Re: A Book And Its Cover... Reconsidered...
When one of my largest and longest-suffering "fishing cronies"-- "Stack," brother of the aforementioned "Trunk" --finished tossing log chunks from his pick-up bed last night-- never too early for prepping firewood for the woodstove --he had some thoughts about the events of the recent past, having spoken about it with his brother.
First, he observed, he was glad that "Trunk" hadn't taken the guy to the proverbial "wood-shed," especially in front of his kids. His follow-up questions about the guy and any prospects of a friendship gave me fertile ground, if you will, on which to sow the seed of a passing thought and see it grow into an opinion, one that blossomed fully as the night wore on. And, in those moments came my own "discovery" of sorts that recalls my past and that which might be missing in today's world.
Once, we were a nation of "porch-sitters" and "fire-siders." After the day's chores were finished, I would sit quietly with my elders and neighbors as they gathered on the farm house's massive front porch in the late Spring, Summer and Fall to discuss life's challenges, air their opinions and generally unload the occasional burdens and challenges that weighed them down. It was a generational sort of "pressure-relief valve," in that complete honesty was there for both the giving and the taking, and it was accepted without fear of rash or harsh judgment in return.
The same applied to the fireside chats of late Fall and Winter. As with its warmer-weather kin-- the porch --deals were struck, grievances were laid to rest and things were made right again when done in the relative "safety" of a room backlit by the flickering glow of a good fire. Plainly put, people talked back then, and in doing so, friendships developed that often deepened with every passing year.
Now, I will confess that the world of my younger years was far from perfect. No matter the generation, there always have been and always will be problems that go beyond the simplicity of a chat on the porch or an open discussion as a stack of dry oak burned in a stone fireplace. Yet, my grandfather always held to one assertion above all others during his lifetime, and that was the fact "You can tell a lot about a man by looking him straight in the eyes..."
That point of view was never more evident than during my recent "reconsideration" process. When the man apologized, I watched his face and found a certain measure of sincere remorse within him. Do I have high hopes for his future astream, and that of his sons? I do, to whatever extent is possible, given our short time together. Do I believe that the "text" within this man will now be rewritten by his own hand? I truly hope so.
As to the prospects of a future friendship? Who's to say? A man's life is akin in many ways to the composition of a book, in that there are always chapters left to be written...