Monday, January 28, 2013

ROGER

Oh yeah, Roger was a special guy.  I worked with Roger.  Worked with him, oh for about four years or so.  Roger was smart.  Well, Roger was as smart as Roger wanted to be.  He had a logical way of thinking but a lot of times, it seemed as though Roger would hide that logic when he was talking to me, or really to anyone.  It was there all right.  I know that the logic was there.  I had heard that logic slip out once in a while from Roger.  I think, looking back on it, that Roger thought that logic made things seem too serious.  I think Roger preferred to keep things light with a little bit of funny thrown in to keep things kind of smooth.

I never heard Roger argue with anyone or anything.  Now, that isn't to say he wasn't above complaining or something like that.  I heard Roger complain a lot of times to our boss about how things were being decided and how he thought that things should be done a different way.  Not necessarily a logical way, just a different way.  Roger could grab a hold of something that came down from the ivory towers and hold onto it for days, sometimes for weeks and while he was holding onto whatever it was that was bothering him he would complain.  Lot's of times he knew that his complaining was not wanted or needed and at times such as those, Roger would complain to himself.  He would complain like someone who was thinking something out to themselves but having to hear the words of the thought to process it.  That's what Roger would do.  He would talk, or rather complain, to himself out loud.  Not loud enough to really catch the ear of anyone who mattered, but just loud enough to catch my ear.  I swear it would get annoying at times when Roger would start complaining to himself.  I would much rather he complain out loud, to somebody, and get it out of his system.  When a man holds his thoughts inside to himself, they seem to stay there longer.  So it was with Roger.  This complaining to himself did nothing to ease his mind on a subject.  If anything it made him complain more.  Soon he would be complaining about his complaining, just like everyone else.  Eventually, again just like everyone else, Roger would tire of hearing himself complain and slowly his irritant would slip from his mind and his thinking.

Roger was not a big man.  He was about five feet and nine inches tall I suppose and skinny as a rail.  I bet he didn't weigh much more than a hundred and forty if that much.  His hair was kind of long but you would never really know it.  He must have gone through a tube of Brylcream a month greasing that hair down.  On the other hand, maybe he didn't use any grease on his hair.  I never really asked him about it but I suppose it could be that Roger just didn't wash his hair very often.  He seemed like a clean man though.  His clothes were always clean and I never noticed any odor drifting my was from him.  I have to give Roger the benefit of the doubt that he did wash his hair just on those facts.  He was clean otherwise, so why wouldn't he wash his hair even if it were just to go plaster grease on it once it was clean.  If he felt comfortable doing that then I suppose it is fine by me.

Roger, he was not much of a socializer.  Not even sure if that is a word, but he wasn't.  He didn't go out to lunch and seldom, if ever, ate lunch with anybody else.  He would sit off by himself slowly eating a sandwich he had made that morning and washing it down with coffee.  As he ate you could see him thinking.  He wouldn't read the newspaper.  Sometimes he would listen to a small radio he sometimes carried to get his news.  Most of the time though, while Roger was eating, he would sit still, looking out into someplace in space very intensely  I am not sure what he would be thinking from day to day, but I could tell he was mulling something over in that brain of his.  It was during lunch breaks that Roger really looked lonely while he was thinking.

I always thought Roger had to be a lonely person.  I guess that is what the definition of a loner is really.  He was not married and made no mention of anyone else in his life.  He never mentioned parents or siblings or lovers or even friends for that matter.  As far as I knew his life was on the job.  I have no idea where he played out the rest of his life when not at work.  He was someone who would appear at seven in the morning and disappear at three thirty that afternoon.  He was never late and never left early.  He was at the time clock with his card at precisely the same time twice every day.  He was consistent, I will say that for him.

But back to this business of being lonely.  He was lonely.  I think he was probably about fifteen years my senior although when you are young, older people seem to be a lot older then what they really are.  He could have only been ten years older than me.  I don't understand how somebody as smart as Roger was did not seem to have anyone anywhere in his life.  Is it possible for somebody to be that totally alone as Roger made himself out to be?  He didn't seem to have anything to spend his money on.  The car that carried him around town was old and rusty as well as noisy.  I think he had just the one car the whole time I knew him.  I suppose that car could be counted as a friend although he didn't talk about the car much either.  When Roger did talk about anything other than work, it was never about anyone he knew.  Every once in a while he would throw out a very short and fast opinion on politics but never followed through or expanded on it.  Sometimes when he would arrive at work, he would relate something that had happened on the road while he was coming to work.  Never knew what road it was, just that he was driving on a road and it was between where he made his home and where work was.

Roger did laugh.  He laughed quite a bit actually.  Most of the time he was laughing you wouldn't be able to hear it.  He would be listening to somebody else talking and then something humorous might be said and his lips would curl up into a small smile while his shoulders shook a time or two.   No noise would accompany this mind you and the laugh only last a matter of seconds, definitely not more than a minute.  Every once in a while though something would really get a hold of Rogers sense of humor and noise would escape from his lips while his shoulder's were shaking.  It was kind of a strange sound, in between a snore and a snort if you can imagine that.  Usually three of these sounds would be heard before Roger got control of himself and fell silent again.

Now, I don't want you to think that Roger never talked, because he did.  He just didn't talk very often.  He was interested in things and if he over heard you talking to someone about something that interested him, me might talk to you or ask you a question or two about the topic later.  Sometimes, if he was really interested in something, he might actually join a conversation already in progress among a group of people.  And then there were the times when he would be so interested or familiar with a subject that he might even reveal a little of himself, his private self, while talking in one of these conversations.  That was a rarity though. 

One day, Roger didn't show up at work.  It wasn't just a one day missing work kind of thing.  Roger didn't show up for work that one day, or everyday after that one day.  I am not sure where Roger had gone to or what Roger had decided to do.  I never saw him again.  There are lots of possibilities as to what happened to Roger.  I don't really know.  I didn't go around asking questions of anyone about knowing what happened to Roger.  He may have gone out and found another job.  Five years at one place, five years of getting to know  the same people everyday, may have been to much for a person like Roger.  As far as that goes, I suppose it is possible he may have left the state entirely.  Maybe he took off out west somewhere.  Loners do that a lot don't they?  I mean kind of like a nomad or something?  Just pick and go, always needing to be on the move, looking for something different?  I can see Roger being like that.  Just wake up one morning, look around the room where ever he is staying and just sigh and pack up and go.  I guess that is what I hope happened to Roger.  That is what I decided to believe.  Just packed up and went.  Gone without a trace.  Headed to Arizona or somewhere like that.

The alternative is too hard to even think about.  What if Roger died.  One night, his heart just quit.  It could happen I suppose.  Heart attacks happen all the time to people.  The thing about Roger is, well, that he was a loner.  You see?  Who would know he had died?  No family as far as we knew.  No close friends.  I am not even sure if he had a telephone.  The police would find him, eventually figure out who he was, and then, well I am not sure what they do with people who die and don't have anybody to tell.

What if he lingered before he died.  Lying on his bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking that this was it.  All lone and dying.  They say that dying is the sure thing you have to do by yourself, but you don't have to be alone while doing it, at least I don't think that it would be a very pleasant feeling on which to die.  A loner, dying alone.

Friday, January 4, 2013

FAMILY MATTERS

Families.  For all practical purposes, in one way or another, we all are a part of one.  No two families are the same and the dynamics with in each family is different.  Some families are extremely close with love between the parents and kids and between the siblings themselves being so strong it is almost impossible to believe.  Other families are torn apart at some point and while the entire family may not be isolated, at least some members of the family distance themselves from the unit that they grew up in.

Families are more than just the primary unit of parents and children.  Families, in a larger sense, include grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and all the relatives that derive from this extra entities.  Families can reach a count close to a hundred different people who might gather for reunions at a regulated time.  The larger family reunions seem to be good affairs with everyone seeming to get along and happy to reacquaint themselves with each other.  What I think though, is that a lot of these good feelings and getting along are not what the true feelings are.  There are just too many people with different personalities for everyone to get along.

