Mac and The Banger (repost)

It’s been a year  later since I posted this originally. I’m thinking about the friends who inspired it (one of them passed about this time a few years ago).


While not a first-hand personal experience, I have had friends who knew they were in the last few months of their life and had them share some of the wisdom facing death brought them. To a person the near end of days brought a kinder and a gentler nature.

My friends who were faced with a soon to come reality of dying seemed to love more deeply and express how they felt more openly. Things mattered little and people were about all they cared about. Their primary regrets I recall them sharing were not doing things they had wanted to do, working/chasing money too much and not spending more time with people they loved.

No one close to me wrote down their thoughts as death drew near, but what is just below I believe expresses what they left behind in their own way.

Give yourself permission to take a moment to really look at yourself & where you are.

Create some room for those voices in your head to speak their mind, & then try to hear them.

Be fearless with change – it might be the best thing you ever did.

Let go those things that aren’t a reflection of who you want to be & who you really are.

Be what you were meant to be in all its crazy shapes and guises – why wait?

Love who you have been, who you are now & who you are going to be – it’s all you.

Move in a direction that enhances, empowers and deepens your life.

It turns out that no one can imagine what’s really coming in our lives. We can plan, and do what we enjoy, but we can’t expect our plans to work out. Some of them might, while most probably won’t. Inventions and ideas will appear, and events will occur, that we could never foresee. That’s neither bad nor good, but it is real.

From a last post by Derek K Miller of Vancouver, Canada on May 4, 2011, shortly before his death from cancer.

Two friends now gone taught me a great deal about living by how they acted facing death. Tears well up as I think about Mac and Bill (better know as “The Banger”) and how much I love them still, even in their absence, and how grateful I am my life was blessed with their presence.

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying.
Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day.
Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now!
There are only so many tomorrows.”
Pope Paul VI


Anniversary of Our Declaration of Independence

First posted on July 4, 2011 by James Browning

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled… solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown…

Ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Here are examples of the price some of them paid:

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revolutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships resulting from the Revolutionary War.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Perhaps one of the more inspiring examples of “undaunted resolution” was at the Battle of Yorktown. Thomas Nelson, Jr. returning from Philadelphia noted that British General Cornwallis had taken over his home, but that the patriots were directing their artillery fire all over the town except for the vicinity of his beautiful home. Nelson asked why they were not firing in that direction and the soldiers replied, “Out of respect to you, Sir.” Nelson quietly urged General Washington to open fire, and stepped forward to the nearest cannon, aimed at his own house and fired. The other guns joined in, and the Nelson home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis’s Long Island home was looted and gutted, his home and properties destroyed. His wife was thrown into a damp dark prison cell without a bed. Health ruined, Mrs. Lewis soon died from the effects of the confinement. The Lewis’s son would later die in British captivity, also.

“Honest John” Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she lay dying, when British and Hessian troops invaded New Jersey just months after he signed the Declaration. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid to waste. All winter, and for more than a year, Hart lived in forests and caves, finally returning home to find his wife dead, his children vanished and his farm destroyed. A few weeks later, John Hart was dead from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

New Jersey’s Richard Stockton, after rescuing his wife and children from advancing British troops, was betrayed by a loyalist, imprisoned, beaten and nearly starved. He returned an invalid to find his home gutted, and his library and papers burned. He, too, never recovered, dying a broken man.

William Ellery of Rhode Island, who marveled that he had seen only “undaunted resolution” in the faces of his co-signers, also had his home burned.

Only days after Lewis Morris of New York signed the Declaration, British troops ravaged his 2,000-acre estate, butchered his cattle and drove his family off the land. Three of Morris’ sons fought the British.

When the British seized the York house of the wealthy Philip Livingston, he sold off everything else, and gave the money to the Revolution. He died in 1778.

Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge and Thomas Heyward Jr. went home to South Carolina. In the British invasion of the South, Heyward was wounded and all three were captured. As he rotted on a prison ship inSt. Augustine, Heyward’s plantation was raided, buildings burned, and his wife, who witnessed it all, died. Other Southern signers suffered the same general fate.

These were men who believed in a cause far beyond themselves. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing straight and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

My entire way of life and the freedom to live it I owe to those 56 men. I am deeply grateful for their courage, fortitude and sacrifice.

Read the full Declaration of Independence at:

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence.
It is force; like fire, a troublesome servant
and a fearful master. Never for a moment
should it be left to irresponsible action.
George Washington

Brave Again


My path was clouded and I was lost for so long I did not notice it. I lost the freedom to just “be” and the natural spontaneity I was born with; from feeling free in a magical world to becoming inhibited, guarded and restricted. Where before was only wonder and happiness, the shadow of fear and worry joined in.

The change of outlook happened in early childhood but exactly when and where I can’t come up with. There came a time then when I thought more about what I did not want than what I hoped for. My mind became clouded with wanting to grow up, escape and get away rather than where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do and having any sort of intentional direction. I just wanted to be a “big boy”. In adulthood it was dreadful to be adrift for so many years and not know it; to be unconsciously searching for what I already had but was oblivious to.

When you are born…

your courage is new and clean.

You are brave enough for anything:

crawling off of staircases,

saying your first words without fearing
that someone will think you are foolish,

putting strange things in your mouth.

But as you get older,

your courage attracts gunk,
and crusty things, and dirt, and fear,

and knowing how bad things can get

and what pain feels like.

By the time you’re half-grown,

your courage barely moves at all,

it’s so grunged up with living.

So every once in a while,

you have to scrub it up

and get the works going,

or else you’ll never be brave again.

From “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making”
 by Catherynne M. Valente

In trying “to find myself” I became lost in the fogged-up maze of the ‘real-world’.  And it’s no wonder. From my perception my “self” was hidden like a unnoticed parrot resting on my shoulder; one making sounds that were perceived distant, yet so close I looked right by them.

Once I began to focus nearby, I started to see what was hidden in plain sight. What I discovered was not all wonderful and pleasing, but it was real. In discovering the child I had lost, my courage began to return. I was in a sense, truly reborn. The crust, dirt and fear on my soul became thinner as I explored inward. I became brave again. To have relocated the courage of a little boy and a sense of wonder, amazement and beauty that goes with it I am deeply grateful.

You often meet your fate
on the road
you take to avoid it.
 Goldie Hawn