Thinkerfromiowa's Blog

Conversation about a variety of subjects

The Need To Be Appreciated

The Need to Be Appreciated

Hello, everyone.

Last Sunday, September 10, Lloyd Newell gave a meditation with the above title on the program “Music And The Spoken Word.”  On this one occasion, I am going to quote it verbatim.

“We all know that every person has basic needs: food, water, shelter. But we don’t often think of some less-visible needs. The philosopher and psychologist William James is credited with saying, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” And yet so many people go days, weeks, months, or even longer without ever hearing a word of thanks or getting any recognition for their good work.

“Conveying appreciation costs so little, but it means so much. A little effort—a word or two, a note, a smile, a hug—can express how much we appreciate another person and give credit where credit is due. It can be surprising how profoundly such an act of appreciation can change people’s attitude about their work and effort and inspire them to do more. It’s hard to forget a genuine compliment or a sincere expression of appreciation and admiration. We treasure it always.

“Unfortunately, noticing the good that others are doing does not always come naturally. So the first step to helping others feel appreciated is simply to notice.

“A woman who oversaw a large community event discovered that few people took the time to thank her or even acknowledge her hard and unpaid work. She resolved to have a more abundant heart and pay attention to the service of others. A man who worked for several years under supervisors who rarely acknowledged his work or appreciated his extra efforts determined to be different if he ever became the boss. Now he is the boss, and he continually looks for ways to recognize and thank people. A mom and dad learned early in parenting that they strengthen bonds with their children and positively motivate them when they say things like “I noticed how hard you worked on that” or “Thank you for being so kind today.” All these people have learned the value of creating a generous, positive, appreciative culture, and it works in an organization, in a home, and in the heart.

“If it is true that humanity’s deepest need is the need to be appreciated, then perhaps our next greatest need should be to show appreciation—to make a difference in someone’s life by expressing how much we appreciate a job well done.”

-Lloyd D. Newell

September 10, 2017

Newell is totally correct.  We all need to know that we are loved and appreciated.

Like everyone else, I have gotten my share of “thanks until you’re better paid” comments.  Back in the 70s, I was the accompanist for a singer who had to be the focus of everything and everyone.  He was an only child, and this fact permeated his personality.  What is sad is the fact that I can’t recall one time when he actually expressed his appreciation for me and my efforts.  His parents did, and I thanked them and appreciated their kindness, but a few words from him would have made my time with him.

In my diary about class reunions, I shared the experiences of my 25th – and 40th – year reunions.  At the first one, we were all friends and equals.  Laughter and memories – and appreciation – were abundantly shared.  At the latter, that all went by the boards, and the cliques that existed during our student days were manifest and rampant.  We outsiders shared our friendship and appreciation of each other, but it just wasn’t the same as our earlier reunion.

It is a psychological fact that each and every one of us needs to be affirmed – and affirmed regularly.  MANY years ago, I read a story about an American lady who visited a German orphanage.  A darling little girl came up to the American and said several times, “Bitte liebe mich.”  The lady never responded, and the little girl finally walked away and sat down in a corner of the room and began to cry.  The lady at the orphanage asked the American, “How could you turn your back on that poor little girl?”  The American said that she couldn’t understand what the girl was saying.  The other lady answered, “She was saying, ‘Please love me.’”  The American lady had the German lady bring the little girl back to her.  She then hugged the little girl and said over and over, “Ich liebe dich!” (“I love you!”)  I don’t think the story said so, but I can picture the little girl’s face lighting up brighter than a million suns.

In this diary, I have used the words “appreciation” and “love” interchangeably, because I believe that they ARE interchangeable.  If you love someone, you appreciate them.  Conversely, if you appreciate someone, you love them.  It is almost impossible for one to appreciate an enemy.

Appreciation can be expressed in so many ways – a smile, a hug, a kiss, a clasp of the hand, a pat on the shoulder, a kind word, even a gift.  HOW appreciation is expressed is not what is important.  What IS important is that appreciation for another person be expressed.

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  William James is absolutely correct.  It is amazing what love, understanding, and appreciation can do to the human soul.

You all have a good day today and a great day tomorrow.

Bill

 

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September 14, 2017 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The Class Reunion

The Class Reunion

Hello, everyone.

There are several rites of passage that we go through in our sojourn from infancy to adulthood, like the first day of school, graduating from elementary or middle school into high school, the first after-school job, the day we get our driver’s license, etc.  But the three major ones – the ones that mark our passage from childhood to adulthood – are in our senior year and some time later – the prom, graduation, and the class reunion.

The prom is a significant rite of passage because it is our last social event as high-school students.  For some high-school sweethearts, it is the night that marriage is proposed and accepted or rejected.  For us stags, it is one last opportunity to have an evening together before we graduate and go our separate ways to parts unknown.

Graduation is always called “Commencement,” and what an absolutely true description it is!  It is the end of our lives as students and children and the commencement of our lives as adults.  For some, it means marriage, like I said earlier.  For others, it means an actual, honest-to-goodness job.  For still others, it means military service.  And for yet others it is the bridge between high school and college.

The high-school reunion is a whole different matter.  For some, it is a time to reunite and seek the renewal of those unbreakable bonds that were formed in high school.  For others, it is a time to gather and see people from the past and also to see how we all have changed since the days that we were in Miss Grundy’s homeroom or Mr. Rehnbke’s shop class.  For still others, it is an event along the road from Point A to Point B.

