Friday, February 27, 2009


“It depends upon the wind” an expression used by a good friend of mine the other day when he was going fishing.

It’s an atavistic expression. I imagine sailors of old and even ones of today know their distance for the day depends upon the wind.

We know that animals depend on the wind for both safety and prey.

As a pilot I understand the importance and safety of landing into the wind.

The wind is a dichotomous gift to humankind. It can be our ally or our enemy. It can cool. It can warm. It can soothe and it can harm. It can smooth the seas and calm the waves. It is invisible, yet its presence is felt in soft touches as well as in a raging force.

To see the wind with our eyes another element must be employed. Rain gives it expression. Leaves give it direction. Dust and dirt give it shape and it can be the harbinger of hot or cold weather.

We preoccupied human souls in the narrow focus of our every day lives give it very little thought or thanks. We do, however, give it names: Mariah, Santa Anna, Chinook, Zepher and so on.

We also acknowledge the wind in slogans: “let me see which way the wind blows,” “May the wind be at your back,” “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.”

From the sea and sailing come great truthful sayings: "wind before rain, topsails remain, rain before wind, top sails take in."

Joining the native peoples of the earth, I believe that nature is an echo of our selves. The wind is emblematic of our spirits. Both wind and spirit are invisible, yet both are destined and determined in their direct flow to the Source of calm.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know the peace we seek is not out there, but in there?

Did you know that flowers were originally created in another realm and sent to Gaia as a reminder of our connection?

Did you know we live in the illusion, not the reality?

Did you know that children today have a different DNA and purpose than in previous ages?

Did you know that each letter of every alphabet on earth has a different vibration that is altered to a collective vibration when combined into words and altered again when words combine into thoughts?

Did you know that a little piece of creation lingering for release in your heart could change humanity?

Did you know that each time you transit from life to life, you begin to laugh?

Did you know that the soul is bigger than the body?

Did you know that love is the unified field Einstein was looking for?

Did you know there is no future and no past, only NOW?

Did you know that God has no judgment; only man does?

Did you know that responsibility is really two words: Response and ability?

Did you know that all of these statements may be true and none may be true, but it is up to each of us to decide?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trains, Trees and The President

I am sitting in a hotel room listening to the President of the United States talking about the economy, the recession and rebuilding America to a strength greater than before.

I came to this place in order to participate in a meeting on Wednesday that has nothing to do with the economy and then I will return home.

My trip here was via rail transportation. I used to drive to this meeting, but today I chose to come by rail. It was an expansive experience and I will do it again.

At the train station I stood in a group of commuters looking at a big-lighted board giving train destinations and track numbers. Not quite knowing what to do I asked a stranger standing next to me where do I get a ticket. He offered a couple of options and volunteered to take me to the ticket vending machine and helped input all the data needed.

Bravo stranger, even though I know not your name, your service to me was a reminder of what all of us must do to help known and unknown neighbors and strangers, not only when asked, but when not asked. All need is spiritually intuitive by those who feel its necessity.

The environment was a predominant observation on my rail sojourn. The window was my seatmate. I saw trees in winter storage, growing in the most inhospitable places between track and fence, between rail and stone, between cement and junk. Amazing.

The lesson of the trees is the same as the stranger who helped beyond the asking. Without their leaves, appearing when spring arrives, we humans would have a little less life to breath.

These trees set an example of service to all humans. They stand not in a place to display their leafy glory. They are tucked behind buildings and sheds and few people ever see them even though they look at them.

In their growth and growing place they are deformed by the proximity to man’s fences, walls, and concrete surfaces, yet they stand to serve in the simplicity of a symbiotic relationship. Our CO2 for their O2. What a gift of life.

President Obama is now finished with his address to Congress. I liked what he said. I don’t speak for the trees, but I’ll bet they too liked what they heard.

They listen more than you think.

Child Killers

The news headlines are:

"An 11-year-old Pennsylvania boy blew away his father's eight-months-pregnant fiancée - then calmly got on the bus and went to school."

"Arizona 9-year-old pleads guilty in shooting death."

How do we understand children as killers?

Reports of kids and guns are all to frequent. The incidents are isolated, but the story is always the same. A kid, a child, gets a gun and shoots someone and we all say to ourselves, how could that happen?

Somehow, in our society, we need to find a way to discourage kids from violence and to encourage our children to use different weapons in life.

