Paul Steven Stone’s Greatest Hits, #1 in a series

GOT GREAT CREATIVE?

And so my wife Amy says to me, “You’re in advertising, why don’t you advertise what you have to sell?” Which struck me as a pretty good idea and led me to this particular endeavor: hauling out some of my favorite ads and branding messages to reach new potential clients who might be in the market for a super-creative writer, copywriter, or creative director. This business loan ad was one in a series of ads that showed Rockland Credit Union obviously spending little on their advertising so they could invest their money in the community. One of my favorite campaigns. If you’re ready to create a unique, memorable brand for your business, or merely need to develop a few high-impact advertisements to get your message across, give me a shout at PaulStevenStone@gmail.com or 857-389-2158. And if you’re interested in seeing more of my creative work, check me out at www.PaulStevenStone.com.

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A Declaration of Interdependence

scrollWE THE PEOPLE of the free and independent United States herby declare our interconnectedness and responsibility for one another. Recognizing that we were originally formed as a political unit to throw off the cruelties and deprivations of a despotic ruler, we re-commit ourselves to those principles which set us apart from nations whose inhumanity and enrichment of their ruling classes have repressed and inflicted undue harm upon their general populations from time immemorial.

In light of recent activities and political maneuverings by the moneyed classes of our society, we feel the need to once again state those values we believe are embodied or implied in both our nation’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence, namely that…

  • All citizens are entitled to unhindered access to those essentials necessary in a modern society to foster Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, including a healthy diet, safe and affordable housing, an advanced education, an unbiased political system, freedom from fear or repression, and a government committed as an overriding philosophy to the avoidance of war and the pursuit of peace.
  • To secure such essentials, it is necessary to immediately develop and institute such rules of behavior and political jurisprudence that acknowledge and reestablish the equality of all individuals in our society; those actions to include…

-Removing the power and influence of money from all democratic institutions and political activities, understanding that, far from engendering free speech, the unfettered flow of money will allow moneyed interests to drown out the voices of those with lesser wealth or influence;

– Restoring a fair and equitable tax system that recognizes all individuals benefit equally from systems, protections and services provided by our national and local governments, and that more should be expected from those who because of circumstance or dint of effort have a preponderance of a nation’s wealth, while less should be taken from those who have little enough for themselves;

– Restoring equal justice and punishment to those at all levels of our society, so that those who caused economic chaos and destruction in pursuit of their own selfish outcomes, as well as those who unleashed the dogs of war for no good cause, and those who authorized or committed acts of torture, are given a fair and impartial trial before the eyes of the world, as a lesson to others and a clear indicator of our commitment to the rule of law, even for the most powerful among us;

– Gradually reducing the country’s dependence on, and thrall to, the military industrial complex. Recognizing that, as we’ve recently seen, weak-minded or short-sighted leaders can make unfortunate military decisions that often result in unnecessary death, destruction and the wasteful expenditure of national wealth. Also recognizing that the maintenance of a large global military footprint not only increases the likelihood of a country being drawn into war, but significantly reduces those assets available for keeping commitments to its citizens at all levels of the socio-economic ladder.

We offer the above Declaration of Interdependence as a road map for our country to begin returning to its rightful path, to once again become a beacon on a hill to other nations, a paragon of virtue among world powers, driven equally by principle and compassion, and untroubled by the internal strife that rules public debate when blind self-interest and self-righteous bravado hold sway.

So offered for consideration on this Fourth of July, 2015.

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Offered again at the anniversary of our nation’s founding in the hope that we can once again find our way through the dark to a higher sense of ourselves and our commitment to each other.

So may it be!

PSS

 

When Mary Wed Abby

handsI offer this previously published essay in celebration of the United States Supreme Court’s decision last Friday to strike down state laws that discriminate against same-sex marriages. The essay was written in 2003, soon after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled such discrimination unconstitutional. Almost immediately after that ruling, Reverend Ken Read-Brown of Old Ship Church in Hingham officiated at the marriage between two women of the congregation who, after years of sharing their love on the fringes of society’s acceptance, were finally allowed to step openly into the center where all God’s children belong. 

