I was never much good at math. So I don't know whether last October I had officially spent 60 years on this vale of tears or whether it was 59. Not that it much matters. But I am fortunate to have been lent sufficient breath to have seen another year come and go. I say "fortunate." I do not say "blessed."
You may have heard that the Arkansas River is way past flood stage. It hasn't affected Little Rock all that much. But homes and farms to the west of here have been impacted as has property downstream in Pine Bluff.
Facebook may be safely relied upon at times like these to be a repository of bad theology. People who have been spared are "blessed." Which implies that folks who were not are cursed. One poster went so far as to see the hand of God in her not being able to reach her home, which I guess would have been destroyed with her in it had she not been forced to turn back. By God I suppose.
Of course, this is purblind nonsense of the purest grade. I do not for one minute think that God sits up in her Heaven and picks winners and losers in Jefferson County. But I also think that the "winners" should be more gracious about it when they choose to open their mouth to the press. But I ramble.
I'm comfortable with describing myself as "fortunate." The word strongly implies that I am aware that I didn't get to this spot solely by stint of my own merit. It is for that reason that I threw a little party back in October. I invited my friends and family out of gratitude for their presence in my life. These are the folks that encouraged me, dog-cussed me, listened to me, came to me for help, hugged me, kicked me and preached to me. The latter whether I wanted to listen to it or not. I only got a couple lightning bolts from eyes looking over the top of Vic Nixon's glasses. They were all sufficient. But enough about that. Maybe 2016 will find me less likely to belabor my points. You never know. Anything's possible.
So what to do about 2016?
So far so good. But its early yet.
I am with a woman who says she loves me. It must be true. Otherwise, why would she put up with the likes of me? Indeed, she tells me that she loves me on a frequent basis. She does this with her kids too. It's like she has thrown up a force field around them that she has let me enter. One of my friends described M upon meeting her as "very tall and way cool." Another said that she "radiates peace." All of these things are true. Quiet and reserved, she loves books, old movies that she has watched before (which I don't get but that's OK), naps, crossword puzzles, long walks, and pinot noir. And naps. Lots of naps.
Of course, it is a package deal. Her daughter S, a freshman away in college, is an 18 year old cauldron of emotion, words and eyelash-fluttering. She's also 9 kinds of smart. As is her brother J. He's 16. He's the spitting image of his mom and has her laid-back temperament. Like both his parents who were DI athletes, he is a good ballplayer and I enjoy watching him play football and basketball. Good thing I enjoy watching kids play sports. Because I do a lot of it nowadays. Which is AOK by me. S and I are likewise OK. She is far more complex than her brother but I think has resolved it in her mind that my continued presence in her life is inevitable. That's about all I can say with any degree of certitude. That's OK too. We take what we can get. But she thinks I'm funny and she lets me touch her now. This latter observation sent a friend of mine who raised a daughter into a spasm of tear-inducing helpless laughter. Baby steps.
We're coming up on a year now. It's a good situation.
So back to 2016. I don't make resolutions as such. But there are things I want to accomplish.
I want to play more golf this year than I did last year. Especially since I am playing better now than I ever have. Granted it's a near thing but it's a thing.
I'm going to play and sing more. I've got about 9 songs ready to go. Either my young friend Lucas is too busy to fool with me anymore or his absence is his way of saying "fly away little bird." Either way, like my golf, I am playing better. And I owe the boy a debt of gratitude. Really I do. He was a kind and patient teacher. Which is the way you like them.
I'm going to write more. I think it's just going to have to be part of the schedule of the day, along with guitar practice and exercise. A friend of mine who retired from teaching at Hendrix told me something last Fall. "You worked for a long time. You have earned the right to do nothin' if that's what you want to do. But I'm telling you that you need to write more." Chuck is not one to stick his nose into other people's business. And so I will take his advice. Which leads me to the next topic.
I continue to practice law here and there. I do it enough to keep my hand in and what passes for my skills up. I used to feel guilty that somebody with my formidable talent-and yes I am kidding- wasn't working more. But things are better now. Although just like "once a Baptist always a Baptist" once a lawyer you're "always a lawyer." I don't define myself so much as a lawyer anymore. Or I don't define myself by work anymore and I think there's a reason for that. And things are much the better for it.
But I think I'm going to become a "PA" and bite the bullet and get malpractice insurance. People keep trying to hire me to do stuff for them. Wills. Business stuff. Stuff I can do. No divorces. No criminal. There's no need to leave money on the table.
Both M and my Mississippi lawyer friend think I should stick with my work with the schools I sub for. Marge in Oxford says that this is my chance to "do what I enjoy." And I do very much enjoy being with the kids. Even when they piss me off. Which happens with some frequency. This is despite the fact that I ask the boys at the start of each class to recite my "Rule #1." Which is of course, "Don't piss me off."
For her part, M reminds me that she makes a good living at her day job and that all she wants is for me to do "what makes me happy." Women, as a rule, tend to be more intuitive than men about such issues. Perhaps I should listen for once. Like the man said, I did work for a long time. I'm not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination but I make a pretty decent income just for waking up in the morning. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. It's a good situation.
And so I look forward to the coming year. Or at least the part that comes after Valentine's Day. Some things never change.
It's all good. I'm content.
And I'm fortunate. Very fortunate.