It was one year ago today that my wife Sandi and I traveled into lower Manhattan via subway from Newark, New Jersey, where we were staying in a very nice Best Western Hotel. We had arrived the day before on the Amtrak train from Raleigh, North Carolina—we were well rested and more than ready to hit the city streets and have a wonderful few days of vacation adventure.
It was 9/11 and seven years after the twin towers had been attacked. The mood in Manhattan was a little less hectic than normal or so it seemed as we made our way out of the Path train tunnel underneath what used to be the Trade Center. People were already gathering for some of the day’s memorial events and we hung around for a few minutes and soaked in the energy that was building before we took Church street north and began our busy day.
It is hard to believe that took place one year ago—that 365 days have gone by since that moment in time. And how would I evaluate my year—and how would you look at yours.
This morning as I was getting ready for work, I noticed that our dog Bessie was more animated than usual looking out the living room window at the driveway. I went over to the window and in the middle of the drive stood a medium sized doe, looking this way and that and acting like she didn’t know which way to go. Sort of like I feel some days.
I guess the question I am dancing around is this: what do I have to show for this past year? Have i just lived out my days in quiet desperation like Eliot’s Prufrock measured out his life with coffee spoons—I am very much into coffee but after the first cup I am on to other things.
Even things that might at first glance seem quantifiable are not that easy to assess. Am I a better father, husband, friend than I was a year ago. I would like to think so but I am not really the one to ask. Have I left behind all my bad habits—not quite but am allowing myself to be helped by that “still small voice” of the Lord to give me the strength to complete what was begun in me many, many years ago.
I still like a good cigar, even though I haven’t had one in quite some time. It’s like this: why pay six or seven dollars for something that will burn itself up in a half an hour and then be left with bad breath and a cotton tongue.
If anything I have learned this past year it would be balance and a bit more acceptance and or patience towards those things I have no control over. I have also worked on my ability to accept myself and not look to other people for my validity. I have finally realized that if we wait for acceptance from others to feel good about ourselves, we might well be waiting into the next century. And the fact is that we all have our issues, blind spots and personality quirks. If we can’t be good to ourselves we can’t give anything but our need to those around us. I want to be a giver most of all and not always a taker—a person who builds up others in order that they can reach the heights they were destined for.
Since it has taken me several days from 9/11 to finish this post I will add a bit today before I wrap this thing up.
Yesterday, I went to a birthday party for a guy who works part-time at our local health food store. His name is Ray and he is now 85 and still working part time in order to keep busy. He is like the Walmart greeter type person—he welcomes you into the store with your name and is genuinely glad to see you. Anyway, the store’s owners set up the party to honor him and after looking at him, I can firmly say there is hope for all of us. Not that he hasn’t had his health issues but as he stood there yesterday, he looked happy and healthy and is still able to drive himself to and from work, etc.
Another person at the party asked my how my life has been lately and I was almost hesitant to tell her that it has been really good. I am more aware of this the past few days and reflected on some of this while having a glass of Merlot with my wife the other evening. As parents we often judge our life’s success on how well our kids do and while this line of reasoning has it’s obvious shortcomings, it is often very solid and affirming. At this point our four kids are happy, healthy and doing well. The first three are married and two are expecting babies in February. I guess most of all, what pleases me about them is that they really seem to appreciate Sandi and I and all that we did as a family as they were growing up. The two oldest live about three hours away in Raleigh, NC and we really enjoy getting together and hanging out and doing dinner as a family. My son even bought a nice bed for their spare room so Sandi and I can enjoy our stays with them a little more.
In addition to what I have already mentioned, my relationship with my wife is as good as it ever has been and my job and friendships have been very fulfilling the past several months.
So I guess in general, this past year has been one of adventure and forward movement. I don’t have anything less to say blog-wise, but the need to let it all hang out in cyberspace is not as acute as it once was. The time lag between posts has been almost comical but this too is a seasonal thing. Fall is coming to the mountains of North Carolina and we have some hardwood on the way. We are going to try growing wheat grass and juicing it and maybe in the late winter assemble a greenhouse and start some plants for sale and our garden. It is certainly an enjoyable ride and I am looking forward to what the new day brings.