Don’t really know where the term “The Short Rows” originated, I first heard it as a lad, applied to the practice of plowing a field. When you are harvesting or plowing a field, and you are almost done, you are in “the short rows” which is the very edge of the field.
It also could apply to a person’s life, when you reach that point, where you have more of it behind you and very little of it left in front of you.
And last, I guess we could apply it to the year, being close to November, we are in “the short rows of 2008,” and 2009, is just around the corner.
I remember a long time ago, walking in a graveyard in Livermore, California, I came across a tombstone (head marker) that read: “As you are, I once was. As I am, you someday shall be.” That always stuck with me for some reason. A grain of truth in that believe it or not. What goes round … Comes around … Where I am at, you are some day going to be.
That is, if you are not already there.
There are three things that will eat your proverbial lunch in this life. Most folks would agree with me on this, and they are: (1) Taxes. You have them always, they never go down, and they never, ever, go away. (2) Insurance. You are dammed if you have it and dammed if you don’t. Almost like heroin, it is something you cannot live without. (3) Health Care. Which is of course, a form of insurance, but never the less, something you desperately need. A very necessary economic fact, especially on the downhill side of life.
So, as I am so fond of saying, down the road you go. You work hard, you build something, and hopefully you rest a bit.
Youth has a way of slipping by without your really noticing it. One day you stand before the mirror as you have day after day, but this day it is different. What was youth, is no longer there staring back at you. You get busy working, raising a family, watching the kids grow, spending every waking hour searching for that little extra each month, to kind of nudge it over the top.
You plan and you scheme, you cry and you dream, God smiles,and life just sorta slips by unnoticed. The weeks into months, months into years, first thing y’know.
Looking back to 1974 (which to me, doesn’t seem all that long ago, but it was) I can remember stretching my monthly dollar value to buy the best possible house I could afford. It cost me and the bride, $118 a month, and at that time, I was really concerned that I would be able to meet that $118 obligation each month. Today the taxes alone, are over that amount. By the time I had finished paying off that house, some seven years early on a thirty-year note. My payment had escalated to over $269 per month. Why?
Taxes and Insurance.
It is almost impossible for me to even wonder where all of this is going to end up in the end. My only consolation being, I more than likely am looking at the short rows on this at this point in my life. So in retrospect you wonder if you made a change. Did you leave something for the next person down the pike?
I am not sure if I have or not, to tell you the truth.
In a way, you want to warn young people of the apparent dangers of government that is clearly running a muck. You want to try and point out the pitfalls of life, and give them a friendly “heads up” on what is really going on. You don’t want them to have to deal with the misery and pain that you have experienced, you feel the need to pass something onto them, so hopefully, their generation can make a positive change.
Most of the time this simply doesn’t work, and falls on deaf ears. As such was the case when my father and those before him, tried to pass it on to me. Generational curse or something I guess.
It is often difficult trying to deal or explain things to someone twenty years old or younger. They see the world in a totally different light than others. The American Dream is totally out of reach or foreign to them in scope or concept and the moral foundation is completely different from people my age. It often screws things up big time, communication is at best, difficult.
Just in case you weren’t feeling old enough today, the remainder of this will certainly change things. If you have hung in here this far, might as well stick around for the rest.
The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were for the most part, born in 1990. they have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan Era and probably did not know he was shot. They know nothing of LBJ’s Great Society, Nixon’s resignation and shame, Woodstock or Kent State.
They were infants when the Persian Gulf War was waged, pre-pubescent when Saddam went down, more than likely, have only known one Pope in their lifetime. They were children when the Soviet Union broke apart and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, they do not remember or possibly even know of the meaning of the word, Cold War.
The majority of them are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up. Tienanmen Square means nothing to them. Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic. Jay Leno has always been the host of the Tonight show.
Atari predates them as do vinyl albums and hot wax. The expression “You sound like a broken record” sounds foreign to them and more than likely has no meaning. They have never owned a record player. They have likely never played “Pac Man” and never heard of “Pong.” The CD was introduced when they were one year old.
All homes have always had an answering machine, home computer, most have never seen a television with only thirteen channels or a black and white TV. They have always had cable TV available to them. There have always been VCR’s but they have no idea what BETA was. They cannot fathom life without the use of a remote control.
They don’t know what a cloth baby diaper is, or know about the “Help Me! I have fallen and I cannot get up commercial” famous years ago. They were born in the year that Walkman’s were introduced by Sony. Roller skates have always meant “in line” to them. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool and country music was not.
Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave. They have never seen Larry Bird play. They never took a swim in the ocean and worried about “Jaws.” The Viet Nam War is an ancient history to them as WW I, WW II, Civil war and Korea.
They have no idea that American’s were once held hostage in Iran. They can’t imagine what a hard contact lens might be. They don’t know who Mork was or where he was from (it was the planet Ork, if anyone cares to remember). They never heard the expression “Where’s the beef?”… “I’d walk a mile for a Camel or “de plane!, de plane! (Fantasy Island ABC).”
They have no idea as to who shot J.R. and more than likely even who he was.
Michael Jackson has always been white (or kind of off white). Kansas, Chicago, Boston, America, and Alabama are places they have heard of, not bands. They never new Cassius Clay but followed Muhammad Ali and have seen the movie of his life and times. There has always been MTV. They don’t have a clue as to how to use a typewriter, have never purchased a 19 cent hamburger from McDonalds or purchased .22 cent per gallon gasoline.
So when you stop and try to explain something to the younger set, you are more than likely not on the same page, level, plain, or neighborhood. It is entirely possible you could not even been remotely close to their zip code.
Having no earthly clue as to which way the wind will blow in this country in the coming years, having no crystal ball to look down the beaten path a ways, I just do my best to pass on what it is that I do know. The future for me is just as hidden as the past I can no longer see.
So in the time that I have, I feel it is my duty to try and pass on something, anything that I can. To humbly explain whenever possible that there should be more to life than just being a tax slave for the U.S. government (or any damn government). The longing of the human condition to search out and find life, we deserve it, we need it.
It seems so necessary now, to just to take the shot, plant the seed and hope it lands somewhere where it will grow. Because as you see …We are all morally challenged (like it or not) to give something back as we pass thru life, we are all designated to try and change it and make it better.
Take time today to stop and consider one important aspect of life. If you fill your heart with regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, you have no today to be thankful for. If you want to make a change for the better … then it is up to you.
As my friend in the U.K. puts it … “Mind The Gap” … Celebrate life, don’t let it grind you down. Before you know it, you could find yourself like me, standing here in the short rows wondering where it all went. If there is one scintilla of truth in all of this it is this … As you are … I once was … As I am … You someday shall be.
Bet your last dollar on it.