Someone Who Knows All About You

Funny-Friendship-Images-Background-HD-WallpaperGetting older has caused my high school sports injury to hurt more. Some regrets have deepened. Lots of others have dissipated to be nearly evaporated. Being more thoughtful of others has been taught to we well by years of pain and grief. Like a decades old car that has been decently cared for, I have lots of miles on me but am still moving swiftly down life’s highway. I am a better friend that I ever could have been before and have come to know just how priceless a loving friend is.

American poet and song writer Shel Silverstein wrote, “How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”

My oldest friend other than my brother died a few years ago. For many years he was one of a couple of people I called my “best friends”.  The age of my friendships range now from three decades to a couple of years. And I have more than ever before in my life. Why I do is simple: I have learned to be a good friend to those I love.

More of my friends are men than women, but inside the last decade there are several deep female friendships I have been blessed with. My ability to be a good friend to a woman came through a broadened view of that gender that allowed me to see them as another person and nothing else. Love addiction and sexual compulsion used to be a blinder that narrowed my view. I am so very damn glad to have grown beyond that way of perceiving.

Friends are a strange, volatile, contradictory, yet sticky phenomenon. They are made, crafted, shaped, molded, created by focused effort and intent. And yet, true friendship, once recognized, in its essence is effortless. Stick around long enough to become someone’s best friend. From “The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration” by Vera Nazarian

It allowing others to see me, true and deep, has been the top single reason I have more friends today. There is little to hide anymore and none that I intentionally hold back. I am who I am, scars and all. My dysfunctions and past mistakes are part of what has shaped me. Only with allowing them to be openly seen can anyone know me and become my true friend.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Henri J.M. Nouwen

So to all my dear friends, thank you for accepting me into your life. Along with my immediate family, you are the greatest treasures of my life. One of my hopes is to continue to become a better friend. For those who see me as I really am and love me just the same, “I am deeply grateful”.

A friend is someone who knows
all about you and still loves you.
Elbert Hubbard

Looking at the Surface


Life is actually simple. It’s principals are straight forward and uncomplicated.

Nature will always be its natural self and never a pretender or a poser. Trees are simple. Flowers are uncomplicated. Dogs and cats are predictably the way they are. Elephants look like elephants, sound like elephants, move like elephants and can be counted on to act like elephants. Weeds grow like weeds. The sun rises and sets. The moon comes and goes. It is humans that are otherwise.

Human beings are always complicated on the surface. The only apparent thing predictable is we are unpredictable. Humans are prone to be unhappy in some manner with the way they look, sound, move and act. We don’t grow uniformly and our coming and going is hard to forecast. The world is really not a complicated place outside of human kind’s effect upon it. Only through stillness in a present moment can one person truly see another in simplicity, honesty and love.

There is so much more to all of us than the obvious.

A few times in my life I have gotten a glimpse of the real self of a person. It was only for an anguished moment and only because I looked with eyes of love.

But for an anguished moment I looked with eyes of love and I saw. I cannot say what I saw, but I knew that is was something inexpressibly beautiful. I shall always believe I was looking at being as it really is, and I saw beauty naked.

I believe that is what I would see if I saw the real self of you. But I have to look with eyes of love.

That is why lovers go around starry-eyed. They have seen through what is form to what is real, and it has left them dazzled. They can only murmur, “Beautiful.”

We look at what they are looking at and wonder how they can see so much in such a plain creature. But it is our vision that is imperfect.

Love raises vision to a higher power that eye charts cannot measure.

