No Man Is Happy Without Delusion

A man in grey suit and black pants on the beach.

The workers of my youth (coalminers) wore their work on their skin and clothes.  They left home with skin and clothes well-scrubbed and returned with coal dust covering everything.  Today, most of the people I know return home from work as clean as when they left.  My father, grandfathers, uncles and cousins were all proud coal miners.  My father had his own coal mine and during the summer of 1956 (I was 16), my uncle KD (who was 17) and I worked in that mine loading coal.  Dad’s best loader could load 22 ton a day, KD & I could load 18 ton each.  The pay was $1 per ton, unfortunately, my pay was room and board J.   I was allowed to use our car on Sunday nights to take my girlfriend to the movies at Grundy (VA).  The coal dust was fairly easy to remove from most of my body, but was almost impossible to scrub from around my eyes and from under my fingernails.  Nobody, absolutely nobody, wants to pick up their girlfriend for a date looking like a raccoon!  I would spend hours trying to get ready for those dates.  Oh, and by the way, the cost of a date, including gas, 2 movie tickets, popcorn & coke for both of us was $4 (gas was 32¢ gal).  I remember getting in the car at our small coal camp (Page) and driving about 6 miles to pick up my date (my ex-wife Mae) and then to Grundy and watching as the rest of the world made its appearance in our small community (the movie was always preceded by news from around the world).   It was in that small movie house that I fell in love with actresses Jane Russell, Linda Darnell and every other female beauty that floated across the screen.  I have since stumbled across the meaning of true love (according to Mohandas Gandhi):  Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginableâ€.  I am unable to convince myself I wasn’t in love with Jane Russell during those hormone driven years.

I read the other day that “It can be safely concluded that siblings are not just inherent rivals, but the greatest source of stress between human beings†and I wondered, “How can that possibly be trueâ€?  My brother and I were rivals as youngsters, but as adults we were the best of friends.  My own two children barely speak (civilly) to each other, but I know numerous other siblings that get along fine.  I believe that sometimes, it has to do with their parents, that one sibling doesn’t like the way the other(s) treat mom or dad.   And, I guess, sometimes they just don’t like each other as adults.  Whatever the reason for their animosity, it would seem impossible to hold a grudge for a very long time against someone that you spent so many years with as a youngster and is a direct connection to your childhood.   I loved my brother for many reasons and one of them was he knew me as few others could and he loved me in spite of my foibles

I’ve been mulling over this quote by Christian Bovee: “No man is happy without a delusion of some kind.  Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities.â€

This thought crossed my mind the other day: how far back in history can I go with someone I actually knew?  The answer to that was my Great Grandpa Hale (Dec 1868 – May 4, 1961).   He was born 4 years after President Lincoln’s assassination (April 14, 1865).  How cool is that! (my favorite expression J).

There’s a character in the August Wilson play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone†who says everyone has a song inside of him or her, and that you lose sight of that song at your peril. If you get out of touch with your song, forget how to sing it, you’re bound to end up frustrated and dissatisfied. As this character says, recalling a time when he was out of touch with his own song, “Something wasn’t making my heart smooth and easy.† I read this recently, somewhere, and thought, “Maybe I’ve lost sight of that song in me.† You would think that as a retired guy, I would have plenty of time to keep in touch with my song, but alas, that is not true.  My philosophy in life has been to stay active with something to do and look forward to and life would be interesting and fun.  Problem is, I have made my life to0 busy and I sing that internal song less and less as time goes by.  It only re-appears when I have conversations with those I enjoy, we leave town on vacation, or Jerilyn and I are lying in bed talking just before we drop off to sleep.  Somehow, I have to get back to where I can appreciate and enjoy silence.  I think that is the key to “making my heart smooth and easy.†  If, by and large, life is mostly meanless and dull, we have to work hard at making it more than that.  The trick is not to go too far the other way.

We were recently asked to participate in the Nielsen TV ratings and I agreed.  A few days later we received a “TV Viewing Diary†for each of the TV’s (2) in our home.  Inside the envelope was a note thanking us for participating and including $1 to pay us for taking the time to do it.  Without demeaning the dollar, I wonder why someone in that organization thinks that $1 is a sufficient amount to reward someone for taking so much time to help them with their survey?  This survey takes a lot of time to complete and is certainly worth more than $1!   I would tend to think there should at least be enough to buy a dinner at their expense.  If they can only afford $1, why not just express their appreciation and let it go at that?   I think there is a point where an act of appreciation can become offensive.  In other words, you under-valued the request you made and your thanks fell short of the mark.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere

without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux