Friday, June 23, 2017
Now that the graduation ceremonies are behind us and summer is in full swing, we can slow down a little and enjoy the long and hopefully sunny days of Maine.
When I slow down, I get more of an opportunity to read, hike, kayak and spend time with family and friends, for daytime picnics or evenings around the fire pit. But I also get more of an opportunity to be quiet, watch the sunset and reflect on things for a while. I get to take a moment and re-evaluate where I am heading in life - which seems to be that of the meandering, twisting, roaming and nonconforming variety.
The subject of an atypical journey brings me to the Windham/Raymond Adult Education graduation that occurred last Thursday (see the article on the front page.)
Although I graduated in the typical high school fashion, my ability to be traditional in the world stopped there. As a result, I am always moved by these students who graduate from the Adult Ed Program and who discover a path that doesn’t necessary look like the norm.
When I was their age, I don’t know if would have had the confidence nor the perseverance to go that route, even if I wanted to. To do things differently takes a little courage; sometimes, a lot of courage.
I used to be critical of myself for not being able to “fit in” and be “normal.” I judged that perhaps I was deficient in some way. But I have discovered, as I get older, that to walk in life a little differently is something to be proud of. Somehow, I learned what the quote on the editorial page attributed to Albert Einstein, clearly expresses (see quote below). We are all geniuses in our own unique ways and we always get to where we need to go. There are many ways you can get to your destination, your goals and your dreams. There are countless methods to personal success.
It took me a while to figure that out and that’s the reason why I admire the Adult Ed graduates so much. Although, by some standards, they may feel they are running behind in reaching their goals; but by taking this first challenging non-traditional step, I would venture to guess they are ahead of the game.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb and tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
Don’t Kill the Golden Goose
If you’re a gainfully employed fifty to sixty-four year old, thank you. But this letter’s not really for you; it’s for those of us who may not see the ax falling on your neck. And forgive us for fleeing the political brouhaha and turning on a Lifetime movie (it’s not that we need to see the good guys win; we just want to know who the good guys are for a change!).
We’re talking American Health Care Act (AHCA) here, in case you didn’t guess. Yes, you’re a Mainer, so you already know the Medicare and Medicaid impacts would be real tough here. And pre-existing conditions? Don’t even go there. We’re not going to talk about those (and other problems with AHCA), but the Age Tax piece, let’s think about that—because it would hobble our good breadwinners.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says forty-five to fifty-four year olds average the highest weekly earnings; but those earnings stay right up there for the next ten years, as well. These 6.1 million fifty to sixty-four year old Americans are out there working hard, but often in small companies—which puts them in the individual (non-group) health insurance market. Insurance companies will be able to charge these productive folks five times (or more) what others pay for the same coverage. Huh?
AARP (a non-partisan group) put together figures that show a fifty-five year old Mainer earning $25,000 a year, could have a premium increase of as much as $7,602. And a sixty-four year old Mainer earning $25,000 annually could see an increase of as much as $12,701.
To siphon big chunks of income from these folks into insurance company pockets does not make good sense. Those of us who’ve retired—and those under fifty who’ve not reached peak earning years—need older workers to help shoulder the tax bill. Why would we single out this group for discrimination? Why not find a more equitable distribution of health care costs?
Let’s insist on new legislation that not only reconsiders cuts to many critical health programs, but also eliminates a discriminatory Age Tax. The Age Tax would hurt a lot of productive Maine people, so don’t support it. We don’t want those folks to get discouraged, retire early, and turn to the Hallmark Channel.
Rev. Dan Lakeman, M.Div.
I heard a fellow say the other day, that having faith didn’t matter one bit to him in the war years! I beg to differ on that matter.
You see, I’m living proof that it is in the eye of the beholder; that faith is a shield in times of trouble. Oh, faith is not new to me. I accepted faith when I was a wee-lad. Faith was my strong arm throughout my life. I don’t believe for a moment that having faith prevents one from being harmed. Faith states, “I have a calling for you.”
Since I was very young, faith interceded in my life. I am 91 years old and to state all the benefits would take too much room in this article. This past Memorial Day brought back many thoughts. It was the year of 1945. I was 16-years-old. I just stepped on the beach of Iwo Jima, a Japanese island in the Pacific, as a Marine. I had no idea what to expect.
I was suddenly introduced to the rudiments of war! Tiny eruptions in the black volcanic sand caught my eye. They were all around me. Small holes appeared in my comrade’s head, between the eyes and we were told that the Japanese wore glasses and couldn’t see well!
I glanced upward and said, “I think I could use your help.” The bullets continued to break the sand all around me as we advanced.
In the course of 36 days, I felt the warmth of the bullets as they past my body. Even in the valley that I traversed, puffs of exploding mortars were all around me as I helped the wounded. There was little to protect the body, you see all we wore was utility jackets and pants. The strong arm of faith was my shield.
Those of you that came home: There were and are reasons. My thoughts are that you were spared to pass on faith for the benefit of your fellow man.
These are my thoughts on this memorial time of year.
Friday, June 16, 2017
It’s been a busy week with graduation ceremonies and celebrations and now we get to look forward to honoring our dad’s this Sunday.
As I read through all the “On the Spot” answers we have in our print version of the newspaper, I smile at how many people are proud of their dad. One answer that hit close to home for me was the answer, “being the best provider under the circumstances.” This response made me pause and think of my own father, who passed away at the age of 90.
Although my dad was not a bad father, he certainly would have never won a “Father of the Year” award. But, despite that, I do believe he did the best he could with what was available to him during his lifetime.
I didn’t always believe this statement, however. But as I have grown up and experienced some of my own hardships and mistakes, I’m not quite as critical now. In fact, I think I have become more understanding of the challenges my father faced and my heart has soften towards him.
Growing up during the Great Depression and the challenges faced by his family, set the stage and the perception of what a good father was supposed to be. I suspect he really did believe he was doing the best that he could. And for this reason, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Additionally, there was a lot of good about my father. He believed in me in ways I never quite understood. Hoping I would be the next Patsy Cline, he gave me a guitar at the age of 10 – ignoring the fact that I was and am tone deaf and can’t carry a tune. He gave me four awesome brothers who are always there for me in a heartbeat. He taught me to drive – a car and a John Deere tractor. He encouraged my love of travel and exploration. And, in a way – he taught me to see the good in people, and thus him.