Tag Archives: Kennedy

Other Things

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Yesterday, I wrote “Dog Comics, Part I.” Of course there needs to at least be a follow up,¬† “Part II.” I even have plans for “Part III.” If the dogs continue to make me laugh, there may be a whole series.

Not today, though. Today, I’m not in a comical state of mind.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It barely made the news. Well, I don’t have television, so maybe it did. It did not show up on my headline page when I went to Google News, Yahoo News and BBC News. I saw just a couple mentions of it on Facebook. Those of us that remember that day are older now, and fewer.

It’s a sign of our age, and our generation, to remember those solemn, scary days. The voices of newsmen, breaking with emotion. The images that played out over and over on television: processional cars suddenly speeding away;¬† Jacqueline’s blood-covered pink suit; little John Jr.’s noble salute as his father’s coffin passes by.

I was in grade school when Kennedy was shot. Before I graduated high school, television news had reported on the shooting deaths of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, and four unarmed students at Kent State University. Newspapers were daily showing graphic images of the war in VietNam. Friends, acquaintances and classmates were among the casualties. Death became a normal facet of life.

For the next generation, the big, memorable, horrible occurrence was the Challenger disaster. The generation after that saw the Twin Towers come down. And there are many young people out there who have no living memory of that horrific event, though they have grown up in a world changed by it.

I was eleven years old when John Kennedy was shot. I didn’t know how to put in in perspective. I had nothing to compare it with. I was too young to form the questions that I wonder about today. Was it as awful as it seemed to be, when I was eleven years old? How about the soldiers that fought in World War II, that liberated the Jews from death camps, that experienced the bombing obliteration of much of Europe, that saw the after effects of nuclear warfare…did they have perspective? And how did it compare?

All I knew, at age eleven, was that it changed my world.

 

Messages

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Hmmm…

I am setting out today to write about messages.

The ones that come out of nowhere, that point you in a certain direction, answer a question or reassure.

I have downloaded the above photo three separate times. It continues to post sideways.

I took it – a skim of ice over a puddle in a leaf-strewn path – this morning on my walk. In my mind, and then in my camera, the lines run horizontally, like waves. Calm. Serene. Soft waves contrasting with the hard yet fragile ice. Genius, really. In my mind anyway.

Here, sideways, the serenity is gone. In it’s place, there is some kind of wild, unnatural shimmy happening.

A message? I wonder.

I am reading You are Not so Smart by David McRaney. The subtitle includes the phrase, “and 46 other ways you’re deluding yourself”.

One chapter is about “the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy”, which is the tendency to ignore random chance when the results seem meaningful or when we want a random event to have a meaningful cause.

Remember all the parallels drawn between Lincoln and Kennedy after the assassination? Mr. McRaney reminds us:

  • both were presidents of the United States elected one hundred years apart
  • both were shot and killed by assassins who were known by three names with fifteen letters total
  • Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln
  • both were killed on a Friday while sitting next to their wives, Lincoln in the Ford Theater, Kennedy in a Lincoln made by Ford
  • both were succeeded by a man named Johnson, born one hundred years apart

Amazing, right?

Not according to this author. After citing many even more wondrous and spooky examples, he explains it all away. “Imagine a cowboy shooting at a barn,” he says, “over time, the side of the barn becomes riddled with holes…” If the cowboy studies the patterns and then paints a bulls-eye over the area where there is the greatest concentration of bullet-holes, it will look like he’s a pretty good marksman. That’s what we are doing, he says, when we pluck similarities from history, ignoring the differences.

Another chapter deals with Apophenia, which is the misconception that some coincidences are so miraculous, they must have meaning.

Not so, according  to this author.

“Coincidences are a routine part of life, even the seemingly miraculous ones. Any meaning applied to them comes from your mind.”

Bummer.

I may have to set this book aside.

Chapter after chapter, David McRaney seems intent on taking the fun out of life.

I’m not one to bet my life savings based on the alignment of the stars, but I get a lift from a good horoscope reading.

I love synchronicity!

I am heartened by the occasional miracle.

I firmly believe we should pay attention for signs from the universe.

I watch for arrows to point me in the right direction.

I look at every fortune cookie as a chance for new awareness.

Once, in the middle of a particularly sad and lonely winter, I received a card in the mail. It was from Amnesty International, asking for a donation. That’s not important, though I’m sure they do great work.

The card said, “Do not be discouraged. You are not forgotten.”

It was exactly what I needed to hear!

I love Richard Bach’s book, Illusions, and the idea of a handbook that would, when opened randomly, always give you the correct guidance at the exact right time.

This morning, tidying up before a little trip, I moved a box of cereal from its usual spot, in order to wipe down the counter. When I went to retrieve it, the message came clear. Next to the little ceramic votive holder that says “Treasure Each Day” was the Cheerios box, reminding me to “Smile.”

I may not be so smart, Mr. McRaney, but I know a good message when I see one!Image