When a life direction is left to a choice between the lesser of two bad things, do not put off making the decision. Weigh the results in your head, make YOUR choice, and live with the outcome. Procrastination only leads to the choice being made for you by eventual consequence. And that rarely turns out good…
Revenge… Vengeance.. Getting even… Oh, that person did me wrong and they’re going to pay.. We all feel it at one time or another in our lives; for some people, they feel it every time they get behind the wheel of a car. It is one of those base emotions that we as human beings have hard wired into our souls. The thought that someone has injured you in some way or that they bested you unfairly triggers something primitive deep in our souls; something that challenges the very root of who we truly are deep inside.
Well, I don’t know. Maybe we need to try and see it for what it is. It seems that the thought of vengeance only fills a person with energy that would be better served in another direction. Perhaps the consuming thought of passion is just allowing the action of the original injury to continue hurting you. There is a Latin proverb that says, “Revenge is a confession of pain” that echoes that feeling. But the confession here just keeps festering and hurting you. The wound is never allowed to heal..
So where does that lead you inside? Are you to sit back and allow people to do crappy things against you? Does the forgiving and moving on allow the other to think it’s ok to do it again and again? Well, I guess, yes and no… I tell my children that they need to stand up for themselves. Plain and simple, if the bully thinks that can hurt you, they will. But I also teach tolerance, understanding, and patience, hopefully by example. Because, you know, that is one of those things that spoken words really hold no symbolic meaning for until experienced. But I hope they see that getting even is not the answer. Better to stand for something that is better and stronger so that others will not feel the need to injure or harm. At least not on purpose..
And that’s what it boils down to, Choosing to take the higher road, deciding that getting even is more harmful than beneficial might be the best alternative… Personally, I am beginning to realize that it is better just to have a better life than the other person, to be that thing that they can only wish to be. If they don’t have the understanding or the inclination to recognize the better life, then I really am wasting my time plotting there downfall and hurt. Better to leave it alone…
But you know of course, all that is in a better world, a place where my mind can act in harmonious union with my actions. I must admit, those occasional thoughts of embarrassing that person on live national TV still tickles my brain from time to time. I am just saying…….
A friend of mine says “man, I am really empty inside”… I pause, give it a moment and reply “but there is so much more than what you are seeing, the flowers still glisten in the morning dew, people still help one another without seeking glory, love still exists in the hearts of the saddened, the children still laugh in sweet and unknown innocence…. it will all be ok…..”
They paused, took a deep breath and replied, “I just meant I was hungry Lee”……
And there was this small woman, older, healthy, a bit overweight but that was probably hibernation insulation; she stood there at the convenience store counter with her lottery ticket in hand beaming as if she had won God’s own jackpot.… “and when I win, I plan on big things, yessiree… Ima gonna buy that car for my grandson, he wants so he can carry those babies to and from school in heat and air… and of course Ima gonna buy Ms Lita those shoes she needs to help her walk fine cause I love to see her smile when she’s happy… and you know, Ima gonna buy those fancy rain slickers for all the ladies in my bible school so they don’t hafta get wet when its raining outside, and of course that new couple down the street with those new babies, I heard their fridge is busted and wont work, gotta get a new one for them”…… and on she went.. I got tickled listening to her carry on but I was late..
I excused myself, reached past her, paid for my gas, and went back and filled the truck. By the time I finished, she was rambling out of the store and getting in her extremely old and very much used car. Wow, she should have wished for a car for herself but she didn’t.. In fact, she really didn’t wish for anything for herself.. Then it occurred to me.. I guess in her own world, she already had God’s jackpot…
I glanced up from writing last night to the muted television across the room. There was this man on the screen, shirtless, in handcuffs, bleeding from a head wound.. The flashing lights from the cruisers silhouetted him as he stood towering over the officers. The cameras zoomed in on his face and paused on his pained expression. I tried to gauge his thoughts… a grim look of resolve in his bloodshot blue eyes?… angry passion plastered on his face at being caught? But something more… It seemed more like the look seen in the eyes of an animal that was caught in trap… well… good thing he was in custody.. good riddance to what appeared to be another thug animal.. And I gave it no more thought…
The next morning I was shaving in the bathroom. The television was on in the bedroom and I was listening to the morning news and weather. I took note of a story that struck me as incredibly sad. A thirty year old sales rep had been arrested for theft by taking from a local drug store. It appears his nine year old son was dying from a rare but treatable disease. But the insurance didn’t cover it, the family had no money, all assistance had been exhausted… so the man took matters into his own hands. While most families ate their dinners he left his and attempted to make the world give him the medicine for his boy… here, this father, maybe a hard worker, justified in misguided action, but most certainly a good man, here he was chased down and subdued fighting because the system had let him down. I stepped back and glanced back at this failed hero of his family, this poor fellow who all but for the grace of god might very well be me, I stared at the screen…
The camera zoomed in on his face and paused on his pained expression as the cruisers lights silhouetted the man from the muted tv the night before.. This time I didn’t have to try and gauge his thoughts… only mine….
And there was that 3am tug on my elbow.. “Daddy, I cant sleep”, she whispered. “Whats wrong, honey?” I mumbled softly.. “I dont know, I’m just scared.” came her little voice from the dark.. “Ok honey, just sleep here”. She climbed over me, snuggled into my back, and immediately fell asleep. To that child, for that moment, all was safe and good in the world. My thoughts before I drifted back? It was for me as well. Goodnight baby girl……
He was really mad, I mean spitting, self righteous, I’m young and your a clueless old fart, mad… You see he walked past me at the post office and I kinda shook my head and mighta laughed a little. Immediately he sensed that he knew what I was thinking and confronted me. “You gotta problem with me man?”, he started.. I raised my eyebrows and held my hands up and started to speak, but… “Well let me tell you”, he continued,”I dress this way because its who I am, it represents my individuality in the world and how I choose to live my life, and quite simply if you dont like it you can kiss my ass”. The young man paused and I just smiled, which I think made him angrier. “Whats so funny anyways man?, he asked.
I looked him in the eye and said as serious as possible, “Well I was thinking, when I was your age I wore black parachute pants tucked into calf hugging leather boots with my sleeveless VanHalen concert Tshirt, accessorized with a members only jacket.” We wont go into my attempt at big hair”..
He started to say something, stopped, slowly broke into a smile said, “Well allright then”, then walked away.. and he thought I had been laughing at him….
Memorial Day…. When thoughts should be beyond a day off, but rather humbled rememberance of the men and women of American history who made the solemn decision to ofer their living reality for something bigger than themselves. The turmoil of politics, the quagmire of media, and the discourse of daily living often makes us forget how great America truly is. Opportunites are unique here, freedom is exclusive to this land alone, and domestic security and safety are guaranteed like nowhere else in the world. And on this day we must honor the commiment of the people who guaranteed those blessings, who paid for them unquestionably and with an unrelenting sense of duty… Always remember….
I asked my God, “why must bad things happen to good people?”. He whispered in my ear, “who says that these things are bad?” I thought about it, then said, “well me, God, me..” I felt him smile, “well that’s it, isn’t it Lee, your reaction to this thing, your perception of what it means in your spirit”. I looked across the field where I stood as he continued, “the questions rather should be what lesson will you gain from this tragedy, how are you going to respond?” The wind blew across my face and he said “Will this be an excuse for futher pain and hardship or will you define your true soul with healing love and forward thinking?” I sat down in the flowing grass with my head down. “But it hurts so bad”, I whispered.. There was a brief pause then I heard, ” a balance Lee, so you will fully taste the wholeness of hapiness.” I sat there awhile gazing at the clouds. “You’re not gonna let me wallow in this, are you God?” The sun shined through a hole in the clouds.. “no Lee, I’m not…. and I never will.”
There is a natural order of things, Heinlein once refered to it as “passing it forward”. A simple thing really, do something positive for someone without care whether there is return for your action. Then that person who you have acted for “passes forward” the same intent for someone else and so on… That older gentleman in the Wallmart line in one of those scooter buggies with tons of groceries stacked aroound him… You help him unload his cart, you put the bagged items back in his cart, walk with him to his truck, pack them in the back, then when he thanks you, you tell him to pass it forward; explain that he should help someone when he is able. Then walk away. Maybe it will happen, maybe it wont, but it doesn’t matter. Think of how the world would be if everyone took the time to foster this attitude. The world would be a much nicer place…
I wonder.. Have any of you done those really stupid things in your life that make you painfully grimace but still leave you smiling when you think about them. Like, jumping through a roaring campfire on a starry filled night and finding out nose hair can burn. Or standing on the edge of a beautifully high, scary cliff, the type that Wile E Coyote falls from, and decide to take a whizz. How about attempting to jump a moving car, front to back, because it somehow makes sense that if you jump up at just the right time, that suckers gonna go right under you? Or walking from Penn station to Greenwich Village because you have a black trench and if you hold your hand in your coat like you have a gun, the bad guys will leave you alone. What about the ditches you attempted to jump on your bike as a kid, hey, the guy on TV did it… I won’t even go into what Love has made us do in its craziness, but we all can relate to at least one gloriously awkward moment.. And I guess that’s the thing, y’know? Moments make the memories. Time gives perspective. And hopefully, just maybe.. we get a little wiser. I wonder…..
Have you ever noticed that so many times, those that don’t believe anything, or little to nothing, are so quick to judge and ridicule those that do have faith. It seems to cause them pain to think it is OK for another soul to take peace in something bigger than themselves. They gather together and ridicule the ignorance and piety of it all, choosing to use examples of other’s extremism and past ignorance as the basis of their negativity. It is really sad too for most times these are the same folks who pride themselves in open minds and tolerance. Well, to them I say, I accept you. You are still loved, your are not judged by me, and I freely allow in my mind that you will believe what you are going to believe. But this morning, as I watch the sun rise, I’m gonna let the little glow of my faith charge my batteries, help me feel right with the world, and give me hope for tomorrow….. I hope you don’t mind.
For your children, it is best to be quick and consistent with the discipline but only if you are quicker with the compliments and hugs… They are like little buckets and what you fill them up with will be who they become….
