NOW AND THEN

My dad used to lie on his back and throw his elbows against the ground. He’d get a small patch of air between his shoulder blades and the earth, just enough to snap his legs back and land on his feet. He used to do a lot of stuff like that… I think about things like that now and then.

I can’t forget about the skinny kid with the massive chip on his shoulder he carried like a shield into battle… usually ones of his own making. I guess that could apply not just to me, but to most of us when we were relatively new to this fallen world.

now and then

image courtesy of photo bucket.com

Like all kids, I pondered the chasm of now and then, the looking forward to what might lie ahead in the road of life, never expecting the burning wooden bridges and fire-breathing dragons… avoiding them at all costs. We didn’t know those are essential to a life worth re-telling.

Disciplining the kids was never my strong suit, but I was compelled to do the right thing when the times called for it. I knew enough about “now and then” to know that the easiest way out of a difficult situation was never the path of least resistance. If their future was, “then”, going to be bright, it would take wisdom and persistence in the “now” to ensure it.

In hindsight “now” it’s easy to see the fruits of our efforts from our actions “then”… More importantly, the girls do too.

As a kid I listened to the generation we followed into this world talk about now and then. They didn’t call it that, they just spoke plainly about the realities and truth spelled out in the Good Book, especially about the how quickly this life gets behind you.

It’s funny how even little kids know when adults are speaking with honesty and authority. They have a different look in their eyes, even their demeanor changes.

When folks are talking about what they deem as debatable issues, they posture themselves. Almost like bracing themselves for a fight. When they talk to make a point or defend themselves, their eyes become intent, brows pinched.

It’s different when older people, especially clan members, share indisputable facts. Their bodies get relaxed, despite the aches and pains, and their eyes seem to drift to the spiritual dimension, riding it between the past and future. And if someone doesn’t agree with them, they just nod with wisdom, having tried.

I think about my dad now and then. I remember helping him walk toward the end, but that’s nothing compared to the wisdom and example he left us on how to live… and die…

“‘Cause, livin’ or dyin’, either way, I win,” he said.

So I think about living… and dying now and then. I know, like everything in life, you have to prepare “now” for “then”… ’cause eternity takes all of us.