Wednesday, March 20, 2013


An early morning (for your grandma and me) phone call from the piano tuner has left me wide awake and swimming in a stew of random thoughts so here I am trying to capture some of them before they are all gone.  As usual, in wandering through my mind I have stumbled over some of the bits of literature strewn about in there.  I'm just going to put some of those bits down and then see where this essay goes.  The first one was:

                 CROSSING THE BAR

              Sunset and evening star
              And one clear call for me.
              Let there be no moaning of the bar
              When I put out to sea.

 This expression of Tennyson's contentment with his life (he is asking metaphorically that no one mourn for him when he dies) came back to me as I lay in bed with my wife's warm weight pressing gently against my back and one of the dogs snoring quietly on the floor next to us.  The poet, all his accomplishments not withstanding, cannot have been more content than I am.  From there I spun on to a line from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, "You will comprehend the word serenity and you will know peace." That's from a section called "The Promises," and it is a promise that I have certainly received.

"Now is the winter of our discontent turned glorious summer," floated by next, and I laid there for a few minutes thinking about how we do in fact make our lives "winter," not by being deprived, but by being dissatisfied.  Like most of Shakespeare's protagonists, Richard III was brought down by his ambition and greed.  Had he actually been content he would have escaped his fate.  Someone put it much more plainly with, "Happiness isn't found in having what you want, it"s found in not wanting what you don't have."  I guess that just brings us back to my "The Richest Man I Ever Knew" story.

Next, for some reason I started thinking about an anecdote I sometimes use when someone is railing about what kind of God allows bad things to happen.  This isn't a story that is apropos of anything happening in my life, it is just where my mind went this morning.

       Picture in your mind two college professors strolling across the campus of a great university like Harvard or Cambridge.  They are discussing the philosophies of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, Bertrand Russell and Teilhard de Chardin.  As they are walking, one of the professors happens to glance down and sees that his foot is about to come down on an ant.  Without thinking about it or interrupting what he is saying to his companion, he twitches his foot to the side just enough to spare the ant's life.  That ant, going on about his business, completely uncomprehending of his narrow escape, knows as much about the philosophies the two professors were discussing as I know about the mind and plan of God.  To tell myself that I know more is simply hubris.
Grandma B says this story is mostly about me trying to show off how smart I am by naming a couple of philosophers.  I expect she is not completely wrong.  I do know the names, but I had to look up the spellings.  No one ever accused me of being a good student.  The story is also a reminder to me that I have a great deal to be humble about.

This post has been sitting in the draft file for a couple of days now because it felt kind of unfinished, so here is one last thought  to end it on.

I woke up again this morning so it's gonna' be another great day!




  1. I loved this post. And Grandma B is right: I do think you're rather smart by showing off your knowledge of philosophers, but that's beside the point. :-D

    I found your blog through Susan at I'd love for you to share your favorite posts in my GRAND Social link party just for grandparent bloggers. There are so few grandpa bloggers, and I'd love for all my blogging grandmas (and other readers) to get to know you. The link for this week's party is here:

    Cheers! And thank you for providing a smile this morning via this post.

    ~Lisa at Grandma's Briefs,

  2. A great post and the absolutely perfect ending! Like Lisa I found your blog through Susan's post and I'm glad I did. I've been trying to get my husband to do more guest posts for me but there is always tomorrow! Keep blogging. Even a year from now you will go back and read an old post and you will have forgotten so many little details. Plus the grands will love it! I'm off to read some more!

  3. The "railing" about "What kind of a God?" has always been one of my "irks." My favorite saint, Therese of Lisieux, offered a similar response. She said that we often lament, "Oh, if only I hadn't gone there that day I would not have...." Well, consider this, she continued. How many times did you NOT go somewhere where misfortune would have met with you? Only God knows what was prevented from happening! Amen!

  4. You're a breath of fresh air- and yes, at our age we can still be fresh. ; ) Here from the Grand Social and enjoyed every sentence. Si, tell Grandma even the high falootin' namedropping. jehe BB2U