Even in the basic family unit of parents and children, the different personalities are a clear set up for conflict at one time or another.  There may not be major conflicts, but there is bound to be a disruption of some sort.  Every family can relate stories of siblings not being able to get along because they just think and see things differently.  Individual minds work differently and a lot of times siblings just can't understand why one sibling's mind works so differently from the others.

I have lived my life for 56 years now and I have noticed something from observing families at different parts of life.  It seems when the basic family unit is young, it is a close family.  As the kids grow into their teens, the children tend to have conflicts with the parents putting a small wall up that is easily tore down once the children leave the home and head out on their own.  Then at some point, the siblings go into a conflict of some sort as they start their own families and drift away from their brothers and sisters while continuing to grow closer to mom and dad.  Finally as the parents begin to age and the children start to see time catch up with their parents, the siblings start to grow closer once again to regroup as a close family unit.  After the parents have passed on, the siblings bonding grows very strong as they see themselves being caught by passing time and realizing they won't be together as long as it seemed they would be twenty years previous.

There is the other side of the coin that happens much too often.  At some point an event or something occurs that completely blows the family apart beyond repair.  There is the possibility that a couple of the members of the family will stay in touch, but hardly enough to make the family whole again.

So the questions comes up, why do families matter?  Families matter because there is a need to have someone who has known you for the whole of your life to be there for you.  It is important for siblings to try to keep in touch as much as possible.  This is difficult though sometimes and as brothers and sisters grow up, their lives take them in different directions spreading them around the country and perhaps the world.  The space that separates the children as they grow older makes it more and more difficult to keep in touch with each other to the point of understanding their lives and what they are going through.  It becomes very easy for brothers and sisters to lose contact completely in this busy world as they try to run their own lives and raise their own families.

When this happens, aunts, uncles and cousins sometimes are taken into confidence to make up for the lost connections that have come about in a basic family unit.  The extended family is important for support when we find ourselves alone and separated by space, time or emotions between siblings or even their parents.  The cousins, aunts and uncles have a connection with you that few people in the world have.

I had an uncle that was in the military for awhile and became a traveler away from the family.  He filled the void by joining a family that was created to fill the void.  It was a family of friends that grew as close as if they were really related.  I met this family of friends that he had and they shared a love among each other as close as any family could.  They were special people that I still keep in contact with and feel like I share some of his love for them that he had.

Family does matter.  Family gives love.  Family gives support.  Family gives a sense of belonging.  Depending upon circumstances and the dynamic between people that belong to a family by blood, the best family could be your basic family unit, the extended family of cousins and their parents, or a manufactured family of friends that feel the same needs that you do.

We all need some sort of family because of these reasons and whatever kind of family you end up with as the best for you, is better than no family at all.  If your life and personality do not allow you to be able to have a family that you can support or that can support you, then you end up lonely and lost and always searching for something.  If you are lucky and are able to find a family, any kind of family, then you will have someone that you can be yourself with, without putting on a show or wearing a mask to hide who you really are.

Family does matter, if anything to help us keep sane as we pilot our way through life.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

JANUARY ONE - AGAIN

The calendar tells us that today is the first day of January, a day that marks the changing of another unit of time called a year.  In reality it is just another day that means as much as tomorrow will.  For some reason though, down through the ages we put a special tag on this day.  Unlike other days that we say have special meaning, this day has no historical perspective.  Christmas and Easter have religious ties to history whether we think of them as myth or fact.  Labor day has a  historical tie to the rise of the common man and memorial day is a day when we remember those who have died in historical wars to defend this country or our allies.  The fourth day of July is celebrated as the day  The United States became independent of the English Empire.  The first day of January though is just a day that marks time.  The Earth has made another trip around the Sun.  Those of us who are here have managed to survive that trip one more time.  According to the modern calender, we just completed out two thousandth and twelfth time since we started keeping track of such things.  Most humans are only around for seventy to ninety of this trips around the Sun.  Not a lot of trips for each of us in relation to how many times the Earth has made this trip.