Knowledge is a weapon more deadly that any gun for it slays the ignorance of seeing oneself as a victim or of being offended by the actions of another or jealous of a situation like the eleven year old.

We need to teach our children that there is power in courtesy and that tolerance shows strength, not weakness and compassion is mightier than conflict and giving in to rage or hurt feelings is a useless gratification that brings devastating consequences.

Let us teach our children to be offended by the real things that can hurt them: drugs, bigotry, prejudice and indifference.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Memories and Wisdom from Past Friends

I remember interviewing Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon many years ago about aging. They were both in their mid sixties at the time and both still very active and successful writers and actors.

They sat on the couch in their living room in New York City. At one point I asked them what was the most difficult thing about getting older. In unison they said, “losing your friends.”

Ruth then expounded on the statement. She said, “My advice to all who are entering old age is to make friends with the young too. Cultivate relationships in all ages so that if you are fortunate enough to grow old you won’t be the only one left in your circle of aging friends.”

In an interview at another time with the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta we talked about life and its seeming difficulties. I asked her what she thought was the most difficult part of life today?

Her answer surprised me.

She said, “Loving your family.” She went on to say in essence, It is very easy to love strangers, but very difficult to unconditionally love members of your family because of living in proximity and everyday irritating habits or affectations. She said, “Pray for tolerance and compassion.”

I had dinner with famed Broadway and Hollywood director George Abbott when he was one hundred years old. Other than a hearing difficulty he was “with it”, exuded vitality and a wise youthful attitude. He was excited about new things and people and interested in life and living.

Perhaps that’s what kept him young until his death at age 106.

Another youthful at heart woman of wisdom was renowned choreographer and dancer Agnes DeMille. I answered the phone in my office one day in the early 1980’s and a voice said, Mr. Smith, this is Agnes Demille, do you know who I am?

I said, “Yes, Ms DeMille, I do”.

She said, “Good, I think it’s time we met. Shall we have lunch? We set a time and place and that began a magnificent multi-year dialogue with one of the great lady’s of American theatre.

I was doing occasional television commentaries at that time and she wanted to talk about philosophy and spirit and the raison d’être of my ethic of offering a non-attacking alternative view of events and issues. We would meet for lunch every so often. She had difficulty walking at that time because of an earlier stroke, but that didn’t stop her from making the hard effort to leave her apartment.

I had the pleasure of briefly meeting the wonderful dancer and actress Ginger Rogers. She sat next to me at a benefit in San Diego where she was being honored. We had a delightful conversation about success, fame and debilitation. She was in a wheel chair at the time and told me the story of her accident.

She said she had been invited by “Ronnie” (President Ronald Reagan,) to attend a function on board the Presidential yacht, The Sequoia. Rogers said she was going down one of the internal gangways when she fell and the injury put her into a wheel chair.

She died not long after our conversation and I put my experience into a celebratory poem entitle “Ginger”.

She lives now in a wheelchair
Aged by grace and not despair.
She once was light in song and dance,
Though now her steps are dream nuance.
She knows she is different now,
Yet mind remembers every bow,
With wishes and abandoned hope
Tucked within mind’s envelope
That once held honors for the pair
When she danced with Fred Astaire.
We all go through this change in time,
With added years above our prime.

I cannot leave you in this tale
For you to think her spirit frail.
Ginger’s heart is young and agile
Though her body is now fragile.
Her inner light is in control,
Patient waiting for bell to toll
The numbered days for time’s release
When all the pain will finally cease.
It was a pleasure once again,
To honor her long lasting reign
As queen of dance and radiance.
I’ll always be her audience.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I’ve edited some of the information, but this is the essence of an Associated Press story out of Paris and the genesis of this post.

“PARIS (AP) — Only one native speaker of Livonian remains on Earth, in Latvia. The Alaskan language Eyak went extinct last year when its last surviving speaker passed away.
Those are just two of the nearly 2,500 languages that UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, says are in danger of becoming extinct or have recently disappeared. That's out of a total of 6,000 world languages.
A new language atlas says 200 languages have become extinct in the last three generations, and another 199 languages have fewer than 10 speakers left.”

I am saddened that languages are either becoming or are now extinct. In order to understand our collective cultural future, we must have knowledge of our linguistic past and when a language becomes extinct so does the nuance of its specific history.

But then again, I am saddened too that the English language we use today in every day communication has become so perverted that at times I cannot understand what someone is saying to me. No wonder they say, “you know what I’m sayin’” in every other sentence.

