Is it soup yet? Ah, soup! Soup is comforting stuff that makes shoveling snow on a cold winter day bearable. Soup is a wonderful life-sustaining conglomeration of nourishing ingredients that are as diverse as life itself. Soup means many different things to many different cultures and people. One family’s soup is another family’s heartburn. So it is with life. What I am offering here is my own version of the soup I call life. I sincerely hope you will find it nourishing and free from heartburn.
Back in olden times, where our primitive roots are buried, every hut in every village had a pot hung over the fire. In this pot was the brew that held the family together. It was a hopelessly complicated conglomeration of leftovers and other odds and ends gleaned from the forest and fields round about the homestead. Unlike modern times nothing was ever wasted. This was the stuff of life. No two pots of soup were the same, yet all contributed to health, strength and well being of the family members who gathered around the hearth and partook of the simple fare that nourished their bodies and souls.
I didn’t actually begin my quest to become a writer until I was past the half-century mark, and I had already done most of my living. I figured I had lived long enough, to sit down and begin writing. The next big question was what to write about? All the sages of the craft said, Write what you know. What do I know? That is a tough question, after living more than seven decades; I figured I knew a lot. On the other hand, Socrates, after living his entire seventy years of life in a quest for knowledge, said just before he died, “I know nothing.” Surely I know much less than the great Socrates, and yet, I do know a few valuable lessons that life has taught to me that are worth passing along.
As I began to get serious about my writing, I decided I needed some credibility. So I took some time away from my full time writing, and sought after a BS degree in English. While attending university I wrote a short non-fiction work called “You Just Might be a Writer,” about the characteristics, psyche, and idiosyncratic behavior patterns of the segment of society who are labeled writers. Not so much authors, but of course authors are included. My book primarily focuses on those writers who hesitate to call themselves writers, because they have never been paid an obscene amount of money for any of their work. I knew about this, because I am in this category myself. Although I believe my little book is a very fine piece of work, I have yet to find a publisher willing to risk any money on a work about writing, by an almost completely unpublished writer. After graduation I revisited the original question, what should I write? I decided to write about life. In a way, isn’t that what all writers do when they write what they know? The problem is, many set out to write about life, and what they end up with is a fictionalized version of what they remember about their own life. This is good, but what about real life? What I am attempting to produce here is reality literature, based on my own experiences, through the medium of essays, and memoir.
Many famous personalities have written about life and the lessons it has taught them. It seems to be a given, that, publishers will pay dearly for anything celebrities care to write about, because it will sell. That is all well and good I thought but how many good writers who are just ordinary people have written about life? Who have especially written about what they have learned from a lifetime of living, loving, struggling, and learning sans fame or wealth?
This book is about ordinary life, and what it has taught me. I am as ordinary as one can get and still be human. I have lived some seventy odd years and have learned much. Some of the topics I have chosen to touch on are: faith in God, Love and Marriage, Beauty, Courage, Space, both inner and outer, evolution vs. creation; origin of life; geological evidence of Noah’s flood; Time, Work, happiness, sorrow, living, learning, and human destiny, in general the meaning and purpose of life. These are valuable lessons for anyone just trying to make it through mortality or this struggle we call life. Hopefully, this book will also help the reader to look forward to what I believe we all can expect after this mortal life is finished, and we pass through the veil into eternity.
While taking a creative writing course I discovered that the essay had evolved beyond the basic, boring, five paragraph format taught in my high school days, and I learned to love the creative non-fiction essay, as the fourth genre. I had quite a collection of essays, writing exercises, poetry, and isolated opinion pieces about life in general and some that would qualify as answers to some of life’s big questions. I classified all of this material as The Soup of Life. So, I thought, Why not? I’ll just write about my own life lessons, and hope that they will be of interest or helpful to some of the readers who are trudging along life’s path.
I feel qualified to write this book because I have been somewhat successful in overcoming a troubled unstable start in life, and I had to grow up rather quickly. I have been married for close to a half century, and my wife and I have raised four beautiful children and we are the grandparents of seventeen wonderful grandchildren. I had a successful career in surveying and land engineering. I served my country during the Cold War doing top secret work vital to our national and global defense systems. Everything in this collection touches on some facet of my life’s lessons. As I have experienced life and enjoyed the discovery of these lessons, I have tried to put them into practice in my daily living and I feel I have gained wisdom from life’s successes and failures. The lessons that I present here are from my own weltanschauung. It is the world-view of this ordinary human being, trying to get by in an extraordinary world. I am not looking for arguments here, if you read this, and disagree with parts of it, just ignore that part, find a way that suites you better, and continue your journey, but take what you can from my writing and apply it to living a life of meaning. I hope some of it helps you in your life struggles.
This is the stuff that has made my life enjoyable, and has given me a reason and purpose for living. Life teaches mere mortals many hard lessons. Some of us take longer to learn from the teacher than others. No one can ever learn all of life’s lessons. That is why I have sub-titled this work Life Lessons, instead of Life’s Lessons. The difference, though subtle, is quite significant. Life’s Lessons would imply ALL that life has to teach us, and no one can ever learn it all during mortality. These lessons are some of the most precious I have learned while struggling to perfect myself. The longer I live the more I realize what an impossible task perfection of self is. Individual perfection is nonexistent within any single lifetime. No one except Jesus has ever attained perfection. Other than Him there has never been a perfect human being.
All of these lessons are part of The Soup of Life. These lessons are the soup that sustains my life. They have helped me to get through the tough parts. The parts where I have had to make some kind of a decision when there really was no clear cut answer in sight. These are the times when I had to rely on God, and the values that I have learned to trust along my path to tomorrow. In the eternal spectrum of a changing world, I try to be ready for the great and dreadful day promised by the prophets of old, the day when the Lord Jesus will come again to the earth that he has created and assume his millennial reign over all his children who are ready to serve Him.
On that day, I hope to be found among those who are earnestly trying to obey his mind and will, so that I will be able to stay and either learn from Him or teach those who will need further instruction. If you hunger and thirst for the sustaining force of life and are unsure of the things that will give you this nourishment, then stay and read. Think about what will nourish your soul and help you to enjoy all the good stuff in this soup. I hope it will warm your soul and comfort you.