Monday, January 21, 2013

Things I Learned In 2012

Well, we made it through 2012, and we're still here. It was an odd year... an unusual year... a different kind of year. Some good things happened, but I don't think I'd like to do it again. Much like eating native cuisine from India, it was interesting - but once is enough. So to sum it up, here's my review of the last year...

Things I learned in 2012:

• The end of the world was more painless than I expected.

For all the hype, it sure was a disappointment. You'd think the end of the world would at least tease us a little, even if it's a fake. You know, throw us something unexpected. Multicolored meteor showers. A volcano erupting in the middle of Lake Michigan. Or even a Kansas City Chiefs playoffs win. Just anything bizarre and unusual. But no... nothing. I think somewhere I hear a Mayan laughing. Their civilization didn't really disappear, you know. They just made it look like it did, and are living among us today. Having just perpetrated the biggest practical joke of all time, they're now holding secret meetings to share the laughs among themselves. It's their version of reality TV, just on a bigger scale. Well played, Mayans. Watch out for those Hollywood offers.

• The election.

That's about all that needs said about that. Politics seem to have sunk to new sub-aromatic lows in recent years, and as an American patriot I am becoming more deeply concerned all the time. Without taking sides or getting too detailed about it, I would sum it up with this: Are these really the best candidates we can muster these days? Both sides have produced less-than-stellar, propped-up versions of a 'leader' for our still-great country. I don't think I'm alone in saying I wouldn't vote for either one of these guys to sit on my local school board, much less to take the helm of this powerful republic. Can't we raise up from somewhere a powerful, genuine, God-fearing American champion with the sense and wisdom to renew our cause? Someone who can lead us back from the smoldering, tangled remains of our late night insanity to the glorious sunlight of freedom where we once soared? Purple mountain's majesties, pilgrim's pride, amber waves of grain, God blessed and powerful, land of the free and home of the brave... does anyone else miss that place? I sure do. ...Sigh....

• Tattoos and piercings.

Oh my goodness, I never thought things would go this far. Let me put this in perspective for you: When I was a teen in the late sixties and early seventies, there was some really bizarre stuff happening. We were growing out our hair and beards... wearing beads, sandals, multi-colored striped bell bottoms... and tie-died everything. We had leather headbands, wristbands and jackets with fringe. Chains and belts. Paisley shirts with bloused sleeves. For men. (Look it up, it's worth the entertainment factor alone). Peace symbols, rock and roll music, revolution and discord. We were rebels. But after a few years the aging experience kicked in. We gave up some of our revelry and walked away from it. We took off the bizarre clothes, put the crazy accessories in the back of the drawer to show our eventual grandkids and cut our hair. Well, at least tamed it a little. And that's what kids do... something different and shocking, rebellious and unique, making a statement - like every generation has done since Adam and Eve first woke up one day to the discovery of a new species on the planet called 'teenager'.

But today the madness has moved into the realm of ink and needles... and lots of hardware. Kids, and adults, are transforming through various epidermal canvases into multicolored cartoon-like caricatures and multi-surface cyborgs. Tats, rings, gauges, chains, stitches and snake bites. These are some of the most bizarre, artistic and creative expressions to date - some real eye openers as well as some shockers - but still no different than young people of any age... just expressions of individuality that help set them apart from previous generations. Nothing wrong with that... except...

This time the expression is permanent. You can't walk away from the tattoo... not easily anyway and certainly not completely. Plus, a hole in the face is still a hole in the face, no matter how long you let it heal. It will always be with you. The generation today will someday want to move on, as we all did, to the next level and a new plateau. Leave behind a memory of youth's rebellion and become the new in-charge young adult and ultimately middle-aged and elderly leaders of the times. But imagine my generation, if we had been unable to shed the striped, multicolored bell-bottoms and the wide-collared purple paisley shirt (I had both, by the way.) and had to wear that image forever. I'd say we'd look pretty ridiculous like that today, like an old rock band revue or a 3 a.m. visit to an urban Wal-Mart. Scary.

And I know none of them think so now... but someday these young people are going to wish the ink and iron they carry around now could be peeled off and left behind like we did, only it won't. They are convinced their expressions, statements and appearances will be 'really cool' when they are older... but trust us who have been there - it won't be. The next generation will have something new and yours will look silly and old to them. And the generation after that will do it again... and so on. I like the art, and some of the expressions and creativity, and even some of the rebellion... I just wish it wasn't going to be stuck there for the rest of their lives. Maybe if I wore my old hippy clothes for a few months they'd get the message. Now where is that old tie-dye kit of mine...

• The last matching date of my lifetime

Ok, this one is kind of silly and trivial, but it's still true: 12-12-12 was the last all matching date of our lives. That's it, it's over, we'll never see it again. We didn't gain anything by seeing it this time, except to say we were there. It's kind of like attending a Trekkie convention - you can tell everyone all the awesome things you saw but no one really cares, it just gives you a little warm, personal sense of accomplishment. But it's our accomplishment. So go ahead, get that 12-12-12 tattooed somewhere, to tell the world "I was there." Put it next to NCC-1701.  See which one gets the most compliments.

• The heat wave

The summer of 2012 brought record heat, and let me tell you it was hot! I have always liked the heat, but this year was crazy and it kicked me in the rear for several weeks. We had a new pool and an acreage to run and play, but there was just too much heat to endure. The pool was above ground, and the water got too hot to swim. Too hot to swim... did you catch that? The water lines feeding our house are buried about a foot deep in the yard, but the water was heated enough at that depth to get a warm shower from just the cold faucet. Didn't use the hot water all summer. It was almost too hot to ride in my Mustang convertible. Notice I said 'almost'. It's never too hot for that... but it was close. So we spent a lot of the summer inside. Bummer. Maybe this year will be nicer.

• Blessing and challenges

Even with some very tough challenges 2012 still had some of the biggest blessings. After five years on the road we bought a house again. We have a new granddaughter. Our first one is growing like a flower and they're both infinitely prettier. Our two grandsons became teenagers in 2012... look out  world here they come! Another of my children reached adult age... this time a son.

If there's one lesson 2012 taught us it's that life keeps moving, and if we don't learn to ride the waves of time we'll surely sink in the depths. Boards up!

Overall, the year was blessed, but more like the new undergrowth that comes from a spring thunderstorm. No one likes to endure the storms but that's where we grow, and like a mighty oak we are tested and strengthened in the winds of adversity. As unusual as 2012 was, there is a sense of foreboding, that greater changes and challenges are ahead. If 2012 was there to prepare and align us, I pray we learned our lessons and set our sights firmly ahead.

Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013 - may you treat us well!

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