Stark Trek on my birthday

The first Enterprise

Every year, Chris asks me what I want for my birthday. I usually say, “Nothing, I’ll just be glad to get up that morning.” My latter years and the fact that I’ve been here to enjoy them have taught me that less is more when it comes to recognizing your blessings. I remember when I was much younger, something material, with its craftily built-in obsolescence was what I had to have on my birthday. Thank God for allowing me to develop a little bit of wisdom along my journey.

Wait a minute, I don’t want to leave you with the idea that I‘m a died-in-the-wool minimalist. I’m just more judicious about things as I’ve gotten older.

If you’ve been following me, you know that I’m a Trekie at heart. I’ve been following this entertainment franchise since the first TV series came out in 1966. I’ve seen every TV show and movie multiple times. I have an impressive collection of the TV shows and movies on DVD. I wait with bated breath each time I hear of another movie or TV show coming out that extends the travels of each new version of the Star Ship Enterprise to some unchartered corner of the galaxy. With my affinity for Star Trek made clear, guess what happened this year?

Enterprise D

There have been three seasons of a TV show called Star Trek Discovery, which chronicles the adventures of a crew of space travelers before the time of Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, and the rest of the crew on the first Enterprise (NCC1701). Discovery is a unique vessel in several ways, which I won’t get into here since I’ve already shown enough of my nerdiness. For the last couple of years, I’ve waited until the fall of the year to purchase the full season of the show on DVD. I refuse to pay for the privilege of watching it on the Paramount Network (pay TV). I’ve got enough pay TV already. Furthermore, this is a CBS network, and the only thing I would want to watch on it is Star Trek Discovery. I can usually catch the rest of what comes on Paramount on the so-called free broadcast. Since we have cable, no TV is free.

Star Ship Discovery

I haven’t forgotten the question I posed a couple of paragraphs back. This year the Star Trek Discovery last season episodes came out on my birthday, July 21. Can you think of anything more fortuitous than that? Or maybe it was more by design? No. It was fortuitous. I’m sure.

Shifting into binge mode…

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

How’s that walk, that race, that journey going?

Often, the life each of us lives is metaphorically referred to as a journey. We enter our life as a tiny being, not being conscious of much, but even that point is the start of a journey. As soon as we become self-aware, we begin to make decisions am I going to eat that stuff they’re trying to feed me or not; am I going to walk today or not. Each decision becomes more complicated as we move along the path of our lives. As we get older and become more aware that our status depends on how prepared we are to live and thrive, serve others and be a part of a greater whole, we hit our stride. Unfortunately, some of us never seem to be able to hit our stride. Do you know a forty-year-old who is still trying to figure out what they want to do when they grow up?

The Apostle Paul in II Timothy 4:7 states, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Of course, Paul is referring to his life of preaching the gospel and carrying out the commands issued him by Jesus Christ. He’s near the end of his life and he’s in line for all the heavenly rewards expected of one who has been a faithful follower of Jesus.  I’m a believer in Jesus and I can certainly identify with Paul’s statement; however, let’s look at the issue of considering life as a journey in another way. Let’s look at the title of this piece and ask yourself the question it presents.

I would like to think that most of us do give some thought to why we’re here. I would also like to think that most of us conclude that we’re here to be the best human being we can be. In pursuit of that goal, we consider development of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually as critical. If we are an all-round well developed human being, we would naturally think of service to others. We would see a sense of community as important. We would keep watch for people who are placed in our path as an opportunity to serve, even when we might think a particular person has all that one could imagine, material wise.

I’ve heard it said that we’re not here to just take up space. Interestingly, that phrase assumes that there’s never a need for someone to just take up space. I’m challenged to think how that function could ever serve a useful purpose, but who knows.

You may be like me, at a point where there’s more life in the rear-view mirror than through the windshield. If you are, you probably are taking an occasional retrospective of your journey up to this point. What service have you provided? How many times have you said no when you should have said yes? If your creator judged you today, what would the verdict be? Come on, you know the answers to those questions. I’ve never taken a test in school where I didn’t have some inkling about how well I’ve done before the teacher passes out the grades. One thing I remember about school is that I always had an opportunity to improve, depending on where I was in the term. Although we don’t have a clue about when the term of our life will end, we can improve the quality of our journey if we still have blood running through our veins. Grandma Moses was born in 1860. She began painting in earnest at age 78. She had a remarkably successful career in the arts. She died in 1961. I’m certain she had no idea she would have the length of time she did creating works of art for the world to enjoy.

If our self-examination indicates that we need to make some adjustments in our journey, it’s never too late to make those adjustments. We already know what must be done. We just need to do it. It’s our walk to take, our race to run, our journey to enjoy. I think Nike said it best: Just do it!

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Life isn’t an “I” proposition

There are people in the world who act as if the globe, the solar system, in fact the universe leans and depends on them to function properly. From my observation, there seems to be more of these misguided souls among us of late, than we should have to endure. We’ve just been relieved of one of these persons from the highest office in our land. As I look at others in government and other supposedly positions of service, that individual wasn’t the only one who doesn’t understand the pronoun “I” should be used sparingly in thought and action.

In a recent Sunday school lesson, the Apostle Paul was quoted in the book of Romans as follows, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Paul was a very educated person, who probably had the experience and qualifications which would have given him more right to speak in first person; however, did you notice how he was quick to insert humility in the previous quote. He wanted the early Roman church to see him as one of them. Any edification that would come from his visiting them would be of mutual effort, not through the loftiness of his person.

We live in a time when we are constantly bombarded with commercial advertisement in volumes far too much to digest. Have you found yourself replaying some commercial jingle you’ve heard on TV, and couldn’t tell anyone what the commercial is about? You faintly remember it had something to do with some product that would make you a better person in some manner. Maybe it’s just as well that you don’t remember a lot of the details of much of the mundane stuff, we’re expose to on TV commercials. Think about it TV commercials are often telling us that something’s wrong with the “I”. The “I” has bad breath, bad body odor, messed up hair. The list of malfunctions in the “I’s” life seems enumerable, but if you want to repair them, use this or that product. One thing that’s not highlighted is the built-in obsolescence that’s a part of these products. You must keep on using them to function properly, be presentable, be a better “I”.

It’s hard, next to impossible to not speak in first person. Someone asks you what you do. You know that classic question which cuts right to the heart of what “I” likes to hear. The question sort of prompts you tell what you do rather than who you are. You answer with some ridiculous response letting the questioner know that you have a highfaluting title in that organization in which you’re employed. From that point you and the person you just met are engaged in exchanges (not meaningful conversation) that make it sound as if you both run the organizations in which you work by your lonesome. What if your response had been something like, “I serve as the whatever, and I work with team of people who…”? The glorious “I” is still being used; however, it clearly understands that an island it’s not.

We’re all dependent on others. Without others, none of us would be. I’m a son, a grandson, an uncle, a husband…because of my relationship with others. I can’t do anything, be anything without relationship. Living and living successfully requires the “I” to recognize that and to act accordingly.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

P.S. I’m old and blessed not of my own actions alone. It took the actions of God and everyone He put in my path to get me to this point. I couldn’t have done it alone. Confession: I’m still working on suppressing the wonderfulness of the “I”. It’s a life-long process.

A prayer to see and taste apples

Apple Tree Spring 2020

I can distinctly see and hear a prayer I made twenty-one years ago that came on the heels of receiving my multiple myeloma diagnosis. Of course, being a new patient, I had no idea of the possibility of being around today. In the solitude of our bedroom, I asked God that I be allowed to live to see all of my children grow into adulthood. My oldest was twenty at the time, the middle child was eleven and the youngest was eight. That prayer was answered. Not only do I have three grown children to love, but I also have seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. This is a far different picture than the fleeting comment I made to myself back in the early seventies while I was in college. Then I couldn’t see myself with children, and I said I wouldn’t have any. I think the struggles my mom experienced rearing my sibling and I convinced me that I didn’t have the strong stuff for being a parent.