Ask nearly any student, high school or college, to diagram the parts of speech or describe a simple declarative sentence and you will get a blank look.

What happened?

We have dumbed down the elegance of speech into prattle where grunts, syllable elimination and a rhythmic beat seemingly convey a quasi-poetic ablution of how one feels.

Language is the grace of a society. It is the elegance of sophisticated communication and clear conversation. It is the archive of great literature. It is the essence of understanding and the language of peace, creativity and harmony.

We need precise language. We need people who love it, embrace it, share it with eloquence and who will not abandoned it to colloquial poppycock.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Offensive Cartoon?

It is not often that I agree with The Reverend Al Sharpton. My memory of his actions and rhetoric go back to the Twanna Brawley scandal, which still taint his actions and pronouncements to this day.

But I do agree with him partially in his criticism of the New York Post newspaper and it’s editorial cartoon that either directly or inadvertently led to an interpretation that a Chimpanzee could be equated with President Obama.

The cartoon reeked with symbolism well beyond what was probably intended by the cartoonist. Hopefully that was the case. Somebody at the Post didn’t look at all the possible meanings and the offense it might cause.

I don’t agree with Sharpton that the cartoonist and the editors should be punished. Just bringing insensitivity to light is enough in this case.

For the record I thought the cartoon cover on the New Yorker Magazine several months ago showing Obama wearing an Islamic robe and turban while Michelle Obama is shown in military fatigues with a Kalashnikov on her back was also in poor taste and subliminally racist.

Also yesterday Eric Holder, the nation's first black US attorney general, said Americans "simply do not talk enough with each other about race and he called us a “nation of cowards”.

I think his choice of words was inappropriate. I think we are a nation of many closet racists and they are the cowards who refused to confront their bigotry and prejudice, but we are also a nation, a majority of sensitive souls, who just want to get along without offending the hypersensitive of any race, culture, religion or gender.

Prejudice is inherently abhorrent to the human spirit because deep within we know the miracle of life is in its oneness, not in its diversity.

Prejudice and its aliases of racism and bigotry can disguise itself in the illusion that one is better than another. It can hide in the way we say words to describe others, Mexican, Gringo, Jew, Black, and even in non-personal words like immigrant and foreigner and the slang terms of rag-head, gook, sloap, honkey and Heb.

Prejudice can also manifest in rules and regulations, and in walls and fences, real and imaginary. A comfortable commonality for all people is found in the open front yards of our hearts, not in the cemented courts of intolerance however the ego builds them.

We must remember that prejudice grows from many seeds; statements without truth, judgments without justice, belief without compassion, conversation without courtesy and even cartoons without thought.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


There was an anonymous comment on my post from yesterday about Roland Burris.

Here’s what it said: “Yes, let's throw them all out. But, who will replace them? Will you run?”

I grant you that what I’d like to do and what one can do is separated by a practical chasm of resistance. The future has always been preceded by a vision of what it can be.

Yes, I would run, but for only one term and even before that I would suggest the country amend the terms of congress and the Presidency, which would eliminate the cost of continuous campaigns, do away with the seniority system, prevent politicians from making a career out of government, encourage true public service and lessen the need for government pork to insure reelection.

House of Representatives: One four year term.

Senate: One seven year term.

Presidency: One eight year term.

I would also do away with the Electoral College. It is archaic and its usefulness is suspect. In its place we can develop a secure electronic national voting system that can also be compartmentalized and used for local and state elections.

I would also encourage the development of a third party. There are too often issues that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want to address or even embrace as part of their platform. A third party would at least give voice to those issues and the changing mores of our global society.

For all those elected and entrusted with our collective futures I would expect fairness, courtesy, transparency, and honesty.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Roland Burris

Mr. Burris of Illinois you are not my Senator and other than wanting to see purity, integrity and ethical standards returned to a Congress that lacks them, I have no regional status to ask you to stand down.

Having said that, “integrity” is an important quality that Americans claim to uphold, but few demand of their elected officials.

I will stand up and say I demand honesty from not only my representatives, but also all representatives in this and future congresses. Mr. Burris you are a smart man and have good intentions, but you cannot parse the law.

For too long Congress has been an elitist club and as a citizen I want it to stop. These are tough global times and we need honest people in high positions. You, who are elected and reelected, are not there for your personal aggrandizement, but to serve me and my fellow citizens no matter where we live. If you cannot act for the common good and common sense with common decency and transparent honesty then ethically you must resign.

