Just Look At Them And Sigh

Howdy! It’s been a while since I last entered a post from along the road. You’d think now that I’m retired and traveling the country in my condo on wheels I’d have plenty of time to write. Well, I have had the time just not the motivation these past few weeks. When I started this blog my plan was to only post/write when I felt the stirring to do so. Haven’t felt that much since the last entry but this week, getting back on the road after visiting with family and friends in Ohio, I’m feeling energized and eager to get back into it.
So here goes….

Have you ever noticed that you don’t really notice things around you until those things have meaning in your life? Like, for example, the way birds space themselves when sitting on a powerline. There must be some genetic avian programming then naturally causes them to sit equal distance from each other. Or have you noticed that people stopping at interstate rest areas are not very talkative? They all seem to jump out of their cars, walk as fast as they can to the restroom, and then return to their cars at a slightly slower pace. I’ve tried to strike up conversions with folks at almost every rest area but I get little response. I do wait until we’ve washed our hands so to not interfere with their main task at hand, per se.

These are just two of the many deep thoughts and amusing experiences I’ve had while traveling in the Terra these past four months. Hard to believe it’s already been four months living on the road but I’m here to tell ya I really like it. The two plus weeks I spent back in Ohio over the Thanksgiving holiday were nice and I loved being with friends and my kids, but getting back on the road has brought me a new energy that sort of confirms I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this time in my life. Have you ever felt that sort of confirmation that what you’re doing is exactly what you should be doing? It’s a fantastic feeling of peace and strength.

Today while cleaning the Terra and getting it ready to roll on down the highway tomorrow, I asked Alexa to play some mellow 70s and 80s music. She happily complied and started playing songs from James Taylor, Jim Croce, Carole King, and Dan Fogelberg among others. Fogelberg has always been one of my favorite singers. His song “Leader of the Band” is a touching tribute to his father and pulls at my heart strings every time I hear it. He also recorded “Same Old Lang Syne” which we hear quite frequently this time of year. It’s another song that gets to me and brings a smile to my face while listening and thinking about friends from my past. Both are songs I love to sing along with. Just ask the Doodle.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young also popped up today on Alexa’s playlist. I was never much of a fan of their music when I was younger because I thought all their songs sounded the same. And while this is mostly true, over the years I’ve really come to appreciate their lyrics and harmonies. Their song “Teach Your Children” played today and even though I’ve heard and sang along to that songs hundreds of times, today I heard more in the lyrics and I’ve been thinking about it all day.

The song is mostly known as a war protest song released in 1970 to counteract the Vietnam War. But today when I was listening and not singing along I really focused in on the two verse/chorus combinations. Here’s the first:

“You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.”

Did you hear the song in your mind as you read this? The thought that came to me today had nothing to do with a war protest but instead I thought about my life. How I’m on the road, in many ways I have been my whole life, and how my experiences, choices, and actions have impacted my kids. While trying to become myself I’ve made a number of mistakes. Okay more like a lot of mistakes which have sort of created my own ‘father’s hell‘ as the lyrics state. Troubles and hard times I’ve caused in my children’s lives mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing as a parent. I feel regret because of those times but like the verse continues, I also feel hope.

The lyrics continue with ‘feed them on your dreams’. I think the wish of every parent is that the dreams you have for your children come true for them. I really like the words ‘the one they picks, the one you’ll know by’. Kind of broken English I guess but to me this is saying let your children decide for themselves what dreams they want to dream and achieve. Not easy for a lot of we parents to do but I’ve found that my kids are pretty good dreamers on their own and are quite good at achieving their dreams if I just let them and support them in ways they want me to support them. The second part of the lyrics go like this:

“And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

I love the words ‘of tender years’. I think as parents we do see our children as tender in years. Even when they are parents themselves. But notice how the lyrics continue by telling the children to try to understand what their parents have been through. What they grew by. I really believe now, at this time in my life, that my kids are helping me with their youth. Feeding me by their dreams. Each one in their own way is showing me the truth that I’ve perhaps missed or misunderstood while trying to be a good parent. It’s humbling to realize that your kids can do this for you even though you are older and supposedly wiser.

