Cycle Of Life

As you go through life, your perspectives on almost everything will change.  How you define success will change as well. 

At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants
At age 12 success is having friends
At age 16 success is having a drivers license
At age 20 success is having sex
At age 30 success is having money
At age 40 success is having your health
At age 50 success is still having your health
At age 60 success is still having money
At age 70 success is having sex
At age 80 success is having a drivers license
At age 85 success is still having friends
At age 90 success is not peeing in your pants

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Aging, Children, Future, Generations, Humor, Insight, Life, Perspective, Reflection, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

I Am – You Are

I  read a post that contained a poem by Shel Silverstein from his book “Every Thing On It”. It is called “Masks”. It so typified, to me, how we go through life so conscious of our shortcomings, or just our differences, that we often never see beyond that. We fail to see that sometimes it is our differences that make us the same. I have reproduced the poem here followed by my take on the theme.

Masks
“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.”
― Shel Silverstein, Every Thing on It

Ted ambled aimlessly down the mall, only half glancing in the windows of the stores that tried to seduce him to enter. He wasn’t looking for anything in particular. In fact, he wasn’t looking for anything at all. Although he came here often, it was seldom to shop. No, he came here to belong.
Now in his early twenties, Ted was kind of a loner. Not by design mind you, and certainly not by choice. It had been this way ever since he could remember. Ever since he had first discovered that he was different. To look at him was to see a young man with an athletic build. But beneath the shock of brown curly hair was a face that was a study in contradictions. While the mouth spoke of a ready smile, the eyes remained guarded and suspicious.
Ted was not possessed of a physical defect that was out there for everyone to see. He often thought that perhaps that would have been preferable. Everyone would be able to see the infirmity immediately and digest it, accepting him for what they saw. But Ted’s was hidden. Everyone saw a normal young man and accepted him as such, until he attempted to speak. Sadly, Ted was, and always had been a chronic stutterer.
As a boy, Ted had suffered the ridicule of his classmates. They didn’t mean to hurt him, but they did. He was an easy target and they took advantage of it. To them, it was all in good fun. After all, they were his friends. But Ted took it personally. At first he would try to laugh it off, but that only gave the antagonists a sense of approval. As he got a little older, he began to consciously harbor feelings of resentment and even a little anger. By the time he hit his early teens, he had pretty much withdrawn from most social activities, preferring instead to occupy his time and attention in solitary endeavors.
So it was that Ted frequented the mall. Here, he had discovered, existed the possibility to be with people without having to interface with them. The mall filled a need. The loneliness that captured most of his days was at least temporarily subdued when he could walk among the crowds of shoppers without an obligation to speak. He could use that ready smile without any further expectations. It was the closest he could come to fitting in.
Taking a seat on one of the benches near the food court, he studied the faces of those around him. He had become quite a student of the human condition, and could spend hours accessing the culture that moved around him. Some he found more interesting then others, like the elderly man that he often saw sitting on a bench nearby. He didn’t know if he came here every day, but he suspected he did as he was always there on the days Ted visited. He had often wondered, as he did about many of the people, what his story was. Who was he and what had drawn him to this place. Like Ted, he was sure he too had a story, a reason, a purpose for being here.