I did not attend my 10-year reunion because I was living out in Montana and it would not have been practical for me to go back.

I did attend my 25th reunion, and I had a wonderful time.  I sat at the same table as a guy I never really knew in high school, and in the three hours we were there, Dennis and I got to know each other better than we ever did during 4 years of high school!  I also danced with a girl I always thought was neat and cute.  She had lived in the country, and if I had been able to drive, I would definitely have pursued her.  I also danced with a girl named Georgina, whom I had known since third grade.  I told her that I had a HUGE crush on her in third grade, and she laughed and said that she knew it.  We both shared some nice laughs over those wonderful long-ago days.

In short, my 25th class reunion was so wonderful and marvelous that I decided to attend the next major reunion we had, which was the 40th reunion in 2000.  I went to that one and vowed to NEVER AGAIN attend a reunion.

Carol and I lived in Colorado, and since I don’t drive, it was a 2-day trip.  We got into Albia on a Friday.  There was an informal get-together at a restaurant and bar that night, with the actual reunion the next evening at the Country Club.  Albia was celebrating a local festival called “Restoration Days,” in honor of the restoration of our Victorian town square in the 80s.  The parade was next morning, and our class was to be on a float in the parade.

We had our informal get-together, and someone said that we were to meet at the high school to get on the float.  On our way home to my mother’s house, where we were staying, I said that I wanted to ride the float, but that Carol didn’t need to drive me to the high school.  I would walk there, just like I used to do all those years ago.  Carol said that that was fine.

The next morning, I got up, had breakfast, got ready, and walked to the high school.  But there was no one there!  There wasn’t a float either.  I ran into an old friend from my days in the Methodist Church in Albia, and we visited and caught up on things.  I said that I was there to ride our class’s float in the parade, and he said that there hadn’t been anyone around the school and there wasn’t any float there during the time that he was there.  I told him that I had a very good idea of what happened.  We chatted some more, and then I walked back home.

As soon as I walked in the door, Mother asked me, “Is the parade over all ready?” and I told her that I didn’t ride in the parade.  She asked me why, and I told her that there was no float or anyone there at the high school.  Carol said that they had said last night to meet at the high school to ride the float, and I said yes they did, but apparently they had changed their minds after we left.  Mother then said, “They didn’t want you on the float with them?” and I said, apparently not.  Carol then said, “I have always heard that small towns are cliquish.”  Mother then said, “Albia is, believe you me!  All three of the kids went through what Bill did this morning all of the time that they were in that high school.”

My brother and his family from Davenport came shortly afterward, and we all had a nice visit.  My brother from Des Moines came down for a few hours on Sunday, and Mother had all of her boys home once again.

A few days later, it was time to return to Colorado.  As we went down the road, I apologized profusely to Carol for her having to drive and for having come to Iowa for this fiasco.  She said, “Honey, the trip wasn’t a fiasco.  You had a nice visit with your mother and you got to see your brothers again.  Those two things made the trip worthwhile.”  That was the kind of woman she was.

We drove on, and then she said, “Honey, I have made an ironclad decision.”  I asked her what it was.  She said, “My 50-year reunion is coming up in four years, and I have decided that I am definitely NOT going back for it!”  I said, “Are you sure?”  She said, “Absolutely!!  I saw how hurt and disappointed you were when your class didn’t want you on their float.  The kids in my class treated me like the kids in your class treated you, and I have no desire in the world for putting myself through what you went through this weekend.”  Sure enough, when 2004 came, not a single word was said about going back to Wisconsin for her class reunion.  My experiences at my 40th reunion definitely made an impression with her.

So what is the take-away from this experience?  Mainly this:  Be very, VERY aware that the position that you occupied in high school will be the position that you occupy at the reunion.  If you were in a clique in school, that clique will be alive and well and ready to re-form at the reunion.  If you were an outsider in school, you will be an outsider at the reunion.  And if people didn’t have a lot to do with you in school, you will not be invited to be a part of anything special like riding a float in a parade.  It is hard and sad, I know, but that is just the way things are.

I know that someone will say that not all reunions are like this, and he or she is right.  My 25th reunion was wonderful and glorious, and it was because of this fact that I put myself through the awful weekend of my 40th.  But too many reunions ARE exactly like my 40th, and this is why I wrote this diary — to try to spare someone the pain and disappointment that I experienced.

There is an old Chinese axiom that says, “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me!!”  I am a VERY FIRM pracxtitioner of that philosophy.  I got fooled once into putting myself through the agony of my 40th reunion.  I will NOT put myself through it a second time.  For that reason I have determined that I will NEVER, EVER AGAIN attend a reunion of my high-school graduating class.  I made that decision myself, and I am just fine with it.

Thank you for allowing me to vent for once.  I appreciate your time and patience.  All of you have a good day tomorrow and in the days to come.

Bill

August 27, 2017 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous | , , | Leave a comment

The Gift of the Magi — Part II

The Gift of the Magi – Part II

Hello, everyone.

Yesterday, I posted a diary about O Henry’s magnificent little story, “The Gift of the Magi.”

This morning, on my Facebook wall, I found a story that has been around a long time.  But as I saw the header, I thought, how beautifully this story compliments my diary of yesterday.  I have no idea who first told this story, but whoever he is, all credit goes to him.  Here is the story.

“There once was a farmer who had some puppies for sale.  He made a sign advertising the pups and nailed it to a post on the edge of his yard.  As he was nailing the sign to the post, he felt a tug on his overalls.