A person thinks on a sleepless morning, where they have been, where are they going. Sleep tends to escape those without security, it is caught in bursts of confidence and composure but that is not always bad. Maybe the brain is formulating, planning on contingencies and direction.. Maybe we just drank coffee too late… Angels whisper in our ears but to their sorrow, most times we fail to understand their gentle prodding. They most certainly find great excitement in our struggles and triumphs. They remind us the journey is most times better than the destination… The body walks hand in hand with the spirit and the mind, sometimes helping us overcome unbelievable challenges but occasionally faltering and leaving us to wonder why… So the morning goes on with you or without you.. Sleepless in Dahlonega…
My little one came up today and asked me one of those questions that Daddys love to hear but dont always have the answers for… She said, ” Daddy why are some people mean?” I smiled, thought about it and said, “well there are a lot of different reason, honey, some people might be having bad day, they might be hungry or hurt or just grumpy on that day.” She nodded her head thoughtfully. ” They might just be that way because something bad happened to them in their life that hurt them so bad tht they have never had the chance to learn a better way to act, it might be a hurt inside that influences how they react to you even if you are being nice and doing everything you can to treat them right.” She sat there deep in thought. I asked, “Do you understand?” She responded slowly, ” I think so Daddy, if a person has an owie inside them, then they can”t help but take it out on everybody else, is that it?”… I smiled and whispered, “that about covers it sweetie, that about covers it”……
My Dad died several years ago of cancer… Today, on Fathers Day, I say to him, I miss you Dad.. Not just for the memories of a strong but gentle man but for what I say to you when I am hurt or confused, what you might say back, what comfort my Dad might offer. And you know, it comes to me. I smile when I think of you with my children, your pride and adoration for your Grandbabies! It is through them that I honor your memory and the spirit of what you were… To be a good man, a father that raises his children not to be what he never was but for what he always could be. To teach them love, tolerance, and an appreciation for life that few souls possess. To teach them all what you taught me and all that you are still teaching me….. I love you Dad… Happy Fathers Day……
I stopped for gas at one of those old country stations, the kind right of Mayberry, and wandered around the store front while the truck filled up.There was a young man, dozing next to the register. Being a race fan, I couldn’t help but notice a collection of pictures, trophies, and memorabilia obviously collected by a past driver..
I leaned in and looked closely at one of the pictures.. There was a picture of some man who I had never seen before sitting on a lake dock fishing with racing legend Dale Earnhardt! “I’ll be damned”, I muttered under my breath.. I was startled by a voice behind me, “you shouldn’t oughtta curse, its a sign of an ignorant mind, yknow?” I turned to face an old man, dressed in greasy overalls, weathered face, not very tall, slowly scraping an engine part. “I apologize, Sir”, I stammered.. “I was admiring the race collection”..
He studied the old distributor cap, using a pocket knife to scrape the inside but not once did he looked up at me. He walked to a beat up old couch on cinder blocks and slowly sat down..”Yup racing”.. he began, “I suppose yer a real big fan now aintcha?” I quickly agreed, “why yes sir, I am, know quite a bit about it actually”… He grunted and continued working.
I stood for a few seconds, figured he wasn’t the talkative type, and was walking out the door when he said, “It’s all about driving y’know?”.. I turned. “Scuse me?”, I said. He continued without looking up, “It’s all in the driving, boy, if ya know how to drive right then ya know how to live right.” I thought I’d humor him and replied, “How’s that, sir?”
He looked up at me then, his grey eyes as clear and youthful as a young man’s, and said, “Well it;s like this son, take them cars there, they are wicked fast animals that can run like the wind, but if ya aint smart and ya don’t control them with total focus and sobriety, then they’ll get away from ya and wreck ya every time. Ain’t that like life? And when ya race em, ya gotta stay on top of it the whole race, there ain’t no break in a race car boy. Ya cant stop till the last lap and not once can ya take your mind off the prize.That’s sure enough like life.. And you cant do it alone, ya know? Ya gotta have a whole mess a people around ya to help ya before and during the race, same in life. And in that car, well, things may get bumpy, it might be hard to steer, people might run inta ya, and try an wreck ya, but just like life, ya gotta push on, ya cant let em stop ya. Same goes for life son, ya cant let em stop ya…” He went back to fiddling with the distributor…
I thought for a second, nodded my head, and said, “yeah, I can see that, your right.” He nodded his head but didn’t look up, didn’t say anything. I stood there for a minute, turned, woke up the boy and paid him for the gas, then begin to leave. “Ok then, sir… uh, thanks”, I said, and walked out the door. About half way to my truck I heard him say, “drive safe, boy, you drive safe”…….
My 9 year old boy was crashed on the couch, no TV, no video game, no book, just there on the couch staring at the ceiling fan… I sat down next to him and said, “You OK buddy?”. He continued staring at the fan and mumbled, “yeah Daddy.” I sat quiet for a moment, and then continued, “Is something wrong?” He cut his eyes at me then returned to staring at the fan and said, ”No.” I gave it a little more time, hoping he might open up then I said, “Is there anything you want to talk about, Buckaroo?”.. He softly replied, “No Daddy”….
OK, now it was time to be Super Dad, so I leaned close and said, “Look son, sometimes things are confusing, you’re at a tough age where you feel a lot more than you know how to handle.” He continued to lay there, but occasionally he would now glance over at me. I didn’t think he was getting it, so I said, “and it’s not gonna get easier either, people are going to test you by being unnecessarily mean, sometimes you will feel all alone and think you cant make it through, but you can. Sometimes you are going to have to talk to someone so they can help you sort through the things you are struggling with, and that’s ok, sometimes hearing yourself say it out loud will help you see some truth in yourself, yknow?” He was not staring intently at the fan, “yup”, he said.
I sat up straight feeling pretty good about our talk. Now time for Super Dad to bring it home! So I said, “well I’m glad you understand, it means a lot to me when we can talk and share things, now, tell me buddy, what’s going on in your mind right now?” He nodded, seemed to come to some conclusion, stared me straight in the eye, and said, “Well Daddy, the ceiling fan has spun around five hundred and thirty seven times since I sat down, that’s pretty cool, y’know?………….
Not once did my expression change, “ Yeah buddy, it sure is….. it sure is……..”
Twenty something years ago, I attended college on a campus hidden away in the north Georgia mountains. It was a fine school and I ambled along in the lackadaisical actions of a young man not really focused on his future; I passed but without full effort to excel. Aside from the many embarrassing and ridiculous things that I did there, I did manage to explore the area and found many of the wonders that only the mountains can provide.
One such gem that I discovered was a beautiful waterfall located far off the beat and narrow, the kind that only the locals know about and you have to find yourself. It was located in a valley several miles down an ungraded dirt road and when I found it, I thought I had discovered a small piece of Heaven down here on earth. Surrounded by soft needled pines was a three level waterfall that had a little trail to traverse. It was situated in such a way that you had to climb down to climb up; it had literally created the valley itself. The top was the main fall with a basin that you could swim in, the second was a rock slide where the frothy white water cascaded to the bottom and a dark sandy pond collected what the rushing waters had deposited. It was nature’s beauty encapsulated and it was magical.
Sometimes I would go to it when it was hot and sit beside the cool falls and just think. Sometimes I would bring a girl up to impress her with my discovery. On the rare occasion, I might even take a text book and study. And even though other people would venture into the falls to share in the beauty, it was my place and everything that any poem or story has described in the history of man. It was that glorious!
Time passed and while I visited the falls from time to time, I had lost some of my marvel and wonder of the hidden falls. Recently, I took some friends and my kids to see it. But it was different now. There were signs pointing the way down the road that was now graveled and grated. On arrival there was a parking area with guard rails and welcome signs. Even the rocks were fenced in to avoid erosion and injury to visitors; I joked that the rocks must have been bad because they were now in jail. As I climbed the trail up the falls I saw that storms and men had changed the contour of the landscape. Trees were no longer there that had shrouded the trail in cool mysteriousness. Areas that were unseen before were wide open, paths had steps set into them, and right up to the basin at the top, a wooden observation deck had been built.
We bypassed the deck and made our way to the basin. And as we sat on a rock and our children swam in the cold mountain water, I looked around at my falls. Nature had widened the basin considerably, and I imagine engineers that built the deck had moved or blasted some of the rock away to make the falls more aesthetically pleasing. Whichever. It was still mine.
As I sat there, I thought about how much had changed. Then it occurred to me that so much had changed in me as well. Just like the falls, nature had carved a path in me as well, leaving me different in body and mind. Outside influences had shaped me as too, changing my appearance, changing my attitude, but like the falls, never really changing the essence of me. And looking around me, I felt the love for and from my children and friends. It was then that I silently prayed that the same exchange might very well have occurred between me and this, my falls, that I discovered, when I was but a child myself…. And then I realized, nothing had really changed at all…..
There was a simple man who worked at a nearby building supply store, you know the kind, the mega-type that has lumber, screws, light bulbs, and orange buckets. And in this store worked a short unassuming man named Lowman, but everybody called him Showman because he could “show” you where everything in the store’s inventory was located. Now a lot of people, myself included, thought Showman was a little off, just a bit slow, maybe not all there, BUT incredibly friendly and darn helpful when you needed something. Every time he saw you, Showman would belt out a cheerful greeting, then hit you with some clichéd comment about the weather, or the season, or whatever he knew that you personally enjoyed. I felt, that if situation allowed he would “trap” you in conversation, one that I always felt guilty about disengaging from but invariably, always did.
And Lord, his stories…Over the decade plus that I knew Showman, he must have told me the same stories over and over a million times. One in particular was the story of when Jesus took Momma up to Heaven after her battle with cancer. In telling you, he would lean in close, there inside your personal space, and look over his bottle sized glasses, and explain most strongly that his Momma, a good God fearing woman, had the worst kind of cancer that you could possibly have. And all through her pain she asked about her family, sent notes and cards to other sick people, and did from her heart what she thought Jesus would expect her to do. To Showman, his Momma was a saint placed on Earth by God himself!
Even toward the end, on her worst days, people would ask her, “Mildred, aren’t you afraid of dying?” To which she would ALWAYS repeat, “well, ya approach dyin much the same way that ya approach livin; if you aint afraid of living then you shouldn’t ought a be afraid of dyin, besides, I know where I’m going and it’s a far sight better than down here”… And Showman would beam with pride and unless you stopped him, he would launch into another story from his youth. I had heard the story about his Momma over a gazillion times. It was quaint, important to him for sure, but didn’t really mean that much to me.
