Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Saturday, April 15, 2017

grounded

 For me the telling of a story is supposed to be first entertaining and then instructive. That is the way I usually heard them growing up. I believe that is simply because I was raised in a different time. Oh, I'm not saying I am that old, only 63, big plans as that lady in the commercial says, but before children were entertained twenty four/ seven. No, I was raised where children were to be seen and not heard. When children were included it was usually to teach you something, receive some sort of instruction or guidance. The best way to do that was with stories or as they called them in the Bible, parables. I was certainly taught moral lessons in that fashion but it wasn't Jesus doing the talking. The intent was the same however, to catch your attention and teach you some valuable lesson at the same time. I suppose that is why a great number of my stories state my opinion on whatever.
 All families have stories that are told and retold. They become like old friends to us, comforting in their familiarity. You know the kind I'm thinking about, little incidents in time. You get together and that story will be told sooner or later. If you are the butt of that story you dread it but accept the inevitable. One from my childhood is " ground it. " My father was a mechanic and like most men of his generation he repaired his own vehicles and equipment. He also assumed that others knew what he was talking about. Dad was a man that was used to issuing orders and you followed them. That is how it worked in my house anyway. A sort of dictatorship ! Well, Mom could intervene with some success on occasion, but rarely interfered. Anyway, the starter motor on Dad's old Ford needed replacing. Times were tight and so he got a replacement starter at the junkyard for a few dollars. He wanted to test it before installing it and that is where I got involved.  He called me over to the car and handed me this piece of wire. He told me he was going to test this starter and I was to " ground it " when told to do so.  Now, I had no idea what he was talking about but you just don't question him when he is doing something, especially so when he is cussing and mumbling. So, he got that starter tucked under his arm with another wire going to the battery post, it was a tricky balancing act. Then he says to me, " ground it. " I just give him a dumb look which immediately infuriates him and he yells again, " GROUND IT " I instantly take that wire I am holding and jam into the ground as hard as I can. Dad throws down the starter and wire he was holding and goes storming off, muttering something about an idiot. Mom is standing on the front porch watching the show and begins laughing. Dad wasn't amused at all. After a bit he calms down and explains what grounding it means.  We test that starter and put it on the car. It was my introduction to basic electricity and I have never forgotten. You see it is a sort of parable. The moral of the story is, if you don't know, ask. Far better to admit you don't know something than to pretend that you do. A good lesson.
 That is the way my childhood went. And it wasn't just with my father, it could be anyone older than me. That is how we learned things back in the old days. The information was passed from one generation to the other. Lessons were often harsh, some would say cruel in a way, but you learned. Stories were told of showing the folly of certain actions. Stories of fights won and lost. All of those stories did carry a lesson with them. The lesson sometimes didn't become clear to me for years. I have even  " discovered " the truth in some of those old stories recently. That is what was so great about growing up when and where I did. There were generations of knowledge being shared. Today families are spread out and much knowledge is lost. Today we say, don't tell those old embarrassing stories, stories of failure and bad decision making. We wouldn't want to offend anyone or hurt their feelings. I understand the sentiment but it does contribute to the weakness I see in a lot of these young folks today. Could be that is why they are heading for safe spaces. In my youth we just learned to deal with it. We all learned what could be the most valuable lesson of all, if you can't laugh at yourself, you'll never learn to laugh " with " others.
 Yes, when I was growing up and in the town I lived we had characters. It is something you will often hear, this notion of characters. Characters are always thought of in a humorous way, almost in a condescending fashion.  Isn't that what we mean when we say, he or she is a character ? Well characters are what make the story come to life. Without characters you just don't have much do you ? What this world need right now are more characters and less actors. We have an abundance of people " acting " like they are sincere. These folks act they way they believe society wants them to act. They respond with all the " correct " answers. Yes, the world is full of " actors. " I find myself missing those characters of my youth. We laughed, we loved and we learned. It was a great time in America. Most of all I think we were all " grounded. " We were grounded in the truth and the acceptance of reality. Men were men, ladies were ladies and there was no question of which bathroom to use. Simple times ? Maybe, but we were grounded, that much is sure.