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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Regrets

I am now sixty years of age and fast on the downhill slide to sixty-one.  Looking back on my life I have regrets.  I have regrets for things I have done and for things I did not have the courage to do.  Some things I regret are known to others and some are things I'll take with me to my grave untold.  I think anyone beyond their teen years who is honest would admit to having regrets.  And, the older we become the more regrets we have since we will have many more opportunities to make mistakes.

I have an old friend who is my age and tells me she has no regrets because she will not "allow" herself to have them.  I'm to polite to say "bullshit" but I do think it.  She is big time into books filled with psycho-babble and selecting how she feels rather than just facing herself in the mirror and giving herself an honest assessment of her actions or lack thereof.

I am not going to list my regrets here for the entire world to see as that is not the purpose of this article.  I am merely admitting I have them and they are for many things I have done and many things I did not do.  Not all of them are G-rated.  Not even PG or M.

I read two quotes by someone whom I don't recall the name but who had a great impact on me after the colossal eff-up that was my childhood.  Both of these are paraphrased but I think I can capture the gist of the meaning.  The first one is, "When you are old have all your regrets for things you have done and not for the things you did  not have the courage to do."   The second was, "The most futile regrets are those of temptations resisted."   I think I have done a pretty fair job on both of those AFTER a certain period of my life.

I do think the regrets I have are heavily biased toward things I have done with things I did not do  relegated to my earlier years with a couple of notable exceptions.  And, as far as temptations go, I do  not think I really ever turned my back on one.  Of course, some of those, lead to later regrets.

I can clearly recall thinking (when I was younger and the time was well off in an unreal future) , "When I am old and unable to do anything I want to look back on my life and regret only things I have done and not things I never had the courage to do."  Perhaps I took that to an extreme from time to time but...

I suppose, were I to have any one thing to pass on to my children, their children and those on down the line long after I am gone and forgotten is, "Go For IT!!!"   You can settle for other people's opinions, other people's standards, other people's limitations and goals.  Or, you can take a look in the mirror and see just who you ARE and see just what you WANT and what you NEED and go for it.  Never let someone ELSE live your life for you.  Never let someone ELSE place limitations on your dreams and your goals.  You may do it wrong but, at least, you will have done it chasing your own dreams and not those of someone else.  No matter who they may be and no matter how much you might respect or even love them.  It is YOUR life.  Live it.

There are just too many negative and self-righteous people in this world who are all too willing to tell you where you are wrong, where you should limit yourself, what you CAN'T do.  Eff them.  (Figuratively, of course, since most of them are so hideous you wonder how they have children.) and go for your OWN goals.  Strive for your OWN happiness.  When you try and fail it is not the end of the world.  When you fail to try it can be.  Take my word for it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why is God a 'HE"?

I wonder how many people have considered the subtle, sociological conditioning we've all gone through by always referring to "god" as "he"?  Have you really thought about it?

It is my belief referring to "god" as "he" is a reflection of our male dominated social structures from the beginning of  time.

Throughout history, with a few exceptions. our civilizations have been completely male dominated.  Men rule and women are subservient.  I remember my mother, as independent as she was, always the only reason a female could lead a prayer or conduct a service was if there was no qualified man present.

Religion is not the only part of society which demands the supremacy of the male over the female.  Men rule, women do as they are told.  As the Appalachian stereotype says, "Keep them barefoot and pregnant".  I grew up in an area that still believed in ways like that.  Men were the head of the house and women did what the man said or suffered the consequences.

When and where I grew up a man beating his wife was mildly frowned upon but considered his "right".  It has been like that throughout history.  Every ethnic and religious group moans about the times they were enslaved, disenfranchised, and forced to submit to a humiliating existence.  OK, that happened.  But, what about women as a group?  They have been enslaved and disenfranchised throughout recorded history and, I'd wager the whole time before.

This is my own theory and outlook on gender relationships through the ages.   It derives from a great deal of reading of histories and common sense thoughts as to why things were and are as they are.  I profess no high degrees or published works of learning.  I'm just putting things in my own perspective as a reasonably intelligent human being who has escaped the tyranny of the belief women are, somehow, inferior.

I believe the subjugation of the female gender started in very early prehistory.Women, as child bearers, were the key to the survival and, therefore, the continuation of the family and/or clan.  So, women should be protected.  Especially, pregnant females.

This is understandable and logical and should not bother anyone.  It is just an evolutionary imperative.  We are driven to pass on our genes and protect the carriers of those genes.  So, women did not hunt, did not go to war, just waited in the place where the family/clan was camped and did not endanger the progeny of the males of the tribe.

Next the evolutionary imperative of passing on one's own genes led to the sequestering of women.  The only way a male could guarantee it was HIS genes being passed down was to isolate the females to the point where there was no possibility of any child born could be no other than the husband/owner of the female.

This was a step on the transition of protecting the mothers of your children to enslaving the mothers of your children.  Until quite recently, historically speaking, women were considered property of their fathers until they were married then were the property of their husband.  Unfortunately, this view continues into our own times.

That, in my opinion, is the origin of the idea of marriage.  It is a formal transition of ownership of the woman from father to husband.  Then the woman would be isolated with other women to ensure the only sperm to find an egg was that of the husband (owner) of that woman.  Women were placed under societal,religious, and real demands to have no life except that allowed by the husband.

This also, in my opinion, is the basis in the long held views on adultery.  An adulteress woman was subject to death at her husband's whim but an adulteress husband was just an expected norm.  Women were killed for daring to have sex with someone other than their owner while men were lionized for the number of women they bedded.  How much more clearly do you need slavery defined?

Today, we have evolved societally to the point where we try to ensure gender equality, yet, those old ideas and mores' continue and women are still considered inferior to men.  In some parts of the world women are still pretty much slaves to men of their own families or their husband and his family.

Women, doing the same job, are still paid less than men in general.  Women are still beaten while the man is only mildly chastised. Women are still murdered by husbands and boyfriends who look at them as their own property with no rights of their own.  After all, "all MEN were created equal".  All women were created to be subjugated  by men for their pleasure and the bearing of what was guaranteed to be their own children.

Of course female children were never of much value.  A man wanted sons.  Women were interchangeable and unimportant.  Even the much revered christian bible displays this attitude.  After "god" destroyed the whole life of Job on a bet with satan he gave Job a new wife and children and everything was hunky-dory.  Kind of shows you who and what was important doesn't it?

So, you see, "god" has to be a "he" even though even the bible explains there are no men and no women in spiritual realm.  It would be disrespectful to call "god"  and "it" wouldn't it?  And, even worse, to call "god" a "she".

Although, most religions view their own "god" to be the being who birthed the world we live on (and are trying to destroy).  So, if "god" gave birth to the world  (universe?) why not refer to "god" as she?

Gay Marriage

When it comes to gay marriage I have "no dog in this fight" (which in, and of itself, is a pretty disgusting cliche') other than the belief in freedom and equality.

I have heard so much rhetoric from both sides and so little willingness to see it objectively.  As I can see most, if not all, of the objections to gay marriage is based on religious beliefs.  I can understand that.  Both the proponents and opponents of gay marriage cite the bible to support their views.  I find religion to be completely immaterial in this question.

You see, there are two entirely separate components of marriage.  One is religious and one is civil.  I have no problem with religions and those who believe  in those religions refusing to recognize gay marriage or have gay marriages performed in their church.  That is part of religious freedom.  The problem I have with religion and religious people is they are trying to enforce their own religious beliefs on the civil component of marriage.  That is a violation of the separation of church and state and is the most underrated and one of the most important components of our constitution.

Religion should play no part whatsoever in the exercise of a person's civil rights. That is what the civil portion of marriage is.  It is a civil right.  It should not be impacted by anyone's religious beliefs who is not a part of the proposed marriage.

Civil marriage is no more than a legal contract between two people outlining the rights and responsibilities of each partner in a merger of two individuals into one.  Legally speaking, of course.  I see no constitutional basis to deny people of the same gender the same rights that are implicit in people of different genders.  

Civil marriage is a legal contract between two people.  Gender should  not matter.  Why should you deny two people of the same gender the right to totally screw up their lives when you allow people of different genders to do the same.  Even the most religious should be able to see the difference in the two components of marriage.

Freedom of religion demands religious organizations can believe whatever they wish and gay marriage cannot be forced on them if it violates their beliefs.  But, freedom FROM religion also demands other person's religious beliefs cannot be allowed to violate another person's civil rights.

That is the problem as I see it.  Religious people who's religion does not accept the idea of gay marriage are trying to force their own religious beliefs on everyone by denying two people the right to enter into a civil contract of marriage.  No matter what your religious beliefs say the civil side of marriage is the important one.

If you don't believe that just ask a divorce lawyer.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time's Winds (A Poem)

I don't feel like writing anything very often these days.  Poetry especially seems to come hard for me and I'm not quite the tormented soul I used to be.  Perhaps today was nostalgic or perhaps....



Time’s winds
Blow from dreams to memories
Then back to dreams again.

Billowing sails
Whisk us across an isle filled sea
As what was and what might be become one.

Beautiful beach
And rocky shoal both call to us
Serene voiced and thunder’s roar.

Siren’s Song
Always before us leads us onward
Beneath this clouded sky of longing.

Precious day
Pressed by night on either side
As we swiftly fly before those winds .

June 19, 2014
Frank Van Hoose



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Brother and the Possum

I wrote this in Word as I did  not have access to the blog at the time.  I won't vouch for the formatting but I hope the story is still there.


 My Brother and the Possum
I tell this from memory of the last time my brother related the tale to me. I cannot recall whether or not I have posted it here. So, if I have, forgive me as I’m getting older and us older people love to repeat our stories. Sometimes with alterations as our memories become more subjective.
From about early 1958 until September 7 of 1961 our family lived at a place called Spring Knob in (very) rural Southeastern Kentucky. We lived in a small log cabin which was the home of whomever was keeping watch in the forestry tower there. I have many memories of that place for sure. A lot of things happened there which were formative to my childhood.
This particular story is one I do not personally recall happening but was related to me by my elder brother. Not sure what year it was but I do remember my brother quit high school so he could complete vocational school prior to turning eighteen. He is twelve years older than I so this would have had to have been between 1957 and 1959 as those were the years for him being between sixteen and eighteen.
Spring Knob tower was on the top of a hill four and one tenth miles from Route forty. I will never forget this measurement as my Dad often quoted it in his stories. And, repetition is the key to learning, as we have all heard. There was a rutted out dirt road which lead from the blacktop out that way. They have built a lot of homes out in that direction now but then it was mostly deserted. I really can remember only one house that sat near the road and that house figures prominently into this story.
The reason I recall my brother’s age is because at the beginning of this tale is his habit of running from Route 40 to the cabin at Spring Knob after his ride from the vocational school dropped him off so he would have time to do some afternoon squirrel hunting.
It was during one of these runs this story begins. Recall that one house I said sat near the road. Best I can recall it was about half way so about two miles from the road and the same from our house. The occupant of this house was a well known moonshiner. I forget the name and that is not important to the story at any rate.
This particular man was very good at making whiskey. In fact, he bought used bourbon barrels from distilleries in central Kentucky and aged his home made liquor in them. Aging liquor in charred barrels is where the dark color and much of the smoky flavor originates.
On this particular late afternoon he hailed my brother on his way home from school and asked if he’s like some “char whiskey”. Being a member of my family (who never turned down a drink in our lives) he stopped in and sat drinking and talking with this man for some time. When he was ready to leave the man asked him if he wanted some apples and gave him a larger, brown, paper grocery bag full of them to take home with him.
What with the bag of apples and the skin full of whiskey I expect he no longer felt like running so he was walking on homeward when he saw a possum (OK, for the picky, O’possum) cross the road in front of him and climb up a nearby tree. He sat down the bag of apples and gathered rocks to throw at the possum to try and knock it out of the tree. He did not succeed (wonder why his aim was so bad?) and when it got too dark to find rocks he began throwing apples at the critter. Finally he connected and knocked the possum out of the tree. When it hit the ground, instead of running, it ‘sulled’ up. A trick of the possum to ‘play dead’ hoping to fool whatever is messing with it.
So, my brother picked up the possum by the tail and the remaining apples in the bag and headed on home. He said it was well after dark when he got home and everyone was in bed already. (One must remember we had no electricity at that cabin so dark mostly meant bedtime.) So, he sat the, much diminished, bag of apples and the possum down on the floor and went to bed on the sofa where he always slept.
He said he was awakened the next morning by our mother screaming and the possum sitting in the middle of our kitchen table.
As I recall he has not related to me what happened after this or I have just forgotten. Of the many things we could say about our childhoods in Kentucky the one thing we can never say is it was boring.


We Used to Be Like You

We know how you see  us
Grey hair or none at all
Wrinkles and age spots
Full of aches and pains
Endless repetition
Of boring stories
Told a million times
But, we used to be like you
Young and vibrant
Whole life ahead
No idea of mortality
If not exactly the same
We had similar problems
Similar dreams and goals
We rebelled against our parents
We coped with peer pressure
We faced hormones
And all they brought us
We hated school
We were bullied
We loved to sleep late
Our music mystified our elders
We dressed like  tramps
Our hair was a disgrace
We know what you think
Since we thought the same
No, we've not forgotten
What it is  like to be young
We've just lived through it
To be what you see now
But we never forget
We used to be like you.

Frank VanHoose
June 17,2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust

I don't really like Queen and I think "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the most overrated song of all time.  I do enjoy "Another One Bites the Dust/We Are the Champion".  But that is neither here nor there.

We received an email from our HR regarding the death of someone I knew.  I did not know him well but it came as somewhat of a shock as I had just been commenting at lunch with a friend about how many people I had worked with in my (coming) twenty-four years with the company.  For that reason, if for no other, it was shocking.

I can't say much about him as I did not know him well and had only worked with him for a few months several years ago.  But, at least, I knew who he was.

The fact he was some years younger than I played some role as well.  Looking back on it there are an inordinate number of folk I have worked with who have passed away (read "died") who are a few to several years younger than I.

There are many (all younger than I) who have died.  I know one cannot fathom the whys and wherefores because there is no rhyme or reason for these things.  Still, it kind of amazes me how someone like I who has tried to kill himself slowly over many years is still here while so many who loved life and embraced life-lengthening treatments are now long gone.

Possibly, just an observation on the general unfairness of the universe. (Were the universe truly fair I would not transpose so many letters.  I am so tired of typing "hte" for "the" or "ot" for "to".  Age I suppose.  A lot of word processors recognize this error and auto corrects.  I guess some day us old fart will just have to strike keys at random and the software will interpret it and   construct masterpieces of literature.

I suppose it is time for bed as I can no longer follow my own train of thought.