Every man is entitled to his mistakes but only a fool lets them pass without notice.
I’ve always thought I’ve done my best thinking when others do it for me. That’s when I’m at my intellectual best. But every now and again, I get an original thought. Just so happens I got one last night. It’s a tired subject, the age of the earth and for that reason, humanity.
Those busy archeologists find artifacts, buildings, and even entire cities, buried beneath rock or hundreds of feet under water. No biggie except that these things are older than the accepted 5000-6000 years idea before man is thought to have gained the knowhow and ability to construct and build cities and monuments.
In 2000-numnummnum, off the Gulf of Combay (off of India) a city was discovered that had no business being there. Another problem: carbon dating placed its construction 12,500 years ago. I suppose the hunters and gatherers got bored, built a city, decided it wasn’t that big of a deal and went back to hunting and gathering. Of course, Indian history and their historic epics said there were great cities south of India, back when its land extended hundreds of miles southward above water. Same with the Incas, Mayans, and the Sphinx told from Egyptian epics. Each told of a preceding civilization, in which from they inherited the monuments and structures.
At any rate, this, along with many other things, challenges the orthodox view when civilization began. The Darwinist’s view is that some things happened, at some point before time began, then life began precisely 4 million years ago 6am next Tuesday, animals and humans emerged extremely slowly from highly improbable accidental causes over a period of time according to laws of probability.
Therefore, the four billion year old earth was determined not by scientific observation or geologic evidence but by estimating how long it should have taken these random events to have occurred given the extreme probability of life having occurred at all through random, material causes. I almost forgot. We all happened in Africa, and we left from there about 100,000 years ago, day after tomorrow. Problem is there is evidence that life was already present everywhere, simultaneously.
Oh well, it’s better not to think of this stuff on your own. Forget I mentioned it.
…And a selfish occupation. It just is…and one in which should not be attempted sober.
The old man (I’m not old, but in my mind’s cabin I am) liked to chop firewood for exercise and peace. The rhythm of the axe rose and fell seemingly at its own pace, with little effort but lots of joy. The moist, rich smell of oak and hickory filled the air. The sound of work did not bother the wildlife. Birds chirped and sang and squirrels chattered. He admonished his hounds for giving them chase–his lions he called them: Caesar, Cleopatra and Patton.
His aging profile is noticed in the lines on his forehead. His hairline is receded now but the admixture of Celtic and Saxon blood is undeniable in his features despite the passage of time–A regular Child of God, he reminded himself. He’s thin, still broad, but slightly hunched forward at the shoulders.
The gentle sounds of nature around the cabin were like Beethoven for the destitute. It was nature that played maestro to his all his thoughts and every activity. He rose early each day to review the day’s schedule over cups of steaming coffee. The matters mostly involved fighting back the weeds and vines and birch that threatened to invade his peaceful oasis in the woods. The task was unending but in them he found for each day of his life reason, calmness, and progress. Fighting for civilization, he mused, by undoing nature’s painstaking labor.
In the afternoon, after lunch and a midday nap or a book, he tended to his vegetable garden and five fruit trees. If the heat was not too much, he sat and marveled at what he created in the midst of wilderness. He would walk down to the bank of the creek and sit in the shade. He’d count the wood ducks and the bass and catfish or playfully throw acorns at the soft-shell turtles as they emerged from beneath the surface for air.
The water passed by at the same pace of his life. He was deeply and utterly and completely content. Even free he’d boast, if he were in an arrogant mood.
Winter days were equally rustic and simple. He would carry in carefully cut firewood to the fireplace and escape the cold with a book and a glass of scotch. The light from the crackling heat provided warmth and light to soothe and assist his reading while reclined in his easy chair. He wrote once during one of these nights, “Here I have not only silence but complete peace. Sometimes it is so quiet I can overhear my mind and heart. The wisdom these two share.”
Inside his cabin was a sanctuary. Before entering, he left his boots at the doorstep. He expected those who visited to do the same. His home was a modest, two story, two bedroom affair. He hired laborers from nearby and helped build it, too. On the ground floor was an open layout: living room, guest bedroom, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom and off to the side near the staircase was his reading area and library, which was closest to the fireplace.
Reading was a passion and he had finally developed a taste and discipline for the classics. In the place of large meals were simple hearty stews, salads and the vegetables from his garden and the fruit from his fruit trees.
