Category: WoW


Slow To Anger


🎡 I have always been slow to anger, and that is a trait we should all aspire to have. I have concluded that anger is addictive, and the more we allow it to the surface, the more addictive it becomes. Some refuse to express disagreement unless angered, and then it spills out like dirty water from a stopped-up rain drain. I’m probably one of those people, and I dislike myself. My new friend (Jerry) has the unique ability to express disagreement without being angry. It stays inside and, like water, with me, slowly raises to a boil. Then, the dam bursts, and everything gets swept away by the steam roiling from my nose and ears. Usually, when that happens, my wife has a shocked look and heads to the room farthest from where I am. Eventually, I realize how badly I’ve behaved and try to calm down. My goal is to be the person who can manage anger, refuse to let it damage relationships, and realize that, even though anger can be a great motivator, it can be very destructive. I am reminded of this quote by John Lennon: “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.” That probably applies to me when I’m in a state of anger 😊.

🎡 A few weeks ago, my wife and I drove out to western Tennessee to attend my oldest great-granddaughter’s high school graduation ceremonies. It had been three years since our last visit because of Covid-19, and I was concerned that my driving skills had eroded (I was 78 years old on our last trip). Fortunately, as we drove almost 2,200 miles, I noticed no decline. As I continue my progression towards ninety, that will certainly occur. I hope my wife, or I notice the decline before it compromises our safety. My plan is to buy a vehicle that drives itself within a few years, removing the possibility of me making a crucial mistake that could harm us or someone else. My wife is reluctant to take the chance, but tests show they are much safer (7 times) than cars driven by humans, and that should be even more true as time progresses. I remember driving down one of our local streets back when I was in my thirties, and the car in front of me was just creeping along. And as I passed him, I could tell he was in his eighties, just tall enough to see the road through the steering wheel. I remember thinking that he was too old to be driving. Now, I’m getting close to being that guy 😊. Of course, all of us don’t age at the same rate. Many of us are fortunate enough to keep our sight, hearing, and flexibility; others are not so fortunate. I am blessed by not spending one night in a hospital. I know that can change, but I also need to be aware of it as a blessing. Socrates said so eloquently, “The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.” I do not want to be evil.

🎡 Our friends (Richard & Nancy) recently gave us a box full of CDs. There are approximately one hundred of them, and I have been slowly going through the box, listening to each CD, and then copying it to my music library if it was one that I enjoyed. They recently needed to downsize their collection of “stuff” because they moved into our retirement center, hence my reason for having their music collection. I predict I will keep about a third of their collection and give the rest to our local thrift store for someone else to enjoy. I entertained the thought of how many of my CDs they would keep if I put them all in a box? The vast majority of my music is Country, and I have yet to find a single Country album in their collection, so I’m guessing they would not keep many. This confirms my conclusion that none of us pick our friends based on musical taste. I have a few friends that enjoy Country music, and we often attend concerts together.

Back in the nineties, someone gave my wife and me free tickets to a “Soul” concert at the local Coliseum. I was miserable for the entire show, not seeing one act that I enjoyed. People that like that type of music would probably avoid hillbilly music. I do not want to be critical of “Soul” music; it’s just not something I enjoy. I enjoy many types of music, but Soul and Rap have failed to capture my attention. I’m inclined to think it’s a generational thing. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” ~ William Shakespeare. Yeah, that’s probably me 😊.

🎡 I have a new friend in our retirement community (Mary/Mike) that recently celebrated her birthday with her twin brother. They were born and raised in Canada. Her brother is wealthy, so he had a private plane fly down from Canada to Virginia, get her and her husband, and fly them back to Canada for a big celebration. A chauffeured car picked them up at the airport and whisked them off to a hotel. They stayed in the hotel’s best room and had plenty of fun. As Mary told us her story, I could sense the pride she had in her brother, that he had succeeded far past their expectations. Our H.S. class of 1959 had a member that far exceeded our expectations. Jimmy is living the good life, and not one member of our class begrudges his success. He has been kind to us, his classmates, by hosting our reunions at his home and in the pavilion on his golf course, never charging us a cent. The odd thing is that we have classmates who became doctors, teachers, and school principals, and yet, Jimmy is perhaps the most revered among us. He was a good friend in high school, and I remember taking him to pick up a brand-new school bus when he became a school bus driver. I think he was making about $250/month, which was a lot back then. I should not have been surprised by his success; he was always looking for ways to make money as a youngster.

I believe the point I’m trying to make is that people that have reached the top tier in society still care about others, still want to be treated as ordinary people, and are willing to go out of their way to be kind to others, especially those they care about. We all have seen influential people in the media being obstinate. Here, we have an example of two powerful people that are kind and generous to a fault. I believe this is true: “If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror.” …Shane Koyczan      

I believe both Jimmy, & Mary’s brother, do not need a better mirror.  


Will You Remember Me?


🎡 “Have I done anything to make people remember that I ever lived?” Old Able uttered that line to a lawyer friend upon his inquiry on whether Abe intended to commit suicide. He intended to convey to his friend that he did not want to leave this world without having done something to be remembered by. Of course, we know how that turned out. I would guess that many of us consider George Washington the best president we’ve had, and Abe would be number two. Perhaps some people in the deep south would disagree, but historians in 2021 ranked the top three presidents: 1. Abraham Lincoln (897 points), 2. George Washington (851), and 3. Franklin Roosevelt (841). The bottom four: Donald Trump, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and last was James Buchanan. The only president with his coffin draped with a Confederate flag was John Tyler.

Sorry, I veered off course, but the idea I was exploring is that most of us want to be remembered for something meaningful instead of only being memories in the minds of those who loved us. In my defense, I spent a lot of time earning a living, raising two kids, and ensuring the people I loved had what they needed and some of what they wanted. I wonder if Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, and all the other great people in our past could become famous now? Of course, they could! There will be things that need to be invented or accomplished until the end of time. Most of us have done unique things in our lifetime, just not anything that would make us famous. 

During our time on this precious planet, I think our goal should always be to strive to do what is right, be generous and kind to others, and see the joys often hidden away in small pockets.

 A few days ago, my daughter fell down the stairs of her townhouse and broke several bones, including her pelvis. As she and I discussed her injuries in the hospital, she said to me, “Daddy, you know I have been blessed in this tragedy!” The blank look on my face revealed that I didn’t understand what she meant. She continued, “You realize that I could have broken my neck and been paralyzed from the neck down to my toes?” She had seen what I had failed to see: she was suffering from wounds that would heal, but it could have been from injuries that remain forever, like paralysis. 

Most of us will indeed cross “The Bridge of Tears” without accomplishing anything that will make people remember we ever lived. Scientists have discovered that our minds are active for about four minutes after we stop breathing. They think we will remember our lives and reconcile whether we did anything worth remembering during that time. I’m more inclined to believe that I’ll be thinking about the loved ones I’m leaving behind, especially the ones that need me. I believe in what Robert A. Heinlein said, “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” I have found that to be profoundly true.

🎡 Many of us know aggressively friendly people. Some say the average person can have about 150 friends at once (I don’t 😊), and friends are defined as people you are comfortable around. My wife is one of those people. Several of our friends (Mary Webb, Mary Beth, & Jane S) are also. 

In her book “Aggressively Friendly,” Robin Dunbar says we have around fifteen close friends, people you go out to dinner with or are everyday social companions. Within that group, five are your most intimate friends. These are people who will give you emotional, physical, and financial help in your time of need. These friends typically share many traits you have in common, i.e., musical taste, love of sports, political opinions, worldviews, and a sense of humor.

When you meet new people, you get to know them, and then you figure out which circle they belong in or decide if you want them as a friend at all. Some say that it takes about 45 hours of being present in another person’s company to move from acquaintance to friend. To move from casual friend to meaningful friend takes another 50 hours, and then to an intimate friend takes another one hundred hours. 

