Recycling

Pink, fleecy clouds and muted harps? — Or fiery red heat and the harsh sounds of misery? — Or the gray nothingness of suspended animation?  – Or another chance?  What are these descriptive choices?  They are the verbage sometimes applied to Heaven. Hell, Purgatory, and Reincarnation–in that order.  Reincarnation quite literally, the recycling of the human soul.

If we as human beings can willfully recycle objects and in recent years parts of ourselves through organ transplant surgery is it not possible that God the supreme Being can recycle us?  The mystery of death and immortality coupled with an individual’s rearing and adoption of a religious faith present a range of ideas from “we have one life to live and death is forever” to the almost eternal recycling of human souls.  The philosophy of reincarnation is intriguing, thought provoking, and sometimes even amusing.

Reincarnation is more widely accepted in the middle and far eastern countries although it has it devotees in western civilization.  As is true of other religious doctrines, reincarnation is subject to various interpretations.  One belief covers the aspect that a human will always return as a human, never less than he/she was before, and depending upon his/her past life, perhaps will be a better person .  This concept embraces the theory of Karma which is defined as the sum of an individual’s consequences through successive phases of existence and determines her/his destiny.  Karma, therefore, is everything that has gone before and everything that will happen to that individual in the future.

Another premise is that God in His wisdom would want us to enjoy the full experience of life and therefore each of us will return to this world at least three times; once as a male, once as a female, and at least one more time as the sex with which we had the most success.

And still another concept–God, because of His mercy would not allow us just one chance to attain eternal happiness and so allows us that second, third, one hundredth or one thousandth chance to lead the perfect life and ultimately the opportunity to be reunited with Him.

According to these variations on reincarnation, after death one is given a brief glimpse of his reward–pleasant or miserable–depending upon which was earned in the life just ended.  A retraining period in the goodness of God’s ways and His expectations for us as mere mortals; then a drink of the wine of forgetfulness;  and a spontaneous rebirth or another chance to attain that perfection.

Some who believe in reincarnation believe you may return in a different form–as an animal, insect, or plant.  And there are definite penalties for committing offenses against the wishes of the supreme being.  For example, if a Hindu priest of a particular sect drinks intoxicating beverages he shall return  as a bird.  If this particular penalty were to be extended to include all who drink intoxicating beverages, the world’s current over-population will soon take care of itself. However, the reality of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie thriller, “The Birds” would be a horrifying reality.  All types of intriguing possibilities exist for your next life.

Are you a liar or as the Native American is reputed to have said “speak with forked tongue?”  Perhaps you would return as a serpent.  Do you treat people harshly and with malice?  Will you return as a lion or tiger and become not only the hunter but the hunted as well?  Do yo steal?  Would it not be justice to return to this world as a rat, who must steal grain and other food in order to survive?  Are you as sadist?  Would a just punishment be to return as a tree, subject to pain and hurt inflicted by a woodpecker and be unable to defend yourself?

Or really let your imagination run wild.  What of the Madison Avenue ad people who have inundated the public with inane commercials?  Will they come back saying “I dreamed I was reincarnated in my Maiden Form bra?  Ah, that would be retribution.

Seriously, the theory and philosophy of reincarnation has much to consider.  It offers rewards to keep us on the straight and narrow and promises punmishment if we stray.  The ideology has the affect of giving us another chance, a facet of the faith that is easy to accept as well as the cold logic of the law of destiny leveling out the deeds of all living things, each of us subjected to the justice of punishment and reward over eternity.

Perhaps, we do have only this one life to live and one chance to reach paradise.  But can you honestly say that reincarnation is totally impossible?  When you feel dissatisfied with your life, feel unhappy,  unlucky, and unloved, remember through reincarnation you may recycle yourself, live all over again, have another chance.

Believe or not believe–the decision is yours.

