THE END

Kids grow up and mature at different rates and in vastly different ways. You can’t hide the truth and reality from children. Growing up in the late sixties in Southern California with the violent race riots was one of those scenarios that brought a harsh reality to my young world, but it wasn’t all bad… the music was sensational.

It was in 1970 that I promoted myself from little kid to bigger kid, even though I hadn’t grown a lick in the split second it seemed to take for my taste in music to change.

I had a couple of 45 records, one of them was a Winnie the Pooh song. The other 45 was a song about a boy on a train and a lovely lady who sat on his hat. I played that record so much that all my older siblings know it by heart too, against their will. That’s as close to them actually killing me as I ever got.

But being the youngest means that you’re low man on the totem pole in more than just physical stature. So I was subject to their music too; Creedence, Hendrix, The Supremes, The Guess Who, Steppenwolf, the list went on and on.

I’m not sure where I got the money, which was more scarce than peace in 1970, but there I was on a Saturday, downtown, sifting through 45’s. The first rock song I ever bought was the Beatles “Let it Be”. Paul McCartney wrote and sang the song.

beatles.com

It was a short time later, after the Beatles broke up, that one of my older brothers ended up with McCartney’s second album Ram. After a million plays “Uncle Albert” wore on me, but “The Long and Winding Road” never did, still doesn’t.

I was a teenager when my oldest brother got me a gift certificate from the local music store. One of the albums I got was Sweet “Desolation Boulevard”. For those of you squares that aren’t familiar with Sweet, think, “Love is Like Oxygen” and “Ballroom Blitz”. The other was Paul McCartney’s Greatest Hits after having already worn out a McCartney “Band on the Run” album.

By the time 1984 rolled around the world had changed and so had I. I had my own house and the only channel I’d ever bother to watch, ’cause I was busy burning my candle at both ends, was MTV.

While the critics bye and large threw metaphorical rotten tomatoes at McCartney for both the movie Give My Regards to Broad Street and his soundtrack, I liked it. I still appreciate the single “No More Lonely Nights”.

I got a crash course in business after I’d started my own business in ’89. I worked all over western half of the States trying to pay off debt. McCartney’s “Off the Ground” cd helped get me through the lonely winter of ’93 in Denver.

I’m not big on crowds and I’m never star struck. I didn’t say a word to Denzel Washington as we stood next to each other waiting for the valet to bring us our vehicles on Coronado Island in San Diego. And it was Alice Cooper that struck up a conversation with me standing in line at the local Ace hardware store.

But after a lifetime of enjoying Paul McCartney’s music, I thought it might be time to see him live while it’s still possible. He’s seventy seven now. He rocked the house and I knew pretty much all the words to all the songs, Beatles and his solo stuff.

McCartney closed the encore with a fitting song that caught me off guard. A song I’ve known well almost my whole life. The song is aptly titled “The End”. “And in the end… the love you take – is equal to the love… you make.”

Man I love that song… But for all Paul McCartney has, including endless talent… he doesn’t know the first thing about real Love… Hope he learns before The End.

BY DESIGN

My memory of childhood and youth are fading like gazing into the rearview mirror of that V-8 powered ’70 Mercury Cyclone with me pushing that pedal so hard I was bending the floorboard. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re in too much of a hurry to grow up, a problem I hear isn’t uncommon to us babies of the family.

There’s something about summer that makes me reminisce. I think about the season of watermelons and seed spitting contests. The season of summer that was more magical than Disneyland itself. The Boy’s of Summer time, the ping of the aluminum bat. And me trying to steal home base in the championship game, but getting thrown out at home plate by a kid named Franky McGill who threw as hard as Don Drysdale that ended the game…

But it was summer, so that made it okay, besides, we were having fun, me for darn sure. That was back when playing was more important than winning, before winning meant everything. Those were the days of summer before girls and women tied us up and twisted us in knots.

Time is different for children. God designed it that way. He doles out time to kids like a cool glass of lemonade that pours like honey. And we savored the time… but that time is passed.

So I remember the long days of sunshine, the jumping off cliffs and roofs into shallow pools, hitchhiking to the lake, racing buddies through the hot sand high stepping the water as it got deeper until it was time to dive into the coolness of the dammed up Colorado River water. I recall to remind myself that it’s not as it once was.

Lake Havasu City AZ
image courtesy of halo.com

Time has now yanked me to the other side of the equation. It seems like we just had Christmas… but the year is almost half way over. The watermelons are mostly seedless now… and hand cranked ice cream makers are antiques.

I think of times gone by to remind myself to yearn to “… teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” The days of youth weren’t filled with wisdom, mostly the exact opposite. So I also think of the grace that comes from God above that still finds me lacking wisdom, but granting forgiveness.

I know this summer will be gone in a blink. The summers are stacking up like old newspapers.

Slip and Slides are fancier now, but still pretty much the same. My aged eyes watch my grandsons try to run on the Slip and Slide… I knew it was just a matter of time before both of them ended up on their butts. Slip and Slides are still only as soft as the ground underneath them. They laugh it off and keep going. This summer is going to be an eternity for them, but it won’t last. Time outlasts all of us, by design…

SANDPAPER

Some folks are just plain hard to like. I like down to earth people, they’re easy to be around. I know it’s easy to like people that we have more in common with, but there is a percentage of people out there that just seem to be downright nasty.

I try to go out of my way to get along with people, especially ones that I have to see on a regular basis. And, for the most part, I’ve been fairly successful at it, but I don’t walk on water…

There have been a handful of folks that are what the preachers like to call your “sandpaper”. Yeah, they rub me the wrong way and grind my grace down till there’s nothing left.

There’s a guy I see all the time at the gym that fits that description. He’s got the personality of a box of rocks. Even so, for years I’d go out of my way to be cordial toward him.

image courtesy of leafiness.com

Right before Christmas, about seven or eight years back, I went around greeting folks and wishing them a Merry Christmas before I left the gym. I went up to Mr. Rocks and offered a handshake along with a “Merry Christmas.” He yanked his ear buds out, rolled his eyes, gave an annoyed huff, and begrudgingly gave a quick handshake without looking at me. He plugged his music back in his ear without ever looking at me. That was the last time I acknowledged his existence.

About a year and a half ago I sat down on a machine Mr. Personality was planning on using. I didn’t know it, but I wouldn’t have altered my plans for him anyway. I had my ear buds in so I assume he thought I had music playing, I didn’t. He mumbled extreme profanity at me, worse than anybody ever had in my life that I didn’t end up fighting.

I followed Mr. Jerk with my eyes on fire waiting for him to look at me so I could call him out. He didn’t look.

I have to admit, after my initial rage subsided, I was pretty proud of myself for not pursuing Mr. Idiot Head. But my initial feeling based in pride was far less than perfect.

I’m not sure why folks decide not to like others. I guess it’s the way they look and how they interact with others. I tend to be an extrovert and I carry myself with confidence, maybe too much. But I try to live my life by the teachings in the Good Book. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

It’s easy to live at peace with people that we get along with. Dealing with the ones that test our pride and patience are a different matter. I know there was no victory in not getting into a physical altercation. My thoughts failed me. Not to mention it’s a struggle not to see that guy almost daily and not loathe him.

I need the constant reminder that God loves everyone equally, even Mr. Personality. I too often miss my calling to have love and compassion for others. I like to like the likable… it’s easy. It’s probably not a coincidence that I’ll have another opportunity to show the grace to Mr. Human that is bestowed upon me.

Do you have a “sandpaper” in your life?

SECOND VERSE – SAME AS THE FIRST

“Second verse – same as the first,” he said as he stared at his computer screen. He didn’t look up.

I smiled at the young man. He had a round head and beard that would have made Grizzly Adams proud. I could sense the lady in line behind me.

“You know who sang that song?” I asked the Fed Ex clerk. He didn’t know he’d just encountered a music trivia buff.

I was sending two Fed Ex envelopes to two different addresses and the kid asked me to confirm all the shipping info, the shipper’s address and the shippe’s address. (My contribution to the English language there). After he asked me to confirm is when he said that line trying to be clever. I thought he was, but obviously not clever enough to know the origin of it.

“No,” the kid didn’t hesitate.

“Herman’s Hermits,” I enlightened the youngster.

