♥️ ”No one is so old as to think that he cannot live one more year.” ~ Cicero
I ran across that quote the other day and I completely agree with it. The exception would be for someone that is very sick, or very unhappy. Many of us have gone thru traumatic periods in our lives that prompted us to wish it would end swiftly. I was in my mid-forties when it happened to me. My two children were grown and out on their own, and their mother and I were empty nesters. She was struggling with some serious psychological problems. I was unhappy at work, and life just seemed to crash down on top of me. Suicide never crossed my mind, but I remember thinking that if I were killed instantly in a car wreck, I wouldn’t be unhappy with the results. Of course, if you’re dead, there’s a good possibility you will not have those thoughts.
Fortunately, I was spared, and within 5-6 years, my life changed dramatically, and I seldom look back. The problem was that I was insistent on fixing the broken aspects of my life and unwilling to admit defeat.
One of my core beliefs is that if you try hard enough, most problems can be resolved, and that theory still hides deep within me. But I finally realized that some things are so broken they can never be put back together again. It happens in about every aspect of our life and it’s important that we understand when the time comes to stop trying. If the vase has a chip or two, then we can repair it, but if it’s broken into tiny pieces, then possibly we need to sweep it into the dustpan and move on.
What I am certain of is that life will continue to present me with problems, and I’m expected to produce solutions. I believe I have gotten better at determining what’s fixable. At least, that’s the theory I’m toying with now. I think old Georg was right when he said:
“Death is like an arrow that is already in flight, and your life lasts only until it reaches you.” ~ Georg Hermes
♥️ I have this app on my smartphone called “Marco Polo” that allows me to exchange videos with my three granddaughters scattered all over the place. It also allows me to stay connected with my two teenage great-granddaughters. I’ve been using its free version and recently decided to upgrade to the paid version ($10/month). That upgrade also allowed me to add five additional members to my plan, free of charge. So, I included my five Great/Granddaughters. With the features I have now, I can create a “Group,” and make a video, and send it to all of them. How cool is that?
With this app, you cannot talk to each other in real time. You create a video and send it, then they create another video and send it back. I guess you’re wondering why I’m so excited when we can’t talk live. Well, the way I look at this is it’s texting on steroids. They (my grands) get to see me talking to them. You, of course, remember the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, this is exactly what I’m doing. When you love someone as much as I love them, seeing them in a video just warms my heart. Now, I want you to tell me where you can go to get your heart warmed for $10 bucks?
You’re wondering how much Marco is paying me to talk about them? Just a minute… let me look in my pocket…. hmmm, still empty! Yup, just wanted to tell you about this wonderful way I’ve found to stay in touch with the people I love and care about. The free version works fine if you don’t want to pay for the Plus version. I’m hoping my friends will put it on their phone and we can exchange videos. I have some old high school buddies that I stay in touch with, and it would be a lot of fun to do that with them, especially with this Covid thing putting a damper on visits.
C. S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gives value to survival.”
♥️ I drove by our former home of 25 years the other day to see if it had changed very much and it looked much the same as when we departed back in late April of this year. It’s probably not a good idea to go over there very much, mainly because it was hard to give up our life there. My wife seems to have little interest in making that visit, primarily I suspect, because it would hurt some. Most assuredly, our current home isn’t as comfortable as the one we left, but neither does it require the upkeep.
Looking back over my life of many years, I have made several more momentous changes and most of them worked out pretty well, so there’s good reason to believe this change will as well. I think the hardest decision was giving up on my 32 years of marriage to the mother of my children and the easiest was marrying the woman that accompanies me thru the life I live now.
All of us encounter forks in the road at various times in our life, and we can always look back and speculate about what would happen had we made a different decision. The important thing to remember is that we made the best decision we could at that time in our life. Golfers often get one “Mulligan”, a chance to hit an errant ball again without penalty, in a game with friends. Life never gives us that opportunity. We have to live with our decisions and actions and suffer their consequences and rewards. Douglas Adams said, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” That sounds about right for me.
