A life too short

It was on this date nine years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this four years ago, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 9th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

To not grow old gracefully

It is often said that we should learn to grow old gracefully.  Those who do not are sometimes looked on with scorn.  Perhaps you may hear that someone should “know better at that age.”  What is it that we should know better?  Of this, I am not sure.  I just know that a lot of people have ideas in the back of their minds of what old should be.  For a long time I thought being like my father’s father was the way to be when you are old.  I guess that may be in part because I always thought of him as old.  Of course 30 seems old to a child, but from his 60’s to his 80’s my grandfather seemed about the same to me.  Everything was taken at a slow pace and with good humor and I could not see anything wrong with that, as long as I was not actually old myself.

Age Appropriate

Age Appropriate (Photo credit: skittledog)

Except for the eccentric few, society has notions of what you should do, say, wear when you get old.  For example, you probably should not shop for your clothes at the Gap or some other shop that pitches all of its advertising at the young.  If you do, you may hear that your apparel is not age appropriate.  If you can not shop at Neiman Marcus I suppose you should shop at Goodwill or some place that will have stuff for old guys.  If you still fit into your high school or college clothes, they may not be correct to wear unless you have irresponsible friends your own age who do the same.

Sports is not a good ideas for old folks either.  When you sprain your ankle playing touch football in the park, you may count on someone saying, “He ought to know better at his age.”  It will be worse yet if you break something.  That will be the point that people will try to find out what kind of help you actually need.  If you are past 50, they will no longer pass this off as some sort of midlife crisis.  Instead they will wonder if you have reached early senility and should be kept under constant surveillance.

If truth be told, most people approaching the supposed golden years may want to partake of a lot of activities they had to put off while doing that all important action of “growing up.”  Work, family and a whole host of post high school, college or military life obligations may mean postponing things you really want to do.  A little extra financial security, if there is such a thing in these times, and a little “empty nest” freedom may mean you are ready to go off and live a life you wish you had lived when you were much younger.

Growing old gracefully will not be on my list of things to do.  I intend to continue to play loud rock and roll in my car until neighbors think I must have the sound up that loud because I can no longer hear it.  Trust me I have never stood in front of a loud-speaker like Pete Townsend blowing my ear drums out, but I nevertheless like to rock and roll down the highway.  While I sometimes wish my neighbors would tune it down after midnight, I am not always certain the same applies to me.

There is another important thing to know that may not always appear obvious to the younger set.  Giving up on the things that we love to do is a scary idea.  It signals that we have turned a corner into the final era of life.  No one aside from perhaps the clinically depressed wants to go there.  We want our lives to be vital for much longer than practical.  This may account for a good deal of the depression that afflicts the elderly.  It is the realization that you can not do want you really want to do.

When I see my younger friends going off to do things that seem like the type of thing I would like to do as well, I generally meet these times with a cross between jealousy and sadness.  I am jealous that they are doing things I can not, or because they are doing things for which I would not be included because I am not of the same age group.  Most my age seem to have family obligations that do not allow the freedom to run off on adventures like I can, so I feel a bit sad to know I have reached the point of being left behind.  I hasten to point out, I really could not do everything my younger friends do, but that doesn’t mean I would not secretly like to do them (or not so secretly sometimes).

There is much value in staying as young and vital as possible.  You can live a longer and more productive life.  When you start turning the corner of fall to meet winter, you will not find it so depressing if you have kept your good health.  Instead you will be able to still see adventure ahead.  If crossing 40, then 50, then 60 just means the opportunity for new and exciting things, then these will not be milestones to dread.  In fact they may hardly be a bump in the road.

Having cultivated friendships in many age groups, I now find that I can be in the company of those who are decades older on one day, and having fun with those who are much younger the next.  While a chronic condition has slowed me down a bit, it has not knocked me down at all.  If it does, I at least know some younger guys who can pick me up.  My contemporaries may have to let me lie on the ground a while until they can think of whom to call to get me picked up.  Therefore, we need to keep the young and strong nearby, if not indeed with us, at all times.  If someone, someday says I have not learned how to grow old gracefully, I think I will take it as a complement.

