If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

If you are a salmon swimming upstream, a grizzly bear tries to take a bite out of you, you slip out of its mouth and die before spawning, would you think your life had any meaning as your body parts decompose and feed multiple non-bear lifecycles?

What about the soldier who committed suicide before reproducing himself?

Or the young girl ridiculed at school who steps in front of a subway train?

Or the farmer who died of a heart attack in the field with ten children to feed?

What about a planet full of fossils but no living beings at this time?

In other words, do we have to give meaning to or put everything in context with our current civilisation?

I have added seven more books to my collection, books which belonged to my father and my great-uncle:

  • The Armored Forces of the United States Army, (c) MCMXLIII by Rand McNally, foreword by Brigadier General David G. Barr, General Staff Corps
  • The Coast Artillery Corps of the United States Army, (c) MCMXLIII by Rand McNally, foreword by Major General J. A. Green, President, U.S. Coast Artillery Association
  • Recruit Handbook, published and distributed for recruits at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, California, 1941 (?), owned by G.T. Green 567-70-46, a word of welcome by R. S. Haggart, Commodore, U.S. Navy Center Commander
  • Mathematics, Volume 1, Basic Navy Training Courses, NAVPERS 10069-A, published by United States Government Printing Office: 1951, owned by Porter (rank unknown)
  • Watch Officer’s Guide, by Captain Russell Willson, United States Navy, published by United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, 1941
  • Same as above, formerly owned by Ensign Paul F. Glynn, given to my father
  • The Bluejackets’ Manual, United States Navy, 1940, Tenth Edition, published by United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland, 1940

Everywhere I turn in research of my father’s material, I find war memorabilia.

My father never let WWII out of his thoughts.  Further, his Army service during the Cold War gave him fluency in the German language as well as a group of lifelong friends.

My father read spy novels and enjoyed watching John Wayne movies, which reminded him of his youth, going to the theatre on Saturday to watch serialised cowboy movies.

Soon, I will run out of Dad’s material to rummage through.

Then, I will have my mother to spend more time with.

I will not worry about dangling modifiers or prepositional phrases that my father, a professor of 20+ years, taught me to pay attention to.

Days spent with my father are as gone as living beings that became fossils on another planet, with no one to tell their tale.

I only have this moment to call my own.

My nieces and nephews will have a few memories of their uncle that became part of their narratives they pass on now and in the future.

Every day, I gain a bit of wisdom, creating an insight from my observations.

What have I gained from today?

My grandfather and his brother in-law (my great-uncle) both served in the U.S. Navy during WWII — the former remaining a career sailor, the latter returning to civilian life as a U.S. Postal Inspector.

My father, a youth at that time, had plenty of heroes to call his own — war heroes, film heroes — because he was, in part, making up for the lack of his biological father.

In my youth, who were my heroes?  Richard Nixon and his staff, my father, my Scout leaders, some of my teachers, actors who played James Bond, Euell Gibbons, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Rodale, Red Skelton, and others.

I didn’t have any war heroes.  The Vietnam War was not the type of engagement that the mass media used to create heroes for kids.  We learned about heroes of other wars like George Washington, Sergeant York and General Patton.  We watched protest marches and heard about European terrorist groups like the Red Brigade and American criminals like the Symbionese Liberation Army.

The battle for my set of thoughts was fought not in terms of Axis vs. Allies but cocaine-filled discotheques fueled by bands like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer vs. Boy Scout campfire songs and summer church camp singalongs.

The clash of subcultures continues unabated.

In 1,000 years, the fossilised remains of today’s subcultures will be studied for the minute traces of continuity between one time period and another.  Genealogical institutes will try to connect heroes of the past to common people wanting a feeling of blood-related significance.

The cycles go on and on.

What kinds of songs are we teaching our children?  Singalong songs that were the pop culture tunes of their day or modern songs that reflect the tastes of today?

More importantly, are we creating heroes that our children will continue to admire in their senior years, long after we’re gone?

Do we have to have heroes to give meaning to our lives?

Do we have to have children to leave a legacy and/or do we have to leave a legacy at all, knowing we’re always part of the multiple lifecycles of the universe?

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