn about any particular topic, the more you realize that change usually happens small and slow, without much impact coming from any single individual. Forget the Dunning-Kruger Effect with its “valley of despair.” Looking into any issue will at some point leave you in a valley of futility.
I had a brush with these negative thoughts last week shortly after I published my article A Self-Planned Education: What Would You Learn in a Decade?. I was nervous posting that article, but I quickly began to receive comments from people who enjoyed reading it and wanted to engage in interesting conversations about personally driven education. And then, just a few hours later, I received a notification that someone had linked to that blog post. This was not a share or a reblog. It was not someone who was inspired by my article and decided to write their own response to its fundamental question. Nor was it someone who disagreed with me who wanted to write about those differences. No, this was someone who had copied my work, changed a few of the words and phrases (many of which were changed so that they were no longer correct), and reposted it to their own website that was not in any way affiliated with WordPress. My copyright had been infringed.
I was frustrated, and that frustration prompted me to write this blog post, requesting advice. I wanted to take action.
I also knew that I should give myself a little while to actually consider what my next move should be. I always make kinder and overall better choices when I have given myself time to calm down from my initial emotions.
The next day, I did more digging into the website where my content was reuploaded, and found that this was the way that they get all their content. I couldn’t find a single article that was originally written for this website. I also couldn’t tell whether any of the people who post to this website hold the copyrights on any of the material.
In that moment, I felt a sense of futility. I could pump hours and hours into getting my post taken down and still not make a dent in the stolen material on the site. My efforts likely wouldn’t prevent the same website from stealing copyrighted content in the future. I don’t have the ability to take any sort of legal action right now, either, so the results of any action I could take would be small at best. What was the point of pouring my energy into this if the best-case scenario consequences would be so tiny?
Like I said, this feeling of futility is common-place for me. I presume that it’s very common for a lot of other people, too.
Here’s a different example: consider the low-waste movement. One person switching from single use paper coffee cups to bringing their own reusable cup to the coffee shop is not going to make a big difference. What’s the point if my individual actions only save a single tree from being cut down throughout my whole lifetime?
To me, it seems counter-intuitive that digging into the research about social, animal, and environmental issues could have the effect of dissuading me from action rather than encouraging it, but that has been my experience. In our modern times, even well-intentioned actions can reap negative consequences because of how complicated and interconnected the world is. (No spoilers, but The Good Place explores this issue in a really fascinating and entertaining way. I highly recommend that show.) What’s the point of taking positive actions when they might have negative repercussions, anyway?
There are several points, but I’ll only speak about three of them. First of all, a lot of small actions can lead to much bigger changes. If large numbers of people each eliminated the need for a single tree to be chopped down for their paper use, that could add up to a whole forest-worth of trees that no longer need to be felled. If every content creator who had their work reposted on the same website as mine took action, we could cause the website to shut down or at least pivot to original content.
“You can’t do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do.“
Secondly, standing up for yourself and your values has its own intrinsic worth. I’ve noticed that when my actions align with my ideals, I feel better. I have more self-esteem.
Finally, people who see you taking positive actions in kind and relatable ways might be encouraged to take their own small steps. Most people want to do good in the world, but it’s hard to know how. Your example might be the thing that prompts them to action.
In a poem that I wrote for this blog but never ended up posting, I crafted the lines “I know that it’s not enough just to say these words./I know that my thoughts and prayers are just as empty/As those mouths that they promise to feed.” I constantly need to remind myself that good intentions are not enough. They must lead to good actions.
With my stolen content, saying that I am against copyright infringement is not enough. I must actively try to get the copyrighted material removed.
In the case of the website that reposted my copyrighted content, I don’t think that enough people will request their own take downs from them to make any real change. After all, most of the articles they steal come from big news sites that likely have much larger and more pressing legal issues to deal with. However, standing up for myself and getting my article removed sends them a message that I am not okay with them taking my content, and it tells me that I am willing to fight for my rights as a content creator. Leaving up the post that talks about my stolen article shows other people that they are not alone in having their content taken, that the WordPress community will support them in their efforts to stand up for their rights as copyright holders, and that standing up for yourself in this way will (hopefully) result in some actions from the people who stole the material.
A story that I read at the end of last week, “The Best of All Summers” by Bobby Stevenson, contains these words “‘Don’t you ever believe that what we did was in vain, son. Never think that…Nothing is in vain. Always, always remember that. Everything matters.'” (I highly recommend reading the whole story for the context.) Actions that align with your beliefs and values matter. They produce effects. Those effects might be smaller or different than what you want or expect, but they are present. All we can do is to keep taking these actions to become better people and make society better, monitoring the results of those actions, and changing our approach when it isn’t working. That is the point.
I wanted to post a couple of short, lighthearted pieces that I’ve written. The following poems are incredibly corny and cheesy. I cringed while writing these, and I apologize for any cringing that you may experience.
The Chemistry of Love
Some may say that science talk is the antithesis of love talk, but, baby, I know when we converse, we have chemistry. The bonds between us are the strong kind. And isn’t it ionic how electric it feels every time we get close and touch? I feel so positive each time it happens.
The Particle Physics of Love
Baby, I love every quark of you! I knew as soon as I looked you up and down that I was charmed by your strange appeal. I truly love you from top to bottom.
I love to write, and I was writing so much anyway that I thought that I might as well post it. I’m so glad I did! The WordPress community is so phenomenally supportive!
The Vincent Ehindero Award was created by Vincent Ehindero himself, who runs a wonderful blog. I was nominated for the award by my ever-so-lovely fellow blogger rishabh kumar! Thank you to you both! And if you haven’t checked out their blogs before, go do it!
Thank the person that nominated you, with a link to their blog
Make a post of the award (with a photo)
Post the rules
Ask 5-10 questions of your choice
Nominate 10-30 other bloggers
Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’m a shy extrovert. I definitely get energy from social situations, even if I’m rattled with nerves the whole time.
What was your motivation to become a blogger? I love to write, and I was writing so much anyway that I thought that I might as well post it. I’m so glad I did! The WordPress community is so phenomenally supportive!
What is your goal for 2020? My goal for 2020 is to end the year even just a little better than I started it, which I know is vague, but whatever. It’s been a weird year.
What are three words that best describe you? Curious, thoughtful, and imaginative
What is your best piece of advice about life? To (possibly) quote Yogi Berra, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” No matter what life throws at you, make a choice and keep moving forward.
I love these questions, and I would love to see all my nominees answer them!
I nominate any of my readers who want to participate! If you’re interested, leave me a comment below saying that you would like to participate and I’ll update this section to add you to a list of my nominees.