Hell of a Guy
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Monday, April 03, 2006

Making A Difference

04/03/2006

Have you read Five People You Meet in Heaven

by Mitch Albom?  If not, you need to read it.  This little book’s message exercises the tears ducts very well.  It may take you a couple of hours, but it can be read in one sitting.  It is about a man and a journey he takes moments after his own untimely demise and the people he meets along the way.

Most people I know want to make a significant difference while taking up space on this planet, a real difference in someone’s life – a child, a relative, a student, a friend or co-worker. 

Five People You Meet in Heaven

is a story about how it can happen, even when we really don’t know it occurred, an unconscious act.  There are instances, no doubt, where we can make a difference without ever knowing about it.  If you think about it, it could go either way – good or bad.

Case in point…

Debbie passed away just a couple of weeks ago.  I didn’t know her, at least not very well. I don’t even know how to spell her last name.  She was more of the acquaintance variety, someone I met, briefly interacted with, and waved goodbye out of my life.  We did a workshop together in Dallas, actually two of them.  Debbie was odd…she had an odd look about her; she constantly made an odd movement with her lips, almost as if she was chewing on them.  Her hair was extremely thin and ragged looking, and caused her round face to look larger than it was.  Her breath, if you got close to her face, had a peculiar smell to it…it was bad.  She was reticent to a fault, and when she did speak she didn’t have a lot to say.  Debbie was a diabetic and this is what ultimately took her life.  I believe she may have been about forty, certainly not much older.

I didn’t take the time to get to know her.  I have no idea if she worked or what she may have done to earn a living.  I don’t know if she had family, or friends, or a spiritual side.  Debbie was complicated.  She wasn’t cool.  She wasn’t hip.  She wasn’t a fit for me and my world.  I had not seen nor had I spoken to her since December 5, 2004.  I know the last interaction we had was a perfunctory hug that evening. The workshop was over and we parted ways.  The opportunity for me to make a difference in her life was thrown away, and I was the one who threw it.  I lost out on what could have been an endearing moment for me.  I made a conscious decision and now I regret it.

Debbie was real.  She had wants and dreams, up and downs.  She was an artist.  On the day I heard of her untimely passing, I was hit with a wave of emotion.  And, it caused me to pause.  I can see her now as clearly as I can see this keyboard.  Perhaps Debbie will be one of the “five” I get to meet?  I may not have made a difference in her life, but she has certainly made one in mine.

I am sifting through my memory thinking of all those people with whom I have thrown away my chance to really know.  There is still time to make my difference…but as a very sagacious man I know has told me a few times, “Talk does not cook rice!”

Ponder that… 

 
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

God, Me and the Quantum World

03/29/2006

I cannot pinpoint exactly when I began to give thought to my spirituality and question it, but I can point a finger in the direction of who got me started on the journey.  Sunday school, Andrew Chapel Methodist Church in Baltimore is where the firestorm within began.  My Sunday school teacher was discussing Moses’ journey out of Egypt…where Moses leads the newly freed Jews back to their ancestral home in Israel.  Mr. Gross, a very nice man and a long-time member of the church, was my Intermediate Sunday school class teacher.  He, too, questioned the biblical tale of Moses’ trek (there is no record of the Jews being held in against their will in Egypt other than this one) and the fantastic miracles Moses was to have preformed, one such being the extraordinary “Parting of the Waters” as fleeing Jews were pursued by Pharaoh’s army. 

Mr. “G” explained it to us this way.  He said because Moses had most likely explored this swampy, quicksand riddled area as he was growing up in a privileged life as the adopted son of the pharaoh.  He knew the paths and trails of the low lands near the Nile one needed to take to reach solid ground, without becoming trapped in the quicksand, eaten by alligators, or just plain lost in the tall grasses.  Bottom line, the story of the Jews making their way home appears to have had the facts embellished as it was handed down orally from one generation to another, and prior to it being codified several hundreds of years after the event.  Well, there you have it.  I like things neat and orderly.  It is probably why I am so skeptical of anything with even the hint of the miraculous.  Did Moses get divine guidance, perhaps, but the story told this way seemed more reasonable to me.  I can easily picture the chain-smoking Fred Gross, a tall, rail-thin man, with graying, blond hair and a long thin face.  He had a slight lisp and a terrific smile that accentuated the laugh lines at the corner of his eyes.  His smile lit up as he told the class the story and his take on it, and it was afterward that I began to question the biblical version of events – Adam and Eve; The story of Lot and the Pillar of Salt; Methuselah living to be a nine hundred sixty nine years old; and Abraham becoming a father at age ninety.  I kept my skepticism and opinion to myself until today.

