Ripple

Ripple used to be a cheap wine that hippies drank when they were smoking doll way back when. It’s not the Ripple I’m talking about. The Ripple I want to talk about today is the song by the group that is considered the iconic San Francisco acid rock band: the Grateful Dead. I am been a Dead fan since 1969 or so. I remember seeing the band at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago July 4, 1970 where they came on stage at about midnight and played till nearly 7 AM. That was quite a Fourth of July party!

My favorite Dead album is American Beauty. One of the songs on that album is called Ripple. The music for that song was written by Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist for the Dead. The lyrics, which is what I want to focus on here. were written by the lyricist for the Dead, Robert Hunter. In my considered opinion, Hunter, along with Jim Morrison of The Doors and Keith Reid and Bob Dylan were the poets laureate of my generation. A hundred years from now they will be teaching these guys in American literature classes, or in the case of Reid, English literature classes. I am not going to print out the entire lyrics of Ripple here. If you are interested in reading the lyrics, click here. And if you want to listen to the song, you can click here.

To me, this song expresses the hippie philosophy of life better than anything else I have ever heard or read or see. According to the song, life is a road that we travel alone. The road of life is unique to the individual. Others can serve as guides, and as the song says “if you fall, you fall alone.” Continue reading

Confronting the Past Lucky 13

Today is my 68th birthday! Yes, happy birthday to me. Thank you! In honor of my birthday I have decided to go back to the Confronting The Past  series. This is a rather momentous year for me. First of all, I turned 68. Second, it has been 50 years since I graduated from high school [by the way, happy anniversary to all the members of the class of 1966 at UM HS.] Third, my wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in a couple of months. Fourth and last, by the end of the year all my children will be 20 years old or older. In my book that makes them adults. So, assuming I live to the end of the year, I will have lived long enough to see my children grow up. Not too shabby!

 

One of the advantages of age is that you are supposedly wiser than you were when you were young. Whether that is true in my case or anyone else’s is open for debate; when I’m going to assume that I have gained some wisdom in the last 50 years. One of the responsibilities of wisdom is that you impart that wisdom to others. After all, what good is anything if you don’t share it with those you care about? So here goes.

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Confronting the Past Part Seven

In the time that I’ve been away (see facebook for reasons) I’ve had time to give this series a lot of thought. Talking about some things in my past may not be all that edifying or even relevant to anything anymore, so I am going to ignore those areas. Some things that I -am- going to talk about may offend some people from my past. Unfortunately, that’s unavoidable, and hopefully they will understand and forgive me for any negativity.

When I was growing up, I was pretty much both a religious and political fundamentalist. It was not until I got away from home that I started really thinking for myself. To a certain extent, that is true of most people growing up. We are the products of our immediate social and cultural environment. In some ways, I was lucky that my mother died while I was a senior in High School. It was her death that actually set me free, although it has taken a lot of time to realize that. Much of my life has been spent trying to fill the emotional hole that her death left in me. It was not until I met Elizabeth in 1990 that I found someone who could fill said hole. Also, much of my life has been spent searching for, for the lack of a better way to express it, my own personal sense of truth. [I suggest you read my article “What is Truth” on my christianheresiology site to understand what I’m trying to say here] Truth is not objective; truth is relative to one’s position on the space-time continuum. It’s like the old Indian fable of the blind men and the elephant, what you see and what you know depends on where you are and what part of the elephant you perceive.

My search for truth has led me all over the place, but these meanderings have always followed the same two rivers. Religion, and politics, in the broadest sense of both cases. The failed marriages, the many different jobs, the multiple career paths are all nothing more than bends in those rivers. With an occasional waterfall or two.

What I have learned over the years of my meanderings is that we create who we are and often recreate who we are. I know I’ve gone through several manifestations of who I am in the 65 years of my life. I can honestly say that I am extremely happy and at peace with who I am. That person is so far removed from the person I was growing up that I seriously doubt most of my High School friends would really have any idea of who I am unless they have read my Facebook page or my blogs. In the next few posts, I will talk about my meanderings from fundamentalism to… Well, I’ll let you decide what you want to call where I am.

