The Life Line

I recently came across something on the Internet and thought it an interesting idea. It can be found in various forms, not many different from the others though. I’m sorry to say it comes with no mention of its original author. It is often seen without a title. I have given it one and have rewritten it.

I’ve changed the order of things. I’ve changed the wording, I’ve added a lot and taken away a little. It is my version and from what I’ve seen, I think it’s the best.

I share it here.


Every second someone leaves this world behind. They take nothing with them. They’ve arrived at the front of the line. An ending as well as a beginning.

Age, status, health, wealth or heritage has nothing to do with our place within it. Realize it or not, we are all standing in this line together.

We think little about it. We ignore the line’s existence. But here we are and here we stand, with no possessions, equal in every way. Continue reading

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Distractions, Choices and Perfectionism

As is far too often the case, I’ve been a bit remiss in writing in my blog. This will be only my 8th post for the entire year. Despite all my best intentions, what can I say? It happens! Just know, like any good friend, I haven’t forgotten you.

There are always the, what in my life are, “normal” distractions. Here are just a few, listed in no particular order:

My genealogy research.

My genealogy website.

Visits from family and friends when I’m “home” in Las Vegas (Although it doesn’t occur nearly enough)!

Reading. I’ll never get “caught up”, the list seems endless. I’ve been fascinated lately with the classic novel Little Women and its author (a distant cousin). I know… I’m a guy… crazy huh?

Watching television shows (mostly political, documentaries, real life in nature). Netflix movies… then there are all those YouTube videos that run the gamut.

Traveling… to far away and exotic, worldly places like Mahaffey, New Hudson and Pahrump, NV.

Going to the movies (again, mostly real life in nature), but I haven’t done much of that lately.

I’m a procrastinator.

I’m a perfectionist!

I’m old, I get tired.

Television personality Geraldo Rivera once said, “Life is a series of random choices, and what we make of life is what you make of those random choices.” So true and I’ve come to understand as well, with those choices come consequence. With them we sacrifice one thing for another. Distractions come at a cost to this blog.

I don’t think, especially at this stage of my life, I could write for a living. I admire those who do. I’ve had friends who do. One of my cousins has written several books and publishes a weekly column. He’s done it for years! In another life I used to write on a daily basis. Then I’d read it out-loud. I actually got paid to do that.

What an absolute chore that would be now! For me, the deadlines and pressure to produce would just be too much. Guess that comes with old age (although my cousin is older). I give him credit, where it’s due. My last self-imposed burden was in September of 2011. It was a thirty-day challenge to write a blog every-single-day. I did it, but I doubt I’ll ever do it again. It was painful. Now I write because I want to, not because I have to. Or do I?

For most anyone, writing is a laborious and time-consuming process. I think it’s worse for me. I have a friend, and former News Director to thank in-part for this. He’d often ask his co-workers about their writings, “Is it compelling?” Is it? I’ve never forgotten that and I likely miss the mark frequently.

I’m never bored with life, there is always something to do, something to occupy my mind. Lucky me, I always have ways to wile away the hours. I’m never at a loss of “what to do now?” There are a lot of hours these days to wile away.

Life is such lately I’ve been known to say, “A lot of times I don’t know what day of the week it is, and I often don’t care.” Some people envy me, they tell me so but, there’s so much more I could be doing. I miss my volunteer work with the USO and I’d like to contribute some time at the local Veteran’s hospital. I think about it anyway …

It seems I’m always writing. If I’m not adding notes to my Evernotes app, making lists,* making plans or writing in my journal, I’m working on editing and perfecting a future blog. Being a perfectionist, like Kermit’s Bein Green, isn’t easy but it’s a cross I must bear. It can be burdensome to a writer, that wants to be read. You might be surprised how many blog drafts I have, just waiting for me to finish. There are currently more than 40 on a variety of subjects. The number of times I’ve rewritten and edited what I write seems almost to be an affliction, a debilitating habit at the least.

Often I’ll be writing on my genealogy website or working on family biographies. The biographies of two uncles in particular had been in the works for several years. After dozens, possibly a hundred or more rewrites, I finally finished one of them several months ago. The other may soon be worthy of sharing. I know, to some, my interest in genealogy and family history is considered odd. I’ve been criticized for it but… it is what it is.

Occasionally I’ll turn to my own personal history and work on that (again odd to some, I know). I often think I should be devoting more time to that cause, as one never knows how much time we have left. There are just far too many stories that need told while time is a finite, priceless commodity.

I recently came across another persons blog writing about the Liebster Award. I’d never heard of it. Apparently it’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. It’s website says:

Bloggers are a funny bunch. We read a lot, write a ton, scour the web for new content to consume, and even give ourselves awards for this stuff.

That’s me! All except for the awards part… but there’s always next year.

 

*Related Posts: Lists – Evidence of a Troubled Past?

Who Are You? Where Are You Going?