The Five Second Rule

Yes, I still believe in this rule.

SERENDIPITY

A few curious thoughts by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Admit it.  You have probably invoked the five second rule many times in your life.  Maybe you tend to do it when no one else is around, but you do it nonetheless.  No matter what some in society may say, you can not help yourself.  You may think it just a little bit evil, but you do it anyway.  You may even do it openly, not caring what others may think.  Don’t worry.  They do it too.

In case you are one of the few who have not heard about it and have not followed the widely disputed practice, the “Five Second Rule” is the belief that if you drop some food on the floor, it is alright to eat if you pick it up right away, say in five seconds.  While common sense may speak to you against such a…

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A life too short

For a few years in a row I have tried to explain the story of Grégory Lemarchal.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this three years ago, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 8th Anniversary of his passing (April 30), I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

An emotional life

Two years ago today, there was a tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It seems to be time we take another look at that tragedy as school shootings and deaths continue to happen.  This was written soon after the Sandy Hook shootings:

Taking desperate measures

Sometimes we are just at wit’s end.  The business of living gets so difficult that a feeling of exasperation washes over us.  What do you do in these moments?  What do you say?  What will relieve the stress?  Some people squeeze foam rubber toys.  Others go for long walks or get in their cars and go for long rides.  Some might lash out at friends or family although they may not mean to do so.

English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous ...

English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous edition of Rousseau’s works, after an original by Angelique Briceau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In moments of deep frustration I may have snapped at someone when I should not have.  I recall moments when I was not my best.  I usually feel quite bad if I raise my voice or say mean things.  People may not believe it at times when I am upset, but I really do try to keep my emotions in check.  What I say and how I react should be a measure of true feeling, and not some instant burst of emotion.  It is hard to live a carefully measured life.  It is an emotional world and many of us live an emotional life for which we have no good explanation.

I recently watched the fine PBS series called  “This emotional life.”  It examined the things that make us happy or sad, feel loved or unloved.  It also took a look at what makes us angry.  It showed how some react to certain situations with anger and even violence.  Interestingly, some people who exhibited antisocial behavior were not nurtured properly as children.  They may have gone without the touch of a parent or loved one with whom they could bond.  An interesting case of an adopted boy who had trouble accepting the love of his parents was also one where the boy lacked attention and personal care from others.  His orphanage had no time for that.  It took counselling and therapy to try to get him to love his parents back.  Being or feeling rejected even as young as infancy can have a terrible long-term effect.  In the final analysis however, we all want to love and be loved.  We all want to be happy, what ever that entails.  Although we can not really define it, we may spend a lifetime seeking happiness or fulfillment.

At some point most of us do stupid things out of anger that we regret.  We may or may not apologize for these transgressions.  We may or may not lose a friend over it.  We may or may not do something bordering on criminal.  Most of us will stop short of that, and that is what keeps society rolling along, even if on a somewhat wobbly tilt.  Then there are the few who have lost control.  Perhaps they did not get nurtured in the proper way.  Perhaps they did not benefit from good examples in their lives.  Perhaps there was a chemical imbalance in the brain that needed relief through modern pharmaceuticals.  Perhaps we just don’t know.

