jimowenswrites

Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

Month: October, 2015

We Belonged to Each Other

If we should pass ‘long life’s broken street

And somehow these eyes should fail to ‘er meet;

 

Just walking on past, without giving a glance

And miss the time that we should’ve danced;

 

If we should pass by, and did never quite talk

Chasing vague dreams in some distracted grand walk;

 

Or if failing to lift our gaze from our distracted pace

Relentlessly straining to win in this furious race;

 

If we should’ve missed the glorious rhyme

Nor make the choice to invest proper time;

 

And should life full of such endless chatter

Deny us the gift of the things that most matter;

 

If in deafness we don’t hear our most common song

That which is true, for what all we long;

 

Let this odd verse, that comes to here to end

Rest quite assured my unknown kind friend;

 

We belonged one to each other from life’s very start

Regret not that we never shared purest heart.

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Incite the Grand Riot

Source: Incite the Grand Riot

Incite the Grand Riot

Young babe pure and true

Conformed from first day

Be not something new;

 

 

Molded and taught

Just be the same

And not what you ought;

 

 

Stray not afar

Nor ‘ere reach too high

Just be as we are;

 

 

Listen dear child

To what you now hear

And only be mild;

 

 

Well worn and clear

Stay close to this path

Be safe and so near;

 

 

A good life for all

Should be comfort enough

Pay no heed the siren’s call;

 

 

Some small bit of peace

And belly near full

All the rest now release;

 

 

Walk on the right course

And ride not upon

Some gallant wild horse;

 

 

Stroll gently all ‘long

And sing with great crowds

Their same dismal song;

 

 

Or cause fresh dismay

Incite the grand riot

As you pass on your way;

 

 

Make them all wonder

And shake their same heads

As conventions you plunder;

 

 

Never your own thirst slake

In these well-known waters

Drink from the dark lake.

 

 

When winds often blow

Of their merely enough

Your own seed then sow;

 

 

For should you little possess

‘Cept your own glorious way

‘Tis no sin to confess;

 

 

Though you be oft forsaken

Fear not the risk

But those never taken.

The Politics of Outrage: Holding a Candle of Hope

I’m exhausted. 

With more than a year until the 2016 election the rhetoric of candidates for the presidency of our country I find myself wondering what kind of society we’ve become when journalists ask meaningless questions of our candidates and candidates pander to their constituencies without clear answers to the real questions we need to ask them. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves some of the same questions they should be answering.  

It seems to me the fundamental questions we should ask include what kind of society do you envision and what policies will you implement if we place our hope and trust in you? How will you protect the liberty of all our citizens? How can you make us better realizing we are aetheists and Christian, Muslim and Jew and Buddhist, gay and heterosexual, black and white, young and old? How will you help create opportunity for our people and at what cost for our nation? How will you defend us against those who mean is harm while protecting our liberty?  

Long ago a wise friend of mine suggested we only listen and enjoy the company of what he called PLUs. People Like Us. What a tragedy to miss the experience of actually listening to people who believe differently than we believe. How much do me miss in not learning to value the perspective of another man or woman? Have we become a nation of two-year olds that spit “mine” and “no” when we don’t get our way? I fear we have. 

Our form of government requires we win the hearts and minds of those who differ from us. It calls for the protection of the minority not the oppression of a majority. It is a slow, clumsy beast and yet it likely represents the greatest accomplishment in the history of political philosophy. Yet we tear at it and one another daily.   Bashing one another is neither profitable nor governance.  

The politics of anger and outrage do not seem to have solved anything. Much of the media keeps us stirred up and sometimes misinformed. So rather than sound preachy, I’m going do better. I’m going to listen more I’m going to be generous. I’m going to hold the candle of hope that we stop getting what we ask for from the people we send to Washington. I hope you will too. 

My Brother’s Keeper: Long Ride Home

Chester squinted in the dim light of a bank’s basement trying to focus on the operator’s manual. His vision was failing and after another long day his eyes hurt and his head ached. He removed the round wire rimmed bifocals from his head and rubbed his eyes.

“Lord, help me,” he whispered. “Can’t they print these things bigger?” The unheard plea was a closest he would come to a complaint.

