April 6, 2007

Looking for adventure or whatever comes my way...

Born to be wild.

When I first heard that D.N.R. was coming to town and wanted to meet up for a cup a coffee or a bite to eat I was so excited. This was going to be so cool; the biker and the hippie getting together for shots of tequila and rounds of beers in some rundown bar on the outskirts of town. I’m telling you I had visions of girls dancing on tables while we exchanged raucous tales of the road over pitchers of lukewarm beer. I could not wait to call the wife and let her know I wouldn’t be coming home because I was now riding with the Hell’s Angels.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the Smokey Bones restaurant and was greeted by a well-groomed-normal-looking kind of regular guy. He had all of his teeth! No bugs in them either! I didn’t know what to think, I mean come on what kind of biker is well groomed and has a full set of bug free pearly whites? Then he stood up and greeted me with a hug.

It was more than my mind could comprehend. This was not the road warrior I expected to wind up standing back to back with in a drunken barroom brawl. He wasn’t even sporting club colors or leathers. As God is my witness he was wearing a plain blue shirt with tan pants. He looked like a salesman. At that point things were not looking good for my version of the Jack Kerouac post I had intended for after the planned get together.

We sat down at the table and the conversation that followed was one of warmth, friendship and camaraderie. I learned the story of how he and his wife met when he returned home after a trip to Florida to find an old flame living at his parent’s house. Twenty four years later they are still in love with a couple of great sons. I saw the pictures; he has two boys as different as night and day in appearance. To me it was a clear tribute to his strength as a father. Here was a man who clearly encouraged his sons to follow their own paths instead of imposing his own way upon them.

We dined and talked about blogging, our families and the internet community we are a part of. He shared with me the story of how he got started in the blogosphere when he stepped in for DAZD during his heart attack. He just didn’t want the man’s friends not to know what was happening. By the time our meal was finished and the desserts consumed the one thing I learned about D.N.R. that impressed me the most was his genuine compassion for people and the world around him.

Whether he is speaking about his involvement in community affairs or the activities of the Patriot Guard Riders, D.N.R. speaks from the heart. His eyes are not those of the crusading zealot and his words are soft and filled with heartfelt feeling. He is a man of conviction and belief. He is a man I would invite into my home.

Dennis, I thank you for a great afternoon. Call anytime you are in town or stop by with your wife for dinner. Felicia and I would be happy to have you as our guests.

April 3, 2007

And the red sun sinks at last into the hills of gold...

Built by the Adena Indians.

It is the largest Serpent shaped mound in the entire world. Sacred and holy to the indigenous Indian tribes of its day it still retains an essence of spiritual mysticism that leaves one filled with a sense of wonder. Built between 1000 and 1500 A.D. the mound is a monument to man’s endless search for meaning and his special niche in the great cosmos.

The great serpent winds across the landscape for a quarter of a mile. It wraps around trees creating intimate enclosures where families may have gathered a thousand years ago after a long pilgrimage for prayer and worship. Of all the sacred artifices upon the face of the planet it is amazing to me that this one is located in Ohio. In a place named Peebles.

The moment was right and the elements of weather, hours of availability and free time were in perfect alignment for a spring pilgrimage. I tried for two days to gather friends together, offering to do the driving and even pay for gasoline myself. Not one single young person I know could be coaxed from the cozy confines of their bohemian coffeehouses or encouraged to come out from behind the electric glow of the almighty computer.

A drive through eighty miles of farmland.

It is a two hour drive from Dayton, Ohio through some of the most beautiful farmland to be found anywhere in the entire Midwest. There are breathtaking moments when you crest the top of a hill and are greeted by the view of an emerald countryside that seems to stretch forth into infinity. The air is clean and filled with the scent of wildflowers. It is as heady and intoxicating an experience as any Latte you could ever order from a coffeehouse.

The Woodstock Leather Goods Emporium.

When I arrived at Serpent Mound in spite of the hours posted in an article in the Columbus Dispatch (and on the official park website) the gates were closed to the public. Both I and the van filled with two mothers and their sons were surprised but nonplussed. We stormed the gates and ventured forth to walk the sacred grounds of the ancient artifact.

If it were possible to convey the wonder of a one-quarter-mile-long earthen work serpent winding its way slowly back and forth though a grove of pine trees I would post that picture and amaze you with it. It just can not be done. The picture however is indelibly etched into the memories of Diana, Sean, Maryann, Luke and I because we walked the quarter mile together.

As we walked upon the earth following in the footsteps of countless Native American pilgrims across the centuries we shared our stories as we shared the warmth of a perfect spring day. We laughed and talked and the spirits of those who'd journeyed so long before us seemed to gather close and share with us the secrets the Internet never seems to capture.

Diana and Sean -------- Luke and Maryann

Tomorrow my young friends will try to impress me with whatever sweet new video they discovered on their travels across the Internet. Some will try to impress me with some daring half naked photo they posted of themselves on their blog and they will bask in the adoration of those who doted upon their beauty in the comment boxes. They believe themselves to be bold adventurers leaving a monument of their passage upon the world of tomorrow. I feel sad for them because long after their adolescent pixels have faded from the make believe world of the Internet there will still stand in rock solid reality a monument built of earth to the real glories of man and the true beauty of the human spirit.

