Monday, July 18, 2011

This ain't no dress rehearsal

Pa Karl is a blue-collared, countrified genius. I mean that in a very positive way and with great respect. He is the father/stepfather of some of the best friends I have ever had in my life. Pa Karl never fed us with negativity or doubt. He encouraged us to reach for the stars and to imagine a world better than the one we found.
If we had an idea for a project, he would tell us to go to the garage and figure it out. When we failed, he would tell us something along the lines of, "Yeah. I pretty much figured it wouldn't work. But hell, think of everything you learned out here." Then he would crack open a Natural Lite and either tell us it was a foolish pursuit or he might roll up his sleeves and help us complete the task at hand.
One evening, shortly before I left for the Army, I was sitting with Pa and he gave me a beer. I was only 19 but he decided that if I was old enough to volunteer to be shot at then I could have a beer. It was pretty late and I don't recall where anybody else was that night. I was pretty much living there at the time, having moved out of my Dad's home.
While we were sitting there he asked me my plans for the future. I rattled off some very mundane ideas and he just grinned and listened. He encouraged me and told me I would do great. He stood up and hugged me. As he turned the corner to leave the room he looked back and stared me down. 
He said, "Son, if you only learn one thing from me it should be this. Life is not a dress rehearsal. You ain't practicing for anything. You're about to go off into the real world and it's time to take the stage for real."
I have never forgotten that lesson.

Another time I saw Pa and Indian Joe (yes everybody called him Indian Joe) sitting at the table staring at each other. It was as if nothing in the world mattered. There were no words and seldom did either blink. I got bored after a while and left them at the table. When I returned from having a smoke, they had their hands clutched above the table. Both men with left and right arms extended and tented over the small table. Their eyes squeezed closed and faces red from exertion. I had no idea what they were doing. It made me nervous so I left.
I later learned that they were mind melding or something like that. I was amazed that this intelligent man who was like a father to me could take part in something like that. It was the kind of stuff I did with my friends. I then learned that it was a kind of ritual or magic that he and Indian Joe had done for many years. Pa said it helped them solve problems, become closer friends and relieve stress. I'm sure he told me more than that but what I have related is all I can remember.

I still think it is amazing that this man who is large and strong, intelligent and commanding can have complete belief in magic. For me this is another sliver of evidence that magic comes in many flavors and degrees. It is a small piece of the picture that demonstrates how magic is pervasive and seeps into every aspect of our lives.

Do you have an experience like this? Is there some respected person in your past that demonstrates a belief in something unconventional or magical? If so, share it below. Tell us your story.

Until next time.... READ!

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