Change, Fear, Truth, and Renewal

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampThe only immutable

Force in the world,

The grinding of time

Is the sense of absurd.

Futility tracing its

Claws down your back,

And leaving its markings

On minds sorely wracked.

Then doubts do set in

And preponderance lost,

So shifting with worry

To escape at all cost.

When realization

Makes fools of us all,

Stand tongue-tied and mute

Never hearing that call.

Not too late does it happen

That sudden release,

Understanding, acceptance,

And finally, peace.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: I Found God in the Drums of ‘Boléro’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampTolkien, philosophy, music. This is one of my favourite posts, and it deserves to surface again.

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This article is inspired by the classical piece ‘Boléro’ (Link), by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) (Link). If you aren’t familiar with that piece, it should be considered required listening for the article to follow. You can find it here (Link).

I listened to this piece recently, and found an unexpected intensity within its plodding rhythm. I hadn’t put the song on for any specific reason, yet early in, I understood the depth of the moment I was having.

It should also be noted, perhaps, that I was at the time firmly entrenched in my (11th?) reading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Silmarillion’ (Link), a book to which I ascribe particular inspiration. So you should probably read that, too.

Nonetheless, my revelation started with the first beat of that oh-so-familiar snare-drum. Described as an ‘ostinato’, the pulsing rhythm of this opening drum continues throughout the entire song, remaining constant as everything else is thrown into chaos.

It struck me immediately as terribly spiritual, although it took me a while to articulate exactly why that was.

You see, in ‘The Silmarillion’, the one God, Eru Illúvatar, conceives of creation as music—performed by his angels, the Ainur. The Ainur sing his tune, but among them is the spirit Melkor, who sews discord into the song, and causes turmoil. Some of the Ainur join in Melkor’s discord, while Eru adds new themes to the music to counterbalance Melkor’s efforts.

In the end, when all music stops, Illúvatar offers the Ainur an opportunity to see what they have done, and creates the world and all existence to reflect the reality of his divine tune. Unto the Ainur he says, “Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.” (Pg. 17)

Since childhood, this story always struck me as one of the most apt and inspiring metaphorical representations of the divine will. And so, as I listened to the ever-increasing notes of ‘Boléro’ rising above and competing with the persistent drum-beat in the background, this was the idea that settled in my mind.

The Silmarillion goes on to tell of the events of Middle-Earth being a representation of the Music of the Ainur, and assures us that although great evil does occur, its power is limited, and in the end all things turn to the greater good. This requires a lot of faith, but it’s something I’ve held onto since first reading it as a young elementary school boy—hoping that it would prove true in our world as it does in this fantastical place.

Throughout the duration of ‘Boléro’, the snare drums maintain their eternal beat in perfect rhythm. Meanwhile, horns and woodwinds, strings and symbols are taken up against the drums. They increase endlessly throughout the song, rising to an incredible cacophony and very nearly drowning out the snare drums which are their source.

At times, the listener can barely hear the drums, but when the music changes, or when there is a brief silence in the din, they are ever to be found beneath the turmoil, just as they were before. Patient, persistent, eternal.

Taking this in, I couldn’t help but feel I heard God in those snare drums. The music rising against it was like the duelling theme of Melkor—want and greed and malice and destruction. These are present still in our world, and will often threaten to overwhelm the senses of those unguarded ears who know not how to find the consistency of Grace beneath.

Much like the confusion of the composition at hand, it’s easy to get lost in this world. These days, perhaps more than ever, the myriad distractions and temptations we meet each day are easily sufficient to overwhelm the senses and deafen us to reason and decency. It takes a concerted effort and a determined will for us to focus on what is right and just, when so much around us seems so dark and hopeless.

But of late, I have seen greater evidence of Grace and beauty in this world than I have long held possible. It’s buried no doubt, often times nearly beyond reach. And all the while the daily racket of industry, and want, and loneliness and grief compete for our ear, turning us away from the true rhythm of the world and focussing us only on ourselves.

But to miss the rhythm is to miss the point entirely.

For no matter how dismal the world can be, there is light to be found, and beneath the din there is the rhythm of Grace for any with the will to listen for it. Immutable and constant, it plods along as it always has, unaffected and undeterred by all the competing noise, and when the racket of distraction dies down, its beauty sounds out all the clearer.

I know it isn’t easy. The clamour of discontent can be deafening, and it is often all too easy to fall into this discord and march along with the madness rather than keep to course. But this is folly, for no matter how distant it may seem, for every evil there is goodness still. Where there is hate, there is also love. Where there is terror, there may also be found mercy. For the loneliness of a consumerist society there remains the comfort of the family home. There is friendship, and loyalty, and faith, and hope, and honour…for every conceivable darkness, there is a light which can still set things right.

The drums of decency pound on, and when the din of darkness rises too high for the ears to readily perceive them, all the more must we focus our hearts and minds to that eternal rhythm, and trust that all will unfold according to that divine beat.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Bushido of Bogney, Part III

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Bushido: (武士道) literally meaning “the way of the warrior”, is a Japanese word for the way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry in Europe. (Source)

Bogney: A tiny dog, wise for his years.

Today, we once again combine the old and the new for a fresh new perspective on life through the eyes of our classy canine friend. This is the daily living of a small dog. This is the extrapolated wisdom of the ages…This is the Bushido of Bogney.

-Click Here for Part I-

-Click Here for Part II-

The face of an animal may speak volumes to one who can read it.

As I prepare to leave for another day of work, I look upon the tiny dog I will leave behind. There is a sadness on his face, and it confuses me at first.

I am going to work—but he gets to stay home. Should I not be the sad one? He never has to work, he gets all that he wants provided for him. How can he be sad?

Bogney yawned and stretched. I saw the age in his face.

A thought occurred to me then.

If one human year is 7 dog years, one day must be the equivalent of a dog week.

If so, how similar it is to our own.

Bogney’s day begins with a walk, some play, and food. It is a relaxing joy, much like a Sunday.

This is followed however by a long stretch of time alone. He cannot do what he wants, eat what he likes, see who he wants to see, or go where he wants to go.

He sits, I assume, patiently waiting for this boring stretch of time to end. This is not unlike the work week.

Finally, I return to him, and he resumes with fun and play and food and happiness. This is much like a Saturday.

Suddenly, I understood how similar are the lives of dog and master.

I looked at Bogney anew.

What a somber realization, I thought.

His wise brown eyes agreed.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: EViL

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

This post was originally from March 19th, 2017. It remains sadly relevant however, and we thought it deserved a re-share.


In the great old stories, it’s never hard to spot the source of evil. It may be a winged beast, or a black rider, or a simple, unblazoned ring sitting on a table, just waiting to change the world…

In reality, however, it’s rarely so easy. Evil may take many guises, and come from any direction. Is evil inherent to humanity? Can it ever be prevented?

Education, equal opportunity and the provision of basic needs and human rights is the most obvious answer, for by removing the greatest temptations towards desperate actions, we are most likely to see them decrease. Yet there seems to be an evil in this world which pervades and permeates even the best intentions. It sprouts up no matter what we do. It finds the cracks, or makes them, and it’s dark blossom unfolds often where it is looked for the least.

Traditionally, there are two ends of the polarity in response. One is to be jaded and fearful, rejecting everything different lest it bring evil in with it. This may prevent the terror from without, but it transforms the hearts of people, and creates hatred and evil within.

The other side would be unending faith in the goodness of human kind, sometimes to the open denial of the gathering clouds. This is idealistic, and often this school of thought is quickly met by the bitter reminder that in the end, best intentions cannot ward off evil acts.

We cannot be too careful, or too careless. Vigilance is the price of peace, and those who would deny the presence of evil may soon suffer its harsh truth.

Alas that we do not have a ring to focus on and destroy. Evil is a more insidious thing than that, manifested most often in the sins of pride, greed, and avarice—the strongest motivators of human vice. We cannot see it, nor cast it into the volcano to banish it forever.

Yet the discerning heart can feel it grow. Where will it strike? None can say.

