Sunday, January 27, 2013
If I had a nickel
If I had a nickel for every year I was alive - well I couldn't buy much. But, it is the sentiment that counts right? A few years ago, I heard Bill Clinton say that when he turned 50 he realized that he had probably been alive longer than he was going to be in the future. For some reason this really stuck with me and for the last 4 years I have thought about it around my birthday. Age, experience, situations, how you handle them, dis-ease - they all make up the life experiences that create these unique beings we humans become. When I meet a very boring person I wonder if they have had nothing to handle or if what they had to handle beat them. Almost everyone I know who has faced a demon head on and "rastled" it to the death has a bit of quirkiness in them. Just a hint of something that says don't poke a cornered animal cause if I have no place to run than I have to go through you and it won't be around you.
Ten years ago I felt I had no regrets in my life. Maybe I would have made a left or right here or there but really no regrets. Then along came Lymes and it created a big one. Had we not been on that piece of land that day . . . sounds so stupid when you say it out loud but still - it lingers. When I am having my pity party days I can't believe that I missed a decade of my life - don't think I can afford to do that. But then, having the choice made by some invisible essence of luck, fate, or evolution of the spirochete doesn't fit with my wanting to be in control.
Someone asked me today why I was so intense about what is happening in America politically right now. The immediate answer froze on my tongue and I wondered - why do I care? I am not going to be around that long - by the time the quirks are worked out I will be too old to do much about it anyway. Then I remembered and instead of my usual diatribe about freedom and rights and privilidges I said "because I am a sheepdog".
Some of you will undertand this. But for those of you who don't,
On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)
Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.
Then there are the wolves, and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.
Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn’t tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, “Baa.”
Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?"
- William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997
It does not make me better, special or anything. It is just who I am. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak at a class we took and the emotion and passion made it obvious who he was - who he would always be. I guess that is why I am so intense. Because it is who I will always be. Spending time hating the disease of wee beasties that has ridden with me as an illegal passenger is rather fruitless so trying to make the rest of my world better seems like a better use.
When I was in Girl Scout camp - must have been 4th to 5th grade summer I remember everyone wanted to sing Kumbya. I hated the song. I wanted to have an adventure song. One where we found things that had been lost, one where someone barely escaped disaster one where I would remember the moment. At the time I was told - sing - it is a nice, peaceful song and if the whole world would embrace it - the world would be happy. I was at the camp for 2 weeks. It never made me happy. I didn't realize it then but my future was already being set in motion. I learned that summer that people you can trust are hard to find. Friends are usually shallow aquaintances and if I could have learned to play a 12 string guitar when I was young I would have been very cool.
So, after 54 years, I am me. Way too wordy, way to intense, way too stressful to be around for long periods of time because I expect the same of you and way too in love with my grand passion of this life and my pets - all of them my pack. And, I still have only one regret - that damn tick. I consider that makes my life a success.
I am pretty sure I have a few years left - but, however many it may be, finding myself and my "purpose" has given me a bit of "what is the meaning of life" answer. I hope the same for you.
- Ric & Kathleen
- Roeland Park, Kansas, United States
- Life is short. We seek adventure where we can find it. If you would like to travel along - follow the crumbs we leave on the blog. Photographic Illustrations, bricolage art and Relic Hunting are our methods. If you don't have a good time - you aren't trying. "I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom; I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet