May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The pic here is a cake! Yesterday had a most fabulous time with friends in Salt Lake City. There was a house warming party; Dick had bought a house and had it remodeled. A lovely new crib.  Amazing Greek food, and a lot. At least thirty people there. A full spread, lots of laughter, good conversations. They’re an Italian family, so the desert was Italian. A great combination.

Some things happened over the past few days, which I’ll be writing about in more depth. Main things were two funerals, Aretha Franklin and John McCain. Aretha went through some horrible things in her life. It looks like memorial turned into a political rally against whites, Republicans and lots of Trump bashing. What the hell? Focus not on her. That’s what Leftists/Democrats have been doing of decades at memorials. They've corrupted everything with their politics. Sports, religion, movies, journalism, and of course funerals. I’ll chronical that sordid history. Then John McCain’s memorial was the same, though mostly it was Trump bashing. I’ll be speaking ill of the dead. He did some amazing and good things, and led a good life. What he did his last few years was destructive to the country and his legacy. Even to the end, to his funeral and memorials he blocked people from attending. Never heard of anyone doing that; they wanted to pay their respects and honor him.

Well, I’ve done some yardwork this morning, now need to assemble some furniture.

All days are good. God is good.  

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I haven’t written since last September. The time since then to now was not good. Things that happened at work made me miserable, which caused me to retire earlier that I planned. I couldn’t write or read anything of note. Thus no blog posts. I was going to work until 2021, way over 65 years old. My misery at work got me to take action and retire now. It’s a good thing, better than I imagined. Two years ahead of what I planned, I now own and live in a house overlooking a valley and mountains, I can see stars at night, and hear crickets. One morning when I opened the curtains a fawn was outside my window. I’m not working, having to be monitored and critiqued about everything I said and did. Being treated that way causes a free spirit to suffer. I toughed it out and here I am.

Yesterday was a retirement party at work, my last day. It was also an event for my friend Paul, also retiring. We’ve know each other for years, and I’m glad he too is free to pursue his dream. It was an emotional event, testimonies about both of us and how we had such a good and memorable impact on people. Given that, I am happy to leave. UPS was a mostly miserable place to work; many unhappy people there because of it.

The first Sunday in August I also left my church, First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, Las Vegas. That was also emotional, and more deeply so since it is a place and people I love. A place I was accepted and helped and appreciated. I learned and taught guided and was guided.  It is sadness for me to leave.

All of which lead me to thinking of departures past. The first departure was from high school…bittersweet. Athletic glory days and some academic success. That summer I ended up at the Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon busing tables. Tips got me enough to get me into Northern Arizona University (plus a hundred bucks from Dad).

I completed my freshman year, carrying 17 hours and a full time job at a restaurant. I knew I couldn’t do three more years of that, so I joined the Army and they gave me a Southeast Asia vacation, all expenses paid. Unlimited bullets and beer. Quite a formative experience for a twenty year old. That was a happy departure. Out of the Army and out of Vietnam February 10th 1971. That was unbounded joy. From there back to college on the GI Bill and a part time job in the university library.

Departure from college was painful. I loved the academic life, the scholarship, reading, friends, discussions, and of course the parties. Met and lived with the love of my life. I was working in an alcoholism center too. All at once, I graduated (I got a letter from the university telling me I was done, time to go), broke up with my girlfriend that major league broke my heart, and the center where I worked lost its funding. I had a breakdown. Everything was gone at the same time. That was the most painful departure ever.

I ended up in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and for the next couple years worked as a roustabout in the oil patch. Worked on a rig, took off for a few months until I ran out of money and found another rig. I wasn’t invested in that work, so departure was an emotionless passing through kind of event.

I wanted to travel the world some more, so joined the Navy. Not a good experience. Couldn’t stand it, but I was stuck. I did get to visit some great places and had some good friends. That was a happy departure. I remember standing on the quarterdeck, requesting permission to go ashore the final time, and when I started down the brow, a bunch of guys on the flight deck threw their hats in the air and started cheering and yelling out my name “Dex”.  The Captain and XO were on the quarter deck scowling at me. I wasn’t too popular with the brass. Like I said, it was a good departure.

My job after that was a good departure, glad to get out of there. Conflicts with management, a lifelong issue.

Then the move to Las Vegas and twenty years as UPS. Made a few friends there, and met some super smart people. And twenty years at Church, lots of super smart and talented people. This last has a hard departure.

Each of these are a stage of life. I first became aware of these stages reading a book by Erik Erikson about Gandhi. I was twenty something. To get an idea of how long ago that was, tuition for college was $163 per semester, for all classes. I carried 17 credits, $163.

In youth, the first stage, I learned music, how to play an instrument, how to be a winning jock, how to read with discernment, and study. In the second stage of young adult, I grew in combat and weapons knowledge, scholarship, working outdoors doing manly labor, traveling. In most maturing paths, this part of life is learning a skill for the third stage. That stage usually one meets a person that becomes a spouse, an occupation is maintained and hopefully some wealth for later years to maintain the fourth stage. That stage is to get right with God. That’s for me. Others like Freud, Jung, Hindu’s, Buddhists have different descriptions, but it all about focusing things from and in the spiritual realm.   

Now in my fourth stage, I’m back to religion, church, the Holy Spirit, scripture. I need to revisit Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, CS Lewis, Kierkegaard, Goethe, Pasternak, and yes Ayn Rand too. Just to name a few. These were influential in my second stage. It’ll be interesting to see how differently I read and experience those writings.

Lastly it’ll be interesting how I’ll influence others, what I have to teach, share, and what more do I have to learn.