Category Archives: Life

Life Transitions

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected
Robert Frost

We never really notice them, until we do.

We move through the early years of our lives almost seamlessly, understanding the changes that occur but viewing them as nothing more than another transition. Some are more dramatic than others, even life altering, at times. But we move on, knowing there is something up ahead, another phase in our lives. A transition from childhood to adulthood. For some it may include marriage and children. For others a career, a new business, a divorce, health issues, grandchildren, travel and even loss.

But while we’re young, or younger, there is always tomorrow. There is a confidence of tomorrow that is somewhat tempered as we age. We don’t live in fear because that type of life is not really living. We just understand the reality of life. I’m more aware of my mortality at 65 than I was at 35. That’s not morbid, it just is.

It’s the reality many people refuse to speak about. People think about it but can’t seem to verbalize their feelings. Even if they did, no one would want to hear it.

I was watching a baseball game the other day with my grandson and we were talking about this young player who is in his early 20’s. And it occurred to me that this player might have a career that lasts twenty years. It also occurred to me, though I hope to live a long healthy life, that I may not be around to see the end of his career. That’s not morbid, that a reality I never thought about before. I’ve watched sports my whole life and that single thought has never crossed my mind.

I’ve transitioned from from my youth to adulthood. I married, have raised a family and have been blessed to see my children begin their own families. I was fortunate to have a good career and I’m now retired. I’ve transitioned once again but I understand that what’s behind me is very different than what’s in front of me.

That being said, I know that I will never be any younger than I am today. In many ways, I am living the youth years of the rest of my life. I don’t know if that makes sense to everyone but it does to me. It has to. Because there is much more to see, much more to do. My mind understands the number and how many trips I’ve had around the sun but it continues to rage against the machine.

I don’t know where the next transition will take me, I only know my eyes are always open.

Just know that if I become famous in my still unknown second career, I will remember everyone who hits the like button on my posts.

 

 

 

 

Remembering

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, January 10, 1946

We sometimes have a tendency to glamorize war in books and movies. Those who have been there understand it’s much worse than anything that’s been filmed or written. It never captures the brutality or long-lasting consequences.

Last fall I had an opportunity to visit the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. When we were planning a trip to NC/Va, I came across this town and wondered why The D-Day Memorial would be placed in a small farming town of a little over six thousand people in Central Virginia. In 1940, just before World War II, Bedford numbered less than four thousand residents.

During the Battle of D-Day, Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, were among the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches of Normandy. Nineteen boys from rural Bedford were killed in the first few minutes of landing. Another three boys were killed shortly after. In all, 22 young men from Bedford lost their lives, giving this small community the distinction of having the highest number of casualties, per capita, of anywhere in the country.

           

The story of this town and those that were lost is told in a book titled, The Bedford Boys. In many ways, the town of Bedford died on D-Day. The story of the boys that were lost, how if affected their families and the town itself is a reminder that war, though sometimes necessary, has consequences that can last for generations. It’s a book that should be read by all Americans.

Today is a day we remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the freedoms we enjoy. Please remember them and their families.

God Bless them all.

It’s the Soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech

It’s the Soldier, not the politicians,
who ensures our right to LIfe, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

We live in the land of the free
Only because of the brave.
God Bless Our Military
Unknown


Smarter Than A Fourth Grader?

For those of you unfamiliar with Amazon’s Echo and our friend, Alexa, here is a description put out by Amazon…
Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices developed by Amazon Lab126. … Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system. 

Essentially, Echo is a smart speaker and Alexa is the voice you hear providing you with answers to most any question you might have. She’s basically a know it all that you can’t see.

With that as a backdrop, I was teaching a fourth grade class the other day and we were just beginning our math period by reviewing the previous night’s homework. Individual students would give an answer and if everyone was in agreement we’d move on. If not, we’d work out the problem on the board so everyone understood.
After James gave his answer, a couple of students sold him out and began laughing, saying he cheated because he asked Alexa for the answer. I looked over at James and his eyes were looking down and his face was red.
I was trying not to laugh because i never considered Alexa as a resource for homework but then again, I’m not a clever nine-year old with easy options available to him. So the very brief conversation went like this…

Me (smiling): James, did you use Alexa to do your math homework last night?

James (looking at his “friends”): You don’t how I did my homework!

Me: James, I’m not upset if you did, I’m just curious if Alexa helped you with your homework.

James: (looking at me with his face still red): Yeah, but after she gave me the answer, I did the problem myself. I wanted to check her to make sure she was right.

Me (trying not to laugh out loud): So you checked Alexa to make sure she didn’t make a mistake?

James: Yeah.

The class became quiet and looked at me to see what I would say but I don’t sell out clever nine-year olds who can think on their feet in front of their peers. So I simply said, “that was smart,” and we moved on.

I’m not sure what kind of lesson James learned that day, if any, or if he understood he was scamming the system a bit and might try doing it another way in the future. It’s possible.
All I know is that when I glanced back up at him a few seconds later he was smiling and his face wasn’t red anymore. I’m guessing he was feeling pretty good about himself.

And that was good enough for me.

 

Ignorance On Steroids

Ignorance always seems to find a season. It never seems to max out, regardless of how bizarre the situation might be. There are always people willing to do something that some moron decided might be a good idea.

A few days ago I read an article about a game show in the Netherlands where male contestants were asked to guess whether woman on the show are fat or pregnant.

Really.

This is the same game show that asked contestants last year to guess whether a person was Japanese or Chinese, and in another segment, whether a woman’s breasts were real.

I have a pretty broad sense of humor but I didn’t think this was funny. It was simply dumbed down sensationalism at it’s worst.

I decided not provide the name of the show because I don’t want to give it any more publicity than it has already received. But as I thought about it, I wondered who I should be most upset with. The producers for financially supporting this show? The station for putting it on the air? The viewing public for watching? The advertisers? I mean there is a sufficient about of blame to go around here.
But the bottom line is, you don’t have a show if no one agrees to participate. If people who were paid to appear on it had a shred of sensitivity, decency or self worth, this or any show like it, would never find air time and maybe we wouldn’t still be having misogynistic or discriminatory discussions.

But it seems like many people have a price, and that number is not very high. My guess is it’s just a little north of their IQ.

 

Death And Sales

You probably thought the only sure things in life were death and taxes, didn’t you. Well, we can throw one more thing into the pot roast of life’s guaranties.

Death and sales. I don’t remember the last time it wasn’t a sure thing.

Chuck Berry died last weekend. A rock and roll pioneer without question; he was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and influenced generations of artists.  But Chuck’s last hit record was back in the early 70’s and he had been averaging 39 album sales prior to his death.

But then he died and his record sales increased 11,684 percent. Really.

Now this is not unusual. The same thing has happened following the death of other musicians and I’m having a difficult time understanding the mentality. Then again, the human mind is difficult to figure out on a good day.
But really, what compels people to buy an artists music after they die when they had no interest in doing so before they died? The music has been out there for decades, readily available. Why are they enough of a fan now to buy their music, but not before? Chuck’s songs have been around since the fifties. They’ve been all over the radio, movies, television, etc, forever. If people liked these songs before, why did they wait until he died to download them? It’s the same song. Sung by the same artist. But they like it better today? Are they afraid it’s going to somehow disappear or that Apple will go out of business? Do people sit around and wait for the evening news to decide what they should download that night based on the obituary reports? Does the music somehow sound better after someone dies? It all sounds a little macabre to me.

In some ways, this same phenomena happens in food stores the day before a snowstorm. People rush out to stock up on essentials because the roads may be snow-covered for maybe a day. Maybe. I always feel like they’re expecting Armageddon to arrive and bread will be have to be bartered with a laptop.

I wonder if all my blog posts will suddenly be in monetary demand when I’m no longer around. Maybe I should fake my demise, stay away for a couple of years and reap the financial rewards after I decide to return from my self-imposed disappearance. Sort of like an Eddie and the Cruisers thing.

Okay, I think might be getting a little carried away.

 

Who Are You?

“The bulk of life is discovering who you are—and then reconciling that with who you wish you were.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

Who are you, really? Are you the person your mind believes you are or the one that other people see? Are they the same or very different?

Many people live their lives attempting to create an identity, focusing on who they want to be but never getting around to discovering who they really are. Sound too deep? It really isn’t.

If we believe the concept of people being, to a large degree, a product of their environment then it’s probably fair to say, taking it a step further, that we become what we think, since our minds are our “inner” environment.

Or do we discard what our minds tell us and become what other people think we should be?

I guess there are two questions here and each may or may not be mutually exclusive to the other. The first is, do we live for others instead of for ourselves in spite of what we believe to be true? Thats a tough way to live for any extended period of time because of the constant struggle that may go on inside the individual.
Secondly, do we convince ourselves, over a period of time, that we are someone we’re not in order to hide the inner disappointment that may ride along with that knowledge? People sometimes embellish stories to the point that they eventually end up believing their own words, even though others who might have been there, know that it’s not true. People may believe they are invaluable to a cause, organization, team, etc, only to find they are expendable and/or replaceable. What we believe about ourselves, the regard in which we hold our contributions or lives may be very different than the perception that others have of us.

The only way to avoid each of those scenarios is to say true to yourself. Easier said than done, since outside influences/pressures may lead you in other directions. But staying true to yourself is much easier than one day coming to the realization that you are not who or where you wanted to be, that you are expendable, that your own self worth is not as valuable to others as it should be to you, and that the very core of your life and the honesty you should trust, has always been part of who you were meant to be.

You’ll never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be.
Vironika Tugaleva

 

The Art Of Simplicity

“Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.”
 John Kabat-Zinn

I was watching the Grammy Awards the other evening and aside from the fact that it seemed to be a requirement that all women wear an outfit that was cut open from neck to naval, the ceremony was pretty much as it has been for many years now; part talent, part extravagance and part freak show.

But what caught my attention the most was how simple it is for real talent to be expressed. If you possess the gift of a pure voice, you can captivate an audience without thirty-two dancers, extravagant costumes, pyrotechnics, gimmicks or relying on the shock factor.

If you can sing, people will stop and pay attention. It’s that simple. Everything else either detracts from the talent or attempts to cover up a lack of talent.

Then I thought about how that same principle applies to our lives. As Confucius once said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

I think age sometimes allows us to understand that concept more clearly. Because at its core,  life really is simple. it’s our individual choices, decisions, influences, words and attitudes that complicate things. We just can’t seem to get out of our own way, even when someone hands us the directions.

We are infatuated with the accumulation of stuff. The brilliant mind of George Carlin did entire routines on this very subject. We laughed because we understood he was talking about us and yet we were incapable of stopping.
We think and over think. We accumulate and store. We find the easiest path and decide there must be a better one. We look out the window and want that color grass. We strive to achieve without considering the cost. We find peace in the simple beauty of a sunset on a quiet beach and decide it would look better if there were thirty-two dancers performing in extravagant costumes on a party boat just off the shore line.

Somewhere, Thoreau is dying a thousand deaths.

The most amazing moments we have all experienced in life; the ones that stay with us forever, are never planned and usually the most simple.

We each have a voice and a song to sing. How we choose to live that song, is entirely up to us.