If a man does not keep pace…..

moodcontemplative contemplative

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Henry David Thoreau
That started it all.   Where did I find that?  There was no internet, I didn’t own a lot of books.  I was looking at the photos on Randy White’s website last night and he has visited Walden Pond and Thoreau’s grave.  I can’t put my hands on my ‘do or die’ list at the moment, which annoys me, but following Thoreau’s footsteps is on it.

I was 14 or 15 years old when I wrote that quote in a marble notebook (that I can’t put my hands on either, although I kept it when it was soaked in a fire, but not burned) and then I searched everywhere for more.  I’m sure I quickly discovered Emerson as well, and the rest is history, at least in my life.

I would never have known that I was destined to ALWAYS hear a different drummer.  The question is:  were my children destined to hear a different drummer as well or did I influence what they heard and how they heard it?

LiveJournal Comments:

vjj97     Submitted on 2009/03/10 at 12:35 pm

First, the last time I saw that notebook, it was in the treasure chest. Second, I think we were all destined to hear our own drummers. You influenced a lot about us, but I don’t think anyone can control or influence the beat another hears. And we all hear our own drummer, separate from the others, separate from yours. You just encouraged us to listen when some mothers wouldn’t have. And so you got us, instead of sweet, biddable children. Weren’t you lucky.

Life and death, or Death and life.

Two weekends in a row I have visited my dying cousin, who was raised as more of a big brother to me.  I never remember a life without Mike in it.  When I was 10 and he was 14 he moved upstate with us, and he was our babysitter.  We had great fun, we were always outside.  Then 7 or 8 years later I was babysitting for his kids.  I went to Virginia with them, I went to North Carolina with them.   He pulled out some pictures yesterday of all of us on the Thanksgiving before I got married.  He moved here soon after I did.  I don’t have a lot of older connections in my life, but with him I do.

He has been inundated with our side of the family and he told me he really is enjoying it, because he never had time before.  On past occasions when I visited and left because “I have to work tomorrow”, or never made it over to visit because “I have to work tomorrow”, it was with complete awareness that he did too.  We always understood that of each other and it was never detrimental to our relationship.  He now wonders whether he should have dedicated that much of his life to work.

He has been medically retired, so the choice to go and sit there is mine alone.  He likes the company, Patty likes someone else occupying his time.  I enjoy being there, being with them – it satisfies my odd need of nostalgia.  And I wonder – will I one day sit and question whether my dedication to my career success really meant anything?

Mike had a different childhood than mine, but still, in some respects I think we are alike in that we created something from nothing – who we are and what we are.  That doesn’t come easy, but Mike and I are alike in that we aren’t afraid of hard work.  It took commitment and singlemindedness and time that could have been spent elsewhere – with our families for instance.  He had more of a choice than I because I had to feed my family – literally, but would it have made a difference?

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