What Don't You Know ~ I Don't Know Who I'm Going To Talk To (Perspectives)
When this month’s theme was first suggested, I thought I would be writing about the importance of knowing what you don’t know, about recognizing those subjects and ideas you have little information about or experience with, things you would do well to listen to others regarding. Those of you who might read each of the ‘Perspectives:’ our little troop publishes each month might have noticed that mine tend to be the least impressive, the most sparse, not at all attractive just a lot of blabbering. My inclinations almost always tend to be a bit cerebral – I’m not suggesting smart or wise or anything along that line, just that I am most comfortable with ideas, with investigating the philosophic mechanisms behind things and not so much the personal practice leading to a desired emotional condition.
My plan was to write about owning a sure confidence in the things you do in fact know about, but honestly recognizing those things you don’t know much about . . . that, you’re kind of just -wasting everybody’s time if you timidly squeak-out something you know to be true in an apologetic manner, and you are certainly wasting everybody’s time if you boldly bark-out something you really know nothing about. That’s the kind of blabbering I was planning for this ‘Perspectives:’ . . . but my mind and heart have been abducted by another concern, and so instead, this ‘Perspective:’ will be quite personal.
Me and Spencer, way back when . . .
I had lunch yesterday with a friend, Now, the only people I know who I’ve known longer than my friend are my mother and my sister & brother, and I’m nearing 60 so I’ve known Spencer a very long time. This is a very peculiar friendship in several areas. While we’re not really much alike, some might likely suggest not very compatible at all, our lives have seemed to follow such a similar course that our companionship seems undeniably ordained. Years after knowing each other we came to realize that, before we ever met, we both spent our youth just blocks from each other, knowing some of the same kids and visiting the same candy shops and Saturday Matinee, etc . . . and yesterday, to have lunch with him, I walked 3 houses down the road – we both live in a town neither of us grew-up in and have no connection to, yet without plan or design we just happened to live a half a block from each other, miles away from where we met in school.
But that just scratches the surface of how ludicrously our lives have ‘just so happened’ to intertwine. Our names are Haist and Hinerman, and so, we first met in homeroom, 7th grade. After getting to know each other a bit probably the first peculiar thing linking us together happened; in a large suburban school (the suburbs of a capitol city) I was put into a section of all girls, with only one other boy besides myself – guess who. Spencer and I were the only boys in our section in 8th grade. Now, just to set the tone of our friendship, the kind of boys we were; as our teacher would walk along the side of the classroom, I would rub the bar of soap along the floor leading back to his desk while Spencer would toss a match in the trash can and then yell “fire!” . . . as Mr.Culver hit the soap running to put out the fire he would slid to the front of the room kicking the flaming trash can sending ash and sparks into the air. Spencer and I enjoyed many such bonding experiences.
Spencer and me, again, some time ago
Perhaps what initiated our fate as companions was that Spencer and I were the first kids in our school (1967ish) to start letting our hair grow, long. This was when guys with long hair were beat-up by guys with crew cuts. We both dropped out of school, we both eagerly partook of the drug culture of the 60s, we both married our high school sweethearts, we both had one kid after another. Now, here’s my favorite part of the story; sometime after dropping out of school, Spencer ran off to Texas for a couple of years. While he was gone, I began reading all manner of ancient texts and esoteric poetry, etc (Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada, Koran, Apocrypha, the Bible, etc), and (to make a longer story a mere statement) I became a Christian. When I heard Spencer was back in town (we’re now maybe 19) we made plans to meet at a local fast food joint . . . now, most of my hippie friends had managed to steer clear of the new Christian Mickey, and I was not at all sure how Spencer would take this rather bizarre bit of news – just as he was likewise pondering how I would receive the very same report from him . . . Spencer had become a Christian during his time in Texas.