This week we were ripped apart by this: Charlotte Bacon, 6. Daniel Barden, 7. Olivia Engel, 6. Josephine Gay, 7. Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6. Dylan Hockley, 6. Madeleine F. Hsu, 6. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6. Chase Kowalski, 7. Jesse Lewis, 6. James Mattioli, 6. Grace McDonnell, 7. Emilie Parker, 6. Jack Pinto, 6. Noah Pozner, 6. Caroline Previdi, 6. Jessica Rekos, 6. Avielle Richman, 6. Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Allison N. Wyatt, 6.  These are grade school children and their ages.  They are innocents.  We do not know what they would have grown up to be.  Perhaps one would grow up to find a cure for a form of cancer.  Another may have taught children to be better people.  There could have been a girl here that would be leader of the free world.  There may even have been a boy who would have mediated a peace in the Middle East.  We will never know.  Why?  We may never know because there was a boy who grew up unhappy and troubled.  Something happened  that made his emotional life spin out of control.  Before taking his own life, he robbed many families of the most precious thing they had: their children.

The horrible nightmare that fell on a late fall day in a Connecticut school will lead to many hours of debate on gun control.  How did this troubled young man get these guns?  Who sold him the ammunition?  Were the proper background checks performed?  Did he have the proper permits?  Some will listen to the rhetoric and the subtle, or not so subtle, political undertones and wonder, “are we missing the point here?”  While the debate will rage on until it fades away in talk of  the pending fiscal cliff, the college Bowl season, or New Year’s Rocking Eve, will the actual issue ever be addressed?  What was it in this man’s life that drove him to such desperate measures?

While states and the federal government contemplate budget cuts that slash funds to mental health facilities and critical medical and psychological research, should we not ask where our priorities lie?  More police and stricter laws do not necessarily lead to less crime and punishment.  We need to be less concerned about the aftermath and more concerned about prevention.  I think back to This Emotional Life and the adopted child who was not given love as a child.  Although he was only a few years old when adopted, he needed a tremendous amount of help to get past the lack of love a child needs in early development.

When we consider providing for domestic tranquility, let us carefully consider what it will take to insure that as many children as possible grow up with the love and care that they need.  Yes, I know many will come forward to claim that it is not the role of any level of government to interfere with a family or tell people how to raise children, but is it better than to wait to punish those who commit horrendous acts upon our society?  It seems that when we formed this nation we also agreed to a social contract with government.  It is one well rooted in the philosophy of such thinkers as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  We made a deal with the government to protect and defend, to nurture and preserve our freedom.  One concept of government is to help provide a peaceful society that brings education and culture to all.  Another concept is to arm ourselves against one another and execute those who do not follow the laws.  Which society will you have?

To not grow old gracefully

It is often said that we should learn to grow old gracefully.  Those who do not are sometimes looked on with scorn.  Perhaps you may hear that someone should “know better at that age.”  What is it that we should know better?  Of this, I am not sure.  I just know that a lot of people have ideas in the back of their minds of what old should be.  For a long time I thought being like my father’s father was the way to be when you are old.  I guess that may be in part because I always thought of him as old.  Of course 30 seems old to a child, but from his 60’s to his 80’s my grandfather seemed about the same to me.  Everything was taken at a slow pace and with good humor and I could not see anything wrong with that, as long as I was not actually old myself.

Age Appropriate

Age Appropriate (Photo credit: skittledog)

Except for the eccentric few, society has notions of what you should do, say, wear when you get old.  For example, you probably should not shop for your clothes at the Gap or some other shop that pitches all of its advertising at the young.  If you do, you may hear that your apparel is not age appropriate.  If you can not shop at Neiman Marcus I suppose you should shop at Goodwill or some place that will have stuff for old guys.  If you still fit into your high school or college clothes, they may not be correct to wear unless you have irresponsible friends your own age who do the same.

Sports is not a good ideas for old folks either.  When you sprain your ankle playing touch football in the park, you may count on someone saying, “He ought to know better at his age.”  Worse yet will be if you break something.  That will be the point that people will try to find out what kind of help you actually need.  If you are past 50, they will no longer pass this off as some sort of midlife crisis.  Instead they will wonder if you have reached early senility and should be kept under constant surveillance.

If truth be told, most people approaching the supposed golden years may want to partake of a lot of activities they had to put off while doing that all important action of “growing up.”  Work, family and a whole host of post high school, college or military life obligations may mean postponing things you really want to do.  A little extra financial security, if there is such a thing in these times, and a little “empty nest” freedom may mean you are ready to go off and live a life you wish you had lived when you were much younger.

Growing old gracefully will not be on my list of things to do.  I intend to continue to play loud rock and roll in my car until neighbors think I must have the sound up that loud because I can no longer hear it.  Trust me I have never stood in front of a loud-speaker like Pete Townsend blowing my ear drums out, but I nevertheless like to rock and roll down the highway.  While I sometimes wish my neighbors would tune it down after midnight, I am not always certain the same applies to me.

There is another important thing to know that may not always appear obvious to the younger set.  Giving up on the things that we love to do is a scary idea.  It signals that we have turned a corner into the final era of life.  No one aside from perhaps the clinically depressed wants to go there.  We want our lives to be vital for much longer than practical.  This may account for a good deal of the depression that afflicts the elderly.  It is the realization that you can not do want you really want to do.

When I see my younger friends going off to do things that seem like the type of thing I would like to do as well, I generally meet these times with a cross between jealousy and sadness.  I am jealous that they are doing things I can not, or because they are doing things for which I would not be included because I am not of the same age group.  Most my age seem to have family obligations that do not allow the freedom to run off on adventures like I can, so I feel a bit sad to know I have reached the point of being left behind.  I hasten to point out, I really could not do everything my younger friends do, but that doesn’t mean I would not secretly like to do them (or not so secretly sometimes).

There is much value in staying as young and vital as possible.  You can live a longer and more productive life.  When you start turning the corner of fall to meet winter, you will not find it so depressing if you have kept your good health.  Instead you will be able to still see adventure ahead.  If crossing 40, then 50, then 60 just means the opportunity for new and exciting things, then these will not be milestones to dread.  In fact they may hardly be a bump in the road.

Having cultivated friendships in many age groups, I now find that I can be in the company of those who are decades older on one day, and having fun with those who are much younger the next.  While a chronic condition has slowed me down a bit, it has not knocked me down at all.  If it does, I at least know some younger guys who can pick me up.  My contemporaries may have to let me lie on the ground a while until they can think of whom to call to get me picked up.  Therefore, we need to keep the young and strong nearby, if not indeed with us, at all times.  If someone, someday says I have not learned how to grow old gracefully, I think I will take it as a complement.

A life too short

When I wrote this two years ago, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 7th Anniversary of his passing (April 30), I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

Much of Gregory’s music is blocked from sharing as I have done in the past. When you start the video, hit the Watch on You Tube link. Stick with it, they do bring the lights up on him at the chorus. While there are many performance videos available, this is from his only concert tour. He passed away the following spring.

Being alone

“When you’re alone and
Life is making you lonely
you can always go…”

Where? Where can you go when you feel lonely? Of course, there are just times you want to be alone. That’s different. People sometimes like to be by themselves. Perhaps they just want to read or listen to music. Perhaps they just want to meditate or pray. Perhaps they just want to close their eyes and relax without the distractions of sound all around. Perhaps some feel that yoga is best practiced in solitude. There may be many reasons that someone wants to spend a little time alone. In today’s super connected, social media charged world, you may just want to get away for a while. I recall going camping years ago to remote places where there was little to disturb the peace. We did not worry about getting a cell phone signal, simply because there were no cell phones. We did not feel lonely when seeking peace and quiet, but sometimes we were just alone.

What if being alone also translates into loneliness? What if you would like to be connected, but you are not? What if you have no cell phone, no desktop, laptop, or tablet? What if there is no cable, no satellite dish, no high-definition, no 3D, surround sound spectacular to “wow” your friends? In fact, what if there is a general lack of friends and family?

“When you’ve got worries
all the noise and the hurry
seem to help, I know…”

For some there is little social contact and many worries. What if you have to choose between the rent and your prescriptions, your electric bill and your phone bill, new shoes on your feet or something to eat? Will all the noise and the hurried-up modern world help? There may be moments when the bright city lights and the activities all around can steal away the worries, if only for a moment. What will there be to help after that? Are there enough social programs to help when loneliness and worry takes hold?

“Just listen to the music
of the traffic in the city
Linger by the sidewalk where
the neon signs are pretty…”

How can you lose? In a large city how can one possibly be lonely? The city itself is alive and enticing. There are beautiful parks and museums. There are theaters and concerts. There is nightlife every night of the year. There are sports teams and sports bars. There are those, however, who can not partake. A life event may have robbed the resources and the energy. As the baby boomer, post World War II generation ages, and their new age government works hard to limit their benefits, many have, or will, find themselves alone and lonely. Partners get sick and die. Friends move away. Family forgets. Jobs are lost to the economy or perhaps just to age. Retirement is not satisfying, and there is no one to catch everyone when they have nothing to fall back on.

“So maybe I’ll see you there,
We can forget all our troubles,
Forget all are cares and go…”

The organization AARP reports that 40 per cent of people over 65 live alone. A changing life event, failing health, disability, lack of funds may leave many of them lonely as well. What is to be done? I know what many of you are thinking. “He is NOT going to advocate the government fix all of this, AGAIN!” No, I am not. The plain fact of the matter is they can not fix it all. No matter how much of a safety net they try to build into society (and they should try), they simply will not be able to catch everyone. Besides, what resource, exactly, will help those who are alone and feeling lonely?

This is where we come in, literally. This is where we come through the door and make a difference. Loneliness can be dispelled by making sure our friends and loved ones are not alone all the time. That they have a social network. That they have family who will include them, even if it is just the “extended family.” We did not spend a lifetime attending family events and socializing with friends to leave them high and dry when they could not get out or could not afford a cab or even a bus to get somewhere. In the busy lifetime of starting a career, making friends, getting married (or getting a “life partner’) or raising a family, can we forget about those who raised us? The family and their friends who picked us up and put us back on our bikes should not be forgotten when they can barely walk.

As I firmly believe that what goes around, comes around, I should have enough motivation to help out. If I can answer someone’s prayer, maybe someone else will answer mine. I also have the feeling that a sense of duty has been lost by many of my fellow humans. There certainly was a time when family helped one another at all stages of life. The increasingly mobile society, of course, has put miles, states or even oceans between loved ones. So, I guess the bottom line is that we are in this together and should not leave any one of us completely alone or lonely. (Yes, sometimes you need to leave when the party is over, that’s different.) Perhaps now is a good time to reacquaint yourself with a family member you have not seen in a while or an old friend who has been out of touch. Treat them to something nice. It does not have to be expensive. Maybe you can just go Downtown.

“The lights are much brighter there
you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”

“Downtown” by: Ernest Drummond William, Tony Hatch
Copyright: Welbeck Music Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music Ltd, Sony/Atv Music Publishing (uk) Limited

The “what ifs” of life

Last year I wrote about the fears of addiction.  Hear again is a look into the daylight.

Daylight

“I never wanted to stop, because I don’t want to start all over, start all over

I was afraid of the dark, but now it’s all that I want, all that I want, all that I want

And when the daylight comes I’ll have to go”  – Maroon 5

We may see destructive behaviors in others or even ourselves and wonder why it doesn’t stop.  For example, you may watch people coughing violently, but then still go out to smoke.  You know it could kill them and armed with such knowledge you would think they would stop.  Most people know it too, but they can not stop.  Perhaps they are addicted to the nicotine.  Perhaps it calms their nerves in an otherwise stressful day.  Perhaps they can not see how they will be able to give it up, considering what they may have to go through to do it.  Surely it is worth the effort, you might think.  The smoker, however, can not see the light on the other side of the struggle.  They continue, perhaps, with all the good intentions of giving it up later.  Some pay a price much higher than the taxes that are constantly levied of cigarettes.

This happens in other areas of “addiction” also.  It could be alcohol or drugs.  Surely a life filled with hangovers and recoveries would be a lifestyle worth giving up.  The knowledge that over indulgence can ruin your liver or fry your brain ought to be enough to stop, you may say to yourself, but stopping one thing would mean you would have to replace all that time with something else.  What if  you could not imagine what that something else would be?  What if you think you are at least having some fun, and perhaps you will have no fun if you just stop.  Then what kind of life do you have?

Some people find themselves in abusive relationships.  The abuse could take many forms.  We may think that these people would run from these situations at the first opportunity.  We may find ourselves quite surprised when they don’t.  I am not talking about children who are easily manipulated, but adults who act like they are stuck.  Perhaps they are stuck, by the fear of the alternative.  If it is the only life they have known, they may not wish to attempt any other.

More startling are those who engage in self-destructive behavior by taking unnecessary risks that seem calculated to bring disaster.  Even worse are those that cut themselves or inflict other harm on their own bodies.  Why do they do it?  Are they mentally ill?  Maybe they are, or maybe they just are hurting so bad that the additional pain is nothing in comparison.  This may be the way of letting us know.

Some, however, may just want to die, so they feel any of these destructive behaviors are fine to them.  They may be calling out for help, or they may just see no daylight in their lives.  So why give this up when they see nothing else?  If there is no hope, there is no reason.  If you are afraid of what you will find in the daylight, you may wish to stay in the dark.  In recent years, we have seen teens, mere children, commit suicide because they had no hope.  Bullying and abuse may have hurt so much, that they could not take another day.  There was no “down the road.”  There was no daylight.  There was no “It gets better.”  There was just destructive behavior.

I do not preach at the smokers, aside from occasionally pointing out that my parents gave up smoking.  My father died of lung cancer and my mother had a stroke.  I recall growing up to ashtrays filled with cigarettes around the house.  As for other “vices,” I will admit to some overindulgence along the way.  I always think I would have to wear a guilty face to point out problems to someone else.  I do see things more clearly in the daylight so I tend to moderation a little more now.   Of course my doctor may not agree when he gets my cholesterol count.  I guess that means I should not have so many chicken wings with Sunday night baseball or football.

Crime generally takes a jump in bad economic times.  It is for the same reasons that we saw more gang activity in poor neighborhoods or among the poorly educated in the past and still see it today.  If you see no chance of getting ahead on your own, you may be willing to take the type of risks that go with crime.  Big cities can put task forces and gang units on patrol, but without hope the gang activity continues.  We see it end in violence for some.  There are innocent ones too who get caught in the cross fire.  If you can not walk out into the sunlight and have hope shine through, then maybe the fear of getting carried out in a body bag is little fear at all.

We desperately need to offer hope to those in fear of their addictions, their “friends”, schoolmates, parents, their circumstances in life.  We need to show that daylight is not something to fear.  The tough choice to leave a lifestyle you know can mean replacing it with something better.  “I never wanted to stop, because I don’t want to start all over, start all over,” but starting all over can be possible.  “I was afraid of the dark, but now it’s all that I want, all that I want, all that I want,” because that is all that I know.  “And when the daylight comes I’ll have to go,” but that should be nothing to fear.  It get’s better when you let the daylight in.  I swear to you, “It gets better.”

Where are the Death Panels?

The Affordable Care Act

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

English: President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the time of year when companies are rolling out their health care plans for the upcoming calendar year and my employer is no different.  Yes, I have a real job.  This column is just my occasional attempt at clever literary pieces or political satires bound to piss off my Republican friends.  After a few of my recent postings on facebook, I think I have less Republican friends, but I digress.  I received the 45 page booklet from the company that provides me with a desk, a phone, a computer and the opportunity to work in logistics and I am somewhat disappointed.  It seems that despite all of these pages they have left out a few of the provisions.

First and, I would think, most important is the failure to mention the Obamacare Death Panels.  Sarah Palin warned us about this and I think it is time we get a better explanation.  “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care.”  I do not think Mrs. Palin had to stand in front of the committee, but I think it is high time that we are told who are on these panels just in case we are summoned.  Perhaps it is just another one of those little details the Democrats will announce at the eleventh hour, but it should certainly be detailed in our healthcare booklets.

Of course, we were probably not handed the actual healthcare plan our employers are providing under the law.  Maybe they do not want to let us know what is really in store for us.  The company actually had the nerve to send out a memo claiming that we already had plans that were compliant with the new laws so we could expect little change.  Who do they think they are kidding?  We have it on good authority that these laws are going to cause such major disruption to American business that we ought to plan for the meltdown now.  After all, we see how thousands more banks failed, gas went to 5 dollars a gallon and Texas left the union after Obama started his second term, so who knows what further disaster awaits us in 2014.

“No pre-existing conditions limits for all plan participants,” our booklets are taunting us on page 4.  I don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas to see how that hurts business.  If people think they can get health insurance without worry of pre-existing conditions, what is to stop workers from changing jobs anytime they can find something better.  Is that fair to industry?  It is the fear of not being able to get insurance again that has kept people in their places, and if you do not have insurance now, what makes you think you should ever have it?  This Obamacare nonsense is clearly messing with the playing field.

“Medical Plan and Prescription Plan co-pays, co-insurance amounts and deductibles must count towards the medical plans annual out-of-pocket maximums.”  This is a sly attempt to confuse us with numbers.  At the present time my prescription plan co-pays do not count toward the out-of-pocket amount so there is nothing to be adding up.  As a person with multiple prescriptions I am certain that the evil government regulators know that the more things that count toward our out-of-pocket maximums, the more confused we will be, and the more confused we are, the more dependent we will be on big government to do our thinking.  It is a rather perverse method of mind control, don’t you think?

“No annual limits on essential health benefits” is also being teased to us on page 4.  I think you are beginning to see that they have crammed as much of the bad stuff as possible on to this page 4 in hopes that we would not notice, but we are too smart for insurance companies and HR people.  How can we possibly control the excess population if we are not going to limit benefits?  I truly believe that this goes right back to the Death Panels!  They will decide what are essential health benefits.  I sure hope they decide the way Sarah would.  You know the old saying, “What would Sarah do?”  After all, what is essential to Sarah might not be essential to the Death Panel.

There also seems to be vague references to the Gay Agenda pushed by liberal Democrats.  I am not sure if Obamacare includes this or not, but we seem to be covering partners or spouses “same-sex or opposite sex.”  It is as if these left-wing radical HR people think that all men are created equal.  I know a few gay boys who think that, but that doesn’t count for anything.  This so-called march of progress just needs to be reversed and I think that Sarah is just the guy to do it!

Our company has also not addressed the issue of lay-offs.  In fact, they are suggesting that quite the opposite is true.  We should be hiring more people in the coming year.  It is one thing to hold back on us, but quite another thing to be telling us lies.  I have been hearing for the last few weeks that Obamacare will be causing the loss of jobs at companies all across America.  I have it on good authority from credible sources like the Heritage Foundation, FOX News, Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Ted Cruz, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and others that many fine Americans will be unemployed because of this law.  I am not going to fall prey to the misleading reporting of the lefty rags like the Washington Post, LA Times, National Journal or even the NY Times or Wall Street Journal.  Perhaps our company is planning on having openings created by Obamacare and that might just go back to that Death Panel thing again.  As a person with some supposedly expensive prescriptions, I think I should be worried about these Death Panels.

Editors note:  Mrs. Palin does have a special needs child so that part of her example is certainly not hypothetical.  The Death Panel reference is another matter entirely.