Sunday, July 26, 2015

WHAT'S IN A FACE?


By Arthur H. Gunther III
ahgunther@yahoo.com

     There comes a day when you see a certain face on a relative, friend or former acquaintance, and you realize time has passed, that age has added lines, that days of happiness, difficulty, excitement, boredom and the sometime ordinariness of living have left telltale trails on a visage unique to that person. 
     Maybe it is because we don’t really look at each other all the time, or at least notice how someone appears on a regular basis, that we don’t see the individual as he/she collects the years. Nor, perhaps, do we see our own aging. Every once in a while, though, we seem to leave close proximity and step back to suddenly notice the person or ourselves in a detached way, almost as an unbiased observer. 
     It is in that moment that a relative or friend or acquaintance appears to us changed, and that is usually for the better. For we all age, we all have our ups and downs, we all move on, whether it is on the treadmill of life or making the heady climb to whatever is our summit. We are then, at the end, the sum of our experiences, and at any point before that the total of all that has happened so far. 
     Except for the most hard luck-driven individual, or the person who seems unable or unwilling to obtain some good days, people move toward that summit on relatively clear trails, even if some are unmarked, the many experiences etching the face like so many notches on a Bowie knife. Your childhood. School. Romance. Work. Marriage. Hobbies. Hard times. Good times. They all make their mark on our faces.
     Yet nature or your god provides those detached moments when you suddenly get an update on the individual or yourself. One day you spot this person and note the changes, or you get up in the morning and acutely see yourself in the mirror. 
     Such moments seem so true in their depth of insight, in their perspective that time has gone by, that things have happened, that you or he or she is still there, that the journey continues. There can be grand glory in all this, a small smile at noting how well someone is doing, or even that the individual has simply survived his or her travails. 
     It is a reaffirmation of life, surely of our own, that we see such change, note it and store the information in the computer that is the mind and add to the mass of feelings that is the spirit. This brings a reality check which shows we all live sometimes challenging lives, that we are all climbing a mountain of some sort.
     Imagine if we were not able to step back and take that detached look at ourselves or someone else? We might all live in the past, in a time when we were 16 and the face was without wrinkles, just the oiled blemishes of puberty and all the wonder of that promising but quick moment. No, even as we write the chapters in our lives, or have some lines written for us, we are given a chance to sit down and read the proofs of what so far is written. In that, we might still alter the ending, and in that, too, we can appreciate, even savor, what’s been put down so far. 

     The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com

Monday, July 20, 2015

PICTURES FROM WITHIN

By Arthur H. Gunther III




The painter who touches you has already made that same journey inward, for he/she takes a picture of part of the artist's soul and renders it in form, line, color, perspective. If you get goose bumps, you get the picture.

This is a gift, which like all the special qualities any have, comes with the package at birth. Whether it is developed depends on what else happens in life – environment, family, opportunity, using free will to make the gift grow.

So, no artist, no writer, no exceptional teacher, surgeon, bus driver, trash collector, parent, citizen of the world ought ever take an ego trip and proclaim that he/she is the cat’s pajamas. You were just lucky at birth, you see, and don’t let it go to your head.

Now this does not mean everyone with a gift will open the box and take the ball and run with it. Humans are also lazy, selfish or are in hardship that dilutes the potential. So many gifts in so many people have gone unclaimed.

But when the ability is nurtured, when it is given expression, wow, can hearts pound, tears come, skin tingle and connection made. A painting that leaves you speechless or that resonates in your particular being. A novel, short story, play or poem, paintings as word pictures, expressed by the gifted ones, also recreate visits with artists' souls.  And so you say, “Ah, that’s what I mean.”

Life can be so unfair, disheartening, troublesome, challenging while also offering great joy and goose bumps. Yet on both sides of the aisle, no matter what your emotions of the day, a painting, something written, a teacher’s great lesson, a surgeon’s saving hands, a professional’s sacrifice, a trash collector’s quiet handling of your discards in the early morning, just about anything any of us do or can do will express the gifts we all have, whatever they may be.




The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com This essay may be reproduced.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A TRIP TO MCNAMARA

By Arthur H. Gunther III
Back when, and “when” is whenever you or I hold a memory about a place or someone or thing, there was a country road in Pomona named McNamara, and though the signs still proclaim it, no longer is this a rural place. Nor is Pomona, named by apple farmer Nicholas Conklin in the 1700s, still wearing the robes of the goddess of fruit, for most of the trees are now 2x4s in suburban development.
There was a ritual in youth back “when” that included a summer walk from Hillcrest, a nearby Rockland County, N.Y., hamlet, to McNamara, early on before the day's heat and humidity. It began off Eckerson Road onto State Street, to Hillcrest Avenue, across Rt .45 to Locust (sometimes it was the parallel Faist Drive) to Hempstead Road to Brick Church Road to Union to McNamara, where the hills and valleys, however light, caused young legs to stretch and the heart rate to quicken. 
It was all worth it, for along McNamara, just before the old ASPCA  animal center, were wildflowers and hay-like straw, which in the increasing warmth and bathed overnight in the wet, gave off a fragrance that Nick Conklin himself  enjoyed so long ago.
For youth a bit bored by even summer recess, a walk to McNamara with or without pals brought accomplishment as well as passing the time of day. It was also ritual, and we all want that because regularity means some things in life can be put the shelf where they ought to be, and we can count on having them there and taking them down when we need to do that. 
Back when McNamara still looked like it had for more than 100 years, a simple walk brought a trip to a friendly place,  made that way by familiarity. Its many changes now in suburban growth and the equally major modifications and morphing in a youth’s growth to adulthood and its  own journey toward sunset mean McNamara Road, now mostly in the Village of Hempstead, can only be a memory. But close the eyes, and a whiff of those wildflowers easily returns.
The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com