APOCRYPHAL INFINITY

We lived at the edge of the world,
half a mile from infinity.
The sinking sun cast long shadows
that seemed to go on forever,
and sunrises popped up,
full born, seemingly out of nowhere.
Many was the time, when I was young,
that I would walk to the edge,
stand at the yawning precipice
dividing our world from the universe
and toss pebbles into the chasm,
never hearing them hit the bottom.
Now, being much older,
I stand on the rim of the ravine
and know the world has no edge
and that pebbles don’t drop into nothingness,
and that infinity did not begin
where our world seemed to end.

Old House


This house was abandoned and looked pretty much like this since my earliest memories of going by it more than fifty years ago. I took this picture just a few months before it was finally razed.

LOOKING OUT

A young man sits in a dark room
Looking out into future’s bright day
On the other side of the window glass.
He sees what he hopes for,
His dreams, his goals, all before him
As time stretches to the horizon.

An old man sits in a lighted room
Looking out on the night so dark,
And sees nothing but his own reflection
On the glass of the window pane
In his visage he sees the boy he once was
And a life too quickly gone.

RAMBLINGS

As I grow older it seems as though I wax rhapsodic more often about the virtues of age and look more longingly into the past. This may be understood when one realizes the fact that the past is that which we have survived, and so presents nothing to fear. The present and future, on the other hand, are unpredictable, other than the eventual outcome which awaits us all. But tomorrow doesn’t frighten me, because I’ve lived yesterday and have survived, and I am excited about today and its possibilities. What’s pitiful about looking too much at the past is that by the time you have enough memories to be worth recalling, you’re too old to remember them, so maybe the past isn’t the place to be looking as we grow older.

We each think that we are unique to the world in which we live, and that our particular lives are also unique. In reality, life is just two or three human stories, endlessly repeating themselves as though they have never happened before. Oh, there are slight rewrites presented to each of us, but the overarching totality of our lives is indeed but an echo of those who have gone before us. Ultimately we each have a small role in this tragi-comedy we call life, but eventually all the characters die and are replaced by others who likewise die, ad infinitum.

This whole thing called life doesn’t seem so special when we view it with this sort of honest pragmatism. Not to say that it isn’t worth it, for it certainly is. Just that no matter who we are, what we do, what we possess, who we know, or anything else that we feel makes us different from those around us, we all are only here a little while and then gone. Some of us touch the future with more impact than others, but we all await the same fate while we go about our lives.

We should expect nothing more nor less for it is a chaotic universe into which we are born and in which we live. A universe that operates something like a ping pong match between Forrest Gump and Stevie Wonder, alternating between simplistic perfection and blind chaos and back again.

As we live we should each pick a flower of knowledge from time to time from among the many varieties that present themselves. Each flower we pick adds to a growing bouquet, and that bouquet ultimately becomes what we call wisdom, for wisdom is but the accumulation of the knowledge that we hold onto and put to a greater use.

I really didn’t know where this would go when I started writing it, and am not sure where it has arrived by the end. It’s probably proof that I shouldn’t try to write without a clear cut purpose, and moreso that I have indeed aged beyond the realm of coherency. What I have written here is stark proof that my comments about knowledge and wisdom are not universally applied, for I have proven that there are indeed exceptions to this bon mot.

Take these rambling thoughts for what they’re worth. On second thought, take them in spite of their worth, with my humblest apologies.

THINGS I LEARNED

My dad amazed me when I was three,
A blue-eyed boy, running free.
He could cut a board straight and true,
Hit bottle caps with a twenty-two,
Drive a car and shift the gears,
Protect me from childhood fears.
He could whittle a stick by habit,
Carve a squirrel, bird, or rabbit,
Cast a dry fly right on the mark,
Start a fire with tinder and spark.
As I grew older so too did he,
But he never stopped impressing me.
The things I learned at his side
Inside of me they yet abide.
Life, like sand, does slip away,
Shadows gather at the end of day,
But as I look back upon the past,
One thing will forever last.
I had a father who took the time,
Who saw the reason and the rhyme,
To teach to me the things he knew
So that I would learn to do them too.
If life is fair and life is just,
Some of these things, I do trust,
I have taught to my own son
Before my time on earth is done.

AUTUMN SIGNS

Wood smoke is in the air,
leaves now turn to gold.
Nights are cool, days are fair,
but soon will come the cold.
Corn stalks rattle, dry,
leaves crunch in the lane,
geese are on the fly
with their honking refrain.
Clouds piled like cotton,
pumpkins on the vine.
Summer is near forgotten
amidst autumn’s signs.

INDIANA RETIREMENT FUNDS IN JEOPARDY

High level Republicans in Indianapolis have leaked the news that the Daniels’ Administration has invested Public Employee Retirement Fund, & Teachers Retirement Fund (billions of dollars together) into the stock market. Word is that they have lost enormous value in the recent market ‘correction’.

The Republicans are justifiably scared to death that this will get out, and with good reason. In their words, ‘If this is publicized, then this election is over and we’ll be lucky to win dog catcher at the polls this year.’

From the Howey Political Report on October 1, 2008:

”WALL STREET MELTDOWN LOWERS VALUE OF STATE INVESTMENTS: The volatility on Wall Street has taken a bite out of PERF and TRF investments by the state of Indiana. Asked about the status of state investments, Gov. Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski told HPI on Tuesday, “PERF and TRF started to invest in the stock market 10 years ago and over the past few years, their stock market exposure has gradually been reduced. The funds both still invest in the stock market and these assets have a lower market value right now than a month ago; however, PERF/TRF are long-term investors, not market timing investors.”

While Jankowski claims PERF has been reducing their investments over “the past few years,” a September 2008 Business Week article says exactly the opposite. Entitled “Hopped Up On Hedge Funds,” the article calls out the state for “taking bigger risks with taxpayer money.”

The Business Week article says, “Public pension funds have taken heat lately for a slew of problems. From New York to Ohio, critics have lambasted them for inadequate disclosure, mismanagement, and promises to retirees that could leave taxpayers holding the bag. So it seems an odd time to plunge deeply into hedge funds and other risky so-called alternative investments.

Yet that’s precisely what the Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement Fund wants to do. The board of the $14.6 billion pension fund, which oversees the retirement of 220,000 state employees, voted in late August to bump up its alternative investment target to 15% from 5%. It also broadened the menu to include not only private equity and real estate but also hedge funds and commodities. And Indiana said it would cut its safest holdings, bonds, from a target of 30% to 20%. All this from a state that began investing in stocks only 10 years ago.”

Reports have it that the state lost 7% of the value of these funds even before yesterday’s sell off. With that additional loss and the potential for an even further slide in market value, these two retirement funds could lose 20% or more of the value of their market exposure.