The Upright Life

Yesterday I spoke to a man who is almost as old as I am (86).  He has achieved more goals than I.  He has a Ph.D., he’s had two beautiful wives, he has successful children, and his health isn’t so bad that he can’t get around.  What more can you ask of life?

Well, that’s not it, but although you’ve trained yourself to seek, don’t seek any more of the material things.  You’ve provided for two mature women, you’ve provided a name, and to a family your upright presence was important – you abandoned none of them.  Oh yes, you did divorce the second wife, a big mistake.  But we all make big mistakes.  Look at King David, big mistake with lots of nasty repercussions.  Yet he is revered today for his greatest descendant, born, we believe, on December 25, 0001 (Yes, that’s an actual date).

Remember, God’s ways are not our own, and in the end, life has a slew of surprise endings, far better than O.Henry’s.  Nobody ever evaluated the upright life.

The Mind

The mind is the product of the brain, at least so we believe. I have to cajole it to stay upbeat, for it will not automatically stay cheerful. There are several ways to do this, starting with seeking out cheerful company. There are some people who see the fun in life, and they share it for a good laugh. If you’re alone, you can seek out fun reading, like Reader’s Digest jokes. And if you like doing something such as writing, by all means do it!

And what is a good deed for another if it does not pick you up? That may not always work, because good deeds cost, if not money, at least effort, which may leave you embarrassed. Learning how to count the successful outcomes of the day is a positive approach you can cultivate.

Have you ever tried to help someone, and left your spouse or a relative on the short end as a result? Tell me about it. What a bad outcome! Fortunately, that happens very seldom. But through it all, we learn to govern our moods and to some extent, our thoughts.

The South

My wife’s from the South. When she says, “I’m going to put you on the Chattanooga Choo-Choo over the Tallahatchie Bridge,” I know she’s angry with me. I hope the Tallahatchie Bridge is stable. At least she doesn’t say to jump off the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston. That was a scary one back then.

There are some things I like about the South. People are polite, and the food is good. I remember when I discovered biscuits and gravy in a roadside eatery. I didn’t know you could make a meal out of that. And okra! That took some getting used to.

Of course it has its faults! But faults are not what make up a people. I know I never felt threatened, even in bad neighborhoods, and black and white, those people are great.

Physical Therapy

As we get older, some muscles become so underused they rebel. And that’s when we have to exercise them lest we become what they call basket cases. I can’t recall why I needed such therapy the last time (that means it was very effective), but I do recall the two guys who were the trainers. They had a successful business going, but just couldn’t get along with each other. They went out of business.

We ought to be grateful to someone who gave Western Civilization a basic course in getting along with each other. Why do you think we’ve outstripped civilizations like the Islamic? You think the English and the Irish are such good talkers? You think the Italians, the Spanish and the French are people of heart? You think the Germans and Austrians love to sing in the beer garden? You think the Poles and Lithuanians are devoted church goers? Come on, some of them may be fooled, but most got that basic course right.

The Wright brothers knew more than aerodynamics; they had friends who made the move from Dayton, Ohio, to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina easy. There were no people there who shut them out with vengeance. It was a kingdom come.

We Make Do

She worked for Mt. Sinai doctors, and she was from Morocco. She was friendly and interested in the fact that I had written about Morocco (Hope’s Triumph). Knowing that Morocco is adjacent to jihadist Algeria, I said, “I’m glad you don’t wear a jihab.”

She looked vehement. “Oh, no. I’m from the north, near Spain, and we believe what we believe!” No Quran was going to make primitives out of those strong Moroccans, I could see that. It was a statement of a proud humanity created by a benevolent God.

I would be pleased to visit Casablanca, a big Moroccan city, but also a famous one. Most of all I’d like to visit the people of northern Morocco. They have told me something, and I’d feel safe.

No Right Way?

I don’t like to pick on people’s weaknesses; we all have them. But Friedrich Nietzsche led so many people down the wrong path, I will venture onto that terrain. He said something to the effect, I have my way, you have your way. Which is right? Neither. There is no right way.

Sounds good for a universe with thousands of ways? What about the thousands of wrong ways? Is nothing superior to them? Obviously he didn’t think of that. Why do people hire tennis coaches? Because there’s a best way.

Brother, you’d better find the right way before the game’s over. There may even be several good ways, speaking of tennis, but there’s only one winner.

Kindness

Has kindness become institutionalized in the West? Do people perform acts that originated in the Christian era for reasons they know not? Today, in a supermarket, I asked a woman with a clipboard where I could find Jones Liverwurst. I had looked in the meat displays and couldn’t find it. She walked down the meat aisle and couldn’t find it either. She suggested I order it at the deli counter.

While I was at the deli counter she came up to me with another brand. I thanked her and went on my way to buy the yogurt my wife wanted. Now this woman had a clipboard, and all she had to do to satisfy her employer, Stop n’ Shop, was fill out that clipboard. But she searched me out again at the dairy counter (now this is a large store) to hand me two packets of Jones Liverwurst.

She didn’t tell me why she did it, but I have an idea that the origin of her kindness goes back 2,000 years to a hill in Israel.