Our Inner Voice

There is that voice which is there all time in my head. He has been there ever since I can remember. He was the one who told me back in the fall of 1953 when I was almost 4 years old to ride my tricycle down the front steps on my house. A busted forehead and several stitches later the voice told me we would never, ever do that again.
He sings constantly to me, in any style. I can have a country song by Johnny Cash followed by Imagine Dragons singing “Demons” At times he scares me with my personal demons, but at other times he soothes me with sweet poetry. He will be with me until my last breath.
I have read a lot about this… “Inner voice” our internal narrator, our personal monologue which I think….at least from conversations which I have had with others… I think we all have going on constantly in our head. I know all about my guy. I know what to expect from him most of the time. He comes up with some weird things, some good things, and some thoughts which are verbalized which I would never consciously say to another human being. He says some very rude and vulgar things. He also comes up with some tender and moving soliloquies. I hear him just as if he were another person speaking to me. It is never like an invisible or hidden voice, but always speaking directly to me just as another person would. I don’t know how other people hear their inner selves, I really do not know if everyone even has an internal voice.
I’ve heard some people say that our internal voice comes from the way our parents and those around us speak to us as babies and early toddlers. I’m not so sure I accept that theory. I just cannot hear my parents or any other relatives I knew as a baby or child in my monologue. I also can’t accept that people like John Wayne Gacy , or Jeffrey Dahmer had normal inner voices which came from their early associations. I would have really, truly have hated to be inside their head, listening to what was being said. I think their voice must have been riddled with hallucinations, or nightmares.
On the opposite end of the spectrum I would have loved to have heard some of what Leonardo da Vinci, or Albert Einstein had to say to themselves…maybe. I can imagine their inner voices having a sort of discourse, bouncing ideas off of their own walls in order to make discoveries of new things. One cannot imagine what might be going on in the mind of the genius.
Jiminy Cricket would have called our inner voice our “conscience” In Zen, they would think of it as “Nen nen ju shin ki” which means something like “Thought following thought.” I personally think of it as my heart.
Whenever my inner voice speaks to me of any deep emotions it always comes from the heart. I have never had a headache from something bad happening, but always have the feeling come welling up from the center of my chest. My tears start in my heart.
When my voice tells me to be happy, I have never had my head spin. My joy starts in my heart, and radiates out into the rest of my body.
My inner voice comes from my heart and tells me the things no one else would or could tell me. I’d sure hate to lose him because he’s my oldest and closest companion.

BEING ORDINARY

It’s funny how when you are little, you never think that when you grow up you are going to be “ordinary”

Because I am a child of the 50’s and 60’s, most of the hero’s which I had to look up to, and want to grow up to be like were of an unattainable nature. I tied a towel around my neck when I was four and imagined I could fly like my hero “Superman” on TV. I ended up with a badly sprained ankle from jumping off the front porch.

Then there was the time, I got a Hoppalong Cassidy outfit, guns and all for Christmas. I ended up burning my thumb on the caps that went into the cap guns. Later on, one of them popped wrong, and flew up onto my eyebrow and burned it. Right up until today I still have a little scar on that eyebrow.

Once after watching Dragnet, I got on my tricycle and pretended I was chasing some bad guys and ended up riding down the front brick steps on the porch (dang that porch and me….why did my Mom let me play out there by myself?) and busted open my forehead. 10 or 12 stitches and I still have that scar too.

All those hero’s were not ordinary though.

Lately I wonder if I shouldn’t have tried to be like Flash Gordon. It might have been fun to be an astronaut. Of course I am deathly afraid of flying, but I think that being in a rocket and then being in outer space wouldn’t be as scary as going up in a jet.

I just get tired of being ordinary. I am so ordinary that people who are shorter still feel like they can look over me. When I am in line at Wally World the check out girl looks at me and then tells the person behind me “next!” I know how Rodney Dangerfield feels, when he says he don’t get “no respect” As a matter of fact, I tried to call him once and tell him that I really respected his act and his secretary told me he didn’t take calls from nobodies. What about that?

