BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”–
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Turn, turn, turn. A time to laugh, jump, play; a time to build, tear down, and rebuild.

Our family used to live in Chicago, at 1623 West Van Buren, near Ashland, with the “L” behind our building. But:

Demolition for Congress Street Expressway

Demolition for Congress   Expressway

The Congress Street [Eisenhower] Expressway made us move.

I went to 1st and 2nd grade at St. Jarlath’s on Jackson Boulevard.

Saint Jarlath Catholic Church and School

Saint Jarlath Catholic Church                 

(St. Jarlath: Ethnic Origin: Irish. Date of Origin: 1869. Neighborhood Location: West Town, 1713 West Jackson. In September 1969, the church closed. [“Heavens to Purgatory: Imploding Churches Flatten Chicago”: “Over the decades, grand churches such as the Catholic St. Jarlath's, St. Leo's, and St. Charles Borromeo, along with Protestant houses of worship and synagogues are demolished, erased from the cityscape.” --Lynn Becker, arcchicago.blogspot.com/2013/01])

When the demolition of our neighborhood began, I cannot remember. I cannot recall wrecking balls, bulldozers, or men working. However, what I do recall vividly are the fires from the piles of wood that remained after demolition of the buildings.

What are brothers and sisters playing together supposed to do? Their playing field now looks like a World War II bombed-out neighborhood in Berlin or in Hamburg. What to do? The alleyways are gone. A few abandoned cars under the “L” tracks. But the rubble fires?

What is there about a campfire that attracts us and keeps us nearly frozen in time, mesmerized, as the flames rise, the embers glow, the wood crackles and pops, perhaps even shooting tiny missiles of fire, sparks. Sparks that might be dangerous to little hands or clothes or long blond hair of a fourth-grade girl.

Campfire Fun

             Campfire Fun

Picture me in second grade, my play-pal sister, Janice, two years ahead of me, stirring up the fires of demolition. What fun! Feed the fire with other sticks of wood. Make the fire come to life: “We have fire!” We are entranced.

Someone reported us to our mother.

The playtime ended. No more Fire Starters in the rubble on Van Buren. What to do now? Put pennies on the streetcar tracks? Did that. Play in the car, swinging on the steering wheel. Got too big for that. I am sure that we found something else to do–and were informed that our building was next to go. We moved to the South Side.

So long ago, so many great memories of childhood.

Here in my Ohio neighborhood, I am seeing trucks and equipment. Demolition is occurring. Not for an expressway but because a cottage is old and rotten and decrepit. So the buildings, perhaps some nearly seventy years old or more, are coming down. Part of a renewal-scape project.

Here is what it looks like:

Demolition of Cottages #7 & #8

Demolition of Cottages #7 & #8,  Epworth Park, Bethesda, Ohio

And so it goes, for life goes on. It is for the best. It is time: turn, turn, turn.

But that pile of wood…. I need to call my sister. Can she come and play?

© James F. O’Neil

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

INDELIBLE: physically impossible to rub out, wash out, or alter; impossible to remove from the mind or memory and therefore remaining forever.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got a part-time job at Visitation parish in Chicago. Then, in 1956, it had a kindergarten building, an elementary school of three stories, and a girls’ high school. For four years, I spent my days off from school and my summers working in the three large buildings, in addition to the auditorium and the basement bowling alley–cleaning, but mainly painting walls, floors, windows, and ceilings

pratt_lambert_stadnitsky_painting

Paints Used

I received much experience with paint in those days–and I admit that I got good at my job, especially doing window frames and baseboards. Of late, I have been painting stairs and porches of our old summer cottage. Nevertheless, I have not ever used as much paint as I did during my high school years.     

Yet as I look back at all my experiences with paint, including decorating rooms and exteriors of our houses, none stands out more than that which took place one sunny afternoon when I was a boy growing up in the city. Perhaps the season was summer or spring; it wasn’t snowy or freezing, for I remember wearing a T-shirt.        

My mother had sent me to the bakery to get some desserts for after supper. To get to our bakery, I went a half city block to Ashland Avenue, crossed, then to the bakery on the alley. On that particular afternoon, at the age of ten or eleven–I cannot be very specific–my first experience with closeness to death occurred.

Going into the bakery had always been a most pleasurable act. Then all was so fresh, with few preservatives, with so little concern for diets, cholesterol, or pimples. Heaps and heaps of calories and fats piled upon each other, whether in Napoleons, apple slices, cherry pies, sweet rolls/cheese Danishes, cookies, breads. From morning to closing, the bakery brought delight and delightful smells to the neighborhood–and to little boys. I tried to go as often as possible–as the family budget would allow.         

That particular afternoon the smells of the bakery goods and the smells from the ovens would be overpowered by the smell of calcimine (“a white or tinted wash that consists of glue, whiting or zinc white, and water that is especially used on plastered surfaces”–I later found in the dictionary).

My purchase was completed; I left the store, carrying something for dessert. As soon as I got outside, still holding open the screen door, I was hit in the face with the smell of chalky paint, an odor that I had never before encountered: acrid, pungent, biting, yet with an underlying scent of paint.           

I like–have liked–the smells of paint and painting. My model airplanes and boats were all painted–covered–with my many favorite shades from Testor’s. I enjoyed the odor–the fragrance–of brush cleaners, paint thinners, turpentine. That moment’s smells were unpleasant. I cannot forget the visual scene as my nose led me to the body of an old white-haired man lying in a pool–or what seemed like a small lake–of calcimine. I remember seeing a little red blood, perhaps from a cut head.

He was nearly covered; but I saw his worn brown shoes, white socks, and painter’s coveralls. He had on an old thin T-shirt, as I did. He was moving; the crowd gathered on the curb of the street, in the alley, in front of the bakery. I wanted to get out of the store, but a few people were in my way. I pushed them aside, and broke into what seemed to be a circle forming around the man.           

He was trying to reach to his back pocket. I watched him motion. People around seemed to be doing nothing to comfort him–but shouting out: “He’s trying to tell us something!” I did nothing either. I didn’t know what to do. I only thought of the bakery dessert and getting home. Yet the smell and the scene fixed me there. “Help him, somebody! He needs help,” one onlooker called out. I heard the words “heart attack” and “stroke”; they made no real sense to me at that moment.           

Then I was running home, to the corner, to the light, crossing the four lanes, another half block, turning the corner, running up the stairs to tell all that I had seen. I had to have told my mother. But I cannot recall what surely must have happened: the excitement, being breathless, the storytelling, the realization of the meaning of the event, then the tears that certainly had to come from an impressionable young boy.           

I can tell about death and dying–grandparents, Dad, my Uncle Bill, young friends killed in accidents, a woman I saw who had fallen to her death from the fifth floor of our apartment building, deaths I attended while I worked at hospitals, students of mine, my brother’s dog, my cats.

But this alone man lying on the sidewalk with a broken-open empty gallon can of calcimine near his feet? I never found out whatever truly happened to him.

Supposedly, the smell of Crayolas or crayons brings most memories to the fore. And apple pie, for some. True, for me, but the smell of calcimine has not been one of favorite sensuous experiences. What remains now is simply the memory of the occasion, though the details are getting dim–except for the smell in my memory of that white spill on the concrete and on that white-haired man struggling for help.

 

© JAMES F. O’NEIL 2014

Variety of Crayola Smells

Various Crayola Smells

 

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“The P-51 Mustang is arguably the world’s most famous fighter of all time.” –

The 1987 movie Empire of the Sun contains a scene with the very young Christian Bale shouting “Cadillac of the Skies!” as a flight of P-51 Mustangs comes shattering the quiet over the prisoner of war camp. A dramatic scene, to say the least, as part of the film’s story.

empire of the sun 1987EMPIRE OF THE SUN POSTER 1987

Well, the Mustangs are not Cadillacs, but are “actually” Rolls Royces…. (Well, a Packard-Merlin copy of the Rolls Royce engine. There. That’s for history.)

