Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"If Today Was Your Last Day..."

 There’s a popular rock song that always gets me to thinking about how I’ve lived my life and what I can do in the time I have left to make it better, not only for myself but also for those around me. The song, “If Today Was Your Last Day,” by Nickelback presents a scenario where a best friend offers his or her advice with sentiments we’ve all heard and sometimes might view as cliché (“each day’s a gift and not a given right,” “take the path less traveled by”).
  Yet the lyrics that always seem to reach me and cause me to give pause and consider are ones that offer a great deal of sage advice if they are to be taken with an open heart and mind. So let’s examine some of the ones that stand out. 
  “If today was your last day and tomorrow was too late, Could you say goodbye to yesterday?”
  If I were to leave this world tonight while I slept, what could I have done, what should I have done that went left undone. We can’t always control the things we should do now, sometimes it has to be put off for another day for myriad reasons, but when you go to sleep can you close your eyes in good conscience and bid yesterday farewell knowing you might not open your eyes again.
  “Would you live each moment like your last”
  You might take this as “would you live each moment like it was your last moment” and that is certainly a thought that provokes thoughts, but the lyric asks if you would live each moment like you just lived your last moment? The heart of the lyric is asking if you will be satisfied to continue living your life the way you have been. Has your life been a life to be proud of? The lyrics meaning begs the listener to examine their own life and decide if changes can be made to make it better.
  “Leave old pictures in the past, Donate every dime you have”
  The donate every dime part of that lyric always gets to me. I’m a poor man, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to offer. Even the little money I do have should I or do I share it with those who are less fortunate? It is easy to be cynical and callous in this day and age and I AM cynical and often times I’m callous. I shouldn’t be, God doesn’t want his people to be that way. Finding my way out of that mentality is a daily struggle, one I and possibly you reading this, deal with on a daily basis. 
  “Would you call old friends you never see?”
  There’s a saying I like to say when I find I’m inundated with “things” that bog down my day - “Life Happens.” But it is just because ‘Life Happens’ that we should endeavor to stay in touch with old friends, family, people from our past who were important to us in some way. Facebook has definitely made it easier to connect with those we’ve lost touch with, but there is something special in actually picking up the phone and calling them and something even more special and personal about picking up a pen and paper and taking the time to actually write a letter or even just a simple note or postcard and sending it their way. We should all make it a point to reconnect with important persons from our past.
  “Would you forgive your enemies?”
  This is possibly the most important part of this song. Forgiveness requires love and to love someone who has wronged you is supremely difficult and yet Christ gave us the perfect example of forgiving those who would do us harm, not only he but the apostles and first century Christians as well. They faced ridicule, hatred, persecution and death, yet they lived their beliefs and the new commandment Christ gave in John 13:34 - “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Certainly one of the most difficult tasks Christians have and yet one which we must also feel in our hearts.
  “You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars, regardless of who you are. So do whatever it takes, Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life. Let nothing stand in your way, Cause the hands of time are never on your side.”
  These lines in the waning vestiges of the song sum up the urgency to recognize the importance of the message. It doesn’t matter who you are we are all charged as human beings to live each day to the fullest, doing all we can not just for ourselves but for the less fortunate and those who are our enemies. You only get one go at this life so make it count and don’t let ANYTHING stand in your way.

  So today, take a look at your life. Ask yourself, “What can I do to be a better person?” “What can I do to help someone less fortunate than myself?” “What can I do to reach out and connect with that person in my past who was such a positive influence and inspiration to me?” “What can I do to show that person who may despise and hate me that I love them as a human being and want an end to the enmity between us?” Once you’ve answered those questions take action and make your life one to be proud of.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Young Writer - "A Kind Father"

  I was flipping through a couple of scrapbooks of mine that mom had made for me many years ago. The first was from second through third grade and the second one from fourth through about seventh grade. What a treat to take a few moments and look back on the boy I was. There were things from school, scouting, church, sports, and the places we lived. I came across one particular item, a stapled booklet of short stories (extremely short!) written by my third grade class, including one by me. 
  As I read through it I was amused at the innocence of my words and I reflected on how as an adult I have lost that innocence. And though the story itself is not a great achievement I was amazed at my knowledge of the era the subject was written in. But I'll let you read for yourself and hope you don't laugh at me too much... I was only eight years old after all! :)

