Past, Present, and Future

I should be in Myanmar with my family this Christmas. Two years ago, I was there with them at Christmas. Four years ago, I was there during Christmas. Eight years ago, around Christmas, I met my family for the first time. You can see a pattern develop.

However, there are four reasons for not being with my family this year. COVID-19 is still spreading death and disease throughout the world. Then there is the military coup, which is spreading fear and death in Myanmar. Additionally, I’m in the process of recovering from foot surgery, and Ginger is recovering slowly from some medical issues also.

My granddaughters and I biked around the pagodas at Bagan two years ago at Christmas. Moh Moh sent me a video of the girls biking around Inle Lake at Christmas this year, but it was without me.

Randy Pausch stated, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.” It is true. We can sit around complaining about problems we face or play the hand dealt us.

Ginger and I will spend this Christmas in America. We walked around the lake that I live on for the first time in a half dozen months due to our medical problems.

I explained to Ginger that Moh Moh entered our government’s drawing for green cards so that my family could move to America. Maybe, next year, my family will live with me on the lake. If they win the drawing, Ginger would love to have Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty walk around the lake with her. That is true, but it was below freezing in Crown Point this Christmas. While Ginger could care less, my granddaughters would prefer to wait until the spring for the walk.

Also, on Christmas Eve, Ginger opened her Christmas gift.

After Ginger’s excitement about her gift, I sat down with her just before we went to bed and explained why she got a tiger as a present.

I told Ginger that the English poet, William Blake, wrote The Tyger over two centuries ago. Back then, they spelled Tiger with a y rather than an i.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I told Ginger that I had memorized that poem when I was in high school. Interestingly, Blake addressed the same issue that Pausch did regarding playing the cards dealt you.

Equally fascinating, Blake wrote another famous poem, The Lamb. Essentially, that poem is about the innocence of a lamb, which was in juxtaposition to The Tiger.

Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice:
Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek and he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name:
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

Pausch and Blake are both helping us live our lives to the fullest. We cannot control everything in our lives. Nonetheless, we can control the way we adapt to life.