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Big Stuff and Good Stuff and just “stuff”

by Joyce Johnson


Sitting here at my big computer monitor, 28 by 32 or so inches, I am grateful to my friend for his generous gift. Big monitors are expensive if new, but people don’t use them much anymore because our smarty-pants cell phones steal all the computer apps and literally put the world in the palm of your hand. That’s big, but not altogether good.


To discuss our new habits, we skimp on communication on these little gizmos. And I heard with alarm, they are putting smartphones and headsets on babies ears and in their hands. Google the health hazards of smartphones and see the eye-popping cautions in general that we need to know about. Non mainstream search engines are more holistic. I use Presearch. What else?


I use a stylus (from Radio Shack) instead of my finger for my smartphone. But here’s a little hint, best not play games on the little gizmo in bed at all. The phone gets very hot after a few minutes. The energy in smartphones affects your brain and it is no surprise that at best, sleep problems are epidemic. Sorry, but true. I see so many of you out there bent over your smartphones and know you do the same with laptops, and I know that you are taxing your posture. I sit two and half feet from my monitor bolt upright, chin out, screen at the right height. My hands gently tap the soon to become obsolete (?) keyboard, and I use a cordless mouse with a soft grain bag under my wrist. I am so comfortable that time flies and I spend way too much time here but love writing columns for you!


But, I ask you, who doesn’t just walk by and sit down to rest a minute at the computer. Maybe see what’s new on FB, or pull up a game of solitaire to occupy the left side of your brain.

Mean while the right side floats on a raft in an imaginary pool, free of the “know it all” tyrant of the left brain. But three hours pass as one, on the right side of the brain, did you know, like what happens when you’re into a good book. Which reminds me of irreplaceable novels. I was digging for books at the Community Closet and pulled up a big old volume from the free bin—Michener’s, Texas. I was so surprised to find the great classic there. Most books were non-fiction. One of the best writers in American history, James Michener, entertains the reader with great story telling while he inspires wisdom taught from the novelized truth—where by the way we learn history holistically. Texas is the heart of the country in a many ways. Like a brother to Montana. Many of us have ancestors there. The first great herds of cattle were driven here from Texas. Texas is the biggest state and big in oil, cattle, patriotism, courage, independence and toughness, and built from the efforts of a diverse mix of race and culture. In short, its Very American. And, Texas, the book, is big too, weighs 4 pounds and has 1076 pages. So big and heavy, that when I doze off, it slides off my lap and wakes me with a big boom as it hits the floor. Michener took many years to gather data and write the manuscripts for all his books, but this is his biggest one. TV series have replaced the great epic stories. When reading the great novels, the mind and imagination time-travels all over the galaxy, lives many lives, and learns about the ancient pathways of civilization. Sadly, it’s faster and easier to get stuff online with a click, and many youth think I am just old fashioned.

Community Closet is big and getting bigger as a contributor to charity in our town. All of us are grateful for their service. I have to say it is a kick to stroll in there looking for a replacement toaster or something and toss a pair of jeans in my size over my arm, and maybe a big colorful blouse or tee that looks fun, oh and that pretty sofa pillow, and ok pick up another favorite glass coffee mug on the way to the checkout counter—and all for about 8 bucks, and less on discount Mondays. Some people prefer to buy spanking NEW stuff for what costs now I cannot guess—been so long since I’ve bought something new I confess. I love ABBI (Already Been Broken In) things. Our house has mostly ABBIs, and the lovely prints on our walls cost only a few bucks is all. In short, things don’t have to be expensive, or brand new to be cool. They can be rescued like pets or plants. Up-cycling is creative, fun and Earth loving.


Last, but not best, and not new either, is online big business marketing tricks aimed to hook us into some belief or another. “Tests prove” is to me, eye rollingly comical made up stuff to sound like irresistible deals to buy. I have noticed however, not so funny, is that the quantity and quality of stuff is shrinking and prices rising. Things look scary, but the good stuff of the failure of all that we see is that we are more and more turning to truth, healthy alternatives, self healing, and backing away from believing everything we hear, and from “stuff” addiction, and into up-cycling and barter markets. Might not be on the news, but lots of good stuff is happening.


I heard it first from my Russian boyfriend way back in college days. He used to say, “He who laughs last, laughs best.” To me, it is similar in meaning with this quote, “We were winning from the beginning.” It is healthy to laugh at ourselves and the nutzy stuff going on in the world—some of it is anyway. Don’t be afraid to say, “well, that’s not okay!” too. But it’s important to not let any of the funny stuff slip by before you have gotten the most laugh mileage out of it. Remember the message of the true story of the terminal cancer patient that checked into a motel with a bag of old Laurel and Hardy movies and laughed his butt off for about a week? His cancer regressed. The Good Stuff.


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