It’s the Journey, Man! or, Welcome to Walley World, now go home

One of my favorite Hollywood comedies is National Lampoon’s Vacation. I love it because it is such an accurate caricature of life in the American family and because most of us who have been around a minute can identify with the characters and their misfortunes.

There is this epic journey to Walley World, with mishap after hilarious mishap along the way, and when they finally arrive at the place of their dreams…

 

 

So, I wrote this on my Facebook page this morning…

Enjoy the journey, because the destination is often disappointing.

With my youngest set to get married in a day less than a week, I want so badly to help the two of them understand this: Marriage is a journey and the journey is what it is all about. The wedding day is, for young women the world over, the culmination of a dream. It is the fairy tale ending to what seems like an epic journey, because, usually, there were missteps, misfires, misgivings, and maybe even the wrong Mr. Right along the way.

Then, the smoke clears and there he is – the dashing prince on a white charger, ready to sweep her off her feet and dash her off to the Magic Kingdom of Marital Bliss.

Magic Kingdom of Marital Bliss next exit

It is not, however, a kingdom. It is not always bliss. Nor is it the culmination of a journey. It’s the beginning.

The kingdom palace is usually more of a small wood-framed house or economy apartment, at first. Life is often built on modest income, while the couple strives to rise up through the socio-economic ranks. There is often more month than money.

This is marital bliss.

It is colicky babies screaming in the wee hours, diapers that smell like Hell’s city dump, and throw-up on your dress during the Sunday sermon. It’s fights over money or sex or both…and fighting with your diet and your own willpower…and sometimes, your will to just get up, get dressed, and go to %&$#ing work.

But it is also surprise dates, county fairs, funnel cakes, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, cookouts, and crazy cousins at the family reunion. It’s cheering your team in the Super Bowl or not answering your phone because your nemesis is calling to rub it in that you lost…again. It’s texting a funny Meme of a dubious nature. It’s reading your Bible harder when you feel lost. It’s calling your Dad for advice, not taking it, and wishing later that you had. It’s gut-punch goodbyes and hug-til-you-pass-out reunions. It’s weeping at graves and weeping again in the newborn ward. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Years of sewing. Lean years. Then a breakthrough, and suddenly you can breathe again.

It’s life, man. Raw. Beautiful. Gut-wrenching. Breath-taking… Powerful!

You cannot exchange it for someone else’s, no matter how badly you want to do so at times. But, in the end, if you do it right, you wouldn’t trade it for the entire world.

It’s the journey!

Put on your traveling shoes and grab your cell phone. Snap lots of selfies and capture moments that capture you. Share them on the Facebook or Instagram or text them to your mom!

Bon Voyage! Godspeed.

Lost in Translation | I Have a Dream (that needs an interpreter)

I need a Joseph or a Daniel to help me out here. I need a dream interpreted and I am willing to pay for it. Well, sort of.

Last night I dreamed and this is how it went…

Someone had died. I don’t now know whom it was, but in my dream, I must have known. I know that it was a man around my age and someone asked me to deliver the eulogy/sermon at the funeral.

A buzz of excitement gripped my friends and family, as I have not been behind a pulpit in quite some time. I guess, now that I am awake, that is a bit morbid. But I was dreaming.

450px-Church_in_fog_with_treeA fog, the kind you might find on any given San Francisco morning hanging over the bay. I drove my red Toyota pickup to the church. It sparkled and shined, so I suppose I had cleaned it for the funeral procession.

At some point, I went on an unknown mission to the convenience store. When I returned, the parking lot of the small, postcard-worthy, red brick church with the magnificent cross-topped steeple was filled beyond capacity. I had to park down the street.

Inside, the church was packed. People were shoehorned into every pew and standing along the outer walls and across the back of the sanctuary. I made my way down the narrow center aisle and took my place on the front pew.

I was not the only minister officiating this service. Two retired preachers – I think I know who they are, and one of them is my wife Donya’s deceased uncle – were to precede me to the podium. They were talking about retirement and how they ought to team up to do this sort of thing. I don’t know if I thought that was odd and sad in my dream or thought it after I woke.