We devote 8 ½ hours per month to our five closest friends and about 2 hours to the next ten in our fifteen-person circle. We give less than twenty minutes each month to the rest of our 135 friends. 

Since moving into our retirement community, my wife and I have made many friends, but I seriously doubt we have 150. And I was unaware of the process quoted above. It all makes sense, but do we really go through something similar when choosing our friends? We all know, of course, that none of that applies to family. The family has a “free pass” in being part of our life. I do have family members that I’m closer to than others. Still, they are all welcomed as members of my family circle. 

Zelda Fitzgerald said, “Nobody has measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” I have room for 150 friends in my heart, but I doubt anywhere close to that many people want me as a friend 😊.

🎡 At the top of the list, the most commonly used word is “the.” Others like “and,” “that,” and “but” are scattered thru the rest of the list. The most written noun is “time,” verb,” be,” and the adjective is “good.” 

I seldom think of how much I use those words. Each day, as I prepare to scribble my thoughts, I try carefully to articulate them in a fashion that chases boredom into another room, afraid to emerge until I’m finished. To aid me in that endeavor, I use several pieces of software, and my most trusted proofreader is my wife. As she and I were exiting the side garage door, headed to the dining room in our retirement village, our next-door neighbor (Jack) stopped me and said that he enjoyed my missives and wondered how I took the mundane and made it enjoyable. He remarked that I was a talented writer. My good friend is unaware that I get a lot of help. I wrote my first thoughts on a blog website way back in 1998. I am not sure what it was about, but I have written for 24 years. My website (www.tommyhale.com) has my missives back to 2007. My original intent was to write for my family. Still, it has grown into much more than that, and I have readers scattered worldwide. For an old hillbilly from Grundy (VA), that makes me feel good. As a high school literature student in Ms. Simpson’s class, I remember trying to express my thoughts on paper. The best grade I could get was a “B.” She was always trying to motivate me to do better. She and my mother were good friends, so I knew she was sincere in her attempts to get me to do better. Several of her students are published, authors. She loved Shakespeare and insisted that we all take turns reading a page from his plays. I distinctly remember my fears growing as the reading responsibility moved student by student in my direction. My fear of speaking in public chased me for many years until my position in the company I worked for forced me to teach a class every week for several months. Slowly, I came to realize that overcoming that fear only required repetition. I later learned that the fear would return if you go a long period without doing it. Like anything else you do well, you have to do it often. 

Mary Sarton said, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” That is what we all should strive to be….Tommy


Seeing My Younger Self


🎡 Every morning, I quietly get out of bed, trying not to disturb my wife’s sleep, slip on my clothes and head down the hall to the coffeepot waiting patiently in the kitchen. I press the “Start” button twice. It begins its steady progression to 210°, the same temperature that Starbucks uses for coffee (the night before, I carefully measured the coffee that went into the basket and the amount of water to use). I then head to our bathroom to wash my face, comb my hair and shave.
Each morning, as I stare into the mirror, I search for the 18-year-old me, the young guy who wallowed in the richness of life and all the potential it offered. And worried about nothing. Content with whatever came his way. I can tell he is still in there somewhere because I sometimes see glimpses of him, and then he’s gone. I miss that carefree guy, and sometimes I try, with little success, to emulate him.
Instead, what I see in my mirror is a guy way past his prime, with quite a few well-earned lines scattered willy-nilly across his face. His eyes are still a deep brown, with a hint of glint, indicative of an optimistic view of his future. The 18-year-old me believed there were only better days ahead. The person I am today is just trying to hold on to what he has, knowing the potential for unwanted issues lies just around the corner.
Practically, I know that young man will never return, that it’s a pipe dream to contemplate such a thing happening. However, it still gives me joy to know that he’s in there, somewhere, and that he allows me to see him now and then. I like what Michael Altschuler said, “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.”


🎡 From all appearances, winter is over; daffodils, tulips, and forsythia are in full blossom. There are buds on all the trees. My wife is busily working in her flower gardens, as happy as one could be. I love to watch her work with the beautiful things that grow around our home. She has a natural touch with plants, and, in her presence, their goal is to impress her with their splendor and magnificence. Some people have the proverbial “Green Thumb,” but most of us, I suspect, do not. My father was a talented gardener because we always had plenty to eat of whatever he put in the two or three of his gardens each year. I tried my hand at it when I was in my fifties and quickly learned that my thumb was not the right color.
We have a section in our retirement community called the “Funny Farm,” where residents can have a small plot to raise vegetables. I have not reserved a plot because I neither have the time nor patience for such an endeavor. Knowing we could buy a tomato for less than the cost of raising one also factored into it. We often walk by the “Funny Farm” and always admire the gardens that grow there. Ahhh, this would be a perfect place for my dad and grandpa to retire. George Washington said it best: “For it is a fixed principle with me, that whatever is done should be done well.” I somewhat agree with old George. I also realize you might’ve thought the name of our retirement center was “Funny Farm” 😊.


🎡 The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has started, and it is always one of my favorite times of the year. I am an ACC fan, but I also pull for Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Those three teams have family connections, so we always cheer for them to win. There have been some disappointments, with Kentucky (#2 seed) losing to Saint Peter’s (#15 seed) and Virginia Tech (#11 seed) yielding to Texas (#6 seed). But there are still a lot of exciting games to be played, and the tourney doesn’t end until April 4th. We get to watch some fantastic athletes dazzle us with their basketball prowess during that time. The experts say the best team in the tourney is Gonzaga, a small Jesuit University in Spokane, Washington. They have a powerhouse basketball team every year and always play well in the tournament. Since 2015, their earliest exit was in the “Sweet 16” in 2016 & 2018. They have never won the tourney. I’m sure my good friend Nancy B knows much more about the tourney stats, and I’m confident she watches more of the games. Her favorite team (Va. Tech) is out now, so some of the shine may be gone for her 😊.
I think it’s fun to watch the young play sports. As a young guy playing high school football and basketball, I never understood how the game fascinated the adults in our community. I now know they enjoyed the enthusiasm and excitement it generated. Humankind has always enjoyed games, back to the Romans and beyond. The primary motivation could be that games distract us from the plainness of our everyday lives, give us something to cheer for, and make life enjoyable. We always need that.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are but tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” Well said, Ralph.

🎡 Well, it appears as if we are in decent shape as far as containing our Covid-19 crisis. I noticed in today’s paper that recent daily cases are down to 29,650 in the USA. Sadly, we have lost 975,000 lives because of the pandemic, and worldwide, we have lost over six million lives. By far, the costliest tragedy in human life was World War II (1939-45). The total fatalities, including battle deaths and civilians of all countries in that war, are estimated at 56.4 million people. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been devastating. Still, it has not progressed to the use of nuclear weapons. If we get into a nuclear war with Russia, that total will pale in comparison. Life as we know it will be forever changed. As badly as I want our country to help Ukraine, I expect President Biden to refuse to get us involved to that point. Vladimir Putin has revealed himself to the world as a despicable human being. After watching Hitler kill so many, people all over the globe vowed they would never sit idly by and let it happen again. But the risks are too high, the Russians have weapons that Hitler didn’t, and they are much deadlier. There will be no winner in this war. The citizens of Russia should have maintained the term limits of their president. Not doing so allowed him to become too powerful, which is never good. We can hope for successful peace negotiations: Ukraine agrees not to seek entry into NATO, and Russia stops its senseless bombing and pulls its army back to the borders before the war starts. I do not expect that to happen, but I would be grateful if it did. Unfortunately, what I suspect will happen is that Ukraine will eventually fall to the Russians, and guerrilla warfare will continue for years.
Sadly, as it appears, we can never confront a bully that has an arsenal of nuclear weapons for fear of him destroying our civilization. The possibility of a nuclear war before Russia invaded Ukraine was close to zero. Now, we are much farther away from that number, enough to have the entire world’s population on alert to a potential tragedy. As Jack Kornfield said, “Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.”


