About Me

Pearl City, HI, United States

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Turn the Page

From Quotefancy.com

We go through good times and bad, but nothing ever really lasts.  No matter how joyous or how sad a period of time has been, there will come a day when we have to recognize that a chapter has closed and it's time to turn the page.

Nobody feels this more acutely right now than fans of the Kansas City Royals.  Over the past eight years, we watched as a priceless crop of rookies climbed through the ranks into the major leagues.  The experts told us that this group would make the Royals competitive again, really good news after so many years of just really bad baseball.  The Royals went to the World Series in 2014, ending just 90 feet from an improbable win.  That shortfall provided the motivation for that team in 2015.  For most of the year, they were the best team in baseball, along with the Cardinals.  And on a cold November night in the Big Apple, they brought home the trophy.  A million fans turned out for the parade and the celebration, and in a perfect demonstration of the class of that midwestern city, there were only two arrests that day, both of young men who had imbibed a bit too much celebratory alcohol.  There was no violence, no riots, no stores were trashed, no police cars were rolled and burned.  It was just a massive surge of shared joy and pride.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

No Words, No Understanding...Just Grief

"Sometimes, there are just no words."

Since the news came across last Wednesday of yet another school shooting, I have been struggling; struggling to understand or even find some kind of context. I cannot find either. 

Writing is, for me, a form of coping.  When incomprehensible things happen, I try to find words that may lead to some kind of understanding of what happened.  But there is no understanding this kind of tragedy.  In a flurry of violence at a high school in Parkland, Florida, 17 lives were ended, 14 teenagers and three adults.  And in like so many other mass shootings since Columbine, the country grieves.

The killer was a young adult with a troubled history.  When he was identified as the shooter, nobody who knew him or knew of him was surprised.  In the days since, we've learned that the FBI knew about him, the Broward County Sheriff's Office had been to his home multiple times.  He had been expelled because of violent acts in school.  So...the students knew he was a threat; faculty knew he was a threat; staff and administration knew he was a threat; and law enforcement knew he was a threat.  The "why" of how nobody thought it was important to bring him in, at least for a discussion or even a court-ordered psych eval will eventually be revealed, and we will know how he slipped through this multitude of cracks.

Meanwhile in Parkland, the burials have begun.  Families and friends have been submerged in grief, a sense of loss that will never truly go away.  And the rest of us will again realize that even in a place where children play and learn, they are not safe.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Utter Waste of Time That is Anger

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

Going to the Doctor's is something that is almost routine for most folks.  I know that for most of my life it certainly was.  But past a certain age, things begin to go wrong, as they do with any piece of equipment with an expired warranty.  At that point, the attitude is, "what's he gonna find wrong this time?"  As it happened to me the other day, I walked out with a clean bill of health.  I found my mood turning celebratory, and yet at the same time reflective.

Aging is inevitable and unavoidable, certainly there is nothing that can stop or even slow the inexorable march of time.  Life changes from an unlimited horizon to an end that is suddenly tangible.  Our mental attitudes change as well, some just waiting out the time, others choosing to squeeze as much living as possible into what little time is left.  But time...the one thing that always takes and never gives, hovers over us, diminishing just a little bit more every day.

One of my favorite Star Trek quotes is by Jean-Luc Picard:

"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives.
But, I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey
and reminds us to cherish every moment because they'll never come again.
What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived.
After all, we're only mortal."

Friday, February 02, 2018

Putting Passion Into Practice

Three Generations, Crystal is in the middle.

Copyright © 2018
by Ralph F. Couey

Almost exactly seven years ago, I wrote a blog post about our middle daughter Crystal.  She was approaching graduation, with a degree in Mathematics and Education, and as the months ticked down towards the end, one day she sent me an email.  It was one of those messages that becomes immortalized within that magnificent treasure chest that is the human heart.  In it, she stated that she didn't just want to be a good teacher, she wanted to be a great teacher.  She then asked me for advice on how she could make that happen.

At the time, I worked with people in the Intelligence Community who had come from the education field.  I asked them to send her emails with their advice, which they graciously did.  I contributed my own snippets of fatherly wisdom, and sent it on its way.

For her to get to that graduation moment was a tough road.  In the last year just before she was to start her practice teaching, she had a snowboarding accident which resulted in a severe concussion.  A lesser person would have set things aside and taken time to heal.  But that's just not Crystal.

She's one tough cookie.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Am I Worth It?

Dear Lord,
Lest I continue my complacent way,
Help me to remember that somehow out there,
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must ask and answer:
Am I worth dying for?
--Eleanor Roosevelt
Kept in her wallet during World War II

Copyright © 2018
By Ralph F. Couey

In the history of the United States, there have been times when unfortunately we were forced in undertake war as the last means of defense. When that has happened, our young men and women have courageously stepped forward to serve, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice. We have erected monuments to honor them, both the living and the dead not only here, but around the world. It is an established fact that no nation on earth has sacrificed so much of it’s own blood in defense of other people’s freedom.

After decades of benign neglect, it has become fashionable to honor them in other ways. Uniforms that in the not so distant past produced contempt now inspire respect and admiration. The pendulum of that respect has swung fully back from the Vietnam era, and that is a good thing. Serving in the military has never been an easy job, even in peace time. The work is hard, the stress high, the hours seemingly unending, and the responsibilities daunting. And there is the risk to life and limb as well. If one stops to consider all those things, it can be amazing that there are those out there who are willing to enlist at all. There are plenty of inducements offered to enlistees, but when they’re asked, almost all of them will tell you, quite honestly, that the reason they do what they do is that they love America.