“I’m humbled, honored, proud.” ~Michelle Obama, at the unveiling of her official portrait (source)
I don’t think she knows what the word “humbled” means.
Of course, the word “literally” now literally means “figuratively,” so maybe the definition of “humbled” changed, too, while I was distracted with other things. Maybe I’m the one using it wrong.
That’s a humbling thought.
I took my 87-year-old father to the drug store today, where he bought my 81-year-old mother a Valentine’s card and a box of candy.
When we got home he hid them in his underwear drawer.
Hidden Folks is my favorite mobile game.
Calling it a “game” might be an overstatement. There’s no scoring, there is no timer, there are no targets. There is no way to win or lose. Really, you just sort of wander around and explore stuff.
Kind of like my life.
You can visit their website HERE.
I worked with a man named Charlie years ago in Houston. I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten his last name. When we met he was nearing retirement age.
He was one of the very first Americans into Berlin at the close of World War II. He told me there were dead bodies everywhere; soldiers, civilians, dogs, horses, mules. The health threat was imminent, and there was no time for formalities. It was his job to drag the corpses, humans and animal, and toss them into the basements of bombed out buildings. Bulldozers would push rubble on top of them.
He was 18.
It was almost fifty years after those events when he told them to me. He didn’t tear up exactly, but his eyes became distant and vacant, like he was looking at something far off, near the horizon; the thousand-yard stare.
He wanted to move up in the chemical company we both worked for, but he didn’t have the cut-throat mentality that environment demanded. He was compassionate. He was empathetic. He was kind. They used him up and tossed him aside.
He contracted cancer and took early retirement, and died not long after. His stories went with him.
Too many people remember the victory parades. Too many people remember the arrogant posturing of generals MacArthur and Patton. Too many people remember the glory and the riches that followed.
Not enough people remember Charlie.
I shook hands with a man who shook hands with Jimi Hendrix. (He said it was a very limp handshake. Guitar players try to protect their hands.)
So, everyone who has shaken hands with me is now part of that chain, too; they’ve shaken hands with a man who shook hands with a man who shook hands with Jimi Hendrix.
And I was thinking, over coffee this morning, how we’re all connected to each other through a chain of touches. We could conceivably construct a chain connecting ourselves to anyone, living or dead, from Mozart to the Queen of England.
All of us part of a huge web of touches.
Kurt Cobain’s problems began with chronic stomach pain and ended in suicide. Michael Jackson’s problems began with chronic back pain and ended in overdose. Prince’s problems began with chronic knee pain and ended in overdose. Tom Petty’s problems began with chronic hip pain and ended in overdose.
I can’t blame them. I understand not wanting to hurt.
I wish I had an answer.
I worked with a woman once who had gone to prison as a teenager and not released until her early thirties.
She told me that the first thing she did when she got out was go to the grocery store to buy a pack of gum. Gum wasn’t allowed in prison, and it had become very significant to her.
While there, she had a panic attack in the toothpaste aisle. She found the number of choices overwhelming. For most of her life, there had been only one choice– a generic white tube with black lettering.
I think it’s good to remind ourselves sometimes of all the simple things we take for granted.