About Small Town Boy

I've lived in the Midwest all my life and spent most of it in small towns and cities.

Look for those who help

Sometimes the news is hard to watch. Terroist bombings, mass shootings and natural diasters deserve the coverage, but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on the horrifying or the shocking.

Like others, I watched the damage caused by a pressure cooker bomb killed and maimed runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon few years ago. I remember watching Mr. Rodgers from PBS’ Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood. The reporeter asked how he would help a child cope with such news. He said he would tell them not to look at the carnage. Look for the people who are running in to help.

As a culture, we gnerally rally to help those in need. If look for it, you can find people and organizations who immediately act whenever there is a need. People from around the country have hooked their boats to there trucks and headed to Houston to help,

The advice was meant for children, but it should work just as well for all ages.

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Small Town Dancer

No one has ever asked him why he dances with a leaf rake, but all who have watched marvel at his enthusiasm. He spins, leaps and twirls the rake, all while people inside a neighborhood grocery store watch him perform.

“He does almost every day,” says the teenager behind the grocer’s cash register.

“Why does he do it?” a woman holding two shopping bags asks.

“How knows, but it sure is different,” said a man holding a six pack and waiting in the checkout line.

And on it goes in the small rural town I live in. The young man dances with a rake looking as if he is unaware of his neighbors watching him from across the street.

 

Make it legal

We now have 28 states and the District of Columbia with laws permitting some form of legal marijuana use. As a result, more than half of our country’s population now lives somewhere that allows legal use of pot. In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before we will have to address whether it should be legal nationwide.

The problem with state’s legalising pot is it is still illegal at the federal level. Due to the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is classified as a schedule one drug, which puts it in the same category as heroin.

Considering the problem we’re having with heroin use and the number of deaths it has caused, I think this needs to be changed. As far as I know, we’ve never had a national problem with pot overdoses.

Since the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, doctors have found there are medical reasons for people to use marijuana. It has been found to help people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and pain. I have friends who have used it to deal with arthritis pain and problems sleeping. They have found relief and are very thankful they can get what they need.

It is time we end the prohibition and make marijuana legal. Then place high taxes on it and use the revenue to take care of our nation’s debt.

 

 

New perspective thanks to mishap

A broken leg has given me a new perspective on what people who live with physical disabilities go through. Over the past month I’ve learned how difficult it can be to accomplish even simple tasks, such as going to the bathroom, or getting a cold drink from the refrigerator.  Just overcoming a few steps on a stairway can become a major accomplishment. I’m not asking for sympathy. I know in a few weeks I’ll be able to walk on two legs.

As I’m writing this I can’t help but think about a man I know who needs a walker to get around, yet he makes it to our local YMCA five times a week to exercise. You can hear him coming down the hall to the room with the stationary bikes, elliptical and weight machines. He climbs on one the bikes and proceeds to slowly pedal for 20 minutes. He then trudges to the elevator to go to the swimming pool to get in a few laps.

Like many others, I have found 100s of reasons I can’t make it to the gym. Too busy. Too tired. Don’t feel like it. I’m sure the man I’ve described has to find ways to motivate himself just to get through the day.

As the saying goes, you can never completely understand what someone goes through in life until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I have no idea if I’ve actually gone a mile with my walker, but it has given me a fresh outlook and respect for those who go through their entire lives with disabilities.

Depression is more than just feeling sad

I know what it is like to suffer from depression. It goes beyond the normal human emotion of sadness. It takes you down so deep that you don’t care if you live or die. At times, as it did with actor and comedian Robin Williams, you feel the only way to escape is to take your own life.

Yes, I have been suicidal. I’ve given up hope of ever feeling happy or feel anything at all. I concealed my problem through the use of drugs and alcohol. Call it self-medicating. Other coping methods I’ve tried include working long hours and staying constantly active in order to keep from dealing with my problem.

To say someone who is depressed is just sad is an insult. Unless you have experienced it, there is no way for anyone to know what it’s like. It is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a disease, one that kills thousands of people annually.

Through the love of my family and therapy, I’m now able to live a normal life. Yes, I still have a nagging fear that it may someday come back. It is a fear I will have to face for the rest of my life.

Robin Williams’ death is making a big splash in newspapers and on cable TV news channels. For short time, experts will be brought out to talk about depression and the myths that surround the disease.

My hope is that Robin Williams’ death will create a greater awareness of the disease. My wish is that it will make people who know someone suffering from depression better understand the disease. Help is available, but people who suffer from depression don’t look for it. For them, there is no help. That is why it is important for friends and family members of depression suffers to understand the signs and what needs to be done.

One source of information is www.managingdepression.us.

If you are someone who is suffering from depression and reading, please reach out to someone. Help is out there. As long as there is life, there is hope.

 

About to attend 40th class reunion

Will attend my 40th high school class reunion this weekend. Unlike the times when I attended earlier celebrations, I find myself not caring if I impress any of my former classmates. The passage of time has made me more comfortable with who I am and what I’ve accomplished. I am finally at peace with the fact that I have failed more often than I have succeeded. I take comfort in that I at least tried.

 I suspect I’m not alone in this attitude. I admit that as a young man just getting started, I often compared my status with others. I felt smug when I learned I was doing better than some and inadequate when I found I had fallen short when measured to another’s accomplishments. I know that sounds shallow, but those were the feelings of an insecure younger man.

 Now that I’m retired, I find myself spending more time focusing on my blessings. Driving an expensive new car or owning a large house in an expensive neighborhood no longer matters. The house I live in with my wife, two dogs and two cats holds wonderful memories.

 There is a doorframe in the kitchen with marks and dates next to them that tell us how tall our son was at different times in his life. We even have two marks for a close friend of his.

 Family photos and certificates of our son’s achievements cover the refrigerator door and sides. My home office has a corner cabinet covered with photos and knickknacks collected over the years.

 All the things I’ve mentioned might be junk to someone else, but to me they are treasurers. They bring back memories that make me smile. Sometimes my wife will walk in while I’m reminiscing. We share a moment that only two lovers who have spent a lifetime together can.

 As I told a friend of mine during breakfast, I really don’t care how my former classmates see me. I’ve kept in touch with good friends who accepted me for who I was and who I am. I consider them a blessing, too.

 Wisdom comes with age. Just wish I could somehow go back in time to tell my younger self not to worry about what others think. Everything is going to turnout okay.