Thursday, November 15, 2012

I must try harder to make my blog more interesting. I have a vacation next week and this will give me time to think about it. What prompted this is that I realized that all of the replies to my blog posts were ads for viagra and similar messages! What a stupid waste of a good concept! I realize that this is all automated, but still, I wish I could just reach out and say "all you spammers - atay away from here!"

Honk if you agree!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Money can't buy happiness

I was talking on the ham radio this morning to an old timer who grew up in Chicago. He was telling me how his father worked as a furniture buyer for a chain of large department stores and then became a stockbroker when he lost his job during the depression. It made me think about my own childhood.
My father worked as a car painter for a Chevrolet-Buick dealership. He probably didn’t make as much money as a furniture buyer or a stockbroker, but as a child growing up, I never had to do without anything important. I had my baseball bat and glove and my little red wagon. One of my uncles gave me a bicycle. We weren’t “dirt poor,” but I’m not sure if we qualified for “middle class.”
I married a woman that was also raised without a lot of available money. As we raised a family, we set out to try to provide for our children, but with four children, it was very tough. I guess I might have discovered why I was an only child! To this day, I have always felt bad that we were unable to give our children a car for high school graduation, nor could we provide them with a college education. Thinking back, I sincerely hope that they had everything important, as I did, but I’m not sure that I did as good a job as my own dad when it comes to this.
Thinking back on my childhood, I realize now that my experience was a lesson that money can’t buy. Without knowing, I learned many good things, such as “money isn’t everything,” and “the best things in life are free” and all of those other sayings that people without money toss around. All my life, I have wanted “things” and I felt bad when I could not have them. I really did OK and had everything I need, but I didn’t realize that I was greedy and materialistic. Once I realized this, I was able to change my ways. Today I realize that there are not many things in life that I really need, and if I am ever able to get something nice that I have been longing for, the feeling of accomplishment and reward is much greater than ever before.
As silly as it might sound, I am now glad that I was not spoiled and pampered as a child because it taught me many lessons. It just took me a lifetime to realize what these lessons were, and now that I finally do understand, I am thankful. Now there is but one thing I wish, and that is to hear that my children were lucky enough to also be instilled with this wisdom. Every generation always hopes to provide for their own children better than they themselves were brought up, but I’m not aware that this happens in many cases, so perhaps we are going about this the wrong way. Perhaps we should have been saying “I hope to raise my children the way that I was raised – to realize that there is more to live than material possessions, and that our efforts should be not to acquire wealth, but to acquire wisdom, humility and a caring disposition toward mankind.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

That youthful feeling of anticipation

Have you ever wondered what happened to that “feeling” you had when you were young, teenage and twenties? That magical feeling where everything was new, exciting, and an adventure, where sometimes the outcome was good and other times it was bad? The joy and the heartbreak, the celebration and the disappointment? The dreaming, the desires, the unanswered questions?

I have come to the realization that that feeling that we all fondly remember as we grow older was “anticipation.” There were so many things that we all needed to experience before we could move on to the next step. What does it feel like to hold a member of the opposite sex in your arms at your first school dance? To kiss? To smoke a cigarette? To be in a high school play? To be disciplined by your school teacher or principal?

Now that we are older, these feelings are remembered when triggered by songs that we listened to in that era, in dreams, through pensive thought, by seeing a photo of a classmate in the news or on the Internet, through TV commercials, by watching an old TV show rerun or by seeing an old music group perform in a late night commercial to sell you a collection of sounds from your youth.

What ever happened to that magical feeling? Why do we no longer ever feel that way? The answer is because once we have experienced all of these things, there is nothing left to anticipate! We have experienced love and hate, acceptance and rejection, accomplishment and failure, good health and illness. We have experience working at jobs, buying a car or a house, marriage, childbirth, raising a family, travel, hobbies. The only thing that remains a mystery is death. With possible exceptions, all else has been experienced in one form or another and to various extents and results.

Oh, if we were only able to retain that feeling throughout our whole life. Perhaps some people do. Perhaps that is what makes some people exceptional in one way or another – poets, authors, actors, writers, teachers. I can’t imagine how anyone is able to retain this feeling once there is nothing left to anticipate. The memory of this feeling exists within us all. Some call it nostalgia, some call it melancholy. It comes to us often as we think of past events, or is triggered by a postcard announcing a class reunion or an obituary in the newspaper. There is a popular saying, “If you don’t learn from history, then you are bound to repeat it.” Ah, if only we could, but the sad part is that we have learned from our past. Each of these events has molded us into who we are today. Our past has shaped our beliefs, the way we act, the way we think, and the way we respond.

When this feeling comes to you, embrace it. Linger with it. Reminisce and enjoy. And most importantly, do all you can to assist and support others around you that are going through this for the first time – your family, your neighbors, your friends, your students. Become part of their memories, and hopefully, become a positive influence in the shaping of someone’s life and the molding of someone’s success!