Replacing his glasses, he picked up a tool and gingerly inserted into the transistor board back into the IBM 803 proof machine. Then he replaced the sheet metal covering that protected its complex operating system.

“Well. Let’s see what we’ve got,” said Chester.

He connected the machine back to its power source and flipped the machine to the “On” position. He heard the power course through the machine and sat down, placing one check into the feeder. When he keyed the endorsement control the check shot through the machine and out the other side into one of the multiple slots that collected the endorsed safety paper deposit.

“Glory hallelujah.”

Mac Jenkins, the Proof Department Manager, for the Birmingham Trust National Bank smiled.

“Knew you could do it, Chester. Gotta leave this kind of thing to the professionals.”

“Thank you Mac. IBM appreciates your business. And I appreciate the coffee.”

“Long ride home tonight, right Chester? You’ll be late. Bess’ll be worried.”

It was almost 7:30 when Chester had completed his task and Mac was right. Bess always worried when he wasn’t home by 8:00 p.m. But it couldn’t be helped. Without a functioning proof machine the bank wouldn’t be able to run the daily work it received from customers and other banks. Like so many times before, Chester wouldn’t leave until things were perfect.

“Anything else you’re concerned about while I’m here, Mac?”

“No sir. Thank you again, Chester. You need to go home.”

“Well, you’re right about that,” said the man with the thinning red hair. “Any more problems and you let us know.”

“I will,” said the man in the black suit. His hand-starched white shirt had begun to wilt but the man’s attitude was a crisp as the crease in his wool slacks. “You be careful going home. Been raining all day. The roads will be a mess.”

Chester picked up his tools and walked slowly through the rain to his truck. His stomach was as empty as the street and his hands ached. He was grateful Bess always packed an extra biscuit or some other nourishment with his lunch for nights like this. And he was eager to dig into his lunch box to see what he had to nibble on during the hour-long drive home. He loaded his tools into the passenger seat of the ’52 Chevrolet Pick Up and then found an apple and piece of pound cake in remaining in black aluminum lunch box. As he cranked the truck he bit into the cake and let it melt in his mouth.

He flipped on the headlights savoring the sweet bite before depressing the clutch and easing the truck into first gear. As he found second gear Chester settled into the seat a little more and found comfort in the knowledge he would be home soon. Bess would be waiting with a plate of dinner over which he would recount his day and she hers. He wondered if she had heard from one of the boys. Benji was in Mobile, LB was in Birmingham, and Nat was in Montgomery now. On long days like today he missed them more than most times. The truck was now picking up speed rumbling down U.S. Highway 78 and the lights of Birmingham were fading behind him as was the ache in his hands. He let out a sigh and took another bite of the cake.

I Wonder What She Sees

She sits by the window watching,

Through dim eyes

Bright light adorning her smile;

I wonder what she sees.

She watches rain and clouds and

Trees bending in the wind,

Some pup roaming by;

I wonder what she sees.

Children playing long ago or

Some vision of younger days,

Maybe her soldier’s return;

I wonder what she sees.

Perhaps a winter’s snow,

Logs ablaze in the fire,

Or waves lapping in the sand;

I wonder what she sees.

People passing on a busy street

Or me

Sitting nearby;

I wonder what she sees.

She sits by the window watching.

I wonder what she sees.

I am Home

The scent of wet cut grass and

the sound of the cawing crows that circling

far above;

White hot coal burning in the fireplace, snapping

and

the smell of bacon

frying

in a timeless skillet,

black as night;

The laughter of cousins

and the gentle murmur,

parents talking their grown up talk,

eating fat slices of pecan and coconut pie,

drinking bitter black coffee

boiling hot;

The baying cattle

and the barking dogs,

The roaring rattle of trucks

racing down a battered road;

Quilts heavy upon me on a starry winter’s night;

The quiet whistle and

the strong frailty of a gentle old woman

roaming the rooms

of an ancient white-washed house;

The sound of rain

battering a tin roof

and the startling thunder,

The symphony of frogs and crickets and katydids;

Red and green lights glowing

on a Christmas Eve

and the promise

of the coming morn;

The alarming blast of

firecrackers

and the joyful terror

of children and

Parents that caution;

These things.

Long ago.

And far away

Yet.

I am home.