Back in the saddle

By Ralph Thomas


Back in the saddle again, back where a friend is a friend...this song from my movie matinee days of cowboys and cartoons came to mind as I came to realize how much I missed writing this column.

For almost two years. I have had to focus on making sure that SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) was winning the big C battle ... twice. We both thank God for his goodness to us. But, this also means I can no longer use this as an excuse to neglect some of the things that are dear to my heart, though I have been following another form of expression ... painting (art, not house). So here I am, trying to get back in the saddle again, encouraged to do so by occasional comments about where have I been. This, plus the encouraging invitation from the publisher of this wonderful home-town newspaper to submit a column or two.

Much has changed in my thinking about many things over my absence, things I will write about in the future. Age tends to change one’s perspective on many things. At age 83, I have had the privilege to look back over more years than many others. When I was born, just prior to the introduction of Social Security, my life expectancy was at best age 65. I recently read an article saying a fourteen-year-old child now has a life expectancy of 104 years. Hopefully, someone is getting the word out that their working lifetime will be substantially different from their parents as will their retirement planning, etc.

The many ways we are destroying our planet is also on my mind. Our unwillingness to change our ways resulting in pollution and the destruction of our natural resources must be addressed. I am not a “tree-hugger” for the purpose of saving the half-inch, three-eyed, one-legged spider because it lives in those trees. Yes, all of nature is important, but such frivolity is not at the top of my list of importance when children in our own communities are hungry. I was once one of those.

The way we treat each other, the lack of integrity in our day-to-day dealings with others, our refusal to accept others who do not look like us or talk like us, is counter-productive to the quality of life we want to experience as we live much longer lives than did our ancestors. To me, our education system is the key to change. A teacher who has four classes of thirty students each, touches 120 hearts and minds each day five days a week and then spends countless hours of personal time at home each week grading, planning, texting and emailing parents at the expense of personal time, deserves much more than we give them. Yet, these children are our future.

I feel good as I sit at the keyboard while putting my thoughts on paper. I don’t claim to be right in my opinions, but they are mine. Tomorrow they may change as my world changes. I’m okay with that. I refuse to be like some my age who are stuck in the past and are unwilling to accept that we live in a fluid, ever-changing world. If we want to fit in, we must change with it. This doesn’t mean we sacrifice our values, but it does mean that we may need to re-examine our values.

To whomever reads this column, I say to you, “You are a beautiful, wonderful person, destined to become as great as you want to be. Eighty-three years have taught me this.”

Oh, I feel good! I’m back in the saddle again.

Ralph Thomas is a Locust Grove resident and the author of Doing Great, but Getting Better and Getting Old Can be Fun.