Just a Dog…

(A repost from 2 years ago.  People die all the time and I rarely think of them, but Max I remember quite often with a smile and a tear)

He was just a dog…

His official AKC registered name is Maximus Gluteus but we knew him as Max.

He died the other day, taken all too soon in an unexpected way. He seemed as full of life on his last day as when we first saw him a mere nine years ago.

Max arrived at the cargo facility at Logan airport from his birth state of Kansas. Wrapped in a kennel big enough for a Pitbull, he looked like an undersized rat.

We had found him online and brought him to be a companion for our other Yorkie, Ralph.

He exceeded all expectations becoming not just a companion to Ralph, but a true member of the family.

This memorial is not meant to be sad, although the sadness has enveloped us since he passed away, but to celebrate all he gave of his life to brighten ours.

He was just a dog…

He brought a joy of living to wherever he was. His life was full of experiences and fun.

He traveled on planes, becoming a Florida dog for a time

He climbed hills in Connecticut and mountains in New Hampshire

He chased seagulls on the beach, squirrels in the backyard, and hunted any creature that dare invade HIS home. Make no mistake, wherever he lived was his home.

He had a sense of humor.

A door accidentally left open gave him the chance the snatch an onion from the closet. Eating what he wanted and leaving the rest for my daughter to find when she returned from work.

Several days later, he pretended there was something in the same closet. Scratching and pawing at the door. My daughter opened it, expecting to find a mouse. Max dashed in, grabbed another onion and hightailed it under a table, out of reach. Enjoying his snack.

He never cared much for toys, unlike Ralph who hoarded them. Max did take delight occasionally taking one of Ralph’s toys and running away with it. He would find a place in the sun, put the toy down at his paws, and dare Ralph to try to take it back.

Made Ralph crazy.

Max had his faults. He had no social skills with other dogs. He would attack anything. It was more fury and show then teeth but it could be embarrassing.

This also showed he had no fear. He was a five-pound bundle of fur, barely the size of a rabbit, with the heart of a lion.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I can picture Max as a lion. Poised on rock, mane flying in the breeze, roaring to scare everything around him.

Max would love that.

He was just a dog…whose passing made me cry. Yet knowing him, laughing at him, or just holding and petting him made every tear worth it.

I will miss him as long as I live. The sadness of his passing will fade, his memory and joy for life will not.

He was just a dog…Max

 

The Tradition of St. Nick: Thoughts on a Christmas Eve

(Through the wonders of technology, on this first day of December 2017, I repost this blog from last year, all while absorbing the sun on an Aruban Beach.  Thoughts of Christmas to warm your hearts, if not your other parts)

IMG_0059

On September 21, 1897, the editor of New York’s Sun captured the spirit of Christmas with these words,

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…”

Seven words with an unanticipated longevity to the truth they proclaimed. The answer to a question from an 8-year-old girl.

This 8-year-old girl, facing life’s reality, sort reassurance from the authority of a newspaper. Imagine the quandary facing that editor, tell the truth or chip away at innocence?

He demonstrated great wisdom. He told the truth. A truth that holds to this day.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…”

This is a spirit different than religious traditions. It is a non-denominational phenomenon crossing cultural boundaries and containing a powerful message.

It is easy to lose hope in this world. One begins to wonder if evolution has slowed when it comes to the humanness of humankind.

Or given up on us entirely.

Despite this I say, now more than ever, yes there is a Santa Claus. Even among those who hold no such traditions. The spirit lives in the commonality of our being human.

All we need is a willingness to give for the sake of giving. To seek our happiness by making others happy.

We can share the experience of watching the wonder in the eyes of a small child. See the spark of the spirit come alive and grow within them. Embrace the comfort of old friendships, the warmth of family, or just the companionship of a good dog (but never a cat.)

We all yearn to make others happy and feel the satisfaction of bringing joy to those we love. Or those we are yet to meet.

We can find solace in those same words; Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

It is within us all. All we need do is open our minds.

So, no matter where your tradition comes from. Be it a generous caring man of a different era, proclaimed a Saint, and turned into the legend of Santa Claus. Or a celebration of another tradition with equal import to your memories. Whatever you celebrate, in this Christmas season and from here on, I wish for you;

To have no regrets except for things you didn’t do.

