These Dreams…..

‘THESE DREAMS GO ONE WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES”

(with apologies to “Heart”)

Our brains are extremely complex organisms, which are still largely unexplored in many areas. One area that intrigues me is the subconscious or unconscious thought process which takes place when we sleep. I guess most people call it “dreaming” There are dreams, and then there are DREAMS. I think they take many different forms and possibilities.

I surely wish I could remember everything I had ever dreamed. Sort of like having a little “hard drive” built in to my brain where I could push the “save” button every time I start to go to sleep. I also wish that I could dream some of the things I WANT to dream about. I wish we could dictate to our brains the “script” of what we want to start out with in our dreams, and let them go forward from there. One thing I really wish I could dream about is running.

I have been exercising quite a lot lately. I started about 5 weeks ago and I have worked my way up to 45 minutes on the treadmill at 3.1 mph and an elevation of 1.0 I know that’s not much for most people, but for someone who’s had two heart attacks, 4 bypasses and one stent….it ain’t bad. I still have to be careful and not let my heart rate get above a certain point, so there is one treadmill that I always use which has a really good heart monitor. So, I’m walking pretty quickly but not running.

I would just love to be able to run across the country, sort of like Forrest Gump did. Running on and on and seeing things that I have never seen before. Taking the time to appreciate things which I have never appreciated before. Chances are slim of me ever running again in real life. Not for very long anyway.

I have started sleeping better since I have been exercising, but I used to lay awake for hours previously.

My wife and I always listen to music at night, and a few weeks ago as I was trying very hard to sleep, I began to actually see the musical notes in my mind. I was listening to Enya I think, and on all of the notes I saw silver and gold patterns in my head. The chords were like sunbursts and moon glow. The voice of the singers, which was angelic in nature, flowed through my mind like a deep blue river, rushing towards the ocean. No, I was NOT on anything! This was dreaming, and it was the strangest and most wonderful dreaming I can remember in quite a long, long time. I wasn’t deep asleep; I was just sort of in a land somewhere far enough away from reality for things to be ecstatically good. I am not sure that I will ever get a repeat of the “unreal” concert. I didn’t want to “wake up” I finally snapped out of that vision…even though I could have stayed in it for a long, long time.

On a very rare occasion, I dream of times past and of people who are now gone from this life. You would think this might be a more common type of dream. But, for me at least, it is very uncommon. I think maybe you have more and more of the dreams like this as you get older, because more of the people you have loved and known in your life start to leave. I dream of my Grandmother occasionally, most of the time in the kitchen cooking! I can still smell the biscuits cooking, and in the back of my mind wish I had gotten her to teach me how to make them! My mind yearns for a trip back. For just one more day, as Mitch Albom has so sweetly expressed in one of his books. One more day to say things that should have said, but which I always thought I would have time to say.

I used to help my Grandma sometimes and it was during this period of interaction that I learned a great deal about here philosophy of life. A lot of hard work mainly, but a lot of love for life too. When she had here 100th birthday, I asked her if she had it to go over again what one thing would she do or not do. She told me simply “Worry less, because worry never did change nothing!” It still doesn’t Grandma, it still doesn’t! Since Grandma died…Dad and Mom have gone on also, and occasionally I still see them in my dreams.

It’s just a shame that we can’t step into these kinds of dreams anytime we want to, and visit with our loved ones who are no longer with us. It’s also a shame that we don’t realize that some of the loved ones who are still with us now, may soon be a memory. We should tell THEM the things we need to, before it’s too late, and we can only visit them every once in a while in our dreams.

I really haven’t had any BAD dreams recently. Nothing which I would call a nightmare, or anything even resembling a bad dream. My granddaughter who is now a High School Junior, used to have them. Occasionally when she was little and would spend the night, my wife and I would wake up with her standing next to the bed: “I had a bad dreams…” she would say sleepily as she climbed into the solace and comfort of our bed. “It will be OK” I mumbled. And, I knew it would. Most of the dreams we have, we never remember, and I was pretty sure she would not remember her bad dreams by the time she woke up in the morning.

