Archive for December, 2017

Saying Goodbye

Friday, December 15th, 2017

A friend posted a sad one on Facebook the other day. His beloved dog had to be put down. The sadness was just dripping off the few words that went along with the closeup picture of his dog’s face. I felt it in my gut.

I’ve had to say goodbye to 3 pets that way, a dog and two cats. It has been said you can be a dog person or a cat person, but not both. I do like both, but if I had to choose, I’d take the dog every time. I remember the day when I had to day goodbye to our German Shepherd Panzer. The poor old guy couldn’t use his strength to lift up his rear end. The vet and our family decided it was time to end this, so that is what we did. Panzer trusted me to carry him to the table in the clinic, and we looked at each other while the vet was busy finding a vein. I put my hand by his nose, and he sniffed, knew it was me, licked my hand, and was gone.

These are sad thoughts, but important ones. Panzer lived a life that had meaning for his family. We still grieve after 15 years of absence. We’ll all face a day when we can’t get up, and when that next elusive breath will be hard to catch. Did we live a life that meant something to the people around us? The time to think about it is not at the end of your life, but right now. Try to spend every day being a person that will be missed when you are gone.

How I Adjusted

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

This morning did not start well. As I was preparing a breakfast for myself, I turned on NPR news, as is my habit. I learned the Senate passed their tax reform bill at about 2:00 this morning with 51 votes. This vote follows on the heels of a affirming vote on a similar bill in the House some weeks ago. We can next expect the two bodies to work together to forge a version of this bill that both can agree with, another vote, and a signature from a willing president.

In a few sentences, I’ve described the process of transferring a large amount of money from the middle class to the wealthiest among us, with the promise that the transfer will spur such tremendous economic growth that the taxes generated will pay for the additional trillion plus deficit spending over 10 years.

This 500 page bill was negotiated in secret by the party in power, and provided to the members of the senate 2 hours before they were to vote. The copy was so poor that parts of the hand written changes were cut off in the photocopying process. It was one of the most shameful examples of our public officials jamming an unpopular bill through that I’ve witnessed in my 65 years.

I had a couple of choices on how to proceed with my day. After enjoying the breakfast that I made, I thought about some advice I gave my son when he went away to college. “Spend as much time as you can with exceptional people.” Some pretty unexceptional people had managed to put a dark slant on my morning, so I became determined to turn that around.

In my youth, my parents, bless them, saw to it we had a World Book encyclopedia in our home. When we had questions about most anything, it was a good place to start. To this day, I am thankful my parents were progressive enough to understand the importance of a purchase like that on a limited household budget. Today, if you can afford the cost of an internet connection, you can do so much better than that encyclopedia of 60 years ago. I’d recently listened to a Freakonomics ™ interview with Larry Summers, so I turned to Youtube ™ and looked up some of his speeches.

I don’t know if his macro-economics distracted me from my depression, or if the message he spoke so eloquently did, but spending an hour and a half with Larry Summers today did the trick. I know, as I’ve probably known all along, that there are lots of smart, capable, and good-hearted people out there that can do the right thing if called upon. I hope that this terrible tide in our political lives will change for the better as it always done in the past. I hope for the day when rational discourse and debate in our lawmaking bodies will replace the vitriol that currently reins.

While I’m waiting for that day to come, I plan to spend some more time learning about and listening to people like Sarah Cheyes. This award winning NPR journalist covered the war in Afganistan until she resigned in 2002, and started a cooperative in Kandahar to help local farmers find an outlet for their produce, thereby giving them an alternative from the opium poppy crops they have found so lucrative. Sarah learned Pashto to better enable her to work with her new neighbors to improve their lives.

I think it is inevitable that we’ll be exposed to villains and heroes in our daily walk through life. And it is probably inevitable that the villains will often make the most noise. When it happens, I’ve decided to seek out the heroes wherever I can find them, and if I can find a clip on Youtube ™ where I can listen to their words and watch their eyes, so much the better. I’m ready to call it a day, and I hope for a better tomorrow.