The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: I Remember…

Chasing that which we cannot have…

Why does it seem that we seem prone to look for what we know we can never have or that which has no chance of being ours?

This is more than a rhetorical question, but something that I have been thinking about for some time, especially the last year or so.  Which may also be part of the reason that I have been remiss in my duties as your host with this site.

This last year has been filled with major trials in my life.  Betrayals, hurts, heartbreaks and heartaches.  Some of the problems I have been dealing with are still not gone and may plague me for years to come, but the fact that I have made it through the last year without major complications stands as a testament to my being a little stronger than I thought I was.

There is a lot I wish I could undo about the last eighteen months.  So many things that I wish that I had had a little more hindsight on and practiced a little more wisdom on.  Things that, looking at them now, should have been so obvious to me at the time, however I failed to see the potential for problems because I was not looking at them from a point of logic, just of emotional gratification.

I was chasing something that was unattainable or unreachable… uncatchable, you might say.  I was chasing a part of my youth that I had let go and was trying desperately to live it out anew by surrounding myself with younger people with whom I thought I had created friendships.

I would like to think that I am not alone in these things… that somewhere out there there are others that have been as foolhardy as I was, fellow fools that let their emotional attachments to others and to a time that they missed out on, lead them down a path that would, might and could very possibly create more problems than they had realized.

I would like to say that I have learned my lessons, that I am going out of this last period of time wiser and smarter… but who knows?  Do we ever truly learn our lessons?

One might never know…

Gifts of knowledge…

When I went through my Bar Mitzvah ceremony, when I was thirteen, I was excited.  Not so much by the fact that I was going to be a “Man” in the eyes of the temple, but more because I knew that there would be gifts.

That is not to say that the ceremony meant nothing to me, on the contrary, it meant a great deal.  While I am sure that I was a constant source of challenge to Rabbi Peskind, in that I was a lazy student, I was excited that once this was completed I would be able to take a more active role in the temple.

After the ceremony, as I expected, came the gifts.  Most of these were checks, but there was also a ring to commemorate my Bar Mitzvah and there was a package.  It was heavy and solid.  My imagination was running wild about what it could be.

A Game?  Some tools?  A Model?

When I opened it, my heart sank.  It was a book, and worse yet, it was a dictionary.  I am embarrassed to say, even now, about 30 years later, that I was angry about this.  For months that book sat in a corner of my closet.  Never getting touched or looked at a second or third time.  I was treating it like the proverbial Fifth Horseman and I would have nothing to do with it.

Sometimes, I think, especially when we are young, we fail to see the importance of a gift, even when the person that gave it to you does.  So several month later, I was reading something in a paper and I came to a work that stumped me.  While I do not recall the word now, I do remember trying to break it down for it root meanings, but got nowhere.  So I asked my Mother what it meant.  Her response was:

“You have a dictionary in the closet… look it up.”

Suddenly I needed to come face to face with the 800 pound gorilla in the closet.  The big red book that I was loathing the mere existence of for so long.  As I picked up the book, the cold sweat broke out on my brow and down the center of my back.  I opened it to the page and, low and behold, there was the answer I needed.

While looking that word up, I found another that interested me, then another, and yet ANOTHER.  Suddenly, before I knew it, I was sitting in my bedroom reading a dictionary, much like one would read an Anne Rice novel (I would say a Stephanie Meyer novel for the younger readers, but I doubt there is much in her books that would require a dictionary.)

Today, on my shelf, a mere five feet from where I sit writing this piece, sits that very same dictionary.  Yes it is outdated and they are not that expensive, but there is something about that book that I just cannot bring myself to part with it.

You know how they say that you can never forget your first love?   I think that this might be the same thing.  To this day, that book means more to me than any of the other books on my shelves, short of the Torah, My Great-Great Grandmother’s Bible, and my Marine Corps Manual.

If there is a moral to this article… it would have to be to not discount the gifts of others.  Just because it was not what you wanted at the time, it does not mean it is not what you might need very soon.

Heroes Month – Carl Sagan

Let’s start the month out with a bang.  Or, as may be the case here, a BIG BANG.

Aside from seeing the occasional image of this goofy looking man with the big ears and bad hair standing next to various probes that NASA sent out during the 1970s, I did not put much to Carl Sagan.  He was just, from my young point of view, another one of the guys that made the things go up and take pictures.

Image courtesy of Fanpix.net

 

Then, on one quiet evening in September, 1980… my world was rocked.  PBS had started a new series called COSMOS, with it’s host… none other than Dr. Carl Sagan.  The first episode was Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.

