Perhaps that is what the poem gives us the most, the reminder to give.
I struggle with it. I am just like you, I imagine. Typical and surprising. I give but I do not give enough. It’s really not enough to be charitable when times are easy. It’s when you do not have enough to give. How about then? I was telling the butcher yesterday about having a warm coat in winter. I am still stuck on it. Maybe because it has been 4 or 5 degrees some mornings in the last 2 months. Maybe because I am on the back nine and I see the end up ahead. Whatever the reason, the time my brother bought me a proper winter coat in January, 2001, keeps coming to mind. The butcher lost his brother to suicide not too long ago. That guy and I kept up with each other over the counter talking recipes for dinner for 6 years. One day he was not behind the glass counter when my little guy and I approached, but his brother was.
We got right to it. He told me what happened. I told him his brother was the best. He said, “I wish everyone had told him, maybe he would not have killed himself.” Now that’s raw grief.
He told me yesterday he got involved with Big Brothers, Big Sisters and that his daughter did, too. His daughter’s ‘little’ had never been to a mall let alone gone shopping for a Christmas present. The coat my brother got me means a lot for the same reason. Because when he bought it, I was flat, ass broke. I spent whatever cash I had on co-payments at the doctor and I was thin and it was cold and he said, “Let’s go shopping.” Thank the Goddesses for big brothers.
But this is the neighborhood and you see people around. At the fish fry, at a street fair, at the bowling alley. The town is not that big. Los Angeles is big. You can orbit 30 mins from your home and never go further in a town that big and never get bored, never run out of things to do. Not so in the little place I’m from. The airport is an elbow (well, two arms now they’ve knocked down a wall to extend one of the terminals). It’s easy to come face to face with your next-door neighbor, so don’t be a dick.
It’s voting time again. The Green Party candidate is getting a lot of shit from organizations that give me reason to pause. Their old school White Republic approach did not resonate well with me, and won the Green Party candidate a vote from me, the first time I’ve ever voted that way. So, take that boys poking fun at the woman daring to unseat you. I stopped to talk to the poll worker outside the school. Mind you, it was sunny by this time, but only 19 out, still frozen. She was representing a longstanding Alderman, and he’s alone on the ballot. She said she doesn’t like how the behavior in the election is driving us further apart. I agree. I do not mind you having your opinion. I do not want to hurt you for it. I know I am not joined by my fellow man/woman in that POV. I know some people are aching for control.
I am going to Houston today. Next week, I have a trip that goes to Atlanta GA, then Asheville NC, then on an epic 5 hour car ride to Virginia right next to the Appalachian Trail, then an hour through the mountain, over to Lexington, then back to Atlanta and back home. In 4 days. I have 50 minutes to switch concourses in ATL and I have been sweating it as I have to find and take the plane-train and hustle to make my Asheville flight. I have solicited and received some very helpful advice from fellow travelers. The kindness of others lives!
I read almost all of this pamphlet put out by the US Army on the Korean War. The details of those 3 years is stunning. Just how much of a pawn the country of Korea in its entirety was between the Communists and the United States (under the guise of the United Nations). It’s a very long story, which I will not retell, but I feel as though I may produce bits of the story coupled with my own disbelief through the next year as I get further into the research. Example: during the epic amount of years it took to negotiate a ceasefire (not even peace, just an uneasy line over which neither side agreed to cross), 170,000 POWs in the hands of the United Nations were each interviewed to determine if they wanted to be returned to North Korea. 70,000 of them said they would rather not. The Chinese soldiers wanted to return to their homeland from which they had been wrenched and pressed into service. The same of the South Koreans whom the Soviets had drafted into service against their will. And some of the North Koreans felt the same, whether or not they were forced to fight in the first place. The Communists did not want to send that kind of PR message back to their remaining troops – of which there were hundreds of thousands. That could mean mutiny, desertion, that kind of thing. It’s a hard sell to force your troops through war, let alone a very hand-to-hand war, hard winters, and the perils of uncertainty every day. So the two sides negotiating peace sat at a standstill for a year+ over the issue of POWs.
The POW camps were infiltrated with instigators, to rile up the prisoners. Imagine that job. You have to purposely get captured so you can raise an uprising against the United Nations. It worked, too. They created a PR nightmare for the public-conscious UN. A General was captured.
All of this with a grain of salt given its author.
Does not matter who wrote it, though, it was a terrible time, and it was generally overlooked as a legitimate war after it was over because WWII preceded Korea, was so massive it overshadowed everything until Vietnam, which came after. Sandwiched in there, Korea was aptly named The Forgotten War.
I emailed my aunt, the keeper of the family’s history, for an update on grandpa. Where he was, what he did, what his medal looked like, when it was awarded and for what. I worry these important people will pass without having written down all of the important info, that the founders of my family will fade out. It was just too important for them to have been here to forget who they were and what they did.
And what one of them did was go to war and return, not blowing his own horn, just quietly returning to his family, having children, feeding them, working three jobs, staying on top of his business and having the wisdom to guide us all along the way.
Now you know why it bristles me so when some doofus on social media paints a Green Party female candidate as a Communist. What happened in the 1950s with Communists was serious business. Truman did not have an easy job. Truman was not sitting behind a computer eating Doritos pasting the head of a woman onto a football player with orange fingers thinking of a meme of the century to help ease his high cholesterol and general unhappiness.
I am learning at this very late stage about hard work. I am learning that it takes a lot of effort to get where you want to go, emphasis where I want to go. That same hard work built our country. Not a perfect country, but a work ethic is a good foundation upon which to build yourself. It is rough to learn how far I could have gone if I had tried harder. I realized that I had avoided learning the financial side of my business for 4 years out of laziness and an unwillingness to engage with it. I also felt I was kind of dumb. It took me less than a month to figure it out with our financial manager who was overjoyed that I had finally relented. That was hard work for me. I had to force my brain into an uncomfortable situation and I lived.
I am teaching my son about controlling his ADD because he is going to need to have some tools to help him along in high school, college, and then with his own family and in his own career. How to wrangle yourself to focus. How to avoid the wrong influences, which seem calming, but are an utter waste of time. Otherwise, my late-stage realizations will be utilized only for the remainder of my time on this earth instead of mine + his + his ADD-babies.
God help us all.
Speaking of advancing, I read an article about improving the self, not obsessing about its love handles. Click on the link. Peter Sagal will tell you his story if you do not want to or cannot read with your eyes.
I started doing push-ups last week. It is really not more than me doing 4 on my knees (not the full stretch) until I collapse, but I have been doing about 4 or 5 at a time about 3 or 4 times a day for 10 days...yes, folks, I am improving! I have been using the ancient bar and weights and bench in the basement, too, and you’d be surprised how challenging 10 lbs on either side + the weight of the bar is for 10 reps. It is even harder to do 15. I was about to adjust the weights up when my wife stopped me. Try 15, she said. I got to 12, and I worked my way up to 15. Maybe I will be able to do 30 like her. She can do push ups, too. But she’s been practicing them her whole life.
So, take-away for today is Improvement. And this cool pic from the Orchid Show. The strangest looking orchid I have ever seen.