I know this might sound impious, but when I prayed that prayer twenty-one years ago, I was setting a goal for God, or maybe for myself. It couldn’t have been for myself because I had no power to make it happen. Somehow, I felt that living toward a point in my future gave me something to journey to. I would do all within my meager means: follow doctor’s orders, eat right, exercise, be available for any new treatments that could prolong my life despite the horrible disease that had invaded my body. Of course, my efforts paled in comparison to what God would do. Setting a goal for God, sounds silly on the surface doesn’t it; however, isn’t that what we do when we ask for something from Him?

Two years ago, I was out at a garden nursery looking for some plants to start the annual spring sprucing up of our place. We live in one of those neighborhoods where builders bulldozed all the trees and erected houses. I’ve always thought that was a little shortsighted. Home buyers had to plant trees after moving into a house if they wanted the beauty and shade that comes with them. We had moved from an older neighborhood with an abundance of trees before buying this place. The fall of every year presented me with more leaves to rake than I could before winter approached. I would find myself finishing up a few leaves in the coming spring. The thought of having to do that in our new place was too much, so no planting of trees for me. Well, while at the nursery, I spotted some young apple tree seedlings.

Apple Tree Spring 2021

Something came over me when I saw the apple tree seedlings. I thought at that moment: Here’s another opportunity to present God with another goal. I’m getting on up in age now, and I often wonder how all the medications I’m taking to fight the cancer is taking a toll on my body. However, through it all, I’m convinced that God is keeping me. With that faithful understanding, I prayed: Father, I’m going to buy one of these seedlings, plant it in our back yard and I ask that you bless me to see it produce apples. I want to see the fruit and taste it. I later found out that apple trees take anywhere from six to ten years to bear fruit, after planting the tree. Ten more years of productive living sounds great for an old multiple myeloma warrior like me. A retrospective of my life shows me that God has been providing fruits for me to enjoy on enumerable occasions.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Nobody said the pandemic was over

Lately the news has been disheartening, as usual. Stories about the rise in gun violence across America, in small towns and large metropolitan swaths, have caused me to ask the same old question: will we ever embrace peace? Currently, it seems as if the last year and a half of dealing with the pandemic has fueled folks up with frustrations of all kinds. Tolerance levels are at their lowest. Any little act, any little remark can cause some of us to suffer an emotional eruption, spewing a variety of violent acts, resulting in bodily harm or worse death.

Recent news has reported that there’s an unwelcome resurgence of covid-19 numbers. The Delta variant, more virulent than its older cousin, is causing tallies to rise in my state. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has reopened its covid-19 care area, preparing for an expected influx of covid-19 patients.

Arkansas and other contiguous states Louisiana and Mississippi have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. For whatever reason, some people just don’t see the need to get a covid-19 vaccination. I read an article in our state’s largest newspaper this morning about a young mother who just had her first child. See saw no need to get the covid-19 vaccine, contracted the disease while carrying her child. She almost lost her life. Her baby is still in the hospital.

People across America are anxious to get back out there and start trying to reclaim some degree of the normalcy they enjoyed back in 2019. They want to go to movies, parks, museums and all the places where public fun is had. The politicians and businesspeople are hankering to accommodate all who want to get back out there, regardless of what dangers might await an anxious pubic.

Suffice it to say, Chris and I haven’t been rushing to assist in filling the restaurants, movie houses, and other commercial establishments here in Little Rock that seem to bring such joy to many folks. Amazon has become a good friend over the last year. Of course, even purchasing stuff online that we probably don’t need, since we’re not going to many places, seems a bit wasteful. However, one thing has been made clear to us and probably to many Americans is that we don’t have to leave the house to purchase many of the things we want and need.

Out of all the things have been going on the last few months or so, one thing has been quite impressive, the short development time for delivering vaccines for the virus. As soon as the vaccines became available, we took them. We didn’t assume that because we were vaccinated, our masks could be discarded. That face covering is still attached to our faces whenever we find ourselves in a public place. We’ve both had covid. No one needs to convince us that being safe versus sorry is wise.

A few days ago, I had to take the car I drive to have the air conditioning repaired. When I drove into the service center, the first thing I noticed was that no one, customers or employees, were wearing a mask. I might have looked strange, but that was okay. Everyone in the place was conducting themselves as if the pandemic were over.

