Monday, March 2, 2009

To Live Like You Were Dying

There is a popular song with a chorus that ends, “Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.” Not only do you have the chance to live like you are dying, that is actually the best way to live every day.

There is no suggestion here that anyone should do crazy things that are dangerous to their health. But most of us have dreams and things we want to do “someday”. Quit putting “someday” off because we can easily miss that boat and not even know it sailed.

Live like you were dying NOW. Do something you always wanted to do that is within your reach. Plan to fulfill another specific dream as soon as that one is in your grasp. (Don’t waste your energy on all your dreams at once; you will make more come true if you reach for them one at a time.) Treat people the way you want to be treated. Look at the world with wonder and appreciation. Listen to the music of life.

Whether you die next year or fifty years from now take the opportunity to live like you were dying. You will be remembered as a remarkable person and will have had a great ride.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What Living in the Country Means to Me

My family moved to Phoenix, Arizona when I was eight but, by far, the most delightful days of my early childhood were spent on my grandparents’ farm in Georgia and as long as I can remember I wanted to live in the country. A lifetime spent taking care of family, including years of dealing with my mom's dementia in her later years, did not take away that dream.

When Mom was gone, I sold her house in Phoenix and bought a house on five acres in the middle of the countryside half an hour outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. Most of my friends had already moved out of the Phoenix area and the internet keeps us in touch these days.

Our house is so secluded that no one would know it was there if they were not already aware how to reach it. We are surrounded by woods… mostly oaks… and are up on a ridge with a wonderful view. No sounds of traffic reach us unless it is someone coming to visit. The skies are clear at night and the stars are plainly visible. In summer so are fireflies. In the autumn, the foliage is so breathtaking it literally makes my soul sing.

We have a sort of informal animal rescue. No donations are requested or accepted and we don’t go looking for animals. We simply take any God sends us and make them part of our family. Since we are so far off any beaten path we feel that any who find us are meant to be with us.

Some day we would like to add to our five acres because we also want to be a sanctuary for any family or friends who need a place to come and live. In this economy and, for that matter, in this world, you never know what may happen in your life that causes you to need someone else. We want to be there for people. In our past people have been there for us.

This was the perfect place to come after years of stress. There is peace here. It is truly a dream come true. I love it.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Founding Fathers had no Plan for the USA to be a Christian Nation

While our nation is still predominantly Christian, that is not something that was built into the country. Most of the countries of Europe had state churches that severely limited the opportunities of those who followed any other religions. The founding fathers were absolute in their desire to avoid that situation. That was why they specified that church and state were to be separate. They did not want to mandate a specific religion... not even Christianity.

It is true that some colonies, like the Pilgrims, came for religious reasons. But they were so limited in their own views that they only wanted colony members who believed as they did. That's why they drove out Roger Williams and his Baptists so that they formed Providence, Rhode Island. Maryland was established as a haven for Catholics while William Penn brought his Quakers to Pennsylvania. True, all those are Christian.

But by the time the colonies were being welded into a nation those writing it into being were more concerned with the nation not being identified with a specific religion than otherwise. (Other than Jews, they probably would not have visualized followers of other religions settling into their new country.)

History and our Constitution are clear about these facts. So, while I am a Christian and so is virtually everyone I know personally, I am not offended when someone says we are not a Christian nation. We were never meant to be.

Friday, February 27, 2009

“The Good Old Days”

I just heard a commercial on the radio extolling the greatness of a product that tasted “just like the good old days”. Ah, the good old days! That phrase used to summon up the memory of stories my mom told of her childhood. This commercial was not talking to my mom. The Greatest Generation is decimated these days and those who are still among us are very elderly. With a pang I realized that the good old days they spoke of belonged to my generation.

This was the second time recently that some variation of that thought struck home. The other day one of my kids commented that kids certainly weren’t the same as when they were young. When they were young? She’s twenty-eight… that’s not old. But it’s close to thirty, my heart whispered and that’s not so very young either. When did our kids suddenly become the adults… pushing us back a generation ready or not?

Most of us aren’t ready. The Baby Boomers are so accustomed to center stage that we are unlikely to bow off gracefully. When we entered our fifties, the AARP invited us to join. Many of us were aware of it because our parents were members. That was a group for OLD people! We weren’t ready to go there yet and ignored the organization. They rethought their strategy and renamed their magazine in an effort to appeal to the aging Baby Boomers. I don’t know if it helped.

More celebrities – especially women – are benefiting from being part of this generation. In the past the ingenues had it all. Anyone much older became a character actress if they wanted to continue a career. Actresses in their fifties still get leading roles these days because Baby Boomers see themselves as alive and vibrant yet… and that’s a good thing, because people are living longer and fifty or sixty (maybe even seventy) is way too early to give up on life.

