I’m old enough to remember the 60’s and 70’s – I lived my teenage years during late sixties and early seventies. This is no claim to fame…only a remembrance of maybe simpler times.
I remember the first airline flight I took at the age of 13. My mom took me to the airport, parked the car, and went with me to the gate to board the plane…without a blink of an eye for any type of ID. I remember waving goodbye to my mom as I, on my own, unaccompanied, walked outside and onto the tarmac, went up the stairs and boarded the plane to another city where a childhood friend lived, 500 miles away. I survived the trip.
On my sixteenth birthday, a cake was baked for me – this coming from a girl I had not yet met. It was a blind date set up by a friend. Four of us – my friend, his girlfriend, me and the girl I was about to meet, went to her house, sat in her parents kitchen, and ate a cake she had baked…for me, having not an inkling of what I looked like or much about me.
At 19, as I laid in a hospital bed from complications of pancreatitis during the week of Christmas that year, I was comforted by nurses and doctors, who not only checked on me every hour or so, but also took time to sit by my bed and hold my hand when waves of pain came. It may have not been the best Christmas I ever had, but it was the most memorable.
I’ve delved deeply into both sides of the political spectrum, and finding neither honest, appealing or sane, I, like nearly everyone else who gives a shyte, continue to search for kindness, truth and sanity…probably in that order – which is about as far away the politics of the modern day….or maybe even any day. And I continue to search.
I rant at politicians who use and abuse their fellow citizens; I yell (via the written word) about corporate a-holes who are a far cry from the corporate managers I had the pleasure of working for back in the 70’s and early 80’s, who actually took the time to take me under their wing, so to speak, and give me guidance on how to treat people, how to motivate workers, how to respect workers and how to appreciate them – not so much for the corporations bottom line of profits, but simply because it was the right thing to do…for the benefit of one’s fellow citizen.
Now, it seems, no one can tolerate anyone, much less their fellow citizen. There is little civilized debate anymore…only finger pointing, whether in person or online, one person claiming to be superior in every facet than another; without knowing them, without knowing their pains, their hardships, nor of the things that have brought them to where they are today. Maybe this is the way it always has been, but then I do remember a time when it wasn’t so. Maybe I was too naive back then to understand that no matter the “simpler” times one remembers, there was always those who were used, abused and mistreated.
One’s bible that they carry around with them, whether it be the actual bible, or the bible they’ve crafted over the years in their hearts and minds, is a hard thing to crack. And as strange as it sound, it must be. It must be sifted through, challenged, and tested. Cracking it, enables us to find the truth.
And yet, what I do know for certain is that the cake baked for me, the comforting hand given to me, and the advise and instruction afforded to me were given by people who didn’t know me. They were a gift – from a stranger. A gift of kindness, of decency, of hope and of love. They gained nothing from what they gave, except maybe knowing that they were giving is what most of us are born with – a desire to give our kindness, our knowledge and our love to each other – even if they be strangers.
We may not be able to quickly stop the wars, the injustices, the lying and insanity of fellow citizens who’ve gone off the rails (though we must continue to try) but it is within our reach to give the kindness, goodness and love we have – to any and all – even if they be strangers.
The truth, when we are blessed enough to catch a glimpse of it, may not completely set us free, and indeed, as novelist Flannery O’Connor states, may make us odd, but it does give us more than a glimpse into the eternal – with one of its frustrating truths being that we take the complex, and make it more complex – and we take the simple, and ignore it.
Kindness, truth and sanity – the simple that is within our reach is what each of us craves from another. And it is within our reach to give to each other.
Tonight’s musical offering:
Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990): 4 Dance Episodes from “Rodeo” III. “Saturday Night Waltz”
Photo credit (front page): http://www.unsplash.com/@sortino
Photo credit: http://www.unsplash.com/@imaniclovis