The truth be known, while watching the flow of passing shoppers, Ted secretly gave more attention to the young ladies, and would sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to have a girlfriend. He had never dated and doubted he ever would. This is as good as it gets, I’m afraid he mused. Although, his smile could be infectious, he knew that even if returned, he was helpless to advance the opportunity. He couldn’t face the looks of surprise and the rejection that came with it.
But today was different. A girl, a very pretty girl, sat at a table not too far away. Ted, while trying to be discreet, had difficulty taking his eyes off of her. She appeared to be about his age and quite frankly, he thought she was hot. He studied her as much as possible without being obvious, as if trying to commit every feature, every movement to memory. He saw her looking back at him from time to time, and felt that perhaps she was at least a little interested in him. How he would love to walk over there and introduce himself. Oh but if only he could. Watching her from afar he knew was as good as it would get. There was no way it would work, at least not for him. So it was that Ted, chanced one last look and saw her looking at him. For a moment they starred at each other until Ted gave her a smile and walked off down the mall.
#####
Sandy had spent the whole morning shopping. She had always loved to wander through stores and, even before she was able to make purchases, would select items to try on or take advantage of the freebies at the department store cosmetic counters. It always made her feel better. And now that she had a job and a little money of her own, she found herself drawn to the mall even more frequently. She usually came alone as her circle of friends was limited and they all had their own schedules. Actually, she preferred to shop alone. She never felt rushed and could spend her time and her money as she wished.
As noontime approached, as was her habit, she progressed to the food court and, after reviewing her choices, ordered a slice of pizza and a drink at Sbarro’s. Upon receiving her order she turned and surveyed the available seating. At this time of day, it was usually a little more difficult finding a seat. Spying an empty table on the outskirts of the court, she quickly skirted the occupied tables and slid into the empty seat. As she sat there eating she would frequently look around. On one such occasion, she saw a boy sit down on a bench not too far away. It didn’t look like he had been shopping as he had no bags. But, by the same token, he wasn’t eating anything either. This peeked her curiosity. Why was he just sitting there. He appeared to be alone. The more she wondered, the more she watched . The more she watched the more interested she became. In his own way, he was kind of cute. She liked his unruly hair and his mouth that seemed to be hiding a smile. It was the eyes that she couldn’t read.
She saw him looking at her from time to time and became a little flustered when their eyes would accidentally meet. After finishing her pizza, she slowly nursed her soft drink, prolonging her reason to stay.
As time passed, Sandy’s thoughts started to dwell on the young man. What if he was interested in her. What if he suddenly got up and came over to talk to her. Oh My God she thought. What would she do then. Suddenly she started to feel very anxious and her hands became sweaty. She felt the space around her closing in. She must leave. She couldn’t risk his coming over.
She saw him stand, and her breath constricted in her throat. She knew she was but moments away from having a panic attack. That had happened before and she worried that it would happen again. What would people think. Although she didn’t want to, she felt compelled to turn and see what he was doing. When she did, she saw him looking straight at her. Their eyes locked for what seemed to be an eternity. Then he smiled, and moved on down the mall.
Sandy remained in her seat for a few more minutes as her breathing began to return to normal and the fear she had felt began to recede. She was relieved that it was over but also angry. Angry that it had to end this way. Angry that it always ended this way. As she stood and gathered her bags and prepared to leave, she could feel the hot tears begin to well up. Why me she asked herself for the thousandth time. Why can’t I be like everyone else. The question, unanswered, hung heavy in the air as she slowly walked away, favoring the shriveled leg with the heavy steel brace.