Last night I was awake until 1 am in the morning, and I was wishing so badly I could sleep. I sneakily turned my Kindle fire onto Netflix and pulled up “Forrest Gump” and fast forwarded to the point where he was running out and back across America. By the time he said “Just like that, my running days were over…” I nodded off slowly and slept dreamlessly through the night.

Sleep

What I need most is sleep, but most nights it eludes me. If I get five uninterrupted hours of sleep in a night, I count myself lucky! Sleep dodges my grasp. I can more easily catch a grasshopper in an open field than to catch 40 good winks.

I cannot “turn my brain off” as my Momma used to say. The neurons fire and fire and fire. And worry creeps in and makes the situation harder. “Should I have done this..” “Should I have said this…” “Is so and so mad, are their feelings hurt?”

Aw dammit. Those are the kind of things my Grandmother and Mom would both say…and neither of them slept good either. I don’t remember my Granny ever sleeping over four hours in a night. She was up at the crack of dawn every day.

My Doctor asked me today, “Do you want something to help you to sleep?”

I said nosiree.

I take enough pills now to keep the pharmaceutical companies in the black.

I’ll just get what I get, and keep on thinking and thinking.

And nod off during the day if I get still for more than a minute or two.

I fear I may just be like Edgar Allen Poe: “Sleep, the little death…how I loathe it” he said

He must not have been able to turn his brain off either.

Lighting and the Dangerous Car Ride

Note:  Read this at your own risk. Might make some mad.

As I walked around the neighborhood this morning, I noticed how very cloudy and humid it was.  I believe the weather forecast for today is for storms with some lightning.  I think that’s great.  I love lightning now.  I like to get out in it, out from under the deck and look up at the sky to see if I can see it and I point my camera phone up there and try to get a good photograph of a lightning bolt.  I really don’t care if I get hit by it, because if I do, then it’s just “my time” right?  I mean, it would be one searing moment of intense agony and pain, and it would be over.  Besides, it would only affect me personally in a physical manner.  I’d be the only one dead.  I know, it would probably affect the people who love me and care about me, but they’d get over it.  Besides, it’s my body and my life and I have the right to stand out in a lightning storm if I want to.  Maybe I’ll get a fantastic up close photo one of these days and it will have been worth it.  So, today…looking for that lightning!

That brings me to my other subject which I thought about yesterday, the dangerous car ride.  This was something I did back sometime in 1986-88.  I was working for Zee medical selling medical supplies and I had a big territory.  I was way out somewhere around Jasper Georgia one day near the end of the day and I realized I had to be home in less than an hour for something important to do with one of the kids.  I can’t remember what the activity was, just remember I needed to be home in 50 minutes and it was a little over an hour’s drive from where I was.  I said to God:  “Please protect me on this ride home, because I’m not slowing down for nothing!”  I took off and I passed ever car that was in my way that wasn’t going as fast as I needed to go.  It didn’t matter if it was on a curve, double yellow line, blind hill, whatever.  I passed everything.  I went at least 70 most of the way.  I made it home on time for the activity and I didn’t get in a wreck and get killed.  Did God protect me, or was it just my blind  stupid luck that got me there.

As I lay in bed that night, I couldn’t go to sleep.  I trembled in fear at what I had done.  I not only had endangered myself….but I had put multiple people who I didn’t even know in danger of dying because of my carelessness.  I could have been killed for sure…maybe run off the road in a one car crash.  I could also have run into a car with an entire family going 70 miles per hour and killed them all….an myself.  I endangered numerous lives that day….just because I needed to be somewhere at a certain time.  It was a selfish and crazy thing I did, which I have never, ever repeated since then.  Being careless with my own life was bad enough.  I had young kids who needed a father.  But, maybe killing some complete stranger and their entire family?

Do you see the difference??

Anyway, I’ll be looking for that rain today.

Is There any Magic?

