As most of my friends know I am really a beatnik poet in disguise as a graphic designer, husband, father of four and grandpa to some wonderful grandkids.
Well, the beatnik poet thing might be kind of a stretch, but the rest is pretty self-evident.
Also, my love of poetry is, not withstanding, something that I have enjoyed ever since reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Sometime During Eternity” in the late 1960’s. From the book “Coney Island of the Mind”, the poem is a beat rendition about Jesus showing up in Galilee and claiming that…”the cat who really laid it on us is his dad.”
As a teen during that rebellious “Beatlesque” era, the poem spoke volumes to me as I searched for meaning and purpose in life. I remember even being asked to teach a teen Sunday school class where I read this poem and played John Lennon’s “Imagine” with the pronounced intent of giving these middle class kids stuff to think about on their road to confirmation class. When I explained to my Mennonite Brethren grandfather what I was doing in Sunday school he proclaimed that I had brought the “Anti-Christ” into the church and as I recall, didn’t have much to do with me after that.
So much for my road to poetic and intellectual maturity—suffice it to say, there were a few mis-steps along the way, whether I realized it at the time or not.
As I have grown older, my love of poetry has broadened and I have amassed quite a collection of verse and ironically one of my favorite books of poetry is, hold on to your seats, Ecclesiastes in the very same book that my late grandfather thought I was defiling. We have all come a long way since the sixties, haven’t we.
In the very first chapter of that book, the author (Solomon) states that:
7 All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.
9 That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
I guess what led me to this place of remembrance today, in short, is the fact that 2014 is coming to a close, I am 65 years old and thinking those deep thoughts that come with age and the fact that life will not always be what it looks like today.
That I have more questions than answers at this point in my life is, no doubt, something I share with many people of many nationalities. I am saddened by the fact that as a society we have so much knowledge yet we have failed to sufficiently address and/or solve many of our most pressing problems.
As I listened to NPR’s “All Things Considered” on my way to work this morning, I was reminded about the fact that…”there is nothing new under the sun.” What this meant to me it that we are surrounded by all the information we need to make the right decisions as it relates to our societal ills and our way forward as a society.
Life on earth is certainly a dichotomy of sorts. We live in a world of continuous contradictions. While I enjoy a warm house, three meals a day and a more-or-less quite life, there are many that go to bed hungry, live in poverty and/or a war zone and have little or no future after high school.
I have never been to Ferguson or visited an Indian reservation or been homeless, in prison or Jewish, black or Muslim, if you get my gist.
Glen Hansard, an Irish singer and poet says in his song “Falling Slowly” that:
I don’t know you, but I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me and always fool me
And I can’t react
And games that never amount
To more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out
Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ve made it now
Yes, we still have time to make the right choices, even though at present it seems like our boat is sinking and we are lost upon the sea of life.
I could say a lot more and probably will another day, but my hope is that you can, as an astute reader, see the words that are not written between the lines and be challenged to take this post into those areas of poetic vision that will make a whole out of this fragment of thought.
This is indeed the long ride.