A field now lost to time

a field now lost to time

The sun was a white burst without shape in the sky, and crickets sang all around, and the green of the plants was pale, and bees and bugs hummed away minding their own business all about. A path led from one street to the church parking lot and to the other street a block away – not an alley or any straight path built by man, just a path worn by child feet meandering from here to there looking for beetles or bottle caps or any other such wonder as might be found.

It was the times when the only agenda was to discover what’s out there, to explore what there was to explore, and if nothing came of today’s exploration, no matter, because there would be more exploration and more discovery tomorrow. No greater good because this was as great as could be. And it WAS good – or not – I don’t recall judgments being made.

The field is gone now. What would you expect? It’s 60 years later. Those who were once 5 years old and exploring have blazed through careers to retirement, and those who were 35 and moms are loving their great-grandchildren or they are gone, and those who were 65 and retiring are long ago at rest, and this generation of bees and bugs is somewhere else.

Somewhere else, then, a little girl or boy runs across a field alive with crickets and buzzing noises and marvels at a butterfly in wonder, and discoveries are made all over again in a circle old as time – although, time never ages, does it? And 60 years from now, will the child’s field be paved over and forgotten? Or will she, sitting with her pen and/or tablet, describe a memory with words that echo through the centuries and touch a heart that sees the pale green field, and a child running, all over again?

My field was alongside a Methodist church, and the town was Little Falls, New Jersey, but the reader sees it with different eyes and recollections, so it could be anywhere that crickets sing and beetles leap and bees hum about, a green oasis from the mad covering we called civilization.


The most dangerous man

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable …”

― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices, Third Series

Beware the Ides

Saturday Stories #8

A public square, people walking, vehicles buzzing past.

“Beware the Ides of September!” cried the old bearded man, boring his wild eyes deep into the stranger’s soul, and then, as the stranger stared at him confused, stepped forward and shouted this time: “Beware the Ides of September!”

“Don’t you mean March? Caesar’s death and all that?” asked the stranger, perhaps a bit condescending, perhaps a bit amused.

“Six months on. The assassins fall in among themselves,” said the crazy one. “Your sins shall find you out. Beware the Ides of September.”

‘Well, I haven’t killed any emperors lately,” said the stranger, smugly now. “I think I’m safe.”

“It’s the ones who think they’re safe who are in the most danger,” the mad prophet snapped. “Beware, I tell thee. Beware the Ides of September!”

“Poppycock,” said the stranger, and stepped in front of a dump truck bearing the name Ides & Sons Gravel and Excavating.

If you can keep going, keep going

if you can keep going

Last night was one of those football games people will remember for years. Losing 20-0 at one point, the Green Bay Packers rallied around injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers to beat the Chicago Bears 24-23. It was one of those defining moments that adds to The Legend of Aaron Rodgers, with a host of lead-by-examples – as Churchill is said to have said, “Never, never, never give up.” If you can keep going, keep going.

It seemed Rodgers’ return, even limping, inspired the rest of the team. “If he can come back and play, I can block better so he’s not hit again. I can catch that ball. I can keep the Bears from making that first down.” The team that played the second half was more energized and more focused on winning every moment than the team that played the first half.

If you can keep going, keep going. Rodgers did say the doctors told him he would not make the injury worse by playing on it, so there is that cautionary caveat – but if you can keep going, keep going. Play the game as hard as you can until the final whistle, and you just may overcome every hurdle. If by chance you do fall short, at least you know you gave it all you had. In this case, all they had was just enough.

Resolve to stop wasting energy

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It’s become my theme of the week, I guess …

“When a nation expects the worst from its people and institutions and its experts focus exclusively on faults, hope dies …

“Fault-finding expends so much negative energy that nothing is left over for positive action. It takes courage and strength to solve the genuine problems that afflict every society. Sure, there will always be things that need fixing. But the question is, Do you want to spend your time and energy tearing things down or building them up?”

— from the “Optimism” chapter in Hope from My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life by Rich DeVos, 2000.

Earlier in the same chapter is this gem that echoes my posts of the last few days, as well: “If you expect good things to happen, they usually do.”

Inevitably making comments like this leads to responses over who started it and how everyone else is doing it. I hear Mom’s words echoing through the ages: “Maybe he started it, but you can finish it,” and of course, “If everyone else jumped over a cliff, would you jump, too?”

Finish each day

finish each day - web

Finish every day and be done with it … You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.

To-morrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the rotten yesterdays.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, a letter to his daughter quoted in A Memoir of Ralph Waldo Emerson by James Elliot Cabot, Vol. II, 1887.

‘It’s not for me’

I’ve re-read Steven Pressfield’s indispensable book The War of Art twice this year, this time during the last leg of my East Coast trip. The book is indispensable for its sound advice on the difference between an amateur artist and a professional, and for its treatment of what Pressfield calls Resistance, the force within us all that keeps us from following through on our grandest plans and dreams – you know, “I don’t have time for writing the Great American Novel,” “Once I finish this class or have enough money I’ll work on that,” “I could be working on this but the game is on,” etc. etc. Continue reading →