Is there any magic in this world? It appears to me, every time I take a close look, that everything which has comprised an advance in our civilization has come from the mind of man. (or woman)

Every invention, every work of art, every book and every discovery, has been made through an idea that came from the human mind. It doesn’t really matter where the inspiration originated. Pretty often we sell ourselves short on our accomplishments, and we really shouldn’t.

The positive things human beings have done are amazing.

The one thing we can’t seem to accomplish, is how to live with each other peacefully. Since it’s hard for human nature can to overcome that flaw, perhaps we should rely on human technology and ingenuity.

I believe somewhere out there someone has an idea that can bring us peace. Is it AI or maybe some kind of cream or ointment? Something like sunblock you rub on, but instead it’s “hateblock”.

Who knows? All I know is that mankind possesses the means for his total destruction many times over…worked on by many thousands of people, many hundreds of years.

There’s gotta be at least one person out there working on developing a technology for a non violent world. (I hope)

Short

I have looked inside myself and firmly believe I have found the help I need. For if I cannot help myself first, then how can expect it from others? If I cannot ask myself the hard questions and stand the answers, I shouldn’t look to others for easy solutions. We all need help in this life, but most of what we need we already have.

A Walk Around Town in 2015

I walked around town this morning since it was not too hot. I thought a lot while I walked. Forrest Gump said that’s what he did while he was running out and back across America. Thought about things.

I thought first about how lucky I am. I am luckier than 99% of the people in the world. I’ve never gone hungry or been homeless. I had good parents, I married a good woman and I have a good family. I’ve lived to almost 65 years now (thanks to modern medicine and some good heart surgeons) and most days have been good days. I’ve been free to read the books I wanted to read, and to get into my car and drive anywhere in the USA where I wanted to go. The creator of the Universe has given me the privilege and opportunity to live this physical life in this physical world, and the ability to experience all my human emotions. What a wondrous thing!

I thought about all of the bad things which have been taking place lately. My wife and I were discussing this just recently, and came to the conclusion that lack of respect for other people and their right to have their own opinions, lack of manners and politeness, and lack of love, are near the root cause of many of these bad things which are happening. Basic respect, which my parents taught me, and which I taught my children is sadly lacking nowadays. Respect for life, respect for beliefs, respect for different cultures, respect for personal space, respect for the opposite sex, respect for people’s property. On and on and on….

As Aretha Franklin sang: R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!

I have a problem with people idolizing people who have no respect for others. When it comes to something such as say…politics…I would vote for a respectful candidate who I didn’t necessarily agree with over a disrespectful person who I agreed with 100%. Yes, I am at that point. Respect and manners are that important to me now. As I have mentioned before, the scene from “Lonesome Dove” where Captain Call runs down the Scout who had just hit his young son with a whip and nearly beats the Scout to death, only being stopped from doing it by Gus throwing a rope around him. “I hate rude behavior in a man” he sputters to Gus “I won’t tolerate it”.

I guess that’s where we come in. We need to be intolerant of rude behavior, ranging from saying the “f” word in public at the local gym in front of a group of people including women, all the way to the ultimate rudeness of murdering someone in cold blood, to everything in between. We do…not…have to tolerate it. We do not have to tolerate the rude behavior of any religion which causes hurt or death to other people. We do not have to tolerate behavior from people who are supposed to protect us, which leads to the harm or death of other humans. I submit that we have essentially the same right as Captain Call to protest this rudeness albeit hopefully in a less violent manner.

I cannot cover all the things I thought about. I wish sometimes I had a little tape recorder in my head. I’ve forgotten some arguments over the years that would persuade Clarence Darrow. I’ve let some of the most winning of song lyrics float off through the air. I’ve solved the problems of the world many a night in my hot bath (due to the great circulation hot water causes to the brain) but they have slipped away on the fluffy towel as I dry off.

Anyway, I am thankful for this day and revel in the life it provides. I want to continue with it a while longer in order to help as many people as I can. I hope everyone has a great afternoon.

