Can I change?

If you want to change, you must change yourself. No one can do it for you. I have often wondered if I had the resolve to change. I think I do. I think I have already changed in some ways.

I know it seems counter intuitive, but I feel that only with age have I found the wisdom to change…to know what part of me is lacking. I am by no means complete. There is so much which still needs work.

I appreciate life more, but I’m still grumpy some days. I cherish time greatly, yet I still waste it. I feel more tenderness and love for my family, but don’t verbalize it properly.

I help other people more, but my want exceeds my capability now, where perhaps in the past I could have done better. If only I had been wiser at a younger age. The things I might have done haunt me more than the things I did.

I look at the calendar, and hear the clock ticking and calculate the time since the day I was born. I think to myself “you need to hurry,” but for the life of me I cannot think of why. I wonder if I am the only one who feels this way, or is it all of us?

I know I should be satisfied with the day, and live in the present. For all I can puzzle out, it IS all we have. But does it have to be all we hope?

I can change.

We can change. I believe we all can change for the better, because we need to. Because we must in order to make a future where we can walk in the sunshine and breathe the air.

Echoes of the Past.

Everyone knows how hectic the last few weeks and months have been. There’s been a lot going on with in my personal life this past year, as some of you may know.

There’s certainly a lot going on in our country and our world, as all of us should know.

As I begin to take a look at all things, I am finding of course that I refer more to the past than the future. I guess it’s because unless I live to 112 years old (which is possible, but not likely) I am already well into the last 1/3 of my life. I look back more than I look forward.

The present seems to pass by way, way to quickly into that past. Days are blurred. I can’t remember what the date is a lot of times. I guess it really doesn’t matter though. I feel like life is marked by events, not by dates. When I remember things, both good and bad, I usually don’t remember them “by date” but more by what was happening.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what the date was when the U.S. cleared out of Viet Nam. But all the images are burned into my image.

I don’t remember what day it was when my oldest son nearly got his arm torn off in a machine at work, but I can damn well tell you I remember coming into the office where he was sitting, before the ambulance even got there, and seeing the bones sticking up out of his arm, and hollering and screaming at their “first responders” to cover it up with sterile gauze.

I don’t remember which Christmas it was that my daughter marched out of her bedroom, sat down at her brand new little table and chairs that Santa had brought her (without even noticing they were there!) and demanded in her stentorian voice: “I want my Breakfast!”

I can’t remember the date my youngest son fell off the horse he was riding out in Idaho at Paula’s cousin’s house, but I was so scared he was going to break his neck I couldn’t even yell.

I just don’t know that dates are all that important. Its life that happens and what happens that matters.

I am joyous and hopeful for my children and grandchildren and for my younger friends. I wish for them all the possibilities and opportunities which I have had and more. I wish for them more success than I have had in many areas. I wish them fewer struggles with tough problems.

When I was young, I thought for sure I would grow up and be a singer, or a writer. I even entertained the thought of teaching. But, it didn’t happen.

I am what I am. (With apologies to Popeye the Sailor man) Life turned me this way. I am giving up on being a movie star, pop singer, best selling author, and millionaire financier. I am going to just continue to be me, and hope that it’s enough.

I think maybe that if I can do that, then I will realize how lucky I have really been.

I Guess I will be thinking that over this year when I watch ol’ Jimmy Stewart running down the streets of Bedford Falls!!

Thoughts

Today’s Random Thoughts…..

Without a doubt, much of what we think we know is false. Even being as “smart” as we humans think we are we don’t even know everything about our own bodies. When we move out from there, into the world around us, and eventually into the Universe that surrounds us, our knowledge becomes exponentially less and less.

There are SO many theories on how the Universe started, where it’s headed and how it’s going to end. Some of them are theological in nature, and some are scientific. None of them are right, probably not even near right.

I shudder when I think about how little I know. I have to take most things I do every day on faith. I have faith when I plug in the coffee machine that it is going to make me a cup of coffee. If it didn’t, I don’t have the knowledge to tear it apart and remake it so that it would. If I put my key in the car, and turn the switch and it doesn’t start, most of the time I wouldn’t know what to do. When I had my heart attack, I couldn’t fix my arteries. Of course there are people who DO know how to fix these things, and it’s a good thing too. Otherwise, most of use would be in a heap of trouble.

But, even those people who are “technologically” smart, don’t have all the answers. Every few years or so, a new theory comes out about how the Universe began. Of course, all religions would acknowledge that it was ‘created’ if you will, by God. A thinking consciousness started the ball rolling and made use what we are today. Makes sense to us as humans, because WE are conscious thinking creatures. That’s what separates us from the rest of the creatures….at least so we “think” ( I am not so sure sometimes, when my little dog plays me for a sucker that she is not “thinking” about what she is doing) I guess there is all different levels of thinking, and I am SURE that we are not in ANY way close to the “thinking” if that is what it is, of a consciousness so powerful it could create the Universe.

Now secularists have a harder time trying to explain how something like the Universe started on it’s on. I read somewhere a few weeks back that they think all the matter that it took to get the Universe started, could be compressed down into a ball the size of a basketball, but that it would weigh some astronomically heavy weight. Some basketball! When this thing decided to explode and start the Universe, it continually spread from a central point and made us what we are today. The scientists can look at light coming in from outside our Galaxy that took billions of years to get here. That’s cool. When we look up in the sky at night, and see the stars, we are not really seeing what is happening at the moment we are looking, but what happened years and sometimes hundreds or thousands of years ago and is just now reaching us. For all we know, some of those stars could be, and probably are, gone. Mind boggling ain’t it?

Well, I just don’t believe that either group has ALL the right answers. I personally believe the Universe was created, and didn’t just happen, but I don’t even PRETEND to understand the type of intellect it would take to do it.

I know that we have had books and bibles, and documents from the beginning of the time that man learned how to write, with all the theories about how things happened. All of those came from the minds of man, and have been shaped by the mind of man down through the centuries. None of them are accurate. I don’t think that we even know how to define accurate.

Now, don’t go all funny on me, and think I am being sacrilegious. I’m not. I don’t go around telling people what to believe, OR that what they believe isn’t right. I don’t have the right to do that, and neither does anyone else. There are, however, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. who would disagree with me. All of those religions consider that they have been given the innate approval, by the being that created the Universe to tell everyone that there way of thinking is the only one that is correct. I happen to disagree with them. There may be some correctness in all of them. Being a Christian, I personally believe in that philosophy and some may think it is a conflict of teaching that I would state I don’t believe in telling OTHER people what to believe, but I don’t. Everyone has to decide for themselves, and I think on that particular point that the being that created us, God if you will, has been totally succinct. You choose for yourself whether to be good or bad, light or dark. This choice is yours no matter what your religion or philosophy.

I think we will all find out one day, of course. I think that God would be totally unfair to just leaving us hanging about the answer to things. Of course, I could be wrong about that too. We may go to Heaven, or we may lay unconscious of the passing of time until we come back around in the endless cycle of the Universes coming and going. We MAY know nothing, and that’s that. I highly doubt this to be the case, but….

Golfing in the Snow

GOLFING IN THE SNOW

I took up playing golf when I was fourteen years old. I had ruptured some ligaments in my knee while swinging too hard at one of Don Durham’s curve balls. I was looking for a fast ball, and had dug my spikes into the ground really deep at home plate. Don had a ferocious fast ball. However, I had always been able to make some contact with the bat against him, and usually ended up getting a hit. The slow curve ball totally fooled me, and as I over swung at it, my spikes hung up in the soft dirt, and I felt something pop in my knee. Pain shot through me from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes, and I grabbed my knee and fell to the ground writhing in agony. To beat it all, it was only strike one!

I ended up staying for three nights at the Trion Community Hospital, with my leg in traction. It wasn’t so bad, as the only thing I had to do was lay around and read comic books.

After about three weeks of recuperation, old Doc Clemens said I should start to get some exercise, and that walking would be good to build up my thigh muscles, and hopefully prevent that type of injury again. (It didn’t) My Dad had played golf when he was younger so he suggested we try that. He bought a used set of left-handed clubs for me, and we drove up to the Trion Golf Club.

It was early May, and as we rounded the big curve right before the entrance to the course I gazed out over the course with awe. The greens were a deep emerald color, with flag sticks that had bright red flags on top, flapping gently in the spring breeze. The Chattooga River flowed by the first hole, a deep sapphire color, not having been by the mill yet to pick up any contaminants.

The old log club house looked pristine, sitting dignified on a little rise overlooking the river. You could smell the sweet Bermuda grass as it was being cut, a pungent, lovely odor that lingered in the air like a kind of hypnotic perfume. Big tall pine trees whispered their spring symphony as the winds blew through their closely knit limbs. It was magnificent, and I fell in love with it at first glance. I still get the same feeling even now whenever I go to that familiar site. Goodbye Mickey, Roger, Yogi, and Whitey. Hello Arnold, Jack and Gary Player.

Some of the members of the club were teeing off when we pulled up, and I watched as they sailed those Titleist and Maxfli’s straight down the fairway toward the number one green. J.W. Greenwood was playing and saw us walking up, and referred back to the beginning of my little league career: “If you knock all your golf balls in the river HERE, you won’t be a hero.” He laughed. (referring to the time I had hit all the practice baseballs into the Chattooga river during my first little league practice)

“Looks pretty easy to me.” I exclaimed excitedly. I couldn’t wait to get up there and smack one of those little white balls straight down the fairway. It could not be any harder than hitting one of Camp’s fast balls.

We paid our green fees and my Dad teed up and went first. He took an easy swing, and sailed the ball about 200 yards down the middle. It was my turn now.

I teed up a new ball, took my stance, and did a little be-hind wiggle like I had seen the other guys do. I took a huge back swing, and uncoiled in an explosive and powerful movement which ended up with a beautiful follow through, looking down the fairway to see where my drive had gone.

“Nice swing,” coached my Dad. “You missed the ball, though.”

I looked down at the tee, and that little white, dimpled devil was still sitting there undisturbed.

I slowed my next swing down slightly, and this time made contact, and sent the ball bouncing down the fairway about fifty yards.

“Topped that one.” Advised my Dad.

I took an eight on that first hole. A quadruple bogey.

“This is not as easy as it looks.” I muttered

On hole number 2, which was a short par three, I took a seven iron out of the bag as my weapon of choice. As I stood over the ball, I looked out at the two creeks, and one swamp that the ball would have to cross before getting to the green, and bowed my head and prayed silently to God to please let me at least not lose all of my golf balls on this one hole. I exhaled, kept my eye on the ball, and took a smooth swing. The ball sailed over both creeks, and the swamp, bounced in front of the green once, and rolled gently onto the putting surface about six feet away from the hole.

“Nice shot, son.” I could barely hear my Dad say, over the pounding of my heart.

There was enough adrenaline flowing after that shot for me to have picked up an automobile.

Although I played another year of Pony league baseball, my High School athletic career goals had just changed. Goodbye Mick. Hello Arnie.

Anyone who has never played golf, can’t understand what motivates people to chase a little white ball around a large field, whacking it with a club. All it takes, however, to remain motivated is one great shot every once in a while. About the time you’ve topped three in a row, and are ready to throw your clubs in the creek, the good Lord, who I believe approves of the game, looks down and commands the next shot to be a humdinger.

“How ‘bout that shot I made on number four,” you reminisce as you write down your third bogey in a row on hole number eight. “Almost a hole in one!”

Steve Hammond and I were passing acquaintances before we both took up golfing. We went to the same church, and Steve’s brother Tommy was the same age as I was, and we were often in the same classes at school. Steve and I never got to be close friends until my freshman year in High School when I went out for the golf team.

J.W Greenwood was the golf coach, and when he saw me come walking up to the clubhouse on the day we were to play a round as a tryout he again ribbed me good naturedly:

“There comes ‘ol scatterarm.” He grinned. “This ain’t the baseball field Bowers,” he continued “It’s the golf course.”

“That’s O.K.,” I said “I’m here to try out for the golf team.”

I don’t think J.W. thought I was serious, but he got the idea when I teed off of number one, and put one straight down the middle.

“Dang boy, you must have been practicing.” Said J.

I had. Every day it didn’t rain since I had picked up my clubs. Many days me and my neighbor Mike Brown had taken our clubs and walked all the way from Eighth Street. I made the team, and so did Steve. We became practice partners, competitors, and teammates. We were golfing maniacs.

Every time we had a spare minute, it was up to the golf course. We practiced drives, putts, irons; you name it, and we did it. Swinging a golf club became such second nature we could do it in our sleep. We read Arnold Palmer’s book and studied Jack Nicklaus’ grip. Our record as a golf team reflected our practice. We won the region title in 1967 at Hogansville, which was Steve’s senior year. I had a chance to win as low medalist that year, but fate wouldn’t allow it.

I was in the lead by one stroke coming to the last hole. It was a dinky little par three, with no hazards whatsoever. Just a straight shot up a little hill. All I needed was bogey to win. I was confident, I was pumped up! I was stupid. I went with too strong an iron, and it sailed over the green by about twenty yards. I heard a loud ringing sound:

“Dong!!!”

I didn’t have a clue where my ball went, because I’d never seen it land.

As I approached the green, J.W. was standing there shaking his head slowly from side to side in disgust. My ball had landed smack dab in the middle of the big thirty gallon barrel that was being used for a trash can. The rules for the tournament were very strict. You had to hit it from where it lay, no matter what. If you couldn’t do so, it was a stroke penalty for a drop. Not being able to crawl into the trash can for my shot, I had to drop the ball, and take a stroke penalty.

I could still win, all I had to do was to get up and down in two strokes. However, the combination of the trash can shot, and the crowd which surrounded the green, had also shot my nerves. I chipped the ball up and over the front of the green, eventually struggling to a six, for a triple bogey and third place. J.W. Greenwood never let me live down that shot in the subsequent 45 years I knew him. Every once in a while, he would still poke me about it:

“You remember that shot you made at Hogansville that year that went into the trash can?” He would ask.

Yes I remember, but luckily time has made it much less painful than it was on that day.

J.W. passed away not long ago, and he is a man I surely miss. Always willing to help children and budding athletes. Always giving his time to other people. He was a great man.

Steve and I even liked to keep our swing in sync during the winter.

One gray, cloudy, bitterly cold December day, we put on three sweaters and a scarf, and went up to the golf course to play nine. The weather prediction was for snow, but we figured if it started in snowing too bad, we would just get in Steve’s car and come back home. As luck would have it, we were excellent, and I mean EXCELLENT that afternoon. We were both one under par when we reached number four, and the flakes started to descend.

“Let’s see if we can finish.” Steve suggested “We’re playing too darn good to quit.”

I agreed and we kept on going. By the time we got to number six, we were beginning to have our doubts. The snow was coming down faster and faster, and had already accumulated to about two inches on the flat fairways. As we teed off on number seven, the only way we knew where the ball was at, was because of the furrow it dug in the newly fallen snow.

“Uh…I believe we had better go.” I suggested

“No way!” Steve hollered back over the howling wind.

Despite the semi-blizzard, he was still one under par.

We played on to number eight, and when I chipped my ball up onto the green, it gathered snow as it rolled, and ended up as almost a baseball size snowball.

“How in the heck am I going to putt that?” I thought

Suddenly we heard the blast of a car horn from behind us, and turned to see Steve’s Dad sitting in his work truck, with an incredulous look on his face. We were supposed to have left if it started snowing, and Steve’s Dad had visions of us off in a ditch somewhere in the blinding snowstorm.

“Are you idiots’ crazy??” He yelled.

This display of emotion from a man who normally never, ever raised his voice was alarming to me. However, it did not seem to bother Steve.

“C’mon Dad,” Steve shot back. “We’ve only got one more hole to go, and I’m one under par!”

Amazingly enough, Mr. Hammond waited on us and followed us home in his truck after we finished the round. Steve lost his ball in the snow on number nine, and I made him take a stroke penalty! Thus his splendid one under par round in the blinding snow was snuffed out. It was the most fun I ever had playing a round of golf, before or since! Wish I coulda’ played yesterday….

Cold America

Cold America.  The United States of America.

Entitled States of America, if you’re in a certain percentage of people, or a certain color of people.

The America where ordinary people actually think they have the power of the “vote” to change things, but in actuality are led around like fuming and pawing bulls with steel rings in their noses, by men with a rope composed of disinformation, lies, half truths, innuendos, and confusion.

Perhaps no….not bulls after all.  Nothing that powerful.  Perhaps only like lambs.  Lambs to the slaughter.

Cold America.

It’s not what our founders intended. Of course the could never in their wildest dreams foresee what type of society we have become. We are like a people with a mouthful of sand, and we are grinding our teeth on it.

When, if ever will we realize that we must spit that sand out, rinse our mouths with fresh water, and start yelling loud enough to be heard. Yelling and screaming to high heaven that we want a nation and a world where love comes first, justice is served fairly, and the motto of all people is live and let live.

Soon I hope, before Cold America freezes beyond our capability to thaw it.

Frederick…

Frederick Douglas provided a great statement on individualism after the Civil War was over in explanation to his former master: “I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you,” wrote Douglass. “I am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them.” You see, said Douglass,

I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner.”

My own opinion is that In being “free thinkers” we must also be fiercely protective of the rights of the individual. While we must all depend upon each other to some extent, we have to be careful not to go too far. We give over too much now in the way of our individual thinking to the collective “aura” of those who control us through money.

MY Opinion.

Everytime I hear the national anthem, I still get chill bumbs and tears still fill my eyes. When I see the flag of my country flying high from a flagpole, I am so proud to be an American. I hate to see it abused, I have reported municipalities and schools in the past for not taking down the flag and taking care of it. I also, cried like a baby when Johnny Cash sang “Ragged Old Flag” before the not so “Super Bowl” a few days back.

Most of my ancestors have been in this country since the earliest of early times. I have half a dozen who fought in the Revolutionary War, and a dozen who fought in the Civil War. I have Native American ancestors by the dozens also. My roots go very deeply in this beloved soil we call America…and I call my home.

My Daddy fought in World War II and Korea…and went into the fog soup of radiation on a Navy ship right after they tested the Atomic bomb at Enewetak atoll in 1946. I’m certain part of his health problems later in life were due to this, but he never got a dime. He never asked.

I grew up with many of you who are my Facebook friends. We were close in Trion. Most of our experiences were practically the same. We had the same teachers, the same “mill town” environment, where most of our Daddy’s and Momma’s worked their rears off in the cotton mill to raise us kids. To give use things they never were able to have during their depression years of growing up.

I graduated with many of you, I have worked with some of you over the years. I went to college with some of you. Some of you I have never met, except through Facebook.

I have been a religious man over the years. I was baptized when I was 8 years old, in a Southern Baptist Church. I spent 52 years as a member, including 12 years as a deacon. I became disillusioned about 6 years ago and now keep my own peace…but I respect the beliefs of everyone, as long as their beliefs are peaceful.

I have hunted, with bow and with gun. I have fished the rivers and the lakes…the streams and the creeks of this wonderful country.

I don’t care how many guns you own, as long as you are careful with what you got…and you know you are responsible for how they are used.

I don’t personally believe in abortion. I would counsel any family member or friend who comes to me against it. However, I do not believe it is my responsibility to tell other people what they should or should not do. (see three paragraphs back)

I’m an opinionated man. Anybody who knows me well, knows that. My opinions are not shared by a lot of people. I know that. For many years, it has been much easier to keep my own counsel concerning things I believe and don’t believe, and how I believe. With the coming of “social media” it has become harder and harder to actual have opinions, and have them ON “social media” without it causing hatred, hard feelings, name calling, and other myriad of bad things. Things which cause emotional and physical reactions, which a man with my problems doesn’t need. It’s hard for me to not make comments and share my opinions. It’s almost impossible for me really. I think it goes back to the old “blank page” syndrome for me….in which if I open Facebook and start reading stuff I just have a compulsion to open my mouth and say something….or write something on my timeline….my own “blank page”

Some of it may be the chance to finally have somebody “like” what you write….but unfortunately also have many “hate” what you write…as it pertains to politics, and perhaps also as it pertains to religion. I’ve tried keeping it mostly to photograhy which I love..but which I’m not that great at, and also some “homey” writing…which I also like to do, but which is mediocre for the most part.

I have said all of this, and have come this far with this post just to say that in my condition as a human being it’s in my best interest to continue to reconsider how I communicate on social media. There are a lot of things I am not happy with that are going on, and one of them is me. My attitude, my feelings, my need to gain more empathy and understanding for others who don’t agree with my viewpoints.

There are many who are so unreachable in the security of their opinions and beliefs, as to never be able to be persuaded by either reason or love…by compromise or negotiation, by anger or pathos, that we humans, we Americans, have so much more in common than we have different. We cannot see past our bias and our ignorance to realize that once…we liked each other, perhaps once we even loved each other, but we let it slip away and we let it go just because we HAD to be the one who was right.

I don’t have to be right all the time. Neither do any of you people. If we just realize that, then perhaps we could see a little more peace in this lifetime.

Your First Memory

I wonder, what is the first memory that anybody can remember?  Its funny how that works isn’t it. But, that’s my question for tonight.  What’s your first memory?  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?  They are sort of like trying to look at something right after you have just woke up, and still have a ton of “sleep” in your eyes.  Or maybe it’s like trying to remember a dream that you had the night before, which you woke up during.  The dream is really clear when you first wake up, if you EVER want to remember it well 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 earliest 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 it, the more that seems to come back to mind.

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, no?  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…..well..you 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, as those of you who have read chapter one of my book will recall.  I can’t remember what happened to those 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!

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 wouldn’t 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, like the Japanese guy on “Hero’s” does when he stops time.  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.  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”  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, it 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.  It’s about the only part of us they can’t replace 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?

Well, there’s the challenge for those of you who care to take it up.  Can your 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.

Oh by the way.  Does anybody remember a Science Fiction thriller from the 50’s named “Donovan’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 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.  When it’s time for me to go, I want to go.   I wonder, what will my LAST thought 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!!

Old Bullet

Just got back in from taking the dogs out for the last time tonight. I like the little old weenie dogs, but sometimes my mind wanders back over the years to the first dog I ever owned…or who owned me…old Bullet:

One Saturday when I was about four years old, Daddy brought home a cardboard box with something in it, stirring around and scratching, and making whining noises. Ol’ Bullet had arrived!

