Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Regarding Us

One of my all time favorite films is Regarding Henry.  It stars Harrison Ford and Annette Benning and was produced by Sydney Pollack.  It’s the story of a high-powered, high-priced lawyer, at a high-prestige firm in New York.  He is shot and suffers traumatic brain injury.  With the help of a dedicated, wise therapist,  he comes back to a functioning state.  However, he now experiences the world from a place of innocence and innate decency.  With his new personality, he slowly bonds with his wife. His young daughter understands him completely.  In one of the most poignant scenes, she says: “Here Dad, this is how you tie your shoes.  Now you try.”

Eventually, Henry’s old ways reveal themselves to him and he rejects them.  His powerful colleagues patronize him at first, and then despise him.  I think the billionaires feel the same way about us.  We’re just so nervy to exhibit bedrock values and want to shift the power just a little bit.

Is Regarding Henry telling us that it's going to take a rewiring of our brains to turn us in a different direction?

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Stranger to the Stands

My step-father Harry was a sweet man, an older bachelor adjusting to his new life with a wife and two children.  During World War II he was a Captain doing research in the Air Force.

One of the men on his team had been the trainer for the Detroit Tigers.  Grateful for not being in combat, he said to Harry: “When this mess is over, I want you to be my guest at a game.  I’ll roll out the red carpet for you.”

When Harry found out that I was a huge Tigers fan, he made it happen.  We had great seats behind the dugout.  I got to shake hands with some of the players.  They autographed my ball.  I was busy explaining the action to Harry as he drifted off to sleep.

Many years later when I was working for the American Medical Association, I looked up Harry in their archives.  I found out about his distinguished career and that he had been one of the inventors of the fetal heart monitor.

Harry had great stats.  He is a member of my personal Hall of Fame.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Coach to Remember

Cheating Coaches.  Cheated athletes.  As March Madness is upon us, I remember feeling good about this story when I wrote it awhile back.  Here it is again.

When Dean Smith died I wrote about his outstanding life -- as a basketball coach at UNC and as a human being. He championed civil rights in the south when it was unpopular and dangerous.  He stayed in touch with his players long after they graduated.  Some of them say they consulted "Coach" before making any big life decisions because they trusted him completely.

Now comes more good news about Dean Smith.  In his will, he has left $200 to each of his students who earned a Varsity letter at UNC.  He encouraged them to enjoy a great dinner as his treat.

We can use a little of this now, right?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Arkansas Time

When I was fifteen, I spend my summer vacation on a farm in Arkansas.  It was owned by our neighbors in Detroit and I played with their boys.  I was excited when my mother said I could go.

The farm house was very comfortable.  The family that worked the farm were friendly, warm, and happy to let me become involved in picking corn from the field,  gathering tomatoes, and other easy farm activities.  I learned how to churn butter.

Then the boys’ mother arrived.  I hadn’t noticed back home how mean and terrifying she was.  She told me I was “there to work!”  There was no talking allowed while we painted the walls in the farmhouse.  No radio, no running around, no fun.

When I was stupid enough to get up on a horse and, of course, fell off, she yelled at me for my injuries and told me I was being punished by God.  God came up a lot that summer as we were forced to attend bible services regularly.

I stuck it out and never complained.  

Many years later, I went to Arkansas again.  This time it was to Hot Springs.  I loved the baths.  There was gambling.  The devil won me over.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Can't We All Just Get Along?

There are signs everywhere that things are really out of whack.

Have you heard of the Iditarod?  It's a race across Alaska using packs of dogs driven by a man or woman called a Musher.  The race takes days going through the wilderness and ends up on the streets of Nome.  I guess it's the ice and snow version of the Tour de France ending up on the Champs Elysees.

Nicholas Petit and his team of sled dogs were way ahead.  Then the dogs started fighting with each other.  So Petit yelled at them.  The dogs stopped in their tracks and wouldn't go on.  They went "on strike."  Petit said they were well fed, and there were no medical issues in play.

"It's a head thing,"  he explained.

Update:  I just saw a story that researchers are discovering that dogs can detect their human's malaise.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Bird on the Window Sill

I was reading an article about grief.  It mentioned that people who are grieving frequently imagine that their loved one is still around, perhaps as a bird, dog or cat.  This reminded me of a episode from a few years back.  After a few dates, a man I knew invited me to visit him at his house near the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina.  He seemed like an okay fellow, I loved North Carolina as a child, so I said "yes."

As soon as I walked into his house, I was afraid it was going to be a long weekend.  Old newspapers everywhere, coffee grounds on the kitchen table, dishes in the sink.  His wife had died a few months before so I was ready to cut him some slack, but it was difficult.  I quickly retreated to the space his daughter had prepared for me.  It was a refuge amid the clutter.

It wasn't too long before I noticed a beautiful red bird.  It was sitting on the sill every time I looked out of the window.  I imagined that the wife's soul was lingering.  I started talking to the wife/bird.  I found out a lot about this man who was brutally left behind by her sudden death.  Enough to relax more than I thought I would.

We had a good time that weekend.  I didn't tell him about the bird, but he owed that creature a lot.

And so did I.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Valentine

Today is Valentine's Day and I was delighted to find one red envelope in my mail box.  No return address and it was not signed except for: "guess who loves you?"  What a great way to spread the love!  I immediately started imagining this person or that one...the more the merrier.

And, although curious,  I am quite comfortable living with mystery.  So,  I am happy to live with the unsigned card.

Was it you?