If I were to guess, I was somewhere between thirteen and fourteen years old at the time.  That is when I began my life-long search for God, began reading articles and books on biblical archeology (which is fascinating), and began to explore agnosticism.  For a very long time I was very vague with my beliefs.  I would choose not to believe on one day and saying “what if” the next.  I have read most of the Bible – the King James Version.  I would get bogged down in Numbers – a book probably begun as a genealogy or a census of some kind.  I have dabbled in reading the Nag Hammadi library – talk about repetitive writing.  I have devoured many books on the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I loved the DaVinci Code.  I got lost in Holy Blood, Holy Grail.  I have twice read a booklet entitled “Where We Got Our Bible,” although I knew a long time ago the Bible is an assemblage of books codified over a long period of time, and long after the supposed events took place.  Adam and Eve always blew my mind especially when Cain goes to Nod, becomes a farmer and takes a “wife.”  Where in the heck did she come from?  It was very hard for me to accept a book as irrefutable fact that is made up of stories passed down generation to generation in a verbal tradition, then put to paper (parchment, copper scrolls, animal skins) hundreds, perhaps thousands of years after an event was to have occurred. Then these stories were translated from one language to another language by men often interpreting what they read with their own spin, and others then seeing these events as irrefutable truth.  These books, known as “Apocrypha,” where selected as part of the Bible by men looking for a commonality of thought, aka theirs.  These stories were passed down to an illiterate populace for the most part by their elders and leaders, people who believed what was told to them, and because to doubt it may have been deleterious to their health.  Hell, people threw stones at people for violations of The Law as laid down in Leviticus, like cutting the hair of the temples – the guys not the women.  Women didn’t have much say in anything those days.  These early Jews were bad to the bone when it came to The Law.

Not long ago I read a book called A Short History of Just About Everything by Bill Bryson, a fascinating book about the science of how this planet came to be.  He delves in quantum physics and it is really fascinating.  Particle science, quantum mechanics, the behavior of molecules, matter and anti-matter, parallel universes, time travel…whoa, baby!  This is stuff I can buy into.  You have to see the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know.”

A little over a year ago I completed the Millennium3 Education workshops.  During the four months I did this, I came to realize there is connectivity between me and all things in and out of this world.  All the matter that exists today…and this is deep…every particle - electrons, protons and neutrons, has always been and will always be.  Every miniscule particle in your body has always been and will always be, and that may be the promised “life after death.”  I am a part of the whole of the universe.  I am not separate from any of it, and it is God.  Get it?  We are all God.  The earth, the animals, the people, the valleys and mountains, the water, the sky, the moon, the sun, planets, stars, space and time are all God.  WE are here as a result of a vast plan formulated by what, I have not a clue.  And, is does not matter, for we are here.

I don’t think there are words in the language to adequately allow me to describe how free I am these days.  I have finally found God.  I am at peace.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring - A Time of Renewal

03/22/2006

This is without a doubt my most favorite time of the year and I really look forward to it.  Beginning about mid-February, I do a countdown to the equinox.  Spring, bring it on! 

Spring has a pleasant smell of newness to me.  There is redolence in the air, and very soon the spring flowers and honeysuckle plants will add mellifluous scents to it, causing all of us to want to be outside in the verdant freshness of the season.  Notice as the new leaves on the trees burst forth how green they are?  Make note of the vibrant colors of the spring flowers as the buds open to commune with the sun.  Listen to the sounds of the season – birds singing as they seek a mate, brooks babbling as the water trickles down stream and the gentle breeze as it caresses the newly adorned trees.  Just the thought of it makes me want to grab a blanket and go out and lie in the spawning grasses and breathe it all in.
   
Unfortunately, it will have to wait a few more days.  It was 27 degrees here at the Millennium Farm this Wednesday morning.  The weather dude forecasted snow yesterday, not much but enough to dampen my dream a bit.  West of us got more accumulation than were supposed to get, but it is March and any snow is destined to melt away almost as quickly as it hits the ground.  March snows can be “big ones”, if you get my drift (pun intended).  I have seen some significant March snows in my lifetime that been pretty deep and sloppy.  These are wet, juicy snows, but then they do melt quickly and life goes on.  Within weeks, perhaps days, spring weather will be here to stay and I am excited.

This is truly a “Time of Renewal.”  One in which we should all be looking inward and outward, seeking ways to renew our spirit, our mind, our body and our lives.  A time to rededicate and commit ourselves to be the best we can be, to do our best in any and every endeavor, to seek out the best in everything.  It is a time to love.