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THE WATER IS WIDE

The water is wide, I can’t cross over
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

Once, long ago, they charted different courses and followed different stars as they sailed toward their destiny and ever closer to each other. Neither knew the other would appear along the way like a treasured companion once lost and now found, nor that all of us—a church filled with friends, relatives and well-wishers—would gather to celebrate and honor this love they had shared for seventeen years.

There is a ship and she sails the sea
She’s loaded deep as deep can be
But not as deep as the love I’m in
I know not how I sink or swim

Theirs was a voyage and a love affair not embarked upon lightly. Two women whose intentions of the heart broke society’s rules of acceptable behavior with each smile and tender thought that passed between them. Now, no longer guilty of some unnameable crime, no longer forced to hide their love as if it were shameful, no longer barred from rites and privileges held high and unreachable by a world so myopic it could only recognize the most ordinary of love’s many guises, they came to our church to sanctify and solemnize their bond.

Oh, love is handsome and love is fine
The sweetest flower when first it’s new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like summer dew

How the heart overflowed to see their faces lit with joy and, yes, the nervous uncertainty of brides. How like brass horns welcoming home a host of angels did the words of the brief ceremony cut through the darkness of our separate lives to feed our hungry spirits. We were there to celebrate life and love, and to bear witness to two lives joining as one. There was no place in this centuries-old sanctuary for fears or concerns about hateful people, peevish politicians or homophobic religious groups. Such negativity could not be kept at bay indefinitely, but it would not find itself a welcome guest at this particular wedding.

The water is wide, I can’t cross over,
And neither have I wings to fly
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

Now they are wed. The two are joined as one. And the voyages they chart, the waters they navigate, will from this day forward be mapped out on a single axis. A few short years ago, no one could have predicted we’d gather today to celebrate their marriage, in a church that has seen marriage vows exchanged hundreds of times in its 329 years. And though something profoundly different happened this morning, something also remained profoundly unchanged. So that one day, perhaps, with the sharp vision hindsight often brings, it may seem less significant that two women were married this day than that love, once again, overcame all obstacles.

Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I
And both shall row, my love and I

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Copyright ©2004 Paul Steven Stone
“Water is Wide,” traditional lyrics

 

Delusions Without Grandeur

How deluded you are, my friend, to blithely accept the reality of the world your parents handed down!

BuddhaI can only wonder if I myself—callow youth that I was—displayed the same innocence and unquestioning nature when I was your age. Just like you, my parents never doubted, or ever really thought about, the assumptions that were the foundation of their lives. They taught me to believe all creatures move through their lives with no greater purpose than to travel from Point A to Point Z, acquiring friends, possessions and obligations along the way, inexorably and instinctively moving from birth to death, womb to tomb, with little more thought to higher matters than a slug experiences while sliming its way across the slate walkway of a garden path.

Only later, once I put aside childish things, did I realize that, in spite of my sluggishness, I was actually crawling across a beautiful garden, and that the spiritual aspect to this life was lush and all-pervasive, merely well-hidden and closely-guarded against prying eyes or immature minds. So much so that I rarely ever thought about it during the length of my days, nor pondered its significance.

Like most human beings I was easily satisfied with the Cliff Notes version of Life and quick to ignore the complexities around me.

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Excerpted from “Perfidious Blossom”, a novel in progress by Paul Steven Stone

 

Oh Captain, My Captain!

boat

Scene of the crime. Note the harmless looking buoy that mischievously refused to be hooked up at ride’s end.

He never aspired to greatness when it came to navigating bodies of water. Salt-laden or spring fed, large or small, Atlantic Ocean or Plymouth pond, it didn’t matter. He knew his place in the world, and it was not in a vessel afloat on water wearing the captain’s mantle. His destiny was that of a passenger or crew member. His comfort lay in never making decisions that affected the well being of a boat or the safety of its passengers.