A beautiful rendition of “When They Ring Those Golden Bells” ( a song I had inexplicably been singing in the car earlier that night – I mean, literally; not as part of the dream – to Donya’s baffled wonderment) was delivered by my good pal Rob Wren…or my Mom. I can’t say which for sure at this point. 

Finally, it was time for me to preach.

A reverent hush fell over the capacity crowd. For some reason, I lay prone on the front pew under a blanket. When I sat up, I was naked, but for a pair of boxer briefs. I had not realized this was the case until that very moment. I sat mortified. Donya looked across the aisle at me with a look of pained pity.

I sat frozen to the pew, unable to move a muscle or utter a word. I had no idea what to do.

Donya stood and asked if anyone had extra clothes I could borrow. There must have been some sort of collection for the homeless taken place at the church, because someone found and handed her a flannel shirt and a pair of jeans. I quickly put on the shirt and the jeans. The jeans were huge and would have fallen right off of me. I had to gather the waist in one hand and my Bible in the other.

And that is how I ascended the two or three platform steps and make my way to the pulpit. 

Apparently, the pastor of the church was a diminutive fellow, for there was a wood crate hidden behind the pulpit for standing on. I tried to nudge it aside with my foot, but it must have been nailed to the floor. So, I climbed onto the crate and was now towering above the pulpit, with the top of it coming to about my waist.

I woke to Donya typing out a message on her phone. It was 5:45 am. I tried to go back to sleep to finish my dream, but it was gone. I was thankful to her for getting me clothes and aggravated at her for waking me at a crucial moment.

I am looking for my Daniel or Joseph. I need a dream interpreter to make sense of this and I am prepared to give a free, autographed copy of my 2002 novella The Preacher’s Kid to the best (or funniest, or most interesting, or most inspired) interpretation as voted by the editorial board here at The Journeyman (which consists of Gene and I, which is to say me). Please leave your interpretation in the comment section below and feel free to invite any dream weavers you know to offer theirs, as well. I will leave the contest open for one week and the clock starts…now.

The Journey Man: Celebrating seven years and change of not much

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Today is nothing special…and that is a perfect reason to write this little bit of self-indulgence.

I decided this morning over coffee to take a look back at my blogging journey. I discovered that I have been writing about sports, religion, family, faith, politics, and assorted other subjects for more than seven years.

My very first blog post on this site took place on April 12, 2009. It was titled An Easter Message: the Living Among the DeadIt was a remix of a devotional I had written and shared via Morning Manna, an email devotional service I maintained for nearly five years, beginning in 2000. The devotional was, of course, derivative of a sermon I had preached numerous times in various churches.

I suppose, if I had made the blog about something specific like cooking or cock fighting, I might have gained a greater following, or readership, or whatever. Pick something specific and write about it and it is sure to resonate with someone, somewhere on the Internet. If it doesn’t, it is REALLY niche.

But I didn’t do that.

I decided, instead, to write about whatever was on my mind, whenever I was of a mind to do so. Sometimes, I would crank out three or four blog posts in a week and sometimes I would not do that many in a month or more.

Basically, this blog, like my life and my mind, is all over the road. One post is a poem. Another is a sermon. And then off I go on a political rant. Or a sports rant. Or just some nonsense about nothing.

So, happy 7th anniversary and then some to those of you who have stuck around to see what silliness you can wag your head at next. I celebrate you and your endurance, your indulgence…they are endearing to me.

It is fitting, sitting alone in this study, celebrating an un-anniversary. Doing something like this on the actual anniversary would be too symmetrical and make far too much sense. This is better. It fits this journey, this long and winding road.

So, now I have to shower and go to a Strother family reunion…maybe to learn whether I am an anomaly or a chip off the old block.

‘Til we meet again…carry on.

 

YOURS (truly),

The JourneyMan

 

Remember Franklin’s 13 Virtues | Make America Great Again

greatagain

Donald Trump, the petulant presumed Republican candidate and the lesser of two evils, is campaigning on the slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

That’s great.

What is sad, however, is Trump’s idea of what made America great in the first place. I will tell you this much: It was not his brand of bombastic narcissism. It was not chest-thumping and self-aggrandizement.

How to make America Great Again

If you want to make America great again, look not to conservative-come-lately Donald Trump or the entitled globalist Hillary Clinton. No!

Look way back to one of the driving forces of the establishment of America as an independent nation. look to – listen to – Benjamin Franklin.

I have finally gotten around to reading Franklin’s autobiography. In so doing, I have encountered for the first time since my college days Franklin’s 13 virtues. Incorporate these into daily life. Make these a part of the American mantra. Promote these virtues publicly and practice them privately and you will be part of the movement to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.


“I propos’d to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex’d to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr’d to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully express’d the extent I gave to its meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin


Franklin’s 13 Virtues

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

I leave you these without commentary, because the great author/inventor/statesman/American needs nothing added. These virtues only need to be repeated, remembered…and incorporated into public and private life.

Brexit, Baby! Give me liberty or give me death!

Brexit-11-650


“Love your neighbor, but put up a fence.” ~Russian proverb


With the globalists stunned by the will of the British people to take control of their own lives again, there will be doomsday reports of a worldwide crash. Everything is falling apart. The American news agencies ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, et al (aka, the media arm of the Socialist Democratic Party) will pronounce doom and gloom and do their best to make their proclamations prophetic. They will stir the pot of panic because it sells their product and it serves their purpose.


Europe’s failings — and they have been conspicuous over the past decade — are simply not sufficient to explain what Britain has done to itself. This was a vote against the global economic and social order that the first 16 years of the 21st century have produced. Where it leads is unclear. The worst is not inevitable but it is plausible. Britain will remain an important power. But it will punch beneath its weight. It faces serious, long-term political and economic risk. – Roger Cohen, NY Times


 Globalists are furious. Someone dared shake their fist in the face of these internationalists, these one-worlders who thirst for global power, absolute control, and unprecedented wealth. These are predators who count on the stupidity of the people over whom they desire to lord. (And that stupid prey includes the airheads spat out by institutions of higher learning, armed with socialist/globalist indoctrination and shoved in front of a camera with their makeup, hairspray, and bleeding hearts all intact.)

Fences make good neighbors. They set boundaries and impose order by restraint. Come what may, I support the spirit of the British. It is a spirit that Americans once held more dear than life itself.

“The euroseptic genie is out of the bottle and it will not be put back.” ~Nigel Farage

#Brexit baby.

 “Give me liberty or give me death.”

 

Unexceptional beginnings? Don’t stay where you started!

Ancestry.com is an exceptional tool for learning how unexceptional you really are. Like most people around my age, I spend more time thinking about roots and origins and the “old times” than I did, say, 20 years ago. Can it, then, be a surprise that, when the opportunity to pop my family name into an Ancestry.com search box popped up on my Facebook timeline, I did so?

The invitation was to search the meaning of your surname. Heck, who hasn’t asked himself at some point, “What the heck is a ‘Strother’?” I know I have. So, here I go. Hang on.

And the answer is…

strother name

Are you kidding me? What a letdown.

Strother Name Meaning: Northern English and Scottish: topographic name from northern Middle English strother ‘damp land overgrown with brushwood’, or a habitational name from any of the various places named with this word, as for example Strother in Tyne and Wear, or Struthers in Fife and Strathclyde.

It means “damp land overgrown with brushwood?” A Strother is a dadgum swamp?

Figures.

Here, I was hoping for some noble origin, fraught with meaning, bound to inspire one to live up to his own name. How the heck do you live up to a swamp? How does one draw inspiration from a name derived from mostly worthless marshland in some remote and forgotten place?

But I shall.

I shall aspire to be as difficult to navigate, as resistant to taming, as dangerous and unpredictable, as uninhabitable as the remotest, wildest swamp.

Or, better still, I shall aspire to resist letting that which predicated me predict me. I may come from the swamp lands. I may hail from unremarkable stock. But unexceptional shall never be acceptable to me.

I would say more about this, but right now I am swamped.