“He looked down to see a little boy with a big grin and something in his hand.

“‘Mister,’ he said, ‘I want to buy one of your puppies.’

“‘Well,’ said the farmer, ‘these puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal.’

“The boy dropped his head for a moment, then looked back up at the farmer and said, ‘I’ve got thirty-nine cents.  Is that enough to take a look?’

“‘Sure,’ said the farmer, and with that he whistled and called out, ‘Dolly.  Here, Dolly.’  Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly Followed by four little balls of fur.  The little boy’s eyes danced with delight.

“Then out from the doghouse peeked another little ball; this one noticeably smaller.  Down the ramp it slid and began hobbling in an unrewarded attempt to catch up with the others.  The little boy pressed his face to the fence and cried out, ‘I want that one,’ pointing to the runt.

“The farmer knelt down and said, ‘Son, you don’t want that puppy.  He will never be able to run and play with you the way you would like.’

“With that, the boy reached down and slowly pulled up one leg of his trousers.  In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.  Looking up at the farmer, he said, ‘You see, sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.’

“A little choked up, the farmer gently lifted the puppy up and set it in the boy’s arms.

“‘How much?’ the little boy asked.

There is no charge for love,’ responded the farmer.”

There is no charge for love!

In O Henry’s story, Jim and Della Young each sold his and her most prized possession to buy the other a gift that enhanced that possession.  That is the ultimate expression of love.

But so is the story about the crippled little boy and the crippled little puppy.  It is heart-rending to see him skip the healthy puppies and choose the crippled little runt.  It takes a special person to choose the one with imperfections.

People make a big deal about the birthday of “Jesus.”  They call him the “prince of peace” and “Love personified.”

How wrong they are!  “Jesus” NEVER learned the lesson that Jim and Della Young have to teach, or the one that the little boy has to teach, for that matter.  In Matthew 10, he flat-out says that anyone who loves anyone else more than they love him is not worthy of him – a megalomaniacal statement if there ever was one! In Luke 14:26, he demands that we hate those who are dearest to us in order to be his disciple.  The word “hate” used here is interesting.  It does NOT mean “love less,” like Christians would have you believe.  The original Greek word is ”miseo,” which means “hate, detest, despise, abhor.”  The word exists today in our words “misogyny” – the hatred of women, and ”misanthrope” – someone who hates mankind.

It is interesting to note that NOWHERE in the four Gospels is “Jesus” ever recorded as saying the simple little phrase “I love you,”  nor is God ever recorded in the Old Testament as expressing love for his creation, including man.

Jim and Della Young teach a wonderful lesson about what true love really is.  So does the little boy in the story above.  And those lessons can best be expressed in the farmer’s statement, “There is no charge for love.”

There is another beautiful statement that expresses the farmer’s statement in a longer statement.  That statement is I Corinthians 13.

“There is no charge for love.”  That is a message that is worth remembering and living by for the entire year, not just at Christmas.

Seasons Greetings, and may each of you have a blessed holiday season.

Bill

 

December 25, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Religion | , , | Leave a comment

The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of the Magi

Hello, everyone.

It is Christmas time yet again, and that means that in churches and homes across the land, people will be reading about and singing about the so-called “Christmas Story” in Luke 2.  However, there is a story that, in my opinion, captures the REAL story of Christmas far better than the Luke yarn, and that is the story “The Gift of the Magi,” by William Sydney Porter, better known as O Henry.  I reread the story in preparation for this diary, and here is the link I used:  https://www.auburn.edu/~vestmon/Gift_of_the_Magi.html

I first learned of the story 60 years ago when I was a freshman in high school.  Being a boy, I approached the story as a boy, but at the same time, there was something about that story that grabbed me and never let me go.

Everyone knows the story, so I don’t have to rehearse it here.  It is the story of a young couple, Jim and Della Young, who had no money but who loved each other almost to the point of death.  A key element in the story is that each had a possession that he or she was tremendously proud of.  Here is O Henry’s description of those prized possessions:

“Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.”

They loved their possessions, but they loved each other even more.  And Christmas being Christmas, with the overemphasis on the financial side of the holiday, they wanted to celebrate, to the point that each did the most supreme act for each other that they could do.

As I said earlier everyone knows the story, so I don’t have to retell it.  So I will move to the last 2 paragraphs of the story:

“”Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

“The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

I cried as I reread the story.  I am fighting to keep from crying as I type this.  Why?  Because this story is possibly the greatest expression of love that was ever written.

My late wife Carol and I lived in California, and we had a hard life out there.  I was never able to find a real job – jobs were nonexistent when we were there – so we had to live on Carol’s salary as a church secretary.  We were so much like Jim and Della that it was not funny.  The main difference is that instead of a watch and glorious hair, our prized possessions were each other.  Carol and I loved each other to the same degree that Jim and Della did.

Earlier, I said that that I thought that “The Gift of the Magi” was a far greater Christmas story than the story in Luke 2.  How so?  During this season, for some bizarre reason, our focus is on each other and our love for each other.  We want to care about and do for those who are the most precious people on earth to us.  Sometimes even old grudges are swept away and relationships restored.  Like the song says, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, not because of some baby born somewhere – if that event really happened – but because the thought of “peace on earth, good will toward men” actually does hold sway to some degree.

