I am Lance Conrad, author of the Historian Tales series. My currently published books, The Price of Creation, The Price of Nobility, and The Weight of Swords are available through Amazon, Dawn Star Press, and other excellent booksellers. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Storm Remembered

   There is a beautiful storm going on outside. The sun has given up the fight and the clouds have decreed darkness. While walking out to put the windows up in my car (because I don't learn), I was reminded of another storm long ago and a moment of pure magic.
   I spent my teenage years running around the mountains of central Utah, often with moccasins on my feet and a Bowie knife on my belt. Nothing is really left of that time, I no longer live in the mountains, I stopped wearing moccasins after I had to kick out a windshield wearing them (less effective), and I lost the Bowie while falling down a mountain. All good stories, but not the one I'm telling here. Back to storms...
   Mountain storms naturally possess a certain fury, as if they resent anything living where nature should stand isolated. The storm in our story was an extreme example. Regular descriptions simply don't communicate the rage the sky was unleashing. So rather than waste time telling you what it wasn't, I'll skip right to "wrath of heaven." This was the kind of storm that lead our prehistoric ancestors to imagine a clash of gods.
   Naturally, I went out in it. I have never claimed an abundance of good sense and my teenage self lacked even the traces with which I now make due.
   It was a short walk I had to make out to our old shop, but I walked slowly, as if under a heavy weight. This doesn't reflect on my mood, I was having the time of my life. Rather, the weight I felt was more literal. The mass of rain on my head and shoulders seemed to multiply on top of itself until it felt like I was carrying a yoke of buckets.
   So I walked with my head down, shoulders and hands drooping while water coursed down them in rivers that played and splashed off my fingers. Slowly I raised my arms, palms down, to both sides of me, feeling the water press along my full wingspan.
   Then, like a rubber band released, came my moment of defiance. In a snapping motion, my head and arms threw backwards, revealing my face and palms to the storm in the unmistakable pose of a madman.
   In that second, that moment, that exact instant in time that the first drop hit my face, the world exploded. As if triggered by the same insane impulse, the storm unleashed a bolt of lightning that split the sky right before my eyes and a simultaneous crack of thunder that rocked the ground and vibrated every nerve in my body.
   Now folks, the majority of my mental makeup is scientific and rational. I know full well that such timing could only be coincidence. And yet, at the time I felt an assurance, deep in my core, that I had summoned that lightning. To this day, echoes of that feeling remain and I still grin at lightning clouds as if sharing a private joke.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Father's Smile

A Father’s Smile

Give me a man who smiles when he fights, for this is the bravest of all.
A man who can chuckle in full dark of night, undimmed when his back hits the wall.
But what is this madness, this bloody-toothed grin? Such a man is surely insane!
For life is all treachery, burdens, and sin. No saint could find joy in such pain.

But perhaps we’ll gain wisdom if we widen our vision, now what is this man fighting for?
For the cause fails early that pursues selfish missions, something else must put steel in the core.
Maybe his smile’s not a sign of vain glory, but perhaps he is watched by young eyes.
My respect’s for the man who shapes his own story, makes reality form to the guise.

Not for himself. No, that’s just not enough. The focus must shift to be pure.
You see, it’s a father who smiles when times get tough, His innocent ones to assure.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Difference Between Mothers and Heroes

“I can imagine no greater heroism than motherhood.”
                -Musings of the Historian

   Let me take a moment and give a further interpretation of that. I think I’d like to do that by giving three things that all heroes have in common, and how mothers exceed them in every possible way.
#1: Heroes answer the call…
   The princess has been kidnapped, the world is in danger, or the machines have rebelled and everyone is counting on you. Every hero gets this call at some point and they step up, leaving all else behind to go out on this great quest that will restore harmony to the natural order if they can win the day.
The call for mothers is never-ending, often trivial, and comes in a variety of high pitches that scratch on the nerves. The world isn’t in danger, but diapers are full, knees are scraped, and homework assignments are suddenly remembered. These calls don’t come once, they come every day. This avalanche of small troubles, enough to bury anyone, must be answered. For while world safety might not be at stake, the world’s future certainly is.
…mothers answer every call

#2: Heroes have what it takes…
Intelligence, strength, determination, fortitude, bravery, and any number of other key elements factor into a hero’s make up. Something sets them apart, made them the one and only person who could have pulled off their ultimate task. We have even created an entire modern mythology of heroes that have superhuman abilities that allow them to battle greater odds than any mere mortal ever could.
I have traveled far and seen a great many wonderful mothers. While this might be the day to paint them as perfect, there is a higher point that must be made. Every mother I have ever met had an entire smorgasbord of failings. They weren’t strong enough to change their own flat tire, they weren’t educated enough to figure out that particular homework assignment, or weren’t brave enough to meet all of life’s challenges with a laugh and a smile.
More often, I have seen mothers who cry themselves to sleep, and can barely drag themselves out of bed in the morning to meet the new day. I have seen them break. Mothers despair and complain, they fail and bleed. Therefore, no one is more surprised than the mother herself to discover, when all is said and done, that what they have said and done was enough.
…mothers usually don’t, but they do it anyways.

