Maplewood Drive

Last night I dreamt I returned to the house on Maplewood Drive, where the old Oak tree spreads its branches over the front yard. In my memory the tree still keeps watch over the children playing in its dappling shade, even though it was uprooted in a terrible storm long ago, The vision of the sun on its golden leaves pierces my heart with gladness. It tells me my life was not lived in vain.

The concrete walkway which still divides the lawn, leads to the glassed-in porch rising above the bricked-in receptacle for flowers. After summer’s end the flowers will begin to die. The leaves will turn to gold and then brown as they fall, waiting for the rake to tease them into mounds for the children to laugh and leap into. Later, when the snow comes, when sunlight glitters on melting icicles hanging from gutters, the children will need new winter coats.

The house fit my vision of an older home, cheap, most likely in need of repair, but in a good location near a school; a used swing set would be found. The school lay just beyond three houses on our side of the street. An actual boon, as I often had to remind a child to watch for traffic before crossing the street.

When we bought the house its white paint was blistered by the sun, peeling randomly. Later, we painted it blue. Foreverafter, It would be called “the blue house” in a term of affection, even after it had been painted gray.

Maplewood was many things, to the children and to me. Also, in a different sense, to their father. You may later wonder why he’s left out of these passages—the reason being simple; his involvement with us was due to an act of generosity on his part, which, although bringing him gifts he hadn’t anticipated, derailed him from the life he’d sought.

When I told him of a time I’d felt downhearted but reminded myself of why I should be joyful, saying how it brought back my joy, driving the darkness away, he was shocked. “You manipulate yourself!” he exclaimed.

A brilliant man, he felt no need to monitor himself. Self-monitoring involves the ability to monitor and regulate emotions and behaviors in response to social environments and situations, being aware of your behavior and the impact it has on others.

Gratefully, I was able to cooperate with fate by modifying my lot so that today I rejoice in my memories of Maplewood Drive, knowing it was all worthwhile.  

Are You Among the Living Dead?

Napoleon is alleged to have said “History is a lie agreed upon.” But what of your personal history, the one you carry around in your head? Is it a lie? How often in recalling past events have you changed your mind about what you believe happened? Memory can be a funny thing,  allowing doubts to creep in and change your perspective. That’s because you’ve been learning new things, things which should’ve thrown past beliefs into doubt. You’re a living, changing organism, interacting with the world of people and events every day, which allows you to add the new things you’ve learned. If you insist on hanging onto what you once believed to be true in the past, in spite of new knowledge, you’re in danger of dying of old age before you’re old enough to suffer from dementia. Some people die of old age in their thirties or even twenties! You probably know some. They don’t even know they’re dead. They still carry the past, never daring to question what they once believed.

Everything is Beautiful in its Own Way

Remember that song by Ray Stevens?

“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

“Everything is beautiful in it’s own way
Like a starry summer night
On a snow covered winter’s day
And everybody’s beautiful in their own way
Under God’s Heaven
The world’s gonna find the way…”

The world has become so much more beautiful due to my recent cataract surgery! I can’t believe how much brighter everything is. When I look around the room or stare out my window I’m amazed; it’s like looking at beautiful paintings in an art gallery. I had not realized a debilitating dullness had crept into my life through a film growing over my eyes. Or that I would become so much happier after the dullness was removed. That everything could be beautiful again.

I can’t help but wonder–if those old guys in Washington DC and others of our leaders who are busy fighting each other had their vision cleared, would they re-discover the beauty they’ve lost sight of, as I did? With clearer vision, would they work together to solve our problems, instead of terrorizing the rest of us?

Welcome to the Age of Dissent

“Dissenters are often portrayed as selfish and disloyal, but Sunstein shows that those who reject pressures imposed by others perform valuable social functions, often at their own expense. This is true for dissenters in boardrooms, churches, unions, and academia. It is true for dissenters in the White House, Congress during times of war and peace.”  Excerpted from “Why Societies Need Dissent” by Cass R. Sunstein

In attempts to explain various periods of time, history books are riddled with AGES: the “AGE of this” or the “AGE of that”.  Will future historians call the times we are now living through the “AGE  of Dissent”? Or the “AGE of Stupidity”?

Being neither a historian nor a genius, I was led to ponder where I fit in until I finally understood I had become a contrarian—one who is, of course, contrary; we do not wish to fit in.

We’ve reached a dichotomy. The time will come soon when we must start anew. Find the best that’s in you and use it to start your New World.

Why Hillbilly Elegy Is A Bad Title

ABOUT HILLBILLY ELEGY: I refuse to read this book by JD Vance nor will I watch the movie. A “hillbilly” is “an unsophisticated country person, associated originally with the remote regions of the Appalachians.” I am one of them and I’m proud of it. I’m more self-educated than not, having come from a “hillbilly” family who believes reading books and “larning” things is so much fun it don’t leave any room for foolishness.

Where JD went wrong is he blames his terrible treatment while growing up on what he calls the “hillbilly culture” There ain’t no such thing. Bad people and bad treatment are everywhere, probably more so in the cities and towns than in the mountains. Why slander “hillbillies!” It’s a misuse of the word through blaming the lowest level of society on the mountain people.

His title and the book’s premise are both wrong.

I did watch his interview with Megyn Kelly and my heart went out to him. I could see he had withstood terrible hurts from his past. To be completely healed he may have to hold those who mistreated him accountable, cut them from his life. After all, there is no excuse for the mistreatment of children, not due to drugs nor anything else. Instead of him forgiving others at his own cost, the ones who injured him should be the ones made to suffer.

I made a previous post about JD Vance’s book before I watched the Megyn Kelly interview. Watching him respond to her many questions aroused my feelings for him. I wish him a true healing from what was obviously a horrible childhood.