A welcome to readers

As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:

Friday, July 20, 2012


President Obama spoke eloquently today in Florida about last night's senseless and tragic shooting here in my hometown of Denver.  Aurora is not far away. From my balcony I can see the silhouette of buildings in Aurora, I have driven past the theater (then, it was just another multiplex theater) on a number of occasions; now the Town Center of Aurora will never be just "another" part of Denver's urban sprawl any more than Columbine will ever be just "another" school.

Obama had this to say to each of us as we reflect on this tragedy and think about the meaning of our own lives:

"What matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it's not the trivial things, which so often consume us in our daily lives. Ultimately it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another." 

The President--the man, the father, the husband, the human being--hit the nail on the head.  He's right, and indisputably so.

At the same time, I confess that I have more than a little interest in (and confusion about) why we Americans rise up in outrage, when yappy news coverage blankets all media with the sensational and instant reporting of the deaths of 12 or so people, the serious wounding of maybe 40 more who were watching a violent, pop culture, midnight movie event at a local theater--and then, at the same time,  we (and the media) are able to sit back pretty calmly with our lattes as we read about the deaths in Afghanistan of over 2000 men and women (also human beings, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, but de-humanized in the media as "troops") who have been killed fighting for a less than obvious or noble cause--but who have nonetheless performed their dangerous duties (no soda and popcorn involved) admirably on behalf of all of us Americans. There is a cognitive dissonance, I think, in our (my) reaction.

Today I am outraged. I find it very hard to "love one another" when that "other" hates my guts and wants to kill me, or rob me, or lie to me, or cheat me, or treat me like ignorant trash. Today I am going to have to work very hard to love my fellow humans.

Actually, I find the admonition to "love one another" very difficult every day of the year, not just on this "day after Aurora." But as the Romans observed,  each day begins anew with a sunrise, an aurora. Maybe this Aurora can become a new beginning or dawn for me as well, and motivate me to become a better lover of my fellow man even while I struggle to forgive those who are intent on ending life or increasing suffering.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


So This is Nebraska

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

"So This Is Nebraska" by Ted Kooser, from Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
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I have driven through Nebraska several times, mostly on the way to somewhere else. For this reason, I have not looked as carefully as I might have at what the State had to offer.  Kooser made me see what I had missed seeing before in Nebraska--as I travelled there--but always going "through."

I wander how much of my life has been spent that way,  just "driving through,"  so to speak, on my way to somewhere else, a "somewhere else" defined by my parents, my ego, my family, my colleagues and friends, my society, my employer, my religion, my political party, my avarice, my need for control, for power-money-prestige, the temptations to have or be "more," my need to feel secure in a world that I see (often in desperation) as unchanging, immutable, and subject to my 'wise' manipulations (or magical thinking).

The other morning when I heard Garrison Keillor read Kooser's poem on  The Writers Almanac (sent to my Email daily by PBS), I was brought up short--not so much by pondering what I had missed in my various trips through Nebraska as by what I had missed in my life while so busily, and often blindly,  speeding "somewhere else," often at breakneck speed. This, in turn, caused me to reflect on and suffer for the folks I may have hurt along the way, intentionally as well as by neglect. And my ponderings then led me to wonder--tinged with momentary regret--about how much richer my life might have been had I lived it with the poet's sensitivity to what was happening beside the road--off in the fields--in the barns and homes and stores that I passed while speeding off to destinations that I deemed to be so important at the time.

I guess I am compelled to rethink both the experience of the routes I've taken as well as the value of the destinations I targeted. It may not be too late to make course changes.