Progress Sucks, Mostly



I have lived in Virginia for 51 years now, most of my adult life. I will most likely die in Virginia. Virginia is a beautiful state, rich in natural beauty, history, culture, and with wonderful people. I have seen much change during my life here. Going to 11th grade in Virginia Beach I remember how rural it all was. I used to go surfing at the Navy Dam Neck base and the road leading in was a two lane one, with a country store on the corner.

Today the areas I remember as a young man are almost unrecognizable. Progress has brought more roads, much larger roads, along with shopping malls, countless gas stations, banks, convenience stores, and housing development after housing development. Every city I have lived in in Hampton Roads has changed dramatically. Traffic has gone from a nice drive down a two lane road to a nightmare of constant traffic jams, endless tolls, and just a miserable experience trying to drive anywhere.

And for all this progress, I can honestly say that I much prefer the Hampton Roads of my youth to the monstrosity it has become. I understand that progress is inevitable, but one would hope that progress would make life more enjoyable, but that seldom seems to be the case. Progress seems to be a lopsided trade-off between improving your life and making your life miserable.

Maybe progress is not the right word, rather growth. I just wish cities would do a much better job of managing growth so that as the area where you live grows, you don’t end up becoming a stranger to the place where you have lived your entire life.

I have often thought about moving, but the fact that my entire family still lives in this area has kept me from doing that. But it is coming to the point where even that will no longer constrain me from moving.

I have lived in Chesapeake for almost 12 years now. When I moved to where I live now, there were only five houses in the area. Two of them are beautiful properties sitting on six acres combined, both with beautiful trees and dirt roads leading up to the house. The two houses on either side of me are beautiful houses too, with great neighbors.

In the 12 years that I have lived here I have seen a self-storage facility built across the road just up a block from us. Then the old farm at the end of the dead end road I live on was sold and 30 houses built on that land. Now the owners of the two properties across from me have both died and the land has been sold to the same developers, who plan on building an additional 20 homes. So I have gone from living in a beautiful, rural area to just another over-developed area of the city.

There used to be a family of foxes that lived on the land that used to be the farm. I would see them almost every day. There was also the occasional deer. Since the 30 houses were built the deer have gone, along with the foxes. Now I see an occasional fox on the two properties across from me, but soon those properties will have houses on them and the foxes will have nowhere to live.

So the transformation is complete. My neighborhood that was once a joy to live in will soon become completely unrecognizable from what it was 12 years ago. I can’t even back out of my driveway any more without having to wait for a car to go by. And what has all this progress gained for me? How has it improved my life in any way? As I get older all I want is peace and quiet, and that is becoming increasingly hard to find anywhere in Hampton Roads.

So I think I have reached the point where I may be forced to leave the area I have lived for over 50 years. Progress has driven me out finally. Don’t know where I will go, but I hope I can find a place where progress will not find me for the rest of my days.

Memorial Day and other things

Life can change so quickly. “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.” First thing, Memorial Day. Memorial Day is one of the holidays I have trouble with. It is such a sad day yet it is also a day to be proud. A day to be proud of the fine young men and women who serve our country yet be sad at the terrible loss of those same fine young men and women. Sometimes the loss is justified and sometimes the loss in needless, yet never meaningless. I fought in Vietnam and it stands out for me as one of the most needless, tragic wars in American history. So many fine young Americans sacrificed for no noble cause. They fought and died because they loved their country and each other. For no other reason, only that the lessons learned from that tragic war could possibly prevent something like that from ever happening again. Unfortunately, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that those lessons learned at such a terrible cost were ignored.

As for the riding high in April, shot down in May, I found out that my beautiful Golden Retriever Max has cancer. It is malignant and involves the liver. It is not operable but is treatable with chemo. He has been prescribed Prednisone and another Chemo drug. The Chemo drug is very expensive but that is not a consideration. The Vet told me that the median life expectancy with treatment is 18 months. Max will be 12 years old this November. I pray that he and I will have at least a couple more years together. He is my constant companion and one of my main sources of joy in this life. It is always so hard to say goodbye but I wouldn’t have missed our time together for anything. I love you Max.

The last thing is it looks like I will be moving very soon. Long story, but at least I pray this will be my forever home as I am 66 years old and don’t want to ever have to move again. So it is one of the biggest decisions of my life where to move too. I don’t need anything big or nice, just somewhere where Max and I can have some peace and quiet in our final years. Not trying to sound maudlin, just a little overwhelmed right now.

That’s about it for now. May God Bless whoever reads this. May you cherish every day and everyone in your life.

The end is in sight.

I am still in countdown mode for retirement. After today I will have one more full week of work and then 4 days until I am unemployed. I am really looking forward to being retired. Any fears I might have had are gone. It is time for me to jump off the hamster cage I have been running in for all these years. If everything goes according to plan we will be moving within a year or two to our final home where I hope to spend the rest of my days. Momentous times are ahead and I look forward to them. Last night our church performed our annual Last Supper performance. Once again I played the part of John the Younger. The performance went off well but I wish we had more people attend. The major objective of our New Beginnings program and transition team is to find ways to attract new members and keep our church vital and growing in the coming years. I only regret that I will probably not be here to see the fruits of our labors but I plan on keeping in touch with the members of the church after we move.