A Merlin Engine Aptly namedRolls Royce Merlin Engine: Tangmere, UK 

In 2004, I began to be a Collector of Mustangs. Not literally. I had entered a second childhood/youth-hood, complete with books, Internet writings and pictures, and lists and statistics about the plane, the P-51. No baseball cards this time; no “Red Menace” cards I collected in the 1950s; no SSI (Shoulder Sleeve Insignia) of various USAAF and US Army forces and divisions as I had done for my Boys Scout merit badge days; no comic books, model kits, nor coins for sorting and collecting.  

My collecting days, beginning with those desires to have a collection of something “way back then,” were never as involved with or as enthusiastic over any item as has been my interest in this particular airplane. I cannot explain it either. It just happened that way.

Originally, when I started this airplane “addiction,” or passion, for whatever the inexplicable reason, I had not any particular make or model in mind. I knew I wanted to read about and find information on The Flying Tigers for sure.

Flying TigersFlying Tiger Insignia

When I was in sixth grade, I became a babysitter for a neighbor down the street in Chicago. The husband and wife heard I was a reliable kid with a paper route. They had a small boy who needed an occasional sitter. I was asked over “for an interview” and hired. It was a great weekend job, putting a little guy to bed on a Saturday night–though my early Sunday morning paper route had to be taken into account.

While sitting in the quiet during those times, I read the classics about medieval knights and adventure stories and Hardy Boys books (like The Tower Treasure or While the Clocked Ticked. Those books written in 1927 seem so old now; but in the early 50s, they were “current,” less than 25 years old. By comparison, the first Harry Potter novel was written in 1997….)

And that was that–almost. I was babysitting for an original World War II Flying Tiger.

John Farrell, boyington,croftFlying Tiger John Farrell

I heard few of his stories, but did see his jacket and pictures, medals and insignia. It was the inception, I am convinced, of my innermost love of things flyable, of WWII stories, Flying Tigers, Seabees, Iwo Jima and John Wayne, and more and more and more.

Then… “Grow up!” Well, not quite like that. But there was high school (and reading stories about pilots), and college (and reading about pilots and WWII, or William Shire’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, instead of studying my philosophy assignments). And so on…and on….

2004. Indeed. I never gave up on any of the topics or stories that intervened from then until what started in 2004. I had an opportunity to re-channel, and started collecting.

Plastic, diecast, sizes, pilots, fighter groups–too much to collect without a Plan. I made a Divine Plan for Collecting Airplanes. Many times, the plan changed, kept changing–until I could focus, and that I did.

I always did “like” the “Cadillac of the Skies.” (Even the Flying Tigers gave up their shark-mouthed P-40s and transitioned to flying P-51 Mustangs.) I began my “serious” love affair, as much as I could, with this special, well-known fighter plane.

P-51 LVR License Plate croppedP-51 LVR Florida Plate 

There you have it. I have not ridden in one; I have been up close and personal, however–and have known and visited with WWII pilots and even have some autographs and books signed (typical “love-affair,” groupie-fan activities).

Punchy Powell MustangCapt. Robert Powell 

I have been to air shows on a limited basis, and to the right museums housing beautiful examples.

Ina the Macon Belle at Fantasy of Flight in FloridIna the Macon Belle at Fantasy of Flight: Florida

In addition to an in-cockpit flight film I have that puts me in the seat, I have been thrilled by a few movies for Mustang Lovers: Red Tails, The Tuskegee Airmen, Saving Private Ryan, Hart’s War, and, of course, Empire of the Sun. In the latter, Steven Spielberg used restored P-51s to portray the era accurately. Most effective.

