Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Along A Road He Had Never Traveled

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year.  Maybe it's like riding a bicycle, and I haven't forgotten how it's done.  Or maybe what we've been told about riding a bicycle is wrong, and I have forgotten how.  This is where we find out which is true or, if just maybe, both are false and something else is true.

It's Christmas morning, 2018.  Warm for Christmas morning in north Alabama.  The sounds I associate with long ago Christmas mornings, kids on new skates, kids learning how to operate new toys, kids laughing and playing, have been replaced by nothing... nothing human that is.

An hour ago, as I filled the bird feeders and scattered peanuts for the squirrels and "Baker Street" (three groups of blue jays who love raw, in the shell Virginia peanuts) the only sounds I heard were me rattling the bird seed can and Baker Street warning the squirrels to stay away from their peanuts.

The Christmas sounds of kids playing outside with new toys only exists in my mind and maybe in a parallel universe that isn't running close enough to this one for me to access this morning.

For me, the only bit of Christmas past that seems to be part of this Christmas morning is the last paragraph of Wallace Stegner's short story, The Traveler.  I've pasted it below, but before you read it, you should know this, these words have the power to become a permanent Christmas memory for you.  These words could even erase any feeling of loss you are experiencing around the absence of the source of your childhood Christmas memories - Now, if you are willing to risk that, read on:

"Along a road he had never driven he went swiftly toward an unknown farm and an unknown town, to distribute according to some wise law part of the burden of the boy's emergency and his own; but he bore in his mind, bright as moonlight over snow, a vivid wonder, almost an awe. For from that most chronic and incurable of ills, identity, he had looked outward and for one unmistakable instant recognized himself."  


Merry Christmas!

21 comments:

  1. The first step is the important one. Merry Christmas Bert

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    1. Merry Christmas back to you my friend. BTW, expect an answer to your letter in the next few days - it has been on the way to you for a couple of days now. All my best to Rupert and the rest of your beautiful family.

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  2. I have discovered personally that the talent of riding a bicycle can indeed be lost. Skating is just as perplexing if not done in many years. Balance indeed is a physical thing and can be taken away. Is this what is meant by the phrase, "You lose it if you don't use it.."? I am learning many discouraging things as I age...
    The most discouraging thing of Christmas for me is the sounds of all the electronic devises children and adults give and receive... The sounds now heard were foreign but are becoming the standard. No imagination anymore, less physical play of children as they sit glued to a screen with headphones or earplugs at times to prevent turning the sound down for the comfort of those sharing the same space.
    The only part of Christmas that remains sacred is the few hours families meet up to share conversation and food... Those times are most precious.

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  3. I understand. I've spent a good portion of this Christmas day answering mail from friends. I find that almost as rewarding a face-to-face meet up. Have a great rest of the day and a magical New Year.

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  4. Merry Christmas, have a great New Year, Bert, from some of us at, "The Rally Point".

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    1. I owe my friend, Jack Durish, for introducing me to Rally Point and Rally Point to me. I'm going to "jine up." Merry to you all and to all a good night.

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  5. Today our extended family of 22, ages from 9 to 75 will sit down together to share turkey, ham and the trimmings. We will be missing a key member of our family, but will share the day nonetheless.. Hopefully without screens.

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    1. Judie,
      A day together without screens, that's a sure formula for the memory book and I'm sure it will happen just that way. Thanks for the comment and all my best to you.
      Bert

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  6. Thank you yet again Bert; your timing is always superb. A warm and sunny day here in Santa Rosa as well. This is the 7th Christmas without my son, John and nothing is the same since he left...........except the beautiful memories. God Bless my friend.

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    1. Thank you for sharing John. Though I wasn't fortunate enough to share his company, I will treasure his memory because you have made it clear what a light he was, is, and always will be.

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  7. That last line rivals Round the Bend's. I definitely don't think you've forgotten how to blog, either!

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    1. Well, not the first time you've made my day. Have a glorious day after Christmas my friend.

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    1. I'm pleased you and enjoyed the words and took time to comment. Have a wonderful day - all of them.

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  9. Bert, Some of the best memories are yet to come. Identity is as fluid as a mountain stream, yet somehow a true and solid as the rock over which the water flows. Thanks for taking the time to give us all this gift of creativity. Regards, and know I am thinking of you and Christina.

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  10. Stephen,
    It is great to hear from you my friend. My you and yours have the best holiday season ever and of course a magical New Year.
    Bert

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  11. I love to see your name in my email box, Bert. Thank you for a lovely post!

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  12. Welcome back, Bert! In my humble opinion, writing, if it is conversational sharing (blogging), is not lost over time because we converse all the time. A while ago, I pumped air into the tires of my unused bicycle and took it for a ride to the tennis courts. On the way back I got the tire caught in a groove and fell on my face. I only did that once before 60 years ago. Yes, I lost that feel. I suspect with practice I could have improved. Recently, I picked my guitar up after about 3 years and could barely play. In my past, I played professionally. I have to decide whether I work at it or let it go. The pencil portraiture I work on regularly gets better and better. I guess the only answer I can come up with is: "Some stuff we lose, other stuff we don't miss a beat." I remember writing years ago, "What you don't use, you lose." I must be right, sometimes. Bert, you still write well. No loss there.

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    1. I didn't sign in/out correctly immediately above...Toddmach@gmail.com.

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  13. An interesting post, thanks for sharing it.
    I must say that your words inspire me. And I'm always looking for inspiration as an artist.
    Now I want to draw a drawing with a road. I only draw with pencils (like these https://wowpencils.com/best-wooden-pencils/). Drawings are black and white but beautiful :)

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