This past year was a little different though.  Some of our brightest minds in the human race had decoded an old calender that some ancient Mayan had been working on and apparently got tired of working on.  He stopped carving the calender on December 21, 2012.  The only significance that the date holds is that it is the winter solstice.  Maybe in those days it was the winter solstice that marked the end of a year and so the artist quit carving the calendar at the end of that year.  We don't really know the story of the Mayan calendar but our over imaginative human minds decided that the ancient Mayans, who sure were more advanced than us, knew the world was going to end on that day.  Because of this we had a full year of anticipating the end of the world on that date.  Needless to say, since I am writing this over a week since the world was suppose to end, the Mayan calendar was wrong.  Actually it would be more appropriate to say that we took an old unfinished calendar and let our imaginations run wild to a false conclusion.  It wasn't the first time humans have done this and chances are it won't be the last.

The year we just finished were like almost every year that ever happened before in some ways.  Every year there is the realization that people die.  This year, as in years past, there were deaths of friends and family.  This year most of the deaths were unexpected.  There were deaths brought about because of a difference in political views.  Families lost loved ones suddenly without a hint of what was coming.  Some friends lost loved ones knowing that death would be in the near future but never expecting it when it happened.  We mourned these losses and hold these loved ones in our memory and will continue to do so until our time comes to finish our time on this lonely planet in the universe.   January one will not take a break in the death of humans.

On the other side of the death events, we had new family members and friends join the human family.  The same as death, some were rather expected while others came as a total surprise.  Family members that we took as probably never starting a family suddenly did.  Other families added to their families with new ones.  Every new child that I know entered the world was a blessing and came into the world with love surrounding them.  Unfortunately, there were also additions to the human family around the world that were just as much a surprise but not a welcome one.  children all over the world were born into families that did not want them.  A lot of children caused only hardship to families and to countries.  January one does not stop the human race from bring in new ones to fill the void of those passed.

The battle between pro-life and pro-choice continued to engage in battle all through the year with nothing really changing, except for the adoption option entering seriously into the issue once again.  Not only Chinese and Ethiopian adoptions continuing but the adoption option of American children began to gain a foothold in the fray.  However, politics upset the situation when President Putin of Russia signed a law that prohibited Americans from adopting hundreds if not thousands of Russian children looking for a home life as well as potential parents looking for children to call their own.

Wars and terrorists activities continued all through last year and will continue after today.  War and terrorism does not recognize January one as a start-stop point of any of the activities associated with them.  If anything, some of those involved in war and terrorism see January one as another marker in lasting and carrying out their plots for another year.  Again, it seems like January one is just a point in time.

We, in the United States went through the excersize of electing a President like we do every four years.  It was more of the same, lies and half truths being told from both political parties.  A president was elected and we as a country continue to move through history.  For the most part, I don't think it would make much difference on who was elected for our future.  Sure there are subtle changes, but the way the government of the United States is set up by our constitution,  things are pretty much held in check by the three branches of government.  We do not have to worry about a President going rogue here.  A few of our presidents have done some pretty stupid things, but nothing that truly effected how our country is run and what it can do to the citizens.  We'll do it again in another four years and again, not much will change in the big picture of things.

Technology does not pay attention to January one.  It will continue to out pace what we can comprehend either for good or bad.  Personally I wish it would slow down for a bit but that will not happen.  On the bad side, technology seems to isolate people ore and more as it advances.  On the good side it  helps the economy by playing on the human feelings of wanting to be on top of things, even though a lot of us do not understand the new technology.  I just want a chance to try to understand what all this new gadgetry can do and what it is for.  As far as the men and women who develop the technology, January one comes and goes and doesn't stop the creation of things that are suppose to make life easier for us.

The one absolutely good thing I can say about January one is that it brings things back to normal.  From October 31 until January 1, the world goes into a suspended state of craziness.  It starts with Halloween, carries on through Christmas and up to the marking of a new year.  People take off from their jobs and don't know what to do with the time.  Some companies close down for a whole week between Christmas and New Years.  People get dead drunk on the last day of December by the multitude to celebrate a day that means virtually nothing, except changing the calendar by one number.

For me, I welcome January two as a big day.  It is the day I start working five days a week again.  It is the day that things finally get back to normal.  I like normal.  Starting tomorrow, nothing would have changed from yesterday, not really.  We can just get back to leading a normal day to day life for another year before we have to go through all of this again.