Adding Insult to Injury


🎡 A few days ago, my wife and I moved some items from our garage floor into the attic. The items were seasonal, and they were just in the way as we walked in and out. I have always insisted that she stay off the ladder that pulls down from the ceiling because I’m afraid she will fall. At our age, ladders are always dangerous, so we avoid them whenever we can. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults age 65 and older.
If someone needs to be on the ladder, it’s going to be me. I had just placed an item in the attic and was backing down when she mistakenly came up to hand me an object. I stepped on her hand and heard a crunch. I looked down and was horrified! I’m thinking that I broke every bone in her hand. She let out a scream as I quickly raised my foot.
Suddenly, my concern turned to anger, and I started fussing at her for being on the ladder. I have asked her several times not to climb it without me in a position to catch her if she should fall. My anger continued for several minutes until I realized how seriously I hurt her. My anger immediately turned into concern and regret. Now, I have added insult to injury, as she stands there holding her hand, nearly in tears.
Fortunately, no bones were broken, but she bruises easily, and her hand now sports a large black and blue spot. Every time I see it, I’m reminded of that secret place within me I don’t like. The place that rears its ugly head and tries to shift blame from me to others. I work hard to keep it locked away, but it watches for any opportunity to break free. When it escapes and unleashes its wrath, I’m left with guilt for weeks, wondering how I will contain that monster for good. That character flaw may be a trait a lot of us have. I have seen it in others, but believed I had conquered it in myself. It turns out the demon is alive and well.
Sigmund Freud said, “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” That’s something I need to do more often.


🎡 I have been taking a yoga class for about three months, and I must admit that it has been good for me. Our instructor (Rose) is a delightful person and well versed in her craft. She appears to be in her fifties and is as limber as one of those large blow-up plastic characters you see beside the road, weaving all over the place. Her balance seems perfect, and she can sit on the floor and touch her toes as easily as a frog can jump from one Lily pad to another. She sits in the Lotus position comfortably and, apparently, could stay there for hours.
I’m telling you some things she can do because those are my goals as well. I know she does those things many days each week. That is a beautiful, healthy place to be in your life. As I attempt to sit in the Lotus position (legs folded in front), within a few minutes, my body aches, and I strongly need to open my legs and stretch them briskly. About 50 minutes later, she has us lay on our back, hands by our side, and listen to her as she instructs us to close our eyes and relax for a few minutes. I have dozed during that time. Before yoga, I could never imagine that I would be capable of lying on the floor and sleeping. Because of yoga, I am more flexible, have virtually no hip pain, and my balance is much better. I remember telling my wife, “Real men don’t do yoga.” Thankfully, I now know better than to utter those unkind words. Rose informed me that yoga was originally intended for men only. The father of modern yoga was from India and died in 1989. It would be a challenge to say his name: Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.
Thomas Jefferson said, “Without health, there is no happiness. An attention to health, then, should take the place of every other object.” Wise word from old Thomas.


🎡 Recently, I invited my friend Ken to our home to have a jamming session. I have been playing the guitar for about 25 years (woefully inadequate), and this was my very first “Jam session.” Our wives joined us halfway through the two-hour session and politely praised our effort. He and I are about the same age and have a similar love of playing the guitar. He plays much better than I, plus he sings. Both of us enjoy “Country” music, so mainly three chords and some nasal singing get us through most of the selected songs. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I hope we will do it again soon.
I read an article several years ago that said the best time to learn to play a musical instrument is between seven and seventeen. I started in my mid-fifties, so I was a little behind the curve on that effort. My wife and I attended a show in our retirement community the other night that featured a three-piece band (guitar, bass, & drums), playing Roy Orbison, Johnny Rivers, and Carl Perkins songs. About seventy-five gray heads bobbled around, and the songs from the 60s & 70s filled the room with joy. The guitar player was the lead singer. He did an excellent job imitating Roy Orbison as I watched his fingers moving impressively up and down the guitar’s neck. Now, he wasn’t ready for the big time, but he was very entertaining. Roy Orbison wore sunglasses, and the singer gleefully informed us that Roy’s eyes weren’t bad. Well, I looked it up online, and here is what I found: plagued by poor eyesight his entire life, Orbison left his regular glasses on a plane before his show started but had a pair of dark glasses with him as he wasn’t able to see without them, Roy kept wearing the dark glasses purely to navigate his life, and it eventually became his trademark.
The singer in the show we attended probably assumed that older people do not know how to fact-check? Ah, heck, he’s probably at some other retirement community spreading incorrect information about Roy, who passed away in 1988.


🎡 I took my wife to Kroger’s grocery store after we completed our regular 2-mile walk last Friday. I let her out at the door and went to park the Prius. As I got out of the car and headed for the Starbucks inside, a young woman ahead of me got out of her car and headed inside as well. The temps were in the low 40s, and the wind made it feel colder. This young lady had on a pair of cutoff jeans and a tight short-sleeve shirt that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Throw in that she was very attractive, and you have a head-jerker that could cause whiplash. I was worried that she would turn around to see me watching her stroll towards the door. I know she dressed to attract the gaze of younger men, but when you go fishing, you never know the type, nor size, of the fish that will bite your bait. She seemed totally unaware that every man in the parking lot was looking her way. She had to be cold. I was, and I had on a scarf, jacket, and hat. She may wear what she wants, but she needs to understand it will attract stares. I mentioned it to my wife as we left the parking lot heading home, and she had seen the young woman in the store and noticed she was thinly dressed. As warmer weather approaches, I’m confident we will see the young people among us shed their clothes. That young lady will then be less noticeable. I guess that if you want to be noticed, you need to be among the first 😊.
Orson Welles famously said, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” Well, this is where I stop my story.


What’s Behind The Curtain?


🎡My wife and I have made a lot of new friends recently. Last year, we moved to a retirement center with about 450 of us old people strolling around a vast compound. We have been here for ten months, which has given us plenty of time to create friendships. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I realized one day that what I know about someone is only what they want me to know, and the same is true for them. They only know about me the information I give them. They have absolutely no idea of what goes on “behind the curtain.” I have friends who are caretakers of their spouses who require their attention 24 hours every day (I read recently that one in five people are caregivers). I know people that are fighting cancer, have eyesight problems, and like me, deal with the difficulties of getting old. Sadly, the health of caregivers fails to get the attention it needs.

After dinner the other night, I sat down beside a woman in the lounge that is 101 years old. She looks terrific to be that age, but she complained she was bored most of the time. Her day comprises watching TV, eating, and sleeping. I know she is always waiting outside the large room set aside for nightly entertainment (which happens several times weekly). A few weeks ago they had a seventeen-year-old boy singing songs by Frank Sinatra and other well-known singers from many years ago. He made a splash with the women, stopping to sing to them personally. When he stopped to sing to my wife, she had the biggest ole smile on her face. I love watching her smile, it always warms my heart ❤️. There is also a room used for movies and most of them are at least 20+ years old. One night “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock was on. I watched that movie while in high school in the late 1950s 😊, but for many of us, we don’t remember, so it doesn’t really matter.

Anyway, back to only knowing what people want you to know about them. Very few people know I grieve almost daily about losing my only son three years ago, or that I worry about losing my only remaining child because of her health problems. Many of us have secrets we hold close to the vest, seldom letting them see the light of day. A friend told me recently that she was ready to pass over to the other side. I was shocked, not understanding that her life at this stage was so unfulfilling. I think the disbelief was because she seemed happy, appeared in good health, had an interesting personality, and a caring attitude. The fear is if it could happen to her, could it happen to me?

I know that I have to look for happiness in the smallest places. A cup of Starbucks coffee raises my spirits, taking a trip back to my hometown (Grundy, VA) always makes me feel happy for weeks. Flying my drone in the common area behind our cottage makes me smile. Taking my truck to the carwash, then vacuuming the inside, brightens my day (I enjoy seeing my truck looking good). Attending the little resident get-togethers we have in the gazebo outback always brightens my day. Having dinner with our friends Jerry & Ruth helps make the day better. For some unknown reason, he always makes me smile. I think everybody needs a friend like him. Throw in our friends Nancy & Richard, and you have a recipe for a beautiful conversation.

There are so many places to look for happiness. We all, as kids, had Easter Egg hunts and as adults, we need to have Happiness” hunts. It’s not a challenging game to play, and the rules are simple; find something to do, someone to talk to, someplace to go. Life cannot get any simpler than that 😊.

Havelock Ellis famously said, “The promised land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.” Sad, but true.

⚾ I was recently encouraged to add chess as another hobby to enjoy as a pastime endeavor. Never mind that I haven’t played that challenging game in 50 years. As I recall, the year was 1972 and my young family of four were headed to Alabama on vacation to watch the NASCAR race at the new Talladega Superspeedway, and then on to a small town outside Dallas, TX, where my 12-year-old son was born. During that trip, I taught him the game of chess, and within six months, he was soundly thrashing his dad. He eventually became a chess whiz on his high school chess team, winning many tournaments. I have not played chess since then. Currently, my record is one win and three losses. I’m hoping to get better. The good thing about the game is that it makes me think hard. I haven’t had to do that in a long time, so I’m guessing it’s good for me.

I think the following quote applies to my situation: “Hope is the only good that is common to all men; those who have nothing else possess hope still.” ~ Thales. That probably describes me pretty well 😊!

⚾Joan Didion said, “You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.”  I gave that some thought, trying to determine what she was talking about, and concluded that it’s about picking fights carefully. I’m certainly guilty of failing to do that very thing. Or, she may mean not walking away from important things to pursue. Our church constantly needs financial support, and they ask for money often. Sometimes, I get annoyed that they aren’t monitoring their spending carefully. Still, it is a worthwhile cause, and we put aside our grumblings and help. It is difficult to ignore our preconceived notions about how an organization should be managed, or how our family and friends should make the same decisions we would make. I have concluded that you most likely aren’t doing much of anything if you don’t make mistakes. That may be overly simplistic, but there is a kernel of truth there. If I dared to look back over the mistakes I’ve made in my lifetime, depression would set in, and I would stay there for days. Joan is right. Pick your battles carefully and only engage when the stakes are high.

🎡 Winter is almost over, spring is just around the corner, and I’m relieved that in a few short weeks, flowers will bloom, the grass will turn green, and the temps will start warming up. My spirits always rise just a bit when that happens. I no longer take the seasons for granted because I’m more aware there aren’t an endless number of seasons left for me. That critical fact makes them more meaningful and enjoyable. Aside from that, the upcoming spring/summer allows us to resume our travels. Covid cases in our town dropped from 1,000 weekly to 30 this past week. Our retirement community no longer requires us to wear a mask in most places, making life much easier. It is so much more enjoyable to hold a conversation when you can see the entirety of a person’s face.

Are we getting to where we can treat Covid as an endemic instead of a pandemic? From all I have read and been told, that is a possibility. What a joy it will be to get back to a semblance of normal, but we have to be careful. We thought the same thing last summer and then everything changed for the worse, and we went back to face mask mandates and a booster shot. Heaven forbid that happens again! My wife and I have been fortunate during this fearful and depressing time. So far, neither of us has been exposed to that dreadful and deadly virus. We feel blessed, and we love the life we live, even as the restrictions of the past two years required us to shelter in place. We will wear a mask when we have to enter an airport, people from all over the world come and go, or when we are in an area with high transmission rates. I think that is mostly places where the vaccination rate is low. We also will also wear one when we are around friends and family that are immunocompromised. Somehow, we will get through this terrible time, but I do regret that at our age we have to give up so much of the measured time we have left to stroll around on this beautiful planet.

That brings to mind a Tom Waits quote, “All that you’ve loved is all you own.” This pandemic has reinforced Tom’s sage advice.         ….Tommy


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