To never to be afraid of failing at anything, except failing to try.

To remember the past, but waste no time on it.

To look forward to the future, but understand you cannot control it.

To hold onto hope, no matter what.

To embrace your moments in this life, once past they can never be reclaimed.

To find what fills your heart with smiles and have it grow, like the Grinch’s, three sizes this day.

To find that childlike spirit long buried by the cares of the real world.

To let the shackles of growing up fall away.

To dance like Snoopy to the music of Schroeder.

To understand, like Linus, it is the spirit that matters.

To know there is always tomorrow for dreams to come true. Even on your last day on this earth, the dreams of those we leave behind live on.

To work for a future of a world filled with laughter.

To understand it is through our differences we share the commonality of being human.

To be a child again, if but for one moment. To hear the far-off sounds of jingling bells. To see a faint red light of a magical reindeer approaching in the cold winter sky. To feel the excitement at the footsteps of a jolly old man on the roof of your memories.

The best part of the Spirit of Christmas is it is within our power to keep it well all the rest of our days.

886707_10151795370048031_640391184_oHappy Christmas to all and to all a lifetime of good nights.

 

Is President Trump Channeling the Ghost of Huey Long?

Many rational people across the globe are trying to understand the Trump phenomenon. His manner and affectations offer little in the way of encouragement. Unless one believes building a wall and destroying years of social progress a good thing.

I recently came across a challenging book called,

Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Author: Richard Rorty

Publisher Harvard University Press

1998

The book is not an easy read. In 1998, Rorty predicted the rise of an American strong man. He wrote,

“One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out.

Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unaccept­able to its students will come flooding back. All the resent­ment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet. …

After my imagined strongman takes charge, he will quickly betray the expectations of his supporters, make his peace with the international super-rich. … People will wonder why there was so little resistance to his evitable rise. Where, they will ask, was the American Left?

Why was it only rightists like [Pat] Buchanan who spoke to the workers about the consequences of globalization? Why could not the Left channel the mounting rage of the newly dispossessed?”

The words seem almost prophetic. In looking for similar pieces, I came across a novel by Sinclair Lewis called, It Can’t Happen Here.

One of the novel’s characters is Berzelius “Buzz” Windip, a politician who defeats FDR for the presidency. His campaign is based on fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms all to the backdrop of Patriotism and “traditional” values.

Things change after the election. He imposes a plutocratic totalitarian regime through a paramilitary force. The plot focuses on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the regime and his part in a liberal rebellion.

Critics connected the novel to Louisiana politician Huey Long who was preparing for a run for the presidency in 1936. Long was assassinated in 1935 just prior to the novel’s publication.

A time when America was resisting entanglement in the European turmoil leading to World War II.

History unveils the difficult decisions facing FDR. Americans were fearful of events in Europe. Such fears offered a politician such as the one in Lewis’s novel an opportunity to arise.

The fear of immigrants and refugees was powerful then and mirrored in our own time.

One of the little talked about aspects of the “Greatest Generation” is the rampant anti-Semitism that permeated American society. Once we entered the war, FDR had to balance the perceptions. He could not let our entry into the conflict appear to be a war to save the Jews.

There is much to be proud of in this country. The bravery and courage of the military, the resilience of Americans to bear any burden, and our past stands against injustice, yet we sometimes overlook the truths of history.

There will come a time when future generations take the measure of our actions. It would appear now that courage and determination to do the difficult and face down the enemy is sorely lacking.

As we face a new wave of innocent refugees, America must look them in the eye and choose. We can offer a beacon of hope with welcoming arms or the cold bayonet of fear.

Perhaps Americans need to step away from their insular iWorld and read a bit. It could be iOpening.

Santa’s Other List: Thoughts for the Twelve Days of Christmas

Most of us are familiar with the famous lists kept by Santa Claus. As children, we strive to be on the nice list.

As the hormones of puberty arise, we respond to our new-found sexuality. We live in hope that those we find attractive are on the naughty list. There is an irresistible draw to stray a bit.

Through parental intervention, shit luck, positive pregnancy tests, emergency room visits, or one too many rides in the back seat of a police car, most return from the dark side.

Or do we?

I think there is a third list.

The Numb List.