If the truth be known, towns and cities are filled with copies of Jim and Della Young – people who truly love each other to the point of sacrificing for them.  These sacrifices need not be monetary or even of one’s most prized possessions.  The sacrifices can be of time, such as helping someone in a store reach for something or helping a person who has fallen on the ice.  They can be spiritual in understanding and accepting someone who doesn’t believe as you do.  It can be one’s pride, such as realizing that no political position is worth sacrificing a friendship or relationship that has existed for decades.  As O Henry says, of those who give gifts, those who give the gifts that I have mentioned are the wisest people.  They are the Magi.

Seasons Greetings, and may each of you have a blessed holiday season.

Bill

 

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

The Forgotten Man

The Forgotten Man

Hello, everyone.

I live in Western Colorado,  and I get BYUTV on my cable system.  There is one program that I never miss, and that is “Music and the Spoken Word,” which features the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  A very gifted speaker named Lloyd Newell always gives a meditation during the program.   This program is in effect my church.  There is no “praise music,” or preachers ranting and belching about “Jesus” or “The Blood” or “the Cross.”  It is just high-quality music and a meditation by a guy who could just as easily be sitting across the table from me, talking in a normal, friendly voice.

On yesterday’s (10/30) program, Lloyd gave a meditation titled “The Promise of Better Days.  Here it is:

“Maynard Dixon, a prolific artist from the previous century, is best known for his vibrant paintings of the American West. He spent much of his life roaming the western United States, which he loved so much, capturing on canvas images of the peoples and places he saw. But during the Great Depression in the 1930s, Dixon’s artistic focus changed: he painted a series of images depicting striking and displaced workers. One of those paintings, Forgotten Man, captured the poignant feelings of so many people during that time.

“A man sits on the curb with his head down and his back against a wall of anonymous legs. The people behind him seem to pass by quickly—they are engaged in life, purposeful, going somewhere. But this person, this forgotten man, sits unseen, cast aside and ignored by those around him. He seems dejected, worn out, exhausted with life.

“Maynard Dixon’s painting has a certain timelessness about it. Who has not felt lonely or forgotten at times? At times it seems like everyone else is moving forward, productive and successful. Meanwhile, we may feel that the world is passing us by—that we are forgotten.

“At such times, it’s helpful to remember that no matter how we are treated by others, we are never forgotten by God. He has placed good things in our lives that can brighten our outlook if we will only seek them. He has sent us here with a purpose—to bring goodness to our little part of the world. We can start by realizing that we aren’t the only ones who may feel forgotten. We can notice the unnoticed. We can strive to do something each day—perhaps some little thing—that helps lift someone who is down. We can do our part to help ensure that there are no forgotten men or forgotten women.

“If we can do this, the seed of hope will begin to take root and grow in our heart. Most often, it won’t be a quick or dramatic change, but in small and simple ways, the light of hope and the promise of better days will come.

“-Lloyd D. Newell”

When I listened to this, there was a part that stuck out above the rest.  Here are those 2 paragraphs:

“A man sits on the curb with his head down and his back against a wall of anonymous legs. The people behind him seem to pass by quickly—they are engaged in life, purposeful, going somewhere. But this person, this forgotten man, sits unseen, cast aside and ignored by those around him. He seems dejected, worn out, exhausted with life.

”Maynard Dixon’s painting has a certain timelessness about it. Who has not felt lonely or forgotten at times? At times it seems like everyone else is moving forward, productive and successful. Meanwhile, we may feel that the world is passing us by—that we are forgotten. “

What Lloyd Newell says is true; we all feel neglected and forgotten at times.  That is just human nature.  But what is sad is that there is a lot of truth behind those feelings.  A lot of us ARE forgotten.  That is especially true of us seniors or someone who has lost a spouse.  One unforgettable episode of the program “Little House on the Prairie” involves a woman who is so desperate to see her own children that she fakes her own funeral to get them to come home.

And in real life, when one loses a spouse, the spouse’s family quite often treats the widow or widower as though he or she does not exist.  People whom one was once so close to no longer want anything to do with them.  That happened to my mother when my stepfather died, and it happened to me also when my late wife Carol died.

It isn’t just individuals who are that way.  Nations are as well.  This country has day after day after day throughout the year when the veterans and service people are honored.  But what about those who couldn’t serve because of physical problems?  What about the civilians who kept the home fires burning and the nation humming while the guys and girls went off to war?  Don’t those people count in the nation’s estimation?  Apparently not, because there is no recognition of them or honoring them in the nation’s year.

Several years ago, one of the phone companies had an unforgettable commercial.  In it, an older guy was talking about his boyhood friend and how the other boy’s mother called them “Pete and repeat” and how he was godfather to his friend’s daughter.  He apparently hadn’t talked to his friend in years.  The commercial went on, and at the end, it showed the old guy on the phone, laughing and talking.  He had apparently reconnected with his boyhood friend.

This happens all the time.  As we live our lives, our significant others change and the once significant ones are exchanged for the current ones.  There is one thing that Facebook has done that is totally worthy, and that is that it has made it possible to reconnect with the once-significant people in our lives. In my case, I have gotten rejoined with several members of my high-school class, and I even got rejoined with a former student of mine whom I loved deeply when she was in my classes.  I also have been able to be joined with some very dear cousins whom I love dearly.

But relationships can go south, and we can be forgotten once again.  At one time, I was a raging Liberal firebrand.  My ex-student got rejoined at this time, and she was a raging Liberal also.  Every mail run or every Facebook visit, there would be something from her.  One time, we were in a back-and-forth, and I set up to print the exchange and it ran to 3 pages!  Roxy and I were drinking out of the same glass.

