Warning 1: The first few paragraphs describe an incident that occurred last Friday, June 26, 2020. Graphic details have not been omitted, just overlooked.
Warning 2: For friends in the IM community. There is nothing being sold here or at the website that is mentioned further down the page. If you went to the P.S. first, and came back here, you’re getting the hang of experiencing an old-fashioned newsletter. Some friends and family have received these newsletters for nearly 20 years, and they’ve managed to stay mellow. This is what emails used to look like – sharing stories with people who matter to you. Hashtag YOU MATTER
At That Moment, Death Was Not An Issue – Or Even A Preferred Option
Here’s what happened:
Last Friday, View (my wife) and I drove along a narrow beach road that emptied onto the main road where we live. While on the beach road, we stopped to watch the ocean waves, and contemplate the serenity of the moment juxtaposed against all the anger and turmoil in the world these days. That serenity was not to last long. (Insert foreboding tympani music here.)
We turned onto the main artery and drove casually in the direction of home.
We saw a man sitting at the side of the road, sprawled over his legs, not looking well at all. We came to him and thought he might not even be alive. But after a little coaxing, he sat up. I gave him some water, and View gave him some bananas. He said he lived in Hilo, in the hospital. So we drove him there.
When we arrived at the emergency entrance to the hospital, View got out of the car to get help. A security guard came around with a wheelchair, and I got out of the car to help him. The passenger then jumped into the driver seat and tried to steal the car. (Insert a few “Dang! That came outta nowhere!” chords.)
I opened the driver’s door and struggled to stop the car from moving. Without going into graphic detail, I didn’t succeed. The security guard also jumped in, sandwiching my body between his and the patient’s. We were dragged about 10 feet, while gasps from onlookers hightened the tension.
The car hit a curb and came to a stop, and the security guards managed to pull the suspect from the car. The emergency staff wheeled me into the hospital for observation. I spoke with the police at that time.
Also at that time, some people said, “You coulda been killed.” And one said, “You coulda gone under the wheels and got run over.”
Until I heard that, I didn’t even think about how lucky I was, or how lucky I have been.
(Pause for effect.)
My grandmother used to say, “If you’re lucky, you’re smart. And if you’re smart, you’re lucky.” It’s not an axiom, it’s a generalization. It’s one of my grandmother’s theories. If anything, the course of my life up ’til now greatly supports the null hypothesis, because I am living (still) proof that being lucky is completely independent of being smart.
Being human – being a person is not a smart thing to do. You can fact-check me on that. And everybody is a person. That’s just a self-evident truth. You, me, all those people you see standing in lines at check-out counters, preceded by their bellies – each one of us is a person. We all got lucky, even if some of us can’t put “smart” on our resumes.
What I Would’ve Said In The Preface
There is no preface in this issue of “An Island Perspective.” This is what I would have said if there was one:
While hospital staff were checking and rechecking my vitality in the hospital, there was also a load of paperwork to think about. A nurse gave me some forms to take home and fill out. She said it would be a good idea for me to have an “Advance Directive.” They are instructions for what to do if you can’t tell medical staff what you want them to do. It’s the forms that come before a last will and testament.
And it made me think, “Maybe they’re right. Maybe the days of my youth are coming to an end. Maybe I should take the future, with all its inevitabilities, more seriously.” And then, not to interrupt the rhetorical conversation, I had these thoughts:
“What if I did get killed?
What if I didn’t get a chance to apologize to my wife, or thank her for everything, or tell her one last joke in lieu of imparting wisdom?
And what if I just left without ever saying anything to you? Yeah, you. Whether you are a relative or friend who hasn’t seen me in years, or a marketer who has tried to sell me stuff, I want to thank you for helping me make my life what it is.”
I imagine there are a lot of people thinking the same thing today...with this pandemic causing so much loneliness and misery. If you were to ask anyone what their advance directive would be, I doubt anyone would say, “Go to Twitter and make fun of someone,” or “Rant and rave on social media and copy other people’s posts to get more ‘likes.'” I don’t think you’ll find that in anyone’s advance directive.
