Working Man

My father was a working man, a real working man. His hands were often cut and dirty. I loved that about him. I think people who never work with their hands miss important lessons, and so lack soul, character, intelligence, integrity, courage, etc. Ooops; my bias is showing. But really, nowadays, people who work with their hands are widely seen as children of a lesser god, not smart enough to escape physical labor. knifesharpeningBut I think physical labor helps us be sane – at least, sane enough to be able to tell what’s helping us and what’s setting us back. Chopping wood and hauling water make life manageable. A life of easy leisure does not.

Physical labor is a necessary step toward the light.

My dad was smart, but he had no formal education. Like most real workers who sweat and get dirty to feed their families, he had no time to read the books that expose the schemes of the various politicians. He worked with his dad from dark in the morning until dark at night building a knife sharpening business from scratch by hard, careful, relentless work. He bought a house for his family; paid cash for it. But he was politically adrift, and he found no time for God. (God didn’t mind.)

He drank too much; it killed him. He hit my mother at times. She may have unwittingly abetted this. And I think he cheated on his taxes. Well, nobody’s perfect. But I never heard him make excuses or speak ill of anyone. On his death bed, he spoke his last words to my brother, Peter, and me. Peter had asked him softly if it (life) had gone by fast. My dad, skinny and fragile, pale as onionskin, eyes full of fear, said soulfully, “Phew” – as though life had indeed gone by very fast, as if in an instant, as though time itself did not exist. And maybe it doesn’t.

No maybe about it.     Time does not exist. It only seems to.

As recently deceased Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, the amazingly loving and prolific master writer and speaker on the thought system, A Course In Miracles, put it: We think we sinned in what seems like the past. We feel guilty in what seems like the present. And we fear punishment, which looks like a scary future. Really, there is no past, present or future, just this moment now. It’s hard to grasp – but the illusion of Rome is now. The illusion of ancient Greece, the Soviet Union, etc., all are right now. And contrary to what Sigmund Freud found when he turned over the rock of human consciousness to look at our unconscious, we’re still spiritually innocent. Our sins, our selfish hateful behaviors, exist in this illusory world of time and space, and in our petty fearful hearts, but not in the one timeless Mind. In the Reality of God, Oneness, or Total Love, we’re all innocent forever. That’s Heaven; it’s where the wise ones live and call home.

Anyway, here I give my late in life words, as a heads up, mano a mano, puppet to puppet, human bean to human bean, to those I leave behind. Like me, it’s a work in progress. I make changes as I find errors. I’ve changed the words a zillion times. I mean this to be helpful – to help me heal my thinking, help readers see the process, and help my son to know his father’s mind and be happy. Although, in this guilt and hormone driven fantasy we call life, most of us struggle even to imagine happiness. Still, I hope this writing helps some to actually find it. Being a late bloomer myself, I urge even older readers to be optimistic that they, too, can find a manageable life, a path of peace through this storm of feelings.

If you turn a baby chick upside down and look for clues to its gender, you’ll see nothing telling. Farm kids have long been taught to identify a chick’s sex by looking at its underside and guessing. Then a teacher, someone who knows, tells them if they’re right or not. Most students eventually learn to get it right every time – but they can never say in words just exactly what they see that helps them get it right. Much of our learning comes this way – from teachers who know.

As a teacher, I favor the cultivation of internal controls in (big and small) people – that is, insightful personal decision-making. I’ve always met opposition to this from government. Governments tend to push external controls; that is, rules and punishments. External controls help government operatives distance themselves from the people they govern – so they don’t have to know them or love them or take the seeming risks that comes with genuine intimacy.