Still, if you pay attention, you can feel the tension in the air, smell the fresh tinders and see the sparks dancing against the black night sky. Old threats and bedtime stories are alive again. Evil grows…now is the time for heroes.

-Brad OH Inc.

Who Are We?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

One phrase that’s heard with depressing frequency these days is the impotent refrain of “this is not who we are”.

It begs the question—who are we?

That’s a pretty deep question to anyone but an asshole.

Personally, I’m a little bit different around pretty much everyone I know.

I notice their sense of humour, the tones and facial expressions they respond to best, establish nicknames and idioms to go back to in need.

Alone? That’s a wildcard.

Still, I don’t expect that’s what makes someone something.

Is it their actions?

Their stories?

The changes they’ve made?

The happiness they’ve created?

…Who am I?

A soul, lost and confused, trying it’s best to do good for the world. Taking it all in—the good, the bad, the perverse, the fanatical. Working to process it all, to understand it all, to bring it all together, and in the light remind it.

…Who it was in the beginning.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: The Evocation Series- ‘This is Your Sword’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

This is a re-share of an old post. We thought it would be a fitting—albeit one week late—tribute to fathers, and any parents who take the time to engage and teach their young, and who understand in action if not etymology, that the root of the word discipline is disciple.


The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and how to get involved yourself!

Bruce Springsteen- ‘This is Your Sword’

Song Link

I can still feel the warmth—curled up in the nook of her leg on that old flower-upholstered couch. So too can I recall the sound of his voice as he read page after page—taking me out into that road and off toward all the adventure and wonder to follow.

I heard of elves and men, dragons and orcs. Tales of courage and valor in the face of great odds, and of the importance of doing what is right, no matter how insignificant you may feel in the grand scheme of things.

We are all important, and we can all serve our role in making the world a better place.

…this is your Sword.

They would work together in the telling, and I would sit silent in rapture—broken only on occasion to ask some question or demand some clarification.

I learned about fellowships and faith, family and friends—about hope in the face of doubt, and love in spite of loss. I remember sitting wide-eyed as mercy and kindness prevailed over cruelty and despair.

I remember deciding that they truly could.

…this is your Shield.

‘The times they are dark, darkness covers the earth
But this world’s filled with the beauty of God’s work
Hold tight to your promise, stay righteous, stay strong
For the days of miracles will come along…’

…I still remember.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘Mirror Mirror’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

Blind Guardian- ‘Mirror Mirror’

Song Link

It’s a strange thing sometimes, to be a writer. Every once in a while, we must crawl out from our literary dens and take in the world around us. Like the groundhog portending the coming of spring we peek out, and a quick glimpse will usually suffice to fill us with sufficient terror and inspiration to send us scurrying back—loaded with ideas, and themes, and a terrible suspicion that the shock of venturing forth may simply not be worth it.

In the silence,

Words of wisdom.

I’ve seen the end of all,

Be aware the storm gets closer.

So, we settle into routine—reporting our fears and hopes from our places of silence and serenity. But what of the world without? The one we use to fuel our stories and mad speculations? As we create better, more hopeful worlds, what is left to those on the outside, living each day the sort of wild fantasies which we delegate to the domain of ink and paper?

Shall I leave my friends alone,

Hidden in my twilight hall?

I know the world is lost in fire,

Sure there is no way to turn it

Back to the old days.

There are moments of reprieve, no doubt. Short periods where the balance appears to be righting itself, and there seems to be some hope for the world. We can get lost in those moments. Still, the keen eye catches the small details, and it is clear, at the end of the day, that the hearts of humanity have not changed, and the course is still set for disaster.

Even though,

The storm calmed down.

The bitter end,

Is just a matter of time.

So, we create the heroes we need. We conjure them out of nothing and trap them with our words. We paint them clear as day—the honest men and women and hopeful children who could change this world in but a day if they were to unilaterally muster their passion for the purposes of decency and reinvention. They look good on those pages. Kind, beautiful, and utterly beyond our grasp.

Mirror Mirror on the wall,

True hope lies beyond the coast.

You’re a damned kind can’t you see,

That the winds will change?

In the end though, they are only stories after all.

-Brad OH Inc.