After fumbling around just a bit, we realized that we were both trying to tell the other that our lives had changed, that we were now Christians. Now, I think that the manner of person I am, the way I approach things and consider things, had Spencer and I experienced our conversions together, talking and working through ideas together, I’m quite certain I would have lingered in an overly cautious questioning of how independent and genuine my own resolve regarding the claims of the Bible was – that my great partner in so many epochs of growing-up and maturing was absent from this particular adventure, was of no small consequence to me. And that he returned and we both advanced into our Christian faith together was no less a certain benefit to me.
This is Spencer and I in my mom's living room, maybe 25 years ago - Spencer has a cast on his arm and so, of course, I've a cast under my pant leg.
The hours we spent together driving through Pennsylvania corn fields in a VW Bug, talking theology, history, and Biblical texts was . . . well, I’m sure it drove our wives batty. The premise was heading off to an old used book store we heard about, but the path we took was always ludicrously indirect by design. We wouldn’t actually arrive at the book store until we had nothing more to say on that afternoon’s subject – and ‘nothing more to say’, for us, took hours . . . the kind of hours that got us home after dark with much explaining to do. We once bought a garage full of books from an old Mennonite fellow . . . we sat on top of a mountain of books piled in the back of a pick-up truck on Spencer’s front lawn in the dark with spotlights shining on us as we picked through making piles of ‘mine’ and ‘his’ and ‘unwanted’, with our wives coming out to the front porch every so often to remind us we had to go to work in the morning.
You can’t count the number of times I tied a rope to my crappy car and towed his crappy car to a garage at 2am (to avoid traffic police) or how many times he towed one of mine. You can’t count how many times I helped him move (all those boxes of books) to a new home or how many times he helped me move (all those boxes of books) to a new home. Spencer would lose a job, I would lose a job –I would have another kid, Spencer would have another kid – Spencer would brake his arm, I would break my leg. It became truly odd how paralleled our lives would seem . . . it seemed comparisons were required to be made – David & Jonathan, Peter & John, Luther & Melancthon, and Spencer himself once inscribed in a book he gave me ‘a friend as close as Christian to Pilgrim’ (characters from John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’).
So, what does all this have to do with ‘what don’t you know’? As I had lunch with Spencer yesterday, I was cutting his sandwich and setting it before him when the phone rang, I had to maneuver around his wheelchair to get the phone and place it in his hand. Spencer has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis , ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The last time I saw him, Spencer was walking down by backyard path coming to visit me – yesterday he was flicking a joystick on the arm of his wheelchair to turn to talk to me. It’s a very rapidly progressing disease. So, I don’t know who I’m going to talk to . . . we had detentions and suspensions together in school, we took LSD and sat in closets together, we married our high school sweethearts and raised families together, we worked through the ideas of the Trinity, predestination, eternity & time, etc, etc, etc, together.
Spencer will eventually leave behind a wife of over 40 years, 4 children, grandchildren, and his mother – I acquiesce to their loss and their hurt. But, I will bare my own loss, my own hurt. I don’t think I know anyone else who knows the theological distinctions between Ignatius and Polycarp, or who can explain the difference between infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism, or who is interested to spend 4 hours talking about any of that – and who knows I still love the movies I saw at The Penway Theater when I was 10, who knows I'm a hippie who can’t stand The Grateful Dead, and who knows how much and how long I’ve loved my wife. When Spencer is gone from this world my concern will be, I don’t know how I can best attend to the needs of his wife – but just now, when considering what I don’t know - I don’t know who I’m going to talk to.
For an introduction to the 'Perspectives:' series, visit ~
. . . this month's guest contributor ~
Perspectives: What Don't You Know ~
'The Perception Gap' by Docmo
My Previous 'Perspectives:' ~
Previous Guest Writers
The 'Perspectives:' team is delighted that Nellieanna will be our guest contributor for April, sharing her 'perspective' on the theme 'Art'.
If you're interested to contribute and would like to join our group and share your 'Perspective:' on an upcoming theme, please contact MickeySr.
July ~ ‘Bigotry’
August ~ 'What Is Your Problem?' *
September ~ ‘Poverty’
* "The problem that infuriates you the most is the problem God has assigned you to solve..." (Anonymous) . . . What is your problem?