Sunday, June 30, 2013

A sunset is where you find it .... is it not?

Sunrise, and a new beginning. The day is new. Life is new. So, then, what is sunset? The end of something? Most certainly. The end of another day .... another day without you. But, might the sunset signal not only an ending, but a beginning? Sunset signals the arrival of darkness, and darkness offers the opportunity to fade away within it .... to disappear .... to vanish. Darkness offers the opportunity for stealth and for invisibility. It is like the myth of the American cowboy: To ride off into the sunset. (Interpretations welcome.) By the way, this sunset was captured on the South Dakota/Nebraska border -- sort of in cowboy country. As for the music, ladies and gentlemen, tonight we offer Don Dokken and associates. The initial piece is from way back when (1987) and the second performance is sort of from now (2002) .... hmmm .... now? .... well, what is a decade among friends? Anyway, the songs pretty much play into the theme of my words and the photograph. Or, am I wrong?
In which direction to run, that is the question

In November 2010, an acquaintance of mine was told that he had cancer and, in all probability, his days were numbered. Count the months between then and now. A bit fewer than thirty-two months. About two years, eight months. Roughly one hundred, thirty-seven weeks. That is how long he lived after learning his likely fate.

Quite naturally in light of this, I have been absorbed in thoughts about how I have spent the past two years, eight months -- considering the things I have done, thinking about the places I have been, wondering about what I have accomplished and failed to accomplish.

I have complained that the last two years have been among the least satisfying in my life and that, in some ways, I have felt as though I have been bound in chains and carried an albatross around my neck. Melodramatic? Maybe, but that has been my mood and my sense of myself since the autumn of 2010.

So, how am I going to spend the next two years? As one element of it, I have been building up to making another "run" in September or October. A "run" is my way of saying another plunge into a manner of life different from/different than my usual style of existence. If the "run" lasts for a year or longer, in my personal vocabulary I define it as an "incarnation." Anyway, terminology aside .... my initial thought for the destination of my next "run" is once again Europe, but ....

But. There always is a "but" or a "maybe" .... there always is a bit of indecisiveness before leaping off any cliff into any sea.

And, besides that, no matter how quickly one "runs," there never is enough time to "run" everywhere, and ....

Everywhere and anywhere are constantly undergoing change. Even if you or I could reach everywhere tomorrow, the next day it (or they) would be different in many ways. Some people would be gone and others would have arrived. Buildings and landscapes would have changed even as the seasons change. So, how does one choose wisely?

Never enough time, never enough sunsets ....

What if some term of time -- two to three years -- was all there was left for you and you knew it? How would you live your life? Where would you go? What would you do? And, even if this were not the situation, if you have the freedom and the ability to do so, why not live like your tomorrows are numbered?

So, where to go .... where to "run".... where to search for possibly the next "incarnation" .... any thoughts? Any suggestions? Any advice?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It must be somewhere .... mustn't it?

There have been two or three times when I have posted a photograph here without identifying its location or its purpose/relevance to what I have written. Here we go again. All I care to say is that this photo was taken at sunset on Saturday, June 22, 2013. A few people might have an idea of where this place is, and a very few might even recognize the location despite the absence of many landmarks. I am curious. Is it annoying that I post a mystery scene without apparent purpose? Well, I will leave you wondering and (maybe) annoyed. Now, for the music: "Don't Fade Away," by David Coverdale and Whitesnake, seems to fit the mood of my words and Joan Jett's rendition of, "Love Hurts," explains itself. It is a beautiful song and among my all-time favorites -- no matter who sings it.

Decision is a desirous thing

A number of years ago, I wrote a piece bearing the title, "Decision is a Desirous Thing." When it was written or what it was written about is not relevant for this post, but it seems in recent times I have to keep reminding myself that if you are not going somewhere, you are going nowhere.

I want to touch the past.

I want to feel and to sense and to be in the past.

Not only my past, but the past as it actually has been since the beginning of time. Not just the historical past, but the entire past.

Some people want to know the future, but I want to know the past -- to experience it, not just as the "winners" have written it, but as it actually existed. I want to know what brought us to the point in time where we are. I want to know why we are the way we are. I want to know why we seem to have learned nothing during the vast millennia we have been here on this Earth.

I wonder how many feel the same way. I guess that does not matter. Whatever, I think that is where I am going -- not into the future, but into the past.

Wish me luck ....

I simply do not understand women

I have said before and, undoubtedly, will say again: I do not understand women. Some examples:

A few days ago, my daughter hung up the telephone on me.  Do not ask me why. I have no idea what I did or said to bring that reaction.

A few days ago, the technician cleaning my teeth stopped, turned her back on me, and walked out of the room in an angry fashion and with a rather uppity remark. She had just told me she was getting married in July, and I had replied, "Congratulations, Callie."

She came back about ten minutes later and finished the task without saying another word.

I could mention other recent, similar events, but I think you get my drift. I believe part of the problem is that I am not smart enough to understand what I am doing wrong and not dumb enough for women to feel sorry for me. Sort of in the middle, you know?

Anyway, I have gotten used to this dilemma. Rather than asking questions or getting angry in return, I just keep my mouth shut and sort of fade away just a little bit further.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Once upon a time in a saloon

This painting, completed in the 1790s by English artist C.R. Ripley, illustrates boxers Daniel Mendoza and Richard Humphreys fully prepared to engage in fisticuffs. The two fighters were prominent men-among-men in their day, which was a bit more than a century before an informal brawl took place between two small-town protagonists in a Minnesota saloon. While the names of these small-town fighters are all but forgotten today, perhaps their battle was no less relevant than any engaged in by Mendoza and Humphreys -- at least in terms of family lore -- and the painting serves as a fitting illustration for the story being told here. And, as for the music accompanying this post, it is here because I can never get enough of Victor's guitar and Valery's voice, and hard rock does seem to go hand-in-fist with hard fights.

Epic struggles are where you find them

[Editor's Note: I had the occasion this week to visit with a few relatives I have not seen for a few decades. It brought family history into my mind. History begets history, so the next day I opened a few local history books and re-read portions of them. I became interested in one article written about fifty years ago by an old-timer who was recalling an event he had witnessed about fifty years before that. It is fascinating to me because one of the central characters in this "epic struggle" is linked to my ancestry. In fact, I even have a shotgun he owned. So then, just for fun, here is the article for you, with only a few minor changes, written in a rather genteel style of description which seems appropriate to the era it portrays:]

It was an extremely hot Saturday afternoon in (our town). The year was 1908. Bill Davis was a local saloonkeeper, tall, dark and handsome, quick and lithe as a ballet dancer. He was an only son, trained by his boxing-instructor father since childhood in the manly art of self-defense. As an enterprising youth, he had gone to Wyoming, rounded up wild horses and brought them home to sell to area farmers. With the profits from this venture, he had purchased the Southside Bar.

Stor-Alex (Big/Large/Great Alex), a young immigrant from Norway, was the very essence of his Viking ancestors. Of fear, there was none in his makeup. Well over six feet in height, barrel-chested and immensely powerful, to the amazement of onlookers. His prowess in battle and his numerous feats of strength were renowned and fabulous. And yet, because of his mild disposition and gentle good nature, he was often teased and taunted in hopes of seeing him provoked to anger, and consequent deeds of classical violence.

On this particular afternoon, Stor-Alex had come to town with horse and wagon for supplies. Having loaded his wagon, he apparently decided that a cold beer would be in order, so he crossed the street and entered Bill Davis' saloon.

As a ten-year-old boy that afternoon, I had just finished my Saturday chores. Noon-day lunch was long since past, and a dip in the lake seemed a fine idea. Hurrying uptown in hopes of finding other kids to go along, there was a sudden burst of shouting along the street, and a loud cry of, "Slaw homeeyel!" (Kill him!)

People were running from their shops down the street to the saloon, where a crowd was already congregated. I immediately ran down there also, but being unable to see the action, crawled on hands and knees between the legs of on-lookers until I was flat on my stomach right inside those swinging doors.

No one seemed to know what had started the fight, but a good guess would be that Stor-Alex had again been teased by Bill Davis or one of his customers, and it was just the kind of day to make his usual good nature turn hot as the weather.

First, he showed his displeasure by picking up the end of the long and heavy bar and shaking it vigorously. As if an earthquake had hit the place, glasses and bottles came tumbling and crashing and rolling over the floor. In a flash, Bill Davis leaped over the bar and landed a terrific right to Stor-Alex's jaw, drawing a gush of blood.

As I watched from my vantage point, with eyes and mouth wide open, Stor-Alex grabbed and clutched at Bill Davis, tearing his shirt to ribbons, leaving only the collar and starting trickles of blood on his neck and chest. With the instinct of a trained boxer, Bill Davis danced aside, weaving and coming in with lightning jabs which closed one of his opponent's eyes and caused profuse bleeding.

Stor-Alex had knocked Bill Davis off his feet a couple times, and I vividly remember looking in fascinated horror at the pools of blood on the floor. Quick as a cat, Bill Davis was on his feet again, trying desperately to get in a knockout punch, but Stor-Alex was too tough, and not to be downed.

At one point, Bill Davis managed to land a blow which backed Stor-Alex into a pool table, knocking it and its contents to the floor with a rumbling crash. With a lunge, Stor-Alex then caught Bill Davis by the throat in his powerful grip, and that was all for Bill Davis.

It had been a classic struggle, but now a tragedy could easily have besmirched the fair name of (our town). For it required the combined and frantic efforts of six or seven bystanders to save the life of William Davis.

It was then that a ten-year-old kid decided it was time to get going. At a safe distance across the street, I saw Stor-Alex come out with a group of men who saw him to his wagon and helped him get started back to the farm.

The melee became the talk of the countryside, and even the most peaceable and abstemious of Stor-Alex's fellow-Scandinavians took more-or-less secret pride in his herculean performances.

To the credit of the participants in this brawl, however, it must be said that neither carried a grudge. Such it was in those days. Occasionally afterwards, I saw the two in friendly conversation in front of the saloon, but I never heard whether any of the drinks that followed were on the house.

Something special ....