When Music came with Cardboard Covers

Circa 1965-1968 When Music Came in Cardboard Covers

I had the record player on a table in my bedroom. Just a square boxy old thing, which had a latch on the front, and a handle on the other end. Portable record player they called it. It was a beige brown color and had one speaker across the front with this mesh looking stuff on the outside. You could stack about 5 of the 33’s on the spindle and you had to have a “converter” to play a goodly stack of 45’s.

There was nothing more exciting than bringing home a new record album. You went to the store…Redford’s 5 & 10 most of the time for me, and you would stand over the bin where the albums were stored and flip through them. Once, twice, three times. Only enough money for one, but which would it be? It was mid to late 60’s…perhaps 1967, and a cool cover of guys dressed in the Blue and Grey of the civil war caught my eye. It was a group called “The Buckinghams” and featured a song called Susan. I liked it, and bought it and took it back home. There was always a ritual of removing the clear cellophane and easing the white “dust jacket” out. Most of the time there were graphics and other photos on these too…and I always enjoyed just pouring over the pictures, looking at the names of all the songs, the credits, who wrote the songs. It took time, and if was fun.

I’d put it on the bottom of the stack and add a couple of my favorites on top…most of the time it was late afternoon in the Summer. The most gorgeous of times, with the sun coming in from my West facing window, and shining in filtered rays through the shafts of fine dust I had kicked up from my activity. I’d lay down on the rug in my room right next to the record player and for the next hour or two I would listen to the music, feel the music, and live the music. Right there in a three square foot space, I transcended the normality of the moment and exceeded any expectations I had for the future. Then the music stopped.

I got up and stretched and carefully took my albums off the portable record player, and carefully held them, carefully put them back in the dust jackets and stored them back in the cardboard covers. I put them in a box carefully and lovingly, knowing I would listen to them again in a day or two. Never longer than a day or two.

Those were tactile days. Days when music came in an enjoyable, holdable, seeable packages. Wonderful iconic images came from those days. Wonderful memorable music which I remember to this day and can still sing every word of every song.

Today, I mostly just pick a song off of iTunes and it’s downloaded on my phone. I don’t have time, or don’t take time to lay on the floor for an hour and listen to music. Mostly now, it plays in the background at night to soothe our sleep.

I really don’t get as much pleasure from new music as I used to…….and it’s hard for me to remember the words. Maybe because I’m in the late 60’s now, and the world has moved on to 2017 and left me behind.

Keep Your Mouth Shut

My Daddy once told me that unless a man had something useful to say, he should keep his mouth shut. As most of you realize if you know me, or have read my writing it’s obvious that I should keep my mouth shut most of the time. I just can’t help it though, useful or not I have to say what I think.

What I am opening my mouth (or keyboard literally) to talk about today is hope. That’s right, hope. I have to have it. It has to be there, like a piece of driftwood in the vast ocean when you are drowning. Something to grab hold of and stay afloat. My hope is for the future. The future in which I will be missing, but my children and grandchildren and whatever descendants that I may be blessed with (who will never know I existed,) will know.

Right now, it kind of looks bleak, and that is why I have to have hope. I don’t think there is any way that the members of my generation, the baby boomers, can fix the mess that we are in now. It’s not just one mess, but MANY different messes going on simultaneously which make things so complex.

There are the changing demographics of the entire world. People of different races and cultures are traveling far and wide in this day and age and settling in places their ancestors would never have imagined. As they do this, they become familiar with each other and one thing leads to another and you have relationships being built between these members of different races and cultures. Some still try to stick with their own cultures, but inevitably I believe will fail. The children of the future will probably look like all the beautiful little biracial and multiracial children we see running around. I think at some point there won’t be any black, yellow, red and white anymore. There will be one color and one international culture at some point. I don’t know how far in the future that this may occur, and I don’t know if mankind can keep from destroying each other first with nuclear weapons but if they can then that’s one thing I think will happen. It will be a huge challenge for our descendants who are at the “transitional” stage. (Or maybe that’s where we ARE now?) It could well be that the future inhabitants of this planet will “ease” into this situation so gradually that no one will ever know it’s happening until it’s upon them. I don’t think it will be a bad thing either. One of things that continually breeds discontent, distrust and war is the difference between people’s race and culture. If there IS not difference then they will have to find something else to fight about. Maybe they won’t be able to.

