Philosophically Speaking

In the early 1970 ‘s I attended Northeastern Illinois University in pursuit of a well-rounded education. Part of this endeavor meant that I had to take a course in philosophy. Philosophy is supposed to be defined as the love of wisdom. Frankly, though, the philosophers I’ve met were kind of not so wise.

The professor who taught our class did her post-graduate work at the University of Chicago. That alone should tell you that she did not believe so readily in mom, apple pie, the military and capitalism, although she did wear fancy clothes. I suspect that she made a good living and justified her salary because she was doing something very important to help the American Economy. Yeah, exactly.

Kind of ironic that she tried to teach us some stuff from a couple of saints named Anselm and Augustine because she was an atheist. I asked her if she believed that someone put her in this world with some purpose by design or did she just come about as a freak of nature. She told me that this was not the purpose of our class but only to teach us how other people waxed philosophically and how we could, too, learn to wax. I’m sure she would have thrown me out of class if I asked her if she waxed a lot.

Much of the waxing we did in class had to do with figuring out why we were born and what purpose it served. I didn’t care why I was born and I was still trying to figure out my own purpose, that is- what I wanted to do in life but I didn’t have time to philosophize about it. I had to make sure I got good grades and show up at the department store where I was a stock clerk.

A few months after Dad passed away about a year and a half ago, I asked my brother if he had any dreams where he met him. He said that he had a couple where he saw him and tried to have a chat but didn’t answer back. I told him that I experienced the same. My brother said he heard that if the spirit did not talk then it meant we really did encounter him. On the fourth visit I had with Dad in the middle of the night, we were both trying to go over the border to Canada but somehow we drifted apart and a border patrol guard told me that my father had already gone through and I could not connect with him anymore. I think that was a message that Dad had now reached a new destination and what was meant to be was. But it certainly did not mean that Canada was Heaven.

Now that I don’t see him anymore I sometimes wonder if Dad was a figment of my imagination. Did I really have a relationship with him and for that matter with anyone else? It there a set blueprint for everything I’ve ever done and all that I will do for as long as I am supposed to? And when I leave will I know it and just enter a new dimension with a different skin covering? Will I have feelings for what I have left behind or will I just shrug it off and think to myself that I’ve accomplished what I had to do and now I’m on to the next phase? None of us can remember much of what we did before the age of three. Even with pictures and possibly videos we’d still be clueless and look upon it as we would seeing a stranger.

I am a percentages guy. I don’t play them- I evaluate them. It all started with baseball cards more than fifty years ago. My mother told me that a guy who hit .328 meant he was successful 32.8 percent of the time and that was considered very good. She then pointed out that a team that won the World Series hardly ever won more than two-thirds of their games. So, one did not have to be even near perfect to be considered very good.

I started to do percentage counts on everything I did and still do. If I pick up a three hundred and fifty page book and get through the first fifteen or so pages I marvel at how I am already five percent done with it. I look at a clock to see how much time there is left to a tv show or movie that I watch and calculate the percentage completed or remaining and decide if the rest is worth the bother. There is obviously one thing that I cannot calculate the completion percentage of and I’ll let you figure that one out.

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