From The Archives 2013

 

 

Posted in Beauty, Bullying, Compassion, Dating, Fear, Fiction, Handicap, Life, Reflection, Self Esteem, Short Story | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Her Horn Went Beep Beep Beep

While riding in my Cadillac
What to my surprise
A little Nash Rambler was following me
About one third my size
The guy musta wanted to pass me up
As he kept on tooting his horn

I’m sure some of you will remember this song by the Playmates about the little car trying to pass the big one. However, what is not widely known nor much discussed is that my wife and I were the inspiration for the song. Yup. It was us. I’m sure of it. See if you don’t agree.
It happened one summer when I had just been selected by my company to transfer from Columbia Maryland to Houston Texas. At the time, we drove a little Nissan wagon (known as a Datsun back then). Kind of cramped for space with an engine like a lawnmower. In preparation for the move, it quickly became apparent that it was going to be too small to carry two adults, a dog, two cats, a bowl of fish, assorted plants, pet food, kitty litter, beds, etc. So we decided to rent a large car and drive tandem. The plan was to spend one night on the road in Atlanta and try to make it in to Houston the following day. Back then, it was difficult to find lodging that would allow pets.
Now, before we pull out of the driveway, there is one thing I want to make sure you understand. I have noted it in my journal titled ‘How To Avoid Physical Dismemberment During Marriage’. Lesson 472. A road trip to a woman bears no resemblance to a road trip to a man. To a woman, it is a long drive during which you make frequent stops and enjoy the ride. To a man, it equals the Baha endurance race where the object is to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. That being said, we can now leave.
We had rented a big Chrysler which I was driving with the two cats. My wife was following in the Datsun with the dog and the goldfish. We headed on down through D.C. and Virginia and into North Carolina. I was pleased with how well we were doing and envisioned making it to Atlanta by nightfall. As I remember, it was somewhere between Raleigh and Charlotte that I heard it for the first time. A car horn. I glanced in the rear-view and saw my wife dutifully following behind, so I settled back and kept on driving. When I heard it again, I thought there must be a car in my blind spot, but looking over my shoulder, I didn’t see any traffic save the Datsun. So I kept driving. Big mistake.
It wasn’t long before I had a feeling I was being watched and, glancing to my left, I saw a Datsun, our Datsun, keeping pace with me, driven by a woman who could have deflated my tires with her look. As our eyes met, she made some threatening gestures with her right arm signifying that I was either to exit the freeway or that I had just been cursed. Turns out it was all of the above. Immediately thereafter, the little Datsun pulled past and in front of me and stayed there until the next exit.
At this point, let me digress for a minute. Do any of you ever remember doing something as a kid that you knew was wrong and thinking “my folks are going to kill me”. Yes? Good! Because that is exactly the feeling I had at that moment.
As I followed her into the parking lot of a restaurant and parked, I hesitantly got out of my car and walked to hers, with a grin on my face indicating that I was really a friendly person. I knew it wasn’t working when she refused to roll down the window. She just sat there glaring at me. And that was the good part. It went downhill after she got out of the car.
Just another of life’s lessons I suppose. As a young husband, I was learning something new every day. In my journal I made another hasty notation. Lesson 473. Hell hath no fury like a woman that has to pee. Beep Beep.

From The Archives 2014

Posted in Family, Funny, Humor, Laugh, Life, Love, Marriage, Memories, Reflection, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Resurrection

image0033
Rusted hulls neath salty fathoms
Vanquished by a fickle sea
Skeletons of yesterday
Reminders of what used to be

Once proud ships long since forgotten
For years have laid beneath the tide
Memories of their staid tradition
Now forever locked inside

But alas, the tides of nature
Have erased the hapless deep
Secrets that have long been captured
The ocean can no longer keep

Rise again you mighty vessels
Resurrection is at hand
Feel the winds ore your bows freshen
Set sail across your sea of sand

The Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth largest body of water. It has been steadily shrinking since the 1960’s, after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet Union irrigation projects. Now, it is almost gone, leaving a desert full of old shipwrecks.

From the archives 2014

Posted in History, Mystery, Ocean, Poetry, Reflection, Rhyme, Seas, Ships, Tribute | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Silouhettes

silhouettes

Moving stealthily beside me
My silhouette, but half of me
Reflecting glances cast upon me
This is all the other sees

But just one side of me is showing
Being that of left or right
Creating incomplete conclusions
The rest of me beyond their sight

If I were to change position
Face the other way per se
Would they gain a new perspective
Would more of me that side betray

Each in itself creates a picture
With many features indiscreet
Only when both seen together
Is who I really am complete

From the archives 2015

 

 

 

 

Posted in Insight, Perspective, Poetry, Random Thoughts, Reflection, Vanity, Vision | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Being Cool

I think every generation has it’s own icons of cool.  The way they talk.  The way they dress.  The way they interact.  My generation was no different.  When I was in high school I wore my jeans low on my hips (not to be confused with todays falling off low), held up with a garrison belt with the buckle off to one side.  My shirts were mostly gray and pink and the collars were always turned up.  My hair was combed wet and slicked back.  I did not have the popular D.A., but it was close. I was cool, or so I thought. And if I wasn’t I at least fit in.  And ladies, who among you never had a poodle skirt or penny loafers.

As I got a little older, my clothes changed to more traditional attire and ‘fitting in’ went through several iterations as styles changed and years passed.  All the while, without really thinking about it, I was tweaking my appearance to mimic what was considered cool at the time.

But cool is not just what you wear or how you look.  It is also how you act.  Cool is being able to tell a joke successfully.  Cool is how you carry yourself.  Cool in being the person people want to be around.  There are so many facets to being cool and we all strive to possess as many of them as possible.  But even the coolest among us sometimes crash and burn.  We experience uncool moments that go to our core and remind us who we really are.  I remember one such experience from many years ago that still evokes chagrin within me.