But that all changed when I got home from my month-long trip around and across the country 2 years ago.  I had seen and experienced much, and I was not the same person.  Where I once worshiped Barack Obama, I now vilified him.  I found good, decent, wonderful people, and I could not help loving them.  I went from being a raging Liberal firebrand to being a strong Moderate who leaned Republican, and that switch doomed my friendship with my former student.  She now has little to nothing to do with me, and I am again the forgotten man.

Yes, we all can become The Forgotten Man through no fault of ourselves.  But, as Lloyd Newell said, these times of being forgotten can lead to the promise of better times.  We have to believe that.  We MUST believe it if we want to keep our sanity.

You all have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

 

 

 

 

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

I Miss Him — The Old Man

I Miss Him – The Old Man

Hello, everyone.

Today, June 19, 2016, is Father’s Day.  I want to begin this diary with the lyrics to a song written by Phil Coulter:

Copyright 1981, Four Seasons Music, Ltd.

The tears have all been shed now
we´ve said our last goodbyes
His souls been blessed
He’s laid to rest
And it´s now I feel alone
He was more than just a father
A teacher my best friend
He can still be heard
In the tunes we shared
When we play them on our own

[Chorus]
I never will forget him
For he made me “what I am”
Though he may be gone
Memories linger on
And I miss him, the old man

As a boy he’d take me walking
By mountain field and stream
And he showed me things
not known to kings
And secret between him and me
Like the colors of the pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the Holly Tree

Chorus

I thought he’d live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly
And the years roll by
For a father and a son
And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance
To tell him thanks
For everything he’s done

Chorus

The first time I heard this song was a night when my Carol and I watched the Three Irish Tenors.  John McDermott sang this song, and I cried all the way through it.  Carol tried to comfort me and asked me what was wrong.  I told her that this song opened up some old wounds involving my stepfather.  She understood and gave me a loving I deeply needed.

My biological “father” walked out on my mother when she was pregnant with me.  A couple of years later, a fine gentleman named Charles T. Chambers met my mother and eventually married her.  In time, he adopted me as his son.  His own mother died when he was a young boy, so he never really knew a mother’s love.  He had to quit school when he was in the second grade to try to earn a little money for his family.  My mother often told me how happy he was to get a family all at once – a wife, a little son, and a mom and dad.

My grandpa was the greatest man I ever knew, and he accepted Dad as his own son.  His wife didn’t, though.  She hated and despised him – for no known legitimate reason – and refused to even let him inside her house.  I  lived with Grandpa and grandma, but Dad wanted me to live with him and Mother.  But that bitch of a mother-in-law he had refused to consider it and threatened him with legal action if he persisted in wanting us to be a true family.  I finally went to live with him and Mother when grandma became too sick to continue living in her house.

Thanks to her, I never had a good relationship with him.  Granted, he was a laborer and outdoorsman and I was a scholar and a brain, but still, I didn’t have the relationship with him that I really wanted.  I can understand his not understanding me, but still.  I eventually came to understand that it was not necessarily me – I was just his outlet – but it was how his in-laws had treated him.

I knew that in his own way, Dad loved me, for it came through in little ways from time to time.  The folks moved me to Wolf Point, Montana, in 1969 so I could take a job there.  Mother mentioned several times how on the trip back to Iowa, Dad talked about how hard it was for him to leave me all alone out there.  I moved back to Iowa a year later because of my health.  I had a horrible time finding work, and Dad kept after me mercilessly.  He just could not understand that guys with disabilities had difficulty in finding people who would hire them.  His treatment hurt me deeply, but I understood where he was coming from.

I remember the last time that I ever saw him.  As time went on, I moved to the north suburbs of Chicago, got married, and found a job.  He had developed cancer – of the liver, I believe – and was in the Veteran’s Hospital in Iowa City.  My brother Tommy and I went back to see him.  I didn’t have a lot to say because there was too much that I wanted to say to him.  A week later, I got the call that he was gone.

In Matthew 10 and Luke 14, “Jesus Christ” said some things that troubled me deeply and eventually led to my renouncing him.  “Jesus” said that we were not worthy of him and could not be his disciples if we loved anyone more than we loved him.  I loved Dad.  I could never renounce him for any hairy “Jesus.”  I took his passing hard because there was so much that I wanted to say to him, but couldn’t.

I sometimes wonder how different things would have been if his bitch of a mother-in-law had treated him with even a sliver of the respect that he deserved.  I will never know.  I think that he truly wanted to be a Dad to me, but just didn’t know how.  I knew I wanted to be a son to him, but I didn’t know how.

Phil Coulter said it well:

I never will forget him
For he made me “what I am”
Though he may be gone
Memories linger on
And I miss him, the old man

Have yourselves a great day and a great Father’s Day.  And if you still have your dad here with you, give him an extra dose of love today.  You’ll be so glad that you did.

Bill

 

June 19, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Hymn to a Brother

Hymn to a brother

Hello, everyone.

This is going to be a personal diary, so bear with me. According to Facebook, today (4/10/16) is “Sibling Day.” I had two siblings. One is still with us, but one has passed on. And it is that brother whom I want to honor today.

His name was Robert Thomas Chambers, but everybody called him “Tommy.” I know of only one person who ever hated him. That was my maternal grandmother, and she hated everything and everyone who had the name “Chambers.” But that is another story.