There is the quickly changing face of technology. I would have NEVER in my wildest dreams as a child imagined the world as it is today. There have been so many advances in the last 50 years that it makes the 1950’s seem like the Stone Ages. What we take for granted every day now, would have seemed like a trick of magic back then. Computers will continue to advance and now that robotics IS actually taking off like Isaac Asimov thought it would, our descendants can look forward to a world where the physical part of living will become easier and easier.

There will be issues that come up, ethical issues, which will challenge the very core of the morals of our society. What about a computer program that can store the “essence” of a person on a program, and come up with a “virtual” person who is exactly like the person who is dying. Anyone ever seen the movie “Freejack” with old Mick Jagger? That’s science fiction still, BUT so was Jules Verne back in the late 19th century. It may not be that a person’s “essence” can be stored on a computer and then put back into another person’s body. I am not sure it will ever get to that point. BUT to create a “virtual” person with the knowledge and character of a real live person is but a few steps away from becoming a reality. You can “store” Grandma or Grandpa on the handy dandy virtual person program, and pull them up to talk to any time you want. How would you like that? Kind of a spooky thought isn’t it? Yet, right now people who play the high tech computer games that generate “characters” to play through (the avatar type games) are already interacting in a very close knit way with these “quasi-people.” You can give them character traits, physical characteristics, and other things which make them “almost” seem human. It’s only a few steps away until you can do the same thing with your dear Uncle Bob, believe me. Soulless, yes. Interaction there will be. There could also be a use for this type of program to reduce overpopulation, in that people who are not allowed, or don’t want to have a “real” live child, can have a virtual child which they can “raise” from a baby all the way up through adulthood. The cost would be quite a bit cheaper to raise this type of “child” too.

Medically speaking, the people who can make it 20 or 30 more years are likely to be able to live practically as long as they want. With the research and discoveries in genetics that are now taking place, it won’t be long until the genes that cause “aging” as we know it, will be discovered and neutralized. People who are well off enough financially will be able to benefit from this expensive technology and beat “the system” Dick Cheney may actually still be here in the year 2100! Arrrr…?

I think that many diseases which afflict people such as cancer, heart disease, and all the big killers will be beaten. People will have to be run over by a Fire Truck in order to die. That’s about the only thing which will do it. However, I am sure there will be a lot of volunteers to be “uploaded” into the computer program which I mentioned in the previous paragraph. After all, who REALLY wants to live forever? And you probably will still have the old aches and pains that won’t go away. (Maybe not, they may have something for that too) Besides, you might be able to do things on that computer program you could NEVER do in real life, like fight dragons, or fly.

That would be a hoot, right?

Hmmmmm…..

Like a Thief in the Night

This was the last night I prayed. It’s been some time.

Jesus said when he returns he will come “as a thief in the night”.

Remember Christ says, “When I come, it will surprise you like a thief! But God will bless you, if you are awake and ready. Then you won’t have to walk around naked and be ashamed.”

Suppose he does just that, and returns in the dead of night, in secret, but… only comes into the hearts and minds of those people who really, truly are his followers. Those who are really, truly ready to receive him, his knowledge and power. He would know which ones, because it’s easy for him to read our hearts. He knows what’s really there, regardless of what we present to the world as being our true selves. Many are presenting selves that are not true.

Suppose they, or we are “caught up” spiritually, and don’t physically disappear, but instead are “raptured” while in our sleep? Changed and transformed to wake as new beings.
Suppose then, believers wake up as totally different beings. Spiritual, supernatural beings capable of changing anything and everything about the world around them, including people, animals, plants, the oceans, the mountains and the air.
Suppose that we or they, really are the inheritors of the Earth, as Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “The meek shall inherit the earth.” An inheritance… as in something which is left behind by a person who is no longer there, for their heirs to take as their own property, and do with it as they will.

