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2018: Transitions, Cessations, and Resumptions

The big 75th-year signpost is dead ahead in January, and this old frame and motor has really begun to reveal its wear and tear.  The latest, following on the heels of a prostate cancer diagnosis (the “watchful waiting” variety), was the sudden appearance of atrial flutter, a rapid and irregular pulse.  One can adjust and learn to cope with a good many types of maladies, but a heart ailment blows away one’s equanimity—everything else and every moment being fully dependent upon the maintenance of “the beat.”  To wit, last summer a friend walked out his back door to observe the flowers in his garden and instead encountered a coffin.  Quick as the flipping of a light switch to off.  And that brings the observant thinker naturally and unavoidably to a solemn state of contemplation and a certain value realignment.

Over the past two years, a great many of my blog posts have dealt with current affairs and contemporary cultural imbroglios, often accompanied in their creation by my pique of consternation and the deferment of other longer-range writing projects.  What was said was hailed by those who agreed, but ignored by those who didn’t.  The needle of enlightenment seemed not to budge either way.  And perhaps that emotional drain has, indeed, taken a physical toll.  My heart may be sending me a message.  Perhaps it’s time for a sea change.

So now I have a confession to make.  The nation and the world I presently view about me, through whatever lens I may choose to employ, makes—so far as I’m concerned—absolutely no rational sense whatsoever.  I’m reminded of the Greek mythological creature Aethon who, driven to madness, devoured himself.  That, in my humble opinion, is what I witness humanity fully engaged in today.  A video circulating on the Internet documents a street protest in San Francisco where a naked woman is railing about an anti-nudity ordinance while wearing a necklace depicting a swastika embedded within a Star-of-David symbolizing a movement (Raëlians) that believes humans were created by visiting extraterrestrials.  And so, I’m tempted to declare, as an artistic outsider in a Perry Mason episode once opined, “I repudiate everything!”

I came of age in a time of cultural upheaval, the sixties, but the opposing views of that age, however misguided some might have been, possessed a definite logical rationale.  We knew why we did what we did.  Now, however, a majority of the country resembles the lament regarding the younger generation by one Kenneth John Freeman in his dissertation (often misattributed to Socrates): “The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise.”  Unfortunately, it would seem that similar unhinged impudence, and far worse, has spread way beyond simply the youth.  Consequently, I intend in the new year to refocus my writing efforts to times and places, through the prism of memory, that I understand.  Experiences I wish to preserve.  On the people I’ve met along the way who have, for one reason or another, left the deepest impressions on me.  And gifted me an abiding sense of gratitude.

My memoir-in-progress, working title Blossoms on the Vine, has for far too long been given short shrift—and that’s going to change.  Selected excerpts were published in my 2015 book The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.  Those were often some of the most popular pieces, judging by reader response.  Going forward I intend to post chapters, as they’re completed, on my blog, and, as always, welcome comments and suggestions.  That, such as it is, might be labeled my only 2018 New Year’s resolution.

My dearest Dee is a firm believer that we humans on average are allotted 2.21 billion heart beats in a lifetime.  Having been reminded of late that I’ve used up a goodly number, I’m not inclined to fritter away any more by squandering my time and ability addressing god-awful “resistance” debates.  After all, who knows when the powers that be will cut the switch.  I would hope to avoid the fate of my old literary mentor who, upon his untimely and unexpected death, was said to have tragically left behind so much work “on the table.”  Why, for a writer, that’s a fate worse than death!

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Mark Scheel
Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. He attended both Kansas State University and The University of Kansas, majoring in psychology and English. Prior to writing full time he served overseas with the American Red Cross in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany and England, taught at Emporia State University and was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. His stories, articles and poems have appeared in numerous magazines including The Little Balkans Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, The Kansas City Star, Heritage of Kansas, Samisdat, and Poet as well as many sites online such as Common Ground News. His literary activities have also involved membership in The Kansas Authors Club, a seat on the board of directors for Potpourri Publications Company and an editorial position with Kansas City Voices magazine. He co-authored the book Of Youth and the River: the Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr., and his collection of stories and poems, A Backward View, was awarded the 1998 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award. His most recent book is titled The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.

6 comments to 2018: Transitions, Cessations, and Resumptions

  • Ricardo

    Good luck to you your health and your endeavors, Sr. Scheel.

  • Ricardo,

    That’s much appreciated. See a cardiologist Thursday, but I’m hoping pills and grace will give me a good many more miles! 🙂


  • Mark,
    Sounds like medication for your heart condition or maybe a pacemaker but I’m not a Doctor I only play one here from time to time. I agree with your change of focus as I remember that a history professor in college told us. “The world is always going to hell in an hand basket it just never quite gets there.” Things were always just a crazy they just weren’t on TV, the internet our phones and Ipads and we didn’t hear about it every two minutes. We in turn could blissfully assume things were going well or “the universe was unfolding as it should.”
    Keep us posted.

  • Mark, as someone (older than you) who has lived with a leaking aortic heart valve for the past 9+ years, I not only empathize with you, but urge you to educate yourself about heart disease in addition to consulting your cardiologist. I highly recommend a book titled NO MORE HEART DISEASE by Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine. By following the program laid out by Dr. Ignarro these past 9 years, I have stabilized my heart condition without undergoing the valve replacement surgery initially urged by my cardiologist, whom I continue to see annually and who is amazed that all tests show that my condition hasn’t regressed since his initial diagnosis.

    Good luck with your memoir, and let me know if you have any questions.

  • Hey Don,

    I think you’re offering an astute observation from the old college professor! By damn, I just may use that in some future post–with attribution to you, of course. LOL

    Happy New Year,


  • Hi Muse,

    As the old Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler commercial used to conclude: “And we thank you for your support!” 😉 I had an encounter with atrial flutter in 2009 and the docs were able to restore a normal beat. So, we’ll see what is recommended this go around, but I’m definitely going to check out your book recommendation. Thank you, thank you, good sir.

    And an extended happy New Year,


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