Around the Airport

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thoughts on a Memorial


Photo - Rod Reilly
 
What makes a good man great? The building blocks, what are they? The answer defies me.
Have you ever known someone who was subtly and inexplicably different from everyone else, and in a good way? Can you explain why they were?

Sure, there are good people out there; the way your daddy is or was a great man. The best father on the planet. Yet, most likely, he isn’t the Merriam-Webster definition of great that eludes me. Instead, he, like many others, exist as bluebirds in spring. Look for them and you’ll find one; a unique specimen, a bright spot on the day, but not the birds on my mind.

Perhaps the perfect definition of a great man is one that is itself undefinable. It’s merely something you understand without thought. That’s most likely it - I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.

Ron Alexander was such a man. His memorial provided the proof.

A varied range of people, great in number, is not driven to span latitude, or longitude, for a man of succinct definition. Migrations of this type occur only when undefinable forces compel souls to move - forces they feel, and must honor.
 
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The Ship

What is dying
I am standing on the seashore, a ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says: "She is gone."
Gone!
Where
Gone from my sight that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
"She is gone"
there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
"There she comes!"
and that is dying.


Attributed to several authors



*The poem above was something Ron was known to send to friends who were suffering through great losses.





 

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Stuff Things Are Made Of

Stuff. My life is stuffed with it. Hell, some of my stuff is stuffed with the stuff. It’s a constant problem for anyone attached to things.
Things have a way of generating stuff that relates to the things your life is stuffed with. If you have a passion for history or machinery, God help you. It’s the stuff insanity is made of.
Insanity was famously said to be, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Being passionate about old things, each time I bring some new stuff home I expect it to go differently. “This time the project will get done,” I think, and Ginger loses her stuffing. “What the hell do you plan to do with that thing?”
You see there’s some sort of physical law associated with stuff, or was it things? But then again, how would I know? I’m insane. The results prove it.
Realizing my handicap, some time ago I decided to remove the things stuffing my life. Those I could sell for enough money to stuff a mattress would be sold. Those that reminded me of friends would get stuffed into boxes and sent to them so that they could deal with the thing. And those that were worthless would be offered to anyone whose wife was not yet fed up with stuff lying on their things. It was a great plan.
An idea born of genius often puts a new kick in the step of its creator. That’s what happened to me. Suddenly, all this stuff was exciting again. The things nagging my conscience became the stuff dreams are made of. The image of friends excitedly opening boxes and placing the thing with the rest of their stuff brought a smile to my face.
One thing after another was stuffed into my car, driven to the post office, and shipped away. It was a magical time. People would drop by the airport for some friendly conversation and before they could swing the prop I’d say, “Hold on, I have something you might want.” Of course they wanted it. There was no “might” to it. They were aviators. Much like their cousins, Crows, they liked shiny things and couldn’t fight the instinctual urge to stuff their home with another jewel.
Away they’d fly with a thing I felt perfect for them. Inside our house each newly unencumbered shelf represented a friendship strengthened. The selfless act of stuffing other peoples homes, with things that had once stuffed my life, continued to put a new kick in my step - right up to the day I tripped over something on my step. It was a box stuffed with things.
Several days later, I was an expert on Crows. As it turns out, members of the Corvid family like to keep their stuff. In fact, they’ll often hide their things where they believe the Magpies down the road would be least likely to look. If they think the Ravens are interested, they’ll put them under lock and key. My friends, it turns out, are no Rooks.
What then was the reason behind the box?  A second inspection revealed a carefully worded hand written note stuffed nicely alongside a well-worn Stearman part. This set my ever-investigative mind to work recreating the scene.
The gesture had obviously been a big production, and I knew there was only one reason a man would do such a thing. Writing the letter, then thoughtfully placing both items into a stuff delivery device, was one act, of an animated play, produced for his wife who was tired of his things. That night, he probably ate steak. A few days later, I got tuna.
“Where are you going to put that?” Ginger asked. “With the rest of my things,” was the obvious answer. “But I thought you were getting rid of stuff,” she said, smartly, as my mind wandered.
Admittedly, this was nothing new. My mind had occasionally pondered the notion of living a minimalist lifestyle. Moving from one city to the next, the door would ring, and I’d say to the movers, “Put it over there with the rest of the stuff,” pointing to a small singular pedestal upon which sat a single vase, holding a single orchid, placed perfectly to highlight the white walls and my lack of a life. Each time that’s when I fall in love with my things all over again and consider renewing our vows. “I swear to lug you around for no particular reason and always come back to you at some time in the future, so help me God.”
Coming out of the daydream, Ginger had already moved on to another of my cherished deficiencies and all was right in the world. The briefly bare shelf was again encumbered with stuff, and my plan was falling apart. Over time, one after another, more stuff came in to replace all the things I had given away. The stuff wasn’t thinning but my workload was increasing. It had to stop.
Currently, I am no longer giving things away and am rethinking my formula. It is my hope, if nothing else, it will be discovered that these things are the dark matter making our universe expand at an ever-increasing rate. On the other hand, maybe the universe is expanding to make room for more things? Yes, I suppose that could be the explanation why there is always room for more stuff. It could also explain where the things I can never find go. Accelerating exponentially, eventually they zip away in a flash of light, not to be seen until they make their way through a wormhole and are found in the neighbor’s garage.
Whatever the answer may be, my friends and I now have things with a story - our stuff connecting us the way things always have. People who can’t let go of yesterday, carrying all these things, into the future, so the people of tomorrow have a reason to build shelves.




Author - Rich Davidson