At this stage in life, it would take winning the BIG lottery to keep from being ordinary. I am certain that if I won 250 million dollars I would have lots of new friends, and plenty of relatives I never met. I think I would tell them to bug off. Maybe not though….maybe I could be just a teeny bit generous. That phrase just doesn’t fit does it? If you’re generous, it’s not teeny…not to the person you are giving to. That five bucks you gave the guy who was down on his luck one time a long time ago, may have entirely changed his life. It does happen…. occasionally.

How does a person change from being ordinary to being something special? Write an award wining novel? Save the life of some kid who fell down a well somewhere? Find a cure for cancer, or at least invent a safe cigarette. Hmm….I don’t know about that one.

I guess the world is really just filled with ordinary people though isn’t it? Even the ones who think they are extraordinary have it wrong sometimes. They put their underwear on the same way everyone else does, and it still gets in a wad sometimes like everyone else’s does.

Why, I bet even the President of the USA has to do ordinary things sometimes. Like go to the bathroom and stuff. I bet even the prettiest actress in Hollywood still has boogers from time to time. So in a way, even special people are ordinary aren’t they? And sometimes on a magical day every great now and then, ordinary people do extraordinary things. They don’t make a big fuss about it, they just do it. And it does make a difference in some person’s life. It just does.

Even when you’re ordinary, most of the time you still have people who love you. That makes you special. I’d rather be ordinary and have people who love me….then be Superman and be alone….

I’m not tying a towel around my neck and jumping off the porch again though. Sprained ankles are no fun.

Liberation of the Mind

When I was a young man my beliefs were different, mainly because my knowledge was self limited. Even a college if something an instructor said didn’t match what I had in my head as being “right” I just never let it sink in.

I was a know it all, who had ingrained dogma pumped into me. My values were shaped by the low number of years I’d lived. I was not “sticking up for what was right”. I was play acting life as I knew it.

I credit my wife for beginning my change. She taught me that women should be respected, and that their opinions counted. She quickly let me know that marriage is a shared endeavor, not a case of “this is the woman’s job, and this is the mans. By the time my first son arrived, we’d been through a good “practice run” with my daughter and were pretty much out of the bad fighting stage. Over the years I have taken on a big part of her love for animals, and have relied on her to tell me when I’m generally totally wrong about things.

I went on in my working career to be a supervisor in QA, which was pretty much populated by women….except of course by the supervisor. I always treated everyone of them with respect, and deferred to their knowledge in many cases. For over twenty years I had women working for me in various jobs and never, ever had a complaint of a harassing nature. There are a couple of FB friends on here who worked with me during that time, who can back me up on that point. I treated women thee same as I did the occasional man who worked for me. I very much regret not trying to go above and beyond to get a higher wage for them, but I just went with the flow of what the company paid. Wages weren’t bad, but the men were paid more per hour in the areas in which they worked. I always made sure that they each got good Christmas presents from me, and I always made them free copies of the song demos I recorded.

There was one lady who was an inspector for me, who really liked country music. I had given her a full CD of songs while we were working together. I got a call from a man about five years after that business had been sold out to a large carpet company. “I’m ——-‘s husband,” He said “She had a stroke two years ago and can’t speak well. She wore out the CD you gave her and desperately wants another copy. I tracked you down through another old worker from the plant”.

I made another copy, and took it too her house in Armuchee. I spoke with her as best I could for an hour while I was there, about good old times at the plant, how hard the work was. She was almost paralyzed totally, but she thanked me very much for the CD. “You were the best boss we ever had” she said.

I wept as I drove home. The truth is, she’d been one of my least favorite workers. Always griping, but getting her work done. But she had liked me more than I had liked her. I never knew. I had always treated her the same, so she never knew either.

