Category Personal Reflections

Dodging Bullets, Traffic, and the Fire This Time…

You are at a country music festival, the weekend’s final act.

It is late and you are feeling the love.

For the artists, the music, the atmosphere, those you came with, all those you didn’t come with but with whom you are now bound and bathed in a warm bubble of what will surely be a lifelong memory.

Then there are alien sounds, rhythmic but not musical—and not coming from the stage.

Then comes the chaos, the confusion, the sudden mad scramble and cowering amid bullets and falling bodies all around you, blood spattering your clothes (is it your own?), screams of fear, of anguish, and death for 58 people.

And for some reason, you are not among them.

You are alive.

***

You are driving down the three-lane highway with a childhood friend on a sunny afternoon, fast lane.

You need to get off, so you move toward the middle.

A driver in the slow lane has the same idea, same time.

You don’t notice, until you d...

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How Malcolm X and James Brown Secured My Hungarian Identity

I can’t really remember a time when I was not self-consciously of Hungarian heritage. Sure, I harbor a few single-picture early memories frozen in my mind before I had any sense of what identity even meant, but the sauce in which I was marinated from my earliest remembered days was as a child with two parents who had come to the United States from Hungary by way of Germany after World War II.

I grew up speaking and responding to Hungarian right alongside English, and with my parents’ thick accents and European mannerisms and cultural sensibilities, there was no hiding the fact that members of the Hidas Family were aliens arrived on these shores.

And as freshly arrived immigrants who had attained maturity in their native land, my parents faced the typical immigrants’ dilemma: how to blend into the new land and its ways without denying and sacrificing the old.

The horns of that dilemma are nearly imp...

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Reflections on “The Path of Totality”

100 percent is the important and even urgent thing, yes?

The Full Effort, Maximum View, Big Immersion, All-Out Hustle to Achieve the Ultimate, Second-to-None, I’m-All-in-Let’s-Head-to-Central-Oregon!

Pour yourself the Best-Ever of Everything, then keep your radar on for something Better Still.

Never settle, never retreat, and never, ever quit.

It’s “The Path of Totality,” and you shall not have it denied, nor deny it to yourself.

No piddling 91 percent view from here; we are headed for the Path.

***

Truly, the arc of history bends not only toward justice, but toward constant, unrelenting improvement in every human endeavor.

No iPlato 6.6, sporting a best-ever deep-probe camera with which we can take revealing Selfies right into the core of our consciousness and peer more acutely, with greater perception, into Who We Are…

We are the species of “More,” leaving it to those below us to settle f...

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Lamenting Sam Shepard…and the Cruelty of ALS

An old friend of mine has been stricken with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, in some ways the most devastating medical diagnosis a human being can receive. There is little to no pain in ALS, so at least that takes it out of the realm of suffering common to rheumatoid arthritis, bone cancer and other diabolical conditions specializing in pain delivery to undeserving innocents.

But in its eventual robbery of nearly all human muscular activity save for blinking the eyes and perhaps an occasional partial smile or frown from a minutely functioning facial muscle or two, ALS has no parallel in its reduction of human physical function to levels not seen even in newborns and embryos.

Almost making it worse is that there is zero loss of cognition, so there is no escaping the full gravity of one’s plight.

And last week, we found out that playwright and sometime actor Sam Shepard died of the same wretched disease, a de...

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The Old Dead Shit of a Late Spring Garden

I know I’m not the first person to realize that gardening is the world’s most ubiquitous and consistent metaphor factory. Prepare the soil, plant a bulb, weed and water a patch of dirt, then have at it on matters regarding one’s place in the world and desire to do right by it.

Where else this side of church is one allowed to stand naked (metaphor there, too…) before the creation while pondering its meaning and relevance to one’s life?

So on yesterday’s late, late spring day, a certain correspondent of yours found himself deep into mounds of decaying poppies and grasses in his backyard, exclaiming to no one in particular: “Gosh, there’s a lot of old dead shit in there!”

And fall was nowhere in sight, smell or sound.

It turns out this is one of gardening’s boundless number of secrets: that death, and the need to move its remnants out of the way, is pretty much a four-season proposition...

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