Ascending the staircase, one passed his book-lined study. On the upper floor were the master bedroom and a fully furnished loft that opened to a balcony facing east. There in the early morning, he would talk to God, created to creator—the details of which are forever unknown.
The cabin stood in surrounded woods hugging the nearby creek. It was remote from the nearest road and invisible from the nearest highway. Although he kept to himself most of his days, he was friendly, agreeable, and never turned down strangers.
He told his son one evening, now a young lawyer, who stressed to him about the lack of time and opportunity that, “One does not have time, son. One makes time. The same goes with opportunity.” (The son forgot this nugget of wisdom. Years later when he realized it for himself but was too old to do anything with it and forgot that it was ever told to him to start with, could do nothing but share it with his son and hope for a different outcome).
His son would help him from time to time with the sawing, clearing and piling. Each claimed for themselves something basic from the land and something basic from each other. At night around a fire or on the balcony looking up at the stars, they would smoke cigars and sip scotch. He asked his son to share with him about his aspirations, about life in general. They called this council the “God and the Stars Discussions.”
The man told his son that satisfaction would take him further than any good favor in life. He explained, “Consider morality, ethics, economics, politics, each passing year and compare it to your own level of satisfaction. Then you are forced to compare your own happiness against the world and decide for yourself who’s doing better. However, one must be willing to retreat, tactically, of course, within his own interior lines and be willing to leave behind dead weight that just yesterday was precious and invaluable.”
His son tried, underneath those stars, to follow along in his father’s wisdom but admitted that with his whole life in front of him, the thought of retreat and living in a cabin was obnoxious. The father calmly and reassuringly said that it’s good to grow old because it allows a person to change gradually, “It’s easier to smile, it’s easier to cry and forget the things that once set our minds on fire. The more one relaxes and sees life in all its simplicities, as opposed to its impossibilities, the more things that seemed important recede. Yet, one does not retire in this simplicity because there is always something to do! Physically and mentally one finds tasks that can be measured and their completion noticed.”
The son pressed for more clarification. Finally the father revealed all that he had learned in life was abundantly within and around the cabin. In which was thus, “Find so much satisfaction in your life and days and works that all of them are more a pleasure than a chore.”
Not just any ol’ kind of scotch but some really good stuff. It’s called Talisker and I approve of its quality and I recommend it for you and everyone you know. Just promise to drink responsibly and if we ever meet, I hope you offer me a glass of it over rocks.
Together with Lagavulin, Talisker represented a heavier side of the single malt spectrum. Their barley (which is malted at Glen Ord) isn’t as peaty as Lagavulin’s (the Talisker ‘recipe’ requires a peating level of +/- 22 PPM) but
the whisky still makes a strong impression on most novices in the world of single malt Scotch. This was especially true in the 1990’s when Islay malts like Ardbeg and Caol Ila were not available as proper single malt ‘brands’.
Got to this site and read a little about it’s brewing and craft and see if it is something you’d like to try.
Deep and stormy like the ocean crashing over the rocky shores of its island distillery, Talisker is the only Single Malt Scotch Whisky rugged enough to call the Isle of Skye its home.
I’ve been thinking about the nature of this blog. Certainly I love writing about absolutely nothing, then turning that nothingness into something meaningful. It’s an exercise of the mind and spirit and I find it relaxing, even healthy. I love sharing stories and heaven knows I got a lot of them. Now don’t go feeling bad about yourself just because I just went off bragging there about how I have more stories than you. I was born and raised in the rural south and that’s just the way it is. We tell stories and when we don’t have one, we just make one up or take someone else’s and tell it as our own. All of which is perfectly acceptable among friends and strangers.
Hey, wait a minute. I bet that’s not true. I bet there are plenty of stories out there and I bet you’d like to share them. I love meeting people and hearing about their past, their lives, and generally get a sense of who they are. I tell you, I wish I wrote down the name of every person I met who shared a little something about themselves to me. Ever heard of someone who has never met a stranger in their life? That’s me, I’m that guy.
So I’ve thought recently of opening up my site to others. There’s one hundred people who follow this blog and for what reason, I still don’t know. So that’s one hundred people who might like to share something about themselves. I know I’d be interested.
Tell me anything. Tell me something troubling. Tell me something happy. If you don’t’ have nothing to say, tell me about that, too.
If perhaps you are interested, leave me a comment or email me at email@example.com and we’ll work out the details in private.
