Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, June 26, 2017



 I’m sitting in the coffee shop, listening to Otis Redding’s rendition of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” I’ve always enjoyed it, just listening to the rhythms, and his voice. Today, though, I’m listening to the words, and hearing even more sadness than Otis’ voice tears out by itself. “I’ve got nothing to live for, looks like nothing’s going to come my way.”

Otis died in a plane crash only a few days after he recorded that song. I hope people were kind to him in those few days. We need kindness all the time, but especially when we’re thinking “nothing’s going to come my way,” when we’re sitting on the edge, all alone.

So many old people are not kind. I suppose many are just being consistent; they’ve never been kind. Others don’t feel good, and it’s hard to be kind to others when the world is not being kind to you. We have a lot of aches and pains. We also have a lot of loneliness and depression. “I’ve got nothing to live for, looks like nothing’s going to come my way.” That could be the anthem for the aged, at least for many. So, in pain or in malice or in self-centeredness, we say and do things that hurt.

My mother adored her older sister, Virginia. She gave her older daughter the middle name of Virginia to honor her. But when their mother died, a time that is hard for everyone in a family, a time when it’s especially important to be kind, my mother became unhappy with Aunt Ginny about something. I remember the look on Aunt Ginny’s face when Mother said, to her: “If I never see you again, it will be too soon.”

It’s very difficult to be kind to those who are unkind to us. Fortunately, though, Aunt Ginny understood my mother. She knew that Mother would forget about it, whatever “it” was that upset her, if Aunt Ginny continued to be kind to her.

Some old people say that life is too short now to waste time being kind to idiots. I understand that. I’m less patient with stupidity, especially willful ignorance, as I grow older. But life is too short now to waste it with unkind words or actions or even thoughts. Any time I’m being unkind, I’m wasting my life, my precious final days.

I’m sitting on the dock of the bay, looking out at a vast ocean of future life about which I know nothing. I need a kind heart to come my way. If no one else’s heart comes your way, it’s okay to let your own heart be kind to you.


I tweet as yooper1721.

Guitarist Steve Cropper helped Otis in the writing of the song.

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