Today, I Don’t Have It…

Bait & SwitchI have been trying to find inspiration to write something for several hours now.  There are so many things that trouble and infuriate me, but emotion is not a reason to write, and I will not play on my audience’s emotions to elicit a response.  That is the path of the tyrant and a cheap hack!

But today, I just don’t have it mentally.  The last couple of days with the VA, the continued oppression from the Biden administration, the multiple crises along the US/Mexico border, Afghanistan, volcanoes, … like the DJ said, “The hits just keep on coming!”  My mind feels like the fabric of the world is being shredded, and there is nothing behind the curtain.

My cherub-like demeanor took too much of a hit this week.  To discover that the VA has acceptable limits a provider can hurt/maim/injure/kill patients is beyond the scope of sanity to me.  Now, I admit I am not the smartest person in the room.  If you read the article linked and possess better capabilities and come to a different conclusion, please feel free to explain what is being discussed about dead veterans, a doctor, and how the VA-OIG can allow patients to expire without raising concerns.Curious Owl, HD Birds, 4k Wallpapers, Images, Backgrounds ...

On my desk are five owl statues carved in polished stone.  They surround a stone frog, also in polished stone.  Some days, I am the frog at the mercy of the predators.  Some days, I am the predator looking for frog dinner.  The first owl reminds me of a scrap of verse from my childhood.

There was a wise old bird; the more he saw, the less he spoke, the less he spoke, the more heard, now wasn’t that a wise old bird?”

I first heard this in a movie with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn, “Rooster Cogburn.”  Never knew if I learned the scrap of verse right or not.  Never cared.  See, Kathrine Hepburn was a strong woman; she played an incredibly strong character wholly equal to John Wayne, and that was important.  In the owl relationships, the female and male are equal partners, and this is important to me.  I encourage people to be the main character in their life stories, be strong, independent, courageous, and never back down from anything!

The second owl is for Winnie-the-Pooh and Owl.  Eyeore and Owl are my favorite characters from Winnie-the-Pooh stories.  The calm demeanor of Owl always impressed me as a character trait to embody.

The third owl is probably the most important and comes from a lesson.  I forget who taught the lesson.  The lesson was “Who?”  I was ranting about somebody, and something, and somewhere, and was belligerent.  The person I was bellowing at kept asking, “Who?”  That’s all they said, and eventually, it dawned on me that the problem wasn’t other people, the place, the situation, the problem was me, and the only thing I could change was me.  I keep forgetting and re-learning this lesson to my chagrin and dismay.  The teacher closed that lesson with a scrap of Latin, “Numquam nothi sudet te.”  I learned the second lesson a lot better than the first.

cropped-laughing-owlThe fourth owl reminds me to laugh.  Have you ever heard owls laugh?  There is a lesson in that for us mortals.  For ages of human history, owls have been revered as wise, yet they possess the ability to laugh.  Maybe, just maybe, we should practice more lessons from the owl and laugh, especially at ourselves.

The fifth owl reminds me of how I feel every time I see an owl, full of wonder and amazement.  I see those eyes and think of the wonderful and amazing things I could see with those eyes.  I think of how the owl can turn their heads and wish my neck could turn like that.  How the owl can minutely control the feathers on the leading edge of their wings to control airflow for silent flight, and I think how cool would that be as a superpower!  As a supreme klutz, the majesty and poetry of motion found in an owl are wonderful to me, and I like being reminded of the wonder in the world.Hear the Many Different Hoots of the Barred Owl | Audubon

One of my favorite memories of my grandmother was playing with her fiber-optic ornament.  This was a heavy base with an electric cord and light shown through hundreds, if not thousands of fiber-optic strands.  The decoration would change colors, and you could group different strands to shine them into different areas.  On my desk is a fiber-optic Christmas tree on a USB plug.

Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiacus image - Free stock photo ...My apologies, dear reader, I do not mean to sound maudlin or pass along depression.  I just don’t have it in me to engage in deeper subjects today, and I pray for your forgiveness.  Please, take the time to hug your loved ones.  Forgive your family and friends, and pray for America to survive the current political mess we find ourselves suffering.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Questions – Mostly Why!

QuestionFrom their Dark Horse Album, Nickelback sings, “If Today Was Your Last Day.”  The central theme discusses a principle I am struggling with, centered around a question, “Why do we wait?”  The song’s lyrics include the following:

“My best friend gave me the best advice
He said, “Each day’s a gift and not a given right.
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by.
That first step you take is the longest stride.”

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say “goodbye” to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you had?
If today was your last day.”

From the Live Like You Were Dying album, Tim McGraw, sings a similarly themed song of the same name, with the following lyrics:Rescued Butterfly 2

Said I was in my early 40’s
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came, that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days lookin’ at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time
Asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news
Man what ya do
And he says

I went sky divin’
I went Rocky Mountain climbin’
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

The follow-up question continues, when will you finally start living big?

Why do we wait?

LaughterWhy do humans wait to begin living until they get a death sentence?  Look, I have lived my life as hard and as full as possible, not because I am dying, but to eventually be an interesting old person.  I remember sentiments from reading books as a kid, things like, “it’s not how wide or how deep you live that matters; it’s proving you lived at all.”  Or, “if you go through life without collecting scars and enemies, you’re a coward or worse.”  I do not understand about waiting for some earth-shaking revelation before you take time to laugh, be adventurous, explore, or forgive.

