Tag Archives: life

Go West Young Man

The morning sun shines down through the leaves of the aspen between the peaks of the Rockies and I marvel at the scenery and wish I could enjoy this kind of natural beauty every day. Driving in a rented Kia Sorrento is not doing the trip justice. I need my convertible Mustang or better yet, my Shadow Aero, since the mountains tower over the road and I have to crane my neck to see them, and the road is as curvy and winding as any I have navigated. My Mustang would love to test its suspension on these roads. I lean into each turn and revel in the feeling of being pulled this way and that as a new vista appears before me after each curve and I wish I was on my motorcycle. I have no schedule to keep, no pressing matters to attend to, so I can just wander down these mountain roads till my heart’s content. I have already written several years ago about how I feel drawn to the mountains, but it is more than that. In the 1800’s, as land was plentiful and jobs back east were scarce, there was a marketing push to entice people to move out to the newly opened west that said “Go West Young Man.” As my life has been changing and presenting more challenges, I’m hearing that slogan more and more lately.

For this year’s recertification trip to Colorado, I took some vacation time and came up ahead of time to have a little mini-vacation. I was originally thinking about spending time hiking near Pike’s Peak and Colorado Springs, but then I remembered something someone told me about the Elk bugling in Estes Park. I’ve been to Pike’s Peak twice already, so, when I left the airport in Denver, I drove north to Estes Park instead of south. I booked no reservations. I researched no activities. I just drove and allowed my mind some freedom. Of course, one drawback was that, without reservations, I had no place to spend the night and since I landed at eight PM and it takes at least an hour to get out of the Denver airport, it was after 10:30 when I reached Estes Park. No place was open. I was seriously worried I would be spending the night in the car. Fortunately, I found an Econolodge that, even though it was also closed, the owner lives in the office, so he booked me a room.

I woke up early and wandered the streets in Estes Park this morning before the town woke up. None of the stores were open and several people were setting up a farmer’s market in the town square. The skies were clear blue and the air clung to a chill that made me question my decision to not bring a jacket. As I walked along the quaint main street, I even heard the bugling of an Elk. I saw a couple of them as well. They walked right in front of me as I drove down the road, just like they fully believed they had the right of way. After the stores finally opened, the people came out in droves. The roads filled up quickly, jammed with all kinds of vehicles from Jags to Beemers to motorcycles to Vespas. I figured it was time to get out of town, so I drove along one of the roads leading out of town and once I cleared all the touristy places and found nature, I was blown away by the scenery. If I never before made the connection as to why these were called the Rocky Mountains, it became clear today. The mountains are full of jagged slabs of granite, limestone and dolomite interspersed with the aspen, oak and evergreen forests. Large boulders are everywhere as are spills of smaller boulders, rocks and pebbles. It is a plethora of rocks.

Since it was getting close to lunch time, I decided to turn around and head back. I was hoping to find another hotel or B&B that was not too expensive, but the only ones I found were twice what the Econolodge charged. It seems Estes Park is a tourist town. It also seems that there is an Irish festival in town this weekend, which accounts for the scarcity of rooms and the higher rates. So I booked another night in the same place. Definitely not the nicest hotel I have stayed in, but since I only plan on sleeping there, I thought “eh.” I have to get up and out early to hike the trails if I want to see the moose and squirrel. And bear. And elk. And whatever other creature I can find.

After securing the room for another evening, I decided to tool around a little and saw a sign that said “Devil’s Gulch” and thought, hey! That sounds like a grand idea! So I drove down the road, fully expecting to see perhaps an old mining town, or a ghost town or something. I saw Glenhaven. It seems there is not a specific place called Devil’s Gulch, rather, it is an area that includes Glenhaven, which was essentially a road nestled in the mountains with about four buildings. The largest one was a B&B that I thought would be an even better place to stay than the Econolodge, but it was closed for renovation. Upon closer examination, it needed some serious renovation. Across the street was the general store offering coffee for a quarter. It was really not much more than a convenience store with a tiny deli counter. Outside the store was a large box on a pole. Inside the glass-fronted box were several books; about twelve. Above it was a sign that said Glenhaven Library. That says pretty much everything about Glenhaven. I would live there though, just for the views. Spectacular.
As I left Glenhaven it occurred to me. I hate crowds. I hate traffic. I hate the hustle and bustle of city life. I have lived in Houston for fifteen years now and the only reason I moved there was to be closer to my kids. In that time, Houston has only gotten bigger and more crowded. I want to live out where one can drive for an hour without seeing another person. I want to live where the only people I see are close friends and family, and then only on occasion. Even Estes Park is too crowded for me. It is a tourist town. I know many people come here on vacation all the time. These people book the resorts and the B&Bs and the luxury hotels. I never really appreciated that kind of vacation. When I go places, I want to immerse myself in the culture and history of the area. I want to experience the place the way the residents do, not the tourists. I want to see the natural beauty, the history, the life of a town, not some contrived entertainment designed to appeal to tourists that don’t really know the area. This is why I leave the town and drive. On that curvy little road, I spotted dozens of log cabins, ranch houses and even some mini-mansions. This made me think that maybe there are no more wide open places anymore, but these houses are spread out, so it’s not like they’re a subdivision. I could live in one.

A small creek runs alongside that road out of Estes Park and at one point, there was a small waterfall. I stopped there to get some photographs, which necessitated climbing down to the creek from the
road across a bed of large chunks of granite and limestone to get to the creek. After I shot my pics, I took several moments to just sit there and let myself be open to nature, open to God, open to whatever thoughts would come. People don’t commune with nature enough and people certainly don’t pray enough. I did both and I felt at peace there, in that moment. Perhaps the mountains are indeed calling for me to head west.

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Perpetual Snooze

I have an alarm clock on my nightstand, as I’m sure many people do.  Maybe not as many as before the digital age, but I have been in enough places to notice that alarm clocks are still common (although the selection at the local retailer is getting as small as the software isle).  I have this clock set to go off at 6 am.  It does this without regard to which day of the week it is.  Even though it is Bluetooth enabled, it does not have programming options to set which days it goes off automatically.  I have to manually tell it to go off or not.  I also have my cell phone set to go off every weekday at 5:30 am and unlike my clock, I don’t have to turn off the alarm on the weekends because it does that by programming.  And just as a backup, I have a Zigbee automated outlet that turns my lamp on at 5:30 too.  I have to be up and heading for the shower by 6 to make it to work on time and this regime helps to keep me on time.  Of course, no one wants to get up early if they don’t have to.  The weekends have long been the respite from early mornings of buzzing clocks and chiming phones.  But the sad truth is I don’t really need any of this stuff.  As the years go by, my body has developed a more annoying way of ensuring I get up before 6 everyday, regardless of which day of the week it is.

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When I was young, my parents were always up before me on school days.  Even though we had to leave for school before they went to work, mom was up and about ensuring we had everything we needed to get off to the bus stop in time.  On the weekends, however, no one needed to tell us to get up.  My brother and I made a point of being up and in front of the TV for our Saturday morning cartoons.  Superfriends, Scooby Doo, and Bugs Bunny set our internal alarm clocks and we never hit snooze.  By the time Fat Albert came on, we were ready to head outside for whatever mischief we could dig up.  This internal alarm clock didn’t work on Sundays, however.  Mom had to drag us out of bed in time to get ready for church.
As I got older, sleep became more alluring.  In my teen years, my internal alarm clock got stuck on perpetual snooze.  Either that or it broke entirely.  Most adolescents share this antipathy toward getting out of bed, which lasts well into their 20’s.  I thought it would last forever.  I imagined spending long, languid days lounging in bed on the weekends.  I didn’t count on aging.  I didn’t remember my Granny’s example.
Every time we went to visit Granny, she was out of bed and in her recliner with a steaming cup of Folgers and the morning edition of the Democrat-Gazette before any of us had even shuffled to the bathroom.  This happened seven days a week.  This happened even though she was retired from her position as a teacher.  I remember, as a teenager, being in awe that she was always up so early, even though she didn’t have to be.  Why would any sane person be out of bed at 6 am if they didn’t absolutely HAVE to be under penalty of death or dismemberment?
Well, now I know.
Once a body hits a certain age–and this age is different for different people–it has different requirements and priorities.  While sleep is still important, the priority is often just a short walk down the hallway or in the adjacent room.  This priority is often attended in a semi-conscious state if awake at all.  Now, after relieving that priority, one might assume one could just drift back to bed, but no; the body has yet other ideas.  After trying to nestle back into the just-starting-to-cool sheets of the bed, I feel like a dog turning circles trying to settle in.  I end up flipping back and forth, rolling from one side to the other trying to get comfortable again to no avail.  With a groan of frustration, I look at the clock.  6 am.  Almost every day.  Some days it’s even earlier.  Most mornings, I spend a few minutes counting down until the alarm clock sounds. 
The true frustration is on the weekends, when I would really like to spend a few hours catching up on some Z’s as the morning light begins to stream in through the windows.  Alas, the times my body lets me stay in bed past oh-dark-thirty are few and far between, to the point of being rare.  Even this morning, I was awake and doing my horizontal rolling dance, trying to find a comfortable position until I surrendered to the inevitable and got up at 7:30.  Most weekends, I lay in bed and listen to my lovely wife softly snore and other times, I sit in the family room and listen to her not so softly snore.
There are benefits to this internal alarm clock.  I never oversleep.  I am usually on time for work.  I am rarely affected by time changes messing me up.  My internal clock seems to be on daylight savings time at the appropriate instances and it accounts for time zones when I travel.  Perhaps I could try to package this.  I could single handedly put the alarm clock industry out of business.  Too bad my internal clock doesn’t have Bluetooth.

