Love Is That Condition


Jerilyn & I had a marvelous time celebrating Mother’s Day.  We also were celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary.  We met her youngest son, Mark & wife, Rachel, at a local restaurant for breakfast and had a wonderful meal and a delightful conversation.  Afterwards, we visited her son Dean, wife Kathy, & grandson, Brandon, then on to visit her mother.  With a friend, Louise, we drove out to visit one of my closest friends, Mary.   She prepared a wonderful dinner for us, her son Duke & his  family.   We had a relaxed, joyful conversation after the meal, and when Jerilyn & I finally arrived home around 9pm, we were tired but thankful for such a blessed day.  Spending time with family and friends sure makes for a deep heartwarming feeling.

I sometimes wonder what God would see in my heart if he took a peek? Although I am of the opinion that he would like what he sees there, I have a few rooms where anger, disingenuousness, suspicion, dislike, and doubt reside.  I believe the room that contained doubt would be the room he disliked the most.  There are times when I doubt his presence in my life and in the life of others I hold dear.   I think that room is followed closely by disingenuousness (dishonesty, candor).   This is, perhaps, the smallest room in my heart and could rightly be called a closet.  I have a very difficult time expressing displeasure and disapproval in others, consequently that leaves me feeling less than honest.  My wife & daughter would probably disagree for they are indeed the only two people that see it.  God would also dislike the rooms that are home to anger & suspicion.  My only hope for forgiveness is that the doors to all those rooms are rarely cracked open and the really large rooms of kindness, thankfulness, and love occupy almost the entire space in my heart.  The bible teaches us that God sees what is in our heart.  Maybe there is hope for me after all because he hasn’t expressed any displeasure to me (yet).  Or, will he express his displeasure on the day of reckoning, expecting me to recognize the things I need to fix before arriving in his presence?  In conclusion, I would like to close with a quote by Voltaire: “God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh”.  I really would like to see him crack a smile as he peered inside of what I often refer to as my thumpin’ gizzard.

I was recently told that my cousin Carol’s husband, Buddy, had suffered a massive heart attack and was dead for 10 minutes before he was resuscitated. Buddy is close to my age and is a great guy.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to see Carol & Buddy much since they live in Florida, but when we do, Buddy always surrounds himself with joy and happiness and is always full of wit and funny stories.  Everyone enjoys his company.   If you believe in God (any God), I would like for you to utter a prayer for him the next time you pray.  As it stands right now he is alive and home recovering.  Carol says that she believes, with therapy, diet, exercise, and a lot of praying, he will have a full recovery.   If you are not religious, just toss a verbal “good luck Buddy” into the breeze and hope it floats his way.

I got my driver’s license when I was 15 (Virginia law permitted it in the 50’s ).  Not long afterwards, I began dating girls and you needed a driver’s license to do that, seems all the girls wanted you to have a means to take them somewhere (understandable).   I was allowed to use the family car for dating only on Sunday evenings, and believe me,  I used it every time Sunday rolled around.  Anyway, whenever I got in the car to take my  girlfriend to the movies at the Lynnwood Theater, my mother would always say one of two things:  “Don’t take any wooden nickels” or “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”.   I would always smile and reply, “I won’t mom!”.   As a young teenager, I never really knew what she meant (or gave it much thought), but it was always said light-hearted and with a broad grin, as if she knew something I didn’t.  I now know, or suspect that I know, what she meant.  The wooden nickel thing would be to beware of false promises; things said, often are not true, or what they appear to be.  And the “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” would, of course, pertains to sex.   As a teenager, having sex with a beautiful girl was never far from my mind  and the saddest thing was I accepted this as a completely normal thing.   The most inane thing would send me into a tailspin (no pun intended).  The humiliating thing was there was always a dead giveaway of what was bouncing around inside my skull (Mae West: “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me”).  With all that’s available for teens to see these days, I often wonder how in the world they cope with it.  Maybe they see so much of it  they develop an immunity?  I read once  someone said that all things are sexual, meaning all that you do is in some way tied to sex.  Could be so when you are younger, but I doubt it could be after you turn 50.  For the longest time, I did not know the difference between having sex and being in love.  I think I was, perhaps, 30 years old before I realized the two weren’t inexorably tied together.  When it comes to love, Robert Heinlein has my favorite quote: “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”   My view today is that sex should only occur between two people deeply in love.  I’m at a loss to explain where that leaves the 15-40 age group.  The rest of us can wait.

