THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
If there’s one thing I try to do in this space, it’s to be honest.
In fact, telling the truth is a key part of my life in general.
Not that it was always that way, I admit. But times change, conditions change, and, although common wisdom sometimes claims otherwise, people change too.
To tell the truth, as man I now am must, I’ve got ulterior motives for my honesty.
Firstly, I’ve learned the hard way that if you’re not honest it trips you up. Keeping too many false stories straight isn’t easy, and inevitably you get caught. And the price for that can be very, very steep.
Secondly, I personally I don’t have all that many defenses. I’m not that good a shot, and I can’t afford top lawyers. But being open—as in honest—about my vulnerability is in itself a kind of defense. If I’m right out there, being myself with no pretense, there aren’t any hidden weaknesses someone else can discover and use against me.
(Notice that I’m not saying “no weaknesses.” Just no hidden ones. Still being honest, see?)
Which leads me to the third motive for my honesty:
It’s a matter of pride.
I’ve got a craving, a pushing, shoving, “Git outta the way I’m comin’!” kind of need to be proud of myself. To feel like whatever I’m doing, I’m doing right.
And what could be more right than telling the truth?
Sometimes, though, all this openness drives people crazy.
There are times when Youngest Daughter Amber looks at me in alarm and cries out, “Overshare! Larry B, stop! There are things a daughter just doesn’t want to know!”
Older Son Jeb often has a similar reaction. especially in response to what I write in this very place. “Pop, I’ve got to level with you,” he’ll say. “I’m not sure I want to know all about you as a person. I just want to know you as my dad.”
Frankly speaking (how else can I speak?), whenever either of them says that I wince. Because one of the reasons I’m driven to reveal myself is that my own father never let either of his children—and most other people—in on anything of himself. The result was that not only didn’t my sister and I know him as a man, we didn’t really have a sense of him as a father either.
I haven’t wanted to make that same mistake.
Not that being honest is all that easy. I find myself revealing silly things, embarrassing things, painful things as well as the good stuff. And today that’s what I am, a man who finds himself with an especially embarrassing announcement to make.
Know all that magic I’ve been writing about? The Ghost Dog. The sounds and sights from out of time? The spirits?
They (aargh!—this really hurts) may not be what they seemed.
Not all of them anyway.
Because last night something happened that undercut one of the many astounding experiences over many miraculous years: The experience of looking up at the night sky and seeing certain stars that maybe, just maybe, aren’t stars at all but something else, mysterious flying objects that behave as though alive, darting and twisting and zooming around the heavens in a way that can only be accounted for by myths and magic.
Except that last night I saw a dancing star in a place no star could be, magical or not, as I lay in bed beside Gwen the Beautiful in a motel room in Norman, Oklahoma, where we’d gone to visit friends.
I saw it clearly, not through the window but inside, while gazing up at the ceiling, and when I showed it to Gwen she squinted and hesitated and then made herself speak. “It’s a speck of mud, stuck on the ceiling,” she said. “I can see your eyes quivering. Maybe their movement makes it look like the speck is moving….”
Moving like a dancing star?
So here I am, in daylight now, looking up at the speck there on the ceiling and having to acknowledge that Gwen was right.
And wondering if the other dancing stars I’ve seen were real. And all the other magic as well.
Has it all been just an illusion? The result of slipping senses and an overpowering desire to believe?
I don’t know.
But I’m going to find out and report back.