Sometimes you need a fancy logo, long explanation and a media event to get a point across, other times a few will suffice. I love history and try to repeat the good while avoiding the mistakes, though life likes to give us plenty of opportunity to make our own mistakes anyway. I listen. I listen to the trees, to the people and I read as often as possible (daily) a mixture of old and new work in order to keep pace with today and learn from yesterday in order to provide a well rounded tomorrow.
Sometimes it takes a thousand pages to convey a thought, others a few paragraphs. Still, there are times when a look or a hand gesture speaks volumes both within and without a session. Smiles can mean many things beyond happiness but mostly they tend to be positive. A person once told me volumes by just letting me see his hands. They were weathered, withered but large, scarred, stained, callused and stiffened through years of manual labor. You knew where he had been.
A bumper sticker that a school I attended had two large words “Do Good” and in the corner in very small writing it had the college name and contact information. I knew from reading those two words that this was the program for me and those of my ilk. I completed five programs there before finishing to open my not for profit. I am sure many others who walked though those halls have done the same, many have done it bigger and better, but we all try.
I once had a school send me a large package of swag designed to sell me on their program. I almost signed up especially after I read a book they sent that listed them as the best school for my type of program. A few years later I learned that the owner was being featured on a news program; the government and many people alleged that he was a crook and run a degree mill. It turned out that he had written and published that book himself. All hype, no substance other than greed. Last I read he was on the run with all the money he had collected.
I find myself attracted to older people with broken bodies; they seem to have the best stories. One such gentleman that I will call Cecile as I didn’t think to ask his permission to share his story, talked about his adventures during the depression as a young man, earning a living with his hands, body, sweat and blood. He never made much money but his hands made many things that helped build this country. He shared his glory days when he “could fix any machine with a few wrenches, an oil can and a little persuasion.” I came to learn that persuasion was what he called a hammer like hunk of steel that he made in the factory.
Now feeble bodied but sharp in mind, he resides in a local “rest” home, retirement and our tax dollars paying the rent (it bothers me so much less when I pay my taxes knowing that it helps folks like him). He never made much money, had no pension and never got that gold watch that people used to talk about that capped their years of service. Instead when asked about his retirement he said “they said I was getting slow, either get faster or stay home. Then the foreman stopped giving me a choice of the two, I grabbed my lunchbox and went home.” He made a swiping gesture with his hand as he said it. It was there that I noticed one and a half digits missing from his hand. When asked he simply said something along the lines that sometimes the hand wins, sometimes it is the machine.
I asked him if he had any regrets and he stated he did not, he did wish he had seen the ocean a time or two but otherwise he was ok. He mentioned that his broken hands and broken body enabled his children to get “educated and be a better man than I ever could have been.” That part I highly doubted but did not want to interrupt. His kids never worked a factory job that I know of. They all got jobs as clerks in offices or some such work; a few went to college and “got themselves important jobs with fancy names and everything.” He never had much of an education, “poor people just didn’t do that back then” he advised.
He did not see his kids that often the last few years of his life. They had moved away to bigger cities, they saw the ocean that he never did and made a good life for themselves. He said he was proud of every one of them and that if their success meant he had to live in the home, it was worth it knowing that they were safe. He loved telling people to be safe. He never was heard by me at least, to say goodbye. Instead he would simply wave his hand and say “be safe.” I am not sure if he ever noticed how ironic it was that he waved the hand with missing digits when he wished people to be safe but it always warmed me when he said it to me.
I find myself closing more and more correspondence to those that mean something to me with the words “be safe and do good.” I did not consciously decide to do this mind you; it just came from my love of learning from the “now” and from the “then” of time.
I wonder what has rubbed off on you, from your studies, clients, friends and family etc. As for me, I learned to go to the ocean so that if I live as long as he did I will not have to say that I wished I had. No regrets, just a life well lived…
Be safe and do good.
”Doc Warren” Corson III is a counselor, educator, writer and the founder, developer, clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT Inc. (www.docwarren.org) and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.pillwillop.org). He can be contacted at [email protected]
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA