Donovan’s Brain, and Mine Too

IT’S ALL in your MIND…..(or…What’s on your mind, as this blank space always asks when I come to it.)

What is the first thing that you can remember? That’s my question for now. What’s your first memory? Our mind is a funny thing and they say we only use about 10% of what we have. But just humor me and try and frame a mental picture of your first memory. If you can do it that will eventually lead me to my other question.

See, the reason it interests me is that I often wonder if everyone else’s brain functions about the same as mine. Most of my childhood memories are rather fuzzy around the edges. Do you know what I mean? It’s sort of like trying to look at something right after you have just woke up, and you still have a ton of “sleep” in your eyes. Either that, or maybe it’s like trying to remember a dream which you had the night before. The dream is really clear when you first wake up, but if you EVER want to remember it, you should take the advice of dream specialists and write it down right then. If not, it’s going to be fuzzy in the morning. Fuzzy around the edges, just like those really early childhood memories. Sometimes I wonder if some of my “memories’ are not really dreams. Is that possible? I think it might be. As we go through life, and we live through so many different things, it may just be that some of our more vivid dreams get mixed up in our brain with reality. That would be a hoot wouldn’t it? I really think this is a good exercise though, because the more I have consciously thought about the past, the more memories starting bubbling to the surface like bubbles on a pound full of snapping turtles. The more I try and separate reality from fantasy, the more sure I am that it’s not always possible to do so.

Well for starters, the very first thing I remember is having to go potty really, really bad. We lived in a house back in 1953, when I was three years old that was originally a duplex that had been turned into a regular house. I remember that it confused me, because both sides of the house seemed to be the same, except the living room furniture was in one side and the bedroom furniture in the other. I remember thinking that the rooms were the same and that when I blinked my eyes, or went to sleep (especially if I got carried from one side to the other during that time) that the furniture was rearranging itself! Strange, right? But, back to pottying. I had to go really, really bad, and nobody was around to “direct” me to the correct place, so down went the pants and… can guess the rest. The part I remember the most, was getting my rear end tanned by my Pop! I never, ever did that again!

I also remember having a pair of Easter bunnies that same year. Dad brought them home in a box, and we took them out back to eat grass and they got away from us and ran up under the car. It took Daddy forever to catch them, and I didn’t know what some of the words he was using meant, but I used one of them later on when I rode my tricycle down the front steps. My Dad was secretly tickled I said it to the Dr. who was sewing up my head, but he still blamed it on my Mom. I can’t remember what happened to those damn rabbits though. I think Dad probably got tired of them making a mess and got rid of them one night while the furniture was changing itself around.

Another vivid thing during that same year I believe was during the summer we would catch “lightning bugs” (fireflies to a lot of you) We would put them in a jar and I would take them to a dark place and try to use them like a flashlight! Usually, we would let them go before going in for the night, but once we forgot and I came out the next morning, and couldn’t figure out why the bugs wouldn’t light up. I didn’t realize that after being in a closed jar with no hole all night long, they were NEVER going to light up again! My Dad told me that they were not sleeping, that they were dead forever. That was my first realization that things sometimes really cease to live.

I know that I lived the first two years of my life at my Grandparent’s house. My Dad didn’t get out of the Navy until 1952, so my Mom and I stayed with them. I have seen pictures of myself at that age, but try as I might, try so very hard, I cannot bring up any memories of any of those times before 1953 when we moved back to Trion, where I still live today. I wish I could remember those times. What would really be neat would be to be able to remember anything and everything that ever happened to you. To just be able to sit down and say, “Now I am going to remember December of 1956 when I was six years old, and what happened at Christmas that year!” That would be a miracle wouldst it? Scientists say that everything is stored right up there in that little 3 pounds of gray jelly we call our brain. That wonderful, misunderstood and not fully understood organ that runs us. I have tried everything from meditation, to “commanding” my brain to remember, to closing my eyes and straining and squinting but I still can’t make it happen! Are all of you folks like that, or is it just me!!! I would like to know, so I can claim a deficiency if I am the only one.

Memory and the brain. They really are a strange thing. I remember one time when my Grandfather was in his last year of life. He didn’t know anybody, or anything much. He was afflicted with some type of memory loss which was permanent and very severe…as a result of a stroke perhaps, or of hardening of the arteries. When we went to visit him, he would just sit around and kind of “babble” like a tape recorder randomly playing back snippets of conversation recorded over years and years of time. Nothing made much sense. He always seemed like he was glad to see us, and sad to see us go…but…things were just not perking right. My Grandma was sitting there one day and talking about one of their relatives, and Grandpa spoke up all of the sudden and said: “Cleve’s dead” (I think it was Cleve….it might have been Pierce…my memories not so good….) My Grandma answered him back telling him how crazy he was, because she had just talked to Uncle Cleve that morning. That afternoon when we took Grandma back home, she found out that Cleve had died right around the time we were all at the Nursing home. So, the brain’s funny isn’t it. I would have bet you a million dollars that Grandpa couldn’t count to ten anymore, but somehow, someway he knew his old hunting buddy had died.

Maybe not being able to recall everything that has ever happened to us is a blessing. We might NOT be able to be selective and just remember the good things. We might also HAVE to remember the bad things too. There are a LOT of those things that I would rather keep shoved back into the tiny recesses and crevasses of my mind. Yes, my mind. When all is said and done, our mind IS what we are isn’t it? Even when Grandpa’s was taken mostly away, he was given a gift of sorts to replace what had been taken from him. I guess our spirit sort of resides there. I suppose the part of us which is our personality and which makes us us resides there. It’s about the only part of us they can’t replace with a transplant still! Shoot, you can have a ticker transplant and go right on being yourself, but a diving accident can turn you into something you would rather not think about! It makes you wonder about all those people who do have that kind of damage. Have their souls, what made them who they were, already fled the premises and just left the empty shell behind? I suppose there are many who doubt there is a soul…but I still believe in it. I still believe that “spark” of creation is still there.

Well, there’s the challenge for those of you who want to think about it. Can you remember everything? What was your first memory? Would you like to be able to have total recall? When our old brain is gone, like Grandpa’s was, are we still us? I think so….what do you think? Most of all I would like to know…how are your memories…are they as clear as a wonderfully taken photograph, or as gray around the edges as an out of focus picture?

Oh by the way. Does anybody remember a Science Fiction thriller from the 50’s named “Donavan’s Brain?” It was about this guy whose brain was taken out of him while he was still alive, and put into this thing that looked all the world like a ten gallon fish aquarium! They had all kind of wires hooked up to it, and had it connected to a computer looking thing. Ol’ Donovan’s Brain could still “communicate” and eventually took over some folks, if I remember right, making ‘em do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It was a hoot! I hope to heck they NEVER learn to do that. I personally hope they never learn to “store” our minds on computers either. Never able to “download” the electrical impulses from our brains onto some kind of infernal storage unit, to be put into a program so we can still communicate with the living. I don’t wanna’ be a machine.

I know for sure a lot of really rich people are planning on something happening. Walt Disney is on “ice” as is Ted Williams and quite a few other folks with the dollars who thing there’s a chance for a human resurrection one of these days.

When it’s time for me to go, I want to go. I wonder, what will my LAST thought will be? Whatever it is, I won’t be able to share it with any of you guys that are left behind, so I guess I better concentrate on sharing what I want to now, while I still can!! Love and Peace to you all.

Who I am

Going down this winding road since October 1950, I’ve seen many things and done plenty more.

My opinions on life have stayed pretty much the same all along, at least in my deep down, secret heart of hearts.

I think on some days perhaps I should evolve, and try a different philosophy, but then after some additional thought I say the hell with that. I am who and what I am, and that’s pretty much it.

Where I used to be a gripey young man, now I’m a gripey old man.

Where I used to be a collector, now I’m a junker ( some say I’ve reached hoarder status, but I don’t think I’m there yet).

Where I used to barely scrape by, now I scrape lower.

Where I used to respect a lot of people, now I respect fewer. (A lot of good ones have died).

Where I used to be religious, I am now spiritually independent.

Things I used to be super afraid of, don’t scare me much anymore.

Where I used to love music, I now need it to survive.

Where I used to be insecure, I still am…..

I could go on, but I won’t. This self examination is over for now.

I think it’s worthwhile for everyone to look at themselves and be honest with themselves about their status as a human being. As you can see, I’m certainly no saint. Not even close to a Nobel peace prize. But, I do still love.

I love my family, my friends, those who used to call me friend but now don’t. I love life, nature, fresh air, good food, little kids, play dough, “The Secret Life of Pets” baking with my wife, going to the beach, ice cream….and so much more.

In spite of my failings and foibles, I love this life.

I hope all of you do too.

The Pond

by Larry Bowers.

A wise man was charged with the duty of selecting a new chief for his tribe. He had the two most qualified men follow him to a beautiful pristine pond which was fed by pure mountain streams.

He called the first man over to the pond, and bade the other wait while they spoke.

“Look into the water, and tell me what you see” he asked the first man.

This man, who was the war leader of the tribe gazed intently into the pond. The sun had not been long risen over the horizon as he looked.

“I see a strong and wise leader” he said. “I see a man who has his weapons, and is prepared to defend his people or lead them to war against their enemies” he continued. “I see a man who knows no fear and can persuade others to follow him” he finished and turned back to the wise man.

“Thank you” said the wise man. “Tell the other man to come”

The second man came and the wise man asked him to look into the water. “What do you see?” He asked

The second man, who was a hunter and farmer, looked deep into the water.

“I see wonderful clear water to drink and use for bathing, and to water our plants” he said.

“I see the fish and the turtles which we catch to eat, and from which we make our needles from the fish bones, and our utensils from the turtles shell. I see the slope on the opposite shore where the buffalo and antelope drink, and the beautiful flowers growing on the shore where our people come to eat and talk. I see the fowl of the air, whose eggs are a delicacy to us. I see the rocks which the stream has exposed from which we make our tools” he finished and turned back towards the wise man.

“Take the other, and go back to the village” he said.

That night with all the tribe gathered around the ceremonial fire the wise elder, the wise shaman, signalled the drums to stop.

He called the second man over from his place at the circle and spoke: “This is your new leader” he said. “This man will care for all of the tribe, and with help will be able to provide for you, and you will prosper” The wise man placed the ceremonial eagle feather on his head. “Now go and celebrate” he commanded.

The first man was angry and spoke loudly to the elder after the group had left: “I am the strongest warrior, and greatest leader in battle and would have led our tribe to glory” he fumed. “Why did you not choose me…my Father?”

“My son,” he said sadly. “What you say may be true, but all you saw when you looked into the water was your own reflection….”

And so it was the tribe got a new and wise chief that night.

I think….therefore I might be.

When I was a little kid, I consciously decided I would not let my life be controlled by my impulses. I was a big kid, big for my age, and at first I wanted to “be tough” and beat people up.

I got mad at a neighbor kid one day, and busted him in the nose. The amount of blood he shed scared me. My impulse had been to lash out in anger and that is what I did. Not long afterwards I got in a fight with a boy who spit on me. I wrestled him to the ground and hit him repeatedly in the head. I was only 8 or 9 years old.

As I lay on the ground one late summer day and watched the white clouds floating overhead, I decided that I did not need to beat up people in order to live. I decided that there was a malevolent spirit inside me which took over my actions when I acted on impulse without considering the consequences. I thought I might actually really hurt someone badly at some point. I decided I would not physically attack anyone anymore. That’s been 55 years, and I never have. I have only ever just defended myself if absolutely necessary. I did everything in my power to avoid conflict. I let myself be called coward sometimes. Yet, I am still here.

I know of several who took the path of giving into their impulses who are either in jail or dead. I know a lot of guys who fought at the drop of a hat, but they never benefited from it. I know people who were bullies that were the most hated and despised people.

I tell you this so you will know that it is possible to be peaceable, and to be at peace if you wish it to be so. There are very few people for who this is not true. There is only a very small percentage of people who cannot control their actions, due to disease and medical problems.

“I think, therefore I am” said Descartes.

Thinking comes first. After that, you will be able to do things you never thought possible to prove to the world who you really are. You don’t have bloody a person’s nose for them to know you exist. Just be thoughtful, and you will find balance and a solution.

Grandpa and the Honey Bees

Grandfather and the Honey Bees

The last time I ever saw and spoke with my Grandfather in 1992, he was 98 years old. His mind was ravaged by Dementia and his kidneys were failing. Yet, all he could talk about that day were his bees. He wasn’t making much sense about anything else, but for some reason that day he had the bees on his mind. You see, he had been a beekeeper almost all of his life, and he was worried about them. Very worried.

As far back as I can remember there were always bee hives surrounding his old two storied clapboard house. They were not out in some distant field somewhere. They were within feet of the front porch, resting on large flat rocks that Grandpa had brought down behind a mule from near the top of “Johnny” Mountain which loomed tall just across Uncle Lark’s corn field straight out in front of the home place.

They were neat little white painted wooden boxes, with another one of the flat rocks on top. Simplicity in design beyond today’s comprehension, but workable nonetheless. I used to be mesmerized as a child watching these tireless workers fly in and out, and in and out of the little hole cut in the bottom of the wooden box, which served as their one entrance and exit from the hive. I could watch them for hours on end and never tire of the wonderment of their movements and the soliloquy of their buzzing symphony.

They would zip around my head as I sat on the front porch swing, and I once made the mistake of swatting one of them when he got too close. Not only did I get a sting from the bee, but a lecture from Grandpa. “They won’t hurt you, if you don’t hurt them first” he said. “They’re out helpers, and you gotta let ‘em be” I had to take this advice literally, coming from a man who more often than not would rob a hive of bees wearing no extra clothing besides a heavy pair of leather gloves. He talked to them as he took out the honey, telling them he was leaving enough for them to survive the winter. Talked and hummed all the while.

But late that afternoon in 1992 he was worried about them.

“Will you take care of the bees this year?” he asked “I just don’t think I will be up to it”

“And mind you, don’t swat none of them, we need them every one”

“Sure Grandpa” I answered. “I’ll take care of them”

Now we are looking at the very real prospect that something is very wrong with our Honey bees. The populations are disappearing, and with them the possibility of apple and peach trees that don’t get pollinated, corn fields and soy bean crops that may be lost, perennials that may not bloom again. How important these creatures, who we hardly ever notice, unless they sting us, really are to our society. If they were all to disappear today, would humanity survive? We may find out unless the energies of our government and scientist hone in on what it is exactly that is making them disappear.

I remember nothing so well as the sweet taste of the fresh harvested honeycomb, and how the honey would drip from the edges of my mouth when I bit into it. I would hate for my grandchildren and their grandchildren to never have that chance. I personally feel like I have let my Grandpa down because when I spoke with him that day in 1992, I thought it was just the ramblings of an errant mind, and I didn’t think anymore about it.

But Grandpa knew how important these insects were. “They’re our helpers, we need them everyone” he had said.

We certainly do, and all of us had better realize it before it’s too late.

Code Switching

I know there are things I would like to express my opinion about. There’s not enough time in my day in which to do so. Some day soon perhaps I will sit down with my computer in my lap, and my fingers will fly, and I will let my few friends who actually read what I write know what I really think about the current sorry state of our country, and our world.

Then again, maybe not. In all the time I have been on this Facebook thing, I have never had one single person say “you know, I got to thinking about what you wrote and it really changed my mind about ______” Not once.

So, what’s it really worth to put yourself out there? The friends you have who are philosophically similar will like it, and your friends who are philosophically different will not. Chances are they will disagree vociferously on your post, and make you feel guilty for even saying anything. Perhaps I am just too much of a code switching empath to feel good about causing any type of conflict. But is that cowardly? I dunno.

Guess I will just try and continue to carefully maneuver and gently persuade. If even only one person gets something good out of it then I have succeeded.

Life and a Death in the Common Age

Much of what I write is written to me.

I write of love and being positive and hopeful. I am speaking to myself, because most days it is hard to be that type of person. So, I preach to myself about the things I need to do and how I need to interact with other human beings.

But, it is so very hard. It’s becoming harder every day. It’s difficult to care. But the sun will come up tomorrow and the sun will set.

We have all seen them. Those beautiful Sunrises. If you’ve been a friend of mine on social media for any amount of time you’ve seen plenty of pictures of sunrises which I thought were beautiful.

Those mornings when the light turns dozens of colors behind a scant screen of clouds. Everything from muted purples to magenta, to bright blood red. How does a beautiful Sunrise make you feel?

For me the beginning of the day, which is signified by that marvelous sunrise, symbolizes a daily rebirth. A new beginning, a time when everything is new again and all options for doing things wonderful, useful, loving, and kind are open. It renews my soul. It tells me in no uncertain terms that I am alive, and that I have been treated to the sight of some of the most beautiful colors in nature. I so appreciate life and the chance to live it. To experience other people, people who I love and who love me. To touch another person, even to simply shake hands, or to brush back the hair of my daughter or sons, my grandchildren, or my wife from their foreheads is an experience that I will only get to enjoy once. Just once, that I will remember in any case. The moments we have will never happen again, just like the moments in the pictures I take. Those photos are a frozen moment in time which will never happen again.

I can taste food for another day and hear music. I don’t really even care what kind most of the time…I generally like it all. I get the privilege of talking and interacting with other people, most of the time in a positive manner. All of this starts with the beautiful Sunrise that I saw when I drove down the road today.

Then there are the stupendous Sunsets. I look out my back door at them often, and take photos that do not do any justice towards how beautiful they really look.

How does a gentle sunset make you feel?

The colors are a similar palette as was the Sunrise, but the feelings are different. Day is leaving. I feel peaceful. I feel content. My tasks for the day are done and I am heading towards the house to rest. I hear the word to “taps” in my head frequently:

“Day is done, gone the sun,

From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;

All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.”

Many times in the past I was headed towards my home from work, to my familiar place, my territory. I had accomplished all I could during the day and I was satisfied. Maybe I should have tried to do more, I feel that way practically every day still. But in the awesome light of the Sunset I felt happy…. tired but happy. I knew I would be glad to get home, and see the ones that I love. My tasks that others would have me do were over. I would eventually lay down that night, and rest my weary body, happy to have seen another day on this Earth.

Life and Death are like the sunrise and sunset. Both are beautiful in their own way, similar, yet vastly different. It’s what happens in between, what we….make happen in between, that forms the legacy of our lives. It’s the appreciation mixed with sorrow, of getting to see the sunrises and sunsets of other peoples lives that hopefully will make us appreciate our own and be less afraid of the final sunset that we all must come to one day. Not melancholy, but happy to have shined and to have enjoyed being in the light. I know I am. I’m glad I have cared.

We all fear the unknown, and not knowing what’s on the other side of that last Sunset is scary. Even to those who are secure in their beliefs and solid in their convictions. I experience that fear, we all probably do when we think about it. But I believe the spark within us that makes us what we are goes on and on, and we are meant to all be together again. I’m not exactly sure how. I’ll never know exactly how until it’s too late to write it down on a page, or take a photo of it.

So, here I have again, added to those many soliloquies I have written to myself but shared with others. I hope you don’t mind.

The Spirits we are Given

I sometimes think, I do not believe in God. Yet I must. I cannot help myself.

I must believe that each of us has a living spirit inside, which is uniquely ours and which was given to us and us alone. Nobody else possesses this tiny piece of creation.

It is ours.

I’m not sure of all the technicalities of this life we live. I feel like nobody truly knows the whole story. I don’t believe God wants us to know the whole story. We have our many religions and beliefs, and I won’t express any opinions about any of them. You believe what you want to, and I’ll do the same.

In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest came to this conclusion:

“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both are happening at the same time.”

I wonder if that’s true? I wonder too about our time here in this physical world. I’m almost 68, and so far, that is my time. It is my entire life up until now in this body. When my time is up, I wonder….where will that tiny piece of creation that keeps this body animated, moving and interacting go?

In September of 1970, my wife gave birth to our daughter Karrie Lynn. She only lived for two days. She was perfect when she was born, but got sick and died. The entirety of her life on the earth was two days, although my wife carried her inside for nine months. Her spirit was just the same in size and scope as mine, she just didn’t get as much time here. Does that fact decrease the importance of her life? Was it her destiny to only live for two days?

I think about it a lot, but I’m not sure of the answer.

If somehow after I die, I can interact with the spirit that was my daughter, I certainly want to do so. I don’t know how that interaction will manifest itself. It doesn’t much matter to me, as long as t does. I don’t think it will be as a father-daughter type meeting, but more of a spiritual reunification. I personally don’t think we will retain this “earthly” identity of what we were here. It would be kind of strange if we did.

Again, this is just my feelings on the subject. You can feel differently if you want to, it won’t hurt my feelings.

I also think that people who have lost children before they are born because of other things which may have happened, will have that same spiritual recognition. I think we will have that reunification with any and all people we have loved here, or have touched in some meaningful way.

A lot of people believe in heaven, but I’m not sure exactly the nature of that situation. Maybe it varies. I have no answer for that. I admire people who have the inscrutable and ironclad faith that there will actually be a physical residence somewhere where everyone who qualifies will gain entrance. I once believed it. But that’s not my belief anymore. Please don’t hate me, or pity me because of it. I’m not belittling your belief. I just don’t think that way anymore.

I do believe there will be more, but I think the total details will not be revealed until we breath our last breath here.

I still cannot agree with Jean-Paul Sartre though, and his existentialist view of man:

“at first, he is nothing. Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also what he wills himself to be.”

I believe we are something, I believe we are all very much something special and unique. That we are given that tiny piece of creation, and we are given the time in which to live it, no matter if that time is great…like my Granny Stewart, who lived to be 100, and who told me that the years were like days to her as she aged….or like my daughter, whose two days may have seemed like a full lifetime, because after all, it was.

Driving My Car!

I don’t know how many miles I have driven in an automobile over my working years. Starting back in 1978 up until 2011, a period of thirty three years, I have worked “out of town” from where I lived in good ol’ Trion, Georgia. I have worked and commuted to Rome, Calhoun, Dalton, LaFayette, and all over Northwest Georgia for five years during the 1980’s as a Sales Rep for a Medical/First Aid company. I have logged a lot of miles in a vehicle. I may try and figure out just how many one of these days when I have a lot more time to work it out.

During the 80’s while I was driving, I listened to WSB radio out of Atlanta most of the time. At least I had it on anyway. I laughed and cried at Ludlow Porch many days. I cussed Neal Boortz and agree with him…about 75-25…you can figure out in which direction. A lot of times I just rode with the radio turned off. I sang the lead to most of the Broadway musical records I had listened to so often as a kid. My “Impossible Dream” rendition from the “Man of La Mancha” is still ringing loudly somewhere in the hills near Jasper, Georgia. I went through every song I every knew and then started writing my own. Back then there was no way to record anything while you were driving, so if I got a good melody in my head I would have to hum it all day long until I got home to my guitar and cassette tape recorder. I know I lost a lot of hit songs due to the fact that I had to get out of the car and work in between bouts of creativity.

I preached many a great sermon back in those days…quoting from every bible verse I had every learned…which was a lot of them. None of them ever saw print or the light of day, but some of them were pretty good.

I taught classes on history and anthropology while I was driving. I had conversations with myself about the meaning of life. I never solved that one.

I imagined myself winning the World series with a last minute home run, or dropping a putt on the 18th of the Masters to win the tournament.

But many times I would just ride along looking at the mountain scenery and think. Just think about things.

I guess I was just a poor man’s Walter Mitty, really.

I once won an all expense paid trip to Athens Greece for Paula and I on a radio contest based on one of the many “question and answer” games that were going around in the early 80’s. I heard the question while I was driving down the road: “Who was Ms. Hungary in 1957” We had just played the game the night before, and I knew the answer was Zsa-Zsa Gabor, so I hurriedly pulled into a service station which had a pay phone (yes there were pay phones back then) and called into WSB. I got through, was the correct caller, and they put my name in the “pot” for the grand prize drawing the next week. As I was driving home the day of the drawing, I had WSB tuned in and when they actually called my name, I just about ran off the road. I had been kidding Paula about where we should go when we won (it was one of ten cities in Europe) so when I pulled into ANOTHER pay phone and called her, she thought I was being goofy. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally believed me. We chose Greece. It was our second choice to Vienna, Austria…but we couldn’t go there because the only time we had to go was in October, and everything there was booked up for Octoberfest. We had a great time in Greece though…

And so I drove on……through the 80’s and into the 90’s. Paula and I got a job at the same place, and for almost ten years we rode out and back together to Calhoun. It was a great era. We took our lunch breaks at the same hour and ate out in Calhoun at all the fast food joints there, many multiple times. We worked with a lot of cool, friendly and iconic people…and a few asses. We got paid decent, and the benefits were super.

We had an hour’s drive home in the afternoons to “cool down” from the day’s work. We did a lot of talking, and it kept us close. Thinking back now, the place we were working was a great place.

They were bought out by a bigger company in 1999, and I had to start commuting to a different place again. So, there was 12 more years of driving out and back. First to Rome again….then to Dalton, Lafayette and Calhoun in that order.

The last couple of years, the drives were late at night, ending at home after midnight most of the time. Mom and Dad were sick in those two years…dying. I remember the night before Daddy died I was at work in Calhoun and he called me. He was bad sick. I couldn’t get off early because the third shift supervisor wouldn’t come in to let me go. He was an ass. When I did get off, I drove the back road from Calhoun to LaFayette at 80 to 90 miles an hour. Dad was resting by then, and weak. He knew I was tired, so he told me to go home and rest. I stayed there until nearly 2 a.m., but then I relented and went home. My Dad was a tough old man. Many times in his life he had stared death down and come through it still breathing, all the way from World War II, through two heart attacks, heart bypass surgery, botched appendix surgery which left an infection which would have killed many people. So many times he had toughed it out. But I got a call about 7 a.m. the next morning from my Dad. He told me his chest was hurting and to come quickly. Then the phone fell out of his hand and hit the floor.

Of all the miles I had driven over the years, all the many thousands of mundane miles, the near miss days, the three coffee afternoons to stay awake…out of all of these miles, the twelve miles from my house to Lafayette were the longest I had ever driven. I went fast…but even then, I didn’t make it in time. My tough old man had left sometime while I was in transit. The top of his head was still warm when I touched him and said goodbye.

No matter how many times I go back over that drive…the hurried one the night before and the more hurried one the next morning, I can find no solace in anything I did. Guilt haunts and haunts, and keeps on haunting some more. People can tell you that you couldn’t have done anything more, but you’ll never believe them. I never do and never will.

Shoulda, coulda and woulda….you put them in the furnace just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego…and they just won’t burn….they’ll always come out right back at ya’.

I drove more miles after that. Seven more month’s worth of thirty miles over and thirty miles back, after midnight. My Mom faded away early in December that same year, but we were all at least there and surrounding her at the last. The anxiety, and the years of bad eating, and no exercise, and bad genetics caught up with me near Christmas of 2010 and my years of rolling up mileage came to a halt for a while. They cut me from Adam’s apple to belly button and put four new vessels in while a machine was pumping my blood. At one point in the first few days, I hurt so badly I thought about just letting go. But…my youngest son was in the room with me right then, and I didn’t want him to be a witness to it, so I decided I’d live.

I have made a come back over the past few years though. With Eli and Rue to care for, I moved back into the main stream of life a few steps at a time. Those babies and Paula brought me through the next year after my heart surgery, although my memory is sure spotty. They helped keep me busy and moving. It was a really good thing.

Now, for the last year or so, I’ve been riding up to Woodstation and picking up baby Evie and bringing her back down. I started to listen to NPR again, and many times playing tunes that Evie likes. And I think. I think a lot. Sort of like Forrest Gump did when he was running. But, unlike Forrest, I’ve started walking and doing a lot of thinking, instead of running. While I’m walking…and driving I notice the beauty around me.

The sunrises and sunsets, the animals, the kids and grandchildren, all sorts of buildings, and beaches, clouds and rocks….pretty much everything.

If you’ve seen my posts, you have seen the pictures! I take them to freeze that one moment in time for eternity. For others to see the things I consider beautiful and worthwhile. I write of things I hope will inspire, and I am trying oh so hard to steer clear of turmoil….although nobody’s perfect.

I’ve made a physical, and mostly emotional return to living.

I appreciate my life. Do you appreciate yours?

I know one day my walking….and driving days will be over, and while I have some regrets, the joys I have, and have had far outweigh the sorrows. The people I share my life with, who I call my family, give me purpose and love.

I am one of the lucky ones. Very lucky.

Call me blessed if you wish….I don’t care.

Nature Loves a Pattern

There is a pattern to all things. Nature loves a good workable pattern and will replicate it from gigantic down to microscopic. Take the “swirl” pattern. Look at the photos of galaxies taken by the Hubble telescope. Look at over head photos of hurricanes or cyclones, and know that this very same pattern goes down to tiny grains of sand. Even to microscopic creatures. Is this repeating pattern an accident? I think it’s no more an accident than the similar way a human brain and a computer function. Patterns.

We all humans are formed in the same pattern. Our DNA is 99.5% the same from person to person, no matter what you are. It’s that half a percent which accounts for making us all “individuals” Even so, the genetic differences we display do not account for the conflicts between us. That is all cultural, or learned behavior. It is not part of the pattern.

If we could only focus on our very close similarities, and learn to reject what our cultures teach us about our half a percent differences, we could stop wasting so much of our precious time here on Earth on war, hatred, and killing.

We are all part of the pattern of the Universe. We need to use our brains to reach out beyond what we know here. We might like what we find.