“Never heard of ’em,” the kid gave me an unimpressed glance and went back to punching the keyboard with his pudgy fingers.

I pressed the green “Ship” button. “It’s the Henry The V111th song,” I told the kid to see if that might ring a bell for him.

I turned slightly to make sure the lady behind me was still there. She was. The kid shot me an annoyed look as my receipt and tracking number was being printed. For just a fraction of a millisecond I thought about singing the chorus to the kid. I was certain that he’d have to have heard that song, even in his short life.

“Here’s your tracking number,” the kid circled it at the top of the receipt. He had no interest in knowing the who, what, where, when, and why of that saying that he spouted with pride just a couple of minutes earlier.

“Thanks,” I told him and walked out.

image courtesy of 45cat.com

That’s one sure way of getting a song stuck in your head. I thought about the old movies of the Herman’s Hermits with girls chasing them around like they were the Beatles, the group they were imitating. I remembered Peter Noonan, the lead singer of the Herman’s Hermits, in cartoon form, on Scooby Doo when I was a kid.

I hopped in my truck, fired it up, and started singing out loud, with the heavy English brogue accent for authenticity,

“I’m Inery the eighth I am

Inery the eighth I am, I am

I got married to the widows next daw

She’s been married seven time befaw

And every one was an Inery, (Inery!)

She didn’t wanna Willy or a Sam (Not a Sam!)

I’m the eight old man I’m Inery

Inery the eighth I am

Second verse – same as the first.”

I sang it a few more times. I sang it enough times to get it out of my system. It’s kinda like scratching an itch.

When a person hears something that resonates or makes sense to them they keep it. They think enough of it to repeat it, even if they don’t know the origin.

I hear people quote “The Golden Rule” loud and often. It just makes sense to them, but the majority don’t know it’s the common sense God designed into them that speaks to their heart from Matthew 7:12.

I don’t do it to rain on their parade, but I don’t mind telling them that it was a quote from Jesus. True wisdom and enlightenment comes from God.

The origin of some words don’t mean a lot. Some do. Some words can lead to an eternity with the Author…

PERSONALLY

A guy in a silver, I think a Honda Accord, or something like that, proceeded to impede the wide open lane I was speeding along in at the last second. I jumped on the brakes. This kind of thing happens to me daily… and I take it personally.

When you get older you start to say the same things over and over. Maybe it’s because we begin to run out of new things to say. Or maybe it’s because we think we’re so smart that our wisdom should be bestowed upon the world on a regular basis. Or maybe it’s because we’re trying to remind ourselves of things we believe are important. Whatever the reason, here I go again.

image courtesy of Illinoistrafficdefensecenter.com

I think putting a person behind the wheel of an automobile is more effective than hooking them up to a lie detector and giving them the third degree. I’m thinking that watching a person conduct themselves in traffic might be more telling than if you shot them full of sodium Pentothal, you know, truth serum.

So as to stay out of the group known as hypocrites, as much as that’s possible in this fallen world, I confess that I’m a speeder. To be fair, I come by it honestly; my dad was a speeder. And my mom is still a speedster. I guess I fit nicely into that group that blames others for their actions…

The guy in the silver sedan doesn’t have the chronic need for speed disease like me. I knew that because he was following a car in the middle lane for half a mile as I was flying up the fast lane. His desire wasn’t for speed, it was for something else.

Mr. Silver Sedan decided to take it even slower than he’d been doing in the middle lane once he got in front of me. This is people talking with their vehicles. Mr. Silver was saying something like, “So you’re in a hurry huh?” That’s when I talked back by tailgating him at an unsafe distance.

I end our in traffic conversation by hitting the brakes, letting the car in the middle lane sail by, and gun it into the open right hand lane and punch it to take my spot in front of Mr. Silver.

The problem of reading others actions in traffic is that sometimes we don’t hear them right. Sometimes we, or I, take things too personally. Pride has a way of making us see things that aren’t really there.

Not too long ago I got cut off by an SUV. I shook my head and chalked it up to another person trying to teach me a lesson. Then they quickly turned. They’d almost missed their turn. And I’d made it all about me…

“… Do not think of yourself more highly than you should, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

You know you’re in a bad place, and I don’t mean on the road, when you’re taking things personally.