People are like that. They, too, glow with a kind of hidden luminosity when you get past the obvious. From the book “Look With Eyes Of Love” by James Dillet Freeman

My perception of the complication and difficulty of life remains a blinding illusion unless I look beneath it, around it, over it and under it to realize most that is difficult to sort out is man-made. To take people only at the face value is lazy, unimaginative and lacking in inspiration. Instead, I remind myself to look beyond what a person shows and postures. I am grateful that beyond the obvious there is always goodness and beauty in every person I encounter if I can look deep enough to see it.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking
at the surface of the ocean itself, except that
when you finally see what goes on underwater,
you realize that you’ve been missing
the whole point of the ocean.
Staying on the surface all the time
is like going to the circus
and staring at the outside of the tent.
Dave Barry

Pleasure From Such Little Effort

old booksflat,550x550,075,fGladly I can point my finger at my high school English teacher for awakening my awareness to Victorian poetry. What began when I was fifteen has grown to become a treasured appreciation. I find solace in words as they dance off my tongue when I read evenly metered rhyming poems aloud (or mentally to myself); so much pleasure from such  little effort.

If love were what the rose is,
And I were like the leaf,
Our lives would grow together
In sad or singing weather,
Blown fields or flowerful closes,
Green pleasure or gray grief;
If love were what the rose is,
And I were like the leaf.

If I were what the words are,
And love were like the tune,
With double sound and single
Delight our lips would mingle,
With kisses glad as birds are
That get sweet rain at noon;
If I were what the words are,
And love were like the tune.

If you were life, my darling,
And I your love were death,
We’d shine and snow together
Ere March made sweet the weather
With daffodil and starling
And hours of fruitful breath;
If you were life, my darling,
And I your love were death.

If you were thrall to sorrow,
And I were page to joy,
We’d play for lives and seasons
With loving looks and treasons
And tears of night and morrow
And laughs of maid and boy;
If you were thrall to sorrow,
And I were page to joy.

If you were April’s lady,
And I were lord in May,
We’d throw with leaves for hours
And draw for days with flowers,
Till day like night were shady
And night were bright like day;
If you were April’s lady,
And I were lord in May.

If you were queen of pleasure,
And I were king of pain,
We’d hunt down love together,
Pluck out his flying-feather,
And teach his feet a measure,
And find his mouth a rein;
If you were queen of pleasure,
And I were king of pain.
A Match by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

My high school English teacher was Miss Upchurch, who I have written about before – Her personal unrequited love story combined with what she taught created a permanent place in my mind and heart. I am grateful to have known her and for the love of poetry she caused to begin in me.

A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same
once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change
the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge
of himself and the world around him.
Dylan Thomas

This Is All There Is

P1090385 copyEach person is unique; a completely original work crafted by intention, deeds, heredity, family, choices, fate and forces beyond understanding. And the path we each choose is one of a kind. There are commonalities, but no exact matches. That is as life as always been.

Another’s way of being is perceived through the unique filters my emotional, physical and spiritual experience has given me. While I may assume my perception of someone else is correct, in actuality my views are simply “my vantage point”. No one else seeing another will assess them exactly as I will.

The issue is compounded with the realization no one will ever accurately see me as I inwardly believe myself to be. Without meaning to my actions are seen as a combination of reality and fabrication; truth and untruth; as I am and as I am not.

I may forget an important date, but not its importance.
I may be with one person, wishing I was with another.
I may be one place, wishing I was somewhere else.
I may tell the truth when another is not ready for it.
I may say I don’t care about what matters greatly.
I may let go when all I want to do is hold on tight.
I may tell you one thing while meaning otherwise.
I may do wrong things with the best of intentions.
I may do something when I did not want to do it.
I may go one way yet wish I was going another.
I may see things incorrectly but still see them.
I may be proud of another but unable to say it.
I may say I don’t care, when it matters to me.
I may hurt another although it hurts me more.
I may speak angrily and not be angry at you.
I may not tell you I love you, yet always will.
I may tell a lie to keep from hurting another.
I may hear incorrectly without being wrong.
I may be afraid and not admit it to anyone.
I may do stupid things and not be stupid.
I may wonder and yet have little doubt.
I may act happy when I am really sad.
I may lose my way and not be lost…
Day appearing like night;
Black looking white,
Up appearing down,
“Yes” appearing “No”…
Such are the conflicting opposites of the human experience.
James Browning

I will not meddle when I ask a person “how are you” and they respond “fine” even though I know they are far from being okay. Instead I will cast a one or two sentence silent prayer of hope that spiritual and emotion symmetry comes to that person. No matter how rude, unkind, angry, annoyed, bad-mannered, mad, irate, offensive or vulgar I will do my best to send sincere wishes the offender finds peace and understanding.