Tommy was born a little over 4 years after I was, and we were very close. My grandmother hated his being in the house, but he used to love coming to her house and being with me. When Grandma got sick and I moved down home, he was happy that we were together under one roof. Dad turned the attic into a bedroom and he and I slept up there. We would lay in bed and giggle and talk until Dad came to the foot of the stairs and yelled for us to go to sleep. He always yelled at Tommy, but it was meant for both of us. Not that it did any good, but it did make us quiet down to a degree.

Tommy and I did everything together. Sometimes we borrowed the family car and just drove around and talked. Other times we went to the bowling alley and bowled several lines each. If mother decided she was in the mood for a pizza burger or some pop or something else, we would “fly and buy.” Tommy drove and I bought the goodies.

Tommy went into the Navy about a month after I went to Aplington, Iowa, to start my first teaching job. After basic, he would get a pass and come home over the weekend, and a couple of times, Mother came to Aplington and got me and I had the weekend with him. Even then, things were like they were before, especially with Dad telling us to shut up and go to sleep. When he would call when I was home, we would always have a nice long talk.

One of the happiest times I’ve had in my life was the day after Christmas in 1965 when Tommy and I made a trip to Kansas City to visit an aunt and uncle and cousins who lived there. On Monday night, Tommy and our cousin Ronnie went to a movie while I went to lodge with Uncle Bill. The following night, we went to the movie and saw “The Sound of Music.” On Wednesday night we boys went to a drive-in and watched a movie titled “Boeing Boeing.” The plot was so convoluted that I won’t attempt to describe it. And during the day, we boys rode all over Kansas City North. We went home the next day.

Tommy was transferred to the air station in Rota, Spain the following April. He had 2 weeks’ furlough before he left, and he spent that at home. I was teaching in a town 10 miles away, so I stayed at home and he drove me to school each morning and picked me up in the afternoon.

He and I stood up for each other when we married. I was his best man and he was mine in my second wedding. The Assembly of God church in Waukegan, Illinois refused to let us get married in their church, so we got married at the United Methodist Church in Diamond Lake and then had a mock wedding in Waukegan. Tommy functioned as my best man for that.

Seven months after our wedding, I had eye surgery, and he was there for that. I was out of it due to the anesthesia, but I remember him asking me how I was feeling. One of my sweetest memories is that of his little daughter Michelle putting her little hand between the rails of my bed and patting my arm and saying, “Bye-bye, Uncle Bill.”

I lost my Ginny 5 ½ years after we married and I could not have gotten through that time without Tommy. He thought of details that I would never have thought of. He and Mae and the kids were close to me and both of my wives.

Tommy bought a house in Davenport, Iowa, and moved his family there. He still worked out of his office in Arlington Heights,and talked about renting a room around there. I told him no way; he was welcome to share my house if he wanted. I worked 3rd shift and he worked 1st, so it worked out beautifully. On my nights off, I slept on my couch. That was such a great time, almost like when we slept upstairs at home.

Mother moved out of our house and into a care facility in our home town. I used to call her every Sunday night to talk with her. On one of those calls, Mother said, “I don’t think that we are going to have Tommy with us much longer.” I asked her, “How’s that?” She said that he and his daughter Michelle had been down to see her the day before and that he spent the whole time lying on her bed, sicker than a dog. She said that she asked him why didn’t he stay home if he was so sick. He told her that he wanted to come. I feel that he made that trip to say good-bye to her.

A few weeks after that, I got the phone call that he was gone. I had lost Carol the previous Christmas, so I didn’t grieve for him. But one day, I was playing music videos on my computer, and I played Johann Strauss’s waltz “Roses From the South,” Something about that music took me back when we were boys, and I sat at my computer and cried like a baby for him. That pretty much gave me the closure that I needed.

Proverbs 18:24 tells us that there is a friend who sticks with us closer than a brother. Tommy was my brother, but he was also my friend. I miss him deeply, but he and I had some wonderful years and wonderful times together, and those memories are worth far more to me than all of the gold in Fort Knox.

I thank you all for indulging me and putting up with me on this special day. I just wanted to honor the greatest brother a guy could have, my brother Tommy.

You all have a great day tomorrow.

Bill

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous | , , | Leave a comment

No Man Is An Island

No Man Is an Island

No man is an island
No man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me
Each man’s grief is my own

We need one another
So I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend

I saw the people gather
I heard the music start
The song that they were singing
Is ringing in my heart

No man is an island
Way out in the blue
We all look to the one above
For our strength to renew


Hello, everyone.

I first heard this song almost 60 years ago in a high-school assembly. I have no idea who wrote it – web pages do not like to give the names of composers and lyricists – but whoever wrote it gets the honor. It is better than anything that I could come up with.

In 1624, English poet John Donne wrote a series of meditations about himself and his suffering from typhus, enteritis, or some other unknown disease. Possibly the best known meditation is Meditation XVIII, which contains the following paragraph:

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the SeaEurope is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.[22] [Donne’s original spelling and punctuation]

I’ll put it in 2016 form:

No man is an Island, entirely 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 a promontory were, as well as if a Mannor (?) of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

(That was harder than I thought it would be. And I have a Masters in English Education!!)

No Man Is An Island. Think about what Donne is saying. As much as we may want to be individual entities and be all by ourselves, we cannot do so, because that is not the way that society was designed. Each of us was designed to be a cog in that machine called Society. And Society needs each of us to do his part – doctors to treat our physical conditions and diseases; lawyers to guarantee that we get justice; police to enforce the laws and keep us safe; factory workers who make the products that we use; military people to defend the country; pastors and theologians to teach us about God; entreprenneurs to create jobs and invent ways to improve society; farmers to provide our food; millionaires and billionaires to fund the entreprenneurs; scientists to teach us about the physical world and also to invent vaccines and other means to improve our lives; musicians and movie stars to entertain us; and teachers to educate us. Just as we cannot survive on our own, neither can these professions survive alone. Every one of them – and us – is needed for society to survive.

