Behavior Modification Models

Behavior modification model 3: There is a man who lives in the sky. He is all-knowing and will punish or reward you as a result of your ability and willingness to abide by rules set forth in his book. If you find this claim illogical and refuse to believe in this man and/or his ability to punish you, you will be punished with an eternity of pain. This model may be most dangerous of the three as its most effective tool is fear. This model demands blind faith with the threat of punishment.

Behavior modification model 2: There is a man who lives at the North Pole. He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. He will reward you with physical compensation of monetary value as a result of your ability and willingness to abide by rules set forth by adults in your world. This second model requires the subject place significant value on physical gain. If the subject ever looses his or her desire for physical gain, this model will loose its effectiveness. Further, as culture states this specific faith should die as the subject reaches a certain age, the ability for the subject to discredit this model may increase as he/she grows older.

Behavior modification model 3: There is a little man who sits on the shelf in your room. He comes to life when you are not watching and reports your behavior to the man who lives at the North Pole. The benefit of this model is the fact that the physical presence of this little man is a constant reminder to the subject. Although all three models require a certain level of superstition on behalf of the subject, this third model at least provides a tangible representation of these powers said to give reward or deal punishment.

All three work to limit our actions, to modify our behavior, with the threat of punishment and promise of reward. They inspire us to engage in acts our society has deemed acceptable and refrain from engaging in acts our society has deemed unacceptable. As the second and third models may evolve with society, they may create little conflict. Our society’s current embodiment of the first model is taken from a book that was finished nearly 2,000 years ago. As society’s values and needs have changed, this book has not. Still, so many would seem to pour the evidence we find of a higher power through the funnel of religion in order to shape their philosophical perspectives. Ironically, when we let fear motivate us, we find ourselves further away from love. This fear of punishment is not of God. This fear was set in place by those who would manipulate the beauty that is our world into a way to control the masses.


The Competition and Love

It is widely accepted that it is physically impossible for two physical objects to occupy one space. Without this understanding, there would likely be no need to claim things for ourselves. If, in fact, multiple human bodies could occupy one space at the same time, there would be no need to specify living quarters for individuals. If our automobiles could occupy the same lane at the same time, there would be no need to claim one’s lane in traffic. for that matter, there would be no traffic. But these physical bodies divide us; They tell us this is mine and that is yours. In order to fuel these bodies, we must provide sustenance. This need for sustenance is often means to competition. This need for sustenance is often motivation to work 9:00 to 5:00 jobs we disenjoy. The alternative is hunger pains and sleeping on the streets. So we compete with each other for work, because work is means to sustenance.

Further, we compete for sex. As two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, there are only so many options when it comes to sexual acts. Could this be why men would seem more prone to competitive behaviors? Furthering this competition for sex, is the societal standard of monogamy. Monogamy binds one person to another, making each the other’s property. Of course there is much good to be said about monogamy. As monogamy restricts our behaviors, we become dependent upon the other for fulfillment, not only sexual fulfillment, but emotional fulfillment. In this culture of competition, familial ties are much more valuable than they would be otherwise. A child is born unto my wife and me. It is our responsibility to care this child until he/she can care for him/herself. Now, what if this child was viewed as a child the Earth. It is no longer my job to care for this child. It is our job to care for this child. What if I weren’t in competition with my brothers and sisters for sustenance, because there was enough for everyone to never have to go without?

I’d like to think that world is the world in which we live with the addition of a few simple tweaks. things make us slaves. We often trade our lives for paychecks, only to wake up at 65 with the first chance, but often not the ability, to really live our lives. And what will we have to show for those 50 or so years of work? By that time, the smart phones we spent so much on now will be obsolete. The nice cars we worked so hard to pay for, will have since broken down. Perhaps the fear of going without will have inspired us to save for a comfortable retirement. Now what would the world look like if we didn’t save for retirement, but used our money to provide for others in need? If we all did this, there would be no need to save; Further, there would be no need for fear of going without. Of course, if only a few of this live this way, we will surely suffer as a result of the rest of the world’s fear. Then again, maybe baby steps are the answer. Give as much as you can without putting yourself at risk. Hopefully our model will inspire others to feel less afraid and be more willing to care for others in need. Love can be infectious. It can be scary, but it will spread if we keep trying.