It looks like covid-19 will be around for a while yet. It also looks like our behavior will assist in making  that so.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

What’s going on?

The title of this piece is taken straight from the 1970 song by the late, great Marvin Gaye. I can in no way stake claim to it. For those of you who are familiar with the lyrics, Marvin goes through a litany of social ills being experienced by the world at the time: too many mothers crying, too many brothers dying, picket lines, picket signs, young people being judged for having long hair, punishment being brutally meted out, no communication to find common ground for reasoning…

To those of us who have open ears and eye, the ancient scriptural saying of there’s nothing new under the sun is brought home, if we live beyond 40. History teaches us that we rarely learn the lessons life places directly in our path. Whenever I listen to Marvin Gaye’s song it’s as if all the pain, confusion and social dysfunction of that time is being recycled. Or maybe I’m not taking a broad enough view of things. Maybe things have improved just this side of enough. What do you think?

I’ve witnessed a lot of suffering in my lifetime, too much of it caused by hatred of others, insensitivity to the needs of others, and just downright ignorance of who the person is who’s been before you for years. Oftentimes, we want from others what we’re too afraid to give: a smile, a few minutes of dedicated listening, a moment when the person you’re perfunctorily socializing with can truly feel that you see them. When you see someone, you’ve intentionally allowed each word, each communicative movement they exhibit to paint a picture of who they are, who they want you to perceive about them. As I tap my keyboard, I must confess that I’m a long way from being good at what I’m talking about, most of us are guilty as sin in this area. However, are we supposed to reach a point of perfection at this stuff? Isn’t it supposed to be a process marked by mile markers of improvement along life’s journey? After all, we can’t take a one-size, one-model approach to dealing with our human counterparts. Right?

When we see someone, we connect with them and we realize they are mothers, fathers siblings and that they bleed, as do we. These folks who serve familial roles, also serve in sundry roles, view the world through various lenses, heck they even brush their teeth differently. Given that diversity, shouldn’t each of us grant each of them, when we come in contact, the amount of dignity and respect we would demand for ourselves?

How does this headline grab you: Swimming caps for natural black hair ruled out of Olympic Games? Yeah, I know this probably doesn’t rise to the level of contention Marvin was singing about in his song, but something tells me that a lot of time and energy is going to spent on this decision. I don’t know why, exactly, the Olympic officials decided to ban swim caps that are made specifically for black hair; however, consider this: the Spedo50 caps traditionally worn were designed for white swimmers to keep their hair from flowing into their face while swimming (Dannielle Obe, founding member of the Black Swimming Association). Some Black swimmers hair grows up and out, requiring a differently designed cap to prevent it from interfering with the aerodynamics of moving through the water in the most efficient manner.

Fifty years after Marvin’s classic song, we still spend too much time on issues that will never build us up.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.


I can’t remember the first time I heard the phrase; Ignorance is bliss. I do remember for a long time I didn’t understand exactly what it meant. When I did understand, I thought it was somewhat comical.  Images of people meandering about in this oftentimes dangerous world of ours happy as field larks, oblivious to what might befall them provided light-hearted relief to what many of us had to deal with in the real world. Now, at the age many consider to be elderly, I’ve come to realize that ignorance is a real and present danger.

I was reading an article in the paper this morning about the spread of the Delta variant of covid-19, and how it’s making headway in infecting considerable numbers of people in areas where there have been low numbers of vaccinations. One of those areas is the state in which I live, Arkansas. Far too many young people have chosen not to be vaccinated for God knows what reason. If they’re like a few young people I know, they probably think they’re impervious to the possibility of contracting covid-19. There are some people who are convinced that the vaccine is worse than the disease. Whenever I read about some people equating the covid-19 vaccines to experimentation the Nazis carried out on unsuspecting enemies of their state, I cringe to think just how ignorant that characterization sounds. I don’t know about you, but I fear this level of ignorance associated with a microscopic enemy that has taken the lives of almost 4,000,000 people globally as I write this piece.

For four years, ignorance in the United States has caused us to be in a state of division far worse than any time since the Civil War.  In 2016, ignorance of many people in our country made them vulnerable to the flimflam talk and self-serving arguments of a would-be politician, who probably had never read the Constitution. People who needed help from the federal government were moved to vote against their own best interest. All it took was for them to hear about enemies from within and without; you know brown folks from south of the boarder and other folks who don’t look like them living next door. When people are sinking lower on the socio-economic ladder, they need information to make good decisions about their lives, not incendiary speeches that get them emotionally agitated to the point their ignorance morphs into stupidity.

This may not be an example of just how dangerous ignorance is but consider how it might have led you down a prim rose path if you believed it. P.T. is known for coining the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Consider this: Rochester Institute of Technology professor Nicholas DiFonzo described in his 2008 book The Watercooler Effect, that Barnum’s biography could not verify this attribution at all. Rather, it was likely that a banker named David Hannum from Syracuse, New York who said it. I don’t like writing blogs much longer than 500 words, so I invite you to look it up in the Library of Google.

I’ve seen many people in my lifetime who have allowed their ignorance to cut their lives short. The doctor says do this and your health will improve. They choose to follow some path that makes no sense at all, and they expire far sooner than the God they serve wanted them to. Speaking of God, misinterpretations of ancient scriptures, in all world religions, have caused untold amounts of hatred and so-called holy wars than I care to go into.

I think ignorance is too often dangerous and should be feared more. What do you think?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

A father: Is it always a man and “his” child or children?

I posted the following piece three years ago, in honor of Father’s Day. I thought I would post it again. Although the dates in it are three years ago I think it works for today. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!


It’s June 16, 2018, the day before Father’s Day. I just finished some reading, but while I was doing so, I sensed my mind wandering off into the topic of fatherhood. We all know that words have many meanings. One of the more basic meanings for the word father, I just Googled is: A man in relationship with his child or children. I was struck not only by the sheer economy of phraseology used in this definition, but also by what seemed to me the objectivity of it. There’s no qualitative measure assigned to it. It simply states a man is in relationship with his child or children. We all know something else, don’t we? There are excellent fathers, good fathers, all the way to men who one wonders why they were  blessed with the ability “sire” (not father) a child?

Let me return to the statement about my…

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Micro things

Dictionaries commonly define micro as extremely small. When I think of micro, my mind conjures up images if things that can only be seen with an electron-microscope, too small for the eye to naturally perceive. Of course, most of us know there are social situations that are appropriately defined using the prefix micro. Of late (recent years), we hear the term micro-aggression being used to refer to the isms that plague our society. Stories where people of color are confronted with various comments, actions that pierce to the very heart of their being by someone who is troubled, it would seem, by their very existence on the planet. For example, asking an Asian American where they’re from or informing them that they speak English well, without assuming that they were born in Kansas and grew up next door to Dorothy.

Before I poor any more words unto this little blue screen, let me confess from where the prompt for this blog comes. Last evening, in our living room, my oldest child, my middle child, my better half (Chris) and I were sitting around talking. Of course, we couldn’t have done this a year ago; however, we’ve all been vaccinated (two shots) and we feel comfortable socializing as in days of old. Somehow our conversation meandered into politics, racism, and a few other topics that many families forbid being broached at the dinner table, for fear of familial civil discord. One thing we got bogged down in was whether minorities can technically be defined as racists, or would the term prejudiced be more accurate. The prevailing definition of a racist speaks to one from a socially predominate group who has power to deprive someone of another group of life, liberty, etc. because of their race, ethnicity. I’m not going to divulge the full dynamics of our lively discussion hear but let me just say I was troubled by the bridge of life experience that divides our generations.

As I think back to twelve hours ago, I can see that much of our conversation dealt with microaggression, and the degree of sensitivity each of us has to it. We even had a labored discussion about whether Black folks should speak up when uncomplimentary things are said about white folks in a conversation among Black folks. This stemmed from what is often thought to be the reluctance or uncertainty of some socially conscience white person to do the same when they find themselves having such a conversation in a group of white folks.

At almost 71 years of age, I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve gone from a time when Black folks couldn’t go to a lot of public places; to being granted entre’ to many of those places; to being granted the opportunity to pursue many of the material things that don’t define happiness well; to experiencing life in ways that my grandparents and great grandparents couldn’t even imagine. And now, it seems there are forces afoot that want to turn back the clock to a time when they thought America was great. Anger, confusion, disgust, exhaustion is but a few of the deleterious emotions that just won’t go away.

I started this piece with what I thought to be a clear direction of where I was going, but do we ever really know where we’re going when we talk of isms and micro aggressive behavior that too often accompanies them. Our conversation left more questions than answers, but that doesn’t mean it was worthless. I’ve heard many times that this conversation needs to be had in the public square. I agree. But it must be a conversation with no end. The conversation must be a part of a process that encompasses families, neighborhoods, regions, the entire country. Will we feel good, having it? No. But we can’t have gain without pain.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Sooner or later

We live about equidistance from three Walmart stores in Little Rock. I often shop at one more than the other two; however, I do switch it up occasionally, sharing my hard-earned retirement cash with all three stores. Some time ago, I found myself in one of the stores going through checkout and realizing most of the checkout lanes, normally operated by humans had no humans stationed there. The store had installed several self-checkout lanes. More of them by the way than the ones requiring a human to operate.

When I first noticed the addition of more self-checkout lanes at Walmart, I remember thinking that one day I’ll have to check myself out. The image of me having to checkout a week’s worth of groceries and various household items myself didn’t seem very appealing. Shortly after my experience of noticing the increased number of self-checkout lanes, I placed a post on Facebook about this. Many of my Facebook friends were troubled by the idea that they would have to check themselves out some day. One of them even said, “I’ll politely leave the cart full of groceries and walk out of the store.” That seemed a bit extreme to me. I reminded them of a time when we enjoyed personal service at auto service stations. These were wonderful places where you drove up, and someone uniformed in an outfit that displayed the brand name of the oil company immediately came out smiling and asking you what they could do for you today. There was no need for you get out of the car. That unique experience faded like vapor a long time ago. We’ve been pumping our own gas and checking our tire pressure for decades. It would seem strange if someone suddenly appeared when I drove up to a gas station, asking me what’s my pleasure.

I got out of the house early this morning and made my weekly trip to one of my Walmart stores to buy groceries. I normally do this early to beat the crowd. I often find myself navigating through stockers replenishing goods on the shelves; however, that’s okay because there’s normally not a shortage of any merchandise early in the morning. I’ve been noticing a steady, albeit small, increase in prices for many of our staples over the last few weeks. News reports have informed us that the production of many things is reduced and supply chains aren’t operating as they did pre-pandemic. I understand this, and I have adjusted, allowing us to keep our grocery bill about the same as it was a year ago.

Then it happened. As I made my way to the first checkout lane there was no human. Looking down at the other lanes, I saw no human at any of them either. All shoppers, who had finished selecting whatever they needed were lining up at self-checkout. Emotionally, I felt something that almost tempted me to do as my Facebook friend told me she would do. After spending a good forty-five minutes or so filling the cart, I couldn’t see myself leaving the store without my carefully selected goods. Don’t let anyone tell you the registers are programmed to be intuitive for all things. Everything I removed from the cart had a barcode on it except the produce. I needed some assistance from the friendly attendant, standing by with the produce. After showing me how to look up cabbage, bananas, apples, and few other things without barcodes, I think I can do it next time.

I have a confession to make. I didn’t feel good paying more for groceries this morning than this time last year, while receiving less service. I mentioned to the lady behind me that it was shameful we’re paying more but getting less service. She smiled and said that’s true, but we shouldn’t be upset with the employees, because it’s not their fault. I wouldn’t dare mistreat the employees. Most of them at Walmart are very pleasant no matter the level of service they’ve been charged with providing customers. Sooner or later more changes will come, leaving products in the cart, and walking out of the store isn’t a nice option. Some nice employee, who might be high teched out of a job soon will have to put your stuff back on the shelves.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.