A Kind Father
Charlton Wiggins 
  In a pink and blue tavern in Tennessee, the son and daughter of Rick and Jill Sanders were eating their lunch. Just as they were finishing their lunch, there came a clatter of horse hoofs, it came again, closer and closer - then it stopped. Mitch reached over for his musket and aimed it at the door. Although Mitch was thirteen, he could shoot from two-hundred feet and shoot a squirrel through the eyes. All of a sudden, the door was flung open and there before them stood a tall lanky man. He wore a three-cornered hat, breeches, stockings that were up to his knees, buckled shoes and a bib. April, who was twelve, had been up a moment or two before Mitch yelled, "Pa!"
  Rick said, "Wait a minute." Then he moved over to the table and said, "I'll answer all your questions one at a time." After he finished answering all of their questions he had a good supper! Then they all went to bed with happy thoughts.
  Early the next morning, after they ate, their father called them back to the barn. There they father was waiting for them.
  "Come into the barn," said their father. He turned and led them into the barn. There stood a Palamino and a Pinto. Beside the Pinto was a musket and three boxes of cartridges.  Beside the Palamino was a frying pan and a pretty dress.
  They just stood there, and then finally managed to say, "Oh, you're the kindest father in the world!"
  Now before you judge me too harshly I realize a musket doesn't use cartridges and a frying pan is extremely stereotypical but that was the world we grew up in. Now the challenge would be to take this kernel of an idea and develop it into a full story!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Piece of History in the Family

Radioman Oliver Wendell Wiggins... dad.
At the teletype machine at Naval Station Guam.
  My dad served in the U.S. Navy as a radioman. Back in 1960 he was stationed at Guam and on January 23, 1960 he became a small part of oceanographic history when as part of his job he relayed via teletype (teletype is an electromechanical typewriter used to send and receive typed messages from point to point - essentially a telegram) the story which was unfolding in the Marianas Trench off of Guam. I had heard him talk of it a time or two but in going through some stored papers today I came across his copy of the actual teletype story. The event involved Dr. Andreas Rechnitzer who, along with Dr. Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, descended in the bathyscaphe “Trieste” into the deepest part of the ocean - the Marianas Trench.
  I’ve always loved everything about the ocean and as I read this folded paper about one of the most historic submersible feats in history I was captivated, not to mention proud that my father was there. So, I am sharing here with you the account as written, without the obligatory telegram breaks and punctuations though. I hope you enjoy.
  Dr. Andreas Rechnitzer who is the scientist in charge of the Navy’s deep-sea diving sphere, “Trieste,” that broke the world record Sunday, had some interesting tales to relate after having submerged to the bottom of the sea during a scientific dive.
  Dr. Rechnitzer was accompanied by Dr. Jacques Piccard when they shattered the depth record of 13400 feet by descending to the unprecedented depth of 18600 feet.
  “It was indeed a great sensation coming face to face with the bottom of the ocean,” said the senior scientist after his historic adventure.
  Heavy seas and inclement weather postponed the dive for two days and finally on Sunday morning at 1000 (10:00 am) the two scientists commenced their historic journey.
  “We left the attending vessels bobbing on the rough surface as we descended untethered and on our own into the eerie calm below,” said Doctor Rechnitzer.
  With one lone pilot fish following them curiously for their first few feet, the blimp-shaped vessel settled slowly into the deep marianas trench at an average of one mile per hour.
  “At the surface the sun-lit water appeared as an electrifying blue through the eight inch thick plastic windows,” stated Dr. Rechnitzer.
  After a thousand feet the sea darkened to midnight black, but at 1500 feet, the phenomenon of bioluminescence gave the illusion of a starry night.
  “Numerous tiny greenish white lights surrounded us,” said the senior scientist.
  At 6000 ft the quantity of living underwater lights dwindled and once again it was black.
  On the bottom for only ten minutes he observed no fish, only shrimp and numerous small holes of burrowing animals, according to Dr. Rechnitzer.
  At exactly 3 1/3 miles from the surface, Dr. Rechnitzer had the first glimpse by man of the ocean floor in the Marianas Trench, almost a full mile deeper than man has ever gone.
  “Dropping ballast to slow our descent for landing on the bottom, created billows of underwater dust which temporarily obscured details of the sea floor,” said Dr. Rechnitzer.
  A biting temperature of 42 degrees inside of the sphere was the major physical discomfort endured by the two men despite the fact that they were confined 5 and 1/2 hours in a space equal to that of normal household refrigerator. The 36 degree temperature outside, had penetrated the thick walls of the bathyscaph by the time they reached the bottom. It was particularly annoying to the pair of scientists who were wet from the waist down from boarding the vessel in rough water.
  The ascent was just as smooth as the descent. They appeared on the surface after 5 and 1/2 hours at nearly the origin of the dive, indicating that there was relatively little deep wake current.
  This phase of the Navys global long-term oceanographic and marine research program to explore the deep ocean has been in the planning for two years. The bathyscaph, Trieste was purchased by the Navy in 1958, from Professor Auguste Piccard.
  The tests are being conducted under the joint sponsorship of Naval Electronics Laboratory and the Office of Naval Research. Some of the underwater data being sought includes more knowledge of sunlight penetration, underwater visibility, natural underwater sounds, transmission of man-made sounds, water currents, water temperatures, sea floor configurations, and the effect of deep water pressures on various mechanical devices.
  As Dr. Rechnitzer put it, “We probably know more about the surface of the moon than we know about the bottom of the Ocean.” This series of dives and exploration will undoubtedly bring to light many mysteries yet unknown to mankind. 
Bathyscaph "Trieste" after its historic journey to the ocean depths
January 23, 1960