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It’s Not a Matter of Choice

Previously, we looked at the Pro-Choice argument in what is one of the biggest issues dividing our country. Many people, mostly (but not exclusively) liberals, feel that a woman has the right to determine what happens to her body. It is a laudable position and it is difficult (but not impossible) to make an argument against it. The flipside of the argument is the hot button and it is the language that sets people at odds. Pro-life. The term is inherently positive in its connotation. I like life. I am all for life. Are you not in favor of life? The opposite of life is death. Is not life better than death?

Who can honestly take the position opposite pro-life? Who would want to be labeled as being pro-death? Those opposed to the pro-life position cast themselves as pro-choice because it sounds better than pro-death or anti-life. So, in order to enter into a discussion on the issue, they do a rhetorical shift to a different, although related, issue.

To terminate a viable pregnancy is, quite simply, killing. Those who take the pro-death stance claim that it is not killing, since it is not born. In actuality, it is killing—if only the group of cells that form the fetus. Those cells die as a direct result of the intervention of abortion. If that pregnancy is left to progress to its natural conclusion, the chances are very good that a human being will be born. To intentionally terminate the pregnancy is to end that human being’s existence, which is tantamount to murder. Those who would champion a woman’s right to choose to not have a baby do not want to stigmatize themselves by admitting that. Many who align themselves with the pro-choice camp are opposed to abortion for themselves, but champion a woman’s right to choose for herself. These individuals are evading the thrust of the argument. It is not a matter of choice. To end a pregnancy is to kill a human being, and none of the usual arguments can justify that.

Some arguments claim that to deny a woman access to the abortion option will force the woman to subject her body to possible risks associated with childbirth. There are far fewer risks with child birth than with abortion. Child birth is a natural process. The human body was designed—among other things—for this purpose. Surgical or medicinal abortion is the opposite of natural; it is mankind altering the natural process and that is far riskier than anything natural. Life is a risky proposition in any case; one does not give up and die when the risks seem too high, so why should a baby have to?

Some would argue that to deny abortion would put more children into an already overtaxed adoption system, or put the single mothers on welfare. There are still many families on waiting lists to adopt new children, and there are many alternatives to welfare such as family or church support. And while many families find themselves burdened by an unwanted pregnancy, many others find themselves drawing closer and healing broken relationships during the process.

Some would argue that these children may not survive anyway, considering the child mortality rate. Life is always a gamble and any one of us could die tomorrow. Does that mean we should have been denied the opportunity for life? One can never morally deprive a person of the opportunity to be a productive member of society just because it is inconvenient that he or she exists. There are plenty of homeless that many in our society would prefer didn’t exist, but no one would suggest that killing them is a viable option.

Unfortunately the courts have not made the determination that killing an unborn baby is murder because there is debate on when “life” occurs. Is a fetus a baby? If so, at what point does it become so? Well, to put a point on it, it happens when the gamete is formed. That starts a sustained chain reaction of cellular division that grows into a person, therefore it is alive. Some would argue that it is not sentient, it is not self-aware and it cannot exist outside the womb so it must not be alive. There has been a consensus in the medical field that if the baby can exist and survive outside the womb, then it is alive and medical doctors have set that time limit at 20 weeks. This has led to a public acceptance of abortions prior to the 20-week mark, even though many people still try to abort babies past that time. This was set for political expedience: to appease both sides and try to quell the argument; something it fails to do. To say that a baby that cannot survive outside the womb is not a baby is the same as saying that an infant should be able to fend for itself and doesn’t need parents.

Life is precious and needs to be nurtured by its parents from the moment the sperm enters the egg. No infant can survive on its own, whether in the womb or out. To think otherwise is an exercise in delusion. Destroying a fetus is the same as killing the newborn and it is just as wrong. It is not an issue of choice. It never has been. The choice issue is choosing to engage in unprotected sex. Make your choices there…not after conception.

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