Collecting can be fun, yet dangerous if time and money are taken from family duties and obligations, or from a person’s “normal” behavior. I have tried to be balanced and ordered in what I do: How many books can one have about a topic? Or models? Or…well, however many are needed. And there’s the rub. Want vs Need. I remember from King Lear: “Reason not the need.” I’ve tried that one too many times.

I think I am doing all right, learning from my childhood ways–and errors. But mostly my memories of past hobbies and collections are all good. My comic book collection was lost in a flooded basement. Coin collecting became too expensive for me as prices of metals rose. I still am animated when I see a beautiful new FOREVER stamp. But not enough to fill a postage album anymore. Downsizing living space has made my model collection very selective. I do not want a collection I cannot see, or touch. I am funny that way.

So that is how I came to this place in time and space, having a collection, loving to collect, and having a favorite special object from the past that continues to give me pleasure, physical and intellectual. I love the P-51 Mustang!

© James F. O’Neil 2014

Mustang LoverMustang Lover: Fort Myers, FL, Aviation Day, 2007

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“Oh, say, can you see…”

Yes, I admit, I am always on the “look” out for things “beautiful.”

“Beauty is only skin deep.” “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Yes, as I was often told, and taught in school, me with acne-filled pores.

“Beauty,” says Thomas Aquinas, is “That which seen pleases.”  I had a more difficult time with this one saying, both in philosophy class and in my art history classes. [Aquinas...is still being interpreted.]

How do I know what beauty is? Will it be like pornography, as the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined that: “I know it when I see it” [Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964]? (Can pornography–whatever it is–be beautiful?) Therefore, seeing, looking then is pleasing.

Ah, the beauty of it all. Oh, that ‘57 Chevy, candy-apple red hardtop, so pleasing, so beautiful!

“One man’s trash is another’s treasure.” As in, “That was a beautiful garage sale.” Or, in American Pickers: “That Texaco sign is just in beautiful condition.”

TEXACO SIGNTEXACO SIGN Credit: eBay

And what about a beautiful Scotch? “Single-malt, 15-year-old: just beautiful. Look at that color!” However, what about the taste? No dispute, is there, with taste/tastes?

“Mmm, mmm good. Mmm, mmm good. Campbell’s soups are mmm, mmm good.” Andy Warhol could attest to that!

ANDY AND SOUP CANANDY AND SOUP

What do you like? Any favorites? Is it/are they “beautiful”? The kids? The small of a woman’s back (in Kevin Costner’s litany in Bull Durham)? The Mona Lisa?

But about Venus de Milo, the original, which I saw in the Louvre, not the #2 pencil, not Salvador Dali’s huge “magnificent” symbolic painting, but the original: How can it/she be “beautiful”? No arms. Measurements just not “right” [34”-31.2”-40.8”], or . . . . “Look at those hips!” Some beauty. Out of proportion. Proportion is that essential quality of beauty, says those aestheticians (those who decide what is aesthetic or “beautiful”–or “art”–and there is Thomas Aquinas, again).

VENUS DE MILOVENUS DE MILO

And something beautiful is also supposed to be good because of integrity, wholeness. It’s “bad” (even sometimes originally translated as “evil”), from any little defect. (I have always mused over “flawed” and “flawless” diamonds, even those “beautiful” three-carat, “cloudy” ones!) [Our engagement ring, 51 years ago, was a AAA, 0.39-carat, about the only affordable “way back then.” But how beautiful!]

Aesthetics: too philosophical for me.

And so, what could be beautiful?

Could be a song or musical piece (“Moon River” or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony); could be a color or something colorful (burnt sienna or a sunset over the Gulf of Mexico); could be a building (certainly nothing “Gaudi”!), like Hagia Sophia; could be a “babbling brook”; could be a Girl with a Pearl Earring, the book, the painting, the movie (how beautiful is that?!); could be that ice-cold RC Cola washing down a Moon Pie (Yum! Right beautiful!); could be all those older couples holding hands, older sisters, younger brothers; could be an emotionally charged and tear-evoking episode of Grey’s Anatomy, or a scene from Shakespeare in Love or Romeo and Juliet; could be a Serta, or Sealy Posturepedic for a beautiful night’s sleep.

