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.

I am who I am

What can one man do to make things better? I’ve been paying close attention to this social media tidal wave since it first hit. I was on “My Space” back when AOL was the big deal, and I jumped onboard Facebook in 2009. I’ve made some friends here in the virtual world…friends I have never physically met.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say? I have stumbled upon my virtual friends mainly from a commonality of shared social, cultural, and political values. Therefore, most of my virtual friends think pretty much like I do on those issues. While that’s not a bad thing altogether, I think it has led many of us away from dealing with each other in the real world.

I have differences of opinion with people I have known all my life, and I would never have known it if not for this constant spotlight we put ourselves into. We are trapped by the ease in which we can see and read everyone’s post. We are appalled at times at what we see on this virtual page, perhaps so much in disagreement with what is written, that we are angered to the point that we “unfriend” a long time acquaintance or a family member. That didn’t used to be a big thing back in the early days of this media, but now it’s akin to a slap in the face, and a request for a duel. It’s telling someone that you have known forever that you don’t want to see what they have to say, or what they do anymore.

It’s a weird situation.

I think in all this time since 2009, I cannot remember changing anybody’s mind about anything to do with the above mentioned attributes which are discussed so much on these pages. I believe we don’t change people’s minds here on this media, but instead simply galvanize them in the mindset in which they already dwell.

I am more certain to have changed a few opinions by talking with people in person, face to face…then by anything I have written here. If it’s political especially, I’m simply preaching to one set of people, and making the other set mad.

I see on my pages, where I pledge from time time to simply stick to what I think I do best…some photos, some simple stories…but then I get sucked back into the vortex by something outrageous which happens in our country or in our world. Lord help me, it’s hard not to. This medium is designed to keep you “activated” about issues, and it has become more and more filled with people, both fake and real, whose purpose is to keep us stirred up, and divided against each other.

I have taken this week to honestly and truly try to judge how this media takes people that I know are good people, and turns them…turns me…into agitators against each other. I’m sickened by what I’ve seen and read. I’m so repulsed by a lot of things which I have read and seen just on my Facebook friends pages, that it’s hard to express. I really hope everyone will take a look at what you post and share, and think about the fact that many, many people see what you share and use it to form an opinion about the type of person you are, regardless of if you really ARE that type of person. I could site specific examples, but Lordy…I’m not going there.

Remember that if you share something, lots of people see it. You may not get a “like” or a comment, but it gets seen a lot. I know some people don’t care, but I do. I want to get off of this train of constantly having to keep up with posts and comments, and stories….which, while many are important…few are things which I can personally change. I’m tired of feeling like I have to toe some kind of line with my friends, out of some kind of imaginary obligation to let them know I’m right there behind them, to back them up. It’s exhausting. It’s also unnecessary. None of y’all need my opinions to make your day. By now all of my Facebook friends know about what I’m for and what I’m against.

I’ve said all that simply to say this: We are all different, and have different opinions and philosophies. I hope we can try to spend less time arguing about them here, and instead spend more quality time with our loved ones, and our friends with who we physically deal. I’m looking forward to our 50th class reunion party in July, where I hope to be shaking hands, hugging, and speaking about old times with some people I love dearly. To any of those people, and really to most all of the people who I know, I offer my sincere wish that we can continue to discuss life, but do it in a friendly manner.

I remain as I am, and will be…yours truly.

Thought in Philosophy

I know that there is spiritual good in the Universe. I have felt the pull of this Universal light more and more lately. I will have to say that I don’t believe mankind is correct in most of their thinking about how things are really composed.

I believe the truth is as far outside our realm of understanding as our intellect is to an earthworm. Lord how vain we are to think our importance is so central to the story of the Universe itself. I’m not sure if we will ever eventually know the secrets of creation either.

Whether we do or not, I continue to believe our purpose is linked to relating with other humans in a positive manner, so that there continues to be a human species with which to build a future, so that we can reach out and seek the answers to our inquiries about life, and why it exists.

Free will.

Without it we would simply be puppets on a string. God gives us the privilege of choice, and our choices have effects on all others around us. We cannot even or ever know what the ramifications of our choices are. We our not guided by predestination. We cannot be. What God would be so cruel as to give us the false feeling of freedom, when our lives were already mapped out on some Cosmic scale. So, be very careful what choices you make because your choices are your life.

My Town

MY TOWN

It was a fine hot day today. One of the kind of days we would have snuck up to the old boat dock and went swimming in the Chattooga river. That water was nice and cold, even in July because it had spring water running in it not too far back up stream. A lot of us boys spent time there. From the time I could swim at ten years old, until I left to go to college I went there once or twice a year.

We practiced baseball twice a week and had two games a week to play. I hated Saturday practices after I started playing golf. By the time morning practice was over…You were hot and sweaty, thirsty and tired. We still hiked up to the Trion Golf course and played nine holes though. Our Daddy’s were members through the mill and we got to play for free. We’d come back home…most of the time one of our Dad’s would come and get us…as it was usually after four when we finished.

On the weekends, we went to Chamlees Skating rink. We hung around, listened to the music and tried to get the girls. Sometimes we did something right and ended up skating holding hands with one of the girls. I so remember the songs on the “box” “Runaway”, “Tellstar” ,”Teen Angel”, “Leader of the Pack”, “It’s my Party”‘ and on and on. Songs which, if I hear them now transport me directly back there in time and space. It was a wonderful place…a refuge for kids in a small town with nothing else to do.

I would go fishing in the mornings at the river and sometimes stayed all day. We dug our worms from under the wagon bridge, big old juicy green colored worms. We fished for catfish and carp….My Uncle called them “bugle mouth bass” We took our catch up to the black folks in town and sold them. I know several of them told us they loved the carp. They loved us boys, and we loved them. There was no animosity or fear and hatred…just kids selling their catch to somebody who wanted them.

All the yards in our little town were cut neatly, with neatly trimmed bushes and flowers, and well cared for vegetable gardens in the back yards. The men would be out in their yards in their sleeveless t-shirts cutting that grass every day. They used to run a contest called “The yard of the month” for the neatest, most well kept yard. It was an honor to win…not a joke. My Dad won it one time in the years they ran it. He was happy as a pig in slop, and hung that little metal sign right out in the front yard. “YARD OF THE MONTH” emblazoned in blue letters on a white enamel background.

Summer seemed to go on and on….catching fireflies, chasing low flying bats with sticks trying to knock them down. Neighbors actually sitting on each other’s porch and talking…getting to know each other…their troubles, their joys, their hope for the future.

Fall would eventually roll around, and I was excited about going back to school, seeing friends I’d missed all Summer. We’d take a special trip yo Rome so I could pick out new school supplies. One big multi subject notebook, pencils, one or two good pens, some three ring notebook paper. The tension was palpable the night before the first day of class. Who would be the teacher for my classes, who would be in the classes…especially which girls. How would life be for that school year? Truth is…I loved trekking up and down those old wooden halls. I loved the camaraderie of my close friendships. The hard day’s, the easy days…I loved them all.

I think about my friends and classmates who have passed on. I miss them, even though I seldom saw some of them. We all shared something very special during all our seasons here in Trion. Most of us started out together in first grade, and went all the way through graduation. You don’t see that much. We were brothers and sisters, best friends, worst enemies, boyfriends and girlfriends…And most of all kindred spirits of what it was like to grow up in a little cotton mill town in Southern America, USA.

More thoughts on Time

Time, time…time; time.

You cannot stop it. You cannot get it back. You better be careful with what you got….

But none of us are.

In the end, we run out of it. It’s more precious than gold, more difficult to explain than the theory of relativity.

I need to give it a lot more respect, although I try…I do.

I used to keep up with it on a timex that I had to wind. Then they put batteries into my watches. Then the devices I use to track my steps, my sleep, my exercise and every move I make, have a clock on them.

But I still wear my timex indiglo at night, because if I wake up I want to know the time.

Does anyone ever wish we could go back and uninvent some of the things we’ve added to our lives in the past fifty years?

I used to have a lot more time to do other things. Now it takes up a lot of my time fiddling with all the new gizmos that have been invented. Emails, and FB posts, and fake phone calls, and computer games…and God don’t even get started with Pinterest.

I sat down next to the footbridge yesterday and stared at a little black and white tile that came from an old torn down gymnasium, for five minutes. That wasn’t a waste of time in my opinion, as it brought back hundreds of memories.

I held my granddaughter for an hour and a half nap today, and slept about thirty minutes with her. That’s definitely not a waste of time! One day she’ll quit napping and that’ll be the last of the last…..

Well, time to wind my watch and sleep.