Friday, June 19, 2015

One Grain of Sand



Have you ever wondered what your place is on this earth?  

That you are less than one grain of sand on a sun bleached beach?

I have often wondered why I am here. 

What is my purpose in life.

Is it just to survive?  

Of course most of life is a struggle to survive just as it is for most living life forms on this earth.  

We struggle. 

We have failures.

We have successes.

A few days ago a horrible tragedy occurred in Charleston, South Carolina.  A deranged, lone gunman opened fire in an all black church and massacred nine innocent individuals. 

I've often wondered when an act of pure evil like this occurs, what do those people who believe in God think.  Why does He allow this to happen?  

No big philosophical discussion here this morning, it's just that I do wonder what this life is about when something like that happens. Is life so random? I believe it is.

There is no order.  The best we can do is make every day count.  

Be the best we can to ourselves first and to others. I don't necessarily mean dropping everything and volunteering your time at the local soup kitchen but just to be kind to one another every moment of the day.

And those times that we do encounter evil or those who are not kind, try to neutralize them with your kindness and if that isn't possible, them remove yourself from that situation. 

Life is survival, and kindness.

Like all of us, I have encountered those times when others haven't been kind to me.  I could spend a lot of energy hating them or I could spend that energy making the most out of my life by enjoying life and being kind.  I can do both of those things at the same time. 

I've often joked that the reason I didn't play basketball in high school was because I couldn't dribble the ball and run with it at the same time. There are a lot of things I can't do at the same time like now.  I have to tell hotel guests that I can't check them in and at the same time give them information of the best restaurants to attend while they're in town. I just can't do both of those things at the same time.  But I can live my life and be kind.

This is a long blog, one of my stream of consciousnesses blog postings. My regular readers know I occasionally go off on one of these tangents. Usually triggered by some horrific act of evil perpetuated on innocent people, while an unknowing and invisible God stands by leaving us to guess what His motives are.  Hey folks, there is no motive.  

It is just evil, that's the way some people are.  And we have to live with them and hope Our Turn doesn't come someday when some crazy assed, self deluded individual who has an all to easy access to guns to make himself a Big Man decides to make a statement. He feels powerless and this is the way he will get power, even if he has to lose his life doing it.  Hate is that strong. 

I've seen this face of unbridled hate myself many times in my life.  Most recently when I was visiting a distant cousin in the hillbilly hills of western North Carolina where my father was born.  I was researching my family history. All was going well until one cousin confronted me with "Ron, there is a rumor that you practice the gay lifestyle. Is that true?"  Of course I was shocked by the question but I answered "If you're asking me if I'm gay, I am."  He then said "Well get this bud, if you ever step on my parent's property you'll have me to deal with!  You got that bud?"

Well, I know a threat when I hear one so I didn't visit his parents the next day as I had planned to with my cousin Bob T. and his wife, who had never met these cousins who lived in our great grandfather's house. We had both made the trip to North Carolina specifically to visit them but since I was one of THOSE (gay), I decided that I would avoid a physical confrontation in those isolated mountain homes and visit the grave of my great-great grandfather instead so the trip wouldn't be totally wasted.  Of course I am well aware that my great-great grandfather, who died during the Civil War (fighting for the Union Cause, at least he got that right) wouldn't approve of my "lifestyle" either. 

Those nine folks who were killed in that Charleston church, their "lifestyle" was that they were black.  They were different and the monster who killed them couldn't stand that.  And let's just be clear here folks.  Where did this monster get his ideas that he had to hate blacks?  Was it the environment we was brought up in?  The father who gave him a "gift" of a hand gun? What father does that?  

So back to my original thought on this blog that I am (as you are) simply a grain of sand on the beach. We all try to survive the best we can among the evil that is ever present all around us.  Whether that evil be of a lessor kind than a telemarketer trying to sell us something we don't need, or a con man swindling us out of our hard earned money or, as was the case in Charleston, a madman with a totally deranged mind (and a bad hairdo, ever notice the hairdos on this monsters? That's a giveaway every time and how this most current one got caught when a florist recognized his bowl haircut). 

So my purpose in life?  Take this morning for example.

I got up, greeted Bill.  Told him about my night at work at the hotel last night (uneventful, same old, same old). 

After breakfast I got my checkbook out to balance it since I got my first paycheck since my fall last February 18th.  

Sitting at my computer I called my Toronto friend Pat on FaceTime.  I usually check in with him every day on FaceTime.  We share and laugh.  

I saw where my blogger friend Dr. Spo from Phoenix Arizona called me on FaceTime (I missed his call) earlier.  I called him on my iPhone while I had Pat on my iMac.  

We made it a "three-way" with Dr. Spo, me and Pat.  We shared and we laughed and did a bit of teasing (I advised Dr. Spo to get an Apple Watch like I now have so he will impress people.  He said that wasn't necessary because he already impresses people.  Point taken Dr. Spo. 

So you see we do have fun.

I still haven't even begun to balance my checkbook and Bill stopped in to tell me he's going to get gas for my car and his five gallon can for the lawnmower.  All mundane activity to some, especially those bent on perpetuating evil in the world, but happiness to us.  

I'll probably hang around the house most of the day and the only evil I will have to deal with are the daily telemarketer calls telling me "You won!"

All my life I try to minimize my chances for encountering evil or bad situations.  Sometimes it is unavoidable like last February 18th when I was leaving work and I fell and ruptured the quadricep muscles in left leg.  That simple random act changed my life irretrievably.  For almost three months I was totally dependent on Bill for survival.  If it wasn't for Bill I would have been housed in one of those rehabilitation centers.  Hey, it was bad enough being helpless around here but at least I was in my own bed, eating my own food, using my own bathroom and not having to suffer through the isolation and loneliness of surviving in a rehab center. 

My leg is recovering but I do notice that I have less energy and a weakness in both of my legs now.  Maybe that's old age creeping up on me (I remember both my Mom and my Aunt Mabel saying the first time they felt "old" was when there were in their seventies). 

Even now as I sit at this computer and type this seemingly endless and meandering scribe, my left leg is numbing up.  I doubt it I will ever fully recover but you know what folks?  I'm still here, still smiling and making others smile.

I may only be one grain of sand on the beach but my life has been fabulous.  Oh sure, there were a few setbacks here and there and certainly a few scary moments for sure.  

One thing is for certain though.  My life will end one day.  Maybe by a random act like falling on the ice like I did last February 18th ,and believe me folks, that could have easily become a fatal accident if I had lost consciousness in that alley of 5 degrees and laid there all night and froze to death because I couldn't move. Maybe there was some Greater Power that enabled me to take those few steps into the hotel lobby before I collapsed and make a 911 call for an ambulance - thank God I had my iPhone. 

I hope my life doesn't end violently like those poor folks at that church in Charleston.  I also hope that my life isn't one prolonged, painful, humiliating, and dependent illness.  

When I go I hope I do in my sleep.  That I just drift of to oblivion or wherever it is you go when you lose consciousness.  Wouldn't it be great if there was a Heaven and you could be reunited with all your loved ones? 

I don't believe is what will happen.  What I believe is that I will enter a great Nothingness. I will truly be that grain of sand on the beach.  But you know what folks? I'm having one helluva time right now and for that I am ever grateful.



14 comments:

  1. Ron - I enjoy your postings no matter where they go. And there's always variety. I can relate to what you are saying as I'm sure your other readers will. I'm having a day much like your own - and of course I shared moments with you already on FaceTime as you mentioned - that was fun being on the screen with Dr Spo. (I wonder if he's going to see "Inside Out") You captured a philosophical thought today (a sort of mini guideline of how to live) and i think you explained it well. Great motivational piece. Loved the hammock photo and mini film at the end.