Christmas Morning 1992

It was Christmas morning 1992. The sun had been up for a full 10 minutes. I peered through the archway leading into the living room and gazed at the beautiful, shiny, colorfull boxes and bags under the tree. I knew I wasn’t to enter the lving room until my parent got out of bed.

Then the phone rang. It was my chance to bend this rule. In my socks, I walked quickly across the cold, stone floor. The presents’ pull of my vision a constant temptation. I stepped up onto the ledge into the kitchen and picked up the phone: “Hello”
“Hello, ma’am. This is Sheriff Jordan Schmidt. Is Mr. Force available?”
Being confused as a woman when speaking to strangers on the phone was a common inconvenience of my 8-year-old life. I told the sheriff with a sigh, “Hang on.”
I opened my parents’ bedroom door and my father rolled over to see me. “Dad, there is a sheriff on the phone.”

Dad picked up the phone by their bed and I listened by the door. After Dad spent a few moments on the phone, I knew by his tone we would not be opening presents right away. I returned to my bedroom and waited. Mom came in a few moments later and explained Grandma had had an accident.

As Grandpa explained it to the adults in my world, he had awoken in the middle of the night to find Grandma’s side of the bed empty. He didn’t realize something was amiss until the next morning.

My aunt expressed the perspective that his story was “complete bullshit”. Apparently, two hunters had found Grandma’s body in the wooded area near our house. There was much conversation in the following days regarding Grandma’s money. This man, my grandfather, was not my biological grandfather. My father’s father had died when I was very young. But I trusted Grandpa. He had never mislead me in the past. One afternoon, outside the courthouse where my father and his two sisters waged a court case against my grandfather, Grandpa told me he knew we all knew the story was a lie. The truth was, he told me, as they made their walk back from our house Christmas-eve, Grandma was run over by a reindeer.

Vigilante Hockey

My younger sister, Samantha, was 18 when she received her first inappropriate message from a man on Facebook. We lived in Anaheim, CA with our mother. Our father had left us when she was an infant. Perhaps this was why she sought out the attention of older men. Mom spent most of her time with her lips attached to the end of a bottle. I wasn’t always there for her, either. She was rather popular in school. Her body began maturing early. Of course this brought on all kinds of male attention. By the time she was 18, I was 23. But as early as freshman year, I spent most of my time at the ice rink. I didn’t want to be home. There was no reason for me to go home. As my aspirations for that “C” on my hockey jersey grew, so did my understanding that I needed to protect my sister. One evening, during practice, a teammate lost his shit. He threw down his stick and raced to the edge of the rink, where he pulled his sister’s boyfriend out onto the ice and gave him a good thrashing. It became clear to me my sister was not the only one with problems with men. After a heated conversation in the locker room, we decided to do something about this kind of behavior. Those men who were disrespectful to women would wake to find themselves tied to the goal posts of our ice rink. Dick pics would be met with duck pucks.

The Reason

As I entered adolescence, I developed a strong angst for the people of my world. By the time I reached the age of 20, I had become apathetic, bored as means of pacifying the rage. My parents had just divorced. I was helping my father move into his new apartment in Phoenix, AZ when I began showing signs of a brain tumor. When the doctor delivered the diagnosis, I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”. This was different. It was new. It was something to break up the monotony. Then, I didn’t die. It was almost a disappointment. Would I return to that life for which I had grown such hate? No. It was up to me to make it a better one. My experience of a lack of love in the world meant I needed to do what I could to put more into it.

Grains of Surplus

A clever cacophony of chaos
Municipal monarchs mostly man-made
The village hums electric
A canopy of innovation
A parade of clay gears tick
Water spins clean vibration
And we ride the wave as a part of us
Our mother, our sun, we all are one
Fire and smells of food cooking
We feel the grains of surplus sift through our fingers, knowing they can easily be reclaimed

High School Bully

I dreamed I walked out double doors of a school into a side courtyard area. Michael, my high school bully, and his companion Steven were there. The sight of them caused me to withdraw socially. Where I was ready to engage in social interaction before, I quickly wished I were invisible. The two began repeating a taunt aimed at me. It was in the pattern of language I’ve experienced in previous dreams: Repeated phrase, second phrase, repeated phrase, first deviation of second phrase, repeated phrase, second deviation of second phrase, repeated phrase, third deviation of second phrase… I faced downward, turned around, and slowly retreated back in through the doors out which I had just come.