Ol’ Bullet was my first dog, a half-German Shepherd, half Collie mixed breed which my Dad had gotten from the Kellets. The Kellets were farm owners who supplied us with “whole” milk and fresh eggs. “Whole” milk being defined as that milk coming directly from the cow’s teat into a shiny metal bucket, and from the bucket into a thoroughly washed and cleaned glass milk jug, without being pasteurized. Fresh eggs were those which had only that morning been up the hen’s rear end. At that time some people, including my folks, still thought these kinds of farm fresh goods were better for young growing bones. You could also work out a trade with the Kellets. (Try going to Walmart and asking to trade something for a jug of milk. I don’t think they would even know what to say.) Although I think there may have been some kind of law against selling it that way, the government didn’t have a big enough bureaucracy back then to check everything like that out. Back then, I don’t think the IRS even had a dozen people working for them. At least it didn’t seem like it.

I think all those fresh things are making a comeback nowadays, although there is some controversy about the milk….I have a cute little girl who brings me a dozen pretty brown eggs a week!

Me and Bullet took to each other like green to grass. Every time I hit the door, Bullet was faithfully waiting. He quickly learned the parameters of our yard, and it became his territory. He instinctively knew from our attitudes toward people who belonged at our house, and who didn’t. If you didn’t belong there, Bullet would give you one warning in the form of a low growl, and bared teeth. If you didn’t heed this warning, you had better be faster than a speeding bullet! Needless to say, we didn’t have to worry about anything being stolen from our yard or our house with Bullet around.

We had only had Bullet for a little over a year. I think it was one of the best years of my life. One day when I went outside to play with him, Bullet was acting strange. He could barely move, and he crawled over to where I sat on the back steps, and put his head on my leg. “C’mon Bullet, let’s go boy,” I encouraged.

But Bullet could barely raise his head. He wouldn’t eat or drink anything. Finally he got so sick he couldn’t move at all, and Daddy rushed him to the only veterinarian in the county. The Vet told Daddy somebody had fed Bullet rat poison in with some food he had eaten. He would have to be put to sleep to keep him from suffering. I can still remember how I felt when I got the news. I couldn’t breathe, nor could I utter a word. It was as if some giant, choking hand was stuck deep in my chest squeezing my heart like a vise. Finally when that little heart couldn’t take it anymore, it broke in half, and the tears started spilling out of my eyes, like water over Niagara Falls. Why did Ol’ Bullet have to die? Who would do such a thing?

We never found out who poisoned Ol’ Bullet. I am certain of one thing, however, and it is this: neither God nor Providence like people who would poison a little boy’s pet! He might forgive them, but somewhere down the road, somehow, they will have to pay for what they did. I still believe that.

Crow Dance

I have an affinity for finding things in nature which have been left behind. Many are times that I walked the trails behind my Grandparent’s home in Blue Ridge and found arrowheads and other implements. I still have on particular arrowhead which I still keep in my little keepsake chest which is a white quartz point with blue and red veins running through it. I find sticks of different shapes that look like things to me. I am always on the lookout for different plants and animals. I have always felt a special affinity for the birds. Anybody who has followed me on Facebook for any amount of time at all has seen bird photos.

Hawks seem to always be sitting on trees and power lines watching as I drive down the road, or walk by the rivers.

Lately I have been attracting Crows. Lots of them. They follow me around like they have something to tell me. Cawing and talking to me. I think they are telling me that I am doing the right thing. “Stay in shape” “Keep on keeping on” “Live long and prosper” Oh wait…that’s Spock, never mind.

A lot of people don’t consider crows good luck. They actually represent death in some cultures, I guess probably because of their dietary habits. (They eat dead stuff…for Gosh sakes) The Hindus believe crows are go betweens of the worlds of the living and the dead, carrying messages.

The Scottish have a saying about “going away up the Crow road” denoting death.

But…the Native American blood in me tells me differently:

contrary to popular belief, crows do not symbolize death in Native American culture. Instead, they are seen as omens of good luck, with their intelligence being their defining characteristic. This is why they are often portrayed as tricksters in Native American folklore. Omens of good luck.

I choose to believe in the good luck. I choose to believe in being a trickster.

I’ll keep the crows as walking companions as long as they want to come along…..