108

You know, with the Cubs winning their first world series in 108 years, hope sort of springs eternal, don’t you think?

Who knows, the sentiment of this victory story might work its way into pop culture, and maybe even back in to our American psyche because of their win, and even if it doesn’t, I might fall back on it from time to time.

Like maybe if I say: I’m hoping that after forty years now my hairline might un-recede. To which some cynic will say, “It’ll never happen.” And I’ll reply: That’s what they said about the Cubbies winning a World Series too, and a hundred and eight years later…

Or maybe I’ll long for Abraham Lincoln to come back from the dead and run for president. Or maybe Diana Krall will call and tell me she’s in town for a concert and her drummer is sick and she needs a stand-in. Or maybe the Surgeon General and the New England Journal of Medicine will report that ice cream lowers cholesterol and increases stamina.

Ridiculous, you say? Tell that to the Cubs fans that have been earnestly waiting since 1908.

If I come off here sounding like the eternal, unrealistic optimist, don’t be fooled. When it comes to wishful thinking, I’m ambivalent at best.

Although I have been and will always be a Cardinals fan, I am so grateful for the storyline of the “lovable losers” from Wrigleyvile and their World Series victory after all these years. It was so nice to have something to smile about while living in the wasteland that politics is wreaking on us all these days.

Speaking of politics and hope, or the lack of it, I’ll at least be optimistic enough, maybe not Cubs fan optimistic, but enough to believe that as a somewhat hapless lot, we will survive our next POTUS and the cast of characters that will roam the capital building the next four years, and that maybe, just maybe, in my lifetime I will be fortunate enough to see a true statesman or stateswoman of humility, brilliance and vision rise up to serve.

Unknown

I’m writing this from a lovely campground where we spent the night and woke to a cool, refreshing rain. It’s a lot of pressure though, these words have to be good. You couldn’t script a scene more conducive to inspired writing.

Because my own inspired words are flowing meagerly, let me start with a few from one of the most inspiring writers of contemporary time—Wendell Berry. BTW: happy birthday, yesterday, Wendell.

“Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.”
— Wendell Berry

I’m not going to lie. As retirement draws near, I’m feeling a bit of “the ancient fear of the Unknown”. It’s not that I’m a workaholic or job-junkie. It’s not that I believe the role I play in the marketplace can’t be played by others. It’s not that I have some Trumpian savior-complex. It’s simple really: I’m addicted to a paycheck.

Is it science or speculation behind the statement that the two biggest fears people have are speaking before an audience and dying? Although I’m an extreme introvert, I’m not really shy and public speaking doesn’t bother me much. And when it comes to dying; I hold to the position of Woody Allen: “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

For me Fear has pretty much been centered in those things like the Unknown, and lack of trust.

Take amusment park rides for example. While I have ridden a few of the mildly daring rides at amusment parks. I would never ride one at, say, the state fair. It’s not that I doubt the physics, or the compentency of the guy who engineered the ride. But, have you taken a close look at the guys who put those rides together after taking them apart two weeks ago at the carnival up the road? I’m not saying they don’t know their nuts from their cotter pins; but… I know this, I wouldn’t want to ride a ride that I had put together. (Note to self: Don’t try to put this ride called “Life” together by yourself. You have to ride it in to the sunset once it’s built.)

I try to own my fears, phobias, trepidations, and angst. I do know from whence cometh my hope; although you might not be able to tell it sometimes. I only hope that I can truly trust that HOPE.

Thining of Wendell Berry’s words again, imaging them as a conversation:
Here are the big woods.
   But the familiar ground is so; familiar.
But isn’t it exciting, aren’t you curious about the new place?
   But the nagging dread is real. There’s a reason it’s called the ancient fear of the Unknown.
It is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.