I ran across this quote the other day: “Bullfight critics ranked in rows, crowd the enormous plaza full, but only one is there who knows, and he’s the man who fights the bull”.  That was written by a Spanish matador.   I think that is a great quote.   It is easy to be a critic, but the people that truly know are the ones involved in the battle.  I have a tendency to be critical when things aren’t going well, when people I love and care about are experiencing problems (health, financial, emotional), but do I really know what someone is experiencing unless it has actually happened to me?   If you are like me, you can remember when you gave good advice, but seldom remember the bad advice dispensed.   I remember telling a young man that worked for me in the 80’s that if he improved in certain areas, he would not be fired (he had been threatened with dismissal).  He made the necessary adjustments and was fired by me anyway.   What I was unaware of was that my boss had to reduce the staff to a certain level and this young man was not going to be able to save his job regardless of what he did.  When I called him into my office and told him, as gently as I could, that he was no longer employed by our company, tears came to his eyes and he cried.   I reached across the desk, clasped his hand in mine and said, “Ken, I did everything within my power to save your job”.  He nodded his head as if he understood what I was saying.  I walked with him to his desk while he gathered his personal belongings, and then I walked with him to the front door of our office building.  As he walked across the parking lot, he turned to me and said, “You’re gonna miss me, I did a lot for this company!”    It’s impossible to describe how miserable I felt as I walked back down the hall to our office.  As I entered, 20 people looked at me with this question on their lips:  What happened to Ken?   “Ken is no longer a company employee” I said, and then disappeared into my office, left to ponder the meaning of fairness  for hours.  Ken fought the bull and lost.   Regrettably, I was the bull.  “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling.  I regret I did not fight the bull that pawed at the ground in front of me.

I have spent the last few days getting my “Carolina Skiff” boat  ready to put back in the water.  As most of you know, it flipped over while my son and I were out fishing in July of last year.  It is not a very big boat (14 feet) and is flat on the bottom, so it isn’t very adept at handling rough water.  Probably, it would be a great boat for lake use.  Anyway, I scrubbed the bottom and when finished, it looked brand new.  I had to do some repair work on the two lifts that I use, replacing the braces to make them stronger.  My goal was to make them strong enough to hold the boat, and me, in case I needed to step inside while it was hanging in the air.  To do that, I needed to cut 4 pieces of rebar (a round metal rod used to reinforce concrete) the right length and then drill holes in them.   I have a handheld angle grinder that does a really good job, so I get it out of the shed, hook up an extension cord and start grinding away.  In about ten minutes, I have one cut and start on another, and I work my way thru 3 of them.   All of a sudden it hits me that this is taking way too long.  I walked into the shed, retrieved my hack saw (used for cutting metal), walked out and started cutting the bar, and in 3 minutes I was done.   I was stunned!  How could I have concluded that the grinder was the best way to get this job done.  About that time, a squirrel came bouncing up the pine straw covered trail that leads out to the backyard.  When he sees me, he stops, tries to decide what his next move will be, and after several confusing bolts to the right and left, he bounds up a nearby tree as fast as if he were a squirrel Olympian.   I stood there, hack saw in hand, with a grin spread widely across my face.  Just a few minutes before, I was embarrassed because of a dumb assumption, and now I was smiling and enjoying the simple things in life.  It occurred to me that I really take life too seriously.   It has been said that, “old age is a place of silence where no one expects to hear wisdom anymore”.   I kinda suspect that I fit into that category.  I hope you have enjoyed my biweekly missive and that you will drop me a line occasionally to let me know what’s going on in your corner of the world.

“What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.”

– Logan Pearsall