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.

The Annual Dread of Christmas Shopping – Yeah…It’s That Time

Yeah…it is that time of year again. Do you ever get tired of celebrating the holidays? Admit it – you know it’s true. I do… We look at the holidays ahead with dread – not for the celebration – but for those agonizing shopping trips that begin on Black Friday when we’re all still full of Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing – and now retail has added the insult of Cyber Monday.

Sadists – all of them.

Retailers used to begin stocking stores with Christmas decorations right after Halloween. These days, the air conditioning is still roaring overhead and you are greeted with the twinkle of Christmas lights and artificial trees.


Do you know what I don’t get? The crazies that camp out and line up for the super Black Friday deals. Doors open and they storm the place. They beat each other up over a 20 percent discount. Are you kidding me? The time involved. I just don’t get it. You can always make more money. You cannot make more time. The sands of time run out and you will not get them back. And, to think, you spent eight hours in the dark and the cold to save a few bucks?

What are you – nuts?

I have all kinds of innovative ways to waste time – cruising Facebook, napping, spending an afternoon in YouTube, walking through Harbor Freight lusting after tools and equipment, and watching hours of The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy.

Good productive wasted time…

My all-time favorite Christmas special is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” which originally aired on CBS December 9, 1965. We had just moved into our new home and the spirit of Christmas was so alive and it felt so good. We sat in front of a vintage Philco black and white console TV and watched this very first Peanuts special. I believe it was the first time Peanuts characters took on life and had voices.

A troubled Charlie Brown, the class misfit, just wasn’t in the Christmas spirit. Lucy set him up with the director’s job of the annual school Christmas play after copping his pocket change for walk up therapy from someone who wanted real estate for Christmas. Go figure. It took Linus to explain the true meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown before an empty theater. Linus’ speech is legendary today. It brings tears to everyone’s eyes because it describes a sacred moment in history – a story that has lasted more than 2000 years.

There are those who want Linus’ speech dropped from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”… The title is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. If you don’t like the speech, watch something else instead of trying to dictate to the rest of us what to watch. Regardless of what your religious beliefs may be, Linus’ explanation of the meaning of Christmas is especially moving. It is right up there with the song “Oh Holy Night…” which is very humbling no matter who you are.

Instead of quantity on Christmas Morning, I believe in quality – how you celebrate the holidays and who your heart is with. May each of you who reads this column have the love of family and friends whom you mean the world to. If you are very much alone, get involved in a charity or do volunteer work where you can give of yourself and make another feel loved and appreciated.

It will come back to you tenfold.

Anyone Living A Hallmark Movie?

What is it with men…and women…and Hallmark movies? Unless you are a particularly sensitive man, a Hallmark movie probably isn’t in the cards for your holiday weekend. You’d rather be watching pro football or “Magnum Force” with Clint Eastwood. You and your spouse are going to be viewing flat screens in separate rooms.

I consider myself a sensitive man. I cry at emotional moments in the news and in some movies. I am deeply affected by what happens to others. I am in touch with my feminine side. I get what’s up with women – and there are times when I just don’t – and I fall into the ranks of most men.

Completely clueless…

Face it, Bro’ – if you’re like most of us, you know you are completely clueless about the female gender. Like most men, you cannot get why she gets upset when you haven’t brought her flowers in months. I try to be attentive to a woman’s needs. However, there are times when I fall into the ranks of most men.


I admit I’ve tried to stay the course watching Hallmark movies. I have actually watched Hallmark movies all the way through though I sometimes fall asleep before it’s over. I do know it always snows at the end. There are some conflicts between men and women – however, it’s just too perfect for me. Never seen a Hallmark movie with a divorce or two people who meet who’ve just been through divorces.

Divorces just don’t happen at Hallmark. Always a happy ending…

I like a movie with a touch of reality scripted in – like a heated disagreement over Scotch Pine or Douglas-fir in a Christmas tree lot to put in front of the living room window. Something more realistic – closer to real life – instead of, “That’s okay, Darling…” Couples just don’t do that. They argue, disagree, and fight.

