Yesterday was my granddaughter’s thirteenth birthday and tomorrow is my birthday. One of us is old and the other beautiful. No hints.
I did get to thinking about the difference in life’s perceptions from a thirteen year old to me. There are a lot of experiential years in between that provide a knowing look on the condition of human kind and there is a lot of youthful wonderment in thirteen years of existence that I have forgotten and should probably embrace for a gestalt understanding of life and times.
When I was a youngster we still played outside. My TV-programs were on only three channels. CBS, NBC and Dumont. ABC had not yet been formed into the third national network.
At first, I watched TV at a neighbor’s home since we didn’t get one until later. We kids (I can’t even remember my young friends names) watched Howdy Doody, Gabby Hayes, Captain Video and Tom Corbett Space Cadet. They were generally fifteen-minute programs starting around five in the evening.
After we got a television a year or so later, I remember my Mother coming home from teaching elementary school and while preparing dinner Kate Smith could be heard in the living room singing her theme song, “When the moon comes over the mountain”.
My granddaughter’s TV choices are over six hundred channels. I imagine her birthday thoughts are just as profound as mine. Her gifts were colors for nails and make-up, a Kindle and goodies from friends, parents, cousins and grandparents. Her year will linger long in merriment for she has only lived one-thirteenth of her life.
Tomorrow I will get a few birthday wishes and calls, a couple of cards and a gift and a hug from my wife, but the day will pass quickly as they all do when one is in their seventh decade.
I’ll try to talk to my granddaughter about serious things a little more this year, but I’ll leave talking about boys to her parents.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once wrote that it’s good for the young and old to be together. The child then is able to acknowledge the elder in herself and the elder is able to acknowledge the child in himself and a new agreement is formed between generations. I like that.
We revere the greatness that comes from our sports stars or any celebrity we deem to hold high. We admire their talent, their accomplishment, their beauty or their potential. We appreciate their team or individual success.
Another’s success inspires the individual in us to be better by practicing more, getting better grades, respecting our bodies, or extending a kindness to someone. When our heroes and stars have public failings it forces us to privately acknowledge our own.
When heroes fall or falter, the tendency is to focus only on the disappointment and not on the whole person. Mickey Mantle’s addiction to alcohol, for instance, while bad, both for him and as an example to young athletes, did not minimize his 536 career home runs. Alex Rodrigues is another case.
OJ Simpson seems to be a case all by himself, but he is still included in the category of sports stars gone bad or celebrities who make bad choices. Michael Vick was another, as were Jayson Williams and Mike Tyson. And let’s not forget the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska or the choices of President Richard Nixon.
Heroes and celebrities come in both genders and attain all degrees of fame and status. Parents, teachers, clergy, and politicians can be heroes and some will inevitably disappoint the admirer or society.
Human frailty is universal. Greatness comes when we learn from it.
Every once in awhile we should ask ourselves, who am I?
When I ask this question to myself, I get a different answer based upon my experience and growth at that moment of asking.
Why am I me? One answer is to participate in this time and space and density with infinite choices to live in the moment. I must do this with the nearly seven billion other souls who have come to experience life together and each one of us in the purity of our spirits hopes to be an example of creative change, courage and noble character. If we get caught up in the material world of want it doesn’t always come out that way.
In each generation, perhaps in each lifetime, special souls are born to help us find, accomplish, complete, and create new paths to the Source that give understandable meaning, knowledge and grace to life.
Sometimes individual souls will manifest in science and philosophy – Einstein and Epictetus; sometimes in literature – Dostoevsky and Miller; sometimes in leadership – Churchill and Lincoln; sometimes in music –Beethoven and Berlin; or art and architecture – Michelangelo and Wright and sometimes in belief systems: Moses, Christ, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Krishna, Gandhi, and thousands of others like them who taught by example that the way to The Source was through positive deeds and unconditional love.
If we look at history we find greatness and charismatic leadership in all fields of creative endeavor. We can go to any country in ancient or modern times and find individual greatness that influenced nationalistic culture and global history and we can find individual greed and cruelty.
What we choose to be is entirely up to us. It has nothing to do with where you were born or in what circumstances. It only has to do with choice. It’s a responsibility that most of us forget for it is so much easier to blame another or something for our life conditions.
I watched the televised rampage of shoppers pushing and shoving each other on what merchants call, “Black Friday.”
What is wrong with us? We fall for the marketing of sales when most time the price isn’t much different from other selling campaigns. We lose all sense of courtesy and grace in our desire for a deal. We are the most fortunate and pampered nation on earth and we still don’t get it.
Based on statistics, if you fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of only 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, six people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA.
80 would live in poverty
70 would be illiterate
50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
1 would be dying
1 would be being born
1 would own a computer and one would have a university degree.
If you’ve never experienced the devastation of war, the degradation of prison, the pain of torture, if you were never close to death from hunger, then you are better off than 500 million people.
If you can worship without the fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are more fortunate than 3 billion people.
If you have plenty of food, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the other 99 people.
If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet and a few coins in your pocket, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in your condensed world.
It makes you think doesn’t it?
Some thoughts on the Joachimsthalern.
Yep! The Joachimsthalern.
If things had been a little different we might be saying bet your bottom joachimsthalern or shopping at the Joachimsthalern Store. Believe it or not we get the English word “dollar” from Joachimsthalern.
Back in the 16th century a little valley in Czechoslovakia called Joachimsthal established a mint and made silver and gold coins. They were widely distributed and eventually the Joachimsthal truncated to the “Thaler.”
Over time other European countries patterned their currency units after the “Thaler” and the name evolved to “Taler” and eventually “Daler” in the Nordic cultures.
When we declared our independence from Great Britain, Thomas Jefferson was against tying American currency to the British pound so he wrote that our currency should be patterned after European currency, not the British Pound and the unit would be called the dollar.
Now you know.
Turkey is a traditional dinner today for many Americans. It is a carry over from the pilgrims and their original feast of Thanksgiving when the native bird was plentiful in the wild.
So why do we call it Turkey? There is a reason and as happens so many times, the all-American bird got its name somewhat by mistake.
The tale begins with the British Empire which had stretched itself into Africa during the sixteen hundreds. Along with diamonds the British exported a wild eatable bird back to England, but in order to get the shipment to the British Isles the cargo was routed through Turkey and supposedly that’s how the big bird got its name.
When the sharp eyed settlers spotted a similar winged bird strutting through the American colonies, they called it…Turkey.
Scientists who study these sort of things tell us the bird that lives in Africa, that was imported to Europe by way of Turkey, is not the same bird that is native to America.
Actually we probably ought to call our bird ” Meleagris”. that’s what the turkey is known as in scientific jargon, and that comes from the Greek. In fact, one of the earliest mentions of the Meleagris comes from Aristotle. Just think, if the bird had first been exported from his country we could be sitting down to a Greece dinner with all the trimmings.
The earliest record of any observance of Thanksgiving within the territory that now comprises the United States, was held by the Popham colony settled in Sagadahoe, Maine. That was in 1607.
They did not celebrate the whole day like we do now, then it was just an observance that took a few hours.
The real origin of Thanksgiving as a whole day set aside for prayer and rejoicing is attributed to Governor Bradford, The first governor of the Massachusetts Colony. In gratitude for a plentiful harvest in 1621, he proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving, to be observed on December 13th.
History tells that Governor Bradford also sent out four hunters in search of game and it is here, in 1621, that the turkey makes an early appearance in celebrating the day. The hunters were reportedly more than successful, they bagged so many wild turkey’s it was enough to feed the little colony for a week.
Through the years a thanks-giving was celebrated if there was sufficient reason. Some years there were two celebrations, and other years there was none.
The Continental Congress recommended eight days of Thanksgiving, divided and celebrated in various months, but they were only recommendations, for state governments were far more powerful then and the idea never caught on.
General George Washington issued a couple of proclamations for a Thanksgiving during the revolutionary war, but it was not until 1789, as President, did he issue a proclamation appointing November 26th, as Thanksgiving day, eventually it was celebrated on the last Thursday of November.
Washington’s proclamation, incidentally, was the first ever issued by a President of the United States.
Helping to solve a global or national or even a group problem by individual action seems so insurmountable at times that we often shrug our shoulders with a resignation of helplessness.