I guess, for me, the bottom line in all this is each one of us has been a child and many of us are a parent. We may not always understand each other, the parent and the child, but we need to give each other the freedom to make our own dreams come true and decide for ourselves how we should live. Our ways and choices in life may be different but the song makes a lot of sense with the ending lyrics:

“The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

Parents trust you children. Children trust your parents. And all of us show respect towards one another. And as often as we can, “just look at them and sigh and know they love you”.

Here’s a link to the song on YouTube if you would like to listen: https://youtu.be/ztVaqZajq-I

See you down the road….

Please and Thank You

I think it’s highly likely that we all have either had children or were one at some point in our lives. There are a few of us that I think are just now living out our childhood years. I know I am in retirement. I can’t really do all the childhood physical things now but in my mind, I can. And it’s glorious except for the whole aching joints and sore muscles thing of course.

My grandkids are helping me to remember how to live as a child again. My grandson Teddy is only six months old and his way of living is still pretty much eating, pooping, sleeping, and smiling a lot.  He’s quite good in all these categories. Funny the similarities between the newborn and we aging.

My granddaughter Heidi is two and a half years old or as she says ‘Big Girl’. She’s funny, inquisitive, loving, active, and quite the communicator. She loves to tell me what she was doing or what she is thinking. Most times I can follow her story but on a few occasions her words get going faster than I can follow and I have to try and catch up by asking ‘Did you really?’ or ‘Ok what else?’ or ‘Was it fun?’. I don’t always understand her completely but for now, I have her fooled. I think.

As my mom taught me and as my daughter is teaching Heidi, it is important in communicating with others that you be polite and always use our Please and Thank Yous. Heidi is picking up on this and has summarized that part of the conversation to save time by simply just saying Please and Thank You together up front. Genius don’t you think? I mean why wait to the end of the conversation to thank someone.

I thought about this tonight while enjoying a dinner at the opening night of a restaurant here in Powell. I sat at the bar, grabbed the corner ‘Norm’ stool which I am claiming as my spot, and while chatting with the bartenders and owners I noticed how polite everyone was speaking to one another. Staff and guests all were pleasant and appeared happy to be there. Enjoying each other and their conversations. Cliff didn’t show up while I was there. He must have still been out on his mail route. But Claire was there tending the bar but I’m going to call her Carla. (Where everybody knows your name…)

Anyway, my mind wandered as it often does, and I started to think about life and how important it is to keep our politeness or let’s say kindness always present in our encounters and conversations with others. Even when our lives are not going that well and we’re struggling with one thing or another, I’ve found that if I purposely show kindness to others, I receive it back and my mood is improved. It’s important to understand that if we aren’t kind to those around us, we will probably not receive kindness in return. Seems pretty basic, right?

But unfortunately, it’s not that basic anymore. I hear too many times parents being rude and harsh with their children, couples heatedly arguing with one another, strangers or even friends getting very vocal with each other and belittling one another. And all this in public settings. It’s saddening to see this happening and that our children are picking up on it and emulating this learned behavior. It’s not how we are supposed to relate to each other. It’s not how society is to successfully live together.

Kindness is not something you earn from others. It’s not a right or entitlement. It’s something we should freely give away. Even in our disagreements and frustrations, if we are kind to one another, we can almost always find common ground and a way to first understand each other’s opinion and secondly maintain mutual respect for one another. It’s as easy as starting out with Please and Thank You and letting those simple words guide our encounter.

If you are a follower of the Christ, we are shown many times in the New Testament writings, how we should live with one another. Two verses that come to my mind are Hebrews 10:24 ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds‘ and Ephesians 4:2 ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love‘. To me, these are not just good words for Christians to live by but good for all humankind regardless of your faith, religion, or belief system. Kindness is universal and for all people to freely give and receive.

Not sure why my mind when in this direction tonight during dinner but thought I would share it with you. My hope is we can all share kindness in our everyday living to all those around us. To our families, to friends, to strangers, and especially to the children.

Please and Thank You, my friends, and see you down the road….