♥️ My wife and I want to wish all of you, dear friends, a healthy and happy Thanksgiving. We have invited several members of our family to join us for Thanksgiving dinner and, given the restrictions of the past 20 months, it will be a joyous occasion. I read an article today that said 80% of all Americans are vaccinated, and that is really great news. Now, if we can convince the remaining 20% to be immunized, we can start treating Covid as we treat the flu. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
♥ Have you ever given any thought to how the different days of the week feel? I remember as a teenager how I always looked forward to Friday nights and the “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports” boxing matches (1942-1960). We got our first TV in 1951 (Philco 12”) and every Friday night our family watched the fights. So, Friday was always, to my younger brother and me, a day filled with anticipation. When I started dating at age 15, I spent my Friday evenings at my girlfriend’s home. As an adult in the workforce, that day was always the harbinger of the weekend and the excitement that followed.
Sunday mornings always had a good feeling. As a young boy, we had breakfast early and dressed for Sunday School and church. My mother always put a nickel in our hands, and my brother and I would walk down the hill to church, less than two minutes away. In the afternoon, we would go to the nearest town (Grundy) and watch the latest movie at the Lynwood theater. My mother always looked forward to that, and she was especially pleased if it was a musical. She could watch musicals until the sun went down the woodchuck hole. As an adult, I always dreaded Sunday evenings because I sensed the closeness of Monday morning. It was always so until I retired, then not so much 😊.
I can mostly tell the days during the week because we walk trails on three of them, and I go to the gym on the other two. Without that schedule, I would be unable to discern which day it could be. That happens a lot with old, retired people.
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” — Crowfoot
♥ Back in December 2019, I bought a drone, and a very good one at that. It has all the latest technology, the ability to avoid objects, to return home on its own when the battery gets low, and it even has a mode that allows it to focus on me and follow wherever I go.
I have watched many videos on how to fly that thing, and I’m getting fairly confident in handling it, or at least I thought I was. My grandson (bonus grandson-Brandon) was at our cottage the other day helping us with some chores, and I took him out to the shared common area behind our cottage and showed him how to operate it. Within twenty minutes, his skill level had surpassed mine. He turns twenty-seven this month, so that’s understandable. 😊. I have nick-named the drone, “The Eagle” because of my first successful takeoff and landing, i.e., “Houston, the Eagle has landed.” I am mindful that some of my neighbors may be annoyed with it flying around our neighborhood, thinking it’s “Big Brother,” or some nosey person spying on them. When, in fact, it’s just an old guy trying to add some excitement to his life by developing new skills and trying to look beyond his current surroundings in ways he’s never had the opportunity to do before. I must admit, I am awaiting a call from the CEO of our retirement community telling me that drone flying is not permissible on campus. I hope he doesn’t do that but, somehow, I suspect he will. However, until he does, the commander of Battlestar Galactica will continue flying missions up to five miles away (the distance limit of The Eagle).
Marcus Garvey said,” Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences”. I’m desperately trying to be that guy 😊.
🧡 The other night my wife and I watched one of my favorite movies, “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,” a 1966 Italian Spaghetti Western movie starring Clint Eastwood (the Good), Lee Van Cleef (the Bad) and Eli Wallach (the Ugly). It is the third and final film in the “Dollars Trilogy” and was most responsible for making Clint a movie star. They filmed it in Spain, and it made him financially successful. The other two movies in the trilogy are, “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More.” I had forgotten the movie was three hours long, so it definitely made us late getting into bed. As I sat there watching it, the thought crossed my mind that I was 25 years old when it hit the big screen, and now look at me, an old man watching movies from his youth trying to glimpse what life was like at that age. The night before, we watched Clint’s latest movie, “Cry Macho.” It’s a tale of him going into Mexico to bring back the 13-year-old son of his employer (Dwight Yoakum). A couple of days ago, we watched another of Clint’s movies, “Pale Rider” (1985). As you can see, we are on a Clint Eastwood roll.
We are ready to move on to other things to watch on TV. I have the recorder setup to catch Ken Burns’ new effort on PBS tonight (Sunday 9/19/21), titled “Mohammed Ali”. I believe the series last eight hours, so that’s a lot about him. I’m hoping it will change my opinion since I was never a major fan.
I thought he was a skilled boxer, never like him as a braggart, and disliked it when he avoided the draft during the Vietnam war. It was hard for me to accept someone that will knock a person’s brains out but was unwilling to serve his country for religious reasons during a time of war. You have probably surmised that I thought badly of our young men that fled to Canada to do the same thing during that time period. I believe President Jimmy Carter made a serious mistake by issuing pardons to them. The Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction on a technicality (the Government failed to specify why they rejected his appeal as a conscientious objector) and that also disappointed me.