While my mom had plenty of memories and saw a lot of transition in her lifetime, it occurs to me that we have too. I remember country roads on childhood summer vacations to visit my grandparents. I walked with my cousins barefoot to the store at the crossroads for Coca Colas and felt the warm dirt beneath my feet and between my toes. There are not many places like that now.

Not everything about those times was better. People were still crippled by polio and our generation had the benefit of immunization. While chicken pox can now be prevented, in those days many people felt that their children were safer if they had “childhood diseases” in early childhood. Accordingly, we were taken to visit a cousin who was contagious so that we could be infected and get it over with.

Teachers have always been a mixed bag but I was blessed with several that clearly considered it a calling. In those days they were allowed to hug a loving child if so inclined and they were better able to deal with children who were determined to act in a distinctly unlovable manner. They also knew that the administration, the school board, and most parents would back up any reasonable decisions involving discipline or requiring a child to repeat a year of school. These days children are often less educated than shepherded through a series of gates. It may assist them socially but those who failed to learn are all too likely to fail at life.

Computers and the Internet are the coolest new things added by Baby Boomer geniuses. I know… the previous generation invented computers… but we sent them home and put everyone in touch with the world. Since my first job involved one computer generation before the CRT, I have been fortunate enough to see lots of them as they got better and have enthusiastically greeted each new edition. There are not many people with my personality type out there according to the tests and I often felt lonely even with friends because there was a great deal going on in my head that I knew was of no interest to them. Then the Internet entered my world and I was in touch with a number of people who shared my interests. That is one of the greatest things about it. The other one is that information can be found in plentiful amounts on virtually anything. I love it!

So… they were talking about OUR good old days. Are those times worth remembering? Of course they are. Like all earlier generations, we are survivors… and not all of the old days were good. But they made us who we are. And, in ways never before dreamed of, we have linked the world. Now if we can all just figure out how to live in peace… That should give the next generation something great to work on.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Author Richard Bach once wrote a book called One. According to the book, he and his wife Leslie Parrish had a kind of surreal experience. Bach is a pilot and their plane was taken over by a spiritual entity who was there to teach them some important truths. Accordingly in his communication with them, he showed them a flow of lifelines that represented all activity by everyone everywhere. When the Bachs asked him how many there were, the surprising answer was, "One, Richard. There is one."

This may sound odd to those who are Christians, but that is actually one of the basic themes of Christianity too. We sing:

We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity
May one day be restored.

Isn't this the same thing? Is it not acknowledging that we have a unity with one another and with God? It even echoes John Donne, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were..."

So, keeping that in mind, whenever I pray, while I start with myself and my family and friends, I always expand outward to include everyone everywhere. Whoever you are, I pray for you, my very extended family.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Have You Ever Considered...

It has often occurred to me that things would be a lot different if certain turning points in history did not happen. Moving back to the South has made me think more about the War Between the States (as I was taught to call it... you may know it as the Civil War). What would Reconstruction have looked like if Lincoln had not been assassinated? The man who ordered the band to play Dixie in tribute to his fallen enemy would not have run things the way his successors did. How about before that? What if Stonewall Jackson had lived? He was a brilliant strategist and might contributed to the Confederacy winning the war. What if the Confederacy had won the war? Would what is now the US be two countries... or more? (For the record, I don't believe slavery as a way of life would have survived in any case... it was not efficient... but I think blacks in the South would still be living in segregation if the Confederacy existed as a separate nation.) As you can see, there are a lot of "What If"s? around and there are those who believe that every major turning point spins off its own alternate universe where that course of events is the reality. I think it's possible.

Here is another that intrigues me even more than the one mentioned above. Celts were widespread across Europe. There were Celtic settlements in the Middle East (Saint Paul's Galations were Celts as much as Julius Caesar's Gauls) and Celtic mercenaries in Egypt. So why are Celts reduced to remnants on the fringe of Europe? Because they never united with one another but fought as individual or, occasionally, allied clans. What if there was someone who could have united them to fight together in the early days of Roman aggression? What if there was a Celtic Empire instead of a Roman Empire. It would be a different world and I often wonder what that world would have been like.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Greetings, Old Souls!

You see, I am making an assumption here because if you are interested in thinking outside the box you are likely to be an old soul. You have the ability to picture alternative universes, past lives, earth changes, what history would have been like if this event or that had not taken place. The world may not know it and some of your friends may not know it, but YOU are one of the coolest, most evolved people on the planet.

If there is any interest out there regarding these topics, I am very excited to find people like you who would like to discuss them. :)