Requiem for an Aircraft, Farewell to a Pilot, by Dave Norton. Updated and reprinted from the original 2001 HTML article.
The day was stiflingly warm, the sky that crystalline umbrella overhead that pilots call “Severe Clear”.
The sun of a summer solstice reflected off the concrete ramp of Chino Airport. It blasted first degree burns on the normally shaded tender skin just above my eyelids, and that of the thousands of others there for the Chino Warbirds Airshow. Brother Dan and I could feel that this was a special day, somehow, and that we were in the presence of History. We didn’t realize that this would be the greatest gathering of flying WWII combat aircraft we would ever see.
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poem by Fred Leeds
There goes Arizona.
It has not learned of Arizona from books.
It does not know its purple sunsets by hearsay.
It emanates sunsets as easily as it breathes.
Here comes Arizona.
It does not see itself in the mirror, cannot remember its own landscapes.
It becomes Arizona again each day, as if it were unsure.
It does not know that it is one of many states.
Can you see Arizona?
It lives and it dies as Arizona, determined and alone.
It is not only the Arizona that you and I know about, nor the one that others speak about, but itself.
That is its first task, of course: to fulfill itself as just one work.
Arizona is very right and very Arizona, but it is still dreaming.
One day it will catch America peering into one of its sunsets, and climbing back onto the map, it will awaken.
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A short essay by Fred Leeds
“Limitless, undying love that shines before like a million suns and calls me on and on, across the universe…” — John Lennon, “Across the Universe”
Dedicated to both John Lennon and George Harrison
Essay by Fred Leeds
To tell the plain truth, I still love the Beatles. This little essay is an attempt to explain to myself, as much as any reader, their unique appeal. The essay is written from an amateur’s point of view.
The key to the Beatles’ success lay in the combined artistry of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, a rare harmony of unique traits. McCartney’s conventional musical genius and Lennon’s searching originality made for a truly one-of a-kind sound. McCartney contributed an abiding sense of beauty (lyrical and melodic), while Lennon contributed a groundbreaking innovation and insight. Through their music, they show a combined faith in truth and beauty that Keats himself would have been proud of.
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A vignette by Fred Leeds
Let’s compare the human community to a house, a sort of building. Within this building there dwells a spirit – no, not a ghost, but a real and living being. The being is called our shared humanity. The building springs to new life as the human individual – each and every one of us – is born. Like a door opening on eternity, it bridges time to embrace all lives at once. All of humanity passes through in the form of every human being, each and every life in turn…
This community of ours should be just such a place – a place for living, a house come alive. I hope that you agree, dear reader, and that between us we can build it.
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A Soul Adventure by Fred Leeds
One: Two Dreams
Tom is dreaming again. Though he is a lonesome, nervous man, Tom has learned to sink his mind in a river of time. In his current series of dreams, others are crying out to him for a better world.
Tonight’s dream opens on a striking scene. A grassy field appears exactly at noon, each blade of grass glowing like crystal in the sun. Many creatures hobble forward all at once, surfacing from underground. They are hominoid but shapeless, like things not yet born. Tom hears something crying out in his mind, a combination of their half-shaped voices. Below the din, he hears the music of a humanity already secure.
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by Fred Leeds
Eyes are funny things. Everybody gets a different pair of physical eyes, of course, with physical colors that may be blue, green or brown. The mind’s eye, the thing called perspective, is even more special, however. Each person’s perspective is a shade different from that of others, just different enough to shed light on what the others don’t see. The individual way we see things, while partial to us, makes a vital contribution to human perspective as a whole.
Amy is too kind-hearted, everyone agrees. She has too much empathy, lacks judgment in judging others. While this is her flaw, it is her asset too, as she leaves room for those persons others would throw away, lending new hope to the unwanted person in each of us. The quality hidden within her sensitivity is something her friends know about first-hand.
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by Fred Leeds
I am seeking a bird called Winged Harmony, a creature little known to the world. He is reputed to live in the East, far from everyday things. I have been told that Winged Harmony offers a key to peace in the world by bringing peace to the heart of individuals.
The only way to contact Winged Harmony is through a dream. He knows I have been seeking him, and he sings to me one night in my dream. I translate the musical notes into thoughts: “Do not worry anymore about being confirmed by others. The group will not find peace except through the interior, the corridor of true selves which makes it up.”
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by Fred Leeds
It is my belief that we can form much better friendships by seeing ourselves as interrelated, complete in each other. This requires us to show more vulnerability, an approach thought dangerous in many circles. There is a concept in psychology known as the inner child. The exaggerated wording shows how much difficulty we have in addressing normal vulnerabilities. As living beings, we go on developing throughout our lives, but the public requires us to put on a constant face. The trick is to avoid tripping each other up with our faces, to remain human and connected in our feelings.
As we get older, we learn that our dreams and ideals belong to childhood, and bury them inside.
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by Fred Leeds
Like musical jazz, mind jazz stresses the offbeat. The goal is to get you to think about old ideas in new ways. Mind jazz is usually taken as a mistake at first. That is because it jars on the ear that sticks to the original phrases. Mind jazz is a rebel’s language and an English teacher’s nightmare. Here are some examples:
Happy-go-lacky describes a person who becomes a servant to others by not taking things seriously. This is especially fitting in our cash-on-the barrelhead society, morally on the lookout for the lackadaisacal.
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by Fred Leeds
I noticed yesterday how new things can get our attention by seeming out of order. Someone handed me a plate with two slices of cheesecake. They said they both were New York cheesecake, but one had strawberry. The one with strawberry wasn’t your standard, garden-variety cheesecake, you see. No, we saw, it was an altogether odd thing, something unheard of. Strawberry, New York, we came to call it: a very special slice of reality, partly a place, partly a flavor. If it weren’t for its new identity, it would just have been plain old cheesecake, a part of the Old World, where only duller taste buds travel. We visited it every day at the soda shop, spinning in our stools curiously like explorers.
Things in order seem commonplace. When you arrive at our “Strawberry, New York,” you encounter not just cheesecake, but a world. Join me there and I’ll tip my fork to you – if it doesn’t turn into a spaceship and carry us palates beyond.
Oh, by the way: Everyday cheesecake can be good, too.
Fred Leeds ©2009
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