In fact, I am ready to see every elected representative in both the House and Senate replaced with new people of integrity, ethics, common sense, and a personal dedication to service for the greater good rather than the partisan good. New standards must be set for the old ones are corrupt.

I am tired of the bickering, and the accusations of politics and I want courtesy, diplomacy, fairness and statesmanship returned to my Congress.

For too long all of you in senior positions have enjoyed the largess of the American People and it is time to stop. It is time for accountability. Seniority should no longer guarantee power.
Let us start with the tax returns of every member of Congress examined with the same criteria that common citizens tax returns are examined and because Congress supposedly serve the public, the returns should be a public record.

Mr. Burris, you claim you did not commit perjury in your testimony to the Blagojevich impeachment committee. Yet, there are many shaded answers or non-answers that you gave and in your amended testimony you give the appearance of political skulduggery. You are a lawyer.

Why should I think differently?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Paul Revere

I recently spent two nights in Concord, Massachusetts. I stayed at the Colonial Inn originally built in 1716 and if you let yourself drift into silent thought within the quiet of the early evening you can hear the ancient clank of pewter mugs and muffled conversation of revolution and sedition from the tavern bar down below.

Not too far away was the battle of North Bridge when Colonial minutemen exchanged fire with the British Red Coats and the surge to independence was on.

Just down the road are the graves of many Concord notables. Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Alcott.

Concord is a place where history sings, yet the tune today is modern. It is a quaint village with little shops and an abundance of community life. It’s only nineteen miles from Boston along the old Lexington Road. Paul Revere was headed to Concord and Lexington when he was stopped by British Soldiers.

I found myself rereading Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride. Henry takes a little poetic license since Revere never made it Concord or Lexington. Enjoy.

Paul Revere's Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Be My Valentine

Some thoughts on Valentines day.

Are we victims of a manufactured holiday, perpetrated by the greeting card, florists and candy companies?

It would be nice if all these expressions of affection were to last more than just a day. Imagine having less argument and more communication, more love and less selfishness everyday.

Valentines day wasn’t started by the marketing merchants of hype; they only take advantage of our sentimentality. The early Christian church actually proclaimed this event to counter a pagan festival that had a little too much celebration and debauchery for the ascetic beliefs of the time.

Why they chose Saint Valentine to be their champion no one knows for sure. Historically it may be a strange choice. The Valentine who became the Saint and surrogate lover for this day was actually beheaded for his Christian beliefs and became a martyr. Maybe it is appropriate to name the day after him...people in love tend to loose their heads too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


“I’m sorry, I screwed up, it was my mistake, I was young, I was naive, I was stupid,” these are some of the phrases we are hearing in the media today as individual politicians, sports celebrities and business people try to explain away poor choices, bad judgment and “Oh you caught me, I guess I better now tell the truth.” It seems that bailout wealth breeds a curtain over common sense.

The former head of Citigroup took his family on a Christmas holiday in Mexico. That’s fine, but…
It was on a company jet. The price was 12 grand a night and Citigroup had just received a 50-billion dollar federal bailout.

And…the company had just laid off over 50-thousand people worldwide. FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE!

I don’t know if former CEO Sandy Weill paid for the vacation with his own money and whether he reimbursed the company for the jet costs. He may have, but it is the appearance of elitism that irks the American public.

How about Bank of America. It took 45 Billion in our money and hosted a Super Bowl multi day event in Florida.

It goes on and on with the “haves” unaware of the “have nots.”

Most of us have worked hard, saved for the proverbial rainy day and retirement and now because of the arrogance of power each day we lose more of the value we accumulated.

There are no bailouts for individuals and there should not be. We are strong. We’ve been through tough times before and we will get through these Wall Street, banks and Madoff scams a little poorer and a lot smarter.

Here are some little guy considerations:

Accountability and prosecution of those responsible. Part of their punishment, if convicted, is a course in greed management and public service in poor neighborhoods.

Transparency and accountability in all future deals, lending and government largess.

Elimination of all pork programs, and Congressional perks and severe restrictions on all lobbyists.

Compensation limits for any company receiving federal funds and a requirement for all executives to know the name and circumstances of the lowest paid company employee and meet with him or her once a month.

Federal help, not a bailout, for the little guy and each one who receives help is required to read and sign a simplified federal pamphlet on “if I make this much then I can afford this much.

New rules on the distribution of credit cards to the young and limits on lines of credit based on percent of income.

Lock the doors of Congress and leave them locked until a health care program is passed. It works for selecting a Pope.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Internet, Nature and Us

One of the great things about the Internet is that instantaneously you can find out information that is in answer to the question asked.

I remember years ago, when asking my Mother, a teacher, how to spell something or where was this or that was in geography and she would say go check the dictionary or the encyclopedia. She was right to encourage me to find the answer on my own and in the process I would learn how to research or use the dictionary proficiently or some other academic or educational skill.

Today, I can type in a few words into the Google browser on my computer and in a moment, the answer is either there or stemming technology presents thousands of links for me to search for the appropriate answer.

All of this is wonderful and educational providing one has access to a computer and has the knowledge of how to use it, but in this post I’d like to mention another profound attribute of the Internet. It is the ability for any user to instantly see our world and our universe.

This attribute was not available when my Mother sent me to the encyclopedia. Sure, some photos were there, but not in full color or even recent photos and certainly not videos.

I have been a long time proponent of acknowledging nature as part of us. I believe that nature has a sentient component that links to our psyche and sends us messages that we are the nature we appreciate and too often abuse.

These messages come wrapped in the beauty we find everywhere in the flora and fauna -- if we choose to see it. The photos attached are evidence of my point.

Season’s Sonnet
© 2000 by Rolland G. Smith

As the seasons pass and each one blends in
From the one that departs, there’s a graceful
Tranquil moment for the new to begin
Emerging from a place invisible.
This enchanting change is expectancy.
A dawning time, neither a first nor last
Just new for seasons are a pregnancy.
A renewing, a birth, a soul recast.
So swaddle the seasons, hold them to see
Summer’s bright fall and the white winter’s spring.
Cradle the change in a sweet harmony
Of changes in song and the new they bring.
Seasons and blending, coming and going,
Blessings of nature ever bestowing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

War Dead

President Obama was asked at his news conference last night if he were going to change the Bush Administration policies of forbidding news coverage of coffins returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he would review it.

For their own reasons, probably more political than concern for family grief, the Bush administration would not allowed any pictures of American coffins returning from war. Some, however, did appear on the Internet.

Granted it is a negative message that images of flag draped coffins send home and that’s why all administrations involved in war have kept images of these kind as quiet as possible.

What governments have always failed to acknowledge is that once a warrior is dead, politics end. The dignity of name is important to the validity of service, not only to the family, but to the social and patriotic permanence to our society. Heroes are honored, not hidden.

Hang the politics, these are our dead. They served by choice and honor. They died by circumstance and the hatred of another. Let us acknowledge their remains with images and names and bugle calls in public.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Appledore

At first it was the sound. Creaks and cricks and moaning groans of teak wood joints in the planking of the deck as the internal timbers torqued from the blowing stress of wind in the sails. Wood on wood, a sound all sailors know.

Straining lines answered back to the groans.

I knew we were underway, but now it was confirmed by the splashing spray and snapping sails. Soon would come commands from the Captain to trim the mizzen sheet before he shouts, “ready to come about”.

The Schooner Appledore, an 86 foot wooden Windjammer, glided or’ and through the wave swells and white caps in the confluence of the Gulf and Atlantic waters. The spray was salty, but warm since the air was cold. The sun lowered closer to its green splash of light in the distant sea; its celestial candle dimmed for the coming dusk then darkened for the hours till dawn.

I am not a sailor, but I love to sail. My poets mind translates the wind to grace as I let it carry me to the lost horizons of time and the wonderment of what’s there.

The salted spray with its mist and aroma ignited my spirit in a liquid flame of awe and I felt my other lives and places on and near the sea.

The mighty clapping flaps of canvas sails slapped me back to the NOW and to the gusty folds of waning winds that heeled the boat to an awkward tilt. I stand with my back braced to the main mast and knees bent ready for instantaneous adjustments in balance. Shanty words come from somewhere in my mind.

“Hi Lo High, sailors cry when God’s on the water”.

The sea has always been measured by the sadness of time and tide and in the cries of separation. Family here, future there. Vast waves of hopes and wishes in between. Adventure? Yes! Fearful too, especially for those who love the result, but know not the process.

I am far more appreciative now of the early explorers who mastered the seas and set humankind on the path of expansion.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Heart Observations

If you are a frequent visitor to this blog then you know that for the past couple of weeks I've had the opportunity to make new friends and visit some old ones in Florida. It's a different mind-set in the warmer climes. The elderly come to escape the cold and the young come to embrace the semi-tropical freedom that youthful hearts crave.

