Monday, September 17, 2018

all they'll know of life

The two men [Robert E Lee and Joe Johnston] fell silent, seemed to be both enjoying the faint sound of a harmonica, muffled sounds of men moving about, fragments of conversation, all sounds of an army at rest.

"Look out there, all over the camp.  Even the card playing is quiet. This is no party.  They're preparing for it, every man looking deep inside himself, asking the same questions, making his own peace."

Johnston took his hat off, held it in his hands, stared at it. "No one plans this, Robert.  No one says, 'I'm going to join the Army so I can fight a war.' you and I have been doing this for what? Eighteen years? After awhile you never expect to see something like this.  Some of these boys are straight out of the Point, class of 1846, going straight from the classroom to combat.  What will that do to them?  They'll see the Army very differently than you or I do, Robert.  War might even become... normal to them.  You and I, we have lives to go home to, families.  This war will end, and we will go back to doing what we always did before.  But those boys, their lives will never be the same.  All they'll know about life is fighting a war. Peacetime could be very dull."

 -- Jeff Shaara, Gone for Soldiers: A Novel of the Mexican-American War

Sunday, August 26, 2018

"There was a time - not long ago - when Americans could honestly look their kids in the eye and promise they would enjoy a better life than their parents had. That was the essence of the American Dream, now receding into memory for many and at its moment of greatest peril."

- David Rolf, The Fight For $15

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A small green island

There is a small green island
where one white cow lives alone, a meadow of an island.

The cow grazes till nightfull, full and fat,
but during the night she panics
and grows thin as a single hair.
What shall I eat tomorrow? There is nothing left.
By dawn the grass has grown up again, waist-high.
The cow starts eating and by dark
the meadow is clipped short.

She is full of strength and energy, but she panics
in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight.
The cow does this over and over,
and this is all she does.

She never thinks, This meadow has never failed
to grow back. Why should I be afraid every night
that it won't. The cow is the bodily soul.
The island field is this world where that grows
lean with fear and fat with blessing, lean and fat.

White cow, don't make yourself miserable
with what's to come, or not to come.

-- Rumi

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"What I really love about traditional music -- Irish, gypsy, American roots, whatever -- is how it exists in context with what's come before," DiMario [of Crooked Still] says.  "It's about real people, going through real stuff, who needed music to survive.  I'm more moved by a scratchy field recording, out of tune and with rough edges, than anything modern.  The emotional content underneath resonates with deeper meaning."

-- No Depression #76: Abigail Washburn and The Next Generation

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Enthusiasm

"Enthusiasm is an attribute that feeds our happiness. [It] brightens a situation. It feeds energy. It feels good. When I was a seminary student, my teacher demanded enthusiasm. He taught us that four things would feed it: wanting to be enthusiastic; sticking with it; letting ourselves be happy; and being careful not to get too carried away because that could lead to having-to-lie-on-the-floor exhaustion. [...] We had to give ourselves permission to feel the joy that is a by-product of enthusiasm. Joy can be a little embarrassing if you aren't used to it. It feels a little too Hallmark TV Channelish. A little false. Except it isn't. It's true and it feeds our happiness, our health, and our sanity as it balances out the inevitable sorrows in our lives. [...]

 I can tell when people live their lives with enthusiasm. They are surrounded by things they love. They are happy. And they are helpful -- whether you are an old friend or a stranger asking for directions."

 -- Geri Larkin, Plant Seed, Pull Weed: Nurturing the Garden of Your Life"