Anyway, I hope Ken Burns changes my mind about Ali
♥️ There are times when I find myself staying busy, just to stay busy. In other words, I’m just shoveling smoke. What’s sad about the whole things is, I’m mostly not aware of it! I can look back over my past 29,500 days on this planet and see that I’ve wasted a lot of time watching endless TV shows, movies, and ballgames. I didn’t party much, but when I did, it was always too hard!
I wonder if I could do it all over again, would I make the same mistakes? My wife and I watched the World Series with the Houston Astros & Atlanta Braves. It’s hard to justify the time spent on that endeavor at my age. I’m confident there are better things to do, I just don’t have the motivation to find out what they are. I guess I could try dancing on one leg, or playing the guitar left-handed, but none seemed like a wise investment of my time.
I’m thinking that when we get to the end of our life, Saint Peter will look at how much time we spent watching TV and criticize us for wasting so much of our valuable time on this wonderful planet. Yup, there’s probably a box on his checkoff list that says, “Watched too much TV”!
If he lets me in, I’m confident he will admonish me with, “Well, you won’t be doing any of that up here Mr. Hale!” I wonder if I still have enough time left to change my ways, or is it too late?
No doubt the best thing to do is spend more time with family and friends, work harder on making relationships stronger, and improve the way we treat those less fortunate.
Shakespeare said, “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Sadly, I have never thought of myself as a fool ☹.
♥ Have you ever wondered if you spend time well? That thought occurred to me after spending 4,000 weeks (80 years) on this wonderful planet. I spend endless hours watching mind numbing TV shows and too much time keeping up with world events. I cannot determine if I’m doing these things because I enjoy them, or because I’m searching for something to relieve the boredom. It’s almost as if I need the distraction, that I need something to make life more interesting. I don’t think that’s the reason because I can’t remember when I last experienced it. I keep a daily journal of my thoughts and activities and as I look back over them, I seldom see negative comments or signs that I’m not engaged in life. True, I do fiddle with my cellphone a lot and I take my iPad with me just about every place I go, but is that evidence that I’m fearful boredom will ensnare me due to not having something to do? I surely hope not.
I certainly get pulled away many times from whatever I’m concentrating on. It may be a familiar “ding” that signals a new email just popped into my inbox, or my cellphone playing Johnny Cash’s, “I Walk The Line”, alerting me to a new phone call/text message. Distractions are everywhere, all of them demanding my attention, requesting I do something or the other immediately. Is this the person I have morphed into, someone that’s so involved in today’s technology that life seems incomplete without it? I know that if I end up in the hospital for some unknown reason, none of those devices will care if I live or die. Only the people I care about and spend time with will care, so why am I not spending more time with them?
I think the answer is that it happens so slowly, sorta like the extra weight you gain, but goes unnoticed because it happens gradually. Will I change from a person who needs to be engaged all the time to one that values human contact? Has this modern way of living inserted itself into the deepest regions of my being, or is there still hope for me? The first step to changing your life is to recognize the need, and the second is to have the desire to make it happen. Sadly, I think I need gentle persuasion on the second part.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Now, that’s the place I gotta get to 😊.
♥I read an article recently that said simply, if you have a negative mind, then you will have a negative life. I know people that fit that description (no, it’s not you), and the odds of them getting out of that rut in life are small.
I too have been in that rut and had to fight to get out, so I’m living proof that it can happen. It is so easy for negative thoughts to creep into our mind and infect us with a sourness that leaches into almost all of our actions. Friends slowly disappear and few appear to take their place, and we’re left wondering why we are lonely.
It’s hard to sit down and figure out what’s happening in your life and why you’re losing so many people you enjoyed being around. In my case, I was divorcing my first wife and the stress of the process was definitely taking its toll. It took quite a few visits to a psychiatrist for me, with his help, to regain my normally positive outlook on life. Since those visits many years ago, I always attempt to be positive about whatever difficulty I am facing. Of course, the pandemic made that difficult to do, but I soldiered on, keeping the old chin up and dutifully practicing the Covid- safe things that Dr. Fauci encouraged us to do.