    Pat

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    1. Pat,
      I am fascinated by the mystery of life. I know I am basically uneducated and naive about many things but one thing I do know, the difference between good and evil; right and wrong. I am always mystified why some people choose the wrong way and inflict so much pain and damage. To what end? The only way I can explain it is evil exists in the world.
      Ron

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  2. I've always believed that evil people are born that way. They are heartless, have no soul, no conscience. They are a lost cause - can never be redeemed (despite all the contrary psycho-babble).

    I was constantly physically and verbally abused by my father. He nearly destroyed me mentally - and because of him, my life sank beyond the realms of hell. Yet, I was never hateful or evil. All the shit that I went through actually made me extremely sensitive, caring, and sympathetic toward others. Go figure.....

    As for the purpose of our existence - - the older I get, the less I understand. I don't believe that there is any profound purpose in life. We do what we have to in order to survive, and we try to make the best of it. We try to utilize our natural abilities to the fullest extent.

    Life is a continuous series of struggles,obstacles, and unpleasant events - - and then we die.
    That sounds bleak and pessimistic, but it's the truth.

    Thought-provoking post, Ron.

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    1. Jon,
      Again, we are in total agreement. I to believe that evil people are born that way. You said it best when you said "They are heartless, have no should, no conscience." And they are a "lost cause."
      I am aware of the belief held by many (see Tony's comment below) that we all possess good and evil within us. I can't speak for other people but I know myself I have no evil in my soul. I may be weak in areas and cowardly (in other areas) but one thing I am not is evil. And I have found that during my many years that most of the people I encounter are good, decent people. But I have encountered evil. And the older I get the easier it is for me to spot evil. I try to steer a clear path around those people. But we never know when a random act of evil will strike us and maybe that was one of the points I was attempting to make in my long blog post.

      As for the purpose of our existence - again I agree with you that there isn't a profound purpose in life other than to survive and love. I do believe most of us are looking for love in one form or another or else there is no reason to just exist.
      There have been periods in my life, when I was 21 years old and just out of the Army and starting my adult life. I knew what I was looking for, Prince Charming and a good life. In less than a year I found him. Imperfect? Absolutely! But I have always felt I have lived a charmed life although I have had my share of obstacles which I have successfully overcome. But I am all to aware that the time will come when all this will end and I am ready for it. As I have said many times before, every day I wake up and I'm still here it's "gravy time." Each day is a bonus. And especially so since I have made so many good friends (like you) through this blog and have made a special friend from Canada.
      One thing that was my concern as Bill and I got older was that I would survive Bill (he's 13 years old than me) and I would be alone again. I don't think I could stand that but I didn't want to be vulnerable by being too needy to find just anyone. But since I met Pat I am confident that I will not be alone in my old age. And that gives me great comfort as it does Bill. Because you see Bill so loves me he was worried that if he left I would be alone. He doesn't have that worry now.
      You are right that "life is a continuous series of struggles, obstacles, and unpleasant events . . . . and then we die (oh how often I've made that statement), but right now life is good to me and for that I am so grateful.
      Thank you for your comment Jon.
      Ron

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    2. Thanks for your reply to my comment. I probably sounded somewhat pessimistic, but that's my nature (unfortunately). Like you, I DO NOT believe that there is evil in all of us. There is no way that I would have the capability to kill or harm others. Violence is not in my nature.

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    3. Same here Jon. I would not deliberately harm or kill another. The only exception would be self defense and I hope I'm never in that situation again in my life Once I was and I threatened to cause harm but the person who was going to do damage to me backed off when he saw (a mugger) that I meant business
      Ron

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  3. Sometimes you can see where the evil comes from, other times it defies explanation. I wrote an essay one time saying that some crimes are so horrible, that only a person who is mentally ill could commit them - not a popular view in a punish-punish-punish society. I try to live with the philosophy that when your times comes, it comes. I don't take silly risks - but I try not to live in fear. I do hope that when my time comes, it is quick. Having spent 8 days in a rehab hosipital last month, pick a nice one, with private rooms, and it was not as bad as I feared.

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    1. David,
      Evil is in the soul of the perpetrator who produces it. I tend not to believe that evil is a mental illness, especially when the evil person plans their events.
      I too live with the philosophy that when your times comes, it comes. And like you, I hope it is quick, and painless (I'm not big on pain).
      I'm still leary of rehab hospitals. Everyone I know who has been in one has had to share a room. Even when I was in the hospital after my leg operation, I had the room to myself for about four hours before they brought another patient in at 1:30 AM in the morning, causing all kinds of disruption. Every time I've been in the hospital my roommates have caused a lot of disturbance. I could never get any rest in a hospital. At least that's been my experience. But then I hope I never get another opportunity to spend time in a hospital. However, I do have to say that when I visited Wayne ("The Cajun") in the hospital, he was always in a private room. Maybe they put him in a private room because he was dying.

      Anyway, not to end on a negative note. I just got e-mail from Wayne's co-worker. She has his Dr. Spo shirt ready for me. I'll pick it up tomorrow and mail it to Dr. Spo. Good news to end this comment.
      Ron

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  4. I do not put stock in the concept of "evil". I think it only serves to separate us from the bad behavior of others. A more complex perspective is to see bad behavior as the "effect" of something. In the case of the Charleston shooting, it appears it was the effect of racism, white supremacy, isolation, and perhaps narcissism and delusion. These effects rarely happen in a bubble, but are all around us, and you never know how it is gonna affect the guy next to you on the street. We all have the capacity to be this shooter, but we are all the result of different influences and levels of support.

    At one time in my life, I felt I was on the precipice of shutting down completely, becoming one of those guys in an institution who just stares at the wall. I was fortunately able to make choices that avoided that result, and I was able to make those choices due to the support I was surrounded with, my education, and the values I grew up with. Not all of us are that fortunate.

    Evil is a one-sided simplification of complex human behavior. Evil only exists in the movies, but in real life, things are not so simple.

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    1. Tony,
      I agree with much of what you said except of the "we all have the capacity to be this shooter." Not me. Now way, no how. I don't believe in violence. The only way I would do violence is to protect myself but not to strike out. Not in my makeup.

      I think you're saying that we all have evil in us. Again I don't believe that. Evil is not only in the movies (you're probably referring to the frequently portrayed two dimensional characters written my Hollywood writers of limited talent) but in real life. I have encountered evil face on. Soulless, heartless people who wouldn't think twice about perpetuating their evil on another living form be it a human being or an animal.
      I think most of us at one time or another felt like we were shutting down. I almost did once too for what is now in retrospect a very silly reason (an unrequited love). I solved that problem (it wasn't easy) by myself and not have sufficient defense fortifications built that such a thing will never happen to me again.

      I'm glad you were successful in conquering your own fears.

      Thank you for your comment Tony,

      Ron

      Ron

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    2. The only clarification is that I am not saying that we all have "evil" inside us, because I don't recognize evil as a trait. I see it as a description of behavior, based on choices made and ways of thinking. Because of this, we all have this capacity. And I am also saying that by separating ourselves from the ways of thinking that encouraged this young man's actions is to ignore our responsibility in the creation of our culture.

      Violence takes many forms, not just showing up as murder. There is emotional violence as well, which we all perpetrate on others at some point. It is easier to see things as black or white, metaphorically, at least, but that does not usually lead to change.

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    3. Tony,
      The violence I was referring to was physical violence. Fortunately I've never had it in my family nor would I ever tolerate a relationship with physical violence. Now emotional violence, that's another whole story.
      Ron

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  5. This was quite well written and one of your best entries in a long while.

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    1. Thank you Dr. Spo. I sincerely appreciate your compliment because your blog is my inspiration.

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