I’m about to share with you a story. It’s not about me but of someone else. It’s about two lives intersecting for less than a minute under the most dramatic circumstances imaginable. I understand that’s quite the lead in so let me tell it to you the way it was told to me.
My grandpaw and maw-maw were traveling through Texas sometime back in the 1980s. If I remember the details of the story, the town was called Sweet Water. They were in their RV and stopped at a gas station. My grandmother sat behind in the RV, likely enjoying the air conditioner, while my grandfather went in to pay. When he returned, he sat there speechless. My grandmother noticed the look on his face, her exact words, “Honey, what is wrong with you? Are you sick? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.” To which my grandfather replied that he had in fact.
My grandmother now confused asked him what he was talking about. My grandfather explained, “There’s a man in that store. I’m certain I saved his life back in ’45.”
“H__, ’45? What are you talking about?”
He told her, “Just outside of Bastonge in 1945. That’s him, I remember.”
Pawpaw was referring to the Battle of the Bulge. He was in Patton’s Third Army that marched in dead of winter, traveling more than 100 wintery miles to relieve the 101 Airborne Division in the Belgian town of Bastogne.
Pawpaw had seen his share of bodies pulverized by tanks, Germans and Americans, while marching across France into Germany. This trip was turning out no different than any of the rest. However, this time after spotting a body sprawled in the middle of the road, he decided then and there to see one less pulverized body. He grabbed the dead soldier under the arms and dragged him into a ditch out of the way of the tanks there were rumbling up behind.
For whatever reason, he studied his face and got a good luck at him. Probably out of pity, I assume. Then again, maybe it was for another reason he couldn’t explain. The moment was brief, as there was more fighting and dying ahead.
Fast forward 40 years later and here this man stood in the same gas station as my grandfather in Sweet Water, Texas. He told this, just as I have told you, to my grandmother sitting there in that RV in the parking lot of a gas station. Mawmaw implored him to go back in there and see if that was him. He was unsure and felt too bashful to try. Forty years is a long time to pass to be sure about much of anything, much less about a boy you think you remember pulling off a Belgium road.
The man by now was walking out of the store and grand paw’s curiosity got the best of him. He got out of his RV and introduced himself. Grandpaw swore that the man had a certain instant familiarity toward him, even an affection almost immediately after looking him in the eyes. My grandpaw asked him if was in the army back in WWII.
“Yes, I was.”
“Were you shot outside of Bastogne in 1945?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“Because I apparently saved your life. I pulled you off that road and placed you in a ditch.”
The man dropped what he had in his hands, grabbed my grandfather and sobbed in his chest. “I knew it was you when I saw you,” he told him. He’d always known someone had pulled him off that road. He just never knew who.
My grandfather replied, “So did I.”
He insisted that he come and meet his family, his home being just a few miles away.
The story goes on a few more years. The man’s wife secretly invited my grandfather and grandmother to a family reunion a few years later. And the scene was just as dramatic. The man’s kids and grandkids were present this time, you see. So when he saw my grandfather standing there in his yard just a few years later, he dropped a case of beer he was carrying and ran to my grandfather and cried again just as he did the first time. He took him around to each and every family member there and paraded my grandfather around as if he were a legendary knight, a hero from some storied era in the past.
Grandpaw outlived the man by a few years, but the man’s wife and kids came to my grandfather’s funeral.
A debt and honor returned.
I came across this site [https://www.futureme.org] which allows you to compose an email and have it delivered to your future self at a date you determine. Being a natural risk taker, I bit.
Before I did, I poked around and read some of the public emails members shared to their futureselves. I wasn’t too impressed.
Turns out most people think they know what’s best for themselves years down the road despite not having one piece of information on the claim and knowing next to nothing about their futureself they lecture. I mean the nerve of some folks.
I found it all arrogant and disrespectful to an elder and rude behavior toward strangers, which is what our futureselves are. It’s best to stay out of peoples business you know nothing about. Then, I’m funny like that.
Wish they had one where the futureself could email the presentself. Now that’d be useful.
At any rate, I fired off an email to my futureself to be delivered in a couple of years. I didn’t lecture my futureself, the last thing my futureself wants is some snot nose kid telling him what’s what in the world.
