Saturday, October 17, 2009

For Mark

The Step
(by R.P.Edwards)

The Step
Unthinkable before
Seemed somehow sane…a welcome door
A Step from constant, pressing dread
A Step to hopeful peace, instead
A promise hiding wreckage come
To all who love this tortured son
To all who’ve tried in vain to ease
The Step obscures all thoughts…of these
And so, with weeping, weakened will
I yield to thoughts…myself to ill
I yield my limbs to demon’s threads
While whispered wooings…praise the dead
And pausing ‘fore the Step I plead
“Oh, someone save myself…from me.”

A very long time ago…I was in a very dark place.  It was a place of sadness, despair, and ultimately…depression.  And I remember…the door.  As I recall, one day, thoughts of self destruction seemed…insane.  And the next, as if stepping into a room, “sanity” became redefined .  Well, obviously I’m still here, and though that brief time was indeed dark, I believe it was merely one step on a path of self realization.  A path that ultimately led to…the cross.  However, this piece is not about me, but rather a simple reminder that walking among us, beside us, are those who are wounded…and ill.  For, just as real as are infirmities of the flesh, so too are infirmities…of the mind.

Just yesterday I was talking to a coworker and he mentioned that one of my union brothers…had just committed suicide; the result of chronic depression.  Honestly, he could have mentioned a thousand names (a lot of people work at the steel mill) and my empathy would have been genuine, but measured.  However, he told me about Mark, and a personal note sounded.  You see, Mark hired in a mere seven days after me. And, from our joint labors I learned He was raising a child on his own and, even though we later went our separate ways (as far as internal vocations) his locker was so situated that, off and on, over the last fourteen years, greetings could be offered and reciprocated.  But now, after an apparent long struggle with mental illness…he is dead. 

I suppose the reason for this offering is, in part, a memorial to a troubled soul.  But, it’s also a reminder to the many that we are, ultimately-as has been said before- in the people business.  So, let us, you and I, become aware.  Let us dare to look beyond the cliché, and the polished facade, and see if the soul that resides…is troubled or not.  And, upon finding…let us reach in, if we possibly can…to aid.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Missing Link?

The Optimist
(by R.P.Edwards)

Grasping for straws
Sifting for specks
Got to keep searching!
Can’t give up yet!
We know it’s here somewhere!
The proof that we’re slime
So, dig in the dirt, boys!
We just need more time!

Fran, the first year graduate student was very excited.  “Professor! Professor!” she nearly screamed in an ear-piercing crescendo as she stood, faced her mentor (who toiled in another trench nearby) and waved her soft-bristled fossil finding tooth brush as if a swarm of gnats were attacking.  “What is it, Fran?” said the rather ancient gray bearded doctor of anthropology as he used his ivory handled cane to ease his exit from the hole.  “Dr. Mandible! Dr. Mandible! I’ve found something! I’ve found something!”  Fifteen minutes later the good professor used the index finger of his right hand (having summoned the photographer) and, along with the added framing of the findee, he pointed to the partially exposed skull of a possible link between ape…and man.  “Do you have it, Jeremy?” he said, squinting up at the professional picture guy who lowered his high-cost camera. “Yeah, I’ve got it doc.  But if you ask me,” he said, reaffixing the lens cover, “it looks like a chimp’s chomper.  I’ve seen hundreds of ‘em.”

And so it goes: another “find” that sheds light on the origin of man.  You’ll have to excuse me…but I think its bunk, bologna, and frankly…wishful thinking.  Yes, yes, I can almost hear the ruffling of feathers as many prepare to espouse the undeniable “fact” of evolution.  But, the truth is, volumes of strong opinion…do not a “truth” make.  And finding some sort of extinct ape…does not a “link” make.  What it does expose, however, is the desperate need to prove existence without a creator.  For, as we all know, if there is a creator, then there is a responsibility to this entity.

You know, I’ve got a son who is a computer programmer.  I’ve seen this fellow toil, hour after hour, on intricate programs that need much intelligent manipulation in order to work.  And often, along the way, there are a myriad of “bugs” that have to be worked out.  Now, do you expect me to believe that the human genome (far more complex that our computer stuff) just kinda happened?  That chance mutation (remember, that’s the only thing that can do it) sufficiently messed with the old Atari…to turn it into a X-box? Please.

Listen, I know opinions are varied.  But to me it’s obvious.  Creation declares, “There is a God!”  Here’s a couple links you might find interesting:  Answers in Genesis    and   Institute for Creation Research  I double dog dare you to check them out.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


(by R.P.Edwards)

Higher! Faster!
Further! Go!!!
Stretch the boundaries!
Climbing! Striving! Thinning air!
Casting weights of fear and care!
Left behind, the chains of “Can’t!”
Deaf to doubters draining rants!
Your name is…TRY!

A bit ironic that I would begin this offering with a poem that appears to be the exact opposite of my “Minimalist” thoughts of a few days ago (Sept 30, I believe).  But…I was inspired by the gourd cannon.

Working the afternoon shift this week and, waking to the news (trivial, as well as tragic) I got a kick out of the fellows in New York state who have pushed “pumpkin chuckin’” to new (literally) heights.  Using air pressure and a very long barrel, this “big bertha” can toss the garden orb a cool mile! Dream it…and do it!  Or at least try.  It’s an entrepreneurial thing.  An American thing.  A pushing, pioneer kind of thing.

But, as for me?  I’m still the minimalist.  Still, for the most part, the bystander.  But I certainly can recognize and appreciate those with the need for speed, the drive for daring, the urge to surge.  And, with my small cheerleader exhortations…maybe they’ll fly just a little higher…faster…further.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

The People Business

The People Business
(by R.P.Edwards)

Be it widgets or windmills
Pliers or paste
Buttons or toupees
Hauling of waste
Building of buildings
Numbers to crunch
Serving the entrée
For supper or lunch
Pouring the steel
To sell as a sheet
Cleaning the hall
Where conventioneers meet
 Whatever you’re doing
Whatever for dough
Whatever your station
Be it tip top
Or low
The things that you sell
The items you’ve made
In eternities light
Will all fade away
It’s people, you see
The lasting…is there
A moment to touch
A moment to care
Yes, our business…is people
Whatever our trade
The heart…touching heart
That’s where profit…is made

“I didn’t come here to make friends.  I came here to make…money.”  It’s a phrase I’ve heard more than once in an industry that can sometimes be as hard as the product we produce.  But, the other day, having finished my seven day stint of “midnights” and, since I was a bit worn down, fatigued, vulnerable due to an unnatural schedule and poor time management, I, groggily making my way towards the escape hatch, passed on and received a pleasantry or two from coworkers I’ve know, after a fashion, for years.  Oh, sometimes our greetings are reflexive, but there are those times, when we are not rushed, or pushed, when a more in-depth wondering gives way to deeper questions and, with these, a deeper concern.  And I concluded, as I’ve known off and on from always…we are, no matter what we sell, or produce…we all are in (or should be, at least)…the people business.

Last night, as I lounged in the living room and others had gravitated to other rooms in the house, I wanted something to watch that could match my melancholy.  In short order I was lazily viewing the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol, starring George C. Scott as Scrooge.  And, it is in this rendition that his old partner, Jacob Marley, says it so convincingly.  “Business!  Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

I hope, in these desperate times, that those who are able… would pause to look up from the ledger…and then refocus to see the heart of flesh that is on the other side of their decisions.  

And...God Bless us all…every one.

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