Image for post
Image for post
Photo courtesy of cottonbro at pexels.com

I am haunted by the 80’s. Maybe that is because it was the decade where so much happened in such a short period of time in my life, although it may as well have been an eternity while I was living it.

I was only 8 years old on the dark December day in 1980 when John Lennon was killed by the deranged Mark David Chapman. I vaguely remember hearing about it on the Nightly news one evening as I sat beside my mother on the couch bogged down in homework. I don’t think I really knew who John Lennon was at that time, or how much the world had just lost. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Donald Tong from Pexels

With 2020 nearing a close one thing at least most of us can agree on is that it has not been a good year for much. A lot of tragedy. A lot of civil unrest. Loss of lives and livelihoods. A lot of bad politics. If there has been a silver lining anywhere to be found it is perhaps that we have had a chance to slow down a little and more carefully evaluate what is truly important to us and what is not.

It has been a highly profitable year for streaming platforms with so many people in lock down for weeks or months depending on where you are and what you do. Thanks to Netflix and Hulu and all the rest there is never a shortage of things to binge-watch, whatever your tastes, for some much-needed distraction. In my case, I always seem to gravitate toward documentary film. If you are like me in that regard, good news; some first-rate docs have been released this year. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Mark Alden

Each time she returns to the same spot near the end of the gravel drive, under the maple tree.

At a distant glance (and it’s never more than that) she doesn’t appear to have aged a single day in what has been nearly twenty-seven years.

I’ve always been a bit skeptical, perhaps, too cynical, to believe in the supernatural, so the first shadowy glimpse of her I quickly dismissed as a combination of eye strain and an overworked mind playing tricks on me. Then it happened again. And again, soon after that. Over the span of a month or so, I lost count of the sightings. Sometimes now, I won’t see her for days at a stretch, then suddenly, out of a smoldering orange dusk or a grey misty dawn, she’ll be there, sitting cross-legged in the grass or shivering in the rain. No matter the weather, she’s wearing the same clothes I last saw her in — denim cutoff shorts with a dusty blue top. …


How Much Of What We Think We Remember Actually Happened?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo courtesy of Pexels public domain pictures

The 400,000 plus-year-old human brain, still by far the greatest supercomputer in the history of the planet, might even be more expansive than originally thought, including where it pertains to information storage capacity according to a 2016 article published in Scientific American. The article estimates the human brain to be somewhere in the vicinity of a quadrillion bytes. In other words, the libraries of the mind are well stocked.

It has been estimated that the human brain on average has around 50,000 thoughts per day. Is it any wonder then why we have such a hard time staying focused on a single task? Even though scientists will likely never know the full scope of the human brain, one thing is certain, everything we’ve learned, every experience, every conversation, taste, smell, sensation, kiss, book read, film watched, piece of music listened to… it’s all there, tucked away somewhere in the deepest caverns of our mind, and anything we’ve experienced, anything at all, however induced, can come floating back to the surface of our consciousness in an instant resulting in a flood of fond memories, waves of euphoria, or profound sadness. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kendall Hoopes from Pexels

I missed the swearing in ceremony, and about half of Biden’s speech on Wednesday. The half I did manage to catch sounded a bit familiar — promises, promises — but at least the tone had changed, finally words America needed to hear from its president again — ideas of unity and peace, ideas of setting personal differences aside to focus on beating back a pandemic that has now claimed over 400,000 American lives.

That said, the speech is probably the least of what I will remember. What I will remember most are stark images of an empty National Mall, save for rows upon rows of flags flapping in the wind and a wall of armed National Guard troops and police officers who had to be brought in to secure the ceremony. I will remember Garth Brooks belting out a pretty nice rendition of Amazing Grace after Biden’s speech was over, but most of all I will remember a young poet who I had never before heard of by the name of Amanda Gorman.


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Michael Judkins from Pexels

When it comes to politics, especially the Trump presidency, I thought nothing could shock or surprise me anymore. I was wrong. After last week’s riot at the capitol building that left five people dead, — one a police officer — senator’s, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Tommy Tuberville, Roger Marshall, John Kennedy, and Cindy Hyde-Smith stayed their course, and despite the violence and looting that had taken place earlier decided to shamelessly proceed with their objections to the final electoral count confirming Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Amine M’Siouri from Pexels

I grew up in a religious cult. I was only about four years old when my parents joined. It was the backdrop of my childhood — the only way of life I knew until I became an adult, moved away from home, and began a life of my own. Even then, I had a hard time using the ugly word cult in reference to the religion until I finally realized there was little point in trying to paint a prettier face on it. As it turned out, all I needed was a little separation to provide me with some much-needed clarity. Things I had grown up thinking of as normal I came to discover were anything but. Ever since, I have grappled with the question of how my parents ever got indoctrinated into the religion in the first place. Then, my curiosity grew, and I began to wonder how intelligent, seemingly rational people all over the world get lured into any kind of cult or rigid belief system, religious or otherwise. …

About

Mark Alden

Writer and bookseller. I write for my sanity and to try to make some sort sense out of the chaos. markaldenwriter@gmail.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store