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
Be Still When You Have Nothing To Say….
Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.”
– D. H. Lawrence
That is an excellent suggestion, but that “Be still” thing plague’s many of us and especially me 😊. Oftentimes, I find myself rambling on about things that are not important, or, the person I’m talking to is not very interested. I have to pay close attention to my involvement in conversations and “throttle back” the inclination to express my thoughts on subjects on which I am an expert. Admittedly, I use “expert” loosely. My deceased ex-wife used to tell me, “I’d like to buy you for what you’re worth and sell you for what you think you’re worth”. That always made me grin, but I knew she was serious. I am a firm believer that when we are passionate over something, we should pursue it with vigor. It is important that we are selective with our passionate choices, else, you spread yourself too thin and it becomes harder to be successful. I try to pick one project and then only focus on it, to the exclusion of everything not pertinent. That works very well for me. As I’ve grown older, I have found my “passion” to get things accomplished has waned somewhat. I didn’t expect that to happen, it just did. I do see that passion in young people, and I must say I enjoy watching them pursue it. I think the day passion leaves my life is key for me to get ready for the endgame. I try to keep the “old guy” out of my life but he is a persistent fellow. Someone once said, “It is better to be a live donkey than a dead lion”. I think that’s probably true.
Recently, I decided I wanted to replace my Nexus Notepad. It’s ten years old, and I needed something faster and had a keyboard. I cranked-up an app on my phone called, “Offer Up” and began to see what was for sale in my local area by individuals (not stores). Well, I found what I wanted, and it was brand new! Trouble was, he was asking more than I was willing to pay. I made him an offer that was half of his asking price. Immediate reply: “No”. So, I made a final offer, increasing it by a third. Answer back: “No”. Well, hecky darn, guess I needed to make another “Final Offer”? I was determined that I wasn’t going to pay this fellow his “asking price”. Somehow, that felt unconstitutional! True, his asking price was considerably lower than what it cost on Amazon, but I’m a man of principle and that means that I will absolutely not pay his price. Buy this time my wife got involved, and she was making suggestions. So, now we are colluding on what to offer that persuades him to accept. Ultimately, we issued another “Final Offer” and he made a counter-offer that was very near what I wanted to pay. I accepted. Now, I didn’t get him to come down a lot but it was enough to make me happy. The whole thing turned out to be a fun experience. The one thing I learned is that I’m a much better negotiator anonymously than face-to-face. I don’t think it’s because I dislike confrontation, it’s because it makes it much less personal. Hilaire Belloc said, “All men have in them an instinct for conflict: at least, all healthy men.” My sentiments precisely!
Update: The deal didn’t happen. The fellow got “cold feet” about the transaction so we canceled it. I did find the exact item on eBay for $50 more and it’s on the way to our house now!
My wife and I are members of the Ruby Tuesday (restaurant club. It’s free, all you have to do is sign up, giving them your email address so they can send you a daily email for the rest of your life. Occasionally, you’ll get a BOGO (buy one, get one free) offer, with time restrictions (i.e. tomorrow only) and then you get a free hamburger, or salad bar, the month of your birthday. Well, that fine establishment made an unforgivable mistake: they failed to notify my wife about her free hamburger (her birthday is in January & so is mine). She got on the phone and called the local Ruby Tuesday and informed them of the situation. The manager calmly tells her to come on in and thy will give her the birthday burger, no questions asked. Needless to say, that night we are on our way to retrieve the free food. As we entered the restaurant, my wife asked to speak to the manager on duty and reminded him of what transpired earlier. We were escorted to a table, our burgers show up in about 30 minutes, and we chewed on those things as tho we hadn’t eaten in a week. Free food has that effect on you. Somehow, it seems to be more delicious than what you pay for it. After completing our meal, we were given a delicious Strawberry Sundae to complete our gluttony. We left the restaurant on that bitterly cold night with our stomachs full of good food and a look on our face that told the world that free stuff can make you happy. An old Czech Proverb says, “When we are at our merriest, it is best to leave and drive home”. That’s exactly what we did!
The word “loneliness” was created to express the pain of being alone, and the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone”….Paul Tillich.
I think that quote aptly describes the two states of being alone. Unfortunately, we experience “loneliness” most often. I remember as a young boy our coal camp was shutting down and how lonely I felt as my playmates packed-up and moved away. My next bout with that condition happened after losing my son last year. The only thing that can overcome such loneliness is a positive attitude about what the future holds, believing that your situation will improve. It was harder as a young kid for me to see it from that perspective, but as an adult I have always tried to keep a positive outlook.
Solitude is something you seek when life becomes hectic and you need a break. I cannot remember the last time I actively sought it. It seems to surround me when I’m sitting in my favorite chair in front of my workshop listening to classic country music and smoking my favorite cigar.
George Jones is wailing about, “He stopped loving her today”, or Waylon Jennings is pining over “Luckenbach Texas”. During that time my worries drift off down the creek and land in someone else’s yard, waiting for the right time to float back in my direction. I’m sitting there thinking about my friend, Dale, soaking up the Florida sun, or my friend David walking around in Texas wondering if the “Cowboys” will ever win another Super Bowl. But, for that one hour, my burdens are lifted and I don’t have a care in the world. Now that’s my definition of solitude. I’m sure there’s a better definition out there somewhere, but this one suits me fine.
Four-Letter Words… by JoAnn
March 13, 2023
Guest Missives 2023, Guest WoW, JoAnn
Whenever someone mentions the phrase “four-letter words,” it’s usually assumed they mean profanity. There seems to be a lot more of that in this day and time than ever before in our past. It has infiltrated every area of society and is accepted by our young people as a “cool” way to express themselves. The general population accepts it like never before.
The four-letter words I will talk about are the positive ones. Words that lighten life instead of darkening it. Words like love and hope to start. Stop and think for just a moment about the first one; love. Of all the important meanings in our world’s history, what has love done? What is love capable of doing still? If love is added to any other word, the impact is immeasurable.
Add love to anything you do, and you will find yourself a winner. Add love to work, and you will have success. Adding love to a conversation has the power to quiet loud voices and calm racing hearts. Add love to an argument, and forgiveness will grow. Love can do the impossible. There is no other four-letter word that holds that much power.
Hope is so important to our psyche that we have no reason to go on without it, especially without love. The two go hand in hand to make our lives worth living. Hope gives us the strength to go forward into an unknown future. It gives us wings.
One of the four-letter words most important to me is Pray. Because of my faith as a Christian, praying is as much a part of my daily life as breathing. I believe in it that much. There is indeed power in prayer.
So far, all three of the four-letter words have one thing of great value in common. They are positively powerful when used. There is no denying it. Even the world’s most negative, non-believing individual could not hold up an argument to say otherwise.
The next time you hear someone’s mouth sputtering four-letter words of hate, negativity, or just plain filth, don’t let that garbage get to you. Stop and ask yourself what four-letter words you like most. What are the ones you live by daily? Share them with someone!