I talked to a person back in Ohio; his Father-In-Law dropped dead suddenly.  There were no health indications, no warning, no previous symptoms, just got up one morning, took a step, and fell down dead!  The man I was speaking to claimed this shook his wife, marriage, and family, but it would not change him.  He was rushing to a meeting for a job he hated, to go home to a family in turmoil, and he had no clue what to do.  Just a casual conversation, the man was not looking for answers; I would not offer advice.  I wished him well!Paradox

He had a long list of things to do in his “Some-Day” Bucket List.  When is someday?  I cannot find this as a day of the week on a single calendar.  Yet, how many times a day is a person dreaming of “someday” when they plan to start living?  Please do not get me wrong; I am not claiming we all need to be “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow we die” people.  I am arguing we might want to stop waiting for the bus to someday, to take us to a place called somewhere, so we can become people we refused to be all our lives.

Why finally start living big?

Ernest Lawrence Thayer wrote a poem I favored as a child called “Casey at the Bat.”  Not to ruin the poem, but the last stanza is essential.

“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land, the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out” [emphasis mine].

The land of somewhere, where people live like they never lived in real life, is that mythical place of rainbows, lollipops, roses, and summer bands. Casey at the Bat | Tolley's Topics

James Wilson wrote a sequel to “Casey at the Bat” titled “Casey’s Revenge.”  Again the final stanza holds a clear message for us.

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land, dark clouds may hide the sun.
And somewhere bands no longer play, children have no fun;
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall;
But Mudville hearts are happy now — for Casey hit the ball!”

The final Casey poem is called “Casey 20-Years Later,” authored by Clarence P. McDonald.  The Mudville Nine were hurt; they needed a player to finish the game.  The coach appealed to the crowd for a player to come and play.  An older man from the crowd, unknown and unnamed, claims he knows baseball and can help finish the game.  The game continues, and the stranger comes to bat; he hits the game-winning hit and stands there and cried.  For the stranger was Mighty Casey, the man chided and derided by the crowd so many years before.

Mighty Casey at Bat - Welcome to Wayne Hunt Huebner 4 ArtI have always wondered what happened between the first, the second, and the third poems about Mighty Casey.  The humility it took to play again.  The kindness he showed to the audience and other players, the respect he showed to the umpire.  So many lessons, but the number one among them all, why are we not living larger, deeper, fuller?  Why do we worship sports heroes instead of being sports heroes?  Why do we settle for the daily grind when even in the daily tasks, there are things to discover, new things to learn, new experiences, and new methods of doing things that will surprise us if we but take a risk.

Growing up in Maine, I learned something the day I had 20 loads of laundry to complete, no dryer, and the temperature was dropping like a rocket sled on rails.  Did you know you can hang clothes on a line outside, in the freezing cold, and they will dry?  My fingers just about froze stiff, the laundry was freezing faster than I could hang it, and I had to iron a bunch of wrinkles out.  But, what a cool (pun intended) lesson.  The clothes came in dry, smelled of the Maine woods, wood smoke, and had a crisp smell that I cannot forget.Lemmings 1

On my 30th birthday, I was in Maine again; my wife bought a birthday dinner at Red Robin.  I had some great food that day, but the memory that stays in my head, clear as a new spring morning, was the table cube.  On this cube was a picture of a man, standing outside a plane hangar, looking for all the world as confident as he can.  The heading, “All I want to be when I grow up is an interesting old person.”  At this moment, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew old, an interesting old person.

Plant JokePeople had been asking me what I wanted to do or be when I grew up for years and years.  I never had a clue.  I had already been a fireman, a diesel mechanic, a truck driver, a shepherd, a dairy farmhand, a blueberry harvester, a paper delivery boy, been through the US Army and US Navy, as well as a trip through the US Army National Guard.  I had worked in call centers, been a general contractor, a business consultant, worked in multiple warehouses in different roles, and so much more.  When I turned 30, my wife and I had already racked up 20+ moves, traveled uncountable miles across the lower-48 states, and had some crazy life experiences.  The US Military had already sent me ¾’s of the way around the world.

But, I finally found what I wanted to be, an interesting older person.  Thus, when I hear these songs by Nickelback and Tim McGraw, I cannot understand why wait?  Why live large and adventurous only after getting a life sentence?  Why withhold forgiveness and forget the past only after it becomes apparent you are going to die?  Did you forget that everyone has a death certificate waiting?  Did you get stuck in a rut, put on blinders, and forget that life is more than just breathing in and out and turning food into mulch?Mediocre Joke

A Final Thought

Would you volunteer?  The poem “Casey 20-years later” is a perfect ending for this topic.  Especially with the question, would you volunteer?  Would you volunteer to pull some weeds for a neighbor?  Would you volunteer to shovel a little more snow for another person?  Would you cross a lawn and pick up a trashcan the wind had knocked around?  Would you volunteer to buy some groceries when the teller asks for more money, and it is clear that the person does not have enough?  Would you buy gas for a stranger?

Knowledge Check!The poems of Casey relate a tale of humanity and the songs of Nickelback and Tim McGraw relate that it is never too late to help someone unless you’re dead!  Why wait?  Why hold off on living larger, deeper, fuller lives?  Why not volunteer?  Why do we wait to act like we care until a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas but spend the rest of the year not living at all?  These are just some random questions, two really good songs, three incredible poems, and my brain trying to make sense.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.