I think they’d want people to tell their story when they aren’t around to tell it themselves.
Back when I was about 8 or 9 years old, my father showed me an old book he had found while working with his dad in some old house. It was “The Autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant.” I didn’t know much about Ulysses S. Grant at the time. I was in awe of the book because it was a hundred years old. (It wasn’t really that old, but tell that to an 8 year old.)
I have lossed track of that book, but I have recently learned a few things about it.
1. It was published by none other than Mark Twain himself.
2. Ulysses S. Grant was very sick and in enormous pain as he wrote the 2nd half of the book. Nevertheless, he forced himself to write every day, determined as he was to finish his book before he died. He succeeded, but just barely. He passed away shortly after completing the book.
“The Autobiography Of Ulysses S Grant” became a best-seller, I believe. You can still buy it. People liked it and like it still because it contains the truth through the eyes of a man who was there – at pivotal historic events. It does not contain memes, or photoshopped images and graphics meant to misinform.
It contained the truth. That alone sets it apart from most of the things you see and hear today.
What To Celebrate
Recently in the U.S. we celebrated Mother’s Day, and then Father’s Day. There was also President’s Day, and before that Groundhog’s Day. I didn’t see anyone object to those holidays.
July 4th is coming soon. It’s the U.S.’s day of celebrating its declaration of independence from autocratic, monarchical rule. Recent events have brought this history under closer scrutiny, and many question if we ought to celebrate this day or not.
My take: hot dogs and cherry pies and baseball are nice traditions to keep – and picnics, too, when it’s safe to have them. But maybe we ought to shift our perspective. The military victory in the war between the colonists and England did not make us free. There were still enslaved people in the colonies. In alternate forms, slavery continues today in the “land of the free.”
However, the courage of those men and women back in 1776 to stand up to oppression should be remembered as a model to emulate. In addition, they did lay the foundations for a road to freedom. Two-hundred-forty-four years later, we haven’t gotten there yet. But we’re getting a lot closer than we would be if the fathers and mothers of our country didn’t start something.
So, I have no reservations about roasting a couple Hebrew Nationals (bun length) and watching “Bingo Long’s Traveling All Stars And Motorcade” (the best baseball movie of all time) on Sunday.
Call To Action
I said this may be the last edition of its kind of ‘An Island Perspective.’ Sometimes I get reactions from people who read it. This time I’m going to ask you to take some action. It requires no exchange of money, and no writing to your Congress person. It includes something you might find more risky than things you have done before.
I want you to tell your story.
Ulysses S. Grant went to great pains to share his story, and since he did, the library of knowledge is richer. Ulysses S. Grant may have done things to make himself more famous than you. But his life was no more important than your life is.
There ought to be an international Day of You. Maybe every day or every other day. A day when you can reflect on your accomplishments, small or big. A day when you can share with others the positive impact your life has had on the world so far.
I made this Social Networking website for you and me. It is not an advertising platform, so you are not going to get bombarded with irrelevant ads. It is not equipped for political discussions, or bullying, or other nonsense that you can find on the big name networks. It is only equipped for you to tell your story with words, images, and videos.
I know you get instant gratification from people ‘liking’ your posts on Facebook, and commenting on how wonderful and inspiring your posts are. How long does that gratification last? Maybe, like me, the days of your youth are running out, and you’ll find greater satisfaction putting out the truth about yourself. You’ve done great things, unique things that have changed our world in small ways, perhaps. You might have even, like U.S. Grant, been at pivot points in history, and like in 1776, started something that made this world different. Let us know. Let the world know.
The name of the website is Olameinu . It is waiting for you to register and get started on your own story. Just click or copy and paste the above address and you’re there.
Thank-you from this little big island, way out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,
P.S. Nothing for sale here. If you haven’t read the message yet, you’re really missing out and should go back and read it from the beginning. Otherwise, continue to P.P.S.
P.P.S. In the last couple days, two milestones were reached that are more than worthy of mention. TV and movie producer Carl Reiner and early TV personality and news man Hughe Downs have passed away, both in their late 90’s. Both have had a far reaching and positive effect in shaping the American experience.