Decisions

I watched a movie a few nights ago about the writer Ernest Hemingway, probably the most influential writer of his time. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But despite all his success and fame he was a troubled man. He made some awful decisions. His final one was to end his life with a shotgun.

In poker, decisions really matter. A big part of the game is inducing your opponents to make mistakes. Good and bad decisions can make the difference between sudden death or sitting behind a commanding stack of chips. It’s said, poker is a microcosim of life itself. It’s true and part of the reason I love the game so much. Still to be determined though, is whether my investment in it has been a good… or a bad decision.

I created this blog primarily to leave a little behind for my children and grandchildren… and who knows… maybe even my grandchildren’s children will get something out of this as well. It’s a big part of why I’ve been involved in documenting our family history and my interest in genealogy. It’s all part of being the designated story teller. The younger generations generally speaking  have little interest for what the older has to say. It usually isn’t until you’ve grown older yourself that you come to appreciate the wisdom and the value of the thoughts of those that came before us. Often, when we finally realize the error of our ways, it’s too late. As I grew older I learned how seemingly small decisions ended up having surprisingly enormous life-changing consequences.

There are the mundane decisions of what to wear today and what to eat, when might I do this, and when might I do that? But other decisions, like what you choose to do for a vocation, where you choose to go to school, where you eventually choose to make your home and of course — who you choose to marry — are obvious in their ramifications. But some of us fail to give even those the consideration they deserve. Bad decision!

In choosing where to live some people stay close to their roots, never venturing far from home. Me? When I joined the Air Force I wanted to get as far away as I possibly could. I can’t recall why exactly. Maybe it was the spirit of adventure and the thought of heading west to unexplored territory. I’m sure the palm trees, sunshine and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood had a little to do with my decision as well. But I did manage to go as far west as anywhere the continental U.S. allows. Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Yes I found new places and spaces, and new friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have had, but in doing that, and with other decisions that followed, there developed a large gap between my roots and my extended family. For much of my adult years, I lived in the moment. Bad decisions!

I’ve lost count the number of career opportunities that came my way as my days in the Air Force were coming to an end. Everything from firefighting to the California Highway Patrol to Air Traffic Controller were reasonable possibilities. All of which would have been dramatic life-changing decisions. But I’d long before had chosen what I thought would be my life’s vocation, I was set in my ways. That too may have been a bad decision. And that’s my thought for the day…

“You make a decision kid, make it carefully. Know what you truly want. Consider every possible consequence or you’ll wind up at 59 wondering, what the hell happened?” ~~ Ernest Hemingway (Adrian Sparks), from the movie Papa Hemingway in Cuba

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Thoughts on Veterans Day, 2016

I’ve never looked at my service in the Air Force as a sacrifice, nor as a selfless act. It was among the best years of my life and with them came many opportunities. 

I came away from those days so much more the benefactor. I was blessed beyond measure to have been born in this country. It was the least I could do for it. 

If I am a prideful person it’s for two reasons: I’m proud to have served in the military and I am a proud American.

On this day, while I salute all those who took the pledge — those who wear and wore the uniform — I remember especially those who I knew personally, those who never returned to their homes and family. The 6 crew members of a B-52 who frequented our fire station for the “good food and vending machines.” The F-105 pilot whose ejection seat malfuntioned killing him and another Air Force firefighter on my crew and finally a high school classmate, Robert Bolt “R.B.” Dickerson a Marine killed in South Vietnam in May of 1971.

There were a few others I knew and served with who paid the ultimate price and whose names I don’t now recall. Of course there are tens of thousands more from that era and from various wars and conflicts before and after. It is them I think of today. Any other “sacrifice” pales in comparison.

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Died on the Fourth of July

On this day as we gather our families together with picnics and fireworks to celebrate our country’s independence I can’t help but think of my 2nd great-grandfather Edward Byron Patton. He was 34 years old on this date in 1860. Less than a year later Abraham Lincoln would become president. The father of 4 small children ages 1-6, the youngest my great grandmother Mary Jane.

Edward Byron Patton

Edward Byron Patton

There was no celebration for Edward or his family on that Fourth of July and I would imagine it was tainted every year after. For on that morning his 27-year old wife Esther passed away. A newspaper account read that so greatly admired and through respect to her memory in their small town, “all patriotic demonstrations were suspended and not an unnecessary sound was heard throughout the day.”

Edward never remarried and alone over all those years ahead he raised his children. Along the way he became a successful builder and contractor. I can imagine he was a beloved father, grandfather and patriarch.

I often think of what it must have been like for my great grandfather on that solemn day, traditionally set aside for happy celebration. I wonder what it would have been like to have watched him on that day conduct his affairs with the loss of his young wife. He was a breathing living person, as real as you and I. Not just a name with places and dates among a long list of thousands. How I would like to set across the table from him and get to know him.

That’s a little of what I think about, every 4th of July.

Related Posts:

Family History and the Story Tellers

James Garner – Actor, Poker Player

BretMaverick

The Young, Dashing Bret Maverick

I’ve been distracted of late, it isn’t the first time but this blog is never far from my mind. I’m always conflicted on what to write about and how long these entries should be, not to mention finding the time to concentrate on whatever subject it is I finally choose.

Realizing I post regularly to my Facebook page on a myriad of subjects I got to thinking today: Why not just expound on some of those same things here within my blog? After all, each entry doesn’t have to be a lengthy epic of paragraph after paragraph of astounding, deep-thinking commentary. It just needs to be a sharing of a single thought or two on my interest of the day, something I hope worthy of sharing with you my regulars. Something “compelling” would be a word a friend often uses. So, here goes!

By-the-way, thanks as always for stopping by!

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There is Beauty All Around

Mt. Reindeer

“Mt. Reindeer”

The world is a beautiful place, no doubt about it. I don’t have to go far to recognize it either with the grandeur of Mt. Rainier a short distance away. But even we here in Seattle, as lucky as we are, grow far too accustomed to it. We drive along our roads and freeways with it towering in the distance some 29,000 feet high and ignore the beauty that is there. Amazingly taking it all for granted.

I’m reminded of my son Matt. As a little boy while riding in the car with me one afternoon he noticed the mountain (actually a volcano) amid the trees along the road ahead. With excitement in his voice and pointing toward it he said, “Look daddy, there’s Mt. Reindeer!” Might have been close to Christmas but despite his not quite understanding the name he wasn’t denied the joy a child has, and often acknowledges, for the interesting things they notice all around them.

But age and the hustle and bustle — those ever-present distractions of life — will often do that to us. They make us take the sights and sounds, as well as even the people around us for granted. I’d like to think I don’t take the important things of my life for granted, but I know I’m often guilty as well.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses and to appreciate your surroundings, family, friends and life itself especially for there is beauty all-around, if only we’ll take the time to notice.

FindBeauty

Favorite Quotes Friday – 1/31/2014

I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve always been a reader, way back to my days in elementary school and The Weekly Reader. Do they even have those anymore? In those days my mother bought me one of those huge 1000-plus page unabridged dictionaries. You know the kind you see in libraries on their own stand? Weighed ten pounds probably but I would page through it regularly looking at all the black and white pictures accompanying the definitions and reading what I found interesting. These days I’m happy with the smaller Webster’s Collegiate.

Then it was on to The National Geographic Magazine. Back then you had to be nominated by another member (my best friend Eddie) which included a very official looking Certificate of Nomination, gold seal and all and signed by the Chairman. I’d look forward to those glossy monthly issues and all those beautiful photos and would read each of them cover-to-cover. They even smelled good! Those were heady days for me as a card-carrying member of such a pretigious organization (just the same as it was for the young George Bailey from my favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life).

Later when I was a young teen my mother went to the great expense of purchasing a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. 24 volumes as I recall with annual yearbooks that stretched ahead for at least the next 8-10 years, possibly more. Those too, especially the yearbooks, I would constantly read and refer to.

There’s more I could write about my voracious appetite for books and magazines, but I’ll save that for another day. Suffice to say:

A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read. ~~ Mark Twain, American Author