Category Archives: Thoughts

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


A Language Apart

We want to be loved; failing that, admired; failing that, feared;
failing that, hated and despised. We want to stir up some sort
of feelings in others. Our soul abhors a vacuum. At all costs
it longs for contact.
 Hjalmar Soderberg, Doctor Glas, 1905

I read these words six months ago at the beginning of a book titled, One Of Us, by Asne Seierstad. It relates the true story of a man, whose name I won’t mention, who killed seventy-seven people in Norway on July 22, 2011. Eight people were killed by a bomb outside of the Prime Minister’s office in Oslo and sixty-nine more were killed by guns at a youth camp on the wooded island of Utoya. Most of those killed on the island were teenager members of the country’s governing Labour Party.

It was, in the same breath, one of the best and most compelling books I’ve ever read, and one of the most disturbing.

I write these words because every time there is another act of terrorism or violence anywhere in the world, I feel as we all do; angry and helpless. There are no words that can explain the acts committed or the mindset behind them.

Terrorism has its own language; one no rational human being can begin to understand.

The only thing we can do is offer our thoughts and prayers for the loss of so many. For the loss of so much promise and potential; for the lives that have changed; for those taken and those that remain.

Hatred is an irrational and powerful enemy and not exclusive to specific parts of the world. It lives where you live.

Believing otherwise is foolish.

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.

 

The Things We Don’t Say

Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.
Mitch Albom

This is not an elephant in the room kind of thing where the problem we all acknowledge keeps getting pushed under the carpet. This is more about an unspoken hug. It’s about the things we don’t say because we don’t know if the person we care about wants to hear them or if the words are just inadequate.

It’s about love, and pain. It’s about hurt, and loss. It’s about moments that stay with us forever but never get acknowledged once we’ve moved past them.

It’s about remembering, and forgetting. It’s about understanding, and learning. It’s about wanting to put your arms around someone you care about and tell them you can’t begin to understand their hurt or loss but you think about them everyday. It’s about wanting to let them know that you see past the smile.

This is about learning to live with the kind of loss that is not openly discussed. It’s about what if, and never was. It’s about what you can’t get back, and what you can’t let go.

It’s about remembering.

It’s always about remembering.

So when I walked over and hugged you the other day for no apparent reason , it was my way of letting you know that I remember, too. That I wish things were different for you. For all of us. Because for as  long as the people who love you have breath, you’ll never be alone.

And if there comes a time when you feel that words might bring you a sense of comfort, I’ll know before you begin speaking.

And I’ll see you there.

 

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.