We become numb to the spirit that is Christmas.

We become numb to wonder, excitement, and hope.

We become numb to life in exchange for living.

When we are most suited to understand opportunity in our lives, we settle for becoming numb to the world.

We ignore injustices inflicted on others, if it has no effect on us.

We ignore the growing gap of the haves and the have nots, if we see ourselves content with our life.

We take offense at those who would cause us harm, yet stand idly by as others face harm.

We immerse ourselves in our iPhones, iPads, and iWorlds. Substituting email, tweets, and texts for human interaction.

Think about it. When was the last time you had a conversation with a friend? One that didn’t involve emoticons or videos of dogs riding on the backs of elephants?

I think the “I” in idevices stands for idiots. Or worse, impotent.

We’ve become “useful idiots” to our devices. They have made us impotent to making a difference in the world.

We are all on the numb list.

Numb to feeling any real emotion for our fellow humans.

Numb to the spirit of Christmas, or any other myriad traditions, that once were so important to us all.

Numb to being human beings, in a vast universe, open to unimaginable possibilities.

We are on the precipice of an unprecedented change in this country. We need to pay attention, lest we lose everything to ignorance and blustering intolerance.

Now is not the time to be numb. Now is not the time to be nice.

Now is the time for reclaiming hope. Yet, I fear it will go unheeded. The numb list is a comfortable place to be for most.

If that is the case, I prefer to rejoin the naughty list. Make noise in the presence of things that are wrong in the world.

Laugh with the sinners, not cry with the saints. At least they lived a life, not tolerated an existence.

And Yet a Silver Lining…

The last thing to come out of the box was hope. It flew away.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

flagFirst, let me do what my obligation as an American citizen compels me to do, offer my congratulations to President-elect Trump. While I did not vote for you, I accept the will of the people in selecting you as the 45th President.

I wish you well in your time in office. I hope you will recognize the obligation of trust America has placed in your hands to preserve this republic.

In every event, no matter how it may be perceived, there are both negatives and positives. In the case of this election, perhaps President-elect Trump will demonstrate to the American people where the true power of government resides, with Congress.

Despite years of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even with a Republican majority, Congress failed because enough members worked against it. That majority is one seat less today with another leaning Democrat.

Congress sets the budget. Congress controls the purse strings.

This may serve as a blunt, even dangerous, education for America with an inexperienced President wielding his limited powers against the vast experience of career politicians.

The repudiation of the establishment Mr. Trump touts as illustrating the frustration of Americans with this system did not carry to Congress. The overwhelming majority of incumbents were re-elected.

Perhaps, we will seize this time to impose term limits on all elected offices. Experience is important, entrenchment is counter-productive.

This was an election which offered two choices, jump off a cliff and take your chances on a survivable landing or stand your ground against a stampeding heartless carnivore who shows no remorse to those who stand in her way.

One aside, this campaign talked about character as a quality critical to a President. Yet, Ms. Clinton chose to go against a well-established tradition in this country. She declined to give a concession speech. I wonder, had the results been different, if she would ignore such a choice by Mr. Trump.

Neither were good choices. How this story ends remains to be seen.  That this country will persevere is unquestioned. What we will look like as a country in 4 years is the question.

Congratulations, Mr. Trump, take care of our country.

 

America’s Long Walk on a Short Pier

The America I know, the one that once served as a bright shining beacon to the world, is changing. Our headlong panic rush to insulate, rather than defend, ourselves from those that would do us harm is disheartening.

Talk of building walls, denying entry based on religion or origin, craving a national policy of carpet bombing without regard to innocents is not a solution. It is the easy way out. That is not America.

We are on a very long walk on a short pier.305880-pier

America was once the country who built piers to welcome those who seek the American dream. We stood greeting those looking for a better life. Yet now, because it is so easy to focus on those who misuse our welcome, we are throwing it all away.

When did we become so afraid of standing up for what is right, that we are willing to bury our head in the sand?

We bought into this ‘I’m being bullied nonsense’ and cry to our mommies. I know this may offend some people but you don’t run from bullies, or try to legislate them out of existence. You stand up to them.

It’s the only way to solve the problem. Time to recapture our pride and dignity.

Now, we are faced with a Presidential election. The campaign is a bunch of meaningless drivel, hurled by both sides, that offers no real solution, no intelligent analysis of the problem, and no real hope for change.

We are better than that. We deserve better than that. And yet, most of us just follow along like blind sheep lured by the aroma of fresh feed right into the slaughter house.

Instead of doing the hard work of identifying those who would misuse welfare, we punish the entire program.

Instead of doing the difficult task of bringing the fight to the enemy, we embrace politicians with no idea of the rules of engagement who see carpet bombing as a solution to end a philosophy. Innocent casualties be damned.

Instead of making the effort to understand the complex problems facing us, we engage in screaming matches that do nothing.

Instead of focusing on the logjam that is Congress, we scream and yell about useless Congressional hearings and speeches that capitalize on our ignorance.

Instead of embracing education, we dilute the standards then blame teachers for the results. Johnny can’t read and we do not care.

But there is still time.

There is time to remember that Congress holds the purse strings of America, not the President, and understand who holds the purse strings of Congress.

There is time to return to an America where holding public office meant doing public service not keeping it for life.

There is time, but it, like the end of the pier, is growing short.

I have noticed a troubling trend among the tattooed generation of Americans. I am noticing more and more individuals sporting a barcode tattoo on the back of their necks.

If we are not vigilant. If we do not wean ourselves away from chasing Pokémon. If we do not think instead of remaining mindlessly enslaved to our cell phones.

If we do not realize that we have stopped adding to the pier that is the American dream but continue to walk at our current pace, we will find ourselves at the end.

Those sporting this barcode tattoo may be a foreshadow of the American future.

Where once each new generation represented an addition to the treasure of America, our people, they may be reduced to nothing but inventory from a failed dream.

Think before we walk into oblivion.

Insights from 60 Revolutions of the Sun

In my now sixty complete revolutions of the sun, I am struck by how much the world has changed and how little people have progressed.

We are a single race. The human race. Yet, one is hard-pressed to find examples of this.

We live at a time when access to information is at an all-time high and rationality at a depressing low. Instead of recognizing our differences as nothing more than window dressing, we isolate ourselves with those we share those shallow aspects and separate ourselves from those we see as different.

Why is it we fill our hearts with the irrationality of prejudice, the willful ignorance of others, instead of embracing the commonality of our nature?

Tolerance is something we demand for ourselves and deny to others. The surface differences that comprise such a small percentage of our being cloud the overwhelming similarities.

At a time when it would seem the very survival of our common race is at hand, we focus on promoting our differences instead of joining together to insure our survival.

The faiths of the world publicly espouse their common goal yet continue to teach the doctrines of difference.

Politicians play to the lowest common denominator of fear to further than own careers no matter the cost.

We resort to violence as a solution rather than recognizing violence is at the root of the issue. Violence is the tool to protect differences not people . What we need is the rationality of diplomacy and acceptance.

I can only hope that five hundred or a thousand years from now the descendants of the human race look back on the foolishness of this time as a product of ignorance and stupidity.

Much like we mock the ignorance of the Dark Ages or the image of Stone Age man cowering in his cave from the thunder and lightning of the gods, future humans will find a similar ignorance in the history of our time.

If there are any descendants to do so.  I can only hope we survive  to live up to our self-described moniker of Homo Sapiens.

With all the tools of destruction and our skills at killing our fellow humans over artificial differences, there may not be anyone left to attain such insight and maturity of character.

Lost in On-line Addiction

There are one thousand four hundred forty minutes in a day, five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes in a year. On average we spend 1/3 of that time sleeping, leaving nine hundred sixty minutes a day, three hundred forty six thousand eight hundred ninety six minutes a year to do things.

When you think about it, it sounds like quite a bit. As you pass through your first few years, you can almost hear each second of the clock tick. With the passage of time, the sound is blurred, time speeds up, and each tick of the clock seems to represent a season, or a year, or a decade.

Einstein forgot to mention that not only is time relative, but it is accelerating. As a wise older man once told me, ‘monthly magazines come every three days.’

Being conscious of this aforementioned phenomenon of time acceleration, I decided to pay attention to the things I do with my time.

I created a little experiment I call Connectivity Impact; separating myself from the online world in toto and measuring the amount of time I could redirect to other things.

No email

No messaging

No social media

No surfing the net

I must say it has proven both refreshing and enlightening.

Here is the number of items waiting for my attention when I rejoined the world of connectivity.

845 emails all clamoring for my time.

I timed myself in opening several and reading them through. It took an average of 20 seconds. If I responded it added, on average, an additional 30 seconds.

Thus if I read all the emails (16900 seconds) and responded to only 10% (1690 seconds) it took about 300 minutes of time out of my life.  5 hours a week/260 hours per year. More than 10 days. Just for email.

Facebook: I had 45 Notifications/Messages/Friend requests. It took me 20 minutes to read through/respond. It was hard for me to tell how many newsfeed notices were there since I last checked, but holding the down arrow and watching the screen fly by so fast as to be unreadable, it took a full 2 minutes to get to notifications dated on the last time I checked. If I only took a second to look at them all and only stopped to read 10% of them I am estimating it would take at least 120 minutes. Thus Facebook took 140 minutes of my allotted time.

Twitter/Instagram/Linked in: Without going into more detail and further wasting your time, which is the whole point I am trying to make, it took 45 minutes for me to sort through it all.

If I went through the normal process of reading some, responding to some, deleting some, forwarding some, in the timeframe I was “off the grid,” it would have taken almost 500 minutes of my time. 8 1/2 hours.

Now we add in, just for arguments sake, 30 minutes a day surfing the net. That brings the weekly total to more than 10 hours per week doing nothing but staring at a computer screen reading, for the most part, senseless drivel. Out of all the emails I received, 25 required a reply for either business or personal matters. All the rest were mostly attempts to entertain, politicize, criticize or promote some meaningless point of view.

This was just for a 7-day period. Seven days! Over the course of a year, I would spend 520 HOURS reading email/Facebook/Instagrams/Twitter material without including net surfing, googling trivia, and watching YouTube videos.

Keep in mind, I do not work a traditional job (I write and it is a solitary endeavor) so I am not receiving work related emails. Unless you count rejection notices from publishers, but I consider them to be a source of inspiration.

I recall when I worked at Southwest Airlines there was easily 40 to 50 emails a day, most of which had to be read and at least 1/3 required responses. This doesn’t include cell-phone calls/texts. I have a cellphone. I use it only if I need to call or text someone, which is minimal. The time I spend on it is minimal. I know that is not the case for many, if not most, people. When I see people watching TV shows or movies on a phone I want to cringe. These things used to be something you looked forward to, now they are just something else to waste time on.

And I am also one of the few remaining people in this world who does not play Candy Smash or whatever the game of the moment is. That seems to be an even more insidious time thief.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating abandoning technology. I couldn’t reach as many people as I do with these posts without it. I am advocating that we take a hard look at what time we devote to these various technologies and seek a balance in our lives. Instead of watching videos, try actually doing things.

If you do the math, and extend to the numbers to a year, “on-line” takes 21 days of my time on an annual basis. For most people I am willing to say it is much, much more.

21 days of your finite time in this world. And that’s 21 full days, if you deduct sleep time, it takes about 29 days a year to deal with online activities. A month out of your life.

Seems like a lot of time to me to spend watching cat videos.

If you are of my generation, (interesting correlation to time acceleration is age relativity, I now consider sixty years old to be just a kid,) we didn’t have these issues to deal with until our thirties. My daughter’s generation has dealt with them almost from birth. Her children will deal with it from birth (Facetime/Facebook announcements/etc.)

This is not a plea for a return to the “good-old days.” Our perception of the good old days is often a twist on Shakespeare’s words “The evil men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”

In the case of the “good old days” we remember the good, and gloss over the bad. These are the only days we have. That is what we need focus on.

I recognize there are some great benefits from this connectivity. In many countries, the internet is a lifeline to free expression and access to new ideas. There are posts from sites like Humans of New York which highlight the best of our diversity and sadly sometimes point out the worst of things we do to our fellow man.

But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

Perhaps if those of us in countries like ours, with open and free access to these worlds, understood the value and power of such technology we would use it more selectively. We would stop watering down the net with meaningless, nonsensical pleas and requests to “like” or “forward.” We could stop flooding the cyber-world with messages containing pictures of colorful sunsets, puppies in the snow, or horses dancing on beaches holding promise that you’ll receive money/blessings/etc. I am not a religious person, but I have read many of the books. Not one mention of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram as a vehicle for contacting the Supreme Being du jour.

Maybe he/she/they are off-line? Is it possible ‘god’ or “God” or the “Goddess” doesn’t have an email address? No Twitter handle? No Facebook page?

If that is what you seek or embrace, try using your mind and heart. Stop looking for quick fix Tweets to bring eternal salvation or to spread the word and tell the world of your devotion to a particular faith.

There are many who find a false courage in the deceptive anonymity of being online. This false sense of empowerment makes them willing to say things online they lack the courage to say in person. Used improperly, it turns even the meekest among us into bullies. Until they are found out.

When did having an online video go viral become a worthwhile goal?  Why would anyone admire someone who stood around and took a video instead of helping out? We’ve become a world of voyeurs seeking pleasure in watching others suffer and rewarding those standing idly by doing nothing.

Back to the numbers.

The life expectancy of my generation for a male is 82, (although I am hoping to exceed expectations.) This means, if I can believe my research, that I can look forward to spending 262 days of the 7030 days I have left on the following.

Answering emails, reading the latest Mark Z’berg giveaway nonsense believed by the dumbasses of the world, watching cat videos, listening to belligerent uneducated morons proclaiming their expertise on everything from military policy, to immigration, to police procedures, to the second amendment, to what they claim is the one true religion.

Draining my humanity one digital moment at a time.

On-line is a wealth of information, lacking the filter of knowledge and common sense.

To steal a line from one of the most profound sources of wisdom in the world today, coffee cup slogans, “Don’t confuse your Google search with my education and years of experience.”

I have returned to the world of connectivity. I look forward to the many benefits, now more cognizant of the risks and pitfalls.

Will I let it consume any more time than is necessary and practical?

I don’t f$&^ing think so.

(You can email a response to joe.broadmeadow@hotmail.com, Joseph.Broadmeadow@gmail.com, jebroadmeadow@gmail.com, Tweet to me at @jbroadmeadow, I am on Linked in and Instagram. You can comment here or my WordPress blog or ‘like’ or comment on my Facebook page.)

See what I mean? It is insidious.

Focusing on Death: Missing an Opportunity

It is the most common of human experiences, dealing with the death of a family member, friend, or others who affected your life.

I think we make a mistake when we focus on the tragedy of death. Death is one of two things every human being shares. Better that we come to accept this.

Since we all die, and none of us knows what the experience entails, I think we miss an opportunity to gain something positive from death.

It does not matter how one dies. The manner of death is like the weather, uncontrollable and unpredictable. Why rage against something so outside our ability to change?

What does matter is how one lived. Focusing on their death masks the real loss; the missed opportunities when they were alive. That is not to say we should not mourn, but we can give the natural state of mourning a purpose.

When someone dies, the living bear the loss. For those who have passed on, all opportunities are gone. The greatest lesson we can learn from someone’s death is to appreciate the living. To focus the time you have on things that really matter.

Victor Frankl, a Jewish psychologist and survivor of Auschwitz, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, wrote that people could survive the most horrendous conditions if they have a reason to live. Focusing on things beyond their control is useless.

Frankl’s experience in the camps taught him this; the one thing that no one can take from you is your choice of how you respond to the course of your life.

This would include dealing with death.

Most of the things we focus on, the material things, are secondary to living. Finding meaning is the key to life. Meaning cannot come from death. Yet a reason to bring something more into your own life, and the life of others, can.

Death in inevitable. Raging against such a certainty is folly. Deriving something good from it is enpowering.

In the wake of someone’s death, we need to focus our efforts on finding meaning in our lives and to give meaning to those we hold dear.

Death should remind us to live, not waste time raging against it. The sadness that comes with someone dying lies not in mourning the death but in mourning the missed opportunities when they lived.

Sometimes our blind trudging through our day overshadows the days of our life. Often our focus on the things of this world, jobs, money, the accumulation of things, detours us from living. The things we accumulate are nothing but the dust of life. They are the flotsam and jetsam of existence.

Lost opportunities are what death so starkly points out. Therein lies the sadness, and hope.