We are in the middle of a presidential race that could determine whether this country survives or not. One of the candidates – Donald Trump – has spoken many times of how we all are in this “America” thing together, and how we need to roll up our sleeves, join hands, and work to make this country great again. Another candidate – Bernie Sanders – says “NO!!” The only people that matter to him are the people in the slums and ghettos who contribute nothing to building this country. He, like all Liberals, have a hatred of the police and the people in the military. He and his party have come nowhere close to seeing the truth in Donne’s paragraph.

Fifty years ago, Simon & Garfunkel had a hit song that was the total antithesis to Donne’s words. The song was “I Am A Rock” by Paul Simon, and here are the last half of the second verse and the entirety of the fourth verse:

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
. . . .
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have news for you. For a lot of years, this song was my anthem. It stated my philosophy of life to a T. I was hurt so many times by women that I had decided that I never wanted a woman in my life, kind of like Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady.” I avoided people as much as I could because I simply could not handle any more pain or ridicule because of my physical handicap.

Then I met my Ginny, and she dragged me back into society. We married, only to have her die after too short a time. I then met and married Carol, who had the hobby of telling me what a wonderful guy I was. We had 20 incredible years together and then I lost her also.

Those two dear ladies showed me that I belonged in society and that society needed my little cog to run smoothly.

I am no longer a rock or an island. I have essentially learned the lesson that John Donne had to teach. I admit that I have some rough edges. I am not a Christian, so the Christians want nothing to do with me. I support Donald Trump, so a lot of Republicans don’t like me. I definitely have conservative ideas, so my former Liberal friends want nothing to do with me. But I am fine with all of that. I am a “clod of Europe,” as Donne would put it. I am ME! And I am doing my very little bit to not only help the machine of Society run smoothly, but also to help Donald Trump make this country great once again.

Thank you for bearing with me in this diary. May each of you have a great day tomorrow.

Bill

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Music, Politics, Religion | , , , | Leave a comment

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

“The Devil Made Me Do It”

Hello, everyone.

Back in the early 70s, Black comedian Flip Wilson made the phrase “the devil made me do it” a byword in this country.  If anyone needed an alibi for something he said or something he did, he had the perfect one in Wilson’s phrase.  Only God knows how much and for what the devil received the blame.

This phrase crossed my mind the other day, thanks to a Facebook comment I received.  Here is the last sentence of the e-mail:  “With this message I am unfriending you on FaceBook and hope to never hear another word from you again.”

What prompted this outburst?  Did I say anything unkind to him?  Did I smear his family or his reputation?  Did I try to start a flame war with him?  No.  My sin was that in a couple of comments and statuses, I expressed unhappiness with Amtrak and a dissatisfaction with Barak Obama and the job he was doing.

Or consider this.  Back from February, 1972, until June, 1974, I taught at a private Christian boarding high school in Iowa.  Around 2 ½ years ago, I got reconnected with a former student of mine on Facebook.  I liked this girl very much and we were fairly close at the school.  She seemed quite happy that we got reconnected, and we used to do long back-and-forths on Facebook.  But now she has nothing to do with me.  My sin?  I am not a Barak Obama worshiper.  Indeed, we had a rather acrimonious exchange on FB the other day.

This has really eaten at me for the past few days.  No one wants to lose a friend or family member?  What happened to these people?

The answer is not all that difficult.  In September of last year, I took a month-long trip on Amtrak around the country.  I had experiences and saw things that changed my life and my thinking completely.   And I no longer bought the Liberal bill of goods.

I will contrast this with a couple of my cousins.  They are both fine women with fine families.  And they are all Conservatives.  Before my epiphany last September, I was a firebrand Liberal.  I devoured the Crooks & Liars and Daily Kos websites and flooded Facebook with statuses where I posted articles from the sites.  While I was enjoying the friendship of my former student, I was hurting a lot of people who were dear to me.  But my trip saved those relationships, and now I have a relationship with a dear cousin in Texas that I would never allow anything to harm.

Consider both situations – the people who want nothing to do with me because I am not an Obama worshiper, and the people whom I hurt deeply, but still love and accept me because I am family.  Were they acts of free will?  Or to quote Flip Wilson, did “the devil make them do it”?  I would say yes.

To be sure, there are reactions that we have no control over.  Someone who has been in combat will react to sounds like a balloon popping, a car backfiring, or Fourth of July fireworks.  He is reacting out of his experiences.  Some reactions are inborn and we cannot control them.  While some boys carry insects and worms in their pockets, I loathed and detested them and wanted nothing to do with them, and I still feel that way.  People hate alcohol because they know of the harm that it can do to people and families.  And still others hate loud noises and react accordingly.  I was that way as a child, and I still am.

But there are other reactions that we CAN control.  Those are the ones that “the devil makes us do.”  My cousins could have disowned me, and now I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had.  But my cousin Nikki in particular has been most gracious.  She has never held all of my “before” actions against me, so far as I know, and she has welcomed me into her home, and even introduced me to some wonderful people who accept me, warts and all.  This was an act of will on her part and “the devil” – in her case, God – “made” her do it.

As for the Obama worshipers who no longer want anything to do with me, that also is an act of will, and “the devil” is making them do it.  One of the lubricants that make the machine of human relationships run smoothly is that of agreeing to disagree.  This concept does not declare that someone is right and the other person is wrong; it simply means that two people can disagree on a particular point, but that that disagreement is not great enough to rupture the relationship.  Or it means that the relationship is so important to the two people involved that no disagreement or anything else is going to be allowed to destroy that relationship.

In my exchange with my former student yesterday, a couple of times I made the statement that Barak Obama is not worth destroying a friendship over.  She never responded to that, either time.  Thus, I am beginning to deal with the fact that the relationship and friendship are both gone.  If so, that is an act of will on her part, and she is to be pitied because her world does not allow any dissention from the party line.  All of us are like that, to a degree, but most of us think that there are other things that matter more, and we are able to exercise our will to not let something that is important to us be damaged or destroyed by inconsequentials.

So yes, “the devil made me do it.”  And that can work for both good and bad.

Have yourselves a great day today.

Bill

 

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion | | Leave a comment

I Have Returned

I Have Returned

Hello, everyone.

In the course of my statuses on Facebook, I have shared about my attempts to have dialog with atheists, only to discover that they were incapable of sensible, rational, civil discourse.  I thought that I could throw out my belief in a supreme God and be just like them.  I found out just how wrong I was.

This morning, I read a tremendous article on my FB wall that was so tremendous, and described me so fully, that I archived that article and felt moved to do this diary.  Here is the URL to the article:

https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/former-atheist-a-n-wilson-returns-to-christianity/

Reading that article brought back to mind a song that I heard Kenneth Copeland sing many times.  It was the song “I Have Returned” by Marijohn Wilkin back in the early 70s.  Here is the URL for the song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4H4AL2NHVU

I have no idea what inspired Marijohn to write the song, but I think that it is possible that she passed through some dark night of the soul when she lost faith in everything, including faith itself.  But in any event, she recovered her faith and felt led to share her experience through her song.  Thank you VERY MUCH, Marijohn Wilkin.  More people have traveled your road than you realize.

This was actually my second such trip.  Back in the 80s, I made my first trip down this road when my first wife died.  At the time, I was filling my brain with stuff from Trinity Broadcasting Network, and that network drove me from my belief in God.  I was angry with God for taking my first wife, at the very same time that TBN was teaching me that I could have whatever I wanted, thanks to “Jesus.”  They quoted “Jesus’s” promises to give us whatever we ask for, with no conditions, no qualifiers, no if’s, and’s, or but’s.  I could not reconcile those verses, or TBN’s teachings, with my life experiences and my loss of my beloved wife.  That stupid network was destroying me.

But one night, on “The John Ankerberg Show,” I watched a man named Dave Hunt explaining how many Charismatic ministries had become corrupt through what was known at that time as “the New Age Movement, and he mentioned TBN specifically.  He had just written a book titled “The Seduction of Christianity,” and Ankenberg had him on to discuss his research.  Not long after that, Jimmy Swaggart had Hunt on a daily Bible study program that he had on TBN.  I of course ordered the book and marked it up royally with underlines and notes.  As a result, Dave Hunt showed me that I was blaming the wrong person.  God wasn’t at fault; the REAL problem was with TBN and the preposterous stuff that they were broadcasting.

My heart was so deeply touched and renewed, that I recalled Kenneth Copeland singing Marijohn’s song and saw how my experience paralleled that of Marijohn’s, and I typed up the lyrics the best that I could recall.  I went back home every year to visit my mother.  She attended the local Open Bible Church, and I would visit and play the piano for them.  One time, I sang “I Have Returned” for them, and ever since, I had to sing the song whenever I visited them when I was home.

That was then.  What about now?  Back in February, for no known reason other than cussed cockiness, I decided that I would try to engage atheists in discussion.  But they were incapable of intelligent, logical, civil discussion.  All they were capable of was beating up on and bullying me.  I pondered this behavior for several weeks, and then I came to the conclusion that they were not capable of civil behavior or friendly discussion because they had no belief in a Supreme Being.  They believed, and acted like, they were above obeying any set of rules.  I made this statement in a forum, and I won’t begin to describe the behavior that then ensued.  That was when I returned to being an unabashed worshiper of God.  I do not believe in “Jesus hrist” for a variety of reasons, but I DO believe in God, which makes me either a Deist, a Unitarian, or possibly both.

As I said, I pondered the uncivilized behaviors of the atheists, and I became totally convinced that it is impossible to behave in a civil manner, or to think in a logical manner, without a belief in a Supreme Being.  This Being, or “God,” if you will, gives us rules by which we are expected to conduct ourselves in thought, word, and deed.  When I joined the Masonic Lodge 50 years ago, I learned as an Entered apprentice and as a Fellowcraft how to conduct myself as a Mason and as a man.  Conducting ourselves in due form was demanded in the lodge, and thus it became a philosophy that I applied to my life – and is still a philosophy that I follow.

So do I regret my attempts of February and March?  Not in the least!  My efforts helped me to regain my sanity.  They also helped me to love and appreciate the good people I have in my life.  Would I do it again?  No, I wouldn’t, knowing what I know now.  I would far rather spend my time in conversation with my good people.  They all have functioning brains.

I have returned!  Thank God!!!

You all have a great day today.

Bill

 

 

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Religion | , , , , , | Leave a comment