Blog 1558 – 12.24.2019
The Curse Of The Ancient Mariner
This past Sunday afternoon I had the privilege of meeting my son Jay’s girlfriend Lauren. My wife Linda and I went out to dinner with them (I even let Jay pay – a thing the White boys have a problem with) and after supper at home we played Yahtzee together, the four of us. Four games, Linda won one, Lauren won two, Jay won one, and I let them. Well, that’s my story and I am sticking to it, Ha. I, like my father, Jake the story teller, before me, am a big talker. Dad was a Navy guy and I an Army guy. His war was WW2 and mine was Vietnam. Fortunately for us both we saw no actual combat but as any one who was ever in the military can tell you peace time or wartime, the lack of combat experience never stops a veteran from sharing “war stories.” the fact is that usually it is most often that the big talkers saw the least and those who were really “in the shit” (a euphemism for actual combat) are usually tight lipped about it, not wishing to relive those horrors nor to unload that baggage on others.
My dad talked of nothing more that his WW2 adventures on Midway Island and throughout the South Pacific. His war it seems was not with the Japanese but the officers of the Navy. I did not bend the ears of my wife, Jay, and Lauren with Army tales but I did share my take at length on life, love, and the importance of putting some money aside, not just for a rainy day but to have a cash stash to keep the “loan sharks” (i.e. the banks, the credit card companies, and the finance companies) away. I did try to steer clear of the big three “No, no(s)” of conservation topics – sex, politics, and religion. Well, I dabbled a little there, too, not one to worry too much about fearing to tread where angels dare not tread.
In high school and also in college I studied Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Classic, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. I’m sure if my Navy Dad had known it he would have identified too with the main character as many of us do having learned one or a few lessons, the hard way, and feeling cursed and compelled to share them with everyone over and over hoping desperately to spare others that or those particular heartaches. Alas, few even pretend to listen, and even fewer of those actually take to heart our dire warnings and are thereby spared that peril or those perils.
There was a song I heard in church as a boy that said, “If I can help somebody along life’s way, then my living shall not be in vain.” Whether we get to help anyone else or not our living is never in vain for we help ourselves by allowing our true nature to reveal itself. That, my friends, is truly why we are here, not to build, help, or improve as many think, but to discover over and over Who and Whose we are.
I heard myself more that once during our several hours together, like my daddy,
monopolizing the conversation, but then there were times I purposely withheld, yielded the right of way allowing others the floor. That was never an easy feat for my dad or one to my knowledge that he ever mastered his last go round. To date with over fifteen hundred daily blogs ranging a wide field of subjects I too am still practicing not only the art of story telling and lesson sharing but of listening and learning – yielding the right of way.
I remember trying to tell Jay as a boy that even a homeless person, who might seem down and out, nevertheless knows something we do not and longs to share that lesson with anyone who will take a moment to listen. Learn we always can if we but will, from things, people, and situations we never dreamed held such treasures for us. It is not just a sin to kill a Mockingbird, nor a cursed crime to shoot an albatross, but it is the height of infamy to talk when we should be listening and to fail to speak when others might need most what we alone have to say.
Or so says an old Pops, once a soldier, son of an ancient mariner.
Your friend and fellow traveler,