Please Stand Still

As I lie here in my bed, I can hear the tree in my backyard swaying.  There are a number of branches which have fallen to the ground since Hurricane Irene began coming through yesterday.  As many have suffered much greater damage, it is hard for me to complain. In fact, I have no complaints but instead concern. Splitting hairs – well, maybe.

Growing up, there stood a tall tree in front of our house. I loved that tree and have many fond memories of it. I remember playing wire ball near the tree and having a pinky ball get stuck in the tree.  A half hour later, a football, tennis ball, hockey stick, and broom were also stuck in the tree as my friends and I had thrown each of them up trying to dislodge the original pinky ball.  It was the cleanest my family’s garage had been in years.

Enjoying the brilliant colors of the leaves during Fall was great. Cleaning up those leaves that the large tree produced was not so great. One year, my friends and I gathered the leaves from my family’s tree and those from the surrounding houses. No, we were not being good Samaritans. We jumped, rolled around, and dove into the massive pile of leaves that now stood squarely in front of my house.  My mother came home and had a fit, “Who is going to clean up all those leaves?”  The hours or so it took to sweep them up was worth it.

Ultimately, the tree had to come down. The roots had caused the pipes to back up and water was coming into the basement. It was a major expense which my parents could not afford. Even though I was beyond the age of the tree being a prop on my stage, I missed the shade and the landmark that it was. I missed its simple beauty.

The weather was tenuous last night, and the predictions were for strong winds.  While my wife insists that I slept soundly, I did not. I worried about the tree. This is not some man and nature, tree hugging sort of thing. Yes, I do enjoy the tree, though not its constant shedding.  I did not sleep last night for fear of the tree falling. The tree stands just a few feet from the house and directly aligns with the master bedroom. I was afraid I would wake up with the tree in my bed like the guy in The Godfather wakes up with the horse’s head in his. Yes, I do like trees, but I think these days, I prefer them on other people’s properties.

Turn Off the News

Must know, need to hear all the details, gotta tell me right now! I suppose nearly all inventions/societal changes can be viewed in both a positive and negative light. Even slice bread can get moldy and drugs can be used for medicinal purposes. My purpose is not to stop or comment on all progress.  With this blog entry, I will throw in my two cents for the need or the lack thereof for 24 hours news.

I clearly understand that Hurricane Irene has the potential to be the most devastating storm to hit the Northeast in a long time. I do not live under a rock.  How are these last two statements related, you may be wondering? Well, I think those living under a rock or those still high from the Kardashian wedding are the only people who have not heard the news about Irene. I am not sure that the constant blare about Irene is a good thing. It certainly makes sense that this perpetual news focus would encourage people to be more prepared. Should the worst happen, this extra preparation could save lives. This is, inarguably, a good thing.   However, it is a type of fear mongering. The news outlets hype up the potential for disaster, find myriads of news angles many of which are tangentially related, and ultimately seem to have a goal to scare the viewer.  I used to think there was a deal between the dairy farmers and the weathercasters. The weathercasters predict a potentially disastrous weather outcome and milk sales rise. All of a sudden, everyone should feel a need to keep three gallons in the house when normally they go through half a gallon a week.

Ultimately, I think 24 hour news allows people the potential to be much more informed. I am just not sure that the subject matter requires one to be so informed. I believe following the boy scout credo of be prepared is the way to go. You can leave out the fear.

It’s Tomorrow Today

We live in a culture where there is a drive to be young. All you have to do is turn on the television, flip on the internet, or open a newspaper/magazine to see/read some sort of advertisement whose stated goal is to make you look or feel younger. Dye your hair, rid yourself of wrinkles, enhance your energy etc. While I wish I had a full head of hair, when I wonder what it would be like to be younger again, it has nothing to do with the physical.

This morning my older son came down the stairs. He looked at my wife and I who were sitting and talking on the couch discussing our daily plans like football coaches game planning for the upcoming foe. Anyway, he had a smirk on his face even as he was wiping the tired out of his eyes, and he said, “It’s tomorrow, today.” He said it a second time, and that seemed to be his whole message. He was that excited for the trip we have planned to a water park later this week.

My younger son will be celebrating his 5th birthday in November. It will be the first birthday party we are making for him that will include his friends. He is talking about this party incessantly and invites and uninvites me on a regular basis.  According to him, the birthday is tonight, and it should have been every night of the last two weeks.  This morning I showed him a calendar. We sang the months of the year song that he learned in school.  I then showed him that there are many days till his birthday. He shook his head that he understood and then a moment later informed that his birthday party was tonight.

Enthusiasm, pure and utter joy – that is what both boys are experiencing. Beautiful, just beautiful!  So, while I really would love that full head of hair, I want what my children have.  Like most adults, I no longer experience pure and utter joy. I hope they can retain that joy for as long as possible, and I will be content to live vicariously through them.


Potential. When I was younger, my parents used to tell me all the time that I had potential. “We just want you to work hard and fulfill your potential. You have so much potential.”  I realize now that it is a word that parents like to use when referring to their children as I hear it all the time at parent teacher conferences. Parents tell me their child can do so much better if they would just work harder as they have so much potential. Sometimes, I say to the parents, “I think your son could do so much better. I see a lot of potential.”  My wife and I have used the word potential referring to our children, “I hope they can grow up and fulfill their potential.”

I looked up the word potential on to get the formal definition. Here it is: possible, as opposed to actual or capable of being or becoming. So, potential is what could be and not what has been. It’s a maybe, we’ll see, possibly, a chance, could happen. While it can be something negative, when I think of potential, it can be summed up in one word – hope. What could be is almost more exciting than what is. Let me check my facebook, any phone messages, any mail, did I get a text? Who knows what tomorrow brings?  It’s the beauty of possibility of wonderful, of something greater? If you think about it, potential is a beautiful word as it allows you to deal with today with the hope of a better tomorrow.

I bought a lottery ticket the other day. Well, actually my wife bought it for me. When she buys tickets for herself, she often buys scratchoffs which generally have a maximum payout of 100,000.00. This would certainly be a nice prize – could buy a couple of pizzas with that. When I buy the occasional lottery ticket, I am a mega millions sort of guy. I want to win baby! Give me that whole enchilada!  By the way, I happen to love pizza and Mexican food, but that’s another story.  Anyway, the drawing was Friday, and I have yet to check my numbers. You see once I check them, the gig is up. No more potential. The need to work and worry about bills reality sets in. So, I think I will hold off one more day to check that lottery ticket. I have potential!