Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

personal stories

Evolving, Thread By Thread

There comes a time in the life of many or us realize that we must evolve in order to survive and thrive in the days, months, and years ahead. The skills and coping mechanisms that propelled  us to our present crossroads will not suffice for the rigors of the road ahead. Ideally, we realize this before someone beats us upside the head with our deficiencies, and advises us to evolve, now, or else. With the benefit of time, we enjoy the luxury of introspection and self-direction.

For some of us, this realization comes in childhood when we begin to understand that the world for which our parents prepared us is a much nicer and simpler place than the world we actually inhabit. My parents, for example, felt that most challenges in life could be overcome by intellect and critical thinking, grounded in a solid appreciation of music, literature, and art.

All that’s of very little use, however, when the schoolyard bully extorts your milk money, day after day, or when the high-school bully demands that you orient your exam paper so that they can cheat off it. It’s also of little use when the demons of depression take hold of your youthful spirit and fill you with suicidal thoughts.

When we’re old enough to see where our life is headed, we’re also old enough to begin our own preparations. Under the critical eye of a strict and controlling parent, however, we learn to be circumspect in our evolution. One by one, we pull the threads from the tapestry woven by our parents and teachers, replacing it with more utilitarian or decorative that better suits our character and our destiny.

Over time, the entire tapestry evolves to something vastly different. On any given day, though, there’s little evidence of any change at all. Our machinations go undiscovered. Yet we’ve slipped our collars, shaken the dust out of our fur, and left that back yard far behind. We’re off on our own now, and ready for the scary world out there.

In my case, the evolution was from book smarts to street smarts, from sadness and fear to wit and grit, from follower to leader. It has taken  quite a long time, half a century so far. admittedly not long in geologic time, but certainly a slow transition in human time. I’m still a work in progress…  I hope. I’m still learning how to be a grandparent, a business owner, a southerner, and a retiree.

I’m grateful to whatever people and forces sparked my desire to make the changes that have brought me this far inspired me to continue the journey of self actualization. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, surely we owe some credit to anyone who helped us to take that step.


Reflections On America: Immigration

Having recently arrived on your welcoming purple shores, I’ve been thinking about immigration. It’s a subject that amazes and perplexes me, and one that our witless politicians are finally beginning to grapple with, but for all the wrong reasons. They see what all the rest of us have seen for years: the US is no country for old [white] men.  While our politicians were busy re-fighting the battles of the past, millions of folks in search of opportunity have quietly entered the country and begun living, working, and studying along with the rest of us.

Conte sailing dayIt’s an enormously complex and interesting challenge. As usual, the politicians approach it primarily from the perspective of near-term personal advancement. They can’t win without the Hispanic vote, gosh darn it all to heck. Guess it’s time to do something, they sigh. Just have to be careful not to scare away the old white guys, so we’ll be sure to include a big fence with concertina wire and armed guards. Plus our contractor friends will get some good work out of it.

Me? I’m not a politician, thank [insert name of deity here]. I’m just the daughter of an immigrant mom, trying to connect the dots in hopes that I can figure out what’s happened so far, and what might come next. So please pull up a chair, and let’s try to sort this out together.  Maybe we can make some sense of all this.

A World War I veteran in the medical corps and prominent neurosurgeon in Berlin, my grandfather left Nazi Germany in 1938, arriving in the US. He learned English, and obtained a position as a university lecturer (for a salary of $500 per year) while studying to re-take all of his medical boards in every field of medicine, not just his specialties of neurology and psychiatry (in English, of course), before being allowed to practice medicine. Then, in order to become a naturalized citizen, he had to leave the US and re-enter. He took a bus from Boston to Miami, traveled to Cuba by boat, then back into the US. Only then could he send for my mother and grandmother to join him.

Back in Germany, my mother and grandmother packed up their belongings under the watchful eye of the Gestapo, who required that every item taken out of the country be inventoried. Under ordinary circumstances, this would be an irritating and time-consuming hassle.

Heightening the danger in this case was the fact that my grandmother was smuggling out hundreds of black-listed books by authors that had been critical of the Third Reich.

Picture: The Conte di Savoia – Gateway to America for My Mother and Grandmother