I never had much use for gay people when I was young. I thought they were all just perverts. That’s because I had never known one. When Paula and I moved back home, I started buying plants for our yard from these two guys who owned a nursery. I thought they were just business partners, but over the months I found they were also partners. This was still back in the mid seventies, so their relationship was still very frowned upon as a general thing. They didn’t have any friends, so we started inviting them over to our house for meals and card games. They loved playing with our daughter and our dog. They were intelligent, well spoken and well educated. They were out to bother nobody else, they just wanted to live their lives. We had the over for quite a few years, and we always had good times. One year, I noticed their relationship starting to crumble. Pressure was being applied by one of the guys family to quit the relationship. He gave in to his family, and the other partner moved back to Chattanooga. The one who stayed behind is an “old bachelor”

I never considered gay people to be abnormal or abominations anymore after that. I purposely opened myself up to knowing more gay and lesbian people, and the more of them I knew, the more I understood that they were as they were because it’s the way they were made. Many people still won’t agree with me. I don’t really care though. I do not see how we cannot be a society which is compassionate enough to just “live and let live”

Now we come to today.

Over the past several years I have had a Facebook friend who is transgender. I know that for sure now, although I have long suspected it. Over the past several months I have witnessed the hell he is having to go through….yes he, now she has had to go through to do something that could not help but be done. It was not a choice, but an imperative that had to be done in order that this individual could be complete. In order that she could be who she was born to be. I read as relationships crumbled, as extreme loss was suffered in those relationships. I cried as I thought, how I had been born with a brain wired to match my body, but that’s not always the case. That’s not always the case.

There was a man on America’s Got Talent who sang today. H was born in a female body, but always identified as a boy. He was tormented, bullied, beaten and abused. But I watched as he sang beautifully today on that show as a fully transitioned man and I openly wept. Oh, the things he has had to go through that I never had to. The things that my gay friends have suffered from family and peers that I’ve never had to experience. The travails of being a woman in a man’s world I have gotten a pass on because of my luck in chromosome placement.

Some will read this long piece, and think I’m dead wrong and disagree. Some will read, and as usual just won’t comment. Some will give it a like, some will just scroll on by as soon as they realize the subject matter. I don’t care, this is my opinion and mine alone. This the chronicle of my needed change, which didn’t come as soon as it should have. My shame along with a tiny bit of retribution. Take it however you want, or not at all.

After that song today, which my seven month old granddaughter stood and watched in rapt attention without so much as a twitch, it had to be written. It just had to.

Music

I just realized today that without music, my life would have been very bleak. I came to that conclusion as I was taking baby Evie to her Mommy.

I have my own songs on my phone, and the little kids seem to like them. Eli always wants me to play them when we are out riding together. “I want to hear you sing Papa” he says. And he listens and is soothed, and often slips off to sleep.

I played some other music for Evie first, and she didn’t pay much attention. When I put one of my songs on and started singing, she perked up and started going “ahh..ahh…ahh..” in a cadence that could only have been singing. Six months old tomorrow, and singing. Recognizing my voice, and realizing that it is something more than just talking. Something magical. All my children and grandchildren are the same way. If this was a gift I had even a small part in giving them, then my life has been worthwhile.

My Dad played the radio and sang along for me when I was a baby. I could sing “Jambalaya” when I was three. “Your Cheating Heart” and “Crazy” I helped my Grandpa lead singing at Church when I was four. Music has often been my salve, my joy, my love and my rescue from insanity. My perfect retreat from the world, even as I was in the midst of chaos. It is a complex mathematical equation reduced to auditory simplicity that almost any human can understand and enjoy.

My voice is going now. Years of use, medical and health problems have reduced it to a very unreliable instrument. Yet I am not angry or bitter. I have music in my mind and in my psyche every waking moment, and besides I am one of the best whistlers you have ever heard.

I don’t know what I would have done without music. Without it’s ability to transcend time through past songs, I could never remember certain periods of my life. The music pricks my consciousness, and transports me back, and I remember. The pleasant, the painful, the loving and the tears. Every new song I hear over the years melds itself to the events and people who are present in that time. It’s a biographical, chronological and auditory history built into my brain.

I hope if the day comes when I cannot ask for things I might want, that whoever is taking care of my final times will crank up the oldies from the sixties on a music machine…or perhaps by then the little ones will be old enough to come and sing me a tune. I’d even take “The Hot Dog song” I actually probably be pleased to hear it.

Children

Children

Children are very wise and very compassionate. Two or three times over this past weekend I have run face to face into this compassion. On the fourth of July we were shooting some fireworks in Alabama and I was acting like the “popping” was scaring me. My little 3 year old grandson Eli saw me…and walked over and put his arms around me and said: “Don’t worry Papa…they won’t hurt you” The sincerity of his statement was enough to convince me I would definitely be O.K. It gave me confidence in life.

On Sunday we had my granddaughter Rue’s third birthday party, and we were near the end and Kirsten was giving out “treat” bags for the little kids. Again, I was just kidding around and pretending I was sad because I didn’t get one. Rue brought her goody bag over and said: “Poppy…you can have mine…” The sincerity of this was almost enough to bring a tear. Eli didn’t make it to the party because he was sick, so before we left Rue gave me Eli’s treat bag and said: “Maybe it will make Bubba feel better.” It gave me hope for the future.

Could we bottle this innocence which has at one time or another been directed at most of us? When do we grow out of this stage and become sarcastic and cynical? When do we begin to direct hatred and vitriol at other humans? At what point do we grow up into “adults?”

I have to have faith that these children will cure what is wrong with our world. I have watched these two grown from the inability to even feed themselves, to compassionate and beautiful children. Why can’t it continue throughout their lives? I hope that it will. In their cases I have faith that it will.

I wonder perhaps if all children got the touching and hugging and security they really needed if they would become criminals? If they had parents or grandparents who touched them in love continually and sincerely, would they need to call names or belittle others? I don’t know…it’s just a thought. I believe that those adults who are around children for the first few years of their lives have a profound influence on how the remainder of their lives will be lived. I don’t think social status means as much as love. I don’t believe religion means as much as touching….and the warmth of snuggling up to a Mother or a Father. I don’t believe a person’s place of birth means as much as gentle words, whispered while feeding an infant or a toddler.

I see on television and in other media, the cycles of violence which go on around the world. I wonder what circumstances the adults who are perpetrating the violence had to endure as children. I see there are entire countries which are simply gang controlled drug fiefdoms, and I wonder what circumstances the children who live there have to endure. Will they ever, have they ever…even had the chance to be a child, or did they have to grow up at the age of five into an adult trying to survive and stay alive?

I love children. I always have. They are blank canvasses upon which a work of beauty, or a work of hopelessness can be drawn. It all depends on those who mix the paint.

What I want to be

I went through my early childhood thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I alternately went through several “stages” of wanting to be different things.

At twelve, I wanted to be a baseball player. That was the year after Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris battled it out for the home run title in ’61, with Maris winning and setting a “non steroid” record of 61 home runs in one season. I ate, slept and dreamed of baseball. I was a pretty decent ballplayer. I had the best hitting average in my one year in little leagure and my three years in pony league (you can look it up in the “Facts” sports page if you wanna’) Then…I hurt my knee and couldn’t play baseball for several weeks. My doctor wanted me to walk as part of my recuperation, so my Dad bought me an old set of left handed golf clubs. I fell in love with golf.

That was in 1964, and for the next four years golf was my sport. i read Arnold Palmer’s book….and he was my hero. I imitated his super fast and over dramatic swing. I wanted to be a pro golfer! I did pretty good at golf, winning some medals in High School at some of the matches, although I was very inconsistent. (one week, a round of 73, the next week a round of 90) I almost won a 27 hole Jaycee tournament my senior year with a great score….but got beat by Andy Bean.