A new earth.

A new heaven and a new earth. Brand new, unspoiled, teeming with life and beauty. Imagine the most beautiful sunrise you have ever seen and then multiply it by a thousand times. That’s the kind of newness and beauty I am talking about. That’s the kind of newness and beauty which I saw.

This was a dream that I dreamt last night and I woke up startled! I was not yet changed into that spiritual being which I wanted to be, but I wanted to be ready to be changed.
I thought about it for a long while. I said a prayer that I might be ready if that wonderful dream ever becomes a reality.
Then, I turned back over and went back to sleep and had another dream.

I woke up again this morning early and got up to exercise for an hour and thought about that dream again. It’s totally antithetical to the type of dreams I usually have. It’s unusual for it to have stayed so long in my brain.

I wondered where in the world the impetus came from for that dream. It’s the last time I have prayed. I won’t say how long that’s been.

Musical Interlude

We have one of those Amazon “Alexas” and from time to time I’ll holler “Alexa play songs from: ” and then just choose an artist I want to hear and she’ll start playing the songs. I asked for songs by the group “Chicago” today while we were in the kitchen messing around. I’ve always loved them. In my list of favorite groups they would have to be #2 behind the Beatles. I’ve always loved their songs…especially with the brass in the background. It always makes me a little sad at the same time too, though. Hearing that “band sound” always reminds me of a lost opportunity to do something I really wanted to do.
I always loved music when I was a kid. I sang, and played guitar and I could “pick up” tunes and play the chords for them and sing just “by ear” I never learned to read music though….still haven’t.

In the seventh grade in school, in the spring time was the time for band tryouts for the next year. I always wanted to be in the band. I’d looked forward to it for several years leading up to that time when I might be able to join. I did all the sign up stuff and tryouts on the instruments and was told that my instrument would be…..a clarinet. A clarinet? That was a surprise, as I’d always supposed I’d be a trumpet guy, and I liked the fact that there were only three buttons on top of a trumpet. The damn clarinet looked like something from outer space with all of those buttons and places to press down.

I gave it a try though, and I finally got some sound out of it. So, we then went on to have some practices. They put a sheet of simple music in front of me, and after going over what it meant a couple of times, we had to try and play. I couldn’t discern heads or tails out of that sheet of music with all of it’s notes and squiggles and dots. Other people didn’t seem to be having as much trouble as I was having, so I figured it was me. I was such a dummy I couldn’t learn to read music. I was deficient.

I followed along for a couple of weeks by ear. If I heard it once or twice through I could replicate the melody pretty closely. I wanted to ask about the music though. I wanted to get somebody to teach me how to understand it…how to “read” the music. I was too embarrassed to ask the band director though. I got increasingly frustrated as we got new music. Finally, a few days before school was out, I went to the office and dropped out of the band.

In hindsight, I wish I had asked for help, and if not I wish I had stuck with it even without asking. I think I could have “faked it” good enough to stay in the band, because once I learn a tune…I don’t forget it. Maybe if I had stayed until band camp the next year, they would have stuck me on the bass drum…cause I was a big guy. Maybe if the band director had just a little more perception about what was going on with me. I supposed it wasn’t meant to be though. At least I got to try. My poor Paula wanted to play in the band at her school in Maryland, but didn’t know what to do to sign up. They had nobody there to even ask them if they wanted to play…no adviser or teacher to guide them in how to sign up for band. She was too shy to ask around and find out.

So as I listen to the brass play in the background on “Saturday in the Park” I wonder what might have been if I’d been a little more assertive, and if someone had been there to tell my wife, “this is how you sign up for band” Maybe we’d have ended up in an orchestra or something!

We lived band careers vicariously through all of our children and our grandchildren, I suppose…..but it would have been nice to have been a “part” of something during my High School years. I never was….

I guess there are advantages to being a “lone wolf” too……. I’m not sure exactly what they are yet though.