With any luck, they make up.

Men just don’t get choked up over a couple in a mountain resort or small-town Mid-America (though, I think most Hallmark movies are filmed in Canada). We like a touch of excitement, like Lee Marvin beating up the tough guys in “The Dirty Dozen” or De Niro and Pacino matching wits in “Heat.” We like to exercise our manhood via action-adventure movies where we don’t get wounded yet talk like we could take these guys on. It is easy to be bold on your living room sofa.


Baby Boomers are scratching their heads wondering what has happened to the attitude of service our founding fathers had in mind some 246 years ago.

Washington politicians seem to think we are here to serve them.

As a member of the U.S. Congress what is your job?  What were you elected to do? You are here to responsibly run the Nation’s business and serve Americans who elected you who pay your salaries and support your cushy pensions.

Instead – you sling mud on one another across the halls of Congress and act like a bunch elementary school children who need spankings. The world is laughing at us.  The world no longer has any real respect for the United States because we haven’t demonstrated we have earned it. It is time for real change in Congress and an atmosphere of common decency.

What about that?

Back in the day, it was considered a great honor to be elected to Congress.  As a junior member of Congress, you showed respect and honored those who came before you – those who had paid their dues.  A certain protocol had to be followed to carve a path to success and stay the course if you planned on a lifetime of service.

Over the past two decades, there has been a troubling “Spy vs Spy” pattern in the two houses of Congress void of any spirit of cooperation and compromise.  This pattern has only grown worse in recent years.  It is all about bipartisan one-upmanship, revenge – and “We The People” be damned.  You people possess an attitude of arrogance and seem to feel you owe the American People nothing.

Remember – if you can – you were elected to serve us.

Let’s get that straight.

You pass bills with no real meaning for the American People and do your victory dances. The Inflation Reduction Act has not controlled inflation. It is all eyewash to me and has accomplished nothing. I am not an economic scholar; however, I believe inflation has never been controlled via government intervention. Inflation tends to be about supply and demand. When there isn’t enough of it, it gets expensive and when there’s a lot of it, prices come down.

Raising the Fed doesn’t stop it either. Raising the Fed only hurts consumers with higher lending rates and tanks the real estate market.

Meanwhile, life on Main Street has grown tougher and tougher for Americans who were struggling to begin with. People seem to forget the gorilla in the living room – COVID. The pandemic turned everything upside down. All this political infighting has done is stall the recovery and any progress.  Can’t get a darned thing through the Senate because the dominate party won’t have it (this goes for both parties). Self-absorption in a nutshell. Seems you folks perceive believe having complete control of The Hill would make the Nation a better place.

This has never been true.

A balance of power works. Absolute Power does not.

There’s hasn’t been a balance of power on the Hill in ages. There’s a need for a real balance of power on the Hill for us to get anywhere. It is the only way to achieve some level of compromise. Instead, it is all useless meaningless chatter – noise…

To Capitol Hill’s “old guard” – those of you who’ve been on the Hill since I was a teenager – do us all a favor and retire. Go home. You are no longer of value to the American People. Time for you to step aside and make way for those who want to affect positive change.  Part the ranks, go home, and make way for young people who have the energy and positive drive to serve Americans.

Where is George Carlin in these troubled times when we need his voice and his wisdom because he had you folks pegged long ago. The United States Congress is a closed corporation – a private party – that believes it is not accountable to the American People. The United States Congress is bought and paid for by big business – not the American People. As long as elections are driven by big money, Americans will never have a voice in Washington.

It is time for major change on the Hill – and elections no longer driven by Super PACs. Think about it this way, the United States Supreme Court voted to allow unlimited campaign contributions. They understand where their bread is buttered.