And now, at the tender age of 69, he suffered a temporary loss of self-awareness that saw him purchase an inflatable boat so small as to be unfit for carrying more than three slim and motionless passengers at the same time. Though if they weren’t so difficult to bring on board, he would have preferred his passengers to be comatose, which guaranteed their weight would never shift. But then again, he correctly figured, the inflatable dinghy had little room to cater to the needs of supine or prostrate passengers.

And so, on a recent morning, he boarded his craft and set out by himself to voyage on a nearby pond where the craft was moored.

How easy to blithely declare “he boarded his craft and set out by himself to voyage on a nearby pond.” Much easier, it turns out, than it actually was to board his craft or voyage on the pond. For one thing (and remember we are speaking about a 69 year old sailor) our brave adventurer had considerable difficulty jumping into the boat at the depth it was moored.

The only rock  visible on the 62 acre pond. Can you sense it's magnetic pull?

The only rock visible on the 62 acre pond. Can you sense it’s magnetic pull?

Before he could board his craft, after numerous attempts, he needed to guide it into shallower depths where he could essentially step into the boat one foot at a time. Fortunately, the electric motor allowed for such shallow depths, its shaft and propeller easily pivoting out of the water. Once, of course, he finally remembered to release the catch. This the same valiant motor, which had lately survived an ignominious submersion when the inflatable boat had flipped upside down in unusually blustery, if not hostile, winds.

Clearly, to those with eyes to see, casual boating was not for the faint of heart or those fully ripened in their years.

And did I mention the wind?

Yes, there was a wind blowing this fateful morning. A strong wind that created a current he could see rippling across the surface of the pond. A wind so strong, he quickly surmised, that his modest motor could not easily steer the flat-bottomed, lightweight boat in any direction that resisted the wind’s steady resolve. And so after a brief excursion to the center of the pond our venerable skipper decided to cut his voyage short.

"IT'S NOT A ROPE; IT'S CALLED LINE!"

“IT’S NOT A ROPE; IT’S CALLED LINE!”

As if to prove the danger inherent on the water, and the wisdom in his decision to cut and run, our captain entangled the motor’s propeller in an errant coil of rope—“IT’S NOT ROPE, IT’S CALLED LINE,” his wife, who grew up on boats, repeatedly told him—and found himself magnetically drawn to the three hazards that surrounded his cottage’s shoreline.

First, he ran over a giant branch whose spindly grasping limbs reached out from the water like witches’ fingers issuing a stern warning. A warning he was unfortunately unable to heed, much as he and his fouled, struggling motor would try.

Next, after safely untangling the propeller and feeling newly invigorated, he and his boat were inexorably drawn into the rough facing of the only rock that stands above the surface in the entire expanse of the pond’s 62 acres.

Lastly, as if to end his voyage on a note of poetic irony, he was swept into, and half across, the buoy whose mooring line he was desperately reaching for.

The day before he had taken his 5-year old granddaughter for a boat ride without noticeable wind or incident except, as he explained to her mother, “I have trouble parking,” which he proceeded to prove at journey’s end by ingloriously falling out of the boat. This day was no different as he attempted to dismount the boat and ultimately found himself falling head-first into the shallow depths and struggling once again to regain his footing. Almost immediately, as he surfaced, he realized the boat’s electric motor was still engaged, or had re-engaged by accident, and quickly and energetically—for a man his age—chased the boat down and turned off the motor.

No applause, please!

And so we leave our stalwart senior once again on land and once again shivering in his wetness in the wind. Nothing seriously hurt except perhaps his vanity. In the last few weeks he has spent more time in these pond waters than he had the six previous summers. First there was the mooring that had to be set up; the knots that had to be tied and re-tied. Then the rains came, sending him out twice in two days. First to rescue the battery that was dangerously close to having its plastic case breached by the accumulating rain water. Second, to bail out the rain water. Next, he had to go in to rescue his overturned boat and motor. Then lastly, once again into the water to restore the boat to its mooring.

Now, it bobs gently on the water, pretending to be easily boarded and safely steered wherever whim or whimsy might take it. And maybe someday he’ll believe that’s true.

But for now, it seems truer that—to quote the poet—“Home is the sailor, home from the sea.” To which I would only add…

“And the clumsy captain free from his pond.”