Later that year, I was in a bank waiting in line with the rest of the patrons and I heard two ladies talking about one of their mothers passing away earlier that month. She told her friend about how hurt and angry she was that God had taken her momma but it wasn’t till she talked to some little fellow in a hardware store that she begin to come to terms with it. She explained that he told her his story from his heart and how much it meant that in this busy world, someone had taken time to reach out and help her with her devastating pain.. I knew of course that she was referring to Showman and I smiled inside for what he had inadvertently done. But there was something more..
Each person in life has a purpose, I suppose, and that purpose might be those little hit and misses that we sometimes take for granted. Out of all of the people who go through that store regularly, how may do you think heard that story? Probably most of them at one time or another, depending if they were in his department or passed it.. And how many times did people brush him off or consider him a gentle nuisance? I did, and I really liked him. So how many people had he touched with that story; or for that matter, one of his other gazillion stories. Showman did not walk around espousing his views. He did not reflect later in the day on the meaning of his influence on other people. And he sure as heck did not post his ramblings on Facebook for the world to see…
No, Showman was a happy and simple man who enjoyed helping people in the store and sharing his stories and memories. We should all be so lucky.
A newly formed Angel walked beside his teacher, his wings still tufts of snowy feathers. He gazed across the earth below and calmly asked his elder, “How can they be so fragile yet so incredibly strong as human beings, how do they face the incredible trials and challenges put before them and still persevere despite the odds?” The elder bowed his head and softly laughed, “It is the way they are made fledgling, it is the power of the creator, placed in every soul, which carries them home.”
The new Angel continued to gaze and sat silent as he pondered the answer. “I understand the answer but I do not feel the meaning” he eventually said.. The older Angel smiled sweetly, wrapped his majestic wings around the fledgling and whispered, “Then… I will show you..”
Rainbows of light erupted from the ground as sparkles of sound tickled the air, and then, they were gone… The fledgling suddenly found himself gazing from the eyes of a human, he could smell, touch, hear all they were experiencing.. but mostly he understood what they were thinking and feeling! That’s when the first flash hit…
He stared through the eyes of a man at the raging fire in front of him, the charred remains of what was once his family’s home fueled the blaze as it reached high into the air. He heard the monstrous roar of this living breathing element over the sound of forced little explosions, walls collapsing into themselves, floors groaning under the weight finally giving way to the enormity of the onslaught. And he thought of everything that was lost, the family pictures, all the clothing, the computers and the backup files, everything. No more beds to tuck the children into, no more walls to mark their yearly growth, no more bed for he and his wife, no insurance, nothing. All alone in this horrific moment… But then the Angel felt something move beneath his arm through the paralysis of the pain and loss… A female human and two young ones clung to this man with everything they had as they cried and sought safety and comfort. And then, so incredibly strong and overwhelming, he felt a well of love springing from each of them, this man included. And they were bound by that, the giving and receiving, the love and support. The Angel begin to weep with joy. And then.. the next flash hit…
She sat there at the bay window in her wheelchair staring at the rain outside. The Angel realized he was now sharing this spirit when a bolt of lightning struck a tree outside and startled them both. As she began to compose herself, he felt the blinding pain shoot from her lower back and her knees ached as she tried to move them to straighten her legs. When she settled, she glanced at the picture of a handsome man on her nightstand. The frame was draped in a scarf that he had given her some fifty years ago on their first date and next to it was a poem, one of many that he written for her through the years. What a wonderful life they had shared. It had been two years since the stroke that took him from her but still her heart ached for him. The weight of the loss overwhelmed the Angel and he felt inside him a sensation that he thought might be like drowning and he wept again. Another bolt of lightning struck and he found her now staring at another framed picture filled with many other humans of all ages. And in the middle of the group was her. When she gazed at this, he suddenly felt the knots inside loosen; here he felt overwhelming pride and love for the future realized by this family. The sweet grace of it all came upon him and he felt like singing.. And then, another flash hit…
He walked down the city street with a casual manner but inside his stomach was queasy and he was covered in sweat. There was no threat, the crowd was pleasant, he was safe, but inside his spirit, he was shaking. The Angel thought back with him to just two months earlier when he had been deployed to Afghanistan. Just thinking back on it made the man want to run into a building, to seek the cover and safety of walls, not be a target out in the open. And he remembered. They had been on patrol in a little town outside of Banyu. A child had asked him for gum and he turned to ask a squad mate if he had a piece for the kid. At that moment, his squad mate was shot in the head beside him. The whole team began to return fire and the hidden enemy quickly retreated, but it was too late. His friend lay dead. It was later found out that the children belonged to the men who attacked them; they had been used as decoys. From then on, when on patrol, everyone was a potential enemy, every innocent looking situation a threat, and every loud noise, a death sentence. But he was now at home. The Angel could feel the man’s body trembling but mostly he felt the pressure in the man’s soul, the desire to scream in fear and run for the sake of survival! The man stepped into an alley way and leaned his back to the wall. And here is when the Angel felt the pain begin to slacken to be replaced by resolve and determination; this human was thinking himself into overcoming this horrible memory! The man uttered a prayer out loud asking God for strength to overcome the fear and deep inside him, God answered. He left the alley still afraid but able to overcome. The Angel felt this triumph of the spirit and wanted to shout in the glory, but then, another flash hit…