The photograph below, so artfully taken by me last year just about the time we purchased the Farm, is looking up the half-mile long access road to our house.  The flowering trees I know only as “Red Bud” and have no idea where I heard the name for them or if it is correct.  I know I am thrilled to have them on the property, though the flowers do not last very long – perhaps a week or two.  This is the natural progression of the season, I suppose, things are renewed and quickly mature.  All in all, spring is way too short for me.  So I will take time to smell the flowers, and gaze at the greenery and trees and birds and the young animals, and maybe go roll in the grass, and definitely give thanks that I got to see this one more time.  Suddenly, I find myself getting emotional thinking of how happy I am today just thinking about springtime.  Life is too short not to enjoy it every minute of every day and to share the joy with someone you love. 



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Grasp this today: If the mountain was level you couldn’t climb it.

 
Friday, March 17, 2006

Whatever Happened to Patsy Richardson

03/17/2006

This site allows me a unique opportunity to live in the “now” yet still be able to look back and examine the path I traveled to get me where I am today.  I have thought about this off and on for a couple of days.  “This” being a means to really explore my past, write it down for the world to see.  Maybe, just maybe, these words will get someone else to thinking about the path they took?  I do not dwell on the past, and I certainly don’t regret it.  There may be some things I would change, if possible, more that I would want to clean up, for sure, but none that I would not go back in time and relive again, just for the chance to do it.  So, here goes the first one…

One might suppose I would begin my nostalgic adventure from as far back as I can remember.  Early memories of my life are but a few, that is, those that stand out as particularly interesting or cogent.  My sister claims to remember occurrences from the age of one.  I don’t have that many that I can call up, but then, I haven’t tried.  When I pondered what course to take (and I cannot explain what triggered this one) my first thought was of Patsy Richardson.  Patsy, a wide-eyed, auburn-haired knockout in an eight-year old’s body.  Centerfold material, for sure, had I had any idea at age eight what a centerfold was?  My early years can wait a while longer to be recalled, reviewed and examined, if I can draw on the memory of them.  This segment is devoted to this gorgeous specimen of feminine pulchritude. 

My vision of Patsy, at least my recollection of it some fifty-four years after first laying my eyes upon her, is of a face full of very light freckles spread over milk-white skin, green eyes that sparkled as she smiled exposing perfect, bright-white teeth and shoulder-length hair that flipped up as it lay on her shoulders.  She was a third-grade goddess in miniature.  I can envision her still, dressed in a white blouse with lace around the collar, a red and green plaid skirt that showed off a lot of her creamy white legs, white socks that barely covered her ankles and those shiny black shoes that had a narrow strap and buckled on the side.  This was my dream girl.  Eight years old and in love for the first time with a female other than my mother.

The only problem with this story is the one-sidedness of the relationship.  Mine was an unrequited love.  Patsy Richardson had no interest in acknowledging my existence, let alone my undying, unwavering feelings for her.  This was the purest kind of love…it was real and from the depths of my heart.  If you know me, really know me, this will come as no great surprise to you. Patsy spurned my advances, and I didn’t really care, for in my head – and I wrote the lines – she was head-over-heels in love with me and I was her four-foot man.  This undying love lasted about four or five months.  Patsy was in all of my classes from my first day of kindergarten at Gardenville Elementary School in Baltimore, beginning about February 1, 1949 and through the sixth grade.  I am not sure if she went on the Hamilton Junior High in February 1955 or if she moved away from the area.  Nonetheless, she did move out of my life, and now I am left with this memory and thoughts of what may have happened in her life and where she may be now?  I know she probably will never see this or know that I remember her so clearly – wouldn’t it be funny if she had no freckles and black hair – but I wish I could see her again and share a moment with her, perhaps even a hug.  I suppose everyone has a “Patsy” or two in their past.  I am glad I got to share mine with you.

So here I am once again writing the lines, telling my story at my pace, examining memories and times in my life that have not crossed my conscious mind in decades.  With this website I get to create and recreate.  I have kept a journal since 1992 which is most personal and not sharable until I am gone.  Some of my thoughts are not wholesome or acceptable, nothing nefarious, but still, things that for now are for my eyes only.  At first I wrote in it every day.  Now I seem to journal every couple of weeks or so, or whenever I remember I have not made an entry in a while, that is when I add to the near 300 page document.  My goal here is to update this at least once each week, perhaps more often than that.  I sincerely hope you enjoy this and that it sparks something in you to reach back, reflect and bury the past.  Now is now.  Enjoy it. 

PS:  March 5th Nancy and I stopped at a restaurant for a late lunch on the way back from a weekend with grandchildren.  I saw a painting, a watercolor I think, and on it written bottom to top was the statement that follows and I thought this is so relevant to me and the way I view life these days: “I will die young, no matter at what age the experience occurs.”  Ponder that for a while?

 

Another PS:  Here is the Farm in Winter dress.

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