It was not the fact that he was hosting it or the show by itself.  It was the WAY he spoke to me, and when you watched the show, you actually did feel like he was speaking to you, personally.  He shared not only the facts and the information, but he imparted his love for science in every show.

So… every new episode I would sit, riveted to the TV hanging on every word he uttered and absorbing every fact that he shared.  And thus my love… no, my LUST for science was born.  I could no longer look at the world and take everything for granted…  I had to know why things were the way they were.  I had to understand everything.

There were not enough books that I could read or articles to examine by Carl for me.  Every time he gave a speech, I would find a way to hear it.  Any time there was an article in a paper, I was at the library trying to find it so that I could read it.  What makes these especially a challenge, for those of you who do not recall a time before the internet, is that when I was doing this, I had to go to the library and look much of this up on cards or in magazines or on, dare I say… the dreaded microfiche.  It was not as easy as it is today to simply pull up Google and do a search.

It was, in part, because of Carl Sagan that I… and yes, it is one of the few things I am embarrassed to admit, took part in a March Against Nuclear Arms.  Somewhere there is a picture of me, carrying a sign in downtown Bakersfield, trying to abolish nuclear weapons.  I guess you could say that I was there and then, officially, a hippie.

But the most important thing I learned from him was the science.  From that one stepping point, I expanded into other areas.  Things made more sense to me and I was able to start applying the thing that I had learned as a result of Carl, to other parts of my life.

As with all good things, this too had to end, and in 1996, Carl Edward Sagan passed away.  Having followed his career for most of my life.  Been addicted to his speeches, appearances and writings and mesmerized with his personality…  it was like losing a close family member.  To be honest, I cried harder when he passed away than when my own father died.  It was that important to me.

So this is why I include Carl Sagan among my personal heroes.

ABBA – Memories of the past

I was born in 1968… so by most counts, many would not consider me to have experienced the 1970’s.  I will grant you that, yes, I was not old enough to participate in the 70’s in the manner many people did, but that does not mean that I did not get something out of them.

My earliest memories are from around 1970… the music, the way it flowed through the house. My mother and father talking, the Television and the reports from Vietnam, which I really did not understand until years later.  The clothes that people wore, especially my mother in her bell-bottomed jump-suits that she made from paisley print materials in bright yellows, reds and greens.

Most of all I remember the music.  I can recall the sounds of the Kingston Trio, Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Lawerence Welke and too many others to remember.  But there was one group that really and truely opened my eyes.

After my Mother and I moved to Bakersfield after her and my Father divorced, I went into the mode most children do, and that was to hate the parent you are stuck with.  This is more common than not and most people that have been through it, will know what I am talking about.  In addition to playing with the few friends I made, I lived in music.  I let it become a part of me.  Saturate me, if you will.  I got into the habit of memorizing the lyrics and writing in notebooks all the things I thought about the music in addition to the lyrics themselves.  Unfortunately these books were thrown away or lost through the ravages of time.

One day… and I am not sure when… I was watching TV on a Saturday when KC Casem’s television version of the Top Twenty countdown came on.  One of the first videos that he showed was from a group I had not yet heard of called ABBA… and the video was to “Knowing me Knowing you”.  I was in love.  Not so much with the group itself, but with the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, up to that point.  Agnetha Faltskog.

I was young, not even ten years old, yet here I was, completely smitten with this woman that was on the TV.  Call it my first crush, if you will, but I had it bad.

Fast forward thrity-three years and here I sit.  Still watching ABBA videos and listening to their music.  I have seen the Movie “Mamma Mia” and plan on buying the DVD, I have every CD that is available by them and they are a permanent fixture in both my ipod and zune.  Yes… in addition to loving my wife maddly, I still carry a little torch for Agnetha.  She is still a beautiful woman and I would probably, if ever given the chance to meet her, talk like someone had placed twelve marbles in my mouth in a vain attempt to talk to her.  If I ever had one wish that I would like to have granted, it would be for her and her husband to have dinner with Naty and I someday.

This is why ABBA as a group brings back so many good memories for me.  I listen to them and I remember that childish love I had way back then.  Back when I did not even know what love really was.  Before I was old enough to feel the physical attraction that puberty brings on and completely screws us males teens up with.

I listen to the music and it brings back memories of laying on the floor in the living room, listening to the Hi-Fi on Saturdays after helping clean house… the smell of pledge and floor wax still in the air as I listened to America’s Top Forty.  Writing in my notebooks the lyrics to every song that they played.

Thank you, Anna-Frid, Benji, Bjorn and especially Agnetha, for the music… and the memories.

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