“SERENDIPITY” A Life Out of My Control—Part 1

I initially intended to write a few stories about our animals and memorable experiences. I began and wrote a page about Heidi, our German Shepherd. This led to my revisiting connecting links that I feel are necessary and probably need to be told because this will make the story of Heidi at Camp Shasta entirely clear. Also, why it was serendipitous.

This beginning “corner-stone” story starts with our being lost and trying to find our way to Redding, California. But first, Lenette and I decided we needed to leave our Day Camp (Purple Sage), a beautiful estate we leased in Malibu Canyon. We decided to seek out our own land for both a resident camp and if close to LA, continue our very successful Day Camp.

We began our search in LA and continued to expand it, heading Northward in California. We started our search in 1958. We found beautiful land, but with prices that were impossible for us. The journey kept expanding until we reached the small town of Redding, California, where land, we were told, might be in our price range.

As a matter of fact, we had no idea what our “price range” was, being totally ignorant of what we were doing. But that’s why I title the tale “Serendipity” because that is what it was as you will read. So, we were blind to costs but not creating programs for youth.

We searched the country around Redding for a day and found nothing to our liking. As night fell, it was raining hard and very dark. We became lost as we tried to return to Redding for the night. I saw a man leaning against a streetlight and went to him for directions. He was standing outside a small Bar in the pouring rain—drunk, which was why he was out in the rain. Surprisingly, this turned out to be an incredible stroke of luck!

CONTINUED IN THE NEXT PAPER. SY

How I’m Aging

I am aging as we all are, but our differences are considerable. You are going to be (fill in the blank)? And I am going to be 96. Who would have thunk? My intention is that this writing will share more of what I am going through up to and including this moment. What will be tomorrow is NOT my concern.

I feel good, and each day I go for walks and try to write a paper on a subject that Lenette and I have talked about. Usually on topics and issues that occurred in the last day or two or what may occur. We remain very much connected to the events taking place in our country and the world. So much to comment on, and not a thing we can do anything about!

Also, as you have seen, I will share myself because I believe and hope that what I have to say might help you today or in the future. No one escapes aging; even a baby begins the process at conception. So, when and what I share is in your hands. Consider what is positive as a gift and what may be read as a negative, also as a gift.

I have Dry Macular Degeneration and have had it for many years. Until now, it never showed itself, but the process is slow and insidious. I can see well enough without glasses, but reading is becoming more and more difficult. With glasses, I am still able to work at the computer. That allows me to increase letter size and enlarge the stuff I must read. And, if necessary, I use a magnifying glass.

The good news is Hospice has cut me out of their program. I’m just too healthy for them at this point, but they will take me back when we need their help. While I feel good about that, I will miss my visiting nurses. They have been wonderful and have become part of our family. So, this is how I am aging. My love for Lenette is why.

Live each day, enjoy-This day is what counts the most—Only now a gift.
Sy

The Times We Live In

Covid does not back down as many viruses have. Our tools to fight disease have never been better or more sophisticated, yet this virus continues to threaten the world’s population. No person on earth is safe from contracting the virus. This is an issue for all. But the virus is just one of many problems here or coming our way.

If this is not enough, we have Russia and Ukraine, China and Taiwan, and the intentions of North Korea. Adding to that is the misery of much of Central and South America and Let’s not forget Africa or the Middle East.

The endangered environment and its bag of present and near-present issues are probably just noise to many of the world’s population. Taking care of today’s demands is already plenty to worry about. Feeding oneself and family, drinkable water, and breathable air is, or will be, a problem for all humanity. Wealth is no protection. Humans have not found a way to eat silver and gold.

Other issues of the day are not insignificant either. Mass shootings have become more commonplace, including killing people out to enjoy a parade, children in school, people of different color, religion, political views, and sex. Consequently, those who fear future events like these might suffer isolation to avoid placing themselves in harm’s way. Where can any of the people I write of feel safe just being?

We would think and hope we have the tools to identify warped minds, particularly at early ages where treatment is more easily done and success more likely.

In the fifties through the beginning of the seventies, I worked with disturbed youth and achieved changes in their behavior and sociability with most, if not all. I remember two things: I listened to them and gave them tools. Amazing what honesty and caring can do.

Sy

Guns!

As a young man, I served in the Army. This is long past, but I will never forget the experience. The only reason I write this paper about guns is that I was trained to know and fire every small arm in the military arsenal during that period.

My intro to guns began in 1945 at basic training in the infantry at Fort Hood, Texas. Here is where I shot my first rifle, a Garand. It took a clip of (I think) seven rounds. Inserting the clip required some dexterity, or you damaged a thumb, at least, that is how I remember it. I handled it well and received my expert pin. But this was just the beginning.

After a considerable training period, the company I trained with went off for the invasion of Okinawa. I was sent to advanced training in the Signal Corp., and we trained in mostly night warfare. I am seriously colorblind (which kept me out of the Navy V5), but reading maps at night with very little light was a gift I had. I could also identify camouflage from the real thing.

Our training had something to do with the possible invasion of Tokyo Harbor. I believe my life was spared because of the atomic bomb(s). We were in Hiroshima and did not feel good about the devastation, including the dead and dying we saw. Because of nuclear weapons, fighting largescale wars, “mano e mano” has become a thing of the past.

Our problem in the good old USA is a different type of mass destruction. Automatic weapons. Especially in the hands of young and troubled people. Why on Earth does any citizen have or need an automatic weapon? We have the best trained and armed military in the world, so the defense of our country is not the issue. Hunting rifles, shotguns, and pistols meet all our personal needs for food, sports, and safety, but an automatic weapon? Come on!