 

(This is a tongue in cheek speech I gave a number of years ago having been assigned the subject of “recycling”)

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A Patriotic American

Like many young—very young—men in the early 1940’s he tried to enlist in the Navy.  He was only 17 and suffered severe myopia; thus was deferred at that particular time.  However, soon after his 18th birthday, the inevitable letter arrived starting with the hackneyed phrase “Greetings” (the request to report to his draft board)

Miraculously, the eyesight was no longer a problem but he was fortunate enough to be the last one in the lineup that day to pick his service.  And so he was inducted into the United States Navy and sent to Boot Camp at the Great Lakes.  Boot Camp was that unpleasant place where the military whipped everyone into physical fighting shape and obedience training.  Unlike dogs, however, the participants did not receive treats for good behavior.   He was granted a short leave between boot camp and radio school.

His description of radio school was hilarious – he said “if you dropped your pencil and had to bend down to pick it up, you would have missed two weeks ‘worth of lectures.”  This was called accelerated studies and usually about half the class didn’t make it.  Flunk one test and you were shipped somewhere else.  He often said he had an advantage because he had taken typing in high school; that fact allowed him to spend more time in learning to send and receive Morse code.

After another brief hiatus at home he was off to find his ship the USS Oklahoma City, a light cruiser; first a shake-down cruise and then down the east coast, through the Panama Canal and on to the war in the Pacific.    Many battles, Kamikazes attacking, typhoons, danger from all sides—most of which he never talked about.  It was a war in which the combatants were not rotated back home or back anywhere for R & R (except for pilots).  He didn’t know when or if he would ever see home again.

There were strange little aberrations on the ship due of course to the inability to be resupplied.  Each sailor was allotted 4 pieces of toilet tissue a day; for some reason those who had duty during the night hours were not allowed to hang their bunk down during the day; they just had to find a hiding place to go to sleep.  Seems impossible in view of the accommodations on board ship these days.

The USS Oklahoma City was the first ship into Tokyo Bay after the surrender and its crew acted as a police force armed with billy clubs, until the soldiers could arrive.  He along with shipmates visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki within 40 days of the destruction with the atom bombs.  No one knew the effects of radiation at that time.  According to his service record, he was stationed in both cities at least for a short time.

He returned to the United States aboard a ship loaded with returning servicemen—so many that the crew received three meals a day, but passengers only two, and every day they were served beef stew.  It seems redundant to say that he never (capitalized and underlined) touched beef stew again in his life time.  Along with everyone else they cheered loudly and some wept openly as they passed under the Golden Gate Bridge.

As far as he was concerned, he had performed his patriotic duty, was proud to have served his country and his country owed him nothing.

Like most of his generation, he settled down, married, raised a family, and after a number of unhappy years sought a divorce.

He married his best friend and she had different thoughts on the matter of his cancer.  After he passed away in 2007 she did some research on his exposure to radiation all those many years ago.  The VA benefits had included a radiation register in one of their brochures.  Everyone had heard of Agent Orange and some of the chemicals from the Gulf War, but his wife could find no one who knew about the radiation.   With a somewhat guilty conscience because of his strong stand on “he had just performed his duty” she applied for benefits. 

He had many medical problems but died of lung cancer that seemed to appear from nowhere.  The VA determined that radiation had definitely contributed to his cancer and therefore he is considered to be a casualty of World War II.  He is a hero, a patriot, and he died for his country.

I am proud and happy to have been his wife for over 30 years and to know the legacy he has left for his children and grandchildren.

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It’s Christmas

As I was trolling through my Christmas memories, I realized how times have changed for me.  As a child, Christmas dinner was turkey with all the trimmings (just like Thanksgiving.  Presents I received through the years:  a kitten, a bicycle, toys and as a teenager, clothes.  We never went anywhere else but stayed at home and enjoyed the holiday with family.

After I married, the traditions were pretty much the same.  Hang the stockings by the fireplace.  My first Christmas after a divorce I decided not to trim a tree or do anything special because the kids would be with their father.  Big mistake — one I never made again.  My only decoration was a silver bowl filled with tree ornaments, pine cones and evergreens.  This bowl was kind of spooky because when I returned from work every day, at least one or more ornaments were on the floor.  (No, we had no pets.)  Puzzled, I couldn’t find the answer.  About a week later, the answer was clear as the crystal angel on the shelf.  The pine cones were drying out and expanding pushing the ornaments out of the bowl.  What a relief, the house was not haunted.

During my last marriage my honey was into Christmas as much as I.  He hung outdoor lights and draped the lights on the tree.  My middle son (Roy) was also a Christmas person and he liked to hang the ornaments, so I left this job for him whenever he came home from college.  We threw a Christmas Open House party for a few friends and neighbors, starting at 11:00 a.m. and ending whenever.  We tried to do a Christmas dinner after the party and gave up that idea switching Christmas dinner to Christmas Eve along with the exchange of presents.  By this time the main course was a standing rib roast.

On one Christmas day, we left to pick up my son and told our guests to be comfortable and have a good time.  Imagine our surprise when we returned and found everyone still there and still eating.  We served bacon, sausage, ham, scrambled eggs, pancakes, creamed chicken on biscuits, sweet rolls, vats of coffee and bowls of eggnog.  It was fun, but change was in the wind and we started driving to Michigan to have Christmas with our daughter and grandchildren.

After a financial disaster in our lives, we didn’t have the wherewithal to buy presents.  Through the years, we had given the grown kids all kinds of puzzles, including Rubik’s cube.  I wrapped each one and then we put them all ( there were about 20 of them) in a garbage bag, tied a huge red bow on the bag and labelled it “Family Grab Bag.”  The kids still remember that Christmas and it proved to me that we didn’t have to spend the traditional arm and a leg to make them happy at the holidays.

Many years have passed since my “Christmasy” son died, but I remember the good times.  Then the love of my life died nine days before Christmas.  I had already decorated the house and put up the tree.  I was not feeling real celebratory, but I had promised my husband I would be okay.  I spent Christmas Day that first year at my youngest son’s (Charlie) home with my daughter-in-law’s (Gail) family.    The menu changed again–now we had lasagna, shrimp, ham, potato salad, antipasto, still lots of coffee, and wine.   A few months after that Christmas I moved in (being the wicked mother-in-law).   The family has changed some as Gail’s father passed away a few months before my Harvey and her mother is no longer able to be here.  Her sister is probably working and if not, at her daughter’s house with her grandchildren.

I spend a couple of days being sad about the losses in my life and then realize the great gifts I have in my family and friends.    We have had sad Christmases, unemployment Christmases (half the family were without jobs), financially difficult Christmases–but we have had joy and love and wonderful memories to fill our lives.

I still love the Christmas holidays.

Merry Christmas to you all.

 

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A Different Slant on Remembeering

As an octogenarian, I grew up in a Patriotic America, supporting our troops through World War II.  Joyous when one came home and immeasurably saddened when one was taken away  from us.  This huge worldwide war took many lives and separated many families for years.  The survivors, for the most part did not want to discuss what they had done or what they had seen

The tragedy of that war was followed by a Police Action (euphemism for war) in Korea when we continued to send the promise of our future off to war one more time.  And then Vietnam, and still continuing to the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

During Veteran’s Day weekend just past, there were very few programs and/or movies that honored our veterans being shown on television.  The news covered the placing of the traditional wreath at the base of the unknown soldier.

On the other hand, just days later, we arrive at the fifty year anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States.  A despicable act on the highest officer our country.  Worthy of remembering.  Most of our young people do not remember him or how we as a nation mourned him.

It did not matter whether we were Republican or Democrat; his assassination was not to be tolerated.  TV has been running commentary all during this week of November 17, 2013 noting the 50th anniversary of his death.

The man may have been the best president we could have had, but with his death he had only served for a little under two years and, therefore, did not have time to implement any important programs.   His greatest achievement was inspiring our country to explore outer space which he never lived to see and the establishment of the Peace Corps.  He is remembered more for inspiring words than particular acts.

This is a personal feeling for me.  What is more important?  Honoring the Hundreds of  thousands who have served our country to protect our freedoms?  Or the anniversary of a man cut down in his prime and is now just a fable to many like Abraham Lincoln?

It is my opinion we should do more honoring and remembering of those who have fallen in battle and of those who still serve to keep us free as well as those who have returned to us and rejoined the civilian population.

Thank you to each and every one of you who served to protect me and my country.

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A Few Gray Hairs

On this remembrance day for all who have served our country so honorably, I remember. I remember the draft notices, the starred flags in home windows, the gold stars when a loved one was lost to us forever. I remember a city coming to an absolute standstill on what was then called Armstice Day, at 11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month as a tribute to our military. The twenty one gun salute heard in the distance made my heart beat faster. I shall never forget.

I am old enough now to have survived much–financial disasters, internal strife, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and — well you get the picture. My pride in my country is great. And every time there is a call to arms for ourselves or for those who cannot protect themselves, our military rises to the occasion. The puzzle is why do so many peoples of the world hate us and want to destroy us.

My family has contributed many to the military starting back in the Revolutionary War. But of those I know personally: My mother enlisted in the Navy in World War I as a yoeman (one of 11,000 non-nursing military women). My father was in the Army. My brother served in WWII. My heart gave a big bump of relief when none of my children had to serve because that’s just the way mothers are. Two grandsons enlisted in the Marines. A nephew served in the Air Force and was stationed for a long period of time overseas. And, of course my wonderful husband, who is considered to be a casualty of WWII because of radiation poisoning while serving in Hiroshima and Nakasaki, even though he lived to be 82 years old.

Gratitude for their service and for all the others is too tame a word. Pride in their accomplishments can never describe the feeling. So I spend time remembering that because of them I can sit here at my computer and honor their service and their lives.

Perhaps, a simple thank you says it all.

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A Few Gray Hairs

On this remembrance day for all who have served our country so honorably, I remember. I remember the draft notices, the starred flags in home windows, the gold stars when a loved one was lost to us forever. I remember a city coming to an absolute standstill on what was then called Armstice Day, at 11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month as a tribute to our military. The twenty one gun salute heard in the distance made my heart beat faster. I shall never forget.

I am old enough now to have survived much–financial disasters, internal strife, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and — well you get the picture. My pride in my country is great. And every time there is a call to arms for ourselves or for those who cannot protect themselves, our military rises to the occasion. The puzzle is why do so many peoples of the world hate us and want to destroy us.

My family has contributed many to the military starting back in the Revolutionary War. But of those I know personally: My mother enlisted in the Navy in World War I as a yoeman (one of 11,000 non-nursing military women). My father was in the Army. My brother served in WWII. My heart gave a big bump of relief when none of my children had to serve because that’s just the way mothers are. Two grandsons enlisted in the Marines. A nephew served in the Air Force and was stationed for a long period of time overseas.

Gratitude for their service and for all the others is too tame a word. Pride in their accomplishments can never describe the feeling. So I spend time remembering that because of them I can sit here at my computer and honor their service and their lives.

Perhaps, a simple thank you says it all.

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AM I ARGUING SEMANTICS HERE?

WRITERS BLOCK – As I understand the term, defines a desire to write but the words won’t materialize.

MENTAL BLOCK – My definition:  When I know I should be writing and the words are there in my brain, but I just don’t want to do it.  I suppose this may be caused by family stresses, financial problems, obstinacy or procrastination.

In the past family stresses have pushed me to write so I could forget about what was going on.  Same for financial problems.  Obstinacy is my reaction to someone telling me what I should be doing and I am just going to show that person I don’t have to.  And then we come to the big, bad procrastination.

Now I can tell you that I am under continuing stress, there’s not enoughh month left over at the end of the money or no one is going to dictate to me when I should or should not write.  But in truth my problem is “procrastination.”  If I put it off a little longer, I say to myself, I’ll write it bettr than if I do it now.  Or nobody really cares whether I write that right now or not.  Ever felt this way? 

So am I arguing semantics and calling “writer’s block” by another name in order not to be like everyone else–those poor writer who keep complaining about writer’s block?

Probably!  What do you think?

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August 15, 2013 · 9:04 am