Today I was doing my usual walk in the neighborhood, and I turned down my adjacent street, as usual. Some years ago, when I had dogs, I would usually stop at the house nearest the river and talk with Margaret, an elderly widow. We’d sit outside and the subjects ranged far and wide.
She’d talk about occasionally seeing the ghost of her husband in the house. Was he checking up on her?
Another thing I learned from her was the surprising number of people who have lived on this street since the homes were new.
Normally with our California suburbs growing like weeds, that wouldn’t be a surprise, but these homes were built in the mid-50s. And another surprising thing – many people up and down this street – about 1/4 mile long, know each other.
In many suburbs, many neighbors know very little of each other. Nor do they want to.
So this morning, I turn the corner and I see this woman, obviously advanced in years, on all 4s pulling weeds in the lawn.
English picked up both the concept of hubris and the term for that particular brand of cockiness from the ancient Greeks, who considered hubris a dangerous character flaw capable of provoking the wrath of the gods. In classical Greek tragedy, hubris was often a fatal shortcoming that brought about the fall of the tragic hero. Typically, overconfidence led the hero to attempt to overstep the boundaries of human limitations and assume a godlike status, and the gods inevitably humbled the offender with a sharp reminder of their mortality.
I don’t know if I fit the classical Greek definition of Hubris, but a couple of times I did get spanked pretty good, if not by Zeus, some power. Maybe it was God knowing I had a comeuppance.
The interesting thing about history is that some events have been known, well, since the event. Whether it was 100s of years ago or a few days ago. Sometime ago, I read an excellent book on the history of the First World War. Also known as “The Great War”, or the “War to End All Wars”.
Along with the history and origins of the Spanish Flu, the author went into great detail on the unofficial Christmas Armistice that broke out all up and down the line of the Western Front on Christmas Eve, 1914. German and British soldiers with hesitance came out of their trenches and sang together and exchanged simple gifts. Even had a few football matches amid the barbed wire.
Other bits of history, long suppressed and known only to the few who were there, come bubbling to the surface years later through the remembrances of one of the principals.
I wrote about one of these times that became known 50 years later, when the “puzzle was finally solved”.
This is another one of those incidents, remembered by a man who then was a 12 year old boy. It only became public through a 1970s Reader’s Digest story.
He and his mother were waiting for their father to return to their cabin in the forest, when they had some unexpected visitors. And for one cold and snowy evening all hearts were open to the true meaning of Christmas.
Whether you are the man for whom this site is dedicated, and on a Christmas Eve in 2008 had “had a hole in his life that would not be filled on this side of the veil“, or a serviceman (or woman) “on the line” today somewhere in the world thinking of home and loved ones, may you find joy and peace.
We tend to believe ourselves to be physical beings with a spiritual core.
But what we really are is spiritual beings with a physical shell.
As I have gotten older I have realized that there is no guarantee that we will all grow old. And along the way, starting in high school, I realized that this is but an illusion. That we will all grow old. Although we all expect to grow old.
As a squadron commanding officer, I had to discharge two otherwise fine Sailors who had “popped positive” on urinalysis screens for having THC in their systems. They were good kids, from bad backgrounds – the service had been a lifeline for them, a chance to remove themselves from bad situations.
And I had cut that lifeline – sent one back to the gang infested streets of El Paso. The other returned to East Los Angeles. Truly, my hands were tied.
The other day, noticing that my Xfinity bill had just about doubled in 5 years, I went to a local office to see about lowering it. A young woman (funny how all that is relative isn’t it?) went above and beyond looking for “plans” that would lower the bill, and she found one.
Know a definition for “elderly”? One I heard decades ago?