There is a way through the constant abyss of need.
Within the human spirit there is an intrinsic, yet often-obscured desire to be of service. Service can be defined as “instantaneous response to need”. We see it all the time in selfless acts of courage when heroic action is spontaneous in saving a life or some other act of bravery. Philosopher Joseph Campbell calls it “a moment when you and the other are one” and nothing could change it even to the point of death.
Somewhere deep within our soul being we acknowledge that we are individuals existing in the illusion of time and within an earthly density of a created and collective oneness. We are individual drops in the amniotic ocean of being. We are the individuation of the indivisible. We subconsciously, spiritually, know that life experience is not singular, but collective and somewhere in our awareness we know that if even one of us minutely achieves, all of us do.
Response to need is a simple process, but difficult to sustain on a daily basis when we have to contend with the duties of living, myopic worry and the ego’s constant harassment for self-aggrandizement. There are ways around the ego’s chicanery, but not many of us choose to be a mystic and master the art of meditation and its precipitate subjugation of the ego self.
So, how to be practical in the request to help?
One way is to believe that “thought” has a power or energy. Good thoughts have positive power and bad thoughts have negative influences. These thoughts, these pieces of energy, can be sent by the mind, in the envelope of good will, to any recipient and it will have an impact. Religions would call it prayer, but holistic physician Dr. Larry Dossey, in his book “Healing Words” calls it a general sense of well being for another and has proven the power of positive thought with scientific experiments.
Our sending energy does not have to be specific, but should have the imprimatur of well-being. Since we are part and parcel of the creating Source, we can leave the specifics of the solving to the omniscience of unconditional love, but the power we create and send through graceful thoughts becomes a free will energy to manifest as solutions, compromises and accomplishments.
Another way to answer the call to help is to do so within our sphere of influence for that too will affect the whole. To the observant not a single day passes without numerous opportunities to serve. There’s the story of the little five-year boy who wanted to help an elderly neighbor whose wife just died. Upon returning home his Mother asked what did he do to help. The child replied, “I sat on his lap and helped him cry”.
Service is as simple as that. Poet William Wordsworth wrote, “…Even the daisy by the shadow it casts, protects the lingering due drop from the sun.
Opportunities abound in each moment for us to be of service. Seeing them is important. Feeling them is even better for empathy is often a greater motivator than intellect. Perform each act of service with the unconditionality of the Source, and the exponential component of service will then manifest for the greater good of all.
I had a conversation with actor Hal Holbrook a couple of years ago. We were discussing his portrayal of American humorist Mark Twain. Holbrook said when he was first doing Twain in the 1960’s he had a hard time looking old enough to be Twain. Holbrook is now in his eighties and said he has a hard time looking young enough to be Twain.
I’ve always like Twain’s The War Prayer which Holbrook does exceedingly well. Twain wrote it around 1905. It was rejected by his publisher and then found after his death among his unpublished manuscripts.
Twain apparently wrote it as an opposition to the Philippines War of 1899-1902.
The whole story is too long for this post, but its essence is not. The story is a messenger from “The Throne”, shows up in a small church that had been praying for victory and safety for their young who are going off to war. The messenger says God wants them to know the unmentioned results, the unspoken part of the prayer, that must follow victory in war.
“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(*After a pause.*) The messenger says, “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”
Twain ends the story with this line. “It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.
JFK. President John F. Kennedy was killed 50 years ago today.
The tributes are always many on the anniversary, but the Kennedy family usually does not participate. They understand and accept the honors paid to the fallen president, but they prefer the memory of JFK be focused on the day of his birth, May 29th, rather than November 22nd, the day of his death.
That may take a long time, for there are so many of us alive today who remember that tragic time 50 years ago. Our children’s children may learn more of his life and philosophy than will recall the day he died. History bears that out.
We honor Lincoln on his birthday and not the day he died, April 15th.
Very few even remember the assassinated 20th president James Garfield and the September 19th he died.
William KcKinley’s assassination day is now forgotten. He died on a September 14th.
It takes time to bury painful living memories, but it must be done so memory can stand without sorrow. The Kennedy family has learned through many tragic experiences, that once you acknowledge the death, you must let it go and honor the life, for only the body dies.