Could be.

Oh, I can’t get enough. Looking for the pleasures to be found in The Beautiful.

“O Beautiful, for spacious skies…amber waves of grain…mountain majesties….”

Can you see? See? Do you see what I see? Can you find the beauty? Are you looking?

Remember: “‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’”–that is all…ye need to know.” –John Keats

© JAMES F. O’NEIL   4 JULY 2014

sunset over cape coralSUNSET

 

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

Traffic lights, also known as traffic signals, traffic lamps, signal lights, stop lights–and also known technically as traffic control signals–are signaling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings, and other locations to control competing flows of traffic. (Traffic lights were first installed in 1868 in London and are now used all over the world.)

Traffic lights alternate the right of way accorded to road users by displaying lights of a standard color (RED, YELLOW, and GREEN) following a universal color code. In the typical sequence of color phases:

           the GREEN light allows traffic to proceed in the direction denoted, if it is safe to do so; the YELLOW light denoting prepare to stop short of the intersection, if it is safe to do so; the RED signal prohibits any traffic from proceeding.” [Wikipedia]

Traffic Signal: Utica, NY (CREDIT: P.BASE.COM)

“What kinds of things do you remember most about your dad? Some little stories or anecdotes? A memory of the past, something that you do that always brings an image that is so vivid it’s like he’s there with you when you do it?”

“He taught me how to drive and be a good driver. He taught me to play the lights.”

“He is with me every time I am driving where there are stop lights in a row: down a busy street–not the interstate. I still do this. He taught me about traffic lights–and their time and speed and distance–long before computerized traffic signals.

I watch my speed, see the lights ahead of me, guess when they might change, see the Walk/No Walk signs for pedestrians–and how much time they have, and I have. This requires good eyes and good judgment. Concentration. Paying attention.

In Chicago, when I drove my mom to work, being able to go from Halstead and 55th to Downtown at the Federal Reserve Bank without having to stop for lights was a feat. Possible. Do-able. I still “play the lights” on certain streets where I live now. Even after all these years. I have to be conscious of traffic and timing. And he’s there with me.

Oh, he also taught me to be a great parallel parker, a skill not often required these days. And to back up using only mirrors (though I wasn’t so good with my mail truck in 1962, breaking off a mirror when I hit the truck next to me).

And to be a good left-turn-er (“Never make a left when you can make a right.”).

traffic-signalLEFT TURN SIGNAL?

I also have to stay between the lines: he hated when I drifted on Garfield Boulevard. This was the hardest part for him to teach me: “WATCHIT! DON’T DRIFT!”

My current driver’s license [still] has Safe Driver affixed to it–a trait I owe to my dad. 

©  James F. O’Neil 2014

“You are what you were. If you have no past, you have no future.” –Anon. 1991

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

MOTHERS’ DAY: The current holiday was created in 1908 as a day to honor one’s mother. President Woodrow Wilson made the day an official national holiday in 1914.

* * *

Examination question:

“Who is the person you most admired from your childhood?”

* * *

“It must be true. My mother said so.”

Yes, that worked for me for many years, with my pop psychology, my religion of motherolatry. I thought it was true: My mother was all-powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise–seeing all. M-O-M = G-O-D.

Then it happened: 9th grade for sure. World History. Discussion question about . . . and my answer: “My mother said so.” And the teacher’s response: “Your mother is not God!”

NO?

How could I have been so naive? How did I ever make it into high school believing that my mother had the VERUM VERBUM, the true word?

true wordNo, it is not true; I didn’t believe that . . . so late in the Game of Life. But when did I stop believing? When did I come to that realization the Game was changing? That I had to learn for myself?

Somewhere, sometime, I said, “NO!” to Mom-God. There I was, probably shaking while or after the words came from my mouth. My Act of Rebellion.

out with the old by miss cherylAnd so it goes in the Game of Life, as we grow through adolescence into adulthood (which my pop-psychology taught me. Or was that Gail Sheehy: Tryout Twenties, Turbulent Thirties, Flourishing Forties, Flaming Fifties, Serene Sixties?).

 * * *

Examination question:

“List FIVE traits, characteristics, or attributes of your mother and write about them.”

[Optional essay question.]

* * *

I cannot imagine not having a mother, losing her to disease [Steel Magnolias], in a car accident [Raising Helen], in childbirth [The Sign], to a hunter’s bullet [Bambi], or to the many other awful things that happen to mothers before their children know them. “I lost my mother when I was five.” “I don’t remember my mother.” “My mother died of cancer, when I was seventeen.” “My mom never came home from the party.”

And on it went, as I read essay after essay, year after year, for over twenty years. This question was my choice. I wanted my students to do personal narratives by which they could express themselves–and do their best writing–I hoped.

As the semesters ended, I turned to my readings. Often tired, I usually would become pensive while reading. I tried to be an objective reader, weighing the writing against the grading standards. Yet so often I was sucked into the story being told. I think I am like Miss Lonelyhearts [by Nathaniel West], encountering sad story after sad story, truth stranger than fiction. I could not help it.

Essays ranged from the “My mother took care of me when I was sick” to “My mom had it rough raising the nine of us with no father…or with a druggie father…or with an alcoholic father…or with a___ father.” [How did she manage?]

While I was drifting off, and away from the papers, my own questions, my own answers snuck in: How did my mother manage to sleep, work nights (mostly), raise the four of us, and keep up with the household duties–and be a wife, too?

Doing the dishes was the job that fell to my sister, Janice, and me. We learned–and were outstanding dish-doers. “Glasses, knives, and forks. Dishes, pots, and pans.” That was The Sacred Order. That’s the way I learned, from Mom. [Trait One: MANAGER]

Years before (maybe when in 9th grade?) as I was washing coffee cups after supper, I reached into the soapy water, reaching after a cup that slipped from my soapy left hand. My hand went automatically to retrieve the cup, but the broken cup sliced into the fingers of my left hand. Blood in the water. Panic from the immediate intense pain, cut-in-soap. My sister screaming for, of course, “M-O-M!” [Trait Two: NURSE]

“Mom, can you read my story before you go to work?” [Trait Three: GRAMMARIAN] ‘Nuff said.

grammarian amazon

Mothers cheer us on: “You can do it. Go ahead! Go ahead!” I remember vividly, her feeling good on a warm Saturday evening in Chicago. She had just ridden the (used) small bicycle bought for me. I ran alongside her with glee. At the corner, she turned around, giving me the bike. My turn. My first two-wheeler.

“You can do it. Try again,” I heard as I tried to gain balance, but fell into the bushes. Getting up, scratched arms be damned!, I tried again. Her laughing encouragement behind me grew as I cycled away from her. At the end of the sidewalk, near the alley, I stopped (applying the brakes expertly), then fell over–and off. I turned back to see my mom waiting at the end of the street. I rode to her. “Expertly,” of course. Yeah, wobbling from side to side, houses’ steps and bushes on the right, grass-curb-city street on the left. I pedaled the gauntlet. To Mom. [Trait Four: CYCLIST TRAINER]

50s bicycle liveauctioneers50s BICYCLE (CREDIT: LIVEAUCTIONEERS)

“What do you think I should do?”

If there is one question I ask, probably more than any other, it is “What do you think I should do?” My kids do it. My wife does it. We all do it.

Looking over my Early Asking Age to now, I realize this has to be The Ultimate Question: each of us is a Grand Inquisitor. We seek answers. I seek (and sought) answers. However, the answers that come from “What do you think I should do?”, though not unique to kids asking moms, make us Deciders. For the answer usually is, “You’ll have to decide.” It means, “You’ll have to make up your own mind–and live with it.” This is not cold, harsh, cruel, but is concerning, caring, and–when I think more about it–allowing the Inquisitor to grow and live. Therefore, we talk and discuss and ask: “What should we do?”

Yes, just like a mom, she said, “Yes, you’ll have to decide.” Just as I expected, not unexpected. [Trait Five: NON-DECIDER/DECIDER]

Good move, for, as we all know so well, not just Mother Nature, but “Mother knows best” (often).

So I would search student essays for goodness and admiration, stories that demonstrated “goodness” and “admiration.” “All the good” moms do . . . “is oft interred with their bones.”

NO! The good DOES live after them. I CAN recall the good times, the admired times; memories of the hard times, the rough times; illnesses, job layoffs, or . . . .”

Too, from Trait Five, I learned: to be able to reach decisions, come to conclusions, after rational thought, not impulse thoughts, but rather, like a good Indiana Jones Crusader, to choose wisely.

 So, “The person I most admire from childhood . . . .”

 © James F. O’Neil   2014

* * *

 ~Irish Proverb: “A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.”

 happy-mothers-day shlomoandvitos.com(CREDIT: shlomoandvitos.com)

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

Most of us adjusted our clocks to keep up with The Changing of the Clocks: Daylight Saving Time (“Daylight Time”). And the world keeps on turning.

watch If the yearly changing of clocks is important for the economy and for the normal operation of living, we can be aware of what a big deal it really is.

However, it is a small instance in our being involved in rite, ritual, and myth.

Ritual plays such an important role in the life of an aware human, and knowledge of ritual and mythology makes us aware of the bond that unites us all to one another.

If you need to delve into this “myth thing,” read and study Frazer, Frye, Eliade, Wheelwright; then worlds open up reading Jung, Milton, Whitman, and Joyce. There is no end to discovering, to making connections, to becoming aware of how contemporary faiths and practices are united with/by “archaic” realities. And in the widest range possible, “faiths and practices” can even include setting back or ahead a timepiece or the Dashboard Clock.

How I do something or how I am told to do something is RITE: How to color Easter eggs.

EGG COLORING BY ELCIVICS.COM

The actual coloring is the Annual RITUAL, including hiding the eggs, making baskets, and making chocolate disappear.

MYTH is a true story that is precious, contains special elements, and is usually religious or “sacred.” (This is the story of “Once upon a time . . .”: Easter Bunny, tombs, rolling back a stone, angels passing over, etc.) We need to get used to NOT saying, “It’s a myth.” (Maybe in Shakespeare in Love, “It’s a mystery” has more meaning than appears.)

A MYTH is a narrative and an expression of ultimate reality, a statement of value: “I believe this.” Even if it’s an Easter Bunny, the Paschal Lamb, or Passover . . . or changing the time. We express, “We believe,” then act accordingly as those who have done before us from the beginning.

From here, we go to see the timepiece, the clock, as more than a time change but rather as a renewal of and re-living the myth: spring (or autumn). And all that spring announces, like dawn or birth or green (however, after the snow is finally gone), or revival, defeat of darkness of winter (resurrection?).

This is Spring. (April may be the cruelest month, but April showers bring May flowers . . .)

Living a MYTH implies a genuinely religious experience. We live it ceremonially or by performing the ritual: Easter bonnets, those Easter Parades (any parade!). In one way or another, we “live” the myth in the sense that we are “seized by the sacred, exalting power of the events recollected or re-enacted” (Mircea Eliade).

All those little things we do at this time of the year, “religious” or sacred or “profane,” take us on that journey of awareness, that ritual of discovery of our origins and of who we are: humans.

It’s no big deal, just a clock and egg and a bunny and a . . . .

© James F. O’Neil

BUNNY EGG BY LUCYLEARNS.COM

 

 

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