My wife and I have experienced a whirlwind of changes in the last six months and I must admit they were necessary. Moving into a retirement community and selling our home was huge. It required us to see old friends less often, and make new friends to take their place as active participants in our daily life. We now eat our daily meal in the dining room at 6pm with newly gained friends (Jerry & Ruth), unless either couple made other plans.
In our previous life, my wife and I always had dinner alone while watching TV. Now we eat with someone we enjoy being around, and the conversation is always lively and fun. Who knows, maybe eventually, we run out of things to talk about and just sit there, chewing our food, saying nothing, but I don’t expect that ever happening around Jerry & Ruth 😊.
I remember reading this story a while back: A scorpion asks the frog for a ride across a river. The frog is leery, but the scorpion points out that if he were to bite the frog, they would both drown. Finally, the frog accepts the logic and as they approach the middle of the river, the scorpion strikes! As they are drowning, the frog pleadingly asks why he did it, and the scorpion blurts out, “I just couldn’t help it, it’s’ in my nature.”
Looking back at some things that happened in my life, I can easily understand the scorpion’s reasoning. Recently, I locked the emergency key for the safe, inside the safe, and when the batteries for the keypad died, I was forced to destroy the safe in order to remove its contents. Why did I do something so intrinsically dumb? I just couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature!
I took my wife to the grocery store the other day and, on the way home, we were gleefully gabbing about something and suddenly I realized we were arriving at our old home, not the one we just moved to in April. By the time I turned around and went back, I had made an eight-mile loop. I just couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature. I could continue reciting similar occurrences, but I think you get my point.
Rene’ Descartes said, “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” This quote emphasizes our thoughts are our own and If we have a bad idea, then it is our responsibility to make it better. We should not blame our bad decisions on someone else, strictly because we created the decision. If the frog had listened to Descartes, he would have concluded that it was ingrained in the scorpion’s head to bite, regardless of the fact that it would cost him his life too. I don’t remember what I was thinking when I placed those emergency keys in the safe, but I take responsibility for doing something so destructively simple minded. I have power over my thoughts and over my actions. Somehow, I have to get better at both 😊.
Currently I am reading, “Down The Great Unknown” by John Wesley Powell. It’s about his 1869 Journey down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon.
I just finished, “Wheelmen” by Vaness O’Connell & Reed Albergotti. It’s about Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France and the doping that all the cyclist try to hide from race officials. The race lasts for 3 weeks and covers 3,000 miles. I gave it 3 stars.
The other day, as I was celebrating the birthday of an old friend, and reflecting on my recent 80th birthday, I was thinking about my life at the start of each decade, and it was an interesting journey.
As I mentally walked through my life, I could see my development and the changes I made. I was also aware of the struggles I was experiencing at the start of each decade, and I could see how they affected me and how I resolved them.
The most startling observation I made was that my life really started being a positive experience after I met my wife in 1992. Up to that point, it seemed to be a fruitless struggle just to get from one day to the other. Margaret Mitchell famously said, “Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
I am living proof of the veracity of that statement. When I met my wife at the start of my 5th decade on this planet, everything changed, and my life ceased having so much turmoil. I can say that not for one moment of my life, since our relationship started, have I not felt loved by her. From the very beginning she made me feel special, and that was something I wasn’t used to. I think I was unaware of how much depth a caring person could add to my life.
So, here I sit, starting my 8th decade and browsing around in the many rooms of my mind, peeping in to see what was happening during time long past, finding joy in some, and sadness in others, hoping I have been a positive influence on those I met along the way, knowing that you are in one of those “happy” rooms.
Possibly, there are people that think of me negatively, but that comes with life. I have tried to keep that to a bare minimum. I believe there are only a few, but you can never be sure of how someone perceives your actions. As Summer stares at us, letting us know that hot, sunny days, and hurricanes are here, we can now get out and socialize with our friends and neighbors, take trips that were set aside during the pandemic, and just enjoy life. As Helen Keller so wisely said, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, then alone in the light”.
⌘ Rumi (Persian poet born 1207) said, “Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” I believe that and I want to use it in my life. Some say that gratefulness can increase our sense of happiness, decrease our perception of pain and depression, and increase our appreciation of the accomplishments of others.