At the same time in school, I got really interested in writing and journalism. I loved to write. Poetry, stories, news articles…you name it. I decided it would be better for me if I became a journalist when I grew up, instead of a golfer or a baseball player. My parents didn’t really care what I did…as long as I went to college and got a “good education” as my Dad always said.

My childhood and growing up years were troubled. My Mom had mental health issues. Most of those years were far from what one would consider a “normal” Leave it to Beaver type family setting. (although I want to say that my folks became very different once they became Grandparents, and more deeply loving. and they had always cared for us as children as much as they could…some things that happened just couldn’t be helped back then)

Deep in my heart, very deeply within my soul I felt that I needed to proceed differently if and when I became a Father and a family man. I made a decision somewhere along the line that one of my main goals in life, if not my only main goal in life would be to have a family and try and give them love and as much security as possible.

I watched yesterday afternoon and last night as all the family was gathered together for the fourth of July, with the exception of two of my grandchildren, but gathered together nonetheless. I watched them interact with each other. We didn’t have any major fights or arguments. There wasn’t any shouting, except the little grandchildrent “whooping” it up. We had friends of the family over…boyfriends…good friends from church. We had a good time, as far as good times can be had.

I finally figured out last night, as I have always really already known from the time I walked out of my parents house at 17 years of age to go to college, and got married shortly before my 19th birthday…I figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up. Not a baseball player, or a golfer. Not a journalist or a novelist. Not a businessman..which I certainly am not, and never will be! Not really a super succesful textile and carpet supervisor and manager either. Just middlin…

I just wanted to be a Dad, and a Papa. I’m like one of the old Cajun guys on that show “Swamp People” who called his children “Dad” and his grandchildren “Pa” because that’s what he wanted to hear them say to him. That’s what I wanted to be, and to hear when I grew up. That, and a halfway decent husband.

Now, I’m not writing this to elicit any responses from anyone. That’s not the purpose. This is written strictly for my cathartic need. It is written singly for my purpose of getting it out of my brain and onto a “piece of paper” so that it can be said, and so that I know that’s what I wanted for myself. I don’t really know how it’s all turned out…how it will all really turn out in the long run. It seems ok to me, though. That’s what I wanted to grow up to be….

Nothing less, nothing more.

Independence Day- 2019

I’m going to try and go to a ballgame tomorrow night for the 4th of July….hopefully the predicted rain showers will hold off and we’ll see some professional fireworks displays. Maybe then when we get home, the residents in our neighborhood will be finished shooting off their thousands of dollars worth of fireworks, perhaps without blowing off a finger or a hand. You have to wonder just what Independence Day means to these people, and to all the various sectors of people in our country.

The first Independence Day celebration took place on July 8, 1776, four days after the signing of that declaration. The first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks. Gradually, cities and townships all across America started to join in.

Thomas Jefferson, who was gravely ill in 1826 said in a July 4th letter that year: “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. …For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.” To the rights of man, every man and woman.

What a noble statement, especially in comparison with some statements being made by our officials in the highest offices during this day and age.

Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870, and in 1938 Congress reaffirmed it as a paid holiday for federal employees.

I haven’t found anywhere, in any records of the celebration of Independence Day, where it was connected with military exercises. General Eisenhower, who became President Eisenhower once made reference to the overarching costs of military equipment. In his April 16, 1953 speech Ike said:

“The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”

I cannot find where Ike said he was absolutely against military parades, but he was certainly right about the costs of heavy military equipment versus the needs of all Americans.

I cannot abide the co-opting of our Independence Day this year to display our military might. I do not think it’s right to sell tickets to supporters of our current administration, and use that money for political campaigns. It is not right to take 2.5 million dollars from the budget of an already stressed National park system to use to set up what amounts to a political rally, and that’s not even counting what our actual military is also spending. This is not what Independence Day is all about.

