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Now Is The Time

It’s very clear
Our love is here to stay
Not for a year, but ever and a day…

I’m haunted by the George and Ira Gershwin magic, especially when sung by Nat “King” Cole. It restores my faith in the good life.

I was 20 years old when I first heard what sounded to me like heavenly music bootlegged from a lonely jukebox at the San Diego Naval Training Center. I can no more forget the song than I can the petty officer who rained down sharp abuse upon my crewcut.

“Say your mother loves you? Well, she ain’t here. Call that deck swabbed? Do it again and this time use new water…Call that a square knot? Tie it again. This ain’t your granny talking.”

First Class bosun mates had fire in the belly. But there was a purpose, a wake-up call. Voyages are better undertaken when the crew takes care of details, no matter how seemingly trivial.

Now, more than half a century later, the Gershwin song still lives pleasantly on the “to-live-one-day-at-a-time” shelf in my permanent memory vault. I know I can count on it to see me through another day. It lightens the load of necessity.

The petty officer’s in-your-face “shine those shoes again…who told you those legging laces were tight?” stands smiling outside the safe-deposit box of recollection. It was he who introduced me to the disciplined life and, in my senior years, I thank him for it as he reminds me that there are unfinished jobs before “Anchors Aweigh.”

Come to think of it, every song of youth and discipline rests in the shining now box with the well-worn key fitting ever so nicely.

Everything is now.

Now is the time to stop worrying. Now is the time to listen more carefully to the voices of the Gershwins. Now’s the time to hum, sing, and whistle a tune. Now is the time to remember, for every infraction of rules, every missed opportunity, there’s a boot camp petty officer blowing his whistle.

Now’s the time for believing that all worthy causes are possible. Better health insurance. Better air to breathe. Better water to drink. Better sunrises to greet. Better generation of energy to keep our engines humming.

So, remember Gershwin and remember the firm hand of the bosun mate who manages the mooring lines.

We’ve got this New Year—2008—with another opportunity to demonstrate that all resolutions are better served with promises kept. One of our family’s watchwords is: “If everybody will do what they say they’re going to do, plus a little bit more, we’ll be all right.”

At the head of the “to do” list, I devoutly believe, is prayer. Without spirituality, will we not “crumble like the Rockies, tumble like Gibraltar?” Remember, “they’re only made of clay.” I’ve heard it said, God helps those who help themselves.

Next comes improved public education. What’s the correct answer to the question, weren’t all lottery dollars to be used for education? We think we heard that. There ought to be an accounting explained on a regular basis.

A drug-free society should not be an impossibility. Is not cocaine a terrorist? Was there not a war on illegal drugs? Who won that war?

To speak of love in the New Year seems to be another occasion for the Golden Rule. George Bernard Shaw dismissed the Golden Rule: “The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.” Down here on Plum Lick, even half of a golden rule is better than no golden rule at all.

The year 2008 will see many more babies born, and if they’re taught to behave and be visited with a lullaby or two, by the year 2108 they might find a better world in which to live, in a culture worth passing along to another generation.

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