An Illusion

“Time is an illusion.” Albert Einstein  

I remember hearing my parents and their friends talk about how fast time goes when you get older. Thinking back to those conversations, I see myself shake my head and begin to roll my eyes. These words seemed to be a secret code that’d unlock the door to the vault containing all the most adventuresome tales, true or imagined, of each person seated around the table.

I’ve found a couple of explanations as to why time goes faster as we get older.

Chelsea Handler, in her new book, Life Will Be the Death of Me, has this to say:

“Time speeds up as it goes by. Someone explained to me that there is a mathematical reason for this: as you age, each year becomes a smaller percentage of the life you have already lived. I’m forty-two as I write this. One year now represents a small percentage of my forty-two years (about 2.38 percent). But when I was eight, one year was a really long time; it was an eighth of my life. (This is why summer lasted about four years when you were a kid.) This may be why I now feel an urgency to know more, to do more to be more.”

I heard this explanation of time on one of the local morning talk shows:

When you’re ten, it feels like you are going through life at ten miles per hour. When you’re twenty-five, you’re traveling at twenty-five miles per hour, thirty-five you’re running through your days at thirty-five miles per hour. Today, I’m traveling at sixty-six miles per hour, wishing I could take my foot off the accelerator and coast for a while at fifty-five.

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” 

Dr. Seuss

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Thank you, Jo Heiple Thedens, for letting me share your photos in my blog. Each photo has its own personality which makes me smile and remember my Iowa roots. 

The 50’s Through the Eyes of Frank Miller

 

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” 

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

When I saw the book below at an estate sale a few months ago, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Frank Miller was a household name in Iowa as I was growing up–and for good reasons.

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For those who don’t know, Frank Miller was a Pulitzer Prize winning “cartoonist” for The Des Moines Register for three decades. In 1983 The Register published a book presenting selected works from his years at the paper.

To introduce those who don’t know him and those of us who want to know more about him, let me share what James Flansburg said about him in the introduction:

“Frank Miller captured the essence of Iowa. He was a cartoonist and proud of it. But also from 1953 to 1983 his pen and brushes produced hundreds of sketches and paintings that caught the beauty of the state and the anomaly of man’s trying to harness nature…

…Frank Miller didn’t really draw for the readers of The Register and the 30 other papers in which he was syndicated. He drew for an audience of one: Frank Miller…He was one of those rare beings who got paid for doing what he otherwise who’d have been doing for nothing…

…In that sense–unassuming, but not humble, aware of his talent but not crowing about it, convinced of his rightness but recognizing other views–Frank Miller appears to be a study in huge indifference. He lost interest in a work the instant it was finished…

…people didn’t like the cartoons he liked and liked the ones he didn’t very much care for. My guess, for example, is that he didn’t much like his Pulitzer Prize winning cartoon.So the way a Frank Miller would handle that would be to say as little as possible. “I think I’ve drawn better cartoons,” he said…

…We sat side by side int The Register newsroom for a long while–he illustrated  my political column for many years–and I never knew he had an alcohol problem until the day he told me he’d be gone for a while because he was going to put himself into the hospital for the cure. (It was the beginning of what he regarded as his most important work in the last several years of his life, helping alcoholics try to repair their shattered lives). Nor did many people know about it when his right elbow gave out–cartoonists are subject to something like tennis elbow because of the fine detail work of drawing–and he started to teach himself to draw with his left hand…

…Miller’s first dealing with The Register demonstrated his qualities as an affable, rational person who knew how to play whatever cards fate dealt. After army service in World War II Europe and study at the University of Kansas and Kansas City Art Institute, Miller had followed his father as a staff artist at the Kansas City Star. IN November of 1951, Register editor Kenneth MacDonald wrote Miller to ask if Miller was interested in a Register job for which he’d been recommended by his old teacher Karl Mattern, the noted artist. “Last May I was called to active duty with he Army Reserves,” said Miler’s reply, “and as I write I am in San Francisco ready to ship to Korea.” On his letter was an ink sketch of a sergeant in full combat gear. “Damn. An I always did like Des Moines,” said the caption. Miller laughed at the situation that would have had almost anyone else raving…

…Eighteen months later Miller was on The Register payroll and on his way to becoming as important a figure in Iowa’s day-to-day life as The Register’s first front page cartoonist, Jay N. (Ding) Darling…

…Miller never sided with a political figure–issues yes–individuals no–and Miller was not particularly interested in knowing or even meeting the great and near-great…His letter file would have been a valuable find for an autograph hunter or maybe even a scholar. But Miller wasn’t interested. He threw them away after reading them…

…When I cleaned out his desk and boxed his belongings after his death, I found, among other things, two letters and one photograph…

…The photograph and one of the letters were from Gene McCarthy and were carefully preserved. The other letter was from President Lyndon Johnson and it was in relatively good condition except for the dozens of brown ring stains from the coffee cups that Miller had set on it over the years.

Some of the cartoons for the 1950’s:

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The more things change, the more they remain the same. ~Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

The Olden Days

“We are all the product of things we’ve never seen and people we never met. In fact, if just one little detail had been changed in their lives, we may not even exist!” 

Melanie Johnston

I think my sister, Sue, gave me this multigenerational picture of our mom’s family. It was probably taken at the family homestead in Duncombe, Iowa.

Pictured are my great grandmother, my grandfather, my grandmother, and my aunt Charlotte in the lower right. I believe Mom’s in Grandpa’s arms.

It’s a great picture but the sad part is no one is identified. Even more sad is the fact there’s no one alive to share the story behind this gathering.

As I studied it, I noticed Grandpa’s bibs look fresh, the buttons shiny. Grandma’s dress looks more special than the usual house dress. The little girl crouched front, probably Charlotte, has on a wide collared dress and her hair has a fresh looking side part. That little baby, the little soul I think is Mom, has on bright white socks with tiny black shoes. I don’t think this is every day wear on the farm. Knowing the McDonalds, I’m thinking they’d just come from Sunday Mass.

Unlike the trips to visit my dad’s family, I remember making the trip to Fort Dodge to visit my mom’s family often. It was a trip I looked forward to even knowing the odds were high I’d be carsick before we made it out of Tama county. Even riding in the front seat didn’t guarantee an uneventful drive.

Looking back with my adult eyes and experiences, I think we visited my mom’s family often because Mom was very homesick. She’d lived at home with her family until she was 27 years old. Shortly after she married Dad, they moved to Indiana because Dad had a been offered a factory job in Kokomo.

Dad had been in the army during World War II so he was used to being far from home–a distance I think he grew to prefer. For Mom, it wasn’t so easy. She’d never left home. Moving from Fort Dodge, Iowa, to Kokomo, Indiana must have seemed like she’d gone to the moon.

It wasn’t until I moved to Denver from Iowa I began to understand how hard it would have been for my mom to leave her family and move far from home.

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My cousin, Donna, often told me how important she felt going with my Grandma to visit Mom, her best friend and Aunt Vivian, in Indiana. As my Grandma often did, she and Donna took the bus shortly after I was born so they could meet me and help Mom and Dad. I don’t think it was long after their visit my parents moved back to Iowa.

It wasn’t until I retired I realized how hard it must have been for my mom to give up her successful bookkeeping career in order to stay at home and raise her children. In my little kid conversations with my Gram, Gram told me having babies was my mom’s dream. Gram said since Mom was a little kid, she’d told her she wanted to have five children. The biological clock was spinning fast for a 27 year old woman back in the 50’s. Mom’s prayers were answered but I think it took its toll on her health and her marriage. In the end, she had only three surviving children–all girls.

It wasn’t until I moved to Texas I realized how isolated Mom must have felt after leaving her home and being far from family and friends. She didn’t drive–a mute point considering the fact we only had one car. Long distance phone calls were expensive, especially for a growing family. In those days, just getting private time on the party line was tricky. Even then a truly private conversation was not guaranteed. Family call night was Sunday after eight. Mom would wait by the phone for Gram to call. As I type I see myself pushing my way next to the phone receiver so I could hear and talk with Gram. Heavens! I was such a pushy kid. I wonder if Mom ever had a private moment to speak with her family? In the 50’s and 60’s, only other way of communicating was by mail. I can see her sitting at the kitchen table, smiling up at me as she filled her fountain pen and signed off her cards and letters. I wanted to write, too, but she patiently told me the fountain pen was much too fragile for a heavy handed child. I’d beg to lick the stamps and she’d finally give in so I’d stop my constant begging. I’m sure my zealous licks over moistened the little stamps making their adhesive power more than questionable.

It wasn’t until I began questioning myself and my past I realized my mom had had her own questions. For a long time, the only book that’d been on her bedside table was the book entitled, You Are Important. Because it’s small and easily hidden, after she died I stashed it away in my room, where it survived the purging that would come when my stepmother arrived on the scene. This book has been part of my library, complete with the spelling graffiti one of us put on the front cover and other pages throughout the book. I’ve thumbed through the pages many times but it wasn’t until last year I saw the passages Mom had faintly underlined.

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It wasn’t until I became more aware of my own mortality I realized how frightened Mom must have been knowing she’d be leaving her children. It’s only been the last few years I became aware of the fact I’d never thought about Mom’s illness as an adult. I’d conveniently sidestepped it by keeping my ten year old point of view. It was this awareness that made me realize I had some serious thinking to do.

“At night, I think about these things. I’m pleased with what I know, but now I think much more about everything I could have known, which was so much more than anything I can learn now and which now is gone forever.” 

Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

Roots

“Roots are, I’m learning, as important as wings.” 

― Michele Huey

Today, I’m beginning my broad family history research. It’s going to take awhile and will be tricky.

As I sit down to put my notes together, I feel like a little kid sitting in front of a 1000 piece puzzle box knowing at least half of the important pieces are missing.

I guess that’s what makes a story a story–making the best of the details available–pulling what you have together and sharing your memories as a way to pass on lessons learned along the way.

My Grandpa Burton is pictured in my story today along with the only photo i have of one of our visits to Grandpa Burton’s. Unfortunately, I have very few memories of him or dad’s family. When we were young, we rarely visited and no one visited us.

The trips to Grandpa Burton’s house seemed to be last minute, discussed in whispers, and lasted only a few hours. The trip to the little town of Paton was short by today’s standards but lasted forever. The conversations were hushed, often held a sharp edge, but were mostly nonexistent. The silence seemed to wind the three of us up, opening space for our continued questions of how many more miles is it or how many more minutes until we are there.

As the miles trudged by, the level of tension increased. Finally, we pulled up in front of the house. With all the pent up energy we’d been holding in, we raced to the door to be greeted and fussed over by our aunt. I remember being uncomfortable with all the attention she gave us because I really did not know her. She was so different from my mom’s sister, Charlotte. As I looked around the entry way I noticed my grandpa and uncle remained seated in their chairs. Mom greeted everyone warmly but seemed to hover close to us. My dad walked in slowly nodding his head as a greeting. As I think back I hear him clear his throat while his hands are in his pockets, rattling his keys and change. It was a sound I’d come to know very well.

My sisters and I were young but each picked up on the strain in our own way. The body language displayed at this gathering began my lessons in picking up subtle and not so subtle clues–it became the foundation for my childhood of hyperawareness.

I became the watcher and the worrier–the child began her withdrawl in order to stay safe from the unknown.

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“In our family histories, the frontier between fact and fiction is vague, especially in the record of events that took place before we were born, or when we were too young to record them accurately; there are few maps to these remote regions, and only the occasional sign to guide the explorer.” 

Adam Sisman

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

A Friday Prayer

If anyone has hurt me or harmed me

knowingly or unknowingly in thought,

word, or deed, I freely forgive them.

   And I too ask forgiveness if I have hurt

anyone or harmed anyone knowingly or

unknowingly in thought, word, or deed.

      May I be happy

      May I be peaceful

      May I be free

      May my friends be happy

      May my friends be peaceful

      May my friends be free

      May my enemies be happy

      May my enemies by peaceful

      May my enemies be free

      May all things be happy

      May all things be peaceful

      May all things be free. 

                                           ~Buddhist Prayer, The Little Book Of Prayers

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Searching

“I did things I did not understand for reasons I could not begin to explain just to be in motion, to be trying to do something, change something in a world I wanted desperately to make over but could not imagine for myself.” 

Dorothy Allison, Trash: Stories

Lately, I’ve been absorbed in books. In them I’ve found some very good teachers.

There’s a problem with all this, though. It’s very difficult to read and write at the same time. Through a haze of guilt, I felt it was more important for me to continue to read.

