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The Tow-Head Gang

tow-head gang

A rare photo of the little known Tow-Head Gang in the early years. The gang was last seen looking out the back window of a red and white ’57 Ford Fairlane, as it sped west on a rural Texas Panhandle road. Rumor has it they settled in Buckeye, Arizona where they lived a quiet–though somewhat tumultuous–life before dispersing sometime in the late ’60s. You can read more about them in the book, “Just A Boy”, written by the surly, yet loveable, leader of the group, Charles. He’s the bad-looking hombre on the right.

CharlesLMashburn.com

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No Place Was Home

I discovered too late—it seems only moments ago—that there is a troubling downside to the wandering life I’ve led, where no place was truly home. A life that—in the end—leaves one feeling very much alone and truly homeless. For a tree cannot grow strong branches—branches being the friendships we develop in our lives—when it is constantly removing and leaving them behind. A tree, in fact, cannot be strong when it is constantly uprooted and asked to grow and flourish in a new place. Limbs die, and though they are replaced with new growth, the new ones seem never to be strong, easily broken, and in truth, receive not enough nurturing or care to ever survive. Which is of no consequence when the tree is surely to be moved again. Even the roots—the things that are family—grow weak from the constant transplanting. And so… the oft-moved tree is destined to be alone, supported and kept alive by the tap-root, which is self, and is enough to nourish existence, but in the end merely allows survival, not fruitful life.

neighbor's tree (2) quote

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Drifting

Maybe it’s a good thing—this new way we’re living. Actually, we’re not even sure it’s a new thing. Maybe, like my grandpa used to say, it’s the same thing only different. It’s kind of like riding a makeshift raft down a slow-moving river. Bumping into the shore now and then, sometimes spinning slowly, then finding the middle of the stream and moving on. We’re not sure where the stream will carry us to, but we trust it will be a good place. Our faith is strong—most of the time—but we admit it fades now and then. We explain away the dimming of our faith by saying it’s merely wondering. Wondering what lies ahead, not afraid of it really, just curious. That’s what we say—but only to ourselves; in our thoughts. But when the raft bumps hard on the shore or spins ‘round too many times, it’s hard not to grab onto the edge and even harder not to shout out. But…

lazy river quote

They were there when this journey began. Too many to count lined the shore, wishing us safe travels, telling us it would all be good—whatever it was—and wherever we landed. “We’ll pray!” they shouted as the current pulled us down the stream. And I’m sure they did. But they’re gone now. Or maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re the ones that left, and maybe we want it this way. We’ve always loved to travel, leaving the past and moving on to the next thing. And the next. Taking no one with us, but promising to stay in touch, which we seldom did.

Well… at least the current is slow. And… we don’t have to worry about daylight savings time.

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Beautiful Exiles

beautiful exiles

Beautiful Exiles

I’m currently reading Meg Waite Clayton’s, Beautiful Exiles, a novel about Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Gellhorn, also an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.

I’m paraphrasing the following from a passage in the book, simply because it rings so true to me. Especially regarding my autobiography, Just A Boy: When a writer, more so if he’s an amateur like me, lets go of a book, he does so, knowing all the wrong in it will forever be wrong. And even the bits—and it truly seems it’s only bits—that are good and right leave your soul ripped out of your chest and placed on the page to be examined by anyone who cares to read them.

This—to me anyway—rings even more true today than it did in the days of Hemingway and Gellhorn. Thanks mostly to the Internet, which has given license to “perform” to anyone—me included—who dares take their shot at writing, singing, comedy, art, et al. It’s a good thing but also a very bad thing. Good, in the sense we can take our shot, but bad in the sense that so can millions of others, and the odds of being “shot down” are high.

I’m not complaining, or excusing my lack of success, I’m merely trying to convey how this feels—this writing thing. I’ve often said that to write, one must be either very intelligent or somewhat insane. I’ve decided I’m just smart enough… to be fool enough… to write.

Here’s a list of links to my published works:

Just A Boy

Just A Man

Be Still

Juli

Shelter

The Devil’s Dust

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I Can’t Stop the Bleeding

At that moment I was twelve going on twenty. I’d jumped so far forward in life my head was spinning but, in a strange way, it was all starting to make sense. But it was making sense in a way that made no sense at all. As I looked across the table at my mom, her tears dripping onto the Formica-topped kitchen table, I wondered about love, I wondered about God, I wondered what life was all about. And as all these things raced around in my mind, they began to form the new me—the soon-to-be-a-man me. I suddenly realized, and I admit a tinge of fear accompanied the thought, that I had to—somehow—protect my mom, my brothers, and my sister. From my dad.

~~~~~

The above is an excerpt from a book I began writing last November. I abruptly stopped writing the book, due to a very unexpected circumstance. Most of you are aware of what happened but if not, you can read my post, The World Stopped Turning, for the details. But there’s more to it than that. I simply didn’t, and still don’t, know if I can write the rest of this story.

But, a few days ago, I began reading a book, not by but about, Ernest Hemingway. As I read it, I was inspired, not by his talent, or his person, but by his pain. He was a tormented man, and he was not afraid to display his frailty to the world. He said this about writing:clouds and mountains HemingwayI’m certainly no Hemingway, but I bleed, and I cannot stop the bleeding. I’ll let you know when the book is finished.

Just A Boy

 

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The New Normal

My friend, Diana Preston, recently used the phrase “new normal” regarding life after her battle with cancer and life after my wife, Sherry’s, recent medical emergency. I didn’t like it. Another friend used it a few days later, then Diana said it again in a comment to one of my posts about Sherry’s road to recovery. The post is entitled, “The Same Thing… Only Different.” HA! Imagine my surprise when it hit me that “the new normal” was indeed, the same thing only different. The following is Diana’s comment, and my response:

Diana said

February 2, 2019 @ 8:33 am · Edit

I have a new normal after cancer. I think it’s true you can’t totally go back … as a person is changed after such an event…. As life is even more priceless… I have become more thankful…

charlesmashburn said

February 2, 2019 @ 8:47 am · Edit

I agree, Diana. Things like cancer and traumatic events change us–sometimes in an instant–and our lives will sometimes be altered forever. But I also believe the new normal can be an even better normal than the previous one. An example being your words, “I have become more thankful.” Sometimes the calamities of life bring us to a fuller appreciation of it, and we’re able to focus on our blessings. I’ve also learned that when we are on the outside watching our loved ones go through these things, we too are changed. We learn to appreciate the blessings of the friends and family we’ve been given to share our lives with, and we see them as the precious and valuable gifts they are.

~~~~~~~~

Yes, life throws us fastballs, curves and change-ups. The key is to know nothing can be thrown at us that we cannot handle. We might have to take a pitch or two, and we might sometimes swing and miss, but we must never give up.  We should dig in and get ready to knock the next pitch out of the park. And, hey, if your new normal is a single… nothing wrong with that. You’re on base and in the game. Maybe one of your friends/teammates/loved ones will knock it out of the park and you’ll both score.

wherever you are

 

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Obsessing Still

Obsessing Still

 

In my youth I was obsessed

The automobile and its awesome power

Owned me

Its only rival the music that

Moved me

Or… were they partners in the game 

Both have ceased to call to me

 

jbs house (2) quote

Breathing deep of the unseen rose

While gazing at silhouettes on smooth water

As daylight bows to night

 

In the void, seeking; sometimes finding

Blessed inner peace

Wanting nothing more

Hoping for nothing less

Obsessing on its promised caress

All else… scattering in the road

Behind me

 

Now and then, glancing up to the mirror

Watching… as the silent movie plays

Parts and pieces bouncing and tumbling

Into the muddy ditch of the past

Once filled with the raging waters

Of my life

 

Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

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