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Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.
~~ Billy Graham ~~

For as long as I can remember Billy Graham has been someone I’ve always looked up to. A towering personality throughout my life. I vividly remember as a 5 or 6 year old boy lying on the floor in front of an old black and white television watching him. I was mesmerized by his speech and his style. There was just something about him that, even as a very young boy, grabbed and held my attention. His message touched me. It’s always been that way and I’ve spent untold hours watching his crusades on television and his many interviews. If Billy Graham was on, I wanted to watch, I wanted to hear him.

As an adult I came to recognize his greater qualities, which is probably something I sensed as a boy. He was genuine, he was sincere and, he was humble. Beyond his words, his life-long example made an impact around the world. He never wavered. A few years ago I found myself once again captivated by his words when reading his book Nearing Home in which he shared his personal experience of growing older. I could relate.

It was not, with any great surprise, I heard of his passing yesterday at the age of 99. And especially no great surprise the huge influence he’s been credited with in the lives of millions over his long life. I was just one among them and am grateful to have had the experience.

I share the following story with the hope you appreciate it’s timely significance.

Continue reading

50 Shades of Rick

Things you may or may not know. Revelations and a few more confessions.

______________________________

1) I was born on December 6, 1952 in a small Pennsylvania town. Despite the realization I find myself on the downhill side of life, I’m hopeful there’s more miles and milestones ahead! Craig Newmark, the computer programmer, businessman and founder of Craigslist was born on the same exact day.

2) My parents were never married and my father died when I was 2. He was 31-years old.

3) I was adopted by my father’s sister. She would soon divorce her husband whose last name I bear today. I was raised by a single mother.

4) I’m a seventh generation American. One of my 4th great grandfathers came from Germany while another migrated from Sligo, Ireland. My heritage includes heroes and scoundrels. Some of them helped shape the future of the country serving in all ranks in both the War of Independence and the Civil War. Dig deep enough and you probably have them too.

5) I am very much a proud American and a patriot. As long as I can remember that’s always been true. I believe in American Exceptionalism.

Continue reading

Uncharted Territory and the Road Ahead

Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down you can choose your response…. How you live your life is totally up to you.  It’s not dependent on your circumstances, it’s dependent on your choices. ~~ Joel Osteen

I have a young, teenaged friend “CJ” who over the last eight months I’ve come to know. He was far from his home, family and friends and looking for a new life. I like him. He’s tall, 6’4″ personable and outgoing. An all-American kidCJ002a  from a small town in south-central Texas (population 857). He’s been referred to as an “18-year old man.” The reality is he’s just a kid and, like a lot of 18-year olds, restless, self-assured, a little cocky, but naïve nevertheless. CJ has no lack of confidence. The last few times I’ve seen him (most recently earlier this week), as we said goodbye, I would routinely say to him — somewhat tongue-in-cheek — “Stay out of trouble CJ!” He’d reply with something like “All is good” and be on his way. Little did we realize how much trouble he would soon find himself in. Life has a way of changing dramatically with the passage of a few brief moments and seemingly unrelated, foolish choices.

Yesterday my young friend was charged with Murder in the First Degree accused with a 20-year old companion, whom he’d just met, in the brutal bludgeoning death of a man in a nearby community. This is new, uncharted territory for me, something I was unprepared for. I find myself uncertain how to react and even a bit lost for the right words. How I wish I could have seen the road ahead! I feel bad that I didn’t do more. I should have contacted CJ’s parents as I watched his downward spiral. No… things aren’t always as they appear. But instead I chose to think, “He’s a good kid, he’ll grow up. It’s a stage. He can take care of himself.”

CJ and I sat together and talked a lot, many times while I worked on previous blogs. I enjoyed his company. It was an education to learn from him the distractions, challenges and temptations he and his peers live with. I already knew about most of them but, with CJ we talked specifics.

While I honestly worried about his welfare, I had faith in his abilities to conquer his youthful impulses and to find for himself the right path. From his narrow perspective and among his crowd, he was “normal … things are cool.” I understood his thinking but I knew it wasn’t true and I told him so. In CJ I saw potential — rays of hope — and a better life ahead, but ultimately I knew he was in control, as he liked it, as he wanted it. Besides, is it really any of my business? I have my own problems, my own children and who am I? Especially when CJ and I really have so little in common? But then again, No Man is an Island and CJ will remain my friend.

One thing in all of this is certain… no one should forget the victim, Rich Bergeson, whose life was brutally and so needlessly taken and to whom the video at the link below pays tribute. The reality is, there are many other victims as well. Along with all the affected families and friends whose lives would intersect in such a tragic meeting, I am but one of them, and together we cry, knowing our lives will never again be the same.

Another day of work, another paycheck. The future is looking bright.
Christopher John “CJ” Shade, 20 August 2014

Click on this link for more about this story

Favorite Quotes Friday – 6/06/2014

I’ve written about living in the present, stopping to smell the roses, enjoying what life has for us today, no matter how much better we wish it were. Count each day as a blessing no matter what. It is a gift those who are gone wish they still had.

We have a tendency to trample on our lives by regretting the past, dreading the future, or living only for the future… We’re always living somewhere but this present moment. ~~ Peter Matthiessen, Filmaker

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