Anyone on the Hill determined to accomplish anything – ANYTHING – is demonized and run out of town if they don’t walk in lockstep. The House Floor – especially – is disgusting. You have foul-mouthed representatives who make incendiary remarks and spread bad information that gets people maimed and killed. This is not what we are supposed to be. Our founding fathers would be appalled.

Those who’ve tried to get anything accomplished have elected not to run again. They are done. They are people who chose to serve – and I mean actually serve the People who elected them. They learned quickly that Capitol Hill is the “old boys” club and those who wish to serve the People are not in it.

In the time most of us have been alive, the United States of America has become the Divided States of America by design. We have leadership that has engineered it that way. Divide the people, limited education and funding, and dumb down society.

Have you looked at us lately?

We’re no longer the post-war America that mentored and shaped us.

Memories of Mom and Dad…

I awaken on a November morning in the sharp focus of a world without my mom and dad. A lot of you know what this is like. Very few of us still have our parents. My mother would have been 99 next month. My dad would have been 93 in August. They were both products of The Great Depression and World War II.

The Greatest Generation…

It is surely something when you think about it. When they are alive – you cannot imagine a world without them. When they are gone – you cannot imagine the world with them. I can still hear my mother and father vividly. I can see them with great clarity. I can still hear my father laughing hysterically at Johnny Carson. I see my mother glaring at me with one eyebrow raised when she knew I was lying to her.

My mother and I were very close. She wasn’t always easy – a control freak much as my sister and I are. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. She could be a huge pain in the posterior when she was trying to talk sense into my stupid head. Young and clueless – I didn’t always listen. I mean…what the heck did she know? I’d come home humbled – knowing I should have listened to my mother. Wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of know she was right.

She was too wise to tell me “I warned you, Honey…”

My mother stood by each of us. When I felt like I was losing my mind as an adult at 3 am, I knew I could always call my mother. She’d be half asleep – but awake enough to tell me it was time to be strong and get through whatever it was I was going through. She was there for each of us deep into adulthood. She’d always begin her tutorage with…”Now Jamie….” and get right down to the business of being a parent and a mentor.

When it was time to discuss Washington, D.C. politics, she was the one to rant with. My mother was an old time Washington girl. She loved Washington. She’d grown up in Arlington, Falls Church, and Northwest D.C. She detested Maryland – and was a Virginia snob. She was Virginia native and had a soft formal Southern accent like my grandmother, who was from Greenwich and Warrenton, did. She was a staunch Democrat right up to the end. Her father – my grandfather – had been both Dem and GOP. If she could see the way things are today, she’d be psychotic.

My mother and I were pals. We could chat on the phone for hours on end about everything under the sun and suffer the phone bill when it came. She indulged me in my endless dissertations about my interests. She’d write me the nicest letters and send me news clippings. I still have all of it.

My mother divorced our birth father in 1957. Best just to say they didn’t have the same values and he liked the ladies. She moved on and so did he. He never looked back. She met and married Jack Smart in 1958. They had a lot in common. They both loved to read. Jack adopted my sister and me in 1966. I will always see him as my dad. He was there and he took good care of us. He loved my mother to a fault.

It saddens me he and I were never close. He was a man who stayed to himself. He was an avid reader and he loved sports – baseball and football. He loved the O’s – the Orioles. He and a buddy would go to Camden Yards and watch the O’s. He was also an avid league bowler and had a great circle of friends who bowled. He taught me how to bowl and I developed my own style. We’d go bowling and he’d quip “That isn’t how I taught you to bowl!” Yet – I maintained a 190 average in league play.

My dad was a cryptologist with the National Security Agency (NSA) for 34 years. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, he vanished for a week with not a word in that time. There were times when he’ d go to work and we wouldn’t hear from him for days. People would ask me if my dad was Maxwell Smart. We will never know what he did at the agency. He just didn’t talk about it. He traveled the world in his work – sometimes to very isolated parts of the world. He’d return home via Baltimore’s Friendship International Airport (BWI today).