They all sat on and around the hospital bed watching a middle aged man as he took his last breath. The cancer had been thorough. It had appeared suddenly though it had been ravaging this man undetected for far too long. In a weeks’ time his body had begun to shut down. And now as he lay surrounded by family and friends, his breaths came slower and less often. Sons held his hands. A wife laid a hand on his side. Friends surrounded the bed. The angel found himself with one of the sons. The pain was like a weight, hopelessness at the situation, regret as a son for not being closer through the years, memories of riding on Daddy’s back, this man, his Father not being there anymore. The Angel looked through the eyes of the wife and there he found pain but so very different; anguish at the pain her husband had gone through, desperation at having to go on without this wonderful man, a future unknown when all plans of the future were dying in front of her. The entire room was incredibly silent. The man took a final breath and then no more. One son begin to weep, the other reached up and closed his father’s eyes. From the back of the crowded room came a voice singing softly and soon everyone in the room was joining in Amazing Grace. The Angel broke down. Through all this pain and loss, these people held to their faith, they found something within to hold to a higher power; they can maintain a belief that the next life will be more wonderful than this one. The complex and scary was broken down into a simple understanding of faith, and with that they survived the storms.. The song ended and the Angel stared at the man, but then, another flash of light.
The Elder stood next to him as they stared down at the earth. The fledgling sat silent for a very long time. Finally he whispered, You are that man, aren’t you?”
“Yes, young one, yes.” The Elder replied. And he held the new Angels hand….
If you let your kids ever watch the Discovery or History Channels with you, expect these questions from them that I have no clue how to answer..
• If women were not allowed to vote for a long time, weren’t the men’s mommies mad at them for not allowing it?
• Why did they ever have cassettes, your IPOD is much easier?
• Where was the Easter Bunny in the Bible? Why didn’t Santa give Baby Jesus toys in the manger?
• Why do you have to pay for electricity when nature makes it for free?
• Why don’t the British Royal Family make a Disney movie, they’re real queens and princes, right?
• If the dinosaurs were running out of food, why didn’t they go to Walmart and stock up?
• If the Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of some place, how can he be in exile from people’s spirits?
• If all these old pictures on TV are black and white, why didn’t they just change the setting on their camera?
• If all those people on that show Hoarders don’t have any room, why don’t they just rent a storage room?
• If so many people need money right now, why don’t they just print more of it and hand it out? (had to bite my tongue on that one)
• If Abe Lincoln got shot watching a play, why didn’t he go to a movie instead?
• If they put all the bad people in jail who kill people, don’t they end up killing each other when they are forced to live together?
When I was younger….
I used to become visibly angry at the slow person in front of me who had a handicap tag. Seriously, my veins would bulge, my curse words would flow, and short of flipping them off (I didn’t want to be rude), I would spend countless amount of energy sputtering why they just didn’t pull over and allow this line of traffic to pass..
I am older now.. I wonder what they are going through. Is it the most they can do just to get out of the house? Is this maybe a personal accomplishment that they can still function like everybody else? Have I walked that mile? No… I haven’t. Think I’ll just go along with them, listen to that song on the radio, and be thankful that I am not forced to need a handicap tag….
When I was younger…
I would spout out my philosophy to impress and cajole. My limited experiences were expressed to benefit and promote my own agenda. I was smug with the answers that I knew and pretty much thought everyone else was misinformed or simply ignorant.. I played the part in arrogance and a sense of privilege. You simply couldn’t tell me anything.
I am older now… As clichéd as it sounds, the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know. Experience has left me with a profound need to still share, but with a much different intent and agenda. Knowledge gained by experience carries an incredible responsibility to family, friends, and community, to share in the wisdom that has hopefully been earned. That should be enough to satisfy any man.. any good man. I welcome other opinions with tolerance and love and from there I will form my opinions…
When I was younger…
I yearned to travel the world and let it be known that I had “stomped on the terra”. I wanted to be free to come and go as I pleased, answer to no man, woman, or institution, and live a life that would rival any epic novel ever written or dreamed. I scoffed at people who gave it up for families or imagined stability; that was just something that wasn’t for me. I wanted to taste the fruits of life and dared death itself to stop me. I honestly thought that I was invincible and blessed by God himself, leading to daring feats that people would talk about for years to come… I simply believed it was so…..
I am older now… I treasure my children and home more than life itself. The travels and adventures that I have experienced are best served now as examples of folly and humor for my family and friends. The terra I once wanted to stomp, well now I want my “terra” to be safe and secure, not out of fear of injury but because it genuinely makes me happy. I want to share life with others in such a way that our lives are made better or more satisfying and at the end of the day, I want to lay my head on my pillow knowing that I did just that…..
Do not think of the people in your life who test the bounds of friendship as a hurtful thing. Try not to internalize it or carry it as a burden. The friend who does these things may very well not realize the actions of their non-reciprocating ways. Sadly, they may not know how to return the gift that you provide in your giving and loving ways.