3: Heroes are willing to die for their cause…
Isn’t that the ultimate sacrifice? Isn’t that what we demand from our heroes? Perhaps it might not end that way, and we cheer loudest when they manage to survive the day, but we would not respect any hero who wasn’t willing to make that jump, to risk ending it all. All of their possible future experiences and joys placed on the altar so the greater good might be served.
I have made no secret of the fact that I dream of such a thing, one glorious moment of reckless valor, my life traded for someone else’s. For this reason, I leave my house every day with the undercurrent of hope that today will be the day I push a little boy out of the way of a careening bus or save an old lady from the attacks of a vicious gang of thugs. But I want one thing made abundantly clear: this is not bravery. It is, if anything, an admission of my cowardice. The thought of one moment and done scares me far less than the crushing weight of years, an entire lifetime of anxiety and pain.
In this arena, mothers surpass me effortlessly. Many of the things we fear to lose in death are often lost to them already. Fulfilling careers, vibrant social lives, a good night’s sleep, great adventures filled with laughter and safety nets, and even the occasional night out on the town are part of what a woman gives up when she opts instead to feel a helpless hand gripping her finger.
Worst of all, every mother must carry in her heart the fear that, for everything she can do or give up, she can never be sure her child won’t be taken away. The universe loves its tragic coincidences, and every mother must acknowledge the possibility of one day standing graveside, surrounded by people who cannot possibly understand, and all her sacrifices paid only for fading memories. I think this is one reason why mothers are so much closer to God. After all, what prophet has ever prayed more than a mother?
…mothers live for theirs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Political Lance

   You might expect from the title that I am going to launch into some tirade against the Democrats, the Republicans, gay marriage, abortion, or even Obama. I'm not going to do that, and for one simple reason:
   I'm not an idiot.
   There's enough of those on the internet to choke a horse, along with the brain of every thinking individual who was careless enough to get drawn in to that crap-slinging contest. Frankly, I wouldn't change a single mind. I would succeed only in making those who agree with me feel more validated and those who don't feel more angry.
   Instead, let me make two very strong pleas that I hope might actually sink in somewhere. I imagine I'll still manage to anger some people, but let's be honest, they were already angry.
Plea #1: Please stop making fun of the President of the United States of America.
   To clarify, I am talking only about the man and the office. His policies and decisions are free game and can (and should be) attacked with vigor and eloquence. Our founding fathers would expect no less of us. However, from the beginning, we still respected the office.
   The man who sits in the oval office is a symbol of our country and what we stand for. That thought might make you feel a little sick, but stick with me. Like it or not, that's how it is, and when he looks ridiculous, our whole nation looks ridiculous to the world. And yes, that includes you. That being the case, why would we be the first ones in line to throw that stone?
   We're breaking down our own house and cheapening the dignity of the office for everyone who comes after. It is a short-sighted political tool that backfires horribly when your boy gets into office and the public you got riled up about the last President is still in the tomato-throwing mood.
   Seriously, stop. I agree with almost nothing Obama has done and some of it makes me downright angry. Still, if I were to meet him in person, I would shake his hand and call him Mr. President, because that's the leader of our nation. And when I see posts and memes criticizing something personal or having him dance around in a dress, I don't laugh or like, I roll my eyes and scroll on.
I invite you to do the same. Let's try to return some dignity to our political environment.
Plea #2: Consider the career and teach our youth the same.
   Politician. What feelings does the word inspire in your mind? If you're anything like me, it's a mixture of derision and contempt. The political world as a whole is corrupt and slimy and no honest man or woman will touch it with a ten foot pole. That's how we all see it. So why are we so surprised when all we have to vote for come election time is Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum?
   I'm sorry, folks, but the old wisdom holds true: crap in, crap out. If the honest, fervent people of the world won't enter the political arena, then our country will continue to be run by those who get into it because they have an axe to grind, an agenda to pursue, or couldn't succeed at anything else!
   Think of what we teach our kids to aspire to, maybe little Johnny will become a scientist, an engineer, or a doctor. All fine things, but there was a time when good kids wanted to grow up to be President!
   Maybe we need to find our way back to that.