I am far from virtuous enough to always send good wishes to a person provoking me based purely on the benefit to another. When I can see no other way I cast my positive thoughts for someone for selfish reasons knowing that whatever I put into the world comes back to me multiplied. If I am understanding, I will be understood. If I am compassionate, others will be for me and so on. I am grateful for my thoughts this morning that will, at least for a time, make my deeds a little closer match for my intentions.

Live with intention. Walk to the edge.
Listen Hard. Practice wellness.
Play with abandon. Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.
Mary Anne Radmacher

Hate Hurts the Hater

Hate is never good, but it’s understandably felt by some toward people such as child abusers, perpetrators of violent crimes, terrorists and some who are just plain evil.

Otherwise, with ordinary people there’s an adage that goes, someone most often hates you for one of three reasons.

1. They either see you as a threat.
2. They hate themselves.
3. Or they want to be you.

Thinking about hating someone is sobering. Hate is a strong word. Definitions of hate on-line are: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest; feel antipathy towards. So if I dislike someone a lot, I in fact hate them. I never thought of it that way. And yes, there are people I really don’t care for. I just never thought of strong aversion as being hate.

I cringe at the thought that I might actually hate someone and subscribe to Madeleine L’Engle’s thoughts that “Hate hurts the hater more’n the hated.”

At this point I really don’t think I hate anyone and readily admit I have at times confused hurt with hate. There are those who caused me great grief and lots of pain for who forgiveness is not 100%. There is no one I can think of who I lack the intention of forgiveness for in my heart. However with some I am uncertain if complete forgiveness is possible. Emotional scars stand in the way. I have come to the understanding that most who hurt others have been hurt themselves, often as children, and end up passing along their pain. Completely true or not, that thought helps me forgive people who have injured me emotionally. Not 100% forgiveness, but close.

Elie Wiesel wrote, “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”. I readily admit there are those who hurt me I feel completely indifferent about. I wish them no harm or difficulty, but frankly don’t care to know anything about them today. Such people are now blanks where a relationship of some sort has been erased due to the pain they caused me. It’s a healthy sort of turning a blind eye and putting those old pains up high on a shelf and forgetting about those caused them.

It’s only human to like some people more than others, to respect some more than other folks, to not be comfortable with some people and quite at home with others. I am grown up enough to no longer beat myself up about simply not caring for some people. It’s a form of healthy self-care to at least be able to recognize who’s good for me and who isn’t. I am grateful to know the difference!

The unhappiest people in this world,
are those who care the most about what other people think.
C. Joybell C.

An Old Cottage of Clay

When beginning here today my first inclination was to write a piece titled “I am not broken” in reference to myself. I find images can be inspiring, wake feelings within and focus my attention so I often find a few that are good catalysts for the day’s subject. When I searched Google Images for photos relating to not being broken, I was unprepared for what I was about to find.

Growing up I experienced having shoes too small that my parents would split the leather on top so I could still get my feet into them. Clearly I remember wearing worn out shoes with holes in the bottom. But I always I had shoes and realized how lucky I was when I saw the image of the sandals made with flattened plastic bottles and tied on with torn cloth. The photograph pulled me into a dead stare as I fully took in what I was seeing. My eyes watered up.

Down further on the Google image search page was this little under nourished boy crouched down eating bread crumbs off a concrete floor. While my childhood was difficult, I had it really good compared to him.

Then came the little girl with the dirty dress that looked as if it had never been washed. She looks far older than her years and her solemn expression says to me she has likely seen horror far beyond what I can imagine.

The poem just below titled “Poverty” was written by Jane Taylor in the early 1800’s. Now 200 years later not much has changed.

I saw an old cottage of clay,
And only of mud was the floor;
It was all falling into decay,
And the snow drifted in at the door.

Yet there a poor family dwelt,
In a hovel so dismal and rude;
And though gnawing hunger they felt,
They had not a morsel of food.

The children were crying for bread,
And to their poor mother they’d run;
‘Oh, give us some breakfast,’ they said,
Alas! their poor mother had none.

She viewed them with looks of despair,
She said (and I’m sure it was true),
‘’Tis not for myself that I care,
But, my poor little children, for you.’

O then, let the wealthy and gay
But see such a hovel as this,
That in a poor cottage of clay
They may know what true misery is.

And what I may have to bestow
I never will squander away,
While many poor people I know
Around me are wretched as they.

Although I can’t directly affect the lives of the people pictured, I can have empathy for them. By acknowledging their life condition and showing it I take a little step to see they are not completely unknown and forgotten. In spite of their hardships they are not broken and somehow, someway they go doing the best they can. I can’t imagine living a life so grueling and filled with fear. The reminder of how hard life is for so many helped me start my day with a heightened sense of gratitude for how easy and full my life is. Today I won’t complain about a single thing!

Poverty is the worst form of violence.
Mahatma Gandhi

Third Most Popular

A lot has changed in the U.S. in a hundred years and what names babies are given is no exception. In 1911, the most popular names given to females were Mary, Helen, Margaret, Dorothy and Ruth. One hundred later in 2011 little girls were most often named Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia and Ava. Elizabeth is the only first-name in the top 20 for both 1911 (7th) and 2011 (11th).

For boys born in 1911, the top five given names were John, William, James, George and Robert. Fast forward a hundred years and only one name stays in the top five; William joined by Jacob, Mason, Jayden and Noah. An honorable mention is my first name, James which was the third most popular name for baby boys in 1911. A hundred years later in 2011 it was 17th.  Here’s the full list from the source article on

If you think unusual names like Beyone, Posh and Myleene are unique only to modern times, you’d be mistaken.  Family history site analysed 36 million records in the 1911 Census and came up with the 10 most peculiar names given children in the U.K. in 1911: Love Child, Danger, Lucky, Hero, Love, Lovely, Nice, Pretty, Secret and Danger. Thank you Mom and Dad for not hanging something unusual like that on me that I would have had to explain every day of my life!

James was my father’s name, although he shortened it to “Jim” leaving me an identity independent of him. I like my name and am grateful to be ‘James’ in a long line of men who have been called that.

I have known a German Prince
with more titles than subjects,
and a Spanish nobleman
with more names than shirts.
Oliver Goldsmith

Thank You Sherry

It has been several weeks since I had visited my favorite used book store and yesterday was pleased to find the poetry section had been restocked. In among the dozen titles I picked from Kahlil Gibran to Susan Polis Schutz, was a loosely bound volume titled “2004 Senior Citizens Poetry” published by Southwestern Oklahoma State University. From the introduction I learned it was a class project for the twelve students whose signatures were within.

Thumbing through the volume last night it was the twentieth page that touched  me to the point of reading it over and over. Not knowing if I would find it, this morning I searched on-line for the piece discovered yesterday. Too obscure and unknown, nothing was found. Reading the lines again this morning I felt something this heartfelt should be put into the world for others to enjoy.


I dance in the moonlight and your ghost in my arms dreaming of what might have been.

I hope that life has been kind to you and that I am not forgotten.

I send warm breezes to kiss your lips that I cannot reach and I envy them.

Time and space has taken their toll, but the memory of you and our lost love lives in the secret places of my heart.

We cannot know what the fates have in store for us as the future has yet to be written.

I wonder, will the paths we choose bring us back to each other or further apart on divergent paths, never to meet again in this life.

I only know that my memories of you warm me like a soft blanket against winters cold grip, comforting me when I feel I can no longer stand strong against the hardness of life.

We will not waste our precious time on ‘what ifs’ but yet in fleeting moments they invade my thoughts without invitation and that is when I dance in the moonlight with your ghost in my arms.

Sherry C. Potter, Ponca City, OK

I searched Google for the author and found an article about medicine access by a “Sherry Potter” who identified herself by saying “I live in rural Oklahoma 8 miles south of Ponca City, Oklahoma. I am the mother of two children, five grandchildren and am going to be a great-grandmother in mid August”. From the references she made I assume that the article was about three years old and “Sherry” was somewhere in her mid to late 60’s.

She goes on to say “I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in March of 2005… I was given just a few years and to date have far exceeded that time frame. All the doctors who are involved in my treatments have expressed their amazement that I have survived this long. I owe it to their treatments and investment in me as a person and my strong faith in my creator, as well as the many prayers made on my behalf.”

While writing this emotions have swelled up several times and I’ve come close to tears more than once. Inside is deep sentiment for this stranger who writes so openly of herself and her feelings. I dare not dig deeper for I fear I will find “Sherry” is not longer with us. For a heart so sweet and a mind so clear, I hope she is still around for her presence surely makes the world a better place. I am grateful to know her, even if ever so slightly. From a distance she touched me.  Thank you Sherry.

There are no strangers here;
only friends you haven’t yet met.
William Butler Yeats

August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012

It was five days from my sixteenth birthday at 9:56pm CT when Neil Armstrong spoke the immortal words that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. The date was July 20, 1969 and those words were heard live by 450 million people.

Clearly that date was a while ago. My sense of things says it was a few decades but realizing it has been 43 years brings the knowing it was longer ago than my first sense realizes. “tempus fugit” or “time flees” or as is more commonly said today “time flies”. Yes, it does. And the young and vibrant American hero who first walked on the moon all those years ago died yesterday.

New reports will go over and over Neil Armstrong’s life as an astronaut but few will mention some of the odds and ends that make him more accessibly human. Not only has a country lost a hero and citizen, but a family has lost a brother, father, uncle and grandfather. Armstrong was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.

He was a “Leo” born Aug. 5, 1930 and his first airplane ride was at age six in a Ford Tri-Motor airplane. Armstrong became a licensed pilot on his 16th birthday before he received a driver’s license. He was active in Boy Scouts and achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout

His overall grade for his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering was 4.8 out of 6.0. Armstrong was pledged to a fraternity and wrote and co-directed its musical as part of the all-student revue. He was a baritone player in the Purdue All-American Marching Band.

Armstrong flew 78 combat missions in the Korean conflict and was awarded three medals for his service. After leaving NASA, he joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati as a professor of aerospace engineering for eight years.

He was married twice, first to Janet in the 50’s and after they divorced Carol became his wife in the mid 90’s. Armstrong had 3 children with his first wife including one that died around age three.

While still on the moon and being congratulated by then President Nixon, Armstrong said It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, and with interests and the curiosity and with the vision for the future.

Remembering the experience of the historical Apollo 11 flight lifting off, Neil Armstrong said that: It felt like a train on a bad railroad track, shaking in every direction. And it was loud, really loud.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, His family made this simple request. “Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” share your thoughts at Twitter tag: “#WinkAtTheMoon

I can vividly remember watching the not very clear images on a small black and white television of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Those strong impressions made on a young teenager then have faded little. Thank you Mr. Armstrong. I will not forget you.

1. Make your own choices about how you want to live your life
2. Don’t let others define you
3. Cherish the things that are most important to you
4. Ignore the criticism of others
5. Stay true to what you believe in
Neil Armstrong’s “Lessons about Life”