For many who commit such errors in friendship, it is not a selfish action of purpose. Remember, most people who do bad things or act in selfish and unloving ways seldom see their actions as evil or wrong. It is what they know, and yes, while it is your desire to teach them better, to show them the beauty in a give and take exchange, rarely does it come to fruition. You cannot make them see their one sided approach.
So you are left to ponder the situation. What can there be to another human that leaves them with this understanding, free of guilt, shame, or recognition of their inability to return such a simple thing? Well, this might be one of those puzzles that is unanswerable. And invariably, sometimes, even feelings of resentment and frustration dwell in the corners of your own repeated offerings.
But face it. You cannot change who you are. The core thing about you that reaches out when others are in crisis, that lends money when you have none or little, that gives of spirit, mind and soul, well that is the same thing that defines you as a human in the eyes of God and all fellow men. And that is a very good thing.
To give unconditionally is a gift that poets and priests have exalted from the beginning. To give of one’s self without expectation of return is by far one of the noblest and most human traits that we can strive to achieve. It is the most innocent action that can be defined.
But still… Sometimes it kicks you in the gut. Sometimes it disparages you and makes it difficult to trust in others much less take their hand in friendship. But you will, my friend. Again and again.. It is you and what defines you, and maybe, just maybe it can be all of us as well…
I bet your sitting there right now and thinking, “hmmmm? I wonder if there is a distinction between a male flea and a female flea…No? Well it’s not a very common question I would imagine, and were it not for a totally random thought I had, it probably would not interest me at all.
You see, I was sitting there on the laptop and something occurred to me; In this age of Google and other powerful search engines, is there no question that cannot be answered? And no, I’m not talking about the tree in the woods or the glass half full or the universe in the atoms of your fingernail kind of questions. No, I mean the kind of questions that are backed by straight up fact. Maybe insanely obscure things, but still fact.
So I Googled it… The most ridiculously stupid and irrelevant question that I could think of at that moment, “Is there a difference between a male flea and a female flea”… Why not… Go for it… Type that puppy in…
And there it was my friends…. Not just one source to answer my question, but multiple. And by multiple, I mean more than I care to count. Well, you will be happy to know, or unhappy as was my case, that there are two genders of the fleas…. Oh, and of course, that fleas have teeny hairs on their bodies that act as Velcro to animal hairs, that a flea is born the size he or she will always be, and that their size varies on the amount of blood they have recently guzzled.. And of course there is…WAIT!
I didn’t want to learn about fleas! I don’t really give a rat’s patootie about fleas unless they are in my house and I want them GONE! What has this thing called Google done to me? It’s like some Orwellian machine has been wired to my noodle and I am drawn to the hypnotic flow of useless random facts… Hold on! What time is it? Why is it dark outside at 5pm?… gasp!.. I am doomed..
And you know?
I wonder, why exactly does a dog wag its tail??? I’ll tell you in a few hours…
Now those of you who know me know that I am very passionate on politics, religion, and affairs of the heart and that I have no problem sharing them to all. But out of interest to all sides of any issue, my writings remain fairly neutral, pretty much left to the reader to interpret as they will. So,…… Due to the avalanche of opinion in correspondence after the Supreme Courts ruling yesterday, I have devised a handy-dandy Political Affiliation “Fill in the Blank” Declaration. Hope it helps to both sides of the issue and please, feel free to pass it on!!
Political Affiliation “Fill in the Blank” Declaration
Enough is enough! It is high time we as (Fill in your Political affiliation) stand up to the idiotic misgivings of the (Fill in the Opposing Political affiliation) and take back this country!! No longer will we stand for the (arrogance OR ignorance) exhibited by these unpatriotic groups to infringe on our personal liberties any longer.
Are we to allow the threat of (Fill in latest Scare Tactic of your Group Affiliation) to threaten the future of our children or their children? Just watch what the (Fill in the Opposing Political affiliation) are saying on (Fill in the Cable News Network supporting the Opposing Political affiliation’s position) and you will see the proof of how out of touch they are with reality.
Take for example the case of (Fill in the above cited Cable News Network’s latest news bite). It’s like something out of some third world country! Is there no better example of the train wreck which this country is being forced into? Add to that their unapologetic support to the (Fill in Religious, Social, or Special Interest Group that you oppose this week) agenda and the degradation of basic human morals and values which they represent, it is no wonder why the people have lost faith in the American political process.
Promises are made and solemn vows are enacted up until the (Fill in the Opposing Political affiliation) are in their elected positions and then they are free to practice their own secret agenda to (selfishly horde the common wealth from the down trodden masses OR turn this country into a gravy-sucking socialist wasteland). Make your stand today, my brothers and make your voices heard!!!
Believe in Fate… the Hand of God.. Universal Intervention.. however you wish to define it,,, Because if you don’t believe…
Nothing wonderful will ever happen…
The heat today in Georgia will be especially brutal. With the humidity here and no breeze I feel like a veggie mix in a steamer… Still, here is something that might help, at least mentally..
