Sunday, June 19, 2011

The GAP - What Might Your Cap Read? (A Tribute to My Father)

It's fitting that after a five year absence this cap reading "Genuine Antique Person" came home to my mother last week as Father's Day neared. She and I initially found it, a prior holiday gift from my sister, in early 2006 while cleaning out my father's closet after his death. Although I took many of his clothes to the rescue mission a place to which he contributed, it didn't seem right not taking the cap where it said it needed to go, the place my father frequented when living. The tag reads:

"Genuine antique people sometimes loose track of their comings and goings and need help getting back. My name is Don Kirk. If found, please return me to the Coffee Club at the Dinner Bell Restaurant."

Yes, we took the cap to the Dinner Bell, my father's second home, a local restaurant where when not delivering the mail, riding country roads or birdwatching on his hillside porch, my father could be found in country give-and-take, sitting in circle telling stories, tall tales and real with the Coffee Club.

My mother called last week to share the story of the caps return or second return of sorts. A young man she hardly knows, a former employee of the now closed Dinner Bell, had just brought it to her. He had seen it lying around now homeless and thought she might appreciate it.

The cap reminded me of my father but also the beauty of rural folks who have been connecting through telling stories in restaurants and Sunday School, on front porches and roadsides, at ballgames and in backyards forever.

I began to ponder the word antique. In this case antique implies old, old and forgetful thus not having value. I associate antique with having value, not monetary value as much as meaning filled value.

Value's a concept as varied as people. Yet with busy lives today and our propensity for sound and sight bites over thinking, value's a concept increasingly co-opted by advertisers, politicians and political action campaigns - values-oriented organizations in name often serving as covers for the wealthy and corporations.

Recently on a road trip I saw a (corporate owned, of course) fast food restaurant selling a mini-size ice cream treat. In this era of half-gallon size soft drinks for 99 cents and cheap, jumbo, biggie, super-sized everything, I found a mini milk shake a move toward the positive until I remembered how AgriBusiness treats cows warehousing them to produce milk for corporate ice cream. Personally I find the way animals are treated today unconscionable and try to avoid buying corporate name brand milk products for this reason.

How does this relate to value? We're continually being told through commercials, ads, articles and the fair and balanced news as to what we should value and believe when each of us has the capacity and opportunity to reflect and consider what we really value.

Contrary to appearances that I'm a Genuine Antique Person (GAP) who's lost my way in the above comings and goings and need help getting back on track, I suspect GAP's know something valuable that's forgotten as we in our comings and goings are bombarded by ads and political sound bites. We're the ones often unknowingly lured off track.

Just as my father experienced connection with nature while watching birds and driving rural roads, he likewise found connection and community with others through the Coffee Club. Genuine antique people may not be tweeting or climbing corporate ladders. They may loose track of their comings and goings but in doing so many of them know the things that most deeply hold meaning. Through their quiet examples, they offer us something of value in relation to the simple savoring of life in today's busy world. I suspect my dad wasn't the only GAP who closed the gap between self and other through stories over coffee, riding rural roads, walking neighborhood streets or counting finches at the feeder.

This idea of antiques and what I value got me to thinking. What would my cap read?

"I, Dawn Kirk, happily loose track of my comings and goings. If you find me though and fear I'm lost just lean me against the nearest boulder or tree. Take me to a field where cows still graze or to a running stream or sit me in a wicker chair on my neighbor Judy's front porch where I'll happily share energy, stories, sorrows and dreams
as I'm reclaiming the value of antiquity."

I imagine a world in which we more consciously contribute to the closing of the GAP within and between. What might your cap read?
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 20 June 2011

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