To say the very least, I am honored to have been asked by Mike Slusher to be a guest blogger. I do not blog, and my writing has mostly been strange fiction and political and philosophical ranting. However, our lives, and our perceptions of how to live, present the strangest fictions, and all we can do is mold our own realities from endless uncertainties. As Slusher's friend for the the past 15 years, he is the only man I have ever called my brother, and meant it with 100% certainty, even though the two of us have no blood ties. I am the guitar-wielding philosopher, the (laughably) published author, the fellow who shares the burdensome label of 'genius' with Mike Slusher; I am Ralph Harper.
Slusher and I met during mutually uncertain times at Burger King, our first of four jobs together. Our friendship stemmed from the onset through our shared high-regard of the song 'Stairway to Heaven.' Burger King is also where we met our third, Bobbi, and though through the years our own courses have torn us apart and brought us back together, bringing our own separate friends into elliptic revolutions, this core of three has remained a constant. There are measures of true friendship; what friends teach us about ourselves, how, through insurmountable odds the true friends never entirely disappear, and how much dirt you have on one another. Slusher and I have always agreed that this is the real strength behind our friendship, that we have too much dirt on one another to not be friends.
Slusher and I are such strong alpha male types that we have learned through repeated error that we cannot work together anymore, and that we also realize how weak the other can often be, on the inside, where we show few others, and tread ourselves only under involuntary duress. We have, however, taken our turns being weak, and fortunately we don't do it at the same time. One has always remained strong for the other. We have felt no shame in shedding tears before one another. Likewise, we have been each others critic, we have shifted the blame, we have fought and despised each other on a few occasions, and had no qualms in allowing the truth to always remain in the forefront. We have not always liked what the other has said, but we will not lie to soften the blow. Minds are individually incomplete in our current states of awareness, not one among humans possesses all knowledge, in spite of our arrogant portrayals. This friendship with Slusher has been an instruction in this hard lesson, and though outwardly I may appear to be immensely self-absorbed, I need help, too. Yes, I do think highly of myself, but part of my arrogance comes from this self-awareness, my understanding that I can't always do everything. In short, and ironically, I am proud of my humility, for it is not just anyone who can say something like this.
I have a grim view of humanity, the fact that the vast majority of us are victims of inane traditions, false comforts that serve to soothe the soft-minded into abject subservience. Innovation feeds our passive laziness, and serves to convince us that we are safe, that no hand, neither of man nor God, can ever strike us down. And there are those who are struck every day, repressed and convinced that their station will never be more than it is, the victim. Society is built on control, and our current structure is governed by those steeped in the vices of the 7 deadly sins. Religion and politics control through fear and judgment, and have for so long that we accept this as the way things are supposed to be. We embrace the unnatural as natural. We create money and believe it is a requirement of basic existence. Money has become the real god to the majority, and this is an inescapable truth. It destroys, corrupts, spills blood, and divides.
BUT, this is not life, not as it was intended. We exist in frailty, and the truth is that we can all be struck down at any moment, or we can all rise above ourselves, and exist as productive freewill agents who share a common goal to enrich one another, to help carry the load we all share, and stop destroying one another for our own greedy grubbing desires. Certain among us find solace in this truth, and we gravitate towards one another. There are two reasons for hopelessness. One is giving up. The other is to exist so positively and productively with one another that we establish all our hopes into reality, and there is no need for hope. We have a way to go before our world sees this, and probably the bridge will be destroyed on that road, by us, before we get to cross over it.
What my point results in is that, though our lives are forced into struggle, we do not toil alone. We toil with those we gravitate towards, and I have found a kindred soul in Mr. Slusher. He symbolizes a positive outlook through bleak experiences. He has been down, deeply and darkly down, and he climbs back up. He dusts himself off, and then he walks over to the hole you are in and he reaches for your hand. Maybe he will point and laugh first, but then he will offer a shoulder.
To demonstrate my arrogance, I will state that there are few folks in the world that I can communicate with fully, and who understand on a level as my peer. I can count these people on one hand. Slusher is among these few.
I would hope that my words serve a purpose and teach a lesson, about how our world can be. The wind will stir violently and the waves will crash, fires will burn and then diminish. Don't seek a finality to this life, enjoy it as it comes, Rejoice in every day, because now is all we really ever have. Do not dwell in miseries of past mistakes, because quite clearly there is nothing to be done about them. And fret not for the future, because each next second time ticks away could be all the future you ever see. When you identify a true friend, embrace the friendship. And remember, change doesn't need to stem from the actions of others, or your politicians, or your religious leaders. In the end, I repeat, no one human possesses all knowledge. No human possesses that one universal truth that will free our minds. We really are freewill agents, you must trust yourself, and you must realize that great realities come from within. The first step in advancing your fellow man is advancing yourself. Good friends are the best church.
Through the years, Slusher and I have drank the beers around the bonfires, watched the fireworks on the 4th of July, met the girlfriends, witnessed the breakups, played the songs, become fathers and ex-husbands, told the tales and shown the scars. Strangely enough, though he and I have both traveled extensively, we have never done so together. We have never been outside of Ohio together. We are currently planning a trip to Vegas in the spring, and in summation, I am fortunate to call Mike Slusher my brother, and look forward to solving all the world's problems with his insight. That is, right after we solve all of our own. I can only imagine however, that taking care of the world is the correct first step. Everything else is child's play.
Good afternoon everyone! If it is your first time here, welcome to my blog. In the past this has been a place for me to share thoughts and stories about everyday life. And while I haven't written in awhile, I decided today was the day to jump back in, as this is probably going to be the easiest way to keep everyone updated as we hopefully get a heart transplant in the near future.
To catch you all up, my wife Tiffany suffered her 8th and most severe heart attack on October 1. It was a scary day in which we almost lost her. She spent the next 2 weeks at the Ohio State University - Ross Heart Hospital, where the doctors determined that she would need a heart transplant. They put her through every test you can possibly imagine, and ultimately recommended her to the State of Ohio Solid Organ Transplantation Consortium for a heart transplant, who approved her almost immediately. All we had to do was wait for one more test to clear, and Emily (her amazing transplant coordinator at OSU …
Good afternoon everyone. I wanted to take a few minutes this afternoon to bring you all up to speed on what is going on with the effort to get Tiffany on the heart transplant list.
When I last wrote, we were waiting on Tiffany to have a biopsy on her left breast. that occurred Monday morning. Early today, the results came back. Benign*. Good news, right? Except, the asterisk is not a mistype. While there is no cancer present, the cells they looked at were "pre-cancerous" and she is considered high risk for developing breast cancer in the future. So what does that mean?
A heart (or any organ) transplant recipient has to be immunosuppressed for the rest of their life to limit the risk of rejection of the donated organ. If Tiffany is immunosuppressed and the cancer develops, it would spread quickly and lead to the worst possible outcome.
So whats next? Well on Tuesday, November 1st, 2016, Tiffany will see a surgical oncologist. He will explain what the concerns are, and likely …
I had been looking forward to today for a couple of months. When my sister suggested that the descendants of George and Eula Grace Hodge have a mini family reunion outside of the much larger Gilbert and Hodge get together's that take place every year, we all jumped at the idea. My grandparents instilled the value of a close knit family in us, yet we hadn't been all together since my Mother's funeral. Obviously, this celebration of my grandparents legacy was long overdue.
I have written several times about the family functions I had with these folks when I was younger. And the day brought back so many memories of those times. Of course we had a huge, homemade feast complete with everything from pork tenderloin to deviled eggs to banana pudding. We sat and talked and told stories about the good old days and where we are now. Aunts Pam, Debbie, and Bev decided to enlighten Tiffany with tales of a 4 year old terror named Michael, and explain how they had to use switches and f…