Imagine the important, breathtaking moments of our lives are like the stars on a crisp dark night. The enormity of the vision is powerful and vibrant.

Now picture the stars on a bright sunny blue-sky day. They are all still there, still amazing. Yet we cannot see them. Blinded by what seems to be a beautiful day.

Such are the many things we do in our lives. They may bring us some sense of satisfaction, some sense of value. Give us some measure of self-worth. Nevertheless, when the light fades and the stars show themselves, those bright things of the day pale in comparison.

When someone dies, we should celebrate their life, learn from those missed opportunities, and resolve to embrace those moments still left to you.

Frankl also wrote, “Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.” Choosing to find meaning in our lives, through the things we do and the people we touch, is what matters.

There is no greater memorial to those who have died than embracing the living. To find meaning in our lives and to share that with others.

When I die, if those who remember me say that I learned to do just that. That I tried to embrace my time as best I could. That I found meaning in my life and shared it with others. Then that is a life worth celebrating. Death is simply part of the process. Rather than something we mourn, death should remind us to live.

 

Generational Perspective

Here is a bit of a perspective for my fellow members of the Cumberland High School Class of 1974.

In 1974:

The President of the United States was Richard Nixon, until August 9th, and then Gerald Ford after Nixon resigned due to the Watergate hearings. Ford pardoned Nixon. Both Ford and Nixon are dead

The Soviet Union was intact, armed with nuclear weapons, and still our sworn enemy. Alexei Nikolayevich Kosygin was the premier. He is dead

There were no cell phones, internet, or cable television

We landed on the moon for the first time 5 years before in 1969 and for the last time in 1972. Only 12 men have ever walked on the moon. We have not been back since nor do we have a real timeline for returning.

The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst. She later joined them and participated in a series of bank robberies. She is now 61.

Muhammed Ali fought George Frazier in the Rumble in the Jungle. Ali is 73 Foreman is 66.

A gallon of gas was $.55

The speed limit was changed to 55 to conserve gasoline.

President Ford announced an amnesty for Vietnam War deserters and draft evaders.

The Kootenai Native American Tribe in Idaho declares war on the United States. It settled peacefully. The only time a war was declared and resolved without a shot being fired or anyone killed.

The World Population: 4 billion. (now 7 billion)

India successfully tests a nuclear weapon. They become the 6th Nuclear power. (There are 9 now, 15923 total estimated nuclear warheads in the world as of 2015)

The first MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is developed.

After 84 days in space, the American astronauts aboard Skylab return to earth.

A 3.2 million year-old hominid skeleton, 40% complete, is found in Ethiopia. She is named Lucy. Dr. Johanson, the paleontologist who found her, says he named her for the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

The pocket calculator goes on sale. (I got one as a graduation present, it cost my parents 84$)

Bar codes are used for the first time.

Salty Brine was still on WPRO announcing “No school, Foster Gloucester.”

Movies of 1974

The Sting, The Exorcist, Blazing Saddles (my favorite), Serpico, Death Wish

#1 Song of 1974

The Way We Were

Other songs:

Time in a Bottle, Hooked on a Feeling, Band on the Run, Can’t Get Enough of You Babe, Kung Fu Fighting

(How many of you sang these songs as you read them?)

1974 holds the record for the most #1 Billboard hits in one year, 35.

TV Shows:

Kojak, The Price is Right, The Six Million Dollar Man

Here’s one that may bring some of you to tears

Born in 1974:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Alanis Morrisette. Jimmy Fallon, Victoria Beckham

So why the walk down memory lane? The end of a year lends itself to a momentary review of things. A recap of the path of our lives. We have come a long way from 1974, some of those class members didn’t have the opportunity to reach 2015.

As time moves on, as the year changes from 2015 to 2016, as we all approach our 60th birthdays, I thought I would remind us of where were all those years ago, the events that shaped us, and, more importantly, get us all to make the most of the time we have left.

The reality of life is that most of us will not be around when a Cumberland High School Class of 2016 graduate writes a similar memoir of his or her graduation year. It is important for all of us to be mindful of today and use the time we have wisely.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year, I apologize for reminding those of you trying to ignore the significance of 2016 age-wise, and hope you all have many more memories yet to create and cherish.