Independence Day is about the boy….my grandson, who has the freedom to go watch a ballgame. It’s about you folks who will be grilling out hamburgers and hotdogs tomorrow, and yes….shooting off those dang loud fireworks in the evening. (Hey, I’ve done it myself in the past and had fun) It’s about you people who will be able to worship this week…anyway that you wish, it’s about the everyday man or woman who will go back to work Monday, after a few precious days off, who will appreciate those real patriots, who so long ago fought with wit, intelligence, and in battle to free us from the tyranny of a single man being able to tell us what we can and can’t do.

We don’t really want to go back to that, do we?

The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes

I am not sure about everything that is happening in this day and age of ever burgeoning progress….some days it actually scares me.

I will tell you that for certain.

At my age, a lot of the new technology is fascinating, but it’s like a double edged sword. I have lived through the birth of television….seeing Howdy Doody through a tiny black and white screen…all the way to being able to communicate with almost the entire world, and do almost anything comprehensible with my iPhone….but I have sacrificed my privacy, opened up the intimate details of my life and my private feelings in a way which never would have been possible in 1950. I have made available information now which anyone can access, which at many points in my life I would not have been willing to share.

I’m not always sure the trade off is worth it.

My spiritual self wants me to believe that the Universe is existential and beyond my comprehension, and created, but the scientist in me is in conflict with that theologian, and wants me to look at the physics of the way the Universe is run. Are they compatable, are they analagous?

The reader of the written word in me, the seeker of knowledge, wants to keep abreast of everything that’s going on in the world, but sometimes over analyzes or doesn’t understand the significance of what is being input and processed by my brain.

The realist in me knows that things can’t stay the same, but the dreamer wants things to stay like they are, or go back to the way they were!

The battle rages on within me every day, and some days spills out of my eyes…..

How to Make a Nail

I dreamed a lot last night. A lot of REM sleep, I suppose. I was in my Grandfather’s old “shop” down next to the old dirt road they all called “Snake Nation” road. I was marveling at all of the tools and blacksmiths pieces. The forge, the bellows, the hammers, the anvil, the tongs and all of the other gizmos that he and other smiths used to use to make things. He asked me if I could make a nail. I replied no….I didn’t know how to make a nail. Then I woke up.

Maybe he was going to teach me how to make a nail. I hadn’t thought about that old shop in years and years, and I don’t know what made me dream about it. As far as nails go though, I wouldn’t know a thing about making one. I’m not sure I could remember how to butcher a hog and preserve the meat. I’d probably have to google it, or watch a video on Youtube in order to figure it out.

Perhaps that dream was just a hint to me about all of things which have been lost over just the years I have walked on this earth. I know we have gained a lot of things in 69 plus years, but I also feel like in some respects we have lost more than we have gained. I know the people who have been lost, were treasures beyond measure, of whom I barely touched as far as their depth of knowledge and wisdom.

Damn, I regret it.

Darkness is it’s own punishment

I feel like everything in the Universe is connected. Inexplicably but undeniably connected.

I don’t know how. I’ll never know exactly how in this lifetime. But it’s the way I feel.

I feel so privileged to have been able to have a life within the confines of the Universe. To be able to think, to touch, to feel, and to remember. To be able to develop love, affection and empathy for other lives on the same journey, at the same time is awesome.

If it is a gift from a creator…one who set this all in motion, I am grateful. I feel personally as if life is that, but for those who have other theories…whatever they are or are not, life is still a rare and special thing. Obviously, quite a rare occurrence.

So, all of our memories and feelings make us who we are, but we are more than just that.

We are a heart and a spirit, bound together in a mysterious and intricate dance with all other things in existence…and isn’t it wonderful?

Remember this when others who do not realize the privilege of life as a positive thing, try to make your journey dark.

Don’t give in to them. Don’t sink to their level. Their darkness is it’s own punishment, whether they realize it or not.

It doesn’t have to be ours.