In this world of wakefulness, Michael had tormented me a bit during my first year of high school. We shared a class and ended up sitting right next to each other the entire year. I believe I initially saw him as a potential friend and voluntarily sat next to him that first class period. After he began repeatedly slapping the back of my head, I quickly realized the error in my perception of him. I did nothing other than attempt to use my words to try to stop him. Then the teacher announced these would be our seats for the remainder of the year. I figured I could deal with it. I had learned, from a young age, to be passive. It seemed that passivity was the best way to keep the peace. My father once told me I should not be a martyr. By this point, I had already learned I was better off temporarily sacrificing my happiness for the greater good. I recall, sitting in my seat, waiting for Michael’s slaps to stop so I could continue to attempt to fit in. Social acceptance was so important to me at this time. I tried to befriend Steven. Although he was somewhat cordial toward me, he continued to keep me at arm’s length. I felt fortunate that I had no other potential friends in this class. It was better for me to take this punishment than have my potential friends see me as this weakling.

I dealt with symptoms of depression throughout most of this school year. I constantly tried on new hats, attempting to find a way to better fit into this social group I had chosen. Michael and Steven rode the same school bus as I did and only lived a few blocks away from my house. Once, on the ride home, I asked them if they wanted to buy some pot. I had no pot to offer them and told myself I just fucking with them. The next day, after school, Dad wanted to throw the football. I knew this meant I was in trouble for something. Apparently Michael and his mother had confronted my father at his work, demanding my father do something about his son, the drug dealer.

If I remember correctly, shortly after this, during class, as Michael slapped the back of my head, I sprang from my chair, choking him for a moment, before returning to my seat. I was a volcano of rage. The teacher, who had watched the abuse all year, paused from his speaking only for a moment before returning to his discussion. I believe Michael’s slapping me stopped after this. I remember feeling regret for the fact that I’d let it go on so long.

A friend of mine recently expressed to me the opinion that love is means to passivity. It certainly was anger that inspired me to end Michael’s abuse. But I suspect it was a lack of love for myself that let the abuse go on for as long as it did. If I were not so incredibly insecure, I might’ve stood up for myself a long time before I let the anger boil over. If I were confident in myself, I could’ve asked the teacher to be moved. I’ve since learned that I don’t have to bottle up my feelings. I deserve to feel whatever I feel I should. At the same time, I try to see all sides before becoming angry. In my experience, anger comes from a personal sense of entitlement and not empathy. Looking back at my experience with Michael, I think he was probably being abused at home.


Today, I was given a chance to be super angry and another to resist this and treat people with love in spite of my predicament. I’m attempting to do the I Love You challenge today. If you are unfamiliar, please check out their Website: So I ordered a GoPro camera from the BestBuy Website and opted to pick it up in San Marcos. I live in Austin. I drove to San Marcos and found the Best Buy only to be told by the staff there that they didn’t have the camera I ordered in stock. Apparently there was some sort of glitch with the order and, although they had the camera in stock when I began placing my order, someone had bought the last one just before I checked out. I smiled and joked with staff as they attempted to discover the issue and spent some time going through several different programs attempting to order the camera for delivery before deciding the item was no longer available. I joked once more with the staff member and left with a smile on my face. I’m so grateful to have had this experience. It is just incredible to have this understanding that life is what we make it. 🙂

Street Lit Writing Prompt 10/14/17

To my recollection, the first time I died went like this: I was 20 and angry with everyone in my world. Not just my world, The world. Everyone was selfish. We were destroying our planet and I, I didn’t belong on it, in it, to begin with. I was not enough. Therefor nothing was enough for me. Square peg meet round hole. I wished for it all to end, but was too cowardly to end it. Then, when I was 20, I began having severe, crippling headaches. To my knowledge there was nothing new about this. This pain was just a part of the world I knew. Life was merciless. I rode the pain as though it were inevitable. If there was a god, it hated me. But there wasn’t a god. There was nothing to save me. I deserved the pain. I would’ve caused it to myself if I valued any sense of justice. But I didn’t. I took for myself, because the world took for themselves. There was no charity without the expect of some kind of return, be it in this life or some made-up next, no altruism. I was content with riding out this life of pain. It was my obligation to my mother than drove me to the family physician and then the MRI lab. When the doctor gave me my results the next day, I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”. Then doctors and nurses. war at night. A spaceship. And I was reborn at the age of twenty with the understanding that the world was what I made it.