The frigid arctic breeze buffeted his naked face as the cold crept into his modest clothing and chilled his mostly exposed skin. This was the type of cold that was a killer, the kind that would leave a man a solid block of ice if he didn’t seek shelter soon. Icicles already hung from his nose and chin.. His freezing body was shivering uncontrollably in a desperate attempt to stave off the cold. The falling snow had collected and frozen around the upper edge of his jacket, around his neck, causing his skin to go numb from the unforgiving sub freezing temperatures. He finally surrendered and fell face first into a powdery snow bank. As he drifted into final sleep, slowly lulled by a frozen embrace, he thought, “oh, if only I were back in the stifling humid heat of home right now… if only.”
I hope that helped. We are going to spend the day in the oven just cool off! Be safe and stay hydrated folks!!
So there I was in the Emergency room at the local hospital. A younger neighbor of mine had thought that he was smarter than a nest full of hornets and had been proven tragically wrong. I told him that knocking down the nest to rid himself of the pests was really not a good idea, they will swarm, they have sprays for that, etc. He stood there, put his hands on his hips and said, “C’mon Lee, do you think I’m stupid? This is how my Dad always did it. You’re older and not as fast, I know what I’m doing.” As I walked a good thirty feet back I said, “Ok…” He got under the gutter of the house with a broom and knocked the nest to the ground. And yes, he moved away with all the speed and exuberance that youthfulness allows…. But so did the hornets… And they made their opinion known about 17 times on his face and arms. I counted…
When we got to the emergency room he looked like a cross between the Pillsbury doughboy and the Michelin Man. I really said nothing mean to him, talked of weather and such, but he was fuming. As they wheeled him back, I heard him muttering to the nurse, “thinks he knows every damn thing.”
And there I was in the Emergency room when in walked a younger girl, mid-twenties, southern pretty type, with her one hand clutching the other in what looked like a blood soaked dish rag. She held the hand in front of her like it was a foreign thing or a maybe a grenade that was about to go off. She checked in, gave her info, then sat down near me till they called her.. Now here is the odd thing.
When she walked in, she was talking to someone but she was alone. Now I have a wireless earpiece myself so I quickly deduced that under her hair she was talking to someone on the phone via the earpiece. But from the moment she walked in the door, through check-in, through vitals reading, not once had she quit talking. Not once.. Now, as she sat chatting away to God knows who, she kept unwrapping her hand and fooling with what appeared to be a deep cut on her index finger. And by deep, I mean every time she flexed her finger, blood would gush from the cut profusely. She would then wipe the blood from her hand and then proceed to mess with it again, perhaps from that morbid curiosity many of us have from examining our own injuries, I don’t know.. It was kinda funny too, because the way she was holding her hand out, straight in front of her, and because there was no phone to be seen, it appeared she was talking to her wounded hand. Had to be there, I guess…
When she came to a pause in her conversation or maybe just to breathe, I said to her from across the row of chairs, “You might want to keep direct pressure on that, Miss.” She looked at me with a sharply aggravated brow wrinkle and said, “what!?” I repeated, “If you don’t keep direct pressure on that, it will only get worse.” She touched her ear and said, Huh?… scuse me?.. uh, hold on Janet, some guys trying to tell me how to take care of my own hand!” “I smiled politely and thought, “oh boy, here it comes.”
“Look mister, I got a lot to deal with right now and you telling me what I should and should not be doing doesn’t help, just cuz you’re in a hospital doesn’t make you an expert, ok? Really, Thanks… Really…” She rolled her eyes and continued talking to her finger, “ok, Lisa, I’m back.. Janet.. whoever… yeah, right, some people can’t mind their own business, y’know?”
“Ok…..” I thought…
And that’s what I did, I sat there thinking. Twice in one day, by offering some simple yet obvious advice, someone had taken it as a personal affront because they assumed that I was “too old and thought I knew it all” or “thought they were stupid”, either of which was simply not the case. I didn’t want to chalk this up to the “youth of today”; no, I know many young people who are willing to hear sound advice no matter the age of the person offering it. I know many people my age who simply don’t listen to others, either from mistrust or established idiocy, who knows?
So I guess it boils down to the simple nature of the individual in question? Mistrust, stupidity, arrogance, flightiness, all are mere definitions. What leads up to them? Perhaps in this age of isolation in our living places, isolation in our personal chariots of motor vehicles, isolation in cubicles, even isolation on the computer here..
Maybe people have grown to distrust the very nature of advice from friends, elders, or well-meaning strangers. They simply don’t know that they should listen.. Could it be that if people would be less rude in offering words to others and more tolerant when those words are offered, well, could that lead to less bee stings and blood loss? I certainly hope so so…. The only other reason would be that they are simply stupid asses….
Know this. Change is incredibly scary, it takes you out of what you know, good or bad, and initially offers no more than the whispers that something wii be different. The mind is designed to survive and will rationalize damn near anything. Rationalizations and appeasement of the spirit can sometimes set in and cloud purpose. Change then can be a discomfort, a move that is filled with caution and trepidation. But don’t be afraid. Surround yourself with good people who love what you can become, not neccessarily who you are. Feed the body with health, the mind with wonder, and the spirit with humility and awe. This is your time. This is your change.