Confronting the Past Part Four

I’m going to off on a little tangent today before continuing my memoirs. One of the problems that I see with contemporary American society/culture is the fear of getting old that permeates everything in our society. In traditional societies, and as someone with a fair amount of anthropological training I feel I am qualified to say this, the older you get the more revered you are because, as even a Western adage says, with age comes wisdom. In these traditional societies it was the Elders that provided the advice and council which determined the direction that society took. It was the role of the Elders to pass-on their wisdom to the younger generations- The children. And because of their revered status, the Elderly were not shunted off to some form of nursing home or senior center. Rather, they were an integral part of the family and the community as a whole. This is a lesson that I have stressed with my children for years now, I have no intention of dying in a nursing home. I want to die at home, in my own bed, surrounded by my family.

The problem with the way we deal with our elderly, besides the fact that we make them feel useless and lonely, is that our young people do not learn how to deal with death. My near-death experience caused Michael to have some serious psychological issues, that is something we are working on. He has learned too much the modern aversion to getting old and therefore to dying. Dying is as much a part of one’s life as birth is. Whether death is the end of everything or the doorway to a different level of existence is up for debate. I have my own opinions that it is more the latter than the former, but I am not here to convert anybody, so I leave you to your own beliefs.
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Confronting the Past Part Three

I want to talk about my parents a bit, after all, who we are got started with our parents. Whether we approve or disapprove of them, they are the primary builders of our reality. My mother was born in a little town outside of Stuttgart, Germany. My maternal grandfather was a tailor and my grandmother was a housewife. They had three children, my mother was the middle child. I suspect that her family had been in that area since Neanderthal times XP.

My mother was born in 1923. That means she grew up during the height of the Third Reich. I never really had a chance to talk to her a whole lot about that period in her life, all I do know is that she did, out of nessecity, belong to the Hitler Youth for a time. However, my grandfather was, and always, a Christian Democrat. He never joined or supported the Nazis and ended up doing a couple of stints in Nazi Labor Camps for his views. As I have said in posts elsewhere, my grandfather is one of my heroes.
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Confronting the Past Part 2

I seem to have given some of my former classmates the wrong impression in my last post. I am extremely happy and flattered that at least some of my classmates from High School think enough of me and my writings to re-establish contact with me. The main reason for even talking about this is one of my “faults” that I developed after High School is that I have become brutally honest, both with others and with myself. I feel that having managed to stay alive for sixty-five years entitles me to speak my mind and not worry about whom I offend.

Anyway, I was born in Germany in 1948. I was three years old when my family moved to this country. We first lived on a chicken farm in New Jersey for six months and then we lived in an apartment in South Philadelphia for six months while my dad worked in a mattress factory. Then he got a job at a tool and dye factory as a punch-press operator and we moved to Jenkintown where I started Kindergarten in 1953. In the middle of the school year in 1957, when I was in third grade, we moved to Willow Grove. That was momentous for me and my brother.

In Jenkintown, no one seemed to even notice our accents or cared that we were immigrants. However, the situation was much different after we moved. My brother and I were ridiculed constantly and frequently were called Nazis, something that bothered me immensely. I’ve never really talked to my brother about it so I have no idea how he felt about it. My brother and I are very different in a lot of ways and we handle things differently, let’s leave it at that.

I spent a lot of years being bullied, and I guess that’s why I was so shy and reserved. It was not until my Junior year in High School that I even started to come out of my shell. My senior year I emerged a bit more but it was not until I went off to college in 1966 that I really stopped being Bernie and became something else.

One of the major events of my Senior year, perhaps -the- major event, was the death of my mother in an automobile accident while my dad was driving home from the grocery store. I freely admit I was a momma’s boy and the loss of my mother really threw me for a loop. There are several weeks after her death that I have no memory of. The last thing I remember before the blanks is my mother’s funeral. I went to pieces emotionally and it took quite some time for me to regain my composure. I sometimes wonder at the fact that I was even able to finish my Senior year as well as I did.