“A Life of Meaning The Meaning of Life” ??? OR I might just call it “Soup”

Preface

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.

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I’m Trying

I’m getting better and I think I’ll try this again. Most of the fog and fuzz are gone, and I’m going to therapy for my leg and my back. when I fell on my head I scrambled the grey matter and the nerves in my low back got mixed up in the train wreck. It is a long pathway back to normal but they say I’m 3/4’s of the way home. In the meantime I will do my best to speed the process up. Thanks for your posts, they help to pass the time.

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Excused Absence

Fellow Bloggers, I apologize for being AWOL I had  surgery on my low back (L1 -L 5) eighteen days ago and then the fifty-four staples removed ten days ago.  I haven’t been able to do much writing with all that going on, I haven’t been up to much. I am still recuperating, so I probably will be out of commission for a bit more. Happy Blogging to all my blogging friends.

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Control

The following is another product of my random writing exercises.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject lately.  Control seems to be the thing that the younger generation wants more than anything else.  Control is power, and power brings money.  Albeit the root of all evil, money still equates to happiness, however brief, to those who posses it.  The idea of control gets into every single aspect of our living.  Communication can do much to sway the balance of control and hence power to those who can manipulate the ability to communicate.

In this day of the personal computer, and the Internet we have an interesting struggle for power (control) taking place.  The industry giants, Microsoft, Intel, and IBM, just to name a few are vying for control of the hardware and software that keeps all the networks in touch with each other, and the hubs of communication on the information highway humming.

Where would we be?  What would happen? If Someone pulled the plug on all this high tech cyberspace environment we have created, could we survive?  It is scary just thinking about it.

The one thing which is the most desirable for world leaders to control, is the one thing they will never be able to, thank God.  He has given each of us our own free will and choice to think and believe what we will.  This also gives us, within limits of our own choices the ability to do what we want when we want and for as long as we are able.  The controllers of the world will never be able to control what the individual mind will think and believe.

With the power to choose and think as we will, comes the responsibility to inform and educate ourselves so we can make wise choices.  With freer access to information it becomes harder and harder for those who would control, to manipulate public opinion and win elections.  That is why the controllers invented the evening news.  Most people are too lazy to read anymore.  They would rather sit on the couch and look at pictures or their favorite anchor person and listen to the news as it has been reinvented by the media hype mongers who would sell their grandmothers if it would help their Nielsen ratings.

Control freaks have an obsession to influence everything and everybody.  They want to create trends and markets.  They want to have a say about everything we do, say, or use in our daily lives.  From how many children we have, to the color of our underwear, they want to control it all.  If a person tries to be different or control their own manifest destiny, they are labeled as a weirdo and shunned by the mainstream of society.

This is why individuality and diversity are such important commodities.  We must fight to maintain our identity and our freedom of choice.  We must make the effort to get to the bottom of the evening news and find out what really happened.  We must learn not to believe everything we read, and only half of what we see.  Above all we must learn to think for ourselves and make decisions based on truth and facts.  We must learn to ask ourselves is this news story really important?  Will the news I hear tonight make any difference fifty years from now?

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MOVING!!

We just moved moved for the umpteenth time, once again to be closer to our family. we only got closer to three fourths of them but at least we are all in the same state for now. I looked back at some of my earlier writing exercises. which were based on random topics, and I found this little essay.

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I would have to sit down and concentrate on my whole life time memory bank to come up with an exact figure, but as best as I can tell without straining my brain, is, I’ve moved about fifty times plus a few, since I first showed up on this planet.  Moving is a traumatic experience at best.  It is only a small part of the constant of change that is an ongoing factor in the reality of my cosmos.

You would think that after the first two dozen times a person would get used to it as a way of life.  Wrong!!!  I will never get used to it.  That is why I will never move willingly, or of my own free-will and choice again.  I plan to stay right here in Cache Valley, Logan, Utah, at 1284 Eastridge Circle, until they come and get me, or the Lord comes to rule and reign on this earth.  Whichever comes first. Maybe when the Lord comes He’ll say, “You’ve moved enough.  If you want to you can stay right where you are.

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, well that’s not exactly true either.  If you can define moss as memories, friends, and a great plethora of good and bad experiences, then I have plenty of moss on this old rolling stone.  Now I’m going to settle down and spread it out around this new place I’ve found, and I hope it will do some of my friends and neighbors some good.

In all the moves that I have made in the past, I never remember being as calm about it before.  This move seems right for Marjie and I.  Marjie as usual was the prime motivator behind the change.  She has not moved as many times as I have, and I keep trying to tell her she can’t catch up until after I die.  We found the perfect home at the perfect location, for the right price, at the right time.  What more can we ask?  We put it into the Lord’s hands and He helped us.

Most people when they think of moving, believe they will be losing old friends, and making new ones.  They think all of the great things that are associated with the old situation or place will be lost, or the bad things that happened there will disappear.   All of these assumptions are incorrect.  When you make a friend, a true friend, that feeling of friendship, if it is real, will never fade away.  When you think of that person you will always feel special about the true friend.  Even if you never actually see that person again while you or they are alive, if the person is truly a friend then the friendship bond will last forever.  The same goes for the experiences we have, they will always be there in our minds to guide us and strengthen us.  Even the bad experiences can strengthen us if we will analyze them and learn from them.  So then is moving good, or bad?  I think it depends on the individual.

Some people spend an entire lifetime in one small locality.  Others are constantly changing locations, and situations.  For some moving is as natural as breathing, others move out of necessity or changing needs.  Whatever the reason for moving, it can be either good or bad, depending on the attitude and perspective of the mover.  I personally am torn, I sometimes envy people who have spent a lifetime in one town at one to three addresses.  Then when I get to know these people, I sometimes feel sorry for them because of their limited perspective, and lack of in-depth perception of what the real world is all about. Change is good as long as it is not destructive of what is good where it occurs

Whether you’re solid like a rock or rolling like a stone in the riverbed of life just be happy and try to spread the good to all you encounter.

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Ode to Christmas

           By Bill Willson

      No more carols in the cold winter night,

     No more trees green, blue or white;

     No more packages tied up with bows;

     Christmas has gone wher e’er  it goes.

     We can’t bring it back to this time or place;

     It’s tucked away without a trace;

     Down deep in our hearts, far out of sight;

     And when we falter and can’t stand our plight

     We remember the good times had round the tree;

     When all was love in remembering thee.

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Secret Santas

    By Bill Willson

I was four almost five. It was 1940, my dad was a recovering alcoholic working on a WPA project, and we were poor, but I didn’t know any of that stuff. It was the first year ever in which I had any type of real memories. We lived in the little house in a lane in West Berkeley, California. We spent almost a whole year there. I know this because I remember the rainy days of spring, before my fourth Birthday, Easter, the Fourth of July, and CHRISTMAS. The next spring when I turned five we were in another place. A whole year doesn’t sound like much, but for a kid only four, a year is a significant chunk of living. Ah, but what I want to tell about is my best Christmas, when I was a little child, and still believed in magic. I want to tell you about the first Christmas I remember, and Santa’s First Visit to my house.

When we moved into this small, brown shingle, two story cottage, in the lane, I was already a runabout. On the east end of the lane on the corner of 7th and University, was a plumbing store. The men who worked there were very friendly and they liked me, everyone liked me, I was Billy Willson. They would talk to me, and answer my questions as I watched them work in the shop that bordered our lane behind the store. There was a barber shop next to the plumbing store. The barber and I were good friends, even though he never cut my hair. Dad did that. I liked the smells that came from these two places. I visited them regularly, as I made my daily rounds in the neighborhood. There were several other places around the block that I would stop off and visit. There was an elderly couple who lived on the corner at the top of the hill, the mothers of some of my playmates, Joey’s old grandmother, and a nice lady next-door. I guess I was quite a talker; people liked my visits with them. I especially liked to stop where they gave me cookies or fruit, I never asked, they just gave them to me.

On Christmas Eve, my 23 year old brother Buddy came home to visit, and to show us his “new” car, a 1934 Ford Roadster, with a rumble seat. After dinner the family decorated our small Christmas tree set up on top of a card table, so it could be seen through the front window, by passers-by in the lane. Buddy and my 14 year old sister Leora had fun putting the tinsel on and arguing about just how and where it should go. I helped too, and the tree was beautiful when we were done.

Mom and Dad had very few presents to put under the tree that year, but I didn’t care, Santa would be there soon. Buddy took us all for a ride up in the hills to see the Christmas lights in Piedmont. There were a lot of big houses with brilliant displays of trees, colored lights, and beautiful Christmas scenes. When we got back it was way past my bedtime, but on the lighted front porch I saw a pile of stuff. When I discovered Santa had come, I came wide awake and was too excited to go to sleep. I was told Santa probably couldn’t get in the house because we didn’t have a chimney. There were a few wrapped presents for the family, and lots of things for me. He brought me a Radio Flyer wagon, a scooter, some new clothes, and a big sock filled with fruit, nuts, and candy, a coloring book with Crayons, and some modeling clay. I think our little family went to sleep that cold winter night, feeling the warmth and magic of Christmas. I don’t recall going to sleep.

I was up bright and early Christmas day. Mom let me put on my new clothes. I loaded all my treasure into my wagon, tied it to the back of my scooter, and pulled it around the block to show all my friends. With my perfect 20/20 adult hindsight I have a feeling they already knew what I had received from Santa, but they never let on. I went to show my stuff to the guys in the plumbing shop, and the barber the next day, they too acted surprised.

This special memory lingers deep in my subconscious to resurface every December and make me notice all the tantalizing sights, sounds, and smells of this magical time of year. I especially notice all the children as they look with wonder at the magic in the store windows or lights on a tree. My little boy heart is free again, to think about the Christmas when jolly old Saint Nick, brought the fun he and his elves created, in the toy-shop at the North Pole, to my house. I guess even now, seventy-three years later, I still believe in the magic of Santa’s First Visit. More importantly, I recognize among the bright lights and tinsel, the true spirit of Christmas symbolized by God’s gift given to all of the world two thousand years ago.

The End

 

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