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And, in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
By Lennon-McCartney, Beatles
When I awoke at 4:00 a.m., realizing it’s March 1 now, I had to check on my phone to see if there was a story from Jonathan, signaling the final curtain for posting stories on Cowbird.
Instead, I found CowgirlRose’s heartwarming story. I, of course, could not go back to sleep after reading that. I could really use another hour or two, as I’ve been gong to bed a little later at night this week, and usually letting myself sleep until 5 or 5:30.
But it’s March 1st, and Cowbird is still open for business. I know, I know, this is the day, it’s going to happen today, I have no doubt about that. Jonathan just didn’t say at what point on March 1st this would happen, so I’m just doing what I’ve done, for the most part, for close to five years now.
It’s 4:15 a.m., and I’m composing a story for Cowbird. According to the counter, this is story number 1942, but according to my counter, it’s number 1945. The difference, I think, is those 4 Hank’s Journey stories I took down, because a character too closely resembled a real life individual who read them, and asked me to take her character out.
I was missing some details about the character that changed the context of what happened to them, details I was unaware of when I wrote the stories, but critical details, nonetheless. She didn’t want her stuff out there like that, which I completely understood – in fact, I was mortified that something I’d written had hurt someone I knew and loved like those stories did her, so I just took the stories with a reference to her down, with the plan to eventually rewrite them with her character out of them. I only got around to rewriting one of the four.
I have already begun reconstructing that series over on Medium. That works, because then I can include the reconstructed missing stories in the proper order in the series, so they’ll have appropriate context for the reader.
Funny, of all the stories, most of which were actual life experience, not fiction based on life experience, it would be the fiction ones that would get a reaction like that. I’ve often wondered who from my past is going to come out of the woodworks and have a problem with something I wrote. I’m glad there weren’t more. There have been a number of people in my past who have enjoyed my stories of earlier times. So, that part’s been fun.
It has been a great ride, here on Cowbird. In addition to my 1945 stories as Hawkeye Pete Egan B., I posted a total of 32 under another account that carried a variety of different names through the years – first, it was LivN42day, then Mr. Bojangles, then Martin James, and finally, Phaedrus. The Martin James was a nod to my great grandfather, Martin Hager, the one from the Civil War, and James was my dad’s first name. Once I changed it to Phaedrus, it stuck. The only stories from that account that still reside on Cowbird are the ones I penned under the Phaedrus tag.
I also transcribed and posted 28 stories that my dad wrote and sent around to all of us in the form of a book of stories he entitled “Random Thoughts of a 75 Year Old”, his memoirs in the form of stories. They were posted under a third account in his name, “Jim Bridgeman”.
So, all in all, this will be my 2,005th story posted on Cowbird, if I’m able to post it before the curtain falls. However, I am not rushing the telling. I have a backup plan. If I miss the cutoff for Cowbird, I’ll post it, post-curtain fall, on Medium. Either way, there is a way.
Medium is actually serving as our Interim Place, wonderfully so, as Fellow Traveler and Jean Claude have so lovingly paved the way for the rest of us who have gone over there, and made us all feel most welcome, by making it easy to connect there, and on MeWe. They’ve shared the space, and provided many tips for getting used to what’s new and different there, which has been a real gift, one that I greatly appreciate.
We’ve even had our first “dust-up” over there (that I’m aware of), which means it’s real – we’re “forming”, “norming” amd "storming", things that happen when people come together in community. We’re not just making shit up, we’re a real community. I love it! The dust-up itself wasn’t fun, but in real communities, stuff like that happens. We get through it, hopefully without too many bruises, and we grow stronger from it.
We certainly had our share of those here. Believe me, I know. Somehow, I always seemed to wind up in the middle of many of them. After surviving an epic one that I was one of the “duster-uppers” involved, it seemed that I would become the one who tried to bring calm and understanding to the situation. Some were calling me Sherrif Hawkeye for awhile there. It was a role I never sought out, but if it meant helping a fellow ‘Birder get through the drama, and come out of it still willing to return for more stories and sharing, I didn’t mind. I was happy to do whatever I could to keep the community spirit of Cowbird alive, and healthy. This place has meant the world to me, and I learned a long time ago, that if you want something in your life, sometimes you need to do whatever it takes to create it, and to nurture and support it.
As the curtain comes down on Cowbird, I can honestly, and with a good conscience, say, that I left it all out on the field of play, here. I put everything that I had into this community, and I got back, for my efforts, a hundred-fold, maybe a thousand-fold, of what I put into it. The friendships, the countless ways in which many of you have touched my heart, and my soul, have made me a most wealthy man.
In many ways, I grew up here. I got to relive a lot of my earlier life dramas, in full “life review” fashion, as suggested by Stephen Levine’s “A Year To Live” book, and many of you shared in that journey through the past. I got to sort through present day dramas at work, many of which didn’t make sense to me at the time, but which I documented as they unfolded, here, and looking back at those stories now, I have a record of what went down, how it affected me, and where it led to.
Family deaths, vacation journeys, including our “hurrication”, when we spent a week in Paradise (“stranded” in Disneyland’s Paradise Pier hotel, where we were put up for a mere $90 bucks a night, waiting out Hurricane Sandy, at the end of a two week Hawaiian Cruise). Sharing the joys of fatherhood, the sunset years of my Softball Playing Career in my “Diamond Gems” collection, including several championship moments.
The only thing better than having a moment like I had in the first championship team I ever played on – running in from deep in right field, the game, the season, the championship, all on the line with that one play, and making that catch, against all odds, losing my mind as I realized I had finally made it, I was finally a champion, the only thing better than that – was writing about it, and sharing that moment here, with all of you. That made it all the more worth living it.
I’ll never forget the likes of Alex Noble, Jaga Argentum, and Rain (Ray Neighbor), three Cowbirders who had a profound influence on me, early on, and helped make me a better storyteller. Even more than that, they all helped make me a better person. They freely gave of their gifts, and I learned a lot from each of them. From each of you.
Earlier, I mentioned that Medium was serving as the Interim Place for us. That’s because the group that tried to keep Cowbird going, in some form or fashion, is still committed to coming up with whatever the logical Next Step for this community of storytelling is to be. They (we) are still committed to putting something together – if not with the bones of Cowbird, which has been ruled out, then it will be built from scratch – because, we have a vision for how what got started here, can be built upon and made even better than this.
I’m with them in spirit, if not in any of the actual structural building of the bones of that new place. I’m not that kind of builder. I don’t kid myself that I know enough to be able to build that kind of thing from scratch. I apparently am handy with a tool, here and there, when it comes to community building within a structure that is already there, or soon to be there. When they build it, I will be there. If there’s any way that I can help, I will do my bit. As long as there are stories to be told, I’ll be willin’.