Sy

Where Are We Headed?

I have no idea, but I am willing to guess. The big question is, “Where are our Earth and Nations heading at the present time, and what will they face in the near future?” I, for one, believe that time is not ours to waste. At 95, I won’t and cannot.

The problem with our environment is real. I do not speculate on this “fact.” Breathable air and clean water for drinking and irrigation are problematic. Other problems we have at the present time include temperature, population, food, and food distribution. There are more, of course, but I’ll stop here and hope that science and a cooperative world will act in concert to rein in what is now becoming out of control.

We live with and have, for some time, a growing problem of Nationalism VS Liberalism. This does not compare to the global problem of a disintegrating environment. Still, it is a problem that affects the daily existence of most people who appear helpless to create the best possible way to govern and live for themselves, family, and community.

At its most fundamental: Liberalism is about each person being granted and exercising equal rights under the law. Nationalism gives these rights only to a specific population and not to all.

Earth (Our World) is like a big ship on the ocean. Regardless of its size, it is still very small when seen from above. A dot on a big ocean. This is Earth, as seen by our astronauts from their perspective in space.

It becomes more evident with every passing day that Earth’s resources are being stretched to the limit by an ever-growing population. We must never forget that we are on this boat together and need to care for all.

The World must act—Time is not ours to Let lie—Contribute to it.

Sy

Celebrate Freedom

Freedom must be for all, or it will eventually not be for any. Are we heading that way? And so, I write this paper intending freedom “to be” for all. But words lead me to sentences, which lead to one paragraph and the next, and then, if space is left, to my usual Haiku. Let’s see where this takes me.

In my last paper, I briefly touch on Liberalism and Nationalism. I thank Google for assistance in keeping my definition brief. Brief is my style, so I often seek ways to help me write my one-page papers. What I wrote when I refer to these two isms I owe to Google. All you owe me is to allow me to share my thoughts with you. Also, I very much appreciate it when you share your thoughts with me.

So, freedom for everyone is my druthers. It is my way of being as a leader and teacher. I have always valued the uniqueness of a person and the special qualities that separated each from the other. As a matter of fact, I just flashed back to the gang I was part of growing up in Chicago. How different each of them was, and I see this so clearly now as I write. I knew it then and know it now.

“Respect” is a keyword, but a word is not enough. It must be “who I am and what I do” in my relationships with all I meet and relate to. It is why I love the term “dialogue” and, in particular, “Genuine Dialogue.” Freedom and respect should guide us not only when we communicate with a certain few, but we should endeavor to show genuine respect for all of humankind.

July 4th is so special when we use it to celebrate our own and each other’s personal freedom “to be.”

Happy 4th to you—So, be your unique being—”Free” is yours to be!
Sy

Time Flies

How often do we wait to do many things? Like calling or visiting a loved one or friends? Like reading a book we’ve wanted to read? Like having dinner at the restaurant all our friends are raving about? How often do we desire to do any of the above and more?

As we grow older, we appreciate all the experiences we’ve had. Yet, we also know that with everything we’ve done, we could have and should have done more. It’s never about money or time—only about pushing the button and going for it.

We would have missed so much if we waited on doing things because we did not have the money. We never had that kind of money, not because we did not make a good living, but because we used our dough for the needs of our programs and people. We make choices and need to live by them. So, we traveled and explored the world regardless and paid our bills when they came due.

Example: We bought a pop-top VW in Germany and traveled and camped in most of Europe. When we arrived home, we decided to camp in Mexico. “Donka,” our VW, took us on a seven-and-a-half-month adventure—a camping trip through Mexico that turned into a memorable experience that proved both mystical and spiritual. What if we did not do this but waited or decided to not go? A very important part of our life would not have been lived.
As we sadly remember, we eventually sold our VW for what we bought it for. We all make mistakes, and that was a big one we did not have to do.

So, life and time continue to expire, but our memories remain. We have so many rich ones and remain grateful for each, even the questionable ones.

We live only now—Waiting may not be too wise—Here and now is all.

Sy

How I See Things

When I write, I start like I’m doing now and allow my thoughts to dictate what comes next. While I have a sense of what I want to write about, what follows is what follows. For this paper, I think (now) that it will be about our present times and what little I know about them. Regardless, I know what I feel and think, which is how I express myself. What follows is in no way designed to agree with or please anybody. It’s just me freely winging it.

I feel our society is in trouble. Things have changed, but not for the better. Technology is one major issue, but I do not believe it is entirely at fault, although I see it as a contributing factor. Clearly, the media, television in general, and other “toys” today have contributed to what I feel is a breakdown in society.

We are becoming isolated even as we continue to live together. Even though we see and talk to each other, it’s not enough. As I emphasize in almost every paper I write, talk is not necessarily dialogue because authentic dialogue creates and takes place on a level playing field.

By “a level playing field,” I mean that power must be shared or deliberately set aside for that to occur. We must be equal if we are to have Genuine Dialogue. As a child or subordinate, feeling this equality contributes to our growth and sense of belonging in and to our immediate society, whether family, school, friends, or coworkers.

But true dialogue is rare and may be disappearing. The factors I spoke of are the reason why this is so. When participating in Genuine Dialogue, things and toys must be set aside. We need to be with each other authentically. We need to look at each other and be in the same moment. Only then can we accomplish what I believe I did as a teacher, a leader, and an entrepreneur. Many told me that “I was there for them.” I sincerely hope so.
Sy