I talked to one interesting fellow who was a mate on a sailing schooner. He taught me how to raise the main and sweat the lines. He had his masters degree in another discipline, but was interested in writing. He seemed to have a hard case of writers block. He was harboring experiences from which to write, but couldn't seem to find the time to let them sail or sale.

There is a creative energy in every experience we have. If your birth gift is to write then the mind transfers that energy to the heart where it is mixed with the divine spirit and sends it back to the mind as creative thoughts, sentences, paragraphs and stories. It works in a similar ways with other birth gifts like art, music, and sculpture except in those disciplines the energy goes into trained creative hands to manifest as paintings, songs, compositions and form.

Bosco (the Mate) if you read this, set a time each day, maybe two times, to write. Even if it's ten minutes. Soon you will find that interpreting your experiences through words will be addictive and the blocks will be gone.

I went to visit Earnest Hemingway's house and now museum in Key West. What a fascinating life he led and what great creativity came from his experiences. He once said he could write a story in six words. He did.

"For sale, baby shoes, never used."

We each have a birth gift. Finding it is sometimes a lifelong task.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Climate and Cheney

Good Morning from cold Key West.

It’s supposed to be warm this far south in the good ol’ USA, but so far nobody told that to Mother Nature. Record lows they say. If I wanted record lows I would have stayed home where the low temperature this morning was minus two degrees. Oh Well.

The weather seems to be one of the two topics of interest and conversation this morning. The other one is television talk on the interview remarks of former Vice President Cheney suggesting that if the Obama Administration wants America to stay safe then they better keep the Cheney – Bush policies in effect.

Mr. Cheney has the same rights as the rest of us do in speaking his mind in a free society. However, common sense would deem it inappropriate for a just recent former official to suggest only his policies would keep America from terrorist harm.

It is time for Mr. Cheney to retire, mend his back and mind his mouth, plant some flowers and reflect on the rights he has usurped in his zeal to force his beliefs on the American public and the world through the catalyst of fear.

There I feel warmer already.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Some thoughts on courtesy.

Courtesy is the ability to be aware of the needs and concerns of others and to respond to them with selfless grace. It is an attribute of character. It is also a waning personal craft in today's culture of instant gratification, in the self fulfillment of the "me" generation.

When you see it in abundance, courtesy is worthy of comment.

A number of years ago I flew with a Navy medical contingent to Croatia in the former Yugoslavia. The flight was on a crowded, C-141 transport plane. Depending where you sat on the uncomfortable webbed bench seats, it was either suppressingly hot or irritatingly cold. Cramped movement was measured in continuous "excuse me" rather than distance.

Not once, during the 16 hour ordeal did I see one act of intolerance toward another. No disapproving sighs, no grunts of disgust. What I saw from these Navy men and women from Fleet Hospital Six in San Diego were continuous acts of courtesy.

A pillow given up for another persons comfort.
Offers to share personal snacks.
A blanket gently laid atop a dozing colleague.
A hand extended to steady the stepping over huddled and sleeping bodies.

I thought at that time "courtesy" was another name for Navy. I appreciated the lesson and have never forgotten it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Super Bowl Commercials

A lot of people watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night. It was broadcast throughout the world and what did the world see?

An American game called football and American life called commercials. The game was competitive and exciting. The commercials were suspect, silly and stupid. Many falsely depicted American life, values, morals and styles.

Wouldn't it have been a perfect time for the United States Government to spend a million plus tax dollars and take one minute of time to tell the world that we are on a new path?

We spend billions of dollars on pork projects so congressmen and women can tell their constituents they brought jobs, projects and stuff to their district or state.

Why don't we spend a small amount of tax dollars to tell the world who we are, what we stand for and where we hope to go in the future and invite the global community to join us.

Let the commercial tell the world that once again America is the evidence of our beliefs and by public example, in our election process, demonstrated to the world and to ourselves that democracy is still a valid and effective form of participatory government.

We live in a pragmatic world, often fearful, sometimes cruel and we the people are not perfect, but collectively we strive to live up to the founding ideals of our republic. We shout, we argue, we debate, we accuse and when the votes are counted we accept, we forgive, we get together and we live in diverse harmony until we do it again. That’s greatness, that’s America.

If we can sell a product in sixty seconds, why can’t we sell America?
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