I was a fledgling manager for a major company, probably in my late twenties.  I worked within the administration segment of the business, providing support to the sales team.  On occasion, I would be called upon to make field trips to ride with salesmen and meet our customers or to address specific problems with our operations.  One of these trips entailed flying to Omaha Nebraska at the request of the sales manager.  He wanted me to accompany him on a visit to some customers in Norfolk, Nebraska.  When I arrived at the airport, Bob was waiting for me and upon entering his car, he suggested we have some lunch before driving north.

I had known Bob passingly for some time.  He was a single guy in his thirties.  He wasn’t handsome, but had an athletic build and a pleasant demeanor.  He also dressed expensively and, within his circle of friends was considered a player.  Therefore, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found we were going to have lunch at the Playboy Club. I didn’t even know there was one in Nebraska.  I immediately began to freeze up.  Today, I was going to meet a real Bunny.  Time to turn on the cool.

Upon entering, we were greeted by a bunny at the hostess station.  Bob showed her his membership key, however, it wasn’t apparently necessary as virtually every bunny that walked by knew him.  I for one was in awe.  I was just glad none of the bunny’s addressed me directly as I was really struggling with the cool thing.  Definitely not an easy thing to pull off while standing next to Bob while wearing my best polyester suit.   I definitely did not exhibit the traits of a high roller. Our bunny showed us to our table.  It was on a semi circular mezzanine next to a chrome rail, overlooking a larger dining area below.  From there, I had a birds eye view of  most of the club.  

Our table, however was small.  More of a cocktail table.  Probably about a yard in circumference.  It was set simply with a white table cloth, a bud vase, and silverware.  Our bunny placed our menus on the table as we prepared to be seated.  That is when it happened.  I slid my chair out from under the table, failing to notice that a corner of the tablecloth was draped over my seat.  Without looking I sat down and successfully managed to clean everything off the table.  I wanted to hide in the restroom until Bob was ready to leave.  Needless to say,  I don’t think I have ever, before or after, been that embarrassed.

It’s funny now.  Most things like that are.  I just knew that I was going to hear about my faux pas from my colleagues for a long time, if not forever.  But I have to say this about Bob.  Player or not, he apparently never told anyone about my moment of fame.  I say fame because I had pulled off what would be thought of as an impossible feat.  For one moment,  not one eye in the entire club, was looking at a bunny. 

 

 

Posted in Cool, Funny, History, Humor, Laugh, Life, Memories, Reflection, Self Esteem, Youth | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Living Through

I am a very lucky man.  I have just spent almost 60 years with the love of my life.  How many people do you know that can say that?  How many people get to walk that far together?

There was nothing exceptional about our marriage.  We lived it much as any other couple does.  We experienced the same issues, opportunities, problems and joy that others do.  We laughed at many of the same things and shared tears over others.  We went everywhere together and held hands when it felt right.  We suffered the setbacks when an unexpected expense arose and money was tight, or upon the loss of a beloved pet.  We had our disagreements, but we always got beyond them.  And yes, we were not afraid to tell each other that we loved them.

We started out as kids actually.  Old enough to want to share each other, and young enough to think we possessed the formula to a happy union. And, to some degree, we were right.  We just didn’t understand how complex the formula was.  It required constant testing and frequent upgrades to make it work.  And somewhere along the line, we unconsciously evolved from two me’s to one us. I think the word ‘us’ is special.  I like to think it is an acronym for “united souls”. The bonding so complete that we began to think and act as a unit.

This is the part I miss the most.  That complete understanding and acceptance of each other.  Not total agreement, but possessing the ability to accept.  It was the part of my life where we ceased living with one another, and began living through one another.

As time passes, I will be forced to again think as one person, making the day to day decisions that will guide my new life.   And that is what it is.  A rebirth of my life.  An opportunity to start anew.  And although I will continue to live with my memories, I will now venture down a different path, firm in the knowledge that I will never walk alone.   As I said.  I am a very lucky man.

Posted in Aging, Death, Faith, Family, Gifts, Home, Life, Love, Marriage, Memories, Perspective, Reflection, Relationships, Tribute, Unity | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment