Today, we are 61 years removed from September 28, 1961. That maybe means more to me than most.
In 1961, President Eisenhower left the White House in the care of President-elect John F. Kennedy, who urged Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you…” (Apparently, his Democratic successors were not paying attention, as they have embraced the Big Brother notion of government, but that is another story.)
In 1961, The Commies of the USSR put Yuri Gagarin into outer space, initiating the Space Race.
The first lasers were developed in 1961.
The damn Yankees beat the Big Red Machine from Cincinnati in the World Series in 1961.
Roger Maris hit his 61st home run in the final game of the 1961 season.
West Side Story and The Hustler were the big movies in 1961. Moon River, Blue Moon, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and The Lion Sleeps Tonight were the big songs that year. Joseph Heller released his book, Catch-22; Harold Robbins’ The Carpetbaggers, and The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone were also notables.
Mattel got Barbie a Ken doll in 1961.
And all Freda Strother got was me. Sixty-one years ago today, she was an 18-year-old wife becoming a mom for the first time. She had no idea what she had foisted upon humanity. Nor did the red-faced baby she named David Eugene.
An interesting fact about the number 61 is that it is only divisible by itself and the number one. It is the 18th prime number. So, this is Prime Time for me.
Hitherto have I come, so very far from whence I began, farther even than necessary because of the detours, downfalls, and disasters.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I have learned more from experience than from education and will solemnly confirm for you that Experience is by far the harsher of the two instructors.
I can sing with Elvis, “Mistakes, I’ve made a few…” I cannot say they were “too few to mention.”
I mean, how many fifth graders got the attention and ire of an entire town to such a heated degree his father was obliged to pack up his family, resign from the church where he was pastor, and return to a place where his family was better loved? It was a graveyard incident with grave consequences, and it spawned my first novel (novella), a story loosely based on the incident. (You can still order your copy of the 2002 release here.)
My belly was blistered by battery acid; my head was split wide open by a Safeway handrail (I blame Troy Henager for this); both of my feet were pierced with rusty nails – on the same day (!); I was bitten by three German Shepherds (not on the same day), the last of which was my own dog(!); I suffered mere scratches and bruises when leaping from a moving train upon which my buddy and I had stowed away onto unforgiving, rocky, gravelly, brambly, west Texas earth; I was concussed seven times and cussed seventy times seven times; I survived a church coup or two; I was attacked by my own heart vis a vis the Widow-Maker on Independence Day 2022; and, I have been married 42 years!
(Just kidding about the marriage thing. That’s the good stuff in a nutshell right there. I mean that! I am not here, clothed and in my right mind without her.)
You have seen the Meme of the rooster with most of his feathers gone that reads, “Made it!” That’s me. I have been plucked, bucked, chucked, and fu…
I don’t have a purple heart. I don’t need your bleeding heart. I’m just happy to have a beating heart and to know for whom and for what it beats.
The title of this mess of a message promised a guide from and for the misguided, a roadmap to get where I’ve gotten to. Here it is:
1. Dr. Pepper is not as good as Diabetes is bad, which is not a fact I always endorsed.
2. A guilty conscience is too heavy a burden to carry through life. Unburden yourself to Jesus, dip it in His shed and opaque blood, and sin that sin no more.
3. If you zigged when you should have zagged, go back and get it right – or make it right.
4. Be at your best when things are at their worst.
5. This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone or like Sherman through Atlanta, but it will pass.
6. Remember that whatever is not eternal is temporary. We don’t always know how temporary, but temporary, nonetheless.
7. Remember to remember and learn to forget.
8. Hard fists, soft heart. Never the opposite.
9. Be a “whetherman.” Whether it is easy, whether it is hard, whether others get it or whether they don’t, whether you have allies or stand alone, whether you win or whether you lose, find the right and the good, lean into the wind of adversity, and weather the storm!
10. Love the people you love and let that inform the way you treat them, support them, empower them, and protect them.
11. Hang in there.
There’s other stuff. There has to be. But 11 is a prime number, just like 61. So, start there.
It is Prime Time. I have to get along. Take care and thank you for reading me.
No! Really! Thank you!!!