To Every Life, There Are Seasons

Each and every day—I think of the journey—the time span that encompasses our lives from birth to the moment we pass.  I think of each life as chapters or phases—periods of time that come and go in our lives.  One ends and the other begins.  Sometimes two melt into one—a continuance.  Experiences are either positive or negative.  Sometimes—they’re somewhere in between. 

I’ve had a good life—more good than bad.  The bad, however, has surely been life changing.  Some of it permanent—forever—never to return to what it was before the trauma.  Sometimes, it is best to take three steps backwards to move forward in a more positive way.  And sometimes, we must circle in an altitude hold until we can sort out where we are going. 

Sacrifices made in order to have a better life. 

My father always stressed cutting your losses and knowing when to quit and move on—and he was in no way a positive man.  My mother always termed him a “man’s man…”  Well, what the hell did that mean?  That he never let anything bother him?  Didn’t mean much on a personal level.  He was not the guy to go to when you were feeling beaten and needed someone to tell you all would be be okay. 

My mother was good for that.

My dad was a product of his experiences – the rough and tumble way he was raised during the Great Depression and the damage done to his psyche’ during his formative years growing up in Kansas City. He didn’t know any different but to tell you to buck up and deal with it much as he was told as a child.

We heal by taking a bad experience and gaining inner strength from it, which is easier said than done.  Pain is pain. It teaches and it remembers.  It makes recovery challenging when we’re feeling so badly.  Because we have a memory and store memories of the past, we tend to relive pain again and again.  However—to become stronger from what we’ve been through, we have to look pain in the eye and commit to beating it.

Some experiences are harder than others.  A traumatic experience is challenging to recover from.  When I go through a bad experience, I get into head work for my very survival—to remind myself it is over and that there’s nothing I can do about it.  Once you understand there’s nothing you can do about a bad experience, you empower yourself by grabbing it by the throat and shaking the life out of it.

When all else fails – have a cookie…

Lyrics: Turn, Turn, Turn!

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

Take Heart…You’re Still Here…

If you’re reading this post, you’re probably 60-plus.

I crested 60 nearly seven years ago, which means I am on the downhill side of my sixties. Isn’t 60+ something your parents were – or your grandparents? Never you – right? How can it be? Our parents and grandparents are gone – or at least most of them are gone now. If you were born of long-living kinfolk, you may still have a parent around – well into their nineties – perhaps even 100.

My mother would have been 100 next December. She passed at 84 in 2008 peacefully in her sleep.

Whenever I hear myself cough, I hear the same harmonics in my cough that I heard from my mother’s larynx thousands of times when she was alive. When my oldest son laughs – I hear my mother’s laughter. My beautiful niece, who is nearly 40, is a reflection of my mother’s beauty.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Each of us is a miracle of evolution – survival. Each of us is the result of the amazing fluid process of genetics. We are each the sum total of who our ancestors were. Look at your hands and see your grandmother’s. Blow your nose and hear the same resonance of your father’s when he blew his. Behold your receding hairline and see the ol’ man’s. Blow up in the heat of anger and recall your grandfather’s demeanor when you were in trouble.

I hear a lot of you bemoaning the passage of time. We’re not young anymore – not by any means. We were the youth movement a half century ago. We were never going to grow old. Never trust anyone over 30. Remember that? Old was something the generations before us faced – but never us. And here we are – lamenting the passage of time and old age.

Well consider this – and feel good about it. Life is best when viewed as a book of chapters, only you’re not allowed to page back. You’re only allowed to turn back the pages via pictures, home movies, tape recordings, video and your sweet memory.

As you enter life’s twilight, embrace the moment and the wisdom you’ve gained via experience and all of life’s ups and downs.

You’ve survived…

Procrastinators Unite – Maybe…

Old Adage: “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

What makes us put things off until tomorrow? Or…next week? Next year? I think of my own life when I ask this question. I have a stack of medical referrals from my HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) and I need to make appointments.

I’ll think about that tomorrow – maybe…

Psychology Today says, “Everyone puts things off sometimes, but procrastinators chronically avoid difficult tasks and may deliberately look for distractions. Procrastination tends to reflect a person’s struggles with self control. For habitual procrastinators, who represent approximately 20 percent of the population, ‘I don’t feel like it’ comes to take precedence over their goals or responsibilities and can set them on a downward spiral of negative emotions that further deter future effort.” It becomes a continuing struggle until we become disciplined enough to shake it.

What makes us put off what needs to be done? Personally, I think people tend to put off what is challenging or going to consume a lot of time. Truth is, procrastination is the absence of self control. We let circumstances control us. Instead of doing what must be done, we simply put it off because it isn’t something we really want to do.

Tax preparation is a big one for procrastination. My tax accountant knows to expect nothing from me until October – the drop-dead date for tax filing. Every year I promise her better and, every year, I lie.

It is a given.

Oh…and did I tell you I am Attention Deficit? Not an excuse – a fact. This year will be different – I hope. I try… I write down what must be done each day, then, I tackle the list. I get some of it done, but not all of it.

Housecleaning…now there’s a big one because no one wants to do it. I feel a certain sense of satisfaction when I clean house. I look around and the place looks nice. Feels good to be clean and organized – when it happens…

What to do about procrastination? I am inclined to think about that tomorrow. However, life waits for no one. If you put things off, please understand you are likely to miss out because life marches on without you. You make plans with a friend for lunch but keep canceling because you just don’t feel like lunch that day. That evening, you learn your friend succumbed to a heart attack or car accident. Or perhaps you fell upon misfortune and will never have the opportunity again. This logic can be applied to a wide variety of scenarios.

When you procrastinate you miss out.

I’ve found, though I don’t always practice this, to do things when I think about them. In short – do it now. Then, it’s done, and you don’t have to think about it anymore. Procrastination is a tough egg to crack if you’ve been doing it all your life. There are challenging elements we are born with that make procrastination hard to beat.

Take your procrastination issues one step at a time. When you’re tempted to put something off, grab the task with both hands and jump into it with both feet. In 21 days, I’ve been told, it becomes habit.

Regret Keeps Us from Moving Forward

Funny thing about the past. It tends to keep us trapped. Sometimes, our memories can be our worst enemies. It is the remembering. The regretting. Feeling guilty for what we’ve done.

Failing to instead look at what’s ahead…

I’ve led a charmed life in so many ways. Blessed… I’ve also had dark moments where I wondered who on earth I was. As we cruise into the twilight of our lives, we tend to wonder how we got where we are. We have our regrets – moments that left us different people than we were before. Regret is the hand cuffs that keep us from moving forward because excessievly looking back has never been a healthy option.

Life is a series of chapters and events. When we are so very young, we are a blank canvass – a clean sheet of paper – with our future stretched out ahead of us. As a child, I used to gaze out into the night sky through a frosty window wondering what was out there waiting for me when I reached adulthood.

I couldn’t wait to grow up.

Suddenly one day you’re out of high school wondering what to do with your life. I remember my last day of high school in my hometown of Bowie, Maryland. I took the wheel of my 1967 Mustang and pulled out onto the main road that ran past my high school. It was a sad moment for me though I hated school with a passion and was a terrible student. I don’t even know how I graduated.

That chapter was over.

I’d find my way into adulthood one step at a time. I knew I loved aviation and determined that’s what I wanted to do. I decided to join the United States Air Force and learn how to work on big jets. I saw this as a life passion. I believed I would separate from the USAF and be working for the airlines. I would learn miserably after four years getting experience the house was full. There were no airline mechanic jobs to be had.

Life had other unrelated plans for me.

What I didn’t know then was, my life was about to change from bending wrenches to writing about how to bend wrenches. I had a deep passion for automobiles. I also liked writing. By pure dumb luck, I stumbled into automotive journalism in a start-up publishing house in Florida specializing in niche publications dedicated to the coming muscle car craze. It wound up being an opportunity I will never forget.

I took my experience as a mechanic and turned it into a writing career.

I thought this classic muscle car craze was a flash in the pan and would be over in a matter of time. That twist in the road became a career lasting more than 40 years. We don’t always recognize the significant moments in our lives when they happen and what they mean to our future. I sit in my shabby little office at 66 remembering that moment in time at age 28 when life changed forever.

I have my regrets. We all do. I’ve had two failed marriages. Made my share of foolish mistakes typically when I thought only of myself. With any luck, our mistakes and foolishness are few and we find a way to learn from them.

What Are You Going to Do with Your Time Here?

Isn’t the passage of time remarkable? Fluid… Never stops… Moves forward – never backward. At the cusp of a New Year – 2023 – do you ever think back to “Y2K” and all the concern over the new millennium? Computers would crap out. The lights would go out? At the stroke of Midnight in 2000, nothing happened.

Darnedest thing isn’t it?

I am a nonstop thinker. I lie in bed at night and think about our journey here – fleeting though it may be. We’re dancing on this apple just so long – then, we pass. Where we go I do not know. Where we come from….I don’t have an answer for that either.

We all have our religious beliefs. I have mine. I believe in God – our creator. Beyond belief in a divine creator, I don’t know. Who put us here? Beats me buddy… I will respect anyone’s religious beliefs. Anyone’s… I will never tell anyone what to believe nor would I ever force my beliefs on anyone. It’s personal… When it comes to our purpose here – I keep an open mind. If someone tried to explain why we are here – we wouldn’t possess the knowledge to understand.

We’re not that smart.

With each of my blessings – and I have many – I say…”Thank You, Father….” “Thank You for what I’ve been handed in life…”

And thank God for the people I have known and befriended.

I know my value as a human being. I know my worth. No one in this world is going to make me feel bad about myself. I have a conscience and a strong sense of right and wrong to do that for me. That said – look to your own conscience for guidance.

When I do wrong – and I have from time to time – I understand that what I’ve done wrong IS wrong. Sometimes – we get caught up in what we want that we forget to think of someone else. As long as that isn’t a matter of practice on a regular basis – you get to learn from it and hopefully never do it again.

I want to thank each of you for being an integral part of my Life experience – for sharing your thoughts both good and bad – for touching my Life in your own unique way.

And – thank God for the love of my family and for sticking by me when I have been impossible to live with.

We’re not always going to agree on the issues – and there are a lot of issues to discuss. It is the art of disagreement and being okay with that that is our challenge. We’ve forgotten how to disagree and respect another’s opinion with dignity.

We’ve become mean…mean in our minds and hearts.

It is time to pause and reflect on why we are here. We are here to serve one another – to give and graciously accept. It is a learning curve we hopefully gain over a lifetime. Our time here is short. Short when you consider Mother Earth is 6 billion years old and been through a lot long before we arrived.

I wish each of you inner peace and a good life as the year unfolds. And when things get rough remember – you are always being tested. Fight the good fight and don’t waste energy on the things that have little meaning and no one will remember a century from now.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Take a good look at this “Earth Rise” image taken nearly six decades ago. That is us in 1968. Think of the lives that have come and gone since. Remarkable isn’t it?

Peace…

I’m Getting Neurotic Over You

I like the Big Band era song “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You…” trumpeted by the late Tommy Dorsey of Dorsey Brothers fame. Herb Alpert gave it new life in the 1960s on Side 1 the TJB’s “Going Places” album. I’d like to write an updated version of this timeless tune titled, “I’m Getting Neurotic Over You…”

Yes…really…

Baby Boomers like to obsess. It is who we are. We obsess about everything from politics to personal relationships. We are a neurotic bunch. Have you ever had a serious obsession over someone or a situation? Unfinished business?  You’ve had a falling out and haven’t been able to make peace

It is eating you alive. 

Could be a lost love and you just can’t stop thinking about them. Perhaps there was this especially difficult boss and the two of you could not agree on anything. Suddenly, you find yourself in the street – especially if their name was on the building and there was no spirit of compromise.

Maybe it was a problem neighbor with a noisy dog (that also crapped on your lawn), loud music, or the idiot who just kept revving their engine day and night.  Makes your blood boil just thinking about it even though the creep moved away.

So, what about that?

I am one of these neurotic boomers who perceives I have to make everything right even when I know things will never be.  I revisit bad experiences again and again for years in hopes of finding inner peace.

Sometimes – you just have to find your own peace.

You’ve probably heard this before but – no use obsessing over a situation you can do nothing about, especially if it happened ages ago. This takes a whole lot of practice and muscle memory.

You have to start somewhere.

Best place to start is at the beginning within yourself. I’ve learned in cognitive therapy change begins within. It is the only way to even begin improving your own dynamic. Keep in mind the failure of a relationship wasn’t always your fault.

Difficult people are difficult people – even if the difficult person is us.

Self-exploration takes a lot of work and the courage to face your own shortcomings. If you continue to encounter the same issues again and again with different people, cognitive therapy can be a good step toward self-improvement. Cognitive therapy involves looking at ourselves and how we respond to situations. Others also have to be willing to make changes for a relationship to work.

There has to be two participants for there to be positive change.

If you are faced with an impossible situation that doesn’t have a prayer and the two (or more) of you aren’t willing to put in the work – move on. Sometimes, all that work isn’t worth the energy when you are so far apart.

The courage to move on? That takes work too. This is where you have to put yourself and your own wellbeing ahead of all else because if you are not happy inside, you will never be any good for anyone.

Reflections Of…

Isn’t it remarkable how we reflect upon the old days like they were better than the here and now?  Do you remember growing up in the mid-20th Century? 

I do… I think most of us do.

It wasn’t always that great.    

We romantically look back to a simpler time when life was less complicated.  However, we forget we were kids and our parents had to shoulder the worries and complexities of the times — paying bills, housekeeping; making sure we were bathed, clothed, and fed; and then going off to work each day. 

Our mothers never got enough credit for the time and energy that went into housekeeping, doing the laundry, planning meals, picking us up from school, and making sure the ol’ man got enough attention.

You could tell when the ol’ man wasn’t getting enough attention. 

What is it about the past that it looks so good to us today? Because we tend to forget what made the past difficult and challenging at the time. When we were very young, the times weren’t the good old days then. We wanted to be grown and couldn’t wait to get there. We couldn’t wait to get out from under the parents, school, and those miserable schoolyard bullies.

What made the 1960s the “good old days” was how most people chose to treat one another.  Common decency was more the norm—holding the door for the person behind you, rendering a “thank you” when something nice was done for you, limited foul language, not exposing children to elements they should never see, using a fork instead of your fingers, dressing up to travel by air or rail, being considerate of your neighbor, block parties, spending the holidays with family, and holding one’s tongue in the heat of anger just to name a few. 

Grace has become a lost art.

Karl Lensler Photo

When I consider what we didn’t have 50-60 years ago, it is remarkable.  Today, you can deposit a check without going to the bank.  You can get just about anything imaginable overnight.  Cars and trucks have electronic engine control and long maintenance intervals.  Turn the key or push a button and you’re on your way.  What would we do without cells phones, personal computers and television? We’d be bored out of our minds or be forced to actually read a book. We’d have to sit around a campfire and chat instead of texting.  

You can jet off to just about anywhere in the world today including Australia and New Zealand, South America, Asia—and be there nonstop in hours instead of days.  You can make a long-distance call to nearly anywhere with telephone service and speak with someone 12,000 miles away.  Keep in mind what time it might be there when you call.  No use upsetting someone down under, “Mate! It’s 3 a.m…” 

What we learn from this nostalgia mindset is the old days weren’t always all that great. We had our struggles just we have today. Some things were easy while others were hard – just like today. We have technology on our side today, which we did not have in the mid-20th century. At the time, we had a long way to go.

By contrast, we’ve lost the human touch that comes with technology. Social Media has become the birthplace of bad information and insulting comments because you don’t have to look at someone’s face. Common decency has been laid to rest and “mean” has become the norm. You see it everywhere.

I can come up with all kinds of reasons to practice kindness. However, society has to be a willing participant. Our country suffers from failed leadership – both sides of the aisle – that isn’t setting a proper example for common decency. If you as a public figure exhibit language that makes you sound like you just walked out of a pool hall, you shouldn’t be running the country. “Give ’em hell Harry…” has nothing on what we have representing us on Capitol Hill today – not to mention state capitals, local government, and Hollywood. We need to clean up our act as a generation and leave the good Earth better than we found it.

These are the good old days. We just won’t know that for decades.

Happy New Year, Everyone… May yours be blessed.

Embrace The Journey…

The clock keeps ticking into the future and time stops for no one.

Time is fluid and Time is certain.

We are along for the ride.

Time is one of the few fair things in life. Anyone born to this world gets to experience its passage. We look ahead and we also reflect.

Confound it the darned clock…

What is it about birthdays that excited us when we were so very young, yet we face them with dread when we’re on the back side of youth? I look at Life as a series of chapters that encompass The Journey. It is important to bask in The Journey instead of so much focus on when it will end and how long ago something was.

When I was young, I was afraid of dying. This obsession began with my grandfather’s passing when I was age 10. He was a delightful man and a terrific grandfather. Losing him when I was a little boy put me in touch with the circle of life – my grandfather was gone.

His journey was over.

It has taken me a lifetime to understand how important it is to embrace The Journey and stop obsessing over the destination and what happened in the past. Sit back, relax, enjoy the flight, and keep your seatbelt securely fastened just in case there’s unexpected rough air. Keep your guard up as best you can for those sudden unexpected turns and be ready to face them with courage and dignity. Easier said than done. Navigate your way out and learn from the experience.

View every bad experience as education.

There are days when we tend to think, “Why Me?” Well – why not you? I listened to a sermon decades ago that made perfect sense to me. The minister told us Life is experiential. We are born to this world to experience – to live. We live happily through the pleasure, and we have to muddle our way through the pain. There are times when we believe we will never find our way out.

I’ve had an incredible journey – wonderful time in the sun. I enjoy a wealth of wonderful lifelong friends and the love of family around me. Couldn’t be more blessed. However, I’ve also been to hell and back – a very dark period in life where I believed I’d never find my way out. It was a dark gloomy autumn night in the middle of nowhere in rural America. I was lying on the bathroom floor in the dark wondering what to do next. Things were so bad I seriously considered ending it all. Then – I heard my infant son cry in the next room – a moment when I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. It was a test of resilience and an invitation to become stronger. He needed his father – and I had people in my life who loved me.

The sun eventually came out and I had survived a rough chapter.

This is a lesson for all of us. No matter how dark it may seem – each adverse experience is an invitation to be stronger, to hang on, and fly through the weather. You will get through this – not always in the way you want – but you will survive.

You will also get the chance to live

Like a lot of us in retirement and in the twilight of our lives it easy to feel like there’s not much reason to go on. I get days like that. But – there’s always a reason to keep going. There are always people who need you to stay on. Volunteer and help others. The more involved you can become at serving others, the better you will feel about yourself.

Remember – there’s always a soul in trouble who needs your eye contact, voice, understanding, and love.

The circle of love is remarkable. Celebrate your birthday with a commitment to others. If you have grandchildren – they need your wisdom and warmth. There are plenty of civic organizations that need your support and experience.

The sun will come out and the rain will stop.

The Magic of a SEARS Christmas

Do you remember the magic and euphoria of a SEARS Christmas? Every calendar year revolved around Christmas. You know this is true. As the leaves began to fall and evenings became crisp along with the aroma of woodsmoke in the air – we began to think of the approaching holidays with great anticipation.

Christmas was coming…

Seems the excitement began on Halloween Night when neighbors came together to hand out candy to kids in the neighborhood. There were Halloween parties. That was when neighbors actually knew one another. If you acted up, someone was going to tell your parents. I can tell you from firsthand experience this is true. Sometimes, we’d venture out beyond our street where people didn’t know us. Approaching each front door was a different experience. You never knew who you were going to meet.

Halloween would pass and the SEARS Christmas Wish Book arrived in the mail like clockwork. We’d fan through the pages dreaming of what we wanted for Christmas. Because I was a total dork, I loved Christmas lights even more than the presents. I’d grab the Wish Book and page to the holiday decor to look at lights. I loved the colors and couldn’t wait to see what they looked like live and in person. I’d wander the aisles at SEARS, look at the lights and decorations, and marvel at the magic of electricity – a white hot filament inside a colorful glass envelope.

I was obsessed with light and color.

My job each Christmas was to hang lights on the tree and outside the house. Every Christmas, I’d come home from SEARS and the local hardware store with Christmas lights and bulbs. A personal favorite was the colorful miniature lights, which were wired in series. When one burned out, they all went out. Then came the laborious task of finding out which one was out – something no one wanted to do.

Manufacturers figured out how to fix this “shortcoming “lights out” problem with a shunt in the bulbs, which allowed current to flow to the rest. “GE Merry Midget Christmas lights. When one goes out, the rest stay lit!” Do you find it ironic the Rankin-Bass “Rudolph” Christmas special was sponsored by General Electric? The characters – elves in particular – had heads and noses shaped like light bulbs?

I think it was a subtle way to sell GE Soft White bulbs.

What made childhood Christmases magical for boomers was our imaginations. We didn’t need virtual reality and video games to entertain ourselves – but imagine if we’d had that. We would have embraced them like today’s young people have. Imagination and make believe were more fun than electronics because you could do anything and be anything you wanted to be. I could take a model airplane or a plastic car and go anywhere.

For Christmas of 1962, I got a lighted motorized dashboard with a steering wheel I could place on the dining table and take a spin – anywhere… I’d turn on the ignition, hear the hum of an electric motor inside, and grab the wheel. It required six “C” batteries and went through them quickly. It was a miniature version of the 1963-64 Ford Galaxie dashboard and instrument panel with flashing turn signals and gauges. I’ve searched high and low for one of these toys through the years. They seem nowhere to be found. I am a boomer attempting to relive his childhood.

Gotta have some of those really groovy toys we grew up with.

Our greatest asset as a generation has been our imaginations. Our imaginations are why we have what we have today – great inventions that came of our childhood imaginations. We can thank SEARS (and Santa Claus) for providing us with the tools that fueled our imaginations so long ago.

When the news was The News…

I am age 66, midway through the Baby Boom spanning 1946-64. I watch the news as little as possible these days because it has become more political opinion than news – certainly one-sided depending upon which way a media outlet swings.

Walter Cronkite and other great news professionals brought us the news back in the day – not opinion. They told you what happened and showed you with the best technology available at the time. Then – signed off bidding you farewell for the evening. Cronkite signed off each evening at the dinner hour with, “And that’s the way it is…January 24, 1976…” and the deed was done.

Cronkite told us the way it was and without opinion though Cronkite certainly had his thoughts on nearly everything. He just didn’t make his opinion part of the evening news broadcast. Fictional character Archie Bunker of CBS TV’s “All In The Family” always called him “Pinko Cronkite…” and we laughed. We knew exactly what Bunker meant and what his personal opinion was as a conservative.

I will never forget the excitement of NASA space launches throughout the 1960s and the boy-like euphoria of Walter Cronkite during each space launch. There was Frank McGee at NBC who covered the launches. Jules Bergman – Science Editor at ABC. Bergman was very matter of fact with these launches. He explained to us how it all worked – and if it didn’t work, why it didn’t work and what the fix was. Frank McGee spoke so eloquently about each launch and gave us a play by play. Cronkite got your adrenaline flowing, which went with his space broadcasts.

July of 1969 when we landed on the Moon, Cronkite was rather giddy. He’d long covered our journey to the Moon with the Gemini and Apollo space launches – and the time was now. We had arrived at the destination after much anticipation. We’d done it before everyone else and Walter was there to tell us all about it. He was there for the setbacks too – such as Apollo 1 in 1967.

We all cried. So did Walter…

July 20, 1969 – Neil Armstrong took those first steps from Apollo 11’s lunar module and stood on the powdery Moon landscape we will forever remember as the Sea of Tranquility. It was mankind’s first steps on another celestial body beyond Earth.

We’d done it.

Walter made sure we heard all about it from his CBS broadcasts.

Who could forget Apollo 13 in 1970 when the world held its breath and NASA pulled off the seemingly impossible. Thousands of engineers and program managers rallied together as the greatest engineering team in the history of the world. Three seasoned astronauts came home safe and alive. Walter Cronkite was there too through several minutes of agonizing silence during reentry and splashdown.

The world breathed a collective sigh of relief.

As time passed after Apollo 11, space launches became routine and the general public zoned out. Moon launches stopped due to budgetary concerns and no one even noticed. Those first Space Shuttle launches got some attention because the darned thing was faster than the sluggish Saturn V launches. ABC’s Frank Reynolds was majorly stoked during that first Columbia launch, watching and commenting with utter fascination at how fast the 6.5-million-pound Shuttle was coming off the pad at the Cape. It got there fast and the International Space Station was the result.

Although it would never be good for ratings today – the news needs to get back to being The News. To some degree it still is – but these 30-minute news broadcasts are little more than just the headlines for the first 15 minutes – then – “After the break…” followed by a battery of commercials, one nothing 30-second news story, then “After the break…” followed by another miserable five minutes of commercials, followed by another lame news quickie followed by “After the break…” more commercials and a “heartwarming” good news story.

Gee I feel better…

The networks must think we’re blind. However, we’re Americans…we put up with it.