We exist in an ever-changing world. One in which tomorrow is not a given thing. Our choices are prolific. I look around and see the excavation of history and the expanding field of space exploration but at the same time a diminishing protective shield that surrounds our planet due to an increase in temperature from chemical diffusion in the atmosphere. The pollution of our natural water sources combined with the overwhelming harvest of the seas can only mean less food and poorer water for us all. Added to this would be man’s culpability for selfdestruction, anywhere from theft, murder, racial differences, religious tensions, territorial debates, terrorist debacles, alcohol and drug abuse, and the list goes on and on.
What we seem to be missing is the main ingredient, the one most spectacular gift we have been given, and that is life itself. As our planet revolves, another dawn approaches, which offers another chance to see a glorious sunrise or perhaps to feel a drop of rain or hear a bolt of thunder as lightening splits the air we breathe. The living force of mother nature shakes hands with humanity, and all is well for the moment, and that is all we have. I choose to live while I can. I want to see another sunrise and take a midnight stroll under the moon. I want to make another friend, to shake his hand, to muddle through the sea of modern politics. But most of all, I want the opportunity to cast my vote for life. How about you?
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A Cloudy Sky
The skittering sound of ice blows, across a frozen lake.
A Look, A Face, A Smile
I n a moment of liberation, I tried hard to just explain,
A Morning View
A morning view of His perfection, becomes a midday compromise.
A Transcient Soul
I never thought of myself as a drifter, a transcient soul, but in retrospect, I guess that's who I am. My father answered the early morning bugle call, and so did we, my mother, sister, our dog, and me. One of my earliest memories would be Christmas eve in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where my sister and I were born, eighteen months apart. One of my dads friends came over to our home, dressed up as Santa Claus, with the usual ho, ho, ho. He scared the heck out of me, and I ran away from him, just as fast as my chubby legs would allow. We moved from post to post about every two or three years. The ones from my younger days are long forgotten, until a sea voyage on this impresive ship presented itself. It took fourteen days to traverse the Atlantic, and enter the English Channel. Now that was a memorable experience, which I wouldn't like to share. The huge waves rocked the ship so violently, every living soul on board became ill. The early morning breakfast call was unneeded. You just can't eat, when all you do is regurgitate. After a lengthy train ride, we were introduced to our new home, the first on foreign soil. We inhabited an apartment building, in a barbed wired compound, from which we not allowed to exit, without parental presence. When my dad had some time off, we would travel to other countries, such as Switzerland. The Swiss alps will make an impression you will never forget. My first school days were within the afore mentioned boundaries. Time, to a young man is irrelivent, and soon we were retracing our trip across the sea, back to the USA. When the ship docked, I didn't want to disembark, but duty calls. After our European assignment, we saw a number of different posts, in a myriad of different states. In fact, I believe I have set foot in every state of the union, except Hawaii at least once. Moving on, and we found ourselves in Kansas City, Missouri. Here, we moved internally, and I attended several schools, my parents finally deciding to put down roots, with my father's retirement from service eminent. Here is where things get rather interesting. We had two more stops, two more trips that took us to San Francisco, California, and Denver, Colorado, and at last, back home to Kansas City.
Here, I must digress for a moment. During my forth, and fifth grades, we lived in different neighborhoods, in different homes, and of course, in different schools. In one of those divergent places, I met a girl. We attended classes for those two years. I can't even remember her name, but I will always remember her face, her hair, her incredible smile. I would say she was my first love, and then she was gone. We moved, and returned, and I looked for her, but never saw her face again. Life moves on, and so did I.
Now in my sophomore year, in high school, I began to formulate a plan for my future. I pursued R.O.T.C. Why not? The military had been my entire life. I knew how the system worked, or thought I did. I was a successful student. In all those diverse schools, you had to be. I made rank, and moved to the top in record time. High school passed, and college loomed. I wanted to attend, for the education, and the advanced R.O.T.C. program, again, part of my plan. I went as far as the college money would take me, until another girl got in the way. A certain situation, a family, precluded military service. I became another part of the economy, life goes on, and so did I.
In my older years, I often find myself reflecting on those younger days, so long ago. We all make mistakes, it's human nature. Some we face with much regret. But, you cannot change anything from the past, no one can. But still, I wonder, what if we hadn't moved? What if I didn't leave? We might have been in the same classes, had the same teachers, maybe even the same friends. I might have asked her to my first dance. She could have been my only date to all my high school activities. Think about it, I most certainly do. No doubt, I will never see her again, but, that doesn't preclude my dreams of what might have been, way back then.
My story begins with a family of vagabonds, somewhere within the boundaries of a mighty nation. This was a time of international strife, and a struggle against tyrannical powers who would rule the world. A battle of biblical proportions had just concluded. Now, a new and growing family was embarked n a trip of thirteen days, across a mighty ocean until the next port of call would appear. Well across divergent lands, and river crossings some new and ever higher mountain ranges would be passed. Strange tongues and dialects became customary, a part of the trip, and I suppose, their destiny. Over a period of years, they existed in a humble compound. But, this was only the beginning. Traveling would describe their lifestyle, moving, a never ending labor of necessity. It's who they were, and what they did. Constantly moving lends itself to certain things, patterns, that may be easily described, but not so easily embraced. I have seen more of the world than most of my generation, and even those I have preceeded. I have set foot on several continents, and seen most of the one on which I was born. I have a rudimentary understanding of the languages spoken there.
Eventually, my father retired from this lifestyle, and attempted to begin again, in a different field of endeavor. He never really found his way. He tried and failed until he finally gave up the fight, and succumbed to his ultimate future, which to him, was one of failure. But, the paths he took, and the doors he opened up for me, is a debt forever left unfulfilled. When our journeys took us further south, I responded with a southern drawl, like the natives spoke. A New England quirk was easily attainable. A cowboys twang wasn't problematic for me, or my sibling. Coast to coast, ocean to ocean, these became our homes, if only for a short period of time.
My father passed, and is buried on a Midwestern plain, an unexpected occurrence, at an unfortuitous time in my mothers life. She worked so many hours to provide for us. It seemed like we wouldn't see her for days on end. My own chores were quite simple, get me and my sibling off to school, on time, with something to eat for lunch. I became a decent chef, and still enjoy cooking. Time progresses, and my education as well. From my earliest memories, I thought I knew where my future would lead, and so I began my preparation. Every class I took, everything I read, every friend I made, lead me to an inevitable conclusion, the service. But, I was wrong. Those childhood journeys can only build a sense of character, a certain feel of who you are, and might become. I traveled on.
In time, much older now, I began my own family. Several children later, a befuddled man found himself in search of a meaningful future. Like my father before me, I have tried so many divergent forms of making a living, that after a while, they just seem to run together. Nothing I have done, or worked at, has come to anything of significance. Looking back, I find it all to be somewhat humorous. I never knew what or when I was after, or what was truly worthwhile. I never took the time to examine my history, and to understand the gifts all those years and destinations had bestowed on me. I guess you would say, my fate has led me to this appointed place in time. The means has always been there. The how has been left for me to find. Someone once eluded to the power of the pen, and I believe he was correct. Sitting here, pen in hand, I can elucidate on what I have learned over a lifetime. These seemingly futile journeys of so long ago, have led me here. Thank you father for the gifts you gave, and never knew. Thank you for introducing me to so many different people, and showing me how the lived, and prospered. Thank you for loving me, and never questioning the reason I am your son, and heir. Yes, I am a vagabond, like my father before me, and I travel on.
A Witches Eyes
A smile, a laugh, green witches eyes. A touch you want to memorize.
After all those rainy days of spring, I'll be there.
It's well after midnight, and I can't fall asleep,
Excerpted from "Stories & Stuff"
Copyright © 2017 John Macdonald.
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