This was originally written as a eulogy for my grandfather, Errol Grant Myhand (1924-2011). I spent a few weeks with him on the family land in Pine Mountain, Georgia, almost every summer from age 4-21 (and plenty of other times as well), so writing this a day after his passing left it very sentimental. Years hence, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’ve heard it said that the chain of wisdom always skips a generation; that the lessons of lives long lived are instilled in grandchildren by their grandparents while their parents are working to make ends meet.
That’s not to say that our parents are not wise, rather that our ability to absorb their wisdom as children is clouded by familiarity, authority, and selfishness–we’re predisposed to doubt what they tell us until we grow up to realize they knew exactly whereof they spoke. In the time between birth and that epiphany of maturity, God interposes grandparents.
Family portrait, 1929. He and Aunt Edna (his twin sister) were almost 5 here.
Maybe we listen to them because they’re a curiosity–we don’t see them daily as we do our parents, gray hair and glasses make them seem softer, their habits and customs from an earlier time are both confusing and inviting. Maybe we let them teach us because they offer us love with an infinite patience bolstered by the peace and quiet of living somewhere else (without kids) most of the time.
Whatever the reasons, this cross-generational transfer of wisdom seems to be part of the design of life. Thinking of this after losing Papaw, It’s hard to look at my life and values without seeing his fingerprints everywhere.
As often as I get the chance, I’m out in the woods.
Fields, forests, and mountains indulge my inner botanist, provide the peace and quiet for “active rest”, and clear my head of the confining realities of city life. What better venue to dial down distractions and focus prayer or creative thought than a good stroll under a dense canopy?
Few would accuse me of being an “avid outdoorsman”–I fish a little and camp a bit, but generally draw the line at activities involving expensive gear or a high risk of death and dismemberment. Mostly, I enjoy walking, and the fewer people around, the better (though the kids are getting old enough that they get to tag along frequently now).
My dear wife graciously recognizes that look I get when I’ve been stuck in town for too long, and willingly takes on extra time watching the kids every so often so I can get out for a solo hike. I sing her undying praise, but she enjoys the benefits of a sane husband that come with the deal. =)
When those chances come, I’m more than a little ebullient, which often spills over in my telling everyone I see for the next few days about the trail I found. Recognizing the counterintuitive move of inviting more people to find my place of solitude, I just can’t help but share a good thing. Hopefully this can work its way into becoming a recurring feature here…we’ll see.
I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a camera. Not one of those “gotcha” traffic light cameras, just a guy on his cell phone recording the world going by from behind the wheel (no comment on the insane hazard he made himself). I have no idea what he wanted to accomplish, and his recording is none of my business…or is it?
Maybe he was simply trying to share a nice sunset with (given his driving choices) his soon-to-be-bereaved family, but now he’s got a bunch of license plate numbers (including mine) eternally residing in iCloud or Google Drive. Privacy these days is a relative thing, to be sure, and I seriously doubt anyone will ever find any relevant use for Mr. Steer-and-Shoot’s artistry. Still, it has prompted some further reflection on the ubiquity of surveillance exercised on citizens of the modern world and the lack of attention most of us pay it.
When we each voluntarily post hundreds (or thousands) of photos and videos bearing our likeness in public spaces, being recorded is as human an experience today as breathing. We may grouse a bit, depending on who is behind the camera, but mostly we don’t even notice anymore. Why worry? What do we have to fear if we’re doing nothing wrong? In the main, very little. On consideration, everything.
- He’s watchin’ you…
I am neither a Luddite nor the son of a Luddite, but responsible wariness is the better part of wisdom. That said, here are, in no particular order, some thoughts on the subject.
1) God sees all and knows all. This seems the foundation stone of any discussion on surveillance. All things private or public, down to the thoughts and intentions of our hearts (Rev. 2:23), are alike an open book before our Lord. Seeking protection for parts of our lives from the eyes and ears of others is right and natural, but nothing is hidden from His sight. Privacy exists to protect virtue, not to conceal vice.
2) Man will always only ever know in part. This is the counterpoint to the previous observation, underlaying our moral standards (rejecting gossip, for example) and jurisprudence (requiring multiple witnesses for conviction of crime). We are not God and must weigh our knowledge and actions accordingly. Continue reading