Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday October 31, 2005 Another bloody month

90 young men died this month in Iraq bringing the total deaths to 2,024.

Our war in Iraq, our war against drugs, our war on poverty all have something in common: they continue without success. We are great at starting but are poor at finishing. These young men were asked to sacrifice their all and they trusted their leaders to make sure their sacrifice was in a good cause. They accepted their orders in good faith that what they were asked to do would help protect their families and their country. We need to make sure that their efforts aren't wasted in a wrongful cause.

We have discovered that the initial reasons we were given that resulted in our preemptive invasion of Iraq were flawed, perhaps misleading and maybe even prepared lies to insure that the war would take place. The emphasis has shifted since the invasion took place and now the words are all about bringing freedom to the people of the region. Many of the people of the region are killing us and don't seem to appreciate the freedom we have brought them. Perhaps we shouldn't be there.

The question that still lingers in my mind is: If it truly wasn't about weapons of mass destruction and imminent danger, what was it truly about? Was it revenge directed toward Saddam? Was it all about the oil? I don't believe that it was about bringing freedom to the people, otherwise we would invade North Korea or some of the countries in Africa where people are really suppressed. What other reason to invade Iraq other than the assets they had that other countries didn't have?

How many more young men will sacrifice before we decide that this really isn't worth it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wednesday October 26, 2005 What, me worry?

As my daughter so aptly expressed: The only person who can make you happy is yourself. There is deep meaning in this phrase and it is absolutely true. No matter what trials and travails you face in your life, it is up to you how these circumstances affect you. You can wallow in the mire and say "Poor me!" or you can look to the hope of a brighter future. As long as you keep looking forward and try to find the joy in the moment, you will have a good life with few regrets. It's easy to forget this when a tragedy strikes nearby, but it is essential for you to keep your head up and keep on going. Many songs and many poems have said this basic truth over and over again and we all, at times, seem to overlook it. We get so concerned with the bump in the road that we forget to see where the road is leading us.

I have always considered myself to be a "lucky" individual and much of this is due to looking for the good in each situation that confronts me. Life can be very interesting and the path you eventually wind up traveling isn't always the path you thought you were going to follow, but it brought you to here and you have choices from here on out which way to go.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday October 21, 2005 A bit of my history

Many years ago, when I was young, naïve and very foolish, I fell deeply and completely in love with a wonderful girl. We were 20 and 18 when we married. We had little idea of what it took to make a life, but we willingly took our chances and started on the path. We played the roles that we thought society demanded of us. We looked to others for examples and followed as best we could, with little instruction and less introspection of what we really wanted.

I was willing to sacrifice whatever it took to make our marriage work. I set aside my family, my education, my friends in order to devote myself to us. My goals for future career had to change to fit the circumstances and I made the most of what I was able to do at the time. All that mattered to me was our love and our future together.

I worked hard at the opportunity at work that was available and advanced as far as I was allowed to. We had two daughters and we bought a house and worked to make it our home. I thought that we had done well to establish ourselves and that we had a plan for the future.

All that fell apart when my wife asked me to leave our home so that she would have time to sort out her thoughts and feelings. I was apparently oblivious to her unhappiness with our life together. I thought all was right with the world, but not so for her. We had had no discussions about this, so it was a surprise to me. I was dazed and confused when I moved in with my folks temporarily. During that time, I offered to go to counseling with her, but she said that I could go if I wanted, but she didn't need or want it. She was visiting a psychiatrist at the time. Within a few weeks, she had filed for divorce. I was dumbfounded and very hurt and confused by this. I offered to sleep in the basement while we worked out any problems, but she wanted me out of her life. I talked to her psychiatrist and he told me that I couldn't make her love me, no matter how hard I tried. When I talked to her about that, she told me that she had never really loved me, but that I was a way to get away from her father. She told me that I was a good husband and a good father but she couldn't live with me any more. When she told me that, it hit like a ton of bricks. I was completely destroyed. I loved her with all my soul and she didn't want me in her life any more. Where was I to go and what was I to do?

We were married 13 years when the divorce was granted. I could have fought and stalled but I wanted her to be happy and there was a burning hope deep inside that we might someday reconcile. I was an empty shell for a long time after that. It felt like my whole life had fallen apart. I had lost the love of my life, my daughters, my home, my dogs – everything I had worked for. I tried very hard to keep contact with the girls steady after that so they would know that I still loved them and that they were not involved in the problem. All direction was gone from my life at that time – my goals and efforts had been so finely focused on our marriage and our future and now I had to refocus on something else. I focused on the girls and on my family who gave me much support during those difficult years.

All of a sudden my career and advancement wasn't of such major importance without someone to share the gains. I had a few years of wandering and waiting and enduring the loneliness and despair to pass through. Eventually, I bought a townhouse and decorated it, but got little satisfaction from that. When Mom had her larynx removed due to throat cancer, I moved home with her and Dad to give as much help as I could. I was able to focus on helping them. After she adapted to this loss and she and dad seemed to be getting along pretty well, I quit work and traveled about the country to help me see things more clearly. It helped me become more content with myself and with what life had brought to me. I became closer to my daughters during this time. After the trip, I settled down at home with mom and dad and work. After mom died, my focus switched to my father. We became very close friends, leaning on each other for support and counsel. We took some trips together and watched out for each other.

Dad died this year and I find myself alone again. My daughters have become my friends, but they have married and moved away. My sisters and brother are very close friends and we get together every week. I retired early last year, partly to help dad as his health was slipping. I also thought we might be able to get in a few more trips before his health failed completely. His death came quickly and with a minimum of pain to him. Now I have the daunting challenge of refocusing on something else. I'm not sure yet upon what or who to focus, but I'm hopeful that time will provide an answer. Right now I know that I face some time of despair and loneliness again.

I have my family, who love me, to lean on and that helps when the anguish builds up inside, but it doesn't fill that empty kernel down deep inside that yearns to share. In my quest for self, I had learned that doing for others and giving to others gave me the most joy. I didn't need wealth or power or “things” to make me happy – I needed to share myself with someone who cared. Seeing the joy I could bring to a loved one gave me the greatest pleasure. This is what I search for in my life – to help my loved ones when I can and to bring them joy.

I also found out that you can't destroy love. Once you really love someone, you can't just turn it off. No matter what they do, you still love them. I still love all the people I have ever loved. I now try to limit my love to people that I trust – this helps avoid the deep pain when the people you love turn away.

They say that time heals all wounds, but I'm not sure about that. With time, wounds will build up some pretty tough scar tissue, but the memory and the scar of the wound is always there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wednesday October 12, 2005 Albuquerque Ballon Fiesta

It was cloudy and cool, but it was spectacular. Every year they have a baloon fiesta in early October with hundreds of baloons and it is a sight to see. People come from all over the world to see this event. The field is about 4 football fields long with a walkway and concession stands along the full length. There are hundreds of picnic benches set out for people to sit at and there are large grassy areas where people can spread out their blankets and have a picnic. In the morning, they have a mass ascension right after sunrise. In the evening, they have an evening glow where hundreds of baloons are tethered, but lit up with the glow of their burners.

The people in Albuquerque are very nice and the event is well organized. There were over a million visitors during the 10 days of the event. Well worth watching! Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Monday October 3, 2005 Hello from sunny New Mexico

The only problem with New Mexico is all that air pollution - the sky is full of baloons!

It's time for their annual baloon festival. Each day for a10 days there are about 700 baloons that lift into the air - mostly in the morning when the wind is slight. At night, they keep the baloons tethered but light them up with their hot air jets. They also have fireworks. Thousands of people from all over the world come to see this event and the traffic can be quite heavy. Each morning from my daughter's patio we can look out toward the mountains and watch the baloons drift above the city. They have different shapes and colors. It looks really peaceful watching the baloons slowly rise and drift along then descend. With little wind, even the landings are nice. We watched a baloon descend onto a school soccer field right next to the highway and it came down gently with the basket staying upright until they started letting the air out of the baloon. Weather is nice this time of the year. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 50s - low humidity - very pleasant. Many of the homes here are built in the adobe style with block walls covered with stucco and flat roofs. The block/stucco construction really helps moderate the inside temperatures of the homes. Debb's home seems to stay in the low 70s day and night without the need for heating or cooling at this time of the year. The aridity and lack of forests is quite a difference from Kansas City, but they have the advantage of not having to care for a yard of grass - most houses have rocks and shrubs that are native to the area and need little water.
At night the sky is clear and the stars are clearly visible (the city trys very hard to control light pollution). You can stand outside at night and see the Milky Way. It's a great place to visit.