I never realized that gratitude could be so impactful in my life. Surely, it wonders in and out of all our lives, but it is fleeting and never stays long. It now appears that it should be a part of our being and influence us daily. So, I have developed a plan to ensure that it stays with me: write or make mental notes (bad idea) of the things I am grateful for, and nothing should be too small to be on that list. I also think I should start writing thank-you notes for kindness’ shown to me by others. I know, it seems like a lot of effort, but on closer examination it’s not, and I would feel better knowing that I expressed my gratefulness in ways other than words, which can flow so effortlessly.
How often do we say, “I love you”, or “thank you”, without putting in the effort to really showing it? I’ll be the first to raise my hand. We recently spent four nights with my cousin Harold & his wife Willis back in my hometown. I’m gonna sit down and write them a letter, expressing our gratitude for their kindness. Sure, we expressed our gratitude before we left, but I need to take the extra step of writing it down and sending it to them. No, I don’t think an email suffices, that’s so easily done, requiring very little effort. I’m gonna write a note to those fine people, put a stamp on it and put it in the mail. Then, they will know that we really mean it! Or maybe they know anyway and I’m just being paranoid 😊. I’m counting on what Rumi said about wearing gratitude like a cloak.
⌘ I recently ran across an old pair of my eyeglasses that were worn by me about five years ago. They differ totally from what I wear, being gold rimmed versus black rims today. I gently placed them on my face and could tell they were close to the strength of my current glasses, so I wore them to see if anyone would detect the change. A couple of days went by and no one noticed. I’m a little confused, these look nothing like what I normally wear and they’re a little old-fashioned (circa 2009), yet no one has noticed. Slowly, it’s sinking in that all the extra time and money used in selecting just the right frames is not money well spent. All the wasted time in front of the optometrist’s mirror, trying on countless frames, and wondering which one looks the best. Kinda wish I hadn’t done that now. After nine days into the experiment, someone finally noticed, and I was so relieved.
So, what lesson have I learned from this brief experiment? Well, that other people aren’t as aware of what I wear as I think, and maybe I’m not as important as I want to be? There’s a good possibility that if someone used that experiment on me, I would fail as well. I’ll probably never try that again, it’s so disappointing to find out that few of us notice such things. I’m refusing to travel down the road where only fools and horses survive.
Mary Oliver said, “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Turns out, I’m not the only one that needs to pay attention 😊.
⌘ My wife and I sold our beautiful home and moved into a retirement community on April 24th, and we are slowly getting used to our new place. It is much smaller than we are used to, but it is a necessary change. We always knew this day would come, and as we approached the age of 80, we knew it was the right thing to do. Our goal was to be in an environment where our children wouldn’t have to look after us as old age soaked into our creaky old bones and our health declined. That’s where we are now, in a place that allows us to go from Independent Living (our cottage) to Assisted Living (they help you do things), then on to Health Care (they do everything), or the Mental Unit (dementia). They furnish us one meal daily, usually dinner in the dining room, and send someone to clean our cottage every two weeks. Everyone here appears to be at least 70 and a lot of them are using walkers & wheelchairs. We are fighting the idea that will happen to us, but no one knows what lies in store, so we just take it one day at a time. The one thing you discover is that old folks are nice, we have yet to meet anyone that’s not. I think it’s because at our age, most of our friends have transitioned to the other side and we need replacements 😊. We have met some extraordinary people, and that has made our transition to the retirement community much easier.
So, what’s it like to make your final move, the one you make before “buying the farm”? Well, it’s kinda sad, but inevitable. We’re hoping for at least ten more years of good health, but you never know. We make daily exercise plans to keep everything working, try to eat right and get enough sleep, and see how it all turns out. We can still make trips to visit those we love, and travel for entertainment, but we can see far enough down that road to see the sign that says, “Dead End”. Hopefully, that’s when our family picks up the slack and comes to visit us 😊. As Frank Bruni said, “It’s all about aging, writ vivid and large.”
A few weeks ago, while we were back home visiting, we stopped, as we always do, at the cemetery my mother and father are in, as well as a lot of my family. They are in a crypt about 10 feet up, and as I stood there talking to them, I made the comment as I prepared to leave that I would probably join them before too much longer. As I walked away with tears in my eyes, I heard mom’s voice saying, “You’ve got longer than you think!” Boy, do I hope she’s right!