No, I didn't capture the image of the serpent,
but I do think I managed to grasp its message.

Thank you my new friends from Columbus, Ohio for making today such an enjoyable one. Diana and Maryann, you have raised two good sons who are well mannnered and filled with gentle spirits. I hope our paths cross again.

April 2, 2007

Video killed the blogging stars...

Sometimes an event occurs which forces an individual to reexamine a long held belief system. Sometimes images bring to our consciousness important insights that words are simply incapable of adequately conveying. Sometimes a video provides a truth we would not otherwise believe without having seen it with our own eyes...

April 1, 2007

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks...

Dayton, Ohio is home to the minor league baseball team the Dragons. They play at Fifth Third Field, one of the finest minor league stadiums in the entire United States. It is affordable family entertainment and Felicia and I are lucky to be season ticket holders. As a special way to celebrate the impending opening of the 2007 campaigns for both our local baseball teams, the Cincinnati Reds played an exhibition game versus the Florida Marlins at Fifth Third field.

Felicia and I had four tickets and were going to be joined by her father and his lady friend for a quality afternoon of baseball. At the last moment her father had to cancel because of an illness his lady friend was not quite over. So, we were walking into the game with two extra tickets.

There is a tradition in Dayton where people without tickets stand outside the fences and hopefully wait for someone with extra tickets to pass them on. As we were walking by the fences I spotted a couple of kids. They were not the kind of kids anyone was interested in giving tickets to and then having to sit next to them during the game.

“Do you all have tickets? I asked.”

“No, unfortunately, we don’t.” answered the young man.

“Would you like a couple of tickets?”

Uh, we really don’t have the money for tickets.”

“They’re free if you care to join us.”

The look on their faces was thanks enough and we told them to meet us at the front gate and we’d get them in. Once they were in the stadium introductions were made and we took them down to our seats which are located six rows dead-center behind home plate. They were grinning from ear to ear and happy as mice in a welfare-cheese-storage facility.

"Dude, this rocks so freakin hard!"

As we began talking the amount of connections between the four of us were simply unbelievable. Micah and Felicia are drummers, Andrea and I are both big fans of the Moody Blues and we all wound up having friends in common. It was very cool. It was like we were all supposed to come together for this event.

After the game we invited them over to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes play the Georgetown Hoyas for the right to play the Florida Gators in the National Championship game on Monday night. We had a great time and wound up making some new friends.

It turns out that these two kids everyone else saw only as a couple of hippies and wanted nothing to do with had a good story. Micah is a medical student working his way through school without his parent’s financial support. He is also working at the hospital where Felicia and will be having our baby. Yeah, how cool is that?

Andrea is a bright woman who has followed in the path of her hippie parents. She has lived an adventurous life and partied across the country. Now she is enrolled in college and preparing to follow the dream of developing her intellectual potential. There are stars in her eyes when she talks of going to school and it is nice to see such a sight in a young person’s eyes.

The time we shared together was a wonderful way to start the spring season. It was even more so because I had just lost a good friend the night before. I’m glad I followed my feelings and reached out to these two strangers.

"Mandatory team mascot photo."

You see, I follow my feelings a lot. As a matter of fact, many of the opinions I express are a direct result of the feelings I get about things. If something feels wrong to me I carefully study and research that thing until I understand it. I work hard to have opinions about things. I also try to have opinions based upon analysis of factual data and not simply as a result of emotional investment or reaction to things.

What is even more important to me than having opinions is accepting people for their overall strength of character instead of rejecting them for having a different opinion than I do about a thing. It is my experience that if one rejects a person every time a difference of opinion is discovered eventually one finds oneself alone with only their opinion to keep them company.

"Now I'm going to take this puppy deep..."

I lost a friend because of an opinion I expressed here on my blog. It saddens me, but I simply can not, nor will I ever apologize for either having an opinion or expressing it. If something I post on my blog arouses an emotional response in your being then I have done my job as a writer. I want you to think about what you read on these pages. I want you to have an emotional reaction to the content of my blog.

What I do not want you to feel from the words you read here is that you (as an individual) are being personally attacked. I do my very best to target institutions and leave individuals out of the line of fire. If you ever find yourself of the opinion that you as an individual are being attacked by the content of my blog I ask you to carefully examine that opinion. Is it based upon careful analysis of factual data or simply an emotional response based on investment or reaction?

What brings us together is our shared experience. What keeps us together is accepting each other in spite of our individual differences. Each of us is a unique individual with a unique set of worldviews and opinions about every topic under the sun. In the end, isn’t that simply one more trait we all share in common? Isn’t it just one more part of the great shared experience we all know as life? Please, don’t throw friends away because of a difference of opinion. They are far too valuable a commodity to be so easily discarded.

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