I’d always wonder where he had been.

My father had a passion for cigarettes – Salems… He just could not quit. He’d convince my mother he’d quit, yet there were piles of ashes all over his workshop. Had his chest cracked, stents put in – just could not quit. The stents led to kidney failure and dialysis. In the end, his smoking caught up with him. Right after 9/11/01 in November of that year, I got word to come to Maryland – he was in a coma.

I flew home at a moment’s notice. I drove to his buddy’s home and brought him to my dad’s side. The hardest part wasn’t watching my father pass but watching his best friend cry like a baby. They were kindred spirits.

My dad was on a ventilator and had tubes up his nose. His breathing was shallow and slow. I held his icy cold hand and looked at his thumb. Decades earlier, he’d slammed that thumb in a car door and did permanent damage to the nail. I have always been an empath. What happens to others affects me deeply. He slammed his thumb in the car door and screamed in pain. He went into the church with a bleeding thumb to pick up my little sister. I sat there and cried uncontrollably. It hurt immeasurably to see him in such pain. I became hyper focused on that thumbnail and relived that experience from 38 years earlier.

The nurse looked at her watch and called time of death. My father was gone. I looked at him and thought, “Where did you go when I really needed you…” My mother was in the depths of dementia and couldn’t come to his side. I couldn’t understand. She had horrible agoraphobia and would not leave the house. Her slide even deeper into dementia would follow. She lived another seven years in a nursing home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We laid my father to rest at the Veterans Cemetary in Federalsburg, Maryland in mid-November of 2001.

A long chapter was suddenly over.

My mother was a long goodbye. I began to see issues in her demeanor in the late 1980s. She became recluse and didn’t like leaving the house. My father had done so much to make it easier for her to travel. She just wasn’t on board. I couldn’t have understood what was going on with her at the time because I knew nothing about dementia. She was slipping away.

June 20, 2008 – she would pass peacefully in her sleep at age 84.

There are times when I will still reach for the phone to call my mother. Proof we are creatures of habit even 20 years later. When it came to my mom, it was a good habit – just like she taught me.

Mom…Dad…I love you both.

The Music and The Memories

It is 5am on the West Coast and all is quiet – except for the noise in my head. I am experiencing a flashback from the summer of 1972 – the song “School’s Out For Summer…” by Alice Cooper. My mind begins playing this song and I have no idea where it came from. It has been stored in the corridors of my mind for 50 years.

I hear the music in the tweeters and woofers of my mind and begin to relive the emotion pain of a lost girlfriend that summer. School was out for summer and so was I. High School dead ahead. I got dumped for a dorkenheimer and had no idea why. I was better looking. Had more on the ball than this guy. Of course, I was a better kisser, right? And I was out on my posterior and feeling blue.

Isn’t it something how an aroma, a song, a sound, the taste and smell of peanut butter or green beans – perhaps a voice – trigger memories from a time so long ago? This Alice Copper classic wormed its way out of storage into the active pathways of my mind and, as it went, I began feeling that uncomfortable nuance of a lost love from my youth. Do you remember that?

I relived our walks through my hometown holding hands and feeling euphoric. Euphoria was replaced with, “Jim…I think we need to cool it for a while…” and the achy sadness of loss. An ego beaten… Of course “a while…” turned into forever. We’d never speak again. I’d spy her walking through the mall later on hand-in-hand with someone new and think, “What does this guy have that I ain’t got?”

Oh, the heartache.

It is remarkable what our minds retain over a lifetime. The feeling of a soft breeze on your face, the sound of a train, the lonely droning sound of airplane propellers high overhead, hearing your child breathing in their sleep, the sweet aroma of fresh-cut grass. These elements, and millions of others, take us back a lifetime for a mental multimedia event only we can relate to.

I suppose memory is there for our very survival. Music is there in your mind in a solid-state hard drive designed to keep you company when you are lonely. Memory is also there to, hopefully, help you avoid making the same mistake later in life.

And me? I will settle for the awe-inspiring sound of Alice Cooper and the steamy hot summer of 1972 when life was only just beginning.

Observing What Has Become of Us

When I observe what has become of us, it is a world I never believed I’d see in my lifetime.  The United States of America.  Divided—at one another’s throats. 

Say it ain’t so.  Wishing I could…  

We’ve lost our way as a civilized society.  I guess where we are today was inevitable.  It began with complacency, self-importance, a society so focused on itself. The audacity of arrogance – we the people delusional enough to believe we’re better than everyone else in the world. Complacency and arrogance will ultimately sink your ship when you’re not looking at the big picture.  Just ask The Romans about their lost empire – arrogant enough to believe they were invincible. 

Seems few, especially politicians, are interested in the greater good— but instead only themselves. We are the great fakers and always have been.  Our message to the world has always been “We’re here to save you and make your world safe for democracy…” however, this has never been true in 245 years of our great republic. There’s always a hidden agenda to nearly everything we do. Rarely have we ever run to the aid of a country without there being a little something in it for us.  We’re interested in minerals, real estate, and cold hard cash.  If a nation doesn’t have these elements – something we want – we always manage to look the other way.

Humans be damned.

We are a free society—but only in theory.  Americans put up with a whole lot of delusion from corporate America the rest of the world would never tolerate – the endless shell game and deception from American commerce and government.  Government and commerce have always been in bed together.  It is something of a love/hate relationship and has been for decades. 

Corporate America likes peddling its agenda to sell you a product.  I think of this whenever I see these tiresome and lengthy home and automobile warranty commercials, or the bottling companies telling us to responsibly recycle plastic bottles while trading pollution credits to get themselves off the hook. Remember those repetitive cigarette commercials from the 1950s stressing how good smoking was for you while Ricky and Lucy puffed away on Phillip-Morris tobacco products?

I believe the original framers, our Founding Fathers, rolled out a terrific blueprint for the Great Society—as long as you were white, male and had wealth.  Our Constitution was—and still is—a great work in progress aged and deteriorating piece of paper.  It placed a lot of safety valves in place to prevent what is happening now.

What is happening now is a Constitutional crisis – the continuing effort to undermine democracy and slip into authoritarianism and absolute power – a government no longer by the people – but instead the limited and privileged wealthy few.

In the end, The Constitution is only as valid as lawmakers and citizens make it.  Lawmakers like adding amendments—some good, some not so good.  Again—a work in progress for two and one-half centuries. 

The minute we wander off course, the Constitution is only but a piece of paper.  The present Constitutional crisis has placed The Great Society in danger—potentially lost to autocratic power mongers—those who would have absolute control over our lives.

We’re in deep trouble due to warped perception—what the masses believe.  Politics is telling Americans the same tiresome story repeatedly—and to what end?  In the end, it is all about self-interest and how the ship is steered.  The next two elections and the January 6th hearings will determine where we go next.

We appeared a civilized society on the rise in a post-war environment as John F. Kennedy took the oath of office some 62 years ago, however, how civilized were we under the surface?  If you were black and decidedly poor, society was anything but civilized—nor fair.  Women were considered second class citizens without a voice.  They had the vote—but not the voice.  This has been where amendments to the Constitution have been so important.

It is my hope we will find our way in the months and years ahead and recognize the trouble we are currently in before it’s too late.  Otherwise, we are the great collapse of the Roman Empire 2.0. 

Excuse Me…But What Did You Say?

Is your life defined and affected by someone with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)? Chances are you know at least one person who struggles with one of these distraction disorders.

Although comedians joke about ADD/ADHD and conversations emerge at parties about this disorder, it is an oft-misunderstood subject. When you’re dealing with someone with ADD/ADHD, it is easy to feel like they just don’t care. The “Absent-Minded Professor” lost in his or her own little world.

“Excuse Me….But What Did You Say?”

When I was growing up in the 1960s, I was one of the worst students on the planet because I couldn’t stay focused on my studies. Teachers always spoke of daydreaming and distractions. How I graduated from high school is anyone’s guess. I just couldn’t maintain focus and stay on task. I would also become so hyperfocused on one thing to where the world could have come to an end and I wouldn’t know until I received the memo from Washington or God.

MedlinePlus defines ADD/ADHD as “A behavioral disorder that typically begins in childhood and is characterized by a short attention span (inattention), an inability to be calm and stay still (hyperactivity), and poor impulse control (impulsivity). Some people with ADHD have problems with only inattention or with hyperactivity and impulsivity, but most have problems related to all three features.”

Yeah – that would be me. It also defines my family. We are all ADD/ADHD and drive one another crazy. MedlinePlus goes on to say, “In people with ADHD, the characteristic behaviors are frequent and severe enough to interfere with the activities of daily living such as school, work, and relationships with others. Because of an inability to stay focused on tasks, people with inattention may be easily distracted, forgetful, avoid tasks that require sustained attention, have difficulty organizing tasks, or frequently lose items.”

MedlinePlus adds, “Hyperactivity is usually shown by frequent movement. Individuals with this feature often fidget or tap their foot when seated, leave their seat when it is inappropriate to do so (such as in the classroom), or talk a lot and interrupt others. Impulsivity can result in hasty actions without thought for the consequences. Individuals with poor impulse control may have difficulty waiting for their turn, deferring to others, or considering their actions before acting.”

I have chronic insomnia and have for 30+ years, which is a byproduct of ADD. If you think one person in a family with ADD/ADHD is overwhelming, try three of us with this affliction. It becomes very frustrating at times because one of us zigs and the others zag. Conversation is never complete because we’re always interrupting one another. One of us starts a sentence and someone interrupts. The result is endless frustration. Conflict abounds.

MedlinePlus says more than two-thirds of all individuals with ADHD have additional conditions – including insomnia, mood or anxiety disorders, learning disorders, or substance use disorders. Affected individuals may also have “Autism Spectrum Disorder,” which is characterized by impaired communication and social interaction, or Tourette Syndrome, which is a disorder characterized by repetitive and involuntary movements or noises called tics.

I can tell you I am a moody person, which has always made me challenging to live with. It puts other in the positioning of wondering what they did to upset me, yet they did nothing in the first place. Depression is also a byproduct of ADD/ADHD because you are endlessly frustrated with yourself. Languishing projects that drag on for months and sometimes years yield a terrible sense of failure because you’re always getting sidetracked by your own thoughts and distractions. These events breed depression and all kinds of anxiety.

I tend to close my office door to shut out the TV and other distractions like conversation in the next room. That – of course – makes those you love feel like you don’t want to be a part of their lives when, in fact, you’re trying to police your own mind in order to stay on course. Yet, shutting the door doesn’t shut out the noise in my mind or internet headlines that get my attention.

If your life is tied to someone who appears to have ADD/ADHD, there’s help for you via a good psychiatrist and proper medication. Perhaps you are struggling with ADD/ADHD yourself. Though it is tempting to treat ADD/ADHD with medication only, I’ve found having specialized therapy with a professional who specializes in ADD/ADHD helps. There really is no cure for ADD/ADHD. However, there is help via self-discipline – which takes a lot of practice and habit.

Easier said than done.

Best to begin each day and week with a “To Do” list and stick to it as best you can. There will be days when you accomplish a lot and days when you can’t stay on task to save your life. It is best to be tolerant of yourself (and others) along the way because you’re going to stumble where some days are better than others.

Awareness of this disorder is key to getting better.

By the way, if it makes you feel any better – it has taken me weeks to write this Boomer Journey. I still have a long way to go.