Both come from familiarity with the self. When you know your limits and weaknesses therein lies your strength. Eliminating one less enemy to hold off from your flank and one less enemy is as good as a defeated one, so says Mr. Tzu. With your flank free and clear of threats, you can throw your reserves up front with the rest of the soldiers and archers and calvary and occupy new ground in front of you. Your kingdom now immensely larger allows you to focus only on what is achievable and possible according to your own clear judgment. Don’t forget your flank.
Dreaming is fine; pondering, even better. Practicality is a heartier investment in the longterm. Dreamers attempt to construct castles without knowledge of physical dimensions and rock hewing. Pragmatists build sturdy homes relative to the physical material accessible to them.
Patience is a virtue; procrastination is its evil twin. They look alike, even seem similar at first glance but the other one will rob you.
Repay your debts. That’s all.
Accept change; there’s no great evil in it but don’t tolerate the things that stay the same in consequence of change.
Defend the defensible. If there was no tradition, all new things would have been smothered in the crib.
Our spacetime, our now, is no more important than any time before and will be no less than any time after. Everything that happens, has happened, will happen is already familiar and a well recorded fact regardless of the race in whatever dimension of time, past, present, future, it occurred.
Think continually how many physicians are dead after often contracting their eyebrows over the sick; and how many astrologers after predicting with great pretensions the deaths of others; and how many philosophers after endless discourses on death or immortality; how many heroes after killing thousands; and how many tyrants who have used their power over men’s lives with terrible insolence as if they were immortal; and how many cities are entirely dead, so to speak, Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and others innumerable. Add to the reckoning all whom thou hast known, one after another. One man after burying another has been laid out dead, and another buries him: and all this in a short time. To conclude, always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are, and what was yesterday a little mucus to-morrow will be a mummy or ashes. Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.
Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.
Always run to the short way; and the short way is the natural: accordingly say and do everything in conformity with the soundest reason. For such a purpose frees a man from trouble, and warfare, and all artifice and ostentatious display (The Meditations, Marcus Aurelius).
Cormac McCarthy is a favorite writer of mine. Some don’t prefer him because of his dark and grotesque subject matter. His book Child of God is an example of that criticism. Here are two examples of a powerful piece of writing from Child of God:
Each leaf that brushed his face deepened his sadness and dread. Each leaf he passed he’d never pass again. They rode over his face like veils, already some yellow, their veins like slender bones where the sun shone through them. He had resolved himself to ride for he could not turn back and the world that day was as lovely as any day that ever was and he was riding to his death.
In the spring of warmer weather when the snow thaws in the woods the tracks of winter reappear on slender pedestals and the snow reveals in palimpsest old buried wanderings, struggles, scenes of death. Tales of winter brought to light again like time turned back upon itself.
I admit there were times while reading that book that I was repulsed. In fact, it gave me my fill of “the grotesque” for a while. I sat to order another one of his books Suttree but after reading a sample, I realized I wasn’t up for another marathon of flawed characters. However, I will certainly read it and probably sooner than later.
If McCarthy wrote about these things just to write about them, then certainly I would find him grotesque and flawed. So it helps to understand that McCarthy is a Southern Gothic writer and that genre uses dark metaphors, flawed characters and gray and dilapidated surroundings. The HBO series, True Detective is a perfect example. Also written by a young Southern Gothic writer, who grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The point being, there is another story beyond the one written being told. It’s a story about human nature, the depravity man is capable of and how sometimes dark circumstances are a lot of times bigger than we are. He’s showing you something in all that dark blackness. He’s telling you a story that you already know is out there. That there’s a stranger in you; in all of us…that a dog is only two meals away from being a wolf.
Other works I’ve read are No Country for Old Men and The Road. Both great works of writing. The Road especially so because of its subject matter, a post apocalyptic world. He brings to life the impossible and tells it like it really happened, albeit in a dark, dreadful fashion.
Those that may be unfamiliar with his style are surprised to learn that he uses very little punctuation (except for periods and commas, the latter only when absolutely necessary) and no quotation marks. To your mind’s eye that may seem confusing but believe it or not, after a few pages you quickly become used it. In fact, it’s pleasing to the eyes as things tend to flow naturally. He considers all the punctuation in today’s writing as a distraction and in his opinion, is unneeded and unnatural to the eye. Judging from his popularity, enough people agree.
Perhaps, I’ll come back to this and give some deeper thoughts on a specific book of his I’ve read.
Perhaps, you’d like to share some of your own if you got ‘em.