I found the more I read the more I felt I was piecing together parts of a mystery novel. Bit by bit I was beginning to gain insight and figure things out. The interesting thing–unlike those other page turning thrillers I’d read, the enigma at the center of this story was me.

As I read I began to see ways I could begin to solve the unknowns in my life. From past work I knew it would take patience. From a very young age, I’d mastered the skill of creative busyness. It was the way I escaped so I could block out and not question what was happening in my small world.

As I whirled through my life, years and years of life events I found too painful or confusing were simply filed away for later. As long as I stayed busy, they stayed in their little files.

Now I am no longer busy enough to keep those files stacked up and safely closed. Little mental nudges caused the stacks to slide and all those carefully filed pages began to spill out. My filing system was failing. I knew I could not refile it all. I also understood in order to live my life fully I’d have to confront my past–file by file.

This year of awareness is showing me life lessons don’t always come in order.

Maybe I’ve needed my own adult experiences to help guide my journey back. Maybe I needed to have the maturity to understand so I won’t get caught up in making judgements. Maybe I needed to fight all the battles I’ve fought so I realize I have the courage to move through my doubts and fears.

Maybe I needed to know–really know–I was ready.

“We can be walking around in this world, with bits and pieces of our souls scattered in different time loops and space cracks. You feel like you are always looking for yourself, because you actually are always looking for yourself! You’re always looking for those bits and pieces of you. You’ve got to sit down and remember where you left them at. You’ve got to quiet the noise and go back to those loops in time and cracks in space that you forgot about and you need to understand yourself in those moments, and embrace yourself. And maybe even embrace those who were around you, with you. That’s how you get those pieces back, that’s how you sew them back into you.” 

C. JoyBell C.

I am..

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thank you, Kimberlee Salimeno, for letting me use your beautiful photo. I love and cherish you. 

Distractions

“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.” 

Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

Today, I discovered why I have a problem cleaning my office.

Other than the fact I work better with some disorganization to my work area, I realized the problems begin with the first step of my cleaning process–putting away the books on my desk.

This initial step starts a cascade of stumbling blocks, each one creating its own level of distraction.

Before putting things away, I need to sort the books on my desk, creating the first of many decision points. Am I done with this book or do I want to grab more quotes? Once the decision is made, I search for an empty space on the shelves…pushing the book into the tight space, I spy a book I’ve been looking for and have on my list to read in the next week…grabbing that book and starting a new stack on my desk my eyes flash onto another book needed for quotes I want to put in a card this week…with that thought my mind jumps to maximum attention—where is that card?…that nagging question nibbles at my thought process as I scan the shelves, realizing I will have to redo at least one shelf in order to put books away…as my eyes roll upward there is movement outside the office window. It’s our mail person…

The list of distractions goes on and on…my desk is less organized now than it was when I started.

I may not have achieved all I wanted but I did succeed in finding a prayer to share today.

I’d read this prayer written by Thomas Merton years ago. At the time I was comforted by the fact even Merton felt lost and uncertain at times. Today when I picked up my, The Little Book of Prayers, it magically opened to the prayer I’d hoped to find.

Ya gotta smile.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.   ~Thomas Merton

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

 

October

“May you Fall in love with October

and all the beauty it brings,

May your life be as colorful as

the turning of the leaves,

On each blessed autumn day” 

Charmaine J. Forde

One this first day of October I find myself thinking back to other autumn days.

With little effort I hear leaves crunch under foot as I watch gusts of wind peel more leaves off the top of racked stacks and push them down the street. Closing my eyes, I step effortlessly into that long ago scene. It’s early evening and the light of the street light is dim. The persistent wind brings with it smoke from nearby bonfires as well as the subtle aroma of a pie cooling on someone’s windowsill.  Even after all these years, my mouth waters, making me smile.

O God of Creation, you have blessed us with the changing of the seasons. 

As we welcome the autumn months, 

may the earlier setting of the sun 

remind us to take time to rest. 

May the brilliant colors of the leaves 

remind us of the wonder of your creation. 

May the steam of our breath in the cool air 

remind us that it is you who give us the breath of life. 

 May the harvest from the fields remind us of the abundance we have been given and bounty we are to share with others.

May the dying of summer’s spirit remind us of your great promise that death is temporary and life is eternal.

We praise you for your goodness forever and ever. Amen.  ~Unknown~

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~